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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