30 November 2008

All Lived Happily Ever After

It’s thought that we are all either ‘glass is half full’ or ‘glass is half empty’ kind of people. That, depending on our disposition and outlook on life, we are either looking on the bright side or lamenting our deficits.

This is definitely one way of thinking. But my questions is this: “What is with this ‘half’ crap? Half? Who the hell came up with this?

Here’s a suggestion. Instead, what if we were all ‘cup runneth over’ kind of people? Think about it..... Admit it, this might be the way to go. Are you with me? Take a page out of Dr. Venkman's book, "I love this plan! I'm excited to be a part of it! LET'S DO IT"

Below is the list of all my ‘gratitudes’ through out the month of November 2008. I don’t see any signs of ‘half’ anything. It’s all abundance, a month of cornucopia and plethora. It’s rich with emotional treasures and spiritual prosperity, among other things. And except for the retentive slice of me that thinks of the mess involved with a cup that is ever running over, I ask myself “Why would I ever think of life as ‘half?’ Give me abundance and superfluity. (I am thankful for my worn out thesaurus.)

November 1
I am thankful this Christmas will be different.

November 2
I am thankful for the clock falling back last night.

November 3
I am grateful for food that requires investment and time.

November 4
I am grateful that I was alive today to witness this historical election

November 5
I am thankful to the people who gathered and removed political signs today.

November 6
I am grateful for today’s windy weather.

November 7
I am thankful for the sound of rain outside my window, wind chimes tinkling in the night and laptop glow on my lap.

November 8
I am grateful learning the intense, priceless benefit in expressing appreciation.

November 9
I am grateful for people who boldly show appreciation for our troops.

November 10
I'm thankful that I'm a girl and for the amazing girls in my life.

November 11
I am thankful to our veterans and our active duty military.

November 12
I am grateful for The Wizard of Oz.

November 13
I am thankful my 17 year-old daughter asks about once a week, “Mom do you want to watch a movie with me?”

November 14
I am grateful for the anonymous comment that sent me back to my first blog posts.

November 15
I am grateful that my heart is open and ready for new Christmas adventure and opportunity.

November 16
I am thankful for weather to be watched

November 17
I'm thankful for the book Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott and all 3x5 cards.

November 18
I am grateful for energy and inspiration, even when it is momentarily absent.

November 19
I am thankful for an abundance of office supplies.

November 20
I am thankful for gratitude rewards and for independent wealth.

November 21
I am grateful today for Dr. Peter Venkman and getting to watch for the shiny in life.

November 22
I am grateful for the things in life that I can’t wait to do.

November 23
I am thankful to friends and family who’ve taken the time to let me know they appreciate me.

November 24
I am thankful for good (and sometimes, not so good but still funny) movie quotes.

November 25
I am grateful for dessert first.

November 26
I am grateful for champagne and no concern in my head.

November 27
I am thankful for Thanksgiving leftovers. Turkey sandwich with Lays chips and a Coke on ice.

November 28
I am grateful this is the best Christmas ever (at least until next year…)!

November 29
I am thankful for the liberty to write here, or anywhere, exactly and only when the spirit moves. Thank you, thank you....*deep breath* thank you.

November 30

On this last day of November, I am thankful for those who come here to read. Thank you whether you come here daily, oftenly or haphazardly. I love you and I thank you.

I say goodbye and thank you to November today. I’m ready for December. I want to just add before I finish here, that in addition to the things I listed each day, there was so very much more. Stuff not yet ready for prime time, stuff too lengthy to go into here, intimate personal stuff, just lots of other stuff. You gotta love stuff!

As December arrives, I think of a quote from the Gene Wilder old school Willie Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. “Don't forget what happened to the man who suddenly got everything he always wanted."

(S)he lived happily ever after. Amen.

29 November 2008

I Call It!

Sometimes you want quality.

Sometimes you want quantity.

Most of us would call dibs on 'quality' most of the time. I'm no exception and with that being said....I call dibs on quality blogs!

At the beginning of November I really wanted to write a little sentence here each day of somethings for which I am sincerely grateful. Just a quick "Thank you" to the universe and sometimes specific individuals each day, for the entire month of November.

Now as noble and well intentioned as this may have been, by about day 18 or 19, I'm thinking "Oh right, I can't go to sleep yet, I have to blog..."

Did you see that? "I have to blog..." This is probably not the best energy to bring to a situation where gratitude is supposed to be the focus.

So I will confess here and now, that I'll be glad to be done with this specific goal. I am quite satisfied with the accomplishment but 'whew!'

From here out, after tomorrow, it will be 'blog at will' for me. I love this. Blog when the urge hits. This is how it should be, I think. At least with the intent of being true to my own spirit, listening to my literary heart, not watching the clock or the calendar. It ends up being about quantity instead of quality. Phooey on that!

I am so thankful for the liberty to write here, or anywhere, exactly and only when the spirit moves.
Thank you, thank you....

28 November 2008

"I can't put my arms down!"

Predictably enough, I have Christmas movies on my mind the last few days.

I love thinking of what's 'Coming Soon' to a TV screen near me. These are my personal favorites, in no certain order (if you can believe that):

A Christmas Story
Charlie Brown Christmas
Christmas Vacation
It's a Wonderful Life
Miracle on 34th Street (1955)
Dr. Seuss' How the Grinch Stole Christmas (1966)
Christmas Carol (George C. Scott version)
Because It's Christmas; Barry Manilow (Kidding)

Classics all. Okay, okay I know there are a few missing: Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer. Even as a very small child, I was never a Frosty fan. And Rudolph scared the crap out of me. That abominable snowman guy was just frightening.

Whether I catch them on TV, borrow them from the library or dust them off out of my own stash....they are coming. And I can't wait! Christmas movies. One of the many shiny reasons I love this time of year.

This year, as well as the predictable, I find myself drawn to some movies that aren't generally thought of as Christmas movies but are set almost entirely during that most wonderful time of the year.

The two at the top of my list are:

Desk Set with Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy.

My favorite Desk Set quotes:

Bunny Watson: I don't smoke, I only drink champagne when I'm lucky enough to get it, my hair is naturally natural, I live alone... and so do you.
Richard Sumner: How do you know that?
Bunny Watson: Because you're wearing one brown sock and one black sock

Family Stone with Diane Keaton, Luke Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Sarah Jessica Parker and others.

My favorite Family Stone quotes:
"You have a freak flag. You just don't fly it."
"Don't dilly-dally there, pretty lady. We're all gonna be down here talking about you."
Both by the Luke Wilson character, hmmmm.....

I love these movies for different reasons that I won't go into here. But I will recommend that you watch these along with your Christmas favorites.
Let me know what you think.
I am so grateful this is going to be the best Christmas ever (at least until next year...)!

27 November 2008

"What are those things in the Cranberry sauce?" "Cranberries."

Thanksgiving memories. They run a wide range, don't they? All extremes.

One year we had a big wind storm, we lost power for hours, my four year old son went into heart failure and while we were at the hospital with him, my mom stayed at the house caring for my infant daughter (who was still breast feeding except that her 'source' was across town sitting in a waiting room) with no power and no dinner. A Thanksgiving I'll never forget.

Today, the turkey went into the oven early in order to be done around noon. But instead the meat thermometer said it was done at 9:30 a.m. No exactly as I'd planned. It was the first Turkey breakfast I've ever had. So by the time most people were sitting down to dinner, I had already had my turkey induced nap and I was up thinking about making myself a turkey sandwich.

So if Thanksgiving were a competition, I totally won!

2008, the year I won the Tournament of the Turkey!

I love Thanksgiving left overs. Turkey sandwich with Lays and a Coke on ice.

26 November 2008

To "Rose lipped maidens"

I love champagne.

It's the night before Thanksgiving, I'm all snug in my bed.
We're having turkey tomorrow, good thing he's dead.

I'm sipping my bubbly, it's tickling my nose.
It's warm under my covers, except for my toes.

I'm really no poet, and I'd much rather drink
So I'll be done now, I don't care what you think....

I love champagne.

No concern in my head,

25 November 2008

Let them eat cake FIRST!

When was the last time you ate dessert first?

It's always an option, you know. We all have it: Dessert Free-will. It may not always be the best thing for us, but the shiny thing is that we get to decide. And that we do not have to get all tangled up in whether or not it's the 'right thing.' Some might frown on the thought of eating brownies and ice cream before they've eaten their ham and cheese sandwich, that it's wrong, somehow. Says who? 'More for me,' is what I say. Where did such rules come from? Don't answer that. I really don't care. What I know is that I can eat dessert first if I want to. And today I want to. I love this option.

I'm grateful for dessert first.

24 November 2008

"I call it Vera"

I love movie quotes.

I love long held, common quotes that have simply become part of our daily vocabulary.

  • "Lucky!" Napoleon
  • "There's no place like home." Wizard of Oz
  • "We're gonna need a bigger boat." Jaws
  • "Take it easy, Francis!" Stripes
  • "Who you gonna call?" Ghostbusters

Okay, well you may not use any of these in your daily life, but maybe you should. Then I wouldn't be hanging out here all alone.

I love obscure quotes from unknown sources that make me laugh even though I have no clue to the reference, until I ask.

  • "I'll be in my bunk." Firefly
  • "My boy's wicked smart." Good Will Hunting
  • "I was just no where near your neighborhood." Singles
  • "We will rule over all this land, and we will call it... 'This Land'." Firefly
  • "Sounds made up." Signs
  • "Paps, you've been like the drunken, abusive grandfather I never had." Cabin Boy
  • "Master, sir, do not forget to specify, when time and place shall assert, that I am an ass." Much Ado About Nothing
  • "Oh...and I can kill you with my brain. " Firefly

I am thankful for good (and sometimes, not so good but still funny) movie quotes.

23 November 2008

Thank you, Thank you very much

You've heard of the movie "The Bucket List" and are probably aware of the concept. Making a list of things you'd like to accomplish before you die. I am in full support of this thinking. And I am a renowned list maker, so it's win-win in my book. (I adore that phrase "my book.")

I love the idea of naming our dreams. Claiming them. Writing them down. Just the thinking "When I get to the end of my life, what would I want to say I've accomplished?" Living a life everyday with our most beautiful, shiny living in mind.

There's another list of which I'm a big fan. It isn't a movie yet, but maybe someday.

"The Blessing List"

It is only a few more days until Thanksgiving and there are probably a lot of things on your mind just now:

What size turkey will I need?

How many suit cases should I pack?

Will the pass be snowy? Should I take the chains?

How many people are coming? Going?

Will the airport lines be long? Will the baby sleep on the flight?

Will Colin eat anything besides mashed potatoes and rolls?

Will I have to sit next to Uncle George? And is there enough wine in the world?

Stop. STOP right now! This is not what Thanksgiving is about. Stop making that mental list of chores. Breathe and melt into another way of thinking. Even if just for a few minutes today. For the next few days. Think of your blessings instead. Make a Blessing List. List especially the people who have been a blessing.

Let your thoughts dwell on the people who've crossed your path. In all ways. Those ways most grand. And in the very smallest ways, almost invisible to the naked eye.

Write down their names. Send your thanks out into the open universe, then thank them directly.

Remember and give gratitude to....

...the person who taught you to tie your shoes, drive a stick shift.

...the person who introduced you to the Beatles's, to Nirvana.

...the person who first admired your painting, your writing, your Lego skill.

...the person who taught you to use chopsticks, to eat an artichoke, catch a crab.

...the person with whom you first played chess, backgammon, cribbage, Attack from Mars.

Who would we be without the people we meet along the way?

I read this quote a couple of days ago,

The only people with whom you should try to get even are those who have helped you.

~ John E. Southard.

Say Thank You to that someone who comes to your mind today. I think our mind works perfectly this way. Call, email, stop by. Make the time. Share gratitude.

Today I'm thankful for those family and friends of mine who've made the time at some point to let me know they were grateful for me.

22 November 2008


Some things I'm willing to 'work hard' to learn.

Some things I wish I just knew already, no hard work necessary.

I do not play a musical instrument. I wish I did. If I played an instrument, it would probably be piano first, then acoustic guitar and third, drum set. After these three, I'd get more exotic (at least exotic for someone who doesn't play an instrument at all) and play the stand up bass and then maybe the cello.

I do not paint but if I did, I'd choose watercolors. I love the soft lines, the gradients of color, the mood it puts me in. Watercolor paintings makes me think of rain. I also wish I knew how to do colored pencil art and maybe pastels as well.

Frankly it isn't from lack of 'starting' but it is from lack of staying. I do not really want the hard work of learning and hours of practice. I have taken violin, guitar and sax lessons but honestly it was just too much work. I tried teaching myself piano since there was a spare one sitting in my dining room but again, no. I gave up quickly.

I've also been in a couple of art classes. It just didn't stick.

If I were Samantha Stevens, I could just wiggle my nose and play great music, sing moving songs, create stunning pieces of art. I could ice skate and french cook, speak french and fly airplanes. The problem with the nose wiggling technique is there's no earning involved.

How proud can I be of myself for playing beautiful music if I didn't have to 'work' to get there? My head so easily creates a list of the things I wish, but am not willing to work for. Yet, when I try to think of the things I have worked hard to learn, I'm coming up blank. This seems wrong. I know there must be things that I know. Something, something.... Then it hit me. It's because they never felt like work.

For instance, I am a photographer. I know a lot about photography, at least the old school, delayed gratification, black and white style of photography. I know how to manipulate the light exposure, the depth of field, the shutter speed and aperture. I know how to develop my own film, blow it up on an enlarger and process my own prints. It didn't come naturally, or with a wiggle of anything but it never, ever seemed hard or like work. I couldn't wait to get back into the dark room, or get outside and snap more pictures. It is the most incredible fun. The 'work' of learning, energized my desire to learn more. To get better and better and better. It didn't come naturally but it came very easily and freely. It never felt like a struggle or a chore.

That's the stuff. The tasks in life that we are happy to do, for hours, for days at a time. The things in life we feel lucky to do. The stuff we can't wait to get back to and the rest of our lives just seems to get in the way of.

I am so grateful for the things in life that I 'get' to do.

21 November 2008

All my readings point to something big on the horizon

Sometimes things are not what they seem. The date of this blog is one of them.

It's Thanksgiving in just a few days. I came into this month truly determined to focus on gratitude. And I've had some success.

I must say if I am to set my energy into anything as I proceed through out my typical day, my typical month, gratitude might be the very best. How can I possibly go wrong watching for things to hold up in gratitude? Scanning the horizon of my day in hopes of the most shiny. It feels like a most honorable and worthy personal, emotional investment.

I believe firmly that if you go through life looking for things to complain about, you will surely find them. Nice work! 'How's that workin' for ya?'

I could be wrong. Maybe where your expectations dwell has nothing to do with what comes into your day, into your life. Maybe. Maybe you could spend your whole day watching for great things for which to be grateful and you come up empty handed. 'I could be wrong, but I doubt it.' And what if I am wrong? What have you lost?

"If I'm wrong, nothing happens! We go to jail - peacefully, quietly. We'll enjoy it! But if I'm right, and we can stop this thing... Lenny, you will have saved the lives of millions of registered voters." Sorry, couldn't help myself.

I challenge you to spend the rest of this day, watching very specifically, very actively and very hopefully for amazing, inspiring, heart warming. See what you see! Write it down. And get back to me with the details if you feel so inclined. I would in fact, be ever so grateful.

I'm grateful today for Dr. Peter Venkman.

"You're right, no human being would stack books like this."

20 November 2008

Make It So

Like attracts like. It's a trendy belief lately. At least it feels 'lately' to me. Some say it's been around for ages.

Like attracts like. This is a great thought.

It's the belief that gratitude attracts gratitude. Genuine attracts genuine. That if you have a happy, positive attitude, you will draw others with similar attitudes. I'd like to believe this. That what we dwell on is what we will draw to us, what will cross our path.

This is all a little bit airy and whimsical for some people. A bit lofty. Okay, well I admit for me as well, sometimes. Most times. I was born under a skeptical star. Whatever that sign is. I was born with my chubby little baby arms crossed across my baby bare chest and a cynical smirk on my pale face. "Prove it," were probably the first two words I strung together. And I was not kidding around, either.

I'm not here today to try to convince you of or dissuade you from this 'like attracts like' belief. But I will share this.....

A couple of days ago, I was thinking and then writing here about how much I love, LOVE 3x5 cards. This was not an exaggeration. I love them. I love the feel of them. I love the precious precision of them. I love what they stand for. I love that even though they used to only come in white, they now come on pink, blue, yellow, green. Pastels, neons. What's not to love.

I just wrote about it. That's all. Expressing my appreciation and gratitude for a shiny sliver of a shiny life.

Two days later I was doing my very predictable work of checking in library material that had been dropped in our book drop over night. It's a regular, rather mindless part of my job. I don't know what I was thinking about as I scanned and ordered returning items that day, when six 3x5 cards fell out of a book. Three lavender and three yellow. My breath caught in my throat.

Now it's a bit of an adventure, some of the items that get slipped into the pages of library books. And sometimes it is disappointing what people use to mark their place. But mostly it's fun and entertaining the things people substitute for book marks. Today I got a six of hearts. Made me smile.

Weeks will go by without any thing falling out of the pages of a library book. I got a lottery ticket once. Non-winner.

This week I spoke my gratitude for 3x5 cards and two days later I got more. Completely out of the blue. I love this system!

Today I'd like to say how thankful I am for independent wealth. Whoo hoo, stand back!

19 November 2008

Midnight Blues

Yesterday I read the blog post of a friend of mine. Her writing lately is spooky in it's familiarity. There are things she's written recently that could have come out of my own head, my own past. I really enjoyed the entire piece.

But my favorite parts were her words about ink and paper and stationary stores. I'm right there and wondering if in fact she and I were separated at birth.

I love school supplies, office supplies, desk accessories, stationary chotchkies.

I could spend all day leisurely browsing the rows of pens. I most love fountain pens, but also adore highlighters, Sharpies, old school Flairs.
I love mechanical pencils. Loaded with the sound of surplus leads stored inside.
And holy smokes, I love the smell of a new box of crayons. Most kids would sniff the permanent markers. I'd get high huffing the 64 Crayolas box.
I love plastic coated paperclips in all colors. I'm not so crazy about the butterfly clips but use them if they are pink or red.
I am an idiot for notebooks of lined paper, graph paper, pink paper, unlined too.
Post-it-notes cost their weight in gold but I indulge in those sometimes too.

I have secret stashes at my house, in case of an office supply emergency. Some are actually under lock and key. (Well, I have the key hidden away. Don't try to get it out of me.) If you ever find me passed out, wave a sharp, new magenta or red violet crayon under my nose and I'll come around.

I am thankful for office supplies. Hint, hint....

18 November 2008

*the sound a balloon makes as it flies backward across the room*

I'm at a bit of a loss today. Like I've bottomed out after a sugar rush. So I'm going to sprint straight for the gratitude stuff and skip the observational ramblings.

I'm thinking..... I'm thinking...... There's so much, I know there is. And yet nothing is coming to mind. I feel like I'm having a 'hurry up and wait' kind of day.

I'm grateful for energy and inspiration. Today it's the absence of these that make me appreciate them so much more.

17 November 2008

I'm writing this down. This is good stuff.

One of the best suggestions I've ever taken was 3 x 5 cards.

I've read many many books so far this lifetime and I'm often moved and inspired. I've read some grand and profound ideas or perspectives that have had warming affects on my spirit, my heart.

I've thought to myself "I'll always remember this,"

"This is such wisdom, I'll take this and apply it to my life,"

"These words are going to change the way I live...." and other such. I've written in the margins, I've made myself flash cards, I've repeated the new found wisdom to my family and friends. I was all in.

I can, in all honesty, say that none of these nuggets of sage advice took hold.
Except for one. 3x5 cards.

In the book Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott has some precious suggestions that I go back to, when I remember. ('Remember' being the key words here....)
Permission to write freely with 'Shitty First Drafts.'
Keep plugging away with 'Bird by Bird, buddy. Bird by Bird.'
And be careful the voices in your head with 'Kf'd Radio.'

It's a valuable book in my life. And (here's the rub) if I think about it, I can go back and extract any of these tools when I need them.

But the book wisdom, the precious gem she held out for me that I don't even have to think about in order to use is 3x5 cards. It is Anne Lamott's suggestion to keep note cards always handy. At the bed side, in one's purse, in the car. At the ready. I have a stack in my bathroom. Always have cards near because you never know when you'll be struck with the best idea you'll ever have.

Prior to 3x5s, I would be driving in my car on my way to this unimportant destination or that, and I'll have a brilliant, earth shattering thought. Some revolutionary, pivotal idea. And I know for a fact that there is no way in heaven I'll ever forget this. No way. This is so big, I couldn't forget. Impossible.

Minutes later when I arrive, or more likely, hours later when it occurs to me that there was something I needed to remember, I'd think 'Hmmm, what was that?' I won't necessarily even remember what kind of thing I was supposed to remember.
Was it call the dentist when I get home?
Was it check one of the kids' homework?
Was it pick up St. Patrick's Day gifts?
What was it I was supposed to remember? But it's all for nothing, because it's now long, long gone. *sniff, sniff* I hate when that happens.

Except it almost never happens anymore because I always have 3x5 cards with me. They are every where. I'll write down a title idea, or an interesting character's name, or a quote or dialogue blurb. I will hear a funny line and ask, "can I use that?" and write that down too. When I've temporarily run short of cards, I've written on the back of receipts, in the palm of my hand, on the due date sticker on the back of a library book.

When people ask "What book changed your life?" my answer is Bird by Bird. Maybe not in the 'moving to a monastery and shaving my head' type of life change, but a better kind. The kind of change that I was meant for all along. Treasuring my words, capturing my ideas, honoring my thoughts and taking nothing for granted.

It was this life changing advice and others like it that have helped me build up my "I'm a writer" confidence. My belief in my writing self.

I'm thankful for Bird By Bird.

I am thankful I am a 3x5 card carrying author.

16 November 2008

Glowing in the Dark

Today I travelled across the Narrows. I enjoy this on any day, but on some days more than most. This was one of those days. 'In town,' the weather was clear but cold. A few wispy clouds. Crisp autumn Sunday in Western Washington.

I rounded the sweeping corner as I approached the bridge and was caught off guard by an unexpected bank of fog. No one had said the 'F' word on the weather report this morning.

This was not a light fog. You know the sexy, misty kind where shapes and colors take on a make-believe, watercolor painting type quality. Kind of impressionistic.

This was a solid wall of fog. This fog glowed with the sun somewhere behind it. It was exciting and impressive. Especially considering that not one Seattle area weatherologist seemed to have a clue it was coming.

I loved heading straight into it. It felt daring. Halfway across the bridge I looked behind me and couldn't see the end I'd just crossed. I looked ahead and couldn't see the end I was about to cross. It was like the car was travelling across a floating section of magnificent, magical bridge. I wish I'd been standing at the rail instead of driving across. But even so, it was still amazing and energizing.

I love weather. Weather! Not lack of weather, mind you. As in boring, plain, clear-skied, nothing to look at kind of weather. Sorry, this is nothing personal. I completely respect any type of weather you might prefer. But for me? I'm so thankful for weather to be watched.

PS: I stand corrected. Apparently fog was mentioned in some news cast this morning and I missed it.

15 November 2008

Let Your Heart Be Light

I am in a strange and new Christmas state of mind. I spoke of this here, to a small extent, a few days ago.

Usually, I like to hold out until after Thanksgiving to listen to Christmas music or to start any red & green decorating. If you know me well, you laughed out loud at that understatement. In the past, I've been a bit of a fanatic about keeping Thanksgiving and Christmas separate.

It just always felt disrespectful of Thanksgiving that everyone seems to look ahead to the next holiday. Wasn't fair. I mean honestly people, eat dinner then sit around and read the Christmas ads for the sales the next day? Pretty insensitive to the 'now' of Thanksgiving.

Yet, this year I'm feeling no such compulsion to draw a solid line between the two. I trust Thanksgiving to be all good with me already listening to Christmas music, making red & green plans and thinking so many pretty Christmas thoughts before I've had even one bite of green bean casserole.

So for reasons that I do not understand, this year feels different. And therefore, is different. I'm finding it a little discombobulating. Whatever this feeling is, I like it and I'm looking forward to seeing how this Christmas goes.

I love the feeling of trust that I have about Christmas adventure and opportunity. I love that my heart is open to new, light and shiny red & green possibilities.

I do not know what's coming but that's part of the wonder of Christmas, isn't it? I'm all thankful for the wonder, aren't you? Wonder and all the twinkly lights.

14 November 2008

Happy Domino Day

I started this blog in February of 2007. It sprouted from a half day class offered to staff at the library. It was about web social sites. We were introduced to many types of sites. Blogging was one.

We were instructed to come to class with a topic we could write a few words about to start our own blog. The only experience I'd had with blogs before that day was in connection to the state 4A basketball play off games that my son's band played for. We didn't have cable and the game that night wasn't on the radio, so periodically through out the evening I logged onto a local paper's sports blog to get an update of the score. I pictured a young man sitting in the stands typing on his laptop every ten minutes or so. I certainly appreciated this thing called blog and could sense it's value for me in gathering obscure sports minutia. Frankly, I didn't see it's use beyond this. Of course I didn't really give it much thought.

Other than that first bare bones blog exposure, I'd no other frame of reference. The class was fun. We learned about flickr, librarything, facebook, youtube and many more I can no longer recall. Near the end of class we were to create and post one entry on our own personal blog. Hence, My Scarlet Letters.

I loved it instantly. I loved selecting the design, the colors, the attitude of my blog page. I wrote a short but profound couple of paragraphs for my 'Grand Opening.' My heart was happy and warm. I then clicked something and all those profound words of magic were gone. Not to be retrieved. I felt like water swirling down a drain. Stupid blog. Whose bright idea was this? Probably the same guy who came up with SUVs.

I started typing again but of course those pure-hearted virgin words were long gone. Plus I only had another three minutes to get something, anything, up and SAVE IT THIS TIME, genius. It wasn't at all the same but I got it done and left class pretty excited and telling everyone I passed in the hall that I had a new blog. Yea!

My first blog post was titled I Dream in Red. My second was Sand in My Clogs.

I haven't gone back and reread any entries in a very long time. I really love my blog. It feels like a building I've constructed. It feels good to look back and see the titles, the dates. I'm even good with the spaces between entries.

For the few days immediately following a new blog entry, I'll check my personal e-mail to see if there are any comments. Sometimes so, sometimes not. I'm good either way on most days. If I've posted something particularly personal or exposing in nature, I confess to being especially hopeful that there will be at least one comment. But for me, the blog is the reward, not the comments. I've evolved this way.

I've been posting a lot this month so when I checked my e-mail this week and there was a new comment, I wasn't surprised. Until I noticed that the title of the blog wasn't at all what I expected. Instead of a blog comment on Daily Bread or Back-off Man, I'm a Scientist, it was a comment on Sand in my Clogs. My second post. Dated February 2007. How odd. I went back and read the comment. I didn't recognize the commentator's 'name' so I clicked on it to see where it would lead. Pretty much no where.

Mysteries like this can swim in my head for a couple of days. Did someone google the words 'sand' and 'clogs' in a blog search and this is one of the results they got? Were they looking for something specific and ran across my blog accidentally? Were they leaving bits of bait in numerous blogs hoping for nibbles for one reason or another? My imagination travels many trails. Or more like, barks up and down and around many trees. Maybe it's someone...... See? See how my head can run with possibilities? I'll stop now because it doesn't really matter, such details.

Whatever the reason this comment came about, what matters is the ripple effect that it helped cause. Me going back and reading through some of those very early, innocent, sweet and purely Barbie posts. It was wonderful and a bit melancholy. I miss the tones of those first posts. The pure optimism. The endless potential. I confess to not exactly feeling that, lately. I do not want to dwell on this but the words that come to mind about the state of things lately would be struggling, striving, stumbling, stuck. Instead I would like to request revival, renewal, re-energized and regroup. I need rebirth, refresh. I should invent a t-shirt with the logo of the refresh icon printed on the front.

I'm thankful for capricious comments that impact my insight, instigate my inspiration.
Re-ignition. Rebirth. Rebarbie.

I'm also all absolute appreciation for alliteration. (See, crazy left brain writing can be fun sometimes too....)

13 November 2008

Missed it by that much

My daughter wasn't feeling very well this evening. We layed down to watch Get Smart together. Unfortunately not nearly as funny as I'd hoped.
Bruce and Lloyd were my favorite parts. "Frickin' agents, man."

I'm not in the movie review business, but save your money. Skip it. Even though I remember the actual Get Smart television show, I still found this movie just not that funny. If you insist on watching it, check it out for FREE from your local libray or wait until it comes out on cable.
And whatever you do, do NOT get it for me for Christmas. Don't you do it!

Regardless of the inferiority of any movie,
I am eternally grateful for a seventeen year old daughter,
who still loves watching movies with me.

I am a lucky, lucky mom. And my daughter is pretty lucky herself.

12 November 2008

The chipmunks genuflect to me...

There's this thing that happens. Something I passionately want to write about will mean so much to me that I will not settle for less than my very best.

Then, as it turns out, life will not permit the time and energy it takes to do my best. I'd have to schedule vacation time from work. I'd need to send my family or myself away into isolation to really get it done perfectly. I'd require the ability to put the rest of the world in temporary stasis. (Man, I wish. Wouldn't that be sweet?)

But instead of acknowledging that 'perfect' is simply not going to happen and admitting that I can live with 'really good' instead, I hold out for the impossible and it never gets done at all.

My ridiculously high expectations shoot me right in the foot. Keep in mind that my feet are my best feature, so this is no small act of self-destruction.

I had such high expectations for my blog post for yesterday. Veterans Day. There was so much I wanted to say. And I wanted to say it so well. I kept starting, then pausing. I'd come back to it, start again, than get discouraged and stop again. I simply could not do a good enough job. At least by my own standards.

Then in the end, I have nothing written for Veterans Day and I feel defeat at my own hand. There is a post for yesterday but it is nothing compared to the piece I was aiming for. And as an added bonus, I end up days behind in my attempt to write at least a little bit here each day of November. The accumulative effect is that I am not feeling a very strong spirit of gratitude in any area at all.

There's probably a pretty important lesson in this. But my current self pity might be preventing me from seeing it.

In spite of this, however. . . . . .

. . . . .I am grateful for The Wizard of Oz. There is magic in this movie. I'm a great fan of the Ruby Slippers.

The quotes and songs from Munchkinland are my favorites but I love them all

The wicked old witch at last is dead.

I'll get you, my pretty.

You have no power here! Now begone, before somebody drops a house on you!

You, my friend, are a victim of disorganized thinking.

Poppies, poppies.

I am Dorothy, the small and meek.

I thoroughly examined her, She's not only merely dead , She's really most sincerely dead.

How about a hippopotamus? Why, I'd thrash him from top to bottomus!

My dear, you didn't need the Ruby Slippers. You've always had the power within you.

I am always ever grateful for The Wizard of Oz. Now I'm much more in the state of mind to go back and look for that lesson.

11 November 2008

Veterans Day Nov 11

When it comes to Veterans Day, I have so much to say I can't say anything at all.

As we express our gratitude, we must never forget that the highest appreciation is not to utter words, but to live by them.
~John Fitzgerald Kennedy

If you did anything specific in honor of Veterans Day this week, I'd love to hear about it.

Thank you to the veterans and active duty military of this country. My gratitude is greater than I can express.

10 November 2008

Dapper Dan Pomade

I am not providing a bonafide blog here for today. Instead I wrote and posted a blog for the staff web site of our library system. So I'm going to call that good for today's offering.

I'm thankful that I'm a girl.

I'm thankful for the amazing and varied girls I have in my life.

I am very lucky and eternally grateful.

09 November 2008

Sunday Morning

I mostly just skim the surface of blogging potential here. I do not have videos, scrolling lists and other bells and whistles that you may find on other blogs, if you were to dare go look at anyone else's blog besides mine.

I'm perfectly fine with this. In fact, besides the fact that I have no idea how to do most of those extras, I like it this way.

I have also never included a link in my blog. Mostly because I'm not sure about the etiquette about such things. But not many read here, so etiquette be damned.

This morning I woke up and watched Sunday Morning before I got up for my first cup. I've had Veterans Day on my mind for the last few days. I did a bit of writing about it yesterday. And in their predictable timely fashion there was a segment on the Sunday Morning show that really touched me. I won't go into the details but I will include a link here. It is my hope you'll take a moment and not only read the story but watch the video.


Today I'm thankful for the private citizens responsible for this expression of gratitude, for this CBS Morning Show segment and for reporter Seth Doane. It's sad to me that evidence of appreciation as this story shows is the exception in our country instead of the rule. My saying thank you to a veteran may never seem like enough, but it's a good place to start.

Thank you and Happy Veterans Day.

08 November 2008

Non-Partisan Gratitude

Okay, I know I've said in a previous blog post that it isn't the thought that counts. But if you are going to be scrolling back to use my words against me, we're gonna need to have a talk. Because just so you know, I always reserve the right to completely contradict myself at will. And I also reserve the right to look you straight in the face after you've called me out and say "I don't know what you're talking about."

It was my intent, my thought to write here about Veteran's Day. And in fact I did manage to get a good number of words out and in a relatively orderly manner but the thought, once in the light of day, took an unexpected direction that I didn't foresee and I'm not going to be able to use it here today. Maybe, hopefully another day.

In the name of Veteran's Day and in honor of what it represents, I do not want to send words out into the universe with any inflammatory or controversial opinions that would detract from the spirit of the day. The strong feelings that began to come out unexpectedly as I typed earlier were not about whether we should be at war or not. It wasn't about the rightness or wrongness of any previous wars. It was about the way our veterans are treated stateside. I cannot talk about that here today.

What I will say is that I think you,

yes YOU,

should make a point of thanking a veteran this week. I'm not asking you, I'm telling you, and it's my blog so I can do what I want.

Here is your Barbie's Blog Prime Directive:

Shake a veteran's hand. Say "Happy Veteran's Day" if you don't know what else to say.

Last year right around Veteran's Day, I stopped a former soldier on his way out of the library, offered my hand and said that I wanted to thank him for serving in our country's military. He was visibly grateful. He said no one else had mentioned it at all. I took no personal pride in this fact but only felt intense sadness on behalf of this veteran and so many like him.

This year I will shake more than one hand. I'm going to see how many I can shake. It can be awkward, I admit. I started while I was out shopping two days ago. Stopping a stranger you pass in a grocery store parking lot can feel odd. I don't care. If you are about to pass a service person in uniform say "Happy Veteran's Day." It will brighten two people's day.

If you don't say it, they may not hear it at all.

This is not just a day off from my work at the library. Or a day to sleep in for my high school daughter. This day is in honor of an entire population within the American society, most of which I suspect do not hear 'Thank you!' enough.

Regardless of your feelings about our current wars and the administration who lead our county into them, honor our soldiers. Shake a hand.

Today I'm so grateful that I am learning the intense, priceless benefits we reap from the opportunity to express our appreciation. I didn't always understand this.

It is my privilege to thank a veteran, and really the very least I can do.

You try it and let me know how it goes.

07 November 2008

Back off, man. I'm a scientist...

Okay let me just say that I'm feeling literary dehydration today. I spent a hectic day hunting and gathering. It was, of course, physically exhausting, but also quite intellectually exhausting.

Usually through out my day, I'll start plotting the direction my 'pen' will take later in the day. As I proceed, the idea will grow to the point that when I sit down to write I've got a pretty good start in my head.

Today? Not so much.

I remember thinking a couple of times as I drove from one store to the next, 'it's going to be so nice to get home, get comfortable and get a chance to get some writing done.' I got home, I got comfortable. I sat down with my laptop on my lap and it occurred to me, I had not prepared to write. Mentally prepared. I had not germinated a single writing thought today. Well, that's not exactly true. I did do some thinking for a blog a few days from now, but it's a timely thing and does me no good today. But rest assured I am totally ready for at least one day next week....

Today.... I'm thankful.
I'm sitting on my bed, listening to the rain drops hit the plants and rocks outside my open windows. My wind chimes just barely tinkle in the night. My computer glows on my lap and I'm about to go so I can Google a recipe for blue punch.

Live is good.

06 November 2008

Winds Day

One of my library patrons came up to me today and grumbled in her best library-respectful tone, "Well you got your weather. I hope you're happy."

I am.....thank you.

05 November 2008

Ballot 101

Before I get to the good stuff, I have a quick question:
I want to get something straight.

A convicted felon cannot vote, but a convicted felon can run for political office?

One of my very loyal library patrons was convicted of burglary ten years ago. He is now, for all purposes, a single father trying very hard to raise a two year old that has a energy level similar to the Tasmanian Devil from the old school Looney Tune cartoons. Sometimes this kid moves so fast, you can't see him. Tuesday I asked this father if he voted yet. "No, I lost my voting rights." I asked him how long that was for. He said forever. Well, okay. It is what it is, I guess. I had forgotten this price to be paid for a felony conviction but if this is a consequence, so be it.
But unless I'm mistaken, and set me straight if I am, there's a man running for senator in Alaska who was recently convicted of seven (SEVEN!) felonies. I say 'running' because last I heard the race was too close to call. I actually find myself speechless in face of this ridiculous reality. Sometimes we really suck.

Better stuff........:

I have three children: Two boys, neither of whom is registered to vote. And my daughter, who is not yet old enough.

When I learned the boys don't vote, I admit I chewed on them a little bit. I let it be known that I thought this was wrong and what were they going to do about it right now! as only a mother can.

Since then, it occurred to me, I never taught them.

I never thought to teach them, offer to go with them, get them a voter's registration and show them my absentee ballot. Or, Genius, *head slap* take them with me when I voted in person. Take them by their little hands, back when their hands were still little, and let them walk with me into their local elementary school and watch me vote. I do not know how I missed this.

Now I know they are perfectly capable and behave in an adult manner on most days, so they could have done this on their own. Most do. But why wouldn't I want to be part of this, show them. It would have been a great memory for me, and hopefully for them as well. It would have been my privilege and I missed the opportunity.

Parenting is indescribably and impossibly impossible but there are some amazing things we are privileged to teach these innocent victims: Walking, bike riding, proper potty practices, Lego sorting, cooking, Zelda on Gameboy, shoe matching and voting.

I'm sure at some point in school, they were taught about bills, laws, senators, judges and government type facts that also included how we, as American citizens, get to vote for our leaders, as opposed to having them thrust upon us, (in theory). Yet as far as I know, there was no practical lesson or demonstration on how to place one's vote.

When I got home today, my daughter needed to use my computer to do homework. She sat next to me working, typing away. We had some light political talk in between the sentences of her creative writing assignment.

Then out of the blue, at least from her perspective, I declared,

"When you turn eighteen, I'm getting you a voter's registration."

It probably sounded like an ominous parental threat. "And I'll help you fill it out. I am totally goin' with you the first time you vote."

She looked at me blankly waiting for the point. I explained, "I think your brothers don't vote because they don't know how it works and they won't admit it." And like the great daughter that she is, she completely agreed with me. "Exactly." Just what I needed to hear.
Hmmm, that's odd. I wonder what she wants......kidding.

"I should have taken them with me when I voted."

"You took me," she said.

"I did not!" I said, in all astonishment. "How old were you?"

"I was pretty little. All I remember is we went into some kind of booth."

Yea! Hurray me. Score one for the mom. One out of three, could be worse. In baseball I would be batting 300. Now I don't exactly remember this event so I can't actually claim the memory. But she can.

Here's what I think, in case you were wondering:

I propose that schools should teach voting. Maybe they already do, but I don't think so. I believe it should be a requirement in their junior year of school. They should set up a mock polling place that looks exactly like they could likely expect the next year when they turn eighteen. With faux election volunteers staffing the room, as they actually do on Election Day. They should learn how to step up to the table and 'sign in.' They could see the different voting methods: paper ballot, touch screen, absentee, chad punching and any others I've left out. They could see voter's registration cards. They could 'pretend vote,' then turn in their completed ballots and watch how the counting happens. They'd get a sticker that says "I fake voted."

Imagine the generation of registered, educated and confident voters that could be produced. I wonder how many people in our country don't vote because they simply don't know how and are embarrassed to ask. I suspect it's significant.

My daughter turns eighteen in a few months. I am going to wrap up a voter's registration and put it among her gifts. Happy Birthday to you.

Then I'm giving one to each of her brothers.

What am I thankful for today, November 5th, 2008?

I'm thankful for the two men I saw on the side of the road, on my way to work, removing political signs. The bed of their full size truck was completely crammed with signs and sticks. I wish I'd stopped and thanked them. I should have. But for whatever it's worth here, Thank you so much. I'm grateful and impressed.

04 November 2008

My name is Barbie and I approved this message...

Okay before I get to the good stuff, a couple of 2008 Election Day wishful thoughts... or should I get a petition going and maybe get them on the next ballot as initiatives, or would they be propositions, or referendums? Prepositions? Amendments?

  1. If a voter votes by absentee ballot (which I totally do) , said voter (me) should no longer be subjected to nor inundated by political commercials and roadside campaign signs of any kind, effective immediately from the moment their ballot is dropped off. In this hypothetically closer-to-perfect world, if I mail in my ballot two weeks before the actual Election Day, by some miracle of technology my television would no longer televise any political commercials. Interviews, debates and sound bites could also go away, as far as I'm concerned. If you choose to have signage in your own yard, I am not opposed. But every linear inch of road side would be wiped magically clean between my home and where ever I choose to go. I'm pretty sure this technology already exists but there's no profit in it so it goes the way of (until recently) the electric car and solar panels, as far as marketing and public availability goes.
  2. And another thing, there should only be one channel on tv that is permitted to televise political commercials. And yes, I'm aware that this would negate the need for the proposed Proposition #1 described above, but I'm just sayin'. If there were only one channel designated for the marketing of political views, people would be free to spend as much of their precious time viewing these entirely useless electronic forms of human regression and degradation but those of us who could live quite happily without, would be free to do so. Instead of the current 'system' of thinly veiled imprisonment and torture that I'm feeling now. Free choice. That can't be a bad thing, right? Choose to subject yourself to the lowest and most common practice of elevating ones self by tearing someone else down. Or not. Up to you.

Today is the best election day I have ever had. And the reason might not be what you think.

I work at a library. It is a very small, personal, intimate library. One of my patrons is a teen mother. Brave, strong, smart, tired Mom is nineteen years old. Amazing, adorable, library loving, genius Daughter is two years old. Mom and I talk often and have really grown to appreciate each other. I look forward to her almost-daily library visits.

When I got to work today, she was in the parking lot by her car. We exchanged smiles and 'hello's. She said she had been to the election polling place that is in the community center building that houses our library branch. She looked crest fallen and said she had gone in thinking she could vote. She didn't know you had to register a head of time. She mistakenly thought she could register there, then vote. Now I have been voting for a few presidential elections, and it was hard to imagine her not knowing this. But she didn't. (And frankly I probably didn't understand such voting details until I started the process, myself.)

She said she felt stupid for not knowing and standing there in that line thinking she could vote today. I felt terrible for her and wanted to walk into the polling place and demand she be allowed to vote. Sensing a certain amount of futility in this fantasy, and wanting to preserve my own right to vote in all future elections, I refrained.

Much, much earlier in the day, before the polls were open in my time zone, in a news report about some of the ballot problems they had last election, I heard the term 'provisional ballot.' I didn't know what this meant at the time but from the context of the news story I surmised that it was a ballot you could use but would not count until your address and such were verified. Thinking this might be the case, I suggested we walk over to the polling place and see what we could find out. There were five people ahead of us. We waited. I held her two year old child in my arms. We watched the voters.

It was the proverbial range. Old, young. Large, small. Dark, light. Bathed and not. There were several people in military uniform. Some that appeared to be health care workers. All reading their voter's pamphlets, marking their ballots. It was very solemn and respectful. Yet at the same time, shiny and energizing. Fresh airy. The woman behind the table we stepped up to, explained (and don't quote me here) that a provisional ballot is for use in the event that your name is not on their voter 'roll.' And she indicated the ream of paper before her with names and addresses of those voters assigned to this polling place. But that you did in fact have to be registered somewhere, but maybe were just not able to get to your own polling place.

It was a sad moment for me, for Mom and for the woman explaining. My sweet, well-intentioned patron would not be allowed to vote today.

We started to walk away, when I turned back. I asked if she could at least register today. An emphatic 'YES' was the answer. The woman retrieved a voter's registration and we left to make room for the people behind us in line. The day could have remained a disappointment for this Mom, but together we decided that we should celebrate this historic Election Day by getting her registered for the next one.

She came into my work room. I played with the darling Daughter while the evolving Mom filled out her registration. She had to run outside for her driver's license. I took her picture filling in the blanks. We walked back over to the polls and they happily took her registration. The woman handled this registration with the same care and respect that she handled the ballots. She made sure Mom had signed in the proper place and said she'd receive her voter's card in the mail, shortly.

We went back to the library and I proclaimed her accomplishment, quite vocally. I literally patted her on the back. "You should be very proud of yourself. Good for you. I'm so proud of you." She hung with me in the back room for a while after, with some questions about today's election and voting in general. I took out my absentee ballot (that I dropped off at the polling place just moments ago...) and showed her what it looked like. What the secrecy envelope looked like. Together we looked through a voter's pamphlet. She wanted to know how soon we would know the election results. I said at the next election, I'd go with her to cast her vote, so she wouldn't feel nervous if she didn't know how it all worked.

"So I'll be a democrat, right?" she asked me, when it was almost time for her to head off to her job at the fast food place down the road, making minimum.

"You can be what ever you want to be," I said. "It's up to you."

She said, in complete sincerity, "I thought you had to be rich to be a republican."

I love this girl. I do. I love that she trusted me enough to ask a question that she might not feel safe asking other people, afraid of looking stupid. I love that she believed I would treat her with respect and courtesy, in her pursuit of information. I love that I got to be with her through her registration experience. I explained in the most non-partisan and empowering manner I could, how she gets to decide to which party she will belong and in fact, she gets to decide if she joins one at all.

It was far and away that best part of my day. Even better than actually voting myself. I loved looking at the whole day through her inexperienced and eager view. I loved telling her with watery eyes, that which ever way the election went today, one of two things was about to happen. Either a black man was about to be elected our nation's president. Or a woman was about to be elected our vice-president. I feel prehistoric. How often do we get to watch an historic moment approach like this? I am living through a moment in time that will be the test question on future middle school exams. I will never forget this year. My mind will quite effectively erase the hard feelings I could hold on to, about all the political double speak and slinging of crap and I will be left with a singular sense of gratitude that I was alive today.

November 4, 2008

03 November 2008

Daily Bread

Today I'm thankful.

I am grateful for food that requires work.

Steamed artichokes. Crab legs.

I love food that takes two hands and one's full attention.

Grapefruit. Steamed mussels.

I love when my food is of the 'some assembly required' variety.

Fajitas. Nachos.

Eating nachos might not be a choreographed experience for some people. But I can tell you, if the only way you know how to eat nachos is so that there's a little bit of each & every topping represented on each & every single chip, that takes some serious concentration and skill, if I do say so myself. *Blowing on, then shining my nails on my shirt*

There are so many things in life that we can accomplish quite mindlessly. This is a shame. I try to make sure that the food I eat is not one of them.

I have profound appreciation for food that takes coordination and deliberation.


I love dipping and scooping.

Chips and crackers and torn chunks of exceptional bread.

I hate when I'm preoccupied while I'm eating and the next thing I know, I look down and my meal is done.

I want to savor, enjoy, relish my meals. I appreciate it so much more when it is a very personal and intentional experience.


I can't pull this off every time, of course.... McFries and a Coke..... but when I can, I'm much more satisfied at the end of the meal.

I feel fuller, happier. Satiated. Food sustains me, it propels me and nourishes my spirit.

For this I am thankful. (And now quite hungry...)

02 November 2008

Live Long and Prosper

It's November 2, 2008 and I'm thankful.

Today I'm feeling warm and fuzzy appreciation for the falling back that occurred last night while I slept.

This past week in anticipation of the nation's return to Standard Time, there was a 'news' story that people seem to have less heart attacks the Monday after the turning back of the clocks. The thinking is just that one hour of sleep makes us more heart healthy. This could be, but I'm thinking something else.

I don't know about you, but I don't actually end up getting an extra hour of sleep. Somewhere deep in the dark, quiet places of my brain that I'm not in direct contact with, I 'know' there is an extra hour. So what ends up happening pretty much every year is that I don't actually get an extra hour of sleep, those sixty minutes just get absorbed in my evening or the next morning.

Kind of like time afloat.

In spite of this, I still actually feel the extra hour. The morning after the time switch, I feel less groggy. I wake up more fully, more quickly. I don't seem to have that non-alcohol hangover from daily stress and the progressive build-up of non-rest.

My spirit feels the extra hour somehow and it's good.

For this I'm thankful....

01 November 2008

I've won a major prize.....

The most wonderful time of the year is cresting on the retail horizon.

Well, in the name of fairness, maybe not so much this year as much as some previous, but I'm okay with that.

In fact, I might be revelling in this fact.

I personally think that the time honored tradition of Retail - Advertising - Sunday circular - 'Hottest item in low supply (hmmm, curiously enough, year after year....)' - "Friday after Thanksgiving 4:30 a.m. or you're completely screwed" shopping line with free donut holes for the first six customers - Cabbage Patch doll and Wii scarcity hives could use a little pendulum reality swing way the other way in 2008.

Fa la la la la, la la la la.

I'm ready for a season of giving, but not of the old school WalMart price slashing version.

And I'm starting my holiday merriment early this year. Early in terms of my own standards, not the standards of Macy's or Target, both of which probably started decking their mall halls back in June.

Historically, I love the holiday season. Some years my heart is more into it than others, but over the curve of my life, on average Christmas and the five or six weeks preceding are my favorite.

I love the songs. I love the colors. I love the lights. I especially love the lights. I love the planning and shopping for that uniquely perfect gift that people can't believe I found or remembered. I love wrapping presents, drinking hot cocoa with Schnapps and watching The Christmas Story alone in the house. "You'll shoot your eye out!"

I love the traditions. In our family, the new yearly ornaments for each off spring to help begin their own collection with their own new families. Cookie Christmas, with outrageous cookie decorating designs, some appropriate for all audiences and some not. Hot, spiced apple cider. Stocking stuffing.

I could go on, and you know me, I will at some point.

But for now. I'll leave you with what I know today.

I'm grateful.

November 1, 2008 I'm grateful. I am thankful for the clarity that this Christmas will be different. Meaningful. Thank goodness the economic shift has brought to my mind the intent to unplug from the retail Christmas machine. I'm not saying I'll buy nothing. I'm not saying the gifts I give will not be wrapped in pretty, shiny gift wrap. But I am saying it will be remarkably and drastically different from years past. I am determined to think outside the marketing box.

And I suggest you give this some thought yourself. Think of ways to untangle your thinking of what Christmas is all about, Charlie Brown. Disengage the sales and the specials insert from your central nervous system. Consider not putting so much of your life energy and economic investment into financial aspects of giving. Give of yourself in other ways. Ways of loving, of celebration. See how special you can make your loved ones feel this Christmas with your words, with your appreciation, with your support and encouragement.

Invest in the people you love, not the people who own Sears.