silver lining…

As a guest columnist for our local newspaper, my writing is featured under the heading…Sprinkled with Humor.

Please enjoy my latest submission…

Silver Lining

For most of us, the White House is so far removed physically that it doesn’t have much relevance in our daily lives. That’s not to say its decisions have no effect. Quite the contrary, the president’s personality and political persuasion form the backdrop against which our lives unfold. It’s no different than what we encounter in our homes or places of employment. Management’s style matters.

While there are those who have adapted easily to this administration’s flailing attempts to govern, others of us resort to relief of some kind.

Alec Baldwin’s comedic portrayal of the president is the painkiller many ingest to cope with the collective migraine enveloping our country. Others might be sipping more heavily at the numerous wine-tasting venues proliferating from coast to coast. Even churchgoing teetotalers might’ve finally succumbed. A bit of Eucharistic wine on Sunday, and they’re sufficiently revived. Hallelujah!

If you’re like me, you’re talking to yourself more. The TV’s on, but like your significant other, it’s immune to your blubbering. The point being…the election’s been decided. Nonetheless, you point out, it’s not right that Russia had a hand in it. It’s just not right!

For this particular malady, I turn to nightly prayer. I ask God to grant the president a “get out of jail” card NOW, so he can get back to doing what he knows best…playing real life Monopoly with family and friends.

I also ask God to help the Syrian refugees looking to the world-wide community, including America, for deliverance from an evil regime. I likewise pray for immigrants here at home who find themselves caught up in a net flung far and wide by the Justice Department, with seemingly little discretion as to who is targeted, apprehended and ultimately deported.

One thing for which I should ask God’s pardon, but somehow fail to do when asking forgiveness for my transgressions is using unladylike language during political talk shows on TV. I’m sure he knows I’m only joking, and is chuckling right along with my husband.

Countering the perceived injustices emanating from this administration’s policies, protesters act like a soothing balm upon my frayed nerves. Knowing that Americans remain ever vigilant in their fight to uphold our democratic principles is indeed the “silver lining.”

The rise of “fake news” as spread on social media is the latest incarnation of evil. Truth, as supported by facts, continues to be our most formidable weapon; that and our steadfast belief in the brotherhood of mankind, irrespective of religion, ethnicity, culture, education, gender, wealth and social standing.

Our children and grandchildren, as well as generations still to come, depend upon the choices we make today. We do not have the luxury of an independent decision. We are a global community, and as such must decide together how best to live as one people on a planet whose resources grow more limited with each passing day.    

Educating ourselves, rather than just going along to get along is something each of us can do…starting today.    

………hugmamma.

 

 

 

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hope and grit…

I’ve been very fortunate to serve as a guest columnist to a local, community newspaper from time to time. It’s allowed me to share my opinions on issues near and dear, here at home and abroad. The following was my latest submission for consideration by the editor.

HOPE and GRIT

Regardless of which side we were on during the presidential election, we all have Hope in common. Clinton’s campaign hoped love would trump hate; and Trump supporters are hoping the president-elect returns them to a time when America was great for them.

It’s more difficult for some than others to get past the divisiveness of the campaign, but do so we must for the good of the country. How best to do that is the question. Perhaps it would help if we began by focusing upon what remains familiar for all of us.

Transitioning from one presidency to the next is done peacefully, assuring that we can go on about our business the day after election. Freedom of speech is still protected by the Constitution. Individually and collectively, we can continue to voice our differing opinions. Regardless of our politics, we all believe in the sanctity of life. War abroad and at home is never a given. Above all, we continue to hold strong to our abiding belief in an America where dreams can still come true for all those who come after.

Personally, in our own lives, we can look to what remains familiar and comforting…our loved ones and our communities.

During the holidays we focus attention upon the happiness of others, whether they are from within our tight-knit circle of family and friends or strangers in need of our help. Our hearts and minds are opened to putting their needs before our own. We are all part of a unified spirit of goodness as we rush around like Santa’s elves.

In doing for others, however, we often overlook our own spiritual and physical well-being. The holidays always compound our oversight, and for some folks this season is especially exasperating because they remain traumatized by the recent election. In speaking with a couple of mental health professionals last week, it may be that those still reeling in the aftermath of the political upheaval are suffering signs of PTSD. War, real or imagined, can have the same effect upon a person’s psyche. Moving beyond a traumatic event takes effort, sometimes superhuman effort. “Grit” was a word referenced in my discussion with one of the experts.

In her book, “Grit” The Power of Passion and Perseverance, Angela Duckworth signals grit as the ingredient necessary in a person’s character which drives him or her to succeed. Duckworth determined it as the single, common denominator as to why individuals succeeded whether she encountered them as a math teacher or psychologist. In fact, she credits grit, not talent, as the reason she was awarded a MacArthur Fellowship, also known as the “genius grant.”

I like to think of Americans as having grit. In our struggles to persevere as a democratic people in the face of national and global adversity, we have survived and will continue to do so no matter what.

Armed with hope and grit, we remain “one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.”

…wishing you and yours…a holiday season filled with peace and joy.

………hugmamma.1127

 

…drive by information…

Contributing to America’s recent political Armageddon is the Internet, specifically Facebook and Twitter.

Americans, particularly Millennials, get much, if not all, of their information from these sources. Most have probably not picked up a book, magazine, or newspaper to read the hard facts behind the headlines.

Internet users accept whatever their friends, or strangers, promote as the truth. And this “truth” gets passed around. One example is the fabricated story that circulated about the Pope’s endorsement of Trump. Need I even say that this was, of course,  false?

Google and Wikipedia are where Americans go to fact check. What we forget is that their information is gathered by human beings like us…folks who are fallible and imperfect. What is offered might be accurate, but something just as accurate might be selectively or accidentally omitted.

Technology has made us lazy; just as fast food has made us obese. Neither condition is good for our well-being. Veggies and fruit guarantee good health. Reading a variety of books, periodicals and newspapers guarantee informed decisions.

Improving one’s situation involves work on our part. It doesn’t take a lot of money. We can grow our own healthy food; we can borrow books from the library. Neither requires much money, if any.

Convenience has become synonymous with the American way of life. Think Costco, Amazon and FedEx. It’s a sad truth. Americans expend as little energy as possible to reap what we have not sown with our own two hands. Progress is a double-edged sword.

It’s up to us as individuals to pick and choose what’s best for us as human beings from the array of goodies laid out before us. We shouldn’t grab for every single thing that glitters like gold. Some will inadvertently turn out to be…

…fool’s gold.

………hugmamma.Image result for fool's gold images

 

 

 

on the edge…

Getting older has its pitfalls; some being more evident than others. I don’t think we notice them in ourselves until we see them reflected in others. With his erratic behavior growing ever more so each day, Donald Trump should be a warning to those of us on the brink of going there ourselves.

If we disconnect with the changing world around us and become more and more insulated inside our own “bubbles,” we run the risk of becoming like Trump. We begin to see the world as hostile; people unfamiliar to us as “the enemy.”

As he has demonstrated time and time again, Trump sees another conspiracy lurking just around the bend. Beginning with the “birther” movement for which he enthusiastically assumed the leadership role, he has progressed to his current vendetta against the media, global bankers, his sexual accusers and the Clintons  as being in cahoots to take him and the country down.

We all know folks like Trump. Folks in their 60’s, 70’s and older, who can’t see beyond yesterday when the world was familiar and they felt safe. Arguing for the past in bellicose tones empowers them, even as reality slips through their fingers.

Years ago while sitting at the table with good friends of ours, dining on a wonderful array of delicious, homemade, Italian dishes, I was keenly aware of the elderly dad sitting quietly unable to participate in the banter of lively conversation. Now and then someone would try to draw him in, with no success. That image remains  etched in my mind, and serves as a reminder against the debilitating effects of isolation in older age.

That’s how I see Donald Trump…a dynastic patriarch lost in a world of his own, unable to set aside his glorious past for a present in which he doesn’t figure as prominently. I’ve known men and women like Trump. Folks who continue to view themselves as THE authoritative voice on all things, unwilling to allow that others might know better. Many a time I’ve been on the other end of such dogmatic arguments.

I don’t want to be like Trump…seeing conspiracies where there are none. Getting older doesn’t mean we automatically slide into a world of paranoia. It happens when we allow negative thoughts to overwhelm our minds, wreaking havoc where there is none, and wallowing in our own isolation to the exclusion of all else.

A couple of nights ago, hubby and I enjoyed a date night. I was looking forward to seeing Adam Levine and Maroon Five perform ever since we received the tickets as a Christmas gift from our daughter. While I thoroughly enjoyed his music, I must admit to feeling older than I expected. As thousands stood for the duration, my arthritic back found comfort in remaining seated. And while everyone else sang along with Adam, I was at a total loss for the lyrics. I felt “left out.”

Early on, I asked a woman standing in front of us to please sit so we could see the performance. She eventually acquiesced, but at the end of the evening I realized rock concerts might no longer be for me. Rather than be a curmudgeon, I’d prefer to remember when nothing could keep me down; when I’d be up and moving before anyone else.

Letting go…happily and with dignity…is a nice feeling when getting older. Although I promised myself that if I could see Bruno Mars perform live, I vow to stand with the best of them…and learn all the words to his songs! My daughter promises to join me at a Mars concert, and I’ll bet one or two of my sisters-in-law would fly in from Hawaii to join us as well.

Being “young at heart” would serve us seniors well. Old age doesn’t have to deprive us of youthful ideas and feelings, or guarantee we’ll suffer the effects of dementia…or worse, Alzheimer’s. It’s never easy to teach an old dog new tricks, but it’s…

…not impossible.

………hugmamma.

 

 

 

forever…

…friends.

Laurie and I have known each other since our daughters were toddlers. She initiated the first ever playgroup in our small town of Redding, Connecticut. For that I will be forever grateful. It was my lifeline to the outside world since I’d decided to forgo a career in NYC to be a stay-at-home mom.

I’d worked since I was 16, so being in a twosome with a child for the next umpteen years was a thousand scary thoughts all rolled into one. I’d no idea how I’d make it from one day to the next without adult companionship.

Thank God for that ad in the local paper inviting new moms to gather with babes in arms. Laurie and I have been lifelong friends ever since.

There were a number of women with whom I’d been close, but Laurie was the only one with whom I’d been so totally in sync. There were never, ever any issues over which we’d have a falling out. Never. Our daughters, only children, were our common cause. It was always about their well being. Our worlds revolved around doing our best for them. We always commiserated over that common goal. Our egos never got ahead of us that way. Amazing! Truly amazing.

It’s been 18 years since our family moved to the Pacific Northwest. During that time, Laurie and I have managed to meet up…in Redding,  NYC, Chautauqua (New York), Atlanta, Martha’s Vineyard and just last week, here in Washington State. (We’re already looking forward to where we’ll next meet.) As with long time friends the world over, we spent every waking moment catching up on…our lives…our daughters’ lives…the lives of friends and acquaintances we’d both known…and Redding, past and present.

As an unexpected bonus, Laurie and I discovered we both dreaded the thought of a Trump presidency. And so from the outset, politics wove their way in and out of all of our conversations. Empowered by our discussions, she vowed that she would help register voters upon returning to her home town in Pennsylvania. And, of course, I plan to continue trouncing Trump with the written word.

One of the first compliments I paid Laurie on this visit was that she was everybody’s enabler…her daughter’s…her ex-husband’s…her two sisters…her niece and nephew…her friends…her coworkers. It’s in Laurie’s very DNA to quietly support those with whom she’s in contact. She never pushes her opinions; instead she listens carefully, building upon what the speaker has said. To her great credit, many have remained loyal to her. And to her very great credit, her daughter is thriving in a gay marriage and enjoying an awesome career as a veterinarian.

I count myself very lucky to still be among Laurie’s closest friends. No matter the distance, no matter the passing of time, we will always be kindred spirits…

…friends…forever.

………hugmamma.787

 

teaching our children…

…right from wrong.

That’s what parents set out to do. It’s like the Hypocratic oath for us. Parents: Do no harm. The first line translated from Greek is “I swear to fulfill, to the best of my ability and judgment, this covenant:…”

Leading by example is the best and the most basic advice a parent could ever follow. “Little pitchers have big ears” is another truism parents would do well to remember.

The Andy Griffith Show and its town of Mayberry is still relevant today. I think even the majority of dissatisfied, Trump supporters would agree. And yet it’s sad to think that while they are clamoring to… “make America great again,” they are sacrificing their children to a slogan.

I’m not a parenting expert, although being a parent is something I take very seriously. In fact, it is my primary undertaking in life…to be the best parent I can be. Everything I believe, everything I do has ramifications…as a parent. Yes, I misstep; but morality is not something I can ever sacrifice for anything or anyone. Before committing to a cause or a person, it has to sit right…in my gut. That alone signals to my daughter that I can be believed; that she can follow my lead.

The end NEVER, EVER justifies the means. No amount of comfort and well being is worth the degradation of one’s soul. Trump has corrupted the morals of millions of parents. In the process, they have shown their children that their morals can be bought by a slogan.

My unsolicited advice to these parents…

…we reap…what we sow.

………hugmamma.

 

dreams…nightmares

Do you dream? Or have nightmares? I often have both, and at the same time. How’s that possible? I have no idea. While I’m more or less in control of what I do during the day, I have absolutely none when it comes to sleepy time. I’m at the mercy of the fairies or gargoyles, depending upon who decides to mess with my head on any given night.

In the morning my husband chuckles when I explain how I spent the night wrestling imaginary characters…some familiar, some not. He takes no credit for often showing up, usually as a bystander or the root cause of my struggles with the unknown. The man has no clue what goes on inside my head, even though we’ve known each other almost half-a-century. Men.

My mom always attributed fitful sleeping to having eaten too close to bedtime. More so if I ate something spicy. That made sense when I was young. Most things she said made sense then, given the deck was stacked in her favor as THE authority in my life. Now that I’m the authoritarian in my own life, I figure my dreams and nightmares have more to do with psychology.

Issues that remain unresolved in my mind probably find their way into my consciousness as I sleep. There where I have little or no control, I react as best I can to the images I come across. Because I’m a strong person, I find I usually struggle to maintain that strength…even as I lay motionless. That’s probably when my dreams become nightmares. I’m fighting for self-preservation.

It’s been a very long time since I experienced something even more disturbing as I lay sleeping. It would even occur when I napped. Day or night, if I was being threatened in my dreams I would not be able to move or even make a sound. I could feel myself struggling to wake up, or to scream for help from my husband who lay fast asleep alongside me. I imagine that’s what it would be like if I awoke from a coma, and found myself locked in a coffin, buried 6 feet underground.

Scary, right? Thank goodness I’ve outgrown that particular idiosyncrasy. Unfortunately, my daughter may have inherited it. She told me she experienced the exact same feeling. So now she tries to hold her fiancé’s hand before she falls asleep, something she could not do no matter how hard she tried to reach for it while in the throes of a subliminal struggle. I know that feeling. No matter how close my husband lay to me, I could not move an inch to scream for help.

I’m certain my daughter and I aren’t the only ones beset with such goings on inside our heads, as our bodies surrender to deep slumber. We couldn’t be that unique.

…are you…one of us?

………hugmamma.

...zzzzzzzzz...

…zzzzzzzzz…

 

 

 

my story…

I’m never without a book when I crawl under the covers at night. And it’s usually a biography of someone famous. There’ve been a few infamous folks as well. Mrs. Wallace Simpson comes to mind.

Folks living in the glare of the spotlight captivate me. I wonder if what we see or hear or read about them is real. Or is much of it fabricated for public consumption? I grew up under the spell of Ingrid Bergman and Bette Davis, Errol Flynn and Cary Grant. Theirs was a Hollywood where movie stars were celluloid creations. What we saw wasn’t always who they were off-screen.

Historical figures also interest me. I’ve read the life stories of several presidents, including FDR, Eisenhower, Kennedy, LBJ, Nixon and Obama. What propels these men to choose the extraordinary instead of the ordinary path is a lesson in advanced psychology.

The common denominator in all of these biographies is parental influence. Most often it’s the lack of, or overabundance of…parental involvement. As a young boy, Cary Grant suffered the loss of his mother when his father had her committed to an institution. Grant didn’t learn of her existence until he was well on his way to becoming a Hollywood icon. Forever after, he sought her approval which he felt he never got.

Rose Kennedy left much of the parenting duties to nannies and staff. John was a sickly child who never received the doting care and concern of his mother. As an adult, he was not overly affectionate toward her. In fact, it was his father whose approval the son desperately wanted, and whose loyalty and love meant the most to the president.

Nixon’s Quaker mother instilled in him the ambition to always do well…no matter the odds. And Sarah Roosevelt made it impossible for Eleanor to follow in her mother-in-law’s footsteps. She whose very life revolved solely around her beloved Franklin.

So what’s different between these lives…and mine? Mostly the trappings. Articles about their comings and goings are devoured by millions of adoring fans; I have a few loyal readers following hugmamma.com. They dine at 21 in NYC; I’ve been there a handful of times as the guest of one of my husband’s clients. They fly hither and yon in first class accommodations; I’ve been fortunate to ride up front a time or two. The world is their oyster; I’ve traveled enough to know contentment…sitting on my deck, watching the world go by.

More importantly the death of my father, which left my siblings and me in the care of an uneducated, impoverished 30-year-old mother, left invisible scars that no amount of time will ever erase.

When we delve beneath the surface of our lives, what we find is a commonality to our human story. No matter what we go on to make of ourselves, we are the product of how we were raised…by whom…and how they were affected by their own life stories.

The only difference between one story and another is what we each bring to it. Do we improve upon what came before? Or do we let the story play out according to script. I prefer to think we can tweak a line here and there, maybe even rewriting a chapter or two. The ending can resemble a happily-ever-after, even if it’s not the one in An Affair to Remember, or Sleepless in Seattle.

Life is not a done deal…until it’s done. There’s time…minutes, hours, days, months, years…to do some rewriting. All it takes is a bit of imagination…

…and a whole lot of guts.

………hugmamma.

 

 

…looking back…

Life is really like a jigsaw puzzle. Except that we don’t get all the pieces at the beginning. We start with a few and as we age we pick up another piece here and there. Unlike puzzles that come in a box of 500 or 1,000 pieces, we don’t know what number we’ll end up with…until our lives come to an end. The really cool thing is we can have as few or as many as we choose. Pieces, that is.

Free will. Remember what the Bible tells us about Adam and Eve. God allowed them to make their way in the world once they’d eaten of the forbidden fruit. Because of their sin, humankind must make our way back to God of our own choosing.

I’ve probably selected many, many more puzzle pieces to form my life than say, my husband. He’s held fewer jobs, making his way up the corporate ladder one rung at a time. As for me? I’ve kind of hopscotched up and down life’s ladder unable to decide what it was I could ace. Only when my daughter was born did I settle into my very own “jigsaw puzzle.”

IMG_4309When we’re young, most of us are totally without focus. We’re drawn in so many different directions, like dandelion flowers floating about on the wind. Certain milestones serve to anchor us to reality…school, loved ones, jobs and old age. It’s the final one that weighs in most heavily.

While options are more limited by the quality of our lives in older age, we’re not as saddled by too many puzzle pieces from which to choose. We can be more selective. We can linger over the appeal of some and not others. We can choose a second piece, if the first piece doesn’t quite fit.

Who cares if my jigsaw puzzle’s a little lopsided? Does it matter if I’ve chosen to fill the entire puzzle with a beautiful blue sky? In fact, I might decide to leave holes in the puzzle. There might be a few heavenly pieces I’d want to fill in when I’m done down here.

Unlike real puzzles over which I agonize as I hunt down the exact pieces that fit together, I look at my life now as unfolding day by day.

Since I began helping my daughter plan her wedding almost a year ago, my house has wallowed in dust and grime…and I’ve not given it much thought. Even as I undertake to get my butt going in that direction, I’ve stopped to write some…watch a little TV…nosh a little…and cuddle my cats. The house’ll get done. Meanwhile, I’m just enjoying figuring out…

…what puzzle piece comes next.

………hugmamma.

 

a good man…but

I like Bernie Sanders…his affinity for everyman. Sanders’ compassion for the less fortunate is palpable. His ideas to uplift the struggling masses and level the playing field is what America should be about. If everyone thought as Sanders does…peace might be possible.

Sanders, however, cannot be our next president. He proselytizes, speaking to our “better angels.” Abraham Lincoln first spoke to that side of human nature in his First Inaugural Address on March 4, 1861…

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

Almost 155 years to the day, we are where we were then. American turning against American, each side using the Constitution in defense of its own dogmatic, ideological stances.

I give Sanders credit for being the voice of Lincoln when that President’s own party, the Republican Party, has long turned its back on what he stood for…and died for.

Being a senior citizen myself, I can understand Sanders sense of urgency to remake America before he dies. He’s 74. He wants it done…yesterday.

Like President Obama before him, Sanders has started a movement, primarily among young adults. He is calling upon them to help fix our broken society. Sanders expects that they will continue to actively support his presidency, if and when that day materializes. They are to strong arm Congress into enacting all that Sanders envisions in a progressive society.

It may be that Obama wrongfully shouldered the burden of his office alone, as some in the media have accused. However he may have been more realistic than Sanders who expects working class folks to add to their daily overload by actively involving themselves in remaking America. It’s not that it can’t be done, it’s just a question of how realistic an expectation it is.

How will Sanders pay for all the freebies he proposes to give out…free college education for all, rich and poor…and Medicare-like health insurance for all, rich and poor? In addition he wants to expand Medicaid benefits…raise the minimum wage…make it easier for people to join unions…break up the big banks…bring parity to women’s wages…invest in our crumbling infrastructure…and more. Fantastic…rhetoric, to be sure. But who’s going to pay for all of this?

If Sanders’ desire is to fashion our society to look like some in Europe, then we must be prepared to pay the price, as do those citizens. For example, Norway’s total tax burden is 45% of GDP…twice that of the U.S. More than the cost in dollars, however, is the price paid in individual enterprise and hard work.

Yes, I’d like the have-nots to have more, but they should still have the opportunity to work for it.

Hillary Clinton’s plan to help college students is to…allow them to refinance, just as we are allowed to refinance our homes, so that they are not paying excessive interest rates of 10% or more. She is not about forgiving their debt altogether. Furthermore, Clinton offers college students the opportunity to repay their loan as a percentage of wages earned after graduating. 

Bernie Sanders is unrealistically ideological. Hillary Clinton is pragmatic about her ideology.

…I’m for getting something done…

…not for daydreaming about it.

………hugmamma.

what feels right…

I’m neither a Democrat nor a Republican, although I have liberal tendencies born of a childhood bordering on poverty. I know what it’s like to wear Salvation Army hand-me-downs, and share meals with orphans at a home run by Maryknoll nuns. I’ve been fortunate, however, to have “pulled myself up by the bootstraps” and married a man who has done the same. For us the stars were all aligned, shining good fortune down upon us. Not so with millions of others in America…and around the world. As one of my brothers liked to say of me, and perhaps it’s true…I’m a bleeding-heart liberal. And he didn’t mean it kindly. He’s hard-core conservative.

While I have voted for Republican presidents, like George W. Bush, I’ve never felt in sync with the party. I get that its members are about preserving the status quo and each and everyone earning his own keep. What I don’t get is how dogmatic Republicans are about their principles. It’s as though all poor people are guilty of abusing the system and must therefore prove themselves innocent. Why they can’t do just that seems beyond comprehension to dyed-in-the-wool conservatives. If folks find themselves in unfortunate circumstances, then they should get themselves out however they can and not look to society to do it for them.

Democrats aren’t without their own prejudices and faults. However what I can align with is their concern for the welfare of all people, including the less fortunate. There isn’t an automatic assumption that they are slovenly people living off the fat of the land, without first paying their dues. Yes, there are those who take advantage of welfare, but those who don’t shouldn’t be condemned alongside those who do.

My mom, a widow with 9 children, was never on welfare. She worked hard and took help whenever it was offered. If she was ashamed, she never showed it. What I did witness, however, was her compassion for others who shared her plight. She shared what little she had. A lesson that has remained with me to this day. Whether or not it comes more easily for folks who are themselves outcasts from society, I don’t know. I only know that having been there, I could never turn my back on those still stuck in the muck of poverty.

Life is complicated. There are no easy solutions to its complexities. All we can do is the best we can do, given our individual circumstances. And the only compass we have to guide us through life is a moral one. And at the risk of sounding like a “bleeding heart liberal,”…whether we like it or not, we’re all in this together. There’s no escaping to another planet, anytime soon that is. So rather than run from one another, we’ve got to figure out how to make this place where we all live…work for the good of all. Sooner or later the have-nots are going to overtake the haves, and help themselves to what they’ve long been denied.

…we are our brothers’…and sisters’…keepers.

…whether we like it…or not.

………hugmamma.

 

…faux fur…

…and arthritis.

I can see that quizzical look as you read the title and first line of this post. What the heck does one have to do with the other? On the surface? Not a lot. However when you knead down into the folds of a faux fur coverlet you’ll see what I mean. No doubt!

Rainy, cold, gray days like we’re having here in the Pacific Northwest make me want to fly away to the balmy, mostly sun-filled days in my native Hawaii. Every winter without fail I half-jokingly insist to my husband that we should return home. I am definitely like a fish out of water when it comes to the weather here. Every bone in my body throbs like a drum beat, as if chanting…”Give me heat. I need heat.”

As if to satisfy the relentless request for warmth, I switch on all the lamps in the living room..a total of seven…as well as the space heater. I also turn on the one down the hall near the bedrooms, and the one in the kitchen. All the while the furnace in the lower level laundry room blasts heat throughout the entire house.

As for me, I’m covered from the neck down…a hoodie over my long-sleeved shirt, comfortable pants to my knees…AND compression socks from my knees to my toes! If I could work with gloved hands I would.

So after a full day puttering around the house…doing a little bit of this, that and the other…I usually call it quits at about midnight. I always aim to end the day earlier, but it never seems to work out that way. Don’t get me wrong. I take little…sometimes long…breaks here and there throughout the day. I’ll catch snippets of HGTV’s “Love it or List it,” “Flip or Flop,” “House Hunters,” or “Million Dollar Listings, Los Angeles.” Sometimes I’ll stop to play computer games on my Nook. And, of course, I can’t just play one game. I usually go until I successfully finish a level and can go on to the next one.

One of the last things I do before calling it a night involves water…hot, cold and somewhere in-between. There’s dishes to wash or load into the dishwasher, depending…how big, how fragile, how much cooked-on-grime. When I turn out the kitchen lights…and all the other lights upstairs, I head downstairs to our master bedroom suite to shower before diving under the bed covers. Of course I run the water as close to hot as I can stand. It soothes all the muscles, especially those in my lower back.

In recent weeks, as the weather has gotten colder and wetter, I’ve taken to pulling the faux fur coverlet, that usually lies at the foot of our bed, over all the other covers under which I bury myself…the sheet, the quilt, and the duvet. Sometimes I even wear socks to bed! In addition to all this, we’ve begun using our gas fireplace to bring the bedroom to a cozy temperature, before turning it off and going to sleep.  

While I never, ever feel hot enough to kick the covers off, my husband spends most of the night…partially outside the covers. I call him…my “hot-blooded Hawaiian!” ha, ha.

Last night, for the first time, I noticed as I pulled the faux fur up to my chin and lay my hands on its luxurious warmth…how soothing it was to my arthritic fingers. While I still couldn’t completely bend my stiff knuckles, I felt relief. Kneading my fingers into the folds of the “fur,” whatever stress remained from the day disappeared. My lips curled into a soft smile, as I lay, eyes closed in the dark…thankful for my…

…little piece of faux fur heaven.

………hugmamma.

 

…slow as molasses…

That’s how I feel as I set about decorating for the holidays. What use to take me a week and a half, may take me until Christmas morning this year. I kid you not. In the past I’d decorate 7 or 8 trees, 3 big ones and the rest smaller, potted types. All pre-lit, artificial. I’ll be lucky if I get the 3 big ones done. I feel like my get-up-and-go…got up and left.

Even hubby’s taking a nap.

We can’t seem to push ourselves the way we use to when we were in our mid-60’s. Now that we’re in our late 60’s, our energy level is kaput. Takes me a long time to decide how to rearrange the living room to accommodate the giant tree. In fact, I decided…in the midst of moving stuff around…to have the slipcovers on the sofa and club chair dry-cleaned. Thank goodness they’ll be back on Wednesday, all nice and clean…after years and years of accumulated dirt has been laundered away. Not surprisingly I found a partially eaten Dorito chip hiding beneath one of the seat cushions.

Another thing that’s slowing me down is the desire to get rid of some of my furnishings, specifically my vintage things of which there’s a lot. I’m an antiques dealer who loves to collect, in addition to selling, of course. Most of us in the business are passionate collectors. I discovered my passion after moving to Long Island, New York in 1977. I got bitten by the “bug” during the first antiques auction I’d ever attended. I left with a massive oak roll top desk which I recently donated to charity since no one was interested in buying it. Folks didn’t find it too practical in this day and age.

Thing is, the holidays are no time to think about downsizing. It’s a busy enough time without doing major overhauling. And definitely not for a couple of seniors whose adrenalin levels have seen better days.

We normally have three or more groups of friends and family in to celebrate during Christmas and New Year. We’ll be lucky if the house is up and running when our daughter returns home…AFTER Christmas.

What drives me to make Christmas great every year is that my husband and daughter are like wide-eyed children when everything is in place. They absolutely love Christmas and all its trappings. It’s the best present I can give them.

So I’d better get back to work…

…wrapping my christmas gift with love.

………hugmamma.

being myself…

That’s what I love most about my husband.

He lets me be myself.

He loves my goofiness, my seriousness, my intelligent moments as well as my dumb ones.

He never defines me, instead letting who I am ring true.

He never for a moment considers if others might think ill of me. And if someone should, it has no influence whatsoever on his loving me.

To him, I’m perfect just as I am. Maybe not for anyone else, but for him there’s no one else.

 

Through my husband’s eyes I’ve come to realize I am “perfect,” just as I am. In moments of self doubt, and, of course, I still get them…I tell myself  that I am a good person. God has let me know that by gifting me with two of His most wonderful creations…my husband and my daughter.

My daughter. When I look into her eyes, I see total, unconditional love…for me. Nothing I do or say can alter that fact. In return, I never overstep my place in her life. Just as I know that I am a good person, I know that she is as well. So why would I need, or want, to trespass upon all that she is?

This morning the imp in me took over and I hid from my husband in the midst of fixing our bed. He had gotten an earlier start to the day, as is his usual routine. He’s an early bird riser. I’m a midnight owl who has no use for worms when I first wipe the sleep from my eyes. I could hear him walking all around in search of me…through the bedroom, adjoining library nook, walk-in closet, bathroom and nearby laundry room. He may even have peeked into the garage. As he strode past the bedroom, I jumped out of my hiding place and scared him. I really did scare him! He kind of froze in place. And then we both burst into uncontrollable laughter. Giggling like high school sweethearts…rather than the middle-aged seniors we really are…we hugged and laughed and laughed and laughed.

I’m lucky. Real lucky. My husband loves me…

…just as i am.

………hugmamma.

 

nurturing thursdays: feeling good…

Have you ever contemplated how great it is to…feel good? To have that warm, fuzzy feeling that all’s right with the world? Well, perhaps not the world outside your walls, but the world which you inhabit inside your walls. And more specifically…the inner spaces of your heart and mind and soul?

With age comes a good deal of reflection. Having attained most, if not all, of the physical wants on our check lists we begin to wonder what is left for us to do while we count down the years until the end. What is there left to do? Have we done it all? Do we feel good about how we’ve lived our lives?

Speaking from my own personal experience, feeling good about things outside of myself only came when I began to feel good about myself. And that only happened when I accepted that what others thought, felt and did was not my responsibility. More importantly, it did not really involve me. Accepting that fact was like having an invisible wall deflect any and all negativity coming my way back onto those from whom it was being generated.

Folks unhappy with their own circumstances tend to blame others for what’s wrong within themselves. Unable to resolve their problems, they want others to do it for them. Even going to extremes as we’ve seen in the case of shooters who opt to commit suicide, whether by their own hand or at the hand of others.

Wallowing in the hate generated by negativity as we see happening with Donald Trump and his followers, blackens the environment like a thick fog of pollution. Rather than succumb to its poison, we should hold strong to the fact that he and they have issues with which they are struggling. Because they cannot think through constructive solutions based upon positive thinking, they find it easier to pass along their problems to the rest of us. They bleed negativity, not caring about the effect they are having on the masses.

That’s how Trump and others like him “feel good”…by feeling bad. It’s what stokes their already smoldering dislike of the unfamiliar and the different. They refuse to flex with the changing environment, preferring to encapsulate their rigid views of how life should be…in stone.

Truly feeling good means accepting that we are basically good. How we react to adversity outside of ourselves determines whether or not we continue to feel good.

Like others, I am disturbed by the constant reminder that many are hell-bent in bringing about Armageddon…sooner rather than later. I’m equally disturbed by the desire of many in the Republican Party that America return to isolationism from the rest of the world. Obviously, neither Armageddon nor isolationism is compatible with the survival of the human race. What separates us from other species is our ability to THINK through alternatives to our problems, arriving at the best one for the good of all, not just a few.

As naïve as this may sound, I strive to remember that each of us is basically good. We didn’t start off as bad babies. What happened after that was dependent upon circumstances, much of which is beyond our control…our birth country…our parent’s economic standing…our education or lack thereof…our jobs…our families, friends, enemies. What we do have control over is how we act and react under these circumstances. Again, however, we cannot over-stress or over-worry about others’ actions and reactions. We can only act and react, striving to do so from a platform of positivity, not negativity.

Feeling good. Or feeling bad.

…our choice.

………hugmamma.

(Note:  Enjoy other nurturing words at…
https://beccagivens.wordpress.com/2015/12/10/nurt-thurs-how-long/#comment-26111