Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday Favorites

My favorites this week:
  • Right this minute it's snowing.  Blustery wind chasing tiny flakes that cover everything like powdered sugar.  It feels right, because it is January, for heaven's sake.
  • Getting the oil changed in the car.  That's done and I can mark it off my list for another 3,000 miles.
  • Chinese food
  • Meeting my brother at a mom-and-pop cafe for breakfast.  Instead of the usual fancy coffee shop.  Drinking plain old coffee and eating an English muffin.  I think we'll do this more often. 
  • Trading in a bunch of my old books at the local used book store and coming away with two new (for me) Sandra Dallas books. For free!
  • store credit at Kohl's
  • Friends and family who listen. And listen. And listen.
  • Lilly's ears.  If you could feel how soft they are, they would be on your favorite list, too.
 That's more than five, but still joining up with Susanne's Friday's Fave Five.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

For the girls

You know all those e-mail chain letters that talk about how important it is to have girlfriends in your life?  "The power of girlfriends," those females in your life who always have your back.

They say things like, "Research shows that having girlfriends will help you live longer and reduce your chances of catching a cold."  They claim that women who have lots of girlfriends have fewer chances of contracting chronic diseases or psychological impairments.  Or if by chance you do have these things, having girlfriends will give you a better chance of healing.

Well, all these things are true.  Especially that last one.

If it wasn't for my girlfriends, my psychological impairments would have done me in by now.  My girlfriends know how to talk to me, soothe me with Godiva bars and insist I go get a massage by giving me a gift card so that I have no excuses.

Now, this isn't to dismiss the fact that I have a gem of a husband.  For 28 years, he has been by my side and he's my rock.  But, there's still room in my life for my girlfriends, especially since my husband is 1) a male and 2) an engineer.

We all know that guys just don't communicate the way girls do.  Girls like to talk a subject to death.  We like to sweep out the dirt from the corners, shake out the rugs, open the windows and let the air in.  Then empty the dustpan in the middle of the room, and start all over again.

My husband doesn't see the point in all that.  Most men don't.

So, if you haven't done so lately, reach out to eight of your girlfriends and tell them you love 'em.  And then tell them to reach out to eight of their girlfriends.  And then, those girls can tell eight of their girlfriends how very special they are.  And soon, we'll all be feeling the love, which is the way it should be.

Because, really.  Where would we be without our girlfriends?

Monday, January 23, 2012

This Weekend, I . . .

  • saw a movie by myself.  The Iron Lady with Meryl Streep, the story of Margaret Thatcher.  Loved it.
  • had lunch with a friend
  • had a job interview
  • got a new job!
  • made spaghetti sauce. Lots of it, so I could freeze some.
  • went grocery shopping
  • watched I Don't Know How She Does It on pay-per-view.  Sarah Jessica Parker, Greg Kinnear, Pierce Brosnan.  Dan and I both enjoyed this one.  
  • Quilted.  Quilted some more.
  • Talked to my dad on the phone
  • Talked to #1 son on the phone
  • Lost interest in football because all of my teams are out
How was your weekend?

Friday, January 20, 2012

Friday Favorites

I'm overdue in joining Susanne's Friday Fave Five this year.  Here are some of the blessings thrown my way this past week.

1.  A softball scrimmage on Sunday.  The weather has been so mild this month, it was hard to believe that we were outside, watching a game, drinking cold beverages and eating peanuts -- in January!

2.  Eating out at a new Italian restaurant last night, with Dan, my Aunt Ann and Luke.  A cozy foursome, red checked table clothes and a gracious Italian waiter.  And the food was delicious!

3.  Finding a new, independent coffee shop.  Dan and I have been there twice and have a favorite table by the window where we can watch the pedestrians and traffic go by on an old fashioned Main Street.

4.  Really, really good chocolate.  My friend gave me a bar of Godiva -- a "just because" present -- and I savored it

5.  Rediscovering the joy in quilting.  Working the needle through layers of fabric and batting has a meditative, peaceful quality.  I do a lot of thinking and praying when I quilt.

I hope your week was full of blessings, too.

Monday, January 16, 2012

Monday, Monday

January 16, 2012
Feeling: Happy to be home today
Hearing: Let It Go by Tim McGraw 

Outside today . . . the sun just broke through a very gray, cloudy sky.  It is cold outside and everything looks a bit 'dirty' since the snow melted last week.

Around the house. . . washing machine is going, dryer is humming, dishes in the dishwasher are clean and ready to be put away.  Just finished paying bills.

Martin Luther King Day . . .   so there is no school.  Dan took last week off, so he went in to work today.  Kids are sleeping in, so it's quiet around the house.

I am reading. . .  Breakfast with Buddha by Roland Merullo and just loving it.  I've even read passages aloud to Dan.  What a hoot!  Just what we both need.

What's cookin'. . . I have no idea.  I need to go through the freezer and make up some menu plans.

I am sewing . . . on this quilt.  My mother started it and never had a chance to finish it. It is a family quilt, all the squares made by my sisters-in-law, cousin, aunt, Mom and me. 

It's a good day for . . .  brewing a pot of tea.  I found this teapot on ebay a few years ago.  I love it, because it is just like the one my mom had when I was growing up, except hers was green.  I remember how it was such a treat for us, when she would brew a pot of tea and we would have tea and "sugar bread."

Quote for the Day:
Nobody grows old merely by living a number of years. We grow old by deserting our ideals. Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul.
~Samuel Ullman

How is your Monday going?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Stock Show

Yesterday, we took the day off from all of the myriad of responsibilities and to-do lists that we've been buried under, and went to the Stock Show.  As in the National Western Stock Show, the super bowl of stock shows, a mainstay in Denver since it was a town with just a bunch of cow trails.

It was perfect weather.  Snowy and cold, wet and sloppy, as we headed from the main coliseum to outlying buildings such as the horse arena and cow barns.  Going from the freezing cold into one of the warm stock buildings is all part of the experience -- entering the building and being enveloped by the warm air and the smell of horses and hay and dirt.

Add a toasty, sweet funnel cake to the mix, and there you have it . . . the Stock Show.

We spent an hour or more watching Team Cutting.  A team of three cowboys/girls on horseback are given the task of separating three calves from a small herd of 30.  Not just any three.  The little doggies are all numbered, so the team has to 'cut out' three specific calves . . . and gather them in a pen on the other side of the arena.  Sounds easy enough, but the crazy little critters don't want to leave their friends.  And the clock is running.  The fastest time was 27 seconds. 27 seconds!  I couldn't even get my three kids -- when they were just little guys -- into the car, in 27 seconds.  

We spent a lot of time wandering through the horse barn. We browsed through the hundred million booths at the trade show.  There were so many things for sale.  Everything from earrings to cowboy hats and boots, to horse trailers and portable corrals, to beef jerky and ear tags.
We wandered through the cow barn and watched little 4H kids shampooing gigantic bulls and then using blow dryers to make their coats look like black velvet.  And it reminded me that I need to go home and give Lilly a bath.

And then we went home and cleaned off our boots.

The End.  

Monday, January 2, 2012

A New Year

Three of my favorite things:  New Year's Day,  a brand new calendar and a fresh start.  For the past two years, I've written a letter on January 1st, sealed it and kept it in my desk to be read on the December 31st.  I read my 2011 letter last night.  Oh good grief, so many plans that I'd forgotten about!

And I think that's where I go wrong in making resolutions.  Thinking I can use them to plan out my year.  What's the saying about, "if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans?"

Last year, I had a list of things I wanted to accomplish, books to read, ways to help my family achieve Goals A, B or C.  My kids are getting older, one has left the nest, one has one foot in the door and the other outside, and the third is in high school.  So, I foolishly thought that I would finally get some semblance of control in my life.

That's when God throws me a curve ball and knocks me on my behind and I lay sprawled out in the dirt.  Exactly which pitch He threw isn't all that important. He gets to choose the pitch. (Go ahead and cringe at my lame baseball analogies).  But the point is He reminded me that I don't get to choose  my challenges.  I only get to choose how I'm going to respond to them. 

My 2011 New Year's Day letter was filled with reflections about my life and how I would like to work on some things to improve myself.  Before opening it on December 31, just a few days ago, I thought about how the year had gone and what I'd learned from it. Oh, and boy did I learn some things! In fact I was feeling a little smug about how much I've learned.  Then, upon opening the letter, I had to laugh at how far the lessons were from what I anticipated and planned.  It was as though God took my letter and put it through His great big shredder and rubbing His palms together said,  "Okay, Miss Smartypants, here's the way it's going to be."

2011 was a year filled with lessons that I sure as heck did not want any part of.  I was challenged to my core and forced to learn character traits that have never been easy for me.  Patience, letting go of control, using a softer touch rather than always carrying a big stick.  It was exhausting.  Who am I kidding, it is exhausting, as I'm still learning.

Thankfully, unlike baseball, I get more than three strikes.  I get God's gift of grace.  His grace is like every day being New Year's Day or Monday.  What I love about having a fresh start on the calendar, is a fraction of what grace is every minute of the day.  God's assistance.  God raining strength down upon me whenever I need it. 

So, instead of trying to plan out my life this year, I'm going to concentrate on being a better receiver.  And when those pitches come a flyin' I want to be in better form to learn my lessons and receive all that grace.

There's one tradition that I'm going to continue in 2012, and that is choosing a word for the year.  The word I've chosen is a dull word, a word that even makes me yawn. It may seem contradictory to my reflections of being open to God's lessons.  But, in order to be in my best form, I need to get serious about some changes in my life as far as my health -- physical and  mental and spiritual.  And for that I need discipline. I'm going to focus on seeing discipline in a new way.

I read a blog post recently that quoted a passage from Catholic author Matthew Kelly.  I heard Matthew speak at program about a year ago and bought his book, Rediscovering Catholicism.  I appreciated it for many of the insights that he presented about the Church, but one part I'd forgotten about  was brought to my attention through this blog.  And I wish I could remember which blog it was, but I just copied down the quote from the book:

Discipline is the faithful friend who will introduce you to your true self.  Discipline is the worthy protector who will defend you from your lesser self.  And discipline is the extraordinary mentor who will challenge you to become the best version of yourself and all God created you to be. (Matthew Kelly)

Discipline is such an old-fashioned idea.  The very though of it is dry and tasteless and boring.  But it is the means to so many of the ends that I want in my life.  So, this year is going to be about Discipline.

(LOL). That's God laughing at me.  We'll see how it goes.