Projectile vomiting and football

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I am a huge NFL fan….I have been since I was old enough to know what I was watching on television.  Maybe that was my initiation  into becoming a tomboy, who knows?  Regardless of which came first, the pigskin or the scars, I am who I am.

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I was fortunate to meet some good friends in 1999 who ran a fantastic restaurant and an equally great football pool.  Back then it was on a piece of legal paper, hand-written, with a relatively legible set of football picks.  I had explained to these two dear gentlemen how much more impressive it would be to have an Excel spreadsheet that could total wins automatically and the gauntlet of running the pool was immediately thrust into my hands.  Since 2003, I have grown the pool from twenty participants to sixty-five.  I am affectionately known as “The Commish” during my favorite season of the year – football season.

During those many years, I have only been close to the big prize once – and after a horrific showing in week 17 of the regular season, I dropped from first place to fourth place in a matter of hours and right out of the money.  For years, it was known as the ‘crash and burn’.  This year, I find myself going into week 17 tied for first place and the memories of that fatal crash are bubbling to the surface.  My heart is racing (thankfully I took my blood pressure meds this morning) and I needed to find a distraction to quell the feeling of sickness in the pit of my stomach.  Hence, this blog post.  I apologize for what could be seen as needless drivel, but writing not only distracts me, it calms my nerves.

I will be truly happy for the winners, whatever the outcome, but it would extremely uplifting to overcome that stigma of being the sorriest pilot in the NFL pool flight academy.

The large screen beckons, the green turf is inviting and the voices in my head are telling me to trust my gut.  That may be difficult since my gut may be sent hurtling across my living room soon, but I’ll give it the old college try!!  Go Chargers!!

Time to digest the past and ingest the future

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The tryptophan is still fresh in my blood stream and thankfully the swelling in my stomach is slowly abating.  With another Christmas celebration successfully under my loosened belt, it’s time to reflect on the past year and look forward to the imminent beginning of a new year.

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This past calendar year was filled with many hurdles.  Within running that footrace and jumping those hurdles, I discovered a well of strength I didn’t know I possessed.  That yet untapped reserve was a shimmering pool of hope and that cleansing water, along with the support of family and friends, helped me find a long-awaited feeling of inner peace.  I was given a promotion at work, enjoyed the many changes in my physical appearance, gained a new self-confidence and found a true sense of freedom after closing the door on an unhealthy marriage.

Within those defining moments, I found myself again.  I rediscovered the happiness that had been suppressed and I delighted in its giddiness as it bubbled back to the surface.  The smile on my face became genuine and no longer felt like a mask.  I began writing this blog and my inner voice had finally found the tool in which to extricate itself from my brain.  I began truly living and not just going through the motions.

Adversity is a learning tool, and I chose to attend every class to absorb each lesson that was taught.  I learned a great deal last year in the school of life and I look forward to carrying that knowledge into the beginning of a new year and another fresh start.

I tend not to make New Year’s resolutions.  I don’t want to limit myself to focusing on a few things, but would rather deal with each day as it presents itself and deal with those days in the most positive way I can.  With the impending arrival of that new calendar year, I am eagerly anticipating a fresh start.  I look forward to caring for old friendships and strengthening new relationships that were developed.  I look forward to continuing to do a job I love and I look forward to listening to the persistent writer’s voice that wakes me from my sleep.

Come on 2013 – I’m ready for you!!

The best of Christmas

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Each year, when my father was still with us, he would phone at 6:00 am to wish me a Merry Christmas and get the day started.  This year, the lines from Heaven must have been pretty open because that phone in my head rang at 5:30 am and I was wide awake (thanks Dad!!).  But this, begrudgingly, is among the favorite of my Christmas memories.

There are many Christmas traditions we still follow, and although they become slightly modified as the years pass, the holidays wouldn’t be the same without them.  After we moved to our tiny little town, Christmas Eve was spent bundled in our warmest winter gear standing at the end of our driveway.  The sirens could be heard before the truck was spotted and the lights would crest the hill by our house.   Santa Claus was atop the biggest fire truck and would pass all of the eager children, bundled tight like we were, waiting for a glimpse of the big guy before we were hurried off to nestle in our beds.  There were no visions of sugar plums, and the wonder of how he fit his ever-growing frame down our very thin stove-pipe was enough to keep me awake for hours.

Santa on a fire truck

As the years passed we began to give back.  We would faithfully wait at the end of our driveway with a case of beer for the jolly man.  I mean, he had to have been frozen up there and what better way to keep him jolly than some beer?  I’ll never forget the eve of one particular Christmas when Santa told us that he didn’t drink beer, but instead enjoyed a Rye and Coke.  I guess everyone has a Christmas wish and the following year we granted his with a tall glass of whiskey and carbonated syrup.  My gifts were fabulous that year!!

We almost missed him this year, and I raced to the corner of the next street to catch him on his way back.  I stood in anticipation, forever in the shadow of the child I once was and with the smile of the child I hope to always be, and Santa waved and wished me a Merry Christmas.  My night was complete.

Each Christmas morning, we were allowed to open our stockings and then were forced to stare longingly at the big presents under the tree while we choked down some form of breakfast.  Complete and total torture.  That tradition should have been abolished, but still remains intact much to my nephew’s chagrin.  (although my brother’s Eggs Benedict makes the wait worthwhile!)  Paper flew, boxes were cast aside and we became buried in a pile of pure love.  Thanks to my mom, inevitably, one or more of the presents would still have a price tag on them and that became a much-anticipated tradition as well.  My brother followed up spectacularly this year by not only leaving the price tag on a gift for his wife, but the price tag was hanging outside of the gift box and not wrapped up inside.

My mother had become the David Copperfield of making presents disappear.  She mastered her craft so well over the years, that we would receive some of our Christmas presents in March when they magically appeared months after the festivities had ended.  It was always a race between my brother and I to see who would open the last present on Christmas Day.  We would skilfully hide a gift or two and casually pull them out an hour or two after the mayhem had ended.  My mom really upped the ante on that one and it was anyone’s guess as to whose Christmas present was going to appear at Easter!!

As I sit writing this, the dessert is in the fridge waiting to be finished, my brother has put the turkey in the oven and we will meet again in a few hours to enjoy our family dinner.  This is the best of Christmas.  It’s not the presents or the tinsel, it’s time laughing about the price tags and the long-lost gifts that is the most important to me.  It’s Santa Claus on a fire truck and being tricked by my nephew to play a Shepherd in church on Christmas Eve.  It’s a glass of wine with the people closest to me, the people who don’t care that I have to unbutton my pants after eating too much turkey.  These are my precious Christmas gifts and the best of my holiday.

To all of you and all of yours – a very Merry Christmas and happy holidays.

Happy holidays!!

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My Christmas holidays are a mere sixty minutes shy of becoming reality.  My body and my mind are both looking forward to an abundance of cheesy holiday movies, quality time with my dog and making more holiday memories with my family.  My bloggers brain will be on hiatus for a few days – although I’m sure I won’t be able to quiet those voices for long.

It’s time to Freshly Press myself into some fleece jammies and watch my world turn into a snow globe from the comfort of my living room.

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Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all of you who amuse me, inspire me and affect me in a positive way!!

The person you “end up with”

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This is a re-post from early in September, but there have been many recent posts on Facebook that have brought this pet-peeve of mind back to the forefront of my thoughts.

I reluctantly admit that I have been watching too much television lately.  And the “reality” television that I have succumbed to is the most destructive of all.  But there is an alarming trend on these shows that really bothers me. After the self-promotion and sensationalism of parading your relationship across the national airways, they always seem to describe their newly found mate as “the one I end up with”.

Now, I know I’m not the most romantic person on the planet, but if someone described me as the person they “ended up with” I would be more than moderately offended.   The quest for love should not result in who you end up with, but who you are fortunate enough to forge the path of your life with.  That person should not sound like second prize in a raffle because you didn’t get your first choice.

If you truly fall in love with someone, that person consumes every ounce of your being.  It’s like winning a lottery that you never entered.  They become such a part of your life that you don’t know how you existed before you met them.  They understand what you are trying to say without you having to speak a word.

I can only imagine the person you “end up with” would never have the capacity to know what you are thinking before you formulate the thought.  It makes me wonder. If those words are sufficient enough to describe the relationship, the feelings generated from that union are most likely not sufficient enough to make it last.  You need to be with the person you can’t live without, and not just the one you can live with or “end up with”.

Perhaps you need to take the time to redefine the feelings that brought you into your relationship. If they are your true life partner, don’t belittle that relationship by describing them as the one you ended up with.  Let them know that you consciously chose to have them in your life because there is something they bring into your existence that nobody else could ever bring.

Give your relationship the truth that it deserves.  If you have found the person you are meant to spend your life with, be bold enough to describe them that way and don’t ever let them think they were the runner up.   Maybe there is a more romantic side to me after all.

Apocalypse now?

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Ah, those prophetic Mayans and the havoc they can wreak.   The world has been abuzz with rumors of the end of the world on December 21, 2012.  I’m sure there are zealots out there madly packing the rest of their doomsday supplies into their bunkers and preparing for the implosion of our glorious Earth.

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Let me first say I am NOT among the people who believe our world is coming to a complete and tragic end, but there is always that part of my brain, the part that I access when I am writing fiction, that leads me to ponder the calamity of that potentiality.  Within those firing neurons of my creative mind, the mottled dark clouds of possibility hover and the water that saturates those clouds nourishes the seeds of the garden of my imagination.  If the world does end in a cataclysmic event of epic proportions, there are a few truths I would like to state for the ethereal record.

I can admit that I have had impure thoughts, but that can only prove that I am human.  I can also say that I have loved deeply.  I can say that I have tried to suck as much marrow out of my life as possible, and I have learned a great deal about myself in the process.   I can say that I made mistakes, learned about the person I truly am and I gained self-confidence along the way.  I gave myself the freedom to express myself through this blog, the courage to believe that people would want to read it and find meaning within those words that I so carefully crafted.

I can say that I have seen the breathtaking beauty of the constellations unencumbered by the glare of the city, and I have watched the Northern Lights undulating like a green blanket across an otherwise blackened sky.  I have enjoyed the rich elegance of the four seasons and found a deep beauty within each of them.  I have made a snow angel, cried after watching a television commercial and known the overwhelming sense of bereavement after losing a loved one.  I can say that I have showered in the rain, and I have I can say I left this world comfortable to be the person I have become.  I can say that, while on this orb we call home, I truly lived.

If the Mayans merely ran out of time, material and energy to continue their calendar beyond December 21st, 2012, I will be back to pontificate on many more polysyllabic profundities.  But if the Mayans were right and there really is no tomorrow – what would you want the world to know before you departed this life?

Optimism is contagious

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So, I’ll admit at the beginning of this post that I stole the subject line from a Maxwell House commercial, but it’s an adage that resonates with me.  One of my goals for the year of 2012 was to start every day with a positive attitude.  It’s going to end as well as it began – successfully optimistic.

Optimism-Breeds-Optimism

It’s really not difficult waking content and rising to meet the morning when the light streams through my window and falls on the face of my dog.  She’s happy to see me come back into consciousness and her smile is the first breath of optimism I inhale each morning.  The smell of Hazelnut Vanilla coffee brewing is a vital, but distant second.

Attitudes ARE contagious, and energy can be vicariously passed, as unseen as a spirit moving through the shadows, but the vital force it leaves behind is just as palpable.  It is constantly but invisibly lingering in the air, and the mood you portray is unconsciously absorbed by others.  I know how much a person with a negative energy can affect me and I want to achieve the polar opposite.

Wouldn’t it feel great to know that your optimism and zest for life was contagious and passed unwittingly to the people you interact with on a daily basis?  They may not even realize the source of their newly lifted spirit, but the smile that appears a little wider has the potential to create a ripple effect of great magnitude.

Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.  ~Winston Churchill

Seeping into my sleeping

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It bit me again.  As I lay cloaked in my duvet, caught in the vortex of my latest dream scape, it methodically crept under the covers and sunk its pearly whites into my unsuspecting, dormant flesh.  It released its powerful venom and as that viscous liquid began to flow through my blood stream, I awoke with the need to put words on a page.  In a frenzy, I searched for pen and paper and began to jot down thoughts trying to keep up with the pace that my brain had set.  The perpetrator of the bite nonchalantly sat at the edge of my bed, grotesquely picking the dirt from under its nails.  As I continued to help the ink flow at the same hurried pace of the ideas that struck me, the writing bug simply smiled at me.  It waved, jumped from my bed and left me alone with my thoughts.

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(Image courtesy of Google)

In the waning moments of my unconsciousness, the characters permeated those forced waking moments and began to breathe a life of their own.  The inspiration was so overwhelming I had to leave the shroud of that warm duvet and sit at my computer in those wee hours to keep up the with the feverish flow of creativity.

More than a few minutes later, and after several disgusted glances from my dog, the characters were freed.  Their stories were recorded to their satisfaction and I was released from my graveyard shift of being their stenographer.  I put the laptop to rest and the dog and I headed back to the warmth of my bed and drifted off into an uninterrupted sleep for the rest of the night.

The light of the new day welcomed me from my slumber.  As I shook off the remnants of my sleep, the lingering images of the characters I had created in my semi-conscious state hovered like images in cartoon balloons above my head.  Vague recollections of the story line pieced themselves together although some details were still caught in strings in the web of my groggy brain.

The elusive writing bug escaped in the early hours of dawn and the puncture wounds are no longer visible from the late-night violation of my sleep.  The only forensic evidence that remains from my harrowing hopefully-soon-to-be-published experience are the scattered words on the pages.

Does that late night bug ever visit you in your sleep?

‘Tis the season to be…..HEY, I saw that first!!

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My father used to live to Christmas shop.  There was a certain spark in his eye, a unique scintillation that was only ignited when he was donning his overcoat and preparing to get lost in the churning vortex of people at the busiest mall in Toronto. His exuberance always makes me think of the childlike excitement of Darren McGavin’s character in A Christmas Story when he opens his prized “leg lamp”.   Blood would rush to his cheeks, there was a noticeable spring in his step and his baritone voice softly began to echo the songs of the season.  His melodic tone would lure us into his Christmas trance and we were transported into the beauty of all things festive and giving.   Until we got to the mall……

clothes fight

Taking a child to that mall during the Christmas rush is like taking a lone goldfish from its tranquil bowl and throwing it into a pond of piranhas.  I was honestly terrified.  On more than one occasion, my tiny hand was ripped from my father’s grip and I bounced like a raft down a cascading white water rapid, lost in a sea of angry strangers, dangerously close to plunging over the inevitable waterfall.

Never had I seen such a heinous display of the exact opposite of the Christmas spirit – it was full-contact shopping.  People pushed, they shoved, they elbowed their way to displays only to begin a game of tug-of-war for an article of clothing that would probably be returned on Boxing Day.  Many of the words uttered by adults were foreign to me, but they were said with such venom that I knew that my ears should not be privy to those descriptive bits of verbiage.

That shopping experience would taint me for the decades that followed.  For years after that nightmare-inducing display of bad will towards men, I adamantly refused to enter those sliding glass doors into Christmas shopping hell.  Even at that tender age, I had become summarily convinced that hand-made gifts would be more appreciated than something that had been plucked from the floor after the department store carnage in those late hours leading up to Christmas.  I was a pioneer, I was a rebel, I was scarred for life.

When the holiday season returned the following year and the threat of mall shopping reared its thorny head, I vociferously engaged in a battle of will with the sovereign of commerce.  Daughter vs father, I expounded on the virtue of hand-crafted gifts and chalked up a small victory as I watched his car pull out of the driveway on the path to the slaughterhouse.

Today, I am a proud supporter of local businesses, and for those gifts that cannot be found here, I shop online.  Parcels are delivered safely, with no malicious intent, and I no longer feel the dread of shopping for the holidays.  The mall is now vague memory of a life once lived by a child who still wanted to believe in the true Christmas spirit, but didn’t want to get bruised in the process.