Friday, December 28, 2012

Resolutions and A Fond Farewell

I've had a lot of "down time" lately. My husband is still laid off, the weather is cold, and napping in the middle of the afternoon feels pretty darn good.
Except for one fact. I am bored.
And boredom has made me realize how much time I've been wasting.
I never considered myself the nosey type, but I keep going back to Facebook all day long to see what everyone is doing. I Google silly things like "rustic coffee tables", "fat free sugar cookies", and "how many miles to the Grand Canyon".
I eat things I shouldn't eat, dream of things I'll never have, and find myself sleeping in past eight o'clock.
I've started enjoying John Wayne movies, reality shows about hillbillies, and Judge Judy.
I wear the same sweat pants for three days in a row, refuse to blow dry my hair, and my arm pits haven't seen a stick of deodorant since Christmas.

It's time for changes. Seriously.
And I've come to the conclusion that there's no need to wait until New Years.
The time is now.

I know that I recently started this blog, but, folks, I'm going to close it up soon. I love to write, but the comments (or rather, the lack of) causes me to question my abilities as a writer. And when that happens, I just don't write. And when I don't write, I get sad.
I don't expect any of you to understand those ramblings...but let's just say that I'm disappearing for awhile.
My daughter says, "But you'll lose your followers!" I love every one of you, for sure. But that shouldn't be the reason I blog.
Oh, I'm still going to write, but not for anyone's eyes but my own. In fact, I plan to write every single day. A book of sorts. Titled:  Lucky 13 365 Days of Blessings. (The number 13 of course is symbolic of the new year 2013.)
I am also giving up Facebook. I will keep my account just so my kids can share their photos with me, but they will have to let me know when they've posted. I won't sit on there all day waiting for something to pop up. Like I do now...
I've seen just about enough cute kitties and Please Like for a prize, and Obama, guns, free books and twinkling icons. :(
When I'm not writing, I hope to be creating. Painting gourds or experimenting with quilting or taking photographs of things that make me smile.
Life is short.
I'm ashamed that I've wasted the past few months (a year, maybe?) like I have. When I'm on my death bed someday, I'll wish I had all this time back- just to live longer. But there is no getting it back. Ever.

I realize that I've probably said all these things before. I'm notorious for starting things and never finishing them.
But my heart is full of good intentions and I must follow it.
Even if it means stumbling along the way.
Even if it means there will be days when words are scarce, when my creative energy is weakened, or times that I, simply put, fail miserably.

Life was not meant to be wasted. It is meant to be nurtured, embraced, breathed into your lungs till it saturates your spirit. Till happiness and hope permeates your soul... till you are proud of who you are and what you've done and where you're going.

Good luck to you all - friends, family, strangers. May your new year be full of promise.

Farewell to you.
I will be somewhere counting my blessings... and trying my best to spend my days wisely.

Love to you all!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Unexpected Joy

(Reposted from 2009)...

Even though we all like to think of the holidays as fun, exciting, carol-filled, snowy-glittered days of hot chocolate and glowing fires and children's laughter-there is also that down time- that place between celebration and meditation where we are truly alone.

Yet, we all need this space- this stretching of our souls- these quiet moments to reflect and recharge.

I took my "alone time" on Saturday morning.

The week had been a scrapbook of Christmas ornaments and grandchildren and shopping and cooking and cleaning and planning and doing and being the Super Mom.

But, as I sat in the darkness of the family room, rolled into a flannel ball in my favorite comfy chair,
I realized that I am no longer excited by the season.

I realized that what magic once had roots here, now hovers like a kite that begs for freedom.

I confessed to myself that pretending it is the most wonderful time of the year- doesn't make it so.

Perhaps it was stress, or weariness or apprehension of failure. Or maybe too many sweets, too little sleep, ...or not enough wine.

Whatever the reasons, I was feeling a bit lost.Totally consumed by the days that I have no control over.

I put on some soft Christmas music and closed my eyes- seeing quite clearly the smiling faces of my children long ago as they leap-frogged over one another to rip the wrapping from Santa's gifts- as they giggled with glee and played incessantly through the night.

I still saw them in their "jammer bottoms" and holiday slippers- their candy cane sweetness...
their effervescent joy...

And like a film on fast forward, I recalled Christmas trees of the past, special gifts, certain treats,
forgotten snowmen and lost prayers.

A tear rolled down my cheek as I sat in the darkness and mourned times passing.

Then, all of a sudden, my husband came into the room- appearing as a silhouette against the dim light of the hallway.

He walked over to me and held out his hand, helping me up from my chair, but not saying a word.
Although it was dark, I saw his smile- shining like a loving light that captured my affection.

...And we began to dance.

A slow, sweet movement in the center of the room- the Christmas music like a fading heart beat
around us- hugging like young lovers that had no fear of time.

And then just as quickly as he appeared, he left the room- squeezing my hand as though he understood the images in my mind- the quiet sorrow that surrounded me.

That dance made all the difference.

Unexpected joy came over me. A piece of magic was recaptured. A reminder that what happens today is what we should take time to enjoy. That dwelling on the past- or time- only diminishes today's memories.

And, someday, when I'm old and gray and sitting alone in the darkness at Christmas time- I'll remember that dance.

And I will smile.

Saturday, December 15, 2012


As if the national news wasn't tragic enough, the morning has bloomed into a dark, rainy day. Outside everything is brown and wet and smells of winter. Shouldn't a week before Christmas be bubbly, warm and filled with excitement? Shouldn't we all have our noses pressed against the window pane watching for Santa? Or sitting around the tree sipping hot cocoa and making resolutions?

That's how I dream it would be.

Yet, this is not a perfect world and we are not perfect people. Best laid plans falter, wishes dissolve, and some dreams simply stay dreams.

But what we have and will always possess, is hope. It's the light that is forever shining at the end of the tunnel, the voice that sweetly encourages us to go on...the faintest smile in an ocean of frowns. Hope is knowing that the sun will rise tomorrow. That God will keep his promises. That no matter how dark and dismal the days get, He is there to lift you up.

We cannot keep complaining, crying, blaming and dramatizing the bad things in life. Instead, we should be praying. Living our lives in a positive way. Reaching out. Helping others. Seeking that tiny spark of hope that can ignite an inferno of joyous blessings...

Here's hoping that your day is well lived.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Wide Awake

2:30 a.m.
Sometimes I just feel like letting the dog do his business on the bedroom floor and suffer the consequences in the morning. For me, the consequences would be a repulsive gag reflex and an angry shot of stain remover. For him, it would be a rolled up magazine across the butt and a few minutes outside on the cold porch.
But, I know better. I don't live in a barn...although at this ungodly hour it might prove to be more convenient.
So, I pull on a sweater, head to the back door with a dancing-pee-pee-dog at my heels, and am greeted with a gust of winter chill. It's dark outside and quiet. December is beginning to live up to her name.
After he sniffs on every sniffable surface and wets three times, my inconsiderate dog beats me back to bed where he lays on top of all the blankets like some kind of royalty. I manage to squeeze in and claim a corner of the flannel sheet before my eyes fixate permanently in an open position.

2:45 a.m.
256x25+54-673-59+14=OMG...size 12, shoe size not office... Pinterest.. thirsty... feet cold...darn dog!.. should I polish my toenails?...gotta pay that...she's such a cute baby...miss my girls...crescent rolls...banking...chili had a lot of fiber!...teeth whitening...Downton Abbey...need to apply hand cream...wish he would move his elbow...trash has to go out later...where was I?...Facebook cookies...donuts... no, no, rice cakes!...sit-ups...

3.00 a.m.
I'm thinking that I should just get up. Put on a pot of coffee and stare at the Christmas tree. But that will make for a loooooooong day. So I snuggle deeper, flip my pillow to the cold side and decide this is a perfect time to pray. No distractions, no excuses. Just me and God and all the things I want to ask Him for and thank Him for and discuss with Him.
I may not always get the sleep I always want, but I've been blessed with everything I need. God has given me beautiful, healthy children and grandchildren, a warm home, a wonderful husband, food on the table, an awesome family and good friends. What more is there?

Oh, yeah. A silly little dog.

3:30 a.m.
I yawn. Float off into a dream.
And the night continues....

Monday, December 10, 2012

Christmas Thoughts...(And A Rap Song)

There's something about having a Christmas tree in your living room that makes you feel like royalty. Maybe it's the bling...the brilliance...the giant evergreen sparkling with jewels... Actually, it's almost like having a house guest that lights up the room. It makes you smile, reflect, and settle into a comfy chair and feel grateful.
On the other hand, however, the cookies piled on a plate in the kitchen can make you feel like a rolly-polly ,sugar-logged, out-of-control, crazy woman whose best intentions of a diet have been thrown out the window like a dead fly.
Why is it that cookies have no boundaries? They are allowed to haunt your daytime activities, interrupt your dreams, appear on plates at every store, party, place and planet that you visit during the holidays.
Cookies are nothing but trouble. They don't appear in singles- they form gangs! And they are experts on taunting and teasing and manipulation. Face it-(like I finally did)...the only way to silence them is to give them a belly.
I love this time of year because it's really the only politically and socially correct time to listen to Christmas music. There's something almost mystical about playing a Christmas CD as you stare at the tree, wrap presents- or bake cookies! (Darn! There they are again!)
The old classics are my favorite, although Michael Buble and The Backstreet Boys have worn a place inside my "I- can't -get this- song- out -of -my- head" list. Truthfully, I don't really know half the words...I hum a lot.
Plus, it's hard to sing with a mouth full of cookies.... :(
When I was a child we got ONE present at Christmas. One. So you better bet we loved that gift more than anything. Nowadays kids have lists. Long, detailed, Amazonian lists that require parents to get a seasonal job stuffing fruit baskets.
I'm still very happy with a single gift. My needs are simple. Candles, perfume, pajamas, slippers...
or cookie cutters. (Crap! What did I tell you?)
So far we haven't seen any snow, but it turned off really cold today. There has to be snow at Christmas to put you in the mood. It's like setting the stage for a play. Without snow, the entire show lacks a special kind of spirit.
Nothing is sweeter that having your tree lit at night and watching snow falling outside the window,
listening to Christmas carols, placing elegantly wrapped presents beneath the tree...
...and dreading that gang of cookies that are waiting for you in the other room.

 Cookie Rap
We are chocolate, we are lemon,
 We are ir-re-sistible to women.
 We defy your diet,
 start a riot-
 you just can't fight it!
 Ahh- We're dangerous..
 We are oat, we are glazed-
 We will put you in a haze-
 Strike you a blow
 before you say "no"-
 Got no 'otha place to go-
We're dangerous...
Yeah, we're dangerous-
Gonna seek you out-
gonna make you pout-
You is gonna shout-
"Get in my belly!"

Sunday, December 9, 2012

If We Kept Them Little

My son and his wife just had their first baby seven weeks ago. A beautiful, perfect baby girl -and she's already growing up so fast!
This morning my daughter-in-law posted a newborn picture of them in the hospital, with this caption: "I want to go back to this moment."

That moment when you first see your baby's face is one that will outshine every other memory you will ever experience. There is nothing sweeter or more miraculous than giving birth and holding your child for the first time.
And I understand how quickly they grow...

But if we kept them little, you know what you would miss?

You would miss the first time they giggle. When they laugh from deep inside their belly with uncontrollable joy and their eyes light up with pure energy and wonder.
You would miss them dancing in their diaper, holding a spoon, eating a pickle... birthday cakes and Sippy cups.
You would miss their chubby legs crawling across the floor for the first time as you yell, "Hurry, come look!" And soon after, the way they balance themselves to walk along the sofa or coffee table or cling pathetically to your leg, begging for a cookie.
You would miss those first unsure steps. Those head-heavy wobbles between you and daddy that eventually turn into full blown sprints across the yard.
You would miss training pants soaked with mistakes, green snot that turns to baby boogers, tiny, white teeth that erupt with each smile... and pigtails.
You would miss their first real pair of shoes, the pride of potty training, the words "Mommy" and "Daddy", (and later- "I love you"...).
You would miss a thousand-million "why's" and just as many "why not's?"
You would miss their first day of school. (Your tears and theirs, too.) Of the wonderful, painful, bittersweet knowledge that the apron strings are beginning to stretch.
You would miss the first time they sit down with a little thin book and read to you.
You would miss their first attempt at crayons, finger paints, glitter and glue.
You would miss band aids and boo-boos and cries on your shoulder.
You would miss peanut butter and jelly kisses.
You would miss meeting their very first best friends, cooking them their favorite meals, and going to the open house at school every September.
You would miss their first tricycle, bicycle and car.
You would miss ballgames, report cards, Christmas plays, and bus rides.
You would miss school dances, prom night, and graduations.
You would miss breakups, generation gaps, secret conversations... and grown-up hugs.
And weddings...
You would miss their unique personality, their infinite wisdom, their humor... and their dreams.

You would miss life as it was meant to be- moving, changing... forever a source of joy and amazement.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Imagination Gone Wild

Okay. So I lied.
The Christmas tree didn't get put up yesterday. But it did come down out of the garage attic, along with a shower of dead ladybugs and a confetti of insulation, wasp skeletons and other assorted creepy crawly things that have no business anywhere near me. The important thing is - it was ready for me to put together this morning. No excuses.

All my life I've imagined myself as Doris Day, decorating a perfectly shaped tree while dressed in a lovely, soft skirt topped with smart buttoned blouse and a freshly starched apron. I would have just the right amount of makeup on, flaunt a flattering hairstyle, and hum holiday songs as sweetly as an angel. I'd have on very practical pumps -( not too much of a heel)- and perhaps a string of pearls with a matching set of earrings. In the kitchen, homemade gingerbread cookies would be plumping in the oven and a delicious casserole would already be prepared for dinner.
While I decorate the tree, I would skitter - dance to Bing Crosby- and all the while smiling at each ornament I hung carefully in a thoughtful spot. I would place each strand of tinsel one by one till the tree took on a glittering ice effect that made everyone in my family (and possibly the whole neighborhood) look upon it in awe.

But sadly, my imagination was rudely overwhelmed by reality.
When I decorated my tree today, I was not Doris Day. I was a cross between Roseanne Barr and Minnie Pearl.
I wore thick, flannel, black pants-(with noticeable lint), purple tie-dyed footie socks, an oversized tee shirt that said Gorilla Glue, a knee length sweater with bleach stains, and eye glasses on a chain. My hair was unwashed (and that weird kind of crazy that happens when you toss and turn all night), and the only thing on my face was eye crust and powdered donuts.
I cursed the tangled lights, I threw on a few tacky ornaments, and I tossed the tinsel in one giant lump. The topper made the tree lean slightly to the south and I used encyclopedias to stabilize the wobbly stand.
There were no cookies in the kitchen. No casserole for dinner. Just cold pizza and Tootsie rolls left over from Halloween.
Bing Crosby was not serenading me. Snow was not falling fast and deep outside. And nothing really glittered, shimmered, glowed or looked especially awesome.

I'm thinking maybe next year, I'll wear the apron. Couldn't hurt.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Lessons From The Christmas Tree

Today the Christmas tree comes down from the attic. Asleep in its ragged cardboard box- the wire branches pressed into zigzagged mazes- the sight of this artificial evergreen creates within me both excitement and dread. My scrooge-ish attitude as I free the deformed tree will surely change.  Won't it? After clearing off the cobwebs and mouse poop and last years stubborn tinsel, it will become beautiful again. Bright with twinkling lights, mirrored balls, feathered birds and metal stars. It is a symbol of family, sharing, hope. A place of our focus as we share music and food and unbridled laughter that rings out into the winter sky. How could I not become joyous? How could I ever have thought otherwise?

Over the years, my Christmas trees have taught me valuable lessons.
As a child I learned that even if your tree is not as big and pretty as everyone else's, it doesn't mean that Santa won't come to your house. Cookies and ham will still taste perfectly delicious, hymns will still sound sacred and sweet, and even tears will come to your eyes as you are overwhelmed with the magic of it all.

As a newlywed, my tree taught me that decorating was not as easy as it looked. That a half dozen ornaments and two strings of light are not enough. That sometimes you have to cut the tip to make room for the star. That pine needles are a pain to vacuum. And that no matter how beautiful it may seem, a Christmas tree eventually outstays its welcome.
But it also taught me that no matter if your budget says you have ten dollars left over for the week, it's the little gifts you find under the tree on Christmas morning that are truly priceless.

My Christmas trees have taught me about the passing of time. I miss watching my kids pull out ornaments and icicles and snowmen from the storage boxes, their eyes wide with excitement, their flannel pajamas catching static tinsel and cookie crumbs, their little fingers hanging unbalanced reindeer and crooked candy canes...It was like a blur of fights and fun and fir.
But afterward, when night fell and all the lights were off except the tree, a peace fell over the entire world. Snuggled up together in a trance, my kids sat dreaming of snow and gifts and love. And it was worth every sliver of broken bulb and messy carpet and pile of forsaken laundry.

I did not know then that time would pass so quickly- that soon the years would find me
pulling out the ornaments by myself. That they would still be placed crooked. That the tree would still lean. That my sweater would be striped with silver tinsel before I was finished. 

...And that later I would catch myself in that same Christmas tree trance.

However, the past few years I've come to realize that it's not the Christmas tree that brings the joy, it's the people with whom you share it. It's as simple as that.

So, my tree will be decorated today. And once the clutter and mess and work is finished, I will love it.

I just can't help but wonder what lessons I'll learn this time...


I know I have fifty gazillion blogs already. And I'm really proud of a few of them. But with the new year, I want to start off fresh.
Life Letters- (a take on "love letters") will be my refuge, my sounding board, my hope chest of thoughts. In the next few weeks I will be tweaking the look and background till I get it right.
It's frustrating to say the least.

This is dedicated to my children and grandchildren whom I love more than all the world.