A Trip Down Memory Lane

I know … I’m super late on last week’s post … my apologies, there was a lot going on.  Yesterday (2/21) my Dad had a minor surgery (in and out the same day) but I was a bit nervous about how he might react to the anesthesia (he’ll be 74 in June and he’s never had surgery before; hope I got those genes from him) he came through it like a trooper; my brothers and I couldn’t believe how great he was after the surgery. 

So here I am at the house I grew up in; a 20 acre farm in Wheeler NY.  You know how they say that scent can be one of the strongest memory triggers … this morning I went to the bakery where as a kid my sweet tooth took permanent root, The Betty Kay Bake Shop.  It still smelled exactly as I remembered, and those snowballs (a chunk of white cake with white buttercream frosting rolled in coconut) were as good as I remembered from way back when (how often does that happen?).  What prompted the trip to the bakery this morning, you might ask (unless you know me well and know that it’s unlikely I need any other reason than “hey, there’s a bakery”)  In this case, there actually was a reason.

Tony

Yesterday while my Dad was having his surgery, my brothers and I went down the street to get some lunch (we were all starving since, out of solidarity, we didn’t have breakfast.  We didn’t even want to have coffee in front of him because we felt so badly that he couldn’t have any).  So we went to the Crooked Lake Ice Cream ParlorTony & I had an absolutely amazing fish sandwich (the fries were out of this world) and Andy got a cheeseburger that looked delicious (Andy said that it was, in his typically brief manner).

Donna & Andy

I’ve got a big hospital/needle/doctor phobia and was somewhat dreading the trip … it’s funny how something good can come so unexpectedly.  Tony, Andy and I were en route to the Crooked Lake and I realized (as we were all chatting away) that it’s been YEARS since the 3 of us had spent any time alone together (always spouses, kids, parents, friends, etc. are along), in fact, I can’t remember the last time the 3 of us had hung out together.  It was a little odd, but in a good way.  I really enjoyed spending time with them, I’d forgotten how fun, funny and intelligent they are; I think that we often take our siblings for granted.  But I digress … the bakery … as we ate we were remminissing about things and THE BAKERY came up.  My Mom’s beauty parlor had been near that bake shop; Tony said “The kids love it” …”It’s still there?” I thought I’d faint, all kinds of things were running through my mind, but the biggest was “Is it really still good?” and Tony answered with an “Oh Yeah!”  I mentally added a trip to the bakery to my “to do” list.

This morning Dad’s doing fabulous, he slept well, he’s at his computer already and I’ve come back from the grocery store and bakery run.  Grocery store … tuna fish for lunch, pork chops, asparagus, peppers and onions (with pepperoni bread from the bakery) for dinner tonight; fruit salad for dessert (and cookies from the bakery :) … bacon and eggs for breakfast tomorrow, lunch out (if he’s feeling up to getting out for a bit) … meatloaf with mushrooms, and ravioli in tomato sauce plus a few other necessities.  Bakery … some doughnuts (raspberry filled long johns, boston cream, and apple), black and white cookies, 2 dozen of their mixed cookies, 4 snowballs, and a loaf of pepperoni bread.  Nothing left to say but “mmmmmm”.

A wonderful friend popped in from out of town; we had a nice evening and a lovely breakfast together.  What we’re eating or doing never really matters, we hardly stop talking.  I absolutely love listening to her, talking to her and always enjoy any moments that we get the opportunity to spend with each other (as I mentioned, she’s from out of town, and we’re both always so busy, that getting quality time can be tough).

Our discussion this morning was in regards to life’s priorities and it got me thinking.  The biggest thing that has led me to where I am right now is that I tend to live life on my own terms.  My parents were always extremely supportive of the choices I made throughout my life and empowered me to say “THIS is what I really want, so this is how I’m going to do it.”
They really instilled my brothers and me with a sense of self and what really matters in life … my Mom used to say that she didn’t understand how she raised three children who cared so little about money.  It’s definitely low on my list of priorities in life … as long as there’s food on the table and a roof over my head, I’m ok.  I also don’t feel defined by my “job”, so if I have to clean, mow lawns or bag groceries to pay the bills it doesn’t bother me in the least; I don’t think that what people do to earn a living should matter in the greater scheme of things (Einstein’s a great example … didn’t finish highschool and had a desk job at the patent office).  However, on the flip side of that, I find what people are willing to do, the lengths they’re willing to go, to attain money and/or fame can be very telling.  I think the biggest thing I learned from my family, the thing that gets me through everything, is gratitude.  I’m grateful for my husband and my family, so that’s my first priority.

It’s important to have priorities in place and understand that all things, all choices, good and bad have led you to where you are.  Change … an integral part of life’s journey.  Generally, when a major change is coming there is a gentle push in the direction that your journey is headed … we either act or do not act (either way, it’s a choice).  Those of you familiar with Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series can certainly understand the concept that in order for things to work out a certain way for the good, there needs to be a compression of strife resulting in only one choice becoming the obvious choice.  I suspect that if you’re getting a gentle nudge and ignoring it that sooner or later things are going to come to a head and instead you’re going to receive a major shove.

We all have to make choices in life and sometimes they can be difficult … you must base your choices on those things that are a priority in your life.  For example, we all need money to live and function in today’s society, but how much we need is a life choice; it’s a choice only you can make.  Sometimes the decisions are clear and easy … other times they’re tough, it’s just the way the trail winds out.  Regardless of how you come to your decisions, be it willingly or shoved, you must live consciously, be aware of the opportunities around you, the skills you possess, and the assets available to you.  By living consciously, we live our lives rather than letting our lives rule us … the quality of the life is wholly dependent on the expectations of the one living it.  I expect joy … and I’m determined to have it come hell or high water :)

Life

Yay, new toy!

What can I say, sometimes it gets a little crazy.  Sorry I was remiss in posting a blog last week; I don’t even know where the last 2 weeks went!  It’s February already, which brings Woody’s birthday (Feb 13), Valentine’s Day & Mardi Gras (Feb 21); I’m thinking a Mardi Gras party might be in order this year :)

These past couple weeks have seemed like a runaway freight train.  I have no idea where the time went, or why it went so fast.  My Mom always said that was a hazard of getting older…a minute got shorter; it sure feels that way.  It’s easy to get so caught up in the life that’s happening, we forget to take a minute to enjoy and appreciate the things that are important.  The other morning I was up early and going non-stop (my favorite mornings are where nothing’s going on, I have a cup of coffee with a bulldog in my lap and then have a nice  breakfast with Ed when he gets up), so no coffee, no bulldog and NO BREAKFAST…for those of you that know me that’s horrific, breakfast is my favorite meal of the day.  Woody was particularly disappointed, as he got no lap time.  When I got home from the grocery store and was getting ready to head down to the shop he had his new toy cat and wanted to play; what could I do, he looked so sad, so I stopped what I was doing, got down on the floor and had a good romp, after all, he’s not going to be around forever (he’ll be 8 on his birthday) I have to get in the play time while I can.

Joy :)

We all need to take a moment in the day to play with our kids, pat our pets, and express to our partners and friends how much we appreciate them, because you never know when something may happen that will change our lives forever.  If we count our blessings daily and focus on the good things in life the other things will fall into place and if they don’t, well at least we’re trying to enjoy the ride.  Wishing you all a peaceful and cherished week.

 

Enter the Dragon

Well, it’s official, I’m now on the board of our local area Chamber of Commerce.  This morning a friend said to me “You’ll be sorry.”  I told him “Probably, but where would we be if nobody tried.” 
Monday January 23rd is Chinese New Year.  If you’ve read my previous blogs, or my bio, you can guess that I was pretty influenced by my Mom and she loved Eastern culture.  She taught me about Chinese brush painting, Haiku, the Tao (in fact she bought me my first book on Taoism “The Tao of Pooh”; it was the first of many) and she was the first person to tell me how right my Nana was when she called me a little monkey.  That’s my Chinese sign, the monkey…Earth Monkey to be exact; Ed’s an Earth Rooster. 

This year is the year of the Water Dragon…according to our horoscopes that should be very auspicious for Ed and me.  Here’s a link, if you’re interested in finding your sign.  It’s been a bit crazy; I’ve put some dragons in the front window of the shop and put out some dragon themed pieces for the New Year.  We’ve been invited to a New Year’s Eve party Sunday night and I’m in charge of the special cocktails.  Check out the recipe page for the cocktails I’m making.  Wishing everyone an exciting and wonderful New Year!

Create!

So, do you doodle?  I’ll bet you do!  If you’re doodling, you’re doing art.  I didn’t know it until recently, but in school I didn’t take notes, I art journaled my way through.  I found some notes from a junior high history class in which I had not only taken written notes, but had made doodles of the constitution, some revolutionary war battle and such … I remember getting reprimanded by the teacher for not paying attention.  He proceeded to ask me some questions about what we had been discussing and I answered every one perfectly; he didn’t realize that I was paying attention, I was just using BOTH sides of my brain to do it :)  (I did this all through college too, I think it’s why I didn’t have to study as much as others).  I think that journaling gives us insight into ourselves, allowing us to review our past, explore new ideas and guide us on our future journeys.  There are some theories out there suggesting that keeping a journal will help improve memory … it certainly can’t hurt.

I’ve recently discovered Squidoo; it’s pretty cool and has some interesting postings.  I placed a post about creating art journals, since I really think it’s a great way for everyone to add a little art to their life, explore their creativity and express themselves.  I always have several journals around at the same time for various topics … art, jewelry, writing, blogging, etc… of course, sometimes the jewelry journal gets writing stuff in it, or I’ll have a jewelry idea while I’m writing notes in the blog journal (the journals are as mixed up as I am…the psychotherapists will have a field day with them and the writing box, if I’m ever committed :)

My Sketchbook project has to be finished this month (and mailed back to Brooklyn).  I’ll get some new pictures posted on the projects page once I’ve completed the book; it will also be available to view digitally after they receive the book and get it posted to their site.  I’ll also try and do a blog about the aforementioned “writing box” it’s something that everyone needs…like a thneed!  See you next week :)

New Year … and?

Happy New Year!  Did you miss me?  Sorry, once mid-November hit it was non-stop at the shop and I didn’t have a moment to devote to writing; that said I’m also horribly behind in the Sketchbook project, which has to be mailed back to Brooklyn by the end of the month.  I’m looking forward to 2012.  (I wonder if the world is really going to end; maybe I should take out that home equity loan :)

Special Order Piece

The year is off to a good start … I have some fun new jewelry pieces to try out, some home decorating projects, a few art pieces outlined, and some writing to do (all of which are on hold until I finish the Sketchbook).  I also have several orders at the shop that I’m working on, so January is shaping up pretty well, a few jewelry orders, some framing jobs, and some sewing … YAY!

I do have a New Year Resolution … BE GRATEFUL … anytime that I think I might  feel like complaining or being down in the dumps, I’m going to make a little a list in my head of all the things I’m grateful for, and there’s a lot.  My husband Ed is always number one on my list, our family, our friends, our dog, the roof over our heads and the food in our bellies.  I have everything I need and can let go of the wants.  Our society is so focused on attainment, being defined by job and possessions, I think that we could all use a little simplicity in life.  So, my goal this year is to be … be grateful, be joyous, be glad.  Wishing you all the best in 2012.

Expectations

We’ve all been there … expected something to turn out a certain way then, when it doesn’t, we’re disappointed.  People, places, things, don’t live up to our expectations; it’s part of life?  Not necessarily.  Happiness is a choice, you can choose to see the proverbial glass half empty or half full, or … you  can accept that it is just a glass, serving it’s purpose by containing something.  A class at The American Meditation Institute offered great insight into this concept.  We’re so busy evaluating if things around us are fulfilling our expectations, life, family, etc.   We don’t  accept them as they are and simply take joy in what they offer just by being, themselves.

One of things that’s really wonderful about the area we live in, is that there are so many phenomenal resources nearby.  Let me begin by saying New York City is only a 2 hour train ride from here, but that’s not all.  There are 5 really great body/mind/spirit centers roughly an hour or  less away:

Their websites alone contain a wealth of information and you don’t even need to leave your house.  If you know of some other undiscovered nearby resources, or if you have something to share about any of these places, please post a comment.  See you next week.

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