Saturday, December 27, 2014

Gearing Up


I have been thinking a lot about my 'goals'.
All of the things I either want to do or change in the new year.
Quite honestly, there really isn't anything new on my list.
Each year, the same issues tend to be there...and each year, I haven't really done anything to turn these things around.
I know my biggest hurdle is myself.
If I am really excited about something....I will make it happen.
But typically...the things that I want to change in my life never make it on to my list of "Things I Am REALLY Excited About!"
Usually, that list contains things that I want to pursue....and can achieve rather quickly.
For instance:  I may decide I really want to switch things up in a room in my house.  So, I will find a way to save up the money I need, and then hunt down exactly what I am looking for to transform that room into exactly what I want.

Or, maybe I want a different car.  So...I will figure out a way to make that happen.

Or....perhaps I want to put on some big concert for whatever reason.  So....I will make that happen.
These sorts of things are easily attained...and I enjoy the process.
However, the same does not apply to the goals I have year after year.
I do NOT enjoy trying to lose 20-30 pounds...and keep it off.
I do not enjoy attempting to keep my house spotless and organized.
(I would enjoy it if it WERE spotless an organized!)
I do not enjoy sticking to a strict budget.

These things I NEED to do...but my follow through is horrible...because I am not motivated to do them.  Even though being successful would make me really happy, and I know I would feel so much better....the process is difficult, and I am such a pushover when it comes to that little voice in my head.
I am SO good at justifying every dumb move I make.
Just last night, after I shoved three cookies in my mouth, I said to myself "'s okay.  You don't have to be good until January 1."
Well...I have been saying that for over 30 years now.  A lot of good that has done.
So, my objective is to find get excited about the things that typically do not really excite me at all.
And, to make a plan....not just a list.

I also want to move beyond my life revolving around my weight, or how clean my house is, or if I am sticking to my budget.
I think a big part of being successful in these everyday tasks (struggles!) has a lot to do with how good you feel...on the inside.
Winter can be a rough season for a lot of us.  It's cold, it's dark, and it's long.  
For me, it is really easy to fall into old habits.  It's easy to close myself off from the world, and hide in my bed....which is the opposite of what I need to be doing.
So, my goals for this year will encompass not just working on the outside of me...but also working on the inside too.

I found an article on the Components of Mindful living that I will share with you.

Becoming an observer.  Practicing non-judgmental awareness of the present moment.
"For as he thinks in his heart, so is he."
Proverbs 23:7

Living from the heart and soul, not from unhealthy coping skills and ego.
Embracing all moments in life for learning, seek personal truth and acceptance.
A responsive and proactive head-space, not reacting or on auto-pilot.
Accepting the imperfect, unnecessary kindness, love in action, forgiveness.
Why Mindful Living?
Mindfulness is THE healthy coping skill, which takes the place of self-destructive behaviors.

"Be very careful about what you think, your thoughts run your life."
Proverbs 4:23

How do you start?

Forgive the past
Let go of expectations
Focus on your breath
Engage the senses
Observe the present moment
Release any judgement
Practice gratitude
Reflect before responding
I often find it is so easy to get wrapped up in all of the things we have to do, in all of the things that are causing us to worry, or feel stress, or make us ask "why me?!"
No matter where we are, or who we encounter in life...there will always be people who are so much better off than we are...and there will always be people who, from their perspective, could never even imagine having all that we have.
It really is all a matter of perspective.
I know when I was forking out check after check for those car repairs over the past couple of weeks, I was feeling pretty sorry for myself.
I was thinking about how this would be pocket change for some of our family members, but it was eating up our entire mortgage payment for the month for us.
But then I stepped back.  And I read over all of the components listed above, I realize how silly it is to think in such a close minded manner.

And great "Transformation of 2015" is going to start with my way of thinking....or maybe I should say....will build on my way of thinking, as this is something I have been working on already.
And next....the great junk food purge.
I guess I know what will be on the menu until Jan 1!
Time to clear out all of the cupboards!
I have a feeling my kids won't mind eating snacks most of next week.
Have a super Saturday!

Friday, December 26, 2014

Time to Exhale

That is how I would describe my current "mode."
It feels so good to have all of the craziness behind me for now, and have a few days to just be.
(Well...kind of.  I still have things going on, but it is A LOT less crazy that the past month has been!)
Once we all got home from our Christmas morning commitments...(Lexie and I were at our church, and poor Mark, sang at our church for the Christmas Eve service, then played the midnight Mass at the Cathedral.  Slept for four hours, sang at the 8:00 Mass at our church, and then was off to play for the 10:00 Mass at the Cathedral again.) we finally took a collective sigh, and could relax.
I have to was a little hard to believe it was Christmas, considering the weather was much more Easter-esque. 
So, I just turned off all the interior lights, lit the fireplace, and the lights on the tree...and was very happy once it got dark out. 

We made the kids wait until after lunch to open presents.  It's funny that it doesn't matter how old they are....they still are so impatient when it comes to opening gifts.
Their plan was to do it at 6am Christmas morning.
I nixed that idea immediately.
I have a hard enough time getting to church by 7:30 as it is.  
I have to tell husband was a rock star shopper this year.
He literally did ALL of the shopping, AND the wrapping.
I bought some extras for him...but he even took care of ordering his own "big" gift.  
I had circled a couple of pictures of things I liked on a Maurices give him some ideas.  The bag I circled was still in stock, so he bought that.
However, the boots and scarf I liked were not.  
Rather than just giving up on them, he actually searched out other stores to find  similar items.  So, rather than a pair of cheap Maurices boots, I opened up a super cute pair of Steve Madden's that are the exact style I wanted.
Seriously?  This man is a dream! ;)
(He said it was a "Christmas miracle," because they were a great price, and the display pair were the last in my size.) 
He also picked out not just one, but two super cute some other surprises that I had mentioned in passing were cute. (And he remembered!)
The man gets an A+ in shopping!!
I literally parked my butt on my couch for the entire day, lit my new, delicious spruce scented candle, and watched about a gazillion episodes of Castle that I had on the DVR.  

Riley and I crashed for awhile, because doing absolutely nothing is incredibly exhausting.

And is time to start gearing up for the new year.
I always start to get excited at this time....ready to make changes, and get back on track with the goals I have been attempting to achieve year after year...but always seem to fall short of.
I think I am usually too broad with my goals...and never specific or really realistic enough.  I also don't usually have a plan to back up what it is I want to accomplish.
This year marks two significant dates.
My 25th high school reunion...and my 20th wedding anniversary.
I think both of those events call for a total body transformation.
In other more day long Castle marathons on the couch.
This will definitely require a serious plan....and some major follow through.
I suppose the fact that Mother Nature is confused, and thinks it's April, may be in my favor, because I could easily get outside and walk/run.
Anyway....tackling the clutter in my house and planning out my big "Take On 2015" agenda is what will be happening here over the next week.

I hope you all had a wonderful Christmas...and that you have some time to just relax and enjoy time with your family (or time alone!!) over the next week.

Maybe you will join me in my goal setting adventure?!
We might as well dive into the new year head first!!

Have a great Friday!!

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Merry Christmas!!


This is my favorite Christmas picture....
back when my kiddos were two and 6 months.
I miss having little ones at Christmas time.
I miss having little ones, period.

I hope you all had a magical Christmas Eve.
Mine was part exhausting, part magical.
I would like to focus on the magical....and I know you would like to focus
on your Christmas this will be short and sweet!

I posted this yesterday on many of you have already
heard it.
But...for me, each time we sing it, the magic is there.
The text, the arrangement, everything about it just fills my heart every single time.
We all look at each other after the last note has sounded, and let out a collective of those "oh wow...that just fed my soul" kind of sighs.

This is from our rehearsal prior to the Christmas Eve Mass we sang at yesterday.
The song is called "While Shepherds Watched Their Flocks"
arranged by Craig Courtney
The singers are:
Jaine Mc Cormick- soprano 1
Me-soprano 2
Lexie Lakmann-alto 1
Kristin Skifton- alto 2
The fact that I get to sing this with my daughter and two close friends adds to the magic, of course. 

Click on link to watch.

While shepherds watched their flocks by night, all seated on the ground.
The angel of the Lord came down, and glory shown around, and glory shown around!
"Fear not!" said he, for mighty dread had seized their troubled mind:
"Glad tidings of great joy I you and all mankind.  To you and all mankind."
"To you in David's town this day is born, of David's line, the Savior, who is Christ the Lord,
and this shall be the sign, and this shall be the sign:"
"The heavenly Babe you there shall find to human view displayed, all meanly wrapped in swathing bands and in a manger laid, and in a manger laid."
"All glory be to God on high, and to the earth be peace: Goodwill henceforth from heaven to earth..begin and never cease.  Begin and never cease."

May God's blessings shine down upon you today, and everyday.
I hope your day is filled with joy and love, and that you are surrounded by those you hold dear.
If today finds you lonely, or sad....remember you are never truly alone.

Know that I am sending a special prayer your way today....that any sadness will soon be replaced with peace and contentment.
I think today is the perfect time for all of us to take a moment and realize how blessed we really are.

Sending out lots of happiness and cheer to you all!
May this be a Christmas to remember!

Have a wonderful day!!!

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Silent Night

Happy Christmas Eve!
Can you believe it's already here?
I am hoping we get some more snow today.
It finally started to feel (and look!) like Christmas yesterday when we finally had white falling from the sky.
I hadn't realized how much I look forward to the snow.
I don't think I would do well in a climate that never had winter.
Even though the cold begins to feel like it will never end once March rolls just can't replace the magic of each season.
I have made a decision that no matter what comes my way today....I refuse to get worked up or stressed about it.
I am just going to enjoy it.  
I feel pretty well prepared for all things everything should go off without a hitch.
Last night, I spent a couple of hours with my daughter, and two close friends, rehearsing for one of tonight's Masses.
There were a couple of pieces that everyone had ahead of time, and we just needed to put them together.
I decided that we needed some more material, so I threw another 4-5 pieces at them...including Pentatonix's arrangement of "Mary Did You Know."
( arrangement of their written for four women.)
Because why not learn a crazy, accapella piece the day before you have to 
"perform" it, right?
As insane as all of it was.....I have to tell was also soul food.
It's one thing to work on something by yourself, or to start to put something together with a couple people, but once you have the whole group together, and things start to is magical.
And it is exactly what I needed to fill that stressed out, stretched-too-thin, running on empty wasteland that has been plaguing me for the past few weeks.

I did miss out on seeing my friends last night.
It was our annual "Diva Christmas Party."
I could have gone...and probably should have gone...but I chose to stay in.
I was exhausted from working on music until 2am the night before, and I still had music binders to put together, and other work that needed to get done last night...because it would have really stressed me out if I had to scramble to do it in the morning.
I felt I was a big loser for not going.
But then I took a moment, and realized that although it would have been great to catch up with everyone....I really needed to do what was best for me right now.  Even if it felt selfish.  
Christmas Eve is one of the biggest "events" of the year, as far as my job I need to be on top of my game.  There is nothing worse than feeling like I'm not prepared or organized.  Or feeling completely exhausted.
So, I allowed myself to put my needs first...and get what I needed to do taken care of, so I could feel good about today.
 And, was the first time I have been able to sit on the couch and work (rather than running around, or hunching over a table) in the past two weeks.  My achey back was very grateful.

I have been doing a pretty good job of feeling sorry for myself this entire month.  Whining over how busy I am, and playing the "woe is me" game.
Yesterday morning, Mark took his car in to have it looked at, because it's been making this awful noise.
They called back to let him know the wheel bearing (sp?) needed to be replaced...for $800.
Then, they called again to say they were going to have to break some other part to get at it, which, (after replacing the part they would break) would increase the bill to $1200.
You may recall we JUST got both of our cars back from the body shop last week.
So...the outside of both vehicles look amazing.  (To the tune of $1000 in insurance deductibles.)  
Well, they didn't end up breaking whatever they thought they were going to we only had to spend $900.
However, $1900 in two weeks on a teacher/church lady salary the week of Christmas = bah humbug! 
I continued with my pity party after this news.  Poor me...literally!
Then, I received a call....from my dear friend Pastor Melinda.
She and I did a wedding together three years ago for an adorable couple.
This past weekend, they were in a car accident, and the bride was killed.
She was only 27 years old.  Her husband was injured, but survived.
The family had asked if we take care of the funeral service/music for them.
Suddenly....everything I had been worrying/whining/woe-ing about came to a complete halt.
They had just hit a patch of ice, and their world changed forever.
That is how quickly life can change....or end.
Why on earth am I worrying about whether or not my presents are wrapped? (they are not.)
Who cares if I'm less than organized for all of the upcoming services?  They will happen whether I am ready or not.
Sure, these car bills suck...but I HAVE a car, and my family is safe...and luckily, I had some extra jobs this month that will help pay for these unexpected expenses.
I have NOTHING to complain about.
I just sat at the table and sobbed.
I had only known this couple briefly....but the thoughts of what the husband must be going through, along with her family and loved just breaks my heart.
The older I get, the more I realize that I am not invincible.
I will not be here I better darn well use this time I have wisely, and enjoy it too!

This is one reason I love the start of a new year.
I love a fresh, new beginning.
A time to just start over.
I am going to use this next week to really think about some changes I want to make in the new year.
I'm excited to shake things up a little bit. 
But, for today....I am going to relish each moment.
Cherish all of the little things that might otherwise go unnoticed.
Make an effort to reach out to that person who seems lonely.
Be extra patient with the person who is obviously overwhelmed, and could probably use a kind word, and maybe a little help.
Be nice to the cranky shopper who could learn what a difference being kind watching you.
And most of all....even if they are driving you crazy (not that I have any experience with this) make sure your family and loved ones know how much they mean to you.
Sometimes, the smallest gestures can make the biggest impressions.
I wish you all a magical and wonderful Christmas Eve!!

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Cheesecake and Shenanigans

Well, I see that no one has volunteered to slow down OR stop time for me.
You are not being particularly helpful, people.
I had hoped to be amazing today.
In some respects, I guess I was.
I mean, I didn't take a nap.
I DID take a shower.
I went out in public, and no one stared I must have looked presentable.
But, as seems to be the case every single darn day, I am now sitting's 7:30 pm, and I'm wondering what the heck I accomplished.
I mean, I DID spend the whole day doing stuff.
But, to look around the house, one would never know it.
So, I think I will take this Tuesday as another opportunity to offer up
'what I know for sure.'

1.  I planned ahead, and decided what I was having for dinner during our church staff lunch at Ciatti's today.  I find it is always wise to plan ahead.
I decided to just go ahead an order my dinner to go, so I wouldn't have the burden of having to cook later on, especially considering how much I have to get done in the next 48 hours.
I had my vegetables, protein and grains for lunch, so I will be having my fruit and dairy for dinner.
(That's cheesecake, if you can't really tell, under all that raspberry sauce.)
With a bottle of grapes.

2. Getting organized, and filing stuff is not a quick task.
I have been plugging away at this job for the past three days.
I now have all of the music that was stacked on the large table in the middle of my piano room filed.
I have absolutely no idea where to put the boxes they are filed in, however.

Oh, and I may never be able to stand up straight again.
Hunching over for hours at a time is a really dumb thing to do.

3.  I got most of my Christmas cards addressed today.  Of course, the mailman got here before I was ready, so I ended up schlepping all the way to the post office.  I decided to be super smart this year, and take a picture of them, so when I think to myself "Oh crap...did I remember to send uncle Charlie a card?!" I can just refer to my handy dandy photo, and find out!

Do you notice what is missing on these envelopes?
(Other than stamps)

Those stupid address labels.
Have you ever tried to use a stamper thingy on an envelope that has a way too thick Christmas letter in it?
Well, it doesn't work well.
And, of course, it wouldn't have occurred to me to stamp them before filling them.
Do you remember what I said about those darn address labels? happened.
After I had stamped all but two, I was digging around in my desk drawers looking for something else, and guess what I found!

And yes, I HAD looked in that drawer for them.
I just hadn't looked hard enough.
They were under stuff.
It never fails.

4.  Do you own this CD yet?

Of course, you have heard of them...right?  They are all over Facebook, and everywhere else.
This is my favorite Christmas CD.
I have two.
One for the house and one for the car.
And yes, I'm old school.
I don't just buy it on iTunes, and put it on my phone or my iPod, or my i-don't-know-what-to-do-with-this-little-electronic-contraption-thingy.
I like CD's.
They have covers....that you can read.
With pictures.
Very educational.
I have already picked out the outfit I'm going to wear on the cover of my Christmas CD....which will be released in 2060.

I will probably look super smashing.
I will wear red lipstick, and no one will ever be able to guess my age.

My cheesecake is calling, and there is much music to be written before three bells tomorrow.
At some point, I should wrap some presents too.
Mark and Sam went to the mall tonight to get me a gift.  I can not wait to see what those two came up with.
It was especially entertaining when they came home, and Sam tried to get me engrossed in conversation so Mark could sneak whatever it was downstairs.
They are the definition of subtle.

Have a terrific Tuesday!!

(By the is now 1:35 am....I have finally finished arranging and transcribing my music.  That only took 6.5 hours.
The good news is officially Tuesday, so I will just post this little ditty now, and check one thing off my to-do list for tomorrow...well, today.
Or whatever now is.)

Monday, December 22, 2014

Winter Wonderland

And finally.......
A Christmas miracle.
Two, actually.
1. My in-laws apparently are NOT coming for Christmas anymore.
(We will be seeing them the day after Christmas I'm not sure why this was even a potential plan??  Wait a minute...when I was attempting to put the long, curly willow branches I bought in the car on Saturday, my husband said to me "You know, sometimes it is really fun to just sit and watch you struggle." (I guess I do this often?) Maybe he told me they were coming so he could watch me have a complete melt-down....because that's fun...hmmm..)
2.  I have officially created Winter Wonderland.
(and I should mention that I was typing in green until I wrote "Winter Wonderland"...and realized that the two just could not work I have switched over to blue.  And I suddenly have "Let It Go....Let It Go...." playing in my head.
Must be the blue.
Which makes me think of ice.
Which makes me think of frozen things.
Which makes me think of Frozen.
You following me here?
Back to my wonderland.
So....this was yesterday.  Remember?  Tree in the middle of the room.

I like it better over here. :)

Up close. Only silver and turquoise were allowed this year.  
With a tiny splash of red. (See the little cardinal?)

I bought myself an early Christmas present.  I have been wanting one of these faux sheepskin throws forEVER.  It makes my couch extra snuggly.

Isn't it all warm and cozy and magical?
Well....I could sit here and let you believe that my whole house is a Christmas haven...and I'm tempted to do just that, but you know I am gonna tell it like it is.
Maybe you should take another look at the nice pictures before you read on.

I'll wait.

If only I had one of those room divider thingys like they have in gyms and churches.  I could just pull that closed, and shut myself in my little cocoon of clean and tidy.
But, is my reality.
Beyond Christmas Happy the Land of No Return.

Good Lord. 
Maybe I will just take a match to it, and call it a day.
Why on earth did I buy an "open concept" house?!
I miss having lots of rooms...rooms that are good at hiding all the crap I don't know what to do with.
This house is like one big dumping ground.
You walk in the front door, and my entire, completely unorganized, slobby mess of a life is on display for all to see (and judge and criticize behind my back.)
I'm sure the only people who judge my mess are perfectly perfect, and have every right to tsk, and shake their heads at my poor housekeeping skills.
I bet I could totally beat them at foosball though.
Take that, Miss Perfectly Perfect!! 
So, I figure I have a day to make the rest of my house look lovely, arrange a couple pieces of music, put binders together for the Christmas craziness I have to play for, actually finalize what exactly it is I am going to play for that craziness, get groceries, do laundry, finish Christmas shopping, and wrap everything.
That shouldn't be a problem.
Maybe if I just drink wine the entire time I am doing all this stuff, I will actually think I am getting it all done.
Have you ever noticed that "Do You Hear What I Hear" sounds an awful lot like "We Are the World"  (during the "a child...a child, sleeping in the night, he will bring us goodness and light..." part.  It sounds just like "there are people dying"...and whatever the words are after that.)
I mention this, because I am listening to Jim Brickman's Christmas CD, and was thinking to myself "Why the hell is "We Are the World" on here?"
Then I realized what it really was.
Now we all know.
Aren't you glad you have me to figure these things out for us?
I played for the choir concert at Logan High School today.
The Freshman girls sang a piece called something like "Listen As the Snowflakes Fall."
It had a phrase that was exactly the same melody as the beginning of "On Broadway."  'They say the neon lights are bright...on Broadway..."
Remember that old gem?
Well, that was all I could think about whenever I played it.
I even had a dream about it last night.
I was guffawing with some old coots from church about how silly it was.
Yes.  This is what my life has come to.
I dream about gabbing with old men about dumb songs.

I need a hobby or something.

However, before I find one of those (hobbies) I need to keep plugging away at my war zone.
Maybe I will even be able to post pics of another pretty space tomorrow. Hopefully it will be more than the coat closet, or the kitchen table top. Although, at this point...I would actually be happy with either of those!

Oh, and if anyone knows how to slow down time...or actually bring it to a complete halt....I could use about three extra days before Christmas.
That would be great.

Wishing you a melt-down free Monday.

Sunday, December 21, 2014

O Christmas Tree

We have established that I have reached "break-down" mode.
It is now public knowledge that if anything else is piled on my "plate" I will not be held responsible for my behavior or reaction to any request made of me.

I think it has been implied that any financial issues I may be creating for myself will be dealt with after the first of the year.
Until then, we will simply smile, and carry on.
Today, I woke up, and refused to let the color "blue" enter my aura.
Oh no....I was going to have a day filled with yellows and pinks.
It was going to be happy, happy, happy!

I took a nice bubble bath...put on my Fergalicious boots...had a cookie for breakfast, and was on my way!
Oh, and I even painted my nails a festive shade of red!
Off I went to a Christmas piano recital.  (A couple of my students were playing.)
I was smiling, enjoying a Christmas CD in my car...when a text came in.
I pulled into the parking lot, and decided to check my phone quick before going into the recital hall.
It was from Mark:  "Oh....I told you my parent's were coming for Christmas...right?

(Cue: Commercial break.
Meditative breathing...Ommmm....
It's a good thing I have a box of kleenex in the car.
Because the damn weeping began....again.
I have to be honest with you.  I LOVE our quiet Christmases with just the four of us.  No pressure, no need to engage in conversation for hours when you just want to veg out, NO STRESS.
After the recital, one of the other teachers and I were talking.
He asked if I was all ready for Christmas.
I gave him 'the look,' and filled him in on my exciting Christmas news.
Before I left, he said "try not to kill your husband before Christmas."
I gave him 'the look' again.
He then said...."oh, right.  Well, try to stay out of prison then."
I stopped, and pondered.
I would guess they might have WIFI?
If I was allowed my phone and computer...and had my own room.....
I look good in long as the stripes are horizontal.  An hour outside...I could exercise and lose some weight.
This sounds GREAT!!
And then he planted a brilliant little seed.
He laughed, and said 'I can see it now...."Stripes" the musical."
Right?!!  Oh...the dance numbers.  And the heart wrenching ballads.
This show is going straight to Broadway.
In other news, we finally got a tree.

We decided not to get our typical 100 foot monster.
No...this year we went to some strange little lot where you put your money in a lock box.  I wonder how many people rip the poor guy off.
I will admit, I was a teeny bit tempted to pay a little less than the sticker price...since our tree is FAR from "freshly cut."  But, then I thought..."this guy is trying to make a living I will pay him full price for my sad little tree."
It felt good. :)

Of course, we have no where to actually put the darn for now, it is literally standing in the middle of the living room.
I guess I will be rearranging furniture after church tonight.
Just what I was hoping to do! :-/ house looks almost exactly like the picture I shared with you the other day.

Yep...almost there!  I just need to paint my walls white. 
That should do it.
Oh....and rent a bulldozer to get the rest of the crap out of there.
THEN we will be in business.
I guess my tree kind of looks similar?
They are both a little wonky and cute.

Eh...I have a couple days.  I'm SURE my house will be magazine worthy in no time. (she says with a snort.)

Well...that furniture is not going to move itself...and Lord knows that stupid tree will stay right in the middle of the room until all the needles fall off if I don't move things now.

I know you will be waiting with bated breath for pictures of my winter wonderland.
Just don't hold your would be a sad Christmas for your family, and I am not a miracle worker.
Oh....I still haven't found those stupid return address labels.

Happy Sunday!