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Archive for November, 2008

As the blog world can be a very small place sometimes with its connectedness, many of you might have already heard about this, but if not, I wanted to draw whatever attention I could to it.

The fabulous Kelly Rae Roberts is raising money to help an amazing family in Rwanda, inspired by Jen Lemen’s powerful, love-filled connection to the family. And one person will also win an original Kelly Rae Roberts painting.

Most of us will never meet Esteria, or her family, or know what her life is like. But we can help her. We can improve a family’s life through love and a small donation and through the power of connections made through blog communities.

Click here to read some of Esteria’s story, and how you can help

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Based on a True Story.com

Jaime grabbed her morning coffee, the first thing she did every morning, and headed to her computer, already thinking about what to write about on her blog. She had no idea when she started it how quickly she would become addicted to sharing the mostly true stories from her life, with snippets of things she made up on a whim thrown in for good measure. She did name it Based on a True Story, after all. Real life isn’t always fun and exciting and glamorous, so she saw nothing wrong with making her life sound more interesting, and maybe mysterious.

Her readers were never really sure what was true and what she made up, and she always loved reading the comments as they tried to guess what was fact and what was fiction. She considered it a sign that she was a good writer that almost no one ever guessed correctly.

She took her first sip of coffee and almost purred at the perfect, sweet vanilla taste. Coffee, in her mind, should taste like a dessert. It made drinking it so much more fun. She started scrolling through the comments, chuckling at some of the responses that had come in from her last post about her late-night walks through the city. But when she got halfway through the comments, she froze and her hands began to shake as she read what she saw on the screen. She didn’t even notice some of the coffee that sloshed out of her cup.

“You think you are so clever. You think no one knows the truth about you. I know exactly who you are.”

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I never really thought Thanksgiving was one of my favorite holidays — it is so easy to get caught up in the “Have to travel, lots of people on the road, blah blah” of it. And I’m a Christmas girl. I love the magic of the season. I love Christmas decorations and carols and presents, finding things I think the people I love will love to receive, finding out what Santa brought. (I know a certain Grinchette is gagging right now 🙂 ).

But in the past few years, I’ve really started to enjoy the simple pleasures of Thanksgiving — sharing food with people you love. Thinking of things you are grateful for, celebrating those things.

I have a lot to be grateful for, and I know it — B, my family, my parents working on their health and doing great with it, my mom doing SO much better than how she was at the start of the year, my good relationship with my parents, good friends, lots of love, lots of laughter, my good health, a good job, my creativity, sharing my life with someone who is creative and passionate and always wanting to grow and do more, a nice house to live in, a reliable Toaster car, Myra the WonderPup and the joy and love she brings to my life, a better appreciation of food as a result of my food allergies (I cook more now than I ever have, and I enjoy the food so much more), living in the South and not having to deal with New England winters anymore, being physically strong enough to rock climb and run through the woods, and all the magic and joy that finds its way into my life.

A couple of posts from blog land have really got me thinking and have been EXACTLY what I needed to read and to be reminded of”

This post that felt like getting a smack on the head from the Universe, and which I have printed out and have hanging in my cube and work, and will print out and make another copy to keep at my desk at home.

This post on my lovely friend Brandi’s blog (who is on this amazing journey to heal herself, and she just rocks the socks in all kinds of ways)

And this cd, which has many of the amazing songs that were part of President-elect Obama’s (YAY!) campaign, and the songs are uplifting songs of hope, intercut with excerpts from his speeches (and one from Martin Luther King Jr.’s I have a dream speech). It gave me chills the first time I listened to it, and it fills me with hope. If you want some inspiration, or just some great music, grab this. You will not be sorry.

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Outside looking in

One of my friends on Facebook, someone I went to high school with, recently posted photos from high school. Most of the photos were from high school theater performances and productions.

What struck me looking at those old photos was how much time I spent on the outside looking in. I knew just about everyone in the photos, and I was friendly with almost all of them, but I wasn’t part of any them. I wasn’t part of any of the groups, I wasn’t close with any of them. Even though I was also in theater with them, I was still on the outside, superficially friends but not close, not baring my soul to them, or learning their secrets, or really ever having more than the most casual of conversations.

I think I have been like that for a large part of my life. In college, I had closer friends, some very close, and I was friendly with people in classes and in the theater department, but I wasn’t a part of them either. I have never quite “fit in.” A part of it is that I didn’t want to “fit in,” as it somehow seemed to equal conforming and being like everyone else. A part of it is that I didn’t know how to become part of the group — I am a girl who has always lived very much in her head, and buried in books, finding those worlds sometimes more real than the one where I’m walking around. And then there is the part that is shy, especially in groups (which becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy actually). And then there is the empath part of me. I can pick up on people’s emotions, and I sort of take them on for myself. I want to fix people’s problems, I want to make them happy, often at a cost to me. Being around a lot of people can make me feel drained, I feel I give my energy away. But it used to feel like a failure. It used to bother me that I wasn’t part of a group, that I wasn’t close with any of the groups I was around. I was peripheral.

Today, I would still stay I am on the outside of groups now — friendly with a lot of people, but not in many inner circles. I think this actually works better for me. I am very close, and completely connected, with a few people (B and Mikki being the main ones), and I will go out and spend time with different groups, but I actually prefer it this way.

Funny what old photos can get you thinking about.

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Laugh till you cry

Friday, B and I went to support our friend Torin, who was performing improv comedy at a local comedy theater in Carrboro. Torin is this wonderfully passionate person, who is always up for learning new things and pushing himself to grow. He had taken an introduction to improvisation class and his class and another introductory level class had their first performances on Friday.

It was amazing watching the different people perform, and cheering on people who were trying something new and scary (in a very public way).

After the first two student performances, there were performances by more advanced students, and then finally, a performance by the owner and some of the other regulars at the theater. The performances were all excellent, the kind where you are laughing so hard, you start crying and your belly aches with it. One of the more advanced students created this awesome evil mastermind — The Evil Doctor of Minor Inconvenience. One of his goals is to raise the water on streets one inch above the drain grates. These people were all seriously talented and hilarious.

It reminded me how much I miss theater. It reminded me that you are never too old to try something new and push yourself in a new direction (there were two people in the introductory classes who were easily 60).

And it reminded me of the cleansing, healing power of deep laughter.

Find something that provokes some laugh-till-you-cry moments this week. You’ll feel better for it.

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Friday Question

Hello!

I do realize I have pretty much fallen off the blog world lately. I am sorry — there has been lots of running around, some feelings of having my words locked up and not free flowing (which only gets worse the longer I go without writing), along with some normal, and not unexpected, mostly minor ups and downs that just haven’t made it anywhere outside of my head yet. But mostly, it’s been a time thing. I miss blogging, so it is something I have to be better about finding and making time for.

To get me started and get some words flowing again, a question from Friday Questions: When you were in high school did you eat dinner with your family or on your own?

Growing up, I almost always ate dinner with my parents, unless I was babysitting or at theater practice. We would sit at the table, and have dinner that my mom cooked and we would just talk. I never minded it, and actually liked that we sat down to eat as a family when my Dad got home from work. But now, knowing that a lot of families don’t do that, I think of it as a gift, and a contributor to the nice, normal, safe upbringing that I had. I don’t say that lightly. I know that having a happy, safe childhood, where you know without question that you belong and are loved in your family is a huge gift and good life-building block.

Now, I didn’t always like what we had to eat, but I knew if I didn’t eat what was prepared, I wouldn’t be presented with other options that I liked better. This isn’t because my mom doesn’t cook well, in fact, she is a very good cook. But she grew up eating, and thus cooked this way herself, very typically Irish meals — meat, potato, one vegetable, maybe a salad. There were variations of course — homemade spaghetti sauce (still my favorite anywhere), breakfast for dinner nights, take-out nights where we would get pizza or subs, substituting rice for potato, but the staple was Meat-and-Potatoes.

I am not a meat girl, I never have been. I actively hated the taste of red meat. I loathed pork chops. Just the smell of ham would make me feel less hungry. I could manage chicken, but I never really enjoyed it all that much. But, I had to eat what was cooked. Thus began my love affair with ketchup. I would often put ketchup on just about any meat that made it to the dinner table, because I hated the taste of the meat and needed to disguise it in order to get it down. I have always eaten just one thing at a time, and never mixed my food, so I would always leave my meat for last, hoping that somehow it would either magically disappear from my plate or turn into more potatoes and veggies by the time I made my way to that side of the plate. Unfortunately, that never seemed to happen. I would try eating the smallest bites possible that I could get away with and then say I was full (wasn’t very successful with that). I would try eating it fast to get it over with faster. If it was something with a bone or fat (gag), I could manage to leave half of it uneaten, because I wouldn’t eat that stuff or eat anything near it. (Side note, this was also true, even when it wasn’t meals made at my house. During family holidays, when I would sit at the kids’ table with my younger cousins while the adults usually ate in another room, I would trade my meat for my cousins’ vegetables). Is it any wonder that I became a vegetarian? The only reason I eat chicken now is because of my food allergies — I needed some kind of option for when I’m dining out.

Now, family dinners are few and far between, since I live in North Carolina, and my parents are in Massachusetts, but I still look forward to sitting down with my parents over dinner. And my mom continues to adapt to my changing diet. When I was a strict vegetarian, she learned to make vegetarian meals for me. She would buy more vegetables and make bigger salads, even though she wouldn’t eat most of the vegetables herself. She would make sure at holidays that I had stuffing that hadn’t touched the meat, gravy that wasn’t made from meat fat. With my food allergies, she continues to learn new recipes, including modifying her world-famous Swedish Apple Pie (my favorite pie in the world) so I can still eat it.

Food has always been a big part of family for me. And it has always been a way to show and express love — something I do now when I cook at home for B.


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A life list

When I was in Louisville, KY, I found this awesome little book shop and one of the first things I saw was the fabulous journal section (I am a sucker for journals). And one of the first journals I saw in this great collection was Listography – Your life in lists. It gives you all these different lists to fill out, and it has fun quirky illustrations opposite the lists. I was almost swooning in the bookstore. Needless to say, I quickly bought it and spent all evening playing with lists in my new journal.

One of the lists is “Things you’d like to do before you die.” While this list will continue to grow, I thought I would share what is on the list so far. In no particular order:

1. See AC/DC in concert

2. Drink tea in the Mountains of Nepal.

3. Learn to sail.

4. Spend time living on a boat.

5. Learn to surf (and actually the illustration on the opposite page is this!)

6. Private

7. Visit a Zen monastery in Japan.

8. See the Great Wall of China.

9. Knit a complete scarf.

10. Try riverboarding.

11. Go white water rafting.

12. Visit Egypt and see the Great Pyramids

13. Become vegan for at least six months.

14. Watch the sunset in Hawaii.

15. Skydive.

16. Dive the Great Barrier Reef.

17. Get tattoos

18. Have a  photography show/exhibit

19. Go to a spa for a full day of pampering

20. Publish a number of my books.

21. Go on a safari in Africa

22. Learn to swing dance.

23. Experience natural hot springs.

24. Build a Marilyn Monroe photo collection

25. Watch Breakfast at Tiffany’s

26. Learn to Irish stepdance

27. Find out more of Auntie El’s life story.

28. Be an extra in a film.

29. Visit Yosemite and go rock climbing

30. Go hiking/camping/kayaking for a week

31. Shoot a wedding for a friend

32. Open up a cafe/bookstore

33. Read the Catcher in the Rye

34. Learn to speak Italian

35. Jump off a rock cliff in Greece

36. Go to all the major amusement parks in the U.S.

37. Run through a field of wildflowers in the mountains a la Sound of Music

38. Kiss B under a waterfall

39. Watch the birth of an animal

40. Go to the Eifel Tower with B

41. Run a marathon

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