Time…

Time has been on my mind lately. How quickly it passes and it’s gone forever. On one end I have my mother who is in her eighties. With every passing year, she comments that she’s surprised that she’s still around to see this new year, surprised to make it yet another year as her birthday comes. On the other end I have my teenager who has her whole life in front of her. She’s not worried about running out of time, but she’s feeling anxious about becoming an adult and moving out of the cocoon -like protection of home. And as for me…I see my mother getting older and know that my time is limited with her and at the same time, I see my teenager getting closer and closer to graduation and know that she’ll be moving out of the nest to go to college soon. It’s sad and exciting at the same time.

There was a morning when I had to leave much earlier than normal and it was still dark when I arrived in the parking lot at work. As the sun came up I started snapping pictures of it. I realized just how quickly time is passing as I took pictures and saw the differences in the sunrise in just a matter of minutes.

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when I first got into the parking lot…

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just a moment later…

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not more than five minutes, in fact it was probably less…

it’s awesome when you sit back and think of how quickly the earth is spinning and how fast time is passing. It’s not something that I want to dwell on but I don’t want to forget just how precious each and every moment in life is.

Soak in the beauty around us, cherish the moments with our loved ones, and most of all never be afraid to try new experiences. Just live and live with happiness and joy in your hearts.

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NYC – continued…

No trip to NYC is complete without seeing the Statue of Liberty, right? Here we are on a frigid day made even colder by being on the river. It was quite awesome to see this famous statue in the flesh – er… stone?  Anyway, amazing ride around Ellis Island with a breathtaking view of NYC Skyline as well.

 

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Central Park, now that was another one of my favorites on the trip. The day we went there was apparently the first real “warm” day according to New Yorkers. It was actually the equivalent of a Florida winter day but okay, if you say so. The sun was out and the park was absolutely packed with street performers, vendors and people. Everyone just poured out of their homes to enjoy the sunshine and I guess to spend a day outdoors, Central Park is pretty much the only place to go since everything else is buildings and asphalt. Personally, I would have loved to be on my own time that day and do some jogging through the park and do some serious people watching. It WAS a beautiful day. The horse and carriages were out – I saw signs on them that said $3.75 a minute.  What?? Who charges by the minute. Anywhere else it would be something like $25.00 per half hour or something like that, but per minute?? I suppose I could hop on and right off 10 steps down the road. Seriously?! The street performers were fun to watch though, there was pretty much everything from singers to some guy twirling a ribbon. One of the interesting performer I saw was some girl playing a violin while twirling a hula hoop around her waist. Hey, it was entertaining. Unfortunately I didn’t get a chance to take a picture of her.

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I would imagine it’s a beautiful place in the summer when everything turns green. In Florida, everything is green and blooming and has been for a good couple of months now. But we did see some signs of the coming Spring here…

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Lincoln Center aka The Met…

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I fell asleep during the opera. Rude, I know and I didn’t mean to but it had been an exhausting couple of days and that night was going to be my night for patrolling the halls in the hotel room to ensure everyone stayed in and asleep. The center was gorgeous though. We went straight there after a whole day of touring without any change of clothes and I definitely felt a bit grungy compared to some of the women I saw there.

One of my favorite theaters was The Amsterdam Theatre. Aladdin was playing, while the show was thoroughly entertaining, I was completely fascinated with the theatre itself. It had been built in the early 1900’s and the detailing that went into the walls and ceilings were amazing. We don’t see anything like that in the new buildings anymore.

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Is that not breathtaking. The detail that went into this theatre…

No trip to New York is complete without a visit to the 9/11 Memorial. I had tears in my eyes the whole time I was in there. I remember watching the whole horror unfold on television and remember how even in Florida, I got that call that the city was closing down and that I needed to come pick up my daughter who was in pre-school at the time. I cannot even begin to fathom how horrifying the whole experience had to have been for the people living and working right here. Seeing the memorial was special and I’m so grateful that the decision was made to turn this place into a memorial honoring those who lost their lives that day. They did a beautiful job honoring them. Each building has a pool where they once stood and all around the pool are the names of those people who died that day. Even the unborn babies (for the women who were pregnant) were mentioned and I loved that. Another special thing they do to honor these individuals is to place a white rose on the names when it falls on their birthdays.

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We whizzed down on Fifth Avenue. By whizzing, I mean the bus literally zoomed through there. I’m sitting there watching the people shopping and every fiber of my being was itching to yell at the bus driver to just stop and let me out here. You guys can come back for me later. I wanted to stroll and window shop at all these stores. Yes, window shop… somehow I get the feeling that things are just a wee bit out of my price range there. Okay, maybe a lot out of my range, but hey – window shopping is still free.

There was so much we saw and probably still so much more to see. Someday, I would really like to go back on my own time and explore. Another thing to add to my bucket list. Seems that every time I get to cross something off the bucket list, there’s more to add.

If you’re a New Yorker, I’d love to hear your version of how living in NYC is….

Fifty Two Life Lessons

My fifty second birthday is peeking over the horizon at me. Just a few more days and it’ll be on top of me. It’s truly amazing how quickly the years fly by. Especially once you have kids. There was a time when I thought being fifty was ancient. It was so far down the road and quite frankly I just never really envisioned myself being in my fifties. That was where my parents resided. Then one day I wake up and realize with a shock that I’m there. I’m officially middle-aged.

The interesting thing is – I don’t feel like a middle-aged person. I still feel and think like I did when I was younger. I still enjoy running and being active. I still find amusement in the stupidest, little things and delight in beauty around me. Somehow I always associated middle age with boring, dour looking folks who have long outgrown fanciful things like dreams and playing. At least that was how I always saw my parents and their friends, or maybe that was just how the younger generation sees things. But, being in my fifties really isn’t bad at all.  I’ve learned a lot of things along the way and actually look forward to learning more as I get older. Every stage in life has its own level of learning and it’s not about getting old, it’s about learning and growing mentally and emotionally.

Since I’ve been doing some reflecting on life, I thought I’d try to come up with 52 life lessons that have worked for me. In no particular order… I’m just typing them up as they come to mind.

1. Smile. Smiling does wonders to change a mood. People respond positively to a genuine smile, and that positive response goes a long way in boosting your own mental state. I don’t mean walk around grinning like an idiot every second of the day. It’s just that we all have a choice… we can choose to look at the good or bad aspect of situations. Those who choose to dwell on the good things tend to be much more approachable and easy to be around.

2. Don’t marry just for the sake of getting married. There are literally billions of people on this planet. Life is too special to be wasted being with someone that isn’t quite right for you. When you meet that perfect match, you’ll know it. If you haven’t, at least have fun meeting people along the way. There’s nothing wrong with being alone when you’re comfortable and at peace with yourself. Being married to the wrong person and trying to make it work, only adds stress and unhappiness along the way. Too many times I’ve seen (I was one…) where people meet and say that they can work around the differences and change the person. Trust me, it’s not easy to change the core of who someone is.

3. Exercise. Okay, I can hear the groans already. A lot of people think exercise is overrated. It’s not. It truly does create a more positive state of mind as well as better health. I’ve gone through periods of exercising and not. Whenever I went for a while without a regular workout regime, I started feeling bad both physically and mentally. My physical feeling would be aches, pains and a feeling of being too heavy. The discomfort that I felt with myself only brought my mental state down. Then I would get back into running and always, without fail, I’d feel that boost of confidence. That positive energy would start flowing through me again. Our bodies are just like any mechanical thing we may have such as cars. If you don’t take your car in for regular tune-ups and make sure the tires, oil and other things are changed or maintained on a regular basis – it’s going to break down on you and quit. Our bodies are basically the same way. They need to be maintained and treated well to carry us through our lifetime.

4. Play. Always make time for playing. We work and spend much of our time trying to save a little money, pay bills, maintain our homes, cars and take care of our families. It’s incredibly important to make time for fun. Otherwise your mind is going to get so bogged down with responsibilities. Make time to let loose, go somewhere new, experience something fun. Just get out and clear your head of problems and really enjoy yourself.

5. Choose your battles wisely. If you’re going to get into an argument with someone, at least make sure it’s a worthwhile battle. Otherwise it’s wasted energy. If it really isn’t important and about something that isn’t going to affect your life and surroundings, then just let it go.

6. Learn something new whenever possible. Take a class, read, explore…you’ll be a much more interesting person for it.

7. Make time for animals in your life. They can teach a lot about unconditional love.

8. Try new experiences. I went snow skiing for the first time in my life last winter and had a fantastic time. I don’t want to find myself sitting in a wheelchair at eighty wondering what it would have been like if….

9. If you have kids, give them the absolute best you can. Prepare them for life and give them the tools needed to succeed. And love them unconditionally.

10. Think before you speak. Who among us hasn’t been quick with our mouths only to regret the words coming out. Maybe this is something that has to be learned over time, but it’s very true that our words can sometimes cut deep.

11. Be sensible about your finances. Money isn’t everything, but it’s nothing to brush aside either. Find a good balance where you have enough money so you don’t have to worry about your next meal or how you’ll pay your bills, but at the same time don’t let money run your life.

12. Leave a place better than when you arrived. Pick up after yourself, get rid of trash, etc. None of us want to live in a dumpster so why would we just leave trash laying around?

13. Make time for books and movies. They’re great for relaxation and entertainment, but don’t make them a focal point of your life.

14. Enjoy good food. Be open to trying different dishes and flavors.

15. When in love, love with all your heart. If the love fades then let it go and move on. Know that nothing is forever and sometimes the universe knows what we need at certain points in our lives.

16. Laugh often and laugh loud.

17. See the ocean at least once in your life.

18. Go to the mountains at least once in your life.

19. Possessions are there to enhance your life, not to encumber it. Be willing to give things away when they’ve outlived their purpose. Life is not about things, but about experiences.

20. Always treat others the way you would want to be treated.

21. Never underestimate the power of sleep. A good night sleep will do wonders to boost morale and lift spirits.

22. If you see something beautiful, stop and take it in. Don’t be in such a rush that you miss a great sunset or the glitter from the sun dancing across a lake. We’re not going to be here forever so don’t take beauty for granted.

23. Take care of the older generation. They’ve been around a long time, they deserve to be respected and cared for. These were people that were our age at one time. Always remember that we will all get to that point at one time or another and treat them how we would expect or wish to be treated ourselves.

24. When doing a job for someone, do it well. You wouldn’t appreciate paying someone to do something for you only to see that they’re putting in a half-assed attempt. Do your job well and to the best of your ability.

25. Get crazy once in a while. Let your hair down and don’t be afraid to look foolish. As long as no one gets hurt by your actions, it’s good to let loose.

26. Create something. A picture, poem, story, garden… anything. Just put something together and watch it grow.

27. Nothing’s perfect. We live in an imperfect world, with imperfect people. Accept these imperfections and learn to see beauty in them.

28. Cry. Don’t be afraid to cry and show your emotions.

29. Show appreciation whenever you can. People usually respond amazingly to a simple but genuine “thank you”.

30. Take vacations. Even if you don’t have the money to travel someplace exotic, a simple drive to the beach or countryside can rejuvenate ones soul.

31. Take time for inner reflection. The world we live in is so fast-paced and hectic that it’s easy to lose touch with yourself.  Step back once in a while to take a breather and meditate. Gather your thoughts and center yourself.

32. Nothing is permanent. Sometimes someone or something that was so good for us at one time can become a source of anxiety or frustration after time. If this happens, it may be time to step back and away from that source. We don’t all go down the same paths in life. Paths intersect for periods of times and then they may divide and you find yourselves going down different paths. It’s okay to move on. Don’t hold on so tightly and refuse to let things flow.

33. Enjoy a good glass of wine.

34. Accept change. It’s inevitable in this changing world we live in. Why fight it?

35. Dress up and wear something incredibly sexy once in a while.

36. Take lots of pictures. Going back and looking at them usually puts a smile on my face.

37. Don’t procrastinate. Easier said than done, I know. But taking care of things right then and there reduces stress in your life. You’re not constantly thinking of the things that need to be taken care of when they’re done on the spot.

38. Accept people for who they are. Too many times, especially in relationships, people will find something that they’re not 100% happy with and place their focus on “fixing” that imperfection. It doesn’t work. Determine if it’s an imperfection that you can live with and leave it alone. If not, move on.

39. Eat sensibly. What we put into our bodies does have an impact on how we feel. Maybe not immediately but over time…  You wouldn’t put dirt into your gas tank, would you? It would muck it all up. Our bodies are the same way.

40. Give what you would like to receive. I’m not talking about things. I’m talking about love, gratitude, respect…

41. Don’t follow the crowd. Too often the crowd is doing things only to be accepted or to be popular and often that entails things that we may not be in agreement with. Step back and be true to yourself.

42. If you see someone being bullied or pushed around, stick up for them. Let them know they’re not alone and let the aggressors know that what they’re doing isn’t cool.

43. Spend time with a baby who is discovering the world for the first time. Seeing things through their eyes really puts things in perspective.

44. Dream. The day you stop dreaming is the day you stop living and start just existing.

45. Enjoy getting older. It may not be so much fun to see the wrinkles on the face, but really, they’re an indicator of what a person has been through. The wisdom and knowledge gained from all those years should be embraced and revered.

46. Think about the choices you make. Your kid wants to go out and play with you but the house needs cleaning….  choose the playtime with the kid over cleaning. Cleaning can be done anytime, but the playing with the kid will be gone over time.

47. Treasure the people in your life. You never know how long they will be there so enjoy every moment you can with them.

48. Bullying, stalking, threatening actions are not cool.

49. Splurge once in a while on yourself. I have a hard time with this one. I tend to want to save my money and time for my mother and daughter that I tend to forget about myself. But when I do something for myself, it’s a great morale boost.

50. Don’t be self-centered. People who are able to forget about themselves to focus on other people or tasks tend to reap more than those who spend all their time thinking of their own desires.

51. What?? We’re not done yet????

52. Live, love, laugh and just enjoy the hell out of this life. Be kind, have fun, get crazy. We only get one shot at this, why not have fun while we’re here.

Happy birthday to me!!!!  Cheers!

Falling In Love

It’s a really strange feeling when your child starts flirting, having boyfriends (or girlfriends) and dating.

In my mind she will always be a little girl and it was just so odd to see her moving into the romance phase of her life. It seemed to happen overnight too. One minute I was worrying about mundane things like making sure she kept up with school, homework and chores and the next thing I knew, I was having to be vigilante about which guys were coming into her life. It just opens up a whole new ballgame.

I was rolling with it though. I just made sure that the communication lines were always open between us. She confided in me and we’d have talks about life, boys , dating, etc…

I can handle this, I thought. I made sure she knew that the heavy duty relationships and marriage comes after college. After she’s had a chance to figure out who she really was. She agreed and all was good. Until….

She met THE guy. They had a lot in common, had same goals of college, education and future plans. They became inseparable. Nothing I did or said deterred them from being in love and making future plans. At first I thought – Okay, they’ll probably get through this and then it’ll fizzle out. But then I remembered something that hadn’t really registered in my brain until now when I see her at sixteen.

Sixteen was when I met the guy I’d eventually marry. We did divorce after 23 years of marriage, but the point is I was only sixteen and I’d already met the guy I was going to spend the next quarter of my life with. Once that realization set into my head, I started looking at her in an entirely different light. Is it possible that this could be the one? Yea, I guess it is. Do I still think it’s too young? Absolutely. In our parents and grandparents day, meeting your future mate at sixteen was not unthinkable. Today, I think there are just too many things to experience and figure out to settle for someone at that early of an age, but I realize that the heart sometimes knows what it wants. It’s entirely possible that this could be the one for her.

I figure that the most important thing is to be there for her to bounce her ideas, thoughts and feelings off of and most of all to love her unconditionally. I’m not going to lecture her or try to keep them apart. I just need to make sure they don’t lose sight of their goals. Know that college and education comes first because it will help make life so much easier if and when they do decide to get together.

Besides, so far, I like the guy that she’s chosen. He seems to be a good fit for her at this point in their lives. I just hope they remain on track with their goals and not divert from them the way I did. I didn’t have anyone around to advise me and make sure I was making the right decisions. So I’m putting myself in that position for them.

I had forgotten how powerful love can be. It’s all encompassing and just changes ones life completely. I remember when I look at them how it had been for me. It’s an amazing feeling and I wouldn’t take it away from them. It’s just that in my mind she’s still my baby and to see her moving into romance and love is, well I wouldn’t say difficult, but it’s been challenging to figure out how much to let go and how much to pull back.

Falling in love… such an amazing experience.

Life is Beautiful…

I’m around some people who don’t see beauty around them. It makes me sad when I hear them talk about suicide or being depressed. I’m not bipolar but I have had very close experiences with people who are and it’s really tough to see them go through these extreme lows.

Please, if anyone out there is interested. It’s such a precious place we live in. There’s so much beauty surrounding us. It may not be right next door but it’s definitely on our planet. Use your imagination…dream… let your mind go places that you may not be able to go physically at this moment.

I believe in the power of positive thinking. I think that when you feel that things are possible. They really can be. There’s no limitations except what you place on yourself.

I, myself, plan on traveling. I just have to wait a couple of years for my daughter to graduate school. Then I can just pick up and go. Possessions are nothing. Life, love and experiences are everything.

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A perfect rose…

 

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Skiing at midnight…

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Kayaking through the mangroves…

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A beautiful Autumn sky…

I don’t even have money to travel but yet, I can have these experiences. So if I can convince anyone that life is beautiful around the corner….I’ll be happy.

 

 

Mental Images

Everyone has a mental image of themselves. I think we see who we really are in our twenties and that image gets burned into our brains. Twenty years down the road, we look in the mirror and see this older version of our mental image and wonder who it is.

My mother and I were talking on FaceTime the other day and she made a comment that she didn’t like the way she looked in her little box. She said that she looked so wrinkly and old. Then went on to tell me that she went down to the local  drug store the next day to look for some wrinkle cream. I tried to tell her that she was beautiful for an 83 year old woman, but then realized that I too have looked at myself in the mirror and wondered where that middle aged woman came from? I remember myself as a young, smooth-skinned with a slim and taut body so who is this person looking back at me now? I mean, realistically I probably look pretty good for 51, but my mental image is one of when I was much, much younger.

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My mom and I.

Thinking of my own experience in the mirror, I guess I’m not surprised that my mother felt that way. If our mental image of ourselves gets burned into our brains when we are in our twenties, then imagine how it must feel to look back at an eighty something year old in the mirror. She’s a beautiful woman. Not beautiful in the  conventional  sense that society adheres to, but beautiful for a woman of her age. Everyone who meets her are amazed that she is in her eighties. Doctors who check her out tell her that they hope to be like she is when they get up there. But despite all this, she still feels that she looks awful when she actually sees herself on camera.

It doesn’t help that our society is so youth oriented. Older people get pushed aside by the younger generation who think they just have it all and it really does make us feel worthless and old when we really should be celebrating the wisdom that we’ve gained over the years, the experiences that have shaped us into who we are today….

I choose to feel good about myself. I was young once and remember the feeling of invincibility. Of being young and strong with the whole future staring me in the face. Now that I’m here facing the latter half of my lifetime, I realize that youth is fleeting. Being young and on top of the world only lasts so long before the next generation comes along and shoves you out.

And that’s fine… I know what they’re feeling, I know how fleeting that feeling is so they deserve to feel good and strong for however long they can. The true test of how one handles it comes later when the realization sets in that they’re no longer on top of the world but perhaps sliding down the other side of the mountain. I’m okay with it. I enjoy the experiences and wisdom that I’ve gained over the years. I’m not so overly concerned with how I look, how I appear to others, and whether or not I’m sexy enough, smart enough or even fun enough. I’m really okay with who I am. I just want to experience things before this last half of my life goes by. I want to travel, have fun and learn new things. How I look….eh… I want to look good, who doesn’t? But, I want to look good for myself. That’s the biggest difference. Looking good and feeling good for myself rather than for others.

It’s the image that I have in my head that needs to be replaced so that when I look in the mirror there isn’t a little voice saying ” What? Who’s this? The person I know, doesn’t have lines, droopy eyelids, or gray hair.” Well, I do and little by little, I’m learning to accept and love that person that I see in the mirror today.

It was a dark and stormy night…

I love storms. The sight of dark clouds building and racing toward you. Lightening streaking across the skies and thunder sending vibrations across the ground. There’s just nothing else that’s as awe-inspiring as the weather. When it gets like that, I love curling up on my huge armchair and watching the rain pelt against the window.

It’s Friday night and I’m free, on my way home from work. I stopped at the grocery store to pick up a few things, just one more errand that just has to be done before I can crash and enjoy the weekend looking at me in the face. When I went inside, the day was ok, overcast as it had been most of the day…rather blah, nothing dramatic. I was in the store just long enough to pick up some munchies, wine, along with some necessities like toilet paper, laundry detergent, etc… It took maybe 20 minutes to a half hour at the most. When I exited the store, all I saw was black, rolling clouds. Streaks of lightening and wind whipping across the parking lot.

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I stood there just outside the door for a few moments just looking at the beauty of it. Then I realized that a lot of that blackness I was looking at was actually a sheet of rain, really hard, drenching rain from the looks of it. Then my eyes scoped out where my car was and my brain kicked into gear trying to determine if I had a chance of reaching the car before the rain did. This storm was obviously moving fast judging from the fact that it was nowhere in sight when I entered and the length of time I had been in the store.

I knew I didn’t want to spend my first few hours of freedom standing under the protective canopy of the grocery store waiting on the rain to stop, so I immediately hightailed it toward my car. The storm marched toward me. My hair started whipping around my face and I could feel a few huge wet drops hitting me. When I got to the car, I practically threw everything in the trunk, taking special care with my wine bottles. Don’t want to mess around with those on a Friday night. I made it though. I even took the time to run over to the special cart places where you leave your shopping carts. I’ve seen shopping carts rolling willy-nilly in parking lots when storms move in. They can do some damage to cars and I don’t want to be responsible for scratching someone’s prized car. Anyway as soon as I jumped into my car, the rain started pelting the windshield.

I still needed to get home and into the house. Seeing as I live in the opposite direction of where the storm was coming from, I figured if I drive quickly (very quickly) I might have a chance to beat the storm. So I took off. I actually did get ahead of the storm and the mad race began again. This time taking all the bags out of the trunk and throwing them just inside the house, again taking special care with the wine bottles. I no sooner got everything inside and closed the trunk of the car before the raindrops started pelting me. Fate was working in my favor tonight.

The brunt of the storm has moved through, but it’s still raining. Cool sweetness of the earth soaking up the water from the heavens. Perfect time for this…

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Happy Friday everyone, hope your evening is as relaxing and sweet as mine is right now.