30 Days of Thankful – and why I almost didn’t do it.

Every November since 2012 I’ve done this 30 Days of Thankful thing.  It first started as a fb “challenge” from a friend and it quickly became one of my favorite things to do. One I usually look forward to all year long. 

This year, for some reason, I just didn’t want to do it. 

It’s been a rough year.  

Late last year my job structure changed and I’ve had a tough time adjusting to it and all the “freedom” it’s given me. I use that term loosely because, while I may have acquired the flexibility I cried about for DECADES, I lost the stability and structure I never knew I desperately needed. Yeah, came as a surprise to me too. 

My kids are all grown and doing their best to adjust to this adulting thing but, let’s be real here, they aren’t that great at it yet and they’ve made some really crappy decisions that have cost us lots of money and heart ache. Thank God you guys are super cute and that I have an amazing sense of humor (yes, I just complimented myself) because that’s, pretty much, what’s kept me from not beating all of their butts- you’re welcome. 😬

Sparing you the boring details, one, not quite completely insured car I still owe a substantial amount of money on, was totaled and the other car caught fire. Literally! And, of course, I was grateful everyone was ok and, of course, that’s what’s REALLY important but the damn car went up in flames. Big ones! I mean, come on, seriously??

I also realized I have zero budgeting abilities and my finances are in a state that’s pretty similar to that car that had to be SCOOPED off the expressway. Turns out I have a whole lot of stuff I don’t want or need, including 27 grey t shirts I bought from Facebook ads. Do I think they’re cute? Very. Will I ever wear them? Nope!

Seems like just when things are about to get better, something else falls apart. Like me, for example. 

I’m getting old and I’m not liking it very much. Botox has become my new favorite thing (someone stop me if I come anywhere remotely close to looking like the joker). I’m always tired, my blood pressure is high, I am pretty sure I’m in the beginning stages of menopause and I spend more time talking to my dog than I do anyone else (he’s an excellent listener, btw) because there’s only about a handful of people I don’t often want to punch in the face – and no, my kids are not always a part of that group. As a matter of fact, they are RARELY in that group.  (Mommy still loves ya, though!❤️❤️❤️) 

The passing of my stepfather was the hardest. Not only was he gone and I now had this huge hole in my heart but I had my mom being alone and the possibility of her moving in with me to add to my list of worries! (I still can’t tell you which scares me more ; her being alone or her wanting to live here!!! – love you mom!😊❤️😬)

And yes, I have had alot of really great times in between all of this stuff and I know how blessed I really am (I do know, I promise I do) I just hadn’t been feeling it a lot lately. But yesterday we got to do something really great for one kid and the other two were truly  happy for her and I realized that THAT was what mattered. My kids were (almost)well adjusted- not -a -danger- to -society- about -to -be -adult people that were genuinely HAPPY and there for each other when it mattered the most. 

As she drove away this morning, still glowing from yesterday’s events, and I realized that it was the 3rd of November and that today was my dads, Manuel’s 69th birthday and he was stronger and better than ever and all of those crappy things that happened could have, just possibly, made ME stronger and better, too! So I’m doing it; 3 days behind but that’s ok… sometimes you just have to take a minute (or 3 days or a month or a year or whatever) to make the decision that it’s time. Time to get your shit together and stop worrying about things that are out of your control and just be grateful for every good, hell, any half-way -decent -at -least -I’m -not- dead moment you got! 

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The Gossip Girls Take NYC

(Original post on March 2016)
It has always been my dream to take my mom and daughter on THEIR dream vacation. And in March of 2016, that’s exactly what I did!
Three generations, ready to take on the world (ok, only New York, but you get the idea). Emotions were running high, excitement was in the air.. life was perfect!
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We started our trip late Sunday afternoon.. it was my daughters first “real” flight and her nerves were getting the best of her.
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Monday
We went over to the Empire Hotel – because no REAL Gossip Girl Fan can stay anywhere else – dumped our luggage, and took off!
We started out with a quick walk to Serendipity. Of course, we had the iconic Frozen Hot Chocolate.
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                                          Definitely worth the walk (and the money)
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From there we walked over to the end of the block for a little         pick me up at Dylan’s Candy Bar.. I had had enough sweets (never thought I would say that!) so I opted for a signature umbrella.. it broke after about 5 minutes…. yeah, all about decoration – functionality – ZERO.
The weather was still pretty crappy and figured it was a good “inside” day so we hit up the MET and the Guggenheim.. keep in mind we are from Texas. For us, those were FREEZING temperatures. For everyone else, it was just “chilly”.
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By this point we were pretty frozen (again, we come from SOUTH Texas) so we made our way back to the hotel and got settled in for the night.. with PIZZA!
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All in all, it was a WONDERFUL first day to our trip!
We, on the other hand, are tourists.. it was all new to us.. we spent ALOT of time looking at maps, phone apps, guides – but in the end we just ending up asking people where we should get off and what to do from there. Considering this city has a reputation of being mean, everyone was pretty helpful.. even the man next to us who did not seem as excited as we were to be on this train.. 🙂
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We rode “the metro” all the way over to the South Ferry and made our way over to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island. (Ok, so now we sound like natives.)
The Statue is free to see (obviously) but the ferry ride to get there is about $20. If you want to climb the 377 steps to get to the crown, wear good shoes – and it would help to be in decent shape. It’s NOT an easy climb, but well worth the $3 it costs to go up there.
From there, we walked over to the 911 Memorial. If you are limited as to what you can see in New York, make sure this place makes the list. You walk out of there with a whole new appreciation for life and this world we live in. September 11th will always be one of the days where you remember where you were the minute you heard about it.
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“That day, at 9:03am, America became a neighborhood and we all became New Yorkers.The attacks of September 11th were intended to break our spirit. Instead we have emerged stronger and more unified. We feel renewed devotion to the principles of political, economic and religious freedom, the rule of law and respect for human life. We are more determined than ever to live our lives in freedom. –Rudolph W. Giuliani.”
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At this point, our feet were screaming so we took a cab over to Grand Central Station. No self respecting Gossip Girl fan can be in that city and NOT go to GCS.
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Totally took me by surprise that we were even able to have a decent dinner there.. you could probably even buy groceries and go to the salon. It is, literally, a city underground.
By this time, my handy dandy step counter said we had walked over 8 miles and my feet were feeling it so I did what I had to do.. I bought sketchers. Best decision EVER.
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Times Square was all that they say it is.. it’s sort of like Vegas – on steroids. The lights were bright, the energy was amazing.. and the shopping was awesome.
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We really couldn’t take anymore so us, thinking we knew all there was to know about NYC, took a subway to some random location and then realized we had no idea where we were so we took a $30 cab ride about 3 blocks to our hotel.. oh well.. lesson learned.
Wednesday
The sun was finally out and we had taken tired to a whole new level so we decided we’s take the day to “rest” – starting with a nice stroll through Central Park. We stopped and listened to the musicians, watched the dancers, and took in as much of our surroundings as we could possibly absorb.
file-15The entire park is 843 acres and filled with a ton of attractions.. but we had one goal in mind..  that was to find the Pulitzer Fountain (Location @ Wollman rink) where Blair and Serena met and the Bethesda Terrace and Fountain where Chuck and Blair got married.
(Location @ in the middle of Terrace Dr 72nd Street)
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It took about 4 hot dogs and several hours later but we finally found them both.
A late brunch (with a mimosa, of course) in the park and we slowly made our way over to the Empire State Building; stopping at a few stores along the way to shop.
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Not gonna lie; It’s a bit of a challenge to get there and the 102 stories up but the views are totally worth it.
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Not to mention that’s where Chuck was waiting for Blair.. so we HAD to go!
We walked back and stopped in at the New York Public Library where, apparently, they don’t hold any books anymore (disappointing) but the building was lovely and the shop inside made for some pretty interesting gifts.
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We continued the 2 mile trek back to our hotel and, literally, ran into Times Square! We had no idea we had been so close all along.
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A few more minutes in the Hershey store and we eventually dragged our way back to our room… completely “chocolate wasted”…
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“Each neighborhood of the city appeared to be made of a different substance, each seemed to have a different air pressure, a different psychic weight: the bright lights and shuttered shops, the housing projects and luxury hotels, the fire escapes and city parks.”
Thursday (final full day in NYC)  
We started off with a subway ride to Hoboken, New Jersey – home of Carlo’s Bakery.. We crossed the Hudson and easily found it.. and it was WONDERFUL! OMG! Those cannoli’s – TO DIE FOR!
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From there, we decided we needed to burn off the hundred thousand calories we had just consumed by taking a stroll through the town. It was quaint and practically perfect.
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“One belongs to New York instantly, one belongs to it as much in five minutes as in five years.” Tom Wolf
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We easily found our way back to the City and made our way over to China Town.. it wasn’t my favorite place to be but something you need to see at least once.. it’s China INSIDE a city.. even the McDonalds was in Chinese!

We found Little Italy and walked through there to do some more shopping, then decided file-26to head back to the hotel to “rest” before dinner…. only we all fell asleep..

All in all, it was pretty great. There were a few things we missed but we hit all of the “main” attractions..  Besides, NY isn’t a place you can only visit once. So we will definitely be back..

Getting Old Sucks..

I just turned 46 years old.

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I’m SUPPOSED to be in the prime of my life. But I’m not. I find myself slowly falling apart.. vision is going, I forget things, and sometimes, if I laugh hard enough…well, THINGS happen.. things no one wants to know about.

The Face…

This face. The one I have recently started to lather different creams on- it’s wrinkly. Every time I look in the mirror I’m reminded of that damn tanning machine I just couldn’t stay away from in College. Even though I once got so orange I looked like an Oompa Loompa. Did I stop? Nope, went right back and just got a slightly darker shade of orange.

Botox has become part of my monthly budget, although, with two kids in college, I have ZERO business spending money on that. But hey, a girls got to do what a girls got to do.

The Hair….

White hairs are sprouting up around my forehead, the ones both my hair dresser and I have agreed are just really blond hairs. And they aren’t just coming up on my head.. nope, they are sprouting from all over the place. My eyebrows, my chest, my chin, my neck.. I mean, seriously. Is this necessary?

The Body….

Do I really even need to go here? Suffice it to say that my joints can now predict the weather and, I think, the phases of the moon and there is nothing that can be done to improve it (this body) without a lot of money, anesthesia, and some sort of medical procedure.

I’m not most people…

When MOST people hit 40 they are more in tune with who they are and what they want with life. I. however, am the exact opposite. I still don’t know what I want to do with my life. Some days I am ready to take on the world and others, not so much. There are days I am up and ready to conquer life at the crack of dawn, and others.. I don’t even bother getting out of bed.
Yes, my kids are (somewhat) grown but they aren’t out of the house or independent at all. On the contrary, they are costing me more than ever. Tuition, books, rent, etc..
My baby started her first year at the University of Texas in Austin last fall. I honestly thought I wouldn’t make it one day without her.. I was wrong. I actually love it.. like a lot. But she is killing me financially. Her dorm is a piece of junk yet its costing me over $1000 a month. WTH! That’s my mortgage payment!
My middle son is about to graduate from Texas State. I’m thinking – yes, some relief!!!*!*! – but no, now he’s going to Law School (must they be such over achievers). So although he will have to get loans for school, guess who will be paying his living expenses. This girl. Does it ever end? EVER?
By this time, I should have had a career and be making plans for retirement; seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. The only light I see is the one of the oncoming train that’s about to run me over. Retirement? I don’t see that happening anytime soon..
I guess if you look back at the 40 somethings of our past, we really have made great strides. Our fashion sense has certainly improved. The “mature” look is out the window (THANK GOD). The once imposed restrictions of “maturity” no longer exist. On the contrary, 40 somethings are doing more and living more. So why cant I?
Shouldn’t I be planning for retirement? Thinking of that vacation I never got to take or the expansion of my master bedroom (yes, I will be turning their rooms into my closet). 40 is the time to start working on the life I always wanted. BUT IT’S NOT! I am still working like a slave and I don’t see any end in sight. And I am 46 – my 40’s are practically over!

Your Age is Just a Number… a big one, but still, just a number…

Your 40’s CAN be a new beginning and CAN be a great time to find out who you really are. In a way, that’s sort of what’s happening to me. I have hit that time in my life (the one we all go through eventually) when I look back and think “is THIS it?” So join me on this journey of exploration as WE try and figure out if Age is truly just a number. #midlifecrisis