Sunday, December 8, 2013
Friends, I started the week off with the most magnificent sounds of the season you can imagine!
And here’s me with three members of Mannheim Steamroller’s Red Touring Group!
Three Members of the Red Touring Group
L-R: Jeff Yang, Tom Sharpe, Joey Gulizia
I’ve listened to them for YEARS, and here they showed up in my backyard!
Okay, not literally of course, but practically in my back yard! AND they indulged me with this photo…
(though the poor violinist on the left might not be so charitable the next time…looks like I nearly sliced his neck with my program!)
If you’ve never heard their Christmas you must run, RUN I tell you, to the nearest store and pick up any one of their Christmas CD’s.
I promise you will LOVE EVERY NANO SECOND OF THE SHOW.
And if you ever have the chance to see one of the touring groups in person, ditch the dress heels, strap on your running shoes and get to the ticket counter as fast as you can.
This music is even more spectacular in person, and these band members?
Every single one of them plays multiple instruments, as in like four or five or more!
And the one drummer, Tom Sharpe, it’s as if those drum sticks are a fluid extension of his body. I’ve never seen anything like it folks; his body Feels. Every. Single. Note.
Honestly. It’s like he IS the music itself.
Want to know what I decided as I sat in that audience?
If I had a bucket list, attending a Mannheim Steamroller concert would be at the top of it.
When I told the band director that during the meet and greet after the show, he smiled and told me, “Just be sure to make it a long list.”
I’ve never been the groupie type, but there’s a first for everything isn’t there...
And, then there’s the figurative music to my ears…
Things like, “My children will be home for Christmas” and “My children will be home for Christmas.”
That’s worth a chorus line, don’t you think?!
The week wouldn’t be complete without the next installment in the Soon-to-be-50 cards my mother has been sending.
Fifty is like the most glorious harmony to me because I’ve survived, Journeyers.
I’ve lived through puberty and bulimia and depression and child loss and miscarriage and motherhood and infidelity (times two) and a fire that claimed our family business and it’s been seven years since I kicked a twenty-six year nicotine addiction.
I’ve cried and laughed and given up and stood up and I am here, turning fifty and finally, finally knowing what I want to be now that I’m all grown up.
Which means that the best years are ahead of me!
And get this—people are actually going to pay me to be older.
I don’t know about you, but I think that’s one mighty fine birthday gift, one that just keeps on giving, day in and day out.
This group is going to give me discounts and put more money in my pocket for things like trips to NYC and Europe and Nacogdoches, TX, and for those delicious smelling perfumes I love.
Who knows, maybe those savings will begin today while I’m out enjoying a little holiday shopping!
And I do mean enjoy, Journeyers. If you’re out and about, I hope you, too, will not think of gift giving as a chore, but something you are doing from the heart…
If you are stressed about it, then don’t do it…schedule a time for after the holidays to gather with friends and extended family…
It won’t be the end of the world. I promise.
Christmas, after all, isn’t about commercialism; it’s about the music of that moment we call birth…life…
May you feel your own heart songs in the coming week, Journeyers…
Speaking of life and the heart, Warren and I finished out the week by attending a Lee Greenwood and Crystal Gayle holiday concert.
Though we were two of the youngest audience members, we couldn’t have felt more united when Lee sang Proud to be an American!
Ditching my purse at the last second meant that I forgot my phone, which means that I didn’t get a single photo for this post or for my mom, who adores Mr. Greenwood!
That’s the great thing about imagination, though; it’s the next best thing to being there!
Thursday, December 5, 2013
Beauty arriving home for her college break…
Warren and Beauty and Big Guy off hunting to fill our freezer with fresh, lean meat…
And a house we rent out to paint and pull up carpets and clean and scrub and hang new blinds…all in a matter of two days…
The joys of giving…Two gifts of O positive from Beauty and me…
Fun in the kitchen with my daughter, who decided to make homemade Thanksgiving treats for the animals at a local shelter…
“Pumpkin pies” for the pooches
Treat balls for the felines
If she could, she’d coddle and love and dote on every stray in the world, just like this one she adopted over the summer and gussied up for the holiday....
He’s not looking to sure about his new duds, but he was all the talk of the table!
A first for us, we headed to the movies for a night out at the end of our Thanksgiving day…
Catching Fire, the second in The Hunger Games series, was AMAZING!
‘Tis the month before Christmas, when all through my house…
I thought about using the Schedule “Cheat,” since I didn’t get a post in last week, but I changed my mind…
All too often we feel like we HAVE to do something because it is expected, in this case, I’m afraid that if I don’t get at least one post in every week, then groups like BlogHer and those other places I aspire to work with will deem me an unfit/unreliable writer…
And then there’s the chatter of what we’re told, that if we don’t keep churning out words on a regular basis, the followers we have will fade away and move on to someone else’s story…
And, honestly, I like having you here, fellow travelers that I can laugh with and learn from…and I don’t want you to quit coming back…But here’s the thing, Journeyers, sometimes life and living and lost time get in the way of what we want to do, what we need to do, or what we expect or envision we’ll be doing…
And when that happens, we can either fight it and bitch about it and let it totally ruin us for a while, or we can accept that we can still have and/or do what it was that we wanted, but that it might just look a little bit different than we’d imagined…
So, what about you? What Moments(s) fed your happy last week? Share them here and spread a little joy!
Sunday, November 24, 2013
There is a woman who sells jewelry at one of our local craft fairs every year.
And each year I purchase a set or two for myself and as Christmas gifts for friends.
And every single time I wear one of the pieces, as I did several times this week, I receive compliment after compliment.
The name of her business?
That description sort of sums up this week’s happy…
The enjoyment of my most recent acquisition, the first pink ensemble I’ve bought from her…
Priced at only twenty-two dollars for the set, it’s like a double dose of satisfaction!
I happened to wear it at last Sunday’s gathering of new acquaintances. For that event, I made this Veggie Pizza, one of my favorite finger foods.
Doesn’t it look absolutely decadent?
That’s a cream cheese and dill sauce, topped with fresh cut vegetables!
The week began with the newest arrival in the Soon-to-be-50 series of cards my mom has been sending.
Next was a visit to a favorite, local Christmas shop, where I found this decorative set of measuring spoons…
Which, of course, I couldn’t come home without!
I found a few other gifts, including this hilarious stocking stuffer…
And at our office hand-made holiday bizarre, I found this adorable snowman made from a pewter salt shaker.
The week ended with a shopping and manicure trip with a girlfriend.
This outfit grabbed my attention and still won’t let go.
How do you think this would look on a TEDx stage?
And now, here I sit, wrapped up in an afghan, with a cup of piping hot mint tea on the table beside me.
Two of the greatest little treats to ward off the chill in the air…
What Moment(s), big or small, fed your happy these past seven days?
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
After years and years of thought and research and processing and contemplation, things are coming together for The Five Facets.
I could have been deterred by the few naysayers, but instead, chose to follow the enthusiasm of those who encouraged me to pursue this passionate work.
I have been fine-tuning the concept, honing in on what the messages are and who they represent.
There are so many exciting things beginning to come together that I must admit it’s a bit daunting at times.
This past weekend, I finished my first written and audio drafts for the upcoming TEDxSFA presentation in February. It’s only ELEVEN weeks away!
I also have a few other people who have expressed interest and I’m in the process of putting together pitches for possible collaboration.
As thrilled as I am, I must admit that I’m also a bit nervous and afraid.
How do I, someone who’s always felt inadequate but also optimistically hopeful, sell myself without appearing desperate or egotistical?
Is my approach confident yet humble?
Am I finding the right balance between promoting my work and my expertise?
Will I be able to become one of those people who are taken seriously given the fact that I gained most of my knowledge on the subject on the streets and in the trenches as opposed to in the classroom?
I recognize that my personality can be intense; am I creating some semblance of harmony between that passion and these projects?
Amongst the clutter on my desk, I keep a few pieces of inspiration, items to remind me to appreciate my dreams and to keep going when I hit those proverbial bumps in the road.
When major disappointments, like when not one of the seven medical professionals I sent letters to responded, this little pin Warren gave me is a reminder to keep sticking my neck out.
It’s during times like that we can do one of two things: We can let rejection cripple us or we can ask questions and find a way to improve and move forward onto the next idea.
Remembering that it’s not personal helps out a great deal.
The Chinese fortune posted at the beginning of this piece rests not too far from my computer…
…as does one of my business cards.
All of these simple little things are inspiration to keep me going and reminders of what is.
The writing reminds me that our dreams are always important and that, if we choose to pursue them, they will lead us to wherever we need and want to be.
The pin reminds me to keep moving forward and to continue being courageous in the face of uncertainty.
And the business card reminds me that we can be professionals, even in the absence of a college degree...
What resources keep you motivated and moving toward your dreams?
Sunday, November 17, 2013
My week began with number five in the Soon-to-be-50 series of fun my mother’s been sending me.
She even managed to inject a little more humor into Warren’s birthday celebration!
At the ugly (as in I can’t believe I’m up at this time of day!) hour of pre-dawn, there’s nothing that gives this Night Owl a Good-Morning-Pick-Me-Up like a pretty sky, and this sunrise couldn’t have been any more mesmerizing.
And, speaking of beauty, Dove has a way of touching all the right places, don’t they?
This recent #WeAreBeautiful campaign left me…(near) speechless…
Thank you, Dove, for your continued inspiration and the reminders that beauty is a state of mind…
Speaking of body image, this couldn’t have come at a more opportune time…
You know I’ve sort of been celebrating my weight loss markers, but the past two weeks have been a bit rough.
I don’t know if it’s been my hormones, the rising full moon, the shrinking light in our days, or just lack of conscientiousness, but I’ve been eating with reckless abandon, and all the wrong kinds of foods, like half a jar of roasted peanuts and peanut butter pretzels by the handfuls, and my Achilles heel…bread…
I can’t tell you how much it warmed my heart when Big Guy announced that he wanted to contribute something to our dinner the other night.
He's taking a Food & Nutrition class this semester and was so excited about these cheddar biscuits he’d learned to make.
Given my recent weakness for all the wrong foods, I was happy that I stuck to only one biscuit, even if my plan to enjoy it over a few meals failed…
As I’ve watched the number on the scale rise, I’ve been working hard to love the skin I’m in, and to keep that giant hammer stashed away.
And speaking of treating myself well, I’m so happy to tell you that my first written and audio drafts have been sent off to the TEDxSFA team!
I had such a feeling of accomplishment when I hit that Send button, two weeks ahead of schedule!
I spent almost twelve hours editing and doing run-throughs on the components yesterday, figuring out those little glitches that read fluently but somehow are sticking points when we are speaking those same words out loud.
And the shower and the shaving of my legs and the putting on of clothes felt that much more refreshing at the end of the day.
Afterward, I spent a few hours visiting with and watching the all-new The Christmas Ornament with a friend who loves Hallmark TV even more than I do.
Cameron Mathison and Kellie Martin are soooo good together!Unlike that biscuit, I didn’t stop at one. I watched a marathon of these feel-good holiday movies.
And to round out the week?
I finished Level 155, Journeyers, just before sitting down to write this post.
Who cannot feel happy with this sort of silly and fun encouragement from an interactive game?
And now, I’m off to re-start a good habit and take me and the dog for a walk, before the rain starts.
Heck, if I don’t beat the sprinkles, maybe I’ll change it up and walk, anyway! Maybe I’ll find it to be an emotional cleansing, just like this Happy Happens guest poster from Dreams and Colour did.
Then I’m preparing a healthy snack to take when I meet up with some people I recently met, some of who might just be paesanos…
What Moment(s) fed your happy this week? Spread a little healing energy and share your joyful flash(es) here!
Monday, November 11, 2013
Right now, millions of people all over the world are experiencing a loss due to one of these 5 Ds: Death, Despair, Destruction, Disease, or Dysfunction.
When mayhem or mishap touches our lives, we often feel as if we are totally alone and gasping for air.
We often feel as if our tragedy defines every nanosecond of our days and every fiber of our very existence.
The refrain that often runs through our minds is, “How am I going to survive this?”
The holidays and other celebratory events are difficult times for those who are experiencing grief.
The holidays and other celebratory events are also difficult times for those of us who love someone experiencing grief.
Tonight, I have the privilege and pleasure of sharing The 5 Steps to Healing Through the Holidays with Pia Louise on her BlogTalk Radio show. TONIGHT. 7PM
(the link will take you directly to the show!)
If you know someone who is experiencing a loss, or if you are looking for ways to help her, please consider joining us for strategies you can use to help your loved one “get through” the holidays during this difficult time.
And to all of our veterans here in my hometown, near, or far, to all of the men and women who have served our country, and to all of their families who’ve supported them in their choice, thank you. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your dedication, your loyalty, and your courage.
You are forever in my heart and in the hearts of many…
Yours in healing…
Sunday, November 10, 2013
Yesterday, I spent a gloriously exhausting day at a TEDx event, where I met with many wonderfully new and exciting ideas and people.
One speech brought together those two entities in the form of a single word: Paesano.
Paesano, as he told us, literally translates to countrymen or villager, but the truest essence of what it represents is friend.
Not the “Like” me on Facebook fellow you see in a million posts and images that say: “You should’ve been there!” or the “Liked” person whom you only speak to when you run into her at the grocery store or your child’s school.
The paesano is the person who was actually there, sitting beside you on the beach, at the bar, in the stadium, the funeral home, or the Fun House at the fair.
The paesano is someone you can and will go to when your child is affected by a lice outbreak in school and you have to treat every square inch of your home to prevent further infestation.
The paesano is someone you can and will tell your greatest fears to, one with whom you’ll share your greatest hopes and dreams, your unabashed silliness, and your least and most reverent thoughts.
Of the many people I connected with at this event, one was a paesano of nearly two decades, and there seemed to be a spark with four others, a glimmer that may or may not lead to that lifelong kinship.
But no matter how those relationships develop or where they take us, one thing is for certain: They were an integral part of the Moments that nourished my happy...
Here are the other week’s highlights:
“I wasn’t here when you got the news,” Warren said as he handed me these gifts, “but I wanted you to know how happy I am for you that you’ve been accepted to speak about your work."
He’s one of my longest standing paesanos and exudes other qualities that exist in those types of lifelong bonds, like a willingness to learn and grow and adapt with our loved one when life shifts the foundations upon which she have been living…
Smiles were delivered as another card in my mother’s fun and heartwarming Soon-to-be-50 series arrived in my mailbox...
And during the mother-son bonding that occurred as Big Guy and I worked to create and build a better habitat for his turtle, Squirtle...
This young man has had a fascination with turtles for as long as I can remember, and sister Beauty thought of him when she found this young creature, one that wasn’t much bigger than a fifty-cent piece when she brought him home for her baby brother.
I’ve always hoped that my children would grow up to be paesanos, that they’d count each other among their treasured friends to share life’s many moments, be they good, bad, or indifferent…
Squirtle is a simple demonstration of that type of bond…
And speaking of Big Guy, I was honored and proud to sit in attendance as this young man’s hard work and dedication to community, character, academics, and leadership was rewarded by an induction into the National Honor Society.
I’ve tried to refrain from posting pics of my children all these years, because I want to respect their privacy, and yet, they are some of the most important people in my life…
From here forth, I’m going to trust that some day they will appreciate these living journals, that hopefully these posts and messages may eventually serve them in some small way, just as they’re serving me and you, my comrades in this online community…
I was also paesano to myself week, as well. You see, other than laundry (we have to have clean underwear, now don’t we?) and doing the dishes, we haven’t touched any other household chore in three weeks.
The grit I kept picking up on my bare feet was really beginning to annoy me, as were the two large bags of rotting apples, fruit that was fresh when Warren picked them from our trees two weeks back so I could make homemade applesauce and pie filling.
I was beginning to do what so many of us do: pull out the hammer and berate myself because I wasn’t keeping up with Emily Post-style standards, and I was feeling like I was behind and would never catch up.
When I don’t let things like obligation get in my way, I love cooking and being in my kitchen. It’s probably my favorite room of the house.
So, rather than continue to feel all icky, I decided on Tuesday to take the time to take care of those apples. I now have five quarts of applesauce and two batches of apple pie filling in the freezer, deliciously warm Moments for a future, cold winter’s day.
Keeping that momentum, I asked Hubby if we could attack the housework after dinner and concentrate on the things the House Helper did when she was here.
In less than two hours, Warren and Big Guy and I managed to clean both bathrooms from top to bottom, scour the kitchen, sweep and mop the floors, clean and dust all tabletop surfaces, broom off the deck, and put away the baskets of laundry that had taken up residence on the sofa.
Last but not least of the moments that brought me joy these past seven days is this zany Subway employee who dresses up like a sandwich and dances on the sidewalk to support his job, both literally and figuratively, I’d presume…I see him at least once a week as I drive by the intersection, and his enthusiasm as he bounces around always draws a smile…
What about you? What Moment(s) nourished your happy this week?