Christmas to You

Hi Mom and Dad,

It’s me. And it’s Christmas. A time of year that is for those of us who have lost loved ones. Oh, and I do miss you so much that my heart aches. But I have to tell you something – I am happy. Blissfully, wonderfully, ridiculously happy. For the first time in many years. Happy like I was I my early 20’s, carefree and loved. I wish you could see my smile, and hear it in my voice. But maybe you can as you watch over me.

Even with this happy, wonderful life, I still miss you. No matter how long it has been, no matter how happy I am, I will never stop missing you guys. There ar still so many times I have thought, “I have tell call and tell Mom about this or that…” Even after this many years. I suppose I’ll always want to pick up the phone and call you.

And it’s Christmas Eve, and in my new life, there is so much love and happiness. So many people to see, and love, and gifts to wrap and wonderful to experience. And yet, I still think back to our Christmas Eves, when all of us gathered at your house, wrapping and laughing and living and drinking wine, and sneaking things into each others Christmas stockings. And how to integrate some of our traditions into my life with this family now.

And all of your recipes and cooking and reading your book. And so much love. The amount of love you raised us with is truly amazing. But I guess that originated from your faith in God and your love for each other.

I just wanted to let you know that I am happy this year. In the new house, with my wonderful man, making this life together. But I will always love and miss you guys. And I love when you visit my in my dreams. And I really love when we get a chance to hug in those dreams. No matter how long you live, there can never be enough hugs.

This is what you always wanted for me. I am here. And I hope that you can see me. I hope that you still send me signs, hope that you keep watching over us. And I hope you are proud of me. Because the older I get, the more proud I am of the two of you, and all that you did, and were, and taught me.

Merry Christmas Mom and Dad. I will love you forever and miss you always.

Family Christmas

The holidays are all about family. I tried to outrun that last year, to no avail.  But this year it is my decision to embrace it fully.  This will be the best year of my family – the family I have chosen.  My friends are my family of choice and as such they are the cream of the crop.

There will be dinners and gatherings, wine and laughter.  There will be sharing and loving and toasts and meals and good food and conversations.  The Christmas tree is only half decorated, to make sure that ornaments are hung with those who mean the most. Company is coming and I am excited. And this Christmas will be the first of many happy ones.

There will be no more grief. Because the fact is, even though there has been so much loss, I am not alone. I am surrounded by everything and everyone that I want. The foundation on which my life is built is fertile ground. And it is within my reach to have the life of my dreams, full of love, happiness fulfillment.

Life is short. And it’s what we make it.  We can decide to drown in all the negative that happens, or we can rise above and soar. I will always soar. The view is so much better from up high.

The Happy Christmas Tree

There are times in life when we look up and realize that things have all worked out, that we are good, that life is good.  This realization can happen in the grocery store, at home, at work, in the car, or just about anywhere. And many times it is not one huge moment either. Many times it is a quiet moment, a small stitch in time, when it happens. And when it does, you the reaction isn’t always big, but many times small as well.  Subtle, maybe even unnoticeable to those who are not observant.  But you smile and feel warm all over.

It is the holiday season, one of the hardest seasons of the year for many people. Those who are alone, who have lost loved ones or who are away from home. Last Christmas was terrible difficult for me. And throughout the year, there have been some very hard moments.  There has been some very deep healing. And many times, you do not even realize that the healing is happening, because you are simply going through your day and your life, getting things done.

Last night I was putting up the Christmas tree. I decided that this year, Christmas was going to be celebrated. The tree, the ornaments, the decorations, the lights, they were all going up.  This year, life and all it’s trappings will be celebrated. And I put the lights on the tree, quietly humming and smiling. And then it was all the ornaments, placed carefully, finding the perfect place for each of them.

And there in my living room, I had a wonderful, small, quiet moment. I looked up from the tree and felt a warmth in my heart. There I was in my little house, decorating the tree, celebrating the holidays and my little life. And it occurred to me that I am happy.  Blissfully happy.  In this moment,  everything for which I have prayed: A life full of love, wonderful friends, a great job, a wonderful career, I am no longer alone and everything is falling into place.

And maybe that is how it is in life…slowly, surely, as we are busy taking all of those baby steps, we travel thousands of miles to where we are happy. And so seamless is the transition, we don’t even feel it until we are fully in its embrace.

Then when we get to that happy place, we get to decorate our life however we want.  Because we feel joy borne from tragedy. And that kind of joy bubbling up from the deepest places is so true, so distinct, so strong, that it can make any life beautiful.

And so it goes.



Oh Christmas Tree

In life there are many firsts.  Some of them good, some of them bad, some fall smack dab in the middle.  This first is bittersweet.  It is the first Christmas without my Mom.  Which means many other firsts too – the first Christmas tree without her, the first gift wrapping without her, the first year of my life that I will not be buying Christmas gifts for her.  You never realize just how many gifts that a person would enjoy until you lose them….and you still see gifts around the holidays that they would love. But somewhere along the way, you have to find more sweet than bitter if you are going to survive the holiday season.

This past weekend was time for another first. We went to pick it out, and Dad searched and found just the right tone.  I admit, I have never had a real one.  Growing up we always had an artificial Christmas tree.  This dates back to, what I have been told, the first Christmas that Mom and Dad were married.  They got a real tree, and loved it.  And then the holidays were over, and it was time to take the ornaments off and put the tree, well, whereever real trees go after Christmas.

This is where there was an impasse.  Dad firmly believed that it was the woman’s job to handle the Christmas decorations, including the disposal of the tree.  Mom felt that it was the man’s job to carry the large Christmas tree out the curb.  Both my parents are very stubborn.  Neither one was willing to budge.  And so there the Christmas tree sat, needles brown and falling off- through New Years, past Valentine’s day, and St. Patrick’s Day.  It was the Easter tree, the Maudi Grad tree…

I have been told that late in the spring, when they moved from that house, the movers finally took the tree and put in on the curb.  Thus there were no more live Christmas trees.

Until now.

So we went to the nursery and  found the perfect 8ft Christmas tree. And it does indeed smell wonderful.  And we have been decorating it a little each night.  And that is the hard part.  Because my mother collected Christmas ornaments for over 40 years.   And now I have them.  And they are wonderful and beautiful and amazing and make me feel close to her….but they also make me aware that she is not here. She Loved Christmas

I sobbed while hanging the first few ornaments on the tree. It was surprising how hard it was to see these glistening ornaments, some I remember as a child and was not allowed to touch (Small klutzy child + delicate ornaments = disaster). There were all the angels, and animals and Christmas mice, and even the cute little Christmas Octopus ornament (I bought that one for her).  There was the little sequin drum that she made with my sister and cousin.  There was the ball with the cork oriental building inside. There was the Christmas Skunk ornament (it sounds weird, but is really cute).

And there was putting up her absolute favorite Christmas display – the nativity.  It is a sight to see.  While it is not an ornament on the tree, it is a display that was very close to her heart.

Slowly, as each ornament is hung, and each display or decoration is arranged, and the tree  glistens with its lights, it gets just a tiny bit easier.  Because I do feel like she is near.  And because she did love Christmas.

And so as I smell the scent of the tree, and see her ornaments hanging, I find the sweet in the bitter. I find the comfort in the quiet glow of the lights and the soft sound of Christmas carols…I miss her so very much, but know somehow, someway, she and Santa are having a great conversation. I hope she puts in a good word for me.

This Thanksgiving

Change. It is a fact of life. Everyone, at some point, must accept it, learn to deal with it, adapt to it.  But that can very so very hard.

Usually I write about everything I am thankful for in the Month of November – a new list every day.  This Thanksgiving that seems too strange. I do look around and acknowledge the many blessings.  But I am not sure how to act really.  I am very thankful Dad is still here, thankful for my wonderful boyfriend, the fact that we have been blessed to have such a wonderful home and are building a life of love. That I have such wonderful friends who are there for me and love me, that I have a job I love at a great company.

And that I had 42 wonderful Thanksgivings with my mother.  That I was there in her last moments. And for all the wonderful talks and whispers and moments we shared, mother and daughter.  When she looked at me in the hospital and said “I know you truly love me.”  When she smiled and said “I know what that means.”  When I read the letter and notes she wrote labeled “Don’t open unless I am dead”…and how truly funny they were.  Thankful for the way she always knew just what to say, and when to say it, to make me smile and feel better.  Thankful for the taco soup and fresh cut corn that she froze, just for us, knowing she was going to pass. Still taking care of us, even now.

This Thanksgiving will be very different from the ones in the past.  Every Thanksgiving has been at my parent’s place.  Even when I lived far away, the trip would be made to make sure I was there with the rest of the family.  There was always so much food because Mom loved cooking for all of us.  The exception was last year when I begged to have the holiday feast at my place.  Mom and Dad reluctantly agreed and made the trip up to the big city.  It would turn out to be the last with my Mom.  My sister and her three boys were there too.  I treasure those memories.

This is the first year in my life that Mom will not be here for Thanksgiving, or Christmas.  This change is not welcome, but it is as it is and so I must adapt.  Thanksgiving is coming whether Mom is here or not.  And so this year we will spend Thanksgiving around M’s mother’s table. I am thankful for their generosity of taking us in. And no doubt there will be lots of love around that table. Truth be told Dad and I are at a bit of a loss this Thanksgiving…and holiday season in general.

But that is the thing about change – it opens up new opportunities. New ways of thinking about and doing things, and new possibilities.  This Thanksgiving may have a melancholy feel, but it can still be special.  This Thanksgiving is about love. And love is always a good thing.  Because love feeds the Human Spirit, fills in all of our cracks and makes us stronger.

The season of…

Here we are in the middle of the most festive season of the year.  It is also the season of exhausted. And broke.  So much running around, shopping, visiting, catching up, driving in Atlanta traffic and rushing around.  There are 3 December birthdays in my family, plus my nephews graduation. And my father coming up for MRI scans to check his liver cancer (that’s still in remission – yay!).

It is the season of miracles, as I look at both of my parents who are in remission from terminal cancers. I am amazed how powerful prayer and faith are. And I remember this as I search from Grace in my own life and daily activities (many days I fail, but I always am striving to do better).

It is the time of wonderful Christmas commercials. For those of us who get emotional during PMS, watching TV with PMS at Christmas is like a minefield – every channel has touching commercials about military coming home, the elderly being invited over for Christmas dinner, rescue puppies being saved and such. Tis the season of a coffee or cereal commercial pushing me over the edge and reducing me a pile of tears. I just keep a box of tissues by the remote.

It is also a time when I miss some friends who have passed. Like one of my best friends in high school.   Wonder what she would be like now, and remember her smile and how she loved Christmas.  I remember Lavan Robinson, who was in charge of music at the small church I grew up in in my hometown.  Every Christmas Eve he would sing “Oh Holy Night” in a way that would give you chills, because his voice was so clear and beautiful. I can’t hear that song without thinking of him, and the many years I heard him sing it at Midnight mass. And most of all, I think of my best friend who I lost this year. I miss his text messages he would send almost every day.  And I miss just knowing that he was out there, that a human being as wonderful as he, was out there in the world. He and his wife were married on Christmas Eve, so this will be a rough holiday for her.

This year we are taking a Christmas tree to Mom and Dad’s and decorating it for them. There will be much love, laughter and hot chocolate no doubt. It is a time of being excited about gifts.  Don’t you just love it when you have a gift for someone that you know that are going to absolutely love?  I get so excited that it’s hard for me to wait. That is actually the reason I don’t buy gifts early – because I get so excited that I end up giving them before Christmas. (or at least that’s my story)

There are gifts for me under the tree …and they are driving me crazy.  I have been told that I can’t touch them…but when have I ever listened when told what to do? (It’s that problem with authority).  So I just gaze at them longingly from across the room by day. But they whisper to me at night…”come shake me,” they say softly in my ear. And so I must.  Still can’t figure out that they are. Which makes it all the more delicious.

And then there are all the Christmas Yummies.  Those are all the delicious things that are at the office, at the parties or just around at Christmas. There is a reason why most people gain weight during this time of year. And I already told all everyone if they notice a few extra pounds on me, I really don’t care. Because I am not going to pass up any Christmas Yummies. Life is short. Eat the chocolate. I can go to the gym when I’m dead. Besides, 70% of people make New Year’s resolutions to lose weight and eat healthier. I wouldn’t want to be left out. So this season, it’s all about the base.

But oh, I am so sleepy. While visions of sugar plums may dance on the heads of others, I think of a warm bad, soft blankets and squishy pillows. I think of curling up with my furry babies, all warm and nestled down in the covers. There are warm socks to wear, books to read, movies to watch while snuggling on the couch. Because it is also the season of small perfect moments and warm rooms. Mostly because, all because, it is the season of love.

The Best First

We all have those special holidays or events that our firsts.  But when they combine, the outcome can be magic. This year was a very special Thanksgiving for me. It was the first time that I hosted the family for the big day, and it was the first time in many ears that both my parents were healthy and could celebrate without hesitation.

I worked all week on getting the house ready – everything clean and neat, but just messy enough that Mom had a few things to do and felt useful. Many blankets on Dad’s bed and a heater just for his room so he is nice and warm and toasty. The smoking area in the garage, complete with the couch and back patio chairs, heaters and throw blankets. Plenty of firewood, towels, bed linens and snacks. And the carpet cleaned and looking good (thanks to my wonderful boyfriend).

And then it was time.  Mom and Dad arrived with hugs and kisses and coffee and smiles. Then later it was a hot dinner and cold wine. The next morning, my sister came with her two boys. And the cooking was on.  All of us Burch women in the kitchen, slicing, dicing, mixing and drinking wine and snacking on cheese and crackers.  It was a mess but it was fun.  And wonderful.  That kitchen was filled with so much love. And food – there was Mom’s stuffing recipe, and the secret broccoli and cheese casserole, then the turkey, and…

And then it was time to eat – a few hours past when I originally thought, but that just meant everyone was extra hungry.  We pulled my two tables together for a shabby chic, Hodge-podge Thanksgiving dinner. A prayer was said and then we all ate.  And laughed, and talked and drank and there was happy murmur and conversation.  And as I sat there, looking around at my family in my little home, at my little two tables, I was so very grateful. Another year with them, my family, where everyone is healthy and happy.  And as my heart beat, it swelled with such happiness and contentment that I was ready to pop.

And that is the thing about life, it doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful.  I have a small home in a small but nice neighborhood.  Mismatched glasses lined the two tables pushed together and mismatched place mats were under that plates. And no one cared. Because those ancillary things are just that. It’s the imperfections that make those moments and events great. Love makes the imperfections beautiful. .  It was perfect. And amazing. And wonderful. The best first Thanksgiving ever.

Don’t Mold Around Here No More

With any new beginning there will naturally come challenges and obstructions. Do not become discouraged by them, do not fall into fear and doubt, but rather, cleave in faith and continue on, confident that the Divine is with you and that you will overcome whatever challenges and obstructions that arise. Remember, the challenges and obstructions we encounter are integral to a greater progress and our eventual success. – Gamze Ridley

Today I received the final word on my House of Mold…not only is it full of toxic mold, but I cannot return for any reason without a Hazmat suit because the infestation has permeated ever part of the house.  It is not safe to breath even for 5 minutes.  The house must be condemned and destroyed to make sure no one else suffers further illness. It is also recommended that I get further medical testing to determine the level of permanent damage to lungs and respiratory system.

Hearing this was rather overwhelming, even though on some level it was expected. My heart went into my throat and I could feel tears rolling down my cheeks.  Yes I cried.  I just didn’t expect it to be that…bad. And I threw myself the obligatory pity party for the remainder of the evening, sending out text messages, telling friends, discussing what it all meant.

And then I realized, this isn’t the end of the world. I will be fine. While the idea of living in that house for 6 months, when it’s not safe to breath for 5 minutes is terrifying, I am OK. Having my house condemned isn’t going to kill me, neither is walking away from the disaster and giving it back to the bank. Though it is not how I wanted it to be, “it is what it is and it ain’t getting no isser.”

And with that the pity party was done and I thought why not remain positive? After all, I have been extremely lucky thus far. Things could have always been worse. I could have been a lot sicker with many more health issues; I found the mold quickly when it could have taken years.

Part of  life is just getting through it. Things won’t always go your way. There will be adversities to overcome, challenges to meet, and difficulties to chase. And that’s OK.  Continual smooth waters are not conducive to forming a well rounded person. We must rise to overcome in order to find out just how high the human spirit can sore.

And while we may have a few scars or be weary from those hard times, they are worth it. For it is that which makes us great, which makes us richer, deeper, finer, more compassionate beings. It is what makes us our most human, and our most beautiful.

So, I will appreciate, maybe even celebrate to condemnation of my house and it’s subsequent foreclosure. Because that means I lived through it and came out the other side. I will appreciate the tears that may fall between now and then, for it means that I can feel deep emotion. I will appreciate the experience of the coming legal proceedings and pray for justice. And I will appreciate and celebrate all that this life gives me, because every day I breath is a gift. And I will appreciate the scars left behind, because they only add to the beauty and splendor of being human. And in being human, I find Peace.

And I will look forward and not fear the future. I don’t know what is coming in the days, weeks and even years ahead. But I am here. And this is a new beginning.

‘Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,’ he asked, ‘or bit by bit?’
‘It doesn’t happen all at once,’ said the Skin Horse. ‘You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.’ ― Margery Williams, The Velveteen Rabbit

And a Merry Christmas to All

It is Christmas Eve, and I have to think back on the past year as I get ready to see my family.  It has been a long hard year, one that has seen unprecedented struggles within my family and friends.  I am so very blessed to have another Christmas with my wonderful father, and for that I am very thankful. But this year has also seen the struggle to purchase the House of Mold, discovering the mold and now the process of getting the house mold free and dealing with the legalities of being a victim of mortgage fraud.

And I am so very thankful to have my little house now, comfy, cozy, and warm. It is much smaller than what I am used to, but it is mold free, safe, and a great place to start over.

And with this year coming to a close, that it what the new year represents; starting over. And as my friends post the pictures of their year in that cute little book, I have no desire to post mine.  I remember this year well and have no desire to revisit in pictures. I am just happy I lived through it all!

But then there have been the wonderful moments too. Like purchasing my own home, finding out it really wasn’t as scary as I thought it would be.  Swimming my in pool and watching fireflies dance in the evening sky in the back yard.  Taking another chance and believing in someone.  No matter how many times I get hurt, I just cannot believe that taking a chance and opening your heart to someone new is a bad thing.  Maybe it is the hopeless, eternally optimistic person in me that believes that eventually – if nothing else than by the sacred geometry of chance, it will work out.

I have met wonderful new friends that have shown me so much love and support, even when they did not know me that well. They unknowing renewed my faith in humanity with their compassion, empathy, support, and kindness to someone they barely knew, and was not in a position to repay them. It was a beautiful and humbling experience.

And so I welcome this holiday season as the last part of the year.  And it will end well, I have decided, and hopefully the Grace of God will see that it is so.

To end this year with smiles and laughter, the quiet moments of love and family and thoughtful conversations that make memories that last a lifetime.  Preparing for the next year of my life, as I close the chapter on another.  For this year has been tumultuous and long. But that is no reason not to keep my chin up and stay always hopeful for the future.


The Oposite of Seasons

This is the season for parties, festivities, socializing, seeing old friends, making new friends and just a lot of hustle and bustle. It is a season of extraverts. But this season I am feeling anything but extravert.

This year I am feeling very be cozy and warm mama bearish. I just want to be home, or with a close circle of friends. Yes, the invites have been pouring in for this and that.  And surely these are people whose company I have enjoyed in the past. But my couch is so very comfortable and the fire is warm.

This year, after being terrible displaced from my home due to toxic mold, I am more appreciative of e safe place to hang my hat.  I want to make this space warm and welcoming to all those whom I love and care.

And as the pictures of festive parties, pretty dresses, fixed hair, perfect make up and lots of drinks are posted on Facebook and other social media outlets, I smile and click like from the comfort and warmth of my own hearth, on my flannel PJ’s and fuzzy socks (yes, super sexy, I know).

I sip wine and listen to my favorite music, unpacking, organizing, arranging furniture and getting settled.  And who says you have to be and about on the town seeing and being seen to be social? I have my friends close by, still meeting for dinners and drinks.  I run to theirs or they come to mine. It is nice and quiet and small and quaint.

There is home cooking – soups and sauces, new recipes and old favorite, smells and fragrances filling the house. Putting up and decorating the Christmas tree, with all the old ornaments from childhood that make me smile and love my parents. There is eggnog and mistletoe and kisses and laughter. There is the gentleness of starting over.

And sometimes, in the big world, it is good to be small and close.  It is good to make sure that all of our fingers and toes and accounted for and painted pretty colors, enjoying the small comforts that build the foundation of a good and happy life. Sometimes the small celebrations are even more meaningful than the big ones.

And sometimes, when it is all said and done, it is the building of many of those small moments that make a life worth living and loving. Sometimes being the opposite of the season is what gives it it’s meaning.

No Regrets

I have no regrets, looking back on the landscape if this year, in this life. I have no regrets on what I have done and what has been left undone.

There are no words that haunt me, spoken or kept still. No actions that trouble my soul, no undone thrill.

There are no tears that have been dried or kept at bay, or escaping down my cheek from rims of wide weary eyes, that partake in regret.

No longing set free, no feelings left unturned. There is nothing to look back upon, and wish another way for me.

And as I look back, standing at the edge of this year, this long, hard, undone, overdone year, there is nothing that makes me want a other walk down the path or choose another road than the one I have traveled.

There has been compassion and contention, love, discord, pain and happiness. More joy than one can hold, more sorrow than one should endure. There have been sacrifices and giving of self, hiding, finding, sipping and devouring…it all.

I am all of it, every bit. The complete all of it, the unfinished of it, the breadth and depth of it. I am glad for it all, the good bad and the big and small.

I have no regrets waking up with you, all of you and your deals, wet from us and warm with skin on mine. No regrets of swimming, riding with my bare feet on the dash or taking a shower in the rain. No regrets sitting, listening to drops on the tin roof, in your little place. No regrets of you at all.

No regrets for fighting for family and what is right. None for being brave, saying what is felt and what should have been said long ago. No regrets for the love and loss of the year as it has passed.No regrets for the mistakes and lessons learned.

There has been hard work, harder play and many things let go this year. I carried the map of my life with every. Single. Heartbeat. And you were there too. Yes you.

Books have been read, put down and some left unfinished. Thoughts written down and lost or erased from time. And still, no regrets. Nooks and crannies have been explored, many prayers said and blessing given. Dreams have come to fruition, nightmares have been banished beneath the cloak of in in which they came.

I have carried this heart, heavy with sorrow and joy, across this country, in cars, in airplanes, in boats, up on a horse in hiking trails, in the woods, in the city, to work, to run, in water, in the anonymity of the night, and the harsh light of day.

This year, this 12 months, I have been the judge and jury, been judged and done the judging, been right, wrong, black, white and gray. I have laid it all out and picked up the deck.

And at the end of this year, this moment in my life, there is Peace. There is happiness. Mostly because, all because, you have been in my heart.

The Last Day

We all have those times when we look around and realize that it is the last day…of high school, of college, of a particular career, of many things in life. It is the end. And there is a new beginning that awaits.

Today is it. The last day…of my 30’s.  And looking back, it has been a great decade.  And I have learned so much. And I have worked hard and accomplished much. I think that the decade of my 30’s was working hard and establishing myself – my personality, my career and talent, my writing, myself. Now, entering into my 40’s, I have nothing to prove to anyone. Been there, done that. And they can kiss my bum if they don’t like it.

My 30’s truly were magnificent. And I say goodbye to them fondly.  When I think back, I smile. Some of my best times have been in this decade. Some of the worst times too, but all in all the good has far outweighed the bad.

I have been in NYC, had trips of a lifetime. I have dined in some of the finest restaurants in my 30’s. I have enjoyed being flown in private planes, for private weekends in the Bahamas. I have held and stolen kisses. I have worked hard, traveled well, had money and been completely broke (having money is better, btw). I have been naive and been very smart. I have been the outcast and the toast of the town\, been the object of praise and scorn. I have cried tears of joy and of immense sorrow.

And I have done it all my way. I have kept true to myself, my integrity and my code of honor. And I am proud of this. Many cannot say the same. And the mistakes that I have made? Well, they just made me smarter. The people who have hurt me? They just made me better and stronger.

And so here I am. On the eve of my 40th birthday, and I know the next ten years will be even better than the last. And I truly cannot wait for the adventure, memories that will be made, truths that will be discovered and told, and smiles and laughter that will be had, good times all the wonder of life. Bad times? Oh, I am sure there will be a few mixed in there, but I am not worried.

And aging? Forgetaboutit! Father Time and I made a deal a long time ago, that I would only get better with age. Like a fine wine. And so, those tiny wrinkles? Those little laugh lines? Even gravity…they do not scare me. I am Ada. I am a Burch. I am my Father’s daughter. I am my Mother’s daughter. And I am about to be 40. And so I say to life:

Take my hand and let’s jump right in!

The Meaning of True Friendship

This New Years has been about many things – love, lust, betrayal, forgiveness, pets, travel, my heart, but mostly it has been about friendship, tried and true.

When I was much younger, barely out of my teens, one of my favorite aunts died. After her funeral, as we sat in her house with the rest of the family, two of her best friends were about, taking care of everything. They greeted family, served food, made sure everything was taken care of and cleaned up. My mother looked at them and said to me “Those are very good friends. What they are doing is tyhe true meaning of friendship.” I was really too young to understand what she meant at the time.

As I have gotten older I have come to realize the meaning behind my mother’s simple but equally deep observation. Your friends are the ones who take care of you when you need it most.

So after the best new Years Eve of my entire life, I got up early, got some coffee and hit the road to be there for one of my best friends.  She has recently gone through a break up. She and her boyfriend were together for 10 years, bought a house and lived together for the past 8 years. She works full-time and runs an animal rescue.

The day was spent talking, consoling, comforting and cleaning. She is trying to remodel the house and doing quite a bit of it herself. The result is a very big mess. And we cleaned, and cleaned and cleaned. Then we went out and cleaned her car. And as she sat, tear-stained face and wet cheeks, we, with loving care, started to put her life back together, piece by small piece. She sat, quiet, motionless, unable to move so stricken by grief and loss. He was her best friend…now he is not. And that is the thing about relationships – many times that person is your best friend. When your best friend is gone, who do you turn to?

We cannot take her pain away, but we can help clean up her life and put it back together.  That is just what you do, you take care of your friends. We call to check up on her, call her, help her, cook for her, be there for her. And sometimes it is just to have someone around, that you know cares, that can make all the difference. Earlier she and I sat watching to TV, not speaking, just sitting. And then she dried her eyes, curled up in a blanket and fell asleep. Able to rest in the comfort of knowing she was not alone in that big house.  And many years ago, I remember being that heart-broken, to the point where I just wanted a friend to sit with me while I slept and felt awful. And she did.

Because in the end, we all bleed from a broken heart. And it is our friends who help us get up again. And that is the meaning of true friendship – being there in the thick and thin, for calls late at night, when our hair is a mess and we are still in our in worst PJ’s, and they love us anyway, despite ourselves.

How Being a Misfit is Good

I have a confession to make. And it’s pretty big, so you may want to sit down. Here it is: I am a misfit. Yep. Totally. Absolutley.

According to the Briggs-Meyers personality test, I am an ENTJ, which for those people who know me in reality, describes me to a T. And I am also quite a bit of a misfit. I am clumsy, often put my foot in my mouth, my entire life is a sitcom of embarrassing and Bridget Jones type situations. And my lack of ability to spell on this blog puts me in rare company. Let’s face it, anyone who manages to drop their drug test pee cup in front of a super hot guy, or trip over a couch in a furniture store just has to accept the fact that they are different.

But everyone else is different too, that makes me normal. Kind of.

Being a misfit is not all bad. Many people and companies can benefit from the “misfits.” These traits are what also make me creative and able to write so well. These traits are what give me the ability to communicate with such a huge cross-section of people about such a wide array of topics. These traits are also what get me into trouble from time to time.

Details are very important. and they are the bane of my existence. I am horrible at details. When I was in school, I could do the math in my head, but hard a hard time getting the right answers when I worked  them out long hand. Want to see both a frustrated student and teacher? Try a student who can only do the math in her head, and a teacher who can’t get the student to get the right answer worked out on paper. I couldn’t explain how I got it right, but the teacher knew I wasn’t cheating because I did not have access to the answers.

Which is more important though, the ability to pay attention to detail, or the ability to concentrate? Not sure. I do have great concentration abilities. Which is good because I am so bad at details. I have to concentrate very hard to be meticulous. And it works. I often uncover details in my research that no one else can find and am able to put the information together in ways others can not connect.  And the great thing about being an adult and not in school is that you can just call it “instinct,” and then you don’t have to explain it on paper.

Listening is also a great ability to have, but it is one that does not come natural to me either. That is because many times my brain is going so fast with ideas that I miss out on what the other person is saying. I have to concentrate, once again, on slowing down and make a conscious effort to listen. That takes an effort. So what it boils dow to is this: If I care about you I will listen to you. If I don’t, I won’t. Because if I don’t care about you, why would I care what you have to say? It’s not very politically correct, but that is the reality.

What I have found about listening  is that it’s an intensely intimate act. To quiet your own thoughts down enough to hear the other persons voice is tremendous. To really take in what they are saying, comprehend the meaning behind it, and listen to what they are not saying as well. Listening is an act of compassion, caring, empathy and love. Because just the single act of listening creates connection. You cannot truly listen to another and not feel a connection, whether positive or negative.

Listening also forces you to take a step back and consider other possibilities. I am a bit of a control freak, but if I listen to what someone I care about wants, and it is different from what I want, I have to let go. I have to give up control and let the other person in. Listening forces you to let go, because if you care about the other person, what they want and how they feel, you want them to be happy. Others cannot be happy if you are always in control.

Another thing that makes me a misfit? The fact that when I am in my car I have conversations in my head. I think of how the best way to handle meetings, conflicts and conversations. I plan out what I need to say and how. That is how much of a control freak I am. So listening to others helps me stay connected with others. Listening helps me let life unfold on it’s own, without my interference.

Those are the big things that contribute to my misfitness. There are also the issues of my extreme clumsiness, my inability to grow houseplants without killing them, the fact that I must walk on my tip toes when happy or when going up stairs, the extreme need for a daily fix of chocolate and a ridiculous work ethic.

But looking around, many others have those issues too. So maybe we can all be misfits, together.

The Young and the Proud

Birthdays. They are special and are much fun to celebrate. Yesterday was my oldest nephew’s 22nd birthday and I took him out for our traditional birthday dinner.

And as we sat, ate and talked, I looked at him, this young man, and realized how proud I am of him. He has grown up to be a fine young man – honest, hard-working, super intelligent, funny and just a good guy, He treats women with respect and courtesy, he does not take advantage of people, he follows his sense of right and wrongNow, he does have his faults, as does everyone, but I am so proud of who he has become.

Before we left for the restraint, I watched him explain some homework to his roommate, and he was so good at breaking things down to a level that is understandable. Jeeze, he can get me to understand quantum physics, and that is no small deed so he must be good.

And I just wanted to hug him and keep him at this age, or at least take a photo in my mind so I could always remember this day and time with him. I remember when he was just a baby, starting to walk, but still hanging onto the table for stability. That little finger that would get into everything. His first day of school and how he grew up with many of the friends with whom he graduated. His adolescence and all the awkward stages that we all go through. His 18th birthday, when he was an adult. His 20th birthday when he was no longer in his teens. His 21st birthday, when I bought him  his first beer, and now he is 22. So many stages and trails, so many projects and tests.

There was his trip to Alaska, his building of robots, his Skills USA competition, his theory on why a time machine could never be built, his friends he has had all of his life and how much they mean to him, his disappointments and things that made him happy and excited. Going to the first open house with him at the school he now attends.

We went to the open house and then I took him to a nice dinner. Afterward we went to a restaurant that spins so he could see the Atlanta skyline properly. There was a cheerleading convention in town that weekend, and the entire downtown area and the restaurant had thousands of attractive cheerleaders running around in their uniforms, He looked at me bright eyed and innocent and declared that he loved Atlanta. I just laughed.

Being there for him is the best thing I have ever done in my life.  It is so special to see a young man grow into someone whom you are so proud. It has been an honor and a privilege to watch him develop into this magnificent human being. And I hope there are many birthdays to come

The Joys of Christmas

Day 28, Christmas decorations:  Today I am thankful for Christmas decorations.  This past Thanksgiving weekend, my Mother decided to pass her huge collection of Christmas Ornaments on to My sister and I. This was sad and exciting at the same time. Sad because she will not be putting up a Christmas Tree, exciting because the ornaments I have looked at since I was a little girl will now be hanging on my tree.

The decorating has already started and by the time it is all done, it will look like Christmas exploded in my house. Already there is mistletoe, Mr. and Mrs Claus by the front door and big red velvet bows.  There are Christmas place mats and table clothes, bowls, candle holders, stockings and stocking holders. There are Christmas pot holders, mantle decorations, a table top Christmas tree, tinsel, wall hangings and Salt and pepper shakers. And that is just the beginning! 

The Christmas tree will be put up and decorated tonight. My little Charlie Brown tree will be loaded down with Christmas ornaments old and new. There will be lights, balls, crosses, angels, bears, sheep, candy canes, mice, bells, bows, Santas, and even a Christmas Octopus. Oh, it will be wonderful. And the whole time the tree is being decorated, there will be Christmas music playing.

Did I mention I get a little excited and go maybe a little bit overboard with the Christmas  decorations? But it makes me happy to sit at night, with all the lights off, except of the soft glow of my little Christmas tree, lights shining like little diamonds. Once I even kept it up until September. It was the New Years Tree, the St. Pat’s Day Tree, the Easter Tree, the Labor Day Tree…it was great even if all of my friends made fun of me and called me a redneck. I just hated the idea pf taking it down. (note: The ornaments get very dusty when left up that long. Dust often)

The first year I had a cat I made the mistake of putting the pretty tinsel onto the tree…and then I discovered a very colorful litter box. Oh you have not experienced the joys of pet ownership until you have fished multi-colored tinsel out of a little box.

Then there was the cat who loved to get a running start and fly into the Christmas tree. His name was Taz. I came home once and found all but one branch torn off the tree that year. Well, the branches he did d not try to eat anyway. That was also the year he ate my favorite strappy sandals, my iPod and my favorite sweater. Alas, I do not have that very sweet, albeit hungry kitty anymore.

There was the time I got tangled up in my Christmas tree and fell to the floor with a thud. I am sure to the outside public it might have looked as if the tree had come alive and was flailing around the floor. It might have even  looked like a Christmas tree monster. Oddly enough, my cats have been terrified to come near the Christmas tree since then.

And this year will be extra special. I did not put a tree up last year as I was just too busy. That was the first year of my life that there was no Christmas tree, so this year must be extra special to make up for it.

So let the decorating begin!




Adventures in Turkey Land

The remainder of the weekend was met with much laughter and togetherness. I don;t think any of us has had a better time for Thanksgiving. It was truly wonderful. And comical.

I got up Saturday morning to help Dad with a few outside chores around the yard. Now my parents have chickens because they like organic eggs, or yard eggs as they are often called.  I opened the back door only to see one of my parents 4 chickens running across the yard as fast as it could. Not far behind her was another one – the two of them running back to the pin like they had been caught doing something bad. I could help but watch them completely amused. Not something you usually see before finishing your first cup of coffee.

My mother planned to have my sister and I go through her many Christmas ornaments since she has decided not to put up a Christmas tree anymore. This is the end of an era, truly. Christmas has always been a huge deal at Mom’s house, the putting up and decorating of the tree the crux of the activity. It was always fun for the entire family and from which many of the family Christmas traditions have come. So for the last time, my Dad and I completed the annual Christmas Box March.  This tradition is taking all the boxes of Mom’s Christmas ornaments out of storage in one of their many buildings and marching them up the hill and across the yard into the house where Mom has designated a space for them. But this is no ordinary March with a few boxes of Christmas stuff, no. This is a march worthy of it’s own parade.

They have been married 45 years, and that is 45 years of Mom collecting all kinds of ornaments. There are ornaments of every size shape and color imaginable. They shine, they sparkle, they glitter, sing, swing, sway, hold, light up, din down and everything in between. Indeed, it is a display of everything Christmas on the tree with angels, Santa’s, mice, dear, cats, crosses, nativities, stockings, eggs, drums, boats, candy canes, Bibles, Christmas books, balls, icicles, there is even a Christmas Octopus. There are so many ornaments you literally can only see them all upon large and long inspection of the Christmas tree. Oh, and then there are the snitch baskets, can’t forget those.

When my father and I were done, we had marched 24 boxes of Christmas decorations into the house. Yes, 24 boxes. This does not include the actual Christmas tree – which is 10 feet high and 6 feet wide at the base.   It weighs about 150 pounds and is actually in a giant duffel bag big enough to hold 10 bodies.  One of us is usually in charge of getting this giant monstrosity and dragging it uphill, across the yard and into the house. But not this year, which inspired both relief and a bit of melancholy all at the same time. And we still did not find all of her ornaments.

Going through the ornaments and dividing them up was not as painful as one might have thought. My sister and I are so different that we liked different ornaments, and the ones we both liked we agreed to “share” and take turns with every Christmas. This should be much fun. When I am done decorating this year, it will no doubt look like Christmas exploded in my house. and I will love every bit of it. I brought back ornaments, candle holders, mantle decorations, wall hanging, table centerpieces, Santa salt and pepper shakers, teddy bear door guards, door hangers, place mats and much more.

There of course, was also the traditional wine run, standard when all of us get together. Along with so much laughter between my sisters misbehaving feet, the snowmen hanging and other such silly things.

Before I left there was of course the traditional Dad Looking at The car time. We have decided that my mechanic needs to take a look at few things. There was the Mom Giving Away Plants to my Nephew Activity, wherein everyone congregates in the greenhouse and Mom proudly shows off her fine green friends. There are many oooooohs and aaaaaaaaahhhs. Dad and I picked persimmons, Mom and I had great conversations as I drank coffee every morning with her. And then there was also the traditional “Gram Breakfast’ that is world famous. Or at least famous in our family.

And in the four days that have passed, I have eaten more than I have in the past four months. And my skinny pants…are just a little too tight. Amazing how months of working out and staying fit can be completely undone in one holiday. Oh, but it was worth it. Cheesecake with Mom and Dad, midnight sundae cones, chocolate covered peanuts just because, lots of snacks, grilled cheese sandwiches, mac n cheese that is so yummy, wine and other delicious home cooked goodness from the Kitchen of Mom.

All in all, it was a great holiday, a great visit and a great time. i have so much fow which I am thankful. I have so much in my life that brings me joy. Life is good and I am happy.

Day 20: Home, Beds and Blankets

Day 20, My Home: I think I  said something about being thankful for having a roof over my head in an earlier post, but this one is different. This is specifically about having a home.

As I was cleaning up a night ago, I looked out over my house and realized something wonderful: it was finally my home. Home, that place that is sacred. That place where we are safe, were we are protected from all that is bad or unpleasant. Home is where we go to recharge. home is where our hearts are safest.

And I look ed around and there were memories in every corner. This is the place where I go to be safe, where my Mother comes to be comforted, where my father comes to heal after treatment, where my nephew comes for quiet time, where my sister comes to take a break and enjoy some tea, where my friends come for laughterand good times, where those I love come for comfort, food and drink. It is Home.

And for that I am thankful.

Bed and blankets: I am also thankful for my wonderful comfortable beds. If I get tired and have trouble sleeping in one, I simply walk across the hall to the other. And then I can snuggle deep down into the warm blankets and drift off to sleep, while my cats purr beside me.

Yes, life is good and I am thankful.

The Best Things About Winter

There are many things to love about Spring, with all the warm weather and new leaves. Summer is the season of fun and fall is when we finally cool down and enjoy the colors of the leaves. But what about winter? I think this season gets a bad reputation. Don’t get me wrong, i do hate to be cold, but winter is wonderful. Don’t think so? Just read continue reading.

hibernation: Suffering from a bit of overexposure after all the summer pool parties and fall festivals? Winter is the time to relax, rejuvenate and hibernate. Read a good book, watch your favorite movies, do those home projects you’ve been putting off. It gets dark sooner so it’s perfect for sleeping. And girls, take a break from shaving…yes! (girls, don;t even try to deny it, you know you’ve done it) We can also gain a few pounds since we’ll all be covered up on sweaters anyway. So go ahead, have that extra piece of pie. Yum!

Warm blankets and hot chocolate: They just go together like peanut butter and jelly. Wrap up in something soft and warm and drink that wonderful hot chocolate to heat you up from the inside out. Maybe even put a little Baily’s in it for some extra snap. Warm fuzzy socks are also great for the season. Along with warm, soft sweaters that guys love to see us girls wearing. Just be careful if you are a klutz like me and try not to spill really hot chocolate all over your favorite sweater…or your favorite guy.

Christmas lights and holidays: We get a lot of time off during the winter and see family (which, lets face it, can be good or bad). In between saying hello to creepy Uncle Bob and Dodging Aunt Nancy, we may find ourselves catching up with family we actually love and miss. We get to go shopping, sing Christmas carols and see all the wonderful Christmas lights. To me, they are magic. I love them and they make me happy. And if you don’t like the holidays…then boo to you! I’ll talk to you in the Spring thaw.

Fireplaces: Not too much beats the warmth and great sound of a fire. And I love to hear that wonderful crackle. Unfortunately, I have a gas fireplace, not a log burning one. It’s jsut not the same…Roasting marshmallows, having a glass of wine, laughing and long conversations are all made perfect by the fireside. Just remember, don’t drink too much by the fire…or you may fall in (not that that has ever happened…)

Snuggle weather:  One of the best things about winter. Cold nights make for wonderful snuggling, and what better excuse to get cozy with that cutie you have a crush on than to keep warm? From cold nights to sitting by the fire to kissing in the snow…winter is made for love. As long as you don’t have the flu or have been near anyone who has been close to anyone who has the flu.

Boots: Nothing says winter like a great pair of boots for the season. And guys, you know you love when we wear them too. And they are made for walking away quickly should you encounter anyone with the flu.

Snow: Here in the south we don’t get that much snow, but when we do it’s a lot of fun…as long as you don’t have to drive in it. You don’t have to work and you can just stay home, make snow angels and snow men. And if it doesn’t snow this year, I plan to take a trip to the mountains to play. It is my goal to be kissed in the snow this year as well. I just have to find some mistletoe.These are just some of the great things about winter. As the season goes along I am sure there will be many more things to list. So get out those warms blankets and soft sweaters.


I have been hired to write several articles on alcoholics, addicts and Co-dependent relationships –  how destructive and unhealthy they are, the signs and how to get out. Pretty interesting since I was talking about the topic earlier this week on the blog. It has been a long time since I have done research on the topic, and it is just as scary now as it was then – probably even scarier now that I am older and have a deeper understanding as to how it affects people and children.  Here are some links I found while researching. Very interesting. **

How to exit a codependent relationship:

If both parties in the relationship are not healthy, then neither will be the relationship. Once you have been involved with a relationship like that, people rarely go back. It is just too destructive, too unhealthy, too…awful. And you learn that you cannot force the heart, you cannot fix anyone, no matter how hard you try, and you cannot be good for children, if you are neglesting yourself to take care of your partner.

I am very giving person in a relationship, but I have my limits; I know who I am, what I am, and what I will and will not tolerate.  And I will not ever sacrifice my own emotional health for someone else, that is just not healthy. There must be a balance of give and take in a relationship…but there will be times when one partner is not able to give their share, or the 100% of what they do give is greatly reduced because of work, sickness, extreme stress. And that does have to be taken into consideration. But there must be a limit, a shelf life, so to speak, of that imbalance.

I am extremely demanding in a relationship. I know what I like and what I want. I have standards about how I will, and will not be treated. I want someone with honor, courage and integrity. I want to be respected and adored. I like to be spoiled, I love gifts, and dinners, and shoes, and jewelry, and perfume, and massages, and weekends, and anything girly, especially if it sparkles. I will appreciate all gifts given, cherish them and the one who gave them. I will also call a man out if he is disrespectful or seems like he is lying. I can’t stand those who lie or who are hypocrites. A strict code of honor is required. But, in return, that man will not find anyone more devoted, anyone more loyal, more patient, more kind or more willing. I will give joyfully  and there will be no end to the affection or love. But it’s not free. I remember telling the love of my life back in 1998 that as much as I loved him, I would not let him mistreat me or lie to me. That as much as I loved him, I would rather be alone that be in a bad relationship.

And that is when you know you are emotionally healthy – when you are willing to stand up for yourself and your right to be treated with respect and dignity.  When you know what you are worth and understand that as a human being, you are due certain standards of treatment, and those standards should go well above that if someone loves you. That even if you love  someone with all your heart and soul, and even if it will break your heart to walk away, that you are willing to do it, if that person is not good to you and good for you. Yes, they must be good FOR you too. The relationship must be symbiotic and rewarding.  Or what’s the point?

Yes, love is a many splendored thing, but a bad relationship can break you in half. So be careful with whom you keep company, and make sure they are worth it, and worth you. To the right person, you are much more valuable than you think.

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Christmas Angels

Christmas time is always special, but this year, it is just extra special. Maybe it is because my Father is alive, maybe it is the love my parents share, maybe it is because we are all together, maybe it is because I am alive and not married to a monster, maybe it is because we truly love each other and enjoy each others company. I don’t know, but this has been the most wonderful and happiest Christmas we have ever had. No one has taken anything for granted.

The sweetest thing has been watching my father’s delight in spoiling my mother. He absolutely showered my mother with gifts. Now, Christmas is not about gifts, it is about love and the birth of Jesus, but it is been wonderful to watch my fathers expression of delight as my mother opened everything from him. My mother is the least materialistic person on the planet. She appreciates and loves my father no matter what. Their love for each other serves as example to me, and the kind of love I want to have when I get married, and nothing less is acceptable. Because I know true love really exists. Not only because I have felt it, but because I have lived with it as an example all my life.

I watched and took pictures and videos of my father while Mom was opening up her gifts. He was glowing. He just delights in pleasing her and making her happy. They not only teach love to their children and grandchildren, they live it. They have not only taught us how to treat our loved ones, they have lead by example. I know how a man is, and is not, supposed to treat me, by watching how my father treats my mother. He has never raised his voice or his hand to her. He cherishes and loves her her above everyone else, and would never do anything the hurt her, physically or emotionally. And that is one of the many reasons he is and always will be one of my hero.

My nephews had a great Christmas as well, and they felt very loved. As I walked around taking pictures of everyone, I heard the very happy contentment of conversation. The oldest and youngest nephews looking at the latest electronic gadget, and the middle working with his grandfather putting another together. My Mom looking after everyone like she does, the pets playing and running around exited by the wrapping and happiness in the air. And somehow, The Man has made me feel very wanted, appreciated and needed from many miles away.

There was a flurry of activity as we ran in between family houses to wrap all the gifts…where we the scissors? Who was the last person to have that particular paper, and where is the tape?  We ran out of boxes, a first for our family, so gifts became strange lumpy wrapped shapes. At some point bows and ribbon we just abondonned, as the hour was getting late. We are usually very creative with gift wrapping – even making one gift with antlers called it Rudolf a few years ago. But after the boxes ran out, creativity took on a new meaning. I did have the honor of recieving the worst wrapper of the year.

And then there is the food. Oh, the food, food, food. My mother knows how to feed an army. She is an amazing cook and baker. We have been stuffed with homemade candied peanuts (a favorite of all who have tried them), turkey, and lots of tasty treats. There have also been a lot of phone conversations with loved ones far away. There was one strange phone call from a man whose voice Mom did not recognize at 3301 Glenwood Circle, holiday, Fl and he hung up before speaking to my father, but outside of that, the conversations have been good and the laughter free flowing.

Last night we stayed up wrapping gifts…then the boys (my nephews) wanted to stay with the tradition of everyone unwrapping one gift on Christmas Eve and the rest Christmas morning. However, once they started they could not stop. It was a joy to watch, as I tried to keep up with taking pictures of everyone. Today there was breakfast, then we all perfected the art of lounging. Do not be fooled by it’s seeming easiness. You must work very hard to truly master the art of lounging. And we all worked very hard and worked up an hearty appetite for our delicious Christmas Dinner.

Yes, this is the kind of Christmas we will always cherish, because of the amount of love in our house. I have to thank my parents for this. It is their love for each other that truly sets the tone for the holidays. So much laughter, kindness, quirkyness and fun. I love my family and am blessed to have them around me. It has been said that angels are among us, and looking at my family I know it is surely true.  🙂

Christmas Rush

And so it is…the day before the night before Christmas, and I’m busy, busy!  Working to get the last of projects completed before leaving, rushing to get the last few gifts bought, rushing to see friends before celebrating with family. Oh, but I am having the best time, because it seems this year, that people are having the best time, they are nicer and kinder. Even yesterday, driving to the airport in horrible rainy, tornado warning weather, people let me over when I needed to change lanes. No one was speeding, cutting off, or going to slow. This year there just seems to be a general kindness in the air.

I have seen happy shoppers, happy children and parents at restaurants, happy couples holding hands and snuggling in the cold. I have seen happy grandparents, just a happiness in general. No, not that everything is perfect, not those people not not still struggling, they are. But even those who I have seen struggling are thankful for t=what they do have.

Maybe it’s Christmas? Maybe it is the economy and people being aware that whatever the party, we are all in this together. Maybe it is thankfulness that we have family and friends in a most unsure time. Maybe people are more acutely aware tight now, that we all have things to be thankful for, no matter where we are in life. Whatever it is, i have seen more laughter, kindness and happiness recently. And it is nice. And contagious.

So this year, the Christmas rush is feeling so happy, so thankful and blessed. This year, the Christmas rush is driving and letting that person in, because someone let me in when I needed to change lanes. This year, the rush is putting a little more in the Salvation Army bucket…because I can and I should. And this year, may you have a a lot to be rushed about too.


Aging and Wisdom is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter. Mark Twain

As Christmas, the new year, and then my birthday approaches, I think about getting another year old, and of getting older period I ahve always loved the idea of getting older, as Father Time and I made a deal a long time ago: I only get better with age. The first time I saw one of those fine lines around my eyes, I panaicked, then I looked a little closer in the mirror and realized that with that line, I became more beautiful than I had ever been. And so it goes.
I think your whole life shows in your face and you should be proud of that. Lauren Bacall
On my 30th birthday , I could not stop smiling. It was probably my worst birthday – my Mom dying of cancer, I was in a new place where I did not know anyone, and my boyfriend out of town on business…and yet, there was a smile that would not go away. Finally, I had arrived. And I supposed that is how I have felt ever since. With each birthdya there is an arrival, or wisdom, of expereince, of knowing, of sophistication, of life. Finally, I am old enough to do the thigns that I want, young enough to still have the energy to do them, and making enough money to do them as well. Why would I want to go back to the younger years?
Aging is not lost youth but a new stage of opportunity and strength. Betty Friedan
Don’t get me wrong, I had a ball in my twenties. I partied a little, dated, stayed up all night driving to thte beach just to watch a sunrise over the water, went out with the wrong men jsut for fun, bought things I could not afford, took chances that drove my family crazy and marched through life with an innocence and just knew it would all be OK.. And it was. But, I have had more fun in my 30’s then even my best days in my 20’s. Because I am older, and wiser and can afford more, and am more comfortable in my own skin.
Yes, I am going to have much fun this next year, and I will earn every wrinkle, every fine line, every gray hair (thoogh I have colored my hair for so long I truly would not know if I had any). I will make this year the best age yet…though I say that every year. But i have so much fun every year because I never stop being curious, never stop learning, never stop asking questions and being open to the answers. I may not like what I learn, but I learn it just the same. And I am more of a woman, a person, a human being, because of my knowledge.
Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.  Henry Ford
The one thing I do miss bout youth is the innocence and Niavitee that goes along with it. Sometimes I miss thinking that the world is perfect, that there are really no bad people out there. One you have staired in the eyes of the Devil, you loose that innocence. But what age makes you realize, in that wisom caused by expereince, is that you can completely envelope those expereinces, until there is no trace left, until it is only, wholly I. And that wonderful morsel is only something Iknow because of my age.
I’m happy to report that my inner child is still ageless. James Broughton
So it is with this attitude and excitement that I go forward another year, another age. And I raise my glass to Father Time and thank him. Because this year, there will be so many wonderful things to celebrate. There will be dancing, travel, laughter, writing, adventure, new expereinces, new questions, new answers, new opportunities, new life, new romance, new chances, a new age. And this, all of this, mostly because, all because, I have been blessed with a wonderful life.

My Own Limitations

Art consists of limitation. The most beautiful part of every picture is the frame.
Gilbert K. Chesterton

Don’t believe what your eyes are telling you. All they show is limitation. Look with your understanding, find out what you already know, and you’ll see the way to fly.
Richard Bach

There are three methods to gaining wisdom. The first is reflection, which is the highest. The second is limitation, which is the easiest. The third is experience, which is the bitterest.

We all must know our limitations. Knowing what we can and cannot do keeps us out of trouble and in line. Yes, even for a risk taker like me, knowing what my limitations are keeps me in line. We must also never take ourselves too seriously that we cannot not at ourselves and our limitations.  So here, for your knowledge and entertainment are a list of my most glaring limitations and things I simply will never be able to do or be good at.

Grace: No matter how hard I try I will never be graceful. Period. Not even if I trained at the Russion Ballet would I have grace…and I am pretty sure they would not even let me in the building, because I would probably trip on a piece of floor on my way into the building. The grace police would come and escort me out Yep, it would ugly.

The Ability to sew: I skipped Home-Ec in school, and it shows. I can sew a button back on a coat, or maybe fix the hymn on my pants, but beyond that…you really don’t want to trust me with sharp pointy objects (see above).

Singing: I can only sing in my car…and occasionally in the shower. Well actually I can sing everywhere, but I do not because my voice is so beautiful that no one would ever buy any album but mine, and I would not want to ruin all of those other music stars.

Drinking: I will never be able to drink more than two drinks before getting tipsy. Trust me, I’ve tested this one.

Poker: I will always loose at poker. Unless it’s Texas Hold’em, then that is completely different. I rock that game. And I suck at all others.

Jeopardy: I will never be able to question all the answers, no matter how hard I try, no matter how many books I read, no matter how much I cheat…it will never happen.

Whistling: I will never be able to whistle. I have been trying to do this since childhood. Maube it’s time to stop.

Wiggling my ears, rolling my R’s: Same as above, though I will also never quit trying. I keep thinking that, just like the lottery, today may be the day…

My check book: Ever since I was a little girl I have been able to do math in my head but not on paper.  It took forever to find a teacher to understand that I was not cheating when I could tell her the answers without actually working the problem. My check book is the same way. I can keep track of every bit of math…until I actually try to write it down in the registry.

Shoes: I cannot pass up a great pair of shoes that are on sale. I have tried. I have failed. Now I just don’t go into the shoe store unless I have money.

Spelling: I try, I really try…but typo’s will be the death of me. And the sad thing is that I am an editor. But I can spot  misspelled word or bad sentence structure a mile away on someone else’s work. But my own? Fahgetaboutit! IT must be like a psychic trying to read their own future…

Christmas Trees: I cannot Not put up a Christmas tree. Yes, it leans a bit to the left because of the Christmas Light Incident of 2009…but I don’t care. It is still my little tree and I will put it up every year…with as many lights and ornaments as it can possible hold. IT may be a little tacky, but it’s my tree.

Oreos: There is a reason why it is plural. It is because I cannot eat just one…or two…or even three. I must eat the entire bag.

So there they are, my limitations. Of course there are many more, but those are a good start. My therapist would be so proud!


“You can try to escape the story of your life.  But, you can’t.  It happened: the baby died, the dog died, a heart broke.  I knew you when you were young; I know your heart broke, too.  I will know you when we are both old, and maybe wise.  I hope wise.  I know you now, your story.  Mine isn’t the one I would have chosen in the beginning.  But, I’ll take it.  It is my story.  It’s only mine.  And it’s not over.  There’s time.  There is time.  There is so much time.” – Laura Dern’s character in enlightenment.

Yes, it is that time of year again, time for reflections on the past year…and I almost did not do it, as my writings have already documented the events – all the writings here, in other blogs and in my handwritten journal (yes, that is where most of my thoughts are kept…and yes, I am always writing in one way or another.) The quote above pretty much says what I feel about this past year.

This year, like every year, has been an adventure. I have been very lucky and blessed that there have been many more of the highs In 2011. And no matter how hard you try, you cannot run from your own life, your own story, though it may not be what you would have chosen. We’ll take it, we have to. Because it is ours. Ours. It is our own.  And no one else can live our lives or tell our story, only us, and only in our time. But I would not want to run away from my life, because over all, it is such a great life.

I am very possessive of my story, because it is mine, because I am the only person who has the rights to it. This year so maybe things have happened, so much that it is almost hard to comprehend it all. And through it all I have stayed true to myself, though I am surely not the same person as I was at the beginning of the year. I have taken chances, dared myself to go further, work harder than I ever thought possible. I found what I was searching for and found treasures I never knew existed. There have been long walks, long talks, long nights, long skirts and short hair.

There have been false friends, new friends, and things that end. There have been some tears, but much more laughter, lots of chocolate, a little bit of weight gain (but the ass is still Spanktacular), a new bra size, celebrations (yes, one did involve the new bra size and yes they are real and fabulous), lots of cooking, sharing, some drinking, lots of kissing, lots of tripping, some falling, more dropping, a good amount of cleaning out of things – refrigerators, friends list, desks, cars, contacts, that junk drawer that everyone has that seems to have every random thing in the house. There have been birthdays, funerals, reunions, weddings and births. There ahve been new loves, new jobs, new adventures, new chances, new…

But mostly, there has been love, so much love that my life almost could not hold it all. Love from friends, lovers, family, colleagues, and so much more. Yes, this has been the year of love. Funny considering I set out at the beginning of the year to ignore the L word…and then it found me in every face I saw, every voice I heard, every where I went. I could not escape it.

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What is Really Important

There are times in life where you stop to ponder and consider the things that are truly important in life. This has been one of those weekends. I went and saw my sister and nephews yesterday and had a wonderful time. Here are some of the things that are the most important to me:

  1. Family: My oldest nephew and I have always had a connection, and I pretty much put him through his first two years of college. The single most important investment I have ever made. To support and invest in someone’s future is an amazing thing. And as I watch him grow and develop into the amazing young man that he has become, I know all the sacrifices have been worth it. Spending time with my other nephews this weekend just makes me see how lucky I am to be involved in the young lives of such incredible young men. My sister and parents and two of my best friends and this year has only brought us closer. My father is my hero, my mother my biggest cheerleader, and my sister is…my big sister who always takes care of me.
  2. Friends: They are my heart and my support. I love them.  No man is an island and I could not be where I am today without them.
  3. Health: My health and the health of my loved ones is so very important. With my father’s cancer still going, every day we have him is a blessing. We hope and pray that the treatments will be done in January, but it depends on if the tumor in his liver is gone. My mother had stage 4+ Ovarian cancer and endured treatments from 2001-2003.  She survived, but those two years were two of the most difficult of all of our lives.My own brush with death this year made me face my own mortality and everything I truly have to loose. Without your health, you have very little.
  4. Believing in yourself: You must believe in yourself and your abilities. Forget what anyone else says, don’t pay attention to them. This is your life. It’s not about them, it’s about you. I forget that sometimes and get wrapped up in others’ opinions, and that can get me offtrack and off center. The secret is truly to just get away from it. Whatever it is, it cannot distract you if you do not let it in your circle, your world. Do what you know is right and listen to yourself and your own conscience. You will never go wrong in being the best you can be if you believe in yourself.
  5. Happiness: We all must find that place within ourselves, deep down, from which our happiness comes. You know that place that no one else can touch. I have found that place deep inside myself and it has helped me through many hard times. For me it comes from my Faith in God. That is where my joy originates. But everyone must find it for themselves, and keep it, hold onto it. What originates your joy will be the place you return to to get you through the rough times.
  6. Passion: No matter who you are, where you are, or what you do, you must be passionate about something. It doesn’t matter what it is, just as long as you have passion. I am convinced that it is my passion for living life, for writing, for being the best I can be that has made my life so wonderful. Having passion is the difference between existing and really living.
  7. Love: Pretty self explanatory. Tis the season for love. But you must have it all year, not just around Christmas. Surround yourself with positive, loving people and you will always be in good company. And don;t forget about romance. I am truly enjoying that right now too.

These are the six things that are the most important to me and my life and this weekend has been a great reminder. Tomorrow is church then spending  time with the man. Life is good.

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