Alphabet Soup Challenge: I is for Indecisiveness

I have an almost finished post about how “I” is for “Investment”. It’s about how I’ve been trying to do a better job of investing in myself. Using my time, emotional, physical, and spiritual energy to improve myself.

Investing in myself translates to intentionally going out for walks most mornings, which gives me a lift and helps to collect my thoughts about the day ahead. This investment also includes talk therapy via telephone with a behavioral health counselor. As well as doing more personal journaling and intentionally consuming entertainment that gives me the good feels. I’m feeling better about myself these days. That’s the gist of it.

The it occurred to me that dedicating an entire post to how I, as a privileged white upper-middle aged woman, was “investing” in myself was a bit too much. Too self involved.

That’s when the anxiety I experience on the daily crept into my brain and manifested itself into another “I” word of which I am quite familiar: “indecisiveness”. Because now what “I ” word am I going to pontificate about? There’s so many choices, I can’t possibly decide on which one.

There’s “irony”, which I have a little story about. I mentioned in a recent post how I was reading “Untamed” by Glennon Doyle in which I found some pearls of wisdom that resonated with me. Well, I finished that book several weeks ago. In one of the two all female Facebook groups I belong to, one of the admins posted a picture of herself looking all cute and holding up “Untamed”, notifying us that there was going to be a Facebook live video discussion of the book on Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. In a moment of impulsivity, I replied that I would plan on attending.

I had been thinking for a while that I wanted to gain more experience with using video communication, both with friends and family, but also with people that I only know online, not IRL as they say. Zoom and Facebook Live are the tools du jour in the age of Covid-19, and I suspect that will only grow just like the amount of time we will be compelled to stick close to home.

Wednesday rolled around. I remembered about this “happening” about 5:30 p.m., after imbibing in a couple of cocktails. Supper wasn’t quite ready. Kid #2 was out at the local Hookah bar and about to come home soon. I was anticipating Kid #1 calling me at any time based on a message she had sent me earlier in the day. I had taken all my make up off, revealing just how “53” I looked. I hemmed and hawed, thinking about putting on some makeup, fluffing up my hair, grabbing “Untamed” and just doing it anyway.

Then Kid #2 came in the door, greeted by a very happy Radar-ling and his slinky sidekick Karl the cockeyed cat. I felt happy. Relaxed. I let myself off the hook and decided “Nah”.

After having intermittent pangs of guilt mixed with a side of regret about flaking out on this experience throughout that evening and into the next morning, I checked Facebook and learned that the admin hadn’t been feeling well the night before so she cancelled the event. Whew!

Now that’s irony. All that worry for nothing. Ha!

I am very tempted to continue this post with anecdotes on other “I” words that I have a lot to say about like “imagination”, “inspiration”, and “intention”.

However, I’m going to instead head on back to my “A-Z” draft folder and work through my indecisiveness surrounding the remaining letters of the alphabet I have to write about to complete this self-imposed challenge.

And leave you with one of my favorite Alanis Morrisette tunes.

**Header image courtesy of http://www.uniquelyandbrilliantlyadorned.com/2015/10/lets-talk-about-indecisiveness.html

Alphabet Soup Challenge: F is for Fascination

When I started to ponder what word beginning with “F” I wanted to write about, I started with “Fashion”.

I was going to write a fun post about how, because of this damn pandemic , I miss having places to go where it isn’t out of place to wear a cute summer dress (like the one below purchased from Kid #2’s online store). I was going to share how my parents owned a women’s clothing store in the 80’s and early 90’s which clinched my love of fashion.

Citrus skater dress, print designed by my youngest

But my favorite 80’s song kept coming up in my “songbrain”.

This song got me thinking about Lisa, the foreign exchange student from the UK who lived with us for the ’83/’84 school year. So I decided to pivot on my word choice for this post.

That school year was the only one that came anywhere near being fascinating for me. Lisa’s placement in our home shook up our family dynamic. I was suddenly not the only child in our home. I now had someone my age to talk to, laugh with, and engage in shenanigans with.

Lisa and I posing in the living room back in ’83

Lisa was always up for having fun; that is what made her extended stay with us such a bright spot in my life. Sometimes she’d sneak off and create a weird display on my bed with random items found in my room for me to find later. She was so excited when she made us “Shephard’s Pie” for the first time. It was a favorite of the Brits, she said.

Then there was that time when she surprised me with a stiff cocktail using my parent’s liquor when they were out of town. Despite having a British teenager who was of legal drinking age back home, they foolishly kept all of their liquor under the kitchen sink. It’s amazing how trusting Bonnie and Babe were.

Do you ever look back on your youth and think that about your parents?

Speaking of liquor, I’ve always been fascinated at the idea of having a pint or two at a traditional English pub. Hearing all those lovely accents and soaking up the atmosphere.

It seems to me such a laid back, lovely place to visit. Touring castles and checking out vibrant markets in little villages would be my jam. As a life long Beatles fan, I would be especially fascinated by touring Abbey Road or any other Beatles themed venue.

The most fascinatingly ridiculous thing is that I am 53, have both my “sister” Lisa and her husband, along with a lovely niece (and her two daughters and charming Puerto Rican husband) who all live in England and yet I’ve never been.

Do any of you have places you’ve always been fascinated with but have yet to travel to? Please share in the comments!

Header image courtesy of https://www.vexels.com/vectors/preview/187516/flower-letter-f-typography-design

Alphabet Soup Challenge: B is for Because

I’m choosing the word “because” for this post in part because I’m not jazzed about finishing and publishing any of the posts in progress in my draft folders.

Also because I’m feeling relaxed and a bit lazy. Because Sunday is the Sabbath, after all, the one day of the week we are to refrain from work and focus on family/home/emotional well-being. Or for those of us who are not Christians (no judgement here), it’s the one day of the week where you best rest up and chill out so you’re ready for the work week ahead.

Because I am finding great enjoyment in watching “feel-good” movies these days, I’ve got a few to recommend. Ones I’ve seen very recently and ones I haven’t seen in a while but aim to see again soon.

I’m sharing these movie recommendations with you today because I care that you are exhausted from our new “normal” of existing amidst a pandemic. Because you deserve moments of time right now of pure enjoyment, because you work hard and have a lot on your plate. Because happy distractions like a good old fashioned “feel good” flick are good for you. They make you laugh, lift your spirits, and improve your outlook (if only for the short term, but these days maybe we ought to take what we can get).

I invite you to grab your favorite beverage and take a couple of minutes to let me tell you about these films.

That Would Be Great (Office Space Bill Lumbergh) meme
Office Space is not on the list–but is high on my list of great comedies

It would so tickle me if you choose to share your comments on these or recommend other “feel good” films that we all should watch ASAP.

In the spirit of keeping things simple this Sunday, I’m going to share this via the numbered list method, with condensed explanations of what the movie is about or why I loved it.

  1. “Kiki’s Delivery Service”: we watched this in honor of Kid #2’s 27th birthday. It includes awesome animation, but more importantly uplifting messages about conquering self-doubt, being courageous, and friendship. It’s a real treat; a film that can be enjoyed by any generation.
  2. “Satisfaction Not Guaranteed”: a heartfelt comedy about taking chances, following your curiosity, and addressing life’s regrets. Stars Aubrey Plaza, who I loved as sarcastic under-achiever “April” in “Parks and Recreation”.
  3. “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”: this is very possibly the original “feel good” movie. Audrey Hepburn is ever so charming as “Holly Go-lightly”, making her way and finding love in the big city. If you haven’t ever seen it, I urge you to now. It is delightful and if you are a fan of late 50’s-early 60’s fashion and set design, you will adore it like I did.
  4. “Hector and the Search for Happiness”: this one actually came to me by recommendation of our former pastor. It’s an offbeat, adventurous tale of an uninspired psychiatrists’ search around the world for the meaning of happiness.
  5. “Little Miss Sunshine”: full of quirk, charm, and humor. It’s a fabulously cast (Steve Carrell, Toni Collette, Abigail Breslin, Greg Kinnear) film that celebrates the weird wonderfulness of family. This is a movie I will happily watch any time.
  6. “Blinded by the Light”: the first movie I watched on a plane. It’s a coming-of-age story set in the 1980’s of a teen of Indian descent living in England who becomes obsessed with the music (really the message) of Bruce Springsteen. There are marvelous musical and dance segments. It was a joy to watch.
  7. “Bathtubs Over Broadway”: a documentary I love with my whole heart which I mentioned here. If you choose to do yourself a favor and watch this, I think, like me, you’ll find it very entertaining, joyful, and inspiring.

I hope you all get a chance soon (if not this very day) to give yourself some love by sitting down with no distractions and watch one of the above films or another one that you hold dear to your heart.

Because it’s Sunday, friends 🙂 In the U.S. anyway-my bad! Those of you living elsewhere, please take some time to refresh and be uplifted with a “feel good” flick on Monday or Saturday or whatever day it happens to be where you are.

Alphabet Soup Challenge:”J” is for Jerilyn

August 17th would have been my friend Jerilyn’s 60th birthday. She passed, suddenly and unexpectedly, in Wisconsin, shortly after Hubs and I moved to Colorado, 4 years ago.

She left behind her husband of 25+ years, 2 young adult sons.

Jerilyn ready to pitch in at a food bank during a mission trip, 2007 ish

I was reminded of her birthday when I checked Facebook that day. Some may feel it’s morbid to keep someone’s Facebook page alive after they have passed, but I don’t. It warmed my heart to see all the comments from the many folks who loved her.

I think we should all strive to touch people’s lives in a way that they can’t help but honor them in some way on the anniversary of their births after they are gone. Like I saw with the feed on Jerilyn’s Facebook page the other night.

Jerilyn was a creative, intelligent, witty, kind, spiritual, playful, ambitious, loving, charasmatic, and strong woman. She was a force of nature who lit up a room. I will never forget her. I was so appreciative of her supportive words when Hubs and I were struggling with the challenges our teenagers presented us with. She was a great sounding board for us, especially because she had taken the time to know us and to know and love our kids.

Jerilyn was one of those people with the rare ability to question one’s thinking in a loving and respectful manner. I think that was due to her great sense of curiosity.

She and her husband Brad were the most dynamic of duos. They were the people at the party who you sought out to converse with. The couple who knew how to laugh together, work together, and play together.

One of my fondest memories of the two of them was at an outdoor concert. That weekend we were celebrating our wedding anniversary and I seem to recall theirs was coming up soon as well. When the 80’s cover band played George Michael’s “Freedom” the four of us laughed and danced like we were the only ones at the party. I think if Heaven is real, she’d be dancing on the clouds with George Michael to this song. Along with David Bowie, of course.

The woman had fabulous taste in music. She loved many of the artists that I did (and still do), like Elle King, Alicia Keys, and the aforementioned British gents.

Jerilyn was the Director of Christian Education at our church during our kids middle school and high school years. She loved each of those kids and they loved her. She listened to them without judgement. She mentored them and guided them. She was a talented planner of things such as youth mission trips. She had terrific communication skills with both the adult chaperones and the kids, so everyone understood what was expected of them.

Jerilyn was a very talented artist, on top of her many gifts. As a person who essentially has two thumbs when it comes to creating tangible pieces of art, I admired/envied this about her. She did a lot of tapestry art. Beautiful works made with colorful pieces of different textured cloth and other materials that could be hung prominently on a wall.

I had this vision in my head that I would commission her to create a work of art using the well-worn but still beautiful hand-made quilt made by Hubs’ then-boss’ wife as a wedding gift. I know she would have done a spectacular job with it. I kick myself for not jumping on that idea while I had the chance.

I took this picture at a gift shop in Minnesota a couple of years ago because it reminded me of her. I thought it was amazing that there was another “Jerilyn” who created beautiful pieces of art using cloth. I think our Jerilyn would have gotten a kick out of this too.

There’s so much more I could say about this truly awesome human being. She was a treasure and my life is better because she was in it. For that I am so thankful.

Gems In The Workplace

You might recall in this post that my definition of a “Gem” is a highly prized and well beloved female human who has, in no particular order, inspired me, loved me, liked me, taught me, cried with me, laughed with me, challenged me, accepted me, shared with me, and cared with me.

In my adult work life, which spans from around 1987 to the current, I’ve been fortunate to know several “Gems”.

I concur, Victoria

Sam was the first great friend I made in a work setting: I didn’t know her name at the time; I only knew that she had been there longer than me and carried herself with confidence. She waltzed over to me as I was sitting at my desk and asked if I had any lipstick on me. She was heading to a meeting and wanted to look her best. I was able to provide the requested lipstick and she thanked me.

She remains one of my very best friends.

Sam and two other “Gems” shared an over-sized office with me for about 5 years. All of these gals were younger than me by 8-10 years. Looking back, I think their youthful ambition and passion for the work we were doing (case managers serving intellectually and physically disabled adults) was great motivation for me. We were a fabulous team, the four of us, ready to cover for each other when needed and brainstorming for solutions to challenges we faced with our participants or fellow co-workers.

We still connect via Facebook and once in a while in person (despite living in three different states).

Another “Gem” at work was a nurse whose cubicle was near enough to mine that she could overhear my phone conversations with my members. One time I had a particularly challenging phone call where the client was yelling and using all kinds of cuss words to express his displeasure at whatever I said “no” to funding for him. Later that day, this nurse slipped me a note with a smiley face on it and wrote “You are a Saint” on it.

That same nurse, months later, called me out when she overheard me with yet another challenging client. She asked me to come over to her cube where she directly and gently told me that she could hear the frustration in my voice during that call. She suggested going forward I ought to be mindful of how I was coming across on the phone. While embarrassed, I took that suggestion to heart. From then on, I paid more attention to my tone when on phone calls with people who were jumping on my last nerve.

So in the end, I appreciated her constructive criticism. Sometimes you have to hear hard things about yourself and let that fuel you to be better.

A more recent “Gem” at work for me was the gal who drove me to pick up food for the food bank I was running. On those trips, we talked about our life ambitions and sometimes shared our favorite songs. One time, we returned to my food bank to find the large sheet cake we had placed on the tippy-top of the food pyramid had flipped over, landing frosting side first onto the floor of the truck. We couldn’t bear to let the entire cake go to waste, so we laughed our heads off while scarfing down the unsoiled part of the cake with our bare hands.

My hope is that you all have enjoyed the blessings of some “Gems” at work during the course of your life. I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Let’s lift each other up!!

Alphabet Soup Challenge: E is for Ears and a little bit of Everything Else

I have a bit of a complex about my ears.

They stick out too much. They are too big for my head.

This complex was reinforced by my mom.

Before leaving for my high school graduation photo shoot, Bonnie put scotch tape in her purse along with the little sticks of spearmint flavored gum and lipstick stained tissues I would always find in there when I was being snoopy.

Her plan was to use the tape to secure my ears closer to my head.

My badly permed hair was cut short around my ears, but with just enough hair to cover the top of each ear, as was the style back in 1984.

Bonnie’s perspective was that not MacGyvering my ears with scotch tape for this once in a lifetime photo opportunity would mean that I wouldn’t look as pretty as I could. Having friends and relatives see a photo with my natural ears sticking out as they did (and still do) would in some way be offensive.

I of course was humiliated to have this attention paid to my over-sized auditory appendages but I went along with it. “Mom knows best” and all that I guess.

Now I can look back at this story and laugh at the ridiculousness of it all.

It doesn’t matter if my ears are too big and stick out. It never did. They serve a great purpose for me. They work. They allow me to listen to the music I love. They allow me to hear my kids’ and Hubs’ voices. Our 6 year old grandson’s sweet voice. They alert me of danger. And they allow me to wear pretty, dangly, sparkly earrings whenever I want to.

My goofy looking ears allow me to do the one thing I enjoy doing the very most: Engage. And that is Everything.

Speaking of “Everything”, here’s a clip of a favorite song of mine and Hubs’ which we had the pleasure of listening to via the NPR channel on our Sirius XM during our road trip to the Midwest last month.

ENJOY!

Alphabet Soup Challenge: R is for Reading

My reading choices are varied. I devour anything from articles in Esquire magazine (there are some great articles in there on the regular) to self help books (How to Be a Bad Ass by Jen Sincero is an all time favorite) to comedic memoirs/essays by authors like Chelsea Handler, David Sedaris, Sarah Silverman, Amy Schumer, and more, to fiction (family sagas like “The Nest” and psychological thrillers are my “go tos”).

I read to reduce stress. I read to learn something new. I read to escape. I read to laugh. I read to find connection. I read to obtain wisdom so I can improve myself.

Why do you read?

Currently, I’m working through “Untamed” by Glennon Doyle. While waiting for a response to my online request to borrow “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou from my local library, I thought I’d read something “self-helpy”.

Now, I haven’t finished “Untamed” yet, but there are numerous pearls of wisdom within these pages. This is a book that gets more interesting and thought provoking with each new chapter. Glennon shares stories about failure, pain, and triumph. Stories about love, bravery, and “Knowing”. I’m very intrigued by it. It’s speaking to me in a multitude of ways.

I must finish this book soon so I can get on with it and finally read Ms. Angelou’s masterpiece (from what I know of her and what others have said, I think calling it a “masterpiece” is a fair assumption).

While on our two week “Great American Road Trip” last month, I read a couple of great books.

The first was “Woman in the Window” by AJ Finn. It’s a psychological thriller told through the lens of a female child psychotherapist who’s agoraphobia was caused by deep psychological trauma. She witnesses violence through her window at the house across from her one night and struggles to make sense of it through her alcoholic haze. Seemingly, no one believes what she saw was real. The story was heartbreaking and unpredictable. I appreciated the surprising but creepy twist at the end. It was shocking to learn “Whodunit”.

The movie version of this book has been finished and was recently acquired by Netflix, so hopefully we can all see it before too long. Some of my favorite actresses-Amy Adams, Julianne Moore, and Jennifer Jason-Leigh star in it.

During the first leg of our vacation, spending time with Hubs’ folks and sister, MIL gave me a copy of “The Silent Patient” by Alex Michaelides, which she raved about. Since I had but a mere 50 or so pages left of “The Woman in the Window”, I decided it’d be a good idea to start reading it since we had “only” 2,000 miles left of road to cover and 10 days before we got back home.

I could hardly put it down. It was in a similar vein as “The Woman in the Window”, in that it was a murder mystery/psychological thriller. Total escapism. And the surprises were mind-blowing, like “I didn’t see it coming till the very end” kind of mind-blowing. It took me some time to process that ending.

The story is told through the lens of both Theo and Anna. Theo is the psychoanalyst who works with Anna, who is a completely silent patient in a mental institution. Anna, a prolific artist, was placed there after being charged and convicted (all the while not speaking a word) for her husband’s violent murder. Both Theo and Anna are psychologically complicated people who come from troubled childhoods. Theo’s goal, at the outset, is to get through to Anna. Unlock the key to why she did what she did. And that he does. The twist and turns to how he gets there are nothing less than shocking. It was even more of a page turner than “The Woman in the Window”, if I’m being honest.

I of course had to google whether or not this book was going to be made into a movie and found out it indeed is. Brad Pitt’s production company has acquired the rights. I have ideas in my head about who plays what characters already. Hopefully it’ll show up on one of our video streaming services before long, since re-opening movie theaters appears unlikely to happen anytime soon.

Please share your comments on these books if you have read them and/or share your “must read now” book titles.

Read With Me: 5 Tips to Foster a Love for Reading | Edutopia

Alphabet Soup Challenge: G is for Gems

In the summer of 2009, Hubs and I took our two kids on a trip to Washington, DC.

In my mind, it was the best family trip we ever took. I think it had to do with the timing. Our eldest was about to begin her senior year of high school. Her sibling was a year behind her. It was a “seize this moment” kind of attitude we all bought into it which led it to be a memorable and amazing experience.

Part of the planning of this trip was discussing what “one thing” each of us wanted to be sure to see while in our Nation’s capital. Eldest chose the Ford Theater where President Lincoln was shot. The other kid chose the Shakespeare museum. If I recall correctly, Hubs chose Arlington Cemetery. I’m pretty sure I went generic, choosing the Smithsonian (not necessarily one specific museum there, because they are all fantastic).

Something that unexpectedly struck me while touring the Smithsonian Museum of National History was how in absolute awe the kids and I were of the Gems Gallery. Unlike Bonnie (my mom), I’ve never really been the kind of woman who felt a great need to have dazzling rocks adorning my fingers, neck, or ears. Sure, I love jewelry, but honestly I’m good with the costume variety.

I can just think of so many more wonderful things the money spent on fancy jewels could buy. And the experiences the money spent on fancy jewels could fund. The number of mouths it could feed. The amount of school supplies it could fund for under-privileged students. The number of shoes it could buy for the homeless.

We found ourselves gazing at these precious gemstones, “oohing and awing” all the while, deciding which ones we’d most like to wear if we could.

The Hope Diamond was my favorite. Stunning, shimmery deep blue and simply gorgeous.

As magnificent as these gems are, all of them together pale in comparison to all the other “Gems” in my life.

According to Merriam Webster, the “non jewel” definition of “gems” is: a highly prized or well beloved person.

For the purpose of this post, I’m going to expand on this definition : a “Gem” is a highly prized and well beloved female human who has, in no particular order, inspired me, loved me, liked me, taught me, cried with me, laughed with me, challenged me, accepted me, shared with me, and cared with me.

Been waiting for a chance to include this pic from my last trip to Washington, DC in a blog post-here it is!

I’m going to be honest here. I have too much to say about the “Gems” in my life to properly capture it in this one little post. That is how blessed I feel for the “Gems” in my life.

So, for now, I’m just going to highlight my blogger Gems. There is more to come as this blog proceeds.

I’ve mentioned them before, primarily when I was accepting a nomination for a blogging award (I know, they are cheesy and silly and to my knowledge there are no official prizes or awards ceremonies-but they are such fun) and having to nominate other bloggers as part of the deal.

But this is not that.

These are the blogging broads that never fail to encourage me. To introduce me to new ideas, new music, new recipes, new perspectives. The broads that also put themselves out there with their thoughts and feelings, opinions and grievances in such a way that make me feel less alone in the blogosphere.

I hope to connect with more blogging broads as I continue down this path I’ve put myself on, but for now, I just gotta say…I adore these 4 women and their creative writing abilities so much.

They are:

Christi, who lives in the wonderful state (my home state) of Minnesota and happens to be a very thoughtful, clever, intelligent and lovely human being with a knack for creative writing.

Nicole, who is quite a dynamo. Works full time with a husband and two small kids at home but still manages to pull off regular heartfelt posts about life.

Mona, who has been such a cheerleader for me. She’s brave, funny, sarcastic and surprising with her writing on her blog. And Geez Louise, she’s got some fantastic taste in music.

And then there’s Crystal. I’ve always loved that name. Crystal was the name of a girl I grew up with. She was one of those sort of rare birds in that she was pretty and popular (she was Homecoming Queen for Pete’s Sake), but she was also nice. Not a snot. Liked by everyone. My blogging friend Crystal is like that as well. She has a deep soul and a sharp intellect. I really admire her.

Now onto the question of the day: who are the “Gems” in your life, blogging or otherwise? I would be tickled to hear all about them.