Monday, January 31, 2011

A Woman's Prerogative...

I know it’s a woman’s prerogative to change her mind. And it comes in very handy for all sorts of reasons and situations. Anytime someone says “that’s not what you said before” we just answer, “I changed my mind, it’s my prerogative!” That’s all it takes, end of story. But women have a variety of other prerogatives we use that we don’t announce, but we all do.

One lesser spoken about, but very often used prerogative, is the “silent treatment.” When a woman is unhappy with something you have said or done, especially if it is her significant other, she will resort to using the silent treatment. This quiet tactic loudly proclaims her anger to the offender. In my case, if I must answer any questions at all, my response is the word “fine.” If you hear too many “fines” without any elaboration, it’s a good sign that things are not “fine.”

Another prerogative that many women use (not me), is to keep a man waiting while she is getting ready to go out. The process of hair and makeup and selecting the right outfit can take hours and cannot be rushed. Any man, with half a brain, will generally learn this early on in the relationship. An intelligent man will wait with patience and tell her she looks beautiful with a sincere look on his face when she is done!

Women are in charge of where objects in the house are placed. Therefore, if a man moves an object, it is the woman’s prerogative to put it back where it belongs, even if he only moved it two inches to the left. A man will never learn the rule “there is a place of everything and everything in it’s place.”

A woman can also express her discontent by “banging” things. If she is doing the dishes and the pots and pans sound extra loud, that is her way of sending a message that she is unhappy. If closet doors are being slammed in rapid succession, like gun shots, a man should run for cover until she has had time to cool down. Then the first words out of his mouth needs to be “I’m sorry for…” and he should be figuring out what he did wrong while he is in hiding. If he apologizes for the wrong thing, that will not go over big.

Women are entitled to go shopping when there is a sale in order to save money! Even if they don’t need anything at all or buy useless items on sale, they consider it saving money. This is a concept that a man never learns, but adapts to if he wants to live in peace.

It is a woman’s prerogative to motivate her man. This means she can verbally remind him of things he is supposed to be doing around the house over and over and over until they get done. Apparently men enjoy being motivated because most of them shirk their household responsibilities regularly which only encourages their women to go into motivation mode very often.

Someone really should write a book on this subject for all men to read. They are so clueless when it comes to women, they need all the help they can get!

Sunday, January 30, 2011

False Friends...

The phrase is self explanatory, it describes a person who “appears” to be a friend, but in reality is not. It’s an oxymoron that goes back to Shakespeare’s play, Richard III, that I read in college.

Those uncles which you want were dangerous;
Your grace attended to their sugar'd words,
But look'd not on the poison of their hearts :
God keep you from them, and from such false friends!
Yes, God protect us from false friends, who act like they have our backs while conspiring behind them. They will turn on you without warning. Time and experience teaches us who are our true friends and who are false friends.

I consider a person a false friend when they show themselves to be deliberately dishonest in any way, lie, or betray a trust. False friends are worse than enemies because you are open and trust them, whereas you are guarded with enemies.

When someone proves to me they were never really a friend, I feel like I have been made a fool of throughout the relationship and I do not hesitate to cut that person off. It’s justified in my opinion.

The social networking sites like MySpace and Facebook encourage us to make new friends and to give them access to our personal information. You can get online and instantly chat with a number of people 24 hours a day. But many people are not what they seem and eventually the truth comes out. Out of all the long lists of friends people have on their page, only a rare few are actually genuine friends, the rest are comparable to acquaintances or people you run into on the street. It’s really becoming a dangerous trend to collect virtual strangers and expose yourself, family and friends to them.

I have my settings all set to “friends only,” but there are still ways people can get around this if they are devious enough. In any case, this concept has now given me pause to think and reconsider those I have on my “friend” list. It’s time to weed out those that I do not interact with, keep the ones I am sure of, and be very selective of who I accept in the future. You may want to consider doing that too.

Saturday, January 29, 2011


I’ve been seeing this word come up often over the past several days and decided to take a closer look into it. Everyone knows gossiping is considered bad behavior and morally wrong, but still it goes on all the time. I gossip and I wanted to know if there have been any studies done on this very prevalent behavior that so many people engage in. Low and behold there have been some done in recent years and they have learned some interesting information from their research.

The scientists have determined that 65% of a person’s conversation could be defined as gossip. Gossip is talking about others and being indiscreet in a private setting so that you can be careful in a public setting. It is done so frequently, as a human behavior, that it is surprising that so little research has been done on it. The fact is that it is very difficult to develop methods to actually study gossip. But, some of the results of these studies were very interesting to me.

“In the past few years psychologists have begun to realize that gossip is more than just idle chatter: It is the key to navigating our social worlds”

Studies show that talking negatively about others is a powerful way to form relationships with others. This applies to both men and women. It was found that positive information shared was usually about objects, while the sharing of negative information tended to be about people. It may not be a question of “should” we behave this way, but “why” we behave this way.

Dr. Frank McAndrew states, “Gossip is not a character flaw, it's a social skill -- an evolutionary mechanism for maintaining social status, hard-wired from our prehistoric past. For most of our evolutionary history, we lived in small groups, where it would be advantageous for an individual to be interested in everyone else in the group -- the good news about our friends and allies, and the bad news about high-ranking individuals and potential rivals." According to the professor, in prehistoric times the passing on of gossip served to make our ancestors survive and prosper. This statement also explains why we are so interested in celebrity gossip. Gossip is also promoted by stressful situations and is a way to release frustration and tension.

Does that mean we should gossip? Not necessarily. It is not always bad for you. “It forges connections, builds trust, provides a means of learning unwritten social norms and offers a way of comparing ourselves with others.” Gossip can actually be healthy.

If you want to know more you can search for Dr Frank McAndrews online. He has been working on the study of this behavior in recent years. The links below are just two of several I found regarding his conclusions.

Friday, January 28, 2011


In my opinion, the first and most basic ingredient to any significant relationship is trust. It’s so important that without it you have nothing. It’s the foundation on which all relationships are built. Some people are more trusting than others, some are more trustworthy than others, and these traits are based on their life experiences. Trust doesn’t happen in an instant, but it builds over time. It can be shattered in an instant and lost forever. It’s fragile. I don’t think it can ever be totally rebuilt again if there is a major breech of trust.

When you trust someone there has to be a certain amount of predictability that make us feel we can depend on this person. Repeated good experiences teach us to feel safe. There has to be a feeling of reciprocity. If you are a good friend to someone in time of need, you should feel that you can count on them to be there for you should the need arise. Most important is that whenever you trust someone you make yourself vulnerable and place yourself at their mercy. Trust necessarily implies intimacy and sharing confidences and involves a certain amount of risk of someone exposing your secrets. Trust should never be taken for granted. It takes a long time to build up. It should be cherished and protected.

A trust can be broken by conscious betrayal, poor judgment, an honest mistake, or a misunderstanding. When a trust is broken it causes pain, disappointment, or loss and it is going to change the relationship or end it. If the violation is extreme, the betrayal too deep, and the pain is too great the chances of regaining trust is nearly impossible. Experiencing a broken trust of some kind in anyone’s lifetime is practically unavoidable.

Restoring trust is about the violated person’s feelings and whether they can regain the confidence they once had in the person who broke their trust. It can take a long time and a lot of forgiveness for them to get past it, if they ever do.

We need to value trust and understand how crucial it is to any relationship.


Thursday, January 27, 2011

Attention-Seeking Adults...

A group of people I have encountered online fall into this category. When adults seek to be the center of attention it is clearly a sign of immaturity. They tend to have low feelings of self-esteem and self-worth and they need reassurance from others. Sometimes they are jealous of the attention others are getting and feel threatened. The there are those who overconfident and full of themselves and think they are entitled to be the center of attention because what they have to say is more important than what anyone else has to say. The world revolves around attention seekers!

As always, curiosity got the better of me so I decided to do a little research on this group of people and found they fall into many specific categories. So many in fact, I started thinking maybe I was in one of them too! Here is a short version of what is in the link below, very interesting:

The suffer is one who makes up or exaggerates illness to manipulate people into giving them sympathy.

The savior causes harm to another person with the intention of “saving” them to appear caring and compassionate, whether they like the person or not.

The rescuer will rush in and rescue someone in trouble and then enjoy the attention showered on them for their actions.

The organizer acts like they are the one in charge who everyone can go to in order to be the center of attention.

The manipulator causes emotional harm by twisting information and using guilt and then claiming they are the victim.

The mind-poisoner tells lies about their target to other people to poison their minds about them.

The drama queen blows up every minor incident a major crisis.

The busy-bee gives a detailed account of all her activities, yet she is always at the computer giving updates.

The feigner is the person when outwitted or challenged to be accountable for their actions, uses denial and cries they are the victim.

There are several other categories mentioned in the article. I know several of these “types” online as well as in real life. Since their emotional level is that of a child, I don’t know whether to be annoyed by their behavior or feel sorry for them. They may not even be aware of why they are so desperately seeking attention.

At least now I have some criteria to categorize them with and I’ll keep my eyes open for their toxic behaviors.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Cryptic Messages...

I have always been a believer in clear communication. I strive to be clear so there are no misunderstandings in getting my point across. If I have something to say to someone and I sense they aren’t getting my complete meaning, I will try to reword the parts I think they missed. This applies when I am speaking verbally or writing messages. I have discovered that because the internet provides more opportunities for written communication, some people have taken to address their issues with other people in cryptic messages.

Cryptic messages are disguised or veiled messages in which you don’t come out and say what you have to say, but instead make it difficult for someone reading it to understand. They don’t name names so you have to be a mind reader to not only decipher the message, but also who they are talking about. It’s mysterious and secretive and only an inner circle of people might pick up on it.

In my opinion, this is a form of passive aggressive behavior. It is also cowardly. If you have something to say to someone just come out and say it. Have a decent conversation and reach an understanding. Don’t use the internet to send cleverly disguised jabs at people. What does that say about you?

I know I am getting a fast lesson in this type of behavior and I don’t like it. I think it’s better to be open or say nothing at all. Instead these people throw a post or message out there, which are disguised insults, and expect the right people to pick up on it. Yet you cannot reply or defend yourself because you are not specifically mentioned, nor can you ask questions or try to understand what is being said.

Cryptic messages are a form of aggression, end of story. It’s a cat and mouse game. They are mind games. And they are played by people who should know better.

What have I decided to do about these messages? I am going to ignore them. They aren’t worthy of my time and consideration. If the person cannot bring themselves to be open and honest with me about what is troubling them, then I certainly am not going to waste my energy on them.

Watch out for cryptic messages. If they are coming from “friends” re-evaluate your relationship.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011


You cannot live a lifetime without running into hypocrites. They are everywhere. They have one set of rules for themselves and another set for everyone else. They act holier than thou and preach about morality, when all the while they are doing the same or worse things that they accuse everyone else of doing. Somehow, when they are doing the very acts they condemn, they have a justification for it that makes it ok.

Everyone knows that hypocrisy is wrong and can spot it immediately when someone else it doing it, they just don’t see it in themselves. They seem to have a special measuring stick whereby their slightly imperfect actions could never be as bad as someone else’s. Even when you point out their flaws, they use rationalization to ease their guilt and distance themselves from the responsibility of what they have done. They point to people who are bigger hypocrites and say “I’m not as bad as they are.” It’s as though finding guiltier parties diminishes the immorality of their own behavior.

I think the majority of us are hypocrites at one time or another. We are human and are born imperfect. We may try to live good, decent lives, but there are going to be times when we slip up and behave badly. What can you do? We can recognize and admit our faults and try to do better. We all start off with good intentions, but then we get off track for whatever reason. Whether we stay off track or get back on track is up to us.

Hypocrites judge others and their behavior. Maybe their time would be better spent taking a closer look at their own behaviors and correcting them. I found this quote:

“Most folks spend far too much time assessing the sins of other people. The fact that people are unable to live perfect lives is not really breaking news. Instead of measuring our lives by what hypocrites do, we need to model our lives after the One who set the perfect example.”

Everyone can improve themselves and strive to be better. There is no need to judge and criticize others in order to make yourself appear more virtuous. There are enough faults to go around, everyone is guilty of some wrong doing at one time or another. It’s what you do about it that counts.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Date Nights...

I have been thinking about date nights for me and my husband for a while now. We seem to have gotten stuck in a routine over the years. Work all week, errands on the weekend, taking care of the girls and chauffeuring them around and taking care of our parents. It doesn’t leave a lot of quality time for us. We don’t seem to have fun doing things any more because something is always in the way. By the time we have a block of time all we want to do is relax at home.

I have heard over and over how couples have to make time to do things together. I guess that’s true if you really want to have a date you have to make an appointment. You also have to have some ideas as to what you want to do or you may end up doing the same thing over and over, like dinner and a movie. After not doing anything for so long almost any idea would be refreshing for me right now. I decided to brainstorm and see if I could come up with at least 12 ideas that would be fun for both of us, and things we used to enjoy too.

1. Dinner and a movie. I don’t remember the last time we did that and when we were dating we did it all the time.

2. Concert. We just went to see Carrie Underwood in November, but that was solely for my pleasure. Before that we went to see Shania Twain seven years ago! Also for my pleasure. When we were dating we went so see people we both enjoyed like Bruce Springstein, Billy Joel and Willie Nelson. I’ll have to see who is touring here and when.

3. Theater. It’s so easy for us to get to the theater district in NYC and I love going to Broadway shows. Yes they are very expensive, but it’s my favorite thing to do in the city. They have a whole street lined with restaurants right there called Restaurant’s Row where you can eat before or after the show.

4. Picnics. Indoors or outdoors, daytime or at night under the stars, food, wine, music.

5. Take a walk across a bridge.

6. Share a banana split at the local ice cream shoppe.

7. Visit a Planetarium.

8. Take a drive to a winery and go on a tour.

9. Go to a ballgame and have hotdogs and beer.

10. An overnight trip to a nearby bed and breakfast.

11. Visit a museum.

12. Get snacks, wine and watch a favorite marathon tv series. Some of ours are The Sopranos, The Honeymooners, and All In The Family.

Okay, there we go, 12 great ideas to start with! Now I just have to make a date and follow through! We better get started before it’s too late.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

21 Days of Dieting…

Yes, It’s been 21 days since I started the 17 Day Diet and I am now in cycle 2. I had to break away from the diet Friday and Saturday because my daughter turned 21 and we were celebrating. I thought I was going to enjoy eating that fried shrimp, fried mozzarella sticks, and chips with salsa at Chilis. I started out enjoying it, but then it didn’t seem to matter. I was too busy thinking about all the fat and salt every bite had and how hard I had worked to detox myself of all that.

The next morning, despite eating a huge meal the night before, I woke up hungry! That hasn’t happened the whole time I was on the diet menu. That was another wakeup call to me. Eating the right foods is definitely doing something. I don’t feel hungry, I have more energy, and I am enjoying my food. I can drink all the water…all 8 cups of it! It really works.

Today is my weigh-in day and I am afraid to look at the damage from my straying from the diet. I’ll go weigh myself now, and report the numbers. So far I started at 134 and after 14 days was at 128. Today, the reliable Wii shows me that I am at 126.5, a loss of 1.5 pounds this week (maybe more if I put on water weight)! Total loss 7.5 pounds since day 1.

Ok so now that I have tried this diet I am hooked on it. It’s working better than I imagined and I do not feel deprived. I don’t even want all the junk food I used to eat. This was a great way to start off the new year!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

In Good Times and In Bad…

True friends stick with you in good times and in bad times. For better or for worse. For richer, for poorer. In sickness and in health.

Just like the marriage vows, a true friend can be counted on to be at your side when you need them the most. In fact, considering today’s divorce rate, a true friend may be there long after your spouse is gone. We all have fair weather friends who are only too glad to be there when things are great and then suddenly get busy when you need to lean on them for support. These are the same ones who will usually expect you to drop everything when they need you for something too.

We don’t have too many true friends in life. People are too absorbed with their own lives, problems, or themselves to want to be burdened or bothered with more issues from a friend. There are even some whose lives are nearly perfect and don’t want to mess it up with someone else’s trials and tribulations. So when you find someone who is willing to listen and be there for you, you have really been blessed. It’s especially wonderful when the support and encouragement is reciprocated.

I don’t know how many times I have heard different friends say to me, “I didn’t want to tell you because you have enough of your own problems.” The real test, the real meaning of being a friend is being there when you are needed the most, not just to share jokes, shopping tips or complain about work. I know, from my own experience, how much a friend can help you get through the most difficult life experiences, just by allowing me to talk or offering me some good, objective advice. They can talk you through a rough time and make you come out whole on the other side. If my friends didn’t come to me in times of trouble, I would feel bad to go to them when I needed support. It’s all about give and take. One day I am helped through a stressful time, and the next day I help my friend get through theirs. That’s what it’s all about. And hopefully, when enough time passes, we can look back at those times and laugh or just appreciate the fact that someone cared enough to stand by us, and hold our “hand” and listen with compassion.

A true friend wants to be there for you. You just have to let them be there.  Listen to this!

Friday, January 21, 2011

My Daughter Turns 21 Today...

Today my younger daughter, Lauren, turns 21. My mind is swimming with a million memories and I can’t think of anything else to write about. I remember the day she was born like it was yesterday. It was a Saturday night, around 9 PM when I felt the first signs of discomfort as I watched The Golden Girls with my husband and older daughter. By the time it was 9:30 there was no mistaking the discomfort for labor pains. They were getting pretty intense, my body was shaking. After calling the doctor and dropping my older daughter at my mother’s, we headed for the hospital. I told the nurse to please make sure the doctor gets to the hospital soon because my babies come fast. Five hours of excruciating labor pains later she was born. I was groggy from whatever was in the IV. I saw her, but I was out of it. I told my husband, who was holding her, make sure you memorize her face so we’ll know if they mix her up with another baby!

She was always a sweet and lovable baby. She kept herself amused and loved her big sister. I knew they would have a special bond from the moment I brought her home. I laid the baby on the couch and my older daughter said something. Immediately the baby turned towards her voice. That bond remained throughout their childhood.

Lauren has always brought us joy and happiness. She has always been quiet and shy, but many times the things she says are very funny. I was very touched one day, when she brought her autograph book home from middle school. I was expecting to see all the silly rhymes and sayings you see in every autograph book. Instead, I read page after page of warm sentiments from all her friends. They spoke of what a good person she was, how she helped them, and how much they would miss her after graduation. She always seemed to touch people’s hearts in her own quiet way, even her peers. Reading that little book brought tears to my eyes.

She has always conducted her life in ways that have filled us with pride. She is not a complainer. She accepts what life throws at her and deals with it like a trooper. As a student, she has always excelled in all her classes. She works hard, studies and tries her best. She graduated high school in the top 7% of her class, got a half scholarship to college and is an honor student in a very difficult Medical Technology Program. She is now a junior with 18 months to go before graduating. I am amazed when I look at her textbooks and notes. The material not only seems impossibly difficult, but there is so much of it. She spends time studying every day, including weekends. It’s not fun for her, but she does it so she can graduate and have a career. She is focused. She is amazing!

Her disposition is always even, she never argues. She has always done whatever I have asked of her. She is every mother’s dream daughter, but she is mine. I have been blessed to have given birth to her, to love her, to watch her grow every day into the young woman she is today. I know that she will continue to touch other people’s lives and they will love her because she has the sweetest nature. But, she is my heart. There isn’t anything I wouldn’t do for her.

Happy 21st Birthday Lauren! I hope this day and this year are as special as you are. There is no one like you in this world. I love you with all my heart.


Thursday, January 20, 2011

Toxic Friends...

I think we have all had or have toxic friends in our lives at one time or another. The more women I talk to the more and more common this seems to be. It got me curious enough to do a little research on the subject, and there is a ton of information out there about it.

Toxic friends are friends who drain you physically, mentally, emotionally and even financially. They are selfish/self-centered, demanding, unsupportive, needy, and controlling. The friendship becomes unbalanced, with all the giving on one side and all the taking on the other. They start to make you feel bad, anxious and full of dread when they call. And when they become toxic enough, it will start to affect your health, your family, your work and just about everything else. That’s when the friendship is no longer really a friendship and something needs to be done, and you need to do it.

I read that toxic friends fall into various categories. See if any of these sound familiar: The Promise-Breaker, The Double-Crosser, The Self-Absorbed, The Discloser, The Competitor, and the Fault Finder. There are as many types of toxic friends as there are flavors of Baskin Robbins ice cream. None of them are good for us. Maybe with a little research you can pinpoint what type your “friend” is and learn what you can do about it. I will post the links I found below, but there are many more.

How can you save yourself? We all feel bad about being in toxic relationships, but we still hesitate to end them because that makes us feel like we are “bad” people and are letting our friend down. There are steps you can take, also outlined online, to try to “fix” and/or end the relationship. First you have to realize it’s toxic for you. When you realize that then you become partly responsible for allowing it to continue if you do nothing. A good place to start is setting boundaries and do what is good for you, instead of what is good for your “friend.”

You can also discuss your situation with other women who can give you some insight and suggestions on how to handle the relationship. You can talk to your toxic friend and explain how her behavior is affecting you and if you feel she needs professional help, suggest that she see someone. If everything you try fails, then as hard as it is, you may have no choice but to end the relationship.

It’s not easy, I know. I went through it. I had reached a point where instead of feeling joy when the phone rang and it was her, I felt dread and a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach. I anguished over what to do for months until I really could not take it another day. I tried to talk to her about it for months, but she kept putting me off because she didn’t want to hear what I had to say. She let it fester inside me until I had reached my limit. It took months for me to get to that point and months afterwards to heal from ending the relationship. I had to do it for my health, the stress was too much. I did it for my family, it was affecting my ability to be a good wife and mother. I came out ok on the other side and maybe I can even talk about it without crying now.

If you are struggling with a toxic relationship, give it some thought, read about it online, talk to other women and do something about it. Friendships should be balanced, not lopsided. They should make you feel good, not drained. There should be give and take on both sides, not just one.

Toxic friends are poisonous to our well being. And, don’t kid yourself, the stress of such a relationship can really affect your health. Don’t you deserve better?

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Dress Your Age....

Cosmetic surgery and botox are the only things women are doing to “look” younger. Many of them also do not dress their age. Some brag that they share certain clothes with their daughters (who are sometimes teenagers). I even saw a commercial where the daughter is asking her mother if she has seen her new green shirt. The mother pauses, has a flashback memory to being out with her friends and wearing the missing shirt. She tells the daughter she hasn’t seen it and then promptly goes to the laundry to wash it and return it.

I don’t understand how so many people cannot see what I see when they look in the mirror. If looking look is so important to you, why wear things that make you look ridiculous? My daughters would never dream of shopping in the Misses Department, at least not yet. They would rather die than wear anything from my closet. I could not fit into anything from their closets! There is a difference in the style of “youthful” clothing and more “mature” garments. Most women should dress their age, it would certainly make them look more attractive. And, clothing is not going to make anyone look younger any more than a cheap toupee makes a bald man look like he has real hair.

Now there are exceptions to every rule, even this one. I have seen women who really take care of themselves. They exercise, eat right and have bodies to die for. They take such good care of themselves they can look years younger than they really are (even without surgery). In that case, more youthful clothing styles may actually look becoming on them. They can pull it off. If fact these women have it made because they can have the best of both clothing worlds. A woman who is in great physical shape can even pull off wearing a potato sack and look great! Unfortunately, this is not the category I am in (yet).

An older woman, who is out of shape and thinks she looks good by dressing younger is only fooling herself. She is actually getting the opposite reaction from the one she is hoping for. No one is going around saying how great or young she looks. People are probably rolling their eyes and commenting on how silly something looks on her. I think it only serves to emphasize how old she actually is. I would be embarrassed and humiliated if it was me and yet they walk around proud as peacocks.

The days of sundresses and halter tops are long gone for me. Even if I am in tip top condition and a size two, I know not to try to pull that look off. I just wish other women would use a little common sense and a full length mirror when they get dressed.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

You Can’t Please Everyone…

“But it’s all right now, I learned my lesson well.
Ya see you can’t please everyone, so ya got to please yourself.

Ricky Nelson

These words have struck a cord with me for many years. Maybe it’s because for as long as I can remember I have been in the people pleasing business. It started from the very beginning, with wanting to please my parents. As a toddler I had to eat all my food, as a child I had to behave and obey the rules, from the moment I set foot in school I had to have good grades. My parents were pleased with me for the most part, except when PMS kicked in and then I was a “bat out of hell.” My teachers loved me.

Then I got a job and gave it my all. My employer rewarded me with raises and promotions. After a few years I got married and was set on making my husband happy. I cooked all his favorite meals until his cholesterol went sky high and then changed his diet to bring it down again. I kept the house clean and the laundry was always done and it didn’t matter because he was so easy to please. Three years later we decided to start a family and my first daughter was born.

Having a baby changes who you are. You are now a mother with a huge responsibility. This little life you brought into the world depends on you for everything. I had waited so long for this moment. I had my babies on a schedule for eating and sleeping from day one. We went to places that were baby friendly for vacation. We did things around their schedules. They were always happy babies. And, as they got older, I tried to be there for them in every way. Even today, they know they can count on me and I still try to make their lives easier, especially when I see them struggling or going through a rough time. You never stop being a mother.

But, as I got into my forties and the girls were more and more independent, I started thinking about “me” and what would I like to do for myself. Because, as hard as I tried to please everyone all my life, no one really was 100% happy with me. There were always some complaints or grumbling. When you try to please people all the time, their expectations grow and grow until they become unreasonable. And then what happens is, the first time you can’t quite fulfill a request or do what you normally do, there is hell to pay. No excuse is good enough. Everything you’ve done before is “forgotten” and only this one incident is remembered. And you start to think, why am I even bothering trying to make everyone happy, it can’t be done. I am going to start pleasing myself and then I can be sure at least one person will be happy! It works.

I accomplished this new outlook by making friends to go out with, not just “mom” friends. I went back to school and took college classes for the fun of it! I was still able to fulfill all my other roles, but I added a new role to my list…I became my own best friend. Some people think that is a self thing to do, when in fact it is quite the opposite. By taking care of your own needs, you have more to give to those you love. You are happier and healthier.

And, after all, isn’t our happiness just as important as anyone else’s?

Monday, January 17, 2011

The Shoemaker...

Today my daughter was complaining about the heels on her new boots wearing out. They don’t make anything like they used to. It took her a long time to find a pair she liked and now they weren’t even going to last throughout the winter. Then it occurred to me that there was a shoemaker/repair store where I used to live. The old man in there used to take care of all the shoes in my family as I was growing up. Every new pair of shoes found its way there to have taps placed on the toe an heel so the shoes would last longer. The shoemaker repaired the heels and soles of many of my father’s shoes over the years. As we got closer to the location of the store, I saw it wasn’t there any more. Well, that wasn’t a big surprise, but it was disappointing. The art of repairing shoes is old world and doesn’t fit in with our wasteful mentality of throwing everything out after a little wear or if it is out of style. Suddenly, my husband announces that he remembers seeing a shoe repair place in our neighborhood a few blocks from our house.

My daughter and I enter the store, the boots still on her feet. It was like stepping into a time machine and being sent back in time 150 years. Everywhere you looked there are old, used shoes and up on the wall were the famous “orange” tickets you get when you drop a pair off a pair of shoes for repair. Overhead we see a sign, shoes repaired while you wait. The old man comes out and asks if he can help us. He is definitely an immigrant from some European country. A very old radio is blasting news in a foreign language. I tell my daughter to take off her boot and show him the worn and damaged heel. He points to the sole and with a look of disgust says, this is too thin! I take a look and see it is far too thin and with a few more wears will probably have a hole in it. For $22 he will fix both heels and both soles. I agree and we wait while he takes both boots to the back to work on them for 30 minutes. Out he comes with the finished boots and just as I remembered the other shoemaker doing, he turns both boots over for us to examine the quality of his craftsmanship. They are better than new now. But still, it irks me that they had to be repaired so soon and they weren’t worth the money she paid for them.

I had forgotten about that little store we visited years ago. It’s too bad that this shoe repairing craft will soon be extinct. There will no longer be shoe repair shops with little old men, with foreign accents, who bring old shoes back to life. I was glad my daughter got to see the inside of his store and hear my stories of the past. It was a little glimpse for her into the world from where my parents and I came many years ago.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Common Courtesy, Where Did it Go?

My parents weren’t big on teaching us manners as we grew up. We learned our social graces from watching the behavior of others and treating others the way you would want them to treat you. I don’t know anything about what is in Emily Post’s book on manners. I don’t know what side of the dish the forks and spoons go. I don’t know if it is polite or not to be fashionably late if you are invited somewhere. I don’t know about how many days you have to wait before writing thanks you notes for gifts. But there are a few things I do know that I consider to be common courtesy.

If someone calls you on the phone and leaves a message, you should return the call in a reasonable amount of time. If you have an appointment to meet someone have the courtesy to call if you are going to be late or can’t make it and do not stand them up. If you tell someone you are going to do something for them, do it or tell them you changed your mind, don’t keep them waiting forever. If someone is walking out a door behind you, hold the door open for them. I can’t help but notice that there is less and less common courtesy everyday and it’s very disappointing the lack of respect and consideration that people have for other people’s feelings by not doing the right thing. It’s really all about consideration.

What brings this to my mind today is something specific that happened which still has me perplexed. I will never be able to figure people out. Even people that should know better, don’t. They leave you hanging or cut you off without warning or explanation and for no obvious reason.

I think I will try to make this a learning experience for myself and just try to be a little more mindful of how what I do or don’t do may affect others. I like to think I already do treat people with common courtesy, but maybe I can improve on it.

I wouldn’t want to make anyone feel like I am feeling right now.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Gratitude Journals...

Once, when I was watching Oprah, she did show where they talked about writing gratitude journals. It goes back many years when Sarah Ban Breathnach wrote the book Simple Abundance back in 1996 for women. I got the book and it all makes perfect sense if you, as a woman in all your many roles, have time for yourself. Many of us would love that, but even when we try to do it, our plans are sabotaged by life. There is always a crisis calling out our name and we have to drop everything and take care of it. But, one thing I was able to try was the suggestion of writing a “gratitude journal.” Every day you set five minutes aside, before bedtime, to think about your day and write down five things you are most grateful for that happened that day.

These five things can be tiny things we take for granted, like having the perfect cup of coffee that morning, the sun is out, you got your nails done, an unexpected call from an old friend; or they can be bigger things like a raise in salary or a promotion, you bought yourself a new handbag, you lost 5 pounds on a diet. It can be anything at all. Just write them down every day and this is supposed to help us become more positive in our thinking. Many people vouch about it’s positive effects. It’s been too long ago for me to remember if it helped me at all. But, the idea popped into my head this morning when I was thinking about what to write.

I am trying to improve myself physically, with diet and exercise, but I also want to improve my attitude, my relationships, and my life. This little daily exercise promises not only to make me a more positive person, but also to attract positive things to my life! Who can resist that when it takes so little effort and time to record the things that make me happy in any given day?

Just a few minutes of focusing on the positive is supposed to reduce stress. I am all for that! It is supposed to help with depression. That sounds good to me. And rereading journal entries when you are having a bad day is supposed to help you cope and remind you of all the good things you have going for you. It teaches you to appreciate all the little things we tend to take for granted and to recognize them when we experience them throughout the day.

They say if you keep a journal for two to three weeks you will begin to notice the difference in your outlook. Well, I think that is what I am going to do next. What can it hurt? Before signing off the computer every night, I will think about my day and write down five or more things that I am grateful for and see what happens. Maybe, I will report back here in a month and let you know if I noticed anything, one way or the other, happening with me or my life. I have nothing to lose but five minutes a day. Maybe you want to try it too and we can compare notes?

I am all for being positive, less stressed and happier. After all, when I started this blog it was supposed to be about one year of peeves and complaining and now look at me. Somehow, even by writing this negative blog, I seem to have become more positive. Isn’t that ironic? Imagine what a positive gratitude journal can do for me?

I have decided to post all my Gratitude Journal entries here for now in the comments section!

Friday, January 14, 2011

I’m A Nurturer…

I always knew I wanted to be a mother as far back as I can remember. I think it started around age five. I was just a baby, but I felt a strong desire to take care of babies. That desire never left me. Maybe I should have had more children than the two I have, but I got a late start and then life circumstances made things a little more complicated, so I only had two. But, my instincts to nurture are so strong that they seem to extend to anyone that crosses my path. Anyone with a problem, a question, a need to talk…I am right on it, I can’t help myself. I need to help people and maybe if I hadn’t confused that with maternal instincts, I might have chosen a career path that was well suited to this natural gift I seem to have been given.

Tears come to my eyes this morning as all the compliments I have been paid the past few weeks hit me. I am told I am the “voice of reason,” I bring “serenity,” I “inspire,” I “motivate,” I “care,” I’m “positive,” I’m “funny,” I’m “sweet.” I never see myself that way. And all this mostly from people who have only known me a few weeks at most. And because I have been hearing such kind words, it made me realize something about me that not quite seen before. For me, I just chalked it all up to being a “good friend.” That’s what friends do right? They jump in and rescue you when you are drowning and extend a hand to pull you up? They stay by your side, they tell you the truth you need to hear, they show compassion, they give you guidance, they love you, they nurture you, they support and encourage you. That is me in a nutshell. I’m not bragging either. I can list dozens of examples during my lifetime of having done one or more of those things. I’m not even sure, thinking back, if it’s something I have done every day, but right now it seems like it.

People seem so appreciative of me. I’m happy I affect them in a positive way because I have always considered myself a negative person. But I must have been wrong because the messages that keep coming back to me are consistently telling me I am a “positive” person. It’s changing my self image.

Sometimes people will feel like they are burdening me with their problems by coming to me. Nothing could be further from the truth. By coming to me they allow me to fill this need inside to help. I’m like the story of the guy who walks along the beach throwing starfish into the ocean…he can’t save all the starfish, but he can make a difference in the lives of those he throws back into the water. I just want to make a difference, regardless of how small, in the lives of those people I touch. I don’t even do it consciously. I am just being me doing what comes naturally.

Here is the whole starfish story:

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Going Back In Time...

I often think, if I could turn back the clock, what would I change? I’ve lived maybe two thirds of my life, maybe more, and what have I accomplished? I’ve had a fairly ordinary, but blessed life. I was a straight A student, worked for 10 years, married and then became a stay-at-home mom to two girls for the past 24 years. That is the sum total of my life. One sentence. Have I lived up to my full potential, been successful, done anything memorable? No, not really. So, would I go back in time and change anything?

The answer is yes.

I have been content with my life. I was blessed with two loving parents who raised me to appreciate family, provided me with security and unconditional love. I have been blessed with one brother, who would drop everything in a heartbeat if I needed him. I have been blessed with a saint for a husband, who never has told me no when I ask for something; who works long hours at a job he detests to support his family while he dreams of early retirement; who has been at my side through thick and thin from the moment we met and has never let me down or raised his voice to me in anger. I have been blessed with two beautiful daughters; loving, compassionate, intelligent and morally grounded young women that have made me proud from the day they were born; and who I love more than life itself. So with so much to be grateful for, what would I change?

Myself. If I could go back in time, I would change myself. I would be a better daughter, a better sister, a better wife, a better mother. When I look back on my lives, I may think I was doing the best I could at the time with what I knew. But, maybe, just maybe, I could have done more or done things differently. The truth is I know there are many times I fell short in being there for my family. I regret it, but I cannot go back and change it. But, that was then and this is now.

So as I walk on my treadmill everyday, I will reflect on the past a little and focus on the future a lot. I want to find the things I am passionate about and act on them. I want to help my daughters find what they are passionate about and help them find direction in their lives so that one day, when they look back, there is very little they will want to change and not nearly so much wasted time to regret. I have the wisdom of life experiences I would like to impart to them when they are ready to listen.

As I try to improve of myself physically and enter this next phase of my life, I am contemplating how to improve myself in other meaningful ways. Too much time has been lost, but maybe the best is yet to be.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Feel Good. Be Yourself!

Every place we look in the media women are portrayed as thin and sexy. But when you look around in the real world how many women like that do you really see? Make up on and dressed to the nines while they shop at the grocery store or drop kids off at school? When you look in magazines, even the most beautiful pictures of many women/celebrities are “airbrushed” to remove every imperfection, including weight. We are not seeing “real” women, we are seeing illusions or artistic creations. Perfect hair, perfect makeup, perfect shape…every detail accounted for and fixed. And that is not taking into account any plastic surgery they may have had. We can’t look to these ideal representations as something to aspire to. In reality, these celebrities do not even look like their own pictures. If we pass them on the street, we might not even recognize them without their daily makeovers.

So what is my point? I think we are real women in every sense of the word, and we are beautiful from head to toe. But, we are made to feel less than and insecure because of our culture. I wonder how many of us actually look better than those celebrities if they were stripped down to their natural selves? I think we would be surprised.

I hear so many every day women online say they aren’t happy with their weight, their looks, their hair and yet when I see their pictures I think they are beautiful. I am perplexed as to why so many of us think we need improving? We don’t. Most people can stand to lose a few pounds, but being a little overweight doesn’t diminish our beauty or change who we are. It might affect our health or self image, and if so we can remedy that. But basically I think we should be happy with who we are. I have always been content with myself. I am no raving beauty, never was even in my best days. But whenever I have looked in the mirror, I was always happy with the person looking back at me. Real beauty should not be defined by what is on the outside, but by what is on the inside. We have heard that a million times, but we don’t take it to heart. We should. We need to.

When I was younger, I always wanted straight hair. My hair has a natural wave and curl to it. I would have to undergo expensive chemical treatments to straighten it and it’s not worth it. Instead, I look for hairstyles that compliment the kind of hair I have. I have accepted that I will never have straight hair and I might not even look better with straight hair. I have adopted the “natural” is the way to go approach to looks, not just for me, but for everyone. We should embrace our natural beauty, not seek ways to change it so we fit some “ideal” image.

Be yourself inside and out! Feel good about who you are. Let the people who love you be your mirror, they reflect back to you all you are to them. We can see our beauty in and through their eyes. There is where you will see the “real” you.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011


Yesterday I discovered how out of shape I am. No, it wasn’t a secret, but still I was able to stay in denial a little bit about it. I was so proud of myself for walking on the treadmill at 3mph for 20 minutes too. But, then I tried the DVD exercises from the 17 Day Diet. That lasted about 2 or 3 minutes. I was using 3 pound weights, today my arms ache. I wouldn’t care if I had gone through the entire 17 minutes, but two to three minutes? I only lifted the damn things about a half dozen times. I will have to go back to the one pound weights, if I can handle that!

The problem is, every time I do something physical I hurt myself. My lower back is already a chronic pain, and I am working on that. But, if I carry groceries home from the store I shouldn’t get a case of tennis elbow from that, yet I did. And, if I sneeze I shouldn’t sprain my neck from that, but it happened (luckily it only lasted that day). And, if I lift a three pound weight, my upper arms should not be aching, especially if it was only six times.

I could get discouraged. The old me of 2010 would have thrown in the towel and gone back to sulking. But, this is the new me of 2011! If I have to condition my body before launching into a real exercise program, then that’s what I will do. I will do the warm up exercises two or three times until my body gets limber. I can do that for a few days while I add a second session on the tread mill as my second exercise. It took a long time for my body to deteriorate and I shouldn’t expect it to bounce right back without a little TLC.

I have pretty much adjusted to the diet so I can now focus on toning up. I always have my Richard Simmons “Sweating To The Oldies” to fall back on. Maybe I should take those out and use them to condition myself back to normal? It’s so exhausting getting old, but I’m not ready to throw in the towel just yet. I’m going to keep trying, stay positive, and accomplish what I set out to do. By the time I see my doctor in May, I want her to see the new and improved version of me!

Today is my last day of Physical Therapy for my back. I will see if my back improves with regular exercise because the PT really didn’t help too much. If I need to go back I’ll wait until winter is over, because today we are expecting yet another blizzard. I’ve reach the end of my rope with snow too!

Maybe this is all a plot to make me move to a retirement home in Florida?

Monday, January 10, 2011

Getting Rid of Clutter!

My house is full of clutter. After 22.5 years of living here I am now drowning in it. It creates chaos, not only in the house but in my mind. I keep talking about throwing everything out, just like I talked about going on a diet and exercising. Well today I filled up four trash bags! Everyday I am going to fill up bags, until every useless item is gone. By the end of 2011 I hope to be rid of everything I will never use again and then start looking for a new place to live.

I would love to move out of this house and start over with everything new. New furniture, new curtains, new carpeting, new appliances…I think I deserve it too. If I won the lottery today, I would find a deserving family and give them the house with everything in it except for our personal items. Doesn’t even have to be a huge lottery, maybe a half million, just enough to buy another place and fix it up.

I have to figure out what kind of residence suits me best. I’d like something maintenance free. A house is a lot of work. A condo forces you to live with other people that can cause you grief, but if there are building problems they are taken care of for you. I thought about a mother-daughter house too. I have two daughters and maybe one of them would like the comfort and convenience of living at home, but with her own private apartment. But if they both decide to move out on their own I am stuck not only with a house, but an extra apartment which I will not rent.

I also have to decide where I want to live. Should I stay in the same neighborhood where everything is familiar to me or move some place else. And if it’s someplace else, where? I don’t want to have to move ever again, so it’s a big decision. I would like for my husband and I to retire early so we could live in peace, doing the things we enjoy doing. We have spent all of the years we have been married trying to make our parents and children happy and now it’s our time. We are still younger enough to enjoy life and travel or pursue our interests.

So, as I lose weight (three pounds so far this first week), I will also get rid of clutter and plan for the future. Hopefully, it will all work out the way I need it too.

If you have any suggestions for my dilemma, I am all ears!

Here’s to scaling down!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Another Senseless American Tragedy…

Warning: I plan to discuss Sarah Palin, so if that offends you please skip today’s blog. Thank you.

I am very angry about the senseless shooting that occurred yesterday in Tucson, Arizona. Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords was shot in the head and 18 people were shot, six of those killed by a 22 year old, “troubled” young man. I never heard of Congresswoman Giffords before yesterday’s shooting and as I read about it and watched a video she was on in March of last year, I saw a young, intelligent, well spoken, dedicated public servant who, in my opinion, came across as so impressive as to have real potential to become President of this country one day. Instead, she lays in a hospital in critical condition, from a bullet that went through her head.

As I searched to learn more about Congresswoman Giffords, I saw a few things that more than disturbed me. Her poor father was asked if she had any enemies, to which he tearfully replied “the whole tea party.” I also learned that after she signed the health reform bill, the door to her office had been shattered, possibly by people who were against it. And then, I came across a map of the United States from Sarah Palin’s website, that had been up a long while. Across the map several democrats were “targeted” with circles and inside those circles were two shotguns criss-crossed to form an “X.” Right after the shooting occurred, Sarah Palin removed her map. Do I think she meant for Ms. Giffords to be shot and killed? No. Do I think her hateful rhetoric is totally irresponsible and that she “may” be unintentionally inciting people to commit acts of violence? Yes I do.

I recall during the last Presidential election, that she made many “hateful” remarks on the campaign trail. So much so, that President Obama’s life was threatened in public and John McCain had to address and condemn those kind of remarks. And even the US Secret Service blamed her rhetoric for the increase in death threats against Obama during the 2008 election.

I know we do not have all the facts concerning this shooting as yet. We do not know if the shooter was influenced by Palin at all or was just acting out of his own mental issues. The fact remains that this type of hateful talk can very easily create or lead to more tragedies of this nature. Sarah Palin was told that her “map” was being interpreted and construed as militant, but she would not remove it…until yesterday’s tragedy.

After the election she said we need to work together for the good of the country, but she has her own personal agenda. I do hope they get to the bottom of what motivated the killer that day, whether or not it had anything to do with politics. This event should serve as a warning of what can happen when politics is taken to an extreme, when influential and powerful people use hateful rhetoric, and when disturbed individuals interpret those hateful words in a mindset that is not reality based.

Now that I’ve vented my anger I will focus on prayers for all the victims and their families and hope that something good can somehow come out of this senseless tragedy.

For your information links for:
US Blames Palin for Obama Death Threats:
Gifford's video from one year ago
Sarah Pali's "target" map

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Body Language, Internet and Texting!

Body language speaks volumes, and I know because I come from an Italian family and, as everyone knows, Italians are known for using hand gestures or "talking with their hands." I couldn't help but notice that when my Italian grandparents argued, disagreed, or were expressing affection, they were a lot more animated. I always knew what they were saying and how they were feeling from their body language. No translation was necessary when my grandfather ate something he thought was delicious. He would make a hand gesture that resembles a "pistol" and put the pointer finger to his cheek rotating the thumb up and down a couple of times. If he pointed that "pistol" gesture outward and rotated it back and forth, it meant there isn't any more of something, such as pasta. If he asked me if I wanted a drink, he would make a "thumbs up" gesture and the thumb would be directed towards his mouth in two or three fast motions. So I learned at a very early age about using nonverbal signs in order to communicate.

Body language and gestures are an important part of communication and sometimes even reveal things about us that we are reluctant to say. Without body language there might be a lack of communication or a lot more miscommunication of messages, feelings and moods. You might have to use more words to help people understand how you are feeling. Facial expressions often tell a lot about how a person feels without them having to say a word. Some of the obvious feelings that are often conveyed this way are: sadness, happiness, fear, anger, and surprise. Another way we communicate without words is through our eyes. Direct eye contact is a good way to show interest in someone or what they are saying. It may be a sign of self confidence or good self esteem. If a person looks down or away when you ask them a question, it may be sign that he is lying, ashamed or guilty of something. However, someone who finds it hard to maintain direct eye contact may be also be shy or lack self confidence. A person’s body posture is also revealing. The way you sit or stand may say things about a person such as whether he is tense or relaxed or whether he is confident or insecure. Hand gestures are often used to express or emphasize how we feel. In our culture, everyone is familiar with expressing extreme anger by giving someone the middle finger or using clenched fists, wringing of the hands to express nervousness or worry, twiddling one’s thumbs when one is bored, and giving a thumbs up or high five to celebrate an event. What would happen if suddenly all nonverbal means of communicating were gone?

There is a large community of people who cannot use any form of body language in their communication. I am referring to the online community. Everyday people all over the world have conversations in chat rooms and instant messages where words are the only means of communication. Even on the telephone you can hear a person’s tone of voice and detect some emotion. But online there is no visual or auditory way of knowing how a person feels when he makes a statement. During internet communication and even cell phone texts, messages are being sent without the accompanying body language that exists with normal, face-to-face conversation. These forms of communication are rapidly becoming more popular. Body language is used to emphasize, repeat, make clear, and even add information to a statement or it can even be used as a substitute for words. Without body language, a critical part of communication is missing. For example, if a person types the message, “I hate my job!” we don’t know if that is true because we can’t see if the person is winking, is laughing, is frowning, or is angry. It would require many more words of explanation to really know what they mean. Another example of the importance of body language is when you are trying to tell someone bad news, such as they have body odor. In face-to-face conversation they can see by your body language how concerned you are about hurting their feelings and how difficult it may be for you to get the words out. Online all they see is the dreaded message and not how you agonized over saying it. That would make a big difference on how the message is received. A face-to-face conversation should have a better outcome. An online conversation may lead to greater hurt feelings because of the lack of emotion and cold delivery of the message. In fact, the online community misses body language so much that they have tried to compensate for the lack of it with emoticons such as J and various acronyms such as LOL (Laughing Out Loud) to express their feelings and moods.

Overall, the absence of body language would definitely hurt the human race’s ability to communicate in an effective and meaningful way. When our words are accompanied by body language their message is greatly enhanced and better understood. Body language, even without being accompanied by words, can speak volumes.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Family Trees...

In 1977 Alex Haley’s “Roots” became a miniseries on television. My brother and I watched every episode and loved it. But even after watching it, we could not shake the value of finding the roots of our own family. Someday I would have children and I would want them to know where they came from, the relatives who might be long gone before their arrival, and those who they might meet but would never remember as they got older.

My brother started asking questions and information from our parents. He got the names of our ancestors for as far back as they could remember, which was a little easier for us since our parents were first cousins and our tree was a little one sided. He got the names of all the relatives they could remember, including dates of birth, marriage and death and when they came to this country from Sicily. He put everything on charts and it looked quite impressive. But, he didn’t stop there. He sent away for birth certificates, death certificates, marriage certificates and passenger lists of the ships that brought our grandparents and their children here. We didn’t computers back then so he really did a great job collecting documents. He even wrote to the church in Sicily to get some of these documents from there. My father was born there and our parents married there.

By the time I married in 1983, he had a very impressive collection of facts and documents and he had made copies of everything for me. It was then that I decided to record all the oral history we had heard for years at family get-togethers and holidays. So many things had been discussed over the years and would be lost if not written down. I started with a list of all the family members and ancestors I had heard anything and those I knew personally while growing up. It was a labor of love. I wrote every night for days and included every little detail of every story I could remember. If I forgot something or needed my memory refreshed, my mother was only too happy to fill in the blanks. But, I didn’t forget much. These stories lived inside of me and just poured out on the blank page like water from a pitcher. When I was done, my words added flesh to the body of information my brother had collected.

We got two family tree books from Barnes & Noble. They were very inexpensive. We entered all our information on the new, crisp pages of our books. I typed up our oral history. It was quite and impressive piece of work. My husband saw and heard us working on this project and he decided to try to document his family tree for our children as well. He sent for documents here and in Europe. He wrote to Malta for information on his mother and her side of the family, because they were born there. He wrote to Austria to try to get information on his father’s side. He got passenger lists for when his mother and her family came to this country. And, he asked his parents questions and got as much information as he could on names and dates. It was very exciting for him to see the wealth of information he collected and he transferred all his information onto charts too.

In third grade, my daughter was assigned a project for the year, to create her family tree! We took out all the documents and oral history. We found pictures of the relatives mentioned. We took pictures of her grandfather’s medals from WWII and her grandmother’s jewelry that had become family heirlooms that she would one day inherit. She made up questions and interviewed all four of her grandparents to included in her album. The project was fun, she learned a lot about her family that year and I have to say her project was the best. They had a year-end luncheon at the school and displayed the class’ work for all the parents to see.
I always say we are a product of our experiences, and we are. But, we are also a product of those who came before us. I am so glad my brother and I decided to act on our impulses and went out to gather and record all this information. We will now leave my girls, their children and all future generations a legacy of family history that would have surely been lost.

It’s a new year, a time for new beginnings. Maybe there will be time to search out “old” beginnings of your family?  You will never be sorry you did, it’s a rich and rewarding experience. And, when your children get older, they will thank you.

Since I last wrote this, my older daughter has picked up where I left off researching our family tree. She is journaling her experience in her own bog, "Tracking Them Down" at

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Epiphany or “Little Christmas”…..

Today is Epiphany, also known as Little Christmas in Spanish speaking and other Christian countries. Our family never celebrated this holy day, but it is significant because it is the day when the three Wise Men brought gifts to the infant Jesus. I often heard people say that they do not take down their Christmas tree until after “Little Christmas.” I enjoy learning about different cultures and their holiday traditions and so did my girls. So, during their first years of school, we celebrated our own holidays as well as learned about what other people were celebrating at or about the same time. This went on for two or three years.

All the holidays were important to my girls. For Halloween we got all the candy and costumes, props and makeup they needed. Then there was Thanksgiving to look forward to and we learned the stories of the pilgrims and Indians. Of course, Christmas was the biggest holiday of them all. We watched all the cartoons and shows for a month, made up lists for Santa, baked cookies, bought and made gifts, wrapped them etc etc etc.

Then my older daughter got the bright idea that we should celebrate Hanukkah too. This was because we watched the Sherri Lewis and Lambchop special about the Festival of Lights and how the little bit of oil lasted for 8 days. I still have the dreidels I bought for the girls to play with and I made potato latkas, but I did not get a menorah or 8 days of presents. I had to draw the line somewhere. After Christmas we were looking into how to celebrate Kwanza. But they soon lost interest in that because there were no gifts involved. And finally, they returned to school after Christmas and got wind of Epiphany, which turned them on to yet another holiday.

I had barely taken down the tree and put away all the ornaments and gifts we had received, when my daughter comes home from school with information about “Little Christmas.” She informs me that Spanish people celebrate the coming of the Wise Men to visit the newborn Jesus. I replied, “Yes, that’s a very nice custom.” Then she asks, “Can we celebrate Epiphany too?” I ask her what is involved. “All we have to do is put out food and water for the camels and the Wise Men will leave us a present.” The fact that there were still presents laying around that she hadn’t even gotten to play with didn’t phase her, she wanted yet another gift from the Wise men. So I said, “Epiphany is tomorrow, I don’t have any camel food to put out and you already got enough presents.” My daughter, who loves to get the last word in, says “we can put out some grass” and her sister also chimed in with a few choruses of “please, please, please.” I gave in, sigh.

I go to my husband and tell him what happened and that I didn’t have any spare gifts for the Wise Men to leave, I already bought everything I could think of for Christmas. Nevertheless, I tried to find a little something to try and make this happen. Fortunately, down in the basement, I had a couple of small things I could wrap up and leave for them. That night, we ripped up some grass from the lawn and put out some water and the next morning they found their small gifts, which paled by comparison to what they had gotten for Christmas.

“Little Christmas” was short lived and we never had to do it again. So was Kwanza. But, the dreidels would come out for a couple of more years, and they would play that little spinning game a few days before Christmas. They have probably forgotten those times by now, but for me the memories of those days are everlasting gifts.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Taking Down The Tree…

When it comes to putting up the tree there is a certain amount of excitement and anticipation for the holidays and presents and Santa and Ho Ho Ho! When it comes to taking down the tree, there is no one around to be found to help. Everyone gets busy after New Year’s Day. It’s back to work and back to school and that leaves good, old Mom holding the bag (whether she works or not).
I hate taking down the tree. It’s the second most depressing thing to New Year’s Eve. It’s like the final nail in the coffin. The last lingering remnants of last year. The message is clear…it’s time to move on. Start over. Do better. Don’t make the same mistakes. Change!

I guess you could see it as the end of something with dread or the beginning of something with hope. And I think, as I take down the tree this year, I am going to think about last year and what I can do to make this year better for me and those I love and care about. It all has to start with me. I have to take better care of myself, as I have noticed that as I get older my body is speaking to me and saying “I am out of shape and that’s why you can’t do the things you want to do any more!“ I have to agree. Every time I try to do something I hurt something: my back, my shoulder, my elbow. That shouldn’t be. I need to tone up my muscles and slim down. If I can accomplish that, then the rest will be easy.

Maybe, instead of waiting for a holiday or birthday I can prepare some special meals where we can sit down together and talk, laugh, reminisce or gossip about family. We can have Happy Unbirthdays, like in “Alice In Wonderland” or a “Festivus” for the rest of us, like in Seinfeld! Who says we can’t make up days to celebrate our lives? We don’t need a calendar to tell us when to celebrate. We can even buy or make little, thoughtful gifts for these unplanned, surprise celebrations just to let the people we love know how much we appreciate them. Imagine having nice intimate times without all the commercialism and pressure? I think it would make for wonderful memories to share.

So, as I take down the ornaments and pack them away, I’ll think about last year and what was lacking and I will look forward to this year and what I can fill it up with. We can’t change the past, but we can create a better, happier, healthier future. All we have to do is make a choice every day when we get up to follow through on our promises to ourselves and before we know it we will be doing them without thinking, without encouragement, without support. We will have changed for the better and the rewards from that will keep us motivated to go on.

The tree will come down, the slate for 2011 is clean and ready for me to write on. I wonder how it will read on December 31, 2011?

P.S. Day 3 of the diet and I am sticking to it!  Dr. Phil is doing a show on it today and I hope it gives me some tips to getting all this water down!  Other than that I am fine.  Looking forward to my first weigh in next Monday.  Good luck to all of you with your resolutions!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Diets, UGH!

The 17 Day Diet!

Can anyone come up with a diet that we can really love? I know what I have to do to lose weight and thank God I don’t have that much I need to lose, but diets are really killjoys! This new 17 Day Diet I am trying has enough to eat it in, but after you take out salt, sugar and fat where’s the taste? I just have to keep reminding myself of the substantial weight lose I am supposed to experience during the first 17 days (which are followed by three more 17 day cycles, so it’s not really a 17 day diet). You can skip the second or third cycle if you reach your goal weight and go straight to number 4, the maintenance cycle.

What I really dislike is all the fluid I have to ingest in the course of one day. I was never really a big drinker of anything and to be honest I know this is very unhealthy. Last week for example, I think I was experiencing some pain in the kidney area which went away after I drank a few glasses of water. So, I suppose I should be grateful that this diet calls for 8 cups of water a day. My brain says great, but my bloated stomach says “stop!.” In addition to the 8 cups of water, it has me drinking 3 cups of green tea a day and one of those 8 cups of water has to be first thing in the morning, hot and with lemon. If I didn’t have a good reason to stay in bed before, I have one now. The thing is, all these fluids have a purpose: to detox the body and the green tea cuts off the fat cells and starves them. Can I argue with science? By the way, the Bigelowe Lemon Flavored Green Tea is very good, if you are having trouble finding a green tea that tastes good.

I think I am going to have to get a little more creative with the food list too. This first cycle has a limited number of things you can eat. There’s enough there, but I was hoping for more than two fruits a day. I think I am a little crabby right now because it’s too soon to notice the effects. If I feel that “energy” they are promising, then I will hopefully change my attitude.

Oh, and you also have to get in some exercise. I watched the dvd yesterday and those three 17 minute workouts (you only have to do one or two a day and you can split them up) are tough. I’m not sure I can do all those moves on a good day! I didn’t try any of them, instead I walked on my treadmill for 17 minutes at 3 mph. That’s acceptable and it got my heart rate up.

I didn’t go to bed hungry last night. I felt a little grumpy and bloated. I haven’t noticed any extra energy yet, and since I have none, I am sure not to miss it when it shows up. I wonder if there was anyone like me in there test group when they were planning this diet? I hope so, and not just a bunch of 20 and 30 somethings.

Today I am not feeling any love for this diet, but it’s only day 2. If I get the results they promise you can bet your boots you’ll be hearing about it. If I don’t, you can be sure you’ll be hearing about it!!! And so will Dr. Moreno and Dr. Phil (who is also pushing this diet).

All I can say for now is “stay tuned!”

Monday, January 3, 2011

OWN-The Oprah Winfrey Network Review

Well I managed to catch the first show on OWN and after 15 minutes of watching I am not impressed. Here is a quick review if you missed it. There is a super star panel: Dr. Phil, Dr. Oz and Suze Orman. The first ten minutes was spent talking about “poop.” How often you should go, how it should look, how it travels through the intestines, how you should potty train yourself, all explained by Dr. Oz, with an accompanying realistic animation. Great, that’s just what I wanted to see!

Then there was a woman who wanted to know from Dr Phil if she should take her cheating husband back. Apparently, he cheated for six months and when she asked him to stop, he said no. But then his mistress dumped him and now he is desperate to come back to her. The husband has also seen the enormous amount he would have to pay her if there is a divorce. A skeptical Dr. Phil can’t really advise her except to say “the best predictor of future behavior is past behavior.” Duh! It’s was clear to me she hasn’t been watching his show if she needs to ask what she should do.

A poll about virginity? How old were you when you lost your virginity? The results showed 56.7% of the audience (200 people) was 16 to 20 years old. Enter stage left, a 52 year old virgin who hasn’t dated in over 30 years because she has been overweight. The last time she kissed a guy, she was 16 years old. Now she has lost 100 pounds. She just went a her first date and the guy hasn’t called again because she turned her head when he went to kiss her good night. Dr. Phil has his work cut out for him here. Meanwhile she has terrible teeth, but a pretty nice personality. Dr. Phil’s advice, get out and meet as many men as possible. To help her get jump started, he arranges some speed dating for her right there on the show! She goes backstage to try his experiment and meets three men. At the end of the show she has to pick one guy and she does. Dr. Phil arranges a date for the lovely couple.

Two hundred people in the audience have a combined 1.6 million in credit card debt, about $8,000 a person. Suze Orman says do NOT accept store credit cards when you are shopping and they offer you 20% off that day. That happens pretty often to me and I never do it. If I did I would destroy mine after, but she says most people will actually buy more that day and run up a bigger bill and then keep the card and pay the 23% interest. So do not sign up.

Vanessa Williams asks Dr. Phil how to get her ten year old daughter to stop sleeping in her bed. Can’t wait to see what he says. A poll of the audience shows 93% say it’s not normal. Dr. Phil says Vanessa should tell the child it’s time to be a big girl and you need to be in your own bed, so let’s ease into that. I think that was a common sense answer, a no brainer, and not too impressive. However he did give parents of younger children some good suggestions for establishing a good bedtime ritual, which you can find online in a minute.

A fat family of four (each 50 to 100 pounds overweight) wants to lose weight and asks Dr. Oz what they can do. Dr. Oz always feels the need to bring in body parts (bellies) to make his point. He gives one of his famous lectures on fat in the body. Then he starts to explain how the test results of their different organs are being affected by this fat, but still reversible. Three of them are diabetic or pre diabetic. Eighty million people in this country are pre-diabetic or diabetic. Dr. Oz gives them a real quick fix: eat breakfast and move around. Then Dr. Phil gets involved. Apparently he discovers are too busy to eat healthy. He tells them to change their lifestyle and change the environment, make themselves accountable, set realistic goals and make a set time in their routine. Suze says if you are overweight chances are you also have credit card debt and not enough savings. Obese people make $3.41 less an hour than average people or $7,000 a year less. The fast food they buy costs 4 times as much as a healthy meal. Then these people get stressed about finances and eat even more.

Regis Philbin chimes in and asks Dr. Oz to solve his heartburn with a homemade remedy. We see another animation of the esophagus, which is damaged by antacids, before he gives his answer. He suggests Aloe Vera syrup and in addition, avoid alcohol, loosen pants, elevate the head of the bed.

A huge discussion about passing gas ensues because a woman in the audience has a stomach that rumbles and she wants it to stop! It happens after she eats and during business meetings. They play a tape of her noisy stomach. Dr. Oz tells her to just pass the gas already. It didn’t look like she was happy with that answer.

Dr. Phil offers three sure fire ways to keep your New Year’s resolutions. I am all ears for this piece of advice and sitting on the edge of my seat. Here goes: Make sure it’s a measurable goal, set a time table with small steps, find somebody to be accountable to! We learn that Dr. Phil’s resolution is to “slow down and enjoy the ride.” Suze doesn’t believe is resolutions, but does believe in doing what she wants to do at the time she gets the impulse to do it. Dr. Oz wants to give his kids more memories, which no one can take from them.
Oprah comes out and drinks some champagne with her favorite experts to toast the New Year and the new show.

So far there is absolutely nothing new about this show. It’s just a conglomeration of the shows the super star panel members already have. It was two hours long and do we really need to hear all these things again? I know have heard all this before. I don’t know if the panel members will change from week to week and the subjects as well. I just expected a lot more and something very different to kick off the new network. I wonder what other shows there will be? I know she is giving away a new show to one lucky winner. I didn’t even know there was a contest!


Day 1 of the 17 Day Diet for me! For breakfast I had one cup of warm water with lemon, one hard boiled egg, one orange and one cup of coffee. I'll get back to you about lunch. Starting weight 134, trying to lose 20 pounds, will report back every Monday on weight loss. Anyone else who is on this or any other diet, jump in and post! If you have other resolutions you want support and encouragement for, WE are here!

8:30 - 9:00 Treadmill for 17+ minutes @ 3mph burned 80 calories walked .85 miles. Drank 2 cups of water.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Bad Hair Days...

I often hear people complain they are having bad hair days, which means they must also have “good” hair days. I never have good hair days. All my days are bad hair days. I read the phrase really caught on after it was used in a 1992 Buffy the Vampire Slayer movie. It’s been close to 20 years since the saying was made popular and yet there is still no cure for this phenomenon that plagues the majority of the population.

I’ve heard a number of reasons why we have bad hairs days: humid or dry weather, build up of hair products, increase in oil production from hormones, over drying hair with blow dryers and curling irons, color treating hair, perming hair, over brushing hair, over washing hair, sweating from stress…just about anything you do to your hair will end up in you having a bad hair day.

It would be nice if we could have our own personal stylist handy in case of emergencies. All the products advertised in ads really don’t do what they promise they will. Have you ever seen the Pantene commercials with the model who has black silky, smooth, flowing hair? My daughters and I have used Pantene and not one of us got hair anything close to what we saw in the commercial. I do not believe they even used Pantene on her hair or, if they did, they used it first and then rewashed and conditioned it with some miracle shampoo, conditioner and additional hair products. I then think it was dried and styled by a professional hair stylist. Maybe they even used trick photography. I don’t know, I just know that Pantene is lying when they take credit for that hair.

I need to wash my hair every morning so I can sort of get it to do what I want it to do and I also need to wash out the “bed hair” I wake up with. After a night’s sleep, there is no way in hell my hair is going to go back to the way it was the night before. If it did, I might be able to get away with skipping a day now and then. I can’t afford to wear a hat when it’s freezing because then I’ll get “hat hair” which is probably worse than “bed hair.” Hat hair gives me enough static electricity to electrocute myself by turning on a light switch. There is no way to get rid of that static either except to rewash my hair which is not good since I already wash it every day because of bed hair. If I don’t wear a hat then I get a variety of other types of hair, like the unavoidable and dreaded wind blown hair, which can also be worse than hat hair depending which way the wind is blowing. If it’s raining or snowing I have a choice of hat hair or frizzy hair, both of which I consider bad hair. I just can’t win when it comes to my hair.

I just wish they would come up with a decent line of hair products that actually do what they say they will do OR a hairstyle for my type of hair, other than a crew cut, that is wash and wear hair.

Maybe I should just get a wig?

Saturday, January 1, 2011

Happy New Year 2011!

My dog was so excited about starting the New Year off on the right paw that he woke us up at 5:45 am so he could take his first walk of the year. It would be an understatement to say I was not a happy camper. So, after a few minutes of praying that he would stop barking, I got up and had breakfast. Before I get started, I always turn on the radio and listen to the news. This is what I heard in a nutshell: “Happy New Year! The first set of baby boomers turns 65 this year and many will not be able to retire because they are in debt and their 401K plans and homes have decreased in value because of the economy.” Great news for those born in 1946! I happen to be a baby boomer, but I have nine years to go before retirement. Who knows if things will be better or worse by then?

I had hoped to start the New Year off on a good note and it’s only 8 am so I have plenty of time to try to make that happen. No I can’t wait for it to happen on it’s own, that’s too risky. The problem is what am I going to do to create that good note? I have always found New Year’s Eve/Day depressing. It’s a big let down after Christmas and Thanksgiving. I always look forward to those holidays and so much time and preparation goes into making them special. Then, in a blink of an eye, Christmas is over and we are headed for a New Year. Maybe it’s the fear of the unknown? What is going to happen this year? Will it be better or even worse than last year? There is always something about starting a new year that I dread, but I can’t put my finger on it. It’s almost like getting left back; we have to repeat every year, doing the same things, until we pass or get it right.

So, what can I do today to set the right tone for the rest of the year? First, I need to let go of some old baggage. Everyone has relationship issues with someone in their lives. For me it was with a person I considered my best friend for ten years; she moved on to a new friend and forget to take me with her or even tell me about it. I have to stop dwelling on that as hard as it is. Then, I need to set some goals for myself, which I have started to do by getting on this promising new diet and exercise program and sticking with it. While I’m doing that, I need to think about some of the things I am passionate about and find ways to incorporate those things into my life. I was taking French classes at a local college for a few years, but stopped a couple of years ago because I felt my family needed my attention. Maybe it’s time to reconsider that decision and brush up on my French again. Another thing I have realized this year is how many women are putting their needs aside for the sake of their families. I want to try and encourage and support them into setting goals for themselves and following through with them. We really can do anything we set our minds to do and when we are doing things for ourselves and feeling better about who we are, then we will fill all our other roles in life that much better.

This could be a Happy New Year; a time for real change and results! Maybe next year, instead of being glad the old year is over, we can look back on all we have accomplished and be proud of ourselves. Happy New Year!