Did Buddah have a Napoleon Complex?

napbud“The battlefield is a scene of constant chaos. The winner will be the one who controls that chaos, both his own and the enemies”― Napoleon Bonaparte

I recently discovered this quote and I love it.  Just as it applied to the battles that Napoleon’s armies fought, it  applies to how we live our lives each day. How we react to chaos, change or loss – anything that rocks our world- and how we choose to process it.  It’s only when we rise above the chaos or challenges that we truly win the battles of life … and grow from it as a result.

Buddhist teachings have long taught the value of quieting the mind and experiencing the present amidst chaos.

Tibetan Buddhism describes three gates we must pass through or commitments we must make to help us embrace our moments of chaos as opportunities for growth:

1. Cause no harm: do our best to not cause harm with actions, words or thoughts (to commit to being good to each other).

2. Help others: do our best to keep our hearts and minds open, and nurture our compassion by giving to those in need.

3. Accept impermanence: do our best to embrace the world just as it is, without bias; try to see everything – good and bad – as a way to awaken further.

I will keep these commitments in mind the next time I have a lot on my plate and become ridiculously frustrated by the person in the bank drive-through who won’t commit to a lane (in case a different one opens up faster). And the next time I’m put on hold on the telephone listening to music and being redirected repeatedly. And the next time I judge anyone who doesn’t share my point of view or appreciate the same things that I do.

P.S. Did you know Napoleon was actually above average height for his time?  Scientists say he was actually about 5’6, rather than just over 5′ as the compensatory complex has been explained.  The average height for an 18th century Frenchman was 5’3″.  He was perceived as short because he was most often seen with the Imperial Guard — his bodyguards who were above average height.

Nameste my peeps.

Twilight zone turned school zone.

irony

As I say often, “You learn something new everyday…” (And as many who know me hear me say even more often, “Every day’s a damn school day.”)

I now better understand the impact that certain infections can have on the elderly and on those with dementia.  They can actually cause delirium.

And I now know that 30% to 40% of elderly patients with serious infection don’t exhibit the usual signs of fever due the inability of the immune system to mount a response to infection due to the effects of aging (or in Little Red Riding Hood’s case – Alzheimer’s).  (I felt like Velma in a Scooby Doo mystery trying to figure out what was causing her further and furious decline.)  If you already have Alzheimer’s, infections can put you into a mental tailspin.  This was our week.

Fortunately, after copious amounts of heavy duty antibiotics and eye rolling, Mom was actually able to come back home this afternoon.  She smiled at me more today and said many more words to me today than she has in the last few weeks.  I even got some bona-fide Mom to daughter smiles which tickled me with delight.

We still will assess where we are with her doctor, but it appears that we have bought a little time for her, avoided the cuckoo’s nest/twilight zone for a bit longer and become better educated in the process.

I also had the privilege of doing a Yoga class today (hallelujah) geared toward technique and theory, which was fabulous.  I also got to wear my awesome new yoga pants. And I got to take a lot of deep breaths, which were welcomed.yoga pants

Oh, and MacGyver discovered a new Chardonnay for me named Irony which seems quite fitting. And it is quite good.  MacGyver makes a damn fine Sommelier.  Which makes me a damn lucky sidekick.

Overall it was a day of education and progress which is ALWAYS a good thing.

Thanks so much for your support on this journey!

What’s the most ironic wine you’ve ever enjoyed?

Flying over the nest.

cuckoo

“I mean—hell, I been surprised how sane you guys all are. As near as I can tell you’re not any crazier than the average asshole on the street…”  

(from Nicholson’s character in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest)

I think the universe intended for me to go to that intense yoga class that resulted in a huge release early in the week to prepare me for what was coming.  I honestly do.

Little Red Riding Hood (my Mom with Alzheimer’s) had to go to the hospital yesterday via ambulance because we couldn’t get her to walk or get up and because she doesn’t really communicate, we couldn’t figure out what was wrong.

She is still in the hospital and depending on how she recovers (apparently certain infections can make dementia worse.  Who knew?), she may or may not be able to go home since she seems to have advanced to the next stage.  Either way, the next shoe is starting to drop and I have been in full gear researching facilities and options. (These are times when I miss my sister the most.)

Hospital visits were beyond bizarre for various reasons, but mainly because 1) hospitals in Denver were full due to the flu and we were diverted to a less full hospital which was still quite full and 2) she is in a room where they put 4 people who need 24/7 “sitters” (for people who don’t understand what is going on and might try to get up and then fall).

It was like I was in a strange movie that was so awful it was almost funny.  I kept waiting to hear Jack Nicholson’s voice.

Here are some highlights:

-One of Mom’s roommates had his own sitter right by his bed at all times which made me uneasy.  He was listening to Jimmy Hendrix music and blurting out aggressive sounding phrases.  I swear to you I thought he was going to pull out a shank from under his mattress.   And he sort of had the Jack Nicholson look going on.

-Another roommate kept asking for a beer and pointing to what he thought was a beer Stein hanging up on the wall (it was actually a piece of medical equipment that did look like a Stein) and wanted us all to see it. He was the cutest and sweetest little man I’ve ever seen.  I wanted to go buy him a six pack and make his day.

-Two of the Certified Nurse Assistants (the sitters) were absolutely darling.  They have hearts of gold and I wanted to adopt them. One named Flora from the Philippines told me all about her family’s plantation in the Philippines where they grow rice.  She said if someone made $750 a month in the Philippines they would be so rich they could have five maids.

-Another of the sitters I’m guessing was from South America and was determined to find something that my Mother would eat.  We finally landed on chocolate cake and Pepsi once I got there today and shared my mother’s strange eating preferences. Worked like a charm.  Some things are never forgotten.  She also told me I have my mother’s nose and she bet my Mom was quite pretty when she was younger.  She was right.  I told her she was a beauty queen in high school.

-The unfriendly nurse (who was clearly put-out with any question I asked) was seriously channeling Nurse Ratched.

-Another one of Little Red Riding Hood’s roommates kept asking for cottage cheese over and over and seemed sad. He had a huge scar across his head.  I wanted to give him a hug but he was on the side of the room by the guy I was worried had a shank under the mattress.  This roommate’s mother came and visited him and my heart ached for her.

-There were four TVs going at the same time, plus the Jimmy Hendrix music, plus the beer and cottage cheese requests and medical chatter.  Enough uncoordinated noise to make an undiagnosed ADD person with sensitive hearing lose it. but I didn’t.

-Little Red Riding Hood has not lost her ability to sarcastically roll her eyes and did so every time a room mate blurted something out. This cracked me up.  Apparently she thought the rest of the group was crazy, not her.  Again, some things never change.

-She petted and squeezed the cute little beanie baby dog nonstop from the second I brought it in from the gift shop.  This made me happy because it made her happy.dog

-I’m damn sure figuring out a way to go to yoga tomorrow.

Thanks as always for reading…  Hug or call whatever family you have this weekend and tell them you love or appreciate them — even if they drive  you nuts.

The Good News. The Bad News. And the Reality Check that’s Needed.

Below is a post that I have re-posted from my new Alzheimer’s blog from yesterday: http://www.laughingatalzheimers.com.

You’ll see some of my past posts from Life On Wry that are related to my Mom and our journey with Alzheimer’s there for a bit as I get this new blog up to speed.  But don’t worry, LifeOnWry isn’t going anywhere!  As always, thanks for being on this journey called life with me!

alzheimer's statistic

Good News.

On several news stations yesterday I heard about the latest government report revealing that cancer death incidents have fallen in the United States by an average of 1.8 percent in men and 1.4 percent in women.  These percentages don’t sound dramatic, until you consider that the numbers didn’t start even falling until after the early 1990s.

Further, scientists report that the incidence of cancer and subsequent deaths could be further reduced if all those with New Year’s resolutions to lose weight, eat healthier, exercise and quit smoking would stick to their plans.

There is still much to be done to research, prevent and combat Cancer, the second most common cause of death in the US, but the fact that these numbers are decreasing – rather than increasing – is good news.

Added to that is the fact that the 5-year relative survival rate for all cancers diagnosed between 2001 and 2007 is 67%, up from 49% in 1975-1977. The improvement in survival reflects both progress in diagnosing certain cancers at an earlier stage and improvements in treatment, according to a 2012 Cancer Facts & Figures report.  In other words, research.

Bad News.

Now for the bad news. Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is on the rise throughout the world.  And there is still no known cure or way to prevent it, no remissions.  In fact, it is always fatal, causing brain changes that eventually impair an individual’s ability to carry out such basic bodily functions as walking and eventually swallowing.

According to a 2012 Alzheimer’s disease Facts & Figures report, about 5.4 million Americans now have AD. By 2050, more than 15 million Americans could be living with the disease, unless scientists develop new approaches to prevent or cure it.

In fact, every 68 seconds, someone in America develops Alzheimer’s. By mid-century, someone in America will develop the disease every 33 seconds. It is estimated that nearly 500,000 new cases of AD will be diagnosed this year alone.

According to the Alzheimer’s Association, AD is the sixth leading cause of death in the U.S. and the fifth leading cause of death in Americans over age 65 years. And although the proportions of deaths due to other major causes of death have decreased in the last several years, the proportion due to AD has risen significantly.

Researchers have long noted that funding for Alzheimer’s research lags significantly compared to funding for other major ailments. According to University of Mississippi Medical Center, the $450 million allocated by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for Alzheimer’s is equivalent to less than 15% of the research funding for HIV/AIDS, less than 11% of funding for cardiovascular disease research, and less than 8% of funding for cancer research.

And for every $28,000 spent on Alzheimer’s patient care, only $100 is spent on research.  In fact, the government funds more nutrition research than it does Alzheimer’s research.

Reality Check Needed.

Through exciting research initiatives, scientists continue to make headway in understanding this devastating disease. They believe we are getting close and even at a tipping point.  We just need a commitment from the federal government to fund the level of research necessary to tip the scales on a disease with these startling numbers staring us in the face.

And we’re getting there. In January of 2011, the National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA) was signed into law by President Obama. According to the Alzheimer’s Association, The National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA) will create a coordinated national plan to overcome the Alzheimer’s crisis and will ensure the coordination and evaluation of all national efforts in Alzheimer’s research, clinical care, institutional, and home- and community-based programs and their outcomes.

But that’s just the beginning. Because there are no survivors of this disease, and those affected directly are largely unable to advocate for themselves and for the need for more research (like many AIDS and Cancer survivors are able to do), we must speak out about the need to federally prioritize the impending Alzheimer’s epidemic.

Members of the public — not just medical and association professionals — need to speak up and take action, to contact their representatives in Congress and become advocates through the Alzheimer’s Association.  To defend helpless Alzheimer’s victims, much like we defend the voiceless for other causes in our society.

The time is now to take action.

Visit the Alzheimer’s Association’s  advocacy pages for a simple way speak up for those affectedhttp://www.kintera.org/siteapps/advocacy/ActionItem.aspx?c=mmKXLbP8E&b=7516993&auid=8520366

The Alzheimer’s Association — and for Coloradans – it’s the Alzheimer’s Association of Colorado — is the best place for families to go to learn about programs and services available to those on the Alzheimer’s journey, as well as about opportunities to participate in local research through TrialMatch.

Believe me, you have no idea how awesome this organization is until you’re faced with this disease and they help you breathe easier.

alz.org/co | 800 272 3900 helpline 24/7

Waxing Kundalini. 10 Lessons Learned.

buddah

Lessons learned from my first attempt this year to officially get off my butt and exercise (after a much too lengthy hiatus):

1. Too many muffins = muffin top even in cool yoga pants.

2. When you don’t recognize the type of yoga listed, look it up before showing up. (Especially if you can’t pronounce it.)

3. First sign you may be in over your head: When you arrive to check in and say, ” I called and they said this class is okay for beginners”  and the teacher takes a long pause and says “… Uhhh…. well… SURE it is. Welcome….”

4. When all else fails, fake it and act like you know what you’re doing. (No one will notice when you keep one eye open to double check during the eyes closed parts.)

5. Second and third signs that you might be in over your head: When the teacher says she’s picked out a much harder class sequence for after the holiday and she apologizes in advance.  Then, when you’re about to pass out already and the teacher says “okay…we’re almost done warming up.”

6. Do not sit by the only male in the class who is clearly an overachiever with extremely loud and forceful breathing.  (Otherwise it’s far too distracting and windy during the “fire breathing” portions of the exercises.)

7. Figure out where everyone else gets the mantra chanting song sheets ahead of time (watermelon, watermelon doesn’t seem to work when you’re chanting in a  small group).

8. Have a tissue at the ready for the “fire-breathing” parts of the exercises when the teacher tells you to switch from forceful mouth exhales to forceful exhales through the nose. (Especially if you have allergies, it can get messy.)

9. Bring a second tissue for the cleansing song at the end of the 75 minutes of hard core Kundalini yoga.  (You’ll think it’s corny when it starts.  Until you’re wiping away your tears.)

10. You will be sore as hell the next day and probably have a hard time walking down the stairs very quickly.  But you’ll be so proud of yourself that you might even treat yourself to a new pair of cool yoga pants with built-in compression in the butt and gut areas (worth every penny, and a great motivator to go to the next class).

About Kundalini Yoga from about.com: Is Kundalini for You? (the part I probably should have looked up before going) ….

Kundalini is one of the more spiritual types of yoga. It goes beyond the physical performance of poses with its emphasis on breathing, meditation, mudras and chanting. However, the Kundalini sequences can be very physically intense. This type of yoga appeals to those who are up for both mental and physical challenges.

In the end, I’m so glad I tried this class.  I will be going again.  Happy 2013!

How To Write a Thank-You Note – too funny.

WordPress-Donations-thank-you-note-in-every-language-flickr-creative-commons-440x300

This is a favorite blogger of mine, I miss you when I blink, who cracks me up.

Had to share this class how-to on thank you notes… Guaranteed to make you laugh.

Enjoy:

How To Write a Thank-You Note.]

Have you written your thank you notes yet?  

Flipping the bird. A Different Take on New Year’s Resolutions.

shoot the bird

Are you tired of hearing about New Year’s resolutions yet?

As cliché as it sounds, I love New Year’s resolutions.  It’s quite liberating to step back and assess which of my thought patterns and habits need to be tweaked or ‘given the finger.’  Kind of like cleaning out the fridge after the holidays.

Especially right after I take down all of my Christmas decorations and re-box them in the basement.  This cleansing ritual helps me settle my thoughts and reach inward to my control panel to adjust whatever habits need some fine-tuning and determine which thinking patterns need to be given ‘the bird.’ (My son has never heard of these ‘bird’ references related to the middle finger gesture.  I know this because he was the co-director in my middle finger photo shoot. My e-book on parenting will be out soon.)

So, let’s get on with it. To which thought patterns and habits shall I flip the bird to this coming year?

In 2013, I am going to give the one finger salute to the following:

1.My inner gremlins.  (Translation:  I will throw negative self talk out the window at every possible turn.) This is particularly important as the new year begins, because this whole resolution thing can often turn into a time when we beat ourselves up about what we didn’t accomplish last year.  I’ve been a lot better about this, which I’m proud of, but I am a work in progress.  My inner gremlins still mess with me.

The trick to taming these gremlins (who like to sabotage us with negative self talk and excuses) is to become aware of them. And notice when they typically start yammering. As a great book for all ages, (Taming Your Gremlin), explains, gremlins hate to be noticed. It throws them off guard and weakens them.  This year I will recognize my gremlins and push them in the corner. (This is when I picture giving the gremlins the one finger salute as I walk away while tuning my self- talk to a more positive station.)

2. The barrage of marketing attempts raging around me at all times.  I will no  longer waste time thinking about buying things that marketers are quite good at making me think that I need. Or waste time thinking about how to redesign my perfectly functional kitchen or closets.  I will focus on what matters.  I will NOT get sucked in by direct mail catalogs, marketing emails, and ridiculous coupons (DAMN THOSE MACY’S SAVING PASS CARDS) that distract me from the more important things in life.  

For goodness sake, I have a marketing background, and I still get sucked in.  This year I will be more cognizant of how I spend my time. Maybe I will set-up an email rule to sort all of my advertising emails (many of them that I signed up for in order to receive discounts that just sucker me in) into a folder that I can open only if a need actually arises?  What a concept.

3. Small stuff that doesn’t matter.  I’m going to think less about what bothers me and instead strive to love more.   I’m going to make time to encourage others, to lift them up, to help others, and to make sure they know how much I care about them.  I will forget about the small, stupid stuff that irritates me. I won’t hold others to my standards, or expect them to behave as I would.  I will turn that little mirror inward  immediately when I start to complain or get irritated.

4. Worry. This year I will worry less and live in the moment more. I will worry less about what people think, about what kind of shape I’m in, about what I wished I had done before today, about my Mom, about whether I’m doing enough, about being far away from so much family, about my kids growing up too fast, about what could, might or will happen. I will live in the moment and do the best that I can as often as I can, and know that it’s enough.

5. The excuses that stunt my personal growth.  I will set aside routine time and plan deadlines for myself this year for writing, meditation, fine-tuning my body and taking better care of myself, learning new skills and taking time to do some things that fire-up my internal engines like painting or volunteering or riding horses.  As a result, I will grow more as a person this year.

6. Going through the motions.  Instead, I will be more awake this year.  I will ‘show-up’ for life.  I will not focus on what’s expected, but rather what feels right.  I will notice and listen and observe.  I won’t play it as safe.

I realize there will be hurdles along the way and that flipping-off all of these negative patterns 100% of the time will not be easy.  (I also realize that I shouldn’t start flipping anyone or anything off in public.) But I’m going to do my damnedest to make some changes and fully engage in this mental tune-up.

It’s going to be a fun year.  Thanks, as always, for being on this journey with me.

Any old thought patterns you’d like to ‘shoot the bird’ to this year?

Wrapping up 2012 with Eleven Random Facts.

barbie

I would like to thank my Canadian blogger friends Dennis at Weird Stuff Happens to Me and Fern at The Fur Files for nominating me for the Liebster award and the Lovely Blog award over these last few weeks. I am always truly honored to be called out by one of my fellow bloggers who entertain and educate me with their words each day.

So now, because I have received these awards, I am supposed to list seven or eleven random things about myself and nominate other bloggers for awards.

For past awards I have listed what I think are the main random things about myself (that I’m a germaphobic, martini-drinking, stubborn-as-hell Taurus who curses like a sailor and likes old cars and fart jokes as much as a third grade boy).  And if you read my blog you already know a heck of a lot about me, but here are a few more random facts you probably don’t know:liebsterlovely

1.  I like plain Folgers coffee better than Starbucks coffee — I can hear the gasps of astonishment and bewilderment now.  (Thank God there is something I don’t spend too much on).

2.  When I find something I like (as in clothes or gadgets), for some reason I think I need two or three of them, sometimes in different colors.  (Is that hoarding?)

3.  I am the all-time MASTER of procrastination. (So much so that I still haven’t read the How to Stop Procrastinating book I bought 20 years ago)

4. I have one friend who receives gifts from me each year that are either related to Jason of Friday the 13th movies or to Barbie arms (Long story on both.  Always on a quest for a better Barbie arm gadget – see pic of ring holder and earrings.)

5.  I have more half-read books than probably anyone on the planet. (Most likely another symptom of my undiagnosed ADD.)

6.  I really want to spring for an Elfa closet install/makeover through the Container Store. (I go through this every January during their big sale and I never pull the trigger.)

7.  I’m eating nacho cheese Doritos right now instead of  one of the many healthy items I have in my kitchen so that I will eat healthier. (Like apples, oranges, carrots and healthy nuts – got tons of  all of these.  Wouldn’t pretty much anything be healthier than Doritos?  Even a bite of a tire…)

8. If doomsday had come on December 21st, there is enough food in my pantry to feed the neighborhood for a few months.  (Maybe I lived during the depression in a former life?)

9. I buy FAR TOO MANY throw pillows.  (It’s ridiculous. The ones on my sectional now still have tags on them until I can decide if they are keepers.) And why are they called “throw” pillows?  Are we supposed to throw them at each other?

10. I’m obsessed with 1980s era Porsche 911s.  (Particularly one named Lola.)

11. No matter what hotel, home or condo we ever visit, I always sleep on the side of the bed that’s not by the window. (I have no idea why on this one, but I am subconsciously consistent about it.)

Here are some bloggers I would like to give some shout-outs to (If you are one of them, please pick which award you would like and list 7 or 11 random facts about yourself and nominate seven fellow bloggers.  I think I’m supposed to pick blogs with fewer than 200 followers – I apologize if I goof since it’s hard to tell sometimes. Also hard to remember who already has what award. If you’re not listed, I may have already nominated you for something or will soon!

These bloggers make me laugh so hard that my family says “WHAT MOM?” or they make me think or cry or smile on a daily basis.  So many great ones that it’s hard to narrow some down.

Here goes: Free Penny Press, Emotional Fitness Training. Keeping the Glass Half Full, Life with the top down, Lorna’s voice, Ambling & Rambling, Writing Life Stories.

So there you have it.  Have a great New Year’s Eve celebration, whatever you do and wherever you do it!  Just BE SAFE.lifeonwrybumpersticker

What’s something random about you?

2012 in review – Life on Wry.

WordPress.com  prepared a 2012 annual report for lifeonwry.com, which I began actively attending to (making  myself write for!) in August. Pretty cool little report on this little ol’ blog.  (And pretty smart marketing technique on behalf of WordPress.) Thanks for following me on this journey of gratitude, of self discovery and growth and of the wryness of life.

Here’s an excerpt:

600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 7,700 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 13 years to get that many views.

Click here to see the complete report.

Ten Things – What Christmas Means to Me.

chinese-turkey

1. Family. This year, like many years of late, we get the extra bonus of having my sweet niece (aka daughter, best friend, sister) here with us. Then on top of that,  we get to see some of my cousins and their families in the mountains for a few days after Christmas which is an extra special family treat. We also miss our family who we don’t get to see on Christmas but who we keep near to us, in our hearts.

2. Food.  In particular, a much more expensive slab of meat that I usually buy which traumatizes me because This Bitch Can’t Cook and I don’t want to ruin it.  Plus, lots of other wonderful food like buttery mashed potatoes and pie.

3. Tradition. My family tradition Christmas cookies and the old tin cookie cutters that were my Grandmother’s which I use to make them.  I always think of my mom having the dough ready for me after school to help her press out the cookies when I got home.   I would help her make green and pinkish red buttery frosting and we would carefully frost each one and add multicolor sprinkles.  Every bite brings back those memories tenfold.  I can’t remember a year when she didn’t make them for us or when we didn’t’ make them for her.

4. Meaningful Moments.  A Christmas tree so pretty each year that I can’t stop staring at it  — with multicolored lights and each branch covered in sentimental ornaments.  Nothing about it matches which makes every glance meaningful.

5. Festivities. Fun and new cocktails that my niece makes for us – usually cranberries involved — with a jazzy Christmas song playing in the background.

6.Memories. Sleeping in my sister’s bed on Christmas Eve when I was little (this was a treat as she only let me do this on certain holidays).  I swear I can feel her green checked bedspread at my fingers now and picture and smell the antique furniture that surrounded her bed.  And hear myself asking her if it was time yet to go downstairs.

7. More Memories. My Grandma sitting in our green and white wing back chair with her slippers on in our fancy room watching my sister and I open gifts with an occasional giggle, especially when we opened whatever Madame Alexander doll she had given us that year.  She had a smile and giggle that were perfection.

8. Music.  Especially our Charlie Brown Christmas album that my husband has played every Christmas morning since we’ve been married for the last 21 years.  This, with a hot cup of coffee and crumpling wrapping paper noise — more perfection.

9.  Joy. Exemplified by our dog Tony completely freaking out when he hears us opening gift bags and rattling tissue paper on Christmas morning because he thinks every bag has a new toy or bone for him (this dog has a good memory).  Monkey dog follows suit.

10. A tradition of Counter-Tradition.  Staying in our pajamas well past noon on Christmas. Going to the local Chinese restaurant down the street on Christmas night (we do our big home meal on Christmas eve).  Being the only Christmas- celebrating folk there makes us feel ‘edgy,’ as my niece would call it.  Always reminds me of the Christmas Story movie (You’ll poke your eye out) and the restaurant scene with the singing and the duck (Chinese Turkey) – CLASSIC – you have to click and watch this scene.

What does Christmas mean to you?  

Wishing you and yours the happiest of holidays….

Thinking we were sexy in the blue Berlinetta…

berlinetta

I can see it now.  The baby blue interior of my sister’s beautiful dark blue 1979 Camero Berlinetta as she drove us down the turnpike on one of our pilgrimages to our dad’s house when we were young.  He and my stepmom lived in a nearby town about 45 minutes away, which seemed like a long car ride at the time. We did that road trip so many times I practically had every road sign memorized.  I was around 10 or 11 and she was around 16 or 17 years old.

Let me just say that we ROCKED that 8 track player on our turnpike trips.  I can picture us now, two young brunettes bobbing our heads to the music and singing very loudly while gyrating all over the car while in transit.  (Not super safe but we usually had a hell of a fun ride.)

So when a few of our theme songs from these little sisterly road trips come on the radio I am instantly transported back in time, sitting shotgun in the Berlinetta like my sister’s sidekick who thought everything she did was cooler than cool.  And she was cool.  One of the funniest, smartest and wittiest people I have ever known.

She drove the heck out of that car and it survived much abuse, a flood, even a few wrecks.  I remember the doors were so heavy it almost took two hands to pull them shut. And I’m surprised we didn’t wear that 8 track player out. Man, the stories that car could tell.

The Gap Band You dropped a bomb on me – (click to watch hilarious video – these guys are from Tulsa OK and  band name was based on first letter of the three streets they lived on: Greenwood, Archer and Pine.) .  Don Henley (Dirty Laundry) and the song that most  reminds me of these trips … Rod Stewart … If you think I’m Sexy … and you want my body…. come on suga lemme know….  We would sing out every word along with dear Rod.  I’m sure microphone gestures were involved.

This flashback-inducing song came on the radio as I was flipping through channels on my morning drive today.  (XM radio is my guilty pleasure and I love it so much that sometimes I sit in the car after I arrive just to listen – where else can you find a whole channel just for 70s or Elvis music? Or listen to what the weather is like in southern Asia?  And LOADS of great news channels for news junkies like me.  It’s my own form of crack.)

So as Rod started singing about his sexiness, I drove right back out of my neighborhood and did the long loop home as I blared that music so loudly that I could feel the seats vibrating.  Click to take a quick listen and I bet you smile.

Da'_Ya'_Think_I'm_Sexy_single_cover

The happy tears started running down my face as I smiled and I’m quite certain the crazy lady mascara effect on the way back into the neighborhood frightened a driver or two.

God bless Rod Stewart for his crazy hair, raspy voice and definitely for his sexiness.  And that blue Berlinetta.

What song transports you back in time?

Top Ten Things I Learned in 2012

treepiper

10. There is no need to beat myself up about anything if I’m doing the best that I can.

9. I should never, ever stop learning.  There is still far too much to learn.

8. I am the #1 advocate for my children and should never be intimidated to advocate for them; it’s my job.

7. If we keep our eyes and hearts open, an unexpected smile, a delightful conversation or a great lesson can be found at every turn.

6. Childhood only happens once for our kids, and they’ll be gone before we know it.  Even if we’ve had a long day, we should teach them every single day how to be the kind of adults we hope they will be. And a lot of that is done by example.

4. If  I don’t like something, figuring out how to change it instead of bitching about it makes a whole lot more sense.

3. It doesn’t do any good to worry about what I can’t control.  Instead follow Dora’s advice in Finding Nemo: “Just Keep Swimming, just keep swimming….”  It will work out, whatever it is.  That was one smart fish.

2. Gratitude can make a hell of a difference in my life.

1.  Life is short so I should not sweat the small stuff and instead focus on making a difference in this world, which feels crazy good.

I learned a lot more than this in 2012, but these were definitely some highlights.  Thanks – as always – for being on this journey with me.

What are a few top things you learned this year?

Little Red Riding Hood and the Monkey Palooza

sock monk

Little Red Riding Hood keeps me guessing on her visits. If I turn around for more than a minute, she will nicely rearrange things for me.  Almost always after she leaves on her Wednesday visits, I either find that something is missing or that she has moved something to a strange place.  Almost like my Mom is messing with me, but she has no idea given her Alzheimer’s.  And I have to smile sometimes.

Since we are a dog lover family, we have a basket of dog toys in the living room for our spoiled dogs to access at their leisure. As you can imagine, there is always a dog toy,  or two, or three, strewn across the living room or kitchen floor.  They know who’s in charge here.  They are.

But things on the floor seem to bother my mother, who kept our house the cleanest and most orderly on the block. So she spends a lot of her time here picking up dog toys, leaves and such.  (Less vacuuming for me.)

Our mini Golden Doodle is nicknamed “Monkey Dog” in our house because we’re sure she has opposable thumbs which she uses like a little monkey to scavenge for food and trouble at all times.  So ‘monkey dog toys’ for our Monkey Dog are quite fitting, and thus aplenty in our house.

Last week after my Mom left, I found the sock monkey dog toy in my spoon rest by the stove. Once I figured out that she must have done it, I got such a kick out of it that I left it there for a few days despite how germy it probably was. (I have germaphobe issues.)

Then yesterday after she left, I found another monkey dog toy perfectly positioned in our home computer chair, as if ready to type.  This too cracked me up. I left him there until the kids later moved him.monkeychair

Today I am grateful for our monkey palooza and the smiles that Little Red Riding Hood gives us.

What are you grateful for today?

A different kind of holiday greenery – a salad made by yours truly that I actually like!

salad

Don’t get me wrong, I love salads.  But usually if they have blackened salmon or juicy sliced steak on them, along with walnuts and blue cheese crumbles and the like (far from low cal).  Especially if they are made by anyone other than me. So I have to share my gratitude for actually finding a salad that is easy, low cal and healthy, and that even I enjoy!

The holidays are here and this is when I find myself surrounded by food that I love to indulge in and that can make my clothes even tighter. So, if I can switch out a few meals a week to this tasty salad that isn’t wracked with fat and calories, hot damn and hallelujah!

I found the recipe in a magazine and modified it so that even I would not be able to find too many excuses for not throwing it together quickly in a time crunch.   Therefore it had to use ingredients that were easy to find, inexpensive and keep well in the fridge for a week or so.  And it has to be quick and easy, and yummy.

Check it out:

Let’s call it –  Life on Wry Salad

Ingredients – (now I keep this all on hand)

-Spinach or Arugula (or my favorite – a mix of both that comes prewashed and ready to eat in a container at the store. Yes, I go for easy)

-A sliced up apple (I like Fiji)

-Nuts (slivered almonds, walnuts or pine nuts or whatever you like.  I go for a bag of  presliced almonds so it’s ready to go.

-Quinoa – (This is new to me.  Pronounced Keen -wa.  It looks funky but it’s good.  Look for near couscous/rice in grocery store.  I cook a small saucepan full – about a cup of it according to directions – and I keep it in a small container in the fridge ready to go – that is key for me.)

-Blueberries (the trick for me is to keep any berries in the fridge prewashed from the moment I put them in the fridge – so I have no excuses not to eat them)

-Light Balsamic Vinaigrette (you can make your own or use Paul Newman’s like I do)

Directions – 

Get your quinoa boiling per box directions (or pull out what you’ve got ready in the fridge).  Then put as much spinach or arugula in bowl as you’d like, toss on some blueberries, a sliced apple, some nuts.  Add some quinoa – 4 tablespoons or so – just eyeball it – and throw on some light balsamic vinaigrette.  Voila!

End result – 

A salad that is easy, tasty and high in all kinds of nutrients and vitamins that are good for your brain and everything else.  And that I’m grateful I discovered!

Enjoy!

What are you grateful for today?