Thursday, August 26, 2010

My Laughter Merry-Go-Round

A couple of the funniest real life stories that I remember involve revolving doors… and my bespectacled mom on her very first early morning commuter express train ride to a new job in Chicago… and my Nonni who was age 90 at the time of her inelegant doorway-maneuvering incident – at the lobby entrance into my post-divorce posh high-rise apartment building! Clumsy actions and humorously embarrassing events tickle my funny bone, for sure! *slapstick* Even though those particular occurrences are now distant memories (20 years ago and 10 years ago respectively) they can, and do, bring forth hysterics whenever mom and I recount the details. And I’m sure that if Nonni were alive today she would laugh out loud too (and probably be dabbing a happy tear or two with her little lace handkerchief!) A hearty belly laugh feels so good right? Right! Well, except when it doesn’t. *huh*

Yes, it’s true that laughter is really good for us humans – research has proven many wellness benefits – it’s flat out relaxation by virtue of levity! *delightful* Fortunately for me, I developed emotional resilience and a healthy dose of optimism as I grew up in a jocular family… laughing my way through the springtime of life. *grins* Oh yeah, I had my share of pain and suffering along the way to adulthood… most of it within normal limits… but some of it was quite excruciating (physical – due to corrective surgical procedures I needed, and emotional – from dad’s sudden death!) *ouch* And then, as if to put a fine point on it… adulthood has dealt a few harrowing blows too (major abdominal surgery in ’96 + a nasty divorce in 2000!) Consequently, I can completely relate to the rigid dichotomy between laughing so hard that my knees are buckling beneath me (and I’m trying not to wet myself)… and hurting so badly (you know, when it feels like your guts were ripped out) that my sense of humor goes bye-bye entirely. *harsh* But as much as I feel as though I’ve paid my dues in full to: “State of Human Existence, Department of Anguish”… apparently bona fide membership is up for renewal each and every time someone close to me is traversing along the via dolorosa segment of their own personal life journey and, because of emotional proximity, I am pelted by their venomous words or spiteful deeds. *yikes*

So now, here it is – only 2 ½ weeks since my most recent encounter with precisely such a tempestuous experience – which, in this case, was instigated by a troublemaking in-law (sometimes an in-law can be an “outlaw”!) *sheesh* And the daily ups-and-downs of my modern carousel-of-suburban-life are looking kind of funny once again (thank you very much!) Yes, I am perpetually grateful for the silly seasons of earthly habitation and being able to Laugh My A$$ Off with total abandon! Until the next fervent upheaval…

Have a fabulous week! I’ll be back here in a bit ☺


Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Head Noise Rocks

Hey! It sounds like the din of a fun party in here! *rowdy* And sometimes it sounds like the call of a whistling tea kettle… or the rhythmic song of a lively cricket serenade on a midsummer night! *wild* But wait… all of these various audio happenings are really nothing beyond the elaborate confines of my own head – ha! To say that having chronic tinnitus sucks is an understatement, for sure. There are plenty of times when I’m thinking, “I can’t stand this for one more second”…as I frantically search for the proverbial OFF button of a remedy. Yeah, probably most of the other 50 million people in the U.S. who have tinnitus don’t like it either! *bummer*

For me, it’s already been 20 years since receiving this daunting medical diagnosis… and at the time I was also told:

A) I most likely had it for quite some time before noticing it, and going in for tests.

B) It almost certainly was brought on by my attendance at rock concerts and/or listening to loud headphones as a teenager.

C) The sounds in my head are from my brain “making up” audible resonance as replacement for hearing loss caused by the aforesaid noisy activities.

D) White noise machines may be helpful at bedtime.

Now wait a sec… let me further elucidate these bullet points:

A) As a matter of fact, and now that I think back on it, there were a few times during childhood/adolescence when I remember hearing what I now consider to be “brain tunes” (especially during quiet times!)

B) Not possible. I totally did not have the means (or parental permission) to attend more than a couple concerts – they were outdoors – and my friends and I were waaay back on the lawn. Remember… I got married at 20, after one year of community college, and lived a quiet buttoned-down stay-at-home-mom life (no rambunctious college dorm mischief or university quad boisterous behavior in my life history!)

C) The M.D. specialist said this to me after the hearing test results showed only slight super-high-range loss. So then, according to him, my brain physiologically composes racket for me to listen to instead of the occasional dog whistle? I am not convinced! *ixnay*

D) Actually, I’d rather listen to my brain’s version of white noise (thank you very much!)

So as I figure it, there’s really no point in tormenting myself over the complete absence of silence in my life… I don’t need that aggravation! *chill out* Instead, I’ve decided to accept my super-hearing ability and at least acknowledge – if not enjoy – this most personal version of soul music. Apparently, my brain is tuned in (and hip to) the bona fide sounds of silence (nod to Simon & Garfunkel!)

Have a fabulous week! I’ll be back here in a bit ☺


Saturday, July 10, 2010

Another Successful Launch

Now it’s already been a week since we were in Cali… helping daughter-one settle into her new “career girl” digs! *meteoric* Our action-packed 3-night stay in San Marcos was very productive indeed (it helps to be organized too!) We literally drove from San Diego airport directly to a car dealership – bought her THE graduation gift of a lifetime (love that new car smell) – then went directly to the management office of a PERFECT apartment complex (just a few minutes commute to her all important: FIRST real job!) And true to form (after all she is an engineer) our very conscientious prodigy had phoned the moving company as soon as we landed, to arrange for her furniture to be taken out of local storage (where she had them move it to ahead of time) and delivered pronto! *girl wonder*

So… that left us with some sightseeing time… IMPRESSIONS! Pardon me while I catch my breath here *grins* but having lived my whole life (well, so far) in what is fondly referred to by Midwesterners in the U.S. as “Chicagoland” I am not used to feeling instantly comfortable while outdoors (we usually have to brace ourselves – or somehow “deal” with the weather) and as if year-round pleasant weather isn’t enough of an incentive to bivouac for a while… the surrounding scenery of SoCal is totally spectacular! *jaw-dropping* Although I innately feel like a prairie girl at heart… I certainly would have no problem living in such a beautiful place. You don’t have to be a psychic to know that there are a lot more visits to SoCal in my future! *happy as a clam*

Since it was my very first time there, we did a quick “sampler tour” – Balboa Park, Old Town, La Jolla, Gas Lamp Quarter, USS Midway, Seaport Village, Del Mar, Carlsbad – it’s all a great blur in my mind! *dazzling* Hubby and I even sauntered over to explore the California State University @San Marcos campus (our hotel was right next door!) Oh, and by the way, did you know that the Frye’s Electronic Store in San Marcos has ginormous aquariums inside? Quite amusing… and good-natured too! *pun* Yeah, once again we encountered some of the friendliest, and most helpful people along the way (good karma boomerang!)

Even when you’ve raised them right… and you know in your head, and believe in your heart that the time has come to let them go… saying goodbye to the young adult offspring – as he/or she takes on an independent life of their own is reeeaaaallly hard to do! *misty* Consequently, once out of sight… we took a moment (pulled to the side of the road)… on the road that was leading us to the airport… then back to our home (now a place that is close in her heart, yet far away) and let the bona fide fount of bittersweet emotion spill out. It only took a short moment for the burst of tears to empty the well of sadness… hence another successful launch (three down, one to go!) *beaming*

Have a fabulous week! I’ll be back here in a bit ☺


Monday, June 28, 2010

Go West Girl

Wow! Just three more days ‘til our first daughter (newly graduated from college) will be moving out to California… thus beginning her career in Agricultural Engineering… who’d of thunk it? *marvelous* Baby-girl-one and I met each other when she was five months old. Her dad (who is now my hubby) brought her into the office where he and I worked at the time – quite the proud papa – to present his precious little one to his staff for the appropriate utterances of our enthusiastic oohs and aahs! *sweet* And I got to hold her… a bona fine bundle of pure human potential… and baby powder fresh, to boot! *angelic* We saw each other on occasion during her childhood and early adolescence… then harmoniously bonded (at the speed of light) when her dad and I began dating halfway through her fourteenth year. From the perspective of a parental unit, days go by slowly while the years pass quickly when their kids are in high school… and then progress at warp speed after that. Hmmm!

Way back in time when I was a young girl, I had a yen for the west coast lifestyle, and spent lingering hours indulging in imaginary jaunts to Cali, serenaded by tunes of The Beachboys on my 9-volt battery operated transistor radio (well, whenever the Chicago radio station DJ would play them!) There was a ginormous flat rock showcasing the natural landscape at the end of our driveway… it was one of my fave outdoor settees (a la Flintstones) upon which I’d plunk myself on bright summer days… always facing west (better view of the proverbial pie in the sky!) *daydreamer* And guess what… so far I’ve only been to San Francisco… have flown over California several times en route to Hawaii though! *sheesh* To say that I’m excited that hubby and I will be escorting girl-one to San Diego would totally be an understatement – I’m stoked to the max! *giddy*

Now is the perfect time for us – proud non-helicopter parents – to help her get settled into a new apartment (translation: mom & daughter shopping spree) and acclimated to her new turf… Independence Day cometh, indeed! *autonomy* And our three night “mini-vacay” will culminate with a non-stop flight that is scheduled to arrive back in Chicago during prime July 4th fireworks display hour! *fantastic*

Sunrise… sunset… time sure has a funny way of speeding up and slowing down… in spite of the constant sweep of the clock’s second hand. And ya know what? I have a feeling that this week in Laurie Dean’s world will end with a sonic boom.

Have a fabulous week! Happy Birthday USA ☺


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

In Between Haircuts

When nobody’s looking my hair takes on a life of it’s own! *mischievous* Like a playful child who prances around and makes funny faces… the densely packed mane of coarse wavy locks which hang out on top of my head can get quite unruly at times! *wild* Especially when my monthly haircut appointment is postponed two weeks. *overgrown* And double especially when the weather is humid (channeling Medusa!) It’s like each and every strand is spring-loaded to coil into – in my case – wonky ringlets, as soon as they're activated by moisture. And speaking of moisture… one must remember to keep hands off my feral “pet” while she’s wet… to avoid the dreaded hot mess coif-of-frizzy-tresses! *kinky*

Now please don’t get me wrong, I really do love my hair… but most importantly, I understand it (intractableness and all!) And besides, having an understanding of things is the bona fide formula for peaceful living, right? Right! So here I am counting down the days (two remaining) until my next appointment at the salon… and paying close attention to carefully entice said mop of hair into some semblance of a fabulous daily ‘do (thank goodness for hair styling products!) But honestly, I’m having fun primping it up… motley trendiness rocks! *funky*

Speaking of having fun… I enjoy blogging AND I enjoy carefree spontaneity in the summertime… SO I may post more or less often for the next couple of months… depending on what we’re up to here! *laid-back*

Have a fabulous week! I’ll be back here sooner or later ☺


Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Funnel Cloud Cameo

For the longest time (at least three decades) I thought that I was the only one in my family to be plagued with a recurring dream in which a fierce tornado is about to hit down on me. *nightmare* That is until about twelve years ago, when my sis and I were on a cruise vacation… lying out on the ship’s sun deck… sipping tiny-parasol-garnished tropical libations… listening to live Caribbean steel drum music… with the clear blue sky stretched out around us in all directions across the calm sea (you get the picture!) Well, wouldn’t you know it… that’s when stormy memories of an incident, buried within our psyches since summer of 1966 (scared the bejesus out of both of us)… suddenly gushed out in a torrent of exclamations! *eureka* All it took was a mention of the fateful night of our childhood – when a nasty tornado had whipped mayhem near our hometown – effectively searing into our brains the chilling terror we felt in that dire moment… when Mom was in a panic to quickly usher all four of us kids AND our pets (after rousing us from sleep)… from our second floor bedrooms, then straightaway downstairs to the basement. Dad was already at work at his night job… high winds knocked out the electricity and telephone… we were all quite terrified out of our wits… well, except for my most mischievous bro who became transfixed at the kitchen window for a few mesmeric seconds… watching our doghouse get sucked skyward! *sheesh* By the way, no one was injured in the storm… but there sure was a huge mess to clean up outside in the yard… and several days passed before power was restored. *grueling*

As it so happened for sis and me, the totally stark contrast of our bright and blissful holiday surroundings which we were so thoroughly enjoying – juxtaposed with the frightful darkness of that bygone bona fide defining moment from our shared past – is what punctured said bubble of trapped memories. *bingo* Anyway, after comparing details of each others' dream sequences, it turns out that a rogue REM sleep funnel cloud haunts both of us – with cameo appearances in dreamland – on a regular basis. And truth be told, it’s oddly comforting to know that I’m not alone in this nocturnal ordeal! *empathy*

But fortunately, with the passing of time (over four decades and counting) the bad dream is losing its dreadful hold on my subconscious… and most recently has become quite cartoonish (popular G-rated animations are wickedly more intense!) Ha! So now I laugh, or go crazy… but laughing feels good so that’s what I do. *giggles*

Have a fabulous week! I’ll be back here by Wednesday ☺


Tuesday, June 1, 2010

A Dentist’s Concern

Daily crossword puzzles – a renewed obsession for me (started up again a few years ago) can be a real kick – or an exercise in destruction… depending on my mood! *grins* I especially look forward to Monday’s newspaper (easiest puzzle day) but sometimes even the simple straightforward clues read like a foreign language! *brain cramp* Ever since I discovered word puzzles (around the same age as my interest in playing hide and seek began to wane) my fave word puzzle has been the Jumble. It’s some kinda brainy fun to be able to “see” the correct word while looking at a jumble of letters… and a lot of the time it happens instantly! *zing*

Now there seems to be a direct correlation between my frame of mind and the tenor of the crossword puzzle writers… and consequently, their selected puzzle theme du jour… I tend to chaff when I feel like I’m being messed with! *sassy* You know how some crossword-toiling people will ask bystanders for help sometimes… when a clue is particularly obscure (or twisted)? Well, I am not one of those people. There resides within my spirit a narrow, but healthy, stubborn streak (Taurus) that keeps me riveted… nose to the grindstone… unable to put down the pen (no erasable writing utensil for this brave puzzle solver)… hence begins the ruination! *spunky* I just start writing in words because they fit in the allotted number of squares, even though they’re “not exactly” the answers that the puzzle writers had in mind! *giggles* It then becomes an evolving puzzle… veering further and further from the originally intended theme with every alternative answer I provide. How innovative… or not. Ha!

So here I am, filling in the answers to the hardest crossword puzzle of the week – from Sunday’s paper – and progressing with great accuracy (it happens on occasion)… no need to play around with goofy word substitutions… I’m on a roll! *whee* Then there’s this innocuous clue for a word needed to fill four itty-bitty squares: a Dentist’s concern. Hmmm… You may think the answer to any clue involving dentistry would literally write itself in this household… considering the fact that I worked as a Dental Assistant for 15 years… and… drum roll… hubby is the real deal… a bona fide Doctor of Dental Surgery. But you would be wrong. *sniff* For no apparent reason my gray matter suddenly goes completely dark here – as in black hole consistency – where the clue goes in, but nothing comes back out. And it’s not just me this time. Neither of us can get the answer right away (yes, I did ask for help this time) although in fairness, he didn't even look at the puzzle... just tossed out a wild guess! I decide to cogitate about this clue overnight (notice I didn’t say “sleep on it” since I’ve been quite the insomniac of late) and guess what? It dawned on me! *pun* A fundamental aspect of my dentition that the dentist is concerned with while I’m reclining back in the dental chair… mouth open wide… teeth presenting dutifully for their prophylactics… is one particularly edgy four-letter word: bite. *pun again*

Have a fabulous week! I’ll be back here by Wednesday ☺


Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Grateful For Panties

Here’s a daring way for the fabulous host and hostess (rockin’ a chic above-the-knee JCrew shift dress) to amuse their guests at an afternoon cocktail party: While dancing a peppy “spotlight dance” (as in, no one else is dancing so all eyes are on you) in front of the live band… throw caution to the wind… kick up your heels, in true Swing dance style, and do a Hip Jump Spin step! *risqué*

Hubby and I raised the roof at our Gratitude Party on Saturday when we nailed said dance move… thus revealing a flash of my pink-panty-clad buns! *blushing* I’m grateful that my lingerie choice du jour wasn’t too bootylicious (Victoria Secret spandex boy shorts – instead of a lace thong, thank you very much!) This maneuver was a totally impromptu part of the party… in fact we weren’t even planning on dancing during this most exuberant bash (had envisioned ourselves performing hosting duties more, messing around less) but our friendly entertainers extraordinaire, Brock And Abrams, are too good to resist… spontaneous dancing happens sometimes! *boogie-woogie*

You know that a party is a bona fide success when the guests AND hosts are having a blast… I totally appreciate the huge amount of service provided by our caterers… our day went perfectly well because of them – thank you Pad Thai Restaurant! *bravo* And I’m grateful for the party food leftovers too… a delicious hostess bonus prize indeed (it’s like having a personal chef at home!) I can hardly wait until our next party… which by the way, is nowhere on the radar! *just sayin’* Actually, one of the most asked questions from our guests was, “When will you do this again?” That and some variation of, “Why hadn’t they, as guests, arrived promptly at the designated start time (instead of fashionably late)… in order to relish the fete in its entirety?” *rhetorical* In fact, so many guests had signed up to see Pawel (Gross, LMT) for their ten minutes of chair massage, that he couldn’t get to everyone on the list by the time the party ended. But honestly, some of the names were repeats – you know who you are! *giggles* Thanks a million, Pawel. From one massage therapist to another… I can certainly identify with the high level of commitment, professionalism, and energetic focus it takes to remain fully present to provide three consecutive hours of seated chair massages on new clients… and it was your birthday, to boot! *much obliged*

Now at the risk of having this blog post sound like an award acceptance speech… I need to say thank you to Gina and Deborah (wonderful daughters) for helping out at the party too… scads of guests have commented on how incredible you are… as if we don’t already know! *so proud* I believe that like attracts like in this world and I’m grateful to the max for my brilliant family, and all of the positive energy and good will that surrounds us… the more I say thank you, the more I have to be thankful for! *truism*

Have a fabulous week! I’ll be back here Monday (or Tuesday)


Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Without A Hitch

A bar of deodorant soap may not be the best shampoo product… but it works in a pinch! *quick fix* And when mistakenly packing two conditioners (but no shampoo) is the only snag in a jam-packed weekend of long interstate car rides, college graduation ceremonies, a reception, a luncheon, a dessert after-party, having dinner with the grandkids at their family’s new house (in another state) and getting back home safely through drizzly weather by 11 p.m. Sunday night… then all in all it was a breeze! *breath*

It’s so cool whenever all the travel plans pan out exactly as planned… especially with connecting flights to catch (eldest son from NYC) and highway road construction thrown into the mix (son driving from IN to IL arrived in town exactly on time!) *hunky-dory* You know how the best stories involve some sort of conflict or suspense? Well, sorry. None of that here today… everything is good! *splendiferous* So I have an idea… instead of me writing a boring buzz… why don’t we all go over to my Facebook profile and take a look at the photos there… Graduation Weekend 2010 goes down in the book of my life as a bona fide rendezvous of my nearest and dearest. In spite of the gray weather, a sunny disposition prevails among our family… and good vibrations are happening! *cloud nine*

Have a fabulous week! I’ll be back here Monday (or Tuesday)


Monday, May 10, 2010

Party Planner Extraordinaire

P minus 12 days and counting… now is when all the details start to congeal…"To Do" lists rock! *giddy* The very first inkling of hubby’s intention to throw a Gratitude Party, and invite our most esteemed friends and associates, began to spark six months ago… while we were enjoying a night out clubbing… dancing to our fave rock stars at a local venue! *woohoo* We always have so much fun jiving to their wide-ranging song list (and they’re decent guys, to boot!) The proverbial idea light bulb went on… or was it the glow of two chocolate martinis on an empty stomach? *quizzical* Anyway, it was clear that Brock And Abrams can totally get a party started – and we’ve got them booked! *yes*

When it comes to party food, our first choice caterer is the local Pad Thai Restaurant (any excuse to partake of their yummy comestibles!) And they provide a certified mixologist too… along with high-top tables (fresh floral centerpieces and linen napkins included) chairs, stools… you name it, they’re on it. It’s a pleasure doing business with such friendly and earnest people! *gleeful* Nothing but the best for our party… and we’re definitely 24-7 grateful that we have the means to do this. *golden*

Speaking of the best… chair massages for our guests will be given by: Pawel Gross, LMT – Wheaton’s best male massage therapist (best female LMT – moi, of course!) But I’ll be off work that day… well, except for the job as supreme hostess of the best bash in town! *giggles* Everything is set for us all to have a bona fide gala of the most appreciative kind! *pun* Doesn’t it sound like a fabulous party plan? Absolutely! And I know that it will turn out as such… because that’s what Dean and I do… together we manifest our dreams into reality (hence my pen name: Laurie Dean!)

And guess what, as if being in the throes of final party preparations isn’t enough to leave zero time for thumb twiddling… we’ll be away this weekend to attend two graduations at University of Illinois (which is a 2 ½ hour drive each way, thank you very much!) On Saturday, son number one is slated as the keynote convocation speaker for his alma mater college (graduated a decade ago – he’s old! *snicker*) so we'll be there to hear his speech… followed up by the commencement ceremony of daughter number one on Sunday afternoon (Agricultural Engineering, with high honors)... thus leaving us with a U of I graduation lull 'til 2012 (for daughter number two!) *breather* Oh wait, there’s more… in between the time slots of these two functions, we’ll all pile into hubby’s van (that will be cozy) and take a road trip (2 hours each way) over to Indiana for a whirlwind visit with son number two (USAF Staff Sergeant) and his family (hello cute grandsons) to see their new house for the first time! *whew* We do know how to keep things rolling along… going with the flow here.

Have a fabulous week! I’ll be back here Monday (or Tuesday)


Tuesday, May 4, 2010

See-through Nights

Now I can add insomnia to my list of hobbies! *sigh* Hey, I may as well spin it in a positive light, right? Right! (If you’ll forgive the pun.) Sleep used to be my friend. What happened? Was it something I said? Aside: I do say stuff, so that is a possibility! *giggles* Just because all the other grrrls my age are doing it, doesn’t mean my body has to follow suit (quite the punster today!) *grins* Now I’m picturing myself admonishing my self (wagging a petite finger)… “If they all jumped off a bridge, would you do it too?” Well actually, after 18 months of sleep deprivation (lots of time to count things during the night) I just might join the party-in-the-offing (can you stand another pun?) But seriously, how’s a modern lady supposed to stay fabulous when her hormonal self keeps her awake most nights? *lamenting* And no, don’t bother offering me sleeping pills or HRT… I’m the naturopathic sort… in search of an organic magic bullet (wish me luck!) It’s totally cool with me if you want to share a fav time-honored panacea… to help out the sisterhood, as it were… just post your comment below.

Meanwhile, I keep my mind amused in the wee hours while hubby catches some Zs (it is a comfort just knowing that it still is humanly possible for a body to have a good night’s sleep – even if it’s not my own!) Out of habit – and laziness (hey, it’s the middle of the night, after all) – I stay in our bed, rather than trundle off to another room. So here I am, lying in the dark pretending not to care about all of the so-called relevant issues (real or imagined) that my brain submits for consideration as a possible subject of neurosis. *ruminating* And it’s really kinda fascinating to stare at darkness for a while… for one thing, that’s when eyeball floaters are invisible (yes!)… another phenomenon to note: at certain angles some objects seem to disappear (one of the blades on our wooden ceiling fan, for example!) One other mesmerizing visual is the appearance of colors within the darkness – joking aside – it’s hypnotic, and dare I say… a bona fide sleep-inducer.

Have a fabulous week! I’ll be back here Monday (or Tuesday)


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Marquee of Tivoli

Sometimes I feel like I’m sitting in a time warp! *sci-fi* And it usually happens while I’m inside an old familiar building… where memory engrams from my first life (AKA childhood/adolescence) are hanging around like so many framed lithographs in a gallery display…. invisible to everyone else, yet poised for my private viewing. *wistful*

And wouldn’t you know it, the Tivoli Theatre in Downers Grove, IL (where hubby and I attended a choral concert Sunday afternoon) is just one of those places. Here is a magnificent venue that was built in 1928 – to show “talkies” – and it was one of the first theatres in the country to do it! Yeah, it’s been rehabbed and restored several times… still maintains the charming French Renaissance style… and operates with state-of-the-art technical operations for sound acoustics, stage lighting, digital 3D for top-rate movie shows… and even high-tech hand dryers in the restrooms! *fancy-shmancy*

My first boyfriend and I (teens without wheels) used to walk the two miles from my family’s house… following alongside the Burlington Northern Railroad tracks… to the Tivoli (quite the matinee movie buffs of yore!) Can’t tell you how many movies we ended up seeing over the course of our year or so of “going steady” – until his dad got transferred (to Honolulu, thank you very much!) Anyway, I had a lot of fun and by the way, “Hawaii BFF” and I are still friends! *awww* But what I didn’t realize… until going back there recently… was just how crystal clear those very old memories would reappear… regaling my cognizance with an exclusive show (Laurie’s World!) And what totally cues the virtual reruns with the most clarity is the distinctive smell combination of freshly popped movie popcorn and “eau de historic building” – a direct hit to my brain’s limbic system (that’s the part concerned with instinct and mood) – the sense of smell is powerful indeed! *reminisce*

So here we sit, in the theatre, being thoroughly entertained by fantastic musicians who are (unbeknownst to them) creating new bona fide memories for hubby and me. Life is kind of like a stage, I guess, and we’re all performing our hearts out… well, when we’re not entertaining little sideshows in our heads!

Have a fabulous week! I’ll be back here Monday (or Tuesday)


Monday, April 19, 2010

My Earth Birthday

So here I am about to complete 53 revolutions around the sun (four days ‘til my birthday!) And I must say it feels like I’ve already lived two lives since 1957! *dynamic* Let’s count age 0 to 20 (when I first got married) as my first life, and then the 24 years of marriage (to the wrong man, hence the divorce) and raising two sons as my second life… which brings us to my third life – a fabulous one, thank you very much – presently manifesting as we speak… or… type... or… virtualize… as the case me be! *cosmic*

My childhood was filled with tons of innocent, old-fashioned fun – my sibs and I played outside a lot (no electronic gizmos beyond corded phones, radios, simple stereo turntables, 8-tracks, and UHF/VHF TVs had been invented yet!) Are corded phones even considered electronic devices? Anyway, the reason it feels like a separate life is because of my physical circumstance at birth, and the subsequent situations I encountered along the way. You know how it is with us humans – we don’t really start to become conscious of the details of our personal appearance until a few years into having established Earthling status on the planet. *evolving* But we certainly can get an idea of how others are perceiving us way before we place importance on “rockin’ a look” in the mirror now and then. And so it was with me… as a little girl… going into the city with my grandmother—who was always primped and polished (like classy women in the black & white movies from the ‘50s)… we’d be holding hands, walking along a crowded sidewalk (me making eye contact at the level of women’s dress hems and knee-level of men’s trousers!) and then we would enter – fill-in-the-blank – store, or office building. Now, the thing is, whenever I was with my grandmother (we called her Nonni) I felt good about myself—Nonni and I always looked our best whenever we went downtown Chicago together! So I didn’t understand (nor did I like it) when a grown-up would peer down at me and bellow something like, “Hey kid, where’d ya get that fat lip? Someone punch you in the face?” *ouch* No. No one ever punched me in the face. At such a tender age, I had no idea why someone would hurt my feelings for no apparent reason. Nonni was on it every time (yeah, it happened more than once – ignorant people are everywhere)… she would instantly and effectively put the rude jerk in his place. *champion*

Now you’re probably wondering what congenital defect I was born with, so I’ll tell you (no mysteries here)… but not yet. First, let me present my Italian-American ancestry… in a nutshell! *apt* I promise you this will be very brief, so don’t blink: My family tree is huge – I’ve got umpteen aunts and uncles, and dozens of cousins – lineage from two separate regions of Italy: Tuscany and Calabria (no inbreeding)… and out of the whole kinship group I’m the only one to have been born with a cleft lip! *special* Specifically, left unilateral cleft lip, to be anatomically correct. Oh, and to clarify, neither of my sons… or grandson were born with it. Oral-facial clefts are one of the most common major birth defects… and are totally treatable! *thankfully* But most of the time the cause is not known. In my case, I’m going with: harmful side-effect of prescription meds during the first two months of my “womb & bored” (no EPTs back then!) Although my mom stopped the meds as soon as she found out she was pregnant, apparently it was too late. *oh, well*

It’s next to impossible for a newborn with cleft lip to suckle well enough to thrive, so extra care and attention is necessary (and extra money, too) to nurture said infant until he/or she weighs enough to safely undergo corrective surgery. Fortunately for me, my dad’s medical insurance covered the corrective surgeries (five in total) that were required to repair the initial cleft when I was a baby, and then continue to reconstruct at intervals as I grew (scar tissue would form – causing a fat lip!) Each surgery was done as in-patient under general anesthesia (serious stuff) and the hospitals had strict visitation rules… my parents weren’t even allowed to stay with me! *scary* I soldiered on beyond my fears (snuck in a transistor radio and hid it under my pillow!) And by the time of my last surgery (Spring break during sophomore year of H.S.) I had my first boyfriend… and he would visit me in the hospital. *sweet* You see, the only people who were ever rude to me were adults of yesteryear. *bullies* Not one family member, or any of my peers made any derogatory remarks – they totally see and accept me as a whole person – we relate as inner beings too. *happily*

One of the best organizations on the planet that help children born with cleft lip… and make this world of ours a better place, is Operation Smile. Here’s a link to their website that you can copy/paste into your search browser where my book, Baron Thinks Dogs Are People Too! is available for purchase as part of an ongoing online fundraiser to support this bona fide worthy cause. It is a place where your spending power can help to literally put a smile on the face of another human being... and probably your own, too!

Have a fabulous week! I’ll be back here Monday ☺


Monday, April 12, 2010

Dance Floor Shenanigans

Here’s a secret nobody told us when we first signed up for ballroom dance lessons: the elegant look of debonair dancers whispering romantic sweet nothings to their pretty partners is an illusion! *gasp* Who knew? In actuality, they’re giving verbal leads… talking shop, as it were. Nothing romantic about that! *oh man* But anyway, it’s still a lot of fun to be lead around the dance floor by my fav man on the planet – hubby, of course! We started lessons together three years ago (each of us had lessons separately in the past) and quickly progressed up to the advanced level… having a ball too! *pun* The various styles of ballroom dances like Waltz, Fox Trot, Tango, Swing, Cha Cha, and a bunch more, are enjoyable to learn when the focus is on having fun. And you know me – gotta have fun, or I’m not doing it! *zeal*

And wouldn’t you know, just when we got to feeling really good about ourselves on the dance floor… and had become used to the same instructors… they retired from teaching! *d’oh* But then something truly amazing happened (yes, this word amazing is ubiquitous now!) The former teachers recommended us to be their replacements… and voila! You are now reading the musings of Laurie Dean, Ballroom Dance Instructor… yes, in addition to published children’s author, and licensed massage therapist (remember – kids are all grown up and out of the house!) Hey, it’s my turn to balance various career endeavors like a superstar… and doing quite well, if I do say so myself! *attagirl*

Now don’t get me wrong here – we’re not into the competitive dance circuit training – our motto is: Practice makes better. *reasonable* And we feel kind of like recruiters for the genre of Ballroom Dance… teaching what we know to beginners who’ve just moseyed into our class from the cozy confines of their couch. *newbies* Our current class consists of 15 couples (up from 12 couples in our debut session three months ago!) To say that I’m having a blast would be an understatement – it’s bona fide enjoyment – the enthusiasm of our students is quite contagious (they are so thrilled to be learning a new skill!) And now hubby and I are having even more fun whenever we go out social dancing with all of our friends… sometimes eschewing traditional ballroom etiquette, in favor of “accidentally” blocking another couple if they’re cutting corners while traveling around the dance floor… or razzing each other if we mess up a step or two! *grins* It’s this kind of high-spirited behavior that makes us happy hoofers, indeed.

Have a fabulous week! I’ll be back here Monday ☺


Monday, April 5, 2010

Online Shopper Climax

Just so you know – in the world of Laurie Dean – wardrobe is a verb! *nods* Some people can go into a fitting room, try on their selections, and be out lickety-split… I am not one of those people. *grins* Don’t get me wrong here… I can be decisive for sure… it’s just that my mind likes to see the big picture of possibilities. You know, like how this new – fill in the blank item of fashion interest – will go with what I already have (which, in total, fills a good size closet, thank you very much!) This high level of precision mental imagery and deliberation takes time… but it’s so much fun! *passion* And ever since I’ve gotten used to internet shopping (secure online checkout systems rock!) it’s even more delightful.

There are tons of retail websites to browse among (a world-wide mall) and most of them will save my selections in a virtual shopping bag… while I shop around... at a myriad of my fav online stores. Often times this leisure activity is enjoyed over the course of several days (gotta get work done too!) Ya know what’s really cool? Some sites have a virtual Laurie Dean mannequin that can “try on” clothes as I choose. Yes! So, I take my sweet time looking at each item… on zoom… in rotation… front… back… and in different colors too. This gives me an instant idea of how my cyberspace duds may look in person… but of course, cannot exactly replace the thrill of actually “wardrobing” right here… where my entire house becomes a giant fitting room, with scads of accessories to mix and match, various sources of both indoor and natural light, and mirrors galore for seeing all the cute angles! Oh, the amusement of prancing and posing along my own personal catwalk (2nd floor hallway, overlooking foyer) – it’s bona fide recreation, plain and simple. *giggles* And my “playing schedule”, if you will, conveniently coincides with the changing seasons. Out with the old, well-worn, passé pieces (off to donate at a local charity) and in with some terrific new threads! *yippee*

Now my mind is made up… online order has been processed… and the anticipation of receiving my retail delivery is heightened with the ever-popular Package Tracking email notification message. It’s so exciting to know where my package is on a given day… cleared U.S. customs… getting closer… out for delivery (even hubby likes to track things he orders online!) This system is the best invention since mass produced chocolate bars, right? Right! Hmmm… usually UPS is on our street by now. *sigh* Speaking of chocolate, must self-medicate – a couple squares of Godiva dark to ease the pang of desire – until aha! The doorbell! At last!

Have a fabulous week! I’ll be back here Monday ☺


Monday, March 29, 2010

My Body Minds

One of the best feelings ever on this planet is to be blissed-out on a massage table… having reached a state of perfect happiness within my body… completely oblivious of everything else. *ahhh* And ya know what – it’s at this time of complete mind-body balance that I feel weightless too! *whee* It’s like my essential self is floating inside the human vessel of earthbound physical matter, that is Laurie Dean personified. And I become aware that the infinite expanse of universal energy, which unites all life, is really my inner being – connected to outer space (totally liberating sensation!) It’s the coolest thing, and starts from the moment my massage therapist makes physical contact… thus completing a somatic circuit, I guess, yet allowing a sense of having a boundless spirit. *astronomical*

No matter how tense and stressed out I am prior to a massage, this whole Zen thing happens with great regularity (every time, thank you very much!) *endorphins* But actually, it did take me a while to learn how to turn my brain off, and focus my awareness deeply inward. Get this: for the very first massage I received – a 30-minute Swedish style, when I was 30 years old – I kept my eyes open during the entire session! *sheesh* This central nervous system organ, AKA brain, sure does think highly of itself. *pun* And tends to launch “think attacks” at the most unsuitable moments… like late at night, or while driving, or – hello! – on the massage table. *futile* Here’s how it works: my body receives signals via the nervous system, regarding actions that my brain associates with the thoughts that it’s cogitating on… and being the good body that she is… minds the messages her smarty brain is sending… and voila, tension builds up in all of the muscles which are prepped for action – but really have nothing to do (massage time, remember!)

Anyway, now my body minds the therapeutic touch of massage too, and totally relaxes whenever that contact is made. As the recipient, I become free from the internal grip of muscular tension, and my soul soars, while my tranquil body remains still tethered by the physical connection of my massage therapist. As the giver of massage (Licensed & Nationally Certified) I remain free from emotional attachment to my clients, while facilitating the flow of universal energy through the conduit of human contact. *serenity* This bona fide interaction between the dimensions of mind/body/spirit/behavior can be dynamic, profound, and subtle… all at once! *awesome* And inspires me to share this poem, which I wrote in 2002, for a friend who was experiencing heartache (he’s all better now!)

Always I Am

I am
The summer prairie.
Blue sky of
Colorful flowers, prairie grasses,
Of space, time,
And always changing, yet
Ever present
Around you.
in my soft meadow
With me,
Roots seeping
Deeply homeward.”
Embrace from within
Yours, mine.
Hands hold the
With pulsing force
Molten core that is your
Self –
Preciously kept treasure of

Have a fabulous week… I’ll be back here Monday ☺


Monday, March 22, 2010

Small Town Vibe

You can rush the logistics of a High School reunion out on the Web, but you can’t rush the High School reunion spirit. *matter of fact* Especially this “All Years” reunion sponsored by my High School Alumni Association… graduates from 49 years of classes (1958-2007) were invited to the weekend-long event that kicked off with a Sock Hop on Friday night. *pun* It was held in the old Jr. High gymnasium, and of course we went… lots of golden oldies to Swing dance and Hustle to… but what is most interesting to me is how I felt about being back inside that little old gym. In 7th and 8th grade I was focused on schoolwork and trying to figure out the whole social thing (though it really wasn’t much of a scene)… combined with learning how to cope with having a locker, a different classroom/teacher for each subject, changing into a gym suit, and taking a shower with all the other girls in my P.E. class (it was mandatory!) Those were the good old days? *sigh* On the bright side, here’s the place where I first learned how to dance with a partner – at the Monday evening “Fortnight” dance classes (not always with the boy of my dreams, but he didn’t know I was crushing on him anyway!) It’s where sweaty palms were abundant – however back then no one I knew was a germaphobe yet – and the entire room reeked of preadolescent spirit (nod to Kurt Cobain, RIP).

The gaggle now is much more subdued – more sitting around, less tripping the light fantastic – except for hubby and me, of course… and one peppy alumna donning a vintage pink poodle skirt, complete with a ribbon-adorned high ponytail (a la Happy Days!) I know, I know, a reunion is for re-uniting with old friends… conversely, since I already keep connected with my long-time BFFs from Class of ‘75 (thank you dear Internet) we danced to at least a dozen songs and still got plenty of mingling in (even made new friends from classes of the ‘60’s and ‘80’s!) *grins* It sure does feel good to have so much fun in my old Jr. High… finally! *ha ha*

Then on to the Saturday night main event reunion dance at the local Hilton hotel (yes, it’s a small town, yet trendy enough to have a Hilton!) The set-up was awesome – all of the convention rooms were ours… a room for each decade… complete with open bar… a DJ in one… live band and dance floor in another… happy people circulating everywhere… and a ginormous hors d’oeuvre buffet for noshing the night away! *giggles* We arrived fashionably late, and as it turned out, just in time for me to find my way to the photo shoot (even a short corridor takes a long time to traverse when chatting with every 2nd or 3rd person out of about 1,000!) It’s so fun to see someone that I haven’t seen in person in a decade (last time I attended) and instantly recognize them. The years have indeed left their traces… what I like is how each person’s essence still shines through the same as ever! *sweet*

As a baby boomer (from a big family, to boot) I went to High School with umpteen classmates who also come from large families… resulting in this event having the semblance of being a patchwork of mini family reunions. *quaint* At one point (after I made my way from the ‘70s room… down the hall to the ladies room and back) a very familiar face appeared at our table… it was one of my younger cousins, whom I haven’t seen in years. He had seen me from across the jam-packed lobby, and suddenly realized there was a whole other set of relatives he hadn’t visited with yet (so we quickly got up to speed!) *folksy* Though class of ‘75 turnout was small – we represented! *rah* Everyone at our table was out on the dance floor raising the roof at some point during the evening! Being on a crowded dance floor, surrounded by old and new friends – all with a significant chunk of common personal history – is fantastic… and for me it’s a bona fide connection to my former self.

Have a fabulous week – I’ll be back here next Monday ☺


Monday, March 15, 2010

Pearls Of Parenthood

The best part of raising kids is that ours are grown up now… and everyone made it out alive! *gotcha* In spite of the times when I considered drastic measures (halfheartedly) during especially hectic situations… I didn’t off myself, rip out my hair, or ambush the annoying family on the block (who seem oblivious to their extremely high annoyance factor!) *whew*

Now having arrived (finally!) at this realm of empty nest nirvana, we do leave our newly established Eden whenever possible to attend awards events in which our young adults are honored, and we accept all the kudos that is bestowed – this is the icing on our cake, and the jewels in our crowns! *beaming* Completing the proverbial “circle of life” by developing bona fide friendships with our maturing offspring inspires feelings of wonder and delight – it’s marvelous!

This past couple of weeks has been jam-packed with family news and events:

Son number one is up for promotion from his current position as Manager of the President’s House at Columbia University in New York City. Here is an ambitious, high-achiever who, at the age of 12, completely planned our family’s summer vacation to Ocean City, MD, all by himself – and it all went off without a hitch (boogie board rentals included!) I once peeked into his 1st grade classroom (while cradling toddler son number two on my hip) to observe him so engrossed in his assignment, that he was standing up at his desk and hadn’t even taken off his jacket yet (he’s the kid who hit the ground running!)

His brother excels in the United States Air Force. He has already served a four-year enlistment, which includes a one-year tour of duty in South Korea, deployment to Iraq, and two years on the Viper West Demo Team. Ten days ago he graduated from Recruiter Training School (top graduate in his class!) He and his wife are in the process of becoming homeowners for the first time, and their family will move to Indiana next month (that’s right, our young grandsons will soon be living in a neighboring state instead of several states away!) This dedicated young man is a brave soul with a very nurturing spirit. When he was eighteen, renting a house with friends, and working two jobs (determined to make it on his own) he found two abandoned newborn kittens. Even though he was barely making ends meet for himself, he raised the kittens – first by feeding them with droppers – and still has them today! The baby book of names, that I referred to when he was born, states that his name means safe and secure. *nods*

We’ve got a college graduation to attend in two months for daughter number one – a most studious, hard-working, and motivated young woman indeed! She’s already been hired by John Deere Company, and will be moving to California after receiving her degree with high honors in Agricultural Engineering from University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana (alma mater of her dad and oldest stepbrother!) And here is an experienced world traveler too… in one year she visited five continents (without mommy and daddy!) *spunky* As of Saturday, she is now a Lady of the Knights of St. Patrick… the formal ceremony was interesting and fun (we danced to live entertainment after dinner!) She has a heart of gold, and a large amount of determination… one of our favorite childhood memories is of her as a preschooler… running across the room, and after colliding with her cousin (same age) kept on going with nary a hesitation in her stride! *moxie*

The busy life of our youngest brings her back from college to our house each time she needs a place to stay prior to an important job interview in Chicago… of which she has many. She’ll have enough credits to graduate from U of I Business College after only 2 ½ years (as a James Scholar to boot!) This dynamic young lady already has internship offers from prestigious companies – and is also an experienced world traveler – her charisma is boundless, and she has a clear sense of self-awareness. In fact, the title of my children’s book, Baron Thinks Dogs Are People Too! was inspired, in part, from a remark she made while we were outside playing Frisbee in the backyard (she was 12 at the time!) Dad, big sister, and I were tossing and catching the Frisbee to one another with great accuracy… then she decided to join in the game and shouted out, “Hey, I’m a person too!” *feisty*

Moment by moment, year after year, we were present with our kids… feeding, watering, bathing, rocking, playing, teaching/learning, working, and raising beautiful people. They are human pearls shaped by our unconditional love and now each one lives as a beneficial presence in the world.

Have a fabulous week – I’ll be back here next Monday ☺


Monday, March 1, 2010

Grandma & Grandpa

Who’d of thought that being a grandma would energize me? *rolls eyes* The thing about becoming a grandparent is that I had no control over when (or if) it would happen – a stark contrast to my well planned out and prepared for parenthood (even had baby names picked out before my sons were born!)

So there we were: hubby, his two teenage daughters, and me… settling into our new home/neighborhood/school together… when son number two announces his wedding engagement and subsequent plan to adopt his bride’s two year old son from a previous relationship! *whoa* Weren’t we busy enough already? Um, that would be a yes! *grins* But since my ultimate parenting goal was to raise independent, law abiding citizens, who are productive members of society (and in this case – mission accomplished) what could I say? Wait a sec… you know me, I say stuff… I mean what could I do? If I had my druthers, becoming a mother-in-law/adoptive-grandma would have been scheduled in somewhere between our daughters’ graduations from high school and college… or when I felt more used to wearing so many hats… whichever came first!

Anyway, exactly one month to the day from closing on our house, we were attending the civil wedding ceremony that initiated our grandparenthood. And what an endearing rite it was – complete with the most adorable two-year old towheaded boy! We had previously met our new soon-to-be progeny, and it was love at first sight from the moment we peered into one another’s crystal blue eyes… an amazing and energizing bond was established… just in time for the newly married groom to leave for USAF Basic Training two weeks later!

Okay. Good thing their apartment, our house, and her mother’s condo were all in close proximity… because the official orders for my son to report for a one-year tour of duty in South Korea came before their first Christmas together as a family… but after their positive EPT result! Yes, my first biological grandson was on his way, and I was totally stoked. Still am. When I held him just hours after he was born, I felt an incredible sense of cosmic maternal legacy and spiritual energy streaming through me. Being a grandparent is the coolest feeling… all the joy, none of the direct responsibility! *happy dance*

The hardest part is living far apart, and not being able to spend time together. After Korea, there was deployment in Iraq, and then they were transferred to a base several states away. Of course modern technology helps (thank you Skype!) But whenever we get the opportunity to be present with the boys, that is exactly what we do – we totally focus our attention on bona fide interactions with them. Yeah, keeping up – they’re now ages 8 and 4½ is exhausting, but the funny thing is that we don’t feel it until after our times together (hello delayed onset muscle soreness!) *giggles*

And now after having re-upped for five more years, our son and his family will be transferred to a neighboring state. Next week we’ll be babysitting our grandsons, while their parents go out house hunting (can hardly wait!) I’ll be back here in two weeks on Monday.

Have a fabulous two weeks ☺


Monday, February 22, 2010

Quite The Hottie

This post is rated Blogoshpere Mature Audiences

Having a smokin’ hot body takes on new meaning at my age! *fanning* We’ve all heard of hot flashes, right? Right. And some of us have heard the old saying, “Horses sweat, men perspire, women glow.” – referring to when they’re hot. Well if that’s the case, then sometimes my glow may be blinding! I’m not complaining (who’d listen?) Just sayin’…

As a young at heart type of person, my tendency is to gravitate toward the lighter side of life… and finesse charmed outcomes when confronted with onerous situations (I’ve had a few!) It’s fun to flip a topic over in my mind, from tragic to at least tolerable. When something is hard for me to deal with, I break it down into passable bits that I can handle on all levels (you know – mind/body connection) so I can then “get a grip!” *grins* Now this change of life occurrence has presented a riveting force of nature.

Just a couple months after our fourth and final teenager left for college (thus emptying the nest -- hello naked Fridays!) the proverbial biological clock of womanhood struck menopause in my world, and hormones began to erupt every hour (I’m picturing hot lava!) *whoa* That was 15 months ago. Hubby and I are happy, healthy productive members of society, with good careers and fun hobbies. My debut children’s book came out that same month… the momentum of our well-balanced life smoothly streams along… everything’s cool (except for my body!) *sizzle* I’m grateful for a cold winter, so I can step outside for an instant remedy! Nudist camps are starting to appeal to me. *kidding* Meditation helps.

Distance running is a form of meditation for me, and has served me well for 25 years. That’s right, for one quarter of a century I ran an average of 30 miles per week… outdoors… in northern Illinois… season after season (consecutively!) No, I’m not a marathoner – no desire or sense of competitiveness, just hooked on the daily dose of endorphins (love the analgesic effects!) And it provides lots of time to ponder. Thought bubbles float across the horizon of my mind… ways to cope with current conditions. But the thing is, having a hot flash – I call them power surges (because I feel like ripping my clothes off in true Super Hero spirit!) every hour, around the clock (for over a year, thank you very much!) uses up a lot of energy… it’s like I morph into a 5’3” personal steam room. *whew* My nights consist of a series of naps between days… oh yes, interrupted sleep… like when the kids were babies. I’m so glad to be self-employed (no super early appointments in my scheduler!) and glad that my massage clients feel extra comfort whenever my hands are particularly toasty! *ahhh* So alas, I’ve rounded out my workouts with less running and more other cardio/weights as daily energy levels permit… it feels good. And have taken to carrying a tissue or folded up paper towel (super absorbent brand!) for blotting the “condensation” (remember women glow, men perspire!) *giggles* I can totally make it over this speed bump of life – it’s a natural process, after all… and I’m a bona fide natural woman, albeit smokin’ hot.

So if you’re feeling cold… cozy up here for a hug during one of my hourly power surges… just bring a tissue or something to blot with… and I’ll try not to doze off on your shoulder!

Have a fabulous week... I’ll be back here next Monday ☺


Monday, February 15, 2010

Mardi Gras Spirit

Talk about preconceived notions…

I used to think that visiting New Orleans during Mardi Gras would be spooky and creepy (I pictured dark streets being taken over by packs of drunken miscreants!) *buzzer* Wrong impression.

I had become stuck on one particular cruise line (far superior than all the others – in my mind!) *buzzer* Wrong assumption.

I felt uncomfortable with the idea of combining business with pleasure – as in taking hubby’s two clinical assistants with us on a seminar cruise – even though we all had either continuing education or management classes to take while on board the ship (wanted to keep clear interpersonal boundaries, you know!) *buzzer* Wrong again!

Well, that’s three strikes for me! I’m out. No, wait a minute. *grins* Let me explain…

Last week on Sunday (as in Super Bowl XLIV, thank you very much!) we set sail for a 7-night business cruise on the Norwegian Spirit from New Orleans to Costa Maya, Guatemala, Belize, and Cozumel. Everything down to the smallest detail went off without a hitch *happy dance* and there were good vibes everywhere we went… all week long (better than I could imagine!) To begin with, since we and our luggage, arrived on the ship promptly, there was plenty of time to take a walk around town before “sail away” and as it turned out, we literally moseyed up to three Mardi Gras parades in three hours flat!

The people of New Orleans are super friendly! As soon as we walked up to the curb along the first parade route, a man in front of us turned around and began explaining everything a savvy New Orleans Mardi Gras Parade Spectator needs to know about tossing and catching beads, plastic coins, stuffed animals, and mini moon pies (they’re a yummy tradition there!) At first I thought he was exaggerating when he said you end up with so many beads around your neck that it’s hard to stand up straight… until it happened to me! *giggles*

It was so cool on board the Norwegian Spirit, especially that night, because every single TV screen in each and every public area was tuned in to the game – a huge Super Bowl party atmosphere that really coalesced all of us passengers and crew who were watching it together. We all sailed away down the Mississippi River in great spirits. *ahhh* Congratulations New Orleans Saints – Who Dat Super Bowl XLIV Champions!

Going to seminar lectures on board a moving ship can be nauseating at times (would rather kick back in a reclining poolside Barca Lounger!) but paying attention to 12 hours of Dental Office Management presentations is an effective distraction from mild seasickness. *whew* And having two office mates with us on the cruise made it even more enjoyable and interesting (“who did what” conversations are fun!)

Speaking of fun… nothing beats the spirit of live bands… so we danced whenever and wherever we could on the ship (it may look like a grand foyer to you – we see a dance floor!)

Oh, and let’s not forget the shore excursions: My very first horseback ride happened last week in Belize. *pat on the back* It still counts even though we (horse #4 and I) merely sauntered along the trail – while hubby, quite the horseman, cantered away (he did circle back to the rear of the line to check on me periodically!) *sweet*

The hidden waterfalls and colorful butterflies of Guatemala are breathtaking, but my favorite memories revolve around how the local people made me feel. Quite a bona fide spirit of human kindness prevails among the Guatemalans who interact with cruise ship visitors to their country. Ya know something? I’ve been on eight cruises already (three different cruise lines) and have gone on dozens of shore excursions in conjunction with those cruises, but I have to say, Guatemalans are not shy about expressing their love of the tourists (Love you back!) When our ship was sailing away, a local band and two groups of dancers in traditional costumes serenaded us from the pier… the last sounds I heard from Guatemala were the performers on the dock shouting, “We love you!” as they waved goodbye.

Then back to our U.S. neighbor of the south – Mexico *amigos* where we went on a bike ride, kayaking, and an extreme dune buggy ride to jade caverns and bat caves (socks got so filthy, we trashed ‘em!) All in all, it was a fabulous business cruise, which culminated on Valentine’s Day! *warm fuzzies*

Yes, I do love cruising… now please excuse me while I “cruise” on down to the laundry room and embark on what looks to be a long cleansing journey… if you know what I mean. *giggles*

Have a fabulous week! I’ll be back here next Monday.


Monday, February 1, 2010

Life Goes On

Can you believe it’s been an entire month since we were ringing in the New Year? Where did January go—and why didn’t hot flashes go there too? It’s like the older I get, the faster time goes by! *sheesh*

Speaking of New Year’s Eve… We had a blast, in spite of a "wardrobe malfunction" (thank you Janet Jackson!) I had on the dance floor while jiving to an especially rowdy swing dance. My strapless silver sequined cocktail dress surrendered to gravity (it's relentless, you know)... couple that with my buxom-ness and... flash!... a peep show!

Let's not get carried away here... actually, it was early in the evening, and I was still wearing a shrug... so not much was visible for public consumption (interesting word choice!)... AND the venue is only five minutes from our house... during the band's first break I went home and changed into a dress that had already been "swing dance tested"!

The energetic beat of the jive song we were swing dancing to got us extra peppy... hubby didn't even realize that one of "the girls" popped out for a look-see... but I felt the slippage going on during our Throw Out & Kicks Step (boppin' n hoppin' galore!) so I looked down for a quick inspection ASAP—and made the necessary recovery adjustment as fast as greased lightning—but by the size of his grin and the twinkle in his eyes, I think the guy who was dancing a few couples away from us happened to get a free show! *giggles* Hubby is cool about it... as long as I start charging for subsequent shows *kidding* ...don't plan to add strip-tease to my online profile!

We were dancing on and off for at least three hours, which is usually our limit, even though I changed shoes (from heels to flats!) after midnight. Dancing is not only fun, it’s good exercise too!

By the way, a shrug in women's fashion is like a shawl—only with sleeves (and sometimes buttons)—a bolero-style sweater. The one I was wearing on New Year's Eve is sans buttons, so until I went home to change, I kept it cleverly pinned closed with my jewelry of the evening—white gold Swarovski crystal broach/necklace *whew* it turned out to be a lifesaver, too! You can see the heroic accessory du jour in my Facebook photos, if you want to take a look. *grins*

Now here we are on day one of February… it was weird driving over the railroad crossing in town today (monthly hair appointment!) because everything is back to normal already, even though it’s only been ten days since a man died right there after driving his car around the gate in front of an oncoming train (what was he thinking?) I can only imagine the anguish of the train engineer… it’s not his fault… we all know what happens whenever train vs. car in a collision… choo-choo wins every time!

And it’s totally devastating for all the surviving family members and friends. I know from personal experience how the sudden death of a loved one feels… and being overcome with grief… like your guts get ripped out (graphic, but true!) It seems that grief is the hardest emotion to process completely—with all the stages we go through—but eventually even the most profound loss is just a memory (albeit unpleasant!)

So memories of dearly departed people and pets I’ve loved and lost are popping up across the horizon of my mind as I enter the grocery store (may as well run errands while sporting a freshly styled ‘do!) when I lock eyes with a girlfriend from the old neighborhood, who immediately blurts out that she recently had to have her dog, Buddy, euthanized… at the vet’s office… Buddy was old and terminally ill… he was suffering… no more spark in his eyes anyway… She really misses her buddy. *sigh* Then she adds that her father passed away right before Thanksgiving… had emphysema for a long time.

Okay. Good thing I learned in Massage School how to be an objective listener and hold space for someone. It’s an appropriate and easy method to use whenever you want to hear what’s coming from a person’s heart, without letting your own emotions get involved. Easier said than done, I know, especially when you have close ties with the other person, but it is doable (and therapeutic!)

In the aptly designated frozen foods aisle, I hold space for my friend… and hear her bona fide grief as she verbalizes it. So sad; but in a brief moment her train of thought loops back to her beginning remark… and that’s how I know she is ready to move on. And besides, neither of us wants our dark chocolate-coated chocolate ice cream bars to melt in the shopping cart! *giggles*

We’re going on a cruise next week, so I’ll be back here in two weeks on Monday!

Have a fabulous two weeks ☺


Monday, January 25, 2010

I Say Stuff

There isn’t a woman on the planet today who, while growing up, contradicted her own mother more than I did! Seriously. Talk about a personality clash – as a teen, I once told her that I was pretty sure we wouldn’t have been friends if we had gone to high school together. Am I strong willed and self-aware? You bet!

By the age of four (and up until I was about six), I had developed quite an elaborate parallel life for myself, which included not one, but two imaginary friends. Goompy and Gerti were my constant companions – in spite of the fact that I already had two younger brothers… and ultimately, I ended up to be the oldest of five (the first four of us were born within a five year span!) Goompy and Gerti helped me sort out all kinds of situations that I (we) encountered during my formative years. Vivid imagination? Got it! Do I think outside the box? Only when I’m thinking!

Yes, it was hectic – not to mention crowded, around my childhood home: a not-quite-big-enough house (with only one bathroom!) situated on a dead end street in the unincorporated part of town. Dad worked two jobs, while mom stayed home with us. And adding to our clan, were the scads of puppies and kittens that my parents fostered over the decades (back then it was common for people to abandon unwanted litters in the woods at the end of our street – sad, but true!) Now dogs and cats feel like my kindred too (once a Chocolate Lab, named Samantha, gave birth under my bed!) Can I tune out the distractions of daily living, and focus on essential qualities of life? Absolutely!

My dad died suddenly when I was 18. The gut-wrenching pain I felt, upon hearing the bad news… as mom informed me on the front porch, was immediate, and severe (cell phones had yet to be invented, and I was the last one home after a date with my high school boyfriend!) I wanted sooooo badly to turn back the clock… to tell him that I loved him… to feel his embrace… never again is forever. Am I keenly aware of the importance of spending quality time with family? Without a doubt!

Let’s fast forward here… as we do a flyover of my first marriage – 24 years to a tyrant, who wouldn’t change his ways, so I finally left him (but I did get to be a full-time mom to our two sons!) – insert divorce here – then becoming a Licensed Massage Therapist/Reiki Master (giving massage satisfies my soul)… BTW, I held a part-time job in a dental office from the time my youngest son was in second grade until I got my massage license in 2002… realizing that a guy whom I had worked with for over a decade (divorced with custody of his two daughters!) is totally my soulmate *giggles* then becoming his life partner and jumping “back in the saddle” of domesticity… you see, at that time when we started dating, the girls were only 12 and 14--my sons were already 20 & 24 (and I was having a blast on my own in an uptown high rise apartment!) so I reset my "countdown to empty nest clock" because life goes on… to becoming a mother-in-law right before becoming a military mom (thank you previously mentioned second son!)… then becoming a grandma (a baby is a gift of pure bona fide love!), and arriving at present day, with the publishing of my first children’s book, Baron Thinks Dogs Are People Too!

When I first held my newborn grandson, I felt a great sense of legacy, like a cosmic connection of maternal lineage. Here was the relevant defining moment for me… How would I maintain a bond with, and hand down bits of wisdom to my grandchildren (whose father is in the US Air Force) as their family moves to a new city every few years during their formative early childhood development? Baron's endearing story provides a way for me to do just that!

I’ve done lots of hard things in my life (doesn’t everyone over the age of 30 have a sob story?) But I don’t dwell on the past. Although, it is interesting to note (now that I look back on it) that each time I was hurt, and with every setback I encountered, it was the essential fortitude of my soul PLUS my deliberate focus on the present moment (in spite of whatever stressful situation I was in) that got me through to where I am today – offering you a nice little picture book with a well written simple story that you can use to capture the attention of the precious little ones in your life… have a quality moment, and a fabulous week!

I’ll be back here next Monday ☺