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Monday, November 21, 2011

And the stockings were hung...Well at least the lights were.

It's November 21 and my Christmas lights are hung.

Thank goodness for the efficient team known as "The Lite Guys" who called me two weeks ago to set up the date.  Turns out this is the first time the twinklers have been up before Thanksgiving! 

I am so excited because this is, for me, the single best way to kick off the holiday season.  I LOVE the lights and all the accoutrements that go with decorating for Christmas or Chanukah or Kwanzaa, whatever you celebrate.   This is the time of year when we seem to let our hearts soften a bit and we remember to give thanks and appreciate the ones we love.

It is also the beginning of what can surely be defined as blissful chaos.  Try as we might, planning ahead for things like Christmas shopping and filling out cards, often is just a thoughtful idea.  Most of us scramble around in a frantic state of panic trying to complete all of the tasks on our lists.  That's if we are lucky enough to remember to make one!  We should look to dear old St. Nick...he works on his list all year long!

Making lists are essential for me, but I sometimes forget what is most important...making my list of priorities.  All this being said, one of the things at the top of my personal agenda is trying to remain focused and get back on track with writing.  It seems that everyday distractions like my kid getting a lollipop stuck in her hair or the boy needing a ride to some friend's house can completely derail any attempt at actually putting words to thoughts and thoughts to paper...well alright, a computer screen really. 

So I wonder, is now the time of year to think about resolutions instead of January first?  Well that's such a confusing word, it sets us up for disappointment almost immediately because the connotation associated with a "resolution," is that it's almost always something that we dread doing. 

Instead, why not focus on the positive aspects and potential changes that a resolution can make in our lives.  We can start by redefining what the word resolution means to us.  Changing the terms, conditions and meaning is one way. For example we can make small daily resolutions that are much easier to stick to rather than overwhelming plans for massive changes over the course of a year.

For me, perhaps it means that I resolve to be easier on myself when I don't write.  Maybe I give myself a little more slack if when I do write, it's not absolutely perfect.  Maybe I let myself enjoy the mere fact that I have taken the time out of my busy life to nurture my soul and spirit by doing something I love to do.  Maybe it means that I set some attainable goals and forgive myself if I don't reach them, and then keep trying anyway.

What kind of resolution are you setting for yourself?  Maybe you want to smile more, get up 15 minutes earlier, stop caffeine, start making lists or maybe it's just to cut yourself a little slack in life.  Whatever it is, try to make it something you will feel both satisfaction and joy when trying to accomplish your intention.  And forgive yourself if you don't meet the desired goal, and just keep on truckin' along. 

So today, make a tiny resolution, one that you're sure you can keep.  Today, resolve to give yourself a hug and remember all the wonderful qualities that you have.  Remember that this is the season of caring which also means caring for yourself.  Remember that the holidays are about so much more than gifts and crowded shopping malls.  Channel your inner Clark Griswold, hang those lights (or call The Lite Guys)  and remember to enjoy the all the vivid illuminated splendor of the garish over-the-top holiday decor that only comes around this time of year! 

And now I bid you adieu and it is with great anticipation that I await thet sun setting so that I can see my own Christmas lights twinkling and sparkling in the cool winter night... 

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Reunions: Part Deux

Well, it came and went, my Jr. High Reunion.

And, I am happy to report that given the intense build-up and a little bit of drama pre-event (courtesy of nearly three months of threads on a Web page filled with witty, racy, and sometimes misinterpreted banter), it seems as though all of those in attendance had zero regrets about coming, in fact it was such a success that like an ending to a prolific sitcom like "Cheers,"  there are already spin-off reunions happening that I suspect will have the same kind of success...a la "Frasier."

The power of the Internet, and Facebook in particular, allowed us to reach about 350 people and the night brought together well over 100 of us, our tight little community from Santa Ana. 

Friends came from as far away as the East Coast and as near as the same city in which they reside.  We all gathered together to reminisce about our youth and catch up on the happenings of today.

I can honestly say that I was more than pleasantly surprised at how smooth the transition into comfortable conversations was after not seeing one another for the better part of 25 years.  Of course, some small groups of friends had kept in close contact but for the most part people had lost touch.  And once we were all in the same room together again, it felt like old times...literally.

Which begs the question; How much do we really change?  I mean of course we change, but do the people who knew us in our most awkward and challenging years, get over the stereotyping and labels we used to put on one another?  We are all guilty of it but I would hope that after over two decades, those pre-conceived ideas and notions about our fellow classmates would no longer exist, and I felt that for the most part, that was the case. 

I think that has a lot to do with the age we are now, most of us in our late 30's and early 40's are FINALLY comfortable in our own skin and I know that I strive to be the kind of person who stays away from both judgement and gossip...Mainly because when I act that way, I feel like complete shit.  I am not always successful and will find myself caught up in stories and rumors just like we all do but I can honestly say that this is one area that I am REALLY trying to be consistent, and I am REALLY trying to always look for the best in people.  I find that maintaining a positive and optimistic attitude helps me get through my days, especially in the world we live in.

I think navigating the halls of middle school while trying to navigate the horror of puberty and adolescence is a hairy (no pun intended) and complicated path to follow.  We are all walking around, completely insecure and worried about every minute detail of our appearance and status, and we are so consumed by these thoughts that we forget to have fun and laugh.  Friendships we had as children were fractured and broken once we entered the halls of Jr. High. 

Now, as adults we can finally see all of the wonderful qualities our fellow classmates have, without the same kind of baggage that we carried around during those painfully emotional teenage years. 

Now we can relate to each other on so many levels, as parents of kids and teenagers, and we can see ourselves as friends and allies. 

Now we can appreciate our differences and respect them.

I can say this, I was a very different girl back then.  I was struggling with my own demons and even though I might have appeared to have had it all together, I learned how to be a pretty good actress.  Now, that 25 years has passed, I am not afraid to be myself, take it or leave it.  I am not afraid to smile, laugh and act like a complete goofball.  I am not afraid to be friends with the underdog or to speak my mind.  I am finally in a place where I can be my true self and for that I am eternally grateful.

Coming away from this reunion, I felt a renewed sense about my childhood and teenage years.  It gave me reassurance that as I watch my own children begin to navigate the world of youth and adolescence, I am hoping that they too, will walk away relatively unscathed...or at least with minor emotional scars. Those wounds come with experiences and friendships that will help shape and define their lives in more ways than they know and although I would not want to go back to that time in my life, I feel confident that I can help them realize that "this too, shall pass" in times of sorrow and struggle.  I can also remind them to cherish the moments laughter and joy in childhood, because we all know they are fleeting.

And once again, this blog is dedicated to my dear old friends and classmates from Willard Jr. High in Santa Ana...

Until we meet again,

Cheers!