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.

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.

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.

Faith in Love

What makes us, I wonder, have faith in love? On the surface, this may seem like a silly question, but it has a much deeper significance. What I mean is, after we see it fail so many times, what makes us want to keep trying? What makes us still have faith in that happily ever after? What makes us still have that glimmer of hope that one day…Where is the origin of Faith in Love? From where does it come?

What makes us keep looking and what makes us settle for less than what we really want? Do we just get lonely? It is born from the need to share? I recently had someone tell me that they were not with the person they really wanted, but that they just didn’t want to be alone, they had a lot of great gifts to give and just wanted to make someone happy. This person is just human. I think many people have felt that way at some point in their lives. I have felt that way. The only thing that has stopped me from having a ‘place holder’ so to speak is the knowledge that I would probably hurt the other person. No one wants to be just a ‘place holder’ – that person who is used because no one better is available.

The Book I am currently reading has me thinking of many things. In addition to the wonderful erotic part of this story, there is further examination of the bonds of love and how it truly feels in the human soul. When the two main characters meet, she describes the feeling of when they first shake hands. That current of electricity, how it nearly knocks her off her feet, how she feels it every time they meet subsequently after, how it affects her, how she knows she has to stay away from it at first and exactly how things develop from there. I have felt that electricity upon meeting twice in my lifetime.  Once in my early 20’s, once in my late 30’s and fell in love with them as well. I wonder if that electricity is real, or just an attraction? Is that the platform on which love begins, or it is just an illusion? Is there really such a thing as love at first sight? And what makes us have faith that it actually does exist?

I know from experience, that when we feel that electricity, especially if it is mutual, (and if it is that strong then it usually is), it is irresistible to us and we must follow. I tried both times to stay far away from both men I felt it with, and failed miserably. I simply could not stay away, as circumstances seemed to interfere again and again, making sure we were at the same place at the same time. Scary, thrilling, fun, breathtaking, amazing, terrifying are just some of the words that come to mind. And we must follow.

Maybe it is Hope that makes us have faith in Love, and that love at first sight does exist. I say that because I hope what I felt was real. I hope that the next time it truly lasts. I hope that what was felt was mutual. And I hope one day I feel it again. One thing is for sure, when you have felt it, that strong, pure and irresistible, it makes it hard to settle for anything else. A ‘place holder’ just is so…small and pale in comparison. And as powerful as loneliness can be, I don’t think it is powerful enough to replace the hope of that feeling again. Maybe the third time will be the charm.


The High Dive

Ever since I was a child I have always had a sense of adventure, a wanderlust for …life. I was four when my mother decided to enroll me in swimming lessons. We had a pool already and I was allowed to swim with my “floatties”, but I could not wait to really learn how to swim.  And I loved going to the swim lessons. But it was not the lessons I looked forward to as much as the reward for doing well in the lesson.

From the fist day I was memorized by what was called the high dive. Twelve feet up, it was so high and amazing. I knew I had to dive off of it. On the second day of lessons I finally got up the nerve to ask if they would let me. They said they had to ask my Mom first. They did and she (has since said) she swallowed hard and said if I wanted to do it, and thought I could, to let me try. One of the many reasons why I love her.

So at the end of the lesson, they said I could go. I was so excited that my entire 4 year old body was shaking. So I started up the ladder – straight up. But I didn’t care because up was magic. Up was freedom. And then, finally, after what seemed like climbing up forever, I was up at the top. And I walked out, to the very edge and it was breathtaking. All the instructors had formed a semi circle around where I would be landing in the water. They wanted to make sure I would be safe. My Mom watching (and later I learned, shaking) I took a breath and jumped.

I don’t remember hitting the water, but I do remember suddenly being and swimming underwater. It was magic. I remember swimming under all the instructors, looking up while underwater and thinking how funny their feet looked. And then I popped up behind them and surprised them. And every day that I did well in the swimming lesson, I was allowed to jump off the 12 foot high dive.

And that began my love affair with what if? And there have been many moments in my life, a few even recently, where I have been so excited that I shook. I don’t know where this sense of adventure comes from. But there has also always been a drive inside me, almost instinctual, to keep going and pushing beyond what you think is possible.  A passion to succeed at whatever is decided. To ignore the odds and just go for it.

I have said it many times before, life is the adventure you make it. Be free with your curiosity, take chances, love with all your heart, smile when you are happy, cry when you are sad, believe in others and in yourself and really live.

Balancing Needs

We all have needs. Things we need from others in our life. When we are in a relationship, part of the problem is communicating what you need. That has never been my problem. I am very good at communicating what I need.

The trick is finding someone who you can tell your needs to and have them met. Men always say they want a girl who tells them what they (the girl) need, a girl who will be assertive and not make the man guess what is wrong. I don’t think men know what they want, because I am that kind of girl and it only causes problems. And I guess it will continue to cause problems until I find that man who is the right fit. You, that mysterious “One” people talk about.

For that man who is a fit, he will gain a wonderful partner. Someone who will always be there for them, but it must be reciprocated. I think some guys get lazy when they are spoiled, and then when the girl needs something, they get upset. – Well she hasn’t needed anything before? She hasn’t required anything but me saying thank you for cooking, cleaning, and everything else-ing, why do I have do anything more now? Where is this coming from? Why is she being so unreasonable? I just need some space….

But the man who is the right one for me, will gladly step up and support me as much as I have them. It will be a true partnership, one where there is give and take. And I don’t think it is ever fair to say 50/50, because life doesn’t happen 50/50. Life happens all kinds of ways and most of the time one person will give 70% the other 30%, then the next time it may be 20/80, then the next time 60/40…but it all balances.

The problem happens when the one who has given 70% suddenly can only give 20%…and the other who is ised to recieving that 70%, is not ready to give 80% in return. Confused yet? Yes math, and relationships, do that to a lot of people. But that is what being a partner means, picking up the slack when the other cannot do that 50%, and the other picking up your slack when you cannot do your share either. It should balance out.

And if a person is brave enough to say what they need, brave enough to trust and be vulnerable, to say they cannot do it all themselves and need a partner, and that partner bails….Then was the bailing party ever a partner to begin with? Probably not. But if that partner steps up, then hold onto them, because they are a rare jem indeed.

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.


“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.

Protected: A Girls Night In, a Movie and a Lover

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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.

Letter to My 16 Year Old Self

This post was inspired by a post I saw on Freshly Pressed:

I know you are very strong willed and head strong, and are going to do what you want, but here are some tips to keep in mind along the way. Plus, everything that happens really does happen for a reason, and makes you into a great person who is strong and comapssionate. First, you are beautiful. You will later look back at pictures and wonder what you were so self conscious of. Life at this age is awkward, from your body, to boys, to school, to, everything. Don’t worry, it all turns out OK. And don’t worry about your boobs, they fill out. It won’t happen until in your late 20’s and 30’s, but it does happen.

Second, remember that man who read your palm at your parents house? He said you were a writer, and you thought he was a bit crazy – he’s not. You do become a writer and it is even more fabulous than you could ever imagine. You write a book, many articles and you are happier in your career than you ever thought you could be. You also make really great money. In addition to writing, have a great career in radio in your 20’s. Your first boss in radio will be one of your lifelong best friends. You will also do a stint in finance…though you make a lot of money at it, it is not your true calling. Don’t feel bad when you leave it. You are not a failure, on the contrary, you are becoming what you were meant to be. You work hard and create the life you always wanted, and all the sacrifices along the way are worth it. You live your dreams.

Forget about what otehr people say and stick to your guns about doing the right thing. It pays off and your will always respect yourself.

Spend more time with Wendy, you’ll wish you had when she passes just a few short years from now. Her passing will have a deep and profound effect on you. And know, when it does happen, that there was nothing you could have done to stop it.

There will be two years, from 19-21, that you call the dark ages. Know that the things that happen are not your fault and you did nothing to deserve them. Forgive yourself.  Listen to Amy, she sticks by you, supports you and loves you, even when you don’t love or believe in yourself. Know that these years help shape the canvass of your life and that you truly do become a better, richer, deeper person for your expereinces.

You and your sister fight a lot now, but later she will be your best friend and biggest champion. You will also be hers. The Link between you two only grows stronger with age. And she hides your keys in the couch (you’ll know when you get there).

Mom, she is . right. Always. Don’t talk back to her as much, and yes you do need to clean your room. YoYou don’t know it, but she has cancer now though it won’t be discovered for many years. Be prepared for the first time you see her in the hospital, your knees will almost give out…it doesn’t look good and she has enough wires coming out of her to look like the back of a stereo system.  She survives but the next two years will be rough ones. They will tear you apart inside, but they will also bring the family even closer. And go to Vegas (you’ll understand when you get there).

On Dad: Take pictures of when the two of you work to fix the caliper in the rain. That will be one of your most cherished memories with him. As you get older he will be more and more one of your best friends and you often say he truly is the best man you know. And he is. And go out to dinner with him when he asks. That is very important.

You will have many friends in your life, and not all of them will be true or honest. But that’s OK. That is just part of life. You  don’t have to understand why, just love them and know that it all works out. Through it all, there will be many who stay your friends for life.They will be your heart.

On love and Dating:   You love with all your heart and everything you have. That is a very good thing, but you hurt the same way and just as deep. It’s all part of it. Don’t change it, as each time you love, it is deeper and stronger, until you are capable of loving even more than you thought possible. Loving someone is never a mistake, it is a gift. Never pass up the chance. Even if it doesn’t work, you will have wonderful memories, and a great book to write.

Having said that, here are some things you need to know: Don’t worry about what happens with your high school sweetheart. The man you date after that will say he loves you – believe him. You will spend many years looking for a man who will love you as unconditionally as he does. The man you call the love of your life truly is. When sis sets you up on that blind date, and you feel it, you are right. But that does not mean that you will end up together or live happily ever. after. It does mean that you will forever and always be thankful. It is worth it. Every second.

Some men you date will be wonderful, some terrible.  Somewhere along the way you get the idea that you have to be nice to everyone who wrongs you. No, you don’t. You do not have to give chance after chance. Remember that. If they were worth your time, and treated you right, you would not be walking away in the first place. Be civil, but beyond that they can kiss your ass. That goes for men, bosses and friends.

On Marriage: You have a sneaky suspicion that you will never get married and will always be a free spirit. You very well may be right. You do get close twice. The first will be with the man you are with now, just 13 years later. At 37 you decide that you will probably not ever get married and plan to start a family on your own once in your 40’s. With the second man, remember to trust your gut instincts. Don’t stay in the hotel. You love both of these men with all your heart, but sometimes love isn’t enough, and you have to let it go. And that hurts, a lot. You don’t regret either expereince or planning to marry them.. You loved them, and that is all that matters. Yes it is worth all of it, and yes you would do it again. It is never a mistake to love someone, never a mistake to take that chance, even if it ends badly. Love them, just as much, just as true. Just learn from those mistakse so you do not repeat them.

Also never forget who you are. You are magnificent, strong and capable. As in any life, there will be great highs and lows. Times you hurt so much that you can’t even cry, and great moments that you think you may pop from joy. I wish I could hold you through all those bad times, and tell you it will all be OK, but you already know that deep down, don’t you? Even if I could take away the pain and hard times that you will go through I wouldn’t, because that would deprive you of the knowleadge, expereince and depth you will gain from having gone through them and come out the other side. The pain you go through will carves out deep spaces within us, so that we may b=fell and experinece life even more deeply than we ever thought possible, but life must carve those deep spaces out first.

Know that as I look back on the girl you are, and the woman you grow into, that I am proud of you.

You will always be clumsy, that never gets better. Save more money, you’ll need it when the job market gets bad. Renew your tags every year – that’s important. And no, you really do not need to drive that fast. Give up on your sock drawer and your closet. Those will always be messy. You sing great…in the car. Never forget that.

There are many more things to tell you. I would love to sit down and have dinner and fill you in. But just know this…it is a magic, sometimes tragic, beautiful, wonderful, terrible, heartbreaking, joyfull, life. And it all works out.

Love You Always


Sitcom Moment #37…Oh Christmas Tree

Written a few years ago and thought I would share. Enjoy!

This year I could not wait to put up my Christmas tree, so last night I broke out the new artificial one (the cat peed on the one last year, so had to throw it away).  As I weaved the lights in and out of the limbs on the tree, my heart filling with the joy and excitement that only the season can provide, I noticed the light strand was a bit tangled.

Now, if you find yourself in this situation, please, unplug the lights before untangling.  I did not do this and found myself temporarily blinded when finished and looked back up at the tree.  Well, in the true spirit of a Pinktank (my nickname), I tripped over where the lights were plugged into the wall – falling, blindly, flailing, into the Christmas tree.

As the tree and I not so gracefully fell to the floor, I could hear “Chestnuts Roasting…” playing in the background.  When the fall had been completed, I was tangled in a combination of lights, light chords and Christmas tree limbs.  Surely anyone watching would have died laughing, as I clumsily tried to stand up, still attached to the tree; it jerking and moving in ways that are completely unnatural for an artificial tree, and I spitting out plastic needles.  The cats had run into the corner, shaking in fear that this Christmas tree monster might come and eat them (maybe this will be enough to keep them out of it).

I did finish decorating the tree and no ornaments were harmed…can’t say the same for the tree. It is now a little lopsided and leans a bit to the left.

Maybe Santa will put some Grace in my stocking…

The Happy Hum of Contentment

There is a place that I try to avoid at all cost. It is the mall during Christmas. Maybe it is the fact that you have a park to a mile away, maybe it’s the crowds and the long lines, maybe it is all the sales people in the center aisle to stop you for samples and make over’s, that just make me really not want to be there. I don’t know  But yesterday I braved all of the above mentioned to get some very specific gifts that could otherwise not be found.

And to my surprise, it was quite pleasant. The stores were very festively decorated, but not too crowded, the sales were good, the lines short and the people friendly. And I walked around, looking for things to purchase and truly enjoyed myself. There was the Santa who was taking pictures with pets, the large Christmas trees that reached many stories up to the top of the ceiling, and the wonderful Christmas music (did I mention I love Christmas music?). What I was sure was going to be a hustle and bustle kind of hurried night, turned out to be a very pleasant trip into Christmas Retailville.

And all along, I felt the happy hum of contentment. And this Christmas, that, along with my life and the health of my loved ones, is the best gift of all.

A Museum, a Birthday and a Visit

This weekend has been wonderful, full of ripe moments of family, friends, love, laughter and warmth. My Mother, Father, Sister and Nephew all here to visit. My father has his )hopefully last) treatment for liver cancer, my nephew is turning 21 today, and my sis is up to help celebrate. And this entire weekend has been a celebration.

It started Friday as The Man and I spent great time together.Easy, fun and we discussed all that was ahead. This experience has been delicious. We went to dinner and had a good time laughing and listening to live music. When back at my place I cleaned the house getting ready for my family’s visit, as he relaxed and kept me entertained. Time snuggling on the couch after housework was a great reward for everything being done.

The Man on Dad's Boat, Thanksgiving

I find I truly enjoy “playing house” so to speak. It may sound very 1950’s, but I do enjoy cooking, and even cleaning, when someone else is around the house, feeling the happy hum of contentment. I love making my house comfortable and enjoy whipping about while he relaxes.  I have been on my own, self-sufficient, self-reliant and independent for so long, it is nice to do something just for the pleasure of someone else, or just in their company. He seems to delight in watching me too. He smiles when I trip over the cats, or the vacuum cleaner chord, or whatever, as I am so very clumsy. He laughs at the fact that I may already be plotting to steal his socks (as I have previously written, I have a thing for mens socks). He tells me I am adorable and beautiful, which of course, I love to hear. I am enjoying the ease, comfort and trust with which we move. And I trust him.

We talk of the future, how it is to be taken slow, but how we hope it leads to something. He and I have known each other for quite a while. He is patient with me. He knows I am a bit delicate now, and respects it. Somehow he knows how to encourage steps forward without taking advantage of my vulnerability. I hear his words “There is plenty of time,” and feel safe. I feel safe in his presence.

Saturday I picked my up my wonderful nephew for our annual traditional birthday trip to the museum. Every year his birthday

weekend I take him their. We have a great time, talking about the art, what we see in the paintings and sculptures, we laugh sometimes at what passes at art, and stare deeply at other pieces that seems to stir something deep inside. We people watch, and discuss and wonder about the lives of the other guests. We discuss topics of life. It is just a great time to spend with this young man, and it is our own tradition we have carved out and look forward to.

The Picasso
My Favorite
The Warhol

By the time my nephew and I returned home, the rest of my family had arrived. There were many hugs, and they were tight, as this season seems to be so much more meaningful than the ones past. The last time all of my family was together at my house was 4  months ago, when my ex attacked me 2 days before the wedding.

I have since heard from a friend that he has posted a letter to me, saying how he would still be open to talk and move past this…yet mentioned nothing of attacking me, choking me, threatening to kill me, robbing me, running from the police.  If he wanted to get past what happened and he really wanted to heal, he would be honest about what really happened. And he will never heal until he is honest about what happened. It just depends on how bad he wants it. Until he admits what he did – in detail – I will never communicate with him. (on a side note, apparently he threw the ring and earrings he gave, then stole from me in the ocean. Shame, so many could have benefited if he had sold them and given the money to charity. So many are in need this season. At least then others would have benefited from the ugly situation. Toys for Tots, The Salvation Army, The Red Cross…Or he could have simply given them back to me – with an apology.)

Saturday night was a delicious home cooked meal I prepared for my wonderful family. We talked, laughed, ate and drank in fellowship and love, each enjoying the company of all those around the table.  My father even went back for seconds, which is a huge compliment. Saturday night time was spent with The Man and my family and I drifted away to sleep with a warm soul. I am truly blessed to have all that I have in  my life, and the people are what make it wonderful.

Today was spent shopping and shopping. I am surrounded my techies and computer geniuses in my family, and I am the lone creative person. I don’t get computers and technology at all. And we went to Micro Center. And BrandSmart, my three family members like kids in a candy store, walking around wide eyed and with silly grins on their faces. They looking and grinning at all the things hanging in the isle and on the shelves, me wondering if they have a vending machine handy. I did have a nice compliment paid, as a very attractive man asked me if I had anyone special to buy gifts for this season. I blushed, smiled and said yes, I do, but thanked him for the compliment.

Tomorrow is dinner with the nephew and his first (legal) beer. He has finals this week, so he can’t celebrate too hard. Also, Dad’s final appointment and his cancer should be cleared. This Christmas season there is so many reasons to be thankful, so many blessings, so many things that have turned out OK.

Me after the whipped cream fight at Mom's

My Favorite Christmas Traditions

We all have those holiday traditions. And through the years, some change and some keep going. This year is a mixture of both. As my life changes, so do the traditions. A bit untraditional maybe, but I am very much getting rid of old baggage and things not needed. Some traditions may need to be taken out. I decided way back in June that this was the year to grab onto the new and trash what is not needed of the old. Traditions do give us  and consistency in an ever-changing landscape of life. But sometimes it is good to make new traditions, and new memories. And the nominees are:

The Christmas Tree: Every year I have friends and family help put it up. This year is not different, with cheesy Christmas music playing and the eggnog flowing, it is a tradition that must be kept. And my little Charlie Brown Christmas tree? Yes that is staying too, even though many have said I need a better tree. And, in keeping with my tradition, I may just let this years tree stay up past Easter. Again. After all, it is tradition!

The Date:  I typically avoid dating during the holidays. Like the plaque. If I am not already dating someone by the Beginning of November (possibly early October) I typically do not date until after the new year.  This tradition gets rid of the “I don’t want to be alone during the holidays” boys, and the awkward “What do I get someone I have only been dating a month” Christmas gift exchange. This tradition needs to go, obviously. And I am enjoying this year and shopping, which is a very pleasant surprise.

The Mistletoe: This tradition simply needs to be altered a bit. Even thought I do not normally date anyone during the holidays, I do usually engage in some holiday mischief. I hang up mistletoe and insist any man who crosses my threshold must kiss me. This year, that will not be the case, though I do plan to have the same amount of kisses, if not more, under the mistletoe.

The Cheesy Christmas Music: Blasting all the Christmas Carols I can in my car and house is a must. From Celine Dion, to Wilson Philips to Michael Bolton…the cheesier the better. This tradition stays. period.

The Stocking Shuffle: Every year, Christmas Eve, we sneak around each other and put “things” in the stockings. We are so Sneaky, we are Neaky…the S is silent (just an example of how cheesy things can get, and yes you can quote me). They are not expensive, could be pencils, candy and cute hand puzzles, but they are tiny little things that are given for the pure pleasure and enjoyment of it.  Every year my sis brings the stockings to my parents house, along with their hangers, and they are hung by the chimney with care. Yes, this tradition stays.

The Shopping: This defiantly gets changed this year. Usually shopping is done early, except for maybe a few last-minute gifts. This year, the holidays snuck up on me and I have not even started shopping. I may even have to go into a mall this year, which is something that I do try to avoid in a big city around Christmas. Pray for me.

The Socks: Every year, for over 20 years now, I give my father socks. This is more than a tradition, it is a requirement.  When I was about 15, the style was to wear the big, bulky socks. Well, I just went into my fathers sock drawer and took them. This went on for months when my mother finally came to me and said that my father thought is was sweet that I stole his socks, but he was running out. So, would I mind replacing them every now and then? And the tradition was started, that every gift giving opportunity, whether Father’s Day, birthday, anniversary, Christmas, whatever, he was given socks along with his regular gifts. And I still steal mens socks (as all boyfriends know).

The Pictures: Every year I am the photographer for the family.  I don’t see this changing, though I may have some competition as other family members are also very good at snapping those great candid shots.

Monopoly: Growing up, every year my sister and I would get up at the crack of dawn (5am) and play monopoly until 6am. Thenwe would sneak out, and look in or stockings (something we were not supposed to do). We then went back to playing Monopoly until 7, when we were allowed to wake our parents up and start ripping into the gifts. While sis and I have not done this in many, many years, we still have very fond memories.

Decorating Mom’s Tree:  Yes, it is a fake tree. Mom has put up a fake tree since the “Live Tree Incident of 1971’ish”. Mom and Dad were married and put up their first live tree. They had a disagreement about who should take it down – Dad, because it was the man’s job since Mom put it up, or Mom, because she was in charge of the interior of the house. Needless to say, with both my parents being just a tad stubborn, the live tree stayed up until they moved the next April…after it had long died and all of the little needles had all fallen off. Now we do fake trees.

This has been a family tradition every year since I was a child.  And Mom putting up the tree has always been a huge deal. It took Mom several days to put up the tree, shape the branches, and string the lights from the inside of the tree onto each one of the 2,000 tips. Then there are all the ornaments she has been collecting for 30 years. We each get our favorite ones and hang them on the tree. Oh, and the Snitch Baskets – little baskets full of candy that you have to sneak to eat. The tradition has been modified a bit, it is now a prelit tree to help save time and Mom’s back.

The Dinner: This will always be a tradition.  Mom, or one of us girls, cooks a wonderful Christmas dinner. It is usually Polynesian (or however it is spelled) ham. I tried to make it one year, but used too many whole cloves and it turned out to be…less than appetizing. I leave it to the experts, namely my mother, now. There are green beans and corn, and casseroles, and too many wonderful things to even be able to eat.  Then there are all the baked goods. Mom’s traditional Candied peanuts, which everyone goes crazy for. And the Pecan Kisses, than every one loves. Then there is the banana bread, pumpkin bread, sour dough bread. And the fantasy fudge and cheesecakes. YUM!

The Nap: It happens every year, it is just a bet to see who is the first one to fall.  We all end up falling and curling up in a bed, or on one of the world-famous, so comfortable you fall asleep on them couches, and nap. Happy, wonderful deep napping. OK, that tradition isn’t going anywhere either.

There are other new traditions I hope to start this year as well, but I don’t want to give those away yet, I want to savor them first. And these are my favorite Christmas tradtions.

The Best Gift

We all have that one gift that we have been given, that one that just stands out more than any other.  It could be a Red Ryder BB gun, a dollhouse, a whatever that one childhood toy that you always wanted more than anythign else in the world. And throughout the years, it stands out as the best gift. Ever. As I was watching How the Grinch Stole Christmas, because I am a Christmas sap, my mind went back to my childhood and that one gist for me.

I can’t remember how old I was, maybe 8 or 9, but I was very into Barbie Dolls. I loved my Barbie dolls like Ralphie loved his Red Ryder BB gun, maybe even more. My parents have always been craftly people, but that Christmas they surprised even me.  I got up on Christmas morning to the most amazing gift that has been given to me to this day.

There were all these little BArbie clothes laid out…wonderful patterns and modern outfits that were very well made, not like the cheap Barbie clothes you bought in the store…because these clothes, these tiny little clothes hadd been hnad stitched by my mother. Stitches so small a machine could not do them, they had to be done by hand. There were little jumpsuites and dresses made of soft wanderful flowy fabric, wonderful shirts, pants and skirts, all so very well put together and stylish. A thousand stitches by hand, sewn with love.

But that was not all. While some were laid out, others outfits were hung up in a hand made Barbie Doll case taht my father had lovingly made by hand.  This doll case had two drawers, perfect for holding all the shoes, brushes, rings, earrings, purses and whatever other Barbie Doll accessories. It had a litle mirror in it (for the dolls), compartments for storing the dolls, and even a wardrobe area to hang all the hand stitched clothes – and here is the wonderful kicker – the clothes that were hanging in the wardrobe area, were hanging on tiny little hand made wire hangers, that my father had also made for me. And this wonderful hand made with love, one of a kind case had an inscription: To Miss Ada Lamar Burch, with love, from her Daddy.

To this day, after many expensive gifts that have been given to me over the years, this one Christmas, those gifts are the best I have ever recieved. The time and the love it took to make those wonerful things for me make my heart warm every time I see them – and yes, I still have all of the clothes and the case.  I have the best parents in the world. And all my life, that has been the best gift.



Days of the New

This holiday has been great and wonderful. My family has been together and everyone is be is happy and doing well.  My nephews are growing like weeds and all doing well in c school.  My parents are happy and healthy, my father getting the final words on his cancer from Emory next week. There was much laughter, much delicious food, lots of eating, drinking and merriment. We sat out to talk and laugh by the new fire pit. There was taking the boat out and enjoying the beauty of all the nature that surrounds us.

There was putting up the family Christmas tree and telling the stories of all the old ornaments my mother has had and collected for so many years.  We all have our favorite ornaments and we love unwrapping the little delicate creations to find on that we have enjoying looking at in the tree. And this year, there was my guest, who at 6’4” could reach all the high branches the tiniest of ornaments needed to hang.

And he has been an absolute joy on this trip. It has been wonderful to have him here with us and he just fit right in with the family.  It is really this trip where I see how off my judgment was with my ex. But how was I too know that my Ex’s physical presence and energy would be so awful? He did not present himself to be one who had to be in complete control and from the moment he walked in to my home he tried to take over and tell my family what to do, how to do it and when. I had to remind him several times that this is my family and he conforms to us, as I would not ever be so presumptuous as to try to change his family or the way they do things. I think of how This Thanksgiving would Have been with the ex with my family and it would have been unbearable as he would have tries to control every thing.

My guest has been kind and gracious, respectful and has thoroughly enjoyed being around my family, as he says our families are very similar. I look forward to meeting his parents and siblings soon. If they are anything like he is, I will no doubt enjoy them very much.  My guest very much wants to relationship with me, and I think I have made up my mind. I trust my judgment of him.

I did not misjudged my ex at all, I believed him to be what he pretended to be, I trusted that he would tell the truth, and in the process he was able to con me, long distance over the internet. It is easy to pretend you are anything online. I trusted another human being, I took a chance, ended up being a target, but I took the chance. I will be smarter next time, but I release myself form the guilt of not seeing or being smarter. My ex was a consummate con man. I am not his first con, not the first woman he has abused, nor will I be his last.

My guest, I know him. And I like him. And I think I want to see where this goes.

Sitcom Moment #533: Thermostat Natzi

Every family has that one thing that someone is just a nut about.  It is the kind of thing in which sitcoms are made because  when you find yourself in those moments, you literally think, This would be really funny if I were watching it on TV.   Many of these moments happened this holiday weekend especially centered around the inside temerature.  There is a running joke in my family about the Thermostat Nazi.  Very similar to the soup Nazi.

It has been this way as long as I can remember. Even as a little girl I remember my father being very possessive of the thermostat. It was only the adults who were allowed to alter the temperature, well actually it was only my Dad. He was the Thermostat.  And somehow he knew if we were just thinking about changing the temperature. He had a sixth sense when it came to that thing, and if we changed it he would appear out of no where faster than a hunting dog on a hot trail.

Always one to have the latest in gadgets, he was one of the first to instal a digital thermostat. He was giddy with excitement as he hooked this new complicated device, this magical instrument that he could program with secret codes that we could not crack, and thus we would no longer be able to change the temperature. And indeed it was a formidable foe, with heat sensors, codes, and zones.  Until one day I discovered that if you breathed on the heat sensor, in essence tricking the new computerized thermostat into thinking it was suddenly 96.8 degrees in the house, it would turn on.

Now, my father is a good man, actually a great man. He is my hero and has taught me about having integrity, being honest, keeping your word, as that is truly the only thing for which a man can be judged. He has built an very successful business on the principles of honesty and integrity, and indeed,  based on his word alone, he can make or break another’s career. But he is obsessive when it comes to that thermostat and the inside temperature.

When he and my mother built the house in which they now live, he made sure to add a very complex thermostat system, with zones, digital sensors all over the house, and even more complex codes.  And as he has gotten o0lder, bless his heart, he has become more and more cold natured. So, it will be 85, yes 85 in the house and he will have a jacket on while the rest of us are melting. And try cooking in a house when the starting temperature is 79…not pretty.

It is the women in my family that have the reputation for being the most stubborn, and this is a trait rarely seen in my father…except with the thermostat. But I have to say that I am very proud of him this year. That even though he was cold, he did, after seven people complained of melting, turn that thermostat down, and kept it down to a comfortable level for most in the house.  And that is one of the many reasons why I love my Dad, the Thermostat Nazi.

Life Lessons: Discovering the New in The Old

In the beginning…yes, those are words with which we are very familiar. And I find myself wondering  what the rest of the story will be. There are many new chapters in my life; a new job, new writings, a new year, and many new possibilities. Through them all I will strive to keep true to myself, to keep reaching, learning and striving to better every day. There is an friend who is helping me along the way. Well, many who are helping actually, but one in particular. And this begs the question, if we already know the person, can it be new?

There is already a level of comfort and trust, already a knowledge of each other and already a comfort that has been established. We are spending Thanksgiving together, with  my family and I wonder how this will be. I wonder what we will learn. In this day and age of the newest is the best, bigger is better and flashy is king, can we actually learn from something , or someone that is not new?

Yes I think so. It is our job in life to alwasy be learning and growing. And this person is helping me see things that I had long forgotten, about trust, about fear, about opening up, about grief, about all of this that is relevant in life. And I am happy for the reminder.

I am also being reminded of the simple little things to enjoy about a man and a woman. Not from a sexual standpoint, but a place much deeper – the wonderful comfort a woman can feel being close to a man, to someone who cherishes her and thinks she is beautiful. Yes, indeed I was told for the first time in a long time, that I was beautiful. Not hot, as most men say, but beautiful. In a moment when there was no make up, no attractive lighting, no hair that was fixed, just me. And to be appreciated on that basic level, was a very nice reminder.

And as I have cried there have been whispers of comfort, of friendship, of compassion, understanding and encouragement. And quietly, ever so quietly, my fears are dissipating. Like the Pink Floyd song, I am (re)learning to fly. Marilyn Monroe once said “If you cannot take me at my worst, then you do not deserve me at my best.” He is teaching me that she was right.

He has brought back the human element to spending time with another.

And the little things of watching TV or movies on the couch snuggling are what he is reminding me of as well.  Talking during commercial breaks, laughing at the same thoughts or trying to figure out which TV remote controls the volume. A newness is growing out of a friendship that has existed. There is nothing to hide, we both know of each others past struggles and he brings an extreme amount of compassion and dignity to the table. He is highly educated and we often have very philosophical conversations about life, love, religion and of where we are going from here. Yes, we could talk for hours and often do.

And gently, ever so gently. And I wonder if this is what was meant when it was said that learning to let go and letting someone in is a beautiful thing?  And gently, ever so gently, he is patient. He knows I need time to go slowly, so slowly. When asked if my need for slow bothers him, his answer is a simple one, and one I believe. There is plenty if time. No one needs to rush because time is on our side.

I do not know where it may lead, I do not pretend the outcome. I can simply say that right now I am enjoying the lessons he teaches and am taking notes. In life, it is the learning and relearning of lessons that keep us growing, humble and thankful.