06Dec/16
hanging clothes

Where Did The Quality Go?

Seriously where did it go?

hanging clothes

Racks of clothing, but nothing of substance…

I remember a time when you could find quality. It wasn’t that long ago. There were stores jam packed with quality clothing, shoes, handbags and jewelry. So what happened? Where did the all the quality go? Is it due to the fact that most items are now made in China, Vietnam or some other country I can’t even pronounce. I’m not sure what happened but something did…

We were shopping this past weekend and I don’t know how many times I uttered the phrase, “where is the quality?” Nothing’s the same. What happened to my favorite lines of clothing and handbags? The stores were filled with merchandise but it wasn’t calling my name or saying…pick me, pick me like it always did. I remember going in Coach and wanting every single bag in there. It was hard to make a decision there were so many I loved. I couldn’t even find one single solitary bag I could even kinda like. The same with Michael Kors…there was a time I would go without groceries to buy the bag I coveted(this is a true fact). I loved every bag and design from each season. That hasn’t happened in over 5 years.

Don’t even get me started on clothing lines. Ralph Lauren and Ann Taylor just don’t do it for me anymore. I loved these stores and their clothing lines. When I would go in the Ann Taylor store it screamed class. And the clothing was something that would last forever. I still have some of the “good stuff”. One of my other favorite stores White House/Black Market was the same. I wouldn’t be able to go in there without buying something and it took forever to narrow my choices down to a reasonable level of 3 items. I went to all of these stores this past weekend and didn’t buy one single thing. I didn’t see anything I liked or if I did even come close to liking it the cost was so high it didn’t warrant a purchase. But I would have most likely bought something no matter what if it called my name. All I heard were crickets…

I haven’t found a pair of shoes or boots I’ve absolutely loved in so long that I am still wearing my Bandolino black boots from 10 years ago. And even though they are 10 years old, people still come up and ask me where I got them. I did recently find a pair of purple suede booties, which really surprised me since I am not a big purple fan. But they were very cute and I hadn’t found anything in so long I just had to buy them. Also the point here is, I am still wearing a pair of boots that are 10 years old and they look like I bought them yesterday…QUALITY.

“Quality means doing it right when no one is looking.” ~ Henry Ford

So where did the quality go? I did some research on this and also by reading the brands websites and checking them out on Wikipedia I found out some very interesting facts, at least I thought they were interesting. Bandolino shoes and boots were first made in Italy. Enzo Angiolini designed for the company and even had his own line for awhile(I remember this and bought quite a few of his designs). They were part of US Shoe until Nine West bought them and then Jones Apparel Group. Then Nine West Holdings snapped them back up. From what I could dig up because they make it extremely hard to find out where these companies are doing their manufacturing, they are now produced in China.

Michael Kors was first made in Italy as well. Most of the finest leather comes from Italy so that makes sense. Now their purses are made in China, Korea and Vietnam. Coach bags were produced first in Italy. I didn’t know this. They were also made in the US, which is where I thought they were made. Now they are manufactured in China, Turkey and Thailand among others. Not in the US anymore as far as I could see. Another handbag I love is Hobo Brand International. They were founded by Toni Ray in 1991 on her dining room table in Annapolis, MD. She cashed in her life savings and headed to NY with her daughter and son in law. They were made here in the US. I can’t find anything to tell me where they are being made now. But the simple fact I can’t find it on their website with the rest of the story leads me to believe they are no longer made here. I could be wrong though.

Ann Taylor was founded by Richard Liebeskind and he named the stores after his father’s best selling dress at his own store. Their products were made in the US and are now manufactured in Bangladesh. Chico’s started out as Chicos Folk Art Specialties on Captiva Island, Florida. They acquired White House Black Market around 2004 which had started as a single store in Baltimore, MD in 1985. They also own SOMA. They manufacture in over 30 countries, some of which are China, Vietnam, Sri Lanka and even the US.

And then we have Ralph Lauren. During the 2012 Olympics the uniforms the US Team wore were designed by him. He caught a lot of flack and there were even protests over the fact his clothing wasn’t made in the US and was in fact being manufactured in China. When the 2016 Summer Olympics rolled around Team USA’s uniforms were made in the US. The brand is manufactured in China, Sri Lanka and the Philippines.

I tried and tried to find some lines of clothing and accessories that are still being made in the USA and here are a few:

  1. Frye Company – they make beautiful shoes, boots and handbags.
  2. LL Bean – boots and clothes
  3. Alex and Ani – jewelry and bags
  4. Pendelton – blankets and apparel
  5. New Balance – sneakers and sportswear
  6. American Apparel – clothing(hence the name apparel)
  7. SAS – shoes
  8. Stetson – hats and boots
  9. Lucky Brand Jeans – jeans and clothing (not sure if everything is made in the US but their jeans are. I absolutely love their sweaters because they have something you don’t see everyday…QUALITY. I can spot them a mile away. They have that look and feel I love. I hope it stays that way.

 

Boots and Sweater

Me at work in my Bandolino Boots and Lucky Brand Sweater

There were a few others on the list but I never heard of them, so I just posted the ones I knew. I think this is really a sad list. What do you think? Were these brands better off when they first started? Should they have just stayed small? Does the fact that they are manufacturing in countries other than the US make the clothing and other items look and feel differently. Can I say the word we are all thinking of…Cheap.. cause that is really what it is. It is cheaper to make the clothes and accessories in these countries, but then what they get is a cheaper looking item. Did the fact that the people who cared enough to start a company are no longer running it and a board that has no idea what their mission was is even on the same page now? Do they care what we as consumers want? I don’t know the answer to these questions but I got a news flash for you….If we keep buying this cheap crap they will continue to make it.

So what do you think? Do your favorite brands look and feel the same way they did a few years ago? If they don’t, what do you think the reason is? I’d love to hear from you about this.

“Quality is never an accident. It is always the result of intelligent effort. There must be the will to produce a superior thing. ~ John Ruskin

 

28Nov/16
Reading equals happiness

How Reading Makes Me Happy

and that isn’t easy these days…

Reading equals happiness

Sometimes all you need is a good book…

“Reading gives us a place to go when we have to stay where were are.” ~ Mason Cooley

I have always loved to read. I read all the time as a young girl and teenager. I even wanted to be a writer. But then I got pregnant, married and started working…there wasn’t much time left over to read. Even when I did through the years, I couldn’t focus on the book. I read one every now and then until about a year ago I started reading a little more often. Just recently I was having trouble getting to sleep so I started reading more. Now I have been reading a book every few days. Finishing off one or two a week.

Reading can take us to far away places and make us feel and experience things most of us could never experience except through books. Reading a book as enjoyable as that may be is so much more than that..it can also be helpful in many ways. It has been known to delay Dementia and Alzheimers by keeping the brain busy and active. It can help relieve stress and relax us, thereby inducing sleep. I choose to read at night, in bed. If I don’t read my brain goes off on a tangent of what ifs and whys. And so I read. I read until I am tired or I can’t keep my eyes open any longer. And I fall into a deep sleep sometimes dreaming of the characters in the book.

Speaking of the characters in the books, I sometimes identify with them and feel like they are my friends or family. I was talking to someone the other day and almost told them I knew someone who had just gone through whatever it was they were talking about… I had to stop myself because I quickly realized it was a character in a book I was reading at the time. I also get upset when I finish my latest book of choice. I miss the people I have grown to love and want to hear what is going on with them now. I want more. What happened in the years since I left them….did they stay together, did they have that child? Maybe I get a little too attached to the characters in my books. I don’t remember ever doing that after seeing a movie. It’s just books.

We had libraries and also a few small book stores when I was young. They were the only way to get books. I remember getting my first library card, how excited I was. I also remember paying a fine when I forgot to take the book back on the day it was due. Now books are readily available anytime and anywhere. Ebooks are supposedly the best way and easiest way to read a book these days. I have a few on my kindle but to me the whole experience of holding a book in my hands and smelling the pages of my well worn paperback is half the reason I read. Laying in my bed with a beloved book is pure joy at the end of a long day.

I have heard that reading can be therapeutic. Back in the early 1900’s bibIiotheraphy  first became a thing. Doctors and some early therapists thought that by reading books on subjects which mirrored issues the children and adults had could benefit them in ways other treatments could not. It is also sometimes combined with writing therapy. Some studies say it helps with depression. I think this is true. I know both reading and writing have helped me through some very difficult times.

I have read different genres at different stages of my life. I remember reading The Catcher in the Rye back in high school. We weren’t supposed to read it and my parents said I couldn’t. So I hid it under things in my drawer and read it by flashlight every night in bed. It was full of teenage angst and rebellion. Everything a teenager wanted to read about. I really want to read it again.

I read various self help books during my divorce.  I read every book I could get my hands on. I thought it could fix me. Of course it was my fault we were no longer married. At least that is what I was told. After one breakup I read Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman’s Search for Everything Across Italy, India and Indonesia. I know this book was not given a lot of credit by the critics when it first came out. But the book and movie captured many women’s hearts and dreams. I mean come on….Who wouldn’t want to go away for a year and eat Italian food? Me(raising my hand) Not sure about the other two places, but why not?

I like fiction over non-fiction. Most of the time I pick light hearted books that don’t make me think. I want something to take me away not bring me down. I love books that are centered around ocean towns and beaches since I love the beach reading these books instantly makes me feel as though I am there. I love Erin Hildebrand, Kristin Hannah, Susan Wiggs, Wendy Wax, Lisa Wingate and my all time favorites Maeve Binchy and Rosamunde Pilcher. I have to say my favorite book is
The Shell Seekers, by Rosamunde. It is about families, 3 generations of family. And it made me feel so deeply I cried when I was finished. I do that quite frequently now when I finish a book.

Sometimes I read something based on the author or what or who the story is about. I did this recently when I read The Paris Wife. It was a fictional account of a true story about Hemingway’s first wife and the time they spent in Paris. I was enthralled with this book for many reasons. It held my interest and it was in Paris, a city I want to visit and is on my bucket list. It intrigued me so much that I wanted to learn more about Hemingway. So I decided to read “The Sun Also Rises”. It is widely considered his best and has millions of rave reviews. I hated it. After reading both of these I decided to try again and heard about another fictionalized account of a real life story. This one was about Charles Lindbergh and his wife Anne, The Aviator’s Wife: A Novel. It was a very good book, but in the end it made me really hate him. I loved the movie with Jimmy Stewart as Lindbergh and thought he was a wonderful man. He very well may have been but his image is forever tarnished by my having read this book.

So yes, reading can take you to places you have never been and feel things you never knew you would feel. I love reading and so does my daughter and many of my friends. We trade books and we all share different views on the books we read. But one thing we all agree on is how much reading enriches our lives. I heard that people who read are happier. I know in my case this is true. Keep reading my friends and get happy!

Do you love to read and what is your favorite all time book?

“With my eyes closed, I would touch a familiar book and draw it’s fragrance deep inside me. This was enough to make me happy.” ~ Haruki Murakami

 

Disclosure: Some links on here are affiliate links and if you click on them and buy something I may earn a little cash,  if you buy more I could maybe get a cup of coffee.

 

 

17Nov/16
jeans

“Forever In Blue Jeans”

with all due respect to Neil Diamond…

jeans

my favorite things. water, a good book and my jeans…oh and jewelry.

Well I just had to post about this. It kinda got shoved under the carpet with the whole election thing going on…I saw an article posted recently where a group of Brits(2000 of them) were surveyed about what age women should stop wearing jeans…and they came up with the ripe old age of 53. We women, not men, should no longer wear jeans after we reach the 50’s. WTH? Who comes up with this stuff? Why was this survey even a thing? And who are these 2000 people who were surveyed?

With all the issues we have to survey people about someone thought this was a good idea. Well I have news for these people. I will not stop wearing my jeans…EVER.  You are going to have to pry my jeans off my cold dead body. I love my jeans. I always have since the very first pair I ever got. My Wranglers. I wore them as soon as I got home from school. I took off my skirt, knee socks and penny loafers and on went my jeans.That was when I wore my first pair, after that I was taking off my Capezios, my wool skirt and fur blend sweater to put on my Keds, sweatshirt and jeans.

Back in the 50’s and 60’s when I was growing up we weren’t allowed to wear jeans or any kind of pants to school. We had to wear a skirt and top or a dress. I guess that is why I am so loving them now and wearing them all the time. I couldn’t wear them for so long that I have to make up for all those years. I love jeans, honestly I wear them most of the time. I have different styles and colors but I wear them almost every single day.

Jeans were first worn by the miners, farmers and cowboys(love a cowboy in jeans, but that is another story). Levi Strauss created them in 1800’s. There was a need for a fabric that was strong enough to endure all the rough work they did. Someone noticed how cool they were and they were immediately mainstreamed into the stores for us. And thank goodness for that! Lee, Wrangler and Levis were the first ones I remember and then the designers got into the action. They knew a good thing and they couldn’t wait to cash in on the much loved jean craze.

Back in the 50’s there was just the plain old jeans and then with the 60’s came the Bell Bottoms. I wore both of course, being the fashionista that I was and still am. A few of the designers I remember and wore were Gloria Vanderbilt, Jordache(remember them..LOL), Guess and Ralph Lauren. Now I don’t really care about the label as long as they fit. But I do love my Calvin Klein and Michael Kors jeans. They just seem to fit me better than others. Cost doesn’t really come into play either, I have found some no name brands I love and don’t cost an arm and a leg and have really hated some expensive ones. My jeans just need to feel “right” for me to buy them and wear them.

The study also said it takes some women trying on 6 pairs of jeans before they find a pair they like and fit the way they want them to fit. I think that number may be low. I seem to recall the last time I was trying to find some and must have taken 10 pair into the dressing room, none of which fit…The survey also said 6% of women even wind up crying when they can’t find any to fit. Really? I know after the 10 pairs I tried on, I was exhausted and gave up for the day. But I didn’t cry. There is no crying in fashion…There was another study by the British earlier in the year that said we should stop wearing jeans at 47. What is it with the Brits? Do they want us American women to look old and frumpy so they will look cooler?

When you think back, we have had so many types of jeans, from your regular old denim jean to prewashed, preshrunk, distressed, faded, acid washed, low rise, high rise mom jeans(never a fan of these), straight leg, wide leg, and the ever popular skinny jeans. I know some people aren’t a fan of skinny jeans but I really like them and wear them, not the “so tight I can’t bend my legs” type skinny jeans, but they are great to wear with boots which I wear all the time. I have jeans in all colors and like black jeans a lot.  Can you tell I just love my jeans? Since it takes forever to find the perfect pair of jeans I think it makes you want to wear them until they wear out… and now that I mentioned it, I hate that. My favorite ever pair of jeans wear out and now I am on a mission to find some to replace them. We all know how that goes since you can buy the same style, same brand, same size and they don’t fit! What is that? The designers messing with us??

I have read in many fashion magazines that jeans are one of “the” most popular all time items of clothing. The reason being you can where them just about anywhere depending on how you dress them up or down. And the fact anyone can wear them, any sex, any nationality, or any age. Evidently the Brits, or at least 2000 of them don’t agree. I don’t care what “they” say or anyone else for that matter. I will keep on wearing my jeans. I will wear them until I don’t think I should. Since I don’t see that happening any time soon… someone..someday will have to pry them off my cold dead body.

“Money talks
But it don’t sing and dance
And it don’t walk
And long as I can have you here with me
I’d much rather be
Forever in blue jeans” – Neil Diamond

“I have often said that I wish I had invented blue jeans: the most spectacular, the most relaxed and nonchalant. They have expression, modesty, sex appeal, simplicity – all I hope for in my clothing.” ~ Yves Saint Laurent

and this one… “I want to die with my blue jeans on.” ~ Andy Warhol and me…

What about you? What do you think? Is there an age when women shouldn’t wear jeans anymore? Do you love jeans?

 

 

10Nov/16
meditation can help

How To Be Positive In A Negative World

and yes, it is possible…

meditation can help

With all the negativity in the world is it possible for us to have even a small amount of positivity in our own little world? We are surrounded by bad news these days like never before. TV and online news is abundant. And then throw in social media, which tends to make people even angrier about things they see and hear than it did before. People believe everything they see and read and then get themselves all worked into a frenzy about it… and most of the time it isn’t even true. Families and friendships are torn apart and if this can happen to family and friends think about how it affects the world.

I believe we can change this. Yes, I am an eternal optimist and believe the glass is half full. But we need to start with ourselves and our own family. We can not let the media and the hate out there continue to bring us down. How do we start to change things? How can we make our own little part of the world positive? We need to start with small things. We need to start with ourselves. Maybe we can not change the world, but we can change the way we feel. That is really all we have power over..our own feelings. And maybe by changing our feelings we can begin to see a difference in our world.

I have thought about this a lot lately due to the fact I myself have started feeling a little upset about my own way of dealing with things and all the negativity, so I made a list of things I could do to change the way I feel.

“Positive thinkers have a solution for every problem. Negative thinkers have a problem for every solution.” ~ Steven Aitchison

Go to the beach, the mountains or wherever it is you feel most happy. If you can’t go there look at pictures or videos of these places. And take a video next time you visit so you have this to look at when you feel like you need it. It can really make a difference. I love to look at the waves crashing on the shore and it truly soothes my soul.

Make a list of all the things you have in your life that you are grateful for. I say my list out loud every night before I go to sleep. And I try to come up with something every morning when I wake up. Usually, it is that I woke up! Being grateful for everything in your life brings us more things to be grateful for.

Be kind to others and give of yourself. There is nothing to make you feel better about yourself than to help another person. It gets you out of yourself and helps you to see that there is always someone worse off than you. It doesn’t take much to smile and be kind. Try it.

Turn off the news and stay off social media. The news isn’t what it was back in the day. We had real news, unbiased and they just reported the facts. What happened to that? And really, I love social media as well as the next person, so I know I am not giving it up, but I am trying to limit the amount of time I spend on it and limit the people who I call my “friends”.  I can’t ignore the fact that it has given me some great new friends and also returned some lost ones. But we need to take everything we see with a grain of salt. News Flash…not everything that we see on tv or the internet is true. Check it out people, google it, talk to others before getting yourself upset by something you think is real when it is just someone putting trash out there into cyber space to whip everyone up. And they are doing a good job of it. Don’t respond to the negativity either, if you see something that makes you feel bad, just scroll on. I try to put “good” out there every day on my Facebook page and I know people are grateful I do.

“Don’t let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace.” ~ Dalai Lama

 

Listen to music and dance. Music can touch your soul and clear your head. It can take you away or bring you back. It is the medicine that can keep you going when times get tough. Whether you are at home or in your car, listen to some music. Go to a concert. Enjoy the music you grew up with. Turn on the music and dance!

Exercise or meditate, or both. Get outdoors and walk in the sunlight. Nature and the brisk cool air can heal many a negative mind. Do whatever makes you feel good, if it doesn’t, you won’t keep doing it. So if it’s yoga or joining the gym, whatever you like and will keep doing…do that!

Let go of things that are not bringing you joy and happiness. This includes people as well as things. I know you can’t always stay away from that boss at work that brings you down, but you can change the way they make you feel when you are around them. And you can’t get rid of a family member if you want to keep them in your life. Its hard when this situation happens to us and harder when it is someone we love. We can’t change them, but we can change the way we respond to them.

Surround yourself with positive people. Like I said before, sometimes we can not get rid of certain people but we don’t need to constantly be with them. If you care about someone who is toxic, limit the amount of time you spend with them. This is not being selfish, this is what we need to do for our own health. I know first hand how hard this is sometimes but if you want to be happy you need to do it. I am truly blessed to have so many positive people in my life and believe me, it makes all the difference. I have gone to hell and back many times in my life and would not be here and whole if it wasn’t for all of them.

“A good friend is a connection to life – a tie to the past, a road to the future, the key to sanity in a totally insane world.” ~ Lois Wyse

Talk to yourself.  Yes, I know this sounds weird… but it isn’t. If you are feeling upset or negative about something, talk to yourself the same way you would talk to a friend. Think about what you would say to that friend and say it to yourself instead. Note: You may want to close your door or make sure no one is close by.

Take your kids/grand kids on a fun day trip. If you don’t have any, take someone else’s. I’m sure they could use a break and you get to see the day through the eyes of a child. There is nothing better than playing like a kid again to make all of our negativity and worries seem far far away.

Go on a road trip with friends. If you follow my blog and I hope you do. (And if you don’t, sign up now to get it each and every time in your email.) Anyway, if you follow my blog you know I just went on a road trip last week. There is nothing like going somewhere you have never been before with good friends. It doesn’t have to cost a lot. If money is a concern,  you can just go to a new restaurant or a concert at a place you’ve never been to before. Just do something different and spend time with your friends. You will leave with an even better friendship and memories that will last forever.

This is my list of things to help you be more positive. Do you have anything to add to this list? What makes you feel joyful in this crazy world?

“Keep your face to the sunshine and you can not see a shadow.” ~ Helen Keller

 

 

06Nov/16
road trip

The Road Trip

sometimes all you need is a full tank of gas and a good friend…or two…

road trip

ready for a little adventure…go on a road trip…

“Never go on trips with anyone you do not love.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

I think sometimes all we need to fix whatever ails our soul is a road trip. I love spending time with friends. I also like to see new places and experience things I have never experienced before. Doing all of these things together at the same time can sometimes be life changing. It all depends on who you brought along for the ride.

I’ve heard it said a time or two that it doesn’t matter where you go, it’s who you have beside you on your journey. I don’t know who said it but they were right. I don’t care if you are going on a road trip or just life in general, the people who are beside you on your journey can truly change your life. And having the “right” people with you can make all the difference.

Just this past week I went on a “road trip” to Virginia. A friend and I rode there together to a mutual friends house and stayed there for 3 days.  Our friend has a beautiful house in a lovely setting with a creek and woods behind it, which lends itself to wonderful sunrises and sunsets. We hiked, went sight seeing, visited wineries and of course we went out to eat. It was a wonderful time, beautiful weather and so much fun. But all of that aside, it was the two friends and the time we spent together that really made the trip special. It was the time we spent talking about our lives and the things going on in our lives that made this trip what it was. Amazing.

I loved visiting the wineries and doing wine tastings. We all enjoyed this and each of us liked different wines. I think friendships are kind of like fine wine. Sometimes the friendship has to sit a bit, has to age until it is ready. Ready to be what it was meant to be. This weekend showed me our friendship was ready. To have friends that you are able to share your deepest thoughts with and not be judged or fear it will be passed along to others is a rare thing these days. How many people can truly share their deepest secrets and not be afraid of how it will be taken or that one day you will have it come back to haunt you?

If you follow me(and you should, by the way) you know I write a lot about friendship. The reason why is because of how much I value the friends I have. Having lost so much family has made me value them even more. We all need friends. Some people only have one or two and that is fine. Even one true friend can make a difference in your life. I am blessed to have so many wonderful friends in my life. People who continually lift me up and help me through the hard times. I only hope I give some of that back. If I have given one small amount of what has been given to me than my life has been worth it.

After a long day of hiking and walking in the cool fall air we would sit at my friends kitchen table and chat about the things we did that day. Someone would bring up something funny we said or did and we would bust out laughing. This was the best part of the day. There we were, sitting there together eating apple streusel out of the bowl together and laughing. I looked around the table and fully realized what I had in these women.

As I drove home from my friends house I thought about the 3 days we spent together and I smiled the whole way home. What I gained from this trip can not be measured by how much fun I had in Virginia, and don’t get me wrong we had a lot of fun. What I gained from this road trip was how much my life had been enriched by simply spending time with these girls. I have spent time with them before, but I felt something different this time… something had changed. Maybe it was the one on one time we had together or maybe it is the fact we are getting older. But it felt like something had shifted. We are more like sisters than friends. We are joined together by something that can’t really be explained. Nor does it need to be.

Everyone should go on a road trip with a friend.. or two. Have you ever and where did you go?

” A journey is best measured in friends rather than miles.” ~ Tim Cahill

 

 

27Oct/16
traffic backed up

Top Ten Reasons I Hate Driving

did I say how much I hate this…

traffic backed up

this is one reason…

I used to love driving, really I did, but that has changed now. Now there are too many cars on the road and too many people driving them that maybe shouldn’t be driving. Before you say anything, yes, my age may have something to do with my hatred of driving but I know a lot of people way younger than me that hate it too. Maybe I need a driver to go along with the pool boy I always wanted. By the way, I don’t have a pool but I’m sure I can think of some things to keep him busy. Back to the reason for this post…reasons I hate driving.

Here are my top ten…and believe me, I do have more than 10.

  1. Rude drivers – people who act like they are the only car on the road and everyone needs to just get out of their way. You see them coming and just move over so they can go by totally oblivious to anyone else being on the road. Because if you don’t get out of their way they will just run into you. I don’t think there’s a day that goes by lately that when I pull in my drive way after going somewhere, that I don’t just sit in my car for a few minutes and give thanks for making it home alive.
  2. Drivers who are texting or on their phones – here in my state as well as many others it is against the law to be on their phone but that sure doesn’t stop the ones I see every day texting or talking away. I actually saw a guy watching a movie on his iPad one day.
  3. Tailgaters – this one is high on my “hate list”. I especially hate when I am on a road that has more than one lane and the driver tailgating me can pass me, but doesn’t. It is like they are in the zone and don’t even know they are doing it until I slam on my brakes and wake them up. Yeah, I may or may not do that sometimes.
  4. Traffic – Is there anywhere you can go these days where there is no traffic? This is kind of a rhetorical question, because no.. it seems like there is traffic everywhere. Even the quaint little towns I used to love driving through because they didn’t have any, now do. Maybe this is due to the fact some huge builder is building homes there now because it is such a “quaint little town.”
  5. Maniacs – Well I’m not sure if they really are maniacs or not but they act like it. They weave back and forth in traffic thinking they are special and can pass everyone in the long line of traffic that is backed up the whole way for miles, only to end up a the same light or right beside you in the traffic line. I always look over and smile at them. It kinda helps pass the time.
  6. Dogs, Deer and Kids – Not especially in that order and I don’t hate them. I worry that they are going to run out in the street in front of my car when I see them alongside the road. I really worry about this. My reflexes aren’t what they used to be and I worry iI won’t be able to stop in time. And it’s not just the ones I mentioned. I don’t even want to hit a squirrel or skunk for that matter. Once there was this huge gathering of birds on the highway, traffic was in from of me, in back of me and beside me and I had no where to go but right through them. I felt there little bodies hitting under the car and it made me sick to my stomach. I didn’t even look in the rear view mirror.
  7. Driving at night – My night vision isn’t what it once was either, but really I never liked driving at night before when my vision was perfect. Come to think of it I really don’t like the dark. I like sunny days and daylight. Maybe it goes back to my childhood, who knows.
  8. Speed Limits – I am not complaining that we have them, I am saying no one bothers to follow them. I try, but it is difficult to drive the speed limit when everyone else is going 25 miles over it. Remember when we lowered the speed limit for safety and to conserve gas? I think that was why…but now they are constantly increasing it to 70 and even 80 in some areas. Do we really need to go that fast? Just leave in plenty of time and you will get there…and alive. And really it doesn’t matter what the speed limits are because no one goes the speed limit!! It is also hard to get off the ramp and onto these roads because you can’t really get up to 70 or 80 right off the bat and no one will let you in front of them because they are all speeding by at 90 miles an hour. So much for that safety thing.
  9. Getting to where I need to go – I don’t have a fancy car that has the map thingy that tells you where to go and when to turn. I used a friends “talking map thingy” once and it told me to turn where there wasn’t even a road. And I read all of the stories of people driving into ponds or oceans because it told them to do that. Not that I would do that by the way, but if it was dark I might not know the pond was there. Anyway, I don’t use one. I print out the map instructions and sometimes still get lost. And who is like me here, in that I turn the radio down when I am looking for the address or where to turn?? And what does that do? I still can’t find it.
  10. And last but certainly not least is Parallel Parking – I absolutely hate to do this and thank goodness we don’t have to very often these days. However should the occasion arise where I am in one of the ‘quaint little towns”, that is really the only way you can park. I will drive around for hours(well maybe 15 minutes) to find a place where I can just pull in. And in all other instances, I will use the parking decks. I will gladly pay rather than parallel park and hold up traffic with my back and forth trying to get in the space where there are SUV’s parked in front and back of me. What? They couldn’t make those spaces just a smidgen bigger??

I have heard that millennials don’t like driving either. They like living in the city so they can walk to work or take public transportation. I get it. I like living in my quaint little town, I can walk to the bank, post office and to get a cup of coffee in a few minutes time. I don’t like driving. I really like being a passenger. I like looking out the window and really seeing the landscape instead of staring straight ahead watching the maniac in front of me. Honestly, I just don’t like to drive anymore. It isn’t fun and in fact it is downright stressful. And who needs stress? I really do think I just need to get a driver. He can be best friends with the pool boy.

I leave you as always with a question and a quote. How do you feel about driving? I’d love to hear your comments.

“Baseball is a lot like driving, it’s the one who gets home safely that counts.” ~  Tommy Lasorda

20Oct/16
too many choices

Why Do We Have So Many Choices?

except in politics, but that’s another story….

too many choices

too many choices, I just can’t make a decision

I am really not just talking about shoes, although I may have a slight problem choosing the right ones especially when I go into one of those huge shoe stores. I’m talking about having just too many choices these days. I had a conversation with a friend this past weekend about music and groups and how when we were growing up we knew the names of all the groups and musicians. Now when we watch the awards shows on tv, 90% of the time we don’t know any of the nominees. I don’t think it’s because we are older, I think there are just so many of them that we don’t know who they all are. Speaking of tv, when we were young we had maybe 4 channels on the tv to choose from and that was enough, now I have several hundred and can’t find anything worth watching. I have channels I never even knew I had, nor do I know what is on them. Nor do I want to.

And it isn’t just tv or shoes. I go to the grocery store and am looking for a can of corn. I think there used to be maybe 2 or 3 kinds of corn. Del Monte and Green Giant quickly come to mind. Now there are rows and rows of corn to pick from. Some have salt, some don’t, some are organic, some aren’t, some aren’t even yellow. Some I don’t even know what kind of corn it is because I don’t understand what the label says. I looked and looked and until I finally just wanted to scream, “I just want a freakin can of corn.” I thought I was just thinking this in my head but maybe I really said it out loud because the woman next to me shielded her baby and zoomed off to the next aisle.

If you go to the beauty counter to get a red nail polish, there are 500 red nail polishes(that may be a slight exaggeration). Reddish brown, reddish purple, reddish red, red with a hint of black, red with a hint of gold. I just want to pick a bottle up and read the label and it says…”RED.” Is that too much to ask? Don’t even get me started on hair care products. Hair conditioners, mousse, shampoo and hair sprays. I can’t decide which one to use for my kind of hair. There is one for curly, there is one for dry hair, there is one for older women…well no there really isn’t but I’m surprised and then there is one for color treated(oops, now you know this blonde isn’t real). So which one should I pick? I stand there staring at them until my eyes get blurry and my head hurts and then I just get the same old one I always get. The one for curly hair. Maybe thats why my hair is so much more curly now.

Then there is clothing. And the color of the clothing. Recently, I needed a navy top to go under a sweater I bought that was white with navy stripes. Every navy top I got was the wrong shade of navy. How many shades of navy can there be you ask? Well the answer to that is at least 5 because I am now the proud owner of 5 different navy tops. And no, not one of them match my sweater. Why do we need so many shades of each color? We don’t need all these choices! And even with all the choices we have it is really hard to find just a plain ordinary beige top. Off white, cream colored. I needed this color as well as the navy one for under something and could not find one anywhere. Oh there were plenty of cream tops, racks of them in fact but they had a pocket or something lacy hanging out of the bottom or worse, had dolman sleeves..which doesn’t work too well under a jacket or sweater.

Do you know all the brands of cars there are today? I just saw a commercial for a new car and it was called Genesis. I thought, wow I never heard of that. I looked it up and it is Hyundai’s new luxury car. Wait, Hyundai has a luxury car…But seriously, when I was growing up, we basically had Chevys, Fords, Oldsmobile and Plymouths. Also there were a few cool sports cars. But I knew them all. When I would see one I could name it. Now I have no idea what car I am seeing in front of me on the road until I look at the name and even then I don’t know what it is.

When did all of this start? This “having so many choices” thing.. Do we really need all of these choices or does having too many of them just make us want more? Or does it make us throw up our hands and decide to not get anything at all? I don’t know the answer to those questions, but I do know this, if I finally do find a lipstick color or hair spray I love after the many hours and weeks of searching and trying one after another of them till I find it, someone somewhere in an office far away makes a decision that I shouldn’t use that color or hair spray anymore because they decide to discontinue it. Then the never ending search through the aisles and aisles of lipstick and hair spray begins anew. So I guess when all is said and done it really doesn’t matter how many choices we have.

What do you think? Do we have to many choices these days?

Here are a couple quotes about choices.

“Too many choices can overwhelm us and cause us to not choose at all. For businesses, this means that if they offer us too many choices, we may not buy anything.” ~ Sheena lyengar, Author of “The Art of Choosing.”

And I really like this one, and it can pertain to anything in life.

“We are our choices.” ~ J.P. Sartre

 

 

14Oct/16
finding joy

Refinding My Joy

it was lost but now it’s found…

finding joy

find joy in the simple things

My word for 2016 was “joy.” I was going to find joy every day and try to make others happy and joyful too. It was a wonderful idea and I got some of my friends onboard with it as well. We shared our stories each and every day of how and where we were finding our joy. It was truly a wonderful goal, this whole “finding joy” thing was quite uplifting and hearing about everyone else’s joy made me even more joyful. That went on for a few months and then life somehow got in the way. My life wasn’t joyful anymore.

I decided this week to try and to “refind” my joy. I am bound and determined that it is out there, just waiting for me to rediscover it and allow it to once again come into my life. I want to be joyful. I need to feel happiness again. But I am also not a fool, I know every day can’t be just sunshine and joy. There is pain all around us and we can’t ignore it. But what we can do is find one thing every day that make us feel “JOY.”

In thinking about writing this I decided to look up some quotes about “joy.”  I was amazed by the ones I found and want to share 5 of them with you. They filled me with joy just reading them. I hope they will bring you some as well.

1.“Joy is prayer; joy is strength: joy is love; joy is a net of love by which you can catch souls.” ~ Mother Teresa

2. “Friendship improves happiness and abates misery, by the doubling of our joy and the dividing of our grief.” ~ Marcus Tullius Cicero ( I love this one by the way)

3. “Joy, rather than happiness, is the goal of life, for joy is the emotion which accompanies our fulfilling our natures as human beings. It is based on the experience of one’s identity as a being of worth and dignity.” ~ Rollo May

4. “A joyful heart is the normal result of a heart burning with love. She gives most who gives with joy.” ~ Mother Teresa

5. “Joy is a decision, a really brave one, about how you are going to respond to life.” ~ Wess Stafford

I love all of these, but that last one really made me stop and think. Doesn’t everything in life come down to this? It is really not about what life gives us or takes away. It is how we respond to it. We can find joy in simple things. The picture above of the butterfly brings me joy. Seeing butterflies in my garden makes me smile and brings me joy, my son loved them and I know he is sending them to us. I see joy in the faces of my grandchildren and I find it in the love my family and friends show me every day. And I know for sure that joy still dwells somewhere deep within my heart.

This is my goal for the remainder of 2016. I am going to find my joy again. I am going to embrace it and never let it go.

What brings you joy?

 

06Oct/16
just trying to hold things together...

Please Don’t Ask Me How I Am…

I know this sounds both rude and weird but let me explain.

just trying to hold things together...

I’m trying to hold things together…

I don’t know if everyone that experiences a loss feels this way or not. Maybe it’s just people who have lost a piece of themselves..a part of their heart, a human being they carried inside their own body for nine months and raised to watch them become an adult and have children of their own. Maybe it’s only people like me that can truly understand how I feel when someone asks me this question, “how are you?”

I don’t know how I am. I don’t know how to answer this question. I get asked this every day and every day I don’t know how to answer. I just look at them and finally say, “I’m doing ok.” What am I supposed to say? What do they want me to say? Do they really want to know the truth? Because on the rare occasion I do try to put into words how I really feel, I see the look on their face and it tells me they really didn’t want to know. It is a look like, oh, no, she is really going to tell me and I don’t want to know, because I won’t know what to say to her.

I get it. I know it is difficult being the friend or family member of someone who has lost a child. I didn’t know what to say to others when I found out they had experienced this kind of loss. I do now. I love all the heartfelt emails, texts and cards people have sent and the words they so thoughtfully wrote to me have warmed my heart. I think it is easier to write than to speak, especially when you are face to face with the person who just lost their child.

I don’t want to be rude and I know it seems that I am not grateful for the people who take the time to ask me this question. I love that you take the time to ask me anything at all, just be aware I really don’t know how to answer. I want you to keep talking to me and allowing me to talk about my son. I feel like people are afraid I will break down and they won’t know how to handle the situation. It helps me to talk about it, but if it makes you uncomfortable then don’t ask. “if you don’t want to hear the answers, don’t ask the questions.”

There is another part of this that is hard as well. I don’t know how to act. I am out with family members or friends and we are laughing and having a great time and suddenly it dawns on me, what if someone sees me laughing. Why is she laughing? She just lost her son, she must not care. But then what is the answer? To look sad all the time and bring everyone down and make them feel sad too. I don’t want people to feel sad and feel so bad they don’t want to even be around me. I am aware of how you must feel and the thin tightrope you think you have to stay on. Ask me real questions, ask me tough questions. I may or may not have the answer but it will be better than asking me how I am.

I have so many days where I feel strong and happy and ready to take on the world. And then there are days when I have a hard time doing just about anything at all. I have had many losses in my life. Many. To have lost my Dad at such a long age was very hard. My Mom was in decline for years and it was almost a blessing that she finally gave up the fight. I lost my sister, my only sibling in a terrible freak accident that no one could have foreseen and was one of the hardest things I ever had to go through. But this. Losing my son, is…you know what, I can’t even put it into words. I have been sitting here trying to come up with the right words and they are none.

I am trying to be strong for my family. I know they all have had a hard time with this as well. I am blessed to have family and friends that have held me up and supported me through this horrific time in my life. I don’t know what I would have done without them. I don’t know what the future holds. I do know I am not the same person I was two months ago. I will never be that person again. I know it will get easier, but it will never be the same. And neither will I. I am on a this journey I never expected to be on and I hope everyone will stay with me as I figure out who I am now and where I am headed.

In closing, please don’t ask me how I am… because I don’t really know the answer. I usually end with a question, but I don’t have one. So instead I will end with two beautiful quotes I have found.

“It has been said that time heals all wounds. I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind protecting it’s sanity covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens, but it’s never gone. ~ Rose Kennedy

“Do not judge the bereaved mother. She comes in many forms. She is breathing, but she is dying. She may look young, but inside she has become ancient. She smiles, but her heart sobs. She walks, she talks, she cooks, she IS, but she IS NOT, all at once. She is here, but a part of her is elsewhere for eternity.” ~ Unknown

 

 

 

30Sep/16
just don't open your mouth

Ten Questions You Should Never Ask

I may or may not have asked a few…

just don't open your mouth

just keep your mouth shut

We have all had those times when you ask a question and the moment it is out of your mouth you realize you shouldn’t have asked it. I had lunch with a friend the other day and we were discussing this very thing. How we both have asked someone if they were pregnant and of course they weren’t and how embarrassing it was for both the asker and the askee(don’t think these are actual words but you get the point) It really makes both parties involved feel terrible. So after my one and only disaster I decided to refrain from ever asking this question again until the person involved told me she was indeed pregnant.

This got me to thinking about other questions you should just not ask. Below is my list of ten that I may or may not have asked or been asked.

  1. The first and obvious one is, “Are you pregnant?” You just should never utter these words if you don’t know the person. If you do know them don’t ask this until you hear the words “I’m pregnant” come out of their own mouth. Just take my word for it. My friend told me her story of how a woman came in to her workplace all the time and she was super skinny, ran all the time and was in great shape. So she came in one day with her child in a stroller and had a very distinct baby bump. It was right there, not a speck of fat on her body. So my friend knew she was pregnant. She says, “oh you are pregnant.” The woman gave her a very sad look and said, “no I don’t know what is the matter I just can’t lose this bump.” Of course my friend felt terrible and I’m sure the woman did as well. You can’t base your asking of this question on looks because this incident proves that. Just don’t ask..
  2. Is that your Grandmother? Being in retail, customers are always coming up to buy jewelry or perfume from me and have a person with them, Sometimes that person is much older than the customer. Don’t ever ask if the young man you are talking to if this lovely person with him is his grandmother? You will get a blank stare and be told that no, indeed this isn’t my Grandmother, it is my wife. Note: I also lost the sale.
  3. Is this your son? Just like “the is this your grandmother question”, do not ask is this your Mother, Father, Grandparent, etc… This actually happened to me. I was once in a very long term live in relationship with a younger man…much younger. 11 years younger to be exact. We were going to a wedding of a mutual friend and he needed a new suit. We went to a high end department store and he went about trying on various suits coming out to show me and let me help him choose. This went on for awhile and the clerk who was helping us finally looked at me and said, ” is that your son, he looks great in all of them.” To which I replied, “no, he is my boyfriend, and yes he does.” She looked a bit embarrassed and walked away. Just don’t ask.
  4. Why aren’t you married? I get this one a lot. I’ve been there, done that and have 2 tee shirts. I don’t feel the need to do it again. It is a nosey, rude question and one that doesn’t even deserve a reply. Personally, I would never ask someone this question, but you wouldn’t believe the amount of times I get it. Most times I try to ignore it and move on, but if they push, I usually give my stock answer which is, “why do you feel the need to know this?” That line and my look most times stops them…just throw it back at them.
  5. Why don’t you have kids? This is another one of those questions that is very personal and I think people shouldn’t ask. They don’t ask me this question of course but I know several people who have chosen not to have children or couldn’t have children that get asked this question all the time. This just goes without saying, you should just not ask someone this question. End of discussion.
  6. Do you want to date my ex? Ok, this one was very weird. I had a good friend and helped her through a terrible divorce. Her husband was a jerk and not at all good looking. A year or so after the divorce out of no where she asked me, “you want to date my ex don’t you?” I said no and thought that would be it. but she kept asking me this question every time we were together. I felt if I told her how much he repulsed me it would be a slam to her so I just kept my mouth shut and hoped she would stop asking. But she didn’t. So one night as we were watching a movie together, a chic flick romance, she asked me again. I screamed at her, “no, I don’t want to date your idiotic, stupid jerk of an ex who looks like he is wearing a sweater when he really isn’t and loves to wear tank tops to show off his hairy skinny stupid looking body, are you happy now.” She never asked me that question again. Of course we are no longer friends.
  7. How much did that purse cost? I get asked how much that top, that purse, those shoes cost all the time. Now I love a bargain as much if not more than the next person but you just don’t ask that question. I tell my friends when I find a great bargain and how much I paid, They don’t even need to ask, I want to spread the joy with them. It is usually strangers or acquaintances that ask this and it really ticks me off. And the few times I did stupidly share the price and place I purchased an item with them they must have immediately gone there because the next time I saw them they had on the exact same thing. Not cool.
  8. How much money do you make? When I worked at various jobs over the years I would have people ask this question a lot. I don’t even know how much my own daughter makes. You just don’t ask this question.
  9. Asking a very personal question when someone close to you dies. I had people I hardly even know ask me how my sister and my son died. If I wanted you to know, you would know. Just maybe if the question is of a very personal nature and you think it may hurt the person you are asking, think about before you ask. And maybe just don’t ask.
  10. And finally this one…don’t ever ask a guy you are dating that is much younger than you after you pass a milestone birthday this question. “How does it feel to be dating a 40 year old?” It must not have felt too terrific as he decided it was over shortly after this.

So my point in this whole thing is this…do not ask something of someone you would not want someone to ask you. Don’t be hurtful and regret what you say to others. Words hurt. Think before you speak and most of all.. be kind!

Did you ever ask a person something you regretted asking? Did someone ever ask you a question that you wished they wouldn’t have?

“Animals are such agreeable friends – they ask no questions, they pass no criticisms.” ~ George Elliot (maybe we should all try to be more like animals)