What I won’t be doing next year…

Imagine a better year than last year!

Ah, time again for resolutions. Like most people, I tend to make the same resolutions every year. I come close to accomplishing what I want, but never quite make it. But this year is different…I am resolving NOT to do things instead.

Firstly, I resolve NOT to lose weight. Don’t we all resolve to lose weight every year and feel like crap when we don’t do it? Well, this year I did it. I lost the weight and have kept it off for six months. What I won’t be doing this year is resolving to lose weight. That ship has sailed.

Secondly, I will NOT make any more excuses for not writing. There are none, period. Sure, I could be reading, watching a movie, cleaning, etc. But if any of these work, then I can’t honestly call myself a serious writer, can I? Staying up late and waking up early to write are what it’s all about. Therefore, I will NOT make any more excuses.

Thirdly, I will NOT spend my free time browsing the Internet with abandon. It’s amazing how much time gets sucked from my life by this seemingly innocent hobby. See resolution numbers two and five to find out what I’ll be doing with my time instead. This includes Facebook and Twitter.

Next, I will NOT forget to post on both of my blogs in a timely manner. I love doing it, but seem to find other things to do instead. Yes, I’m on the Internet, but no, I don’t have anything to say. How can that be? This blog, along with Gluten Free in AZ and my Facebook page/gluten free in AZ, are very close to my heart and therefore will get the lion’s share of my Internet attention.

Finally, I will NOT waste a minute of time that I could be spending with my girl. She will be a full-fledged adult very soon and will have many other things (and more interesting people) to occupy her time. If she wants to spend time with me, I will NOT pass up that chance. This is something I have always tried to do and will make sure this one never changes.

Wishing you a lovely year of changes, love and peace. What will you NOT be doing this year?

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How do you explain why Santa discriminates?

The Jolly Man Doesn't Visit Everyone, Does He?

I was a firm believer in Santa when I was a child, as most kids were in my neck of the woods. But then when I grew up I had to explain him to a child who had lived in poverty until she was 8. That child was my daughter.

As a child, I couldn’t wait for Christmas morning to find out what the jolly man had left after sneaking in somehow (we had no fireplace in our small, rented apartment). We never had a huge amount, but there was always something there. Years later, I learned the truth and moved on. I couldn’t wait to pass this on to my kids. We adopted our first daughter as an infant and began the tradition of presents from Santa on Christmas morning until she was 3. Then it became a little harder to explain. No, she didn’t ask questions, but her sister did.

We adopted our 8-year-old daughter from an orphanage in China that year. And try as I might to explain the wonders of Santa, that’s a difficult thing to do to a child who hadn’t had a full meal in 8 years, let alone a gift from anyone. When I tried to explain the wondrous tales of Santa, how he sneaks into your house in the middle of the night bringing gifts to good little boys and girls, she stared at me in disbelief. Where had he been all those years? Is this really true? Am I that bad? Looking into her face, I just couldn’t do it. It was then that I realized that Santa discriminates, in a big way! So I told her the truth.

Santa isn’t real, I told her, he’s a figment of everyone’s imagination…just another reason to give gifts to children. No, he doesn’t go to orphanages or visit homeless children in the street. No, he doesn’t travel to Africa and drop food for them. Why does he only bring gifts to the kids who live in a nice house with money? I didn’t have an answer for that, so I told the truth.

Yes, she woke up every year on Christmas after that and looked for the gifts from Santa under the tree. We continued the tradition with a wink until she moved out two years ago. Her little sister is a teenager now and she’s known the truth from the day we told her sister, but it’s just fun to find an extra gift on Christmas morning (even I still like that).

But along with those gifts, we play Santa all year by donating to the orphanages of our children, selecting a Christmas angel from the tree in the mall and volunteering our time to feed the homeless and help raise money for stray cats and dogs. And that’s what being Santa is really all about…caring, sharing love and helping others. So until Santa stops discriminating, I refuse to perpetuate the lie. It’s a story and that’s all it is.

Merry Christmas to you all and my Santa bring you what you truly want this year.

My life is better with the soundtrack

 

Marilyn Monroe didn't need background music, but I do!

Ever notice how even the most mundane activity can seem so special in a movie? Most probably, it’s the music in the background. Take a walk in the park, it’s quite nice. Now take that walk with a lovely Parisian song in the background. Special, huh?

 

What about cooking dinner? We do it most every night, but if we do it with some jazz in the background, it becomes a special experience. If we do it with upbeat music it’s a playful activity, or with slow, classical music it’s a labor of love.

Which brings me to my point (yes, I have one). What is the soundtrack to your life? For me, it’s filled with quiet music these days. Lovely soft tunes that make everything seem sweet, special and low-key. While making dinner I listen to Jack Johnson and it becomes a family affair. While folding laundry I listen to Quartetto Gelato and tell myself it’s somehow continental and intriguing, not boring and tedious.

Think about it, during those sad moments in your life, wouldn’t it have been great to have had a sad ballad in the background? The growing, swelling of the violins as you sobbed and hugged someone? The triumphant, upbeat sounds as you walked away after quitting that fucking job? Put on those red heels and your little black dress and imagine the music that would make it all shimmer. Would it be badass or classical?

So, basically, I am living my life with a soundtrack in my head. And in the same way, as I write I hear the soundtrack playing for each scene. I have compiled a playlist for the book that brings together the sounds of anger, happiness and suspense that defines the main character throughout the story. This is, of course, different from the soundtrack for my life.

What’s on your playlist?

 

What the season looks like around here

He comes every year bringing gifts to children. Ok, he took them first but don't be a spoil sport!

We all have a certain way we like to celebrate the holidays. Hanukkah is over (it was early this year), the driedels are done spinning and the kugel is all gone. Christmas is inching its way up and frantic shopping is the name of the game for most people.

But what does it really mean, this holiday thing? No, this is not a religious post at all, get your hands away from that X. No clicking just yet-what I mean is this… What does it mean each year to decorate your home, put up lights, listen to carols, etc? Why do you do it? We were never a very religious family, so instead, to us it meant spending time with family, making time to spend with friends over coffee, cooking something special for someone you love, wrapping just the right gift, etc.

I love decorating my home with things my children have made, decorations my nieces made and also things that remind me of  my family. I love walking around the house and being greeted by the Grinch or Santa as I turn the corner (and no, I’m not talking about my husband!).  Sure, these are not from the Martha Stewart decoration collection. But screw her, I don’t have an army of helpers or a million dollars. But what I do have is sentimentality, a love of family and a great camera… So, I thought I’d share a few just to get you in the mood too! Enjoy!

Yes, we're Greek. That means hanging the goofiest-looking Greek ornament we can find.

What? You don't have a pickle hidden in your tree every year? Seriously?

What are the holidays without a drink or two? Celebrate!

However you celebrate the season, do it right. Spend time with family, take the time to laugh, play a game with your kids, have a drink with friends or even read a book you’ve been wanting to read for months. You deserve it!