Thursday, December 31, 2009

Resolutions

This morning I woke up to the inevitable ponderings that always show their faces around New Year's and birthdays.

What did I accomplish this year?
Who did I interact with, and did I make their lives better or worse, or neither?
Did I make any progress in my overarching life goals?
Can I be proud of myself?
What do I need to do next year in order to be the best version of myself possible?
How should I prioritize?
What would I like to do?
How can I embrace practices in the upcoming year that will further me as a person and will bring me closer to my ideal self?

And on it goes. In reviewing this year, I'm satisfied - not because I got everything accomplished that I would have wanted to, but because the decisions that I've made have poised me to jump into a new year that promises amazing experiences.

So, on to the resolutions:

1) Learn the piano. (that's a big one)
2) Meditate every day (I fall off the horse all the time)
3) Keep an electronic journal. My problem this year has been that I type a zillion times faster than I write, which makes for tired fingers and un-gotten-out thoughts. My journaling has been dry and lacking, just because I don't feel like friggin writing for that long. BUT, my mom got me the best Christmas present EVER - a netbook! A tiny one by HP that fits in my purse. Sooo, that means that journaling can now be done easier than ever. Another thing that made me want to write rather than type was the ease of flipping through pages rather than opening files (which feels awfully impersonal), so to remedy that I'll make myself a promise. If I can type almost daily, and good, real journaling, not a log of where I went and what I did and what was on the radio (although that stuff certainly has its place), I'll add pictures and get it bound next Christmas. That way, through the years I'll have a log that I can flip through, sitting on my shelf. Like a journal. Just not in my handwriting.

I think that's about it. I know that a lot of my habits will be changing this year because of the upcoming shifts in place (Texas), time spent (documentary and dissertation), and diet (raw foodist). More on all that later.

In any event, I like to keep resolution lists short and sweet. You're more likely to fail if there's a bunch there, rather than a few key things to focus on, if you ask me.

So that's that! What will you be aiming to do in the new year?

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Double Double

No, not the In & Out burger.

But a resolution to make resolutions! I'll be typing 'em up, here, tomorrow, for the new year.

So this is a post about the potential post for tomorrow.

Kind of useless, actually.

However, shouldn't we all be thinking about our resolutions now? Isn't tomorrow the day to make them, which makes today the day to ponder them? To think about what's important? To begin to unwrap the past year in our minds, diving into the good and bad and into our own choices and behavior, and figure out what we'll be doing next year that will be different (and the same)?

That's what I'll be doing. Aside from eating my first ever batch of homemade peppermint bark, which is chilling in the fridge now.
(yum)

So, resolutions tomorrow! Think about it! What promises will you be making to yourself?

Monday, December 28, 2009

A Holiday in Photos

As promised, here's a play-by-play of the Christmas '09 festivities...

A Hazleton holiday concert at the church...
Tara's solo
And after the performance (note the scarf inside, it was freezing!)
My Christmas gift-giving prep. Having folks who live far away is awesome.
THE Christmas eve meal setup (I'd been hearing about this for a year)
One of T's presents from Tara Santa
A tradition up here that I'm new to, barely understand, but after winning some dough this year, am warming up to! Scratch-offs.
An awesome discovery on Christmas morning: my very first official stocking!
Setting up the video camera (awkward now, but it'll be the BEST in 30 years...providing we switch it to digital by then and it's still in existence...)
The obligatory Santa Hat pic
Christmas Day table (lotsa eating...never before have I enjoyed treadmill time so much! Combine these meals with the frigid weather, and I'm there!)
The view whilst going over the river and through the woods (check out that snow!)
Blurry car pic. Wine makes me forget to switch my focus to automatic.
Rain on Pine St. during more family visits...
T enjoying his Xmas present (a guitar! And, for the record, I suck at keeping presents I'm giving secret. He'd known that was what he was getting for a month), as I enjoyed mine (footie pajamas. Words can't describe the amazingness)
I taught my soon-to-be mom in law to crochet this Christmas. Super proud of myself there. I'm sure I'll get a scarf out of the deal sooner or later ;)

At Saturday's Dom & Mr. Sax performance... (fantastic. Every other Friday at Bottleneck's. Come on out, if you're ever in Hazleton!)

There were even Bongos!



And before I knew it, T had a Guiness halo. Go figure.
A certain celebrity was back in our midst for the evening...
Who brought us back to his buddy's house for some karaoke.
And there was a really cute dog there.

Karaoke pics!(that one's from Meatloaf's Paradise, if you're wondering. We got a little into it.)

(Radio Gaga)










The End.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Insomnia

It is currently 4:15am in West Hazleton, PA.

T is asleep across the room and I'm freshly de-makeuped, wearing the boots I bought today (with Christmas money! Yesss!), catching up on blogs, and feeling lucky piled on lucky as I listen to my future husband's steady breathing, and shiver myself, contemplating whether to get up from the floor where I sit and get my new purple fleece Snuggy to wear (some more loot that came my way yesterday).

It may be awhile before I turn in.

Seriously, who came up with the whole coffee-after-dinner idea? I usually stay away from caffeine, but when in Rome, do as the Hazletonians do and drink coffee and stay up until the sun rises as the house sleeps around you and create bleary eyed blog posts...

Anyway.

I hope you all had a wonderful holiday. I certainly did. And I'm steadily accumulating pictures to post a holiday-weekend-in-photos post on Monday, so stand by.

Joy to the world. It's quiet outside, and the snow has been mostly melted by frigid rain from today.

Oops, T just shifted in bed and now his breathing is less even. I ought to stop clickety clacking away on the keyboard (wow was that Dr. Seusian or what)....

Ok, so I don't have my full I.Q. points after 2am. Sue me.

Carrots, signing out. (now it's 4:21)

(Happy Saturday-er Sunday. See you tomorrow.)

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christian the Lion

Merry Christmas eve eve!

I still have lots of Christmas cards to write (late, much?) and lots of reading to do (the break in my semester means I have time to catch up on everything I'd LIKE to be reading, which also means I'm jam packed with to-do reads right now), so in lieu of a real post, here's a video that reminds me of the awesomeness of our world every now and then.

Enjoy!


Monday, December 21, 2009

This Time

Happy Monday-that-is-the-last-Monday-before-Christmas!

What a week.

Today I'll finish my last proofread of the big scary paper I've been writing lately that has now reached over 40 pages (and it should be under 30 but let's not discuss it and let's also hope my professor doesn't notice because GEEZ I can't take anything out and still have the rest make sense). I'll write my cards and send them out (if you're reading this and are expecting a card from me, it's coming. It'll get there after Christmas I'm sure. My bad). I'll mail off a couple of packages with gifts and such, I'll pick up one more gift for a very difficult person to shop for, and I'll be officially DONE.

That'll feel some kinda nice, lemme tell you.

So this is Christmas week. When I was little we didn't do Christmas or birthdays - it was against the religion of the time, you see. To me, because of the financial difficulty my family was entrenched in during most of my life, that meant no presents. About ever.

I remember playing with a piece of a Barbie I'd found buried in the yard. I'm not kidding. It was a leg and I was intrigued with the way the knee would slightly bend in two clicks, and I fantasized about what it would be like to have an entire actual Barbie of my own to play with.

That may seem a little heavy to y'all, but it's the case. I don't often talk about those types of things on my blog because I want it to be a place where you can come to get a couple of happy-life tips and leave refreshed. That means that, usually, I don't talk about real issues (real = painful). But I'm discovering, as a part of my own ever-expanding learning and development, that sometimes, those things that may be just a bit uncomfortable to talk about are the ones that provide the absolute best lessons and areas for growth and ever-expanding good things both within and without. So, when appropriate, I'll talk about them.

But back to Christmas, and presents.

So I didn't have many toys when I was little. We read instead. Once a week we'd spend the entire afternoon and evening in the library. And we'd take some books home, but we had a decent supply there already. What I did have was books.

But that's off subject. Back to presents. The words said about no Christmas and birthdays were that, regarding presents, this meant that there weren't inauthentic times where you HAD to give presents. Rather, you could give presents whenever you wanted. You weren't ever obligated like you are with holidays, so it would mean more. But, for my situation, combine that with a poor household and you have a childhood with no presents at all. I don't remember ever having the experience of tearing through wrapping paper until I was at least a teenager.

Last night we watched old videos of T's family during holidays - him and his sister going through piles of gifts at a time, giving the obligatory "wow!"s and hugs and thank you's, and I thought as I heard the oohs and ahs of the adults around echo from the old VHS tape what an experience that must have been - to get bunches of things, all for you, because you were loved, a couple of times a year. On the Christmas tape there was also a birthday party for some newly one-year-old cousin. I saw her little smile beam as at least 20 adults sang her "happy birthday" praises, and I thought about what that must do to the brain and spirit, to have that many people around just becasue they love you, and to have them sing to you, and look at you, and smile at you, all at once. What must it do to a one-year-old to be the loved center of the universe for a day. What a blessing for that child!

Nowadays Christmas is lost in the rush and bustle and doing of stuff, not to mention the buying of it and the giving of it. I don't think there's a thing wrong with that. Christmas is about, for me, bringing joy to others because now, more than at any other time, it's accepted to show your love and appreciation for those in your life that you always love and appreciate (but saying it all the time would be awkward).

So just remember what you're doing. And feel it.

And enjoy the week :)

Friday, December 18, 2009

Angels


As I was falling asleep late yesterday evening, my sister sent me a text message with this quote. She said that she didn't know where it was from, but she'd seen it on a banner and thought I may like it. As I read the words, I felt my heart open and follow and it had me dreaming all night.

I thought you may like it too, so here it is.

In my dream the angel shrugged and said, 'If we fail this time it will be a failure of imagination.' And then she placed the world gently in the palm of my hand...

(Happy Friday!)

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Oh My, How It's Flying By!

8 days left 'til Christmas.
Can you believe it?!

Wasn't it summer, like, two weeks ago?

For me, this season has flown by with winged feet because of all the upheaval. They say that there are few major transitions in life, and that the top three are changing careers, moving, and changing relationships.

Well, I've
#1) recently taken on life coaching (or holistic health and wellness consulting, rather) full-time,
#2) moved across the country spent time visiting family, and hence, never spent more than three weeks in a row in the same house since, and
#3) spent the past few months planning a wedding.

I think those count as upheaval, no?

Transitions can be difficult. And though my current situation is a bit of an anomaly, I know, there are some things that we can all do to keep our heads (and happiness) when times are a'changin (like they are now, no matter whether you're moving or not), or things are happening like holidays (which are stressful).

One tool is to be mindful. I know that I preach mindfulness in its varied incarnations all the time, but that is because it's so important! Mindfulness can turn something like making a bed or cooking a meal from a necessary evil to a ritual of order and concentration, that clears your mind and your space, or nourishes you and your family, and therefore your life. It can turn a shower from a rushed few minutes to a time to purify and cleanse yourself, inside and out, letting the water carry away stresses and worries, and ending with you emerging clean, focused, and ready for the day. It can turn a long drive from a grumble-inducer to a car jam session (and seriously? As much as I griped about L.A. traffic, I totally miss my car jam sessions. Having everything within 10 minutes as it is here in Hazleton does have its drawbacks. You also can't be late with any good excuses...) So, all in all, mindfulness is something to cultivate. Now is the perfect time to practice it. You know what it definitely makes better? Gift wrapping.

Another tool is being present. This is a bit like being mindful, but the main difference here is that mindfulness is something that is within. Being present is both within and without. A great place to do this is in conversation. This time of year, more than any, is one during which we want to (or feel obligated to, either way) talk to those in our lives that are important to us. The problem is that we call, or visit, or send a card, and never actually SAY anything. We chat about the weather, about our children, about our jobs or our decorations or traffic or recipes. But we never really say anything at all. For that matter, we don't REALLY listen to each other.

Here's a goal for you today. Have a conversation, which you'll probably do sooner or later, and REALLY listen. Gather "all your marbles," or all the little flyaway thoughts and pieces of yourself that you've left all over because of your scattered attention (which we all do, especially now with five thousand lists constantly going in our heads), and be there, in the room, having that conversation, ONLY. Listen deeply and totally to what is being said, and when it comes time to answer, don't just throw out a polite response ("Hi, how are you?" "Good, how are you?" "Good, how are you?" - I've actually done that...) Rather, give a real, genuine, warm answer. Make their day a little better because, just for a moment, that person you were speaking to knew that they were the center of another's world. How often does that happen? How can it not spread good things in the world, if it becomes habit for all of us?

So those are your projects for the day. I'll do them too. Now I'm off to finish another dangone paper.

Today's quote:
We are all visitors to this time, this place.
We are just passing through.
Our purpose here is to observe, to learn, to grow, to LOVE...
and then we return home.
~ Aborigine Philosophy


Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Inspiration

It had been years since I'd wait for the commercial break to dart into the kitchen and grab a glass of water, or a bag of munchies, and be disappointed if I'd missed a moment or two of the show's continuance after the commercials were over.

I haven't shushed anyone when they spoke over the program playing in a very, very long time.

I haven't shouted "It's Back!" without taking my eyes off the screen, alerting whoever left the room to return now, and not wanting to miss a moment myself, since I can remember.

I have never woken up the next morning after exciting dreams, filled with hope, and creativity, and a fire that burned inside of me to really, really, go out and DO something, the way that I did on Monday morning, catalyzed by what I'd seen on Sunday night.

I'm so glad that I happened to be made aware that afternoon before the show aired - because knowing how things are, and how chance works, I may never have seen the amazing things I did, catching my breath, lifting (and sinking) my spirits, and touching my heart the ways in which it was touched by what I saw.

Here's a taste.


And guess what else? You can watch it on youtube, in four parts. I'm pretty excited about that. And you can bet that I'll watch it over and over again.

Part 1:
http://www.youtube.com/user/ZombieTheChannel#p/u/4/Kcvzo4t5RRM

Part 2:
http://www.youtube.com/user/ZombieTheChannel#p/u/3/xgzulofVo2c

Part 3:
http://www.youtube.com/user/ZombieTheChannel#p/u/2/fzPl6W0ywBI


Part 4:
http://www.youtube.com/user/ZombieTheChannel#p/u/1/cGjvM2tYFdE

Watch those and tell me you don't get chills. I dare you. It won't happen.


Today's quote:
-wait, there is no quote today. Click on one of the links. You'll get all the quotes you need.

Friday, December 11, 2009

What's that? Another road trip?

My mother is graduating this weekend.
(go Mom!)

Fresh out of high school, she had a full ride into VCU, pre-med. She was going to be a surgeon.

Once, at about age 8, she apparently opened up a live frog in her yard, to "see how everything worked." (Not so humane, but very medically oriented, yes?) She stitched him back up and he hopped away.

I'm not kidding, he really did.

At least that's how the story goes.

And he probably hopped off to go someplace and breathe his last froggy breath, but who knows? He may have lived a long and happy (in frog-years) life and his descendants may still live on Clay Street.

Anyway.

At the last minute, she decided instead to go be a missionary (she was a Jehovah's Witness at the time, so it was actually called "pioneering".)

A few months later, she was introduced to her roomate's big brother, and less than a year after that, she became Mrs. Brown.

So medical school didn't work out. But it all came together in the end, I say. But, obviously, I'm biased because had she not blown off school, I wouldn't be typing this blog right now, at least not with these fingers (a.k.a. in this body, with these parents, with these particular chilly toes, but now we're getting into deeper stuff so let's come back up to the surface and-)

Any.Way.


Fast forward a couple of decades, and she's back in school, this time not for the medicinal type stuff (although she does work for/go to school at a college that houses quite a nice medical school)-

And she graduates this weekend.
(again, Yay Mom! Congrats!)

So, long long story still pretty long, I'm headed down to Richmond tomorrow morning.

For the past few weeks I'd thought her ceremony would be in the evening. I found out an hour or two ago that, no, it's actually at 10:00am.

So, since we're also confirmed to go see Tara sing tonight here in Hazleton (she's a musician and headed out to LA in the spring, small world), we'll be doing that, getting roughly 4.3 hours of sleep, and loading up the car at 3:00am in order to make the 10:00 ceremony.

Good times.


Have a great evening. I'll be google mapping it up. (I just don't trust my GPS these days. I think she may have schizophrenia)

Today's quote:
The mind WILL be free, or it will be dead.
~Grace Llewellyn


ps: My dress came yesterday. More on that later, maybe....

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Procrastination Station

I can say with 100% certainty and only some self-consciousness that I am absolutely, definitely, full out and to-the-bone good at something.

Procrastination.

In fact, I'm doing it right now!

Last night, after an afternoon spent on my computer and NOT working on my paper due this week (my, how many interesting things there are to do instead!), I walked into the (soon to be) in-laws' kitchen, where delicious eggplant rotini (dunno if I spelled that right but you catch my drift) was baking, and announced that if I could make a living off of procrastinating, I'd be a millionaire.

("Lots of people would be," T said in reply)

But alas, I'm not a top-notch professional procrastinator (despite my natural talent), instead I'm a holistic health and wellness consultant, a.k.a. life coach, so, among other things, I actually help other people NOT procrastinate (as I expertly do, all the while, sometimes while I'm convincing someone else not to. I know a lot about the subject, so I'm the one to come to. It all makes sense in the end....)

I come from a long line of procrastinators. Why I couldn't have inherited musical genius instead, which also occurs in my family, I don't know. Oh well. I'll take my mom's lips and my dad's feet and the milkman's eyebrows (not really, but seriously, sometimes I wonder where I came from, compared with my siblings) and go with it.

And I guess that leads me to the end of this blog entry and the beginning of what I ought to be doing.

hmm, maybe I'll turn up the heat first....and I still need to write my daily 2 pages....oh! And my dress should arrive today!....

What was I saying?

Today's quote:
Choices are the hinges of destiny.
~Edwin Markham

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

White Christmas

Last Saturday I was informed that we were expecting snow.

SNOW.

I mean, I saw snow when I was visiting here last winter and stuff, but to see it FALL?

On a landscape that was currently untouched by snow?

To see flakes lazily drifting out of a deep velvety blue-black sky, turning and twisting until they light, ever so softly, on blades of grass and twigs and front steps and car hoods? (not romantic, but true)

It had been a decade at least since I'd witnessed anything similar. At most? Never. But I can't exactly recall. What I DO know is that I was very very very excited.

SNOW.

So, needless to say, that was about all I talked about that day. Every half hour I would either check the window or inquire as to the current precipitation status.

Childish?
Yes.

Annoying?
Probably.
er, I mean, Definitely.

However, once the sun was down and the air had cooled from frigid to arctic tundra, T called to me from the landing that it was finally happening!

I scurried down a few steps and all but pressed my nose to a window next to the door.

I didn't realize that #1) awhile had passed and #2) I was still grinning like an idiot until T started to laugh at me.

Whatever. I'll take looking like a dope (especially since it earned me a kiss on the nose, just sayin). It was snowing!

Before I knew it, my view had changed to this:
So, seeing as we were the only two home, we did what anyone would do - snuck out on to the back deck and ate some snow. Duh.

Unfortunately for me, T has more experience with this stuff than I do:
Yup, that snow ball had my name on it. Fortunately, he took mercy on the shivering girl with the camera and instead launched it in another direction. I amused myself for a few more minutes taking whatever shots I could, considering that getting good snow pics is something that I have NO experience with,
And we headed back inside.

The pristine snowfall made a perfect backdrop for Christmas card photos the next day, with the Duchess included.
(Rudy is male. You'd never know. Unless you consider the ego.)

Anyway.

So we did a few takes, and after the card pic was out of the way, a snow ball fight erupted between my intended and my beautiful soon-to-be sister (in law).
Most of it consisted of staring contests, trying to psyche each other out...
Most, I said.
Luckily, I again used my camera as an excuse and got away unscathed and snow free.

There hasn't been a good fall since, in spite of big scary weather forecasts last night. I woke up excited today, only to see a fine dusting. Now it's raining. Seriously, mother nature, who do you think you are? This girl is starved for snow. Bring it ON.

(Just after I've hit the grocery store and all of my ordered Christmas presents have arrived, please)....