Long Time Coming

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I have not looked at my blog in almost a year. I’ve thought off and on about it, but words just weren’t coming to me anymore.  So why now?  A few weeks ago, I received an unexpected email.  The subject line: Angel Gowns. It took me a minute, but when I opened it, I was so surprised and happy; I became a bit emotional.  It was from the seamstress I had mailed my wedding dress to over a year ago.  My gown was sent to her for the purpose of making Angel Gowns, gowns for still-born babies or babies that never make it home. It was an idea prompted by a friend who had lost a baby at birth. Sending that gown off was a very emotional process. My post,  The Gown, will shed more light on that.  Donna, the seamstress, said it would take several months for her to make the gowns, but she would send pictures when they were complete.  I waited all summer and fall. The pictures never came. To say the least, I was disappointed.  I came to the conclusion I would not see any pictures and not know what truly became of my gown. Life got busy and I stopped thinking about it.

When I read her email and saw the pictures, I remembered how much I had looked forward to sharing the pictures with everyone. It’s been a long time coming and I’m a little rusty, but here I am, back to my blog.

Below is the email and some of the Angel Gowns.

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angel gown1       angel gown3                                       angel gown2       angel gown4

 

 

 

 

15 years

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The other day, the little house I bought when I was a single 29-year-old popped into my mind. It wasn’t anything extravagant;  a little 3-bedroom ranch, in an ok part of town. But it was mine. Where it was didn’t  seem too important. I never expected to be in it all that long. “The long drive to work will be ok,” I thought to myself,  “I don’t need to go out so much anyway. I will  be fine for a few years.” Just seemed like the thing to do.  I ended up being there for 15 years.

A lot happened during those 15 years in that little house; tons of miles on my car, new job, lots of dates, marriage, baby showers for friends, weddings. There were Thanksgiving and Christmas gatherings, going away parties, new friendships, and then separation, divorce and losing my dad … Yes .. A lot happened. Made me think about my recent townhouse purchase. This time, if I stay for 15 years, I will be 63.  63 … I have repeated that number in my head now for a few days. Does not sound possible.

Those 15 years in my little house felt so short, yet a lifetime seemed to happen there. Staying here in my townhouse isn’t mandatory, but if I do, what will these walls witness?  Will I be happy here? Things are so very different now.  Twelve years ago, a life with someone and having a family was a possibility; that, or at least part of that, has slipped away.  What else and who else will slip away? Who might enter my life?  Will the years fly by so quickly again?  Will I spend them alone? These are things I never put much thought into in the past, but time has become more insistent; it’s telling me it waits for no one or anything.

I have no real plan on how to proceed with my future.  I’m not sure if that’s good or bad.  Plans can go terribly wrong and leave you disappointed or worse yet, heartbroken.  No plan, and I may drift aimlessly about or become a hermit and binge watch Netflix.  Neither sounds appealing. So for now, I’m going to plan to at least not let either happen.  I may need some company on this journey so please leave any comments or thoughts you have on dealing with the inevitable process of aging.

***Note – this little 63 moment I had freaked me out so much, I spent an hour in a half on the phone with a financial advisor. I must at least have a plan to support my cats ….

Don’t woo me with words and leave me hanging

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actions

Today’s dating world is miles apart from the dating days of my youth. And I say that with a smirk.  I never dated until I was in college. Maybe I missed out on the basics 101 of dating?  Still though, it was a time before cell phones, Facebook, texting and online dating.  People met through friends, at school or out somewhere; a conversation ensued and numbers were exchanged.  A date was arranged and the guy would pick up the girl and out they would go for drinks or dinner or a movie.  Time was spent together along with long chats on the phone. Oh how things have changed.  Now, your fate depends on a left or right swipe and a short paragraph that’s supposed to grab someone’s attention. Introductions are made through text or emails. To think about how many texts I’ve received over the past five years is mind boggling.  Conversations have been diminished  to short little texts with an emoji that’s supposed to express the mood of the words… which aren’t even words anymore… BFF, BRB, LOL, WRUD…. And sexting. Really???  I’ve never felt less sexy.  And for someone to push that in my face when they don’t even know me, well… it’s a bit degrading.  How are you supposed to get to know someone that way?  You can’t.  Relationships aren’t built on emojis and dirty one-liners from pornos. Does anyone have basic conversation skills anymore?  Men and women have enough communication problems without this mess.

I could fill pages ranting on texting in the dating arena and dating in general. I admit, I rely heavily on texting concerning my friends.  But in dating, no.. It should not be the main mode of communication when trying to get to know someone. When that becomes the case,  I’ve learned to pay attention to actions. “Actions speak louder than words.” It’s a saying we’ve all heard but pay little attention.  Words are easy.  Made even easier by the impersonal text, which is also very one-dimensional.  With text, you have no references: was there a joking smile with a comment or a wink of an eye?  Was their tone of voice serious?  Did the person look away or make eye contact?  There’s no touch of a hand for reassurance.  It’s not a good vehicle to share and express emotions and feelings. We read into them what we want.   I was seeing someone who knew exactly what to say to me.  He flattered me with  sweet little texts every morning and throughout the day and I fell for it.   Who doesn’t want to hear they are beautiful?  Isn’t it wonderful to read that someone’s thinking of you and wants to see you?  It was short-lived bliss.  When confronted with the question  “when will I see you?” and all he had were excuses, the gig was up.  The sweet sentiment of his words were lost on his actions.

Begging someone to be apart of our lives shouldn’t be a part of the dating equation.  If it is, then it’s not meant to be.  We shouldn’t be left wondering what that I ♥ U!! truly means or if  WRUD really means they are interested and want to see us.  Our actions reveal our true intentions.  If feelings are mutual, finding time to talk and be together is something you just do. It’s really that simple.

 

 

 

Finding Passion Again

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beading stuff

To say I used to be into beading and jewelry making is a slight understatement. I was slightly obsessed with it.  That was before I got married, about 15 or so years ago. The collection of beading supplies accumulated during those couple of years and I delighted in making pieces for friends and family. But life changes; the ex took over the craft room playing online racing games with his friends.  Not a conducive atmosphere for creativity.  Things got packed away.

I’ve not thought too much about that stuff in a long time, but it has survived the past two cuts of purging. The thought of donating it would flit through my brain – briefly, but ultimately, it would just get packed away  again and forgotten.  Until…  I was out shopping with a friend last week and saw a few pieces of crocheted beaded jewelry I really liked.  Then I looked at the price.   Ouch.  Thrifty has become a state-of-mind for me. If I think it’s something I can do myself, I won’t buy it. I started thinking about my beading hoard in the storage closet.  It haunted me for a week.  Yesterday, I took a trip to Michael’s , bought myself a crochet needle and cord and  decided to teach myself some simple crocheting (which is not so simple…).  Last night, after years of being packed away, the storage container came out and my eyes feasted on all of my beading treasures.

I spent an hour sifting through all of the trinkets: different beads and stones, wire, threading material, findings, pliers, snips etc. Thoughts of how I poured myself into a piece I was making crossed my mind.  Hours were spent at the craft store searching for the perfect beads or stones.  Once home, I would spend another few hours arranging and rearranging the beads and stones on my bead board until I found a pattern that felt right.  Then the stringing and wire process would begin.  I would be lost in concentration not thinking or worrying about anything else.  And at the end, with a stiff neck and sore fingers,  I would take a deep breath and smile at the completed piece of jewelry.

To be honest, I’ve felt a bit restless, unfocused, uninspired and unfulfilled for the last several years, except when I was traveling and that’s not an option at the moment.   My little crate seating patio project was the first glint of creativity and feeling good I’ve had in a long time.  It was a bit like finishing a piece of jewelry.  Taking an idea and seeing it through and having something done by my own hands.  So why have I waited so long to bring out the trinkets stashed away in the closet?  Why do we give up on things we know make us happy, yet spend so much energy on things that only bring us misery?

crochetRight now, I have too much time to think about things; Netflix and I are getting way too close and the dating scene does not seem to agree with me. On top of that, I’ve promised myself to keep a better tab on my spending. I really want that beaded crocheted-wrap bracelet in the store, but I’m going to make it.  This crochet thing may be a little tricky, but that’s ok.  I have plenty of time to myself to work on that skill.  And what better way to indulge myself than to reignite an old love and find some passion in it again.

Who’s That in the Mirror?

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Mature-Woman-Mirror1“You look good for your age.” I can’t decide if that’s a compliment or not?   Growing up and through my twenties and thirties, I always looked a little younger.   That appears to be diminishing.  Now, I look in the mirror and its seems as though I’ve aged 5 years in the past 2.  I actually pulled up a picture of myself from 2013 and compared it to a current picture.   Ugh, have the past 2 ½ years really been that stressful or has the stress from the last 6 years finally caught up with me?

My nighttime ritual of washing my face and brushing my teeth now includes a study in the mirror; pulling my skin back and up with my hands to see my former self.   Things are becoming a little more prevalent now:  the sag in the jaw line (jowls… sounds so sexy), deepening smile lines and multiplying wrinkles at the corners of my eyes, not to mention the circles under my eyes, which I’ve always battled.  My forehead is carved with lines and is inching down my face, hooding my eyes and making them look tired.  The gray hair is coming in thicker and wire-y; lovely when they stick straight up in my part.  Unfortunately, these things I expected and since I have no plans to have plastic surgery or use Botox, it’s going to happen.  I’m not thrilled about it, but as they say, the lines we develop show that we’ve lived life.  What I’m not prepared for are the other changes going on.

Last week, I started taking a class at a place call The Bar Method. Its exercise at a ballet bar:  lots of isometric holds, push ups and crunches and is actually quite hard.  A few other ladies my age have braved the class, but it’s mostly slender, young twenty-something-year olds.  I feel really short in class.  With floor-length mirrors on two walls, it’s not hard to notice EVERYTHING.  As we hold our arms up, I notice the swag of flesh waving underneath.  Standing next to a rather tall young lady, I see my hips and thighs bulging against my black yoga leggings; I try to pull my top down a little more.  As we do crunches, the wrinkles on my neck and chest scream at me; the sun spots and uneven skin tone accentuated even more by the lights.  All those years of sunbathing are finally showing their true face. All of this has caught me a little off guard.  The gym has been a part of my life since the early ‘90’s and I have stayed in relatively good shape.  Sure, there were some times I got slack and put some pounds on (in my brief marriage of 3 ½ years, I packed on 20 pounds).  But for the most part, all’s been good.  In those days, if I put on a few, it wasn’t extremely hard to drop them.  Now, the pounds cling to me despite how much I fight it.  Things are sagging and wagging.

Yes, I know I should not compare myself to others, especially to much younger women and I’m not striving to look like a twenty-something year old. In fact, most who do so end up looking very odd and plastic-y.  I have definitely earned my wrinkles. I don’t, however, want my body to get old before it’s time.  I want to be out doing things and in my head and heart, I’m no older than… let’s say, 30.  Because of that, I tend to forget that I’m entering the high-maintenance phase of my life.  It’s as if my body is yelling, “HEY LADY, you’re not 25 anymore!!  You can’t take a month off from the gym, eat pizza every Friday night and drink beer every weekend and expect things to stay in place.”   I am now well aware of this.

I’m trying to fight back. I’ve signed up for the Bar Method class for 6 weeks and I’ve promised myself to get in some walking too.  I toyed with trying to get back into running…. But NO.   That is one thing I don’t want to put the body through again.  I can do this with that stress.  Motivation is my weak point, or I should say, staying motivated.. and my love of eating.  I have to look at this like a project – a DIY project of sorts – to restore this 48-year-old body and feel good in it again.

Aside

Yes, I have come to that time in life when friends are turning a half century old. I’m trying not to give them too hard of a time. I will be there soon.

Here’s a little something I did for a friend and his big 5-0…

Turning 50

I came upon a good friend who appeared in distress.
I pondered a moment, slightly worried, I confess.
This is not very like this good friend of mine;
He’s usually quite happy and not one to whine.

I asked “What’s the matter?
You’re thoughts seem quite scattered.”
Today is my birthday,” he replied with a sigh.
“I turn 50 today; A half a century has flown by.”

He seemed quite in despair.
He rattled on, “I’m losing my hair;
My bones crack and pop and my energy, well, it’s lacking.
I just want to send this growing old thing packing.”

I smiled and nodded, “I understand you completely,
But don’t look at age quite so bleakly.
You have two lovely children and a beautiful wife.
Quite frankly, you’ve had quite a wonder life.”

“I’m excited to see what the next years bring you.
Travels, celebrations, grandchildren maybe? Just a few?
Age is a number that lives in our heads,
The rumors and myths of it, we should just put to bed.”

“Still though, I am younger;
And very delighted to be.
I’m happy you are 50,
And that it’s not me.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

That time in life

In the name of Frugality

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In the name of Frugality

Sometimes I make things harder on myself than need be; the more difficult route  seems to call my name.  Yesterday, I spent the entire afternoon and most of the evening working on my patio.  I’ve had visions in my head of a cozy place to sit outside and relax.  Easy enough right?  Well, apparently my visions have expensive taste. The furniture I pictured, well, let’s just say, was slightly out of my already-tight budget.

Plan B. Wooden pallets.  I watch too much HGTV and peruse  Pinterest too much.  The wheels in my head start churning and I mentally start making all these plans to do this and that without really thinking through how I will actually  do this and that.  Searching “wooden pallet projects” on Pinterest is like opening the DYI’ers closet of dreams.  I thought to myself, “I’ve used pallets successfully in the past so why not again?”

palletsThis time however, the pallets seemed heavier and bigger. After lugging them up a hill and onto my patio, I had trouble moving them around.  Their sizes were slightly different, they weren’t conforming to the idea in my head and I was one short.  I flipped them, moved them around and finally decided other things had to be changed on the patio first, which lead to digging up the flower bed,  potting a gardenia and moving the table.  Finally able to get the pallets into a configuration that worked, they had to be sanded; they were a splintery mess.  As I sanded and the sweat dripped from my nose, I thought about my last experience with pallets.  Conveniently, I had not recalled the work that went into it.  I just remembered how pleased I was when it was completed.  I sanded some more, stopped to pull out a splinter and mumbled to myself, “Should have just plopped some patio furniture on the credit card, ugh.”

Back aching and getting a little sunburned, I was finally ready to paint; just plain white and only the parts that showed. At this point, I wasn’t going for perfection.  “I’ll shoot for the bohemian, shabby look…”painted pallets

Painting complete, I spent the next 10 minutes scrubbing paint off my hands and arms.  I’m a messy painter. Then I moved potted plants around from here to there and fiddled with the table trying to get it to sit correctly in the now defunct flower bed. “Great, now I need to get pavers so the table will sit level.”

I had intended to get this far and stop for the day; I would go later in the week to buy cushions. However, when I get on a roll, I can’t sit until it’s done. So, at 6:00 pm I headed out to buy cushions.  I found some on sale and considered what sizes would work best.  I shopped around and found some solar lanterns on sale (I have a thing for lanterns) and headed home.  Anxious to see how they looked,  I didn’t even go inside first.  I pulled them out and started placing them and of course something wasn’t quite right.  Now 8:00 pm, I headed back to the store, returning one cushion and buying three others.  They worked.  Finally, the cozy little area I had hoped for was reality. Tired, bruised, back aching, I took a deep breath and exhaled.  Except for some tweaking I will no doubt do later, I was done and it looked pretty damn good.finished pallets

Yes, my frugality and my “sure, I can do that” attitude may kill me one day, but I  doubt the feeling of accomplishment would have been there had I just gone out and bought the standard patio furniture.  There aren’t many things I do on a  daily basis that make me feel accomplished. Like most people, my job is just that, a job.  It pays the bills.  I love the people I work with, but I push paper all day and stare at a computer.   There’s no creative process.  Maybe I subconsciously look for projects that challenge me a bit.   I use my brain and my hands to create something.  I have something to show for my day of work.  Do I bite off more than I can chew sometimes? Well, all I can say is every project I’ve started, from tiling a back splash to faux painting a living room with a vaulted ceiling, I’ve completed.  It’s an awesome feeling saying, “Yes, I did that.”

Now.. If I just had power tools….

 

Beach

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A warm, dense breeze caresses my face;
the taste of salt lingers in the air.

Light jumps and plays across the water;
waves rhythmically roll and crash on the shore.

My toes dig into soft, moist sand;
cool water laps at my feet.

Salty air fills my lungs;
bright, warm sun lulls my eyes closed.

My shoulders slide down from their hitched position;
the furrows in my brow relax.

My mind quiets.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lost Art of the Hand-Written Note

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hand noteHand-written, personal communication of any kind is a thing of the past; taken over by the quick text or short email hurriedly tapped out with little thought, only to get lost in the multitude of other texts and emails cluttering our Inboxes. They are glanced at and deleted.

I come from a family of letter writers, card and note senders. I use snail mail for birthday cards and Christmas cards, thank you notes – all with a handwritten note. I was taught to always send a thank you note for formal gifts (weddings, graduations, showers etc.) or to thank someone for their time or anything that may have been done that was out of their way. When someone acts surprised by receiving one, it makes me realize how unfortunate it is that note and letter writing has become a lost art.

Case in point, I am the editor of the company magazine at my organization. It is supposed to be a magazine for and by the associates, meaning professional writers are not doing the articles. It’s a lot of work, but the most difficult part is getting associates to write an article. I do get it; not everyone enjoys writing. So, when someone is persuaded to do so, I always include a hand-written note attached to a pre-mail copy of the issue with their article. I thank them for their time and say something I learned or enjoyed about the article and sign it. My hope is they realize their effort was very much appreciated. It takes me all of 2 or 3 minutes to do.

Yesterday, I received a voicemail from an associate in our Technical Service group; a techie guy. The team I work with on the magazine was after him for several months to write an article on an app they had put together that had done extremely well. I would have known nothing about it had it not been for his article. I sent him a note saying so and thanked him for doing it. His message was thanking me for my note. He really appreciated that note and thought “it was really nice touch.” My hope was realized. He got that I valued his time.  Isn’t that what everyone wants?

No one has time any more, or should I say, no one takes the time any more, to take the effort to actually write a note.  Such a seemingly small thing can mean a great deal to the one receiving it. We live in a time where everything is disposable; we rush through our hectic days without taking a moment to think about others. I don’t expect to hear back from those I send a thank you note to, but when I do, I am thankful I took those 2 or 3 minutes to put word to paper.

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