For the first 50 years of my life, my perfectionist self mistakenly believed it was all about knowing more, getting it right, planning, attempting to prevent bad things from happening, and keeping all of my chicks in a row. It took me this long to discover that the JOURNEY is all that matters. This quote from Gilda Radner sums it all up:

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

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

My Favorite Child

My favorite flavor of ice cream is chocolate.
My favorite thing to look at is the sky.
My favorite fruit is green grapes.
My favorite time of year is the fall.
My favorite child is... 
well, let me think about it for a moment.

I have three options to pick from.

Is my favorite child Adam?

Firstborns are always extra special, right?
Especially since he is my only son!

Adam is calm, steady, and even-tempered.

We both love to experience new places.

He is helpful and very considerate.
He has a very big heart.
He reminds me so much of my father!

Adam is a lifelong learner - something I strongly identify with.
On top of that, he's creative too.

 Isn't it obvious in this picture that he's my favorite? Right?

Or is Kerry my favorite?

We are both very shy and wary of new situations.

We are both nurturing and caring.

She has a great sense of humor and loves
to make people laugh.

We both love all things Vermont. 

She's good at figuring things out and
has many creative ideas.

How could Kerry not be my favorite??

But there's one more to consider.  Annie.

When she was young, I got to spend a lot of alone time
with her while Adam and Kerry were at school.

She was everything I wasn't as a child.
Confident, outgoing, fearless.  I was in awe.

We both like to dress up and look pretty - 
clothes, makeup, nail polish.

She loves to have her picture taken, and loves to take
selfies with me.  By the sheer volume of
mother/daughter photos on Facebook and Instagram
everyone must suspect that Annie's my favorite.

We have great conversations about life
and I think we really "get" each other.
Annie's the only one of my kids that will sing with me in the car too!

Anyone can see that my favorite must be Annie!

Adam.  Kerry.  Annie.

I wonder who they think is the favorite?
Does any one them secretly feel like the top dog?
Does any one of them feel second best,  or worst,  at the bottom
of the barrel in the favoritism department?

If I've done my job,
I haven't given them the slightest clue
who my favorite child is.

In fact, I don't know the answer myself.

I see so many aspects of myself in each of them.
They each make me happy in different ways.
They each tug at my heart for different reasons.

If I was in front of a firing squad
and was told my life would be spared
if I named my favorite child,
I could not do it.

It's impossible.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

I Had a Wonderful Time

I traveled back to my home town for a funeral last weekend.
Is it awful to say that I had a wonderful time?

My mom's brother, Vernon, passed away at the age of 91 in Vermont.
Both of my sisters also traveled to be there, with Lori coming all the 
way from Alaska.  It was also attended by all 9 of his children, many 
grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and quite a few 
of my cousins, my Aunt Aurora (his wife) and my Uncle Jack.

This was virtually a family reunion.

Each person there knew my uncle in a different way.  
Uncle, father, grandpa, friend, boss, fellow serviceman.
I remember him fondly - always well dressed, always smiling, 
always with a story to tell, and always making me laugh.

In the sharing of stories, I learned a lot about him
that I didn't know. I also disovered things that helped 
me to piece together commonalities in our family history
 - similar traits that span generations - enabling me
to make sense of so much.  It also gave me a sweet sense 
of belonging that has diminished over the many years 
I've lived away from "home" and haven't spent much 
time with my extended family.

My Uncle Vernon was married to Aunt Aurora for 69 years.  She is pictured above with
my uncle early in their marriage, and below at the reception after the
funeral with me, Lori,  and Uncle Jack.

Uncle Jack, above center, is pictured below with Lori (baby) and his wife,
Aunt Connie.  They are Lori's god-parents.

So many memories of my younger years are of time spent
with aunts, uncles and cousins.  Moving away from Vermont
 after college, I regretfully lost touch with most of my cousins.
I would hear news through my parents, but it wasn't the same.
But then again, we were all leading busy lives working and 
raising our families.  This weekend, though, we were able to
reconnect and I was reminded of their value in my life.

Lori and I were able to spend time with Kevin and Debbie (above right)...

who are also pictured here.  Kevin and I are the little ones sitting on
the floor, and Debbie is standing wearing the red dress.  My cousin,
Stevie, is back-row center, and my brother, Paul, is holding Bugs Bunny.

My cousin, Dale is pictured with us above,  and in the center of 
the photo below.  I am the little girl to the right of her on the float.

Almost every weekend in the summer, our families would go camping
together.  We also drove caravan-style to Florida in the winter 
during our winter break from school to camp in the warm weather
and have fun together.

I have so many happy memories of times spent with my cousins. 
Swimming.  Talking.  Laughing.  Sitting around the campfire
at night as my uncles told stories (as only they knew
how to do).  Listening to my Uncle Jack sing Danny Boy.
Giggling as my uncles went skinny dipping in the lake at night.
Thanksgivings. Christmases. Parties.

I wish I had pictures with all of my cousins,
but I was happy with the many conversations we had.

Family is one of the greatest blessings we are given.  They
are a huge part of my sense of identity and sense of belonging.
We share biographies.  
We are so different and yet so much the same.

I'm so grateful for last weekend. 
Not for what brought us all together,
but for spending time together.
I had a wonderful time.

Friday, January 15, 2016

My Bullet Journal

"Good order is the foundation of all things."
~Edmund Burke

The one single thing that 
makes my life easier,
saves time, 
and unburdens me
is being organized.

When my son called yesterday and asked if I could send him a photo
of him dressed as a confederate soldier during the civil war encampment reenactment in 5th grade,  it took less than 5 minutes to complete.

When I need to find a receipt for something we bought 5 years ago,
it's at my fingertips - literally - in 30 seconds.  

Nothing wastes time more than searching.

Another side of organization is keeping track of so many thoughts and ideas that I feel are important to remember.  I do this on random pieces of paper that are handy whenever the important idea
pops into my head.  I also have lots of "lists" on my iPhone.

But these lists often get lost or tossed because they are on the backside of envelopes that came in the mail or sticky notes that "stuck" 
in unintentional places.

In 2016, I'm trying something new to organize these.

A Bullet Journal.

It's not a journal where you write your thoughts in paragraph form.
It's pages are filled with "bullets" instead.  Lists. 

I have to give credit to my daughter, Annie, who recently
showed me her own Bullet Journal over Christmas break.
It was very intriguing and I did some investigating on
Pinterest and Instagram. 
(search #bulletjournal and you can
find thousands of page ideas)

I began by finding a journal that I love.

I chose the yellow one.

The pages are dotted instead of lined to allow for 
 artwork, but still provide a guide to keep writing straight.

I'm in the process of setting up my pages,
which are a canvas for creativity too.

Here are my pages so far.

This page is to record my weight on a weekly basis.
Hopefully it will serve as a reality check so the 
20 pounds that I lost will not creep back on.

This page is to keep track of books I've read and maybe jot down
a few thoughts about each of them.

I believe greatly in remembering all you are
thankful for.  These pages will be filled by year-end.

Here I will list everything that I need to let go of, 
both emotional and physical.

I would like to blog more often this year.  This will be a place
to store ideas.

I am a lover of learning.  There are always things
I would like to explore in more depth, but they slip
my mind if I don't write them down.

When I'm on Facebook,  I often see beautiful pictures of places 
that I would like to visit someday.  If I keep track of them,
maybe someday I will.

Another change I want to make this year is to take at least one
photo every day.  There are so many times I am somewhere and wish I had my camera. Or I see a photograph that I would like to try to take myself.  This list will hopefully force me to expand my abilities
as a photographer.

Do you have projects that are so big, so time-consuming
that you put them off and they never get done?  Seeing
them here will hopefully remind me to keep chipping away 
at them. 

I am a lover of quotes.  When someone gets an idea across in a way that makes you stop and reflect on its truth in your own life, it is worth

I have a problem with allergies.  I am allergic to sulfites and red dye.
But there are many times lately (like last night) when my nose just turns on like a faucet and I go through an entire box of kleenex.
Only Benadryl turns it off.   Here I will keep track of triggers
that are possible, probable or definite.

What gets tracked is more likely to get done.  It's a fact.
I set up a page to keep track of things I would like to do 
more often or on a regular basis.  Each month I will
set my goals and track their frequency.

This is a cool idea I found on Pinterest.  It uses small sticky
notes to set weekly goals!

That's it so far!  Some people use the Bullet Journal technique
to track daily to-do lists or shopping lists, but I decided to 
give mine a much broader focus.  As I design my pages,
I find it also forces me to use a part of the brain that I don't
get a chance to use very often anymore.  I really enjoy the 
hands-on artistic challenge of creating interesting lettering and 
page decorations - things that used to come easily to me
in my younger days that are a bit rusty now.

More pages are yet to come, but I wanted to show you
what I'm doing because I am very excited about it! 
 I believe it will make a big
difference in my life in 2016!