Friday, January 31, 2014

My "Little Indulgences" List

A reader, and close friend, asked that I share my complete list of little indulgences, which I referenced here.
Call an old friend
Buy a bouquet
Take a leisurely, scenic walk
Car wash
Cook a new food
Plant something new
Buy new bras and panties
Wear jewelry in your hair
Go vintage clothes shopping
Buy expensive chocolates
Host a party where guests bring gifts for charity/shelters
Try a new restaurant
Light incense and meditate
Try a new wine or ice cream flavor
Add vanilla extract to your hot chocolate
Make your own stationary
Walk thru the woods or by water
Write a children's book
Go to the theatre
Get an affordable cosmetic treatment
Have a yard sale
Lie in the backyard for 30 minutes
Take a nite class
Have your teeth whitened
Listen to classical music
Take photographs of subjects of interest
Polish toenails with glitter or jewels
Drink mimosas
Buy a glamorous wig
Buy new glasses or sunglasses (maybe strikingly different than your norm)
Go to a museum
Write a letter of gratitude
Buy a new pillow and/or sheets
Get a massage
Eat outdoors
Do a hobby
Take a mental health day
Donate to a charity
So, there it is!  I have done many of these, without even realizing they are on my list.  Perhaps I committed them to memory!  Perhaps this list is more "me" than I knew!

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Personal Rewards

I carry around a torn piece of paper in my calendar.  Year after year, it gets transferred to the new one.  However, I don't refer to it as often as, maybe, I should.  It is titled "Little Indulgences". 
It includes free things, like: Call an old friend and Lie in the backyard for 30 minutes and Add vanilla extract to your hot chocolate.
It also includes healthy choices: Take a leisurely/scenic walk and Exercise and Take a mental health day.
There are some that cost a little, say, Buy expensive chocolates or Get a carwash.
Some that cost a little more:  Go to the theatre and Get a massage.
A few are about giving back:  Donate to a charity, Write a letter of gratitude and Host a party where the guests bring gifts to donate to a shelter.
It's an important part of our daily, or almost daily, lives to reward ourselves.  To remember that we can treat ourselves, even for free! 
So, last nite, after wanting something since first seeing the commercial when it was brought back, I, rather we, bought a Little Caesars Deep Deep Dish pepperoni pizza!  Remember the Pizza Pizza of Little Caesars of old?  Two big square pizzas, for the price of one!  The super crispy edges!  Mmmmm!!  This time, tho, the pizzas are more like personal size, cut into 4 decent size pieces each.  It's probably a good thing, so we don't have lots of leftovers to continue the unhealthy, yet oh-so-tasty, indulgence!  I ate 3 of my pieces last nite, with a can of Pepsi!  The 4th, I just enjoyed with a healthy salad (yesterday's lunch that was then to be yesterday's dinner until the last minute idea to drive to Little Caesars!!) ~ it made the slice of 'za even better!! 
I should rewrite my Little Indulgences and make it more personal to me (this one I copied from...hmmmm...probably a magazine a million years ago) and I should check it out every month to see if I have taken some time to reward myself ~ often times, this will flow to Chris, too.  Win-win!
Tell me, what would be on your list?

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Cutting Loose the Ties that Bind

The other day, on Facebook, I posted the quote from a Leann Womack song, "I hope you dance."  I posted it on my personal page and also on a group page that I created, Goddesses Gather Here.  On the Goddess page, I also described a time, in the not-too-distant past, where I held myself back from something...dancing, to be exact...and it haunts me to this day.
When we were in New Orleans in October 2011, we had the chance to hear one of the many local brass bands on a street corner.  It was Bourbon and Canal, I believe.  These were young guys and I didn't even get their band name!!  (Chalk that up to another of the regrets from this encounter!)  They were jamming and a small crowd developed.  Some locals, I think, started to feel the music and began to dance, there in the middle of the street (Bourbon is closed to vehicle traffic most, if not all, evenings.)  This guy motioned for us to join in.  I was feeling the music, and when I asked Chris the other day, he was, too.  You know what we did?  Nothing ~ nada ~ zip!  We just stood there on the sidewalk and enjoyed the band.  We did NOT let ourselves be overtaken by the music and swept up in the moment, drop our self-consciousness and dance! 
Damn it, I tell myself to this day!  Why am I so concerned what others might think of me or my dancing??  Sheesh, most of them were probably full of adult beverages by that point, anyway!  And, maybe, if we had gotten out there, they would have let down their guard and we would have all been dancing fools, while getting the N'awlins experience down to our bones!
Another opportunity slipped through my fingers (or should I say my toes) when people were line dancing to music that was being pumped so loudly from inside one of the bars on Bourbon!  Now, Chris would not have jumped in on this one because he despises line dancing!  (I'm not talking country line dancing here, but the few songs that are played in "regular" bars, like the Electric Slide and Cupid Shuffle.) 
Double damn!!  What is wrong with me?! 
Fast forward to June 2013 ~ this time, the vacation locale is Key West.  After reserving our condo and plane tickets, I looked into what might be going on during our weeklong stay.  To my pleasant surprise, Key West Pride was happening!  We would arrive the day before their parade!  Pride in Key West?!?  And our first Pride parade, no less!  Oh, yeah, this is going to be crazy! 
On our first day, I saw people, tourists and islanders alike, in all manner of dress and lack thereof!  I told myself that I was going to wear my bikini top with shorts for the parade that next day!!!  It was comfortably hot for our trip and I had been working out for almost 4 years at my amazing gym with my amazing instructors and gym-mates!  I looked GOOD!  We are drinking, walking around, feeling & looking great!
I wore a tank top!  When it came down to it, you guessed it, I chickened out b/c I was feeling self-conscious!!  Obviously, I had NOT learned from New Orleans!  I was NOT seizing the moment!  And I cannot begin to tell you how many folks, with not perfect bodies, I saw throughout the week with more skin-exposed than me!!!  I needed some main-lining of their confidence!!
I still had an awesome time!  Got myself glitter-bombed by the manager of one of the gay bars, where we had stationed ourselves for the parade among the fun masses!! 
I had been informed by a high school classmate about a clothing-optional bar called the Garden of Eden.  I looked into it, about as much as there is information to be gleaned from the internet...which is to say, not very much.  I knew it was the rooftop bar atop two other bars on Duval Street.  It immediately made our To Do list.
I ordered some skull & crossbone pasties!!  (The whole pirate theme!!)
We head up from The Bull, one of our favorite hangs, to the Garden of Eden on one of the nights my mom is with us.  It's still "early," at 9, so the crowd is very sparse.  We find some seating, in a corner, and start our people watching.  I see some ladies at the bar with their tops pulled down, and another not far from us, the same.  Some 20-somethings show up and start drunk dancing for the DJ's enjoyment.  I'm working on getting my nerve up and waiting for more "participants" to arrive...
when the skies open and it begins to rain for the first (but not last) time since our arrival!!  We find cover, hoping it will be short-lived, but lightening joins the rain and we decide we better get to stepping because we have several blocks' walk back to the condo.
I figure Chris and I will have another nite to head up to the Garden after my mom leaves.  I will put on my pasties before we head out.  Ensuring that I will go sans top, for a moment, at least!
Yeah, right!  We never did make it back to that rooftop oasis. 
And here I am with a couple more regrets to add to my list.  Ugh!
I am working on this flaw.  Both of us are.  We need to be less concerned about the thoughts of others (for so many reasons) and live a life less cautious. 
Even on the off chance I get embarrassed, I will have a funny memory and not a lingering regret.  Or, I might just have one of THE best memories of my life!  In the immortal words of my youngest sister, Shannon, "You never know til you find out!"
Any words of encouragement are greatly appreciated!

Friday, January 24, 2014


Maybe it's natural.  A circadian rhythm.  A resetting of the system. 
Well, that's what I am telling myself this week as my motivation to work out has waned, drastically.  It may have started last week, but I was able to push myself out the door last week. This week, along with talking myself out of it, there have been some "kinks" in my mornings with Chris off on Monday and going in later on Thursday ~ however, what is my excuse for Wednesday & Friday, right?! Once I get to the "gym", I am all good. (I did weights on Tuesday ~ go, me!)   
It's the getting there, especially this week, that is my biggest hurdle these days (honestly, since our move). 
Thankfully, I have been eating pretty clean.  Also, thankfully, we don't have a bunch of junk in the house (we usually don't anyway) on which I could gorge.  That, truly, has been my savior!!
I have been faithfully drinking my water, taking my bottle to work with me (refilling it once within the 5 hours I am there)!  I added a couple slices of cucumbers this week and what a wonderful, yet subtle, flavor they impart! 
I have been eating my super-delish steel-cut oats with quinoa and peanut butter!
We have "feasted" on salads most lunches, plus Chris sliced carrots, celery and cukes for snacks!  I even got the blender out for the first time post-move to make our spinach-frozen banana-frozen strawberries smoothies!
I love my body and treat it as my temple (b/c it IS)!  I am not obsessed with weight loss or under-nourishing myself. 
 I KNOW what to do, what to eat!  I guess that is why when I don't do what I should (and have plenty of time for) I am mentally kicking my own ass over it! 
I miss my gym!  I miss my peeps!  I miss being told what to do for one sweaty hour! 
I know that when I exercise, I feel better and look better.  They feed one another: when I look better, I feel better.  When I feel better, I look better.
A line I picked up while watching an old "Sex and The City" yesterday got me thinking:
"Accessorize the outfit you've got!"
This could, of course, be literal and mean our clothing.  And, considering it was said by the lead character, Carrie, a total shoe & purse junkie, it certainly might!!
Yet, I have equated it with our bodies!  We come in all shapes & sizes, all manner of style, at different health & fitness levels...
so wherever we are, everyday, we love ourselves and "Accessorize the outfit (body) we've got!!" 
I will get myself out of the house tomorrow morning (along with my honey) for some sweat equity!  Then, I will accessorize with my UFC Gym tee in support of our friend, Eddie Wineland's, fight ~ Team Honey Badger!

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Growing Inch by Inch, Foot by Foot, Mile by Mile

So, I took another part-time job this month.  Back in the optical realm, a field I have been out of for over a decade.  This time, I am working at a private practice, rather than a retail store.  There are some differences between the two, the biggest being that I am only responsible for eyeglasses, where in the other jobs I dealt with contacts, appointment scheduling, insurance verification and even pre-testing. 
There is a learning curve, to be sure, getting refreshed while also learning all of the new products along with this office's computer systems.  Additionally, the doctor wants the other optician and I to learn how to cut lenses.  Apparently, he had an optician last year who said she had lab experience, so he invested in a machine.  Well, she didn't do a very good job nor did she stick around.  He is now chomping at the bit to get us to use it because it is, right now, simply a money pit.  I intend to take the time I need to get comfortable with ordering glasses and processing insurance benefits before jumping into the completely unknown world of an edger!!!  But, I am looking at the whole experience as an opportunity to learn a new skill and improve my employability!  Again, this gig is only until August, so I will soak up the knowledge while giving my best to the patients. 
It is pretty perfect that I found this on Facebook this morning:
This year.
I just wanna go on
more adventures.
Be around
good energy.
Connect with people.
Learn new things.
Yep, my 2014 motto ~ perfectly succinct!

Friday, January 17, 2014

The Siren of the Mississippi

I have been dreaming of our eventual return to New Orleans for weeks now.  I picked up some CD's at the library today: Trombone Shorty, Galactic and Robert Randolph.  I also checked out 2 books and a DVD.  Anyone paying any attention would think I am planning a trip or conducting research for a paper!!! 
I just started casually reading Orleans Embrace with The Secret Gardens of the Vieux Carre by Ty Fisher.  The prose is so descriptive, the photos magical.  Everything I feel and remember.  Written so perfectly.
"There is never as much time, for anything, as you think.  Therefore please savor the moment of reliving the remembrances that the coming pages will bring you; bringing back into focus the unforgettable imagery of New Orleans, a beautiful old enchantress so very imperfect and interestingly scarred; her images shall forever swarm upon us, sleeping and slumbering deep within our heads; her beauty lingering somewhere in the twilight, since we can never sever from sight what we have seen and loved.
Once she has gripped your heart and wrapped you in her spell she will never let you go."
Tru dat!! 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

When There is No Sunshine

There is a quiet stillness to a gloomy day.  Movement, if any at all, is slowed, somewhat deliberate.  Words are spoken in hushed tones.  Nature is lackluster, dimmed. 
The snow fell softly today, leaving the slightest dusting of white amid all the gray.  It left me wondering, "Is there a sound made when a snowflake lands?  Having completed its journey, fulfilled its perfect destiny, does it sigh in accomplishment, or perhaps, relief?"

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Feeling the Air Under Your Wings

Whether we make a deliberate choice or we are thrust from the nest unexpectedly, it is important for each of us to grow our wings.
When Chris and I made our first move out of northwest Indiana, the only place either of us really ever knew as home, we selected Tallahassee, Florida.  We had never been there.  I don't think either of us had ever given one thought to it until Chris applied to a television station there.  We did not go there to check it out before Chris applied or even after he accepted the job.  Nope, we went sight-unseen!  No idea what to expect.  We looked it up on a map ~ it seemed pretty close to the Gulf (in fact, we later learned first hand that the drive south from Tallahassee to the Gulf was just into marsh, not good beach).  We found an apartment randomly, only using it's proximity to Chris's job and the price as determining factors.  We quit our jobs, informed our landlord, had a garage sale, took tons of stuff to Goodwill, rented a moving truck.  We caravanned:  Chris driving the big-ass truck with his little Geo Metro attached and me, ahead of him leading the way, in my Pontiac Grand Am.  It was a long 2-day's drive and we were pretty exhausted when we arrived to the apartment complex, but my dad & brother (who had been waiting several hours for our arrival) drove up from Spring Hill to help us unload. 
I didn't work that summer, and Chris's schedule was 4A-1P, which left us the afternoons and weekends to explore our new home city, the capital of the Sunshine State.  We found a zoo, a gorgeous lake (Etta),  a couple malls, the bookstores, a beautiful garden estate and Wakulla Park (where Creature from the Black Lagoon was shot!).  It was so much fun exploring together, just the 2 of us!  We were also about 3 hours from my family and we drove to see them one weekend every month ~ the most time I have ever spent with my Florida family and I am so thankful we made it part of our lives.  My mom brought my grandpa (who was in the midst of fighting colon cancer, which he beat!!) one weekend and she & her boyfriend, Tom, came another weekend.  One of my younger sisters stayed with us for a week, as did my cousin, Tam ~ our only out-of-state visitor.  We enjoyed the most mild winter of our lives, which included a winter parade downtown, where twinkling lights were strung amid the live oaks and Spanish moss (my favorite!!).  We tried coconut water from a freshly cut coconut at a Caribbean festival, also downtown.  Chris made friends with some of his co-workers at Florida's News Channel, where he was a newscast director.  We went out for drinks, attended a Halloween costume party (Yay!) and shared an evening at one of their homes. 
We only stayed in Tallahassee for 14 months.  Unless you are attending FSU or Florida A&M, unless you are a politico, unless you want to live in Florida but not have it look like you live in Florida (i.e. few palm trees and houses that look Midwestern or Southern, not the usual stucco of Florida), then Tallahassee is not for you!!  And it was not really for us.  But, I made a wonderful and lifelong friend at the law firm where I worked part-time as an administrative assistant.  And, Chris and I have amazing memories of the time we spent driving to & fro, the places we found, the experiences we shared, the friends we made and the lessons we learned along the way. 
We came back to Indiana, expecting our stay to be relatively short-lived.  We are somewhat gypsy at heart and while Florida didn't work out for us, we knew we didn't want to spend our lives in Indiana, especially the northwest corner.  Not that there aren't wonderful aspects of NWI and it is by far NOT the worst place in the country to live, but we just wanted more.  We needed to see and immerse ourselves in other places, among other faces, to carve out new spaces.
Fast forward almost 10 years...
On the advice of some friends, who had lived in Colorado, we took what would become a life-changing trip in May 2011.  As most of you know!  We returned and got to the business of getting our home ready for the market and by August 2012, it was sold.  While we had initially intended to move directly to Colorado upon the sale of the house, we realized that the logistics were too many to undertake in about a 30-day window after closing.  We decided that renting in NWI for a year would give us a definitive timeframe for handling all the loose ends and securing a rental in Colorado.  We looked at several rentals in Porter County, wanting to stay closer to Chris's job for the year, that I found on Craigslist.  One, while a bit more than I really cared to pay in rent, was in the elusive community of Ogden Dunes.  A place right at the shores of Lake Michigan, with its own private beach access ~ a neighborhood neither of us had been to, but one we had always heard about and which seemed exclusive and "beyond" us. 
After looking at a house in Valpo, and receiving a call from the owner that he would lower the rent by $100 just for us, and pretty well having made up our minds that this would work out for us, I wanted to see this "ski chalet," as it was described in the ad, anyway!!  What the hell, right?!
Well, damn if I didn't fall in love with it immediately!!!  It was open and airy!  It was completely surrounded by nature!  It had a 2-car attached garage (a luxury that had eluded us all these years).  It was quiet and peaceful.  It felt like we were checking in to a cabin for vacation up in Traverse City, Michigan, one of our favorite places to stay in the fall.  We were both sure this was where we were supposed to be for the next year!  We had EARNED it and were deserving of it!  We were determined to make it happen...and it did! 
Words cannot really describe the magic of Ogden Dunes!  We were blessed with awesome neighbors, Ken & Curt, who instantly and warmly welcomed us to OD and into their home!  We didn't believe ourselves to be beach people, as a matter of fact, Chris wasn't usually thrilled when I suggested beach vacations...but we came to love OUR beach!  We walked there all through the year, every season, every time of day!  Chris ran the beach, we walked the beach, we watched the full moons at the beach, we enjoyed our best 4th of July in years at the beach, we soaked up the late late afternoon sun at the beach, we checked out the sand castle competition and the first annual cardboard boat races at the beach!!!  We thought that maybe, just maybe, we would look at the homes for sale and continue to bask in the aura that envelops OD. 
But the draw to Colorado and the mountains still stirred in both of us.  We knew that we needed to make this next move or we would live to regret it. 
We bid Ogden Dunes, our friends & family and my beloved gym adieu in September.  Again, with Chris driving a moving truck, his car towed behind, and me, in the lead, navigating toward the unknown.  Full of excitement, anxiousness and, for me at least, a little trepidation.  We had a place to live, but neither of us had been able to secure jobs pre-move.
There are times in my life where I have been pushed from the nest and then there are times, our 2 big moves being the greatest, when we have chosen to take that giant step from the comfort of home.  Each time, we have had to spread our collective wings.  When we left for Florida, my job threw me a going-away party.  In a squeaky voice, trying not to cry, I urged my co-workers, some who are my friends,  "May your dreams, like mine, grow wings and fly." 
These chances, or challenges, to soar are lifetime learning experiences.  There are good & bad results and we use the lessons the next time we are "encouraged" to step into the unknown, the scary, the new, the unexpected.  We can look back and be grateful, regardless the circumstance that sent us on our way, because we now know we are stronger than we may have ever imagined!
Spread your wings!  Soar!  Dip!  Rise again!  Enjoy the scenery! 

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Delicious Ambiguity

“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next. Delicious Ambiguity.”  ~Gilda Radner

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

If You Could Do Anything...

If you could do anything for a living, what would it be?
My list includes: wine sommelier, food critic (which includes my own TV show), bed & breakfast owner, bookstore/coffeeshop owner, travel correspondent.
Just to name a few!

My Mom

I intend to write a longer post about her, but I need time to compose it just so.  In the meantime, tho, I want to put out to the Universe that my mom is going smoke-free!  She dug out her e-cigarettes and, with the help of my grandparents, she has started Chantix.  She is going to a chiropractor to see if the constant pains and issues with her left side can be addressed and treated. 
She wants to take back her health!
My mom has some long-term health issues (related to years of smoking) that can't be "cured", but I believe she can live more when she is feeling better, sleeping better, breathing better.
She surprised and amazed Chris and me during our Key West trip.  She was able to walk around so much more than we had anticipated.  She put her mind to it and she just did it!
I want her to use that same mental power to take back her health!
She wants to be smoke-free when she comes for her visit in July! 
That's only 6 months, Mom!  We KNOW you can do it!  You are fierce when you want (& need) to be! 
Do this for you!  

Monday, January 6, 2014


If you are making mistakes, then you are making new things, trying new things, learning, living, pushing yourself, changing yourself, changing your world.  You're doing things you've never done before, and more importantly, you're Doing Something.
~Neil Gaiman
(author of Coraline and Stardust)

Steel-cut Oats

In the past I read several health/food blogs where steel-cut oats were highly touted.  I never got around to trying them....that is, until our move!  We are fortunate to have a couple local grocery stores that sell bulk items.  When steel-cut oats were on sale for 49¢ a pound, I got a small bag.  I did mistakenly have a brain freeze and thought I bought Scottish oats, researched how to make them in the crockpot overnite and woke to a disaster!!  Said bag then sat in the cabinet for a bit, tho, as I continued to use my go-to old-fashioned rolled oats. 
I decided to give them another try and mixed some in with my regular oats.  What a surprise!  There is a crunchiness to steel-cut oats that I really enjoy!  Now, I will eat them, sans rolled oats, with quinoa and my usual mix-ins of cinnamon, dried cranberries and peanut butter.  I might toss in half a banana, sliced, and/or a scoopful of pumpkin puree.
I highly suggest giving them a try.
And, now, I must go b/c this post has reminded me that I have, yet, to eat breakfast ~ the most important meal of our day!

Friday, January 3, 2014

Did You Know?

January 23rd is National Pie Day!
Started in Colorado in 1975 by Boulder resident Charlie Papazian because he preferred double-crusted pie over cake for his birthday celebration.  A man after my own heart as I loved cheesecake (which is really closer to pie than cake) topped with cherry pie filling as a kid!!
So, let's all help celebrate Charlie's birthday this year by enjoying our favorite slice!
We are going to check out Estes Park Pie Shop today.  Then, there is Longmont's Loaf & Ladle, alleged to have a yummy strawberry pie, which is my other favorite.  And Aunt Alice's Kitchen, also in Longmont, where pie is free on Tuesdays and Saturdays!! 
Feel free to share your favorite pie places.

So, we didn't go for pie while in Estes Park yesterday, but that is only because we were full from our elk & yak burgers from Grubsteak!  Chris says he will only eat burgers made of yak meat from now on! 

Thursday, January 2, 2014

365 Days of Gratitude

Happy New Year!  WOW!!  It's 2014!!! 
A couple of my girlfriends have decided to start a gratitude jar and asked me to participate. 
I have placed a clear vase on my bedside table, along with paper and pen, so that I can write something each nite before going to sleep!  We can write about an activity, a gift, a reward ~ the big & the small ~ anything that made us happy, grateful, fulfilled, blessed. 
I suspect I will have to either get something larger or remove the papers periodically because my vase isn't very big!! 
The plan is to read them at the end of this year as a reminder of the good things we experienced in 2014!   
Would you like to join us???

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