Memorial Day

Memorial Day2:00 pm, Monday. It’s 104 degrees outside, give or take. The kitschy, sunflower shaped, outdoor thermometer says 102, but it routinely lies. I mist myself in another layer of natural, essential oil mosquito repellent as I head into the heat. Smoke is rising from a metal coffin where racks of meat lie on grills. The heady smell of cooked animal flesh captivates my stomach. I head for the pub style patio table where a plate of vibrant fruit rests underneath a miniature, mesh canopy. Brilliant purple-y blueberries, giant red strawberries, and super-sized green grapes all reside together peacefully. Beside the platter is a sweaty, glass pitcher filled with icy lemonade. I pour a tall glass of the lemony liquid and climb into one of the high-top chairs. From my perch I see a row of mini starred and striped flags waving proudly over the sad block wall I share with my neighbors. I consider for a moment our outdoor celebration…and the men and women who gave their lives to insure its possibility. A mosquito lands on the upper part of my arm. How harmful is DEET, really? I wonder before I swat it away. A breeze kicks up, making the little flags flap wildly. It looks like laughter to me and I smile. I raise my glass of lemonade to them in a toast.

Happy Memorial Day.
With love,
Tuesday

Okay, This Is What’s REALLY Been Going On

You can’t tell by the sporadic posts I make on this blog, but I think about From Tuesday, With Love a LOT. It’s my baby and I love it. I’m just an awful mother.

BUT I’m a really awesome caregiver {not to toot my own horn or anything}. You see, the honest-to-goodness-for-real-for-real truth is my mom who lives 300 miles away from me had a stroke earlier this year. Like, an I’m-going-to-need-some-help-while-I-rehab-for-several-months stroke. PLUS my 85-year-old mother-in-law who I’ve cared for over the last year and a half still has a laundry list of medical conditions that require frequent doctor/hospital visits and help with things like grocery shopping and paying bills.

SO.

I’ve enlisted as much help as I can get {thank God for helpful family on both sides!}. I’ve called and talked with every assistance agency I can get a number to. But at the end of the day, there are still a lot of things you just have to tend to yourself. Not that I mind. I love my mom and my MIL with everything I’ve got. I do what I do for them BECAUSE I love them so much. Can’t lie though, caring for someone is a big job. Caring for TWO someones is a ginormous job. But I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It’s important to me that these women get all the care and service they need and deserve.

THAT BEING SAID – It leaves me little time to care for my baby, my blog. Nearly every day something new, cool, or interesting pops into my head that I think, “Oooo, I should write and post about that!” But there never seems to be any time. For a long time, I told myself that I was using lack of time as an excuse. Surely I could FIND time. I mean, lack of time is the very excuse we, as writers, use to procrastinate doing the one thing that we know we need to do.

But after a while I realized, I wasn’t just procrastinating {well, not mostly}. I really wanted to find those minutes where I could sit down and write, but they were always preempted by a doctor’s appointment, packing, phone calls, or just plain exhaustion. Yep, some days I was just too dang tired to even consider writing. So I slept or laid on the couch to watch TV instead. Lord knows that if I didn’t sit down occasionally, I’d kill myself from going, going, going ALL. THE. TIME.

But the fact remains – yes I said, FACT – I want to invest in this blog. I don’t know how that’s going to happen, but that’s what I want to happen. It pains me to see her dying a slow death, but I can’t annihilate her in one fell swoop either. She’s a part of me. But like I said, I’m a bad mother. And if my blog fails to become a productive member of society, I’ll have no one to blame but myself.

With love,
Tuesday

Note #4: Life Is More Than A To-Do List

Life is more than a to-do list.I’ve spent lots of my time lately checking things off of a list. Get the oil changed. Call the insurance company. Clean the baseboards. Pay the power bill. I’ve been focused and determined. My only goal is to check, check, check. Each little check mark – even if it’s only a mental check mark – is like a brilliant, gold star.

But I questioned today, in the middle of checking yet another chore off my list, what were all those gold stars getting me? The question hung in my mind so boldly that it was all I could focus on for a few moments {which was really something, because nothing ever gets that much of my attention. I’m too busy being focused on all the things I need to get done. Check, check, check!}. No doubt I was busy, busy, busy…I’d earned the badge for Busyness and was wearing it proudly…but what was it earning me? What was I getting out of all my busyness?

A quick mental rundown showed that my friendships were neglected, my family had recently only spent time with me when it had been an emergency, my husband and I hadn’t had a real vacation {as opposed to a working one or one tied into some family event} in longer than I cared to remember {2006??} and my “me” time usually consisted of folding laundry {it’s zen, right?}

Was this the life my gold stars were earning me? A life full of doing, but void of living? I didn’t think that was what I signed up for. Surely, I thought, life is not just a to-do list…right?!?

I wondered what would happen if I set my to-do list aside? Simply forgot about it, didn’t tend to it…ripped it up? What would happen? Would my relationships  find new life? Would I finish my novel? Write more on my blog? Would I travel more? Or would life fall apart? Perhaps I would fail to pay my bills, take care of my car, or buy groceries.

I believe we need to find balance in all things. To-do lists obviously serve their purpose. For me, they keep me on track and remind me to tend to things that keep my life moving. But when getting things done becomes more important than living itself…when the checklist becomes the gospel of my life…something is out of whack.

Yes, life is more than a to-do list. It is a vehicle by which we get to experience – enjoy, even! – living. So, I suppose, I should get to enjoying it more and stop racing through it to collect those gold stars.

Let me just add that to my to-do list.

With love,
Tuesday

Note #3: Embrace Age With Grace

Embrace age with grace

As a caregiver to an 85-year-old woman, I find myself constantly in the company of older people. They’re in doctors’ offices, senior centers, and the adult diaper section of Wal-Mart {all places I regularly frequent these days}. All of them, having reached their winter season, embrace their elder status differently. Some are jovial and spirited, childlike even, believing that their advanced age has given them a free pass to behave as they please. Others are sad and disheartened as if old age is life’s final curse before the blessed redemption of death.
And then there are those who have embraced their seniority with grace. They own their age because they have earned it. They don’t play it down, they don’t excuse it, they don’t deny it. Not only do they embrace their age, they embrace the fact that age has changed and will continue to change them. They have imparted decades of life experiences on the world and they are proud of their contribution. As long as they have breath, they believe they still have more to give. It shows in the way they act, they talk, they dress. They still care about what their style, their personality, their actions say about who they are.
I am learning that as we age, attitude counts – gets you bonus points even. It counts more than beauty, more than style, more than age or illness. Attitude counts. It has the potential to make or break how we come across. Getting older is full of landmines – death, failing health, financial inadequacy – but you can often tell who decided to get on with life {as they always have – because, let’s face it – LIFE is full of landmines} and those who chose to wallow in the mire of it all.

A scanned postcard photo of Ella Fitzgerald by Annie Leibovitz

A scanned postcard photo of Ella Fitzgerald by Annie Leibovitz

I have long known that I want to embrace positivity in my later stages of my life. Sure, youth is behind you, but life is still ahead of you. Oh, what could I do with the life I have left! Race a car, start a business, be a fashion icon? With a lifetime of experience, what could I do? Life become meaningless? I don’t think so. Not even in the midst of the battlefield that is old age.
When I get silver-haired {fully – not just the random strands that poke out of my polished ‘dos now}, I hope I wake up every day striving to be relevant, attractive, and my age. I hope I am able to embrace who I am and how old I am. As long as I have breath, I hope I give something positive to the world. I hope I become better with age. I hope I age gracefully.

With love,
Tuesday

Note #2: Know Your Role

Know your roleFirst, apologies to the talented blogger, Eric, over at Clawing At The Keys. This post/review is loooong overdue. Second, as full disclosure, this post was inspired by William Shatner’s “The Transformed Man,” a CD I “won” {if one can call it that} as a contestant in Eric’s “Worst Short Story” contest {you can check out my entry here}.

After forcing myself to listen through an entire disc of William Shatner’s campy, kitschy…OMG, let me just say it…TERRIBLE…interpretive “singing” {?? poetry reading?? comedic acting?? dramatic monologue??}, I believe the following are truths:

  • Each of us is granted certain gifts, talents, and abilities.
  • Each of us has the ability to be a master of those gifts and talents within the realm in which we are placed.
  • If you move outside of those giftings…move beyond your realm of talent…well, you end up with this:


The moral is: know your role. You shouldn’t fancy yourself a singer if you can’t sing {obviously}*. You shouldn’t teach if you’re not gifted as a teacher. Don’t feel compelled to audition for So You Think You Can Dance if you know you have two left feet. Move within the realm of talent you are gifted with. This is not to say that you shouldn’t expand your horizons or try new things. Doing so will not only expand your grey matter, but may uncover a hidden gift or talent. But if it doesn’t…please, PLEASE don’t punish the world by putting your lack of talent on public display. I assure you that there is enough pain in the world as it is**.

Disagree if you must, but I say, know your role, people. Know your role.

With love,
Tuesday

*Apparently there are whole crowds of people who think Mr. Shatner CAN sing {or whatever you call what he’s doing} and are willing to let him belt it out again and again and again. Just Google it. However I also suggest you read the reviews of The Transformed Man on Amazon. HIL-AR-I-OUS!

**For the record, at multiple points on the disc I laughed until I cried. Thus, I cannot say that these 38 minutes were completely pain inflicting. This might also lead one to believe that I overlooked the obvious talent to be gleaned from this record – BUT, a glance through the liner notes reveals that Mr. Shatner took this album very seriously and had no intention of bringing hilarity into my otherwise mundane day. So, sorry – no credit there.

Note #1: Life Isn’t Always What We Expect It Will Be

Life isn't always what we expect it will be

Life isn’t always what we expect it will be. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine myself becoming a housewife or a caregiver. You couldn’t have convinced my 25-year-old self that this is where I’d be in twelve years. But these are the choices I’ve made and this is the road that I am on.

I am reminded of Robert Frost’s iconic poem, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less traveled by…” I’ve always detected a hint of woe in that poem, not for the choice he made, but for the choice he didn’t make. He tells himself that one day he will come back to see what lies down the other path, yet he knows, because life has a way of doing what it does, he will probably never get back to this fork and see what lies down the road not taken.

I believe most of us understand that the choices we make today could, perhaps, unknowingly, take us away from the life we imagine. One “wrong” turn can lead us down the rabbit hole as easily as it can lead us to great success. The fabled Alice of Alice in Wonderland could have just stayed put and not followed that plucky rabbit down the hole. But lucky for her – and for us – even choosing  a path of folly can turn out for the good in the end.

Without a doubt I have chosen some paths that have taken me into the scary forests of Wonderland. But I find that my misdirection tends to teach me so much about myself. And these days – after experiencing a few too many trips around the mountain – rather than wallow in the pity of it all – as I have in the past – I am dissecting the choices…the personal traits…that put me where I am. I am peeling away the layers of fog and discovering who I truly am. I am revealing my authentic self. Honestly, I don’t like everything I am discovering. Some of the truths are hard to digest. But I am not letting the acknowledgement of them get me down. Instead I am analyzing them and trying to figure out how I can either cut these traits or live with them. Turn negative into positive. Learn to find balance in them. Learn to be alert for them. Because some things about ourselves I don’t think we can completely be rid of. They become the thorns in our side. But if we are on constant alert for when they make an appearance in our lives and when they are about to wreak havoc, I think we can manage them. We can live with them. We can forgive ourselves these sins.

Whatever road we find ourselves on, we have two choices. We can reject it…run from it…escape it. Or we can embrace it. Those of us who are resilient, those of us who are diligent, those who refuse to give up…we embrace our life’s path – however it turns out. We believe that life can and will be more than it is right now…that a couple of wrong turns {or fifteen} do not mean we are definitely headed for disaster. We know that we are still masters of our destiny. We also know that our definition of what our future destiny looks like can change – will change. And that change is not always a bad thing.

There are good things about traveling our chosen, yet unknown path. There are good things you discover about yourself and the world around you. You discover what you are capable of. Sometimes you find out what you are NOT capable of and that is good, too. It forces you to accept who you are and how to sometimes ask for help. It humbles you.  I have discovered many joys along this chosen road – as well as sorrows – that I might not have otherwise found.

Still I have dreams. There are paths that I do hope I get a chance to come back and explore. Many of the destinies dreamed by my 20-something self have not – will not – die. And I don’t want them to. There are some dreams you must hold on to…cling to…remember. For it is those dreams, those destinies…they give you something to live for.

With love,
Tuesday

Reblogged: Do bloggers have choices?

Tuesday:

I was relieved to read this post {above} from Bottledworder. I have thought through this same topic for several weeks and been stuck. But now, after reading through the comments on her post, I realize that this whole idea of my blog being about “something” {whatever that may be} is, for me, just another form of perfectionism. While for some, having a blog that has all its ducks in a row is a high achievement, for someone who struggles with the crippling effects of perfectionism, it’s a curse – an excuse to do nothing {or very little} because it doesn’t fit in a mold of my, or someone else’s, creation. When I consider it, the theme of my blog is ME. As narcissistic as it sounds, my blog is about what I do, what I like, where I go, things that make ME happy. Admittedly that may make my blog a very niche one. Often times my audience may be only me. But rather than be frozen by perfectionism, I’ll risk the empty auditorium and continue to write randomly about all the things that make me, ME.

You’re welcome.

With love,
Tuesday

Originally posted on bottledworder:

Over the last year and a half, my blogging dilemmas have been many. I have, I’m afraid, been able to reduce these dilemmas into neat little binaries quite without satisfactory answers.

View original 452 more words

Losing My Momentum

Keep moving forward
Let’s see… It’s 16 days in and I am feeling like I’m losing that new year momentum. You know what I mean. The excitement of starting something new is wearing off. Routine is setting in. Those stupid resolutions are no longer a fun challenge; they are just a chore. Your brain still functions the way it did in the previous year, so you do things the way you previously did. You start to wonder if you can really change anything about your life. 

Having worked in social media, I understand the importance of momentum. Once you’re moving in a forward direction, slowing down or – worse yet – stopping is fatal. In social media, your “friends” and “fans” are fickle. They only keep conversing about and liking you while they sense movement in your brand. Once you’re in motion, you must stay in motion. Too many days of silence or inactivity renders you irrelevant…invisible. You run the risk of never being able to get going again. It’s like a car battery that is running on not-quite-enough juice: you jump-start it to get it going, and as long as the car is running, everything is good. However you know that the moment you turn off the power, it’s going to take another powerful jump to get the car moving again.

Sixteen days in and I’m definitely stalling. I feel the momentum waning, the battery shuddering, the doubt creeping in. What will keep me moving in a forward direction? I am hoping that simply acknowledging it will be the kick in the pants I need. But I’m not sure that it will be. I genuinely want 2014 to be a year of progress. I’ve had too many years of being stagnant. I’m over that. I need to keep moving. I need to keep pushing. I need to keep seeing progress and letting go of perfection.

With love,
Tuesday

How I Begin

7:00 AM

Eyes open.

I’m hungry. What’s for dinner tonight? I think there’s a chicken in the freezer. It won’t defrost by dinner. Is there a way to quick thaw a chicken? Note to self: Google “quick thawing chicken.” Maybe I should just run to the grocery store instead. Then we don’t have to have chicken. We can have anything. Pasta perhaps? If we have pasta, I should probably work out today. I haven’t worked out in a while. My blood pressure was pretty high yesterday. I should definitely work out. Maybe for an hour? Only if I get up now and get my morning started. Otherwise I’ll never have time to run all my errands and prep dinner. I’ve got to call and make those doctor appointments today. Isn’t my mortgage due? Note to self: write the mortgage check. I think I need stamps. Note to self: add “post office” to my errands list today. I’m still hungry. What am I going to eat for breakfast? Oatmeal? Maybe I should shower first? Hmm. Maybe not before I get a work out in. Otherwise I’ll never do it. And I need some caffeine. And at least five minutes of meditation. Last night’s dinner dishes still need washing. I should throw my favorite jeans into the laundry for tomorrow’s lunch date. I probably should vacuum. There are still pine needles in the living room from the Christmas tree. Wow. I need to get up now.

7:01 AM

With love,
Tuesday

P.S. – If your mind is crazy the way mine is  – before you even get out of bed  – then you need Calm.com. Seriously.

Money Matters

Who says money can't buy happiness?Directly after Christmas I was feeling particularly Scarlett O’Hara. Having done the equivalent of making a dress out of curtains by draining the paltry amount I had in savings to spare my family from having an empty Christmas tree, I vowed that, with God as my witness, I would never go gift-less again. And I meant it.

Six days in, I’ve formulated a plan to ensure cash for Christmas. I’ve also worked out a budget for the year, with a monthly breakdown. I’ve even fancied myself setting aside a small amount to resuscitate my savings account. I know there are all these rules suggestions about how much you should allot for saving and how you need to prepare for retirement and blah, blah, blah. All that sounds lovely and I’d love to oblige. But here in my reality, I just need to get through the day…the week…the year. Anything beyond that is fantasy at this point in my life.

Maybe try talking to me after I hit the lottery.

With love,
Tuesday

P.S. – Two years ago I discovered Mint.com and it was a game changer. If you want to start getting your financial house in some kind of order, start there.