Thursday, December 30, 2010

An Ode to 2010...Or Not!

At the holidays, I believe that many of us of a certain age greet them no longer with that thrill and anticipation, but instead with the bittersweet memories of those we love and have lost. I wrote earlier this month about the grief elves stealing the holidays. It’s a constant battle to keep the grief elves at bay, but it’s important to embrace what the holidays mean to you, and embrace the joy, the love, the peace. This year I have been blessed to have peaceful moments with my Daddy. He has never been an easy man to love, but that never stopped the love from being there. I have also been blessed to see my closest, dearest friend, the sister I did not receive from my parents, through a very scary moment in life. That my Daddy trusts me now and can finally show me that he loves me, that my closest friend wants me and her husband there when life could have truly turned on a dime, how blessed have I been. If you have had a roller coaster of a year, I pray for you, for peace and for a recognition of blessings when they present themselves. And to each of you, I pray for love, hope, and happiness.
So to 2010 I bid a somewhat fond farewell. You reminded me that life is a constant jumble of good and bad, happy and sad. You provided more proof to the tired old adage that the sad helps us appreciate the good, and that sometimes a good cry, a talk with a friend and a really large bar of chocolate can all really, really help. You gave me my friend, reminded me that these men love me (hubby, Daddy, sons, brothers), and that by helping my children, I really help myself. My resolution is to remember all of this through the year, and to try to eat a smaller bar of chocolate. How has your year been? Are you happy or sad to see it go?

Thursday, December 23, 2010

'Tis the Season...For Full-Contact Shopping

By Laurie Decker, guest blogger

Ever notice how shopping becomes more of an adventure around this time of year? Now I don’t mean just the longer lines at the post office and check-outs at your local grocers. Nor the flash mobs, nor just plain mobs at the malls.

I’m talking about the kind of full-contact tactics that crop up as you traverse just about any retail outlet.

For instance…

The other day, I was going down the aisle of my grocers in one of their handicapped courtesy scooters (my knees don’t work well for long periods of use) and I noticed that as I continued down the aisle, one shopper was pacing me with her cart. I stopped. She stopped right beside me.  I started up again, and she was right there. I repeated this a couple more times on the tried-and-true theory that once is a fluke, twice is coincidence, but three times MAY be enemy action. I finally looked up at her until I got her attention and said, “Excuse me, but you may not be aware. This is not a competition and there’s no prize for beating me in this race.” She harrumphed and pushed on ahead to the end of the aisle.

A couple of aisles further along my route, I encountered a woman who, well, let me put it this way; I’ve seen less gifted guarding from NBA professionals.  As I neared a shelf that had an item I wanted, she would scoot down directly in front of it and stand there, studying the various items as though she were taking inventory. I waited politely until it became ridiculously apparent that I knew what she was doing, and so did she. I swear I was waiting for her to put her arms out and bend her knees into one of those basketball crouches I’ve seen the players use when they’re trying to keep someone from making a shot for the hoop.

I’m fortunate I don’t have children to buy toys for. I shudder to think what sorts of tug-of-wars erupt at Toys R Us.  I make it a point to stay as far away from that department at Wal-Mart as possible, this time of year.  In fact, I don’t set foot in a Wal-Mart from Black Friday through New Year’s Day if I have any other option available to me; though I do draw the line at ordering that gallon of milk online for convenient home delivery – for only four times in shipping what the milk cost in the first place!

Hmm…I wonder if this game is taken to a higher level for the upper-crusts who shop at those chi-chi, ultra-expensive toy boutiques in NYC, Chicago and Los Angeles. I have a vision of well-heeled shoppers sipping “gingerbread” martinis and nibbling on haute cuisine holiday noshes by world-renowned chefs flown in especially for the season while their live-in-nannies duke it out in the aisles over the last Diamond Barbie co-designed by De Beers (an absolute steal at $85,000), or the Junior Off Roader (comes complete with: all weather fiberglass body with a protective frame, dual hydraulic disk brakes, rack and pinion steering, manual emergency brake, full front and rear suspension, front and rear suspension, three speed transmission, radio and CD player with speakers on the side doors) for a mere $40,000.  Oh, and just so you know, to celebrate the 125th anniversary of the Teddy Bear a German company created a limited edition of 125 bears of which the mouth is made of solid gold and the eyes of sapphires and diamonds. That’s gotta be a “must have!”  Yeah, I’d definitely be willing to let my nanny have a concussion if I could secure that for my little Speed Racer. But I digress. (Fun though.)

So why all the confrontational consumerism? I blame it on the era in which we are living. (Cue the band! “Aquarius” if you please, ladies and gentlemen…) 

‘Cause it’s the age of entitlement! Age of entitle-ment! En-TITLE-ment! En-TI-tlement!

Me and mine deserve the best, and the first, and the only one left.  And everything in between if that’s what I decide.

Ah, the spirit of the season! Right. Whatever happened to it? Must have gotten left behind in the trunk of the Junior Off Roader.

Friday, December 17, 2010

The Siren Call of Electronics at the Holidays

So with all the frigidly cold weather, has anyone else been concerned about the possibility that hell really is freezing over? I have definitive proof that it is freezing over and that proof was provided to me by my Momma. If you read the essay I wrote "No More Electronics In This House " than you saw that Momma considers electronics to be a royal pain in the tush. Well yesterday, she asked me to read her the blog. I did and then she made the comment "I guess everybody reads the computer now a days." Being the good Southern girl that I am (sometimes, anyway), I simply replied. "Yes, Ma'am." Now for the proof. Her next words, and I swear on a stack of Christmas cookies (I think there are still some upstairs) that this is true, "Well, you never know, I just might have you go get me a laptop next time you come." WOW! The siren call of just never know who it might hit next. Now I wonder if I can get her on Facebook and if she'll accept my friend request, and hit the Like button on the 4gaby page? She might enjoy some World War II video games. Wonder if she'd like an Ipod? She might be a little too long winded for texting though...
What do you think of electronics? Love them and you're lusting after an Ipad, or you hate them all? Do you think video games allow for a little peace in the house or do you spend too much time making the kids get off the darn things? I'll be honest - I love the things, just love 'em.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Don't Let the Grief Elves Steal the Holidays

Possibly the most touching card I will ever receive, with the exception of the handmade ones from our children, had my own signature on it. Now, I'm not the kind to send myself a card, and this was not an exception. Actually a friend had scanned in a card we had sent her fiancee a few years back and sent it to us with a note. We lost this dear man this year and she wanted us to know that he had treasured that card. The holidays can be so hard. Too many expectations, plus too little time or money equals disappointment (what - no diamonds, again? Really, dear!). But for anyone dealing with grief - fresh or not - the holidays can become a constant reminder of loss. Maybe it's that decoration given to you or the tradition that someone always participated in, or maybe it's just the absence of the presence of that person you love. I've lost several people the last few years though I'm blessed to still have my husband, my children, my parents, and more people I love than I can possibly name here. But the losses have brought with them a deeper empathy for others and their losses. It can be difficult to find joy, but in the memories there can also be a comfort, and in the sharing comes a peace and remembrance. So share with others how you feel and you may be surprised at the love you receive back. At the holidays, try not to let the grief elves steal the holidays from you...certainly not while the carb elves are busy stealing my waistline. And for Jim - GO VOLS!

Friday, December 10, 2010

I Went Plastic

By Mary Alford-Carman

I can’t believe I did this. I didn’t really go plastic, as in plastic surgery, but when I was offered a “filler” called RADIESSE (to be in a training session at a local plastic surgeon’s office), I jumped at the offer. As much as I’d like to think that the aging process doesn’t bother me, the cold hard truth is that sometimes it does. So I went with the quick steps of a 16-year-old girl at the prom, looking for the fountain of youth, or at least a stopwatch to check the wrinkles for a while.

If you have any kind of major aversion to needles, this isn’t the thing for you, but I’ve been through worse and this was a cake walk. I watched as one side of my face was softened like a real-life photo shop of special effects, and then viola, the other side matched. My cheeks looked fuller, the laugh lines around my mouth were almost nonexistent, deep laugh lines were gone, and I could still smile and show expression when I laughed, smiled or frowned. Of course they told me that roughly $700 worth of product was pumped into my face. It took that much to make me look…um…less lined. Whoda thunk?

I went home feeling fantastic and new. My husband rounded the corner when he got home and just said, “Wow!” Good enough for me! He didn’t have to trade me in for the younger model just yet. But mere days after I’d gotten filled in, at the Flea Market buying my son a toy truck, the vender said, “Yes ma’am, all the grandmama’s can’t seem to resist their grandbabies.” He is still alive, although I debated for a moment as to what would be his demise.

In spite of the vender’s comment, I catch myself looking in the mirror and going, ‘Not too shabby girl!’ I feel good about it and I don’t think that I look fake. I did it because it was free and I was curious, and I have a four-year-old son and I’m 51. Trying to keep up with the younger moms and my son is exhausting enough without looking it. It would be very easy for me to get “addicted” to doing this at the end of a year when the RADIESSE loses its battle with real time and the real me. We’ll see, but in the meantime, if anyone has any more freebies they want to send my way, game on.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

What's on your Bucket List?

In my “It’s on the List” column this month, I trashed the ubiquitous bucket, or life, list. Supposedly it’s the list of all the things we want to do before we die, usually quite outrageous things, like find the bucket of gold at the end of the rainbow, climb the highest mountain, sail the ocean solo. I took issue with them, preferring my daily reality to pie-in-the-sky stuff. What say you?

Have you read the blogs where people list the things they've already done: "re-learn French, Mandarin," "Climb the Eiffel Tower," "Run the NYC marathon." I especially love these arrogant ones, where the resume becomes the list. You've got to wonder about those people. Let's keep it real.

What’s in your bucket?
Do you think you’ll tick them off?
What’s on your daily bucket list, your real-life one?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Support your Local Independent Beauty Rep. Now. Or she'll keep calling.

Okay, okay, I know December’s essay “Death by Makeup” was snarky. Possibly even mean-spirited. I have friends who are Indie Beauty Reps, so my intentions were not to skewer them all. My intention was to examine my response to the whole industry and have a laugh about it. I enjoy makeup, have no quarrel with being feminist and wearing makeup. I quarrel with pushy salespeople, and especially those who I feel are just using me to make a dime. I take issue with women who look down their perfect noses at me and my pores. I vote for building each other up, seeing the good and ignoring the bad. We are not meant to be celebrity-like airbrushed facsimiles of human beings.

I want some cosmetics products that say pro-life, pro-aging, pro-wrinkles, pro-feel good, pro-beautiful on the inside, pro-creative, pro-you. I’m sick of the anti-wrinkle, anti-aging, anti-biotic, anti-septic stuff. (Especially now that I’m coming of a certain age.)

Have you had an interesting encounter with Indie Beauty Reps, or while being one?
What about makeup in general—hate it, love it?
Have you hostessed a party, and how did it go?
Are you okay in the skin you’re in?