Friday, November 30, 2012

Friday Flashback . . .I said YES!

Spending Thanksgiving home with our families this year gave my husband and me plenty of time to reflect on the wonderful life we have and the amazing places we've been and seen together. And, it was the perfect opportunity to feed our insatiable wanderlust with travel guides and marathons of House Hunters International.

One of the places that we've been that will always be extraordinarily special is Paris. It was one year ago this week, on the 27th to be exact, that my sweet husband asked told asked me to be his wife. And of course, here we are . . .I said YES.

So today, I remember Paris, the City of Lights and our forever City of Love.

Yes, we have a lock here.


There were plenty of opportunities to ask me here . . .


And everywhere else we went,

but he waited until our last morning in Paris,

and in a little cafe in a little street market, over cafe au lait, he asked.


And I, with my cliched, teary response, said YES! And with all my heart, I still say YES, each and every day.


Thursday, November 29, 2012

There are big buts and I cannot lie . . .

What did you want to do this year that just never got done? What were you hoping to start that got pushed onto the back burner? What got in your way? Was it your but?

The end is near. The downhill of the holiday roller coaster is upon us and we are fast approaching the January 1st whiplash turn, or, if the Mayans are right, the end of the world. For many, it's a time to reflect and reassess . . .to set new goals and banish bad habits.

Change is fabulous. It's a way to start fresh and plan for the future. But, one challenge that continues to superimpose its face into the windows of our dreams is our but . . . .the "Yeah, but . . ."  And it's a big one. Big butts may be fine for some folks, but when these buts stand in the way of our dreams, it's time to trim the fat and show them who's boss.

For example, when my husband and I contemplate our desire to travel around-the-world travel, the "Yeah, buts" shake their tail feather right in the face of our dream:

Yeah, I want to travel, but . . .
  • how will we afford this?
  • how will we find the time to do this?
  • our parents are getting older, and you know we can't trust your/my brother(s) to take care of them.
  • what about our retirement income?
  • what happens if we give up our job/house/car and we can't find/get another one easily?
  • what about our friends and family? How will we stay in touch? Our nieces and  nephews are so young. . .will they think we've abandoned them? Forgotten them?
  • what about health insurance? What if we get sick/hurt?
  • what about language barriers? 
  • what about crime? What if it's dangerous?
  • can we make money on the road?
  • what if we lose our passport? get mugged? get killed?




There's countless others that pop up as quickly as one disappears. And many of them are valid. And many become excuses.

When contemplating big change, can you plan enough or can you over-plan? Is there a right time? Can you just throw caution to the wind and just do it?

As 2013 nears, these questions (and more) become knockers on the door of my brain, like Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory...

Kelly (knock, knock, knock)
Kelly (knock, knock, knock)
Kelly (knock, knock, knock)
Answer me (knock, knock, knock)
Answer me (knock, knock, knock)
Answer me.

You get the point.



But then there's the wonderful changes that change brings. When it comes to travel, the benefits are endless . . .and when you're blessed to be able to do it with the one you love, what is there to stop you? Only your big but. And maybe a few logistics.

But (here it is again) we're only here for a short time. Do we want our time here to be spent tied to a job/mortgage/debt/lifestyle that keeps us from who we are truly meant to be?

So yes, there are questions and challenges. And there always will be. But, if you don't take a chance on your dream of choice, what's left?

 
 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Married for Six Months...Six Reasons Why

Six months ago, I said, "I do" to the most wonderful man I never knew I always wanted.


Five years and six months ago, I met a man who would forever change my world. He holds my heart as well as he holds my hand. Here are only six reasons why I love him.

1. He loves me. Simply. Completely.

2. He is a patient and respectful man. He never raises his voice in anger. He never rushes me along. He inspires me to be a more patient and tolerant person myself.

3. He always pulls for the underdog. Through his work, he helps many who, for many, through no fault of their own, need a voice to speak up for what is right. My husband gives them their voice.

4. He is my other half . . .the yang to my yin . . .my partner in crime. I am his co-pilot, his first mate. I have married my best friend.

5. He makes me feel beautiful and sexy, even when I have to simply take his word for it.

6. There is no one with whom I would rather travel the world. Or go to the grocery store.

Neither of us are perfect. But we are perfect for each other. Amor para siempre.



Friday, November 16, 2012

Healthy Peanut Butter Cups...Quest Protein's Cravings Line...My New Craving!

My favorite protein bar brand, Quest Protein Bars has launched a new line called Cravings, which, I think, is intended to be a replacement for the treats that those of us with a sweet tooth, may try to avoid. As of now, there are two:

The crunch bar alternative . . .



And the pb cup alternative . . .
 

They ran a special through Facebook and I was able to order a box of each prototype.

They are fabulous!

Both are incredibly rich and the flavors are very authentic. The cups are actually a bit too rich for me to eat both at once, but each flavor will be a welcomed alternative treat at the movies, or for when I just need want that bit of chocolaty decadence.

As of now, they have officially released only the cups. But the entire line of protein bars is fabulous! And they finally sell in stores. As per the website, they now are sold in GNC and in Vitamin Shoppe.

Thank you, Quest, for making protein such a tasty treat!


London...Friday Photo Flashback

Hello, friends! Recently, Thanksgiving has been a time for travel for us, but this year, we're staying put. Thanksgiving at home is bittersweet. We love our families, but we also love to travel, and Europe in the fall is simply lovely. So today, I  am digging through the photo gallery for a Friday Photo Flashback.

Off we go . . .to London . . .



First stop . . . Trafalgar Square and The National Gallery of Art. The sun was setting when I took this picture. I like the post-card-like quality of the shot.

 
Westminster Abbey was definitely one of the highlights of the trip. As an English teacher, seeing Poets' Corner was especially exhilarating for me, matched only by seeing the Globe Theatre. And, knowing the history makes it all come to life. A true field trip of a lifetime.
 

 
The iconic Houses of Parliament and Big Ben. What a treat! When you go, just for fun, call someone near the time Big Ben is set to chime.


Perhaps the highlight of the entire trip, was seeing my all time favorite show, Les Miserables, in London, where it all started. AND, as if that wasn't good enough, I was lucky enough to score second row seats . . .in the pit. Thank you, Expedia.


No trip to London is complete without some foodie fun. In addition to the hundreds of comfy gastro pubs and amazing Indian cafes, the food halls at Harrod's is a must see for any food enthusiast.

Of course, London has so much to see and so many photo-ops to be had. Seeing St. Paul's Cathedral, the London Eye, the Tower of London (with the Crown Jewels) and Buckingham Palace is a must on any tour of the city. And a Jack-the-Ripper tour offers some creepy, nighttime fun.

So, that's it . . .this week's Friday Photo Flashback. Off to check airfares for an adventure in 2013. . . that is, if the Mayans were wrong. Here's hoping. Cheers!


Tuesday, November 13, 2012

It's Always Monday Morning, Even on Tuesday

Everyone has a favorite holiday. For many, it's Thanksgiving because it's all about the food and family, without the pressure of shopping for gifts.

For others, it's all things Christmas . . .the lights, the carols, the wrapping. Well, maybe not the wrapping...

And then there's the Halloween lovers, who revel in black cats, witches on broomsticks and miniature extortionists who demand candy as payment for the threat of neighborhood mischief-making.

For me, it's all about New Year's Day. I love January 1st. For a long time, I would go to the beach and cleanse my hands in the frigid New England Atlantic in reflection and atonement for the sins of the past year. January makes me giddy with excitement of all that can be. It's a new slate on which I can write my goals, hopes and dreams for the future.

Like New Year's Day, Monday mornings bring a similar excitement. Every Monday is a chance to start anew. Diets typically start on Mondays, a detox from the culinary debauchery of the weekend before. Workouts are popular Monday activities, with the vow that this would be the one, the time for you to get your fitness on. Meatless Monday seems to be a given, but what about Tofu Tuesday? Just kidding...

But what I've learned is that it's all about readiness. And readiness can happen on a Tuesday as well as on a Monday. Or a Wednesday. Or even a Friday.

Ground zero is ground zero. Babies aren't born only on Mondays; why should your life begin again only on a Monday? Every day is ground zero. Every day is a new day to plan and achieve your goals.

What is it you want to do? What's stopping you? Are you ready? I mean, really ready? Only you know. And no one can force you. You have to want it for you. Wanting it for someone else is nice, but you need to want it for you. It is all about you. Accept it. Embrace it.

Achieving a goal, whether it's a goal related to weight loss, fitness, education, your career, travel, you name it . . .it all takes time. And planning. And commitment. 

Every life is gifted with only so many Monday mornings. What if you ran out of Mondays? 








I'm not saying that Monday is a bad day to start anything. Monday makes a lot of sense. But don't put it off thinking there's always next Monday. There could be, but then you've lost a week. What is stopping your success from starting on a Thursday?

I don't need to tell you . . . life is short. We are bombarded with that message every day. As my mom always says, tomorrow is promised to no one.

Today is your Monday morning. Even though it's Tuesday. Make it count.

 




Saturday, November 10, 2012

Social Media, Here We Come!

Beso A Lovely Life, Indeed is on Twitter, Facebook,  Pinterest, and Instagram. Check it out, like the page, follow boards, give a shout out, spread the word. Thanks. See you soon!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Talking About Infertility: Redefining the Baby . . .an Epiphany

I am barren, as in the Biblical sense. While I am only 41, I am in the full throes of menopause, complete with hot flashes, mood swings, and all of the wild rumpus that accompanies the "change" . . . approximately ten years earlier than most of my peers.

[Insert 3-letter acronym here.]

This was a tough diagnosis. While it was suspected for quite some time, confirmation provided an immediately unwelcomed sense of closure. It would not be impossible (until I had no period for a year) but it would be highly unlikely. The idea that I would never bear a child took my breath away. For a while, I lost my sense of value, my sense of purpose. I felt broken and betrayed, feeling like I was less of a woman because my barren body would never produce fruit. I was profoundly devastated and incredibly enraged.

As I wrestled with my anger, I prayed for a sense of meaning. And for forgiveness for the terrible things I said and thought.

Perhaps I am grasping at straws, but I may have achieved some closure. The fruit we would bear would not be of the human variety, but fruit that sweetens our lives as a couple, fruit that enriches us, body and soul.

My definition of baby was starting to shift. Whether the paradigm shift generated from self-preservation or self-actualization, I will never know. But it's there.

I am 41. My love for children is no less, but my desire to parent may have faded. Maybe it's natural. Women younger than me have children for a reason.

I have so blessings in my life. My husband and I are happily married. I love spending time with him and pursuing our own interests, which mostly involve travel. We are both lucky to have good jobs that we love. We have nieces and nephews that we adore, and we also love the freedom afforded to us by a childfree life.

But this doesn't mean that we're "baby" free.

We hear others call pet projects their "baby" all the time. They take great pains into nurturing their new business or personal goals they set for themselves. Like a baby, it changes and develops and develops new needs. As time goes on, the demands may be less and tasks may be delegated in a way that infancy didn't allow.

I understand that the value of human life trumps any business or pet project. However, for the person or couple who, either by choice or by chance, have not become parents in the traditional sense, this definition or redefinition of purpose, is no less important.

And their lives . . . our lives. . . . are no less full or meaningful because of our lack of offspring.

Our fruit is our lives in love, always fresh and always sweet . . .not a human fruit, but no less treasured.



Monday, November 5, 2012

Undecided?

As part of National Blogging Month, the kind folks of BlogHer have provided novice and veteran bloggers alike, a month of writing prompts to help generate the creative juices.

It's not difficult to understand why today's prompt deals with tomorrow's election. It is a big deal. And it's important that we all vote. It really is our responsibility as a citizen of democracy.

But, if you're still undecided, this website may help clear it up. I Side With is an interactive quiz that, based on your responses, will align you with the candidate who most reasonably parallels your thinking.

I took the quiz and was curiously optimistic about the results. Try it. And if you're sure, try it anyway. You may be surprised, or nodding with the acknowledgement that they got it right.

Regardless, it's Monday. Thanksgiving is about two weeks away and we're blessed with the opportunity, as well as charged with the responsibility, to voice our choice for our next leaders.

That is a big deal. Please vote.


Saturday, November 3, 2012

Tortilla Española: Comfort Food, Spanish Style

My mother-in-law is a Spaniard. She is also an amazing cook. One of my first experiences with her cooking, and a dish in which I now take pride, is the national dish of Spain . . .

No, it's not paella . . .


Tortilla española. This simple, delicious staple of Spanish cuisine can be found on the menu of every restaurant in Spain, every tapas menu here in the States and in the belly of just about every Spaniard at least once a week.


It doesn't get much simpler . . .comfort food at its best. It starts with eggs and potatoes. But then the magic happens. And by magic, I mean all of the other ingredients you can add to change up the flavor, like onion, garlic and pepper (as seen above) or chorizo (Spanish sausage).

And, technically, it doesn't even have to be made with potato. You can use leftover rice or even polenta. It's easy, it's hearty, and it's all muy delicioso.

Serve it with a simple salad drizzled with good Spanish olive oil and a sprinkling of salt, a piece of rustic bread, a glass of rioja and you're good to go.

Here's one link for a recipe and here's another. 

Bon provecho!
 

Friday, November 2, 2012

Paris...Friday Photo Flashback

While most people associate November with Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving with home, we think of November as a time to hit the road and see the world.

For this first Friday Flashback, we go back to Paris, a city of love. I say "a" city of love and not "the" city of love because any city you spend with someone you love becomes a city of love.

We stayed in the 7th arrondissement, the area of the Eiffel Tower and Musee D'Orsay. Here's our first picture we took as a couple in Paris, taken by a stranger as we explored the neighborhood on our first night in the city.


As the blog continues, there will be many more pictures and tales from our travels here in the States and abroad. We are blessed to have seen all that we have. And Friday Flashbacks are a nice way to remember those blessings with a smile and a warm heart.

Thanks for joining us

Thursday, November 1, 2012

And so we begin . . .


November is a big month.
 
In addition to being the start of National Novel Writing Month, Write Non-Fiction NOW and National Blogging Month, it’s also a big month for me.

It’s the month I do a mini vacation (to Europe for the last three years) and it’s the month my sweet husband asked told me to marry him.

So it seems appropriate that I choose November 1st as the birthday of my new blog.
 
Plus, I promised my students that I would give this November writing challenge a try. And what kind of a teacher would I be to inspire my students to embark on a challenge that I was not willing to take myself?

And so we begin. Welcome!