Friday, December 30, 2011

Happy New Year!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

I resolve

I made a few resolutions for 2011. Looking back on the list - I didn't do half bad. I did get paid to write/blog (OK - not a lot,  but I cleverly didn't assign a dollar figure to my goal). I went to the gym more, ate less chocolate - though I still have a ways to go in my quest to make healthier choices.

I did eventually get through that mail, and as I type this, my desk is mail-free (go me!). I had money for Christmas that kept me out of debt.

I attended several seminars and non-insurance-related meetings, to educate myself in a new social media endeavor.

Not too shabby, if I do say so myself. Since I'm on a roll, this year, I resolve:

- To leave Sephora at least once without spending more than $100.

- To drink tart cherry juice at least once a day. Studies show it helps arthritis pain in the knees - and I have plenty of that!

- Go to the gym at least 3 times a week.

- Add one client. I need to start making my part-time gig a full-time gig, in case I lose my job.

- Use Ebay to sell my Barbie collection, and purge all the non-essentials from my spare room. Part of this little project will be the community garage sale in May. Assuming I still live in my current neighborhood. Speaking of..

- Sell my house. Seems like it might be time.

One things for sure...2012 won't be boring. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

No Words Wednesday: Faith, Hope, Love

Hoping you found a little faith, hope
and love under your tree, too.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

One day at a time

"The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time." Abraham Lincoln

If someone told me a year ago that I would be this happy at the end of 2011 - I would have thought him crazy. The truth is, sometimes life is like that - it gets really, really dark, just before the light breaks.

It happened after my divorce, too. I never thought things could be good again - and I certainly never believed I'd be happier. Then someone gave me a print with Lincoln's quote - and I found hope I never thought possible.

There's a lot of hope, and faith, in that statement. Having faith in the future gives us hope that things can, and will, change for the better. You just have to be willing to open yourself up to the possibility that something good is right around the corner. You have to accept that it might not happen exactly how or when you expect.

Find hope in the fact that, even though things might be bad now - you just never know what might happen next. If you aren't happy, believe that you can, and will, be in the future. Trust that the world will give you what you need, and put you on the path where you belong.

Now, when things are looking bad, I remind myself of where I've been - and where I am. I think about how, at one point, I never thought things could be okay again - and how now, they're better than ever. When I look at it that way - I'm filled with more peace and hope than I ever thought was possible.

Tomorrow may just be the best day of your life - you just have to get there.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Airing of grievances

I feel like I've been shopping forever. Honestly, I can't remember the last time I didn't stop at Target at least once a day, and according to Foursquare, I've been to a mall at least once a week, every week, for the last month.

I love to shop - but when there's this much of it to do, it can get a little frustrating. Especially since people, in general, get less and less happy, and polite, as crunch time approaches.

Since today is Festivus - a holiday for the rest of us - I thought I'd air some of my shopping grievances.

- When I have a basket, instead of a cart, I need to empty its contents, then place the empty basket in that pile at the beginning of the counter. If you get thisclose to me, you're blocking my way. Why? You can see I have a basket, and you know what happens next. Back off, bub.

* Speaking of backing off...when we approach a door that pulls open, if you get so close to me that you're practically slamming me against the door, I can't open it. Back up. Sheesh.

~  And while we're on that subject - once I've opened the door, don't grab it from me. I'm holding onto it; you're messing with my balance. Why don't you just knock me over while you're at it?

- Hey you, who just left your cart in the middle of the parking lot - the corral is right there. I bet you also complain when your car gets dinged, or there aren't any carts in the store when you need one, huh?

* Stop talking on the phone when you're at the check-out. It's rude to the cashier, the other people in line, and the person on the other end of your call. Talking about the ugly sweater your coworker wore to the office party can totally wait the three minutes it will take to complete this transaction.

Okay....that's all I got. Feel free to add yours below.

Happy Festivus!!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Dear Santa...

I've heard that some people think there comes a point where we're too old to make a list for Santa. To that, I say - no FREAKING way.

OK, if you don't want to ask for toys, or even sit on a stranger's lap to make the request, I guess I can see that point. But no Christmas wishes? Next you'll want me to stop wishing on stars, birthday candles and eyelashes.

What kind of world is that?!

Besides, I gotta say, other than the shoes (for which the link no longer works, by the way), Santa totally hooked me up on last year's list. Did everything show up exactly as I pictured? No. But sometimes Santa, like God, gives us what we need, when we need it - not necessarily what we think we want.

Point is - I couldn't be happier this Christmas, and since I got my wishes from last year, I'm going to go ahead and make some wishes again this year. Humor me.

- A new TV. Mine has a 15" screen, which was fine for a second TV, but doesn't make as good a main TV. I'd really like one that has a wifi card built-in; and if it's not too much trouble, a built-in DVD player wouldn't be the worst thing, either.

- The gloves that allow you to use the touchscreen on a smart phone. I got the phone I asked for last year, and I use it all the time. And now my fingers are cold.

- A fun date for New Year's Eve. It doesn't have to be fancy; so long as I'm with the right person.

- Health and happiness for my friends and family. OK - this is straight from last year's list. But some are still going through a rough time, and I still want them to be happy, and healthy. Please and thank you.

- A new client. You found me brought me helped me create a new job for myself. Now I need to turn it into a full time gig.

- Yankee tickets. These are never easy to come by, so I'm putting in my order early.

- Some extra will power on the whole diet and fitness project. Turns out, I may have to wear a swim suit...on a front of people this year. Help!

That should do it for me, Santa. Oh - and if you could hook up anyone who leaves their list below, that'd be great, too.

I'll leave the milk and cookies in the kitchen as usual. Try not to step on the cats when you're passing through.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Discovering Christmas

I have no idea how it happened, but somehow, The Bear Who Slept Through Christmas has escaped my Christmas specials radar all these years. It makes no sense; it was made in 1973 - so I should have been watching it all along.

Thankfully, someone introduced me to it this weekend.

The bears are all supposed to begin hibernation at half past December, but that means they'll miss Christmas - again! Theodore E. Bear (Get it?) doesn't want to miss it this year. Instead of going to sleep, he stays awake and goes in search of Christmas.

Ted gets to the big city and who should he bump into? Santa, who explains:

Christmas is a very important thing to discover - but you won't find it on a map. It's inside yourself. 
You see, Christmas isn't a place or a thing, or even a time. It's something you carry around in your heart; a way of acting towards others, a way of feeling about the world. Christmas is a way of giving.

I used to get caught up in the "stuff" surrounding Christmas. I let obligations and responsibilities ruin what the season should really be about. Spending my first Christmas solo several years ago, that point was driven home; it's a lesson I won't soon forget.

This Christmas is different; I'm getting a chance to really experience the holiday as it should be - not crazy shopping (though I'm doing my share of that), over-spending, running all over to please others, or killing myself with decorations.

I'm spending my holiday enjoying the people most important to me - and cherishing the time we have together.

I'm discovering Christmas.

Monday, December 19, 2011

The look of love

I was with my favorite people over the weekend. I got wonderful presents - but more importantly, I spent some time catching up with my cousin, while she and I shopped in our favorite store.

The only thing better was giving her son his Christmas present - something he'd specifically told Santa he really wanted. I spoke to Santa a couple of weeks ago, and he assured me that he had plenty for my cousin to open on Christmas morning, and if I wanted to give him this gift, I would definitely not be raining on Santa's parade.

I got the biggest smile, and the biggest hug, for giving this present. Don't get me wrong - I love to receive presents. But there's a lot to be said for the joy you feel when you give a present that someone really wanted.

It fills me with love - and reminds me what Christmas - and Santa - are really all about.

It also reminded me of this post from last year. Thought I'd share.

Remember - if you don't believe, you don't receive.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Love your body

"The point of our site is body acceptance, and stopping the cycle of body hate teens and women feel, largely because of media and ad campaigns."

That's from a comment Brittany from Curvy Girl Guide made in response to Amanda Talar's post about an article that appeared on CGG on December 12.

In a nutshell, the article takes issue with a Victoria's Secret campaign titled "I love my body" and the recent fashion show, which the company shows annually.

Amanda makes some very valid points - including that the article could be seen as a curvy girl tearing down the skinny girls. I didn't read it that way, but it doesn't mean that someone else might not. While I was in complete support of the article at first, the idea that it comes across as judgmental does make me stop and think.

If the focus is purely on how media influences body image, then I get it. The article doesn't look at the women individually, but the campaign as a whole, and to me that's understandable. That's how I took it; as a commentary on the campaign. The VS message is about what's sexy, and since all the women in the ads fit a certain mold, the message is that is sexy - and nothing else.

I take issue with that message, and I applaud a site like CGG for doing what they can to show an alternative to women and young girls. Why? Because I grew up a "curvy" girl. I've struggled with my weight my whole life, and was made fun of horribly as a child. So much so that at 13, I considered ending my life because a classmate called me "fat and worthless."

There were no Curvy Girl Guides then; hell, there weren't even plus-size stores. I had two choices - be thin, or feel bad about myself. So to me, the mission to improve body images, particularly in young girls, and give them a place to go where they can feel good about themselves, is a noble one.

However - I don't agree that it's ever okay for women to tear each other down. I'm so used to the idea that people are made fun of for being overweight, I suppose it doesn't occur to me that people are also made fun of for being underweight. But just because I haven't experienced it doesn't mean it doesn't happen. It also doesn't make it any less hurtful than things people have said to me.

I support the message that we should love ourselves, and our bodies, no matter what; I don't support the idea that self-esteem comes from tearing someone else down. Ever.

Personally, I also don't think the media is the problem. Well - not the source of the problem, anyway. The message that thin is beautiful is popular, and the media uses that to sell. Why? Because that's what we buy. Is that the media's fault? No - they take their cues from us.

So whose fault is it if Victoria's Secret's ads make me feel bad about myself? Since I'm a grown-up - I guess it's mine. What about a young girl? That's different. She should be learning positive body image, and how to build her own self-esteem, so that when she's a grown-up, VS doesn't make her feel bad.

I guess the idea behind the CGG mission is that the media has a responsibility to encourage that positive body-image, and promote  self-esteem. I can see that point - I just don't necessarily agree.

Does the media influence hurtful opinions and words, like the ones from my classmate? Maybe. But the media doesn't determine what people find appealing. Maybe the media sends the message that it's okay to judge others for not meeting certain criteria. Maybe it influences how women's bodies are viewed. But people are entitled to their opinion, and the media its message.

Yes, it would be great if the media supported all things positive - but that's not reality. In the end, what matters is each person taking control of her own self-esteem, and finding a positive way to share her own message. I think the focus should be on teaching women and teens how to love themselves, learn to do what's right for their own bodies, and not worry about what other people, or the media, seem to think.

The focus should be on learning to manage the message, not control it. Because in the end, all we really control is our own reaction, anyway.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

A reason to celebrate

You can't choose your family. 

I remind myself of this fact every time my family disappoints me. That actually happens a lot - I'm quite different from most of my relatives, especially when it comes to political, social, religious or economic views. You know - life. 

When you don't always see eye to eye with people, you don't always like them. That's true of family, friends, coworkers - anyone. But even when I don't like my family - I still love them. Especially those with whom I'm very close.

My Uncle has been part of my life since the day I was born. He's my God-Father, my Dad's closest friend and relative, and was even X's Best Man in our wedding. He's always been there for me. 

Earlier this year, he was quite sick - like, in the hospital-for-several-months sick. More than once, we wondered not when, but if, he would come home. He did a complete 180 after being unconscious for almost 2 weeks; everyone was impressed with his turn-around and improvement. 

We were just relieved. 

I pride myself on knowing how to cherish my relationships, and how lucky I am to have them. But I don't think anyone realizes how much a person means until you come thisclose to losing him. 

This year, when I sat down to Thanksgiving dinner, I think it was the first time in my life when I fully understood what it means to be thankful for something. Of course, I've been grateful, and realized how lucky I am. I have good friends and family, a lot of laughter and smiles, and the "stuff" I really like. I know how it feels to hit rock-bottom, and come back stronger. So of course I've been thankful before. 

But this year, it was different. I felt truly blessed to have my family together for the holiday. I realized for moment how empty the table almost felt - how different the day could have been. It felt like we really had a reason to celebrate. 

Happy Birthday, Uncle Jack!

Monday, December 12, 2011


Last week, I was talking about how you have to be open to receiving good in your life, before it can show up. That reminded me of something a friend once said to me - something she would tell her kids when they would question if Santa was real.
If you don't believe - you don't receive.
The message isn't all that different from the Pastor's sermon from that week.

Christmas is a time to be joyful, and thankful, and happy. It's a time to recognize the magic that's in our lives, and all the good that we have to celebrate. It's the one time of the year when everyone can look at the world through a child's eyes, and see everything with excitement and happiness.

People may laugh at how much I like Christmas; and I'm sure they chuckle when I tell them I still believe in Santa. But the truth is, whether you're celebrating a renewal of faith, or the one time of year when wishes come true - it's all magic.

Isn't that what Santa is? Magic? Isn't it about believing that good things are possible, and good things come to those who are good? Don't we all deserve at least one day a year to renew our faith - in God, or life, or magic, or happiness - or whatever we need the most? Don't we all deserve to stop for a minute, and just let ourselves hope?

Yes, I believe we do.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Receive the good

You may remember that I went to church a few weeks back. Since my presence didn't cause the building to buckle under, and since I'm enjoying the experience - and the company - I've been back every week since.

Something that this Pastor has been able to do, that no other Pastor/Minister/Priest/Whatever has done before is make his sermon relevant to my life. He gets me thinking, and questioning, and wondering if I'm not 100% right. That alone is impressive - just ask anyone who knows me.

This past week, he was talking about how people "strive" to find God; that they put in effort and work to achieve a place in God's grace. The Pastor says we miss the point when we try to "achieve" God - that He is something you receive, not achieve.

Basically, the message was that, as long as you're open to receiving God into your life, you can. No questions asked.

If you think about it - that really applies to just about any good thing in life. When you're depressed, and convinced there's no hope, nothing to look forward to, and no reason to be happy - you're completely closed off from the possibility that something good could happen. If you're closed off - how will you recognize the good when it presents itself?

It doesn't matter if you're looking for good results from a diet, or want to meet someone new, or get a promotion, or buy your first house. You have to open yourself up to the possibility before you'll find whatever good you're looking for.

That message makes sense, and it's important to all of us - no matter where it's learned.

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Santa is like God

Over the summer, my cousins and I were discussing with their 8-year-old son what he might like to get for Christmas.

Right there in the pool on that August evening, my favorite little kid looked up into the sky, and said, "Santa..." as if he was going to put in his request, right there and then.

Mom laughed, and said, "...but Santa isn't God." Then dad said, "Well, Santa is like God - but with more immediate consequences."

Now, we all know Santa isn't God - or even like Him, for that matter. But if you think about it - there are some glaring similarities.
  • Both judge behavior based on specified criteria
  • Both keep tabs on everyone - and a list, apparently
  • Both have if this, then that consequences for your actions 
  • Both have ways to make penance, if you mess up
  • Both are somehow related to decorated pine trees....
Wait - that last one might be wrong.

Anyway...the point is that through faith - and consequences - we learn to be good people, do the right thing, and treat others well. We learn to respect our elders, take care of those less fortunate, and to pass our faith and beliefs on to our children.

We learn that if you have faith, and you really believe, good things will happen.

Some might take offense to the idea that kids learn those lessons from an old guy in a red suit who is practically a cat burglar. I say that learning faith and hope and trust and goodness is a good thing - no matter where the lessons start.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Movie Monday: It's a Wonderful Life

For the third time in as many years, this year I'll be watching It's a Wonderful Life with someone who is seeing it for the first time. Since it's my favorite movie ever, I suppose it is only fitting that I keep introducing more and more people to this timeless classic.

I was fifteen the first time I watched the movie. I was at my friend's house, and his parents had it on in the family room. He and his brothers were off doing something or other, so I sat down and was immediately drawn into the story of George Bailey and Beford Falls, NY.

Up to that point, I'd really never paid much attention to older movies. I wasn't super interested in anything that didn't involve my teen idols or more current story lines. But this movie was different - and it changed everything for me.

I think most people know what the movie is about, but in case you don't, let me sum it up for you. *Spoiler Alert* The story is about George Bailey, a good guy who has given up one opportunity after another in an effort to keep everyone else happy, at the expense of what he wants. When we find him, he's had a huge curve ball thrown at him, and the town and his family and friends rally to save him - but not before he gets a chance to see what the world would have been like, had he never been born.

We all feel that way sometimes, don't we? Especially at the holidays, if things aren't going our way. We wonder if people wouldn't be better off if we weren't around - or at least, wouldn't even realize if we were gone. It's a Wonderful Life reminds us that our lives touch others in ways we sometimes don't even realize. It reminds us that everything happens for a reason, and we're right where we're supposed to be.
Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around, he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he? - Clarence 
That's one of the toughest things to remember - and one of the best lessons we can ever learn. There's nothing more powerful than realizing your life doesn't just matter - it's had a positive impact on people, even if you don't see it.

More than 20 years later, I still watch this movie at least once every holiday season. Every time I do, I cry happy tears when George learns how much his life really means to others.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Elves and duck tape

When I wrote yesterday's post, I was feeling very positive. I'd gotten a lot done, and was really feeling like I had my act together.

Apparently, the universe felt the need to challenge that attitude. Later that night, I realized the window in front of my newly erected Christmas tree was open slightly. I couldn't reach it without moving the tree. No big deal, right? It's light, and I'm strong(ish).


Moving it caused what had been a small crack in the stand to become a large break. So there I was, at 11:30 pm, in my pajamas, holding a fully decorated and lit 6 foot tree with no stand.

At that point, I began to feel much less positive about all I'd accomplished.

I carefully laid the tree down, and tried to think. Santa has elves who would fix this problem. I looked around. No elves. So I went to the next best idea.

Duck tape.

After wrapping what seemed like feet of the sticky stuff around the stand and legs, 20 minutes later I triumphantly returned the tree to its upright position. It's a little worse for the wear, and only time will tell if it's gonna last til the big day.

But - I didn't lose my patience, or fling the tree out the window. I'm calling that a victory.

I'm also asking Santa for elves this year.

Rocking chairs

"Worrying is like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it gets you nowhere." Glenn Turner

I have a to-do list. It's been growing and growing and growing for the last week. I love when I can cross things off - but I have to admit, watching it grow was getting a little overwhelming.

I'm normally not the person that gets stressed over too much to do, and not enough time to do it. I think it's because of my job. If I've learned one thing over the last eleven years, it's that worrying will do you no good, and everything will get done when it gets done.

So, I stressed a little; I complained to Cute~Ella a little (she's so good at listening); finally, I ate a little chocolate.

Then I remembered the time when I was a little girl, and I was sitting in the rocking chair in the living room in our old apartment. It was a huge - like a lazy boy on rockers. I liked to really get it going, and pretend I was on a ride at an amusement park.

One day, I had it going too good - and it flipped backwards, with me in the chair. Ow. Like my Dad said, "I told you to stop rocking like that!"

I reminded myself how much I hate rocking chairs because all they really do is cause trouble. They don't get you anywhere.

It's amazing how much easier it is to check things off the list when you stop rocking worrying.