Saturday, January 5, 2019

Marriage and an Unexpected Gift

I got married 39 years ago - or so I thought. I mean, we had a ceremony. People came to witness the marriage and I even went on a honeymoon, a trip to Las Vegas. But a little over a year ago My mom called to ask me if I had a copy of my marriage license. Why on earth would she asking me this question? My dad performed our ceremony and on the day of the wedding had in his possession the license which needed to be mailed back to the county. Instead in the wedding chaos, the license got put on a shelf in my parent’s house...for 38 years.  How had this happened?

For Christmas my sister decided to help me finalize my marriage. She called the county where we had initially applied for our license and the clerk did find our records. She then tracked down three people who attended our wedding to get sworn statements which then had to be notarized. Then she went to the local library to pull the microfilm to get a copy of my wedding announcement and my dad’s obituary since he is deceased and would not be present to validate documents.

For Christmas I got a gift bag that said, “sealed with a kiss”. Inside the bag I found champagne glasses, bubbles and a packet with a poem, paperwork and instructions to follow at the courthouse. I would finally get my marriage license!

Yesterday, we finalized our marriage paperwork! Congratulations to the happy couple!

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Visioning, Looking Ahead and Positivity

It can be hard to set goals for the future without looking in the rear view mirror to reflect on the previous year. In general 2018 was an amazing year, but the year also presented its challenges. We had a very special highlight which was the birth of our grandson - and he is a cutie! There have been so many days this fall when I have been comforted by lots of snuggles and cuddles at the end of a stressful day. I give thanks for him every day. 
This little guy is our sweetheart.

I am also so grateful for some amazing travel experiences in 2018 too. Egypt, several different cities in Mexico, Norway, Guatemala, a weekend at a monastery (so powerful and much needed) and Yellowstone! 

We also had another year of good health and much happiness. I'm so grateful for these and many more gifts. Work and life both seem to get busier by the day and the demands can sometimes be overwhelming. Being able to slow down to spend time with family and friends and do some traveling helped me feel balanced and connected to life and the world outside of work.

At one particular low-point in the summer I cheered myself up by organizing a visioning party. The small gathering brought together a few women, most of whom did not know one another.  But this group consisted of working professionals who do extraordinary work in our local community. At the first party we came together to focus on one action that each of us could take that would make a difference. We made a vision board illustrating the action we planned to take post-party, then shared out thoughts behind our personal goal and quickly decided that our group needed to continue to meet. It seems that I was not the only one feeling a bit overwhelmed by busy days and and life demands.

In October we met again, this time we joined together to write letters to acquaintances, friends and family, encouraging them to get out and vote. It was powerful to sit together with a group of women and write letters.  Now we are now planning our next gathering and I'm so excited about our next visioning exercise! It is going to be an inspiration swap. Participants can bring a book, calendar or other item that inspires for an exchange. 

It has been wonderful to connect with a small, multi-generational group of women who want to focus on growing personally while focusing on things we can do individually to help others. I was also fortunate to be able to participate in a self-care party and I am hoping this becomes a regular habit too!   

In the past I've tried making resolutions - plural, or even just one resolution, but whatever I come up with always gets buried up with busy days and other priorities. My annual vision boards help me personally and I love putting them together but the women's vision group helps keep me on track and reminds me to focus on me personally doing something for the good of the community and beyond.

No matter how you start your new year I hope you are able to look ahead with positivity and joy. 

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Happy Blogaversary to Me!

Loved meeting blogger Bronnie and her Mum, a blogger from Brisbane visiting  New York
It’s so hard to imagine that I made my first blog post on this site on December 29, 2007. Happy blogaversary to me! At the time I started this online journal, I thought it would be a great way to stay connected to my kids. While one son was living 2 hours away, another son was in Germany and my daughter was in Portland, Oregon, so sharing photos and stories through journaling seemed like a fun way to stay connected. Well, my kids never read my blog but other people did and I quickly “met” online friends, many of whom I continue to follow and/or remain in contact with and for this I am grateful.

Over the years blogging has inspired me in so many ways - from books to music, fashion, home decor, baking, cooking, photography or travel. Ah yes, the travel. Reading and connecting with bloggers around the world helped open my eyes a whole new world. Our first trip to Mexico was inspired by a blogger and we ended up replicating their family vacation. In fact we might never have made the trip were it not for the blog post. Since that trip I’ve made nine trips to Mexico. Having a blog encouraged me to explore a lot of new things and meet people that I wouldn’t have met otherwise. And I really mean met, as in person. In fact I’m looking forward to meeting one of these bloggers next month. But that is another post. And who would have imagined being able to “attend” a fellow bloggers wedding! Yes, thanks to Facebook live an entire “sisterhood” was able to come together to attend the wedding ceremony two years ago.

There are times when I think abought my blog and I feel bad for not posting with greater regularity or for skimming my favorite bloggers posts and leaving the page without leaving a comment. My apologies. On this blogaversary I want to thank you for each post, comment, private email or photo that you’ve shared over the years and say thanks to you for allowing me to be in the same space with you (sometimes).

Sunday, March 4, 2018


Gift-giving has taken a different turn in my lifetime with the use of online registries and gift cards.  Don't get me wrong.  I sometimes take advantage of these gift-giving short cuts and sometimes I'm relieved to have them as an option. But sometimes I feel frustrated that these options aren't as personal. 

One of by girlfriends does something that I really like. She has a favorite charity that means the world to her.  When she has to give a gift, she gives an amount in honor of the gift recipient. It is such a wonderful idea and I'm always touched when I receive a special card letting me know I was honored in such a way.  At my age there is not much I need so it is perfect. This option is great though it might not work in every circumstance. 

My sister starts her Christmas shopping in July (you know many stores have special sales then to support the early support this effort), to give her time to take advantage of sales and to make sure she has time to think about each person as she does her shopping.

Today as I was walking in the front door of my house I was reminded of a special gift. It is a silver box which was given to me by a very special family member. My husband is Lebanese and on my very first trip to Lebanon we visited there for three months (those were the days!). It was wonderful in that I was able to get to know all of the in-laws, friends of the family, cousins and habits of their day-to-day.  During that time I would go out shopping a lot. One day as I decided to go out shopping, I mentioned where I was headed to one particular family member.  Without me knowing, she called ahead of me and asked the shopkeeper to keep an eye on me to see if there was anything I really wanted but didn't buy.  I went to this little silver shop and fell in love with so many things but one item that I couldn't get off my mind was a silver box. 
I wanted a box for my jewelry and I thought this box was perfect. It was beautiful and if I stopped using it for jewelry, it was beautiful enough to be an item of decor and certainly it could be used for keepsakes.  Here's the catch - it was silver and way too expensive. Never in a million years would I have paid that kind of money for such an item for myself. 
Wouldn't you know the very next day a gift showed up at our place and what do you know - it was the silver box! Honestly it was one of the most thoughtful gifts that I'd ever received. Every time I walk past the box I'm reminded of the thoughtfulness which means as much as the gift itself. 
Notice the beautiful detail inside the box (and I added my ladybug pen which I bought in 1966)
In this hectic, electronic, world where artificial intelligence is moving faster than we even realize, it's nice to sometimes take our time thinking about the gift recipient to make our gift unforgettable.  

How do you personalize the gifts you give?  

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Rene del Toro

Have you ever connected with an artist?  You know what I mean. It's that feeling of emotion you get when you see the artist's work, the same way you might get goosebumps when you hear certain songs.

Early last year I discovered a wonderful Mexican artist, Rene del Toro.  He lives in Mexico City and you can find him every Saturday at the market in San Angel neighborhood. You will find lots of artists in the Plaza San Jacinto but Rene del Toro is more likely to be found in the neighboring Plaza del Carmen.
Saturday at the Plaza San Jacinto
When I saw Rene del Toro's work it was love at first sight.  I purchased a wonderful and lively piece to bring home but it was small and I kept thinking that on my next trip I would go back to purchase another one of his works.
Mexican Country Life by Rene del Toro
This artist identifies his work as Naif Art meaning that he isn't formally trained but in reading about this art form, he's in good company. Naif art will most often be simplistic and unbalanced but expresses joy, happiness and spontaneity. It is said that naif artists paint from their soul and I believe it.

Some people collect specific things when they travel. For me it is almost always a piece of art.  I usually buy a small piece and I have a wall in my dressing area where most of these paintings are mounted. But not these items by Rene del Toro.  I put it in the entrance of my house so that I can start and end my day seeing the colors, the dancing, family and celebrations.
The work of another artist I really enjoy
Later in the year we had some vacation changes so at the last minute we ended up planning another trip to Mexico. I was excited about being able to go again with hopes of being able to purchase another one of Rene's works of art.  Rene had given me he email so I emailed him (or at least I thought it was him) in advance letting him know that I was coming.  He sent me his studio address and I thought we had a plan. While we were in Mexico City we drove over to his studio in Coyoacán but we couldn't find him. He didn't answer his phone and I'm here to tell you I was disappointed.  I found out this past weekend that it was his son I had been emailing so I don't think he was as interested in connecting with a client. Nor, perhaps, did he realize that I was serious about buying a painting.

But finally last weekend I was able to meet up with Rene del Toro and purchase another one of his paintings. This was a Christmas gift from my husband (which, I promise, was well-received) so I'd planned to purchase a larger painting. 
One very happy customer!
As we parked the car and began walking around the plaza I was nervous. What if he wasn't there? Had something happened to him when he had failed to respond to my call? I'd had no communication with him since last October so there was no way to know what had gone wrong. But then we entered the park and I saw him.  He only had a few paintings on display but he was there and I was thrilled!!  

So what do you think? 

This piece is about 3 1/2 feet high and about 2 1/2 feet wide so it really adds cheerfulness to the entrance of our house. And of course I couldn't walk away without purchasing this beautiful Tree of Life sculpture. Pure happiness!

When you travel, what do you collect?