Saturday, January 28, 2012

Small Adventures

Raising children is a very big adventure.  But when those children are raised, and begin to leave the nest, sometimes it is hard to imagine the rest of your life as having any adventure left in it. 

A group of us, (friends because we have shared the adventure of raising theatre kids) decided to band together through this transition phase, by creating periodic "Small Adventures." A couple of hours, periodically, experiencing something we'd never done before, such as spending a sunny October afternoon picking apples on a farm, or in a warm kitchen on a cold November evening learning to cook Thai food.  

Our most recent Small Adventure turned the tables on our close-knit group. As theatre parents, we are very at home backstage, we're used to building sets, and filling seats in the audience. Last night, thanks to our friends at Theatre B, we were the actors on stage in an experience called Reader's Theatre.

The owners, husband and wife, and theatre parents themselves, joined us for a potluck dinner in the lobby, then led us through the process. The play they chose for us to read was Almost, Maine.  A play about a cast of eccentric couples who have conversations about their hurts, their fears, and their needs.  It is set in a small town in Maine, but with it's sub-zero temperatures, and aw shucks attitude, it might as well be our very own FM. Even the emotional terrain covered seemed oddly familiar.  This series of vignettes all take place at the same moment on a cold clear moonless night as the characters experience crucial, but every-day moments in their lives.  

The first was "Her Heart." Glory, holding a bag looks up at the sky from the front yard of a stranger where she's pitched a small tent.  East, comes outside to see why this woman is camped out in his yard. She's come to see the Northern Lights, which she believes is is a procession of the souls of the dead. She hopes to pay respects to her dead husband, who left her for another woman and broke her heart.  Her heart, which she claims doesn't work anymore, is in the bag she clutches.

In The Story of Hope, Hope rings a doorbell and a small shrunken man answers. She had come to this house believing her old boyfriend Daniel would always be there.  She pours out her heart, guilty for leaving town, and leaving Daniel's question to her unanswered. She suddenly realizes that the quiet, smaller stranger is Daniel, transformed because he's lost a lot of hope.

This Hurts introduces us to Marvalyn who is ironing in the laundry room and accidentally hits Steve, a fellow tenant with the ironing board.  He tells her he can't feel pain because he has a technical sounding disease. He has a whole list of things to avoid, because they can hurt him, one of them being love.

Where it Went. After skating on a pond, Phil and Marci talk about disappointment and frustration with each other as they search for Marci's shoe. They finally confess they are both lonely and wonder what they are waiting for.  

Seeing the Thing was the last vignette, read for us by   our directors, the only two who felt comfortable on the stage. They portrayed Rhonda and Dave, snowmobilers.  Dave has painted a picture for Rhonda, but she can't seem to tell what it is. She also won't admit they are anything more than buddies. Dave kisses her and changes her perspective, allowing her to see what the picture really is.

Whether or not they did this on purpose, the play our directors chose was very much like our lives.  The lines we read were about real people who are honestly dealing with tough things - just like those of us gathered there on stage. It was a little scary, it was a little exhilarating, just like starting a new phase of life.

With our Small Adventures, we are not waiting for our lives to happen to us, we are choosing to experience life, and we're finding out that there are plenty of new adventures left!

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Even now, as I'm doing something I tell myself is good - writing... (hell, not only writing, but writing a post two days in a row) I feel guilty. 

You see, by writing this, I'm actually cheating on my other writing.  But, in my defense, compared to my other writing, the one I'm cheating on, this kind of writing - a blog post - is easy.  A blog post can be about anything I want. It can be as long or as short as I want it to be. And, if I can't make my point with words, I just throw in a picture, you know, because it's worth a thousand words, oh, and for irony.

I suppose you'd like to know what this "other writing" is that I am so eager to avoid.  Well, I might as well tell you too, I've told everyone else in the whole world.  One of those intentions I spoke of in yesterday's post, was to actually enter a writing contest, and not just any contest, no, I had to go and be specific about it.  I am going to enter an original piece in the Erma Bombeck Writing Competition. The deadline for which is February 14th which is rapidly approaching.

Not to sound cocky, but as writing goes, this really isn't that much of a stretch for me.  For years, I've written letters to family, and notes to friends, and sometimes even blog posts that people think are pretty funny.  "You're like a modern day Erma Bombeck" they say chuckling.  So what's the problem you say?  The problem is that this competition, like any competition I suppose - has rules!  They want this piece not only first and foremost to be funny, and to have the voice of Erma, (you know "hook em with the lead, hold em with laughter and exit with a quip they won't forget") but worst of all, it is limited to 450 words!  450 words?!?  I can't even effectively tell you what I had for breakfast in less than 450 words - well, that may be a slight exaggeration, but exaggeration is what makes things funny.... and wordy... way too wordy. Gah, I'm screwed.

The piece I've chosen to enter, started out as a three page hilarious but factual recounting of THE WORST Mother's Day I have ever experienced. The story is practically family legend, people who know me, often ask me to retell the story to their friends - it's hilarious. But back to the point, I have to cut it down from three pages to 450 words.

So, that is why, at 11:30 pm, I am punishing myself by eating Oreos and drinking wine, and I feel less guilty about that than I do about dilly dallying around with this cheap and easy blog post... 

Daft and dewy-eyed dopes keep building up impossible hopes

Goals. Resolutions. Intentions. Yadda Yadda Yadda. Whatever you call them, about a month ago you made them.  Well, OK - I won't include you in this, I'll just go ahead and admit that yes, I made them.

I vowed, swore, or otherwise resolved to accomplish, do, or quit some stuff. To that end, I went and signed up for the cutest blog challenge, put on by some of the fanciest bloggers around. It's called "Imagine the Impossibilities." These creative women are challenging each other (and anyone else who'd like to join the party) to do something, one tiny thing they thought was impossible. So, I said to my self, 'Self, that healthy lifestyle thing you're about to embark on seems pretty impossible right about now, you should join.'  And their blogs are so pretty, and the button was so irresistibly cute, I couldn't help myself, I just upped and joined in. Trouble is, their challenge is to accomplish one impossible thing in the month of January. Elegant, short, and to the point. My impossibility is a 13 month slog. I'd like to stay with the spirit of the Imagine the Impossibilities theme, but the truth is, the program I've pinned all my hopes on, is having some delays in getting started, so consequently, I'm experiencing some delays myself.

If you're new to LaLa Land, or don't remember what my impossibility is, I wrote about it here. I've gotten email assurances that the program is still a go, and will start in January, but there are only 5 days left in January, so... we shall see... impossible things keep happening every day!

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Well, now I've gone and done it!

I'll just come right out and say it.  I'm a good 50 pounds overweight with a body mass index of 30. For my 5'4" frame, that makes me obese. Not obese in any debilitating way, or really so much so you'd call me that to my face (or behind my back, because you're polite that way), but I'm not comfortable in my skin - or my clothes for that matter! So, what am I gonna do about it?  

A Google search yields headlines like:

Top 10 Foods NOT to Eat
Top 5 Exercises for a Flat Belly
Just Call Jenny
Spray Your Fat Away

OK then, what DO I eat? When? How much? I'm over 50, will those top 5 exercises really give me a flat belly? Will yoga help? How about Zumba? And the last one is just silly. It's all so confusing!

I've got to take control and start doing some kind, ANY KIND of exercise.... That Wii Fitness program that was going to change my life? Where is it? It's gathering dust in the basement. And the treadmill I made Downtown Dad haul upstairs so it would be more accessible? It's fulfilling its destiny as, what else? A clothes rack. 

Motivation - I don't got's any.

It’s the first month of a new year. I’ve started a new job, as well as a new phase of my life.  I've got a clean bill of health.  I’ve got no excuses left – now is the time to make my health, and well-being this year’s priority. 

Here's exactly what I'm gonna do about it:

I have committed to a 13 month non-surgical, healthy lifestyle weight loss program, sponsored and facilitated by my employer – Sanford Health. Their motivation is healthier employees = better work force. My motivation is the refund of 50% of the program cost if I successfully complete it. I'd say its a win-win wouldn't you?  

This program is scheduled to start at the end of January, and is structured around a balanced three-legged stool approach.
  • The first leg is a support group made up of the people who have made the commitment, and led by a licensed counselor.  
  • The second leg is a personal trainer/coach who will make sure the fitness aspect of the program is covered.  
  • The third leg is a dietician who will assess my individual dietary needs and monitor what, how much and when I eat. 

The whole key to becoming fit (which is the goal - the weight-loss will be the bonus) is changing my lifestyle.

It will be hard. 
I will want to quit. 
I will complain - a lot.
It will be fun!  

My biggest fear is that I won't make any progress, or that I'm just too old for this to make any difference. My second biggest fear is that I'll fail, but I've told just about everyone I know that I'm doing this, so, you know, at least I've got the peer pressure working for me. 

I'm stepping WAY out of my comfort zone on this, because not only will I be blogging here about my experience, but since I work in the marketing department, I've also agreed to do some video blogging in the hopes that I can maybe inspire others to this, by honestly relating my pain and progress.

So, check in every once in a while and follow along with me on my journey. I promise there will be embarrassing pictures - tasteful, but embarrassing.  Oh yeah, and video... yeah, video. 

Tangerine Tango

I just read that Pantone's 2012 color of the year is Tangerine Tango.  The name itself, while it does evoke a sultry Spanish couple, mashed together in a moving, maraca enhanced embrace, isn't what I would have chosen.  I would have called it Salmon Boogie, or Apricot Hustle, or maybe Coral Jitterbug.

That peachy shade has always made me happy though, and as I read Pantone's adjective heavy descriptions, I started to believe that I could make the world a better place, just by bringing a little more Tangerine Tango into my life.

People might associate me with the color and start to think of me as "sophisticated, but at the same time, dramatic and seductive, with a lot of depth."

Like these shoes.

Or, "a bit exotic, but in a very friendly, non threatening way"

Like Shakespeare in brick.

Pantone goes on to describe their color of the year as "reminiscent of the radiant shadings of a sunset, and marries the vivaciousness and adrenaline rush of red with the friendliness and warmth of yellow to form a high visibility magnetic hue that emanates heat and energy."

Like Rachel Ray cookware.

I guess I would prefer my reddish oranges to stay in the mystical Sedona cliffs,

and red tile roofs.

What do you think?  

Sunday, January 8, 2012

My family's favorite sandwich

Its a pretty good thing for a mom to have a secret recipe for the whole family's comfort food.  The secret recipe that was handed down to her from her own mom.  Its a pretty good thing to be able to whisper the magical name of that comfort food and bring everybody running.  I bet you'd think it was a pretty good thing if I was to share that secret recipe... 

Well, it's not so much a secret, in fact, it's pretty simple, it may even be written on the inside of the paper label that covers the Underwood Deviled Ham can.  It by no means is health food. It's likely one of those depression era recipes - using white bread, butter, mayo, and a questionable meat source. 

My mom called them Hot Denver Sandwiches, my family calls them delicious!

For four sandwiches you will need:
2 cans of Underwood Deviled Ham
6 eggs
8 to 16 slices from a block of Monterrey Jack Cheese
Hellmans (or Best Foods) Mayonnaise
8 slices of white, or potato bread
A non-stick 10 inch frying pan

For best results, you should make the sandwiches two at a time.

First, empty one can of deviled ham into a medium bowl with three eggs. Beat with a fork until combined.

Melt a little butter in the frying pan, and heat pan just until the butter begins to brown. Pour the deviled ham egg mixture into the hot pan and swirl gently to be sure it settles evenly.  Let it cook until almost solidified, yet still a little bubbly in the middle.

Then, using a spatula, cut the circle into four equal quarters and flip each quarter individually.  Lay the cheese on the cooked side immediately and either lower the heat or remove the pan from the heat as soon as the cheese begins to melt.

Stack two quarters per sandwich, cut diagonally, and serve.  For two more sandwiches, repeat the whole process.  Make your own in the second batch so you can enjoy it while it is still warm and gooey!

Friday, January 6, 2012

This makes me smile

When all three of my kids are at the table.  When DD and I can set "five plates" for dinner.  That makes me smile.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

What I Wore

I was hoping that this picture-a-day thing would spark some inspiration in me to write something profound /funny /interesting or all of the above.... not so much. So, anyway, here is what I wore to work today. A black sleeveless shell, with black polyester pants. The only thing of interest here is the sweater. It is one-half of a lovely twinset that I purchased for $6 at a local consignment shop that I love called My Best Friend's Closet. Also pictured is my beloved Unicorn Necklace that hardly ever leaves my neck. This picture was taken with my Blackberry camera, sitting in my soulless, unadorned, temporary cubicle.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Just for fun, a photo a day

According to some of the blogs I read, in order to be kind to ourselves, and stop setting ourselves up for failure, there will be no resolutions this year. There will be however, goalettes, and what I like to think of as intentions. I won't call them resolutions, but I am working toward some things this year, and in the process, learning some new things, and enjoying myself, and maybe, most importantly, giving myself things to write about! I came across a challenge for the month of January that provides just that, a small visual inspiration.

Of course I'm a few days late in starting... but in the spirit of kindness to myself, I will not let that bother me.

So here, via Spokalulu, via Patti, via Fat Mum Slim, is the January Photo A Day Challenge.

What do you think? There are no rules, just suggestions of something to take a picture of.  You don't even have to write anything, heck, you don't even have to have a blog to do this.  Just take a picture a day for your own enjoyment!  Do you want to join me?  C'mon, it'll be fun!