Friday, December 24, 2010

My Extreme Christmas

I have to admit that Christmas hasn't always been my favorite time of year. In fact, I'll confess that in years past, I've been a bit of Grinch. But not so in 2010. I made a concerted effort to pull out every bell and whistle in my storage closet, deck the halls with balls of holly, and do Christmas right!

It started with Christmas cards. I did the letter, the photo and sent cards out to twice as many people. I made sure my third cousins in Norway got a card. I reached out to my long-lost cousins in Palm Desert, California. Then I searched every nook and cranny of my house to make sure I found ALL my Christmas decorations. I took inventory, threw out the bad and ugly, then shopped for some more Christmasy stuff. As I entered and exited stores, I stuffed the Salvation Army red bucket with cash, which gave the bell ringer a smile. (I heard business was down.)

After the shopping, I had a Christmas party. And trust me, I pulled out all the stops. No slaving hostess in the kitchen would I be. I got me a fine caterer, who brought poached salmon, prime rib, a ham and the best mashed potatos I've ever had. That caterer sure made me look good, because my guests left this house smiling with a wrapped-up plate of food.

My party guests included an ex-boyfriend who helped me buy my current townhouse that' he hadn't seen before. I invited former job colleagues that I hadn't seen in years. And of course there was my brother and all my friends. The last guest left at 1:30am! That tells me my soiree was a success. As much work as it was, it felt good gathering everyone together in my home to celebrate the season. I plan on having more gatherings.

Today is the grand finale. I will make Christmas Eve dinner for my brother and three nephews. It will be a bittersweet evening because last year both my parents were with us. This year, my dad is dead and my mom decided to stay in Florida. But all five of us are still going to perform the candle tradition I started last year. We each hold a candle then pass the light around the dinner table. As we each light our candle, we give thanks for what we received this past year and express what are dreams are for the coming year.

My final Christmas present to myself? I'm going to see the Broadway play, West Side Story in New York City on Sunday afternoon. It's a musical that I've always adored and have wanted to see live on Broadway for years. Can't wait. Like Elizabeth Edwards--and myself--say, keep on living life to the fullest.

Merry Christmas!

Sunday, December 12, 2010

The End of Love

Falling out of love with someone is bittersweet. It's a wistful feeling--that intense fire inside you has suddenly flown outside of your heart like a butterfly dancing around your head, that you can't catch and put back again. After three long years of holding a man inside my entire heart, I realize that sacred space he filled inside me is vacant. It is not something I willed. If that were the case, this feeling would have happened a year ago. Obsession and desire just fades out. In its place comes contempt, indifference and sometimes even hatred. It's sad.

You can't stop yourself from falling in love with someone nor can you stop yourself from falling out of love. As Woody Allen once said: "The heart wants what it wants." A year ago, I prayed to God that I would stop missing him, stop thinking of him. Now it has happened. And for some strange reason I miss the longing.

Of course, actions were taken that precipitated the death of this love affair. One wrongful doing after another builds animousity and bitterness. Those negative emotions build like a snowball rolling out of control down a hill. I suppose when you consider that we choose good or bad actions that effect a relationship, you do have some control over your heart.

All I know is that I'm tired of being taken advantage of. I am tired of being this man's ATM machine. I have lost all respect for him. Right now, I just want to get rid of all that is negative in my life. And that includes him. I miss having love in my heart, but it hurt to damn much. An empty heart that is lighthearted, free and open to new possibilities is better than a heavy, broken heart.

This week my heart released Joe-joe. There's nothing I can do now but listen to what my heart says. It says turn away from the past, look to the future and move on.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Elizabeth Battled Breast Cancer With Class

Today we lost an admirable woman who battled breast cancer since 2004. Elizabeth Edwards epitomized a woman who fought this horrible disease with true grace. She was dealt blow after blow, a child dying tragically at 16, a philandering husband that bore a child out of wedlock and then of course, her recurring breast cancer. Yet throughout it all, she held her head up high.

I will never forget during her recent interview with Larry King, she said to others suffering from terminal cancer: Simply live each day to the fullest. Like Elizabeth, I was diagnosed with stage 3, breast cancer. And the fact that it came back and ultimately killed her, scares the hell out me. Today I cried for Elizabeth's passing. But I suppose I am also crying for me. I am crying over the fear of the unknown.

A couple years ago, when Joe was living with me, I awoke in the middle of the night and said to Joe: Why did you tell me I would die at 56 years old? He replied, I said no such thing. Than I realized he told me that in a dream.

Elizabeth Edwards' passing reminds all of us cancer survivors that we can never take life for granted. Take her advise: Live each day to the fullest.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Create A Sanctuary

As the cold blast of winter sets in, we all begin to retreat indoors. Now more than any other time of year, my home becomes a sanctuary of creature comforts. It's a place to soothe the stresses of the day, nestled on the couch with a cozy throw blanket, a hot drink and a burning fireplace.

To put a positive spin on a bad situation, if you happened to be going through cancer treatment, it's not a bad time. I went through chemo in the spring and summer. I couldn't wear the expensive wigs I bought because sweat would constantly stream down my face. So I ended up wearing cotton handkerchiefs topped by straw hats instead (a la Alicia Keys). My brother's ex-girlfriend, who also had breast cancer, was bald in the winter and said the wigs and wooly hats actually kept her bald head warm.

When you are sick in bed recovering from a chemo treatment, you can enjoy a Sex & The City DVDs or a Rocky marathon on TV--you're doing what everyone else is doing during down time in the winter. At least you're not sitting home sick while everyone is at the beach.

So as long as you are stuck home, you might as well make it nice. Create a luxurious sanctuary for yourself where you can recharge your batteries and heal. Candles, sumptuous pillows, mirrors and beautiful artwork in my living space works for me. I finally finished redecorating my powder room bathroom. I got a new granite top vanity, and I had the walls painted in this golden-yellow tuscan finish. It reminds me of my vacation last summer touring the Tuscan countryside outside of Florence, Italy. Just walking into that bathroom brings back great memories.

My home is a private place--and not just anyone can come in. It is only for those who are truly special in my life. Make your home a sanctuary that is surrounded only with people, pets and things that give you true joy. It will help support the healing of your body and soul.