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Relish In The Present

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This past weekend I went to see Midnight In Paris, which turned out to be better than I expected. I’m not a huge Woody Allen fan, but Owen Wilson did a splendid job of bringing the movie to life, at least in my opinion. On my way home though, the general foundation upon which the film was built got me to thinking about why so many of us are so fascinated with the past. More specifically, why we often feel this deep connection to (and longing for) an era that we’ve never even experienced first hand.

The premise of the movie (without giving it away completely) was that the “Golden Age” for many of us lies in the years long before our own arrival in the world. We think to ourselves “wouldn’t it have been great to live in Paris in the 1920’s”, for example. What I’ve come to realize though, is that while things may have seemed simpler back then compared to our present, I’m sure they weren’t all that simple for those who lived through that particular era. In fact, I’d venture to guess that many of those who did live in Paris in the 1920’s probably longed for the “Golden Age” of the late 1800’s, a more simple time in their eyes. And thus the cycle continues.

What I’ve concluded from all of this is, that while we may be enamored with the past for many reasons, one of the most prominent is because it’s just that – the past. It’s already been written, which means no surprises, and that makes it a safe place in our minds. So, if you were somehow miraculously transported back in time, you’d already know what was coming, (to a certain degree) and this could have a very calming effect on the psyche.

Truth is though, no matter when and where you live, life is unpredictable and the future is, and always will be a bit of an unknown. To paraphrase a common expression – the past is behind us, the future is yet to come, but today is a gift, which is why it’s called the “present”. My goal is to do my best to remember to relish in every moment of it.

Finally Back on the Shelf

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This year I thought long and hard, and ended up making a sole birthday request. I told my younger brother that I would like to have my beat up copy of Where The Red Fern Grows by Wilson Rawls back for my birthday, and he came through.

While I haven’t cracked it open just yet, it is at the top of my summer reading pile, and if you haven’t read it yourself, I highly recommend that you do. A few other noteworthy books that I read recently are listed below, and I’ll post the rest of my summer reading list shortly.

Summer Island by Kristen Hannah

A Version of the Truth by Jennifer Kaufman and Karen Mack

The Wishing Year by Noelle Oxenhandler

Birthday Reflections

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As I turn another year older, I can’t help but to reflect upon how truly blessed I am. I have had so many wonderful teachers in my life, amazing experiences, and most of all, life-changing lessons, which have all helped shape me into the woman I am today. Yet, despite all of this, somehow I still feel deep down inside that the best is yet to come. Another year older, another year wiser, and may each new year bring with it my “best year yet”. Being on the brink of a “transitional” year, I can’t help but to recall some of the many words of wisdom that I have picked up so far along my journey.

–       On our timetable things always seem to happen at the last possible moment, but on God’s timetable everything happens right on time.

–       “What is meant to be will be”

–       Worrying about something you have no control over only leads to wasted energy. Do your part and the rest will work itself out.

And my all time favorite . . .

–       “You get the lesson until you get the lesson”

Here’s to getting a little bit wiser with each passing day.

Fell off the Wagon (sort of)

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While I haven’t taken my nook back out of the drawer I tucked it into a few weeks ago, after two and a half weeks without adult fiction I cracked (it felt much much longer).  A few nights ago I started reading Summer Island by Kristin Hannah. So far so good, and I feel much better. I also picked up four new hard covers at the book outlet over the weekend ($15 for all four – can’t pass up a deal like that) so I should be set for a while. Not to worry, though, the writing is still flowing too.

What I’ve come to realize about many things in life is that balance is the key. With “real” books I can more easily limit myself to one chapter a night, which leaves me time to write as well. My happy medium.

No need to deprive ourselves of the things we love, we just need to learn how to moderate our intake, whether it be reading, writing, or my other weakness – really good chocolate.

🙂

Nooks Anonymous

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For someone who was pretty opposed to e-readers, I have to admit that once I got my nook up and running I fell hook, line and sinker. I read five books (and a few samples I didn’t care for – love that feature) in two and a half months – twice my usual paperback average. Unfortunately, all of the reading lead to weeks going by without writing anything new of my own.

When I finished the fifth book, I made a conscious descision to put my nook in a drawer and leave it there for a while. So, I’m sorry to say that there will be no new book recommendations for a bit. I did finish one last inspirational paperback a few nights ago worth reading though. Mitten Strings For God by Katrina Kenison is a great book for all of the mom’s out there that need a gentle reminder that it’s ok to slow down and set your own pace. And as for me, back to my YA novel I go.

🙂

The Story of Joe

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About a year ago, my daughter started bugging me about getting a dog of her own. While she grew up with and loved Willow, she was a bit too big to cuddle with and a bit too strong for her to walk. I’ll also admit, that I always liked the idea of having a dog that could curl up at the end of my feet while I watched tv and not take up the entire couch. I had also decided that our next dog would be a rescue and would have to be at least two years old. While I loved raising two dogs from puupyhood, I didn’t have the time or energy to start from scratch again at this point in my already crazy life.

While I knew the timing wasn’t right, I began checking Petfinder.com every so often to see who was up for adoption. And to placate my daughter I told her (and myself) that when the time was right, the right dog would find us. At the end of September our search was over, or so I thought.

I stumbled across a picture of Joe one day and instantly fell in love. I sent an email to Cares4Pets to see if he was still available and set up a time to go and meet him. It was a Friday evening after work, and seeing him in person was all it took. The woman I met with told me to take the weekend and think it over, and if I was still interested to send them a follow up email. Trying not to seem too eager, I waited until Tuesday morning to respond, and then started to get very nervous when I didn’t hear back. I sent another email at the end of the day only to discover that since they hadn’t heard back from me they had lined up another visit with another family the following evening. If that didn’t pan out they would let me know and then I could submit a formal application for him. That Wednesday was the longest day of my life, though I kept telling myself the same thing my mother told me many times over the years – “if it is meant to be it will be”.

Finally on Thursday morning I got another email letting me know that Joe was still up for adoption, and they brought him to our house for a visit that same night. He spent an hour hanging out with us as we chatted with the two volunteers who accompanied him, and the moment he was gone we missed him.

This time I wasn’t taking any chances and sent my paperwork in as soon as they left and put the check in the mail first thing in the morning.  On Saturday, October 2nd, Joe came home for good. I found out later that he had been in foster care for over two months and four other families had passed on adopting him after their initial meeting. So I guess mom was right, what’s meant to be will be.

If you’re looking for a four legged friend and live in the Philadelphia area, I highly recommend checking out Cares4Pets. The program is run by former and current vet students from the University of Pennsylvania and unlike other rescue groups, they go into the local shelters and choose dogs that can easily be adopted out and place them in foster homes while actively searching for forever homes for them. And if you’re not local, Petfinder.com is a great place to search for all types of animals that are in need of permanent homes.

Lucky Me

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After a fabulous session on description with my writing group, I decided to finally take my YA notes and start writing. The prologue came with ease, a mere two pages to set the stage. But now, “chapter one” stands before me, and all of a sudden the fears that have kept my notes buried at the bottom of my idea pile for the past year have returned.

The first one being “how do I go from writing two page stories to two hundred page stories?” My logical brain knows the answer is “one page at a time”, but the irrational side of my brain doesn’t want to hear it at the moment.

The second fear is that once I get started I won’t be able to stop, and seeing that it’s already late, I don’t want to be up until the wee hours of the night. Some people can get by on four or five hours of sleep, but I am not one of them.

Tonight, however, when getting ready to put my daughter to bed, she requested one of my stories as opposed to picking a book from her shelf. So I read her my most recent children’s picture book manuscript, and she gave me her suggestions (gotta love kids). Then she said something that gave me the jolt I needed to get back to my YA. “Not everyone is so lucky to have a mom that’s almost famous.”

While it would be nice to one day become a”New York Times Best Selling Author”, it would be even more cool just to sell a few books and be famous in the eyes of my daughter. So, back to chapter one I go.

🙂

On a British Kick

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After finishing The Other Mother’s Club, I began my second nook book. The Apothecary’s Daughter by Julie Klassen. If you liked Pride and Prejudice you will love this book too, and probably have as hard of a time putting it down as I did.

Then I moved onto Another Life Altogether by Elaine Beale after reading the sample pages (love that feature on my nook, although it still has it’s pros and cons, which I’m sure I’ll blog about later). I soon discovered that this book was also set in the outskirts of London, but quickly realized that the location was the only thing they had in common.

While Lilly (the main character in The Apothecary’s Daughter) is strong and confident, and doesn’t seem to care much about everyone elses perception of her, Jesse (the main character in Another Life Altogether) is weak and unsure of herself, and completely consumed with hiding her true self from the world. In the end though, they both come to realize who they truly are, and find and accept their place in the world. Both worth the read, but will leave you in two totally different places once you’ve reached the end.

“Just Lie Down . . . “

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While I’m a huge fan of books, I’m not quite as fond of magazines (too many ads and can’t stand the perfume samples). I do subscribe to the Oprah magazine though, and I always read the last page first (“What I Know For Sure”) and save all of the issues.

The February issue had a piece somewhere in the middle on health coaches and how to get back (and stay) on track. As a full-time working mother, my biggest struggle is with time. Time to get everything done each day and still have time left to play with my daughter. Time to do something for myself each day without having to stay up into the wee hours of the night. And my longest running struggle, finding  time to exercise. Thankfully having two dogs means I get two walks a day (usually, this winter has been rough), but I know I need to do more.

One of the quick tips offered by one of the experts that stuck with me  was to “just lie down on the floor.” Her theory, when you’re really not in the mood to exercise, if you just lie down on the floor,  most likely you’ll do some stretching and a few crunches while you’re there. This, I can handle, and plan on giving it a try tonight before hopping in the shower. And hopefully it will pay off by the time school’s out and we’re ready to hit the beach.

Have a time saving tip of your own? I’d love to hear it. 🙂

Make a Wish

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Tonight, while catching up on my shows (thanks to dvr) I glanced at the clock and noticed that it was 11:11 pm. Without thinking, I closed my eyes and made a wish.

For the first sixteen years of my life, every time I had the chance to make a wish I always wished for the same thing – a dog. I finally got my wish on Fourth of July weekend when my mom drove me to the country and we returned with Kobi (see “My Muses” page for a photo). It was one of the best days of my life.

I also remember those first few months following his long awaited arrival, and how every time I lost an eyelash or caught the white billowy top of a dandelion floating by, I couldn’t think of anything to wish for. I had been wishing for the same thing for so long (with no hope in sight) that I had never considered wishing for anything else.

Since then, I’m sure I’ve made lots of little wishes on birthdays or at the strike of midnight on New Year’s Eve, but I can’t remember what they were or if they came true. And I can’t remember when I adopted my new wish, but over the years it has stuck in my head and is still the only thing I wish for when the opportunity (birthday or superstitious) presents itself. “I wish that everything in my life turns out exactly as You intend it for it to be.” Guess I finally realized that it can’t get any better than that.

🙂

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