Resolutions

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As the New Year approaches, the world begins to think of fresh starts, of new beginnings, of New Year’s Resolutions.

I’ve never been a big believer in New Year’s Resolutions. From what I could see, most New Year’s Resolutions are broken within the first week or month. Legendary jokes are made about it. I certainly broke my resolutions – when I made them – pretty quickly.

But this year is different (do I hear laughter?). I think I better understand what resolutions are really about. It’s not necessarily about the success. It’s not really about being the most organized person on the planet. It’s not really about becoming a hard body. And it’s not really reaching an ideal of becoming whatever your idea of perfect is.

Resolutions are about the intentions. At some point, I realized that my youthful metabolism left me, and Cheetos and Coke were no longer a diet I could stick with…unless I wanted to keep putting weight on and buying new clothes. So I resolved to lose weight and get back to where I was when I was 25 years old. A bit of a stretch, given the fact that I was definitely well beyond that age.

It all started out fine…I tried to take a very sensible approach (again, being well beyond 25 years old). I began to exercise (a little) and started really paying attention to what I was eating. More fruits and vegetables and less (sniff) Cheetos. And it began to work. I lost weight and had to buy new clothes, in a smaller size this time. And then the resolution broke. And I leveled off, five pounds short of my goal, which left me angry and frustrated and sad.

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But then I thought more about it…while I didn’t reach the ultimate – and somewhat unattainable – goal, I did lose weight. And more importantly, I felt better…in fact, the best that I had in years…probably since I was 25 years old.

It made me realize that when we think of these resolutions, we often set the bar too high. When I started this blog, I set a goal to post twice a week…forever. Well, clearly that hasn’t worked out. But now my intention is to continue to post as often as I can. And that’s ok. I enjoy writing and so I will continue to do it whenever I can. But I’m to going to hold myself to an unattainable standard that simply adds pressure. There is enough pressure in my life on the things I have to do. I don’t want pressure to ruin the things I want to do.

So for those of you that want to set New Year’s Resolutions, I wish you strength and luck! For me, I am setting intentions to keep my weight, health and energy level as it is now, continue to write as much as I enjoy it and the muse moves me, and to enjoy as much of life as I can. And finish binge watching “Once Upon a Time.” After all, a girl’s got to have a goal.

 

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Road Trip

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Over the weekend, the family took a quick road trip, to meet up with some family and see my nephew’s stand-up comedy act.

It was great, but it also served to remind me 1) why we don’t take road trips and 2) why I wish we’d taken MORE road trips.

We were not even out of the neighborhood when the bickering began. “He’s on my side.” “She’s being too loud.” “Are we stopping for breakfast?” And these were the issues that I could understand. The list goes on into the completely unintelligible.

Now let me remind you, it’s not like I have young children. These are “adults,” as they both frequently remind me, being 20 and 17 years old. You would think that at that age, I wouldn’t have to even think about entertaining them on a road trip. But thank goodness for the Alphabet Game. As soon as I could find an “A,” I started the game, thinking that would keep them busy for a bit. I did not count on my husband’s competitive nature. Which would have been fine if I had been driving.

Now because all three cannot stand to lose – especially to each other – this game became a challenge of epic proportions…and chewed up about 50 minutes of a two-and-a-half-hour drive…all to the good.

But what struck me was how much fun and laughter we enjoyed in that 50 minutes. As the kids are growing up and establishing their own lives that don’t revolve around us, these moments of “family time” are fewer and farther between. As it should be. We raised the kids to be their own people and have productive, happy lives that they have built, so I’m really happy to see them doing just that. But there are those brief moments that remind me that time is fleeting and life is changing.

As fall starts to approach, life is returning to a more normal pace. While the kids are heading back to school and to the next steps in their lives, the husband and I are looking forward to the future as a couple rather than just “Mom and Dad.” And I will tuck our last road trip of the 2014 summer in the mind cubbyhole marked “Sweet Moments.”

 

Entertainment Snobs

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My circle of friends is very eclectic.

I have good friends who are reading (and in some cases, RE-reading) their way through “classic literature” and watch BBC and PBS programs like Downton Abbey. I also have good friends who watch America’s Next Top Model and only read People magazine. I think I fall somewhere in the middle.

I’m currently hooked on DaVinci’s Demons, an import from the BBC that Fox and Starz have partnered to bring to the U.S. Greg Chillin plays Zoroaster, DaVinci’s hoodlum friend, with joyous abandon…not to mention he’s gorgeous. But that is not to say I’m not still loyal to Supernatural, a story of two (gorgeous) brothers hunting spirits, monsters and other assorted demonic types. (I’m sensing a pattern here…demons and gorgeous…hmmm…) But I have been known to indulge in a marathon or two of ANTM.

I am currently reading “The Girls of Atomic City,” a history of the women who worked at the Oak Ridge, Tennessee, Nuclear Research Facility during WWII. I recently finished “Why Business People Speak Like Idiots: A Bullfighter’s Guide,” a book that seeks to convince the business world to stop the “corporate speak” and use plain English…mainly common sense but a great book nonetheless. But, as my family will quickly point out, I am partial to historical romance novels, with titles like “The Scandalous Duchess,” or some such drivel.

My point is that your choice of entertainment is entirely yours. I often hear people (these folks are not generally part of my circle of friends) criticizing others for the books they read or the shows they watch. I call this “entertainment snobbery.” There is nothing wrong with watching WWE Monday Night Raw, if you find that entertaining. And there is nothing wrong with reading the “50 Shades” trilogy, if it removes you momentarily from your everyday life (and by the way, essentially the trilogy is a love story, with a little spice…not porn for women).

So to you “Entertainment Snobs,” I say, “Back off.” And to the rest of you, I say, “Enjoy what makes you happy and gives you some escape.” Now I have to go because Ghostfacers (Supernatural: Season 3, Episode 13) is on, and I need the laughs.

 

The Circle of Life

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I am in that stage of my existence, where I’m smack in the middle of the circle of life.

I’m still young enough to remember my past…the heartache of a first love, the frustration of bullies, the pressure to do well in school, the absolute terror of trying to decide what I want to be when I grow up. Of course, the kids think that I was born at 30 and never dealt with the problems they are dealing with. Funny too, because they also don’t believe that the things they are trying to pull over on me have ALL been tried before…BY me.

When I complain to my mother about it, she just nods knowingly and says – in her sweetest, old lady voice – “Frustrating, isn’t it?” And honestly, I can’t blame her or even begrudge her that response, since we both know that I was the exact same way when I was the kids’ ages.

On the flip side, I can see where the kids are maybe making the wrong decisions…or no decision at all…and it can drive me crazy. They ask my opinion and I provide the wisdom of the ages…or at least the wisdom that I have fought hard to win through my own poor choices. And then they ignore me…sigh… I know that they need to gain the wisdom I offer through their own mistakes and regrets, but as a parent, I want to save them the trouble.

And when I complain to my mom, she again nods knowingly and smiles.

Being a parent is tough. And it gets worse as they get older, because you can’t soothe their hurts with a kiss and a boo-boo-bunny. You have to just be there to pick up the pieces as needed, even when you could have stopped the breakage from happening in the first place.

And you have to have the intestinal fortitude to not say, “I told you so.” God love my mother for giving me the best example to follow.

I hope I can continue to respond as she does, because I know, someday, I will get to nod knowingly and smile as the circle of life comes back around.

 

 

Do You Believe in Miracles?

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While the cynic in me says a resounding “NO,” there is still a little piece of my soul that whispers, “yes.”

I guess much of it depends on how you define “miracle.” Many would go the big route, raising the dead, stopping a volcano from destroying surrounding villages…heck, even the U.S. Olympic Hockey Team beating the Russians back in the 1980 Winter Olympic Games could qualify, I suppose. But that cynical voice in me tells me to look for the more logical explanation, or write it off as a nice story.

But when I stop to look, miracles are all around us, and happen every day. A lone crocus pushing up through the heavy snow, a cardinal lighting on a tree limb, the giggle of a toddler…all can feel like a small miracle.

I think that we all possess the power to create miracles. Helping a friend move may not seem like a miracle, but it could mean getting him or her out of a bad living arrangement. Paying for the next person’s order at a fast food restaurant may seem like only a couple of bucks out of your pocket, but you could be providing the only meal that person gets that day. Making a friend laugh when they are feeling down can turn their whole outlook around. Even a simple compliment to a stranger in an elevator can brighten someone’s day more than you can even imagine.

I’m going to make it a point to look for ways to create those small miracles every day. I’m going to nurture that tiny part of me that still does believe in miracles.

 

Reading is Fundamental

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I am a reader.

While I do enjoy the occasional e-Book, I am an old-school reader…I like actual books. I like the feel of the binding in my hands. I love the smell of the paper. Hard cover or paperback, doesn’t matter, as long as I can hold on to it.

And I can spend hours…literally…in a book store. Just wandering the aisles, seeing what’s new and looking for old favorites. I can clean out just about anything, but I do struggle when I need to clean out my books, because I am one of those people who re-reads the favorites over and over again.

The sad thing is that the rest of my household members are not readers. They really don’t get how I can spend hours with a book and be perfectly content. They measure reading progress by chapter or page number. I don’t measure…I read until I’m done with the story.

As my kids started to need me less and I had free time (free time?) on my hands, I started to look around the community for some way to give back. With my love of books, the Friends of the Library was the first place I went. I love spending time going through the books and, in many cases in the children’s section, reliving old memories, not only mine but my kids’ too.

Sometimes I worry that with all the technological advances, there will come a time where reading – like cursive writing – is no longer a focus. I also worry that booksellers will go the way of the dodo, much like newsprint is said to be slowly dying.

Don’t get me wrong: I love the convenience of checking out the news on my iPad, but when it comes to really losing myself in a story, give me a book with pages to turn.

For me, reading is a fundamental part of my life.

 

Playing the Girl Card

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Just like the “Man Card,” we girls have a card as well.

When I was younger, I held my Girl Card pretty close. I felt like I had to prove that I was just as good as the boys. So I handle 90% of my “stuff” on my own. (The other 10% consisted of a flat tire in sub-zero weather that I “handled” by calling my dad.)

It was good for me, because it proved – not only to the world but to myself – that I am woman, hear me roar. And not to get too high on my soapbox, the female of the species does have to prove themselves in the world. While I think that things are improving, we all still hear about the “glass ceiling” and “increasing leadership gender diversity” in business. Title IX gives parity in the educational system to women’s sports, but, in my experience, the boys often get the better fields, practices times, etc. And women are often still expected to take the majority of childrearing responsibilities or face the wrath of society for being “unnatural.”

Let’s take a quick time out: I want to be clear that these are all generalizations. My husband and I evenly shared raising the kids. Many schools’ girls’ teams are better supported than the boys’ team. And the fact that corporations are increasing the number of women in leadership positions all show that we’ve come a long way, Baby.

And I will be the first to admit that there are a goodly number of girls who are not helping the cause by personifying all of the worst stereotypes…the dumb blonde, the gold digger, the girls who can’t survive without a man to take care of them. We women need to be the strong individuals we can and should be.

That said, I began to realize as I got older that I didn’t have to prove myself at every turn. And the “Girl Card,” played judiciously, could be a good thing all around. It didn’t make me less of a person to admit that I couldn’t lift a box that weighed more than me. It didn’t diminish my worth if I asked my husband to clean the bathrooms, since he was “stronger than me and could scrub harder.” And yes, it didn’t make me “one of those girls” if I used a bit of flattery and eye-batting to get a job done.

With great power comes great responsibility, so you have to use the Girl Card for good, not evil. But with that mindset, THWACK! That was my Girl Card, hitting the table as I played it.