Stopping in Your Tracks

“Stop. Revive. Survive.” ~ Melina Marchetta

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Every once in awhile . . .

As you’re going along in life something will happen that will cause you to stop, whether you choose to do so. It will grind your life to an annoying halt with no warning.

It happened to me on Saturday. I woke up with a nauseating, bone grinding migraine headache. I was scheduled to work starting at 0900 – and it just wasn’t going to happen. On opening my eyes, the room was spinning. My stomach was spinning. I staggered as if I were drunk. When I made it back to bed from the bathroom, I managed to call my employer – but I was crying so hard and I was so hoarse they had trouble understanding me.

*Note to self – having a cup of coffee truly will not help as much as you think it might, and having thrown up but feeling shaky and weak: yes, the blood sugar was low, but the choice of a lemon honey stick may not have been the best thing to try and get down a throat already irritated with stomach acid.

Ice packs, positioning, pressure – anything I could think of to cause the waves of nausea and pain to stop. I knew I needed to eat but no way was I putting anything else in my stomach. After the nausea finally waned, my sweet daughter made me toast but as I sat up to eat it, I could only cry as the room was swaying so badly. Once it stayed down, I was able to take pain medications and sleep.

Blessed sleep. Uninterrupted. Dreamless.

And then it was over. When I awoke, the headache had diminished greatly and the room was no longer spinning, but the light felt like daggers to my eyes. Fortunately, I took an Aleve PM before bed that night and when I awoke this morning, I felt wonderfully rested.

Sometimes I think God uses these moments, or hours, or sometimes days . . . to get our attention that we need to slow down. Evident our lack of slowing down, events will happen that require us to stop in our tracks and get some rest.

MIA

“Write your plans in pencil and let God have the eraser.” ~ Nishan Panwar

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I have written previously about the old Yiddish proverb, “Man plans, God laughs.”

I’ve gotten busy, but not too busy to write. Between working two jobs and the additional responsibilities that have occurred in our little lives – I’m just finding it hard to have free time. Eventually things will settle down into more of a routine, but for the time being I’m having to play things by ear, rather than plan.

If you know me – I am a planner at heart. I love to plan vacations, home renovations, meals, sewing projects, running routines, playlists, workout routines, etc. At the same time, as I’ve aged I’ve become less rigid, more willing to use my plans as a loose guideline to reach the goals.

Maggie Doyne is a wonderful example – at the age of 18 she took a gap year before starting college to travel and learn more about who Maggie truly was. She ended up moving to Cambodia, cashing in her life savings and opening a successful orphanage and school.

Mother Teresa was in a comfortable position teaching in a school (she had actually moved up to principal) and felt moved to care for the “unwanted, the unloved, the uncared for” and after two years was able to establish the Missionaries of Charity.

Both of these women had loose plans for their lives, their lives seemed to be going in a specific direction. God not only took the wheel, he went four-wheeling and off-roading to get them where He wanted them to go. So let’s just say that while I’ve not been as present as usual here on the blog, I’ve had my seatbelt buckled tightly and a crash helmet on because I’ve been off-roading with God and it’s been a wild ride.

Resilience

“Resilience is knowing that you are the only one that has the power and the responsibility to pick yourself up.” ~ Mary Holloway

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Yes, it’s been a wee bit since I posted last.

Things have been busy in our household with unexpected surprises around every corner.

My question today (after the week I’ve had) is this:

When someone states something as fact, but you could possibly change the outcome, do you put forth the effort to do so, or do you accept their statement as fact, hang your head in defeat and move on without even trying to make a change?

Earlier this week, I received a phone call which could have changed not only my life, but also have far reaching effects on four other people in the household. My mind started working on two planes: one on the premise that if this was fact, I had things to do before it occurred. The other on the premise that if I could change this outcome, I would do everything in my power to do so.

Plane A: began getting things together should this event occur, making needed phone calls

Plane B: began planning and gathering information, made the most important phone call.

These planes were happening simultaneously – on one level I was on autopilot, on the other I was trying to remain calm. While I was not going to actively (or stupidly) interfere with the original premise . . . neither was I going to allow the actions to happen without a fight.

Needless to say, my phone call and information paid off. Always keep a paper trail of your correspondence, and jot down names, dates and times if corresponding by phone. Four hours after I received the initial phone call, the tables had been turned and those who thought they were in control of the situation, lost control. Dogged persistence, resilience, the ability to move quickly and decisively – combined with a team of professionals who believed in not just myself but my beliefs and my ideals, we started on a path of new beginnings.

As I was relaying the story, however, several people wrongly assumed that the initial phone call determined the end results.

Helloooooooo? Ummmm . . . .no. The initiation of the story does NOT always correctly reflect the ending.

It was the same with my cancer diagnosis. My first words were, “Yeah . . . no . . . that doesn’t work for me.”

I was told I couldn’t run after a knee replacement. “Yeah . . . no . . . that doesn’t work for me.”

So when I received the call stating that there were going to be major changes, turning lives upside down. “HELL NO . . . that doesn’t work for me.”

Spaghetti Squash with Shrimp

“Do your squats. Eat your vegetables. Wear red lipstick. Don’t let boys be mean to you.” ~ Unknown

Photo by Li Sun on Pexels.com

I don’t know whom to credit with the above quote, but it sounds like excellent advice to give my daughters. We’ve been going towards a more plant-based diet lately and I fixed one of our favorite dishes — Spaghetti Squash with Shrimp. Because spaghetti squash has very little flavor on it’s own, it takes on the flavors of the spices and whatever else is included in the dish.

Spaghetti Squash with Shrimp

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

1 medium sized spaghetti squash

1 lb. raw shrimp, shelled

1 c. heavy cream

4 T. butter

salt and pepper to taste

1 t. garlic powder

1 t. smoked paprika

1/2 t. rosemary

1 T. flour

1/2 c. shredded Parmesan cheese

Directions

Preheat the oven to 400. Prick the skin of the squash all around with a fork. Cut the squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Lightly oil the flesh of the squash and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place flesh side down on a baking sheet and bake 30-40 minutes. Set aside and let cool. When cool, scrape the flesh out into a bowl. Place the shelled shrimp on a plate covered with a paper towel. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, garlic powder, paprika and rosemary. In a oven safe skillet, melt the butter. Stir in the shrimp and cook 2-3 minutes on each side on medium heat until no longer clear and shrimp appears slightly pink. Remove from pan and add to bowl of cooked spaghetti squash. In skillet, add heavy cream and flour to remaining butter in pan, stirring to combine. Preheat oven broiler on high. Turn heat to low and stir with a whisk approximately 5 minutes. Stir in shrimp and spaghetti squash and toss to combine. Continue cooking on low until sauce starts to thicken. Remove from heat and sprinkle with grated Parmesan cheese. Broil under high heat for about 5-7 minutes until cheese starts to turn golden.

Here are some tips that might help make this meal easier to prepare:

  • Cook the squash the evening before or earlier in the day to allow it time to cool and make it easier to scrape the cooked flesh into a bowl.
  • You can use any type of flour – I used whole wheat because that’s what I had on hand.
  • When oiling the flesh of the squash prior to baking, I used a can of olive oil spray for just a light misting, otherwise too much oil causes the squash to become squishy (and who wants squishy squash?)
  • The cooked squash should be still slightly firm when done, requiring a bit of force behind the fork scraping it into the bowl.

Again, I refuse to cook anything too time consuming and this is about as consuming as I get. My daughter’s boyfriend at first wasn’t sure he’d like it, but seeing as how he ate about half the pan, I think he decided it wasn’t so bad after all. He said he was 97% sure he’d like it as he hasn’t eaten anything I’ve cooked that tasted bad, but there was still that 3% that might have been “ugh .. .. ..”

So now that you’ve eaten your vegetables, go put your lipstick on, do your squats and refuse to be intimidated by the boys.

Take care!

Baked Spinach & Artichoke Dip

If you really want to make a friend, go to his house and eat with him. The people who give you their food, give you their heart.” ~ Cesar Chavez

Obviously, I cannot have everyone come to my house to eat. There is neither enough room nor enough chairs. So I share the recipes; then you can have a bit of my heart in your own home.

It’s cold weather time, which means time for cold weather food – warm soups, hot dips, warm sandwiches, aromatic things which make you sigh with contentment. I made baked spinach and artichoke dip the other evening while I was speaking with my daughter on the phone. She sighed and stated that her husband loves it, but it makes so much that she rarely makes it. Hellooooo? Then make it and invite friends and family over!!

Baked Spinach & Artichoke Dip

  • Servings: 10-12
  • Difficulty: easy
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Ingredients

1 can whole artichoke hearts, drained

1 10-12 oz bag frozen, chopped spinach

1 8 oz. block cream cheese

1 c. shredded mozarella cheese

1/2 t. salt

1 t. ground pepper

1/2 t. red pepper flakes

1/2 t. smoked paprika

1 c. Mayonnaise

1/4 c – 1/2 c. shredded Parmesan

Directions

Preheat oven to 375. Prepare 9″ pie plate with a thin film over olive oil. Cook the bag of spinach as directed, drain and squeeze out excess water with paper towels. While spinach is cooking, chop artichoke hearts. Soften cream cheese in microwave for about 45 seconds to 1 minute. Combine cream cheese with mayonnaise and mozzarella cheese, stirring until smooth and creamy. Add salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and paprika to cheese mixture and fold in. In pie plate, stir together artichoke hearts, spinach and cheese mixture until evenly distributed. Bake 20-25 minutes. Remove from oven and turn broiler to High. Sprinkle dip with Parmesan cheese and return to oven to brown the cheese on top. Watch carefully as it will occur quickly and you don’t want to burn it, just achieve a nice golden brown color – about 5-7 minutes. Remove from oven and serve with tortilla chips, wheat crackers or pita bread.

That right there, my friends, is a lovely way to end a day. Friends, food, comfort and conversation.

In all actuality, I am getting ready to go for a run and I will probably have some leftover dip as a snack when I return!

Bon appetit!

Cleansing

“Trump will be an ex-president in 13 days. The fact is that getting rid of Trump is the easy part. Cleansing the movement he commands is going to be something else.” ~Rick Klein, ABC News political director, Tweet, Jan 7,2021 (now deleted) but placed on ABC’s homepage.

Do you spot something interesting in this photo? Look closely. Out of all the people photographed performing the now infamous “Nazi salute”, one man is standing, arms crossed, refusing to comply. Oh my gosh! A rebel! In 2021, he would no doubt be tagged as a “deplorable” or better yet, a Trump supporter.

There stands a man with convictions. And he paid for them dearly . . . with his life. He refused to capitulate. Love for his family was of more value than his own life. Our country was formed on the basis of such values. Many men forfeited their lives, their families, their livelihoods, businesses, fortunes and reputations to make America what it has been . . . up to this point.

The quote I’ve posted above, came not from 1930’s Germany, but from 2021 following the “insurrection” at the US Capitol. Insurrection? A small group of protesters (without guns) and admittedly infiltrated by members of Antifa, breached the Capitol doors. Or did they? Video shows Capitol police moving the gates and waving protesters past. Additional footage from cellphones of those “breaching” the doors, show Capitol police standing by silently as they enter.

August Landmesser, the brave gentleman shown in the photo above, stood on his principles and refused to continue supporting the Nazi party of which he’d been a member. The Nazi salute was a mandatory act for German citizens to show loyalty to the Nazi party. Mr. Landmesser’s refusal to do so was outright defiance. Two years after joining the Nazi party in 1931, August met and fell in love with Irma Eckler, a Jewish woman and proposed in 1935. After word of his engagement got out, he was expelled from the Nazi party. Attempting to procure a marriage license was in vain as the Nuremburg Laws forbid marriage to Jews. This photo was taken in 1936 and a year later, August attempted to flee with Irma and their daughter to Denmark but was detained and charged with “dishonoring the race” under those same Nuremburg Laws. He was acquitted after a year and instructed to forego any relationship with Irma. Being a man of principles and integrity, he refused and was arrested again and spent the next three years in a concentration camp. Irma herself, now pregnant, was sent first to an all-women’s concentration camp where she gave birth to their second daughter and then to an extermination camp where she was killed. Following his time at the concentration camp, August was pressed into wartime service and was later reported missing, assumed dead in Croatia. (The tragically powerful story behind the lone German who refused to give Hitler the Nazi salute | The Independent | The Independent)

Imagine, growing up and believing that your country espouses and supports freedom: freedom of religious belief, freedom to work and prosper, freedom in the pursuit of happiness (including marriage), freedom to align with a particular political party, and freedom of expression. Now imagine:

  • Suddenly your social media feeds are censored, blocked or removed because you do not support the popular political party.
  • For months, a virus with a 99.4% survival rate, has resulted in forced business closures, social distancing, mask mandates, lockdowns, limits on family gatherings, forced abandonment of older family members in nursing homes with no physical contact, and cessation of religious services. ALL in the name of health . . . for a virus with a 99.4% survival rate?
  • Governors of states, such as Florida and South Dakota, who refuse to follow strict mandates pushed forward in other states such as California and New York, are ridiculed, put down and censured. All the while their states continue to flourish – even with Florida and New York having the approximate same number of citizens. Matter of fact, South Dakota’s increasing tax revenues gave them a budget surplus. How many other states can claim that during forced lockdowns?
  • For four years, “peaceful” (insert snark here) protests resulting in riots, murders, looting of businesses, takeovers of portions of cities (Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington come to mind), attempts to overthrow federal buildings — are not only condoned but encouraged by leaders in the Democratic party.

What comes next? You tell me.

If you’re reading this . . . please . . .

Don’t go along mindlessly with the flow. Be an August Landmesser in a sea of sheeple. Stand on YOUR principles.

Unapologetic

“I’m unapologetic not because I’m strong-willed or overconfident, I’m unapologetic because this is it; this is my life. There is nothing I can do, no one I can please. I am a person with a strong sense of being, that is all.” ~ Jean Seberg

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

It’s time. Time to stand up for what is right. Time to no longer sit down quietly, and let others decide the course of events that will affect me, affect my family and generations to come. Time to let go of popular things that many people cannot fathom living without.

Facebook – gone, deleted.

Instagram – gone, deleted.

Censorship – done with it.

Factcheckers – literally uneducated quacks who strike down anything that doesn’t fit with the current narrative – can kiss my ass.

Yes,I voted for Trump. But he’s not the be all and end all. While he did a great number of good things for the US, he was also human; he had his foibles. While I identify with the Republican party, the party and it’s representatives are also not the be all and end all. Many of the elected Republican senators and representatives have turned tail in the face of adversity. Instead of standing for the Republic that was the United States of America, they have allowed themselves to be cowed, or bought, or frightened of losing their positions of power or economic comfort.

Sanctions are rolling in:

Democrats calling for sanctions against and removal from office of Republican representatives and senators who dared to follow the Electoral Count Act of 1887 and call into question the electoral votes. Something Democrats have done previously in 2001, 2005, and 2017. Did Republicans call for their removal from office? Of course not, because historically Republicans follow the law.

“In 2001, House Democrats challenged the certification of electoral votes for then-Texas Gov. George W. Bush, a Republican, but the objection failed because no senator agreed to sign the written objection. “The objection is in writing, and I do not care that it is not signed by a member of the Senate,” Rep. Maxine Waters, D-Calif., said during the 2001 joint session of Congress.”

Since 2001, Democrats Objected 3 Times to Electoral College Certification (dailysignal.com)

Even during Trump’s inaugration in 2017, riots and looting ensued. Democrats were notoriously quiet.

“Six police officers were injured and 217 protesters arrested Friday after a morning of peaceful protests and coordinated disruptions of Donald Trump’s inauguration gave way to ugly clashes in downtown Washington. . . . Bursts of chaos erupted on 12th and K Streets as black-clad “antifascist” protesters smashed storefronts and bus stops, hammered out the windows of a limousine and eventually launched rocks at a phalanx of police lined up in an eastbound crosswalk. . . . Anti-Trump protests also broke out Friday in U.S. cities, including New York, Seattle, Dallas, Chicago, and Portland, Oregon. Authorities in Seattle say one person was in critical condition at a hospital with a gunshot wound.”

Acting DC Police Chief Peter Newsham told CNN, “We have been pointing out all along that this is a very isolated incident, and by and large, everything is going peacefully. . . “

Inauguration protests: Police injured, more than 200 arrested (cnn.com)

Reading the above quote, what is reported is far from peaceful. If you Google “peaceful defined” this is what returns: 1. free from disturbance; tranquil. 2. not involving war or violence. How anyone can read the quote above from CNN and find it free from disturbance, tranquil and not involving violence is sadly hilarious, because in reality you cannot describe the above scene and call it peaceful. Nor is having these incidents spread across several cities, “isolated.”

Now with the election of 2020 confirmed, Democrats control the House and the Senate with a Democrat president and vice-president. Following the last four years of vitriol and undisguised hatred against President Trump, against the working class who supported him, and virtually anyone who speaks or has spoken in his defense – I am fearful. Rioting and looting has been encouraged and supported by the Democrat leaders:

“No peace, no sleep! No peace, no sleep! . . . If you see anybody from that cabinet (Trump’s) in a restaurant, in a dpeartment store, at a gasoline station, you get out and you create a crowd and you push back on them . . . ” ~ Maxine Waters, D-Ca, 2018 (encouraging harassment of Trump supporters)

“You know there needs to be unrest in the streets for as long as there’s unrest in our lives.” ~ Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA) (apparently this only applies to Democrats protesting and rioting)

“I just don’t even know why there aren’t uprisings all over the country. . . ” ~ Spkr. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA)

Viral Video Shows Leading Democrats Promoting ‘Uprisings,’ ‘Unrest,’ Harassment | The Daily Wire

What are my fears for the future? History has a tendency to repeat itself. Let’s look back at 1930’s Germany, shall we?

In 1928, the Nazi party only received 2.5% of the votes in Germany’s parliament. By 1930, the Nazi party received 18.3% of the vote, expanding their seats in German Parliament from 12 to 107. Move forward two years, and in 1932 the Nazi party received 37% of the votes. Hitler was made chancellor by the German President and it just snowballed from there – parliamentary members were evicted from their seats (sound familiar?). From there, the German President passed the “Enabling Act” which allowed Hitler as Chancellor to “deviate from the constitution as necessary.” From there labor unions and political parties were banned and censorship went into high gear.

This is all historical fact – not a conspiracy theory, not a fairy tale. You can find it here or here.

Words hold power, and as such must be used carefully. Truth is expressed by words, but so are lies. Words heard often enough but not researched for factuality will often become passed along as gospel truth. Repetition has long been used as a form of brainwashing in concentration camps, cults, and now increasingly through our mainstream media. Don’t believe me?

colloquial term, it is more generally applied to any technique designed to manipulate human thought or action against the desire, will, or knowledge of the individual. By controlling the physical and social environment, an attempt is made to destroy loyalties to any unfavourable groups or individuals, to demonstrate to the individual that his attitudes and patterns of thinking are incorrect and must be changed, and to develop loyalty and unquestioning obedience to the ruling party.

Brainwashing | Britannica

I chose to removed my Facebook page and Instagram accounts because I choose not to be subject to the censorship that abounds through those channels. I meticulously check and double-check the news that I read from reputable and multiple non-US sources against what is reported stateside.

I am angry. I am furious. I am unarguably unapologetic because my life matters, not to those in power, but to me and my family. My stance will not be popular, I will be labeled such things as “conspiracy theorist” or “overreactive” or “lunatic” even, but I promise this . . . I will not back down.

US Election Concerns

“What kills a skunk is the publicity it gives itself.” ~ Abraham Lincoln

Photo by Element5 Digital on Pexels.com

I don’t claim to know everything, in fact I’d rather not. But I do take some pride in being smarter than the average bear. And it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to point out inconsistencies in the last US Presidential election that warrant further investigation:

  • Several swing states that suddenly stopped counting ballots when the Republican candidate was ahead and then when reconvening the count, amazingly showed the Democrat candidate had jumped ahead by more than a few votes.
  • Video footage of suitcases of ballots being pulled out from underneath a table where they appear to have been hidden after ballot counting had been shut down for what was reported to be a “water leak” (and was in actuality a singular clogged toilet) and yet . . . those ballots were removed from underneath a table and counted while counting was stopped (and captured on recorded security camera footage)? Yeah . . . that’s not hinky!
  • Sworn testimony of US postal workers, ballot counters, and registered voters ranging from mail in ballots that were not creased or having appeared to have actually been mailed in, to being forced to mark ballots with a Sharpie marker (which renders them un-readable by the machine and leads to adjudication by a person who decides what the voter actually “meant”), to voters receiving mail-in ballots which they never requested, not to mention numbers of deceased people voting from the grave.
  • Independent audits of the Dominican voting machines which shows how votes can easily be flipped, and shows a 68% rate of error in tabulating votes leading (again) to adjudication.

Yet the Democratic party, courts, judges, Senators and Representatives are shoving these questionable results down our throats. I, for one, hate having anything shoved down my throat without logical explanation. It has a tendency to piss me off, for lack of a better turn of word.

Why? One of my first words and one that drove my mother crazy. I have difficulty accepting anything illogical in blind faith. Especially, when there is an opportunity to provide explanation.

Why not let the courts hear the evidence? If there is no wrong-doing, it will come out in the end.

Why not examine the Dominican voting machines? If there are exaggerated claims of error, it will come out in the end.

Why not allow the testimony of witnesses to be heard? If they are lying, it will come out in the end.

When I am under attack, yet sure of my position, I welcome any and all investigation into the facts. If accusations are false, they will be found out. If I am wrong, I am willing to admit it, but I will not lie down and accept questionable bullshit that is compounded by an unwillingness and downright denial of examination.

My anger is not solely directed at this last Presidential election – it is a fear for the future of my country. If this election has been manipulated and is fraudulent, why continue the voting process at all. What is the point of having a farce of voters going to the polls if manipulation is not only allowed but encouraged. When the people are no longer allowed to elect their leaders, we have not a democracy but a dictatorship.

God help us all.

Patina of life

“When I look in the mirror, I try not to see myself becoming wrinkled with age. Instead, I try to envision myself as acquiring a beautiful patina which only appears with time.” ~ Unknown

Photo by Emma Bauso on Pexels.com

I believe we can safely assume that I have an innate fondness for old things. Furniture, clothing, homes, my recycled sari skirts are just a few examples. An acquaintance recently made a comment specifically about the skirts and the words struck a chord in me.

” . . . one has definitely been well used. I like that. A patina of another woman’s life.” ~ Andrea Jones

Apparently the words resonated with several women due to the comments she received. For the last few days, I’ve been pondering those words. My father lived in an older section of Independence, Missouri when I was a teen. Driving to his house on the rare occasion, we would pass thru historical sections with old houses (which were already intensely fascinating to me by this age). I can remember my step-mother and I discussing the history that may have occurred in those homes and “if only the walls could talk.”

As I wear my skirts, I wonder what occasions they’ve seen – joyous, mundane, or painful. I wonder about the women that wore them prior to myself – what they were like, their age, their experiences, whether they had young children that played in the folds, or whether they were older with children grown.

It’s the same with the houses – I walk thru on the original hardwood floors, contemplating who walked here in years past. Who touched the wooden railings, perhaps carried sleeping children up the stairs to put them to bed? What scenes have played out behind the original windows with their cotton candy glass panes?

Antique furniture raises even more questions. I wonder where it was purchased and by whom? Whether it has traveled far from it’s origination? Was it a gift? Who else lovingly ran their hands over the surfaces? What did they see when they looked in the mirrors?

I firmly blame such movies as “Somewhere in Time” or “The Love Letter” or even “Bridges of Madison County” for my fascination with how lives will affect other lives throughout time. It doesn’t have to be a life of infamy, just the routine life of an Iowa housewife whose family learned new things about her after she passed. I wonder what my children will learn about me, for they don’t know everything. I only hope they can take joy in some of the things they learn.

Being Thankful

Ever have those times where you are so simply and perfectly happy, that you try to hold the moment in your head and your heart as if it were a photograph? Memories that can be pulled out, dusted off and reviewed when things are painful or difficult are important?

While I hate medical diagnoses, I think sometimes that’s what it takes to make us truly appreciate the life that goes on around us. When you realize that our time is finite . . . . I guess what I’m thinking is that some of the things we THINK are the most important are really not that important, and the things we take for granted are some of the MOST important.

Take for instance — weddings. People spend thousands of dollars on the reception, the honeymoon, flowers, the dress. Months are devoted to planning the venue, the wedding party and the menu. Is it the ceremony that is so important, or is the years that follow — making memories as a couple? There is usually photographic evidence of the ceremony as well as the license and of course the rings. But those moments that are precious — stepping into the first home, celebrations of personal milestones, arguments and make-ups, or just moments of pure happiness — those are the things that are really important.

Graduations are just as bad — ceremonies, photos, diplomas, parties. Not that the accomplishment isn’t important. The work is generally difficult and time-consuming. The certificate and/or honors are well-deserved. Of greater importance is the aftermath — doing something with what was learned. What is the point of obtaining greater knowledge if we accept the diploma and then stop?

The holidays in our household aren’t always traditional. Sometimes we are with family, others we aren’t – it may just be me, or me and one of the kids, or all of us in one place. Regardless, it is a time to make memories. Some of my best memories of Thanksgiving are the years that we were invited to go to our pastor’s house. They had this huge, beautiful old Victorian farmhouse (maybe that’s when I fell in love with old houses). It was one of the few times that I can recall being in a crowd of people and not feeling as if I were drowning or as if I were an alien out of place among strangers. Thinking about it more in depth right now, I think it was the house that played the main character in my memories more than the people or even the food.

I don’t know when my finite time clock of life will run out, but I sure as hell know that when I go, it will be with a head chock full of memories that make me smile.