Thursday, December 31, 2009

Ten Years …

From college student living at home, to graduate on her own, to wife sharing her life: Thank you, Decade, for the gift of time.

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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

One Holiday at a Time

I got multiple texts from my dad today. He is trying to figure out what to give up for Lent. Top choices include booze, cookies, ice cream and cheese. Ash Wednesday isn’t until February 17. I still have New Year’s and Valentine’s to get through.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Lucky Me

I forget so easily my good fortune in life and, at times, I am frustrated to the point of tears. Then today, I have two conversations with two complete strangers both wanting something I have. The first was with a 65-year-old man who, after years of hard work and even some financial success, desperately needs a job. The second was with a 29-year-old woman who, despite all her best effort, feels lost when looking for love.

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Monday, December 28, 2009

To Be Young …

Him: “What happened to all that wisdom and insight?”
Me: “It was based on youthful ignorance.”

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Sunday, December 27, 2009

Paradise’s End

The Sunday night at the end of a four-day holiday weekend spent with my family is a sad, sad thing.

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Saturday, December 26, 2009

After Christmas Miracle

Yesterday, my computer froze up, crashed and then repeatedly failed to reboot. I wasn’t sure if it had been attacked by a virus, was mechanically malfunctioning or if it had just decided to take the day off for Christmas. Staring at a blank screen, I decided not to worry about it. I decided not to let it ruin my holiday. If the machine was dead, there was nothing I could do. And I had already done everything I knew how to do. I had the fleeting inclination to scour newspaper ads for day-after-Christmas sales, but I let the impulse pass and carried on enjoying time with my family. Today, a friend fixed my ailing laptop in two minutes. I'm happy I don't need to find a replacement, but the real miracle was not worrying about something I had no control over.

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Friday, December 25, 2009

Saturated

Feeling soaked through with love and hoping your Christmas left you feeling the same. 

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Second Surprise Visit

I must have been a very good girl this year. Last week, Sheila showed up for lunch. Tonight, my brother Joseph, who lives in Florida and was not expected home for Christmas, arrived at my parent’s house just in time for dinner. Merry, merry Christmas to us! And a very, very happy Christmas to you!

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Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Musically Declined

Tonight John suggested I start a band called “Christina and the Tone Deaf Noise Makers.”

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Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Joy to the World

I usually sing this song loud and off tune on my walk home from Christmas Mass. It makes me happy. So, this year, I decided not to wait until Christmas. There is more to this song, but I only have the first verse memorized.

Joy to the world! The Lord has come;
Let earth receive her King;
Let every heart prepare him room,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven and nature sing,
And heaven, and heaven, and nature sing.

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Monday, December 21, 2009

Shop Happy

“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world, and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.” ~Norman Vincent Peale

This is true unless you are at the mall.

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Sunday, December 20, 2009

Shortcut to Homemade Goodness

It’s a stretch to call these muffins “homemade.” But they’ll make your kitchen smell like pumpkin and spice, and the prep time is only 5 minutes. That’s my kind of baking. Thank you, Cindy Costa at Allrecipes.com.

Easy Pumpkin Muffins
Ingredients:
• 1 (18.25 ounce) package yellow cake mix (I used carrot cake mix)
• 1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin puree
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Grease a 12 cup muffin pan or line with paper liners.
2. In a large bowl, mix together the cake mix, pumpkin puree, cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves until smooth. Spoon equal amounts of batter into the prepared muffin cups.
3. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes in the preheated oven, until a toothpick inserted in the center of one comes out clean.

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Saturday, December 19, 2009

Ready for a Miracle

My internal soundtrack is on repeat and the only lyrics I’m hearing are these: “Are you ready for a miracle? As ready as I can be!” The next week will be shear madness, but what are we preparing for if not a miracle? And I don’t just mean the miracle of Christ’s birth some two thousand years ago. I mean being ready, really ready, for a miracle today. The more I think about God becoming man and being born to a Virgin in Bethlehem, the more I’m convinced anything is possible.

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Friday, December 18, 2009

Sweet Dreams

“... the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream …” ~Matthew 1:20

I’m reminded that whether we are sleeping or awake, God speaks to us in our dreams.

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Surprise Visit

My first Christmas present showed up today in the form of my dear friend Sheila. I said I wanted December to be joy filled, and that’s what Sheila brings in abundance. I see lots of girl talk and giggling in my near future.

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Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Vulnerable is Beautiful

It seems to me vulnerability is a magic key to soul-deep connections, to true intimacy.
Yesterday, I had two conversations with friends that touched on just that. Today, I found Rachel Maddox’s sweet, true story, “Vulnerable is Beautiful.”
A little love letter from her to you and me.
Watch the video. Check out the book.

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Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Just As I Suspected

Nothing happens by chance. Which means everything happens for a reason. Which might even mean everything is exactly as it should be. Now, doesn’t that feel better?

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Monday, December 14, 2009

Countdown

Today was supposed to be the busiest day of the year for the Postal Service. This is just further evidence that I’m way behind. Or maybe I’m ahead for next year.

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Sunday, December 13, 2009

Make Your Requests Known

“Have no anxiety at all, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, make your requests known to God.” ~Philippians 4:6

Just a few days ago, I told John I was lodging all my complaints with God. During my prayer, I’ve been making sure God knows everything I’m unhappy about. Today, St. Paul reminds me to include everything I’m thankful about, too.

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Saturday, December 12, 2009

San Francisco Adventure

It's hard to name a favorite part.
I love the Christmas decorations. Every window of Macy's is adorned with a wreath. I love the ice skaters in Union Square, especially the ones almost frozen with fright but daring to skate anyway.
I'm totally in love with the idea of transforming a bathtub into an aquarium, a la Fabric8. Which by the way, we stumbled upon only because we were tracking down the Creme Brulee Cart. To me, finding him was the equivalent of meeting a celebrity.
And then there is holding hands in the rain. How could I almost forget? That is, by far, my favorite part.

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Friday, December 11, 2009

Tick Tock

I’m getting ready to head out the door for a weekend of work and play in San Francisco. This sort of mini-adventure with John usually makes me giddy with delight. But I’m fighting a cold, and it is supposed to rain, and the Christmas cards I wanted to send out last Friday have yet to be done, and a bunch of stuff I usually ignore around the house is making me crazy, and nothing is decorated, and I just don’t know if there is enough time left to enjoy the holidays even though it’s only December 11.
And the list could go on, but the point is this: There is always an excuse not to be happy if we don’t choose to be happy.
So me and my head cold and my new red coat are going to San Francisco where we will most likely get soaked in rain, but I will get to hold hands with that darling husband of mine and, really, nothing makes me happier than that.

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Thursday, December 10, 2009

Holiday Treats

Chocolate chips keep making their way into our home.
Poor things. None of them make it out alive.

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Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Data Hog

AT&T wants customers to use less wireless data, and John says it’s my fault.

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Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Salve Regina

I didn’t expect the most rockin’ rendition of Hail Holy Queen to bring me to tears. But the band slowed to ballad pace for this line alone: “And when our last breath leaves us, O Maria! Show us thy son Christ Jesus.”

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Monday, December 7, 2009

Wolves Watch Out

It’s past 10 p.m., and I just got home. Why? Because I was at the mall. Actually, I was at two malls and one shopping center if you can believe that. John was quite insistent I stop dressing like a homeless person in my 6-year-old, ratty winter coat. So now I have a new coat from Macy’s purchased at the extraordinary deal of less than half the original price. It’s red with a hood so it can double as a Halloween costume if I want to be Little Red Riding Hood.

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Sunday, December 6, 2009

What the World Needs

“There where love is lacking, put love, and you will reap love.” ~Madeleine Delbrel (I think)

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Saturday, December 5, 2009

Ready or Not

December is too short even with all of its 31 days. I’m starting to feel like we are sprinting toward the finish line of 2009. The path is not smooth and straight. It’s more like an obstacle course, a stress-inducing obstacle course. Because I pledged myself to joy only six days ago, I’m trying extra hard to stay calm in the face of end-of-the-year panic.

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Friday, December 4, 2009

Goodbye, Mr. Monk

In honor of the television show “Monk,” my family watched the series finale together tonight and afterward toasted actor Tony Shalhoub with a glass of champagne. The champagne was my dad’s idea and he gave the toast. Of all the crime fighters on TV, Adrian Monk and his quirky, obsessive ways has been a favorite.

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Thursday, December 3, 2009

New Tricks

During the Thanksgiving break, my 16-year-old cousin taught my dad about texting. Talk about opening up new worlds. He now has another means of harassing me.

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Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Give Yourself Away

“Jesus said to them, ‘How many loaves do you have?’”
~Matthew 15: 34

Everyone has heard this story. Seven loaves and a few fish feed crowds of thousands with baskets full to spare. I usually interpret this gospel as a reminder that there is more than enough. God is boundless and likes to share. But my friend got me thinking about this story in another way. It is not just about God’s ability to do anything (even though he can). He could have fed the thousands without the seven loaves. But it says something about us that he would want us to participate in his miracles. That he would want us to give all we have even if the contribution looks pitiful compared to the need.

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Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Love Letter

On this first day of December, I decided to give myself some advice, to let my smarter side speak kindly to my more panicky, frantic, worrisome self.

Dear Friend,

I know you doubt yourself and the world around you. You don’t have to. There’s enough time, talent, money and happiness to go around. Even when things don’t look like they are working out, trust that they are. Your big impossible dreams are closer than you think. So relax. Enjoy the holidays. And remember you are truly, deeply blessed.

Love,
Your Wiser Self

PS: Eat more vegetables and get some exercise.

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Monday, November 30, 2009

Kill the Grinch

On this eve of December, I’m scheming how to jam-pack the next 31 days with as much my-cup-runneth-over joy as possible.
I dare you to do the same.

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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Lazy Sunday

All the festive, family fun caught up with me today, and I napped the afternoon away.

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Saturday, November 28, 2009

Family Fun

Today included introducing my cousin to falafels, which she wasn’t at first convinced were a real thing, re-introducing myself multiple times to my great aunt, and watching MTV’s Nitro Circus with my dad, uncle, cousin and John. Tell me, could we be any more All-American?

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Friday, November 27, 2009

Black Friday

Seven years ago, when I was living in Arizona, I was part of a team that covered the mayhem known as Black Friday. While I typically don’t enjoy malls or crowds or packed parking lots, it was one of the most fun days I had as a reporter. Since then, I’ve wanted to try this version of organized chaos for myself. And today was my chance. Yes, I’ve technically had a half a dozen other opportunities to hit the stores the day after Thanksgiving. But this year my 16-year-old goddaughter was in town. What better way to fuel a marathon shopping trip than with Starbucks and the enthusiasm of a teenager?

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Thursday, November 26, 2009

Holiday Cheer

We arrived at our Thanksgiving Day destination, opened the back of my parents’ Jeep and watched in horror as all four bottles of wine rolled out of the vehicle, onto the ground and down the slopped driveway. From inside her house, my sister could see and hear my father’s reaction. “Oh, no. Oh, no. The wine. The wine,” he exclaimed with his hands on his head. Let me tell you, folks, it was a true Thanksgiving miracle that not one bottle broke, not one sip was spilled.

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Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Four Days

Fun. Festive. Family-filled. Yes. Yes. Yes.
But I’ve never known a holiday to be restful, no matter how many days off accompany it.

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Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Remembering the Righteous

“Whoever saves one life, saves the whole world.”
It all comes down to ordinary people doing the good that needs to be done. When that doesn’t happen, the most terrible, unimaginable horrors take place.

Tonight I met a man who survived the Holocaust. I got to listen to his story. He was only about 16 when he escaped the Warsaw Ghetto. He was helped by a young man about his own age. After the war, he found out that his friend lost his life for helping Jews. Such people are known as the “Righteous among the Nations of the World.” The quote above is written on medals to honor them.

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Monday, November 23, 2009

Childhood Ponderings

John overheard our friends’ 6-year-old daughter ask her dad what he thought her voice would sound like when she was older. “Beautiful,” he said without a moment’s thought.

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Sunday, November 22, 2009

A King of Peace

“My kingdom does not belong to this world.” ~John 18:36

Jesus was speaking to Pilate when he said this, and it wasn’t in the course of a casual conversation. Jesus had been arrested and would be sentenced to death. I can’t imagine he was relaxed, but he certainly seems unattached. And detachment seems to be one of the most important lessons worth learning. This simple sentence is a reminder to me not to cling too tightly to anything in this life.

Solemnity of Christ the King

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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Clothes Behaving Badly

I am not a shopper, and a pair of jeans I was trying on today seemed to know this. This particular pair of jeans protested the mere possibility of coming home with me by slicing my finger with its sales tag. Yes, there was blood. And the jeans were banished to the unwanted section of the dressing room.

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Friday, November 20, 2009

It’s Not Too Late

The big feast of Thanksgiving is almost here, and you can help make the holiday happy for a family in need.
Sacred Heart Community Service in San Jose has made it easier than ever to act on your good intentions.
Click here and give. Just $18 buys turkey for two families.

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Thursday, November 19, 2009

Seven Words …

And they are not even mine:
“Whatever you are, be a good one.”
~Abraham Lincoln

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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Sucker

What we learned is you shouldn’t use a vacuum to dust the tops of dressers, especially if jewelry sits on top of the dresser. Unless, of course, you want to wear a face mask and sift through filth.

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Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Special Agent

My mom is my secret weapon. This is especially true if the mission involves feeding a crowd, throwing a party or tying a pretty bow.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Pooling Positive Energy

Everyone I know has something significant happening tomorrow. OK, five people. But we’re talking things as serious as surgery and as happy as my brother’s 25th birthday. Some of these folks, despite being friends with me, are rather private. So without going into every detail, I’m sending out an all-call for positive energy. Whenever you read this, please say a prayer for these special people, and God will know exactly who you mean and what needs to be done. Thank you.

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Sunday, November 15, 2009

Sweet Conundrum

“I need to talk to you guys about Thanksgiving,” my sister said to me and mom. “How do you feel about having two sweet potato dishes?”
(No, I really didn't see a problem.)

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Saturday, November 14, 2009

Recession Wine

To all my penny-pinching, wine-loving friends: I’m looking for the very best cheap wine money can buy. If it gives you a blinding headache, do not list it here. If you make a sour face when drinking it, that’s no good either. But if it costs less than $5 bucks and you genuinely like it, I want to hear about it. If you have a favorite for under $10, please tell me about that one, too. Consider it a public service. The holidays are one social gathering after another, and people need to know what to drink without breaking the bank. (PS: If I can buy it at Trader Joe's or Costco, even better.)

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Friday, November 13, 2009

Are You Kidding?

I love the optimism of marketers. Companies I’ve never bought a thing from think I’m suddenly going to spend $27 for a candied apple just because they sent me a fancy catalog at Christmastime.

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Good versus Perfect

“Do not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.”
I believe Voltaire said that, although the quote might not be 100 percent correct. But I’m going to let it go. I’m not going to make myself crazy over it. And I’m going to see how many other things I can let go. Not that anyone would ever mistake me for a perfectionist. Right now, I’m shushing the inner critic who is laughing as she points out all the places my life is riddled with a lack of perfectionism, a lack of excellence. She says I shouldn’t give myself any excuse for leniency. For sure, she would run a tighter ship. It would be all tough love and discipline, baby. But at 11 o’clock on a Thursday night, I’m not interested in tough love or discipline or the hours of work left constantly undone. I’m interested in sleep, and whatever was or wasn’t accomplished today will have to be good enough.

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Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Diversion Approach

The best way for me to get something done is to have something else pressing to do.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Apple Cinnamon

I made pancakes for dinner.
The important part of that sentence is: I made dinner.

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Monday, November 9, 2009

New Game Tomorrow

The goal of the day was to Get Things Done.
But the invisible team of Undone seems to have won.

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Sunday, November 8, 2009

Like Newlyweds

I’ll listen to any woman who has been married 53 years and still dances with her cheek pressed against the chest of her husband. Her advice: “Give and take.”

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Saturday, November 7, 2009

Non-Stop Action

Today’s events included a breakfast party, a dinner party and a nap in between.

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Friday, November 6, 2009

The Hits Keep Coming

This week felt like one crazy tragic news story after another. I’m wondering if every week is this way and I only just noticed because we added Headline News to the radio rotation at work.

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Thursday, November 5, 2009

Life Lesson

It sounded interesting, but I did not enjoy my 67-cent coconut-curry-milk-chocolate bar. The yellow-stained wrapper should have told me that this flavor experiment had gone awry.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Do Not Quit

I heard the man say, “We have to be careful because we can underestimate ourselves.” And I knew he was right because so many times I give up before I even start.

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Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Quiet In There

Oh, the anxiety my worrisome mind creates. It is a master of What Could Go Wrong. My soul would prefer not to be bothered with such neurotic games. “Shhh,” my soul says. “Trust. Trust. Trust. Everything is as it should be.”

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Monday, November 2, 2009

Overheard

“You’re on the Caveman Diet. If you can grow it or kill it, you can eat it.”

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Sunday, November 1, 2009

All Saints & Souls

My family celebrates Dia De Los Muertos with an enchilada feast, homemade “Day of the Dead” bread, and an altar dedicated to my grandparents, the two babies my mother miscarried and, this year, the baby my sister and her husband lost in July.
At my church, we write the names of those who have died on pieces of paper and place them on the altar for the entire month of November.
To an outsider, these traditions may seem bizarre or morbid or simply sad. But to me this designated time for remembrance is a chance to connect. It’s a chance to thank those I’ve loved for the kindness and beauty they brought to my life.
Some people, without me ever having met them, have had the most extraordinary impact on my life. John’s mother is at the top of that list. And how could I ever thank her except through an act of remembering her in my heart?
If there are loved ones you would like to remember, I invite you to write their names in a comment, and I promise to place them on the altar at my church next Sunday.

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Halloween

I’m really warming up to this Great Day of Pretend. I could do without the gore and violence, but I like the idea of becoming, even for an evening, the person you dream of being. I like the idea that even the humble pumpkin can transform into a grand jack-o-lantern.

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Friday, October 30, 2009

Help Is On The Way

“Who among you, if your son or ox falls into a cistern, would not immediately pull him out on the Sabbath day?” ~Luke 14:5

I think Jesus is telling us something about God: God doesn’t hesitate to help us. He doesn’t think twice about helping us. He responds to our needs immediately, much like we would react if a loved one had fallen into a well.

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Thursday, October 29, 2009

My Happiest Jobs a la Jen Lemen

1. Sharing my life with my incredible husband.
2. Dreaming really big.
3. Sitting in a silent chapel before Jesus.
4. Loving my friends and family.
5. Writing my little sentence stories.
6. Talking, especially in the form of soul-deep conversation.
7. Befriending strangers.
8. Sipping coffee, tea, and wine. Eating chocolate and homemade food of all kind.
9. Walking, sleeping, laughing, crying, holding hands.
10. Practicing gratitude, detachment and joy.

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Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Open a Window

I spent too much of today staring at a computer and not enough of it breathing fresh air. As a result, everything in my head feels stale.

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Tuesday, October 27, 2009

This Week

As I was leaving work yesterday, I happily exclaimed, “Have a good weekend!”
In response, my boss and co-worker replied, “Christina, it’s Monday.”

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Monday, October 26, 2009

There’s An App For That

Driving home from Aptos tonight required three of us (my dad, John and I) navigating via our iPhones. Just to be clear, the app works great. We are the ones with the problem.

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Sunday, October 25, 2009

On Business

I always, always, always warn people about starting their own business. It is so much work, I say.
It will stretch you in ways you can’t imagine, I say. It will magnify in your own mind all of your weaknesses and might even make you forget your God-given talents and strengths, I say.
You will, at times, feel like you are stuck in mud, up against a wall, at the brink of tears, I say.
What I sometimes forget to mention (and it's a very important part) is it’s a lot of fun, too. The fun is, in fact, a huge motivating factor. Otherwise, who would put up with the rest?

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Saturday, October 24, 2009

Brave in Sorrow

In between the million blessings are the million sorrows of life. “It’s our sufferings we share. It’s our sufferings that allow us to get along,” the priest said during a Mass for our friends who recently miscarried their first child. The couple decided to celebrate their baby’s brief life with a gathering of friends and family. It is a brave thing to do, to be willing to share your sadness and not just your joy with others.

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Friday, October 23, 2009

Adventure Always

Me: “What’s the best way for us to get there?”
Him: “The best way to get there is the way we’re going, whatever that turns out to be.”

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Thursday, October 22, 2009

Eighty?

If, like me, you keep seeing the new BMV commercial and wondering what performance warranted an 80 minute standing ovation, here is your answer (courtesy Wiki Answers):
"On June 30, 1991 Placido Domingo received an 80-minute standing ovation including 101 curtain calls after singing Otello in Vienna."

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Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Creatures of Habit

Tonight we roamed the warehouse known as Costco like two lost souls. An achy head for me and computer frustration for him made us glum and gloomy. With are bad moods in tow, we scoured the aisles for the treasure called dinner. And after considering many options, we finally settled on cheese pizza. OK, it was organic four-cheese pizza with a corn meal crust. But in the grand scheme of things is that really so much different than a quesadilla?

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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

The Silent Scream

When you feel you just can’t take another minute, I suggest acting out your stress with the silent scream. Consider it a more grown-up, restrained version of a tantrum.
This is what you do:
1. Open your mouth wide.
2. Close your eyes tight.
3. Scream. Not out loud. Silently or at least quietly with a whispered “Aaahhhh.”
It’s fun, and as an added bonus, it lets those around you know you might be a bit closer to the edge than usual.

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Monday, October 19, 2009

Master of the Kitchen

If you have the good fortune of being an unexpected dinner guest at my parents’ home, my mother will likely serve you and your spouse a meal of chicken piccata, Brussels sprouts with lemon, warm bread and butter, and good wine. Do not try your luck at my house. I can almost guarantee dinner will be quesadillas.

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Sunday, October 18, 2009

Frisbee Throwing

My lesson today was this: No matter how easy something looks, almost everything requires a bit of technique and practice. This is how we gain skill. Technique and practice. This is also how we make fools of ourselves. But looking silly is way better than standing on the sidelines watching everyone else play.

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Paranormal Activity

Once every 10 years or so, I end up spending 90 minutes terrified in a dark theater. I knew going in my face would be buried in my hands, my eyes closed tight, for a good portion of the film. But I couldn’t resist the bonding experience of being scared alongside my siblings.

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Friday, October 16, 2009

Hazard Ahead

I don’t like home improvement. I really don’t like unexpected home improvement. But that’s what you get with a leaky roof, especially one that requires tearing away at the ceiling.

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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Relax, You'll Feel Better

Despite my symptoms (sore throat, headache, runny, stuffy nose), my husband doesn’t think I’m sick. He thinks I’m stressed.
“You short-circuited yourself,” he says.
“But it is cold season,” I argue.
“Cold season? It’s October and 80 degrees outside.”

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Wednesday, October 14, 2009

East Meets West

How I fight a cold: Yin Chiao + DayQuil + Coffee + Sudafed + Kombucha.

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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The Weather

My co-worker returned from an abbreviated lunch. She braved crossing the street only to be kicked out of Borders when the power went out and one of its employees got stuck in the elevator. I, on the other hand, stayed inside all day, making me feel frenetic with bottled energy.

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Monday, October 12, 2009

Cookies for a Cause

Today I’m asking you to do something very important: Break your diet and buy these cookies. The Timmers family doesn’t want a handout, which is why they are baking their way through financial hardship. Unemployment and a mountain of medical bills due to kidney disease have pushed this family of four to the brink of losing a roof over their heads. Cookie sales are keeping the lights on and the oven working. But if you insist on sticking to your diet, you can make a donation, too. The Timmers family attends our parish, Holy Spirit Church in San Jose. You can read more about their story here.

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Sunday, October 11, 2009

Endless Possibility

“For human beings it is impossible, but not for God. All things are possible for God.” ~Mark 10:27

One of my favorite verses comes at the end of a passage that stings my heart. What prompted Jesus to tell his disciples all things are possible for God? It was the Rich Young Man, who refused Christ’s invitation to sell all his things and follow him. It is an ending that has always made me sad. But this story is not just about money or the Rich Young Man. It’s about what possess our hearts in place of the will of God. Jesus asks us to give up our life, our things, our plans and come follow him. Sometimes we say no. But sometimes we let go. We let go of our attachments, our insecurities, our comforts. We let go of worrying about what other people think or about what makes sense. We let go and we trust that whatever Jesus asks us to sell is nothing we need. And wherever he leads us is a place of possibility.

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Saturday, October 10, 2009

Aromatherapy

He covered the sidewalk with lavender and poured dried petals into my hand.

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Friday, October 9, 2009

Like Father, Like Daughter

After discovering that even my dad has a twitter account, I decided it was time to tweet, tweet.

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Thursday, October 8, 2009

The Office

Shout out to the real-life bride and groom who inspired the dance scene at Jim and Pam’s wedding.

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Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Tear Down That Wall

Last week, Kaecey told me about a novelist who, when asked about writer’s block, said she doesn’t believe in it. She can’t. She doesn’t have time to stare at a blank screen. I wonder what “blocks” of all kinds would disappear with this no-nonsense attitude.

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Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Blame Dullness

“Let me see your cut,” my brother said.
“I think my knives are dull,” I explained.
“Christina, I think your hand-eye coordination is dull.”

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Monday, October 5, 2009

An Overreaction

“Ow! Ow! Ow! I cut my finger,” I screamed into the phone.
“Jeez, Christina, not again. Don’t call me unless you’re not doing anything else,” my brother replied.
The cut felt bad, but barely bled and didn’t even require a bandage.

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Sunday, October 4, 2009

Weekend Notes

1. My dad hosted a blind tasting of whiskey for his friends, and Bulleit came out on top. But JD is still the family fave.
2. My brother got great results replacing butter with avocado in apple spice muffins. Although, we definitely recommend pureeing the avocado if you would like to avoid green bits in your baked goods.
3. I found out that the mysterious cookies my grandmother always has on hand are being purchased at the liquor store for 75 cents a package. “What are you doing at a liquor store?” I asked. “Buying Lotto tickets,” she replied. “And potato chips.”

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Saturday, October 3, 2009

Girls' Night In

My sister's best friend orchestrated a surprise party in honor of Nicole's arrival at the big 3-0. As I spent the evening with women I've know more than two-thirds of my life, I realized my sister and I share the same astonishing luck. We made and kept friends from the earliest years of our lives.

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Friday, October 2, 2009

For Days ...

The vacuum has been standing aimlessly in the open space between our “dining room” and “home office.”
Poor thing looks lost.

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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Radio Talk

The problem with radio is I don’t always know who is talking. So, I don’t know who to quote. But either Gary Vaynerchuk or his friend said: “I have very little talent, but I hustle a lot.”
And that, my friends, might be the secret to success.

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Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Dining with Strangers

I ate dinner with three women I do not know, and my mind is still digesting the conversation.

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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

We All Fall Down

One second I am happily chatting to my brother while walking down the familiar sidewalk of North Santa Cruz Boulevard.
The next second I am flying through the air.
I’m not dreaming. I am falling.
I hit the ground with the entire right side of my body, arm outstretched, hand clutching my cell phone.
It occurs to me later that a sane person would have dropped the phone and used her hand to brace the fall.
Not me. I’m such a dedicated talker, the first thing I do (I mean before I even get up) is check to see if my brother is still on the line. He’s there, but our call is interrupted when the friendly shopkeepers at Inner Journey rush outside to help me up.

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Monday, September 28, 2009

On Your Side

“For whoever is not against us is for us.” ~Mark 9:40
“For whoever is not against you is for you.” ~Luke 9:50

I’m a slow learner. I need repetition, reminding and sometimes convincing, which is why I find comfort in this apparent repeat. The first line is from Sunday’s gospel, the second from Monday’s.
I could argue that this doesn’t always feel true. Sometimes it feels like the whole world is against us and whatever it is we are working toward. So I have a choice: Disagree or take Jesus at his word and quietly, maybe even optimistically say to myself, “Whoever is not against me is for me.”

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Sunday, September 27, 2009

It's Your Birthday!

Some people by their very existence forever change our place in the world. I was only 2 when Nicole was born, but her birth made me a sister and gave me a sister.
Happy 30th Birthday, Sweet Sister!

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Saturday, September 26, 2009

Sweet Friend

“I find it shelter to speak to you.”
~Emily Dickinson

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Friday, September 25, 2009

Welcome Weekend

What is waiting for you?

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Thursday, September 24, 2009

In My Sleep

“I had a bad dream last night,” I tell him in the morning. “We were in a crowded place, and you left me watching your stuff. Before I knew it, one man took your backpack, another man took your laptop and a third took your camera. They went in different directions, so I couldn’t run after all of them.”
He interrupts me. “In real life, if someone takes my stuff, don’t run after them. Let me do that.”
“I chased down the one who took your camera,” I say.
Later in the morning, I remember thinking hard about yesterday’s gospel: “Take nothing for the journey, neither walking stick, nor sack, nor food, nor money, and let no one take a second tunic.”
I rethink my dream. Maybe my subconscious is trying to learn to be unattached.

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Wednesday, September 23, 2009

A Pillow Awaits Me

When the day is too long and your muscles too tight and your mind is blank and your vision blurred, let sleep be the cure.

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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Progress

Him to Me: “Good job! I can almost see the carpet.”

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Monday, September 21, 2009

Old Advice

“Have nothing in your homes that you do not know to be useful and believe to be beautiful.”
~William Morris, lived March 24, 1834 to Oct. 3, 1896

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Sunday, September 20, 2009

Smaller than Small

We think we have such a wide world view.
But we see everything through the pinprick of our mind.

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Saturday, September 19, 2009

Divine Appointments

I couldn’t quite articulate the awe I felt over the events of the day. We ate breakfast with friends who live far away, ran into friends who live nearby and unexpectedly spent time with my parents, who we bumped into at a festival.
“It just felt like God was orchestrating the timing of everything, which he is doing all the time. But it’s like we could recognize that’s what was happening and most of the time we don’t,” I rambled as John and I made our way to the car.
My friend said it better when she wrote me tonight about our surprise visit this afternoon, “It felt like a Divine appointment.”
Yes, exactly! And what I’m trying to say is this: What if, whether we see it or not, the whole of our lives is one gigantic Divine appointment. Everything exactly as it should be in every moment of the day.

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Friday, September 18, 2009

Funky

Today was too much noise, not enough music.

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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Just Close Your Eyes

And today I’m wondering about the psychology behind messiness. I mean is this an undiagnosed mental disorder or did small gremlins ransack every room in my house?

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Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Searching, I Found This:

"He who works with his hands is a workman.
He who works with his hands and his head is a craftsman.
He who works with his hands and his head and his heart is an artist."
~ St. Francis of Assisi

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Tuesday, September 15, 2009

B is for Bees

I don't like bees or wasps or yellow jackets or anything that flies and buzzes in my ear.
Years ago, a bee flew into my car. In a panicked fit, I swatted it with my hand. As the injured creature buzzed on its back in my passenger seat, I drove screaming to my apartment, where I insisted John remove the hitchhiker from my car.
Just a few weeks ago, a wasp flew into my office. As my co-worker tried to kill it, I ducked and covered (literally, on the ground, head tucked, hands protecting my neck).
Despite these and countless other close encounters, I had never been stung until today.
The ambush took place right outside my office building and in full view of the private fitness club, which is flanked with windows on the first floor.
The flying beast buzzed. I screamed, flailed my arms and ran back upstairs as fast as I could. In the process, I was stung on my neck.
To my surprise, after all of these years of fear, it didn't really hurt.
It appears I'm one of those lucky folks who isn’t allergic to bee stings.
If this mild reaction isn't a fluke, I could probably be a bee keeper.

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Monday, September 14, 2009

Smells Like …

Yesterday, I tackled my dirty shower with the power of vinegar.
Assessing the situation to be critical, I ignored all recommendations to dilute with water.
The bathroom still smells like soured Kombucha.

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Sunday, September 13, 2009

Working (Out) 9 to 5

In the same way I wish I was a teacher for the summer vacation, I also wish I was a personal trainer for the wardrobe. I mean, seriously, sweats and tennis shoes make up your professional attire. And as an added bonus, you stay fit on the job.

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Saturday, September 12, 2009

Short & Sincere

The priest says, “Make God busy.”
He suggests a three-word prayer: “God, help me.”

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Friday, September 11, 2009

The Good in Grief

If sorrow has any purpose, I imagine it is to expand our hearts.
In the strangest way, suffering gives us a chance to love and be loved. I find my way to this thought every time I see a friend pain.

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Thursday, September 10, 2009

Flowers & Fruit

Three no more, now we are four!
And our love is fragrant and sweet.

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Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Like a Bird

A few nights ago, I dreamt a different version of a dream I’ve had since I was a child.
Instead of being alone, I was traveling with friends.
And instead of falling into the ocean, they started to fly.

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Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Oh, Sweet Day!

How I love the day my love was born!

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Monday, September 7, 2009

I.O.U.S.A.

I’m not a number cruncher. I hear figures like $11.8 trillion, and my mind goes blank. Apparently, most of our elected officials have trouble with numbers, too.
All the more reason we should watch this documentary.
I recommend the full-length version, but you can see a 30-minute cut for free on the website.

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Sunday, September 6, 2009

Like a Child

We spent a few minutes at the beach, and a child we don't know took John by the hand to show him the tidepools. The same kid grabbed my arm for balance on the rocks. His willingness to reach out to us was striking. I wonder whose hand I would hold if I had the same faith in strangers.

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Saturday, September 5, 2009

The Hummingbirds

My friends Liz and Dan have a hummingbird feeder outside their bedroom window.
They watch the tiny birds come and go and drink their fill of sweet nectar.
One of the birds, Dan has noticed, is particularly protective of this resource.
This bird swoops down and scares off the other birds from enjoying a drink.
Dan tries to reason with the poor creature.
"It's not yours. I give it to you freely. There's more than enough. And when it's empty, I'll refill it."
The bird is unconvinced, and I wonder how often we ignore the same reassurance from God.

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Friday, September 4, 2009

Twice

In two different shops, in two different towns, these words found their way to me today:
“When I count my blessings, I count you twice.” (Irish blessing)

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Thursday, September 3, 2009

Brave In Writing

I don’t write lies. But I self edit.
And sometimes the truth gets lost.
In taking a small, brave step to tell the truth always, this is what I wrote Tuesday:

It was the kind of Tuesday that for no reason makes you feel like crying. You feel the heat in your cheeks and the sting in your eyes but you don’t let tears fall down your face because you are at your desk and what will your co-worker think. You feel quite disenchanted even though you are trying to be positive and commit to joy. But you seriously doubt yourself, and you find it near impossible to believe you will ever be as cool as the artist ladies you admire. In fact, you are pretty sure even your friends think you are loser. And you only know for sure that your husband loves you, but you don’t know why.

Having now typed out those scribbled notes, I see why I self edit – I sound like a crazy person. But I believe everyone has a crazy person that sometimes talks really fast inside her head. And if you happen to be hearing that voice of self doubt, I just want you to know I hear it, too, and you are not alone.

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Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Reach

I possess approximately four million tiny pieces of paper scribbled with thoughts and half thoughts.
Sifting through receipts and whatnot, tonight I found this:
“Maybe what feels like a test is meant to be a stretch.”
In which case, I should take a deep breath and lean in.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

September 1

Buy a fresh set of colored pencils or sharpen the ones hidden in that cluttered drawer. There. All ready for a new beginning.

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Monday, August 31, 2009

This Note's For You


Me: "I'm on a mission to secretly leave an affirmation somewhere."
Him: "So you're going to litter?"

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Sunday, August 30, 2009

Remembering Katrina

Did you get the homework assignment from MOAM?
If it wasn’t for her compelling recommendation, I may have missed, skipped or skimmed this 13,000-word investigative report.
Instead I stayed up late and read every word.
I recommend you make time to do the same.
It’s important we know what happened 4 years ago in the days following Hurricane Katrina.
It’s even more important we understand how those events are continuing to shape standards for medical care in the wake of future disasters.
The story, “The Deadly Choices at Memorial,” was co-published by ProPublica and The New York Times Magazine.
You can read it here or here.
An interactive diagram of the hospital’s floor plan is here.
A timeline of the events is here.
See who was at the frontlines here.
More photos here.
Watch a brief video with reporter Sheri Fink here.
Read more about Dr. Anna M. Pou here.

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Saturday, August 29, 2009

Wine Country

The charming lady at Trefethen Family Vineyards was explaining why the 2005 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon sells for $100 a bottle while the 2002 Library Cabernet Sauvignon is $80 a bottle.
It has to do with the cost of the barrels.
“So this wine lives in a high-rent district,” John said, taking a sip.
I guess our usual $3.99 Trader Joe’s bottles slum in the ghetto.

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Friday, August 28, 2009

Worth Repeating (Again & Again)

My dear Faith wrote this sentence more than a year ago. This week, it resurfaced in my mind. I am quite certain I’m not the only one who could benefit from its beauty.

“In the end, when all is revealed, it is only the lack of trust that you will regret.”

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Thursday, August 27, 2009

My Excuse

It looks like a disaster, but dreams are messy and colorful.

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Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Focus

I took a shower. I shaved my legs. I used soap. I forgot to wash my hair. I don’t think this has ever happened, and I wouldn’t have noticed if my hair wasn’t super gross all day.
It makes me wonder if I often forget to do the thing I’m supposed to be doing.
When I’m home, do I rest? When I’m with friends, do I listen? When I’m with family, do I love?

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Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Trunk of Burning Love

For hours, in the middle of the parking lot, they sit legs crossed on the trunk of a green Volvo. Only their knees touch.

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Monday, August 24, 2009

365 Days ...

One year is not enough. Which is why I am currently in possession of a 3-year calendar. That's right, people, I said THREE years. I can make plans straight through to my 35th birthday.

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Sunday, August 23, 2009

Voices

Me: “A lot more people appear to be talking to themselves.”
Him: “Because of Bluetooth.”
Me: “It makes it hard to know who’s crazy.”

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Saturday, August 22, 2009

Julie & Julia

Might be too early to tell if I’ll be inspired to cook, but Nora Ephron’s movie most certainly inspired me to eat.

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Friday, August 21, 2009

Keepin’ Him Guessin’

I’m actually surprised John doesn’t ask me this more often:
“Is this a new thing you’re doing or are you just joking around?”

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Thursday, August 20, 2009

Making My Parents Proud

Oh, yeah, I’m smart.
I look smart, too, with my neatly typed and highlighted list of questions clipped to my clipboard.
All ready to pick the brain of my mom’s new doctor.
I mean business. High blood pressure, you’re going down.
My dad got a full report afterward in the waiting room.
“She’ll have an appointment with a nutritionalist,” I said.
“A nutritionist?”
“Yeah, a nutritionalist.”
“What did you call it?”
I’ve been my dad’s daughter long enough to know no matter how smart I look, if he asks me that question, I’ve just said something dumb.

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Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Marky Mark

When I fear I know too little or think too slow, these words help me hold my head high:
“All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure.”
~Mark Twain

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Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Good Medicine

Me: Oh! And apples are supposed to be a super food against high blood pressure.
Dad: Apples? Apples as in apple pie?
Mom: No. Apples as in a piece of fresh fruit you eat as a snack.

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Monday, August 17, 2009

Building Treasure

“ ‘If you wish to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.’ When the young man heard this statement, he went away sad, for he had many possessions.”
~ Matthew 19:21-22

I would like to be a minimalist, but I’m not. I have many possessions, some of which I carry with me almost all the time in my purse. It makes me think how silly we must look to God, like children playing make believe, setting up house and shop, finding treasure in trinkets.

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Sunday, August 16, 2009

What A Gift

On my friend’s 40th birthday, his father took pictures of him opening gifts and blowing out candles. Exactly, I’m sure, the same photos he took when his son turned 4 and 14. I was struck by the realization that parents don’t ever stop being parents, and kids don’t stop being kids.

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Saturday, August 15, 2009

20 Years

Not sure if it was my favorite part of John's high school reunion, but I was certainly impressed by the man who broke out the break dancing moves at the end of the night.

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Sweet Love

The smell of sugar filled the street as they drove off in a get-away car decorated with marshmallows.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

Civil Disobedience

My mom made an unexpected 28-hour trip to the hospital. If anything can be said about this detour, it’s that the Lucarotti Clan has no respect for visitor rules.

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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Answer This!

Kelly Brewer has an important question for you.
The sooner we can all answer YES, the better!

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Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Simple

Come as you are.
Be as you are.
Go as you are.

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Monday, August 10, 2009

Sweetest Thing

The other day, I overheard my husband tell a stranger, “My wife, she’s a poet.”

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Sunday, August 9, 2009

Active Imagination

“See, that’s how rumors get started,” I exclaimed after making a remark based on pure speculation.
“Ya, you start them,” my husband replied.

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Saturday, August 8, 2009

Lucky

I have such good friends they are like family.
And I have such a fun family they're like friends.

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Friday, August 7, 2009

Like Christmas Eve

We are up late, wrapping packages, excited for tomorrow.

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Thursday, August 6, 2009

You’re Invited!

John and I would love to see you this Saturday in Los Gatos. Details and sneak peek here.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

All Relative

Two of my favorite people are named Lexey Jane.
One is 5. The other is not.
They are completely unrelated except for feeling like family to my heart.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Love Actually

Laura Munson’s essay in the New York Times isn’t just about marriage, it’s about happiness. So whether you are married, single or somewhere in between, I’m telling everyone I know to read her story.

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Monday, August 3, 2009

Two Things

1. I had to look up the word sweded, but if you are a fan of Mike Oz, this video must not be missed.
2. MOAM is back!

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Sunday, August 2, 2009

La Foret

This tucked away restaurant creates culinary magic, like you’ll want to lick the sauce off your plate.

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Saturday, August 1, 2009

Bumper Wisdom

“Change your thinking, change your life.”

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Friday, July 31, 2009

Domestically Derailed

We have no excuse. Unlike our usual get-home-sometime-during-the-8-o’clock-hour-with-no-time-or-energy-for-dinner routine, we were home by 6:30 p.m. tonight. And what did we eat? John had beer. I had wine. We both ate dates and pepper jack cheese. (Yes, you read that correctly.)

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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Favorite Sentence of the Day

Left on my voicemail this morning a minute plus into the message:
“Blah, blah, blah, long story short, I need some advice.”

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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Call to Confidence

“Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things.” ~Luke 10:41

I have to ask myself this on a nearly daily basis: If I believe in God, do I believe in God enough not to worry? Do I believe in God’s love enough to say, “I trust you, Lord. Whatever you will, I want.”

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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Surrender

"His plan is more beautiful than ours."
~Fr. Jean C.J. d'Elbee

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Imagination

At Costco, we saw a boy use the three-pack of English cucumbers as a gun. He was on one knee and firing toward the back of the line.

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Sunday, July 26, 2009

Communication

“You’re quiet,” my husband observed. “Are you OK?”
“Yeah, I’m just thinking,” I answered.
“That’s so unlike you,” he said, but I knew he meant the quiet part not the thinking part.

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Conversation

“Your mommy is so pretty,” I told my 9-year-old goddaughter as we walked hand in hand, her mother ahead of us.
“I know,” she said, completely aware of this fact.
“You’re pretty like your mommy,” I told her.
“Thank you,” she replied. “But I have my dad’s head. I have a big crater.” She said this while patting the back of her head.

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Friday, July 24, 2009

In A Crowded Elevator

(After some trouble with the buttons and the door)
I said: "This reminds me of an NCIS episode."
The stranger said: "I know which one you're talking about."

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

To Tweet Or Twit

The other day my mom asked what a “twit” is.
I would laugh, but I find newfangled media just as confusing.

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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Synergy

I’m a tiny bit obsessed with Kombucha.
I so love all its grand promises of health and wellness that I don’t even mind its vinegar smell.

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Grouchy

Just call me Oscar.

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Monday, July 20, 2009

Lines

The inside of my right arm is noticeably paler than its left counterpart. That’s right. I have a charming cell phone tan to go with my alarmingly white shoulders.

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Sunday, July 19, 2009

Visitors, Beware

When I was a kid, I cleaned my room by dumping its entire contents into the hallway.
My approach to organization hasn’t changed much.

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Saturday, July 18, 2009

Catch the Cat

This simple, fun, free game will have you cursing that damn cat.

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Hello, Weekend

I don’t know how the same five-day, 120-hour time frame can feel longer some weeks than others. But Monday, July 13, 2009 to Friday, July 17, 2009 was officially the longest week in recent memory.

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

NCIS

Twice when I called John today, he answered the phone as Special Agent Gibbs.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Comcast

My cousin and I must be the only two with Comcast’s basic cable package because I can’t find anyone else complaining about the recent changes in the channels.
I have like 50 channels I couldn’t care less about, but I’m missing the five I watch all the time.
And let me just say, those 50 channels are showcasing a lot of crappy television.

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Under Siege

“What are you doing?” I asked my husband as he snapped rubber bands in the air.
“I’m using my land to air attack on the mosquito,” he said. “I hit it. I didn’t kill it, but I hit it.”

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Monday, July 13, 2009

Honestly

I think it’s OK to get mad at God.
Just try not to hold a grudge for too long.

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Sunday, July 12, 2009

Passionate about Pink

Head to toe pink, including her hair.
And don’t forget about the poodle dyed to match.

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Saturday, July 11, 2009

Groundhog Day

I was saying how some people make the same mistake over and over. She said, “God is patient. He’ll let you try again and again.”

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Friday, July 10, 2009

La Dolce Vita

This word: Docile
Always reminds me of this word: Dolce
And I think there is a correlation.
The more docile I am, the more dolce life is.

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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Sweet Treat

My friend Sheila always has crushes on food. She’ll have a fling with a fruit and it will last all summer. She and blueberries have been quite a pair for awhile.
And I know how she feels because I’m currently in love with frozen yogurt. Not the fro-yo from the 80s, but the super tart and creamy varieties – original, blueberry, lemon, mango, pomegranate (the list goes on and on).
I’m obviously not the only one caught up in this craze. Downtown Los Gatos has three such shops.

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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

The Numbers

My dad called this morning to let me know 12:34 p.m. would be a "special moment" for him and my mom.
"12:34 p.m. and 56 seconds," he said.
My parent's met in July, but not on the eighth, so I wasn't sure what he was talking about.
"Write it down," he insisted. "12:34:56 7/8/09."
Oh, my dad is too clever, I thought.
Then in the afternoon, I got this text from my niece:
"Today at 5 minutes and 6 seconds after 4 it will be 04:05:06 07/08/09. This will never happen again in our life. Pass it on."
Seems my dad wasn't the only one with numbers on his mind.

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Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Almost Anonymous

“Always remember that Dead Freakin' Last is better than Did Not Finish which is way better than Did Not Start.” —Allison

Allison, I wish you would have included your last name when you commented on the New York Times story back in May. I didn’t read that story. Even if I had, your comment was number 102. I’m quite certain I never would have seen it. Lucky for me, someone else read the story and the comments and liked what you said so much she quotes you at the bottom of her emails.

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Monday, July 6, 2009

What If …

What if every circumstance, every detail of our life is God saying, “I love you.”

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Sunday, July 5, 2009

Why Write

“When students ask, ‘When did you know you might be a writer? How did you know?,’ one of the things I tell them is that they may be designed for that life if (a) they need to do it in order to feel good about themselves, even though (b) doing it almost never makes them feel good about themselves.”
~Jim Shepard, author and teacher

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Saturday, July 4, 2009

Fourth of July

It really is a family holiday.
One big, diverse family holiday.

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Behind a Happy Marriage

The priest said he met a couple who, after many years of marriage, was deeply in love.
He asked them their secret.
“I do whatever he tells me,” the wife replied. “He does whatever I want.”

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Thursday, July 2, 2009

On Faith

My friend, an agnostic who married a Catholic, says he has faith in God. It’s just that his idea of God is different than everyone else’s, he explains.
“I’ve always thought of God as working for me,” he says.
“Actually,” I say, “I don’t think that is so different than everyone else. I’m always saying God is working behind the scenes for our benefit. Even when everything looks like hell, he has a plan.”

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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Thankful Now

Her: “How are things?”
Me: “Oh, fine. Good. I’ve had terrible allergies. This new med has made me so tired. I think I’m going to have to stop taking it. But other than that, I’m fine. How are you doing?”
Her: “Well, I almost died two weeks ago, but I’m OK.”
And that, my friends, was the day's reminder of why I should never, ever complain.

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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Don’t Forget to Celebrate

“I just wanted to wish you a happy … what’s that you celebrate June 30th or is it July 1st?” my mom said over the phone.
“Happy Half New Year!” I exclaimed.
The second half of the year is here, and its arrival almost went unnoticed. Thanks for the reminder, Mom!

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Deeply Loved

“Our weaknesses are there by design.”
This is what a priest told my friend, and I rather like it.

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Sunday, June 28, 2009

Hiding from the Heat

Go to church. Go to lunch. Go to Costco. Hang out in the usually too-cold produce refrigerator at Costco. Go to the mall. Go to the movies. Go to dinner. Go to adoration. Do not go back home until long after the sun has set.

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Hot Off The Presses

Today is the day to pick up a copy of the San Jose Mercury News.
I haven’t been this excited to read the news since I was writing it.

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Friday, June 26, 2009

A Little Laffy Taffy Humor

Q. Why was the policeman in bed?
A. Because he was an undercover cop.
~Courtesy Emillie D., Turlock, CA

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Thursday, June 25, 2009

Changes Ahead

My best friend’s secret for tackling goals is to take them one day at a time. Keep the big picture in mind, but focus on the present 24-hour time slot. When that doesn’t work, focus on the next 60 minutes.

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Call in the Drill Sergeant

I don’t like the word discipline, but I need more of it in my life.

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Family

“There is no cure for laziness but a large family helps.”
~Herbert Prochnov

My relatives amaze me. And the fact we share DNA reminds me to keep going, that I haven’t reached my potential yet.

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Let the Worm Live

I’m a night owl in an early bird’s world.

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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Strawberry Shortcake

This was a big hit with my family for Father’s Day.
I love the detailed instructions (exactly what I need) and the tips (I’ll be freezing and grating butter the rest of my life).
My sister and I could eat the biscuits for breakfast.

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Saturday, June 20, 2009

Bird’s Nest

The final course of the traditional Chinese wedding banquet was Bird’s Nest Pudding. Everyone at my table hesitated except me.
“I’m never afraid to try dessert,” I said.
And really, what was there to be afraid of? After three hours of exotic dishes (shark’s fin, abalone, squab, whole fish), this was clearly pudding.
I assumed the delicate decoration on top of the mango custard was sugar crystals even though it looked like caviar.
“What is bird’s nest,” I asked the groom’s aunt as we were leaving.
“It’s bird’s nest,” she said.
“But what is it,” I asked again, pressing for a list of ingredients.
She smiled. “It’s the saliva of the bird used to make the nest. It’s very difficult to obtain and it’s very expensive.”
That explains those sugar crystals.

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Celebrate Now

For his birthday, my grandfather wanted to have a party. So my parents arranged a big family dinner at one of our favorite restaurants in San Francisco – Caesar’s.
“Grandpa, are you enjoying your party?” I asked during the seven-course meal.
“Yes. I like it so much I think we should do it more often. We shouldn’t wait so long.”
“I agree,” I said. “We shouldn’t wait for someone to turn 90.”
Hearing this, my dad, who has never needed an excuse to throw a party, made reservations at the restaurant for next year.
Because if you’re going to celebrate 90, you really should celebrate 91.

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

What Not To Wear

I should never give fashion advice.
But the sun seems to be causing clouded judgment.
So let me say this: Very few people should ever wear short shorts.
And the older you are the less likely you are one of the lucky few.

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Message to Mark Harmon:

In all my life, my mom has only had eyes for my father and Tom Selleck. You, who skillfully play Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs on NCIS, have recently made her exclusive list of Hollywood hunks. Congratulations!

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sometimes I Wonder

If I ever did want to write more than a sentence a day,
what would I say?

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Frosties for Foster Kids

I’m not a fan of fast food.
But if you’re going to celebrate Father’s Day weekend with a sweet treat, consider making it a Frosty from Wendy’s.
Wendy’s will donate 50 cents to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption for every Frosty product sold Saturday, June 20, and Sunday, June 21.
On a diet? Allergic to dairy? Can’t stand Frosties?
Or just want to do more?
Wendy’s will donate 25 cents for every free e-card created here.
Or you can donate a dollar at any Wendy’s restaurant.

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Sunday, June 14, 2009

90

I wish us all to be as lucky as my grandfather no matter what our age. “I have a beautiful family and so much to live for,” says the Italian man on his 90th birthday.
His life has not been without struggle, but he remembers his blessings and forgets his disappointments.

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Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Backstroke

You can’t see where you’re going.
You get tired and caught up on the rope.
Listen for the cheers from the bleachers.
And you will always, always keep going.

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Friday, June 12, 2009

To the Trader Joe’s Copy Writers:

It might be a stretch to call your Summer Guide 2009 a work of art. But I appreciate every ounce of creativity you poured into your newsletter-style advertisement.
Thank you for taking me around the world with your brief descriptions of food from Asia, France, Australia, the Mediterranean and the County Fair.

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Thursday, June 11, 2009

Out of Nowhere

My husband asks, “So when do the Spice Girls officially become Old Spice?”

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Editing

If you give me many words, I’ll give you few in return.

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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Be Both

I couldn’t think of the opposite of artist.
So I looked it up. Scientist, says the world wide web.
As if logic and creativity cannot coexist.

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Monday, June 8, 2009

Dictionary Poetry

“Genuine: really being what it is said to be; sincere and frank; honest and forthright”
~Webster’s New World College Dictionary, Fourth Edition

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Sunday, June 7, 2009

A More Accurate Description

“The sugar truck! The sugar truck!” our 5-year-old friend exclaimed as the ice cream truck drove through the park.

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Saturday, June 6, 2009

Cicero Says ...

"Life is nothing without friendship."
I couldn't agree more.

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Friday, June 5, 2009

Freckles, Beauty Marks and Moles

I felt like a kid showing off boo-boos.
“Show me another one,” the doctor said.
I pointed to my hand, my elbow, my face.
He said all my new friends can stay.

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Thursday, June 4, 2009

Today Was …

A million little blessings. Each one shouting God is good.

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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

My Version of a Magic Trick:

I’ll go to bed 31 and wake up 32.

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Dreams Coming True

Your crossed fingers, good wishes, positive energy and prayers along with one tiny vote on top of another made Stubler Photography the Best Wedding Photographer in Silicon Valley, says the San Jose Mercury News!
John and I are so excited and grateful we can hardly stand it.
The Best of Silicon Valley special section will run in the paper Sunday, June 28.
Be sure to pick up a copy! And a million, trillion thanks!

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Monday, June 1, 2009

Sleuthing 101

“When confused, sit back and try to arrange the facts into some kind of order.”
~ The Ghost of Blackwood Hall

“Never sleuth on an empty stomach.”
~ The Hidden Staircase

“Train your friends in the art of investigation. You could save their lives if they remember your teachings.”
~ The Clue of the Black Keys

Jennifer Worick’s “Nancy Drew’s Guide to Life” is a tiny treasure.
It should be read daily.

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Sunday, May 31, 2009

Soaking & Sprouting

Almonds seem to prefer skinny dipping as the ones soaking on my kitchen counter popped right out of their skin.

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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Super Salad

I thought we had nothing for dinner, but we came up this:
Mixed greens topped with cucumber slices, marinated artichokes, green onions, ricotta cheese, sauteed chicken and pesto.
Quick, healthy, delicious!

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Faith

I am working on a new theory.
It’s an equation for the impossible becoming possible.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Angels Everywhere

Sometimes I think I hear God’s voice in the words parents speak to their children. For instance:
“It’s not important what you want. It’s important you obey me.”

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Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Impatient

Sometimes I lose faith, not in God but in myself, in all I am trying to do with my life.
Then sweet Sheila says, “You think you are off schedule, but you’re not. You’re not off schedule. You’re right on schedule.”

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Tuesday, May 26, 2009

One Sentence

I can stare at a blank screen for a long time.
And then it is time to go to bed.

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Monday, May 25, 2009

Work Week Ahead

A long weekend is never long enough.

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Sunday, May 24, 2009

'There's No Dessert'

These words, spoken by my mother to my father, nearly ignited World War III at my parents' house tonight.
No blood was shed, but the highly guarded "chocolate drawer" was raided.
"She's so protective of her chocolate stash. If you ever need to organize an intervention, look everywhere," my dad said, showing us the three Toblerone bars in the back of the freezer.
"But nobody eats it," my sister said. "It's just going to go bad."
"It's for comfort," my dad explained.
As bizarre as it sounds, this is a concept I understand. I currently have two "emergency" chocolate bars in my desk drawer at work.
Of course, chocolate in my possession never goes to waste.

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Saturday, May 23, 2009

Saturday

Sleep in. Stay up.

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Friday, May 22, 2009

Time to Change a Bulb

With so many lights out, the sign reads: R SORE EY.
Umm, you might want to get that checked.

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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Answers Requested

How does change happen?
How does thought become reality?
This is what I think about all day long.

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Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Pollen, Pollen Go Away

The other day the wind blew so hard it looked like it was raining.
I’ve had a headache ever since.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

For the Foodie Within

I went blog exploring tonight and found a treasure:
The Nourishing Gourmet.

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Help for the ‘Deadline-Driven’

You have to admire the optimism of Jane B. Burka and Lenora M. Yuen. They wrote a book for folks more likely than most to put off reading it. If anyone gets around to “Procrastination: Why You Do It, What To Do About It Now,” please let me know how it turns out.

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Wilderness Tip

“If a bleeding, screaming man runs from shore and starts swimming frantically toward your boat, you should probably help him out. He might be escaping from cruel employers.”
~Nancy Drew’s Guide to Life by Jennifer Worick,
quoted from the Mystery of Crocodile Island

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Saturday, May 16, 2009

Bachelorette Party

I could tell you all that happens at these ceremonious gatherings of women, but it's better that I don't.

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Friday, May 15, 2009

Perspective

Best Friend: “I was instantly offended when that woman said, ‘You girls look like you know a lot about beer.”
Me: “I was immediately flattered. It means we look young and fun.”

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Thursday, May 14, 2009

A Million Thanks!

Dad: “How many people do you think voted for John?”
Me: “I don’t know.”
Dad: “How many votes do you think you need to be competitive?”
Me: “I have no idea. But isn’t it fun?”
Thank you for rooting for us!
Thank you for cheering for us!
Thank you for voting for us!
http://www.mercurynews.com/bestofsv

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Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Making The World Small

Compassion is not wasted.
It shrinks the distance between us and strangers.
Not all emotions can say the same.

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Sweet Monica

Monica Rodriguez died today. The sadness I feel thinking of her husband and son leaves me speechless. John and I so deeply admire how hard she fought, and we’re praying for her family.

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

For Moms:



Add my mom to that list, and send a big thanks to heaven to Grandma Jo and all women who choose motherhood.

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Saturday, May 9, 2009

Budding Environmentalist

"I love the idea of being "off the grid" as long as that means we still get computer and television." ~My Dad

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Friday, May 8, 2009

For Monica

I believe everyone prays, but not everyone calls it prayer.
Whatever it is you do to beg good from God, I ask that you do it for the Rodriguez family.
Sol and Monica don’t know John and me at all, but we’ve been admiring their faith, courage, strength and love for more than a year now.
We’re praying for a miracle for Monica and ask you do the same.

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Thursday, May 7, 2009

Drifting Off

As I was falling asleep last night I thought:
The goal is for the person you are to be the person you want to be.

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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

To Be So Lucky

If only I was the kind of woman who lost her appetite when stressed, I would be as skinny as spaghetti.

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Tuesday, May 5, 2009

When Greeting Cards Torture The Old

German man, 82, calls police after mistaking musical greeting card for noisy neighbors
By Associated Press
May 5, 2009

BERLIN (AP) — German police said an elderly man was so annoyed at hearing the same serenade over and over that he called authorities to report his neighbors — only to discover the culprit was a musical greeting card on his own windowsill. Police said Tuesday the 82-year-old from Goslar in central Germany told officers he was sick of the music, which would come at irregular intervals and at all hours.

Upon further investigation, police found the musical greeting card on his windowsill, where occasional breezes opened the card just enough to play an irritating tune.

Police said the retiree was happy to find out his neighbors weren't trying to annoy him.

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Monday, May 4, 2009

Insecurity

A monster under the bed can keep you frozen in fear.
But throwing back the covers, the monster disappears.

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Sunday, May 3, 2009

Happiness Is Still Homemade

These words are stitched on a pillow at my cousin's house.
I have to say, they are the wisest words I've read in awhile.

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Saturday, May 2, 2009

Teenage Ambition

When I was a teenager, I wanted to work at the gas station around the corner from my house. I thought it would be cool.
My parents said no.
This little memory is one of the reasons I never hesitate to believe studies showing teenagers’ brains aren’t fully developed.

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Friday, May 1, 2009

Year, Interrupted

The year feels stalled. As if the slowed economy paused time.
It’s the first of May and calendars are still being sold at the bookstore. This isn’t the new year.
We’re at the beginning of the middle now.
Come on, people, 2009 is moving along and we best move along with it.

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Thursday, April 30, 2009

Almost Friday

If this was Facebook, I would update my status to say:
Christina is so glad it’s Thursday! Only one more day between me and the weekend!

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Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Work In Progress

I’m wrapping myself in these words as they most completely describe every inch of my life.

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Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Cake

This word makes me happy.
I think I like to say cake even more than I like to eat it.

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Monday, April 27, 2009

First Communion

“Look at all the lovely princesses wearing their white dresses,” the 3 ½-year-old exclaimed as she peaked over her pew.

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Sunday, April 26, 2009

Reframing

If you can’t bear the thought of making plans, may I suggest writing a blueprint instead. The word just sounds more bendy. As if it understands from the onset life won’t go according to plan.

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Saturday, April 25, 2009

Nancy Drew

I see an attic door and immediately imagine a mystery.

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Friday, April 24, 2009

King of Sales Speaks on Marriage

"I'm personally convinced our divorce rate would be reduced 90 percent if men and women delivered in marriage what they sold while courting." ~Zig Ziglar

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Thursday, April 23, 2009

Oh, Cinderella

What if your fairy godmother hadn’t shown up?
Would you have made it to the ball on your own?

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

An Alternative to Sleep?

I’m wondering if it’s possible to teach yourself to need less sleep. So I googled, and as is true for any topic I can think of, someone has written a book on the subject -- Sleep Less, Live More. I’m intrigued but very skeptical.

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Tuesday, April 21, 2009

A Taste of Summer

It was 93 degrees for the second day in a row.
I’m not complaining, but my mind is melting.
My thoughts dissolving like ice cubes in the sun.

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Monday, April 20, 2009

One-Minute Meditation

Imagine a pile of boulders blocking your path, causing a one-woman traffic jam on your life.
Now imagine moving them. And imagine it taking almost no effort at all. Just the desire to free up some space.

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Sunday, April 19, 2009

Minimalism

Me: “Love, do you want to become minimalists?”
He: “Well, I don’t want to become clutterists.”

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Saturday, April 18, 2009

Sweet Beginnings

“This is one of my favorite parts,” I say to John right before the bride and groom cut their cake.
“Really, why?” he asks.
I stumble for a few seconds to answer and then conclude: “Probably because it involves cake.”

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Friday, April 17, 2009

Susan Boyle

Word of Susan Boyle’s performance has been floating around all week. I saw a few seconds of her sing, but ignored all the hoopla.
I didn’t even bother watching the YouTube video because I thought I got it -- unlikely talent surprises all. The end.
But John made me watch it tonight, and I cried.
Susan Boyle is a triumph for all self-doubters.
As John said, “She gives the world a big f#@k you.” (He means that in the nicest possible way, of course.)
Now, in an attempt not to live vicariously through her amazing moment, I must be on my way to make my own magic.

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Thursday, April 16, 2009

Act Small

If dreams are a destination, a spot on a mental map, how can I move closer today to the place I imagine?

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Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Dream Big

What would happen if we stopped living vicariously?
If we lived as we dream?

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Change In the Air

Him: “I’m wondering where this cold front is coming from.”
Me: “Didn’t we just read last week that Obama’s administration wanted to cool the air to stop global warming? Maybe they got right on that.”

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Monday, April 13, 2009

No Respect

Poor Easter. It lacks the proper multiple days off other holidays enjoy.

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Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter

My second favorite part: Seeing everyone in their Sunday best.
My first favorite part: Celebrating Christ Risen.

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Saturday, April 11, 2009

Me & My Dad

He and I were emailing back and forth about the freedoms of religion and speech.
I said: "Now, I have no desire to cover my head, but I certainly wouldn't want to take that right away from someone else."
He said: "Well, regarding you covering your head, if we took a poll of your family and friends, Should Christina cover her head?
Yes ___ No___ Wonder how the vote would go?"

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Friday, April 10, 2009

Good Friday

Seen on a fence while driving down Highway 87:
"Happiness is submission to God alone."
Thanks for the reminder!

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Thursday, April 9, 2009

Kaecey

I saw a young girl, maybe 9 or 10 years old. Her blond hair was pulled back in a pony tail. Her face framed with glasses. Her sweet smile reminded me so much of my dearest, oldest friend that I started to cry.

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Wednesday, April 8, 2009

How Men Bond

Phone conversation between me and my youngest brother:
Him: “Over here, Ginger.”
Me: “Who’s Ginger?”
Him: “The new kid.”
Me: “A girl?”
Him: “No. He’s a boy. We just call him Ginger.”

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Tuesday, April 7, 2009

The Stoning of Soraya M.

I rarely watch unhappy movies.
If I want to be unhappy, I watch the news.
But I made an exception for The Stoning of Soraya M., and I recommend you do the same.

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Monday, April 6, 2009

The Mystery of the Missing Shirt

Last June, one of my husband’s shirts -- a short-sleeved, blue, button-down shirt -- disappeared from our closet. We searched and searched and searched. But the shirt was gone.
Until today.
Today my dad stopped by Los Gatos for lunch WEARING JOHN’S MISSING SHIRT.
Now, there is no way my father took John’s shirt from our closet. And we did not leave the shirt at my parents’ house. We don’t do laundry over there, and I think we’d remember undressing in their home.
We asked my dad how he came across the missing shirt, and he said he found it with his dry cleaning.
How does a shirt go from our closet to the dry cleaners to my parents’ house?
This mystery is far from solved.

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Sunday, April 5, 2009

This Little Toe Went To Church

Palm Sunday, among other things, is a reminder to make sure my toes are presentable. Holy Thursday typically involves a stranger washing my feet.

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Saturday, April 4, 2009

Birthday Girl

The 3-year-old brought her chair close to John and me. She sat facing us and began to tell her story. We didn’t understand most of what she said. But we listened intently. It was all very interesting, especially when she would make a scary face, claw her hands in the air and say, “bad tree.”

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Friday, April 3, 2009

Oh, Velveteen!

Stuffed with sawdust, we all long to become real.

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Thursday, April 2, 2009

Found In My Inbox

"I think the world today is upside down. Everybody seems to be in such a terrible rush, anxious for greater development and greater riches and so on. There is much suffering because there is so very little love in homes and in family life. We have no time for our children, we have no time for each other; there is no time to enjoy each other. In the home begins the disruption of the peace of the world." ~Mother Teresa

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

I Know You

I’m the type of friend who takes a personality test and then tells you what you are.

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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Parental Warning

If you hand me a baby, I will be very careful. In fact, if your child is a newborn, I will probably stay seated, mimicking the cautious way I held each of my siblings when I was a kid.
But those toddler-aged kids are another story. They give me false confidence about their ability to handle gravity and almost without failure bump their heads in my presence.

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Monday, March 30, 2009

Traditions

Yes, it’s two weeks after St. Patrick’s Day. But we celebrated belated. And now my stomach is full with about a half a loaf of homemade Irish Soda Bread.

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Sunday, March 29, 2009

Butterfly Convention

Instead of fluttering from flower to flower, the Monarchs are swarming the streets.
They haven’t told me where they’re headed, but they are in a hurry. I suspect there’s a very important convention in town.

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Saturday, March 28, 2009

New Car Smell

The first car I ever owned was a 1971 Volkswagen Fastback.
It was Columbia blue, stick shift and I loved it.
I didn’t care that the car was 6 years older than me or that the odometer was broke or that it leaked rain through the door windows causing a couple of inches of water to slosh around the floor as I drove, presenting a real threat of the bottom rusting out. It was my dream car. And I’ve driven beaters ever since.
That is, until now.
Today, John and I picked up our brand new 2009 Toyota Corolla. The car had 3 miles on it when we drove off the lot.

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Oh, What A Feeling

It’s so late. I just got home. I altogether missed my Friday writing deadline. Why? Because that’s what happens when you show up to the dealership at 8:40 p.m. on a Friday night to buy a car.

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Thursday, March 26, 2009

Lady Grey

“Not everyone is going to be your cup of tea,” she said, speaking about people. But my mind imagined a thousand pretty china cups, and I thought about how much I love one tea over all the others.

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Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Mary

She said yes to God and changed the world.
Makes me think twice about saying no.

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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

One Crisis At A Time, People

My husband tells me seismic activity in Southern California has scientists worried.
“They’re worried because they think we’re going to have a big one?” I ask.
Yes, he nodded, “because we don’t have enough on our plates with the economy, terrorism and disease.”

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Monday, March 23, 2009

New Day

Oh, I’m thankful you’re here.
But did you have to come so early?

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Sunday, March 22, 2009

Knowledge

I’m a good learner. Not so good applier.
This simple resolution I must make again and again:
Do what you know.

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Saturday, March 21, 2009

Don’t Follow Me, I’m Lost

My very bad sense of direction might be contaminating my husband’s very good sense of direction.
Today we went to San Francisco for the Farmers Market at the Ferry Building.
We parked the car. Walked several blocks. Came back to the car with our tasty finds. Left the car again to take pictures. Then back to the car to go home.
But wait, where’s the car?
This building, right? Second floor, right?
No car.
Are we in the right garage? It looks like the right garage minus our car. Let’s walk around the block, maybe there’s another garage.
Great, another garage. This must be it.
No, this is our second visit to the wrong garage, which we have now entered from two different streets. Thank God we’re having such a good time otherwise this might be really annoying.
We knew we were close to our car. Turns out, we were less than a block away. But we needed the iPhone’s GPS to tell us so.

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Friday, March 20, 2009

It’s A Small World After All

I love running into people as long as I love the person I’m running into. Once I ran into a friend and her mom on a plane from Phoenix to California. We swapped seats with other passengers so we could talk the whole ride. It was great.
Today, on a Friday morning in Southern California, my brother ran into our cousin and his family while standing on Main Street in Disneyland. Makes me want to sing.

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Thursday, March 19, 2009

Go, Joseph, Go

March 19: Solemnity of St. Joseph
“The Lord, who on earth honored Saint Joseph as a father, will certainly not refuse him anything he asks in heaven. … When Egypt was laid waste by the great famine, Pharaoh told his people, Ite ad Joseph! -- Go to Joseph! So if we are in trouble, let us listen to the word of the Lord and take Pharaoh’s advice; let us go to Joseph if we wish to be consoled.”
~ Saint Alphonsus de Liguori

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Wednesday, March 18, 2009

There, There

Sometimes writing makes me cry.
Robert Frost seems to think that’s OK.
“No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise in the writer, no surprise in the reader.”

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Tuesday, March 17, 2009

S is for Snake

Before I think she could even talk, our friends’ daughter, Mara, would hiss like a snake, “sssssss.”
I only heard her do this a few times, but it totally stuck.
And now I hiss at my computer all day long.

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Monday, March 16, 2009

Let It Be Easy

“If the prophet had told you to do something extraordinary, would you not have done it? All the more now, since he said to you, ‘Wash and be clean,’ should you do as he said.”
~ 2 Kings 5:13

The problem was that Naaman was told to do something very simple if he wanted to be cured of his leprosy.
The prophet’s message to, “Go and wash seven times in the Jordan,” actually angered Naaman because it seemed too easy.
The way I see it, the real problem is this: We’ve been making life harder than necessary since before Jesus was a boy.

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

She's Smart

"Communication is to a relationship what breathing is to sustaining life." ~Virginia Satir

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Saturday, March 14, 2009

How do you say, “I love you.”

Today, John said he loved me with an avocado, scrambled egg and pepper jack cheese sandwich. Works for me!

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Friday, March 13, 2009

Come Fly With Me

One of my closest friends dreamt about me the other night.
I was flying a Cessna and she was by my side. Our husbands were in the passenger seats behind us.
“You were totally in your element,” she said.
I love the thought of being in my element, and I wonder if part of me isn’t living a secret life in her dream.

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Thursday, March 12, 2009

Because My Mom Said So

And because my mom and my sister are teachers who truly make a difference. Wear Pink Friday!

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Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Life

Go ahead. Make your plans.
Do your very best.
Be forewarned, the rules constantly change.

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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Special To Me

John and I have been married 3 ½ years.
That’s how old we are.
If you ask a child the same age, you better believe she’d remember the half-year part, too.

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Monday, March 9, 2009

Faulty Logic

“Do you want this?” I asked, offering John an already bitten apple.
“No. Mine wasn’t very good either,” he said.
I took another bite.
“Yeah, I’m not going to eat this,” I said.
“Isn’t that kind of wasteful?” John asked.
“No. It’s more wasteful if I eat it,” I replied.
“How is it more wasteful if you eat it?”
“I’m wasting the calories I could spend eating something that tastes good.”

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Sunday, March 8, 2009

Curfew Extended

Tell me I’m not the only one who feels the extra hour of sunlight is a personal invitation to play.

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Saturday, March 7, 2009

Anonymous Wisdom

“If you’re coasting, you’re going downhill.”
A brilliant friend of mine told me that. She heard it from a sharp CEO. I don’t know if the words were actually his or if attribution belongs somewhere else. But let me just say these have to be some of the smartest six words ever strung together. Think of any area of your life (relationships, health, wealth), and this rule applies.

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Friday, March 6, 2009

Ever After

I’ve always thought it sweet when an older man refers to his wife of many years as his bride.

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Thursday, March 5, 2009

Strange Weather

Too many days inside makes people crazy.
So when the rain stopped, I took a walk.
This is what I saw:
1. A small white cat wearing a leash and tied to a post outside the Los Gatos Coffee Roasting Company.
2. A troubadour playing his guitar with a rabbit on his head and another one on an upside down laundry basket being used as a table.

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Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Be a Desert Flower

I used to live in the desert.
The barrenness was so jarring I would intentionally schedule my flights into Phoenix at night. The bird’s eye view of all that dirt and dryness made my heart ache. I missed the comfort of lush foliage, trees with leaves, fields of tall grass.
It took me a good 6 months before I saw any beauty there. Before I started to appreciate the strength of all that exists there.
In the desert, everything has a purpose. Nothing is wasted.
The sparseness eliminates distraction. Allows you to focus.
This kind of simplicity is what Lent is about.
We let go of a few comforts and maybe rediscover our own purpose.
(By the way, Easter isn’t until April 12. Still plenty of time to celebrate Lent.)

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Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Out of Context

“Do not babble.” ~ Jesus on prayer
There’s more to this verse, found in today’s gospel (Matthew 6: 7-15), but I like this part best.

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Monday, March 2, 2009

He’s So Clever

John’s bumper sticker idea for my car: “I Brake for Conversation.”

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Sunday, March 1, 2009

Infinity

Side by side we sit.
His left hand holding my left hand.
My right hand holding his right hand.
Our bodies and limbs creating that crazy eight.

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Saturday, February 28, 2009

Fashion Advice

Me: “What do you think of her outfit?”
Him: “I think it is something you should not duplicate.”

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Friday, February 27, 2009

Boxed Heart

When you experience a break-up, you really are broken. Pieces of you spill all over the place. Which is why my sweet hygienist told me about her ex-boyfriend while cleaning my teeth.
He called last night, and everything he said was “stale because it was all stuff he should have said four months ago,” she explained.
They dated for 2 1/2 years.
"I've taken your pictures down," she told him. But she told me she couldn't throw them out, at least not yet.
"They're in a box. A nice box, under my bed. ... Maybe that's why I'm not sleeping well."

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Thursday, February 26, 2009

A La Shannon

A sentence, OK four, for my collection:
“In a world of disorder and disaster and fraud, sometimes only beauty can be trusted. Only artistic excellence is incorruptible. Pleasure cannot be bargained down. And sometimes the meal is the only currency that is real.”
~ Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love.

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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Ash Wednesday

My eyes have cataracts. Tiny blind spots the optometrist said formed when I was in my mother’s womb. A birthmark of sorts. One that my mind has always been able to ignore.
I was thinking about these blind spots, the ones we don’t even know exist, when I was getting ashes crossed on my forehead.

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Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Last Night

“I heard we’re celebrating a 35th wedding anniversary and a 27th birthday,” the waiter said.
“Yeah, she’s 27,” my brother said pointing to my mother. Without blinking, he wrapped his arm around my sister and said, “Thirty-five years.”

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Monday, February 23, 2009

Anniversary

Thirty-five years of marriage and my poor father can’t keep his kids’ names straight. Ask him to write a list, and you’ll get alternative spellings and mixed-up middle names. These are the details meant for my mother.

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Sunday, February 22, 2009

John says …

Time flies when you work the weekend.

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Saturday, February 21, 2009

Dad’s Advice

When your to-do list makes you want to scream and you can actually feel stress thickening the air around you, ask yourself:
1. Is it life or death?
2. Do you have the resources to handle it on your own?
3. Do you need a paramedic, firefighter or police officer?

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Friday, February 20, 2009

Back to the Future

“You’ll never guess what I saw today,” he said.
“What?” I replied.
“I saw someone using a pay phone. I almost took a picture of the person using the pay phone with my iPhone.”

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Thursday, February 19, 2009

La Villa

As my family ate plates of ravioli at 9 o’clock at night, my dad happily stated this is how families eat dinner in Italy every night.

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Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Lost & Found

I didn’t recognize the out of area phone number, and when the woman mispronounced my last name, I thought I’d made a mistake in answering. She said she was with AAA, and a man had called to report finding my purse with my towing card inside.
“What kind of scam is this,” I thought to myself as I listened to the lady explain that she did not give the man any of my information, but said she would call me with his.
“A complicated scam,” I concluded.
But as she was talking, I was searching my purse (which I had) for my wallet (which I did not have).
I took the name and the local number. I arranged to meet him at a gas station.
As John drove, I prayed that my good Samaritan named Kevin wasn’t hoping to kill me.
But we could tell right away that Kevin was a nice guy. He just wanted to give me my wallet, and he had gone out of his way to do so. He said he was on his way to a meeting and wasn’t even going to stop at the store, but he felt like he had to.
“As soon as I opened the door of my truck, I saw your wallet on the ground,” he said. “It’s a God thing.”

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Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A Good Meal

Mark 8: 14-21
Now the disciples had forgotten to bring any bread; and they had only one loaf with them in the boat. And Jesus cautioned them, saying, "Watch out--beware of the yeast of the Pharisees and the yeast of Herod." They said to one another, "It is because we have no bread." And becoming aware of it, Jesus said to them, "Why are you talking about having no bread? Do you still not perceive or understand? Are your hearts hardened? Do you have eyes, and fail to see? Do you have ears, and fail to hear? And do you not remember? When I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?" They said to him, "Twelve." "And the seven for the four thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces did you collect?" And they said to him, "Seven." Then he said to them, "Do you not yet understand?"

My family is all about food.
Our conversations about any experience start with what we ate.
We spare no detail in describing our meals.
And we all love a good piece of bread.
So I can understand the disciples’ anxiety over a forgotten loaf.
But poor Jesus. He has never let them go hungry, and still they worry. “Do you not yet understand?” he finally asks.
I hear myself respond, “I will always have enough to eat. I will always have enough.”

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Monday, February 16, 2009

Sit, Boo Boo, Sit

If in the damp, dark, cold of night, a stranger’s dog charges you, the best you can hope for is a golden retriever named Kelly. Even then you might notice your hands clenched defensively in front of your face and your elbows locked tight against your chest.

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Sunday, February 15, 2009

Speedy Quick

“If you ever walk with your mother, don’t get distracted or she’ll be 50 yards ahead of you before you notice,” my dad tells me. “She walks as fast or faster than she talks and with as much stamina. That’s impressive.”

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Saturday, February 14, 2009

Love like an Onion

The first valentine gift I gave John was a book of poems containing a poem a day.
Carol Ann Duffy’s “Valentine” marks February 14.
The reference to a wedding ring and the fact we’d only known each other for two months almost stopped me from buying the book.

Valentine

Not a red rose or a satin heart.

I give you an onion.
It is a moon wrapped in brown paper.
It promises light
like the careful undressing of love.

Here.
It will blind you with tears
like a lover.
It will make your reflection
a wobbling photo of grief.

I am trying to be truthful.

Not a cute card or a kissogram.

I give you an onion.
Its fierce kiss will stay on your lips,
possessive and faithful
as we are,
for as long as we are.

Take it.
Its platinum loops shrink to a wedding-ring,
if you like.

Lethal.
Its scent will cling to your fingers,
cling to your knife.

~ Carol Ann Duffy

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Friday, February 13, 2009

Oh, How Romantic

The 20-something-year-old at the counter told me she was happy to have tomorrow afternoon off work so she could celebrate Valentine’s Day.
“Oh, do you have a boyfriend?” I asked, playing into her excitement.
“Well, I’m dating this guy,” she said, kind of shy about it.
“How long have you been dating?” I asked, obviously this must be a new romance.
“About a year.”
Regrettably, I did not offer this poor girl my advice. I smiled and left without her having to hear an earful from the old, married, and, might I mention, happy likes of me.
As a matter of clearing my conscience, let me say if you cannot call a man your boyfriend after dating for a year, it is without a doubt time to move on.

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Thursday, February 12, 2009

Vantage Point

Imagine God’s perspective.
He sees the whole picture and every problem is small.

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Blank

One sentence shouldn’t be hard. But sometimes it’s a lot of work.

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Tuesday, February 10, 2009

For a Friend …

Sometimes we can’t give each other what we need.
This is always somewhat of a tragic revelation, even if the instance is isolated and temporary.
An inability to soothe the wound of a loved one is, to me, one of the most dreadful human experiences.

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Monday, February 9, 2009

Winter Night

It’s not the moon I see, but the sun.
Not the sky. The deep blue sea.
Clouds, no! Those are waves crashing on a celestial shore.

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Sunday, February 8, 2009

In College …

At a taqueria promising burritos the size of your head, I picked up a postcard that said: Skepticism is a virtue.
Turns out that postcard was right.

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Saturday, February 7, 2009

Mix ‘n’ Match

My mom wants you to have a happy holiday.
You can pick which holiday.
She currently has a Valentine’s Day flag hanging outside her house, a Christmas wreath on her front door and a pumpkin and scarecrow on the porch.

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Friday, February 6, 2009

Big Red

“You look pretty,” my husband said, flattering me during our weekly Friday lunch date.
“Thank you because tomorrow my face is going to be discolored by this zit,” I said, pointing to my chin.
“Oh my gosh. That thing is huge. It looks like you were bit by a bird.”
He really hadn’t noticed until I pointed it out -- proof that love is blind.

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Thursday, February 5, 2009

It’s Already Broken

In a book called, “When You Eat at the Refrigerator, Pull Up a Chair,” is a chapter titled, “Remind Yourself That It’s Already Broken.”
In this chapter are these two sentences:
“The nature of things is that if they don’t get lost, they get stolen, and if they don’t get stolen, they get broken, and if they don’t get broken, they fade or fall apart. This law applies to teacups, cars, people, sweaters, pets, computers, earrings and just about everything you can touch or buy or have.”
I read these sentences years ago, but they came back to my mind today. Isn’t Geneen Roth wise?

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Wednesday, February 4, 2009

For the Record

I find no danger in questions. Ask as many as you can think of.

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Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Sirach 2:1-2

“My child, if you aspire to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for an ordeal. Be sincere of heart, be steadfast, and do not be alarmed if disaster comes.”

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Monday, February 2, 2009

An Italian Girl’s Wish

I want people to come to my house hungry knowing they will be fed. This is a lofty wish for a girl who doesn’t really cook.
But wishes are meant to be big.

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Sunday, February 1, 2009

Dream Big

I don’t know what year it was, but my grandpa told me that when his wages were $30 a week, his boss and manager called him into the boss’ office.
My grandpa worked in the produce department of a grocery store.
“They asked me, ‘How much would you like your wages to be,’ ” my grandpa recalls. “I don’t know what made me say it. I must have been crazy, but I told them, ‘$75.’ More than double what I was making.”
“Did they give you the raise?” I asked, practically on the edge of my seat.
“Oh, yes. Right there on the spot. They made me a manager.”

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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Two Things

1. You can find me dishing about The Three Day Look Fabulous Challenge on Vote Single, which, by the way, isn’t just for singles. And, yes, there are photos.
2. I know Jered is curious, so let me just say our Christmas tree came down today. It’s been properly boxed and put away in a closet, not the bathtub, and it’s still winter!

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Friday, January 30, 2009

Negotiations

I don’t have any troubles to speak of, but that doesn’t stop me from saying this prayer:
Lord, please don’t make my life any harder than it is.
But if difficulty is unavoidable, make me strong enough for the challenge.

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

About Leonardo

So many of da Vinci’s ideas didn’t work.
Knowing this is what inspires me the most.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Rich Soil

Mark 4:1-20, The Parable of the Sower
I’ve always read this parable as a cautionary tale.
Be the rich soil.
Don't let the birds devour you.
Don't be shallow.
Don't get tangled up in thorns.
But tonight I see a roadmap.
1. Guard your heart against evil.
2. Persevere in difficult times.
3. Build your treasures in heaven, not on earth.
This is the path to deep roots and a plentiful harvest.

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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Well, It’s Not In My Mind

“Have you been crying all day?” my brother asked when he stopped by my office today.
“No,” I answered honestly.
“You look like sh*t!” he replied.
This is brotherly love and it’s worth more than gold.
This unsolicited comment also justified my emergency trip to Benefit’s makeup counter right after work, where I bought the famous dr. feelgood along with the claim it will make me flawless.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

Be Gorgeous

Sheila R. Rose of Vote Single is one of my oldest and dearest friends. Funny how friends sometimes need the same thing at the same time without ever saying a word to each other about it.
Today, as she was devising her Three Day Look Fabulous Challenge, I was secretly making a list of beauty icons in hopes of being inspired. (This required telling myself that having such a list doesn’t make me terribly vain.)
I have a feeling her and I aren’t the only two on the planet in need of a pick-me-up. So consider yourself invited to join us.

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Sunday, January 25, 2009

Natural Reason

A conversation about Truvia, the new “natural” non-sugar sweetener, took my dad down a winding road of logic in which he came to the conclusion that everything -- absolutely everything -- is natural because even the stuff that’s not found in nature is made from something that is.
To prove his point, we looked up nylons to find out what they are made of. Turns out your pantyhose are a combination of coal, water and air.
“What’s more natural than air!” my dad exclaimed.
So convinced of his theory he’s willing to buy an In-N-Out burger to the first who can prove him wrong.

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Saturday, January 24, 2009

Walk for Life

If you are willing to make known what you believe, what you know to be real and true, some people are going to flip you off. And that’s OK.

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Friday, January 23, 2009

Must (Holy) See TV

Just when I was lamenting a lack of quality programming, the Vatican got its own channel on YouTube. Look, you can watch the Pope baptizing babies!

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Fortune Teller

Me: Tell me something nice about our future.
Him: Well, in about 30 minutes we’ll be asleep.

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Wednesday, January 21, 2009

From Saturday

The most frivolous thoughts come to mind.
Things like sitcom dialogue.
Is this what my head is filled with?
Then, in my memory, I hear my high school French teacher.
She said, “God is going to give you so many days. At the end of your life, he will want to know what you did with your time.”
I think he expects a better answer then, “Watched TV.”

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Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Because One Person Can Change History

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Monday, January 19, 2009

Monday Morning

“How’s your inner child, Christina?”
“Umm. My inner child is great,” I answered, surprised by the question. “It’s my inner adult that wants to runaway to Tahiti.”

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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Sit-ups for the Soul

Spiritual exercises are like physical exercises -- invigorating and exhausting.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

A Great Pilgrimage

"I felt in need of a great pilgrimage so I sat still for three days
And God came to me."
~ Kabir of India

I won’t be sitting still, but I will be silent.
Be back Sunday.

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Wednesday, January 14, 2009

For My Dad

Today he is 61.
He celebrated by beginning a course at Stanford called, "Living With Stress."
"It's very cool," he tells me.
And I'm happy he's happy.
Although, after nearly 35 years of marriage and the raising of four kids, I have a feeling he could teach the class.

Daddy, I doubt seriously you have any idea how deeply loved you are. Happy Birthday!

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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Ready for March 8

I think I’m going to begin a countdown for Daylight Saving Time.
I miss the long evenings of summer.
And yes, I have the nerve to say this on a day when it was 81 degrees.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

Open Your Hand

You know that saying, “Let go, let God.”
It really works.
But the trick is in letting go.

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Sunday, January 11, 2009

Telling Secrets

Not yet 2, her eyes grew big as her father whispered in her ear.
“What were you telling her,” I asked later.
“The story of The Little Engine That Could,” he said.

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Saturday, January 10, 2009

At The Museum

Leonardo da Vinci examined the human heart and saw it was a pump, not the soul. But when he dissected the brain, he knew its complexity connected us to divinity.

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Friday, January 9, 2009

I Need A Professional

Yesterday I got my hair cut, and I felt like a million bucks.
Today I styled it myself and looked like a soccer mom (no offense to soccer moms).
I just don’t understand how I’ve blown dry my hair almost every day for 10 years, and I’m still no good at it.

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Thursday, January 8, 2009

Salt Goes Bad?

I’ve made a startling discovery in my kitchen.
If you don’t buy certain ingredients for a while, say 3 years, they expire.

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Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Harden Not Your Heart

Jesus gives us miracle upon miracle.
During the day he multiples the loaves and fishes.
At night he walks on water.
But do his disciples marvel at his greatness.
No. They are like us -- terrified and lacking understanding.
Because unfortunately, like us, “their hearts were hardened.”

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Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Last Day of Christmas

“When the king of heaven was born, the heavens knew that he was God because they immediately sent forth a star; the sea knew him because it allowed him to walk upon it; the earth knew him because it trembled when he died; the sun knew him because it hid the rays of its light.”
~ Saint Gregory the Great

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Monday, January 5, 2009

Don’t Be Discouraged

“God loves people who try. That is what he wants,” she said with confidence.

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Sunday, January 4, 2009

Good Eats

I suspect all you domestic gods and goddesses already know about this site, but on the off chance you don’t, check out allrecipes.com. It’s my new favorite weapon against the dinner dilemma.

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Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Secret Life of Dishwashers

What happens on the bottom rack that certain dishes are forbidden from seeing?

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Friday, January 2, 2009

Friends Welcome Here

"Go often to the house of a friend for weeds soon cover the path."
~Scandinavian Proverb

Call if you need directions.

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Thursday, January 1, 2009

Hello, 2009

Welcome possibilities and new adventures, laughter and conversation. I know enough to know you will not be perfect, but I’m optimistic anyway.
And I’m excited to see what thrills await in your 365 days.

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