Monday, June 19, 2017

The Perfect Balance

Every time and I mean every time anyone asks my dad, "How are you today?" his answer is:
"Everyday's a great day... as long as you're alive."  I love that he says this and I feel that he truly feels that way. He's a very "glass-half full" kind of man.

But my philosophy is slightly different.

Every day is not a good day. Some days- or at least parts of some days- suck.  And other days are off-the-charts-fantastic! And still, others are right there in the middle.  It's those middle ones, the days that seem neither significantly good or bad, that I like to apply Dad's philosophy to.  If it's just an okay day, I want to remember to look closer and see greatness in all the little things.

Now... about those days that feel far from great, the ones that actually feel pretty shitty--- that's what I'd like to comment on now.

I'll use the weather as my way of analogy here.  If every single day was sunny, that sunny blue sky might start to feel redundant.  I could easily start to take it for granted, and maybe not even notice it. It's the overcast days, especially those stormy days-- that help me notice the sunny ones all the more.  And remember to really appreciate and soak them in, whenever they come my way.

This weekend, our friends came to visit us while we're in Asheville.  Due to bad weather, their original flight got delayed, cancelled, and eventually rerouted.  They ended up flying into a different city, getting in well after 1am.  From there, they had to rent a hotel room without their luggage, because the airline sent that somewhere else, and at that point, their bags and pretty much all of their belongings, were M.I.A.

The next morning, they had to wait until noon for a rent car to become available.  Then, they had a 2 hour commute to get to us.  They ended up getting to the house about a day late, wearing their clothes from the day before.

So that part was not a great day.  But you know what was?  All those moments over the next two days that we did get to be with them.  The airlines finally located their bags so we all drove the 3 hour round trip to that airport to get their luggage. They were so happy to finally get a change of clothes. And although it was not on the fun agenda of plans Fermin and I had concocted for us, that drive back and forth to the airport was still fun.  We were all together, driving in a beautiful area, on our way to pick up their bags!  Woo hoo!!!

That's what I mean.  I don't think every day is a great day.  But I think having some good, and some not-so-good, can make for great moments, and really...a great life.  

I dug around on YouTube to find this song I wrote over 10 years ago about this very topic.  I'm accompanied by my friend, Cornell Kinderknecht on flute.  Performing with him was definitely a great day.


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Catawba Falls

This morning, Lucy and I headed off for a hike to Catawba Falls.  It's a waterfall in the Pisgah National Forest, and Lucy and I both love waterfalls!

It was about a 25 minute drive from where we are staying.  And like all the drives we take, every day here in North Carolina, it was beautiful.  Trees, trees, and more trees.

I love that I don't have to deal with traffic here like we do in Dallas.  For now, we just have the Jeep here, which is Fermin's car, not mine.  I'm sort of a granny driver anyway, and in an unfamiliar car- even more so.  But no one's honking at me, or flipping me off for going slow, like they probably would in Dallas.  The soundtrack for most of this trip has been James Taylor... It started because of his song, "In My Mind I'm Going to Carolina", and it just went on from there.  He sings about Carolina quite a bit! Anyway, we definitely take it easy on the road-- there's no need for rushing around here.

We arrived safely and were on our way to see the Falls!
Lucy can't wait!
When we first got out of the car, we saw a few people in the parking lot. Lucy barked and acted a little sassy.  But soon after, she pulled over to some grass for a potty break.  I'm pretty sure that explained her slightly bitchy attitude she had when she first arrived.  She was trying to let everyone know, "Please, get out of my way!  Don't talk to me!  I gotta poo!"  We've all been there.  It's understandable.

Once that was out of the way, we had a nice little hike. 
My Little Wigglebutt

And after a mile or two, we came to the top where you could see the waterfall... It was much better in real life, as most all things are, but here's a little snap of it.
quite a few people had the same idea as Lucy and I today... because who doesn't love a waterfall?
At the end of our hike, we were rewarded by getting to meet Ivy, a little Ricky Ricardo look alike.  She was 13 weeks old.  Lucy immediately took to her, perhaps thinking she was Little Ricky!
Little Ivy
Great fun today with my happy girl!
A happy hike, means a happy life!

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

No More Wasted Days

I've lived in Dallas forever.  And that's a mighty long time. 

So now, there's talk that we may be moving- to one of the dreamiest spots I could imagine- the Asheville area of North Carolina.  My husband and I decided that it made sense to come visit here for the month, get familiar with the area, see how it works for him travel-wise, etc

We split our drive into two days- because the drive was long.  Even longer than the GPS estimated.  Due to traffic, construction, frequent bathroom breaks (damn you, small bladder!), and meals... it was two full days of driving.

We got in late Thursday, and then settled in over the weekend... and now, here we are, nearly a week after leaving Dallas.  It's gorgeous, and I love everything I've seen so far.
this is the street, right in front of the house we're staying in
 But...

I had this epiphany today while walking Ricky at this little lake very near the house we are staying in.  Stick with me here, I'll get to it, but let me do it in a slightly rambling way...
this is Ricky, during my epiphany at the lake!
Fermin is working each day.  Just like he normally would if we were in Dallas.  He works from home when he isn't traveling.  So far, he hasn't wanted or had time for morning hikes before work.  But for instance, today he said we could all go hike after lunch.  I waited around and he came downstairs around 1pm to eat lunch.  I asked him when we were going out for our hike and he said his day got way too busy.

Which is why I then got in the car and drove to the lake just 5 minutes from here. Not exactly a hike, but nice and easy to get to. 

While I was at the lake area, I saw a bulletin board that posted local events going on this week.  A beginners class to woodworking for only $5, line dancing one night, etc.  Not that those things necessarily appealed to me, but seeing that did make me wonder what the f am I doing here?  We came out here to explore, get familiar, answer the questions we have about NC.  Although Fermin has work to do, my only job while here is to immerse myself in the area and get familiar with it. 

But I've been waiting until Fermin can do it with me.

I drove his car to an area about half and hour away yesterday and it felt like a big adventure on my own.  But all it was was checking out one of the many towns I'm curious about, and doing drive-bys on a handful of homes I saw on Realtor.com in that area.  It doesn't sound like a big deal but I have been being such a weenie on adventure lately, I'm just very rusty.

That all ends NOW.

For the rest of our time in North Carolina, it's total immersion for me.  Every day, I'm doing something that is at least slightly out of my comfort zone.  If there's something I'm curious about, I'm going to go check it out.  If there's a house I want to see, or an area I want to learn about, I'm not only going to drive there, I'm actually going to talk to people there!  I'm going to get some realtors to meet me and actually show me the INSIDES of some of these houses!  I'm not going to just go on the nearby easy walks each day: I'm taking hikes in new places!

Because that's why I'm here.  It's not Fermin's job to hold my hand through all of this.  He has his job (and I'm so thankful that he brings home the bacon!) but I should take this exploration of North Carolina on as MY job.  When he can join me on it, I know he will.

I have been ridiculous so far.  But I figured it all out today. No more wasted days.  Not one.


Friday, June 2, 2017

Unknowing

I've always "known" I could probably never write a book.

But I love to write.  It's been the most consistent creative outlet throughout my life, beginning with my first diary my dad gave me in 1976 when I was pretty new to the printed word.
Dad's "dedication page" in my first diary! ❤️
I kept diaries throughout my childhood, and as I grew a little older, at some point, I started calling them journals. I still write in a journal somewhat regularly, even now.  I also have a few blogs and I publish posts for those each week.  And, I've written lots of songs.

All of those writing endeavors feel pretty natural to me.  I can plop down and write something complete in one sitting. And then move on. Because I don't ever have any sort of expectation that it's suppose to be something great or hugely important.

And although I've always told myself I could never write a book, I've always wanted to.  Probably most people who write have that as a goal somewhere in their soul.

Lately, I've started to think, maybe I can write a book. It's recently become very clear to me what I want to write my first book about.  And that certainly feels like progress. I plan to write a series of essays based on sentimental artifacts I've come across lately.  This idea shouldn't seem too overwhelming.  After all, it's just essays. On real life topics.  Sounds very much like my blog posts.

Except that it isn't.  It somehow seems so much more important.  I don't even know exactly why. It feels like such a big task before me to figure out how to tell these stories in the best way.  What to include, what to leave out, and how to weave them all together so they feel cohesive.  I want to honor these sentimental valuables and write down the stories that they stir up for me so I will have them forever.

I have been writing most days for the past month, but I still don't feel like I have anything to show for it.  I've started on several essays but haven't even completed writing a first draft for a single one.

But I like it.  I like that this feels like a new endeavor that's going to be very challenging and meaningful to me. I like it that my head sort of hurts after I spend time looking for the right words, and the best paths to tell these stories.

I never said I had to show these essays, this potential book, to anyone.  It's just for me.  Yet, I still find it intimidating. Unlike a blog post, or a song, I can't just write these essays in a day or two and then move on.  I've got to sit with them.  And let things marinate.  And just keep pecking away. And eventually, and hopefully, I'll be happy with the way I tell these stories that are so meaningful to me.

I will soon be on an extended vacation, and I plan to spend a lot of time completing 3 of these essays.  Just three.  And then I can go on from there. I'm not quite sure exactly how many there will be in all, but three rough drafts this month feels like a reasonable goal.

I'm hoping to prove to myself that I've been wrong all this time. Because I'm starting to think that maybe I can write a book.

Monday, May 15, 2017

One Person's Junk...

I've been reading through my childhood diaries lately.  It's so fun, and so funny. And, it's reminding me of things I hadn't thought about it a long time.  I love looking back at them with my now adult perspective on things.  I seriously find the whole thing fascinating!

I ran across this little entry I wrote back in 1983:
I shared it on my Facebook page, and lots of people chimed in and left funny comments.  It seemed that most people could remember what it felt like to be an angsty teen, or in my case, pre-teen.

One person left a comment that just rubbed me the wrong way.  She said something to the effect of, "Ugh, I threw out all my old things from Jr. High and High School years ago to save my kids the burden of one day having to go through all that.  Memories are good enough.  I don't need that junk."

Wow.  Thanks, Debbie Downer.  I now realize that contrary to what I thought when my parents told me I couldn't go to the Police concert, they were NOT assholes.  But you are.

I am so thankful I've held onto these old keepsakes.  I don't have a great memory on some things, and so I am devouring this stuff as revisit my youth.  I've saved diaries, tons of photos, and important letters- including so many love letters between Fermin and I.  It's all taken up some space at the top of my closet that I wouldn't have used otherwise. It's not cluttering up the place or anything like that. And if I were to die tomorrow, I don't think anyone would feel burdened by these things- They can just throw out the boxes I keep everything in if they want.  Not a big deal. 

Anyway, I agree with Debbie Downer that memories are great to have.  But you don't get to keep all that many, really.  I have run across so many little stories and memories I never, ever would have remembered if I didn't have these things.  I feel so lucky to have held on to it all.  It's a gift I gave to myself, and I really didn't even realize it as I did it.

This may look like junk to someone else, but it's not that to me at all.


Sunday, May 14, 2017

My Mamasita Fina

My fine little momma ❤️
I've now had a dozen years of a Mother's Day without my mom around.  I'll be honest and say, those first several years were torturous and I wallowed in self-pity on many of those Mother's Days.  Although I still miss her, and think of her so often, it's not with the same deep sadness that it used to be.

I remember Mom just like this picture implies-  a little ray of sunshine.  And now, I figure she really IS part of that sunshine that greets me on a daily basis. My Mamasita Fina.



Friday, May 12, 2017

Writing By the Glass

I'm embarking on a new writing project.  Longer than a song or a blog post.  So it sort of makes me nervous.  But also, excited!

Right now, my head is bubbling with ideas but I don't have a clear path of how I want to go about telling this story. The blank page is just as daunting for me as it is for everyone. But I figure if I just spend time with it daily, it will work itself out. 

I know that I can easily be distracted by email, Facebook, Instagram, and of course- weird Trump tweets. Those things are (mainly) just forms of procrastination.  So during my dedicated writing time I'm shutting off my Wi-Fi on my computer, and leaving my iPhone in another room.  Since I sometimes use my iPhone as a timer, I realized I needed another form of keeping track of time.  So, I ordered this awesome hourglass I found on Amazon.

It's not technically an hourglass.  This pink sand counts down by the half hour.  For me, that's even better.  Sometimes, uninterrupted 30 minute segments are about all I can take anyway.  When I'm really on a roll, I can flip it over and go again for another half hour. 

I like that there's no ticking involved, no buzzer once the time is up, and if I want to just watch the pink sand trickle in for a few minutes, it feels pretty zen.

No matter what, I'm sitting down to write 30 minutes every single day from now until at least July 4.  Who knows, maybe by then it will be a habit.  And maybe my writing project will be going and flowing so well, I just won't want to stop!  But it's also okay with me if it all sucks.  I know bad writing eventually leads to better writing.  30 minutes at a time...

Thursday, May 11, 2017

House Full of Yes!

This week and next, I have painters in my house.  It's the first time I've ever hired someone else to paint anything inside of my house.  It's a big job, because we decided to do the entire house all at once, and one that I didn't want to take on myself this time around.  As you can see below, I like color, and I don't have any "white" walls in the house. But I know for resale purposes, I need to tone things down around here. So, I'm neutralizing these walls, as we're in the beginning stages of getting our house ready to sell.

Last week, I lined up five different painters to give me bids on the job after getting some recommendations from neighbors and friends.  I felt like I was off to a great start when the first bid I got was slightly lower than I was expecting.  That guy said he couldn't start the job right away, he could start it in a couple of months- which at first, I was thinking was my ideal time anyway. He seemed nice enough, fair, honest, and I had read a lot of good feedback about him from our neighborhood online page.

The second bid I got was from a man named Guillermo.  I have a friend who used to live in Dallas and she flipped a lot of houses.  I figured she'd have some good connections.  I texted her and got his contact info from her. I called him up, and he said he could swing over later that day.

Guillermo and his brother showed up, with sweet smiles on their faces.  I mean really sweet.  We walked around the house so he could see what all we wanted done, just smiling and saying, "Okay." and "Yes." the whole time.  I had that feeling that you sometimes get that pretty much, no matter what, I wanted this guy (and his brother) to do the job. He left and after I shut the door behind him, I looked at my husband and said, "Do you think he understood all of that?" and Fermin said, "Yes! Okay!"  We both laughed, and although we weren't really sure what was understood exactly, it didn't really seem like it mattered all that much. 

The next day, Guillermo actually hand delivered his bid.  And it was slightly lower than the previous guy.  I was so glad that all signs and reasons were pointing me to hire this guy, who I had such the strong feeling of "Ok! Yes!" from the start.

I had three other people lined up to come give me their bids the next day, but they both got in touch with me to reschedule until the following day.  And that was all the sign I needed.  I knew I wanted to call Guillermo that night and tell him I wanted he and his brother, Raul to do the job. So, sorry to the other guys but I didn't really care about their bid enough to wait an additional day.  I'm a snap decision maker, and I tend to go with my gut.  For me, it was very clear that I had already found the right people for the job.

When I called Guillermo to tell him I wanted him to paint my house, he of course said "Ok! Yes!" and although I couldn't see him, I know he was smiling. He and his brother were available to start anytime we were ready.  Even though originally, I was sort of thinking July might be best, I realized sometimes NOW is the best time.  What if Guillermo and his brother had another job later in the summer, or went to Mexico or something? Also, for Lucy and Ricky's sake, I knew the cooler days of May would be much better for them than July to spend a lot of time outside while the painting is being done. I figured Guillermo and his brother would need a few days to line things up and be available to us, but also figures it never hurts to ask so I did: "Tomorrow?"  As usual, his answer was "Okay! Yes!" When  I asked him if he could start at 10am, well, you know what he said.

Now I'm in my office, they're two days into this paint project and the smell of paint is becoming a bit overwhelming.  But it's soothed by the sounds of Guillermo and Raul.  I have no idea what in the world they're saying because they speak Spanish the whole time, but they're talking softly and laughing all day long.  Happy people.  And it's such a contagious thing.  I feel happy, even though three rooms of my house area in complete chaotic arrangement right now, and the fumes are giving me a slight, steady headache.

It's a house full of "Okay! Yes!" around here for the next week or two.  I picked the right guys for the job.  I'm positive!  Okay! Yes!

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Moving Like a Minimalist

I'm of the mindset that when I want something to happen, I can't just sit around and wait... I gotta get in there and do what I can to make it happen. So, although Fermin and I don't yet know the specifics on exactly when and where we're moving, we know we are moving.  The details will unfold, but for now, we just know we're moving.

And I want to feel like I'm doing something to help keep that ball rolling along.  Because I want it to happen sooner rather than later.  Because I've lived in Dallas my entire life, and seriously that question, "If not now, when?!" applies here.

So one day, I told Fermin I was running up to Home Depot to get some moving boxes to start packing up.  He looked at me like I was crazy and said, "What?  Kerri, once we know where we're moving we can pack up all of our stuff in 3 days!"

Maybe we're both a little crazy, but maybe we're also both on to something.  First of all, let's start with me.  It always takes longer than you think to do just about anything- especially pack up all your stuff for a move, I don't really think you can start too early, and it's a great way of Spring cleaning.  As I'm packing up our things, I'm only going to keep the things I really care about and seem worth the trouble of moving.  If something doesn't "spark joy", (that phrase I love, coined by Marie Kondo, author of the book The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up) it's going into the pile for donating instead.  Since I currently have time to thoughtfully go through our things, I can be thorough and organized about it.  This will make the move, and the unpacking far better.  I'm sure of it.  Also, as I remove more and more of the "knick knacks", I realize I want less and less of that in my updated, more mature decorating style.

And although I do think packing up our things will absolutely take more than 3 days, Fermin had me look around and think what would we really even want to bother with... and he's right. It surely isn't everything, and the job probably isn't quite as big as I had first thought.  I'd like to let go of most of our old furniture and decor that we bought over 15 years ago.  Like my hair and my clothes, my home decor style preferences have changed a lot since the early 2000s  So moving to a new place is a great time to ditch the old stuff that we no longer are in love with. (Thank God, we're still in love with each other... So neither of us will get ditched.)

This next time around, I'm not just buying a table because it seems like a table should go "there".  I'm not buying anything until I need it for a real reason. I'm not buying more chairs than I need, or tables, or paintings.  I'm going to be really thoughtful, and really careful about anything I bring into my new home.  All of it has to spark joy.  And as long as it does, it can come in and it can stay.  But once it doesn't... I'm letting it go.

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Lucky Boy

Ricky Ricardo, my Lucky Boy
I just finished reading Lucky Boy by Shanthi Sekaran.  SO GOOD.  Although, the title is slightly misleading.  But it's also thought provoking to think about that title after you finish reading it. 

It's a well told story, with great characters.  The main charactors are two women who's lives intersect by one "lucky" boy.  Soli is from Mexico and she illegally immigrates to American, and becomes pregnant during her journey to get here.  Kavya is an American citizen who decides to foster a child, in hopes of adoption, once she has given up on the idea of having her own biological child. 

Lucky Boy was long (just under 470 pages), but didn't feel that way.  There was no clear side you were necessarily rooting for, and you knew that in the end, someone was going to be heartbroken.  But as sad and as hard as this story is, it's based on many stories that are TRUE.  And it probably is one of the "luckier" ones. 

Such a current topic, and one I loved really delving into and seeing it from a few different angles.

This is the author's first book.  I'm always amazed when someone's first book is something this brilliant.  But like I recently heard Liz Gilbert say on her "Magic Lessons" podcast, your first book didn't just take the 2 years (or whatever it took to actually write)- It took all that time of all the years of living and cultivating that idea in your subconcious before you ever started the actual writing of it.  So if Shanthi's next book takes anything less than something like 32 years, well, then she's really blowing and going.  I can't imagine what it would feel like to begin on the next project after one so masterful as this.  Yikes.

Anyway, I loved this book.  I was lucky to have found it.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

I Let You Go by Clare MacKintosh

I just finished reading a book that I want to recommend to anyone who likes twists.  I Let You Go by Clare MacKintosh has a great one, and you will not see it coming!
Lucy recommends I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh
Because of the twist, I can't really even tell you what the book is about.  Because it twists the plot line that much.  What you think the book is about changes, about mid-way through the book.

Although I use to read a ton of books in the "Suspense/Thriller" genre, I don't read them nearly as often now.  Sometimes they just seem so disturbing.  And I realized finally, I don't want to spend my time with them so much anymore. This book doesn't necessarily fall into that category, but when I picked it up, something made me think that. It's well written with good character development and explores one theme in several different ways.  It's not just throwing in disturbing things, and plot twists for shock value.  It seems very well thought out. 

Sorry I'm being so vague and telling you so little about this one, but I don't want to spoil anything.  So just get your hands on this book and read it.  And then, we'll talk! :)  

I think this is the author's first book, but she already has a second out and guess what?  It's on hold for me at the library.  I have a few other books to read first, but I will get to it soon.  I can't wait to see how she follows up a book like this!  Such an impressive debut.

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

I'm Having a Sale In My Etsy Shop

I've listed one lucky dozen items that I've marked down by 50% and they are currently available in my Resparkable Vintage Etsy shop.

You can visit the shop section called "Last Chance Sale" to find all of the available items that are half off.  Usually, when a seller lists something on Etsy, the listing remains for up to 3 months.  But with these lucky dozen, they will only be available through the end of this week.  That's what I mean by last chance.  They won't be available for long, and if they don't sale in the shop, I'll do something else with them. In one week, they will be gone.  Forever. So seriously, act now if you're interested.


As usual, all of the handmade necklaces I'm offering are one of a kinds, that mix vintage jewelry parts with some modern updates.  When I bought these special vintage pieces, they needed some TLC.  I haven't destructed anything, but instead, I've done my best to salvage them, and use them in a way so they can still be worn and loved.  I appreciate the integrity of vintage jewelry, so I do NOT mess with things that are in great condition. 

Speaking of vintage jewelry in great condition...I also sell some of that in my shop.  You can find earrings, necklace, and brooches in their original condition as well- Although I always shine them up and give them a little TLC before sending them out into the world again.

Help me with my little Spring Cleaning Project over at Resparkable Vintage.  Visit the Last Chance sale, and get yourself a steal of a deal this week!


Friday, April 14, 2017

Afraid of the Dark

I used to be afraid of the dark.  Well, it wasn't actually darkness that I was afraid of, it was bad guys.  Bad guys out in the dark of night, that might be made aware of me, because I was awake and moving around, breathing and being scared.  This is obviously how bad guys find little kids to kidnap.  That's what I believed back then anyway. I know this doesn't make rational sense.  I was a little kid.  And when you're a kid it's okay to have irrational fears at night.  Up to a point.

I grew into the nightly habit of waking, in a fright, anywhere between about midnight and 4am.   If I thought I could make a mad dash quickly enough to my parents bedroom before I was caught by those bad guys, I'd make a run for it.  But the more I thought about it, the more the run from my room upstairs to their room downstairs seemed too far and far too risky.
So I began yelling from underneath the covers of my bed, "MOM!"
"MOM!"
"MOM!!!!" 

And once my voice got loud enough, I could hear Mom rolling her eyes as she would say, "Ok, Kerri.  I'm coming." This habit I got into was not cool with Mom.  Because like a normal person, she wanted to sleep at night.  Not only was I screaming, but now rather than me come to her, she was having to walk up the stairs to get to me.  And then she felt obligated to stay with me until I fell back asleep.

Now that I'm an adult and have dogs that occasionally need me to let them out in the middle of the night to pee, I am well aware that being awakened, even by your own sweet child, is not fun.

Eventually, when I was 7 or 8 years old, Mom had had enough of my nighttime antics and said something that I heard like this, "Ok, Kerri.  You're going to have to cut this shit out and fast.  If you don't, your dad and I will be taking you to see a psychiatrist.  This is not normal.  And you're killing me."

I don't know how or what I did, but Mom's threat somehow scared me even worse than my middle-of-the-night fears had. So I stopped yelling for her. Cold turkey. I wish I remembered childhood things like these better.  I just have fragments of the story.  How did I cope?  Did I start sleeping through the night, or did I lay awake, heart racing in fear until I finally would doze off again?

Although the screaming, and the habit of waking every single night subsided, I never really got over having a wild imagination filled with fear once darkness would fall upon me. Even to this day, when Fermin is traveling and I'm in the house with just my dogs, Lucy and Ricky, at night, I get spooked easily.  If I hear a noise, my first thought is, "Uh oh. Bad guys."

Last night, around 3am, I don't know what noise we heard (because I was asleep, so although it woke me up, I can't really remember what the noise actually was) but the fact that Lucy and Ricky also looked a little edgy did nothing to calm my nerves.  They had wide eyed looks, Lucy said some jargled words (because yes, occasionally my girl talks, but I don't know what she's saying because I don't speak Dog), and they both sat up and looked at me like, "Ok, are you going to do something?"

And that's the question, right there.  Am I going to do something? At what point is it not humiliating to call 9-1-1 and say, "Hey, me and my dogs just heard something that woke us up and now we're scared. Can you please send someone over?"

My tactic last night was what it always is in moments like that. I just thought to myself, "What are the chances that a burglar, murderer or rapist is really going to chose our house.  We're in a safe neighborhood.  We have a gate.  We lock our doors.  My dogs can sound scary and mean. Why would anyone pick our house?  Seriously, what are the chances?"  And that self talk usually calms me down.  Eventually, my heart stops beating out of my chest. At some point, I get brave enough to turn the TV on just settle down.  And finally, within an hour or two... I'm back to sleep.

I think I ended up only getting 3 or 4 hours of sleep last night.  But I got caught up on some Nightline's I had DVRed. This afternoon though, that lack of sleep was really catching up with me.  So, I went and took a little nap while getting a foot massage at one of those cheap Chinese foot massage places that I love so very much.  I am not afraid of the dark, in the daytime, while my feet are being rubbed. EVER.

Anyway, this is how my adult self handles the dark.  My fears are still with me.  But I've learned better coping skills.

Monday, April 10, 2017

What I'm Reading

This weekend, the weather was just perfect for lounging in the hammock.  It's that magical (and very brief) season here in Dallas when it's about 70-80 degrees AND the mosquitoes haven't yet taken over the place.

Fermin had a lot of golf watching to do with the Masters on, and I have zero interest in that.  So he watched tv inside, while I read for a couple hours outside both Saturday and Sunday.  And of course, I had two little friends outside to keep me company. Although Lucy and Ricky laid in the hammock with me most of the time, they'd take little play breaks to play ball together. And by "play ball" that usually means just laying around near the ball, and occasionally rolling around grunting and wrestling.
play ball!
I finished the last few chapters of a book called Guy by Jowita Bydlowska.  Wow.  What a weird protagonist. Not just weird- but a pretty disgusting person.  It was interesting though and I read the whole thing in just a few days. I recommend it only to people who enjoy reading about narcissistic misogynists.

Then, I started The Wonder by Emma Donoghue, who also wrote Room, which I loved.  I remember reading about The Wonder when it first came out, but for some reason, I didn't rush out to buy it.  I came across it at the library on Friday afternoon though and brought it home.  I started it during hammock time on Saturday.  I only just started it, but I think it's going to be interesting.

I'm also reading a couple of non-fiction books right now.  One is Dr. Wayne Dyer's Manifest Your Destiny.  My friend, Elaine, recommended it to me.  And yes!  This one is right up my alley because I love all books about manifesting!  For me, it's always so inspiring to read on this topic.  This book looks short, but it's DEEP.  I can only read a little at a time, and then I just have to think about it and let my brain chew on the words for a while before moving on.  So this one will take some time to finish.  And then I'll probably re-read it again.  I actually bought the audible version first, which I like, BUT it was just moving too fast for me.  I love that I have both versions now.  Listen a little, read a little.  I highly recommend you check into this one out if you want to create what you want in your life.  That's sorta a no-brainer, right?  Who doesn't want to create what they want?!

I'm also reading a new-ish book on writing called Wired For Story: The Writer's Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence by Lisa Cron. (Good Lord that's a long title, I just realized.  Let's just called it Wired For Story from here on out so no one gets too exhausted.)  It's pretty fascinating so far.  As this book says, biologically, our brains are wired for stories.  So it's about the brain (always fascinating to me) and about writing- two topics I can never get enough of, and I can never learn enough about.  Sort of like the Wayne Dyer book, this one is very "meaty"- so, a little at a time seems to be the best way for me to digest it.

So that's what I'm reading, and plan to be reading for a while.
The Wonder, Manifest Your Destiny, and Wire for Story

How 'bout YOU?  What are you reading?

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Stage Hynosis


Sunday night, we went with some friends to a local comedy club that was having a comedian/hypnotist.   

Before the show, while we were all at dinner, we had a discussion about hypnosis- was it real, was it just a hoax, just… what?! My friend, Kathy, said that she had once been to hypnosis for weight loss and that it worked for her.  She wasn’t necessarily saying she was hypnotized, but from how I interpreted what she said, her hypnotherapist gave her guiding meditations to help her subconsciously make good decisions throughout the week in regards to food.  And it worked. It was sort of the way I see positive affirmations.  Which from time to time, I try to practice doing.  Because I do actually think it can make an impact.

If I constantly tell myself, “I am a confident person",then that’s bound to sink into my belief system, right?  Similarly if I constantly self talk, “I am a loser.  I can’t do anything right”, well… that sinks in too. 

Anyway, I was curious how this “Stage Hypnosis” would go at the comedy club.  So much so, that I really wanted to be one of the volunteers for the show. I had no idea if it would be individual hypnosis sessions, some group thing, or what. But soon after we got there, and the show started, I walk up to the stage as soon as the man asked for volunteers to come forward. 

All of the volunteers were asked to take a seat in one of the chairs lined up on the stage.  The bright stage lights made it where I couldn’t see the audience, and I have to admit, I was a little concerned about if the group of friends I went with was video-ing me or taking photos, because of my fear of “looking stupid”. I didn’t look at the people sitting on either side of me.  The man told us to focus on any area above his head and just listen to his voice, so that’s what I did.  Looking at this picture makes me wonder if I was looking a little too high. Too high for my eyeballs to ever get a chance to relax.
I'm in the army green jacket.  Looking UP.
He did a 7-ish minute relaxing meditation type of monologue for us. I am able to breathe and relax, so I did just that.  Then he asked us to get deeper and deeper in our relaxed state.  To picture ourselves in our most comfortable and safe place.  (For me: bathtub) And then all of the sudden, I was very aware that whoever was next to me was totally crowding my space.  Her arm was super mashed against mine.  Then she started slumping into me.  I tried to just ignore her weight and keep focusing and breathing. Summoning Calgon to take me away. 
The VERY beginning of me feeling crushed. Believe me, it got MUCH worse.
He then told us to raise our arms as if we were holding a balloon. I purposely raised my arm she was leaning agaists, thinking that would knock her off of me.  But instead, my raised arm just made her fall further into my lap.  I started feeling pretty uncomfortable at this point- physically and otherwise. I was thinking, “What a faker this girl is, trying to pretend she’s in a deep trance.”

But I continued to do whatever the guy asked us to do- not because I was hypnotized, but just because he was asking, and it wasn’t anything out of line.  He asked us to pretend we were playing our favorite instrument, so I air-celloed.  I felt slightly stupid, but I did it because I tend to be a rule-following-people-pleaser.  Then he put on “rock music” and asked us to get really into it and pretend we were in the band.  No.  I just could not get into it. I couldn’t even decide which instrument I wanted to be pretending to play.  But I could tell the girl next to me was the drummer.  Beyond that, my eyes were shut so I didn’t know what other people were doing.  (I’m not sure if my eyes were suppose to still be shut at this point, but I didn’t notice him ever saying to open them.) So I just sat in my chair for that part.  As the music faded, and that part was over, I opened my eyes for a second, and the hypnotist man was looking at me.  He looked away for a split second, but then looked back to me and said, “Ok, you can go back to your seat now.”  Everyone else stayed on the stage for the duration of the show, except me. 

And for that, I am so thankful.  They went on to do things that would have felt embarrassing to me.  It’s weird to say this, since I am a musician and have performed on stages, but being on stage with all eyes on me is never something I’m comfortable with.  But when I’m singing and playing my guitar, I know what I’m doing. And often, people aren’t really looking at me when I'm at a gig.  They’re eating food, drinking wine, talking to their friends, and just glance at me and listen every now and then.   But this was NOT that, and it felt very uncomfortable to me. 

Anyway, I have no idea how it was for the other participants.  I don’t know if they were sober.  I don’t know if they’re natural born performers.  I don’t know if they’re introverted or extroverted, shy or outgoing. I don’t know if they felt like they were in a trance, or if like me, they were just following directions and doing what was asked.  To me, it felt like an improv situation.  During an “off” night for me.

So I was never faking it.  I was never claiming to be asleep just because I closed my eyes and proceeded to follow the man’s directions. But I was also the one asked to leave the stage.  Clearly, I wasn’t an ideal participant.  Was it because I wasn't a good candidate for hypnosis?  Was it because he could see the weight of the person was screwing up my concentration? Whatever he read in my body language, he was right.  Believe me when I say, I was happy to get off that stage. 

I watched the rest of the show, never really seeing it that these people were under hypnosis, in a trance state. Not at all.  I just thought they were following directions, acting silly, and getting positive responses from the audience as they did it. 

It reminded me of when I was a kid and I so wanted to believe in magic.  I ordered a magic kit and was sorely disappointed to get a box full of TRICKS rather than magic.  What happened on that stage, didn’t feel like hypnosis to me.  It felt relaxing, until it wasn’t.  Then it was just uncomfortable.  Maybe I would have a totally different experience had I not been on a stage in front of a lot of onlookers. With a girl napping on top of me.

Having said all that, I did sleep better than night and actually remembered two of my dreams.  And I got to see Mom in one of them.  And honestly, that’s the best kind of magic I could have asked for.

Saturday, April 1, 2017

10 Quick Things

Ten Quick Things.

Have you ever gone a longer than normal time without talking to a friend you WANT to call, but because all that time has passed... well, there just seems so much to catch up on that it feels overwhelming. And so more time passes.  But the overwhelm only gets worse.

Well, it's not that so much has happened since I've last written a post here- and I think it's just been a couple of weeks.  Still, I don't quite know where to start.  So I'm just going to jot down ten quick things.  Because that just seems like a non-intimidating way to get back to blogging, and I don't have much time right now.  But I don't want to put it off for one more day.  Seriously.  Not one.  So here's the 10 things...

1. I just finished listening to the incredibly riveting podcast "S- Town".  Whoa.  There are only 7 episodes so it's an easy one to binge in a few days.  And I highly recommend that you do just that.

2. We cleaned out our garage today.  Gross.  But that kind of stuff sure feels good when you're (just about) finished.

3.  I've been refamiliarizing myself with tarot cards lately.  Just drawing one from my deck each day.  Man oh man is it weird how I seem to draw THE most meaningful and on point card each day.  Like they have magical powers.  For realz. Loving that.

4. My mom died a dozen years ago March 29th.  That is TWELVE years.  Time is a tricky beast.  Fast and slow, all at once.  On that anniversary day, Fermin happened to call me from work and asked me to go outside and look up at one of our trees in the front yard.  He wanted to see if this loose hanging branch had been blown down during the storm from the previous night.  As I looked up, there was a cardinal.  Of course.  Cardinals have always been the signal I think Mom is sending to me to say "Hi!"  She definitely gave me a nod.  Thanks to Fermin asking me to look up.  (And no.  The branch had not yet fallen.  But we got it down later that day so that it wouldn't end up falling and hurting someone.)

5. I said 10 quick things, but it's only going to be 5.  Sorry.  I'm not as quick as I had planned to be.  There are so many things I want to mention, but we are about to go to dinner and bowling with our friends Allyson and Kevin.  And no.  Bowling is not a regular thing for us.  It was a random idea we thought of last night after everyone had a good meal and a little wine in there stomachs.  Bowling the next night made perfect sense at the time, so we made a reservation.  And now... We're OFF!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

My Resparkable Vintage Website

A couple of weeks ago I mentioned that I was in the muck (and I mean muck!) of making a new website that would be dedicated to all things vintage jewelry.  Well... I finished it.  Or at least, it's good enough to go.  I'll improve it and add things to it along the way.  But I agree with that phrase, "Done is better than perfect."

So pop over and check it out.  And subscribe! Or bookmark it! Or leave a comment on a blog!  Or whatever you want!  Just do it.  And then you too will know that feeling of, "Done is better than perfect."

Here is is...
Resparkable Vintage

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Music Monday- Life is Wonderful by Jason Mraz

Ahhh.  This song is from the Jason Mraz's 2005 CD, Mr. A-Z.

I have such a fond memory of my first time to hear the song that I'm writing about today.  I was in Asheville, N.C. for a songwriting workshop.  I had just flown in, got my rent car, and pulled into some place that sold music (I can't even remember where) because during my flight I read that Jason had a new CD out.  I needed something good to listen to for that beautiful drive from the airport to where I was staying.

The first song on that CD is "Life is Wonderful". And on that day, life was indeed especially wonderful.  The view of those Blue Ridge Mountains and that song made me so happy.  I can still totally remember that feeling, and it gives me chills. Music has a way of time stamping important moments in life, and for me, this was one.

I felt so proud of myself that day.  I was nervous about traveling alone and going to that song camp, but I was DOING IT.  And that's what mattered.

I want more of that.
More of being brave.
More of new experiences.
And please... more views like that in my daily life.
the Blue Ridge Mountains

Happy Music Monday.  Thank you, Jason Mraz- for being my soundtrack for that meaningful trip to North Carolina.  You added to the beauty.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Is This Winter?

In case the fact that it's currently 87 degrees in Dallas wasn't enough to make it clear that Winter has already left the building, there's also this evidence:
my neighbors tree already has buds.

daffodils growing out of a crack in the sidewalk

more daffies
the trees are already budding with green leaves
And while all this might seem nice, because who doesn't love Spring?- to me, it's a gross reminder of what's to follow:  A long, hot summer. 

IF I were to still be living in Dallas by the time June rolls around.  

I went into my closet to get dressed today, and I looked at the sweaters I had pulled out in December with the high hopes of wearing them often this winter.  But as it turned out, there were not many days at all that were cold enough for my most hard-core sweaters.  And the Canadian Goose coat Fermin gave me for Christmas?  Forget about it...

Knowing those sweaters wouldn't get out of the closet this year, I decided to put them away in their storage container.  And then I decided to think of that container as their moving box.  They will be moved to a cooler climate with me.  And it can't happen soon enough.  I am so over Dallas.  I've put in more than enough years here already. 

This warm weather reminds me it's time to move on.  This day would feel great if I didn't have to know what follows a warm and early Spring.  But I know it, all too well.  February 23rd shouldn't require shorts and flip flops.  Instead, it should look something like THIS:
Boulder.  Today.
This day is a great reminder to me to amp up our search for a new home- Mountains or BUST.

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

M.I.A.

I have been a little M.I.A. on this blog lately.

Because I've been busy building my new website that will be all about vintage jewelry and my repurposed vintage jewelry creations.  It's just about ready to go, but I have a few minor little things to do.  And then of course, I want to sit on it a few more days after that before it goes LIVE. 
a sneak peak at the resparkable vintage website

I will always keep this blog at this website.  Because for one, I've had it here for so long.  And also because it feels like the home I always return to.  I can talk (write) about all of it here.  Sometimes it's about jewelry, sometimes it's about music, sometimes books, sometimes it's about goals, etc.  It's very much of a hodge podge free-for-all blog. And I want to keep it that way.  Here.

But I thought I'd create and maintain a website and blog that's focused on all things vintage jewelry.  It seems like an endless topic that I never get tired of learning about. And talking about.

You'll still see some jewelry stuff here.  But, of course, other random things too.  I can't contain myself here.  And I love that I really don't have to.

If you'd like to follow my Resparkable Vintage jewelry website, and I sure do hope you will, I'll let you know when it's live soon.  And it will be soon.  For real.

Just wanted to let you know, I'm NOT "Missing".  But I AM "In Action."

Monday, February 6, 2017

Music Monday- Totally HOT!

Thank God for Apple Music.  These days, if I think of some random song from long ago, I don't have to hunt around and spend $15 to buy the whole album just for nostalgia's sake.  Pretty much everything in the world (even Prince's catalogue will be available for streaming later this month) is available for streaming.  I just pay around $10 a month and it's all there. 

Somehow, thoughts of Olivia Newton-John popped into my head the other day.  And in particular, her album, Totally Hot.  It was released in 1978, around the time she was Sandy in Grease.  I loved her, and I remember thinking, "Wow!  She's sorta like Sandy at the end of the movie on this album cover."  And I thought it was great.
Olivia... TOTALLY HOT
Totally Hot was one of the singles from that album of the same name.  But I am so glad to be streaming the entire album. The songs range from country, to soft pop, to well... totally hot.  And all very cheesy! I loved those songs then not even realizing all the cheese, and I love them now, but for entirely different reasons.

Here's Olivia, looking and singing.... Totally Hot.  You're welcome.
Happy Music Monday!

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

So Long, January...

It's already the last day of January. 

This month I successfully did the Ultimate Blog Challenge, which means I posted just about every single day this month.  It helped me get back into the swing of regular blogging, and although I don't think I'll continue posting quite so often, I do intend to be a lot more regular about it.  I love my blog.  I love having some sort of documentation I can look back that captures moments and helps me remember what was happening in the world around me.

Time flies, and I wanna keep track of it.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Less is More

Right now, I'm reading yet another book on living with less.  This one is called The Joy of Less by Francine Joy.  And yes, I think the title is a bit of a pun on her name.
It's similar to Marie Kondo's book on the same ideas, The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up.  Although I did a lot of getting rid of a lot of stuff that didn't "spark joy" and did find the KonMarie Method I learned about in that book to be pretty magical, I'm ready to downsize even more now.  And this book, The Joy of Less is a great inspiration.

I also recently watched the documentary film Minimalism: A Documentary About the Important Things.  It's currently streaming on Netflix for free!

And I'm listening to the Audible format of the book Essentialism by Greg McKeown. This book isn't about downsizing your stuff, but instead your commitments and the things you spend your time on.  It's a great motivator for doing the KonMarie method on your whole life.

I'm making small changes on an almost daily basis since I'm filling my head with the words from both of these books and film.  I tried to do the KonMarie Method as suggested in the book- in a fast a furious way.  And that worked great, because I had a lot more then.  I'm now trying to be more congnizant of the things I bring into my home, and into my life.  If they aren't the important things, they really don't belong.  The less I have, the better I can care for and appreciate the things I do have.  That applies to possessions, but also the way I spend my time.

For me, reading this stuff and keeping it in my focus for a while feels essential.  I hate the complicated feeling I get when I have too many things around me or too many things to do.  Even when it's good stuff.  It's true what they say, too much of a good thing isn't a good thing.

I've moved a few pieces of furniture out in to the garage until I can drop them off at a donation center. I also took some vases I didn't really like off our mantle.  At first, it looked a little weird.  I'd just gotten used to those spaces being filled up.  But I realize, I like the extra space.  Not every corner needs to be filled.  I like a little extra breathing room around here.

More of less.  That's what I'm aiming for these days.



Sunday, January 29, 2017

What High School Taught Me

Last night we went with some friends to see a high school production of Beauty and the Beast.


The girl who played Belle came out for her bow at the end of the show, with the rest of the cast, and of course, she got a huge applause.  She was crying, I'm assuming, because she was overjoyed and proud of herself.  And we all know what a great feeling that is.

Whenever I see one of these high school musicals, it makes me regret that I wasn't in choir or drama, and that I never once tried out for anything.  I was so afraid of rejection and failure, that I thought I was better off not to even try.


I played it safe, and I never risked making a fool of myself. I'm sure I missed out on so many things because of this.  And oh, what a waste.

But, I can still learn from this lesson so that one day I'll won't look back on the age I am right now and think "Oh, why didn't I try __________?"

I still fear rejection.  Age doesn't solve that problem. But stepping out of your comfort zone helps you become more brave every time you do it.  I'm wise enough to know that is true.

Friday, January 27, 2017

No Apologies

I was thinking again today about what I wrote yesterday.  About how during a concert, sometimes things don't go according to the performer's plan.  But as a professional, they roll with it.  Sometimes so smoothly, that a mistake can go unnoticed.  Because the mistake really isn't what matters. And to apologize would put the focus on the wrong thing.

I was thinking about how I have been in similar situations before. Especially when it comes to tuning my guitar onstage during a performance, and having to play through a song when I can tell I never quite got it in tune.  And I'm pretty sure I make faces that make my discomfort in the moment clear.  And then the audience has to feel uncomfortable too.  Then, maybe I apologize after the song is over.  And if I do, really, it just calls attention to what went wrong, and negates what went right. And again, that makes the audience uncomfortable. 

So to add to all that Jonatha Brooke did right during her concert on Wednesday night... She didn't apologize for having a string go out of tune. She just rolled with it.  And figured out the best way to handle her little predicament.  And when the song ended, she graciously accepted our applause.

That's something to remember.  That's a lesson.  There are times to apologize for sure- Like if you've hurt someone.  But there are also times when an apology would just be self-serving.  And so, it's better to just let it go.




Thursday, January 26, 2017

Better Than Perfect

I just got back from Austin... A quick 24 hour hour trip to see Jonatha Brooke play at the One World Theater.

She played a solo show, and this was an intimate venue- My favorite kind! Jonatha has a long and loyal following, so she played songs from each of her albums.  At the beginning of the show, she mentioned that she had to relearn a few of them, because they were about 20 years old.  They're also some of her greatest ones, so I know I wasn't alone in feeling grateful she went to the trouble.

One of the crowd favorites is her song, "Because I Told You So". Like just about all of her songs, it's in a non-standard guitar tuning.  She has to do a lot of quick, between-song-tuning. As I've heard her say before, she told the audience that she uses these tunings because she's a self taught guitarist, and that's just how she figured things out.  It's also part of what gives her a magical and unique sound.
Jonatha Brooke.  Tuning.

But because I've also written quite a few songs in non-standard tunings, I know doing all that tuning at a live performance is sometimes nerve wracking.  Sometimes, what you think is in tune, ends up showing mid-song that it is in fact out of tune.  And that is not an awesome discovery. But that's what happened to Jonatha during last night's performance of "Because I Told You So."

It must have been driving her crazy because in the middle of the song, she tweaked a knob or two on the guitar for tuning adjustments. But things were still off.  So she tried it again, a little further a long in the song.  But nope.  It had just gotten too confusing and weird for subtle adjustments mid-song.  So she kind of whispered and laughed, "Ugh. This is so embarassing."  And then stopped playing the guitar, started stomping her feet in rhythm to the bridge of the song and sang it and the final chorus of the song a capella.

And for me- that little mishap was the coolest part of the show.

It's why we go to live performances.  It's not to see perfection.  Last night in Austin, we got to see Jonatha in a intimate, beautiful venue and she delivered an intimate and beautiful performance.  Far more beautiful than perfection. To hear her voice, all by itself, emphasized the emotion of that song all the more at just the perfect moment.

And that's why she's a pro.
Better than perfect.
Me and Jonatha Brooke

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Too Much Happiness

My friend Steve and I are Austin-bound today.

This haul from Dallas to Austin is a slightly long drive for a concert, except that it's Jonatha Brooke and we love her so. She hasn't performed in Dallas in over 10 years. And she's not heading this way for her current tour. We gotta do what we gotta do.

So off we go!
Too Much Happiness...

Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Reader's Digest

There are times when I'm not in the mood to read a book.  It's a rare occasion, but when I feel either too tired, or just need a break- I read a magazine instead.  The nightly habit of reading is so deeply rooted in me, that I don't know what I'd do with myself if I didn't read something for at least half an hour at the end of my day. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't be able to get to sleep.  Or I might die.  It seems like something horrible could happen. And so I read. No matter what.

The other night, I finished one book but wasn't ready to start a new one just yet, so I decided to pick up a magazine from my pile.  I went for a Reader's Digest that was from September of this past year. 

Reader's Digest Magazine

Is that magazine still around? Am I an 80 year old woman you may ask? Well, no- I'm not.  But this is actually my Dad's magazine subscription and he's nearly that age...

I remember in the 80s, when I was a kid, Mom and Dad subscribed to Reader's Digest. Sometimes, after Mom finished looking at it, she'd mention certain articles and I'd get curious, and then leaf through it myself. It had (bad) jokes, and some cartoons. It was full of random human interest stories.  The magazine even had a little word definition quiz.  I remember taking the quiz every now and then, and while I always got some of the words right, it wasn't the majority.  They were hard.  But I thought, "Maybe I'll learn these words by taking the quiz." 

But I don't think you learn words just from seeing their definition once in a Reader's Digest "Word Power" quiz.  Instead, you learn new words from overhearing them, or reading them and being curious enough to figure out what they mean.  And then understanding what they mean well enough to use them in a sentence.  That's when you've really mastered a word.

I was pleasantly surprised last night when I took the "Word Power" quiz.  Out of 15 words, I knew almost all of them.  And the ones I didn't know, I made a good guess on.  I bet the last time I looked at one of those quizes was over 5 years ago, maybe even 10.  It could be that the words they now choose have gotten easier, or maybe all these hours upon hours of reading in the bathtub has taught me words that wouldn't have otherwise been in my vocabulary.  But if you read enough, you come across a lot of words.

Besides the "Word Power" quiz, this issue had all sorts of articles about the brain, which I'm always interested in.  Reader's Digest is still worth reading.  I just wonder how many people under the age of 45 even know about it...