With Bells On

 

With Bells On

 

The season continues, as do I. To boost my own spirits, I’ve attached some bells to my old (old) army boots. The jingle-jangle of each step brings joy to my soul.

 

There’s no tree at our house this year. About the only things signifying the holidays are the cards on the mantel. Those and the array of colorful cans from the Beer Advent Calendar. Just last night I pointed out to Mister how the mantel area has become quite the mix of sophistication, quirk and frat house. Some things just leave a gal shaking her head.

 

Anyhoo – if you see me out in the world over the next couple of weeks, keep an ear open. I may very well have shown up with bells on. I do love to jingle-jangle.

I Made It For Myself

 

Savory Cheesecake

 

This is a savory cheesecake I made for a holiday party. I’m not blogging the recipe. I’m just letting you know that I got up early to make it, took my time and tried to make the final dish not only presentable but also festive.

 

This is the damned social season, whether we like it or not. And that very often means bringing something to our hosts. Some folks specifically ask that we not bring anything. Some request a contribution to the table. Some attendees (such as myself) struggle with walking in empty-handed, no matter what our hosts have requested. For us, if we’re bringing a bottle – easy. If we’re bringing treats for a friend’s beloved pet – no problem. If we’re cooking something, well, that isn’t always convenient. And sometimes it can be stressful AF.

 

So when making the savory cheesecake, I finally learned something that’s escaped me all these years: I made it for myself. That’s it. Yes, I was gifting the dish to the party I was attending. But I didn’t need or expect praise. I wasn’t trying to garner appreciation for the preparation and steps I’d taken. I wanted to make that cheesecake because I wanted to eat that cheesecake! Plain and simple. And y’all – some things are meant for a group. Gi-normous, savory cheesecake is one of those things.

 

During this holiday season, as you go about your harried, hurried way, please don’t knock yourself out to try and impress others. You don’t have to lose sleep and you don’t have to stress. Not over attending a party, for cry-eye. Store-bought is not only acceptable, it can also be fabulous. And if you choose to make something that takes time, blood, sweat and maybe even tears, do it for yourself. View it as art. Create something you appreciate. The joy you glean from your experience will more than satisfy.

 

One last thing… When you do create a delectable dish that makes you happy, it’s easier and more fun to make than if you’d felt pressured and strained in completing it. Because of all your positive energy, it’s also bound to be well-received. That savory cheesecake? Oh yeah. It was devoured.

Get Out of Your Mind

 

 

The other night I was painting at the studio and chatting with my buddy, Nicole. One of the topics covered was the importance of liking our nearest and dearest. And we weren’t merely talking about our romantic partners, either. Liking friends is pretty danged important, too.

 

When we fall in love with someone, we tend to be temporarily blinded to faults and less-than-perfect behavior. He pops his knuckles? That’s so cute! She wears socks to bed? How darling! Some of the things we don’t see at the beginning of a relationship can really drag a person down, five years in. But this is how we’re designed. Our biological imperative is to mate and to insure the survival of our species. That in-the-beginning blindness is our DNA’s way of trying to get knocked up.

 

It isn’t that different when friendships are formed. We become smitten with someone and think they’re the bee’s knees. We overlook the amount of energy required to simply carry on a conversation with a dude. Or we think her petty comments about our hair aren’t petty at all, and maybe she’s on to something and a style change is called for. Only after time has worn away the new relationship fog do we begin to truly see. And once we’ve seen how much effort it takes to entertain that dude, or how that chick’s comments are really veiled insults, only then do we begin to understand how unsuitable that person may be for a lasting friendship.

 

So yes. Liking someone is important. And it’s a two-way street. But I digress.

 

Back to the other night… As the conversation with my buddy progressed, both of us spoke of the value of time apart from our loved ones, no matter how much we like them. She said something about how lovely it is to miss a person. And how important it is to be able to feel that for someone. I agreed. As a gal in a long-friggin’-term marriage, I know what a gift it is to get someone out of our minds once in a while. When I said as much, another thought occurred to me: it is just as important to get away from oneself every now and then.

 

That really got me thinking. I mean – how do I get away from myself, and give me some space? Meditation is one answer. And if you’re a practitioner, you surely know the grace granted from that discipline. Personally, I’ve never been very good at solitary meditation. I tend to benefit more from a class, or from a guided situation. But that doesn’t mean I haven’t experienced meditative bliss. Painting is meditative. So is gardening. Any practice that engages my mind to the point of absorption and single-minded focus is meditative for me. And it is during those moments that I am able to get out of my own mind and, as a result, get a break from myself.

 

Don’t get me wrong. I love me. I do. And most of the time I actually like myself! In fact, I’m quite partial to my own company and truly enjoy my Mikki time. (If you’re lucky, you feel the same way about time with yourself.) It’s beautiful to appreciate one’s company. Beautiful and fabulous. And yet – I occasionally need a break from me. Meditative practices give me those breaks and allow me to miss me.

 

When I realized all this, after talking with my buddy, I knew I had figured out a small part of my relationship with myself. And it made me happy. Not only that, it made me appreciate me even more. As my own best friend and most trusted advocate, that appreciation is a blessing.

 

We’re about to enter that phase of the year when the parties and family get-togethers seem endless. Some of the faces we’ll see will have been missed dearly. Some – not so much. But see them we shall. So let’s try and administer a bit of self-care during these last few months of the year. Let’s engage our minds in meditative activities as often as possible. Let’s give ourselves some love and some space. After all – all those social commitments are temporary. Those relationships, be they family or friend, will never be as intimate as the one we practice with ourselves.

 

Love yourself. Please. You deserve it. I swear to beans.

Popular

 

 

Recently someone asked if I was available for a get-together in early December. After hearing the date she had in mind, I told her I was already booked for that night. And then, after going over a few more dates, it became quite clear that I couldn’t make any of her suggested days. She then asked, “Wow! Are you and your husband popular or something?”

 

At this time of year, everyone I know is crazy-busy. There simply aren’t enough days for all the soirees, parties, lunches, get-togethers and happenstances. I know I say it every year, but it bears saying again: Why is the Social Season compacted into a few short weeks at the end of each year?

 

I can’t remember it always being this way, but maybe it has been. Maybe I’ve just not noticed. Whether long-term or a recent habit doesn’t really matter though. The truth is we are all too busy right now. Speaking for myself, all these commitments only serve to fuel my inner desire to hunker down and stay home. That isn’t really an option, but it is a strong-ass yearning. And when I am home, I am happier than a denuded lark in a thistle patch.

 

Anyhoo – after my friend asked about our being popular, I looked her square in the eye and said, “Yes! We are popular. You might not know it to look at us, but we are a lot of fun.” And I sincerely meant it.

And So It Begins…

 

 

It’s on, y’all. Oh, it’s on.

 

The Social Season has kicked off and for us it began with an outdoor soiree, featuring a lovely jazz band. Not only did we enjoy the music, we also got to talk with the keyboard master, Mr. Bobby Pierce. And he was a real gentleman.

 

Here’s hoping your Social Season is kind, lovely and swingin’!

Ride the Wave

 

 

It would seem the social season is kicking in, and that means a busy schedule. Drinks, a wedding reception, dinner, visitors, meetings – it’s all going down over the next few days. For this homebody of a gal, it’s a lot.

 

But I can handle it. I can. I mean, it’s a blessing to be invited to so many events. It’s a blessing to be liked, for cry-eye. Basically, it’s a blessing.

 

And by it I mean Life, the Universe and Everything. Amen.