Category Archives: Community

I’m embracing! I’m embracing!

So far, so good.  My resolution for February is to move myself to California.

Oh, and to stay sane in the process.

All things considered, things are going well. With one and a half weeks to go:

  • I have emptied all drawers and cupboards of their contents with the exception of my kitchen (which has some dishes I am sill using) and my dresser (which has clothing I am still wearing).  I have thrown out, sold, given away, or donated many things.  I have packed boxes and boxes, and more boxes.
  • I have requested records from my doctor, my dentist, my ophthalmologist, and Hannah’s vet.
  • I have completed a moving inventory, rented a car, rented a house, and changed my address.
  • My house is on the market, clean and being shown to potential buyers.
  • My in-box at work is almost empty and my major projects have all been handed over.

People keep asking me if this is hard.   They say, “I know you’re organized and everything, but isn’t it hard to go through all of those memories?”

The great news is I can honestly say “NO!”

It really isn’t.  I’m an organizer and a purger by nature.  I am excited about downsizing.  I am elated to let go of things I’ve been keeping ‘just in case.’  And the things I’ve held onto are related to memories I want to bring with me.

So I’ve been sailing along.  Packing, purging, cleaning, organizing.  To do lists everywhere and lots of things to check-off each day!  I’m in heaven!  I should have done this years ago!  This whole transition thing isn’t too hard, I think to myself.  It’s an adventure!  I’m embracing! I’m embracing!

Well, friends.  I’m here to tell you: Everything changes when the end is near.

I know, I know.  I’ll keep in touch with my close friends and my family.  I have e-mail and Facebook, and Skype, and all kinds of things to help me stay connected.  I will fly east regularly.  People will actually come to visit me!  There will even be important friends I will see MORE frequently now that I will be on the west coast. And I really do have a LOT that I am looking forward to.

But this week – my last week at work – THIS WEEK I have to start to say goodbye.

I have been blessed at this place by the most authentic, honest, wonderful, smart, funny, and kind colleagues.  Many have become dear friends.  And for the next few days I will have to say good-bye to each and every one of them.

Not only that, I’m saying goodbye to the comfort of knowing everyone, knowing who to call, knowing who to believe, knowing who to trust, and knowing who to ask for help.  I’m saying goodbye to a place that has supported me as I’ve grown up – personally and professionally – and a work family that has believed in me every step of the way.

I know that saying goodbye is part of the process.  That it is important for me and important for them.  But I hate it.

Officially.  I.  HATE.  IT.

Can’t we just go out drinking together and talk about things like they’re not going to change?  Can’t we be in denial for just a little while?  I mean, what would be the harm in that, really?

Ok.  So it’s a plan.  I’m not really leaving.  Get it?  (wink wink)

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Filed under Community, Family, Moving, Resolutions

The Antidote to Small Talk

One of my favorite things about my One Month Wisdom project has been how it’s changed even my most surface conversations at social events.

You know, those moment when you see someone you haven’t seen for a while and they ask you, “What’s new?”

These moments are the land minds of mingling, and I used to hate them.  Why?  Because I’ve learned the following:

  1. People don’t want to hear how great your life is, even if it’s true.
  2. I don’t like to talk about the weather.  It is raining.  Or it’s not.  Get over it.
  3. I don’t have kids, which is fine.  But let’s admit it, kids and their adorable and silly antics often make good conversation.
  4. It’s often inappropriate to launch into what’s really new in your life.  I mean – saying “well you know, I might be pregnant” or “I’m looking for a job” or “I just had the best sex yesterday” is just not OK for most social settings.
  5. I really try hard not to gossip.  This is often what people want, or at least what they like, but it’s not healthy or good or anything I want to be, so I try to avoid it.
The reality is, often, there really isn’t very much new.  I walked my dog today.  I ate a turkey and brie sandwich for lunch.  I went to work.  I noticed a gorgeous sunrise.  It’s a wonderful life, but my routine often doesn’t make for scintillating conversation.  Since I can’t talk about the weather, or my health, or who is (scandal!) sleeping with whom, WHAT DO I DO?
In the past, I’ve usually mentioned something about a movie I’ve seen recently, or a book I’m reading, but often that falls flat.
Now, though, thanks to One Month Wisdom, I always have something to offer.
Tales about my monthly resolution and how I am (or am not) being successful make people laugh, ask questions, and best of all, start telling me their own interesting stories.  It’s a great conversation starter and I’ve learned more interesting things about people this way than I ever expected.  In fact, some times the telling of these tales actually helps me to write a future blog post.  It’s a win-win!

Hopefully.

Unless I’m actually boring everyone in my home town and my friends are just being kind.

If that’s the case, I’m sorry (and someone, PLEASE let me know).

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Filed under Community, Life, Parties, Resolutions

The Family Cheese Wheel

One of the things I share with my family is a love of food.  We love appetizers.  We love desserts.  We love snacks.  And we definitely love cheese.

When we’re together, it is not rare for us to talk about what to have for lunch while we were eating breakfast.

Seriously.  The Radcliffes love food.

I think I was ten when I learned how to make salad dressing from scratch.   My mother and I can have thirty minute conversations about what we both had for dinner the day before and how we prepared it.  My father built a computer program to plan cooking on Thanksgiving day – all he had to do was enter the weight of the turkey and out came the schedule.  My brother and his wife host the best dinner parties in Pennsylvania and they do it like most people do laundry – weekly.

The Radcliffes also love cooking.

This past weekend, I spent some time visiting with relatives I hadn’t seen in years.  I admit, I was nervous about seeing the clan.  Even though I have come to love being single, these kinds of gatherings can still bring out the self-conscious divorced girl in me.

I had forgotten, however, that the Radcliffes (ok, well actually the Bradstocks) really love picnics.

As soon as I rounded the corner of Great Aunt Nellie’s yard, memories of summer picnics with this extended family came flooding back. The food was always simple and delicious.  There was never much to do but sit around and talk but we didn’t care.  This weekend was no different.  It didn’t take long before the nerves went away and we were telling old stories and making new memories.

Of course my favorite bonding moment of the entire trip was when my cousin (once removed!) and her husband and I waxed poetic about our love of cheese.   My mother had explained my August resolution.  Laurie started listing all of the cheeses she and her husband adore and looking wistfully into the distance.  Last year, they gave and received cheese-of-the month from iGourmet (please, PLEASE someone, buy this for me).  Ah yes, I thought.  We are kindred spirits.

Family is important to me, but I’ve always believed you make your family more than you inherit it.  That’s what I’ve done with my life – gathering friends  around me.  Still, these people are my family tree – my family cheese wheel if you will – and I can’t deny a special connection.  I don’t think it has anything to do with biology – I think it’s history.

At the end of the weekend, I went with my parents to see my grandparents’ graves.  I had forgotten that this spot was where many of my relatives are buried, some who died before I was born.  Why were those graves more meaningful to me than others?  Why were any of them meaningful to me at all? I don’t think it was the graves, to be honest.  I think, instead, it was the connection I was witnessing – my father to his parents, to his cousin lost far too young, to his uncles and aunts – and my mother (the in-law) to this family she has known and loved for most of her life.

Oddly I know that if I needed help, many of this clan would offer it, even though they see me rarely and we live far apart.  I hope they know I would offer it too.  We are connected.  I know that not everyone has this and I’m grateful for it, and for the opportunity to feel it so strongly again after too many years.

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Filed under Cheese, Community, Family

Stretching Resources

WOW.  I had no idea that my lack of stretching success could inspire others!

Apparently, Kris has my back – she’s stretching this month too now, so that at last one of us is stretching every day.  Thanks Kris!

I am happy to report that I’ve fully embraced this resolution – finally.  And several of you have asked me for resources, so here is a short list.

If you’re anything like me, you may already have many of these in  your house, long forgotten under a pile of old magazines or a dusty closet.  If you don’t have them already, before you buy any of the books or DVDs listed here, consider checking your local public library to see if they have any of these resources you can borrow for free.  Yup, that’s how libraries roll.

Balance Ball Beginners Workout DVD

I already had the balance ball from a previous attempt to begin an in-home workout routine and lo-and-behold it came with a DVD!  It has a nice 15 minute stretching routine which I am using quite often.  Apparently, I like someone telling me what to do, even though I think I am actually smart enough to come up with 15 minutes of stretching exercises on my own.

AM/PM  Yoga for Beginners DVD

I have used this DVD in the past and was able to find a friend who could loan it to me by posting a request on Facebook.    The workouts are 20 minutes, which is just short enough to fit into even the most busy morning routine.  (Full disclosure: there are some days when I have no “morning routine.”)

Lewisburg Area Rec Association (LARA) Pilates Classes

These classes are fairly inexpensive and have a wonderful instructor.  Although I want to hate her for her ballet dancer’s body and incredibly strong abs; I can’t.  She is super sweet, very patient, knowledgeable, and extremely good at explaining Pilates moves in a way that beginners can understand.  If you’re in the Lewisburg area, I strongly recommend these classes.

The Pilates Body, by Brooke Siler

This book was recommended to me by my Pilates instructor.  It’s hard to understand Pilates exercises from writing and drawings (DVDs or in-class instruction is easier), but this book does the best job of those I considered.  I’m keeping it in my gym locker now so I can tack on an exercise or two at the end of every workout.

Stretchware

This is a simple and inexpensive software program that will remind you to stretch while you are sitting at your desk.   You can even download it free for 30 days to try it out without giving anyone your credit card number (amazing!).  If your job involves sitting in front of a computer for long periods of time, this is a great tool to keep you alert and productive as well as, well, stretched.

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Filed under Community, Fitness, Resolutions

Veering Off Course

No, I haven’t had a drink.  And I’m still eating five (actually 4-6) vegetables a day.  But my life, or more importantly the life of a very dear friend, has veered way off course.  As a result, today, so has my post.

One of my friends has breast cancer.  She’s had one successful surgery and is now waiting for test results which will determine what comes next.  Definitely radiation.  Maybe chemotherapy.

Those are the facts.

As it turns out, this friend has been living abroad for the year with her husband and children.  So now they are moving back home, a good five months earlier than planned.   They will move back into their house and their kids will go back to their old school in the middle of the year.

Those are the logistics.

But the truth?

The truth is that I have witnessed an amazing thing.  Something I knew about my community and my life, but which was acted out live and right in front of me.  Something that makes it hard for me to imagine ever leaving this place.

People I know well and people I barely know – we RALLIED.

We needed someone to coordinate messages to the group of friends at home, waiting and ready to help.  DONE

We needed a way to get my friend and her family and their luggage from NJ to PA.  DONE

We needed a house for the renters who are in my friend’s home to move into (that’s a place for 2 adults, 3 children, and 2 large dogs!) in less than a week.  Furnished.  Preferably for two months.  And preferably for free.  DONE

And don’t even think about the food.  What do we do when we want to help and don’t know what to do?  We bake.  We cook.  We stock refrigerators.  I don’t think my friends will need to cook for the next six months if they don’t want to.  Dinner for five?  DONE AND DONE (and repeat).

In less than 24 hours, it all happened.  What’s even more amazing, is that I know that this group will be rallying for the next HOWEVER long it takes to help this family through what I hope with all of my heart will be “just” a rough patch.

In 24 hours, we have gone from being the people on their annual holiday party invitation list to being TEAM Z/C.

Friends who are religious often ask me (the Atheist) what I do for community without a church?  Where do I get my strength and my solace?  Who helps me when I’m in crisis?  Who guides me when I am lost?

Well, little hometown of mine, old friends and new friends who have rallied this week – IT’S YOU.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’m still pissed off about the cancer.  Majorly pissed off.

But for today, right now, I am also grateful.

Thank You.

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