November is a special month for me. It’s been that way for me for years now but I’m only now starting to appreciate it.
First off, it’s the month both my mom and sister were born. So I have people I love to celebrate and honor.
Then there’s the crisp fall air and pretty blue skies here in Colorado mixed in with the golden and rust hues of the trees. There’s gaining an extra hour thanks to Daylight Savings Time.
And the new clothes. Cozy sweaters and leggings. Fun boots to wear.
And Thanksgiving this year is right at the end of the month. The perfect holiday, in my opinion. No expectation of gifts or the shopping for them that stresses me out. I’ve always enjoyed my Thanksgivings, though none of them end up being the same.
There was the Thanksgiving when Hubs and I were new parents living in Lubbock, Texas. We did not have the funds to travel to Minnesota to be with our families, so we made the best of it by hosting a lasagna dinner (I had yet to make a Thanksgiving feast on my own at that time in my life) for new friends Hubs made in grad school.
There was last year, when we opted to stay put in Colorado and got invited to church friends home for a lovely Thanksgiving dinner that included the bonus of lively conversations.
This year, Hubs and I are flying our two adult spawn and one grandchild out to Colorado to spend an extended Thanksgiving holiday weekend with us. I will massively enjoy the planning aspect of it (as a medium recently told me, I’m a “chip off the old block” because my mom was a compulsive yet very talented planner Of. All. The. Events.).
For my small and beloved family, I will be making homemade comfort food (in addition to the traditional Thanksgiving dinner on Friday. Yes, I said Friday-because I think Black Friday should suck it). I will be choosing an array of family oriented “feel good” movies for us to enjoy. I will be determining games we can play together that interest all ages, from 5 to 52. I will be reserving tickets to a movie or live show that we can all enjoy together.
Note to self: I will keep it together if any of these plans go kaflooey on me. Appreciating that we are all together in one place for this specific and relatively short period of time will be my focus. Like Clark Griswold taught me.
This song will be shared. Because it’s the song that I imagine will play at the end of the movie of my life (yes, I have a rich fantasy life). Accompanied of course with images of my beautiful family, which will have expanded by that time in probably unexpected ways. The setting will be our dream home/cabin in the woods on a lake in Wisconsin with plenty of windows, a stone fireplace, and a couple of happy canines.
I think I’m in this writing thing, or maybe I should say blogging thing, for the long haul. I’ve been at it for over 2 years now, and while I don’t have a ton of followers, I continue to gain them.
I have no intention of monetizing this blog. First off, I don’t have the time or energy for this. Or the interest. It just wouldn’t feel right to me. That’s not to say that I don’t fervently hope that at some point in the not-too-distant future, someone somewhere will stumble across this blog and be like “this woman needs to have her own column in our online magazine” or, “We need to make this woman a part of our writing team”, or “I need to be this woman’s agent because she’s going to write a bestseller some day”.
I think over time, I’ve honed in on the primary (but most certainly not only) topics I want to write about: food, music, travel, and pop culture. But I really want to write more posts about politics; however, experience has taught me that this does not result in many likes or comments; nor does it garner me new followers. On the flip side, however, if I were to flash forward 20 years into the future, do I want my spawn’s spawn or their spawn to uncover my writings and be disgusted by the fact that with all the turmoil and injustice that occurred on a daily basis due to the Trump presidency, I chose to write about frivolous things like my favorite playlists or the travel experiences/dreams I had, as opposed to using my voice to rail against the forces of evil? I wouldn’t want to be perceived in the future as being complicit in these tumultuous times.
This is such a huge conundrum for me as a human being and a writer. Perhaps I’m overthinking it. I am such a champ at that.
What I am most certainly not a champ at is the whole tech side of blogging. I joined another Facebook bloggers group a few months ago, which I haven’t been engaged in at all. Because the members are clearly in a different league than I. They are far more ambitious and I don’t understand their language. I feel like if I were to decide to become a fully participating member of this group, translating their lingo would eat up so much of my time and energy that I’d be tempted to throw my hands up and quit blogging altogether. So I don’t even know where to begin. What questions to ask of them or how to phrase them.
If only I had an intern for a few hours a week to do the behind-the-scenes techy stuff for me. I could pay them with home baked goodies and free wi-fi. Pimp Radar out for free puppy cuddles.
Then there’s the fiction I have been working on. Or, more to the point, wrote a bit of but got distracted by life and kind of forgot about. Will I ever actually share it? If I do, how might it be received? If it’s well-received, do I have it within me to continue the story and create something really special, entertaining, funny, relatable, and financially rewarding for me and Hubs down the road so we can have the most awesome early retirement life ever?
These are my honest-to-God struggles these days when it comes to this blogging thing.
How about you, my fellow bloggers? How are you all rolling “write” now? This curious mind would love to know.
In the way back of my life, I was a college student working on a bachelor’s degree in Social Work. As part of obtaining my degree, I was required to complete an internship.
This of course is not uncommon. I’m sure many of you readers have had your own experiences with internships.
I’d always been an eager student. Full of curiosity. Ready to soak up any knowledge there for the taking to better myself. I chose to intern at the local Children’s Home.
Working with intellectually disabled children was not necessarily my end goal, career-wise. As I recall, my decision to take that internship was guided more by the limited amount of choices before me. The biggest thing I learned from this experience is that managing these children’s erratic, peculiar, and sometimes explosive behaviors was not something I had an instinct or talent for.
And that was and is perfectly okay with me. The point is, I learned from that experience the track I didn’t want to pursue in my future career in social work.
Here’s the thing, though: while approximately 30 plus years have passed since this internship, I’m still as hungry as ever to learn something new. Expand my horizons. Both career-wise and for my own personal satisfaction.
Let’s pretend for a moment that the Esteemed Wizard of General Adult Education has presented me with an opportunity to be an intern again, at the age of 52. With no restrictions or guidelines. Just whatever kind of internship I can dream up. She is a wizard after all, so she can make that happen for me, right?
I believe that 99.9% of internships are unpaid, so I would have zero expectation of any financial compensation. But since this is my own customized internship opportunity, I would require that I 1) have the ability to set my own hours and 2) if the internship location was not in the north Denver metro area (where I currently live, if you didn’t know this already), that I would have free housing and a modest daily stipend for culinary sustenance.
Here’s one possibility:
Interning at Saturday Night Live. I am a life-long, hard-core fan of this show. From Gilda Radner’s “Rosana Rosana-dana” to Chris Farley’s “motivational” speaker sketch (I live in a van down by the river!) to Debbie Downer, all the incarnations of “Weekend Update” and most of everything in between, this show has amused me for over 40 years.
I imagine I’d be hanging out in the writer’s room while the writers spitball ideas for scenes, dialogue, or sketches. I’d have pen and notebook at the ready to jot down the best ideas and expand upon them. I’d have opportunities to interview the writers, asking them questions about their journeys to becoming the writers they are. I’d get to hang out with celebrities and learn a bit about what makes them tick.
I wouldn’t be just a taker in this scenario either. I’d provide sketch ideas, like this one:
Heidi Gardner, playing Brie Bacardi opposite Mikey Day’s Nico, is interviewed by the newbie entertainment reporter with a ridiculous name, played of course by Kenan Thompson. At Coachella. He asks her how she got her name. She explains that “years ago” (2017) at a “low key ” late evening soiree with her besties sitting by a fire on the beach, she drank this:
For reference, here’s one of the sketches featuring these two doofuses:
Once Brie realizes that Nico has been behind her photobombing the live interview, she loses her shit (because this interview was supposed to be all about her) and a ridiculous fight ensues, which ends when he hands her a new puppy he has named “Breezer”.
What do you think-do I have a shot?
More importantly, however: if you, imaginative and curious readers, could be an intern right now, where would it be and why? I would love to hear what you come up with!
Hubs and I just got back from spending the better part of a week in the house I grew up in.
Because my mom died.
The last good picture of me and Mom (July 2018)
I’m going to be processing this fact for a good long while.
But for now, let me tell you a little about this special house.
It’s a small house that was filled with a lot of love. It’s very old but well maintained, because of my dad’s abilities with carpentry, plumbing, and virtually everything else.
As the story goes, my grandfather (whom I never met), at the age of 58, had a massive heart attack and died while standing in the archway between the tiny kitchen and the dining area of this house.
Both of my parents had experiences with his presence in that house over the years. It never scared them at all. I think they found it comforting.
This is also the house my father grew up in. He bought it from my grandmother. Between about 1960 and 1985, he and mom raised me, and my older sister and brother in this house.
The kitchen is quite small. I’m always amazed that despite not having more than 5 feet of counter space to work with, my mom always churned out delicious, homemade meals for us each and every night. The woman had a knack for using small spaces as efficiently as possible. It’s too bad she never got an opportunity to visit Ikea, with their mock up small spaces that have cleverly placed nooks and crannies for housing all the necessities for day to day living.
This is the house in which my two teenaged siblings threw a wild party at, in about 1974, while our parents were on a Las Vegas vacation. The party where 7 year old me was slathered with attention and plied with sandwiches and other treats in an attempt to ensure my silence. I, of course, being the bratty little sister, immediately told on them once our parents got home.
This is the house where my dad, fully immersed in his Alzheimer’s fog 2 years ago, gestured towards the corner of the living room, and relived, for me and mom, the delight he experienced in that very space where 75 years prior, his father sat with him and read stories.
This is the house where, back in the 80’s, my best friend burned a hole with her cigarette on the handmade-by-mom quilt that covered my 4 poster bead while my parents were out of town for the weekend. I lived in fear from that day on that mom would notice that little burn hole. But, surprisingly, she never did.
Yes, the quilt (as our bright 5 year old grandson said: that sounds like it starts with the letter “Q”!) came back home to Colorado with us.
This is the house where people gathered to celebrate. From mom’s bridge club nights to family/friends steak fries during the summer in the backyard to high school graduation parties to wedding present openings.
It’s Valentine’s Day this week people! Are you psyched? Do you have plans with your beloved? Or is this just another day for you?
While our plans have not exactly been fleshed out yet, Hubs and I will most certainly take the time to celebrate this holiday in one way or another. It’s tradition for us. At the very least, Valentine cards will be exchanged, and a dinner not made by us will be enjoyed. Nothing too fancy or exciting, but it certainly isn’t going to be just another, regular, uneventful day for us.
I can safely say that I’ve got some experience when it comes to romantic love. Hubs and I will be celebrating 29 years of marriage this coming May. I’d say that qualifies me for sharing the best long term romantic relationship advice I can shell out, correct?
Me and Hubs in beautiful Colorado, 2018
I could say things like “Never go to bed angry” (yes, solid advice but we have all heard it before). Or “Have weekly date nights” (easier said than done, am I right?).
But I’m not going to do that. I’m simply going to share with you what I have found works for Hubs and I. The things we’ve discovered along the way that keep us together. Keep us satisfied. Keep us interested in staying married.
Celebrate every chance you get. Revel in the mundane. This might mean an impromptu dinner date with your beloved just because it’s Friday and you both made it through the week unscathed. Or maybe a meeting got canceled for one of you, leaving you unexpected time and space to spend together, so you decide to uncork that bottle of wine you bought on vacation two years ago that has only been serving as a dust collector that whole time.
Engage in activities together which you both enjoy in equal measure. I think it’s safe to say that every long term couple out there has got at least one activity they both enjoy doing. Do it together! Maybe it’s cooking. Or hiking. Or antiquing. Or collecting bobble-head dolls. Whatever it is, enjoy it together as often as you possibly can. Some serious bonding and great memories are to be had if you do.
Give each other a break. Be kind always. If your partner comes home cranky and bone-tired at the end of the day, give them a hug. Have a plan B if the original plan was to go out and socialize with others. Be okay with that. Trust me on this one, it took me years to get to the point where I could do this without any resentment. And it’s given me much peace.
Make your relationship a priority. If you have kids, don’t hyper focus on them. Don’t let your entire world revolve around them all of the time. They will only be in your day to day lives for so long. Remember that the time will come, and quicker than you think, where it’s just the two of you again, like it was in the beginning.
Make time on a regular basis to talk about your future together. The hopes and dreams you have. The perceived obstacles to achieving your dreams. Problem solve together. Put it all out there. This gives you a path. Things to look forward to, a north star for your relationship. Don’t allow yourselves to simply slug through every day like bots, focusing solely on the present.
Encourage each other’s personal hobbies. I think we have more to bring to the table in our relationships when we take time to do things on our own. For instance, Hubs decided when he turned 48 last year that he wanted to teach himself a musical instrument. He told me that he wanted to engage the left (or is it the right?) side of his brain, since so much of his work time as an IT project leader relies heavily on the right (or is it the left?) side. So he bought himself a ukulele. He practices it regularly, with my encouragement and blessing. I’ve noticed a change in his life outlook and that his sense of playfulness has increased since taking up this fun hobby. For his part, he is highly supportive of me and my blogging. So much so, that (as I mentioned here), he bought me my very own Chromebook specifically for blogging. I think by encouraging each other’s individual hobbies we are showing respect for each other’s autonomy. If we each have pursuits that provide enjoyment to us, it’s only natural that those good vibes will affect our relationships in a positive way.
One thing I can’t stress enough when it comes to long term couplings such as ours is the importance of being a good roommate. Peace and harmony become the norm as opposed to the exception in the day to day when both partners choose to share their living space thoughtfully. Little things go a long way. Such as taking care of the laundry before the pile gets too big and without having to be asked. Cleaning up the dishes you dirtied while playing your video game in the home office. Asking your partner if they would mind if you turn on your music, before turning on said music. I’m not talking about catering to your partner and constantly putting their needs and preferences first; I’m talking about giving the consideration to your partner that you want to receive from them.
And since I’m giving long term romantic relationship advice here, I would be remiss to not mention a key element in any successful long term pairing: Sex. I mean, when you think about it, it’s what brought you together in the first place. Not that you and your beloved hopped in the sack the minute you first locked eyes (not that there would necessarily be anything wrong with that), but honestly, would one really make the choice to embark on a long term relationship without being sexually attracted to their partner? I think not. So make time for it. Keep your expectations realistic. It’s not always going to be knock-your-socks-off orgasmic bliss. And that is ok. It is normal, in fact. Enjoy the skin to skin contact. The eye to eye contact. The intimate pillow talk, expressing how you feel about each other and the life you’ve created together. Plan for this on a regular basis. Savor this time together.
Before I hit “publish” on this blog post, I must tell you that I wrote this post a couple of months ago. I was too chicken to post it till now because of my fear that I would come across as being self-absorbed and/or obnoxious. It’s not that I no longer harbor that fear; I have simply decided that 1) since this is my blog and 2) there’s at least a small chance that someone reading this may determine that they also should create a vision board which could improve their state of minds as it has done for me, publishing this is indeed something I should do.
So there’s that.
Jen Sincero, in her book “You Are a Badass” (which I have mentioned a couple of times in this blog), inspired me to create a vision board. Since I have time on my hands at this point in my life (what a blessing), a desire to express myself creatively, and plenty of notions of what I want my future to look like, creating this was quite a worthwhile pursuit.
Let me give you a tour:
The quote that is smack dab in the middle expresses how I’m choosing to live now. I am sincerely seeking (for meaning, for joy, for good things in the world). And I am sincerely striving to be the best version of myself every day, with the choices I make and how I interact with people. I am also sincerely full of love for this blessed life I’ve been granted and my heart is open.
The picture on top of this is of a mini-camper with just enough room for two. Hubs and I are enamored with the notion of hitching a little camper to our CRV and taking spontaneous long weekend road trips to parts unknown. We really dig the idea of being able to forego pricey hotel stays and having our own space. We also really love the idea of being able to sit around a campfire at night next to our temporary home on wheels, pondering life while sipping wine or craft beer amongst the stars.
While it may be difficult to make out, there are numerous small pictures of different kinds of dogs. Because dogs make me happy. We no longer have a dog, as our Homer, a bichon we adopted in 2008, passed away in 2013. We both miss him so very much. He brought so much joy to our whole family. And soon I hope to adopt another dog.
Of course I had to include a picture of the cabin that at least sort of looks like the one we will someday live in. It features a decent sized deck and a fireplace. It’s big enough for two, yet could comfortably accommodate up to 4 more people, when we are blessed with company.
Then there are the pics of places I wish to travel with my Hubs. I didn’t buy a big enough vision board to actually include all of the places I want to travel to (I would need to use an entire wall for that!), but three of them are pictured on my vision board: New York City (that’s why Tina and Amy are also pictured because not only do I admire them both more than anyone else for their comedic work, but I simply must be in the audience at Saturday Night Live if I am going to NYC). There’s Napa Valley, California, aka wine country (though it may be awhile before we can travel there thanks to the recent fires). And there’s Hawaii, where Hubs and I have been wanting to go for years. I picture us around a campfire on the beach at sunset, sipping fruity cocktails out of pineapples while being entertained by traditional Hawaiian dancers.
Perhaps you think it’s juvenile to have a vision board. Perhaps it is. But I don’t think anyone is too old to dream, do you? And seeing my dreams every day on the wall next to our computer desk keeps me in my happy place. And I believe that when you can envision things you want in your life, you are more apt to manifest them in your life.
Do you have a vision board? I think we can learn about and inspire each other if you are willing to share a picture of yours with me!