Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Dreaming Big

I used to have dreams.

Big ones.

Practicing my Oscar acceptance speech big.

What would I win for? Acting, maybe. Later, screenplay. Adapted, naturally. It’s the easier route.

Those dreams were fun to think about, but were more fantastical than actual goals. They eased gradually as real life took over, and sort of puffed away like breath clouds in the winter.

I haven’t practiced my Oscar speech in at least a year.

Sometimes, though, the kind of person who has big dreams resurfaces, and she comes quietly, just humming under the skin, until the moment I’ve realized that nobody in my house listens to a word I say nor notices that I manage their garbage all day long.

Then the surface breaks and that person unleashes a Come to Jesus monologue usually aimed at my husband, a performance complete with tears and snot about how I put my career permanently on the shelf for our family. Has anyone sacrificed this much? Surely no one has given up what I have (declared dramatically, with Katharine Hepburn affect).

A rant like this would certainly win me an Oscar if not for the small fact that this movie is my life and there’s only one actor and there’s no one paying to watch it.

Though I’m sure my husband would argue that he pays plenty to watch it. Plenty.

And then one day, after many of these moments, just like that – my grandfather died.

Soon after, it was my husband’s uncle. Then my grandmother. My other grandmother. My husband’s grandmother. Between them, the parents of several good friends. Then more: a family friend, a woman from church, the list goes on.

The rule of three – where death happens in threes and then stops for a while – was thrown out the window with the loss of life that swirled in and around our lives the last several years. While the rest of the world mourned the parade of famous people passing, we were already grieving. It is just beginning. We are at that age where the people who helped formed our histories are approaching the end of their own. “Death is a part of life,” I say to myself, often. It happens to all of us.

Their obituaries are long. The columns list birthdays, anniversary dates, workplaces, churches attended, hobbies, names of family members. They include descriptions about their personalities complete with flourishes, highlighting all the best parts and all the wonderful things they did, their high significance in their loved ones’ lives. These were great people in their circles. They were “loved by all” and would be “missed by many” in their absence. The funerals I attend are celebrations of life, filled with shared memories, laughter, tears, fond remembrances spoken with quavering voices to rooms full of mourners.

Life will never again be the same when the people we love die. Back-to-back deaths like this affect us deeply, change us forever. We resist getting used to these life-altering losses, refuse to take the news of a life ending with anything but shock and sadness. We are devastated without them, yet our lives go on.

This intense period of loss awareness makes me think about what will happen when I die. Selfishly, I want people to think of me with flourishes and high significance. I’m not alone in this, and neither is my husband, who, after being away from a business trip for two days, bursts thorough the door bellowing, “I’m here! Was it unbearable without me?” and then is disappointed when the reaction is anything but dancing with joy, piles of presents, and gushing that life ceased to have meaning while he was gone.

Take it easy, guy. You were in Park City, not back from your fourth tour in Afghanistan.

The people in our lives are regular people who live alongside us for years, and their lives touch ours deeply. Everyone has big dreams at some point in their lives. Maybe they even hold onto them until the end. Maybe we know about these dreams, and maybe we don’t. Of all the people that I have known to leave this world recently, not one of them won an Oscar. Maybe they had Oscar dreams, but that doesn’t add to their significance and the manner in which they are remembered.


We all want to be remembered fondly, and in big ways if possible. But memories don’t always call up honors and awards. They settle on how we were thoughtful gift-givers, the way we welcomed people we barely knew, how we helped those in need, our warmth and humor and fearlessness and strength.

We all dream about what we might achieve, but we might not dream about how we will be remembered. Maybe we won’t win Oscars, but we can refer to the good examples of loved ones who have passed and pattern our lives after theirs. And maybe we will be honored with flourishes and significance when we are gone.

I am learning that those are dreams worth having.

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Please don’t use this as my obituary picture.
Or do.
Either way, please remember me with high significance.
Flourishes.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

Sweet

These are a few of my favorite things

Hi. I like sugar.

The allure of sugar is that it tastes amazing, duh. I can’t get enough of it.

Except that I can, and I have, and sometimes enough is when I start seeing spots and know it’s time to dial back on the sweet.

Yes. I have eaten so much sugar at times that my vision is affected. It’s totally a thing.

This may be a red flag for some.

It is for me, as is the bloated feeling, the immediate sugar crash, the weight gain that happens after a particularly long and intense sugar binge. I have named these binges: Christmas.

Easter.

Halloween.

And all the times I go to the grocery store and all the bags are two for five bucks in the candy aisle.

Our grocery store has two candy aisles.

I’m getting off track. What I’m saying is that all these red flags point to one thing à I should stop eating so much sugar.

And I have.

I MISS IT.

But it isn’t good for me. I feel ill after I eat it. Obviously the vision impairment is less than ideal. I have reached an age where I can’t just power through the sick feeling. It lingers. It makes me sluggish. I hate that feeling, despite adoring the act of lying around. So I stopped eating allthesugar.

And I feel better.

And I have resolved to remember this feeling of good health when I see candy in the grocery store.

And I cruise right on by it.

All of it.

And I feel great about eating more healthily.

I’m so happy to be off the sugar.

Just in time for Girl Scout cookie season.

Photo credit: mandaloo via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA


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This post inspired by:

Mama’s Losin’ It

Prompt #4: Write a blog post inspired by the word: sugar

Thursday, January 5, 2017

This is It

(Title not meant to refer to Michael Jackson’s 2009 rockumentary of the same name, though let’s face it, the death of Michael Jackson affected me immensely and I still miss him, RIP MJ)

Every year bloggers across the globe write terribly thoughtful posts about their word of the year.

What is a word of the year, you ask? Well, allow me to explain.

After all, I need to fill this post with words about something.

Children, a word of the year is a word that you adopt as a short mantra, one that you hope will influence your life in a positive way for the year. It is a word that you can meditate over and remember in good times and hard times, and in all the in-between times. You choose it to remind you of an area you need to work on in your life, or for something you want to do more of, or to stop you from being such a jerk in a problem area. Usually we hope that the word will motivate us to change for the better, that it will manifest itself into our lives and make us a supreme version of ourselves.

Not a Supreme, though wouldn’t it be amazing to have Diana Ross’s hair for just one week?

In choosing a word, I try to think about what I had such a hard time doing the previous year, something that I struggled with over and over, something that I wanted desperately to change but couldn’t without picking a word from my native lexicon that has magical powers to make me a better version of myself. Last year it was Let Go, two words that reminded me of the movie Frozen but also inspired me to not let things that my husband does bug me so much.

It worked, but honestly, I need to Let Go more and it could be my word of the year for the rest of my years on earth.

But that is boring, so I’m picking another word. I’m letting you go, Let Go.

My word for 2017? Breathe.

As in: take a beat. Think before you speak. Don’t say it DON’T SAY IT. Breathe instead. Get back to basics. Simplify and detoxify. Breathe first, think later.

I thought of this word the other day and was all – way to go, girl, you found your word! Way. To. Go. Genius. Child.

Then I realized this was my word another year, I think. I’m too lazy to go back and find the blog post where I chose Breathe as my WOTY so let’s pretend that I came up with Breathe this year for the first time and I’m not just recycling words, hmmmmm?

Or just face it. I have deep-seated issues that maybe can’t be undone in a year by thinking about one word every couple of days.

Breathe in, breathe out. All the time, all year long.


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This post inspired by:

Mama’s Losin’ It

Prompt #2: Did you pick a word for 2017? Share!

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

How I Lost My Spirit on New Year’s Day

Probably the best thing about the holidays is the free time to do whatever the heck you want.

Like this is my life but go with it, okay?

I mean, there’s no school, no work (for those lucky enough to not have to work during the holidays, I mean I used to work during the holidays and I didn’t hate it but there is something to be said for not having to be anywhere for at least a day or two because of a holiday, amiright?), no something to do.

Except if you have a spouse and kids and a house and still have to do all the chores that life has to offer, isn’t life so generous with all it has to offer, especially in the chores realm?

Well, in fact I like to keep up with chores and stuff and try not to let it get ahead of me lest I completely lose my mind since I like order and cleanliness and whatnot, so some of that whatever the heck you want to do stuff includes laundry and cooking dinner and taking out the trash but I like not having to do that stuff on a timeline, and if I decide to cook dinner at 2 pm or cook three dinners in one day or start vacuuming in the evening because I can, I’m for it. And if I want to bag it all and just go to the movies instead, hey man that’s cool too.

Anyhoo, one of the best things to do is waste away the first day of the year every year by drinking mimosas, watching garbage TV and lounging around.

That’s usually on the menu for New Year’s Day in our house, but for some inexplicable reason this year, my family members had specific plans that included going out of the house.

Which is not at all in line with the spirit of New Year’s, and I was deeply offended by their industry. So of course I took my wasteland day a step further and vowed that I would wear pajamas all day.

Now I know what you are thinking – Big Deal. People (non-babies) wear pajamas all day every day, what’s so special about that? Check out any Walmart or grocery store or Walmart grocery store and there will be a lady in there wearing her pj bottoms, dirty slippers and carrying some sort of Coach accessory. By the way, let’s stop pretending that Coach is some sort of exclusive designer brand. How can it be if every pajama-wearing lady in Walmart is swinging around a Coach wristlet? I’m not trying to disrespect Coach or pajama-wearing ladies, but let’s be real. Sell Coach at Walmart already.

By the end of mid-morning I was loving life. PJ day is for me, I thought to myself. I chose the correct pair to wear all day: not too heavy or light, and even added a lightweight robe to snuggle in and brand-new fuzzy socks. I munched a square of breakfast casserole and drank some coffee, poured a mimosa in celebration, and shared a picture of my triumphant plan on Facebook.

Feelin' good at 11:45

At noon – three mimosas o’clock – I got up to stretch and waddled out to the kitchen to stir the pork and sauerkraut, our dinner that evening and my one superstition. My husband had returned with our daughter from a sleepover and I hugged her hello. She disappeared to her room to unpack and take a nap before basketball practice. My son and husband started discussing their activities for the afternoon, shopping and other vagaries that interested me little. I grabbed some leftover Christmas cookies and a fresh cup of coffee and settled back on the couch. I was beginning to feel slightly filmy but ignored the creeping discomfort.

By two I had to tap into my resolve to stay clothed in last night’s sleepwear. I felt gross and my hair was sliding off my head. I dug in and closed my eyes in the hope that I would fall asleep. Naps make time go faster.

Four pm. I was making mashed potatoes for our dinner and found myself fantasizing about scrubbing the filth off me using a Brillo pad.

By 6:30 I wanted to die.

After dinner and clean up I was so sweaty and gross that a record must have been broken. Running upstairs to the shower, I warned my family that I would be gone for some time and reveled in scalding hot water for longer than is probably medically advised.

I slipped on a fresh pair of pjs and joined my husband in the basement for some post-New Year’s TV and wine.

He asked me how my pajama day went, and I cried a little. It’s hard, I whimpered. I don’t know how people do it.

All I know is that I can’t. Not ever; not again.


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