Tuesday, December 28, 2010

2010 - In the Rear View Mirror
I posted this Note a year ago on Facebook.  Printed it out and hung it up on my fridge and in my office.  I figure now's as good a time as any to review and see how many of the suggestions I actually followed:



1. Drink plenty of water.   Define "plenty." 

2. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a beggar.  I think I may have kept a little too much royalty in my diet. 

3. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants.  What if I ate lots of both?

4. Live with the 3 E's -- Energy, Enthusiasm and Empathy.  I live with 3 pets.  Does that count?

5. Make time to pray.  This, I did.  Unfortunately, it tended to be more product of desperation than deliberation.

6. Play more games.  This, I also did. 

7. Read more books than you did in 2009.  I added more to the stack on my nightstand, anyway.

8. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day.  This, I also did.  I won't mention where.

9. Sleep for 7 hours.  I assume this was a daily (nightly) recommendation -- I managed it about once a week.

10. Take a 10-30 minutes walk daily. And while you walk, smile.   Epic fail. 


11. Don't compare your life to others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.  I often reminded myself of the latter.  Didn't keep me from doing the former. 

12. Don't have negative thoughts or things you cannot control.  Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.  Ha!!!

13. Don't over do. Keep your limits.  I moderated in moderation. 

14. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.  Oh, I laugh at myself all the time.  Would be nice if I could learn to laugh with myself more. 

15. Don't waste your precious energy on gossip.  Gossip's so often effortless, though...

16. Dream more while you are awake.  I could go with it all having been a nightmare...er...dream. 

17. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.  I wonder if this line works on creditors? 

18. Forget issues of the past. Don't remind your partner with His/her mistakes of the past. That will ruin your present happiness.  No comment. 

19. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone. Don't hate others.  This is honestly something I very rarely do.  I won't say never. 

20. Make peace with your past so it won't spoil the present.   How does one make peace with one's present? 

21. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.  True.  Very true. Mind telling them that?

22. Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn.  Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.  It's been quite an education thus far.

23. Smile and laugh more.  This, I did. But you know Newton's Law about every action having an equal and opposite reaction?

24. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree...  I agree. 


25. Call your family often.  This I do. 

26. Each day give something good to others.  If I had to guess, I'd put my average at around .500 on this.  Plenty of room for improvement. 

27. Forgive everyone for everything.  Mmmhmm. 

28. Spend time w/ people over the age of 70 & under the age of 6.  Plenty of over 70's; not so much the under 6's, but I have enjoyed the heck out of my 8 year old. 

29. Try to make at least three people smile each day.  I tried.  Most days. 

30. What other people think of you is none of your business.  And my ignorance is my bliss, I'm sure. 

31. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.  My friends are the best.  Fortunately, I work with several of them. 


32. Do the right thing!  Oh.  That. 

33. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.  Thank goodness my Mom holds yearly garage sales! 

34. GOD heals everything.  Thank God He's God!

35. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.  Also true.  I haven't yet found the key to freezeframing the good. 

36. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.  This, I did.  Sometimes, that was all that I did, but I still did it. 

37. The best is yet to come.  As long as it's not followed by the worst, I'll take it. 

38. When you awake alive in the morning, thank GOD for it.  Working on it. 

39. Your Inner most is always happy. So, be happy.  This works best when one's "inner most" doesn't go AWOL. 

Last but not the least:

40. Please Forward this to everyone you care about, I just did.  Assuming posting it on FB qualifies, I did this. 

I looked at the list frequently this year.  But I rarely looked past "Drink plenty of water."  I know I often fell short - and I own a lot of that, though not all of it. It's a long list, and maybe a bit much to try and maintain in focus.  So, I think for 2011, I'm going to try and keep it a bit simpler:

1)  Drink more water.

2)  Write more. 

3)  Keep your feet on the ground.

4)  Love the people who love you and love them well.

5)  Focus on what you have instead of what you don't. 

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Old Spice

I suppose I should be used to it by now:  the apparently inevitable ant invasion of my kitchen and bathrooms come spring and come fall.  One day, my counters are sparkling clean and bug free -- okay, bug free, at least -- and the next, they're alive with pesky little creepy crawlers.  After my initial revulsion, the killer instinct kicks in, and I go about squashing the little boogers and flushing them down the sink.  When that fails to prompt retreat, I bust out the Raid.  I've yet to move onto actual baits, but I'm not ruling it out.  I also keep making a mental note to call "The Bug Guy," but I'm lazy.  And forgetful.  And trying to save my pennies.  

This year, they pulled a new trick out of their tiny little hats:  they invaded my spice/noodle/baking goods/pet treats cabinet.  I go to grab some pepper, and suddenly, "Them!" is there!  Making Themselves right at home, in the dog's chewy chicken treats, and tracking across the lovely contact paper my Mom so graciously installed for me 3 years ago.  Gack!! 

For a couple of days, I stayed the conservative course -- smashing them as I saw them, pitching the dog treats and any other obvious "come hither" sorts of foods.  Finally, though, I realized I was losing the battle, and more drastic measures were needed.  Time to clear out the cabinet, and let my Raid flag fly.

And since I was clearing it out, anyway, it only seemed appropriate to check expiration dates on the odd assortment of items it had accumulated.  It was then that I discovered, much to my surprise, that spices have expiration dates.  Spices?!  Seriously?!  I was so shocked by this discovery that I did what any normal person would do -- I announced it as my Facebook status.  (Some revelations are simply too amazing to keep to one's self.)  

What was even more unsettling was the realization that some of the spices I'd been housing in there had apparently expired several years ago.  And here I was, assuming my lemon pepper, chili powder and garlic salt were all alive and kicking.  The thing is...none of them tasted old, or smelled funny.  Which leaves me wondering:  At what point does a spice truly qualify as "old"?  And when does it make you smell like a man, man?  

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Fear of Success

There’s a certain solace to be found in always falling just short. A comfort offered by the bittersweet longing of “maybe” and “if only”. Failure isn’t what’s scary. Success is. For, when and if we reach our goals – when we find true contentment – even happiness – we then become truly vulnerable.

Deep down, we know that it’s all fleeting and fragile, and can be ripped away in a heartbeat: sudden illness, a car accident, all manner of things over which we have no control. But if we always hover just this side of our dreams, then we somehow feel shielded from the pain and disappointment of having them shattered. Are we just kidding ourselves? I think…maybe…yes.

Friday, September 10, 2010

What I Remember

I originally wrote this several years ago, but...it's that time of year again.  Time to remember....

I remember so much about that day:

I was getting ready for work and had the radio on, a little before 8:00 a.m., CST. The DJ's mentioned something about a plane hitting the World Trade Tower and they were watching it on the Today Show. So I turned on the TV, and was watching the video of the first tower. And as I watched, live, I saw the second plane come in, low and slow, and thought, "Oh my God!" And it hit. And I dropped the brush out of my hand and fell on my knees with my mouth open. After about a minute of just staring at the TV with my hand over my mouth, I got up and went to the phone to call my then-husband. He was out of town for work, in Dallas, working at the airport there. He was still asleep, and I woke him up and told him to turn the TV on. Then realized -- his brother was a pilot for AA, and started getting really worried. He didn't think his brother was flying that day, but I told him I'd try to get ahold of him to be sure. I finished getting ready and left the house, got in the car and turned the radio on. I called my then-BIL and was able to get ahold of him. He was home, safe. So that was a relief. On the radio, they were saying that all flights were being grounded, and one or two were unaccounted for. My route took me past the STL airport, and as I drove east toward and past it, I could see the planes all lined up, heading west, coming in one right after the other. And all I could think was, "Get down, birds. Get down." I know that seems weird, but that was what was in my head.

I pulled into my parking garage around the time the Pentagon was hit. I got out of my car and walked toward my office, looking up at the bright blue September sky, which suddenly seemed empty. And, even though it was warm out, I got the chills. The TV was on in the office, of course. And we all just stood around it, watching. We'd try to go to our desks and do some work, but it was futile. My MIL called me in a panic, because she knew my office was located next to the Arch. I told her I was fine, but we'd gotten word they'd be shutting our building down, and we'd be heading back home. Watched in disbelief as the first tower came down. Then the second. Then left and started the drive back home, still in a state of shock.

Just so happens, I was 7 or 8 weeks pregnant at the time. Got home, and there was a message on the machine from my doctor's office, asking me to call them. I did, and they told me there was a problem with my hormone levels, and I was at risk for miscarrying, so I needed to go pick up a prescription. The realization that my husband was likely to be stuck in Dallas for an indefinite period at that point, and I was pretty much on my own, hit and made me feel very much alone. I got in the car and headed to the pharmacy, and remember thinking to myself how odd it was that it, and the grocery stores, and most businesses were still open and carrying on like it was a regular day. I know the people working there weren't FEELING that way -- it just struck me as odd that, even in the face of this evil, awful thing that was unfolding, we were still plodding ahead with our day. I picked up the prescription and read the warnings, which included all sorts of potential awful things that could happen to the baby, including some mutations. THAT freaked me out. So I called the doctor's office and they reassured me it was okay to take the medicine. So I did. And I sat down on the couch and watched the endless coverage, and wondered what kind of a world my child -- assuming he or she would be okay -- would be born into. And I cried.

I was thousands of miles away from the destruction of that day, but I -- just as everyone else -- was profoundly affected by it. And it's easy, almost 7 years later, to forget just how much, to forget all that was lost that day. We can quibble from now until the end of time over what actions since then were appropriate. And I'm sure we will. It is, perhaps, the largest political football of our lives. But we should never, ever, ever forget that day.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Heart of the Matter

There's a line from the Don Henley song that's been playing through my head the past few days:

"What are these voices outside love's open door...make us throw off our contentment and beg for something more?"

It's calling to mind a blog I wrote elsewhere, almost two years ago.  I think it's time for a re-tread:

"Redefining Happiness" -- May 22, 2008

I’ll have to ask forgiveness of those who don’t watch Grey’s Anatomy, as what I am about to say won’t make quite as much sense without that frame of reference.   I do think the big picture will become clear, though…

I’ve been thinking lately, about happiness.  About what it means.  About the ways in which we pursue it.  We each have our own definition of it.  But while there may be many little things in life which qualify (raindrops on roses, two kinds of ice cream…), the happiness we pursue is that which colors our dreams; the thing (or things) which take up residence in our heart of hearts. 

Which is why it’s so intriguing to me that, after Life and Liberty, our Founding Fathers chose to name the pursuit of Happiness as one of those inalienable rights with which we are endowed by our Creator.   Isn’t the pursuit of happiness a somewhat gooey concept?  Did the founders of our country have an Oprah moment?  Or did they simply recognize that, along with the will to live and the yen for freedom, the quest for happiness is a crucial part of our existence?  It sustains us. 

We often hear it said that there’s no guarantee of happiness in this life.  And most of us learn to live somewhat removed from it, rather than safely ensconced within it.  We tell ourselves that if we can find contentment, well, that’s good enough.  And usually, it is.  But it doesn’t stop us from trying to sneak a peek at happiness anyway.  After all, our dreams are not colored by contentment. 

Sometimes, though, we’re brought up short with the realization that that which does live in our heart of hearts truly may not be viable outside those confines.  That the ragged edges of our external realities are simply inhospitable to the happiness for which we long, and it is not just out of reach -- it is an impossibility.  And when we come to that realization, we are faced with a choice: Do we let go of it?  Somehow, learn to redefine our happiness, so that it encompasses that which is within our reach?  Or do we hang on anyway, and continue with our pursuit?

I was pondering all this earlier today.  Then, tonight, I watched Derek Shepard (a/k/a “McDreamy”) attempt to let go, and redefine his happiness.  He decided to sell his land.  And when his friends, surprised by this, reminded him how much he loved it, and that he was the guy who held onto such dreams, and believed in ferry boats, his response was:  “Ferry boats crash.”  And he’s right -- they do.  And patients die.  And clinical trials fail.  And loves let us down.  And happiness escapes us.

When that happens, unless we resign ourselves to curling up in the fetal position and sobbing about the unfairness of it all (or, perhaps, after doing same), we must find a way to move on.  Do we redraw the lines of happiness to fit more neatly within the reality we’ve been dealt?  Is that even possible when the vision of happiness we’ve been pursuing has been the same one for most – if not all – of our lives?

I asked myself that just today, and realized that I’m not sure that it is – or that I want it to be.   Happiness, as I’ve defined it for so very long -- I wouldn’t know where to go with myself, how to be, how to live, without it – the pursuit of it and the hope for it -- in my life.  I may define it a certain way, but in a sense, it also defines me.  And the thought of redefining it brings with it this sense of settling.  Of accepting a life that’s ordinary.  Of losing some of that spark that keeps me going and the hope that sustains me. 

In the end, McDreamy wasn’t forced to redefine his happiness.  Instead, that which had seemed impossible suddenly found its way into and became part of his reality.  Which is all well and good in TV Land.  But, as I noted in the Grey’s thread last week:  It's hard to live happily ever after in this world.  Because, for most, it is the pursuit of it which actually sustains us.  What do we do when and if we’re fortunate enough to actually achieve it?   Hopefully, we don’t try to redefine it.  Hopefully, we find a way to live in it and hold onto it without crushing it.  To continue pursuing it, even while we partake of it.

Tonight, Meredith said to Derek, “I believe we can be extraordinary together, rather than ordinary apart.”  And I believe she’s right.  Yes, I recognize how woefully and pitifully a romantic this paints me, but I wish them well in their pursuit.  And I in mine.  Maybe someday, I’ll be able and willing to redefine happiness for myself.  ‘Til then, I suppose I’ll just keep pursuing it, as presently defined.  I’d like to claim that’s me, being patriotic, and upholding the ideals set forth in the Declaration of Independence.  Really, though, it’s probably just me being stubborn.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

One Foot in Front of the Other

I ran a half marathon on Sunday.  It wasn't the first one I ran, and probably won't be my last.  But, at the time, I thought it might be.  My training hadn't gone all that well this time around -- especially not the last few weeks.  I managed to acquire a nasty cough that put my lungs through the shredder.  I only churned out a few short runs in those last weeks.  And they weren't great.  

Still, I showed up to the Start on Sunday morning with my game face on. Well, after a brief detour through Sauget.  No.  Really.  See...after picking up my friend T at West County Centre at 5:30, we then collected my sister and brother from my sister's house in Clayton, then proceeded down Highway 40.  My intention was to exit at 6th Street since we were going to use my parking pass and park at Stadium East -- I'd checked to make sure the exit wasn't listed as blocked off for the race, and it wasn't.  Traffic was AWFUL at Jefferson and 14th, but we sailed by.  And then discovered that the 6th Street ramp WAS blocked off.  For those who don't know, that ramp is more commonly known as "The Last Missouri Exit."  Because it is.  Once you pass it, you're heading to Illinois, whether you want to or not.  And what's just across the river in Illinois?  Sauget.  Armpit of the universe.  Home to the all night clubs and trashy strip joints.  Oh, the brain cells and dollar bills that have been lost there......

As we realized the involuntary detour we'd be taking, we did at least note the humor in actually heading TO the East Side at 6:00 a.m., rather than skulking away from it.  The nice thing about Sauget at that time of the morning, though, is they don't really care if you make a U-Turn on Route 3.  Which I did, and soon enough, we were back on the right side of the Mississippi, and parking in the garage.  After a brief potty break (or eight) at The Hilton, we made our way up to the Start.  And waited with the throngs of cattle trying to file through the chute.  

Finally, at 7:11, we were off.  Or on.  Plodding away.  My brother quickly worked his way up ahead of us.  T and my sister and I stayed together.  Actually, it was more like we triangulated -- the two of them ran ahead, chattering away, getting to know one another, while I tagged along behind.  The pace was fine, but I was in no mood to chat.  I just listened to the two of them, and occasionally interjected a comment to let them know they hadn't lost me. 

As we rounded the brewery, I couldn't help thinking that 10 more miles was more than I could handle.  As we turned west up Choteau and began climbing that hill, I muttered that I might have to walk, but my sister called back and told me I could do it.  And I did.  I ran it.  But it about killed me.  And all I could think of as we ran past City Hall at Mile 6 was how easy it would be to just stop there, since it was so close to the Finish line, and wait for the rest of the gang to finish.  

But I kept going.  On the phone the night before, B reminded me to just keep putting one foot in front of the other, and that's what I did.  We made it up one hill on Olive, and then I looked up and saw Mt. McKinley stretching out in front of us, and knew I just couldn't.  I couldn't run it.  My lungs rebelled, and I hollered to my sister and T to let them know I was going to walk.  I did run some of it -- maybe half.  But I was no match for that monster.  

Still, walking also involves putting one foot in front of the other.  Just at a slightly slower pace. The important thing was...I kept moving forward, although with 6 more miles to go at that point, I really wasn't optimistic as to how long I could keep that up.  I rounded the corner and discovered that T had decided wait up for me.  It occurred to me at that moment, how funny and strange life can be.  If someone had told me 23+ years ago, that a boy I met and befriended the first day of college would be dragging my sorry ass through a 13 mile run when we were in our 40's, I'd have sworn they were nuts.  Or high.  Or both.  But there he was.  And God bless him for his patience, for I'm quite certain he didn't aspire to walk-running and turning in a 2:30 + time for a half marathon.  But he was a good enough sport to let me walk the rest of the hills.  Even the one that was only a quarter mile out from the Finish line.  Once we topped that, though, we turned on the jets and sprinted that last downhill.  That part almost made me giddy. 

Always love that feeling -- of crossing that Finish line.  Of knowing that I actually DID it.  13.1 miles.  I DID keep putting one foot in front of the other, and they got me to where I needed to go.  It wasn't just my feet that got me there, though.  It was my sister and brother-in-law first convincing me several years ago that I could do something like this, and my sister, so often, running by my side (on the left!) to help me train.  It was my brother, running his first half-marathon at 52.  My parents, coming down to watch the race and cheer us all on.  It was B's words of encouragement, and T's enthusiasm and patience.  And the support of so many of my other friends.

Just as in the rest of life.  It's hard, sometimes, to remember to put one foot in front of the other.  To tuck your head down, and keep moving forward, when all you really want to do is stop, curl up in a ball, and rest.  Sometimes, it's only with the help of your friends and family that you're able to keep those feet moving.  Sometimes, you feel like you've been walking around in circles.  And other times, you realize that, in fact, you haven't.  You've just been fortunate enough to cross paths with certain people more than once.  

Thursday, April 1, 2010

If It Makes You Happy

Earlier tonight, I proudly proclaimed to my FB friends that having the windows open and the ceiling fans whirring makes me happy.  It occurred to me as I hit "Share" that it's been quite a long time since I actually said that  -- that I was happy -- out loud.  (Well, to the extent that posting it on the internet counts as saying it "out loud.")  A really long time.  Too long.  

And it was such a simple thing, this happy maker.  Just some warm, fresh air.  Probably didn't hurt that I finally feel as though I've turned the corner on this cough, and I definitely had more energy tonight than I've had in several days.  But it got me to thinking about all the simple things that make me happy:

My daughter's giggle; the kitties purring; the silly grin my dog sometimes sports; a well-cooked meal; a cold glass of Riesling; the smell of steaks on the grill; relaxing in my hot tub; a clean kitchen; a clutter-free house; the smell of dryer exhaust; fresh clean sheets on my bed; completing a project; checking things off my To Do list; crossing the finish line; happy hour with friends; girls' nights out; an impromptu road trip; long, slow, deep, soft, wet kisses that last three days. Okay - I stole that last bit from Bull Durham.  But it's true. 

The point is...well, I kind of forgot my point now.  But it's good to remember them more than once in awhile -- the simple, sweet things that make us happy.   

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Observations from Springcleanapaloozathon

That there are items in your medicine cabinet which are two to three years past their expiration dates is a good indication you need to clean it out a bit more frequently.

Old, stubby eyeliner pencils and used up mascara tubes serve no purpose, other than creating the illusion that one’s makeup basket/collection is a veritable cornucopia of beauty – yet, the primary aim of makeup is to create the illusion that you really aren’t wearing (don’t need) much.

There’s something marginally depressing about realizing your “lingerie chest” would actually be more appropriately referred to as your “repository for random racing gear and winter wardrobe accessories,” and that most of the items in it which actually do qualify it as a lingerie chest are virtual strangers to you.

Tossing old socks and undies in the trash feels wasteful, but what are ya gonna do?

Picking up other power cords off the floor before you vacuum is not a pointless exercise; corollary: black electrical tape is a wonderful invention.

Your closet never seems big until you contemplate going through everything in it.  

No one should own more than five pair of sweatpants.  Really.  And they certainly shouldn’t still own any that they can vividly recall wearing in the summer of 1986, or that sport remnants of cat hair belonging to a cat who’s been chasing mice around Kitty Heaven since 1997.  Not that I know anyone who does…

What exactly do you do with the large, boxy, bright yellow sweater, sporting a panda which your mother knitted for you (and the matching white turtle neck with panda prints), which you proudly and regularly wore (along with black and white houndstooth slacks) while in college, but of which you are pretty certain there is no photographic proof?

Cowl-necked sweaters really aren’t all that flattering. They probably make for good bibs when you’re old, though.

It makes little sense to hold onto a cardigan sweater you haven’t worn in approximately twenty years because you wore it the night you said goodbye to someone you’ve since said “hello” (and “goodbye”) to several times.  

A large-brimmed straw hat is a cute and whimsical beach accessory.  But where in the hell do you store it for the 99.9% of your life which isn’t spent on the beach trying to appear cute and whimsical?  

The snakeskin-print bikini top with the shear white blouse and black leather pants get-up might arguably have looked edgy and hot out at the clubs 12 years ago (setting aside the question of how believable it looked on yours truly, even then), but sporting such a look over 40 would scream “DESPERATE COUGAR!!” so loudly, it’d likely rob me of the rest of my hearing. Into the donation pile it goes.  Some young sassy thang out there is in luck!

Not that I’m pitching everything edgy and hot – not by a long shot.  I do, however, think I should probably be ashamed of the fact that my closet sports no less than 60 tank/camisole/halter-type tops while I live in a place that isn’t even remotely tropical. 

I have a lot of very nice blouses I rarely have occasion to wear.  I wonder if any of them would look good under a black robe?

Are pit stains really necessary?! Seriously?

Given that “grunge” went out 12-15 years ago, I think it’s okay to let go of the red/green/black/white extra large plaid flannel shirt from the Gap, and its equally colorful blue/green/yellow/white twin.  Also, I have a long history of plaid abuse. 

No one needs more than eight pair of black, strappy high heels. Okay.  Maybe ten.

Either I or the people who love me (or have claimed to over the years) have REALLY bad taste in jewelry.  Or both.  But even bad gold jewelry has some value now, right?

Women’s collar pins – they’re never coming back.  

I have a Kate Spade purse (or a knock-off) that I bought at a purse party several years ago, and have never used.  I’m not really a trendy-purse girl.  I probably shouldn’t attend purse parties.

Cleaning out a purse you haven’t used in three years is a lot like opening a time capsule.

Trying on jeans you haven’t worn in several years is always an adventure.  High-waisted jeans flatter no one.  The black leather jeans – which are high-waisted and look seriously tacky — still fit.   I’m keeping them.

It’s going to take me longer than a weekend to complete Springcleanapaloozathon….

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Ides of March

"Beware the Ides of March."  It's one of the better-known lines from Julius Caesar, and I suppose that's where I first encountered it.  As it quite rightly served as fair warning to Caesar of his impending doom, I always took it to be a rather ominous sort of thing, and March the 15th to be an "unlucky" day, in the same vein as Friday the 13th.  Funny thing about that, though:  Friday the 13th has always been a "lucky" day in my family -- my parents were married, almost 54 years ago, on a Friday the 13th.  And they still seem to like each other.  

So, it shouldn't have come as much of a surprise that March the 15th would also become a "lucky" day for me.  No, the real surprise was that a little girl who wasn't due to make her arrival until April 26, 2002, decided to show up almost a month-and-a-half earlier.  I so wasn't ready.  Not that I'm sure you can ever truly be ready to go through childbirth -- at least not the first time around.  But I really wasn't ready -- I had a court appearance scheduled for that morning; we had a big case getting ready to go to trial; I hadn't had a chance to really update any of my files and make a list of things that would need to be covered by others while I was out on maternity leave.  And I'd had these grand plans of taking off a few days prior to the due date and spending them at home, getting her room ready, and finally getting around to putting my decades' worth of photographs into albums.  That seemed like such a nice, calming way to prepare myself for the whole labor/delivery/oh-my-gosh-I'm-a-mom-now thing.  

Well, there's another famous literary line about "the best laid plans of mice and men," and go oft awry they did.  I still remember realizing how odd it was that this child I'd thought would be a Taurus, had skipped right over Aries and would, instead, be a Pisces.  That didn't worry me quite so much, as some of my most favorite people in the world were (and still are) Pisces.  What did worry me was whether I'd be able to get everything handled that needed to be at work, whether she'd be healthy, and whether I'd be an okay mom.  

I needn't have worried quite so much about work -- we found a way to muddle through it all and the world didn't stop, though it did take a lot of frantic phone calls, sometimes with the hospital room phone in one ear and my cell in the other, to get it all squared away.   (I still recall the anesthesiologist arriving to rescue me with the epidural, cocking an eyebrow at my telephonic double fisting, and remarking, "Oh - you're one of those 'Type A' people, aren't you?"  I felt compelled to roundly deny the charge, but I'm not quite certain I convinced him.)   

And the "mom" part, well, I'm still a work in progress, but I think I can lay claim to "okay" without warranting an accusation of arrogance.  The "healthy" part?  That took a little time to get to.  23 days in the NICU isn't the ideal way to start one's life, but she toughed it out and doesn't appear to have any residual negative effects from it.  Aside from baby pictures with lots of tubes and wires and eye patches which tended to take a bit away from the "Awww -- isn't she a cutie?!" quotient.  I may be a bit biased, but I think she more than makes up for that most days.

But setting aside her somewhat rocky introduction to the world, I am extraordinarily happy to be the proud mother of an amazing, incredible, intelligent, wonderful, beautiful, thoughtful eight year old little girl.  She is the light of my life, and it is my privilege to be the person she calls, "Mommy," (or, more often, these days, "Mom".)  

So, when I hear people say, "Beware the Ides of March," I can't help but smile.  What a blessed day it has become in my life.  Happy Birthday, Riley Jayne.  I love you.

Monday, February 15, 2010

An Embarrassment of Britches

I guess I'll start this one out with what's becoming standard: A disclaimer. No, this isn't about a wardrobe malfunction. My life has been blessedly free of those of late. It was sparked by an article I read last week from the UK, discussing the fact that the average woman hoards an inordinate amount of clothing she can no longer fit into.

Guilty as charged. Although, at present, it's not so much clothing I can no longer fit into as much as it's clothing that, for one reason or another, I simply don't wear anymore. But whether it's a matter of fit or style, the embarrassing truth of the matter is that I may even be worse than the average Jo.

Before I could muster the courage to confess my own sartorial excess, however, I had to know if others on this side of the pond were kindred clothes horses. So...I conducted an informal survey on Facebook, starting with shoes, then adding on pants. (Okay, I'll admit it -- I was just going to go with the shoes, but "britches" worked better with the title that came to me, so I branched out.)

I have the loveliest FB friends. I won't name names, but though some of my generous responders are positively saintly in their restraint, I'm relieved to know that I'm far from alone in this. And since they were kind enough to bare their closets to me, it's time for me to come clean: Shoes? About 100 pair. Pants? About...*gulp* 60. (Not even counting several pair of track pants, pajama pants and the partners to all my suit jackets.) And of those? There are probably 10 of each I wear regularly.

So, now you know. My name is Susie, and I'm addicted to apparel and accessories. (And maybe alliteration.) They say the first step is admitting you have a problem. I don't know if what I've revealed truly qualifies as a "problem," but it certainly qualifies as a space hog. And while those Space Saver bags positively fascinate me, I don't believe they'd constitute adequate penance. So, in recognition of my excess, and in anticipation of the Spring I'm certain is just around the corner, I am hereby pledging to clean out my closets -- yes, I said "closets," plural -- ridding them of at least 50 pairs of shoes, and 30 pairs of pants within the next 30 days. Those in suitable condition will be donated to Good Will (or another worthy charity -- I'm open to suggestions).

I invite my fellow thread hoarders to join me. Come on - it's for a good cause! (And our closets/dressers/under-the-bed-boxes will heave a collective sigh of relief.)

Monday, February 8, 2010

How Pooh Are You?

No, that isn't an indelicate allusion to my blog title. It's about the stuffing you're made of.

It's human nature to label and categorize -- others, ourselves. At its core, it's probably a matter of risk assessment and survival. But regardless of what motivates it, we all do it. Sometimes with malice; often in fun. Who hasn't taken one of those silly Facebook quizzes to see, "Which 'Grey's Anatomy' or 'Sex and the City' Character Are You?" (I'm mostly Meredith, by the way. And terminally Carrie, of course.)

Long ago, I began categorizing people as Winnie the Pooh characters. This wasn't an original concept -- I don't recall if it was borne of my reading 'The Tao of Pooh' or some other work. But most folks I know did seem to fit one Milnean archetype or another. And I'm confident if I were to describe a friend as a "Tigger" or an "Eeyore," anyone familiar with the denizens of The Hundred Acre Wood would form an immediate and fairly accurate impression of the personality at issue.

It was with a certain amount of pride that I accepted the label of "Pooh," when a friend assigned it to me. Though I wasn't sure how I felt about being likened to a bear of very little brain, I did consider myself fairly amiable, dependable, and, more often than not, peaceful. You know what they say about pride, though....

I made the erroneous assumption that our personality types -- our characters -- were static: Once a Piglet, always a Piglet. I took my Poohness for granted. And somewhere along the line, I wandered away from it -- or it from me.

I didn't notice it quite so much while I was being Rabbit. When one is extremely busy and very important, there isn't much time for introspection. However, when I found myself sounding (and feeling) exceedingly Eeyorish, it occurred to me that perhaps I really had lost my way. I've always had a soft spot in my heart for poor old Eeyore, but I don't want to be him.

Quite frankly, to the extent we get to choose our character, I'd like to take a little bit of (the best of) all of them: the bravery of Piglet, the intellect of Owl, the exuberance of Tigger, etc. But mostly, I think I'd like to get back to that calm, steady, peaceful place of Pooh.

So, help me if you can I've got to get
back to the house at Pooh corner by one
You'd be surprised there's so much to be done,
count all the bees in the hive,
chase all the clouds from the sky .
Back to the days of Christopher Robin and Pooh,
back to the days of Christopher Robin,
back to the ways of Pooh...

Sunday, February 7, 2010

It's Not What You Think

I've been contemplating creating something of this sort for months. On several occasions, I've remarked to others that my dream gig would be writing a column that's part Erma Bombeck, part Tim Allen, part Carrie Bradshaw -- somehow incorporating tales of my misadventures in domestic engineering and my observations on parenthood and on male-female entanglements into a humorous melange others might enjoy perusing.

I wanted to give a nod to both the fictional Carrie and the wry and witty Erma in my title, so, initially, I went with "Sex Over the Septic Tank". However, I found myself worrying that no matter how familiar with my writing some might be, that title might just keep getting misconstrued. I don't know that I'd ever advocate actual sex over an actual septic tank. There's something rather unseemly about the notion. And I certainly didn't want to trip folks up with an unwelcome image or impression. So this morning, I ditched the potentially problematic preposition and opted for the tamer conjunction, settling on "Sex and the Septic Tank." (Tim got short shrift there, I realize, but I figure the reference to small scale sewage treatment systems sounds vaguely home improvementish as well.)

In short, this blog isn't really about sex and/or septic tanks. But an effort to find a way to laugh at and live with the life I now find myself leading. Thank you for indulging me.