Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Good-bye to 2013

2013 was one wild roller-coaster ride of a year. There were some good things, some bad things, and some terrible things.  All in all, I am glad this year is over, even though I know that the coming year is also going to be very challenging.

Pets – This was a very rough year for us in regards to our furry kids.  I had three of them go to the rainbow bridge.  They were all old and had health problems, but still my heart was broken over and over again. My border collie, Buddy, was 12. My terrier mix pound puppy, Duchess, was 14. My tuxedo cat, Sylvester, was my oldest. He was just a couple of months shy of 19 when he passed.  We did have one bright spot during the year. My shorty Jack Russell terrier, Piglet joined the family. She is feisty and rambunctious and has done my heart a world of good.

Work – Near the first of the year my hubby took a job that seemed perfect. It did entail him being out of town for training for an entire month, but it seemed like it would be worth the time apart. Unfortunately, the job was not at all what we were expecting, so that was a huge disappointment.   Also at the first of the year I was transferred to a new department at work. I was very nervous about it, but that wound up being one of the bright spots of my year.  My new team has been great and I have been able to take on lots of new responsibilities.

Family, part 1 – This has been the hardest part of the year. My father-in-law was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.  His treatments did not help and the cancer has spread. My husband is obviously devastated. I adore my FIL, so I am devastated as well. We decided that we absolutely had to be nearer to him for whatever time he had left, so we sold our house and moved from Texas to Ohio. My FIL is still holding on and I will be eternally grateful that we have been able to be together as a family thru the holidays. 

Moving – Although the reason for the move is tragic, it was amazing how easily it all came together. We had an offer on our house the first day it was on the market, and were in Ohio less than a month later.  My amazing boss offered to let me transition to a contract position working from home, so I still get to work with the same great group of people.   

Family, part 2 – Less than 2 months after we moved to Ohio my father (who is in Texas) had a nasty fall and broke his femur. It was a bad break and required surgery. Luckily he didn’t have to stay in the hospital too long, but he will be at an inpatient physical therapy center for the foreseeable future.  It breaks my heart that I can’t be there to help him and my mom thru this. I honestly don’t know what to expect. The doctors seem to be saying hopeful things about him being able to walk with a walker after his therapy is complete, but given his history I will honestly be surprised if that comes to pass.  I hope that I am just being a pessimist.

That is nowhere near everything that happened this year, but it covers the highlights (and lowlights) fairly well.  I’m so glad that this tumultuous year is just about over. I know that 2014 is going to be a tough year as well, but at least we are going into this year with our eyes open.

Well, that is enough griping, moaning, and venting from me. I hope that all of you have a safe and fun New Year’s Eve and that your 2014 is full of wonderful things!

Friday, December 6, 2013

Farewell Mr. Mandela

When I first heard the name Nelson Mandela, apartheid was still the law of the land in South Africa and Mr. Mandela was in prison. I remember when he was released, when he won the Nobel Peace Prize, and when he became president of South Africa. Has there ever been a more inspiring story? 

I’m not going to give you a history lesson. There are lots of news articles out today that will tell you all the details of this man’s amazing life.  Instead, I’ll just share a few of my favorite Nelson Mandela quotes.
Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.

If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.

It always seems impossible until it is done.

After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb.

There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered.

To deny people their human rights is to challenge their very humanity.

It is wise to persuade people to do things and make them think it was their own idea.
Rest in peace Mr. Mandela.  It was truly an honor to walk this earth at the same time as you. Thank you for showing us all that one person can always make a difference.

*Quotes sourced from http://www.brainyquote.com

Monday, December 2, 2013

The Secret Ingredient

I was always extremely close to my grandmother.  I was named after her and me & my mom even lived with her for a while when I was young. When she passed away I was heartbroken, but I resolved that I would find a way to keep her spirit alive.  

Grandma was an excellent cook. She was not formally trained and she never used cookbooks.  She learned out of necessity.  She had eight kids and lived on a ranch. There was never much money, so she had to be clever to find ways to keep everyone’s bellies full and satisfied. Regardless of how good the rest of her cooking was, she was always known for her pies. As long as she had some flour and some Crisco she could make a pie out of just about anything.  Her pies were always so delicious, but she swore there was no secret ingredient.

I decided that the best way to keep her spirit alive was to take over the mantle of “Barcy the pie-maker”. I knew better than to try and master everything she could do, so I decided that I would just concentrate on apple pie.  My first few efforts were pretty horrible.  I never did master her way of making crusts, but once I switched to a butter crust and started using my food processor I learned to make a pretty decent crust. I pride myself on never using canned apple pie filling.  I always use at least two varieties of real apples & lots of cinnamon.

However, the most important thing in my kitchen when I make a pie is a framed picture of Grandma. I always set her picture on the counter and have a nice little conversation while I’m peeling apples and rolling out dough. Maybe it is all in my head, but I swear I can feel her there.
Prepping for pie making with Grandma

My grandma will always live on in my heart. Through making pies with her memory, I have finally figured out the secret ingredient.  It should have been obvious the whole time. Grandma always added lots of love.

The finished product

Friday, November 15, 2013

You Call That an Antique?

I was unpacking a box last night (yes, I'm still unpacking. Don't judge) and I found one that said it contained an "antique camera". I was very excited, as I didn't remember owning one of those. I happily tore through the box until I discovered my 35mm. Apparently cameras that take actual film are now "antiques". I feel so old.

Monday, November 11, 2013

Veteran's Day from a Veteran's Point of View

Happy Veteran’s Day to all those who have served, or are currently serving, in the Armed Forces.  From the Revolutionary War right on up to the present day, our veterans have always been there to answer the call. It is with deep and profound gratitude that I say a humble “Thank You” to all of them – past, present, and future.

On Veteran’s Day I also feel a different kind of gratitude. I am incredibly grateful for the eight years that I served in the Army. It made me understand what I was capable of and made me realize my own strength. The person that I was while I was in the Army was the best that I have ever been.  The Army enabled me to have experiences that I never would have had otherwise. It turned me from a small town girl into a citizen of the world. It brought me life-long friendships and introduced me to the love of my life.  I would not have the life that I have today if it was not for those incredible eight years.

So, to Uncle Sam I say a heartfelt “Thank You” and to all my friends and comrades from the old days – Hooah!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Texas goes Midwest

I’ve been neglecting this blog lately because there are big changes taking place in my life, and I couldn’t talk about them publicly just yet.  The hubster and I are moving to Ohio.  That is where he is originally from, and I have really fallen in love with it over the years. 

I am very excited to make this move.  I’m looking forward to apple picking, watching leaves change, and having actual seasons.  Not to mention, we will be living close to his family so we will get to have family holidays and get-togethers.  My nephews are still really young, so seeing the holidays thru their eyes is going to be such a thrill.

That being said, I am going to miss my own family in Texas. Unfortunately, with Texas being such a big state, even though we are in the same state we don’t live anywhere close enough to really be a part of each other’s daily lives.

So, now I get to start figuring out how to integrate my Texas roots with my Midwest future. I’m guessing the folks in Ohio can get used to my chicken fried steak and sweet tea.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Signs and Superstitions

No other day sparks as much talk of superstitions as Friday the 13th.  The water cooler talk this morning was all about black cats & broken mirrors, even though very few people will admit to being superstitious.  

I am not a superstitious person.  I have owned black cats multiple times in my life, but I have never considered them unlucky. Unless you count the bad luck of having to scoop the kitty litter box.  I try not to walk under ladders, but that has more to do with fear of falling paint cans than fear of bad luck.   I do cross my fingers for luck, but that is because of habit, not belief.

Although I don’t believe in superstitions, I am a very firm believer in signs.  I believe that sometimes there are things that you are meant to do and if you look closely the universe will let you know.  Heck, sometimes you don’t even have to look that closely.  Have you ever thought about relocating and suddenly the name of the town you are thinking of starts coming up everywhere you turn?  Have you thought of adopting a pet, then a stray kitten turns up on your patio? 

Sure, some people say that those kinds of things are just a coincidence.   But I believe in the magic and wonder of life and I choose to believe that there are road signs from the universe that propel us towards where we need to be.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Where Were You That Day?

It seems like every generation has their defining tragedy.  That one moment when everyone seems to remember exactly where they were and what they were doing.  For my parent’s generation it was the Kennedy assassination.  For my generation it is 9/11.
This morning at work everyone has been talking about what they were doing when they learned the towers had been hit. It is amazing that after twelve years the memories are still so crystal clear.  
I learned about it when a co-worker came out of his office and said that one of the World Trade Center towers had been hit by a plane, but that nobody knew whether it was an accident or an attack.  A few minutes later he came back out, his face completely drained of color, and said that another plane had hit the second tower.  At that moment we knew the terrible truth.  I remember the whole office going silent, completely in shock.  After that there was a flurry of activity with everyone trying to get on the internet or crowding into the offices that had radios.  I remember the frustration of not knowing what was happening, and the fear of not knowing what was to come.   Mostly I remember this terrible feeling of sorrow and vulnerability.  It was unlike anything I have ever experienced, before or since.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Embracing My Inner Geek

I used to think that it was a bad thing to be a geek.  I may have been married to a geek, but I most certainly did not consider myself to be one.  I rolled my eyes at his comic books and super hero movies.  Seriously, wasn’t he supposed to be a grown-up?
I was rather horrified when I secretly started to enjoy sci-fi movies.  I had laughed at the very idea of movies like “Starship Troopers”, but now I had not only seen it, I had enjoyed it.  The horror!  I could never let anyone know this!  I must stay safely in the geek closet.
Then came the day that hubby told me that Dina Meyer, one of the stars of “Starship Troopers” was going to be at our local Comic Con.  Ever since I saw ST she had been one of my favorite actresses.  I very much wanted to meet her, but how could I go to a Comic Con?  Those things were for geeks and I most certainly was not one!  Of course, I couldn’t pass it up so I decided to go.  I was fully prepared to be amused by the silly people in their silly costumes.

What happened that day amazed me.  I was completely stunned by the people that were at that Comic Con.  I had never been around a group of people that were so immediately accepting.  There were no strangers there.  It didn’t matter that you had never met, they were immediately ready to strike up a conversation.  Perfect strangers were trading tips on which lines were the longest and which celebrity guests were the nicest.  The cosplayers (the “silly costume people”) were willing to pose for photos for as long as anyone wanted.  The sheer level of work that went into some of those costumes, not to mention the practice it must have taken to get down the appropriate mannerisms and poses, was staggering.

Another thing that I found extremely moving was the level of acceptance. It didn’t matter if a person was fat, thin, tall, or short. It didn’t matter if you wore glasses, had acne, or were a super model.  These people just accepted that everyone was there because of a shared passion. For someone who had once judged this culture, I was beyond humbled.
By the end of the day, I had completely changed my tune about geek culture.  Instead of snickering, I embraced.  My twitter feed started filling up with people like Will Wheaton. I’ve since gone to two other Cons.  One was by myself and the other hubby and I traveled all the way to Chicago for.  I have met some amazing people and had some terrific experiences.  So, am I a geek?  You bet!

Friday, August 2, 2013

An Unconventional Fairy Tale

Once upon a time, in the kingdom of San Antonio, there lived a curly-headed princess.  (Well, she was actually a soldier, but the story is much more romantic if she is a princess.)  She fell in love with a kind, handsome prince. (You guessed it, he was a soldier too.)  They fell in love and wanted to share their lives together, but were in no hurry to make things legal. 
Then one day a ferocious dragon attacked.  (She got orders to go to Fort Drum.)  The prince and princess knew that only the power of true love could save them, so they decided it was time to get married.  On the day the marriage was to take place they ventured out in the midst of a powerful thunderstorm in search of a justice of the peace.  They finally found the JP in a converted jail house. So, in the midst of a raging storm, while standing in a former jail, the prince and princess exchanged their vows. (The wise JP included a wonderful clause in the prince’s vows.  He had to promise to bring the princess presents even when it wasn’t a holiday.)  Once the vows were said the dragon was slain and they went off to Fort Drum together. 
They went on to have many wonderful adventures and have enjoyed living their unconventional fairy tale ever since.  Their happily-ever-after is still continuing.
Happy Anniversary to my wonderful hubby.  On that stormy day 18 years ago I did not think I could love you more than I did at that moment.  I have been proven wrong every day since.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Going Public With The Blog

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I have been debating with myself for awhile if I wanted to keep this blog as my own little on-line diary, or if I wanted to go public with it. As you can tell from the link above, I have decided to go public.  You can now follow me on Bloglovin.

I have no intention of using this blog as anything more than a hobby. I don't plan on pursuing advertisers or sponsors, and I don't consider it to be a secondary career. However, I know I can't be the only middle-aged, plus-sized woman in the world who is trying to find a way to manage life a little more successfully.  If any of my experiences can help someone, I feel it is my duty to do so.

So, here I am world.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Memorial Day

On this Memorial Day as you enjoy your picnics, BBQ's, and sales at the mall, please take a moment to remember the men and women who gave their lives in service to their country.
Regardless of our beliefs or political affiliations, the one thing we should all be able to agree on is the respect that is due to those that have made the ultimate sacrifice in defense of our country.
To all of those who never made it home, I send a humble and deeply felt "Thank You".

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

On Grief

This has been such a terribly sad week.  Of course, the bombing at the Boston Marathon has been foremost in people’s minds.  It is just incomprehensible to me how anybody could have such hate in them that they feel compelled to injure and kill complete strangers.  We live in a scary, scary world.

A little closer to home, Pat Summerall passed away today.  He was such an incredible man.  He was kind, classy, and had a tremendous broadcasting talent.  He was also a wonderful example of someone who embraced their second chance and made the most of it.   My hubby was blessed to get to know Mr. Summerall on a personal basis. He was one of his favorite people and we both join the families, friends, and fans of Mr. Summerall who are mourning his passing.

This week also held a tragedy at my job.  A co-worker was killed in a freak accident.  She was only 26. I never got a chance to know her, but everyone who did says that she was one of the best people they had ever known.  Most of the people that she worked closely with were close to her in age.  For a lot of them this will probably be the first time they have ever lost someone close to them, let alone a peer.  I am so proud of the way my company has handled this. They have made counselors available to anyone who needs them, have made sure that everyone has the funeral information, and are even creating a memory book to send to her family.  I was just really blown away by the support that they are giving to those who are suffering from this loss.

I have had some tragic losses in my life and consider myself pretty well versed in the mourning process.  If I could give those experiencing a loss one piece of advice it is that everyone grieves in their own way.  Some people need to continue their life like nothing has happened, some people need to lock themselves away and lose themselves in tears for a while, some people feel the need to constantly be active and fill their life with as many distractions as possible.  Nobody can tell you that you are grieving wrong, just as you cannot judge how anyone else grieves.  My one caveat to that is that if your grieving process has you turning to drugs or alcohol, if you have suicidal thoughts, or if your grief begins to turn into depression you should seek out help in dealing with it.  There is no shame in talking to someone.  A burden shared is a burden lessened.
For everyone who has lost family, friends, or co-workers this week, be kind to yourself. The pain does lessen. Your loved one will always be remembered and will always be a part of you. Take the time to mourn the loss and mark their passing in whatever way feels right to you.
Blessings to you all.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

I’m a Bad, Bad Blogger

Back when I started this blog I had grand ambitions of it being a place where I could foster my creativity and grow my writing skills.  I swore I would write insightful, funny posts and do my very best to be a devoted and authentic blogger.  I didn’t do too bad the first month or so.  I wasn’t blogging as much as I wanted to, but I was at least getting some stuff out there.  Then, life happened.
The month of January was an incredibly stressful time.  Some of it good, some of it bad, but all of it very intense and anxiety provoking.  I’ve already written about losing my sweet puppy dog.  I thought I was prepared for it, but it was much harder than I anticipated.  Then, I came down with the flu. Also during that month I found out that I was being moved to a new team at work and I had to move to a new office space twice within three weeks.  Hubby accepted a new position that would entail him being out of town for a solid month.  Oh, and we also had to have our roof replaced.
By the time hubby left for his month long business trip I was feeling completely frazzled.  I really planned on using my time alone to get the chaos under control.  I had a plan and it seemed fool-proof.  Unfortunately, by that time I had nothing left.  No gas in my tank. I was physically and mentally exhausted.  So, I gave myself a break.  Oh, I still went to work and kept the house livable.  But I watched a lot of television and ate a lot of fast food.  I kept thinking that I should blog, but I just didn’t have the gumption to do it.
When hubby finally got back we took a vacation to Florida.  It was great spending some time away and great having him home.  I kept thinking life would calm down, but it just kept getting more and more hectic.  Between his crazy schedule and my job it seemed like every week was just a race to survive until the weekend.  I kept thinking that I should blog, but who could find the time?
I finally started thinking that maybe I should just stop even trying to blog.  I should just take down the few posts I had written and call this a failed experiment.  After all, my life is totally chaotic and out of control right now.  Could I really justify taking time to just sit at my computer and write?  Just when I was about to kill the blog, I got to thinking that maybe this would actually be the best time to write.  I wanted a creative outlet, maybe giving myself one would allow me to start taking back control of my life. Maybe enforcing some disciple around my postings would help me to start taming the chaos. 
So, I am back.  I’m glad that I never really decided on a theme or a direction for this blog.  Because it looks like for now it is going to be about bringing you along on the journey as I try to get to get my house and my life organized again.  Wish me luck!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Farewell My Buddy

This past Saturday I had to say good-bye to my beloved border collie, Buddy. 
I adopted Buddy 12 years ago when he was just a little ball of fluff.  I picked him up and he put his paws around my neck, laid his head on my shoulder and immediately fell asleep.  I immediately fell in love.
For 12 years he has been my baby, my companion, my cat herder, and my joy.  About 2 years ago this Frisbee loving dog was diagnosed with arthritis.  He had hip dysplasia and as he aged his hip started to degenerate.  He had good days and bad days.  At first there were more good days than bad, but the scales started to tip the other way several months ago.  The poor guy had been on all sorts of pain relievers and steroids, but in the end there was nothing further that could be done.  He had reached the point where there were no more good days.  So with a heavy heart we talked to his vet.  He agreed with us that the time had come to let go.  So, on Saturday morning I said good-bye.  I know it was the right thing to do, but sometimes doing the right and responsible thing just sucks.
My sweet Buddy, I know that where you are now there is no more pain.  You can chase Frisbees all day long and have salmon for dinner every night.  Someday I will be there and I know that you will be waiting for me.  Mommy loves you, my sweet pup.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Women Who Inspire - Jenny Lawson

One of my very favorite bloggers is Jenny Lawson aka The Bloggess (http://thebloggess.com). She is wickedly funny and is completely off-beat and original.  She is also completely open about her struggles with depression and anxiety.  When she isn’t making me laugh she is bringing me to tears.  One minute she is bawdy and outrageous, and the next she is completely vulnerable and laying her soul bare.
Today she re-tweeted a link from one of her followers.  The link was to a letter penned by the British actor Stephen Fry to a young woman with depression.  His words were so genuine and comforting.  It was one of the most moving things I have ever read.  If you suffer from depression, please read it.  If someone you love suffers, it will give you some of the best words of comfort you will ever be able to share.  The link is http://www.lettersofnote.com/2009/10/it-will-be-sunny-one-day.html.
If you have never checked out The Bloggess, I encourage you to get yourself to her site right away.  Some days her words will move you.  Some days she will make you shriek with laughter.  But she will never, ever bore you.