Friday, December 31, 2010

My Return to Sanity

After 5 months of attempting to blog on my "other" blog - DC(undercover) - I have exited stage left and returned to Gia's Outpost. I love this blog, I love who I am here, I love where it started.

I'm back - or almost. Right now I am in Santiago, Chile after spending time here and in Buenos Aires, Argentina for both work and pleasure. For Christmas, actually. I had an amazing time.

2010 has been an important year for me. I made a move to DC for a job and cause that I love. I have traveled to South America and met amazing people. I was able to spend time with Kurt and Ashley and their family in Santiago where they are living for six months with Start Up Chile.

There are critical parts of my life that still aren't what they should be, but I'm working on them

My kids are safe and good and happy. My grandkids are healthy and growing and fun.

My life is good, for the most part. And I am relatively happy.

And I am returning to sanity. Blogging here is the first step.

I'm almost ready for a hike.

PS Click here > DC(undercover) if you want to read my August - December 2010 blog entries.

Monday, August 2, 2010

ABQ to DC in a Click

It's all about speed these days. How quickly we can get from one place to another. High speed internet.The quickest route from point A to point B. How long it will take for our food to be served. How late will our bus, metro, plane be? How much of our personal time will be wasted?

Well, the news is good. With just a quick and simple click you can follow me from the Land of Enchantment to the Land of Taxation without Representation (also known as the Land of Disenchantment) and never have to leave home.

It's kind of like being Samantha on Bewitched, but instead of wiggling my nose (or yours), all you have to do is click and voila, you will be with me in DC as I drive by the Washington Monument every day on my way to work, and pass the side entrance to the White House just a few blocks from my office, and wave toward the Pentagon on my way to a favorite shopping mall.

Yes, I'm becoming a city person, but I will return to the Land of Enchantment and Gia's Outpost on occasion. But, for now,  I will primarily blog from DC...since I am now living and working for Atlas Economic Research Foundation in DC.

So, basically, I'm just a click away. Hope to see you there...or here...well, you know what I mean. :) Just come to and visit sometime.

Hugs to all...

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

It's Time

It's time. Not that I even know what time it is (all my clocks are packed), but I know it's time, past time even. It's time for me to be outta here. Gone.

I have managed to work from home on my computer (and yes, I can see what time it is on my laptop), but it's not like being in the office in DC - WHERE I AM SUPPOSED TO BE!

This move has not been smooth. Some have suggested it's a sign. I absolutely don't agree. If anything, it's a test. A test of my patience and my tenacity. And I am gonna pass.

Tomorrow the mover's will arrive and my ABQ home will be emptied, and I will leave too. It's about time.

No, it's time.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Yoga Moves

8 AM. That is when my moving van was supposed to arrive earlier today. It's now 5 PM and no moving van.

No moving van, and no phone call to let me know they are delayed, lost, drinking beer, in need of a nap, overturned on the freeway, stuck in Phoenix, visiting relatives, or whatever the excuse might be.

I am supposed to be moving to DC today; instead I am sitting on my couch in Albuquerque. Waiting. Stalled. Totally suspended. Reflecting.

There are other times in my past life that I remember as feeling frozen in time with no control over my intended progress. Failed marriages, teenage trials, employment frustrations. Times when the decision that was altering my life and controlling my immediate destiny was not my own. Someone else made a decision that changed my plans, my life, that day or forever.

As I have learned from these past experiences, there's not much I can do about someone else's choice or action. But I can definitely choose better for myself. I can adapt, I can be positive, be flexible - to a point, anyway.

So, I am changing airfares, advising my new boss that I will not be arriving at my brand spankin' new DC dream job tomorrow. And I am doing a lot of deep breathing.

Flexibility. Deep Breaths. Reality Suspended. Absentee Movers.


Wednesday, June 30, 2010


Sanity is not overrated.  Insanity, however, is most definitely overrated.

How would I know this, you are probably wondering...or for those of you who know me well you probably understood immediately. I know, because I bounce back and forth between the two on a fairly regular basis. (If you have doubts about this - bless your soul - I would simply admonish you to ask my kids.)

It's true. I can be completely sane one day, and the "other side of the coin" the next. However, I am never insane enough to call myself insane in a public blog.

Sanity is not overrated because it's the real world. It's truth, unveiled. It's consequences for actions. It's reality, sometimes a sad reality, but reality.

Insanity, on the other hand, is overrated. Not because it can't be fun, because it can. And not because it's boring, because it's anything BUT. Insanity is overrated because it's not real. And no matter how fun or entertaining something might be, if it's not real, and you are living in it, it's not a good thing.

My life borders on the insane 35% of the time, and probably dips into insanity about 5%. That leaves a full 60% of my life that is completely sane. Which means I am a bit more than half sane, and I can live with that.

Now, if only everyone else could.

Friday, June 25, 2010

There Was A Time...

Old age tempers you. I don't care what anyone says, it does. The battles I would have fought when I was younger don't even cause my right eyebrow to raise anymore.

It's just not worth the effort. At this stage of life, effort is carefully monitored and preserved for those critical moments when you might need it.

Like tonight. I have been working all day but suddenly, around 8 PM, I had the bright idea to clean out my closet. This was one of those critical moments when effort and the energy associated with it were necessary.

At this stage of life we store energy. We need those reserves for life changing, life saving, life altering events. And I don't just mean cleaning out closets, although that effort can be life changing, saving and altering!

No, I'm talking about events that take your (our) breath away. Walking up stairs, for instance. Or taking the dog for a jog. Or babysitting. Carrying in the groceries.

Daily energy zapping events.

OK, maybe I'm exaggerating a bit, but there is some truth in the need to store up reserves for the future, and not just for us old folks. Life isn't always a piece of cake and reserves of faith, hope, trust, optimism, courage, and energy can make all the difference when we are faced with trials and challenging tasks.

Personally, I seem to be storing body weight for a future famine, but that's another post for another day.

There was a time....and there will be more times.

Never doubt it.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

I've Had Just About Enough of Jake

I wondered what would motivate me to write here again. My life has been pretty crazy the past month and a half, but who would have thought The Bachelor, Jake Pavelka (and his now ex-fiancee Vienna) would be the catalyst?

Not me, that's for sure. I was pretty much over them both at the end of last season's The Bachelor series, but they are again. Breaking up. Publicly. With anger. With tears.

Can't they just go away? I suppose writing about them here isn't helping them to "go away", but as far as I am concerned they are gone.

I have had enough of Vienna's big tear brimmed eyes and quivering lower lip, both carefully tilted over her enhanced breasts.

And even worse, is her ex-fiance Jake. The supposed pilot ("aviation will always be part of my life"), wanna-be actor, limousine company co-owner, always a boyfriend, never a husband.

I didn't like him from the beginning. Anyone who grins like that has something wrong with them. And the tears, well, I don't need to say another word about them, do I?

For the record, I think they are both a bit questionable, however, in spite of the early bidding against Vienna, I think Jake is the one to be wary of. He's only out for himself and that was obvious from the early minutes of The Bachelor.

Abs can only get you so far, and I think Jake's at the end of the six-pak, so to speak.

Good bye, PLEASE.

Just, go away.

For our sanity.


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Two Hundred Posts

I can't believe I have made 200 posts since I started this blog last year. That's a lot of posts. 200, to be exact.

If only there had been 200 very important things to write about, but take note: I managed anyway.

So, thanks to any and all who have wandered to the Outpost and stayed for a spell (at least long enough to read a little bit of this or that). I appreciate it, and my hope has always been that something I have experienced or witnessed or pondered or felt and then shared here has helped someone somehow.

Many hugs, and many tomorrows for us all. Here's to 200 more posts!

Friday, May 7, 2010

When the Tables Are Turned

I find it so interesting that some people feel they are entitled to forgiveness, patience, understanding and more, but are not willing to reciprocate with even a modicum of similar accommodation of others.

Although I am not immune from being insensitive at times or having the very worst possible timing, the one factor I hope I always consider and will never lose, is the human factor.

The human side of me that remembers that we are all humans, just people trying to get through life - with families, and grandkids to see, and bills to pay.

And I hope I am a person that remembers that certain things in life may seem obvious at first glance, but are anything BUT what they seem on second glance.

Sometimes responsibility has nothing to do with it. Sometimes making an exception isn't the issue. Sometimes it's just about being human. And sometimes people forget that.

Sometimes I wish that I could turn the tables and let the other person feel and experience the fall-out of their own self-importance, but that would make me the same as them and that's not who I am or want to be.

One thing will not change, however. I refuse to ignore the human factor, to put regulations and ill-advice before relationships. And I don't have time for prima donna's, or to repeat junior high. Been there, done that, couldn't deal with them then and never even wanted to buy the t-shirt.

If patience is a virtue, then forgiveness must be a golden virtue. But today, all I can manage is silver.

However I am in NM, the land of turquoise and silver, and it appears that silver is all that's expected.

I guess I am going to have to look elsewhere for gold.

Friday, April 30, 2010

Bundle of Joy

Our newest bundle of joy arrived last week and already she has hearts fluttering from coast to coast. Addison Claire Avarell came into this world to join her big sister, Makinlee and her parents Kurt and Ashley. What a beautiful family!

I am so lucky to be a grandma, a mom and a mom-in law. There's just nothing better!

I love being Gia. And I can hardly wait to hold this new little spirit. Thank you, God.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Does It Rest Well on My Heart?

I never bought a WWJD bracelet.

However, I did ask myself the question on occasion.WWJD? What WOULD Jesus Do?

But in the past few days I have been exposed to two variations of the 90's message bracelet, both communicated with words. No metal involved at all.

Today Siobhan Magnus, the most recent cast off from American Idol said the following: "I do what I do because it rests well on my heart and it is who I am."

ME: How lucky that at her age she knows who she is. And to make choices based on how they rest on your heart...what a perfect concept. I want to live my life making every decision with the qualifying requisite that it rests well on my heart. I wish I had done this my entire life. However I am not going to make a DIRWOMH bracelet.

And earlier this week, I was reading a profile on FaceBook and read the following (slightly edited to protect the privacy of the author) with my thoughts immediately beneath each quoted paragraph:

HER: "Favorite things to do and things that are interesting to me: Hanging out with my awesome family, U.S., Roman, Greek and Egyptian history, politics, public policy, pointing out -- and being annoyed by -- hypocrisy and bad behavior in the political classes regardless of party affiliation, trying to make every days' decisions in a way that will glorify God. I would travel every week if I could."

ME: Wow. I wish that was my profile. I want to be like that! I wish that was how I thought of myself, and how others knew me. I love hanging out with my awesome family, and I love history (although I haven't taken the time to study it in my adult life), and I am increasingly annoyed by hypocrisy and bad behavior in politics, whether it be a candidate, elected official, political party or pundit, or over-the-top grassroots groups. And more than anything I wish I was making my decisions in a way that will glorify God...I need to remember him more. And I would definitely travel every week if I could, and often do.

HER: "I come from a close family - pretty much all of them (except my Mom) still live in Massachusetts and I miss them every single day."

ME: I have a close family - and although most of them live in Utah, in recent years we have been spread throughout the nation. I miss them every single day.

HER: "My best friend is Kelly, and my aunt, who's 92, is still one of the most fun people on the planet. I am adopted, and have a great relationship with my birthmom and siblings who I met 12 years ago."

ME: My best friend is Dee, and all three of my daughters, the four most fun people on the planet. My Mom was adopted and I am beginning a relationship with her birth-relatives through FaceBook and hope to meet some of them someday.

HER: "I have two kids, two cats, one great husband and a lot of deer to eat my plants. I love my work so much that it is my hobby too."

ME: I have six kids, eight grandkids, a borrowed dog, a husband living in another state and lots of out-of-control plants in my backyard that desperately need deer to eat them. I love my work and the associations it allows so much that it is my hobby too.

HER: "I am an unapologetic conservative, but not a fan of political mockery, so I don't put photos of Obama on my website where he looks like the Joker, or has a cigarette hanging out of his mouth. This is difficult as I believe that Obamafear transcends traditional politics and this is the first time ever that I have been truly afraid for my country, or what will be left of it when he's done."

ME: I am an unapologetic conservative, but not a fan of political mockery, so I don't put photos of Obama on my website where he looks like the Joker, or has a cigarette hanging out of his mouth. This is difficult as I believe that Obamafear transcends traditional politics and this is the first time ever that I have been truly afraid for my country, or what will be left of it when he's done.

HER: "I used to be wretchedly selfish and made lots of really stupid decisions until one day when my friend Pam brought me to Bent Tree Bible Church in Plano, Texas and Jesus leaped into my heart, nearly knocking me over in the process. (Literally) Previously a disillusioned Catholic, I was "born again" - a term I previously mocked - and I have never looked back. I believe with all my heart that His death provided me with eternal life, that He walks beside me every where I go, and am grateful that He accepts me the way I am, sins and human failings included."

ME: I consider myself at times to be wretchedly selfish and prone to really stupid decisions, in spite of my 'conversion'  26 years ago. I don't remember Jesus leaping into my heart, but I do remember reading the scriptures on my couch in the little apartment in San Bernardino, CA and feeling a warmth through my body as I FELT the truth of the gospel in my soul.  I believe with all my heart that His life and death provided me with the opportunity of eternal life if I live appropriately. I want to believe that He walks beside me every where I go, but I don't think I invite him along as often as I should, and I am inadequately grateful that He accepts me the way I am, sins and human failings included.

HER: "I am now a proud member of McLean Bible Church, and cheat pretty much every day on prayer, as I feel closer to God through music and song than anything else."

ME: I am now a quiet and faithful member of my church, but not as outwardly active as is politically correct and expected, and admittedly not as diligent as I could be,  and I cheat pretty much every day on normal, accepted prayer, as I am only able to concentrate on my thoughts and supplications when just about anywhere but kneeling beside my bed. I think this can be traced back to being a young mom at the side of her bed with children knocking on the door or bursting in. I wasn't the type who could just continue praying (which would have been the perfect lesson through example), so my prayers often ended before they really began. 

HER: "Every day I wake up and wonder if I can find a way to tell the men and women of our Armed Forces that I love each and every one of them, and I keep them in my musical prayers every day."

ME: Every day I wake up and wonder if I can find a way to tell the men and women of our Armed Forces and the missionaries in the field that I love each and every one of them, and I keep them in my thoughts and prayers every day.

HER: "I am delighted at the kind, funny, delightful woman my daughter has turned out to be and amazed at the deep faith and patriotism that lives in my son's heart."

ME: I am beyond delighted at the kind, funny, enjoyable and authentic persons my children have turned out to be and amazed at the depth of conviction each has to their own principles.

HER: "Somedays I still want to kick the cat or slam the door, but mostly, I'm just grateful."

ME: Ditto. Even if it doesn't rest well on my heart.

Bottom line: Two women I didn't even know have made a huge impact on my life by their example and their words. Someday I will tell them.

And when I do, that will rest well on my heart.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

It's Nine O'Clock Somewhere

It’s time to reevaluate.  Again.

I am wondering, and when I am wondering about things, I also like to wander.

So, basically, I am wondering while wandering - about choices, and to Miami. In case you were wondering (and wandering).

It dawned on me today, that for the first time in over three decades, I am making decisions based on my wants, and my needs, as opposed to probably more than 90% of my past decisions which were made while in survival mode, or because someone told me I should.

This isn’t a new thought, I realized this sometime last year, but I think as the three-legged stool of my life starts to level out, I am reevaluating exactly what this might mean. Obviously this is a real change in my life and I am embracing it fully; I just like to analyze the why of everything, like: why was my stool so wobbly for so long?

Family, Faith, Finances – the three-legs of my typically wobbly stool. Family, because in life there’s nothing that matters more. Faith, because without it life has no clear purpose and sometimes makes no sense at all. Finances, because life is about money.

There, I said it. Life is about money. But shouldn’t it be about family and faith and service and friends?

Most of us divide our time between work and family. We calendar meetings and ball games and service projects and work hours. We talk about dinner-time and quality-time as if they are appointments in our day planner, but sadly, they rarely are.

And maybe that is part of the problem: these special times, dinner-time and family-time and quality-time and time-to-give-service-to-others, get lost in the myriad of other prioritized activities we manage to log onto our calendars, but they rarely make it onto our radar screen of scheduled planning.

I recently listened to a lesson on prayer, given by a mother of five. She talked about her college days when she was younger and had moved overseas for a semester-abroad program. She talked about the homesickness that sometimes engulfed her, in spite of weekly phone calls home.

She shared that the one constant she could always count on was her knowledge that at 9 PM her family was kneeling in family prayer. They always had, they always would.  What a blessing and comfort this knowledge was as she was away, and what an admirable daily tradition for that family.

I wish I had done something like that for my children.  It wouldn’t have mattered if one of them was not able to be there, the fact that they would have known that at 9 PM, or some appointed time, the members of their family were kneeling in prayer could have brought wayward teenagers home on time, and dawdling students home earlier from the library. It would have made me be certain to be home as well. It would have united us in prayer, no matter where we were individually.

It takes faith to create a standard such as family prayer, every night at 9 PM.  It takes faith to follow through when not everyone is home, or when other things interrupt. It's easy to make the excuse that 9PM just doesn't work because it's too late for some of the family, or someone hasn't arrived home, or etc. But, when you stop to think about it, what could be more deserving of a calendared, structured, planned time? Remember the three legs on my stool? Well, two of the three are present at family prayer: faith and family. Those aren’t bad odds.

In fact, they are great odds. But they are odds I didn’t take advantage of, to the detriment of myself and my children. We could have used that time together on our knees. We could have used that structure. We could have used that comfort. We could have used that unifying habit, whether we were physically present at 9 PM or not.

I suppose it's not too late for me to start this tradition now.  I’m not with my children, but they are always in my thoughts, so, from now on, whether alone or with family, I plan to have family prayer every night at 9 PM.

Just planning it is comforting to me, and I hope my now-grown kids will find comfort in knowing that their mother is praying for them and their families at 9 PM every night too.

It’s never too late to start a good habit, to act from faith, to think of family, to give service, or to find yourself.

I love reevaluation. I love choices that are made because I want to make them and need to make them, not because I am forced to make them to survive, or told to make them.

And I am beginning to love structure. Self-inflicted, self-managed, self-implemented structure.

Wondering while wandering is just one of my things, and that isn’t going to change. But regular family prayer just became my favorite thing. 

See you at 9. Somewhere in my wanderings. 

Monday, April 19, 2010

A Fashionable Death

I can see it obit. "It was death by fashion...."

Normally I don't think a lot about what my obituary will read, but today I had a moment. Or two.

As I was racing through my little adobe house, fashion-necessity-scarf flying behind me simply from the speed of my movement, I was suddenly, and without warning, stopped cold in my tracks as my body arched backward, the artfully tied knot at my throat tightening as the silken fabric constricted around my neck.

What in the world?!

I stopped, not by choice, but by force and caught the now-taut scarf in my hand, tugging it from my airway as a few carefully chosen words spewed from my mouth (proving that I was not truly being strangled or suffocating, it only felt that way).

My equally carefully chosen, artfully hand-painted, fashionable accessory had almost been the death of me when the silken strands on the ends somehow caught in the door frame of my bedroom as I was rounding the corner at Mach-5, and stuck, even as I kept flying forward.

It would have been a fashionable death, so to speak, but I am not ready to die under any circumstances. It took me 20 years to even wrap a scarf around my body in any way, so to have this near-death experience happen, when I have been so overly cautious about being trendy, was a bit disheartening.

Anyway, I have escaped death once again. And I looked good doing it, too.

And so I'm off. And my scarf is flying. We are alive and we look good.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Sunset from a Different Porch

If there is comfort in structure, it makes perfect sense that there is discomfort where there is a lack of structure, i.e. chaos.

This explains a lot.

There isn't a day in my life that doesn't have some chaos in it, and it's in the hours following those uncomfortable moments of confusion, panic or stress that I suddenly realize that my life is often more chaos than structure. 

And always has been.

Oh, I have had days, possibly even weeks, of structure throughout my lifetime. But that calm, serene, still- small voice time has rarely been sustainable for me. 

And I think it's my fault.

I am not one to sit still for long. I get bored. I want to keep learning, meet new people, try something for the first time, read a new book, make a new friend, explore a new destination, greet a new challenge, see a sunset from a different porch...

I am in a love/hate relationship with change. On a daily basis.

Morning brings excitement for a new day of opportunity, daytime fulfills that expectation - sometimes too much - and nightfall comes with a sense of accomplishment tainted with the unsettling emotion of feeling unanchored, even unsteady.

It's almost like being sea sick.

Sometimes life seems to be rocking when I want it to roll. And as soon as I regain my balance, another wave of change knocks me back to my knees.

And sometimes I actually stay there.

Kneeling is a good place to be when you are feeling tossed and turned by life's storms. It also usually means you will be still for a short period of time. At least for me, it does. I am never tempted to kneel-walk once I hit the ground. I am just there. Still. Kneeling. Asking. Hoping. Listening.

Be still, and listen. 

No wonder kneeling is the best position for prayer. It forces us to stop for a moment, or longer. And that's when we can listen for that still, small voice. 

On our knees.

But once that's over, the listening complete, it's up and at 'em again. Lights, camera, action. Life jerks us up from that nearly perfect moment of calm introspection and off we go with our reddened knees and humbled spirits to fight the good fight one more day.

And that's not such a bad thing.

Especially if after a chaotic day of balancing time with tasks, and money with expenses, and energy with to-do lists......there's fresh air, a walk through the neighborhood, dinner with friends, soft music in the background, jeans and a t-shirt, fuzzy slippers, a warm quilt, loving family, good food and laughter. Another day of craziness is not such a bad thing if there's a safe place for us to escape to at the end of the day.

Home. The safe haven from the tumultuous chaos of life.

And for someone like me - who loves change and hates it too, who craves the warm comfort of home as much as the call of the road - the importance of comfortable structure in the midst of life's chaos could be life changing, if not life saving.

Family and home should always be my safe haven; faith, my anchor. An honest day's work too. And those calm, quiet moments of stillness on my knees. These should be the source of my comfort, the  foundation of my life's structure. I need that. We all do.

Because there's always going to be a new friend, a new book, a new experience and a new destination in my future. There will always be change and chaos at some level. I can't avoid it, and I don't want to. That's who I am. That's who I have always been. And that's who I want to be (with enough structure in the mix to keep me, and those around me, sane and anchored).

Home, family, faith, an honest day's work, and red knees. And that still, small voice.

And thankfully too, there's always a sunset. From somebody else's porch, or maybe even my own.

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Kindness Renews Itself By Withdrawal

John Steinbeck and I are still hitting the pillows together. It's been months now and I haven't tired of him yet! A deep-seated caring comes through his words and captivates me every night. He is, of course, a master word smith and storyteller extraordinary, but behind those carefully crafted sentences is something else. Behind those descriptive paragraphs there is kindness.

Kindness has been described in many ways and by many people. It has been shown to me by others through their example. It has been gifted to me through acts of service from people I barely know. It has been denied me by some who have chosen their own gain first. And it has been offered by me, hopefully more than not.

I don't think of kindness as something we can always put our finger on. It can happen without our being aware. It can surprise us in the middle of despair. It can truly take away every care - if only for a moment.

But John said it best, in my opinion (but then again, I am still besotted with the man so I may be a bit biased).

"Out of some deep pouch in our souls we draw kindness which renews itself by withdrawal," (adapted from the exact lines in Tortilla Flat, by John Steinbeck).

Out of some deep pouch in our souls we draw kindness which renews itself by withdrawal. No one could write those words unless they felt them personally.

It's morning now, but oh how I wish it was bedtime again. My pillow (and John) are calling. I am addicted to his words. Until then I will try to share some kindness along the way...and hope that some will come my way as well.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

On the Other Hand...

On the other hand...maybe I am already living the fairy tale! Or pretty close, anyway...

After all, I am healthy, I have a wonderful family, I have a great job, I have a roof over my head and food on the table, I have amazing friends and I split my time between the Land of Enchantment and the Land of Saints.

It's all about your perspective, the vantage point you approach things from, isn't it? Some days I feel like I am living the fairy tale, other days I question everything I do and have done. Not everything is perfect, but I really can't complain. Anything that's not quite right is of my own doing, which means I can fix it when I am ready. Maybe it's part of my fairy tale right now, or maybe I'm not quite ready for the whole fairy tale. And if I am tired of moping, I have no one to blame but myself.

Anyway, more often than not, I am in good spirits, in the company of good friends, reading from good books, engaged in uplifting work, living by faith, spending time with family, taking time to be outside in the fresh air and enjoying the simple but great things of life.

And that is pretty much a fairy tale, isn't it? It is.

Sometimes, all we need is a reminder of what we have, especially when we are focusing on what we don't have.

Today, I am living my very own fairy tale for today...and I am comfortable here.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

It's Never Too Late for the Fairy Tale

Those ah-hah moments can really get you. They can quietly sneak up in your life when least expected and take your breath away. So much so that it's hard to not notice, but every now and then they can actually go by without making the impression they should.

Our lives are so busy now with jobs, church, friends, children, grandchildren, school, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, TV, movies, sports, exercise, entertainment, and every other distraction we fill our daily 24 hours with.

We keep ourselves so busy that those ah-hah moments can actually slip by without the due attention they deserve. And when that happens, we can miss out on a life-changing moment of clarity, or a simple truth, or a much needed whispered word of encouragement.

And so, as I get older, I am trying to listen better. I know there were a lot of whispered directional signs that I missed in my life, and not because they weren't there, because I wasn't paying attention.

I can look back on my life and see amazing moments of joy and clarity, but I can also look back and remember periods of time when I was lost, navigating life on my own and taking wrong turns at every bend.

And because of those wrong turns, which may very well have added excitement or adventure or knowledge to my life, I am not where I expected to be today. Not geographically, this isn't about what state I should be living in. It's more about who I am, not where I am.

And that is exactly what I was thinking when the ah-hah moment hit. Who am I? And why am I this me?

I spent this weekend wondering and doubting and wishing, and by the end of two days of pondering, I was fairly depressed. After all, when we do this kind of thinking it's very easy to remember everything we did poorly, and that's exactly what I did.

And then that much-needed thought came to me in a quiet moment of solitude, "It's not too late for the fairy tale, Jeannie."

That woke me up! It was the first optimistic thought of the past 3 days. It was much more like the me I like to think I am, and didn't fit at all with the "How in the world did I mess up my life so badly," persona of the past 40+ hours.

And so I am slowly digging out of my self-induced despair and actually beginning to see the light over the rim of the hole I dug pretty much all by myself. It's not going to happen instantly, but I am on my way up and that's what matters. Every push and pull upward, every toe hold, every bead of sweat and every harried breath will be punctuated with that ah-hah thought that came to me when I was least expecting it and most needed it. It's not too late for the fairy tale, Jeannie. Really? Woohoo, then let's get on it!

Sometimes when so many things have gone so wrong, it's hard to imagine that so many things could still go right. It takes effort and faith and a change of heart and a new direction. It takes humility and repentance and a desire to go there. But it's worth it. I know it. I've been there before and then lost my way, more than once. This time I am holding on tight and following the path so that I won't get lost on my way, and trying to not be so damned independent. I really CAN'T do this alone. Just admitting that is a huge step in the right direction.

No, it's not too late for the fairy tale.

I just need to grab offered hands along the way and focus on catching up.

It's never too late to do that.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Healthy Anger

Anger has its place.

Yes, it can be a negative force for bad actions. But it can also be the necessary catalyst for good.

Recently, our nation has been divided as we continue to fight the Civil War of Health Care. Brother against brother, father against son, mother against granddaughter, husband against wife. This issue has divided our nation at every level.

The Health Care Bill passed the House, the President has signed it. I am still stunned. Well, somewhat stunned, after all, they had their reasons.

It has been said that it was done in honor of Ted Kennedy - I can't think of a more lame reason to pass legislation.

It was dramatized through heart-wrenching experiences in lives of Americans who could not get appropriate care because they did not have health care.

It was manhandled into a victory with Air Force One criss-crossing the country to finagle votes from opponents.

It was passed with AYE votes unaccounted for in preparation for the upcoming November elections.

It was written, rewritten, edited, amended, and mostly unread from cover-to-cover by most who voted.

And finally, in yet another publicity stunt, it was signed with children who have real life and terribly sad stories of death and illness in their families standing by the President and looking on as he put pen to paper.

This legislation brought government into a decision-making role when it comes to every American's health, doctor, treatment and even, death. Yours, mine, our children's.

It will cause the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs. It put small businesses in jeopardy - again. It removed a basic freedom of choice for every citizen of this nation. It will raise taxes across the board.

Sure, it guarantees insurance for all children, regardless of preexisting conditions, but it also means that when your child is ill, they may not even get to see a doctor. It may no longer be your choice. Uncle Sam will decide. But, I guess he's "family", so it will be OK, right? Absolutely no, it's not OK.

There is no question about it, the Dem's pulled a fast one. They passed this bill without transparency and without a roll call vote. Dark shadowed, whispered conversations and closed door negotiations come to mind. So do higher taxes, government red tape on doctor's orders, and a greater debt for my grandchildren to bear.

And more unique heart wrenching experiences from people who could not get appropriate treatment - but this time WITH government-mandated health care.

But having said all of this, the real issue is still the historic, and in some circles - catastraphic -  legislation that was just passed at the great cost of freedoms lost.

"America has just witnessed an unconscionable abuse of power," is how Mitt Romney expressed what has just happened.

"A spoonful of taxes makes the medicine go down," was another anonymous comment.

And Vladimir Lenin once said, "Medicine is the keystone in the arch of socialism." It appears that Obama agrees, and that's just downright scary, but even scarier to me is the obvious fact that a lot of American's must agree with Lenin too. 

But I don't. I am on the "What In The World Were They Thinking?" side of this national issue. I am still stunned by the arrogant posturing of Pelosi and her cronies. I was astounded by her inability to make a convincing speech on the House floor and yet garner the votes to pass a bill she couldn't even adequately defend or describe. I continue to shake my head at the socialist positions of our President.

And I am worried about reaching old age and not being able to see a real doctor when my health has deteriorated due to aging and I am no longer considered a member of the "A" list for quality, timely, specialty health care and early preventive measures. (After all, when I am older, I will be expected to be dead in a few short years by the government agency managing national health care benefits and medical treatment decisions).

So, yes, I am angry. And for the second time in my lifetime, I am scared as a result of the leadership policies in DC. The first time was shortly after Obama was elected when I watched him share a beer in a publicized stunt to show reconciliation, and then heard him speak about his first 100 days in office.

No negative emotion, including worry, anger, and fear, is a truly healthy emotion. Each can bring out the worst in humans. But they can also bring us to our knees, and lift our voices, and cause us to take a stand for something.

I've been on my knees a lot recently. I have joined the conversation and I have taken a stand for liberty. And I still have hope.

I hope this country will live up to its destiny and that Americans will find the courage to fight for their freedoms. But my greatest hope is that I will stay healthy long enough to beat the new health care system's estimated date of my viability, that day when I will be moved to the "NOT URGENT" list.

I am angry, and I will do my part, but it won't be behind closed doors, in a muffled whisper, or in the shadowed corners of secret combinations. I may be only one voice, but I can shout if I need to.

So here's to a long and healthy life...and sunshine.

Cheers, damn it.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Me and My Reading Partner

Sometimes, when you least expect it, life wraps its arms around you and gives you a big hug.

Who would have thought that today would be, not only a hug day, but a banner day?

I woke up this morning feeling about 70% of my normal state-of-being as a result of two weeks of linking arms with an antibiotic to fight off THE sinus infection from hell.

We (the antibiotic and I) are slowly winning the battles, but the germ warfare has been tough. So this morning, I was due for a break.

The point of this blog entry, however, is not to talk about my health. It’s to talk about my good fortune, or luck, or destiny, or happenstance, or serendipity, or an answer to prayer. Take your pick, because they all apply.

My quick, but heartfelt prayer of this morning was a sincere but silent cry for help as I faced the beginning of what promised to be a day requiring focus and energy and cheerfulness – three attributes I was greatly lacking in the early hours of the day.

I also asked for something extraordinary. A sign, if you must. An indicator of sorts. Something special (even though, I was quick to add, I didn't necessarily deserve it.)

Who would have thought that my prayer would be answered at all, I mean, who asks for something extraordinary with the caveat that they really don't deserve it? Only me, I imagine.

And who would have thought that my whispered plea would be - not only answered - but answered in the form, the HUMAN form to be exact, of Stephen Baldwin, the actor?

Yep, you read that right, there's no need to rub your eyes. I said it - Stephen Baldwin, the actor.

You see, Steve Baldwin and I are now airplane buds. We are reading partners. We sat next to each other (4C and 4D) in a very narrow puddle jumper for the approximately 2 hour flight between the Land of Enchantment and the Land of Saints.

I would like to tell you that I took one look at Steve and knew exactly who he was, but I can’t. I am just not that good at lying (or placing people out of context).

The reality is that I took one look at him and thought, “I should know this guy.”

I had watched him board the plane. He was the last passenger on the flight. Most of us had been boarded and in our seats for a little over 5 minutes when this guy - wearing headphones, camo jacket and baseball cap, and carrying half a dozen miscellaneous articles - clamored on board.

There were lots of empty seats so the chance of him sitting next to me were pretty slim, besides in an effort to deter anyone from sitting there, I had spread out my stuff pretty well, placing magazines on his seat and bags under both seats in front of me .

But as I watched him remove the layers: glasses, ear phones, cell phone and Bluetooth, huge camo jacket, and hat...I knew there was something familiar about this guy.

So, when he finally settled into the seat next to me, after giving him a moment to catch his breath and hang up his phone call(s), I tilted my head and whispered, “Should I know you? Are you a famous actor?”

His response, “I don’t know, do I owe you money?” I laughed as I looked into those famous baby blues and then asked his name.

“Steve,” was the answer, so I – still in some sort of stupor - had to ask, “and your last name?”


Steve Baldwin. Of course. (Those were my actual words.)

"Well, Steve, I am Jean, it’s nice to meet you." And we shook hands.

And that was the beginning of our friendship. After that we shared some laughs, perused a People magazine together – the Oscar issue, so his older brother Alec was in a great photo with Steve Martin (we thought it looked like they were holding hands in the picture, but they weren’t – another lost opportunity to have some fun and maybe even make some moolah - you know how brothers can be) and we critiqued fashion, hair and even posture as we looked at the pictures of some very famous peeps.

And speaking of moolah, I don’t know what business deal Steve was working on when he boarded the plane, but his conversation was pretty impressive. This wasn’t an idle conversation by someone who was uninformed, or ‘just an actor’. It was the conversation of a very intelligent, savvy and aware businessman.

It made me realize that so much of our (“our” being the public in general) opinion of actors is based on the silly antics of a few who make headlines through their bad behavior, and that really isn’t fair.

Which goes along with what Steve said when I asked him if he hated "this kind of magazine" (and then also promised to not believe anything they said about him from hence forth in" this kind of magazine"). His response was that they are typically 80% accurate, but the other 20% is where the disconnect happens, and of course, the attention focuses.

It’s not that I didn’t know that there are a lot of people in the entertainment industry (or any industry for that matter) who are not only nice, but also very smart with a knack for business, it’s just that I hadn’t experienced it personally before. And I would imagine that is true for most of the ‘general public.’ It's much easier to focus on that 20%.

Finally, after flipping EVERY single page of PEOPLE mag together, Steve took a nap and I drafted this blog entry. It was a peaceful flight for both of us. And a memorable one for me.

So, I am here to tell you that it happens. Fate sometimes jumps into your life when you least expect it. Serendipity is real and prayers are answered, often  in a way you least expect.

Steve Baldwin would probably not consider himself an answer to my prayer, but I know better. Fate is more than coinkidink. And he was definitely extraordinary.

And not only do I know better, but now I know Steve too. And he’s forever a part of my life, because this serendipitous meeting is 2 hours that I won’t forget. It's a memory that will bring a smile to my face every time it surfaces. Not necessarily life-changing, but certainly memorable.

And who knows, we may meet again. After all, we exchanged business cards and are working for common, conservative, Christian values and just never knows, as today has shown.

We should always remember that everything we do can make a difference in the life of someone else, even when we don’t know it and least expect it.

Steve could have been indifferent and I could have been star-struck and silly on the airplane today and everything could have turned out very differently. But we didn't and it didn't.

It’s been a great day: life hugged me, and I am hugging it back.

PS Steve took the pic with my iPhone. :)

PSS I am not typically one to be affected by fame or fortune, I have met and talked and negotiated and laughed with the best (and the worst) of them. But I have to admit that a silly, star-struck moment hit right after saying good-bye to Steve. Suddenly I was walking down the terminal in SLC and the thought came to my mind: "I just read People magazine with Stephen Baldwin!" 

Now how many people can say that?! Woooohooooo! And hugs to all.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Blogging from iGoogle and Gmail - Blogger Help

iAm blogging from iGoogle - iMagine that!

iT's pretty amazing that so much can be done from your home page now. Life just got a bit easier!

iT's been awhile since i have blogged, mostly because i have been both busy and sick. The busy part was fun, the sick part wasn't.

This is a completely pointless blog entry, except to pay homage to the GoogleGods who have made one more thing easier to accomplish in a day.

Thank you iGoogle!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

My Butt's Calling

I know, I know. It's a silly twist on the hysterical cell phone commercial, but so what?

My butt IS calling! And not only that, my butt is calling ME! Over, and over, and over again...

Why, you might ask? Why is your butt calling you, Jean?

Well, I am so glad you asked. Let me tell you why my butt is calling me. (over and over again)

I walked. You would think I had committed a heinous crime or something, as anxious as my butt is to get my attention, but no I didn't commit any crime, I just walked.

I walked, and I walked hard. I walked 2 1/2 miles at a pretty good clip. I took my phone with me, it's not as if I abandoned it (or my butt) on a park bench or something. I walked and they both came along for the ride (so to speak), my phone tucked carefully into my back pocket and all cozy against my butt.

But (or butt), that's when I think it all started. That coziness didn't set well and my butt has been calling me constantly since.

It's different than a cell phone call, there is no ring, no funny little song, no beep, no honk. It's nothing like that.

It's more like silent torture. No sound at all. Just a dull, ongoing ache.

And now, if you will excuse me, I have to go. I can't sit much longer to blog. My butt is calling again, the silent communicator. The dull ache. I certainly walked enough, I am certain of that because I can feel it...constantly...and you know where.

Gotta get moving, my butt's calling again. See you later...

What a pain in the butt!

Tuesday, March 2, 2010


Some people live without regrets. I am envious of them.

I have a lot of regrets, in spite of a post written last year in this blog that talked about No Regrets.

I regret anything I have done that has caused pain or confusion for others.

There are choices I have made that I thought - at the time - were justified or good or right, but in retrospect it's so obvious that I was confused or had allowed myself to be deceived, or just plain selfish.

Life is too short to make some of the big mistakes that I have, but here I am - living proof that life really ISN'T too short to make those kind of mistakes.

Life may be too short, but the big mistakes do shorten your life. They rob you of moments you might have had. They steal opportunities that might have been. They replace real with imagined.

Life should be lived with no regrets, but that doesn't mean you don't regret things you have done, it means you live so that you have no reason for regret.

If I could turn back time, I would make better choices. I would reclaim the lost moments and opportunities.

But I can't. So now I will simply look forward and try to push the regrets aside so that they cannot claim even one more moment of my life and shorten it any more.  I have spent too much time punishing myself for bad choices in the past. I am stealing my own life from me.

The clock is ticking and I plan to savor every moment. Maybe if I fill every moment with as much living as possible, I can recoup some of the time I have lost.


Only one thing's for sure. I am going to do my very best to live the remainder of my life in a way that does not give cause for any new regret.

Because I have enough already.

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Red or Blue?

It's not easy being red.

Unless, of course, you are the New Mexico Lobos heading home from Utah after beating BYU in a fun-tastic game at the Marriott Center with a score of 83-81. Even those of us in the nose-bleed section could feel the energy radiating from the court so far below. It was palpable. It was deafening. It was one of the best games I have ever watched!

And exhausting. The players were dripping sweat, the fans were hyperventilating and those of us who live in New Mexico but love BYU were totally worn out. It's tough to scream for EVERY basket and holler for EVERY bad call - on either team, on both teams, the entire game!

But that's what I did. It was go BYU, then OMG Lobos, then yeah BYU, then alright Lobos....I can't do too many of these games in a row. I don't have the energy!

However, having set the scene for you, I now have to confess a few things. A) I live in Albuquerque, B) I love the Land of Enchantment, C) Not only do I live in Albuquerque, I live in close proximity to UNM - I can walk there, D) I am a REDhead, E) I have long dreamed of working for UofU (another RED school), F) Red is my nickname, G) I flew out with the UNM Lobos, H) I sat next to Darrington Hobson in the terminal and I) then he decided to take a little nap since our plane was delayed so I snapped the picture above.

So, when it comes down to it, I may love blue - after all, it's long been my favorite color, but the bottom line for me will always be this head of red hair. Add in the red of UNM's Lobos to the red of the UofU Utes and there is just no blue in sight.

Well, except my eyes. They are blue. Maybe this isn't as easy as I thought. And my BLUE eyes are often referred to as my best asset, so maybe it isn't all about red. And then there's my LDS background which certainly makes me feel some responsibility to cheer for "the Lord's team". I mean we were playing basketball where apostles and prophets have stood and spoken, and you can be sure they weren't cheering for red yesterday. "Follow the prophet..." And my oldest son graduated from BYU. Oh dear,  I don't's a conundrum of non-eternal consequences. I know this may seem frivolous, all this time spent on discussing a sports event, but it feels, well, sacred. And you can see why! I mean, this is serious business.

It was a sell out crowd, over 22,000 people, no empty seats, a sea of white t-shirts with blue Y's emblazoned across front and back, speckled with about 50 red Lobos t-shirts here and there - oh, and one HUGE New Mexico state flag waving above the team in the hands of a devoutly enchanted Lobo fan.

And then there was me, sitting between Kalen - the avowed not-interested Mormon, and two recently returned LDS missionaries (Denver and Vancouver) - one wearing....wait for it....RED! Yes, a fellow LDS-type wearing RED and cheering for the Lobos! I was saved....again. ;)

So, go RED! I mean, go BLUE! OHHH freak, it's all so confusing! He and I weren't sure who to cheer for.

But one thing's for sure, the enchanted Lobos just won their 13th straight game when they took the Cougars by 2 points on BYU's home court, and I was there to watch and cheer both teams on.

Go Lobos! And go Cougars - cuz there's something about the underdog that brings out the empathy in all of us.

And I'll say it again: it's not easy being red. But, game on!

So, go Red! (which means, go Jeannie, it's your year, babe!)

Sunday, February 21, 2010

In or Out?

A door swings both ways. In and Out. Egress and Ingress.

The question is about which way you want to go and sometimes that can be confusing depending on the angle you approach the door from.

I always look at the door (just as I look at the glass) as half open (or half full). It's the portal to a new opportunity. Yes, it's also the path leading from the past, but as I walk through the door I am not looking behind me, I am looking forward to the future.

Maybe that's why my life has been filled with excitement, anticipation and new experiences. The upside has been constant activity and no boredom, and the downside of all of that hype has been the absence of regular calm and relaxation. And that's why I believe all doors should swing both ways. 

The future is always linked with the past. And the past always leads to the future. Excitement melts into relaxation and calm creates the energy for celebration.

Sometimes life can be a dizzying experience and feel like a revolving door that just goes 'round and 'round and 'round. But I prefer doors that simply swing back and forth, because life shouldn't be dizzying, it should be a balanced blend of calm and excitement.

We need a little bit of both.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Cutting your Losses

We all lose sometime, somewhere. It's inevitable in life.

Sometimes those losses are almost too much to bear, sometimes they are only a pinprick on the map of life. But any loss is measurable at some level and causes a reaction of some kind.

I am all about cutting my losses. I have a lot of experience with this. I have loved and lost, gained and lost, earned and lost, purchased and lost, birthed and lost, married and lost, divorced and lost, found and lost (a completely opposite occurrence from what it should be), learned and lost, played and lost, gambled and lost...well, you get the picture.

If I wasn't such an optimist, I might consider myself a loser!

At this stage in my life I have very few goals left to complete, but they are real and they are important to me, and they have been lost in the craziness of the past 35 years of my life (otherwise known as the parenting years).

So it's time to reclaim these goals as my own, find the best avenue to reach them, and get going. And what I want is not all that complicated, it's really very simple.

1) Laughter every day of my life
2) Family every day of my life
3) Work that I enjoy every day of my life - well, every work day of my life
4) Faith every day of my life
5) Financial security for the rest of the days of my life.

I think I have found the avenue, let's hope it comes through.

Light candles please. And pray, ponder, pontificate, hope, bribe - whatever it takes.

It's time for me to cut my losses by focusing on them, because I am on the winning team!

Go Red!

Thursday, February 18, 2010


It's a simple choice between two options: yes or no.

So the question becomes, why is something so seemingly simple, so frustratingly difficult?

I wish I had the answer, but I can't even decide a yes or no question.

Trust me, I am not the one to go to for counsel.

I'm too busy flipping back and forth between yes and no.

How's that for ridiculous?

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Road Trippin Blues

It's my favorite thing to do.

It's my least favorite thing to do.

Road trippin'. That's what I'm talkin' 'bout.

Putting dust in the rear view.

And blasting your CD's so loud as you sing along that there is absolutely NO question that your voice is as good, if not better, than the artist's.

An example. I sound like Susan Boyle AND Adam Lambert while driving along singing at the top of my lungs.


I can even hit those Lambert high notes and do the mouth-wide-open-tongue thing.


It's flawless.

Personal, private karaoke. There's no better way to test your voice range. And mine's amazing.

I love a road trip with music blasting.

It's the nights after, with the same songs repeating over and over in my dreams, that bother me.

Those road trippin', night blastin' blues.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Pillow Talk

There are some people you can't imagine sharing a bed with. There are others you only dream of sharing a bed with. And there are those you are forced or destined to share your bed with.

But then there are those select few that you actually choose to share your bed with. 

As a child I didn't even like to share a bed with my sister, and it really creeped me out to sleep with my Mom. Yeah, I had issues. But that's another blog entry, not this one.

As a young mother, I loved to share my bed and cuddle in the mornings with my kids. That was a magical time. 

As partners, husband and wife, lovers, I love to share a bed. I am a snuggler. I like to cuddle. I like the security in knowing that I am not alone. I need to keep my feet warm and I love the pillow talk. 

And that brings me to John. 

I am captivated, infatuated, addicted, lulled into submission, drowning in the sound of his voice, drunk on his words and well, totally into him. John can eat crackers in my bed anytime. I might even warm HIS feet.

Read this and maybe you will see why:

"In the gray time after the light has come and before the sun has risen, the Row seems to hang suspended out of time in a silvery light. The street lights go out, and the weeds are a brilliant green. The corrugated iron of the canneries glows with the pearly lucency of platinum or old pewter. No automobiles are running then. The street is silent of progress and business. And the rush and drag of the waves can be heard as they splash in among the piles of the canneries. It is a time of great peace, a deserted time, a little era of rest.

Cats drip over the fences and slither like syrup over the ground to look for fish heads. Silent early morning dogs parade majestically picking and choosing judiciously whereon to pee. The sea gulls come flapping in to sit on the cannery roofs to await the day of refuse - they sit on the roof peaks shoulder to shoulder...The air is cool and fresh. In the back gardens the gophers push up the morning mounds of fresh damp earth and they creep out and drag flowers into their holes.

It is the hour of the pearl...the interval between day and night when time stops and examines itself."

Excerpt from Cannery Row, by John Steinbeck.

That's John. We've been sharing a bed.  And pillow talk. 

And then my eyes fall shut and his words go silent and slumber wins.

Until that magical hour of the pearl, when I stretch across cold sheets to the other side of the bed, only to roll back to the lonely silence of my own pillow.

And I lay there for a moment. And I daydream of my night dreams.

And I wish for this new day to pass quickly and the night to return soon, bringing with it the soothing cantor of the master wordsmith.

The lullaby of pillow talk. The conversation of lovers.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Life and Death

My friend's father passed away yesterday. He was 94. Almost a century of life behind him. It feels odd to consider the recently deceased "lucky", but living a life of almost a century with your companion by your side is definitely a blessing with more than a little bit of luck tossed in.

Somehow the fact that someone lived a full life for almost a century just feels good, it sits well when you think about it. So much so that it makes you react with a mixture of joy and sorrow when you hear of their death. It's very different than when someone dies young. But death is still a loss, no matter the age or quality of a life lived, and we need not forget that.

And as final as death is, as sad as it might be, it can be a relief too.

Taking care of a 94-year-old isn't a walk in the park, no matter how much help you have. Heck, taking care of a 75-year-old can be tough (almost as bad as a teenager). But that could take up an entire blog entry and teenagers(one, specifically) are not the topic of today's post.

I've watched three men take care of an elderly parent over the span of my life. I have watched them do laundry, take care of the shopping, clean house, run errands, drive to doctor appointments, change diapers, bathe and feed their Mom or Dad.

I watched my Dad take care of my Grandma and Grandpa for many years, some of that time working along side my Aunt Jean.

I watched my husband take care of his mother as her health declined following a fall resulting in a broken hip, multiplied by the rapid acceleration of  dementia into full-blown Alzheimer's. She lived with us as long as we could manage it, and we have some amazing memories of fun and laughter with Grandma, but I also remember the tougher times and Hal's amazing patience and dedication to making certain his mother was clean and comfortable and taken care of.

And I have been aware of my friend Ed over the past year as he would spend time with his parents, or not join in a group dinner because it was his weekend for laundry duty. He and his sister helped take care of their parents after they moved into an assisted living home. It's Ed's father who passed away yesterday. Ed had been with him most of the weekend.

And each of these experiences, where I have been an observer much more than a participant, has given me a greater respect for the respective caregiver. I have literally watched in awe. It's not easy, and it's not something anyone can do, but what better way to show respect, love and honor for your parent and the sacrifice(s) they made for you over the span of your lifetime than to take care of them as they took care of you so many years ago. The ultimate "giving back" opportunity.

And what a strong indication of character. These three men showed something in their personalities that many don't even have. There are certainly other ways to develop character, this is simply one that I have witnessed personally and feel motivated to comment on by the recent loss of Ed's Dad.

Life can be short, or it can last for 94 years, and the only thing we can be certain of is that it will come to an end. Knowing that, we should always make every moment count for good by helping others, being true to ourselves, living with love, honoring our family, giving back and setting an example by our actions.

Death will steal our breath, but it won't erase our reputation or alter the degree of character we built or lost during our lifetime.

Character is a once in a lifetime opportunity and we sure don't want to miss our turn, because death is ahead of all of us.

Live, Love, Laugh. And then as we all will someday, leave this life with honor and a sense of a life well-lived.

Life and Death. In the end, just as in the beginning, that's really what it's all about.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Who dat?

The Saints are marchin the Super Bowl. Who dat, you say? They are the favored competitors (in this part of the world anyway) in 2010's Super Bowl XLIV against the Colts. Yep, the magic of New Orleans Saints against the reputation of the Indianapolis Colts. And people are caught up in the magic.

Personally, I don't think it has a thing to do with football. It's about music, food, and spirits. N'awlins is famous for everything BUT football, and I think the local fans are thinking more about Hurricane's than Touchdowns.

So, as the game plays out on Sunday, I hope there is jazz music blaring in the background, fried chicken and grits on the table, blue crab dip for your chips, crab cakes, pigs in a blanket, bright beads around your neck, and a room full of spirit(s).

Here is a recipe from's website:

Simon and Garfunkeled Crab Cakes

Makes 12 crab cakes. 3 cakes per person
16oz lump crab meat
½ cup chopped green onions, just the green partscrabcake4
½ tsp chopped fresh parsley
½ tsp chopped fresh rosemary
½ tsp chopped fresh sage
½ tsp chopped fresh thyme
½ tsp salt
1 tsp Cajun seasoning
1 cup bread crumbs
¼ cup mayo
1 beaten egg
1 tsp Dijon mustard
¼ cup vegetable oil

crabcakedinnerPlace in a medium sized bowl the crab meat, chopped green onions, parsley, rosemary, sage, thyme, salt, Cajun seasoning, and half of the bread crumbs. Separately mix together the wet ingredients; mayo, the beaten egg and Dijon mustard. Then combine everything. Do not mix too much.  Measure out crab cake mixture into 12 equal parts about a ¼ cup each. Roll the cakes into balls and then flatten each to about a ½ inch think. Spread the extra bread crumbs out on a flat plate and then dredge each cake slightly top and bottom. Heat the vegetable oil in a skillet and cook cakes in oil till golden brown on each side. Serve with lemon and favorite seafood sauce.

Who dat? Them's the Saints! Go team!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Chin Up! Shoot Down!

A picture can be worth a thousand words, or chins.

No matter how you look at it, keeping your chin up is a good thing, but if you have a choice, always have the photographer shoot down.

Let's face it, chins can be a defining characteristic - think of Jay Leno. And whether you walk tall and keep your chin level with the floor, or lift your nose and tip your chin up, or drop your gaze and dip your chin down, you can send a  message about yourself without saying a word.

And such is the reality of my recent picture at the very fun Albuquerque Roadrunner Food Bank "Souper Bowl" fundraising event. I must have been so overwhelmed that I forgot the "chin up" rule for the picture. I mean, not only do I have an obvious chin, but I have more than one.

Another way to say this might be: turtle neck sweaters are not always your friend.

And so, instead of staying as depressed as I was for the first day after seeing the picture, I have decided to pull myself out of the doldrums, stretch out the neck on my turtleneck, lift my chin and press forward.

Life will go on, although it's gonna be a bit harder than normal since I now am aware of the double weight hanging off the lower part of my face. If I really wanted to stretch the truth a bit, I suppose I could claim the title of weight lifter.

Anyway, yet another wake up call. First the heart scare, which thankfully turned out to be nothing. Then the TV spot, which caused me to gasp and turn off the TV. And now the double chin photo. It's as if the entire universe is shouting at me.

What, you are probably thinking, is the universe shouting? Well, duh, it's obvious isn't it? Whispers and hushed words and mumbled comments and forceful explosions are shouting in unity: "Get a grip, Jeannie. Stop eating, start moving, Jeannie..."

and most important....."Chin up, Jeannie!"


Monday, February 1, 2010

What if...

What if...I had moved to DC.

What if...I hadn't moved to New Mexico.

What if...I hadn't married Kory and had 6 kids.

What if...I had finished my degree.

What if...I hadn't been actively LDS for most of my adult life?

What if...I was more active?

What if...I wasn't so sedentary in my lifestyle?

What if...I didn't have such great friends?

What if...I had a huge retirement savings?

What if...I could travel the world?

What if...I hadn't learned to love fundraising?

What if...I hadn't finally realized that internet chat and games are addicting, if not unhealthy and evil?

What if...I hadn't had to work and could have just been a Mom?

What if...I had cooked more.

What if...I had never learned to use a computer?

What if...Facebook didn't exist?

What if...I hadn't spent an Easter vacation in Arizona and learned to love horses?

What if...Ronda Copeland was still alive?

What if...Charlie and I had never dated, or never stopped dating?

What if...Mr. Grande had given me an A, instead of a B+?

What if...I had kept dreaming in Spanish?

What if...Maria and Felipe hadn't come into my life?

What if...Kalen hadn't gone to Brazil with Rotary?

What if...I still had the condo?

What if...I hadn't spent all that money on fake nails?

What if...I hadn't spent all that money, period?

What if...I had saved all that money?

What if...I had been home every day when my children came home from school?

What if...I had waited until my kids were raised to remarry after my divorce from their Dad?

What if...I had paid more attention and left sooner, more than once?

What if...I could have made common sense, heartfelt, intuitive and inspired choices, instead of finance-necessitated decisions?

What if...we hadn't moved so much?

What kids had started and graduated in the same school district?

What if...I hadn't been so overwhelmed as a single Mom of six?

What if...we hadn't moved to Provo?

What if...we hadn't moved to Salt Lake?

What if...I hadn't been born with red hair?

What eyes had been green?

What if...we had never gone to Laguna Riviera?

What if...I hadn't love high school?

What if...I had been a teen mother?

What if...I hadn't been a single 40-year old with 6 kids in Utah?

What if...I hadn't met the great singles in SLC?

What if...we hadn't met the Belcher's?

What children were troublesome?

What kids were from a normal, healthy, non-divorced, happy family?

What had never been an issue?

What if...I hadn't lived in survival mode for nearly two decades?

What if...I had kept the house on Teton?

What if...I had gone to work for Brulte?

What had ended already?

What if...I lived closer to my kids and grandkids?

What if...we hadn't moved to Washington state?

What if...we had never been to the Ellensburg rodeo?

What if...Suncadia hadn't been there?

What if...I hadn't married Hal?

What if...we hadn't been given Devin for those years?

What if...things were different with Hal's girls?

What if...vindictive, addictive women weren't in our lives?

What if...I loved to ski?

What if...I didn't love chocolate?

What if...I was rockin a size 8 again?

What if...I let my hair go naturally peach, then white?

What if...I wore a braid down my back?

What if...I got a job where denim wasn't OK?

What if...I actually slept through an entire night?

What if...I didn't have something to smile about every day?

What if...I couldn't feel the sun 300 days of the year?

What if...I didn't have someone to laugh with?

What if...Mom and Dad were still here?

What if...Jamie hadn't died from AIDS/HIV.

What if...Katrina hadn't been stillborn?

What if...I wasn't healthy?

What if...I didn't have those wonderful memories of Sunday dinner at my grandparents?

What if...I didn't remember talking to Mimi and Boppie every Sunday night?

What grandkids don't have those memories?

What if...I learned to ski?

What if...I played tennis again?

What if...I was 35, what would I change of the past 20 years?

What if...I was 50, what would I change of the past 5 years?

What if...I could plan the next 20 years? the next 5?

What if...I got a job offer?

What if...I have to choose.

What if...I make the wrong choice.

What if...I already did.

What if...that is the question, isn't it?

What if?

I wouldn't be me. And you wouldn't be you.

That's, what if.

But it sure could have been a lot easier.

Sunday, January 31, 2010

And One Blog After Another Bites the Dust

It must be spring in the blogosphere because I have been doing some spring cleaning tonight.

I have deleted several blogs, carefully managing a tricky cut and paste from the old blogs to this blog to save the extremely important information contained in hundreds of random blog entries that I have made over the years on numerous unrelated subjects. Critical data. Key information. Seriously. It's all about me. (It's 2010, remember?)

So now I only have three blogs. I have this blog, Gia's Outpost, for general banter on just about anything, Baugh Humbug for political ramblings, The Q on the QT for comments on Albuquerque events and venues. If you can't wait the links are to the left in the My Other Blogs box. And sometimes I comment at New Mexico Liberty, although those guys are way to serious and cerebral for me, well, at least they are for most of the time.

But that being said, my spring cleaning in the blogosphere is now done. You can thank me later.

Of course by the time anyone reads through all of those old posts and feels any desire to thank me I will have long since bitten the dust, just like my blogs.

Ah well, what's wrong with a belated thank you, no matter where you are.

So go ahead and thank me, no matter where I am. In the dust, or wherever.

I'll hear ya. Mom's always do.

Glug Place

And one more blog bites the dust, my very first blog way back in 2007 - Glug Place. Entries are below...

Monday, 12 November 2007

Saturday, 09 September 2006

Wednesday, 06 September 2006

Wednesday, 02 November 2005

Tuesday, 01 November 2005