Sunday, January 31, 2010

Sunday Dinner

Ah, the family Sunday dinner. I am rather a traditionalist when it comes to Sunday dinner- for that matter, taking care of my family in general. I am not always the tough career chick - I actually love cooking for and caring for my girls. In fact, nothing brings me more joy. Avery told me tonight - " I am so glad you got to be my mom...want to know why? Because I love you, you love me and you are a good cooker. You should have a baking shop." Now how did my child know of my secret desire to be a pastry chef? Of course, this was right after she ate dinner and devoured a baked from scratch yellow cupcake with chocolate frosting. Yes, I do love to cook - not always great for the waistline, but surely good for the heart.

Sundays, in particular, have special meaning. I remember going to my grandparents on Sunday for dinner. I don't have any idea how often we went, but it seems like alot. The four kids would pile in my parents station wagon and trek from West Toledo to South Toledo. Probably a 20 minute drive, but it felt longer as a kid. My grandmother usually made roast beef, mashed potatoes and gravy rutabagas (for my sister and dad), veggies, rolls - a big spread.

My grandpa always had golf on the TV and when we got there, would take us into the kitchen for a soda. My older siblings tell me that he put a nip of whiskey in our 7-Up- kind of a mini highball. Probably so his grandkids were quiet so he could watch the game. After dinner, we watched Mutual of Omaha's Wild Kingdom and marveled at how the old guy would always send in Jim to do the really scary stuff. After Wild Kingdom, came Lawrence Welk and maybe the start of Mitch Miller and then we had to head home. My Grandpa always washed the dishes. He was a "manly" guy - a union man and an electrician. And there he would be over the sink, wearing an apron with a cigar sticking out of the corner of his mouth- quite a sight.

I want my girls to have wonderful Sunday memories. Our family may be smaller, but we can still make it special. Our new tradition is that each person gets to pick the Sunday dinner menu one week and the rotate. Lily has next week and no surprise wants angel hair pasta, garlic bread and broccoli. The week after is Avery's turn and she wants Chinese. So I am going to pull out the cookbooks and find some recipes for us to try. Sunday dinner needs to be special.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

The best is yet to come...

If there was ever a day meant for writing, for blogging - this is it. Rainy, cold weather outside and a warm, cozy day inside. I did take a long walk in all of this mess and maybe the exercise has put me in a better mood than normal. Listening to some old school favorites Aaron Neville and Van Morrison has me quoting "Someone Like You" by Van. Maybe Van is right and the best is yet to come.

I was going to blog today about patience and my efforts to store up more of that particular virtue, but that can be a topic for another day. In addition to making me feel good, exercise helps me clear my head and shake loose the neural cobwebs. Add to that a pretty productive week at work, some time spent with a smart and attractive man, wonderful and supportive friends and great kids. I am feeling rather optimistic and remain grateful for the amazing gifts that I have in my life.

I am beginning to think that a byproduct of this living authentically journey is an extra boost of happiness or contentment. Maybe it is the process of accepting yourself fully, being true to yourself and being open to bringing into your life the people and experiences that will also honor and appreciate the real authentic you. The other half of that equation is, of course, not to allow into your life, and your head for that matter, the people and experiences who don't honor and appreciate your unique self. There is an amazing freedom in that experience. Back to the Four Agreements- if someone does not value or appreciate the authentic me- there is not a whole lot I can do about that. Remaining true to myself is the best response.

It is turning out to be pretty cool to put myself out there in full and living color- being truly who I am, and watching what happens in response. Freedom is the best word I can use to define the feeling. Make no mistake, it has and will be tough at times and frankly even a little scary- especially in the dating world- to stay on this journey. But I am beginning to see why so many brilliant minds suggest this path as the one that will lead to happiness.

So here I am - like it or not..LOL I remained convinced that my life will continue to move in the right direction. The best is yet to come!!

Sunday, January 24, 2010


Strength - what does that mean to you...are the impressions good or bad? I have been told many times that I am strong. Usually, I interpreted that as positive. Resilent, able to withstand emotional and physical pain, toughness, able to offer support and succor to others, pulling myself and other through a crisis- seem like good traits to get through life. Yet at times, I have felt defensive and even defiant about my so called strength. Why? Isn't that what got me through the tough times? Is it not feminine enough? If so, that is a lie. Some of the strongest, toughest and most powerful people I have ever met are women.

I had a wonderful conversation this weekend with J - he asked me over dinner why I seem to apologize or justify being strong. Why is it something that I must explain or defend? Great questions... Who told me I was "too strong?" When my answer was my ex-husband for one- well it became obvious that I was putting credence or power into the words and opinion of someone whose thoughts really didn't apply to who I am at my core. In other words, "why the hell do you care what he thinks?" Made sense to me. After all, life can be tough, don't you want your partner to be able to deal with it and help you get through it?

Aha moment for me. I really don't care what he thinks. Maybe it was the fact that the, man I had once married and loved at one point found me too strong..too powerful. I realized in that moment that well..I am strong, have a strong personality, have strong love and loyalty for people in my life and I have no need to apologize or explain that strength.

The man who enters my life will not only be OK with that- he will value that quality in me. He will, in fact, draw strength and power from my strength and realize that it does not diminish him. In fact, it helps us both. The reality is that a strong man values a strong woman. He is not intimidated or lessened by her power. He is energized by it and recognizes that when a woman's power backs him - there is nothing that he or she can not overcome.

So reinvention continues with the understanding that living authentically means not just understanding who I am but also appreciating it- including my strength. So if you need me.. I am here...

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Laughter = stress release

Stress release!! Lets count the ways - exercise, meditation, bubble bath, good book, and some wonderful other activities that we single gals don't get to experience often enough. Baking and cooking - yeah..that is what I meant LOL. Actually, I love to cook and especially to bake. I enjoy the creative and incredibly relaxing zone that I enter when I bake. Maybe there is something zen in the repetitive nature of mixing ingredients and dropping cookie dough on as tray..maybe it is because if I do say so myself, I good at it. OK -I know there was a whole successful blog about this - Julie and Julia..made into a book and I won't go there!

I realized tonight, however, that that one of the most soothing, fun, blood pressure reducing acts on the earth is free, fairly easy to do and simple - laughing. My girls can be silly little chicks and we laugh alot in this house. After a good laugh at one of Avery's antics, I realized that it was the most stress free and relaxed I had felt all day. And it was a rather stressful day. I love to laugh, enjoy a great joke and strive to find humor in everyday life. Going to the movies this weekend and I think a comedy is in order.

One of my goals in reinventing my life is to live with joy. Joy = passion, purpose and laughter! Time for a little more fun, joy and laughter..And maybe a batch of chocolate chip cookies for good measure.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Thanks Marianne and why not??

Today was such a gorgeous day that I had to get outside instead of writing! So the theme to this blog post is one of my absolute favorite quotes of all time from Marianne Williamson.

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” - Marianne Williamson

I find this message so powerful and necessary on those days when doubts creep in and the little voice inside (OK not actual voices LOL) isn't very encouraging- especially about those things in my life that I am wishing for that haven't quite shown up yet. I love the part in this quote about childen who shine. Think about kids before society, school, friends even we well meaning parents tell them that they can't do some something or that they are not as fabulous as they believe.

So here is to the brilliant Marianne Williamsonn quote. Who am I not to be able to dream big, change my life, walk a half marathon, meet a fabulous man and fall in love, be a great mom, write amazing books, find success at work. Why the heck not?

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Heavy heart and glimmers of hope

The images of the devastation and loss of life in Haiti wash over me and my heart gets so heavy and I can't help but cry. Just imagine your child lost in the rubble, being separated from your family or sleeping next to a corpse because there is no where else to go. Anyone else out there been reduced to a puddle of tears over this tragedy? I read tonight that they are still pulling people alive out of the rubble - I am sure that their loved ones are ecstatic.

As always in times of crisis, the human race seems to wake up from its siloed view of the world and open their hearts, prayers, emotions and wallets to help someone whom they do not know. We seem to "get" in these moments of tragedy that we do have a responsibility to help one another and that those of us who reside on this planet really are connected. The genuine love, compassion, aid and care being directed toward Haiti from our county and from around the world are the glimmers of hope from this tragedy. If we can get together across party lines in this country, and international borders with other countries to help Haiti - why in the world can't we all get it together to work on the other problems on the planet? A tragedy seems to bring out our universal, shared connection - that which makes us spirit as well as human and once again bring home the point that we really are more alike than different. The expression that we are spiritual beings having a human experience seems to come to life in these times.

Of course, there is always someone (if I was being ugly, I would call them idiots) who take times like this to bash people who are different than themselves, practice a different religion or politicize a nightmare situation for press coverage. I won't give these two guys the coverage in my blog but you probably know who they are... My two cents to those guys is guess what - you are not superior to anyone else because of your race, religion or politics... No one wishes for this to happen to someone else and no one deserves it. And guess what, we do have a moral obligation as spritual beings and members of the human race to lend a hand, a prayer and support to those in crisis no matter in what country they reside. For the folks who read the bible - when Jesus told us to help the least of his brothers, he did not add a bunch of qualifiers as to who deserves the help.

Tragedy remains but my heavy heart is lightened a bit with the outpouring of love and compassion from across the world.

Friday, January 8, 2010

The magic and power of words

Words- written, spoken, a well told story all have tremendous power and bring me joy and inspiration. The power of the words we use to describe ourselves and others can uplift or dampen our spirits. I am reading a book by Wayne Dyer about the power of intention and attuning your vision, dreams, thoughts and attitude with your desired reality. The words we use have an equally powerful impact on our reality. I am still working on using gentler, kinder words with myself and those in my life. If thoughts and words have the power to manifest change in my life- I had better watch what I say and ensure it expresses what I want in my life.

A well told story, much like a beautiful piece of art or music can bridge generations, cultures and points of view. Words can entertain, enlighten, teach and touch your heart. Isn't diving into a good book, article or even losing yourself in in a story on the silver screen, the ultimate way of "walking in someone else's shoes" and learning about the world outside your own walls? To me writing and reading are the glue that connect my everyday life with both my inner self and the wisdom of others. I have read some amazing work over the years- both fiction and non-fiction and what strikes me is that whether a story is based in Afghanistan, Russia, China, the US or Chile - the human experience has much more in common than not. Dreams, desires, love, sorrow, joy, pain, the search for truth, and often for something "more" seem to be universal. Perhaps we really do lead an interconnected existence. Perhaps quantum physics is correct and the energy of life, in all its forms, really does intersect at a basic level and one person's experience is shared by all. Puts a whole new twist on being "your brother's keeper."

I have loved to read as long as I can remember- ever since my first grade teacher, Sister Mary Elizabeth taught me how to decipher letters into words and translate them into the magic of stories and books. The alchemy of words - truly transformative, magical thoughts put to paper or music have brought great joy into my life. It thrills me to see that Lily has a love for reading and pains me that Avery is still struggling with that translation that Sister Elizabeth taught me so well. I hope that both of my girls find the joy and magic in words and books. It will change and improve their lives in immeasurable ways.