Saturday, December 31, 2011


Holy moley - where did this year go?  I have been rolling around in my head whether I wanted to do a "wrap up" post as so many others seem to do...but then I had to accept that it was the end of the year and I feel like I'm somewhere back in September or so. 

Someone somewhere posted something (nothing like being definite in my descriptors!) that I decided to emulate:

Five things of note from 2011:
1.  Surviving 95 days of single parenthood while my husband was at Hazelden, and starting my own recovery program (hurray for any progress toward serenity!).  Honestly, this was really the overarching theme of the year, so I could stop here, but for form's sake anyway...

2.  My parents had their 50th wedding anniversary and we dragged them kicking and screaming into a that they enjoyed (as did we all) tremendously.  Kudos to me and my siblings in pulling that off so well.  I said to my mother (only about 10% jokingly) that I thought after 50 years, she ought to be allowed to walk away and call it good...I can't imagine living 24/7 with my dad...but she just smiled and assumed I was joking.

3.  We adopted a dog from the animal shelter, about a year after I had to put down my beloved white boxer Ande.  Lucky is cute as a button but an ADD terrier mix has been a struggle at times, though he has definitely wriggled his little self into my heart.

4.  Sean and I graduated to a king sized bed.  Oh what glorious relief!  It makes me laugh that in my college days, it was nothing to share a single bed...

5.  I started a blog - as a means of unloading all the stuff floating around in my head - and have had an immensely positive internal reaction to it, as well as enjoying the new community of writers I found!

And five things I hope for in 2012 (and as I write these, I am smiling to see what little I really need for the hoped-for happiness!):

1.  I wish for continued recovery for myself and, I hope, for my husband.  And I really hope that my participation in Al anon continues to feed my soul as it has in the past six months.

2. I wish for continued health for myself and my loved ones.

3.  I wish to take a trip to Memphis with my sister and our kids to pay our respects to my uncle, who passed away a few days ago, and to hug our cousins, his children. 

4.  I hope for progress in my ultimate goal for better health - I refuse to make any sweeping resolutions or promises to myself, but would like to look back in a year and see that I took some step in that direction.

5.  World Peace - starting with peace in this election year.  I dread election years...

There you have it world...thank you 2011 and can't wait to get to know you 2012!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Just Wow...

Schmutzie has a Five Star Friday post every week.  The last two weeks I've read them all and I was pretty blown away by the topics and the different (but marvelous) writing styles.  And I loved that they were all just listed there for me to check out!  So, if your New Years Eve plans are quiet (like mine), head on over and check out Five Star Friday's offerings! 

Happy New Year everyone!


Thursday, December 29, 2011


Just a quick post today to say that I am flabbergasted and dumbfounded and not just a little stunned to see that my blog has had 1003 page views since I started on 12/2/11.  OK, probably a chunk of those are my own (at least I think it counts when I view my own blog), but holy cow!  I was writing to write, but it sure is nice to also be READ, so thank you all for that.

We're heading out for a couple days - not sure if I'll post anything new before the weekend, but if not, I'm sure I'll have a lot to say on Saturday! 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

1991 - a summer of change

In June 1991, I was 25 and had been married for about 2.5 years to my college boyfriend - my first real boyfriend actually.  And by real, I mean he was my first mutually-acknowledged boyfriend, who met the parents, etc.  I was miserable.  I had a job but it wasn't challenging me in the least, I had very few outside interests or friends, and I had a husband who didn't seem to like me or care about me much. 

In June that year, my in laws planned a lake cabin vacation and I went along for the week.  My husband only came for a few of the days and he was a complete jackass.  When we got home and I called from the inlaws house for him to come and get me (we were only about 30 minutes away), he left me hanging for hours before he made time in his (not)busy schedule to come over.  For some reason, this little chain of events was the last straw.  We didn't speak for the better part of the following week, and then I informed him that it was time for a divorce, I wanted the newer car and a couple other things but he could have the rest, and I would stay in the apartment until August, at which time I was moving and he could move back in and finish out the lease and keep the damage deposit.  I think he was dumbfounded but relieved.  And that was that.  He moved out that next weekend.  We sat at Perkins one night and filled out the divorce papers and filed them. 

I chopped off my long shaggy hair and noticed that I started wearing brighter colors and even jewelry.  I know I carried some resentments still, but it was so empowering to just recreate myself in whatever fashion I chose...

In late July or early August, I handed my letter of resignation in at work.  That was another sweet moment.  Because all the changes happening in those months were interconnected, I had actually held off telling anyone that I was divorcing my husband until just before I gave my notice at work - so it all kind of came in one big news flash - getting divorced, quitting my job, moving to Seattle.

And on Labor Day weekend, I loaded up my Toyota, with a futon mattress and a trunk full of stuff, and headed west for Seattle.  I was headed for my friends' home, where I'd been told I could stay as long as I wished, but I had no job prospects or really any idea what I was going to do...I'm sure I felt very apprehensive in many ways, but it was also like a big blank page of my life, just waiting to be written. 

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


I took this week off work, with no plans other than the kids being off school.  It was a weird day today, with the world going back to work while we just messed around with no agenda.  It's a good thing to be away from work - I have been feeling seriously burned out at my job for well over a year now.  I never intended or expected that my legal career would last longer than a decade...but I've now started year 13...while I am working in an area that is emotionally very difficult, it is also the area where I fit and I'm good at it.  As my husband pointed out to me some time ago, it's not an area for people who don't care about their work.  But at the same time, when I come home with no patience left for my family?  Most days it just doesn't feel worth it...

So it's nice to be off - with the holidays included, I will be off for something like 12 days.  I haven't given any thought to work since I left on Friday to be honest.  But will this be enough to charge me back up again?  I guess I won't really know until next Tuesday.  In the meantime, I'm going to wallow in hanging with my family. 

Monday, December 26, 2011

Learning to read - again...

My thanks to Mark for his post Music to My Eyes, which was the impetus (inspiration?) for this post.

I have read tens of thousands of books over the years.  I read really fast - always have.  I devour books.  A couple years ago, for the first time, someone invited me to join a book club - it was an informal group, mostly folks I work with or that used to work where I work.  About six of us normally participate.  And we talk about the book for maybe 15 minutes and then eat and chat and gossip for another two hours at a usual meeting.  It's lovely. 

I was really nervous about joining a book club - I have read my share of Oprah books (which I rarely have enjoyed) and often flip through the "book club questions" at the back and stare at them blankly - wondering what in the hell does THAT question mean?  But these work friends know me I figured whatever I said would at least entertain them. 

What I learned was that everyone reads a book so differently - I smash through, chasing the story as quickly as I can.  What happens next??? Another friend is always finding some philosophical or life lesson being taught to a character in the book or to us.  And my favorite bookclub friend is like Mark, savoring the words and phrasing.  And she can give, often, a clear cut example when she really likes something - actually point out how the author put something and why that spoke to her.  Wow!

I have also noticed this at Al anon meetings.  We read certain daily meditation books at meetings and I read them through - what does it say and what does it mean? - and then others skip back to certain phrases or sentences and talk about how that particularly set of words evoked some thought or feeling for them.  Much like life, eh?  Stop chasing the "what happens next" and smell the roses a bit?

I am learning, from all of these wonderful writers and readers in my life, to slow down a little.  Let the words wash over me a little (or at least try).  It's easier for me to do with the shorter meditation readings or blog posts.  Like most new concepts, breaking it down to a manageable scale usually works best.  Hard to believe that after all these years, a new layer of enjoyment in reading is available to me! 

Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Christmas Blessing

My wish for the world:  May you have the Spirit of Christmas, which is Peace, the Gladness of Christmas, which is Hope, and the Heart of Christmas, which is Love. 


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Another cup of coffee...

There are things to be done but for right now, I am enjoying the word "enough" and having another cup of coffee, reading the thoughts of my new acquaintances in blog-land, and marveling at the fact that my kids are playing with each other - there are no electronics involved in said play - and cleaning up their toy room (kind of) while they play.  It is a Christmas miracle! 

In a few minutes, I'll log off for the day, turn up the Christmas carols, wrap some presents and make some fudge before we set off for church and my family Christmas gathering, but at this moment I'm savoring this quiet bit of peace. 

Friday, December 23, 2011

I'm a copy cat - taking a run at the ABCs of my Christmas

Two of my blog friends have now posted their ABCs of Christmas, starting with Mark and followed by his sister Sebtown.  I am going to now take a spontaneous run at it myself, with a little help from my daughter:

A - My favoite hymn:  Angels We Have Heard on High.  And my #2 niece starts with an "A".
B - My baby girl #2 starts with a "B".  My family would not be the same without her! 
C - Christmas carols - my favorite kind of music (except this ear-bleeding nonsense put out by Justin Bieber - would someone please pull up that child's pants and send him back to high school! OK, now I made my daughter cry...I take it back honey!)
D - Decorations!
E - Echoes of Christmases past and ENJOY!
F - Fireplace with stockings and family time.
G - Gifts (my daughter gave me this one RIGHT OFF THE BAT!)
H - Helicopters (Daddy-O just chimed in helpfully with this...thanks honey) and the Hallelujah Chorus
I - Ice skating (and ice fishing, a major pasttime up here)
J - My baby girl #1 starts with a "J", as does my #1 niece...what a great letter of the alphabet.  Jesus and JOY TO THE WORLD!
K - Nephews #1 and #2 - who bring such joy to my world, whether I know what to buy them for Christmas or not.
L - LOVE and LOTS of it.  And lefse - yummmm!
M - The best MOM (yes my daughter actually said that...awwww!) and marshmallows in our cocoa and Merry Christmas!
N - The #4 niece starts with an "N" - a terrific joy to have around.  Nativity scenes.
O - O Christmas Tree and ornaments
P - Plate with cookies for Santa Claus and presents (that's the kid again!)
Q - questions (i.e. "can we open presents now?")
R - Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer and reading Christmas stories.
S - Santa and stockings and stars, and the fabulous #3 niece starts with an "S". Normally also snow, but so far not this year.
T - Tree and tinsel and three wise men.
U - Up on the Housetop and underwear (there's Daddy-O helping out again)
V - Velvet dresses and very excited children
W - Winter Wonderland (not so much this year - its very brown outside) and We Wish You a Merry Christmas
X - x-citement and x-cellent times with family and friends (and xylophone...)
Y - young at heart and Yule logs
Z - Zip up those coats! 

There you have it.  It occurred to me I should have had each of us offer a word for each letter.  DaddyO is particularly creative!  Ah well.  Enjoy your holidays everyone - hug your loved ones and remember to breathe.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Liebster Blog Award!

Thank you thank you thank you to Julia at Julia's Place for this lovely new award! 

This Liebster Blog award is for ‘up and coming blogs’, and if you accept the award, you are to forward it on to five other new, up and comers. I don't know what exactly that means but as I am still in my first month of blogging, I certainly am new!  And my followers so far include 1 real life friend and 7 new blog-friends, so that is amazing for just a few short weeks!  Thank you so much Julia!

I offer this award to the following and urge you to check them out (I tried to pick some of the blogs I follow that are under the "100+ comments" variety, as my definition of "up and coming"):

1.  Lynda at Lynda Grace an Hour Away has been blowing me away with her writing - it is beautifully done. 

2.  Nancy at Dating Dementia just makes me laugh...and I've got to give a shout out to my fellow upper Midwesterner! 

3.  Shannon at Shannon Lell is a new one I've recently discovered.  That girl speaks my language!

4.  Therese at The Unlost is brand new to me - literally - I just read through a post about all the bad advice she learned first from the Disney Princesses and later from MTV and Cosmopolitan, and it was awesome!  Gotta get back over there and read some more!
OK, all you're getting is four.  I really need to spend a little time talking to my kids...Thank you to everyone who reads my random thoughts and congrats to the new awardees!  Sarah

Christmas stuff, part 2

I started writing this as a comment to the last post, in response to other comments (and if anyone knows if it is possible to set my comment section to allow for replies to a particular comment, please let me know!), but it started getting longer and longer.  I realized I was having some new thoughts, sparked by the commentors (thank you!) and I might as well just write it as a new post...

First of all, I did make an edit to the last post to make clear that my relationship with my sister's three daughters is very personal and almost like having 3 more kids myself.  I love those girls with all my heart (they are 16, 11, and 7).  I likewise adore my brother's kids and talk to them every chance I get (we just had a lovely day over Thanksgiving weekend) but I leave those visits with no sense of who they are at all.  I ask them lots of questions, about school and their lives and their friends, etc., but find that every decision or opinion is screened by their mother - often right while I'm talking to them.  And it is hard to say that because in most ways I really like my sister in law and would gladly socialize with her anytime...

I also think this feeling hits a nerve for me because that is how I felt when I finally left home - like I had no sense at all of who I was and my only thoughts and opinions were those of my father (mostly), which I had been taught to parrot.  Mark is right about squeezing people into oddly-shaped packages...eventually you have to find your own ever-changing shape and doing so can be really hard and painful.  I would not wish that on anyone, much less my nieces and nephews. 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Christmas gift stuff...

I am heartbroken in facing this holiday gift season.  I really only buy gifts for my kids and my nieces and nephews.  The nieces and nephews range in age from 19 to 7.  Traditionally, there are wish lists, allowing me to shop and trying to find "just the thing" for each of them.  My sister and I are best friends, and her children are very close to me and my family - my nieces (ages 16, 11, and 7) and I have a great relationship.  However, my brother and his wife have maintained more distance between me and their kids.  We have divergent religious and political views and I think this really makes the relationship difficult for them (I have no trouble leaving those issues at the door when we are together and focusing on family and loving up their kids).  My sister in law is a control freak who prefers to buy the gifts for her kids and have us then purchase them from her.  I resist this, because it is way too impersonal.  This year, their youngest (13) gave us a catalog with certain items marked.  Shipping was ridiculously expensive so both my sister and I bought her similar items but not the identical things from the catalog - I am quite certain we will get the hairy eyeball from the sister in law for that.  The boys (19 and 14) gave us nothing for ideas.  I am sad to say they are getting cash this year from me.  I will not allow my sister in law to put my name on some gift I wouldn't recognize if she dropped it in my lap and just give the cash to her. 

While this irritates the heck out of me - I have my share of control issues - it also breaks my heart.  Why?  Because I don't know a damn thing about her children that would allow me even to buy a small token gift in which to put the cash - a book, a snack, a T-shirt...anything!  How can I have so much love in my heart for these children and know nothing about them?  Do they have personalities?  It won't be long and these kids will be out on their own and I'll be lucky to see them once a year...have I missed my chance to know them?  I thought I talked to them a lot when we are together and it is disheartening to find myself in this spot.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Can I write this without cursing?

I am extremely irritated right now.  Yes, I procrastinated with getting my daughter's patches on her Girl  Scouts tunic until tonight (meeting at 6p)...I had gotten over my huge attitude about having to sew on bloody patches and purchased fabric glue.  Opened the package tonight to find ***** iron-on patches.  I hate ironing almost as much as I hate sewing!  But I dutifully spent 20 minutes at it - flag patch, no problem.  Daisy center patch?  fine.  Troop numbers?  WOULD NOT IRON ON.  WOULD NOT IRON ON.  I was very very irritated.  Very.  Did I mention irritated? 

But I know how to trump pain in the ass problems like this - remember the first Indiana Jones movie, when the Arab guy is swinging his sword all over looking threatening and how Indiana dealt with him?  Indiana is me, the Arab guy is the stupid troop numbers.  You won't iron on?  FINE - then I will glue your ass to that tunic.

Back downstairs - fabric glue in one hand and troop numbers in the other.  Lined up on the tunic.  Read the fabric glue directions:

Score back of patch and add glue
Let sit 10 minutes
Affix to fabric - let dry 20 minutes
Using an ironing cloth, affix with dry iron for 45 seconds.

Oh yes, 30 minutes of drying time AND ironing.  For f.......Pete's sake!

There will be no troop numbers on the tunic tonight.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

What I Wanted to Say - Recovery Topic

I am a grateful member of Al Anon and having known nothing of the program or principles until July 2011, I am continually amazed at how applicable everything I learn is to my journey.  I am grateful to my husband's addiction, as wrong as that sounds, for re-setting me (and us) on a more positive path to self-discovery - if things had gone down differently this year, I would not be sitting here right now, happily blogging about my life and feeling optimistic and FREE...

Here is the reading I can't quite get out of my head - and think about this for your life, regardless of whether you have any connection at all with the disease of addiction - from Courage to Change, an Al Anon daily meditation publication:

I was convinced that I had to take care of everthing and everybody - I had no choice.  But with the help of Al Anon I have learned that, while I do have responsibilities, there are also many things I do not have to do:
I don't have to understand everything.  Some things are not my business, and others will simply never make sense to me.
I don't have to be reluctant to show my feelings.  When I am happy, I can give in to it!  When I'm not, I can turn to my Al Anon friends who help me to grow through the tough times.
I don't have to feel threatened by the future.  I can take life one day at a time.
I don't have to feel guilty about the past.  with the help of the Steps, especially Eight and Nine, I can make amends and learn from the mistakes I have made.
I don't have to feel alone.  I can go to a meeting, or pick up the phone - there is always somebody to reach out to in Al Anon.
I don't have to take responsibility for other people's choices.  They have their own Higher Power to help them make their decisions.
I don't have to give up on my hopes and dreams - my Higher Power is not limited by my lack of imagination.

That's from p. 351, the December 16th reading.  I love it.

What I wanted to say about this reading on Friday night at my meeting, but didn't, was that I can see that these very things - permissions to let go, if you will - have allowed me to look up from staring at my plodding feet, struggling just to push through from day to day, and really start again to enjoy the world around me.  I can see and feel the colors and light of the world now - after months (or years) in the tunnel.  Even my struggles with my career and the feeling of being burned out with what I do have lessened - not because the emotional toll of my job is necessarily any different these days, but I think because I am feeling relief from the strain of the ongoing power struggle within myself.  I was feeling so much joy at the meeting on Friday, that I think I felt embarrassed (see the one about allowing yourself to be happy when you are happy?  I can be happy, but it seems too unMinnesotanScandahoovianLutheran to actually point that out to others)

Saturday, December 17, 2011

I want to write, I really do...

It has been a busy day.  I went to bed last night wanting to write but not having the energy to string it together.  I woke up this morning wanting to write but my brain was aching due to dehydration from drinking only coffee yesterday, which thankfully resolved with 1 liter of water and some ibuprofen.  Then I had to clean out the minivan because my husband is ferrying a neighbor family to catch a train tonight and the van was too disgusting for this to happen.  Then we drove to a nearby larger town to attempt the finishing of the Christmas shopping.  Waited through 4-5 rotations of the stop lights to get into the packed parking lot at the mall, drove around and around to find a spot, then had to navigate through piles of shoppers only to pretty much strike out on everything I wanted to get.  Yuck!  The bright spot was that we drove on a bit after supper and got to watch my niece play basketball for my high school alma mater team (and my former coach) which is always a huge treat.  But late night getting back and the dog is going nuts with wanting to play, and I am usually asleep by 9p but am waiting up with my husband so he doesn't fall asleep and miss leaving at midnight to ferry the neighbors to the train...tomorrow the kids sing at both church services, I need to wrap gifts and we have a play date in the afternoon which I am really looking forward too.  Double Girl Scouts in 2 separate locations on Monday night, kids school programs on Tuesday night...and THEN perhaps I can just sit back and wait for my vacation to start on Friday!  All four of us home together for 10 days...who will be the first to cry 'uncle'?

With all this crap going on, no wonder I can't string enough thoughts together for a real post!  I'll try again in the morning.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Grief and Loss

I just read a couple posts by Lynda at and I wanted to pass the link along to anyone who is reading this.  If you have ever lived through, or ever will live through, grief and loss, I expect her words will speak to you as they did to me.  It sounds like Lynda is living through some awful times right now and yet she writes so beautifully...

If nothing else - take a read and leave her a comment, so that she knows she is surrounded by people who are experiencing her pain with her through her writing.

Please don't alert my neighbors...

I am extremely out of shape.  I have been wishing I would wake up one morning and find myself in a fit, toned body for most of my life.  At times in my life, I have been in significantly better shape and I really enjoyed it.  Since I got pregnant in 2002, which corresponded with sliding toward and then into my 40s, I have watched my body morph into a really soft, squishy plus-size, with bulges that truly offend me.  Sorry for the visual.  Despite this, I carry the dream of one day running a 5k - and by that I mean actually running the entire distance. 

We adopted a terrier mix 22 pound bundle of hyperactivity in May.  I have since had the job of walking the dog, who prefers to do his business during field trips, at least two times each day.  Only about 15 minutes usually - up and down the street.  I'm sad to say this is more exercise than I was getting for the past five years at least.  Last night, I decided to make it a run/walk - not caring that I was in non-athletic shoes and wearing my wool coat.  I set a very easy goal - run from one driveway to the next, then walk to the next, then run to the next, and so on.  Seriously, we're talking 4 blocks or so, so I was not aiming high.  And I did it.  And I did it again this morning.  We'll see where we go from here.

I decided today that the only reason this may be possible is that I my dog walking happens in the early morning and the later evening, and this time of year it is pitch black, so no-one can see me.  I hope.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

My Turn to "Award It Forward"

Earlier this week, Masked Mom tagged me with The Versatile Blogger Award (thank you again!).  The rules were that if you accept the award, you write a post listing 7 things about yourself, and then pass the award along to fifteen other bloggers...

I wrote my post here but I had no idea how to pass the award along to this the second half of my award acceptance which I will attempt to award some of the other blogs I have recently goes!

is being awarded to:

A very funny blogger at The Witty Biddy

A blogger who inspires me with ideas on the 100 Words challenges at Julia's Place

A very established blogger who makes me snort diet Coke out my nose on a regular basis at The Bloggess

An amazing blogger who writes about all kinds of stuff at Bringing Borya Home

Just another Jennifer blogger, who entertains me at anotherjennifer

A blogger/reader who makes me wish I had more time to read at The Intrepid Reader

OK folks, that's what I've got.  Suppose I need to shoot over now and tell them the big news eh?  Check out their blogs when you get the chance!

Crushes - Volume 1

Here's where it's going to get interesting folks.  A topic that has been high on my list has been to consider my list of crushes, in an attempt to see what patterns might be found.  I'm afraid this subject will take several volumes, however, so at the moment I'm trying to decide where to start...

Preview:  I have a very advanced and powerful imagination.  I find telling myself stories in my head to be often as entertaining as anything I could watch or read.  My personal favorite over the years has been the "docudrama".  I start with a real person and then spin a fantasy out of the little pieces of facts that come from that person.  I suspect the introduction of Harlequin romances, and the more graphic romance novels that followed, really skewed my version of romance reality...

OK, so I guess we start at the beginning...the very first crush I recall was Donny Osmond in my early elementary school years.  I bought the bubble gum cards and loved my purple socks.  Next came the tweener years...I loved Leif Garrett (honestly though it had more to do with his starring in a made for TV movie about the pony express, I think I loved the horse more) and The Fonz and John Travolta.  Junior High brought about all things sci-fi and Dirk Benedict from Battlestar Galactica was it for me.  I did NOT like baby faced boys generally (John Travolta obviously is an exception), so no Shaun Cassidy or Andy Gibb for me. 

In about 8th grade I must have decided to focus more on real people.  But I maintained the same distance.  I picked a guy a couple years older than me, memorized his name, address, birthdate, class schedule, and stared at him from afar.  All the while, running a film loop in my head of the moment he would notice me...starting with the first hello and moving quickly toward the married and happily ever after.  It didn't work out with John.  Don't suppose I ever even spoke a word to him. 

10th grade - new guy.  New film loop.  Same plot.  11th grade - new guy.  New film loop.  Mostly same plot but this time the crush became "known".  You know - you tell someone you 'like him like him' and then everyone knows but nothing happens?  Now this particular guy, also John ( that my pattern?), was the best looking guy in our school.  Tall, handsome, friendly, athletic...yep, I had good taste and had upgraded my leading man accordingly.  It was a small school, we were friends, and I was just a complete freakin' dork about him.  I have gotten to know John better in the years since high school...sidenote: he told me at our 10 year reunion that he "should have taken me to prom", so I consider him my retroactive junior prom date.  Good thing I had until the 10 year reunion to hear that news - if he had asked me to prom, when I was 16, I would likely have imploded. 

Then came senior year.  I showed up in August for pre-season volleyball and there was the senior year guy, on the gym stage.  I knew him - but he had grown several inches in height and added a huge layer of muscle over the summer.  Wow.Za.  I was done.  I took a further step during my crush year on NonJohn - he and I actually went out on a date!  No kissing or other physical stuff, and no second date, but hey, it was something.  It actually is a testament to how nice NonJohn was, even as a dumb teenage boy.  My friend and I had decided to ask 2 guys out on a double date.  She asked her guy the very next morning.  And she let everyone know what I was supposed to do.  I couldn't do it.  End of the school day, time to catch the bus, and NonJohn waited for me - after everyone in our 7th period class had left - and made small talk with me until I worked up the nerve to do what he knew I was trying to do.  Bless his handsome heart.  He asked me to dance at a school dance around that same time too...slow song, hot guy in his football jersey...ah memories.  NonJohn and I never went any further down the romance path.  We have remained in touch ever since high school and are friends to this day, but as I've gotten to know him over the years, I realize how incompatible we would have been as a couple.  Much the same as NonJohn and the others, all the way back to Donny Osmond...what is it with me picking guys for their looks and charm, instead of how our personalities match?

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Woo Hoo for an Award!

I was just kindly tagged with "The Versatile Blogger" award by Masked Mom.  The requirements of this amazing award are that I list 7 things about myself, and that I pass the award along to a bunch of others.  By a bunch, I mean probably a bigger number than I have on my "blogs I read" list but I'll give it a go. 

First things first:  here's my award!

Now here are my seven things:

1.  I haven't a clue what I'm doing with this blogging thing, besides my fingers chasing my stream of consciousness.  This post includes two firsts - my first attempt to "link" a blog or a post, and my first attempt to paste in an image.  I'm definitely learning as I go along.

2.  I have been in the midst of a "what do I want to be when I grow up - because it sure ain't THIS" crisis for about eighteen months now. 

3.  I dreamed of having something like Facebook for decades - where I could pop on, look up people that floated through my brain and see where they are and what they are doing, with no pressure whatsoever to insert myself into their life.  I love it.

4.  I am a very grateful person, and I have no trouble listing a hundred ways in which I am blessed every day of my life.  Which is saying something since I'm also a terrible pessimist who tries to hide by calling myself a realist.

5.  I swear like a sailor, and I enjoy it most of the time.  And count myself lucky that my kids have not followed suit...yet...

6.  In my dreams, I can sing like a Broadway star.  At best I am a solid chorus singer with a limited range, but when I am alone in my car, I have been known to pretend otherwise.

7.  I hope one day to spend 3-6 months a year in a house-with-a-view on the island side of Puget Sound. 

Thanks again Masked Mom for the award!  It brightened my day immensely.  I will do the awarding it forward tonight.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I am Oppositional...

Here's a big shocker everyone - I find myself to be quite oppositional.  The second someone tells me what I should/must/need to do, my knee-jerk reaction is "no way" (sometimes with expletives added in for good measure).  At the same time, however, I am not interested in being in charge or leading anything.  Oh I can and will if I must - but I don't want to...ever...

How do I moderate myself, so as to pass for a normal, easy going person to the world?  Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!  Ask anyone that knows me and you will find I don't pass at all.  I go to meetings and people just WAIT for me to pop off with something obnoxious.  Even when I am trying my best to behave, and not saying a word, invariably someone comments on hard I'm trying to stay in my "happy place".  Don't encourage me people!!!

It's funny, most of the time, and I have it pretty easy since those around me have learned to allow my outbursts and wait for the inevitable rational response.  And when I am not around my usual folks - and away from those who encourage me for their own entertainment - I have learned to breathe and count to 10 (or 612).  Not sure how good I am at masking myself, but at least the words remain in my head until I choose to share...

Monday, December 12, 2011


I come from immigrant stock.  When I was growing up in North Dakota, I was a rarity in my 6th grade class, when we talked about our ethnicity and I was not 100% anything, like most of my classmates.  I felt like a disfavored mutt since I was 50% Norwegian, 25% Swedish and 25% German.  The earliest of my ancestors arrived in the United States before 1870, the latest (my paternal grandfather) in the 1920s.  Naive me?  I thought all midwesterners were likely to have similar backgrounds...

Last Christmas, my inlaws were visiting and I asked some questions of them about their ancestry.  The vague and unclear answers set my head spinning - how can someone not know?  It inspired me to join an internet genealogy site (am I allowed to identify the popular site? not sure of the rules on that so will let it be), and in my arrogance, I assumed I'd have my husband's lineage figured out in no time. 

Imagine my surprise when I traced that lineage, from both his mother's and father's side, back and back and back.  Finding veterans from all the 20th century wars, then the Civil War, then the War of 1812, and then the Revolutionary War!  There are ancestors who fought on both sides of Civil War and probably the Revolutionary War too - as there were many British immigrants back there with military titles.  There were Quakers and I think Pennsylvania Dutch folk from Lancaster PA.  I suspect there are connections to the original Mayflower settlers but I haven't gotten there yet.  Clearly, now a year later, I am still chasing some loose ends - it's a quest now! 

Of interest:
  • Where I am entirely Northern European, it really appears that Sean is mostly of Great Britain heritage (including all four countries - England, Wales, Ireland and Scotland) with a dose of German thrown in. 
  • By the time my ancestors started arriving in the U.S. (earliest in 1870 or 1871), Sean's entire ancestry was in the U.S. (latest immigrant came in 1871).  
These discoveries have been amazing to me.  I have been trying to figure out why it has been quite so amazing to me, and I think it is just the concept of really being attached (through my husband and children) to American history that didn't really ever touch my family before since we weren't here to be part of that history.  It's like a shift to what I always attached my personal concept of "family history" that takes a little getting used to.  Thomas Edison is in my husband's family tree (not direct lineage) for pete's sake - how do you just hear that without having a moment to say "wha???"  It is fascinating, nonetheless, and I'm so glad to have done what I've done so far!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Daily check in

I wanted to post something every day for a while, to establish a pattern or habit for myself, and also to keep anyone that is interested in reading this blog with fresh reading materials. 

So let's recap what's been going on since I started.  I've been a blogger now for a week.  Just having a blog and writing stuff - does that make me a blogger?  Do I have to have a "mission statement"?  Is my blog format too boring?  Would it be better if I added in a photo or two or six?  Yes, I am well into the 'way more questions than answers' phase! 

For now, I plan to keep writing and I'm not planning much else.  I feel horribly insecure about things - what I'm writing and who is reading it.  I do not want to hurt anyone's feelings at all - I'm trying hard just to relate things as I recall them and note the feelings I felt then and/or now about them, so I'm not spending an enormous amount of energy on editing myself.  I hope if/when the day comes that something I blabbed about is problematic for someone else, it resolves itself without any resentments. 

With that, it's been a long day and I'm reading to watch the finale of The Amazing Race.  To be continued...

Friday, December 9, 2011

Recovery Topic Day

Yep, it's another weekly somethingorother.  Right now, I think I'll just try to say something about a recovery topic once a week, but not on any particular day...

TOPIC:  "Let Go, Let God"
I have pondered this slogan for years - long before I knew it had anything to do with addiction or recovery.  I have many friends who use this phrase in passing, and I have often wondered what that meant to them.  What do you DO when you "let go and let God?"  Keep in mind, I am using "God" as they use it in AA and Al Anon - as shorthand for my Higher Power.  The "God" of my youth and religious training is not nearly broad and all-encompassing as my comprehension of Higher Power, but it's still easy shorthand for me to use the title God.  As a side note, however, I absolutely love when one of the daily readings that we discuss at meetings refers to God as "she"...invariably, the person reading stumbles over that.  I smile, not at the reader's stumble, but at the writers little thump on our heads not to be restrictive in our comprehension of anyone else's version of a Higher Power.  Anyway, the folks I heard use "let go and let God" always seemed to me to be sitting on their butts waiting for something to happen for them.  I used to rant at my husband "so when is God going to pay our bills and ferry the kids to daycare?" if I should decide to "let go" myself? 

Fast forward to last June.  I learned one Friday afternoon that my husband had relapsed and needed to go to detox or a hospital or treatment that day.  Now.  About six hours later, my children in the care of my sister, and my husband sitting the hospital awaiting the physical start of his detox hell, I was shaking my head in shock and shaking inside over the decisions and situations that were all on my shoulders.  When I called my mother, almost her first words to me were to remind me that the last time I lived through this with Sean, six years earlier, I had said "never again" and she wanted to know if I was going to stand by my words.  I did not expect that reaction from my mother.  A lot had changed over six years and I was in no position to make that decision. 

Fast forward to 30 days later.  I had just started the recovery process for myself.  But one of the very first things I learned, and embraced, was that I could let things go and stop worrying about them, if it wasn't something I had to face that day (a mix of "let go and let God" and "one day at a time").  Whenever I would start to spin about what was going to happen to my marriage, I just stopped myself and said "I don't have to decide this today."  Fast forward to another 30 days later.  My husband was still in residential treatment and I still didn't have to decide how I felt about my marriage or about him coming home.  I had another 30 days before that was going to become reality.  Another 30 days went by, and I went for his "exit interview" with his counselor about five days before his release.  Without even really realizing it, I was so ready for him to come home.  He was embracing change and was committed to me and to the kids.  It was a no-brainer by that time.

Fast forward to today.  I have a little over six months of recovery work under my belt.  A lifetime journey to go.  But what I believe this slogan means for my life is exactly what happened with the issue of my decisions about our marriage.  I let it go and when it was finally time for decisions to be made, the path was clear and it was easy.  Somewhere I read that when you ask your higher power for strength, you don't get handed strength but you get handed the opportunity to be strong.   I don't believe you get the "let go" of your bills or other obligations, because God isn't going to write checks or drive your kids to dance practice, but very likely you will find the strength to get through it if you take a deep breath and let go of whatever resentments or insecurities or fears that are holding you back...

And so we go - one day at a time.

When life really changed

I had a very best friend in elementary school.  From fourth grade on, we were inseparable at school and shared a love of horses and Charlie's Angels.  She even had a horse, so in the summers, I got to go along to her uncle's farm and ride and take care of horses.  I took pride in the fact that our sixth grade teacher had to separate us because we talked too much.  It was fabulous.

We started 7th grade and everything changed.  She wasn't my friend any more.  If I sat by her, she would walk away with her new friends or her new boyfriend.  There was no explanation.  I can't remember what , if anything, happened the summer leading up to 7th grade - if we had just been out of touch or if something had happened - but the school year was a painful experience.  The girl who had the locker next to me also started slamming hers open, blocking mine, and being a real pain.  I don't know why - she wasn't the nicest girl but we had actually had sleepovers in years past.  I responded poorly to these things - particularly by 7th grade standards.  I'm sure I was supposed to cry and beg to be reinstated to the pack, but instead I got a different locker - away from everyone else.  I isolated - hiding out in the library during break time and not even attempting to sit with anyone at lunch.  And I got weirder and weirder.  Keep in mind I was a year younger than most of the kids in my grade - having started school at age 4 with a November birthday.  So at the start of 7th grade, hormones had likely kicked in for everyone else but I was only 11 - perhaps that was a contributing factor.  But I also started refusing to shower and comb my hair, and I know that I said and did other weird things, probably all in a defensive response to hide how much I was hurt.  It was awful.

By 8th grade, I had gravitated toward the other misfit kids.  I had a new best friend who was so bitter and angry at the "popular crowd" that it made me uncomfortable even then.  She still carries that resentment with her to this day.  But I had already firmly affixed the "kick me" sticker to my back and I was the target of lots of bullying, even by kids two or more years older than us.  It was awful but I never let them see me upset and I never fought back, oddly enough.  I take a small amount of pride in that.  But I didn't want to be involved in anything.  I hid in my room at home and rarely left the house.  Instead, I read hundreds of books and fabricated thousands of stories to entertain myself. 

In 9th grade, it was decided that my family was moving out of state.  My dad had taken a stab at self-employment which failed and I'm sure home life was stressful for financial and other adult reasons, but I have to admit I was self-absorbed enough that I had no idea.  I met a boy from another town that fall, when I was at an out of town football game with friends.  He was a sophomore.  I remember he wrote me at least one letter (classic memory of my 6'5" brother holding it over my head and teasing that "someone got a letter from a booooyyy!" I probably punched him in the stomach...).  When our girls basketball team played in his town, he came to my 9th grade game and then sat with me during the older kids' games.  It was horribly embarrassing to me.  Then in November there was a girls basketball tournament for the varsity teams in our town over a weekend.  He came and actually put his hand on my knee at the game and tried to hold my hand.  I was horrified!  Poor guy.  I hid from him after that for the rest of the tournament.  Maturity in relationships has clearly never been my forte. 

In any event, we moved to Minnesota in November of my 9th grade year.  I was thrilled to be leaving, even as I was scared about it.  My poor isolated self didn't know what to do in my new school.  At 5'10", the basketball coach immediately approached me - I probably growled at him.  Remember Ally Sheedy's character in The Breakfast Club?  I might not have looked like her, but I felt inside like she looked - just wanting to crawl into my turtleneck sweater and hide.  The rest of 9th grade was a bit of a dark blur.  I wasn't happy but I wasn't being teased and tortured either, so maybe hope was starting to rise in me that life could be better.  I worked at the nursing home that next summer, so I was out of the house and keeping busy. 

By the time 10th grade started, I knew I wanted a different life than this isolated, depressed hole I was in.  I spent the first couple weeks of school thinking about what I wanted instead, and at one point I decided to make a move.  This really friendly, bubbly girl rode my school bus.  I often saved her a seat, since she was in my grade.  Friendly, social and bubbly was not anything even remotely familiar to me - at least not in the last three years - and maybe that's drew me day on the bus I asked her if I could hang out with her and her friends that day.  She said "sure!" and she meant it.  That was a life changing moment.  Looking at it from this distance, it brings tears to my eyes.  That I had the courage to say those words, and that the right person was there to hear me say them...(since I know you are reading this, a side note shout-out: I am blessed to know you my dear friend and I hope you know how grateful I am to the 16 year old you for being so kind to the 15 year old me). 

I have been thinking of this blog as another step in my series of personal growth periods - the times when I consciously took a big step or a big turn in my life, knowing that nothing would ever be the same.  I initially thought that there had probably been three or four of those periods - and I've credited most of the iniative for personal growth to outside influences.  But the more I write about various events in my life, I see so many conscious decisions I took along the way, based solely on my own desire to find a happier way to live.  I can't tell you how empowering it feels to say that out loud.     

Thursday, December 8, 2011

How I Met and Married My Husband

Have you ever had the experience of being, as my sister likes to say, one of the last pieces of bread in the bag and everyone wants to make a sandwich out of you?  That is to say, one of the last single people known and everyone tries to match you up with their friend, uncle, cousin, brother, co-worker, etc.?  My experience with that while it was very common for people to SAY they were going to fix me up, it was usually b.s. and no-one ever did.  So by the time I was in the late 30s, I would smile and say "wow, he sounds great!  I'd love to meet him!" (my true friends would have been tipped off the sarcasm immediately, but my true friend were not the ones trying to match me up).  No-one ever called me on it and life went on.

One June, I was at a training with a friend and lawyer colleague and she started telling me all about this great guy she knew and how we'd be perfect for each other, blah blah blah.  I smiled and nodded, and that was the end of that.  In December, we happened to be at another training and she recalled our conversation about her friend, and she reiterated that she wanted us to meet.  Sure, uh huh...  Well, within a couple days she called me to say that she had just been at a Christmas party with Sean and he would love to meet me and how about Friday?  Much deep breathing ensued on my part. I agreed but my only requirement was that she and her husband join us, because I had a sorry history of being really mean (at least in my head) to blind dates and I didn't want to be mean to her friend, so I hoped having them along would keep my inner bitch at bay.

We went to dinner and went bowling.  My friend's husband was sick but they were troopers and didn't ditch us.  I was hoping bowling would involve beer, but alas it was an open midnight bowling thing for all ages, so no liquor available unless you went into the (then very smoky) bar.  So we survived it sober.  I kicked Sean's butt bowling and he was gracious about it. 

I panicked at the end of the evening, thinking he was going to ask for my number.  He did and I gave it to him.  I hyperventilated all the way home because I was quite certain he liked me a lot and it made me want to run away.  This date was right before Christmas, so he said he'd call when he got back to town after the holiday.  He did call.  We talked for hours.  He called again and again we talked for hours.  I stopped by to see him at work, conveniently with my sister in tow to check him out.  Always a big smile and a twinkle in his eye for me.  We saw a movie that next week, as I recall.

A couple weeks of this and he did the unthinkable...he called and said he was driving over to the town where I worked on his day off and wanted to take me to lunch!!!  I was furious - how dare he do such a thing!  Seriously, that is where my brain went.  I dragged him to my house for lunch and blamed it on the fact that I wasn't feeling well.  Made him a turkey sandwich and ushered him right back out of town.  And yet he called again and continued to want to see me. 

A couple more weeks went by and I continued to talk to him and see him and go out with him, and yet I still told my friend I wasn't sure if I liked him.  She wisely said "are you listening to yourself?  you just talked about him straight for 20 minutes and it sure sounds like you like him!"  Duh.  I started turning the corner then - admitting that perhaps I had myself a boyfriend and perhaps I was OK with that.

The end of the struggle came the week of Valentine's Day.  We had dinner plans for his night off a couple days before Valentine's Day.  I got call that morning at work, though, that my best friend from high school and college was flying home that day because her husband's (also one of my best friends) father had suddenly passed away.  Visitation was that night, funeral the next day.  I left Sean a very disconnected voice mail that I had to cancel our plans that night because of this and I'd have to get back to him in a couple days about when we could re-schedule or something.  He called back right away to hear what was going on and was very understanding that I needed to go be with my friends, and I was rambling away, and then he says "what time are you coming over?" I asked what he was talking about and he said "well, you want me to go along and give you a ride, don't you?"  I was stunned.  He did come along (it was about an hour away), he sat at the visitation with all these people he didn't know and talked and visited and looked after me, with no complaint and no visible impatience or irritation.  It was amazing and that was the night I knew he was "the one". 

The side story that goes with that is the death of my aunt's husband about a year before I met Sean.  My aunt married this husband in my adulthood, so I never really felt like he was my "uncle" but he was a good guy and they were clearly crazy about each other.  He died in his sleep at 55, after about ten years of marriage.  It was just so sad.  I sat at the funeral between my big brother and my dad - being the only single one in the family at that time.  I was crying, and I was struck by the fact that neither of them so much as patted my knee, much less put an arm around me.  That day I added a requirement to my "future husband must haves..." - must be willing to provide public emotional support to me at funerals.  You can imagine the sound of the check mark being placed on that requirement for Sean rang loud and clear in my ears the following year!

Life moved pretty quickly once my internal struggle ended.  By Easter we had set a wedding date in October, our first daughter was born on our six month anniversary, and the second one before our second anniversary.  We just passed our ninth anniversary and while I may not always be thrilled with the responsibilities and difficulties of living with another adult and parenting two kids, the more I know about myself, the more I know that Sean is the guy suited to share this journey with me.

There is a quote, perhaps from Sleepless in Seattle? that goes something like:  there is no such thing as soul mates, it is just two complementary neuroses recognizing each other...I'm not a big believer in things like love at first sight or soul mates or any of that, but I do think that Sean and I are very alike but we also have some very complementary strengths and weaknesses that will serve us well along the way.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

My tattoo

If I haven't mentioned this before, I am 46 years old.  I got a tattoo this summer - I often say I got my first tattoo, because I fully expect to get another.  It is a Celtic cross on my left inner forearm.  Very visble and about 2" x 3".  I love it. 

I get lots of looks for my tattoo, and once I convinced people that it was real (I had the henna believers after me for weeks!), it has been interesting to hear why people think I got the tattoo I got.  Here's the real story.

I have always wanted a tattoo - well, for 20 years anyway.  But I wanted a tattoo that meant something to me, at a time that meant something to me.  Hadn't thought about it for years until last summer, when my husband was away at treatment and I was single-parenting and starting my own recovery program with Al Anon.  I was driving home one day and had the idea pop into my head "I need to get a tattoo."  This was the time I needed to mark and to have a forever reminder of this turning point in my/our life.  Hmmm...I thought, entertaining this idea...but where would I put a tattoo?  My requirements were this:  I need a spot that I can see it myself, without a mirror, and a spot that is not lumpy or mushy, which is hard to find on my body these days.  I was driving, and happened to focus just for a split second on my left arm, which was on the wheel - and there it was!  The spot!  Skin still smooth and firm, perfectly visible yet cover-able.  Hmmm...I thought, entertaining this location idea...but what would I get?  I kid you not, within a minute, I recalled my love of Celtic crosses...I went home and googled "celtic cross tattoos" and had a perfect image of what I wanted within 24 hours.  And it turned out great.

"But what does it MEAN?" everyone says (except, surprisingly, my mother, who only wondered if it hurt!).  Many believe it is a testament to my faith.  Honestly, I just think Celtic crosses are gorgeous.  When I visited Scotland years ago, I took dozens of photos of the crosses I saw.  I also bought a cross necklace when I was there and I wore it all the time for more than a decade, but lost it a couple years ago.  Had never found another one that was just the thing...but now I did and put it on my body forever.  I also kind of admire the Celts.  I read that they had this fertility symbol that was generally a decorated phallus - a post with a circular piece on top.  The Christians came in to convert the  Celts and wanted all the pagan symbols to go, so the Celts put a cross behind the circular piece to appease the Christians, and voila!  the first Celtic cross.  So really, agnostic that I am, it is also a symbol of how one religion just melds, historically, into another as needed...that story also feeds my oppositional nature.

My tattoo reminds me of the commitment I made this summer to change my life for the better.  The trinity knot is included in the Celtic knotwork within the cross and that certainly has a connection to the Al Anon program too, so the "change for the better" reminder includes a reference to my recovery. 

The next tattoo is going on my right foot - ideas still percolating but I think this one will have color...

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

I miss...

I miss my grandmother.  I was lucky enough to still have four grandparents alive when I was born.  Unfortunately one grandpa died when I was five and I have little to no memory of him, but the rest stuck around until I was an adult.  I miss them all, but in particularly I miss my Grandma Helen.  She lived to be nearly 95, living alone and kicking our butts at Scrabble almost until the end.  I always thought she was this really proper lady - until I was in my 20s and first saw photos of her from her teenage years, shooting a gun, taking joyrides in the family car, camping...She and her sisters, there were four of them all together, were just awesome old women.  We went to a family reunion in Missouri in 1995 with three of them, when they would have been in their 80s, and they hopped in a raft to go down the river with the rest of us.  1995 being the year of the absolutely hellish weather - hot and humid and drought all across the midwest, with animals dropping over dead from heat exhaustion in their pastures.  I had to hop out and haul the rafts over sandbars about every 5 minutes all the way.  No water, no shade, and it took a LONG time.  And those old gals just enjoyed the hell out of themselves with no complaints.  I loved those women!  What a great legacy of living life.

I also miss my white boxer Ande.  She had a pituitary brain tumor which led to a lot of physical problems, and we nursed her through her "hospice" stage for a couple years before I had to have her put down in 2010.  I knew it was time (congestive heart failure had set in and she couldn't breathe) and she and I did it together, but I am tearing up at the thought of it, and have regrets that I didn't pet her long enough or say enough gentle words to her before the end...I can only imagine how folks who live through the passing of a loved human family member forever wish they just had one more minute to say one more thing to their loved one.  I am fortunate enough to have not experienced that yet with a human family member.

Monday, December 5, 2011

What I'm Reading...

In the past week or so, I have read:

Two books by Marjorie M. Liu, both from the Dirk & Steele Series.  Book #1 was Tiger Eye - a nook freebie and, being the sucker for sequels, Book #2 was Shadow Touch.  I have a friend who laughed out loud when she heard that I read paranormal romance books.  Considering my history of romance novel reading, this does not surprise me, but perhaps if you only knew me at work, this would seem a bit out of my usual mode.  In any event, these books are OK - pretty easy to figure out who will be paired up with whom, and I have to say the paranormal piece (some of the characters are shapeshifters) took a decidedly disturbing turn in Tiger Eye.   But for my escapism purposes, not a bad read, and I already have Book #3 of the series in the hopper.

Happy Accidents by Jane Lynch.  I love Jane Lynch in Best in Show and A Mighty Wind.  And I watch Glee regularly, but often fast forward through all the dialogue just to get to the music, because the hatefulness particularly of Jane's character (Sue Sylvester) is painful for me to sit through.  I don't understand why people think that calling names and just being overbearingly mean and spiteful is funny...or that somehow because she is such a cartoon character, it somehow makes it OK.  But all that said, I enjoyed this book and getting to know Jane. 

Texas Justice by Judith Groudine Finkel.  This was another freebie or cheapie from nook.  Now granted, being a lawyer, maybe I'm a little sensitive to legal stories that just seem too far out there, but this one was really way way out there in the "the evil system is out to get my kid" and - even worse - it was entirely predictable.  If I weren't so stubborn about finishing books I've started, this one would have been archived about halfway through.

I just started The Scottish Prisoner by Diana Gabaldon.  I absolutely adore her Outlander series.  I have also read several of her books in the related Lord John Grey series, but I find the English side of her characters way boring compared to the Scots.  So I'm anxious for this book to spend more time with Jamie and less time with Lord John!  Only just started, so we'll see. 

Happy reading!  Recommendations gladly accepted!

Sunday, December 4, 2011

My weekly something or other...

I like when blogs have a weekly something or other - particularly on Mondays when it's kind of hard to get started and I flip through the blogs on my favorites list and know that there will at least be something there on Monday...

I have loved to read all my life.  My mom says it started by age 4.  I would rather read than do much of anything.  So my Monday "thing" is going to be a review of what I read in the past week and what I thought of what I read. There's your preview of posts to come!  I just noticed that I have a bad habit of starting nearly every written sentence with "so"...I wonder if I do that in my speech too?  Anyway...

Speaking of reading, I have a nook.  I have a nook because I love Barnes & Noble.  If Barnes & Noble had existed when I was a kid - or at least existed in my vicinity - I would have gotten a job there and never looked back.  I used to be just giddy in the B.Dalton bookstores in shopping malls back in the day - I can't even imagine if I had been taken to something bigger and better than that.  In any event, I love the feel of books and holding books and flipping pages.  But I love that when I read something that turns out to be STUPID, I can just archive it and make it go away...I'm not stuck with hard copy proof of the experience.  And I love having multiple books at my fingertips at all times. 

See you tomorrow for the Monday "What I've Been Reading" post!  I can't wait!

Strange coincidences

I am a happy and grateful member of Al Anon.  What strikes me frequently when I read the literature or go to meetings is how - just when I am thinking about some particular issue or worry about some particular thing, the topic of the reading or meeting will just hit it right on the head...I woke up to this "daily reminder" in my inbox and knew I have headed myself in the right direction:

Our silence can keep us isolated.

"Still waters run deep" may be true for lakes and rivers, but in intimate relationships it is not necessarily true. Our silence can keep us isolated from ourselves and from those we love. In order to grow together, we must let each other know how we think and feel. Sometimes just saying a thought or feeling helps us see beyond it.

If we keep our thoughts to ourselves, we may get so immersed in those still waters that we nearly drown in them. A problem kept to ourselves usually grows bigger and more consuming. When we talk about it, we can work through it and move on to something else.

Choose, one concern, small or large, and express it to your partner.
You are reading from the book:

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Reward - some good ol' Seattle nostagia talk!

I am thrilled to report I am back home from work with MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!  Therefore, I am going to reward myself with a recap of the wallowing I was doing of my Seattle memories for a couple weeks recently.

I dumped a husband, a job, and about 12 inches of hair, and pointed my Toyota west on Labor Day weekend 1991.  I lived in 4 different places in 5 years, had yellow blonde hair (initially by accident and then on purpose) for 3 of those years, and learned a lot about rock music - like that the "in" folks didn't call it grunge for one thing.  As a lifelong flannel lover - I fit right in! 

The day I drove over the pass and headed toward Lake Washington, I was overcome with the feeling that I was home.  I had never laid eyes on Seattle before, so I had no idea where this feeling came from but I continued to feel that way the whole time I lived there.  Sometimes, when I fly in to visit and see the Sound or Mount Rainier for the first time, I still feel that tug.  If there is anything to the belief in past lives or reincarnation, I am quite certain I must have had a prior tie to the Pacific Northwest.

I went through many phases when I lived in Seattle.  First was just kind of proper and professional.  Then bright and shiny objects started to catch my eye and I started accessorizing big time.  The peak of this phase even had me in fake fingernails which was quite a game changer since I am a lifetime nail biter and am very hard on my hands as evidence by all the scars and dings.  Remember Man Hands on Seinfeld? Yeah, something like that.  I wore bright clothes and short skirts and high heels.  And then I got tired of all that and let the blonde hair speak for me and went back to way more casual dress and dumped the accessories. 

One of my favorite memories of Seattle was a place called the ReBar.  My roommate at the time took me there for the first time and it was very much an "anything goes" bar with great dance music and good beer including my all time fave Widmer Hefeweizen.  Much of the bar staff were cross dressers and while that was very offputting for my brother in law when he visited, I loved how having any and all people welcome (except the close minded) made it so much more relaxed and fun.  Dance with whom you like and just enjoy it. And great people watching!  I loved every night at the ReBar and am grateful to have had such cool friends to experience it with. 

I never liked gardening or really even the outdoors that much in the midwest - bugs and 100 degrees and humidity kind of puts a damper on the enjoyment of digging in the dirt.  Seattle was awesome!  No bugs (except fleas, to which I am allergic, but which can be avoided by wearing crew length socks when gardening because they can't jump any higher than that) and rarely temps over 80.  And everything grows!  It was glorious and outstanding.

My friends were very into music.  In the late 80s and early 90s, every guy you ever met was in a band.  My roommate's boyfriend went to high school with Mike McCready from Pearl Jam and I dated a guy once who was in a band called Rototiller.  My friend and I went to hear Rototiller once - her comment was "it sounds like 3 guys playing 3 different songs".  I don't remember what they sounded like - I just thought the whole "I'm dating a guy in the band" experience was a trip!  Once, my roommate dated a guy, and a guy friend of mine and I went along on a double "date" with them.  My guy friend almost started a fight with the other guy over the other guy's claim that Bon Jovi was as good a band as ... and the comparison band escapes me.  Probably The Who or something.  Never saw my friend as mad as he was that night.  But I can't hear Welcome to the Jungle without hearing my roommate and my guy friend slaughter Axl's wailing while driving around Seattle. 

I learned a lot about myself in Seattle.  I learned to let go of people who had let go of me.  I learned that I was perfectly OK by myself and, in fact, often enjoyed being alone.  I learned so much about diversity and how much I love hearing stories about people's lives.  Most of all I learned to be true to myself - no more putting on one persona for some people and another for others.  I am so grateful to the people I met during my five years in Seattle.  I am grateful that I had the opportunity to go and do what I did.  I am grateful that I didn't get pregnant during my first marriage, so I was free to go. 

There will be day I'm sure I'll learn to post photos with my posts and can show off some of my "looks" during the Seattle years.  The culmination of my Seattle wallowing came last weekend when I found myself watching the documentary Pearl Jam 20.  When I heard Chris Cornell and Eddie Vedder singing together on a Temple of the Dog clip, I just about came out of my chair - I hadn't heard those songs in years and years.  Must find that CD...

And now I'm going to read a book - The Scottish Prisoner by Diana Gabaldon.  Point of interest:  My two all time favorite series are the Outlander series by Diana G and Harry Potter...


It is Saturday morning and I just finished a toasted bagel with peanut butter and am nearly done with my first cup of coffee, and I am trying to face the reality that I have to go to work today. I have a brief due next week and I missed my window to get it done. I had 2-3 free days before Thanksgiving and planned to do it, but blew it off. This week was too hectic so I knew it wasn't going to happen. And now I am under the gun and starting to panic that I counted days wrong and it's going to be late...I hate hate hate being a procrastinator!
I am fundamentally lazy - I always have been. There is no perfection in my life, just enough to "get by". I graduated 13th out of 87 kids in my high school class. But I had an A- average and never brought any homework home ever. I rarely "studied" in college and skated through with honors and a 3.48 gpa. I didn't go on to the graduate school program I intended to, when I didn't get in to the only program I applied to, and instead married my boyfriend for no good reason other than I adored his parents. Three years later when that ended, I moved away and spent the next five years "finding myself" (the Seattle years, which will follow soon I'm sure) before starting law school. And holy hannah was law school a rude awakening for the person who had cruised through all previous schooling before. I bombed my first year before kind of getting the hang of it and while I did much better the second two years, my gpa was screwed. But even so, while others worked hard to get that A- to an A+, or to do whatever needed to get on the c.v. to make it to grad school, or stayed up an extra couple hours to polish that legal argument up another 5%, I just went to bed instead - perfectly satisfied with "good enough". I can't recall a time where I actually pushed myself, at least not without a coach or some other authority figure individually compelling me. And yet anyone looking at me on paper would say I'm very successful and clearly driven to excel.
Procrastination is certainly a team player with "good enough". I have all kinds of things I can imagine for myself that I would love to see in my future. But each begins with some effort now that I don't seem to do. I can imagine how to begin my quest for any of those goals, and I believe I have the time, resources, and ability to reach those goals, and yet the years go by and here I am - no closer and perhaps further away since I'm another day/month/year older...examples? I would love to run a 5k before I die. While I realize I am likely a long long way from dying, so I should have plenty of time, it would surely be easier to do this in my 40s than my 70s. Part of running a 5k, or at least a contributing factor, would be for me to also lose weight - which is also a goal of its own. I am so tired of trying to find tall clothes in women's sizes (the rant will come about why the clothing manufacturers can fully accept a short woman in women's sizes and accommodate her with petites, but won't accept that a women with a 34" or more inseam also wears a women's size is out of the question). I would like to organize my house, I would like to cook healthier meals for my kids, I would like to send birthday cards to my friends and family on get the general gist.
On a side note, is that I can already feel my thoughts organizing themselves - as I hoped they would - with these posts. It might not read like that to you, but with this outlet, I am finding that the sort of random thoughts are falling this way, and my other writing project topics are filtering themselves out accordingly. What a relief from the jumble!

Friday, December 2, 2011

Things that make me cry...

I just started writing a list of things that I might want to write about in future posts. My goodness, who knew? And of course I want to talk about them NOW.

I'm sort of fascinated by the things that make me cry. And by the things that don't make me cry. I was raised in a somewhat ... restrained ... home - strong emotions were not encouraged. If you were too happy, you should restrain yourself because that other shoe would soon drop. If you were too down, you should just get over it. You get the picture. I'm sure this had some longlasting effect on me (duh!).

I have often said that I never or rarely cry. I was going to write this post about how weird that is. So I started the list of things that make me cry, which I intended to follow with a counterpoint of things that don't make me cry. But keep reading and you'll see how that turned out:

I cry when I watch videos of flash mobs belting out the Hallelujah Chorus - it is a powerful song and I love it, but I also love the surprise of flash mobs, just bringing music to random places for no reason other than to do it. I cry whenever I'm in a choir that sings The Battle Hymn of the Republic and sometimes even at sporting events singing the Star Spangled Banner, and certain hymns in church. I cry when my kids or my nieces or nephews have certain events going my niece getting calling in the starting line up for one of her teams, or my kid playing her piano piece for her first recital. I cry when I think about putting my dog to sleep last year. I cry sometimes at weddings and almost always at funerals. I cry when I'm so mad or frustrated that I want to hit something. Incidentally, sometimes I cry with real tears and even noises - many times I just well up and can't speak - I'm counting all that as "crying." I cry afterwards if something has scared me to death (the time my kids pulled the TV down on themselves, for instance).

But I didn't cry when I got married, or found out I was pregnant or even when the kids were born. I didn't cry either time my husband announced he needed to go to CD treatment (neither time had prior warning that this was coming). I don't cry on the rare occasions that my husband and I fight.

I had an experience once of describing myself as "shy" and having my friend tell me I probably needed to rethink my self-description as I was the least shy person he knew....I'm thinking this is another one of those times since it appears I cry a LOT.

And away we go!

Post #1 - let's hope I'm not obsessive enough to keep that little habit going...

The reason for this post is to get some thoughts out of my head and onto paper. Not sure why but there are words bottling up in there that just need to be released. Here they are...

I have what I would call a pretty simple life: husband, two kids, job, house, dog, two cats. But it is a series of contradictions - particularly since I love my family and my life with as much passion as I sometimes miss my single life and the freedoms that came with it in the 37 years before the husband and then children arrived. Another example: I'm a lawyer and I mostly love my job, but I equally hate controversy and confrontation.

I don't think I can possible be the only one that lives in a world of contradiction. How we dance along those balance beams, trying to move from one side of the issue to the other, while maintaining our balance on both, is fascinating!

Thought for my day today: I love flash mobs that sing the Hallelujah Chorus or some Christmas song. I want to be in a flash mob that sings the Hallelujah Chorus or some Christmas song and am just waiting for the call...