Sunday, August 16, 2015

In My Opinion ~ Thoughts On What Is Being Talked About ~ {7-21-15}

Happy Birthday, Robin Williams

 I am reminded again today, on what would have been Robin Williams 64th birthday, how deeply saddened I am that a man who brought so much joy to so many was unable to feel any himself in the tragic moments when he choose to end his own life.

I hope someday to be able to enjoy his work again, because it really is an amazing legacy.  Since his death, watching anything he was in leaves me feeling sad, even as it reminds me to tell the people I love that they are enough as they are in this moment.  Rest in peace, Robin.  Nanu nanu.

On Caitlyn Jenner and The Arthur Ashe Courage Award

On the evening of Wednesday, July 15, Caitlyn Jenner, formally known to the world as Olympic Gold Medal winner Bruce Jenner, was the honored recipient of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award.

I understand that there are people who are angry that Caitlyn received this award, instead of another of the equally amazing and relevant people who were considered. However, Caitlyn represents and is speaking for the segment of OUR population who are the most bullied, the least understood, and who have the highest rate of suicide, especially among our young people. She is standing up and telling her story so that the thousands of other people who do not identify with the gender they were assigned at birth can find the courage and support they need to live their most authentic lives. That IS courage, and I am proud to say that Caitlyn is as much of a hero to me now as Bruce was when he won Olympic Gold and graced the Wheaties boxes of my childhood.

And as for the fashion police, Caitlyn, I can't imagine anyone having anything to say other than you are stunning, and you nailed it, girl!!

Bill Cosby As Rapist

As a survivor of a violent rape myself, my heart breaks wide open for any woman, or man for that matter; rape transcends gender, that has been violated in this most private and personal of ways.  I deeply appreciated President Obama's words on the subject of Mr. Cosby at a press conference when asked whether he would revoke Bill Cosby's Medal of Freedom.  "I'll say this ~ if you give a woman or man, without his or her knowledge a drug, and then have sex with that person without consent, that's rape.  I think this country, any civilized country should have no tolerance for rape."  In answer to the question regarding the medal, he noted that there is no precedent for revocation. 

Since the unsealing of the nearly 1,000 page deposition taken from Mr. Cosby over 4 days in 2005 and 2006, in which he admits to using drugs with women and to attempts at concealing his behavior, virtually every supporter he had has deserted him.  What remains to be seen is if there will be any legal recourse available to his victims.  In the meantime, the man who famously portrayed the quintessential American father to viewers of all ages since The Cosby Show debuted in 1984 has finally been seen for what he really is, a rapist and a liar.  May that bring some measure of peace to his victims. 

Friday, July 17, 2015

Gratitude In July

I have noticed around the interwebs recently that there are a lot of "Christmas In July" and "Black Friday in July" events going on.  It got me thinking that, as much as I enjoy the whole lead up to Christmas that I refer to as the shopping season, it pales against my love for Thanksgiving.  Not only is it a holiday that centers around food and family, it really puts a spotlight on gratitude.  Although I do practice gratitude in my daily life, I truly enjoy the opportunity to focus in on it a bit that the Thanksgiving season brings.  So rather than starting my holiday shopping early, I thought this would be a good time to examine being thankful.

There are many types of gratitude, and many ways to experience it.  There is a level that is deeply personal and a bit difficult to articulate, that has to do with who I am and where I came from.  There is also the gratitude that exists in the simple day to day living; for the day itself and the ability to enjoy it, for a good hair day after managing to squeeze a morning workout in, gratitude for the pleasant barista at the coffee shop who steams the milk just right, and for short lines at the toll plaza.

The grateful place where my thoughts have really been focusing in on these days, though, has been in the area where I do the work required to be the best person that I can be.  My definition of "best person" changes every day; some days are just about getting through the tasks at hand, other days are about more; giving back, paying it forward, and really pushing my limits.

A short time ago, I was sitting next to my husband as he was speaking to someone well known to both of us.  I cannot say "close" to us about this person, because the relationship is very one sided, as in how it benefits said person.  In any event, the entire dialog provided by the person on the other end of the phone was in the form of complaints, one after the next.  And trust me when I tell you, this person has NOTHING to complain about.  But maybe that's an issue in itself?  When someone has not experienced true trials and tribulations, perhaps every single thing that does not go their way is cause for upset. 

Having born witness to this tirade of tiny upsets caused my gratitude to multiply, though.  I am grateful for a lack of bitterness in any and all aspects of my life.  The hard, bad things have made me stronger, and the good and beautiful and amazing things have made me better.  Have made me more aware of all the goodness that exists in people, and all of the possibilities that exist in our world.  I am grateful that I find a way to end every single day believing with all of my heart that life is good. 

xoxo, Anita

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

{Vintage} April Fools' Day Fun

I have long been a fan of the first day of April.  Not due to a particularly memorable prank or any form of the tricks and jokes so popular on this day in America, but thanks to the lack thereof.

When I was in fifth grade and my sister was in fourth, our mother; an ahead of her time single mom who really had the sole parenting thing down, made a long standing wish of ours come true by moving us from the apartment we livid in since we were about three and two years old into the single family house we had been dreaming about.

 Imagine the horror that our grade school selves experienced when we were informed that we would be starting at our new school on the day that pranks on your fellow classmates were not only allowed but encouraged; April Fools' Day. 


As you already know from my introductory sentence, no one pranked on, picked on, teased or in any other way made the new kids feel anything other than welcome.  The only torturous part of the day was that long seeming but actually short walk to our new school as we exchanged thoughts about the terrible things that might befall us. 

The walk home went much differently!  We shared gleeful stories about our new teachers and classmates and marveled on the good fortune that brought us to our new home and our new life.  How lucky we were!  From that day to this, April 1 has always been a day for me to remember to embrace change and count my blessings. 
On this particular April Fools' Day, I learned a new thing.  Another favorite of mine!  When I goggled "vintage april fools day images"  all of these pictures with fish came up.  Having no idea what the correlation between fish and April 1 was, I did some research and learned that in Italy, France, and some French speaking areas, the April 1 tradition involves attempting to attach a paper fish to a person's back without being noticed.  Postcards depicting the fish were quite popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. 

How fun!  Harmless pranking at it's best.  No one is picked on, no one's feelings are hurt, and everyone laughs.  Good times!  Above are two fish that can be cut out, for anyone who wants to try this at home.  I may or may not be taping one of these to my husband's back later.  (wink)

However you choose to acknowledge the day, dear reader, I hope that you will have fun with it, but not at another's expense. 
Live, love, laugh!  xo, Anita

Thursday, March 5, 2015

{Vintage} Snow Day Shots // {Random} Snow Day Thoughts

For those living in the North East section of the country, this has been one crazy winter!  (Stating the obvious, I know.)  And in the Washington, DC area, where I am at this writing, we are having yet another snow day.  Not a record shattering winter this year in either of the areas I call home, but it has certainly been a loooonnnnggggg one.

Perhaps it's because mine started a few weeks before Thanksgiving during a fluke snowstorm that had my very snow savvy Northwestern Pennsylvania town virtually shut down for the better part of two days.  The day prior had been a gift of a day; sunny and in the mid sixties and the perfect day to be outside.  I, along with most of my neighbors and the better part of the parks and recreation department, spent it doing fall cleanup.

So when we all woke up the next morning to rapidly falling snow, the city went into a crazy panic switching grounds care equipment for road cleaning equipment.  I ventured a few blocks down the street toward the grocery store, and was told by fire department volunteers to turn around and head home.  Because the roads were not treated prior to the start of the snow, they would not be deemed safe to travel on until after the snow ended and they could all be plowed.  What followed was two days of neighborly exchanges of necessary items for living as we all waited for the roads to clear.  From that day to this, it has been all winter, all the time for me. 

Most years when March rolls around, I find myself a tiny bit surprised by the first signs of spring.  Spring fashion emails in my inbox, spring nail polish shades front and center at the drugstore, even the announcement of the start of Daylight Savings Time (Sunday, March 8 at 2:00 am) are usually met with  moderate disbelief.  "It's almost over? Really?!"  Not this year, though.  This year I am all 'Bring on the spring!  It can't get here soon enough!!". 

Truth be told, I don't have a real love for the winter, especially now that I no longer ski.  (Husband can't, due to injuries sustained during a near fatal motor vehicle accident.)  At least in my skiing days I had fun trips to look forward to and fun outfits to wear.  Ski clothes are seriously cute!  These days, though, winter and I have basically agreed to coexist.  In earlier stages of my life, I thought I would eventually end up in a warm all the time climate, but after spending a lot of time in Florida at all different times of the year, Husband and I have arrived at the conclusion that we are happier in an area that has four distinct seasons.  Were we crazy to choose the snowiest section of the nation for our forever home?  Perhaps.  But then we've both always tended to do all the things in a slightly over the top way.

In reality, snow days are not very different from any other day for me.  Other than causing me to need to be flexible with my travel days, snow does not have a major impact on how I spend the day.  (More on that in another post, but suffice it to say that I keep busy!)  Husband runs the local division of a company that never shuts down for weather, so unless we want to waste a precious day that he could be spending at our forever home, he goes to work if the roads are at all passable.  Communications via text with his various employees began at 4:00 am today, and he was out the door, as he is most days, well before 7:00 am.  He did arrive home a few hours early though, so that was nice. 

Later on this evening, once the snowfall has stopped, we'll head outside to clean off the cars, and probably throw a few snowballs.  And maybe, if the sidewalks are not all covered with salt yet, we'll take the dogs outside for a romp.  Two tiny white Maltese running around in the snow are a serious delight! 
Here's hoping that, with only fifteen days left until the first day of spring, we have seen our last snow day of the season.  I am more than ready for green grass and colorful flowers!
xo, Anita  

Saturday, February 14, 2015

{Vintage} Valentine Greetings

Few days on the calendar can polarize a couple the way that Valentine's Day can.  If they both feel the same about the day and how to celebrate it, great!  Lucky lovers, them.  But if one loves all things V-day while the other prefers to behave as if it is just like any other day, not so good. 

I conducted an informal survey earlier (as in I read posts on Facebook), and discovered that many of the people who oppose the holiday do so because of the whole ~ this holiday is greeting card industry created, I don't need them to tell me how and when to show my love ~ thing.

While I have heard this argument many times, and understand the premise, something in my brain was reminding me that this is not exactly true.  It's true that greeting card companies, florists, candy makers and the like have jumped on the Valentine's Day as the day to express your romantic love bandwagon, but they are not what gave February 14 it's designation as the day for lovers.

After hours of extensive research (just kidding; five minutes on Wikipedia), I've learned that "St. Valentine's Day began as a liturgical celebration of one or more early saints named Valentinus".  Further "the day was first associated with romantic love in the circle of Geoffrey Chaucer in the High Middle Ages, when the tradition of courtly love flourished".

In the late 18th century a limited number of valentines began to be produced, and by the early 19th century in England paper valentines became so popular that they began to be assembled in factories.  The United States saw the first mass production of valentines in 1847.  While this was a sign of the further commercialization of holidays to come, Valentine's Day was not a creation of the greetings cards business;  they expanded from creating greetings that acknowledged life events into holidays as a result of a widespread desire for all things hearts, flowers, and cupids covered in lace and contained in an envelope. 

The good news is that if I have convinced you that Valentine's Day is, after all, a day worth celebrating, it's not too late!  You're welcome.  While I strongly discourage the idea of going out to eat (unless you want to spend far too much time waiting for a table at any place that isn't booked until closing), you can find every single thing you need to create a romantic celebration at your local grocery store.  Though if yours does not also sell wine, and you partake, a second stop to pick up a lovely bottle of champagne is a great idea.  I suggest Rose'; sparkling pink bubbles in a glass are quite festive! 

(because, Liz.)
No matter how you decide to spend it, I wish you a beautiful day filled with love.
xo, Anita 

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Taking Down Christmas

Perhaps it was because New Year's Day was also put out the garbage day on my street, but none the less, I was a bit stunned to see several Christmas trees put out for pick up by early afternoon.  I was still in denial that our two weeks long vacation would be over in a few short days, so that sight was an unpleasant awakening for me. 

This coming weekend is the earliest that I would consider taking down my decorations, partially because some of my family celebrate Orthodox Christmas, which is today. 

Another reason is because I am one of those people who like to take my holidays one at a time, and prefer not to dine on my Thanksgiving turkey within view of a Christmas tree.  It seems to me that the season begins earlier every year!  However, if your Christmas lights have been up since early November, I can certainly understand tiring of them by New Year's Day.

Once the house is lit by the glow of Christmas, however, I find myself wondering if next year will be the one in which I break down and succumb to the trend that has the season beginning on the day after Halloween. 

In any event, I don't have to pack up this cute Peanuts book with the rest of the Christmas decorations; do you notice the hearts floating around Sally's head?  Valentine's Day is just around the corner! 

What about you; are you a fan of the more traditional decorating schedule, or the current trend?  Please share, I would love to read!

xo, Anita

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Seasons Change

Here in the Mid-Atlantic, As the calendar page flips to November, the leaves are falling from the trees and sound crisp underfoot.  The days are much shorter now that we have discarded daylight savings time, and the temperatures have dropped considerably.  After almost two months of a gentle, jacket free end to summer, fall has finally arrived. 

I never mind the final passing of summer very much though, because although carefree days spent outside are a thing of the past for now, there is much to look forward to in the coming months.  My creative self is making lists and plans like crazy!  Hand made holiday decorations and gifts are dancing around in my head, and narrowing down all the possibilities to a few things that I can do and do well is almost as fun for my right-brained analytical self as making them is for my artistic soul.

My favorite part of the holiday season, though, is the food.  I think that's why I enjoy November so much; it contains the holiday, here in America, that is all about family and food and fellowship.  And football!  My family has never been much for throwing a football around on Thanksgiving day, but that would be a fun tradition to add, I think.  Listening to the parade while I do all of my prep work, and the sounds of the football games on TV as the smell of the turkey fills the house are long standing traditions, but certainly leave room for a new one.  I feel the same way about the food; while there are certain traditional dishes that I make every year that we spend the holiday at home, I also like to add at least one new item to the menu.  It's very important to me to honor traditions, but equally important that we do not get completely bored by too much predictability. 

How about you, dear reader; in your holiday preparations do you stay with the traditional, shake it up with something completely new and different, or strike a balance between the two?  Please share, I would love to read!

xo, Anita