Friday, December 31, 2010

Pain Free...

Today is a tentative day. In just the last twenty-four hours, I have lost my pain. I keep moving the way I was moving before the procedure, protecting my back.

I am acutely aware of every sensation affecting my back. I think about what I will do if the pain comes back. If the injection wears off.

The simple answer is: I will try it again. Even though it means going to a surgery center, going under anesthesia, and going through the whole process again.

For the sake of being pain-free, I will do it again....and again.

But today, right now, I will be glad that the pain is gone. And start the New Year with a clean slate!

Happy New Year, All!


Wednesday, December 29, 2010


I have laundry to do today. It's part of life: things are worn, they get dirty, we wash them, and they get worn again. Cycles happen.

I wonder how many ideas I have “worn” and then had to wash. How many events? How many aspects of my life have been worn and washed so many times that they have been worn out and replaced?

Or is it like it was in childhood? Wear it, grow out of it, and get rid of it....

Ideas come and go. Events come and go. But there always seems to be a mountain of laundry.

I wonder why.....


Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Family Ties....

It's quiet now. The “little one” spent the night at her cousins' house. Today, she will go visit with her cousins' cousins. She is quite excited about it: she bought Christmas gifts for them.

We have had a talk recently about “family” and the concept of family. She is an only child, so she readily adopts people as members of her family. Her version of the meaning of family. 

I want her to understand the difference, if there is any, between familial relationships and friendly relationships.

I don't want her to get hurt....

She has room in her heart for the entire world, probably. She loves people and loves being with people and all she wants is to be loved in return.

Don't we all want that?


Monday, December 27, 2010


Sometimes, life is peaceful. Other times, it is interrupted by noise.

I can get used to the noises that happen every day. The familiar noises: voices, sirens, dogs barking, cars, planes, music on the radio.... I can continue what I am trying to do and tune them out. Most of the time.

The noise that won't go away is inside of me. I don't “hear voices” but there is a still, small voice inside of me that tries to communicate with me.

When I choose to listen, I learn the things that I need to know, such as, how I am feeling about something, or what I need to do about a situation in my life.

For months, I ignored the little voice. The noise inside of me kept getting louder and louder. And I had to work harder and harder to ignore it. Until I could ignore it no more.

I had to listen.....

The cacophony was gone and a sense of peace washed over me again. I know what I have to do and I know it is the right thing—for me—to do.

Note to self: please listen to me!


Sunday, December 26, 2010

A Perfect Christmas...

It's a beautiful day today. The grandkids from next door are out on their razor scooters and bicycles, enjoying the sunshine. It's a perfect day after Christmas....

And it was a perfect Christmas. Perhaps not perfect, but very close. The kids and grandkids were all here. The ones who couldn't be here called yesterday morning. From Italy.

It never ceases to amaze me: a house full of love and laughter, every Christmas. Without fail. The grandkids are growing, and their interests are changing, but the commitment to family and time together is as strong as ever.

No one left early. And no one turned down a meal. Or two.

It was a first, of sorts: the oldest grandchild couldn't be here: he had to work today. Early. And so, he stayed home for Christmas. He's in college now, and having a job is very important. Later on, after college, he'll be back. For Christmas at Grandma's.

And someday, he'll bring his wife and their children.....


Thursday, December 23, 2010

It's Time....

The shopping's done. The gifts are wrapped and under the tree. The meals are planned and the cookies are almost ready.

The house looks beautiful in its holiday wardrobe. The lights, the sounds and the smells just add to the excitement. And company will start arriving tomorrow afternoon.

The rush is over and the work is mostly done. What didn't get done doesn't matter. It's time to let go of the to-do list.

It's too late to worry about what could have been. Or should have been. What's done is done. And what didn't get done? Well, there's always next year.

The time is here to savor the moments, make the memories, and enjoy the holiday.

Merry Christmas, All!


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Christmas Cookies....

I baked cookies today. In a little while, my granddaughter and I will decorate them. And then, it will really be Christmas.

I haven't made sugar cookies for the past three or four years. I guess I was too busy. And, as silly as it sounds, Christmas wasn't the same without them. I guess it's true: when you do something for fifty years, it becomes a habit....

I only have one of my mother's cookie cutters left: a star with scalloped edges. The rest of mine are at least thirty or more years old. I have stars and hearts and a gingerbread boy and girl, an angel, a Christmas tree, a hand, and a reindeer.

The way to “share” sugar cookies is to fill the cookie container with the easy cookies, then put a few sugar cookies on top, for show. They are way too labor-intensive to just hand them out, willy-nilly! What it means is, if you get a sugar cookie or two from me, you are special!

I don't know which is more fun, helping my grandchildren decorate the cookies, or watching people enjoy them.

Every year, on Christmas morning, Dylan's Grandpa Jim comes to pick him up to go celebrate with his family. And every year, Jim looks around furtively.....for the sugar cookies. I've had to apologize to him for the last several years, for not making cookies.

He's in for a pleasant surprise this year!

Merry Christmas, All!


Monday, December 20, 2010

My Quiet Place.....

It has been a very busy day. Driving on crowded highways in the pouring rain. Very busy. And a little unnerving, at times.

But it's over now. We're home, settled in to the early evening, pursuing our own interests.

I am trying to find my quiet place. That place where the troubling thoughts of the day seem to fade away, never to return. A place where simple, peaceful, happy thoughts pervade and prevail.

And here it is. Not physically, as it can happen anywhere. But here, and now, as I rest and remember the day. The thoughts in my head make me smile. The “secrets” that will be revealed Christmas Day. Knowing that soon, family will gather and hugs and kindness will abound.

The world around us will recede and the light and life in this house will be felt and enjoyed by everyone who is here, physically or in spirit. Far and wide, the influences of those who have touched our lives will warm our hearts and brighten the day.

The troubles in life melt away and Love reigns supreme.

Merry Christmas, All!


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Star Light, Star Bright....

Today is the last day of quiet solitude until Christmas. Tomorrow, the Munchkin arrives. With a bag full of clothes, and a heart full of happiness, she will bring the house back to life.

Sure, there's life here all the time. Quiet, measured moments of living and breathing and being. It's a cheerful place to be, but mostly at a lower level and a slower pace.

She emailed me last night, saying that she can hardly wait for Christmas. There were about a hundred exclamation points at the end of the sentence. That's Noelle, and this is her holiday, exclamation points and all.

It's a symbiotic thing: she brings spirited enthusiasm to the house, and we help her harness it. She will visit with her cousins, help Grandma bake cookies, and just enjoy what the season brings. For every busy activity, there will be some quiet time. Some time of renewal. She will read, and draw, and write.

And when the holidays are over, she will return home to real life. Everyday life. School and chores and all the responsibilities of being eleven years old. But first, we will celebrate!

And Noelle will be our bright little star....


Saturday, December 18, 2010

The Silver Lining...

It's a week until Christmas. Next Saturday, at this time, I will be getting ready to serve Christmas Dinner to my family. The gifts will be opened and the excitement of the night before will have settled into mellow contentment.

I haven't been this ready for Christmas in more than thirty years. Of course, for the past 34 years, I have had a job, and been working full time before, during and after the holidays. But not this year....

The Christmas trees have been up for almost three weeks. The mantle decorations, too. The gifts are purchased and wrapped. The Christmas cards and packages have been mailed in plenty of time.

I have actually had time to just sit and look at the Christmas tree and think about things. Important things: family, friends, plans for the future, and all the wonderful memories of Christmas. It's a luxury, not having to rush around and try to get things done. And I truly appreciate it.

It's the silver lining in the cloud, for me.


Friday, December 17, 2010

Simple Pleasures....

It's funny the things that please us. I have been waiting for over a year for Dave to convert some shelves and drawers in the kitchen for me. Dave is my former daughter-in-law's husband. He is an excellent carpenter and a very nice man.

Today was the day! The new shelves were built and the one drawer, replacing two small ones, is done, too. It only took him about an hour to install them, too.

And now? I have more room for cooking utensils and knives in the one BIG drawer, instead of two, awkward, smaller drawers. And the best part? I now have slide-out shelves for my pots and pans. Open the cupboard doors, slide out the drawer, find the pot or pan I want, and close the drawer.

No more getting down on the ground to dig for the perfect pot or pan!

Right now, I am going to go through all the whatchamajiggies that were in the drawer. If I don't know what it is, or how to use it, I probably don't need to keep it. Everything in the cupboard next to the stove will be clean, neat, and orderly. And, easy to reach!

How cool is that?


Thursday, December 16, 2010

The Christmas Dishes...

'Tis the season to be jolly. Are you?

This morning, I got out my Christmas dishes. They are from Mikasa and they each have a Christmas tree on them, with green lattice around the rims. I think they are quite pretty....

Normally, I take them out on Christmas Eve, just before our meal, and set them out on the dining table. I decided to do things differently this year: we will use them at supper time from now until after Christmas.

They are festive and fun, regardless of what food is on them. A roast, a casserole, even hot dogs, will look better on Christmas plates. It is about presentation, isn't it?

The simple addition of festive Christmas plates will make each meal special during the season. It is an indication that family is special, too. By not saving “the good china” for company, every meal becomes a celebration. Every person around the table is loved and welcome.

And every meal becomes a joyous occasion....


Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Happiness Is Homemade....

Somewhere, sometime, I heard the saying “Happiness is homemade.” Just what does that mean? We have to make things at home? Doing that will make us happy? No, I don't think so...

I think it means that we are responsible for making our own happiness, rather than depending on others to make us happy. Happiness comes from within.

Being happy requires effort. We have to let go of grudges. Release our negative feelings. Lower, or raise, our expectations of ourselves, and acknowledge our own responsibility in achieving happiness.

Lowering our expectations of happiness means realizing that we don't have to have a lot of money to be happy. Or “true love” or even good health. Happiness does not have modifiers: “if this happens, I can be happy”....

Raising our expectations means that we actively seek happiness. Go outside and watch the sunset. Or get out of our rut and find new places to seek happiness.

Happiness is a choice. Others don't make us happy, or unhappy. We do that all by ourselves. Happiness IS homemade.

In our own hearts....


Tuesday, December 14, 2010

A Gentle Time....

This is the time of year for gentleness. Sure, being kind and gentle is important all year long. But it is even more important during the holidays.

All the decorations, all the traditions, all the memories can overwhelm us at this time of the year. Look at any Norman Rockwell holiday picture and you will see what I mean. Some will smile and think of a good memory that the picture evokes.

Others will have a lump in their throat and fight back the tears. Perhaps it is because of a good memory of someone or something that is now gone. Or perhaps it is a bad memory of a holiday gone awry. Whatever the reason, gentleness counts.

Invite friends who are alone to your Christmas festivities. Don't be surprised if they say “no.” For some, being in a group of people makes them feel even lonelier and more disconnected. Perhaps a one-on-one time, just you and your friend, would be less intimidating.

In any case, think of those who might be alone, or lonely, or sad, or depressed this holiday season and invite them to come to a gentle place. A shelter from their loneliness. Invite them into your home.

And into your heart.

Merry Christmas, Gentle Spirits!


Monday, December 13, 2010

The Wrong Side of the Bed....

Do you ever get up on the wrong side of the bed?

Maybe not literally, but figuratively? On one side are the positive thoughts. And the negative thoughts are on the other side. When you get up on the wrong side, all you see is negative.

Not “glass half empty” negative. More like “I didn't even get a glass!” negative. And each negative reinforces the others. Seeing only the negative in life becomes a habit. Instead of looking for beauty and comfort in daily life, you will start looking for things to criticize.

Some “experts” say that we see negative around us when we feel it within us. Seeing YOUR mistakes makes me feel better about MY mistakes, somehow. And looking for bad things can become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Well, guess what? So can being positive. Looking for the beauty in everyday things. A sunrise, a sunset. A rainbow after a storm. A smile on a face that is looking at you. Life is full of positives.

If you get up on the right side of the bed....


Sunday, December 12, 2010

I think, therefore, I am.....I think!

I have been trying to clear my head this morning. Trying to think of something to write about. Something of value.

It's hard for me sometimes. It seems that I always have so many thoughts swirling around in my head. Trying to settle them down and focus can be difficult.

I have to laugh: someone close to me always tells me that I think too much. I honestly don't know how to stop thinking, or thinking so much. I will have to think about that.....

Actually, I think thinking a lot is a sign of a healthy brain. It's actively exercising, thinking about lots of different things, imagining things, and working out solutions to problems. Maybe it's “brain aerobics”!

What do you think?


Saturday, December 11, 2010

Happy Saturday!

Ah, the joys of Saturday! I'm off to the hardware store for some supplies. Then some projects need to be done. And, of course, there's a mountain of laundry to do.

Another day, another gift to be opened and enjoyed. What are you doing with your gift today?

Happy Saturday, everybody!


Friday, December 10, 2010


Today is one of those days. I have dreaded it for a month. And now, it's here...

Decisions will be made today, by others, that affect my future. I can only answer their questions and wait. Wait for the inevitable. I have known, for a long time, what the outcome will be: I have the pain in my lower back as a nearly constant reminder.

Can I still work? Or not.

The sun was shining when I woke up this morning. I have to take my cue from the weather: good day or bad day, good news or bad news, the sun will be shining.

And so will I....


Thursday, December 9, 2010

The Season of Giving...

Today I went Christmas shopping. I still have a couple of things to get but, for the most part, I am through.

And then, I came home and wrapped everything. I love taking nondescript boxes and making them beautiful with paper and ribbon. I love giving presents, too.

When I was shopping this morning, a very nice young lady was helping me select a special gift. When I finally made up my mind, she asked “and what about you?” I suppose I could have bought something for myself, too, but why?

This is the season of giving. Not the season of gifts, but of giving to others. It doesn't matter how much the gift costs, or how beautiful the wrapping paper is. What matters is that I have something tangible to give to another. Something that represents the intangible feelings that I have for that person.

A bag of oranges says “I care about you and I want to give you something to show you how I feel.” A plate of cookies says the same thing. Or a “coupon” for a back rub, or making dinner, or vacuuming the house. Money is not the gift. Time, effort, love and caring. That's the gift.

If that sounds like too much, then don't participate. Really, don't. If gift-giving is a chore, then they aren't really gifts, are they?


Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Attitude is Everything...

I woke up this morning a little out of sorts. In the “victim” mode, slightly. I had something to eat and read a new magazine I purchased yesterday.

There were stories in it about other people's lives, other people's struggles, and other people's victories. And I realized: I am the architect of my life. I can choose to meet things head on or wallow in my sense of unmet entitlements.

Not that I have anything to wallow in, it just feels that way, sometimes. And then I read things. Yesterday, Elizabeth Edwards lost her battle with cancer. Just two and a half weeks before Christmas, her children are without their mother.

No, when one loses one's mother is not nearly as important as the loss itself. Being closer to Christmas, or far from Christmas, does nothing to assuage the pain. Nor does the pain go away anytime soon.

But putting my efforts into feelings for those children took the focus off my own life. And made me put things in perspective, once again.

It's true: attitude is everything.


Monday, December 6, 2010

Living in the Moment....

A promise to myself:

Life is full of uncertainties. The only sure thing is the present moment. I am here. I am now.

For just this moment, I will live fully. I will hold close those I love. I will make something. I will smile and think about all the good that happens in this moment.

As this moment passes from the now into a memory, I will relish the next moment I am given, too.

Living in the moment. One moment at a time.

Until there are no more moments....

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Power of Words...

This is not news, of course, but something to ponder once in awhile.

Words can inspire. Words can incite. Words can comfort. Words can hurt. Yet, we hurl words around all day, every day, without thinking about their impact.

Words are more powerful than we know, at times. One ill-conceived sentence, thrown out on the wind, can cause ripples of hurt and sorrow. Or a misunderstanding. Or ill will. Or a misinterpretation of intentions.

Today I will stop and think before speaking. I will say what is in my heart, yet protect my listener's heart, too. I will use words with kindness, and save the harsh words for someone, or something, else. I will see my words as they land on others' ears, and I will look at how my words make others feel.

My words will be powerful. And comforting. And kind.


Saturday, December 4, 2010


I woke up during the night to the sound of rain on the roof.

It is such a pleasant sound, if your roof doesn't leak. Hearing the rain, and feeling warm and cozy in my bed, I fell back asleep quickly.

Many of us are so fortunate: we have a roof over our heads and a warm bed to sleep in. That doesn't seem like much, perhaps, unless you don't have it.

So, here's wishing everyone on this planet, regardless of other circumstances, a roof over their heads at night and a warm bed of their own.

Not a big wish, but an important one.

Friday, December 3, 2010


I didn't sleep well last night. I was worried about something. You would think that, at my age, I would learn not to give in to needless worry.

Not so. I worried most of the night. It reminded me of the days when I worked in the Operating Room, for some reason. I lost a lot of sleep back then, too.

I would worry about how things were going to turn out the next day. After making the team assignments for the next day, and looking at all the scheduled surgeries, I worried that we wouldn't have enough staff to get everything done.

And it never failed: we always pulled through and things turned out much better than I had imagined during my sleepless night. Needless worry, I guess.

This morning, I made a phone call and got two questions answered. And learned—again--something about myself:

I worry too much.....

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Sparkle and Shine....

I have been cleaning my house. Little by little, interrupted by pain, at times. But that's all right: I have the time and the inclination to clean. It gives me such pleasure to see things sparkle and shine. And it costs virtually nothing. It's truly a simple pleasure.

And now, with hardwood floors shining, windows sparkling, dust and dirt banished, it's time to put up the Christmas tree. A faux tree, but a tree nonetheless. Almost seven feet tall, perfectly shaped, and ready to receive the special baubles that I have collected.

Tonight, when it gets dark, I will light the tree and sit in front of it, mesmerized by the beauty of it all. Every year, I think my tree is the most beautiful, ever. And every year, it is.

Wishing you a clean house and a Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

The Art of Happy-Ness

Happiness truly is homemade. We have to look inward to find happiness. It doesn't come from others, or from things. It comes from within.

There are many things I can do to initiate happy feelings:

Pet my dogs.

Walk in the sunshine.

Spend time with a good friend.

See the ocean again.

Marvel at a sunrise, or sunset.

Watch the stars twinkling in the sky.

Read a book.

Watch a movie that I love.

Decorate my house for Christmas.

Call my children.

Bake cookies.

Spend quiet time, meditating on what is important to me. And what is not.

Give myself permission to play hookey from my responsibilities.

At least, for a little while.....