Tag Archives: ThinkKit

That’s Not My Ann

#ThinkKit day 3:  Deck the LOL’s.  Let’s loosen up: share a side-splitting story from the last year. What made you laugh out loud until tears formed? What made you giggle every time it was referenced? Whether it’s a story, an image, a video – we want to hear about the banana peel on the floor, your best practical joke, or gems from the mind of a three-year-old. Whether it’s sassy, sarcastic, or just plain silly: make us laugh!

Let me start my LOL by stating that I am a 6’ blonde with enormous curly hair. And most importantly, I wear 4-5” heels pretty much all the time.   A very important piece of info to fully appreciate the hilarity of this story.

Background: I am blessed to have a wonderful friendship between a beautiful girlfriend and her husband, my T&V Show which I am merely a co-star. They have been rocks for me since becoming single again and I consider them family…a sister and a brother, both from other mothers.  The husband,  V is about 6’7’ and his lovely wife…much shorter than both of us on a typical Friday night.  We have somewhat of a ritual on the weekends that when my son is with his father, the three of us enjoy dinner and some cocktails together.  Some nights we are joined by other friends, other nights, it’s just the three of us.  We catch up. Share stories of our week and laugh A LOT.

The LOL: Earlier this past Summer, we enjoyed a great dinner with friends and of course, not wanting the evening to end, we went to a local establishment to have a “couple” cocktails.  We all danced, drank and were merry.  During the latter part of the evening, V and I began a very serious and somewhat emotional conversation about my relationship state which is single.  I sat on a stool at the bar and he stood next to me.  Sweetly, he was asking me about how life was treating me. Reassuring me that yes, dating was not easy but when I was ready to let someone in, it would happen.  He touched my heart with his kindness.  We talked and talked.  And he listened.  I began to get a bit teary-eyed.  He was so sweet to care that much.  It truly touched my heart.

Well, we were both well past a “couple” cocktails.  Funny how conversations seem to turn extra serious at the wee hours of the evening.  You know that time…the time when you probably should have said no, but find that you just agreed to a shot of fireball.

As I dried the tear from the corner of my eye, V suddenly  turned to his wife and said “Let’s go”.  He walked over to her and they both began to walk out.  I rose from my barstool and followed.  She was our DD and was my ride home as well.

As we were walking out of the establishment, V turned to his VERY SOBER wife and said, “Hey, who was that b*@^h ?   She’s following us.”

The lovely wife and friend says, “Honey, that is Ann”.

My friend and brother then says “No, I said who was that b*@^h that I was just talking to?”

Again, the lovely wife says, “HONEY, that was ANN!!!!”

“Noooooooo, that is not my Ann!  That b*@^h is short.  MY Ann is tall.  MY ANN is THIS TALL.  (making hand gesture showing my true height with my 5 “ heels on. )

“Honey, honey, listen to me, THAT IS ANN!!!”

My brother from another mother turns to see me following them in the parking lot to the car, a light bulb went on and he says…”HEEEEEEYYYYYYY, giiirrrrlllll…..there’s my girl.  Now this is my Ann.”

Ready for the LOL? Did you catch it?

While we were talking at the bar, I was sitting on a barstool.  Instead of being eye to eye as usual, my head was only chest high.  Thus, at that moment, I truly was not his Ann.  I was a short stranger…a b*@^h telling him all about my life. I was not 6’5” Ann.  I was a drunk, short bitch that he was done with.

I tell you, I cry every time I re-tell this story.  Not sure it truly conveys in words the hilarity of the entire event but as I sit here and write it down…i am snorting with laughter.

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An Unexpected Encounter of Unrestrained Happiness

#ThinkKit Day 1:  “Share your year in photos. Was there a moment of unrestrained happiness? An unexpected encounter? Dig into the deeper meaning of a moment frozen in time.”

To start the year off, this guy joined the family.

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Seriously… How can you look at this face and not have a happy heart?  He was definitely unexpected.  He showed up on a friend’s Facebook page one day and my heart melted.  I knew he was meant to become a member of the family.  He had been a stray, out in the elements of last winter.  I knew he was something special that he survived through our horrendous weather in February.  He was all of twenty-eight pounds.  Had been starving for food and attention.

There is some wildly cosmic joy that one gets when you bond with a pet.  They are the epitome of unconditional love.  They talk to you, play with you, walk with you and listen to you (well most times).  Above all else, they love you.

We already had Coco Chanel, a beautiful German Shepherd/Lab mix rescue from the Indianapolis Humane Society.  She is everything her name implies..a sweet little diva who just happens to be ninety-two pounds.  She is our baby.  And spoiled rotten of course.

Was she going to be as excited to meet this little face as I was?  Was she ready to share her spot at the foot of the bed at night?  It isn’t exactly that she rules the roost, er, well, let’s just say that if the two four legged friends weren’t going to be friends, I had to stop obsessing on his pictures!  I arranged a meet & greet.  Yes, it was a “playdate” for dogs.  Before I let one more ounce of love brew in my heart for this little guy, I had to be sure that Coco would be up for it as well.

I had explained to my son on the ride to meet the little bear that we were NOT bringing this dog home today.  We would see if he got along with everyone and then make the decision to make him a permanent member of the fam. My son said okay.  Deep down, we were both lying to ourselves but neither would admit it.

My son and I arrived and actually asked Coco if she was ready to meet a new friend.  For those dog owners out there, you know what I’m talking about.  A conversation with your dog..saving this topic for another post later.

We walked up the front walk and were greeted by my friend and this amazing little spirit.  The dogs’ eyes met.  Intrigue in their eyes.  Who is this??  A friend?  I don’t know this dog!  As we closed the gap between the two, it was becoming ever so evident that they wanted to meet.  Nose to nose.  Eyes to eyes.  Then it happened…tails began wagging.  Sniffing faces. Licking snouts.  Coco’s eyes looked up at me.  I think at that moment, she too, fell in love.

Needless to say, after some playtime in the backyard, Bongo (the little bear) came home with us that day.   That same afternoon, they had their first nap together. 177

I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional love.  For me, they are the role model for being alive” ~ ~Gilda Radner

 

 

Inspiration

inspire1what inspires us to write?  Is it a moment, a memory, an idea or is it a person?  Writing for me has always been a release.  A release of the words rolling around in my head.  Setting free visions and ideas that are trapped in my mind.  Putting them on paper is liberating; gravitating to a love of words on paper.

Our lives in general ignite inspiring moments of triumph, success, failure, despair. They happen whether you want them to or not. Inspiration cannot be controlled. You can tell yourself “I will feed myself with inspiration every chance I can.”   To misquote an old adage, seek but ye may never find.   Seeking out inspiration seems like an awfully tall task.

However, can’t we change our mindset to be open to inspiration? Can we give each a situation the opportunity to inspire? Think how your life may be different if you were more mindful of what each day may bring. Can we make the conscious effort to say to ourselves, every day, my eyes will be open to possibility. I know that I want to be curious again like a child exploring an infinite number of possibilities in this world. I try to be purposely in my moments.

In deciding how something or someone inspires me I can’t help but look back on my past. I think about the people who have inspired me. My mom and dad weren’t perfect but they were definite inspirations. While I may not have recognized all the ways they motivated me growing up, I can now appreciate how much they did inspire me and continue to encourage new ideas even after they have both passed away.

The interesting thing about inspiration is it never follows a calendar. You cannot schedule your time to be inspired.

There have been other family members, teachers, co-workers, friends, or even strangers who have been a source of motivation at some point for me. Think of all the many moments in your life that have played a part on your road of inspiration. You may have a moment and have no idea that later in the day, the week, the month, the year, you will look back on that moment and know that somehow it changed your way of thinking. It inspired you try to do something that was unlike the actions you were accustomed to. You were inspired. So many times people will tell you about an older mentor or  inspirer.  They can tell the story verbatim of their encounter with previous generation. The older, wiser…they know better right?

However, don’t be so sure…as I have found inspiration in an amazing woman half my age. Two decades behind me. What could she possibly teach me?

One simple thing…to open my eyes to the world and live again.

 

the true meaning of soul food…good for the soul, right?

#ThinkKit Day 10: What habits did you start this year that you want to continue? What inspired you to get in a groove? Will you continue in 2014?

How many times have you come home after a long day and the last thing you want to think about is cooking something for dinner?  You open the fridge and think, what can I possibly find in here that’s worth eating.  A half-eaten chicken breast lies lonely on a shelf from the night before.   An opened bag of carrots that you know if you keep forgetting to eat, they will turn into orange slime in the dark corner of the veggie drawer.  Sometimes I think it was easier for my mom to cook for our family of six when I was growing up than it is for me to cook for one.  And the moment of aha comes over me which led to my best habit this year…cooking.

eggplant quinoaGrowing up my father was an amazing cook.  Each Sunday after church, he would sift through his massive collection of cookbooks and pick out something new to cook for the family for dinner.  Dishes and ideas came from China, Russia, Germany, Portugal, and many more.   I of course was his sous chef.  If there was something in the recipe that he didn’t have in the kitchen, he would make a substitution, play around with the recipe, and eventually create something new.  I marveled at how easy he made cooking look.  He made his own pasta, created his own sauces, and used ingredients at which my mother would roll her eyes.  Thankfully for all the years as his assistant, his love of cooking and his creativity in the kitchen rubbed off on me.

Because of my dad, I have always enjoyed cooking, but this year I made a concentrated effort to take it a step farther.  I tried as best as I could to shop local farmers markets and garden tomatoes grocers for ingredients.  I read up on nutrition, tried to learn more about GMO’s, and even built an organic little garden in my backyard. The garden was such a success that I plan on building a second box with a much better planting schedule and plan next year.  I have bored all my family and friends on social media with pictures of my food.  Yes, I became one of those people!   The fact is…I consider my food creations like I would a piece of art.  I would share a picture of a painting, so why not share my masterpiece of a meal? 

Inheriting my passion from my dad, there are moments when I feel him looking over my shoulder as I stray from the recipe and throw in something new.  His spirit lives with me in the kitchen.  He would absolutely love my Sautéed Mediterranean Quinoa!   Before my dad passed away, he compiled a collection of his recipes and published a cookbook.  When I want a dish from my childhood, I crack it open, maybe make a few changes and revel not only in the meal but the memories as well.   Isn’t this the true meaning of soul food?  Good for the soul, right?   

 

surprise yourself with what you can do

#ThinkKit Day 8 & 9 prompts asking show us what you made and it’s a surprise!

Ever have someone tell you that you can’t do something? For years, I had wanted a privacy fence to my backyard and this was the year I decided I would make that happen. I started researching fences online. There were do it yourself directions, how to guides, you tube videos, and the home improvement store experts waiting to answer all my questions photo (4)online. With all this info at my fingertips, of course I told myself that I can do this just as easy as anyone else, right? So I grabbed the tape measure, ran to the backyard, and jotted down measurements between my house and my neighbor’s house. I mapped out my rudimentary plan on a borrowed piece of paper out of one of my son’s notebooks and headed to the nearest home improvement store.

I may not fit the typical mold for a do it yourselfer building a fence however, I’m pretty sure I’m not the first six foot blonde to enter a hardware store. With my novice architectural notes in hand, I marched to the wood section. By the way, the sales associates at the hardware stores are pretty adamant about calling it the “lumber” section and NOT the wood section. I peruse the lumber and read all about which ones are best for outdoors and which ones are pretreated. So far, I think I’m fairly certain I’m a genius at this and am feeling very confident. I decide on my selection and proceed to the counter to place my order for pickup. I waited behind the guy in his national guard uniform, a dude who was building a deck, and an old man who I think spent more time trying to figure out what I was doing there than paying attention to his own order. Standing in line, I went over my measurements in my head one more time to be sure I had all the wood I needed. I picked out three 10 foot 3×3 poles, three bags of cement, a prebuilt panel, extra pickets, two 2×4’s to form the gate, and the hardware for the gate. Finally, it was my turn! The gentleman who helped me did a stellar job in hiding his doubt when I laid my sketch on the counter and proceeded to tell him what I wanted to purchase. His curiosity got the best of him and he obviously couldn’t resist asking, “Who is building this for you?” I am. Again, Doubting Thomas showed his hand, “You are? By yourself?” Ignoring the little voice in my head that was yelling what I really wanted to say, I smiled and replied, “Yep, just little old me!” “Well, you know this isn’t an easy job. You have to dig holes for these poles.” Yes. Mr. Expletive, I know that. “Yes, I understand all that and I’m pretty sure I’m not afraid of a little manual labor.” Again, I strained a smile. Shaking his head and containing his now obnoxious smirk, “well, everything is entered and you can pick it up out back.” Thanks Mr. Chauvinistic Pig…I mean…thank you, sir, have a great day!

Luckily, the two high school boys who loaded everything in my SUV were much more helpful and friendly. They even swapped out the right kind of cement for the crap that Mr. Pig put in my order.

Back at the house and unloading everything, I started to question myself. Holy crap. I have all this wood, have to dig three 4 foot holes, mix and pour cement and pray that this all lines up. This is the moment my neighbor (also a tall blonde) walked out and saw the slight stress on my face. About four hours later…three 4 foot holes were dug, poles were raised, cemented in the ground, and leveled as best we could without a level. Hey, c’mon, we are chicks after all. The panel went up and with some help from her dad and her boyfriend; a gate was built and attached. Measurements exact and remarkably, a perfect fit.

IMG_3899IMG_3936I stood back and admired my (really, our) project. It was the most beautiful fence I had ever seen. I couldn’t believe that I could do it and it was truly standing on its own. Pride of accomplishment was seething from every pore in my body. I placed the final touches on the posts: 3 toppers which in reality I really didn’t need but when I read the name, Hatteras on them, I had to buy.

IMG_3935Was it as easy as I read online? Pretty much! Would it pass an inspection from a true architect? Probably not, but it was exactly what I had in mind. Opening the gate and walking into my newly created secret garden, I found my space where I could sit, think, meditate, have my morning coffee, and an evening glass of wine. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do something. Take a chance and you just might surprise yourself!

builder footnote: yes, I couldn’t resist taking a few snapshots to the kind sales associate…

adult moments vs. kid moments

Day 5: #ThinkKit: Interview at least one other person about their favorite moments of the year. Why were these moments important? Were they major events, a particularly memorable minute, or somewhere in-between? Share what you heard.

When asked about favorite moments in life, most adults will cite the obvious adult answers.  When I got married.  The birth of my child.  The time when I finally got the job or promotion I wanted.  You know… adult things.  So after thinking about today’s #ThinkKit prompt and various adults I could interview, I thought how cool it would be to interview my niece and her sons, ages 9 and 5.   Please note that when interviewing children: be prepared for anything.  They are not going to give you the answers you may have already formulated in your head.  They don’t make the story grander than it is.  It is so innocently pure. They are beautifully honest.

So first, about my niece: (and let me preface by saying that I am slightly biased in that I believe all 6 of my nieces are fabulous.)   Nikki had been a stay at home mom with her two boys and this year her youngest was starting kindergarten.  When I asked about her most memorable moment, she paused briefly to think before pinpointing her “moment” with her return to teaching this year.  She started back with a position teaching the 4th grade.   “It was not near as overwhelming as I thought it would be and at the time, so much more rewarding than I ever expected.”   When I asked her how it made her feel to go back to work and her profession, she modestly said “it made me proud of myself.  I felt successful and that I was helping out my family at least financially.”  Knowing her as I do, I could hear the smile on her face through the phone.  Accomplishments can do that to a person.   “It’s not just a job.  Connecting with kids, they connect with your heart.  I want to be at my very best all the time because I know I have 28 little souls that depend on me to be my best.” 

Hand in hand with a return to work, Nikki also got to walk her youngest son to his first day in kindergarten.  This is a memory for any parent that no matter how old you become, you can transform yourself there and feel the tears start to form in your eyes.  Nikki is no different and as she said her first word, her voice softened and the tears welled up.  “Being home and watching them grow up…  and now all three of us are going to school together.   Working there now and walking him down to class was such closure for me and a new chapter for all of us.”

Unlike his mom, my 9 year old nephew Gavin was not as sure at first of his favorite memory from this year.  When asked, did you have a special moment or memory that you can think of?  He simply stated, ”no”.  I remind myself, Ann, remember, this is a kid….  So same question in 9 year old language: did you do something this past year that was so cool that you’ll never forget it?  “Oh yeah!  It was winning the championship in basketball.”  Okay, now I was getting somewhere.  Me: So how did it make you feel?  “It made me really happy.  I scored 8 points but it should have been 10.  I got pushed in the back and the ref called me for travelling so I should have had 10 points. We won anyway and at the end of the game we all lined up, gave high fives and said good game.  We HAVE to do that. Then we were presented trophies”   Me: what makes you remember that win?  “I have the trophy in my room.  It’s all sparkly on one side and a gold basketball player on top.  When I look at it, I think I’m awesome”.   And guess what?  He is awesome.

OBX 2013
OBX 2013

So to round out the evening, my next interviewee was my 5 year old nephew.  Did you ever watch the Art Linkletter show that always had kids saying pretty much the most out there, off topic, and irrelevant answers to the questions they were asked?  Well, this was pretty much following suit.  The one thing I had going for me was I remembered the age I was interviewing and was prepared with my questions.  So Evan, what was the funnest thing you did this year?  “VIDEO GAMES!!!”  Me: Video games?  That was the most funnest thing you did over the summer or any other time?  “It’s winter now, why are you asking about summer stuff when it’s winter?”  Me: yes, I know it’s winter now but I just thought maybe you did something fun over the summer that was more fun than video games.  Evan: “video games are fun but not as much as the ocean”.  Okay, now I was getting somewhere so I was not about to lose any momentum.  Me: What about the ocean was so fun?  Evan: You know, going in there with the things and stuff.”  Apparently I missed things and stuff at the ocean even though I was on this vacation with him.  Me: Things and stuff???  “You know, Aunt Ann, the boogie boards and riding the waves.”  Yep, I know exactly what you mean, Evan, and all of a sudden I am transformed into a little kid remembering my own favorite moments in my life on that same beach he is referring.  Back to topic.  Me: what makes the waves so fun?  “well, the waves come and they make you go higher.  It’s cool. You know.  You were there!”  Again, yes, Evan, I do know.  Holding back my laughter, I thanked him for his interview.  “you wanna talk to my mom now?” 

If there is a moral to this exercise it’s that it doesn’t matter what age you are.  Recalling a favorite moment will elicit the same passion, pride, and enthusiasm whether you are an adult or a child.  And I’m pretty sure I know two boys who, after our interview, believe that I’m even crazier than previously thought.

 

 

instead of mind over matter, listen to your heart

Today’s #ThinkKit’s prompt: What was the wisest decision you made this year? Who did it impact? Describe your decision-making process, discuss the results, or just share a little learned wisdom.

When I read the questions, “what was my wisest decision this year”, it really made me think.  Picking one that stands out was seemingly difficult.  There had been choices to make with work.  Decisions that I needed to be confident with regarding raising a 14 year old boy.  Resolutions that I knew I had to sure of with my personal life.  I know I have made a multitude of decisions that have affected me and others Some decisions were good ones and then again there were some that were just awful.  Did one really stand out?  Hmmm, I don’t think so.  But after some serious reflection on the car ride home from work,  the one thing I kept coming back around to was the action that seemed to determine most of my many decisions this year.  I had started to listen to my heart again.

heartIs it that little voice inside your head that pushes you to decide?  You can weigh all the pros and cons of any situation that commands a decision.  Some require more brain power than others.  Some are strictly intellectual.  However, what makes us act and make that decision?  Could it possibly be the emotion behind that voice inside our head that prompts us to act?  Now this isn’t always a great and trusted advisor to lean on for advice especially in an emotional charged atmosphere but it deserves a little say in the process. 

It seems that so many actions and decisions are made by people that are based on others’ opinions.   What will people think of me?  First of all, that’s for them to decide, right?  Secondly, can you imagine the incredible turmoil that will rest on your heart to make decisions that impact you, your friends, and your family that don’t come from the heart?   I can.  I have.  And it sucks.

So instead of living a life that is filled with the innate horrible trait I have of pleasing others, I went back to the “me on the inside” and listened to my heart again.  It seems like such an easy thing to do but I’m sure we can all think of a time when we have seen the “heart” ignored. 

Just for a moment, try to listen to your little voice.  Stop and hold your heart.  And then ask yourself, “What is it telling me?”