Tuesday, December 27, 2011

On the Edge

Visit my other blog jackandjilly.org to read my new post On the Edge

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Christmas Eve: A Tribute to Nastalgia

Christmas Eve is and has always been a special day for me.  I suppose everyone feels the same in some way.  As a child it held this sort of magical feel to it...like a denseness in the air that you could almost breathe in.  I've been a little disappointed in my adult years at how ordinary of a day Christmas Eve has become.  My sister once told me that once I had children of my own it would become magical again. But no matter how dull it may feel for whatever reason, the memories of Christmases past keep it alive for me...atleast until those fantom children arrive at some point in my life (I do hope).  Every year on Christmas Eve, my parents would load us kids up into the car and we would head to my grandparent's house. There would be food, music and general merriment.  My mom or my aunt Judy would usually lead some sort of activity-slash-story for the young kids. And then there was the passing out of the presents. The announcement of this ritual always brought shouts of excitement from the kids.  The little ones would jump up and run to the tree, and as my grandmother would direct them in which present went to whom, they delivered them like excited little elves buzzing with joy.  And you couldn't open them up any old time you wished. Oh no. You had to go in procession of age. We started with the oldest children (also known as "The Four Girls", to which elitest group I belonged),  and worked our way down. Then came the adults. With everyone looking on, you would open your gifts, announce who it was from, and then hold it up for everyone to see.  You would either then look at the gift giver and give an acknowledgement of thanks, or go give a hug in gratitude. After all the gifts had been opened and songs had been sung, families began to disperse to their respective households for the night.  We always tended to be the first to arrive and the last to leave (I attribute that to my mother, who is always setting up and cleaning up for every event I think I've ever been to in my whole life. Just goes to show how service oriented she is).  On the ride home, my dad would always take the back roads and try to find streets with light-adorned houses for us to look at. I can remember watching out of the window, wondering if I might catch a glimps of the silhouette of Santa and his reindeer against the moonlit sky. When we arrived home, it was pretty quick to bed because by then it was usually far past our bedtime.  My sister and I would go into our room that we shared and compare our gifts and talk about what Santa might bring in the morning. I can still feel the warm feeling of the evening as I drifted off to sleep.
We no longer hold our Smith family get-together on Christmas Eve, mainly because we all grew up. Grandchildren started to marry and have children of their own. We do still have our gathering every year, however, usually sometime on the weekend leading up to Christmas. Last night, as we all hung out together and ate food and sang songs, I had a flood of nostalgia wash over me.  It was never about the presents. For me, it was always about the love that we all shared for each other as we celebrated the birth of the One who made it possible for us to be together forever. I will be forever grateful for the precious gift that is Jesus Christ, and that I have a family that still enjoys being together. Merry Christmas!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Musical Musings

I love music. Like speaks to my heart and calms my soul kind of love. Interesting thing though...some days, i literally can't stand for anything except piano music. With maybe some strings thrown in. If I even hear a voice it grates my nerves. Now what sense does that make? I have a theory. Piano has always made me feel grounded. Like everything is right with the world. I suppose that's why I stuck with the lessons all those years. And why to this day, when my soul feels in turmoil, putting my hands on those keys instantly melts my sorrow away. My only wish is that I played more, and that I was better than I am. Maybe I should work on that.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Mrs. Walker

Here I sit today, trying to focus on my tasks at hand, engaged in a tug-of-war between my daydreaming mind and what needs to be done. I tend to get frustrated a little on days like this...its sunny outside, somewhat warm (and lets face it, after the rain and ugliness of the past two days, who isn't distracted by that?) and I'm stuck at a desk with a to-do list. And then in walks Mrs. Walker. She's one of my oldest residents and by far the most colorful character in the place. I love her. She calls the office every couple of days just to say hi to me or ask if I have any candy canes for her. Today she walked in bearing gifts in the form of chocolate and a bribe to try and get me to come help her clean 10 pounds of chitlins she just bought. True story. A few weeks ago when I informed her we were doing our annual apartment inspections she called to let me know she just put 3 holes in the wall so we would have something to be worried about in her unit. Of course she was joking, but after we left she called me to let me know we had forgotten to fold her laundry while we were there. Mrs. Walker brightens my day. Sometimes she makes a bad day turn around when she comes in just to chat for a few minutes and make me feel better. I'm so grateful for wonderful,different, and even eccentric people. They make the world a much more interesting place to be.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Just Jill

There are days where I sit in whatever little space I happen to be in, listening to musical favorites such as Ray LaMontagne or Citizen Cope or my recent love Brett Dennen.  I begin to feel so at peace with myself that I start to suspect I'm an imposter. Like I have this stuck-in-overdrive need to define myself. And for what? So I can fit into some kind of category neatly filed away in the "walks of life" folder? I personally feel that my need to do this is out of a deep concern that I'm normal, boring, unoriginal. Which is ironic only because I spend the other half of my energy worrying that in fact I may just be abnormal afterall. Sometimes its exhausting living in a jilly world. I remember this one time my sister filled out some stupid facebook or email survey about me (that we all used to do in the beginning...don't act like you didn't), and upon being asked to describe me using terms such as "sporty, classy, etc" she instead said: she's just jill. I know, I remember the oddest things. But that's besides the point. Maybe I don't need a label or a category to belong in...i mean who really wants that anyway? I guess its that part of ourselves that still exists in 14-year old land where all we want in life is to fit somewhere. Maybe I'm okay with just being jill. I like jill, she's pretty cool...even with all of the unpredictability. Does that make me a bad person?

Saturday, December 3, 2011

So, I guess i'm human....

It can be a humbling (and even embarrassing) experience when we suddenly realize we have limits we didn't used to have. I've seen this type of thing happen with people such as my grandparents or even my own immediate family, but I guess I forgot that it can happen to me too. All I can tell you is I don't like it. At all. For the past little while I've been trying to define my own new limits as my ability to handle high stress has gone way down (hard to admit...i used to thrive amidst stress, especially at work). I say that like I have control of those limits, but I don't really. Not yet anyway. It's more like bumping into a brick wall head first and then realizing it exists. Mainly I spend most of my energy focused on the confines of my emotional and mental state. However this week I went crashing into a physical boundary that, quite frankly, upset me. My brother and I moved all of our big furniture that warranted a U-haul. Luckily we don't have much. Let me give you a little bit of back story....
I've always prided myself a little on my physical strength. Thanks to my dad, I inherited an abnormal amount of muscle for a girl and if you gripped my bicep you would think I lifted weights on the regular even when I don't. I could lift very heavy things without breaking a sweat. For the past year, I've been experiencing a great deal of physical pain...mostly joint and nerve pain. I've become progressively weaker and I'm not thrilled. Last night when we were trying to move stuff...I knew it was gonna be really hard for me. We lifted my brother's dresser and I thought my whole arm was gonna come off. We set it down and he went to try to call his buddies and see if someone could come help him. By the time he came back into the room, I was already in cry mode. We picked the dresser up and then he said, "Are you crying?" yes, yes i was. Why? because I was frustrated at how weak I had become. Frustrated at the pain that hit my joints immediately when I tried to lift something heavy. And I was embarrassed because I couldn't lift a stupid dresser with my brother. He of course told me I was being silly and shouldn't beat myself up over it. Limits...yeah...not a fan. I guess i'm human after all....