Think Write Thursday

A Sort of Balance



Generally speaking, I am not a Procrastinator.

What I am . . . is a Just-in-Timer.

I tend to get all the things I need to get done . . . done.   Always on time.   (Although sometimes right at the buzzer.)

So I may tell you all that I'm "needing to get started on my taxes."  
(Which is true.)  
But.  When are taxes due?  
(Yeah.  April 15.)  
Do I need to do them right now?  
I can guarantee you, though, I'll have my taxes finished and submitted in early April.

Because if I need to do something . . . and if it has a specific time frame or a deadline . . . I WILL get it done.

The problem, you see, is the things I just kinda sorta WANT to do.  You know . . . those things that have no meaningful deadline attached to them.
Like . . . removing the wallpaper and then painting my dining room.
I WANT to do that.  I really do.
But . . . because I have no specific time frame or deadline . . . I haven't quite started yet.

My solution to the kinda sorta thing?
I set "pretend" deadlines for myself.
Sometimes it works; sometimes it doesn't.  But when I set a "pretend" deadline, the chances are much better that I'll actually get moving on a project.

That's why my house is looking its best . . . whenever I host my book group or have a party.
That's why my garden is weeded and freshly deadheaded . . . whenever we're having folks over for a drink on the patio.
That's why I take art classes . . . to get myself busy painting or drawing so I have something to contribute and show.

It's a sort of balance for me.
Make my task meaningful - and, better yet, give it a deadline (even a fake deadline) - and I will do it.
Left to flail about on my own, though?  It will slip right through the cracks!

(As for my dining room?  It's going to take a while.  So I'm going to say . . . I want my dining room re-finished and painted by next Thanksgiving!)


Today's post is part of Think Write Thursday.  To read other posts on today's topic, click here. To sign up to receive the weekly prompts from Carole and Kat, click here.




From Your Biggest Fan


Dear Elizabeth Warren,

You are my hero.

Really.  It's that simple.

You are brave!  You are smart!  You are savvy!

You are not afraid to speak out, ask tough questions, demand answers, and insist on being heard.

You are awesome!

You keep right on persisting, Senator Warren.

With love,

Your Biggest Fan


And . . . you might be interested in reading this excellent article with handy tips and wisdom about getting out of the cycle of outrage in a Trump world.  It's really worth the read -- and provides great insight for all of us right now.


Today's post is part of Think Write Thursday.  To read more love letters today, click here.  And to sign up to receive the weekly prompts, click here.


Hello, February: A Mash-Up

Today is Thursday.  Which means . . . Think Write Thursday.  

But today is also February 2.  Which means . . . Silent Poetry Day.  (Actually, I don't know that Silent Poetry Day is actually A Thing in blog-land anymore; but it is for me.)   

(It also means Groundhog Day.  But I don't care about that so much.  Because winter is winter until it is spring -- whether a groundhog sees its shadow or not.)

So . . . let's see if I can manage a Think Write Thursday/Silent Poetry Day Mash-Up.


Hello, February.

Welcome!  I'm a big fan.


Well, for starters, you're Not January.  January is just so . . . long.  And bleak.  So dark.  

I celebrate your shortness.  
I celebrate the broken resolutions of the January People. (I know this isn't nice.  But it's true.)  
I celebrate the daylight, creeping in, ever-so-slowly, on your watch.  
I celebrate your color - red.  (One of my favorites.)
I celebrate your hearts.  And chocolate.  And a special day of love, right in your middle.

Speaking of love . . . 

Let's have a poem.  Because you, February (a month so focused on all things LOVE), appreciate poetry more than any other month.  N'est-ce pas, Février?

I Take Master Card
(Charge Your Love to Me)

by Nikki Giovanni

I've heard all the stories
'bout how you don't deserve me
'cause I'm so strong and beautiful and wonderful and you could
never live up to what I know I should have but I just want to let you know:

I take Master Card

You can love me as much as your heart can stand
then put the rest on
account and pay the interest
each month until we get this settled

You see we modern women do comprehend
that we deserve a whole lot more
than what is normally being offered but we are trying
to get aligned with the modern world

So baby you can love me all
you like 'cause you're pre-approved
and you don't have to sign on
the bottom line

Charge it up
'til we just can't take no more
it's the modern way

I take Master Card
to see your Visa
and I deal with a Discovery but I don't want any American Express
'cause like the Pointer Sisters say:  I need a slow hand


So.  Hello, February!  Let's have a good time.


Today's post is part of Think Write Thursday.  To see what other bloggers have to say about February, click here.  And to receive the weekly Think Write Thursday prompts, sign up here.


Mirror, Mirror On The Wall

If my mirror could talk . . . 

Okay, People.  
Here she is again.
Maybe -- just maybe -- she's gonna clean us today . . . 
please-oh-please-oh-please . . .
Aaaaand. . . . Nope.
She's just gonna put that gel in her hair again.
And you know what'll come next . . . of course.
Yeah.  The face cream.  And then the mascara.


She is NEVER satisfied.
Always floofing with the hair here.
Changing her earrings there.
Questioning the lighting.
Worrying about the eye bags.

Or. . . here's my personal favorite:
Does this make me look fat???????
Are you sure???????  
What about from the side???????
Does it match???????
(Right. There you go.  Ask the color blind guy.)

And that cursing!  
About . . . what?  
Wishing she'd started moisturizing her neck several decades ago?  
Really.  That needs to stop.  
Water under the bridge, I say.  
Too late now, I say.
Do what you can, but chill, I say.

Argh!!!  Here she is again.  
Checking for enlarged pores.  
Oh make it STOP!

For crying out loud, lady.  
You're nearly 58!!!!  
Let. It. GO!!!!!

You look fine.

And try to remember that the most important stuff of you . . . is not reflected in me, your mirror.  It's reflected in your actions, your words, your thoughts.

So, there.

And, next time. . . bring the Windex, would'ja?


Today's post is part of Think Write Thursday.  To read what everyone else's mirror has to say about them, click here.  And to sign up to receive the weekly prompts, click here.


Tea for Two

I was almost 3 when my sister was born.  When my mom was in the hospital following her birth (for a whole week) , I stayed with my grandmother during the day while my dad was at work.  I got a few new bribes toys from my parents during that "New Big Sister" week -- to entertain me while I was at my grandmother's not-so-child-friendly house.  My favorite was a miniature Blue Willow china tea set.


I was allowed to play with my tea set as a child, so most of my original pieces were broken.  Over the years, though, I've picked up replacement pieces at various antique shops.  It remains one of my favorite things -- and a wonderful reminder of a happy childhood.

I'm pretty sure that my original Blue Willow tea set inspired my life-long love of adult-sized tea sets -- and tea parties.


Tea parties are so simple . . .

Tea.  Milk and sugar.  Something sweet.

Nothing much to fuss about and easy to throw together.


Tea sets hold memories.

The teacups above were my grandmother's -- part of her Godey's Lady's china collection.  My first cup of tea - ever - was served in one of these tea cups.  My grandmother was very generous with the milk and sugar -- and used actual sugar CUBES, which were just kind of magical to me when I was little.  The teacups below belonged to my great grandmother - part of her "wedding china."


Tea parties are old-fashioned.

Like most people, I tend to meet my friends "for coffee" these days.  But every once in a while, I invite a friend over for tea.  I may not actually say, "Come to my tea party."  But I still get out the tea set.  And serve a sweet treat.  And probably have a little flower arrangement for the table.


Tea parties are elegant.

It just feels kind of special to drink tea from a lovely tea cup.  Makes you kind of want to stick that little pinky finger right out, y'know?  Sometimes, it's just nice to treat yourself and your guests to the ritual of a tea party.  And besides, it gives you a chance to get out your grandmother's old silver tea service!*


Tea parties are intimate.

Guests feel pampered and a bit special at a tea party.  Conversations tend to be more personal, because it just feels easier to share confidences with a tea cup in your hand.


So, although today's Think Write Thursday topic is all about hosting a dinner party, I'm going to go rogue . . . and give a tea party instead.

I'll get out my cheery yellow tablecloth.

And use my Spode Blue Italian tea set.

I'll put together a simple little centerpiece.

And make Ina Garten's Lemon Yogurt Cake.

And who would I invite?

Why . . . 

Michelle Obama, of course! 

Sugar, Michelle?


* Which I will not be picturing.  Because it so desperately needs polishing.  (Maybe another day.)


Today's post is part of Think Write Thursday.  To read other posts today, click here.  And to sign up to receive weekly prompts, click here.



Hey! January!

Dear January, 

You know, don't you . . . that I pretty much hate you?  That I place you in the category of Most-Hated-Months?  (Along with your partner-in-crime, February?)

Let's just start with your weather.  Snow.  Cold.  Freezing crappy rain.  Dark.  Dreary.  UGH.

You're also really long.  As in . . . feels like you will never end.

(And, oh-my-god . . . those January People at the gym?????)

But I'm trying.

I really am.


Because here's the deal, January.  You also offer a fresh start.  And I'm going to take you up on it.  

Whatever this new year requires of me, let me - in my own small way - be resolved to:

Do no harm;

Protect the vulnerable;

Oppose evil;

And be grateful every day.

Because I think this might be a tough year (on top of a tough year).  And I want to be:


Accounted for; 


Digging in.

(Of course, I'm also going to complain excessively about the January People at the gym, the unrelenting cold, the lack of sunshine, and the ice.

But I'll try to get along.

Really.  I will.

Let's make it work.  Okay, January?


Today's post is part of Think Write Thursday.  To read other contributions, click here.  And to sign up to receive the weekly prompts, click here.


Party Like It's . . . 1979!!!

We usually do . . . something . . . to celebrate New Year's Eve.  Sometimes parties.  Sometimes just staying home.  Usually going out for dinner.  (That's our recent MO:  a special dinner with friends at Food Dance - one of our favorite Kalamazoo restaurants.)  Whatever we do . . . we always watch the ball drop and count down to the new year together.  

Nice . . . in that kind of quiet and predictable way.

But.  It wasn't always like that!

Let's just send the clock back to . . . 1979 . . . shall we?  Back when this guy (looking a bit Luke Skywalker-ish) and this girl (with her Farrah-'do and oh-my-god-painter's pants) were A Thing.

Scan 8

Yep.  Tom and I were reunited for Christmas break (he was a senior at Boise State University; I was a junior at the University of Wyoming) -- and we were headed off to San Francisco for the New Year.

Because . . .  why not?  

A friend of ours - Steve - was headed to San Franciso for a medical school interview.  And he needed driving help.  (Isn't this how many adventures happen???)  Tom and I and another friend - Dave - were only too happy to oblige.  It became our most memorable New Year's Eve ever.  

We drove through the night, made a stop in Reno (where the boys all had fun gambling and I got kicked out of every casino we visited -- because they were all 21 - but I was not), and ended up in San Francisco.

While Steve interviewed, Tom and Dave and I took in the city. 

We visited Golden Gate Park (in the fog).

Scan 6

We climbed Coit Tower and enjoyed its exquisite views.

Scan 6

And this land-locked Illinois-to-Wyoming girl saw the ocean for the first time in her life.  

This is Seal Rock -- (where we actually did see seals).

Scan 3

And we spent some time on Baker Beach.*  (The waves kind of freaked me out -- because it was cold and I didn't want my shoes to get wet.)

Scan 6

And then - best of all - we celebrated New Year's Eve with the crowds (throngs) on the streets of San Francisco.  

It was SO AWESOME -- and so adventurous -- to welcome 1980 this way.

Scan 6

I'll never forget . . . me and the boys . . . on the streets of San Francisco.  No other New Year's Eve party or gathering will really compare.


*How do I remember - after 37 years - exactly where we were in San Francisco on that trip?  Why . . . because I made sweet little notes on the back of each trip photo.

Scan 6


This post is part of Think-Write-Thursday.  Be sure to read other New Year's Eve stories here, and sign up for the weekly prompts here.


More Than Just a Storage Solution - It's a Way of Life

When I read the prompt for this week's Think Write Thursday post, it made me chuckle.  How I stay positive when it feels like everything is going wrong.  Because ... well.  This has been my daily struggle for a while now.  Y'know?

So much going wrong.

So many attempts to stay positive.

So many ways this blog post could go.

Like . . . I could write about meditation and mindfulness practice.  (Because that helps.  A lot.)  Or I could write about journaling.  (Because that is essential for my well-being.)  Or I could write about the power of a good workout.  (Because pushing your body is powerful and sweat is GOOD.)  Or I could write about knitting or weeding or drawing.  (Because those activities are grounding and help me find my center.)

But, instead . . . I'm going to write about Ziploc bags.


Yep.  Ziplocs.

You see, somewhere back in time - probably college; maybe earlier - when I first started dealing with time management issues and that feeling-like-everything-is-going-wrong thing - I came up with a sort of Scarlet O'Hara tomorrow-is-another-day approach to dealing with things.

Stick it in a Ziploc.

Yep.  Just stick that thing/idea/future to-do item/problem in a Ziploc bag.  Seal it up nice and tight.  And store it in your brain.

The trick?  Keep. It. Sealed.  Do NOT let it out.

And, just like real Ziploc bags of real stuff in your real life, that thing/idea/future to-do item/problem will just sit there in your brain.  

Safely stored.  
Gathering dust.  
Or rotting.  

And you can open that Ziploc bag whenever you are ready.  Or when it is time.  (Or somewhere between 2:30 and 4:00 am, when the seals, sadly, tend to be at their weakest.)

I'm not talking about denial here.  I'm just talking about compartmentalizing.  When things/ideas/ future to-do items/problems are overwhelming and when it feels like they're all closing in on you and you just can't manage . . . that's when it's time to do a little sorting-and-storing.  

Fill up your Ziploc bags with things that you really can deal with/think about/do LATER -- so you can deal with the more immediate issues NOW.

It works for me!


This post is part of Think Write Thursday.  Read more posts on this topic here - and sign up to receive the weekly prompts here.







A Different Kind of Christmas

For me, this could easily be one of those sad, blue Christmases.  You know . . . the ones they sing about in holiday country songs?

After all, this will be the first Christmas without my mom.  AND - for the first year ever, neither of my kids will be home for the holiday.  It's just sort of . . . layer upon layer of Christmas bummer.

But I decided . . . NO.  It will not be a sad, blue Christmas!

It will be hard.  

It will certainly be different.  

But it will NOT be a bah-humbug kind of season.


Over the years, I have gotten pretty attached to (entrenched in?) the ways we celebrate Christmas.  Traditions we all enjoy, sure.  But traditions that are hard to change --- even when the only reason we're still doing them ... is because we've always done them.

So.  This year provided me with . . . the reason, the space, and - yes - the permission to evaluate and re-think HOW I celebrate Christmas.

I've cut back on pretty much everything.  Decorating.  Gifting.  Shopping.  Wrapping.  Going.  For the first year in . . . well, decades . . . I have empty space and time in my December calendar.  I don't have a tree -- and I don't miss it a bit.  I'm not constantly on-the-go -- and it feels great.


In this year that I could easily NOT have any Christmas spirit at all, I'm finding that I actually have more than I ever expected.

It's hard, there's no denying it.  I nearly broke down the other day when I found the perfect gift for my mom . . . and then remembered I didn't need to shop for my mom this year.

But I'm enjoying the lights and the music and the decorations - and my memories.  I'm looking forward to what's next -- and how we can create a "new" way to celebrate this year. 


Christmas?  Yeah.  It's going to be different.

But it's going to be okay.


Today's post is part of Think Write Thursday.  Read what other bloggers have to say today here.  And sign up here to receive the weekly prompts.



A Christmas Tradition. Since 1992.

Back in 1992, a friend invited me to a Pampered Chef party.  And, well, you know how it is . . . you feel obligated to go.  And obligated to buy something.

I bought this . . . 

FullSizeRender 92

a gingerbread mold.

It'll be fun . . . I thought.

The kids and I can make gingerbread houses . . .  I imagined.

Maybe it'll even become an annual tradition . . . I mused.

And, y'know?  I was RIGHT!


It was fun -- and it TOTALLY became an annual tradition!

In the early years, I always baked two houses worth of gingerbread, and my mom and I teamed up with my kids to decorate houses on a weekend before Christmas.  It was lots of fun - and something we all enjoyed doing together.  (Although Brian usually lost interest once the houses were assembled; he hardly ever stuck around for the finished product.)


While Brian's interest waned, Erin became the Queen of Gingerbread.  She started hosting an annual gingerbread decorating party for her friends.  Here they are in 5th grade (Erin, the hostess-with-the mostest, is in the very back of this photo; I can't remember which finished house was hers, though.) . . . 


(You'll notice I gave up on the mold when it came to Erin's parties.  We just went with graham-crackers-on-milk-cartons.)  (Works GREAT, by the way.)

Erin's annual parties continued even in high school.  She invited fewer friends -- and baked the gingerbread (in the mold) on her own.  (Just as an aside . . . one of Erin's high school friends used to decorate these incredible houses every year.  Intricate and gorgeous.  Really amazing.  She ended up becoming a pastry chef and decorator extraordinaire as an adult!  We knew her when. . . )

Once Erin finished college and moved to Pittsburgh, we started doing gingerbread houses on Thanksgiving evening after the meal.  We continued the tradition this year.  It was really hard without my mom . . . but we were thrilled to add my sister to the mix!  (She has never taken part in this particular activity with me before, although she is a veteran gingerbread house decorator.)


This year, my sister and I got our inspiration from Pinterest.  Like . . . maybe too much inspiration.  We got really excited about . . . thatched roofs and stone fireplaces.

My sister's kind of worked . . . 


But mine?  Not so much. . . The "stones" are falling off in little piles around the base of my house!


(There will be no "stones" left by Christmas. . . )

But, you know.  That's how it goes!  Some years, our gingerbread houses turn out GREAT.  And some years . . . well, they just don't.  

But it doesn't matter at all.  

Because it's really not about the finished product!  Like most beloved family holiday traditions, it's ALL about the being together, having fun --  and creating memories.

I'm really blessed . . . to have some great memories coming out of that silly Pampered Chef party.  These houses really just . . . warm my heart.  Every single year.


This post is part of Think Write Thursday.  To read more contributions, click here.  And to sign up to receive the weekly prompts, click here.