Also at play here is that my birthday is coming up very soon and I’m excited to celebrate it with my family. My brain is in party mode!
I’m going to share not just 5, but 8 things that I do for fun. Because 8 is my lucky number, folks.
What do you like to do for fun?
Fun for me is:
Playing group board games like “Ransom Notes”, “Apples to Apples”, or “Scrabble” with family and/or friends. This is a guaranteed way to share laughs together. I love the feeling of relaxation in my whole body after some good old fashioned belly laughs.
Dance. Sometimes alone in my kitchen. Sometimes with my grandson when he challenges me to “dance-offs”. The more spontaneous the dancing is, the better. That’s where the joy is.
Creating music playlists. My method is to think of a mood I want to create or a genre I want to re-visit, then search online for songs under that category. While this is a more introverted way to have fun, often the end result is that I get to share these playlists with the special people in my life.
Thrift store shopping. It’s a surprising treasure hunt every time and freeing as well, as it’s guilt-free. I don’t come out of a thrift store with my purchases feeling bad about spending money, because I never spend that much. Even better, the money I spend often goes toward a cause that supports and lifts others up.
This. Blogging. Interacting with all of you in the comments.
Decorating my house. Using home decor I kept from our previous house in new ways. Finding just the right spot to put that cool piece of pottery I found at a thrift store. It’s a simple and creative activity that just tickles me.
Photography. Now, I don’t claim or even aim to be a professional photog necessarily. It’s just fun for me to capture shots in the day to day with my cell phone.
Spending time on the water. Trolling for fish in a boat while the sun warms my skin. Looking forward to doing this on our pontoon (the one we plan to buy in the next few months) this summer!
With the new life I’m living now, I embrace the acronym K.I.S.S. It’s quite the versatile “mantronym” for me personally as I mentioned long ago, but these days it really is just “Keep It Simple Sister”.
So, this post is an example of that for me. A simple blog post where I share pictures I’ve taken since our big move to Minnesconsin last summer. Ones I haven’t shared in this space before.
The first bluetooth speaker I had was a Christmas present from Hubs’ brother and his wife. I loved it so much.
It was light and had a handle to allow me to easily carry it with me and take to work, to sit outside, or to a party, where I could listen to and share with others the playlists I made via Google. Either I didn’t realize that my brother in law and his wife knew how obsessed I was with music or it was just a lucky guess on their part.
I was so grateful for this present and enjoyed it so much; but for no good reason, I don’t believe I specifically reached out to either of them to say thank you. At the time, I believed Hubs thanked them for all of the presents that Christmas.
My brother in law died suddenly from a heart attack before turning 60, four years ago. It bothers me that I never expressed my appreciation of this gift to him.
Fast forward to Christmas 2022. Hubs only living sibling, my fabulous sister in law, is so thoughtful and generous when it comes to the Christmas presents she gets for all of us each year. This year, one of the presents she spoiled me with was a Google nest. She knows just how much I adore listening to music. She has a great appreciation for it herself. What a fabulous present!
I’m listening to Pink (side note: the three of us-me, Hubs, and SIL, have tickets to see Pink in concert in August 2023) as I write this, which is streaming on the nest. Hubs set this speaker up in the most perfect space; on top of my buffet in the kitchen, next to the Keurig. Having music on in my kitchen is just heaven to me. As I’m cooking something up, I fall into such a pleasurable state of mind while I’m listening to whatever tunes I choose.
One of the best advantages of our move to Minnesconsin is that I get to spend time on the regular with my SIL. I get to tell her again and again how much I love the Google nest she got me this Christmas.
I’ve kind of gotten away from sharing music that inspires me on these blog posts. I’m going to start to rectify that with this incredible song and dance by Pink. The lyrics resonate for me and the athleticism displayed here is fantastic.
This post is for those of you who have adopted a rescue mutt at some point in your lives, without knowing much about them beyond where they were rescued from, their supposed breeds, and their approximate age.
Do you ever wonder what their origin story is?
I do. And I have a theory about what Radar’s is.
What am I sure of? That before he came to Colorado, he was loved by someone else. I say that because of his sweet nature and love of all people he encounters.
This is the point in this post where I was going to tell you a clever, heartwarming story I made up about the newlywed couple that were his first “hoomans” who named him “Goofy”. These two crazy kids broke up for a time, then got back together when they were a united front trying to find him after he ran away amidst the devastating flood that hit the Houston area in the spring of 2019. They didn’t find him but “found” each other again. And of course they learned that the wife was pregnant and then they proceeded to live happily ever after, though often wondered what became of Mr. Goofy.
Instead of that, however, I’m just going to tell you all that Radar the dog ought to be the first of many dogs to compete under the category of “Mutt” at the Westminster Dog Show.
I know that the WDS does have the “All American” category of dogs; however from what I understand these dogs only compete in the “Agility” competitions. What I’m talking about is adding more diversity to the mix. Making it more inclusive, if you will.
There would be no agility tests. No checking their dental health. No showcasing the dogs’ levels of obedience.
Instead, the mutts would be judged on things like how long each dog does the “zoomies” after bathtime. You know, when they get out of the bathtub and run around like tasmanian devils, rubbing their wet furry bodies on every possible surface?
They would be judged on how cute their expressions are when their parent excitedly says the mutt’s favorite word or phrase, like “Treat?” or “Who wants to go for a walk?”
And of course, they’d be judged on their best, most unique tricks.
It’d probably have to be its own show, though, because the folks at the Westminster Dog Show take their shit very seriously.
Reminder to self: watch that movie “Best in Show”, stat.
Speaking of shit…a couple of weeks ago, Hubs was off in Wisconsin for the week, leaving me home alone with Radar-ling.
Here’s what happened on one of our neighborhood walks that week:
We ran out of poop bags and I wanted to avoid the nearest poop bag dispensing thing in our community garden area because there was a dog with their human and I didn’t want to have to deal with Radar going completely nutso and pulling me down and causing a ruckus. Because of course this has happened before.
I know there was an angel watching over me as I managed to walk the distance back to our house with one neuropathic (I have hereditary peripheral neuropathy) hand holding the leash and the other carefully holding a pile of poop mixed with grass and dry leaves in a used Kleenex found in my coat pocket, without Radar bolting ahead and pulling me down to the ground where most certainly his poop would have wound up somewhere on my person.
Truth be told, I am the more hands-off doggy parent, as for the most part, Hubs takes the lead with getting him out for walks, giving him baths, and making sure he’s fed. I am the “fun” parent. The one who plays with him, curls up with him on the couch and has lively one-sided conversations with him.
I was nervous as the time grew closer to me being on my own with him. Sure, I am capable of taking him out for walks and all of the other stuff Hubs usually does as the more responsible pet parent. It’d just been so long since it was just the two of us.
Well, it turned out that the professional training we three participated in when we first adopted him, coupled with Hubs continuing to reinforce that training when taking him out for walks, paid off.
I was proud to report to Hubs when he returned home that Radar was a very good boy the whole time he was gone.
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.
I think for those of us that celebrate Christmas, whether in a secular way, a non-secular way, or a combination of both (like me), we can all agree that this year the holiday season is different.
Obviously, the reason it’s different this year is because of Covid-19. No in-person holiday parties like in years past. Worries about loved ones who may be alone for the holiday. The inability to travel and employment uncertainty.
Out of spite, as in “screw you, Covid-19, I’m not going to let you steal my joy”, I’m embracing this Christmas even more than I have in the past. Like it’s a life boat. Doing this, I think, is a healthy coping mechanism for these times.
We here in this house are gorging on all the Christmas movies. Not so much the cheesy, predictable, brainless Hallmark channel varieties (though they do certainly have their place). I’m talking the classics: “A Christmas Story”, “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas”, “Elf”, “It’s a Wonderful Life”, “Christmas Vacation”, “Love Actually” and more. The ones we all know the best lines to. The ones that fill us with a giddy joy and warm our hearts.
Our little townhome has been properly adorned with all the Christmas decorations inside and soon Hubs will be putting up the lights outside. We’ve even chosen to string multi-colored lights along the periphery of our living room and around the windows. We didn’t do this the previous years we lived here.
All of the Christmas cookies have been made to send to our loved ones in three different states. The presents have been purchased (online) and received. Names have been picked at work for our “Secret Santa” exchange.
Special desserts will be made. A drive through the local holiday light display for charity is happening this year.
One of my blogger friends, Crystal, wrote this lovely post which prompted me to read Luke. I was compelled by the passage in Chapter 3: John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”, to do a quick clean out of my kitchen cupboards to donate to the food pantry I now run. I think it’d be so cool if others did the same.
I’m determined to suck the marrow out of this Christmas season.
Who’s with me?
**Header image circa 1984 posing with a friend as Christmas elves/mannequins in the front window of Bonnie’s Clothes Bar**
I knew back in February of this godforsaken year when I watched David Byrne and his crew perform on SNL that I wanted more of it.
It wasn’t until I saw another blogger posting about it then read the Esquire interview with Byrne and Spike Lee and realized they collaborated to bring Byrne’s Broadway show “American Utopia” show to the masses via HBO, that I was able to actually get more of it.
I watched it at home with Rabbie and I was enthralled. I hope you all have the good sense to watch it yourselves. I’m not going to even attempt to explain what it was all about, mainly because I know I’d miss something important.
But I will say this: David Byrne’s “American Utopia” is weird. In the very best of ways. There’s of course the music, which is so jubilant. There is the oddly intriguing interpretive dance. There are the wonderfully talented, multi-cultural musicians and dancers backing it all up. There is much food for thought. It’s cerebral. But it’s not so cerebral that it’d be over anyone’s heads if that makes sense. Ultimately, it’s a celebration of humanity and community.
This phenomenally cool show along with the uplifting and worthy-of-your-time website David heads up, is part of what makes him a “Gem” to me. A national fucking treasure.
Within the website, https://reasonstobecheerful.world/, you will find well-written, thoughtful, fascinating, and inspiring articles. It’s essentially the good news we all need these days. I’ve known of this website for probably a year now, but hadn’t kept up with it. I allowed myself to instead pay attention to Facebook, Twitter, MSNBC, and NPR to keep current on things. That is going to change, as I’m re-committing myself to reading an article or two daily on this website.
Because of David Byrne, I’m also doubling down on focusing on the positive. The good stuff that will expand my understanding of things and leave me feeling more hopeful. While by nature I am an optimist, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t take a bit of work to maintain that optimistic outlook, especially with the plethora of bad news and bad attitudes lurking in every corner of the internet and in the news.
I think we need more people in the world like David Byrne. The people who think outside the box. The intelligently quirky ones. The question askers. The forward thinking folks who have a sense of genuine curiousity about the world and the people who inhabit it. The creative problem solvers who generously share their talents and insights to make the world a better place for all of us.
Let me leave you with what is probably my favorite Talking Heads tune.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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!
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!