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On What’s Important in Life

mosaic

Warning: Ramble ahead.

There has been a lot of loss in the world in 2016. That in itself is a massive understatement so let me try again.

2016 has been a monumental year for loss. In fact, 9 out of 10 of my friends will tell you that they’re thrilled it’s almost over, and if given a choice, would end the year immediately because of the fresh start 2017 promises.

Let me start with some of the celebrity losses that cut us deeply in 2016, not that any one life is better than another but the deaths of some icons hit many of us in the gut, collectively.

Prince.
David Bowie.
Muhammad Ali.
Gene Wilder.
Elie Wiesel.
Arnold Palmer.
Alan Rickman.
(Just to name a few.)

Individual, personal losses among those I know have also been rampant this year. A friend of mine has lost not one, but two siblings this year. Another friend lost her father just today. There are more.

Of course, I had my own great loss of 2016 when we had to say goodbye to Roxie back in February. To add insult to injury, 2016 has been a TERRIBLE year for my pet owner friends. Without thinking about it for more than fifteen seconds I came up with eight friends who have said goodbye to a dog or a cat this year, and then I thought of more when I actually put my mind to it. For many, pets become full-fledged family members so their loss is very deeply felt.

Jim’s cycling accident last month was, thankfully, not as bad as it could have been. I wrote about how it put a refocus on what’s important: loved ones and spending time wisely living our best lives.

Here’s the thing. We all have a lot to do. 21st century life isn’t for sissies: it’s stressful. The very technology that makes so many things easier and faster is also a detriment to our happiness in many ways. We’re taking care of our homes and our families, we’re working, and (hopefully) we’re doing things that enhance the lives of others. We’re running ourselves ragged and in between all of that, we’re wasting hours hanging out on the computer and doing other things that add nothing to the quality of life. We’re also allowing toxic people to take up space in our lives (well, I’M not. I stopped doing that ages ago). Everything can be snatched away–or nearly so–in just a moment; what are some changes you can make to help you live in the moment with a little more gratitude for life itself?

I’ll start: I’m working on staying away from Facebook and not having my phone on my person at all times on the weekends.

Your turn.

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Okay, I Stand Corrected.

Something good that has come out of this election is the seemingly unending stream of thoughtful political conversation I’ve been enjoying with my twenty-four-year-old. It’s really something special to be able to have intelligent discourse about world affairs with your own grown kid and as much as this election and the post-election developments have had me tied up in knots, it’s been a bright spot.

That said, I have a much more entertaining conversation to share here.

The scene: my kitchen.
I’m lighting my Clean Cotton-scented Yankee Candle.

Dylan: “It’s too bad they don’t make a candle that smells like lighting a match.”
Me: “YES. That would be amazing.”
Dylan: “Or gasoline.”

(Sidenote: we’re two of those weird human beings who enjoy the smell of gasoline.)

Me: “Yankee Candle used to make one that smelled like cut grass. Not sure if they still do.”

(Sidenote: They do! It’s called Green Grass.)

*insert a couple more sentences about candles that I forgot, making me a terrible summarizer of conversation*

Me: “…in fact, you should see how many candles Heather (Liz’s middle daughter) has. She LOVES candles. She collects ALL THE CANDLES.”
Dylan: “Huh, um, that’s kind of a weird thing to collect, isn’t it?”
Me: “Not at all. I mean, she doesn’t collect them just to stare at them. She collects them to USE. They have multiple candles going on in that house all the time.”
Dylan: “Ohhhh. Okay so she’s more of a ‘Candle Enthusiast’.”
Me: “Yes. I guess you’re right.”

The Candle Enthusiast and us

Next time I get them in the same place we’ll be sure to talk about candles.

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Gone Fishing.

I’ve been having a conflict: I wasn’t feeling the energy for blogging this weekend but was also struggling with my commitment (to myself) to participate in NaBloPoMo. I was texting with my friend Vikki, who is an EXCELLENT accountability partner, and she was telling me that she really feels a need to step away as well. We decided to become non-accountability partners and release each other from our NaBloPoMo commitment for the weekend, so we’re both posting this “Gone Fishing” sign. This way we can both in good conscience do some self care and come back a little better on Monday. Have a great weekend!

Gone Fishing

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Friday Fun

Friday Fun

What a week, am I right?
It’s finally Friday, and I’m shutting down the laptop early in order to get started on the weekend. Here are some great things I read/saw online this week that you should definitely check out:

When You’re Feeling Lost, on Houseful of Nicholes
We’re Tired, on Smacksy
18 Totally Real Conversations Obama and Biden Have Had Since the Election, on Buzzfeed
This Chicago Cubs cartoon that will make any true Chicagoan reach for the Kleenex
All about “Chalking the Bricks” at Wrigley Field (my own pics to come soon!)
We Are the Role Models. Us. Not Them, on Two Cannoli
How to Disagree, by Kid President

I’ll be back tomorrow because NaBloPoMo, but I’m still wishing you an awesome weekend right now because why not? Enjoy!

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Do Something.

Do something.

It’s been a rough couple of days in America. Upset, anger, confusion, and sadness are only some of the emotions that people are dealing with after Hillary Clinton’s loss (or, rather, Donald Trump’s win) on Tuesday, not to mention the feelings of panic about the future. This election was different from others: it was the nastiest, ugliest, meanest cycle in our lifetime and in the end the Democratic loss/Republican win wasn’t upsetting simply because it was a loss. It was (is) upsetting because the racist, misogynistic, and anti-LGBT comments made by Donald Trump during the campaign along with his promises to rid the country of immigrants, build a wall, and change laws that were put in place to protect citizens–just to name a short list–were (are) downright scary. Don’t even get me started on the icky underbelly of our country, the citizens who have been emboldened to act upon their hatred of those who aren’t Christian white men.

I was very sad yesterday. I felt lost and a little numb. I stopped watching the news and tried to stay off social media a little bit more than I normally do (working in social media is hard!). Periodically checking in, I saw a whole lot of link-sharing and anger. I have some friends who are sharing link after link after link about the election, how terrible the Trump presidency is going to be, what rights are going to be lost by segments of our population, and more.

By yesterday evening my sadness was being replaced with a little bit of anger, not only about the election but also social media. I started wondering how many of the people who are out there sharing everything they’re reading and lamenting our future are actually going to go further than that and do something, take action, be a change-maker. It’s so easy to click “share”, but it takes some effort, energy, and time to actually do the work. (Sidenote: I know that a lot of people will. However, I’m certain that the “work” of some people will stop on Facebook.)

Donald Trump is our President-elect. Those of us who don’t want that can’t change that. (Personally I agree with President Obama in his hope that Trump is successful because a successful President makes for a successful America. President Obama is so wise. I’m going to miss him.)

What we CAN do is get active on a local level. We can talk to our family, our neighbors, and others around us. We can donate to organizations that do great work for people of color, women, non-Christians, the LGBTQ community, the disabled, and the environment. We can volunteer for those same organizations. We can promote the work of those who are doing that work.

There are so many options for those who want to do something. Here is an article that lists a bunch of worthy causes, but if you want to dig deeper and truly go ground-level local then a simple internet search is your friend. I suggest searching for your city (or larger area or region in your state; for example East Tennessee or Quad Cities, etc.) plus the kind of organization you’re looking for. If I search for “Chicago LGBT organizations”, I get a bunch of great information. Try it. It’s easy.

I will tell you that I’ve gone from sadness to anger to a state of being ready to help do the work. I’m energized. I’m looking forward to it, and I know lots of people who feel the same. What about you? Are you ready to do something?

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Mostly Wordless Wednesday: Hillary

Hillary

I had to be out of my house for an hour so I’m sitting in a mostly-deserted McDonald’s crying my eyes out watching Hillary Clinton’s concession speech. It’s beautiful, uplifting, full of grace and continues the tradition of a peaceful leadership transition in our country. She really would have been a fantastic president.

Thank you, Hillary.

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Where Do We Go From Here?

Election 2016

I have convinced myself over the last few months that I really don’t know enough about politics to write about it (and honestly didn’t want to join the fray). That said, considering the history that might possibly be made tonight along with the fact that I have never educated myself about politics more than I have during this election cycle, I called BS on my Debbie Downer self talk and decided to check off today’s NaBloPoMo post with a little politics. Just a little.

First, I am sick of politics. I’m sick of political ads, I’m sick of hearing about the candidates, I’m sick of the angry (and countless other negative descriptors) people who have been emboldened by the Republican candidate, and I’m sick of the anxiety that folks are experiencing due to all of this chaos.

I force myself to counter those sick feelings with gratitude that I live in a country that allows me to participate in the political process. It’s not like that everywhere. I need to embrace that gratitude, as annoying as this entire cycle has been.

Full disclosure: I voted for Hillary Clinton. I voted for her for many reasons, and two of the most important ones to me are the value she places on America being a country for all people (not just white, upper-class males) and the fact that she really is the most qualified person for the job of President of the United States. That she happens to be a woman would make a victory super cool for historical purposes, and while I didn’t vote for her based on her gender, it is WAY past time for America to have a female leader, so I’m excited about that possibility. For many reasons, I’m with her.

Are there problems with her? Yes. There are problems with all political candidates. Her opponent has more problems than she does though, and they are problems that I consider to be detrimental to the good of our people, our country, and the world at large. That’s why I didn’t vote for him. That’s my right.

I think that, as wonderful as social media is in so many ways, it has done some damage to our political process (and other things as well, but let me stay focused here). Can you imagine how much dirt would have been dug up and how much chaos would have ensued in general over every single other presidential candidate in the past, had social media and the information on the internet had been at our fingertips as it is today? Being someone who works in and on social media and therefore also being someone who is unable to take a break from it for very long, I feel that social media is brutal in times like these. Some days I hate social media.

I also believe that the lack of access to social media and/or the lack of desire to be on social media for people in those categories works detrimentally as well: so many uninformed and uneducated voters. I wish there was a happy medium.

No matter who wins tonight–or tomorrow, depending on how things go because the counts are coming in thatclose–I want to know where we go from here. If Hillary wins, it’s going to be a tough four (to eight) years because Republicans are already committing to getting in her way so she doesn’t get anything done, starting with that Supreme Court appointment. (P.S. Note to U.S. Government: DO YOUR FREAKING JOB FOR THE AMERICAN PEOPLE, THANKS.)

If Trump wins, it’s going to be a tough four years because our country might go back by 50+ years civil rights-wise, and that’s just the beginning; I’m not going to list the rest. No matter who wins, we aren’t going to be able to simply shove all of the hate and vitriol back into the box. We have a divided country and it’s my hope that we can come together and deal with all of that: united we stand, divided we fall.

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I received some devastating news on Saturday*: my twenty one-year-old son said that he enjoys an Almond Joy candy bar now and then.

Almond Joy

DEVASTATING*.

I thought I was the only one in the family who consumed Almond Joy bars. I mean, I have enjoyed the heck out of grabbing the fun-sized Almond Joys out of the boys’ trick-or-treat bags after they spent Halloween night ringing doorbells for sweets, because they ranked Almond Joy down there with Circus Peanuts and Whoppers. I’ve loved buying the occasional Almond Joy and leaving it on the counter where it would stay untouched until I was ready to eat it. Making sure that Almond Joys were a part of whatever Halloween candy mix I purchased meant that I would always have my own stash of treats for later. I have hid candy from the rest of my family for years (Hello Hershey Eggs and Cadbury Mini Eggs), but a package of Almond Joy bars was always safe. Mine. No worries. MINE.

But now this*.

I found out by accident. He went upstairs to the kitchen while we were watching TV and returned with a handful of candy from our Halloween leftovers bag. I saw a couple of those distinctive blue wrappers and exclaimed, “What the heck???!!!”

He smiled and said, “What? I have grown to like them.”

I think I then said something like “ARGHHHHHHH adkfoieyaiajdf;kdj;afdiuateurnsfojslsakjsoiuc!!!”

Smiling, he gingerly slid one over my way and that’s when the child became the parent. Again.

*In case you wondered, this is all in fun. I really don’t mind sharing; I’ll just make a point of buying double from this point on. *wink*

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The Mystery of the Denim Shorts

Alternate title: Designer Label Averse, Apparently.

The scene: my bedroom.
Jim, home for the first time since August, has handed me a pair of Calvin Klein denim shorts and questions to whom they belong.

CK denim shorts

“You, I thought…” I replied. “They aren’t yours?”
“No,” he said. “They aren’t my size and anyway, I don’t wear Calvin Klein anything.”

“Oh, maybe they belong to Dylan,” I said.

Sidenote: Dylan, who currently lives here full time, is so well-known for his love of wearing denim shorts that his college/fraternity nickname was “Jorts”.

Jim strolled into Dylan’s room and put the shorts on his bed.

About an hour later, I was back in my room putting some laundry away when Dylan walked in with the denim shorts.
“Uhhh,” he began, “I think these are dad’s. Definitely not mine. They’re not my size.”
“Are you SURE?” I asked. You’re the denim shorts guy and I could swear these were yours.”
“No,” he said. “They’re too big, and I don’t wear Calvin Klein. Maybe they’re Grandpa’s?”

*both of us laugh, slightly maniacally* (Grandpa wouldn’t wear Calvin Klein either.)

Jason arrives on the scene. He’s still in college and is only home for the weekend but it occurs to me that perhaps he has one solitary pair of denim shorts among his customary cargo shorts and athletic-style shorts. “Are these yours?”

“HA! Uh…NO,” he said definitively. “No way. And I don’t wear Calvin Klein.”

“You guys,” I said, “these denim shorts have to belong to somebody.”

Two hours later the four of us were in the car, on the way home from lunch and an errand at the mall. The denim shorts came up again, and again someone suggested they belonged to Grandpa.

*we all laugh*

“Dad, they’re yours!” Dylan said.
Jim said, “No they aren’t! They’re a size 34! Totally yours.”
Dylan vehemently disagreed.
I said, “Didn’t you get them a while back at Savers?” (Savers is a Goodwill-type of store where the boys have made some great second-hand jeans purchases in the past.)
He shook his head. “Absolutely not. And I don’t just go out and buy Calvin Klein clothing, you know.

Back at home, I grabbed the denim shorts and looked at the tag. They are size 36, which happens to be a size that none of my three guys wear. Basically that means it’s yet another laundry mystery, along with “Where are half of our socks?” “Whose underwear are these?” and “Why do I have so much trouble remembering to move the clothing from the washer to the dryer before it ends up having to be run all over again?”

It’s a good thing I enjoy an awesome mystery. Something else I enjoy? All of us being at home on the same weekend.

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Thirty-ish.

Thirty-ish

I remember when I was a kid I was fascinated with the year 2000. It didn’t seem real to me that in my lifetime, all of a sudden the years would begin with “2”.

I figured out that in the year 2000, I would turn thirty-two. When I was doing that math, thirty-two seemed a million years away. It also seemed SUPER OLD.

Tomorrow I’ll be sixteen years past thirty-two, and there’s really no need to do that math because in addition to what they say about fifty being the new thirty and forty being the new twenty (or something like that), mentally I honestly still feel like I’m half of my actual years. Since “they” also say that age is a state of mind, I plan to stay in that youthful state for as long as possible.

I have no idea where my kid got these candles but I’m in love with them. Thirty-ish? I’ll take it. And now if you’ll excuse me I have a coconut cupcake to enjoy, while I’m still young.

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