Tuesday, February 16, 2010

A Writer's Woe

You must stay drunk on writing so reality cannot destroy you. ~Ray Bradbury

It has been a week since I've written, and already my mind itches to return.
But, like a tourist returning to a favorite beach without their luggage, I return with no idea what to write.
I am just here. What comes will be spontaneous, unorganized and unrehearsed. I just have to scratch.
Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart. -William Wordsworth
I started this new blog to concentrate on ten areas of my life that needed improvement. What I have discovered on my time away, is that it was not so much the act of improvement that I sought, but the ability to write about it.
I haven't found a better family, marriage, body, spirit, home..or whatever...I have just found a way to write about it. To peel it open, to inspect it, to chart it inside my memory banks for safe keeping. I have made it visible, with form- approachable and diagrammed so I could sit back and say, "This is my life. This is where I am and who I am."
Yet, the very act of writing about it helps to reveal the weaknesses and the strengths of my Ten. I've been surprised, embarrassed, confident and ashamed at the things I have found in myself.
I've scratched so hard, the truth came through.
One must be drenched in words, literally soaked in them, to have the right ones form themselves into the proper pattern at the right moment. ~Hart Crane
Being away has been liberating. A breath of fresh air. A vacation, a gift, a reward I gave myself.
My mind was so cluttered. My brain ached to write something every single day. I suffered. Putting words on paper should come easily, yet every day it was becoming more difficult. Forced. insincere and uncomfortable.
I was afraid of letting my readers down- not only if I didn't write, but if I didn't improve my life as significantly as I had promised.
As for my next book, I am going to hold myself from writing it till I have it impending in me: grown heavy in my mind like a ripe pear; pendant, gravid, asking to be cut or it will fall. ~Virginia Woolf
I will never find perfection. I will never be complete. My Ten will never be infallible.
But writing about it holds me accountable for it all. It's a mental note to myself. A reminder of the important things in life. My cue to smile, hug, pray and act. My reason to get up every morning and start the day.
To scratch the itch till it heals.
If you would not be forgotten as soon as you are dead, either write things worth reading or do things worth writing. - Benjamin Franklin
Non-writers won't understand me. It sounds like a bunch of gibberish. Flowery. Contrived. But words are important to me. They are my caffeine. My chocolate. My nicotine. My love.
But, on the other hand, they are my storm, my devil, my abyss, my restless child... my adversary.
To balance them is the secret. To harmonize is the key.
"...The words have just crawled down my sleeve and come out on the page." ~Joan Baez

This crazy explanation is just to say, I won't be writing every day. I need to come up for air once in awhile. Breathe. Observe. Stop.
I want to pursue my art a bit. It's rough. Rusty. Forsaken. But in my mind, I see good things.
And, like my writing, it is an itch that needs to be scratched. A void that needs to be filled. A part of me that needs to be explored. Captured. Smoothed.
I will continue to try to improve my life in those ten areas. And to write about them in the best way possible. Whenever the mood strikes, my hands begin to shake- and my soul can stay silent no longer.
Thanks for being my net. My support. My friend.
It is necessary to write, if the days are not to slip emptily by. How else, indeed, to clap the net over the butterfly of the moment? For the moment passes, it is forgotten; the mood is gone; life itself is gone. That is where the writer scores over his fellows: he catches the changes of his mind on the hop. ~Vita Sackville-West ****

Today's Five Things:
1. Faith
2. Purple
3. Starlight
4. Flashlights
5. Real butter


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Reaching Out

“Seek goodness everywhere, and when it is found, bring it out of its hiding place and let be free and unashamed.” -William Saroyan

Random Acts of Kindness week is celebrated on February 15-21. So, I thought I would write today about random kindness and senseless acts of beauty. How greatly they do effect our lives! Not only do we enjoy being the lucky recipient, but our hearts become happy when we practice generosity and compassion toward others. It's a win/win situation.
It's just a shame that most people have to wait until a special week is declared before they even consider the way they could touch another life. Not necessarily in a big way, but in a way that will be appreciated and remembered.
What price can you put on the smile you are given by someone that you help today?
I can live for two months on a good compliment. ~Mark Twain
Sometimes all that is needed is a few kind words. And it doesn't cost you a thing.
You should always realize that just because you woke up in a good mood, doesn't mean that everyone else did. And sometimes all that person needs to get jump started- is a smile, a compliment, or a friend to cheer them on.
Some people may be disillusioned, depressed, despondent. Sometimes they may close the door so tight that you can't get in- but just crawl through the window and sit with them awhile. Sometimes silence is the best company and company is the best gift.
On your bad days, they will remember you. And they will crawl in your window and hold your hand till the sun comes out again.
Better keep yourself clean and bright; you are the window through which you must see the world. ~George Bernard Shaw
It really doesn't matter if you get anything in return. It's like Paying it Forward, sowing seeds that will bloom later, setting a solid foundation for a good soul. You are the only one that needs to know you were kind. Conscious is a warm companion.
In our everyday lives, we are introduced to rude and insensitive people. Our human response is to lash out in a similar way- to interact on their level. To meet them on their playing field. Don't ever do it. Don't stoop to rudeness and insensitivity yourself. They will be both hurt and helped by a smile or a kind word instead. And, believe it or not, amid all the people they meet that day-they will remember you the most.
Treat everyone with politeness, even those who are rude to you - not because they are not nice- but because you are. ~Author Unknown
Yesterday I was shopping at WalMart and realized that I needed to buy laundry soap. I rolled my eyes and heaved a giant sigh as I knew the prices on laundry products are becoming outrageous. For some reason, placing a ten dollar bottle of soap in my cart is always uncomfortable for me. But I had to get something to wash clothes.
I decided on the less expensive brand, and when I went to pick it from the shelf, I saw a coupon carefully tucked beneath it. A dollar off! Wow! I immediately snatched it up and went on with my task.
“To give without any reward, or any notice, has a special quality of its own.” -Anne Morrow Lindbergh
I got to thinking later that someone had taken time to clip that coupon. Some stranger had sat down at the kitchen table in their warm house, maybe with a cup of coffee, and a pair of scissors, and gathered those paper savings into a neat pile.
Later, when they went to the store, they realized that they didn't need that coupon. That they had another, or that perhaps they could wait another day to buy soap. But by pure kindness, they decided to leave the coupon for someone who might use it.
This person could have just as easily saved it, or wadded it up into their purse- but their nature was to give. Without a seeing eye or a word of praise. Just because it was kind.
And I thank you. Not just for the dollar savings, but because- in the space of an ordinary day- you made me pause to consider kindness.
“The fact that I can plant a seed and it becomes a flower- share a bit of knowledge and it becomes another's -smile at someone and receive a smile in return- are to me continual spiritual exercises.” -Leo F. Buscaglia
I remember my sister Jewel telling a story about a incident in the grocery store parking lot. She was pushing her cart out to load her groceries, when all of a sudden, her bag of poatoes came tumbing open and sprawling across the pavement.
An elderly lady stepped up and began picking up the potatoes, reaching and bending to help Jewel grab the runaway spuds.
That old woman could have simply walked by, said, Oh, My!" and continued walking. But her kindness never gave thought to her age or health or agility. She just knew it was the right thing to do -and did it.
Jewel even wrote a letter to the editor of the paper, thanking this stranger for her act of kindness. I bet out of a thousand people she's met since then, she still remembers that kind lady.
It's discouraging to think how many people are shocked by honesty and how few by deceit. ~Noël Coward, Blithe Spirit
One way that some people like to celebrate Random Acts of Kindness is to pay for the person behind them at the fast food window. Or pay the toll for the next person at the toll booth.
It doesn't even have to be monetary.
Open a door for someone, give them your place in line, help mow their yard, fetch their paper,
run an errand, visit them with banana bread, send them a greeting card, write them a sweet letter...
...Help them pick up their potatoes- or secretly leave a coupon behind.
It doesn't matter how big or small, trivial or costly the act is.
Just do it.
The rewards are great.
The smile is priceless.

Manners are a sensitive awareness of the feelings of others. If you have that awareness, you have good manners, no matter which fork you use. ~Emily Post *****

Today's Five Things
1. Unexpected pleasures
2. Snow days
3. Cheerios
4. Comforters
5. Hot soup

Monday, February 8, 2010

Saving Snowflakes

A mother is a person who seeing there are only four pieces of pie for five people, promptly announces she never did care for pie. ~Tenneva Jordan


Being a mother is never easy. Right from the start, it's a challenge. A nine month journey of morning vomit and aching bones and the private knowledge that you are officially bigger than
Shamu. Your sexy walks becomes a waddle, your tiny belly become a blimp, and your attitude toward time is "Hurry, hurry, hurry."
Not until you have that baby- cradle that little human in your arms, do you finally say, "Slow down,Time.Please slow down..."

Most of all the other beautiful things in life come by twos and threes, by dozens and hundreds. Plenty of roses, stars, sunsets, rainbows, brothers and sisters, aunts and cousins, comrades and friends - but only one mother in the whole world. ~Kate Douglas Wiggin

Being a mother cannot be fully described. There is no set definition, because mothers are as different and unique as snowflakes.
I think the word mother is not a noun, but a verb. I mother my children. It's a process- an invisible blanket of incubation that never fades- a halo of love that is never broken. A daily piece of your heart that is divided and freely given.
Sometimes that piece of your heart returns to you full of pride and joy. Other times, it's a bit broken, fractured, or a tiny bit bruised. But you never stop giving it. You hope. You love. You mother.
“I want my children to have all the things I couldn't afford. Then I want to move in with them.” Phyllis Diller

If they gave awards for mothering, my mom would surely have a giant one. Because everything I do in my adult life- my choices,my attitude and my convictions are all based on how she raised me. A mothers heart and hands never leave ones memory.
My mother's heart was as big as all the world, and although she had nine children- it was never too crowded or too busy or too tired to fit us in.
And her hands are wings now- still guiding me with an unseen gentleness that propels my life.
There is no blueprint, no instruction booklet, no expert that can tell you how to be a mom. It just happens. Just as simply and as quietly as stars appear in a darkened sky. And as miraculously.
A mother is the truest friend we have, when trials heavy and sudden, fall upon us; when adversity takes the place of prosperity; when friends who rejoice with us in our sunshine desert us; when trouble thickens around us, still will she cling to us, and endeavor by her kind precepts and counsels to dissipate the clouds of darkness, and cause peace to return to our hearts. ~Washington Irving

I like to think that I am a good mother, but it is the final outcome- the end result of my mothering that will matter in this world. If I have raised intelligent, independent, compassionate, and happy children, then I have succeeded on my part. Yet, ultimately their own choices will shape their lives.
Mothering well- is knowing that those choices will be based on what you have taught them, shown them, and been for them.
It is knowing you did your best even during the rough and dark times. That you didn't loose courage or determination or affection. That you kept right on walking through the storms because you knew the sun would shine again, brighter than ever.
“Every mother is like Moses. She does not enter the promised land. She prepares a world she will not see.” Pope Paul VI
I know that I won't always be here for my children. I realize that Time didn't really slow down like I asked it to. I see that my babies are adults- and memories are all I have of their Story of Growing Up. But they sure are good ones.
I cannot forget my mother. She was my bridge. When I needed to get across, she steadied herself long enough for me to run across safely. ~Renita Weems

I vow to be a better mother. To listen more closely. To criticize less, hug more, give a little breathing room. To adore and memorize my adult children from afar-as well as I did when they were clinging to my neck or sleeping in my lap.
Definition of children: The same as the definition of mother:
They are as different and unique as snowflakes. Handle them with care. They will too soon drift away.
Youth fades; love droops; the leaves of friendship fall; A mother's secret hope outlives them all. ~Oliver Wendell Holmes
Here's to you, Mom. For warm memories of home. Of kitchen tables and fresh coffee- of jelly donuts and pork chops in grease gravy- of gardens and tulips and bleeding hearts- of blue dresses and garters and fuzzy pink house slippers- of powdered donuts and soap operas and visits to the neighbors- of Christmases and fireworks and Croatian bread- but mostly, Mom, thank you for your mothering. Your endless love. Your lessons.

Funny... after all these years, I still keep saying the same thing over and over-
"Slow down,Time.Please slow down..."

The moment a child is born, the mother is also born. She never existed before. The woman existed, but the mother, never. A mother is something absolutely new. ~Rajneesh

Today's Five Things:
1. Memories
2. Hot wings
3. Real butter
4. A Warm towel
5. Erasers

Friday, February 5, 2010

Love Notes

Spouse: someone who'll stand by you through all the trouble you wouldn't have had if you'd stayed single. ~Author Unknown
Men are funny creatures. It is amazing to me that they have the same number of fingers and toes that a woman does. Because at times they seem so alien- so vastly opposite from the female- that I am certain all relationships must be miracles.
They are the divine labor of God. There's no other explanation why the two sexes come together, love, marry, and multiply.
But they say there is someone for everyone. And that all matches are made in heaven.
Good thing.
Or I would have never looked twice at my husband.
Anyone can catch your eye, but it takes someone special to catch your heart.
~Author Unknown

At nineteen, I wasn't really looking for love. I was looking for my wings. Which meant fun, weekend parties, beer, rock and roll music, friends and- did I mention fun?
I suppose in the back of my mind, I had a rough idea of what I wanted in a man- what type of husband I would choose if that choice ever presented itself.
Of course, he would be handsome. Ride a white horse. Sweep me off my feet.
We would gallop away into the sunset.
Happy Rich.
And Crazy in Love.

We choose those we like; with those we love, we have no say in the matter.
~Mignon McLaughlin


But, he came in jeans and a pony tail. Tan, smiling, in an old blue Datsun with his German Shepherd, Abe.
He caught my eye, but I did not consider him a possible love interest.
That was-
not until he considered it first...
You have to walk carefully in the beginning of love; the running across fields into your lover's arms can only come later when you're sure they won't laugh if you trip. ~Jonathan Carroll, "Outside the Dog Museum"
I loved his smile. His eyes. And his edgy humor.
But he came with baggage. An Ex. A child. A dog.
A hundred vinyl LP's, tie dye, and Earth Shoes.
But after our first date, all I saw was his good heart.
And it didn't hurt a bit that he was a good kisser.
Love - a wildly misunderstood although highly desirable malfunction of the heart which weakens the brain, causes eyes to sparkle, cheeks to glow, blood pressure to rise and the lips to pucker. ~Author Unknown

After four months of dating, we were married.
See- I told you that God works miracles. And this one has lasted almost 35 years.
Which only goes to say- keep your eyes open to possibilities. Love may come when you least expect it, from where you least expect it. It may be completely different than the dream you had or the image you created, but when it happens -you will know.
You will miss him in minutes. Laugh at his stupid jokes. Spend money on clothes and perfume to attract him. Forsake your friends and learn to like sports.
Consider his history, but say anyway- "Come on- I love you regardless."
And you'll mean it.
To find someone who will love you for no reason, and to shower that person with reasons, that is the ultimate happiness. ~Robert Brault
I realize that finding love is the easy part. Keeping it gets rough.
It means having to say you're sorry a thousand times. But also being able to forgive just as many.
It is a daily effort to keep it alive. There has to be a lot of mouth-to-mouth resuscitation,
heart palpitations, fever, and compatibility...  And drug one another with kindness.
It's like a car- when it starts getting rusty you have to oil it. Change the tires once in awhile. Shine it up real good when it gets a little ugly.
(And, baby- keep on honkin' the horn! )
Real love will get you down the road a billion miles or more- and never even look at another car.
Love doesn't sit there like a stone, it has to be made, like bread; remade all of the time, made new. ~Ursula K. LeGuin
I treasure my husband as though he were part of me. And I thank God everyday for being an excellent matchmaker.
There will always be obstacles, differences, and seeds of darkness in a marriage.
If you build bridges of communication, the obstacles can be washed away.
If you are open to suggestions, changes, or agreements- the differences can be shortened.
And if you plant plenty of sunshine, those bad seeds will never germinate.

He felt now that he was not simply close to her, but that he did not know where he ended and she began. ~Leo Tolstoy
I am not an expert on marriage. I don't claim to know the secrets of happily ever after.
But I do know it doesn't come together without mutual discipline.
I know that sometimes silence can be the knife that slices the sharpest.
So, today I am going to tell my husband how much I love him, respect him and appreciate him.
The way to love anything is to realize that it may be lost. ~G.K. Chesterton
None of us are perfect, and therefore, cannot have perfect lives. But we can all work harder to make the lives we have a little better. Sweeter. Funner.
Even if these alien men have captured our hearts and taken over the remote control!

In marriage....
May you always see the sunshine through the clouds.
Brown hair beneath the gray.
A great supper on the dollar menu.
A beautiful dance in an awkward stumble.
A happy face on the pillow next to yours.
An opportunity in a rain storm.
A spark amid adversity.
A miracle in your man.

Happy Valentines Day!!!

When you're in love you never really know whether your elation comes from the qualities of the one you love, or if it attributes them to her; whether the light which surrounds her like a halo comes from you, from her, or from the meeting of your sparks. ~Natalie Clifford Barney
Love is the thing that enables a woman to sing while she mops up the floor after her husband has walked across it in his barn boots. ~Author unknown


Thursday, February 4, 2010

On Becoming You

Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else. ~Judy Garland
It continually amazes me how much peer pressure effects young peoples choices.
How what their friends or heroes or neighbors are doing- touches them immensely.
How adopting, mimicking, and following someone elses dress and habits- can somehow make them unique. Or cool. Or happy.
Maybe it is just my age, but I get disgusted with some fashions and fads and celebrity trash that think they are some type of idols. Face it- you are just human. Having purple hair, driving a Porsche and blacking your eyes does not make you indestructible. Or better. Or special.
Is is a type of wanderlust? Retaliation? A call for help?
The hardest thing about life is knowing who you are.
Even at my age, I'm a little confused.
It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are. ~e.e. cummings
When I was little, I wanted to grow up to be an artist or a teacher.
I am neither.
Unless you count my play times with paint and the way I raised my children. I suppose there is a little of each dream inside of me, but neither one ever emerged in full force or completely.
I am a kaleidoscope of many things. A tapestry of songs. A quilt of thoughts. A puzzle of dreams. A map of places I've been and places I want to someday go. I am only what my heart feels and my words speak.
All the rest is just covering. Decoration or disguise.
Does your clothing reflect who is inside- or who you wish to be?
Almost every man wastes part of his life in attempts to display qualities which he does not possess, and to gain applause which he cannot keep. ~Samuel Johnson, The Rambler, 1750
I remember how hard it was in high school to keep up with the cool kids. My sister and I always seemed to get the latest fashion- only when it was too late. It was out of style and laughed upon by the time we owned it.
I guess I realized then that it was just a game. Those kids were the same kids with or without the cool bell bottoms and peasant blouse or newsboy hat.
And I was the same person, too.
In my Wranglers and Chukka boots and shag hair cut.
Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don't matter and those who matter don't mind. ~Dr. Seuss
I don't care about keeping up with the Jone's. Having bigger and better than my neighbors or friends.
I buy and nurture what is comfortable for me and what makes me happy. My decisions are based on feelings, not fashion. On my heart, and not Hollywood. On myself- and not myriads of people struggling to die with the most toys.
Maybe I'm weird.
Call me snobby. Eccentric. Static. A party-pooper.
But, you know- Words don't matter. Labels don't count.
If you are my friend, you know the score -and you'll come drink coffee with me at the kitchen table.
Individualism is rather like innocence: There must be something unconscious about it. ~Louis Kronenberger, Company Manners, 1954

I read a quote the other day that said "Life is not about finding yourself- It's about creating yourself."
Well put.
I'm still trying to create myself. Attempting to put all the good parts of myself together and shuck all the bad parts. To shed old skin for new skin. Dusty ideas for bright ones.
Yet, I follow my own path, Sometimes it's weedy and overgrown and I get lost.
But other times it's like a perfect swim. I glide and smile and see the goal.
Sometimes I'm so closed-minded that there is nothing but a dark hole.
Yet other times, my mind is so open that you can't see the edge of the horizon.

There are joys which long to be ours. God sends ten thousands truths, which come about us like birds seeking inlet; but we are shut up to them, and so they bring us nothing, but sit and sing awhile upon the roof, and then fly away. ~Henry Ward Beecher
I vow to be more open to God's gifts. To listen more closely to my own drum. Do I just want to see beautiful things- or create beautiful things? Hear songs- or sing songs? Watch
the stars- or to reach out to touch them?
We make our own mold. Shape it. Carve it. Chisel it from a blueprint that our hearts make.

Here's hoping that you are you today.
That your eyes are not blinded by wealth or power or fame, but by the soul within you that shines like a lighthouse to guide your life.

Every day is another chance to create who you are.

There's a period of life when we swallow a knowledge of ourselves and it becomes either good or sour inside. ~Pearl Bailey

Today's Five Things:
1. Paper clips
2. Rugs
3. Yellow finches
4. Mail
5. A new magazine

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Porch Party

I thank you God for this most amazing day, for the leaping greenly spirits of trees, and for the blue dream of sky and for everything which is natural, which is infinite, which is yes.
~e.e. cummings

Nature is a wonderful thing-and there is no better place to enjoy it than a porch. It is such a vital part of every home.
It's a free seat to a sunrise, a dry place during a rain storm, and a vantage point for experiencing the seasons.
No matter if you perch on the step, a rocker, or a lawn chair- the miracles are still the same. It's just Life- floating by your door in colors and sounds and scents and textures. Ready to put on a show. Willing to pull you in to the beautiful world of nature. Hoping that you will stop. Take time. Indulge your senses.
Nature is man's teacher. She unfolds her treasures to his search, unseals his eye, illumes his mind, and purifies his heart; an influence breathes from all the sights and sounds of her existence. ~Alfred Billings Street
Poor, dear, silly Spring, preparing her annual surprise! ~Wallace Stevens *****
Even though it is only February, I can see the earth changing. Almost as though everything is getting ready. As though the birds are giddy for a new nest- the sky is awaiting warm winds- the trees are hiding their excitement of blooms.
And things we can't see are preparing. Daffodils are reaching closer to the surface, the sun moves ever so slightly in the sky, and animals begin to awaken from their winter sleep.
A porch gives you the very best seat for the performance...
And you will never be disappointed.
The sun and the moon always rises. They always set. Grass turns green again and spring returns. These are promises never broken.
No winter lasts forever; no spring skips its turn. ~Hal Borland

To find the universal elements enough; to find the air and the water exhilarating; to be refreshed by a morning walk or an evening saunter; to be thrilled by the stars at night; to be elated over a bird's nest or a wildflower in spring - these are some of the rewards of the simple life. ~John Burroughs

I am guilty myself of not taking the time to step out on my porch and watch the sunrise. Just what am I doing for those few minutes that I cannot stop to look- to experience- to share? Every single day we are blessed with signs that prove we are alive- that God has given us another day- that we are not subject to eternal darkness and indifference.
Everyday we are made new again. And so is nature.
Forever moving- changing- morphing-growing-playing... And for what other reason than to bring us joy?
There are wonderful gifts beyond your porch. Have you unwrapped them yet today?
Everything is blooming most recklessly; if it were voices instead of colors, there would be an unbelievable shrieking into the heart of the night. ~Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters of Rainer Maria Rilke

I need to believe that the dishes can wait. That what is going on outdoors is of greater importance than the laundry- can bring me more sincere happiness than the television- and can relax me more than a shot of liquor or a lazy nap.
Someday when we are stuffed into a nursing home -or our lives become contained in a small room with a lumpy bed- when we are someday unable to enjoy the porch or the yard-
we will mourn it with a deep sadness.With penetrating regret that we were not a good spectator
during those days when our eyes were able to see, our hands feel, our noses smell and our ears hear.
Don't wait too late.
Spring will be back for encore performance.
But you may not be.
Let the rain kiss you. Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops. Let the rain sing you a lullaby. ~Langston Hughes
Where does the white go when the snow melts? ~Author Unknown

Meditation is something that could benefit us all. Moments where we turn off everything and open our souls to the things around us. A chirping bird, the wind in the pines, a fish jumping on the pond- to see lilac streaks upon the sky- a firefly beating in the darkness- the feel of moist earth and green corn- the smell of hay and honeysuckle and rain....
I vow to take more time to open my eyes. To inhale the sweetness of the seasons.
To rock on my porch and applaud what I see- and be thankful another new day has arrived.
As each day comes to us refreshed and anew, so does my gratitude renew itself daily. The breaking of the sun over the horizon is my grateful heart dawning upon a blessed world. ~Adabella Radici
Hem your blessings with thankfulness so they don't unravel. ~Author Unknown

Today's Five Things:
1. My porch
2. Green grass
3. Cold watermelon
4. Home made ice cream
5. Soft sweaters

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Big Faith. Little Bites.

Put "eat chocolate" at the top of your list of things to do today. That way, at least you'll get one thing done. ~Author Unknown

It's quite difficult to get through my lists of resolutions when the world just wants to tempt me. Have you ever seen so many chocolate commercials and store displays in all your life? Why is it that they seem to know I'm only millimeters from falling off the wagon and into their dessert cart? Does somebody get extreme satisfaction of watching me drool, sweat, and tiptoe past the candy?
It's not fair. Why can't I simply love lettuce? Why don't I crave carrots? Why aren't my fantasies composed of bean sprouts and hummus?
Diets, simply put- are the Devil.
Chocolate is ground from the beans of happiness. ~Alexis F. Hope
With Valentine's Day approaching, merchants seem to think we are all going to quit our diets for a day to scarf down a heart shaped box of chocolates. (Darn it! Makes me so mad when they are right!)
It seems that on the first of January there were displays of all-natural fiber, lo-cal luxuries, and fat free feasts to help us weight challenged people to jump start our new year. Then, before we've even finished the pack of rice cakes, the bundle of radishes or the sawdust cereal, they start waving the Super Bowl in front of us.
And I'm not talking just ads for nachos here. I'm talking ooey-gooey ,cheesy-pleasey, chili-fied, and sauce smothered- with crispy fresh and flavorably salty chips, heaped high into a mountain of pure sin.
Enough said.
Wipe your chin and listen up.
"Nine out of ten people like chocolate. The tenth person always lies." - John Q. Tullius
We are better than butter and buns and cookies and crepes! We must unite! And show places like WalMart that we are strong! That we can make it through this month of trials and torture!
That our firm bodies will be slipping into naughty elf suits by Christmas! (Instead of our traditional Santa suits!)
We just gotta look ahead. And see the light.
My light says "Fresh Donuts Now".
Don't wreck a sublime chocolate experience by feeling guilty. ~Lora Brody
Seriously, if we don't put our feet and forks down now, our health, appearance and our relationships will be tested. And I want more than all the world to hold my head high and say I've done it! I've made it! I reached my goal! I've got a closet full of new jeans I can't wear and tops I can't stretch wide enough. And my mirror reflects more rolls than a Pillsbury party.
I've done it before and I can do it again. Like they say, "Nothing tastes as good as being thin feels."

Seize the moment. Remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart. ~Erma Bombeck
That said, if my husband buys me chocolates for Valentine's Day, I won't kill him. But I won't shovel the entire two-layer box of Witman Sampler's in my mouth in one sitting, either. I will only enjoy one a day- let the yumminess dance in my mouth like a velvet lump of honey- savoring the treat as a reward for holding back. For my hellish moderation and good sense.
That, my friends, is the secret to a successful diet.
Big Faith. Little Bites.

The best day of your life is the one on which you decide your life is your own. No apologies or excuses. No one to lean on, rely on, or blame. The gift is yours - it is an amazing journey - and you alone are responsible for the quality of it. This is the day your life really begins. ~Bob Moawad

Today's Five Things:
1. Rice vinegar
2. Subway
3. Blank canvas
4. Old gourds
5. Thick stew

Monday, February 1, 2010

Somewhere In Time

In nothing are we as rich as in our memories; they are pictures painted by our hearts, and nothing can erase them.

-- Flavia
Memories are strange things. They can be objects, souvenirs, a box full of photos. But, they can also be a mist of days you can see in your mind- a heap of happy that tickles in your heart- things you yearn for and wish could be made real again.
Nothing is more bittersweet than seeing your children grow up.
(Your arms want to hold them forever, but your feet are ready to kick them out and say "I told you so." -that "money doesn't grow on trees"- and "now you'll find out who pays the electric bill." )
Yet, as my nest is eerily quiet now, I focus upon my memories- like pieces of jigsaw puzzles in a cyclone. Like overflowing file cabinets in my brain.They flood my heart and comfort my soul and make me smile.
But every day they fade a little more. Washed away like sand. Pulled away by the forces of time and nature. Colors fuse, years are foggy, places become obscure and conversations forgotten.
That's why we should all keep a journal. A diary. A place for memories to live in their tangible form.
A scrapbook, a photo album, a video library. A place where age cannot undermine the clarity of those moments.
What we remember from childhood we remember forever - permanent ghosts, stamped, inked, imprinted, eternally seen. ~Cynthia Ozick
That being said, as parents we need to be careful what memories that our children keep. The time you fought and cursed over the dent in the car- should not be remembered over the fishing trip one summer. Sad times should be smothered by the happy ones.
(And for all intents and purposes, they should not remember the time you did a hippo flop playing basketball at 40, tried cartwheels at age 50 and twisted your rotator cuff, or fell in a ditch at Halloween last year- dressed like a witch and reeking of wine.)
Memory is a child walking along a seashore. You never can tell what small pebble it will pick up and store away among its treasured things. ~Pierce Harris, Atlanta Journal
I believe memories have to be nurtured- invented- pursued.
Don't let anything deter you from planning that family vacation, the weekend outing, that special game night at home. These are the days they will remember.
While away in a lonely college dorm, driving to work on a snowing morning, watching their own children play in the sand.... your children will fondly recall family times.
And without saying it, they will thank you.
Pleasure is the flower that passes; remembrance, the lasting perfume. ~Jean de Boufflers
Sometimes it's not easy making memories.
For a few years, camping was our way of making the family bonds- of seeking new places and faces and adventures for our children to tuck into the keepsake boxes of their hearts.
It was a pain to prepare. To load swim wear and water shoes and sleeping bags and pillows and blankets and mosquito repellent and coolers and food and snacks and the camera and tents and a radio and utensils and ...I was worn out and ready to stay home!
But, once we reached our destination, I was always glad we went. The kids explored the woods, caught fish, swam in the river, and sat around the fire as we talked and laughed...and made memories.
Today they remember things about our camping trips that I had forgotten. They were experiences that help mold and fashion their character.
Don't ever think a moment is too small for a memory.
Even one second, well spent- will never be forgotten.
“The memories of my family outings are still a source of strength to me. I remember we'd all pile into the car - I forget what kind it was - and drive and drive. I'm not sure where we'd go, but I think there were some trees there. The smell of something was strong in the air as we played whatever sport we played. I remember a bigger, older guy we called "Dad." We'd eat some stuff, or not, and then I think we went home. I guess some things never leave you.”
Jack Handy

I hope my kids and grand kids remember me in a good way.
Not me standing at the sink in my ragged robe and argyle socks- cursing the Thanksgiving turkey because it was still frozen-
or the time I accidentally dyed my hair red and wore a bandanna for three days-
or the time I was moving rocks by the pond and ripped off an entire fingernail...
Well-okay-you get the idea.
I want them to remember my laugh, my smile, my love of giving parties. My love of coffee and chocolate- of writing and painting- of loving their father...
Of the hundred times I dragged that stupid tent down from the attic and squeezed it into a crowded truck bed- just so they could go to the river.
Things like that.
Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose. ~From the television show The Wonder Years
What I'm trying to say today is- make some memories. Don't wait for them to happen. Go find them.
Make your memory file box so full that you will never be lonely, sad or forgotten.
Enjoy family times. Together. As a circle of people bound by blood and love.
Your children will always be made grateful, stronger, and be forever comforted by their memories.
Take the time. Take the money. Take the chance.
And someday when you find yourself in a quiet house- an empty nest- you can sit by the window and reflect on what treasures you have given them.
It won't be the new CD, the money for gas, the used furniture or the leftover casserole that they will remember and love you for.
It will be a piece of your self.
Of time unselfishly given.
Of sincere smiles and awkward moments and a string of priceless days.
Of camping and cartwheels.
Monopoly and movies.
Fishing and friends.
Beaches and balloons.
Sunsets and smiles...

And, darn it- frozen turkey, too.
Nothing is more memorable than a smell. One scent can be unexpected, momentary and fleeting, yet conjure up a childhood summer beside a lake in the mountains; another, a moonlit beach; a third, a family dinner of pot roast and sweet potatoes during a myrtle-mad August in a Midwestern town. Smells detonate softly in our memory like poignant land mines hidden under the weedy mass of years. Hit a tripwire of smell and memories explode all at once. A complex vision leaps out of the undergrowth. ~Diane Ackerman, A Natural History of the Senses
Today's Five Things
1. Memories
2. Sharpies
3. Lists
4. Sunsets
5. Honeysuckle