Friday, October 30, 2009

Had I Known...

...that everyone has something admirable about them. I would like to think I would be less judgmental of others.
...that everyone has flaws and issues. I would like to think I would be less judgmental of myself.
...that everyone just wants to be heard. I would like to think I would talk less and listen more.
...that everyone just wants to be understood. I would like to think I would perceive and accept more.
...that everyone just wants to be acknowledged. I would like to think I would be less selfish and affirm more.
...that life is neither just or unjust. I would like to think I would understand that life is both and it is what I do with both that matters.
...that the days would go by so fast and that they turn into months which turn into years. I would like to think I would savor the moments more.
...that so quickly I would wake on the brink of 50. I would like to think I would pay better attention to what I was doing the first half of my life.
...that I enjoy so many aspects of being alive. I would like to think I would live more, laugh more and be mopey less.
...that I am smarter than I think I am. I would like to think I would try more things out of my comfort and let my cage be rattled occasionally.
...that feelings are okay and are fleeting when you allow yourself to feel. I would like to think I would repress less and give myself more freedom to acknowledge my feelings.
...that I am a good mom. I would like to think I would be less uptight about the little things.
...that 10 minutes to child is a very long time to wait when they have a nugget to share. I would like to think I would say, wait until I get done, less often.
...that money isn't the end all goal just a means. I would like to think I would value the things money can't buy more.
...that I am beautiful. I am not a one dimensional being and beauty is so much more than what we see. That being beautiful is really about the inside and not the outside. I would like to think I would accept and appreciate the true me, and not harangue myself because I don't always look or act or think the way my preconceived prejudices say I should.

But quite simply, we live life each moment, the way we know at time we are living it. I hope to pass on to those who are in my sphere of influence a whisper of what I have learned. But once again, the truth is, that each person lives their own life the way they know to live it at each moment they are living. And when you think about it, we are living, a new dramatic serial, however it isn't written by a team of Hollywood writers. We can't strike out a scene or a line that doesn't fit in the current plot. Still we can find the preciousness in each scene.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


“Cynthia”, you may ask, “where did you get that stunning necklace?"

Cynthia answers, “I made it myself after being inspired by one I saw on J. Crew website.”

“What!” you say, “you made it?”

“Why yes, out of repurposed jewelry.”

What a clever term “repurposed” is. But what exactly does it mean? So glad you asked for you see according to, it quite simply means to use or convert for use in another format or product. I adore that concept. In my book it is notch above recycling and I love recycling. Hence a new hobby - upcycling.

I must give credit to my darling daughter though. She is my inspiration, the one who got me to change my terminology back to saying “crafts” instead of “crap” every time I spoke the word. I used to be quite the crafter. I could cross stitch, knit, weave baskets, make bows, oh the list goes on and on. I suspect I may have leftover materials for a Battenburg Angel or two. But I took a much needed break, a bit of hiatus so to speak, in order to once again appreciate the art of crafting. Crafting has seemed to take on a life of its own with many bloggers and tweeps that post regularly about their latest crafting find or creation. And I am noticing that they seem to be young people, which is very fun. I can’t wait until one of the young crafters gives the crafting world a new take on the crocheted toilet tissue roll cover. Allison is one of those new young breed of crafters. Give that girl a piece of clothing and she can make something new in no time. You need a skirt but only have a mens button down shirt. Have no fear, give Allison an hour and you will have your new skirt. She sees potential to upcycle everywhere.

That is why we know where every Goodwill store is in the greater Valley of the Sun and have visited a good portion of them. Yes we have been to Sun City, Paradise Valley, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Mesa, Chandler, Tempe and we may have even stopped at one in Glendale, but that day I was punch-drunk from all the stops we had made. And yes we have found the treasures. At a Goodwill near our house I am starting to believe one the sales clerks now recognizes us. I fear that will soon be the case at the new store that recently opened, and by recently I mean a week ago. You see it can be quite memorable when we are gazing at the jewelry case. We have a method: Allison starts on one end and I start at the other and we painstakingly go through each tray to see what treasures are waiting to be unearthed. We work with finese as we give a quick glance through the articles that are purely not what we are in the market for. But you never know when you are going to pick up a piece, which gives you cause for a pause, and there it is, a spark of inspiration.

On $1 sweater and $1 denim day, we were almost beside ourselves with the finds that existed in abundance. Once again, you may ask “WHY?" And I would answer, “because we are felting the sweaters to “repurpose” into a blanket and other such items where you would want to use felt. The denim jeans will soon find themselves with a new purpose as a rug on Drew’s floor.”

Ah yes, you may be asking, “what does a 12 year old boy think of all this crafting and Goodwilling”? And the answer is what you would expect from most 12 year old boys, “if Drew might benefit, he likes it. He is quite a repurposer of common objects buff himself, but just don’t make him go shopping for the stuff.” We are happy to oblige because it is very hard to scour and find the hidden nonpareil cache when one of your offspring is bemoaning the fact that you have been at the same store for more than 7 minutes or is that the 7th Goodwill of the day.

By the way, I figure I paid about $10 for the jewelry I used in my necklace. Compared to the $135 I would have paid for the one J. Crew, I'll take my designer original.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Being True

This isn’t about being selfish it’s about being true.

One of my favorite bloggers and twitterers is Leo Babauta. I discovered that he writes about life right where I am at this stage of my life. Three blogs I read are Zen Habits, Zen Family Habits and Mnmlist . If you are curious about living a simplified lifestyle spend a little time looking through these.

In stereotypical terms and clumping all Americans into one statement, ‘Americans have an insatiable need for things and for more and more (and more)’. So what happens when the economy and the world as we have known it does a flip flop like a fish out of water?

Could it be true…less is more.

Robert Browning certainly felt it was worthy of inclusion in his 1855 poem entitled Andrea del Sarto:

     Who strive - you don't know how the others strive
     To paint a little thing like that you smeared
     Carelessly passing with your robes afloat,-
     Yet do much less, so much less, Someone says,
     (I know his name, no matter) - so much less!
     Well, less is more, Lucrezia.

I have come up with my own manifesto for my family for as long as I have influence on them.

1. Buy what you want, but buy less. Since I have lost a sizable amount of weight, I decided to clean out my closet and disperse all the items that don’t fit to someone else to use which left quite a void. Not having a lot of discretionary money has brought me to shopping resale, discount sales and other cheap places. When I see something and consider buying it I ask myself “do I love it?” and if the answer is no it stays. I am not going to buy something just because it was a great deal if I am not extremely fond of it. If I were to go ahead and get it, even if it is free, it isn’t worth the cost because soon it will be clutter.

2. Eat what you want, but eat less. How often do we really know what we want to eat but don’t because it has too many calories or too much fat or not enough vitamins or minerals in it? Often what happens is we eat the “good for you” item but still want the other item. Then we often end up eating the item we wanted in the first place, resulting in extra and wasted calories. I think it is better to eat exactly what you want but just don’t eat as much as you may want. Let a little do the trick.

3. Say what you mean, but say less. I have become aware that too many people talk way too much. We think we have to explain our explanations, justify our justifications and apologize through our apologies. I think at one time or another most people have said “do you know what I mean?” or “do you get what I am saying?” Sometimes when people say that to me I want to scream “granted I was educated in the public school systems and I went to college at a small Christian college, I think I am bright enough to understand what you are saying and if I don’t, shut up so I can ask you to clarify for me”.

I meant what I said

And I said what I meant . . . .

An elephant's faithful

One hundred per cent!

- Horton Hatches the Egg

4. Do what you want, but do less. Do you ever feel like you are in the spin cycle of the washing machine and wish someone would push the stop button? Sometimes the spin cycle stops at the insistence of something quite clamorous, other times it is a drastic consequence. Life is all about balance. I know that the less I do the happier I am. When I stopped being obligated to causes and organizations which I was in allegiance to, not because I didn’t feel akin to their purpose, but because it was habit or I thought it made me worthwhile or my favorite, because no one else would do what needed to be done. I finally shook myself and realized that if no one else will do it maybe it doesn’t need to be done. I like having a 5 minute breather before an appointment. I enjoy being the first one when meeting friends for lunch. I like having a minute to listen to the birds. I want to spend time doing what is meaningful to me which includes caring for other people. I don’t want to have regrets or say I ought to or I should have. I want to do what I want.

5. Keep the best, but keep less. The best means something different to different people. For me I would rather have the antique furniture that has been passed to me from my family other people would look at these prized possessions and call them junk. This is a tough one though. Drew and I have tried and tried to go through his things and pare his treasures down. He finds sentimental reasons to keep just about anything. But what I try to help him see is that we have to make room for the new experiences, treasures and hobbies he is developing every day. There are some things that were a part of my past that I can’t get rid of yet. That is okay for now, but I know at some point if I want new and fresh I need to make some room. Sometimes this happens with relationships too. We want to have room to keep those vital relationships in our lives. But sometimes we find out that as the affiliation wavers it is because something has changed.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Irony of a 12 Year Old

Today I took Drew to the airport. He is going to see his dad who has recently moved out of state. This is not Drew’s first time flying alone but it was different in that on Southwest he does not need the same assistance that under 12 year old people need. “But he is only 12”, I say out loud because I need to remind myself of that fact, because at this moment it feels like I should say “he is already 12?”.

Twelve is an interesting age. The voice is just starting to change. Boys this age seem to be quite proud of the underarm hair that is sprouting and my boy, on occasion, gives invitations if you care to see it or better yet feel it. He still needs reminding to brush teeth, take a shower and should not leave home without a heavy dose of deodorant (a reapplication is sometimes a necessity). He still loves watching cartoons, particularly Sponge Bob and Scooby Doo. My twelve year old boy still likes to have some of his earlier toys around but if the right person should come over then that toy needs to find its way back into the vault. He likes to hear stories about when he was little, needs help packing for a trip, and he loves his mom.

On the flip side, my twelve year old boy has a cell phone and thinks he should be twittering. He likes the independence to ride his bike down to the Ace Hardware to pick up PVC pipe or duct tape or something else that is important for a latest invention. He asks for things like a soldering iron for Christmas. My twelve year old boy likes to remind me when he will be driving and to talk about what kind of car he is sure he will have. He likes to be told when his reaction or answer is very mature. He is adamant about having complete privacy when time to get ready or change clothes. When he remembers he can be the perfect gentleman and hold the door open for ladies. He carries a wallet with a picture ID card in it and whatever amount of allowance that has managed not to be spent. And my twelve year old boy doesn’t need his mom to go through the security check point with him. And so I left my twelve year old boy to find his way to his gate armed with all the instructions I could think of. Still I forgot to tell him he needed to take his wallet out of his back pocket, but there was the security officer to tell him that. But told me often today (as he does every day), that he loves me. And never tires of hearing that I love him too very very much.

Daily I see a surge of maturity in my twelve year old. Daily I see a barrage of childhood in my twelve year old. I haven’t thought about this for a while but when my children were young I would look at them and say “oh I just love age one” or “I think age two is my favorite age” or “how fun seven year olds are”. It didn’t really matter what the age was I loved it because there is always something new and different at each age. Sure I might get frustrated or hung up on this or that, but I try to remember that these children of mine will be this age for such a short time. Early I realized that once a year passed  and they moved on to the next age we could never go back. And how Allison was at two or seven or twelve was totally different than how Drew was at two or seven or twelve. So where ever they were or are or will be in their progression, it is my favorite forever.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Since I have been on this food journey, for lack of a better term, I think it has accomplished one of the goals I had set for myself. I wanted to look at food differently. I wanted to stop using it as a crutch, or use it to fill time when I was bored, and any other psychological reason I have for eating. But I especially wanted to stop eating more than I needed. I am still working on all these but I will credit myself with the fact that food does not have the same seduction. That said I still enjoy finding new places and yummy morsels.

A couple weeks ago, Allison suggested we should eat at Liberty Market in downtown Gilbert. Not that it is so far from where we live but I just don’t get to downtown Gilbert very often. A few years back Gilbert was home and driving down Gilbert Road occurred regularly. We even ate at some of the other restaurants. After a brief discussion we decided after church on Sunday morning we would head east and check it out. I have to tell you I couldn’t have been happier with our decision.

The morning was beautiful and we were pleasantly surprised to find a great patio at Liberty Market. I was a bit confused on what to do when we first walked in but there were helpful professional service staff moving about. Allison and I desperately needed coffee and Drew decided he wanted hot chocolate. We were not disappointed. I am a big fan of scones and they had apricot as a choice decided we should give it a try. It came with a side of clotted cream and raspberry jam. Delish! It came out before our main selections which was perfect to nibble on while we waited. Drew decided on the American Standard - three scrambled eggs, Liberty potatoes, biscuit, and his meat choice was bacon. He couldn’t finish it all. Allison and I decided to split the Grilled Vegetable Scramble - scrambled eggs with grilled zucchini, Portobello, onions, red pepper, goat cheese, Liberty potatoes, biscuit. A treat for the taste buds.

Food was great and definitely well worth the time and travel. But the experience is what made it memorable. It is comfortable, the kind of place you want to sit and just enjoy the moment. The beverages are self serve so you are not waiting for someone to come and take care of you. At the same time the professional service staff were very helpful, pleasant and from what we saw very efficient. I was impressed that the tip jar was at the cash register with a note that said that tips are divided equally between those said professionals. The Liberty Market has a great history which is worth the read on the website.

Everyone who has probably been there has probably commented on the restrooms. I also had some really great pictures but upgraded my phone yesterday and now they are not accessible. So you will just have to check it out for yourself.

The next week we decided to go downtown Chandler and eat at Kokopelli Winery & Bistro. It didn’t wow me so I am not going take up time talking about it. Allison liked it okay and might try it again. Me…uhm….well…no. The food was good but just didn't make me want to sing - figuratively not literally, of course. After a walk around the square I determined there are other places of interest just down the street that I have a hankering to try.

This week while driving down Indian School Road in Phoenix to my hair appointment I saw a little place called Acacia CafĂ© and decided I would like to pop in soon and give it a taste. They too have outside seating and this Sunday was a perfect day to be outside. Drew ordered honey bbq chicken with melted provolone on a ciabatta bun. He was quite pleased which pleased me since he isn‘t the “try new places kind of guy”. Allison settled on egg salad sandwich on whole wheat and I ordered a veggie panini which I believe was about the best I have ever had. We traded a half so we could try both. The whole wheat had a variety of seeds on the crust which is baked on the premises and was outstanding. They also make fresh soup every morning during the week. The beverages are self serve fountain drinks along with coffee and iced tea. I was not disappointed with the flavored iced tea I chose. They also offer some bottled juices and soda pop. Drew savored the flavor of a Jones Grape Soda. I just think when you are drinking grape soda out of a bottle you have to savor the flavor. Also available were baked items and after lunch we sampled their fresh pumpkin cookies. Scrumptious! Would have loved to take time out to sit with coffee and a cookie.

It’s the kind of place where regulars show up week after week and if it were in my neck of the asphalt jungle I would be a familiar face on their patio.

Too often, we humans find ourselves scurrying here and there. To quote the well worn lyric to Cheers theme song, Making your way in the world today takes everything you've got. Taking a break from all your worries, sure would help a lot. Wouldn't you like to get away? We enjoy vacations for that very reason, to get away, see and try new things, and to hopefully stop scurrying for a moment. My criteria on choosing a place to eat is not just to leave with my stomach satisfied but to give my mind and soul a mini get-away. To  enjoy, learn and explore. Relaxing and chatting with the kids over a meal feeds more than just our physiological needs.

Eating at home is still my favorite place to eat, but it appears we are creating a pattern on Sunday. So apart from the apparent goal to stop the rumblings in our tumbly, as Christopher Robin would say about Winnie the Pooh, we are setting out to get away for our customary and feast on a delicious new find now and again.