No matter how busy I am throughout the year, I always make time to slow down in the summer. I make time to pamper myself and those I love. I make time to relax. To laugh. I make time to be present in the daily moments of wonder, of gratitude and of beauty.
So here’s my recipe for a magical summer:
Daily one-on-one time with my sweetie. Yup. I KNOW he’s gorgeous.
Eating well. Summer is my favorite food season. Oops, second favorite. Winter’s first;
Long talks with my BB’s - beautiful brilliant - children. Far into the night;
Creating. Playing. Relaxing;
Ice cream dates. Every day. Why not?
Get-togethers with friends. The conversations, the laughter, the ease of being with people who love me and don’t judge.
Reading. Reading. And more reading. Inside. Outside. On a blanket at the beach. On a blanket in a field. Anywhere. Anytime.
How about you? What are your recipes for a great summer?
I’ve missed you all and thought of you daily. I can’t believe it’s been over 3 months since I’ve last posted, but there it is. Three months. Thank you for your emails and concern. I am well. Family is well. All happy and healthy. And busy.
You know how it is: work and family and more work. And even writing, if you can believe that. Once a week I drive myself to a writing class, present some of my old work that I haven’t shared with anyone before, listen to, and read the work of other students, accept their feedback on my work, offer mine on theirs, and so on and so forth. It’s one of the highlights of my week. Haha. No. It really is.
I’ve been wanting to take a small writing class since forever, and now that I finally have, I can’t believe I put it off for so long. Our teacher, Jennifer Lauck, is phenomenal. And I’m not saying that just because she’s a New York Times bestselling author - and I want to be one too. There. I admit it. - I’m saying it because she truly is phenomenal. The things she’s been through… I’m amazed at how she’s endured and carried on and become the person she is today: full of life, of joy, of gentleness and of wisdom.
So as a hello to you all, again, after such a long absence, I’m giving away a copy of her memoir, Blackbird. The writing is graceful. Exquisite. The story: powerful, harrowing, hopeful. I read it in one day. I cried and I laughed and I cried some more. And you will too. I promise. So go on. Leave a comment anytime between today and next Tuesday evening. And have yourselves a beautiful week!
It’s been pouring out. Nonstop. I’m sitting by the lamplit window trying to figure out what to write about, but instead am too busy watching the rain come down, gathering in puddles, making little lakes in my little garden. Rain is so romantic, isn’t it? The sound of it, the look… But, I can do without the feel of its cold drops, like icy fingers, sliding down my back.
My favorite time to read is when it rains. A hot cup of tea or coffee in one hand, and a book in the other, is one way I love to spend a rainy day. Add to it the lonely sound of a train making its way to exotic destinations, glittery cities or majestic mountain resorts, and I’m in heaven. I spend quite a bit of time daydreaming of being on the train myself, looking out the window at the rolling images of dark villages, their windows glowing like honey, steep slate roofs with smoke curling out the chimneys, the humming of the tracks as the train rushes along, and the cobbled train stations where people anticipate the arriving and departing trains with as much excitement as though it were Christmas.
I can’t imagine a more romantic way to travel, than by train. And, yes, most of my daydreams are about destinations unknown. Probably because I rarely ever go anywhere these days. Or perhaps because in my armchair travel adventures everything goes according to plan, and no luggage is ever lost.
How about you? How do you imagine travel at its most romantic? And how do you like to pass a rainy day? Do you like to read? Well, here’s a chance to read a great book and travel to Paris, all at the same time from the comfort of your own cozy chair. This is a story about friendship, love and delicious food, written by one of my funniest, cleverest blogging friends. We meet this past summer and over coffee and chocolate muffins I found her to be just as delightful and hilarious and intelligent as I had imagined her.
So join in the fun and leave a comment before midnight October 11th for a chance to win Hidden in Paris.
Since my mom had been diagnosed with cancer, it had become my duty as firstborn to prepare the Thanksgiving day dinner. With a few years worth of experience under my belt, and the misguided sense of confidence that brings, I no longer worry whether the turkey is moist enough or cooked through.
I have learned one thing about becoming the new family cook, and that is to never vacillate. If the meat is a bit pink, it is so because I meant it to be so, and not for any other reason. There are always a lot of cooks in my mom’s kitchen, and you can bet the opinions fly. Thankfully, no one has gotten food poisoning as a result of my time spent wearing the apron of honor.
Thanksgiving this year has been poignant as my youngest sister and my youngest brother could not attend. Based on our collective recollections, this has been the only Thanksgiving that we didn’t celebrate together. As my nephew said grace and prayed for their safety, wistfulness took over and we spent the better part of the meal reminiscing about other Thanksgivings gathered together around my parents dining table. And perhaps because they were not there, we decided to forgo the pie eating contest at the end of the meal.
Regardless, it was almost three hours later that we pushed our chairs back and retired ourselves to the family room couches and chairs where more of the same talk of politics, relationships, literature, religion and good times continued, while golden pools of light from the lit lamps shone on the blessed faces of loved ones far into the night. Outside the cozy and comforting embrace of our childhood home it was cold and drizzly, a sort of desolate world of wind and water.
And as everyone said their goodbyes and goodnights promising to meet again in the new day, I offered up a little prayer of gratitude for those people that mean so much to our lives, whether they be family or friends, that we cannot imagine a life without them.
Ever notice how catty females get when they’re out together and another of their sex walks by? In the split of a second that poor woman has been evaluated and judged, and without any reason. There’s no denying the bonding that takes place between us women through our mutual consent to trash another. And in my weaker moments I’ve succumbed to the bitch within very easily. I end up feeling so guilty and so disgusted with myself afterwards, that I vow never to do it again. Because I know better. I have been a victim of this sort of cruelty as a teenager. There’s no excuse for it.
I’m thinking about this as I’m sitting in a cafe, listening to a group of college girls dissecting another sitting at a different table with her boyfriend. I’m supposed to be working, but I find myself both fascinated and repulsed by their behavior.
When I was in ninth grade I had a mean girl experience. It was not at school, although if it would have happened at school, I would have understood why. I was, after all, in ESL, had a terrible accent, was taller than most of the boys in my grade, and dressed with clothes my mom bought at Macy’s - The Gap was the clothier of choice. But for some reason - and I cannot understand it to this day - people at school were pretty cool.
My enemy turned out to be my church best friend. She harassed me through phone calls late at night, made by her brothers, saying sexual things, terrifying me. I had no idea who was out to get me and why. My mom figured out it was her and called her mom. One of her brothers admitted he made phone calls on her behalf. My friend and her mom came over. My friend apologized and cried. She gave some stupid speech her mom made her say, I’m sure, but I can’t remember much about other than she loved me as a sister, blah, blah, blah. The moms made us hug it out.
But that was just the beginning. Because soon after, she wrote and mailed a letter -only one that I know of - to my crush, in which she posed as me. I have no idea what that letter said, but it must have been something really nasty, because he never spoke to me again. And I only found out about the letter years later, from my crush’s sister. Then, this friend proceeded to turn all of my church friends against me. No one would even say hello. Thank God I had supportive parents who understood my reality and did not ridicule it, nor expected me to deal with it. We switched churches promptly.
I’m angry with myself as I sit here, because I want to call these girls out on their awful behavior, but I don’t know how. I’m worried about making a scene in a place I frequent often. And is it even my responsibility? All I know for certain, is that if at least one of those childhood friends would have stood up for me, it would have made a world of difference.