Archive for the ‘best friends’ Category

This past January my friend Di and I had plans for a lunch.

Winter in New England can be very cold. So everyone has to bundle up.

Kind of weird because it seems like the entire Northeast female population is wearing the same fluffy black coat. The ones that can make a person sort of look like a sausage about to burst out of its waxy looking casing.

Both of us have gained weight. Both of us are little women. Like five feet tall.

We hop into my car, try to get situated so we can belt ourselves in and be on our merry way.

Well, there we were. Twisting, turning and almost grunting trying to get comfortable. Picture, if you will, worm larvae. The puffy jackets don’t help.

We came to this stunning conclusion.

Having extra pounds is just downright uncomfortable.

That is really what it comes down to, isn’t it?

I am uncomfortable.

Not body shaming myself or anyone else. I don’t think we should all look like anorexic models. I don’t want to go on crazy diets. Just want to be at the normal, healthy weight I’m supposed to be.

I’m not comfortable in my clothes because they no longer fit properly. I have clothes I cannot wear. I’m not comfortable passing a mirror (clad or not), catching a glimpse and gasping out loud, “Good God!” I’m not comfortable looking at photographs that show the obvious gain.

A lot of people who are overweight are uncomfortable.

In bathing suits. Shopping for clothes. Always leaning toward the stretchy pants. Self conscious.

I recently saw a posting on a page for a reunion at my high school.

A woman said she ran into another gal (did not name her) and asked if she was going to attend the reunion.

The reply was, “No, not looking like this.”

The woman had gained a lot of weight since high school. So she was going to miss this fabulous opportunity to meet with old friends.

Because she was uncomfortable with herself.

I felt really bad when I read that. I think she absolutely should have gone to the reunion. No one cares about her weight gain.

But I understood how she felt.

I weigh more than I ever have in my life. Except for pregnancies.

Never really bounced up and down with weight but in later years I always picked up a few extra pounds on summer home visits. Usually I dropped those within the first two weeks of my return. Getting busy and back to a routine. Shed the suckers without blinking an eye.

This past summer was no different. There was the usual flurry of activity that happens. Graduation party, birthday parties and nights out at restaurants. Eating all of my favorite foods. The veal parms and the fried clams. Steamers dripping with butter and Casserta’s Pizza. Four road trips with food on the fly.

So I picked up the usual few pounds.

When we returned back home, after seeing the kid off to university, I figured I would drop the additional weight.

It didn’t happen this time.

I returned to a different house and country with no set or usual routine. I had an empty nest. Husband working all day. I didn’t know anyone.

Days and weeks passed. I didn’t lose a pound.

Then on November 6th I quit smoking.

Went home for the Christmas holidays. I don’t know a soul who actually loses weight during that time. I was no exception.

So, what to do?

I figure if I can quit smoking I can do anything.

Have to give a shout out to my brother. He inspired me in a few different ways over the holidays.

So when I arrived back home from the airport on February 7th I hopped on the scale. Hopped right off and documented that number which was at an all time high. It’s probably not even the real number. I call it the air travel weight. Lots of bread and junk.

But I documented it just the same.

I used the Fitbit app on my phone. Like I used an app for smoking cessation.

It’s me that is going to do the hard work but I like to see graphs, progress and encouraging messages.

It comes down to this. It’s all about what I eat. And how much.

I do walk at least an hour a day. But that is because I want to be outside and doing something.

My point is that even if I never left the house or lifted a finger I should be able to lose weight. By being aware of every morsel that I eat.

It can be frustrating. Sometimes it seems there is no rhyme or reason to a gain, loss or plateau during the process.

But today when I stepped on the scale it was a solid ten pound (and a few ounces) loss. Finally the scales have tipped in my favor. I have fifteen more to lose.

Some of you reading this might also be feeling a bit uncomfortable.

You can find comfort.

And you can start today.

Hop on the scale. Write down that number. Get a Fitbit. Set a goal. Challenge a friend. Track your progress. Reward yourself. Document everything that goes into your mouth.

You will absolutely get results.

That’s all there is to it.

You can do this.

Be comfortable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I was at a party yesterday. My best friend’s daughter graduated with an engineering degree. So proud of her!

So there was lots to celebrate.

And then there was this.

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Wine glass markers.

My friend Jenny said she tried something similar at her son’s party but it didn’t work so well with younger folks. And when my niece and nephew are visiting my mom’s house I always see their names printed with a black sharpie on the plastic cups.

But I never thought about it on wine glasses. Not sure why.

Pure genius.

This from the mouth of a woman who once thought wine charms were so very clever.

It was a new age. No longer did we have to compare shades of lipstick on the rim of the glass to figure out which glass was ours.

But the reality is that people forget which wine charm they had. That could have something to do with wine consumption but I would also add age as a factor. Most of the women I share wine with are “of a certain age.”

It goes something like this.

Grab a glass and pick out a cutesy charm. Usually it’s a theme. Like fruits. Or USA symbols. Or flowers.

Drink. Set glass down. Chat. Go to bathroom. Have a snack.

And then try and remember which charm is yours.

“Hey, am I the Statue of Liberty?”

Or “Am I the American flag?”

“Who’s the Liberty Bell?”

By the end of the evening it’s, “Oh, who cares? I think I’m the Liberty Bell.”

Share and share alike.

You just hope that all goes well and that no one has mono.

But these wine markers?

Pure genius.

 

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My Mac died in Malaysia but was revived once I brought it to the Providence Apple Store.

Just like Lazarus.

Sadly, it died again two weeks later. So I am at a loss.

But thanks to us being an Apple family my daughter is letting me use hers to write this post.

I write about life. And I write about death.

I am home now. Visiting Mom and family for the summer in Rhode Island.

Read three obituaries in the last week. I either knew the person or knew the family of the person. It’s a small state. The place where I spent my formative years.

If I read the obituaries in Dallas (lived there twelve years) I would not know the folks. Sure, there would be the odd, unexpected death of someone in the community that I would know. But it would not be the norm.

I lived in Southern California for quite a few years. Same. Wouldn’t know a soul in the obits.

But once you come back home. Well, that’s different.  You know everybody. Especially when you grew up in a state that has a population of one million.

Yes, I once was one in a million. #Truth.

I was attending the funeral of my best friend’s father-in-law yesterday. He was ninety years old. A lovely man who led a truly wonderful life. Nine children and twenty-four grandchildren. Also great grand children in the mix. A family man. A faith filled man. A community man.

I stood outside the Portuguese church waiting for the doors to open. I was told we couldn’t enter because there was another funeral taking place.

Standing with others who were also waiting to fill the pews for the next funeral Mass.

The doors of the church finally opened.

There was a hearse outside on the street with its doors open ready to receive the blessed remains.

I spied a teddy bear in the back of the hearse. But I was still not prepared for what I saw next.

The smallest coffin I have ever seen came out of the church doors. It only required four pall bearers. I almost gasped. My throat closed. I looked at another couple who was also waiting to go into the church. And I could only glance at them and whisper, “Oh, God!”

Watching the young mother broke my heart.

The mourners of the young child left and the mourners of the old man entered the church.

The whole stinking process is sad.

It made me think.

The loss of a beloved father. No matter how old.

But still. A feeling of gratefulness.

Because his death was one of the best scenarios.

He left this world.

After serving his country.

Meeting and marrying the love of his life.

Bringing eight fabulous sons and a daughter into the world.

Starting his own business.

Being a community member.

Involved in his parish.

Caring about others.

I left the funeral service with sadness because I understand what it means to lose a father.

But I also left with an appreciation of a life well lived. And I sort of felt okay.

Not everyone has the same opportunity. For whatever reason.

Bless us all.

 

 

 

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A childhood memory popped into my head. Made me laugh.

My best friend, Diane and I were just little kids and sitting under a tree in front of her neighbor’s house across the street.

Portuguese folks lived there. Not unusual in our town.

We had twigs in our hands and we waved them around like they were cigarettes. And spoke animatedly in Portuguese while we “smoked.”  Just nattered on and on in front of this house.

We probably only knew three words or phrases in Portuguese.

Cale a boca. Shut your mouth. We pronounced it like collabuca.

Va’ para casa. Go home. Our pronunciation was Vapadagaza.

Maybe a couple of others.

I’m sure there was a lot of gibberish filler under the tree that day.

Everyone had a parent who smoked back then. But I do not remember the Portuguese moms ever smoking. So I’m not sure where we picked up that scenario.

This memory made me smile for a few reasons.

Because we are still best friends and love each other dearly.

Because our kids are friends.

Because we were a couple of goofballs.

Because I can actually remember something so clearly after forty two years.

Sadly, neither one of us ever learned Portuguese. A pity since we had such promise! 🙂 

Have a lovely weekend. I hope you all remember something that will make you laugh or smile. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s that time of year. When we spend, spend and then spend some more. Money not time.

The pressure is on!

Stores and businesses prepare for this onslaught all year-long. Everywhere. And not just in Christian majority countries. It’s for everyone! Christmas is a cash cow, in many places around the world, leading one to believe that money might, in fact, be God.

It really has me thinking. Not just about  spending unnecessarily for gifts that may or may not really be appreciated. But also about what is a good gift.

This is what I came up with during my scorching of brain cells on the matter.

A gift should be thoughtful. It could be simple. Sentimental. Desired. Meaningful. It should be something that the recipient will actually remember, years later, where it came from and the feelings it elicited.

I think those are the best kind of gifts. I have received a few special gifts that I will always remember.

One was on a Christmas morning. It was after my beloved grandmother had died. When I opened the present from my mother it contained my grandmother’s wedding ring and her watch. Still in the original box. I cried buckets. My mom said that she didn’t think anyone would appreciate it more.

My Nana did not have much money. Not a lot of jewelry or anything by way of material goods. To feel the wedding ring that she wore on her hand for over sixty years just really, really touched me. It is so worn that it looks like it could snap in half.

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ring

The most recent gift I received was from my childhood friend who lives in Massachusetts. She sent me a birthday card with pressed, colorful maple leaves. So I could sort of experience a New England autumn while I am in Malaysia. See, she had to think of me when she was out searching for the perfect leaves. I was on her mind. And she thought about what I could be missing from home.

leaves

She is also the one who gave me simple wind chimes when I moved from my home state back in 1994. Said that I could think of her when I heard them.

I have also been witness to many gift givings. And the ones that always stand out in my mind are the ones that were full of meaning or sentimentality. Not a brand new car or diamond ring. Not a new laptop or phone.

And there are also thoughtful ways to give these gifts. When we were young we had a family friend who was very ill with hepatitis. So very sick. I remember my mom making up a basket of individual, wrapped presents for him. So that he would have something to look forward to each day.

When my dad first arrived in the States he lived with his uncle for about ten years. Many years later, on my Dad’s 80th birthday, his cousin Kathy presented him with his army belt that she found in the basement of her house. He probably hadn’t seen it in fifty years.

That same day, at Dad’s party, I turned around and saw my Uncle Jim in the doorway. I nearly fell down with shock. He had told me he couldn’t fly in for the party because he was teaching a class. He said that he later thought about it and said, “I’ve known my brother-in-law forever. There is no way I can miss this guy’s 80th birthday.” And he booked the airline ticket.

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Jim and Patsy

There are many other examples of wonderful gifts. Of ways to give them. I could write all day. I guess my advice to all during this holiday season would be to really reflect on some of the best gifts you’ve received in the past.  And do they shore up with your present?

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It’s September 11th and it is hard for so many not to remember that day. I remember as if it were yesterday.

We were emotional. Like every other aching American. We also had other worries. Whether there would be repercussions because of my husband’s first name. Because his mother, who was visiting us at the time, wore a hijab. We were afraid to take her to the milk store. Maybe he wouldn’t get a new job. And on and on.

Anyway, that’s not why I am writing. I could write pages and pages about that time. I prefer not to go on about it now. But I do want to share one memory.

I remember a telephone conversation with my mother. About two days after the tragedy. When I was staring at empty skies from my backyard patio.

She told me that my beloved grandmother in Rhode Island had taken a turn for the worse. That she might not make it.

I cried. Because I loved my grandmother so much. And also because I was afraid to get on a plane. The thought absolutely terrified me. I confessed this fear to my mother. She replied, “Oh honey, I totally understand. And Nana would understand.”

I cried even harder.

That’s the thing I love about my family. They dole out the guilt in small doses. Like any family. But not when it comes to the big stuff. They pick you up.

My husband saw me crying. I told him why.

He looked at me and immediately said, “I will drive you to Rhode Island.”

It was 1,800 miles away.

There are moments that I really love him. Like my heart is full. And then there are moments that I really love him. Like my heart will burst. That was one of those moments.

One sentence.

Not because he said those words. But because he meant them. Because he knew how much it would mean to me. Not him. Me.

Nana rallied and we did not need to make that trip. But when she died in November I was able to attend the wake and funeral. Because my husband felt that we needed to be with my family for Thanksgiving and Christmas that year. He had made the reservations.

So, I didn’t ever need that ride to Rhode Island. But I won’t ever forget that I had a ride if I needed it.

For our twenty-fifth anniversary he wanted to get me a new ring. A piece of jewelry. I told him no. I wouldn’t appreciate it. I didn’t need another piece of jewelry.

We are coming up on our twenty-seventh anniversary and he’ll be starting again. And I will tell him no.

What I want is what I already have. A heart that sometimes feels like it will burst. Because of those very moments.That is what I appreciate.

And maybe one day he will realize that, as faulty as my memory can be, there are just some things that I will never, ever forget.

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I attended a school meeting yesterday. The new head of school was introducing some of the faculty and also telling us a little bit about herself.

She worked in Saudi Arabia for thirty years. She and her husband were educators. About eight years ago her husband had open heart surgery. He did not make it through the surgery. She said she did not lose just her colleague, husband, and father of her children that day. But also her very best friend.

Of course, my eyes filled up. I really felt her words.  A reminder to enjoy as many moments as I can with my husband. I would be lost without him.

The next thing she relayed was a story about her son. She and her husband had adopted two children from Taiwan. When her boy was about three years old he piped up from the back seat of the car, “I don’t look like everyone else.”

She told him that he will meet many people with different skin colors, different shaped eyes, and different sizes. None of these things really matter. She said, “It’s what’s here.” And she put her hand to her heart. “It’s what’s in the heart.”

Of course, my eyes filled up. I really felt her words. Another reminder of what is truly important. What is in a person’s heart.

Sure, she talked about many other things.

But the two things that I walked away with were invaluable. I wish all meetings were like that.

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