Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Resolutions ?

I used to make resolutions but gave them up when the only resolution I ever seem to stick to was making resolutions.

So instead I try and look back about my year and the good memories that were made, look at my accomplishments.

Trips and time spent with family and friends, books read and music listened to, movies and shows that took me away and time spent laughing.  Basically time spent not doing anything but enjoying life. Accomplishment number 1 - check.

There were the moments that tested me - the loss of my beloved cousin much too soon, my understanding that not all things last forever, including people you love,  but the time spent together is still worth the loss vs never ever having had that time.  The terrible things that just pepper the news every day.  All of those things I learned from, some I took action on, others helped my resolve and most I used to help my boys understand that life is what you make it. I learned from these, I found my strength in these and they are part of a life. Accomplishment number 2 - check.

Work - I survived - bwahahah take that corporation that at times overworks all of us - I thank you for funding my life, for being the company that helps people live better and for giving me opportunities to feel fulfilled in work as well as a bunch of really cool people who always add to my life even when they leave the place.  Accomplishment number 3 - check,

The blog - kept at it - hurtling toward 13,000 reads (multitude of countries) and comments that remind me that I may love doing this but others also seem to enjoy reading it.  Accomplishment number 3 check.

I voted - yeah that is a big deal, I used my right to do something so many cannot.  Accomplishment number 4 check.

I started writing the book  - like for real - like one section done and on it's way to being typed done. It did not just live in my head.  Accomplishment number 4 check.

Finished a painting that was living in my head - already planning another one.  Accomplishment 5 check. 

Friends - having them in my life is accomplishment that cannot be surpassed.  Check and too big a deal to give just an accomplishment number to. 

Tennis - ok so I will never even be a ball girl worthy opponent to many who have being doing this for a while but what a fun trip and enjoying getting better.  I stuck to it even when my mind made fun of my floppy wrist, too aggressive return serve and those balls that I look like a Keystone cop running right past.  Accomplishment number 6 check.

What do I want to do in 2015 - well I would like to finish the book, pester those friends who volunteered to read it to do so.  I want to keep this blog fun and relevant.  I want to do more for women's causes including my own - less apologizing and more confidence.  Most of all I want to enjoy my last 2 years in my 40s because I will blink and that 50 birthday will be all "hello, hello there" in my face.  I also want to keep reminding myself to tell the people I love how deeply they matter to me and not just the usual suspects that I share that with.  I will read more books, yay, listen to more music and dance along with my karaoke as much as possible.  

There may never be world peace but maybe we can all aim to make a little peace with whatever makes us be hurtful to others out of the fears that drive us.  

May 2015 be what you want it to be - Happy New Year

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Countdown to Christmas

In many, many years I have not missed sending out the cards and along with the cards a small poem that covered our family's year.  For 9 years even if it was close to the wire I got them out.  This year they will be late. 

I fretted, I woke up one night and started them, I look at the set up on my home office desk where it is assembly line worthy and somehow I cannot seem to sit myself down to get them out.  

Now this is not usual for me - I do it all right?  I order the presents, for Hanukkah, and for Christmas.  I decorate the house, I wrap and I find the right match in presents for everyone who gets one.  I manage the organization of the teacher gifts, for my boys and as a class mom for one of the boys, I also make sure we have the gift cards on hand for the many people who I am grateful to do something with my children sports clinic coaches, day care workers.  I make sure the special orders are done prior to the holidays rush.  I make the menus for the holidays dinners.  This is every year so how did I drop the ball and not get the time to get the cards out???

This is how I look at it, not at the things I accomplish but rather to the one that I missed.  This is partially because of my own way of being incredibly demanding of myself but it is also reinforced in every thing I as a woman am expected to do as a mother, a working woman, a wife and even as a daughter.  It is the bar that is set these days for all of us whether we work in the workplace or are stay at home moms.  We have to do it all and not only that we have to do it all incredibly well.  Decorations ideally should be done Interior Design  photo spread worthy, meals out of Gourmet with of course lunches for our kids that fit in Bento boxes well balanced/tasty/designs, our work is satisfying and must be given 100% because we should have some trajectory and of course our baked goods must always be handmade and we need to be 100% there for every field trip, class party.  All of this while making sure we stay in shape, look decent doing it and of course can sport yoga pants with Uggs in our late 40s with faces frozen by Botox into tricking others that we are 20 and never stressed.  

Well this year I am giving myself the gift of saying that I just do not have that much to give all the time.   I will get the cards out, the poem has been written, but it will be closer to New Years.  The house looks good but the cupcakes for the last day of school before brake will be ordered.  My boys are happy, healthy and incredibly grateful for everything we do together so why do I do this to myself.  I refuse to get Botox because I know how old I am and it is being this age that is allowing me to give myself permission to not have to do it all at 100% all the time.  Besides my very expressive self would be out of whack if my face was frozen into a perpetual, laugh line free look. 

So deep breath, do a few cards a day and enjoy the moments with children that are growing too fast.  Wishing all who celebrate Merry Christmas .. and fellow women give yourself the gift of appreciating all you do instead of just noticing what has not been done. 

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

It's Christmas time in the city

I love the whole hoopla around Christmas.   I cannot get on board with the uber granola crowd and while I respect that they consider growing a tree in the back solely for the purpose of using it as some sort decorated pagan symbol of winter (cause PC says you cannot call it .. come closer so I can whisper a Christmas tree)  and wrap granola bars in recycled hemp for presents.  I for one want to buy my tree, have someone hoist and tie it to the roof of my car and then put it up in my house as a Christmas tree with pretty, shiny wrapping paper and bows on the gifts underneath.   I know the reason we use an evergreen is closer to the granola crowd's explanation but I like to bring my pagan rituals inside when it is cold enough to see my breath outside.  Should this change to say decorating palm tree on beach outside in the future then I will do it with fruity cocktail on side.  However, they are wrong when they say this is not about gifts.   If you are going to combine the tree ritual from BC you might as well know it was all about party, gifts to the gods and each other and loads of wine and debauchery.  I know, I know the baby Jesus ... that's coming, keep reading.

I also would like to tell you the "reason for the season" but even that is murky combo of Christian and pagan rituals and for this girl who is a non-believer the reason for the season is to decorate, take a moment to share kindness with a stranger and go bonkers with decorations.   I also love gifts - love love love the whole gift giving process.  I know materialism blah blah blah - once again this year I am not recommending spending way beyond your means but I do like gift giving.  I like the whole hunt for the gift that fits perfectly for each recipient, the pretty way they are wrapped, using my new wonderful tags from Hampton Paper Designs (which are stunning to the point that it will pain me to actually put on gifts and see them go) and then seeing the people open and fill with happy moments when they see the gift.  Conversely I want to get up and be able to pop the person upside the head who says these things more once as they open a present " oh you shouldn't have" - umm really yeah I should have because that is what we probably gathered together for along with a nice meal.  "This must have cost too much" - if it did you bringing this up just reminds me that you think of my financial situation in dire terms (unless said gift is say a BMW then is it cost wayyy tooo much) or you want to know what the going exchange rate is for it.  Any obvious over examination of a product - looking for fault in front of me will not fix whatever you find and since you are somehow related to me I will have to watch those lips pucker in distaste once again at my gift as you ooh and aah and the utterly tasteless thing someone else bought you who you obviously prefer to me.  Yes that is someone I know - at one point I was going to play to get even and just try to out-ugly the other present but even that could not draw me into .. shudder Walmart.  Do not get me started on why Walmart is my idea of the Death Star run by someone infinitely more sinister that Darth and the Emperor.

The other part of Christmas that I love is the city - love the way it is decorated, even with the masses of tourists people are a little kinder (this in New York may just mean that they sigh loudly as they have to navigate these tourists rather than they usual descriptive way we have of sharing our disapproval).  I could walk the city streets pretty much at any time but at Christmas with the lights and the pretty windows - Saks are usually my favorite.  I love walking up to seeing the Christmas cake-like fountain lit up and there is always enough time to look at the Tiffany windows and unleash my inner Audrey Hepburn.

I even like Christmas music - all kinds from the magical voices of the Vienna boys choir to Darlene Love and even Rob Thomas telling me about a NYC Christmas.  However, I will say I have been known to get weepy at some of the more religious carols .. the thought of a young couple driven from their home, shunned by their friends and family, threatened by death to find shelter to give birth to their baby just makes me well up.  I also know how that child's life ends and whether you think of him as messiah or just a prophet who celebrated Hanukkah before he became "reason for the season" it is a tragic story.

The countdown has begun - time to start wrapping, rapping a little Christmas in Hollis too (what you can take the girl out of Queens but a little Queens never leaves this girl), and putting the final touches on the gifts.  The tree is up - so my holiday cards arrive closer to being New Year's cards - and I am enjoying the city every day and with my family more often than usual.  Oh did I mention we are a Hanumas family so there are also dreidels, latkes and gold coins for 8 days all over this house - we totally get our celebration on during this time of year in this house.

"City sidewalks, pretty sidewalks, dressed in holiday cheer..."

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

What does the color of my skin say

It is impossible to not think about the statement "what does the color of my skin say" with all that is going on these days in the States.  

I believe the media does like to focus only on the negative but they are not the sole cause of the problem.  There are of course few pictures of people working together, loving together, making a family together who are of mixed races.  Yet we see, or maybe some seek, mostly the strife with few exceptions.   A friend and I who were speaking the other day also feels that to choose only one of the races that makes her who she is does not line up with how she defines herself. As the world becomes more and more multiracial these definitions have to give way - we are all more than the box we check off on a census. 

I do not assume anything based on skin color  - now I may or may not like you, I may or may not befriend or love you but it is not based on your skin color either way.   I see kids every day doing this too and I hope that the next generation is that much better at it since we seem to be slipping back and losing some of the ground we had made in this space. 

What does the color of my skin say ?  Does it tell you how smart or not I am? 
Does my shade tell you how often I swear and yell in anger?
What does the color of my skin say ? Does it tell you how and who I love?
Do you know from the color if I have loved many or a few?
Do you think you know my beliefs, my dreams, my fears just based on the shade of my epidermis?
Does the color of my skin make you think you know me ? Know what makes me tick?
Can you tell from my race what my past was or that of my ancestors?
Do you think from just looking at my skin that you know if I am a mother, a wife, a loner, a lesbian?
Am I happy or depressed ?
Am I running to something or from something ?
Can you tell if I have a job and am a contributing member of society?
Does my skin tell you things like how often I cry or how easily I laugh?
Can you tell just from the color of my skin what my friends and family look like?
Do you think the color of my skin makes me bad, or good, or evil, or lazy, or productive?

The list is endless of all the things that the color of our skin does not tell anyone - nor should it.   Is it not time that we stop pretending we know so much about someone just from the color of their skin?  We should all embrace the fact that we do not have to live in a world where we only look at a mirror reflection -- I mean really there is a reason that mentally ill people are locked in a unishade room - it removes all stimuli, all cause for excitement.  

The color of our skin is the covering to the amazing box of wonders that is who we are .. if we remember this and ask ourselves the above questions once in a while maybe we can all stop pretending we know anything just by the color of one's skin and start remembering to admire the quality of one's character.   When my kids open a box of Crayola the colors in there differentiate themselves from one another -- but it is only when you put them to use that they become a masterpiece. 

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Mess free

I am often more than a little envious looking at magazines or pictures of other people with kids' homes that do not seem to have the trail of kids passing through that my house often does.

Now we do live in a regular size home, built in the 30s it is not the spacious McMansion of today, but I swear no matter what I seem to do, what I ask them to do they leave a trail.

So how do people do it ?  I mean I put away things all the time but the amount of paper they come home with is bit overwhelming, I try and go through it within a day but that is one small pile that seems to shrink only until they return from school -  why does the school feel the need to send me everything these kids no longer need ? I mean I know I try and stay on top of them by reviewing homework but I am not reading every worksheet done in class.

They are past the point of playing with toys but somehow cards, like deck of, seem to be everywhere.  There are Pokemon, playing, FIFA, Football cards and though they are placed in little ziploc baggie somehow at night they come out and poof one is left behind like a calling card for me to wonder how it happened.

Then there are books - books that in the progress of being read - left open because unlike cards bookmarks disappear never to be seen again, I have suggested using errant cards as bookmarks but got the strangest looks.  There are books that are started and not well liked so they languish in one place in the living room until I put them away on weekends, there are finished books that get put on coffee tables no matter no how often I point out that the bookcase and shelf designated for read books is only a foot or two from said coffee table.

Pencils that somehow seem to leave a trail as if it is evidence left behind so I know work was done.  They put 3 away and leave out 2 -- why ?

There are socks hidden in places from my lovely younger child who loves to take his off and instead of using one of two options, take upstairs to hamper or take downstairs to laundry room, prefers to hide at least one of them as he is walking around.  This has led to some serious arguments and it stops for a while but he has a weird little obsession with doing this.

Do other people have this problem or am I only one that wakes up earlier to straighten up even the places they swore they straightened before ?  Are others living in those magazine perfect rooms while I battle clutter daily?

I remember my own apartment before children it was neat, bed made, small space, everything put away couch cushions set before I left the house.  I have not seen it like that for more than a few hours in here, beds do get made every day though, in years.  Yet I also know that my apartment did not hold the funny conversations that my kids choose to follow me around house with leaving a pencil here and a book there while they are animatedly telling me a story.  I did not have those little feet of my sons rubbing mine to get some warmth.  There were no books with stories from the Weird but True series that now resides ready to pass along the next bit of info that is read.  I am working on getting them mess free but maybe a little mess and less magazine pictorial is not so bad when it comes with such great kids.

Our house is clean and somewhat organized before I leave daily and while I would love to have a better system at times I have also come to accept that having kids and taking the time to listen to those stories is more important to me than stopping them and just cleaning up all the time.