Monday, December 28, 2009

Merry Christmas, Chicago!

As I was flying to and fro this Christmas holiday (managing to see all of my children and grandchildren), I took advantage of the many hours of flight time to ponder the blessings of my life.

First and foremost is my usually quiet and very private faith. Second, but not far behind at all, is the love that I have in my life, for and from and because of my family.

As we were approaching the Chicago-Midway airport for my transfer, I watched the highways and streets and roads below. We flew over a patchwork of homes and offices and fields, all separated and connected at the same time by some type of road.

It was 5 PM in Chicago and as I looked down from the descending flight I couldn't help but notice that there were very few cars out. The roads were covered in packed snow. The lights reflected off the crystalized ice. And people were home, as they should have been. It was Christmas Eve.

As we descended even closer to the ground, but not quite over airport property, a single vehicle moved past driveways and homes as it drove down an empty street. No other car was visible.

I leaned my head to the window, wishing I was already in New York for Christmas Eve with two of my sons and my daughter-in-law and granddaughter, and watched as the car slowed and then turned into a private drive on the side of a brightly decorated brick home (yes, we could see the Christmas lights from the air). I felt some odd connection with the driver as a warmth of gratitude filled my heart. He (or she) was home, or soon to be with family and friends. And it was Christmas Eve.

New York was only one plane and a few hours away; I could hardly wait to get there. But as we flew over the glowing homes and empty streets, I couldn't help but feel gratitude for all that I have.

And, in that moment I was grateful that he (or she) was home for Christmas Eve, and I quietly whispered against the cool pane....

Merry Christmas, Chicago.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Spit Happens


It's all the rage.

It's the color that dresses up and  dresses down.

Unless, of course, you are wearing smashed banana, baby spit and canned squash baby food as your accessory colors.

And that would be me...dressed for a mess! Babysitting for five days and loving every spitty second.

However, if you have the same opportunity, I suggest something a bit different than black, maybe black with a pattern, or black with splotches, or maybe a black and beige textured fabric.

Anything but plain black.

Unless you are going for a "grunge/don't-waste-detergent/I don't care" look.

I love babysitting. It's great fun.

But I need a new wardrobe; I just don't have a thing to wear that's appropriate. I have forgotten how to dress that far down!

So it's off to the local Wal-Mart to find something that is not black.

Cuz, spit happens.

But, then again, so what?

I'm a grandma. I can accessorize!

Smooshed Boobs, but No Pain

So, I finally had a mammogram, 15 years later than the recommended age of 40. Normally, I wouldn't blog about this, but after asking me if it hurt and hearing my response, my oldest daughter, Karynn, suggested that I should.

Not only was it risky and stupid of me to NOT have a mammogram long ago, but it was for ridiculous reasons. I was afraid it would hurt.

I mean, after all, the way they describe a mammo when you ask someone about it is "smooshed breasts" or "two plates come together and smash your boobs between them" or some other painful sounding procedure.

The reality is that techniques have probably improved drastically since 1994 when I should have had my first mammogram. And in any case, the technique/machine of today is NOT painful.

Let me repeat. NOT painful.

As in, NO pain.

Are there two plates that come together? Yes.

Is your boob between them? Yes.

Is it a delightful experience? Well, no.

So, is it excruciatingly painful? Does it bring tears to your eyes? Absolutely NOT.

Is it a bit uncomfortable? Uhmm, duh. Let me repeat - two plates, boob between them. Yes, it's a slight bit uncomfortable, but it does NOT hurt.

OK. Smooshed boobs but NO pain.

Got it? Good.

Now be smarter than me and DON'T wait past the newly recommended age of 50 to have a mammogram. And have one earlier if your family has any history of breast cancer or if you have lifestyle habits that would make you more susceptible to breast cancer.

My mammo came back clear, thankfully. And it DID NOT hurt.

This is an example of the phrase "no pain, no gain" NOT applying.

NO pain. Peace of mind.

Squoosh and go...just do it!

Monday, December 14, 2009

Wanna hang out?

Ok, maybe it's just a silly little phrase offered without a lot of thought behind it. Fine.

But for me, it caused a huge smile earlier today when I received an email asking me just that: wanna hang out?

I think it's quite possible that I am in a small group of 55 year old Mom's who have been asked by one of their grown children if they "wanna hang out"!

Just the choice of words, random as they might be, tickled me to the core. Wanna hang out?!?!?

It's the little things, ya know?

You bet I do!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Tiger By The Tail

It's hard to catch a tiger by the tail when the tiger firmly tucks his tail between his legs and goes into hiding (especially after chasing tail).

That being said, Tiger Woods has a few tails some issues to deal with - over a dozen tails issues or so it appears.

But more relevant to me is Elin, his wife. She has some tough issues of her own to deal with and some important choices to make right now.

Her life has been changed forever without her input. Her children's lives have been changed without their input or hers. There's no going back to 'the way things were'. There's no ignoring the wiggling tails.

The question then becomes whether or not there is something that is genuine and worth going back to. And that's the kicker - disingenuous apologetic behavior immediately follows chasing tail infidelity. How do you sort through the mire, especially if it's true that a tiger never changes its stripes?

My empathetic thoughts are with Elin; to go through this kind of hurt, anger, confusion, panic, embarrassment and shock is painful enough, but to do it as the world watches and comments is something I can't imagine.

Heads win over tails when a coin is tossed and it's the same way in life: tail will always lose.

Why doesn't that resonate with some?

Being the Change You Want

Last night I had a dream. I wish it had been something as grandiose and noble as Martin Luther King's dream, or Lehi's dream, or I Dream of Jeannie, but it wasn't.

I dreamt that I wrote a book especially for people who live alone, entitled "I'm Fat and I Snore". Probably not quite what you were expecting, hmm? But yep, that was pretty much the gist of it: I'm fat, and I snore.

Not sure it's a best seller title, but I can work on that. The point is that there are reasons people live alone, some make sense, and some don't. And I am going to suggest that being fat and a snorer are not strong qualifiers in the "These Reasons Make Sense" competition for choosing to live alone.

However, having said that, and assuming there is more than one person in the world who uses at least one of these two non-qualifying reasons for their lonely nights, I have another dream. It's a dream of life without stress, food without calories, and exercise without sweat. Now THAT'S what I call a dream.

The sad reality is, for most of us anyway, that food will always have calories, life will always have a bit of stress (if not more) and exercise - real, focused, intense exercise - will make us sweat...and there will always be people who sleep alone, former beauty queens and jocks who are now overweight and out of shape, and sweet, innocent sleeping babies-turned-adults who now snore the roof off (and their partner right out of the bed) for several hours a night.

My new goal (resulting from 3 medical tests that have all come back: "You're healthy as a horse, what's your problem?!?!") is to "live with what I can't change, and to change what I can't live with". Or, more simply stated, to lose weight which will also cause me to stop snoring. (No, uh uh, the book's not about me, sheesh, heaven's no - it's about everyone ELSE with these issues).

So, to get a head start on 2010, here goes - my goals follow. I will:

a) exercise 30 minutes every day (and sweat the fat out - just aerobic/whatever else exercise)
b) sleep 7 - 8 hours every night (with less snoring as exercise and diet do their magic - physical health exericise)
c) eat 3 - 5 meals every day (with calories, but with a high nutritional value compared to a low calorie count - nutrition exercise)
d) drink 8 glasses of water every day (without flavorings, just gulp it down, sheesh - hydration exercise)
e) claim a minimum of 30 minutes out of every day for just me (destress while I do something relaxing that I enjoy - an it's all about me exercise)
f) give 1 hour of service every week to someone/something (good kharma-building exercise)
g) give thanks, study and meditate at least once a day (spiritual renewal exercise)
h) write 1 book this year, entitled "I'm Fat and I Snore: Why I Choose to Live Alone" (or something like that) (self-satisfaction/sanity-preservation exercise)
i) take a university class or 2 or 4 (mental stimulation/alzheimer prevention exercise)

And that's just the beginning. I am going to be the change I want to see in my life.

My 2010 mantra is to live with what I can't change, and to change what I can't live with. Remember, I claimed 2010 as my own a few blog posts ago...and it's a done deal: this year is all about me.

It's about time. It's about change. But most importantly, it's about me.

It's a Jeannie dream.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

All A-Glow

What is it about red and green and gold and sparkly tinsel that brightens our spirits?

Why do poinsettia's and pine cones and live wreaths and garlands make us feel good? What is it about cutting down a live tree to stand in a water-filled bowl in the middle of our living room that gives us a sense of everything being right in the world? Why do we look forward all year to an evening of conversation with friends while sharing eggnog and fruit cake and decorated cookies with Mannheim Steamroller playing in the background? Why do we make an event out of topping the tree with a star or angel?

And why in the world do we look forward with tingles of excitement to new matching jammies on Christmas Eve, even when we are adults?

I don't really know the answer to these questions, but I think I understand the underlying emotion that can only be described as the warm glow of the holidays - no matter what the temperature is outside.

I think it's about tradition. And tender memories. And family. And treasured friends. And hope for the future.

The phrase "Jesus is the Reason for the Season" also comes to mind, but I don't think we decorate our homes and drink eggnog because of our gratitude for Jesus. And therefore, I don't agree with those who think we have commercialized something that should have been kept sacred. I think we decorate our homes because it makes us feel connected to the past, it brings us closer in the present, and it builds memories for the future.

We also celebrate the birth of Christ, but that is separate, or at the very least, intermixed with our festive decor and clothing and food. We read from the New Testament, we sing carols in celebration of his birth, watch church performances of the nativity with wise men and animals and hay. For some, Christmas is one of two holidays that cause us to pause from hectic lives to attend Church, for others it is simply a more special day to worship, with great music to boot.

We show kindness to others and on average do more philanthropic giving during the month of December than any other time of the year.

We travel for hours and miles to be with those we love, to share this amazing season with them.

I love Christmas. I love the decorations. I love the music. I love the smells. I love the food. I love the sparkling anticipation in the eyes of children. I love the joy of giving and service. I love the warmth of candles glowing in a room lit only by the lights on the tree or a crackling fire. I love the gratitude for everything special and sacred.  I love the reason for the season.

But most of all, I love the time I have with family and friends to share the warm glow of this wonderful holiday season. It's contagious, it's rejuvenating, it's reassuring.

For some, this time of year holds none of the warmth and spirit that I feel, and I worry about them and hope their lives will continue and will get better in the coming year.

And for some this season is about the presents, but as we get older, or simply get wiser, it is not about the presents at all. It's about love and life and laughter - all coated in sugar sprinkles and hung with candy canes.

As for me, I will savor this season through about mid-January; that's how long it typically takes before I finally feel the warmth of the season fade into the day-to-day business of life outside of the Christmas season. And then, what gives me hope and allows the season's warmth to stay in my heart until next year is the knowledge that in just about 300 days, the season will return!

Merry Christmas to everyone. And a very Happy New Year in 2010 - which, by the way, is MY year, so no putting YOUR dibs on it - I already have. But in the spirit of Christmas, I suppose I can share....and for now, I am going to enjoy every garland-wrapped, tinsel-covered, jammie-clad minute left in 2009!

Mariah Carey "All I Want For Christmas Is You"

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Miles of Files

I recently had to purchase two new file cabinets. I chose vertical files by HON - my favorite manufacturer of file cabinets (yes, I actually have a fav).

However, after spending the ENTIRE day organizing piles of papers, resulting in miles of files, it seems that a lateral file might have been a better choice. After all, a mile of files stacks pretty high - oh, about 5,280 feet or so.

How high is that? Well, it seems that a mile of files is equivalent to approximately the same elevation of most of the favorite places I have lived throughout my life. It's a very odd reality that I just discovered, it seems that no matter how much of a gypsy I am, I really don't wander as much as I thought since I have lived at very similar elevations for most of my life.

First, Lake Arrowhead, California - 5,174 elevation.
Second, Salt Lake City (Cottonwood Heights), Utah - 4,823 elevation
Third, Roslyn, Washington - 2,247 elevation (OK, that's not the same, but I had to include it; and Yucaipa - 2,618, Crestline 3,613 as long as I am at it)
Fourth, Albuquerque, New Mexico - 5,312 elevation

And now a mile of files...I seem to be stuck in a rut, but it's one I like so I am gonna stick with it.

So here I am, at 5,312 elevation with a mile of files organized and stacked in vertical drawers. I guess that's better than piles of files, even at my mile-high home.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Joy to the World

If men are, that they might have joy...

...then Joy to the World should be a year-round favorite song!

Actually, it is...did you know that Joy to the World  not originally written as a Christmas Carol?

It was written in 1719 by Isaac Watts to herald the coming of Christ as a resurrected Savior of the world, not as a babe in a manger. And yet, it has become one of the most loved and performed Christmas Carols of our time. I love this song!

I remember singing it at the 1st Lutheran Church in Upland, California. I also remember singing it at the Lutheran Church of the Cross in Upland, California. My Mom played the organ in both of these churches and I remember her adding so much life to the song - it was fun to sing and a celebration in music as she led us all  through her amazing talent.

I remember singing this song in Rim Forest and Lake Arrowhead, at the Lake Arrowhead Ward meetings first held in the transformed mechanics shop on the Rim and then in the beautiful new chapel on the north shore.

I remember singing it with my family when we caroled through our neighborhood in Salt Lake City. I remember singing it as a youth on the back of a sleigh bundled in blankets and snuggled with friends for warmth.

I remember singing in Yucaipa, CA and Cle Elum, Washington. And now I will sing it in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

But mostly, I remember my Mom playing this on our piano at home, every year. I miss her and I love this song.

Joy to the World , the Lord is come!
Let earth receive her King;

Let every heart prepare Him room,

And Heaven and nature sing,

And Heaven and nature sing,

And Heaven, and Heaven, and nature sing.


Joy to the World, the Savior reigns!

Let men their songs employ;

While fields and floods, rocks, hills and plains

Repeat the sounding joy,

Repeat the sounding joy,

Repeat, repeat, the sounding joy.

No more let sins and sorrows grow,

Nor thorns infest the ground;

He comes to make His blessings flow

Far as the curse is found,

Far as the curse is found,

Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,

And makes the nations prove

The glories of His righteousness,

And wonders of His love,

And wonders of His love,

And wonders, wonders, of His love.

Since we are, that we might have joy - this song should be our alma mater, all year round.

But for now, just en - joy the season!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Couch Potato Day

It's one thing to take a day for yourself after several weeks of non-stop stress, work and travel....

It's another to be sitting on your couch at 6:15 PM watching a christian country gospel show in the pair of sweats you pulled on over your jammies at 6:15 AM after reading the newspaper front to back, watching endless (and unmemorable) TV shows while simultaneously posting on Facebook.

Add to the mix a day-long munchfest, overcooked brussel sprouts and cold ravioli for dinner, and a resulting longing to cook well enough to be on Top Chef, and you have an authentic, totally wasted, couch potato day.

I am not a potato and I don't even like my couch anymore so that leaves "day", and this one must have been necessary in some form, but it is wasted now. One day - gone.

I hope tomorrow will at least get me to the rocking chair. But for now, it's an early bedtime for me! A day of non-activity and non-production is more exhausting for me than my normal multitasking productive hours.

This couch potato is gonna pull the quilt up, tuck her toes under the cushions and close her "eyes".  Not even a Tempur-pedic can tempt me tonight.

I am a couch potato today and it's a couch potato day, and night.

Now where's that remote.....?

Weird Al "Couch Potato"


I love acronyms. Especially when they work in my favor.

I also H8 acronyms. Because they are taking over the world.

The internet has taken acronym-ese to a new level.

Between acronyms and emoticons and avatars, we can now communicate messages and feelings without speaking a single word, and without knowing anything about syllables, or syntax, or voice tones, or body language, or eye contact. Or even the real identity (oops, I meant "ID") of the other human being (I assume it's a human, not just a voice-enabled or avatar-loaded computer program).

We are now a world that communicates in type and altered smiley faces quite well, but not so well in person.

We even exercise with avatars on the Wii. We play games with avatars online and on Xbox, etc. Emails arrive with Pp's of abbreviated words and acronymized topics. Sometimes are rare verbal conversations are even filled with shortened versions of words that used to be commonly used for effective communication.

AAMAF, I received an IM from someone I had not talked to in several years. It was ABT time.

Speaking in acronym-ese is a challenge.

Sometimes it's OK:
  • I work for RGF.
  • Yesterday I joined the collective TGIF cry.
  • AFDA I had an EKG and it was AOK.
  • I am now G2G (good to go).
  • Life suddenly looks GR8, I can return to exercise and activity.
Sometimes it's not:
  • I used the term BFF for the first (and last) time ever last week.
  • Or when there's TMI
  • Or when there are capital letters throughout a sentence and you don't know WTF they mean!
We now have acronyms for everything from the tender - TRDMC (tears running down my cheeks), to the callous - TS (tough s-it!); but I suppose TTBE (that's to be expected). And we also have an internet acronym dictionary (or 2, or 3) online for instant access.

That's just TMFM (too much for me).

IAC (in any case), I am heart healthy and ready to rock and roll. IWLYK how things go.


 Bobby McFerrin "Don't Worry, Be Happy"

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Let the Games Begin!

It's official. I am free to race my heart to any speed I choose. I can run and snow shoe and exercise and aerobicize and jump rope and lift weights until I sweat and my heart is pounding against my chest.

My EKG came back perfect.

What a waste of nearly 5 months while I waited for an appointment (due to my travel schedule, 2 cancellations by the doc, and one repair of the machine). Think what I could have done in the past 20 weeks.

Anyway, that's history and today is the beginning of my future.

Nothing can stop me now. My heart is ready and so am I.

It's time to rummmble!

Bonnie Tyler "Total Eclipse of the Heart"

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

It's Thanksgiving tomorrow. Where did the past year go?

In any case, tomorrow is a day to remind all of us that gratitude is a very important part of our lives. And I am reminded, and I want to share a few things I am grateful for.

Absolutely #1 on my list: my children. I know people will think that maybe I have things out of order, but without my children, I wouldn't appreciate how important the remainder of the list is.

My children have taught me the importance of patience, unconditional love, tolerance, dedication, repitition, forgiveness, faith, hope, shared meals, traditions, get-to-gethers, family, fun, laughter and honesty.

I can't thank them enough.

More later....

Sunday, November 22, 2009

One Two Many

Sometimes the line is VERY thin between what's OK and what's not OK.

In conversations, one too many opinions can halt the discussion instantly.

In relationships, one too many criticisms can divide two people beyond repair.

In life, one too many challenges can seem overwhelming and lead to behaviors caused by one too many stresses.

In the kitchen, we all know the old adage that too many cooks ruin the soup.

In business, too many chiefs create gridlock in decision making and forward progress.

In love, one too many half-truths can destroy trust.

In social events, one too many drinks can change acceptable behavior into unacceptable behavior.

Sometimes 50 is not too many, sometimes 3 is, it depends on the situation, but moderation in all things is a good rule no matter what the situation.

One may be the loneliest number, but sometimes two is "one two many".

It's up to each of us to recognize where OUR line is;some of us can creep close to the line and linger there without danger of crossing over, but others of us need to keep a large buffer between the line and where we are, recognizing our weaknesses and not welcoming temptation beyond our ability to manage it.

And isn't this exactly what life is all about? Managing ourselves. Avoiding temptation. Controlling our desires. Biting our tongues. Curbing our appetites. Finding our center.  Bringing the reality of opposition in all things to a perfect understanding of peace and joy in our souls. Forming our identity. Claiming our place. Determining our destiny.

Learning to drive through life, belting in for the ride, reading the manual, following good examples, maneuvering the curves, heeding the warning signs, practicing defensive living, watching for others who aren't as cognizant of these things, noticing and stopping for people whose lives cross our life's path, and never, ever crossing the double yellow line. Not even hugging it...

...because sometimes in life we need a buffer and sometimes even one time is one two many.

Three Dog Night "One"

Saturday, November 21, 2009


It comes without warning. The thought can slide through your mind so quickly that if you aren't paying attention you might miss it. It leaves no mark or reminder that it was there and you find yourself wondering if it was real.

Sometimes life takes strange turns that force strategic maneuvering and a reassessment of your intended direction, a need to listen carefully for clues, for hints, for that gut feeling you have always been able to trust,  for revelation.

Sometimes you make a choice based on a fear that you will never have the opportunity to revisit that moment of reality again and you want to hold onto it; sometimes you make a choice based on a fear that you will have the opportunity to repeat or revisit or rekindle something, and you are afraid to take that chance again. It's a choice of heading in the right direction that might turn your life around, or heading in an exactly opposite direction and just repeating things you would rather forget.

Revelation comes in handy at these forks in the road - choosing to go one way because you want to experience a place or person or emotion again, or choosing to go the other way because you DON'T want to repeat that experience again, or anything similar to it.

But revelation takes preparation. You have to spend time mulling things over, sorting through your thoughts, defining your choices. Then, you have to listen. And finally, you have to pay attention, because just listening isn't enough. Jumping to conclusions, making knee-jerk decisions and hasty judgments does not allow time for this critical time of contemplation, clarification and then direction.

And what comes next? The character-defining moment. Which fork do you take? Which direction do you follow, your own instant gratification based choice, a new and untested path in another direction, or the direction pointed out in that fleeting moment?

Character can be built over a lifetime and lost in a moment. We need to listen carefully and choose well.

As for me, I am still studying the road map. In silence. So I can listen.

Smokey Robinson and the Miracles "A Fork in the Road"

Friday, November 20, 2009

Dead Lines

I am taking a break. I have had a non-stop 3 weeks and I need some downtime. Life seems to be on a continuous fast forward and then on occasion it REALLY shifts into even higher gear and I feel as if lightening speed still doesn't cut it.

Deadlines, and more deadlines.

It's like we spend our entire life working toward deadlines, only to end our days with a "dead line" on the heart monitor.

There's something wrong with this way of living and I plan to make some serious changes very soon - hopefully not dead lining along the way. I am just over it.

Daughtrey "Over You"

Monday, November 16, 2009

No Going Back

There are choices in life that can be changed without any trouble, and there are choices in life that cannot. How you treat people and the fall out from that is rarely completely reversible, especially when the behavior is unkind, disrespectful or downright mean.

Oh sure, hugs can be shared, a hand shake can happen, apologies can be exchanged, but the lingering memory of the hurt never goes away, and that tempers every interaction from that moment on. Forgiveness may occur, but we never forget.

We never forget.

If only we could turn back time. But we can't.

The damage is done. There's never a complete going back. It's too late. Some things are lost forever in a millisecond.

There's nothing sadder in life.

Time for a Break

I woke up today - groggy, not in a great mood due to issues from the past few days, but focused enough to start working immediately and accomplish most of what I needed to.

It's amazing how simple things can get so out of control so quickly. It's a testimony to a life of silence, sobriety and living alone. I simply don't have the passion or energy to deal with certain things anymore.

So, it's time to check out again. Phone off, sunglasses on, checking out. It's been 10 years since I felt this way.

I am going to watch Monday Night Football - now tell me, does that sound like normal behavior for me?

Uhmm, no. I hate rough and tumble tough guy sports. Always have, I only go for the social interaction with people.

I hate to choose one team over the other. I feel bad for the team that loses and elated for the team that wins. I am a mess then, because I am such a baby that I experience this mixture of emotion. I cry tears of joy when I watch the excitement of the team that wins, and I feel bad for the team that shuffles off the field after losing, heads down, shoulders slumped. Everyone says "may the best team win", but I always want them both to win, I vote for a tie! A much better way to live.

Why does someone always have to win? It isn't always that black and white, except in football I guess. And then someone has to win or what would the fans do?

There are other issues where someone feels a need to "win", to be right, to be vindicated or justified, but again, that is rarely in the best interest of the whole. Winning is not a generous trait, it's a selfish trait, but it's definitely part of human nature. Competition breeds stronger, better, newer, faster, smarter, etc.

Ah well, I am off...or maybe I will just watch Dancing with the Stars, it's not quite so "tough", it's still competition at its worst, there's still a winner and a loser....but it's entertaining. Even without the social interaction of other people.

It really is time for a break.

So, as they say in dance "BREAK a leg, tough guy!" or as they say in the football huddle: BREAK!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Good Night

I woke up today in a great mood. My energy seemed high; I thought I had slept well and long enough. I bounced out of bed and started making a mental list of about 32 things that needed to get done and then cheerily worked my way through #1 (eat breakfast), #2 shower and get ready, #3 mail.

And that's it.

I never even made it to #4. I am exhausted.

I tried to start my car with my cell phone charger.

It's been almost a week since I posted here and this barely counts.

My eyes are slits.

Think maybe it's time to slow down? Oh wait, the holidays! Ok, next year then....I think I have been saying that for about 35 years.

Ah's good to be alive!

Nitey, nite...

The Beatles "Good Night"

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Holidays are in the Air

I don't know if it is simply a case of seasons changing, or if there is something in my DNA that recognizes this time of year and reacts with a renewed excitement about life. Either way, for the past few weeks I have been breathing heavily of what I consider "holiday air".

It's somethingthat is crisper, cleaner, more hopeful. I can't really define it but it is something I experienced and felt from my earliest childhood, and it comes back to me every year about this time. I can smell the holidays as they get closer and closer.

Today I was looking for "all things nine", a work-related project that had me bouncing here and there on Google. Evidently the internet detectives not only peek in at your email to find out your personal interests and issues, and they do more than just record your online searches; they must also have some way of sensing your moods, your emotions, and maybe even sniffing the air you are breathing.

I know this because as I was searching for "all things nine" when this page popped up on my screen as the result of a search engine, and my early excitement for the upcoming holidays was instantly magnified 12-fold.

Although the doctrine veers slightly from what I believe, the basic principles are the same; with the exception a statement of belief in the Catholic Church in the last description (which I personally can't declare) this is a beautiful explanation of the Twelve Days of Christmas. Personalize the last description, or the Apostle's Creed to your own beliefs, substituting your relationship with Heavenly Father in place of a belief in the Catholic Church and it applies to anyone who believes in Christ.

Normally I put Christmas out of my mind (forcefully) until after Thanksgiving Day, but this year I am welcoming it with open arms and a festive spirit. Take a look - I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

So, bring on the holidays! Gather the family, light the candles, sing the carols, wrap the presents, stir the fire, deck the halls with boughs of holly, decorate the tree, serve the hot chocolate, make the spiced cider, dance with the gingerbread man, hang the mistletoe, kiss Santa or one of his helpers, bake the cookies, go caroling, shop 'til you drop, hang the wreath, wrap the garland, string the popcorn, write a letter to Santa, take a sleigh ride, play in the snow, wear lots of red and green, hang bells on your doorknobs, fill bowls with cinnamon scented pinecones, poke oranges with cloves, boil holiday pot pourri, help out someone less fortunate, plan an open house, see The Nutcracker, listen to a Messiah CD, play Mannheim Steamroller night and day, sing along with the radio in your car, hug everyone, visit friends and relatives, mail the Christmas cards, sit on Santa's lap, make your list and check it twice, live joyfully, take fudge to your neighbors, celebrate the season, remember what it's all about (and it ain't the hokie pokie), put Christ back into Christmas, respect those who don't believe, send a package to someone serving in the military, go to church, stock up on Martinelli's and other bubblies, buy the turkey, candy the yams, mold the jello, smell those biscuits, bake the pies, lift the eggnog in a thankful toast, and be merry!

We celebrate the birth of an innocent child who became the Savior of the World. And it's joyous season that brings out the child in all of us. Maybe that's why I love it so much.

It's almost Christmas, I can smell it in the air.

Straight No Chaser "Twelve Days of Christmas"

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Top Ten Ways to Know that You Overpacked

10. You forgot 1/2 of a pair of boots and don't notice until you get home.

9. You never even got to the bottom of the suitcase while out of town.

8. You wore less than half of what you brought.

7. You actually had a choice of shoes to wear with several outfits.

6. Your shoulders ache from lugging the suitcase in and out of the car.

5. The counter agent at check in dramatically slaps a "HEAVY" sticker on the side of your suitcase, even though you are not over the weight limit.

4. Everyone that you are traveling with has smaller luggage than yours.

3. You have a clean pair of jeans to travel home in.

2. The valet at the hotel asks how much you had to pay to check "that bag".

1. Lifting the bag onto the scale at check in qualifies as your daily aerobic and weight-lifting exercise, all at once.

All Time Low "Too Much"

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Rocking Chair Heaven

I am back in the Land of Enchantment, but I will miss the heavenly land of rocking chairs.

My first visit to North Carolina was not the typical road trip/Holiday Inn trek across a state. I was privileged to spend 4 days at the Grove Park Inn in Asheville.

This amazing resort is all about ambiance and a comfortable, home-away-from home feeling. The rooms are filled with antiques; two-story high fireplaces roar at night and fill the 16' wide face with dancing flames as visitors sit (and rock, and talk) in a long line of rocking chairs as they enjoy the crackling fire.

Paned windows look out over Asheville and the colorful autumn trees creating a patchwork quilt over rolling hills, and carefully positioned two-at-a-time with a small table in-between are rocking chairs. Guests can sit and work, or make a call, or just look at the truly amazing scenery.

Various wings of the gigantic U-shaped main building have small meeting rooms tucked into and tacked onto corners. These rooms have comfortable over-stuffed couches, leather chairs and more rocking chairs.

As I was flying out earlier today, wishing I had more time to explore North Carolina, I wandered through the Charlotte Airport, and lo and behold, casually placed along over 150' of window looking out at the runways - rocking chairs again.

I love North Carolina. And I love the South. It's a beautiful place of gentile people, manners, khaki pants, yummy bbq, grits, bread pudding and lots and lots of rocking chairs.

What could be more comforting?  I am so glad I was able to visit.

And now that I am home, I think I will rock a bit in my own antique rocker.

The Jackson 5 "Rockin Robin"

Monday, November 2, 2009

So many pages, so little time

I am at the State Policy Network (SPN) Annual Conference in Asheville, North Carolina. This is my first time in the South and I am in love (again), but this time it's for real. Or at least it feels like it is. What a beautiful state North Carolina is...

Part of this conference is networking between state policy think tanks from around the nation and many of the organizations have collateral displayed on tables for us to grab. (I always have to UPS my "take" home after a conference).

Today I was perusing the tables and found a list books to read on what was called a Lifetime Reading Plan and included books such as 1984, Orwell, Atlas Shrugged, Rand, Dynamics of World History, Dawson, The Closing of the American Mind, Bloom, books on Reagan, Lincoln and more. After looking through the list of 100 books, I have decided that if I started reading tonight I might finish the list on my death bed.

I am 55 and I am still hungry for knowledge. I love the experience of learning, exploring, discovering and understanding. I love to learn. I am curious. I am like a sponge. I hunger for it, I always have.

So, to read or not to read is not even a question.

So many pages, so little time.

But I am in a beautiful place to start the journey...

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Napping in the Air

I sleep on a Tempur-Pedic.

I don't just sleep on one; I sleep very, very well on one.

I love my Tempur-Pedic, but it's not the only place I can sleep. For instance, for years I would climb into the front passenger seat for the breathtakingly beautiful drive over the Cascade Mountains from Roslyn, Washington to one of my all-time favorite cities, Seattle. I would be snoring within 10 minutes, mouth gapping, head-bobbing, fellow passengers irritated, indescribably scenery flying by unnoticed by closed eyes.

Today I sat on a plane - a different passenger seat, but a passenger seat no less - next to a first time flyer. She was alternately in awe and fear as the plane taxied, lifted, flew, bumped, descended and then landed. It was fun to watch through her eyes what I am so used to from thousands and thousands of miles of air travel over the years. She was in her 30's, but as amazed as an 8-year old.

My typical flight routine is to grab my seat - typically a window seat on the right side as you face the front of the plane - shed my shoes, shift slightly toward the window, prop my head on a pillow of some kind, and conk out (if not before take-off) before we even hear the "the pilot has turned off the seat belt sign, you are now free to move about the cabin" message. I usually "come to" long after the beverage service is not only over, but the cabin crew is collecting trash. When I wake up I do what most "travel nappers" do: check for drool. Then I wonder if I snored, or rather, how loudly I snored. If I am traveling alone, I never know the answer. If I am traveling with business associates, they are too polite to say anything. If I am traveling with family/friends, I know before I even wake up from the subtle nudges and taps they give me while I am sleep-snoring.

I love to travel, but the getting from point to point doesn't hold my attention. I want to be somewhere. I can stop along the way, sometimes every few minutes to look at a scenic view, take a picture or visit a unique shop, but anything beyond a few minutes and I can easily fall sleep.

So, yes, I love my Tempur-Pedic.

And yes, I sleep very, very well on it, but I sleep very, very well on the road too, and in the air. I am not sure why this is an issue for some people who either can't sleep or don't want me (or anyone else) to sleep while traveling. After all, I can get my own beverage, it prevents any conflicting dialogue from happening,  and I wake up refreshed and ready when those amazing photo opportunities, views and shops roll by.

I suppose it could be the snoring, but at least I don't drool. And I know that I don't, because I check.

Jesse McCartney "How Do You Sleep"

Saturday, October 31, 2009


I never did drugs. It's a good thing too because I have enough flashbacks without having taken drugs in my youth.

Some of the flashbacks are whimsical (that was sooo much fun, let's do it again!), some are maudlin (gosh, i hate this feeling, why do i have to relive it?), some are downright scary (did I really do that?), some are tender (aw shucks!), some flashbacks leave a sting of bad memories (can I just crawl back into bed now, please?) and some serve as reminders of things that you never want to forget (oh yeah, that's why I/he/she did that).

I don't avoid flashbacks when they suddenly occur, I usually savor every second of their existence in my mind. They serve as stern warnings, gentle reminders, whispers of hope, a chance to relive something you wish hadn't ended and also as reality checks.

I have been sorting through pictures recently and all sorts of flashbacks have been flying through my mind. They come and go one right after the other, just like the real life events did. My kids grew up so fast.

But today I tasted a recent memory and it's sticking with me. It made me smile and I will savor it for a long while. And ponder it's meaning.

Friday, October 30, 2009

Around and Around We Go

The world isn't the only thing spinning.

Yesterday, I called Karynn and her phone had that special ring/beep that showed she was on the line, but she picked up saying she had been on the line with Kalen but had hung up as both said "That's Mom" (I had called before), about this time my boss called, but before I could catch his call Kelly called me, so I ended my call with Karynn and answered Kelly's call, but she said Karynn was calling her right then so we hung up and I called Kalen whose phone went right to voice mail so I left a message and Kelly called me saying her conversation with Karynn had ended quickly because Kalen was calling Karynn. Talk about playing telephone tag!
We laughed and laughed and I am still laughing...and maybe even a bit dizzy. I don't know what to say, except "You're it!"

Tommy Roe "Dizzy"

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Freedom is Our Destiny

I am a Mom.  I am fighting for freedom. Who would have ever thought it would be necessary?

Not that fighting to protect our freedoms hasn't always been necessary, but we haven't typically needed to protect our freedoms from our President.

You have to wonder why we are sending young men overseas in an effort to protect freedom, but watching it disintegrate at home. Does he think we won't notice? Does he not notice the young men who are returning in coffins?

It's a new world, and I am a Mom, and a Grandma, and I am linking arms and fighting for freedom. Wake up, America and join the fight. (I blogged) (I replied) (I blogged) (I replied) (I replied)

Grab a computer and join in...

Or grab a table, link arms and climb time for dancing, but loons are welcome!

Freedom - it's our destiny. And it's our children and grandchildren's destiny too.

Robert Miles "Freedom"

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Character - An Endangered Commodity

When young, being looked at by adults who were saying "She's a character!" never really phased me. Later in life I realized that being a character and having character are two very different things.

I am still a character, no doubt about it. And I am constantly working on my character, which is developed from the time you are old enough to know right from wrong and choose correctly - or not.

Being a person of character can have many interpretations, but to me it means being a person who is honest and forthright and courageous, someone who owns up to their mistakes and takes responsibility for their choices. A person of character is someone I respect.

Character takes a lifetime to build, but can be destroyed in a nanosecond. A man's character can be determined by the choices he makes when he believes no one else will know.

Living life honorably, with character, takes courage.

Courage seems to be a dwindling commodity these days, more and more youth choose to hide behind alcohol and drugs, in the shadows of their parents, behind their peers, in a cloak of mystery or a hood of denial.

Courage is a national treasure that is truly at risk.

Persons of character are quickly becoming an endangered species.

Character itself is an endangered commodity.

I know that my reaction to someone who acts with courage and honesty is much more positive than it would be to someone who behaves in a cowardly  and cavalier way. Especially in the face of life changing events.

People without character are selfish and self-centered.

I am grateful to know so many kind, generous, honest folks. Six of them are my children. They help me to strengthen my character every day.

Again, something I am very grateful for.

Build character. Tell the truth. Care about others. Choose wisely. Take responsibility.

And don't hide under a hood, or in a dark room, or behind a locked gate. It isn't funny. It isn't brave. It isn't kind.

If your character is lacking, fix it. Start making the right choices. If you don't respect yourself, how in the world can we?

Respect and character aren't free, they take work. You have to develop and earn both. And life will sort those with and those without in the blink of an eye.

We all love a character, but more importantly, we respect a person of character.

Find yours.