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Women

on Sunday drives, friendship and Chocolate

Three and a half years ago I  signed up for a women’s workshop across the state.   Intuitively I was hoping for a positive experience and,  looking back , I still am reaping the benefits.

Yes! Google.images.com

A two-hour drive there and back gave me time to prepare – and – time to reflect on all I’d learned.

I remember my nervous stomach lurching as I entered the Inn.  Soon my worries fell away as the facilitator wrapped me in a warm embrace.  Before long I was chatting with others and shyly stepping forward to share experiences.

One woman spoke to what we’ve all endured ~ the cattiness of other women.. and her fears about attending: would we be any different?  Could we be trusted?   She spoke of her losses and her triumphs and how those experiences had prepared her to be exactly where she was right now … and we found ourselves nodding in agreement. Church was in session and I was in the front pew!

Across from me sat Diane, a bubbly and energetic woman with very expressive hands – she patiently listened to everyone but when I asked her our table’s question: “what are you naturally good at” her eyes firmly met mine and she confidently said, “I’m very creative.”  When women speak their truth, have you ever noticed body language shifts and they lean into the answer? I l-o-v-e that.

Well, flash forward a few years and today, a work event scheduled for tomorrow means I need to travel across the state today – to the same general area where the workshop was held.

And who am I meeting for dinner?

Diane, my creative friend with the very expressive hands, who now runs a successful home decor business!  

We’ll hug and laugh and share our stories, updates and dreams and, for just a little while, we’ll savor being in the sacred space where friendship lives.  And it very well may be accompanied by some chocolate.

 “There is nothing better than a friend, unless it is a friend with chocolate.”  Linda Grayson

What’s the last adventure you said YES to? 

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Random 5 *Vacation* Friday

It’s Friday, the last Friday of October (what??) so it’s probably time for 5 randoms from my world.

1)  Recently my job took me to Charlotte, N.C.; before my conference began I made time to visit the Billy Graham Library – the library sits on beautiful grounds.  I found the opportunity to review his life’s work inspiring.  When a volunteer offered to pray for me at the end of the tour I felt myself overcome with emotion ~ while the conference was eventful, that visit, and her prayers, were life-affirming.

  • “I have never known a man who received Christ and ever regretted it.” – Billy Graham

2 )  Last Tuesday I turned on the out-of-office messages, walked away and managed to stay offline for over a week.  It helped that I was visiting on family farms with 1 cell bar and limited broadband.    Disconnecting  so as to reconnect … ahh.

3 )  The November Primary is fast approaching ~ between Robocalls, political ads and door stuffers, we’re bombarded with information.  Last night, the phone rang as the doorbell chimed ~ I answered the door to find two young and cheerful volunteers stumping for a Congressional candidate.  Neither could answer my questions about the candidate’s position on various issues but the handout they gave me was a glossy full-color job.   Maybe it’s me but if I were knocking on doors for someone I’d make sure I knew what they stood for.

  • Stand your ground; it’s sacred.

4 )  On vacation I went to bed late, got up early, walked a lot, talked more and enjoyed some pie.  No regrets.

  • “Stress cannot exist in the presence of a pie.” ― David Mamet

5 ) Visiting my childhood home again something jumped out at me: the moon.  That big Harvest Moon.  And not just the brightness but the nearness of it.

Taken in the valley south of North Battleford, Saskatchewan. Photo by Jeff Wizniak

  • Three things cannot be long hidden:  the sun, the moon and the truth. -Buddha

 * * * * * * * * *

I’m on vacation still and was wide awake at 5:30 this morning ~  Coffee up!

So, what’s new in your world?

 

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Somebody giving back in

Growing up us girls would help as Mom and Aunt Irene packed for the field: Mason Jars of lemonade or iced tea, a pot of stew or chicken & dumplings wrapped in newspaper +a wool blanket before tucking all of it into a box in the trunk of the Oldsmobile. Nothing about this was disposable, Corelle traveled to the field, too.  Real silverware, coffee cups and cotton napkins.  As we’d head out,  our cars smelling of stew, fresh bread and pie, we’d wave to the men in the field.  As a child it was an adventure; for them, it was a lot of hard work and careful planning.

~ a typical scene from my childhood ~

Feeding and caring like this is an act of love and they did it well.

Combining under a Harvest Moon ~

Upon our arrival, the men would take their break and drive over to meet us, dust accompanying their arrival.  They’d wash their hands and splash their faces using water from the Igloo cooler then sit cross legged in the stubble as they dunked fresh buns into steaming bowls of soup, stew or chili.   Conversations ensued about what was done, what was left and what was coming next. Before long they’d stand and into their bowls would land a slab of pie or a piece of cake or maybe both.  Leaning against the trucks’ end gate they’d savor dessert and coffee before handing back the bowls, giving thanks for the meal, and heading back to work.

an Emjayandthem(C) Flapper pie

We’d pack up and, with a farm dog in tow, head back to the house to plan for the next round.

Family in the field – from L-R : Grandpa, Uncle Harley, Dad and Uncle Jarl ~ An Emjayandthem (C) Photo

Thanks for the meal, here’s a song that is real, from the kid from the city to you ~ and Cheers to the unsung heroines of the Prairie ~ the women who made the breaks wonderful.

Dusty old farmer out working your fields
Hanging down over your tractor wheels
The sun beatin’ down turns the red pain to orange
And rusty old patches of steel
There’s no farmer songs on that car radio
Just cowboys, truck drivers and pain
Well this is my way to say thanks for the meal
And I hope there’s no shortage of rain
Straw hats and old dirty hankies
Moppin’ a face like a shoe
Thanks for the meal here’s a song that is real
From a kid from the city to you
The combines gang up, take most of the bread
Things just ain’t like they used to be
Though your kids are out after the American dream
And they’re workin in big factories
Now If I come on by, when you’re out in the sun
Can I wave at you just like a friend
These days when everyone’s taking so much
There’s somebody giving back in
Straw hats and old dirty hankies
Moppin’ a face like a shoe
Thanks for the meal here’s a song that is real
From a kid from the city to you
Songwriters: Murray Mclaughlan
Have you ever had a meal in a field?  
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Exercise, Having fun and the “To Be” List

They say everything adds up and indeed it does.

In late June I started tracking my steps/normal activity + bouncing regularly on my Rebounder (indoor trampoline).  And no, it was nothing more than a realization that I was sitting too much and moving too little.

  • You won’t get the butt you want sitting on the one you’ve got!  😉

As background, I’ve been bouncing on and off since last Fall, but I finally committed to a regular schedule after joining a “Bounce Daily for 30 Days” challenge in a Rebounding Facebook Group {{ see, there can be good things in FB-land, not just political rants, recipes involving cheese or personality quizzes!}}

My beautiful bouncy Bellicon rebounder!

Since June 21 I’ve amassed 452K steps= 186 miles, and 18 hours of it is just from bouncing!

  • I like keeping track because keeping track keeps me accountable. I also like visuals, stats and bright colors.

But – as has been the norm for most of my adult career life, I get sucked into conference calls, long drives, last minute projects and fire drills … so when I finally arrive at home I’d come in all sloth-like.  I’d give hubby a passing “hi,” stumble my way through supper, slink into a book and head off soon for bed.

Kind of like our friend the Sloth below, moving at the speed of mud:

Not anymore.

With few exceptions, now, after work, I change into “home” workout gear (the not cute kind but no one sees so who cares kind!) – old jersey shorts, a soft tank top, sports bra and light runners (You can bounce barefoot but I have one wayward foot that pronates when I do. I call her Nancy. ).  I put my hair up, set a timer, crank up the tunes …. and work my way backwards – Example:

  • A Kitchen timer is typically set for 45 minutes
    • (When I started I could barely do 7 minutes. 45 mins is 6x that – SHAZAM!)
  • Before I know it the 35 minute mark comes around.
    • While I’m bouncing to Barry White, Al Green or Elvis Presley, in a blink there’s just 20 minutes to go.
  • 20 Minutes! Meh – here comes Tom Petty, The Temptations, Three Dog Night,  Mandisa or The Beatles
    • Soon only 7 minutes remain. …. what’s that you say?
  • 7 minutes? Heck that’s 2 songs . .. Rock N Roll!
    • Beep beep, timer chirps and I’m bouncing, sweaty, smiling and happy;
      • You’re welcome for the tour of the Olympic Stadium housing my mind games! 

But, here’s the thing – those little mind games work.

Every. Single.  Time.

Because rather than announcing that I’ll “get 20 minutes in” … like it’s a hill to climb on the boring old dreadmill (that I’d likely skip) instead I imagine myself at the top of the curving hill … bouncing my way on down.  Yay!

Rebounding is THIS MUCH fun!

While bouncing I experience the following:

  • Thinking, remembering and plotting
  • Losing myself in a song,
  • Laughing to a memory,
  • Gnashing through a mistake
  • Marveling at my endurance, coordination and strength
  • Smiling loudly, sorting stuff out, thinking ahead
  • Daydreams
  • Epiphanies ping-ponging past me

See, it was while bouncing that I glanced at my 2018 Vision Board — the same one my Inner Lizard had harped at me to take down.   I heard her biting remarks – it’s soooo stupid, nothing’s gonna change, take it down, it looks like a grade-school girl made it … etc etc etc.

Then I read it again.

And with my hair flying,  my face sweaty and everything I had in full bounce, I might have cried just a little when I recognized six key words I’d cut out of a magazine last December:

  • FIND A WORKOUT YOU DON’T HATE

2018 Vision Board coming to life

So I ask you: is the exercise you’re doing fun?   Because if you’re not having fun I’m guessing you’re not doing it. Or you won’t be doing it (whatever “it” is) much longer.

It’s time to mix it up, I double-dog dare ya! And write a “To Be” list while you’re at it 🙂


*** What's on your "to be" list?*** 
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Random 5 Friday ~ Coffee, Peace, Votes and Rats

Random 5 Friday.  Ready? Set — Go!

1 )  This picture, taken at night in my home province of Saskatchewan, Canada, brings me peace.  I cannot look at those stars and not believe.

Photo Credit to Gerry Pocha

2 ) There was risk of a rat sighting today.  While I am thankful for the heads-up, my skin prickled at the mention and, thankfully, I dodged the interaction.  🙂    See once you’ve lived/worked/endured rat behavior – years can pass and your tail will still twitch at the memories a bad experience left on your soul.

3 ) Yesterday was National Book Day (should be a holiday, I’m just saying…. ).  Saw this and just had to share:

The greatest gift is the passion for reading. It is cheap, it consoles, it distracts, it excites, it gives you knowledge of the world and experience of a wide kind. It is a moral illumination.” — Elizabeth Hardwick

4 ) Autumn is sneaking in.  Know how I know?  Mornings are just slightly darker.  On weekdays I am always up by 6:00 or sooner — now, it’s like August arrived and the sun decided to sleep in.  Seriously, there’s been a turn and I feel it most in the mornings.  Coffee up!

5 )  The August Primary took place earlier this week.  Whenever I get to vote, I think of Mom & Dad … they were both so passionate about voting and never missed an opportunity to take part. One time, because of bad weather & greasy roads, their only way out was to drive the tractor a mile & a half to the highway where they were met by Dad’s brother & sister-in-law – all four rode together into town to vote.  Open-air tractor or not, Mom grabbed her red patent leather purse and hopped on. I can just see it, the two of them heading off up the hill.     Man, I miss them. ❤

Mom and Dad with one of their winning horses – and a date night. An Emjayandthem(C) photo

 

Did you celebrate National Book Day, too? 

Ran into any rats lately? 

Seeing signs of Autumn where you are?

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Sunshine, questions and a big juicy life

A while back, a blogging friend Dor, awarded me the “Sunshine Blogger Award” – this award is as special as sunshine on my shoulders, sunshine on my toes… Or saying my future’s so bright I just gotta wear shades!

taken yesterday

Thank you Dor for your kindness & for including me. The rules are to do the following –

  1. Give a Big Hearty Thanks to the blogger who nominated you & link back to them (Check!)
  2. Answer the questions the other blogger asked you (See below)
  3. Nominate a host of others (rules suggest 8-11) but I’m just gonna leave this open whomever wants to play along and 😀
  4. List the rules/display the Sunshine Blogger Award on your site. (done)

Here are the questions Dor posed for me:

  1. Are you an introvert or an extrovert?  Do you wish you were the other and why?
    • Gemini ~ both, depends on the day and situation.  I can work the room at a conference or cocoon myself away with my books ~ it all depends.
  2. Are you an animal lover?  What pets do you have and love?
    • Yes, no pets right now but our Grand-Dogs and a Stray Cat warm my ❤ regularly
  3. Who was your favorite teacher and why?
    • Mr. Corbett; he was smart, strict and fun
  4. Have you ever had a bad habit you  broke?  What was it and how did you change it?
    • I’ve stopped asking for permission to enjoy myself!
  5. What is your favorite place to relax?  Explain where it is and why it helps.
    • Home or outside / outside at home / the beach!  I’m cozy at home and comfy outside, provided it’s not 95F+
  6. What is your favorite movie of all time?
    • One I watch every time it’s on is “Something’s Gotta Give.”  ~sigh
  7. Do you love to travel or do you hate it?  Why?
    • Love to travel for vacation and I tolerate business travel.
    • I love the coming & going, but I don’t love impatient flyers trying to fit a couch into the overhead compartment. Remember when flying used to be fun?
  8. Are you an organized or a disorganized person?
    • Organized. My grocery list is typed in the order of the store.  I admit it 😉
  9. Are you always late, early, or right on time?  Are there any advantages or disadvantages to your timing?
    • Always early. A disadvantage is that not everyone riding with me is ready on time!
  10. Do you create lots of blog posts in advance of publishing or do you do one at a time?
    • As they come to me
  11. What inspires you to create a blog post?
    • see answer to #1  😉

And here are your questions, friends:

  1. What’s a scent or fragrance that takes you back to summers as a child?
  2. What dessert item do you remember savoring at family reunions, parties or weddings?
  3. Name a song that makes you want to get up & dance.
  4. What ability do you wish you had and why?
  5. Who do you wish you could have a conversation with?
  6. And lastly, what are you looking forward to?

 

 

 

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Random 5 Monday ~ Bourdain, Beaches and Ducks

It’s Monday and it’s time for some random thoughts from the ever-swirling mind of yours truly.  Ready?  No.  Well get set, let’s go!

1 ) Still reeling over the loss of Anthony Bourdain.   I’m not even a foodie.  And I wanted to be one … watching him.  I wanted to walk into his kitchen, sit at his table,  have him flirt outrageously with me, tell a clever joke and have him lean in for the punch line.   Young, middle-aged, older – there was something about him that drew us in.   And kept us there.  This blogger sums up our loss beautifully – https://atypical60.com/2018/06/09/the-anthony-bourdain-i-knew/    #LOSS.

I hope he has peace now. 😦

2 ) Last week I took a couple of days off ~ I was, once again, up against the deadline.  Time to use vacation days.  Darn.   Thursday I packed tea, sunblock, my books and a beach chair and drove myself to Lake Michigan.  A place where stress does not thrive.  I read for hours, enjoyed other people’s children, watched a wedding, dug my toes in the sand and came home with beach hair & freckles.  And yes, I aim to repeat this many times over the summer.  #SUMMERGOALS.

~~~ ahhh ~~~
An Emjayandthem(C) Photo

3 )  The days are longer now that summer is officially here.  Celebrating my birthday I reflected on changes.  Much much stays the same ~ the work load, schedule, and expectations.  But I’ve changed – I’m a bit easier on myself than I used to be.   I’ve said “no” to others so I can say “yes” to me. I’ve slowed down. I’ve leaned in.   I’ve savored.  There’s a shift and I like it.  #SELF-CARE

4 )  Something I’ve realized – getting older – is that I’m a lot like Mom:  I don’t mind time alone, I crave it.  I get a little bit cranky with too many people and too much noise.   Yes I enjoy good conversation, music and such but I can – and will – easily spend days by myself.    A few nights back I imagined taking a week off and never leaving the house.   I found myself day-dreaming of how that would go:

  • Sleep
  • Read
  • Putter outside
  • Read
  • Write
  • Chat on the phone / visit with Hubbs
  • Sing/dance to music
  • Read
  • Putter outside
  • Read
  • Exercise/stretch
  • Sleep

I even had a fantasy food list ready.  It came to me immediately and goes something like this:

  • Strong coffee with cream
  • Grilled anything & Fresh veggies
  • Strawberries and watermelon
  • Iced Tea
  • Bacon & eggs
  • Fajitas
  • Avocados
  • Chinese Coleslaw
  • Margaritas and Fresh Limes

I realized that this exercise was really me manifesting my summer “wish list.”  Yep, time to book more days off.  #SUMMERGOALS

5 ) Saw two ducks on my walk earlier tonight … made me think of this:

#CORNYJOKESMAKEMELAUGH

 

~~~~~~~

Your turn:

  • Did a celebrity death ever leave you reeling?  (recent or not)
  • Are you making a summer wish list, too?
  • Got any bread?

 

 

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Libraries in Summer

The air is thick and hazy, humidity hanging like a curtain.

I reach into my bag of treasures, make a selection and smile sinking into the coolness of my leather chair.

Air-conditioning blowing, too hot and muggy to be outside.

Darn.

So much to do, no desire to do it.

Darn.

Summertime books are calling.

I’m diving right in … you?

“The library in summer is the most wonderful thing because there you get books on any subject and read them each for only as long as they hold your interest, abandoning any that don’t, halfway or a quarter of the way through if you like, and store up all that knowledge in the happy corners of your mind for your own self and not to show off how much you know or spit it back at your teacher on a test paper.”
― Polly Horvath, My One Hundred Adventures

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Random 5 Sunday ~ Spring, Weddings and Anniversaries

Good morning and Happy Sunday to you!   Time for 5 Randoms from my world.  Ready?  Let’s go.

1 )   Spring.  I’d been away from the office for several weeks, returning last week to a stacks of mail and Spring  outside my window.   After (what felt like) a 10 month winter, Spring seems even brighter this year. And overdue.  Yes, it rained all weekend, but the rain washed away the pollen and, for the first time in a week, my eyes no longer feel gummy.    Farmer’s daughters have a hard time wishing away rain anyways.

**Hello Spring! **

2 )  Travel ~ as fun and adventurous as it was to be away ~ including staying an extra night because of flight delays (in a hotel, not the airport, yay), it’s wonderful to come home again.  With 3 days in the office last week and 1 more tomorrow, I’m nearly caught up.  On Tuesday I’m off again for a couple of nights and back home in time to slide into the long weekend.   This is the kind of travel I love~ by car, with stops along the way, the schedule is (mostly) all mine, structured enough to accomplish my objectives but with enough free time to take in the sights.  I’ll be winding my way north along the shores of Lake Michigan and back again.   And I won’t miss my desk one bit.

**Travel makes one modest, you see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.**

3 ) Companions– While visiting city officials and town halls I’ll have Dad with me.   See Dad, in addition to being a full-time farmer,  served his local Rural Municipality (R.M.) as a Councilor for 30+ years and this girl went with him much of the time.  I’d straighten the paperwork and make sure the coffee pot was full, watch how he listened, interacted, and worked the issues.  I learned from him how to relax and stand confident in what I know.   Although my present day role is much different from his, there’s much of what he did that comes with me.  And I still  experience a child-like wonder as I walk into a century-old City Hall, seeing the grooves in the floor from so many before me, smelling furniture polish and the must that exists in those cavernous old rooms.     I can easily spot the radiators still hugging the walls and, before long, enjoy a relaxed camaraderie with present day staff.

**A people without the knowledge of their past history, origin and culture is like a tree without roots.**

4 )  Anniversary –  This week marks 10 years as a U.S. Citizen.    10 years! Yes, 10 years ago I raised my right hand and, with 78 others (from 34 countries) took the oath of allegiance to the United States of America and stepped forward as a new American. It signified the end of one journey and the beginning of another.   It was one of the proudest and most emotional  moments of my life.  (more about my journey here.)

You see, someday I will be a citizen for 15 or 20 or 35 years and I’ll still choose to tell folks that I’m a “new” citizen. Why?  Because I don’t know how else to communicate the significance of it.    The choice of it.

We’re not perfect, this country, we’ve got our flaws.  Like most families, there’s bickering and divisions and  always someone willing to point out what’s wrong with us … but still … there’s a heart and soul about America that continues to inspire people to imagine a life here.

That’s me, holding the flag, during my swearing in ceremony; An Emjayandthem (C) photo

“The first requisite of a good citizen in this republic of ours is that he shall be able and willing to pull his own weight.”

 

3) The Royal Wedding – Unlike past events, I didn’t set my alarm, instead I set the DVR.  Snoozing till 8:00 I hopped up out of bed, poured a large cup of coffee, and turned on the TV.   For whatever reason, I just didn’t have the same interest in this wedding as I did for Diana and Charles in 1981 or William and Kate in 2011.   Maybe I was still trying to learn about the gal who’d bedazzled a Prince and, let’s be honest, some of the attraction was the hot mess certain members of her family had been, too.    The day was dazzling, the sky glorious, the hats large and the dress fancy.   Having the DVR recording allowed me to fast-forward through the speculative coverage by “new” Royal experts and get to the good stuff.  Yes, I cried when I saw the two brothers walking so confidently together.   I giggled at the cuteness of the little page boys and flower girls.   I teared up watching Prince Charles join her on her lone walk in, when the two of them said their vows, shared a kiss, and hopped into the Carriage to be swept off to their future.   I’ve cried at this and every wedding I’ve ever witnessed.  This was no different: in the end, it’s all about love.  I wish them well.

image from Delish.com

**All you need is love … ** -Paul McCartney

So, how was your week?

 

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Life sets us a challenge

I stood in the doorway, surveying the mess: about to sort and pack years of records in 24 hours.  My first reaction was shock.  Overwhelmed at the task before me, the next reaction was anger.   And finally, standing at the crux of the chaos, I felt sadness for what could have been.

Backstory:  an employee left so it was my job to sort through the ashes.  Literally.  Through the piles. The stacks. The dust. The dead flies and the mouse droppings. ** Cough Cough **.   Out-dated phone books, notes, scraps of paper, stacks in corners, corners unseen.  ** Cough Cough ** A rhythm developed ~ assemble box & lid, open drawer,  breathe, lean in and go.   ** Cough Cough ** The back of my hair, damp with sweat, black dress slacks brown with dust and debris.  Shaking my head at the “no jeans” policy ~ laughing because this was Hazmat worthy.

Sorting, stacking, cleaning, organizing:  Nearly 40 boxes to be shred, garbage cans overflowing and 7 – count ’em 7 – boxes to be moved /re-filed.   A sore back and stiff neck that linger still.

Asked how this could be done so rapidly my answer: “determination fueled by disbelief.”

I’ve recently made some self- care choices that, on the surface, appear inconsequential: I got a personal cell phone.   Next I exported all (18 -ha!) personal contacts from the work phone and moved them to mine.  Then I  deleted those same numbers and any personal apps, too.   Why?  This week reinforced something sobering ~ we are all replaceable.

It’s an adjustment to turn off the work phone Friday evening and not look at it again until Monday. I’m working through it.  Now, it’s the personal phone that accompanies me to the grocery store or out on a date night with hubbs.  And I like that, when checked, there are 2 messages instead of 60. The breathless 60 can wait.

Yes, it’s a small step that’s netting me peace of mind and the separation/boundaries I’ve been craving.

Life does not look back.  Life looks ahead ~ and leaps.

 

“When we least expect it, life sets us a challenge to test our courage and willingness to change; at such a moment, there is no point in pretending that nothing has happened or in saying that we are not yet ready. The challenge will not wait. Life does not look back. A week is more than enough time for us to decide whether or not to accept our destiny.”  Paulo Coelho, The Devil and Miss Prym

 

What self-care steps have you taken lately?

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The gift of an unconventional Holiday

I knew the day was coming, and tried to keep my voice cheery as I zipped his parka, handed off his Ninja Turtle backpack, and sent my 4-year-old off with his father.  Freshly divorced, and newly navigating the every-other-holiday thing, I kissed my boy good-bye and squeezed his mittened hand one more time.  He took his cues from me, and although bio-Dad was consistently inconsistent with visitation, and I had not yet met  (or even imagined) the man-who-would-be-Hubbs, I needed to keep my act together so my little guy would be OK.

Shutting the door, I stood in the darkened entry and watched them drive away, a wave of sadness fell over me. It felt like the wettest blanket on the coldest night.  It was a rainy, dreary Wednesday afternoon in western Connecticut.  My family was a million miles away in Canada and I’d been too busy surviving working to have made plans.  At least he would only be gone for the weekend, and knowing the other one, probably coming home early.   I looked around our sparse apartment, at my pull-out sofa in the living room, his bunk beds and toys in the bedroom.  My eyes landed on our small table with two chairs, at books and Play-Doh from earlier play.

Calling Mom, we chatted for a while and caught up on the goings on there.  I heard her attempts at a cheerful voice, knowing we were so far away, and that I was by myself tonight.  When she asked what I’d be doing for the Holiday, I sputtered out something about being invited to a friend’s apartment.  “Oh, that’s good, dear.  You should go, there’s no need to be by yourself, and, well, we’d feel better if you did.”  She was right, of course, but there was about a .001% of me that wanted to go out and meet new people.   I promised her I’d think about it.

Later that night my friend Dee called.  Practically begging,  she admitted her parents were coming, too, and “you know how my Dad can be.”  Yes, I’d met them both, they were European, on-again-off-again as a couple, the Mom, quiet and nervous, the Dad, critical and imposing.  I knew she needed a buffer and, quite frankly, I suddenly had a need to get out of that apartment.   We agreed I’d be there mid morning the next day.

Upon arrival, I learned she’d also invited the “strays” ~ anyone in her building who didn’t have a place to be or family to spend the Holiday with.  Wow!

We quickly set to work peeling potatoes, setting a card table & chairs at the end of the kitchen table, scrounging around for Fast Food napkins, extra plates, plastic cutlery, tablecloths and a couple of old candles.  She turned on the radio – with a countdown of sorts, a mixture of Motown and Classic Rock, fun.  The turkey simmered in the oven, and the aroma, unmistakable.

Next she announced we had turnips to prepare ~ her crusty Dad had a thing for buttered  turnips, except she had no clue how to peel the waxy layer off of  it and neither did I.  We managed to get a steak knife stuck embedded in that thing more than once.  Laughing, we developed a rhythm, but we were more like Lucy and Ethel than Fred and Ginger. I peeled carrots and steamed them with peas, poured off the turkey drippings to make gravy, and mashed the potatoes.  She stirred corn and cream and butter together, microwaved Stove-Top Stuffing.  We ran into each other more than once.  Yep, Lucy and Ethel.

Soon guests began arriving ~ old and young, a shy woman with a bright-eyed toddler and no mention of the father, a married couple from Venezuela, she with lovely accent, his hand on the small of her back.  My friend’s son and his girlfriend, her parents and me, and Ivan, the lanky maintenance man with a heavy Russian accent, a shy smile and two bottles of vodka.  Everyone streamed in, offering what they had, ~ buttery Seafood Paela, a cheesecake, Wine, chocolates, sausage, pickles and cheese. We sent her son to 7-11 for more plates and paper products while her Dad took a seat to carve the turkey.  Her Mom, a bit tipsy from the vodka, chatted animatedly with Ivan.  We all found a seat on uneven and mismatched chairs, making small talk, clanking glasses,and savoring the moment.  I was in and out, serving, and bringing more to share.

It was there, grabbing another bowl of something in my friend’s kitchen, when I remembered that I’d forgotten about being sad. About being far from home.  I felt a tug ~ a love of cooking I’d not experienced in years.  See, since the divorce, I’d been getting by on “functional cooking” —  cooking to live, cooking to check the box.  Day-to-day. No joy, no creativity.  This was different.  This effort, stirring the gravy and mashing turnips in a new-to-me kitchen – transported me to my mother’s kitchen.  To Holiday meals and Mom’s and my Grandmother’s tables so lovingly prepared one couldn’t feel anything but gratitude at being included.  To feelings of warmth and happiness and appreciation for everything – the love and the labor, the sweat and the tears, that went into it creating so much magic for all of us.  It was in that moment, on that unorthodox Holiday, when I felt my love of cooking re-ignite. It was there, tasting the turnips, that I gave thanks.

one end of my Grandmother’s Holiday Table, an Emjayandthem (C) picture

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Flash forward to now:  After a visit with our grand-daughter at school yesterday morning, my son and I enjoyed a brief lunch together.   He’s no longer that little tow-headed boy, he towers over me by a foot, and has a family of his own.  He helps them with their mittens and coats.  Full circle.

I told him the story of my unorthodox Thanksgiving holiday so long ago, and how I thought we would all be well served to experience a holiday like that.  I told him that getting through that helped me appreciate where I’m from, and the traditions we enjoy today.

He gently teased me about my “holiday marathons” ~ I pointed out that when I start cooking 2-3 days ahead of the holiday, it’s because I want to.

When I prep multiple appetizers and side dishes, meats and desserts, it’s because I have people to cook for.

And when I decorate the table well before anybody steps foot through the door, I channel all of them: my Mom, My Grandmother, and the other wonderful women of my childhood who did such things for me.

  • Did you ever spend a holiday in an unconventional way? What do you remember from the experience?
  • What traditions are you carrying forward?
Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Determination, Faith, Family, Food, Growth, Holidays, Home, Joy, Life, Life Lessons, Mom, music, News, Opinion, Personal, Recipes, Seasons, Thoughts, Traditions, Wisdom, Women, Writing | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

The Road to Shambala

I’m heading into the holiday season with the last of my scheduled corporate travel behind me now – Yippy Skippy!  I’ve not had much free time so this blog has lagged but I still think about writing, just as I think about many other things on my “to-do” list.

Epiphanies that took place this week include:

1 )  Music is therapy.    Road trips are better with handsome men singing harmony. 🙂   And hearing this song took me back to my summer trip with my sister and a concert we enjoyed featuring the music of Three Dog Night.  Front row seats – great music – and stellar company was simply awesome.  No matter what I’m thinking about, when a good song comes on I just have to crank it up and sing along.

2 ) Decisions that continue to bear fruit –  ahead of one of my many trips, I sent a note to a group of girlfriends I’d met at a workshop in May of 2015 ~ vibrant, intelligent, wonderful women.   Several quickly responded that – yes – they’d love to meet for lunch this past Friday! As the date drew near a few had to drop out but still 3 of us met — we enjoyed delicious food, the camaraderie that comes from being around others who “get us” and laughs galore. We shared our hopes, our dreams, and our plans.  We encouraged each other.    Boy, what one hour of positive company can do for you!

3 )  GPS boondoggles are often just what’s needed – when the system takes me off the beaten path and down a country road, I often am grateful for the diversion.  I am not sure exactly where I was when I snapped this picture but that’s the point.  Friends commented “but what if you’d had car trouble?” and my thought was “what a better place to be if I did.”  – Surrounded by fields and farms and trucks driving down those roads – all drivers waved.   Me – tunes on, windows cracked, smiling wide.

Snow’s a-coming. Somewhere in MI; and Emjandthem (C) photo

 

Wash away my troubles, wash away my pain

With the rain in Shambala

Wash away my sorrow, wash away my shame

With the rain in Shambala

 

Had any epiphanies lately?

Categories: Attitude, Beauty, Blogging, Growth, Holidays, Home, Joy, Life, music, News, Opinion, Personal, Quotes, Seasons, Self Discovery, Technology, Thoughts, Women, Writing | Tags: , , , , , | 10 Comments

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Connie Rosser Riddle

Connecting with people in my path

Atypical 60

A Typical Blog. A Typical Woman. A Typical Take On Life. With An Atypical Twist!

A New Day Dawns

Arise, shine, for your light has come...Isaiah 60

Virginia Views

Country Living for Beginners

Waiting for the Karma Truck

thoughts on the spaces in between

Views and Mews by Coffee Kat

Kate's views on life edited by four opinionated cats

Renee Johnson Writes

Novelist, Traveler, and More

Life Is A Journey... Not A Guided Tour

My Journey From Merchant Mariner to Mother, And Spiritual Being.

notquiteold

Nancy Roman

Flamidwyfe's Blog

Midwifing women all over the world!

Operation Gratitude Blog

Care Packages for Deployed U.S. Troops, Veterans, New Recruits, Wounded Heroes, First Responders & Military Children

Hot Rod Cowgirl

Riding Through Life One Horse At A Time...Courage Is Being Scared To Death But Saddling Up Anyway!

She's A Maineiac

just another plaid-wearin' java-sippin' girl

The View Out Here

A view in pictures, from me to you

I also live on a farm

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Undercover Surfer

...random thoughts and images overflowing from my brain

Wordsmith's Desk

some thoughts along the way

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

music, poetry, musings, photography and philosophy from a woman who found her way back home and wants you to come over for a hike and a cocktail.

Georgette Sullins's Blog

My view of the cow parade

these days of mine

Stop in and see what's happening during these days of mine

Writingfeemail's Blog

Random observations on writing and life

Grace and Life

Looking for grace notes in life's journey...

When I Ride...

How life coaches me as I ride...

RICH RIPLEY

EMPLOYEES MUST WASH HANDS...

Connie Rosser Riddle

Connecting with people in my path

Atypical 60

A Typical Blog. A Typical Woman. A Typical Take On Life. With An Atypical Twist!

A New Day Dawns

Arise, shine, for your light has come...Isaiah 60

Virginia Views

Country Living for Beginners

Waiting for the Karma Truck

thoughts on the spaces in between

Views and Mews by Coffee Kat

Kate's views on life edited by four opinionated cats

Renee Johnson Writes

Novelist, Traveler, and More

Life Is A Journey... Not A Guided Tour

My Journey From Merchant Mariner to Mother, And Spiritual Being.

notquiteold

Nancy Roman

Flamidwyfe's Blog

Midwifing women all over the world!

Operation Gratitude Blog

Care Packages for Deployed U.S. Troops, Veterans, New Recruits, Wounded Heroes, First Responders & Military Children

Hot Rod Cowgirl

Riding Through Life One Horse At A Time...Courage Is Being Scared To Death But Saddling Up Anyway!

She's A Maineiac

just another plaid-wearin' java-sippin' girl

The View Out Here

A view in pictures, from me to you

I also live on a farm

Just another WordPress.com weblog

Undercover Surfer

...random thoughts and images overflowing from my brain

Wordsmith's Desk

some thoughts along the way

Meanwhile, back at the ranch...

music, poetry, musings, photography and philosophy from a woman who found her way back home and wants you to come over for a hike and a cocktail.

Georgette Sullins's Blog

My view of the cow parade

these days of mine

Stop in and see what's happening during these days of mine

Writingfeemail's Blog

Random observations on writing and life

Grace and Life

Looking for grace notes in life's journey...

When I Ride...

How life coaches me as I ride...

RICH RIPLEY

EMPLOYEES MUST WASH HANDS...