Coffeegirl63's Blog

Begin again January 18, 2015

Filed under: House hunting,My House,Writing — coffeegirl63 @ 11:07 am
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To say I’m going to begin again makes me feel like I need to fill in the gaps. Somehow that’s intimidating, and so more than a year goes by, and I think about how I should be writing, how I want to be writing, and then two years go by, and I get more and more intimidated, and so I just stay silent.

Suffice it to say, it’s now been two years since I posted anything. At first, I was tempted to create a whole new blog so it wouldn’t look like I’ve been a slacker for two years. However, those few of you who read my simple writings here will probably be invited to read my start-over, too… so… like Michael Finnegan, I will begin again.

There have been some major changes in the last couple years. The best one involves my living situation. I was able to sell my Falcon house and move into one more suited to me.

My old house was:
~ too far away – 25 miles from work
~ east of town – not as pretty as I’d like… almost no trees, no old neighborhoods
~ too big – 2600 square feet all by myself
~ too expensive
~ too many responsibilities with owning, but not being handy enough to maintain, a home

My new DLH (Dear Little Home) is:
~ close to work – 2.5 miles from work
~ on the west side – running distance to Red Rock Open Space and Garden of the Gods, old neighborhoods, trees, community, walking distance to shops, library, post office, farmers’ market… where I’ve wanted to live for years
~ two doors down from my girls’ apartment – no explanation needed
~ perfectly tiny – my whole stand-alone little house is 300 square feet

Some things are the same. This summer, I will have been at my current job for 13 years, and I still love it. One thing that makes me love it more, though, is that my younger daughter has been working with me for over a year now. Not only does she make my work life so much more reasonable (definitely a two-person job), but it is such a delight to get to work every day with one of my best friends and one of my favorite people in the world!

I’ve been in my DLH for a year now (January 4, 2014), and I love it more as time goes by. It’s perfect for me in so many ways (as listed above). DLH was built in the 1960’s, but it was rebuilt for me. One of the perks of that is that I was able to have bookshelves put in all around! They are above the door-jam/window-sill level on most walls. DLH is easy to keep clean. There is only room for absolute necessities (books, stuff for cooking, clothes… necessities). So if I find a new coffee mug that I love, I have to decide which of my currently necessary coffee mugs must go; there are only so many cup hooks, and they are currently all full. I’ve become clever with storage space; not as clever as I’d like, but it’s a work in progress. For example, I grocery shop more often. Currently, my out-of-season and a few other things are in a storage unit. This winter, my landlord is building me a large shed. I think it will help a lot to have stuff easier to get to. I’ve been here a year, and it’s already time to cull again. The only thing I miss, and only at this time of year, is a garage.

Every single day, coming home puts a smile on my face and brings peace to my heart.

Other things… I ran my first half-marathon in September, 2014. It was fun. I set a goal to finish in under 2.5 hours, and I finished in 2:27:58. I was quite pleased! My older daughter ran with me. She has helped me go from being a poor runner to enjoying long runs and being able to push myself a bit. I am signed up for another half marathon in Livermore at the end of March. It should be beautiful. It starts a few blocks from my sister’s house and runs through the vineyards on the edges of town. I ran some of it when I was in Livermore at Thanksgiving, and it really is a pretty run.

 

Like Chickens With Our Heads Cut Off November 12, 2011

Filed under: Friends,Odd Interests,Writing — coffeegirl63 @ 12:21 pm

A couple months ago, I wrote a piece on words. I truly do enjoy words. I also enjoy the cadence of language. Remember in my words piece that I mentioned my friend who feels the words in his mouth? He may also feel the cadence, since it is generally the entire phrase or sentence he repeats. Alliteration gives me a little thrill every time. Puns and word plays are probably my favorites. Some time ago, my sister sent me a comic (which I tried to find so I could post here) showing a scrabble-like board with a few letter tiles on it and several letter tiles on the floor. One guy was searching through the tiles on the floor, and a couple other guys were standing by watching him. The caption said, “It’s all fun and games, until someone loses an ‘I’!” I thought it was hilarious… laughed out loud. Not everyone would see the humor in that (thank you, Jeanice, for laughing out loud with me), but our world works in wonderful and mysterious ways because we don’t all see things the same way.

I have noticed that people who have a strength in a certain area will have a finer sense of the correct and incorrect in that area. For example, I had never questioned the accuracy of touting a product as “chemical-free” until my scientist friend said, “That’s impossible… everything is made of chemicals. If it were chemical-free, it wouldn’t exist!” Well, of course, I know that. I also know the point the manufacturer was making in his ad. However, since chemistry is not an area of strength for me, I never caught the error. A director may view the world through a camera lens, or he may (in his head) edit every film he sees. An artist may view the world as laid out on a canvas, and she will see beauties and flaws in a painting that I never would notice. I tend to edit what I see and hear. Most of the time I’m not judging the writer’s or the speaker’s intelligence (I’m ashamed to say that, once in a while, I do judge, but I’m working on it), I’m just making it right in my own head. One of the most painful-in-my-ears grammar errors is incorrect use of pronouns, especially reflexive pronouns. I know! Who even knows what that means? My good friend Mandy Houk, English teacher and delightful writer, can give you the technical definition. You can read her writing at http://forbetterforworseforlife.wordpress.com/.

I’m not sure when it happened, but somewhere along the way, the myth was spread that using the word “me” was self-centered and evil. Why is one so comfortable saying, “Johnny gave the gift to me,” but must change pronouns when involving anyone else–”Johnny gave the gift to Julia and I”? Fingernails on a chalkboard! Of course, it’s just as painful to hear, “Johnny and me gave the gift to Julia.” You would never say (Oh, PLEASE say you would never say), “Me gave the gift to Julia,” would you? As I said, the most painful of all, to me, is the misuse of reflexive pronouns–myself, yourself, himself, etc. I’ve noticed it in business more than anywhere else. For example, “If you have any questions, please feel free to contact Jeanice or myself.” Ok, there is no place in this reality that allows me to contact yourself. It’s impossible. Let’s just take responsibility where it is ours to take. I can contact myself, you can contact yourself, I can contact you, and you can contact me. Clear? Good. Now…. right before I step off my grammar soapbox, I have a request. If I ever express my gratitude to you, there are a number of responses that are appropriate: “you’re welcome,” “absolutely,” “my pleasure,” even “whatever, man!” However, I think I would rather read no response at all than to read, “your welcome” because my first response is always, “my welcome what?”

Ok, I’m done ranting. Painful, I know. I do apologize. Once I start… :-/

One side of noticing nuances in the English language is the great stories it affords one. Currently, I’m writing in four blogs–this one, which is just for fun; two professional blogs, human resources and payroll; and another which you’ll never get to know about because it’s private and I only write for my counselor, and even she doesn’t get to read everything I write. In my latest payroll post, I told the following story:
I was working with a new vendor–new to me, but also relatively new in his company. He sent me an email shortly after we established our working relationship, at the end of which he said, “thank you for baring with me.” Umm. Ok, I let it go. However, the next email was addressed to me, with cc’s to his boss, his boss, and my boss. It ended with, “Joni, I really appreciate that you bare with me whenever we work together. It’s been really fun to get to know you.” I replied, just to him, with the following,
(more…)

 

Writing Letters the Old-Fashioned Way October 23, 2011

Filed under: Friends,Introspection,Writing — coffeegirl63 @ 9:02 pm

I’m just curious about something and hope to hear some feedback from you. (But if I don’t get any feedback… well, you’ll see.)

Do people write personal letters any more? I do, but it seems since Facebook status and texting has taken over so many forms of communication, few people write what I think of as “real” letters any more. Before texting, people who missed each other, or just enjoyed each other’s company on a personal level, used to email each other or talk to each other on the phone. Before we had cell phones with free long distance, phone calls were usually purposeful and fairly short. In the days of expensive long-distance calls, and before that, we wrote letters using a pen and paper.

When my sister’s fiancé at the time (now husband) was in Air Force Basic Training, she wrote to him every day. She always sprayed the letter with perfume and mailed it in a purple envelope with a lipstick kiss where she sealed it closed. Every day at mail call, when the other airmen saw that purple envelope, they’d smell it as it was passed back to my brother-in-law. I think those are important memories. People always saved love letters.

Sometimes, I still write letters the old-fashioned way: with pen and paper. I just think there is something about seeing a letter mixed in with all the bills and the junk that elicits a smile. I don’t write nearly as many pen-and-paper letters as I wish I did. Most of my letter writing is in the form of personal emails.

What’s difficult is that most of the letters I write (whether pen-and-paper or email) go unanswered. Sometimes that means I just don’t get a letter back, sometimes (with email) there is a response, but not to anything I’ve said or asked. Now, I understand that I tend to be a bit “particular” (some would say peculiar) in the way I live my life. When I get an email (I can’t remember the last time I got a letter), I tend to reply item by item. It seems to me that if someone asked questions or took the time to tell me specific details about his or her life, that person would like a response on those questions/details. Am I wrong or over analyzing?

My challenge: Many times in my letter writing, I struggle with things to say. I mean, there is always something to talk about, but what do I say without asking questions, without having anything to say in response to someone else? Do you ever struggle with this? How do you handle it? Sometimes I write away ignoring that fact that there will be no reply. I ask questions. I talk about what I’ve done that day or that week. Unfortunately, that can make me feel like I’m talking to myself, and that just makes me question my sanity. Sometimes, usually just in the emails, I ask question I genuinely want, or even need, the answer to. Do I send another email with just the one question, hoping the recipient will respond?

Another question: When sending a letter or email to a loved one, what do you use for a closing? Very few people even use a closing any more. When I write to my kids, I usually sign, “I love you, Mommy” or “I love you soooooooo much, Mommy” or “I love you, Mama” or “I love you, Mama Bear.” (I know, but they’ll always be my babies, so can’t I always be their mommy, at least in writing? Anyway, they’ve never told me to knock it off.) Some emails (when writing to my boyfriend, who doesn’t live in CO), I sign, “Your… Joni” or “Missing you… Joni” or “Anticipating seeing you in however many days… Joni” or something like that. When I write notes to my parents, I usually just sign it, “Your favorite” because I know it’s true. 😉

Anyway, those are my thoughts. Do you have, or have you had, any experience with writing letters or personal emails? Do you think this post will have any influence on your future correspondence?

Please let me hear from you.

Affectionately yours,
Joni

 

Words, Words, Words September 4, 2011

Filed under: Odd Interests,Writing — coffeegirl63 @ 6:56 pm
Who uses more words in a day–men or women? The popular “studies-say” answer is that women use three times the number of words that men do, and that we are a source of emotional exhaustion for men. Eliza Doolittle, on the other hand, would argue that it’s the opposite (you know, the words, words, words song–I’m afraid you’ll have to Google it because I don’t know how to use copyright information to legally post the lyrics here), as she runs, emotionally exhausted, from the men in her life. I’ve known men as well as women who talk incessantly. I have noticed a trait more predominant in women than men: when we get together in groups, we can all be participating in more than one conversation at a time.
I like words. I like how they look on paper, I like how they sound in my ears, and I like how they feel in my mouth. Yes, words do indeed have a feel in the mouth. I know someone who will often repeat a phrase, but only under his breath, for the tactile experience it provides. I love to learn new words. Today, I used the word, “kempt” in a conversation with a friend. I didn’t even know if it was a word, but I thought it should be since “unkempt” is a word. I mean, how can something be UNkempt if it’s not possible for it also to be kempt? So, of course, I looked it up. I was thrilled to see that it is, in fact, a word. A word I rarely use is “whelm.” I know it’s a real word, and the definition of “whelm” makes “overwhelm” seem redundant, but to say that I am whelmed by something just seems incomplete somehow. The other day, I felt angsty and petulant, but it made me feel slightly better to say I felt angsty and petulant than to say I felt anxious and irritated for no real reason. “Soporific” is one of my favorite words. I learned it while reading the Peter Rabbit books to my kids. The bunnies all feel asleep, and were almost cooked into a pie, because of the soporific effects of the lettuces they had eaten. “Delectable” is a good word. It’s important to me that I eat something delectable every day. People have said that we shouldn’t choose food based on taste, but only on nutritional benefit. If that’s true, then it’s wasteful that we have taste buds. Does good food never delight you? I think our five senses are some of the greatest gifts we’ve received. What a treasure that we can taste such a variety of flavors, smell the richness of the earth, see the beauty of a sunrise, hear a symphony, and feel the touch of a loved one’s hand in our own.
Words fascinate me. I proudly subscribe to dictionary.com’s Word of the Day email. dictionary.com often leads me on a serendipitous journey of delight and discovery. In fact, I just stopped by that site to see if there was a link for the word-of-the-day email, and I got lost for ten minutes learning the origin of the ampersand. I have a few friends who also enjoy words, and we will share new words with each other. I received a text the other day from an unknown number. When I asked who it was, and he gave me his name, I increased my vocabulary level to the ridiculous (but it’s how he and I communicate). When I was met with silence, I realized that I was not talking to the Ken I thought I was talking to.
My kids use words that delight some of their friends and exasperate others. Jeanice has been told by her friends that she is not allowed to read vocabulary books.
Combinations of words can also be a thrill. The Princess Bride, the most quotable movie ever, is a source of some wonderful logodaedaly. Did you just go look that up, or did you already know that I was talking about word-play? It’s a word I just learned today–I discovered it as I was looking for another word (again with the serendipitous journeys). Combinations of words can elicit a smile because of the information they provide–I love you, I’m on my way, we’re gonna have a baby! Other combinations feel good in the mouth–fraught with emotion, sleight of hand, peas and carrots.
Sometimes I speak in text: I made her lol. wft? jk. Once, in a professional setting, some asked me a question and I responded, “idk, but I’ll find…” (blush) I blame my daughter for that one. I have a few friends who don’t like text shortcuts even in text, but they can’t stop me from speaking “u” instead of “you” or “r” instead of “are” because they can never catch me at it 😉
Do words ever give you a thrill? Do words have a tactility for you? What are your favorite words or phrases?
 

Good Intentions and Improved Health July 16, 2011

Filed under: Food,Healthy Living,Writing — coffeegirl63 @ 10:50 pm

My daughters went on a seven-week road trip, leaving Memorial Day and returning this week. My younger daughter, who lives with me, turned 18 while on their trip. They celebrated her day in New York City by seeing Wicked on Broadway. It was, in my daughter’s word, Epic! What a wonderful time for them! Adventures… Sister Times… Weddings… Graduations… 21 states, as far north as Maine, as far south as Orlando, Florida… The Wizarding World of Harry Potter… EPIC!

While my daughters were enjoying their adventures, I took advantage of the opportunity to experience living alone for the first time in my life. It’s true: I’m 48 years old, and I’ve never lived alone. I got married at 20, and I moved from my parents’ home into my husband’s apartment. When I separated from my husband 20 years later, I moved back in with my parents. I lived there until I rented a room in a friend’s house 2 years ago for a year. Last summer, Julia and I bought a new house together. See? I’ve always lived with someone. So for the last week of June, I took a stay-cation from work and just did what I wanted. I had some laziness, courtesy of Netflix, but I accomplished a lot of what I set out to do.

Several things in the last year have filled my life with a bit more than I have handled well. Some of my success in life is due to my tenacity, my sense of responsibility to accomplish (at whatever cost) what I commit to, and my ability to focus. Sometimes I take those talents to an extreme, and they become stubbornness, people-pleasing, and perfectionism. There’s not always time to deal with stress as it comes, so I just store it all in my upper back until I do have the time. In the last year, I chose not to deal with an unhealthy relationship or to address some nagging negative health issues (“I know it’s been eight months, but I know this tummy ache and these headaches will go away on their own! And, good grief, isn’t everyone tired most of their waking hours??”) I’ve been keeping up with my job and all its new responsibilities, but I get behind on some of the less “squeaky-wheel” tasks… until the finance controller turns up the volume of the squeaking. And he gets so grumpy and closed minded when I tell him, regarding the accounting, “that was then, this is now… it’s time to move on!!” Financially, I’m doing fine, but I have a huge brain block regarding creating a budget that I will follow. And I’ve been wanting to get serious about my writing for a long time–this blog has been a testimony to how well I’ve done pursuing that dream (hopefully, my current pace and enthusiasm are a new trend).

I made a list of tasks I intended to accomplish, keeping in mind that a vacation should not end in a state of greater exhaustion than it began with. The intentions I followed through with: First and foremost, I guarded from time diligently. I rearranged my living room; culled through and organized my clothes closet (necessary, as I’ve lost about 30 pounds so far in 2011); culled through and organized my pantry; defrosted, cleaned, and organized my freezer (necessary, as my annual seafood order arrived my first day back at work); figured out my ideal sleep schedule (turns out I work better later at night, so I need to wake up later in the morning); figured out my ideal eating needs and schedule; and dealt with some of my deeper health issues (the rest of this post is dealing with the last two items).

I started seeing a chiropractor at the beginning of June. My medical doctor wanted to treat my chronic neck and upper-back pain (and accompanying finger numbness) by shooting steroids into my spinal column (he said cortisone shot, but we know what he meant). It’s not that I am opposed to modern medicine. On the contrary, I’m grateful for it. But I didn’t have a good feeling about that solution. A friend told me about her chiropractor, Dr. Molly Kallenbach, DC, http://doctormolly.com/ at Thrive Chiropractic. Before going in for an anesthesiologist-administered, spinal column-invading steroid shot, I made an appointment to see Dr. Molly. From my first appointment, I felt relief from the pain in my upper back. Such a good choice! Right away, she wanted to address my overall health. She put me on a detoxification diet to try to give some of my organs a break. The foods-to-avoid list was more extensive than I’d anticipated: dairy, gluten, eggs, soy, tomato, corn, alcohol, caffeine, beef, processed meats, peanuts, and peanut butter. I knew I didn’t tolerate dairy well, and I’d begun to suspect that maybe soy was not going to be a good dairy alternative. I was just happy to see that I could eat fruit. So for two weeks, I ate a lot of salads, fruit, and non-gluten whole grains. Fortunately, I really like salads, and the ingredients are beautifully plentiful and affordable this time of year (I’m hoping, now that I’m writing more regularly, that I’ll start inserting pictures into my posts again). My regular meals were: quinoa or brown rice with fruit and rice milk for breakfast; salads, with a variety of colorful and tasty vegetables and sprinkled with chia and hemp seeds and sliced almonds, for lunch and dinner. When I had questions (and I had a lot), I’d ask my dear friend, Julie–see http://glutenfreeveganfam.blogspot.com/ for a plethora of healthy-eating wisdom; it’s a delightful journey of literary wit and gastronomic adventures.

Between my semi-weekly visits to Dr. Molly’s house of healing (she doesn’t call it that, but she should) and my new health habits, I’ve felt better than I have in years–no tummy aches or headaches, and I require way less sleep and feel alert throughout my days.

My first introduction of a new food was inadvertent. Who knew canned tuna uses soy? Maybe it’s a preservative or something, I don’t know, but I certainly would not have chosen to introduce anything new during my work day! It was such a tiny amount, but the ensuing tummy ache and headache sent my to the tuna-fish can to read the ingredients. Since I was leaving a few days later for South Carolina and Johnny’s graduation from Army Basic Training, Dr. Molly and I decided I should go back on the detox for my week of travel. It was surprisingly easy to stay on the diet most of the time. I went to a grocery store the day I arrived and bought salad stuff and snacks. There were a few meals we ate on base (food court of the PX), but there was one place that sold salads. The family went to a BBQ place one day–everything was fried, breaded, swimming in BBQ sauce (tomato), loaded with cheese, or (usually) some combination. It looked and smelled delicious, but the way I was feeling every day was strong motivation to “be good.” I was not disappointed to have to resort to a protein shake for that meal.

I have been very slowly trying new things. The foods it seems I can have: eggs, gluten, very limited amounts of coffee (one cup a day, a few days a week, instead of my three or four cups a day every day of the week), and alcohol. This weekend, I plan to bake a loaf of whole wheat bread–I hope that turns out well for me. Unfortunately, a few days ago, I confirmed that soy is poison to me. Without thinking, I ate a protein bar (which was made of soy, and dairy, and soy, and corn, and soy, and dairy, and soy). The next day was rough, the day after that was even worse. Thursday, I was tired, had a headache, and had more pain in my neck than I’d had since I started seeing Dr. Molly. Yesterday, I was in pain to the point of tears, so tired I was muddleheaded and had to leave work early, and (hardest of all for me, I think) an emotional wreck. I spent more time crying than not yesterday. In retrospect, I’m guessing the meltdown was a vortex of several things hitting at once combined with having poisoned my body (causing pain, over-tiredness, and stress).

As I said, my motivation to eat well is strong, and confirmed daily. My daughter likes eating healthfully, as well, and it’s nice to have someone to cook with. Eating out is a challenge, unless it’s to http://www.jasonsdeli.com/ or http://www.soupersalad.com/ or some other place with a self-serve salad bar. Shopping takes a lot longer now because I have to read every label. It seems everything has soy of some form in it, most insidious–soy lecithin (ok, I know it’s not technically insidious, but it sure feels like it!). Well, as my friend Julie (http://glutenfreeveganfam.blogspot.com/) says, “Honey, that’s why you only eat foods without labels!” Certainly would be easier.

Today, I’m still a little muddly, but I’m feeling a lot better: less pain (probably use an icepack on my neck after I post this), not as emotionally distraught, but still pretty tired. Dr. Molly said it would be three or four days of getting over the assault on my body, but I was hoping it wouldn’t take that long. Seems she knows what she’s talking about… again!

 

Gratitude July 10, 2011

Filed under: Healthy Living,Relaxing,Times with My Family,Writing — coffeegirl63 @ 11:50 am

Recently, I have been thinking about some things I’m very grateful for. I’d like to share with you just a few of them, as well as the events that prompted the realizations…

Today, while checking my work email so that tomorrow (my second day at work since June 24–the first being June 28 when I went in for half a day to process payroll) won’t be completely overwhelming, I saw an email notifying me that my fish order will be delivered tomorrow and that I need to be prepared to take it home as soon as possible. Grateful for: having internet access at home so I can check email at my convenience. Not having to be completely surprised and unprepared for upcoming events (one necessary preparation today: defrosting, cleaning, and organizing my freezer). Working for a company that sells fish (which I love) and that is generous enough to allow me to buy some of the best fish I’ve ever had at a price I can afford. Living in a home big enough to allow me to have a full-sized freezer. Having a freezer large enough to store a year’s worth of fish, a year’s worth of beef, and a year’s worth of green chiles at once, in addition to foods I can purchase in quantity because they are on sale. Having money to buy the aforementioned foods.

As I sit on my front porch enjoying the weather, the view, and a cup of coffee, I’m grateful for: having a home with a front porch and a view. Rocking chairs and a table so heavy it won’t be blown to Kansas or Wyoming by the high winds we get here in Peyton. Coffee. Owning a laptop so I can sit on my front porch and still use my computer. Cell phones so I don’t have to miss the call or text of someone I love (you know who you are).

I miss my kids. I’m grateful for: having amazing kids I enjoy and who love and get along with each other–enough to spend their vacation times on adventures together. Having kids I am so proud of! Kids who aren’t afraid to follow their dreams… even when those dreams don’t look like they originally thought they would and being willing to take the risks and to follow those new paths. Having kids who love God with all their hearts and seek Him first in their life plans. That each of my kids is my absolute favorite.

As I sit here on my front porch writing my thoughts, I’m grateful for: living in a country that encourages, even requires, that all children–including females–be educated, an education that is offered at no cost to families of any socioeconomic status. The ability to read and write. A natural giftedness for communicating in the English language. A love of the beauty, the fun, and the essential limitlessness of words. Living in a country that encourages its citizens to express their thoughts, even providing for that freedom of expression in one of its most important documents.

Thinking over my life–the things I’ve done well and mistakes I’ve made–I’m grateful for: the natural consequences that help me learn lessons quickly… most of the time. Grace and forgiveness so that I’m not paying the painful price of my errors in a way that destroys me or those I love. Friendships and honesty so I can be encouraged in the successes, so I can continue along right paths, as well as be shown the errors in a loving way, correcting some before they become tragedies. Growth that allows me to learn from my successes and failures.

Also, as I sit here on porch and look at the view, I’m grateful for: my lawn and my lawn mower. I am going to go now and avail myself of said lawn mower so I can cut the grass that is now long enough to wave in the aforementioned Peyton winds.

I’m grateful for you who find my writing worthy of your time. Thank you.

 

Begin again June 17, 2011

Filed under: Introduction,Writing — coffeegirl63 @ 11:25 pm

It’s been a year since I last wrote. I did get busy with settling into my house and with the daunting task of bringing all HR and payroll in-house at work. I’ve had moments, opportunities, where I could have been writing… reasons, but no excuse, for not. One of those reasons is that I get stymied regarding topics. Then time goes by, and I start thinking that I *really* need to write. Then more time goes by, and the pressure builds, and it just embarrassing–if I write now, people will think I’m ridiculous, and no one will read my writings. However,  it exhilarates me when my writing or my conversation elicits strong emotions or inspires deep introspection in my reader/listener. And so, as the song tells Michael Finnegan, I begin again.

I have a friend who has been encouraging me to write… actually, more than one friend. It seems that it’s mostly those who are closest to me, who know me best, who encourage the loudest and most often. However, it is one particular friend who asks me several times a week if I’ve been writing. After this much time, it’s becoming quite humbling. Tonight I will volunteer the news with pride that I have been writing.

Some randomly presented thoughts on this past year: I have been on a journey of self-discovery. I have learned more about myself than I thought I could in one year. Part of this revelation has come as a result of purposeful search, the rest by serendipitous stumblings. Most of my discoveries have been fun. I have come to love who I’ve become. Interestingly, I believe so much of my personality that I have learned to embrace has actually been in me since I was a little girl, but life taught me that it’s better (certainly easier) to be what others expect. I was always a “good girl,” so this was pretty easy for me. Over time, though, I forgot how to smile… I certainly forgot how to laugh. It’s still a temptation for me, the people pleaser, to want to be what people want me to be (not so much what they *expect*, so there is some progress on that), but I’ve come to a place where it’s more important to me to be who *I* want me to be!

Something about myself that I’ve recently discovered (something that at least one of you, and you know who you are, is saying, “well, duh!” about) is that my toes are very expressive of my feelings. Ok, I understand that is really weird! But it’s true. When I’m happy, my feet dance; and when I’m in a situation where my feet can’t dance, my toes can’t help but dance. When I’m upset, my toes curl under and writhe and express great distress. When I’m scared (deliciously scared, like at a scary movie), my toes curl under and hold tight. When I’m deeply satisfied, my big toes flex up while the others curl under–my toes make a “thumbs-up.” (I have very long, flexible toes–if I drop something smallish, I can usually retrieve it with my toes.) My hands are just as expressive, but I’ve learned that my agitated hands are unacceptable so I’ve learned to keep them still; but my feet are almost always out of sight so they have more freedom to express.

I am truly an optimist. I expect good things to happen. I expect people to act honorably and with integrity. When they don’t, I’m shocked and think it must be a fluke, and I continue to trust. I expect people to like me. When they don’t, I often am confused and will judge myself. But unless it’s a very harsh reaction, I can move on to meet a new friend I’ve never met before. I think my optimism contributes to my outgoing ways. My sister, the introvert, once asked me on our way out of the Safeway, “do you have to speak to *everyone* in the grocery store??” I said, “I didn’t speak to everyone. I didn’t talk to that guy. But I can, if you want me to.” She didn’t want me to. It just seems to me that there’s no such thing as a coincidence. If two people’s paths cross, it’s for a reason. I’ve discovered that my optimism is almost always rewarded with bright reality–good things just seem to happen so much more than when I lived in pessimism. So I’m generally a happy person, which beats the heck out of the blue funk I lived in for so many years.

Years ago, someone asked me what I enjoy doing. I said that I didn’t really enjoy anything. He argued that everybody has things they enjoy. I said, “no. because if I know what I enjoy, it’ll just be too hard because I won’t be able to do it. this way, I don’t know, so it doesn’t hurt as much.” Sad, I know, but my point is that it started me thinking about what I enjoy. And I discovered that I really enjoy several things. The most important discovery: I *LOVE* to laugh. I mean, it lifts my spirits for hours, sometimes days! And it thrills me to make other people laugh. I have two friends, in particular, who I’ve made it my challenge to make them laugh at least once every time we talk. So far, since I set the challenge, I’ve been successful. I tend to be shameless in my jubilation over the success, too, but they indulge me in my joy..

Life fascinates me. Everything about life–from people and their stories to the magnificence of nature. When I watch people operate in their strengths, it makes my heart sing and I’m amazed at the wonder and potential we all have inside us. If we could all live with the passion that was formed in us at creation, we’d walk around in a constant state of wonder and creativity. I have a favorite place to run–Ute Valley Park in Colorado Springs. My favorite tree in the world is in this park (someday, I’ll get a picture and post it. I don’t tend to take a camera with me on runs). The running paths are great. There are a few spots along the way that fill my soul every time I run them. I’ve never run in the park that I haven’t felt some thrill in my heart, and I usually am able to process whatever I’m dealing with that day.

I know that there are some people I care deeply about who are embarrassed by my outgoing ways (I only know because they’ve told me), and that’s really hard. I try to dial it down when I’m around them. Except for knowing that some of the people I love the most sometimes (and it really is only sometimes) wish I was much different than I am, I love the journey I’m on, and I look forward to where it will continue to take me.

Embrace life! Never waste the time you’ve been given… it’s such a gift!