Monday, April 29, 2019

Happy Birthday dad

We all seem to have fears about getting older. Millions of dollars are spent each day trying to reverse the signs of aging, hiding wrinkles and grey hair. We all seem to be running as fast as we can to avoid the inevitable – growing older. 


This dogged pursuit of eternal youth is not a healthy way to deal with the normal aging process. I have been giving a lot of thought to the idea of growing older. This past week I was incredibly fortunate to help throw a surprise party for my 90-year-old father. It was a headache at times, juggling schedules, preparing food, etc., but the party was a big success. It also taught me some important lessons. 


While getting older can be challenging sometimes, there is so much wisdom in the experience of growing older. We know so much more than we did when we were younger. As I enjoyed the party, I got a chance to observe my Dad. At one point, as everyone was chatting with relatives they had not seem in awhile, my Dad was busy playing with his great grandchildren, letting them hit his birthday balloon.


And when everyone was clamoring for pictures and organizing everyone to sit next to him, my dad sat and calmly continued to eat his birthday cake. 

He wasn’t in a hurry; he was just enjoying himself. 
We all could all learn some important lessons from my Dad. 

Monday, March 18, 2019

Writing is hard!

 I am going to be very vulnerable and share my current struggles with writing. Writing is really hard. Finding the time to be able to focus and put words down on paper is a struggle. It is so much easier to simply get distracted by the black hole that is social media. And the times when I actually do manage to get the creative juices flowing, I often get interrupted by my hubby or dog or phone and – poof – the words that were just sitting in my head vanish. I am not trying to be a whiner or make excuses, but I am trying to take a hard look at my lack of progress on my writing goals. 
 One of the most uncomfortable moments for me is when I run into someone I haven’t seen in quite awhile. Inevitable they ask, “Are you still writing?” While this is a well-meaning question, it causes me to flounder and mumble something to the effect of yes, but I haven’t published anything lately.  This moment is uncomfortable because it forces me to look at myself and acknowledge that I am not being as focused and as goal-driven as I would like to be.  While my existing books still trickle in a few sales here and there, for the most part I cannot say I am currently working on any one specific writing project. That is not to say I don’t have ideas, in fact I usually have far too many ideas and I have trouble with focusing and finishing any of my existing projects. 
 I need to change my approach and treat my writing like a job, scheduling time to complete a certain number of words or pages per day. I know this is how most professional writers do it. For me the biggest stumbling block is the self-doubt that anyone will actually want to read my book – which is absurd because as an avid reader I know there are people who will be interested in my books if I could just acquire the self-discipline to actually get them written. For the past several years I have included a goal of completing X number of books during the upcoming year, and yet I have failed to accomplish this year after year. It seems clear that I have to change my tactics if I am going to accomplish this goal. Committing to complete at least 1-2 pages per day is a much better goal, allowing me to take on the writing in smaller and more achievable chunks. It is time to make this happen. 
I have the ideas – now I need to push myself to get those ideas onto paper.

Saturday, February 9, 2019

My 4-Minute Life Story

My 4-Minute Life Story

I’m still participating in the NYT 30 Day Well Challenge, and while I haven’t done every single daily challenge, I am trying to complete as many of them as I can.
Today’s challenge is a bit different, for this challenge I am supposed to sit down with my partner and tell my life story in four minutes, and then have them share their story – also only in four minutes. For those of you wondering why on earth this would be part of a wellness challenge, the research involved in this task comes from a study about closeness. According to the NYT, the bottom line is that the series of questions allowed for self-disclosure between two people, which can lead to greater intimacy. Telling someone a brief life story is a form of self-disclosure and will help you feel closer to your partner. I am so very fortunate to have an incredible level of closeness and emotional intimacy with my husband, but I do know that not everyone has that. And let’s face it – every relationship could use more intimacy to stay healthy. 

I also think that sharing your story with another person is a good opportunity for self-reflection. We all need to take a moment to understand and appreciate our own story and our own uniqueness.
I have chosen to share my story on my blog because not only will my hubby take the time to read it (even though he already knows my story) but he will ask me questions and be genuinely interested in what I had to share. And yes, I will ask him to share his story too – even though I feel like I know his story because relationships are always about supporting each other, listening to each other and really taking the time to understand each other. 
So here goes…..
I grew up on Long Island, as the youngest of six children. We were the very definition of middle class. My father was a police officer and later my mother went back to school to become a nurse. We lived in a very typical 1960’s split-level home where I shared a bedroom with one of my sisters. 

My family moved out to Arizona when I was nine years old, so I consider myself a semi-native. The remainder of my childhood was spent in Tucson. I spent lots of time out doors and I loved swimming in our family pool. 

Having a large family meant there was always something going on at our house. Television wasn’t what it is today, and watch our favorite shows was often a family event, with the exception of my mother’s proclivity for daytime soap operas. 

We spend several vacations on the beaches of San Diego and we managed to visit many of the special spots around Arizona, including of course the Grand Canyon – which my father described as a big hole. 

Having a big family is both a blessing and a curse, and while I always knew I had five older siblings who would defend and protect me from all outside enemies, I was fair game for abuse and ridicule within our household. My brother liked to try out his new wrestling moves on me.  My siblings still tease me about the time I walked up to Circle K for milk and returned home with bread. 

Tucson was a good place to grow up; it was small and safe and had an easy lifestyle. After finishing high school I ventured up to Tempe to attend ASU where I met my husband. After graduation we moved up to Washington State so he could pursue work. 

After six long wet years in the Pacific Northwest we returned to the sunny southwest and both got jobs in Phoenix as we adjusted to parenthood.  A couple years later we had our second daughter and school, sports, girl scouts and the like consumed our lives.  These were happy years, watching the girl grow into amazing young women. 

This is where my story takes a sharp turn. My husband of 23 years was facing some inner demons and decided to take his own life. This was not something anyone saw coming. The next few years were a struggle to find my new path forward. 

With the help of some incredible family and friends I did manage to move ahead, and I found a new life, including a new partner to share it with. We enjoy each and every day together.

My daughters are grown, I have a grandson who is the light of my life, and I have begun to achieve my lifelong dream of traveling.  It was a long road getting here, but what an amazing journey it’s been.

That is probably more than 4 minutes, but it’s my story. 

Friday, January 4, 2019

New York Times Well Challenge Day 1


My friend posted on her Facebook page about joining the New York Times Well Challenge, which involves a series of daily prompts to help you focus on wellness. The prompts are focused in four areas; Move, Refresh, Connect and Nourish. I decided that I could always use more focus on being well so I joined in the fun.

For my first daily challenge I was asked to write a letter to myself describing what a successful well challenge means to me. Since I love writing this seems like a great first challenge to complete.

What does a successful well challenge mean to me?

The ideas of move, refresh, connect and nourish are central to overall wellness. For me personally working on the first word – move is going to be extremely important. I have often focused on the need to get fit or physically healthy, but I have often failed to recognize the importance of moving simply for the joy of it. This creates a situation where moving begins to have a negative connotation. That’s why I am so excited that my husband bought 2 kayaks for my Christmas gift. 

The idea of paddling across a lake or gliding down a calm river sounds amazing and is exactly the kind of “move” that I need; focusing on the joy of movement not just forcing myself to get on a treadmill at the YMCA.  I am also excited to have a new Apple Watch because it has features that remind me to stand and move more. With little reminders, my watch helps to hold me accountable to make good decisions for my body. 

Another great feature of the watch is an app that reminds me to focus and deep breathe. This is a great reminder for the need to refresh.  Life can come fast and while I am stressing about bills and my job and my very messy house that needs to be cleaned, the ability to just slow down and take a deep breath is so important.

The third part of the challenge is connect, and while so many of us use social media to reach out, connecting with friends in real life and finding time to be together is important. I am so lucky to have a wonderful tribe of friends and I have tried to keep these friendships a priority in my life. I attend a monthly book club with the most fabulous group of women. I actively participate in my local democratic legislative district and have met so many wonderful people there, and I make an effort to stay connected to friends. I had a wonderful holiday season, spending some positive family time not only with my husband, grandson and my daughters, but also my nieces and nephews as well. We played games, laughed and even went to an escape room together. These connections are so positive, I am grateful every time that I get to be with them.

The last part of the challenge is nourish, and for me taking time to read and time to write, as well as spend time in nature are the things that help me to nourish my soul.  Eating well and getting back to good food choices will nourish my body. Focusing on hydration is another important part of taking care of my self. After a very self-indulgent holiday season my body is craving healthy nutrition.  

I do not know exactly what this #NYTWellChallenge will bring in coming days, but if I can focus on finding joyful movement each day, using my technology tools to help remind me to move and to breathe, making connections a priority and remembering to nourish my body and soul, then I think I will be successful at this challenge. 
I am looking forward to seeing the daily prompts and learning from them.

If you are interested in the NYT Well Challenge you can find out more at https://www.nytimes.com/programs/well-challenge 

Monday, December 31, 2018

2018 was another amazing year!



It is incredible how much faster time flies when you get older. It feels like only yesterday this New Year began with a bright promise, and now it is already Dec 31stand we are getting ready to ring in another new year.  

Perhaps time seems faster as I watch my grandson grow bigger and more charming each and every day. He is absolutely prefect and I treasure every minute that I get to spend with him. Being a Grandma makes everything new and wonderful again – so spending the holiday season with him has been so wonderful. 

Time also seems to fly when I spend time with my crazy and very lovable husband. Peter makes me laugh every single day and no matter how we spend time together we really enjoy being in each other’s company. 

Time is rushing forward toward my next big travel adventure, going to Greece this spring. I have managed to take one big trip each of the last three years, with visits to Iceland, Thailand and now my upcoming trip to Greece. I have also made many, many trips to Tennessee to spend time with my daughter and grandson. Planning these trips has been so exciting and so far they have been spectacular.

Even though it feels like 2018 has come and gone so quickly, as I look back I have so many things to be grateful for  and I cannot wait to see all of the amazing things that 2019 will have in store for me.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Movie Review: The Man Who Invented Christmas

I felt like watching something for the holidays, but I was not in the mood for another corny Hallmark Holiday special so I scrolled though the movies available on Amazon Prime and decided on “The Man Who Invented Christmas”. This film, based on the book The Man Who Invented Christmas: How Charles Dickens's A Christmas Carol Rescued His Career and Revived Our Holiday Spirits by Les Standiford is a fascinating look at the author Charles Dickens and how he came up with his iconic Scrooge character and the story of A Christmas Carol.  

I found this movie captivating. What I enjoyed the most was the visualization of Dicken's writing process, and how the characters in his story reveal themselves to him.  The movie uses actors and actresses that interact with Dickens during his writing process, as he discovers the story that these characters share with him.  Dickens wrestles with some of his own inner demons as he envisions his character Scrooge battling with the Christmas spirits. 

As an author, I appreciated the ability to see into the mind and imagination of Dickens as he wrestles with the characters, and I felt his frustration as he was interrupted just as he was making progress on the story.  I find that my writing process is somewhat similar, thought not nearly as dramatic as Dickens is portrayed.  I can actually hear the dialogue in my head as my book characters interact, and my fingers sometimes struggle to keep up with the cascading thoughts as my imagination begins to swirl in a story.  I related to the frustration as a perfect piece of the story disappears from my brain because I was interrupted mid-thought. 

This movie was charming and at times chaotic, and it gave me a new and deeper love for A Christmas Carol. I hope that the ideas really did come to Dickens in the way the movie presented. I believe that all good authors draw upon their own experiences to add their unique voice to their writing. 

Before watching this movie I had no idea that Christmas was not widely celebrated until after the publication of this story, so while Dickens didn’t actually invent Christmas, he did help change how it was celebrated not just in England but across the United States and the rest of the world as well.  

I really enjoyed The Man Who Invented Christmas and I would recommend it highly to help you get into the holiday mood.  

Monday, November 19, 2018

Being thankful

I am incredibly thankful.

I have so much to be thankful for

Despite the fact that I have a bad cold and I am sitting on the couch surrounded by tissues and cold medicine, I am spending time thinking about how truly grateful I am for everything in my life. I could be moaning and groaning because let’s face it no one likes being sick, especially right before a holiday weekend, but a cold is just a temporary annoyance.  

Thanksgiving offers all of us a wonderful chance to reflect on everything that we have to be thankful for, and I have an embarrassment of riches in my life.

·      I have a wonderful husband. I am thankful every single day that he came into my life.  He isn’t perfect, but he is absolutely perfect for me. He makes my life better every single day.  

·      I have two of the most amazing incredible children in the world. My two daughters make me so proud every single moment. I know that all parents think their children are exceptional, but my daughters give me reasons every day to be proud of them.

·      I have a grandson who is the light of my life. He is already such a kind and caring person and I am excited and grateful each and every day to watch him grow into the amazing person he is becoming. 

·      I have a beautiful home. It is a place that is warm and welcoming. I love coming home each day and feeling that special contentment that our home brings.

·      I have the sweetest dog. I am so grateful she came into our lives. She adds so much joy to our home each and every day. 

·      Other than this annoying cold right now, I am grateful for my health. I am working on losing weight, but I am able to do all the things I want to. I don’t have any major health problems and that really is something to be grateful for every single day.

·      I have a wacky and wonderful family that I am grateful for. My father is 89 years old and even though he is struggling with health issues, I get to spend time with him and I know that is something to celebrate and be especially grateful for. I have wonderful siblings who are all so different and I know that they love me – each in their own way. I have the most amazing nieces and nephews and I treasure my relationship with all of them. I am even lucky enough to have beautiful great nieces and nephews. 

·      I have a fun car to drive. I had always wanted a convertible and it does add a lot of joy to my life. There is nothing quite like driving along with the top down on a warm and sunny day. 

·      I have had the privilege of travelling across the world. I have been to Europe and Asia and across most of this country. I am grateful every single day for the ability to travel and see new places and learn about different cultures. 

·      I have really wonderful friends. Some I see often and others I see only sometimes, but they are always in my thoughts. Friendships make our lives richer and I am very rich indeed with some of the most wonderful people that I am honored to call friend.

·      I am so grateful for all of the experiences that make my life more fun. I love being able to watch my beloved Sun Devils with my husband. Our evenings watching ASU basketball make me so happy. Having things we love to do together adds so much to our lives.

·      I am thankful for my kindle and my ridiculously large collection of books. I love reading and my books bring me great joy.

·      I am thankful to live in Arizona where the weather is beautiful for so much of the year. The warm sunny days offer so many opportunities to enjoy being outdoors. 

·      I am so thankful that we have enough money to pay our bills and even have enough to splurge once in awhile on fun things like basketball tickets or Christmas decorations. I know that there are so many people who do not have that privilege. 

There are so many more things I could add to this list. Expressing gratitude for the many wonderful things in your life can make a big difference.  Being thankful is actually healthier. “Studies show that people who more frequently think about and express gratitude tend to be happier and less lonely or anxious. They cope better with stress and trauma and are more forgiving, helpful and empathetic.”

This holiday weekend enjoy your turkey dinner and spend some time thinking about your life and what you are thankful for. If you have a few minutes, write your list down – and occasionally take out your list during the upcoming year, reminding yourself of the many things you are thankful for.