Thursday, November 27, 2014

Thanksgiving seen and heard

Thanksgiving morning is gentle and warm like a baby's breath against your cheek. Snow is falling ever so softly and I'm snuggled up with coffee contemplating the day. Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is on and show tunes fill the living room with their merry voices. Snores are still being heard from upstairs where it has been so vacant the past three months. It's now filled, if just for a brief time, with footsteps and laughter and the creaking of the floor. My heart is full and expectant with looked-forward to things.

I am also weary and heartsick for things that have happened in our country this week. I am even more weary and heartsick because of responses I have heard from people who are called to love, not pronounce that they are so tired of the 'race' card being played. If you're tired of hearing it imagine living it. Because you're tired of it doesn't mean it doesn't happen. Tuck your white privilege back into your pants before it starts dragging on the floor. 

I digress, though.

Today I am so very thankful. My house is loud and rambunctious once again, and the fridge is packed with food to eat. Oreo pudding and stacked chicken enchiladas were partaken of last night, and a movie was watched late into the night as we fell asleep under the lull of a warm house and people we love. 

I do not take these emotions lightly. I enfold them and stash them away neatly to take out when the house is again quiet. I get up to make another pot of coffee and ready the cream sticks for when the tribe, including an extra nephew, tumbles down the steps - still bleary with sleep but looking for sustenance. We will huddle on the couches and watch the parade, take a nap, watch another movie, and ready ourselves for the huge family meal at my sister's house tonight. 

Thanksgiving is a personal holiday replete with things we take for granted. Today, though, I look past what I hold dear and pray for healing. For eyes to be opened. For FB posts that don't try to put people in their place. For understanding where we haven't tried to understand before. To look at pain and really SEE it. To see violence and not say, "See, that just shows their character." 

To not just look at what WE have and say #Blessed and #TooBlessed and #thegoodlife. 

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. Spend it well, love deeply, and remember to look outside of your happiness to sometimes see others pain. And to embrace it. 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014


I'm sitting here staring at an empty yogurt container, hair uncombed, and crumbs on the counter. My belly is full of coffee and I'm contemplating a second pot. Laundry is spinning and I have a long series of docs that I need to be working on but don't have all the info as of yet. It can wait another day. Right now I'm contemplating Christmas lights and how I might have them up the first of December. From my Facebook feed it seems I am a month behind.

Christmas-all-the-things is upon us.

Joy to the world and all that jazz. I love Christmas. Yet, I find myself unwaveringly indifferent this year to the early Christmas hoopla. I feel almost Grinch-ish in nature and am struggling to identify why. My nativity and all its intricate figures await my steady hand to arrange it with care, and my collection of Santas and snowmen eagerly await their
appearance. I think fondly on past Christmases when lights didn't go up until the middle of December. I can hear you gasping, yet I was ready, so ready, to make things festive and bright while wrapping each light around the evergreens out front. Now we're expected to have things out and brightly shining one day after Halloween. Or we're behind.

I hold social media at fault. And myself.
I am an over-sharer. I acknowledge this and accept it

I embrace social media and all its things. I do believe, though, that it enables us to share things that we never used to see. Now we see just how on top of things our friend in town is, what with her hand-painted and hand-sewn Christmas crafts. We see just how early others put things up, while in the past, we never would have seen that and would prepare at our own pace. Viewing others and what they do can create a sense of anxiety in ourselves to keep up, to run side-by-side, to compete.

Maybe it's that sense of competition that I don't want. The consumerism of today has played a huge role in making us feel that we're behind, to get out and SHOP, get that sale price or you're missing out. Make this Pinterest-inspired Christmas Advent calendar made out of shells, glitter, and wood or you're not worthy. It's a heart attack waiting to happen. But you see, I love Pinterest. I believe it to be a fabulous tool to pin our favorite little things, sayings, and so forth. When we allow it to take over our lives and become, shall we say #Pinterested, we're far gone. The same goes with Facebook. I'm 100% guilty. I want to find a way to use it in moderation instead of it being stuck to the end of my fingertips in the form of my phone. It's ever present. It's all-consuming. We're a notification-driven people. 

Until we figure out moderation we will all be products of an anxiety-ridden society. We want the #best and we want to be #winning. We want to be #performing for a #socialmedia crowd and love #attention - we all want to be #affirmed in our daily lives. This drives us to share. #GUILTY as charged. I'm searching myself while gaining control of my #oversharing fingers.

The snow is blowing around in a fine mist outside and I try to tamp down the itchy-finger feeling of taking a picture of it. I can see the angle in my mind, yet I know not every moment can be a photo op. I must teach myself to understand this or I will lose joy-filled moments in my life. I know in myself that I can put up my decorations any time I want to. No person and their carefully strung lights should ever make me feel as if I'm behind. My pace is just that, my pace. I've only  just started my Christmas list and haven't bought one present yet. It might be weeks before I start and that's okay. Thanksgiving is one week and two days away and I'm enjoying my vintage wax turkeys every second until the last bite is swallowed.

Don't give in to the 'countdown' to Black Friday. 
What I need is a countdown to Thanksgiving.D
Then you can start the Christmas countdown. Only then. 

Countdown Turkey!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Interstellar: Lose yourself (minor spoilers)

**Minor spoiler alert**

I felt like I was in a cathedral, vast and dream-like, sitting on the edge of my seat. Hurtling through not just space and time, but another galaxy on the cusp of a raging black hole. My breath grew shallow as the actor was swallowed up and entered a place no one can explain with any real certainty. My popcorn was hot and the drink went down cold. The movies, my friends, are alive and well.

Along with horror movies, I await the best and brightest of film in the space genre. Give it to me any way you can - Armageddon, Event Horizon, Contact, Alien - I will take it and tuck it under my arm with wonder. I wish I could say I'm a Star Wars geek, but I am not. I like some science fiction but am mostly a straight rocket-ship-into-the-stars type girl. Throw in a few aliens or even better a 'life force' or 'beings' we're unsure of and I'm a goner. 

When I first saw the previews for Interstellar I nudged George and said, "We will be here on opening day for that." It looked big. It looked entertaining. And it looked able to take me on a trip I couldn't otherwise take. It starts off on our earth in the future, an earth that is slowly dying agriculturally, and centers on a family of farmers. Matthew McConaughey was a former NASA pilot who now farms - as farming is the only way to sustain life in this not-too-distant earth. Dust, and lots of it, abound and as they stumble onto anomalies in gravity and so forth, they also stumble onto a secret. 

I don't want to give away plot spoilers, but we all know that he takes off into galaxies unknown to find a place for the people on earth and future generations to live on. The ride is spectacular, and the special effects are phenomenal. I really did feel like I was in the cathedral of space hanging on for dear life, as we spun round and round on our way to Saturn and a mysteriously-placed wormhole. Because well all know that wormholes are man-made (or alien-made? I didn't know). 

Most days we get up, drink our coffee, and ponder what our to-do lists are for the minutes that stretch out before us. Work, menial tasks, and sometimes the scrubbing of a toilet. For nearly three hours, that world was totally blacked out for me. It took me on a ride that helped me to remember that the universe doesn't revolve around me and my day to day life. The vastness of the stars and the mysteries they hold, as unfolded in the movie, remind me of the great work of the unknown. The world, or our earth, wasn't the only thing created when God created the heavens. He created so much more - more than our minds could ever wrap themselves around. This movie takes you to heights, then plunges you back down again to ask yourself over and over, "What just happened?" 

Yes, there are questions. This article explains just a bit of the scientific aspects of the movie and the questions we all have: http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/11/11/neil-degrasse-tyson-breaks-down-interstellar-black-holes-time-dilations-and-massive-waves.html

What I took away from Interstellar were several things:

1)  Our universe if bigger than us.
2)  We must be good stewards of our planet.
3)  There are times when the greater good comes before self.
4)  Space movies kick @$$.

I highly recommend Interstellar and give it nearly 5/5 stars. Lose yourself in it and let your everyday world go for three fast-moving hours. The actors are wonderful and give tremendous performances from Matthew McConaughey, Anne Hathaway, and Jessica Chastain to Michael Caine and John Lithgow. See this movie. See it on the big screen because a TV will not do it justice. Take in the cold beauty of the star-laden universe, its colors and time and gravity. Let them enfold you and take you to a place you've never been before. Let the unbelievable enrapture you. Isn't that what movies are made for? 

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Never succumb to the weak words

I read voraciously as a child. I read books picked out at Little Professor Bookstore, and I read magazines plus newspapers. When commercials for wacky products would come on in the middle of Scooby Doo, I would repeat the addresses at the end to see how many times I could read it before it cut back to the program. My bookshelves groaned with title after title, even at a very young age. Dad built each of us floor to ceiling shelves and mine was packed tighter than tight. Needless to say, I am a reader/book hoarder. 

I've been pondering what it is women like to read. We all love a good fictional novel, replete with settings that make us yearn to travel and see love in new ways. This kind of book is good for the soul because it stirs within you a restless need to see the world. We all need to see the world, or just get out of our little corner of it more often. Many of us will never visit another country, but that doesn't mean we can't travel there with the words as our guide, that we can't delve into the lives of others and be taken away by the windswept moors of England. When you let the words take you captive it lets you feel the air where we are aren't comfortable and secure - a little bit of danger and anonymity can make you feel alive. Non-fiction holds reign on my bookshelves as well, and I've read about many people and places that held my attention deep into the dark folds of night. I've traveled with a man across Siberia as he tucked into tiny rooms and ate strange foods, as well as a woman reporting undercover in Afghanistan where her life was in danger around every corner. Your heart beats heavily as you feel yourself in their shoes and you know not what lurks around every grungy corner. 

I feel alive when I'm reading even if that means fighting with my husband about the light being on. It's always one more page...one more chapter. By the time I've reached the end of the chapter he's fallen asleep and I read on as the cloak of midnight encroaches and is gone.

Women need good things to read. 

I used to read our encyclopedias when I ran out of other things. Siberia, Antarctica, New York City, and tiny villages in Romania - these were the countries and pages I turned to and pored over every word. Don't let my encyclopedia-reading ways change your views of me. I believe what I was searching for was MORE. More grit, more to chew on, more to grab with my mind and turn it around in my brain. Our women's magazines are filled with makeup tips, hairstyles, and ways to please your husband. Let it never be said that I don't care about those things, I do, but this is filler that is spackling up our minds. Minds that need vibrancy and intelligence.  

On occasion I'll pick up a book, one of those trashy romance novels, and glance through it just to see how it reads to me today. I'm mostly appalled at what I find in it by the way women are treated. We are relegated to the kitchen to make sure that the chicken is tender, the pies are warm, and the baby is dry. Maternally-household-istic jargon aside, I embrace my role as wife and mother. But we, as women, need to be stepping out of the roles that so many of these books in the past were written for.

I want to be taken seriously by men and women. I will not be judged by how clean my yard is or how tall my rosebushes are. I want to have a conversation in my writings or wherever it may be, and be taken at face value for what I've said. I don't want my opinions tossed aside because I'm a a woman. 

Because that does still happen. 
Every day in every part of this world.

As a woman, I want to ready brilliantly-enticing articles that make think. I no longer want to read articles that tell me to forgive to 'keep the peace'. I want to talk and fight it out, not simply give in and crumple inside myself. I don't want to be told that to make a relationship work one has to give blindly, over and over and until there is nothing filling you up and you have nothing left to give. This kind of rhetoric is telling us that we must always give in, forgive, say I'm sorry when God designed us to walk side by side, not one behind the other. I want to live in a world where an assertive woman is not called bossy but brave. Where we can give our view and not just have it called a woman's perspective. 

We need women writers to be themselves bravely.
We need words that make us strong not weak.
We need sentences that allow us to be more.

I am fortunate to be married to a man that has pushed me to be these things. This, after so many years not believing in myself. We were two cultures that clashed, who then fought it out, and believed in each other. He believes in strong writing for women, and though I know that making him an astounding sandwich is part of his love language, he also knows that mine is affirmation of strong words. He believes in those words and he reads them. 

Find strong things to read. We must not succumb to the weak words.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Don't fill up each day. Live it.

Taking a bit of stock in my day to day this windy Monday. November is here, October breezing in and out with all her bits of color and mayhem. I enjoyed October with abandon this year because I decided I would. Normally I would have been whooshing here and there to soccer games, but no, I was firmly planted in my seat at the kitchen table typing away. I hung up Jack O Lantern faces, set around glittery skulls, and made a dummy to sit on the porch for the season. I brought him in this morning, what with his torn pants and bony face, as his season is done. I carved pumpkins and lit them every evening and watched burn merrily. I pitched my squashed and frozen Jacko into the garden this morning and prepare for the next thing.
I love this stage of my life. 
The house is quiet.
I'm doing ME. 

The words I need to fill up the spaces are coming fast and furious and I embrace them and hug them close. I have to do me because no one else will and I don't want her to disappear into the thin seams of life, always awaiting the next thing to come to pass.
 No, waiting isn't an option so I've slashed open the veins and let the words and phrases pour our. Spill out voraciously so that I can become empty of them, so they can breathe and stir about - simmering in a rich stew of longing and having. The longings, which come so often as younger versions of ourselves, reaching and conforming and not yet seeing who we are as women. I find the having to be satisfying and satiating, I'm not reaching into the abyss of small children and toys scattered about. It's such a change of trying to find yourself in the morass of age and youth and the needs of a family young and wanting. 

Love you.
Love your wrinkles that tell a story.

I can't say the same for gray hair because I'm not sure that I will ever let those appear until I'm so old that all of a sudden it will be a breath of fresh air not to paint and primp them into order every month or so. For now they will be a wicked red resting in a nest of dark brown, or a tint of caramel when the months are warm and sun-drenched.
  Why not? Why let them go gray and feel yourself aged? Some can embrace it, but not me. My husband is one of those that ages like a fine wine, falling deeper into his features more handsome than ever. Gray would only make me feel like someone else, so I paint....and will continue to do so. 

I can feel the air changing as we turned our clocks back and in doing so turned our faces towards the holiday season. Heavy sigh. I love the holidays but I don't love the rush. I'm deciding to take each day of November and enjoy the march to Thanksgiving - not Christmas. We have plenty of time for that and all the anxieties and rush that comes with it. For now I can see ahead several weeks and know that my KIDS will be coming home, if even for a few days to eat turkey and stuffing. To know the warmth of home and fill their bellies with more than just food. I'm counting those days down. One, two, three...

Enjoy today.
Enjoy tomorrow.
In fact, enjoy tonight when your loved ones come home.
Take the time to kiss them home.
Snuggle on the couch.
And embrace the morning when the cold dawn freezes the tip of your nose.
Each moment is here. In the now.

Friday, October 31, 2014

I'm a crafty word-wrangler

This is the last column that will appear from me in the BH. Onward and upward!

In my younger years I was a crafty gal. I made loads of clothespin Santas, pins made from vintage buttons, and sculpted weathered snowmen with twig arms from modeling clay. Tiny antique spools made into Christmas ornaments and angels with tiny tin wings that fit snugly onto a tree branch - I sold all these and many more at local shops on consignment and made a tidy sum of spending money. That ‘craftiness’ is still inside of me, but it doesn’t seem to want to come out anymore. It seems like a chore to haul supplies out and paint well-worn pieces back into submission or to create and make simple ordinary things glisten. What’s become of me?

My home is a mélange of eclectic pieces and carefully selected ‘things’ I’ve gleaned over the years. I no longer buy whatever catches my eye because now, I want it to have a home – not just a place to sit and gather dust. I have many vintage frames that I would paint gold, white, or whatever color was available to me in the vast array of my husband’s leftover paint cans. The options to paint whatever trinket I bought was endless. Being married to a painter has its benefits because along with having paint on hand, there were also the options of glazes, textures, and rubbing stains to make my things pretty. Use them I did and the various coffee tables, library tables, and small pieces of found architecture are evidence of what used to call my name. I still love these pieces but I no longer have the call to craft them into submission. As I look around my kitchen while typing, my eyes fall on found gingerbread trim as well as several signs I painted in years past. Sign-painting was a forte of mine and if pushed I still might enjoy it. Now, there are so many ‘word’ signs that the market has been overrun with them. Saturated, one might say.

Being crafty is not necessarily something you’re born with. I enjoyed all those days of being on the hunt for new buttons to create with, finding boards that were just right to paint on, and small pieces of furniture I knew I could turn into something spectacular with just the right shade of paint and sandpaper. It is a profitable business that, if done correctly, can net you some nice pocket change. In those days with small children, any extra income was sought after and appreciated. It still is, but my focus has changed from doing tedious things to doing what I was meant to do. I have many friends that are skilled at finding junk and turning it into treasure – and for many, many years that was the path I was on. Our Junk Fling sales are so fondly treasured that at times I pine for their existence once again. It’s the thrill of the find and the excavation of usable gold that you know will be pleasantly sellable. For some of us, we can look at a box full of old wooden or metal pieces and know exactly what they could be turned into – rustic pleasures that charm when fitted into this or that bit or bob. It’s just under my surface. For now, it’s words that I wrangle into submission to make cohesive sentences and paragraphs. I look at them as buried treasure just under my skull and the hunt for them is the thrill. Maybe someday, when I’ve found all the words and written them down, I’ll haul the paint brushes out once again. But that is for another day.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Turning the page

Must be time to turn the page?

If you're new to my blog then welcome! If you're an old friend then welcome back. I've had this blog for over seven years. Seven years. I wasn't even forty when I started this deal. I almost had to re check that fact because I couldn't quite believe I've been blogging that long. My aim here at Women Who Eat Chocolate is not to ply you with pretty words. I'm real and am getting more adept and letting it all hang out. Since my column was eliminated from The Bargain Hunter, I want to continue giving you my writings - and on the plus side since they aren't for a company, and just for me, you'll get more of the real me. 

Sounds scary.

If you like hard-hitting truth then you've come to the right place. Because I'm a woman in her forties who stopped caring what people thought about her right around the 40ish mark. Whoa, let's talk a bit about how freeing that is. In the words of my blogger-in-training/niece McKenzie, this is the quote she uses to describe my writing:

Hey, this is her description of my writing ... not mine. 
*secretly rubs hands together laughing like Vincent Price*

Join me as I try to keep this blog updated, and also as I maybe, just maybe, get that book started that needs written. We all have a book that needs written. 

Here's to turning the page.