As a melophile, I am an enthusiastic believer in the power of music. It can reach into your soul and capture it, if only for a moment. It can speak to you in a way you can’t put into words. It can set the tone for your day and it can comfort you when the day is done.
Some music has the ability to improve your attitude. Give you a little boost of energy. A little pep in your step. Compel you to do a little jig in your kitchen. Put a smile on your face and leave you humming it’s tune for the rest of the day.
That is what my “Good Vibes” playlist, which I created for myself on Spotify, does for me. When I put it together, I decided to simply go right off the top of my head, thinking of the songs that tickled me and finding them via the search option on Spotify. I told myself to not overthink this playlist, not to judge my choices, especially since it could easily be edited at a later time.
Do you all have something akin to a “Good Vibes” playlist to turn to when you need a pick-me-up? If you do, please do this gal a favor and share what’s on yours. If you don’t have one, I highly recommend you invest a bit of time to create one for yourself. You’ll thank me later.
I would be remiss if I didn’t share what’s on my personal “Good Vibes” playlist. I won’t give you the full list, because that would take away from the time I’d rather you spend making your own custom playlist.
Blogger Troy Headrick’s recent query, asking others to define what the “good” life is, really got me thinking.
Instead of responding in the comments section of his post, I’ve decided to write about it here on my blog.
If asked this question while I was growing up in middle class northern Minnesota in the 70’s and 80’s, my answer would have been something like this: the “good” life means you have oodles of money at your disposal. It means others envy you, as you sip champagne on your yacht with a perfectly coiffed poodle on your lap. The “good” life means you have connections to powerful people and you live in a luxurious home. Actually, if you’re living the “good” life you have several luxurious homes in multiple locales. You enjoy a globe-trotting existence with not a care in the world. You are unencumbered by any responsibilities.
In other words, the good life was unattainable. A mere fantasy. And, truth be told, pretty damn shallow.
Later in my life, probably somewhere in my 30’s, my definition of the “good” life became sharper, more defined, more personal. I witnessed my parents, after many years of hard work, building a business together even, retire. They were young-ish at the time. Bonnie would have been right about 60, Babe 67-ish. They had the good fortune of living as middle aged adults during a time where the economy was prosperous. They were healthy and possessed strong work ethics and managed their money exceedingly well.
Their retired life consisted of traveling to Europe, purchasing a cabin on a lake, along with a fifth-wheel trailer which they took down to Gulf Shores, Alabama for several months of the year for probably a dozen years or so. They had so much fun. They most certainly were living the “good” life.
Now that I’m in my 50’s and the kids are grown and largely self-sufficient, the “good” life that I envision for me and Hubs is starting to feel within our grasp.
Here’s what it looks like: a nomad-like existence for a year. Selling our town home and hitting the road. Spending time in all 50 states in our camper. As long as there’s wi-fi, as Hubs says, “I can work anywhere”. Without a mortgage to pay, we can surely manage on his salary alone. Then I would be free to explore. Free to express myself creatively. Free to give of my time, energy, and skills to volunteer somewhere.
After that year has concluded, we would travel in Europe for a month or so, then purchase a new home in Colorado. Preferably a solid, well maintained, 50’s era ranch home that needs a little TLC. Make it ours. Maybe I’d find a part time job in another non-profit that could benefit from my years of experience. Or maybe I’d choose to volunteer at a couple different non-profits instead.
If we continue to be smart with our finances, down the road we could buy a plot of land on a small lake with good fishing opportunities. Build our own cabin, complete with a dock, fire pit, and a large deck that overlooks the water. Friends and family would visit on the regular. We’d have a large garden and we’d host lively holiday gatherings. Now, that would be my definition of the final chapter of the “good” life. Fulfilling experiences, eye-opening adventures, and lots of meaningful connections with others.
How about you all? What, specifically, does the term living the “good” life mean for you?
This past year, I found myself in a place where, for the first time in my life, I believe I understood what depression feels like. I put full blame for this on the Covid-19 pandemic. It really threw a wrench in my moods and my attitude.
I think it showed in some of my blog posts. Sorry about that.
Sure, I started a new job back in August and that lifted my spirits, infused me with some energy and ambition. But the days became the same it seemed. While for the most part, I liked (and still do like) having a daily routine, I often felt bored. Uninspired. Unmotivated. My interest in things I historically enjoyed doing waxed and waned.
I believe one reason behind this is that I didn’t have anything to really look forward to. No concrete plans. No fun activities on the immediate horizon. Unlike a post I penned back in 2018.
You can all relate, right?
What helped, especially on those particularly “blah” days, was saying out loud what I am glad about. Sort of like the “Glad Game” I’ve heard about from the “Pollyanna” movie which I have not yet seen (what is wrong with me???!!)
Typically I would spout this out while driving our truck to work. Naturally, doing this was harder some days than others. But once I did it, my spirits lifted. My attitude shifted to one of gratitude. I recognize that sounds cheesy-but it’s the truth, Ruth.
Let me give you an example. As I started backing out of the garage one morning, I said “today I am glad that after work I’m getting a massage. And I had a good night’s sleep last night. And I started a new blog post”. It’s all just simple things, specific to that day. Focusing on what is truly good in the moment and not wishing things were different or thinking that they ought to be.
But now things are really starting to look up for me. For you, too, I think. We’ve got a new administration in the People’s House who is taking this pandemic head-on. Covid-19 cases are starting to plummet. More and more of us are getting vaccinated (for me, as an essential worker, I ought to be getting my first dose by mid-March).
I may be jinxing it, getting ahead of myself…but I think it’s *safe* to begin to think about what there is to look forward to in the near-ish future. You know, those things we couldn’t do because the pandemic kept us home for the most part.
What’s on your list?
A date with Hubs, the scientist who has been far more informed and conscientious re: Covid-19 than most, to shop at Trader Joe’s in Boulder and have lunch at the nearby Panera.
Visiting our favorite local brew pub, Twenty Brew, which I am thankful is still in business. It’s been too long since we’ve been there to try new brews and visit with the owner, Dave, and his charming bartenders.
Chatting in person with our church friends at church. Hosting “coffee hour” where I get to share sweet goodies I made in the little kitchen in our townhome the day before.
A day trip to Estes Park. Hiking. Taking in the astonishingly beautiful scenery, both on the drive up and while hiking amidst it’s majesty.
Now I know that realistically some of these things will not happen anytime soon. If I’m extraordinarily fortunate, they will all take place before the end of the summer. But if only a portion of them happen, it’s all good.
If this pandemic has taught me anything, it’s to appreciate what is and to keep my expectations reasonable.
What or who is helping you get through this pandemic? What or who is giving you comfort, helping you to remain hopeful, giving you purpose?
I am fortunate in that I have several answers to that question. One of them being my sweet boy, Radar.
It occurred to me recently that within this blog I had been sharing more anecdotes about Karl, our kiddo Rabbie’s sassy cat than I was about Radar. It also occurred to me that for many of us, our pets are the unsung heroes of this strange time.
They are always there for us. Always happy to see us. They don’t judge us for being in a cranky mood. They don’t judge us at all. They don’t ask much of us beyond loving them, ensuring they get outside for fresh air and potty breaks, and feeding them.
I wrote this post back in the summer of 2019, right after we adopted Radar. I loved him then but, amazingly enough, I love him even more now.
I love that he’s such a good boy at night. He fits perfectly into the rocking chair Hubs gave me for my 40th birthday, which now sits in the corner of our bedroom. He sleeps there all night long and when he gets up he offers a big yawn, revealing his extraordinarily long tongue and then he thoroughly stretches out his legs.
I love that when I come home after work, he is the first one to greet me. I only just begin to open the door, and there he is with his nose butting up between the door and the door frame in an effort to get to me as fast as he can.
I love how sometimes when he’s cuddled up with me on the couch at night, I can say his name and he cranks his neck to look at me upside down with his pretty brown eyes.
I love knowing that he is by nature a guard dog (at least half German Shepherd we believe). He would protect us if our house were to be broken into. Any intruders would not have a chance.
I love his puppy playfulness. Hubs and I have never had a dog who loves to play with toys so much. Hubs always told me he wanted to have a dog he could take out into a field and throw around a frisbee with. Radar has gotten some solid training for this through jumping up to catch his favorite, super tough green and blue bone in mid-air at home in the early evenings.
I love Radar’s ears. Sometimes I find them folded back (or I gently fold them back) and I see that sweet black lab in his precious face. Then they will bounce straight back up, revealing his German Shepherd resemblance.
I also love that he’s the kind of dog that everyone loves. Every place we’ve ever taken him he charms all who he meets.
This dog has been such a blessing for me. He reminds me of the importance of playfulness in my day to day routine. He makes me feel appreciated. He comforts me if I’m feeling down. He has increased my general happiness, which has been a huge bonus during this upside down time we are still living in.
He’s my furry, loyal, funny, sweet, smart and loving hero.
I’ve been accused of being honest “to a fault” by various people throughout my life.
Anyone else out there that has experienced this accusation?
Not the “I’m just being honest” type of honest, mind you. You know, that passive aggressive way in which a person tells you that your new haircut makes you look like Joe Dirt.
For me, it’s more of a not-always-thinking-before-I-speak or my facial expression after a comment you just made gave me away. Because I’m just a terrible liar. Lying doesn’t suit me. I can’t do it to save my life.
What’s nice for me, within this little blog, is that it is a space for me to honestly express what I’m thinking and how I’m feeling. In a controlled sort of way, because after all, I am editor-in-chief and in charge of pressing the “publish” button in these parts.
So let me be honest with you all.
I’m honestly happy with my life right now. And I honestly believe that could change at any second. Because, well, life.
So I’m soaking up the goodness.
I started a new job over two weeks ago now. The reason I was hired is because I have experience running a food pantry and the lovely lady who hired me wants to get one up and running in her non-profit.
I honestly love working there. I love that I have autonomy. I love knowing that I am listened to and supported. I love working with people who work hard. I love that there’s a variety of tasks to do each day and that not every day is a carbon copy of the day before.
I also honestly do not want to jinx it. I want to continue working hard and be honest with myself and my boss and co-workers when I’m struggling. I want to be honest in all my communications with everyone involved. I honestly want to succeed.
That’s honestly all I want to say about my current employment right now. And it’s all I honestly needed to say.
The other subject I want to be honest about is my creative writing via this blog. I sincerely love doing this. I have no illusions (perhaps hope though) that I’m going to hit the “big time” some day as a writer.
Honestly, I’m in this blogging thing for fun. To make friends. To brighten someone’s day at least once in a while. To get things off my chest. To connect. To socialize. To learn. To grow. To improve.
An appetizer in list form of what I honestly want to do and/or write about once I’ve finished my “Alphabet Soup Challenge” follows.
Write a letter to someone I admire. Embrace the fandom. Writing about it later may or may not happen. That’s not the point.
Capture in writing a conversation about the state of the world in this moment with the Millenials in my life. That would be my previously-known-as-spawn aka Kid #2 and Kid#1. Now outed as Rabbie and (just for now) the Eldest.
Interview my 6 year old grandson about life as he knows it.
Continue writing posts about all the “Gems”.
So fellow bloggers-what are the specific topics you honestly want to write about in the near future?
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.
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.
“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.
“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”.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
They touched noses. Two nights in a row. And I have yet to witness it. Hubs said it is a lightening fast interaction that intimates a handshake.
They have of late been engaging in rowdy chasing shenanigans. It’s not clear who is leading this activity nor does it matter. It’s not for us mere mortals to understand.
They are simultaneously interested in each other and the humans they live with. But there’s an underlying fact: they are in competition with each other.
They both know they are very cute. They both have pretty eyes. That is their secret weapon. They are aware that we believe they are both very cute with pretty eyes. And they use that to their advantage, because at the end of most days, they get a special moment to enjoy treats together on the kitchen floor.
Hubs perspective: he has trained Radar very well. Specifically to “leave it” when eyeing a smaller creature, such as a squirrel or a bunny. Radar’s response is a comprehensive lick of the chops.
They like to eat together. Radar waits patiently next to his bowl of food each morning for Karl to come downstairs. He won’t start eating until his friend is present.
In the evenings, they eat together and when one of them is finished, always leaving a little bit in the bowl, the other saunters over to finish. Neither gets pissy with the other-no possessiveness to speak of. It is beyond cute.
Some of us in this house are of the opinion that there will come a time, sooner rather than later, when these two will be cuddling up and grooming each other. I’m cautiously optimistic about that.
While Hubs were on our Great American Road Trip (3,300 miles over 2 weeks), kiddo said Karl missed us. He didn’t eat for the first 24 hours after we left and when we came home he expressed his disgust with our temporary abandonment by sneaking into the shower and peeing all over the shower curtain. Cats are so weird.
Radar spent the better part of the 72 hours of our time at my sister and her husband’s place in far northern Minnesota bonding with his new best friend, Sis’s dog Dingo (a rescue pup just like Radar).
Here they are (bear in mind this is the first time I’ve uploaded video onto YouTube and embedded it in a blog post. I’m learning!)
Hubs and I are on one right now. A great American summer road trip, complete with camper and dog. Traveling Northeast to visit family, biological and otherwise, in both Wisconsin and Minnesota.
I am so grateful to be doing this. After missing out on our Florida vacation back in March due to the Covid-19 pandemic and starting a brand new project at work, I really needed a distraction from reality.
And I’m so relaxed. Like itdoesntmatterifwedonthavesuppertill8pm and noalarmsareset relaxed. Like any vacation ought to be.
We set out on our journey on the 4th. Getting onto the entrance of I-25, Hubs turned on the “Road Trip Radio” channel on Sirius XM. At the beginning of “Saturday in the Park” by Chicago (first band we saw live as a couple back in the spring of 1989).
We smiled at each other, taking it as a good omen.
Radar is still a puppy. He panted, tongue hanging out of his mouth, while scurrying from window to window in the backseat. If I only had a dollar for each time we had to gently push him to the backseat. Dude doesn’t want to miss anything. He did settle after a bit, for intermittent spurts of time. The best thing is he didn’t puke. He’s been known to do that on the shorter car rides he’s taken thus far in his life.
Upon arriving to our first KOA in Rapid City, South Dakota and cracking open a semi cold beer (the camper fridge wasn’t fully chilled yet), I mused that I had little recollection of the last few 4th of July’s. I suppose that’s not unusual for older couples like us, ones who are done raising kids.
I added that it seemed this particular 4th of July was going to be a memorable one.
After having a very simple supper and walking around a bit (95 degrees in the shade is why I say a bit) with Radar, we got back in the camper and turned on the t.v. Something I really dig when Hubs and I are on vacation is watching t.v. Now don’t get me wrong; we don’t become total couch potatoes during our vacations. But it’s special in a weird way: we don’t have Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Hulu in our camper (or in a motel when we stay there), like we do at home. We don’t have our “go to’s” or shows we dvr’d. We are at the mercy of whatever channels are available at the campground we are staying at.
That means we watch completely different things than we do at home. And we have fun with it. On the 4th, after clicking through the 8 (?) channels available, we came upon a channel featuring the 60th birthday celebration of a true American icon-Willie Nelson. It was taped probably 25 years ago and to my delight, featured interviews and performances of other icons that where there to celebrate Willie. Ray Charles. B.B. King. Johnny Cash. All no longer with us.
One of my favorite parts was hearing B.B. King talking about how much he loved Willie. Like a true fan. He said that “Always on my Mind” was his very favorite song. B.B. and Bonnie Raitt later jammed together, singing a blues tune I don’t think I ever heard before. It was spectacular. If you can find this show out there on whatever platform you have, I urge you to watch it. Assuming you love music. But, who doesn’t?
The cherry on the top of this 4th of July was the fireworks. I had zero expectations, beyond the anxiety I believed Radar was going to express about them. And we were at a campground, a place we have never been on the 4th of July. Didn’t even know or take the time to find out if they were happening there or if we would see them from wherever they might be shooting them off.
But around 9 something p.m. we started hearing them. Fortunately, Radar was tuckered out from all the excitement and we had the sound of the a/c buffering it. So I went outside to check it out. Wow!! They were lighting up the sky in all directions. People were milling about in small groups, no one too close to each other, looking up at the sheer beauty of the colors and patterns popping up in the sky. I slowly moved in a circle, cell phone in hand, anticipating where the next brilliant display was coming from, attempting to capture it. It was magical and made me feel hopeful for the future.
Next Tuesday will be our 30th wedding anniversary.
Obviously, with the Covid-19 pandemic and recently rolled out “Safer at Home” orders, Hubs and I will not be getting out of dodge to celebrate, like we typically do. I’m guessing the most I can count on is an invigorating hike and a picnic. Which is fine by me.
It’s fine by me because our marriage is bigger than that.
Our pairing began as a summer fling. Hubs seduced me one night by giving me what was the only foot rub I ever had the pleasure of enjoying. I was 21 and he was 18. I was taking summer courses at college to ensure I would graduate in 4 years. I was bored and starting to come to terms with the notion that I may not find someone to marry in college after all.
The truth is, I entered my freshman year of college as a romantic. While I was determined to obtain my degree in that 4 years, I was equally determined to meet my future husband during that time.
I was such a silly girl back then.
The romantic relationships I had up until that point were lopsided. Either I was more into him or he was more into me. It never felt equal.
But with the Hubs, it was different. Our conversations flowed. He made me laugh. He made me feel good about myself. He encouraged me in my studies. He was thoughtful and mature beyond his years (I actually thought he was at least a couple of years older the first couple of times I met him because of this).
Over the course of that summer, we fell in love.
Hubs proposed to me in the basement of my sorority house one evening. It was November and starting to get chilly out. He presented me with a new pair of gloves and requested, with a big grin on his dimpled face, that I try them on. Inside the left glove there was an engagement ring.
I did not hesitate for a second, responding with a resounding “Yes!”.
I graduated with my BS in Social Work that spring. Hubs and I moved into our first apartment in the summer, where we slept on a mattress donated by his parents, sans boxspring and frame. I spent the next year working in a customer service job while he continued working and going to school. During this year, my mom and I planned our wedding.
We got married in the church I grew up in one year to the day after I graduated from college. It was Pastor Reppe’s last wedding before he retired.
Years later, while milling about with friends and family at that same church following my Godfather’s funeral, Hubs found himself in a conversation with Pastor Reppe. The good pastor had of course been retired for a number of years by then and he asked Hubs how the two of us were faring. Hubs gave him a solemn look and said “We actually didn’t make it. Haven’t been married to that woman for a few years now”. Hubs recounted that the look of shock and sadness on Pastor Reppe’s face was priceless. Then Hubs let out his hearty, loud laugh and told him he was teasing; we actually were still together. Still happy and busy working full time and parenting our two kids.
Now, as with any long term marriage, we’ve gone through a lot together. Raised our two kids, adopted a few dogs, moved 6 times, laid both of my parents to rest, enjoyed a few epic vacations (with and without kids), changed jobs, mourned the loss of friends and family members, became grandparents, and much more. Good and bad. Happy and sad.
I wouldn’t change a damn thing. And I’m eager to see what the next 30 years might bring.
With Mother’s Day approaching (wait..I know it’s next month…let me check) on Sunday, May 10th, and some time on my hands to ponder things, I’ve decided to do some writing about motherhood.
Now, there are so many ways I can approach this topic. I’ve got 27 years of mothering experience under my belt to draw from. As a mom to 2 very different, sometimes challenging, always determined and quite lovable kids to being mothered by Bonnie, to sharing in the joys and concerns of motherhood with the other mothers I’ve known and loved, I’ve got some stories.
Suffice it to say, “Motherhood” is a huge topic for me.
Today, however, I’m going to rely on my basic mantronym of “Keep It Simple Sister” and tell you a recent story about the kiddo that is currently residing with me and Hubs.
Consider this a #proudmommoment, if you will.
So the 26 year old who lives in my house came home from their part time job at the local discount store a couple of weeks ago and relayed the following: They were at their cashier stand ringing customers up when the cops came in response to a call from the kiddo’s supervisor. The call was made due to the behavior of a disheveled, confused and presumably homeless man. He had been wandering around the store, opening up and consuming snacks. Kiddo found the stern tone the officers were using with this man concerning. They were certain the officers were gearing up to arrest him.
The disheveled man made it to my kiddo’s station where they confessed they had no money to purchase the items in their cart. Kiddo felt sorry for the man and believed he didn’t belong in jail. They decided in that moment to pay for the man’s items. The cops relented and the man was able to obtain all the items he had in his cart. Kiddo was told by their supervisor that if this situation happened again, they would be fired. Despite this, I am proud of the kiddo. They did the right thing.
Had I been in their situation I can’t say I would have responded in the same manner. I am not a rule breaker by nature. I like to think I would have at least advocated for the man, pleaded with the officers to be lenient with him. To cut him a break, show him some compassion.
That same day, kiddo brought this home to us, along with a Thank You card for housing and supporting them until they are in a position to get their own pad.
This kiddo is alright.
What happy stories might you have as mothers (or fathers, I am an equal opportunity blogger after all) that made you proud of your kids? Please share in the comments!