2
Jan
2018

Last week, I experienced proof-positive that happiness can be contagious.  My extended family (my family, my sister’s family, her in laws and a family friend – 12 of us in all) went on a Caribbean cruise over Christmas week.   On the first night prior to departure, in New Orleans, my husband and I walked into the rest of the group in the hotel lobby and received a very animated “HeyyyYYYYYyyyyy” from them.  It was annoying as hell and very funny as well. The inflection had an effeminate quality, if that helps you to hear it.  Naturally, the HeyyyYYYYYyyyyy immediately caught on, much to my husband’s chagrin.

Everywhere we were, after that moment, you could hear the subgroups of our party issuing the hey call.  It helped us find each other in noisy bars, expansive lobbies and crowded, dark theaters on the cruise ship.  It became our signature.  (We  realized about halfway through the cruise that there was another group using “Dilly, Dilly” as their mating call. It was very funny, too).  If you wanted to find people in the buffet area, all you had to do was walk through sounding “HeyyyYYYYYyyyy” and listen for the answering call.   We had a laughter filled trip!

I did not really realize it, but other people noticed our boisterous, happy group.  We found out, happily, after we had our Secret Santa reveal on the last day of the cruise.  We were sitting in one of the more comfortable sofa groupings in one of the main bar areas, opening, and cheering the cleverness of our gifts (we all drew names and the rest of the cruise, spent time identifying the perfect gift – mind you, one of our 21 year olds drew an 86 year old’s name. It was a fun challenge).

As we sat and laughed and chattered, a couple, about retirement age, came up to us and told us that, “We have been watching  and enjoying all your joy and happiness this week.  Would you allow us to take a picture of your entire group for you to have as a memory?”

Wow.  Just wow.  It made me feel even happier that our joy was outwardly visible.  That it radiated so from us that other people were affected by it.  Happiness is a state of mind.  It may not be possible 100% of the time due to life events and struggles, but a huge component of it is being open to joy.  Let it in, when you are able.

27
Apr
2017

One of the most vivid memories I have of my late grandmother is from an event posthumously honoring my grandfather.  (A side note: my grandfather refused awards of any kind.  He preferred to work behind the scenes and adhered to a philosophy of not drawing attention to his good works.)  I do not even remember what the honor was for!

At the time, my grandmother was in her mid-80s and had been unable to walk for many years.  Usually, when I visited, she was in her bed, but with a pretty bed jacket of some sort. She always had on make up and her hair done.

For this particular event, she had dressed in a cream linen suit with ivory lace and beading on the jacket sleeves and on the front neckline.  It was a gorgeous suit.  Her hair was done, and her eyes were gleaming.  I remember, someone had helped her situate herself in a very regal, velvet-backed chair at one area of the room, not right by the door.  A tremendously long line of people were waiting to greet her, one at a time.  These were the captains of the city and state, for my granddad had been involved with politics and politicians, as well as his law practice.  Each waited his or her turn to see my grandmother, kneeling to speak with her in time.  She was absolutely glowing that day.   Her bright blue eyes were filled with laughter from social events long past.  Her hair was the whitest of white, platinum almost.

If I can remember an 85 year old woman as beautiful, why can I not see it in myself at any age?

13
Apr
2017

Because I always seem to be so busy these days – aside, I thought I was told that less busy was the norm when the kids become more independent – I seem to have tons of trouble even remembering what I was going to write about. Often, I have good ideas, quick turn around topics, and such, but if I do not capture the details right then, it is going to be very difficult to recreate later. (One of the “perks” of aging – I cannot remember a damn thing anymore!).   So, sometimes I will create a draft in WordPress, jot down a few lines to hopefully jog my memory later.  Only, I am not sure if that is really going to work.  I am perusing my rough draft folder, right here, right now.  I am not really sure I wrote ALL of them.

The top three items in my folder right now are:

3 for 1 Sale at Gangsters are Us:  I remember that one. It’s a photograph of three people who wore the same gangster costume to one of my sister’s murder mystery parties.  That party was more than 6 years ago!  The photograph creeps me out a little bit, because I was cross-dressing that night and was actually one of the three gangsters.  It’s weirdly eerie how much I resemble my late father in it – rather tough for me to put it out there. So I won’t.

Blame Game: This one is from January of this year, so it is fairly recent.  I even wrote several bullets, apparently to remind me of what I was so stirred up about.  There are nuggets like social warrior nut jobs and celebrity worship culture.  But, I have NO idea what it was about.  Nothing.  Not a sliver!  Maybe it will come to me.

Watching a Human Give Up:  I absolutely know what this is about.  There was a moment where I saw in my mom’s demeanor that when she received her cancer diagnosis, she completely shut down, and I knew she was giving up on everything.  What surprises me, in hindsight, is the date of the draft.  It’s August 10, 2015.  That is maybe the day or very soon after the day that we learned how bad it really was.  So, it was at the VERY beginning of a very long and difficult year for everyone involved.  Wow.  That one hit me hard, in the gut.

I hope you enjoyed the brief tour of what is jostling about in my brain.  Have a great weekend, and if you are blessed as we are this week in North Alabama, enjoy the weather outside.

1
Apr
2017

The end of this coming week will mark 7 months since Mom died. In some ways it seems forever ago, in others, it seems like yesterday.

A few months before her final days, I left an extremely stressful position and took a college teaching position.  I have been enjoying it because even though teaching, grading and prepping can be a lot of work – trying to keep ahead of the semester, etc. –  I don’t find it to be terribly difficult.   I also have enough flexibility in my schedule that I can exercise more, AND, teaching is not sedentary for me.  I tend to walk back and forth in front of the white boards – a LOT!  I have been averaging two miles or about 5000 steps a day just teaching.  The new activity level has helped, and I have made a conscientious effort to exercise (walk) harder several times a week at the urging of my Cardiologist.  I have lost 12 pounds off my heaviest weight, and last week I hit a milestone that is important to me.  I now weigh the same as I did before Mom’s crisis and Stage IV cancer diagnosis almost 2 years ago, upturned all our lives.   I will not be complacent, however, as I still have a long way to go to get back into a reasonably healthy weight.

Spring is here. The sky is spectacularly beautiful.  I hear birds chirping.  I see little children eagerly anticipating the end of the school year – I also see it in my college seniors!!!

I feel happy. I feel content.  I am looking forward to my college freshman girlie coming home for the summer in a few weeks.

I am blessed.