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Saturday, December 31, 2011

The Countdown Begins...

Gee, I've got five hours and four minutes to reach one of my goals for 2011; completing 52 posts in one year.  This number was supposed to represent one blog entry for each week of the year.  Seeing as I am not a daily blogger nor a weekly one for that matter, completing 52 in one year is a pretty big goal.  And,....I did it!

This is my 52nd blog for the year 2011.  A job well done?  Well?  At least it is done.  I can't objectively claim if they were done 'well' or not.  But, they were done and they represent me.  Take me or leave me.  My blogs for the year encompass truth, pain, growth, and introspection.

When I started this journey two years ago I was quite a mess both mentally and physically.  I now look forward to 2012 with a calmness and hopefulness that everything I need will somehow be taken care of and everything I want will be manifested as long as I embrace positivity.

It seems that each and every day begins with a new opportunity to focus my mind and believe that I can achieve what I want in my lifetime.  Some things just may take longer than others.  The universe has to be in alignment and eventually things will come to fruition.

Our family has been blessed recently and I truly believe it was manifested through hard work, positive thinking, and spiritual energy.  The different worlds and dimensions lined up just so to relieve us of some incredible pressure.  We are lucky enough to have a moment in time where we can breath just a bit easier.

Hopefully, we will relish this moment, make good decisions, and be thankful for our good fortune.  It does not hurt to begin the new year of 2012 in the black!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Post Number 51

Okay, so I've got two more posts (including this one) looming on my to do list before the clock strikes midnight on New Year's Eve.

For the last few days I've contemplated writing about my youngest son, Nicolas, and how he just turned 15 a few days ago.  There is no doubt about it, my baby is a young man.

For the last few months he's grown at least three inches, built muscle, grew facial hair, and made me feel like I've hit a new phase in my life.  It's bad enough that his older brother, at only 19 years old, is sporting a full beard, mustache, and overgrown hair.  (He refuses to shave and insists that his girlfriend loves him even if he looks like a mountain man.)

The influence of his older brother, while gracing us with his presence while on college semester break, is palpable.  Now, Nicolas is dead-set on growing his sideburns and his mini-goatee.  Nicolas did allow me to shave his mustache, however.  This is what a mom of teenage boys goes through.

Who would have thought that I'd be mustering ways to combat a closed bedroom door so as to avoid death by contained body odor? 

I never anticipated negotiating favors to entice one of my sons to groom his appearance.  But, sadly, it has come down to these drastic tactics.  But, even more tragic, nothing has worked.  I feel like a warden in a prison where each prisoner has the key to their cell and free-range of the entire prison yard.  Sometimes it feels like they are dangling the key, menacingly, in front of my face and tormenting me with my own threats.

Once again I realize that 2011 has been a year to learn to let go, trust that I've done the best possible job as a parent, and let my kids become responsible adults.  So much growth can become challenging and exhausting.

But, in the end, I have a sense of pride in myself and my sons.  They have blessed my life in more ways than they could fathom!

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Half-Ass Christmas

I sit here wondering, is it just me or, as we get older do we become more Scrooge-like?

Well, most likely, it is just me.  I am 46 years old with two teenage boys.  The days of visiting Santa at the mall are long gone.  The letter writing, list making, and wish granting are a thing of the past.  This year I thought I was scott-free of the Christmas hassle of lugging out the boxes from the garage storage space, opening them, and unwrapping cold, faded, and 'antique' decorations.  I had it in my mind that I would devote only one room in the house to red and green and mismatched tchotchkes.  But alas, four days before Christmas my husband has to spoil my plan and 'surprise' us with a Christmas tree.  I adopted my Scrooge persona and vowed to lift not one finger in its adornment.

On day two he dragged the plump, little munchkin of a tree into the house and erected it in the stand.  It wasn't too bad; it was green, after all.  But, it was all of four feet tall.  I asked him how much he spent and he said $10, although it may have been more.  After fussing a bit, he decided to decapitate the top branch.  I don't know what he was thinking.  Every time I walked through the living room I thought, "I have a headless Christmas tree", and then I would giggle to myself.

On day three he strategically placed two strands of multi-colored lights and some gold tinsel.  I have to say, the lights did look nice but I must admit the final product really accentuated the fact that there was no top to the tree.  The year of the headless-Christmas tree!  After a snide comment from me, my husband sneaked into the garage, searched through the boxes, and at midnight placed a colorful star on top.  Now, I will admit that it really doesn't look too bad.  There are still no ornaments on the tree.  I refuse to participate.  Bah-hum-bug.

It really has been a minimalist Christmas.  The only reason why we have a holiday flag on the pole outside our home is because my Aunt Peggy gave me a brand new one she found at the Salvation Army.  My mother was kind enough to give me a fresh wreath she ordered and had delivered from L.L. Bean.  My mom even purchased a new tablecloth for our traditional annual Christmas brunch.  There was a box of knick-knacks she was gonna donate to Goodwill and I confiscated them and placed them on the banquet table in the dining room.  David, my husband, purchased a poinsetta plant that sits on the top of the dining room table.

My plan was to have a budget for each person in our immediate family.  No more than $30 per person.  A very limited Christmas, indeed.  Let's face it, we really don't 'need' anything.  The economy sucks.  And, would you rather have electricity and a holiday meal or yet another pair of slippers and a shaving kit?  Well, as time went on and now that we are one day before Christmas I believe I blew my budget by about three times the amount.  Still, not as much as I have spent in the past when the kids were little and into the latest video game or action figure.  Now, as teenagers, they are happy with a gift card and a new pair of sneakers.

I think my phase of Grinch during Christmas will last until I have grandchildren.  And, I pray that that is quite a few years down the road!


I am thinking of that famous saying by Albert Einstein, "Insanity:  doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results."  

As I spend the last few days of the month of December in the year 2011 and contemplate my approach to 2012 I feel this message is one I will adopt as my anthem to help me achieve different and better results in my life this coming year.

In the past I have always made a list of 'resolutions'.  Some years it worked.  It kept me on track and helped me reach goals that I may not have if it were not for a list revealing my various commitments in writing.  Some years the list of resolutions seemed to stifle me, get me angry at myself, and leave me with a sense of dread and guilt for not having lived up to my aspirations.

So, this year I resolve to remember to step back, take a chance, and roll the dice.  By getting out of my comfort zone I hope to bring new experiences and growth to my currently mundane life.  Changing behavior (especially when you are my age) is challenging and takes a lot of guts.  It is so easy and comforting to do the same thing over and over.  The flavor of life becomes bland.  Yes, it gets old.  And, some might say, leads you to insanity.

In 2012, I want to add some sweet, a dash of sour, a bit of spice, a pinch of salt, and a hint of umami to my existence.  Off the top of my head here are some things I may venture into:

1.  Traveling to a new place.
2.  Taking a writing class or seminar.
3.  Putting money away in savings.
4.  Working for a steady paycheck.
5.  Buying an affordable car.
6.  Adopting a positive attitude.
7.  Supporting my kids' individual choices.
8.  Helping the less fortunate.
9.  Reading more.
10.Eating less.
11.Keeping my happiness priority one.
12.Exercising body, mind, and spirit through:  walking, yoga, and pilates.
13.Breathing fresh air more than staying inside.
14.Making new friends.
15.Believing in the impossible.

It sounds like this is a list, right?  Well, it is mostly a nebulous guideline.  A wishy-washy, non-commital outline of a new approach to living.  No, not many of these items are measurable so it really doesn't follow the standard of a true goal.  But, that's okay.  It is the beginning of the stretch for me to stop what I did in the past, which may not have worked, and ingrain a new instinct in my modus operandi.

A fresh start for 2012!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Live 4 2 Day!

Live 4 2 Day!

This is a motivational phrase I have emblazoned on my cell phone and it appears every time I push a button and the screen lights up.  Most times I ignore it.  It's only when I am changing my wallpaper picture that I pay attention.  I mostly want to make sure that this saying does not fade into the background of the picture.

But do I really pay attention to the words, live for today?

No, not really.  At least most days.  Monday through Friday when I'm inevitably at home doing the same ritualistic things week to week I am just existing.  The weekends are a different story, though.

During the weekend is when I have freedom to roam and hang out with my favorite people, my family.  I also get to spend time with my best friend, my mom.  My mother and I enjoy eachothers company in addition to having the familial connection.  We are two different people, separated by a generation.  But, we are never afraid to get our feet wet in the others life experience.  For instance, we each have an appreciation for the music we grew up with.  I am still amazed and proud that my mother never stopped growing in her musical taste when she reached adulthood, got married, and had a family.  I don't know many 71-year-olds who would go to a Who/Eric Clapton concert and truly enjoy it.  My mother continues to listen to the contemporary rock radio station and can name most of the bands.  Similarly, I am well-versed in the music she grew up with in the 50's and have enjoyed many an Elvis song or "Coasters and Friends" revival musical presentation.  But, our respect for each other goes beyond music.

We embrace the same mentality of enjoying life within your means and treating yourself well.  If this means visiting your favorite store for some retail therapy and indulging in a purchase then so be it.  It can also mean venturing out to a new restaurant and experiencing the newness of the atmosphere, service, and food.  At times there is a movie I hear about and drag my mother to accompany me.  Our record is about 50/50.  Half the time I like her cinema choices and half the time she feels neutral about my selections.  But, we learn from each other.  We are able to retain our distinct personalities.  We anticipate the others reaction because we are in tune with our differences.

My mother and I live for the weekends.  She escapes from the tediousness of her Monday through Friday job.  And, I fulfill the feeling of being a human being on the weekends.  We reflect on the past, we plan for the future, but overwhelmingly our motto is "live for today".  Especially on the weekends!

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Just For The Sake of It

Writing just for the sake of writing.  To some this just doesn't make sense.  To writers it is essential to their craft.  But, what if you literally have nothing interesting or valuable to write about.  Should you still do it?

I've pondered this question since my last post.  Should I go the commercial route and talk about all the AVON products (which I sell) that have really made a difference to my beauty routine?  Should I talk about the evolution of my preference for cats and my relationships with them?  Should I go on and on about how great I think my kids are?  Been there, done that.  Should I 'copy' other bloggers and share my favorite recipe?  Should I just make shit up?  No, not really my style although it would be an interesting challenge for me.  Should I trash my favorite or least favorite celebrity?  Should I step into the world of politics?...And the list of things to talk about goes on and on.

So, when it comes down to it, writing for the sake of writing can actually get your mind racing (if you have the ability to think and type/write at the same time).  Oh, the spontaneity of it all.  What a glorious feeling to just purge (God, I love that word!) your ever-loving mind.  A brain dump, if you will.  Oh, what the hell is the term, free-association?  No, it's on the tip of my know the thing you do with a bunch of people around a table with an easel and someone is writing stuff down as people blurt out shit...oh yeah, BRAINSTORMING!  Boy, old age is a bitch!

Anyhow, I'm down to only five posts (after this one) and I need to generate some ideas for what to write about.  And, I think this post today, which I wrote just for the sake of it, steered me in a new direction.

Thank you dear brain!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Scared of Fishes

At one time, almost 25 years ago, I enjoyed the freedom of being on my own.  The freedom to not have anyone directly looking over my shoulder.  The freedom to make choices and deal with the consequences.  The freedom to figure out how to get things done and to devise my own plan of what will work for me within my time, boundaries, and limitations.  I was a small fish in a big pond but I had the freedom to explore the world around me.

Looking back, I must say that this period of my life was when I felt the most vulnerable, unsure, and weary about my future.  But, the difference is I was protected from the stresses of the 'real' world.  Within my tight community of friends and the college campus there was a comfort to explore my insecurities, my hesitancy, and my undiscovered future.  The freedom of being on my own and away from my family, accelerated the friendships and confidantes that I made while at school.  As different as we all were, from different parts of the country, from different countries, and from different cultures, we reveled in the similarities we shared.  We were a cornucopia of blessed goodness and a melting pot of humanity.

I've been worried these last few months.  As a mother who has 'been there, done that' I know what goes on at college campuses.  Even though it has been over 20 years, the fundamentals of being human rarely change.  Oh sure, technology is light years away from when I hit the college books.  For instance, I called my parents once a week on a pay phone.  There was no texting or immediate answer given from my folks.  If I had a concern I waited for the line to use the phone to dissipate on a Sunday afternoon.  And, for the most part, my parents weren't really 'in my business'.  They were a two-day drive away from where I was and pretty much trusted that I was doing what I was supposed to do.  They always seem to trust me to do the right thing.

So, how is it that I sit and worry that my son, a sophomore at college, is doing all that he is capable of doing to stay on track, bring up his grade point average, and formulate plans for his future career?  To be truthful, I fear that he has succumbed to the power of female distraction.  Why, oh why, did this day have to arrive?  At a time when he should be concentrating on himself and what he wants out of life a female had to snatch him up.  My precious little boy is bogged down with the power of the once unknown.  No matter how much my husband or I have screamed out the warnings I fear he has lost himself.

I don't know what to do.  It's like watching a ship sinking in the distance.  You want so badly to swim out in the ocean and rescue the occupants but you're just not equipped with the right stuff.  The most you can do is place a call to the authorities and hope for the best.

As a parent, you realize that there are many times your effectiveness as a parent is put on trial.  You watch as your children grow up and eventually become adults.  They reach milestones and you pat yourself on the back for a job well done.  At some point they are old enough to make their own choices and face the consequences.  Let's hope that they can swim confidently among the fishes and enjoy the freedom of their world.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Measuring Your Worth

Eight more posts then I will have actually achieved a goal, 52 posts in one year!  I have approximately 30 more days to do this and I think I can do it.  Heck, after this post I will be down to seven.

When I was a career-girl, in the corporate world, goal setting was an annual occurrence.  It was an important step to take for women hungry enough to attempt to climb the male-dominated corporate ladder without having to sleep your way to the top.  Having a list of MEASURABLE goals was my ticket to accountability for my accomplishments and justification for a raise, bonus, and promotion.  It gave me credibility with my peers and more importantly it sent a message to my boss and the decision-makers that I was a serious, career-minded woman.  Being able to sit down with your boss at the end of the twelve months and have documented proof of your contributions to the organization and showing personal improvements and betterments always puts you in a position of power.  It is where you reiterate your worth to the company and where you hold the power to negotiate.

Since I left the corporate world in 1996 I have continued to set goals for myself.  Because they happen to be devised at the beginning of the year they tend to resemble New Year's resolutions but for the most part, they are goals.  Some unattained goals linger year after year.  A re-evaluation of the validity of those goals is certainly past due.  But, the most important thing I've learned about goal-setting is to make sure they are measurable.  Have a timeline associated with it.  Have a percentage increase or decrease attached to the goal.  Making the goal concise and quantifiable helps to keep it simple, stupid.

So, as I evaluate my progress of 2011 and prepare my commitments for 2012 I plan to keep in mind the validity and achieve-ability of these goals.