Be nice. Just be nice.

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Ok, I’m not going to get all sappy here about it being the holiday season and all that stuff and how we should all be better people blah blah blah.

But.  We should all learn to nice.  Nicer.  Treat people better.

I’m trying really hard to be nicer, and “let it go”.  Don’t let little things get to you.  Look at the big picture.  Be happy for what you have, don’t be sad for what you don’t have.

Sometimes, we are nicer to strangers than our own family.  It’s weird that way.  It’s like we have to put our best face forward and be nice and polite so people will like us, but then we treat our spouse/sister/brother/best friend like shit or take them for granted.  We drop the façade of good manners.

I think it is important to still be nice.  Especially to the people who are most important to us.  I notice myself I start to be more critical of people I love the best.  I tell myself it is because I want them to be the best people they can be.  But I should just let them be the people they want to be.

This holiday season, this CHRISTMAS season, I am going to be nice.  It is so much easier to be happy and nice, and then grumpy and persnickety.  Don’t be a Grinch.

I must be feeling better.  Yes, as a matter of fact, I am.  It makes be feel better to be a happy person, and to make others happy.

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It’s all about that work, no turkey!

turkey

I was pondering about Thanksgivings past.  I am SO grateful they are gone, and I can enjoy the holiday tomorrow ALL DAY AND NIGHT!

Back in the day when I worked for a very large pharmaceutical company which shall remain nameless, I worked a lot of hours.  I mean, a LOT, especially around year-end closing time, as I worked in Accounting.  We had 52 international affiliates to close at the end of November, and then the Parent Company at the end of December.  We started doing prep work in October, and finally would finish up with everything end of January.  During that time, we would work 80-90 hours a week.  Seriously.  I hear that company has changed their ways since then, but back in the cave men day when I worked there, we used a stone tablet to mark our numbers down.  I remember the day we upgraded to an abacus, how exciting!  Then we were granted ONE computer, to do all 52 affiliates.  Can you kids just imagine?  I kid you not.  We did a lot of manual calculating, on calculators with tapes, so we could double check our numbers when things didn’t add up.

Anyway, moving on.  I was newly married and moved into our home.  My father had just died, and my mom didn’t feel too festive.  So I was happy to take over the Thanksgiving holiday, and invite ALL the relatives!

What was I thinking?  I barely had time to sleep, and here I was hosting a holiday that was VERY labor intensive.  My husband at the time traveled a lot, so he was no help.

I remember that first year.  What a nightmare.  I worked until 9 pm the Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and then hit the grocery store on the way home.  All the turkeys were frozen!  When I got home I put the turkey in the sink with cold water like they said to defrost it.  I had bought the biggest turkey they had.  I didn’t realize how long it would take to thaw out.  So I started cleaning the house, polishing the silver, ironing tablecloths, setting the big table, setting up extra tables.

I was up all night.  When you work 90 hours a week, your housekeeping goes to shit.  I put the turkey in the oven in the morning.  Everybody came over, we were having a good time, until it was time to take the turkey out of the oven.  My mom was going to do the gravy, so she was helping me take the stuffing out of the bird.  I said, for such a big turkey I couldn’t fit much stuffing in!  My mom then gasped in horror and pulled out the bag of guts, or giblets or whatever you call them.  I had no idea I was supposed to remove it, it was my first turkey rodeo, lol.  Anyway, she said, shhhhh, don’t tell anyone, it’s ok.  And we served a delicious feast!  Everyone stayed really late, eating and drinking.

Unfortunately, I had to be back at work at 6 a.m. the next morning, and we worked until 2 a.m., which was usual.  And yes, Saturdays and Sundays too.

Now, you would think I’d get smart and tell people that while it was fun, I just couldn’t do Thanksgiving anymore.  Or Christmas, because it was even busier then.  Or New Years.  And by the time Easter rolled around, I was half dead.  Oh, and then I enrolled in grad school.  2 classes a semester, which meant 8 hours a week of class time, plus about 10 hours of week of group meetings, plus homework.

However, I was a gluten for punishment, and continued to host Thanksgiving every year.  But I finally got smart and prepared way ahead of time, and did my Christmas shopping etc. in the summer.  When I finally graduated, and got a different job internally that didn’t require as many hours, I wondered what to do with my time!  I think I work better under pressure.  If I have nothing to do, I get lazy.  No more nightmares of holidays past.

But this year?  I am glad to be a lazy slug.  I think I deserve it, after all the health issues I have had the past couple of years.  I make the desserts now, and go across the street to my sister’s house for dinner, with other neighbor families.  And at Christmas I go to my brother’s house, next door, and bring appetizers or veggies or something.  My SIL is a great cook and baker, so we eat like kings and queens.

One more reason to be grateful this holiday season!

The Grinch Who Stole Christmas

grinch

This is a story about the Boss  Grinch Who Stole Christmas, literally right out from underneath all his employees.  You’re a mean one, Mr. Grinch.

He was my LAST. BOSS. EVER.  He is the reason why I am self-employed now, and will never ever be subjected to abuse again.

He started out so nice.  My first Christmas there, we had a beautiful Christmas tree, fires in the fireplace, Christmas carols on the radio, Christmas presents, Christmas lunch, Christmas bonus, and a nice Honey Baked Ham to take home.  Plus two paid weeks off, for which we were very grateful, as the vacation and holiday allowance was sparse.

By the time the second Christmas came around, the blush had faded from the rose a bit.  I was starting to see his true personality come out.  Good people fired for no good reason except they weren’t his yes men.  Disrespect to the hourly employees.  Ranting and raving in the office.  Out of control political views.  No Christmas tree.  No Christmas lunch.  No Christmas bonus.  The managers bought the boss a very nice expensive.  No gifts in return.  We did receive the leftover Christmas wreaths, and got the paid two weeks off.  The managers, including myself, still came in over the break to work as it was a very busy snow season.

The third Christmas was the final one.  He was quickly spiraling out of control.  The ranting and raving got the best of me, every day.  There was total silence in the office, except for his screaming at me, a customer, the dog, whatever.  Once again, No Christmas tree.  I brought a small artificial tree in and plugged it in on the counter with an extension cord.  Every day when I came into work, the extension cord would be gone.  I would find another.  Pretty soon I figured out that there was to be NO Christmas spirit and gave up and took the tree home.  No Christmas songs on the radio. (I tried playing Christmas CD’s on my computer, but suddenly my CD drive was broken).  No fires.  No Christmas lunch.  No Christmas bonus.  No Christmas presents whatsoever.  By this time the managers wised up and didn’t bother to buy him one.  He begrudgingly gave us the two weeks off, only because he was going on vacation, but made it unpaid.  The last day before break, he never even said Merry Christmas, Happy New Year, have a nice holiday, go fuck yourselves.  Nothing.  Nada.  I did not go out of my way to go in over break to work, only when absolutely necessary.

That boss ruined my Christmas spirit for quite awhile.  But with time I realized that HE was the problem, not me, and I shouldn’t let someone else force their negativity on me.  He used to make fun of me for going to church, being Catholic and believing in the real reason for Christmas.

I only feel sorry for him now.  Besides his girlfriend, who is just as delusional as him, he is basically alone in this world.  His drove his family away years ago.

When I go to church this Christmas, I will pray for him.

Baby it’s cold outside

dean

Yes, indeed it is, below zero here in the frosty Midwest!

But aside from that, it’s one of my favorite Christmas songs (especially the Gavin DeGraw/Colbie Caillat duet!).  But does it bother anyone else that this song was written back in the day when the specter of a single woman spending the night with an obvious romantic bachelor would cause a huge scandal??

They even refer to the scandalous nature several times in the lyrics:

My mother will start to worry,

My father will be pacing the floor,

My sister will be suspicious,

My brother will be there at the door,

My maiden aunt’s mind is vicious,

More and more begging, then:

Hey what’s in this drink?

There’s bound to be talk tomorrow,

At least there will be plenty implied.

And then the grand finale, which just slays me:

She says:  I really can’t stay

He says:  Get over that hold out

Seriously??  Talk about sexually harassment!  Sounds like he wants to have his way with her no matter what her protestations are.  The original score was written as a conversation between two people, marked as the “mouse” and the “wolf”.

Now, I know it’s just a song.  But think back to the day.  Picture Dean Martin circling a pretty girl at the bar, with his trademark cigarette and glass of whiskey, crooning this song.  The girl’s reputation was at stake, but not his, or any man’s for that matter.

Of course, today the young lady would probably be more than happy to stay, and not need any persuasion.  And just to add a little levity to the situation, here’s a Jimmy Fallon video about what happens when the lady DOES stay:

http://www.nbc.com/saturday-night-live/video/baby-its-cold-outside/n44614/

Timing is everything, cause some things never change.

My Bucket List

bucket list

To lay in the grass, covered by a litter of golden retriever puppies.

To meet Gavin DeGraw, and sing with him. Just me and him.

To go on a cruise, and eat and drink and dance the night away!

To play the piano with ease.

To be in a theatre play, and act and sing. Or maybe just the church choir!

To finally get my first book published, and continue to write another one, all my own.

To visit Alaska – see the glacier, Denali, and ride the train from Anchorage to Seward!  Go on a sled ride with the huskies.  Mush!

To visit Australia and New Zealand. I believe they have gorgeous landscapes.

To have a beer in Germany during Oktoberfest.

To visit Ireland and drink in the lush greenery.

To take my beloved great nieces and nephews to Disneyland and watch the wonderment on their little faces.

To swim again with the dolphins, this time in the wild, where you can frolic and play in their natural environment.

To make a difference in people’s lives in a positive way.  I love my seniors in swim class, and so many of them remind me of my dearly departed mom whom I miss so much!

Most importantly, going to Midnight Mass on Christmas Eve with all the candles and beautiful voices rejoicing in the birth of Jesus, and then to wake up on Christmas morning snuggled up with a special loved one, having coffee in front of a crackling fireplace surrounded by the scent of a beautiful Christmas tree, with only a few meaningful gifts underneath.  Spending the rest of the day with beloved family and friends.

When my bucket list is complete, I will be ready to cross over to the Rainbow Bridge and be re-united with all my fur babies, who will then follow me into heaven to see my beloved family and friends who have passed before me.

What’s on YOUR bucket list?

Goodbye and good riddance!

goodriddanceMost people love ringing in a new year.  A fresh start, new resolutions, a celebration of things to come!

I cannot wait for this year to end.  This past year has not been kind to my family.  A year ago my BIL died.  Then I had my hip replacement in May, which to this day is still infected and may at some point have to be removed.  Then my niece’s fiancée was killed in a horrific accident, leaving her little girl without a daddy.  Then my sister’s two beloved cats were eaten by coyotes.  Then my little great niece cut off her long beautiful hair down to the scalp, just in time for Christmas!  (which is no big deal compared to the other things).

My hip replacement has colored my world every day.  It was painful, it was expensive, and it is ongoing.  Don’t let the doctor’s fool you…..when you saw off your femur bone and then pound a stake into it, IT HURTS.  FOR A LONG TIME!  Those sadists at the hospital are poking you, prodding you, and making you walk all the time!  They love to see your pain, and tell you to work through it.  Yeah right, ok.  I did it, did everything they said, and went home from the rehab hospital with an infection that is still with me to this day as a reminder of a horrid experience.  Granted, this doesn’t happen to most people.  Very few people, in fact.  I am one of the lucky ones.

I was at my ortho doc on Wednesday.  We were talking about shots, and I asked him if it would hurt.  He said yes.  I asked him if it would make me cry.  He said “You are the bravest woman I know.  With everything you have been through this year, I have never seen you cry.  You have been through hell and back and keep on smiling.  All the nurses and therapists are amazed by you.  In all your hospital reports they make notations about your positive attitude and smiling face.  They wished all patients could be like you.  You had 4 surgeries and home health care nurses for months, and they all fought over who got to service you.  I think you made friends with every nurse and tech at Lake Forest Hospital!”

And you know what?  I did.  Why not?  I was stuck in the hospital a lot this summer, and those nurses and techs were my best friends.  They took wonderful care of me, and attended to my every need.  Trust me, you are totally helpless the first few days after surgery, and really need compassionate people!  They all were angels from heaven, and if a smile from me made their day better, I was happy to do it.  I felt my recovery would go better with a positive attitude, and it did.  The nurses treated me like I was special, and that made ME feel special!

Granted, I would like to never experience this kind of thing again, lol.  Luckily I had insurance, but wow did I get screwed!  I had the state of Illinois Pre-Existing insurance for the first 6 months until they went bankrupt and then forced me over to the federal insurance.  I had to start from scratch with deductibles and co-pays in the middle of the year.  All told, I paid approximately $20,000 for insurance this year.  I know my hospital bills were a lot more than that, and I was grateful to have the insurance, but geez.  That’s a lot of money for someone like me.

My sister and my niece are doing better, but it is still hard.  Luckily my great niece Brianna is very resilient and has taken the loss of her daddy in stride.  She has other male figures in her life who have stepped up, and she is a very loving child.  She is the best thing that has ever happened to our family!

The two cats are greatly missed, but Bri rescued a kitty and named him Lucky, and he has wormed his little way in our hearts and helped heal them.  He is quite naughty, and I’m sure Bri’s Elf on a Shelf has all kinds of naughty reports on him for Santa!

Thank goodness I don’t have an Elf on a Shelf, because my two cats are the naughtiest Christmas tree destroyers ever!  They have literally eaten the lighted Star off the top, and many strings of lights and ornaments.  It is their napping spot and climbing pole.  The top of the tree is now slanted, and they broke the stand too.

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Oh well, lol.  There’s always next year!  And next year will be better, I just know it.  My hip is better, I got to go to a family reunion wedding and see all my long distance relatives, my cats are fine, I have a warm house, a job of sorts, and family and dear friends.  I will try to stay on a positive path, and keep fighting the good fight!

Merry Christmas my friends, and I hope you all have the happiest of New Years!

Bah Humbug, I mean Happy Easter!

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Typically when people think of Easter, it’s all about easter eggs and candy and cute little bunny rabbits.  Ham for dinner, hopefully with your family and friends.

Except it’s not supposed to be all about bunnies and chocolate and jelly beans.  It’s the day that Christ has risen from the dead, after being horribly crucified and dying for us.  Pain.  Suffering.  Blood.

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But nobody wants to think about that.  They run out and buy little rabbits for their kids, forever dooming them to a life spent in a tiny cage with nobody paying attention to them after the first day.  Do you know how long a rabbit can live in a cage?  A long time.  Just ask my sister.  The pet store does NOT take them back.  Many will release them into the wild, sentencing them to certain death by more experienced predators.  Maybe that’s better than sitting in a cage.

The candy and the easter eggs are fairly harmless, albeit to your waistline.  But some families go WAY beyond that.  Another gift giving opportunity!  Bicycles and new spring clothes and iPods and iPads….the list goes on.

Call me a scrooge.  I don’t believe that children need pricey Easter baskets full of gifts that the giver probably put on their credit card which will take them ten years to pay off the balance.  And don’t get me started on Christmas.  All these RELIGIOUS holidays have turned into a marketing frenzy for stores.  Presents galore!

Now, don’t get me wrong, nothing cuter than an Easter egg hunt with the little ones for that perfect Kodak moment.  But too many people are too busy with the extravaganza they have made these holidays into to even go to church.  Too busy shopping, baking, cooking etc. to go to church, and give an hour to God to praise him for sending his only begotten Son to earth to SUFFER and DIE for our sins.

And that makes me sad.  And a scrooge, I guess.  I’m done with the Easter baskets and presents etc.  If parents want to give their kids presents, I’m all for it.  But beyond that, I think it is unnecessary.  I love getting together with my family, but we should be rejoicing in the MEANING of the day, and not about how many gifts we bring.

The saddest part of all are the people who think of themselves as good Catholics or Christians and spent a lot of money to send their kids to private Catholic school, and then never go to church.  I sure don’t understand that one.  What is that teaching their children?  What kind of example is that setting?

Trust me, I am no Saint.  I am not a good example of a good Catholic.  I go to church willy nilly, sometimes a lot, sometimes a little.  I went to the Easter Vigil last night for the first time in my life, and I went to Catholic school for 10 years!  I grew up in a Catholic family who rarely went to church on Sundays, and it used to embarrass me on Mondays when my friends at school would ask why they never saw me at church on Sundays.  My mom and dad were hard workers and I suppose they thought it was their day of rest.  After all, us kids went to mass every day before school.  That was enough.  And as kids, we agreed!

So, I guess it is a personal interaction with God.  Some people say they don’t need to go to church to pray.  I myself feel better to go to God’s house to pray.  It gives me peace, and I mostly enjoy the familiar ceremony.  As long as you feel at peace with God and yourself, you should be go to go.  As for me, I hope that God accepts me into the kingdom of heaven, and I am not left behind.

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The most wonderful time of the year

It’s here again.  Christmas.  My favorite season.

This year I have so many things to be grateful for.  I have been through hell and back and now I can see the light, in so many ways.

It is so liberating to feel free and in charge of my own destiny now.  I have the time and finances now to fix myself, physically and mentally. The scars, both figuratively and literally, will always be there, and they were hard-won.  My emotions have finally settled, just in time for my fav season.

It’s the little things that make me happy now.  I don’t need big shiny expensive things.  I have lived frugally so well for the past few years, I find that SAVING money gives me more pleasure than spending money.  Money is the root of so many problems anyway.  I am more happy being frugal.  My biggest enjoyment in life is the afternoon matinée movie for six bucks.  I find joy in fixing up my house the most economical route, and feeling a sense of accomplishment.

Today I received notice today that I have been accepted in the Illinois Pre-existing Insurance Plan.  For that I thank President Obama.  All you haters out there, be grateful that you do not have a chronic, incurable disease like I do, because you too would be uninsurable.  Thanks to Obama, I now have affordable insurance coverage.  I haven’t been to my Crohn’s doctor is over 3 years now, and I REALLY NEED TO GO.  Now I can.  And I can get all my female tests I haven’t had in 3 years either.  When I went to the mailbox today, I ripped the envelope open, and started screaming in my street.  (Hope I didn’t scare the neighbors too much, but I think they are used to me, ha!).  This is HUGE for me.  Please Republicans, do not take away the health care I need.  It’s NOT free, far from it.  It is 125% more than a normal person’s premiums and I have a $5,000 deductible to pay before anything is covered.  But it is something, and I want it, and I need it.  So thank you to the powers that be, here on Earth and in Heaven.

More and more things are falling into place.  Every Sunday when I go to church, I like to sit back and thank God for all the blessings that have come my way, and pray for good things to come to other people.  I treasure my holy water I have received from dear friends who have traveled to Lourdes, and use it when I feel the need.  I used it when I went to court, and God stood up for me, and I will use it for my back surgery.  I used it on my BIL for his heart surgery, and he pulled through like a champ.  Miracles do indeed happen.

As Christmas approaches, I feel the spirit everywhere.  I love the cold, crisp air, and the beautiful twinkling lights everywhere.  I love all the parties and get togethers with family and friends.  I love seeing the delight on children’s faces when they open their gifts.  I love making my great niece’s FIRST hot chocolate.

Christmas gives me feelings of hope and peace deep within my soul.  I hope you all can feel it too, and have a very blessed holiday season.  Don’t forget to keep the “Christ” in Christmas!

Put me on the naughty list

I’m tired of being on the nice list.  It’s time I was naughty.  The only problem is, I’ve forgotten how.

I was always the quintessential good Catholic girl.  I swallowed what the nuns taught us hook, line and sinker.  Usually they told us that boys were devils, and that black patent leather shoes really do reflect up.  Our school uniforms made sure our white blouses were covered up in all the “bra” areas, so we had lovely plaid jumpers.  In high school it was even worse…..we had vests.  And then sweaters to cover up the vests.  Double coverage over those lily white blouses!  After all, the nuns said that white reminded boys of sheets, and they only want to get us in bed.  I kid you not.  I wish I was.

But they were nothing compared to my mother.  My mother continually accused my sister and I of foul play with the boys and would threaten to take us to the priest to confess our sins.  My sister just ignored her and did whatever she wanted.  I believed every word and stay a virgin until after college.  Yes, that’s right.  After college.  And I married him.  Cause that’s what good Catholic girls do.

After divorce #1 (I’m a two-time loser), I did try to make up for lost time.  I figured I was repressed and needed to expand my horizons so to speak.  I had a great time.   I might have made the naughty list once or twice.  But heck, a girl needs some fun every now and then.  My ex should have stuck around.  My 30’s were the best years of my life!

But alas, all good things must come to an end, and along came  big mistake  husband #2. I was initially so hopefully, but I should have listened to my gut instincts and run like hell in the opposite direction.  He messed me and my life up REALLY BAD.  Needless to say, my 40’s sucked.  Wasted ten good years on a losing proposition.

So here I am again.  Footloose and fancy free.   Haven’t had a really banner year,  In fact I would rate it in the top three worst, right after divorce #1 and divorce #2 . And I hate to tell you, but the 50’s are NOT the new 40’s, at least not in my case.

I can’t wait for 2012.  It just HAS to be better. Improvement plans in all facets of life are in the works . So fair warning.  I’m shooting for the naughty list next year!

Santa Baby, hurry down my chimney!

Alright, so I don’t have a chimney.  A minor technicality.  But that’s no excuse for Santa bypassing my house for the last 10 years.  Just because now I don’t have a husband and children, I still have needs.  And right now I need a new computer!

Santa, please, I have been babying this computer along for 10 years now.  I think it’s time to retire it along with the other dinosaurs.  I have my sights set on a beautiful purple laptop with everything I need to work from home.  But computers don’t come cheap, so I need your help Santa.

I’ve been a very good girl this year.  I will make you the BEST cookies ever, and leave some nice brandy instead of that stuffy old milk.  Instead of stuffing yourself down my non-existing chimney, I will leave the front door open so you can just waltz right in.  I will leave treats for the reindeer in the front yard.  You don’t even need to bring your sack in.  I only want one measly gift.  One gift for the past ten years.  One gift that will bring me joy for years to come.    I will be ever so grateful, and will sing your praises for the whole next year!

Christmas used to be my most favorite time of year.  I would spent days decorating.  I wore Christmas outfits every day in December.  I had Christmas socks, Christmas shoes, Christmas watches, Christmas earrings.  I was a walking, talking Christmas tree!  I would be so excited, baking pies and wrapping gifts.  My dogs had Christmas collars and Reindeer antlers.  Everyone was in the Christmas spirit!

Divorce ruined a lot of things in my life.  One of the major casualties was Christmas.  No sense decorating or getting in the spirit of the holiday when you live alone.  Even going to church was a lonely affair on Christmas.  I would look at all the families there in their Sunday best, and sigh.

I am bound and determined to make this Christmas better.  I will decorate, I will bake, I will sing songs, I will pull out my old Christmas clothes!  My dogs are gone, but I will decorate Simon the Siamese Scaredy Cat!  I may not have much money, but I can make things or bake things.  I will go to Midnight mass again and sing along with the choir, and pray for a handsome man to kiss under the mistletoe.  And hopefully, when I wake up on Christmas morning, there will be ONE gift for me.  Just one.  In purple please.