Monthly Archives: November 2011
The deals were made a few weeks ago. One hour of negotiations left us all feeling fairly clear on the outcome with the usual caveats written in. Now all I had to do was wait.
Well, not actually wait. More like get on with my life, acting as if nothing was brewing, ignoring the anticipation of the upcoming event.
While everyone else around me bounces around excitedly on the balls of their feet waiting for their turn, I merely yawn, bored with it already.
Black Friday and the big sales were of little interest to me because they would offer no relief, because the price tags on the gifts my sons want for Christmas stayed right where they were – the product of a little thing called supply and demand…or simply demand.
In the past few years, surprising them with things I thought were cool – clothes, electronics, games – all met with the same fate of disappearing or being shoved under the bed or a stack of clothes, days after Christmas. Not that they weren’t cool (I thought they were, anyway). The gifts were not what they really wanted or held their interest at the time. So I’ve learned to back off, with their Christmas list in hand.
The holiday seems to have gotten so much like our Christmas tree – cut and dry. As the boys have matured, so have their taste in gifts. They don’t want to mess with other people’s ideas of their happiness and I finally learned to respect that. It saves us all time and frustration. It’s easier knowing exactly what I’ll be purchasing when the time comes for me to do the deed. I’ll go to one or two stores, visit one or two websites and I’m done. No wandering aisles, no wasting gas driving around town. It’ll be a slam dunk and we all win.
Not much fun in that, I know, but I’ll still find the pleasure in the little things. Like decorating the house and the tree, finding and sampling a new holiday cocktail, treating myself to a few gifts. We will definitely get together with friends. Maybe I’ll even bake cookies (HA! I say that EVERY year and it’s always an epic failure, but it’s now tradition to at least make an attempt).
I know the boys and I don’t see eye-to-eye on the whole holiday/giving thanks deal, so I’ll let this run its course. Maybe someday the grip of the commercialism of this holiday will loosen enough for them to think of others and to give more than to receive.
Oh, I’ll still sneak in a few unexpected gifts for the boys under the tree, because I’ll never tire of trying to surprise them.
What about you? Is Christmas still a surprise gift-fest? Is the list that you carry around born from your hand or from the guidance of others? Do you have shopping down to a science or is browsing still part of the magic?
Why is there only one day out of the year that is dedicated to verbalizing how thankful we are? Same thought with Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Grandparent’s Day, Secretary’s Day, or Veterans Day. What good is acknowledging someone or something one day and leaving to chance the other 364 days of the year?
Don’t get me wrong. I love holidays and all of those special days that are set aside to showcase a certain someone or something in our lives. It’s a great reason to hug each other and have parties and buy cool stuff for others.
But what has always bothered me was that the specialness of it all was confined to 24 hours. For example, the day before Mother’s Day my boys would be in their usual form of…well, being themselves. Then on Mother’s Day, they’d turn into
perfect little angels the one day that all mothers get the day off from chores, cooking, cleaning, and if lucky, get taken out to dinner, only to find that it’s business as usual the next day. It’s a great big bone thrown to us mothers just to keep us going until the next year. Personally, I’d like to see Mother’s Day be celebrated everyday, but I would settle for once a week.
Now from November 1, when the stores start filling their aisles with Christmas stuff, when most of us get warm fuzzies and show extra love to our family and hug our neighbors, until the evening of December 25, the feeling of gratitude does prevail. It’s a beautiful and uplifting experience. I only wish that the feeling would go beyond the holiday season.
And I’m thinking Hallmark and boxed chocolate companies would make a hell of a lot more money if they would promote this idea of gratitude and giving all year round.
I must say, though, that there are a lot of people who already put this into practice – I see it all the time on social sites such as Facebook, and that’s awesome! They are all way ahead of the game. They know that giving gratitude every day (or at least the majority of the time) only brings on more people, places, and situations for which to feel grateful for.
It’s easy to forget this in the face of life’s issues, but if we can remember to be grateful for at least one thing, one person, one experience every single day, it would be my guess the world would be a better place. I know the effort that something like that takes better than anyone. My days tend to pass in a blur and my head hits the pillow at the end of the day without an utterance of thanks, but it’s something I strive to remember every day.
So, like everyone else, I’m being swept up in the season love. I’m grateful for the events that have brought me back in touch with high school friends. I’m eternally grateful for whatever inspired me to take Kristen Lamb’s blogging workshop which in turn gave me new friends from her classes (WANA sisters and big bro!) and new friends whose light I soak up in Twitterverse. I’m grateful for my family, embracing cousins, aunts, and uncles, neighbors, and friends I have known since moving to this town.
My list of gratitude is long, as I’m sure yours is as well, so I’ll leave it at that for today. Starting tomorrow, I’ll begin the list of 364 more.
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!!!
I’m talking about the weather in my head. Yeah, there’s definitely a storm raging in there that started about 48 years ago, with no sign of slowing down. The friction from my brain cells slamming into each other alone is responsible for 99% of that heat.
So why is it that I have nothing to show for it in terms of my blog today? I mean, I literally sat in front of my computer for four hours last night – with a few attempts at inspiration, by poking the logs in the wood stove, washing dishes, snacking on hummus – with not a single blogging thought making any sort of appearance.
Topics were not a problem. Got plenty of those. The problem was that my brain just…..froze up. Creativity? Perhaps if I could have gotten a string of words on the page, I could have faked the creativity part of it, but the words were playing hide and seek with me.
I’m a pantster, I go with the flow, I react, I put out fires. I am in the moment at any given time. But I sat in a very, very, very long moment last night, just staring and wondering what the hell I was doing.
It was frustrating to say the least. Although I have had to cut back on blogging temporarily to once a week (because I am putting energy into my next novel which, by the way, is in the home-stretch stage) I love getting on here and saying something…anything…to spark a discussion.
Some of the frigidity may be due to the fact that a lot is going on in my personal life. (The most interesting by far is the suspicion that my father’s will looks like it has been tampered with/switched out/forged, courtesy of two gold-digging family members – and I use the term “family” loosely.) Be that as it may, even in the midst of the day job, kiddy care, and other goings-on, I’m usually able to slip into the writing world without too much problem, being able to start with a single sentence and get the blog going from there.
Last night was different for some reason and I don’t really know why. As a big fan of Mike Dooley, I’m taking his advice and I won’t try to figure it out because spending energy on the whys won’t propel me forward. It will just keep me in a holding pattern of stagnation.
Don’t worry, I’ll be back again with some incredibly interesting post. *wink* I’m just going to chill for a couple of days and let my brain thaw. My WANA sister, Angela Peart, suggested I try sleeping. Hmm. As crazy as that sounds, it might just work.
I’m thinking that I’m not alone in this and that most of you writers and bloggers come up empty on occasion as well.
Do me a favor, then. Let me know what you do to switch those gears and get back on track. Does this happen to you very often? Am I lacking something (besides sleep)? Do I need to switch coffee brands? Perhaps to a darker roast? Should I up the chocolate intake? Drink more? Drink less?
What is your magic bullet? I’d really love to know!
We all do it. Or rather don’t do it. We don’t always say what we think. You know what I’m talking about. We’re on the verge of saying something, but then we cover our thoughts with sighs and forced smiles.
We put on that façade because…sometimes it’s just easier. Easier to slip out of the conversation unnoticed. Explanations usually only complicate the situation, opening the door to more discussion and blatant exposure of our soul. We are called on to answer questions that sometimes catch us off guard, tricking us into revealing more than we had ever intended. With everything so transparent, we are up for scrutiny with emotional poking and prodding and curious interrogation.
So, instead we come up with pretty words, smoke-screen phrases, trick-of-the-light diversions that lead our companions down one alleyway, while we’re running like hell the down the other, looking for the nearest dumpster or empty doorway to hide in until the perceived threat passes.
Or maybe that’s just me.
Okay, so I tend to hide sometimes. Even when my heart screams yes, my mind slaps me upside the head and says, “Are you nuts? What are you thinking?” For years the tides of emotion in my house began and ended with me, and for some unknown reason, my emotions were law. Me. My emotions. As if I had any expertise in that field. Go figure.
So, to maintain a steady stream, I dubbed myself the dam keeper. And it became a way of life. But it doesn’t serve me anymore, and now I’m working on my letter of resignation.
As part of my “rehab,” I do let loose. There are playgrounds I let the Wild Child run amuck, giving only a brief show of concern when the Wild Child gets too…wild. But some neighborhoods are dark and silent, familiar, yet…not. I tend to explore those with a bit more caution, making sure each step is solid before moving on. But the Wild Child is always there, egging me to run through those streets barefoot. Some days she’s so much fun to follow, and I lose track of myself. Carefree one moment, waking up the next with such an emotional hangover, thinking…Yikes! Did I actually do that?
Ah, but we’re all works in progress, and I’m certainly no exception. I would even claim that none of us are the same as we were one, five, or ten years ago. Shedding behaviors that are counterproductive – just like ridding our closets of the clothes that don’t fit us well anymore – is key, and huge to our growth.
It may be hard to part with that comfortable pair of sweatpants, but, baby, if it doesn’t look good, if it’s worn out and tired looking? Yeah. Just give it to the Wild Child. She’ll know exactly what to do with it.
I have a three-strike rule.
Regardless of how I initially feel about something, I’ll do it – going somewhere, seeing someone, whatever. Within reason, of course, but I’ll make an effort. The three-strike rule goes like this – whenever obstacles pop up, making it difficult to do said task, I’ll move past it and keep trying. I will go so far as to ignore the second obstacle that tells me “Do not pass go, do not collect $200,” and keep going, but I usually draw the line at the third obstacle when I will take notice and throw in the towel. I’m just persistent that way.
I know that before any decision, large or small, I really should listen to my intuition to see if what I am about to do is the right choice, but I don’t, so thus the reason for the three-strike rule. Some sort of a compromise between my impetuous and conservative natures.
But one year I didn’t heed the signs and just burst through them, guns a-blazing. Why? Because I thought what my family and I were about to do was so damn cool, so renegade, so free.
Well, that one year I spent pushing the envelope, was a year I’ll never forget. About nine years ago, I was bored and needed a change. Fortunately, the ex and I were on the same wavelength and, being that I could work on the road via satellite internet (we had bought a mobile one), there was nothing to stop us. So we sold almost everything we owned, put some stuff in storage, bought a 34-foot motorhome, and headed across the country.
We started out in March, I think it was, and mapped out a route going south from Central California down towards Arizona. It was our intention to stay south and make our way up to Indiana in time to see the Indy 500 (my ex’s big dream). Everything was going fine until we were in Huachuca City, Arizona, and it started to snow. We were headed towards Albuquerque, New Mexico when the weather channel reported tornado warnings popping up everywhere.
Let’s mark that as sign #1.
So we turned back around, warmed up in Palm Springs for a couple of days, then headed towards the northern route, thinking we might have a better shot at missing one of those tornadoes. But, as it turned out, they chased us.
Halfway across a seriously long stretch of lonely highway in Wyoming, where the wind howled like a banshee, our awning let loose and damn near turned into a parachute. Trying to get it back under control in a hurricane-like wind was really hard.
A smaller sign, so we’ll mark that as sign #1A.
In South Dakota, in the middle of the night, I remember staring out the window of the motorhome in total disbelief at a lightning storm – not one of those storms when the sky lights up every few minutes or so. No. In this little display, the sky lit up nonstop. Literally nonstop. The rain was coming down so hard, I had to yell at my ex to be heard. NOAA radio tracked a tornado 30 miles away, headed in our direction. The crazy part was that no one in the RV park was freaking out. The office was closed and there was nobody to ask what to do. For a girl who grew up in Southern California, this was incomprehensible. I was looking for some underground shelter, but none existed. Anywhere. All I could do at the time was hope that the storm would fade away before the tornado got too close.
I raised my cup of tea (with a shot of brandy in it) to sign #2.
There continued to be storm after storm, and we continued to look over our shoulders, storm after storm. This entire time I was working full time via the satellite, homeschooling the boys, and with the added lessons in the force of Mother Nature, my nerves were being stepped on.
Another shaker-upper happened somewhere between South Dakota and Indiana, on a really busy freeway, going freeway speed, when we came way too close to demolishing a truck that was at a standstill in one of the lanes. No hazard lights, no flares, no nothing. Do you have any idea how hard it is to stop a 20,000-pound vehicle going 70 miles an hour? It’s possible, with a little bit of time, but we had none. Fortunately, the shoulder was clear and my ex was able to steer around the truck before swerving back onto the freeway. Can you imagine what that looked like? I’m thinking that wouldn’t have been a happy ending for anybody if the shoulder hadn’t been clear.
My heart hammered at sign #3.
By then, my nerves were crushed. But, damn it. Stuff like this happens all the time, doesn’t it? So with our blinders firmly strapped on, we forged ahead.
Finally, we made it to the Indy 500. My ex went by himself and left me and the boys at the RV park. It didn’t take long for the weather to turn sour. Then…guess what…sirens. Loud sirens. And I’m not talking police or fire truck sirens. They were sirens of the natural disaster type. Tornado type. I got out of the motorhome, looked at everyone running around, and said in my calmest voice to the nearest woman dashing by, “Where are we supposed to go?” Her reply in her most frantic voice was, “To the lower bathrooms!”
The bathrooms? Was she kidding? The bathrooms? Hiding from a possible tornado with winds up to 100+ miles an hour in a bathroom? Seeing no other option, I did whatever any good woman would do…I called the ex and told him he’d better come back, I grabbed the boys and their bike helmets, and headed for the bathrooms, which, to my untrained eye, were pathetically inadequate.
The women and children sat in the bathroom and waited, listening to portable radios for news of disaster, while the men, macho as they were, stood outside the bathroom door, arms crossed over their chests, like some sort of sentry, looking at the sky. Not terribly comforting. I felt better under the sinks with my arms wrapped around the boys and my arm linked through the plumbing.
Let’s label that as sign #4, shall we?
As it turned out, a tornado had touched down three miles from where we were. Too close. Hell, any tornado touching down in the same state was too close. But did we heed that sign? No….
We continued east, determined to make it to the coast and head south to Florida. Still the storms chased us. NOAA was our constant friend. I was beginning to find it a little difficult to enjoy the scenery when I was always looking to the sky. We stayed at a couple of RV parks where tornadoes had dropped down not two days before we arrived. Sign, sign, sign. By the time we made it to Niagara Falls in New York, I was done. I wasn’t quite up to pressing our luck by heading east any more. Besides, by turning around, we were going to be headed straight into the very same storms that chased us. Kind of a buzz-kill.
We made it back in one piece to California, a little wiser, a little traveled, a little in debt, with memories wonderful and not so wonderful. It was fun for the most part, but in all honesty, I think I would have been better off listening to that little nagging voice in my head that kept telling me to turn us around. The stress made me a little bitchy, a little closed off, and a whole lot paranoid for months afterward whenever clouds rolled in. Tornadoes, to me, are too unpredictable and as crazy as it sounds, I’d take a California earthquake over a tornado any day.
P.S. At one point the Indy 500 was postponed because a tornado had touched down not too far from the track. Sign. And all of the tornadoes? It was reported to be the worst tornado season on record – Typically 500-600 tornadoes in the season, this one had 500 in the month of May alone. Just my luck.
So, do you listen to that “inner voice?” Do you have a three-strike rule? Where do you draw the line?