Saturday, May 21, 2016

May Flowers

Nothing like two sweet daughters remembering me with tulips and chocolates, dinner and a movie for Mother's Day! I felt spoiled rotten. 

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Me Bloomin' Journey!

 

It's March and I've been remiss in keeping up with my beloved blog here! It is something close to my heart -- like an old friend, a diary sorely in need of a dusting off, a pen yearning to be dipped in the ink well again -- and I've missed it.

2016 started off with a walk on the beach in Carmel, and a minor life change. I had just celebrated another birthday in December and had begun mulling over retirement in a few short years. Wanting to ensure I was well situated for retirement, able to always be there for my daughters, able to enjoy life freely, I had started mulling over various second income possibilities. I considered going back into real estate. Still have my license, though it has been inactive for over a decade and a half. No, too much dressing up, competition, and worry about lonely open houses. I have done private speech therapy for the last few years, but when my full time school district job required long after school meetings, I decided that was not fair to my clients this year. I didn't want to have to call and tell them I would be late again or worse -- need to reschedule. The more I contemplated, the more I decided it needed to be a home-based business I could fit into the nooks and crannies of my own life and existing schedule. I began praying, observing other people's options, googling.

Then serendipity happened. I ran out of eye cream....  Gotta have my eye cream. I looked at my counter full of products -- cheap drug store items, expensive department store name brands. None of it was doing me any good. The crows feet continued to march more aggressively around my eyes. My skin still looked dull. A good friend of mine from junior high school had started posting on FB that she was now a consultant with Rodan+Fields.  I had no idea who they were, but I trusted this friend. She is a woman of integrity, active in her church, very health conscious, and had been one of the shyest and most introverted students in our class. I figured if she was willing to leave her comfort zone to share about these products, they must be good. So I called her and said, "Carmen, I want to try some of your eye cream!"

Long story short ~ not only did I fall in love with the products, I fell in love with the business, and am now a consultant myself! Turns out I HAD heard of Rodan+Fields. Dr. Katie Rodan and Dr. Kathy Fields are the same dermatologists that created ProActiv -- yes, that world famous product that became a household name and changed acne-sufferers' lives! It changed my daughters' lives! Turns out Drs. Rodan and Fields have gone on to create a line of anti-aging products with four main regimens designed to address the four things they most commonly see in their busy dermatology practices: skin sensitivities and redness, adult acne and scaring, sun damage and brown spots, and wrinkles, fine lines, and enlarged pores.My own skin was transformed in a couple of weeks and has continued to improve daily. The regimens involve using the right ingredients in the right amount and in the right order. Stunning results.

So now you know where I've been for the last two and a half months -- trying out products and launching my business. And of course I believe that even something as practical as sharing good skin care deserves an elegant touch:

Part of this journey has involved tremendous personal growth! I've been stepping out of my comfort zone, reaching out to people, learning, sharing. It has been wonderful! I never realized how stuck I was in concerning myself with what other people may think, how much fun it is to share with other people, and how peeling back the layers of confidence I never knew I had is so freeing! It's like taking a personal development course and I realize I am a much more confident person today than I was on New Year's Day! As an added benefit, not only have Carmen and I been getting together more regularly again, but I've become friends with some amazing people across the country!

While I have been having an absolute ball with this business, I have stopped to smell other roses in the garden! Carmel has beckoned me for walks on a regular basis. My girls and I have celebrated birthdays and career advancements. Lunches and get togethers with friends have been sweet. Reading, playing with my pets, and genealogy digging are still weekly passions.

I feel incredibly blessed. Life is a wonderful journey!

Friday, December 25, 2015

Merry Christmas!

 
Merry Christmas! It's 4:00 am here in California and I'm awake, probably a habit from many years of beating my kids to their stockings on Christmas morning so there would be a few trinkets inside when they peeked. Now they are grown, though still slumbering in their childhood rooms, visiting me for the holiday.

In the last week I've heard a couple of people mention a lack of usual Christmas spirit this year. Perhaps it is partly due to the times we live in. So much horrible news, harshness and selfishness in this world, a decline of kindness and even every day courtesy and respect. It's enough to make one feel helpless, overwhelmed, and broken-hearted for mankind.

"And in despair I bowed my head:
'There is no peace on earth,' I said,
'For hate is strong and mocks the song
Of peace on earth, good will to men."

However, I have a friend who told me that she and her husband made a pact that whenever they heard of someone experiencing pain or of some calamity on the news, they would counteract it by doing a random act of kindness -- big or small. What a wonderful way to live. I may add that to my list of  new year's resolutions! We may not be able to change the world, but we can soften it for those within our reach.

"Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:
'God is not dead, nor doth he sleep;
The wrong shall fail, the right prevail,
With peace on earth, good will to men."
~ from I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day 
by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 

Yesterday I had the house to myself for a couple of hours. The rain was softly falling against the window panes, the kitchen was filled with the aroma of baking apple cake, and I was putting the last few bows on presents, when I recognized a sense of peace. The world may feel like it's spinning out of control, but God has blessed me with health and loving daughters, a home to care for, a decent job. And in that moment I knew that was what the Christmas spirit was all about -- a simple sense of peace, pushing the pause button on life and enjoying in slow motion the moments we have today.

May you feel a sense of peace for all your blessings this Christmas!

"For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace."
Isaiah 9:6


Jesus is the reason for the season!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Christmas Time on Cannery Row

Sunday was my birthday and it was delightful! For one thing, both of my daughters came down for the day. We went to Cannery Row in Monterey and had lunch at Bubba Gump's, then walked around enjoying the scenery.

John Steinbeck is one of my favorite authors and he wrote a novel based on life in Cannery Row's early days. His bust is immortalized in "Steinbeck Plaza" there.
Now there is another statue there. Dedicated in Feburary 2014, this large work (too large, according to critics) has Steinbeck sitting on the top of the rock and his friend marine biologist Ed Ricketts on the bottom (a prominent figure in his book). Other figures are reminiscent of the area's busy sardine canning days. Someone decided to dress them for the holidays with red Santa hats.
Clouds were rolling in by the time we left, and we've had rain for the last two days -- much needed here in California. We saw "Star Wars" at Del Monte Center's theater, then went home for chocolate fudge cake. My girls know how to make my birthday special!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Celebrating the Season in San Francisco

 "City sidewalks, busy sidewalks,
Dressed in holiday style,
In the air there's a feeling of Christmas!"

That was the song playing in my head as I spent the weekend with my daughters in San Francisco this weekend. We began with dinner out, then Christmas movies in our pj's Saturday night, for some cozy catch-up time. Who needs a real fireplace when you can set the Christmasy mood on TV via Netflix, complete with crackling and popping sounds?
Sunday morning arrived in a rainy, blustering fashion, but we made our way downtown to the Hyatt to enjoy their beautiful display... or so we thought.
 The Ferry Building across the street matched the gray skies.
 We were glad to get out of the rain and into the lobby.

To our disappointment, however, the lobby was undergoing renovations and there were just a few decorations and the large Christmas tree at the top. So after grabbing hot drinks and bagels at Starbucks across the street, we got back in the car and drove to Golden Gate Park's Museum of Natural Science. Now we were in for holiday treats!

We knew we were in the right place when we walked through the front doors 
to face a dinosaur skeleton surrounded by giant snowflakes!
 
 We entered the first exhibit hall and were greeted by carols playing, 
snow flurries falling around us, and a big snowman theater!
 Hands-on educational exhibits about reindeer lined the glass walls...
 ...and outside were two beautiful live reindeer -- Frosty and Holiday. 
My, what big antlers you have, Frosty!
 
 We learned a lot about reindeer. 
As hard as those antlers are, they feel velvety soft to the touch!

 We also enjoyed the penguin display with several adorable penguins.
This one kept everyone entertained by getting right up to the edge, but never quite taking the plunge.
 We decided he knew exactly what he was doing!
 
 The rain forest is a favorite exhibit, with many tropical animals and butterflies!
 
 With temperatures in the 80's, we were shedding our coats 
as we advanced the walkway up three floors, through the forest.
From there we descended to the aquarium with the tunnel 
that allows huge fish to swim over your head.
 By the time we left, the rain had lifted.
"Soon it will be Christmas Day!"

Saturday, December 5, 2015

A Christmas Tea

Time for a little Christmas ambiance!


  
Sometimes the hustle and bustle of the holiday season is softened when we take time out to pamper ourselves a little or reflect on the true meaning of Christmas. Last night I was treated to both as I attended a Christmas Tea! 

It was an evening arranged by the women's ministry at my church, and the tables were decorated with all the things we girls like: crystal, china, Christmas trees, lights, and cute treat bags with gingerbread cookies and chocolates. Each round table was set up by a "china hostess," who signed up to bring eight place settings of china and tea cups, glasses, a tablecloth, and whatever else she wanted to provide to make the table extra pretty and her table mates feel special. Anyone could reserve a table to hostess as the china hostess. Such a lovely idea! Wasn't our china pattern beautiful?
Look at the gorgeous lights and decor! 
I loved the white chest of drawers with the Christmas trees and decorations!

 So clever -- crates arranged in the shape of a tree...
 ...each filled with lovely winter themed objects, crystal or baubles!
 
Trays of food were brought to our tables for a light supper. Canapes, tart-sized quiches, sweet muffins, chicken wraps, and tiny chocolate eclairs, were all so savory. We sang carols, were entertained by a funny skit, and were serenaded by a guitarist who told the Christmas story in song.

   We all left filled with the Christmas Spirit!

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Every Day Should Be Special

Thanksgiving was full of moments to savor this year. We started Wednesday evening when my daughters and Ash's boyfriend Rob arrived, all in a festive mood to enjoy one another's company. I prepared a few ready to eat foods, from a crock pot full of sweet and sour meatballs, to cheeses and crackers, and fruit and nut salad.... Since everyone was arriving at different times, this allowed nibbling on hot and cold dishes of whatever appealed to them as they walked through the door. Later we had a wonderful time visiting over the delicious pecan pie Rob brought. Then we got up Thanksgiving morning, put the turkey in the oven, and my daughters and I divided up the cooking jobs. Everyone made a dish or two of our family favorites. As we sat around the table, I couldn't help but remember all the people who had sat at that table in the past, eaten off those plates, and drank sparkling cider from those goblets. I'm so grateful for these people who have been a part of my life, past and present!

Later that night as we ate our pumpkin and pecan pies, I decided it was silly to keep these dishes for such infrequent use. From now on these pretty plates will come out for birthdays, job promotions, and any other special life moments. Do you have "good china" that you're ready to enjoy more often than on the holidays?

We  took a drive to Carmel-by-the-Sea after dinner, stopping at the cemetery with a bouquet of flowers. We enjoyed movies that evening,  and games last night, before everyone headed home.

The girls asked if I wanted help decorating for Christmas while they were home, but I just wasn't ready to move into the Christmas decor yet. I wanted to savor one more weekend of the autumn decor, the rustic fall colors, that feeling of gratitude in the air. So it will wait another week, or at least another day. Hope you had a blessed Thanksgiving!