Lifting ’em up

When I began considering starting my own blog, I knew that I wanted it to have a positive spin. If you have read any of my blog posts thus far, it should be clear that I am by nature an optimist. In fact, the name of my blog “Pollyanna’s Path” was inspired by a former co-worker of mine, who often referred to me as “Pollyanna”. Her  motivation to refer to me that way was likely a combination of sarcasm  and sheer annoyance of my sunny outlook on life. I chose to see it as a compliment. That’s how I roll.

Now don’t get me wrong-my sunny outlook has it limits. It turns a bit cloudy when I read about our new “fool in chief” ( no need to name names here) tweets outrageous lies that I fear may not be called out and disproven by the press. My outlook can take a dark turn when I read stories on NPR about DACA kids going to college and now having legitimate concerns that their (oftentimes hard-working) parents may be deported back to a country they fled many years ago for the opportunities America could provide them. And stories about hate crimes targeting someone who is different from their attackers, whether it be racially, religiously, or because of their sexual orientation, make me feel less than hopeful.

However, there are lots of good things happening all around us, people. That is why I am announcing my new feature, which is called “Lifting ’em up”. Having this regular feature on my blog serves two purposes-it forces me to seek out people out there who are being brave, kind, emotionally intelligent, creative and compassionate. This helps me to maintain and nurture my optimism. Then when I write a blog post about these people and their positive impacts on the world I get the pleasure of giving them their due credit, which perhaps could inspire both me and my readers to pass on some good juju.

Seems like a good plan to me. Stay tuned!

It’s that time of the year

I love that spring is now afoot. Especially delightful hallmarks of this season for me include more hours of daylight, birds chirping away in the trees in our neighborhood, and the promise of new life. Spring also makes me a little antsy for a good old fashioned road trip. Over the course of my life, I have been fortunate enough to have several memorable road trips in the spring, some with family and some with friends.

My earliest recollection of a spring road trip was in 1974, when I was 7. My parents decided to take me and my siblings, who were 15 and 17 at the time, and my Grandma (aka Pearl Pearl the Party Girl), on a road trip to visit family in Phoenix. We drove from our home in northern Minnesota in a family caravan of sorts, with my aunt and uncle and their kids in their own car. My sister, brother (who was six feet tall with the longest, skinniest legs you have ever seen), and I sat squished together in the backseat of Dad’s sedan ( I think it was a Chevy Impala) for the long trek to Arizona, with the two family’s cars switching out Grandma Pearl for a kid during pit stops along the way. I remember singing along to songs like “Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on My Head”, “Knock Three Times”, and “Cracklin’ Rosie” while gazing at the totally foreign-to -me landscape of cacti-infused deserts. As this was long before portable DVD players and Iphones, we played “car games” to prevent boredom. If someone smelled a skunk on the road, we would play “I smell a skunk” with someone responding “I won it”, the someone else would chime in “I two it”, and so on until the last responder would exclaim “I eight it!” (get it? “I ate it!) Or we’d play the “alphabet game” where we’d spy letters from a-z on road signs and license plates. The winner was whoever got to “z” first. Or we’d count how many red, blue, or black cars we could find. Ah, those were simple times!  The most memorable part of this trip, however, is when we lost Grandma at Disneyland. What a stellar moment for our family.  I can never hope to tell this story in as much glorious detail as my mother could, but suffice it to say that my parents thought my aunt, uncle and cousins transported Grandma back to the motel we were all staying at, and vice versa. Everyone was confused and horrified to learn that Grandma was nowhere to be found. She came back a few hours later in a taxi and she was not a happy woman. Apparently, she made sure to tell the story of her family abandoning her at Disneyland to the motel owner upon her return. This is not a surprise as she tended to be a pretty ornery (I say this with love) broad. According to my mom,  several years later, when she and dad  went to check into the same motel on a trip to California, the motel owner exclaimed “I know you! You are the ones that lost Grandma in Disneyland”.

My one and only college springtime road trip involved a harrowing drive with my roommate/sorority sister from Minnesota to Pascagoula, Mississippi, during which the driver (not me) decided on a couple of occasions that it was a good idea to read her map whilst speeding down unfamiliar highways. I’m pretty certain that was the first time my life actually flashed before my eyes. Fortunately, we made it to Pascagoula, where we partied the nights away with my friend’s boyfriend and his Marine buddies, and soaked up the Mississippi sun on our plastic loungers during the day.

dsc00473
Alabama 2002

As a wife and mom through the 90’s and 00’s, I recall many fun family road trips. There was the time when our girls were still in elementary school, and the four of us drove to see my folks, who were staying in Alabama for the winter. The trip down was a blur of crummy fast food, stopping every hour or two for our youngest to use the facilities (mostly out of boredom we suspected), singing along to the radio (before there was Sirius XM), and playing the “alphabet game”. We spent a lot of quality time with my folks and all got to swim in the ocean together for the first time. And my husband bought a (mismarked) surfboard with a “Corona” logo on it for $9.99. He only used it while we were there, since we lived in Minnesota at the time, where of course there are no oceans.

As an empty nester couple for the past 4 years or so, we have enjoyed some really cool road trips as well. Like the times we drove from our home in Wisconsin to visit Colorado, stopping over in places like Omaha and North Platte, where we discovered some great restaurants, wine bars, and tap rooms. With spring upon us, I’m looking forward to some shorter road trips with the hubs to explore parts of Colorado and nearby states. I am relatively confident that these trips will not include crummy fast food, near death driving experiences, or one of us being abandoned at an amusement park. We shall see…

Road Tripping

Lesson #4: How to be gracious

Earlier this week, I read a great post from another blogger, who pointed out lessons to be learned from the major flub with the announcement of the Best Picture Oscar last Sunday night. Now, I did watch the entire event live but clicked off the t.v. right after Faye Dunaway announced that La La Land had won. So I was quite surprised the next morning to read about this mishap. When I watched the clip of what went down, I was struck by the gracious way the filmmaker of La La Land conducted himself.

I imagine myself in a similar (but yet totally different) scenario: I’ve just won the “Best Blogger” award at a fancy schmancy award ceremony. I’m absolutely gobsmacked and floating on air as I glide onto the stage and thank all of those who have supported me. Then I sense some commotion going on behind me. There’s a sense of confusion in the air. I can’t quite make out what exactly is off here. As I’ve finished blubbering all over my beautifully ornate rented jewelry and figure flattering ball gown and hand the mike over to one of my associates (by this point I must have one or two of these right?),  I step over to the side of the stage and begin to understand that I didn’t actually win. I freeze in my tracks. My heart is pounding in my ears, I feel nauseous, and I just want to run off the stage like a madwoman, crawl into a hole and die. Now, the description of how I would very likely feel in this precise circumstance, I realize, is not necessarily how the filmmaker of La La Land felt. But I think it’s safe to assume he had some measure of uncomfortable emotions going on under that tuxedo.

The deal is, just like in my fictional version of winning then losing a very prestigious award, once the initial shock and horror subsided, this filmmaker had a choice to make about how he would respond. And he chose to be gracious. He chose to grab that envelope and proclaim that “Moonlight” actually won Best Picture. He then went on to say that he was going to be “proud to give this award to my friends from Moonlight”. He could have chosen to storm off the stage. He could have chosen to punch someone’s lights out. He could have chosen to go on a diatribe about how unfair or unprofessional this all was. Many of us would have on some level at least understood if he had chosen to react in any of those ways. However, he chose to be gracious. What a tremendous example of how to handle yourself in public in an emotionally intelligent way. I hope that if I’m ever in this type of circumstance myself (like when I win that coveted “Best Blogger” award), I will remember his example of how to respond.

Things that make my heart smile (in list form)

IMG_20150502_135745720.jpg

  1. Communicating non-verbally with babies in public (think church, the airport, grocery stores)
  2. The alluring smell of Thanksgiving turkey coming out of my oven.
  3. Listening to Stevie Wonder songs. Literally any of them.
  4. Looking at funny pics of my spawn in their younger days.
  5. Watching news stories about faith communities helping each other out in times of trouble (think recent stories about Jews helping Muslims and vice versa after experiencing vandalism in cemeteries and fires in mosques). These stories increase my faith in humanity and in God.
  6. Watching quirky, uplifting movies (ex: Moonrise Kingdom, St. Vincent, Love Actually)
  7. Petting dogs.
  8. Positive adoption stories (both the two legged and four legged kind)
  9. Shopping at thrift stores (often it’s a win-win as many, such as Goodwill or Arc employ people with developmental disabilities and I save tons of money and reduce my impact on the environment).
  10. Gazing at the beautiful Colorado skies.
  11.  Sipping a lovely glass of red wine at the end of a long day.
  12. Finding a great self help book and actually getting something out of it!
  13. Older women in public that are dressed to the nines. Reminds me of my Grandma on my dad’s side (my cousins nicknamed her “Pearl Pearl the Party Girl” but “Glamma” would have been an appropriate moniker too).
  14. Exploring new cities with my exceedingly amazing other half.
  15. Sitting  with the other half in a boat on a lake in Wisconsin or Minnesota on a warm sunny day. Or on a beach in Florida on a warm sunny day.
  16. Volunteering (food banks, Habitat for Humanity, serving meals to the homeless)
  17. Redheads (not sure what that’s about to be honest)
  18. When I make someone laugh!
  19. When I see strangers doing kind things for other strangers in public (holding the door for an elderly person, people that  happily allow someone that has way fewer things in their grocery cart cut ahead of them,  those awesome millennial gals who were providing free hugs to those of us on our way to a rally supporting Muslims a few Saturdays ago).
  20. The smell of freshly brewed coffee in the morning.
  21. Spending quality time with the other half of me, our  spawn, our beautiful grandson, extended family near and far, and all those friends we’ve collected along the way.

My sincere hope for anyone reading this is that you are able to, despite all your personal day to day stressors and the fear inspired noise going on in the world today, remain in touch with those things that make your heart smile too. Your heart and soul will be so much better for it. Trust me.

 

Let me get to the point here

So I’ve been charged as a student of Blogger University to write a post about why I’ve decided to start a blog.

And here I go….

I love writing. I have kept a journal throughout much of my life, with some breaks here and there to focus on more pressing projects, such as raising two kids with my husband and working full time as a social worker for several years. I found this practice to be useful in capturing my feelings and sorting them out. I also spent a good portion of my childhood, from about age 10 to 16, sitting in solitude in my bedroom atop my yellow and white gingham checkered canopy bed, writing SNL inspired sketches, song lyrics, and some pretty dismal poetry. I also enjoyed some time in high school on the newspaper staff. I even had my own little advice column called “Dear Agnes”. It’s fair to say that writing is an essential part of who I am.

Lucky for me, I have been gifted with the blessing of time at this point in my life. I am a free agent. For the moment at least, I do not have a need to produce any income, which is thanks to my husband  and his super big and smart brain that he uses to earn a good income with his job, where he uses science to achieve the ultimate goal of saving lives from severe weather. So in the words of the Rolling Stones, “Tiiiime is on my side, yes it is”. At least for now anyway. Change is always afoot in my opinion (see previous post entitled “Ch ch ch Changes” for more on that).

Another important factor which motivates me to blog is that I want to connect with other people out there in the world. I am a very social being. I get much of my energy from interacting with other people and I’m very curious about people by nature. Blogging allows me to engage socially in a way I could never have imagined possible.

My hope with this blog is that I can inspire someone. Even just a little bit. This inspiration could be something as simple as a post about how I, a novice wannabe home based “chef”, created a delicious tiramisu cheesecake. Or a post about how I started volunteering in my new home community at the local food bank. Or a post about the self-help tricks I have come up with that have allowed me to start getting over my own shit.  I believe wholeheartedly that every one of this on this great big planet called Earth has their own shit to deal with and stands to benefit by hearing the stories of others, such as myself, to assure them that they are not all by their lonesomes.

I also fervently hope that I can make my readers laugh. I am a big believer in the power of laughter. Nothing can change my attitude quicker than a good solid belly laugh, the kind that induces water works from at least one if not two orifices.

Above all, as Vincent Van Gogh stated many many moons ago “I am seeking. I am striving.I am in it with all my heart”.

 

 

 

Calling b.s. on “Live each day as if it were your last”

Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius is credited with the quote “Live each day as if it were your last”.

While many may believe this is a powerful, inspirational, motivating quote, for me at least it’s bullshit.

If I personally were to take this literally, my last day on earth would include the following:

As I would only have 24 hours to work with which doesn’t allow enough time to get on a flight to Minnesota, Wisconsin, or anywhere for that matter, I would call or video chat everyone I love to tell them goodbye. It would be terribly emotional and heart wrenching.

Once I collected myself from that activity, I would proceed to consume the following food and drink (in no particular order) : french fries, gourmet chocolate cake, lasagna, pizza, twizzlers, red wine, hot fudge sundae, chicken quesadillas, cheesecake, craft beer, warm chocolate chip cookies, Starbucks coffee, and cinnamon rolls.

Then after thoroughly puking my guts out, I’d listen to my favorite music. Picking artists and songs and listening to them would take up quite a large part of whatever is left of my last day on earth. However, the music would give me energy to press on to more important activities. Like spending time outdoors with my other half/best friend/best hubby ever. And then of course, a little hanky panky would be in order.

I would then proceed to spend time furiously writing checks to all of my favorite charities along with my two spectacularly wonderful adult children.

At that point, I would be ready to engage in having some fun and laughing so hard I’d be peeing my pants, such as watching favorite SNL clips from years gone by or random YouTube videos of toddlers, puppies, kittens, and goats doing hilariously adorable things on camera. That would then prompt me to seek out the nearest neighborhood dogs and small children so I could pet and interact with them (okay, maybe I wouldn’t actually pet the small children, that’d be wacko).

I would cap off my last day on earth with singing songs with or to Christopher (my beautiful grandson who turns 3 today) via video chat.

Then I would call it a day and presumably croke.

However, I would quite likely wake up the next  morning (okay noon, but let’s be real here, yesterday was jam freaking packed!). So would begin another “last day on earth”.  Oh the anxiety!! Good Lord!

So….this is my alternative to “live every day as if it is your last”:

Love as if every day is your last”

As in…..as much as humanly possible:

Be kind to everyone you come into contact with.

Bake something yummy to share with friends/neighbors/co-workers.

Tell those you love what you love about them.

Give something you have (something you really love) to someone who needs it more than you.

Pass on favorite books, movies, or music to someone you know will treasure them as much as you do.

Smile and say “Hi” to strangers

Be radically hospitable to visitors to your home.

Pet stranger’s dogs

Lift up the good deeds others are doing.

I, for one, prefer to love as it if was my last day as an earthly being. Living “as if” it was my last day is far too exhausting. To me, loving every day as if it was your last is better than living as if it was.

 

 

Deep Thoughts about Turning 50 (in list form-I love making lists!)

  1. 20170131_185008-1Holy crap!! I’m 50?!
  2. Fun fact: Sometimes I pee a little when I sneeze really hard now.
  3. Reading glasses are now a permanent part of my daily ensemble.
  4. Wearing sweatpants in public is now completely acceptable to me.
  5. As a married woman with a not too shabby sex life, I no longer have to be worried about becoming pregnant (‘course that ship sailed long ago..but still, it’s a pretty cool perk).
  6. I now think before I eat so I make better food choices than I used to. With the exception of the piece of gourmet chocolate birthday cake which was  most certainly bigger than my head (and possibly my ass, combined) when I thought “I’m going to eat this whole thing because, well, it’s my birthday-duh!”)
  7. Regular massages are simply. The. Best. Thing. Ever. (well, except for gourmet chocolate birthday cake).
  8. I’m cool with being a grandma now. Way more fun than being a parent for sure! As my mother in law has said “if I had known how much fun being a grandparent was, I would have done that first!” Not like that makes any real sense of course, but you get the gist.
  9. I have way more to write about at age 50, than let’s say, aged 27 and 3/4.
  10. I’ve got less time to waste (which can be anxiety producing or motivating as hell, depending on my mood that day).

It’s all about perspective, right people?

Tales from a 50 year old optimist recently transplanted from Wisconsin to Colorado. Finding silver linings, lifting others up, sharing positively good stuff

%d bloggers like this: