Monthly Archives: November 2013

Yup, we went to MOA last night.

I’m not a shopper.  And, I’ve never gone out on Black Friday.  However, last night we (well, really me) decided that we should go to the MOA (Mall of America for my outstate friends!) on Thanksgiving evening.  I had to start prepping him at 4:30 p.m. on the idea of how “fun” it would be.  He was quite against it but I had a feeling I might be successful in my quest.

We went to a movie with my dad and then out for Chinese food (our traditional Thanksgiving meal) and while he was hungry, I decided to pounce.  I told him how  interesting it would be (my dad laughed).  And, what a new experience we could have (my dad laughed again) hanging out at night at a mall.   I think I used up a lot of chips but eventually, he turned to my father and said that he was like a turkey with no choice but to be put in a deep fryer for cooking … I knew at that point we were going to the MOA!

As we drove out there we passed Target and Best Buy.  And, with their parking lots totally packed, I could see the nervous look on his face.  I anticipated his fear of the unknown masses at the mall and I assured him that if it was bad, we would just leave (I had no intention of doing so, but he at least looked relieved).

As we walked in we were pleasantly surprised that it was not that crowded.  However, there was one thing we quite quickly noticed … we were the oldest people there!  Where were you all last night????  The MOA was filled with young people (teens), parents with kids in strollers (I would never have dared with mine!) and us!

I tried to fluff up my hair and put on some Chapstick (I don’t have lipstick, so flavored kid stuff’s gotta do) so as not look too grandma-ish.  But, I don’t think it helped.  And, other than a quick return at Macy’s, a drink at Caribou, looking at toasters (oh, such a sexy purchase) and a grandchild gift … we didn’t know what else to do with ourselves.   We had such a fun idea but no idea how to execute!

I guess that shows our age (or our interest in shopping!).  We eventually walked back to our car, noted the time of 10:45, prided ourselves it making it so late in the evening and headed home.  And, so the AARP folks start the holiday season!

I hope you all had a wonderful day yesterday.  I was blessed with another year of taking the kids to serve Thanksgiving lunch to those less fortunate than us.  It puts it all in perspective.

Enjoy the rest of your (shopping) weekend!

This blog is not about being thankful.

That would be the typical blog for today, right?  Being thankful for the abundance of what we have?  But, you don’t need me to remind you of that.

Today, I want to remind you to be selfish.

If you’re anything like me, and some of you are, you take care of every one else first.  You do, do, do but not for you.  I’m often too afraid to be selfish and worry that it will take away from those I take care for.  But, if I’ve learned anything thus far, it’s that taking care of myself has to be at the top of my list.

You’ve all heard of the Airplane Oxygen Mask Theory, right?  Where you need to take care of yourself first (your mask goes on first), before you can give to others.    The notion is that when it’s only when you take care of you first, that you are able to help others.

When you feel like you are lacking, the answer is not always to give to feel better.  When you are depleted, it’s often best to do something for yourself.  It can be as simple as taking the paper and a cup of coffee for five minutes alone or with your favorite family member, after you cooked, cleaned and entertained everyone else all day!

Last night a friend took me aside and, knowing that I’m not a lover of the holidays and am going through some transitions right now, offered me a quiet place to spend some time this weekend.  My first inclination was to use my “I’m fine.  I don’t need any help,” line.  But then I realized that I am in need of a little R & R.  And, I am the most service to the most people if I am rested and nurtured enough to use to my gifts and talents, rather than running ragged responding to every single request in my Inbox (so to speak).  So, instead I said, “Thanks! That would be great!”

It’s ok that sometimes my hands are needed to put on my own oxygen mask.  And the same is true for you.  So, in the midst of being with those you love … take a moment for yourself.  You might even find that it will give you more focus and energy to appreciate the abundance of what’s right in front of you!

Have a great being thankful day!  XO

This was my LEAST favorite grocery store, until my visit there last night.

I guess I should qualify this title.  COSTCO is my least favorite grocery store, with its dizzyingly (real word?) tall aisles, the long, long lines and having to throw my raw chicken right in to the back of my car with no bag …. but this isn’t a blog about COSTCO.

Last night I went to Rainbow.  I didn’t want to leave the house but needed to pick up the stuff for baking today (we always bake bread for the homeless on the day before Thanksgiving).  Of course, as I wandered the aisles, I found more things than we needed … but that’s life.  By the time I’d gotten to the checkout, I’d spent close to $200.00.

As I was frantically trying to bag my own groceries (because there were a million people behind me) I dropped my entire carton of eggs, which broke all over the floor, my cart and some of my food.  S***!

The manager immediately comes over, assesses the disgusting situation, and proceeds to have the area cleaned and all new food brought to me.  How nice!  But, that’s not even the best part.  As I’m standing there (playing on my phone, of course) a woman walks up to the service counter with three little kids and hands the service employee something and the employee gives the woman and her kids two bags.

I can’t help myself and I walk over and start chatting with the service counter woman.  She tells me that last night the woman didn’t have enough money for her groceries and the store kept the groceries overnight (actually, giving her some items free because they knew she would come back) and that’s what she was picking up.

Wow.  How nice. By the time I’d finished this conversation, my groceries were cleaned up, repacked and ready to go.

I still am not in love with the lack of carpet, the fresh fruit and vegetable department or the long lines.  But, I did fall in love with the way in which they helped me and helped her.  Today, I’m going to pay it forward somehow.

Have a fantastic day!

 

Is “Thank You” enough?

There are three periods of time every year that give me pause.  One is a semi- religious/spiritual period (and I will address that when the time comes).

The second is the period from the birth day of my two sons (when my mom was diagnosed with brain cancer) to the anniversary of her death.  It’s a short six weeks and I often use that time to find quiet ways to connect with the people I love and think of her.

The third is this period, from Thanksgiving to New Years — the “holiday period.”  I used to hate (I hate that word “hate”) this period.  Now I call it my “Gratitude Time.”  It’s my quiet tradition.  One I’ve not really shared with anyone thus far.

When I separated from the kids’ dad I found that I had to share the children with him.  I also found myself alone on the holidays when everyone was with someone else or traveling.  I was devastated and began to dislike (better word!) the holiday period.  Then, I recall one day realizing that I was the only person who could solve this problem.  And, the only way to do it was to take the focus off me … to find gratitude, not sadness.

I started to remind myself that despite life’s challenges, hardships or loneliness, there is always so much for which to be grateful.   Once I did this, I not only began to feel grateful, but I began to meet people, strangers, who confirmed this idea!

What I try to do (and it’s not perfect) is to make a specific intention to thank those people in my life who have sent love my way.  Sometimes I do it silently.  Sometimes I do it in person.   I can’t tell you how good it feels and how it takes the focus off of me during this period and on to the truly important things in my life.

So, let me say thank you to those I may not see in the next month or so.  Those of you who read my blog.  I’ve had 2,000+ hits in the last sporadically-written 45 days.  You inspire and push me to find a better place for my thoughts and actions.  Thank you for taking me into your homes, sending my posts to your family and friends to read and for your loving comments about my million++ flaws.  There really is much to be thankful for (including my crazy “meeting” story for tomorrow!).

And with that, I’ll leave you with this quote, which I’m sure you’ve heard … but I need the reminder:

If the only prayer you said in your whole life was thank you…that would suffice.  Meister Eckhart

Thank you!  Have a wonderful day.

You can’t choose your family. It’s just that simple.

There’s this social requirement that says no matter how bad family members are, you need to remain connected with them.  I would say that’s a good goal, but it’s not capable of being borne out 100% of the time.  In fact, I would also say that such a social requirement is bulls***.  How’s that for directness?

There are going to be times when you have family members who are completely toxic to your life.  Those who do their absolute best to belittle you.  Those who are emotionally (or physically) abusive.  Or, those who try to destroy your self-esteem or crush the goodness in you.  Should you remain connected with those people?  I think not.

I’ve watched my oh-so-gracious brother deal with this very issue with his father, since our mother died.  And, I marvel at his ability to keep looking ahead, with very little anger or hatred … just acceptance and a decision to move on with his life.  Great job, Bro.  Mom’s with you every step of the way.

Here’s one of the biggest truths in life … there are just some things you don’t have a choice about.  Some things where you have to let go and disconnect.  It’s tough but sometimes it’s necessary.  Sometimes, this includes family.  Yet, this is thought of as taboo – to disconnect from family.  Don’t we espouse, “Blood is thicker than water?”  That’s why people stay connected … sometimes to the detriment of their well-being.

A while back I watched my best friend eulogize his father.  I sobbed the entire time.  Not because the eulogy was so good or because of the father’s death.  It was because I knew how difficult their relationship had been and how painful it was for him to put himself out there in that public sort of way, regarding a man … his father … who really was not a great parental role model.  I admired my friend so much for his words (and I used every kleenex around me to prove it!).

Life’s not perfect.  In fact, it’s super messy.  We are born and we will die.  We live with joy because of the people and the love we experience every single day.  These people don’t have to be family members.  They just need to love you and treat you with respect.  You, in turn, will do the same.

We can’t choose our family, but we can create one.  It’s just that simple.

And with that, we begin our quiet walk toward the holidays.  A time where love and gratitude (not necessarily family) should be the focus of our experiences.

Have a great start to your week!  XO

BFF.

When I was a kid, I had one best friend (other than my dog!).  That’s just how it worked.  But, as we get old(er), life changes and different people at different times that fit that category.

Recently, I was with some cool friends and one of them talked about this notion of “best” friends.  She reminded us that we’re all best friends to one another at any give point in time.  It made me think — maybe a best friend is not a particular kind of relationship — But, actually the qualities in a person that make that relationship feel “best.”

I think of many of you as “best” friends because you have these qualities.  Here’s my list:

1. Listening. This is obvious, but critical.  I can tell when someone is listening to me or just waiting to speak.  It’s in their body language.  When someone needs my advice (or visa versa) there’s nothing better than feeling like the person really has listened, without an already formulated response.  I hope you feel that I listen to you.  I really am.

2. Sincere and honest.  “We are all travellers in the wilderness of this world, and the best we can find in our travels is an honest friend.” – Robert Louis Stevenson  Are we honest with each other?  Can we call each other on our shit?  I need that and I really want to do that for you (in a nice way, of course!)

3. Acceptance. “A friend is someone who gives you total freedom to be yourself-and especially to feel, or not feel. Whatever you happen to be feeling at any moment is fine with them. That’s what real love amounts to: letting a person be what he really is.” – Jim Morrison

Acceptance flaws and all.  Enough said.

4. Dependable.   It hurts when you go out of your way to take care of someone and then when you’re vulnerable and you need them, it’s inconvenient to reciprocate.  When we can turn to someone in a time of crisis, even if we’ve not talked for months, and have them be there for you… it’s the perfect balance of giving and sharing.  Love.

5. Being present.   This is listening ++.  It’s being emotionally available, with ears.  It’s so great when this happens!

Thanks to all of you who’ve been there for me over the years.  You enhance my life.  You make me feel appreciated and lift my spirits.  And, as we all know, life is too short to spend with those who are not worth of our time or friendship.  I hope I do the same for you.  You’re important to my existence.

Have a great Sunday!

I think (know) I blamed the wrong person.

Here’s a true confession about me, I don’t always want to admit my shit.  Seriously.  In fact, I have to admit another truth about me, I’ve blamed my shit on others.  Seriously.

While I don’t make a complete habit of this, I am (and rightly should) looking back on my last 10+ years and I can see that there were times where I found it easier to blame someone else, rather than to look internally.  There’s one person during this time frame (he who shall remain unnamed) that did a really good job of screwing things up in a such a visual, that it was easy to point my finger at him (and more often than not, deservedly so!).  But, I have to admit that each time I point my finger outward at someone, it prevents me from looking inward – which should really be the direction of my focus.

Look, we all try to pass the buck sometimes – to point the focus away from us.  But, there comes a time when we have to stop blaming and look at how to deal with our own s***.  Here are my top 5 ways to end the blame game:

1. Take responsibility

I won’t beat around the bush on this one.  If we don’t take responsibility for our actions, we will never solve any of our life’s problems.  It will just be a constant blame game.  It’s that simple.

2. Learn to apologize

This is not easy for most of us.  We all know people who never apologize unless a metaphorical gun is pointed at their head.  Let’s not let that be us.  Apologizing for mistakes is freeing.  It’s honest.  And it’s a relief to acknowledge that we are not perfect!

3. Admit that you’re not always right

No one is always right and no one is blameless.  It’s hard to admit that we might be wrong.  Please, I was wrong 10 times before noon yesterday!  It’s a given.  Admit it.

4. Solve the problem

If you’re pointing a finger, there’s a problem to be solved.  It really doesn’t matter how you got to the problem.  What matters is where you end up.

5. Be humble

Admit that you can’t do every thing and that you have shortcomings.  Ask for help.  When we’re humble, we’re not blaming and we’re happier.

Let’s be honest, while it’s nice to not be blamed for things, the truth is, we do make mistakes.  Plus, looking at mistakes as positive, and a learning experience, will help drive our passion in a positive direction.

So to my unnamed friend  (aren’t they all unnamed?) who I quite easily blamed for many years (and who still deserved some blame) – please know that I did my fair share of making mistakes and I’m sorry for not acknowledging that enough along the way.

I’m going to try to take responsibility for all my actions – no matter how big or small.  Those who love me, deserve that.

Have a great weekend!