Category Archives: Inspiration

Alphabet Soup Challenge: R is for Reading

My reading choices are varied. I devour anything from articles in Esquire magazine (there are some great articles in there on the regular) to self help books (How to Be a Bad Ass by Jen Sincero is an all time favorite) to comedic memoirs/essays by authors like Chelsea Handler, David Sedaris, Sarah Silverman, Amy Schumer, and more, to fiction (family sagas like “The Nest” and psychological thrillers are my “go tos”).

I read to reduce stress. I read to learn something new. I read to escape. I read to laugh. I read to find connection. I read to obtain wisdom so I can improve myself.

Why do you read?

Currently, I’m working through “Untamed” by Glennon Doyle. While waiting for a response to my online request to borrow “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings” by Maya Angelou from my local library, I thought I’d read something “self-helpy”.

Now, I haven’t finished “Untamed” yet, but there are numerous pearls of wisdom within these pages. This is a book that gets more interesting and thought provoking with each new chapter. Glennon shares stories about failure, pain, and triumph. Stories about love, bravery, and “Knowing”. I’m very intrigued by it. It’s speaking to me in a multitude of ways.

I must finish this book soon so I can get on with it and finally read Ms. Angelou’s masterpiece (from what I know of her and what others have said, I think calling it a “masterpiece” is a fair assumption).

While on our two week “Great American Road Trip” last month, I read a couple of great books.

The first was “Woman in the Window” by AJ Finn. It’s a psychological thriller told through the lens of a female child psychotherapist who’s agoraphobia was caused by deep psychological trauma. She witnesses violence through her window at the house across from her one night and struggles to make sense of it through her alcoholic haze. Seemingly, no one believes what she saw was real. The story was heartbreaking and unpredictable. I appreciated the surprising but creepy twist at the end. It was shocking to learn “Whodunit”.

The movie version of this book has been finished and was recently acquired by Netflix, so hopefully we can all see it before too long. Some of my favorite actresses-Amy Adams, Julianne Moore, and Jennifer Jason-Leigh star in it.

During the first leg of our vacation, spending time with Hubs’ folks and sister, MIL gave me a copy of “The Silent Patient” by Alex Michaelides, which she raved about. Since I had but a mere 50 or so pages left of “The Woman in the Window”, I decided it’d be a good idea to start reading it since we had “only” 2,000 miles left of road to cover and 10 days before we got back home.

I could hardly put it down. It was in a similar vein as “The Woman in the Window”, in that it was a murder mystery/psychological thriller. Total escapism. And the surprises were mind-blowing, like “I didn’t see it coming till the very end” kind of mind-blowing. It took me some time to process that ending.

The story is told through the lens of both Theo and Anna. Theo is the psychoanalyst who works with Anna, who is a completely silent patient in a mental institution. Anna, a prolific artist, was placed there after being charged and convicted (all the while not speaking a word) for her husband’s violent murder. Both Theo and Anna are psychologically complicated people who come from troubled childhoods. Theo’s goal, at the outset, is to get through to Anna. Unlock the key to why she did what she did. And that he does. The twist and turns to how he gets there are nothing less than shocking. It was even more of a page turner than “The Woman in the Window”, if I’m being honest.

I of course had to google whether or not this book was going to be made into a movie and found out it indeed is. Brad Pitt’s production company has acquired the rights. I have ideas in my head about who plays what characters already. Hopefully it’ll show up on one of our video streaming services before long, since re-opening movie theaters appears unlikely to happen anytime soon.

Please share your comments on these books if you have read them and/or share your “must read now” book titles.

Read With Me: 5 Tips to Foster a Love for Reading | Edutopia

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.

Real Neat

I’m going to veer off-topic here. Not like I’ve ever committed to one topic anyway on this blog of mine.

But I did warn you when I began my “Alphabet Soup Challenge” that I may choose to write a post that is aside from that endeavor.

The humorous blogger Mona, over at Wayward Sparkles nominated me for the “Real Neat” blog award.

award

Thank you, Mona!

Isn’t that nice of her? She’s a very cool chick who has a lot to say, about well..a lot. She does so in a quirky, heartfelt sorta way. And she’s super into music, like me. So of course we’ve become blogging pals.

As a nominee, I have been directed to answer the following questions:

  1. Which five places would you like to visit and why?
  2. What food will you not eat and why?
  3. What super power would you like to have and why? (Anything goes!)
  4. What was your childhood dream job/career?
  5. What current actor do you think would make a great Elvis Presley in a movie about his life? Rhonda would like to know this, I think!
  6. What one thing would you like to see happen in 2021?
  7. What’s the best advice you’ve ever received and would like to pass on to others?

My responses:

5 Places: All 50 states in our camper with Hubs. We would take a whole year and work odd jobs here and there to keep gas in the truck and our bellies adequately filled. Of course I’d be blogging all about it and who knows…maybe it’d result in a book!

Then of course, there’s Napa Valley, California because wine. And beautiful scenery. NYC to visit all the touristy sites and of course be in the audience at SNL. Europe (England, Germany, Ireland, Spain, the Netherlands and other places I’m sure). Cleveland, Ohio to see the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Food I won’t touch with a 10 foot pole: Sweet potatoes. I think it’s weird to have potatoes that taste sweet. Yuck!! Potatoes are best with salt, pepper, and cheese and all that other salty and fatty stuff.

Superpower: To fly. At will. Whenever I need a break from the hum drum of life. To learn about the world through my own eyes and feel free at the same time.

Childhood dream/career: I remember making countless lists of careers I wanted to pursue (I seem to recall it being pretty eclectic: stewardess, lawyer, psychiatrist) but the one I think that was most consistent was being an actress/writer. Think Rachel Bloom from “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend”. I think had I been 12 when that show came out, I’d have been the president of her fan club and very possibly her stalker.

Who plays Elvis? Let me back up here for a sec. This needs context. I posted about the fabulous musical talent Yola recently. While researching her online, I learned that she is to play Sister Rosetta Tharpe in a new bio-pic about Elvis Presley. I did a bit of pondering with other bloggers in my comments section as to who might play Elvis. Didn’t realize till now that the role has been cast. I do think he looks the part, don’t you all?

What one thing would I like to see happen in 2021? Sorry, Mona, in these turbulent times I simply can’t limit it to just one. First one is a cure and vaccine for Covid-19. Second is much prosperity and equality for humans, specifically those who have been so underprivileged for far too long. Health care for all, more financial equity, a much improved and accessible educational system.

Best advice: Life is Fragile, Be Gentle. It wasn’t exactly advice that another person verbally expressed to me. It was this sign that my Dad had hanging on the wall inside his favorite place, our garage. I think one of the best things we can do to be the best versions of ourselves is to heed this advice. Be kind to others, but also to yourselves. Because life is too fragile and precious to do otherwise.

Now this is the part of the post where I nominate other bloggers that I think are quite neat; well actually spectacular. And they are….

Crystal at Crystalbyers.com

Nicole at An Entertaining Mess

Christi at Feeding on Folly

Alice at Lutheran Liar Looks at Life

Now for my 7 questions, which I sincerely hope get answered:

  1. You have an opportunity to have a sit down with another writer. Who would it be and why?
  2. Who is the most talented Black artist (musician, writer, painter, potter, any type of artist) that you think deserves to be more widely known or appreciated?
  3. Who is the funniest person you have ever personally known?
  4. What or who is your spirit animal?
  5. What is the biggest mistake you think you’ve made as a blogger?
  6. What one aspect of your life during the pandemic is “for keeps” post Covid-19?
  7. If you were granted the ability to be highly proficient at playing a musical instrument, what would it be and why?

Alphabet Soup Challenge: Y is for Yola

It’s not a big secret that I am a huge fan of music. Lots of different genres, old and new, blues and pop, alternative and (some) country, rock and roll. I’ve written perhaps ad nauseam on this blog about my adoration of the music I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying throughout my life.

So for this entry of my Alphabet Soup Challenge, I’m choosing to introduce you to someone new (to me anyway) in the music world: Yola.

If You Knew Yola: Meet the UK Sleeper Agent - LA Weekly

Yola’s music is hard to categorize. I think that is what makes her so special. She mashes up country, folk, blues, pop, gospel, and rock and roll in a way I’ve never heard before. And man, she has some serious pipes.

The first time I heard her voice, she was covering her fellow Brit Sir Elton John’s “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”. Wow, I thought to myself, who is this person? I needed to know. I needed to hear more of her.

So of course I googled her. And listened to the entirety of her album “Walk through Fire”. A-freaking-mazing. This song is a stand out. Then I listened to several tracks from her debut album, “Orphan Offering” from 2016. I love how she commands the lower notes with such bluesy, soulful swagger. But turns out she can hit those high notes as well. Hear what I mean below:

Yola was nominated for several Grammys last year as well and should have one them all IMHO.

She’s played with many of my favorites, too. She jammed with the Highwomen and Dawes at the Newport Musical festival last year. She contributed vocals to the Highwomen’s debut album alongside Sheryl Crowe as well. I look forward to seeing her live someday, assuming we get back to being able to attend live concerts again.

I think she is just getting started too. I believe her immense talent is going to be enjoyed for generations to come. She’s only 36, after all. She’s to play Sister Rosetta Tharpe in an upcoming movie about the life of Elvis Presley. Tharpe, I’ve learned, is thought of by many as the “Godmother of Rock and Roll”. Another black musical artist we all ought to learn more about.

Hopefully, Yola will get an opportunity to cover this one in the film:

The snippet of the lyrics to this song that you see below is apropos to these times of racial unrest, don’t you think?

There are strange things happening everyday
If you want to view the climb
You must learn to quit your lyin’
There are strange things happening everyday
If you heal right through the lies
You can live right all the ties
There are strange things happening everyday

A Happy Mom Story

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!

This Was Supposed to Be My Post About Our Florida Vacation

Joke’s on me!

We are not in Florida at the moment. We cancelled our trip, as I know many have had to do because of the Covid-19 virus pandemic. The uninvited scourge on the world that has led beaches to be closed. Along with restaurants, bars, and a head spinning amount of other events.

We are all adjusting to this new normal, right?

The other evening, I was in a mood. Found myself sitting in front of my computer in our home office, searching for some good news. Something uplifting. And I found this:

I’m going to trust that you took the time (you know, the free time that has increased for every one of us because Covid-19 has got us stuck at home for the forseeable future) to watch this.

Several of Tom’s insights got my attention. Like how it’s beneficial to not dwell on the negative and focus instead on the task at hand. Like how if we are honest about our weaknesses we can take advantage of them. How we are forced to be students when adapting to new situations (we are all students now). Like how we are merely a “blip on the timeline in the universe” and we should “act accordingly”.

A lot of food for thought here, right, people? If ever there was a time to encourage interaction between people (virtually of course at the moment), I think now is it.

So please share in the comments your take-aways on this TED talk. It is filled with “truisms” I think, but which ones resonated most with you?

18 Things That Need To Be in My She Shed

Imagine the tune “If I were a Rich Man” from Fiddler on the Roof while you read the following:

If I had a she shed

Doodle doodle doodle

Diddy doodle doodle blam!

All day long I’d write and putz and sing

If I had a sheee shed!

I would of be writing and playing hard

Doodle doodle diddy blam!

If I were a righteous bitch

Doodle doodle doddle diddly blam!

Now that I got that out of my system, here’s what I envision will be in my future “she shed”:

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is reglips-e1491316418234-1024x748-1.jpg
  • A small fridge/freezer combo in which to store bottles of Pinot Grigio and Merlot, ice, and pints of gelato.
  • A window with a view of lilac bushes.
  • A good sound system and internet access.
  • A large desk for my chromebook adorned with pictures of family and friends and uplifting artwork. Like the image above.
  • A comfy gray or tan love seat with large matching pillows.
  • A large vision board hanging on the wall above the aforementioned (leather) love seat.
  • A sturdy bookshelf that I get from a thrift store and up-cycle.
  • Hearty plants in colorful pots of varying shapes and sizes.
  • A special little table to keep essential oils, diffusers, and candles. This place is going to smell goooood.
  • A comfy yet indestructible dog bed for Radar.
  • A microwave. To heat up my peppermint tea or to make nachos.
  • A Keurig coffee maker with an array of caffeinated options.
  • A pair of bean bag chairs. So when I invite a friend or two over, we have comfy places to sit down and shoot the shit.
  • A dart board. Pictures of OWM to affix to it for when I feel the need to rage against the patriarchal machine.
  • A special basket to house all my fuzzy socks.
  • A ceiling fan for when the hot flashes emerge.
  • A sink, so I can properly clean up when I knock over a glass of wine or the essential oil diffuser.
  • A velour blanket to drape around myself on chilly mornings.
The original version, by the Monkees, is featured on my Soundtrack for 2020. Plan to learn this on my ukulele ASAP.

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 🙂

My last blog post for 2019: What are you ISO?

Man, I love myself a good acronym. Almost as much as a finely crafted mantronym (for those of you new to this blog, that’s a mantra that presents as an acronym).

The first time I saw “ISO” it was on a work email. One of the other social workers was “ISO” something or other. Probably a way to get rid of bed bugs, because that is the type of shit we had to help our clients with on a disturbingly regular basis. I had to read the body of the email before I understood that “ISO” was “in search of”.

My personal theory is that we are all “ISO” pretty much all the time. It might be a lost sock or cell phone. It might be recommendations for a dog walker. It might be for the best cheesecake recipe. Or it might be something deeper; like meaning, purpose, or peace. Or maybe a little bit of all of the above and more.

This song comes to mind as I’m writing this. I happened to hear a truly awesome version of it recently as I was tooling around in my CRV. Here it is:

I have gratitude for the fact that in this life I have found what I was looking for: a happy marriage, a place to call home, two awesome adult children, a grandson, a dog, and a career that have all brought me a lot of happiness.

But there’s still more I’m ISO.

What might that be? Well, a whole bunch of things honestly. But what it boils down to more than anything is balance.

Balance between writing/doing/connecting is what I’m searching for in 2020. Maybe I should christen 2020 as my year of Clarity. I need to avoid the “overwhelm” and remain rooted in the present, in my writing life, professional life, and personal life.

One of the major take-aways for me from 2019 is that working is highly important to me. Working at my part time job running the food bank. Working on my writing; improving my blogging skills. Working on strengthening the connections I have with the people I love and making new connections with those people I have yet to meet. I like staying busy, moving forward, accomplishing things.

What I know for sure about 2020 is that it’s incumbent upon me to work even harder that I did in 2019. Up my game at work. Find ways to improve myself professionally. So that I can contribute more to the team, to our clients, to our mission.

Another thing I know for sure about 2020 is that I will need to hyper-focus on my writing via this blog (and otherwise, but that is currently a batch of baby WIPS that will need some careful coaxing to show themselves to the world).

Suffice it to say: I have much to say about a variety of things-from my personal history, my current reality and the (hopefully) fabulous future. I have stories to tell. I have more to say about some of the topics I brought up on this blog in 2019. I have more to do and say in and about the present. And I have a freaking ton to say about the future.

While all of the above is true and right and good for me personally, I recognize that I can’t blow off taking care of myself. Because in real day to day life of the year 2020, there’s gonna be obstacles. Some I am fully cognizant of and others will be new and uninvited. So while I don’t anticipate becoming a self-care guru (because really, we have so many of them we can refer to on the internets and in real life if we are so fortunate), behind the scenes of this here blog, I will be aiming to practice a healthy amount of it.

I sincerely hope you stay tuned.

But first, please indulge me and answer this question in the comments:

What are you ISO in 2020? This particularly curious mind would love to know.

Christmas 2019: a very merry rumination

My mom loved Christmas. This woman went all out each and every year. In spite of the fact that she and dad worked full time and then some, many of those years operating their own business, we always had a beautifully decorated (complete with fake snow from a can) Christmas tree, perfectly wrapped presents underneath it, and copious amounts of cookies and holiday treats to enjoy.

I think somehow her Christmas spirit has been infused into my being this holiday season. I sure am missing her a lot these days.

In honor of my mom and the sense of peace and gratitude I’m feeling this holiday season, let me tell you what I’m loving about Christmas 2019.

GIVING

More than anything else, I believe that giving is the most joyful and soul-affirming aspect of the Christmas season. This year, I found myself purchasing my first Christmas present for a loved one in September. That is truly unheard of for me. I usually hit the Christmas present shopping hard at the start of December.

So when I purchased this one small present in a cute gift shop in Estes Park when my sister was visiting, I determined right then and there that I was going to proceed with intention and purchase items that I believed would make the recipients feel my love for them. I enjoyed the heck out of keeping my eyes peeled for extra special presents both in store and online this year. I am so looking forward to hearing the reactions from my beloved family about their presents.

Then there’s the giving in my workplace, where my primary duty is running the food bank. On a daily basis, I get to experience the joy of giving our aging adults good quality, healthy food. However, this time of year I get to give them even more! Like the stockings filled with snacks, toothbrushes, word puzzle books and other fun items, which are donated by one group each year. Like the gift cards donated to our organization from local municipalities. What a joy this is for me-and our clients. The other day, I witnessed one of our clients weeping with joy as she went through the large bag of goodies her own personal Santa gave her. She commented that prior to becoming physically disabled, she was the one donating Christmas presents to the needy.

MUSIC

I couldn’t not write about one of my favorite things in the whole wide world for this Christmas blog post of mine. Since I respect my Hubs’ low tolerance for the music of this season, I have intentionally created a Christmas music playlist that appeals to both of us. That way, we do not have to suffer through Chipmunks songs or what ever totally changed up in not a good way classic Christmas songs performed by artists we don’t know on the cable tv Christmas channel.

I have only chosen the “best of the best” Christmas tunes for this playlist. Our favorite favorites, if you will.

Such as:

  • Michael Buble’s version of “It’s Beginning to Look a Lot like Christmas”. His 2011 cd titled, simply, “Christmas” is on repeat on my tablet this time of year.
  • Bing Crosby’s “Mele Kalikimaka”. Hubs is learning this one on his ukulele as a matter of fact. I get a lot of enjoyment from singing along. The goal is for us to get good enough at it to perform it in front of actual people next Christmas!
  • Amy Grant’s “Grown Up Christmas List”. It’s Hubs’ favorite Christmas tune, which speaks to the kind of human he is.
  • “Sugar and Booze” by Ana Gasteyer (yes, from SNL). This is a new one discovered while watching late morning tv during our recent trip to DC. A new classic for sure!
  • “All I Want for Christmas is You” by Mariah Carey. This song to me is so fun and festive! And it’s featured of course in my favorite movie of all time, which also happens to be a Christmas movie-“Love, Actually”. Check out this charming and fun video I just discovered of this song here: https://youtu.be/_IlZu9X9W_k

MOVIES

While in DC earlier this month, I caught the black and white Christmas classic “Holiday Affair”. It’s about a widowed mom of a 6 year old boy. She is proud of the fact that she works hard to provide him with a good life and they have a very loving and playful relationship. She almost marries Mr. Nice Guy but along the way falls in love with a salesman who has a dream of moving to California to build ships. Mr. Nice Guy’s name is Karl Davis. The salesman’s address is on Christopher Street. I feel like I was supposed to see this movie this Christmas season, on account of sharing the same last name with Mr. Nice Guy. And, big news here, on account of the fact that in the new year a cat named Karl (and his 26 year old human parent, aka Spawn #2) will be moving in with us. And our grandson (living in Wisconsin with his mommy, Spawn #1) is named Christopher.

Of course, there will be a viewing of “Love Actually” happening in this joint soon, along with “Four Christmases” and “A Christmas Story”. If we’re up for more Christmas movies, we’ll likely add in “The Grinch” with Jim Carey and, if Hubs has his way, “Bad Santa”.

FOOD AND DRINK

Let me just tell you one thing I know for sure when it comes to the food and drink of this very merry season: my own personal Esther is running the show. If you’re unfamiliar with Esther, here’s a clip of Wanda Sykes that will clue you in.

I actually wrote about my own personal Esther a while back, before the wonderful Wanda Sykes named her: https://pollyannaspath.com/?s=about+my+belly+fat

But back then, I was interested only in telling you all about how others were reacting to my own personal Esther (note to self: name your Esther!). Now it’s Christmas time and she’s in charge. My Esther is having the time of her freaking life right now. She’s sampling all the chocolates that her co-workers brought in to work. She’s conned me in to making extra Christmas cookies after I packaged and sent the 24 or so dozen we made to our family and friends, you know, because there are other people that I love here in Colorado that would enjoy them. She’s currently plotting how many cheddar bay biscuits she can consume before feasting on seafood at Red Lobster with Hubs for Christmas Eve.

What she doesn’t know, however, is that come January 1, she is going down. Wish me luck on that one, because I know that bitch is going to fight me tooth and nail!

DECORATING

When we moved into our townhome in 2016, we realized there was literally no good place to put up a regular, standard-sized Christmas tree. So while shopping at the local thrift store that first winter, we snatched up a table top version for a pittance. We had it up the first couple of Christmases, but this year we left it in the garage. That’s not to say we don’t have any sort of Christmas tree up; it’s just that the beautiful peace lily my wonderful in-laws sent me for my 50th birthday a couple of years ago looked so damned lovely sitting atop our occasional table and we just couldn’t bear to move it. So we left it there. Then adorned it with those itty bitty led lights and hung our favorite ornaments along the edges of the pot.

I personally love it!

I wish each and every one of you fellow holiday celebrators who read through this goofy, happy, and weird Christmas inspired essay a beautiful holiday. May you enjoy time with your favorite people, music, food, and cheesy Christmas movies and marinate in the joy that is this season!