Monday, December 30, 2013

Hara Hachi Bu

So every year my resolutions revolve around a better me, which usually involves a better waistline.

In 2014, I may try, before every meal, to say "Hara Hachi Bu," which means, "I will stop eating when I am 80% full."  This Japanese phrase, when faithfully practiced, supposedly, helps you consciously limit the amount of food you consume, making overeating less likely.  It also slights those uninvited guests - high blood pressure and high cholesterol.  There are many things you can do to remind yourself to say this, maybe set up phone alerts or obtain a new year's tat on your forearm. 

Another healthy choice would just be to make eating a mindful choice.  Focus on the food when it's in front of you.  The word "savor" was invented for just this reason.

The genetics card is a minor player - our longevity is 75% dependent on our lifestyle.

Other positive habits, as you know, include regular church attendance, volunteer efforts, sleeping, meditating.  (Uncovering my purpose may have to wait until 2015.)

Friday, December 27, 2013

A Holiday Gift

The essay below (thanks to Virginia for sending it to me!) is attributed to George Carlin...but he has denied it, and so do I...this is good, and he is good, but this is someone else (sadly serious) and has been forwarded in countless email chains - but during this time of holiday stress and expectations, it is a good reminder:
 
 
The Paradox of our Time

The paradox of our time in history is that we have taller buildings, but shorter tempers; wider freeways, but narrower viewpoints. We spend more, but have less; we buy more, but enjoy less. We have bigger houses and smaller families; more conveniences, but less time. We have more degrees, but less sense; more knowledge, but less judgment; more experts, yet more problems; more medicine, but less wellness.

We drink too much, smoke too much, spend too recklessly, laugh too little, drive too fast, get too angry, stay up too late, get up too tired, read too little, watch TV too much, and pray too seldom. We have multiplied our possessions, but reduced our values. We talk too much, love too seldom, and hate too often.

We've learned how to make a living, but not a life. We've added years to life, not life to years. We've been all the way to the moon and back, but have trouble crossing the street to meet a new neighbor. We conquered outer space, but not inner space. We've done larger things, but not better things. We've cleaned up the air, but polluted the soul. We've conquered the atom, but not our prejudice.

Remember, spend some time with your loved ones, because they are not going to be around forever.

Remember, say a kind word to someone who looks up to you in awe, because that little person soon will grow up and leave your side.

Remember to give a warm hug to the one next to you, because that is the only treasure you can give with your heart and it doesn't cost a cent.

Remember to say, "I love you" to your partner and your loved ones; but most of all, mean it. A kiss and an embrace will mend hurt when it comes from deep inside of you.

Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for someday that person will not be there again. Give time to love, give time to speak, and give time to share the precious thoughts in your mind.

Remember - Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away.

What more need be said?

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Holiday Hangover Helper

Brought to you, by Proverbs 15:15 ~

"For the despondent, every day brings troubles.  For the happy heart, life is a continual feast..."

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Friendly Reminder

A good reminder at this time of the year, when your loyalties are divided or you are missing someone or just trying to create the holiday magic:

Stress is caused by being "here" but wanting to be "there".   It is a split that tears you apart inside.    Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now

Thursday, December 19, 2013

What We Take In

I must remember to stay in the present moment, to appreciate what's happening right now, even with a holiday list as long as my arm.

I find myself, with holiday plans stabilizing, already jumping ahead to thoughts of the new year.  I do hope to be a nicer person.  I resolve not to let my busyness mislead me.  I resolve other things, too, like to eat better, drink less, and break other hurtful habits, like fixating on what someone left unsaid. 

What are the other things we take in?  What comes in, consciously or when we are on autopilot?  I vow to be more selective - not only in what I ingest in my body but what I choose to take into my brain.  What is my experience and am I actually noticing?  Do I want to take in that gossip, that criticism, that conjecture?  Maybe...but I DO have a choice.

I have a choice to walk right around it.  Hasta la vista!

I have a choice to view this renewed mindfulness for what it is, with intention, and with curiosity and acceptance.

*****************************


The following may or may not be related to this post, it depends on how you squint, but I do so like it:

"If we could read the secret history of our enemies we should find in each man's life sorrow and suffering enough to disarm all hostility."
--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


Friday, December 13, 2013

Gifts at Christmastime

There's so much that comes with this special season - the decorating, the cards, the gifts, the food.

Sometime during the month, I always take time for a good holiday music cry (see the link below) - in between the pressures to attend holiday gatherings and to also set the stage for a magical experience for those who gather under our tree, those closest to me.  The shift away from what was familiar in my early years to making choices for my young family, to, now - to new traditions as our family changes - it's all healthy growth and I truly recognize it as the best gift, a life I notice, a life I choose.

Holiday rituals change, of course.  But clinging to the familiar can help too, like special tree ornaments and other treasures we discover as we unpack them once a year.  Also, I'm big on lighting cheap cinnamon candles and revisiting other favorite season perennials (hot chocolate with butterscotch schnapps is a good start).

Here's to a holiday of purpose, of unlimited possibilities, of celebration and reflection.  And hopefully some new scented lotion.
A treasure - Marie made this wreath for me.

My tree skirt, a special treasure made by my mom.

Sinead O'Conner - I Believe in You (watch it and you're welcome) -  tech tip:  you may need to find a device with Adobe FlashPlayer to watch this:

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Wine at 5!

provided by https://www.bluezonesproject.com/

 

Top 5 Ways To Cut Seasonal Stress and Have Fun! 


Wine_WIth_Friends_SmallHere come the holidays, and with them a nonstop circuit of feasting, festivities, friends and family. If you feel stressed during this busy time, here’s how to put some fun (and relaxation) back into the holidays:

  • Enjoy party favorites in moderation.
    If you’re headed to a party, you can still enjoy party snacks and a drink or two. Just remind yourself to stop eating when you are 80% full.
  • Wine at 5. Relax with friends over a glass of wine. Studies show that a glass of wine a day can boost your well-being and possibly even add years to your life.
  • Make time to move it! Stay active during the holidays. If possible, ride a bike or take a walk instead of driving. At work, take a walking break instead of grabbing coffee and a snack from the vending machine or goody tray. Walk the dog after dinner with your family and friends. Most importantly, stay active by doing what you enjoy.
  • Create time together. Make it a point to establish fun, family traditions, whether it’s baking holiday treats and delivering them to a senior center, or going ice skating on Christmas Eve. Do something that brings you closer to your family, friends, and community.
  • Remember to downshift. Schedule some time for yourself. Read a book, take the dog for a walk, or relax with friends.

Monday, December 9, 2013

Advantage, Happiness

LYou can train your brain for optimism, to watch for things that make you grateful, to scan for positivity.  The more you do it, the more you get it.  It's available to all of us.

I've decided that in 2014, yes, sure, I'll try to lose weight.  But mostly, I will try to train my brain to look for goodness, to engage in activities that make me happy.

What we think will make us happy actually doesn't.  This was something I learned last week in a conference session entitled, The Happiness Advantage.  Some of what I learned was from the book by the same name, by Shawn Achor.

What we think will make us happy actually doesn't.  Happiness doesn't come from success, but rather happiness usually gets us to success.  Happy people are more likely to seize opportunities because the brain of the happy is usually more open to trying, more open to scanning for opportunities.  The result is the successful you because of the happy you (throw away that "happy because you are successful" notion, whatever that version of "successful").

A lot of us make mistakes, and relative to happiness, here are a few unconscious, negative ones:
1) trying to figure out if we're happy (the self-critic in evaluation mode, again and again);
2) overestimating the benefits of what we'll gain if we're happier;
3) pursuing happiness alone (doing things for others is an amazing antidote);
4) trying to find INTENSE happiness - this, of course, removes you from the present moment.

So are you happy?  Do you lose track of time because you are in "the flow"?  Doing your thing?  That's a sign you're truly happy.  Do you inventory your daily positive experiences?  That's you, in business for yourself, working on your own happiness.  It plays with that very influential cousin, gratitude.

Synthetic happiness is acceptable, take it.  You can synthesize it - make it up, find it, decide on it.  

Dan Gilbert, Harvard psychologist and author of Stumbling on Happiness, challenges the common idea that you'll be miserable if you don’t get what you want, if you don't find it.  But he contends that you can feel true happiness even when things don't turn out the way you want.  For example, his research has shown that paraplegics and lottery winners, about a year after losing their legs and a year after winning the lottery, report about the same level of happiness.    

Now if you really want to work on happiness, take a minute, grab an ice cream or lollipop, and watch this (grab a tissue, too):

 
      

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Don't Tell Santa

They grew up.  They left.  I'm left with the wine I never drank when they were here.  When we were busy.

It hits on days like this.  Decorating the house.  Not a deadline in sight.  It's snowing and we aren't getting all worked up about the places we need to go, because we really do not have anywhere we have to go.  In the old days, there were so many chores of the advent season - cutting and decorating the tree, buying and wrapping the gifts, making and hiding the treats, waiting for my UPS hubby rock to get home.

But now, stumbling upon boxes of remnants of them, cards and decorations they made for me (evidence of our shared history, more valuable than my diamond ring), it's a different work.  It's less about perseverance and more about patient politeness.

We voted against Christmas music today because we could.  Because no one is watching and a little Gaga buoys us more than any carol.  We have all the festive we can stand.  Because the season really is on hold until the kids come home.

Now, before you start, you should know - I've done the reading - I know they are NOT responsible for my merry little Christmas.   I'm gracefully sharing them with new friends because they are all grown up!  The reasons they left me are every parent's dream, I know. Indulge me, it's the holidays.  I'll pass, instead, on the fudge.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

When Life Gives You lululemon

Just about the time this Santa's elf was grumbling over the price of their t-shirts (maybe I'm getting cranky, but $54?  really?) - I came upon this company manifesto and decided, maybe they ARE as cool as they're ubiquitous little logo:

Friday, December 6, 2013

Wait It Out

My inner geek was stirred when I heard about this British musician. Imogen Heap, who participated in The Gloves project - a gestural music experiment that uses magical, musical gloves and wires and mics and takes a stage performance to another digital dimension and music, perhaps, to new places.  More info here:  http://theglovesproject.com/about-the-project/

I'm actually not sure I like it, but the innovation is something curious and alluring.

The best part, though, was that in the process of learning about this I discovered someone new for my rotation, and a great song called "Wait It Out".  You must check this out. 

If you know anyone struggling in a relationship, this, coupled with a decent Italian red and an hour of mindless discretionary time, would be the kind of therapy that I would think could prove useful:

Wait It Out

Where do we go from here? How do we carry on?
I can't get beyond the questions
Clambering for the scraps in the shatter of us collapsed
It cuts me with every could have been
Pain on pain on play, repeating
With the backup makeshift life in waiting
Everybody says time heals everything
But what of the wretched hollow, the endless in between?
Are we just going to wait it out?
There's nothing to see here now, turning the sign around
We're closed to the earth till further notice
Stumbling cliché case, crumpled and puffy faced
Dead in the stare of a thousand miles
All I want only one street level miracle
I'll be a an out and out born again from none more cynical
Everybody says that time heals everything all in the end
What of the wretched hollow, the endless in between?
Are we just going to wait it out?
And sit here cold, we'll be long gone by then and lackluster
In dust we lay around old magazines
Fluorescent lighting sets the scene
For all we could and should be being in the one life that we've got
In the one life that we've got
Everybody says that time heals everything
What of the wretched hollow, the endless in between?
Are we just going to wait it out?
Sit here, just going to wait it out
Sit here cold, just going to sweat it out
Wait it out


Monday, December 2, 2013

Say It!

Gratefulness starts with quiet reflection, but sooner than later, you just gotta show it.  Gratefulness is not silent - you need to say it to really own it. There were many  sweet moments during our Thanksgiving holiday, including calls and texts from sisters and friends, my treasured guests core at my Thanksgiving table, lots of talking and not enough walking, and zero drama...and so I'm happy to say it...thank you (yes, you)!


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Replying to Rumi

This provocative poem was forwarded to me by my friend Lynnette, shortly after I was recalling to her what I learned at the silent retreat - that instead of pushing our pain away (which only gives it energy) - just gently turn from it.  She agreed that you don't necessarily have to embrace the darkness, as Rumi's Guest House suggests:

A Reply to Rumi's Guest House 

Welcome all the visitors you say.
Do not put bars on the windows
Or locks on the doors. Do not close up the
Chimney flue. Duct tape and plastic
sheeting will not keep the visitors at bay.
They'll pound on the doors, they'll break
your windows, they'll create the barricades
they'll storm the beach, swarm in like ants
through cracks. They'll lead like water through
the walls, and creep like mice, and curl like smoke
and crack like ice against the window glass.
Keep them out? It can't be done, don't try.
Welcome all the visitors.

Fine. There's all kinds
Of welcoming, however.

I do not have to throw a house party.
I will not post flyers.
There will be no open bar.
No one will get drunk
and lock themselves in the bathroom.
No one will break the furniture, grind chips
into the rug, throw anyone else in the pool,
or lose an earring in the couch.

I do not have to run a guest house, either
There will be no crackling fire
And no easy chairs. I will not serve
tea to the visitors. I will not dispense
ginger snaps and ask my guests
about themselves:
"Did my mother send you?"
"Why must you plague me?"
"Why not stay a while longer?"
"Who are you really?"

If I must welcome-and I am convinced I must-
Let me build a great hall to receive my guests.
Like a Greek temple, let it be open on all sides.
Let it be wide, and bright, and empty.
Let it have a marble floor.
Beautiful and cold and hard.
Let there be no sofas, no benches, no dark corners
no ante-rooms and no coat closets
No walls and not even a ledge to lean against.

I'll welcome anyone who comes
I'll show them my enormous empty all.
Come in, come in, I'll say. I'll even smile
perhaps make conversation for a while.

And if someone settles on the floor, as if to stay,
or circles round and round, as if they have lost their way,
I'll be kind, extend my hand,
and gently show them out again.

Monday, November 25, 2013

There are Holiday Things to Do!

It's the holidays, and that means many different things for each of us.  In addition to the shopping, decorating, cleaning and cooking - oh, and I did I mention the formation and implementation of all the cinnamon-scented self-imposed expectations? - it also means that I have to reconcile my nostalgia for the old days with a ramped up energy for all that I have and all that is in front of me today.  I have to get ready.  It's time to celebrate.
It's a really great time to look to new ways of being, and that is an ambitious resolution - way less about shedding weight and more about shedding the things that really hold us down.
Here's a big one at holiday time:  What does it mean to forgive?  When someone does you wrong, do you hold a grudge or obsess about what happened?  Or do you just let it slide and ignore that you have feelings?
If you care at all about the relationship, there are better ways to deal, and it's called Acceptance.  It's a solid tool (free and available to all of us!) because it is so useful when the person who offended you is unwilling or unable to recognize what he or she did.
You can go ahead and work on forgiveness - or not!  That's your choice, your freedom, really, but one thing is for sure...you can work on acceptance without the consent or cooperation of the person who hurt you!  Woo hoo!  I love my independence!
Ten Steps of Acceptance
Step 1: You honor the full sweep of your emotions.
Step 2: You give up your need for revenge but continue to seek a just resolution.
Step 3: You stop obsession about the injury and reengage with life.
Step 4: You protect yourself from further abuse.
Step 5: You frame the offender’s behavior in terms of his own personal struggles.
Step 6: You look honestly at your own contribution to the injury (if any).
Step 7: You challenge your false assumptions about what happened.
Step 8: You look at the offender apart from his offense.
Step 9: You carefully decide what kind of relationship you want with the person who hurt you.
Step 10: You forgive yourself for your own failings.

Sometimes all you need to heal is time and a warm place to curl up with your favorite beverage.  Mostly, though, a huge dose of really reflecting on where the other person is drawing their meaning can help  you to understand them.  The possibilities are transformational because you actively remind yourself that the injury you endured will not define you or determine you.  You can survive.  You can transcend this.

Peace on earth and amen.

The ideas presented in this article are contained in the highly recommended book How Can I Forgive You? by Janis Abrahms Spring, Ph. D.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

New Way to Pray


“...the three things I cannot change are the past, the truth, and you.”
Anne Lamott, Help Thanks Wow: Three Essential Prayers

 I love this and think this writer is worth a listen.  Her basic premise is that prayer doesn't have to be scary or formal, and that it can be distilled down to 3 simple prayers that are easy to remember and always, always relevant:  asking for help, practicing gratitude, and just being wowed by the world.

During this holiday season, this is a gift worth giving.

“Gorgeous, amazing things come into our lives when we are paying attention: mangoes, grandnieces, Bach, ponds. This happens more often when we have as little expectation as possible. If you say, "Well, that's pretty much what I thought I'd see," you are in trouble. At that point you have to ask yourself why you are even here. [...] Astonishing material and revelation appear in our lives all the time. Let it be. Unto us, so much is given. We just have to be open for business.”  

Monday, November 18, 2013

Happy Birthday, mom!

Happy birthday to my beautiful mom!

You've been an impressive role model, a big supporter of the Staloneys, and you always, always showed up for me.  Thank you just doesn't seem like enough...

Friday, November 15, 2013

Hey That's My Inbox You're Hitting

TL;DR

Do you know about the above?  It's slang for TOO LONG; DIDN'T READ.

TL;DR when you want to chime in about a topic, on an email thread, that you don't want to read.

This is a rude reaction, I suppose, but there's rudeness when a recipient receives an email that clearly, you are cc'd on for the straightforward reason that the sender wants to give responsibility to you.  They volley it to you and it's almost as if you can feel them wiping their hands and sighing, "There!  Done with that!"

I've surrendered.  I'm done managing my inbox.  I just periodically move everything to "Inbox Old" and carry on, artificially blissful at my quiet inbox.

Managing my time may still be a personal challenge, but dang it, I can manage my energy.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Weekend!

Welcome meal at the Specials


At the Maloneys






A great wine pairing

Priceless - A meal from mom
Could this be the one?

Shawn could have fun helping with this one


Sun-dried tomatoes = the best


Getting on the open road on a Friday night is one of life's sweet pleasures, especially when it's to meet up with precious people.  This past weekend, we did just that - snooping around the Chicago real estate market with Scott and Kate, in between fabulous fits of food and wine.

The return trip was easy because of the Bettendorf respite and the visits with my extraordinary Goddaughter, Jen, and my sister, Laurie, along with my wonderful parents.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veterans Day

On Lake Shore Drive, the Blue Cross building is impressive!


Veteran Vitality Kick‐Off with 6,000‐Flag Display on the Pentacrest, forming the letter "I"

November 11 is a solid date for more than a few reasons, but at the top of the list is that it's a day we honor veterans.  I'm glad we're ramping up in our societal appreciation of the brave efforts of all veterans and those who love them.

Thanks, dad, for your service.


Thursday, November 7, 2013

Know What You're Doing When You're Doing It

I've been working at cultivating an environment where mindfulness is possible.

And then something happens.  I forget everything I've practiced.

And I rehearse and rehash and go chasing after thoughts and before you know it, it's 1978 and I'm standing in an Iowa cornfield on a cloudy summer day.

We can choose which thoughts we want to think.

Sometimes, I expect, I will have to "re-mind" myself of all this training.  To remember to cling to nothing.  To remember to fire the constant critic who is always inside, busy at work.

Mindfulness is a kind, nonjudgmental approach to what is happening.  It is like a mirror that simply reflects whatever comes before it.  Mindfulness keeps us connected to the people around us so that we notice them in the middle of our busy lives.  It is a gift I can give myself (it helps with stress, health, relationships and general well-being).

On mindfulness, some wise person noted:  It's not difficult to be mindful, but it IS difficult to remember to be mindful.

One of the easy ways to clear the head and be in the present moment is to move your attention to your body, to focus on your senses.  Our senses only exist in the present moment.

Namaste.


Monday, November 4, 2013

Not What You Think

What you think is never the whole story.


I spent this past weekend as a participation in a silent "Mindfulness" retreat at Prairiewoods with my friend Liz.   Talk about cultivating an environment that encourages living in the present moment!  This is a 40-acre spirituality center, run by Franciscan nuns. 

We began Friday night and ended Sunday afternoon.  Liz and I were commuters so we were able to retreat to my home at day's end, exhausted...to wine and the hot tub, freaked out at how much discipline it takes to keep your mind and body in the same place at the same time.

The food was fabulous.  The woods such a refuge - I enjoyed the strict off-grid dictate and not talking to anyone (even non-verbal communication was discouraged); I cherished my solo walks - not a soul in sight - spotting deer and working on gratefulness and all the other lessons.

Mindfulness is available to all of us.

Meditation is not doing, it's a way of being, a way of seeing and knowing and loving.  It's a way to "radical acceptance" - a way to get to the present moment, to help gain insight and learning.

It's not about trying to get anywhere special.  It's sitting in stillness - mostly trying to get out of our own way.

**************


 Meditation according to Jon Kabat-Zinn: 
It is not the content of your experience that is important. What is important is our ability to be aware of that content, and even more, of the factors that drive its unfolding and the ways in which those factors either liberate us or imprison us moment by moment and year in, year out.

Excerpted from the book Coming to Our Senses: Healing Ourselves and the World Through Mindfulness by Jon Kabat-Zinn.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Kick the Can

Many of us made many life-defining decisions, often before we really knew ourselves.  Some, as this video explains, are living lives by default, jumping around casually in their professional and personal lives, or NOT choosing anything at all - this "benign neglect" according to Meg Jay in the video below, is a waste of your precious time.  If you are a twentysomething or have one in your life, I highly recommend that you sit down, soon, for 15 minutes and watch this:


 

Monday, October 28, 2013

October 28

I'm remembering October 28, eighteen years ago - another blind date, set up by a kindhearted friend.  A 6 pm date.  A one hour date, in the light of day, one coffee.  No alcohol, no dinner, no obligations, little awkwardness. 

My littles were locked in, my eleven year old delegated to the role of authoritarian, not only over her younger brothers, but also the one who was appointed to make the call if a call needed to be made - after all, my cell phone contract only provided 20 minutes of service per month.  I made it clear that they would not call about opening the marshmallows or changing the channel.  We ran hard all day outside - we changed to our storm windows on that Saturday and made our usual park pilgrimage - and then they were fed and I hit start on a movie, kissed their heads, locked the door, and headed to North Liberty to meet a guy from Cedar  Rapids.

They didn't call, and barely noticed that I had been gone, that I had met a "friend", that I danced back home with new ideas and opinions about my worthiness, and about our future.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Choices

We saw Lee Daniel's The Butler and it arrived on the same day as a video clip from an old neighborhood friend, fellow parishioner, Pat.  What struck me in both, was the parent/child relationship - the dreams we have for our children do not always play out the way we expect and yet, we actually win when we embrace our adult children's right and responsibility to make their own life choices, the ones that work for them.

At the heart of this valuable, entertaining movie, with the backdrop of the civil rights movement, is a father/son relationship.  The father, all too trite but somehow still intriguing, does not approve of the son's choices - in this case to join the cause of the Freedom Riders and challenge those who supported segregation, even after the Supreme Court decisions against it.

In the neighbor clip, I'm so touched as this very solid and unwavering Catholic dad from Minnesota proceeds to the temple for his son's wedding ceremony.  Pat is the one in the long white robe with blue scarf and headpiece - see below.  He is goodness, the one who is winning here and so is his son, the groom, who rides in on the horse at the end of the clip.  Tell me, isn't this what love is all about? 

video


Wednesday, October 23, 2013

The Gifts of Marriage

Yes, of course:  companionship, partnership, maybe financial security, maybe children.

But American bishops a few years back emphasized something else - a primary benefit of marriage is directed toward the salvation of others, that marriage helps us lead others (e.g., our spouse and children) to the Lord - in the "where two or more are gathered" way.

Now emptying the dishwasher doesn't seem too big a deal.

So it is with a lot of satisfaction on this day that I share a strategically-sent note: 

Kate:   It's nice that we can't see the future... because things turned out exactly as they should have.  I am glad you married Mike Maloney then... and I'm glad you're married to Shawn Steil now.

Me:     I loved your dad…and I love your dad.  And, I’m so happy to have you to love.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Comparisons

I'd like to give credit where it's due - not sure who said it, but it floated in my inbox and I must share.  Pour a glass of wine and repeat this a few times:

Comparing yourself to others is an act of violence against yourself.

 

Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Maloneys!

The wedding of the year occurred last Saturday (10.12.13) when Matt married Kelly.

There's so much to say and so few pictures on my phone.

I've consoled myself about my lack of documentation - that's a good sign, really.  I had the time of my life.  I felt like a queen (hair, mani, pedi, facial, makeup...) and I watched our prince marry his princess.  It was magical.  I had no time to look down at my phone (certainly no pockets!) so I'm hoping the photographers come through...

It was a series of events, that I do not ever want to forget:

Wednesday - All day spa date with Kate
Thursday - Dinner invite from the happy couple - a thank you dinner that included only the 4 parents, held at Vino's - the restaurant where they had their first date ten years ago this month
Thursday late - Karaoke with Laurie, Steve and Dan (among others) at Miguels
Friday - Bridal lunch at the Cedar Rapids Country Club
Friday pm - Rehearsal and dinner at Shores Event Center, complete with heartfelt speeches from Shawn, Jeanne, Karin, Laurie, Steve, Dan, Barb, Kelly, Matt...and me!
Friday late - after party at our hospitality room
Saturday am - Griddle with the Groom! for the men and Bagels on the Bridegroom! for the women/children
Saturday - beautiful, modern, classic 2 pm wedding and reception at The Hotel at Kirkwood Center
Saturday late - after party at our hospitality room
Sunday - Newlywed Brunch at our home and later gift opening at Krapfl's

Two favorites
























Friday, October 18, 2013

LOML

Happy birthday to the love of my life.

Your life is a gift to all who interact with you.  My every crisis is easier, every thrill is heightened, every challenge is smoother because you choose to actively go through it with me.

So what do I get you?  How do I demonstrate my gratefulness for what you give me?  There's an Amazon package on its way, of course I didn't pay extra for shipping (ha!) so it will arrive next week, and when it does, I hope you recognize that I am absolutely clueless when deciding how to gift you back.  There's no purchase that aptly provides the message that I want you to get:  that your contribution to my life will stay with me forever, that I recognize what you bring me.

Oh - and you might be happy to know that Microsoft has released Windows 8.1 today - hip husband - and it promises to be an improvement.

As soon as I find the bacon, I'll be heading home to celebrate with you.  Chill the wine.
Love you AND like you.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Happy Dan Day!

As Mark Twain famously wrote, "I didn't have time to write a short letter, so I wrote a long one instead."

I saw this quote today and I immediately thought of my brother Dan, the birthday boy today.

Happy birthday to a favorite.

You've taught me so much over the years - like the difference between 'eager' and 'anxious', how to spell words such as 'a lot' and 'no one', the perenially confusing 'fewer' and 'less', and, of course, how to slide through an almost-red light without drawing attention.

Dan, Karaoke, and Miguels:  A Winning Combo



















Here's a treat for you, for your birthday, Danny boy - I know you will eat this up as fast as that birthday cake I saw in front of you on FB:
http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/229369#ixzz2i0fBCYuW

Friday, October 11, 2013

#joy

It has been a joy watching Matt and Kelly prepare for their wedding day (TOMORROW!) and marriage.  From my perspective, it's been such a joyful journey.  I feel compelled to share that, and did, tonight, at the rehearsal dinner:

When Matt was a little boy, when it was time to go to church, our other children would be piling into the mini-van, and I would catch my breath and realize that Matthew was nowhere around – that he was still inside.  I’d find him hiding behind the couch and would have to cajole and convince and grab him by the arms and pull him out.  He didn't want to go to church.

I know I won’t have to do that tomorrow.

Matt will be pacing, and eager to see his bride, marry his girl…formalize what he has known for a very long time – that Kelly is the partner for him, his missing piece, the extra part that makes his life so sweet.

One of the things that I admire about them as a couple – their response to each other.  It’s palpable as if to say, “What do you need?  How can I help?”

10 years ago...shortly after Matt & Kelly started dating, I think I became known as the "hot tub overseer" – I had to!

It's obvious that they were crazy about each other then and, the nice thing is, it's obvious now.

And if they were getting in that hot tub tonight, I'm available...I mean, they're not married yet!

When I first met Kelly, I liked her immensely.  She had a fashion flare, to be sure, but, even at 17, what seemed bigger than that, was her value for all things family.  She respected and represented the values her family taught her and I liked that.  She treated my boy nicely and I liked that, too.

And I must say...If the engagement is any indication of the next fifty years, I'm going to be a happy mom and mom-in-law...

I’ve had so much fun talking to you about Mac fonts and dendrobium orchids and many other details that you have shared with me.  Thank you for including me in the planning of your marriage and I look forward to enjoying you in your new married life.  I’m proud of you both and love you so much.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

God wants...

Spiritual fruits...Not religious nuts!

(As seen on a bumper sticker during Saturday morning errands)

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

It's Harvard, baby!

Cooking and science - that's interesting!  And enrolling in Harvard's new online course (free!) sounds compelling, too!  It's the latest EdX offering, available to anyone in the world with an internet connection.  These MOOCs (massive open online courses) are ramping up and getting better and better!  45,000 individuals have signed up for this one, which starts next Tuesday (October 8):
 

Friday, September 27, 2013

You Are Golden

Happy golden birthday Matthew Ives.  You are 27 now and when I was...I got you. 

You bring both clarity and humor, often in the same conversation, and besides your good looks, those are traits I admire.

It's been such a joy, both depending and enjoying you.

Some favorite/fun photos:

Sorry Matt - indulge me won't you?
This is a day I will remember forever.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Bad Bosses

Interesting, curious things happen at work all the time, right?  Our group, including my boss and my direct reports, received an invitation to attend a College of Business presentation on "Bad Bosses". 

Hopefully that won't be awkward.

I won't take it personally - I don't think I've cost the university billions of dollars or anything, but I also trust that I haven't demotivated the staff. 

I was fairly sure I'd be considered an "okay" boss, but you never know.  I remember reviewing a direct report's goals when he insinuated I hadn't met mine.  He wanted to get promoted and openly suggested that I hadn't done enough to get him where he wanted to go.

I told him it was his career.

He interrupted me and misunderstood me and did not listen to me.

So my eyes blurred, and I thought about what I would not eat for dinner. 

And then my defensiveness slapped me awake and I suggested that instead of just throwing rocks at our operation and my style, how would he like to help?  What would he like to lead?  What specific steps does he want to take to advance his career?

People, you can't say you want to be a leader and then refuse to step out front, refuse to step up.  I'll mentor but not mother.

Sioux Falls

This weekend we went to Sioux Falls, in the heart of America...South Dakota's largest city.  We attended the wedding of Shawn's great nephew, and, along the way, were reminded about love and loyalty and all the emotions that come with witnessing two young people newly and publicly committing.
I never get tired of this
I really like this extra glitz on the Michael's votive candle


The Mrs. Steils

Shawn with his sibs

Brothers

Priceless morning walk