Day 10: Fun!

Begin with the Prayer of Abandonment.

Today’s theme is “fun”!  (Don’t worry if you are on a tight budget … surprise can add a spark of fun to almost anything!)

As we were returning home from our annual Christmas trip to visit Craig’s mom, I thought about how much fun it had been to hang out with each other. The highlight (other than a virus that had me flat on my back for four days) was the “Downton Abbey Exhibit,” a spectacular collection of original costumes from the popular BBC series. Wedding gowns, dinner ensembles, and tiaras for days … All that was missing was the crumpets.

Having a “fun buddy” — a friend with whom you share a common interest, someone who makes you laugh and see the lighter side of life — can be good for a marriage if it helps you to return energized and better able to embrace your vocation.

Don’t overlook the potential fun you can be enjoying in marriage, too! Have fun and enjoy each other in all kinds of ways, flirty and playful and not the least bit serious. Dress up or down; express your artistic side with face paint or fresh strawberries and cream; take a relaxing bubble bath or indulge in a sensual massage. If actual sex is, for whatever reason, not in the cards . . . it’s still important to connect, physically as well as emotionally. Snuggle up or neck on the couch after the kids are in bed.That’s good for marriage! Don’t forget to be each other’s favorite playmate(even during Lent)!

What are you going to do for fun today? And don’t forget … TOMORROW is Family Fun Day!


The Liebster Award — thanks C.M. Crabtree!

liebsterAfter taking up blogging again (after a two-year hiatus), I was delighted to hear from a new reader, C.M.Crabtree, who said she was nominating me for “The Liebster Award” for bloggers who have less than 200 followers.

The way it’s set up, it feels a bit like a meme, but still it’s a nice way to connect with some BlogHer writers and others I’ve encountered in my “31 Days to De-Stress Your Life” project. (If you happen to have more than 200 followers, chalk it up to my enthusiasm for your writing, rather than my lack of technical savvy.)

So here goes. I am nominating for the Liebster Award the following four bloggers:

4 Mothers

A Lovely Life Indeed

My Purple Dreams: 365 Days of Giving Thanks

Bee Home Soon

And here are my answers to Ms. Crabtree’s questions (which are the same I’d like my nominees to take):

1. What is your favorite city in the world? So far, Rome. But I haven’t been to Jerusalem or Sydney yet.

2. What is your favorite thing to do in the morning? Sleep in after a night of watching old movies.

3. If you could spend the day with one person (deceased), who would it be and why? Teresa of Avila. I’d love to kick back with a good bottle of wine and a plate of tapas.

4. What would you do for a living if money wasn’t an issue? Anything that would let me travel to the countries I haven’t been to yet.

5. If you could change one thing about the world, what would it be? Put God in the White House (or at least let him take over for Jay Leno). The rest of the problems would take care of themselves.

6. If you had to choose, would you prefer the white-picket-fence life or absolute success at your dream job? I do like picket fences … could I work from home at my dream job?

7. If you could go back in time at any point during your life, would you change anything and if so, what? I’d tell myself to lighten up. Faith should draw people together, not divide them.

8. What is your favorite TV show or movie? Enjoying “Downton Abbey.”

9. What is your favorite book? A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson. It’ll put a smile on my face any day.

10. What is your favorite quote? Some luck lies not in getting what you thought you wanted, but in wanting what you have. Which, once you have it, you might be smart enough to find it is what you would have wanted all along, had you only known. Garrison Keillor, “Lake Woebegon Days.”

31 Days to De-Stressed Living: Day 5 – Celebrate Your Friendships

Image Almost every December on the third Sunday of Advent, I take out this special cake plate and make my family’s favorite chocolate pound cake. It’s time for Rose Sunday Tea (find the recipe here). Friends gather to sip tea laced with brandy, eat cake, and catch up with one another’s lives . . . and for a few hours, all the Christmas craziness melts away, leaving us de-stressed and ready to face life again.

Like most working moms, I find it tough to fit in everything I need to do to get ready for Christmas, and even this year I had to postpone this ritual a few weeks when a snowstorm extended a business trip unexpectedly. But the Downton Abbey premiere presents the perfect opportunity for a “do-over,” and my former Ascension colleagues have assured me that they are on their way. So today, I am baking.

As much as I love my husband (and children) — and I do — I’ve learned that I have more to offer them when I don’t lean on him too heavily. It simply isn’t fair to expect one person in your life to meet your every need. That’s what girlfriends are for. They have experienced the same milestones and many of the same challenges, and can usually add some much-needed perspective, as well as a few laughs.

Of course, having moved so many times over the years, many of the women I’ve come to love and admire most don’t live close enough to come for tea, so necessity becomes the mother of invention. I drive a few extra hours on business trips, send comfort boxes, and wine-and-Skype when I really need a fix.

What do you do, to get the time you need with your “girls”?

31 Days to De-stressed Living: Days 1-4

I’ve hNaBloPoMo_011614_465x287_pressure_1eard that it takes 30 days to make a habit. Thirty days of doing the same thing, every day (or, if you’re trying to kick a habit, thirty days of not doing something).

It’s like Lent, but shorter.

My blogging theme for January, thanks to BlogHer’s NaBloPoMo, will be “Stress” (whenever I’m not writing about books or road trips). No sweat — I’m an expert on stress. But then, who wants to read someone rant about all the stressors in her life for an extended period of time?

monster momNobody, that’s who. And so …

January will be about 30 ways to BEAT the stressors in your life. A kind of 30 day challenge. (Feel free to chime in.)

And so, it being January 4th and all, without further ado I give you FOUR of my favorite ways to combat stress. Ready?

January 1: Restoring order. Having been on the road for 10 days, I could feel the stress coming out my ears. So, I started unpacking. Sent the boys into the basement to work on laundry. Daughter up the stairs to put away toiletries. Me, I tackled the kitchen, where I could sneak a truffle and pour myself a glass of wine. Then I went to bed with a migraine. (Okay, these home remedies don’t always work.) But the next day, I felt MUCH better!

January 2: Don’t pressure others, either. One of my children has reached the “moody” stage that is part-and-parcel of adolescent angst. The other day I discovered that sometimes, if I don’t bug them relentlessly about why they are moody, the kind of self-adjust. Good to know.

January 3: Cook something special. When we married, I promised my husband that if he watched only two football games a year, I would make sure he celebrated in style. This year I made crab-stuffed mushrooms, fried calamari, and sausage squares (sausage and peppers stuffed in little wonton wrappers). Then key lime pie. Beer for him, something fruity for me. Yum.

January 4: Arrange to see a friend. Tomorrow I’m going to celebrate “Rose Sunday” a little late. In honor of the “Downton Abbey” premiere, I’m having tea with a few friends from Ascension Press (my former workplace). Just the thought of a little girl time … It’s positively relaxing!

What do YOU do to de-stress?

Love at the Abbey (The Love Project, Day 6)

downton abbey3This evening I’m going to hold an open house to celebrate the season premiere of “Downton Abbey,” a period drama on PBS that has become “appointment TV” at our house (along with “Chopped”). This season they are adding Shirley MacLaine as Lord Crawley’s American mother-in-law. While I doubt her performance will hold a candle to that of the indominatable Maggie Smith, I’m tuning in eager to catch up on the stories that began to unfold in the previous season. Will Matthew and Mary indeed find wedded bliss at last? Will Bates be spared a lifetime incarcerated for a murder he did not commit? Will the Dowager Countess at last slap her nemesis, Mrs. Crawley? Will Miss Daisy at last get a little R-E-S-P-E-C-T, and attain the elevated rank of assistant cook (from scullery maid)?

Downton Abbey fascinates me on several levels, not only because of the rich set and lovely period costumes, but because the relationships between the characters span the wide range of authentic human connections, with all their nobility and humanity — strengths and weaknesses alike. Time and again, love is depicted not as a flash of passion, but the slow and steady burn that emanates from sincere friendship. After all, the race for heaven is a marathon, not a sprint.

Here’s the trailer:

Today’s Love in Action: Make yourself a cup of tea and join me — if only in spirit — for the season premiere on PBS at 9:00 EST.