Friday, December 31, 2010

new year's eve is kinda dumb

I am not a "New Year's Eve" kind of person. I do not like staying up late. If I am up past 10:00, it is usually not my choice and I am usually not happy about it. I don't really like loud things and big parties and crowds of people. And all of those things seem to be associated with New Year's Eve.

Plus, I just don't see it. All this fuss over the turning of a calendar page. The clock ticking from one day to the next. Because that's what it really is. I know that I have to put a new calendar on the wall and start remembering to write 2011 on my checks (because I still write checks... I don't even have a debit card....). But all I really see in another new day.

And I wonder why all this fuss doesn't go in to celebrating each new day. Why don't we stop each night and count up the blessing from that day? (Like breathing in and out, and seeing the birds at the birdfeeder....) Why don't we, each morning, look ahead to the adventures of the day to come? (Like going to the grocery store, and taking a walk after dinner....) Why do we wait until the end of one year and the beginning of the next to take stock and celebrate?

So.... I suppose I will be putting in an appearance at the New Year's parties I've been invited too. I suppose I will laugh and smile and eat and play with all of the other revelers.

But I'll also be home long before the "ball drops." And, as 2010 winds down, I'll do what I do every night before bed - sit in meditation and thanks for the day that was. And tomorrow morning, as 2011 starts up, I'll do what I do every morning - sit in meditation and thanks for the day ahead.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

you capture - holiday favorites

Although this holiday was filled with much joyous hustle and bustle and baking and eating and fun and laughing, I think it is the quiet moments that stand out most in my mind.

Christmas Eve at home....

Christmas morning sunrise...

Finding a quiet place to walk in the aftermath...


see more at Beth's

new and old

This week of the year always seems a bit odd, a bit off, to me.

After all the build-up to Christmas, the baking and the lights and the trees and the decorations and the wrapping and the happy.... It's over. And there's this feeling of "now what?"

Once things are over and done, I don't necessarily like to linger, but I also kind of have a hard time letting go. I've got most of my holiday decorations packed up and put away. But the tree is still up, still shining in the window. It will make me sad to take it down this weekend.

There are also some random presents still lying about. I tend to do that. I think it's because I like the newness of them. Sometimes, when things are new, I really want them to stay new. I don't want to use them or wear them out or break them in. I don't know why. I've been that way for as long as I can remember. I try to keep things perfect and new. And I get a little sad when I finally do have to use them and make them not new anymore. Which, I guess, is extra odd since all of the material things that are most special to me are nowhere near new, and haven't been for a long time.

Yesterday I bought new running shoes. I should have done it months ago. But this morning, I sat and stared at them for a long time before I actually put them on. Then there was this really long pause before I went out the door. Because once they hit the pavement, they weren't new any more. They were just shoes.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

today, by the numbers

36 - years I've spent on Earth, as of today

30 - minutes I spent in meditation this morning

90 - minutes of yoga following the meditation

10 - number of miles run following the yoga

5 - number of months since I've been able to run that far

105 - number of minutes it took me to run that far

4 - number of times on the run that my knee did that popping thing that causes me to hop a little

0 - number of times I thought about stopping the run

1 - pieces of fudge I've eaten today (so far...)

countless - number of blessings I have

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

you capture - Christmas magic (lights)

I am a firm believer in Christmas magic.

And I believe that much of that magic in brought forth in lights.

There are just so many lights.

So much brightness.

So much illumination.

It makes it hard for darkness to take hold.

I hope you see it, too.

I hope Christmas is magic for you, too.

"Wonder comes smiling to our storm-cursed world; Storm stops, night stops, darkness takes flight!" - Tony Abbott, Kringle

Merry Christmas!


See more at Beth's.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

christmas list

1. I've noticed that, for some reason, Christmas Spirit seems to be lacking this year. I don't know why. But I try to share mine, usually in the form of baked goods.

2. I don't have children, but I'm around them quite a lot. And they've got the Spirit. And they aren't afraid to flaunt it. And they made me smile.

2. When The Polar Express was new and in the theater, I took my cousin's daughter to see it. When it got to the end, where Santa takes off, and the elves start their elf party, and the party entertainment in Steven Tyler, I literally sat up bolt straight and pointed at the screen, because ohmygosh it's Steven! And there was no one there who understood my happiness. But as the credits were rolling and the lady sitting behind me and I were bundling up our respective small children, she looked at me and said "That was Steven Tyler, right?!?" And I said "YES! Ohmygosh it WAS!" And we both giggled and went on with our day.

3. If you look at the printed lyrics of the song Steven Tyler sings in The Polar Express, the lyrics read "blow your horn and swing that girl." But if you listen to the song on The Polar Express soundtrack, I reeeeeallly don't think that's what he actually says. I do believe he says "blow" and that he says "swing that girl." But, um, the rest? I don't think he mentions a horn.

4. Do They Know It's Christmas by Band Aid stands as one of the great cultural moments of my life. I mean, Bono, Sting, and Simon LeBon all on one microphone at one time? I wanted to be that microphone at one point in my life. In addition, my cousin and I used to sing "feed the squirrels" instead of "feed the world."

5. This was my boss on the last day of school before Christmas break. Yep. Dressed as Buddy the Elf and skateboarding through the hallways.

6. Christmas (Baby Please Come Home) as sung by U2 makes me instantly happy. When I actually get to see the video, I might squeal just a little. Especially that little look that Edge gives to Bono. Yeah. You might not have any clue what I mean. Just trust me. It's adorable.

7. I Believe in Father Christmas, as sung by U2, is Hubby's favorite Christmas song.

8. Hubby and I have a week of "holiday meals" planned. So I bought Santa napkins, just to make things a bit more festive.

9. I sent out more Christmas cards this year than ever before. I think I am one of four people who sent out Christmas cards this year. But I love Christmas cards. I see it as a nice way to say hello and send love and peace and happiness to people that you don't often get to see or talk to; just a way to let them know you think of them and wish them good things.

10. I think I might have a problem. The Lindt dark chocolate peppermint truffles would be in this photo also, except that I ate them all already. But don't worry. We bought more last night. Seriously. I think I might have a problem.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

you capture - outside

We had a bit of a storm in my area. I really wasn't keen to go outside in it. Not even to run. I just kind of stared out of the window.

Eventually I got a little closer to the window, just out of curiosity, since I couldn't really see what was happening outside, what with all the snowing and the blowing and the zero visibility.

But it finally stopped, or slowed, or whatever, and I made it out the back door....

.... and into the yard.

I really love winter. And I'm not even kidding. I love this.


see more at Beth's.

the north pole, but a little further south

Every year, just after Thanksgiving, packages that I didn't order start arriving on my doorstep. Initially, it freaks me out - a package sitting on my porch, addressed to me, when I know I did not order anything from Target (at least, not lately). But then I giggle a little and grin and realize that, no, I didn't order it. Best Friend ordered it. And it's a Christmas present for one of her two girls.

I love that. I love that all the Christmas gifts for my goddaughters start out at my house. I love that Best Friend and I will talk in code about what has arrived or has yet to arrive. I love opening the boxes and seeing what will make those girls smile on Christmas morning. I love that they have no clue that this happens. And I will love, when they are older, telling them the stories about how my house was, in fact, their North Pole.

Monday, December 13, 2010

musings on a snow day

Last night, the wind howled and the snow flew. When the sun came up, this was the view out of my back porch.

We had a snow day today. I love snow days. I don't even care that they have to be made up later. I fully accept them for the gift that they are. Usually I use a snow day to finish up all of the work I had brought home but didn't do. But I finished all of my work last night. (I was planning to hand it all back this morning.) So I was staring at a day with no work, no plans, and no obligations. I didn't know those existed. I wasn't sure what to do.

I made some hot cocoa for breakfast. Then I settled onto the couch to watch It's a Wonderful Life. And I watched out the window as the snow continued to blow and drift.

I made chocolate chip cookies and listened to Christmas music. I once heard that you shouldn't be snowbound without chocolate chip cookies, so, you know, I had to honor that rule.

I ventured out into the wind and the snow and the blowing to mail off some Christmas packages.
I came home and made dinner.
I shoveled snow with Hubby.
Now I'm going to drink tea and watch a Christmas movie.

This has been the best day in a long time.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

finding some happy

It's busy. Really busy. Crazy busy. Created busy. I'm having to fit things in where I can. And I'm finding it hard to keep any kind of balance right now. I'm trying. Oh, am I trying. But most of the time, I'm not succeeding.

But I'm trying. And I'm looking for those small things. The little things that can bring a smile, a few moments of happiness, a giggle. Those small moments can be a saving grace in a maddening day.

I found a few this weekend. Some just waiting for me, some made by me. But they were there.

I hope you find some happiness, too.

party on

I don't like parties. I don't like gatherings. I don't like large groups of people.

I just don't.

I'm in the minority on this. I know that. Especially in my little corner of the world.

I'm surrounded by people who like to gather and party and be a large group of people. Often. Maybe even as much as possible.

I shouldn't even say I don't like parties. Sometimes they're nice. Occasionally. Once in awhile. But not all the time.

Because I also like time to not have to go to a party or gather with a large group of people. Sometimes out of necessity, as in there is so much other stuff that needs to be done (whether at work, at home, whatever) that there just isn't time to cram in another thing. Sometimes out of lack of desire, as in I am just not in the mood to be around a large group of people and I want some (gasp!) time that's quite and/or mine.

Sometimes it's nice to be able to miss people. To wonder what they've been up to, how they're doing. It makes it nice to see those people again, to gather with them and sit and talk and eat and whatever.

But sometimes there's just too much togetherness. (I don't have to wonder what you've been up to because I just saw you....) And then it doesn't feel like fun to gather with people I love and care about. It becomes another on a long list of obligations. And that's not fun at all.

Is that a scrooge-ish sentiment? Maybe. Probably.

But I feel it, all the same.

(I will most likely be tarred and feathered for saying all of this.)

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

you capture - sweet

Yes, Virginia....


see more at Beth's.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

in the spirit

These two Marine sergeants, both combat veterans, had a very different mission Friday night.

They stood outside the local chocolate shop, in 17 degree temperatures, collecting toys for Toys for Tots. They collected seven (!) boxes full of toys for local children. People who didn't have a toy gave cash. People who didn't have cash stopped and shook these men's hands and said "thank you." It was amazing.

Inside the shop was amazing, too. It was wall to wall people, standing shoulder to shoulder. Children and adults of all ages, packed in to ward off the cold with cocoa or coffee. The line wound all through the little shop, then doubled back around. The wait was long. And no one complained. People were kind. They were understanding. They smiled and chatted with strangers. All employees were there. Most donating their time. Some had been there since the shop opened at 7 a.m. And no one complained. They were smiling and laughing and serving warmth of all kinds.

The bell choir from a local church was playing there, too. People (small children, too!) sat in silence, smiling, listening to this amazing choir play Christmas carols in the most beautiful fashion.

I found the Christmas spirit. It was alive and well, and reminding everyone present that evening just what this season is all about. That was pretty amazing, too.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

you capture - kindred

I went to a friend's wedding last weekend. (She got married the way I did, over Thanksgiving weekend.) They were married in a barn. It was beautiful and special and unique.

She and her new husband are a perfect match. I'm not sure I've ever seen two people fit together better. Kindred spirits for sure.

I guess it's only natural that, at someone else's wedding, you think about your own wedding. And I did. And that's hard for me, because, looking back now, with what I learned after the fact, with everything that happened after the fact, I don't have a lot of happy wedding memories.

Hubby and I talk about that sometimes. And sometimes we talk about having a "do-over." Maybe, some day, we will. Or, maybe, we won't.

Either way, any way, we're still pretty kindred ourselves.

That doesn't change.


see more at Beth's

Friday, November 26, 2010

five years

About a month after we were married, I started to notice some changes in Hubby. Just subtle shifts. Little things. But they worried me. He seemed to be pulling away, withdrawing.

Then came the weekend that he packed a bag, said he was going to the Big City to hang out with people he used to work with. And I wasn't invited. Those were all the details I got. He disappeared. Didn't come home. Wouldn't answer his phone. Just gone.

Then came the weekend he looked me in the eye, told me the worst kind of lie, and drove away.

Then all hell broke loose.

And it stayed loose for a long time.

Hubby was at the start of the breakdown that, unknown to me, had been years in the making. He was shutting down, pulling away, turning into someone I didn't want to know.

I was falling apart at the seams trying to keep everything together. I lost 30 pounds in the blink of an eye; wasn't eating, sleeping; was barely functioning.

So much, too much, was coming to the surface. Lies (and lies and lies and lies), hidden pieces, self-centeredness, inability to love.

There was too much yelling, too much fighting, too much crying, too much silence.

There were so many times it felt like he was doing thing specifically to try and get me to leave. And I kept say that if he wanted this to end, he would have to do it.

And then one day I said "Five years. I'll give it five years. If things are not markedly better by our fifth year, I'm leaving and you won't see me again." What I meant was "I cannot do this, cannot live like this for one more day, one more minute and I want to leave right now this very second." Five years was the life raft I threw out to myself.

And then came rock bottom. In a horrid whisper-scream and a flood of tears. And I saw everything in a new light. How can you know anything but to lie when that's all you've ever seen? All you've ever known? All you've ever been shown?

Hubby wanted help. And he wanted to talk, and he wanted me there so that he wouldn't tell lies. And I heard things that made me sad and angry and horrified, all in equal measure. Things I couldn't believe, things I didn't want to believe. Things I had to believe. Because they were true.

And little by little, in tiny baby steps, things started to get better.

Hubby had to make unbelievably hard choices. He worked every day to become the person he wanted to be. He had so much to learn, so much to do.

It was hard. It is hard.



There are still issues. Of course there are. I'm sure there always will be. But they are hurdles to jump over, not mountains to claw over.

Today is our fifth anniversary.

The only bag I have packed is my purse. Because we are going out to celebrate this small miracle of a day.

Five years seems to have gone by so quickly, and it seems to have been a hundred years long.

We've both changed almost immeasurably.

But there is no one else I'd rather pass the time with.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

you capture - I ate this

Hubby and I went here

and I ate this.....

It might be the best thing I've ever eaten.

Seriously. It was that good.


see more at Beth's

Sunday, November 21, 2010

a list for a sunday

1. Ohmygosh, I'm busy these days.

2. I feel the pressure of time right now. Like there so much to do and not nearly enough time in which to do it. I'm sure part of this is invented by me. But part of it is the knowledge of what's coming up in the next few weeks and knowing how much time that will take.

3. I moved too quickly through Target today and forgot a bunch of what I needed. But somehow came home with a new pillow.

4. I feel horrible and guilty for having not yet read the proof copy of Hubby new book of poetry. It arrived this week. He asked me to read it, and I want to read it when I have time to give it my full attention, and not hop up and down 37 times to do other things. And that doesn't seem to have happened yet.

5. It's not Thanksgiving yet and I've already cried twice over Christmas related things. I heard John Lennon singing War Is Over on the radio. And I saw the words "yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus."

6. There is not a Trader Joe's anywhere near me. But sometimes Hubby and I manage to luck our way into being near one. (You know, in our extensive travels.) The thing is, every time we go into a Trader Joe's, we buy junk food. And that's it. And I don't know whether I love or hate the person who invented those chocolate chip Dunkers.

7. I'm up to eight miles for my long run now. That makes me happy. Although it's slow and it's hard. And I'm not sure how much of the hardness is my knees' inability to "go" and how much of that is the extra weight I'm sporting these days. I'm still happy, though.

8. My four year old goddaughter has already told her mother that she doesn't like turkey, and she's not eating it on Thanksgiving, because it "used to be real and it still looks real." (That's my girl!) Her mom told her she's going to Aunt Chocolate Girl's for Thanksgiving.

9. The busy nature of the coming weekend made Hubby and I decide to have Thanksgiving dinner at home (and Thanksgiving dessert with the whole family). So we will be making our very first fully vegan Thanksgiving dinner. I'm excited about that.

10. I have been listening to Josh Groban's new album, Illuminations, pretty much non-stop since I got it on the day it was released. I might be kind of in love with him. Hubby and I had a talk about it. He understands. He's heard the album, too.

PS - Hubby is snoring on the couch right now. It's 6:49. I'm jealous.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

you capture - inspiration

Hubby. He's calm. He doesn't worry about things. He's able to let go. He's very relaxed. (I keep hoping these things will rub off on me, because I'm kinda the opposite.)

He's grown more in the past five years than some people will grow in a lifetime. He has every reason to be angry and bitter. But he's not. He's happy.

He works hard. And he provides. And he looks good doing it.

He inspires me. Every day.

(These photos were part of a series of author photos he asked me take for his fifth (!) book of poetry. I was honored to do so.)


See more at Beth's.

if there's a rocket tie me to it

Do you ever have so much to do that all you do is kind of wander around and feel busy, but you don't really seem to actually do anything?

That's me.


Last week was the craziest week of the year at work. And now I am very behind there. Very.

And my house seems to be filling with clutter that never seems to go anywhere; it just seems to build and multiply. It's like Gremlins. But clutter.

And where is all this laundry coming from? There's just two of us here.

And I don't seem to really go grocery shopping anymore. I just kind of buy stuff and try to turn it into a meal. Sometimes it works. And sometimes we just go buy a sandwich instead. (And I kind of miss cooking meals.)


Last week at work, Work Friend and I mailed out 200 letters to families who might need some help this Christmas season. Two hundred is a lot. That means we could potentially be shopping for 200 kids. Two hundred is a lot. This is the third year in a row that our number of letters sent has doubled.


Next week is Thanksgiving. We're entering my favorite time of the year. I need to remember to stop and notice that it's happening. I don't want to miss it.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

you capture - serene

So, I laughed when I saw what this week's you capture task was, because I knew this week was going to be anything but serene. Hubby did, too. That was why he suggested we take a random Tuesday evening dinner trip to our favorite weekend spot. It's a place that is always so calming and lovely, and it sounded like the perfect idea. And I took my camera along, thinking this would be the perfect setting for 'serene.'

And it was! Oh, it was! The weather was lovely, the restaurant, the beach, the town were all calm and quiet. It was so perfect. And absolutely none of it wanted to be captured on film.

Not the perfect lighting by our table.
Not the perfectly still water, the harbor lights, the slight sliver of the moon.

Not what I thought was a crane, but was, apparently, the Loch Ness Monster.

I don't know what was happening. I just couldn't take a picture, couldn't get my setting right.

So what was the only picture that even remotely turned out?

Yeah. That would be my food.

And that pretty much sums up the week - not working out quiet like I hoped, but at least I have food.

So you'll just have to trust me that it was a wonderful, relaxing, serene bit of calm before the storm, and be content in the knowledge that I have lovely memories to get me though the crazy remainder of the week.



see more at Beth's