Charity during the Holidays: Focusing on the GIVING instead of the GETTING

DECEMBER IS FINALLY HERE! Have I mentioned how much I love the holiday season? The music, the lights… I love finding/making the perfect gifts for my family and friends. Granted, I am not all that fond of cold weather and snow (I am nearly ALWAYS cold unless it’s above 70° F), but I can appreciate how beautiful it is… from indoors.

What this season also means for me is giving to those who are struggling. When I was a child, we were a very frugal family. My parents saved every penny, used an impressive amount of coupons, and had an amazing budget. Every meal was made from scratch, and our annual garden was gigantic. My mom canned, froze, or dried every food available. My dad was our sole income for a long time. He was an auto mechanic at one of the local dealerships, so his paychecks varied by how much work came through the door. No cars meant no money. There were times when my dad came home from work at noon and didn’t go back to work for a week. Times were tough.

Our church would put Christmas boxes together for the less fortunate (we always called them “poor boxes” when I was little) with presents and food. I distinctly remember getting some of those boxes one year. My brother and I never knew we were struggling financially. My parents never discussed finances with us. We knew things were pretty bad when the boxes showed up on our doorstep. My mom had tears of gratefulness and relief in her eyes, and even though my dad didn’t show a lot of emotion, I could feel the wave of stress flow away when he brought those boxes into the house.

As an adult, I also know what it was like to struggle. I remember one year, when my kids were small, how little we had. We couldn’t even scrape enough together to buy a Christmas tree. Honestly, we didn’t even have a place to put a real tree in our little home. I contemplated how I was going to make the season festive for our kids.

No money for a tree? Try taping construction paper to a wall. Sometimes it’s all you can do.

As you already know, I am a craftsy person. I hold onto various art materials… you know, just in case. (**NOT a hoarder! LOL!) I made a construction paper tree and taped it to the wall. I had some tiny ornaments that my grandma had given me. I paperclipped them to our little tree. I sure wish I had owned a camera back then. I recall being very impressed with myself for our little 3 foot paper tree. The kids were happy we had a tree to put presents under.

 

I WANT OTHER FAMILIES TO FEEL RELIEF AND JOY… ESPECIALLY DURING THE HOLIDAYS. I am able to do that, with the help of my employer.

Every year, my employer adopts local families for the holiday season. Every store within our company adopts a family. We contact our local schools or churches, and have them nominate families in dire need of assistance. Wish lists are made, and my coworkers and I get to go shopping and buy food, presents, clothes, shoes, and coats for them. I use my money saving skills to aid in the shopping. I use every coupon and sale to our advantage to give as much as possible with the funds available to us… Maximum benefits with minimal money. The more I can get, the better! We wrap them up, label them, and deliver them before school closes for the winter break. It literally brings tears to my eyes to see the parents’ faces when we walk in with bag after bag filled with presents. I cannot begin to tell all of you how much it means to me to bring some joy and peace to someone that is struggling.

Here’s what I’m asking of you for this year, and years to come… I want each and every one of you to do some random act of kindness for someone else – preferably a stranger. I don’t care if it’s as simple as a kind word or little gesture. Focus on giving joy. Don’t make this statement dirty, and don’t think it means that you have to give away everything you own. I just want there to be more good deeds being done. This world NEEDS more kind words and kind gestures… with nothing required in return, with no strings attached. The feeling of inner peace I get from serving others far outweighs any physical thing I could possibly receive.

One of my dear friends made me this pallet tree several years ago, and it’s what I use every year instead of a live tree. I adore it.

 

Let’s get out there and do some good in the world. Let’s show some kindness and set a good example for those around us. Let’s inspire others to do the same.

 

LET’S SHOW SOME LOVE!

 

The art of humility

Over the last few weeks, since my surgery, as I have been forced to stay off my foot the majority of the day, I have learned a valuable lesson in humility. I have always been a do-it-myself, independent woman. Over the last three and a half weeks, I haven’t been able to do… well, not very much. I went back to work two weeks ago, with the understanding that my foot has to be elevated for at least fifteen minutes every hour. All of this has reigned in my ego.

Not only have I had to rely on other people to fix my food, get me water, and pain medication, I have had to have help putting on my clothes, going to the bathroom, taking a shower, climbing the stairs, and getting situated in bed. I am so very grateful for all the help that my family and friends have given me.

I have always had a problem accepting help. I don’t want to say that I feel like it’s charity… It just makes me feel like I have no control of myself, I suppose. It makes me feel weak. It makes me feel incapable. I have had to ask for help… straight up, verbally,  ASK for help… Not beating around the bush hinting that “it would be nice if… but I don’t want to trouble you just because I need to go to the bathroom” asking. It has been an eye opening experience for sure. I think the internal struggle within me stems from my shyness. I am happy to say that I am getting better about that.

Ah, the things we do to be pain free… eventually.

So, as I sit here reflecting over the last nearly four weeks of recovery, I can honestly say that this foot surgery has been the most painful, challenging experience that I think I’ve ever had as an adult. Seriously! I don’t think even childbirth was this bad. I deal with pain pretty well, but WOW! I’m sure it’s probably because it’s a foot, after all. I’m thinking that it will all be worth it if I can eventually walk without pain anymore.

 

My lovely daughter having a movie night with me.

 

 

My daughter, bless her heart, gave up an evening to have a movie night with me. She brought me a chocolate milkshake and we watched Hocus Pocus, the movie. I had never seen it. I know, I know… I’m probably the only one who hasn’t. It was cute, and dramatically, wonderfully cheesy. I loved it.

 

 

I have had a little bit of fun through all of this though. I have never used one of those electric motor carts at the grocery store. I got to use one at Costco, and it was so much fun! That made me pretty happy. I just wish that it went quite a bit faster!

 

 

What I’m trying to explain here is this…  It is okay to accept help when you need it. It is okay to feel like you don’t have it all together all the time. People feel the urge to help others. LET THEM. Not only is it good for you to receive the help, it is good for other people to provide it. Let people have the opportunity to provide a service to their fellow men and women. We need to feel needed.

So, what are you going to do to help someone today?

 

 

Time for a check up

I had foot surgery last week to correct a painful bunion. I’ve had my share of surgeries. Granted, none that were life threatening, but surgery all the same. I used every hour of vacation I had to be able to fix my foot so that I can, hopefully, walk without pain once again.

I’ve had almost a week to sit and think about so many things. My foot, obviously, is one of my biggest subjects of deep thought… along with my finances.

As painful as my recovery has been, I am appreciative for the opportunity to sit back and regroup.

The Bunion Debacle

Even the surgeon marks the foot to be operated on to ensure a good outcome.

I’ve decided to make October another spending freeze month.  Besides the fact that I’m condemned to a boot for the next four to six weeks, I don’t feel like going anywhere, and I’m too tired to do anything…. including shopping online. Speaking of tired, let’s take a time out while I take a nap. Seriously.

One of my main reasons for another spending freeze should be pretty obvious. Doctor’s bills. Funny thing about health insurance… Sure, it helps pay for medical costs, but you’ll still end up paying out the nose for surgery. How ironic that our insurance year restarts in October, just three days before my surgery. Say goodbye to all of the deductible I have paid in. It’s also so sad that my benefits changed. My deductible went up by a thousand dollars. Our open enrollment event happened, and my medical insurance almost didn’t happen. The only thing that saved my finances at all was the hospital calling to pre-authorize my medical coverage. It was discovered that a glitch occurred in the rollover of my insurance information. The only coverage I had was for prescriptions. WOW. Needless to say, I freaked out and made a barrage of phone calls to multiple people to try and get things straightened out in time for my surgery, which was happening in two days. Thankfully, human resources pulled through, and my coverage was restored in tact, and in time. I am very fortunate, and thankful for my surgery. (I think… So, so painful!)

I will be making arrangements for a payment plan for my out of pocket costs for my surgery. That makes sense. My spending freeze will be most helpful. Reevaluating my monthly budget will help me achieve my goals.

May I suggest to ALL of you, to connect with your insurance providers and make sure your coverage is good. Had I not had my upcoming surgery, I possibly would not have known about the glitch for months. I have prescriptions that I get every month, which would have been covered, HOWEVER, if a medical problem had happened, I would have been left owing much more money, with nothing to be done about it.

TIME FOR A CHECK UP!

 

 

 

A lesson in life, learned through death

When someone we know leaves this earthly existence and makes that heavenly journey to the afterlife, we tend to reflect on our past and present… evaluate and scrutinize every little thing… Our successes, our failures, our entire lives…  all of the “shoulda, woulda, coulda”. We contemplate what everything is, and the meaning of life. At least, I know I do.

I read a Facebook post Thursday morning that made me suck in my breath and cry. Not just cry, but truly saddened me to my core. To be completely honest, it has been at the forefront of my thoughts ever since… so many emotions… sadness, anger, guilt…  All those emotions for a life lost, for the struggle, for the long fight. And I feel so incredibly bad… so guilty. I should’ve been a much better friend. I should’ve halted my busy life and acted when the impression presented itself to me.

There are valuable lessons to be learned here, aren’t there?  Listen to that inner voice. Cherish life, cherish love, cherish your friendships! In this ever busy world, isn’t it worth it to spend a little time cultivating those relationships with our friends. Some of these friendships have lasted for decades. Some were suspended and frozen in time… graduation happened, and decades went by. A class reunion reunites us and it’s as if no time has passed at all. Sometimes, reuniting with our friends happens through the miracle of cyber space. I am so thankful for it. (I am a horrible letter writer. Go figure!) The memories are sweet, the memories are painful, the memories are precious…. yet we take them all for granted. It isn’t until our friends are gone that we realize how dear all those memorable experiences truly were. All of the regrets set in. “I should’ve took that five minutes and sent an email/text.” “I could’ve, but I ended up getting sidetracked by —.”  “I would’ve, had I known about —.”   So many excuses…

CAN WE PLEASE STOP WITH ALL THE EXCUSES?!

You see, I had this friend in high school. We were in quite a few classes together. I remember the band trips, the marching band, pep band games and how much fun we had. I remember sitting next to her in other classes and laughing about things.  I remember getting stern “talkings to” from several teachers for doing things that shouldn’t have been done. Haha! After we graduated, we lost touch, as so many of us did. We reconnected quite a few years ago thanks to the beauty of Facebook, and my life has been better for it. Ann loved life, loved her family, enjoyed her job, and had a wonderful sense of humor. I looked up to her back in high school, and admired her positive attitude. I was shocked by the news of her ALS diagnosis. We chatted on occasion, and I kept up on how she was doing. Ann was so strong, so transparent, so open about her illness. She was positive, and held onto her sense of humor through it all. I had every intention of going to visit her. Then my anxiety would kick in…. I didn’t want to invade her home. I didn’t know where she lived. I didn’t want to intrude on her family. So many lame excuses… I am seriously the worst friend. Ever. And now… well, she has passed on.

Come on friends, life is too short to push people, or things aside. We all know this. Let’s try putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes and envision their needs. Let’s try making a genuine effort. You just don’t know how much you will impact someone else’s life with those “little things” and kind words. Imagine the difference you can make. Remember the difference someone made for you.

Make a difference. Be the difference.

WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?

20180922_185100.jpg

No longer in pain… No longer broken. May you rest in peace, Ann. I hope to see you again someday. 💕

 

My life is a game of football

September is finally here! That means school is back in session, the weather will start to cool down, the leaves will be turning and falling soon, and football is back. I AM ELATED.

Many of you probably don’t care about football, or possibly sports in general, but it really has a special place in my heart.

Ever since I was a little girl, I remember watching football with my dad. Monday night football, Sunday games… Sitting with dad, getting rowdy, yelling at the tv, high fiving at the great plays… some of my favorite memories. I hope I never forget them.

You see, I relate to football on so many different levels… It’s a time for friends and family to come together, whether in celebration or disappointment. Either way, the conversation and company is amazing, and so is the food that’s consumed. The thrill of the game is intoxicating. I love the physicality of the players, the passion and attitude, and the strategy involved. (The payday is just a nice bonus!)

Life should be about our family and friends. Hold close to those who support and build you up… the ones that have your back. They celebrate with you in the good times, and are there for you during the hard times. These are the people to cling to. They may even show up with delicious food.

Every minute of your life should be a thrill… appreciated and intoxicating. Living life to the fullest. Is it always that way? No, but is it possible to change your view and make it so? It might be tough, but be happy you get to play the game.

I am passionate about a lot of things. When I’m pumped, I yell, dance, and celebrate. When I’m angry, I tend to lash out, with attitude. (Throat punch Thursday anyone?) Our lives are full of highs and lows. It requires strategy and poise. It’s okay to celebrate your successes,  but not to the detriment of others. It’s okay to be disappointed when things don’t go our way, but don’t be a sore loser. Reevaluate and make adjustments as needed.

Football

Strategize and succeed

Put a positive spin on your game of life. Prepare for the unknown. Have a game plan. Dance when you succeed. Keep your composure when you fail. Come back stronger when you try again. Unite with the players on your team and aim for the prize.

YOU’VE GOT THIS.

 

 

Everyone needs a little Jazz in their life.🎵

I am happy to announce that things in my life have slowed down to a fairly normal pace after the hectic wedding week. Work is back to normal, home is back to normal, and my weekly meetings with my music girls are back to normal as well! WHEW! I was beginning to think that the chaos was going to stick around forever.

Last week, my girls and I went to a favorite restaurant for foodies and live entertainment. One of our friends was performing. He was playing his acoustic guitar, accompanied by the upright bass. Heaven! As we were sitting there eating, our guitar playing friend gave us a shout out as a music group. He saw our video in the park, and thought it was quite humorous. It was suggested that maybe we should come up and do a number with them. Seriously, the coolest. How flattering is that? A song was picked, and off we went. Our lead vocalist sang, while our lyricist (who also has a BEAUTIFUL voice, I might add) and I sang backup… with guitar and bass. Mind you, I didn’t know the song, so I was faking my way through it, BUT WOW… It was one of the best feelings! This has reignited the passion of musical creativity… just one of the many reasons that we started our group in the first place!

One of the things that has come up from all of this is jazz… To be more specific, jazz piano. Sure, I played a little bit in the swing choir in high school… (For those of you keeping track… that would be 30+ years ago!) There wasn’t any theory involved. It was just playing what was on paper, or playing a tune by ear. I love jazz. I find it fascinating, entertaining, and exciting. Why is it I have never learned jazz piano? That’s about to change.

Here’s something you didn’t know about me…Most things music related seem to be pretty easy for me. Yeah, I might need to practice a bit to be actually good at it, but I catch on quick. I started watching YouTube videos earlier this week. This is so much fun! Yes, there will be MUCH practicing needed, but I can do this. I WILL do this! I’m starting to figure it out.

Notes working together create beautiful harmony

As I’ve been laying in bed every night this week, attempting to fall asleep, my brain has been contemplating the entire jazz genre as a whole. I had an epiphany…  If I were to describe myself in a music style, I think jazz just might be it. (I originally thought that classical was it, and maybe, because it secretly mirrors several of the same characteristics, it is also a part of me). Honestly, jazz would probably describe most of us, but, humor me here!

Melodic improvisation – Every minute I’m awake is one big improvisation. I want my day to be harmonious, but I love the thought of not knowing what is going to come next until it reveals itself to me. The chaos that happens throughout my day might be initially a bit displeasing, but I try to embrace it and put a positive spin on it.

Scat singing – Made up words that make no sense. Haha! If you’ve spent any time with me, you know that I don’t make sense a lot of the time.

Walking bass – The bass keeps it all together. It’s methodical… Reliable. I keep my cool. I keep myself in check. I am one of the most reliable, punctual people you will ever meet. I try, ever so hard, to do what I say I’m going to do, and on time.

Varied tempos – Most of us have our high and low points throughout the day, but what you do with it is totally up to you! Like the improvisation, embrace it and own it!

Inventive and creative – Um, yes! I think this one pretty much speaks for itself.

Have you ever really thought about what style of music really defines you? Are you an eighties big hair rock band? Hard hitting, screaming guitar, with a bit of ballad in you? Or maybe you’re a country, boot wearing, dirt road driving, horseback riding, kind of person…  Or are you an angry music, fly off the handle, everyone gets on your last nerve, in your face, leave nothing to the imagination kind of person…

Music is in my blood. I am always humming, singing, playing “air” piano, drumming, “air” guitar-ing… I might have a problem.

Think about it. What defines you?

Invite a little jazz into your life. Be proud of your ability to roll with the varied tempos of your day. Feed your creativity. Take time to be spontaneous. Sometimes it’s fun to make no sense at all… do something out of the ordinary!

 

 

 

 

 

Wedding overview – WE SURVIVED

It has been a few weeks since I have posted anything. I have been wrapped up in wedding prep and planning… So sorry about that, but hey, what’s a girl to do?

Three days post wedding, and I am sitting at my computer with my feet propped up. I cannot tell you how thankful I am for requesting a few extra days off from work to recoup. This is when I truly come to realize that I’m not in my twenties anymore. I am SO exhausted! My actual job is a very physical one… lots of heavy lifting, customer service, and thinking mix ratios, timelines, etc. That is a cake walk compared to this whirlwind of a week. I’m pretty sure that every muscle in my body aches. My feet are destroyed. My brain hurts. I am, surprisingly, ready to go back to work for some normalcy!

Here’s a rundown of my last week. I’ll have to sort some things through to make sure all my facts are in order. Bear with me here.

Last Tuesday, the 21st, was a normal workday. Mostly. My brother, John, along with his wife and thirteen year old son, started their journey from Idaho by car. He texted me throughout the day to give me updates on their travels. I was so excited, I could hardly contain myself. They arrived at my work around three in the afternoon. I was overjoyed to see them. I cried a little. My only sibling, and I haven’t seen him in nearly two years. I miss him! They spent the last two hours at my work visiting. I’m sure my coworkers were a bit annoyed with that, but, honestly, I didn’t care. It was so nice to see them. We all went home after that and unloaded their car. I gave them a tour of the house, and showed them all the changes since they had visited last. They got to meet my two new doggies, Joshua and Maya. My nephew bonded with Maya almost instantly. It was adorable. We spent the rest of the evening relaxing and chatting about anything and everything. It was so nice.

Wednesday morning, the 22nd, I made a call to the contact person for the wedding venue to try and set up a meeting for Thursday afternoon. I had three phone numbers. The first number was disconnected… Uh oh! I left voice messages on the other two. I was a bit nervous about that, but I tried to push that to the back of my mind. I DID NOT say anything to my daughter. That was the last thing she needed to hear. She was starting to stress a bit. That’s what brides-to-be do, right? After that, John and I went through all the electrical components I had collected over the last few months to figure out what we still needed to make all the audio work for the wedding. (I have been collecting items for my music group here and there for future performances.) We had just about everything except for an amplifier/receiver and a few connectors and cables. We ran into town and found everything at one store. Hallelujah! My hubby had a receiver, RCA cables, and speaker wire, so all in all, I only spent about $30. YES!  That afternoon, I took the family, and met my music girls in Corvallis to do a music video of our first song, “Incontinence”. (Yes, you read that right!)  Corvallis has this wonderful event called “Play Piano Play” every summer. They place pianos all over town out in parks and on street corners for people to play. All free… just so people can enjoy music and talent. It is the neatest thing! We made a spur of the moment decision to go and perform. Why not? John recorded the song for us, and the wedding photographer came and took some photos. It was so much fun! 

  After that, we drove around Corvallis for a bit, and then took a little tour of the historic homes in downtown Albany. There are so many beautiful homes. After we got home, I made the family Instant Pot ribs for dinner. I have been raving about my Instant Pot to my brother for a few months. I figured I’d show him what he had been missing! They were perfect, fall off the bone, delicious… IN AN HOUR. He was impressed. We had another evening of chatting, drinking some adult beverages, and laughing. My daughter and her fiance came by to say hi for a few minutes. Another great day. 

Thursday, the 23rd, I left another message about the venue. I still hadn’t heard anything back, and I was starting to freak out a little bit. John mentioned that he would like to take his family to The Enchanted Forest.

Located on I-5 in Turner, OR. A charming little amusement park, established in 1971.

It is a quaint little amusement park about thirty minutes away. It has been there since 1971. The story behind the park itself is wonderful. It was a nice distraction from the worries going on in my head. We arrived at about eleven o’clock. The parking lot was full. It wasn’t too hot. Perfect.

Just have to take selfies with the family!

My nephew and I had a great time going through all the little rabbit holes, slides, and kiddie attractions. We were about to enter the haunted house, when I finally got a call back about the venue. The meeting and handing off of the key would happen at four that afternoon. WHAT A RELIEF! The rest of the afternoon was carefree. We rode the log ride and got soaked. We rode on the roller coaster. (Thank you, John, for not throwing up in the hood of my sweatshirt!)

Checking out all the cute little shops at The Enchanted Forest

The beginning of the roller coaster ride.

 

 

 

 

 

 

We had lunch, did a little souvenir shopping, and made it back down for the venue meeting in plenty of time. We did a walk through of the place, exchanged monies and keys, and then things started to “get real”. My daughter was getting married… in a day and a half! I had my hubby make dinner that evening, since I was gone most of the day. He made a delicious manicotti.

The grange. The venue for my daughter’s wedding

I met my daughter down at the venue at six to practice. She asked me to rearrange a Metallica song for piano. For their first dance, she wanted to sing part of “Nothing Else Matters” to him as a surprise before they started dancing. The practice went really well. The room where the dancing would happen had amazing acoustics… just the right amount of echo bouncing around. I teared up as she was singing. It was absolutely beautiful. As soon as we finished up our rehearsal, we headed back to my house for dinner. My music girls were already there. We had another great laughter filled evening, visiting with my family.

Friday, the 24th… the day before the wedding. John and I woke up roughly around the same time. We decided to load up all the sound gear and haul it down to the grange to set it up and do an audio check. Everything worked great. He ran back to the house to wake up his wife, so I started working on the basement decorations. I put silver glittery ribbon around all the columns. It was simple, but very nice. Ron, the photographer, showed up to start setting up his equipment and taking photos of all the progress, and the bridesmaids arrived a little while later to help with the decorations. It was tough. We didn’t have as much stuff as we thought we did. Some ribbon, string lights, and other things that I had no idea what to do with. I had one set of people downstairs putting up lights, so I went upstairs to see what I could do for the stage and seating for the reception… I hung up all my mason jar lights in the windows, and the bridesmaids attempted to make some bows for the front of the stage. I didn’t like it. Not at all. I’ve never decorated for a wedding. Yet once again, I was in a panic. The groom, and several of his entourage showed up and helped in the basement with the lights. I guess the plan for the string lights was different than what I thought. I’m so glad they knew what was going on. They did a great job hanging them up. Carmen came and set up the tables in the basement with tablecloths, car centerpieces, and little canning jars with nuts, bolts, and battery powered tea lights in them. Then, my dear friend, Kate, (one of my music girls, and the officiant for the wedding) showed up and had brilliant ideas. We wandered around the venue and she assessed everything. She said she would come back the next day with a variety of things and help decorate. Seriously love this lady! We had the rehearsal at 6:30. We ran through the ceremony a few times to get things hammered out. It was good. Most of the wedding party left after that. I got a phone call from my florist friend, Rosa, that she was in my driveway with Carmen’s last minute bouquet, so I quickly drove back to my house to get it.

Modern Florist Oregon did a fantastic job with the bouquet! Beautiful!

IT WAS GORGEOUS! I gave her a huge tip for her effort, quickness, and delivery. I wrote the best recommendation I could on her business page. Modern Florist Oregon did a spectacular job! I am not even ashamed to give her business a boost here. The bouquet STILL looks perfect 5 days later! After I ran back down and showed off the bouquet, Kate and I did some more planning, and then my other dear friend, Janet, drove up. She had surprises for us! She made the most beautiful hats for us! Big, decorated hats to wear at the wedding! It’s amazing what tool and flowers can do!

These girls are seriously the best! These hats are FABULOUS!

It was decided that once the ceremony was over, we would wear them. How fun! By the time I got home that evening, John and his wife had gone over to a friends’ house for the evening, so I sat down at my computer and started getting Carmen’s playlist for the reception together. She had run out of time and couldn’t get it done. She sent me two pages of songs she wanted to have played. I was up until almost 2 am getting all the music together on my iPod. I had my feet on ice bags. They were so sore! My hubby finally came in and made me go to bed. I went to bed hoping to be able to sleep. I slept decent enough.

Saturday, the 25… THE MORNING OF THE WEDDING. I was up early yet once again. I drank some coffee, and my brother and I went into town to rent a couple of plug in lamp posts for near the stage. I had been looking online the night before for something to add that “extra touch” and decided on those. We get there, and… they don’t have them in their store. They had another store in Salem that showed they had a set. We went back to my car and called up there. Yes, they had them. I reserved them, and then called another dear friend… Super Bob. He said he was willing to drive the distance and pick them up for me. He also said he had a few tables that he could bring. What a life saver! After that, we headed down to the grange again. I was discouraged. Nearly half of the decorations we had put up the day before had fallen down. Panic… again. I went through and reattached everything with pushpins instead of tape. Kate arrived with fabric, hair ties, a big step ladder, and a variety of other useful things. She had incredible, doable ideas! We put up a beautiful purple swag above the stage, using hair ties to attach to the hooks above. The hair ties also were used for making poufs. BRILLIANT! (I seriously have THE BEST group of friends!) She commissioned the bridesmaids to do various tasks, and they did great! They decorated the photo booth area. We put some neat fabric on the backs of chairs in front of the keyboard and audio equipment to hide the eyesores. The groomsmen, all VERY tall I might add, attached a silver ribboned wall behind the keyboard as well. It looked awesome. Bob arrived with the lamp posts, after some major delays in weekend traffic on the freeway. The lights looked great, however, one bulb was burned out, and one post had bright white bulbs, and the other had soft white… Two completely different color bulbs. Yellow-ish vs white. Bob volunteered to get some more white ones, and left to get those and to get ready for the actual event.  Carmen and the bridesmaids left around two to start getting ready. My husband showed up with the backdrop for the ceremony… Natural lattice with braces attached to each side and the middle. John, Kate, and I grabbed Carmen’s lovely purple fabric and screwed it to the backside. Kate and John then took the long black tool Carmen had purchased and wove it from the back to make lovely little poufs on the top and sides. It looked gorgeous. Kate left, John left, and I finished checking things over before leaving at nearly four. I was hot and sweaty, and didn’t even have enough time to take a shower. I went and changed all my clothes, did my hair and makeup, and then waited for Carmen to show up so I could help her put her dress on and the final prep.

Saturday, the 25th… THE WEDDING. The photographers showed up for the final photos of the prep with Carmen. She showed up a few minutes later. We went upstairs, stressed and feeling the time crunch. Carmen’s official ride down to the wedding showed up. Thank you to Fred, for volunteering at the last minute to drive his beautiful black Chrysler 300, so she could arrive “in style”. We got her dress and shoes on with no issues. She had a few photos taken, and then I left her with Fred and her daddy. I rushed down to the grange to get situated with the rest of the wedding party. I pulled up, hot and heavy, and I see a nice turnout of people. Good! I had gotten a few last minute cancellations, so I was hoping there would be a nice turnout. There was. Janet came over and helped me carry all my stuff, and then it all happened. Carmen arrived in the beautiful black car. The music had been playing Diana Krall love songs while the guests arrived and sat down outside in the sunshine… a pleasant 80°F. Kate was already at the front when Jacob, the groom, walked up the aisle. His groomsmen followed behind, the first one carrying my tablet with a picture of the best man on it. He couldn’t attend. He is in the military, stationed out of the country. They built a scarecrow type man to hold the tablet as his face. It was perfectly humorous.

Handsome groom!

What a beautiful bride

Carmen and her daddy.

The best man was there in spirit

Myself, my son, and a groomsman

I followed the last groomsmen, holding a photo head of my son as a bouquet… Carmen’s brother. He couldn’t attend either. He is also in the military… stationed out of the country. The bridesmaids followed behind. Then, Carmen stepped out of the car, and walked down the aisle on my husband’s arm. My heart melted, seeing my hubby’s smiling face as he walked with my beautiful daughter, in her beautiful dress, up to us. He handed her to Jacob, and the ceremony began. Kate did a wonderful job officiating her first wedding. There was humor, seriousness, and it was heartfelt. I was impressed. They said “I do”, and the kiss was so very sweet. We walked back down the aisle, and that part was over! We did photos with the photographer while everyone went down to the basement to eat pizza and salad. We went down, ate, took some more photos, and then, after a bit, came the first dance. I got my microphone, and announced the first dance. I sat down at my keyboard, and started to play. It sounded really good. Carmen started to sing, and it sounded beautiful… and then the soundboard overheated and the keyboard cut out, in the middle of the first verse. She nervously turned her head towards me, and I loudly whisper, “Just keep going!”… And she sang it acapella until I got the electronics up and going again. She did a beautiful job! She stepped up to him at the end of the first verse, and I then serenaded them through the rest of the song after a few finger flubs of frustration.  At the end of the song, Jacob wiped a tear from his face. My heart was full. Everyone loved it, even with the glitch. How could they not? Metallica gone classical… enough said! Carmen had a daddy/daughter dance with my husband… “Wanna Be a Baller”, and then a dance with her biological dad… “Mental Health”. Odd? Not if you knew my daughter. They were the perfect choices. After that, the dancing was on, and my soundboard repeatedly shut off throughout the rest of the evening. SO FAR FROM PERFECT. I was stressed and irritated by it, but no one in my circle of friends thought it was a big deal, so I calmed down. “It is what it is”.

Carmen and Jacob’s first dance as husband and wife

There was much conversation, laughter, dancing, consuming of adult beverages, and overall enjoyment. The grange was just about empty by nine o’clock and we started winding down. Jacob sat in the basement with his friends from out of town for awhile. My family went back to my house. Carmen followed me there to get a few things before heading home… and it was over. We conversed for awhile about the wedding, and got ready for bed. It was then that I realized that my underwear had been on inside out the entire evening. I had been in such a hurry, I didn’t even realize it. Now that’s funny! I sent a text to Carmen informing her of this, (she gets a good laugh from this type of information.) and went to bed.

“Wanna Be a Baller”

Sunday, the 26th… the day after. I got up at 6:30 to see my brother and his family off. They didn’t end up leaving until almost 8:00, but that’s okay. I cried, of course, as they drove down the street and out of sight. I had fully planned on going back to bed, but I couldn’t sleep… Too much crying. So, I left a note for my hubby, and headed down to the grange to get going on the cleanup. I had all the ribbon down and rolled up, trash off the tables, and all the jars gathered together by the time Carmen and Jacob showed up. We got all the tablecloths off of the tables, all the jars boxed up, and everything completely out by three in the afternoon. (And yes, she laughed hysterically at my informative text from the night before.) We left the grange with nothing left to do but vacuum the stairs and mop the kitchen area. I went home and took a break for a few hours, and spent another hour vacuuming and mopping. I did another walk around check and left. I collapsed on the couch and did nothing for the rest of the evening.

Monday, the 27th… two days after. I got up at a decent time, after feeling ill in the middle of the night. Thankfully, I felt better when I got up. Mind you, I was even more sore than the day before. Today was my day of running around. I had to have the rented lamp posts back in Salem by noon. I also needed to run by the courthouse to drop off the completed wedding paperwork. It took me longer than I expected with all the traffic, to return the posts, but I made the deadline and headed back. It was noon when I got back, so I couldn’t go to the courthouse until after lunch, so I made a few stops, put gas in my car, and went to my daughter’s house for a bit. We talked about all the unique problems that happened at the wedding. She wasn’t upset at all. She laughed about it and said, “Well, that’s kind of how things go with us, isn’t it?”. LOVE this girl. She’s already ready to tell the story of her perfectly imperfect wedding.

You may kiss the bride

I have learned a few things from this whole wedding experience.

#1- It’s okay to fire your friend from being your free wedding coordinator when she doesn’t actually do anything. (Taking over a week or two before the wedding is not for the weak!)  Actually hiring a coordinator may cost money, but there won’t be nearly the amount of stress when your big day arrives. OR, be sure your person is going to be able to handle the responsibility. You HAVE to know stuff is going to get done!

#2- DO NOT PROCRASTINATE! “We’ll do that later. We’ve got time”, DOES NOT WORK! Even when we all have jobs, and lives, things have got to get done. Every time you say that, that’s one more thing added to your last minute list… that you don’t have time for.

#3- Having reliable friends and family is so, so important! There is NO WAY I could have gotten this all done without my husband, Kate, Janet, Super Bob, John, Rosa, Fred, Ron, and so many other people!

#4- It is okay to let people help you! Don’t let your pride get in the way. If people volunteer to help, LET THEM HELP! I have been humbled by this experience. Even though I feel that I need to do everything myself, other people can do things too! Ask. Delegate. Trust. Accept. Just let it happen!

#5- Don’t expect perfection. Nothing will ever be perfect. Of course you want it to be. I did. This is my baby girl. Of course I wanted it to be the perfect day for her. I told her, very frankly, to not expect perfection. Whatever is going to happen, will. Whatever isn’t, will just be one of those great stories you laugh at when you tell your friends about your wedding. She has a lot of things to laugh about for sure!

I present the bride and groom

 

So, now, my lovely daughter is a married woman… married to a wonderful man. I have another son. (I honestly don’t care about the “in-law” part.)  She is happy. They are happy. I am happy. And that, my friends, is all I could ever hope for…  And no one got arrested.

Laughing at and loving your imperfections

I’m going to be brutally honest here. I am one of the most awkward people you will ever meet… With the exception of my kids anyway… (They inherited their awkwardness from me. Sorry kids!) You may not notice my awkwardness right away, but at some point it WILL show up. Just you wait! Not only do I tend to be socially awkward, I’m physically awkward… Vertically challenged… Clumsy… Whatever you want to call it is okay with me. It’s the truth. Seriously, I fall down. A LOT. I have been this way for as long as I can remember, and it hasn’t gotten any better with age. I still trip and fall, and I still bruise just as easily. I could be completely embarrassed by tripping all the time, or running into things. I could wear jeans and long sleeved shirts 365 days a year… Where’s the fun in that? I have embraced it. I have accepted it. I only hope to have an interesting story to go along with the usually incredibly colored bruises. Half the time I don’t even know what happened to get the bruise. I’m sure people assume that I’m in an abusive relationship… No. No I’m not. If you know me at all, you know the truth. All I can do is laugh at myself… A song title comes to mind… “Oops, I did it again”.

All of this awkwardness could totally leave me wanting to hide in my house for the rest of my life. It did, at one point VERY long ago. I’m over it. If nothing else, it is definitely a conversation starter. Most of the really good ones DO have hilarious stories to go along with them. Somehow, they usually involve one or more of my dogs.

That one looking at me? That’s Maya, the adventurer. Good thing she’s adorable!

My most spectacular one of this year? Oh, let me tell you all about it! It was a Thursday. I was just arriving home from work. I pulled into my driveway, and pushed the garage door opener on my sun visor. As the door goes up and I start to pull in, I notice the man door going to the back yard is open… (I’m positive I closed and latched it shut when I left.) Uh oh. I see all three of my dogs racing to the garage to see me. Wow, they run really fast! I pull in as fast as I can, pushed the garage door opener again to close the door, and fling my car door open to try and block them from running past me and getting out to the front of the house. (You see, they’re all very spirited, and two of them we rescued earlier this year. They don’t go out front without leashes. EVER. Open yard and a busy street. We just don’t do it.) Well, I thought everything would be fine, until I see Maya, the adventurer, start to go under my garage door with about two feet left before it closes. What’s a girl to do? Dive after her, catch her tail and hold on, obviously. Of course, just as I grab her tail, the door closes the rest of the way… on my arm. I’m talking an over-sized, very insulated, double garage door closed on my arm. BUT I STILL HAVE A GOOD GRIP ON MAYA’S TAIL. I didn’t let go. So there I am, laying on the nice, cool floor inside the garage while Maya is stuck sitting there on the other side because I have her tail. I’m starting to inwardly panic because I’m stuck down on the floor with no way to open the door, and my arm is starting to tingle a bit. About twenty seconds go by before the garage door comes back up because it apparently hadn’t shut completely… Just got to love those safety features. (I think.) As the door comes back up, the other two dogs make a run for the front, and my grip on Maya’s tail falters… And away they all go… in three different directions. I scramble up off the floor and start chasing dogs. I’m yelling and carrying on like a crazy woman as the dogs run across the street to two of the neighbors’ houses. Luckily one of these neighbors is outside and I frantically yell, “GET HER!” as I go and chase down the other dogs. I get Joshua and Masco rounded up, and put them in the house. Then, I go back for Maya. The neighbors, bless their hearts, have her on their patio. She’s so happy to see me. I talk to (wheezed is more accurate) my neighbors and thank them repeatedly for quickly catching Maya. I grab her collar and she and I head back over to my house… as I’m not so nicely telling her that she and I are NOT friends right now. I get her in the house, and the garage door is now closed… and my husband is mowing the lawn in the back yard. Clueless. SERIOUSLY?! I go inside, quickly tidy up the house, do some vacuuming, and then my friends show up for our weekly girls night. We’re all sitting there eating snacks, laughing, and I got a chill and rubbed my arm. I am startled. I have a HUGE goose egg on my arm.

Progression of garage door bruises. Does this only happen to me??

I hadn’t even done an assessment of the damage to my arm in my haste to get the house in order for guests. I had completely forgotten about it. I guess it looked pretty bad. The girls were staring nervously at it for the rest of the evening. I put an ice pack on it. The next day I had to fly to Montana for the first time to help with a new computer system launch. My arm looked HORRIBLE. At least I had a great story! That broke the tension and awkwardness of meeting new people. They had a good laugh over that one. Ha ha!

My social awkwardness is pretty hilarious. I get nervous talking to people. Evidently I anticipate what people are going to say…  and then I blurt out things that have absolutely nothing to do with what they just said. I get the weirdest looks from people as they try not to burst into nervous laughter. I’ll be at the store buying groceries, and the cashier is overly chatty. I try to be polite. We get done with my transaction, and then I think they’re going to say “Have a nice day”. They actually say “Thanks for shopping with us”, and I say, “You too!”  Wait, what?? Good grief. The cashier gives me an oddly strained look, and I make my way to the exit shaking my head. Yeah, I did it again. It happens all the time. WOW. I do laugh loudly when my daughter calls to tell me she had a “You too!” moment. I can relate.

So, what it comes down to is this… We can either be embarrassed and ashamed by our many imperfections, or we can embrace who we are and own it. At this point in my life, I’ve accepted the fact that I am one big casualty waiting to happen. I make sure to announce this to new people so they aren’t surprised. Trust me, they are usually surprised anyway. It’s okay that I have awkwardness every minute that I’m awake. It’s okay that I have to look down and watch my feet when I walk. It’s okay that I can trip on a completely flat surface. It’s okay that I have random bruises. It’s who I am. Not accepting it ISN’T going to change it. I can laugh and joke about it. It’s either that or cry. I don’t like to cry… No one wants to see THAT.

LOVE YOURSELF FOR BEING IMPERFECTLY PERFECT.

Mason jar mania: My obsession

I have a confession to make. I am, and have been, obsessed with anything and everything related to mason jars for quite a long time. Many just think of mason jars as what our moms and grandmas used for canning their peaches, cherries, and strawberry jam. It goes so far beyond that for me. I inherited A LOT of canning jars. When I say a lot, I mean HUNDREDS. I have too many reasons for loving these jars to list every single one, but I’ll address some of my favorites in my post.

My basement is full of mason jars

One of the main reasons I love canning jars so much is that, especially for me, they are readily available. My mom religiously canned every summer… Peaches, tomatoes, apple cider… you name it, and it’s entirely possible she canned it at some point. I have so many jars. Granted, I have given quite a few away to friends who can, but I still have so many! I decided quite awhile ago that I needed to use them as much as possible. So far, I have done a fairly decent job.

Yes! These really exist! Sleeves, coffee lids, etc.

Another reason I love jars so much… They are so versatile! The amount of accessories that are available for jars now is mindblowingly amazing. Several years ago I found some neat lids that could be used for drinking out of. I really like them. Recently, I have looked online, and the accessories are everywhere. This makes me so very happy!

I can use my jars as coffee cups, with real lids. No sloshing or spilling. Ingenious.

Use with your vacu-seal to extend the “life” of your dry goods

 

 

I use my jars for food storage. Not necessarily in the actual canning sense though… I use them in conjunction with my vacu-seal machine. I have the canning jar attachments that suck all the air out of the jars and seal them. I use them for most of my dry goods… flour, oats, pasta, nuts… the possibilities are endless.

 

I take my fruit salad to work in my mason jars. WHY NOT?!

I also love to use my jars in the fridge. They don’t take up as much room as other containers, since they’re more vertical. I also enjoy the fact that I can put them in my lunch box and take them to work. I decided to try and glue several lids together to make yogurt and granola more portable. I love parfaits… I sure hope it works out like I hope it will! I’ll let you know if it does!

 

Just…. WOW

 

The next reason for my love of jars is decoration. My daughter’s wedding is coming up in about 6 weeks, and trying to come up with elegant, frugal, and simple decorations are a must. I found a nice item that I think will be nice for the reception, and then be useful at home as well. These solar charging light strands screw to the top of the jars and look so beautiful. They make wire holders for hanging, so they could be hung up by my patio for a nice relaxing evening after dark.

 

 

If this self watering indoor herb garden works, I will be overjoyed.

 

My last, and newest reason for my mason jars… planting herbs for an indoor, self watering system. I read about this concept on Pinterest, and I was instantly intrigued. I have “the black thumb of death”. I am horrible with plants of every kind. I can kill any plant… just give me time! I either over water, or forget about them entirely. It’s totally unintentional, but it happens EVERY time. I do tend to get very distracted. So, I’m hoping that this system will forego all my plant flaws and let me grow things!

 

And there you have it… many of the reasons I love my jars. Jars are everywhere you look… Garage sales, thrift stores, attics, and basements. Let’s utilize what is already out there. Reuse, reuse, REUSE!

Why music is my passion

Everyone has their “thing”. You know, that something that has always been there… The thing that puts you at ease, that calms you down, relaxes you like nothing else can. For me, that thing is music. I don’t mean just listening to it. I mean creating it. Sure, I have other things that I truly enjoy doing… Writing and photography… but music is my first love.

Music has been my passion for as long as I can remember. My mom used to say that I would sing harmony when I was a toddler. I don’t even remember when I started playing the piano… It was that long ago. I have always had a song in my heart… A tune running through my head. It is a bit distracting sometimes, but I wouldn’t trade it for anything. Sometimes I feel it’s easier for me to let people hear how I feel, rather than just use my words. I am fortunate enough to be able to put those feelings on paper.  I was so fortunate to have parents and music teachers who pushed me to follow through with my music education when I wanted to quit. I’m grateful now that they saw my potential. I feel so blessed.

I wish I had more time to do what I love. I would love to dedicate all day, every day, to my creative outlet. A few hours a week just doesn’t feel like it’s enough. Just when I’m getting into “the zone”, it is time for bed, it seems. At least I get some time. I try to make the most of the time I have. I’m making progress. I am starting to spread my wings.  That’s the important thing.

I have also been blessed with amazingly talented friends. They are my soul sisters. These ladies are so creative and fun. I’m a lucky girl. Together, I think we have the potential to do something wonderful. I don’t think there isn’t anything we can’t accomplish. Someday, I hope, with the poetic partnership of my gifted friends, to be able to bring OUR music to life. Our whimsical interpretation of adulthood could bring a new perspective on life. Sure, it might have been done before, but I think we have some unique experiences to bring originality to the table. I have faith that our time will come. (I will let you know when it happens. Trust me on this!)

There’s something about the whole creative process that brings me so much satisfaction and joy. It’s one of the best feelings in the world.  I lose myself in the notes, and it transports me to a wonderful paradise. It really is a part of my being, and I am so thankful for it.

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCq6hSvcwoz6LrNZwvuz7Eaw

Enjoy your life. Make the most of the talents you’ve been blessed with. Lose yourself in what you love.