Dear Santa

Dear Santa,

Every year I promise to write more often, or to call, but here it is, 12 months later and I’m just sitting down to write you this note.

How’ve you been? How is Mrs. Claus? And the elves? I hear that you had to lay off three reindeer this year due to budget cuts. We are having to do more with less too. It’s tough everywhere.

Well, I know you’re uber busy so I’ll get right to it. I wanted to start by telling you about how good I’ve been this year. This year I did not get any speeding tickets, or parking violations, and had only one teeny tiny collision with a shopping cart at the Giant. No one was hurt, and the cart walked away with a squeaky wheel that would only turn right, but I think it was faking it in order to get some time off.

This year I was really good at limiting my purchases at DSW. I am down to three, sometimes only two pairs of shoes per visit!! That’s a big improvement from years past. Also, I lost my temper only a few times this year, and stayed mad for no more than 72 hours, with one exception, which was that time that I did not speak to my husband for a week and a half, but you know I was right, right?!

Anyway, I was very Zen this year and reduced my caffeine intake significantly. I took time to smell the roses, until they made me sneeze. And then I noticed that weeds were taking over my garden, so I used my time management skills to fit gardening into my life. Then I got poison ivy on my arms, legs, and torso, which stressed me out. I started drinking coffee again. Now I’m back to three to six cups per day. I’m taking it one day at a time.

I have also made great strides in controlling my urges for chocolate. Instead of buying my weekly supply of M&Ms, Snickers, and Hershey’s Nuggets, I buy chocolate only once per month, and I buy it at Costco, so I’m saving money too! I have been good at controlling my sweet tooth too. This year, I did not eat all the leftover Halloween candy, and brought it to the office instead. I kept all of my dentist appointments and flossed at least once a month, sometimes twice if I remembered.

This year I was better at taking off my makeup before going to bed after a night out with the girls, or after two glasses of wine with dinner. Other good things I’ve done that are worth noting are: I’ve started recycling! Now, all those empty boxes of wine and bottles go straight to the recycling bin; I turn off the cold water  while I’m brushing my teeth so I am using half of the H2O;  when I leave a room and know that I won’t be back for another three, four, five hours or so, I turn off the lights; I have changed the HVAC filter every three months, just like the manufacturer recommends; I cleaned out the ice trays and dumped the ice cubes that smelled funny or had a crust on them;  I organized my refrigerator and spice drawer and threw away all condiments that expired in 2008 and earlier; I also threw away the old mascara tubes that had accumulated at the bottom of my makeup bag; I took the stairs when the elevator took longer than two minutes, well, unless I was going up more than two floors, you know I still have that hip problem; and I’m down one dress size, HURRAH!!

Given that I have been very, very good this year Santa, I am submitting to you a list of things I would like to receive for Christmas. They are listed in no particular order, but I would prefer to get most of them due to my exemplary performance. I prefer one shipment rather than piecemeal. Please don’t hesitate to call me if you have any questions.

  • To be selected for the show, What You Should Wear, so that I can get a full makeover and a $5,000 gift card to shop in NYC while getting style tips from Stacy and Clinton.
  • Two cases of Connundrum 2010 California White Wine
  • One case of Auka Malbec (any year)
  • A paid spa vacation to Peru, Costa Rica, Ecuador, or France (in order of preference).
  • A monthly $50 Groupon to DSW
  • Cooking lessons – for anything Asian or for baking delicious breads and pastries
  • An entire new undergarment wardrobe including new hose, tights, and pant socks.
  • One year’s worth of body waxing
  • One year’s worth of gas – the one that makes the car run
  • Somebody to do the groceries, pick up the dry-cleaning, iron, vacuum and clean the toilets.
  • Higher interest rates for my savings accounts and 401Ks
  • One year’s worth of massage or physical therapy for the ol’ hip.
  • A non-dairy, good-tasting, comfort food that will keep me regular
  • A reversal elixir for grey hair, sagging boobs, drooping nalgas, and cellulite
  • A decent jewelry allowance
  • A $400 Groupon for teeth whitening
  • An app that finds the empty space in a crowded lot and parks my car
  • Lower air fares to Florida, California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico or anywhere warm in the next three months
  • And, last but not least, good health, peace and quiet, and prosperity for all.

Santa, I really appreciate our relationship and am grateful for all you have given me over the years. Though we have not always agreed on the number of presents you pick from my list, or the timing of their delivery, we have always been able to work things out. I understand that you might have some transportation limitations this year so I am willing to be flexible. If you can’t make it until the 26th or the 27th, I’m okay with that. Thank you in advance for my presents. As in years past, I will leave a plate of cookies and a glass milk by the chimney. Chocolate orange swirl cookies this year! YUM!!

Wishing you and your family a joyous holiday season.

Much Love,

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My Gratitude Prayer

Hello Readers,

Photo of the road

Photo from my trip back home. Minus the rain, and the snow, it's a pretty drive.

Do you know where Hot Springs,Virginia is? It’s far from where I live, and from where you live too. Not only is it far, it’s also a winding drive through two-lane roads, in the mountains where there are no street lights, no emergency shoulders, and no U-turns. Those of you who know me well, know that my other title is the U-turn queen – due to my poor sense of direction.  I had never driven this far south inVirginia so I left early in order to arrive before dark. The day of my departure was very rainy and the forecast called for flash flooding and some possible snow. I left prepared with printed directions and two GPS systems, just to be safe. So, when I missed my exit, I wasn’t too worried. The GPS rerouted me. But, to my disappointment, rather than take me back to the Interstate, it took me through the back roads. This and the heavy rain added more time to my drive. As I started climbing the mountain, it was already dusk and the visibility was diminishing quickly. I was hoping the rain would stop, just until I got to my destination. But, the rain kept coming, pelting my car with heavy drops of water. The water drops go thicker and pretty quickly transformed into a mixture of snow and rain. Snow began to accumulate rapidly, on the road, the trees, the mountain, and my wiper blades. The lines separating the road lanes were covered with the white stuff and it was pitch black. No cars were in front of me so I had to guess where the road was. I was terrified. The road would curve tightly left and then right, and my bright lights only highlighted the speed of the falling snow. There was a long line of cars behind me and though I yearned to park somewhere and wait for the snow to stop, there was nowhere I could pull off. I was so tense that my neck and shoulders ached. All I could do was pray and keep going on the faith that everything was going to be okay. And, thank God, it was. I arrived at my destination one hour later, but I felt I had aged five years. I don’t pray everyday, but I do believe in the power of prayer. My prayers are never as intense and focused as they are when I am afraid or worried. This week’s experience was so intense that I wanted to take the time to write this gratitude prayer. I pray that you are feeling grateful tonight.

My Gratitude Prayer

Thank you God for this day; and all the days before it.

Thank you for your gifts of a healthy mind, body and spirit.

Thank you for your gifts of a wide circle of family and friends who lift me up with encouragement and support;

Thank you for my teachers, here and in heaven, who have guided me well;

Thank you for your gifts of a place to call home, a vehicle to drive, and a job that pays the bills.

Thank you for your blessings on all the people I love and hold dear;

Thank you for keeping me away from peril, and getting me home safely every night;

Thank you for the angels in my life who love me, support me, challenge me and make me better.

Thank you for my pets, here and in heaven, who have brought me so much joy and taught me the value of play and napping;

Thank you for the experiences, good and bad, that shaped me into the person I am today.

God, I thank you for the days when I have been wrong or wronged, for they have taught me about humility, grace, and forgiveness;

Thank for the times when I have been healthy and when I have been ill, for they have taught me about healing and strength;

Thank you for the times when my heart was broken, for they taught me about self-worth, and respect;

God I thank you for the times I doubted you, for they taught me about patience and faith;

Thank you for the times I asked you, Why? Why me God?, and you answered;

Thank you God for teaching me to listen for your voice in the quiet of my heart;

Thank you God for teaching me to see you in the kindness of others and in the breathtaking beauty of nature;

Thank you God for teaching me to feel your love in the embrace of another human being;

Thank you God for challenging me to be better and for giving me the courage to meet your expectations;

Thank you for this day and all the days before it.

God, thank you for my life.

Amen.

 Much Love

Don’t Quit, The Finish Line May Be Around The Corner

I did it! I finally ran my first 5K race on Saturday December 3, 2011. Like a first kiss, I’m sure this race will be etched in memory for the rest of my life.  I will remember that my husband got up at 5:00 a.m. and withstood the cold to be with me. I will remember how cold it was, and how numb my toes and fingers got before the race. I will remember the endless 8-foot wide line of people before and after me. But, most of all, I will remember the last couple of seconds before I crossed the finish line, when I realized that I had accomplished something big. My accomplishment was more than finishing the race in 33 minutes; it was regaining and maintaining good physical fitness and health for over a year.

A goal that took me two years to achieve, getting to a level where I can run up for more than 30 minutes was something that seemed impossible at first. I had many days when I got frustrated because my body felt too heavy to move, my lungs too small to take in the oxygen I needed, and my mind and will too weak to persevere. There were days when I gave up and walked. On those days, I battled my disappointment and the desire to give up. But, there were also days when I went beyond what I thought I could, and proved to myself that I could run 1 mile, run up a hill, run 2 miles, run up two hills, and three, four and five miles. I have to tell you that there were days when I could not believe that I was the same person. Did I really run 5 miles today? I heard that question in my head.

Running a race was different. Knowing that my start time and end time were being recorded brought out my competitive side. A new strategy came into my mind as soon as my start time was recorded. Six months ago when I signed up for the race, I was thinking that I would be happy to just cross the finish line. Yesterday, I knew that finishing was not the issue. I wanted to have a respectable running time. So, when I finally started the race, I focused on finding openings in between the people who were slower than me. I zig-zagged, jogged and passed dozens of runners.  Already, my brain was telling me that in the next race I will start closer to the front. The course wound around a beautiful area, and part of the path was right next to the harbor. I noticed a small beach, a pebbled walk and huge white rocks decorating the walk. In a normal run, they would have been eye candy, making my run more enjoyable. But,  in a race they were potential threats that could cause injuries with a slip or by running too close to rock. At one point, the thought crossed my mind that I had always wanted to run next to water. 

Finally, I found myself behind a group of people that I could not pass. At this point, I relaxed and decided to enjoy running at my normal pace. We rounded a wide corner and started up a long hill. The first quarter of the hill was fine and it felt a lot like the hill that I run by my house. When I made it up half of the hill, I could feel the gravity pushing against me and I was starting to feel the challenge on my legs and my lungs. The hill flattened out a little bit before it banked left for another incline. At this point an internal voice said that it would be a good idea to walk for a few steps, just to catch my breath, and start again in a few minutes. I kept running but the voice insisted that I consider this option. It said, “It’s your first race, so walking part of the way is nothing to be ashamed.” The thought was interrupted by the voice of the announcer cheering racers on and encouraging them to raise their arms as they crossed the finish line. Though I couldn’t see the finish line, I now knew it was very close. No chance of stopping now. I kept going and was grateful that I had not stopped. I kept my pace and raised my arms in victory a few seconds before crossing the finish line. I felt on top of the world.  At that moment, I was the only person in the race, the only one who had crossed the finish line, and the one who had beat an invisible competitor – the me who had wanted to quit a few minutes ago.

A friend told me a story about a man who spent a fortune to find gold. He had found an area where there was evidence of gold and started digging. He kept digging and digging but it seemed that the vein of gold he had discovered was gone. He had been very confident that he would find gold so he kept at it. But, as more time went by, the dig got tougher, the terrain more challenging, and his resources began to dry up. He sold all his equipment and gave up. The story goes that the junk man who bought his old equipment struck a major gold vein only 3 feet away from where the previous digger had given up.  It’s easy to stick to a plan when everything is running smoothly. It takes far more determination and deeper conviction to stick to a plan when things get difficult. And, sometimes, the most difficult thing is to overcome our desire to quit.

I pray that you will defeat the desire to quit when you’re going through a rough patch. Know that the finish line and your desired goal may be around the corner.

Much Love

Don’t Quit, The Finish Line May Be Just Around The Corner

I did it! I finally ran my first race on Saturday December 3, 2011. Like a first kiss, I’m sure this race will be etched in memory for the rest of my life. I will remember that my husband got up at 5:00 a.m. and withstood the cold to be with me. I will remember how cold it was, and how numb my toes and fingers got before the race. I will remember the endless 8-foot wide line of people before and after me. But, most of all, I will remember the last couple of seconds before I crossed the finish line, when I realized that I had accomplished something big. My accomplishment was more than finishing the race in 33 minutes; it was regaining and maintaining good physical fitness and health for over a year.

A goal that took me two years to achieve, getting to a level where I can run up for more than 30 minutes was something that seemed impossible at first. I had many days when I got frustrated because my body felt too heavy to move, my lungs too small to take in the oxygen I needed, and my mind and will too weak to persevere. There were days when I gave up and walked. On those days, I battled my disappointment and the desire to give up. But, there were also days when I went beyond what I thought I could, and proved to myself that I could run 1 mile, run up a hill, run 2 miles, run up two hills, and three, four and five miles. I have to tell you that there were days when I could not believe that I was the same person. Did I really run 5 miles today? I heard that question in my head.

Running a race was different. Knowing that my start time and end time were being recorded brought out my competitive side. A new strategy came into my mind as soon as my start time was recorded. Six months ago when I signed up for the race, I was thinking that I would be happy to just cross the finish line. Yesterday, I knew that finishing was not the issue. I wanted to have a respectable running time. So, when I finally started the race, I focused on finding openings in between the people who were slower than me. I zig-zagged, jogged and passed dozens of runners. Already, my brain was telling me that in the next race I will start closer to the front. The course wound around a beautiful area, and part of the path was right next to the harbor. I noticed a small beach, a pebbled walk and huge white rocks decorating the walk. In a normal run, they would have been eye candy, making my run more enjoyable. But, in a race they were potential threats that could cause injuries with a slip or by running too close to rock. At one point, the thought crossed my mind that I had always wanted to run next to water.

Finally, I found myself behind a group of people that I could not pass. At this point, I relaxed and decided to enjoy running at my normal pace. We rounded a wide corner and started up a long hill. The first quarter of the hill was fine and it felt a lot like the hill that I run by my house. When I made it up half of the hill, I could feel the gravity pushing against me and I was starting to feel the challenge on my legs and my lungs. The hill flattened out a little bit before it banked left for another incline. At this point an internal voice said that it would be a good idea to walk for a few steps, just to catch my breath, and start again in a few minutes. I kept running but the voice insisted that I consider this option. It said, “It’s your first race, so walking part of the way is nothing to be ashamed.” The thought was interrupted by the voice of the announcer cheering racers on and encouraging them to raise their arms as they crossed the finish line. Though I couldn’t see the finish line, I now knew it was very close. No chance of stopping now. I kept going and was grateful that I had not stopped. I kept my pace and raised my arms in victory a few seconds before crossing the finish line. I felt on top of the world. At that moment, I was the only person in the race, the only one who had crossed the finish line, and the one who had beat an invisible competitor – the me who had wanted to quit a few minutes ago.

A friend told me a story about these men who spent their life’s fortune to find gold. They had found an area where there was evidence of gold and started digging. They kept digging and digging with no results. They were very confident that gold would be found if they just kept at it. But, as more time went by, the dig got tougher, the terrain more challenging, and their resources dried up. They gave up. The story goes that another team took over the area and struck a major gold vein only 3 miles from where the guys had given up. It’s easy to stick to a plan when everything is running smoothly. It takes far more determination and deeper conviction to stick to a plan when things get difficult. And, sometimes, the most difficult thing to overcome is our desire to quit.

I pray that you will defeat the desire to quit when you’re going through a rough patch. Know that the finish line and your desired goal may be just around the corner.

Much Love