Category Archives: Friendships

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.

Time To Write Some Letters

The USPS is likely to collapse unless the feds agree to bail them out in the next few months. This is not a good thing.

The USPS is an American institution that we have relied on all of our lives. Plus I have a very close friend who is a “lifer” at a post office in Wisconsin. He and hundreds of thousands of other postal workers would lose their jobs, and their health insurance. During a pandemic.

Doesn’t seem right to me.

So I was thinking, what can I do to help? What can others do to help? To try to prevent this from happening? To me, it’s a no-brainer.

Let’s all pledge to start writing letters.

I know, I know, it seems like such a small and possibly futile thing to do. But for those of us who consider themselves to be writers, it should feel natural. Enjoyable. Cathartic, even.

I remember being in high school and getting the name and address of another girl in one of those teeny bopper magazines I consumed on the regular. Her name was Liz and she lived in Pennsylvania. We became pen pals. We wrote each other back and forth every couple of weeks for I believe about 2 years. It was fun. I would send her pictures of me and my friends and she would do the same. It was exciting to get her letters in the mail.

Wouldn’t it be fun to try that again, as adults?

Now I’ve got this sorta weird compulsion to purchase greeting cards. Especially if I’m in some kind of cute little gift shop while traveling. Or when I go to Trader Joe’s (did you know they sell fabulous greeting cards for just $1 a pop?).

Sometimes I pick one because of the art. Sometimes it’s the message. Once in a while, it’s both and I have conjured up the image of it’s recipient on the spot. Now that’s a happy moment for me.

Here’s a sample of what I’ve currently got on hand.

You do you, but what I plan on doing this week is picking one of these cards and writing a few lines to someone I care about. Let them know I’m thinking of them and hoping all is well in their corner of the world. And help out the USPS in the process.

Then, the next week, I’ll choose another card and a different person to send it to. Or maybe I will use the pretty stationary I know I have around here somewhere and get out one of my colored pens and have a go at it. Good thing Hubs purchased approximately 2 years of postage stamps on line the other day.

Seems like a worthy pursuit to me. Who’s with me?

Celebrating Friendship In Florida

I’ve got vacation on the brain. It is all I can think about and therefore all I can write about today.

Hubs and I are flying to Tampa next week (Coronavirus be damned), where we will meet up with one of our long time couple friends (Hubs’ first college roommate and his wife, Lynda) and drive a rental car to a 2 bedroom condo in Siesta Key. Where we will stay for 5 days.

Thanks to being a teenager in the 80’s, this song is on a loop in my brain now

There, we will be celebrating Hubs’ 50th and our upcoming 30th wedding anniversary.

Beyond having our flights and VRBO booked, no other plans have been made. Which is what makes me so excited about this trip (the element of surprise, you know). All four of us have agreed on our priorities while there: lounging on the beach, sipping ice cold adult beverages, and fishing in the ocean. That’s it. No further expectations.

The fishing part is all Hubs’ idea. Not that the rest of us goons hate fishing. It’s just that Hubs adores it. He and I went on a charter boat fishing when we traveled to Islamorada in the Florida Keys to celebrate our 25th anniversary. We both enjoyed it tremendously.

Lynda’s husband is wary of the “devil sun”, as he calls it. He will be slathered from head to toe in sunscreen, wearing a Minnesota Twins baseball cap and reading a newspaper. That is how he rolls, and we all know it.

Lynda and I will enjoy ourselves some chit-chat between our spates of attempting to catch “the big one”. Snort-laughing all the while. That is how we roll.

Of course, I’d be lying to you if I didn’t admit there are scenarios in my head of what we might do between the fishing, soaking up the sun on that white sand beach, and downing frozen fruity cocktails. Like kayaking, eating fresh seafood, and souvenir shopping (in tribute to my mom, Bonnie, who never failed to bring us all back tchotchkes when she came back from vacations).

And with the time I’ve left before this vacation, I’m going to be working on a playlist. Cool thing is, my office mate gave me a water bottle with a blue tooth speaker implanted in the cap. So I can take my bottle of cold *whatever* with me wherever we go, unscrew the lid and sync it up to my cell phone and together we can all jam out.

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Like this!

First song I will add to this playlist is going to be this David Byrne song that I discovered by accident. I was in awe of his performance with his talented troupe on SNL the other weekend, and it occurred to me that beyond the major “Talking Heads” hits, I wasn’t very familiar with his music. So I used google to grant my wish of listening to his music and this came up. As I was listening to it, I thought to myself that this is a perfect song to sit and listen to while on a beach in Florida with our friends. Then I looked at the name of the song.

I think it’s a good omen.

Soundtrack for 2020

As a writer, I’m perpetually searching for fodder. Music is the sort of fodder that I’m naturally drawn to on a daily basis.

It’s the stuff that fuels me. It inspires me. It soothes me. It motivates me. It nurtures me in a way nothing else really can.

That is why I’ve decided to create a bold new playlist for just me, myself, and I. It will be chock full of tracks that will keep me focused on my own self improvement path. Songs that contain the messages I need to hear.

So indulge me while I play “DJ” for a minute (a job I’ve always wanted to sample) and share with you the “must have” songs for me in 2020:

  • “Shower the People” by James Taylor. The lyric “Shower the people you love with love, show them the way that you feel; things are gonna get so much better if you only will” is….just well, “IT” for how I aim to interact with others on the daily this year.
  • “Don’t You Worry ‘Bout a Thing” by Stevie Wonder. Not only does this song prompt me to break out in a happy dance, but it instantly improves my outlook. I like to think of it as a song that God inspired Stevie Wonder to write as a love letter to his beloved children. At it’s heart, it’s a song about faith.
  • “Everybody’s Cup of Tea” by Kasey Musgraves. I’m going to include a clip of this one because I don’t think it’s terribly well known, though it should be. I need to keep it on my soundtrack because I know that with my blogging and writing, not to mention my actual personal life, there’s going to always be people who don’t appreciate me. To stay strong and keep plowing ahead, I need to embrace that fact.
  • “Taking Care of Business” by Bachman Turner-Overdrive. It’s the lyric, “Taking care of business, every day, taking care of business, every way”, that gets my motor going. It motivates me to stay on top of shit. To not get so sucked into social media, binge-watching Netflix, or even blogging that I’m not fully taking care of important business. Like keeping our home in good order. Getting to work on time each day and completing each task that presents itself to me. Self-care in all it’s varied forms.
  • “Thank You for Being a Friend” by Andrew Gold. This song will be on my 2020 soundtrack because it’s important to me this year to make friendships, old and new, a bigger priority than in years past. To appreciate all the friends I have and nurture those relationships.
  • “Anticipation” by Carly Simon. This song is a very important one as I move forward in 2020. On account of my squirrel brain (which almost always has multiple tabs open simultaneously), I relate to the lyric “And I wonder if I’m really with you now, or just chasing after some finer day”. It stops me in my tracks and reminds me to be present. To focus on the “right now” instead of the “what’s next”. Because tomorrow is not a given.
  • “Take that Step” from “Bathtubs Over Broadway”. If you haven’t yet seen this Netflix documentary, do yourself a favor and watch it. Unless you don’t want to feel joy or be uplifted this year. The lyric “find that path others missed, life is better with a twist” is particularly inspiring to me as a writer with ambition!
  • “I Can See Clearly Now” by Jimmy Cliff. I’m sure you all know this song. It’s a universal musical “pick me up”, don’t you think? The reason it’s going on my 2020 soundtrack is because 2019 was a hell of a year. A lot of not-so-great things happened; however towards the end of the year things started to really look up again. On top of that, this song represents what I’m seeking most in 2020: Clarity.

This soundtrack of mine, much like this blog, is a WIP. Throughout 2020, behind the scenes, I will be ISO more songs that will guide me through the year with a sense of purpose, love for myself and others, and the mindset and energy level I need to accomplish the goals I’m setting for myself.

Do you, fellow music lovers, have any songs in mind for your own 2020 soundtrack? Please share in the comments ūüôā

Snapshots of Summer

This is merely a test. A test of my ability to use my scant photography skills to tell a story.

One of my personal blogging goals is to improve my photography skills. Truly.

So, here I go!

 

Top left: a picture of our present day, imperfect, life. As you can surmise, no acrobatic moves were employed to capture this scene.

You see my very plain, cheap looking kitchen countertops (which someday before long will be replaced with something that actually looks cool). There’s the bunch of lavender I bought because I was at a Lavender Festival a couple of weeks ago with my best Colorado friend, Adrianne, and it seemed like the thing to do. My original intention was to google what to actually do with this lavender; I overhead the lavender selling lady at the booth where I purchased this telling another customer about hanging it upside down and waiting for the oil to drip off of it. But I ended up getting distracted by life, per my usual, and 14 days (give or take) later the bunch of lavender remains on the top shelf of my kitchen counter. I guess I’ll have to toss it soon, but I certainly am up for suggestions if you have any.

Speaking of the Lavender Festival, Adrianne and I had a very relaxing time chatting and listening to tunes on the way home. I shared with her my new favorite summer song.

Adrianne informed me that this particular song was actually a cover of “Doin’ Time” by Sublime, which came out in 1996, so of course we listened to that version as well. I would have known about Sublime’s version of this tune had I not been busy mothering my spawn, who were 3 and 4 at the time. The genre of music I listened to at that time was “new country”. It was a phase of mine that thankfully passed.

What’s in the orange bowl? It’s a “rustic” bread salad, a recipe that came highly recommended by my beloved sister,¬† which was surprisingly not a hit. But more than likely, I used the wrong kind of salad dressing. Then there’s the half pint of vodka, which has become our go-to liquor (on those days when we are craft-beered-out) along with the Mio stuff that you add to said vodka for flavor (another suggestion by my sis, though this one was enjoyed much more than the bread salad thingy).

In the brown bag, there was a delectable cinnamon roll that I scarfed down the morning after taking this picture. It was purchased at the Farmer’s Market closest to me. Someone’s got to support small businesses-bakeries included, right? It would have been rude to do otherwise.

Then there’s a selfie taken in our “en suite” (‘scuse me, I’m feeling fancy and I’ve probably consumed too much HGTV).¬† In case you were wondering, this pic is very much not inspired by a Kardashian.

Then there’s the picture from ye olden times (resting atop my sister’s much nicer looking kitchen countertops), featuring my Grandma Pearl (one of two, not sure if I’ve ever mentioned this) as a child with her wacky hairdo. Youngest spawn has a mass of thick hair with a number of cowlicks.

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Check out that tongue! You got some competition Gene Simmons!

 Of course, being the obnoxious human that I am, I texted the photo to alert them that their hair is indeed genetic.

So for the actual beautiful pictures: the skies at my sister and brother in law’s place (aka my happiest place to be) in far northern Minnesota, when we were there last month visiting the fam. These pics capture the moments when we were sitting around the campfire, shooting the shit on a warm July night.

Then there’s the two pics of Hubs and I enjoying our first experience at Red Rocks.¬†In the middle bottom pic, we are tailgaiting in the parking lot prior to the show. Good times.¬†

The pic next to that is of my new pedicure. One of my self-care “quirks” is that my feet need to look nice and pretty at all times. I don’t know where this comes from. Probably because sandals are my very favorite type of footwear and I don’t believe in showcasing them on gnarly looking feet (or seeing others showcasing their gnarly looking feet in sandals for that matter). I love that the nail lady (there’s a proper term for this, right? Technician perhaps?) offered to add a flowery design on my big toes. She did it free hand, using three different colors. I found this quite impressive. I’ll be back to see her again for sure.

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Me with Ray-darling. Yes, I’ve become one of those people who shops online for fun bandanas for my dog to wear.

I invite each of you to share your imperfect, weird, real-life photos that tell a story about what you’ve been up to this summer.

May your days be happy!

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Babblings on Beverages

Kind of like the bag of peppermint tea I sometimes have later in the evenings (to soothe my tummy and chill myself out), an idea has been seeping in my brain about publishing a post about beverages.

Really, ever since I found the groovy blog, Gin & Lemonade…with a twist.¬† I liked that the first question asked upon joining this delightful blogger’s group on Facebook was “what is your favorite beverage?” My response was “Trader Joe’s mango lemonade with vodka”. Bums me out that this lovely liquid has not been on the shelves at TJ’s the last 4 times I have been there.

So, let’s talk bevvies. Or as my mother in law calls them (the only person I know who uses this word on a regular basis): Beverages.

Here’s a few I would be pleased as punch to serve you if you came over for a visit:

Craft beer. Hey, I live in Colorado, so it’s a given that I’d offer you a beer. There’s so many choices here! If I can assume that you are not a craft-beer aficionado, I’d offer you this one, though it is likely not available at our local liquor store. We’d probably have to get in the car and take a short jaunt to this brewery together, where we could enjoy this fruity, tasty concoction on the lovely deck at Rail’s End.

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Bloody Mary’s. Not the kind with an entire meal perched precariously on top of it. The simple version: tomato juice, vodka, a generous sprinkling of celery salt. Green olives and a celery stick for garnish. It was one of my dad’s favorites.

Colorado Bulldogs. Most people know it as a White Russian.¬† The only difference really is the splash of coke. It was my parent’s signature cocktail when folks would come to visit them at their cabin. One time, someone’s puppy got into one and got a little squirrely. We all had a good laugh over that.

Chardonnay-ZD. This is a superb wine that Hubs and I discovered during our first UCC Synod (for those not in the know, this is essentially a bi-annual conference for members and delegates of the United Church of Christ, the denomination Hubs and I belong to). No, they weren’t serving it during plenary. Ha! It was at a dockside restaurant in California, where we ate fish and chips with other UCC peeps. We look for it every time we travel somewhere. We found it once and bought it; however it’s got a pretty hefty price tag, so it probably wouldn’t be our go-to wine if it was available here anyway. But of course, I’d find a way to get a bottle or two if you came over!

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Now for the non-alcoholic options: 

Water. I know in some places in this country, heck this world, the tap water isn’t so great. In Two Harbors, Minnesota, however, it comes out of the tap ice cold, clear, and perfect. Here in Colorado, the water is of good quality but it’s not TH water. I don’t understand the people who say they hate the taste of water. It’s like, c’mon, it has no “taste”, no flavor. It’s wet and thirst quenching. And I don’t think I’d get any arguments by saying it goes with everything. Personally, I drink it with most every meal.

Iced tea. Not a beverage I grew up with at all. Hubs did however, so along with those other things one adopts in their married lives, making pitchers of tea with just the right amount of sugar (or in our case, Truvia), is something we do.

Coffee. Hubs and I are both devoted coffee drinkers, like both sets of our parents. We like it dark, roasty, and bold. High-test, if you will. And while I usually keep fresh half and half in my fridge to add to my morning coffee, if you were visiting, I’d spring for a couple of flavored creams so you would have options.

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What’s your favorite beverage choice? Perhaps it depends on your mood, the weather, the time of day. Tell me about it in the comments!

 

For the love of couple friendships

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Lucy and Ricky and Fred and Ethel. These two couples were the best of friends. Growing up in northern Minnesota, my parents had their own Fred and Ethel. This couple featured heavily in my childhood. In fact, they were my godparents. They were as close to blood relation to us as they could be. We frequently shared meals, many of them impromptu, together. They and my parents had such a closeness, that it was not unusual for them (or my parents) to “pop in” for visits w/no prior notification. And no matter what was going on they always welcomed each other.

I think as we go through life as couples, the friendships we develop with other couples can be priceless. These friendships can help us to avoid getting stuck in a boring rut of relying on only each other for entertainment and friendship. They can help us to appreciate each other more, as one half of the other couple may have an annoying habit or two.¬† Like “She” is a loud chewer. Or “He” always shares obscure jokes that always go over my head. In my experience, these special friendships can provide hilarious memories to recall together as the years pass.

Hubs and I had a good thing going on back in Wisconsin. We enjoyed an active social life and had numerous memorable times with our couple friends. Gratefully, we are just now beginning to develop some new couple friendships here in Colorado.

Because I miss them all so much and want to pay homage to them,¬†and because it’s Valentine’s Day and I don’t want to do the normal thing and gush on about romantic love on my blog,¬†I’m going to tell you all a little bit about some of our beloved couple friends from back home in Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Couple #1: They are younger than us by about 10 years, and share our interests in cooking good food and drinking craft beer and good quality wine. One time, we invited them along with their two youngins over for supper. While I was busy in the kitchen chopping up onions for the salad and they were hanging in the three season porch with Hubs, I accidentally sliced the tip of my finger about halfway off. Of course, blood was gushing everywhere and I freaked out. Hubs drove me to the ER, while our friends stayed behind. We anticipated that they would end up going home, heck we even gave them permission, but they surprised us and were still at our house almost 2 hours later, after having finished making the entire meal.

Couple #2: They are a childless couple who are around 10 years older than us. They are faithful Christians and are the only people we always pray with before eating whatever gourmet food she has cooked for us. He makes his own never-fails-to-be-delicious wine and craft beer, which he shares generously. He is also a master gardener who once shared magnolia shoots with us, which later grew to be a beautiful tree in the front yard of the first home we lived in in Wisconsin.

Couple #3: This couple is the closest we have to our own Fred and Ethel. Trouble is, throughout the years we have rarely lived less than an hour from each other. Of course, that means the time we spend together, while infrequent, is especially precious. The night I first met Hubs I was with her. The night she met her husband I was with her as well. We were in each other’s weddings. We have gone on camping adventures together, back when we were all still young and newly married. We also, years later, enjoyed a camping weekend with all of our kiddos (we both had two, just many years apart). They are the friends we include in biological family gatherings. Their daughters were in our oldest daughter’s wedding. They came and helped us clean out our apartment when we had toddlers and were moving several hours away. These two are the friends of a lifetime.

Couple #4: He was Hubs first roommate in college. She was a “townie” in the college town we lived and studied in for 4 + years. We have had shenanigans galore with these two. Like the two New Year’s Eve’s in a row when the four of us were out celebrating and won big on pull tabs.¬† “She” almost knocked Hubs over, jumping into his arms with glee after the first win.

Fortunately for Hubs and I, we have even more of these couple friendships in our lives. And we treasure each and every one of them.

Do you and your spouse/significant other have your own Fred and Ethel? I would so love to hear about them!

Gratitudes

It seems fitting to me, with it being November, the month of giving thanks and all, that I share what I’m grateful for, aka¬†my gratitudes.

At this particular moment in time, I thankfully have an abundance of things for which I am sincerely grateful. 

Without any further ado, here we go:

#1: I am grateful for employment.  I started my new job last Wednesday, working part time as a program assistant in a non-profit serving senior citizens. And all signs indicate this is going to be a very good fit for me.

#2:¬† I am grateful for our early Thanksgiving celebration with our two lovable spawn. We had a wonderful time with them last weekend, when they came out to visit us here in Colorado. We had our traditional Thanksgiving dinner, spent time cracking each other up playing board games, and saw a few local sites. It was all so very good for this mom’s heart.

#3: I am grateful for my friends, both old and new. Like my friend Kevin, who is like a brother to me, who appreciated the Google playlist I made for him when he came for a visit last month. Like my newest girlfriend here in Colorado, who has such a good heart and a fun loving personality. I’m looking forward to spending more time with her.

#4: The mild climate here in Colorado. Let’s just say I don’t recall being overheated in a long sleeved shirt outside in mid-November when I lived in Wisconsin or Minnesota. It’s actually supposed to be 70 degrees here on Thanksgiving!

#5: I am grateful for Hubs’ support of me working again, which he demonstrates by doing things like staying on top of the laundry and the dishes, and cleaning the house.

#6: I am grateful for our church family. They are a kind, welcoming, supportive and faithful bunch.

#7:  I am grateful for nature shows on t.v. Hubs and I have allowed ourselves to consume an unhealthy amount of MSNBC the last couple of months. Nature shows, like the one we watched about sea otters the other night, are such a welcome and delightful respite from all of that bad news.

#8: I am grateful for blogging. Not just the process of writing and publishing, but the community. Lately, when it comes to blogging, I’ve been reading more than writing due to time constraints from having the job I am so grateful for.¬†It is a bit of a Catch-22, so my future posts will not be as frequent as a result. Here’s a few posts from other blogger’s that I particularly enjoyed that I think you should check out:

This one inspired me to sprinkle cinnamon on my hot cocoa and it was fabulous!

Perfect mug of cocoa

This one introduced me to the concept of Hygge, which I really appreciate!

Hygge

What are you grateful for? Please comment and share your gratitudes!

 

5 Things Learned Along The Way

Hey all! I’m baaaack! Yipee!

Our big road trip visiting family and friends in Minnesota and Wisconsin came to a close when we landed home last Monday evening. The trip had it’s share of ups and downs. The downs are why I have not posted anything on this blog since our return. I, for lack of a better term, needed a “vacation from my vacation”. I realize that is utterly a “first world problem” but given my emotional/mental state after this two week journey, it is 100% true. I assure you, however, that there were more ups than downs.

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Surely this was the biggest and bestest “up” of our vacay!

It is so absolutely flipping awesome to be back home again in my happy bubble in Colorado. Back to our own comfy cozy bed. Back to my wonderful microwave that pops my popcorn to perfection with one small tap on the “popcorn” button. Back to counting bunnies on my (mostly) daily strolls around our neighborhood. Back to my weekly volunteer gig at our local food bank, where I have the pleasure of directly helping those in need while not being responsible for navigating the day to day trials and tribulations of my clients’ lives (as I did as a social worker in Wisconsin for years). Best of all, I’m back to blogging.

Time spent in the car traveling through Nebraska, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin provided me with ample opportunity to do some personal pondering. I took stock of the varied life experiences I’ve had and how they have informed who I am in the here and now. ¬†That said, here is a by no means comprehensive¬†list of lessons learned during my life as a girl and a woman. These lessons, in small and sometimes big ways, led me to become the 50 year old creative writer/optimist/politically aware and engaged/spiritual/feminist/truth-telling broad/hot mess I am now.

First lesson learned: There are truly good guys out there-you just have to be patient. And I deserve respect, dammit!

Moment: I was the girl in college who,¬†thank-the-good-lord,¬†chose to not stay with and/or marry the boyfriend who referred to my breasts as “clangers” (as in “hey honey, your clangers are looking fine today”). I shit you not. I met Hubs in the nick of time.

Second lesson learned:¬†It’s okay to look like a fool. And you feel better about yourself if you resist the impulse to run away, crying in shame. And it’s okay that you just gave your fellow Zumba pals a funny story to tell over margaritas later.¬†

Spoiler Alert: I may have learned this lesson from a goofy lady who annoyed Bob Barker.

Moment: I was the woman who at 40-something  decided on a lark to join a Zumba class. Probably 2 classes in, I tripped over my own feet while attempting to keep up with a fast paced number, landing ever so gracefully on the floor with a thud. Shortly thereafter, I popped back up to continue the dancing festivities. I think this was the moment I decided to stop caring if I looked like an idiot in public. I imagine I may have looked a little like this:

 

Third lesson learned: God is among us.

Moment: I was the UCC’er (United Church of Christ) who experienced the most spiritual moment of my life when, at Hub’s and my one and only year of attending Lay Academy, our group was re-baptized under a sunny blue October sky in Wisconsin while singing the hymn “Here I am Lord”. The connectedness to the spirit and humanity in that place was palpable. Growing up, and as a young adult, I could not have imagined myself in this scenario.

Third lesson learned: You can survive the ultimate embarrassment of your mother doing this:

 

As a pimple faced, awkward 14 year old with a bad perm, ¬†I miraculously survived this epic¬†mortification. Even in spite of the knowledge that all of my high school classmates got to watch it when it aired¬†during the school day (it was a moment of civic pride for our small Minnesota town), I managed to keep my head held (somewhat) high. ¬† Thankfully I got to stay home with my family for a private viewing. I am ever so grateful my mother’s 15 minutes of fame happened in ye olden times before the advent of social media.

Fourth lesson learned: At the core of true friendship is kindness. 

Moment: I was the 13 year old girl who desperately wanted to follow her big sister’s footsteps and be a cheerleader (Go Agates! Yes, that was our sport teams’ name. You can only imagine how much crap we got for that). ¬†My best friend, Therese, was also trying out for cheerleading. When she was picked and I was not (mind you, I had the voice and enthusiasm but absolutely no other cheerleading skills such as doing the splits or a cartwheel, so this shouldn’t have come as a surprise), she offered to decline the position in order for me to snatch it and bask in the glory of the cheerleading life. I refused her offer. To this day, this may be the single most kind thing another human being has done for me. Did I mention that all of the girls trying out made the team but me? We had a small high school. Don’t judge.

Fifth lesson learned: Choose your friends wisely, and treasure them always.  And cancer sucks the big one.

I was the bride who had the good sense to appoint the best possible personal attendant in my dear friend Gail.  She arrived armed with necessities such as safety pins and kleenex. She was a skilled wedding dress hoister-upper while I peed and smoked a cigarette to calm my nerves in the bathroom at our wedding reception. She passed away from cancer 5 years ago and I think of her often and miss her so so much. Cancer is such a cruel fricking bastard. This is why I will support political candidates who believe in financially supporting medical research. I wish everyone could have a friend as special as Gail was to me.

How about you all? What moments in the timeline of your lives contributed to the life perspectives you have now?

 

 

And so it begins

Hubs and I will be leaving this week for a road trip to visit family and friends in our beloved states of Minnesota and Wisconsin. I may or may not have opportunities to do any blog posts while we are away, but I will get right back into it upon our return to our still new Colorado home.

I have quite a mixed bag of emotions heading into this adventure: excitement, anxiety, and guilt are at the top of the list. I’m excited about the opportunities so see all those people I love and miss so much. I’m excited about presenting my mother in law, sister in law, and a dear friend their birthday gifts (all are in the month of July). I’m excited to give my dad a box of his favorite treats when we visit him in his new home. I’m excited to spend time visiting our friends at our favorite watering holes, restaurants, and backyards. I’m beyond excited to see our eldest daughter and our grandson.

I’m anxious knowing that this will be the first time at my parent’s home with mom living there alone. ¬†It’s going to be so strange. I’m anxious about how my dad will react to our presence, as I’ve been made aware that he is farther into dementia than he was when I last saw him in April. I like to think he will know who Hubs and I are, but what if he doesn’t? I don’t know how to prepare emotionally for this possibility. I don’t want to cry in front of him because I think that will be confusing and upsetting for him.¬†I must for his sake keep it together.¬†Dementia is such a bastard.

The guilt will inevitably sneak it’s way into my brain too, I expect. Here I am, living the dream in wonderful, beautiful Colorado while my family is experiencing the hardship of my parents aging and the stress that comes with caregiving. I’m an unemployed (by choice for now anyway) housewife (domestic goddess?) with the time to pursue my love of creative writing via this blog and enjoy a decent social life. ¬†Currently my life is virtually stress-free, which is a new state of being for me. I worry that my family might think “Who does she think she is?”.

But go forth we will. Much time and energy has been spent by Hubs and I in the planning of this vacation. That fact ought to optimize the chance that things will go smoothly.

I will savor the good times, which I have faith will be plentiful. Like having chats with Hubs in the car about the past, the present, and what hopes we have for our future. Listening to Al Franken’s audio book “Giant of the Senate”. Listening to the plethora of channels on our Sirius XM. Sitting in motel hot tubs with a cold beer at the end of a long day in the car. Trying new restaurants. Sitting out on my parent’s front porch reminiscing about the good old times with mom and Hubs. Morning walks along the shores of Lake Superior. Taking the dumpling (our 3 year old grandson) out for ice cream and to the zoo. Splashing in the hotel pool with him and reading him the Sesame Street book I recently bought. Having a nice long, heart to heart chat with my beloved eldest daughter. ¬†Sitting out on my in laws deck, chatting the afternoon away sipping wine and smelling the barbeque my father in law is cooking on the grill. Having girl time with my sweet sister in law, laughing and shopping our way through Stillwater, Mn. Catching up with dear friends while sampling craft beers. Spending time at one of my very favorite places on earth: my sister’s home on the Baptism River. These simple things in life are what makes it worth living.

I am so fortunate to have all these people that I love so much and who love me back. I hope all of you, dear readers, are as blessed as I. Happy summer everyone!