Category Archives: Positivity

What Sticks

I’ve decided to put a pin in the post I planned to publish today. It’s about this guy:

Radar, snoozing in our camper. Isn’t he a beaut?

I want to take my time with that post and get it right. Give it the love and attention it deserves.

Anyway, what this post is actually about is words. Lyrics, specifically.

Now, as the melophile I aspire to be (because I mentioned it in a sort of recent post but quickly realized that many, many, other people are way bigger melophiles than this gal who needs to fricking catch up), I’m going to share with you some song lyrics that have stuck with me from the moment I first heard them.

From Alanis Morissette’s “Isn’t it Ironic?”: “Life has a funny way of sneaking up on you when you think everything’s okay and everything is going right… and life has a funny way of helping you out when everything’s gone wrong and everything blows up in your face”.

It’s like, we make plans and God laughs, which I wholeheartedly believe is true. We have the illusion that we are in control, then, in an instant, we are reminded that is not the case at all.

Gotta love that little “boop” on the nose!

Not necessarily “ironic”, but as you are reading this, there is approximately an 8.8% chance that I, at that precise moment, am rocking out to a live version of Alanis singing “Hand in My Pocket”. This is on account of the fact that Hubs and are will be seeing her perform tonight, on the first day of fall, in Denver.

Here’s a great cover of the quintessential song to usher in this new season.

Now, back to those lyrics…..

From the Avett Brothers “Head Full of Doubt”: “Decide what to be and go be it”. Very inspirational, while simplistic. But maybe that’s the point.

Liz Phair was supposed to be touring with Alanis this year, but a couple of months ago suddenly pulled out for personal reasons (I hope she and her family are ok). That really, truly bummed me out. I was so looking forward to seeing her play live as I’ve been a fan of hers for years now. The song lyric I’m choosing here isn’t from a song on her critically acclaimed and wildly popular “Exit in Guyville” album, but a track from a later one.

From “Somebody’s Miracle”: “There goes somebody’s miracle, walking down the street”.

Why do I love this lyric? Because it makes me happy to think that it’s true: that when I’m engaging in one of my favorite activities-people watching-I can think of this line and imagine that every soul I’m seeing is somebody else’s “miracle”. That someone in their lives adores them that deeply, no matter what they look like, how they behave, or even how they smell. I know it’s corny, but I think if we can all try to do this when in public, we can soften our hearts and suspend judgement.

So, I ask you, fellow readers and/or melophiles, what lyrics have stuck with you? Please don’t overthink this-that takes the fun out of it! I look forward to your comments.

***Header image courtesy of https://www.bigwhite.com/events-activities/events-calendar/dont-forget-the-lyrics

Words On The Walls

I’ve been focusing more these days on home improvement and home decor. Hubs and I are planning some pretty major upgrades for our town home, which will, hopefully, be completed before Thanksgiving. New carpet is going in first, sometime next month.

I’ve got a lot of words on my walls. I may have overdone it. I think, being a 54 year old white woman from the Midwest, having so many pieces of “words as art” on my walls might make me a cliche. At the very least, I ought not to buy any more.

That by no means is me declaring that I don’t on some level enjoy each and every one of my word/art “pieces”. But I also wouldn’t want to fuck up the other scenery inside our empty nest. Overwhelm our space with words which would, no doubt over time, diminish their meanings.

How about you all? You’ve got words adorning your walls in the name of art, right? Perhaps it’s just an American thing? I wonder about that.

I think it all started with the small framed piece of art I bought at one of those home decor parties I attended when we lived in Wisconsin, probably in about 2002. It has the word “Faith” emboldened on it. I felt a bit obligated to purchase something (you know how that goes, right folks?). Seeing it on our wall was a good reminder for me at the time, what with the challenges of raising two kids with Hubs, working full time as a case manager, and managing the stress/anxiety that accompanied those roles. It now lives on the wall above our town home’s staircase. I probably don’t take note of it as much as I should.

One of my most recent “word art” acquisitions was found on Etsy. It’s a slim piece of wood with the words “Everything is Figureoutable” on it. It’s cute, though perhaps overly optimistic. But I like it just the same. It sits on a buffet table in our dining area, in front a lovely plant and next to pictures of our kids and our grandson.

Then there’s the also made-of-wood but glittered up word “Peace” that sits above the gas fireplace in our living room. I bought it at TJ Maxx a few years ago, when I was searching for new Christmas decor. I haven’t been able to bring myself to take it down since. It’s a pretty reminder of my desire to maintain peace within my home. As well as a reminder that outside of these walls, peace is something that is sorely needed and something I must actively cultivate.

In this post, I wrote about the funky sign my dad, Babe, hung in his beloved garage for years. For the longest time, I had it hanging beneath my vision board in our home office. Now that this is Hubs space as he’s working from home full time (and likely for the remainder of his career), I needed to find a new place for it. It’s now hanging downstairs on the wall across from our half bath. I think the words will be a comfort to visiting guests after using the facilities.

Speaking of my vision board, it’s now hanging above my small Ikea dresser in our walk-in closet. It’s a good place for it; however, it needs some new words and/or phrases. Probably another inspiring image or two. Nothing new has been added to it for probably 2 years. I must get on that soon.

But of course I have the “Live, Laugh, Love” phrase on my walls. My sister Kelly gifted that to me several years ago. I guess I wouldn’t be a “words on the wall” kinda gal if these words were not present somewhere in my home, right?

I look forward to hearing about your own (or your take on-maybe that’d be even more fun?) “words on the wall”.

In the meantime, enjoy this little ditty:

***Header image courtesy of yours truly. It might be my favorite . It’s the first one you see when you walk in our front door***

Good Vibes Playlists

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.

Header image courtesy of https://www.quotemaster.org/Happy+Music

It’s Wednesday and I’m Still Here

I’m neurotic.

It truly bothers me that last Wednesday I failed to publish a post as per usual. I don’t have any good reason for that other than that I didn’t feel I had anything new or remotely interesting to say about anything really.

Hence the reason you find yourself reading this post today. I was not willing to skip yet another week. The anxiety would be too much. I’ve committed to this blog like I’ve committed to a relationship (which I suppose this is-between me and all of you wonderful, patient readers). I’m determined not to flake out on you guys.

It’s not like I was feeling depressed. Quite the opposite, really. Life has been peachy as of late. Rabbie has been making more and more sales on their online site and is positioned to take Karl the cat and move on out of here. Like soon. As in we’re heading downtown Denver tomorrow actually to view the first new potential pad.

The other kid, despite being unemployed (directly related to the Covid-19 pandemic) is doing well also. She’s enjoying having more time at home, more time to herself. She’s making ends meet thanks to unemployment benefits and actively searching for solid employment. She had an interview recently for a job that she is very excited about. The pay is higher than her previous job and the benefits are quite outstanding.

Our 7 year old grandson is thriving! He’s been in a new school for a couple of months now and for the first time is excited to go to school every day. His mom held a birthday bash for him last month at the local roller skating rink and it was reported to have been quite the fun bash.

Work at the food pantry is going well. My boss and I are continuously procuring food and distributing it to those in need. I scored us a hefty sum via a state sponsored Covid-19 grant and will be procuring even more food over the next several months.

As far as writing for this blog goes, I’ve gone back to writing whatever it is I’m thinking about each morning directly after I hit the shower. Before I allow myself to go down any social media rabbit holes. And I’ve been writing more at night, after work and before supper. Luckily, my family is agreeable to eating supper as late as 7 p.m.

I am working on a new blog post. It’s the kind where I challenge myself to delve into a topic that piques my curiosity. The kind that takes some actual time and effort, unlike this post you are currently reading. The hope is it’ll be ready for publication next Wednesday.

As Bonnie would say to me over the phone after breathlessly telling me all the latest in her world, “that’s my stories..how are you doing?”

Let me leave you with a new little ditty from one of my all time favorite singer-songwriters, Carole King. Can you believe she is 79?

Looking Forward

This past year, I found myself in a place where, for the first time in my life, I believe I understood what depression feels like. I put full blame for this on the Covid-19 pandemic. It really threw a wrench in my moods and my attitude.

I think it showed in some of my blog posts. Sorry about that.

Sure, I started a new job back in August and that lifted my spirits, infused me with some energy and ambition. But the days became the same it seemed. While for the most part, I liked (and still do like) having a daily routine, I often felt bored. Uninspired. Unmotivated. My interest in things I historically enjoyed doing waxed and waned.

I believe one reason behind this is that I didn’t have anything to really look forward to. No concrete plans. No fun activities on the immediate horizon. Unlike a post I penned back in 2018.

You can all relate, right?

What helped, especially on those particularly “blah” days, was saying out loud what I am glad about. Sort of like the “Glad Game” I’ve heard about from the “Pollyanna” movie which I have not yet seen (what is wrong with me???!!)

Typically I would spout this out while driving our truck to work. Naturally, doing this was harder some days than others. But once I did it, my spirits lifted. My attitude shifted to one of gratitude. I recognize that sounds cheesy-but it’s the truth, Ruth.

Let me give you an example. As I started backing out of the garage one morning, I said “today I am glad that after work I’m getting a massage. And I had a good night’s sleep last night. And I started a new blog post”. It’s all just simple things, specific to that day. Focusing on what is truly good in the moment and not wishing things were different or thinking that they ought to be.

But now things are really starting to look up for me. For you, too, I think. We’ve got a new administration in the People’s House who is taking this pandemic head-on. Covid-19 cases are starting to plummet. More and more of us are getting vaccinated (for me, as an essential worker, I ought to be getting my first dose by mid-March).

I may be jinxing it, getting ahead of myself…but I think it’s *safe* to begin to think about what there is to look forward to in the near-ish future. You know, those things we couldn’t do because the pandemic kept us home for the most part.

What’s on your list?

Here’s mine:

  • A date with Hubs, the scientist who has been far more informed and conscientious re: Covid-19 than most, to shop at Trader Joe’s in Boulder and have lunch at the nearby Panera.
  • Visiting our favorite local brew pub, Twenty Brew, which I am thankful is still in business. It’s been too long since we’ve been there to try new brews and visit with the owner, Dave, and his charming bartenders.
  • Chatting in person with our church friends at church. Hosting “coffee hour” where I get to share sweet goodies I made in the little kitchen in our townhome the day before.
  • A weekend in Idaho Springs with Hubs. Where we get to soak in the communal hot springs and check out the local cuisine and quirky shops. Maybe we will stay at Ms. Vicki ‘s B&B again.
  • A day trip to Estes Park. Hiking. Taking in the astonishingly beautiful scenery, both on the drive up and while hiking amidst it’s majesty.

Now I know that realistically some of these things will not happen anytime soon. If I’m extraordinarily fortunate, they will all take place before the end of the summer. But if only a portion of them happen, it’s all good.

If this pandemic has taught me anything, it’s to appreciate what is and to keep my expectations reasonable.

Late Bloomer

“It doesn’t matter when you bloom, it matters that you do”. This is a lyric in the song “Late Bloomer” by The Secret Sisters.

Isn’t it powerful? Sweet, comforting, encouraging?

I can relate to the message of this song. I feel that in a lot of ways, I am a “late bloomer”. Especially considering how long it took me to obtain my license as a social worker.

I was 40.

As a freshman English major at a state university in the 1980’s, I took an elective class entitled “Social Welfare”. Within probably a couple of months, I changed my major to Social Work. The idea of getting out there in the world and helping people in a tangible way really appealed to me. Learning more about the injustices in the world made me want to get out there and make a difference in struggling people’s lives. To fight for the rights of the disadvantaged.

I was going to be a Social Worker.

Fast forward about 20 years. I hadn’t achieved that goal yet. Upon graduating with my B.S. in Social Work, I found myself in great need of employment, as Hubs was still in school and only able to work part time. I was unable to find a job in Social Work in our college town, so I found myself working full time as a customer service rep.

Then came my first pregnancy, a short stint in Lubbock, Texas so Hubs could attend grad school, and then a very unexpected second pregnancy. We moved on back to Minnesota at that point so we could be closer to family while we navigated our journey to becoming a family of four.

Life for about the next eight years was a blur of Hubs working rotating shifts forecasting the weather and us doing our best to keep our kids fed, healthy, and safe. The only ambition I had was to earn money to ensure we could maintain a decent standard of living. My dream of becoming a social worker was put on the back burner and I fell into a couple more customer service jobs.

But the dream never really died. After being relocated to Wisconsin for a new job for Hubs, I was hired as a case manager for a non-profit which served adults with intellectual and physical disabilities. Finally I had an opportunity to work in the field that meant something to me. I made a lot of great friends and gained valuable experience in the eight years I worked there. The dream truly re-kindled itself during a staffing I attended for one of my clients with their social worker. I had an epiphany: there was nothing this social worker had over me other than a license.

So right around my 40th birthday, I drove to a nearby city and took and passed the test. I had never felt so confident about myself or more in charge of my future than I did in that moment.

I went on to have a great eight years working as a certified Social Worker at a managed care organization, serving adults with physical and intellectual disabilities as well as those with mental health diagnoses. I found myself using the skills and experience I gained in my customer service jobs as well as my case manager job.

I may not be working as a social worker any longer, but I’m blessed to be in a position where I’m connecting people in need to the food they and their families require to thrive, as a food pantry coordinator.

Who else out there identifies as a late bloomer? I’d absolutely love to hear your stories in the comments.

And of course, I’m sharing the song. The video is beyond precious.

*****Header image courtesy of https://knowledge.wharton.upenn.edu/article/do-good-things-come-to-late-bloomers/

Hometown Gem

Her name is Stephanie Himango and this is, ironically, the second time I’ve written about her in my life.

Stephanie and I both grew up in the small town of Two Harbors, Minnesota. She was two years below me in school. For that reason and the fact that she was sporty and I was most certainly not, we did not have any real interaction with each other. As far as I can remember anyway (this was like 35 years ago, folks).

As a senior at our long ago demolished high school that sat atop a hill, I was co-editor of the school newspaper. That extra-curricular sparked a passion in me for creating something out of nothing. A passion for written communication. One of my pieces then was about Homecoming. And in that piece I reported that Stephanie, as a sophomore, was in the Homecoming Court. I came upon that long forgotten factoid about a month ago when I was searching through a box of memorabilia, hoping to find pictures of Christmases past.

The reason I mention any of this at all is because in the summer of 2020 she accepted my friend request on Facebook. I had been made aware through mutual friends that over the years that Stephanie had made quite a name for herself career-wise. That she had a long career in the news industry, even winning a couple of Emmys as a writer and producer. She is also a published author.

Shortly after we became Facebook friends, Stephanie announced on social media that she was beginning her first ever podcast, entitled “Another Door Opens with Stephanie Himango”.

Stephanie promoted her podcast as being one in which she would interview a wide array of people from varying backgrounds to share their stories of overcoming life’s struggles and what, and as she says in each episode, “if anything”, the phrase “Another Door Opens” means to them personally. As if anyone she would interview would actually say that phrase means nothing to them! But that little qualifier exemplifies to me the genuine respect she has for her interviewees. She does not make any assumptions about them. She asks interesting questions and her enjoyment of asking them comes across through her voice as real and true.

So, as you can clearly see, I subscribed to Stephanie’s podcast. Stephanie interviewed everyone from a man who works as a sketch artist at SCOTUS to a veterinarian who treats pets of those experiencing homelessness to a woman who owns and runs her family’s pumpkin farm and much more. After listening to all of the episodes via Spotify (as of last week), I can tell you I’ve learned so much. I’ve been inspired. I’ve laughed. My eyes have been opened up about all the good stuff that people are out there doing with their lives. Kind of like David Byrne from the Talking Heads, who I wrote about here. Listening to Stephanie’s podcast brightened my days in the bananas year that was 2020.

Thanks for that, Stephanie. You are a Gem and I look forward to listening and learning from your podcast in the New Year. Maybe someday if we happen to be in our sweet little hometown (which in my opinion is home to lots of other interesting and inspiring people-maybe it’s something about that perfectly ice cold tap wonder we drank, courtesy of Lake Superior) at the same time, we will bump into each other. That’d be cool.

I encourage all of you reading this to check out “Another Door Opens with Stephanie Himango” and listen, learn and gain inspiration along with me.

I’ve no idea who this pretty young girl is, but I love the beautiful pictures of my home state and remember this song from my youth. Dontcha love the sound of the loons? The Minnesota state bird!

Unsung Heroes Of This Pandemic

What or who is helping you get through this pandemic? What or who is giving you comfort, helping you to remain hopeful, giving you purpose?

I am fortunate in that I have several answers to that question. One of them being my sweet boy, Radar.

It occurred to me recently that within this blog I had been sharing more anecdotes about Karl, our kiddo Rabbie’s sassy cat than I was about Radar. It also occurred to me that for many of us, our pets are the unsung heroes of this strange time.

They are always there for us. Always happy to see us. They don’t judge us for being in a cranky mood. They don’t judge us at all. They don’t ask much of us beyond loving them, ensuring they get outside for fresh air and potty breaks, and feeding them.

I wrote this post back in the summer of 2019, right after we adopted Radar. I loved him then but, amazingly enough, I love him even more now.

I love that he’s such a good boy at night. He fits perfectly into the rocking chair Hubs gave me for my 40th birthday, which now sits in the corner of our bedroom. He sleeps there all night long and when he gets up he offers a big yawn, revealing his extraordinarily long tongue and then he thoroughly stretches out his legs.

I love that when I come home after work, he is the first one to greet me. I only just begin to open the door, and there he is with his nose butting up between the door and the door frame in an effort to get to me as fast as he can.

I love how sometimes when he’s cuddled up with me on the couch at night, I can say his name and he cranks his neck to look at me upside down with his pretty brown eyes.

I love knowing that he is by nature a guard dog (at least half German Shepherd we believe). He would protect us if our house were to be broken into. Any intruders would not have a chance.

Keeping an eye out for the bad guys

I love his puppy playfulness. Hubs and I have never had a dog who loves to play with toys so much. Hubs always told me he wanted to have a dog he could take out into a field and throw around a frisbee with. Radar has gotten some solid training for this through jumping up to catch his favorite, super tough green and blue bone in mid-air at home in the early evenings.

I love Radar’s ears. Sometimes I find them folded back (or I gently fold them back) and I see that sweet black lab in his precious face. Then they will bounce straight back up, revealing his German Shepherd resemblance.

I also love that he’s the kind of dog that everyone loves. Every place we’ve ever taken him he charms all who he meets.

This dog has been such a blessing for me. He reminds me of the importance of playfulness in my day to day routine. He makes me feel appreciated. He comforts me if I’m feeling down. He has increased my general happiness, which has been a huge bonus during this upside down time we are still living in.

He’s my furry, loyal, funny, sweet, smart and loving hero.

The Year That Was

Pardon me for using the most frequently uttered word of 2020 here: but what an unprecedented year this has been. For me, for you, for all of us. All because of a virus, whose name shall not be mentioned because I know we are all sick of hearing it.

I am ready to usher in the new year, as I know we all are.

Beyond (or in some cases because of) this pandemic, plenty of unprecedented things happened in my world the last 12 (or should I say 9?) months:

I unexpectedly lost one job and gained another. Now I’m back to running a food pantry again, a job I never knew I could love so much.

We bought a camper! It was as much as “seizing the moment because we’ve always wanted one and who knows how many moments we have left” as it was “now we have the security of a home on wheels if we need to flee the country”.

I broke my first bone! On account of falling onto the pavement due to a rare combination of poor judgement and general clumsiness. I was fortunate in that the bone healed up pretty darn well after wearing a walking boot for 6 weeks. Who knew that in 2020 I’d gain such an appreciation for wearing two matching shoes?

I learned that sometimes gifts I give to someone can wind up being a gift for myself and both sides of my family as well as my spouses side. Yep, I got Rabbie, that kid of mine who studied history for almost three years at a state university, a subscription to Ancestry.com for Christmas. Now on the daily we are hearing fascinating stories about how my great great great great great great great great Grandmother Mary Chilton came over on the Mayflower. And other stories like how brothers Ira and Samuel Dickenson (Ira being my great great great great Grandfather, on my Dad’s side like Mary), came upon a bear in the woods in 1832 and proceeded to beat it with a cane. Word is their beating of this bear led him to become so docile that he became an exhibit at the zoo.

Don’t be surprised to read more stories of my ancestors adventures as 2021 unfolds.

Then there was the death and resurrection of Karl the cat. Back in November, he came down with a double ear infection. Poor little dude. Shortly thereafter, despite having started antibiotics, he developed pneumonia. Apparently it may be true that cats have 9 lives, because this one actually died on the couch one morning when I was at work. Hubs came to the rescue however and performed mouth to mouth resuscitation on him, inflating his little kitty lungs with enough air to revive him. He was rushed to the pet ER where he spent the night on oxygen. He came back home sassier than before, ready to climb on everything and taunt Radar.

All in all, it wasn’t for me the worst of years I suppose. It surely was an interesting one though. Let’s hope 2021 is interesting too. But in different, better ways, right?

Happy New Year!!

***Header image courtesy of https://cdacmohali.in/goodbye-2020-welcome-2021-images-quotes-wishes-status-whatsapp-dp/

Embracing The Merry

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**