Saturday, March 30, 2013

Bring It On!

Dear Diary,

This time of Holy Week has got me thinking.  Christians have two celebrations that are biggies: 


In my own little warped way, similar to a Would You Rather game, I asked myself if I had to choose between the two, which celebration could I not live without? (If you have trouble with double negatives like I do, I am asking, essentially, which do I like the best?)

Of course I am glad I can celebrate BOTH!  But for me and many others, Easter is the grand
 of Christian celebrations.  The creme de la creme.  The piece de resistance.  The observance to end all other observances.

I don't think I am going out on a limb to say that the world probably would choose the other.  I'm thinking the jolly, round man wins the popularity contest over the hairy rodent, cute as he is.

("Tommy, the Easter Bunny is watching you!" doesn't have the same ring to it.  And "Egg on a Shelf" would just roll off and make a mess.)

True, Christmas is a wonderfully happy time.  It is full of awe factor and awww factor (as in "awww, what a cute baby!").

But Easter doesn't just make me happy.  In fact, in the days preceding it I can -- and should -- feel sad.  But that is what makes the joy so much sweeter! 

My joy at Easter is deeper than Christmas joy.  It is spiritual. It is physical.  I can feel it fluttering inside my chest, quickening my heart rate, bringing tears to my eyes, simultaneously lifting my spirit and the corners of my mouth.

I can feel the perfect LOVE of God, demonstrated on the cross by a Savior who is Resurrected! 
My mourning turns to dancing on Easter!

So while I enjoyed Christmas, bring on Easter!
Bring on the JOY!

He is Risen, He is Risen indeed!


Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Apparently I Have a Problem

Dear Diary,

I'm feeling a little like a guilty youngster right now. 

I had a recent routine physical, and had to fill out that wonderful form prior to seeing the doctor.  You know the one.  It has multiple columns describing multiple symptoms from multiple areas of the body.  Aside from the fact that I felt fine when I walked into the doctors office but now, suddenly, am overwhelmed with an onslaught of symptoms that any hypochondriac would rival, I now also need to reveal: 
a) if I am a smoker (no)
b) do I drink alcohol (yes)
and c) if yes, how much?  (1x week).

One time a week.  That was my most truthful, ballpark guess-timate.  Who is really counting, right?  Well, the doctor, I guess.  She actually called me on it:  "Oh, you have a drink once a week?  Wine?" 

"Uhhhh, yeah.  Or a beer if I'm hankerin' for it.  But mostly it's wine, I guess."

This conversation was on Monday, the morning after having been entertained with dinner and wine at a friend's home.  Weekly wine allotment: check.

Back at the doctor, I am told I will have a fasting blood draw in two days.  Fine.  It's an easy 10-hour fast the night prior.

Except that was the night I decided to have a GNO with a coupl'a margaritas, Downton Abbey on Netflix, and a soul sister.  All well-before the fast began, but, still, wondering if the alcohol and the guacamole were going to affect my cholesterol levels the next morning (and the doctor would somehow "see" I was drinking neither wine nor beer on a Tuesday night!!).  Mucho agua went through this body before la sangre went out.

Now it's over. 
The blood has been drawn. 
I've had wine and margaritas....
Tonight was taco night. 
My generous husband offered me a beer. 
Why sure, I respond.  What a nice compliment to my taco! 

Whoa!  Three drinks and the week is barely half-finished? 
I would not be keeping a mental tally had it not been for that moment with the doctor.

Now you know why I am feeling like a guilty youngster. 
Not because of the three drinks so far this week.

Because I don't know how to count.


Saturday, March 23, 2013

My Top Five

Dear Diary,
Recently I came across this saying, which expresses my feelings rather well -- especially in light of the prolonged winter weather we, in the Midwest, are currently experiencing.

I do try to look at the world with rose colored glasses. So rather than pining about my current inability to live in warmer climes, I have decided to try to find five reasons to be glad I live here, in the Midwest.  Here goes:

Perhaps Baby Jesus didn't have a snow-covered manger (and the neon-lit palm tree probably captures the aura of his birthplace better than a tinseled evergreen), but I just think Christmas yard decor looks better with a layer of snow under it.

Easter eggs are less prone to spoiling in a 30-degree-wind-chill egg hunt.

I only have to hear people complain about the heat/humidity two months out of the year.

I am boosting the economy in my quest for the most healing lotions, moisturizers, saline sprays and drops.

And the #1 reason I am glad I live in the Midwest: 
Hurricane season is not one of our four.

Feelin' rosy,

Monday, March 18, 2013

Strive to Thrive

Dear Diary,
Today I thought I'd share a little of what I have been learning about myself over the last few weeks since the start of my new job.

I'm calling it

LJ's Strive to Thrive and Not Just Survive Guide

When in the tunnel moments of life, here are a few handy tips to help me stay focused on the light in the distance.
  • Enlighten myself about others who are in worse situations than I.  Seriously!  The I'm so glad I'm not THAT person mentality can be therapeutic.  This may sound callous but, truly, I do not mean it to be.  A sure way to be thankful and count my blessings is by getting tangibly or spiritually involved in the lives of others who are in troubled times.  [ is a great place to get started.]
  • Remind myself that my situation is only for a season.  Granted, some seasons (like winter, for instance) seem longer than others, but there will be an end -- or at least a change.
  • Smile!  Plaster it on!  Try not to burden others (other than very close friends) with sudden outbursts or rants of self-pity.  Really.  It may feel good to unload one's burden at the time, but it is not pretty to those unsuspecting acquaintances caught off guard after routinely asking, "How are you?"
  • Call mom.  She is the only person God made who is obligated to listen to her offspring's pity parties without repercussions or bias and with complete sympathy.  But understand:  Once dumped on, she is also just as obligated to offer her advice.  As a mom myself, I understand this balance.  When mom is not home, dad can serve as stand-in.
  • Keep a couple of prayer warrior friends up to date.  Again, try not to wallow too much.  We want to keep our friends.  Debbie Downer is not invited to every party.
  • Here's the last important tip:  Find the nearest Trader Joe's.  Purchase a couple of boxes of Dark Chocolate Almonds.  Label byline: Roasted almonds drenched in dark chocolate and sprinkled with sea salt and turbinado sugar.  I don't know what turbinado sugar is, and, frankly, I don't care.  If you are a sweet-and-salt nut like I am, this is the comfort snack to beat all.  [It also makes a great gift, hostess or otherwise, hence the need to buy more than one box.  Coincidentally, my birthday is next month.]
If anyone has their own handy tips to add, please comment!

Striving to Thrive,

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Finding My Groove

Dear Diary,
I can't find an hour to myself these days. 

It is hard getting used to working again.  At home I am always feeling rushed to get things done -- and this is only the priority items (like fashioning dinner out of a frozen block of chicken breasts in less than 30 minutes); the toilet scrubbing just has to wait.  In time I will relearn to budget my time.  I have done it before.  After much hub-bub and drama -- literally-- my kids' extra-curricular schedules are winding down to a slower pace. 

Tonight I got a reminder call from a charity to which I donate household items.  I have no idea what happened to my "reminder postcard," so I never got the pickup date marked on the calendar.  Read between the lines:  I never collected any gently used items for tomorrow's pickup. 

For once, I was happy to have answered the reminder phone call.  And how fortunate that I cleaned out some cabinets a few weeks ago.  I didn't know then that I would be scrambling tonight to gather some bags full of stuff.  A quick scan of my closet and out go a few blouses and sweaters I haven't worn in a long while, or just don't fit like they used to. (ahem.)

Maybe that's the best way for me to clean out:  go into the closet with an empty bag and desperate intentions.  It makes for a quick separation of what would otherwise be a lengthy, emotional disposal process.

Back to the prioritizing....

So, we've run out of shampoo and are using our travel bottles until I find time to get more.
And, yeah, the school notes are piling up and I'm sure I owe some money to someone for some collection or field trip of some sort. (Don't get me started on the library fines.)
And, yes, I miss my carefree writing time here in my diary.

But I will find my groove. 
Some days, like today, will have a happy ending. 

And someone who needs it more than I will be getting a gently used blouse out of the deal.
That's a good day.

Gettin' my groove on,

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

More Than Meets the Eye

Dear Diary,

I'm feeling old.  Well, maybe more like "out of sorts."

When one hits the mid 40s, one becomes used to the term ma'am instead of miss.  I was first called ma'am when I was in my late 20s, by a dental assistant who wasn't much younger than me.  Boy, did my day go down hill from there.  How many people can say they remember the moment that moniker was applied to them?  Yes, traumatic.

But at this point -- at 44 -- I am impervious to the ma'am label.  There are other reasons I am feeling out of sorts these days.

I am in a new work environment.  After being a work-at-home mom for almost a year, the mental transition hasn't been easy.  The well-spring of emotions that this job has elicited will be expounded upon another day, perhaps. 

Picture an elementary school setting.  Not only am I surrounded by young children, but by fertile young teachers with the makeup and hair and clothes to go with.  A silly statement, but I bet most readers get what I mean.

There are a few of us seasoned folk sprinkled into the mix.  The days of pregnancies, potty training struggles, and preschool programs are long gone for me.  Since I no longer fall into the Young Marrieds category, I feel like a middle-aged alien wandering the halls of the school.  OK, I exaggerate a bit, but still, the thoughts of "I don't fit in" pop into my head at least once a day.

When I look at this honestly, I know I am feeling this way because I am comparing myself to these women.  Women who on the outside appear to be put together, golden highlights, baby bumps and all.  Lunchroom talk about ultrasounds, overseas adoptions and sick toddlers have me nodding and smiling either in sympathy or in polite agreement.  (I am the newbie so these people are still perfect strangers to me. I can't offer up much more than this at this stage anyway.) 

I miss the Young Married stage and the energy, exuberance and honeymoon attitude that goes with it. Although, I feel equiped to handle it so much better now that I am in my 5th decade!  I can see why grandparenting is the best!

I think I am mourning what I had, and which I now have to greet in the faces of these women on a daily basis. 

Make no mistake.  I love, love, love the life I am leading now.  I am blessed despite life's hardballs. 

In time I will get to know these women who, right now, are only two-dimensional figures of youth and happiness. 

There is more than meets the eye.  And in time, I pray they will find this true of me too.