Olympics & Oreos

olympic loungeOh look, it’s time for me to grab a couple Oreos, put my feet up, and watch unbelievably remarkable feats of athleticism on TV. Gotta love the Olympics. After the first five minutes, my guilt about curling up comfy & cozy under a blanket while those crazy people risk life and limb to prove they are the best, fades… after all, we each make our own choices, right? And, let’s face it, those athletes are not normal people. They are, with all due respect, freaks of nature.

Oh, sure, those cute ads during the commercial breaks about “you can make your dreams come true if you drink milk” tug at the heart strings, and “if you believe in it, you can make it happen” is motivational.  But I’m sorry, these athletes are not like the rest of us. I mean, really… with each Olympics, the bar of amazement and perfection raises higher. The competitors are in a level of peak physical condition the majority of us will never even get close to experiencing or working hard enough to reach. Beyond that, these people have seemingly no fear — only drive, passion and a ridiculous amount of energy. Even more incredible is the number of them who have come back after accidents, injuries and trauma to do it all over again. “Yeah, ok, so I’ve torn my ACL three times, but what the heck, I feel better now, so let me go speeding down that mountain again.”  While the rest of us mere mortals would be all “Nah, I’m good, I’ve got a nice spot on the couch.”

I’ve noticed something else this year too. They are all beautiful.  Come ON. Just look at these people:

vonn_lindsey_150x250     ligety_ted_150x250    Speedskating_Davis_Shani-150x250   kim_chloe_150x250

and of course, there’s this guy:

pita tonga

As if all that isn’t enough, for the most part they all seem to be really nice. In interviews and in comments before and after their events, they all seem excited, grateful and although confident, not snobby.  They are tweeting cute and funny things about being hangry.  Oh, I’m sure there are a few tremendous ego’s among them. Can we blame them? How could you NOT develop an ego when you are young, gorgeous, a world-class athlete, with lucrative offers of sponsorships and celebrity endorsements being offered, and – oh yes, you may just be one of the tiny fraction of the population who happens to have a large gold medal hanging around your neck.

So here the rest of us sit, watching these athlete superhero’s cavort around on mountains, ice and in the air, making us feel even more normal and regular and… well, real than ever. A couple of years ago, during the summer Olympics, I posted some thoughts about some activities that I thought we RW’s excel in on a regular basis that could be our own Olympic events. Once again, now as I watch Chloe Kim fly 10 feet in the air on her snowboard, and Mirai Nagasu land a nearly impossible spinning jump while on skates, I ponder our great successes.

What if medals were awarded for events like the Multiple Grocery Bag Carry as we struggle with bringing bags in from the car, or the Kitchen Speed Clean after dinner? How about the Balance and Agility Course between laundry area and bedroom? Then there’s the Mind Like A Steel Trap trials as R.W.’s everywhere remember birthdays, school permission slips and what to thaw for dinner all while tracking deadlines at work.  The follow up event to that is the Multiple Pet or Child Household Feeding Program. And my favorite, the bonus round for extra points, the 60 Minutes or Less Workout . Those pro’s may be skating or skiing the equivalent of five marathons, but we pull off an astonishing few minutes on a treadmill followed by ten whole sit-ups. Darn remarkable.

As for looking like some sort of Sports Illustrated Cover Model, well, we’ll leave that to the Special Ones we are watching on NBC. We show our pride in ourselves for each day that we manage to wear matching socks, underwear that’s not falling apart, a blouse that looks somewhat ironed, and on top of it all, pull off a good hair day.

We all deserve gold, silver and bronze medals for our own Olympic events. We too deserve to have some sort of bling we can wear to show how outstandingly regular, normally human, and amazing we all are.

I do recognize, however, that I need to rethink my planned Medal Ceremonies.  I keep eating the medallions.

Oreo-Olympic-Medal1

 

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Be That Woman

lucyI went to the bank at lunch time today. Yes, I actually went inside to interact with real humans to conduct my withdrawal and deposit business instead of pushing buttons on the ATM machine. Ever since our debit cards were compromised, I’ve gone back to my “old school” ways and have opted for human contact. It’s remarkably pleasant to be greeted by a friendly face, be able to verbally explain what I need done, and walk away feeling confident that my identity was not stolen.

In our digital age, where virtually every interaction is turning into a faceless transaction, taking the extra few moments in our day to be around humans can be astonishingly refreshing. Sure, too much humanity all at once in a crowded mayhem-like environment can be less enjoyable (like a busy subway system or a super Wegmans), but in small doses, we can be surprised by the satisfaction of interacting with living, breathing beings. When I walked into the local branch of my bank, it was quiet and calm, with light music playing. There were just a few other customers in there at the time… likely most others were outside using the drive through or the ATM. One man was finishing up with one of the bank Tellers, another man was waiting just ahead of me, and one older woman was visiting with the other bank associate.  Yes, I said that correctly.  She was visiting.  She clearly was a regular, as she seemed to know the bank staff all personally. Within an instant, I could sense that she was a character. Dressed in funky boots and leggings, with curly unruly hair, she was talking with the bank Associates about mutual acquaintances, about a shopping experience she’d had recently, and about the local theater she used to work at before retiring. I don’t recall her ever saying anything about banking business, but the Teller seemed to be working on some sort of transaction for her, so there must have been a purpose behind her visit besides social.

OK, so true confession time. In my usual beat-the-clock, everything in my life has to be done in warp speed mode, my initial reaction to this woman was an internal eye roll and sigh. I mean, come on, really, must you just hang out and chit-chat? Some of us are on our lunch hour. Soon another Teller opened up an additional window, right next to where this woman was holding court, and called me over. I had waited maybe four whole minutes. As soon as I walked up to the counter, I started to change my first impression of this other customer. The women working there were obviously happy to see her, and enjoying the visit. She had an infectious happiness about her, like she was the kind of woman who embraced her own unique style, and truly enjoyed every person she interacted with in life. She had a big personality, and I started wishing I could get a better view of her without staring, and wanted to see what fabulous scarf or top she had on under her winter coat, which she had shown off to the Teller. I began imagining her working at the theater — the perfect environment for her. I bet she was charming and fun. Instead of considering her odd and annoying, I suddenly wanted to be more like her.

We all spend far too much time rushing around, head down, brain chock-full of issues, worries, what’s-next problems, and stressing over deadlines and how full our plates are. On top of all of that, we strive to look pulled together, attractive, and conduct ourselves in a “normal” way. For the most part, we attempt to blend in – feeling like we are getting away with some sort of risky behavior if we simply add some fun hair color or great shoes. When we do have interactions with strangers or distant acquaintances, we generally remain in our comfortable, polite yet distant zones.

Why? Why are we afraid to be memorable?   Shouldn’t we all dare to step out of our comfort zones more and be like that woman at the bank? Many of us seem to think that we have to wait until we are older to have the freedom to act like we want. That seems like a colossal waste of fun.

I’m not suggesting we all start coloring outside the lines with our makeup, wear our pajamas 24-7, pierce bizarre body parts, or act batsh-t crazy. Nor am I saying that our stresses and strains aren’t real, and I realize none of us can be perky and carefree every day. But why not let our true colors and personality show a bit more? Why not be engaging and friendly and even a bit quirky?   Yes, there will be some conservative folks who may roll their eyes or whisper about us, but that’s ok. Just smile and wink at them, because you at least made an impression. Let’s see the ATM machine do that.

As I headed back to work, I thought about other RW’s in my life over the years who have dared to be memorable and unique. We all know women who feel so comfortable in their own special, individual skins that they naturally exude confidence and charm. They aren’t afraid to march, in their multi-colored funky heels, to their own drummer and brighten the days of other people in their lives. Just thinking about each one of them made me smile.

Because, simply put, they are unforgettable. Kind of like bank lady.

 

 

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Bundle Up for Real

winter imageAhhh, the allure of cute winter fashion. As temperatures drop, snow falls, and days get shorter, we create images in our minds of looking adorable and festive in our trendy outerwear. We imagine looking, well, like this model. All matchy-matchy, smiling, stylish, happy and not the least bit cold. Because, after all, she’s decked out in her Lands End or LL Bean gear. She’s warm and beautiful.

The problem, of course, is that is not reality. At least not here in New England. I suppose some of you in the ski resort towns of the northwest may look like this. You may have mittens and sweaters that match, pure white pants to go with your fluffy white earmuffs, fuzzy boots that never get wet, and the perfect accent-colored coat that can stand up to the rigors of creating the perfectly round snow ball which you are about to charmingly throw like a girl.

But in this part of the country, the only time we might look even close to this is if we have found the perfect sunny 35-degree day to meet our girlfriends for shopping and lunch. But the white pants still wouldn’t happen. No, here we look every day a bit more like this: bundledStuffed into any variety of winter gear until we look like we weigh 30 more pounds than we really do, causing us to walk like a penguin, and the only skin that is showing is red and chapped, and our eyes and nose are running. True Cover Girl material.

Style frequently gives way to warmth, no matter the cost to our vanity. Comfort is king, and layers are a requirement. Matching is optional, even rare. There was a great post on Facebook by the Bangor, Maine Police Department (If you aren’t following them, I highly recommend it) that went into some detail on the value and importance of flannel, and flannel ownership rules in the winter. Basically, if you find it, put it on. This time of year I have three drawers full of warm-yet-not-overly-attractive versions of sweatpants, fleece or flannel shirts, and fuzzy socks. Our coat closet is full of a variety of outer garments and our gloves/hats/scarves drawers are stuffed… if we are lucky, we can dig through and find a matching pair of gloves. But match them and the hat and scarf to each other and what we are wearing? Yeah……that’s not gonna happen.

Of course, this whole bundled ‘n bloated style turns to mayhem with the arrival of weird 48-hour stretches of thawing temperatures, fog and rain. Transitioning quickly from -16 and blizzardy to 50 degrees and wet is not an easy task. One does not want to be in layers of fleece and wool when it is balmy and pouring. Not to mention, for those of us already susceptible to rapid body temperature swings, the effort to remove thick layers of clothing in a hurry can appear not unlike a magician trying to escape from a straightjacket while hanging from his feet. Thus we must choose our winter wear carefully.

This morning I ventured out on a walk with my dog. It was a classically strange New England dawn, 34 degrees, foggy, drizzling, a combination of puddles and shmooshy snow on the ground. (Shmooshy is a technical meteorological term, of course). I paused before heading out, and thought of those lovely LL Bean tv spots that were on around the holidays, touting their great “Be an Outsider” campaign. I loved the message….what slayed me was the perky, happy, perfectly styled families squealing and scampering outside to play. It has been a really, really long time since I scampered out to play in the snow. Trudging out to shovel, sure. Bundling up to take the dog out, yes. But gleefully bounding in my stylish outerwear? Not so much. But here I was this morning, dutifully and pleasantly going for a walk to get some fairly mild fresh air. Did I look like that cute white & blue clad model? Not even in my wildest dreams. I will say that my feet were pretty darn cute. One of my BFFs a couple of years ago gave me a pair of brightly colored Wellies, and I love them. They are the one reason I look forward to going out to walk through puddles. However, from shins up, all style bets were off. I had an old pair of sweats crammed in to the boots. On top I had a flannel top, a quilted purple vest, and over it all, a bright yellow rain jacket which I have literally had for nearly twenty years and the style speaks to its generation. I gave myself extra points because my ratty old gloves were also yellow, and for wearing such bold colors on a grey foggy morning (Safety First!). But the piece de resistance was – wait for it – a pair of white and grey puffy earmuffs. Watch out, Lands End Model Woman – I’ll be taking over your photo shoot any day now.

Truth be told, I never look like a fashionista on my morning walks, even when the weather is mild. I am sometimes showered, but have not yet styled my hair or put on makeup. And the kicker is that on just about very third walk, someone I know drives by and toots and waves, or even more embarrassing, stops to chat.

But that’s the true beauty of it. I don’t really care that I don’t look like a Patagonia model. I’m happy to be able to be outside, be active, and breathe the fresh air, even if it is cold and the air sometimes hurts. I’m happy to wave to people I know, and watch my dog happily wade through mud or shove his face in the snow. And I suppose I’m happy to have mis-matched, well worn yet comfy and warm clothing on me. Do I sometimes feel a slight pang of jealousy when I look at an adorably-clad model in a catalog, in her super cute and trendy winter wear? Sure. But that’s ok too, because in about nine months when I’m facing the reality of the return of another New England winter, I’ll need to be duping myself into believing that she is me.

And I’m ready to scamper into my wonderland.

 

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Be Brave & Face the Portal

ClosetIt’s been there, waiting. Behind closed doors, lurking. Conveniently ignored most days, yet silently beckoning for attention. It is…our home office closet. Or, more appropriately named, The Place Where Stuff Gets Shoved Away.   A depository for a bizarre mix of buried treasure – everything from a few old toys and games my son played with in his youth alongside early school projects, to formal dresses and suits hung in protective covers, a whole box of various DVDs and CDs, stationery and envelopes, files that wouldn’t fit in the file drawer, stuff cleaned out of my old work desk, a cassette boom box – and oh, look, there’s even some fluffy bird-like marionette puppet tangled and hanging in the corner.

This is the kind of dark portal to nowhere that always lands on the “some day” list. Every time I’ve opened the door in search of a business envelope, or in the hopes of cramming in one more item for which I have no other home, I have sighed and thought “we really need to clean this out.” And I say “we”, because the contents are truly a mix of things that originally belonged to everyone in the household. Except the dog, I don’t think I’ve found any of his stuff, but you never know. I wouldn’t be surprised to find a chewed tennis ball in a back corner.   Each time I have groaned at the daunting task, I’ve pushed an item in further with my foot and closed the doors. Even when we purged the house for tag sale items this past summer, we still didn’t seem to find the strength to tackle this closet.

Well, guess what, it is a new year. A time to clean and sort and renew, right? Plus my husband has started a new business, and really needs some useable space in our shared home office room.  The other day we proudly sorted and reorganized the file drawers and desktop surfaces of the room, including setting him up with nifty file organizers and finding him space to actually work. Until…..(que the music from Jaws), we opened The Place Where Stuff Gets Shoved Away.   The time has come.

Some wisdom does come with age, and we both realize this will not be a quick project. We agreed that if we were willing to put up with a bit of mess for a week or two, we would whittle away at it, pile at a time. We dragged out the boxes of who-knows-what to be sorted through, and started taking the odd assortments down off the shelves. I soon realized the challenge is not really in the cleaning out itself, it is in the “what do we do with it” quandry…. which is why most of this stuff was put in there in the first place.

Over the years, we have greatly reduced, sold, and donated much of my son’s childhood toys and games. But in this closet were some of the classics we just haven’t wanted to part with: the games of Battleship, Blokus, Life and Trouble. Buzz Lightyear and Woody are in there – and we know how sad they would be if they got sold or tossed out, I mean you’ve seen the movies, right? There’s a whole box of files for the instruction manuals and warrantees for home equipment like our refrigerator and generator. Too big for the file drawer, but should be kept. Training documents from past jobs – will I ever need those again? The sweet condolence cards I received when my Dad passed away nearly three years ago…. And my husband’s pile of Corvette magazines. Toss? Keep?   Oh, my, perhaps this won’t be so easy. Things have got to go… but where?

Neither my husband or I are especially good at letting go. I hold onto stuff for sentimental reasons. He holds on to anything that might possibly at some point have ANY practical purpose for re-use. This is not a good combination for trying to live simply.  I admire the women I listen to who valiantly discard anything they haven’t used in a year. I envision their homes as being clean and open, free of clutter. Yet I take heart in the many Real Women I know who are similar to me. One of the RW’s in my life as a matter of fact posted something on Facebook recently about a clean-out she was attempting in her house, and how she could not bring herself to throw away her daughter’s first pair of walking shoes. See? I’m not alone! Buzz and Woody can stay!

In the end, I know we will be really happy when we manage to get the closet switched over from The Place Where Stuff Gets Shoved Away to a Handy And Useful Reference Area. Besides, if I’m really lucky, I’ll open up a whole big shelf to which I can move in some of my scrapbooks that are over-flowing from a nearby bookshelf. But that’s a whole ‘nother issue.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must turn away from my happily organized desk, take a deep breath, face the portal, and make some decisions.  If you don’t hear back from me, please send help. Preferably armed with a bottle of wine.

 

 

 

 

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Tick Tock Floss

cat clockWhen I was a young girl, like most other children, I hated going to the dentist.  In those days there were very few, if any, Pediatric Dentists… just family dentists who did basically the same work on everyone from small children up to senior citizens.  There were no cute stuffed animals or toys in the lobby, no pretty pictures on the ceiling to gaze at, no funky sunglasses to put on.  I do remember the hideous — and to me, terrifying — cat clock that hung on the wall, it’s eyes and tail twitching and ticking with every doomed minute of my time in the chair – glaring at me, smirking at my fear and pain.  I remember virtually nothing about the dentist himself.  In my mind he was some kind of ominous dark, serious, old  male figure ready to inflict some sort of dental torture.  In reality, I didn’t really need to have massive work done as a child other than an occasional cavity or tooth to be pulled… and that scary dentist was probably some young man fresh out of medical school, for all I know. Any truly major work I had done was later in life, like the removal of wisdom teeth (I remember being fascinated that I woke up in a different room than I started, wondering how I got there), nearly three years of braces, and various crowns and root canal issues.

I’ve always been diligent about tooth care – hygienists love me.  But I’ve had “problem teeth” all my life, inherited from my father. (Thanks, Dad).  So over the course of many years, although I never look forward to a dental appointment, the anxiety and fear has virtually disappeared.  I figure I’ve experienced root canals, child birth and breast cancer, what else could be any worse?

I had a cleaning check-up this morning. And let’s be honest.  The overall experience has changed since those early days. The dental office I visit now is an all-female firm of smart, skilled women.  Everyone there is friendly, welcoming, and positive – as if putting their hands in stranger’s mouths is the most fun thing they could ever think of doing.  God love them, I find it hard to think of any profession I’d enjoy less, other than perhaps being an ER nurse, a restaurant dishwasher, or a DPW person in charge of picking up road kill.  But thankfully there are people who truly do enjoy trying to help people have healthy teeth and mouths.

When I go to an appointment now, there’s no scary ticking clock cat on the wall. The tools they use now are much less bulky and rough, more high-tech and efficient.  There are lovely back-lit scenic images on the ceilings showing things like blue sky and hummingbirds. A visit with the hygienist is more like a chat session with a girlfriend – albeit one-sided since I have yet to master the art of answering questions when her fingers are in my mouth.  Today’s topics ranged from the weather, to our husbands’ snoring, to her daughter’s clothing style, to preparing for tax time.  Sprinkled in the conversation were her topic-appropriate comments about plaque and suggested prescription fluoride toothpaste. She even complimented my hygiene and healthy gums. Funny how things like that can actually result in a “yay me” feeling. When my teeth were picked, scraped, brushed and flossed, we hung out for a bit waiting for the Dentist to come in and review any potential issues and my Xrays.  Due to a scheduling issue, there was a minor delay in her getting to me.  I think I waited a whole 10 minutes.  She came in and apologized, and I thought “I’ve been literally laying here, relaxing, chatting with another R.W. – why apologize?  When else today will I be able to do this?”

In the end, I did have the “bad news” that I need to return to have a couple of cavities taken care of, and some sealing work done on recessed gum areas.  Basically same ol’, same ol’.   Something to be excited about coming back for?  No, of course not.  But I know they will do a good job, they will have me done and out in less than an hour, and with hope my teeth will last me until I’m old and grey.  The most painful part will be the co-pay, since good service doesn’t come cheap, even with insurance.

I can’t help but wonder if the experience of going to the dentist has improved thanks to the high number of women in the field.  I don’t think I’ve ever met a male hygienist.  I’m sure they are out there somewhere, but the majority of them, along with nurses, assistants, and a growing number of Dentists, seem to be female.  And women truly get the importance of being comfortable, of setting aside fear, of being positively open and honest – and putting some fun and humor into every day.  My son, although now a teenager, still goes to his Pediatric dentist.  The women who give him his exams and cleanings, know him and are well aware that when he was younger he had a very sensitive gag reflex…which now, thanks to his maturity and their coaching, is nearly non-existent.  He is totally comfortable with them and knows he can talk to them (well, again, when the fingers and instruments are not in his mouth.)

This is not to say that men make bad dentists or doctors – that would be a ridiculous claim to make. But when I think back about any medical issues I’ve had, it is the women who stand out in my mind as being the best at putting me at ease.  Perhaps it is just in our blood as RW’s to treat others the way we want to be treated, not to mention the desire to encourage each other to take care of ourselves. We are busy, hard-working, often stressed-out humans who find it hard to take the time out of our busy schedules for preventative health maintenance. It makes sense that we will listen to other women who totally get it, and who can be our voices of reason to get us to pause for our own good.

And if that means pretty décor, chit-chat, nice music and funky sunglasses, so be it.  It really doesn’t take much effort or ingenuity to create a positive environment and add pleasant touches to get through to us.

Just don’t get one of those cat clocks. I’ll head for the hills.

 

 

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Resolving to be Realistic

woman making listA friend sent me a card some time ago that showed a woman standing at a store counter, a sign hanging above her that read Exchanges. She was requesting an exchange to get her old body back. I can totally relate.

The humor is especially fitting this time of year. It seems the national pastime between Christmas and the New Year is to do returns and exchanges of gifts, and to lament the amount of holiday food and beverage we have all consumed along with a lack of exercise.

This inevitably leads to the next popular activity of the season: the setting of New Year Resolutions. I’ve never been a big resolution setter. Primarily because I’m a classic one for stating my intentions, then promptly forgetting them. Just like I can’t tell you if any birthday cake wishes have ever come true, because I don’t remember what I wished for by the time I’m done with my ice cream. The other reason I’ve never been a big fan is because it seems a harsh way to set ourselves up to fail. The word Resolution carries such weight, it seems everyone feels compelled to make grandiose promises.   Lose 20 pounds, learn a new language, run a marathon…. eeesh. That’s a whole lot of pressure, and when it doesn’t happen we end up feeling worse. Not a nice way to start “new”.

The other issue I have with this practice, is that by making resolutions, we are stating that we aren’t good enough, and need to make some sort of self-improvements. As if we haven’t just spent the past year busting our butts to stay healthy, pay the bills, take care of family, do our jobs, and overall be good people. Nope. That’s not enough. We must resolve to be better in some way. Geez, how depressing.

I think instead of promising to become the next Martha Stewart, Jackie Joyner-Kersee or Niki Taylor, we Real Women would be much better off first acknowledging how amazing we are (I mean, come on, we just finished up the year by pulling off Christmas again), then setting much more realistic, achievable daily goals. Little things that will give us a boost, feel good about ourselves and our lives, and give us moments of saying “yay me” instead of “oh, crap, I gained three pounds instead of losing ten.”

Here are a few RR’s (Realistic Resolutions) I’m pondering for this year:

  • Stop sucking in my stomach every morning when looking in the mirror, trying to pretend it doesn’t exist.
  • Donate every piece of clothing that not longer looks good on me. I can use the closet space a whole lot more than I can use the aggravation.
  • Find at least three new recipes for dinners that take less than 30 minutes to prepare and use five ingredients or less.
  • Do less yelling at other drivers. They can’t hear me from inside my car anyway, and it won’t stop them from being stupid.
  • Start actually telling my husband when I need his help instead of grumbling under my breath because he’ll never figure it out on his own.
  • Crank my tunes in my car and sing. More than I already do. Preferably when alone.
  • Don’t sit for longer than two hours at a time without getting up and moving. This one may raise some eyebrows during work meetings, but hey, I gotta be me.
  • Avoid the anxiety of finding new wrinkles or age spots. Face it, they are going to happen. Rather than purchase more expensive creams to try to make them go away, realize they are now part of my life. Heck, maybe even name them. The one at the top of my nose between my eyes I shall call Gladys.
  • Seek out good news and entertainment more often to counteract all the negativity. Imagine heading out the door in the morning laughing instead of taking an antacid for the pit of worry in my stomach.
  • Purchase one bright, fun, totally unnecessary article of clothing and wear it with pride and panache.
  • Share a thought, idea, laugh, or vent with a BFF every day. Because she needs it as much as I do.
  • Lastly, don’t sweat the small stuff. Because no one enjoys a sweaty R.W.

Will any of these make me a remarkably changed woman? No. Will any of these solve the issues of global warming or world poverty? Nope. Will I have added a new skill or talent to my list of abilities? Nada.   But all of the above items are attainable. They are realistic. And they just might make me feel a bit better every day.

So who’s in with me on this? Let’s make some realistic adjustments for 2018.

Not that any of us need improving. We are perfectly real just the way we are.

Happy New Year.

 

 

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It Came, Just the Same

pickle ornamentWell, my dear R.W. friends, we are in the home stretch. Christmas is just a few days away, which means all of our frenetic warp-10 level preparations must soon come to an end. We know the holiday is almost here, not because of the calendar, not because of the 24/7 Christmas music in every store, not even because of the number of doors open on our advent calendars. We know simply because we are reaching our annual level of exhaustion and backache.

A friend of mine heard a story on a local radio station about a study that was done regarding the value of the work an average woman puts in preparing for the holiday. I don’t have the exact figures here, but the study took in the average rates for things like event planning, baking, personal shopping, etc, and determined that if we had to pay for the efforts put in by the average R.W. in the weeks leading up to Christmas, it would value approximately $30,000. No wonder we are exhausted.

We bring it all on ourselves, of course. We know we don’t HAVE to do it all. We tell ourselves each year in January that this will be the year that we will cut corners, slow down, plan ahead more and be more relaxed for the next Christmas season. That all sounds terribly logical until we get to October or November, and those damn sugar plums start dancing in our heads. We have images of the “perfect” Christmas that we strive to create for our loved ones, no matter what our schedule, financial status, or wacky family issues dictate. This is why we spend weeks moving like some sort of crazed wind-up toy, shifting directions every few seconds to focus on something else that needs to be done.

Of course along the way we run into speed bumps. Gifts that don’t arrive, budgets that get busted, family crises that pop up. I have one BFF who’s parents just had their bank accounts compromised thanks to fraudulent credit card use so she is desperately trying to help them get back a whole lotta money. I have another BFF who’s mother’s dialysis treatment just got moved to Christmas Eve thus altering the family celebratory plans. Other R.W.’s I know are dealing with travel issues, illness and lack of time. One by one, those sugar plums are no longer dancing, but falling and shmooshing.

Yet through all of this, we will once again learn our annual, very valuable lesson. Despite ourselves, Christmas will still arrive. It will still mean time with family and friends, or maybe just finally mean some quiet time of peace. And no one but ourselves will ever notice or care that perhaps something on the To Do list didn’t get finished, or that we had to make last minute alterations to plans. Just like our pal the Grinch found out years ago, “he hadn’t stopped Christmas from coming. It came. Somehow or other ….it came just the same.”

It will be another couple of days or so before we all start to slow down, start to let go, and start to relax. Our bodies will force us to rest, even if our brains are still on overdrive. This past weekend, when I was really hoping to sleep in, I woke up at 6am and sure enough, the Christmas prep thoughts kicked in. And on this particular morning the narration in my head went something like this: “Oh, I need to remember to pick up the Pickle Gift. What should I get that would be good for anyone who wins it? Maybe a gift card… Oh geez, I still have to hide the pickle. Wait. Where IS the pickle?”

To all of you R.W.’s out there, may your brains start to shut down, and may you realize that if the Grinch couldn’t stop it, neither will we. May you remember that this season really is about joy, laughter and time together, and may you at some point, very soon, take the time to put your feet up, listen to your favorite holiday song, look at your tree, and just breathe.   And may you find your pickle.

Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for traveling the R.W. journey with me and continuing to read my posts and sharing your thoughts and experiences.

May you all have a Blessed and Merry Christmas.

 

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