If I Had My Way

I was watching MTV the other day and saw a video by Chrisette Michelle.  She was singing a song called “If I had my way.”  For over four minutes she went on and on about how if she had her way she’s be making love to this man of her dreams.  Really?

That sounds great and all, but if I had MY way, I’d be wanting sooo much more.

If I had my way, big really would be beautiful.  Brains would win out over beauty.  And being a curmudgeon would be considered cute.  No one would ever get picked last in gym class.  Heck, if I had my way, there wouldn’t be a gym class!

If I had my way, wine wouldn’t get you drunk, give you a headache, or make you do things you later regret.  The four basic food groups would be:  cheese, brownies, bread, and ice cream.

If I had my way… My inbox would be flooded with emails from attractive, single men.  People who said they were working from home really would work!  Vacations would be mandatory and you wouldn’t have to knock yourself out the week before you left and again once you got back!

If I had my way, teachers would make as much as doctors.  Wishing would make it so. And everyone could carry a tune. 

If I had my way, the road to heaven – not hell – would be paved with good intentions.  Everyone would follow the golden rule.  And those who live in glass houses wouldn’t throw stones.

If I had my way, I really would be right all the time.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

I love Christmas.  Maybe that’s the problem … I love it too much. 

I have such fond memories of my childhood Christmases that every year I try to recapture that same magic.  And every year the little disappointments start immediately after the Thanksgiving dinner dishes are cleared way.

I love Christmas so much that I have two Christmas trees in my little apartment.  One in the living room, another, smaller tree, stands in my bedroom with white lights and a country theme.  Regardless of my parents’ fear that it will catch on fire and burn my apartment down, I will always go to sleep each holiday to the twinkling lights of my bedroom Christmas tree.

Last year at this time, while enjoying some holiday cheer with my co-workers, I spied a cutie at the other end of the bar.  He and I chatted for a while.  We shared the same childhood excitement about the upcoming holiday. I was sure we were destined for each other.  This guy had not two trees…not three or four trees…but seven Christmas trees in his house!  I was convinced that Santa had brought me an early Christmas present until my latest future husband-to-be began to tell me in great detail about how each of the seven trees was decorated — including the one that sat in his bedroom with a pink boa for garland and little shoe ornaments. He was certainly someone’s Mr. Right – just not mine.

I know my expectations are high.  I know that Christmas is just one day amongst three hundred and sixty four other days of the year.  But if I can’t hope for magic on this one special day, then when can I?

It’s Better to Give than to Receive … Really?

I don’t care what people say, Christmas is about presents.  You didn’t see the three wise men showing up empty handed did you?

I truly enjoy Christmas shopping.  I like writing out my lists, flipping through catalogs, running around town to this store and that to get the best price.  Loading up my Subaru with bags from Derby Street Shops, the Independence Mall, and Colony Place.  Making trip after trip up and down the stairs to my apartment arms heavy with bagfuls of what I hope are the perfect gifts.

One year I bought my niece an American Girl doll she had been pining for.  In that cruel way that adults have I hid the present.  It wasn’t under the tree with all the others.  It was only after everyone had opened their gifts, kissed each other on the cheek, and swept the opened boxes and wrapping paper into trash bags that I brought out the special doll.  My niece tore through the wrapping, and when faced with the blond-haired, blue eyed doll starting visibly shaking.  Her eyes welled up with tears:  “I’ve wanted this dolly my whole life!” she cried. 

That’s the reaction I shoot for every time I give a gift.

That’s the excitement I hope will overcome me each time I reach under the tree and see my name on a gift tag.  So you can understand my disappointment when what’s revealed is a gift card – regardless of the store it came from (or the amount).

They say: It’s better to give than to receive, but surely they don’t mean at Christmas… do they?

Every body

They say you are what you eat.  But I’ve been much more inclined to believe that you are what you think.  After all, it’s my personality, witty repartee, smarts and charm that make me uniquely me.  It’s not my height, brown eyes or how well my physical body works or doesn’t work that makes me who I am.

While my body has let me down in the past, my mind has never betrayed me.  My body won’t always do what I want it to.  It gets tired, achy…and won’t behave in other ways.

For these reasons, and others, I’ve always thought of my body as just a casing of sorts for my mind and soul.  A vessel I haul around – albeit one I do like to dress up.  I never thought of it as especially awe-inspiring.  After all I lack poise and grace and I’m woefully out of shape. 

None of this mattered to me until I saw “Bodies Revealed” (which is at Foxwoods until February 2nd).

The exhibit includes 14 full-body human specimens and 200 individual organs. What I saw was incredible.  The complex web of nerves.  The tiny hair follicles in the scalp. The organs that make up the digestive tract.    

The exhibit instilled in me a new appreciation for this miraculous instrument that I’ve been living with, yet avoiding all these years.  It’s quite possible that the human body – even my own body with all its flaws – deserves as much respect as my mind, and as much reverence as my soul.

To quote the writer and philosopher John Conger whose words are displayed in the exhibit:  “Without the body, the wisdom of the larger self cannot be known.”

What I’m Thankful for

I’m a complainer.  I like to vent…get things off my chest…kvetch. 

Despite my frequent rantings, however, I am ever mindful of just how lucky I am even when things don’t go my way.  I maintain that deep down inside I’m actually an optimist.

Every year on Thanksgiving I try to get my family to go around the dining room table and share what they’re thankful for.  And every year I get the same response…some version of “I’m thankful that your mother didn’t drop the turkey.”

Well, I may not be able to get Mom and Dad to express their inner feelings, but that doesn’t mean I can’t take the opportunity to do it myself right here and now:

  1. I’m thankful for my cousin Mark who returned home safely from Iraq about two months ago.  I’m ashamed to admit that I take our armed services for granted – but I do know that we’d be living in a much different world without them.
  2.  I’m thankful that my sister – and even my parents – call me frequently.  I’m awful about picking up the phone and reaching out to them.  Thank goodness they never give up on me.
  3. I’m thankful that my friends think it’s funny — not pathetic — that I wear my heart on my sleeve.   They read my blog, and encourage me in my life … and in my writing.  God forbid, if my life ever gets all sorted out, I won’t have anything to write about!
  4. And I’m thankful that I have an opportunity to share the craziness that’s in my head with everyone in the big wide world.  I do so love an audience!  Thanks for listening.

Remembering a Life

When I was a little girl the story of my life was told on a charm bracelet.  I had a charm for being in Brownies and one for Girl Scouts.  A charm for all the states I’d visited with my grandparents.  A charm for the swim team and one for the drama club. 

Boys told the stories of their lives through their scars.  8 stitches from being bit by a snapping turtle.  A torn up ankle from riding on the handlebars of a bike.  

What’s the story of your life? How will it be told?

I’m troubled by the fact that we spend so much time worrying about how to get the most out of life that we don’t put much into it.

Instead of squeezing out every last thrill, how about sitting down and quietly connecting with someone important to you?   What about taking the time to counsel a friend, or make a new one.

How will you be remembered?  What will your legacy be? 

It won’t be the summer home on the cape or college tuition for the grand kids.  No amount of money or presents can ever be more meaningful to those you love than the time you spend with them here and now. 

Is the only time you spend with your kids a peck on the forehead as you tuck them into bed?  Instead, before they go to sleep, how about reading a story together, talking about the best and worst things that happened to each of you that day, and sharing your hopes for tomorrow?  If that’s the case, then years from now your children will tell their stories not from a charm bracelet, but in dreams and storybooks they’ll share with their own kids some day.

 

Worth the Splurge

When the economic downturn first hit, I put myself on a budget.  I’ve been scrimping and saving, cutting corners and going without for a year now.  But I’ve recently discovered that there are a few indulgences still worth splurging on.

Pedicures:  I almost fell backwards and cracked my head open on the bathroom floor while trying to get a foot up on the sink so I could paint my toenails.  At 44, bending over is NOT an option.  I now consider my $40 pedicure a medical necessity.  Heck, it’s cheaper than a hospital visit.

Good Pillows:  I had been sleeping on the same $7 Wal-Mart pillows for I don’t know how long.  First, one was good and plump.  Then, as time went on, I had to stack two or three of them to get the same support.  I indulged in $50 down pillows last week and I slept like a baby for the first time in months.  In fact, I was late for work!  I know, $50 bucks for a pillow seemed outrageous to me at first too – but I did get them on a ‘buy one get one free’ sale!

A Professional cut and color:  Every 4 – 6 weeks.  They say your hair is your crowning glory and I’ll be damned if I’m gonna walk around with a tarnished crown!  It’s an investment really.  The better I look, the more confident I feel.  And when I feel confident there’s nothing I can’t accomplish.

I’ve now come to think of my budgeting not so much as ‘giving up’ but as making possible the things that I want most.