formerly Diane's Addled Ramblings... the ramblings are still addled, just like before, and the URL is still the same...
it's just the title at the top of the page that's new

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Goal Digger - Follow-Up and Start-Over

At the beginning of the month, I did a post about setting goals. If you'd like, you can read it right here. I decided to list out my January goals here, in my blog, for all of you to see, in an attempt to hold myself a little more accountable than I have in the past. I said I'd follow-up at the end of the month and let you know how I did. My hope was that I'd meet them all - that I'd be 100% successful in every one.

Yeah. The road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Sigh.

But you know what? I'm not going to beat myself up because I can claim 100% success for several... and partial success for several others. That's big for me, really. A couple of things threatened to completely derail me and affected me negatively this month (I'm not making excuses. Really. I'm not. Honest. Shut up). Bottom line, if I hadn't listed my goals out here, knowing I was going to have to follow-up, and if I hadn't looked at the list on a regular basis, I don't think I would have accomplished much at all.

So I'm counting the whole shebang as a success. Of sorts. And 'of sorts' is better than not at all, baby!

Here's January's list with the outcomes...

1. Journal daily - This went swimmingly for the first 3 weeks of the month. In fact, I even got up at 5:30 every morning to do it! But I kind of fell off the wagon last week. I'll get back to it tomorrow, though. I'm counting this one as a solid 75% successful.

2. Do a new 'Vision Board' - I'm one-third of the way through with this one. I have the pictures that will go on the board, but they're not actually, you know, on the board. I think I have to count this as unsuccessful.

3. Go on two 'Artist's Dates' - I managed one, so this one gets a 50% successful.

4. Perform two 'Mindful Acts of Kindness/Connection/Giving' - I did three! And can I tell you? They made me feel good! This one rates a 100%+ successful.

5. Write three blog posts per week - I think I got four in most weeks. 100%+ successful.

6. Read three of the books on my nightstand - I read two (and one of them was assigned for work, so not exactly on my nightstand). I'm going with 50% successful.

7. Re-start Whole 30 - Nope. Didn't do it. Didn't even attempt it. Epic fail.

8. Work out four times per week - See #7. Ditto. Epic fail.

9. Re-start 'Declutter 365' - Did it and then some. Happy about it, too! 100%+ successful.

10. Do tax return as soon as W2 is available - Done. I should see my moolah within the next week or so. 100% successful.

11. Start new savings plan - I did... then I dipped into it (raising a teenager on your own is pricey, yo. There are unexpected expenses every stinkin' week). I'm counting this as a tried but failed.

12. Re-do my files and calendar (work). Successful.

13. Complete resume writing video scripts (work). A little more done but still not finished. Unsuccessful.

14. Reach $1000 of my Arctic Dip fundraising goal (work). I've raised a bit but not close to $1000. Unsuccessful.

OK, so February dawns tomorrow and I have a new list of goals. Well, actually, my list is comprised of all of last month's goals (with the exception of #10 and #12), as I'm either I'm continuing them until they become habits or I'm re-attempting the ones that were only partial successes or utter failures. I've said that the main reason I like goals as opposed to resolutions is that resolutions feel like 'all or nothing,' 'black or white,' 'succeed or fail' to me, but goals are things you work toward, and falling off the wagon (or not getting on it right away) is just part of the process.

I've added a few new goals, too.

Here they are: February Goals (* denotes partial success last month; ** denotes failure last month)

1. Journal daily *
2. Complete a new Vision Board **
3. Go on two Artist's Dates *
4. Perform two Mindful Acts of Kindness/Connection/Giving 
5. Write three blog posts per week
6. Read two of the books on my nightstand *
7. Re-start Whole 30 **
8. Work out four times per week **
9. Continue Declutter 365
10. Start new savings plan (and try not to dip into it!) **
11. Complete resume writing video scripts (work) **
12. Reach $1000 of my Arctic Dip fundraising goal (work) **

13. Get half-way through a new writing project (average 1000 words per day) - In order to finish the project within the time frame I've allotted myself, the 1000-word/day average is imperative.

14. Purchase a new fitness tracker and begin working toward 10,000 steps per day - I sit too much. Period. Sitting is bad for my health. I know this. And though I should be able to remember to simply get up and move throughout the day, without a device to remind me and counting my steps, I don't. 

15. Complete all the Special Olympics paperwork and organizational tasks necessary to start practice on February 29 - I'm going to be coaching our local area Special Olympics Swim Team, which I'm crazy-excited about! There's a lot to be done this month in order to start practice on time, so it's a big goal!

There you have it. I actually reduced the number of books I want to read from three to two, as my writing project will take up quite a bit of time. I don't want to give myself so much to do that I set myself up to fail. The goal here is to actually reach the goals!

I'll update you on my February goal digging at the end of the month!

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

All By Myself...

I have never lived alone.


Not in my whole life.

I went from living with my parents to roommates to boyfriend/husband to child. And in less than 17 months, that child will graduate from high school, after which she will go off to college... leaving me...


Well, alone plus a few fuzzy critters. But completely devoid of any human sharing my abode.

This freaks me out a little bit. I think it freaks the child out more, however. She simply cannot fathom the day when she no longer lives with me. And when her friends comment that they can't wait to leave home, she says, "Yeah, but I like my mom."


I like her, too. I really do. I love living with her. Mostly because she cleans up after me.


Not really. Well, OK, yes, really, but for other reasons, too. She's cool. She's interesting. She's funny. She can carry on a conversation about nearly anything for hours and hours.

And she cleans up after me.

Seriously. I finish a cup of tea, get up to go to the bathroom, come back, and the cup is in the dishwasher. I made her stop tidying my room because I couldn't find things ('put away' is confusing for me). If I could get her to clean the bathroom (ours and the cats'), she'd be pretty much perfect.

I'm cool with imperfect.

I'd be lying if I said I hadn't given any thought to what it will be like to live alone. I have. Part of me is pretty excited about it. Part of me is worried I'll turn into a lonely old spinster who never leaves the house and has more cats than is healthy.

Part of me is really worried about having to clean up after myself.


I figure I'll probably spend a fair amount of time stalking the child's Instagram and Twitter and Facebook and Pinterest (much like I do now). I'll likely binge-watch questionable television programs (but not Supernatural or Vampire Diaries [because I'll be all caught up by then, that's why]). I'm pretty sure I'll eat a lot of cereal for dinner.

But maybe, just maybe, I'll also make a list of fun, interesting, and cool things a middle-aged woman with an empty nest can do on her own... and then I'll actually do them.

Well, after I do the dishes.

Tea cups don't wash themselves, you know.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho

These snowy days have been lazy ones and instead of doing things on my to-do list, I've spent a fair amount of time in reflection (as I seem wont to do of late). A conversation with a friend the other night prompted thought about relationships or, in my case,

Lack thereof.

Since my divorce, I've gone out on a lot of dates (though none for quite a long time... much longer than I care to think about). I've had one long-ish relationship, but it was ages ago and it left a lot to be desired. Thankfully I learned some good stuff from it. Another, much shorter relationship caused significant heartbreak. It was the second time in my life I actually fell in love (the first was when I was quite young and it was not with my ex-husband [though I did love him]). Hindsight (and several years) proved that it all worked out for the best, but it didn't change the hurt - or the resulting scars.

Since then, I've met a few more men and I've been hurt (from mildly to miserably) a few times (and I hurt someone else, which left its own brand of scars on my heart and psyche).

Relationships are hard, yo.

I realized a while ago that my modus operandi is to fall for men who are unavailable. Their reasons for being unavailable vary and I make sure to cover them all - emotional, distance, marital status (though please note that I have never, nor would I ever, involve myself in another person's marriage. But I have certainly been attracted to [and kept it to myself] a married man or two).

I worked out that it's because it poses no risk. If a person isn't available - and I know it - then I can't really expect anything. I don't have to do the work because I already know it's not going to work out (or even, you know, start).


Unfortunately, it doesn't mean that I don't get hurt. Or that I don't feel rejected.

And rejection?

Sucks, man. It really sucks.

And I finally worked out (much later than I should have) that rejection is my big issue. Fear of rejection, really.

And it's a whopping big issue.

I've learned a bit about it over these past few years. I've learned that it's not always about me. Very often, it's about where the other person is in his life. Sometimes, however, it is about me, and hearing that, in no uncertain terms, is kind of awful. But at least there's no wondering. Because when it comes to rejection, wondering is the hardest. 

What did I do wrong?

What should I have done?

Am I not pretty enough, smart enough, funny enough, sexy enough?

What is wrong with me?

Ugh. It's the worst. It makes you doubt everything you believe (everything you want to believe) about yourself. It negates all the wonderful things your friends tell you (they love you, so they have to say nice things, right?). It makes you imagine the worst about yourself.

Now, some people don't do that, I'm sure. Some people ooze self-confidence to the point that, even if it is about them, they don't care. 

His loss, baby! I'm fabulous. Just. As. I. Am.

Yeah. I'm not those people.

I wish I was. I really do. 

I'm confident in other areas of my life. I don't doubt myself when it comes to certain things. 

But not this one.

I'd like to say it goes back to my marriage. And that certainly had a bearing on it. A marriage - a good, healthy marriage - is supposed to give you feelings of safety, security, and surety of self, even when doubt creeps in. It should make you feel loved and accepted for who you are, warts and all (please note, however, that I don't have any warts). Mine did none of of that. And when it ended badly, with my husband rejecting me for someone else, all the doubts that had been festering deep inside came bubbling (in the way an erupting volcano bubbles) to the surface. 

So it did not help. That's for certain.

But the lack of self-confidence in this particular area goes way back (it's why, in part, anyway, I wound up in an unhealthy marriage to begin with). And though I don't want to go into those deep-seeded issues here, I have identified them and I'm working to heal those parts of myself damaged decades ago.

And I've finally put together that it all comes back to that whole self-love thing. 

(Does everything come back to that?)

If I love myself enough, rejection might sting a bit, but in the end, I'll believe it's his loss, baby. I'm fabulous. Just. As. I. Am. 

I don't need a relationship. Obviously. I've gone a long time without one and my life isn't lacking. It's not about feeling incomplete. But I like being part of a couple. I like sharing things - the good things and the bad things. I'd like to have someone to shoulder the burdens of Life with. I'd like to have someone to grow old with.

But in order to have a relationship like that, I have to get out there. And in order to get out there, I have to get over the fear of rejection. And in order to get over the fear of rejection, I have to build myself up. And in order to build myself up, I have to love and accept myself for who I am, right here, right now, as is. 

As is.

And I have to stop causing my own shadows.

Because I'm ready for some sunshine.

Basically, this was a very long way of saying that the self-love/acceptance work I figured out I need to do (and talked about in this post right here) is important for so very many reasons, not the least of which is making sure I'm staying open to love - and to being loved. 

So, heigh ho, heigh ho, it's off to work I go... 

I'll keep you posted. You know I will. 

Saturday, January 23, 2016

And Still, It Snows

They're calling it Snowmageddon and Snowpocalypse... I dunno about that, but we got (are still getting) a crap-ton of snow - over two feet it looks like, with drifts up to three or four. I couldn't get the back door open this morning and instead of steps leading from my porch to the yard, I had a snow-slide. I haven't found my car yet, though I'm reasonably certain it's still out there. My poor dog, who is quite large (picture a boxer or golden retriever), was in it up to his neck and hopping about like a big, spastic rabbit. Other than the occasional bout of shoveling (which I had to do in order for said dog to be able to go out to pee), I have remained in my pajamas, on the sofa, watching the snow fall from my cozy den. It's supposed to stop tonight and then the plowing and shoveling (for real) will begin tomorrow.

I am not looking forward to it.

At all.

But it's been nice, these past two days, to just lie about, doing very little, and not feeling even remotely guilty about it.

For the people who visit my blog from places around the world which don't see snow with any sort of accumulation or regularity, here are a couple of pictures...

This was the view from the den, about 30 minutes after it started. It stuck to the roads immediately. My kittens were pretty enamored of the snow. That's Rue watching intently.

This is the view from my front window this morning. That's the mailbox, to the left of my driveway. What driveway, you might ask. I'm wondering myself. I'm pretty sure it was there yesterday.

This is looking out the back porch door to my deck. That window? My bedroom. I wondered why it was so dark this morning. Also, the door? Yeah. Not opening until spring.

That's my little Pip(squeak). He was completely fascinated by the falling snow. He sat there and watched for hours. And you see the shrub outside the window (see the first picture for a clear view)? Well, the snow has done it in completely. It gave way from all the weight (much like my knees). Poor thing.

Here's Ryan, Sunny, and Pip, watching the snow this morning.

And this one wasn't taken today but it's one of my favorite ever snow pictures. It's Ryan when she was three. Living in North Carolina at the time, we saw little snow, so she had a ball during this trip to New Jersey, to see my aunt and her godfather (and for a side-trip into NYC to see Beauty and the Beast on Broadway).

If you got snow, I hope you stayed safe and warm. And if you didn't, feel free to come help me shovel!

Friday, January 22, 2016

She Believed

When I got home yesterday, there was a package waiting for me inside my back porch. I hadn't ordered anything, so I wondered what it could be. It turned out to be a bracelet... a thin black leather band attached to a slender silver bar, engraved with the words she believed she could, so she did.

She believed she could, so she did.

The bracelet turned out to be a gift from the Red-haired Bestie, who always, always believes I can, even when I don't believe myself.

Everyone needs a friend (or 10) like that - a friend who stands behind you shouting, "You can do this," especially when you don't believe it yourself.

I'm one of the lucky ones. I have several friends, in addition to the Red-haired Bestie, who do that - who believe in me, and for me, even when (especially when) I'm struggling.

There have been lots of things in my life I haven't been sure I could do. There have been lots of things I haven't been able to do. There are lots of things I don't know that I'll be able to do.

But here's what I do know:

When you have people who love you, people who stand behind you, people who walk alongside you, people who believe in you...

You owe it to those people - and to yourself - to believe you can. 

And to do the things.

Thursday, January 21, 2016

We're All In the Same Boat...

Cancer is a great leveler, I've discovered.

I mean, I knew it, I guess. We all know it, don't we? We know that cancer doesn't discriminate. It attacks young and old, black and white, Republican and Democrat, rich and poor, Christian and Atheist.

Cancer doesn't give a shit.

But you know who does give a shit?

The people cancer affects... the people whose cells it infects... the people it hits like a ton of bricks, knocking them off their feet, winded and stunned, daring them to get up and fight.

And the people who love those people.

And the people who help all of those people get through it.

Yesterday I was at the cancer center, waiting for them to call me for my appointment. A tall, elegantly dressed woman walked in. She was wearing an expensive cashmere coat and beautiful powder blue leather gloves, and she carried a bag that I'm pretty sure cost more than my first car. She was, as my friend Mel would say, a fancy lady. And I could tell right away she was a newbie. She had that shell-shocked look of one who doesn't quite believe she has to be there and who doesn't yet know the protocol.

I wore that look for quite a while.

And she was all alone. I know many people have trouble with that, with even the idea of someone being alone in the cancer center, but I also know that I went to (and wanted to go to... and still go to) most of my appointments by myself.

Some things are hard to share, man.

After she checked in and got her bracelet, she sat down across from me in the waiting area. I smiled at her and she nodded. Her expression made me swallow hard and blink back tears. It was so... pained.

I remembered my first few visits to the cancer center. I couldn't even make eye contact with anyone. I couldn't speak. I fought back tears from the moment I walked through the door until the moment I left.

I hated it.

I still hate it.

But it's gotten easier.

You can get used to just about anything, can't you?

Anyway, she sat there, still, waiting, looking straight ahead, tears welling.

My heart hurt for her. Part of me wanted to offer up some words or a gesture of encouragement, but I didn't. I didn't move. I didn't say or do anything. I'm not sure why. Maybe because I would have been uncomfortable had a stranger talked to me during my first few visits... I would have burst into tears and I would have hated that.

That's what I told myself anyway.

Then, the woman sitting to my left got up. She was about the same age as the new lady - older than me by about a decade, I'd say. She was bald under her knitted cap (not a strange sight in that environment, certainly) and she stooped when she shuffled across the floor. She was wearing an old sweatshirt, tattered at the cuffs, stained sweatpants, and ratty sneakers, and when she smiled at me, I could see gaps where teeth had once been.

She was not a fancy lady.

But she sat right down next to the lady with the cashmere coat and the expensive bag, she took her beautifully manicured right hand into both of her own gnarled, work-worn ones, and she said softly (but with great surety), "It's OK, honey. You ain't alone here."

And the fancy lady looked at her for a long moment, and then, as tears streamed down her face, she hugged that not-fancy lady hard.

And I had to clear my throat and look away.

Those ladies taught me a couple of lessons yesterday.

I learned that sometimes it's not enough to give a shit. 

I learned that sometimes you have to show it. 

And I learned that cancer really and truly is a great leveler.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Loop De Loop

Isn't it funny how, when you think about your life and how you expect it to go, it pretty much follows a straight line... but in reality, it has more twists and turns than...


And you think you're going to breeze through it all, happy and fulfilled, experiencing only minor set-backs, spreading laughter and light, zit-free and skinny, wearing your big girl pants and your brightest smile... but in reality, you look (and feel) more like... 


Life is hard, yo. 

But as they say... 

It's better than the alternative.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Board Called: "Other Stuff I Like"

Do you have a Pinterest account? Do you love it? I lurve Pinterest. I really do. I'm a very visual person and I find that little piece of Heaven-on-the-Internet, well, a little piece of Heaven. On the Internet. I love being able to go to one place and see hundreds (OK, thousands) of pictures of things I like, things I find beautiful, things that inspire me, things that make me laugh, things that are useful. I also love being able to look at my kid's Pinterest boards, to see what she finds beautiful, inspirational, funny, useful. It's a glimpse into her head that always leaves me feeling happy and proud of the person she is and of the way she views the world.

I have just over 40 boards. They cover every topic that interests me, from travel, to decorating, to books, to art, to pretty boys (what? I'm 50, I'm not dead). My biggest board is House Plans. When I was a kid, I wanted to be an architect. Then I found out math was involved and I gave up on that idea fast. But I'm fascinated by floor plans, especially those of mid-century and older houses. I always (always) change them, though; I add rooms, take down walls, move doorways, etc. It's my go-to activity when I'm bored or worried. And you want to know something weird? One of my favorite house styles is the bungalow and one of my favorite building eras is the 1920's. Well, just over a year ago, I moved into a 1928 bungalow, the (nearly identical) floor plan for which I had pinned many, many times. I didn't even realize it, though, until I was looking over my board one day and saw the same basic house - my house - in several different plans. Cool sort of coinkeydink, no?

Anyway, though my boards cover every possible topic, I still found pictures of things on Pinterest that didn't really fit into any of my major categories. So I started a board called "Other Stuff I Like." I throw all kinds of stuff into it - stuff that doesn't really belong anywhere else in my account. Today, I decided to go through that board and pick 10 random items to share here. I went to the very first pin, then scrolled with my eyes closed. The first image I saw when I opened my eyes was the one I chose. 

Here they are... 

This is the first image I pinned to the Other Stuff board. It makes me happy - from the composition of the picture, to sight of such exuberance, to the puddle-jump itself. Happy!

I don't really know what this is... a geode or rock, maybe? I just think it's really beautiful.

Camping. One of my favorite activities. This picture actually looks like a place I've camped.

This series of pictures made me laugh. They are the cutest couple and you don't often see such spontaneity in old photos. Happy!

When Ryan was very small, she was coloring and she noticed that the 'flesh' crayon didn't look much like her flesh. She asked me why there was only one called 'flesh' where there were lots of different kinds of skin. I had no good answer. So this picture made me happy.

Oh my word, I love this little guy. I have a thing for sheep and for little felted animals. He makes me smile. He's actually sold on Etsy, in a shop called BinneBear, which you can find right here, if you're so inclined to look (I was inclined to look... and I wanted All. The. Critters.).

I love this photo for its simplicity, for the color of the eggs (my favorite), and for the way it represents home. It's just lovely.

Riddikulus is the spell from Harry Potter, used to transform fears into something humorous. It's a spell I often wish I could perform. Plus, that's where I have my tattoo, though mine says something different. Maybe this will be my second tattoo... hmmm...

I think I pinned this because I simply liked this picture - the blue sky, the white clouds, the fresh, clean laundry. It's simple and sweet and it makes me smile.

When I pinned this, I thought it was simply a very cool, painted rock. I have to say that upon closer inspection, I find it a tad creepy. However, I keep a square glass vase on my desk, full of rocks from Maine and they look just like these (minus the moon-faced one).

There are over 500 more pictures of other stuff I like on that board. I'm sure I'll share some others on another gloomy, grey Sunday.

So, what would be on your "Other Stuff I Like" board?

Saturday, January 16, 2016


I am a lover of words.

It's why I use so many of them.


But really, I am. And I love, love, love it when they are strung together to make beautiful sentences - descriptions and rhymes, thoughts and ideas articulated in lyrical prose, straightforward, kick-me-in-the-gut, perfect representations of what I feel, want, need.

I seek out those words, all strung together in those ways, and I hoard them. I tuck them away for when I need them - when my heart and head are aching or when I'm searching for a way to pull together all the ragged, jagged pieces of me that need stitching up into something whole and solid.

But today?

Well, today I'm going to share some of my favorite words, all strung together in those beautiful ways, with you! And I hope you enjoy them as much as I do...



And last, one I sent to a friend today... 

These are but a sampling... there are so many more but there is neither time nor space to include them all. 

What words do you love, my peeps?

Friday, January 15, 2016

I Love You... er... Me

The other day, a friend asked me why it's so hard for us to love ourselves. She had just posted gorgeous family photos and commented that she didn't look good in them. I thought she looked beautiful - so happy and simply in love with her boys. She zeroed in on a physical feature she is bothered by - one I hadn't even noticed. I understood, though. When I see a photo of myself, I hone in on the things about myself I don't like. They bother me. A lot. So much so that I avoid the camera at all costs.

I hate that I feel that way.

So does she.

Hence the question...

Why is it so hard for us to just love ourselves?

My initial response was, I dunno. But I think I do know. 

We have forgotten how. 

I think we're all born with the ability. It's inherent. I think when we're very small, if we're well-loved and encouraged and praised, we do love ourselves. The mirror means little because we see ourselves in the eyes and faces and hearts of those who love us. 

But then we get older. And we're no longer constantly surrounded by unconditional love. We mingle with people who criticize and point out our flaws. We meet those who work hard to build themselves up by tearing others down. We are bombarded by images and ideas of societal ideals - unattainable ideals. We start to see ourselves through the eyes of the world. And it starts early.

And the loving gets harder.  

And sometimes? 

We forget entirely how to do it.

I have often been told that I'm my own worst enemy. I know it's true. It's only been recently that I've been able to receive a compliment with a simple thank you, rather than a thank you, but you must be blind/crazy/out of your mind/etc. And though I am learning to accept compliments, I haven't yet learned how to believe them. Well, many of them, anyway. 

Now, don't get me wrong (or think I need committing. Yet). I don't hate myself. I don't wish I wasn't here. I don't think the world would be better off without me. I'm good at some things and I know it. I can name them. I feel good about them. But one thing I'm definitely not good at is loving myself - accepting myself, unconditionally -  

for who I am 
and what I am 
and what I'm not 
and what I look like 
and for all my faults 
and flaws 
and failures.

I have forgotten how to love myself

And no one ever taught me - reminded me - how to do it, I think, because they had forgotten how themselves. The example wasn't set for me. And I am so bloody terrified that my own child is well on her way to forgetting, and that I'm not teaching her - reminding her - or setting the example for her.

But I want to know how - to remember how - to do it. I want it desperately. I want the serenity and the peace that comes with knowing and trusting and accepting and loving yourself. 

So, I'm setting out on a quest... 

The Quest of Learning to Love Myself
(subtitled: The Quest of Learning to Accept Myself, Unconditionally, For Who I Am and What I Am and What I'm Not and What I Look Like and For All My Faults and Flaws and Failures)

I think I've been taking baby steps toward it for a while. And I think I'm making progress. But it's very slow. At the rate I'm going, I should figure out how to love myself by the time I die... if I die at 102. And call me crazy, but I don't think I should have to wait so long. 

So I'm going to actively work on this. I have a hazy sort of plan in mind... well, OK, it's not so much a plan as it is pretty much no idea. But I know what I want... and that's half the battle, right?

Off I go, then. 

If you need me, I'll be... questing

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

But It's So Comfy Here...

I recently read an article about figuring out what you want in life and then, of course, getting it. The 'getting it' part was the biggest part of the article. And it was interesting in that the author didn't offer up the usual platitudes like, you've just got to want it enough.

I hate that one.

I mean, I want a million dollars. I want it a lot. A lot. I want it enough for a boatload of people.

But I still don't have a million dollars.

Or a boyfriend.

Wait. What?

Who was talking about boyfriends? Not me!

Anyway, pffftttt on wanting it enough.

No, this author asked the reader a simple question - one that threw me a bit.

"What are you willing to suffer for?"

Suffer? What am I willing to suffer for?

My first reaction was why?! Why do I have to suffer for anything I want? It's such a rotten word, isn't it? And awful in reality. I suffered my way through chemo. I suffered with a broken arm. I suffered through grief and loss and, and, and... 

Suffering is miserable! It's awful! I don't want to suffer! 

Damn it. 

But then I thought about it a little more. I thought about what I say I want in my life. Everything - and I mean everything I want - will require work. Effort. Sacrifice. 


For example, if I want to be in better shape, I have to work hard. I have to exercise. I have to spend a lot of time prepping healthy meals (and I actually have to eat them, too, instead of letting all the vegetables liquify in the crisper [which is really a misnomer ((when referring to my fridge, anyway)), as liquid is pretty much the opposite of crisp. Am I right?]). 

Anyhoo, will all this getting-in-shape stuff actually be painful? Not really (except when the trainer at the gym is feeling especially sadistic). But it takes a lot of effort (versus the little effort it takes to stuff my face full of Reese's Cups). It takes a lot of work (whereas, the McDonald's drive-thru takes none). It takes a lot of time (time I could spend sacked out on the couch watching episodes of Vampire Diaries) (Shut up. I take enough flack from my kid for watching it. Two words for you - Ian Somerhalder. That is all). 

Also, if I want to actually write something worthy of publication (like I say I do), I have to actually, you know, write, even when I don't feel like writing. Even when I feel like I have nothing to say. Even when I feel like everything I have to say is dull and stupid and makes no sense. And I have to cut back on Vampire Diaries (sigh) and spend less time on Facebook.

I have to suffer.

And if I actually want to find, develop, and maintain a relationship, with, you know, a guy (who is not my dog), then I have to get out there, meet people, expend some effort, risk (and most likely deal with) rejection. 

I have to suffer.

The suffering the author referred to isn't necessarily the sort that chemo or a broken bone brings on. It's the sort that requires us to step out of our comfortable lives and habits and into something unfamiliar, something difficult. It's about being uncomfortable

And that's hard.

So, I asked myself, "Self? What are you willing to suffer for?"

And I got very quiet.

And you know that doesn't happen very often.

My failure to respond quickly bothered me. 

A lot. 

It's still bothering me. 

Sure, I go through spurts of 'suffering.' And when whatever thing I'm suffering for is new and cool, the discomfort isn't so bad. I breeze through it. But a few weeks or months in? When you'd think I'd have formed new habits? When you'd think it'd be getting easier? That's when the real suffering - the real discomfort - starts. And I get tired and resentful and it all gets difficult.

And I give up. I retreat back to my comfort zone.

Nearly every time.

I don't have staying power. 

(I blame it on my parents, for letting me quit things when I was a kid. I wasn't willing to suffer then, either. It's why I never let my kid quit anything.)

So, I'm asking myself again, right now, "Self? What are you willing to suffer for? Like, long-term, don't-give-up, work-all-the-way-through-the-discomfort suffering?" 




Yeah. The cat has, apparently, got my tongue.

I'll let you know when he gives it back... 

So, what are you willing to suffer for? 

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Do the Dip!

About a year-and-a-half ago, I started a job with a wonderful organization here in Pigsknuckle, called VAIL, or Valley Associates for Independent Living. VAIL is a Center for Independent Living (CIL), serving 5 counties and cities in Virginia. Until I applied for the job, I'd never heard of them. The organization is small - only 15 employees - but its impact is large.

What we do is quite simple... on the surface:

Promoting self-direction among people with disabilities and removing barriers to independence in the community

Basically, we work hard to keep people with disabilities at home and out of care facilities. We believe that most people want to be at home and that their quality of life, when they're in familiar surroundings, with their loved ones, is better. Simple. But what's involved in making that happen?

Not so simple.

Our staff is the most dedicated to their mission than any I have ever seen. No one is in it for the money, that's for certain. Every single person cares deeply for the people they serve, and every single person works so hard to ensure that every single one of those people receives the care and services they deserve.

Additionally, it's an incredibly positive place. I have never, in my entire working life, encountered a work environment like this one. There is no drama. There is no conflict (or if there is, it's kept quiet, between the people who have the issue, and it is never, ever spread around the office). Everyone genuinely likes one another. Everyone appreciates their coworkers' talents and skills and service.

It's a happy place to work.

And that? For me? Is so very important, especially given the fact that in recent years, I have worked at a couple of very, very not-happy places.

My job at VAIL is extremely varied. We're as small non-profit, so everyone wears several hats, and our director works hard to make sure everyone gets to do work they find interesting, that appeals to them on several important levels, and that utilizes their skills and talents. I am allowed to be creative and to work directly with people, two things I need in my work. I did a blog post the other day about one of things I get to do... you can read it right here, if you'd like.

VAIL is exactly the place I need to be right now, at this point in my life, and I am so very grateful that I am allowed to be there, to do what I do, to work with and for the people I do.

And that brings us here, to the reason for this post...

Non-profits exist on various funding streams, not the smallest of which is fundraisers and donations from corporations and private individuals. VAIL is no different. We do a number of different types of fundraisers - bingo nights, a cornhole tournament, benefit concerts, etc. Last year, we did our first Arctic Dip - a 'polar plunge' fundraiser. We jumped into a frozen lake (well, after 5 inches of ice was chainsawed off the top). In February. It was a new idea for us and we weren't sure how it was going to go... but it went swimmingly!


It really did! It was fun. It was cold, yes, but it was more fun than cold. I swear! We raised a nice chunk of money (and I was the high scorer!). No one had a heart attack or suffered hypothermia. And I got to check something off my Bucket List!

And we're doing it again this year. I'm really looking forward to it. I swear! I'm hoping to have more friends join me this year than last (only 2 brave souls, plus my daughter and one of her friends, went into the drink with me). And I hope to raise $2,000 for the cause.

If you're able to assist, I hope you will (no donation is too small or too large and every single penny helps)! If not, no worries at all. Just wish us well and pass on the info if you're inclined. You can go directly to my personal donation page if you click right here. Our Dip website is and our full VAIL site is, if you're interested in reading more about us.

Thank you, my bloggy peeps, for even considering donating. It's appreciated more than you know!!

Thursday, January 7, 2016

Good Day, Sir. I Said, Good Day!

I'm reading a book at the moment that references happiness quite often - and how real happiness is found, not in the big events in our lives (well, not just in those events), but in the ordinary moments of ordinary days, where we smile, laugh, feel good, see beauty.

I believe this is true. With my whole heart.

Over the years, I've done lots of posts about my favorite things - the things that make me happy. Here's one of them, right here, but they're all over December 2013 and earlier in the blog (though I'm too tired right now to go looking for them). Those posts make me happy.

Lots of things make me happy.

And while this is most certainly true, sometimes, in the day-to-day busy-ness (and laziness), I forget to notice those things.

So, today? Well, today I decided to really pay attention. I decided to write down every little thing that made me smile, laugh, or just feel good. I started first thing and just finished. I probably missed a couple and I expect there will be more things to add to the list before I go to bed.

But here they are:
  • The way my favorite pen flows and how my handwriting looks when I use it
  • The feeling of satisfaction I get when I pay a bill
  • The warm spray of water from the shower, especially on a cold morning
  • An empty sink and kitchen counters clear from any clutter
  • Little things that remind me of my dad and of things he used to say (like "Ooh, I fancy a piece and jam")
  • Being able to sit for a few quiet minutes in the morning and not rush
  • The traffic noises outside my house; I thought I might hate living on a busy street but the noise is oddly comforting
  • Sweet soft Irish butter and raspberry jam on fresh artisan bread
  • Figuring out that I can use the same tea bag for the tea I have first thing in the morning AND the tea I take to work (why that took me so long, I'll never know)
  • That first sip of hot tea in the morning... and the first sip of cold tea in the afternoon
  • The fact that my aluminum mug keeps my tea SO hot for SO long!
  • (Clearly, I love tea)
  • Getting head butts from Rue and that sweet growl-y sound Pip makes when he runs at me for cuddles
  • How soft Pip is
  • The way Sunny's expression completely changes when he moves only his eyebrows
  • (And the things listed above were all before 7am!)
  • Ellen "DeGenerous"
  • Seeing cool new flags/locations in my blog feed (Doha, Ad Dawhah [Qatar] today)
  • Seeing favorite old locations in my feed (even if I don't know who the readers are - Mountain View, CA, thank you for visiting! xo)
  • Being able to help make someone else's day just a little bit easier by providing answers to difficult questions
  • Knocking things off a full to-do list
  • Looking at the pictures of my beautiful daughter I keep on my desk
  • Being able to joke with coworkers who completely get my sense of humor (thankfully!)
  • Writing in a brand new, beautiful planner
  • Having a laugh with kid in the McDonald's drive-thru, at his colossal bungling of my order
  • That first sweet taste of chocolate
  • Reading a poem, by an author I've never heard of, that resonates deeply within me and brings a sense of Yes! This!
  • Filling my whole gas tank up for $20! Squeee!
  • Being greeted at the door by a smiley dog and two ready-for-dinner kittens
  • Finding a new recipe that looks easy, delicious, AND healthy
  • Finding two of my favorite veggies in the freezer (ones Ryan doesn't like) on a night when she's not going to be home for dinner
  • While cleaning the litter box, before I've even put the top back on, having Pip get in, squat to pee, and look up me as if to say, "What?" (Little shit)
  • A chubby, purring kitten on my chest, his face buried in my neck
  • Blog writin'
And last, but certainly not least:
  • Realizing just how many moments in my ordinary day were ordinarily-extraordinary ones - ones that caused me to smile, laugh, or just plain feel good!
Was my day perfect? Nope. (Is there such a thing?) Would I even classify it as a great day? Nope. Nothing out of the ordinary happened. But looking at it this way? Listing all the good moments? 

I have to say, it was a good day, man. It was a really good day!

You try it! Write 'em down! I promise you won't be disappointed... and you might be kind of surprised... 

Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Lucky, Lucky

In the independent living class I get to teach at work (to adults with intellectual disabilities), we cover lots of things, like shopping and cooking, getting around in the community, safety, and, of course, reading, writing, and math.

Yes, I do, too, teach math.

Shut up.

In order to consistently reach and teach five individuals with varying intellectual impairments ranging from mild to pretty profound, lesson planning has to be creative. I look for ways to challenge them without making things too hard; I try to keep things fun; I make sure I can keep them active and engaged (and that's the hardest part - the engagement).

To those ends, I invented a game - Word Jenga.

I'm guessing most people have played Jenga before... it's that wooden puzzle game, where you pull out a block from a stacked tower and put it back on top, making the tower taller and less steady with each turn. The object is, of course, not to let the tower fall.

Yeah. That whole keep it from falling part is fun and sometimes quite difficult for our group. And to add to the game and make it relative to our objective, I wrote words on each block, so when a player pulls the block out, he/she has to read the words and then put them in a sentence (or two or three sentences if putting all the words into one proves just too hard).

This is quite challenging.

It often requires help.

A significant amount of help in some cases.

One of my players can read well, but forming sentences with random words requires his brain to make connections it's simply not capable of making.


During our game yesterday, he pulled a block inscribed with several words, one of which was LOVE. He thought for a while and though I expected to have to coach him into forming a coherent sentence, he stood up, grinned from ear to ear, and declared loudly and proudly:

"I LOVE you, Diane!"


My day?


Totally made.

And then? A little later? Another player asked me out on a date.

For reals.

He wears a coat in the summer, he's shorter than I am, he smells of cigarettes, and he spits when he talks.

But he has a merry little twinkle in his smiley eyes the likes of which you have probably never seen.

And he said I was pretty.

Of course, he's also asked out every other woman in the office.

But that's neither here nor there.

He said I was pretty.


That's my job.

Everyone should be so lucky!

Monday, January 4, 2016

One Step Forward, Three Steps Back...

Several years ago, while on a long-weekend-mini-vacation with my friend Cari in... Vermont, I think... I read the following words, which were stenciled on the wall of a spa where we'd booked massages.

Close your eyes and you will see clearly
Cease to listen and you will hear truth
Be silent and your heart will sing
Seek no contact and you will find union
Be still and you move on the tide of the spirit
Be gentle and you will need no strength
Be patient and you will achieve all things
Be humble and you will remain entire

I didn't have any paper with me, so I wrote them down on the inside cover of a small photo album I kept in my purse. Last night, when cleaning out an old purse I wanted to use again, I unearthed the album... and the poem (?). Is it a poem? The verse? 

The words.

Back then, when I scribbled in that little photo album, I was still married (and we were on the rocks). Ryan was little. I was still grieving for my dad. I was lost. I felt so alone. I didn't even recognize myself when I looked in the mirror.

I was holding it together... but barely.

And those words? They spoke to me. They called me to do what I hadn't been able to do for or with myself - be still and gentle and patient. I wasn't seeing clearly or hearing truth or finding union... and I so wanted to.

I so wanted to.

But after the trip, when I was back at home and buried under the responsibilities of being a wife and a mom and an employee, I forgot the words. And Life went on, as Life does. My marriage ended, my child grew into a young adult, the ache of missing my father lessened. A million things - both good and bad - happened to me, around me, because of me, in spite of me. 

And I became who I am right now. Right this minute.

Scarred. Flawed. Imperfect. Hurt. Damaged. Scared. Hopeful. Resilient. Strong. Brave.


My life is far from perfect at the moment. Far. Perfect is in a galaxy far, far away (I saw Star Wars yesterday. Good stuff, man. Good stuff). But it's good. I have so very much to be grateful for. 

And I'm learning. 

I'm learning to be still and silent and gentle and patient. I'm learning to see clearly, to hear truth, to find union.  

I'm learning that it's a slow process (dreadfully slow) and all too often I wind up taking one step forward, then three steps back... 

But I'm so much farther forward, in so many ways, than I was the first time I read those words. 

And sometimes? 

Well, sometimes I think it's good to look behind to see just how far you've come.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Goal Digger

Happy New Year, peeps! Hope your celebrations were as rowdy or quiet as you hoped they'd be. I rang in the new year with three fuzzies all snuggled near, Wire in the Blood on Hulu, and a mug of tea at my elbow. Not a bad evening, all told!

So, today begins a whole new year. Or, you know, it's just Friday. I've seen it both ways, with excitement and meh, whatevs, and everything in between. This year I'm leaning more toward seeing today as a re-start... a time to take a look at what's working in my life and what's not... a time to regroup and set some goals.

I used to set resolutions every January 1. And I'd break them all by January 5. You know the story... I'd bet most people do it that way. But then I started setting goals instead. It might just be in my head, but I see them as very different animals. Resolutions? I break and give up. Done. Goals? I work toward, I mess up, I get back on board. Sometimes I reach them. Sometimes I don't (for the record, I'd like to reach more of them than I have been).

It works for me. Mostly.

When I first started blogging, I met loads of really cool people. One was 'Hebba,' the author of Jeepgirl17. I loved her blog and the way she lived her life. She was (and probably still is, though she doesn't blog much anymore) a Master Goal Setter. And she did this cool thing where she would list her monthly goals on her blog and then, at the start of the next month, she'd let us all know if she succeeded or failed in reaching them. I thought it was kind of brave, really, allowing all of Blogland to see her progress (or lack thereof) in areas of life that were important to her.

I don't know if it will work for me.

But I'm all about trying new things.

OK, I just lied. I'm not really all about trying new things. In fact, I tend to do the same old thing, over and over, and then wonder why it never works. But I'm getting tired of that.

Ryan and I had a conversation yesterday about getting old. She said she didn't want to live once her body started failing. She didn't want to get "too old." I said that I don't know if I'll ever feel "too old." I feel much like I felt 20 or 30 years ago (well, inside, I do. Heaven knows my knees don't feel that way). I told her that I feel as though I'm just getting started now; I feel as though my life has been on hold for a long, long time - since I met her dad, really. That's my own doing or perception, certainly. I'm not blaming anyone else. But the fact is, on hold or not, my life didn't stand still. I'm 50 and I'm certainly not getting younger, so now I feel the need to move... to DO.

For much of my life, I have been guilty of not living mindfully... of just coasting along and letting things happen. I want to change that. I know a few people who truly live with intention... who accomplish so much and do so much of what they love, and I find myself feeling jealous of them. I want to do more of what I love. I want to live more mindfully. I want to live with more intention.

Interestingly, as I was writing this post, Ryan came in with a gift for me from her friend Piper, who went on vacation with us this summer. In the package was a card she had written out for me. It read:


So, I close my eyes to 
old ends
and open my heart to
new beginnings  

- Nick Frederickson

What a nifty little bit of synchronicity, eh?

So, with the intention of living with more intention, I sat down and asked myself what is really important to me? What are my priorities? What do I want and need to accomplish in order to live my best life? Then I wrote out a list of goals for the year - goals that, if I reach them (or maybe even if I just try to reach them), will get me closer to that place - to my best life.

There are many goals on my list. They are both big and small. Some will be easy and some will be really difficult; some might be impossible (but I won't know until I try). They affect all areas of my life - health, work, relationships, home, creative, financial. They are specific and measurable, and I've broken them down into steps - things I can do daily/weekly/monthly to, hopefully, reach them. And while I'm not going to list out all my goals for the year here, I think I shall take a page from Hebba's book... er, blog... and list my monthly goals. And when the month is up, I'll note whether I succeeded or failed. 

Here are my January Goals:

1. Journal daily - I am happier and healthier when I journal and list out things I'm grateful for. I get caught up in being busy, or in being lazy, though, and I don't always do it with the frequency I should.

2. Do a new 'Vision Board' - I'm a visual person and being able to see tangible examples of the things I want to bring into my life is a wonderful way to keep me on track. Plus, I love to collage!

3. Go on two 'Artist's Dates' - Artist's dates are from The Artist's Way, by Julia Cameron. They are a way to stimulate creativity and since I have some long-term writing/creative goals, this is necessary.

4. Perform two 'Mindful Acts of Kindness/Connection/Giving' - I have been blessed so often, by so many kind, generous people, in so many ways I can never repay. I believe in doing random acts of kindness and in paying forward but I just don't do it enough. Making this a goal will keep me in the mindset of giving, rather than receiving.

5. Write three blog posts per week - blogging makes me happy and it keeps me writing.

6. Read three of the books on my nightstand - it's ridiculous how many books I haven't read, especially given how much I love to read. The pile just keeps getting bigger. And I need to replace my recent Netflix addiction, which is not healthy at all.

7. Re-start Whole 30 - I fell of the 'eat well, feel well' wagon and I really want and need to get back on it, for so many reasons.

8. Work out four times per week - I was doing really well and then, again, fell off the wagon. I want to get back to the gym and back into the pool (once my arm is completely healed).

9. Re-start 'Declutter 365' - a few years ago, I did a decluttering project that worked really well for me. I got rid of/recycled/donated (at least) one thing every single day. While on the surface our house appears uncluttered, my closet, drawers, and the basement are full of things I don't want or need. Getting into the daily habit of releasing those things is really cathartic (and will make my next move much easier).

10. Do tax return as soon as W2 is available - I don't think I need to explain this one.

11. Start new savings plan - I am terrible at this; I need to learn to 'pay myself' first and look at my spending much more mindfully.

12. Re-do my files and calendar (work).

13. Complete resume writing video scripts (work).

14. Reach $1000 of my Arctic Dip fundraising goal (work).

And there you have it. Ambitious, perhaps, but other than a few projects, most of them are simply habits I once had and want to get back into... and lot of them will be fun, so I should have no trouble.



We'll see, on February 1...

How about you? Do you have goals for 2016? Or January? Or tomorrow? Do tell.