Keep it simple

Gosh, it has become so hard to stay fit, eat healthy, write. To enjoy life. What is up with that?

Is it a ‘coming of age’ thing? I mean, in my 20s and 30s, I had time for working, cooking, eating, playing, fitness, raising a child – plus sleep! I have a distant memory of good sleep.

These days, the only kids at home are furry with four legs (dogs, Kooper and Lexi). Hubby and I both try to work out. I rarely sleep well so I’m always tired, which makes it hard to put in the necessary level of effort into a good, effective workout. Now I long for a solid four hours of sleep. Eight hours is fantasy.

Somewhat recently, despite the years of wisdom I should have gained before now, I recognize that I tend to over-complicate things. For example, I may find a menu plan or workout that seems like it would work for us.

But wait! If I tweak here and adjust there, it will be that much better. Most of the time, I just make it harder to execute and I overwhelm myself. Even then, my Type A-Virgo-oldest child tendencies come through and I won’t give up. I keep at it to perfect it, because it must of course be perfect if it’s mine to do.

Thankfully, I recognized that about myself over the last year. I began to call myself on it when I start to “Linda-ize” something. Mostly.

My husband is one of the people in my life who see things in me that don’t see in myself. He sees beautiful and brilliant, while I question everything about myself. Constantly.

Several years ago, early in our marriage, he gave me a book called, Meditations for Women Who do too Much. I looked at it then and tucked it away on a bookshelf.

Until recently as I acknowledged the complexity I have added to my life, I didn’t enjoy my life right now. I often feel like the hamster on the proverbial wheel. Run, run, run and get nowhere. Twenty years ago, that was not true. Where did I take a wrong turn?

As I read the next day’s meditation each night, I learn that my behavior is addictive, destructive and harmful – to me. If I don’t care first for myself, harmful to those who matter in my life because I have less to offer them.

It’s a process, a bit of journey. While I must travel quickly through it (I’m in my 50s now), I must not Linda-ize it. The first step is to give myself the time for reflection and meditation. To get off the wheel, recalibrate to define my life and life the life that fits me.

It does not mean major changes. My life is good. I just let myself strip it of time for the activities and goals that matter to me – that fulfill me. No more.pooches

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Published in: on August 19, 2017 at 3:24 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Skate on

MyOriginalSkatesIt’s silly, of course, to attach to things. To stuff. It is just stuff, most of which I can replace. Yet, I think we each have possessions that hold deep sentimental value. Something that belonged to a loved one who is gone. Memorabilia from a treasured trip or vacation. In my case right now, it’s something that helped me grow and find confidence at the difficult age of 14 when I thought life couldn’t get any worse.

My parents divorced, before it was in vogue. Mom moved herself and her three children to North Dakota, where she (and he) are from, more than 1,000 miles from my home and my friends.

As in awkward young teen, it all embarrassed me. I wanted to hide in a ND snowbank and maybe come out nine months later after it melted.

Lucky for me, some people my age were wise beyond their years. Kimm Hollyman was one of them. Despite my best efforts to decline her invitations, she stayed at work to befriend me.

When she invited me to go ice skating, I wondered how I would ever survive there. I came from southern Indiana. We roller-skated there, not ice-skated.

In a moment of wise parenting, my mom encouraged me to go.

“I don’t have skates,” I refuted.

“I bet mine will fit you.”

And she was right. Off I went to an outdoor rink, shy and scared silly. Kimm, my polar opposite, made sure I had fun and met people. As far as I remember, I quickly ‘got’ how to ice skate.

I loved it and soon scraped together $16 (or about that) and bought my own skates at K-Mart. Those inexpensive skates survived a couple of decades and many hours of skating.

It’s a bit ironic that they finally fell apart (one anyway) on a small ice rink in Tallahassee, Florida, early this year. They were great skates, perfect for a simple skater like me.

Last week, I visited family in ND and I bought a new pair of skates. If you consider inflation, they may be even cheaper than my $16 pair. They are beautiful and I will love skating on them, too.

Still, a tiny piece of my heart went out to the trash with my first, special pair of skates. My memories, however, stay with me and the gratitude for Kimm and her strength at a young age.

Published in: on August 15, 2017 at 12:10 am  Leave a Comment  
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Tiny home, tiny chores?

Grocery shopping and dusting furniture. Two of my least favorite household chores. I can’t think of anyone I know who likes to dust. Some may like their grocery store trips.

I decided that all moms, at least of a certain era, also detested dusting so they inevitably tasked their eldest daughters with the chore. That was me and even as a child, it didn’t take long for me to grow weary of the thankless task.

Don’t get me wrong. I like a clean house. I know clean houses smell better and while dust on furniture may seem innocuous, there’s a smell.

DustingYears ago, I was on a bent to clear my house of clutter, also known as decoration. I wanted furniture with clean lines – no fancy spindles for me. I was after anything I could find to ease my pain over this task. I succeeded for a while.

Grocery shopping is just as painful, and perhaps also due to how long I’ve had these responsibilities. I try all the tricks to improve the grocery store trips. I try to plan the upcoming week’s menu – including lunch, and lunch and breakfast for the weekend – and I always use a list. I use the store’s weekly sales circular to help the budget and somewhat plan the menu around what’s on sale. That can also mean what’s in season, which the pros like to use in their meals. Still, if I have a week where for some reason I don’t need to make a shopping trip, it is like a mini-vacation.

As a child, fortunate and blessed to live in spacious rooms, I always thought it would be perfect to live in a studio apartment. As a gifted organizer, I knew I could make it work.

In the current “tiny home” craze across the US, I believe I’m ready for a tiny home. So much less to dust and meals would have to be simpler. A win-win, it appears. I would free up so much time that I could dedicate to my writing or just some R&R.

As an aside, tiny home to me means a cottage (maybe like this) where I have a bedroom that is not a shelf. As I watch the TV shows, I feel claustrophobia as I watch people crawl into those ‘loft’ sleeping spaces. I would not be able to breathe, let alone sleep.

This seems to be the answer to my fading sense of responsibility. God willing, I have lots of years left to grocery shop, cook and dust. A tiny home would make those years easier in lots of ways.

Published in: on July 30, 2017 at 5:42 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Reuben Style Hawaiian Slider Sandwiches

I know I would love these!

What's for Dinner Moms?

Reuben Style Hawaiian Slider Sandwiches

I was shopping for a few items the other day and I saw a package of the Kings Hawaiian Rolls my kids love so much on the shelf. But, then I saw hot dog and hamburger rolls next to them! Did you hear the heavens open up and start singing? We love these rolls and now we have the hot dog and hamburger rolls here, amazing! I can’t wait until they get the loaves of bread too! I am already brainstorming what to make with them.

About a three weeks or ago I made these sliders with the traditional ham and cheese that everyone does. (Click for link to original recipe.) At that time I was already thinking ahead to ways to change up these sandwiches. Around St. Patrick’s Day corned beef is on sale and I stock up on them because that tends to be the only time…

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Published in: on July 23, 2017 at 11:32 pm  Leave a Comment  

Push the Pause Button: How to Stay Calm in Chaos

Helpful advice – and important.

The OM Project

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“These mountains you are carrying you were only meant to climb.”

The recent election has left many people across our country in a state of panic and confusion. So many all around the globe are boggled and horrified that millions were swayed to vote for a man that lies incessantly via Twitter and intends to, all too literally, hand our country over to oil companies – at a time when the bulk of scientists have warned us of the great dangers of oil consumption. It’s bizarre. Streams of images from Aleppo flood across newsfeeds, and aching hearts full of fear and grief feel too much.

This is not a time to be broken, though. Empathy is what makes us human; it bonds us together. However, the moment it becomes too much to bear, the sadness is crippling. This is true for global issues as well as personal ones. Knowing how to return to…

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Published in: on July 23, 2017 at 11:24 pm  Leave a Comment  

Recipes and Books

This is not generational – an ‘age’ thing. I was in my 20s when technology began to emerge as a part of daily life. Thirty years later, I love technology and the efficiencies it creates.

In a single device, some of them somewhat smaller than my hand, I have access to infinite amounts of information, music, news and books, updates from my friends and family … the world. How great is that and how efficient. I love that!

Still, there are aspects I find less than efficient, if you will. For example, when someone has a book in her hand, I can see the spine and the book title and even begin a conversation about it. It inspires bonding moments.

When someone has an e-reader (of whatever format) in his hand, unless I rudely peer over his shoulder, I cannot know his book choice is. As a reader, I find that sad and it keeps a distance between us humans that is unnecessary.

Pinterest is another example. On that single device, I have in one place what I used to amass in various manila file folders or piles of paper around my office. Clippings from magazines with fashion or decorating ideas, quotes I like, humorous columns or cartoons. And recipes. Endless recipes.

On Pinterest, this online file cabinet/bulletin board, I can collect and collect and collect. With abandon. To my own detriment because that results from hours of Pinterest surfing.

It has zillions of recipes. Yet, when I want to actually make the recipe I ‘pinned’ earlier, I often swear and growl at Pinterest. Most times, I just cannot find the recipe.

If it’s a cauliflower dish, I know I pinned it to either my Cookin’ Cauliflower or Cookin’ Vegetarian board. That’s obvious. Yet, often, I cannot find the recipe I want.

Sometimes, I find the pin and I click through to discover that the website, and therefore the recipe, is gone. Growl, cuss …

My old-fashioned and beloved recipe binder still serves me best and gives me the most efficiency. Some of the handwritten recipes in my collection are in my grandmother or mother’s handwriting. The family doughnut recipe is in Mom’s writing with a note that it was her grandmother’s recipe. A small piece of them all remains with me.

 

I know right where to find Grandma’s potato soup recipe or Mom’s spaghetti sauce recipe. I can turn right to them in seconds, which is not my usual Pinterest experience.

I think I’ll continue to use both and when I finally try a recipe that I pinned earlier, if it’s a keeper for our family, I’ll add a handwritten recipe card to my binder. (And if it’s not, I’ll try to remember to delete the pin.)DoughnutRecipe

Published in: on July 23, 2017 at 9:14 pm  Leave a Comment  
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When my Mother’s Days began

Then, 34 years ago, we didn’t know yet if the

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Three generations of Mother’s Day.

unborn baby was boy or girl. I still wouldn’t want to know. I think God intended it to be a surprise – a fun surprise. Or, maybe I’m just old-fashioned. Whether you know or not, what a thing it is to make a life, to deliver a baby from my body.

I’ll always remember the feeling of carrying a baby within my being. I missed it for a long while after she was born. In those first few weeks, when she still fit in the same spot, only on the outside of me, it was joy to hold her like that, to cuddle and rock her.

It gave us quiet time. I don’t remember that she ever cried or fussed in those moments. And Lord knows, she was a fussy baby!

It didn’t matter of course – moms just want their babies to be content, healthy and safe. Their crying, oh especially that newborn cry, is heartbreaking, and makes it nearly impossible when they’re so little to just let them cry.

I have a dear friend, closer to my daughter’s age than mine, who had her first baby, a sweet baby girl, earlier this month. She is reveling in the awe of love and emotions that overwhelm you and instantly change your entire life as soon as you hold that tiny miracle.

My own baby girl and her husband are trying these days. I pray they, too, get to experience this love. Parenting is not for the faint of heart. Babies got nothing on teenagers and young adult children when it comes to testing parents.

In most cases though we all come through it, together, stronger and better on the other side. My Sarah and I are there now and I’m ready and happy to become a Grandma. In part because I know she’s ready and her life is ready. She and her hubby will bless their baby (babies?) with boundless love and strong parenting.

Happy Mother’s Day to all moms (new and seasoned), moms-to-be and moms-in-waiting.

Published in: on May 13, 2017 at 7:04 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Travel with the furry kids

Here’s the deal. We are pet owners and we are ‘those’ pet owners. We take our two dogs with us most of the time when we travel if at all possible.pooches

Thankfully more and more hotels are pet-friendly. Most have fees that run from a single $25 fee to $50 per night per pet.

Two things to watch out for if, like us, you want to travel with your furry babies.

  1. Ask if ‘pet-friendly’ means you cannot leave your pet unattended in the hotel room for more than 30 minutes. Believe it or not, we have seen more than one hotel that considers that pet-friendly. Yes, I travel to your city so I can sit in my hotel room with the dogs. Seriously?
  2. Don’t overpay on pet fees. Someone with a 80-pound dog will pay the same pet fee as the next person’s three 20-pound dogs that still don’t weigh 80 pounds. Talk with the hotel to ask for an exception and consider joining the brand’s rewards program. It can help.

Hotels, please reconsider your pet fees. Charge one fee for pet or pets that weigh 50 pounds or less, and a higher fee for those over 50 pounds. Just a thought …

Published in: on September 21, 2016 at 11:55 pm  Comments (1)  
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Exceed my expectations, retailers!

Probably as a teen, I started clipping coupons. As a hard-working young person, I relished the concept of ‘free’ money, and something about the act of cutting out coupons, comforted me.

Still today, I clip coupons from each Sunday paper. Fewer than I used to because I shop less, and shop differently than I used to, which means I don’t see many coupons for the items I routinely buy.

Some retailers have taken on a practice that quickly became my latest pet peeve. They could so easily make it a way to exceed my (and your) expectations, with a simple change. The goodwill it would create in their shoppers, I expect, would far outweigh any cost to them.

The two stores where I experience this annoyance are #CVS and #Target. Stores I regularly shop in because they have the items I need and overall, I like the stores. But this little tactic of theirs makes me grit my teeth each time I check out.

If you shop there, I bet you already know what I’m going to say. After I pay for my purchases, as part of my receipt, they give me coupons … for the items I just bought.

Usually these coupons have a short window before they expire. Seriously? I just bought three bottles of moisturizing lotion or eight boxes of tissues. What makes you think that within 10 days I’ll need more?

Come on! How about surprise me – exceed my expectations. Apply that coupon to the purchase I just made. Don’t you think that would further endear me to your brand and make sure I shop again with you?

Your current tactic annoys me and makes me never want to return. You’re in luck because I detest a certain competitor big-box retailer so much more that you’ll keep getting my money. But please, consider reversing this ridiculous approach so I can brag to all my friends about my wonderful experience that exceeded my expectations.

Published in: on July 10, 2016 at 6:39 pm  Leave a Comment  
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No ice

Just returned from a pleasure trip to Boston. Great visit although miserable weather. We stayed at #BatteryWharfHotelBOS, which overall was a lovely property. It was, however, the first time I’ve stayed in a hotel without ice machines.

Yes, any time we needed ice we called the front desk to request it. Hotel staff was always prompt and unobtrusive when bringing it. On the last night we had one weird experience.

The staff member said he needed to come into the room rather than just handing the ice to us as every other staff member had done. Then he asked if he could go into our bathroom to, we believed, empty the ice bucket. He spent a good minute in there, in our full line of sight, and threw the ice into the trash can – not the sink – one ice cube at a time. Odd.

While I’m sure there is some four-star reason to not have ice machines on each floor. I can’t say I get it. I’d rather be able to get my own ice when I want it without feeling like I have to tip each time. On that note, after the first time, we quit tipping. Maybe not fair to the staff but I hope the hotel takes care of its employees.

Published in: on April 13, 2015 at 10:46 pm  Leave a Comment  
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