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.

 

 

 

 

Posted in achievements, changes; hibernation, Chores, cleaning, family, home, home chores, housework, real women, routines, simplifying, storage, Uncategorized | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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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We’ve Got Mail

holiday cardsMost days the thrill of going to the mailbox has been replaced with a sense of tedium. For the majority of the year, opening that little door reveals junk mail and bills. Half of it goes in the recycling bin, the other half goes in the ugh-gotta-pay-this pile. Gone are the days when we used to write letters to each other, or send nice notes just because. Let’s face it, the outside of the box may be decorated with a seasonal wrap — or if you are in Florida, the whole box may be in the shape of a manatee – but inside is a dark and boring pile of blah. Until December. Now I’m like an excited kid eager to open that door (or more accurately, send my husband out in the cold to fetch the contents). Sure, the junk mail and bills keep coming, but mixed in, like some sort of old-school traditional treasure hunt, are holiday cards.

Even in our crazy immediate-gratification digital world filled with Instagram, Snapchat and Text messages, many of us still cling to the art of sending a printed greeting, in an envelope, with an actual stamp on it, to brighten a loved one’s day.

I love this tradition for a couple of reasons. First, I know that behind every card is a Real Woman who added holiday cards to her To Do list. Ok, ok, guys, I know there are a handful of you out there who may send them out on your own (and trust us, we are touched and appreciative), or who step in to help the women in your life with the addressing, stuffing and sealing (my BFF calls this porn for women). But for the most part, the women in the world are planning in advance to make it all happen. It is an arduous task, yet we continue to take it on, telling our family to dress in similar colors and pose casually for a photo shoot…. or staying up late to sort through all the images on our computers from the past year to find the best ones… making the decision to pick a card that says Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays, and whether to go with lighthearted sentiment or go all-in on faith and seriousness…Deciding whether or not to include an update letter, a simple quick note, or to just go with the imprinted salutation. Of course there is the list updating, the changing of addresses, the printing of labels or handwriting the envelopes. Then the trip to the Post Office to get stamps where again we face a decision of the right design and message. All a multi-step process, and I am impressed by everyone of us who pull it off every year.

I’m also impressed by the R.W.’s out there who decide to not send cards. To take that one thing off their list. I did that once, a few years back. And as we learn from the Grinch, it didn’t keep Christmas from coming. Deciding against that one “must do” might make the difference between stress and calm.

The other big reason why I love receiving the cards, and why I too spend some late nights sending out our own, is for the sheer variety we get. Each one in its own way mirrors something about the sender. If it is a photo card, it is fun to see how the family members have changed, or be impressed by the perfectly adorable and magically posed children or pets. A collage of photos is like a short tour through their past year. If it is a more traditional card, I enjoy the art, the style, and how it matches the person. Very few include handwritten notes anymore, and those that do seem extra special. My favorite card received this year was the very first one to arrive. It was from my 98-year old Aunt, who hand-wrote her message inside. Amazing and magical.

As for update letters, these are a source of amusement for me. I am highly entertained by the novelettes I receive that extol a seemingly perfect life. We all have people in our lives who have climbed Mount Everest, had a child graduate summa cum laude from Harvard, or who is starring in a tv role…. Or at least their letters lead us to believe life is that amazing. A few years back, in contrast, I penned a “real story” letter to a select few friends and family that covered our year’s worth of reality and dysfunction. That tell-it-like-it-is letter is now one of our traditions.

As I look at the row of cards hanging in the doorway to our living room, I appreciate that each one is unique and different…just like the people who sent them. Can you imagine how boring it would be if they were all the same, and if we were all the same as well? That row of festive greetings represents the tapestry of people who make up our lives.

I can’t wait to check the mailbox tomorrow.

Mailbox_in_Snow

 

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Filling Our Sacks

santas sackAs children, we are filled with wonder at how Santa could possibly fit toys and gifts for all good girls and boys into just one sack. Surely that bag must be magic and bottomless. And for him to be strong enough to sling it over his shoulder? We kids start to believe that the cookies he eats must be filled with super strong-man protein.

Then we become grown real women, and we totally understand how to fit so much into one sack. Any woman who has had to travel by air (in a crowded plane, not a roomy red sleigh) and wants to bring 4 pairs of shoes with her, has learned how to fit everything in and still meet size and weight restrictions. She also has Santa’s super strength to vault her way through the airport to make a poorly scheduled connecting flight and heave her heavy carry-on up over her head and wedge it into the last remaining 6” of space.   Yes, Virginia, it is a form of magic.

It is the same magic we use to fit a remarkable amount of necessary items into our purses – not just for us, but for the other family members who randomly have desperate need for pens, tissues, notepaper, paper clips, measuring tapes or Tylenol. Pack it in, and throw it over our shoulder. Sound familiar, Santa?

I remember as a little girl I was also amazed at the thought that Santa was able to visit every house in just one night. Then I became a big girl and learned how to tackle my daily To Do lists and prioritize everything that had to get done in twelve hours, and realized that maybe Santa’s achievement wasn’t so incredible. Heck, especially if you factor in time zones. Piece of cake.

Sure, once a year Santa impresses us all with his successful Christmas Eve mission. But what truly impresses me now is the ability of the R.W.’s I know to continue to stuff more and more into their giant bags of life every day. Just in the past few days, I’ve talked with women who, beyond their regular routines, are caring for ailing & aging parents, performing in concerts, worrying about their kids college struggles, coping with loved ones in rehab, taking care of young children, running their own businesses, traveling, volunteering with charities, and reacting to emergencies like broken home furnaces or hospital visits. On top of regular responsibilities, that’s a whole lot to stuff into our sacks. But wait, there’s more. Because it is the holidays. Santa has elves, but we don’t even have minions. So the decorating, shopping, baking, wrapping, hosting and traveling all for the most part lands on us. Yup, stuff that all in as well.

And you know how Santa is revered for not shaving, and for having a belly like a “bowl full of jelly”? Yeah…. we R.W.’s don’t have the luxury of letting ourselves go during this busy time of year. We are expected to look cute and festive while we hustle, schlep and drag that sack around. Don’t forget to smile and spread cheer like fairy dust along the way.

We don’t have elves, or Rudolph, or magic powers to make it all happen, but we have each other. When it all starts to feel like too much, there’s always another R.W. who understands, who gets it, and who’s running just as ragged – but still has the time for a quick text, email or call to help put everything into perspective. We help each other remember that we do all we do for very important reasons, that this really is a wonderful time of year, and that most of all sometimes we need to park that sleigh, put down our bags, and just look at the twinkling lights and breathe.

If Santa can do it, we can too.

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