Getting the lead out

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The Daily Prompt had me thinking again this morning.   This is what it had to say – “When was the last time you wrote something substantive — a letter, a story, a journal entry, etc. — by hand? Could you ever imagine returning to a pre-keyboard era?”

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I vaguely remember the pre-keyboard era.  Either that, or I am trying to block it out because I do remember it and it makes me feel somewhat vintage.  I was the girl who loved to write letters to pen pals, write silly love poems, short stories and crazy plays that could only be created by an 8-year-old mind and acted out by animal puppets.

I would spend hours printing and practicing my ‘cursive’ writing.  (that word plays heavily in my vocabulary these days, but with an alternate suffix and a very dissimilar meaning!)  I loved to write so much that my wonderful penmanship turned into an obsession with calligraphy.  My doodles in high school were never flowers or hearts, but intricately designed versions of the alphabet.  There was something so satisfying about being able to create that type of flare with my own hand.

calligraphy

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Now the world is so different.  Millions of fonts can be downloaded with the touch of a button on the keyboard and all of that creativity I used to enjoy has been replaced by technology.  I miss the excitement of buying new ink for my calligraphy pen or having to buy new pencils because I had spent so much time writing that they had all been worn down to little nubs of wood and lead.

Although I began writing my novel in longhand, the novelty wore off when I realized how much faster I could record the ideas on ‘paper’ by using a keyboard.  I do miss the days of the natural flow of ideas from brain to pen or pencil and didn’t have to tune out the incessant clacking of the keys.  Oh, how we suffer now for our arts.  ;)

 

 

It was never this difficult when I was a child

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“It’s only by saying “no” that you can concentrate on the things that are really important.” ~ Steve Jobs

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“NO” is the most common word to ever come out of a child’s mouth.  It’s an instinctual response to any question or suggestion for anyone under the age of three and that response is never second-guessed.  So why now, when we have the ability to reason and make an informed decision, based on what is best for us, do we find it so hard to utter that simple word, and mean it?

“No” is a complete sentence.  It does not require any justification, nor does it need an explanation.  It is a succinct and pithy response that needs no further words to make its meaning understood.

For us to procure as much happiness as we can from each day we are afforded in this lifetime, we must learn to make our decisions by putting our happiness first.  We must set boundaries for ourselves and embrace and listen to the most important voice we will ever hear – our own.  It’s human instinct to want to please other people by saying yes, but how much of ourselves are we giving up by agreeing so quickly and not allowing that inner voice to offer its opinion.

If the answer in your heart is ‘no’, find a gentle way of not accepting the offer or challenge and let that three-year old voice in your head speak for both of you.

 

 

 

 

Nineteen going on romantic

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I was having a conversation with a girlfriend about our first really memorable kiss (not together) and I remembered I had written this blog post last year.  I love this memory from my teenage years, so, since it is Throw Back Thursday,  I’m sharing it again.

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He held my hand during the movie.  It was sweet.  When he thought nobody would notice he leaned in for a kiss.  It was tentative at first, his lips slowly grazing the flesh of my cheek, but it drew my blood to the surface of my skin and I blushed in the dark.  His face nuzzled my neck and he kissed the skin below my ear.   The movie reel continued, scenes flashed before my eyes and the surround sound echoed throughout the theatre but I became lost in his touch and forgot the movie even existed.

I was 17 and my experience kissing boys was awkward at best.  Teenage boys were a kaleidoscopic combination of raging hormones and wandering hands and I didn’t expect this night to be any different.  I was well versed in a strategic line of defense when it came to thwarting enemy advances but tonight was different.  There were no ill-timed gropes and no need for the tactical measures that I had been prepared to use.

I turned my face to meet him and his lips found mine.  The kiss was soft with a hint of controlled yearning.  His mouth moved from my lips and he kissed both of my eyelids, knowing full well I was squeezing them shut to savor the feel of his mouth on mine.  He kissed the tip of my nose and, after a slight pause, our lips found each others once again.  Where I had expected urgency, there was tenderness.  Where I had expected roving hands on my body, there was only a gentle caress of his thumb on my hand.

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I was afraid to lose myself in his kiss.  I was waiting for the stampede of teenage male hormones to ruin the moment and I had braced myself for the inevitability of something so sweet turning into something so uncomfortable.  But that moment never happened.  His kiss was his power.  He didn’t listen to the teenage voices in his head telling him to get to second base.  He just seemed to feed off of the energy that was created in the intimacy of a kiss.

His other hand gently cupped my cheek and he pulled me back to his mouth.  It was exhilarating.  I no longer felt the need for my defenses and I let myself get utterly lost in that moment.  In the maturity and wisdom of his 19 years, he got it.  He understood the magic of romance and how to build a moment into a memory.

That moment from so many years ago is still etched into my memory and the power of a genuinely passionate kiss will always differentiate romance and sex.  May we all love deeply and kiss intentionally.

Do you remember the first great kiss you ever had?

The fat lady began singing last night

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The holidays are always an emotional time of year.  This year was no exception for me.  But something else happens every year, always between Christmas and New Years, that leaves me heavy-hearted and very melancholy.  Last night, the regular season of the NFL ceased to exist for 2014 – time of death 11:32 pm.

fat lady

I am a self-professed NFL junkie and I have been since I was a kid.  For seventeen glorious weeks, I am content to sit on my couch for 10 hours on Sunday and watch the pigskin travel across the gridiron.   That is my happy place.

About ten years ago, I took charge of an existing football pool and grew it from approximately fifteen participants to the seventy-one we had this year.  With a fairly substantial buy-in, this pool has been a great success over the years and has given me the much-loved moniker “The Commish”.   Running the football pool has not only been a great challenge to perfect the spreadsheets but it has introduced me to many new friends.

There is an overwhelming sadness in me today.  Although the playoffs begin this weekend, I will miss the sixteen game roster every Thursday to Monday.  Knowing the culmination of the entire season will arrive in five short weeks makes me want to stop time and rewind it back to the beginning of September….or change lyrics to songs from old musicals…..

Raindrops on grass fields and whiskers on backers,

Cheering the Chargers or watching the Packers,

Receivers that run like their feet sprouted wings,

these are a few of my favorite things.

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*Sigh – they should make a pill for this!

Boys will be boys, and then they make you cry

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I knew this Christmas season would be difficult for me.  I’ve done my best to write my feelings into submission but they are stealthily lying just below the surface, waiting to bubble up when I least expect them.

Last night I celebrated Christmas with my brother and his family.  Nagging work schedules bumped the holiday up by a couple of days but any change in the old routine is a welcome change.  I arrived at the house with my food contributions, my secret Santa gift and the scrapbook I made of pictures of my mom so she could be with us in spirit.  What I wasn’t expecting was this:

shrine

My nephew had taken one of the candles I made for my mom’s memorial service in May, created a beautiful Christmas display and placed it in the middle of the room so she was with us during our celebration.  I now know how the Grinch felt when his heart grew three sizes.  I was so moved and my heart swelled so much that I thought it would burst out of my chest.  It was all I could do not to hug him until he turned blue.

That gift, that display made by a 14-year-old boy to honor the memory of his Nana, is, by far, the best gift of 2014.  I could not bring myself to show too much emotion for fear that the tears would come and never stop.  Instead, we high-fived and continued on with the merriment.  Gifts were opened, food was consumed and a great amount of laughter was shared.  I learned to never again go in a swimming pool with my brother (future blog post) and I learned that the spirit of Christmas was not tarnished by the absence of my mother, but lives on in the way we keep her spirit alive.

The tears finally came shortly after I got home.  They did not come slowly or poetically but exploded out of my body to make room for my swollen heart.  I can only hope that both of my nephews learned a few things about Christmas.  It isn’t about the material things wrapped in bags or boxes.  Christmas is about the people who are wrapped in your heart and doing everything you can to make sure they stay there.

Merry Christmas to all of you and may you enjoy the true spirit of the holidays.

Ho Ho Holy Shopping Wars Batman!!

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My father used to love 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.

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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 pool 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.

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 revolving 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 7 years old and 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 “malled” in the process.

The perception of time

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“Time you enjoy wasting, was not wasted.” ~ John Lennon

Time is a less of a constant than it is an illusion.  Although it seems linear, it can deviate from its path if  you are not keeping track of it at every turn.  Time can occasionally seem like it is a figment of your imagination.

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Yesterday, I experienced time on a whole new level.  My hour-long drive seemed to take a week and the four hours I spent catching up with an old friend was gone in the blink of an eye.  And although twenty-five years have passed since we last saw each other, the ease of the conversation made that twenty-five years feel like only one year.

Time has a unique way of showing us what really matters.  The faster those seconds tick by, the more you want to make that clock stop and hang onto those moments.  Because time really is measured by those moments and not by a clock.  You will never remember the counting of those seconds, but you will remember the company you shared and the laughs you had as those seconds unknowingly ticked by.

I can only hope that the time that passes between now and our next visit doesn’t feel like another twenty-five years.