Category Archives: Life

Alphabet Soup Challenge: O is for Optimism

Here begins the final entry of my Alphabet Soup Challenge.

There are lots of words that start with the letter “O” that I could have chosen to write about. Like “options”, “objectives”, “opportunities”, “openings”. Which, ironically, all have an optimistic bent-don’t you think?

But this is “Pollyanna’s Path”, right? I chose that title for my blog when I started it about 4 years ago for a reason. Because I am an optimist. And my optimism is what I’ve always aimed to share in this space.

Hey, I’m still publishing posts on this blog despite not having as many followers as oodles of other bloggers, right? I continue in part because I am optimistic that my blogging will get better. I also remain optimistic that this blogging habit will become more interesting with time-with how and what I’m writing and with whom I’m connecting via this platform.

So, for all of us who continue to blog; doesn’t it stand to reason that we are all optimists?

As Noam Chomsky once said: optimism is a strategy for making a better future. Because unless you believe that the future can be better, you are unlikely to step up and take responsibility for making it so.

Doesn’t that make a ton of sense?

It’s important for me that you understand that my optimism is not foolish. I do not shield my eyes and ears from the harsh realities of this world: a warming climate, white nationalists acting upon their (based on fear) hate of the “other” in violent ways, immigrant children held for prolonged periods of time in detention centers, incompetent leadership in the White House. These things and more are happening in real time and it makes me sick; though mostly it makes me angry.

But here’s the thing: I think by and large we Americans are smart. There has been much we have overcome and changed for the better since the establishment of this country. We are problem solvers. My fellow optimists surely see it this way too.

But we have farther to go. We just have to be willing to step it up, imagine something better, and work towards creating that reality.

Because the glass for me is always half full. Key word there is “half”. We need to work collectively to fill that “glass” up to the brim with the good stuff that we all can benefit from: cleaner air, a robust education system, compassionate and smart policing among other things. We must do better and I believe we can and that we will.

Because, as Jennifer Mara Gumer puts it in this article (which I highly encourage you to read), optimism is “the truly rational viewpoint”.

***Header image courtesy of https://www.magiccrate.in/blog/parenting-tips-toddler/teach-child-optimism/

Alphabet Soup Challenge: Z Is For Zumba

On the off-chance that you’ve never heard of this fitness craze, let me break it down for you.

Zumba is a group dance workout that utilizes world music. It’s high energy and fun. It gets your heart pumping and tends to cause profuse sweating.

I participated in Zumba classes for a few months back in Wisconsin about 8 years ago (mentioned in this post). I absolutely loved it. That’s not to say that I was “good” at it. I’ve been told that I’m a great dancer-but not on the Zumba floor. Because Zumba requires one to mimic the moves of the instructor. At a very rapid pace. My arms and legs don’t work together very gracefully unless I’m doing my own thing. Free-styling, if you will.

During the few weeks between my last job and my current job, I made a pact with myself that I was going to use that time for some self-improvement. I decided that I would start with improving my physical self by getting in some regular exercise.

So I found some videos of Zumba classes on YouTube, pushed my coffee table back a bit, and got my groove on.

Things did not go as I hoped they would.

There didn’t seem to be as many full class videos on You Tube as I thought there’d be. So I was going from dance to dance, different instructors each time, with ads between. Plus Radar was around, getting in my way. In fact, one time while I was “zumba-ing” I jumped on his paw because I didn’t see him there and he yelped in response.

After three attempts at my in home Zumba experiment, I came to the realization that it was just not gonna work.

But I have hope for my future with Zumba. One of my WIPs (Wildly Improbably Goals, a coined termed by writer Martha Beck) is to become a Zumba instructor. With the caveat that the classes I lead are only for those 50 and up. Who are beginners.

I would include simple choreography. Not too much jumping and not too fast-paced. I would have the best soundtrack, but it would not be dominated by world music. Maybe some, here and there. Mostly we would be zumba-ing to a variety of classic rock with a little adult alternative in the mix. The songs we all grew up with and the cool songs of the moment. The ones that have a good beat, making them easy to dance to.

Free-styling will be part of each number we do.

This WIP of mine is obviously not going to happen anytime soon, thanks to Covid-19 restrictions on group gatherings. But that’s just fine by me. I’ve got my plate just full enough at the moment, with running the new food pantry and this blog.

Lucky for me, I’m able to get in plenty of exercise in my work day at this point in time.

***Header image courtesy of https://www.pinterest.com/pin/194006696430951042/

Alphabet Soup Challenge: U is for Unexpected

Don’t you think that with age many of us handle the unexpected circumstances in our lives better? I think it’s a result of having more time here on earth than others. We’ve simply had a larger number of unexpected things occur in our lives. We’re wiser.

And I think that is awesome.

Not that when a curve ball presents itself we don’t freak out a little. We’re still human after all.

It’s just that we’ve got experiences behind us that tells us we’ve gotten through some shit. We’ve survived. Heck, sometimes we have even thrived after the unexpected invades our realities.

I had two unexpected pregnancies. In the span of two years. I feel like an idiot when I tell people this, but it’s true. And I wouldn’t change a thing about how it all played out.

I was on the pill when I got pregnant both times. First pregnancy was a pleasant surprise. Sure, we (as my mom would say), didn’t have a pot to piss in; but we were newlyweds in love. We made enough money between the two of us to pay our rent and buy groceries and we had the love and emotional support of both sets of parents.

Then, after living in Texas with our baby girl Amanda while Hubs took graduate courses in meteorology and did some student teaching for a few months, I missed my period. Scared out of my mind, I took a pregnancy test and sure enough, it was positive. As Clark Griswold would say, I was more shocked than if I woke up with my head sewn to the carpet.

Decisions had to be made. Staying in Texas would have meant that Hubs would have finished his Masters and put himself in a position to work at his (then) dream job: Professor of Meteorology at a major university. With people, the guy has the patience of Job, so I was confident he would rock that career path. The flip side, however, is that I would have to apply for Medicaid (we were poor, young,and dumb and had no health insurance at the time) for myself and baby Amanda. Then we’d be there in Texas, knowing only a small handful of people (and not very well), raising two babies under 2.

The decision we made was to move back to Minnesota. Where we’d have the support of two loving sets of grandparents to cope with this unexpected turn of events. The guilt I felt (in hindsight, this was wasted energy as it does take two to create new life) for “making” Hubs quit grad school to move back to Minnesota and find employment in his field lasted for years.

However…

While the three of us bunked with his folks and his teenage sister in (thankfully) a 3 bedroom apartment for a month or so, Hubs managed to get a job with a private weather forecasting company and we found ourselves a nice two bedroom apartment.

After Rabbie made their arrival during that hot as hell summer, Hubs got connected with a supervisor in the National Weather Service who hired him as an “intern” (a position that no longer exists) making $18,000 per year. This was sooo exciting! At the time. $18,000 to us in the early 90’s felt like a pretty good darn chunk of change. Only thing was, we had to move to International Falls, Minnesota. The “Icebox of the Nation”. Another unwelcome and unexpected thing.

Nevertheless, we made the best of it. Struggled, stressed out, but we pressed on as a team. As a family.

And now, here we are, married for over 30 years with two great kids in their 20’s and a smart as heck 6 year old grandson. Living in Colorado and as ready as we can be for whatever unexpected thing comes next.

What unexpected circumstances have happened in the course of your lives that changed everything? Please share in the comments.

***Header image courtesy of https://designpress.com/inspiration/32-fascinating-greys-anatomy-quotes/

Alphabet Soup Challenge: L is For Laughter

Back when we were living in Wisconsin, I attended a church sponsored women’s retreat. I recall being outside among the pine trees and cool spring air with a couple of other women. We were chatting away and for whatever reason the subject of humor came up. One of the women, a beautiful brunette with big brown eyes, stated “I’m not really a laugher”.

What a surprising thing to hear someone say, right? This was a person who was essentially admitting she didn’t possess a sense of humor. I never could get my head around that.

Around the same time, I participated in a couple of “Laughter Yoga” classes at our church with several other women (not the brunette). The theory behind “Laughter Yoga” is that laughing, even if it’s completely fake, is beneficial both physically and mentally. So we would do some stretches then we’d be invited to randomly call out something happening in our lives and then heartily laugh about it as a collective. I remember thinking that if anyone walked into that room they would think we had all lost our minds. Here we are, stating out loud things like “my daughter is in love with a loser” or “my dog is sick” then laughing our heads off.

I wonder if this is still a thing?

Anyway, my point is that laughter is important. Especially in these abnormal times. It releases endorphins and relaxes your body. It is essential to one’s well-being. It’s what gets us through, don’t you think?

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Since I’m not aware of any “Laughter Yoga” groups in these parts, I rely on other methods to evoke laughter in my day to day life.

Here’s a sample of the things that are making me laugh right now:

I recently finished the final season of Schitt’s Creek, and I’ve got to say that Catherine O-Hara’s “Moira” is on the top of my list of best comedic characters ever on t.v. Here’s a little clip so you can see why I say that.

The other day, I read the funniest blog post I’ve read in a very, very long time. It was so witty and original! The blogger, Christine, has a knack for comedic writing, which you will see if you peruse her blog posts (which I highly encourage). Check it out if you want a good snicker: https://imsickandsoareyou.com/2020/09/26/i-read-an-amish-romance-novel-so-you-dont-have-to/

This dorky woman cracks me up every time I see this commercial:

I shared with you all recently that I started a new job. What I don’t believe I shared though was that our organization also runs a thrift store on-site. All of the money made goes directly back to programming for low income families and individuals. Pretty cool, right?

Recently, I came across this interesting piece of nostalgia at our thrift store that I found hysterical. It reminded me of the big productions produced for company employees, as featured in my favorite documentary “Bathtubs Over Broadway” which I wrote about here. If only I had a basement with a bar….

So, Pals, what is making you snicker/chuckle/snort-laugh these days? Please share in the comments!!

***Header quote/image courtesy of Yakov Smirnoff

Alphabet Soup Challenge: A is For Aging

I think it’s funny that when we read the word “aging” we picture older people. Maybe you think of your parents who are in their 70’s or 80’s. But really, we are all aging. Babies, kindergartners, 30 somethings. All of us who are alive–we are aging.

What’s the big deal? Even more importantly, what’s the alternative?

This is the alternative

As I age beyond 50, I see many benefits. Sure, there’s the drawback of not being able to as quickly recall names or past events. The drawback of seeing little gray hairs sprouting in my eyebrows and along my hairline. The drawback of more aches and pains and possibly some arthritis.

However, if I knew 20 years ago what I know now about how edging closer to senior citizen status would feel for my spirit, I wouldn’t have dreaded it.

Because I’m 53:

I have a lot of funny stories about mistakes I made when I was younger. You know, the shit I survived.

I am much better at self-care because I have developed more self-respect.

I communicate more directly, as I now know that it’s better in the long run if I ask what may be perceived as a stupid question instead of assuming the answer and acting upon that assumption.

I am less fearful of failure.

I am more accepting of my personal faults.

I am more willing to ask for help; not seeing it any longer as a sign of weakness, but rather an acknowledgment that what I’m trying to achieve is more likely to become reality if I enlist the help of the right people at the right time.

I’m more accepting of my limitations and more comfortable saying “no” or taking a break from an activity that is stressing me out.

Those are some monumental benefits, right? I don’t believe in actively fighting the aging process, you see. I believe in embracing it with the right attitude and keeping in mind what the alternative is.

So, fellow upper-middle-agers: what did I miss? What benefits have you experienced from aging?

***Header image courtesy of https://sixtyandme.com/quotes/

Respite Sunday

Happy Sunday (or Saturday or Monday, if you live outside the U.S.)!

I’ve decided just for today I’m taking a break (aka respite) from my Alphabet Soup Challenge.

I wanted to pause for a beat to tell you all that I may skip publishing a time or two in the next couple of weeks, because Eldest and our grandson are coming to visit soon. For a whole week! This is the longest period of time they will have ever been here for. Eldest was furloughed from her job until at least the end of this month due to the slow down in business for her employer thanks to Covid-19.

Despite the fact that our grandson just started 1st grade a few weeks ago (in person) it seemed like the perfect moment to have the two of them come for a visit. This is going to be so much better than when they typically come to see us, in November or May, when the temps are not as pleasant as they are in the beautiful month of September.

So instead of finishing a publishing whatever the next post will be in my “Alphabet Soup Challenge” today, I’m going to give the house a good cleaning, dust off the old Fall/Halloween decor (and set up the new stuff I got yesterday) and decorate the house so it’s all comfy, cozy, and clean for my beloveds.

Please click on the link below to enjoy one of my favorite dancing tunes!

****Header image courtesy of https://www.azquotes.com/quotes/topics/home-is-where-the-heart-is.html

Alphabet Soup Challenge: H is For Honesty

I’ve been accused of being honest “to a fault” by various people throughout my life.

Anyone else out there that has experienced this accusation?

Not the “I’m just being honest” type of honest, mind you. You know, that passive aggressive way in which a person tells you that your new haircut makes you look like Joe Dirt.

For me, it’s more of a not-always-thinking-before-I-speak or my facial expression after a comment you just made gave me away. Because I’m just a terrible liar. Lying doesn’t suit me. I can’t do it to save my life.

What’s nice for me, within this little blog, is that it is a space for me to honestly express what I’m thinking and how I’m feeling. In a controlled sort of way, because after all, I am editor-in-chief and in charge of pressing the “publish” button in these parts.

So let me be honest with you all.

I’m honestly happy with my life right now. And I honestly believe that could change at any second. Because, well, life.

So I’m soaking up the goodness.

I started a new job over two weeks ago now. The reason I was hired is because I have experience running a food pantry and the lovely lady who hired me wants to get one up and running in her non-profit.

I honestly love working there. I love that I have autonomy. I love knowing that I am listened to and supported. I love working with people who work hard. I love that there’s a variety of tasks to do each day and that not every day is a carbon copy of the day before.

I also honestly do not want to jinx it. I want to continue working hard and be honest with myself and my boss and co-workers when I’m struggling. I want to be honest in all my communications with everyone involved. I honestly want to succeed.

That’s honestly all I want to say about my current employment right now. And it’s all I honestly needed to say.

The other subject I want to be honest about is my creative writing via this blog. I sincerely love doing this. I have no illusions (perhaps hope though) that I’m going to hit the “big time” some day as a writer.

Honestly, I’m in this blogging thing for fun. To make friends. To brighten someone’s day at least once in a while. To get things off my chest. To connect. To socialize. To learn. To grow. To improve.

Let me use my favorite “Macronym” right now: KISS. The “Keep it specific, sister” version.

An appetizer in list form of what I honestly want to do and/or write about once I’ve finished my “Alphabet Soup Challenge” follows.

  1. Write a letter to someone I admire. Embrace the fandom. Writing about it later may or may not happen. That’s not the point.
  2. Capture in writing a conversation about the state of the world in this moment with the Millenials in my life. That would be my previously-known-as-spawn aka Kid #2 and Kid#1. Now outed as Rabbie and (just for now) the Eldest.
  3. Interview my 6 year old grandson about life as he knows it.
  4. Continue writing posts about all the “Gems”.

So fellow bloggers-what are the specific topics you honestly want to write about in the near future?

52nd Street was one of the first albums I ever bought. This song has always spoken to me.

***Header image courtesy of http://www.flourishtherapy.co.uk/9-reasons-why-honesty-works/

Alphabet Soup Challenge: N is for Names

27 years ago, I gave birth to my second child. Hubs and I named “her” Marissa. A lovely name for a lively child.

Approximately 7 years ago, “Marissa”, who had by then come out as queer and non-binary (the queer part was easier to get my head around at first than the non-binary part) announced that they would now be referred to as “Rabbie”.

Say what?! I thought to myself. Why? What’s wrong with “Marissa”? It’s a damn beautiful name, right people?

I told Bonnie over the phone. She “misheard” me and said “Rabbit?” I laughed nervously and told her to think of it as a nickname. I reminded her that Rabbie was romantically attracted to both genders and this was one expression of that (though now I realize it’s much more nuanced). She responded by saying she was going to be praying that “Marissa” found herself a nice boy to fall in love with and marry someday.

My mom never did “get” it. I never held it against her however. Fact of the matter is, I wasn’t necessarily “getting it” back then either.

Hubs and I struggled with this for a good long while. I was offended that the kid was rejecting the name we lovingly chose for them. I felt anxious about how to explain it to others. So many times when talking about how our kids were doing to friends and acquaintances, I found myself referring to “Marissa” as “Rabbie” and got the most confused looks in exchange.

Recent pic of my “Rabs”

But time is an interesting thing. The more I referred to her them as “Rabbie” the more natural it seemed to come to me. The less I felt the need to explain it to myself or others. I even shortened it to “Rabs” when I was speaking to them directly.

I realized over time is that it’s not about me. It’s about the kid not feeling “girly” inside. It’s about them not embracing traditional Americanized gender roles. It’s about the kid expressing their true selves and asserting their independence. It’s about the kid asserting their right to be seen as who they really are, not someone who we as their parents and society at large thinks they should be.

***Header image courtesy of https://locallove.ca/issues/your-guide-to-non-binary-pronouns/#.X1UnmN7YqWw

Alphabet Soup Challenge: W is for Weight

I find myself quickly bored when I’m in a group of female friends and the conversation turns to weight. How one is currently doing Keto and another one joined a new gym in an effort to decrease the number on their bathroom scale. One cut out all the carbs and another started that new diet fad a friend introduced them to on Facebook.

They all think they’re too fat. No matter the evidence to the contrary. And I can’t think of a scenario where it was men grouching about how fat they think they are. It’s always us gals.

Guess that’s American society for you.

I find it far more interesting to talk about food. Tried and true recipes, restaurants that serve the best hot bread with melted honey butter. What delicious stuff I can make in my Instant Pot. How Bonnie always made “nut goodie bars” (which I have the recipe for but have never attempted making).

A favorite picture of my mom, Bonnie, happily cooking in the kitchen of her and Dad’s RV

Not that I don’t care about my weight. I most certainly do. Right now, I want to lose about 10-15 lbs. I know that when I was at my personal goal weight (150), I felt better. I had more energy. I felt more in control of my body, because I was feeding it much better. Some of the pants I started buying were actually a size 10, which blew my mind.

This is how far I got in my post about weight. Between then and now, I saw something on Facebook that made me think twice about where I was heading with this one.

I searched and searched for this meme, as I couldn’t recall which of my Facebook friends had posted it. I never did find it.

Let me do my best at painting a picture of it for you: it featured an approximately 80 year old woman in a bikini. She had a smile plastered on her face. Her body showcased jiggly and wrinkled skin (not unlike the jiggly belly I myself sport). The text on this meme said something to the effect of how we women ought to appreciate our bodies for what they can do as opposed to how we think others think they look. To understand that what makes us attractive to others is not our physical appearance, but our souls. Our loving, kind, creative spirits. That our bodies are not “us”. Not our essences.

This is what I need to internalize. Because intellectually I know it’s healthier than continuing to let my thoughts about how overweight I am take up space in my psyche.

Header image courtesy of https://www.randoxtestingservices.com/alcohol-drugs-affect-changes-body-weight/

Alphabet Soup Challenge: I is for Indecisiveness

I have an almost finished post about how “I” is for “Investment”. It’s about how I’ve been trying to do a better job of investing in myself. Using my time, emotional, physical, and spiritual energy to improve myself.

Investing in myself translates to intentionally going out for walks most mornings, which gives me a lift and helps to collect my thoughts about the day ahead. This investment also includes talk therapy via telephone with a behavioral health counselor. As well as doing more personal journaling and intentionally consuming entertainment that gives me the good feels. I’m feeling better about myself these days. That’s the gist of it.

The it occurred to me that dedicating an entire post to how I, as a privileged white upper-middle aged woman, was “investing” in myself was a bit too much. Too self involved.

That’s when the anxiety I experience on the daily crept into my brain and manifested itself into another “I” word of which I am quite familiar: “indecisiveness”. Because now what “I ” word am I going to pontificate about? There’s so many choices, I can’t possibly decide on which one.

There’s “irony”, which I have a little story about. I mentioned in a recent post how I was reading “Untamed” by Glennon Doyle in which I found some pearls of wisdom that resonated with me. Well, I finished that book several weeks ago. In one of the two all female Facebook groups I belong to, one of the admins posted a picture of herself looking all cute and holding up “Untamed”, notifying us that there was going to be a Facebook live video discussion of the book on Wednesday night at 6:30 p.m. In a moment of impulsivity, I replied that I would plan on attending.

I had been thinking for a while that I wanted to gain more experience with using video communication, both with friends and family, but also with people that I only know online, not IRL as they say. Zoom and Facebook Live are the tools du jour in the age of Covid-19, and I suspect that will only grow just like the amount of time we will be compelled to stick close to home.

Wednesday rolled around. I remembered about this “happening” about 5:30 p.m., after imbibing in a couple of cocktails. Supper wasn’t quite ready. Kid #2 was out at the local Hookah bar and about to come home soon. I was anticipating Kid #1 calling me at any time based on a message she had sent me earlier in the day. I had taken all my make up off, revealing just how “53” I looked. I hemmed and hawed, thinking about putting on some makeup, fluffing up my hair, grabbing “Untamed” and just doing it anyway.

Then Kid #2 came in the door, greeted by a very happy Radar-ling and his slinky sidekick Karl the cockeyed cat. I felt happy. Relaxed. I let myself off the hook and decided “Nah”.

After having intermittent pangs of guilt mixed with a side of regret about flaking out on this experience throughout that evening and into the next morning, I checked Facebook and learned that the admin hadn’t been feeling well the night before so she cancelled the event. Whew!

Now that’s irony. All that worry for nothing. Ha!

I am very tempted to continue this post with anecdotes on other “I” words that I have a lot to say about like “imagination”, “inspiration”, and “intention”.

However, I’m going to instead head on back to my “A-Z” draft folder and work through my indecisiveness surrounding the remaining letters of the alphabet I have to write about to complete this self-imposed challenge.

And leave you with one of my favorite Alanis Morrisette tunes.

**Header image courtesy of http://www.uniquelyandbrilliantlyadorned.com/2015/10/lets-talk-about-indecisiveness.html