My Alphabet of Songs – U

You thought I forgot, huh?  I haven’t finished my Alphabet!  But here I am again — with some “U” songs.   You can see my earlier Alphabet posts here.  Without further ado, here’s my list! Enjoy!

  1. Uptown Funk by Mark Ronson with Bruno Mars – what a fun song.  I can put this on repeat and just groove. Mark Ronson is a DJ and music producer; he’s the dude with purple socks. The Hooligans are Bruno’s backup band.
  2. Undun by The Guess Who – My favorite one from the Guess Who. I think Burton Cummings is a very talented musician.  I can put this one on repeat, too.
  3. Up on the Roof  by the Drifters – we had this 45.  I love the Drifters!
  4. Uncle Albert/Admiral Halsey by Paul McCartney and Wings – this is a fun one. Butter Pie? The butter wouldn’t melt, so I put it in the pie!
  5. Under the Boardwalk by the Drifters – this is a great feel-good song. Who doesn’t know the chorus?
  6. Under My Thumb by The Rolling Stones is Mick at his misogynistic best. One of my favorite Stones tunes.
  7. Uptown Girl by Billy Joel – Billy Joel is one of my weaknesses, or maybe it’s grease monkeys… Christie Brinkley sure is gorgeous, isn’t she?  They really were an odd couple.
  8. Under My Skin by Frank Sinatra – I know that technically this song is titled “I’ve Got You Under My Skin,” but I really wanted to put it in the list. Sing it, Frankie!
  9. Under the Sea from The Little Mermaid – just a fun, cheerful little song that makes you think you’re in the Bahamas sipping on something tropical with a little umbrella sticking out of it…
  10. Under Pressure by Queen and David Bowie – a good matchup. Two of my favorite singers. Sampled by Vanilla Ice for Ice Ice Baby.
  11. Up Up and Away by The 5th Dimension – I remember this from my childhood. Back in the time when so much of the music on the radio was happy, maybe to keep our mind off of the war in Viet Nam…
  12. Unpretty by TLC – One of the things I liked most about TLC was the empowerment message in so many of their songs.
  13. Unforgettable by Nat King Cole – what a voice. Just like silk. I really like the duet version that his daughter Natalie did with him.

There you go.  I’m almost to the end of the alphabet. Hope you enjoyed listening!

 

 

photo credit william brawley

I Am Awesome. And So Are You.

I am!!!

Inspired by my lovely niece, who was in turn inspired by her lovely friend, today’s post is a celebration of what I love about myself.

Normally, I’m not one to point out my strengths or qualities. Like (I would suspect) most of us, I tend to dwell on my weak points and foibles. I’m quick to rattle off a list of those: I’m a klutz, I’m a dork, I’m lazy, I’m a little slow on the uptake. I think we all do that – we’ve rehearsed the list all our lives, until it becomes a common bond that we can share with someone else. Instead of being a humble confession, it becomes almost vanity, a point of pride to be ‘worse’ than other folks. “You think that’s stupid? Well, let me tell you about when I cut the miniblind cords off because they were too long!” (True story.)

So today I step out of that comfort zone of self-deprecation and admit that there are some good – nay, great – things about me, things I’m proud of that make me happy. I’m awesome, and I’ll give you ten reasons why.

  1. My brain. I was lucky to be a bright child – quick to learn and understand. I did well in school, earning scholarships and accolades, and my parents always encouraged me to think and absorb the world around me. As a result, I have confidence that there is nothing I can’t learn or teach myself. I especially love that ‘aha’ moment when a concept clicks and all those neural traces connect – I love being able to relate something new to something I already know. I love how my brain can stow bits of trivia and then retrieve them at the most unlikely moment. The brain is a magnificent organ, and I only wish I had enough time to learn everything I want to know.
  2. My sense of humor. Each of my parents had an offbeat, upbeat sense of humor. They did silly things and taught us to see the humor inherent in life. All of my siblings and I possess that same quality, and I firmly believe that is a very strong part of the bond that connects us. When I’m amused, you know it. I love to laugh, and I love to make other people laugh, too. I love to clown around and crack wise; like my niece said, the world is sad enough as it is. Let’s have fun!
  3. I root for the underdog. Pa once told me that I had a strong sense of fairness and a lot of moxie (which, by the way, is one of my favorite words). I have always cherished his assessment. It’s important to me to stand up for what’s right, even when it’s unpopular, and to champion the little guy. It’s who I am.
  4. I’m authentic. There is no pretense with me. What you see is what you get. Like Popeye, I Yam What I Yam. Heck, I don’t even color my hair or wear makeup. I’m just plain old me, and if you like that, great. If you don’t, well…<shrug>.
  5. I’m compassionate. I’ve had some rough spots in my life, and I have come out on the other side with a renewed sense of kindness and understanding for others. While I don’t consider myself a ‘bleeding heart’ with exaggerated sympathies, I do care a great deal about people and try to be considerate and compassionate. Sometimes it’s hard to be kind, but I’m always trying.
  6. I’m quirky. My medical history is populated with strange events and afflictions. My running joke is that because my mother was a week shy of 37 when I was born, my oddities are a direct result of her ‘old eggs.’ So, I laughingly told her that my hypermobile joints (double-jointedness), inner ear disorder, migraine cluster headaches, third set of front teeth, missing wisdom teeth, mismatched vision (one far-sighted eye, one near-sighted eye), and other physical quirks are because her eggs were past their pull date. But that’s the stuff that makes me, me.
  7. I can write. Ever since I can remember, I have been in love with words. I love to read, and I love to write. I have always been able to express myself in writing, and I’ve been able to use this gift to help other people over the years. I believe my friend’s assertion that ‘everyone has their own talent,’ and while I would love to be able to draw or sculpt or bake or craft, I am content to have been given the gift of writing.
  8. I’m a spoiler. I will go the extra mile to do something special for people I love. I used to put notes in my kids’ school lunches to let them know I was thinking about them. I enjoy spoiling Mr. Stuck. I have a soft spot for the elderly, especially little old men. I will go out of my way for you, just because.
  9. I have great hair. I’ve always loved my hair, except during my adolescence, when, try as I might, the Dorothy Hamill bob and Farrah Fawcett look escaped me. Once I came to terms with that, I’ve been happy with it. Long or short, it was thick and healthy, with its own waves and cowlicks and a very pronounced widow’s peak. Like me, it has a mind of its own, doesn’t care for the muss and fuss of curling irons and hair spray, and is at its best when left alone. It’s greyer and thinner now, but I still love it.
  10. I have a great smile. I used to have a gap between my front teeth. It was handed down through the generations on my mother’s side, and several of my sisters and their kids also have gaps. Mine was huge – I used to joke about being able to floss with a tow rope. Getting braces and a permanent retainer eliminated that gap, but I still love my smile. When I am happy, there is no mistaking it: apple cheeks, bright eyes, and a big, wide grin with my whole mouth.

It took me a while to come up with this list, and I changed my mind a few times. I wasn’t even sure if I could find ten whole things. But I’ve looked it over, and I am satisfied.

Now, a few things I need to work on:

  1. Patience. I’m just not very good at it, especially when I get behind the wheel.
  2. Procrastination. Unfortunately, I’m an expert in putting things off. Like blogging.
  3. Follow-through. I’m a great starter, but a not-so-great finisher. I get bored too easily and switch gears. I need to learn to see things through to completion, whether it’s a book I’m reading or organizing my closet. Or blogging.
  4. Judgment. I struggle with being too judgmental. It is something I work on every day. I think it comes from being judgmental toward myself and then spreading the misery. Ugh. Let me apologize in advance.
  5. Self-control. I have long said that I can resist anything but temptation. I have the ability to talk myself into and out of just about anything, especially if it’s not good for me. My overdeveloped conscience helps me behave most of the time, but too often, the devil on my shoulder wins out.

you are awesome

Now, I’d like to invite you to tell me at least one thing you love about yourself. We spend so much time being critical that we often forget to celebrate our wonderful individuality. Learning to love that unique, amazing person in the mirror is another step toward being healthy and happy!

So let’s hear it!!

 

photo credit: parker yo!  and torley

This Is What She Wants Most.

It isn’t much, she reasoned.  I mean, it’s not as if anyone has to pay for it.  Not really. 

It was Grandma who gave her the idea.  Grandma, who proudly called herself a groovy chick, had a lot of ideas.  She liked to think about things.  Being with Grandma meant lots of thinking, and talking, about Things.  Grandma always told her, “Use your noggin.”  She wasn’t sure exactly what a “noggin” was, but she figured Grandma was telling her to think.

So she did.

She stayed awake all night thinking about it.  The more she thought, the more she had to think.  She sharpened a pencil to a fine point and scratched some words in a spiral-bound notebook.  Then she smiled a satisfied smile and went to sleep.

Her eyes flew open at the sound of Grandma calling the chickens for their breakfast.  “Bawwwk-bawk-bawk,” the woman sang, and the birds came running.  She pulled the curtain to watch.  She admired her grandma for keeping her promises.  That was one thing she could always count on: if Grandma said she’d do something, she’d do it.

When Grandma came back to the house, she found one very excited little girl.  “Grandma,” she said, “I thought about what we talked about all night, and I have an idea.”  She sat at the kitchen table while her grandmother washed up and put some water on for tea.  The girl continued.  “Remember when we were talking about what makes people sad and what makes people happy?  And you said that sometimes it takes very little to make people happy?  Well, then I was thinking about what I could do, and I wanted to ask you something.  Do you think we could do it together?  You and me?”

“Do what, honey?”  said Grandma as she set out the cups.

“Make people happy, Grandma.  You and me.”

“What do you have in mind?” the woman asked kindly.

“Well, I have to find out what they want most and then give it to them.”  She said it with a child’s earnestness.  “Will you help me?”

“Of course, sweetheart.  Now drink your tea.”

 

****************************

The above was inspired by a book that was given to me not long ago, called 642 Things To Write About, by The San Francisco Writers’ Grotto.  It is just as it says – a book of 642 writing topics.  Interestingly, it was written in one 24-hour period, from one person’s idea, but it is a collaborative effort.  It is inspired, it is terrific, and I really appreciate the gift!  You’ll see more of these topics pop up as time goes by. 

 

 photo credit: Keoni Cabral

 

 

More Adjustments.

ring1
Pardon the alligator skin, but the rings fit now!

So a big part of this whole journey I’m on, post-surgical and all that, is making those changes that will enable me to live a healthier life.  I am learning to exchange a bad habit for a good one.  There are discoveries along the way, as you can imagine.  Here’s what I’ve recently thought about:

I have come to a workable routine with my medication that must be crushed.  I just put the powder in water rather than try to disguise it in some kind of food such as applesauce or pudding.  I’d much rather toss it back that way than ruin the flavor of something I would otherwise enjoy.

Omeprazole (Prilosec), which decreases the acid my stomach produces, is my new best friend.  Next to my surgeon, that is, because he said I could take my Meloxicam for my poor aching thumbs, as long as I continued the omeprazole.  Yay, me!

I would not recommend having this surgery during the holiday season unless you avoid parties like the plague.  Standard fare at holiday parties, in my experience, is not post-surgical-tummy-friendly.  And it shouldn’t be — these are the parties of excess, with rich cheeses and meats, delectable baked goods, and mountains of veggies and chips for dipping.  This is the food you mindlessly sample every time you walk past.  At least, that’s what I used to do.  This year, I kept away from the kitchen to avoid the temptation.  But I did have a deviled egg, some flakes of smoked salmon (perfect melt-in-your-mouth texture), and a few small cubes of soft cheese.  Thank God.  What a treat, especially after so long on liquids!

Mmmm…deviled eggs!
photo credit jeffreyw

As I sat in the living room or wandered outside during these parties, I thought about how much we center our social lives around food.  I will have to learn how to socialize without food and alcohol, and even coffee, to some extent.

I thought about how eating such a small amount forces me to choose what I want the most; I have to get used to throwing away uneaten food.  Having been raised not to let food go to waste, and having admonished my children not to be wasteful, this is a very difficult change for me.

It will take some time to get used to estimating how much (or little) to cook for me and the Mister.  My mind’s eye is still calibrated to a family of 4 with two teenagers and a couple of overeating parents.  My spaghetti sauce overflows the skillet; my estimation of how much pasta to cook always results in too much.  I never learned how to cook for two; even when we were first married, I was cooking like I’d seen my mother cook: for a family.

I went to the store for a few things and ended up with three pounds of bacon and nearly as much chicken breast.  Now, the chicken will be made into soup or stew, but why did I buy that much bacon?  Old habits die hard, I guess.

But in other, more exciting news, I am finally able to fit into my wedding rings again!  I can’t recall when I was last able to wear them, but I’m sure it’s been at least 3 years.  So I took them to a jeweler for a check and cleaning and now they sparkle like new.

Yes, I missed piling my plate with the sausage, the raw veggies, the lasagna, the sandwiches, the prime rib roast, and even the BLT salad at these parties.  I missed the pie, the pickles, and the wine.  But I look at my rings and I am SO HAPPY — and that is so much better.

 

 

The Crinoline.

When I was a kid, one of my favorite pastimes was dressing up in the treasures I found in the Costume Box.  The Costume Box was a large cardboard box, about half as tall as I was, stuffed with dress-up clothes and the remnants and makings of past years’ costumes. There was a little bit of everything in that box. 

Digging through the Costume Box was a lot like shopping at the thrift store; the clothing even had that same musty smell.  There were rips and stains, broken zippers, missing buttons, and worn-out elastic.  But that didn’t matter, because inside that box lay nearly infinite potential.  Inside that box were dancers and witches and hobos and ghosts and loggers and eccentric old aunties; monsters and princesses and soldiers and cowboys and even the Devil himself.  The only limit was our imagination.

One of my favorite finds in that box was an itchy crinoline slip with a torn seam.  In their younger years, my parents had been members of a square dancing club, and my brother and eldest sister also danced.  This was way before my time, but I’d seen photos of them in their finery, and I loved the look of the stand-out slips under the full skirts. I would shimmy into that crinoline and spin around until I was dizzy.  It made me feel like a princess.

When my middle school gym teacher announced that we would be learning to square dance, I begged Mother to make me a square dance skirt.  I pictured myself in a fancy skirt that swished as I swung through a do-si-do.  I just knew I would be the best dancer in the whole class, because I would have the best outfit. 

Mother made me a lovely circle skirt of blue gingham check.  When I tried it on with the crinoline I was so happy!  It was gorgeous, and I couldn’t wait to dance in it.  I would have slept in it, if Mother had let me.

The day we were to begin square dancing in gym class, I proudly donned the skirt and crinoline and a white, peasant-style blouse.  Mind you, I was probably eleven years old and not fully acquainted with what was ‘cool’ and what was not.  (I’m still like that.)  By the time I arrived at school, the kids on the bus had conveyed to me in no uncertain terms that my beautiful skirt and itchy slip were most definitely not cool.  I tried to ignore their laughter, but they weren’t the only ones; many other kids were happy to inform me, as well. 

I arrived in class with my spirit dampened and my enthusiasm trampled, but I still looked forward to dancing.  My teacher, bless her heart, complimented me on my outfit, encouraging me to stand and twirl to show it off.  She then had me demonstrate some of the moves we would be learning, which effectively silenced my critics and allowed me to salvage some tatters of my pride.

I never wore that skirt to school again.  The memory of the ridicule still stings a little.  Before long I outgrew it, and it was forgotten with the other clothes that were now too small for my awkward, adolescent body.  I like to think the skirt made its way to the Costume Box to join the crinoline, but I don’t know for sure. 

Perhaps it went to the Salvation Army so some other little girl could feel like a princess in an itchy crinoline and twirly skirt.  I can only hope.

Thanks, Mom.

 

photo credit Pink Sherbet Photography (D Sharon Pruitt)