Monday, August 29, 2011

One Man's Junk...

You know the saying one man's junk is another man's treasure, right? It's practically a prerequisite to have a junk drawer in your house. I remember looking at houses a little over a year ago. As we would walk through each house, I would comment about a drawer in the kitchen that would make a nice junk drawer. Our realtor said she hadn't heard a comment like this before. She said she had heard things like, "great cupboard space, nice work area," but never what terrific potential junk drawer! Glad I could spice things up a little.

So last week I was looking for a pair of scissors. Shouldn't be a difficult task. The scissors should be in the junk drawer. We have three pair that are fairly sharp and meant for general purposes. I open the drawer and there is not a single pair to be found. Come on. Three pair? Not one in its intended storage space. I have drilled my mantra into my family's heads. Everything has a home. Use it, and return it to its home. I guess on this particular day all three pairs of scissors had appointments or were on vacation. I looked in the usual places. The office was the first place. Nope. Then Gracie's room. No luck there either. To the basement I went. I did a quick scan and found nothing. Back up the steps and out to the garage. There they were. All three of them. How could I be mad? Gracie and some friends had been crafting. They are so creative. It brought a smile to my face.

Still smiling, I returned the scissors to their rightful home and noticed what a messy home it was. So I did a little purging. This cleaning out business is therapeutic. Really. I found a few things that could definitely be tossed. For example, a bra extender. What's that? Well, about twelve years ago, pregnant as a pumpkin, I was feeling a little uncomfortable. Yes, the bra was a little binding. I went to a department store to buy new ones and the sales lady suggested this little hook and eye contraption. Her logic was that I was only going to be this chest size temporarily, so why not buy a temporary fix and spend all of my money on nursing bras. Well, in theory this was a good idea. In truth, I never used the puzzle piece bra extender. And I never will. I'll toss that.

I tossed and recycled a few other things, too. I feel lighter and less burdened. I'm not kidding. The scissors are safely tucked in for the night. My junk drawer is tidy. I have a few things for Goodwill. Perhaps someone will buy these items and to them they will be treasures. One never knows.

©2011 Ann M. De Broux

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Change of Season

This past weekend I was at my cottage in northern Wisconsin. I could hardly believe it when I saw a few trees changing colors. Sometimes in Madison I feel like we live down in the deep south. I know that I'm exaggerating. The temperatures are different from what we had been used to in Appleton. It's always a little hotter and a bit more humid. This makes sense, I guess. We are an hour and a half south of Appleton and in a different weather pattern. And the same goes for the trip from Appleton to the cottage. Another hour and a half north and again it's different.

Hence the color change in the trees. I get this meteorology. I really do, but still, from the time I leave my house and get to my cottage, hopefully three hours later, I've passed through three different kinds of weather. Not always, but it does happen. I will be 45 shortly and I know these changes in season and weather happen every year at approximately the same time. And do you know what? I need it. I need a change in weather to remind me that I'm not in a slump. I need to have a change in season to get motivated to spring clean. I need relief from the heat. In the winter I crave the warm after the extreme cold. It gives us something to look forward to. Herein lies a little danger. We need to appreciate the time we are in. The season we are in. Try hard to live in the moment. Don't spend so much time planning for tomorrow, or next week, or retirement, that you forget to live for today. Even if today is crazy busy and you can't wait for it to end.

I love the changes in season. It gives me an excuse to purge my house. Not that I need one. A new season gives me holidays to enjoy with friends and family. A new season gives me an excuse to hibernate and read. New seasons always can be counted on. My favorite season is on it's way and I can't wait to smell the leaves, enjoy the colors and make lots of soup. I'm getting ahead of myself. Tonight I will grill burgers and enjoy my time on the deck with family and friends.

©2011 Ann M. De Broux

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Howdy Folks

It's been one of those weeks. I'm sorry and will be back with you as soon as I can be. Maybe even later this week!

Monday, August 15, 2011

What Really Matters

I find myself worrying about things that don't really matter in the long run. I'm not a so called worry wart, but I worry just the same. I should say that I worry less than I used to. That is a gift that age has given me. Words of wise older people in my life now ring true. I have been told that worrying is useless because it is a waste of time. I have been told that worrying doesn't change things. This is also true.

But what if something or someone is completely out of our control? What if there is nothing that we can do? Is it better to worry or do nothing at all? I just read a little piece of knowledge that worriers actually are proven to live longer. This, I find hard to believe. I guess there are statistics to back it up, but still...

When I find myself in a situation ripe for worry there are a few things that I do. First, I give myself the worst case scenario. To some this may seem like a negative thing to do. For me it prepares me and sets into motion the feeling of things can only get better. Then I try to think logically about the situation. I evaluate it. I dissect it. I try to come up with solutions or things that I may be able to help the situation.

There are times when tears and laughter are appropriate. I have a wicked sense of humor and love that same trait in others. We all know that comedy and tragedy are closely related. And this is the final thing that I do. I pray. I am a spiritual person. I don't force my beliefs on anyone. For me this is important. This is what really matters. I take stock of all that I have. And by this I don't mean possessions. I mean faith, family and friends. I make each day count. I try to live a regret free life. This is my focus and to me this is what really matters.

©2011 Ann M. De Broux

Sunday, August 7, 2011

A Simple Thank You

In this day of technology it's rare that we get mail. I mean of the hand written variety. Everything is emailed and texted. We chat online. We talk on the phone and we Skype. But how often do you get mail that actually has hand writing on it? I used to write thank you notes every day when I worked in marketing. If I met with someone or talked with someone on the phone, I was sure to send a hand written thank you with my business card. This gesture was commented on more than once. A colleague once said, "where do find the time?' Another person said, "your mother must have taught you well." Well, she did. After holidays and birthday celebrations we always made time to thank relatives and friends for their time and gifts that we received.

I was busy writing thank you notes after our wedding. I believe I had been writing for many evenings in a row. I'm not complaining. Where was Scott you ask? He was there. For moral support anyway. Initially he did help. After many questions like, "what would you say about the purple vase? And how do you thank someone for towels? Or what's a duvet?" I said I would write the notes. In hindsight, I do believe that he was aware of what a duvet was. We were very fortunate to have received many kind gifts. But I was at the hand cramping stage. I would take a break and step away from writing for a while. On this particular night I was almost to the end of this labor of love. A family member had been sweet enough to write down who had given what gift and almost always had put the card with the gift to eliminate any issues of who gave us the gift. Until the last two gifts. The cards had fallen off of the gifts and we had no way of knowing which card went with which gift. One gift was a large bowl. This bowl was colorful and could be used for many purposes. I have mixed cakes and cookies in this bowl. I have filled it with fruit and used it as a centerpiece. The other gift was a stock pot. The super heavy variety. The kind that you can make a double batch of anything in. What was I to do? I contemplated for a long time. Do I call the people and explain the situation? No. Sounded too tacky to me. Should I do some behind the scenes detective work and start calling people in the family? No. The risks of the two gift givers finding out are immeasurable. So I did the next best thing. Because both gifts were from family. And because both gifts had to do with eating. I did what anyone in their right mind would do. The thank you read something like this, "Thank you for being part of our wedding day. It was wonderful to have you with us. Family means so much and your gift will help us in gathering our family together in many future celebrations and meals."

Whew! If that wasn't the chicken's way out I don't know what was. It is now nineteen years later and I still don't know who gave what gift. I guess it doesn't really matter. I hope that the important thing was this. A gracious gift was given. This same gift was graciously received. A simple heartfelt thank you was sent. I believe that was all that was needed. Thank you, mom, for teaching me well.

©2011 Ann M. De Broux

Monday, August 1, 2011

Tale of Two Cities

Two places that couldn't be more different. San Francisco, CA, and Townsend, WI. Gracie, my mom and dad are in San Francisco. Scott and I are in Townsend. Gracie and my folks are enjoying the Christmas gift that she was given. My mom and dad are wonderful at thinking outside the box. These "experience" gifts are absolutely priceless. They are in their third day of this trip and already it is a hit! They have a room with a view of the city. They have eaten at Mel's Diner. They are learning their way around on the bus and subway systems. They have been to Fisherman's Wharf and are headed to Chinatown today. They will have lunch and tour a fortune cookie factory. Tomorrow they will fly kites in Golden Gate Park. The list goes on. We love the phone calls that we are getting with all of the colorful explanations of the places they are seeing. Scott and I have been there. We can relate.

Then we tell Gracie and my mom and dad what we've been up to. Not much really. We joke that we're in training to become sloths. I'm sort of kidding. We did the mandatory maintenance around the cottage. We have run a few errands. We've seen some people we know. We have eaten well. The dogs have been joining us in our laziness. We watched a movie. We nap and laugh. We will go boating. They can relate when we tell them what we are doing in return. Gracie, mom and dad have experienced our cottage, too.

No matter where you vacation. Whether your time is filled with education and touring and brand new experiences. Or if your time is spent reclining in your lawn chair on the deck, reading and watching an otter swim by. Vacations are a time to enjoy. Big or small, they add so much to our lives. And we'll all have tales to tell when we get home.