Am I What My Parents Expected?

We spent the afternoon celebrating my Dad’s birthday yesterday and while my husband and I grilled dinner and we all enjoyed a few beers, I thought to myself; Is that what my Dad pictured when they brought their little girl home from the hospital?

The Philadelphia Flyers advanced to their second series in the playoffs and as we yelled and threw ourselves out of our chairs with rants aimed at the TV, I couldn’t help but think about his expectations. Did he intend to have a sports-loving daughter, who can yell passionately (and at times like a sailor) at hockey players that will never be listening? Did he think about having weekly hangouts with her at the local brewery, where they’d hang out like pals and try the new nitro on tap?

Probably not.

But I’ve always been a Daddy’s girl and this was bound to happen. Having profound love and respect for my parents, as well as my heritage, I think I’ve adapted so many things from my Mom and my Dad. I just think no one expected the outcome to be such a 50/50 split. I go to tea rooms with my Mom and eat finger sandwiches but ended up marrying a man that I’ve taught the fundamentals of sports to. I know it’s trendy and annoying to hear a girl say they are a “guy’s girl” or “one of the boys”. I used to say that. I don’t know what I am now, except that I’m Shannon. I love sports, beer and rock as much as (some times more than) any guys I know. I also love cheesy romance books or movies.

Sometimes being a mix of what society considers being boyish and girlish can be frustrating though. I’ll never look like the girls who look like they stepped out of a salon or a Mac store because I’ll always be a little rough around the edges. 
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Weekly Photo Challenge: Together

Me and you

And you and me

No matter how they toss the dice, it has to be

The only one for me is you, and you for me

So happy together
-The Turtles

As I scrolled through the trusty photo files, I found literally hundreds of self-shot pictures of my husband and I together. Luckily for you, I’ve only included four.

In some you can see the frustration of trying to get a camera to work from arm’s length or that we forgot to remove the zoom before taking a self-portrait. Others I can tell my husband is getting really annoyed that I’m making him stop and take more of these. Luckily in most of the shots we look really happy. I love them all because if we had the same smile all the time, all we’d be looking at is the background.

Not very flattering, but our fingers were too frozen to take pictures and it was a bitter ferry ride to Ellis Island.

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What Did You Want to Be When You Were Five?

The beginning of my short ballet career.

Being five was great.  Everything in the world was possible and no one laughed at your dreams, well, maybe a little but hopefully more of a giggle than a snide snicker.  I wanted to be a hairdresser and also a ballerina.  I also wanted six kids, three boys and three girls and have a house like the Brady Bunch.  Oddly enough, we eventually moved into a neighborhood with Brady Bunch style ranch houses that I giggle at whenever I see them.

My poor Mom used to let me play with her hair relentlessly and I did so in a tutu.  My Gram got me a pink tutu for Christmas when I was three and I crammed my skinny but tall figure into that thing for years until the seams finally prevented me from donning the garb.  It might have been life’s way of saying, “give up kid, you’re clearly too clumsy to be a ballerina, time to pack this thing away”.  I was probably ten.  The netting was so incredibly scratchy and nothing about this outfit was soft or comfortable like the ones I see little girls wear today.  I’m not bitter, I’m just saying I might have succeeded in a more comfortable tutu.  No?  Did I stretch the excuse too far?

I did take ballet when I was about seven.  It lasted for a few months or however long a standard class session is.  It was really hard for me because I’m uncoordinated and I had my Dad’s rhythm.  I felt like it would be so easy, after all, I’d already mastered all the dance moves from Dirty Dancing in my living room.  How hard could a few little ballerina moves be?  Apparently hard; for me anyway.  The class was tied in with tap dancing and that seemed like a plausible career too because I’d seen Gregory Hines do it on Sesame Street and it looked easy.  The only place that wasn’t carpeted in our house was our tiny 10×10 kitchen and since you can’t wear your tap shoes on concrete (or so I was told) so I didn’t get much practice time outside either.

I’m not too sure why I never pursued hairstyling except that maybe doing my own hair didn’t turn out too well and that phase just died out.  I did dye my own hair and sometimes chop at it during my teenage years, but that was because I couldn’t afford to get it done anywhere but my bathroom.  My Mom never stopped me from playing with her hair though because she said it felt nice and I still dance in front of the TV to be goofy.  I do more of a high kick strut with a fake cane and top hat as I pass through the living room now.  My husband will usually give me a pity snicker and wait for me to move but my parents really get a kick out of it when I visit.  It seems the living room will always be my grand stage because I’m embarrassed to dance anywhere else; except at weddings after a few Jameson and cranberries.  And no, I don’t want to see the video of it afterwards, even if I look like I have full confidence; that is temporary.

What did you want to be?

Simple Things That Make Me Happy

I feel like my posts tend to alternate between longing (teetering on whiney) and dorky ideas.  I don’t do this on purpose, but maybe writing down things that bother me are effective enough that the following day I can look past them, at least temporarily, to see the beauty and pleasure in other things.

I sat here smiling as my pug and my husband snore next to me; (I mean, no honey, you don’t snore). I thought about how lucky I am to find joy in simple things. In no particular order, these are things that make me happy.  I welcome what simple things make you happy; there is always room to add to the list.

  • Tea, in a teacup with saucer and perfectly sweetened.  On a regular day, I drink tea unsweetened at work, just throwing a tea bag into the cleanest mug I have within reach.  (It just feels that way, don’t worry, I wash them.)  I’ve tried to perfect a perfect pot of tea; I can’t seem to do it like my Mom does, and so I make mine by the cup.  I go in phases with what type I’m in the mood for and lately rooibos wins.  Still, I wish I gave myself a moment to sit down and absorb just a moment of sunlight and a few minutes to drink tea each morning.  At the very least, I take a moment to think about the little sayings on my tea bags.  I started to save them at my desk because they are generally uplifting and every corporate cubicle can use random positivity.  Geez, now I sound like a hoarding Pollyanna.
  • Hot buttered toast and dipping it in hot chocolate.  Mmm.  I think I’m hungry.  Maybe I’m missing my Mom.  She’d make this for me when I was little, because her Mom did the same.  It came up in conversation before she passed that my Great-Grandmom used to get this when she was a kid from her Mom too.  I suppose it’s a traditional treat then.  The hot chocolate must be hot and so must the bread, and it should be white bread.  If you’re going to do this, you might as well go all out and use the soft white bread.  One day without wheat bread won’t kill you, but it might be the real butter that I suggest you use.  I know I’ve missed the boat to suggest this part, but it is particularly good on a colder morning. We still have some of these left.

Early morning. Though I have my favorites, Oscar prefers oatmeal.

  • Hanging clothes on the line.  Laundry chores are annoying but necessary.  I think this makes me happy because it has to be a beautiful day for this chore to be feasible, and that itself is a reason to smile. There is just something calming about pinning sheets up in a gentle breeze on a warm and sunny day.  Just don’t step in dog poo while you trek through the yard, it certainly takes away from the calming experience. Continue reading

I Thought I Had It All Figured Out

There I was, not so long ago; no, it was only last week.  It feels like forever only because I was so sure then. I had it all figured out; then, gut instincts kicked in.  The direction I was about to go, all of a sudden didn’t feel right.  Maybe it’s not the direction, as much as the way I intended to get to the destination.  If opportunities sound too good to be true, they probably are.  So now what?  How can I encapsulate all the directions I want to take my life?  Can we have it all?

Happiness comes down to knowing what is most important and being grateful for what you have, while not settling for what you don’t.  The important part is getting to the place where all these feelings collide and feel real.

There is so much more to offer than working 40+ hours per week and paying the bills for things that just keep us mundane.  We have covered that in the past, no need to rehash that. How we end up and what we give up in order to live life to the fullest is interesting.  What I’m willing to give up seems insane to some people. We are not all made to live the same life, though I want elements of normalcy in the mix.  I don’t feel troubled about life as much as hopeful and excited to see what we can make of it.  I say “we” because it’s not just about me, it’s about my best friend and husband too; the husband is also my best friend so that makes life a little less complicated.

“They” think I’m crazy to give up cable.  I say it’s crazy to spend hours in front of the TV watching other people live.  I’m willing to work hard for the type of life I want, I just don’t know what it should all consist of yet; writer, historian, mother, student, broadcaster, traveller?  It is very easy to say I can do it all, harder to do.

Time will either tell or speed by; in the meantime choices will need to be made and I hope a little divine intervention can help my mind along. I don’t doubt I will make something of myself, though I am anxious. I just need a little more direction than I ever expected or wanted to admit.

Irish Sheep

I always just liked my photography the way it was. Not the fact that it was simple and mostly luck, but I might have felt it was cheating to alter it in any way. That being said, I had a Groupon for a large canvas that I needed to order and I need a nice piece for my new home office. I played around with an image I found that just felt so calming to me. It is of sheep.

This picture was captured while my husband drove us from the tip of Northern Ireland to Dublin, at the very end of our last trip there. We were desperately trying to beat the huge snow storm we had dodged our entire trip and this was taken just before we lost our luck at outrunning it. There is something calming about sheep; except the sheep that have the red blotches; this just seems morbid to me. I can deal with splotches of green or blue on their coats for farmer identification, but the first few times I saw splotches of red on a sheep my first reaction was
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Weekly Photo Challenge: Sun

I realize the sun is supposed to set on Galway Bay in Ireland, but I can guarantee that these are early morning shots as we awoke in Salthill, Galway and headed north toward Connemara. Though I thought these might be terrible at the time, capturing the sun this way, I’ve grown to love these because I can almost feel how bright and crisp that morning felt as I revisit these.  The road was icy and the glare was strong, but it was tough to complain after a full Irish breakfast and a long ride to Westport ahead of us.

I love a reason to post about Ireland.

 

Hockey and Sweeping; Two Completely Separate Topics

That was close.  Technically I skipped two calendar days of posting, but it is still Thursday night to me, ha ha!  I, as always, have old fashioned excuses that consist of classics like “disheartened Philadelphia Fan Syndrome” and “I helped with yard work so I’m tired” disease.  If you don’t want to hear my sports rant, skip to paragraph three.

Wednesday night was just pathetic, in every sort of way.  From my recent re-blogged post, you know that as a Philadelphia fan, “we” as fans are a part of the team; except when “we” are losing.  It instantly turns to “they” with sailor-like language and rampant anger.  I start to exclaim things that I normally wouldn’t say in the presence of my Dad.  After the loss, “we” returns in the form of continued anger, hostile questioning of play and heartbreak with fellow players, I mean, fans.

The Philadelphia Flyers are in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and Wednesday night, I mean last night, was Game 4, the mother of all games; when your team is about to sweep anyway.  Now you get my title, the Flyers were up 3-0 in the series and only needed to win this game to take “us” to the next round.  There we were, going to put it to Sidney Crosby (I will omit the name calling I’d like to use) and take the series at home from the Penguins; there we were, losing 10-3.  In hockey.  High scores like this are ridiculous.  This whole series has been back to back amazing shots on goal and poor goal tending.  That night, there was not so much scoring on our end and just terrible goal tending.  If any actual Flyer players read this…venture back to my Pep talk post I did on Tuesday and get out there with some enthusiasm and take this home tomorrow or “we” will be extremely upset.  So after the game, my house was silent and I couldn’t stop shaking my head back in forth in disgust to steadily keep any blogging thoughts in my head.  Terrible.  But tomorrow is a new day and Game 5.

Tonight I helped my husband in the yard. I’m glad to because it’s my house too and I do enjoy helping him.  It also makes eating some ice cream on a beautiful spring evening feel justified.  Continue reading

Pep Talk to Myself

I know I’ve hinted at this before, but life is going to change for me (for us) in two months.  It’s the whole “giving up security and chasing dreams” thing.  At this point, with my husband by my side, it has been decided and I’m going to take a leap.  I’m luckily enough to have the support of family, friends and fellow dreamers/bloggers to do this, even if my head tells me I’m slightly crazy.  (Thank you.)

I can’t help but notice that now that I’ve mentally made a decision, the rest of my body needs to follow along; and it’s not too eager yet.  The next phase of my life will be very challenging, though the hardest part will be regaining and maintaining willpower that I’ve had in years past.  I have slacked for some time now and I’ve done what I wanted, when I wanted (outside of the hours of 8am to 5pm that is).  I’m not the Superwoman I once was.  I’m lazier and my body, energy and wallet suffer because of it.  Soon there won’t be room for gluttonous activity, at least not on a daily basis.

I had major surgery last March and it physically put me out of commission for several months.  I’m not sure I’ve been back to myself since before that happened.  There’s absolutely no reason to let this continue.  I’m at that turning point that I usually question in other people; “How did they end up there? What happened?”

Goals to get Shannon back:

  • Try harder at everything; AKA stop skating by.
  • Put down things I don’t need to purchase.
  • Eat less and eat better.  Stop eating what makes you feel ill and don’t forget your vitamins.
  • Show more love to others by loving, not by buying things.
  • Be a better friend.
  • Sit up tall, get to sleep earlier and stop telling yourself you’re tired.
  • Have faith that no matter what happens, it’ll work out.

No jokes today kids, just the sad reality that if I want things to change, I have to make changes. I like to think that if I publicly commit myself to something, it might be easier to succeed.  Sometimes honesty outplays humor and this is all I’ve got to give during an evening of contemplation.

I have this quote in my “Ultimate Purpose” page, and it’s time to live by it:

“To change your life: Start immediately, do it flamboyantly, no exceptions.” ― William Jones

Your Guide to Grocery Shopping

My husband and I met at the grocery market after we were both done work and did some shopping together.  This isn’t normal practice, but it worked out since we had to run an errand in the same shopping center.  With an extra hand, I was able to look around and absorb what a ridiculous chore that food shopping is.  Is there ever a convenient time to go food shopping?  It is likely my least favorite chore and there isn’t much you can do to avoid the hassles.

Here is a rundown of what it takes to be an efficient grocery shopper.

  1. Some make a list or cut coupons.
    1. This could be a chore on its own.  Dreaded meal planning or in depth scan of the fridge, so you aren’t held accountable later when you’re out of something.
    2. Don’t forget to bring your own bags.  Even if you don’t want to be “green”, the plastic ones are getting thinner and cheaper.  (One too many jars of spaghetti sauce in your bag then causes disastrous mess in your driveway.)
  2. Seek out food like a hunter.  Even with signs, it feels like a scavenger hunt most times.
  3. Figure out what you can afford.
    1. Scan options and ask yourself why there are twenty-five kinds of jelly or tea to choose from.
    2. Try to decide what is actually the least detrimental to your health and affordable.
  4. Fill your basket.
    1. Enter all of Grandmom’s rules about handling your food; don’t crush your bread or pin your bananas against any boxes.  Keep your cold stuff together and eggs on top.  Bag meat products that may leak as well as your vegetables to keep loose items together.
  5. Don’t forget to check expiration dates.
  6. Pull a ticket and wait in line for the deli counter.
    1. The deli people are usually the most unhappy workers at a supermarket.  Play a fun game and try to guess what the people in front of you order.  Play with your phone if you’re still waiting after five minutes.  Don’t expect anyone but you to be happy that you’ve found alternate amusement.
    2. When you hit the lottery and your time to order meat and cheese has been announced, spout your selections quickly like it’s the last thing you get to say on earth, there is no time to stumble or make last minute decisions now. Continue reading