Start Putting Yourself FIRST!

Take that last piece of pizza.

Watch the TV show YOU want to watch.

Turn up your nose at the burned slice of toast; throw it to the birds and make yourself a fresh one.

Go get yourself a manicure/pedicure/massage/bubble bath/whatever tickles your fancy.

Have an adventure.

Go see a movie you really want to see; don’t wait for someone else to agree to go with you–just GO.

Treat yourself to one of those fancy-schmancy lattes.

Go hide somewhere with a favorite book, and don’t come out until you want to.

Remember that funky ring you saw for $30? Go buy it and wear it.

Turquoise, red, purple and green tooled leather clogs? If you love them (more importantly, if your FEET love them), buy them before someone else does.

..and go and do all those things you want to do, but have been delaying in order to put someone else first.

(And please note that I am NOT going to qualify all the above with some politically-correct statement about being responsible, blah, blah, blah–you know what I’m talking about. I know you’re not going to steal food from your children, spend the car payment money on a new pair of leather boots, etc. This is just a reminder that it is perfectly fine for you to make yourself Number One for a change.)

 

 

 

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What It’s Like to Feed Skunks

We have been feeding “our” skunks for years now. A few generations of them have lived under the shed over the stone wall from our backyard, and we have all become used to each other. They adore Purina Cat Chow, and each evening we put a pan of it out underneath our back porch, along with a pan of water.

They know us so well that by now that they usually are waiting by the time I open the cellar door with their dinner. I tell them, “Ok, kids, I’m going to put your food down and you’re not going to spray me, all right?” So far, the system works. By now they don’t even wait for me to go back inside before they waddle out to eat.

The regular diners are Blondie, a large mostly white skunk, Bushy, another good-sized fellow with a tremendous tail, and three Stripeys; Stripey 1, 2, and 3; all with a thin white stripe running straight down their foreheads to their noses. They have their own pecking order at the pan; anyone who commits a breech of etiquette gets a nip or a shove to put him in his place.

Other than that, they behave nicely and rarely leave a scent. I personally find them adorable; they wobble from side to side and have surprisingly delicate cat-like paws. Their manners (once they settle on who eats first) are quite civilized, and they crunch appreciatively but not loudly.

When they finish their food, they usually wander out to our garden in warm weather, and dig out grubs for dessert. (They are welcome to them!) In cold weather, they retreat back to their shed and snuggle up together.  When there is a lot of snow, my husband thoughtfully snow-blows a walkway for them.

Before we all go to bed (my husband and the cats and me, but not with the skunks), I always lean over the porch and tell them goodnight, and that they are welcome anytime.

Wads of Paper Towels and Other Annoyances

I have often told my husband that I love him more than my jewelry, and it’s true. He is a much nicer person than I am, not to mention a lot handier and more patient. He’s about as close to perfect (for me, anyway) as is humanly possible.

However, some of his habits DRIVE. ME. NUTS. Most of them are pretty innocuous and easily overlooked. (Really, leaving a pair of briefs hanging on the bathroom doorknob isn’t a hill I want to die on.) But the one I can’t seem to get over or understand is his never-ending paper towel wads–everywhere. They are usually clean, folded up in neat squares, tucked away in his pants’ pockets or bathrobe (which translate to shredded wads of paper towels in the dryer), or left on top of the little table beside his chair on which he puts his cup of coffee. (By the way, we do own coasters, but evidently I’m the only one who uses them.)

The other less-neat ones are sodden lumps of shredded ones left by the sink or beside the stove ‘in case there’s a spill (and how effective is a wet paper towel on a spill anyway?),’ or the one wadded up by the cold water faucet in the bathroom (it always leaks), or piles of neatly folded and stained ones on his desk, or the ones he sometimes leaves on the kitchen floor to skate across when he doesn’t have time to change out of his boots. They are EVERYWHERE. When I toss them away (usually muttering loudly), he says, ‘I was going to use that, you know!’ Um, sure–WHEN?

The Number 2 Annoying Thing is how he carefully peels off the rubber cement that always comes on the back of a new laminated card, AAA, etc., rolls it up and sticks it on a surface he KNOWS I will touch–like my keyboard. Honestly, it’s like leaving boogers around. As long as we’ve been together, you would think I’d be used to it by now. But it always catches me by surprise, it’s always disgusting, and he always laughs his head off. The truth is, men don’t ever really stop being boys. They just can’t help it.

Well, I’d like to tell you more, but I have to go wash some rubber cement boogers off my fingers now….

 

 

Fabulous Orange/Mustard Sauce

This recipe couldn’t be easier, and it’s a terrific sauce for chicken, turkey, vegetables; just about anything.

Ingredients:

1 cup of orange juice

1/3 cup of mustard (yellow, spicy, brown, hot; whatever you prefer)

Directions:

Heat up a frying pan and pour in the orange juice. Over medium heat, stir until the consistency changes to a more syrupy texture. Add in the mustard and stir until well mixed.

Pour this over your meal and enjoy. You can adjust the measurements according to how many people you’re feeding, how much mustard you prefer, and so on.

 

New Summer

(This is a poem I wrote the year we found out that Mom had a serious health issue. Every summer for decades, she and my dad would spend weeks in Maine in a rented cottage. It was something they loved and looked forward to each year. After the diagnosis, they thought that perhaps they shouldn’t go that year. I decided to write this poem to remind us all that happiness and a vacation state of mind can happen at home. But happily, they did go to Maine that year, Mom is doing great, and they continue to go to Maine each summer.)

 

This summer we’ll shake it all up

Maybe sip our wine from a coffee cup.

Instead of Maine from June til fall

We’ll stay here, and make a new summer of it all.

 

Instead of camping in small rooms,

We’ll sit on our steps and hear the thunder boom.

We’ll trace the boundaries of our new July

By twilight, moon and firefly.

 

Day trips we never took before

Will make new memories, new family lore.

We’ll drive home, happy and spent

And rest sweetly in our bedroom tent.

 

Life’s not always about our getaways

It’s about the way we fill our days.

Our laughter, our tears, our joys and fears

Make a rainbow ribbon of our shared years.

 

This summer, Scrabble games can be at home,

Let our friends come to us, in groups or alone.

A book read in the hammock on the lawn

Can be as satisfying as ocean colors at dawn.

 

The sea, the stars, the trees and flowers

We loved in Maine are always ours.

The pictures in our minds keep them near

Just as bright, and close, and clear.

 

Our own home, yard and summer sounds

Will take us through our ups and downs

This year will be different, no doubt—

But change and hope’s what life’s all about.

 

Summer at home will be a vase of new flowers

New adventures, new trips, more happy hours!

More love, more joy, more kisses, more hugs

More birdsong, more jokes, and more lightning bugs.

 

So let’s change our summer of regularity

To a new one of singularity.

Let us trade our years-old scope

For a new and shining one of love and hope.

It Isn’t Always About YOU..

When I was a teenager, I took an incredibly long time each morning to get my hair to look just right. Mom would finally say, “The entire world is not waiting for you to come out the front door; move it!”

Whatever we look like–our age, size, style, hairdo, makeup, clothes, etc., the whole world actually is NOT watching and judging. But you can put money on the fact that someone somewhere is looking at you wistfully, thinking ‘I wish I had her hair,’ or ‘I wish my eyes were that pretty shade of blue,’ or ‘I wish I had a cute nose like hers,’ or ‘I wish I could speak so confidently,’ or ‘I wish I could wear that color,’ and the list goes on. Something about yourself that you take for granted is someone else’s wish.

When someone compliments you, don’t discount it–accept it for the gift it is and all you need to say is ‘thank you.’ Thanking the giver of the compliment is a gift to them.

Keep an Attitude of Gratitude

Gratitude is a habit, just like anything else. Do something for at least 30 days, and boom–it becomes a habit. When we wake up in the morning, we can say, ‘oh, crap–another day.’ Or we can say, ‘fabulous! Another day!’

Even if we think we have nothing to be grateful for, we always do. We are breathing, aren’t we? I lost a dear friend of mine years ago. She had been battling leukemia for years, had a bone marrow transplant, and died much too young. She was a funny and loving woman with a wicked sense of humor. Her favorite saying was, ‘any day on this side of the grass is a good day.’ I’ve never forgotten her or this saying. My homage to her is to find something to be grateful for each day.

Gratitude is catching, too. When it rains, we can think ‘ugh, I hate rain!’ or we can think ‘woo-hoo–rain! Now I don’t have to mow the lawn!’ If we can just get ourselves in the habit of noticing what is around us, even little things can make us happy. It’s all in the way we look at things. When something bad happens, it isn’t fun, and we’ve all been there. If we can try to think ‘ok, so what can I take away from this? What did I learn?’ then there is something positive about it.

Every job interview I have ever had has included this question: “So, tell me about the bad jobs you’ve had and why.” I have to say that, although I have had pretty challenging jobs, they have all been good experiences. Why? Because I was forced to learn a basic principle about work and life in general: if you don’t like something, you have three choices–live with it, try to change it, or walk away. I have done all three with varying degrees of success. Additionally, I learned that it is wise to refrain from trashing your former job or boss–not only is it unprofessional, but it makes a would-be employer think twice about hiring you.

When my first marriage ended after 10 years, I was devastated. I didn’t see it coming, and it blindsided me. I called my parents and cried my eyes out. They were wonderfully understanding and soothing (even though they were not big fans of my first husband). When I calmed down, Mom said, “I know you feel just awful right now, but do you feel as bad as you did when Billie (one of my beloved cats) died?” I stopped crying instantly, and said, “NO!” and started laughing. It really put things into perspective. I came to realize that it was a gift to me (and probably my ex) to leave that marriage.

If it were not for that first marriage, I wouldn’t be married to the love of my life right now. I would not have learned the things I needed to, or grown into the person I am now. We all know that change is hard; changing habits are hard. But sticking with a new habit gets easier all the time.

If we are around negative people or situations, we don’t always have the choice of just walking away. But we do have a choice as to how we react. Making the choice to be happy and grateful, no matter what, is a decision that can change not only our outlook on life, but even our health. Each breath we take in and breathe out is a gift. We have no idea how many breaths we will have in this life, but we can choose to celebrate each one.

We all can develop and keep an attitude of gratitude and let that habit transform us. Live it, love it, enjoy it, and pass it on.