Thursday, May 30, 2013

Why? Because I can.

The only thing standing between you and your goal is the bullshit story you keep telling yourself as to why you can't achieve it. 
― Jordan Belfort

Last weekend my seventeen year old suggested that I purchase a gas grill for our household. He even went so far as to promise that if I would buy it, he would cook dinners for me. I was skeptical. That promise reminded me an awful lot of the one all three of my kids made when the stray dog showed up on our doorstep in 2003. "Mom, if you will just let us keep it, you won't have to do a thing. We will feed him and take him on walks and pay all the vet bills."

Yeah, right.

Still, I was tempted. Just a couple of weeks ago I was flipping through a summer issue of a women's magazine when I came across a spread of recipes for the grill. They all sounded delicious, and I lamented the fact that I had no way to try them. But I couldn't imagine actually buying a grill. They are expensive. Propane is dangerous. I wouldn't know which one to buy. I wouldn't be able to put it together. I wouldn't know how to cook on it if I had it.

Well, Rock Star did the shopping and sent me a link to the model he thought was the best quality and value. I mulled it over. And before I headed out the door to the Renaissance Festival on Monday, I left some cash with the note "BUY THE GRILL" attached. I taped it to the refrigerator so he wouldn't miss it.

I came home to find Rock Star and two of his friends deep in grill assembly.

It took them about three hours to finish; they assured me that I didn't need to worry about that pile of leftover parts. I gave them more money to buy a propane tank; meanwhile, I ran to the grocery store and bought burgers and buns. True to his word, Rock Star cooked dinner for all of us that night.

The boy has a way with a spatula.
Last spring, cruise buddy Gail invited me to join her on a week-long, all-expenses-paid cruise to Tahiti. Initially, I turned her down because the dates conflicted with my spring piano recital. "It's been on the calendar for months," I explained. "It's non-negotiable." Luckily, I came to realize that just about everything is negotiable in time to accept her offer. I was able to reschedule my recitals AND go on the trip of a lifetime. 

For years, I told myself I couldn't have a grand piano. They cost too much. I wouldn't know which one to buy. I have no place to put one. The movers will never be able to maneuver it into my small home. Then one of my pals at PianoWorks called to tell me he had just gotten in a used piano that seemed to have my name on it. Two weeks later, it was in my studio.

I'm not sure why my knee-jerk response to opportunity is to say NO but obviously it's time to change that. As I sift  through the sands of my hopes, dreams and desires, I must be prepared to say YES to every bit of good fortune that comes my way. I'm done with giving up before I even try. No more "I can't."

Because I CAN.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Georgia Renaissance Festival

Yesterday my pal Shawn and I went to the Georgia Renaissance Festival.

We watched the Zucchini Brothers juggle,

dined on roasted turkey legs,

and did a bit of shopping.

Copper dragonfly for the garden. 
Wire wrapped ear cuff.
Gardenia scented lotion candle.
I even found my knight in shining armor.
As close as I'm likely to get, anyway.
It was a wonderful way to spend my Memorial Day holiday, wandering the sunny grounds with no to-do lists or deadlines, surrounded by fun-loving people dressed in period costumes, visiting with the artisans and admiring their wares, getting the 99 days of summer off to a joyous start.

See you again next year!
How did you celebrate Memorial Day?

Monday, May 27, 2013

Why I no longer call myself a runner

My bro and me. Thanksgiving Day, 2012.
At the beginning of 2012, I committed to running at least a 5K every month. I met that goal, even finishing a half marathon in April. Sounds great, doesn't it? Except that by the end of the year, I had gained eight pounds and was suffering knee pain I had never experienced before.

Before I became a runner, I was a walker. I started a walking program while my boys and I were living with my brother and his wife the summer of 2001, waiting for our new house to be finished. Within a few months, I was slim and slender, toned and fit. I continued to walk after we moved into our new neighborhood in October, mapping out a three-mile route, eventually pumping one-pound weights as I went. (My seventeen year old says "pumping" and "one-pound weights" should not be used together, but I respectfully disagree). My weight stayed down and I looked and felt great.

I began to veer off course after I ended a long-term relationship and fell in love with a man I met on a cruise. The stress of our long-distance relationship, ensuing engagement, and attempt to merge our two families took its toll. A diagnosis of hypothyroidism combined with menopause came next. At some point I guess I kind of gave up. Weeks went by and I made excuses not to exercise. The pounds started creeping back on. The muscles disappeared. Dangling flesh started flapping in the breeze.

Then I started running. And I kept running. A mile or two a couple or three days a week, with longer training runs as I prepared for the half marathon. But I dreaded it every time. I hated it every minute. Which might explain why, five months into 2013 I found myself in the worst shape I have been in since my divorce in May 2001.

As Einstein once said, the definition of insanity is "doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." So a couple of weeks ago, I decided it was time to start walking again. I am already back into my old routine, covering three miles in forty-five to fifty minutes while pumping two-pound weights. (The fastest I ever ran three miles was forty minutes, and I enjoy walking so much more.) Unconcerned with time and pace, I leave my iPhone with its Runkeeper app at home and appreciate the wonders that surrounds me: birds singing and butterflies flittering, a neighbor's rose bushes, even the dandelions that have overgrown the yard of a home for sale. I get lost in my thoughts and am unaware of the passage of time. I plot story lines and compose melodies. At times it seems more like meditation than exercise. The dread and hate are gone. I actually look forward to walking every day. And I do mean every day. Unless there is a thunderstorm, of course.

Now I have given up my visions of running a full marathon or being the fastest runner in my age category in a shorter race. But that's okay. Because I'm betting that over the ninety-nine days of summer the pounds will start melting off and the flab will start to disappear, even as I am engaging in an activity that feels nurturing rather than torturous, one that I will be able to continue into my old age.

It's as if I've come home again.

Friday, May 24, 2013

99 Days of Summer

To the question of your life, you are the only answer.  To the problems of your life, you are the only solution. 
~Jo Coudert

Like so many others, I started this New Year with a smile on my face and hope in my heart. But reflecting on the past five months I feel mostly disappointment. Sure, I've made a little bit of progress in some areas. I'll even admit to being downright proud of one or two of my accomplishments. And while I didn't bring all the bad stuff on myself, I have made far too many choices that have kept me stuck. For that, there is no one to blame but me.

No more excuses. No more regrets. Moving forward, I am committed to taking actions that are truly in alignment with my goals. That's easiest when certain decisions are made ahead of time. And the long days of summer, with sunshine, abundant fresh produce, and time off from work seem the perfect time to begin. Effective immediately (but officially starting tomorrow) I am devoted to to healthy eating and drinking, getting adequate rest, exercising daily, renewing my dedication to my three passions, and spending free time with friends, books, movies and activities that nourish my soul.

Reviewing my Amazing Life List and making it real. Continuing the process of de-cluttering and beautifying my home. Whittling away at my debt. Generally simplifying my life so that the things that mean most to me comprise its essence. It's not a question of discipline, really; it's saying "yes" to myself and "no" to that which consumes precious minutes and gives nothing of lasting value in return. Of course, life has its aspects that are tedious at best, painful at worst; a whiny piano student, grocery shopping, house cleaning, and yard work come to mind. While I cannot eliminate these or avoid the occasional crisis, I can control my own attitude about them, seek joy in the mundane, learn what I can from the rest.

And I'm going to blog about it.

Goodbye, OKCupid/old boyfriends/negativity/drama/drinking alone/midnight snacks/procrastination. Hello, yoga/long walks/sunshine/happy thoughts/peppermint tea/hard work/good food.

I feel better already.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


When I was invited to participate in Joanne DeMaio's book tour for her latest release Blue Jeans and Coffee Beans, I jumped at the chance. Given the following description, how could I resist?

What do a denim designer, a cherished New England beach and a dusty reel of an old home movie have in common?  All get the story brewing in Blue Jeans and Coffee Beans.  Returning again to the sandy shores of Long Island Sound, the story follows a group of beach friends reuniting after a decade apart.  But can these friends ever be who they were to each other all those summers ago?  Now one of this circle is dead; another unemployed and struggling in a tenuous marriage; another regretting a fateful decision; while one is missing a mother, ever seeking a connection she longs for.  

To the backdrop of shingled cottages and a boarded-up beach hangout, to the soundtrack of whispering lagoon grasses and a vintage jukebox, Blue Jeans and Coffee Beans asks if we can really design our own lives or if our fate lies somewhere in the stars.

This book did not disappoint. When Chicago designer Maris Carrington returns to her childhood home on the coast of Connecticut to settle her father's estate, she reconnects with old friends, sharing old memories and making new ones. Then she discovers a shattering family secret; her search for answers keeps her at the from returning home as planned. As time goes by, she finds herself questioning everything about the life and relationship waiting for her; her old friendships deepen and she begins to succumb to the allure of the beach, finding inspiration for her denim clothing line in the sand, water and air. But when her Chicago boyfriend proposes marriage and she receives her dream job offer in New York City, she is forced to make a decision that will affect the course of the rest of her life, as well as the lives of those around her.

With its great cast of characters with stories of their own, beautiful beach setting, and masterful weaving of plot and subplots, Blue Jeans and Coffee Beans will keep you turning pages until the very end and wishing for more. I cannot recommend it highly enough.

NOTE: I received a copy of this book for FREE from the author's publicist in exchange for a written review. There was no expectation that this review be either positive or negative, and I was not given any financial compensation to read the book or write the review. This information is disclosed in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 [...] Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.

Monday, May 6, 2013

It was the best of times...

Today I'm blogging over at Petit Fours and Hot Tamales about my recent experiences with the Redeemer Piano Ensemble of Atlanta, Georgia, culminating in our spring concert yesterday. Click HERE to find out more!