28 August 2009

Friendships Missed

Well, we did it again! We let another entire year pass before we were able to commit to a date with some wonderful, old friends from days gone by. Old as in, yes, we were together to celebrate my husbands' advanced age (jk Joe!)...and old in that the older we get the older the friendships become. This is a wonderful thing. While these friendships are formed because we trudged to class together and commiserated about our college professors, or shared a cubicle at our first job, these friendships last because we see something special in our friends and want them in our lives. Sometimes other things prevent us from keeping the lines of communication constant and the get togethers frequent. Sometimes it's distance, sometimes it's work, sometimes it's children and their hectic little lives. But one thing's for sure, time seems to have stood still when we get together...finally...after that long year of trying and waiting! It's so familiar, so comfortable and so wonderful we ask ourselves, how do we let this happen? How do we manage to let the year grow into 2, 3, 5...more? How does a dear, wonderful friend leave this world and our lives before we find the time? How do we even stand ourselves for allowing this to happen? We don't intend for it to happen, but it can...and it does. I know we all are guilty of it. But before we know it we're old. Yes, here we are. Not really THAT old, but certainly feeling it when we sit together over dinner and multiple glasses of wine and look at the children who in those 365 days can change so dramatically. We wonder where the time goes. And when we reminisce together and laugh until we cry, we wonder where the time goes? And then we loose one of us far too soon and we regret the time we lost. This is the kick in the pants I know I needed to get me to think quick and realize that I can not let this happen again. It prompted me to call one of my dearest (she'd kill me if I said oldest!) friends, a confidante in thought and deed...whom I haven't seen in 2 1/2 yrs! I invite her to join us on our vacation for a while because I just can't let another day go by. Why don't you pick up the phone today, or if you can't do that, make yourself a short to-do list of people that you miss and one by one be with them. A quick lunch, a cup of coffee and a chat, or if you can a long weekend together. What more joy is there than living, loving and laughing! Thanks for reading! Miriam

18 August 2009

All in a Days' Meditation

While nestled amongst the green mountains of Vermont I always feel a sense of inner peace and the power and majesty of something bigger than myself. I have been hoping to introduce meditation into my life for some time, however, I always seem to jeopardize my attempts before I get far enough to call it routine.

This time was different. While on vacation I saw listed an introduction to meditation class and I knew I had to try it out. So glad I did, the instructor was wonderfully inspiringl a world traveler and student of budism, yogis of India and Thailand and a calming presence immediately. I knew she would inspire me and finally I would understand the process. After an hour and a half of conversation, practice and instruction I began to be able to find the calm that many people, including this instructor, have told me would be life changing.

Mind you, I'm a fantastic multitasker, I could easily follow my breath, think about her instructions to the class and also catagorize my "to-do" list! Not the intention, however! I've been doing this since first grade when I'd constantly be reprimanded by my teacher for chatting during class instruction time. "No problem, I heard you, lady!" Still, always found myself at recess spending days upon days walking up and down the parochial school sidewalks as my punishment.

You would think this would have been a good time to practice being alone and focusing my thoughts on one thing at a time. instead, I continued to nurture my multitasking skills and over the years have even shaped my business around this theme.

Time to stop. For me slow my thoughts and my brain, focusing my breath and just "being" is very difficult. We started small and hoped to be successful in five minute incriments; pushing the thoughts away as they fought their way back. Five minutes is a long time in meditation when you are new at the practice. Trust me, it's worth it. I know that it is going to take me many, many weeks of practice to find meditation to be easy, but it is a test of wills and I always enjoy that type of challenge.

I have found some soothing instrumental musical selections and downloaded them onto my ipod. Right now this helps to put me in a more meditative state but eventually I hope to be able to find this place just about any time. I'm proud to say I am finding the minutes are flying by. Five minutes isn't that difficult and ten minutes is more suitable, hoping twenty to thirty will soon follow. Finding the time to sit down is harder but I am really working to make that a priority. The calm and sense of peace that I feel afterwards is evident. When my mind wanders during the day and I begin to feel stressed I let myself think back to my mornings' meditation and redirect the calm. It is a process and a decisive mental practice.

Take some time today for yourself and explore your calm. Thanks for reading! Miriam

11 August 2009

Packing to travel can be both cathartic and headache inducing. One thing is a must; be organized. I can't pack any other way. It's not a free-for-all since if we're traveling by plane the weight restrictions for luggage with the overage charges can deplete your margarita reserve before you even leave the tarmac!

I find packing small very difficult because I never know what kind of mood I'm going to be in on any given day, what type of social events I will partake in or if I'll be feeling extra bloated at some point. How do you pack small with that kind of uncertainty?

Of course, once I do determine the clothing items, there's accessories! I could do without the clothes...well, you know what I mean; I buy clothes to go with my great accessories; love my bags, shoes and jewels; and I'm totally half dressed without them.

Stress as I may, I generally do ok. I've learned that when I'm heading to the mountains I certainly don't need Jimmy Choos! If you know you'll have the option of doing laundry, pack for half as many days as you'll be traveling. Lay out your outfits and see how much mixing and matching you can do. Right now the styles are shown in tones like gray, tan, navy and black with bright color accents. Bring along the minimum knowing you can always launder.

Keep in mind, depending on your destination, that there may be a chilly night or two so a versatile jacket or cardigan is a must. One pair of jeans and one long sleeved top for an extra chilly or rainy day needs to be tucked in just in case. Here's the hard part, keep the shoe selection small. Pack the flat sandals and wear the one pair of wedges that you can make work with anything.

Underpinnings and swimsuits can be hand washed and hung to dry so you don't need too much variety here, contrary to what we might see, it's should not be a fashion show at the pool. What I do at this point is then look at everything I've set aside and remove what I really and truly can live without. Then I probably am ready to accessorize. Two handbags, one for day, one for going out, that's it! This is difficult for me, as is packing the shoes. I am still working on great restraint in this regard.

The jewelry accessories can usually be paired down too-another tough job for me. One long strand of beads for a night or two out that can be doubled or layered with shorter strands to give a different look. Add some chunky bangles that can make less look like more and a pair of earrings in each style; dangle, bangle, hoop and stud; that's about it!

If you plan to get some exercise throw in workout gear and sneakers but hey, you're on vacation...so you needn't stress over this if you can't make it fit. Happy travels all! Thanks for reading! Miriam

09 August 2009

Wishing I Had Never Left

Upon returning from vacation in a very different part of the country than we live, I find myself having difficulty with re-entry. We had a very therapeutic and relaxing visit to the mountains of Vermont and oh, how I didn't want to return to the hustle bustle of life in a hurry. There is just something so soothing about seeing rolling hill and dale on the green mountainsides; the coolness in the night and the gentle breeze of the day. The sounds around us were usually of kids laughing with friends and having fun. The events of the evening are always wholesome and simple family activities, finishing off our busy days with joy so that we tumbled into our beds exhausted and without a care. Once home there's laundry, picking up the dog from her "staycation" and sorting the mail. Of course, tending to the overgrowth in the yard and catching up on phonecalls. Not long from now we'll be packing up the backpacks again so while I'm re-acclimating to life as usual I'm going to let my memories linger on the sunny Green Mountain days once again. I journal when I'm away because I want to remember it all. It helps to create those family dinnertime conversations where everyone has a different recall of a comical moment years from now when we're all old and gray. I try very hard to create memories for my boys when I plan our summer getaways and I know that on these vacations they create their own fondest of memories too; each cherishing something different. I always hope that when they are grown they will revisit these destinations with their families, or maybe find work and move to an area that holds a special meaning for them. There is so much more to life than our little neck of the woods. I hope they appreciate the differences and what these wonderful experiences offer. Of course, I'll visit often!

02 August 2009

Guys and Dolls....We Are Who We Are!

Communicating with the opposite sex is difficult at best, impossible at worst. Finding a guy that I can relate to in my household is like finding Waldo at the Louvre! (needle in a haystack...ok, an overused cliche...but...true!) I have had a small handful of male friends in my lifetime who I really think "get me". That's a great reassurance knowing that I am understood. I know alot about the guys in my house, but do they "get" me? Do they care? I am sure they do in their own discombobulated way...but I don't know sometimes. I have to settle for the presumption that maybe, when I start on a rant that some of it might be absorbed. I guess the black and the white of it probably are, but I see things in such muted tones of the above and I get frustrated when they don't register anything more than a blank quizical stare. Whhhhaaaatt? I really won't know for sure if my messages and life lessons are heard until long after they have grown and go on to shape their identities apart from our family. My girlfriends are so much easier to read. They are happy to have a visitor or they aren't right now. They feel like listening or they'd rather talk. It's going to be a hootin' good time out or we'd better get our tissues and be in for the long haul. Simple. But persist we must. We need to work hard to find methods of reaching out to people who don't really think, process or maybe even have the same daily insights and understandings that we have. This gets more difficult as the days pass for me. I have one tween, one young teen and a young adult in my home...oh yes, and the hubby, he counts also because he too is missing an integral communication chromosome. Oops! I guess I've learned that while we think differently, I don't have to expect them to think exactly like me, I just wish for them to know why I am feeling strongly about my convictions. I want to know that they will grow up, marry and have a sympathetic ear and a strong shoulder for their wives and not shake their heads and walk away. That's why I just keep talking and hoping. Am I doing it right? Time will tell. I do know that I have an exciting, funny, cerebral and energetic household and there is never a dull moment and I never know what to expect from one day to the next. At least I know they're alive and livin' large. I must be doing something right so I'll just keep on communicating! Thanks for reading...and thanks too for all of your terrific feedback! Miriam

Find Your Own Inspirations

I was at the beach a week or so ago, on one of the most glorious days of the summer. Warm but not sweltering temperatures, a gentle breeze and a glowing sun. I decided to take a walk along the surf and took my camera along just in case I was inspired. What I found was more than inspiration, it was a genuine connection with life and the simplicity of happiness. As I was focusing my lense on the crashing waves against the dark jetty rocks I realized just how spectacular and authentic the natural beauty is around us. Things that we see every day, day in and day out. How many times each twenty-four hours do those waves crash upon those same boulders? The curl of the foam curls in a different shape with each impact, the sparkle in the blue waters and the glistening surface of the wet rock was so moving and beautiful I thought, my goodness, I'm going to cry and the men in white coats are going to come for me right here in front of thousands of sunbathing strangers! How is it that we can miss the perfection around us? We set out each day to be entertained, occupied and exhilirated, either by the internet, athletic challenges or simple gossip. The ironic thing was the next day I received my Miracle Thought for the Day podcast from Marianne Williamson's blog and she too was marveling at the very same thing; the simplicity and beauty of a single blossom or chirping bird. Rediculous that we miss so much because we are in a hurry, late to somewhere important that we will forget about by next week. We need to take the time when there is so much activity around us and revel in life's presence, simplicity and sheer beauty. This stuff is free! We need to stop what we are doing and study the detail of the sights and sounds that are everywhere, take it in and realize how much life gives us if we just stop and take the time to notice. I really am finding myself doing just this every day. It might not be right away, might need a small reminder, but it is so rewarding. Make the effort once each day to note something small and wonderous. I encourage you to share these things with your children too, teach them to pause now. I'm thinking I may go moongazing tonight? Care to join me? Thanks for reading! Miriam

Create a Cairn this Summer

Build a Cairn in tribute. To a pet, to a loved one, to your country. Cairns have been seen throughout the world for centuries either built as a tribute in memorium or as a way to set a path for travelers hiking trails and mountains. They are today used as landmarks but are also used for astronomical purposes, although depending on their country of origin, have various meanings.

Cairns have been found from the Canadian Arctic to the United Kingdom. They can be simple towers of graduated stone or large, complex structures of many pebbles and rocks. They are a tribute to Hermes, the God of overland travel, according to Greek Mythology.

I love to search for cairns along the trails we hike in Sedona. Many of these are markers for a Vortex. Vortex are found along particular trails and are felt to have healing mystical powers. When we are hiking and come upon a Cairn I feel a part of something bigger than myself when I add my stone to the tower as we pass.

I felt so connected to these structures, and so moved by their aesthetic beauty that I have constructed two of my own in my backyard. I enjoy sitting on my porch and gazing at the flowerbed where I have a cairn built from rocks that each member of our family contributed to shape our Cairn.

The stone at the top is a very special contribution, it is the stone found on Long Bay, a picturesque beach in French St. Martin, on our honeymoon twenty years ago. I thought it a fitting symbolism of what we have built together, the five of us, starting and ending with a commitment made by two. Thanks for reading! Miriam