Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Unlikely Friends....a mini love fest....

So, I've shared my thoughts about some new and old friends recently and today I was thinking about unlikely friends. While I was at the retreat, the speaker talked of 2 children, a Muslim and a Jew, playing together with no understanding of the trouble between their people. The message was "Hate is learned". Well, currently nothing in my life is quite so serious as the idea of those children playing, and I can't really say I hate anyone. So, how did this message apply to me? I thought about it for a while and, after a particularly uplifting email from a friend, I was able to come up with a couple of unlikely friends in my life. I'll share a few here.

The first friend that comes to mind is my best friend, my sister, Jeanne. Who knew that brat who stole my mommy and daddy when I was 4 and threw a glass of orange juice at me when we were kids would turn out to be the same person who keeps me grounded, is always there when I need her, and keeps all my secrets. Even if she wants me to get rid of all my books, I still love her.

The next unlikely friend is the wife of my former husband, affectionately known to all as "Stepmom". While I'm certain it's quite odd to like your ex-husband's wife, I think it might be just a bit odder to count her among your closest friends. There is no nasty talk of the father of my children between us, oh no.  Just the kind of friend who is always willing to lend an ear, cheer you up when you're down, and ready to jump in to help you at a moment's notice. Sure, it took us a while to get here, but I couldn't have made it through this past year without her. She's a true gem.

I also still like my former mother-in-law (liking your mother-in-law is supposedly odd) and I have a couple of friends in the sales department at work (Gasp! Shhhh, don't tell, I've made friends with the enemy :))

Not earth shattering, I know. Probably not even that interesting, and most certainly, all been said before, but it made me think.  I'm sure that we meet people for a reason, whether they float into your life mid-way or stand by our side for all of it, or join you for a while before going on their way, we can't make it without them. I've shared with you my thoughts on the uncertainly of life - remember about eating dessert? How about telling the people you love how much they mean to you. Have you told your friends, likely and unlikey, how grateful you are to have them as a friend?

Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Sunny Side of the Street

So, I've been trying to focus more on the positive lately. I can so very easily sliip to the dark side when I get overwhelmed, like I have been for the past few weeks. This weekend, I've had a couple experiences that have kept me looking to the bright side.

First - I'm taking an online class to help me embrace the things I'm grateful for. One assignment, a classic, is to list 100 things for which I am grateful. Simple assignment - so important. I'm up to 30 on my list right now and I keep it by my bedside to add to as I get ready to go to bed and recharge my batteries. Since it's a scrapbooking class, I'll add my 100 things to a 2 page spread to keep in one of my albums.

Second - I've reconnected with a dear friend who has helped me renew my spirit and reminded me of who I had set out to become, before all the pressures of everyday took over and planted themselves firmly on my shouders. She's also shared her friend and sister with me, which means I now have 3 more lovely people in my life who share my love of scrapbooking and telling the stories that make up our lives.

And finally, I spent today at a women's retreat with my mom, sister, and my daughter, learning and refelecting on life as viewed through the filter of the Spirituality of The Wizard of Oz, as presented by Friar Johnpaul Cafiero, OPM, of which I hope to share what I've learned in future posts. Not that this will turn into a sermon or anything, but I can't help but be moved by some of the ideas presented as the ideas are universal, regardless of your beliefs.

So, that's what I've got today. I'm round out my weekend of reflection by spended some time focused on the 2 blessing I count first on my list, Ana and Matt. Peace be with you, and have a great weekend.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Life is Short....Eat Dessert....and grab some tissue.

Hankie alert
Earlier this year, I lost a dear friend and colleague. It was sudden, and I didn't find out about it until I had logged into my Facebook account, which is ironic because in the last email I got from my friend, he clearly stated "I wouldn't be caught dead on Facebook". I'm still not sure what to make of that, but had it not been for Facebook, I wouldn't have known why he hadn't returned my last email.

Now, I don't want to be sad or depressing here, really. (Although, this is the first time I've written about my friend's passing, it may not be the last. I've, sadly, lost 2 friends, suddenly, this year.)  I want to share with you how I honor, in my small way, the memory of someone who has just passed away. It's simple, sure, but it helps me get past that initial sad stage. I eat dessert.

Now, I know we're supposed to be healthy in our food choices. I've spent years dieting and denying. Passing up dessert is the sure sign I'm on the dieting kick again.  But I've come to believe that passing up the sweet things in life, just because you think you should, was not part of the plan. I don't want to be morbid here, but what if? What if there's no cheesecake in Heaven? What if they don't stock hot fudge? What if there are no marshmallows for your hot chocolate? What did you miss here? What would you miss there? For me, it's dessert.

So, please, have dessert -- to celebrate, to mourn, or for no reason at all. Even if it's just a bite.

And for Frank, thanks for the years of laughter, support, friendship, grammar rules, and, finally, the Apple Crostada. 

Saturday, October 10, 2009

My Books, My Shelves: a "So That's Why" special episode

So, I'm sitting here this morning, looking at the 2 bookcases in my bedroom and wondering, "Why?". Why do I have all these books? Why did they enchant me so as to plunk down the debit card so I could give them a home on one of my 5 bookshelves (which doesn't count the ones in the kids' bedrooms)? Why haven't I found time to read them? Some people can tell time in their lives by the friends or lovers they've had, or a song on the radio that takes them back to an era in their life. I can also tell time by my books. Time for a "So, that's why" moment.

There are entire sections on my shelves from the various stages of teaching: student teaching (tons of books on theory and also classroom ideas on every subject imaginable, as well as novels that I intended to have in my classroom), the short stints as a substitute teacher, when I worked with students with learning differences, and when I taught at the college level (books on writing and grammar, art books from the time I taught Intro to Fine Arts, Psychology books (Oliver Sachs and Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi).

There are sections of my "Optimistic Mommy" phase, when I wanted to start a mommy-daughter book club - books on how to do that and the books I wanted to read with my daughter (um, sadly, didn't get too far with that, although she loves to read and that was the ultimate goal).

The philosophical era when I thought I'd read all the classics that I should have read before: Camus, Wharton, Miller, Austen, all nestle together with my book on 100 Banned Books.

The time after that, when I gave up and read chick lit and "pampering yourself" books, exclusively.

Books from the Outlander series by Diana Gabaldon from when my son was a wee bairn (they are set in Scotland) and I would read while he rested in my arms.

Books my mom shared with me. Guilty pleasures. Short books that should be long: Simplify Your Life with Kids, for example. And long books that should be short: Seeing Me Naked by Lisa Palmer (just kidding, couldn't resist that title).

An amazing array of Organizing books, close to 25, of which I've read hmmmm 2? I should have stuck with Marcia Ramsland and Peter Walsh, because their books had the most impact on me when I read them. But, uh, nothing seems to have sunk in because my house and my life is in utter chaos - I think I'll organize them next, into a nice versatile basket they may or may not have suggested I buy, and which is now filled with Ninetendo boxes and scarves? Time to read or re-read those books.

Books that make me go - huh? Really? I bought that? (See The Seinfield Chronicles, and Sex and the City: Kiss and Tell) That group is now in a shopping bag on the way to The Frugal Muse (noted in an earlier post), if you are interested, but I warn you, you may look at them years from now and ask yourself the same questions.

There are other subsections of book categories around here, to be sure, but these seem the most important to me to share right now. Since I've also been saying, "I didn't know I had this book", several times this morning, I'm going to take a look to see what I might what to move up on my imaginary reading list. Or maybe write down that list. I also see how some of my writing books may come back into use soon, with the blogging and scrapbooking I do, and the fact that my daughter is on the school Newspaper and Yearbook this year (also, a very good writer, that girl!). Maybe she'll want one of those books to cuddle up with .... uh, yeah, what 13 year-old girl doesn't want to cuddle up with her mom's grammar books? I need to get a grip....maybe some parenting books.....?

So, that's why I have so many, many, many books in my house. My goal continues to be to actually read or re-read these books that mean so much to me, and eliminate those that don't. Those castaways, who have spent some time with me will go off to a new home on someone elses shelves. And I'll have space on my shelves for the next era of my life, whatever that may be.