Lend a Hand

Life can be a bitch. Not a startling thought, because we all know it. All experience it.

And when life isn’t rolling smoothly and you aren’t traveling freely along the highway of peace and calm, you can get distracted. You start looking inward instead of outward. You miss things that way. Mostly your friends and colleagues – other people.

It’s easy to collapse into ourselves because we’re worried about paying bills, losing weight, selling books, ranking on Amazon or a million other things.  And there are times when you must concentrate on yourself. Times you must go to your internal world and work on you. Self care is important.

But self-absorption? Not so much.

I’ve been living there for a while lately and I’m not proud of it. And it hasn’t helped either.

And I have once again realized that if you want to feel better, in general or otherwise, help somebody. It doesn’t have to be fancy or elaborate. It doesn’t have to be a grand gesture. It can be as simple as giving somebody the right of way, letting a person with one item ahead of you in the checkout line, smiling at someone, or saying thank you.

I promise you’ll feel better, worry less, and probably like yourself more. When you’re happier, good things happen.

I wish nothing but good things for you. Thank you for reading, when you could be doing a hundred other things.

Have a lovely weekend.

Annie

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Have You Told a Friend You Love Them, Today?

be a friendWe were instant friends. As though we were simply picking up where we left off when we knew each other in some former life. I love it when that happens. Truth be told that it doesn’t happen to me often. But Jenny, she’s the real deal. She’s smart, funny, kind, sweet, silly and really all the things you want a friend to be.

She’s lived in Texas for the last 12 years which makes it hard to stay in touch. You get so wrapped up in  your day to day life that you forget you haven’t talked in months. Or when you do call, she’s not home, she’s working, her kids need help with the homework. Or I haven’t left my computer for the last six days because I’m trying to meet a deadline. Or we’re both just too damned tired. Or. Or. Or.

But by some luck, an unexpected configuration of the stars and planets, the fickle finger of fate sent her west for some business. And we’ve had three glorious days to reconnect. Nothing special. A pig out at the local Sizzler. A late night Tom Cruise movie. Dinner at my house. Ice Cream at Baskin Robbins. It doesn’t matter because just hanging out with her is like remembering who I am. It’s a great gift of the universe to be in the presence of someone who gets me. And who I get. I’ve laughed more in the last three days than I probably have in the last six months. Hell, even my dog is happier when she’s around and my dog is the happiest dog on Earth.

In couple of days she’ll be heading back  home to the husband and kids. To Texas. To the faraway again. I’ll probably cry because having her these few days has reminded me just how much I love her and miss her. Still, it’s a gift to have such a wonderful friend. No matter how much time you get to spend with them. It’s a joy to hang out with someone you don’t have to explain yourself to or with whom you can just sit, without even talking and feel at home. Feel the best parts of yourself gurgle and sparkle.

And I’m thankful. And I’m grateful. And Jenny…I love you, girl.

Do you have a friend like Jenny? Then what are you waiting for? Tell them you love them and that they’re the best. Because let’s face it, our friends the real treasures of our lives.

 

Annie

 

Dear Friend

dear friendFriends are the best and what the heck would we do without them? But we’re so busy all the time and there’s always so much to do, we sometimes don’t say the things we should to our friends.  So, I’ll say it here and now. 

Dear Friend,

I am not your friend because you are always happy, cheerful and care-free. The truth is I love you even when your warts are showing.

I think you are a wonder even when you can’t control your anger, sadness or depression. I respect you because you can feel deeply and feelings are neither good or bad – they’re just feelings.

My wish for you is that you are always happy and that life is a continuous adventure.  But I know that sometimes you aren’t and it’s not.  But that’s okay because I still love you. (Even if you have gained 50 pounds and can’t give up the chocolate.)

I want you to always feel loved but I know that sometimes you feel alone.

I want you to know you can tell me anything – even the the things you keep from me because you don’t want to be a bummer.

I want you to spread your lovely wings and fly. But I understand that there are times when wings break and the back-ups are at the dry cleaners.

Why do we try so hard to be perfect? Don’t you know that you are perfect just as you are in all your wonderful imperfections? Well, you are.

To all my wonderful friends – you are truly special people. 

Writer Chick

Copyright 2014

“Not-there”

How do you explain something that is not? A non…quality, characteristic or state? A thing that should be there and you expect to be there that startles and confuses by it’s absolute absence?

I have grappled with this phenomena for some time now. Trying to discern error, find my mistakes and understand my utter misconceptions.

Through the internet we can find the best of worlds and the worst of worlds. We may encounter the truest of friends and the craftiest of tricksters. Though as a rule I think largely we encounter fair weather friends. Nothing wrong or unusual about that because in normal non-virtual life we encounter such people constantly. That aside, there were a few people of whom I was absolutely certain were the stuff of profound friendship. And it was these people after literally hundreds of hours of phone talk, thousands of emails and regular exchanges of gifts and cards, I ventured to meet in the real world.

Not much of a risk really because it seemed we all knew each other so very well that in fact we were all dear old friends. I truly believed that and approached the meeting with great enthusiasm. However, within moments of meeting the first ‘old friend’ something told me I was terribly mistaken. The not-there was so not there that I felt disoriented and incredulous at once. Which was immediately followed by copious amounts of denial. I had to be imagining the lack of warmth, the indifference and lightly veiled antagonism. It was travel day after all and we were tired and not ourselves, right?

And so planes were boarded and eventually landed. And baggage problems greeted us at the airport which served as a useful distraction for a time… And then onto the next friend – the one whom I’d known the longest and the best and once again the not-there appeared and that void left me scratching my head in wonder. And then the next and …. And after everyone settled in, got rest, food and sunshine the not-there did not relent.

What made it worse for me was that I could see there were connections between the others – making me wonder what awful thing I’d done to be excluded. To inspire such indifference about my presence on a trip I was encouraged greatly to take.

The week was one of the longest of my life and though I was crammed into a house full of people it seemed I was utterly alone. And I didn’t think of much else than being home among friends. I couldn’t sleep, nor eat – hell I couldn’t even make a phone call because my cell fell into a water trap at the mini golf course – effectively cutting me off from everyone.

And when the big good bye finally came it was little more than a lift to the bus station with a wave and a ‘see ya.’

For weeks afterward I told myself I imagined it or must have misunderstood. Things would soon return to normal – but no, they never did. The void simply kept growing. And eventually I had to accept that the friendship, warmth and love I’d felt simply wasn’t mutual. And that was just the truth it pure and simple. As the saying goes they just ‘weren’t that into me.’ And the reasons and explanations that might have been offered were irrelevant because it wouldn’t change the truth.

For a long time I was hurt, angry and confused and part of me wanted some sort of vindication or validation. But eventually I realized there was no point in that kind of thinking either. You cannot make another person care about you – it cannot be done (and even if it could, what value is there in that?).

So…I let go and walked away. Not an easy thing to do when you feel so invested but under the circumstances certainly the right thing to do. For all of us. I wish them all well and bear them no malice. Perhaps just a tinge of lingering sadness over it all but this is life and life is full of interesting lessons.

And make no mistake, I don’t write this any kind of cautionary tale. I have made many wonderful online friends whom I hope to meet someday too and will approach those meetings in the same way. And even if I never do, my life is better for the presence of these people.

I think I just write this to so I can put it all to rest and finally move on.

Why do Twitter and Facebook hate me?

Puleeze can someone tell me? Am I the only one who can rarely if ever get onto FB or Twitter –  much less do something once I get there? It’s a wonder to me. Apparently social networking is the thing of the 21st Century. I mean for cripes sakes where would we be without it?  Probably like me – continuously frustrated and probably somewhat inept at all the many apps.

I have lots of friends and family just wild about this stuff. Downloading tweetdecks and twitter apps for their blogs and all sorts of stuff. Me? Like I said just waiting for the endless loop of trying to download the page.

I even get notifications from both sites – saying I’m being followed by so and so or so and so wants me to join a cause or see their new pics. Hey, I’d love to follow you back or at least find out who the heck you are and why you are so bored you would follow me but… And I guess I wouldn’t mind tweeting from time to time but…

Forget about the FB apps. Farmville, MafiaWars, Family chains, circle of friends, virtual roses, pizzas, children, awards, automobiles, produce, etc..

Frankly folks, for the most part it’s all beyond me. The fact that I can barely get onto either site is a drawback I’ll admit but really how do so many people have so much time on their hands? Maybe they have secret plugins that allow them to actually get something done on either of these apps but I just can’t seem to spare an hour to simply find out who is following me and why much less tweet about something.  And growing virtual produce seems rather silly to me – why not just play a video game?

I definitely like the concept of staying in touch and having an easy platform to do so…but I guess that’s my point. Neither facebook or twitter make it easy – at least for me.  Mostly they just make me curse under my breath. I suppose I should just pull the plug on both of these sites – I mean I’m not really contributing anything to speak of and the whole virtual aspect makes me a little dizzy – but then I think to myself, at least somewhere somehow, long lost friends or family can find me. Still, it’s hard to network on sites that hate you. That taunt you and just won’t let you play.

Anybody else out there have this problem or should I start taking it personally?

WC

I’ll Be Broke For Christmas

Haha, remember that old song, I’ll Be Home for Christmas, – well, I wonder if the spirit of ol’ Bing would update that to I’ll be broke for Christmas. Hey, I’m not complaining because I know a lot of people out there are in the same spot. This year has really sucked wet mops in the financial department. And I think we feel it more around Christmas time because when we want to be generous this time of year. We want to splurge and shower our friends and loved ones with gifts and delightful things to eat, plays and shows, parties – the whole ball of wax. But alas…what’s a Christmas time junkie to do when she’s short on cash?

Well, I don’t know if it will help but I’ll give you my own version of Christmas on the cheap. Here’s what I do (in no particular order):

1. I comb the thrift shops, discount stores and Blockbuster’s clearance shelves for Christmas movies, especially funny or obscure ones. (Yesterday I got four for under a buck each at a Goodwill).

2. I check the grocery store flyers for whatever is on sale – say if they have ham for $1 a pound, well then, that’s my Christmas meal.

3. I make collages of old christmas cards and frame them by borrowing existing frames I have around the house.

4. I go for walks and collect pine cones and put them in baskets around the house to give it that christmas smell.

5. I prefer a live tree but they can be pricey so I got an artificial tree from the thrift store for $10 – it works – not perfect but hey, it’s a tree. Heck one year, I was too broke to even buy at the thrift store so I found a big tree branch, spray painted it silver and hung ornaments on it. Turned out it was really pretty and very unusual – lol.

6. I bake brownies for the mailman, my mechanic, neighbors, the local fire station, etc. who I want to give something to.

7. I shop the thrift stores for old christmas ornaments, or the dollar store is another great place to find stuff like that.

8. I invite friends for a potluck movie marathon. Four friends each bring a dish of some sort, add three movies and a couple of bottles of cheap wine or diet soda and you’ve got a party.

9. I drive around the neighborhood at night and admire the Christmas lights and displays – or walk if the weather is nice.

10.  If I’m exchanging gifts with friends, we set a limit, like $5 and we stick to it – usually they end up being gag gifts but that’s the fun of it. Although, you can find some great fuzzy socks or a decent pen for $5 or nice note cards – which also make great gifts.

11. I live in California, so no building snowmen – but pine trees abound in my area, so I take a knife with me on walks and cut off low, soft pine branches and decorate my fireplace mantle with them, again gives that Christmas smell.

12. I get stocking stuffers at dollar stores and thrift shops or places like Big Lots.

13.  I’ve also been known to give coupons for 3 hours of pet sitting, or a home-cooked meal, a raking leaves.

14. I write Christmas stories or poems, print them on Christmas paper and give them as gifts.

Basically, I take whatever talents or resources I have available and I turn them into the most Christmas-y thing I can think of and you know what, it works. I have a great time and a great Christmas. How about you? What do you do when you’re having a broke Christmas?

WC

copyright 2009

Christmas Lives


Among my many adventures last year, Christmas wasn’t one of them. I had moved to a new state, started a new life and had many hopes for the future. What never dawned on me was that there would be no Christmas.

And I’m one of those whacky folks who really loves Christmas. Everything about it. From the tacky decorations that the stores put up way too early, to the endless Christmas carols on the radio, to the food. Santa Hats. Reindeer ears. Candy canes. Christmas trees. Even though I hate being cold, I still secretly wish for snow every Christmas Eve.

I collect Christmas movies and force roomie to watch them with me. Typically, I have the Christmas tree up and the house decorated by Thanksgiving weekend. Oh yes, I am a Christmas nut.

But then, last year, I discovered that Christmas was not to be. There was no belief in Christmas trees, or Christmas gifts or any real celebration. It was just another day as far as he was concerned and I got tired of him asking, ‘do you want a Christmas gift?’ I figure if you have to ask then please don’t do it because clearly you don’t want to. And no one should give a gift begrudgingly.

I tried. I found a sad little tree in Home Depot and decorated it – which seemed to amuse him but not in a nice way. I cried a lot. I did send Christmas cards but they were full of apologies for not doing anything else. For being sad and broke and
un-Christmas-y. Probably would have been better off to not send them at all. And then of course, people who don’t believe in Christmas also don’t believe in New Year’s, Valentine’s Day or birthdays either. In a phrase, last year was a bust in ways too many to enumerate.

This year, however, Christmas lives. I am about to put up the tree – even though I will probably moan and groan  as I do so. I’m going to put on Christmas music, and do the house up in silly decorations and maybe tomorrow, I’ll go get some Christmas cards with Santa and reindeers on them and some smart alec saying.

I started my shopping today and though the budget is still pretty tight, there will be presents. Exchanged with people who love to do so. There will be a meal to look forward to and lots of silly, soppy sentimental movies. I’ll find a santa suit for my dog and force her to pose for pictures. I’ll drive around the neighborhood and admire the lights that people have put up. I’ll buy some Christmas candy for the homeless guys who hang around the park. I will celebrate Christmas this year because it means something to me. And it always will.

Maybe though by not having it last year I learned something interesting about Christmas – that it’s not so important how you celebrate it, but that you celebrate it. To me, there is something fundamentally humane and joyous about holidays but especially Christmas. It is the time of year that we let our guards down – we show our love for our fellow man and friends and family and neighbors. It’s special. No matter what your religious beliefs, it is kind, warm, caring, fun, happy, giving. It brings out the best in (most) of us. And I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

So, I hope all of you out there are celebrating too, in one way or another. That you are feeling the Christmas glow, or love or joy or warm fuzzies. I hope that you are feeling your own giving and kind nature and reveling in it and sharing it with others. Christmas lives. In all of us.

And Now a Word About Perspective…

kelly

All of you know of my friend Kelly who had a very bad car accident about a year ago. I have written many posts about it and all of you have uttered prayers and good wishes for her over these many months. You know how very much she means to me and how very much I admire her and love her.

Today, she posted a message to her CarePages page to all her friends and family and I wanted to share it with you for a couple of reasons:

1. I wanted you to hear first hand from Kelly and her view of what happened to her
2. I wanted you to have the opportunity to experience the change of perspective I did when I read her message.

Kelly said:

Why My Accident Was A Good Thing

Me again!

Almost getting killed a good thing? Excuse me? What the heck am I talking about?

Yes, it’s been exactly one year today that my life got totally turned inside out. It’s been a year of misery. A year of “crybaby days” where literally all I can do almost daily is cry about how much I hate what my life has turned into. This one year anniversary has been looming and all I’ve been able to think about is the frustration with how far I still have to go to get my life back. I mean gosh, broken bones heal so much faster than broken brains. I can’t tell you how frustrating it is to still be where I am.

OK, there you go. You’ve got the miserable side of it. It’s all I’ve been thinking about lately. Just what do I say on the actual one year anniversary day?

Well grab a cup of coffee because I’ve got so much more to say. I started to think. What IF this accident never happened? I started to realize the amount of GOOD things that I’d be without or that wouldn’t have happened. When it comes right down to it, everything I’ve had to “endure” is actually a small price to pay for all the good that has come of it.

Good things? Am I serious?

Yes, I am. Here is the short list:

#1 I’ve met and can introduce all of you to amazing people that can change your life. If only one of you gets some part of your life improved, worth it.

From the most awesome Physical Therapist around:
Bret from Physiocare in Woodinville. 425-402-9443 (read the message he left on my last/first update. Wouldn’t you want that attitude guiding you?) Plus you wouldn’t believe what I’ve been able to accomplish with his instruction/guidance. He could do the same for you!
To the very funny AND inspirational friend:
Al Foxx – Professional motivational speaker/comedian/author. Someone who’s had the same injury as me. HE can make jokes about it! To have someone understand to the degree that he does and can make me laugh so stinking much has been unbelievable. The fact that he’s become a friend of mine I get to have a part in helping others experience his awesome wise words and comedy. To have him inspire even one of you, again, way cool! (you all get a copy of his book if you can make it to the anniversary party 😉
To the most tremendous group of friends:
All of you. You wouldn’t believe how awesome you all have been. To have such a remarkable community surrounding you is amazing. If what happened to me created in any way more of a “come together” attitude that has inspired any more of a community feeling…. so worth it. I have heard of some amazing things that you have done for others. And to “inspire” anyone to be a good friend to anyone else is so, so way cool!

#2 Revitalized marriages. Not only has this accident made Mark and I even more committed to each other (we’re going to renew our vows! 😉 We have heard of other marriages being more “solidified”. If even one spouse changes their viewpoint to one of “So what if the dishes didn’t get done today. I’m so glad I still have a teammate for life”. Oh my gosh! So cool!!

#3 The totally awesome talent my brother, Stuart, has with the written word has been exposed. So many have been wowed with the way he speaks I can add that to my list. I 100% know he will be get to do so much good with how he writes. I’ll get to say “he got his start with me!”

#4 Lives SAVED! Yes my accident has saved lives. How? you ask? Well, look at it this way. IF the driver of the car that hit me had hit anyone else, they would have been killed. The fact that it was me and I had the support system there to help me survive and the motivation there to hang on, I DID. Someone else might not have had what was needed to live. I did, so someone else lived. Not only that but so many have changed their driving habits as a result of my accident, how many other accidents have been prevented?
AND The guy that hit me has changed HIS driving habits!! Yes, we have talked! I called him because I heard from our attorney that he was willing to speak with me in front of drivers Ed classes encouraging kids just learning how to drive to be very careful on the road. Is that cool or what? I had a very long conversation with him and was totally impressed with his willingness to talk with me. Yes, I did hate him at first and yes I did want him to suffer some big consequences. BUT then my mother genes kicked in and I realized I couldn’t have another life harmed in any way by my accident. So I got my courage up and called him. I know it took guts on his side too and it was an awesome conversation. He is a kid just starting to get his life going and talking to him made me realize he really IS a good kid. This was an accident. He admitted to me his driving habits have totally changed as a result of the accident. AND he is very willing to work with me to make sure this doesn’t happen to someone else. That has saved lives and will save more. Period.

So here is something else I want to say about the guy that hit me: I need all of you to forgive him too. Worrying about me and Clara (the girl in the accident with me) has had him totally beside himself. I honestly felt that from him. Having anger from others hanging over him is NOT something I want him to have to live with. Plus he’s willing to help me prevent this from happening to anyone else. I don’t think I could asked for a more awesome result 😉 Let your anger with him go. He is changing his life and will change the lives of others too. Let him.

OK, OK, I promised a “short list” I know your coffee is getting low so I’ll let you go. The list continues so you’ll get more later. Gotta go celebrate.
I’M ALIVE!!

Totally love all of you!
Kelly

Kelly honey, you are amazing and you totally rawk.

Life is Short…

This year has been a helluva experience – a lot of good, a lot of bad, a lot of suprises, a lot of lot of… And Jesus Christ, it ain’t over yet. I’m wondering if I have enough St. John’s Wort to last me. Probably not.

Life can turn on a dime, to coin a phrase (pun intended) and you never think any of that crappy stuff is going to hit your door and muck up your plans – but it does. And usually just when you think things are looking pretty okay.

I don’t particularly want to ruminate or lament about things – but I do want to say that life is short, sometimes much shorter than you think it’s going to be – so my friends, don’t sweat the small stuff and enjoy everything there is to enjoy in your lives while it’s here – while you have it.

If you’ve had a fight, make up with them, forgive them or get them to forgive you. A flat tire is just a flat tire. You can buy a new one pretty much anywhere. Blog stats, comments mean nothing if someone you love is in trouble. Give your dog an extra doggie treat, play with your kids, hug your mom, tell everyone you love that you love them. Go on the big roller coaster, drive too fast, let the wind mess up your hair, eat the chocolate or the fresh baked bread, the hell with the calories. Write with your heart, read with passion, appreciate the efforts of others. Be there for your friends, be there for yourself. Grab it all while the grabbing is good.

I love you all and thank you for being here, I’m here for you too, only an email away.

Sleep Deprived in Seattle

Hi Folks,

I left for Seattle Saturday morning and had a boring and uneventful flight, except for the killer ear ache insighted upon approach to Seattle. Now, I remember why I don’t like to fly.

Kelly’s brother, Suart, picked me up at the airport and and we went straight to the hospital from there. The good news was that she was no longer unconscious and she was moving from intensive care to acute care, which indicates improvement. The bad news was the heartache of seeing my friend so beaten and bruised and confused.

I really couldn’t tell if she knew me in any sense of the word and though I felt I saw a spark in her eye and she gripped my hand very tightly – it is just as easy to believe that it was only reflex and no true recognition. The move from intensive care to that of a shared room in acute care, along with a myriad of visitors proved to be too much for her and she became over stimulated.

Given the trauma and shock her body has been through, it takes very little to get her agitated and over stimulated. For this reason, I found myself hanging back and questioning the wisdom of my decision in coming, as it seems often that I am more in the way that actually effecting any kind of positive change. Still, a part of me needed to believe that it was important for me to come and on some level she knew I was there and found some tiny comfort in that fact.

We left the hospital and went back to the house around midnight. Naturally, sleep was not something that came easily and I think I finally dozed off around 4 am. Though my eyes felt like they were made of sandpaper, I got up, made breakfast for Kelly’s family and we were off to the hospital. It was determined that I would stay the night with Kelly and so I did.

I had no idea how very active and intrusive hospitals are in the dead of night and if they weren’t waking to prod and poke Kelly, they were walking her room mate to poke and prod her. Also, nurses and doctors speak very loudly to trauma patients, as though that somehow cancels out the trauma and enables them to comprehend what is being asked of them and to then perform requested tasks, like wiggling fingers and squeezing hands.

Due to the over stimulation, Kelly required pain medication from early Sunday morning all the way to the present and probably wil remain on it for a while. She has managed to pulled her feed tube twice and had to have it reinserted which is not a pleasant thing for her or the staff. The good news is that she is strong and mobile but the bad news is that she must be restrained so that she doesn’t harm herself, pull vital tubes or touch the area of her head where they had to remove part of the skull cap.

I am not sure why I believed that I would actually be able to sleep while I stayed the day and night and then half the day again with her in the hospital. Trust, this is not possible, especially with trauma patients. She gave me a couple of good kicks in the butt, which I suppose I have always needed and her color is good and it seems that each hour she looks just a tiny bit more like Kelly. I am heartened by this and feel unbeleivably guilty that I am exhausted and require sleep and even time away from her. If I were a good friend I would not require these things and I would never leave her side – but I guess I’m not the tough bitch I always thought I was and that’s what I get for being so arrogant.

I am not back at the house and going to try to get some sleep and will probably go back tomorrow or wednesday for another full day shift – it is what they seem to need and I want to be able to help them in the way they are helped.

So, please don’t feel hurt or ignored if I am unable to respond to any comments you may leave or even emails. I am at least reading them when I get a chance and I promise to catch up on my correspondence when I return home, which will be the end of this week.

Thanks to all of you who have expressed your good wishes and prayers for my friend. I cannot tell you how much it means to me and to her.

Much love,

Annie