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"