Tuesday, December 25, 2012

The Best Christmas Present Ever

I'm going to tell you a story. It's a Christmas story.
My Christmas story.

Four months ago, Mountain Man walked away from his dream job.
To use the words of one person who works at his former company, "The way he was treated was hideous."
It was a shock.

For the next two weeks, we walked around in a kind of stupor. We would look at each other and say, "What is going on?"
 Our plan for life was completely turned on it's head. And to be honest, we both felt betrayed, lied to, and just down right angry.

This tiny town isn't a place with a lot of opportunity. So right off the bat, we'd knew we'd have to move for Mountain Man's career, and because I can do whatever I do, where ever I am, I was o.k. with that.
I felt rage at the employer who was bringing such heartache to Mountain Man, and my kids who would be ripped from their routines, schools, and friends.

I was just mad, and sad, and then mad some more.

The weeks passed and we were jobless, down, out and a little depressed. Neither of us could see the path that we felt sure was before us.
We just knew there was one.

So what do you do when everything goes wrong?

Some people drink. Some people shoot other people. Some people pray.
I prayed.
We both did. Our friends, family and we even heard that some strangers prayed for us.

I felt their love....and this love gave me hope which swallowed up my anger, dissapointment and sorrow.

So we put our beloved, (and now fully restored) home up for sale, which broke my heart, and tried to move forward. Mountain Man put out a dozen CV's. We talked to the kids.
We cried.
They cried.
We prayed some more.

And then, like a good stew, after we put all of our wishes, desires, prayers, anger, frustration and everything else we were feeling into the pot, it all came to a rolling boil last week.

Last Wednesday, we sold our house.
Thursday, Mountain Man got a smokin' job offer beyond our wildest imaginings.
Saturday, we found a new house located in a great school district.
And the best part?
We have friends already living in the area who are like family.

The Lord is giving us safe landing once again.
Because oftentimes, I get all riled up and anxious on the journey. When I do, if I remember to take a deep breath, I feel my Father's gentle hand upon my shoulder and a quiet whisper that says, "It's all going to be alright."

Because, "He will give beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, and the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness." (Isaiah 61:3)

I don't have the proper words to describe my gratitude, but we are grateful and humbled beyond measure that He sees us out of the corner of his eye.

It was the best Christmas present ever.


"Be content with what you have; rejoice in the way things are. When you realize nothing is lacking, the whole world belongs to you." ~Lao Tzu

“We think that the point is to pass the test or overcome the problem, but the truth is that things don't really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It's just like that. The healing comes from letting there be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy. ” 
~Pema Chödrön

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Merry Happy Christmas Kwanzaa Boxing Day

From our Square Toothed/Mountain Man clan to yours:
Merry Christmas!
(And Kwanzaa & Boxing Day and Feast of Epiphany, just in case we don't talk until then...)
Yes, this is an old picture.
I'm was too lazy and un-organzied to take a new one or send out holiday cards.
...and I'm O.K. with that.
To view a current picture and to see how much our kids have grown, squint your eyes and shake your head.
And yes, since you asked, Mountain Man and I still look that young.
That's right, we have magical powers.
Now, go drink some eggnog.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Just In Case

The world didn't end today, which, quite frankly, I TOTALLY saw coming. There's too much good happening in the world, or maybe there's not enough, or maybe I just didn't get a chance to pick up my dry cleaning and I've long since believed that in one way or another, it will be on dry cleaning that the fate of the world will hang.

But just in case the world DID end today, I took some precautions:

I ate a donut for breakfast--because if today was the day, then I wanted to be filled with as much, fat, sugar and processed goo as possible so that the zombies would eat me first. Because I don't want to be around for that crazy. Eat my brains, zombies, and get it over with.

I left my bed unmade. I know there's a whole subset of humans that never make their bed, but I was hardwired (probably in the crib) to climb out of bed and IMMEDIATELY make it upon pain of shame and guilt from my mother, grandmother and every hotel maid on planet earth. However, today, I threw caution to the wind and let the tumble of sheets remain as is for the day. Take that, bed.

I didn't wash my hair. I've been growing out my hair and it's really becoming a pain to dry and style. So today, I just didn't wash it. I woke up and went to work. I look like a scary troll doll now, but if today was the last day, no one but the undead would be noticing my hair anyway...and they would just bite through it to my braaaaaaaaaaains anyway.

I was a kind and courteous driver.
No, really. I was.

Shut up, and stop laughing.

I fulfilled a bet that's been hanging over my head for a while. A couple of years ago my brother and I made a bet and I lost. I was supposed to take him out to lunch at Bajios. But before I could, it closed. So today, I found a Bajios in Portland and I went to lunch. The catch was, he was in Maryland, not Portland, but both the state of Maryland and the city of Portland end with the word "land" and that's good enough for me.
I can't help it if he didn't show up.

I sent him a picture though.

Debt fulfilled.

What did you do to prepare for the end of the world, just in case?

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

When Zombies Attack

Tis the season for peace on earth!

But apparently, not everyone's got the memo.

Take Monday night. I was standing in line at a Christmas concert when a woman (who was most likely a zombie) began yelling me, accusing me of cutting in line.

Firstly, it was a Christmas concert--peace on earth, o holy night, away in a manger, good will toward men...
Secondly, I had been standing in another line outside for an hour (with 200 other people) that wrapped half way around the block.
Thirdly, there were two lines but the yell-er hadn't realized this.
Fourth, she was probably having a bad day, because heaven knows if I got turned into a zombie right before the holidays, I'd be mad at the world too. But I can't help but wonder what it was about me that seemed to charge her so much that she just HAD to yell at ME.

Was it because she intuitively knew that I am a zombie slayer?


She yelled and yelled and carried on and on about "Cutting in line! The back of the line is back there! You just walked right in off the street blah blah blah blah blah...!"

Her behavior was appalling and rather un-Christmas-like, which is why I'm convinced she was infected even though she was quite eloquent for a zombie.

I felt I had two choices--o.k. there were probably more--but the two that came to mind were: run away, and slice her with a machete.

Neither seemed quite appropriate because I wasn't carrying a machete (I know, I know, how could I be so ill prepared?) And I didn't want to run away because I had just spent a half an hour standing in line...outside...in the cold. Also, I really REALLY don't like the slice-y part of zombie slaying which is why I try to only slay zombies with kindness instead.

Then a third option came to mind

I signed a clear and calm response to Mountain Man in American Sign Language.

And the zombie's face fell.

And Mountain Man translated my signing to her. But even he-of-the-calm-and-graceful-disposition felt put on the defensive because he translated my response to her into French.

"Je suis desole, elle est sourde. Joyeux Noel."
I'm sorry, she's deaf. Merry Christmas.

Zombie down.

How do you avoid confrontation with zombies? What do you do when strangers yell at you?

Sunday, December 9, 2012

On Receiving

Receiving is an art.  I've only met a few women in my life who do it really well.

A few years ago, I was standing in line in a grocery store and in front of me was the most beautiful woman I had ever seen.  She was in her mid-fifties, had beautiful white hair, and lots of laugh lines.  She radiated a sense of calm and peace.  As often is my case, I started speaking before thinking and I said, "Ma'am, I have to tell you, you are so beautiful!"

She turned to me and said, "Oh my goodness, no I'm not."

On the other hand, I have a friend who is just as beautiful in every way and when you pay her a compliment, she kindly says, "Thank you so much!!  You just made my day!!"

She has mastered the art of receiving--receiving a compliment sure, but whether it is a compliment or something bigger, it doesn't matter because the principle is the same: She knows how to receive.

Receiving is about having an open heart--open enough to allow others to help, comfort, care and love.  Receiving is about believing that you are worthy to be the recipient of another's kindness, another's love and another's care.

Receiving is the most graceful act we can learn in this life.  Being a fellow human being is no small thing, and each of us have the privilege to give, and to receive, the loving kindness of others during our sojourn here on earth.

You may be asking yourself,  "How can I receive?"
I say, start small.  If someone pays you a compliment, simply say, "Thank you." If your neighbor brings you dinner out of the blue say, "Thank you."  If someone cashes in their winning lottery ticket and gives you half, say, "Thank you."  (And then buy them a Rolls Royce.)

If at first you don't feel worthy to receive the gift they've given you, that's o.k.--but try to make a little room for that gift to grow in your heart.  Try to believe.

Then, and only then, can you receive.

Are you a gracious receiver?  Giver?  Which is more difficult for you?


Also, here's a beautiful talk by a man names Dieter F. Uchtdorf...if you get a chance to watch it, it is a real treat--he talks about what it means to receive at this special time of year.
Happy Sunday!

Friday, December 7, 2012

Cannibalism, an Editorial

As promised, today's post is by a very talented writer, my daughter, Straight Face. The following is her submission to her school newspaper of which she is Co-editor in Chief. 
I hope you enjoy!

Cannibalism: An editorial* 

Anthropophagy, or more commonly known as cannibalism, has been rampant for centuries.  Even today some cultures such as the Korowai and Melanesian tribes practice cannibalism. While a majority of people frown upon cannibalism they are only reflecting upon one aspect of this controversial issue. They see is as a heinous act, the desecration of a body. Though  a thorough analysis of cannibalism will prove that it is a viable alternative to traditional food.

As I was discussing the topic of my editorial with my parents they brought up the point that cannibalism is an excellent way to rid yourselves of unruly children. Some parents have been known to keep a continuous fire burning in case any children need to be skewered and roasted. Who knows? At one point I may have had an older sibling.

The population of Earth has grown vastly within the past century and continues to grow at a whopping 80 million people each year. We are similar to bunnies in that respect. Eventually we will have to move to another planet or take a less evolved course of action. Cannibalism, people. It’s the next frontier.

Approximately 56 million people die annually. The average dimensions of a grave are 8 feet by 4 feet and up to 12 feet in depth. To bury 56 million people requires a vast amount of space that is not always available.   Additionally, the cost of burying a dear one ranges between $20,000 and $100,000. This includes but is not limited to; purchasing the plot, casket, the mortician and the embalming process. Cannibalism decreases these costs drastically. If you plan to serve them up as a tasty entree, the only expense incurred are the seasonings you plan to use to flavor your deceased loved one. And maybe the gas to cook them… though I suppose you could consume them raw.

Some people may find the idea of eating a person quite perturbing. For those who are squeamish they should consider using the bodies as fertilizer on farms. This would provide bountiful harvests while sparing the stomachs of those who are morally discomforted by this proposal.

To eat or not to eat, that is the question.

* Disclaimer: I have no intention of consuming a human being anytime in the near or distant future. 

Question: How did you liven up your homework assignments when you were in school?

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Like A Boss

Do you ever just do something "like a boss"?

Whether it's decorate your house for Christmas, make a meal, complete a project at work, etc. doing in "like a boss" feels awesome.

I had one of those days today. Everything I did, I did it "like a boss." Which is strange because the majority of my focus is usually spent on not falling down.

So, I'm celebrating.
Here's a taste of what I smacked out (like a boss) today:

I made a fire--like a boss.
I woke up--like a boss.
I read the Bible (not the whole thing, which would have been waaaaaaaay more "boss-like" quite frankly, but I won't discount the few verses I did read)--like a boss.
I got dressed--like a boss.
I drove--like a boss. (You should be careful of doing this one unless your brother-in-law is a police officer and can get you out of tickets.)
I talked to my mom--like a boss. (Which, incidentally, didn't go over too well.)
I cleaned the house--like a boss.
I cleaned out the garage--like a boss. (And then I thought--who exactly is the boss here? And why don't they clean out their junk more often?)
I re-opened every box we packed to put our house on the market trying to find my Christmas piano music--like a boss.... except I completed this task quite literally like a boss, because I stood there holding packing tape while Mountain Man actually opened every box and I took credit it for it.

That counts, right?

What did you do today--like a boss??

Tomorrow I will have a special guest blogger, my 14 year-old daughter, Straight Face, who has recently written a piece for her school newspaper called, "Cannibalism. An Editorial." 
I hope you swing by to get a sneak peek before it's published! And yes, it's REALLY about cannibalism...

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

December and Time To Deck the Halls!

Happy Christmas Season to you--as well as Hanukkah which begins on Saturday!
Here's a little something to get yourself in the merry making mood:

Hope you enjoy!

What's your favorite holiday song?

Saturday, December 1, 2012

What Happens If You Try To Run Over Me In Your Big Man Truck

I really REALLY love the Christmas season. I love autumn as well, but I've never been sad to see November fade away into the twinkling lights of December. It's like the very air changes. People are a little softer with each other.

Except for yesterday.
Yesterday, I was walking downtown when this driver in a HUGE truck and trailer parked his massive machine smack dab in the middle of a crosswalk just as I was about to step off the curb.

I stopped just to make sure he wasn't planning on running over me while I was trying to cross. As I walked past him, I kind of shrugged my shoulders as if to say, "What gives, dude? You're in the middle of the cross walk."

Mountain Man and I continued on our merry way when the driver rolled down his window and yelled, "Well, you shouldn't have been walking in the street!!"

Really, dude?
Clearly, this driver was uneducated in the way of crosswalks.

So I took it upon myself to educate him.
And to be fair, there were many ways I could have gone about this.  

  • I could have just refrained--said nothing, just smiled and made my way along to my destination. 
  • I could have even given him an apologetic shrug as is to say, "Oh well, I'm choosing to not engage with your brand of crazy-town."
  • I could have even turned around and just given him one of those death-stares that I inherited from my parents that says, "Shut. It. Now." without ever uttering a word. 
  • Using an even and rational tone, I could have explained the purpose of crosswalks and how to properly respect the boundaries of pedestrians.

But did I do this, friends?
Did I?

Hell. No.

I failed.


I turned right around in the middle of the block and using the breadth and depth of my vocal training and my genetics (loud and Greek) I let him have it.

Yes I did.

When I was done, he kind of looked at me all bewildered and then just drove away.
I don't think he's ever had a "lady" rip him a new one like I did.

But what can I say?
It was still November.

When have you failed miserably at interacting with fellow humans?