Monthly Archives: March 2014

The final countdown

“Not My Friend”–Norah Jones
Help me breathe,

Help me believe,
You seem really glad that I am sad.

You are not my friend,
I cannot pretend that you are.

April is not my friend.

It seems that no sooner do the bells ring in the new year than my stress level begins to increase. Even when I’m not consciously thinking about it, my anxiety rises incrementally day by day as the calendar creeps closer to April.

It’s not just the fact that, historically, April has been unkind to our nation. Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr. were both assassinated in April. Tragedies at Waco, Oklahoma City, Columbine, and Virginia Tech all occurred in April. Last year, the bombing of the Boston Marathon joined the list of this nation’s April heartaches. All of that is reason enough to make any American dread the first full month of spring.

But April has also been especially cruel to my family. I lost three of my four biological grandparents in April. My dad and his younger brother both died in April. My beloved kitty had to be euthanized two Aprils ago. The days of loss and sadness on my calendar far outnumber the days of joy.

april friend

I’m tired of letting April cast its dark shadow over my life. Instead of sitting around this year waiting for the other shoe to drop, I’ve decided to take proactive steps to put some light back into the next 30 days, to create some happy moments that will crowd out sad memories.

April also happens to be the month of the A to Z Challenge, brainchild of Arlee Bird. The idea is that participating bloggers will publish one post each day (except Sundays) during April, with each entry corresponding to a given letter of the alphabet. In other words, the blogger’s post will somehow be tied to the letter A on April 1, will revolve around the letter B on April 2, and so on, right through to the letter Z on April 30. Bloggers are free to interpret this challenge any way they choose, so photographers, travelogue-ers, memoir writers, fiction authors, poets, and recipe junkies alike can participate. Last year, I had a regular weekly schedule of postings that I followed throughout most of the year, so I just tailored my A to Z Challenge entries to fit.

This year, I’ve decided on a unifying theme for the A to Z Challenge, a theme that will hopefully help to loosen the chokehold April has on my emotions. I will spend the month committing random acts of kindness, 26 of them, one for each letter of the alphabet. I don’t claim that every act will be my own unique invention–I’ve found a lot of great ideas out there that I plan to borrow. I will log each RAoK here, and hope that doing for others will boost my mood as much as theirs. Ultimately, I hope to make this April something to smile about.

I also hope that everyone who is inspired by my posts to commit their own random acts of kindness this month will share their experiences in the comments. Maybe a plague of kindness will infect the nation and we can drive out whatever madness has repeatedly made April such a tragic month in American history.

atoz [2014] - BANNER - 910


Posted by on March 31, 2014 in Challenges, True Life



Where am I supposed to put my ChapStick?

After five years of working from home, I’ve reentered the workforce. I’ll be honest, it’s taking some adjustment. Gone are the days of rolling out of bed at 6:45 a.m. in order to be in front of the computer by 7:00 a.m. I’m now getting up at 4:45 a.m. so I can get to the gym before I clock in at 8:00. I’m learning how to divvy up household chores throughout the week instead of tackling them all on one day as in the past. I’ve resigned myself to the fact that the crafty projects on my to-do list are now probably destined to languish there for all eternity.

chapstickBut the toughest adjustments all revolve around the fact that I’ve been forced to ditch my daytime pajamas for a real work wardrobe.

  • The pile of ironing, formerly comprised of the hubby’s dress shirts, has become a mountain. I foresee the swift development of a close and continuing relationship with the local dry cleaner.
  • Dress shoes suck. They pinch my toes. They cut my heels. And those are the comfortable ones.
  • In the five years since I’ve last had to buy them, manufacturers have adjusted the size chart for panty hose. My height has had me firmly in the “B” size since the 8th grade, but in the new and not-so-improved chart, I now find myself to be a “Q.” Thanks for that ego killer, Hanes.
  • Far and away, the most distressing aspect of working outside the home: Skirts and dress pants rarely have pockets. I am a ChapStick addict. I. NEED. A. POCKET. I’m going to have to carve some time out of my new schedule to find/make a holster that I can attach to the lanyard of my ID badge.

Otherwise, the new job is great. It’s great to dust off skills I haven’t used in a while and to learn new ones specific to my new organization (I had made it this far in life without using Microsoft Outlook, but I can’t avoid it any longer). I am enjoying being around people again, who, unlike the four walls of my home office, tend to answer questions I ask of them. And I really like the fulfillment of a paycheck automatically landing in the bank account every two weeks.

In the coming weeks, I’ll be stalking the halls, observing my coworkers to see if warmer weather brings a transition from nylons and heels to bare legs and sandals. If so, I’ll be convinced that the decision to reenter the workforce was the right one. As long as I have a ChapStick holster.


Posted by on March 30, 2014 in How It Is, On Me


Six Word Saturday 3/29

photo 1Well, at least it’s not snow



Weekly photo challenge: Reflection

The Oxford Canal ran through the small village where I lived in England. Whenever it wasn’t raining (and often when it was) I would wander down to the towpath that ran parallel to the canal, flip a coin to decide if I was going upstream or down, then spend an hour or so ambling along the waterway. I loved being there in the early mornings, when the water was glassy-calm and the narrowboat pilots were still too busy savoring their bacon baps and morning cuppas to cast off their lines and motor toward destinations unknown. Here are a few of my favorite reflections from those peaceful morning strolls (click on any image to see the full size version).

The photo below is a bit of an optical illusion. With the exception of the portion of grassy bank in the bottom left corner, everything else is a reflection on the surface of the canal. What appears to be the sun rising over a foggy mountain is actually the sun peeking out from behind a cloud. There is a false shoreline through the middle of the photo, created by the reflection of a jet’s contrail. The skeletal tree limbs are also nothing but a reflection, although the top portion appears solid enough to be the actual tree (if you’re not convinced, notice there is no symmetry between the top and bottom half).


This post is part of The Daily Post‘s Weekly Photo Challenge.



Travel theme: Pink

For some awesome shades of pink you’ve never seen in your box of crayons, visit Ailsa at Where’s my backpack?


Posted by on March 24, 2014 in Challenges, Photography



Six Word Saturday

record player

Photo by avern, posted on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons 2.0

Trying to find my new groove.


Starting this week, The One Minute Writer is bringing back its most popular weekly event, in which participants sum up their life or current situation in only six words.


Posted by on March 22, 2014 in On Me, Six Word Saturday, True Life


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Weekly Photo Challenge: Inside

101_8784Tōdai-ji, the Eastern Great Temple, in Nara, Japan, houses the world’s largest bronze statue of Daibutsu. The statue is protected by an enormous wooden structure, the Daibutsuden, or Great Buddha Hall. A hole has been carved through one of the massive wooden pillars that support the roof of the hall; the opening has the same dimensions as the nostril of the Buddha statue. Visitors of all ages find great joy in trying to squeeze themselves through the replica of Buddha’s nostril.

Find more interpretations of “inside” at The Daily Post.