Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Everyday's the Day

So ends another year and another year begins.
What have we done with our time?

What will we do with the time before us?

Many are all about resolutions and big change this time of year and many more are just the opposite sitting in defiance against the propositions. Personally it doesn't matter to me what time of year it is. Every day is the day.

New Year's has always been a rather curious occasion to me ever since I was a child. We would spend the late afternoon into the evening in great anticipation watching Dick Clark's New Years Rocking Eve and the Times Square Ball. Then at the stroke of midnight, my mother and sister and I would bang huge pots together on the porch in the freezing weather, if we managed to stay up that late. The more noise we made the better. The grand finale was calling our grandmother Mary on the telephone and saying "Happy New Year Nanny" into the phone as loud as we could. She would reply in like kind and then off to dream land until the dawn of a new year.

When we got older, my mother, sister and I would go out for dinner religiously every New Year's Eve. We would have a few friends join us at La Fortunata in Bayonne for their famous table-side ceasar salad. THAT was special. We loved it. I enjoyed those dinners more than words can express. Looking back, I don't know why we ever stopped our gatherings there. It was a great tradition. But that was a long time ago and times change. La Fortunata is no longer there and none of us even lives in Bayonne anymore - we're all spread out now so....out with the old and in with the new.
This year Jimmy and I are going out for dinner to a local (what else?) Italian restaurant and then we're coming home early to bring in the new year together on our humble little couch. After our journey out west and hectic Christmas, we can use a little home time.

Resolutions? Nah. Every single day is a new day to shine. What a waste to wait all that time to make changes in our lives that, well, should be made today.

What's wrong with today? Nothing that I can see.

What's wrong with tomorrow? No guarantee.

This much we've learned over the years. Time is fleeting. Years are flying by. We are getting older. So, LIVE while you're alive and okay, if you need a milestone to mark your changes then December 31st, 2008 at the stroke of midnight is as good a time as any.

I hope that you're planning on loving yourself more in 2009.

I hope that you're planning on being your most loyal companion.

I hope that you're learning to trust that voice on the inside of you that only wants the best for you. You know that one that says "I love you just the way you are, right where you are, right now, unconditionally - now move forward".
I hope that you're planning on giving more than you receive in 2009. The world needs you.

I hope that you're planning on taking more risks.

I hope that you're planning on stepping out in faith for the things that you've hoped and prayed for and grabbing those things with both hands.

I hope you're planning on living every single blessed minute of your life and not wasting a second thinking thoughts that are not of love.

I hope you're planning on having fun and laughing a lot and not taking yourself or anyone else for that matter, so seriously - even when things are serious.

I hope you're planning on planting, growing and reaping more of the virtues that this world is lacking. They're all on the inside of us placed there by grace - if we'd only share our time with one another.

Yes, yes, plan. Plan like your life depends on it. Plan like there are no obstacles or illnesses or time constraints or lack. Lack of ... hmmmm ... time, money, resources or abundance. You have all that you need. If you need more, create it.

Plan to have more fun.

Plan to be more conscious.

Plan to be more.

Plan to be.

Just plan and see what you can accomplish.

God Bless You and those you love with a Happy & Most Healthy New Year!

P.S. This was the first year - Christmas and soon to be New Year - that I celebrate without my little spirit in the sky, my Mango Yoti Yoshimangasheito. I plan on loving him forever.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Christmas, etc.

I neglected to post these pictures of St. Mary's Basilica in Phoenix. It was such a special place. It's important to see.
And, I almost forgot the next one too.

Remember the old confessionals? I call them old I guess because I don't see them very often any more. The don't build them like they used to. This one is ominous looking isn't it? Makes my knees shake just looking at it.
Flash Back - My First Confession

I can see the space in between Father O'Reilly's two front teeth behind the mesh grating that was supposed to protect my identity. Paaallleeeezze. If I can see him - he can see me!!! Besides, everyone saw me go in the confessional and everyone saw me come out. There would be no secrets. The jig was up and I had to tell the priest all my sins. I remember barely getting the words out. 'Bless me Father for I have sinned. This is my first confession. These are my sins. I fought with my sister, I didn't clean my room and once, I lied'. Gulp!

Father O'Reilly smiled and handed out the standard penance of five Hail Mary's and two Our Father's. Whew. Piece of cake. It would be a few years yet before I'd have to do hard time staying behind to dust pews and clean the convent. LOL!
Jim's parents Carmella and Jim Sr. are a lot of fun especially around Christmas time. (Jim's Dad looks a little like Santa in this picture - yeah, Mr. & Mrs. Kringle teeheehee).

For the past thirteen years Carmella has made a huge fish feast for the family on Christmas Eve and Jim Sr. hasn't missed a beat. On Christmas morning, he cooks a great prosciutto, egg, potato, bacon, sausage, toast, coffee and juice feast. He never cooks so this is special. I absolutely love the tradition. This year we had the added bonus of going to hear the men's choir at St. Lucy's Church in Newark. Jim's been threatening to sing with the choir and we think we saw his lips move once - but we're not sure. We thoroughly enjoyed midnight mass together. Who knows? Maybe a new family tradition is starting? As for the choir, I should've video taped some of it - but hey - it was late - we did have a little wine with the fish feast, I was lucky to get this shot with Jim's phone - the perspective is from the upstairs choir room. Pretty huh?

BTW, Jim's parents are still married - to each other. No really. They still live in the same house that Jimmy grew up in. I think they've been married for almost fifty years. That's incredible.

Then it was off to my Dad's for a little Christmas day celebration.

I don't remember laughing harder than when my brother Tony gave my Dad this jacket. My Dad absolutely loathed it! Check out the videos below. The lighting isn't that great, but they're hysterical.
Dad's Jacket Part I
Dad, you look so comfy in your new jacket. I bet as I type these words that jacket has already been returned and/or exchanged. Thank God for the video tape.
And, who is that guy sitting next to my husband? Oh yeah, brother-stunt-man Tony showed up with his new Madison dye-do! I'm not sure Tony, but I think we were thinking Madison dye-don't. Otherwise people might think you're under suspicion...not that there's anything wrong with that.
Which one is Toshie and which one is Buscie??

Okay, last video. Isn't it great making fun of your parents? Tony started it. Ha!

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Home Sweet Home

Obviously Cricket did not want us to leave. Look at that face. It says it all.

But we did leave. We left and one of the first places we stumbled upon in Phoenix, AZ was Saint Mary's Basilica. It was gorgeous, old and so filled with the Holy Spirit I didn't want to leave. We had only been on our journey for a few days, yet I needed this more than I knew at the time.

BTW, I have been supporting the Franciscan Friars for as long as I could remember, and Pope John Paul....what can I say about him? I loved him. This was such a co-incidence. Hmmmmm.

Jim and I were inside for only a few minutes when we realized the congregation was celebrating Advent of course, as well as the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

I took some pictures inside the Basilica because I could, but you're not supposed to. I just couldn't resist.

We then drove from Phoenix to Sedona, a pretty long drive. We were only in Sedona for half a day and one night and then onto Nevada. Personally, I would've liked to have stayed in Sedona for a lot longer, but it was not meant to be. When I posed on this rock for a few minutes and closed my eyes - tears came so fast - but I held them in. Not sure what that was all about.

Sedona is a beautiful place. While we were there, it was extremely cold though. I would've preferred a warmer climate but at these elevations (2000 - 6000 feet above sea level) you never know what you'll get. It's hard to believe that these rocks were once below sea level. They tell quite a story.

The rocks below are known as 'red rocks' and the West is full of them. They are spectacular. These were closer to Vegas, from Sedona a 6+ hour drive through the desert.

And of course, it hadn't snowed since the 70's - but it snowed while we were there. The temp barely got above 50 on most days. I never took my uggs off my feet or my winter coat off my back.

Vegas is a lonely place at Christmas time, especially when the economy is dragging it's feet. It was cold and lonely and empty for the most part. Most people are staying away from frivolous expenditures as they should. We gambled a very little bit, and I'm happy to say we were up and then we broke even and then we stopped gambling all together. It's fun to try and win - but to force the issue just leaves moths in your billfold. Not good.

Jim and I learned a lot on this trip. We were reminded that we love to see the world and travel together. We learned that not everything is as it seems. You sometimes need to pull back some layers to get the whole picture. If you don't, you might find out some things that you'd rather not know.

Like what? Like travelling so close to Christmas is not a good idea. Like our friends got stranded in Vegas for two more days due to the weather. We got out just in time. Like don't travel across the West in the back seat of a rented car...get your own.

And karma, watch out for her. She exists and she's keeping a list and checking it twice. If you're on the naughty list, keep an eye out....she's coming to get you.

Thankfully, we're home now, all unpacked and exhausted from a two day mad rush for a Christmas tree and presents for family and friends.
Our hope is that our family and friends will be blessed with good health and good love - after all without your health and love, nothing else matters. Merry Christmas and a Happy and Safe New Year!

Monday, December 8, 2008

Peace on earth . . .

...let it begin with us.

Is that too much to ask?

Friday, December 5, 2008

It's Christmas Time in the City

Last night, I really could've used my camera. Just as we were heading out the door and into Manhattan for the evening, I grabbed it and tried to turn it on. Nothing.

Christmas in New York and my camera battery is dead. It's charging now. ugggghhhhh!!!

Thankfully, I still had my cell, so some of these are once again from my phone while some are from the same event last year to fill in the blanks.

Our dear friends, Lee and Reid Spencer were back in town. (http://msn.foxsports.com/writer/archive?authorId=163). http://www.sportingnews.com/experts/reid-spencer/index.html

We met Lee at Silvercup Studios in Queens, NY when new to Nascar driver Clint Boyer had HBO's The Sopranos for a sponsor. Lee was there to cover the story.

We were there because my Dad was working on the Sopranos at the time and Jimmy is such a huge Nascar fan, Dad invited us. We met Reid at the very next Nascar race that we attended and we attend a lot of them. This was a few years ago already. We met and became fast friends.
The party last night is a yearly Christmas type event for Nascar. They have dinners and meetings. Tonight's their 'big' night. But last night was just a night out at a club in Manhattan with a guest list that consisted of media mixed in with drivers mixed in with, well, us.

Lee and Reid make sure to put us on the guest list in the event we can make it.

We will always make it Spencers. It is such a huge privilege to be invited to this party for the third year in a row. We danced and laughed and had a few libations.

Jimmy saw Clint Boyer, a few other drivers and his favorite Nascar sideline reporter besides Lee, Krista Voda. She gets honorable mention here because he teases me about her all the time but she's just been taken off the market. Krista showed us her engagement ring last night so, sorry Jim.
I even got to take a little something home. This bottle of silver patron was smuggled out of the club. I will not say by whom - but let's just say, we all agreed it absolutely could not stay there all alone on the table after we left.

The first bottle was consumed at the club by just about everyone. The Spencers received some serious VIP treatment and shared all of it.

We graciously benefited. Thanks Spencers for a great time. Next stop Sedona.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Get Back To Creation

Some people believe that God has a plan for our lives; a specific, detailed, pre-determined plan that we somehow have to get in line with in order to fulfill our purpose in this lifetime.

Some people believe that creation is holding a thought long enough in your head until it materializes from nothing into something. That creation is believing really, really hard that something exists, even though it doesn't.

As for God having a plan for our lives - He has given us free will. That in and of itself puts a monkey wrench into the best laid plans. Our will vs. His will? Sure He should win, but while we're here on earth - not so much.

So does that mean that we're all going to hell because our free will has taken us off course from God's divine and holy plan for our lives?

No. Not even close.

Creation and 'God's plan' are one in the same for humanity. 'God's plan' for our lives is that we realize we are one with Him in creation and in fulfilling our lives destiny. Our destiny is to create.

All's we need to do is get in line with what we want to create and create it.

Create what? Well, everything you see for one. We've been quite busy creating. Sometimes we take the credit and at other times we place the blame - but we're all responsible for the state of affairs on this planet, good and bad. All of us.

We live on an incredibly hospitable planet in a universe that is ever expanding with parallel universes and things the mind cannot even imagine, let alone comprehend.

We've been blessed with life and every opportunity to create whatsoever we want.

A life of creation is an incredibly joyful gift, a monumentally important responsibility.

What will we create then? God has given us back the blueprints of our lives and said "Here, go create a destiny for yourself and for those that you love".

How will we create the spaces we live in, the relationships, the communities? How will we overcome what we've created in stresses and illnesses and dis-ease and depression?
Perhaps some of us have lost sight of the joy of life due to our free will.

But, we can always change our minds.

God's plan for us is to rise to the occasion. To be light in a dark world. To be love in a loveless society. To create a life that is in line with divinity, grace and love.

Things do not pop into and out of creation unless someone orchestrates them. If you envision an improvement on the ever popular wheel, you had best get out your chisel and hammer or else the improvement will just stay a thought in your head.

Now, go get back to creation.

You are One of God's Greatest Gifts