Archives for 2015

A Belated Christmas Letter Because In Blog Life Like Real Life, I’m A Little Behind

Dear Family & Friends and Strangers of the Internet,

Merry Christmas…two days later. As I type, Pumpkin sits on the couch near me watching “Elf” and The Princess is making hot chocolate for all of us in our matching mugs. Maybe she’ll add a candy cane to mine – I hope she does. In a whirlwind month of bacon wrapped jalapenos and cookies and more cookies and things dipped in chocolate, I am so tired of excess and yet the warmth and sweetness appeals to me, a bit of comfort in my mug on a chilly Sunday night.

I’ve always hated the traditional Christmas letter – the braggy missives that made me feel inadequate and though I don’t know that I’ve ever had a year that might inspire that feeling of inadequacy among those who are reading, I’ve never had the desire to actually write and send a letter with my holiday cards. Instead, I sent cheap photo cards I purchased online. I didn’t even sign them personally.

This year has been a challenge for me and I feel like I’ve said that for the past several years – this year feels like it just may be the hardest year in my life. One year, I got a divorce. The next, my beloved grandfather died. Last year, I lost my job and found a new one. This year, I was diagnosed with first retinitis pigmentosa and then Usher Syndrome and all the baggage along with that – like finding out that yeah, my eye sight is going to get progressively worse and you know, that just doesn’t make for a very good year, no matter how hard you try to accelerate your grieving process.

I’m afraid people have taken my sadness personally this year.

I am afraid some people don’t realize just how scared I am about my future.

I am afraid I haven’t been very joyous to be around most of the time and that it seems like I’m not trying.

And so it goes.

I will say that by the end of the year, I spent a lot less time crying than I did the first half of the year and to that I raise my mug of cocoa and I toast progress because for what it’s worth, I’ll take the baby steps forward when I can recognize them, and hope to replicate more of the same.

My children are ridiculously wonderful. They are talented and they are bright and they are lovely and they are loving. And that’s pretty amazing.

Chris, too, has been strong when I have not been and has been my cheerleader when I probably just needed a kick in the pants. Someone who loves you in your ugliest moments is a blessing, indeed.

I went to California with the three people I love most and had so much fun sharing the ocean with them and tonight I looked at the pictures and realized that maybe in 2016 we need another adventure. Maybe California again.

And winter hasn’t been winter yet and for that I’m grateful though the forecast for tomorrow looks scary and ugh, you know, I guess that’s about as appropriate as any way to send out 2015 – sliding on a patch of ice, I guess.

SO how do these letters work, anyway? I mean, I’ve already failed to make you feel like your year was a dismal failure… you’re probably feeling great about yourself right now. I’m not sure what the next year will bring (perhaps that’s my post for later in the week?) but I know that this year was not what I expected when midnight hit on New Years Eve and my god, we all survived so that’s a good thing.


Merry Christmas.

Thursday Ten: The Most Annoying People on Facebook Edition

Facebook. I love it or hate it depending on the day. BUT I CAN’T QUIT IT. Facebook break? Nah. I’d rather just complain about the annoying people. You know the ones…

  1. The overaggressive sports fan, particularly if they gotta bash my team to cheer theirs on. “We’re number one!” they’ll post. “We are Spartans!” Um. Dude. You’re not a Spartan. You barely made it through high school and you still mix up there/their/they’re.
  2. The narcissist. Do you have strangers take your picture? How on earth can you explain the fact that you have a photograph of yourself taken damn near everywhere you go. I’m all for healthy self-esteem, but somehow yours is over the top. You take your selfie even when you’re on an ambulance (what the what?) and somehow you have all these photographs that are supposedly candid but look anything but.
  3. The airer of dirty laundry. Pretty sure I don’t need to know when you’re fighting with your spouse and even more certain I don’t want to watch it unfold in the comment thread. Keep your marital hooey offline. (And if your kids are reading your posts? EVEN WORSE.) Also? Yeah, once we’ve watched twenty messages unfold, we’re gonna end up taking sides so if you’re wondering why no one likes your wife anymore it’s because she said a lot of really bad things. Oh. And she can’t spell.
  4. The conspiracy theorist. Snopes can be your friend, but not like you’d believe it anyway. Maybe your tin foil hat is wrapped around your noggin just a little too tight. We’re sheep who believe everything we read – that’s your rally cry. At some point, we’ll all see that you were right all along. Yep. Okay. Sure. There are far smarter people on the planet, and yet, you’re the one who’s figured out the great mysteries of life? Hmmmhmmmm.
  5. The salesperson. I am super excited for you about your nails, your smoothies, your storage containers, your (insert thing you’re selling here). Mostly – I really am A-okay with what you’ve got going on. Big mad crazy props for finding something you dig and working to support yourself. What I’m less okay with is always being the target audience for your sales pitch. I don’t want nail stickers, I think your protein drink tastes like chalk, and the last time I went to one of those kitchen parties, I got a lemon zester that doesn’t zest so much as it twirls lemon rind and it’s super useless so just… no.
  6. The racist. You’re a hateful awful person. You start sentences with, “I’m not a racist, but…” I will forever hear that as, “I am a racist butt.” You spew hate, then try to justify it, and get all bent out of shape should anyone argue with you. Unfollow. Unfriend. (It’s 2015. It’s really not okay to think like this.) Racist posts are made worse by people you know have had very little interaction with a diverse culture – how do you have reason for such hate people you’ve never even encountered? You don’t. You can’t.
  7. Vague bookers. While I’m not a fan of airing the dirty laundry, go big or go home. To allude to it and not actually say what’s up? That’s annoying too. Also, when you VagueBook, I just assume I know what it is… and I have a pretty great imagination. You’re better off just telling us so I don’t go imagining something worse – or you know, NOT AIRING YOUR DIRTY LAUNDRY ON FACEBOOK.
  8. The one who has it all together. While conventional wisdom tells me that this is more facade than reality, you’re annoying not because I dislike the idea of having it all together, but because I’m insanely jealous.
  9. The wingnut. I don’t have to agree with my friends on every little thing – it’s cool if we don’t but man, you’re pretty vocal about a large number of things that I thought people had stopped believing decades ago. You’ll believe any thing your “news’ outlet tells you which is why you seem to feel so justified in your hate. Instead, you look kinda dumb
  10. The liar. You don’t have to show us your bleek picture when life has you down, but there’s something grating about that friend who shouts from the roof top about how great life is, and then you find out that the posts are lies, the photographs are staged, and it’s all fake. Be real with me. Authenticity is not just a buzz word. Life is not always picture perfect. I embrace those imperfections because that’s what life really is all about.

The reality is, most of these people are the same person. THe other reality is that the election season is making it all worse. I’ve stopped watching pretty much anything related to the election but what seems to multiply in droves is ignorance, hatred and uninformed generalities spreading like wildfire on social media. Yay technology.  

Thursday Ten: Trying Hard to Find My Spirit edition

100 | 365

  1. Christmas is just over two weeks away and I have no idea where my spirit is or when I’ll snap out of the funk I’m in and I have no idea why this year has been such a tough one in terms of being jolly. Well. I take that back. I’m reasonably certain I know why I have no Christmas spirit. Or not enough spirit. But… trying to combat it is tough. Honestly, the fact that there’s no snow at all is a major saving grace for me right now.
  2. I rip recipes out of magazines. Ideally, I put the recipe in a plastic page protector in a binder and voila! Cookbooks. Instead, right now what I have is a massive pile of magazine pages that are not at all organized in any way. What a chaotic pile of suck.
  3. I guess this is where I mention that my 39 before 40 list includes reading that “Lifechanging Magic of Tidying Up” book. I haven’t started reading it yet. SURPRISE!
  4. Y’know what’s annoying? I just received a medical bill yesterday for an eye specialist appointment FROM APRIL. Nearly eight months to the day after my appointment, a second invoice from a day spent in Ann Arbor. (I’ve already sent them nearly two grand for the first appointment. *sob*) How does it take eight months? Thank god they were slow enough that my deductible has been met.
  5. I’m so grateful to have health insurance but dang, y’all could you know… COVER SOME STUFF.
  6. We have nearly a year to go until the presidential election and I am so disheartened I have no idea how I’m going to make it until next November. This country is a mess and these people are a joke and ugh. I feel very much like the election cycle needs to be like… a month or two long – that’s it. The candidates will come out all at once and talk about who they are and what they stand for and then like two weeks later you’ll vote and it’ll be done. When I think of all the money being wasted through this whole process right now it makes me more than a little sick.
  7. And how is 2015 almost over already? My god. Part of me is ready for a brand new year because this year has been so hard – and part of me is afraid of bleeding my bad luck into an all year. I’d just as soon stay in 2015, get all the bad stuff done with, AND THEN move on. (2015: The Year Everything Broke Including My Retinas)
  8. Work has been chaotic and it’s tough – there’s a lot to do and a lot of non-planned things keep coming up. On one hand, you’ll never hear me say that I’m bored. On the other hand… you’ll never hear me say that I’m bored.
  9. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about blogging lately – and this may well be the topic of a post of its own – but y’all know how I am about that: everytime I say it merits its own post, I never write it because I just don’t have time. remember when I had time to write? Blogging used to be a way of connecting. Now it’s just another avenue where people try to sell stuff. ANd I totally understand it and accept it and to a degree I don’t even mind that because I get it but I miss the connection. I miss when authenticity was more than a buzz word. When people weren’t just trying to find that next viral thing that looks an awful lot like that last viral thing.
  10. I love convenience but I hate doing my Christmas shopping online. It’s not the same, and I am having a hard time remembering what I bought for what person? (Also? WHY YOU GOTTA TAKE SO LONG, FREE SHIPPING?) Limited free time means shopping by mobile app in the late or wee hours (bonus points if you accept Apple Pay). It’s just a really underwhelming way to do things. That could be why I still have so much I have yet to do. Sigh.

Thursday Ten: Let’s Do Better edition

1. I’m not even really sure what I can say that hasn’t been said more eloquently by smarter people than me, but dang, y’all. I can’t even watch the news anymore because every story breaks my heart a little bit more and yeah, there’s a big big problem and I don’t know why people are choosing not to see it.

2. I woke up with a really bad feeling yesterday that lingered with me all day – who knows why or what for. I’m a constant ball of stress these days. Partly it’s the dark days and the stress and hustle and bustle of the upcoming holiday and partly it’s because work is busy and chaotic and my brain is maxed out… but that bad feeling it hung around with me all day.

3. The highlight of my day was on the drive home and shuffle served up some Tiffany and I sang along to “I Think We’re Alone Now” at the top of my lungs. As you do.

4. I’ve decided to start doing Piyo again. Mostly because I have decided to bake cheesecake for every holiday.

5. I went to the post office yesterday. I bought actual stamps. And then I mailed actual Christmas cards. And while I was there, I was nervous because of the news and crazy people doing crazy things and the fidgety guy next to me and the guy on his cellphone wearing too much cologne and this is the world we live in, I guess, where the post office becomes a scary place and not just because the people who work there are slow and grumpy.

6. I got a call from my cable company the other day and the sales rep was calling from California – he was telling me how amazing my internet is (Uh, if you say so) and how he was “luxurized by lightning fast internet.” What does that even mean and maybe YOU are “luxurized” but I live in Michigan and the only thing “lightning fast” here is… well… nothing.

7. That moment when you think you’re almost done Christmas shopping and then you realize that you have purchased far more for one kid than the other and there’s a lot of work yet to do to even things out.

8. I’m trying really hard to be grateful that we haven’t really had snow yet.

9. And that it hasn’t been super cold yet. I just know that when winter happens it’s gonna hit with a vengeance and I can’t help it, I’m going to be irritated. Even if it’s December 3 and it’s been really mild so far.

10. Lithification. A word that appeared on my daughter’s homework. What the hell is that even and why does she need to know it?

Thursday Ten: Not really sure what’s happening here edition

1. The blog was up and then it was down and then it’s up and now I’m getting a message that it might not be safe and then I switched over to Firefox and I”m not getting that message and y’all I just don’t know but here’s hoping it’s not broken because I’d hate to lose ten years worth of stuff.

2. Can you believe it? Ten years of blogging. That’s a lot of words.

3. There’s a post it on my computer from Pumpkin: “Stars can’t shine without darkness.” I’m keeping it there – partly because it seems especially meaningful because my retinal crud makes it a bit harder to see stars unless it’s super dark and partly because it’s a reasonably good reminder that there’s a reason for the tough times. Sometimes.

4. This week is a HUGE week for THe PRincess – her school musical (she has a big role) and her first meet of the season. It means there’s a lot going on but it’s good stuff, for the most part, so yay.

5. I saw a huge double rainbow when I was leaving work last night and I stood in the rain until my shoes were soaked through, taking pictures of it with my phone because sometimes after a day that is full of struggle, you are confronted with beauty and dang, it’s just a perfect opportunity to get outside of yourself, get over yourself and just see what’s in front of you, what’s beautiful and perfect and feels a bit like optimism.

6. I can tell I’ve been stressed because I think I’ve bitten the right side of my cheek so many times that now I can’t stop biting it. Some people bite their tongues…

7. And it’s been a hard week – this is the time of year we spend planning budgets and marketing engagements for our clients for the coming year. The dollars and cents isn’t as fun as the strategy and creative and concepting, and so I would love to fast foward over the PLANNING and get to the DOING. The planning hurts my brain a little.

8. Thanksgiving is next week – can’t believe it. Where has this year even gone? It’s going to be Christmas before we know it and then 2016? How is that even possible?

9. We finally have a Trader Joes in Grand Rapids and I’m more than a little in love with it.

10. DId EVERYBODY buy a Star Wars waffle iron this week? Yeesh. Lot of waffles in my Facebook feed. Lot of bigots too. But we’re talking about waffles now. But really – did everyone buy that waffle iron?

There’s a lot going on in the world and it makes me want to punch people in the face a little bit

I’m not going to talk to you about politics or Paris or refugees or the heavy stuff. I am not going to talk to you about the light stuff. I am going to tell you I am so tired and that every day I feel like I start moving and I keep moving and I have stopped drinking water at work because I don’t much have time to pee and I come home at the end of the day and I am so tired but my day isn’t over yet because there’s more mom taxiing to do and it’s dark in the morning and it’s dark when I get home and oh, this time of year, it’s a bit brutal, isn’t it?

And there’s a lot going on in the world and people are sharing their thoughts and so much of these thoughts are steeped in ugliness and I wonder how we became this world where everyone is ready to lash out at each other for seemingly no reason. I saw a woman yesterday roll down her window at a traffic light to wave her middle finger at the woman in the car next to her – screaming and flying the bird until the light turned green and why?

Why do we feel like we need to air the every thought? All the hate, all the ugliness?

People, man.

I’m tired and tired of it.

Thursday Ten: Technology Gets the Middle Finger Emoji Edition

1. After a few years of using a friend’s Mac Book Pro, I finally had to replace it and since my budget is not a Mac budget, I have a brand spanking new miserable sucktastic HP laptop. I’m trying to not hate it too much, because it seems an absurd first world problem to complain about a new computer but oh my god, makes me wish I had just gone into debt and bought a new MBP.

2. Like right now, I can make Lightroom work… unless I’m trying to import stuff then all bets are off. Why you gotta be like that, Lightroom?

3. SO, it stands that 2015 turns out to be the year all of the expensive things break and of course, of course, and a big ol raspberry to you.

4. Damn, like PCs have updates ALL. THE. TIME. What has happened since yesterday, you stupid machine?!

5. We have had what feels like unseasonably warm weather here in Michigan and it’s been kind of lovely – to go outside without a jacket in November? Yes please. I hate hot weather, but I will take 70 degrees over snow any time.

6. I gotta say, the middle finger emoji gets occasional use. In every skin tone. Because who knew I needed it more than I needed it more than I needed the taco emoji?

7. Resisting the Halloween candy is like a full time job that I’m not very good at.

8. I hated the Adele song the first time I listened to it and then I listened to it twelve more times and now I love it. Like the rest of the world.

9. The time change no  longer bothers me for the reason it did when my girls were younger (because now that they actually SLEEP, I do get my extra hour) but OH IT IS SO DARK SO EARLY and UGH.

10. I’ve seen a lot of stupidity shared on Facebook lately. WHile I know that I can be a jerk and very opinionated and very judgmental (not always, but yeah, it happens) – I usually utilize self censoring. WHY CAN’T EVERYONE ELSE?

Thursday Ten: I’m really trying super hard edition

1. You could get mad at the universe but it wouldn’t do much good because the universe don’t have time for your shizz, and just pull up your big girl panties and deal with life. Or something. I don’t know. I am trying so hard to breathe deep and make each day better than the day before – because I am at a point where I can be mad at the world or I can just plow through it and get stuff done. I have so much to be grateful for, so it may seem ridiculous for me to get mired so deeply in the muck – but make no mistake, finding out you’ve got some degenerative retinal condition that is ultimately going to rob you of your vision has an amazing capacity to make one bitchy.

2. And I know I could do better. Should do better. I know that I have not received a death sentence. I know that life just keeps on moving on. I know that there are people who are facing really HEINOUS AWFUL THINGS. But this is heinous and awful TO ME. And I get to be upset about it.

3. But not all the time. Because you know what? There’s still a lot to do in life besides feeling sorry for myself.

4. So, how about them people who play baseball? (I don’t watch baseball)

5. I am typing this on a MacBook that doesn’t really want to work anymore and ugh computer shopping – that should be fun, right? (Remember this is the year of the dying washing machine, dying refrigerator, blah blah blah.) SO over replacing the broken things. My wallet is so over replacing the broken things.

6. But there are books to read, and waffles to eat and sunsets to discover.

7. I am a work in progress. I am flawed. And somehow in the midst of all of that, I am still someone who is going to make things happen, who is going to do amazing things, who is going to SHINE. I don’t always feel that way. I usually don’t. I have to talk myself into talking myself into things.

8. As you might imagine, my brain is an interesting place these days. What a year it has been. What a year.

9. But on a positive note… there is a vibrant dendrobium orchid in a jelly jar on my dining table and it is beautiful.

10. Every little thing is gonna be alright.

I have been unbearable, miserable, and generally cranky.

I have been a whiny, miserable, mopey wussbaby and I should probably stop. I should stop, and I know I should stop and yet I am mired in the muck and I don’t know how. But I’m trying.

We hit these points of overwhelm occasionally – and by we, I mean I’m lumping you in with my maladjusted and emotionally stunted world. There are no big fixes, no easy answers and often it feels there’s no answer at all.

I know, because I’m in that place right now. That place where someone says, “Well, what could you do to make a change?” and you want to kick them in the knee because DUH if there was anything you could do, wouldn’t you totally be doing it?

(You would)

And in those cases where it feels like there’s no easy way forward, I guess the next step would be to go sideways. I mean, like you have anything else better to do? If you can’t move forward, move sideways, just for the love of all things holy do not stop moving because you’ve been sitting there for awhile now, and if you don’t move, even a little bit, you’re going to have a harder time finding any sort of momentum to start moving again

(by YOU I still mean me)

So, maybe you’re in the midst of a rough patch

(you are)

But you won’t always be

(this too shall pass)

And somehow and someway you’ll get to a point again where this is all in your rear view.

But not today.

And that’s fine.

Can you feel your right foot? Pick it up and gently take a step to your right. Slide your left foot next to it.

There. You’re doing it. You’re moving again. It won’t feel like much. It doesn’t have to be much. But just… move.

Take a breath and remember how it feels to move, how it feels to take control and just find your way again.

39 Before 40 – A list of things to do before I’m too old to care

  1. Buy something frivolous.
  2. Take a spontaneous day off.
  3. Enter a photography contest.
  4. Buy brand new towels.
  5. Finally, for real, start saving.
  6. Eat more tacos. [Make a new taco recipe every month]
  7. Try a new place to eat every month.
  8. Learn how to put on eye make up so I don’t look asleep in every photograph taken of me.
  9. Create a font out of my handwriting
  10. Buy new sheets
  11. Take a cooking class
  12. Do the Couch to 5K program again
  13. Run an actual 5K
  14. Stay at a fancy pants hotel for a night
  15. Master making french press coffee
  16. Finally pull the carpet tacks out of the basement
  17. Go see a live concert
  18. Hit the $1,000 mark fundraising mark for Foundation Fighting Blindness
  19. Make flossing a habit
  20. Read “The Lifechanging magic of tidying up” – and try to…uh…tidy up
  21. Buy a statement piece – whether it’s clothing or an accessory – something sassy and amazing
  22. Get to an amusement park
  23. Try a yoga class
  24. Try a ballet class
  25. Tackle a DIY decor project for the house
  26. Spend a day curled up on the couch reading
  27. Finally use my spa gift card
  28. Cook something really difficult (like…toast. Or something!)
  29. Use only actual dollar bills, y’all… for a week. And save the change.
  30. Christmas project with the girls. Shhh. I can’t tell you what it is. It will spoil the surprise.
  31. Go ice skating
  32. Cook using an ingredient I’ve never used before (vanilla beans, I’m lookin’ at you)
  33. Get a passport
  34. Go see two movies in one day
  35. Send more cards and/or handwritten letters
  36. Drive to a small town I’ve never been to, within 50-miles-ish-radius and walk around
  37. Make it through the winter without drastically cutting my hair (trims are allowed, but none of this, “Oh! It’s February! Let’s chop my hair!” nonsense)
  38. Create a new tradition
  39. Get up to Traverse City to attend another event at 2Lads Winery (they know how to throw a party!)