If you've come across my blog in the last week or two, you may have seen this post. It looks different today.
As usual, when I wrote this, I had a lot of lofty ambitions for the upcoming year and word vomited them all over my blog. In the days since doing that, I've done some thinking. Maybe I'm really tired today and the thought of getting through any of those previously plotted out 26 resolutions exhausts me terribly. Which is why I've deleted the majority of them. Or, I'm in a different place mentally and emotionally and I've decided that some things on my previously written list were real resolutions that I was resolved to do and the other things...not so much.
I have a nasty habit of deciding to do a plethora of things when I have a ton of energy and am feeling disgustingly optimistic. Only to later decide against those things because I don't have as much energy or I realize that those aren't things that I hold near and dear to my heart, much less want to do.
So, I've rewritten my New Year's resolutions. I've given some thought to them and am deciding where my heart truly is. Because of a few of the things I've marked off the list, I don't have to be resolute to complete. Because they were fun things that I'd have done anyway. Or things that are already in the forefront of my mind for completing and are merely things that need to be checked off a list.
So, here you have it. My new and much improved list of resolutions.
1. Publish The Caged Bird
2. Get a completed first draft of SOS written.
3. Take romantic/trendy/cliché pictures on the beach.
4. Re-learn how to knit.
5. Write a short story.
6. Write 365,000 words (#365kClub).
Most of all, I want to take each day as it comes. I want to worry less and enjoy life more. I want to find the beauty in walking away from things in my life that were only there for a season. I want to be courageous enough to walk a path I've never walked before to see how things are on the other side. And along the way, I hope to grow and learn and love and laugh. A lot.
I’ve always thought it would be fun to be an actress. I mean how cool would it be to get up and go to work every day and get paid to pretend? Very cool, I think. But other than having a couple of small, non-speaking roles in a couple of church plays when I was a kid, I never did anything other than imagine how cool it would be to act.
Until I met Lydia and changed career paths. Apparently making a career change from helping people explore and process their feelings to working with the team of people who build and maintain the agency’s electronic health record, means you end up doing things you only once dreamed about.
Enter Lydia. Lydia is an exquisite create. She’s probably forty-two years old, but carries it well. Thunder makes her nervous and frankly she’s a bit of a gold-digging lush. But, oh, how I love her.
Don’t worry. I’m not saying anything to you that Lydia hasn’t already heard. Besides, once the make-up is on and the stage lights are shining, I am Lydia. Or was anyway in the recent production of Out of Sight, Out of Murder by Fred Carmichael. After weeks and weeks of getting to know Lydia, she taught me a thing or two.
1. When I put my mind to it, I can do a lot. Like learn tons of lines and when to say them.
2. Having confidence takes practice.
3. Getting to know new people can be fun, especially when everyone is working toward the same goal.
4. Perfection is not all that important. Enjoying life is.
5. Sometimes caffeine is good. Like when you have eighteen hour days with very few breaks. Mmmmmm….coffee…..
6. Stretching yourself is good. Not all the time and maybe in small doses, but it reminds you of where your strength comes from.
7. Your biggest supports never let you down. Even if they can barely remember who you are because you’re always at practice.
8. Tech week…those who know theater know that nothing else needs to be said on that topic.
9. A gorgeous dress and sexy heels really reminds a person that it feels good to dress up once in a while. And it’s worth it.
10. It doesn’t matter who’s in the audience because even though the show is for their entertainment, it’s the thrilling combination of determination, hard work, and fun that are all for you.
Thanks to Lydia, I think I’ve found a new hobby.
I've spent the last week mulling over what one word best describes my year of 2014. And for the most part, I've got nothing. My husband suggested the word changes. Lord knows we've had plenty of that in the last twelve months. It just didn't do the trick for me when it comes to describing this year. Some words that come to mind are: interesting, growth, learning.
And as I write this, it hits me. Freeing. The year of 2014 has been freeing for me. I've allowed myself to experience feelings, go places I never planned to go, and have accepted that sometimes what I think I want isn't really what I want at all.
Here's my year in review. What about yours?
February: I went to San Francisco and experienced the thrill of stepping out of my comfort zone toward my goal of really taking my writing seriously. The San Francisco Writer’s Conference (SFWC) and San Francisco changed my life.
March: I had a visit from my sister and her family. It was a good week of playing cards, visiting, and playing in the snow.
April: I celebrated my one year anniversary in the management position day job. It had been a tough one year and I had learned a lot. It was a good feeling to have made it that far in a difficult position.
May: I turned thirty-eight. Not a big deal, but it sure did bring forty that much closer. I’m still not sure what I think about that.
July: Disney World with the kids. It was the first time we’d gone to Florida for vacation. We had a great time in the heat and humidity and strangely enough the rain. I had no idea it rains so much there. On our way home, we drove to New Orleans and I got to visit the home/bookstore of William Faulkner. And I was not awarded a job I had applied for. I’d spent days talking out loud and to myself about the pros and cons of getting it/not getting it. I took it rather well, I think.
August: Our youngest daughter was in an ATV accident. It was scary. She has recovered well and we couldn’t be more grateful for the hand of God watching over her. We flew to Atlanta and then drove to South Carolina to see our son graduate from basic training. It was a quick, impromptu trip and we were blessed with the company of his girlfriend. It was a reality check on how quickly our children grow up.
September: We celebrated our fourteenth wedding anniversary by taking our three younger kids (the only ones still at home) on a cruise with us. It was blissfully fun. Not only did we have a great time, but it helped me get out of my overly vigilant watch of our accident recovering daughter. It was good for both of us.
October: I was awarded a position in the world of IT, quite a different world from where I’ve spent the last several years. I was thrilled and scared at the prospect of upcoming change.
November: NaNoWriMo (61,000 words). New job . Weekly play practice. I don’t remember much else about November. I was tired a lot.
December: I began the serious practice of letting things go. There is beauty in walking away and I needed to find that beauty. Holding on to past hurts, anger, and betrayals is just not worth the energy it consumes. My husband bought me a beautiful chiming wall clock for Christmas. I cried because of what it symbolizes.
When I look back over the year, I realize there are things I've put here that I haven't yet shared in detail. Like the story of the clock and how a weekend in San Francisco can change a person's life. I'll work on that this new year.
How has 2014 treated you? Care to share your year in review? Or just a few snippets of 2014? What are you thankful for from that year? Is there anything you’re glad to have behind you?
Christmas is one of my favorite times of the year. There are just so many great things about it. I love the snow (when we get some), the frenzy people engage in over getting all their shopping in, setting up the tree, and yes, opening presents. What can I say? I’m a present kind of woman. And I love traditions; old family ones, and coming up with new ones.
Over the years, I’ve participated in a lot of different Christmas traditions and have even created a handful of new ones with my incredible husband and our kids.
· We put up our Christmas tree on Thanksgiving. I’m pretty sure this stems from my childhood when my parents would get my sisters and I together to put up the tree and decorate it. We always had a live tree back then, but my husband is a fan of the artificial type. It took a little while, but I got on board.
· Getting all my shopping done before November. As much as I love the hustle and bustle of the stores the closer we get to Christmas Day, I prefer shopping online where everything is just shipped right to my door. I tend to have the kids get their lists in to me by July.
· The infamous second Christmas list. It never fails. Every year I get all the shopping done before November and then I think of a dozen more things to buy for the kids or my niece and nephew. I can’t help it; I like spoiling them. So, I start a second list and do another round of shopping…all the while hoping the gifts arrive before Christmas day.
· Making a gingerbread house. This is a fairly new tradition that my daughters and I started a few years ago when my youngest daughter was wandering through the store. She texted me that she’d found a gingerbread kit and could we please, please, please buy it. I told her that was fine and sent her sister over to help her decide which kit to buy. Ten minutes later, they came back, a giggling mass of long dark hair; their arms laden with all four gingerbread kits. My older daughter: “She couldn’t make up her mind.” My younger daughter: “This way we can build a Christmas village!”
· Secret Santa. When I was a kid, my dad might have gotten tired of hearing us ask if we could open a present before Christmas. Or he just liked Christmas. Either way, he decided that every year, we would draw names from a hat and whichever name we got, that’s who we bought a gift for. Our family would then drive to the nearest department store on Christmas Eve and buy that one last gift. The trick was to buy the gift without anyone else seeing what you bought; especially the person whose name you’d drawn. It was always a fun shopping trip and I loved being able to open a present on Christmas Eve. These days, my husband and I do Secret Santa with our kids. It’s always fun and it reminds me of a happy time from my childhood.
What about you? What do you like about this holiday season? Do you stick to old family traditions and mix it up with a few new ones or do you find new and exciting things to do each year?
We've all seen them. There are all kinds of memes about loving your dysfunctional family and finding a way to fit into the strange brood you came from. But let’s face it. Not everyone is able to do that.
Maybe they don’t have a family anymore. Or perhaps the thought of cozying up to those folks during the holidays just isn’t as humorous as Vince Vaughn and Reese Witherspoon find it in the movie Four Christmases. Not everyone comes from a family like the Walton’s or the Brady Bunch. And for others who are just too far away from their loved ones, geographically speaking, coming home for Christmas is just a dream.
But I've never been a fan of bumming people out or bringing down a crowd with sad news. So, let’s talk about how we can cheer people up for the holidays –including those of us who might fit into one of those groups above. Here are some solutions to putting some “family” cheer into the holidays.
· Organize a cookie swap. This is a fun way to get some holiday baking done and spend time with others. You don’t have to bother getting dressed up on Christmas Day because cookie swaps can be done leading up to it. Send a call out to anyone you want to share cookies with, find some recipes on Pinterest, and get baking. Then, on the appointed day, bundle up those baked goodies and head over for a bit of socializing and cookie trading.
· Plan a Friendsmas. I’ve heard of this being done in place of Thanksgiving (Friendsgiving) and think it’s a great idea. You round up some close friends and together plan a meal and gift swapping for the holiday.
· Volunteer at a soup kitchen or shelter. Sometimes the best way to find Christmas cheer is to give to others. Is there a soup kitchen or shelter nearby that needs a volunteer or two? If so, sign up and spend some time giving back to the community.
· Be part of the Christmas and Easter crowd at church. If you’re the religious type or are interested in learning more about it, there are lots of denominations that have Christmas services. Some on Christmas Eve and others on Christmas Day. Do an internet search for a church near you and drop in. The kids in Christmas pageants love performing for big crowds.
· If you’re looking to get away from the snow and cold weather, consider a Christmas cruise. You can head out for warmer climates and say bah humbug to all the traditional Christmas tidings while working on your tan.
· The dinner & a movie plan. My family did this for several years and loved it. Instead of spending the day in, find a good movie on the big screen and locate your favorite Chinese food restaurant (or other restaurants –it’s becoming more common for food places to stay open on the holidays) and enjoy a day on the town. Traffic tends to be lighter and who can resist movie theater popcorn?
· Go caroling. Gather up some friends or your kids and their friends and cruise the neighborhood spreading a little holiday cheer to others.
· Visit the elderly at the nursing home. Distance, travel, and lack of family members can make the holidays a tough time for those in nursing homes and hospitals too. So, head over and spend some time with them. Bring your knitting or a board game and help put a smile on someone else’s face. You might just end up with a friend.
· Maybe you want to enjoy the holiday, but for whatever reason, the thought of being around others this year is just too difficult. If that’s the case, find a quiet way to spend the day, but still be sure to enjoy yourself. Tackle your “to-be-read” pile or put on a favorite movie. Cook up your favorite dish or order something the day before and heat it up on Christmas day. It’s okay to go it alone, just make sure you’re doing something to put a smile on your face.
· Get outside. Whether you live in a cold climate or a warm one, there is always something to do. Go play in the snow, build a snowman, or go skiing. Take a swim, go biking, take a walk or a hike, or go golfing. Get your blood pumping, enjoy the great outdoors, and have a good time.
There are many reasons that people spend the holidays alone. If you’re one of them, try something from this list to brighten your holiday. If you are blessed with (sane and friendly) family members and have plenty of fun things already planned for Christmas, consider inviting someone along or breaking out of your tradition to do something fun with him or her. It’s not all about gifts, it’s about spreading Christmas cheer.
I’ve always been a cat person. Well, since I was about 12 years old anyway, that’s the first time I remember having a pet cat. We named her Kitty. Original, I know. She had kittens and they were given away. I don’t know what happened to her in the end when my parents moved us to an apartment in the city. And I don’t think we ever had another cat after that. A dog, yes. A cat…I don’t think so. Some things went fuzzy during my high school years.
When I got married at the age of 23, I did the unthinkable. I married a man who hates cats. And then, six years later I convinced him that I had to have one. A long hunt for the right cat ended with some scratches, a new belief in devil cats, and Stanlie. Our beloved, gender confused, ball of fur who allows us to live with him, but seems to like everyone else she meets. (See the “him” and “her” in that sentence? Gender confused, seriously. Someday, I’ll tell you the whole story.)
Today’s story has to do with big cats. Big cats and one little girl who loves them and thinks the world should be working harder to save the endangered species. Specifically, the tiger.
A few weeks ago, my niece informed her mom that tigers are endangered. Her concern for the big cuddly kittens has been on the forefront of her mind. My sister later shared this link with me: Adopt a Tiger. Apparently these big cats are “one of the most threatened species on Earth.”
And the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) isn’t the only organization interested in getting the word out on saving the tigers. J.A. Mills, author of Blood of the Tiger: A story of conspiracy, greed, and the battle to save a magnificent species is also raising awareness on the issue. I have not yet read this book, but the first couple of pages grabbed my attention.
So, if you’re a fan of cats and still looking for that perfect gift to give someone, how about adopting a tiger? You won’t have to worry about a cage big enough to house the precious kitty, but your loved one will get some cute, tiger-like gifts, and get to be part of the solution for this endangered species.