Word of the day challenge using the convenient choice of the phrase Ornament.
Every year I grow excited when I drag the big green tub labeled “ornaments” from storage. I pop the lid, knowing, but I wonder what I’ll find. Why? A lot has happened since I closed the lid approximately 358 days ago. I’m questioning why I entered a room, for god sake.
I’ll admit that opening the lid was met with little enthusiasm over the past two years. In 2020, my mother had just passed on the 4th of December. My holiday spirit was not present, followed by 2021, when we spent the holidays without family, in an apartment, preparing to move for the second time. Bah Humbug!
However, who was back in town this holiday season? You guessed it, Christine Cringle appeared with a cheerful spirit leading the way as she popped that big green lid. Time lessens the blow.
This year I took extra care as I hung all of our ornaments, starting with the story of notable “firsts” in our lives ranging from our first Christmas together in 1988 to the first one spent as grandparents in 2022. With many in between.
They tell tales from our many family vacations or when our son was obsessed with trains, and our daughter received her black belt in Taekwondo.
We have ornaments from family, friends, neighbors, and even co-workers. They range from a worn Daisy Duck from my sister’s trip to California, a stack of books from the NY Public Library, a Rockette and a glass Ruth Bader Ginsburg from a friend in NYC, to a worn-out toybox from a former boss over 30 years ago and too many snowmen to count from friends.
The unique ornaments donning our names on snowmen, reindeer, and penguins, while our pets have theirs shining on jeweled crowns, are clear reminders of who rules this roost. It’s certainly not the penguins.
Of course, our tree wouldn’t be the same without memorial cardinals representing those celebrating from another realm, including our Chester, who crossed the rainbow bridge years ago.
Then there are the ones representing colleges, sororities, and hobbies, including vehicles from bicycles to motorcycles that always bring a smile and a pause. How many years passed?
For many reasons, I still shake my head at the deer dressed in orange camouflage riding a quad. Why is this even an ornament? But, I reluctantly hang it every year to note the time my son thought he wanted to hunt until he did and decided it wasn’t his thing. Removing history doesn’t change the fact that it happened.
I hang the eldest of our balls last, each year adding more gray hair from the fear of dropping one. Lord knows the survivors have seen many of their comrades hit the floor compliments of kids, pets, and my man hands. Part of me thinks they plunge from the branches on their own.
Although all of the above are loved beyond measure and guaranteed to spread joy throughout the season, the popsicle stick manger and one-eyed reindeer made by little loving hands many moons ago remain favorites.
Enjoy the Ride!
I had quite the encounter this week at work. It was love at first site. No, my husband shouldn’t be concerned, well maybe a little.
The door opened mysteriously. I didn’t see anyone at first, but then a tiny hand appeared on the window. I had to get up and look down to realize the cutest little boy trying to get my attention.
When I opened the window, I was greeted by, “Hi, my name is Merrick, my birthday is January 13th, and I’m 5 years old. He really did have me at hello.
He presented himself with purpose and eyelashes for miles, quickly capturing my attention.
Considering his excess energy, we had the pleasure of keeping him busy while his mother was taking care of business. A dream come true for me.
It turned out that little Merrick is an aspiring entertainer, stand-up comedian to be exact, and he hit the jackpot because I am the perfect audience.
The show started after we drew a dinosaur and colored it with what I thought was a green crayon. However, I was corrected and informed that it was, in fact, asparagus, followed by an introduction to the spinach and celery crayons in the box. Alrighty then …
Showtime for me began when he signed our artwork with “Poop” in all capital letters. I asked, “Is Poop your artistic alter ego?” I don’t think he heard anything other than “poop.” Unless the big laugh that followed was a yes.
Boys and the joy they get from saying, writing, and hearing the word poop remains a mystery.
Once he started his set of knock, knock jokes, there was no stopping him. At one point, I thought I was watching a blooper reel. He could not keep it together to deliver the punchline, but in reality, that was the best part of the show. Robin Williams reincarnated.
I’ll leave you with one he closed the show with before his mother came to collect him.
What are you, an owl? Falling off the chair, grasping for air from laughing.
Merrick was much more than an aspiring comedian; he was a reminder that life is too short not to stop and appreciate the joyful innocence of a knock, knock joke,
Enjoy the Ride!
Here we are on election day 2022. There was a time in my life when I thought by 2022, the state of my world would consist of a robot maid named Rosie, a cute space dress, and a jetpack to get to the office. Nieve or wishful thinking?
Instead, my world is filled with negative news on every channel, children shooting children, endless wars, a Supreme Court that has lost its way, and half-assed celebrities looking to fill seats in the most important houses in our country. What the actual f*#@k is happening?
Oh, and did I mention the lies upon lies, corporate gouging, misinformation, and division? Well, now I did.
All elections are important, but this one is personal to me. In just a few weeks, I will welcome my first grandchild, a baby girl, to this hot mess society. How can I not be concerned for her future?
I’m sure historically, my sentiments crossed the minds of many soon-to-be grandmothers before me, but this time it’s different. We’re not fighting for the future; we’re fighting for what we had in the past.
How is it in 2022 that a granddaughter will be born with fewer rights than her grandmother, mother, and aunts who came before her? There is not a mother in the world who wants this to be true, not one.
In my lifetime, the “horror” of Roe v. Wade has loomed over my head. Literally decades. It has been a never-ending story told by a select group of white men for division and political leverage. Talk about losing sight of something.
Our leaders, former leaders, and wanna-be leaders have been out on the campaign trail screaming our “democracy is at risk” or “inflation is through the roof” Really? This is all you got? I guess the powers-to-be have decided that the American people can only handle 2 catchphrases, so here we are. I’ll just be here shaking my head.
Meanwhile, the bodily autonomy of an entire GENDER of human beings is under siege. Our existence is at risk. I guess that doesn’t sell as well as democracy and gas prices. Dumbing us down one election at a time.
The word democracy comes from the Greek words “demos,” meaning people, and “kratos” meaning power; so democracy can be thought of as “power of the people”: a way of governing that depends on the will of the people.
So, what am I going to tell my granddaughter? Well, first things first, I’m going to cast a VOTE.
Once she arrives, I will introduce her to nature’s artwork. The ocean, flowers, trees, rivers, and mountains. I will ensure that the beauty in her world outweighs the negative dialog. I will tell her she is strong, kind, and loved beyond measure. I will let her know her voice matters. She matters. I will hope that her future is filled with opportunities and choices. Most importantly, I will love her unconditionally.
Enjoy the Ride with the WILL to protect the freedoms of all the females in your life.
Just sitting here pondering about life. Concluding that, if nothing else, it’s engaging as we navigate through our individual and collective journeys. I say collective because we’re in this together. Who’s crossing your path today, and why?
Have you ever viewed life as a movie with yourself as both the writer and star? I have.
Of course, there will be significant co-stars. At the same time, God, the universe, creator, or whatever term you refer to as a higher power is trying to direct scenes that include, I don’t know, millions of extras and a storyline that changes daily. Spielberg gave it a hard no.
It all started when I began recognizing a pattern of who I was attracting onto my set. Yes, we’re sticking to the movie theme here. My awareness heightened when someone or something got under my skin. Ugh, what is it? Why are you so f@#$ing annoying?
The answer is simple and complicated. Oh, you thought it would be easy too?
Remember the millions of extras and those co-stars? Well, they play crucial roles in our stories, some more than others, but they’re all critical in their own way. It’s no accident they auditioned.
It doesn’t matter if it’s the disgruntled cashier, a family member, a boss, or someone in between. If they show up, I ask myself whether they’ve been cast as my mirror, a messenger, or a teacher. A memo from the director would be nice; just saying.
The other plot twist to remember is that everyone you encounter is also starring in their own movie. What could possibly go wrong? Without ever being in Hollywood, I think it’s safe to say things can go wry when too many stars are on the stage. Why? Well …
We’re all walking around the studio lot we call this world with unhealed wounds while our particular audiences sling salt at them daily, provoking us to choose between reacting or learning. It’s not a Hallmark movie out there, folks.
So far, I’ve realized that our movies do not include stunt people, which is sometimes unfortunate but necessary if we want that blockbuster; we have to feel the bumps along the way. They don’t call it growing pains for anything.
Another important lesson learned is improvising or using our free will during production makes it very difficult for the director to navigate the script. Ego is always trying to steal the show.
So, until we allow the spotlight to shine on us with certainty, the problematic scenes in our movie will play on a loop until we decide to heal or learn. It’s all about the light.
This perspective has allowed me to view my movie more transparently and ask the director for guidance; this has led me on a path to winning the Best Picture award.
Enjoy the Ride!
“It’s a small world.” How many times have you heard this in your lifetime? I remember my parents saying it and thinking, “What are you talking about?” Now, here I am saying it at least twice a week! It’s official, I’m my parents.
The community had a huge yard sale on Friday and Saturday at the new abode. According to the neighbors, this is a twice-a-year function that is heavily advertised and equally as popular. Perfect timing for this professional box unpacker.
The weather was damp and rainy, but that did not stop the crowds. Yes, crowds. I made a good chunk of change selling crap left by the previous owners and some of my own crap. I’m very close to getting a “less is more” tattoo or t-shirt.
This lovely couple, Frank and Joanne, stopped by to browse yesterday. There was an instant connection. They had a good sense of humor, especially Frank’s quick wit. People could have been shoplifting, and I wouldn’t have noticed.
As we were exchanging backstories of how the hell we wound up in Lewes, DE, Joanne was surprised to learn that I had never vacationed in this area. I explained I’m a Jersey Shore girl, Ocean City. NJ, to be exact. Her parents lived in Ocean City, NJ.
I explained that my husband was familiar with this area through his job, and my only introduction was when we looked at this house. Now she is intrigued.
Joanne, “How do you just move to a place you’ve never been to?”
Me, “I don’t know, but here I am.”
Frank, “Wow, there’s more than one!”
Me, “You know someone else who just packed up to Lewes?”
Joanne, “Yes, our dear friend from college. She just called me one day and told me her boys were all out of the house; they sold their home in Villanova and bought a place in Lewes.”
Frank, “I asked her if she bought it on Amazon because she never asked us to check it out or inquired about the area.”
Joanne, “We couldn’t believe they made such a big purchase without a second thought.”
Me, “I looked at Frank’s Mount St. Mary College sweatshirt while Villanova and boys ran through my mind when I asked, wait a minute, what is your friend’s name?”
Joanne, “Marie _______ _______.”
Me, “WHAT!? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?”
Frank, “You know Marie?”
Me, “Yes, we were paralegals together back in the day and work besties.”
All of us, “OMG! It’s such a small world!” Along with laughter.
Frank takes out his phone, captures a photo of the three of us, and sends it to Marie.
We are all meeting for Happy Hour on Friday!
Enjoy the Ride!
Back in January, when we decided to move to another state, after 58 years of living not only in one state but one zip code, I knew things would be challenging. Correction, I did live in another zip code for the first 15 months of my life.
In October, we purchased a home to use as a second residence while renting our apartment at the complex I like to call “The Resort,” but the universe always has bigger plans. A heads up would be nice.
We landed at The Resort after selling our home of 30 years to our son and surrendering to the inflated, dog-eat-dog real estate market in our area. Sorry, you’re not getting my soul for a house.
A CURVEBALL ARRIVED just when I was getting used to the thought of weekend getaways and vacations at our home. BAM! A colleague of my husband’s announced his retirement in the same area where we purchased our home. He saw this as an opportunity served on a silver platter, while I saw more of a Taco Bell drive-thru moment. Yup, fear, and doubt were playing center stage.
I had more to think about in my defense, like leaving my job of 18 years. Oh, and let’s not forget MY CHILDREN. I compiled a list of excuses a mile long. I presented my case without a single dramatic courtroom moment and concluded that the jury had spoken; it’s time to pack your bags. Maybe it was just the thought of packing for the second time in a year.
Financially it was a no-brainer to make a move. Sentimentally, in my mind, it was just not happening. Meanwhile, I am the first to tell anyone, “why are you holding on to that?”
As the months and days went on, reality sank in that this was actually happening. But I just couldn’t trust that this huge life change was happening for me and not to me. Even though examples were in my face clear as glass every day, without fail. At this point, even the universe had its hands in the air.
What does a girl do when she just can’t seem to get a handle on trusting what’s best for her? Oh, she consults a Psychic. That’s right, folks, if Abraham Lincoln could do it, so could I. Google it; it’s a fact.
How did that go, you ask? Well, I’m currently sitting in my new home writing this post. We moved in over the weekend during a freak Nor’eatser storm. Drowned Rat Moving Company may be a new business venture.
All week I watched the weather report showing a Nor’easter with flooding rains and 50/60 mile an hour wind would be hitting the area. There couldn’t be a better metaphor for what I was leaving behind. Well played, Mother Nature, well played.
Typically I would have looked at this storm as “a sign” that we shouldn’t move. I’ve spent too much time and energy playing victim. Those days are over. Guess what else storms bring? SUNNY SKIES.
I’m entering this new adventure with an open mind, heart, and growth. This chapter is called: Knowing my Worth and Acting Accordingly.
It’s never too late to Enjoy the Ride!
We hired a new girl at work. She’s the same age as my daughter and very sweet. This week I was training her on the dynamics of the office. Considering her age, I knew I didn’t have to say too much about the computer system beyond a password. I was right; she’s a wizard.
As we talked and got to know each other, I noticed a common thread in her language. Fear. Not just your common fear of, let’s say, spiders, I’m talking fear of life. What in the world?
I was drained by this negative energy by Tuesday, which was a new reaction for me. Typically, the mother in me takes over, but I stopped noting she has a mother. Who I now know is 11 years younger than me. Next up would be my inner Therapist, who I had to tackle before she started to take on another non-paying patient. Boundaries baby.
On my ride home, I could not shake the thought of our conversations. There was almost a sadness about them, and usually, I’m very understanding. So why the hell was I so annoyed? What is it about myself that I don’t like in this girl? Ding, ding, ding!!!
Then I remembered a chapter from a book I listened to recently, The Untethered Soul by Michael A. Singer titled Removing Your Inner Thorn.
I highly recommend reading or listening to this book for a broader explanation.
This is a complex subject, so I’ll do my best to explain it in the simplest form, and even that is complicated. I think I listened to this chapter 1,000 before it started to sink in.
Let’s say you have a thorn in your arm, and the pain is excruciating because it’s touching a nerve. Of course, you’re not going to let anyone near it because it will cause too much pain. This makes your life very difficult. The thorn now becomes a constant source of disruption in your life. Protecting and hiding is a job.
To solve the issue, you have two choices: One, you continue to protect the thorn, or two, you take it out. As simple as this sounds, it’s actually the most complicated thing a person can do to heal and grow.
Where am I going with this? Well, let me tell you. I’ve had thorns stuck in me for decades! You could say I was a professional thorn protector, or so I thought. I didn’t realize everything I was missing while my energy was focused on creating airbags to keep my thorns at bay. The thorns ran/run my life.
No matter what solution you choose, the thorn will continue to run your life until you remove all the layers, dig deep down to the root and give a good long hug and a quick yank. Free at last.
Through growth and higher consciousness, I’ve learned that my thorns are nothing more than stored energy from the past that sits in my heart. The good part is I noticed my thorn was being poked, but I didn’t have a reactive response; it shows my growth. It’s about time!
When I look at this girl, I see my twenty-something self looking back at me full of thorns. Talk about being tested; she’s my teacher.
The low self-esteem, lack of self-worth, an unhealthy relationship, people-pleasing, and fears out the wazoo were front and center, staring me in the face. Taunting me. Forcing me to feel my own thorns. Oh, not today, Mother F@$#ers, not today.
I thought if I had to sit three feet from my twenty-something self four days a week, I’m going to need a plan that doesn’t involve drugs or alcohol. This was not in the job description.
I asked myself, “what did I need in my twenties?” “what would have helped that wounded girl?”
I had to really dig for an answer without getting too complicated. The answer, drum roll please, I needed someone to see me, the me I didn’t see. In 2022 terms, someone to give an actual f**k.
Now, I’ll have to be subtle. My challenge will be controlling my inner cheerleader to quietly assist this young, intelligent, beautiful soul on her path. Pom-poms in the face could be scary.
Of course, I know I can not heal her thorns, but I can have compassion and not judge her journey. We’re all human. We all have pain.
Recognize the teachers; they seem to show up in the strangest circumstances.
Enjoy the Ride!
Recently, a friend was going through a medical issue and gave what I like to call “the runaround,” having to go from one doctor to the next and shelling out co-pays all along the way. Without thought, I told her Peace of mind is costly.
Later, when the dust settled, she asked me how I came up with that response. This really made me pause since, well, I had no idea. It just came out of my mouth without an ounce of thought. That’s usually where the truth lies.
The truth is I don’t think I’ve ever had Peace of mind, in the true sense. Being born into a household with an older parent, a lot of my childhood was spent worrying about death.
I was 10 years old when I realized my dad was older than my best friend’s grandmom, and in that instant, my carefree childhood began worrying about the future. Fear is so much cheaper than Peace.
If you were wondering, my dad died when I was THIRTY-ONE.
This pattern of worry or fear of the future has been with me for a long time. It didn’t get buried with my dad; it followed me into each phase of my journey. I’ve mastered this behavior.
Now, here I sit at the point in my life where my kids are productive members of society and my parents are ironically resting in Peace. This is supposed to be “my” time. So, why the hell am I sitting in a constant state of waiting for the other shoe to drop? It’s like being in a foreign land without a translator.
Apparently, I’m not comfortable in a state of settled awareness. I don’t even know how to react to being present. I prefer the ratty robe of worry. Currently, I’m training myself to keep that robe in the closet and unify myself with the now. Did I hear good luck with that, Lisa?
There are days, even weeks, when the struggle is real. Why? Well, life. I’m not made of stone, and I have a T.V.
I know for sure that unlearning is a hell of a lot more complicated than learning. Trying to untangle decades of trauma, behaviors, and thought processes will take some time and effort. I’ve been doing the work, as they say, for a year. Yes, I’ve made some significant strides, but the world as we currently know it has me grabbing that ratty robe more often than I’d like. There are no back-to-school sales for unlearning.
Now, if only I had an eraser. Enjoy the Ride!
I have two books sitting on my end table that get a lot of action. More than me, but that’s another story.
One is a small book of Maya Angelou quotes, gifted to me at just the right time and read many times since. Maya’s wisdom can snap me back to reality.
Broken down into five parts, all equal to sending a message at just the right time. The best house guest a girl can have these days.
Self-Empowerment. Who doesn’t need a daily dose of this now and then? I am empowered by this nugget of knowledge to stop doubting on any given day.
“My wish for you is that you continue. Continue to be who and how you are, to astonish a mean world with your acts of kindness. Continue to allow humor to lighten the burden of your tender heart.”
Love. No matter how alone we might feel in this world, there is always one thing that brings us together. Laughter, especially with a friend, is highly recommended by me.
“There is an intimate laughter to be found only among friends.”
Society and Culture. This can be turbulent and beautiful on any given day. Remember, home can be anywhere.
“The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.”
Life. In the words of Forrest Gump, “it’s like a box of chocolates.” Between Forrest and Maya, it’s a wrap.
“When someone shows you who they are, believe them the first time.”
Herself. This is where Maya really shines. This hit me hard, considering our current climate.
“I refuse to allow any man-made differences to separate me from any other humans.”
The second gem is The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse, a book written and illustrated by Charlie Mackesy. If you don’t know it, get it now.
The book is dedicated to the author’s “lovely kind mum” and his “wonderful dog Dill.” How could this be anything but fantastic with that dedication?
The journey of these four unlikely friends takes its readers on a trip full of life lessons in the most superficial, most profound way to be kind, forgiving, and loving one another. Granted, it’s a children’s book, but the lessons are timeless.
Mr. Mackesy creates a world within the pages that seem foreign to the one we live in today, but the optimist in me doesn’t believe it cannot exist as long as we are willing to participate. A girl can dream.
Always let your wisdom ride shotgun and Enjoy the Ride!
No News Is Good News
Background: The first recorded use of this exact expression in English is by James Howell in 1640, who wrote, “I am of the Italians’ mind that said, ‘Nulla Nuova, Buona Nuova’ (no news, good news). Some years before that, James 1 of England (VI of Scotland) wrote, “No News is better than evil news.” In case you were wondering like me. Information compliments of bookbrouse.com
Do you know what else Good News is? Umm, plain ole Good News. There is plenty of it out there in the world, but it’s not a moneymaker, so it doesn’t get all the glitz like a good tragedy. Seems a tad backward, but here we are.
Today, I share not only a good news story but the far-reaching effects of a simple gesture of kindness. Many of you may have heard it, and if so, consider it a reminder; if not, enjoy.
I recently found out quite a bit about Sidney Poitier after his death. We both share the same zodiac sign, and shortly after I entered the world in 1964, Sidney won an Oscar. Looks like two Stars were born that year.
After reading about Mr. Poitier’s accomplishments throughout his long life and career, I found his constant strive to be viewed as dignified, with his strong sense of decency to be at the forefront. If only these were available on Amazon …
Now for the good part.
As everyone knows, Mr. Poitier was well known for his elegant speaking voice, but that was not always the case, being born in the Bahamas and arriving in the states with his heavy accent and illiteracy in tow. It’s hard to believe after listening to him for one second.
He told the story many times, but this excerpt is from a CBS interview in 2013.
“There was one of the waiters, a Jewish guy, elderly man, and he looked over at me and was looking at me for quite a while. I had a newspaper, it was called Journal American. And he walked over to me, and he said, ‘What’s new in the paper?’ And I looked up at this man. I said to him, ‘I can’t tell you what’s in the paper because I can’t read very well.’ He said, ‘Let me ask you something, would you like me to read with you?’ I said to him, ‘Yes if you like.’ …
As the story goes, they would sit together every night after their shifts. This kind man would teach him not only how to read but also the importance of punctuation, why it exists, followed by syllables, how to recognize them in words, and finally, pronunciation. I didn’t get that in my formal education.
This small act of kindness put Mr. Poitier onto a path that led to significant changes, on and off the silver screen. He was not only an actor. He was a published writer, director, and most of all, a social game-changer. Kudos to brave waiters and diner educations.
Although he regretted never getting the opportunity to thank this man in person, I’m going out on a limb to say he unknowingly thanked him every time he opened his mouth.
Be Kind. Share the good news, and Enjoy the Ride!