All posts by Rhonda

I'm a 55 year old lover of life, family, friends, and creative writing (amongst numerous other activities, people, animals, big ideas, and things). I am a native Minnesotan transplanted to the Denver metro area from Wisconsin due to a job transfer for my fabulous husband. I am and always have been in my heart of hearts, a writer. I was a case manager/social worker for many years in Wisconsin and am now ready for my new chapter in life as a writer. I enjoy writing about day to day (mis)adventures I experience in my new Colorado environment, the people I love and those that inspire me, places I've traveled to, music that makes my world go 'round, politics and current affairs, and general observations and ideas about life and ideas on how it could be improved. My hope is that my blog will be interactive, collaborative, and inspiring.

It’s Just Not Right

For a while there, I thought I was going to be a humorist and that this blog was just the start on my path to becoming the next Erma Bombeck. Or David Sedaris.

Obviously, I have a rich fantasy life.

Now I think it’s more accurate to view myself as a writing enthusiast with a sense of humor.

I say all this because I have some serious shit to say sometimes. Like now.

Because Roe v. Wade could for real be overturned. I was shocked to hear the news of the leaked SCOTUS draft. I suppose I shouldn’t have been, as this has been in the making by the Republicans for some time now.

This is not about me telling you my abortion story. I’ve never had one.

This is me declaring that overturning Roe v. Wade is inhumane. This is me stating that old white men do not deserve to have the power to do this. No one does. This is me saying that I believe (and science backs this up) that an entity that cannot exist outside the womb cannot be “murdered”.

This is me being pissed off and fearful about our future as Americans.

Abortion is health care for women. Women who have underlying health conditions that puts their lives at risk if they carry the fetus to full term. Girls who were sexually assaulted by a male relative that resulted in pregnancy. Single moms who insisted their partner wear a condom but it broke and now they are saddled with the possibility of having a 4th mouth to feed while working 2 jobs.

It is so freaking nuanced, you see? It is not black and white. Every abortion story is unique.

Overturning Roe v. Wade after 50 years is unthinkable to me. The consequences of this would be enormous. Women and girls will die as a result. People will lose their mothers. Their sisters. Their spouses. Their friends.

And then what’s next? Are the Republicans and SCOTUS going to make bi-racial marriage illegal? Are they going to take away the rights of our fellow LGBTQIA Americans to marry?

It’s just not right.

Weight Schmeight

A couple of months ago, when I was still employed, my co-worker Maureen, laughing her head off, presented this book to me. She had discovered it while sorting through donations for the thrift store portion of the non-profit we worked for.

This, I think, is one of the simple things in life to treasure: working with someone who likes and appreciates you. Someone who’s thoughtful, generous, and knows how to make you laugh. I just love this woman. She always lightened my mood.

I read this book shortly after she gave it to me.

It’s important to note that the author, Wendy Reid Crisp, wrote this in 1995. Because of that, some of her commentary is not necessarily applicable or relatable, in my view, to the upper middle-aged women of today. Like me.

Yet there were some bits and pieces that struck a chord with me.

Here’s one excerpt that I have a little something to say about:

“I’m not going to….3. Introduce body parts as topics of conversation.

In New England, there’s a group of women in their sixties who have been friends for forty years and who meet annually for a long weekend at a good spa. Their first event, on Friday night, is an “organ recital”. Everyone recites ad nauseam the state of her organs-heart, uterus, lungs, kidneys-and other anatomical conditions. As it should be, for the rest of the weekend the subject of personal health is taboo”.

I love this. Having a group of friends who get together yearly at a spa sounds fabulous! I’ve had this notion for a while now that someday, I’ll have a girls weekend. My sister will be there along with my “bonus” sister (Hubs’ sister), along with a couple of my girlfriends and a few cousins. We will sip sangria in the mornings, jam out to rocking tunes, and spend time in a pool or lake lounging on giant inflatable flamingos. We will dance, we will laugh, and we will raise a little hell.

It will be epic.

But there’d be one catch: at my girls weekend, on Friday night, we will engage in newfangled version of Ms. Reid-Crisp’s “organ recital”. There will be a designated amount of time (not to exceed one hour) during which we are allowed to freely discuss all things related to our weight. We can bitch about our muffin tops. We can talk about the pros/cons of intermittent fasting. We can swap Keto recipes. But when the timer goes “ding” (yes I will bring a timer) that’s that, ladies.

I might even bring a big old jar that those in the group who utter a word about their weight at any point after our Friday night “recital” will be required to put a dollar in. Kind of like a “sear jar”. All monies collected could later be donated to Planned Parenthood or another non-profit that benefits women.

I say all this because I detest the conversations we women always seem to engage in about our bodies. Our weight issues. It bores me. It seriously irritates me. I don’t like how when one woman will look at a perfectly good tray of delicious cupcakes and make some comment like “I need one of those like I need a hole in my head”. Because then, I feel like I need to “own” the fact that I’m a little fat. Probably 10-15 lbs over what I “should” be based on my height. I always feel compelled to respond by saying I don’t “need” a cupcake either.

Like “hey girlfriend, I’m fat too!”

I just find this troubling. There’s so much more to us women than how we look in our jeans. Or how we think others think we look in our jeans, I suppose.

And there’s so many more interesting topics of conversation, right? The books we’ve been reading, the vacations we’re planning, the new job we are applying for, the state of the world, our favorite movies, who’s pissing us off at work, who’s pissing us off at home, caring for aging parents, fun experiences we’ve shared together, and so very much more.

Sometimes inspiration comes from an unexpected source. Thank you Maureen, and thank you Ms. Reid-Crisp.

***Featured Image courtesy of https://www.healthygirl.co.za/20-healthy-girl-body-positive-quotes/

Ch Ch Ch Changes, Part Two

My first ever post on this blog was entitled “Ch Ch Ch Changes”.

I wrote it as a way to introduce myself. To share the major life transitions that led me to where I was in that particular moment of my life: unemployed and living the “empty-nester” life with Hubs in a new state.

As of April 1st of this year I again am unemployed (by choice). Because of all the things that need to be done. Addressed. Thrown out or given away. Packed.

Our move back to Wisconsin is slated for late May/early June. Between now and then, my mental and physical energy will be split between reviewing the past, savoring the present, and planning for the future.

I, along with my family, are in the throes of transition. I am a bit freaked out and searching for the balance in all of this.

Reviewing the past will include playing the “should it stay or should it go” game with all of our worldly possessions and the reminiscing this will bring about. There are countless pictures and assorted memorabilia to go through. You can no doubt expect blog posts to come out of this.

This is a good thing, because I’ve got some catching up to do. I’ve all but ignored my blog for the last couple of months. Case in point: my 5 year blogging anniversary came and went with zero fanfare.

The present: practicing self-compassion and actual mindfulness, which I now realize I’m only beginning to grasp after using it as a buzzword willy nilly in the recent past. Making memories with my daughter and grandson, as these two will not be living with us indefinitely. Come summer 2022, they will most likely be living in their own place again. Spending quality time with Kid #2, who intends to remain in Colorado while the rest of us are moving to Wisconsin.

The future: staying on top of the housing market in the area of Wisconsin we plan to settle in. Finding the house that will suit us best. One on the waterfront, large enough to host friends and family on the regular. Familiarizing myself, via the internet, with the area and getting a feel for the job market there.

Time is of the essence for me right now. I aim to use it wisely so I can avoid being overwhelmed.

Where Grandma Works

Do you remember where your Grandma worked? Did you ever get to visit her workplace?

To my knowledge, neither of my grandmothers worked outside of the home. It’s entirely possible that one or both of them at some point did work, maybe before I was born, when my parents were still children.

But to me, their only job was being “Grandma”.

One day last week, my daughter and grandson came to visit me at work for a couple of hours.

Fortunately, I work at a very kid-friendly and family-friendly place. My grandson learned the concept of volunteering. He made new friends and picked out a new blanket.

In our food pantry, Beth helped him find a variety of empty boxes to take home to build what he called a “cardboard castle”. He and his mom enjoyed some snacks.

He jumped on the trampoline while chatting with Alicia while she was vacuuming the gym floor. Later, Alicia walked him through the food pantry as if he was a customer as he picked out some food and a new violet (his favorite color) toothbrush on our hygiene rack.

He spent some time in the warehouse with Maureen, sorting through donated clothes and talking about avalanches. She told him that she was happy to make a new friend.

I overheard him as I was on my computer taking care of some admin stuff for the food pantry saying “I love to volunteer!”

It was a good day indeed. That is why I’m sharing it here today. I want to always remember it.

He will turn 8 soon. Due to his time and place in life right now, it’s so beneficial for him to interact with women. Women who are also mothers. Women who work together. Women who show each other respect and work as a team to get the job done.

My heart is full as I write this. I am full of hope for this beautiful, smart, extroverted, and sensitive boy.

At almost 55

Super self-indulgent title, right?

Yet I think it works.

Buckle up while I summarize my current status:

Tomorrow I turn 55. I don’t recall freaking out inside about my birthday since the day I turned 31 (for real). But, I accept it. What’s the alternative? There is none.

Shit, I wouldn’t want to turn back the hands of time even if I could.

While “balance” is my word for 2022, “Moving Forward” is my new mantra. Or “Progress, not Perfection”. It’s a toss up.

In that spirit, off I go.

Hubs and I’s empty nesting status has been on hiatus for the last 13 days. We are now a household of 5, for the time being. It’s nothing I want to delve into on this platform at this time. But it’s important for you to know if you’re going to stick around, because my whole world is in the most transitional period since 2014, and because I know that part of my self-care routine (I despise this overused and abused term but am in the flow and choose not to google synonyms right now) is writing these blog posts. Because it’s going to affect everything you read here from this point on to some degree or other.

I’m determined to focus on the present moment. One day at a time. While of course planning for the near future (aka our move back to Wisconsin). Along with simultaneously doing my best to wrap up the Colorado part of my path in the neatest, most colorful bow, with the exception of my talented artist kid Rabbie and Karl the cockeyed cat, who intend to remain here, work-wise and beyond.

One thing I don’t believe I have done a good job of communicating to you about on this blog is that I love numbers. I find meaning in them. I enjoy making mathematical calculations in my head. I notice numbers all the time. It’s kinda weird.

That, among other reasons, is why I’m going to simply share the Top 5 things that are making me happy these days.

  • Hearing and seeing my almost 8 year old grandson laugh at his own jokes.
  • Having the support of my employer with reducing my weekly hours.
  • Listening to books on Audible (Jen Mann’s most recent one simply spoke to me while making me laugh).
  • Witnessing the bravery of my adult children amidst life’s changes and challenges.
  • Blogging, and the fact that I feel great enthusiasm about writing on topics I haven’t covered in the almost 5 years since I started this blog. The primary topic I’m feeling now is under the umbrella of “Work”.

This song is dedicated to my kids. I think you might like it too.

Recovering, Reflecting, Revealing

Since my last post, I’ve been gradually recovering from the chaos that was December 2021.

Anyone else?

I’ve also been reflecting a lot lately. Reflecting on my recent past as a blogger, my current work life, and what I’ve learned and accomplished, not only in 2021, but since moving to Colorado with Hubs in 2016.

I am in a better frame of mind than I was when I wrote the last post of 2021. Time and the quiet space of my home have made that possible.

Checking some major things off my “to do” list at work has also made that possible. Grant submitted. Inventory done.

I guess you could say that right now, I’m breathing a long sigh of relief.

Lucy Relief GIF - Lucy Relief Pfew GIFs

And I’m ready to begin to share in this space what I’ve learned so far: as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result of living, loving, and working in Colorado since 2016. As a result of parenting adults and being someone’s grandma. As a result of the meaningful friendships I’ve had (and still have) in my life. As a result of this being the year in which I turn 55.

Not to be dramatic or anything.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to go into all of that right here and now. I think it’s safe to say that I’ll get into it when I get into it. In 2022.

Because I have had a big old pin in something I’ve wanted to tell you all for the last couple of months.

If I was going to be dramatic and ridiculous here, I would show you this image before I spat out what it is that is housing (ha ha) the pin. Was that a pun?

Coffee Breaking News GIF - Coffee Breaking News - Discover & Share GIFs

Okay, so here it is:

I’m certain that for at least part of this year I will reside in Colorado. I will have a new zip code before the end of 2022. The license plates on the truck will be changing.

You get where I’m going with this?

Yes, of course you do. I know you all are not morons.

Hubs and I are moving. Our time in the great state of Colorado will come to, what feels to me, while not entirely pleasant and actually sad in some important ways, a natural end.

In 2022. To either Minnesota or Wisconsin; closer to both of our families and life-long friends. We are making some updates to our town home here, selling it and heading north.

So that’s my big news. I couldn’t just write a regular old post this week and ignore this major life decision I was holding in.

I’m going to buckle up, and if I was going to be dramatic, I’d tell you, as a reader, that you may want to as well.

2022 is bound to be quite a trip.

About 2021

I’m eager for 2022.

I feel all of this, written by Rachel Hackenberg for the United Church of Christ’s daily devotional on 12/28/21:

“If you are eager to throw your 2021 calendar in the trash, and you have all of your incense and candles and rituals prepared to sweep out 2021 and bless 2022, remember that even when the year is new: there is still rage and death and dreadful absence that haunts our collective spirit and needs to be healed. 

Make room for the rage. 

Welcome it like a weary traveler who can’t find a room in the inn. 

Give it space where it can cry and groan. 

Light a candle if it labors through the night. 

Do not be quick to console it, only keep it company to be sure it doesn’t harm others. 

Amplify its voice. 

Let it be messy and imperfect”

I appreciate this devotional because 2021 threw me for a loop (especially that last month or so). The events in my personal orbit as well as events in this country and world in 2021 have left me feeling older, feistier, and tired.

I don’t know of a better way of putting it, but I feel messy. I need time to process it all because of the emotional whiplash. I need time to recuperate.

There were happy moments for me, however. Photographic evidence:

My “Elfie Selfie” at my employers “Santa Shop” this year.
Rabbie and I at Thanksgiving
Me with my favorite 7 year old in Wisconsin on Halloween weekend
The Hubs and I in our finest at my employer’s “Adult Prom” fundraising gala

A truly inspiring and prolific blogger who I follow, Jenny, of Jenny’s Lark, asked a question on her blog recently. I have been pondering it ever since.

Here is my paraphrased version of it: if there is ONE lesson you learned in 2021 that you can keep for yourself, while all of the other lessons disappear into thin air, what would it be?

A tough, yet interesting question to consider, don’t you think?

I’m going to make a list of the lessons I’ve learned in 2021 right now. I will edit this down to just one however.

  • I realized in 2021 that my life was out of balance: too much working in all it’s forms and not enough writing and publishing.

And this is exactly why, for me, 2022 is going to be all about one word.

BALANCE

Here’s the song of the year for me. I’m pretty sure you all will appreciate it, going into the new year.

My 2021 Merry Christmas post

Merry Christmas my sweet reader friends!

**I promise there’s a totally reasonable explanation for this photo turning up in this post***

I have at long last arrived at the point in the holiday season where I am decompressing. The presents and cookies are out the door (and many now received-USPS, you’re doing a good job). The house is as decorated as it is going to be. All the Christmas plans for the three of us have been fleshed out.

How about you? I hope you’re enjoying this holiday season.

A portion of the Christmas cookies I baked, just before I started packing them up.
My attempt at packaging Christmas cookies differently this year!

We watched “Christmas in Connecticut” together as a family and really enjoyed it. I watched it a few years ago on the recommendation of my mother in law, Alice, aka the woman who is known to give me great advice. I thought it remarkable that in spite of it being made in 1945, Barbara Stanwyck was rocking those trousers and making her own path. I suspected Rabbie and Hubs would find it as charming as I did, and, to my delight, I was right.

On my own, I caught a couple of shows that enchanted me: the totally cheesy yet pleasing “A Castle for Christmas” on Nextflix with Brooke Shields. The fascinatingly-original-for-it’s-time “Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer” (a “must watch” for me every year. It is just so special), and the Oprah-hosted magical “One Night Only” special with Adele. If you can carve out a little time for yourself (please do, you’ve surely earned it), I recommend you watch at least one of these shows. I look forward to hearing your report afterward, friend (s?).

What entertainment have you been enjoying this season?

Sometime around Thanksgiving, my Minnesota born and bred friend, Jill, posted a request on Facebook. She asked that all the friends and family that plan on sending her family a Christmas card include a favorite recipe. Jill and I have bonded many times over our collective foodie tendencies over the years, so I appreciated this request.

Of course, I was concentrating on the baking of the Christmas cookies, the buying of presents, and decorating the house, so her family’s Christmas card arrived well before I had even sent ours out to anyone. For whatever reason, it hadn’t occurred to me that she intended to include a recipe of her own. What a sweet surprise that was for me. Chicken Za-Tar will be on our menu in the new year for sure. I think I ought to steal Jill’s idea next Christmas.

I, in turn, wrote down the recipe for my current favorite Christmas cookie, “Cherry Snowballs”. I just hope it’s not too much of a pain in the ass for her to make these with her two kiddos (ages 6 and 9) when next Christmas rolls around.

With any luck, I will be hearing the whole story of this cookie baking adventure in the years to come.

How are you all celebrating the holidays this year? Any fun and games on the agenda? Or maybe some quiet time with the one you love? Or maybe it’s just the most perfect time to catch up on your sleep? I relate to the latter at this point in time. Not that I’m going to honor that of course.

It's Christmas. Keep It Real. - Home | Facebook
Because this. $$**

In a perfect world, I’d have a week off of work and the ability to purchase plane tickets for the three of us to fly to Minnesota and spend the holiday with our extended families. But I have faith that scenario will happen sooner rather than later.

But in my imperfect (yet blessed) world, the three of us are going to enjoy the currently very mild temps here in Colorado and play mini-golf amidst Christmas lights at the Adventure Golf venue 10 minutes away from us. I am going to be making a ton of food, we will watch a Christmas movie or two, attend Christmas Eve services at church, open presents our family has sent us, and play board games. I’m most excited to play “Ransom Notes”, which I bought recently as a family gift. One of the benefits of being a mom to adult children, I suppose.

In other words, in spite of the stress and hard work associated with this Christmas season, I’m still looking forward to it all.

***I spent more time than I am comfortable sharing on saving the “right” photo for my “featured image” on this post. So I chose instead to include a picture in the body of this post of the only cat I’ve really felt love toward, Karl, Rabbie’s “biological son”, taken last year or maybe the year before. But he’s cute and obviously spunky and charming so it fits in my view****

$$**and this image I totally copied from https://www.facebook.com/ItsChristmasKeepItReal/

How Are You Rolling These Days?

I ask this as a sincere question.

Like, I can take it. Be real.

Think of it as a “check in”.

I also ask this because I have a full blown complex about coming across on this blog as self-centered, self-involved and driven solely by self-interest. Like “me me me me me” obnoxiousness.

Please God tell me I am not alone in this.

However, I know the nature of a personal blog is that it is personal. Attached at the hip to who the blogger is as a person. Like, no one is paying me to write news articles here. I am not beholden to anyone other than myself (and you) in this space.

It’s really quite the conundrum, don’t you think?

Also, I am not in the right head space to finish and publish the post I most recently started about work and career and me (of course).

Because of Christmas. Because of Work. Because I have the crud (aka sinus and possible ear infection, and yes I should get my ass to the doctor’s office).

So, tell me, how are you feeling physically these days?

Aside from the crud, my shoulders are aching more than usual. Likely because of the physical activity my upper body has been up to, with all the Christmas cookie baking and packaging I’ve been doing. I am hop Blah .Blah. Blah.

I freaking love baking. Christmas cookies especially. My secret? I keep it simple. No high-falutin Martha Stewart shit going on behind the scenes over here.

Though someday, I think I’d enjoy simply trying some of Martha’s recipes or DIY tricks. Maybe when I have this kitchen to cook and bake in.

How’s your attitude?

Currently, I am waffling between “let’s get Christmas wrapped up, mmmkay?” and “Christmas is my favorite!” Depends on the day. I am very much looking forward to making some merry though. Especially this weekend when I’ll be dressed as an elf while working at my employer’s “Santa Shop”, where donated presents, food, and hygiene products are given out to low income families.

How are you feeling emotionally?

Good question. Hard to answer actually don’t you think? I push those emotions of mine down during times of extreme stress. So much so that I can’t properly answer this question. Once I start seeing the light at the end of this Christmas tunnel I have faith that my body will relax and those emotions will come to the surface. I’ll sit down on my couch with Radar, sip some wine, and let it go.

All of the above and more is why I’ve determined that I’m going to choose one word to focus on in the New Year: “Balance”.

I was totally going to end this post with the loveliest Christmas music video I could find on YouTube.

Instead, I’m going to share two of my newest favorite songs; both of them stick in my head as I go about my day and lift me up. Maybe they’ll do the same for you.

I have been a fan of this dude for about 8 years or so. Can’t wait to see him at Red Rocks (or anywhere else) someday.

Doesn’t this just make you yearn for a tropical vacation this spring????

That One Show

Isn’t it amazing, when you stop and think about it (I’m talking to you, fellow AARPr’s) that in our lifetime we have gone from having at most 4 channels on our televisions to having 4 million (give or take) channels?

And to top it off, now we have the control.

We no longer have to catch our favorite shows when they air. We can DVR the shows we want to see. Watch them at our leisure.

We can also pause whatever we are watching at will.

I don’t know about you, but my leisure time is limited. I accept that. It’s far more beneficial for me, anyway, to focus on doing things and learning things than it is to lounge on the couch in front of the boob tube. Like reading and writing. Baking in my kitchen and playing with Radar. Hanging out with Hubs, listening to music and talking or texting with my kids.

Yet, lounging on the couch watching t.v. deserves to have it’s place too. It’s a great distraction. A way to decompress.

This is why I’m far more intentional about what t.v. programming I consume these days. Not that I don’t have an ongoing list in my head of all the shows and movies I want to see when (if) time allows.

Allow me for a hot second to go down that rabbit hole (please know, patient readers, that the below will be highly edited):

  • Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist
  • Hacks
  • The entirety of How I met Your Mother
  • The Great British Baking Show
  • Hamilton
  • Only Murders in the Building
  • One Night with Adele

There’s one show in particular that I make sure to catch every week, however. Though I DVR it when each new season starts, just in case-I typically end up watching it when it first airs, commercials and all.

Tell me, do you also have that one show?

Mine is Grey’s Anatomy. I am a faithful devotee to this show. I have watched it from the first season, when the main characters were Izzie, Cristina, Alex, George, and, of course, Meredith.

Grey's Anatmony - Top 5 tV shows

This show has held my interest over all these years. Through the drama that was Christina and Owen’s relationship. Through the plane crash that took the lives of Mark and Lexie, which broke my heart. Through the shocking and tragic death of McDreamy and the trials and tribulations of Jo. Through the mental health struggles Bailey and Andrew went through and those short lived, fun romances between Meredith and Andrew, Teddy and Koracic, and April and Jackson (I was so pleased when they got together in the end).

However, I’m mostly there for Meredith. There’s something soothing about her voice, at the beginning of each show. It sets the tone for the episode. It’s comforting. She’s a character that has stood the test of time. She’s the anchor. The one I most root for.

I think it was a smart move, that at the beginning of the current season, creator Shonda Rhimes made sure it was clearly stated that while IRL, Covid was still ravaging our country and world, it was not going to be present in the fictional world of Grey-Sloane Memorial Hospital. However, as the season has unfolded, there are references to it. It’s not that they are pretending it never happened. They are pretending it is over. The show is moving forward and focusing on developing the characters relationships to each other.

I also believe that the showrunners and writers have opened doors for spin-off shows. Because, sadly, just like every other t.v. show that goes on for years, there will someday be a final episode on Grey’s Anatomy.

Now, I acknowledge that what I’m about to say next is solely for fellow fans of Grey’s, but here are the options I see for spin-off shows:

The journeys of the current class of interns (Schmitt, Helm, Nico, the Ortiz mother-daughter duo) who, to me, capture the vibe of the OG interns.

A show set in Minnesota, featuring Meredith, Amelia, Kai, and Meredith’s new love interest (who I think resembles McDreamy, especially his smile), Nick.

It would not surprise me in the least if there is a spin-off of Grey’s in the future. I will be there for it.

You all know by now I love to end my blog posts with a song. Here’s a beautiful one from the current season of Grey’s. I think it captures the mood of this (hopefully not final) season of my favorite show.