This is what I woke up to at 6 am this morning, the last day of 2010. It was breathtaking and in 2011, I am going to get up every morning and look at life as a fortunate, breathtaking opportunity. What a year. I lost a dear friend in March. She took her own life. It is still too difficult to talk about - I miss her so much. I can only hope she is at peace, finally. Another dear friend lost her only son - her sadness cannot be described, my thoughts are with her and I send her waves of hope and strength everyday.
I am going to spend today, the last day of the year watching the ocean move slowly with determination and gusto. The water is always a great place for me to re-find myself, rejuvenate and re-start....
I hope you enjoy this last day of the year and begin tomorrow with determination, gusto and lots of love surrounding you!
"It is so much easier to love what you have, than to yearn for what you don't have."Meryl Streep - One True Thing, 1998
...it was just a thought
November and December are usually the happiest time of year for me. I love the energy surrounding the holidays. I cherish the smiles on the children's, and the panic on the parent's, faces!
The invention of online shopping has been my savior! There is nothing worse than being in the holiday spirit and having to trudge through the bustling crowds at the mall or walking down freezing ice edged streets trying to find a little something unique for a few exceptional people. No way, I love sitting by the fireplace, gazing out the window at the new fallen snow and catching a glimpse of the Christmas tree, while every so slowly, finding the right gifts - online. Not that I don't indulge in shopping, but when I do, I make sure I don't need to buy anything. I enjoy window shopping, walking along Madison Avenue (the new Ralph Lauren stores are comparable to a vacation destination!) or scouring the quaint shops in SOHO. ABC Carpet is one of the best destinations to preview...then stop in the restaurant and enjoy a lite lunch. Palmer Trading Company is a miniature RL (style) store offering fascinating vintage finds. If I need something to eat, The Clinton Street Bakery & Restaurant or Ed's Chowder House, located in the Empire Hotel will satify my needs. If I am in the mood to have a cocktail and sit by the fireplace, I go to Jimmy the James Hotel or One if By Land, Two if by Sea - both offer fireplaces and fine, expensive food and drinks
When the shopping is done, a good classic movie is what completes the holiday feeling. Holiday Inn (1942) with Bing Crosby, Fred Astaire and Virginia Hale, Christmas in Connecticut (1945) featuring Barbara Stanwyck and Sydney Greenstreet and The Shop Around the Corner with Jimmy Stewart and Margaret Sullivan are tops on my list. The every joyous musical, White Christmas (1954) is another that churns my memories.
Connecting with good friends is the most blissful element of the season! Oh, I know we cannot all meet for lunch or chat for hours every night on the phone or email our daily doings. But just the thought of all of my dear friends warms my heart. I have found so many colleagues on Linkedin.com and many have found me. It is a delight to know that friends from 30 years ago still hold a spot in their hearts for me, as I do for them! Facebook is another story...too much information, if you ask me. Although, I am grateful for the people who have connected with me over the last year or so.
This year, I sent as many people Christmas cards as I had addresses. I took pleasure in the personal connection. One of my goals this year is to obtain more addresses, not email addresses, but home addresses, so that next year, I can expand my reach and touch more people who have touched me throughout my life.
The quote at the beginning of this post reached deep into my soul. For the many years we are given as the gift of life, we often spend most of our time yearning for something more. As I get older (yes, we old people reflect a lot!!!) I see what a waste of time that can be. I am not saying we should not reach or improve our lives. What I am driving at is this: If your children are driving you nuts...imagine what life would be like without them. If your husband is close to being put out on the street...think about what made you fall in love with him in the first place. If you think your mother is being too interfering, (go back to the children above), think about how they see you and imagine a life without your mom. Is the dog hair all over the place and driving you insane? Look into your dog's eyes and take in the unconditional love she gives you...who will love you that much when she is gone?
Do I still yearn to be alone? Heck yes! but I know that a small amount of alone time is all I want and what I need is the hectic, chaotic, noisy life I actually have everyday!
So next time you feel at wits end, think about loving what you have, not what you don't have.
“Freedom is the oxygen of the soul” Chevy Stevens’ first novel landed in the book stores last weekend. I rushed right out to by my copy of “Still Missing”. And yes, I still love to hold a book, turn the pages and smell the fragrant scent that pours out of the pages in a novel. I had a preconception of what the book was about, I had read a few articles in the NYTimes and WSJ about this debut novel. Oddly enough it is the story of a Real Estate agent who is abducted during an Open House. Your heart will open and your arms will wrap around Annie Sullivan as she chronicles her abduction and months of captivity with “The Freak”. Not since “The Lovely” Bones by Alice Sebold have I been so captivated by a story. Stevens draws you in and makes you stay. It is a chilling novel that is well worth reading. What lies beneath this fascinating story? You won’t really know until the end, but mark my words it will take your breath away long after you finish the book. Still Missing by Chevy Stevens published by St. Marks Press – www.ChevyStevens.com
"We long for an affection altogether ignorant of our faults. Heaven has accorded this to us in the uncritical canine attachment." George Eliot
A good friend of mine, Sue Checchio, gave me a copy of the book, The Art of Racing in the Rainby Garth Sein. The reader comes to know the story through the eyes (and narration) of the dog. He speaks to us throughout the story, he makes us laugh, he makes us cry, but more than that, he makes us believe that dogs can talk. So now when I look in Holly's eyes, or I hear her bark I wonder what really is going on in her mind and what she is really trying to say.
Marina, our friend in Marblehead and co- lover of St. Bernards (Matilda is Holly's best buddy) insists that when they spend the weekend together they gossip about all the other dogs in town. So what is one to think when one reads that some of the apartment dwellers in NYC are having their dogs
"de-barked" ! (NYTimes article, 2/3/2010 Heel. Sit. Whisper. Good Dog by Sam Dolnick).
It broke my heart to read this article and know that several Veterinary surgeons perform this procedure! Oh, they still make 'raspy squeaks' as the article continues....I was heart broken to think that people would allow themselves to do this. I know, what it is like to have a dog in an apartment. I bought my first St. Bernard when I was 19 and along with my little precious mutt, Noiseless. (Oh yes, he could bark, but he never really did unless I was threatened by something or someone.), we lived in a studio apartment (oh, the tails I can share with you!!!! Someday!). But my dogs, were trained...yes, people... training can work. OK, maybe some dogs, not, but DON"T BUY THAT BREED IF YOU ARE LIVING IN MANHATTAN!!!!). Poor Nestle, the subject of the article, he looked so violated and for sure he has been. Shame on you owners and more so, VETS...in your crates, now...SIT, ROLLOVER, BEG for forgiveness from these devoted creatures...it was just a thought.
"Shopping is better than sex. If you are not satisfied after shopping. You can exchange it for something you really like."Adrienne Gusoff
For the last year I have searched high and low for Navy sweaters...yes I am going COLOR!!!! OK, so most of my wardrobe is black, but I am trying to be creative and bring a little more color into my life...thus I am beginning with Navy Blue! Never found anything until TODAY!!!! The New York Times' article "New Way to Flit from Store to Store"by Kathlerine Boehret featured this incredible website: Flit.com. It is one not to be missed. You can find anything from discount stores to top of the line (of course my favorite designer, Donna Karen has the Navy sweater...but so did 5 other upscale retailers!!!! I haven't even looked at the discount stores yet. Go shopping!!!! "If I don't stop shopping I will end up a bag lady; a Fendi bag lady, but a bag lady." Carrie Bradshaw, Sex and the City...it was just a thought
"Old Age is like everything else, to make a success of it, you have to start young."Fred Astaire
...just a thought
I wanted to share a bit of my first Christmas at my antique cottage. ( Photo right is the river stone fireplace in the living room. Above, more living room shots.Additional photos to follow, too!)
Just at the end of our renovations, the holidays approached and Christmas at the Cottage was on track.
Heather and her family purchased our 1763 antique farmhouse this past year...new traditions for that home began the instant the kids chose their bedrooms! New life has been infused in that grand old home.
For me, it was time to down size. Why would I do that at the height of my Real Estate career? Well, when I am truly old (no I am not there yet - my Dad is 92 and I expect to reach or surpass this fine age, myself), I want to be debt free, own lots of income properties, and feel safe from 'the storms' life rolls in.
It is hard to believe that we spend most of our waking hours setting goals, working hard to make enough money to 'move up', buying bigger houses, more furniture...you know, we all do it.
I am not sure exactly how old I was when the quiet whispers of old age began to creep into my brain. Was it when I had my first aching back? When my dad decided to stop driving his car? When I looked in the mirror and saw my mother and grandmother's faces staring back at me?
I am really not sure, but when the littlest of hints started 'screaming' in my ear, I figured I needed a plan! And so once again, I changed the direction of my life, developed a plan, and began forecasting my next move!
I found an endearing little cottage that was owned by the most engaging family. And as luck would have it, they were ready to move, too. So there I stood, captivated by this enchanting cottage...and I bought it. Now, two years later, we are in, loving it and everyday I wonder why I ever needed anything bigger than this miniature house. There is a place for everything and everything has its place.
I have nicknamed itTheChristmas Cottage, simply because I am perpetually in a state of happiness, everyday of the year!!!
At the beginning finding a little antique cottage wasjust a thought...today it is a reality.
Believe in things and they will materialize. Make a plan, then work the plan, and you will find yourself exactly where you want to be, doing exactly what you want to be doing....it was just a thought.
"For everything you have missed, you have gained something else, and for everything you gain, you lose something else."Ralph Waldo Emerson
It has been a long time since I have picked up my pen (so to speak) in preparation of creating my newspaper column, ...just a thought. For more than seven years I penned a weekly column that brought out my own inner thoughts and transferred them to my loyal readers. I inadvertently inspired many of those readers to reach out and grab what life had to offer. I wrote about my family, my goals, my friends, our triumphs and our defeats. My readers were with me every step of the way. I guess you could say it was my weekly blog (although that word did not even exist back then). Now, thanks to my daughter, Heather, it is time to get back to writing. The paper has been sold and I have another career, Real Estate (we will get into that later). I love what I am doing, and I have gained so much from the people I have met, but I truly miss my quiet writing time when inspiration is my only goal. What is there to miss about writing? Well, I always felt good after I signed off for the week. I believed that if I touched at least one person, if I had made one person smile, or recall a distant memory, I was successful (being successful in life, well that is another story!). Let's talk about loss for a minute. This morning Shawn Hornbeck appeared on The Today Show. At age 11 he was abducted and tortured for more than 4 years. Shawn and his family lost so much, but what held him together during that time was the love he knew his family carried for him. No, he can never regain that time, and he probably will never forget the traumatic ordeal. But what Shawn gained was strength and faith that his family would never give up and he would eventually return home, which he did. Now through their loss, others are gaining. Shawn and his family have started the Shawn Hornbeck Foundation in order to help other families cope with similar traumas. visit www.thetodayshow.com for the full story. Look around, at how lucky you are! If you have children hug them, if your parents are not close by, call them, if you think a friend is out of sorts, email them. Your family is safe, your life looks pretty good from this angle! How does it look from your angle? ...it was just a thought Stephanie
The first and most important decision in buying and selling a home is finding the right Realtor! My knowledge of the market and expertise in marketing will help you through the process. Serving Central New Jersey FRom Short Hills to Spring Lake. Corporate Relocation Specialist, Antique and Historic Home Expert. Click on my photo to go to www.stephanieannsmith.com or give me a call at 908-230-8585. Now, Let's Get Moving! In the meantime, visit my St. Bernard's blog: Http://dogtailsntreats.blogspot.com. And meet Holly (see below!)
To see all Watercolor paintings by Rose Hill Designs visit Http://RoseHillDesigns.blogspot.com
John and I got married on the beach in Marblehead, MA by Janet "Frosty the Snowman" - Owner of Notorious Annie's
Watercolor painting by Rose Hill Designs
This was our invitation!
Too Soon Old, Too Late Smart - Thirty True Things You Need to Know Now
Although Gordon Livingston, M.D. has some intersting thoughts on relationships, etc. This book is more about his life, set backs and over coming them...and I am not sure he has done quite that, yet. If you see it, read it, otherwise don't bother running out to buy it.