Lessons Learned: Colder than a Witch’s…

As the saying goes…Brrrrr! The old Farmer’s Almanac predicted the last part of December was going to be very cold for the Midwest and they were right. This morning the temperature outside was minus (-)19.8 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s even cold for January!

On Saturday, we had unusually warm weather after a subzero blast the week before. With the temperature being in the mid-forties, we had to take advantage of it. Mike and I walked the dike in Hudson which is usually too cold to walk in the winter because of the wind coming off the river. Later that night, we heard the winds come in, bringing in the predicted arctic blast. From Sunday to Saturday, the temperature dropped 55 degrees. Our nice, warm weather didn’t last. I think the most severe change in weather I’ve seen in Minnesota is 80 degrees. One winter we had a few days when the temperature was in the 70’s (extremely rare). Of course, the temperature plummeted afterwards which caused the 80-degree difference.

For those of you who haven’t been to the Midwest, you can visit the Minus Five Ice Bar (two are located in Las Vegas) where the temperature is kept at -5 degrees. Everything in the bar is made of ice. If you have a chance, go there. Willow and I did just to see what it was like. The temperature is cold but to feel the effects of winter, you need to add an occasional ten to twenty miles per hour gust of wind. Then you’ll know what cold is like.

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Mike keeps asking when we’re going to become snowbirds and head south for the winter. Sometimes I’m right there with him. Let’s pack up and take off. But not yet. This year, I’m viewing winter in a different light. I know it’s cold and I will get tired of it, but there’s something about surviving frigid weather that’s like wearing a medal. And I must admit, hot flashes make a difference. As many have stated, “you can always add layers when you’re cold, but when you’re hot, there’s not much you can do.”

New Year’s Eve will continue to be cold here in the Midwest (yes, subzero temps), which isn’t the best scenario when partying. I’m thinking we’ll celebrate the coming year on the quieter side. I’ll be happy to stay inside with a nice fire in the fireplace, some wine, and time with my hubby.

Have a safe, warm, and happy New Year’s Eve and Day!


Lessons Learned: An Extension of Family

This is Christmas week and a time for celebration and being with family. This blog is dedicated to those who don’t have a place to go or who can’t be with family.

I’ve spent the Christmas season alone and I know it’s not fun. The majority of time, I’ve been able to spend it with family. When I haven’t been able to…I’ve invited people to my house, and I’ve gone to other houses for dinner and celebration. When I lived in Colorado, a lot of us didn’t have relatives around so we made our own family.

For those of you who can’t spend Christmas with loved ones, I’m hoping that you can spend time with friends, co-workers, church members, or community members. If someone invites you to their house…go. Don’t feel like you’re imposing. You’ll have a wonderful time. If you know someone who doesn’t have anyone to celebrate the season with, invite them over. Make them feel welcome.

One person who is dear to my heart will not be celebrating Christmas at home. He is in the military and currently deployed. I know that there are many others in the military who are stationed overseas or deployed. They too miss their husbands, wives, children, and or parents. My wish is that they can celebrate the season together by forming their own extension of family. I know it’s really tough on them, being away, just like it’s tough for those at home. My heart extends to you. I hope you have a Merry Christmas.

And for you, my son….I miss you a ton. Be safe. I love you.

Lessons Learned: Indulgence

The act of indulging is to yield to the desire of or to gratify. The season brings out plenty of indulgence as we buy presents, go out to eat, have parties, and drink more than usual. I keep saying that I’m going to behave, but I find myself overindulging in all of the above.

Buying presents is the fun one. I like to give gifts that are fun, meaningful, or needed. Gifts don’t have to be expensive, just well thought out. If I do spend more than what I have budgeted for, it’s because I know the person will appreciate or need the item.

Eating is the worse. I always say that I’m going to watch what I eat during the holidays. Temptation usually wins with all the potlucks at work, going out to eat, and the parties. It’s fun tasting different foods or sampling favorites. I used to bake a ton of Christmas cookies when my kids were little, but now I’m afraid to have all those goodies in the house. My favorites are rosettes. I haven’t had one of those cookies in eons. I may have to make them again next year when my grandson is older. I just know that he’ll like them.

Drinking can be a hit or a miss. I like drinking wine and beer, but I’m not a party animal so it’s not often when I indulge. This year was a “hit.” I’m not sure what possessed me to drink an entire bottle of wine Saturday night at our neighborhood progressive party, but I had a lot of fun doing it. Our annual party involves hopping to three different houses for the evening. The first two have appetizers and the last house has desserts. (See above with eating being the worse indulgence.) Luckily, I don’t have many nights where I indulge in drinking. I’m not a big fan of hangovers.

Indulging can be fun. The trick is to do it in moderation. Enjoy some of the food that you like to eat, enjoy buying the gifts for those on your list, and have a little fun partying. Most of all, indulge your heart.

Happy Holidays!

Lessons Learned: A Gift

A gift for Christmas should be clever, personal, and or fulfilling.
A gift should create a laugh, a happy surprise, or a tear of joy.
A gift should be a memory that lasts throughout the years.
A gift is time well spent with those you love.

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Lessons Learned: Knowing When to Say Good-bye

At the end of last week’s blog, I mentioned “Aunt” Harriet who passed away that morning at the age of 87. She wasn’t my real aunt but close to it. She was a single career woman, a rarity back in the day, who took care of her mother and travelled. She had a sense of humor, was smart, and knew when to say good-bye.

A few days before she passed away, she had told her niece that she wasn’t feeling well and her shoulders hurt. Nancy took her to the doctor’s office and soon after she had a heart attack. They admitted her into the hospital. She needed a stent put in. One doctor said it was too risky and another doctor agreed to do it. While in surgery, she went into cardiac arrest. They had her on life support. Next step was a pacemaker.

After surgery, Harriet was alert and understood what was going on. She did not want the pacemaker. She wanted to “go.” The doctors kept questioning her decision as they knew she would survive if the pacemaker was inserted. Harriet wanted none of it. At 87-years-old, she knew it was her time to say good-bye. She wanted off life support. And, she was impatient because it was taking too long to die. Nancy had to explain that it wasn’t just pulling the plug. Even when she was off all machines, Harriet wanted Nancy to shoot her. Of course, Nancy explained that she couldn’t do that to her. She died the next morning.

I had cried when I heard Nancy say that they were taking her off life support. I cried knowing I’d have to tell my mom that another person close to her was dying. But when I went to see her, to say good-bye, my tears turned into smiles. I saw her determination and bravery. She knew what she wanted. I could only guess that she didn’t want to end up in a nursing home or grow so old that she had no quality of life. I have great admiration for someone knowing when to call it quits. She had a great life and it was time to move on. I hope that when I’m as old as her, I can make that same decision.


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