Daily Affirmation

The best things in life are free.
The second best are very expensive.
- Coco Chanel

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Back to School...

Work has started up again.  I'm kind of glad (for the regular paycheck), but those 60 days off were sure fun.  I never thought I'd cram as much good stuff into those 2 months as I did, but that just goes to show you the power of determination.

Now that I'm trying to get back into some kind of routine, I'm having a hard time remembering how I found time to shower, cook, and do all of the little errands that need doing every day.  It'll come to me, I'm sure, but I'm still feeling random and haphazard.  Of course, this first week there was a lot of catching up to do.  I find that when people know you're coming back, those who were sort of taking over for you tend to slack waaaay back on doing your end of things.  Consequently, there was a boatload of backlogged stuff in my mailbox to trudge through.  New rules and programs to figure out.  And hmmmm... everyone was too busy to answer many questions, so I had to slug it out pretty much on my own.  That's ok - more hours for me, and that's always a good thing.

A couple of weeks ago I had a little (felt big, but it was really kind of little) flareup with my arthritis.  My knee swelled up and that always scares me.  I tried to keep it under control with exercise, but finally had to pump up the steroids to make it go away.  So I'm slowly coming back down again.  That, coupled with the excess of infections I've had this past year finally made me realize that I need to find some new ideas.  Some better solutions.

One thing that came to mind (actually it hit me from several angles and different people all at the same time) was essential oils.  A friend of mine has used them with great success controlling her chronic illness.  I talked to a couple of friends who were also swearing by them, and then I was invited to a morning class to learn more about what they were and what they can do.  It would take too long to go into it here, but if you're interested, visit this website and read more about them.

I placed an order, and could hardly wait for everything to arrive.  FINALLY yesterday it all came.  Last night our room smelled like a spa, because I was rubbing in a pretty healthy combination of all kinds of oils, from peppermint, to geranium, to frankincense, to oregano, to lemon, and lavender.  And oh yes, there are so many more...  Normally, I take my "big gun" meds like the Enbrel and prednisone regularly, and I've still needed to take 3 Advil and 1 Excedrin twice a day just to fend of swelling and aches.  Last night I rubbed a drop or two of each type of oil recommended for RA (yes, there is a reference book available that includes just about any ailment or complaint you can think of) on each of my problematic areas: left wrist, left pointer finger, left knee, right ankle.  Now, normally I wake up stiff and sore and achey anyway, and I just have to take the morning dose of Advil and Excedrin to make it fade away.  But last night I didn't take Advil or Excedrin, fully expecting to wake up about 3am in pain.  But I didn't.  I slept a FULL 6 HOURS without waking once, (yes, I also used a combination of oils that promote sweet sleep and relaxation) and when I did wake up I was NOT sore or achey in the slightest.  And I haven't had any Advil or Excedrin all day again.

This is huge.  If these oils work this well all the time, I could conceivably cut way back on the prednisone too.  Who knows - maybe even the Enbrel eventually.  The sky's the limit, I say.  I'm super stoked.  The only drawback that I could see was that while I did all of that great sleeping I had a really vivid dream about an old college boyfriend who (in my dream) invited me to a dance, and I was super excited and really looked great, but then he told me he was marrying this girl named Tiffany.  I just KNEW he still had feelings for me, but he was marrying Tiffany, and he showed me her picture in a yearbook that had holograms on each page that were interactive.  It was a really cool yearbook, but I was so sad that he was marrying Tiffany.  I woke up and felt like I'd just cheated on my husband.  I have no idea what this dream means.  I will see if I have weird dreams again while using my relaxing oils.  Because if they cause me to have wild dreams, maybe they're not so relaxing.  But I'm sure it was a fluke.  I mean, I wasn't disappointed to wake up and see my husband there next to me, so I'm sure everything is fine.  Right?  Never mind... forget I said anything...

But I will keep you informed about these oils.  I hate getting sick, I hate not feeling well, I hate being AFRAID that I'll get sick.  If these do their job, it's going to really make me feel more enthusiastic about life in general.  And since I'm usually pretty enthusiastic in general, this could lead to singing and dancing.  Entertainment for all.  I've always been a sucker for anything holistic, but this is one of the rare times I've actually had something work so well, so stay tuned.  Maybe I've found my miracle.

In other news, the weather has turned cooler the past couple of days.  At night when we've been out cycling, you can feel the chill in the air.  It feels like Autumn, and pumpkins, and baking.  Never mind that tomorrow is supposed to ratchet back up into the 90s.  Eventually it has to cool off.  It just does it slowly in California.  In another week, I'll be bugging L to get out the Halloween paraphernalia and get to the decorating.  I seem to remember him promising to put up the lighted spooky arch this year, and I'm going to hold him to it.

Oh, and I know I mentioned our CleanScreenMagic.com website on my post, but I'd jumped the gun a bit.  The shopping cart wasn't functional at that time.  But it's working now!!  The mister successfully bought something from himself the other night.  Can you imagine our excitement to see our money going from PayPal into our CleanScreen account?  It's heady, I tell you.  Now it will be really exciting to see other people's money doing the same thing.  If you like us on Facebook, there's even a discount coupon you can use.  And I think you don't even have to like us - you can just use the coupon.   You're welcome.  We like to sweeten the pot.

It's been a good day.  It's been a good first week back to work.  Routine is good - at least it is for me.  I think I've run wild in the summer sun just long enough to welcome a bit of discipline back into my life.  And I'm definitely welcoming back that paycheck.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

The Grill Master Cometh to My House

I've been feeling a little down and out with a cough that just won't leave.  You know the type: dry cough that keeps you up at night and wakes you from a sound sleep.  I could feel it coming on last week, and so I hope I'm nearing the end of it.  What good timing, then, for my friend Olga, and her two daughters Gabby and Monique, to come over for a swim and some dinner.  Cheered me right up.  Dinner, by the way, was all provided by Monique.  I didn't have to lift one little finger, other than to run to Trader Joe's for some sparkling lemonade that I know the girls love.

Monique has a little specialty - she is a grill master.  She'd been talking about her grilled turkey burgers the last time we'd all gotten together, so when Olga called to arrange a night out, Monique texted me asking why didn't we ALL get together and she would do the dinner.  Sweet.  I even checked back with her yesterday to see what she wanted me to get, and was told "Nothing."  They were bringing the meat, a salad, chips, and dessert.  What could be easier than that?  For me, anyway...

It was a hot afternoon, and the girls wanted to jump in the pool and cool off.  So Olga and I sat in the shade catching up while the girls did a little swimming.  Her girls are so natural and easy to be around that even after their swim we still sat there talking.  Gabby has a new phone, and she was busy fooling around with it - texting friends, sending her mother (who was sitting across from her) 10 text messages in a row - and basically going on and on about the group One Direction.  A total 13 year old.  Monique is 20 and starting her 3rd year of college in criminal justice.  This girl is going to be a one woman war on crime one day.  I pity the fool who has to go up against her.  Olga has done a good job with these two.  I can't imagine two girls more appreciative or unspoiled.  They are a joy to hang out with - although it's still a mystery to me why they'd want to hang out with ME!  Don't question a gift, I say.

When we got back to the house, we sprawled around the living room and watched the tail end of "We Bought A Zoo" on HBO.  We may have each eaten one of the rainbow cupcakes that Monique had made.  Delectable, with a surprising layered rainbow cake - another of her little surprise specialties.  Then Mo got to working on the turkey burgers.  Can I just say that my kitchen smelled amazing?  She had made a magic little mixture of ground turkey, spinach, garlic, and spices, and I could hardly wait to cook them.  Finally, LaMar rolled in from work and we fired up the grill so Mo could work her dinnertime miracle.

We all sat around the patio and watched Monique do her thing with the BBQ.  She certainly knows her way around a grill, and wanted no help from anyone.  Happy to oblige, as always...  We decided to eat inside, as it was getting cool out on the patio.  (Autumn is coming - I can feel it!)  L sat next to Gabby, and got the full on effect of talking to a 13 year old girl.  I have to say he did pretty well, considering he'd never experienced anything like it before.  He has always been a little bit girl-challenged, since they tend to actually want to talk (and talk...), but Gabby brought it to a whole new level.  The on and on and on about her favorite boy band, which one was the cutest, his favorite food, his birthday... you get the picture.  I was at the other end of the table, being treated to the witticisms of Monique.  It's been a while since we've had such a lively dinner table, and I loved it.

Olga and I started out as work-mates, our cubicles right next to each other.  But as we would talk every day, sharing problems and our personal lives, we became friends.  We've shared many a lunch hour, and many a French's Bakery cookie in the years we worked in that office.  I was afraid that we wouldn't see each other again after we went our separate directions, but happily, we've stayed in contact.  Every couple of months we try to get together for dinner, since we only live 20-30 minutes away from each other.  The last time we got together, we had dinner here and she brought the girls.  We had such a good time with them that it surprised me.

It surprised me that the girls weren't bored.  They were engaged, and having fun.  They were happy with everything we did.  They like being with their mom.  It brought back such happy memories of how much fun I used to have with my kids, just hanging out.  And so when Olga called last week to arrange a time to meet for dinner, it was a pleasant surprise to have Monique suggest we ALL get together again. 

She was excited to show off her grilling skills.  It was a really fun evening, but I also learned that friends and family can come in a variety of personalities and ages.  I'm friends with Olga, but I have to say that Monique has become a friend too.  A really fun friend who makes me laugh.  A beautiful young woman who has just begun making some important decisions in her life.  A smart, savvy girl who has already had to make some tough choices, and knows how to choose well.  She's been lucky - she has a great mom to help her.  But she also has The Stuff - that elusive quality not possessed by everyone that helps you rise above any problem you face.  She certainly does have it, and in abundance, lucky girl.

Gabby looks to be following in the same path.  I've seen her go from the lazy little girl who used to do anything to get out of homework, to the giggly, smart 8th grader who is in advanced Math and Language Arts classes.  She also has the thickest, most gorgeous head of hair I've ever seen.  Jealous...

Oh yes, Olga has definitely earned her own spot in heaven with the sweet mothering job she's done so far.  She is definitely number one with Gabby and Monique.  I feel so lucky that I've kept a good friend, gained another with Monique, and it will hopefully continue on with Gabby.  Three awesome girls.  Poor L started out not knowing what to do with girls.  The chatter was frustrating to him.  The constant feedback and talk of feelings were scary.  But slowly, thanks to Katie as the original pioneer and the other wonderful DILs, granddaughters, and friends that have followed, he's being won over to the awesomeness of girl company.  He'll still need to steal away for his own sounds of silence from time to time, but he's realizing that a gaggle of girls is no reason to run.  They can give pro quality shoulder massages, give the sweetest hugs,  and every once in awhile you discover one that makes the perfect turkey burger.  Thanks, Monique, Olga, and Gabby for another perfect evening.

PS: L and I have just started a little web company selling computer and device screen cleaners, keyboard cleaner, and microfiber cloths: cleanscreenmagic.com   This is not only a shameless plug (it's really good stuff - try it!  No alcohol) but when you visit the website, notice the beautiful hands that are used in the demo pictures.  They're Olga's.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Happy Birthday To Me

We should be allowed to have birthday weekends at least once a quarter.  There's nothing like having a whole weekend devoted to me, myself, moi - it just brings a silly smile to my face with all the anticipation.  And I have to add that having someone who totally planned everything helped make it the wondrous time that it was.  I didn't have to think about one single detail, other than what to pack.

We got out of Dodge at about 1pm to beat the traffic that heads south to San Diego every Friday.  As we got further and further south we saw the ocean to the right with the sun sparkling on it.  Foamy white waves and seagulls flying.  We were actually headed to La Jolla, which is a little bit north of San Diego.  We pulled into a Sheraton that was so well hidden from view you would never guess it was there unless you were following Siri's directions on your GPS.  It was kind of an older hotel, and it had a bungalow feel to it.  All of the windows in each room were covered by wooden shutters, encouraging that beachy vibe.  And - this is kind of huge - the windows actually opened to the breeze.  Unfortunately, it was still pretty warm so we kept them closed with the A/C on.  But next time... nothing like cool ocean breezes through an open window.

The first thing we did was change into our bathing suits and go hang out by the pool.  The water was comfortable, the air was warm, and there were lounges in the shade.  We ordered up a little poolside snack of chips, guacamole, and salsa, plus a couple of raspberry smoothies.  Excellent start.  We noshed, and talked, and finally dozed in the warm shade of the palm trees that surrounded the pool.  Soon enough, it was time to go in, freshen up, and get to our dinner spot.  L had chosen a little place called Prep Kitchen.  All of the seating was al fresco, with little twinkling white lights everywhere.  Our waiter was friendly and knowledgable - he knew everything on the menu, and directed us to our choices.  I had a pasta dish - locally caught shrimp, a pesto sauce, a little bite of chile, and cherry tomatoes.  So much flavor.  So delicious.  For dessert: plum upside down cake topped with a ginger gelato.  Amazing.

The air was warm and balmy, and our tummies were full, so we decided to walk along the street for a bit after dinner.  So many people out and about in various restaurants and eateries, and I thought to myself: "How nice of them all to come out and celebrate my birthday with me..."  Because I'm sure they were, right?  Beautiful dinner, gorgeous night.  We strolled along, my man and I, enjoying the night air, watching people, taking in the sights of this lovely community.

When we got back to the hotel, L presented me with a gift: a KindleFire tablet.  Now my books will be lit up, I can access all of you on the Internet, check my email, and who knows what else!  So excited about this...

On Saturday morning, we took our time getting ready to go.  I received calls from the kids, as well as fielded all of the kind birthday wishes on Facebook and via text from various friends, including y'all.  What a nice way to begin the day!  As I said, we should be able to do this more than once a year.  I'll work on that...

Saturday was a little cooler than the day before.  Perfect!  We were having brunch at a local favorite called The Cottage.  Best. Breakfast. Ever.  L had a Denver omelette that rocked, and I had (what else?) Lemon Ricotta Pancakes with blueberries.  Many of you may know what a sucker I am for all things lemon.  The lemon blueberry pancakes we had in Colorado at Toast were a close second to these, but I have to say that these were the BEST I've ever had.  Perfect amount of lemony goodness to balance with the blueberries.  I was in lemon heaven.  They were so good it was almost like an out of body experience.  Soooo much deliciousness.  Ok - enough about lemon pancakes...

We drove around La Jolla for awhile, stopping here and there at various beaches to get out and watch the waves, the people, the various little tide pools and coves.  L mentioned that one of the possibilities he had considered was a kayak tour of some caves and coves along the coast.  That would have been fun, but we'd have needed an extra day for that, so maybe next time.  Another idea he'd had was to attend the Roar and Snore at the San Diego Wild Park.  Apparently, you sleep in tents (I'm sure in an enclosed area), and all around you are the lions and other wild life that live there.  You try to snore, while they roar.  Another time for sure.  This weekend was more about comfort. 

We continued to drive north along El Camino Real until it ended in Capistrano, I think, and then we found our way to Coast Highway.  On again through San Clemente, Dana Point, Laguna Beach.  And there we got stuck by gridlock in the form of tourists.  We headed inland at that point, and just as we got almost to Tustin, L casually said "Do you mind if we stop at the bike shop and pick you out a new bike?"  I was not expecting that.  Too much goodness in one day.  I'd been wanting a new bike, but didn't NEED one.  So we stopped.  Soooo excited.  I am now the proud owner of a bike with a larger wheel diameter and 21 gears!  I can go fast with the big kids now.  We've already improved our per mile time by at least 30 seconds, and in some places over a minute.  It's such an awesome bike - it even has these shocks to cushion the ride.  Gotta love that.

We got home, unpacked, put that gorgeous bike away, and got the KindleFire all registered and charged up.  And at dinner time, we whisked away to The Olive Pit for some good Greek food to end the day with.  So perfect.

If I had to turn 60 (and I think I had to) it was wonderful to have my party be like this last weekend was.  I'm not one for large crowds and noisy parties.  I'm not high on dressing up to go out for dinner.  What I love best is just a quiet evening out with the hubs, jeans, t-shirt and flip flops, some great food - and if it can all be outside surrounded by twinkling lights and a beach, even better.  L did a great job anticipating what I would enjoy most.  His birthday is in November.  Game on.

I start back to work next week.  8 more days of total freedom.  My time off really did zoom by, and I want to enjoy every last drop of it.  I wouldn't mind having one more beach day, sitting in the sun and watching the dolphins swimming by.  Maybe I'll give myself a little spa day.  Katie sent me this picture of Hayden doing her best imitation of relaxing like Mommy.  She's got her towel, she's got her pearls, and she's got sliced cucumber (ends) to de-puff her eyes.  I'm taking notes.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Countdown To 60

It's the birthday countdown.  Mysterious packages have been arriving.  L has been researching plans and making arrangements.  The hotel and dining sites have been chosen.  I'm assured it's all going to be casual - I'm not a black dress and pearls girl.  At all.  I never thought I'd be excited to turn such a hellacious age as 60, but I kind of am. 

Today was a beautiful day.  A good friend arranged a day at the beach with me, complete with lunch.  Traffic was light, the weather was scorching, so it was good to head in a coastal direction.  We stopped first at Gina's Pizza for a slice of pizza and their pasta salad with ranch dressing.  Katie and I used to get that back in the day, so it brought back all kinds of fond memories.  We filled up cups of icy Diet Coke, and off we went.  Oh - and cookies.  Can't forget about the fresh baked snickerdoodles.  I love those things...

Almost no one was on the beach.  School has started, people are back to work.  We found a great parking place and hauled our crap across the sand.  Full view of the water, and a short walk to it.  Sue and I have no trouble at all commencing to gab.  It was a gorgeous day, so we slathered on the sunscreen, and got to it.  We saw a ton of dolphins swimming parallel to our beach.  Sue thought they were sharks, but I think they were dolphin.  So beautiful... And they kept coming up to breathe.  Ergo, dolphin, right?  Anyway, they were great fun to spot and watch.  Lots of surfers in the water too.

We ate our good not-so-little-lunch, and talked the afternoon away.  I don't know what it is: the company of a good friend, the sun sparkling off the water, the sound of the waves rushing in and out, or all of the above, but I wondered why we hadn't done this more all during the summer.  Sue has a large family, and she's busy going here and there with them, but really - we needed to do this a lot.  I actually don't mind sitting on the beach even on a cloudy day, just watching the water.  So soothing.

Too soon it was time to go back to real life and responsibility, but what a lovely, lovely afternoon it was.  It was just the thing today.  Now tomorrow, L and I head south to La Jolla for our own private birthday celebration.  I am as in the dark as you are about the plans, but I will fill you in when I return.  I'm excited.  It's been a good year - I've lost lots of weight, cut my hair,  I've gotten some travel in, met a new little member of the family, spent time and made memories with the existing ones, and reconnected with some lovely ladies .  Time will tell what the next few decades will bring.  Probably a little of everything.  Tears mixed in with joy.  Whatever we all face, I've got my True Companion by my side, good friends to share it all with, and adventures to live.  Let the countdown commence...

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