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Monday, February 28, 2011

The Itsy Bitsy Vacation

Mike and I are back from a much needed vacation, and although it went by far too quickly, I was amazed at how much fun we could squeeze into four little days. I’d say the absolute best part of the trip was seeing my in-laws. (No, I’m not joking.) We hung out at their place chatting, went out to eat, and even caught the final launching of the Space Shuttle Discovery right from their front lawn. Okay, we could only see its jet stream, but it was still very cool.

Mike’s dad has a knack for knowing the “in” places to go, so he steered us to a little place called The Old Key Lime House in Lantana Florida, just outside of Palm Beach, where they are rumored to have the best key lime pie in the state. Well, after a yummy lunch we ordered a slice of their famous pie with four forks……. BIG MISTAKE! After one bite I was hooked and ready to use my desert fork to stab any incoming hands. They should have named it key lime heroin pie because it was totally addictive!

That night we buzzed over to Bill and Charlie’s condo overlooking the ocean. They agreed to put us up for the weekend and even gave us their master suite. Their place was gorgeous, decorated in an Egyptian motif so luxurious that Cleopatra would have felt every bit of her queenliness living there. I could have done without the stuffed tarantula mounted on the bedroom hallway wall (just walking past it gave me the heebie jeebies) but I’d been meaning to work on my arachnophobia issues anyway.

The next day we swung by and kidnapped my recluse cousin, TJ, and then headed to the casino. We’re not big gamblers, unless you count using the rhythm method those ten years before my hysterectomy, but we had put aside a small budget just for gambling figuring we’d lose it all any way. Okay, I was hoping to hit the big one, but I wasn’t saying it out loud for fear of jinxing myself. In hindsight I can see that that theory doesn’t work. We gambled until Mike’s back started kinking, and cousin TJ’s gimpy hip gave out.

That evening we were invited to Italian night at Bill and Charlie’s condo. We were served a six course Italian dinner which consisted of pasta & sauce, stuffed pasta, spicy pasta, chicken with pasta, pasta balls and pasta salad. After the carb loading came the dancing part of the evening, and the music was …..Are you ready?........Italian! So, there was a lot of folk dancing going on with hand holding, skipping in circles, and at one point I was forced to crouch down Quasimodo style and dance under an archway of arms. While pushing through the fleshy tunnel, the old man behind me started scratching at the bare skin on my back just above the beltline of my jeans. My creep-o-meter registered at about 10.5.

Mike went home shortly thereafter, leaving me to fend for myself. I did enjoy a few dances with some of the feisty foreigners there. One gentleman was as round as he was high (about 5 ft nothing and didn’t speak a word of English) but he was light on his feet and had a gorgeous smile. Then Charlie and I showed off for a while on the dance floor doing a mix of dirty dancing and classic ballroom, complete with hot angry looks (tango style). I live for moments like that!

Saturday morning I woke up with “Bed Face.” That’s when the wrinkles in the bedding become embossed on your face. I looked like I had a terrible scar going down the entire right side of my cheek. It was ragged and red…..and looked a little like the bolt of lightning that runs across Harry Potter’s forehead. When I was young Bed Face would go away after about ten minutes, but the older I get the longer it takes to go away. Saturday’s Bed Face lasted 5 hours…ARG!! Luckily I didn’t have any public appearances planned and was able to practically ignore the whole ugly incident.

So Sunday we returned home and resumed dealing with all the big stuff that earns us the right to take our little vacations. In the morning we went to the beach, had lunch at our favorite restaurant, and then we visited some friends before coming back home to watch a movie. It’s not easy getting back into the daily grind of Florida living, but I suppose we can hack it until we shuffle off to Miami next weekend for a wedding.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Vacation Anxiety...Really???

My husband Mike and I are about to head out on a much deserved two day vacation. Okay, maybe it’s just a staycation, seeing that we’re not going far, but being in Florida…in February, makes even a staycation something special. We’re heading across the state to Fort Lauderdale, where white sandy beaches, interesting restaurants, and friends and family are awaiting us.

It’s been a while since we’ve gone away and I have a shopping list of activities planned, including a trip to the Hard Rock, and a night of romantic dancing. Getting away from my normal routine is going to be so rejuvenating….and a bit unnerving. I know, silly me, but being a creature of habit, and somewhat of a control freak, leaving the predictable, and mundane, cradle of my existence for the wide open world, where anything can happen, has set my nerves on edge a bit. I guess it’s like getting the jitters on an airplane, or right before the wedding. You know what? This little talk really isn’t helping so let’s move on here.

My son has agreed to dog watch for us, and although I know he’s perfectly capable, a part of me is a tad worried…okay I’m kind of freaking out. He’s great with my 4 lb Chihuahua, really, but he is a bit clumsy….. why do I do this to myself?

It's just that I can’t help it if I’m overly protective about my dog. I guess I’ve bonded with her in ways that I haven’t with my kids. For one thing I obviously didn’t give birth to her so I carry no guilt for her genetic weaknesses; like the kink in her tail, or her overbite. Plus, she never argues with me, or asks me for money, and I have never had to apologize to her for the way I raised her. She loves me just as I am and all I have to do is keep her food and water bowls filled and show her some affection. I need my dog around to worship me unconditionally. You know I never thought I’d be the type to get stupid over a pocket puppy, but there it is.

In spite of everything I really am excited about getting away, and chilling on the beach with a good book and a cold drink. I should buy a new bathing suit though because mine is awful. Actually, it’s not the bathing suit so much as it is my dimpling thighs and Elmer’s Glue pallor. I wish they designed bathing suits with built in panty hose. This staycation thing isn’t as pretty as it appears on the surface. Pray for me…I’m heading out!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Me & the Moon

Have you seen the moon lately? That luminous sphere who reflects the sun’s light; for he hasn’t a light of his own. The moon; whose presence inspires howling and kisses, floods and poetry; gazing silently earthward, spotlighting our deeds and dreams, keeping our secrets, making no judgments.

Twirling, yet going no where, he is chained to his course; a muted witness whose face pales as our silent tears fall, and blushes pink with desire as lovers fold into each other’s arms, naked and one, in his milky light.

Sometimes I feel like it’s just me and the moon.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Juggling Knives

Sometimes I feel as though I’m juggling knives and I’m about to drop everything. I know myself pretty well and I can tell when something is out of balance. Life gives me cues. Like when my favorite jeans are too tight I know that it’s time to cut down on the cupcakes. When I’m snappy, I know that it’s a sign that I’m afraid of something, and when I’m forgetful, I know that I have too much on my mind.

Sometimes good things can throw me off balance too; like when I’m writing a piece that excites me more than usual I tend to write it in my head throughout my busy day. It may sound like a creative thing to be doing, but sometimes it takes me away from concentrating on what is in front of me. The results can be disastrous, like adding an extra zero when I’m writing a check, or embarrassing, like telling the cable guy that I love him when ending our phone call. “Bye bye, love ya!”

Lately, (like for the last three years) I’ve been getting signals to slow down and take some time for myself. I know, three years is a long time, but I’m a slow study, and sometimes I need life to bite me in the butt before I act. For some reason I feel that my world, and the people in it, will fall apart if I’m not there to hold everything together. But…that’s a big fat self-centered lie! So, I’m taking off my martyr robes and I’m creating a plan on how to take better care of myself… on an everyday basis.

I know myself pretty well, and I’m a sneaking little soul who will find all kinds of ways to hold onto my bad habits, so I’m going to have to outwit myself by doing things that I enjoy doing. Fun homework! Here’s what I came up with.

Taking a long bath is a great way for me to catch my breath and find balance. For one thing, I’m stuck in the tub… and naked, so the distractions are pretty limited. The hot bath water sedates me…allowing the stress to escape from my pores and rise, along with the steam, above me and then evaporate like a forgotten bad dream. Cell phones are not allowed tub-side, but candles and music are encouraged.

Walking is another free and healthy way to find balance. It awakens me to the world outside. You remember outside…endless sky, brilliant sun, and a choir of colorful birds singing acapella from the trees? Outside is such an incredible place to be, yet I often ignore it, choosing to sit in a dusty house, with artificial lighting, and dirty dishes that scream “WASH ME” from the kitchen sink. Yes, dishes can talk. My laundry yells at me as well.

Music is my muse. I can always find my way free from the chains of stress when I’m in her company. Whether in my car, my house, or out at a club, music lifts me like no other, inspiring twirly dances, and hip shaking shimmies. The band King Harvest stated it best in their early 70’s hit, Dancin’ in the Moonlight. They sing, “You can’t dance and stay uptight…It’s a supernatural delight!” So I intend to turn up the music and dance hard, and more often. It’s also a good way for me to drop a few pounds.
I guess what I’m rambling on and on about today is how to stay present, centered, and balanced in a very unbalanced world. My life is like my yard. It’s my little plot of land to tend to. Let the neighborhood go to pot, but my yard will have roses, pebbled paths, and fountains! Of course I’m speaking metaphorically. My yard is actually full of weeds…but you know what I mean!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Cranky Cherubs

Valentines Day isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. Sometimes I think it’s just a big set up for disappointment. I remember, as a child, passing out my hand signed Pepe Le Pew valentines, and saving the mushiest one for my eternal crush, Steven Sweet. Seriously, that was his last name. I may have been only eight, but even then I wasn’t immune to Cupids arrows. Much to my dismay, my love remained unrequited because Steven Sweet had set his sites on the prettiest girl in class….and it wasn’t me.

I repeated this heart numbing ritual year after year because Mr. Sweet and I were in the same class up until Jr. High. You’d think that I would have learned? But, love is love, and Cupid is often a mischievous and cranky little cherub. Don’t let those dimples and chubby cheeks fool you!

Being single… (Or married to an old fart) during this holiday is sometimes lonely, but mostly annoying. You listen to your friends gush as they read you their syrupy Hallmark cards and brag about the rose petal path that they had to follow in order to reach the chocolate, bubble bath, and chilled champagne. (Men will do anything for sex.) You do a mental eye roll and sigh; looking for the closest exit, because you know what’s coming next…a litany of sympathy aimed your way. “Oh! I’m sorry. I forgot you don’t have a boyfriend,” or “Oh, that’s right, your husband doesn’t like to celebrate Valentines Day.” You mumble a sarcastic “thanks for the reminder,” and a few expletives under your breath, and then walk away, all the while wishing that it were open season on saps.

You can’t blame the romantics for gushing, even if some are insincere, but you also needn’t feel left out, because Valentines Day isn’t just for lovers. It’s for everyone with a heart. Valentines Day is a celebration of love. The love you have for family, friends, yourself, pets, life…..EVERYTHING! Love is an eternal and amazing force. Its power changes hearts and lives, and inspires people to do great things! We are all thirsty for love on every level. This Valentines Day don’t miss out. Take a huge swig of love and then pass the bottle on. We all deserve it.
Viva la amor!

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Finding Friends in a Hostile World

Over my lifetime I’ve had a series of friendships. As a young girl my two sisters were my best friends. We lived much like a happy litter of kittens, playing, eating, and sleeping together. We were exclusive and faithful to one another, keeping secrets, exploring the boundaries of obedience, and defending each other against neighborhood bullies.

As time progressed, so did our worlds, causing us to step outside of our intimate family circle in search of new friends with similar interests. Sometimes my choice of friends was unwise, choosing people with ulterior motives, and sharp teeth, used only for ripping and tearing. These malignant friends left me wounded and bleeding. But their wounds taught me how to choose friends more wisely. The scars still speak to me, reminding me of those lessons.

As an adult I have learned to read people, recognizing the red flags of dishonesty and negativity, and choosing to “opt out” of friendships with these types of people. Better to be peacefully alone then to be mixed up with contentious souls who enjoy stirring up undue drama.

I have also realized the benefit of having close friends who share their hearts honestly, and wear soft cottony gloves when handling my heart. These are friends who draw near when I’m vulnerable, protecting the tender underside of my soul, and gently reminding me of who I am, until I am able to find the truth again for myself. I, in turn, do the same when they are in need.

It’s not easy to find such a friend. Like a delicate bonsai tree, a close friendship involves years of nurturing and care for it to mature. The rewards of friendship are well worth the effort, creating a harmonious oneness of soul and spirit, much like a good marriage!

In a world with a population of nearly seven billion people there is no need for long term loneliness. One need only be cautious and open, like an expensive jewelry store, and patiently mingle with the people brought across your path.

I have found that having somebody to laugh with when life tickles me, push me forward when I'm facing a mountain, and hold my hand when I'm sick, is irreplaceable. This great big world becomes a much better place to live….when shared with a friend.