soft as nails

Here is a typical text exchange:

Him:  You’re so picky.

Me:  Did you seriously just call me picky?! …I’ll have you know that your woman is discerning, selective and has high standards.

Him:  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Me:  So you like that I’m picky…

the Christmas wrap

I’ve been crazy busy lately, putting on my sprinting cleats as soon as I wake each day and not taking them off until 10 or 11 each night, so I apologize for neglecting you, dear readers.

Finally, at about 4pm on Christmas Eve, the lines at Target were enough to cause me to see the light:  The children really didn’t need any more goodies in their stockings or gifts under the tree — by the time the celebrating was through, we’d all have lost count of how many packages were unwrapped and there would be more new toys and games to play with than could be done in a day. Enough.

But what I really want to share here is the joy it brings me to give gifts. I pride myself on being a thoughtful gift giver, and I think my loved ones would say I do pretty well. It’s especially fun to consider and buy for someone new in one’s life, and I’ve already written how allowing my beau to open one of his gifts early earned me some points.

And receiving gifts allows us to see ourselves through another’s eyes. By way of explaining, let me tell you that my wardrobe is chock full of the same black items. I’ll see something at the store, try it on and love it — because I’ve had success with something incredibly similar before, whether it’s the cut of my trousers or the draped neckline of a top. So I can’t tell you what a delight it’s been to receive a few new pieces to add to my wardrobe this Christmas. My special guy clearly sees me in a more colorful and versatile way than I’ve been seeing myself. What a nice discovery! Plus I’ve been getting an awful lot of compliments.

A colorful new me? He may be on to something.

too much

I’m one of those women who do too much. I seem to recall a book by that title several years ago. I haven’t read it, but I have an inkling about what might be inside.

True, I bring much of it on myself. In addition to working full-time and parenting 85% of the time, I’m busy planning a dish for the holiday potluck at work this week, addressing somewhere in the neighborhood of 100 holiday cards, shopping and wrapping gifts, and trying to keep up with the usual chores. I’ve spent the weekend baking three different types of cookies, corralling the children to cut shapes from the dough and, later, to frost, ice, sprinkle, dip and otherwise decorate the cookies that will become gifts for their teachers. This afternoon, we put together little bags and trudged throughout the neighborhood, delivering sweets and cards to neighborhood friends.

I know full well that, as a single woman, I am not expected to send cards, bake cookies or bring a homemade dish for the potluck. I could skip out on a good share of the “extras” I assign myself, yet it would be hard to let go. I have an extended family who I see rarely. Sending a card and photos once a year seems the least I could do in an attempt to stay in touch.

Like so many people my age, I grew up with a stay-at-home mother. She kept a clean home, made healthy, well-balanced meals, decorated a fresh fir-tree each year and baked cookies and such. Those experiences I didn’t get at home, I acquired through community — cookie baking events, crafts and more. While I’ve chosen to parent differently in many ways, I recall many of my childhood events fondly and want to create similar traditions with my own children.

So, while I am beyond wiped out after a busy weekend, it’s balanced by a sense of motherly accomplishment and peace. No one is likely to compare me to Martha, either, but it’s nice to have a few shining domestic moments.

rising through the ranks

I must have done something right last weekend, because my guy said I improved my BCS standings with him. (BCS, for those of you who don’t watch college football — like myself — stands for Bowl Championship Series, which is the cockamamie way in which the NCAA determines a national champion team. Don’t ask.)

It all began with a small gesture:  an early Christmas gift with which I presented him, thinking we could enjoy it together while relaxing around the house. It was one of those conversation-starter card sets for couples that you get at fancy gift stores for what you know is an outrageous profit based on the bit of acrylic and printed paper that goes in to these suckers. At any rate, it was well worth the quality time shared talking over questions and hypothetical scenarios because it allowed us to do his favorite thing — talk and share and listen.

We got to know each other a bit better — and I guess it scored me some points, too!


I started writing this post well over a month ago:

Every so often, I still catch myself in that contracted state of responding from a place of fear or lack, as though I’m in a full-on life flinch, constantly anticipating another of life’s right hooks. And then, moments later, when I realize what I’m doing, that the proverbial perceived threat was only imagined, I relax and wonder at this baffling behavior…

Often this realization hits me while doing the most mundane of all activities, such as grocery shopping. I’ll neglect to buy ingredients for some fabulous meal I’d love to make because my children wouldn’t appreciate it, or it’s too much work for just one, or for some other reason that ends up sounding much more like an excuse. Banal example though it may be, it’s symptomatic of the recent phase in my life spent focused so much on making others happy that I’d forgotten to take care of myself.

Sometimes this divorce-recovery stuff seems like a slow climb out of the bomb shelter. Imagine me stepping up and out cautiously, feeling a bit leery, eyes squinting against the brightness of daylight.

Today, I can happily report that I bought old favorites like Brussels sprouts and Swiss chard and more while grocery shopping. I intend to make the foods I like and, if my children won’t eat them, I’ll take the leftovers to work. I also enlisted some help and cleaned a bunch of junk out of the garage. For the first time in nearly a decade, I can actually park my car in it!

In other words, I’ve successfully taken another leap or two in relaxing into this new position of President and CEO of my own life.