Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Time for a funeral - Part 1

When I was a senior in high school, I had an excellent english writing teacher. There were several things about her that I truly admired and have tried to emulate as an adult.

First, she had a way of quieting the volume level in the room that I truly admired. If members of the class were being particularly obnoxious and talking with one another rather than listening to her, she didn't shout or make a loud noise or call the offenders out in any way. She simply stopped talking. It was genius! She would stop whatever she was doing and simply stand there looking at them. She didn't scowl or glare at them. She simply stood patiently until they stopped. Most of the time the offenders would notice and stop on their own, but if they didn't, other members of the class would do her dirty work and tell them to be quiet. It was so simple....and so effective!

She also had a way of teaching a lesson in a way that made it stick in our minds. For instance, apparently there were quite a few members of our class who thought that "alot" was a word. So one day she came into class dressed all in black with a black lace veil. She cued up a tape of a funeral dirge and proceeded to tell us that that day we were having a funeral for "alot". She eulogized "alot" and everything. It was great. To this day, 20+ years later, I ALWAYS remember that "alot" is not a word and, in fact, I believe she improved my writing as a whole because I never use "a lot" if I can substitute something else that is more descriptive.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Maybe it was Plan B all along

Driving home this evening, Colbie Caillat's remake/remix of The Script's Breakeven song came on the radio. This was maybe the third or fourth time I'd heard it. I remember the first time I heard it, I was completely mesmerized. I loved it from the first second. I loved it in a put-it-on-repeat-until-the-record-breaks kind of way. Yes, I'd heard the lyrics and tune before, but somehow THIS version spoke to me in a way that the original hadn't.

The original "Breakeven" by The Script:

The Colbie Caillat remix/remake:

This made me think of the Dixie Chick's remake of the original Fleetwood Mac "Landslide". It was another song that I was surprised when I loved the cover more than the original and the original is an amazing song. Once again, something about the Dixie Chicks cover spoke to me.

The original "Landslide" by Fleetwood Mac:

The Dixie Chicks cover of "Landslide":

As my mind continued to wander, it occurred to me that maybe sometimes life is like that.  After all, some people believe that The Godfather II was better than the original.

Maybe sometimes the first version is not the best version.

On the cusp of my 40th birthday, I can't help but think this life that I'm leading was most definitely NOT the first version of my plan. In Plan A, by the time I was 40, I would be well-established and well thought of in my career. I would be witnessing life through the eyes of my teenage child as they experienced all of the teenaged angst as I once did. I would curl up at night next to my partner, my rock, my husband.

Instead, my life has become Plan B. Not only do I not have a teenager, I have no children at all. I stopped taking exams long ago and have settled as a data analyst rather than a full-fledged actuary. The only thing curling up next to me as I nod off at night is a dog.  And that's only on her terms ..... if she's cold.

On the other hand, Plan B has a lot to recommend it. Outside of my work commitments, I have lots of freedom and answer to no one. If I want to take off for a ride on my motorcycle or spend a whole Saturday playing bridge, I can do it. As long as the dog gets walked and the bills get paid, my time is my own.  A few weeks ago I bought a new car. I did my research to make sure I was making a good purchase, but other than that, I consulted no one. I didn't ask for anyone's opinion and it didn't occur to me to do so.

I often times also think that if I was knee deep in Plan A, I wouldn't be the person I am today. I can imagine that with my upbringing, I would have simply followed the herd and done what everyone else does. The sad thing is that it never would have occurred to me to STOP following the herd and figure out who I really am. For me, this journey to self-discovery is best undertaken all by myself. My inner voice is awfully quiet and if I wasn't able to get away from it all, I might never hear what she has to say.

So maybe some day when I am old and gray, I will look back and realize that Plan B was always the song that spoke to me.

Friday, June 14, 2013

8 a day for good health

“It was just a hug, but gods, it meant so much. It meant everything.” 

I need more hugs. There. I said it.

I recently read a quote that said we need
* 4 hugs a day for survival.
* 8 hugs a day for maintenance.
* 12 hugs a day for growth.

On an average day, are you surviving, maintaining or growing?

Growing up, I don't remember a lot of hugging going on in my family. My mom didn't really tuck me into bed at night because she was usually still at work. I didn't witness any spontaneous hugging between my parents. Even to this day, my dad is one of the most awkward huggers I've experienced. I think it comes from the fact that HIS family weren't huggers. The only time that there was much of any hugging in my house growing up was when family came to visit for holidays. Then it could be heard, "Heather, come give your aunt and uncle a hug before they leave."

I remember wanting more hugs.

There really is very little that is better than a really great hug. Whether we are each huggers or not, we all  KNOW what a good hug feels like. And what a less than ideal hug feels like.

I hate one-armed huggers. I'm not referring to those people who have had to experience an amputation, but those people whose attempts at hugging are half-hearted at best. And you can tell. They think that just swinging one arm around for 1/2 a second counts as a hug. It doesn't.

I think a real hug only occurs when your arms are emptied and your hearts are filled. A real hug involves two people sharing a moment of contact with one another where they exchange the heat of their bodies and the warmth of their hearts.

There is a young man at the church that I go to who is a blue-ribbon, gold-medal, 5-star award-winning hugger! During the "passing of the peace" when others are greeting one another with a nod or a handshake or a "Peace be with you", he is hugging. He hugs his family and his friends. He hugs acquaintance and people who are first-time visitors.

I admire him. I wish I could be that kind of a hugger.

I know that we all need hugs and most people want hugs, but I still find myself afraid of that wretched possibility of rejection. There's the possibility that someone could say, "I'm not a hugger." If they do, should  I take it personally? Is it that they just don't want to hug me?

I swear I shower every day and brush twice a day, but I seem to have this affect on other creatures, human or otherwise.

I often overhear people complaining about their dogs who ALWAYS have to be near them and are constantly wanting to be petted. Oh, how I wish for this problem. Sasha is literally the only dog I've ever met that has zero interest in being petted. At least by me.  One of my cats occasionally comes out of hiding long enough to rub up against my leg, but then only lets me stroke her once or twice before running off again.

On a recent trip to visit my family, as I was getting ready to leave, I asked my 2 1/2 year-old niece if I could have a hug. Her response was an adamant "NO!" I tried not to let it break my heart.

On an average day, according to the 4/8/12 hug standard, I am coming in well below survival status.  With no husband, no one that I'm dating, no roommate and no family around, I literally can't remember the last time anyone hugged me.

Maybe it's because others have that same fear of being rejected.

So, how do we turn this around? How do we make sure each of us is getting enough daily hugs for growth?

Here's my challenge to you:

* Tomorrow, make sure you get enough hugs to survive.
* The next day, make sure you get enough hugs to maintain.
* Every day after that, make sure you get enough hugs to grow.

After all, it takes two to make a great hug. If you're getting the proper hug dosage each day, then you're helping to make sure someone else does too.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Happy Birthday, Ella!

Today would have been the 96th birthday of the incomparable Ella Fitzgerald. Here's to you, Ms. Fitzgerald!

If I should suddenly start to sing
Or stand on my head or anything
Don't think that I've lost my senses
It's just that my happiness finally commences

The long long ages of dull despair
Are turning into thin air
And it seems that suddenly I've
Become the happiest girl alive

Things are looking up
I've been looking the landscape over
And it's covered with 4 leaf clover
Oh things are looking up
Since love looked up at me

Bitter was my cup
But no more will I be the mourner
For I've certainly turned the corner
Oh things are looking up
Since love looked up at me

See the sunbeams
Every one beams
Just because of you
Love's in session
And my depression
Is unmistakably through

Things are looking up
It's a great little world we live in
Oh I'm happy as a pup
Since love looked up at me


See the sunbeams
Every one beams
Just because of you
Love's in session
And my depression
Is unmistakably through

Things are looking up
It's a great little world we live in
Oh I'm happy as a pup
Since love looked up at me

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Adele - Best for Last

Best for Last

Wait, do you see my heart on my sleeve?
It's been there for days on end and
It's been waiting for you to open up
Just you baby, come on now
I'm trying to tell you just how
I'd like to hear the words roll out of your mouth finally
Say that it's always been me

That's made you feel a way you've never felt before
And I'm all you need and that you never want more
Then you'd say all of the right things without a clue
But you'd save the best for last
Like I'm the one for you

You should know that you're just a temporary fix
This is not rooted with you it don't mean that much to me
You're just a filler in the space that happened to be free
How dare you think you'd get away with trying to play me

Why is it everytime I think I've tried my hardest
It turns out it ain't enough cause you're still not mentioning love
What am I supposed to do to make you want me properly?
I'm taking these chances and getting away
And though I'm trying my hardest you go back to her
And I think that I know things may never change
I'm still hoping one day I might hear you say

I make you feel a way you've never felt before
And I'm all you need and that you never want more
Then you'd say all of the right things without a clue
But you'd save the best for last
Like I'm the one for you

You should know that you're just a temporary fix
This is not rooted with you it don't mean that much to me
You're just a filler in the space that happened to be free
How dare you think you'd get away with trying to play me

But, despite the truth that I know
I find it hard to let go and give up on you
Seems I love the things you do
Like the meaner you treat me the more eager I am
To persist with this heartbreak and running around
And I think that I know things may never change
I'm still hoping one day I might hear you say

I make you feel a way you've never felt before
And I'm all you need and that you never want more
And we'll say all of the right things without a clue
And you'll be the one for me and me the one for you

Friday, February 22, 2013

Weekend Showoff

I'm participating in the Weekend Showoff over at Ladybird Ln!  Check it out!

Ladybird Ln

Lent Project: #3 Baby Ballistic Vest

Sometimes my mad sewing skills go unrecognized. Other times, I am called upon to fill requests by friends and family members. Lent Sewing Project #3 is most definitely the latter.

Earlier this week, my sister-in-law sent me a message via Facebook with a special request. She and my brother are attempting to get my niece potty-trained and apparently they told her that if she would wear big girl panties, she could have her own ballistic vest. Her daddy (my brother) is a police officer and he wears one. She wants to be just like her daddy!

So, it's Aunt Heather to the rescue!  When they made this somewhat odd request, I knew exactly what I would use. Black pre-quilted fabric was the only logical choice. It gives that quilted kevlar look and weighs next to nothing. Score!

The supplies I used for this project were:
  • Pre-quilted black fabric (cotton)
  • Black double-fold bias tape
  • Velcro
  • White fuzzy iron-on letters.
Total cost: just under $10. (And I still have some letters and about 1/4 yard of fabric remaining.)

I started with Miss Madi's measurements and it just worked out that if I folded the fabric in half, it was the perfect length to go from her neck to her waist. Yay!
Once I had folded it half, I cut it evenly on each side to be the right width and I used a saucepan lid to cut the neck hole in the center. Hey, you use what you have, right?

I then finished off each of the edges with the double-fold bias tape and cut the fuzzy side of the velcro into 3 even pieces which nearly matched the width of the vest. I evenly spaced those across the bottom of the front of the vest and sewed them down. I then cut the scratchy part of the velcro into 6 even pieces and sewed them to the back of the vest so that they can wrap around the front and keep the vest in place while she's wearing it.

Finally, after testing out a few seldom-used letters on a scrap piece of fabric (thank goodness I did!), I ironed on the letters in the word "POLICE" to the front of the vest.

Total time from start to finish: less than 3 hours. I didn't think that was bad considering I had no pattern, I was just winging it and I'm a very slow seamstress.

I can't wait to see it on her and to see her reaction to it!  I'm so excited and I'm thrilled with the way it turned out!  I might just have to make one for myself for my Halloween costume this year!!

To see the whole list of Lent projects, go here.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Lent: Project #2

Project #2 on my Lenten Sewing To Do List: A black and red fleece "no sew" throw.

Ok, officially this particular project is not a sewing project, but since it is fabric-related and was taking up space in my craft room, it counts for my purposes. Hey. It's my list, right?

Although I'd heard they weren't difficult, I'd never actually tackled one of these fleece blankets that you tie. Difficult? No Time consuming? A bit. I picked up this blanket on clearance at Joann's a few months back for a little less than $16.00. I chose to "weave" the edges together rather than tie it and I like the way it turned out. I simply pinned the edges together all the way around so that all of the edges would match, snipped a fringe that was about 4 inches deep and about 1 inch wide, snipped a slit in the middle of each fringe and then alternated weaving the black fleece part and the patterned fleece parts. It ended up making what sort of looks like a braided edge.

 For my next feat of creativity, I will do another no-sew fleece blanket. This time it will be pink and brown for my bedroom and I think I'll do the traditional tying of the edges.  Stay tuned!

To see the whole list of Lent projects, go here.

My latest love affair

Anyone who really knows me knows that music is very important to me. Whether it's on purpose or not, I am constantly on the lookout for musical artists that move me in some way. Most of the time, I stumble upon them through friends who know of my interest or by going to some show in a small, poorly lit bar. It is not often that I come across a group that I really enjoy that is on the verge of going mainstream.

So imagine my surprise when I was awestruck by Alabama Shakes on Saturday Night Live this past weekend!  They are most definitely my current obsession. I love the lead singer's raspy voice and the lyrics are amazing.

Here are a few of my favorites right now:

Hold On

Boys and Girls

I Found You

Friday, February 15, 2013

Lent: Project #1

I grew up in the Lutheran church and because the denomination originally branched off from the Catholic church, many followers give up something for the season of Lent. In the past, I've given up chocolate, soda, complaining, etc etc etc. In some years I've also added an activity (prayer, exercise, etc) to each day. 

Although I now consider myself more spiritual than religious, some habits die hard. At this point, my life and schedule has become so hectic (as evidenced by my virtual MIA status on here) I think giving something up would be easy. Instead, I've decided to challenge myself by adding an activity to my schedule.

I'll use the time that I spend on that activity in a sort of meditation in the way I've heard many people do with household chores they don't like. I'll give my thoughts during that time up to the universe and ask that she bless the work of my hands and the results of my actions.

So, what activity am I adding? Sewing. I enjoy sewing quite a bit, but I've bitten off quite a bit in the last 6 months and it's time to start whittling down that To Do list! My plan is to spend at least 20 minutes each day sewing. Wish me luck because at this point, there are some days where finding 20 minutes to eat is a struggle!

Projects on my To Do list (Sewing Edition):
  • Old sweater to new pillow
  • Napkin pillows (X 4)
  • T-shirt quilt - Haley
  • T-shirt quilt - Erin
  • T-shirt quilt - IU
  • T-shirt quilt - Car emergency blanket
  • Charity quilt
  • Crown Royal quilt
  • Brown/pink lap quilt for bedroom
  • Brown/pink fleece tied blanket
  • Red/Black lap quilt for living room
  • Red/Black fleece tied blanket
  • Comforter fix/transformation
  • Car seat covers
  • Xmas gift for Chris #1
  • Xmas gift for Chris #2
  • Madi's quiet books (X2)
  • "Ballistic vest" for Madi
  • Cover wire-framed "baskets"
  • (other items to be added as I remember them)
Whew!! That is quite a list when I write it all down!

True to my word, I got started promptly on Ash Wednesday. Last night I finished up the first project. Yay!


I had a black cashmere sweater that is so soft and that I LOVED. I bought it about 10 years ago and basically wore it until I discovered a hole under the arm a few months back. I was crushed!!

I try not to be a hoarder, but I decided that rather than get rid of it, I would keep it and see if there was anything I could do with it. A few days ago, I was thinking about pillows for my living room. The room has black furniture and red walls and I thought that a cashmere pillow would make a lovely addition to the room.

Since I already had pillow forms at my house, I cut off the offensive holey sleeves, stitched up the bottom, sides and top, added a piece of fabric that I already had laying around as a little bow and popped the new addition on the couch. Doesn't she look so pretty? Total cost? $0.00. Yay!

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Dar Williams - Farewell to the Old Me

[Click here to play the song]

"Farewell to the Old Me" - Dar Williams
How can I ask love to hold the mysteryWhen just look at meIt's all push and pull collateralI don't want to be the one who gets the next surpriseI'll plan it out this timeThough I used to think that things were meant to be

Farewell to the old meFarewell to the old meMy life is working better nowIt's always changing anyhow

I danced a lot of nights until the grass was wetIt wasn't over yet'Round 'bout 3 am you made a friendAnd I followed a lot of vital crazy thoughts becauseIt's where the meaning wasAnd I tried to find it every other way

Farewell to the old meFarewell to the old meMy life is working better nowBut always changing anyhow

But I can turn on the charmAnd show them nothing moreThan what I've done beforeIt's nothing much newBut it'll do

'Cause I don't wanna be the oneWho makes you laugh out loudI wanna make you proudAnd you always said you knew what I could be
So farewell to the old me
Farewell to the old meFarewell to the old meMy life is working better nowBut always changing anyhow

Time and the old meFarewell to the old meFarewell

Friday, January 18, 2013

Lottery win - check!

$100 win from a $1 ticket. Not too shabby. I guess I get to cross that off of the list!

  Happy Friday, ya'll!


Blog Widget by LinkWithin