Category Archives: Humor

Food, how I love Thee

 

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What you see above is a picture of a supper I made a couple of weeks ago. Hang with me here, and I’ll share the oh-so-simple recipe at the end of this post.

For lack of a better term, I am a die-hard “foodie”. I understand that one should not “live to eat”, but rather “eat to live”. Intellectually, I know that is the healthiest way to think about food. In spite of this, however, I lean towards the latter and not the former.

A few years back, I made a decision to adopt healthier eating habits. My weight had grown to an unacceptable level in my view and I believed it was time to make some serious changes in my daily diet.

So after reading a few dieting books, I decided to go low carb. It wasn’t as hard as I thought it would be. I found myself mostly missing bread and baked goods, but not much else. I kept a daily food diary, which I think was the best tool I could have employed for this endeavor. I ended up losing 23 lbs over the course of about 5-6 months. I felt great about myself. I got myself down one pants size. People noticed.

However…I slowly but surely started to slip back into my old ways, enjoying bread on a semi-regular basis and increasing my consumption of chocolate. About a month ago, I told myself that while I’d managed to gain approximately half of the weight I’d lost, I was not continuing to gain even more weight. I was not gaining but “maintaining”.

Oh, the things I tell myself to justify poor nutritional choices.

I will at some point, in the not so distant future, purchase myself a brand spanking new notebook in which I will document my daily food intake. After of course I  recover those tried and true low carb recipes I collected back in the day when I was uber motivated to shed the weight.

Hubs and I recently returned from our epic summer road trip to visit family in Minnesota and Wisconsin.  I made the conscious decision to wholeheartedly embrace the “live to eat” method. The “YOLO” diet, if you will. Justified by the fact that I was on vacation. 

My vacay diet consisted of the following: cheeseburgers and french fries. Ice cream treats. Potato chips. Lots of those. Candy. Cinnamon rolls. Cookies. Pancakes. Banana cream pie.  I basically ate like the 10 year old version of myself in the lazy days of summer. And I have no regrets. Though to be honest, I am a good 6 lbs. heavier now as a result of this “no holds barred” foodie fest.  I am verging on the precipice of having to purchase pants in a larger size at this point.

I refuse to purchase larger pants. Even if they are purchased for a pittance at my favorite thrift store. Even if they are far more comfortable and don’t leave red indentations in my mid-section after taking them off. Not. Gonna. Do. It.

Luckily, the recipe for the supper I photographed for your hungry eyes is indeed both low carb and highly delicious. Here it is:

4 chicken breasts

Store-bought pesto (or homemade, if you happen to grow your own basil as I do)

Chopped garlic

Fresh mushrooms

Fresh tomato

Shredded mozzarella

Brown Rice ( I highly recommend Success Rice. Easy-peasy, trust me)

Using a mallet (and some pent up anger), pound chicken breasts between a couple of pieces of parchment paper. Sprinkle the breasts with salt and pepper to your liking.

Heat up some olive oil in a large skillet, then add some chopped up garlic and fry that up a little. Then add the chicken breasts. If it doesn’t appear to be cooking quickly enough, throw in a bit of water and cover the pan for a bit.

In a separate pan, heat up some olive oil and add the mushrooms. Once those are cooked up nicely, add them to the skillet with the chicken in it. Once the chicken is almost done, slather some of that delicious pesto on top of the breasts. Heat that up a bit, then sprinkle as much mozzarella on as you like. Slice up a tomato and put it on top. Cover the pan and heat it up a little more.

I’m going to assume you knew to make the brown rice in between all these steps.

Then simply plop your rice onto plates, and place a chicken breast onto that and chow down.

Enjoy, folks!

Happiness is having something to look forward to

Thinking forward to an upcoming visit with our friends, couple #1, and their two young daughters recently prompted me to peruse the library at work. This library is chock full of donated books for the seniors we serve to take home and enjoy. There is no requirement that the books taken be returned, which I love. Included in this library is a shelf full of children’s books.

That is where I found this little gem, written by Minnesota native and creator of the iconic Peanuts cartoons Charles Schultz, in the year of my birth, 1967.

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The colors and graphics in this little book are quite gorgeous to my eye. But what most tripped my trigger was the words written in the pages. The sentiments. One especially.

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The message that “happiness is having something to look forward to” resonates with me. I believe that all of us, even on our worst days, if we pause to think about it, can imagine something on the horizon to personally look forward to. It doesn’t have to be anything major. In fact, the simpler the better. Because really, isn’t it the simple joys in life that make it enjoyable? Worth continuing?

Maybe it’s the fancy mocha-choca-latte you’re going to buy on your way to work today. Maybe it’s payday. Perhaps it’s the juicy burgers you’re going to grill tonight for supper. Or the book you can’t wait to read. Or the summer vacation you’ve got planned with your family or friends.

In the spirit of keeping things simple, let me share what I am currently looking forward to: visiting the Denver Zoo this weekend with our friends and their sweet, funny, smart little girls (one soon to be 6 and the other soon to be 3). Witnessing their reactions to the animals they see and interact with. Hearing their giggles. Capturing some sweet photos along the way.

How about you all? What are you looking forward to? Surely there’s something.

When I grow up

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I’ve gotten to know a lot of people since moving to Colorado with Hubs almost 2 years ago. I’m appreciative of this. I’m especially appreciative of the older women I have come to know, as they inspire me to strive for graceful, healthy aging. Like the women I volunteer with each week at the food bank. Or the women with whom we attend church.  And the women I work with along with the female senior citizens I serve in my job.

These women I’ve come to know don’t seem to let their age impede them in any significant way. They generally seem to take life in stride and their feathers are not easily ruffled. They have a strong sense of self  and understand they still have the ability to help and inspire others. Their ages do not define them, which I believe is how it should be. They embrace the lives they have and do not wallow in the physical or mental changes that aging has foisted upon them.

One 80 year old lady I know gives me the impression that who she is now is who she’s always been. She is open-minded, witty, and her fingers and toes are always immaculately manicured.  She once expressed a combination of confusion and frustration when a client referred to her as “cute”. She recognized this was an ageist statement and rightly took offense to it. I want to be like her when I grow up.

Another older woman I know is exceptionally loving and caring. She never had children, by choice, which makes her a rare bird in her generation. However, that doesn’t prevent her from looking out for people younger and less wise than she, as she has the ability to embrace and appreciate one and all. I want to be like her when I grow up.

Another female senior I know is a fun loving social butterfly.  She readily strikes up conversations with anyone and peppers them with “dear” or “dear-heart”. She is a snappy dresser and tells great stories about her life as a wife to a Vietnam vet and mother to her now grown children. She recently visited Disneyland with friends and their teenage granddaughter and shared stories about how she and the teen rode almost every single ride together in the park. What other almost 80 year old woman do you know who does that? I want to be like her when I grow up.

Another woman I’ve come to know here is savvy and smart. She takes no shit from anyone. You know where you stand with her. She is not a word-mincer, which is a quality I sort of envy. I want to be like her when I grow up.

Yet another lady I’ve gotten to know, at our church, is adventurous. She travels frequently with girlfriends she has had since she was in college in the 60’s. She is big-hearted and a great listener. She happily donates her time and money to causes she believes in, but she is never showy about it. One time at church, I asked for prayers for someone I love very much who was experiencing a lot of struggles in a personal relationship. This wonderful lady called me a couple of weeks later to check in and see if things had improved with my loved one. I also want to be like her when I grow up.

Then there are the two retired women, who I believe are sisters, who come into our food bank at work about every other week and donate several bags of just purchased food. They look over the shelves and ask me questions about the types of foods our seniors seem to especially enjoy, so they know what to buy at the grocery store the next time. They do this out of the sheer goodness of their hearts. I want to be like them too when I grow up.

I also have a food bank client with bright blue eyes that do not betray her age. This lovely lady once struck up a conversation with me about cooking, which is a common occurrence when running a food bank, and promised to one day bring me her recipe for pork green chili (a Colorado staple). Lo and behold, a couple of months later, she gifted me with her handwritten recipe for this tasty dish. I think I want to be like her when I grow up too.

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Not so sure about buying that lard, though!

The thing is, we are all aging. Day by day. There’s nothing besides death of course, that is going to stop this process. I think that we all have the ability to choose how we are going to age. Some older women are preoccupied by their health problems, or the health problems of others, and seem to be stuck in a never-ending loop of worrying what illness will strike next. This negatively impacts their relationships and their quality of life.

However, these dynamic, older, and wiser women of Colorado that I’ve been fortunate to come to know give me hope and inspiration for my future as a female senior citizen.

About my About Page

I’ve been thinking for a while now about my “About” page.  I notice that readers often peruse it when they’re checking out my blog. Now that I have been blogging for over a year (101 posts so far!), I realize that my “About” page no longer captures who I am as a blogger, at least to my satisfaction .

It needs some tweaking; perhaps a complete overhaul. 

My about Page in it’s current state:

Psych! My name is not actually Pollyanna. My name is Rhonda, and I’m so appreciative that you are taking the time to read this. My goal is to simultaneously amuse, inspire, and empower you with tales from my life as an optimist striving to become the most authentic  version of myself through creative writing.

Some topics I blog about are my devotion to music (from blues to 70’s and 80’s hits and artists, new adult alternative, singer/songwriters, past and present, motown, and classic rock and roll),  love (of food, people, and dogs),  relationships, religion and spirituality, and (at least once in awhile), and politics (warning: I unapologetically lean towards the left). I also very much enjoy highlighting people in the spotlight who are putting good out there in the world.

So that’s me in the smallest of nutshell I can muster. With a little luck, as Sir Paul sings,  I “can make this whole damn thing work out”.

Here is my critique of my “About” page, from my subjective perspective: 

Okay…starting with the first line. “Psych”?! Kind of dorky. It’s not really ground breaking to have a blog title that is not one’s actual given name. Maybe I need to explain why I call this blog “Pollyanna’s Path”. It’s not because I read the Pollyanna books as a child. It’s not because I wish my actual name was Pollyanna. It has  more to do with being an optimist, sometimes to the annoyance of others. A former co-worker often referred to me as “Pollyanna” presumably due to my tendency to walk with a slight bounce in my step and my generally cheery disposition. I like to think she called me that because she secretly wished she could be cheery like me.

Second line….expressing appreciation for those taking the time to read my blog. That is true; I do very much appreciate when anyone reads my blog. The point of having a blog (heck every blogger would agree, right?) is to get people to read it. And while this line objectively sounds a bit meek and mousy, it is sincere. I think I’ll keep it in.

Next line…my goals are to simultaneously amuse, inspire, and empower my readers through my creative writing. Lofty goals indeed. Too much perhaps. Too eager. Biting off more than I can chew. This line is going to need some work.

About that second paragraph: “some” of the topics I write about?! That’s a lot of topics! Some of which I have not been writing much if anything about at all these days, if I’m being honest.  I am all over the place with my writing, as anyone following my blog can plainly see. And why am I saying that I “unapolagetically lean towards the left”? It is true, but what purpose does it serve to share it on my about page? I’m not sure. Perhaps when I came up with that line, I was subconsciously trying to protect myself from some random reader who might feel deceived while reading one of my political posts and get all hateful on me. Anyway, it’s clear that particular line will cease to exist on my about page.

Next line…I enjoy highlighting people in the spotlight who are putting good out there in the world. I continue to concur with this sentiment, but it ought to be re-worded. And “people in the spotlight”? That part may need to go. If I’m “highlighting” someone who I feel is Bad Ass, awesome, and worthy of attention, it shouldn’t, exclusively anyway, be someone who is actually already smack dab in the spotlight. Because everyone else is writing about them too. And many of those writers are expressing exactly what I think or feel about the person being “highlighted”. I think it’s more interesting to “highlight” people who are not already trending, with their images plastered everywhere for all to see day in and day out.

Final two lines: First one is right on, as I have a tendency to be verbose and I did feel a sense of pride for summing up what I’m “about” as a blogger in the space of 3 short paragraphs. I added the “Sir Paul” line in an effort to be clever and to emphasize the influence of music on me as a writer. I just may keep that in.

So, I’ve got some work to do around here. Stay tuned…..

 

The Joys of Motherhood

Motherhood is such a trip. It is adventurous, scary, and fraught with unforeseen obstacles. It is not for sissies, as they say. Motherhood is also very wonderful. My life is much fuller because I chose to be a mom. My heart grew exponentially the day I became a mom-June 1, 1992.

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In honor of Mother’s Day this year, I’d like to share with you a random though by no means comprehensive list of the joys of motherhood, according to me.

  • Cuddling my babies. Stroking their rose-petal soft skin and kissing their chubby little feet. Rocking them to sleep was the best.
  • Being present during their “firsts”. It never failed to be  awe-inspiring to witness my children, these little tiny humans that me and Hubs created and I housed inside of me for 9 months, reach milestones like their first words, first steps, or the first time riding their bikes without training wheels.
  • Enjoying the free, spontaneous entertainment our kids provided us. Like when they would raid my underwear drawer as toddlers and prance around with my bloomers on top of their heads and my bras over their pajamas.
  • Pancakes: if I did not have my kids, I would hard pressed to justify making a batch of pancakes (12-14 according to the Bisquick box from what I recall). We enjoyed ourselves a lot of pancakes when they were growing up.
  • Planning and executing great celebrations: whether it be  birthdays, graduations, or a wedding-I took great enjoyment in planning them in a way that honored them and lifted them up. Seeing my kids happy was always worth it, whatever amount of stress it entailed.
  • Companionship. Having kids meant I always had company. I love how my relationships with them have morphed into something new and special now that they are all grown up. I’ve never related to those mother/child relationships where either party proclaims the other is their “best friend”. I am their mother, which to me is a higher honor than “best friend”. Yet, now that they are both grown, I find that I appreciate and enjoy their company on a different level. I’m no longer there to ride them about doing their homework, cleaning up their rooms, or using the bathroom before we get in the car. That sense of responsibility for them is gone. Which makes room for more meaningful conversations and new experiences to enjoy together.
  • Being a part of the journey into their own motherhood. Our oldest daughter was never so beautiful as she was after giving birth to our beautiful grandson. Seeing her with no makeup and messy, sweaty hair with the biggest smile courtesy of her having just fallen in love with this precious boy was a sight to behold for me as a mom and a new grandma. Such a very special moment that will be forever etched in my memory.

Suffice it to say that I can’t imagine not being a mother. My kids mean the world to me. Tell me, fellow moms, what have you found to be the most joyful aspects of motherhood?

Happy Mother’s Day!

I Feel Pretty?

There’s a movie out now with this title. It stars Amy Schumer and I fully intend to see it. I’ve read about it and understand it to be a story of a woman, played by Schumer, who has a clutzy accident in spin class which causes her to hit her head, which leads to a TBI that makes her  believe that she is the prettiest woman on earth. This turn of events leads her to operate on the day to day with a newfound sense of confidence, and hilarity no doubt ensues.

While I am certain, as a fan of Amy Schumer and her sharp wit, I will thoroughly enjoy this movie, I’m not sure that I’ll be able to relate to it on a personal level.

I think it’s because I am not caught up with the notion of being “pretty”. At least not now anyway, being a somewhat fledged grown woman of 51. I’ve made peace with how I look. I don’t have illusions that I am some great beauty (which is perfectly fine by me), but I have confidence in my ability to make the most of my features with make up. And I know how to dress myself in a flattering way. It’s pretty simple, really.

I prefer the notion of feeling funny (though “I Feel Funny” is not the best title for a film-but perhaps a new pharmaceutical commercial for vertigo), because I fancy myself as a humorist. However, what I would really prefer, instead of feeling “pretty” or “funny” is to feel smart.

True confession: I’ve struggled all my life with the feeling that I am not smart. I’m the one who doesn’t get the punch line while everyone else is laughing their asses off. I’m the one that needs to try, try, try when learning something new before it clicks. I’m the one who was an average student, grade-wise, throughout my education (with the exception of my senior year in college when I earned almost exclusively A’s and B’s). Up until I hit about 48, 9 times out of 10 in social situations, I believed that I was the least smart person in the room, reminiscent of those times in middle school where I was always the second or third to last to be picked for whatever team sport was being played.

But I digress.

One of the gifts of aging, for me, is that I feel smarter than I did, say 10 years ago. Experience does that to a person. Trial and error. Figuring out what works for you and what just simply doesn’t, and what your learning style is comes with age. Not taking yourself so seriously. All of these things are the silver linings to getting older.

In my take on this movie genre, entitled “I Feel Smart”, obviously written in collaboration with Amy Poehler and Tina Fey, I would successfully put together IKEA furniture by myself, present TED talks on how to harness female intuition for the betterment of society, and use my Kohl’s cash and coupons to save 150% on my shopping sprees. I would breeze through my days offering useful advice to those I come in contact with and I would be asked to become a partner in a think tank (I’ve always been curious about those-I assume it’s a bunch of high tech smarty pants people hanging out in a state of the art, pristine facility collaborating all day to solve society’s problems. So if I’m feeling so smart, I ought to fit in just fine there).

That would give me a much larger helping of confidence than believing I am the prettiest (or funniest) woman on earth.

So, Amy and Tina….you in?

Loving ’em while they are still here

I know a parent who often told her adult children, in reference to the parental relationship, to “Love us while we are still here”. Now, this may be a phrase that this particular parent uses to elicit feelings of guilt in her children, but no matter.

After the untimely death of Tom Petty not to mention Prince, David Bowie, and Glenn Frey,  I see that this phrase has an alternate meaning for me. As in, I want to enjoy the great musical artists that are still among the living. As in, let’s hear it for those senior citizens who are still rocking.

To celebrate our 28th wedding anniversary next month, Hubs and I will be attending a James Taylor and Bonnie Raitt concert at Fiddler’s Green in Denver. I’ve created a playlist of my favorite tunes from both of these artists to enjoy in the meantime.

Funny thing about James Taylor, for me, is that while I was certainly familiar with tunes such as “Fire and Rain” and “You’ve Got a Friend”, from my growing up years, I didn’t fully appreciate his music until I dated the biggest jerk in the world (for clarification, this is not Hubs) back when I was in college. In spite of his squirrely demeanor, unreliability, and general lack of couth, this dude had great taste in music. He introduced me to JT’s songs “Mexico”, “Sweet Baby James”, and “Walking Man”. Fortunately, I no longer picture his stupid face when I listen to the music of James Taylor, as these songs have been featured on my playlists for so many years now. Time is indeed a wonderful thing.

I endeavored to switch off between these two artists with my playlist, though towards the end it ended up leaning more heavily in JT’s favor. While there are a total of 21 songs on this playlist, I won’t bore you with anecdotes about each and every one of them. Just the ones that I am most looking forward to hearing them perform live.

  • James’ “Your Smiling Face”. This is one of those songs that has an opening that you remember. It’s an upbeat and endearing tune. I always like how the first line gets right to the point of the song, don’t you?
  • Bonnie’s “Something to Talk About”. Such a fun, flirty ditty. Love the story and the bluesiness of this tune. This woman is in a league of her own when it comes to quality blues music.
  • James’ “Fire and Rain”. Great metaphor for life. Bittersweet in that he “always thought I’d see you again”.
  • Bonnie’s “Thing Called Love”. She ain’t no queen of Sheba. And we ain’t no amoebas.
  • James’ “You’ve Got a Friend”. Originally written by the one and only Carole King, another one of my favorites. A special, sweet, simple song that everyone knows. Hard to beat that.
  • Bonnie’s “I Can’t Make You Love Me”. Heart-wrenching, raw, tender, personal. I seem to recall a time or two back before I met Hubs of course when circumstances existed to make this song very relatable to me.
  • James’ “Up on the Roof”. Beautiful lyrics and piano music. It evokes that feeling one has upon arriving home after a long, hectic day at work where you just emit an “Ahhh”, take your bra off, and sit down with your favorite adult beverage. Except I’m too scared of heights to actually go up on the roof for real. Unless Hubs was up there with his ukulele. I’d have to make an exception for that.
  • Bonnie’s “Love Sneaking Up on You”. Such a fun, sexy song. One of the best lines: “Do you light up at the mention of my name?”
  • James’ “Something in the Way She Moves”. Wowser, what a love song! It’s on par with Billy Joel’s “Always a Woman to Me”. Soooo romantic.
  • Bonnie’s “Right Down the Line”. Gerry Rafferty wrote and originally performed this song. I love how Bonnie put her own, slightly reggae twist on this version. It’s a slinky, sultry, cool ass song. Like so many of her songs.
  • James’ “Mexico”. I love the tropical, laid back feel of this song and the pretty guitar opening.  I hope some day Hubs will say “Oh, Mexico, sounds so simple I’ve just got to go” with passion. Because he’s never been. I have, but likely would enjoy it much more as a grown adult woman with my Hubs than I did as a 7 year old searching for a pinatas and ponchos with my family.
  • James’ “How Sweet it is (to be loved by you)”. What a positively positive song, right? I just want to stop and thank you, sweet baby James, for this special song.
  • Bonnie’s “I Will Not Be Broken”. This song really speaks to me. I mentioned in a recent post that I had discovered a new self help book, “Soul Song Playlist”. Let’s just say this song is at the top of my soul song playlist.
  • James’ “Shower the People”. I ADORE this song. It should be everyone’s mantra because it would make the world a much happier place: “Shower the People you love with love, show them the way that you feel, things are going to be much better if you only will”. Truer words may never have been written in a song.
  • James’ “Steamroller”: This is the song that made me realize how much I love the blues. And to see it performed live would be simply amazing.