Man, I love myself a good acronym. Almost as much as a finely crafted mantronym (for those of you new to this blog, that’s a mantra that presents as an acronym).
The first time I saw “ISO” it was on a work email. One of the other social workers was “ISO” something or other. Probably a way to get rid of bed bugs, because that is the type of shit we had to help our clients with on a disturbingly regular basis. I had to read the body of the email before I understood that “ISO” was “in search of”.
My personal theory is that we are all “ISO” pretty much all the time. It might be a lost sock or cell phone. It might be recommendations for a dog walker. It might be for the best cheesecake recipe. Or it might be something deeper; like meaning, purpose, or peace. Or maybe a little bit of all of the above and more.
This song comes to mind as I’m writing this. I happened to hear a truly awesome version of it recently as I was tooling around in my CRV. Here it is:
I have gratitude for the fact that in this life I have found what I was looking for: a happy marriage, a place to call home, two awesome adult children, a grandson, a dog, and a career that have all brought me a lot of happiness.
But there’s still more I’m ISO.
What might that be? Well, a whole bunch of things honestly. But what it boils down to more than anything is balance.
Balance between writing/doing/connecting is what I’m searching for in 2020. Maybe I should christen 2020 as my year of Clarity.I need to avoid the “overwhelm” and remain rooted in the present, in my writing life, professional life, and personal life.
One of the major take-aways for me from 2019 is that working is highly important to me. Working at my part time job running the food bank. Working on my writing; improving my blogging skills. Working on strengthening the connections I have with the people I love and making new connections with those people I have yet to meet. I like staying busy, moving forward, accomplishing things.
What I know for sure about 2020 is that it’s incumbent upon me to work even harder that I did in 2019. Up my game at work. Find ways to improve myself professionally. So that I can contribute more to the team, to our clients, to our mission.
Another thing I know for sure about 2020 is that I will need to hyper-focus on my writing via this blog (and otherwise, but that is currently a batch of baby WIPS that will need some careful coaxing to show themselves to the world).
Suffice it to say: I have much to say about a variety of things-from my personal history, my current reality and the (hopefully) fabulous future. I have stories to tell. I have more to say about some of the topics I brought up on this blog in 2019. I have more to do and say in and about the present. And I have a freaking ton to say about the future.
While all of the above is true and right and good for me personally, I recognize that I can’t blow off taking care of myself. Because in real day to day life of the year 2020, there’s gonna be obstacles. Some I am fully cognizant of and others will be new and uninvited. So while I don’t anticipate becoming a self-care guru (because really, we have so many of them we can refer to on the internets and in real life if we are so fortunate), behind the scenes of this here blog, I will be aiming to practice a healthy amount of it.
I sincerely hope you stay tuned.
But first, please indulge me and answer this question in the comments:
What are you ISO in 2020? This particularly curious mind would love to know.
My mom loved Christmas. This woman went all out each and every year. In spite of the fact that she and dad worked full time and then some, many of those years operating their own business, we always had a beautifully decorated (complete with fake snow from a can) Christmas tree, perfectly wrapped presents underneath it, and copious amounts of cookies and holiday treats to enjoy.
I think somehow her Christmas spirit has been infused into my being this holiday season. I sure am missing her a lot these days.
In honor of my mom and the sense of peace and gratitude I’m feeling this holiday season, let me tell you what I’m loving about Christmas 2019.
More than anything else, I believe that giving is the most joyful and soul-affirming aspect of the Christmas season. This year, I found myself purchasing my first Christmas present for a loved one in September. That is truly unheard of for me. I usually hit the Christmas present shopping hard at the start of December.
So when I purchased this one small present in a cute gift shop in Estes Park when my sister was visiting, I determined right then and there that I was going to proceed with intention and purchase items that I believed would make the recipients feel my love for them. I enjoyed the heck out of keeping my eyes peeled for extra special presents both in store and online this year. I am so looking forward to hearing the reactions from my beloved family about their presents.
Then there’s the giving in my workplace, where my primary duty is running the food bank. On a daily basis, I get to experience the joy of giving our aging adults good quality, healthy food. However, this time of year I get to give them even more! Like the stockings filled with snacks, toothbrushes, word puzzle books and other fun items, which are donated by one group each year. Like the gift cards donated to our organization from local municipalities. What a joy this is for me-and our clients. The other day, I witnessed one of our clients weeping with joy as she went through the large bag of goodies her own personal Santa gave her. She commented that prior to becoming physically disabled, she was the one donating Christmas presents to the needy.
I couldn’t not write about one of my favorite things in the whole wide world for this Christmas blog post of mine. Since I respect my Hubs’ low tolerance for the music of this season, I have intentionally created a Christmas music playlist that appeals to both of us. That way, we do not have to suffer through Chipmunks songs or what ever totally changed up in not a good way classic Christmas songs performed by artists we don’t know on the cable tv Christmas channel.
I have only chosen the “best of the best” Christmas tunes for this playlist. Our favorite favorites, if you will.
Michael Buble’s version of “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot like Christmas”. His 2011 cd titled, simply, “Christmas” is on repeat on my tablet this time of year.
Bing Crosby’s “Mele Kalikimaka”. Hubs is learning this one on his ukulele as a matter of fact. I get a lot of enjoyment from singing along. The goal is for us to get good enough at it to perform it in front of actual people next Christmas!
Amy Grant’s “Grown Up Christmas List”. It’s Hubs’ favorite Christmas tune, which speaks to the kind of human he is.
“Sugar and Booze” by Ana Gasteyer (yes, from SNL). This is a new one discovered while watching late morning tv during our recent trip to DC. A new classic for sure!
“All I Want for Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey. This song to me is so fun and festive! And it’s featured of course in my favorite movie of all time, which also happens to be a Christmas movie-“Love, Actually”. Check out this charming and fun video I just discovered of this song here: https://youtu.be/_IlZu9X9W_k
While in DC earlier this month, I caught the black and white Christmas classic “Holiday Affair”. It’s about a widowed mom of a 6 year old boy. She is proud of the fact that she works hard to provide him with a good life and they have a very loving and playful relationship. She almost marries Mr. Nice Guy but along the way falls in love with a salesman who has a dream of moving to California to build ships. Mr. Nice Guy’s name is Karl Davis. The salesman’s address is on Christopher Street. I feel like I was supposed to see this movie this Christmas season, on account of sharing the same last name with Mr. Nice Guy. And, big news here, on account of the fact that in the new year a cat named Karl (and his 26 year old human parent, aka Spawn #2) will be moving in with us. And our grandson (living in Wisconsin with his mommy, Spawn #1) is named Christopher.
Of course, there will be a viewing of “Love Actually” happening in this joint soon, along with “Four Christmases” and “A Christmas Story”. If we’re up for more Christmas movies, we’ll likely add in “The Grinch” with Jim Carey and, if Hubs has his way, “Bad Santa”.
FOOD AND DRINK
Let me just tell you one thing I know for sure when it comes to the food and drink of this very merry season: my own personal Esther is running the show. If you’re unfamiliar with Esther, here’s a clip of Wanda Sykes that will clue you in.
But back then, I was interested only in telling you all about how others were reacting to my own personal Esther (note to self: name your Esther!). Now it’s Christmas time and she’s in charge. My Esther is having the time of her freaking life right now. She’s sampling all the chocolates that her co-workers brought in to work. She’s conned me in to making extra Christmas cookies after I packaged and sent the 24 or so dozen we made to our family and friends, you know, because there are other people that I love here in Colorado that would enjoy them. She’s currently plotting how many cheddar bay biscuits she can consume before feasting on seafood at Red Lobster with Hubs for Christmas Eve.
What she doesn’t know, however, is that come January 1, she is going down. Wish me luck on that one, because I know that bitch is going to fight me tooth and nail!
When we moved into our townhome in 2016, we realized there was literally no good place to put up a regular, standard-sized Christmas tree. So while shopping at the local thrift store that first winter, we snatched up a table top version for a pittance. We had it up the first couple of Christmases, but this year we left it in the garage. That’s not to say we don’t have any sort of Christmas tree up; it’s just that the beautiful peace lily my wonderful in-laws sent me for my 50th birthday a couple of years ago looked so damned lovely sitting atop our occasional table and we just couldn’t bear to move it. So we left it there. Then adorned it with those itty bitty led lights and hung our favorite ornaments along the edges of the pot.
I personally love it!
I wish each and every one of you fellow holiday celebrators who read through this goofy, happy, and weird Christmas inspired essay a beautiful holiday. May you enjoy time with your favorite people, music, food, and cheesy Christmas movies and marinate in the joy that is this season!
Hubs and I are back from our trip to Washington DC now.
What I didn’t do
In case you were wondering, no, I did not find myself swept up in a crowd of protesters demanding impeachment for our Bullshitter-in-Chief.
We did not make it to the charming Mrs. K’s Toll House for dinner. The only option for reservations for the night we wanted to dine there was 7 p.m. and that is just too late for supper for the two of us. Next year, we told ourselves, we will plan ahead to ensure we get a table there at a reasonable hour.
What I did do.
While Hubs was busy with work meetings, I embraced my lazy side relaxed. As in, woke up when I woke up. No alarms were set. Took my sweet time getting ready for the day. Indulged in some writing and reading. Caught some morning tv while sitting on our king-sized bed. Probably consumed too much HGTV.
I also talked to strangers.
One morning after breakfast, I chatted with a red-headed woman, her husband and probably 21 year old daughter on the one working elevator. I saw they were heading to the 9th floor, just like me, so I struck up a conversation. Asked them if they were here on vacation. Woman said they just came to see a concert the previous night and are heading home that day. The concert was “The Cult” (an 80’s band, the woman told me; despite being a teenager in the 80’s I’m not familiar with their music) and “Spirit Animal” which she and her daughter just started getting into. I got so lost in the conversation that I almost followed them to their room. It was an “Ope, wrong way!” sort of moment.
I’m guessing they were from New York or New Jersey based on the woman’s accent. I wondered if they drove here or flew. I wondered if this quick trip was planned months and months ago or if it was maybe more spontaneous, like last week. Maybe the daughter was online and happened to see that “Spirit Animal” (she was wearing their shirt) was on tour in DC last night. Maybe she showed her mom a video of one of their songs and mom said “let’s do it!” and off they went to share this experience together. I think they have a close relationship. I hope they appreciate it, because the fact is many people don’t share any closeness with their adult children.
While in line at Burlington Coat Company, a hispanic woman showed me a package of lotions and body sprays she had purchased. She said she was going to break them up and re-package them for 4 people. I told her that was a smart idea. She noticed right before she was going to check out there were holiday gift bags hanging on racks for purchase. She briefly considered it then said “no, I’ll get those at the Dollar Store”. I told her that’s what I would do. She thanked me.
Later, while shopping again (this time at Marshall’s), I was behind a middle aged black man in a leather newsboy cap. He asked the cashier if the color of the winter coat he was about to purchase was blue or black. He said he’s colorblind. I piped up and said I often couldn’t tell the difference between navy and black too; however this coat was definitely navy blue. He went on with his purchase and a couple of moments later, asked me if the gray towels he was going to buy were gray. I told him that they indeed were.
The art I saw
One of the days I was there, I took the Metro into DC to do some exploring. I found myself looking at a lot of art. I don’t think I fully realized just how much I appreciate art until this day.
I snapped pictures of the pieces that I especially appreciated. The ones that made me think. The ones that drew me in. Here’s a few samples:
I also visited the National Portrait Gallery, enjoyed a delicious burger and beer at Dogfish Head Brewery with Hubs and our friends John and David, and visited The National Museum of Women in the Arts, where I was awed by an exhibit from Judy Chicago entitled which depicted Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s 5 stages of grief. Click this link for more info if you are so inclined: https://washington.org/event/judy-chicago-end-meditation-death-and-extinction It was absolutely stunning and emotionally moving. I’d share picture of it, but photography was not allowed at that exhibit.
The most important “take away” for me from this trip to our nation’s capital is that I must return there next December, as, thankfully, this is an annual work trip for him.
Ok, let me start with the obvious. I’m going to be in Washington, DC soon.
I am serving in the role of Hubs’ “plus one”. He has to be there for work. I am tagging along and will have the luxury of unsupervised time in our nation’s capital.
I am one lucky broad.
As I write this, I’m in the midst of what is best described as the “Holiday Gauntlet”. Hubs and I are going to be tremendously busy with wrapping Christmas presents, decorating the house, and baking cookies to send to friends and family far and wide, until we get on that airplane. The point is to wrap it all up before we go.
This means the time I have to create an itinerary for myself while in DC is a bit limited.
There are certainly some “must do’s” swirling in my head.
Here are but a few:
Visit the Newseum
Get myself a Snickerdoodle McFlurry from McDonald’s
Have dinner at Mrs. K’s Toll House
Visit the museum of American History
Visit the National Portrait Gallery
Seeing a classic holiday movie at the AFI theater near the hotel we are staying at (Choices are “Holiday Affair” and “Miracle on 34th Street” neither of which I’ve actually seen). I am very open to your opinions on this btw.
I recognize that the above list is pretty random and maybe even a little tame. There’s a reason for that, beyond having the better part of 3 days to myself while I’m there. I’m using my guiding macronym here: Keep It Simple Sister. Because I rather like the idea of going at my own pace when I’m on my own in DC. Ensuring I’ve enough time to write. And sleep. And catch up on my reading. And use the earbuds I’ve had forever and a day and never used so I can listen to podcasts I downloaded on my cell phone.
My intention here is to ensure I’ve not overplanned myself so much that I don’t take notice of my surroundings. It’s DC, after all. For all I know I could be riding the Metro and end up sitting next to Bernie Sanders. Or Nancy Pelosi. Or the notorious RBG. Note to self: ponder what you might say and/or questions you might ask if this type of opportunity presents itself. One never knows, right? Maybe I’ll be sitting innocently in a coffee shop and overhear a private conversation between 3 Republican senators about how much they want to impeach Trump but they don’t have the guts. I could find myself being a fly on the wall who pulls out her handy dandy chromebook and captures the experience for this blog. Or better yet, the woman who appeals to their better angels and convinces them to do the right thing. Ha!
Or perhaps I accidentally become swallowed up in a swarm of protesters protesting against the Bullshitter-in-Chief. Now that would be an interesting blog piece, right?
So clearly I must keep my wits about me just in case.
I found my old metro cards from previous times I’ve been in DC, so I’m ready to do some exploring!
I’m such a weirdo. I like to think the other weirdos out here in the blogosphere have received that memo by now. I like to think I’m in good company.
But just in case, let me tell you about my guiding acronym mantronym (because it’s not just a mere acronym, it’s also my mantra). The one that has been stuck in my head probably since I started blogging. The one that suits me best. The one that speaks to me. The one that repeats itself in my head as I write like an earworm.
That mantronym is KISS.
Traditionally, it stands for Keep It Simple Stupid. But for me, it stands for Keep It Simple Sister. Because no good can come from me calling myself stupid. I believed the lie that I was stupid for far too long and now I’m 52 and the fucks I gave in the past are (mostly) history. I’ve evolved.
Keep it Simple Sister is a kind yet firm way to remind myself to not be verbose when I’m writing. Because while I am a bonafide spaz, I don’t think my readers need to be pounded in the head with it when they read my posts. You all have lives, right? Responsibilities. Schedules. Important shit to do. Me getting to the fucking point already in my blog posts is essentially my way of recognizing and respecting that.
But very possibly the best thing about my beloved acronym of KISS is how darn versatile it is. While “Keep It Simple Sister” will forever be the guiding principle as I write my blog posts (and live my life), there’s often alternate versions of this mantronym at play within them.
For instance, “Keep It Specific Sister”. This one came to me while I was using my wicked crafting skills creative energy to put together my vision board. I firmly believe that having a physical picture of what specific things or experiences you want in your life increases the chances of it becoming reality. For instance, instead of affixing a picture of, say, a wine bottle or grapes to my vision board, I affixed a picture of Napa Valley because that is a place I very much wish to visit with Hubs, asap. Seeing it every day keeps it fresh in my mind, which is good because, I am 52.
Then there’s “Keep It Sincere Sister”. Bottom line-I’m just going to be me. I will continue to write (and breathe) with my heart in the right place. Which happens to be on my sleeve.
I also enjoy the “Keep It Sassy Sister” version of KISS. Because. THIS.
A highly important version of my beloved KISS is “Keep It Surprising Sister”, because that is what I’m aiming for. I want to surprise you, dear readers, as well as myself. But in an interesting and smart way of course. In a brave and new way. A meaningful way.
A more recent version of KISS that I seek to inject into each blog post is “Keep It Sincere, Seeker”. Because while what I write comes from my heart, I’m also very much a seeker. A student who’s learning and growing as a blogger and a human. I’m eager to continue that, with the knowledge that I don’t know what I don’t know. I read lots of other blogs for tips and tricks as well as for inspiration. It keeps me engaged in the whole process. And I know that by continuing this practice, I am likely to keep improving as a blogger.
Any of you other fellow weirdos have a mantronym? Or a mantra? Or a guiding acronym? Or does “KISS” resonate with you? Perhaps you have other suggestions for what “KISS” could stand for? I’d love to read any commentary you have about this 🙂