Thursday, December 26, 2013

Better with Friends

It's better to share the joy during the holidays if you can. We can try to open our door and our hearts, and let a little extra love float around. Those kindnesses are remembered for many years, friendships are deepened, and new bonds are formed. Bless the lovely people we shared our time with on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We look forward to many more days, weeks, and years of shared experiences.

Hoping you are having happy holidays of your own, 
and that you will have a wonderful 2014!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Christmases Past

So many memories creep in as Christmas draws closer... As children, we waited with so much anticipation for Santa, and strongly felt the love of our parents that came with special gifts under the tree. Some early years with family were the best. There was the year Dad bought a blue spruce so big he had to take the railings off the front steps on approach to the house. Then it took pushing from outside and pulling from inside to get the tree in. It was tall and broad and almost took up the entire living room. Awesomeness Defined.

Once out on my own, still I got home for Christmas as often as I could. Other holidays were spent with friends who were extended family. Early in my relationship with Ron, we would drive all night (usually through an ice storm) from Dallas to the farm in Melvin, IL. The old farm house was packed with family and joy, cheese balls and cookies, stockings and presents. What fun it was!

Time and circumstances change our traditions. We married, our careers became more demanding, and we moved...Dallas to Las Vegas to Memphis to Chicago to Prescott. We lost Ron's parents and my dad. We gradually began to enjoy the restful peace of having our Christmases shared alone together.
Christmas at our home in Las Vegas in the mid-90's.
Christmas Eve we have champagne and sinful hors d'oeuvres, like pâté and caviar. We play hours and hours of Christmas music by candlelight, with the tree sparkling bright. First thing on Christmas, we open our stockings. Then Ron makes pancakes for breakfast. We sip mimosas while exchanging gifts and receiving happy phone calls from family and friends. In the afternoon, we prepare a Christmas dinner. By evening, we settle in for a quiet evening together, basking in our good fortune and an aura of love.

This year we will have friends over for a laid back Christmas Eve, and will join a larger group of friends for Christmas dinner. We hope you all have plans for your own kind of Christmas joy. We'll all always have memories of Christmases Past.

All the best to you and yours. Merry Christmas!   

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Lost "Arts"

When was the last time you did any of these things?:

Used a sewing machine to make a garment
Changed the oil on your own car
Made biscuits from scratch
Wrote a letter to family or friend in longhand
Wrapped a present (without using a bag!)
Played a musical instrument
Sang in a chorus/choir
Created a piece of art
Went on a walk just to enjoy nature
Gave yourself a manicure/pedicure

This is not an indictment of anyone's personal practices - just an observation that we may be becoming more and more removed from certain types of activities that used to be part of our daily lives, responsibilities, and small personal joys. Sure, things change over the years. But it strikes me that we are constantly undergoing meaningful cultural change. And it's not all good. Aren't we more than a bit spoiled?

There was a time that if I wanted an outfit for a special occasion, I would buy a pattern and fabric, and make it myself. I remember, with fondness, a killer magenta dress that I made for a date sometime in the mid-80's. I recently bought a new sewing machine and have material for a summer frock, but am having trouble getting that project off the ground. Funny how intimidating a new sewing machine, still in its box, can be...

I admit that I never changed the oil on my own car, but today, when you can have it done in 20 minutes for 30 dollars - why would you do it yourself? Someone else can deal with the environmental requirements for disposing of the old oil, while you have a Starbucks.

Internet shopping and gift wrap services have eliminated the need to wrap a lot of presents. But I make sure I buy wrapping paper and bows to make some gifts extra-special for the recipient. It wouldn't seem like Christmas otherwise.

Last year, I got a long, newsy handwritten letter from a friend. It was tucked into a Christmas card. I recognized it for what it was, a true gift from the heart.

Many, many conveniences are available for a price. They help us save time, but usually at a price. Sometimes the payment comes from your wallet. Sometimes the price is a loss of connectivity to things that matter. However you do what you do; please make sure you are staying dialed in to life.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Motivation a la Fitbit

I am a gadget freak, although I believe it's less about the gadget itself and more about finding the perfect tools for life's little challenges. I continue to challenge my aging self to increase physical activity and drop some pounds. To that end, my husband bought me a Fitbit Force for my recent birthday. It has become a constant wrist accessory for me.

The Fitbit Force, at it's most basic function, is a watch and pedometer. But it goes further than that, estimating calories burned, flights of stairs climbed, and identifying "very active" periods. The free software (for desktop and smartphone), syncs your wristband with your desktop computer and your smartphone. You can set goals for yourself and your Fitbit will message you when you are approaching your goal, awarding badges when you achieve certain benchmarks.
(Partial) Tracking Screen
from Smartphone

Another feature of the Force is a "Sleep Mode" that tracks your movements during sleep and reports on your "sleep efficiency". It's fascinating to see how many times a night I was restless or awake. It seems pretty accurate, although if you wake up and are very still, it can't tell you are awake. But if you get out of bed it knows, since you have taken steps. When you toss and turn, it tracks that as restless time. Quality of sleep is closely associated with general wellness, so I find this to be a welcome feature.
My Sleep Record from Last Night
For more complete stats, detail food and water intake, and enter the data on your smartphone or computer. Log other activities the Force cannot effectively track, like swinging a golf club for 18 holes or lifting weights.

If you're all in, there is a wireless scale (Aria) that interfaces with Fitbit, which tracks progress on weight loss. We have the scale, but I'm not ready to get on it quite yet... Soon.

I'm really happy with my new gadget, and if it motivates me to move a little more every day, it was worth the $129. See for more information. Ron bought mine at Best Buy, but you can purchase directly from Fitbit or on

This is not a paid endorsement. Just feedback from a friendly gadget freak.