The Sick Day


It’s been said that you never really know a person until you’ve seen them with the flu.  It’s also been said that you should never ever marry a person without seeing them with the flu.  The flu, or in my case an upper respiratory infection with bronchial spasms, changes a person into a walking whining Nyquil commercial.  It’s not pretty.

I’ve had this “thing” in some form or another since the end of December.  It started out as one “thing” then morphed into another “thing” ebbing at times, lulling me into a false sense of security in the fact that it may well be gone.  Then it came back with a vengeance.

Let me start by saying, I don’t get sick.  That said, I got sick.  I’m not good at getting sick, everyone will tell you that and then they will laugh.  Because it’s funny… I can take it for a very long time i.e. the end of December, and then I’ve had it.  Let the rant begin; WTF with this thing, my face is like cement, there is no air going through or coming out of my nose.  My sinuses are so swollen that my TEETH hurt.  Post nasal drip?  We’re talking full on the tap is wide open but there’s nowhere for the drip to go, enter the cough.  Come on already.   So what do you take?  Decongestant?  Antihistamine?  Cough suppressant? Expectorant?  Oh OK take everything in the medicine chest including a shot of Afrin which I gave up long ago but desperate times call for desperate measures….was that air going through my nose?  Just a little, very little.

Don’t go to the doctor…you can hear your mother saying sarcastically in the back of your head.  Fine.  I go to the doctor with the full expectation of picking up a Z-pack and being on my merry way…but nooooo, I’ve gone viral.  This is no run of the mill bacterial infection, there is no miracle medicine, there is only:

Claritin  –  Musinex  –  Netty Pot

Seriously?  Oh yes and plenty of fluids and rest for at least one full day.  WHAT!!! A full day?

I love my friends but this would just have them in hysterics.  Evi could not contain herself.  Sandra couldn’t either.  My sister was a bit kinder but I could hear the laugher going through her head.  I CAN’T.  The most pragmatic answer to my ranting and raving by text came from Muriel, “damn that sucks.”  The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree…

The only person I could rely on to come through with a true the world is coming to an end because I’m sick was Rere….and that was even MORE annoying.

So as I’m about to begin my treatment regime I’m texting back and forth with a friend of mine trying to determine if we can do a catch up on Monday, if this GD upper respiratory infection (with bronchial spasms) goes away I lament and he is somewhat sympathetic giving me back a good-natured parody of my scheme of things post from the week before.  And then it hits me, like a brick.  This is a person who in his own personal scheme of things knows like he knows what it’s like to be sick, really sick.  And here I am pissing and moaning about my swollen sinuses.  Time for me to shut the hell up, I get it and suddenly I’m grateful, as he pointed out, in the scheme of things that this is just a cold on steroids.

Four gallons of Arizona Green Tea later, a full day on the couch dozing and reading and dozing and watching the TV chefs, 24 hr. Claritin, 1200mg Musinex, netty pot twice a day and wait a minute…I can breathe. The aches are gone, thankfully I can go and keep my hair appointment because if you’ve got to wake up with a cold you don’t have to be greeted from the mirror by Bomba the elephant boy looking back at you.

I’m sure my next bout with whatever the virus de jour happens to be will still aggravate the hell out of me but in the long run if I’m going to preach that “it’s just cars” and put yourself first, and see yourself well instead of harping on the inconsequential blah blah then I should indeed just shut the hell up and get out the netty pot.


The Scheme of Things

021I’ve heard the phase “in the scheme of things” several times over the last few weeks and began to wonder, is this rationalization or affirmation?  Confucius would have you believe it is a definition:  “It is easy to hate and it is difficult to love. This is how the whole scheme of things works.  All good things are difficult to achieve; and bad things are very easy to get.”

So if you preface what you say with “in the scheme of things” you very well may be talking affirmation.

In the scheme of things I was able to…

In the scheme of things I still managed…

In the scheme of things it all worked out…

In the scheme of things can represent the million things you’ve got to think about each day. It can represent the obligations, the lack of time, the lack of funds, the lack of motivation, the over extension or the doormat you may have become.

In the scheme of things I only…uh oh here comes the rationalization… gained 5 pounds over the holidays.  Or was only able to exercise once this week, Or didn’t get to see my friends, Or overslept once, Or Or Or.

Does anyone realize that you get to decide what your personal scheme of things is?  If you believe that all good things are difficult to achieve you’ll probably set about living up to that.  If you believe that all good things come to you, you just might shift your universe into bringing you only good things.  Ok mostly good things, point is your scheme of things is totally up to you and your life will reflect back to you what you allow.

My personal scheme of things doesn’t include hate.  Hate is a strong word and lends itself to an all or nothing mentality.  Don’t get me wrong I’ve got a few people on the “live and be well” list (You can find the translation for that in the Food for Thought post.)  But overall I rarely use the word hate nor do I give the concept much credence.  I move along from anything that triggers that kind of heavy-duty negative emotion.

It’s easier for me to lean toward love, not the gushy, sentimental, flowers in your hair kind of love but the everybody’s got a story, put yourself in their shoes, deep breath before speaking kind of love.  I’ve been caught in the jump to conclusions outlook one too many times to believe that people aren’t inherently good.  They prove me right many more times than they prove me wrong so I’m going with the love angle.

Still I have my days where in the scheme of things I’m just too tired to get a walk in, or it’s just too cold, or the bagel looks and tastes so damn good with all that cream cheese on it but the other part of the scheme of things is that it’s plural.  If, at the end of the day, the scales are balanced you’re in pretty good shape, if they are slanting in your direction, the direction that defines your scheme of things, then you’re in even better shape.

Confucius may be right, good things may be difficult to achieve and bad things may be easy to get but if you know like you know your own definitions of good and bad and can easily recognize them, if you care enough about yourself to take charge of your personal reflections then your scheme of things will be just fine.  At the very least they will be all yours.


To Prove or Add Value


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I’m fond of saying I have nothing left to prove only value to add.  This week I find myself asking, what the hell does that mean?  Do your values determine your life or does your life determine your values?  Yes.  At what point in your life are you done trying to prove yourself to anyone other than yourself?  When adding value do you discern?  Do you need to know the definition of value in order to add it?

Two things happened this week to make me question if this is the way I should be putting the whole prove vs value thing out there.  Someone commented on the blog last week that they too (on their 65th birthday) felt they had much value still to add.  Then in an episode of “Chopped” a 64 year old woman struggled against the younger chefs to prove she is still capable of adding value.  She ultimately won.   Does that mean you’ll always have something to prove?  These two people want to prove to themselves that they have value.

Should the proving only be to you?  Now we’re talking, of course it should.  When I think of the long list of things I felt I needed to prove over the course of my life most of them had little to actually do with me.   As a woman was I capable of the same things men were capable of, of course I was and still am. Could I live up to my husband’s family’s expectations, not really.  Did I grab on to that and try to pursue perfection, of course I did.  Could I graduate college (in midlife) in order to advance in my career, of course I could.  Did it?  To a degree.

There is always something to prove to yourself.  At this moment in time I’m trying to prove that I am a creative woman. I’m trying to develop the right side of my brain so that it works on auto pilot, so that it sees things that I’ve always thought it should see.   I’m trying to prove I’m brave, putting myself and my work out there, whether it’s the work I’m paid for or the work that sustains me.

I’m no longer trying to prove I’m perfect. Perfection has always been imposed on me, like keeping the perfect house.  Now, if the bed isn’t made I know like I know the world won’t come to an end.  The people that find themselves on Stowe Lane could care less if I make my bed every day.  Toto especially loves twirling into the sheets whether they are on the bed or not.


I don’t set the perfect table I just put it all out and people are glad to indulge in the moments I present.  I used to live in that world where you had to worry if you died what would people find in your home?  What were the books that were supposed to be on the night stand, what food should be in the refrigerator, what would be in the fire safe box.  I just bought a fire safe box…by the way.  Among the passport, social security card, deed, the insurance info and will are my Father’s navy manual and bible.  These are the things that are precious, that add value if you will.

I’m not saving the world and my idea of adding value is to show up, to listen, to attempt to stop the spiky haired, skinny jeans bunch from trying to reinvent the wheel all the while staying relevant.  To put out a body of work that someone might find interesting or meaningful.

So what does value really mean:

  • The regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something.
  • The material or monetary worth of something.
  • The intrinsic worth of something.
  • A person’s principles or standards of behavior; one’s judgment of what is important in life.

I got this.  No matter what your definition of value, I can fit into any of it, some of it or all of it. Or none of it.  I love the person I’ve become because I fought hard to become her.  I have proven this to myself, no one else needs to care or approve of this.  It was not who I was that held me back it was who I thought I wasn’t.

For those of you wondering if or how you will provide value, just know like you know that you are and you will.  Not everyone will think so but it only matters that you do.


I Know Like I Know 2013

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If I had to choose one word to describe 2013 it would be milestone.  Blink your eyes and five years of writing about all the ordinary things that will make up a life’s legacy have passed. Time is funny that way, as Gretchen Rubin would say, the days are long but the years are short. It’s a wonderful life here on Stowe Ln with all the things that bread, salt and wine can bring a home.  Joy and prosperity are truly reigning over this household and it is quickly becoming that place where more and more of life’s little celebrations are being held so we try never to run out of wine.

The Jersey Girls are happy and healthy and we continue to do our work and thank God each day for the generosity of those who got us here.  Life would not have been this wonderful if it weren’t for Shawn Stewart and his kindness and pragmatism. I can still remember asking him; on a scale of 1 – 10 just how bad are the girls, how aggressive.  His answer with a smile; a 1 and 1/2.  Fine.

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As many times as I say I know like I know, this has been the year that I’ve tried to come from that place of “I don’t know what I don’t know”.  I’ve shifted my perspective a bit, learned how to be “clenched” and tried some new things.  Photo treasure hunts and seminars with cool people like Seth Castile to force my camera back into my hands and consequently my heart.  Yes I’ve become a nuisance but the end result is a style, a viewpoint, a continuing illustration of the ordinary.  Technical? No. Cool? Sometimes.  I’ve begun to capture moments in time as I see them and it’s not like you don’t know how I feel about moments in time.

I’ve had the courage to stop coloring my hair.  I’ve gone grey and the end result is so much better than I could have imagined.  I have the glintys as I call them.  Not quite grey, headed toward salt and pepper and worry free.  Hours spent at the salon are a thing of the past and the money saved is a huge bonus.  We have abundance here in so many ways.  Once you shift your perspective you are no longer looking for abundance in one place, it comes from everywhere and from everyone.

I’ve met some wonderful new old friends this year.  We share a common point of view and a love of all things ordinary and special.  What a joy to have them in my life.  Sadly some people I thought were friends have gone. Either they or I had gotten what was the best of the relationship and moved on.  A fact of life I’m afraid, I’ve learned that people will come and go.  The important people stay for a very long time and I continue to be grateful for each one of them even if I don’t see them as often as I’d like.

My family and extended family are flourishing. We had many a celebration this year together for little things and big things.  I am still reeling from the wedding of my dear Muriel and Martina.  I had the honor of capturing their day in photos and selfishly that meant I could be with them through it all.  God knows they’ve been with me through it all.

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Luckily Muriel was with me to assist our neighbor into rehab through an intervention.  Five years later it never occurred to me that I might have to put that hat on again.  I’ve been known to say I resent what I know about addiction, but the fact is it might have helped save a life.  It does all come back to you, the script, the facilities, the beseeching from the intended.  Not easy but I was better at it this time, I was removed from the situation and I let it go after it was over.  For the most part anyway, the jury is still out on the successfulness of it.  Like Bob Seger says, “wish I didn’t know now, what I didn’t know then.”  It was a hard life.

And so it is that making life easier has become a mission. You know, like buying a new sewing machine.  It’s cool, it’s light and it does just what I need it to do, I’m not making clothing any more I’m just nipping and tucking.  I must say the one feature that I was so smug about, the needle threader broke.  I’m not surprised, the reason for it was all wrong.  It was just to spite my Aunt Millie who laughed at me a hundred years ago when she handed me a needle to thread for her and I just poked it right through with an eye roll. “I was like you she said”, sent me some karma, and now I’m like her looking for the magnifying glass.

All in all there has been little to bitch about, there was the Aunt Rant and the poopy bag incident, the fiasco, the cast iron bra epiphany and the crazy colleague who surely would have been the death of me if he hadn’t been reassigned recently.  Thank you karma, I certainly will learn to let you take care of things from now on.

I’ve learned that I never really was a “Jersey Girl” even though I was born here, that’s my sister’s department.  I’ve learned that I no longer have anything to prove, my only inclination at this point is to add value.  I’ve learned that I’m cool, no kidding, it’s true and that what I’m doing with Ordinary Legacy has meaning to some people.

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I’m going to summon up my courage again this year and develop an e-course based on Ordinary Legacy, that should be an adventure. Talk about being clenched. And finally I’m going to continue to add to my body of work.  Can you imagine?  I’ve got a body of work.  I know like I know that my wildest dreams aren’t really all that wild anymore and that makes this ordinary woman soar, finally.

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I hope you’ll take a look back at this year’s posts and see if they plant a seed for your own extraordinary legacy.

Happy New Year.