Getting healthy —

I’m tired of being lukewarm about my health.  I’m tired of starting and stopping.  So I’m making some small steps to make a big impact…and I’ll be blogging about it at Important Nothings.

Want to join me?  I would love to have some more friends along on this journey!

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Snow Days, Lent and Seeing Clearly

ice lentYesterday C and I went for a ride to go pick up our dogs from the groomer.  It was the second snowday in a row, and while the roads were clear, the remnants of the ice that had hampered traffic and business the day before were beautifully evident on the trees on the hillsides.

It may be March, but it’s not apparent on this road.  The grass is browned and the trees are bare from the long winter. But this day, the brown bare trees glistened from the ice as the sun tries to appear.

The landscape of Tennessee was stunning. You couldn’t help but want to soak in the simple beauty.

I started to see things I hadn’t noticed before. I wondered about a road that has been hidden by the leaves and made a note to find it one day, partially for the experience and noting that could be a great shortcut next time traffic backs up.

I got to admire beautiful homes that were now exposed without the covering of leaves.  Creeks and valleys unknown to me suddenly appeared between the road and the horizon. And while we have driven this road countless times, this was the first time I was able to take in the view with this sort of clarity.

We chatted about how C used to live on a mountain, and most of the year, the view from their home was just leaves. And more leaves. And more trees.  But in the winter, you could see homes, roads, hillsides, and their small town below.

Maybe that’s a way of looking at Lent. A few weeks focused on stripping away distractions and coverings to be able to see. Clearly. To be able to re-direct your path and get a better vision of the horizon.

And then when the promise of spring arrives, I know I can enjoy the beauty of green grass, budding flowers and leaves and warming air, while being grounded in my new understanding of the road to follow.

Ash Wednesday

“In many cultures there is an ancient custom of giving a tenth of each year’s income to some holy use. For Christians, to observe forty days of Lent is to do the same thing with roughly a tenth of each year’s days. After being baptized by John in the River Jordan, Jesus went off alone into the wilderness where he spent forty days asking himself the question what it meant to be Jesus. During Lent, Christians are supposed to ask one way or another what it means to be themselves.

If you had to bet everything you have on whether there is a God or whether there isn’t, which side would get your money and why?

When you look at your face in the mirror, what do you see in it that you most like and what do you see in it that you most deplore?

If you had only one last message to leave to the handful of people who are most important to you, what would it be in twenty-five words or less?

Of all the things you have done in your life, which is the one you would most like to undo? Which is the one that makes you happiest to remember?

Is there any person in the world, or any cause, that, if circumstances called for it, you would be willing to die for?

If this were your last day of your life, what would you do with it?

To hear yourself try to answer questions like these is to begin to hear something not only of who you are but of both what you are becoming and what you are failing to become. It can be a pretty depressing business all in all, but if sackcloth and ashes are at the start of it, something like Easter may be at the end.”

— Frederick Buechner, Whistling in the Dark: An ABC Theologized

Wedding dresses

Ok – so we’re well into wedding planning, and I’ve been terrible about posting blogs. Let’s just say life is a little busy right now!

But I want to rant about wedding dresses. First, if you’re thinking of getting married one day – start saving your money for your dress now.

What I didn’t realize:
Dress stores don’t have a return policy. You can’t return anything. Nothing. If you buy a hair-tie and you decide it doesn’t work, your SOL and putting it up on craigslist to try to get your money back.

After you pick out your dress you’ll need to buy:
Shapeware
Slip
Shoes
Veil
Probably some sort of a wrap or scarf
Any sashes or additions to the dress
and then
Alterations.

In my case, all of this cost about 120% more than the dress did.

Can’t they make this all a package deal? You get the dress and the slip together? Why be surprised? I understand a no-return policy on dresses (especially after it’s been altered), but seriously – why can’t you return the extras. They have my wedding date on file – they could say “returns only in first 14 days” or something like that.

Not that there is anything I want to return, I just thought that was not a very nice policy. Maybe I need to open a stress-free-wedding-shopping experience. Brides only. People who cause drama get an upcharge.

Just a thought.

It’s been a while…

Hello world-

I’ve been terribly bad at blogging lately.

Last year all of my blogs were dedicated to the currently-in-a-name-change DearPowderRoom site (moving to the name TheOpenDish.com) and I’ve been writing, but sadly not posting to my 40 Year Challenge site. This year, I do hope to do better.

Apologies for not writing. And now I will apologize to any men who may read this blog.

As for the next few months, I’m betting this blog turns into a “wedding rants” blog. We are going to attempt to get married in 10 – yes 10 – weeks. Both of us have full time jobs that are just that – very time consuming. We don’t want to spend a ton of money. We want to keep our families happy. We also would rather elope, but we have been told not to do that. I’m still not sure why.

I did check one thing off the list – I got a dress. It’s beautiful, and was the first dress I tried on. I would post a pic, but after 40 something comments on Chris’s facebook page warning him to not see the dress, I will restrain my post of a pic…you’ll just have to take my word for it!

Here’s what I’m ranting about right now:

Why won’t potential vendors call back?

Why did all of the stuff I have to get for my dress and do to my dress cost more than my dress?

And can someone send me some delicious, inexpensive recipes for cocktails that involve limes, or lemons?

Work is getting in the way of my fabulous plans. Stay tuned.

It’s almost my birthday…give me free stuff!

So, I’ve been blogging at dearpowderroom.com instead of on my own site for a while now, only now we’re going through a re-name and re-design, so I’m going to move my words over here for a bit… To give a quick update…I’m engaged! Life is wonderful and this is my last day being 40.

I haven’t forgotten my idea to do 40 new things this year. I’ve done most of them – I just need to take the time to write about it… (you can see the few I’ve posted at http://the40yearchallenge.wordpress.com)

This week though, I am all about getting free stuff for my birthday. Why not? If stores and restaurants are going to make that offer, then by golly I’m going to take them up on it. And you should too.

So far, I’ve gotten a free dinner at Famous Dave’s (Rib tips. Mmm) and Ruby Tuesday has given me a free steak burger. It was delicious. I have print outs for a free ice cream cone from Baskin Robins, a free cookie from Bruggers, a free entree from Moe’s, a fish dinner at Captain D’s and a Rooty Tooty Fresh and Fruity something from IHOP. I have a postcard for a free Starbucks drink, and I think I’m getting a postcard for a free Zaxby’s meal. There’s a special something waiting for me with my Panera card, my Sephora card and a free burger with my Red Robin loyalty card. I heard from a friend today that Firehouse Subs and Denny’s both give free food if you show your ID and it’s your birthday.

I’m liking this.

I know there are a lot of other places that do this sort of thing as well, and I’m all for it. Pretty much all of these are attached to loyalty cards, so do your self a favor. Start a junk mail email account, and start signing up. I’m not going to buy groceries all week!

Many more blogs ahead on the 40 year challenge, and the new adventures of wedding planning. Next week I may blog about the necessary gym membership to work off all the free food…

Let me know of great deals you may know about!

Nashville Flood – 1 year later

May 1, 2011.

One year ago today, it started raining. I remember trying to complete a Saturday motorcycle certification class. After hours of waiting for lightning to stop so we could head out on the bikes, our instructor gave up. He said we would have to wait for a break in the weather the next day. While the rain had only started, a couple of classmates had already gotten into accidents, being unable to pass roads. We doubted his excitement about holding a longer Sunday class to finish our training.

It was a slow road home, and the rain became stronger. Intersections were unpassable. Stores were closing. Evening brought tales of people trapped on rooftops. Hospitals trying to move patients to higher floors. Sandbagging, but no one quite knew how to get to the affected areas to be able to help.

And Sunday. May 2nd. It kept raining. Photos of a building floating down the freeway filled the local news. The story is completely dormant on the national news. Power is out. Friends wait to see if their houses will be next in line to be filled with gushing water. Many are without power. Everyone is helpless to bring aid as nearly all roads are impassable. So we wait. And late in the afternoon, the rain quietly stops and the sun appears. The birds sing. Quietly people emerge from their houses and in my neighborhood. We are on high ground so other than a tree down here and a consistent statement of nearly everyone with flooded basements, very little was harmed.

The rest of the city I love didn’t fare so well. Stories pouring in of loved ones who lost everything. Downtown buildings with millions of dollars of damage. Neighborhoods lost. The Grand Old Opry closed indefinitely.

But what I saw emerge was a community that loves. A Volunteer State that does exactly that. Nashville as a whole put on it’s work gloves and helped each other rebuild. Without question, people opened their hearts and wallets, caravanned to the distraught neighborhoods and went to work. Tirelessly. Water was conserved. Benefits were held. A battle cry of We Are Nashville was coined and together our city quietly did the work needed to rebuild lives.

And now a year later we reflect and still wonder when some of our friend’s homes will be completely restored. When our Opry Mills mall will be re-opened.

Last week, tornadoes tore through Alabama just a few hours south of us. And I think Nashville just understands. Without delay, groups are gathering together to help. Raising money. Holding Benefits. Filling trucks with water and supplies and caravanning down the road, ready to tirelessly communities that have lost their hope.

And while I’m horrified at the images emerging from my neighbors to the south, I am so proud to say that I live in a city that continues to uphold it’s tradition of answering the call when so many need help.

May it not require disaster for us to continue see the needs of those around us.