Monday, September 28, 2009

Yes, I love those "party's"

I know I'm considered part of the infamous "grammar police." And I know that not everyone is so picky about punctuation and spelling. But really - I saw a web site for a Halloween costume for adolescent/young teenage girls for a skimpy Dorothy (WOZ) costume that floored me. The costume, trashy though it may be, is not what startled me. It was the "comments" section.

Now I realize the web is considered an informal setting, and I do know that that site is not a professional one, but, oh my! I can't imagine that this is the way our kids are taught to write!

Its a great costume and really sexy. it makes me, a little chubby (not fat, just not skinny, normal basicly) look tottaly skinny its easy to move around in, and is just awesome. i love mine [...]i am siked for halloween cause i will look amazing! NEED TO GET THE RIGHT SIZE. Dont get it to small or to big. too small and you can't breath, to big and it jsut looks gross, i got mine a bit small but it looks amazing still/ i deffinetly recomend it.

I love this product! Dorothy has always been my favorite storybook character, and now i get to be her myself! i used this at a Halloween party, and the boys were checking me out! also its real comfy! the one problem- i have medium sized thighs and a big rear so the white made my thighs look a little big and the skirt emphasized my behind, which would have been fine except the fact that the teachers were there! oh well! no one else seemed to notice! but be warned... even if you're self conscious in this outfit, it still looks hott!

The Dorothy Costume is so cute and you get alot of people telling you how cute it is. But wear shorts if your a tall person!

I cant wait to wear it to all my Halloween party's!!

Please - PLEASE - someone tell me this is not the norm! It just makes me sick to my stomach. Have grammar, spelling, and punctuation gone out of style now? Are they still being taught in schools? Am I just an old fuddy-duddy? (Don't answer that last question to someone who just celebrated her 55th birthday!)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Two approaches

It’s been a little over a year since we got high-speed internet, and I still do not take it for granted. Every time I’m shopping on a web site, for instance, I hit the “see all” button and all the products pop up on the screen. I couldn’t do that with dial-up, which let me see a few objects at a time. When I pay a bill online, I appreciate my fast internet connection. When my daughter sends me pictures of the grandkids, I can receive them all without a problem. I am so thankful!

Of course, “being thankful” and “taking for granted” are mutually exclusive. If you have one, it’s pretty unlikely you have the other.

What other things have I not taken for granted since we moved out of the giant house in town into the small house in the country? The sound of birds, the ability to walk around without much traffic, our new soft mattress, having our first couch in a decade, the peace and quiet. Every day, I thank God I still have a wonderful job that I enjoy.

Ever analyzing the past, I realize that I took so much for granted in the old house. The big closet, the garage in the winter, the huge exercise room, my sewing room, extra rooms for guests, a 4-block walk to work, and the ability to step outside our front door and get the mail (we now go 1/2 a mile). It is true that we don’t realize what we have until it’s gone.

Going further back in my life, it was easy to take people for granted. I took it for granted I would have my sweet cousin Mike and my best friend Bernie for a longer time than they were allotted in years. I loved my Dad so much and was devastated when he died at age 64 (when I was 26). I didn’t take him for granted per se, thank God, but I took it for granted that he would always be here.

I took my body for granted in my younger years, its ability to physically do pretty much whatever I asked without pain. An ache in my right knee and a left ankle/heel with plantar fasciitis and who knows what else changed all that.

Part of the Journey to Simplicity is to encourage the “thankful for” and discourage the “for granted” feelings. At first, I was overcome with sadness and regret when I thought about the people and things I have had in my life whose presence I took for granted. But then I became just more determined to learn from that - and to appreciate everyone and everything I have now. I do not want to look back in years to come and regret a “take-for-granted” approach to my world that I might have had in 2009. I know some lessons we have to keep learning over and over, but I certainly hope this one sticks. It is a painful lesson, but I truly believe that mastering it is one step closer to a fulfilled life.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Sew Amazed!

I used to sew most of my own clothes. I started sewing in high school in Home Ec classes (do they even have them anymore?). Mom sewed simple dresses for my sister and me until we were old enough to sew ourselves. In 1989, the quilting bug hit and I tapered off fashion sewing and branched out into quilting. For many years, my former sewing machines, and later my present machine, mostly sat unused except for straight stitching for piecing quilts, an occasional embroidery for my uncle's handkerchiefs, and zig-zag for applique. Nothing difficult and nothing really creative - usually just simple straight stitching.

Now my quilting friend Sally has returned to sewing clothes again, and apparently having a wonderful time doing it. Her infectious enthusiasm, my ongoing disappointment with store-bought clothes quality, the lack of clothing choices in Maine, the frustration with ordering clothes on-line and their not fitting when I receive them (and the continual difficulty of successfully fitting my body) led me to think about getting back into sewing clothes myself. Yeah, it would be kind of fun to get back in the swing of things! Once I decided to do so, I knew I had to renew a working relationship with my sewing machine.

My machine is a New Home/Janome Memory Craft 8000. I can't remember the year I bought it (it was well before we moved to Maine) but I do remember it was expensive and close to top of the line at the time.

I've been taking the manual to work every day and studying it at lunch. I am flabbergasted! I had forgotten (or never known) that my machine can do so many things, so many stitches using so many feet. (For you non-seamstresses, the pressure foot holds the fabric down and different ones serve different functions.) My machine came with an assortment of feet, and through the years I bought more, yet I have hardly used most of them! I know nothing about most of them! I can't believe I have to learn all the wonderful things my machine can do - things I've never utilized for whatever reason. I have had the power all along to make anything in my imagination with this machine sitting here right in front of me. It's as if I had used an iPhone just to make telephone calls!

I think at some point in our lives we're all like my sewing machine. We can do so much more than we think, certainly more than we attempt. Our various talents and gifts (yes, everyone has them!) are lying dormant, just waiting to be called upon. Our accumulated wisdom is waiting to be put to use. Our life stories are waiting to be told to teach another generation. Our creativity is asleep. Opportunities for personal growth are wasted. We are either sitting in the corner unplugged, or are used minimally with neither artistry or challenge to enrich our lives and the lives of others.

I think that when I start up my machine and use all its features, I'll be reawakening something within myself also. Whether it's learning to fly on a plane, transcribing a very grueling dictation, passing my certification test, or mastering a difficult piece of music, I always appreciate another opportunity to smile and say to myself, "Wow! I actually did that!" Or, using Matt's favorite quote from the movie Santa Claus is Coming to Town: "I'm not such a loser after all!"

Friday, September 04, 2009

Chances and Choices

I’ll be turning 55 this month, and, as is common with me in the past few years, it’s time again to get introspective. I have been thinking about all my life, how my life has been intertwined with the lives of others, how my life’s progress has been determined by the choices I have made along the way, as well as chance circumstances that changed my course. Everyone talks about nature and nurture, and along those same lines I’d like to talk about chances and choices.

Of course, the odds of my being here at all were low. My parents had been married for 12 years and had given up (at least relatives had) on ever conceiving. Then, like a miracle, Mom became pregnant with me, and two years later, my sister was born. I was influenced by our neighborhood, our family church, and the school I attended. I was influenced by my dad’s interest in music and my mom’s ability to sew. Our annual family vacation trips instilled in me a love for history. All these experiences were basically out of my control; these were the circumstances that Life handed me in the beginning.

I made a choice one year to be a Candy Striper at Methodist Hospital. How little I realized that that decision would set my life on another course and spur my lifelong interest in the medical field - a choice that charted another course for my life. (When I went to work after I got married, I applied for an entry-level job with that hospital, and from that day on, I never had a job that was not in a hospital.)

I tried to go to college because it was what every “smart” kid was supposed to do, and it was something my parents wanted for me that they had never had. I only lasted one year at Lambuth College, and I just decided that college was not where I wanted to be.

Meanwhile, Ed James had been married for a short time, divorced, served in Vietnam, worked on his family’s farm, and had been in and out of Lambuth College so many times it seemed ridiculous. That one year I was there was one of the times Ed was there, too. The odds of our getting together were low. His family was wealthy; mine were not. He and his family were drinkers; we were teetotalers. He and his family smoked; we did not. He was not drawn to music or French or anything else I was interested in. He was crude, unorganized, and undependable. I already had a boyfriend back in Memphis. Yet --- Ed and I met and fell in love during that one year. If I had been there the year before, we would not have met. If I had been there the year after, we would not have met. That one year was the pivotal time.

Of course, the most intriguing choice in my life was our decision to move from Tennessee to Maine in 1996. We told Rachel, age 18 when we moved, that she would be going to the University of Maine, and Matt, who was 13 when we moved, was given no choice in the matter either. What has become of that move? Rachel went into teaching, fell in love with Matt’s 7th grade science teacher, and got married. Several years later, Matt fell in love with another University of Maine student and got married. Their spouses were native Mainers who had never been to Tennessee, had no reason to visit Tennessee, and undoubtedly never would have met our kids, had we stayed in Tennessee. Rachel at the time was not happy at all about the move to Maine, understandably. She had friends and a boyfriend and was not anxious to uproot her life for the unknown. “What if it’s destiny, and your future husband is waiting for you in Maine?” I asked her. She said, “It would be my luck that his mom in Maine is telling him that his future wife is in Tennessee and we’ll just pass each other on the interstate.”

Now we have 2 granddaughters born of our daughter’s marriage, who never would have existed had we stayed in Tennessee. Our choice to move has forever changed the lives of our children.

Our choice to move to Ellsworth put us right in the perfect location for our daughter to meet her husband (who taught in the Ellsworth school system, where she was student teaching). It also put me 4 blocks from the local hospital which just happened to have an opening for a medical transcriptionist the first month we were here. I had finally found my calling - the job that would use all my gifts and bring me so much satisfaction - 13 years and counting.

These are just the major life choices/chances. My life has also been enhanced by seemingly insignificant interactions that have changed me a great deal - the young lady in the church choir who got me interested in quilting, the older lady in our rural church in Tennessee who taught me all about sourdough starter, the man playing a Celtic harp in a local store at Christmas one year who got me wanting to learn harp, and other people who were just minimally involved in my life but who played a major role because they helped enlarge the scope and passions of my life.

Do you ever wonder what your life would have been like if choices and chances like these had been different? I can see the threads in my life branching off just like a family tree, with each instance/choice/chance encounter giving off its own thread in a new direction, each path in life arising from the one before it - all make up the person I am today - my likes and dislikes, my achievements and failures, my joys and my regrets, my politics, my faith, my hobbies, my memories from the past and my hopes and dreams for the future.

I’m so glad things turned out the way they did. I must not rest in contentment, though. Sometimes when you get settled in life, you think the tree has stopped branching. You build your nest and think things will always be the same. Not so. The tree keeps growing, the threads keep intertwining, and life continually surprises. The choices we made years ago are still coming to fruition, and the chance encounter we have tomorrow may just change our lives in ways we never could have imagined.