My Name or Yours?

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About this time seven years ago, my divorce with my first husband became final. It was over a year in the making and was quite often difficult and contentious, as most divorces are I suppose. About half-way through the process, my husband demanded I “give him his name back”. Being a stubborn Taurus woman, as well as a Latina, I refused on the grounds that it was my children’s name and I wanted to share that name with them. So I kept it. But not for long.

Months later I changed my mind. I was in the process of redefining who I was and what was important to me. What I valued and believed in. I was in a new relationship with an old friend. He suggested that going back to my maiden name might help me get back on the path I started to make for myself when I left my home in Panama so many years ago. As is almost always the case, he was right.

Later, when we decided to marry, the question came up again. Keep my name? Take his? There really was never any doubt what I would do. Changing my name to take his would not have made me, or him, feel any more married and bound to each other spiritually or emotionally or even legally. I kept my name this time. So we each have our own name, and no one is quite sure what the right pronunciation is for either of them.

Besides, after going through all the hassle of changing it everywhere (work, emails, bank, DMV, credit cards, insurance, etc., etc.) there was no way I wanted to deal with that again. 馃檪

 

 

 

The Sunday Post: Rambling on into 2017

Ever sit down to write, knowing what you want to say, but just can’t get your thoughts organized enough to write them down in a way that makes sense to anyone else? That’s kind of where I am right now. So maybe I’ll try something different with this first post of the year: just write whatever comes to mind and worry about organizing it later. Please forgive the rambling if I don’t get around to the organizing part.

It’s New Year’s Day of 2017 and I’m feeling a bit of relief that 2016 is finally over. We survived it. There were so many struggles on various fronts, at home, at work, and out in the world at large. There’s not much I can say about the presidential election that hasn’t been said already. The huge sense of doom and loss that I felt the morning after still lingers, it’s just kind of simmering on the back burner though because there are other issues demanding my attention so they don’t boil over.

As a music fan, it was a horrible year. The hits to the gut just seemed to keep on coming all year long, and then my heart broke on Christmas Day when I heard the news that George Michael was gone as well. I was a Wham fan and then an even bigger George Michael fan. I remember my boyfriend used to tell me “You know he’s probably gay, don’t you?” That never made a difference to me. I was lucky enough to see him at the first stop in the US leg of the Faith tour in 1988. Still can’t believe he’s gone.

In 2016 Doug started playing music again, as part of the acoustic duo The Adaptations. They played about a dozen shows in town last year and hope to have the opportunity to keep at it in 2017. I’ve enjoyed being a small part of that but I’ve realized that somewhere along the way I pretty much lost track of my own artistic pursuits. I haven’t written much, and I haven’t taken my camera out to continue my pursuit of capturing “the shot”. So I need to get that back on track.

IMG_5193And speaking of getting back on track, I need to return to the healthy lifestyle track that we took a little detour from last year. 聽Now that Mother Nature seems to be taking care of the health issues that sidelined me for a little while, I need to work on shedding those extra pounds that found their way back to my body. Tracking our food seemed to make a big difference when we lost weight so I think we’ll be going back to that. We’re considering “No Beer in 2017” as a resolution, but realize that’s probably not going to last long. So maybe we’ll change that to “No Beer in the House in 2017” and see how that works (or doesn’t). I need to get back to walking, get back to doing Zumba more than just once a week. And speaking of Zumba, I’d like to thank Kyong at Wow! Dance Fit once again for being a strong force of positive energy. Kyong and her family are moving away but leaving behind them a team ready to carry the Zumba torch in Fredericksburg. We’ll miss your smile, Kyong, and wish you well in your new home.

We’ve got to move this year as well. Again. Our lease is up in six months and we don’t know where we’ll go. But we’ve started the preparations. We’ve sold some furniture we won’t need, and we’ve got more listed for sale (anyone looking for a dining room table and chairs?) which will hopefully be gone before long. We’re trying to downsize and this time actually mean it when we say we want to live a simpler life.

Jeremy graduates in June. What’s next for him? That’s the million-dollar question. I guess we’ll see.

What else should I ramble on about? I’ve covered politics, resolutions, music, weight loss, moving, graduation. There is so much else on my mind and some of it I can’t really talk about (or write about). I’m hoping that most of those things will stop being stressors this year.

I’ve got some important steps to take in the coming days, weeks, and months. Hopefully those steps will not only help me shed some real pounds, but also lighten the load on our shoulders.Here’s to lighter loads for us all in 2017 – Happy New Year!

Half Full

It seems we’ve survived the Blizzard of 2016, Snowzilla as it’s been dubbed on social media this week. I was fortunate not to have to step out into it at all. I’m not a cold weather person at all. 聽I wanted to go out and take pictures as the snow fell and then when when the sun came out again and it was so bright and shiny. But I just couldn’t make myself go out there if I didn’t really have to. Guess I’m a warm weather photographer. A warm weather person, really. As someone told me on Facebook today:

“You can take the girl out of Panama, but you can’t take Panama out of the girl.”

Today as I find myself surrounded by piles of snow I’m聽thinking that just聽over a month from now, I will be sweating instead of shivering. Not from working out (which I hope to return to before then), but because of the incredible heat and humidity that will greet me as soon as I step out of the Tocumen International Airport in Panama. Do you see a haze in the picture below? It’s not a filter or special effect. This is the first picture I took on my last trip to Panama, and my camera lens had just gone from an air-conditioned room to the warmth of my father’s back deck.

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Breakfast on the deck

Tomorrow I head back to work after spending most of the week working from home, avoiding driving while Doug was out of town in case a dizzy spell came along. But I’m feeling optimistic聽about this situation as well because the tests I went through last week found the reason for my anemia and it is something fairly common and treatable, and when I meet with my doctor again and she performs another test we can discuss the options.

I see it as half full.

So all things considered, there’s no reason to see my glass as anything but half full. 馃檪

And one extra bonus reason for feeling positive about life: there’s the beautiful sound of a guitar in my house this weekend.

Cheers!

Thanks, 2015!

If I could summarize 2015 in just a few words, I would say it was a year of opportunities. Of new beginnings.

DSC_7729Most of our children are now spread out across the country thanks to these opportunities. They are pursuing new lives and following their hearts and dreams to small towns and big cities. They are leading their adult, independent lives. We miss them terribly, but we’re so proud.

Here at home Doug seized his own opportunity for a new beginning in familiar territory. He gave up the long, miserable commute with thousands of others, in exchange for a much shorter, and friendlier, drive to workIMG_2743 (1) with me.

As for myself, I am thankful for new places to explore and photograph, new people to meet. I feel blessed to have a job I enjoy with colleagues who make it fun to go to work every day. I turned fifty this year and it wasn’t so bad, surrounded by family, friends, and so many, many flowers!

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Doug started playing music again, sticking to Open Mic at the Tavern for now, but putting himself out there and looking for the right opportunity with other like-minded musicians.

I know there are even more opportunities just around the corner. Jeremy will be eighteen next fall and the possibilities for him are endless. He just needs to figure out in which direction to go and take the first steps.

I’m taking advantage of a some extra vacation time and going to Panama to see family and take in some much-needed vitamin D courtesy of some tropical sunshine.

What else will the new year bring us? Hopefully more music, love, and laughter. And more opportunities for all of us to do what we love.

Happy New Year!

 

 

Now and Then: 2015 Review

It’s that time of year, folks. This is when many of us break out our year-end lists of what was hot or what was not. The Daily Post had some suggestions for us bloggers as we attempt to craft a post in review of 2015 so I decided I may as well join in and take a look at what my most “popular” posts were in 2015.

Once I reviewed the stats, it became obvious that my blog would be nowhere without participating in the Weekly Photo Challenges. Eight of the top 10 posts with the most views were photo challenge entries, and all the 10 most-liked posts have photos for these weekly challenges. (This does not include feedback via social media such as Facebook and LinkedIn, as I have not found an easy way to measure that — may think about creating a Facebook Page for the blog to make that easier.)

In case you missed any of them, here they are:

Top 10 posts: Views

  1. We’ve come a long way, baby
  2. Today’s Top 10 (Or What I did on my Summer Vacation)
  3. A source of inspiration
  4. Beneath your feet
  5. Red hot chili peppers
  6. Half and half
  7. My struggles as a weight watcher聽(not a photo challenge entry)
  8. Doors
  9. What’s on your mind聽(not a photo challenge entry)
  10. He loves me, he loves me not

Top 10聽posts: Likes

Afloat

Afloat

  1. Afloat聽after a spring shower
  2. Rule of Thirds Trio
  3. Just a blur
  4. Vivid
  5. Extra(ordinary)
  6. We’ve come a long way, baby
  7. Force of nature
  8. New Day, New Year
  9. Symmetrical snowfall
  10. Great day

Of course, over 70% of my posts this year were in response to a photo challenge, so the deck was pretty much stacked . There were only a handful of posts that had little to do with photography, and maybe a dozen or so Music Fridays posts (this was obviously not a strict weekly feature).

So what does that tell me? Do I need to work on my writing more? Or do I go with the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” mantra and stick to what works?

I do have a picture for this week’s challenge.聽I took this one with my iPhone as I sat at my kitchen counter yesterday morning, getting ready for a day on the couch with a book and a cup of coffee. I was supposed to be at work yesterday (and today) but my son came down with pneumonia on Christmas, so staying home and being Nurse Mom seemed like the right thing to do right now.

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Now

Maybe what I should try to do is focus on聽integrating my 聽photography with my writing, which I have tried to do in a few of my posts. Thoughts? Suggestions?

Today’s Top Ten (or what I did on my summer vacation)

When you were in school did you ever have to write an essay on how you spent your summer vacation? I’m not sure I ever did but it seems like I’ve seen multiple TV sitcoms or movies where that’s been the case. In any case, I don’t much feel like writing an essay, since I’m on vacation, but I do like making lists and lists don’t seem like that much of an imposition when you’re on vacation.

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Road trip detour to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

This year we don’t have the luxury of being able to take two weeks off and spending a week of it at the beach, nestled away in a private tropical retreat, just the two of us. We just can’t get away for two weeks in a row for starters, and our budget is much smaller this year. So instead we took a few shorter road trips to visit family and friends before Doug starts his new job next week.

Today I spent a quiet day mostly on my own and found that there’s something to be said for just hanging out at home, no place you have to be, nothing you really have to do. 聽Which leads me to this list of random things I’m appreciating today, in no particular order:

      1. Sleeping in until after nine a.m. Even on the weekends I hardly ever get to do this and I was pretty surprised when I rolled over and saw the time. This meant though that by the time I showered and made my way downstairs sometime around ten, I started to debate whether it was too late to make coffee. Of course, I decided it’s never too late.
      2. Reading in bed. This is why I ended up in bed so long. I stayed up late reading, and then picked the book up again after waking up. This only happens when I’m sleeping alone though. Doug was away on a solo overnight trip to Philly so I was on my own. The only way I can sleep by myself lately is if I have a book to keep me company.
      3. Spending half the morning (or half of the morning that I was awake at least) taking pictures for this week’s photo challenge: close up. This involved taking Doug’s cufflinks out of his dresser drawer and going outside to try to take advantage of the light. It took half the morning because I couldn’t seem to get the right angle or close enough to get the shot I was aiming for. The shot below is the one I settled for:

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        Close up

      4. Having a beer in the middle of the day. (Hey, it’s the simple things, right?)

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        A Little Sumpin’ Extra! hit the spot this afternoon

      5. Putting my apron on and listening to music while having that beer and having the time necessary for tonight’s meal of slow-braised country-style ribs with french herbs and beans, accompanied by freshly baked corn bread.

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        The beach at Clemson University

      6. Sorting through pictures from this weekend’s road trip to South Carolina and being thankful for our children and being able to spend some time with them. We only have one still living at home and the others are so scattered that it’s getting harder to spend any significant time with them. Having them all in one place has become聽a rare occurrence.
      7. Sitting in my living room listening to the rain and then watching the sun heat things back up again.
      8. Jobs. I definitely appreciate the fact that I have a job I enjoy with a company that appreciates me and one I have been able to grow with over the last twenty years. I’m looking forward to sharing that with Doug when he makes his return to the company next week.
      9. Family connections. It’s nice to hear that聽I’m thought of in good terms and with affection by people I’m no longer related to. A divorce doesn’t have to sever all family ties. I appreciate this on Doug’s side as well, where relations with former in-laws are better than ever.
      10. My husband. Can’t wait for him to get home so I can show him how much I missed him the last 36 hours and how much I appreciate him.
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Hurry up and get home!

 

What’s on your mind?

That’s the prompt many of us see on a regular basis as we reach for our smartphones or computers and check in to see what’s going in the Facebook world. Today I’m home nursing a twisted knee (the result of a mis-step getting out of my fancy, low-riding car last night) and so I’m spending a lot of time on the couch with my knee propped up, laptop at my side, phone within reach, resisting (so far) the urge to binge-watch season 3 of OITNB and trying to finish my library book instead.

But I’m easily distracted these days. I’ve been surfing the web and have found myself about to go to a specific site with a purpose in mind and as I start to type in the URL I’ve forgotten where I wanted to go. I found my way over to the Daily Post and checked out the prompts to see if maybe today I could work on my writing (I posted an entry for last week’s photo challenge — check it out!). 聽The prompt that finally led me to start a new post was the free-writing challenge to just write for ten minutes about whatever came to mind. So that brings me back to the original question:

What’s on your mind?

Since I’m a list-maker, here’s what’s been on my mind these last few days:

  • My baby girl is moving to another state! I’m happy for my daughter as she and her boyfriend are packing up and getting ready for the next chapter in their lives and I know they will do great things. I’m going to miss them though. I’m counting on Instagram, Facebook, text messaging, and even some phone calls (I hate talking on the phone!) to keep us connected. Hey maybe I’ll even write some letters. Hope she writes back!
  • My husband is coming to work with me in a few weeks! We won’t really be working together and I may not even see him much during the day, but we’ll be driving in together, going home together, and most importantly, he will be leaving behind that horrendous commute, and as my father put it, he is adding years to his life, and life back into his years.
  • My art show is coming up soon and I need to finalize my print selections (thanks to those of you who have voted and are 聽helping me choose), print and frame them, and determine a reasonable price for each in case anyone actually wants to buy one. We bought some cool, old frames at a couple antique shops that I think will make a nice display when I hang them up at the restaurant.
  • That flag. You know the one I’m referring to. It’s always been controversial and it’s even more so now after the horrible shooting in Charleston last week. I don’t really have anything wise to say that hasn’t already been said better by much smarter and more eloquent writers and speakers. It is time to take it down. At least from state and other official buildings. If you choose to display a flag that you claim is only a symbol of your southern pride and heritage, I suppose that’s your right. Hopefully everything else about you won’t indicate that you might be OK with the racist association.
  • Gun control. I watched a hilarious video the other day of an Australian comedian talking about gun control. He used humor to make so many excellent points. It’s definitely worth the 15 minutes.

What else was I going to say….oh yeah I remember now:

  • Religion. I actually have so much to say and yet I’m afraid of offending someone who may take what I write personally. I am comfortable with my own spiritually and my beliefs. I don’t like being preached to on a daily basis, however, by those who can find a passage or a line in the Bible to suit a particular (and hot-so-hidden) agenda.
  • Sexuality. It’s no one’s business, right? Gay or straight, transgender or bi-sexual, it makes no difference.聽No one, not even Caitlin despite the way-over-the-top media coverage, is asking for your approval.
  • And on a related subject, did you see this in the news the other day? Click on the picture to read the story. I love what happens next!

I think I’ve probably already reached my ten minute goal so I’ll stop torturing you with my scattered thoughts and ramblings. So back to my book and maybe by tomorrow my knee will be ready to hit the Zumba floor again. If you’ve made it this far – thanks for reading. If you have thoughts of your own on any of these subjects, please feel free to comment below. I’d love to hear what you think.

Does it really get easier?

I’m doing my best and every day it gets a little bit easier.

So it’s only Day 3 of the 30-day Loving Kindness Challenge and already I have a hard one! I have to admit I’m a little bit stumped on this one. I’ve been staring at this screen for a while, trying to decide how to approach this post.

My husband doesn’t agree with this particular affirmation, claiming that if you are really doing your best, it should get harder as you go along because you are moving forward.

I guess it depends on what it is that you are doing your best to do. In the case of losing weight, I think that if you keep doing your best every day, it gets easier. For a while. Then you reach a point where the things that were working before are not enough. In order to keep losing weight you may have to change things up a little: increase the intensity or frequency of your workouts, or change up the diet slightly or even dramatically to keep from getting bored.

If you are doing your best at work, maybe the reward for that is more work. Or a promotion with new, more challenging work. That’s not exactly easier.

But if it’s something as ordinary as writing a blog post every day, or taking a picture every day, or even writing in a journal on a daily basis, maybe it does get easier. It gets easier for the simple reason that you get in a routine; it becomes a habit.

In the case of my paella manifesto, it is getting a bit easier. I’ve tried several recipes, some very complex with many ingredients, and some a little bit simpler. What I’ve found is that my first attempt was definitely the hardest (I’m sure mostly because it was the first attempt) but alDSC_5597so, my favorite so far. It was also the recipe with more “from-scratch” ingredients and techniques, and had the most variety of seafood. So does this mean that my best wasn’t the easiest?

Now that I’ve rambled for a while and probably lost anyone attempting to read this, I really have no conclusions to offer, nor do I think that I’ve accomplished the goal of focusing on what is supposed to be my positive affirmation for today. But in the end it did get me to thinking about whether I really am doing my best. Is this post my best work? Not by any means. Did I do my best at work today or was I just going through the motions? Did I do my best to work out hard in my Zumba class tonight?

Today’s affirmation may not have succeeded in making me feel great about myself, but I think it did cause me to evaluate how I do everything I do every day: to take stock of the level of effort I’m exerting. The truth is I haven’t always tried my best. So tomorrow is another day, right? I’m going to give “my best” another shot. I’d better take my vitamins.