Wednesday, December 31, 2008

It's New Year's Eve!

This morning I woke up to a thick blanket of snow covering the ground. It surprised me because we had a spell of warmish weather here over Christmas that melted just about everything. I expected to see green again today. The snow caught me off guard.

I guess it's fitting. This being New Year's Eve and all. The snow for some reason seems symbolic to me. Like it's covering up all the failures of the past year and making way for the new one ahead.

Why is it that January first is the day we always mark for "starting fresh"? The day we decide to change something we don't like about ourselves, or do something that will improve something in our lives. We may decide to lose weight (big one here.....notice all the TV ads lately?)...or exercise more....or keep a neater house.....or read our bibles more....or stop smoking....the list goes on an on.

So why is it we do it now? Does hanging up a new calendar make it somehow easier or more time worthy? Or is it because we know that everyone around is also trying to "do better" this year too? The accountability factor perhaps? Or has it just been easier to tell ourselves these past few weeks (months) that we'll start fresh then - instead of now.

I really don't know. I guess for me, New Year's Eve always brings a time of reflection. I think about the changes in my life in the past 12 months. What I've accomplished. What I haven't. Who got married.....who got divorced. Who moved away....who came back home. Who
is no longer with us....

I'm a sap for nostalgia and I always get a little weepy as the big ball descends from it's perch in Times Square. Like I'm saying goodbye to a bit of my past. Not just turning another page in the proverbial book of life - but beginning a new chapter.

So what's going to be different for Lora this year? Sure....I want to lose weight. I want to exercise more. I want to keep a neater house. I want to read my bible more. But will I? Where does want meet will? For me - I've done what I always do. From Thanksgiving through Christmas I eat with abandon. I neglect all the things I said I'd do last year. I fall severely into the "I'll start January 1st" mode. From December 25th until the 31st I begin to think about my resolutions for the latest chapter in my life and always come up with several very nobles ones. I plot out my strategies and usually sail through the better part of January doing okay. And then - like most of us - I start to fall into the ruts of those old patterns that are carved so deeply into my psyche and all my noble intentions fall to the wayside.

Sound familiar?

So I've been thinking really hard all week. Why does this happen? Why can't I do this? And I've come to realize the paralyzing factor in my life. The ONE thing I really need to change that will hopefully make all the others fall into place.


And it's more than just the weight loss. It's my whole way of thinking. The way I've always lived my life. I put off unpleasant tasks. I've always told myself I work better under pressure but that's a cop out. It's the pressure due to the lack of time that makes me productive. But in the process I stress out and do less of a job than I probably would have.

In Lora's world, the bills are sailing through the postal system ON their due date - never before. Groceries are bought when something important runs out. Like coffee. Or toilet paper. Important papers for grad school are pounded away on the keyboard the night before they are due. I decide what I'm wearing to work while I'm in the shower. Laundry is done when I run out of underwear.

All of this causes stress. For me and those around me.

So why do I procrastinate? In my feeble mind do I think the problem or chore will somehow magically go away? What is more pressing that I can't do what needs to be done now instead of some other time? I wish I knew.

But there is one thing I do know. That if I continue to procrastinate - my life will continue to be stressful. I will continue to pay bills out of coffee and toilet paper...agonize over papers that are due for weeks (instead of just doing them and being done with it)...scramble in the morning for something to wear and do laundry at midnight so I don't have to "go commando" in the morning.

So I only have one resolution for 2009. To stop procrastinating. Perhaps then, the rest of my life will fall into place. If I can teach myself how to "do instead of say," I may just succeed at some of the things I hope to accomplish in this new year.

How about all of you? What do you have planned for 2009? It's a brand new year! There's fresh snow on the ground (at least here) and the ball will drop from Times Square at midnight.

Whether we're ready or not. I'm ready! Are you?

Friday, December 26, 2008

Merry Christmas!

Usually my Christmas cards are something I begin shopping for early in the year (sometimes even in August!) I always want them to say just the right thing This year, although I looked high and low, nothing seemed to say just exactly what I was looking for.

It probably seems silly, to get so hung up over the message on a card, but Christmas is the one time of year when mentioning the name of Christ is acceptable. Oh, I know there are still those who would say that we should keep all the "Jesus" stuff out of Christmas - that it gets int he way of the holiday spirit (what ever that is.) but I like to take the opportunity at Christmas to dwell on all the "Jesus" stuff, because to me - that's what Christmas is.

Our society has secularized the season to such an extent that the babe in the manger is nothing more that that - a babe in a manger. We forget that He is the King of Kings, the Prince of Peace, God himself. We tend to get so wrapped up in the preparations for the holiday (the gifts. the decorations, the baking, the parties...) that the whole awesomeness of Christmas slips right past us. We forget that the story is true, that it all really did happen some 2000 years ago.

It is more than just a magical night with a bright star, a few shepherds and a bunch of angels. God left the splendor of heaven to dwell in the body of a human being, with all of the frailties and imperfections, in order to redeem mankind. Hundreds of Old Testament prophecies were fulfilled through His birth. The long awaited savior, the Messiah had arrived at last! How sad that as many rejected him then, many still do today.

It is my heartfelt prayer for all of my friends and loved ones, that this Christmas, Jesus is your central theme. Christianity is more than the church you go to, or the traditions you've been brought up with. It goes beyond your deeds or actions, because belonging to Christ is something we could never earn. If that were so, He came in vain.

Being a child of the King, is a that was given to us in the form of a babe in a manger, opened up to us in the miracles and teachings of a man in whom all the fullness of Deity dwelled, and culminated in in the opening of Heaven's gates through the death and resurrection of our Lord. But like any gift - it must first be received. I pray this Christmas that you take the gift as your own and that in the busyness of this holiday season, you take some time to reflect with genuine wonder and thanksgiving - the reason for the season.

Merry Christmas ~ Lora

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

See post below...

The Stockings were hung by the chimney with care....

Christmas arrives in 8 days. Whether I'm ready or not. And I'm not.

I have my shopping about 80% done. The Christmas letters have been printed and folded. They just need to be stuffed and stamped. There is still no furniture in the living room We plan on lugging the old couch that is stored at the new house over here and pulling up some old end tables from the basement to create a makeshift living space for Christmas morning when the kids come over to open presents.

The tree is up. But not much else. I still have several bins stacked in the near empty living room but I'm not sure how much will make its way to the rest of the house. I'm simplifying this year and it feels so very strange. Usually I have this little ritual where I turn on some Christmas music, pour myself a glass of wine and hum my way through the decorating process. It always begins with the tree and turns into a day long ordeal. It's so much fun. Especially when it's all over and I light the tree, burn some candles and bask in the glow of Christmas.

About two hours into the decorating process, I get the stockings out - three large stockings that I carefully made for each of my girls when they were very little and I had time to linger in my sewing room. Back in the day when I used to sew three matching outfits for them each Christmas and the throws of young motherhood when our engery is boundless and is only equalled by our dreams.

This part is always bittersweet because inside one of the stockings, tucked deep inside the toe, are two little note cards with handwritten messages - one from me to my mom and the other to my late husband. Each was written as a tribute of sorts. The one to my mom - the Christmas just before she died and the other to my husband - my first Christmas without him. They were written only for my eyes. Before I hang the stockings I take them out, read them, cry, pour myself a second glass of wine and resume decorating. I guess it makes me feel as if in some small way - each is still somehow a part of the Christmas at hand.

I don't know if I'll get everything up this year. I'm working over 60 hours this week. And there are loose ends to be tied up at the new house. And cookies to be baked. And presents to be wrapped. And parties to attend. And stockings to be hung....

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Two Weeks Under....

In the midst of all the hustle and bustle over here (translated S-T-R-E-S-S) I managed to read a book last week! I probably wouldn't have bothered at this busy holiday time (who has time to read a book right before Christmas??) But I was asked to review it and decided why not?

Turns out it was really great book - a mystery which is always right up mY alley - and a great de-stresser to boot! It has been some time since I picked up a real "Page-turner" - you know - a book that you can't just put down in spite of all the other things in life that are vying for you immediate attention.... Not since I read "The Shack" anyway.

The book (you're dying to know, right?) was called Two Weeks Under and was written by Rivka Tadjer. One of the reasons I agreed to do the review (in the midst of all the other millions of things on my plate) was because the storyline caught my eye. Being in the perpetual state of trying to lose weight that I am - the premise of this book - which is about losing weight by undergoing a two week, medically induced coma - was enough to pique my interest. Now doesn't that sound like an easy way to jump start the old diet!

But the story is more than juSt about the weight loss gimmick. Seems that a number of middle aged women that have tried this new "diet" are committing suicide. Hmmmm.... I won't go any further than that lest I spill the beans. Suffice to say the book is great and I couldn't put it down!

If I could say anything negative it might be the sprinkling of foul language. I guess in some circles of women - dropping the F-bomb is normal. Not in it bothered me a bit. Other than that the book was terrific! It kept my interest (which is hard to do these days) and was not predictable in the sense where you figure it all out way before the characters do.

On an aside - the sub plot of the book - deals with body image - and the main character makes some startling realizations about herself and who she is - weight or no weight. Something we all might need to take to heart.

I recommend this one, guys!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Remembering My Brother-In-Law....

A few weeks ago I was contacted by a fellow blogger regarding my late brother-in-law. Actually she was the person that was instrumental in getting me to start blogging. I was googling my bother-in-law's name (he was a writer - had published a book and wrote a syndicated column for the Buffalo News here in New York.) During my search I came across his name in one of her blog entries. Seems she was an avid fan of his and was lamenting that there were no copies left of his book to be found anywhere.

I commented on her blog and we fast became friends. I faithfully read her blog and after about 6 months, decided to start one of my own. Her blog has nothing to do with weight loss but it's packed with nuggets of spiritual truth and wisdom and find it truly delightful!

Fast forward to a few weeks ago. Seems a writer for the Buffalo News was also googling my late brother-in-law's name and stumbled upon her blog. He contacted her wondering if she knew any of his relatives that he could speak with regarding a column he was putting together as a tribute. She forwarded him to me and we've been chatting back and forth via phone and e-mail these past few weeks.

Yesterday the column was printed and he sent me a link (as I don't live in Buffalo where the paper is published.) I've included this link if you'd like to read it!

In the column, "Ed" is my late husband. His real name was Pat, but his brother always used middle names to protect our privacy. The quote by "Laurie" is mine.

It was so special to see a tribute to my brother-in-law. He died almost exactly one year after my own husband's passing. I miss them both so much. How special...the written word that lives on long after we do.


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Early Morning Rambles...

The festivities went well here. I managed to entertain 18 people in a living room with no furniture. We set up two tables in there for eating (on the new rug!) where we pretty much hung out all evening - talking while the kiddies played in the family room (which does have furniture.)
Thank goodness for that Oxy cleaner stuff because my little niece (bless her heart) left a trail of cranberry sauce on the new (off white ) rug under her seat!
Last night we went to Lowe's and bought all the lighting for the new house. We also picked out the faux stone that will surround the entry way out side. So many decisions. It's fun - and it's not. The spending the money part anyway....

My eating has been horrible with a capital H. My 12 challenges have gone to the wayside and while I have only gained a pound...I know that there will be a delayed reaction coming on. I just have no real schedule these days. We eat at odd hours - often on the run and my desire to snack incessantly has been out of control. Part of me wants to just check it all and start fresh in the new year - but that's what I do every year and frankly - and it never works.

How is everyone else doing at this volatile time of year when food is everywhere and stress is abundant? Any survival tips?

I've got to get in's 6 am and I have to teach today and then be off to my overnight job at 5. This weekend I have three (yes, count 'em....three) plays to see for a graduate course I'm taking that have to be reviewed by next Thursday in the way of 4 page papers. Arghh!