MEMORIES FROM 3 SISTERS AND MAYBE YOU TOO!

I haven’t blogged on this blog for quite a while, I am not sure why, but I am working to get back into the routine and share my thoughts again.  You have all had a break from my random thoughts!

Easter Sunday I was talking with my sisters and discussing that I haven’t had much to write about for a long time and didn’t know why.  Patti suggested that we each write a segment about a topic so that is what we have done.  Amazingly, we chose a food topic, how funny is that?!  The topic ended up being our favorite meal(s) growing up but we could spin the topic any way we wanted.  No restrictions here except it be family oriented.  So you will read from all three sisters and see how very similar and different we are.

My favorite meal growing up was mom’s lasagna.  Whenever I had a choice as to what dinner would be, that was always my pick.  Today I realize that I had no idea how expensive it was to make but I don’t remember ever not having it when it was requested.

Mom always made two huge pans of it.  The sauce was always from scratch, I’m not sure in those days if Ragu or Prego existed!  I remember the huge pans sitting on the dining room table and how much four hungry kids ate.  I still love lasagna although I haven’t eaten it in a very long time.

When we were older and had homes of our own, mom would make lasagna in smaller casseroles and we would bake it ourselves.  The first time she did this for me, I went home and threw it in the over to bake.  When I took the foil off, I found out that she covered it with plastic wrap first and then foil.  I baked the plastic wrap too!   It apparently wasn’t poisonous because I am still here!  Of course we ate the lasagna anyway!

Another favorite dish mom used to make was “city chicken” and I still love it.  She used to take chicken, pork and beef and skewer it and bake it with gravy.  I would love to tell you how to make it, and she even tried to teach me but for the life of me I do not remember.  I just love to eat it.

Mom always worked hard to cook good meals and it was impossible to please 4 picky kids.  She always cooked a meal and we always sat at the table as a family, 5 PM, always.  There was never a pot on the table; everything was in serving bowls, no paper plates.  She was and still is very particular about how her table was set.  That is one of those things that you don’t understand as a kid but as an adult looking back, it was really nice.  Thanks Mom.

FROM BARBARA

My Favorite Food?

Not long ago my sisters and I were discussing favorites – everything and anything goes when we start talking.  Marilyn is the family blogger; Patti is the reader and I’m the family historian so there are a variety of interests to discuss.  Somehow, at Easter dinner, we were discussing Marilyn’s blogging and why she wasn’t posting the way she did a while back.  Thus, the suggestion that we each participate and share on a topic was made and that’s how food became the topic.

I don’t remember having a favorite food while we were growing up; only the foods that I hated and that caused a commotion every time they were served.  I know I loved lobster, clams, and crabs when we went out but nothing seems to pop into my head for dinner at home except that I HATED peas, lima beans, liver, and pot pies most of all.  Thus, the mealtime chaos ensued.  It took bottles of ketchup, gagging, mushrooms (they were hidden in food), and going to bed early – and sometimes hungry – because Daddy and I fought tooth and nail over my dislikes.   The odd thing is that I love the vegetables that everyone else hates, including Brussels Sprouts, broccoli, and cauliflower.

As an adult, I still hate the foods I did as a child and, unfortunately, am allergic to iodine so lobster, clams, and crabs are forbidden foods.  Now, there are the foods I’ve discovered and the preparation of meals that makes life interesting.  I love to grill when the weather permits and have several other foods that only I make.  Raising children (and now grandsons) makes it a challenge to make comments about foods at a meal.  My kids understand my dislikes and each has developed a different like of foods too.  My daughter loves peas and a lot of others but my son hates most vegetables. Now it’s their turn to pass on the food legacy.  Sorry kids and – Good Luck!

AND HERE’S PATTI!

When I was about 10 years old my mom and I went out to lunch together.  Just the two of us.  We had never done that before and never did it after that time.  We went to a place I believe was called the Longwood Hotel.  It was a very old traditional Florida building.  It was two-story, built from wood and painted white…or maybe grey.  There were beautiful old oak shade trees around it.  I don’t remember, but I’ll bet there was Spanish moss hanging from them.  We got dressed up, we wore dresses and mom wore high healed shoes.  We never went out to eat, so to go out to such a nice place, just the girls…I thought it was just the most special thing in the world to do.  There are only two things I remember about the meal.  One was that they brought us a finger bowl, a bowl of water with rose petals in it and a dry cloth to wash our hands after the meal and before dessert.  How elegant is that?  The other thing I remember is that they served the most delicious little tiny peas.  They were the best things.  Years later I had those peas again…they came in a little silver can.  Who knew?  I still love those peas.  And every time I make them I think of that lunch.  Paula Deen has a recipe in her book called Paula Deen Celebrates!  It calls for two 14.5 oz cans of LeSueur peas well-drained, 4 tablespoons of butter and salt and pepper.  She says “Don’t laugh, My family loves these as much as anything fresh I make”.  Maybe it’s a Southern thing.

Thanks Barb and Patti for sharing your stories.  Now it’s YOUR turn to share.  Send a comment, as long as you like, and share a favorite food related memory from your past.  Like it or not, food is a memory maker!  I’d love to hear about your memories.  Don’t be afraid.  Memories are hugs when you share them!

 

 

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My Body Image Reality

One of my favorite authors is Nora Ephron.  I particularly love her book “I Feel Bad About My Neck”.  It’s very funny and I recommend it if you want a good laugh.  When I originally read the book I didn’t feel bad about my neck.  I have been saying for years that I didn’t have many wrinkles (humor me here please!) because I was so fat all the wrinkles were pushed out.  It turns out that this seems to be true; self-fulfilling prophesy or something.

Since I have lost weight, my neck is turning into a turkey neck.  It isn’t bad yet but I can see it coming.  Oddly, one side is worse than the other.

The rest of my body has turned into what I call puppy skin.  You know how the mama dog can carry the puppy around by the skin and the little one just hangs there from the slack?  If I pull on the skin I get a few inches of slack.  This is not because I didn’t exercise enough because I surely must have.  I think I abused my body so badly that this is just the repercussions of my actions.  Losing 65+ pounds at my age is going to have some negative impact on my body.

I never intended to ever wear a bikini again but it would be nice if my stomach would at least pretend there was a usable muscle in there.  I know there will never be a 6-pack but a 2-liter bottle would be helpful.

And if that isn’t bad enough, Michelle Obama had to go and make fantastic looking arms fashionable.  First ladies should absolutely be required to keep their arms covered.  When I am in the middle of a hot flash it can be 20 degrees outside and I am miserable.  I wear sleeveless blouses or tank tops all the time.  I have worked with weights and there IS muscle under all this loose skin.  You cannot SEE it but believe me, it is there.

This leads me to ask if there are any cosmetic surgeons that do Pro- Bono work?  Can I donate my body to a cosmetic surgery school?  Since I am not interested in a bikini body scars wouldn’t bother me.  I would like to be able to look really good in clothes.  If you are the guy that was pretending to be a plastic surgeon and injected super-glue and concrete into women’s rear ends – don’t bother to apply.  I want the real deal.  I’m not desperate, I’m just inquiring!

I’m not complaining; I look amazing compared to where I started.  I can now wear a size 14 comfortably and am working toward a 12.  I’m thrilled beyond belief.  Do I obsess about how my naked body looks?  No, not really.  I was at peace with my body when I was large I can be at peace with it today, jiggly skin and all.  I just think I have about 10 pounds of loose skin hanging off me and that would be better off on the operating room floor.

I’m not really interested in a face lift or a boob job, although I wouldn’t turn one down.  I would really like my arms to be pretty.  I hate feeling like the skin is going to slap me in the face if I wave my arms to fast!

I know we are not supposed to worry about that stuff  “after a certain age” but those age lines are being re-drawn every year that I get older.  I am not going to settle into being a dumpy older woman quite yet.  I think I still have a few more good years left.  Isn’t 55 the new 40?  Or something like that?

WHAT IS A GRANDMA?

Nothing warms the heart like the love of a child, at least nothing I can remember.  I have guarded my heart for years to avoid the pain of not having children in my life.  It has been easier to avoid it completely than to suffer.

As most of you know I was not able to have children and adoption was not an option in those days for many reasons.

When my first husband and I lived in Germany in the early ‘80’s, we were very close friends with a couple that lived next door.  When they had a little boy I was lucky enough to babysit him, and Tom and I became his Godparents.  Little Tommy (that was his real name, not a fantasy name I gave him – I am not totally insane!) was a dream come true for me.  I got to fulfill all my mothering needs and I enjoyed every minute.

It was during this time that I lost my 4th baby and learned that I was not going to be able to have children of my own.  As heartbreaking as that was for me, little Tommy helped heal that wound.  Somehow I lost sense of reality and allowed myself to become too wrapped up in the fantasy.

When Tommy’s dad was transferred back to the United States I was devastated.  I dreamed of him every night, I heard him calling my name (he called me Mimi), I saw him everywhere we went.  I missed him so much all I could do was cry.  It was like a death all over again.

My depression intensified to the point that I couldn’t go anywhere that children would be present.  I just could not deal with other people having what I wanted so badly.  Seeing a pregnant woman even sent me into a tailspin.

Finally, in order to find a way to live my life again, I had to cut off relationships with children.  I was not mean to anyone but I would not let children into my heart ever again.  People who had children could not be our friends.  That was the only way I knew to deal with the pain and sadness.  That worked rather well for more than 30 years.  Up to now I have lived content without children.

This past week, John and I went to Virginia to visit his son Sean and his family. Sean and his wife Melissa have 2 children.  I have held them at arm’s length for many reasons.  First, I am John’s wife but not his son’s mother and second, we live in Florida and they live in Virginia so we rarely get to see them.  I do not really have a relationship with Sean; how can we get to know each other when there is so much distance?  And these children have Grandmother’s that are active in their lives and love them very much.  Why confuse the issue?  I am just John’s wife.  I am not a grandmother, that honor rightly belongs to the ones they have.  And, I know if anything happens to John I would never see them again.  I mean, why would we?  There would be no reason.

So how come I came home yesterday full of joy and love for these two little ones like I have never known.  How on earth did these two kids steal my heart from me?   Somehow on this trip I became a Grandmother!

As I said, I have tried to hold them at arm’s length, not pushing myself on them.  I waited for them to come to me.  I understand kids have to warm up to people and I never like it when parents make their kids give hugs and kisses when they don’t feel the need.  It is confusing for them.

Aiden, the seven-year old, was talking at dinner one night and said he had five grandparents and asked his mom how many she had.  Later I told Melissa that I didn’t think of myself as a grandmother.  I didn’t explain why, it was just a statement.

A couple of days later I was teaching Hannah the name that Aiden gave me years ago, MeeMoo.  When Hannah said it I was thrilled.  I am not sure she actually made the connection to me but it really didn’t matter.  She said it!

I know I will have to tread carefully because I will go “all in” too soon, but I am learning that protecting my heart also robs it of a love that is sweet and pure.

I might need guidance from my friends that are Grandma’s.  I am new at this and will need to know the rules.  But then again maybe not knowing the rules will be better for me.  I will be myself and that is really all I have to give right?

 

MY GOD STORY

Ever since I was a little girl I have always heard that voice deep inside me that kept me out of trouble, most of the time anyway.  Mom said it was my conscience talking to me.  As I grew older and more mature in my faith life, I have come to believe that it is God talking to me.

Before you judge me as nuts, let me clarify how I feel it is God.  Mostly if what the “voice” tells me to do is biblical it is probably God (thanks Patti!).  For instance, God will not tell me to steal or cause harm to others.  God tells me to do the right thing even when it isn’t what I want.

I am not here to debate what anyone else should or should not believe.  I am merely expressing how God works in my life and how I understand His will for me.  It is important you understand this before I tell you my latest God story.  It is also important that you understand that I am not asking for anything else either.  We are not victims, life happens and we all do the best we can to deal with the cards we are dealt, for whatever reason.  There are many people with problems worse than we have, if you have the time and means, please help them!

For the past several years Florida’s tourist industry has taken several big hits.  We had the three hurricanes in a row one year, the oil spill, big business hurting the little guy and of course the fallen economy itself.  John’s business works directly with the businesses that sell to tourists.  He sells bathing suits; flip-flops, sandals, towels, hats, T-shirts and such.  His business has steadily declined to the point that I have ended up the main support which was never intended.  (I also had a pay cut due to the economy.)  We have suffered financially to the point that we are losing our house.  This has been a painful time for us trying to make decisions that will change everything about our little world and we have not agreed on the decisions that have had to be made.  We have consulted lawyers and made the best decisions possible.  Our mortgage company would not assist us in any way when we tried to do the right thing so we were left with no alternative but to let the house go.

A few weeks ago I talked with the mortgage company about a loan modification and we decided that this option was not for us so we declined.  I also talked with a lady about doing a short sale but did not think that would work for us either.

I love listening to Joel Osteen’s Sunday message and Sunday, September 19th I believe, he gave a message that said that God’s plan for us was to do something “awesome” in our lives, something we had never seen happen before.  And I said to God, go ahead and awe me!  Which you know, when you challenge God, you are going to see something happen!

On Sunday, September 25th, I saw an ad in the newspaper from a realtor that specialized in short sales.  I thought that was amazing since most of the realtors I talked with did not handle them.  Here was a company actively seeking this business.  I filed it in my memory bank and moved on since it really didn’t apply to us.

John left town Monday for a trade show in Daytona Beach and would be gone all week.  He does this every year to capture the local business that is not able to come to Orlando for the larger show held earlier in the month.

Tuesday morning when I was leaving for work, I drove past a house in the front of the neighborhood that is for sale.  There was a couple in the front yard reading the real estate sign and I heard that voice inside me say “stop and talk to those people”.  Of course I drove right on by and then heard the voice again say “go back and talk to those people”.  This time I turned around and went back and pulled in the driveway.  I asked them if they wanted to buy a house and told them to look at mine, it was for sale.  They were Vietnamese and didn’t understand English!  Ok God, what are you doing to me?  I’m going to be late for work!  But somewhere I heard call your girlfriend Buppha (she is from Cambodia).  Amazingly, she answered her phone.  I asked her to talk to the couple and tell them that I had a house for sale, a short sale, and that I was not crazy.  She does not speak fluent Vietnamese but she got the point through good enough and I loaded them in my car and drove them back to my house.  With their broken English we did the best we could to communicate and I wrote down my name and phone number.  She said her sister speaks English and she would call me later.

A few hours later the sister did call and told me they loved the house and wanted to buy it.  I was not expecting that at all.  I spent the rest of the day talking with the mortgage company to see what could be done and how to do it.

When I went home I dug through the recycle bin and found the ad from the newspaper and called the realtor.  We made arrangements to meet Thursday evening to discuss everything. They warned me that the people interested probably would not work out and not to get my hopes up.  I told them that God was directing this, it was a God thing, and it would all be fine.

I talked with the sister on Wednesday and explained that the realtor would be at my house at 5:30 Thursday and she asked if they could come over also.  I said sure, what did we have to lose?

Thursday evening as I was coming home from work, John had just pulled in the driveway from his trade show and the realtor was already there as well.  To say that John was not pleased is an understatement.

I gave the man I talked to and his partner a tour of the house and they took pictures for the listing.  They gave me tons of paperwork to complete and send back to them ASAP.  In the middle of all this the Vietnamese family arrived in full force, the couple wanting to buy the house, the sister that interpreted and two other unknown people.  Add more chaos to the party!

After all the discussions it appeared that the couple was well qualified and indeed a real prospect.  HELLO – God already said that!

I called the bank on Friday so that they could get the appraisal ordered; it is the bank that sets the price for the sale of the house.  Then I spent the weekend filling out all the required paperwork for the realtor and the bank.  We cannot list the house until we have a price, we cannot get a price until the appraisal is done and the couple cannot sign a contract until we get the price.  So now we wait.  The appraisal was done Tuesday, October 4th.

John has not been too pleased with me through all this.  A short sale is not what he and I discussed or even agreed upon.  However, when God talks to me, I listen.  I know people do not understand this, John included, but I have to.  I have been praying for John’s heart to soften, for a messenger to come to him and help him to see this is a good thing.  He is too angry at me to listen to my logic.

Saturday, October 8th, there was a reunion breakfast for Evan’s High School, John’s alma mater.  There is a group that meets every month, we rarely go but John wanted to visit with an old friend he knew was attending.  When we arrived, there was only one booth available and we were sitting with a retired lawyer that works at the courthouse with people going through foreclosures.  He understands all this better than anyone!  THANK YOU GOD!  John asked him several questions and I think we both left feeling better.   John is still not happy with the situation but he is more accepting than he was.  There is hope!  (and by the way, the friend he went to see never showed up!)

Of course it is now Monday the 10th and we don’t have any answers.  That is because today is Columbus Day and all the banks are closed.  But I am not the least bit worried at this point.  I know God is working this all out for the best interest of everyone concerned.  Right now the message is” wait” so I will wait.

Tuesday, the 11th, the bank gives me the selling price.  The realtor lists the property and the potential buyers are no longer potential.  We have a contract!  God is faithful!

We still have a long way to go in this adventure but I know God is guiding the path.  Prayers are welcome! I will write more about this journey of faith as it continues.

Have a blessed day!

 

 

MY 5K EXPERIENCE

Wednesday I saw a Facebook post from my friend Lisa about a free 5k run.  Running a 5k is a goal of mine and free certainly was a motivator.  I decided it was time to see how well I could do.  My expectations were not high, I just wanted to try.

I have been running (more like jogging, I am really S L O W) for a couple of months now.  I started my diet and new lifestyle in June and as the weight has left my body I have increased my activity level.  I can now run two miles without stopping.  So, a 5K run isn’t really out of the question, it is a goal within reach.

I signed up on-line for the run and didn’t pay much attention to the sponsorship info.  It didn’t matter to me; I was going to participate no matter what   The run was named “Step In The Name Of Love Walk/Run”. 

Thursday night at pool I told my friend Ben that I was going to run a 5K and he said he might run it with me.  I pretty much thought it was a courtesy thing he was saying because people say they will do things all the time and never do.  I let him off the hook immediately and didn’t give it another thought and was very surprised Friday evening when I received a text from Ben that said he would see me in the morning.  I was so touched by his support but still didn’t really think he would show up.  Lo and behold, Ben called this morning and was already there waiting for me. 

We weren’t exactly sure of the location of the event so we parked our car and started walking to find the event.  About a mile later, we found it.  Already I am tired. 

Central Florida has had beautiful weather all week, hot but low humidity.  This morning it feels like a sauna.  I have no idea what the temperature is but it is hot and muggy already.  This is not looking very positive but no worries! 

While waiting in line to finish registration and get our numbers, it dawns on me that the event is a 12-Step event and figure out that it is for people affiliated with recovery and their families.  I have been affiliated with the 12-Steps for over 20 years and know what amazing people belong to this amazing fellowship. 

The paperwork said the runners started at 7:30 and the walkers started at 8.  I know we started late which is not unusual for these things.  When the herd took off we were in the rear and I could not keep up with Ben at all.  I could tell I was pushing myself too hard so I stopped and told him to go ahead without me and I was glad that he did.  I ended up following two other people and was ok being last.  It would have been a bit humiliating if the walkers that started a half hour later caught up with me but that didn’t happen. 

I was plodding along the route, following others; while the others were already completely out of sight.  The trail was marked with yellow ribbons but they were not very close together.  Most of them I never saw at all and was really glad this lady leading the way knew where she was going. OR so I thought.  We ended up in the woods following a path that lead to nowhere.  It is hard to run in the woods by the way so I gave up and started walking.  We back-tracked our steps and I fell even further behind, this time on purpose.  Once I started running again they were gone and I followed what I thought was the correct path. 

I have lost 50+ pounds so far and I have not invested in any new work-out clothes.  Since I am nowhere near my goal it would be a waste of money to invest in sweat clothes that I will not wear very long.  Given that, the more I sweat the more the clothes stretched.  My pants were starting to fall down and I had mistakenly knotted the tie.  Now I am laughing at the sight of myself, pulling up my sweat-soaked pants because I couldn’t re-tie them.

By the time I found the finish line I was exhausted.  I have no idea how far I ran or walked or how much of the course I even used.  All I know is that I crossed the finish line and my dear friend Karen had come out to take pictures!  That was the nicest surprise ever!   And there was Lisa too, cheering me on!  Amazing!

Ben had finished the run and when we were talking he told me he couldn’t believe we had to run the track twice.  TWICE?  No way, I am not even sure I ran it once! 

Am I disappointed that I didn’t accomplish the goal?  Not one bit.  I did actually, because I showed up and I tried.  I wanted to see how I would do and I did!

For Instance:

  1.  I am not ready to run a 5k.  I need to train a bit more before I attempt it again.
  2. September 17 is still too hot to attempt a 5k for the first time, untrained.
  3. Nothing starts on time
  4. Addicts don’t follow directions
  5. Even after 20+ years co-dependents follow addicts anywhere
  6. It is easier to run the track you are used to than a new one that is unfamiliar
  7. Friends show up and their support is priceless
  8. Progress not perfection.
  9. I am loved.

I set my goals and work toward them.  I still believe with all my heart it’s the journey not the destination.  Today I did something different, learned something and didn’t give up. I had a great day!

 

9/18 – I forgot to add the pictures Karen took!

WHAT I LOVE ABOUT FALL

Fall is my favorite time of year.  After the heat of a Florida summer, I welcome the new season with relief.  Fall takes it’s time arriving here, the beginning is usually still in the mid 90’s, lower if we are lucky.  Labor Day week-end sets our minds toward fall but the official start in 2011 is September 23rd.    There are slow tiny changes, maybe a slight breeze in the air that didn’t move at all a few days ago.  The temperature slowly declines from 95 to 92 and one day 88.  Ah, the 80s, finally!   The humidity is not 100% anymore and the afternoon thunderstorms are less frequent, unless there is a hurricane. 

You can finally wear a blouse with a sleeve and not know that it was a big mistake, maybe even jeans instead of shorts.  I’m in the season of hot flashes all year long so sweaters rarely are in my closet let alone on my body!

By mid-October I always wish I had a convertible instead of a sunroof.  But I do enjoy the sunroof and am thrilled to finally drive with the windows open.  As soon as I get home from work I open all the windows and doors to let in the fresh air.  (We have a vicious dog in case you are thinking of breaking in!)

I love all the colors of fall and can’t wait to pull out my storage box marked “FALL” to decorate with my little do-dads.  Opening the box is opening memories.  I replace my summer door decorations with a sunflower wreath.  I have candle holders that require a trip to Yankee Candle for their pumpkin scents.  I don’t go crazy decorating; there are just small little accents that make me happy.  In October I decorate the lawn with dancing ghosts, they are not scary, they are fun and playful.  I gave up on planting fall flowers years ago and now go to the Dollar Time and buy fakes.  As long as they are seasonal and look good from the road I am happy. 

Fall used to be all about comfort foods and making the house smell warm.  My sister shared a recipe for Pumpkin Crisp and I make it every year; many times!  If I have a pot-luck to attend this is my go-to dish.  (And yes, if you want the recipe I will be glad to share!)  Hearty meals start to take the place of light summer salads.  It is a time for nesting, snuggling. 

We love football in our house.  John is a UCF and Gators fan for college and a Tampa Bay Buc’s fan for the NFL.  I am a die-hard Dallas Cowboys fan and can take all the trash talk you want to give.  If the Cowboys are not playing I root for good games and good teams.  I am big on underdogs and most of the time if I root for a team they lose.  So if you are not a Cowboys fan, you are pretty lucky.  If you are a Cowboys fan, I am sorry!

Getting up early on Saturday morning allows me to go for a nice long walk.  I have a five-mile route that I mapped out and I take my time to enjoy the walk itself.  This is a time of peace and quiet for me.  I don’t take my MP3 player because I want to be alone with my mind and my God; some of my best writings have come after these walks. 

Fall is the time of festivals.  I fondly remember the Craft Shows with my Mother-in-Law Heidi.  (Her given name was Hilda but she will always be Heidi to me!)  This was our thing; we spent the entire season going from one festival to another.  It wasn’t about buying stuff as much as spending the day together.  I fell in love with her in a new way each season.  I haven’t gone much since she passed away; it makes me miss her too much.  This time together taught me to listen to her wisdom and recognize her humor and grace.  She was an amazing lady.  I hope that accepting others is a trait I received from her. 

New TV programming finally arrives!  No more reruns!  There are new shows to discover and usually discard but every once in a while you find a gem that is a keeper.  The younger generation can’t appreciate the rerun doldrums of yesterday when we didn’t have cable, DVRs or DVDs.  And speaking of yesterday, we get to re-visit the Charlie Brown Specials of The Great Pumpkin and A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving.  I still love the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.  I have no idea why I love it so much, maybe it is just the tradition.  I remember the first time I saw it with our color TV, it was magical. 

Thanksgiving is still my favorite holiday.  It is not built around gifts and commercialism but of love, friendship and gratitude.  The entire point is to be together and love each other, share great food and memories.  Expectations are low except for the good food part; we do expect good food and want to share our best.  It is the time when you bring a stranger home for dinner and they are welcomed because they need a place to be.  Some of my best Thanksgiving memories come from being a military wife and welcoming soldiers to our home for the holidays.  They were the least picky of anyone, they were just happy to be somewhere with a home cooked meal (even MY cooking!) and a cold beer. 

We have a wood burning fireplace on the patio and I enjoy spending the cooler evenings outside listening to the cicadas and the wood popping with a nice glass of wine.  A nice soak in the hot-tub makes it even better. Peaceful.

Fall is a time of gratitude that I survived another hot summer and a time to rest.  All too soon the insanity starts all over again.  I like to enjoy every peaceful moment. 

 

LOVE LETTER TO MY FRIEND – WELCOME TO THE 50s

I follow a web-site called Magic in the Backyard (http://magicinthebackyard.wordpress.com/) which I love.  She has a lot of writing ideas and suggestions; it is like Learn to Write 101 and Writing Encouragement 102.  Every Friday is “Free Write Friday” where she gives a topic and guidelines for the “assignment”.  I have participated in a few of them and always enjoy the challenge.  Participants post on their own blogs and share the link on her page.  It is a wonderful process and a great learning experience too.  I enjoy watching as we all read the same assignment and everyone comes up with different ideas. 

When Kellie introduced this week’s topic, Love Letters, I went UGH.  But, something made me read anyway and it turned out that my initial impression was very wrong. I am so glad that I continued to read.  Love Letters is an amazing project by Hannah Katy and her web-site is http://www.moreloveletters.com/.  It is well worth a visit, especially if you like to write.  This is something anyone can do, age doesn’t matter.  Whether you are 10 or 90; we all have experience, strength and hope to share with others. 

So, here is my love letter assignment and you may see more of these as time goes by!

 9/3/2011

Dearest Friend,

This year you celebrate turning 50 and I pray that it will bring you peace. 

At 20, I knew everything.  There was no problem I couldn’t’ force to a satisfying solution.  I was never satisfied but I lived with the results and was sure I had done well. 

At 30, I had already known great disappointment and sorrow.  My life seemed to spring forward and take me places I’d never expected.  All those plans I had never seemed to materialize.  I was still smarter than most people and learned how to please others instead of myself.  I thought what others thought of me was more important than what I thought of me.  I was completely lost and no longer knew who I was or what I even wanted anymore.

At 40, I learned that I was completely stupid.  I knew nothing at all.  This was the best thing that happened to me.  Accepting that I knew nothing made me willing to learn, listen and grow.  I allowed people who had “gone before me” to share their experience, strength and hope.  And I listened to what they had to say, really listened.  I was like a sponge soaking it all into my soul.  I learned about a God that loved me, a savior that saved me and my right to worship as I pleased.  And to allow others to worship as they believe.  We don’t have to agree anymore, we can choose to be different and still love each other.

Now, mid-way through my 50s I am happy.  The 50’s have been the most free I have ever felt.  I am on yet another path of discovery, fine tuning what I have learned.  I can be loving and selfish at the same time.  I can say no when I don’t want things and yes when I do without wondering what others will think!  I can wear clothes I like and not worry about fashion.  Comfortable shoes, amazing!  I can dress to the 9’s and I can look like a slob, it is my choice!  I wear my hair the way I like and I know that none of those things matter anymore.  Things are not what life is about.

I tell people, like you, that I love them.  I show a stranger a kindness.  I love hugs!  If an act of kindness pops into my head, I follow through, just for the fun of it.  I have learned to do the “’right thing” for the right reasons.

I am no longer afraid.  I take risks.  I have fun.  I know what fun is!  I dare to be different and go against the grain, in the kindest way possible.

I used to think being nice was being a doormat.  Today, if I leave this world and people say I was nice it is the highest compliment I could receive.  I am grateful for that. 

I have been blessed beyond belief and love being 55!  Welcome to the 50s, I hope you love it as much as I do.

Love,

marilyn

HURRICANE DAY PLANS

Today was supposed to be a hurricane day.  Since we live in Florida we are used to hurricanes and know how to plan for them.  The first thing I always do is plan a huge indoor project that I never accomplish.  The idea is that we are held captive and can’t do anything else anyway so we may as well tackle that “thing” that we have been meaning to do for ages.

The reason we never actually do the plan is complicated.  Sometimes the storm hits too late in the day to get started.  By the time the next day rolls around the storm has passed and life goes on. 

Part of accomplishing the plan has to do with the cable being out.  There has to be something to do when there is no TV to watch.  One year we rented all the “Sex in the City” DVD’s from our local video store.  We had never seen the show and decided this would be a good thing to pass time.  We did actually accomplish that plan, it was a long storm.  By the time we were able to go out we went straight to the local bar so I could order a Cosmopolitan.  I had to taste one and I loved them.  Who knew that three was too many? 

The DVD situation has really ruined the plan.  Now John prepares in advance. The only way to get away from the TV now is if the power goes out.  The last several storms we had, we never lost cable or power.  Plus, if the power goes out we can’t accomplish anything anyway.

This storm, I planned on doing the fall house cleaning.  It is almost fall and it needs to be done.  Since I never accomplish the plan anyway and we didn’t get the storm, I thought I should go through with it and get it done.  John had that deer in the headlights look when I told him about the plan.  He was very grateful that he wasn’t involved and left as soon as he could.

I put on the rubber gloves and tackled those jobs that we all hate to do.  Going where no man has gone before, I took my bucket of pine sol and scrubbed both bathrooms from top to bottom.  I don’t know what it is about scrubbing bathrooms but getting the walls, doors and windows extra clean is always so gratifying.  Spring and Fall cleaning is just different from normal everyday cleaning.  I have a love/hate relationship with it, I hate to do it but love how everything looks when it is all done.

The house is now scrubbed in places that rarely get attention.  Everything smells fresh and clean.  I already see things I missed but the will have to wait until the next hurricane.  They can be the next plan.  This storm has passed.

PARADISE

What is paradise like?  This question can go two ways in my mind; the heavenly paradise that is beyond imagination or the place I run when life gets too much.  I choose to describe the latter.

I run away in my mind to a place where people love and care about each other when life gets too much for me. It is filled with people who are honest, kind and thoughtful, who care about their neighbors, friends and relatives.  No one is fat, thin or ugly; we do not look alike but we are all beautiful from the soul.

No one has too much and no one needs for anything.  There is no class system.  And no worries either.  Everyone does their share because the community is more important than the one.  We don’t have to search for what our gifts are, they flow from us and are obvious and we are comfortable with them.   We are allowed to be who we are without being judged.  We teach and learn together. 

The temperature is in the mid 70s, warm enough to enjoy the days and cool enough in the evenings to need the warmth of another human being.  It would rain sometimes so that the plants and flowers get their fill and also to remind everyone of how much we love the sunshine.   We are near water and lush vegetation.  Everywhere you look is beauty.  Waterfalls, flowers, fluffy white clouds and lovely blue skies. 

There are nooks that are quiet enough for meditation and large areas that the community gathers to celebrate and socialize.  People do not suffer from diseases; young children do not die in vain.  No one is cast aside; we all matter and are able to see each other through God’s eyes.  And there is no war.

Life is simple, easy and happy.  That is paradise to me.

5 Songs I Would Have On A Desert Island

Five songs that I would have with me on a desert island sounds like an easy topic but it is hard!  Actually naming the songs isn’t as hard as the “why”.   And what am I going to use to play them?  They will always be in my head and heart.

  1.  Dream A Little Dream of Me by Mama Cass.  This is my very favorite song.  It’s a little jazzy, a little bluesy; everyone needs a little of that in their life.    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r_070zWcEuk
  2. Free by Church of Rhythm.  Being on a desert island I would be FREE from all of the trappings society puts on me.  Free to live the life I want, not worry about the past…. Live simple, pure.   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IFRG7wboM0M
  3. In This Life by Colin Raye.  In this life I am blessed to have been loved by you.    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lCVo_69Gv4w 
  4. A Broken Wing by Martina McBride.  After a few broken wings, I am really learning how to fly!  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dgjTO5eAbZY
  5. The Lord Is My Shepherd by Dennis Jernigan.  Everything about this song is beautiful.  The beautiful prayer set to music.  Amazing.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SLP20bGLsQYI

There you have it, my top 5 picks in no particular order.  I just cannot imagine my world without this music.  I have copied the U-Tube links for your listening pleasure. 

What would you pick?