New Day

Who doesn’t love to linger in bed in the morning, maybe just a little longer than you should?
On those rare days that I allow myself a few extra moments; I actually gift myself with so much more than rest.
Somewhere betwixt sleep and wake, I stare at the scarred and stained floorboards above me.
I wonder about the souls who have passed through this old building.
I wonder what they were thinking and feeling.
What were their dreams and aspirations?
Were they fulfilled? Were they treated well here?
How many fell in love here? How many just fell?
After wrangling my inquisitive mind a bit, I tend to look ahead to the blank, white wall over my closet.
A quaint landscape currently leans against my hutch, awaiting a home.
It would probably look very nice on this bare white wall, however, I can’t bring myself to put it there.
This small expanse of plain, white wall reminds me that every day is a new day.
It reminds me that I can do or be anything.
I can be energetic and creative.
I can be pensive and melancholic.
I can be ambitious and focused.
I guess for now my landscape will await its place, while my white space helps me find mine!

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What do you guys wonder about?

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Change

Change.

Not the coins rattling around in your car’s console; I mean, life changes.

Me…I like change.

I love the change of seasons!

Just when I’m sick of the cold, dark, icy days of winter; spring arrives.

I love spring! It screams rebirth. It promises new beginnings. It’s a taste of summer.

Once summer rolls in, it’s full bore action! Housework be damned…I’m hitting the beach, riding the waves, strolling through woods and climbing mountains.

I’m sucking every moment of sunshine and warmth into my soul!

Enter heat waves…90 plus degree days with 90 plus percent humidity…homicidal tendencies creep in and I find myself longing for sweaters and pumpkin pie.

Fall.

Fall rivals my love of spring. Just as I love the excitement of spring, I equally love the settling which fall brings.

Life slows down as everyone gathers their fruit and nuts for winter. I savor the remaining days of warmth, while secretly longing for snowy days on my couch with a blanket and a book.

Yes, change is good…most of the time.

We expect the seasons to change, but sometimes we experience other life changes; abrupt and unexpected ones.

These changes test our mettle.

Perhaps a change you were considering, but weren’t quite prepared for, occurs.

Conversely, a train you never saw coming might crash into your day.

During these difficult times we dig deep, find our strength and focus.

In these moments we really contemplate our lives.

These moments make the otherwise seemingly insurmountable to-do list, the equivalent of an annoying May fly.

These are the moments in which we grow and change.

This is when we prioritize. We decide what really matters. We are forced to see the big picture, as opposed to the mundane details that often encompass our lives.

Change reminds us to live, adapt and transform.

The dragonfly spends up to four years in water, as a nymph, developing into its final, magnificent stage.

I don’t mind hanging out as a nymph for a bit, waiting to see how magnificent I will become.

Embrace change.

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A Good Cry

A good cry…an oxymoron, right?
Females will readily understand this notion.
Due to societal convention, many men may not.

By a good cry, I don’t mean a, “gee, that commercial or Facebook post really touched me.”
I mean a, “My world just turned upside down and I don’t know what to do with this pain,” kind of cry.

Sometimes it’s easier to just bury the pain; to just compartmentalize it, and plan to deal with it another day.

Easier isn’t always better.

I’ve lived long enough to have many good cry moments. I don’t feel the need to expound upon that. We’ve all been there. Sickness, death, abandonment, disappointment, heartbreak…

I’ve always considered myself a strong person. Crying, to me, equaled weakness.

(Additionally, I don’t cry pretty like the movie stars! I end up with big, red puffy eyes and a snotty nose…yeah, just not pretty!) 

For the first half of my life, I schooled myself in the art of stoicism.

Again, it’s easier to block things out and focus on the next task than it is to face the problem at hand.

I thought I was so cool. I had the ability to shut down and ignore the pain.

Little did I know the volcano I was building for future eruptions.

Then I grew up…a ‘lil bit…

I realized that crying felt good! Crying was cathartic!

I cried in the woods, walking my dog. I cried walking across the parking lot to work. On really bad days, and I mean REALLY bad days, I have found myself in fetal position on my cellar floor, crying like a baby.

Why am I not afraid to admit this, you ask?

Because every damn time, I managed to let it all out and stand up again and face the next day. Because, just because I cry, does not make me weak. In all actuality, it makes me stronger.

I don’t like the person I was when I didn’t cry.

Yes, I was strong, but no one needs to be fortress strong.

It’s better to be human strong.

So I hope you all cry when you need to and otherwise…skip! 

My Taekwon Do Journey…one year in…

Next week is the one-year anniversary of the beginning of my Taekwon Do journey.

I recall standing alone in my kitchen one evening, almost one year ago; my husband and son both engrossed in their own activities.

Having just cooked two completely different meals to accommodate both dietary needs and personal tastes, I thought, “Is this really all there is…”

It was time to make time for myself.

The idea of studying Taekwon Do kind of popped out of no where.

I had been enamored with martial arts since I was a child, but I hadn’t thought about it for years; decades.

Structured workout routines had long since faded into the backdrop of motherhood.

Daily dogwalking with my best friend Marlo, usually ended with a, “What are you doing for the rest of the day?”

She would invariably reply, “I’m going to work out.”

“You mean that wasn’t our workout?” I’d joke.

What a difference a year makes!  Now, six days a week, I’m either at Taekwon Do or working out; some days both. I love it and actually get grouchy if something interrupts my schedule.

My journey began with a mixture of trepidation and excitement.

I’m forever grateful that my friend Christine paved the way. Otherwise I may not have had the courage to start.

During my first few classes, I stuck to her like glue. I felt so self conscious.

Following one of my first classes, Mr B, my awesome, 6th degree black belt TKD instructor, and owner of Mr B’s TKD, asked me how I felt.

My response, “Fat, old and awkward…but I had fun.”

I was 43 years old and about 15 pounds over weight. I know that doesn’t sound like much, but on a five foot frame it is!

The following week, Christine couldn’t come to class. I had to go all by myself.

I recall walking up the stairs to class, taking deep breaths and trying to ignore the palpitations in my chest.

I was so nervous. I didn’t know anyone else and I felt like a big, white blob.

I did it anyway! I walked into class and tried not to look to stupid.

Did I mention I have zero coordination, I’m directionally challenged and I don’t follow directions well…yeah…I’m pretty sure I looked stupid.

The whole endeavor was really overwhelming at first.

Commands were spoken in Korean and everyone called each other sir or ma’am.

Worst of all, little miss question authority and buck the system had to learn how to listen, follow orders and not respond in debate. (Umm…yeah…still working on that.) 🙂

In response to one of my frustrated, belittling myself moments, another instructor, Mr Davis, 3rd degree black belt, advised me to be nice to myself.

Those words helped immensely. While I was expecting immediate excellence on my part, he reminded me that everyone there, black belts included, once felt the same way.

A couple of weeks in, the routine and the environment became familiar and I was able to relax and enjoy myself.

Belt testing works on a cycle. Roughly every four months you get the chance to advance.

I began at an off time, so I had only 8 weeks to learn 16 weeks worth of material. I asked Mr B if he thought I could do it and he told me that if I worked hard I would be fine.

I was so in!

Study, practice. Practice, study; determined right from the start.

Pattern, otherwise called “Tul”, frustrated me.

Awkward I felt, yes. (I love Yoda!)

As I watched the higher belts maneuver through their patterns with such accuracy and intensity, I felt like a dandelion, in a meadow of heather.

Three belts later, I’m getting the knack of it.

January 2014. My first belt test.

Now, the thing about testing is…it terrifies me!

I’ve never had test anxiety in my life! One walks into a test with knowledge of material and passes test. Easy peasy.

Testing for belts, for me, is excruciating. Enter performance anxiety.

Sitting at a desk, head down, pencil in hand; piece of cake.

Standing before my instructors and their superiors, hoping to showcase my techniques and manage recitations without blunder or falter…so different.

Somehow I’ve made it through my yellow, green and high green belts without throwing up or passing out; although every time either scenario could play out.

I completely appreciate the importance of testing. It’s grace under pressure. One needs to remain composed and able to respond to any situation. Testing definitely teaches that.

Testing aside…let me expound upon my greatest love…sparring!

It’s the most fun ever! No, really, like EVER!

It’s not mean people trying to hurt each other. It’s like a chess match with gloves on.

I’ll admit, my first forays into sparring weren’t pretty.

I earned the labels “bar-room brawler” and “berzerker”. (Yeah…those are not compliments.)

Refinement…that’s what I’m working on now. Targeting; instead of winging it.

Watching and waiting and predetermining what my opponent will do.

It’s been an amazing and transformative year. I’m so grateful for the forces that guided me where I am today.

I’m physically and mentally stronger than I’ve been in a long time.

I feel content.

I feel like I finally found a place where I really fit in.  😀 2014-10-11 17.48.14

Self Conscious Shopper

I really don’t mind Christmas Shopping. I don’t love it, but I don’t hate it either.

Every year, I swear that I will start early and be done before Thanksgiving. I even made a pact with a co-worker this year that we would both start by September first.

Nicely done Jane!

I failed. It’s mid-December and I’m no where near finished shopping. Am I worried? No. Am I stressed? No.

I guess I’ve adopted a laissez faire attitude about it all. Whatever…the gifts I don’t find will magically transform themselves into gift cards (which most people probably prefer anyway!)

My son and I hit the Yankee Candle store last weekend (“buy 2, get 2 free, coupon” in hand, oh yeaah). After intoxicating ourselves with the scents of numerous candles, we debated over our favorites and checked out.

As we left the store, a nicely-dressed man in his twenties, standing in the opening of the adjoining store, handed me a sample of something.

As a long-time frequenter of fairs and carnivals, I’ve mastered the art of ignoring mid-way squawkers.

I half-turned and said, “Thanks,’ as I took the offering.

“Do you even know what I just handed you?” I heard from behind me.

My response: “Nope.”

Enter salesman. Albeit, not a very bright one!

To paraphrase, ‘It’s a wonderful hand lotion,’ dramatic pause…long, look into my eyes…

(ok, not like a Nicholas Sparks, ‘I’ve just met my soul-mate’ kind of look. More like 3.2 seconds)

Anyway, he then asked what kind of eye cream I use.

My answer: “None.”

Seconds later, I’m sitting in his chair and giving my son the, let’s humor him look.

Einstein squeezed lotion on the webbing between his thumb and index finger and started dabbing it under one of my eyes. To my son he says something to the effect of, ‘You will be the judge.’

While massaging the lotion ever so gently beneath my eye (which felt quite nice actually) he explained how this lotion would remove the fine lines and puffiness under my eyes. SCREECH…did you hear the brakes on that sales pitch?

Really dude? Did you just point out my fine lines and puffy eyes and think I was going to bust out my fine credit cards and puffy wallet to buy hundreds of dollars of your product?

As salesman of the year finished his handiwork, he turned me toward my 14 year-old son (who, by the way, wouldn’t compliment Queen Elizabeth under the duress of Scotland Yard guards). He asked him, “What do you think?”

The look on my son’s face became one of my greatest Christmas presents ever! He was completely perplexed as to how to answer without hurting anyone’s feelings. I could see his, and feel my, giggles bubbling.

I bailed him out. I politely thanked the salesman and told him that I was shopping for others but if I ever needed any “product” I would definitely ask for him.

Yeah, that’ll happen.

Lucky for me there was no immediate, dramatic transformation. How awkward would it have been to continue shopping with only one wrinkle-free, luminous eye?!?

Sorry, I do not have a yummy recipe to share with you today, as I spent the rest of the afternoon scanning the myriad facial creams, lotions and potions in an attempt to recapture my youthful radiance.

Lotions and Potions

This may take a while…
JUST CURIOUS: What must haves are on your snowstorm shopping list?