family · Intentional Living

It all started with a kiss…

It was innocent enough.  My husband leaned over to kiss me goodbye as he headed out to work in the early morning.  I was editing my latest blog and trying to get it posted. So, rather than just focusing of the kiss, he also asked me to reach for his Ipad so he could pack it for our weekly trip to the lake.

The chain of events that happened next were unfortunate and frustrating.

As I leaned over and pulled up on the Ipad, the cord tipped my coffee cup which was sitting on the end table.  Got the kiss, got the Ipad and I got coffee on my laptop keyboard.

In what seemed like slow motion, I tipped my computer upside down and wiped off the little bit of coffee residue on my keypad.  It was just a little bit after all.  But of course, my computer shut down.  When I tried to turn it on, the light flickered and a hopeful sign that all was ok, “attempting recovery”….and then nothing.  A sinking feeling in my stomach.  When was the last time I did a back up to the external drive anyway?   I tried again, nothing.

I quickly made an appointment for that morning to bring my laptop to the Best Buy Geek Squad to see what they would say.  Of course they couldn’t do much there but give me a worst case scenario…”you may have to buy a new computer and we can transfer all your information over….if we can”.  I had to bite my tongue and hold back tears until I got back to the car, where I lost it.  I worked so hard to buy this computer less than nine months ago.  What if my information was gone?

So I did what anyone would do, I Googled it.

Google provided me with some bit of hope.  I took the solicited advise and sprayed air into my keyboard.  Still nothing.   So I took the next bit of advise, put my laptop away and just waited.

The waiting allowed me time to process what had happened instead of reacting to what happened.  It allowed me time to come to terms with the worst case scenario of buying a new laptop and…gulp…if I lost some of my data.   It allowed me to resolve to make another appointment with the Geek Squad on the weekend to do just that. I had come to terms with it all.

Then a funny thing happened.

My husband and I were relaxing on the newly cleaned dock at our lake house, sipping a glass of wine and recapping all the work we had done this spring to get it ready for the summer season. I was feeling pretty content, and then it creeped back into my mind…. If only the coffee hadn’t spilled on my computer.   Maybe it was the wine talking but I was feeling hopeful and said out loud, “wouldn’t it be nice if my computer would turn on and work?”

When we headed back to the house to watch Friday night Dateline, my husband grabbed my laptop and turned it on.  From across the room I saw a light, a light that did not go off.  Hope.  Hope that turned to joy and optimism.  I kept the appointment with the Geek Squad just to be safe, but as I am writing this on my laptop, I would say….all is ok.

I always learn little lessons from these unfortunate events.  How could you not?  You would think the obvious lesson was to not drink coffee and work on your laptop. Actually, though this is great advise, I wasn’t even close to the coffee, it was just a freak accident resulting from a chain of events.  The lesson is more to not do more than one thing at a time.

I should have just focused on that kiss.

And maybe do a backup more frequently.

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family · Food · Intentional Living

Traditions

With an early Thanksgiving we gained an extra week to get ready for Christmas.  I don’t know about you but I feel a little calmer and more prepared for Christmas than in years prior.  As I start to plan for our family get together I find myself reflecting a bit more on our family traditions and also reevaluating them.  Are they necessary or important? If I didn’t do something would anyone even miss it? Would I?

I started by asking my husband about his Christmas traditions growing up in rural Minnesota in a big family of ten.  

 The ones that stood out in his mind, were the opening of gifts on Christmas Eve, a big breakfast at their house after Midnight Mass with friends and family and the town priest often attending. His mom always made a duck and ham.

They would get homemade flannel pajamas from his grandma when he was younger, and of course a “taste” of Mogen David wine for all the kids.  They felt pretty special.

My traditions also centered around family gatherings.  We would go to bed early on Christmas Eve and then wake up to get ready to go to Midnight Mass.

We always opened gifts in the morning and then would pile in the car, all eight of us, and drive to my grandparents house about an hour away to spend the day with my aunts, uncles and lots of cousins.   We would have a big turkey “dinner” around noon complete with apple and pumpkin pie.   After my sisters and I did the mounds of dishes by hand, my grandpa would usually set up his reel-to-reel to show home movies. 

Grandma would pass out little glasses of ice cold apple cider and homemade caramel popcorn.  After, the kids would either play games, go outside to play in the snow or sit around and chat with each other. We then had the great Minnesota  potluck hamburger hot dish “supper” with potato chips, beans, homemade buns, ham, Jell-O and pickles.

I then asked my kids what traditions were important to them.  I was curious if my value on traditions had translated to them.  I found it pretty interesting.  Some things that I thought were definite musts weren’t even mentioned. Those that made the list were spritz cookies, chocolate covered cherries, going to a movie on Christmas day, new pajamas on Christmas Eve and handing out gifts with the Santa hat.  Why is it we do traditions anyway?

Traditions bring a sense of comfort and connection to the past.  For me it is a way to pay homage in a way to my upbringing in a large family where the value wasn’t on gift giving but rather on family and spending time together.  It was/is a way to remember my mom and dad.  We only had one TV with three channels, board games, cards and the great outdoors with lots of snow. 1966 normal year of snow in MinnesotaThere was no internet, no cell phones, no computers or distractions.   Simpler times.  The traditions were often developed and evolved over the things we did to pass the time and out of necessity.  They stuck and became tradition as a way to celebrate our heritage, our faith, our family. 

Traditions help us to “go back” and regroup or recharge.  They are an already planned event or food where  you don’t have to think about what to do, it is just something you do.  It helps us to pause and try to put the brakes on our hurried lives.

They evoke emotions.   Ask “Alexa” to put on Celine Dion’s “These are Special Times” or the Carpenter’s Christmas CD and I am instantly in the holiday mood and ready to bake or decorate.  Traditions can be songs we listen to, movies we watch, games we play, places we visit, or things we do.  My annual Christmas letter and photo has become a tradition I personally love, though some would argue against them.  It has taken different formats over the years as we moved into the computer and digital age (yes, I used to handwrite them back in the dark ages) but I find it a wonderful way to document the year that was, the good and the bad.   A journal of sorts.  This year I want to put them all in a book with our annual Christmas photos.

Is it a lot of work?  Sometimes.  Is it worth it?  That depends.  Does it bring you joy?  Does it bring others joy? If the answer to these is no, than probably not.   I think it is important to re-evaluate from time to time the traditions you have because they sometimes just aren’t practical at some point. Of course times are different.  When we were younger all of our families were close geographically.  Now we live in three states, thankfully on the same coast and still within a short days drive. But once the kids get married, have the in-laws to consider and then grandkids come along, things can get complicated.

The traditions that were once near and dear to our heart become obsolete and impossible to hold on to…just a memory.  One tradition we incorporated for several years as our kids became teenagers and young adults was to go to a movie on Christmas Day.

Though we would still love to do this, with four very young grandkids, it would be a bit challenging.  Kids grow, families grow and change and grandkids come along all giving the opportunity for a tradition adjustment.

This year will be our first Christmas Eve alone in 33 years.  I’m not sure I want to make a tradition out of that so for now I think I will do what makes me happy but in moderation.   I will make the spritz cookies for my daughters, caramel rolls (ode to mom), Italian food for our family gathering,  maybe show some of my home movies I recently converted to DVD’s or at least as much as the kids will tolerate (ode to grandpa).

I will have apple cider and caramel popcorn on hand (ode to grandma), play the game TROUBLE with my granddaughter (a game I played endlessly when younger).  Someone will wear the Santa hat to pass out the gifts.

We will still open one gift at a time to anticipate and appreciate. Traditions come and go and evolve, is what I have decided, but the important thing is that family is together to celebrate, no matter what the day. It is then that we repeat favorite foods and activities that in time will become new traditions for a new generation.

                                                             Merry Christmas!  signature.jpg

family · Intentional Living

Living Intentionally

It’s that time of year where I become very nostalgic and introspective. 

As much as I am sad that time seems to be flying by and the holidays go by just as quick, I always get a little giddy and anxious for the beginning of a new year.   For me it is a time of reflection and renewal.

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First Sunrise of 2018 and promise of a fresh start to each day!

A time to pause and take count and regroup.  A count of my blessing and accomplishments from the past year (count of the pounds I didn’t loose from my last resolution).   It’s a time to wipe the slate clean and start over with new goals and ambitions.   I have another 365 days to “get it right”.  A whole year to accomplish my long list of projects to start or complete, to be a better person, to get healthy, to live intentionally. 

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Allow time to rest and recharge

What exactly is intentional living?  It is knowing why you do what you do or don’t do what you don’t do.  It’s about taking the time to evaluate what you are doing, taking advise and example from others and take from it what works for you so you can make an informed decisions.  It’s about doing things that are important to me no matter how difficult it may be and intentionally not doing things that serve no greater purpose.

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My husband and I have a tradition on New Years Day to get together and reflect on five areas of our life:  Relationships (couple, family, friends), finances, personal growth and faith, health and projects.  My list is long as usual, but I am refreshed and energized by the possibilities the new year has to offer; our first trip to Hawaii, my youngest graduation from college, the arrival of our 3rd grandchild, a mini Minnesota family reunion in July and all the wonderful unknowns that have yet to unfold.  I love planning for the things that I know are coming but am equally excited to look back on December 31st to see what surprises this new year would have brought.IMG_0008 light

 Wishing you a beautiful new year filled with promise, excitement and wonder.  Happy New Year from my family to yours!

Denise