The Power of Positive Thinking — Awaken and Breathe

Today is Saturday.  On the weekends I let other bloggers do my talking so I can sit on my wide backside and read books.  I like what this blogger had to say about Positive Thinking.  Enough outta’ me.  Time to go back to my current read “Bird by Bird.”

Positive thoughts are empowering. They make you feel good. Sometimes, however, that’s easier said than done. Negative thoughts have a nasty habit of sinking their teeth into our brains and it can be challenging to fight them. Negative cycles It is easy to get trapped in a cycle of negative thinking. If you are unhappy […]

via The Power of Positive Thinking — Awaken and Breathe

Introducing Bronson, our dog trained in the Colorado Men’s Penitentiary

In 2007, after my naughty black Lab Riley died, Jim and I made the decision to adopt another dog. This would be the first pet we chose together. I came to the marriage with Riley and Puck, the adorable but messy Cockatiel.  Jim brought Missy, the gray and white cat into the mix.

My sister and brother-in-law, Marilyn and Rob, had recently adopted a little black poodle named Marcel. They got him through the Colorado Prison System canine program. Dogs are placed with inmates for obedience training. Marcel was schooled in the women’s penitentiary. Marilyn and Rob didn’t hear that animal bark for nearly a year. Barking is extinguished in the prison by squirting the offender with a mixture of vinegar and water.

The program is amazing.  The animals live in crates with their inmate trainers.  Prison cells are small.  Beds of inmates training large dogs are raised high enough to accommodate crates underneath.  The animals go to class all morning long, in the afternoon they play and socialize with other dogs.

After learning about the program I immediately went to the CCI Colorado Prison Dog  website and began the process of falling in love with every dog on the list. Except for Chihuahuas. My high school friend Nora had a wee teeny evil ankle biting Chihuahua named Cha Cha. Getting past Cha Cha without being nipped was darn near impossible.

I ear-marked all the prison dogs as potential pets.   Jim fell for only one.  A small, sad-looking, slumped over brown lab mix named Bronson. We were told Bronson was rescued from an abusive situation. He was being trained in the men’s penitentiary by inmate Terrance. We coordinated with the program to meet Bronson, and secure my very first well-trained dog.

Very early one cold March morning we flew to Colorado. Marilyn, Rob, and Marcel met us at the airport and drove us to the parking lot outside the nearby women’s penitentiary.  Animals trained in the men’s penitentiary were brought there because the men’s prison is far from the airport.

We arrived to find scads of dogs and oceans of prospective owners.  Again, I fell for each and every animal.  Jim still had eyes only for Bronson.  However, another family was circling Bronson as their prospective pet.  My marvelous cunning sister sidled up to the mother and stated, “Oh my goodness!  It looks like your little boy is afraid of that dog.”  The mother, “What?  Really?  I didn’t notice….”  Marilyn, “Well you know your child better than I do.  But I’m pretty sure he is frightened by that animal.”

The family moved on to another dog, Serena.  Serena had the legs of a corgi, snout of a shepherd, body of a dachshund.  She sprouted long white stiff whiskers all over her chin.   Jim said she looked like a science experiment gone wrong.

We happily adopted Bronson.  After an animal was chosen the new owners were directed into the penitentiary.  We were ushered past concertina-wired fences, relinquished our belongings, and were led to an enormous chamber.  Seated in folding chairs we watched the dogs perform perfect obedience skills.

Before we left Bronson was bathed.  We then took him to a local veterinarian to certify his health.  Finally, after a long day, we were back to the airport.  Bronson, in a crate formerly used by M and R’s Aussie, was housed under the plane

Late that night we arrived at O’Hare.  We stumbled around baggage claim unable to find our sad little prison puppy.  When we finally located him, far from the area we were told to look, he was trembling and frothing at the mouth.  Poor puppy.  Ever since that experience Bronson loathes being cooped up.  Anywhere. At all.  Up to and including hotel rooms.  More on that in a future post.

Bronson is the light of our lives.  He and I play football daily.  I am quarterback and commentator. Bronson is the wide receiver.  Jim is the fan.  I whisper the play into Bronson’s floppy ear and toss the ball into our kitchen.  Bronson snatches the ball, races to the dining room, around the dining table.  If he zooms past the small green living room bench it’s a TOUCHDOWN!  Another run past the leopard upholstered dining chair and he gets the two point conversion.

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Yes, that’s me in the huge mirror.  No, I haven’t combed my hair.  No, I don’t have make-up on. Yes, I’m letting myself go.  So just shut up.

 

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One spin past that leopard chair, following a run around the green bench, and the kid scores two extra points.  He really is Super Bowl awesome.

He’s an old boy now.  He goes to bed early and sleeps late.  His breakfast is a concoction of bran cereal, kibble and psyllium husk powder.  Plus a bowl of ice water.  At five thirty each evening Jim takes him around the block while I fix his dinner–a repeat of breakfast.

About five doors down the street Jim calls me to let me know Bronson is on the way.  He then sends wonder dog to sprint home.  I open the front door and wait for him to rush by me straight to his dinner bowl and ice water.

This is our last dog.  I know we would forever compare others to Bronson.  We tell him he’s only four years old in hopes he believes and lives for decades.

It’s 9:15 in the morning. Bronson woke up long enough to do his morning business.  Then he toddled back to the bedroom where he and Jim are still deep in the feathers.

They are both good at retirement.

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Breathe and Believe

Every positive thinking tome I read assures me the New Reality I want, already exists.  My New Reality is to be a published author, making enough money to donate to a cause that has recently become dear to my heart.  I am to state my New Reality as if it is here, now, in the present tense.

I just finished meditating.  My recent mantra is, “Breathe and Believe.”  Upon opening my eyes I realized how many things in my life existed long before I realized they did.  The house I now live in, built in 1980’s, has been sitting here on its little patch of coarse Floridian grass since my children were in kindergarten.  My sweet husband existed, walking around on the planet, hurtling toward my life long before I was aware of him.

My New Reality, published author earning lots of cold hard cash, is out there–floating in my future, real, concrete, as solid as the walls of this house.  I simply have to breathe it, believe it, and take the steps necessary to attract it.

My current read, Laura Dey’s The Circle, includes a workbook.  Today’s exercise was to become aware of patterns in my life that do not serve me in my New Reality.  Each day I am to pick one pattern and replace it with a thought or action I consciously choose that supports my New Reality,  Everything I do is conscious and empowering.

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A habit I need to change:  I waste too much time looking at internet grack.  Checking if Kate Middleton is pregnant doesn’t support my New Reality.  Further, I don’t need to see Stephen Colbert’s monologue every morning or make myself nuts looking at the daily political bombshells.

In writing, I pledged not to play around on the internet until after 5 p.m.  I am, of course, allowed to write blog posts.  Those support my New Reality. As I wrote these things in my Circle workbook, I found myself on the edge of a panic attack.  I was mentally taken back to the day I finally quit smoking.

I was twenty-two years old.  I had been smoking since I was sixteen.  I smoked like I was being paid to do it.  Chain smoking, over three packs a day.  If I ran out of cigarettes I plundered the full ashtrays, finding butts that could be coaxed back to life for a moment or two.

I smoked while I put on my make-up.  I smoked while driving.  I smoked during meals.  I simply could not imagine how to function in the world without a burning stick of tobacco between my lips.

That’s the feeling I have at the prospect of limiting my internet addiction.  But this dependency doesn’t support my New Reality.   I vow to replace the internet habit with a new ritual.  Each time I’m tempted to click on Facebook, I will imagine a fresh idea for my blog.  Or say a gratitude prayer.  Or focus on the editor who is actually alive somewhere in this real world today. She is a living breathing reality.  Sitting at a desk, doing whatever editors do all day.  She is my friend.  (yes, I’m to state these things as if they are here and now.)

(Eeeek!  I just considered checking out youtube.  No Alice.  That is no longer your ritual. You can do this, Alice.  Just breathe and believe.)

The Circle

 

Walking a Marathon. A painful, enlightening experience. If you can endure a marathon, you can endure anything.

In the early 90’s three friends and I signed up to walk the Chicago Marathon. The only walkers permitted were required to fundraise for juvenile leukemia research.  I have referenced bits of this experience in my blog post of April, 04. Click here if interested.

Preparing for the marathon meant grueling months of walking mile after painful mile.  Three of us, Gray, Mo and I, would rise before the sun to begin trudging through our neighborhood.  The fourth walker, Carol, usually trained alone.  I asked her how she kept boredom at bay.   She said she recited the prayers repeated when praying the rosary.  I’m not Catholic, so I just looked up what is repeated doing rosary beads.  It seems there are enough entreaties to fill several marathon walks.

When we were training for the Marathon, I was suffering from anemia caused by undiagnosed celiac sprue.  Chronically exhausted, I wasn’t fit to walk a marathon.  Gray, one of the most forthright women I’ve ever known, stated firmly, “Alice if you aren’t able to keep up, do not to expect the rest of us to slow down and assist you.”

The night prior to the Marathon we stayed in the city.  We rose before dawn to begin walking. We marched the first few miles in the dark. Finally, the sun rose over Lake Michigan, gloriously painting the sky crimson, pink and orange.

Shortly thereafter a herd of gazelle-like runners thundered past us.  They had long, lean, muscled legs, minuscule butts, and rippling abs.  I turned to Gray and asked, “If we run, instead of walking, will we look like them?”  She laughed and replied, “Those are the elite runners.  Those athletes run in marathons all over the world.”

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Next passed a group of good runners.  They weren’t as sleek as gazelles, but they were strong, toned, comfortable with their pace.

We were overtaken by many levels of racers that day.  The good were followed by the mediocre.  Eventually, we were confronted with hopefuls vomiting into the gutters.  Taking on a marathon isn’t for sissies.

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The most inspiring runners weren’t runners at all.  They were the wheelchair division.  Men and women with withered legs, propelling themselves ever forward by the strength of their good arms.

We saw them on slight inclines.  The temptation was to help.  But helping would be to diminish them.  They needed to succeed on their own terms, with their own hearts, pushing through the misery, accomplishing it alone.

I so clearly remember one particular wheelchair “runner.”  He had two useless legs, one dwindled arm.  Yet he soldiered on.  He was the picture of courage, determined to push himself over the finish line.

I too needed to cross that finish line without assistance.  Nearing the last mile I remembered Gray’s words,  “Alice if you are unable to keep up, do not to expect the rest of us to slow down for you.” And suddenly I grew astonishing resolve.  I gathered my soul together and willed myself to cross the finish line inches before Gray.

I, like all Marathon finishers crossing the finish line, was wrapped in a sheet of mylar.  A medal was hung around my neck.

In agony, I hobbled to the curb.  There, on the same Chicago corner, draped with mylar, was the man with no legs and only one arm.   He had reached the finish line before I did.  I can picture his slumped shoulders, heaving with sobs.  He accomplished the impossible. With merely one withered arm and a heart full of belief, he crossed the Chicago Marathon finish line.

That withered man didn’t, on the surface, have the skill set to prevail. Yet he did. He did because he believed he could.  Anything can be accomplished if we have faith.

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Positive thinking, Shel Silverstein and my marvelous Book Club.

In March of this year I had a profound, personal experience.  In spite of my willingness to share many intimate life struggles, my March reality will remain private.

The experience moved me so deeply I began my journey of learning how, exactly, the power of positive thinking can be harnessed.  Since March I’ve read several books about how to manifest the life you truly want.  The life I truly want is to be a published author.  My current read is The Circle. Author, Laura Day, says to tell yourself you already ARE the thing you want to be.  State it with conviction.  My statement, “I am a published author.  My life changed when one of my blog posts went viral and was seen by an editor at Simon and Schuster.”

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I am only about halfway through The Circle.  There are lots of things to wrap my brain around, and I still need to do the workbook section.   However, I have to put it aside because my book-club read arrived.

Our book club rule—all members must finish the book or just stay the hell home on book-club night.  I don’t want to stay the hell home.  I love our book-club.  We sit around dining tables, drink wine, share snacks and have the most interesting discussions– sometimes deep, occasionally hilarious, and never about politics.  (Remember, I live in Florida, opinons vary widely.)

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This is our current read.  The author uses the language with such brilliance . I am high-lighting certain passages.  Here are two short ones, “Ribbons of stars swirled like milk.” “…one eye on the horizon, my heart on tiptoe.”   How does a heart stand on tiptoe?  I love the mental picture those words create.  I don’t want to race through this excellent book.   I started reading early and will absorb it carefully.

But for today I have put Circling the Sun aside. There is another project on my desk.  I am coloring in all the illustrations of Shel Silverstein’s Where the Sidewalk Ends.  This book is a favorite of mine.  The book, and coloring, are a gift for my seventeen month old grandson, Tate. I’m hoping he will love it as much as Nana does.  Where the Sidewalk Ends is 183 pages long.  I’m on page 115.

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I hope to get this enterprise completed before the kid heads off to college.  Determined to put my nose to the grindstone this afternoon, I decided to continue my  positive thinking learning by turning on YouTube. I stumbled across Oprah Winfrey.  She is the world’s best example of someone who truly manifested  her own destiny.

Even so, I surprised myself by choosing her.  I get her magazine and don’t like it. ( I can hear you asking, “Then why get it, stupid-head?” Answer– I never subscribed so have absolutely no idea why it turns up in our mailbox.)   The articles make me feel like I’m a “fixer-upper”, always making suggestions for how to improve myself.  I spent years struggling to learn to like Alice Katherine Jay.  I don’t want to be made to feel I need repair.

However, Oprah proved to be the ideal person to watch.  She shared the interview that most impressed her as proof that we control our future with our thoughts.  Oprah said, “That conversation was with Jim Carrey, of all people.”  While on her show,  Carrey talked about his early years struggling to become famous.  He said he would drive into the Hollywood Hills, look down at the lights and simply KNOW his rich and famous life was already out there.  It was in the air he was breathing and the moonlight on his head.  It existed and the Universe was moving it toward him.

Carrey, broke, wrote himself a check for ten million dollars, dated it five years into the future, and slid it into his wallet.  He said he carried that check around until it was thin as tissue.   Five years later he made that ten million dollars when he  starred in the movie Dumb and Dumber.  He believed himself into his reality.

I’m going  to manifest my future as published author.  I don’t know what sort of writing will be published.  Maybe I’ll come up with a book of wacky poems, ala Shel Silverstein.  Perhaps a coming of age story?  Whatever my writing future is, it exists right here and now.  And the Universe is rolling it my way.

  I posted the above in the wee small hours.  Early today, in my morning dream, a poem whispered to me.  The image–a line drawing– Tate, seated on my lap. I was reading him this poem— 

“Wibbely Wobbely Weebely Wooooo.  I’m in love! In love with you!

Wibbely Wobbley Weebely Wheee.  Are you in love?  In love with me?

I hope so.”

Talking about the agonizing parts of life’s travels. Is it okay make this stuff public?

Yesterday I got an email from a beloved friend.  She shared her confusion regarding my blogging about the private, personal, painful, parts of my life’s journey.  I appreciate her candor.  Her email was good because I began reflecting on why I’ve been so open.

My mother and father would be horrified to know I’ve told the stories of my depression and Daddy’s death.  They were very private people.

Here’s what I’ve sorted out—I began this blog for two reasons:  I wanted to write and I wanted my kids to know me as a humanoid beyond being their mom.

My humanoid truths, my personal journey, isn’t all giggles, rainbows, and puppies.  I’ve lived some tough stuff.  We’ve ALL lived some tough stuff.

When the cleaning ladies come they turn back the corners of our area rugs and wipe up the cooties living under there.  The first time they came I bet there were loads of cooties.

Life delivers cooties.  Some people prefer to keep life’s cooties under cover. That’s fine for them.  My experience of keeping cooties buried created illness.  I became clinically depressed when I tried to shove my dirty secrets down.  I bet other people have too.  It took years of honest therapy, exploring those secrets before I became healthy and felt safe in my own skin, voicing my own opinions.

It could be argued I should have written my truths to my kids privately– it wasn’t necessary to put them on view to the entire planet.

Here on my blog I can look at my “statistics”.  Those stats reveal how many views per day,  where those views came from.  I’ve observed the painful blog posts–daddy’s death, my depression–have gotten more “clicks” than the other posts, as well as the most positive feedback.  Those stories have touched people all over the planet, from places as far-ranging as India, China, Pakistan, Ireland, Philippines, Australia, Germany, UK, and Israel.

Why are those posts the most viewed?  I asked my insightful step-daughter, Amy, exactly that.  Why do so many people want to read the sad stuff?  She thought perhaps because we all live sad stuff, but few of us talk about our difficult life affairs.  People need to know they aren’t alone.  Maybe it helps to hear there is a light at the end of even the longest, darkest tunnel.  Hopefully, eventually, they will step into the light.

I want my children to know they can survive the tough stuff.  In my experience surviving the painful, horrifying life events meant pulling them out from under the carpet.  It meant examining those dreadful moments, reliving them and then purging.  A garage sale of the heart.

This blog is about my life’s travels.  Most of my life’s excursions have been mundane.  Some have been delightful.  Yay for that.  And a few have brought me to my knees with heartbreak and despair.  My kids will live through their own on-their-knees moments.  I want them to trust that suffering needn’t only be survived, but through suffering, they will ultimately thrive.  Perhaps they can choose to use the pain, examine it, grow from it, and possibly even share it.  With sharing they can help someone else weather a personal storm.

So….Thank you, good friend, for your honest email.  I know being this candid makes some people in my world uncomfortable.  That’s okay.  This is my venture.  Warts and all it’s what I’ve lived.  I’m simply blowing the cooties out.  And, with a bit of luck,  I’m helping someone else know they can flourish in spite of having endured despair.

 

Happy Mother’s Day!

Today I find myself reflecting on motherhood.  I enjoy many tender memories, along with hilarious details I relished.

One of my favorite things was inventing “alternative facts”.  When very young, like all little kids, Matt and Mo were delightfully gullible.  While watching the Olympics I’d say, “Oh my gosh.  I’ll never forget the first time I skated in the Olympic games.  I was frightened to step out in front of those crowds.”  They also believed I had been on a professional woman’s basketball team,  was a former boxing champion, and danced with the Bolshoi Ballet.

Was it wrong to lie to the kids?  Maybe.  But I was a Monday through Friday single parent.  My former husband traveled week-long.  Solo parenting was difficult.  I made my fun where I could.

I always put my dumplings to bed very early.  In the summertime, the other kids would be screeching past the house on their Big Wheels at 7 p.m.  I would bath my little guys, curl up on my bed and read to them.  I loved those moments, sweet smelling warm children snuggled against me.  Matt is three years older than Maureen (nicknamed Mo).  We read at his level, but Mo was equally absorbed.  I remember while reading Huckleberry Finn I changed his voice from one accent to another.  Both children quickly informed me I was, “talking him wrong.”

By 8 p.m. I was pulling the shades and kissing my children goodnight.

Other entertaining stuff I remember–In first grade, Maureen broke her arm. (No, that wasn’t the fun part. It’s coming)  She was told the cast would come off in five weeks.  When I took her to the hospital for cast removal, the arm was x-rayed and the doctor said,  “Sorry, the cast has to stay on for another week.”

Mo was enraged with me–as if the fracture/cast situation was somehow my fault?  We were walking down the hospital corridor and she angrily announced she was NEVER looking at me again.  We entered the elevator.  She turned her head and glared furiously at the stainless steel wall over her left shoulder.

Inwardly chuckling, I said, “Gosh honey,  I totally understand your decision.  But it might be hard for you never to look at me again. You could accidentally glance my way.  We wouldn’t want that to happen. I tell you what–on the way home we’ll stop at the store. I will buy a blindfold.  You can wear it for the rest of  your life.”

I can still picture her turned head, eyes glued to the wall, shoulders firmly set.  When she registered my words, her stance softened.  She lowered her neck slowly.  Thoughtfully she swiveled, glanced up at me and decisively stated, “Never mind.  I’ll keep looking at you.”  Me, “Okay Sweetie.  I support whichever choice you make.”

Then there was the time she decided to run away from home.  She was in an angry huff, stuffing provisions into a backpack.  I went into her bedroom and offered my help. “Oh, you’ll need more than that.  Don’t forget a flashlight.  It gets terribly dark at night. And cold! Be sure to pack warm things.  I’ll go find your sleeping bag.”  Tee Hee.  She soon decided she’d prefer staying in her warm little bed.

She’s a mom now.  Yesterday her little guy barfed all over the backseat of their car.  I will spare you the photo attached to her text, stating, “Now I know what you went through.”  As a kid, Mo suffered horrible car sickness.  We always carried airplane barf bags.  Even a half mile trip to the grocery store would have her puking in the back seat.  We administered Dramamine before all car trips.

At age four Mo fractured her skull.  It happened in the evening.  I was at a watercolor class.  It had been a wonderful night.  To celebrate my successful painting, I stopped at Wawa for an ice cream cone.  When I arrived home my cheer quickly faded to horror.  My tiny sweet daughter was sleepily whimpering in pain.  Former husband was doing his best to keep her awake.  She had fallen from the second story landing and hit the floor head first.  It was terrifying.  We rushed to the emergency room.   After grilling us to ensure we hadn’t abused her, she was admitted.

Maureen was hospitalized for nearly a week.  One young intern indicated she may have permanent brain damage.  I slept on a cot by the bed, my heart breaking when she screamed out in agony.  Thank God she fully recovered.

Before Mo was released the doctor told us there was a good chance she would experience seizures.  He said, “No more Dramamine, that could induce convulsion.”

I lied to the kid again, saying, “Doctor Jelly Bean (his name was Bean) said the good thing about fracturing your skull is you won’t get car sick anymore.  Kids with fractured skulls never throw up in the car.”

At the time I drove a blue Volvo.  I remember peeking at Mo in the rear view mirror, strapped in her car seat, white as a sheet, swallowing hard and refusing to barf.  I’d cheer her on, “Good for you!  Fracturing your skull was good because you don’t puke anymore!”

It pretty much worked.  Until we were skiing in Colorado.  Mo tossed her cookies all over the backseat of a bus.  My sister later rode the same bus home.  She took a whiff and said, “Yup, Mo was here.”

Being a mom had its laughs.  It still does.  I look forward to messing with my darling grandson Tate’s impressionable young mind.  And to writing him little books I will then read while he snuggles up next to me.

Happy Mother’s Day to all you Mother readers.  Enjoy the journey.

Garage Sale–manifesting a way to sell $3000 worth of stuff for $247 plus change.

Recently our community put on a garage sale.  Jim and I participated on our driveway.  Neighbor Lynda and her darling German mother, Erika (aka Mama), also joined in.  Jim and I had the lion’s share of junk.  How was this possible? We moved three years ago.  I thought we purged all the junk then.

Jim has hoarder tendencies.   While gathering flotsam and jetsom to sell I stumbled across a small iron pig.  Piggy has been living on top of a file cabinet in our garage since we moved in. I put the pig in the get-rid-of-it box.   Jim spotted her, grabbed hold and refused to part with that dumb pig.  He white-knuckled gripped it, stating,  “But this is a really cute pig.”

Yes, cute pig.  Cute pig cluttering up the garage.  I literally had to pry his hoarding fingers from the pig’s belly.  Cute pig did not sell.  I noticed at end of da while loading up for a Goodwill drop off, Jim dumped Piggy into the back of my mini-van.  Yes, I drive a mini-van.  No we aren’t starting a family.  Yes, I know mini-vans aren’t cool.  Just shut-up.

My first ever garage sale was shortly after Jim and I got married.  We simply hauled all our “treasures” to our driveway, stuck a sign in the ground and set up shop. We didn’t mark anything.  We didn’t organize anything.  I didn’t know my new neighbor Brookie very well then—we had just moved in across the street.  She wandered around our driveway looking bemused.  I had no idea Brookie is a garage sale rock star.  Everything I now know about how to run a garage sale was learned from terrific friend Brookie.

We eventually shared a number of sales.  She was captain, I was crew.  This Florida sale was my first solo flight and I got my knickers in a twist worrying if I’d be organized.  I even had a nightmare that I forgot to put anything out and angry mobs were banging on the door at 7 a.m.  There were lots of harried calls to Brookie.

In case you want to know how to Brookie-craft a garage sale here are the tips.

First:  Take cars out of  garage several days early.  Set up tables in the garage.  Make extra tables with doors atop saw horses.   Place things by “theme” on each table.  Christmas stuff goes with other holiday things.  Kitchen utensils and dishes should not be integrated with baby clothes and so forth.  Once all items are on display spend a long day marking prices on each and every item.

Second:  For jewelry, use hang tags so customers can’t swap price tags around.  She suggested I make a sign—all jewelry $3 unless otherwise labeled.   I spent most of the day before pricing jewelry.

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This is the tip of the jewelry iceberg.  For a time being I had an etsy shop.  I purged that inventory.

Third:  Prepare a lunch the day before, then one person can go into the house and gather provisions.

Fourth:  Make a bookshelf out of two ladders and some planks.  Display all books there, hardbacks one price, paper backs half that.

Fifth:  Lot of signs around the neighborhood announcing sale.

Sixth:  Hang artwork on picket fence.  We don’t have a  picket fence, so I leaned the lone painting against the bookshelves/ladder.

Seven: Have a “free” box.  As the day goes by add new things to the “free” box so you don’t have to pack them for Goodwill.

Eight:  Tell your friends if they see any gifts they’ve given you on the sale tables not to take offense.  At one sale there were two bars of olive oil soap Jim and I brought back from Italy for Brookie and another neighbor, Judy.  Forewarned, I wasn’t offended.

Nine:  Gather cash and change.

Ten:  Tell everyone, all day long, that after a certain time all items will be half price.  They can choose to buy now or take their chances and come back later.

There are items Eleven through about Forty-Five.   But you get the idea.

Lynda and I took all of Brookie’s experience and applied it.  We were ready for the hoards.

What I found out is having a garage sale in Palm Harbor, Florida is a different kettle of fish.  In Barrington, Illinois we got CROWDS.  It was a feeding frenzy.   It took six of us to manage the sales.

Palm Harbor, Florida…not so much.  But that’s good because I got to spend time gabbing with Lynda and Erika.  Plus, the garage got cleaned out and I have a small pile of cash in my “locker”—a fancy, hand-painted box I gave Jim for his birthday years ago.  Then I usurped it.  My bad.

At the end of the day we sold $3000 worth of stuff for $247.75.  Yup, I’m a rock star business woman.

 

 

 

Our Impulsive Move to Florida

In the summer of 2013, Jim and I moved from the Chicago suburb of Barrington, Illinois to Florida.  We left my dream house….but that was good because other dreams came true.

Prior to marrying in 2005, we decided neither of us wanted to live in the houses we’d occupied previously.  I hated his townhouse.  Sure, it had a great view overlooking a lake.  But every house in the neighborhood looked the same– tan. If you were daydreaming while driving you could easily end up half a mile past his place before realizing your mistake.  I called his neighborhood “Brown Town”.

Moreover, it was in a gated community.  I’d had enough gated community living to last a lifetime.  I wanted a home where friends could come knock on my door anytime they chose to.  Furthermore, nothing was within walking distance.

The home I lived in was south of his, in the darling village of Barrington.  Locals simply call it “The Village.”   Restaurants, boutiques, grocery stores, churches, the train to Chicago were all within blocks.

My house was a 1920s Sears Bungalow.  It had a big front porch. Somewhere along the way, someone had enclosed it with cantilever windows.  No, they weren’t pretty, but I could lock the porch door and spend hot summer nights sleeping on the daybed I created.  It was camping without the icky parts.

The kitchen needed updating, as did a bunch of other stuff.  Yet it was mine!  For the first time in my life I’d been able to make each and every decision regarding my home.

Jim and I compromised, agreeing to sell our houses and buy one we both loved.

Shortly thereafter, while headed back to Brown Town, Jim passed an 1880’s farmhouse two blocks from mine.  It had come on the market, “For Sale by Owner,” that morning.  We made an offer the same afternoon.   A month or so later, before closing, we took our “walk-through”.  The house was nothing like we remembered.  We grimaced, looked at each other and asked, “What were we smoking?”

Charmed by location we overlooked the many dreadful design flaws.  It took us nearly a year to remodel.  I hand-painted and fired ceramic sinks for two bathrooms and painted a tile mural for a back-splash. Everything but one exterior door was scrapped and replaced, including the landscaping.  Our Village home became a little jewel box.  I swore the only way Jim would EVER get me to leave 502 South Grove Avenue was in a pine box. (Believe me, as I was making never-ending remodeling suggestions, that pine box may have entered his mind!)

Grove sink
I painted the sink in the powder room.  Loved those cool light fixtures.
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Unable to find our photos, I lifted these photos from Zillow.  The woman who purchased our home moved on.  We left the Daniel Boone School sign with the house.  I just seemed to fit in on the corner of Russell and Grove.  Isn’t that twisty tree enchanting?  It dropped dreadful, purple, driveway-staining berries.  But I saved it from Jim’s threatened ax.

Prior to our move, we’d been spending a large part of frigid Chicago winters on Floridian Anna Maria Island.  We drove back and forth.  Driving home in early spring of 2013, I turned to Jim and nearly shocked him into swerving off the road when I declared, “You know what? It’s time move to Florida!”

He gave me twenty-four hours to change my mind, then he called a realtor.  We got home on Tuesday, listed on Friday and sold that darling little old lady for cash, a bit over full price, the next day!

Now here we are—Floridians!

There is a positive thinking/manifestation story in all of this.

  1. I always wanted my own crooked old house.  I got it in my Sears Bungalow.
  2. I’d  long dreamed of living in a porch swing house. 502 South Grove had a sweet front porch. We hung a swing.
  3. For years I fantasized about someday having a big screened in patio.  Yup, we’ve got that here! The natives call their pool screens “cages.”  We have a cage.  It’s a dandy, mosquito free space with a large overhang providing much-needed shade in the heat and cover from the summer downpours.
  4.  I’m working on manifesting our next dwelling. Someday, when we no further want to take care of yard and pool, and no longer have Bronson, our wonder dog, we might just relocate to St. Petersburg.  Perhaps a condo within walking distance of the many activities St. Pete has to offer.  For now, though, we love it right here.   Life is very good!  Very good indeed.

 

My Mother, Jane.

I am writing this for my children.  By the time they were old enough to register mom on their radar screens, she had weathered a terrible storm.  She was tense and laughter came infrequently.  I want them to understand more about her.

My mother was terribly insecure–insecurity rooted in her own mother’s disdain.  Della Seafert Price, my grandmother, bore three children.  Mom was first.  Then there were two boys.  My mother’s given name was Marjorie Jane Price.  Her parents forgot what they had chosen for her first name.  Until the birth certificate arrived weeks later they called her by her middle name, Jane.  I always took that story at face value.  Now I wonder, “How does a mother forget her first-born child’s name?”

Della, my “Nana”, repeatedly told my mother she would prefer five boys to one girl.  What does that do to an impressionable child’s self-confidence?   Mother wasn’t allowed to express anger.  She would take her rage into her bedroom and bend coat hangers.

She also grew up very concerned about appearances.  There were “mom-ism’s” that drove my sister, Marilyn, and me nuts.  I asked Marilyn which she remembers.  She said, “You look like a sheepdog. Comb your hair.”  I remember a different version of the same theme,  “You look so pretty.  Would you like to use my comb?”  Which was it?  Was I pretty or messy?

Mother was smart.  She had gone to the University of Chicago, receiving a Phi Beta Kappa pin her first year.  Yet she never finished college.  She got married after three years of school.  Not completing her education only added to her sense of insecurity.

But here is another thing about my mom.  Somehow, despite her insecurities, she developed a spine of steel and a biting, quick wit.  The wit was her from her dad’s gene pool.   The ramrod straight spine from her mother, Nana.

Fast forward to my father’s death. (blog post on May 5, 2017).  His death was, in their small town, infamous.  Mother felt intense shame, but she refused to allow shame to be her legacy. She scraped herself together and forged on.

Several years after Daddy died Mother had a stroke.  The many years of smoking finally caught up with her. She had long since quit, but too little too late. She stopped smoking following a few too many New Year’s Eve glasses of champagne.  She had sloppily bragged to any and everyone, “tomorrow I’m gonna’ quit schmockin’ an’ thaaaat’s  the trufe.”  Embarrassed by her tipsy behavior she woke determined to make good on her vow.  Mother had super-human self-discipline.

She was in the bathroom when the stroke hit her.  She fell to the tile floor hard.  Her right side was paralyzed. She managed to drag herself, using her left elbow, to the bedside table.  She pulled the phone to the floor and dialed 911.

Mother was hospitalized and endured long difficult rehab.  While in the hospital many kind people sent cards and flowers.  One dear friend (now sadly a former friend for reasons I will never understand) didn’t send flowers.  She didn’t send cards.  She did something far more insightful.  Mom, so worried about image, told my friend she was heart-sick because she was now “hideous.”  Rather than simply verbally assuring Mother, Friend walked the halls until she found someone to loan her a hand mirror.  Returning she held it in front of Mom’s face.  Mother was astonished to find she wasn’t monstrous.

Friend then asked what Mother needed.   She needed make-up.  The friend made a list of Mom’s favorite cosmetic colors and brands.  Later that day she returned with a bag full of supplies.  Mother was then able to address all-important appearance needs.

Following the stroke, Mother willed herself to walk again.  She looked at every damn thing she did as “therapy.”  From what I understand, stroke victims can sometimes rebuild damages by intense hard work.  Mother was the most determined stroke survivor ever.

Ultimately she recovered fully.  Each Christmas she visited our home in the Chicago suburbs.  She and I would go shopping.  I’d park her in a dressing room and be her personal shopper, carrying items back and forth, digging for something flattering.

Her last visit was in 2000.  When I took her to the airport, she was happily hauling a pile of new clothes back to Delaware.

While on the way I asked her, “Are you afraid to die?”   She responded, “Not at all. I am afraid of what I might have to experience before dying.  I don’t know if I could summon the strength to fight back from another stroke.  But death itself doesn’t frighten me in the least.”

Mother died in her sleep the following month.  I later learned she had played bridge that day.  She arrived at bridge club wearing her new hot pink pantsuit.  One of her close friends told me that when she was complimented on her outfit she stood up and twirled like a little girl.  Thinking of that makes me smile.

mom.jpg
Mother was about eighteen when this was taken.