A Shoulder Tale

Once upon a time, the royal household received a delivery of pet supplies, a three pound bag of dog food and a twenty seven pound canister of cat litter.  The King brought the big box up from the lobby and left it in the hallway of the royal apartment.

The royal household is run on a tight budget, so the hallway is more petit than it is grande, so the big box took up half the hallway, and  the royal family members had to walk around or over the box to get from one side of the palace to the other. After five hours of this, the queen finally opened the box and took out the dog food and put it away.  Then the Queen went to lift the heavy litter.  Well, to be frank, the Queen was a little ticked off that no other member of the royal household was willing to put anything away, so she wasn’t really paying attention to how she took the litter out.  And what happens when you don’t pay attention? The Queen ended up aggravating her right shoulder.

Ow.

Alas, the pain was somewhat mild, so the Queen just went about her day and tried to make sure her shoulder didn’t aggravate her as much as her family aggravates her.

And though there was a twinge of pain, the Queen was able to get by.

Last evening, the Queen decided to end her week with a Queen-like bath: bath bomb, face mask, music, candle, hot tea, warm water. Perfection.  After her water relaxation, the Queen began her post bath ritual- which is a plethora of lotions and creams.  And as the Queen began applying her favorite lavender lotion, the Queen heard a pop of sorts.  But the pop of sorts did not come from the speaker.  No.  This sound came from the Queen’s shoulder.

OWWWWWWW

The Queen was in so much pain her eyes crossed. She was having trouble putting her robe on.

OWWWWWWWW

And the Queen exited the bathroom and started barking orders- someone heat up the heat wrap.  Someone get me a pain reliever.

And the Queen went to lay in her bed.

The King and the Princess realized that they better move and move fast.  The longer the Queen was out of commission, the worse it was going to be for them.

When the Queen woke up this morning she was feeling a little better (talk about waking up on the wrong side of 50…) but she knows that she can not push it, or pull it, or lift it. She knows that her shoulder is a big accident waiting to happen.

The Queen surveyed the Palace this morning and noticed that no one put anything away- dirty dishes on the coffee table, clean dishes in the dishwasher, clothes on the floor, snacks left on the kitchen counter.

The Queen was not (and is not) amused.

But the Queen is going to put a blindfold on and ignore the state of the palace.

The Queen is going to rest her shoulder.

So that they can live happily ever after.

 

 

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Gratitude Saturday December 15

You all know that this week did not go exactly as I wanted it to… But we keep going…

  1. My Husband turned 50 this week!
  2. He finally got his AARP card so I am no longer the butt of the age jokes
  3. lotion for dry skin
  4. sneakers
  5. A Christmas tree that is not too big
  6. the subways running when I need them to
  7. My writing friend K who called me with a great writing idea
  8. My friend G who listened to me whine when I awaited my daughters college results
  9. Mt daughter winning a High School service award
  10. Beautiful holiday cards with pictures of children

The Tale of the Bread and the Bagel

Once upon a time there was a Queen who ruled over her kitchen with a mighty hand.  On Sunday evenings, the Queen liked to clean out the fridge and utilize all the leftovers and veggies that were left. The Queen liked to start off the week with a clean slate. The Queen was a little weird this way…

So one Sunday Eve, the Queen took out a container of lentil/tomato  cassoulet, and a small bowl of rice and set to reheating them. After glancing at the freezer and the cabinets the Queen made a royal decree:

“I have tuna and cheddar, rye bread and bagels.  Who wants what?”

The Princess answered “Tuna, cheese and bread please.”

The King responded. “Bread.  Tuna.  No cheese.”

And the Queen took four slices of rye out of the freezer, and got the tuna down from the shelf. She then began assembling the hodgepodge that would be called “Dinner”. As she stirred and reheated, the King entered the kitchen.  He looked at the griddle where the bread was heating and stated:

“Where’s my bagel?”

And the Queen looked at him askance.

“You said bread.” The queen responded.

“Bagel is bread” The King retorted.

And the yes it is, no it’s not went on for a few rounds until the Queen said:

“If I send you to the royal market and ask you to pick up bread, are you coming home with a dozen bagels?”

The King got a little red in the face and sort of stomped his feet like a petulant toddler. Finally he said:

“Ok.  I see your point.  Maybe you are more correct in this incident.  But you have to understand my point of view.”

And the Queen just looked at him for a second, then put two slices of rye bread on each plate and said:

“Just make the tuna.”

And she walked out of the kitchen and lived happily, and correctly, ever after.

 

 

 

Rewrite…..Rewrite

Last weekend my Daughter and I went to an Off Broadway show- “Christmas in Hell”. This musical was put on by the York Theater Company, and is currently in previews.  Here’s the thing about previews: everyone involved in the show looks critically at each performance and tried to figure out what tweaks will make the show better.

Before the Saturday evening performance, the artistic director stood on stage and welcomed us to the production. He made the easy joke about Christmas in Hell was being performed in the basement of a Lutheran Church and btw, Happy Hanukah.  And then he told us that the first act of the show had been changed since the last preview performance because they had done some reworking that morning to make the meaning and timeline more clear.

That morning.

That morning they moved scenes around, changed dialogue here and there, etc.

For a musical that had already had a few performances.

The Author changed his play.

As you can see, I’m still baffled by this because I get freaked out by editing.

I’m presently in the heavy editing phase of my book. And I’m presently in the land of not wanting to cut things that aren’t working. I’m firmly entrenched in letting scenes, no matter how inconsequential or wrong, stay on the page. I am having trouble divorcing myself from the words that I have written.

When I (substitute yourself if you fall into this category) put words on a page, these words and sentences and paragraphs and pages and chapters become my baby. I have given birth to these things, and Mama wants to protect her baby at all costs.  How can my baby not be the prettiest thing in all the world?  I wrote it…

Ego.

We all need at least a semblance of an ego in order to survive. We have to have confidence in who we are and what we do. But…we can’t let that ego get the better of us.  We have to be able to distinguish the right path from the not so right path. And we have to know when and how to edit our work.

I’ve been having trouble with rewrites on my third chapter, which in my work is a necessary but odd chapter as I do a quasi flashback. The scenes in this chapter are pivotal to the plotline of the rest of the book. And I had one scene…. My writing group friend said as gently as possible that a certain scene just didn’t work.  And I know she is right. I know exactly what she is saying. But I still had trouble reworking it.

Until yesterday.

Yesterday, I just deleted the offending paragraphs and retooled it.  It’s still not perfect, but it’s better. It’s tighter. It’s a better use of words to describe the situation.

Part of me feels much better that I reworked and retooled.  And part of me thinks I let down my baby- that I didn’t think baby was good enough…

That’s the difference between writers who publish novels, and writers who have a manuscript in the draw- published authors know how to divorce themselves from the words on a page- to know that they are just words that can be replaced by other words.

I need to remember that editing doesn’t mean it’s not good.  Editing means you’re making something better.

Psst………

I was at a tea society event the other day. It was held at the Jo Malone counter of the last great department store- Bergdorf Goodman. The store is the epitome of grace and class and reminders of what shopping used to be like. We stood in the newly renovated section of the cosmetics department, sipping Palais du Tea blends, eating little triangles of bread, sans crust, filled with light smatterings of cream cheese, chicken salad and smoked salmon. And there were macarons of course.

As we waited for our complimentary hand massages and consultation to find our signature scent blend (if you really want to know what fragrances make up my aromatic calling card I can probably be coerced into telling you…) one of the women came up to me and whispered in my ear…

“Have you seen….(voice goes lower) ‘Dirty John’?”

And I whispered back “OMG- I’m obsessed!”

And we continued to bring back our pre adolescent days by whispering in one anothers ears, and giggling. It reminded me of the days when “Fifty Shades” first came out. Which, for the record, I did not read.

But see- that’s the thing: why am I so adamant about telling you that I DID NOT read the 50 shades books?

I wrote a scathing diatribe against the book “Kissing Quotient.” I thought the book was tawdry and cheap.  Yet…it was Goodreads top romance book for 2018. Which means people voted on it.  Which means people read it.

But…

I don’t know anyone other than myself who admits to reading it…

So apparently this book was voted “Best Romance” even though no one read it.

Why do we whisper the names of certain shows, books, movies?

Why do we consider watching Real Housewives a guilty pleasure

What’s wrong with enjoying things that are not “intellectual”?

Why are we so embarrassed to admit that we like things that might be considered “tawdry”?

Well….we do it to ourselves.

Have you ever looked down on someone who said they did something you think is ridiculous? I know I have. (which explains why no one will admit to reading Kissing Quotient when I’m in earshot) But I shouldn’t be doing that.  Ever.  I should never look oddly at someone for doing something that they enjoy.

So as of today, I’m going to stop referring to my watching “Catfish” as a guilty pleasure.  From now on it will just be a pleasure.  I will no longer refer to it as a documentary on life in an internet age.  I will proudly call it a reality show that peeks into peoples dating lives.

And I’m going to stop judging others for whatever pleasure they have.

 

 

Gratitude Saturday

On Saturdays I try to reflect back on the things that were good during the week- no matter how large or small. I need to stop and savor the moment every now and then, even if I was unable to buy Queen tickets.

  1. My Daughter was named one of the NYC PSAL (public school athletic league) MVP Scholar Athletes
  2. My Sister’s birthday
  3. My daughters friends and my friends children are beginning to get college acceptance letters
  4. warm scarves
  5. celebrating Hanukah with my family
  6. Finally figuring out how to spell Hanukah
  7. Potato pancakes with chunky applesauce
  8. Holiday Music in small doses
  9. Netflix and Amazon Prime Video
  10. That others are worried about the new WordPress Editor
  11. My friends who keep pulling me back in if I start to wander away

Buzzing Around Mindfulness

The next thing I’m going to work on next year is mindfulness.  Now, before you start thinking- “Oh good- LA has gotten so trite she is now going to go down the list of 2018 buzz words…” hear me out.

One of our favorite family vacation anecdotes revolves around our trip to Zion Canyon in Utah (FYI- one of the most spectacular places I’ve ever seen). My daughter was probably about seven, and this was the first trip we’d taken which did not in some way revolve around an amusement part.

We arrived at the park about noon local time.  We’d flown into Vegas the night before, and made the drive that morning. My daughter and I stood on the trail admiring the beauty of the majestic landscape before me. (OK- I was admiring.  My daughter wanted to know when we were going to ride horses…) Husband was about ten feet ahead of us and looked back and said “Come on. Let’s get on with it.”  I walked up to him and said “Where are we hurrying to? It’s not like we’re going to miss the 6 train…”

See- here’s the thing: Me, my husband, my daughter, the people around me are often so focused on checking things off our never ending lists that we forget to stop and think about what is going on in front of us. I often need a literal canyon in front of me to make me stop and take it all in.

Mindful.

Where am I rushing to? Why am I rushing? I need to stop and ask myself these questions at least once a day.  I set phone reminders to make sure I take care of tasks: buy milk- ping, mail stitchfix back- ping, change litter- ping.  I’m going to set reminders to take a mind break.

“LA- stop what you’re doing and take a deep breath. Look at what is right in front of you.” PING.

Why is this so important? Because we’re not here to just take care of to do’s. We’re here to take care of each other.  We’re here to take care of ourselves. To take of our bodies, our minds and our souls.

And that’s the most important thing to check off the list.

And in a strange coincidence, something really good just happened in our household, so I’m going to savor the moment!

Relationship Goals

I don’t do resolutions: I set goals.  I try to figure out areas of my life that need help, and then I attempt to fix them, sometimes more successfully than others. In the upcoming year, my goal is to get better at relationships.

What do I mean by better at relationships? On the surface it would appear that I do OK in that department.  I have reasonably successful relationships with numerous people: friends, family, partners, etc.  I have a fatal flaw involving relationships though.  I tend to push people away.

Luckily, I have been blessed with friends who just push their way in and keep nudging, friends who hold onto the back of you collar tightly and pull you back into the fold. But you see, I’m really good at pushing away the people in my life that matter. Do you know how the majority of my closest friends found out that my Dad has cancer?  In my blog. I can talk about a lot of things (trust me- I can talk) but I have trouble talking about the most important things. I don’t particularly like opening myself up. I have trouble letting people in.

Somewhere in the back of my mind I feel that if I let someone in, they might hurt me. Ironically, I end up getting hurt anyway- because who wants to be friends with someone not committed to a friendship.

So, I’m going to concentrate of talking less about silly things, and more about things that matter. I’m going to listen better- I don’t think I’m a particularly good listener. And I’m going to try to let the people that mean the most to me into my world. I think it’s worth the risk.

 

Pre Season

One month from now, most of you will be giving up on your New Years resolutions. Seriously- think about it: On January first, the world is your oyster.  You are going to lose weight, drink less, exercise more, organize your closet, learn Mandarin…whatever.  And then, all of a sudden it’s December fourth and you’re done.

How do you change that mindset?

Think of it like this: do athletes just show up at the field/arena/stadium and play? Or do they start training weeks earlier?

Yeah….weeks earlier.  So when the season starts they are warmed up and ready and have a game plan.

So think of December as your pre season to New Years Resolutions.

  1. What? Pick one resolution (I call them goals) Think about it- It’s better to succeed at one then fail at four.
  2. Why? Make sure you want to change or resolve for the correct reasons (do you want to lose weight because you want to feel better, or because you think you will attract a partner if you’re thinner?)
  3. Who? Find a buddy to talk to about your resolution, or an expert that will give you logical advice.  Think about Doctors, trainers and teachers that can help you succeed.
  4. Where? Figure out if you need a place to help your goal.  Gym? Dedicated writing area? I know people who fail at writing goals because they don’t have a place to write that makes them feel comfortable to be creative.
  5. How? This is the big one.  How are you going to accomplish your resolution? Here’s my one cent: Make a plan. Figure out what tools you need. Look to the internet for advice (this is the good thing about the net- the plethora of information available at your fingertips) Write out the steps and put them in your planner (you know my secret goal is to get all of you to use a planner)
  6. When? When things get tough, when things don’t go the exact way you want (your triceps are still wiggly) what will be your motivation to get to the next step?

You don’t have to resolve to do anything- but let’s face it: most of us do. So if you’re going to set up a goal for 2019, you might as well prepare yourself the best you can. You can’t just wake up on January first and know how you’re going to learn Mandarin. Make it that January first starts your new timeline.  January One is the day you do a duolingo that you have already registered for.

Prep work.  It’s a good thing. It can help you get to where you are going.

 

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.