Sweet company

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Tonight’s band concert for the middle school and high school was the last holiday concert of many over the past few weeks. It was a great concert to end the season with and I thoroughly enjoyed the music…and the unexpected company.

As it isn’t my night with the girls, I went to the concert solo and expected to be sitting alone through the entire thing. Happily, I was wrong. I had just sat down and was arranging my camera and phone on my lap when I felt a familiar sweet presence. I looked up to find my youngest daughter Jaycie grinning at me in her bunny earmuffs. I thought she had just come to say hi, but it turned out that she wanted to sit with me for the entire concert. To say I was happy is an understatement!

Jaycie settled beside me and I encouraged her to remove her earmuffs and jacket before she melted in the hot auditorium. The concert began shortly after and we both watched and listened with great interest. During one of the band changes, Jaycie looked over at me smiling and said “I love you, Mommy!” and gave me a sweet little kiss on the cheek. That certainly made my night! πŸ™‚

Jaycie is a very sweet soul and I’m so grateful she kept me company tonight. It made the concert truly magical and warmed this mama’s heart.

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Winter writing, walking, and winging it!

winter field

December has arrived with cloudy skies and temperatures dropping into the teens by tonight. One would expect such frigid temperatures this time of year in Upstate NY, but considering that yesterday it was 50 degrees with occasional sun, I’m thinking it wise to expect the unexpected this month.

Along that thought, I’ve already decided something unexpected this month and that is to post a new blog entry every day in December. I was slacking a bit in November with the holidays and having to write my college research paper, but now that the paper is done and I know exactly what I’m getting for gifts for my girls, I can focus on writing for pleasure again! I don’t want my pursuit of a writing career and writing-based college degree to kill my love of writing so it’s best that I continue to express myself with the usual rambling Julie here.

Writing rambling or writing serious work are both easier when it’s cold outside. What isn’t easy when it’s cold outside is working up the motivation to walk Jazzmin. Nonetheless, she and I both benefit from our walks so I vow to walk every day in December! If there are days when it’s -20 with a wind chill we might not make it out, but I’ll do my best to make up for it with more than one walk a day if necessary! Jazzmin could walk forever so I’m certainly not worried about tiring her out and considering how much I love Chex Mix and sweets during this time of year, I could use the beneficial tiring out. πŸ˜‰

Another thing that tires me out is overthinking. I don’t know if overthinking is just part of being a writer or if it’s just an unrelated malady I have, but it’s an exhausting quirk. I’m constantly thinking of the “what ifs” and “shoulda coulda wouldas” of life and all it does is make me overly anxious and waste my energy. Therefore, for my third W of winter (or at least for December) I’ve decided to wing it. As in go where the wind blows me and not worry so dang much about things I can’t control.

I know two very potent remedies for my overthinking and they’re beading and writing in fantasy books. When I use my overly active mind in my handmade creations, I’m amazed with my own capabilities. Focusing my highly excitable imagination into my writing has helped me come up with plots lines and character developments that astound me. I believe that if I just let go of my worries and allow hope, inspiration, and faith flow freely, I’ll finally be able to break through my writer’s block and create stories the world will love to read. πŸ™‚

Tis the season for sappy holiday movies

It seems like the holiday season starts earlier every year, but I don’t particularly mind. Christmas decorations at Halloween are excessive but I’ve grown so used to it, I don’t notice it that much anymore. It also helps that I only leave my house to get groceries and other necessities and avoid the busy malls as much as possible. I’ve been buying my gifts online for years now and it’s ideal for me and anyone else who has ever worked retail and loathes the thought of holiday crowds.

There’s one particular aspect of the holidays that I didn’t realize started so early until this year and that’s the showing of sappy holiday movies. There was a time when I’d grumble and huff about them starting so soon, but not this year. For various reasons, I’m okay with kicking off the holidays sooner than usual. In fact, I already have a string of colored lights up in my living room at the request of my youngest daughter and I rather like the soft glow of them in the evening.

It’s by the soft glow of those holiday lights that I’ve been watching the sappy holiday movies in the evenings when I don’t have my girls. The movies are predictable to put it mildly. They’re filled with attractive single people who can’t find love or who have been scorned by love and then poof! The holidays happen and there’s magically someone new in their lives that they fall in love with. The blossoming relationship hits some sort of snag about a half hour before the movie ends but then everything works out happily within the last 5-10 minutes. Despite the fact that such a sappy holiday movie plot has yet to come true in my life, I still believe in love and don’t mind watching happy holiday endings.

I don’t expect Hallmark or Lifetime to make a sappy holiday movie that even remotely mimics my life. The plot would revolve around a single mother in her late 30’s who lives in the middle of nowhere (and I do mean nowhere), spends her days as a semi-recluse writing freelance from home, has two crazy kittens that alternate trying to snuggle up her nose with climbing the walls, has a dog as her constant shadow, trips over a bowling ball black cat named after a bird, and has basically no social life. Not much of a plot because it wouldn’t go anywhere interesting. No big holiday parties to attend, no social events in town, and no local friends to throw fun bashes..equals a most boring plot.

My loyal snuggle buddies on the couch with me.

My loyal snuggle buddies on the couch with me.

Daisy being a goof laying under the decorative rug in front of the fridge.

Daisy being a goof laying under the decorative rug in front of the fridge.

Nighty night, Mama!

Nighty night, Mama!

Last year I was able to go out to New England a couple of times over the holidays but that’s not in the cards this year. I enjoyed the holiday parties I went to out there and relished in the feeling that I was part of something outside of my little “cave” in Upstate NY. I’ll get back to New England in the New Year and will definitely make more holiday parties out there part of my 2015 plans. Nevertheless, for this year, it will just be me, my girls, and my small family or just me and my crazy household of animals. Perhaps someday I’ll know romantic love again or maybe I’ll just become a “crazy cat lady” πŸ˜‰ but no matter what, I know I have many blessings to be thankful for!

The kittens love using each other as pillows. :)

The kittens love using each other as pillows. πŸ™‚

Black labs and bass guitars

Such a sweet black lab!

Such a sweet black lab!

I had a plan for today…and I should know by now that making a plan is unwise because the universe always finds a way to disrupt my plans. I intended to work all day on my freelance jobs and I started strong doing a heavily researched piece for a new client. I had just started my second writing job when I noticed movement out of the corner of my eye. I focused my attention to the world outside my living room window and realized there was a black dog running along the shoulder of the road by my front pine trees.

A few moments later, a car came up the road and thankfully slowed down to avoid hitting the pup, but I knew it wasn’t wise to leave the poor pup out there at the mercy of traffic. I quickly stood up from my chair and walked swiftly out onto my front deck. I reached the side of the deck and whistled at the pup a few times until I caught her attention. I called out “Come here, puppy!” and she dashed over happily with her tail wagging fast enough to propel her onward. The moment she reached me, I realized she was the same black lab who had appeared in my yard last year around this time. She is extremely friendly and obviously well-fed with white around her muzzle indicating she’s not exactly a puppy. When I told her to sit, she rolled over onto her back instead and started wiggling happily around.

As I had an old bag of dog food that Jazzmin no longer liked, I went in the house and fetched a bowl and a scoop of food for the black lab. Jazzmin was extremely excited upon seeing the black lab outside, but I kept the two separated, as I had no idea how the lab was with other dogs. Figuring the lab had probably only recently gained its freedom, I put Jazz in her crate with her peanut butter-filled Kong, placed one of Jazz’s collars on the lab, clicked on the leash and decided to walk down the road in search of the pup’s owners. I knocked on a couple doors where it looked like people would be home but no one answered. One woman did answer her door and she was very friendly but said she didn’t know to whom the dog belonged. It was the first time I’d met any of my neighbors aside from the ones right next door and I suppose walking around with the lost lab was one way to become more social πŸ˜‰

Squirrel?!

Squirrel?!

After ringing the doorbells on every house where it looked like people were home, finding no owners, and being chased off by three barking beagles, I decided to head back home with the lab. She acted as if she hadn’t been on a leash very much as she pulled, jumped, and danced happily around sniffing everything in sight. I was able to rein her in pretty well but it was kind of like walking a small bear. It certainly put in perspective how well-behaved Jazzmin is on the leash now.

Thankfully, when I headed back out with the lab later, I learned from my closest neighbor that she belonged to a house on the corner and that it wasn’t unusual for her to get out when the wind blew the door open. Armed with that useful knowledge, I walked her up the road and returned her safely home. After that, I took Jazz for a walk and let her sniff around everywhere outside where the lab had been so she would be reassured that her “competition” was no longer on the property.

With that interruption to my day complete, I finished my second writing assignment and set to work continuing the task of reorganizing my living room. For me, reorganizing always involves making a huge mess as I sort through things before I find neater places for all those things and put them away. Amid that reorganizing, I moved something that was holding up my left-handed bass guitar and said guitar fell happily on my arm leaving a mark. I took that as a sign that it’s time for me to get it out and try playing it again, so I tucked it somewhere it won’t fall on me and went about my business.

My sexy, red left-handed bass guitar.

My sexy, red, left-handed bass guitar.

At last, I accomplished my planned tasks of moving a storage cabinet intended to hold the dog supplies, reorganizing the shoes with some repurposed racks, and relocating a large storage ottoman buried under piles of papers. Now all I need is a bookshelf for the living room and I’ll finally have a place for everything! While it took me much longer than I expected and had unplanned interruptions, I accomplished a lot today and toasted myself with a nice, cool glass of homemade red wine. A perfect Friday night in for this very tired superchick. πŸ˜‰

You Can Call Me Al

I listen to Pandora and lately it’s been adding new songs into my mix that aren’t new to me at all. Songs from my younger years like “You Can Call Me Al” by Paul Simon. Even though I’ve heard the song countless times, somehow hearing it now fills me with renewed happiness and fond memories. I remember watching the video for the song and loving how Chevy Chase lip-synced the words while Paul Simon went along with it. That song is just one of manyΒ that make me want to dance and I’ve been doing a lot of spontaneous dancing today because I’m HAPPY!Β 

I have numerous things to be happy about every single day such as my beautiful daughters, my good health, my adorable pup, my career as a freelance writer, the fact that I own a house solo, and so much more! Today I’m especially happy because last night I was finally able to turn off all the “noise” clogging up my energy and listen to what my heart and spirit were telling me. I had one of those amazing moments yesterday evening where something inside me just “shifted” and suddenly I knew exactly what I had to do regarding a certain situation. Once I did what felt right, everything fell back into place and the shadows on my future path cleared revealing a totally new direction.

I know how easy it is to succumb to shadows and fall into negative thinking, especially because losing my father dropped me down into a deeper ravine than I knew existed. Dwelling in those “safe” shadows would have taken absolutely no effort, but fighting my way out of them took every ounce of strength within me. Once I found the light again, I never wanted to lose it!

I’ve always tried to be a very positive person but the death of my father really put that positivity to the test. As much as being without my father hurts my heart, I know that he wants me to continue on my positive journey and to shine my light to benefit the world around me. My father always greeted me with “Hey, beautiful!” and he saw the beauty inside me that no other man I’ve loved has bothered to discover or appreciate yet. My dad has the right one lined up for me I know he does, but the right one hasn’t found me yet.

As the years since my father’s death and my divorce have passed, I’ve realized that everything happens for a reason. I never expected to be still single three years after my divorce, but I am and I’m okay with that. Being single this long has allowed me to discover who I truly am without a man by my side. I know that if I’d gone into another relationship right after being divorced, it would have turned out just as poorly as all my previous relationships. I can’t define who I am by whom I’m with and I don’t think anyone should.Β 

So today my spirit felt lighter than it has for a while and I wondered why I ever allowed the shadows back in. Somehow, I’d forgotten how much fun it was to dance around in my kitchen, in my chair, and with the dog in the middle of the living room. Yes, Jazzmin thinks I’m nuts when I’m dancing, but she senses my happy energy and wants to join in somehow. Dancing might not be her idea of fun, but she loves her mama and goes along for the ride. I know she won’t mind if I call her Betty and I’m just fine with her calling me Al. πŸ˜‰

The power of pizza!

Love on a pizza :)

Love on a pizza πŸ™‚

During my Friday night grocery shopping trip, I picked up a can of Pillsbury’s Pizza Crust because I was planning to make pizza tonight. Usually I buy the store’s ball of dough and fight with it until it mostly fits on the pizza pan. I decided I wasn’t up for that fight this weekend so I grabbed the Pillsbury version instead. A simple-seeming thing but with nostalgic significance.

I’m not sure when it started, but I can remember my family using that particular pizza dough to make many pizzas. It was so convenient to just pop open the can and roll the dough out on a cookie sheet and I can completely understand why my parents opted to use it instead of other dough. When I made the pizza tonight, happy memories flooded back to me the moment I smelled that familiar dough. Pillsbury dough has a distinct taste and smell, much different from the store brand of dough or homemade crust.

As I rolled the dough out onto the cookie sheet, I suddenly decided that the girls and I were going eat in the living room tonight and watch an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. Long before my family started using the Pillsbury dough, I remember that one night a week we would order pizza and watch the original Star Trek reruns on the TV in the family room. It was a real treat eating in the family room, I loved sitting on the floor with my plate on the coffee table, and my eyes glued on Star Trek. My father loved Star Trek and I grew up loving it too. Every time I watch Star Trek TNG now, I remember watching it with him and going to the Star Trek movies with him. It makes me miss him but it also reminds me that he’s always with me in spirit.

The simple act of buying that pizza dough transformed tonight into a tribute to my father’s memory and I was inspired to arrange the meatballs on the cheese in a heart shape. My daughters thought I was loopy of course, but that’s okay. As a further tribute to my father, I had a glass of the root beer in my fridge that went flat long ago. My father would always drink the flat pop and that’s another of his traits I inherited. There’s something to be said about not having bubbles going up my nose making me sneeze.Β 

Sitting on the floor of my living room with my girls as we watched the first episode of the second season of TNG filled me with happiness and contentment. Carrying on traditions, even ones as silly as eating pizza while watching Star Trek, help me keep the memory of my father alive and insure that my girls never forget their amazing grandfather.

All dressed up…for groceries?

Rocking the beaded jewelry I made.

Rocking the beaded jewelry I made…and a new scrape on my knuckle because I’m a klutz…

I went out last night. It wasn’t exactly a hot date with myself, just out to get groceries, but I decided to “glam” myself up a bit for the heck of it. Glamming up for me is putting in contacts (usually I’m wearing my librarian glasses), curling my hair, putting on some lipstick and accenting my lashes with clear mascara. I will occasionally put eye shadow and blush on too as part of this glam process but I hate foundation because it always feels like paint and it hides my adorable freckles. Most of the time I don’t wear any kind of makeup and I’m happiest that way. My future guy will never have to worry that I’ll look scary “without my face on” because my face is usually natural, bare, and beautiful πŸ˜‰

I haven’t curled my hair in several months but I managed not to burn myself with the curling iron, which is always an impressive feat! One side of my hair always takes the curl better than the other side but overall I was pleased with how it came out. I then donned a black headband to keep a majority of my hair out of my face and off my neck a bit. I put on my blue peasant blouse top and my favorite pair of jeans. Last night was the first time I’ve worn jeans since spring and I was quite happy that they were comfy and properly accented my assets. I have to wear a belt with today’s jeans because they refuse to stay up properly even though I have curves in all the right places. I also have to cut 3-4 inches off the cuffs jeans because I’m apparently too short for today’s fashions. Since when is 5’5″ short?!

After closing Jazz safely in her crate with her peanut butter filled Kong, I donned my black flats and headed out. It actually felt really good to be dressed up to go out. Practice for future dates perhaps. I wasn’t expecting to find my future guy at the grocery store. I go to the grocery store all the time and have yet to see anyone who strikes my fancy. Regardless, there’s nothing wrong with looking good for myself and being confident in my beauty, as I’m sure my fellow single ladies understand.

I’d promised to treat myself to some Chinese food and sushi if I got my work done that day and as I had, I headed to the grocery store food court as soon as I arrived. Their versions of that food aren’t the greatest, but they’re the safest option I’ve found around where I live. I grabbed some spicy salmon sushi and loaded up on a variety of Chinese and Indian selections from the food stations. I ended up with enough food to last me through several meals, which is fine because I like to plan meals ahead.

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Enough food for the week!

Finding a small table by the windows, I sat down and began sampling my choices. Some of them were a bit spicier than I expected and the sushi fell a bit flat but overall, I was content. After eating perhaps 1/4 of the food I had, I tucked the containers into my cart and headed out into the rest of the store to get the few groceries on my list.

Friday night tends to be busy at grocery stores and the aisles were full of couples and families filling their carts. As usual, I was dismayed by how grumpy so many couples and families seem to be together. They don’t seem to appreciate how lucky and blessed they are. I do understand that grocery shopping is an unpleasant chore for people, but honestly, every single moment counts and life it too unpredictable to waste being unhappy. I was happy with myself for going out, glamming up, and grabbing the grocery cart of life with both hands.

So exhausting being me ;)

So exhausting being me πŸ˜‰