Sunday, July 26, 2015

Welcome Back

I know. I know. It's been a long time since my last post, and to be honest - I'd sort of given up on the whole "I'm a writer/blogger" thing. The days of fancying myself a writer were gone, for a number of reasons. But lately, I'm thinking "I AM a writer" - and I need to be writing again.

I can sum up my life since my last post in one word: enlightening. There have been many times where I've been on my knees, pleading, asking God/Universe "why?!" - not "why me?" mind you, but "why?!" The answers all led to where I am now, which is to say - okay. Every day I learn something new; I become more enlightened every day.

The challenges I've experienced the past two years have been mostly career-related and have left me shaking my head - thinking, "never did I expect to be in this place at my age". But I am, and it is, so rather than cry in my Vernor's (you all know I don't drink alcohol) - I'm pushing through and finding grace with each lesson I learn.

One of my posts from long ago talked about gratitude and saying "thank you" as often as I can. That still holds, but in the past two years I find myself saying "thank you" even when another challenge pops up. I say "thank you" all the time anyway: when I wake in the morning, when I climb into bed at night, every time I see a bright yellow car (that's for another blog post); in general I say "thank you" - (to quote my late sister Jean) "because I want to and I can."  

Two years ago, I wasn't in the habit of saying "thank you" for challenges. But now I do and it's because with each new challenge, a blessing has popped up right next to it. Even when there is no challenge, a blessing shows up. And this is the really cool part - the blessings have outnumbered the challenges by 10 to 1, and that is no exaggeration.

What I've learned, particularly since June 2013 - and this is a tough one for me to shallow - is that each and every event, circumstance, challenge, etc. is not something that happened to me, but one that I brought on myself. By "owning it" as it were, I am accepting of the challenges in my life and surprisingly - not angry about them. Not angry at the situation and more importantly, not angry at myself (well, maybe a little).

It's all part of the path I'm on. I've also learned a lot more in that these "issues" or "challenges" I've put in my path didn't just come out of left field - they're deep-seated and unless I look at where they originated and what brought them into my life in the first place - they will continue to haunt me.

As this journey I'm on continues, I'll make note of it here. Just writing this little snippet feels good to me and encourages me to not only continue on the path I've chosen but make note of it here as well.

Welcome back! Let me know what you think.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Thank You

I say “thank you” for everything these days. I wake up each morning and jot down in a notebook next to my bed, what I’m grateful for. I do this every single day. It helps me get started on the right foot. I’m also learning to say “thank you” for things that pop up that – how should I put this – are challenging, or upsetting (like getting my Jeep stuck in a snow drift last week). Saying “thank you” for all our blessings is easy. But saying “thank you” when challenged or upset can be hard to do. Keep in mind though – the upsets and challenges are blessings too; we learn from them so of course they're blessings.

Here’s a perfect example: lately, I have recommended a book to several people that I found helpful when it first came out in 1992. It’s a book that in my memory banks – I believed to still be packed away in a box in my garage. That box (along with 6 other boxes of books) has been in my garage since I moved here 12 years ago; because I don’t have enough room on the three large book cases I have in my home to put every book I own, nor do I have room for more bookcases.

Okay, back to the book: the book is called “A Return to Love” by Marianne Williamson. I first learned of her when I was living in Telluride, Colorado in the early 90’s. That’s also where I learned about A Course in Miracles which Marianne taught/teaches and which is the basis of her groundbreaking book “A Return to Love.”

Recently, I’ve been revisiting ACIM (A Course in Miracles), along with reading other spiritual and religious books in my daily study. While reading ACIM, I keep reminding myself to go outside to the garage and dig through all those boxes to find “A Return to Love”, which I feel would complement my study of ACIM. That’s simple enough, right?

Finding that book was my project for today. Before going out to the garage, I looked again at all the books on my bookshelves hoping that "A Return to Love" was there. Nope. So I bundle up, go outside (did I mention that it is 9 degrees outside today?), step inside the garage (where is it probably colder than 9 degrees) and begin my search. Let me tell you that I opened every box I had, whether there was a book in it or not – looking for "A Return to Love."

Not only was I frustrated when I came up empty (and trying to say “thank you” throughout the ordeal) – I started to let it get in the way of an otherwise fabulous day. I tried to recall if I had lent it out to someone, but I don’t remember. So I came inside, shook off the cold and started stomping around the house saying some not-so-nice things to myself like “you idiot! What did you do with that book?!”

Then I remembered that I had some books packed away in my dad’s foot locker here in the house. I opened it but the book wasn’t in there. “Okay” I told myself. “It’s gone.” Finally, I decided to check my bookshelves one more time. Why I thought the book would show up when it hadn’t previously, I don’t know – but I checked again – and guess what? It was there! Not only was it there – it was on the middle shelf, front and center!

Of course the first words out of my mouth were “Thank You!” and that reminded me that in addition to being put on this earth to help and serve others, we are also here to give thanks for all that we have and all that we are searching for. Sometimes what we are searching for is right on the middle shelf, front and center.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Better Late Than Never, I Suppose

This morning when I turned on my computer, there was an email from my “Word of the Day” buddy, Dan. He was letting me know that an email exchange we had on May 17, 2013 had just showed up in his email.
Please note today’s date: December 17, 2013.

What is Word of the Day? Word of the Day is a word you get via email by subscribing to one of the various online dictionaries. The object of my version of Word of the Day is to use that word in a sentence and send it out to my Word of the Day buddy, Dan. Dan and I have been exchanging “words” for over 10 years now and I don’t know about Dan, but for me – it is part of my morning routine – like brushing my teeth.
Here's what I sent to Dan on May 17, 2013:

Take a gander at this: Justin Verlander lasted not even 3 innings in the Tigers loss to Texas last night; the final score being 10 to 4! That means Justin's last two outings have been disasters. Hope he gets his mojo back soon!”

gander \GAN-der\, noun:

1. Slang. a look: Take a gander at his new shoes.
2. the male of the goose. Compare goose (def. 2).


We’ve all had our regular mail delayed on rare occasions – and even email delayed; but for 7 months?! That’s crazy!  I’m glad it was something as unimportant as a Word of the Day and not some email message from my doctor saying "your test results are in, please call office IMMEDIATELY!!"

So after Dan let me know that the email I sent him on May 17th had just arrived – I began to wonder – what happens to lost emails? I suppose the better question would be “where do emails go?” Speaking from the “tech moron” perspective (of which I am quite familiar) – all I know is that I type an email, hit the send button and the email is received within minutes at its destination. If the recipient is available and online – chances are a response will come to me, also within minutes.

But when you send an email on May 17th and it arrives at its destination on December 17th – you have to wonder about the speed and efficiency that drives our technological world.

Again, it’s not like the email I sent to Dan on May 17th was important – except that it might have been. My Word of the Day, “gander” was used in a sentence about a Tigers baseball game the night before. The fact that it showed up 7 months later is nothing more than a fluke – I mean, it might not have shown up at all.

Makes you wonder though.

Well, as the saying goes “better late than never . . .”


Friday, November 29, 2013

Circling the Leftovers

That’s what I found myself doing last night around 9:00 p.m. After completely over doing it with the food yesterday and being so stuffed that my “thanksgiving” pants (read: elastic waist) actually hurt – I was surprised to find myself several hours later – thinking about leftovers!

My friend Judy who graciously invited me to join her and her family's Thanksgiving feast fed me like I was the only one in attendance and in fact, sent me home with leftovers that will keep me going for the next couple of days, at least!

But back to my original comment.

What part of the brain kicks in and directs the human body to consume additional calories (in the form of leftovers) 3 hours after consuming on average 4,500 calories in a single meal? I'm just asking . . .

So there I am on my couch watching the Modern Family marathon on TV mere hours after consuming the most food I have consumed in one meal in a year – and I’m thinking “leftovers”. Not like, “Yea! I've got leftovers for tomorrow!” but more like “I want leftovers now!” That flat out scared me.

I even opened the refrigerator door and examined the containers that Judy sent me home with and sure enough – there's containers of everything that made that Thanksgiving meal great. And it’s all there on the middle shelf in my refrigerator just waiting for a fork.

I closed the door, stood up and asked myself (out loud, mind you) “C’mon Liz, are you really contemplating leftovers? Now? While the food you ate several hours ago is still in your gut? Really?”

That did it. No leftovers for me. Not last night anyway. And just to make sure I wouldn’t be tempted further – I went into the bathroom and brushed my teeth. Had there been mouthwash in there, I would have worked that into the mix as well.

You have to admit, nothing makes food taste worse than eating it immediately after brushing your teeth. Think back to the times you downed a glass of orange juice right after you brushed your teeth. Shaking your head at the memory? Yeah, I thought so.

Holiday feast advice: If you want to spare yourself further discomfort after eating a huge holiday meal, and contemplating eating the leftovers a few hours later – go brush your teeth.
Here's hoping all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Paying Up

I’m not one to wager on things. Sure, I’ll play a game of chance and purchase the occasional lotto ticket – but when it comes to sports – not so much. I’ll even own up to having participated in an “office pool” or two for the Super Bowl or the NCAA Basketball Tournament – back when I worked in an office – but just straight out betting on a team to win a game – no.  That is until last week.
Last week, I was challenged to wager on my beloved Detroit Tigers to win the American League Championship Series against the Boston Red Sox. This challenge came from a former boss of mine who now resides in (you guessed it), the Boston area. The fact that he doesn’t even come from Boston never entered in to it for him (he’s from New York!) But he resides in the Boston area and has for many years, so that qualifies him to be a Red Sox fan. I get it. All those years I lived in Colorado, I was a Broncos fan and even a Colorado Rockies fan, although I did find it difficult to root for a National League team.

One thing I never did though was abandon my love for the Detroit Tigers or the Detroit Lions. Was always a fan and will always be a fan. And now that I’m back on my home turf – I am a “crazy” Tigers fan. I watch every game, know every player, rejoice like a true fan when they win and take it almost personally when they lose.
So when Barry suggested this wager – I was all in. I knew though that the Tigers were tired, they were injured and they had some serious “holes” in their bull pen. Didn’t matter – I went for it.

I told Barry that should the Tigers lose the series, I’d be happy (well maybe not happy) to send him several goodies that are unique and beloved by all who hail from the Detroit area: Vernor’s Ginger Ale and Sander’s Milk Chocolate Hot Fudge topping.
Barry offered several things: Vermont Maple syrup (puleez! I live in northern Michigan for crying out loud – we are swimming in maple syrup every spring!), a challenge for the loser to wear the opponents team t-shirt (nope) or a coffee mug from his favorite coffee place. I told him I’d take the mug.

Without reopening old wounds, we all know that the Tigers are not playing in this year’s World Series – the Boston Red Sox are. The Tigers gave it their best – but failed to win the ALCS so it is time for me to pay up.
I went to the store today and purchased the items I offered to Barry. I explained in an email that Vernor’s is definitely an “acquired” taste and it would break my heart to learn that he and his family hated the stuff and tossed it. So I bought a six pack of the little cans of Vernor’s. As for the Sander’s – well, I’m certain they’ll be hooked once they taste it. I also mentioned to Barry that if Vernor’s is mixed with vanilla ice cream it becomes a “Boston Cooler” – so that might help when it comes to deciding whether to finish off the six pack or to toss it.

Just for the heck of it, I looked up Vernor’s on Wikipedia and found a great history of the beverage and a mention of Boston Coolers – and the naming of Boston Coolers is a mystery. Who knew?
So I have paid up. I mailed off the package to Barry and am now folding up and packing away (until spring) my Tigers shirt and Tigers baseball cap. By then it will be time for maple syrup season here.

By the way: Barry is sending me that coffee mug from his favorite coffee place! How cool is that?!

Enjoy the goodies Barry!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

It Might Be Time

As I take off my pedal pushers and put on some heavy sweatpants and a sweatshirt – I’m thinking it might be time to say good-bye to my summer clothes for another year.
Yes, it is cool and windy today – more fall-like than anything and it’s also going to stay cool for the foreseeable future. Mark Watkins, senior meteorologist at Channel 7 & 4 News responded to an email I sent him a few days ago:

Liz, my favorite computer model says that once we get thru Wednesday (9/11/13)…for the next 4 weeks, our high temperatures will be in the 50s & 60s…not even any 70s!  I hope this helps.  Thanks for the message!!!  Good question. I might put that info in the newscast.”
So there you have it. I’m taking Mr. Watkins at his word and have already contacted my handyman to see if he’s available next week to “pack up” my air conditioner and other summer things (like patio furniture) and move everything to the garage.

What I need to do is to start digging out my warmer clothes and get everything washed and ready for the coming fall season.
This was a stellar summer weather-wise, with the exception of a couple of hot spells that made one want to cling to their air conditioner rather than head to the beach – but those days were few. The summer here was glorious and now that it’s coming to an end – I’m feeling a bit sad about it.

Not really! Those who know me well know how much I love, love, love cool autumns and cold, snowy winters! So I say – BRING IT! Well, not right this second, or even this week – but I am definitely ready for autumn. There are two things that are true indicators that fall has arrived:
1.       Watching boats coming out of their slips here at the marina. As all the boats get pulled out of the water and all covered up to make their way to dry docks or other storage areas it makes me long for just one more week of fabulous summer weather.

2.       The end of Tigers baseball! With 16 games left (after tomorrow nights game against Kansas City) – I’ll be glued to the TV, as I am every time the Tigers play, but now I’ll be watching with a blanket on my lap. Even though there is a post season and chances are very good the Tigers will be actively participating in the post season – the end of baseball season, brings me down a bit and reminds me that autumn is here.

Tomorrow’s project is to get all my summer gear ready to be put away and then get the fall/winter clothing ready to wear. Yes, saying good-bye to summer is sad, but autumn and winter bring their own special beauty and I for one will be welcoming both with open arms!


Saturday, August 10, 2013

Reflections on the 40th

Last weekend was my 40th high school reunion, which I happily attended. It wasn’t just our reunion (Dearborn High, Class 1973), but the whole city of Dearborn – which celebrates all the high schools reunions on the first weekend in August.

To say it was “fun” would be understating things a bit. It was great fun. Whether it was the golf outing at Dearborn Hills on Friday morning, the burger at Miller’s Bar afterwards, the “Girls Night” at Randy’s Bar that night, followed up by what can only be called an “after party” at the New Place Lounge (which I did not attend), plus all the activities of Saturday which culminated with the big reunion – the whole weekend was terrific.

The hall where our reunion was held was cavernous and loud, but offered plenty of space to move about, greet and visit with classmates. The added perk for me was the fact that some classmates that I hadn’t seen in years, if at all since graduating, decided to come.

There was also a level of emotion attached to the event as well – probably just on my part, but present nevertheless. I got an opportunity to visit with a classmate who I hadn’t seen in many years but who lived 3 doors down from me when we were growing up. As Carol and I learned of each other’s lives, memories of childhood came flooding back to me. Whether it was recalling how we called on each other to come out and play (standing at friend’s back door and calling out in a chant “Car roll, Car roll, Car roll . . .”) or thinking back to how we played with our Barbie dolls in Carol’s basement, the memories were sweet.

Another classmate who showed up for the 40th reunion was a guy who hadn’t attended any previous reunions.  I was very eager to visit with him. It wasn’t so much a desire to reconnect with him (he wasn’t the nicest guy in high school – let me put it that way) as much as it was to learn more about the death of his best friend who graduated a year ahead of us; a guy I dated very briefly in high school.

I learned of Craig’s death as I was flying home to Michigan from Denver, Colorado for our 10 year class reunion. I sat next to a classmate’s father who was flying back to Detroit after a visit to Las Vegas. As we chatted about how we were doing, the subject of classmates of his daughter’s and mine came up.  I wondered aloud whatever happened to Craig and this man looked at me incredulously and said “Craig’s dead. He died of an overdose about a year and a half ago. You didn’t know that?” I couldn’t even breathe. Craig? Overdose? Dead? That didn’t make sense. But it didn’t have to. He was dead, end of story. Still, stuff was coming up for me surrounding this news; big stuff.

I felt bad for Craig’s family of course and his friends but it really didn’t affect me personally – or so I thought. I mean, I lived in Colorado. I left Dearborn in 1975 and made my home out west. I never spoke to Craig after I left Michigan.  Not wanting to reveal my true feelings at this news, I told my classmate’s dad – “that’s too bad” and left it at that.

There was a part of me though that was reeling from this news. Memories of time spent with Craig rushed back; the laughs we had, cruising around in his Corvette, in general – the time we spent together. But other things came up too; mostly how he treated me. He was awful. He was dismissive, rude, nasty and could say the most hurtful things imaginable. I learned later that wasn’t just me that he treated that way – it was every girl he dated. Not that it made me feel better – but at least I knew I wasn’t alone.

I’m not writing this today to take swipes at the dead or step on Craig’s legacy if there was one. I’m writing about the death of someone I knew and briefly cared about. I’m also writing to examine the misplaced feelings of anger I had toward Craig after learning of his death.

Let me tell you – I was pissed. Throughout the years I would wonder – why did he do that? He didn’t do drugs. Not when I knew him. He was too vain to do drugs. He needed to be in control – and as everyone who gets high knows – when you’re loaded, you are not in control.

So here I am at this 40th reunion and I approach Craig’s best friend Bill. We greet with the perfunctory hug. Then I start in with this awkward statement: “Bill, this may be an inappropriate time but I have to ask . . .” Bill looked at me and tears welled up in his eyes. He grabbed my hand and led me outside where we could talk.

Bill told me the whole sad story. It wasn’t a drug overdose. And if I thought I had been angry at Craig over the years – it was nothing compared to what Bill felt.

On the long drive home on Monday, I thought about Craig again.  I tried to remember more about him. Yes, his ego was super-sized. Yes he came from a wealthy background and wanted for nothing.  He was one of the lucky ones – yet nothing could have been further from the truth. After learning how he died, I thought differently of him. The anger I felt was gone. My heart broke for him. Struggling with what he struggled with must have been hell.

So as I put to rest the sad saga of someone I once knew – I am reminded of the uncertainty of life, the promise that life offers – only to end abruptly when one feels alone with nowhere to turn. My heart breaks for those who had no one to talk to; no one to confide in and in their desperation decided it just wasn’t worth it to endure this kind of pain.

To the living – to my friends from Dearborn High School, Class of 1973 – I say, it was so wonderful to see you! I loved  being with you and how we all were able to reconnect, albeit briefly, to share memories and make promises to stay in touch. The ease of our conversations is what I will take away from this reunion. It felt so right.

Although we did toast those of us in attendance, we did not toast those of us unable to come and more importantly – we did not toast those who have passed on. The noise and the din of that VFW hall made those toasts impossible, but we were all feeling the love for our classmates here and long gone. I know we were.