Introspection

This is another digression from the “Freaking Great” volume so please accept my apologies if you were hoping for more from the book.

Earlier today while I was getting ready for work the faded white lines on the inside of my wrists stood out for some reason.  They’ve been there for 40+ years – since I tried for the second time to take my life. I see them every day but today they were unexpectedly “front and center” in my brain.  I imagine it has something to do with my mother-in-law passing last week and the reminder of my own mortality.  If I had been successful all those years ago you wouldn’t be reading this — duh — but I realized besides writing, there is quite a LOT I would have missed.

In no particular order:

  • The joy and heartache of being a mother
  • Laughing till you cry
  • Fresh bread that I mixed, kneaded and baked from scratch
  • Dog kisses
  • Grandchildren
  • Pie
  • Sunrises and sunsets
  • Coffee
  • The ocean
  • Dark chocolate
  • Croissants
  • Doctor Who
  • Reading
  • Crossword puzzles

Looking back over the list I see it’s far from complete (where’s the damn steak after all?), but there’s still a lot to love about my life.  As 2018 unfolds I need to keep this list handy (after I add “steak” and maybe “beer”). I’m sure there will be moments of frustration, sadness, and pain but these reminders will help me press on.  I have it pretty good after all.

Thanks for stopping by.

Make Like a Superhero

Today’s entry from the You Are Doing a Freaking Great Job book is a bit of advice.  There’s no author cited but it sounds good so I’m sharing it here:

“Before your next big meeting or job interview, stand with your feet shoulder-width apart and put your hands on your hips. A 2012 study by the Harvard Business School found that striking a high-power pose like this increases testosterone and lowers stress, leading to better performance.”

Just don’t let your cape trip the interviewer!

Side note:  This works almost as well when you’re returning to work after a week-long, unexpected and sad absence.  I just call it “putting on your big girl panties” and getting on with life.  My mother-in-law would agree.

A Resilient Woman

In 9 days my mother-in-law will be 88, but she isn’t going to make it.

Taking a break from the “freaking awesome” parade, I’ve been at the hospital several days including spending New Year night in the recliner in her room.  Mom had a massive heart attack early New Year morning and the doctor called us about 5:30 for permission to do a cardiac procedure.  The hospital is at least an hour from where we live so between trying to reach my SIL, talking with one daughter and texting another we weren’t able to get to Everett till about 7:30. 

They had already done the catheterization and the news wasn’t good: they couldn’t use a stent or balloon – there were too many blockages. Mom is not a candidate for surgery either.  All they can do is try to manage it with meds.

When I asked the nurse whether the family should be told to come she said yes and my heart broke.

This strong, generous, and loving woman welcomed me and my children into her family with wide open arms.  She has been through much in her life – losing her father at a very young age, being neglected by her grieving mother, years later losing her first husband and having to support two small children and her mother, having a second husband leave while carrying his child. 

However, she and her third husband, my father-in-law, had a 50+ year marriage.  I never saw them unhappy or angry, though I’ve heard my husband’s stories, and it’s clear it wasn’t always a fairytale romance. 

Now the three remaining children have gathered at her bedside, along with some of the many grandchildren.  She slept most of yesterday, waking only minutes at a time to greet each newcomer. Her nurse said it would likely continue this way – the sleeping for long periods interspersed with short waking moments, until she doesn’t wake up again, leaving a huge hole in the fabric of our family.  

I’m so glad she found her prince in the end. As sad as the loss will be for us, I hope she gets to see him again soon.

You Deserve All the Good Things

Hey, who am I to argue?  That’s what the next page in the You Are Doing a Freaking Awesome Job book says.

All. The. Good. Things.  Let that thought settle in and make itself comfortable in your brain.

Sooo, what constitutes “Good Things”?  For me at least it’s simple stuff:

Finding my usual parking spot available at the park and ride – every day.

The occasional Theo Chocolate bar – my favorite seasonal choice is the Cranberry Orange!  When it isn’t the holidays I stick with the Cherry Almond.  What can I say – I like crunch in my dark chocolate.

A few months back I switched from coffee to tea (yes really).  I was drinking entirely too much.  Now I have a cup of caffeinated tea first thing in the morning at home, or occasionally I’ll pick up a Lightly Sweet Chai at Starbucks on my way to the train.  Their regular Chai is too sweet for me.  Rarely, I’ll treat myself and get a Flat White, which for those of you not in the know, is a Starbucks not-sweet coffee drink – yes, they have those!  Another of my good things would be to indulge in coffee again at will, not rarely.

Comfy shoes.  No wait…comfy shoes that I can wear at work!  Ahhh.

And Universe, if you’re listening I’d like one genuine, real vacation please.  It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive, I’d just like to not spend it with family.  Pretty please.

What are your Good Things?

Happy 2018!

Happy 2018

 

It’s been rather a long time since I’ve posted regularly here and I’ve missed it.  So I want to try something different this year in the hope it will get me blogging a bit more often.

A couple of Christmases ago I bought copies of a fun little book for the Shared Services team I lead.  I think I may have posted about it and if there’s time I’ll try to find that post and link to it.  In the event I don’t have time or can’t find it, the book is called You Are Doing a Freaking Great Job.  As you might guess based on the title, it’s an inspirational, heartening, and uplifting tome.  Tome is a funny word, isn’t it?  Whenever I read it I envision huge volumes with some weight to them.  This book is only a bit over 4 inches square and about an inch thick; its weight is in the contents.

I’m hoping to take a page (maybe every day, maybe once a week, who knows) and reproduce it here, perhaps with a photo of the page if it’s especially attractive.  I’m sure there will be days when all I can do is quote the book, but I’m hoping at times to delve into what the book’s message that day means to me.

So let’s get started shall we?

Introduction

If you can’t quite read the writing inserted above, it says “An encouraging little Introduction”.  One of the reasons I decided to try using the book for inspiration was this page.  Each line by itself is inspirational, and altogether they tell me to start fresh each day.

Even if yesterday sucked I need to keep my head up.  Today’s a new day.

“Take your time” can apply to so many aspects of each day:  from driving to the train safely, to carefully proofreading a document even if it’s huge and will take hours.

I never got around to posting this last year but I was genuinely promoted – with a new title and a raise!  To be honest, I was flabbergasted when the big boss called me at home (I was out sick that day) to tell me the news.  When she mentioned the amount of the raise my jaw literally dropped and I was speechless for several seconds.  I really was ill and my brain couldn’t quite compute what she was saying.  I’m proud of myself.  I earned that promotion darn it!  But there are those days when I do something I consider stupid, or I take a shortcut that bites me.  Those days it’s a little harder to be proud of myself.  I need this reminder that even when I mess up I’m still excellent at my job.  We won’t talk about relationships…

“…right where you’re supposed to be.”  And just where might that be?  Well there are a few ways to interpret that for me personally.  Earlier this year I had an opportunity to move to a different law firm (one my friend had gone to).  At the time I learned about the position they were creating I was under a lot of stress and my first reaction was to update my resume and send it to my friend.  She sent me some information on their benefit package as well as other aspects of the job.  I looked them up on line and found many familiar faces.  But something held me back.  I’ve been at this firm for over 19 years.  I’m one of the big dogs – administratively speaking.  This was before the promotion by the way so that didn’t factor into my decision making.  I went over and over it in my head for the biggest part of a day and a night.  Then I contacted my friend and asked her to withdraw my resume.  All the weighing I’d done brought me to the conclusion that as stressful as my job is, I would miss it.  I would miss the people I’ve come to know and care about.  On top of that I’d be trading my tenure here to be a little fish in a big pond at the new place — having to prove myself all over again.  So. Not. Happening.

Does this resonate for anyone else out there?  Do you believe you’re where you are supposed to be?  What are you proud of about yourself?  Do you procrastinate…or give yourself time?  Let’s keep our heads up together this year, shall we?

Happy New Year everyone!  May your 2018 be filled with blessings and wonderful adventures.

Glad Tidings!

Yes, I know yesterday was Christmas.  But I figured better late than never.  I hope all of your holidays were lovely!  I’m really, really glad I only had one mimosa yesterday.  Especially since my daughter is generous with the bubbly.  More than one and I might have actually said what I wanted to when The Ex introduced her friend to MY mother-in-law and identified her as HER mother-in-law.

Yep, The Ex is back and annoying as ever.  I love my stepdaughter and would never do anything to spoil her Christmas (they host every year as they have a family-sized home where we all fit nicely).  Let me tell you though, when The Ex told her friend C, “this is my mother-in-law S” I so wanted to say (sweetly of course), “Technically, she’s my mother-in-law.  You gave up that relationship when you took the twins and abandoned your husband in the middle of the night umpteen years ago.”

But I was good peeps.  Seething, but civil.  I gathered up my plate and mimosa and left the table before I could give in to the little devil on my shoulder.  I planted myself across the room, behind the Christmas tree so I wouldn’t have to look at her.  That may have been a mistake, because later, when the gifts had all been opened she had the audacity to tell MY grandson to put away the “Cards Against Humanity” set he’d received.  This isn’t the hosting daughter’s son (The Ex is his grandmother too) but another daughter’s son who came to stay for the week.  She had no business telling him what to do and if I had been where I could stare her down I would have given her the death stare!  Or possibly unloaded all the hurt and anger I was still feeling over her earlier remark.  What a bitch!

I know this is petty of me, truly I do.  I’m secure in my place with the family but this time something inside just snapped.  I so wanted to see her face when I reminded her of how badly she behaved so long ago.  Thankfully, I held back and Christmas was not ruined.

Soooo, any family shenanigans you want to get off your chest?

The 16 year-old in me…

is squeeing after this weekend!

First you have to get a mental image of 16 year-old me: plumpish, 4-eyed, not too popular (to put it mildly).  And I’ve already told you about my lackluster hair.

I spent Saturday with my daughters and it was everything that 16 year old wanted when she was in high school.  We met at one daughter’s house and spent a few hours playing with makeup, hair and giggling.  There was also adult conversation and I was reminded what wonderful women my daughters are.

IT. WAS. AWESOME.

After the playing we went to get my belated Mother’s Day gift:

Silver bead daith piercing

This, my friends, is a daith piercing.  In fact that beaded silver ring is exactly what Gumby used for my piercing on Saturday.  (Yes, the piercer’s name is Gumby, how cool is that?!  He was a young man but already had 15 years experience as a piercer, having started his apprenticeship at 17.)

I’m not going to link to the research I did on daith piercings (Google is your friend if you’re interested), but a LOT of people claim the piercing helps relieve their migraines.  That alone would not have persuaded me, but one of my daughters had her daith pierced some months back and hasn’t had a debilitating migraine since then!  It seemed worth a shot, especially when the daughters were willing to foot the bill.

It’s only been 2 days so I’ll reserve my opinion on the results.  Two days isn’t a fair test for anything new in my mind.  But check this space in the future – if it works I will definitely be sharing more!

This is not a cooking blog

But I have to share this very simple recipe I made!

crockpot pork

Disclaimer:  This isn’t a photo of my finished product.  I didn’t think to take a photo so I Google searched for images of crockpot pork, and this is the closest I found to what my results were.  That said, this looks almost exactly like our dinner last night.

Start with a fresh or thawed pork roast.  Mine was about 3 pounds.  I’m not absolutely sure because JD bought this gargantuan hunk of pork last month and we cut it into three pieces and froze them separately.  Rub garlic powder into the surface.  My first choice would have been fresh garlic but I didn’t have any.  Next, rub the roast with salt and pepper if you like.  Place roast in slow cooker (you can spray or otherwise coat the inside with nonstick if you do that sort of thing.  Pour Olive Garden Italian Salad Dressing over the roast.  It doesn’t take a lot, just make sure the top of the roast has a good layer of it.  (I also pour a bit into the slow cooker before I put in the roast.  Sprinkle with more garlic powder (if you dare).  If you want to add onions or sauerkraut (some of us like pork and sauerkraut!  I just didn’t have any) now’s the time.  Cook on low for about 6 to 8 hours (depending on how large your roast is).  You’ll know it’s done when you can easily shred it with a fork.  Or you can pull out your trusty meat thermometer.  Mine’s not so trusty so I rely on the fork test.

I’m sure any Italian dressing would work, or even a different dressing.  Balsamic anyone?  I usually go with a marinade or BBQ sauce but I didn’t have any around the house and I didn’t have all the ingredients to make homemade.  Can you tell I haven’t been shopping in a while?  I did have the aforementioned Olive Garden dressing left over from a 2-pack we bought at Sam’s Club during the grandkids’ last visit.

That’s it peeps.  Add some jasmine (or other) rice and veggies and you’re good to go!

Let me know if you try it, or if you have other easy-peasy recipes … especially crockpot ones since we’re almost into the hot weather.

Ironic Hair

One of the things I’ve always been frustrated by is hair in my face.  When I was in high school I didn’t know how to style my hair and it usually just hung loose.  I’d either tuck it behind my ears or occasionally I’d pull it back in a pony tail.  Being the oldest I had no one to learn grooming tips from and my mother was no help.  If you’re unaware of my childhood situation there are some previous posts that discuss my formative years, but I’m too lazy to link them here so you’ll need to be interested enough to go find them on your own; helpful aren’t I?

I went to high school in Southern California in the early 70s – most of the girls were slender and feminine.  They wore long gauzy/floaty/floral skirts with complementary blouses or sweater sets, and long straight hair parted in the middle.  Sometimes they’d pin a strand or skinny braid back on either side.  My hair is and always has been thick, wavy, and unruly.  When I parted it in the middle it stuck out at the sides.  Not a look you’d want in high school; the circus maybe.  Think Bozo the Clown only in dishwater blond.  Okay, that could be an exaggeration.

As I got older I tried various styles (as girls will do).  Few of them were successful, though I liked some of them for a while.  I wasn’t entirely happy with my hair until I was in my 40s.  It was then that I began growing out a very short style and the natural wave worked in my favor.  I found a stylist who knew how to cut wavy hair to enhance its qualities.  All was right with the world hair-wise.

Then I met JD and a few months later we were engaged.  For my wedding I wanted something like the dreamy, romantic style below.

wedding hair

Since this was going to be my second and last wedding, I decided to go for it.  My co-worker at the time did this to her own hair all the time and agreed to do my hair for the wedding.  She said I’d have to let it grow out more as it would need to be all one length.  The resulting hairdo was perfect!  I loved how it looked with flowers woven into it.

After the wedding though it quickly became annoying because it was so long and thick.  Seriously, everyone who has ever worked on my hair has commented on the thickness of it or how much I had.  When I’d get my hair done with my SIL she’d be finished way before me.  I realize not everyone would find that irritating and I shouldn’t complain about having hair that is too thick.  But when you deal with it every day – the weight of it on your neck, the bushiness, the frizz – it isn’t as appealing as it sounds.

Fast forward to a few years ago when I braved a new stylist again in an attempt to tame the monster on my head.  I arrived prepared with a photo of my hair pre-wedding, when it was still growing out from the short style and I really liked it.  The image below is similar to how mine looked then, though mine was wavier and a little shorter.

pre-wedding hair

I asked Selena if she could help me approximate this look except I didn’t want the bangs, and damned if she didn’t do a great job!  She even performed some kind of sorcery on the side with the extra bushiness to take out part of the bulk.  Selena’s been cutting my hair ever since.  It’s been about the length you see here for some time, though more layered to take advantage of the waves.

Lately though, as menopause took up residence even this length became unbearable.  It started to seem like my hair doubled in volume mere days after a trim.  I loathe how I look in short-short hair and I am NEVER going back to that.  Some women look adorable with short hair; I’m not one of them and I know it.  So what’s a menopausal, hot-flash and night-sweat suffering woman to do?

I can’t take credit for the solution.  We were watching Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them when I saw what turned out to be my answer.  I adored Queenie’s hair!  Now, mine is nowhere near as wavy as hers is here but I really liked the wedge shape of it and did some research into the style.

queenie's hair

I’m not sure that particular style even has a name, but searching for Queenie’s hair brought up a LOT of other similar styles, many of which were identified as reverse or inverted bobs.  Okay, there have been a few Bobs in my life (my birth father and at least one step father to name 2) but I don’t remember ever having a bob.  Well, maybe once when my kids were young; probably before the short-short hair.

An inverted bob consists of shorter hair in back while the sides/front are longer.  Getting the hair off my neck was my first priority and this seemed to fit the bill.  Now, I could have just had it cut a bit shorter all around, keeping it layered the way I usually wear it.  But then the front would be shorter than I wanted.  Ah yes, if you’re harking back to my first paragraph you’re remembering that I hate hair in my face.  Longer on the sides/in the front would seem counterproductive to that.  Here’s where the irony comes in!  See, I did finally bring it around to that title!  Growing my hair longer in front and on the sides actually helps me keep it out of my face!  When I wore it layered all over, it would grow out to the “too long” point quickly, driving me crazy.  While it was long enough to get in my face and be maddening, there wasn’t enough length to pin it back without having it stick out sideways.  Now that I’m letting it grow out in front and on the sides I have sufficient length that I can twist some strands and pin them back out of the way in a softer, more subtle style.  Score!

I thought this really long post had a point but now that I’ve reached the end I can’t think of it.  Maybe it’s just an excuse to brag about my new style – I had another trim a few weeks ago and I am still loving the results.

So without a point I’m not sure how to end this.  Perhaps the message I’m getting at is this – don’t give up.  The perfect hairstyle is out there!

Probably.