Wednesday, December 29, 2010

#Reverb10 - Prompts 23 - 29

December 23 – New Name. Let’s meet again, for the first time. If you could introduce yourself to strangers by another name for just one day, what would it be and why? (Author: Becca Wilcott)
Hello, I'm Cheri.  I'm rather fond of my own name and have never been one to want another name. I couldn't even imagine what it might be if I were forced to choose.

December 24 Prompt – Everything’s OK What was the best moment that could serve as proof that everything is going to be alright? And how will you incorporate that discovery into the year ahead? (Author: Kate Inglis)
On Christmas Day, the moment Becca offered to help me with dinner preparations and then peeled three pounds of potatoes without complaint.  And I really believe you have to be the mother of teens to appreciate just how big that moment was for me.

December 25 – Photo – a present to yourself.  Sift through all the photos of you from the past year. Choose one that best captures you; either who you are, or who you strive to be. Find the shot of you that is worth a thousand words. Share the image, who shot it, where, and what it best reveals about you.  (Author: Tracey Clark)

I couldn't decide between these two photos. They were both taken at the same time - when I was playing with self-portraits. Both say a lot about me. Which one do you think best captures me?

December 26 – Soul Food. What did you eat this year that you will never forget? What went into your mouth & touched your soul? (Author: Elise Marie Collins)
Would have to be this little slice of heaven - TGI Friday's Vanilla Bean Cheesecake.
December 27 – Ordinary Joy. Our most profound joy is often experienced during ordinary moments. What was one of your most joyful ordinary moments this year? (Author: BrenĂ© Brown)
I have already blogged about this, and used it in answer to another Reverb10 Prompt. You can read about it here.

December 28 – Achieve.  What’s the thing you most want to achieve next year? How do you imagine you’ll feel when you get it? Free? Happy? Complete? Blissful? Write that feeling down. Then, brainstorm 10 things you can do, or 10 new thoughts you can think, in order to experience that feeling today.  (Author: Tara Sophia Mohr)
There are many things I want to achieve in the next year, but I think top on my list, the thing I want the most is to be physically fit and healthy. But that isn't something that I "get" and then am done with - it is a lifestyle, a habit, a way of being that I will be enjoying for the rest of my life. And I intend to enjoy the journey completely - the getting there - and the being there - and the staying there! So starting immediately since I've already begun this journey... I am feeling lighter, freer, more flexible, more energetic, happier, more satisfied...

December 29 – Defining Moment.  Describe a defining moment or series of events that has affected your life this year. (Author: Kathryn Fitzmaurice)
I really believe that "defining moments" are few and far between in a lifetime. And I can't say that I've experienced anything as momentous as a "defining" moment in the past year. Certainly not like some of the "defining" moments I can recall so vividly from my past. I've done a lot of reading this year that has changed my perspective on me, who I am, who I want to be. I've had a lot of trial and error experience in the health and fitness arena.  And I've participated in a number of online classes and challenges that truly stretched my boundaries and helped me grow. I think all these things in combination created the change in my life this past year.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

A Little Christmas Spirit

Today I woke up needing a few certain songs to get me going. So I'm feeling mighty grateful for YouTube for giving me the pick-me-up I needed!

My favorite Christmas tune in the "oldies" category is "Do You Hear What I Hear?" and has been for years. But it has to be the Bing Crosby version. That's the one I grew up with and I still love it!

Of more recent vintage, "Where Are You Christmas" by Faith Hill (used in the Jim Carey version of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas") has been my favorite for several years. Love the message. It can always pull me from feeling like Scrooge to really embracing the Christmas Spirit!

And brand new this year... "Shake Up Christmas" by Train. Love the lyrics. Love the video - it's so stinkin' cute! No way you can listen to this one and not end up feeling happy!

Hope you caught a little of my Christmas spirit!

#Reverb10 - Prompts 21 and 22

December 21 – Future Self. Imagine yourself five years from now. What advice would you give your current self for the year ahead? (Bonus: Write a note to yourself 10 years ago. What would you tell your younger self?) (Author: Jenny Blake)
Greetings future me!

So happy to see you are still taking care of that smokin' hot bod I worked so hard to create for you!

I know that you are five years older (and presumably five years wiser) and who knows what wonderful, life-altering truths you have discovered by now! But I'm sure the ones I've just learned are still as pertinent to your life, so just as a reminder of the important and wonderful things you learned five years ago, here's a little advice to keep in mind:

take time to truly enjoy the beautiful life you have created.
acknowledge life's abundance. say thank you. often.
stretch every day. your body and your wings!
delight in the wonder of everyday things.
remember that you are worthy.
embrace your imperfections.
smile. be happy.
choose joy.

December 22 – Travel.  How did you travel in 2010? How and/or where would you like to travel next year? (Author: Tara Hunt)
2010 did not involve as much travel as normal for me - two very short trips (one to Phoenix, one to Chicago) for work, both of which had me in hotel meeting rooms the entire time, with zero opportunity for sightseeing or relaxation. A long weekend in South Carolina with my friend Krystal, including the Photo Walk in Greenville S.C. - hot, humid, and exhausting, but a lot of fun! And a week at the shore with the family - which was a wonderful, relaxing vacation on-the-cheap. 

I don't presently have any travel scheduled for 2011. But I know travel plans will happen! I'd love to suddenly come into the opportunity and wherewithal to travel to London to see Sarah while she is studying abroad! I'd love to take a family vacation someplace "tropical" - Hawaii definitely tops the list, but I'd settle for Florida - the Keys or Miami. Or an island - any island... ;)  I'm sure one or two trips will come up for work - and this time when they do, I'd love to extend long enough to at least "see" the outside of the hotel meeting room! Maybe a few of the sights?  And hey, while I'm dreaming about travel in 2011... a "girl trip" would be FAB!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Even More Picture the Holidays

Going all the way back to Day 2 - "framed".  This word tree was a free download courtesy of Rebecca Cooper (which you can find here) - I just printed and dropped it into a picture frame we already had.  Then had fun catching the reflection of the Christmas Tree lights in the glass!
Day 17 prompt wanted us to capture the warm glow of candle light.  Here's my Twisted Peppermint 3 wick candle from Bath & Body Works. A gift from last Christmas that I'm still enjoying! Mmmmmmmm.
And finally (for now) - Day 18's prompt was "recharge."   This is "cookie break" - my version of a quick pick me up. And these luscious little peanut butter blossoms are courtesy of Rachel who did a little baking on Saturday (I made two loaves of banana bread, one with nuts, one without).  Her cookies are absolutely addictive! And GONE! (yes, I might have had something to do with that).

Monday, December 20, 2010

#Reverb10 - Prompts 17-20

December 17 – Lesson Learned. What was the best thing you learned about yourself this past year? And how will you apply that lesson going forward? (Author: Tara Weaver)
I have learned a lot about myself in the past year - it has definitely been a year of growth and understanding. I've learned that I have limits. I've learned that I am not superwoman and I can't do it all. But that I can do a lot! I've learned that I'm easily distracted and that I try to take on too much all at once. But most important of all, I've learned that I don't have to "do" perfect or "be" perfect to be worthy of love, acceptance, appreciation, and validation.  Just being me is good enough. Whew, what a relief! 

I hope to carry this lesson forward by being more gentle and forgiving with myself, by allowing myself time to breathe, and by trying (this will be difficult) to limit my activities so that I can better focus on those things I do undertake.
December 18 – Try. What do you want to try next year? Is there something you wanted to try in 2010? What happened when you did / didn’t go for it? (Author: Kaileen Elise)
I'm interpreting "try" to mean something new... something I haven't already done.  So in 2010 I want to "try" using my camera on manual mode! (yikes).  See the response to December 20 below for further edification.
December 19 – Healing. What healed you this year? Was it sudden, or a drip-by-drip evolution? How would you like to be healed in 2011? (Author: Leonie Allan)
This was a combination of things.  Susannah Conway's Unravelling and Unravelling II e-courses were part of it. Reading Brene Brown's The Gifts of Imperfection was a big part of it. Participating in the Weekly Gratitude project (although I kinda let that slide once summer hit) was definitely part of it.  The combination allowed me to come to grips with not being perfect and learning to love myself and appreciate my world. Blogging brought the whole thing home for me.  So I'd have to say it was a slow evolution. And the healing was for the emotional/spiritual sides of me.

For 2011, I'm looking forward to physical healing - specifically, having all my body parts fully functional and pain free, moving more, eating less, and working toward the ultimate FIT and FAB at 50 goal!
December 20 – Beyond Avoidance. What should you have done this year but didn’t because you were too scared, worried, unsure, busy or otherwise deterred from doing? (Bonus: Will you do it?) (Author: Jake Nickell)
Tying in with December 18, above, in 2010 I set out to learn to use my camera(s) in other than "auto" mode. I made some progress, and actually got fairly comfortable with the macro setting, but I still don't quite get how to use all of the different settings and I have a lot more to learn. One avenue I did NOT explore, because I found it far too intimidating, was the use of the fully manual mode - where you take control of the camera and set everything - exposure, shutter speed, lighting, white balance.  Having found each individual concept difficult to grasp and master, the idea of doing it all is terrifying.

But honestly, what do I have to lose? It's a digital camera! If the pictures are terrible I can just delete away and nobody will ever have to know! So among other things I want to do or try in 2011 - learning to use manual mode is on my list!

Christmas Club

*with apologies for the late post - I was fighting a cold this past weekend and just not up to it on Sunday...

December 2004
Our Most Unusual Christmas...

started like this:
with early Christmas gifts that Santa had his elves drop off... an iPod Mini for Sarah, a portable DVD player for Rachel & Becca and headphones for all three. The iPod already had a list of Sarah's favorite music loaded.  The nicely typed letter from Santa, dated 12/19/2004 explained that he heard we were going to be away for Christmas and thought the girls might like these gifts for the trip.  Which makes sense, considering we were flying from Philadelphia to Maui, Hawaii that day!

This was the only year that we didn't decorate the house for Christmas. The little two-foot tree was it.

We celebrated Christmas Day in Waikiki. No tree, no chimney, no turkey dinner... but the girls still got new jammies on Christmas Eve and I had brought their stockings and some small gifts (earrings, charms for their Italian bracelets, candy) that I could easily pack in my suitcase. We also picked up a few trinkets at the open markets in Waikiki on Christmas Eve. I tried my best to make it feel a bit like Christmas at home. Their Nana had sent the lovely arrangement, which served as our tree.

 Becca and Rachel got Mia Hamm jerseys - high on both of their wish lists!
I couldn't find these reasonably priced anywhere in adult sizes, so they got youth sizes and, needless to say, outgrew them by the time Mia Hamm retired from the sport!  But I digress...
Sarah got an Eagles jersey - which she still wears to this day!

Everyone knew the trip was the big Christmas gift. Nonetheless, at least two of these three young girls recall this as the Christmas that they got jipped. Yes, they are accustomed to excess.  And they like being home at Christmas.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Fitness Friday - the Short & Late Version

Tales from the Scale:    174! Yes! Having reached this number, the goal is now to maintain through the holidays. Thank goodness I weigh-in early in the morning. We had our "pot luck" Holiday Party at the office Friday. There was sooooo much food! I behaved okay and made some decent choices, but calorie wise, I couldn't even venture a guess and I know I ate waaaaay more than I would have at home!

Body Wars:    Friday morning was the first day in an entire week that I woke up with no pain in my back. Usual morning stiffness, but no pain. Hopefully that means the damage I did lifting that counter top last week has abated.  I had a wonderful PT session (albeit rushed because I needed to get to work for the aforementioned Party.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

More Picture The Holidays

I am now to the point where I am confusing Picture the Holidays prompts and JYC prompts. But that's okay! Most of this will eventually end up in my JYC album - assuming I ever get around to creating actual pages!

Day 4 of Picture the Holidays asked for the "Keys to Happiness" - what is it that keeps you grounded or is key to your happiness during the Christmas Season? Day 16 of JYC asks what am I grateful for today? 

One of my Keys to Happiness is having my whole family gathered around me. It's a big part of the season.  So today I am grateful that Sarah is home from college. Even if it means that all her STUFF (of which this represents less than 1/3) is home too.  I'll be even more grateful when her stuff finds a home other than my scrap room! But this is where it got dumped last night.
The Day 14 Picture the Holidays prompt was Holiday Mail (Day 3 JYC).  Here's the last little bit of my Christmas Cards that went postal on the 15th. They are all out now!
And here is a beautiful card that I received in the mail on Tuesday.  My photography doesn't do the colors justice - the girl's coat and jacket are truly Christmas Red (not so orange). Isn't it gorgeous?  One guess who it's from!

This card is now sitting right by my computer where I can admire it everyday.

Day 15 of Picture the Holidays was about gifts - Day 10 of JYC about wrap. Here's my take on the two.  First the "before" shot - the cabinet where I've been hiding things. When fully open, Ashley takes interest. No doubt looking for space to crawl in and curl up.

The "during" shot - everything piled up on the countertop to begin the wrapping process.

The "after" shot with most (not quite all yet) wrapped and returned to the cabinet.  I think it is funny how deceiving this shot is - it just doesn't look like much.

So here is a close-up of the bottom right portion of the cabinet, so you can see the layer of gifts stacked up in the back, behind the ones you can see above. 

I didn't go for any theme or assigned wrap this year - I was really just trying to use up a lot of the leftovers from previous years. I finished off the ends of four rolls!  We still have enough in the Christmas wrap box to wrap for another two or three years I think. But at least with having emptied out some rolls, I won't feel guilty buying more if I catch something really pretty on the after-holiday sales.  These are all traditional red/green bright/cheery. I'd love to give a try at "elegant" next year!

#Reverb10 - Prompt 16

December 16 | Friendship. How has a friend changed you or your perspective on the world this year? Was this change gradual, or a sudden burst? (Author: Martha Mihalick)
How has a friend changed my perspective on the world this year? Again, so many different ways I could interpret this... but I'm going quite literal.

A good friend of mine has been struggling financially for the past couple of years. It has been tough on us, going from a time where we were able to visit with each other several times a year, to where even once a year is stretching the budget. We miss hanging out. Laughing. Scrapping. Just enjoying each other's company.

I tend to whine a lot about how difficult it has been to keep up with the bills, college tuition, loss in overall income because of increased costs of medical coverage, lack of raises, etc. It is crap that most of the world is facing. It stinks, but it isn't life threatening. It means cutting back, it means doing without some of our wants, but not any of our actual needs.

My friend, however, has been forced to file bankruptcy. She's had to inventory every single thing she and her family owns. There is a personal property "allowance" with bankruptcy... so everything over and above the meager allowance is subject to being taken and sold to satisfy creditors.  She might lose her car... her furniture... her jewelry and clothing.  There is also a "tools of the trade" allowance.  She might lose some of her scrapbooking supplies... computer equipment... camera equipment... things she uses in her business to help support herself and her family. It is a scary prospect.

But she has met it all with such grace. Her attitude towards the whole process has been fabulous. She keeps reminding herself that they are just things and things can be replaced. She is grateful for her family and her health. Her attitude has changed the way I look at my own circumstances. And why I say repeatedly that I am really seeing just how much abundance I have in my own life. No matter how tough I may think things are, I now see clearly that there are so many others in the world who have it so much harder than me. My life is truly abundant.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

#Reverb10 - Prompts 14 and 15

December 14 |Appreciate. What’s the one thing you have come to appreciate most in the past year? How do you express gratitude for it? (Author: Victoria Klein)
There are so many things I could say to answer this question. And picking just one is hard. But since I have to... I have come to appreciate being able to really see the abundance in my life. I am so grateful for the abundance in friendships, in material things, in life in general. And I try to express that gratitude in my blogging and scrapbooking. I have started pointing out at home how much we have to be grateful for. I am really hoping my attitude will be contagious!
December 15 | 5 Minutes. Imagine you will completely lose your memory of 2010 in five minutes. Set an alarm for five minutes and capture the things you most want to remember about 2010. (Author: Patti Digh)

I'm really going to give this a try. I've got my timer out, setting for five minutes... NOW!

1. Our family trip to the shore - the beautiful walks on the beach - the time spent together just chillin'.
2. My newfound sense of wonder at the world once I started learning to see the world through my camera lens - which probably had more to do with slowing down and seeing things than the camera itself.
3. All of the friendships I have developed through my blog - I wouldn't want to forget Kai, Kelly, Sian, Mel, Amy, Karen, Jacky, Sharyn, Cheryl, Lee, Melissa, Deb and so many others, but the timer is ticking...
4. How hard I worked at turning around my health - eating, exercising, and medical issues - all of it.
5. Watching Rachel and Becca's soccer games - and my pride at how hard they are trying (most of the time).
6. My "girl" trip to see Krystal and our Photo Walk through Greenville SC
7. Becca going to her first prom with Peter. Although I wouldn't mind forgetting how much I "enjoyed" shopping for prom dresses with her!
8. Seeing a baby dove hatch outside my bedroom window - and learning to use my tripod so I could photograph it.
9. Watching the Junior girls win the Powder Puff tournament!
10. All the great books I've read this year.
11. Joining the "Perfect Protest."

Now I'm going to admit that when the timer stopped I was on #6 - but that list felt so incomplete! So I cheated a bit. I could keep going as there was a lot more about 2010 I'd like to remember. But I guess this is the list of scrapbooking layouts I need to create!

Monday, December 13, 2010

#Reverb10 - Prompts 12 and 13

December 12 | Body Integration.  This year, when did you feel the most integrated with your body? Did you have a moment where there wasn’t mind and body, but simply a cohesive YOU, alive and present? (Author: Patrick Reynolds)

Huh? Last I checked, my mind lives in my body. Not sure how to separate the two. I can recall a few instances where mind was unsuccessful at convincing body to do its bidding. But mostly they work in tandem quite well and coexist peacefully. Maybe I just don't get it.

December 13 | Action. When it comes to aspirations, it’s not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. What’s your next step? (Author: Scott Belsky)

I think I successfully outlined a lot of next steps in response to the 11 Things prompt. I know that more will be fleshed out as I begin working with my "One Little Word" for 2011.  I have signed up for Ali Edwards' One Little Word class over at Big Picture Classes. Only $36 for a full year class - which I'm hoping will help reinforce something I was going to be working on anyway! I'm still mulling over next year's word. Focus is a likely contender but I'm not 100% convinced yet!

#Reverb10 - 11 Things

December 11 | 11 Things.  What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life? (Author: Sam Davidson)

This has been one of my favorite prompts so far! But when it came through on Saturday, I knew it would take some time to put together a meaningful response. I needed time to mull.  What eleven things would I want to eliminate from my life in 2011? How would I accomplish it? What would it mean in my life?  Here goes:

Image Source
1. The dreaded question "What's for dinner?"  I know it seems innocuous enough. But it is a loaded  question. And no matter what my answer is, it will inevitably be followed by a groan of disapproval from at least one of my darling offspring. The question is also one that fills me with dread because I often don't know the answer! Honestly, I hate figuring out what's for dinner!

How to solve this problem? I'm going to have to start meal planning, consulting recipe books, trying new things. The tried and true and getting old and dull. And once I have meals planned, I am going to post them on the calendar - thus eliminating the need to ask at all. I also need to resort more often to the measured response of "I am fixing xxx for dinner. If you don't like that, you are welcome to fix your own." I just have to let go of caring what response comes next from the mouths of my babes. If I can do that, I will feel a lot more calm around the issue of what's for dinner.

2. Drama. With a capital D. And by this I mean teenage drama surrounding the littlest things such as what's for dinner, to the biggest things such as fights with the boyfriend. Since I cannot control the drama being created by these darling creatures of mine, I'll need to control my response to it. I can't fix it. Nothing I can say will be right. Offer advice only when specifically asked. If it's too much, count to ten and walk away. Just walk away. And breathe. They'll live through it. And it's not my problem.

3. Being Taken For Granted. Again, I know this is an issue where I cannot control the behavior of others - only my reaction to it. My reaction of choice for 2011 will either be to (a) not do those chores where I feel I am being taken for granted (allowing my children to do their own laundry, meals, etc.) or (b) accept that I will not receive any recognition for particular tasks and choose to do them with a glad heart anyway. How much better will I feel about my daily round with this shift in my own attitude?

4. Excessive Sitting. I need to get OFF MY BUTT! In 2011 I will post a series (downloaded photos) of stretches by my computer. And I will plan to get up every half hour and spend two minutes doing one of the pictured stretches.  If I can When I turn this into a habit, not only will I spend 4 minutes less per hour on my backside, but I will be getting regular doses of the stretches I need to keep my muscles from shortening and becoming tight.

5. Clutter/ Excess "Stuff".  I like clean surfaces.  I find clutter to be visually distracting and bothersome. I will continue my (now two year) effort to declutter my home bit by bit, eliminating all the excess that we don't need and being more selective about what new "stuff" is brought into the home.

6. Negativity. That insipid soul-sucking monster that arises from the depths of the never-enough crowd. I will avoid Negativity wherever and whenever I can, letting go of those who bring nothing but tainted energy and unhappiness to my doorstep. Where it can't be avoided, I will gently remind Negativity that its attitude is neither productive nor acceptable within the confines of my home and if it must indulge, to please take it elsewhere. 

I can greet with acceptance and compassion a bad moment, a bad day, a trying time. I will offer advice, a shoulder to cry on, whatever it is that a friend needs... But Negativity - if you insist on being unhappy without cause, if you derive pleasure feeding off the reactions to your incessant complaints and victim mentality - allow me to show you the door.... and try to not let it hit your sorry ass on the way out!

7. Fear/Insecurity. I need to let go of the worry that the economy will not turn around, that our jobs may be in jeopardy, that funds will be lacking for college tuition and other bills. In 2011, I will make a conscious effort to continue recognizing the abundance in my life and being grateful for all that I have. Knowing that all I have now is all I need - and that should my needs change, the Universe will provide. I will work harder at accepting and using the knowledge that I can manifest anything I need if I just ask.

8. Medical Issues. In 2010 I ran into a few snags in my fitness program with knee and back problems. I plan to eliminate medical problems in 2011 by continuing my physical therapy program and once discharged, by returning to the gym at least three times a week and continuing my stretching on a daily basis. I also plan to wean myself off certain OTC medications and continue to improve my overall health through vigilance in my meal choices, portion sizes, and attendance to regular medical check-ups and preventive care.

9. Fast Food/Processed Food/Refined Sugar. I have cut so far back on my fast food indulgences that I feel I have nearly eliminated that demon from my life. That leaves processed (convenience) foods and refined sugar. Which are going to be a tad more difficult to eradicate. They are tenacious little buggers. But this is one of my long-term goals and I will continue in 2011 to work on eliminating these evils from my life by replacing them with natural foods and learning more ways to cook foods on my own, instead of just heating things from a box.

10. Old, Unfinished Projects. I am the Queen of Unfinished Projects. I have the ornament to prove it! In 2011 I intend to revisit my ever-growing to-do list of partially completed projects and with each one - either get it done or let it go!  I'll assess my willingness/desire to finish each one, set up deadlines for the ones I'm keeping, and then JUST DO IT!

11. Perfection. I want to eliminate the need to make things perfect. Me included. I have been trying to let go of perfect, but it's still a work in progress. I intend to get a jumpstart on this one by letting go NOW of the need to make Christmas "perfect".  Perfection doesn't exist. Except maybe in a Hallmark movie. In which case it is entirely predicable and dull. Striving for perfection is a waste of the time. Time that could be spent finishing up unfinished projects. Time that could be spent just enjoying the little moments of life - even the less than perfect ones.

Picture The Holidays

I have done a lousy job of keeping up with this class - and you know what? I don't care! It is perfectly okay with me! But I thought I'd share some of the photos I've been taking, even though they don't follow the prompts in order and are quite random...

Prompt 8 - Reflecting. Played with getting reflections from the tiny ornaments on this little 2 foot table tree!
Prompt 9 - It's a Sign! This ornament is too heavy for the tree - we put it on the mantle.

Prompts 10 & 11 - Twinkle Twinkle and Shaping Up -  The twinkle prompt encouraged us to play with the tree lights and shutter drag. I did a LOT of playing! But I liked this one with the lights in the shape of question marks - which really gives me the "feel" of the anticipation surrounding Christmas season!
 While I was playing with the twinkle lights, I got this shot of the tree - which I love because of the glow bouncing off the walls behind it. Still need to get the angel up and I may try this again.
Prompt 12 - A Whole Lot of Happy - was looking for photos of smiles. I captured this one (with flash) of one of the Smores ornaments that I bought the girls two years ago.
And just for fun, here's another of the same ornament (no flash) after the photographer had a little too much egg nog!  Okay, not really - just your everyday case of camera shake! 

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Christmas Club - the Command Performance

Jay and I celebrated our first Christmas together in 1984, having met in January of that year. We got engaged in July and moved into an apartment together.

I recall that first year we only had a small tree table and this ornament was one of our gifts.

That year also began what became a fourteen year tradition of "going home" for Christmas.  "Going home" meant to Elmira, New York - to my last childhood home and where some of my younger siblings still resided.

We jokingly called going home "The Command Performance".  Because Mom expected us to be home for Christmas. And none of us had the balls cajonies nerve to go against Mom's wishes - even if we had other ideas about what to do for Christmas.  Luckily we didn't really have other ideas.

Everyone gathered at Mom's house on the afternoon of Christmas Eve.  We would attend a candlelight service at church, and then head back home where Mom had a buffet of finger sandwiches, chocolates, Christmas cookies and assorted condiments - it was truly a culinary feast and just the beginning of the overindulgence.

This photo is from 1985 - the Computer Geek (formerly known as The Accountant) and I, and my baby sister Elizabeth who was 5 at the time.

Christmas Eve tended to run very late - and as we got older and added more spouses, and then our own children to the mix, it became quite the chaotic affair. But one I wouldn't have traded for anything.

Christmas morning we would all gather and open gifts (which was loud, noisy, messy, and chaotic) and then help prepare the traditional Christmas feast.  By this time we had graduated to the "grown up" table and the "kids table" began being populated with our own children and their cousins.

With Mom's grandchildren added to the mix, Christmas Eve began to include a visit from Santa Claus (aka Uncle Frankie) who actually did a paid stint as Santa every year and came to Mom's house when he was done for the night - usually pushing close to midnight. Which led to some very tired, hopped up on sugar, wild grandchildren!

Like this crew from 1996 -  Becca was afraid of Santa, but didn't mind getting this close - just not on his lap!

And those lovely dresses were made by the girls' Nana - who had a tradition for a short while of making them the most beautiful matching clothes every year.

Sadly, this was the last year for the full-blown Christmas bash at Mom's house and the visit from Santa.

The Christmas of 1997 Mom was confined to a bed in the family room, where she participated as much as she could, and we were all there, but she was no longer running the show.  She died in February 1998 of renal cancer.  And I am so grateful now to have the memories of so many years of wonderful Command Performance Christmases!

I'm participating in Sian's Christmas Club - you can join HERE.

Friday, December 10, 2010

# Reverb10 - Catching Up

Day 8 | Beautifully different. Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different - you'll find they're what make you beautiful.  (Author - Karen Walrond.)

Seriously? What doesn't make me different? 

I'm a natural blonde - meaning I have blonde eyebrows and eyelashes.

I have a scar on my left knee from falling off my bike as a kid. I have scars on my belly from gallbladder surgery and a c-section. 

I freckle and burn very easily.

I'm very candid about what I think (some call it blunt - semantics).  

I'm NOT photogenic. BUT  I have a creative soul. 

Both my big toenails are still growing out from the Breast Cancer 3Day walk in October 2008. 

I hate dirty dishes in the sink.

I have zero tolerance for rudeness, incompetence, and waiting in lines. 

I love the ocean. And sunsets. And my family and friends. 

And it is a package deal. All or nothing. The good with the bad. It's all who I am. And isn't that beautiful?

Day 9 | Party. What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans. (Author: Shauna Reid)

I am the consummate stay-at-home-body. An introvert at heart.  I do not care for large gatherings such as the cocktail parties I am occasionally called upon to attend for work.  One night of being "on" for hours on end, chatting it up with people I barely know, can leave me physically and mentally exhausted for days after. So I can readily assure you that no socks have been rocked in 2010.  Now... put me in a room full of my tribe and I'll be telling a different story! I never said I don't like to have fun!

December 10 | Wisdom. What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out? (Author: Susannah Conway)

The wisest decision I made this year would have to be deciding to get serious about my health and fitness. And I'm not going to bore you with a dissertation on the why's and how's. You can read all about it in my Fitness Friday posts!

Fitness Friday

Tales from the Scale: 

Could you hear the chorus of angels singing when I stepped on the scale this morning????

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Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Haaa-leee-luuuuuu-JAAAAHHHHHHH! 

175.  Need I say more?

Body Wars:

I'm still in physical therapy and looks like I'm going until at least the end of this month.

Which is probably a good thing. I pulled my back again this morning helping Computer Geek move an eight foot long countertop. I knew it was a bad idea... But in the interest of having working printers upstairs with my computer, well, I went along.  I don't think I did too much damage, so hopefully it'll feel better tomorrow.

In the meantime, I've picked up a little more knowledge via a link from Reverb10.  One of the authors there, Patrick Reynolds, has written an e-book entitled "Survival Guide for Knowledge Workers".  It caught my attention so I paid the $9.98 and downloaded the book.

Reynolds' major premise is that man evolved over hundreds of thousands of years to be erect, bi-pedal beings. (disclaimer - I am not making a case either way for the evolution/creationism debate - just reporting) Through that process our bodies were designed to walk. In fact he estimates that our hunter-gatherer ancestors walked about twenty miles every day.

As a species we moved from that to agriculture - which meant less walking, but still being active from dawn til dusk - tilling, planting, havesting, tending.

Until 100 or so years ago. When we became an industrial society. And men spent eight hours a day in front of a machine, assembling parts of whatever. Then we became knowledge workers. And now we spend 15-16 hours a day sedentary - in front of a computer, or a television, or an iPod, iPad, gaming device, or driving a car.

15 -16 hours a day. ON. OUR. BUTTS. In bodies that were designed to walk and to move for that period of time.

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 The result, according to Reynolds, is that our hamstrings are shortening, pulling the pelvis forward, causing us to hunch at our computers... bringing us back to the posture of our early ancestors. How scary is that?

What caught  my attention most about this piece is the correlation between a sedentary lifestyle, hamstrings, and posture. As you are reading this, pay attention to how you are sitting. Are you up straight or hunched? And if hamstrings are shortened by sitting all day, then no wonder mine are so "tight" when I try to do anything other than sit!

Reynolds' advice?  SIT LESS.  WALK MORE.  and DO YOUR STRETCHES!    

Well Duh. Damn. I knew I was on to something big. Wish I didn't just spend $10 to confirm it!  And here, I've been giving this same advice away for free! ;-)

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Enabler Alert!

Have you seen this?

Big Picture Classes is offering a free class!  Embrace Imperfection, taught by Karen Grunberg, runs for two weeks in mid-February.  All you have to do to sign up is click the link above, put the class in your cart and check out!

Karen's classes tend to be conceptual rather than focusing on a particular technique or project. She doesn't give supply lists, but encourages you to use your stash and adjust the class assignments to reflect the real YOU. I'm sure this is one of those classes that will get you thinking more about the "why" of your scrapbooking and less about the "how".  Did I mention it is FREE????

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Blogging for Bliss Round Robin Update

Blogging for Bliss officially arrived at its first destination in California on Monday!

#Reverb10 | Day 7 | Community

December 7 – Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011? (Author: Cali Harris)
This is too easy.  Right here! I've discovered a community of the best women ever through my blog. You all know I love you.  And just in case you forgot how grateful I am to have you in my life, check out this post and this one. And know that you are my tribe and I'm here for you, just as I know you are here for me!

Monday, December 6, 2010

#Reverb10 | Day 6 | Make

December 6 – Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it? (Author: Gretchen Rubin) 
The last thing I made would be my Christmas Cards. I used some cardstock, my own photography, and lots of love.  But since some of my readers will actually be receiving one of these, you get the edge-burned, totally lacking in full detail version of a photo.

There are plenty of things I'm currently wanting  to make - gift card holders, my JYC/December Daily pages, and these beautiful boxes from Karen's blog are just the tip of my creative backlog and those are top on the list because of their current need to be completed!

Good chance I'll be using this same photo for my JYC page about holiday greetings!

#Reverb10 | Day 5 | Let Go

December 5 – Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why? (Author: Alice Bradley)
This year, with the help of a lot of reading and self-reflection, I let go of PERFECTION.  In fact, you may remember my entry for The Perfect Protest

Letting go of perfect isn't something that happens overnight. It is a process... one which I'm still working on.  Embracing your imperfections isn't a task for sissies either. But it is worth the journey.  And if you are interested in going down that path, I highly recommend this book:

Having read it twice, and still finding passages resonating with my everyday life, I'm seriously considering joining Dream Lab in January for a guided read-along.
Do I need a disclaimer? I get nothing for recommending this book or the Dream Lab course. No affiliate fees, no free gifts. I paid for my own copy of the book. Brene Brown doesn't even know I'm on my blog tooting her horn. I keep recommending it because it is just THAT GOOD.

#Reverb10 | Day Four | Wonder

December 4 – Wonder.    How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year? (Author: Jeffrey Davis)

Learning to use some of the functions on my camera, and being involved in the "Picture" series with Tracey Clark at Big Picture Classes opened up a whole new world for me. Now when I look through my lens, I can see beauty and wonder where before I saw just commonplace.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Christmas Club

Joining in on Sian's Christmas Club!  I'm taking you back in time... December 1972... some of you are probably way too young to even appreciate this...

Yeah baby - vintage!  Can you dig it?

I was eleven years old at the time.  In the first photo, you just gotta love the orange and navy plaid pants, gold turtleneck, and rust color suede vest! And the ratty old lounge chair with holes worn in the armrests.

I had my ears pierced at 10, so one gift was a pair of earrings. 

In the second photo, I was helping my 18 month old brother Donny open his gifts. That thing on the floor that looks like a mop? Our English Sheepdog - Lollipop.

Love the third photo. Me, Deanna, and Jerry, eagerly waiting for my Mom to pass out gifts.  And her outfit is so "Partridge Family" (Shirley Jones) - it cracks me up! And what self-respecting living room in the 70's didn't have at least one wall with dark panelling?

And how many of you are still hanging on to one of those lovely box televisions???

What amazes me about these photos is how I can see what appears to be such a happy family enjoying a traditional Christmas at a time when what I remember most in my mind is how much turmoil and crisis this family was in.  For now, I'm letting go of those less-than-wonderful memories on focusing on the idea that even then, among some of the darkest of days, we had happy times.  Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 3, 2010

#Reverb10 | Prompt 3 | Moment

December 3 | Moment.

Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors).   (Author: Ali Edwards)
I'm happy to say I've had plenty of moments of feeling truly ALIVE this year. Purposefully trying to engage and live in the moment will do that for you. Being aware of all the things you have to be grateful for will do that for you. But when I read this prompt, one moment immediately flashed through my mind.

June 4, 2010. Driving home from the gym. The sun is shining, bright and happy in the sky. It's a warm day and I'm flushed from a great workout, but enjoying the breeze tickling the back of my neck and ruffling my hair as it blows through my car windows. And on the radio comes Shania Twain's "Man, I Feel Like A Woman." I crank the music and sing-along (admittedly off-key, but hey, I'm alone with no one to offend) belting out the refrain at the top of my lungs. And I feel alive, happy, content, for a few perfect moments.

Fitness Friday

Tales from the Scale:  176! woo hoo!  My current goal is to let go of another two pounds and hit 174 by Christmas  Then remain firmly on the down-side of 175 during the Holidays. And set new goals for the new year!

Body Wars:  I was so happy to walk into PT today and tell them that I had NO PAIN to report! Being pain-free is so easy to take for granted.  I want to remember how wonderful this moment felt and be grateful every time I notice it. 

I'm now adding "sets" to the little bit of weight training they have me doing and am starting to add a little more time and kick the speed up a tiny bit on the treadmill.  I imagine that I will be discharged in the next few weeks and will have to continue this on my own. I hope I remember how important it is to my well being to stretch every day!  Have you stretched today?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

#reverb10 - Day 2

December 2 Writing.

What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it?
(Author: Leo Babauta)

Change the word "writing" to "creativity" and this prompt is more applicable to me.  What do I do each day that does NOT contribute to my creativity? And can I eliminate it?
Well, let's start with the oh-so-obvious. Cooking, cleaning, laundry, shopping, chauffeuring... all those lovely mom/wife/domestic goddess activities that I love to hate.  Unfortunately, until I manifest a small fortune to pay for domestic help, I cannot see my way clear to eliminating any of them while remaining a responsible and loving mother/wife/domestic goddess. So they stay. Sigh of Resignation.
Then there's tv... but I don't watch all that much to begin with and when I do, it is usually because I NEED some no-thinking-required down time. Call it justification if you must, but my limited mindless entertainment is not currently on the chopping block. Sigh of Relief.
How about the day job? Probably one of the least creative things in my life. Can I eliminate that? Much as I'd love to, it pays the bills. And bills must be paid. Dang. Drat. Darn. Huge Sigh of Disappointment.
Okay then, the gym? Physical therapy? Logging calories at MFP? Huge time drains there that don't contribute squat to my creativity. But let's face facts. Totally necessary to my health and well-being. Part of the Fit & Fab by 50 Plan. Non-negotiable. Sigh of Determination.
That leaves computer time. Blog time. Blog reading and blog writing. Blog hopping - one link leading to another and another and another. And I readily confess that I can get lost in the time-warp of my google reader and lose hours of my life in a blink. Even though I try to rein this activity in by limiting blog subscriptions to 50 at any given time (currently at 48).
As unnecessary as this activity might seem to outsiders - or heck, even to my immediate family - I'm going to tell you that this activity DOES contribute to my creativity. And since I'm a lawyer and all, I can make a very convincing argument that this is fact, not justification.
You see, the blogs I read feed my creative soul. They are a source of inspiration and connection with kindred souls who "get me" in a way that my own family does not. Some of my best ideas and most cherished creations were sparked by something I read or saw pictured in someone else's blog post. I can take those ideas, those sparks, and mold and shape them into something totally my own. I can give birth to beauty and love and insight and magic because another beautiful soul touched me with their words, their photos, their creations. And I get the added bonus of fostering meaningful relationships with friends all over the globe whom I might never have met in the physical world. How can one deny the necessity of such an activity? How can one even suggest that such a connection would not enhance creativity? It's almost... blasphemous.
So Google Reader stays too! Triumphant shout with raised fist.
In summary, having considered my daily activities, I'm thinking maybe a little more dust won't hurt anyone. What do you think?
 Sighs can be so appropriate, but triumphant shouts are much more energizing!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Seven Days

I have so much going on lately that I'm not even sure where to begin! Has it really been SEVEN DAYS since I last blogged?! Did you miss me???

Here's SEVEN things I've been doing in the past week:
1. Thanksgiving:
Seems my whole family was starved to death, so once dinner went on the table, everyone was ready to eat. No time for great photos.  But since I usually get NO food photos at all, I was happy to have just one turn out well enough to publish! And this is it. One single photo of Thanksgiving.

2. Black Friday:

Started off with 4 a.m. shopping at Target.  I went in, grabbed the single item I was there for, paid and left.  And while I got what I went for, I'm  hoping to not repeat that experience next year. It was insane!  I was home by 4:45 and did the bulk of my Christmas shopping online with Black Friday specials, finished by 5:30 a.m. and managed to spend some seriously big dollars in less than an hour.  Definitely doing my part for the economy!

Tales from the scale - I weighed in a half pound up from the prior week. Given the large slice of apple pie and ice cream, I'm not surprised! But I lost it by Monday and am back on track.

Body Wars - Improvement! At Physical Therapy, measurements showed that my flexibility and range of motion are definitely better.  Several inches closer to being able to touch finger tips to the floor! I've been officially discharged for knee issues and am now treating for just my back, with increased exercises. Public service announcement:  Have YOU stretched today???

3. Happy Birthday to My Guy:
Saturday we celebrated Jay's birthday (even though his birthday is actually today).  We did this early because Sarah (on the left) was headed back to College on Sunday.  Having a birthday in December wreaks havoc with shopping budgets.  Me? I combined birthday and Christmas, along with next Valentine's Day, Father's Day, Anniversary and any other gift-giving occasion that might arise and ordered my guy an Apple Macbook Pro. To his precise specifications.  He is The Computer Geek after all.  I'll be paying for it for a year. Literally. I got the twelve month financing option!

4. Blogging for Bliss Round Robin - The book is packaged up, postage paid, and will be dropped in the mail tomorrow morning on my way to work.  Participants will go in the following order:  First Bliss will go cross country to California to visit Sandy.  Then it'll do a quick tour of the U.S. via Melissa and Rachel.  A short border hop will take Bliss over to Lee in Canada.  From there it'll fly across an ocean to visit Jacky, Cheryl, and Mel in the U.K. Another ocean crossing will take Bliss over to Amy in Australia, before making its way back home.

   5. And speaking of blogs... last week (while I was MIA) Melissa was kind enough to award me the "Stylish Blogger" Award.  Thanks so much Melissa!  Since this post is already ridiculously long and you'll learn eight things about me reading it, let's just say I pass the award on to the eight lovely ladies linked to in the Blogging for Bliss paragraph above? You all deserve it! And if you want to play along properly, you can read the rules on Melissa's blog here.

6. Journal Your Christmas/December Daily/Picture the Holidays.
Seriously - is it December ALREADY?  I'm still in a dither about the way this year's album will be constructed. I have a 5.5 x 8.5 three ring binder with page protectors. I know I am combining thoughts/ideas/prompts from all three venues. But digital, paper or hybrid? What color scheme? Any unifying elements? I have no clue!  I do know that I ADORED Shimelle's Christmas Manifesto.  Here's what I did with it:

First I recolored the green background to more closely match the color of my album.  I added papers and elements from The Studio Girls "Impressions of Festivities" kit from Scrapbookgraphics.  If you are into digital, this is a huge kit for only $7.99. I've linked to it if you want to check it out.  I agree with every statement in the Manifesto, so I didn't feel the need to reinvent at all! I have printed the Manifesto in 8.5 x 11 for my bulletin board (where I will see it every day) and in 5.5 x 8.5 for my album.  Love it!

7. Reverb10:

Today as I was browsing through my Google Reader, this kept popping up.  First I saw it on Ali Edward's blog. She learned about it from a twitter by Tracey Clark, teacher extraordinaire of Picture the Holidays  over at Big Picture Classes. Then Sally G. posted about it.  These are all women that I greatly admire and I trust them when they say this is going to be good! So I hopped over to the web site and signed myself up. But it didn't end there. Shortly after I signed up, I saw posts from Susannah Conway and Lee Currie who are also playing along! I feel I am in great company and this should be a wonderful journey and fit in nicely with JYC and Picture the Holidays as well!

Today's prompt is:
December 1 One Word.

Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you?  (Author: Gwen Bell)
My "One Little Word" for 2010 was "Wholehearted".  I embraced living wholeheartedly in many ways, jumping into photography, a self-exploration journey, and fitness with my whole heart. I read books by Brene Brown and Gretchen Rubin and more, participated in the Unravelling courses with Susannah Conway and more online classes and challenges than I can count, and joined My Fitness Pal and began to seriously address my health issues. I deepened relationships with online friends, and concentrated on being more "present" in the moment at home.

I feel like it has been a banner year in terms of personal growth.  But if I have to sum up all of 2010 in a single word... it has to be GRATITUDE. Because everything I did throughout 2010 just made me realize how Grateful I am for my family, my friends, my world.  Funny I should come to that word when it also happens to be today's prompt for Picture the Holidays!  So here's me, totally grateful for 2010.

Looking forward to 2011, I haven't fully crystallized the picture of what I want to manifest next year. It definitely involves more FOCUS (but Fit and Fab and Fantastic are also good "F" words, all of which I'd like to be manifesting in 2011).  Focus means limiting the classes I take so I can fully engage in each one (which will be ridiculously difficult for me).  Focus means continuing to work on and improve my photography and Photoshop skills. Focus means single-tasking and finishing projects that I start.  And that's a good beginning to manifesting what I want for 2011. But it needs polishing, more thought, more... well... focus.