Lightening up life a few words at a time

Thoughts on the holidays

Hello all, world’s laziest blogger here –

 

It’s Christmas Day. I’m watching several versions of Yule Log, sipping coffee and reveling in the quirky, meaningful gifts that surround me, like the Easter Island Garden statue that will help to form a new garden in the spring. I’ve had a love/hate relationship with Christmas for as long as I can remember.

 

As a kid, there were a few short years where my parents and I formed the “Hallmark holiday,” they were a newly married couple with the daughter they never thought they’d have. They’d lost my brother and sister, twins, just a year before. For a few years, all was calm and bright. Then, we lost my dad.

 

I say all this, not for sympathy, but to help make sense of the wild ride this time of year brings forth for my emotions. The childhood years that followed were happy at times, but there was always something missing. We tried to find that something at church, my mother and I going faithfully and participating in all the carol singing and candle lit services. It brought some comfort, but as we sat side by side, I could feel the unspoken thoughts exchanged between us – merciful God had let us down. It was hard to feel joyful when Dad was taken away. The hole in our hearts was hard to fill.

 

As I grew to adulthood, I overcompensated, trying to make up for everything so that my Mom could enjoy her holiday. We went on trips and I gave her elaborate gifts. She loved them all and we managed some very happy times, all with a tinge of longing, but the hole was filling in, a little. We found some comfort in giving to others, and that tradition helped quite a lot. It still helps, more than most.

 

Mom’s been gone now 22 years. At times, the thought still devastates me. Every holiday season, I have at least one meltdown. I’ve decided that’s ok. Somehow, it keeps my love for her at the forefront. She’d be delighted to know that I have a loving husband and family who mean the world to me. Their love fills the hole a little more with each year.

 

To all who, like me, still have a little hole in their heart at the holidays, I offer you this: remember that you are not alone, be gentle with yourself, feel whatever feelings you have without apology, celebrate small victories, stay home when you need to, be a light for someone who is hurting more than you are, give thanks and know that you are a cherished being, worthy of love and happiness.

 

Peace

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I am, perhaps, the world’s laziest blogger. But this morning’s happiness quotient has motivated me to click on the keyboard once again.

A long time ago, I ran away to Vegas, after experiencing THE worst year of my life. I came for two weeks and stayed for a year. It took every minute of that time to regain my strength, to heal, and to want to move forward. I met friends who became family. Best of all, I got my mojo back.

Every year since, I come back. Vegas usually calls me when I need it most. This trip is no exception. It has been a long winter, not weather wise, but emotionally. My mood lifted a full ten clicks as I watched from the plane window as my favorite gaudy landmarks zipped past during landing last night.

I bounced out of bed this morning. I haven’t done that in a while. And I certainly haven’t bounced out of bed and made it to the keyboard to do any of my own writing in who knows when. I’m happy to be here.

I spent a half hour at the gym (small steps) and then took to the neighborhood to get my bearings. I’m staying in a part of town that’s new for me. After completing the “must-dos,” I headed to one of my happy places, Trader Joe’s. There is no shortage of strip malls in Vegas. But the one that houses this TJs is a hidden gem. It hosts quite a few independent stores, including a family-run musical instrument store. I tucked my groceries in the trunk and meandered into the store, strolling through the pianos,  stopping occasionally to plink out a note or two. I gave giving the guitars and basses equal time as well. The staff was helpful but didn’t hover, and they didn’t mind me browsing.

My happiness quotient really shot up when I came upon Mothership Coffee Roasters. My barista suggested a cappuccino, made with the Ballast Espresso pictured above. It was divine. I bought the bag. He bought me my cappuccino. I am in heaven. Maybe I’ll even write again tomorrow.

 

 

 

I’ve always felt that if you offer up to the universe something that’s been weighing on your heart or mind, you often find the answer.

So, a few things are hanging around my neck like a sack of keys. They’re certainly nothing life threatening, or even earth shattering in the grand scheme of things. But they matter. To me.

I used to be an amazingly good judge of character. I could hone in on a genuine friend with razor sharp precision. About ten years ago, I got duped and scorched in the worst way. Ever since then, my radar’s been off. As such, I’ve collected a few people in my life whom I grew to care deeply about. The feelings, it has turned out, were not mutual. Truly it all still has me scratching my head. I feel like the butt of a W. C. Field’s quotation. Indeed, there is a sucker born every minute, and that sucker is me.

I want the universe to clear my vision and bring back my ability to gather the kindred souls who will be sources of mutual joy. And, in the meantime, I’m wishing for strength to get through this briar patch. Peace and harmony to all, and to all a good night.

I have one of those significant others who can eat virtually anything and not gain an ounce. Moi, on the other hand, walks by a bowl of chips and puts on the pounds.

So I’ve been reading and hearing about kale chips and how tasty they are, and healthy. So off I went to the produce store to fetch a head of kale.

The recipes abound on the net for making the chips. It was relatively easy. And, with enough spices on them, they are tasty enough. But at the end of the day, they still taste like…kale.

Think of me, while he sits with his bowl of salt and pepper kettle cooked golden pieces of heavenly goodness. And I munch on dark green tidbits that are, at least, good for me.

Bon Appetit.

Kale Chips Recipe from Gimme Some Oven Blog

Ingredients:

  • 1 bunch fresh kale leaves, well-washed and dried (you can use a salad spinner, or pat dry with towels, or just let air dry!)
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • coarse sea salt (or whatever salt you prefer)

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

On a cutting board, use a kitchen knife to chop the kale into bite-sized (about 1″) pieces. (You can also tear it apart with your hands.) Place pieces in a large bowl, and drizzle with olive oil. Then using your hands, toss the kale until the leaves are evenly coated with the oil.

Lay the kale pieces out evenly on the parchment-lined baking sheet, and then sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for about 12 minutes, or until kale is dark green and crunchy. Remove from oven, let cool, and then serve.

Home – By Hand

Two men are transforming my home, by hand. I am completely amazed at the process. Every day, I watch as board by board, nail by nail, this miraculous structure takes shape. The hand made nature of the process is what fascinates me. I’m not sure what I was thinking when we went into this process. Somehow I just didn’t picture that each piece had to be measured, cut and assembled like a puzzle. I’ve enjoyed watching the patterns created by wood that will never be seen once the rooms are finished. I’ll know they’re there, behind the walls, under the floors, supporting the roof. Long after we’ve moved in with furniture and paint and artwork, I’ll run my hands along the walls and remember what it looked like when the magical men were building me a home, by hand.

Winter blahs

Lack of sunlight is what I’m going to blame it on – the radio silence that is. Yes, I have been a total writing slug these past few months. I have come up with a variety of excuses and rationalizations, none of which will really hold water.

I did finish one really cool project during my time of sluggishness. I helped edit, then put up on Createspace, the stories my friend’s dad had written over the years about his military service.

They were, at times, difficult to read. He saw things that people shouldn’t ever have to see, and endured things that no one should endure. When I finished with the project I was left with a sense of awe and wonder.

I’m not sure I have ever had a singularity of purpose the way he did. It’s been a long time since I have been committed to or passionate about something the way he was about his mission.

That’s something I’m pondering these days. Where to go to find your passion?

 

 

 

Last Sunday, I was listening to “Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me” on NPR. Their game show guest was Leonard Nimoy. Hearing his voice rekindled a spark in me, the likes of which I haven’t felt since I was a teenager. And it gave me the courage to ask you, puleeze, sir…May I have a part in the next Star Trek?

Since I was six, I’ve been watching. By the time I was nine, I was begging my mother to let me become an astronaut, because Mr. Spock would only want to marry me if I could travel with him back to space.

I’ll do anything for my chance – walk around the big rock into an ion storm, wear the red shirt on the away team, fall prey to the giant, white one-horned gorilla – anything! Just let me boldly go where my imagination has taken me every night since childhood.

I feel like I’ve earned my spot. I’ve watched every episode of every series at least twice. I quote dialogue from all of the movies. I’ve been to Science Fiction Hall of Fame. I can do the Vulcan salute with both hands, simultaneously. I know that real Cardssians are not married to basketball players. I have the deluxe Kirk and Spock ‘salt and pepper’ shakers on my dining room table right now.

Give me the chance. I’ll make you proud, I promise. Live long and prosper.