Gifting

Many of you know I have a love/hate relationship with gifts: love to give them, hate to receive them. So this time of year is always a challenge. Inevitably, my daughter will ask: What do you want for holidays? And I will inevitably answer: Nothing thanks.  I have everything I need.

I know this is not really a good answer.  We give gifts because we love and want to show that love.  But I am a horrible gift recipient.  I have very particular taste, and I hate waste.  The thought of getting a gift and giving it to the thrift shop the next day does not fill me with glee.  I once broke up with a guy because he bought me something and was upset that I didn’t jump up and down or cry upon receipt. Truth is, it was a piece of jewelry that was expensive but gaudy and not my style.  He thought I should love it because he gave it to me.  I thought he was not the right person for me.

Conversely, my Father is not a gift giver.  My Mom always takes care of that (to excess I might add) But when I turned 50 he gave me a statue of David Wright (my Father and I bond over a love of the Mets,  He took me to my first game when I was four and it was love at that diamond for sure) As my Father is not a gift giver, this statue means a great deal to me. It is special because it shows our connection and what makes my relationship with my Father special.  This is how I think all gifts should be: to show the unique and special nature of two people.

Around my vanity I have all the notes that my daughter has written me. No monetary gift can replace the value of these notes- they are the greatest things I have ever received and I treasure them.

Yesterday, one of my writing friends gave me a pencil holder that said “Write” on it. I love it because it is simple yet perfect. Again, it solidifies our connection and what makes it special. And hey- practical!  She knows I edit in pencil and always have them handy!!

So when asked what I want for a gift- I have no clear answer.  Sure, I always want a gift card for a massage, or tickets to something. I’m an experience type of person. But mostly, I want something that shows that the person giving me the gift knows who I am.  Knows that expensive doesn’t mean that I will love it, or that price makes it “better”.  Knows that I value function over form. Knows that I value the thought above all else.

 

 

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A Tale of the Opinion

Once upon a time there was a Lord and a Lady (well- she was a lady most of the time anyway) One day the Lord said “I’m not sure what to do about this situation. What is your opinion?” He told the lady the two choices before him, and gave the pertinent details and facts.

When the Lord finished, he looked at the lady and said “What do you think?”

And the lady responded quickly.  She rather decidedly gave her opinion, stating her reasons why unequivocally one choice was better than the other.  She did not hesitate and was quite strong in her reasons for one choice over the other. “Choice A” she said.

Of course, the Lord chose choice B.

Which made the Lady mad.  And she told this to the Lord.

The Lord and the Lady got into a disagreement, and trust me- this is where the term Lady was clearly a debatable choice of word. Lady slept on the couch that night because if she was closer to him she may have strangled him in his sleep.

The Lord said- “Didn’t you see I was leaning towards choice B? You’re supposed to know that.”

To which Lady replied “Then don’t present it to me as asking my opinion.  Tell me that’s what you want to do. If it means that much to you don’t give me an option.  You know I’m going to get mad if you ask my advice and then do the opposite of what I told you.”

Could the Lord and Lady have handled this situation better? Of course. We are always learning how to deal with others, how to communicate out wants and needs more effectively. And this is a never ending process.  No one is perfect at relationships, or compromise or communication.

So here’s the moral of this tale. If you are asking someone which road you should travel, ask yourself why you need to ask this question. Why do you need someone else’s support on something, especially if you know you are leaning 80% towards one direction? What are you really asking with questions like this?

FYI- My daughter just finished her section on Canterbury Tales, so I’ve been thinking of things from that perspective.  Just be glad I didn’t have time to do iambic pentameter or rhyming couplets…And be prepared: They just started “Hamlet”….

 

 

 

 

Endings vs Beginnings

Sometimes I get inside my head and I can’t get out. I get obsesses with a particular train of thought and it keeps spiraling around my brain. My attempt today is to unravel the spiral.

Last month or so, we found out that my Father has prostate cancer. (Note to my IRL friends who are friends with my Mom on Facebook- don’t talk to her about it because my Father doesn’t want to be the center of attention….)

Now the cancer itself is not going to kill my Father.  As the Doctor put it “he might die with prostate cancer, but not of it.” Next week he starts his radiation treatment. But let’s face facts: he’s 80, with diabetes and a bad heart. And his already depleted body is about to be hit with more stuff.

I know I see the writing on the wall…

Which has been in my head.

How do you come to terms with the death of a parent?

Most of my friends have lost their Fathers in the past ten years. I know this is the whole circle of life thing.  But knowing it’s inevitable and seeing the inevitability are two different things. How do you deal with endings?

And my daughter is about to go off to college. Another ending.

Yup.  My brain got caught up in a downward cycle of things ending. I became hyper focused on endings.

This is not a good thing for your brain.

So- I realized that I have to become focused on beginnings

How do I do that?

I have no idea.

So here’s the plan.  Along with my super creative musings about all things, I am also going to write about beginnings.  I am going to try to look at things positively as often as possible, (don’t worry- there will still be some rants and complaints in here.) Today starts my new beginning of thinking about what the future holds…..

on another note- I know I had problems with my comment section yesterday.  I don’t know why this is happening, but I am going to try to resolve it.

Holiday Bucket List 2018

Well- you knew this was coming…For my purposes, the holiday season is defined as the day after Thanksgiving up till New Years

  1. One holiday themed live show
  2. Look at holiday decorations on 5th and 6th Avenue in midtown Manhattan
  3. See the tree at the Metropolitan Museum
  4. Bake cookies
  5. Gingerbread (I love gingerbread in all forms)
  6. Watch five holiday themed movies
  7. Wrap all the gifts I buy (or actually put them in gift bags)
  8. See all my New York friends (but I mean the real friends- not the acquaintances)
  9. Send out holiday cards
  10. Not get mad at family events
  11. Make up a naughty and nice list
  12. Try to get my name off naughty list…

Here’s the thing about the holiday season: I love it.  I love this time of year.  But- I also feel overwhelmed this time of year.  There are so many things I want to do, but time definitely gets away from me- so I make a list of things I will be mad if I don’t do.  And then I write them in my calendar.  I order the holiday cards the day after Thanksgiving (sales) and then I make appointments to address them. I try to do anything I can to not feel stressed.  We’ll see how it works out this year.

Checking In

Hi All!  I’ve missed you! Hope everyone has been well!!  After a little brain break, I am back to blogging.  I am going to ease back into it though…don’t want to get too crazy.  I’m starting with a review of my fall bucket list (I consider fall Labor Day to Thanksgiving)

These are the things I checked off my bucket list:

  1. Corn Maze (done- and in a family record time)
  2. Apple Picking (we got fewer apples this year, but they were tastiest apples ever)
  3. Pumpkin Spice Latte- check….yum….
  4. Cinnamon- yes I did- though not as a drink.  I did an apple cinnamon thing which was delicious, which also takes care of the bake with apples thing
  5. Broadway Show- I wanted to see one, but managed to see three (Niceties, American Son and Lifespan of a Fact- all highly recommended)
  6. Movies- I wanted to see eight, and I saw eight (Widows, Instant Family, The Fantastic Beast movie, A Star is Born, Bohemian Rhapsody, Old Man and the Gun, First Man, Can You Ever Forgive me- I think I saw more but I’ll go with these)
  7. Books- eight books pledged and eight books read (Death of Mrs. Westaway, Nine Perfect Strangers, Lost for Words Bookshop, Living Forever Chic, Ghosted, One Day in December, Little Fires Everywhere, The story of Arthur Trulov + more)
  8. Ten new recipes- done and done
  9. Two live music performances (Goo Goo’s and Chamber Society of Lincoln Center)

Where I missed my mark:

I wanted to be more educated and worldly, but I did not attend a lecture or talk. The things I wanted to see were either sold out or at times that I was not able to attend.  Here’s hoping….

Ok- tomorrow I will preview the Holiday Bucket list!

 

Happy 17th

Today is my daughters birthday- which basically means, I know exactly what I was doing seventeen years ago today…

When you have a child (whether it be biological or adoptive), you can’t hope but have dreams and expectations of what your child will be.  When they’re really little, you look at baby books to watch them hit the milestones, see if they’re crawling and saying words when the book says it’s appropriate. Then you watch them take their first swings, or kicks and you think about their athletic prowess. Or you see them at science fair and think Doctor or engineer. The school play makes you thing- ‘watch out Meryl Streep’, and the concert makes you think about being their date to the Grammys. We take our child, and we see the future, what can be….all the good stuff. And these things are all good- they’re great in fact. To be a success at anything requires brains, perseverance, hard work…and sometimes we forget that those are the goals we should be hoping for our children.

Now, you all know I am immensely proud of my daughter.  She has a room full of trophies and plaques, a binder full of certificates, copies of published writings, a school record that is nothing short of outstanding. And yes, I am proud of all these accomplishments. And frankly, a bit astonished, because I know her lineage…

When I first jotted down notes for todays blog, I was going to very smugly give parenting tips highlighting how you can help your child be a high achiever.  But then of course my daughter had to show me up.

As you may know, she is co-captain of her school tennis team, and has been for three years. Last week she came home with an envelope from one of her teammates, a Freshman. In short, the note thanked my daughter for being such a great teammate. She wrote that my daughter helped make the transition to high school so much easier, and that she was grateful for the support my daughter gave her. My daughter smiled when she read the note.  I teared up.

And that’s when I came to my big realization. Out of all the hopes and dreams I have had for my kid, I sort of forgot about hoping that she becomes a good person. And yet, lo and behold, she has become a pretty good person. (not without fault…let’s get that straight….)

What’s the message for today?

Well, obviously Happy 17th to my daughter.

And…

Try to remember to teach your child to be a good person. Think about it like this: how great would the world be if we all tried to make one persons life a little better? Just one person, helping one other person. And… if we tried not to make anyone’s life worse…

Talk about a future filled with possibilities…

Gratitude Saturday November 10

I’m off my game this week: here’s to recharging the internal battery…

  1. Buttered popcorn
  2. Having buttered popcorn with a side of salad for dinner because no one else is home
  3. scarves
  4. Patience
  5. Spotify
  6. Plays that make you think
  7. thermal mugs
  8. dry erase boards
  9. books that you can get lost in
  10. conversations with friends that remind you that you’re not totally crazy or off base

The Lifestyle

I am a huge fangirl of lifestyle books.  I like to read about capsule wardrobes, and unique organizing systems.  I love to read about how to make your home chic, and how to throw an amazing dinner party. I love to read about beauty routines, and how people pamper themselves.  I may not actively choose to do all these things, but the joy in reading about them…priceless.

I recently read “Living Forever Chic: Frenchwomen’s Timeless Secrets for Everyday Elegance, Gracious Entertaining, and Enduring Allure” by Tish Jett (2018- Rizzoli). I want to be elegant everyday!  I want to enduringly alluring! I don’t want to entertain, but I can skim that…. So you see- I went into this book with certain expectations. I went into page 1 as a lump of clay, and I expected to come out as a beautiful and unique sculpture. And I as sit here writing in my bathrobe and fluffy slippers- I don’t know if I’ve succeeded…

L’art de vivre is loosely translated as the art of living. But can you teach someone the art of living? And more importantly, do people need to be taught how to live?

I get sucked into the philosophy of these books because I am always trying to live my life more minimally and simply. And this book does do that..to a certain extent. The capsule wardrobe is explored- have ten or twenty great pieces and manipulate them to form many different looks and outfits.  Buy quality over quantity.  Alter clothes so they fit perfectly. Stick with a neutral color palette.  Accessorize, accessorize, accessorize. This is truly my goal: I want to own no more than ten articles of clothing per season, and just be able to take five minutes to pick out an outfit, yet look fabulous.

Yet, here’s where they start to lose me: the author advocates always being “dressed”.  She writes in slacks and loafers.  She puts an apron on over her good, expensive clothes when cooking.  I just don’t think this is practical. I write in my bathrobe, or in my gym clothes, or in sweats and a t shirt. When I begin to cook dinner I change into a gross t shirt (I am not the neatest cook in the world). I am a true believer in comfortable, junky clothes. If I’m watching TV at night, I don’t want to be in slacks and a blouse… So does this mean I’m not effortlessly elegant?

And let’s delve into the household aspect for a second.  I do not iron my 8000 thread count sheets and spritz them with lavender water. I know.  You’re wagging your finger at me, asking me how I can exist like this….here’s a secret- I own very nice sheets but they are by no means the equivalent cost of a mortgage payment… I wash my sheets…I put them back on the bed…I sleep fine.  But I guess not elegantly.

I also do not have an armoire filled with table linens and different baskets and things that can be used as a centerpiece on my tablescape.  I have a vase that I fill with flowers. For Thanksgiving I throw a couple of gourds in the middle of the table.  At Easter I put some plastic eggs…You’re beginning to get the idea of how I entertain…Elegant? Not even a bit…

I don’t make my own potpourri. Apparently, there is no way I can master l’art de vivre without drying petals…Here’s the thing: I am all for a simple, sophisticated lifestyle. But once I need to start making my own potpourri, I’ve lost the simple. It starts to veer off into territory I don’t want to explore…

Then there’s the charm part.  I am not Princess Charming.  I am Queen Sarcasm. I don’t know how to “small talk”. I do not know how to start conversations with strangers.  I am great with people that I know- I can talk to them for hours.  But put me at a cocktail party with people I don’t know….I freeze. I revert to “Wow- can you believe how windy it was today?” I can read books about how to talk to people, but that doesn’t mean I can actually do it…Elegance….fail.

So….

Am I more elegant or alluring since I read this book? No.  Probably not.

Did I enjoy parts of this book? Yes.  Very much so.

Did some parts of the book make me want to throw my ipad across the room.  Yes.

And I guess that’s the thing about lifestyle books: we read the parts that are important to us, and we skim over what doesn’t work. No one lifestyle book is going to work for anyone because we are al unique people: we are not one size fit all.  We all have things that work for us, and we shouldn’t change it just because a book, or website or blog says that we should.  The art of living is when you figure out a way of life that fits you, brings out the best in you, makes you feel confident and at ease. It makes you internally elegant and alluring. So write your own art of living book, even if it’s just for you.