“Stand Alone”

Prompt: 5 minutes “Stand Alone”

“Stand Alone”

Stand alone. On your own two feet. See what you can do without any others to stop you, to help you, to harm you, to interfere, to suggest other ways. What does your heart say? What is your heart saying to you? IMG_6132

Stand alone. You already do stand alone. But alone with a living God burning brightly inside your very heart chakra, comforting you, guiding you, suggesting ideas that will catapult you to the Highest Version of Yourself that you can imagine. We just don’t often take the time to listen to that part of ourselves. Yes, I believe the Holy Spirit is a part of each of us, so intertwined with every fiber of our being that we can never not be holy. If we listen.

Stand alone. I used to stand alone and mope inside about being alone. Why doesn’t anyone really understand me? I need them to understand me! I cried tears and sobbed guttural wails as I wrestled with the challenges of growing up, maturing, moving from an insecure teenager to an insecure adult, an insecure wife, mother, neighbor, church member, volunteer, over-achiever. Until it all came crashing down on me in the form of what would morph from one day of a swollen throat, fever, body aches worse than the flu, fatigue that slammed me flat to the surface of my water bed and wouldn’t let me go, into the woman I am now. Twenty-five years I’ve lived inside my body alone, alone in houses full of people who cannot understand this bizarre chronic illness. But now I stand alone – secure in Who I Am.

Sat nam.

“Coming Out”

Coming Out

Right before Christmas I spontaneously answered an appeal from an organization I’ve been a part of since 1991. They’ve changed their name in an effort to reposition the invisible malady we share. The idea was to spread the work about ME/CFS (Myalgic Encephalomyelitis/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) by asking ten people to donate twelve dollars each to raise money for much needed research. I made an embarrassing selfie Vimeo video, showing myself in the state I’ve hidden from the world, my town, my friends for twenty-five years. I hate asking people for money, so I tried to downplay the donation aspect while encouraging my friends to “share” the message to help raise awareness of Chronic Fatigue and Fibromyalgia. I took in a deep breath, said a prayer, and clicked the “post” button on Facebook well after midnight, before I lost my nerve.

I have over a thousand “friends” on Facebook, some I’ve never met in person. Many of themfrequently “like” the inspirational quotes I post, photos of my precious granddaughter, humorous jokes, pretty pictures of the beach. The resulting response of silence to my linked video in my Facebook world was palpable, deafening really. What on earth had I done? Had I just “lost” a bunch of “friends?”

Ginny’s Solve ME/CFS 10/$12 Appeal for Hope from Ginny Fleming on Vimeo.

Slowly, a few responses trickled in, applauding my courage. One night I received a private message from a long lost friend, thanking me for my candor, explaining how my video had affected her family. Her son had been diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome a couple of years prior, but things had been getting very tense in her household, as her husband just didn’t understand and he had been getting more and more frustrated with their son. She had showed my video to her son, who said my description was “spot on.” She had showed it to her husband and “something clicked” and he finally “got it.” The role of caretaker to those of us with ME/CFS is a lonely and weary one, too. I sighed, finding comfort that I had helped someone. The personal embarrassment was worth it, if I had only helped that one family.

I called my best friend in Tennessee and asked her opinion.

“It was pretty depressing,” she admitted with her familiar chuckle.

“I know, right? But that’s how I really am about 75% of the time.”

“Really? I would’ve guessed about 25%.”

“No, I just don’t answer the phone or talk about it every time I’m so down, even with you. You know me better than anyone and you really thought I felt this way only 25% of the time? Should I delete it?”

“No, but maybe you could do a follow-up video explaining more? And just shoot from the hip, no script, just telling it like you just told me.”

I took her advice and recorded a more upbeat video. I put on make-up and filmed it outside on my deck, sunshine and chirping birds in the background. I got a few more “likes.” I raised a little money. But another friend, one who had lived with similar health challenges for decades as well, told me she liked the first video better — that she felt like I had negated all the wonderful honesty I’d expressed in the first one when I posted the second one.

G’s follow up CFS video from Ginny Fleming on Vimeo.

So I did a third one, this time using YouTube. It was right before Christmas. I held my iPhone out and recorded another selfie with Christmas music in the background. This one was a mix of the two. I got a few more “likes,” more heartfelt donations, and several private messages thanking me for validating similar feelings, for expressing the day to day realities of living with CFS and Fibromyalgia in a way that reached family members who had not been very understanding until seeing my video.

After Christmas, my husband found a “scooter” on sale at a medical supply place and, after 25 years of hiding my pain, painting on a smile for the world, living a mostly housebound life, I took my first spin. I was a nine-year old with a new bicycle! You could not wipe the smile from my face! I felt only joy and exuberance as I felt the wind in my hair as I zipped down the street!

“I hope this doesn’t make you feel … disabled, handicapped.”

“Well, of course it does! But I’m so over it! I’m 55 and I am so over it!”

The first few times I drove my “Go Go,” I stayed on the same two streets I’d walked for years whenever I could get out of the house. But two weeks ago I branched out and took a “walk” (“a scoot”?) beyond the side street on which I’ve lived for fifteen years, but have only seen, I realized, from a car window. As I motored past Wake Forest Elementary, a nostalgic tear slipped out behind my Ray Bans. I recalled the many times I had joined first Caroline, then Hallie, for lunch in that noisy cafeteria. Light and noise and smells had assaulted my sensitive body and I’d smiled my way through the thirty minute experience before I drove home and crashed in the bed, resting up before time to pick them up in the carpool line at 3:20. The sounds of those little elementary school children, their energy, their boisterous joy, the innocent, promising twinkle in their eyes — I am so glad I got to experience them! I am so grateful that I braved the times I sucked it up and went to my daughers’ schools even when I didn’t feel up to it. I almost always paid a dear price later, but no one can take those memories away from me.

Continuing, we turned the corner and then another corner, the Seminary campus on our right. Roosevelt, my little terrier mix, trotted right along with me, both of us learning how to navigate the moving vehicle and the leash, adjusting our speed from “hare” back down to “tortoise” when he galloped and fell behind; stopping abruptly when he found a bush he was determined to sniff, to lift his leg and make his mark while I untangled and readjusted the leash situation. Ideally, I needed him on my left, freeing my right hand to press the lever forward when we were ready to go; to release when we needed to stop suddenly.

“I don’t think this is an all-terrain vehicle, Roosevelt,” I said when we hit a rough parts of the sidewalk, ran over anything larger than a sweet gum ball, navigated turns. Cars sped past us as we made our way down Durham Road, the major 35 mph thoroughfare through our small town. I kept my head down for a few houses, but at some point I got the courage to look up, to smile and nod my head to people whose faces turned to look at me through car windows, rolled up in the chilly winter air.

Near the end of our mile-long scoot, I got my new scooter stuck on uneven pavement and had to exert great effort to help it get over the hump. Then we met with a rather large branch that had fallen on the sidewalk. Ignorantly, I tried to go over it instead of getting off and moving the debris. The plastic basket popped off and I stopped us abruptly. We’d almost rolled over it. We’d almost tipped over. I got off, figured out how to reattach the basket,  and moved the branch. We finally made it back to our street without seeing anyone I knew.

I took out my iPhone and recorded a little of our scoot-walk, capturing Roosevelt’s cute little run beside me. When I posted that on Facebook, I got over 70 “likes” and quite a few comments.

One friend asked to see a picture of the actual scooter. I retrieved the only one I had, the one taken by my husband the first day he had surprised me with the after Christmas gift. I was wearing no make up, no bra, my wild hair unruly around my ear warmer headband. It was not a flattering picture at all. But something inside me said, “What the hell? I’m 55. I already posted that depressing video. Who gives a rip?” So I commented back on that post and attached the awful photo, once again getting over myself and letting real life — my real life — show.

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Depression

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Depression

Depression is a lonely business. It sits behind one’s steady eyes, shaking your faith in yourself, your place in this world, your desire to stay in it. Sometimes it all just seems too much. And when you’ve felt like this more times than you can count, and you’re on the downhill slope of life anyway, and you’re so tired, just so tired of keeping on keeping on, you just might reach for something, anything really. Whatever calls your name while you look for a speck of light in the dark inky world of despair you can’t see as temporary anymore. This time I reach for expensive, brand name Prozac. It keeps me here. This time.

Prozac cropped

Behind but Thankful

Ok, so I’m already behind on the NaBloPoMo – who was I kidding thinking I might do the NaNoWriMo?! I still WANT to do both! But now isn’t this just so telling of my personality?! Life to me is like going to Golden Coral – I tend to fill my plate with much more than I can ever consume. Next time, I do the same all over again.

I am so grateful that I still WANT to do things, even though my body sometimes (ok, often, but I’m an optimist) doesn’t cooperate. Dr. Lapp asks me that question when we have our every six month follow-ups for the chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia that has plagued me for … it will be 24 years on November 25. “Do you still have interest in things?” At least 85% of the time now I can answer that question in the affirmative. Thank God. The other dark, lonely, flat place is no fun at all. Still, in hindsight when I am feeling better, I am grateful for the low days, too. They are part of the contrast, which makes me appreciate so many little simple things at this stage of my life. Today I am grateful that I WANT to do so many things, including writing. I may fall short of my goals, but I am alive, awake, aspiring for more.

I know I must get on with my day, yet my heart is so FULL of gratitude, so I really only have time to make a list:

* I am grateful for my loving husband, with whom I can be myself, graying hair, pooching belly and all. He adores me and we both agree there is no one we would rather be driven crazy by than each other! I respect him, his values, his strength, his even-tempered personality, and especially the way he walks the dog each night, helps in the kitchen more and more, and does all those fine motor kinds of things that elude me – like the efficient and gentle way he got two splinters out of the palm of my right hand yesterday. He’s the best and deserves his own LONG post! But that will have to wait…

* I am grateful for my beautiful home with its newly remodeled kitchen, the gorgeous yard my husband tends with its now red and yellow and falling leaves; the purple, blue, white and yellow pansies he planted for me in containers on the back porch; the cozy, way it feels when I return to it. Last night, after ten days at the beach, I unlocked the back door, juggling bags and my purse and the keys and all and I walked in, trying not to get bruised again by the heavy storm door. I turned on the lights – the new funky pendant lights – and I couldn’t help but smile. It smelled like home. You know that smell. Every home has its own. But this one was ours, and it felt like putting on my favorite faded, stained sweater on a chilly day.

And now the timer has dinged and there is no time to even finish my list. Shocking for me, I know. I must get in the shower so I won’t be late to appointments. I am grateful for the nice hot shower I am about to have. Many people in this world do not have that luxury you know.

“Shatter”

July 8, 2013
Prompt: 15 min “Shatter”

Shatter
Shatter. Shatter the glass ceiling, we women were offered, encouraged to do when we were mere girls living in a man’s world. The 1960’s, ’70’s, a time when, every now and then, a brave soul would rise up to shatter the glass ceiling previously owned, dominated by men, our patriarchal society. We watched the first female astronaut, CEO, swimmer crossing some large body of water.
Ginny interviewing Geraldo Rivera 1977
Blacks, now called African-Americans, knew about shattering glass ceilings, too. We punched those white male dominated worlds together. Raised to fight for civil rights, to support the underdog, my mama identified glass ceilings, pointed out inequality, applauded the shattering. The shattering. Not with violence, glass shards flying everywhere. No, with firmness, sticking to your guns in the face of resistance, obeying the laws, but standing up to the systems she deemed unfair.

Little Rock Central High

Little Rock Central High


I thought I might be one to shatter some ceilings. Little Rock Central High honors poising me to shoot out into the world with gusto, a degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill preparing me for greatness. But I became a stay-at-home mom with two little girls to raise. Determined to stretch beyond the confines of homemaking, this undervalued, traditional role, I started my own PR and marketing consulting business on the side, working nights and weekends so I wouldn’t shirk my maternal duties. Superwoman, I became, my People Pleasing tendencies pushing, pushing, pushing me to do more, be more, give more.

Shatter. And then my world shattered. Slammed me down into the bed, the deep, dark cavern of ill-health I never expected, didn’t see coming, thought I was immune to, actually never even considered.

Now, twenty-three years later, my immune system weakened and so much of my life spent in medical appointments, not shattering any big, bad glass ceilings, my perspective changed, I can only strive to shatter what I perceive as small victories — performing normal daily chores with both shame and a sense of accomplishment: the dishwasher unloaded, the bills paid, the bank statement off by the same amount as last month and the month before, dare I add back in the $537 the bank says I have that my checkbook disagrees with? Combing back through the statements, the checkbook is just too much, just too much. It’ll be all right. I don’t think the world will shatter if I don’t find my error.

“Older”

Prompt: 40 minutes: “Older”
June 17, 2013

Older

Older is a loaded word, a plant growing out of its pot, roots bound together in a clump of experience seeking desperately fresh soil, nutrients, water — that life-giving, liquid oxygen.

Older is not for sissies. No, it takes a bit of bravery, or at least the show of “a stiff upper lip” as my dad would say. “Everything’s super,” he says, when I know he must have aches and pains, feelings of grief and loss somewhere down inside that aging body, now a size small.

Older is watching your parents age, Dad shrinking, Mom getting shorter, rounder. Older is watching myself get rounder, wrinklier, heavier, more tired, less patient inside but more patient in front of youth.

Mom and me at Holden Beach 2011

Mom and me at Holden Beach 2011

Older is the home around me — walls needing paint touch-ups, cobwebs stretching from chair legs to corners, not having moved for months, years.

Older is the dog lying contentedly beside me, an occasional sigh sounding full of resignation perhaps. Or maybe it is just sheer acceptance.

Acceptance. That’s what older requires. Acceptance — of life, people, days gone by, limitations. Really? Or am I just too sleepy this morning to be more upbeat? Maybe older is needing more leisure time to wake up, or maybe it’s having so much leisure time that I don’t “wake up” until the day is well on its way.photo-22

Older is sighing when I don’t feel like making the effort to open my eyes, get out of bed, put the pen down, and go on with my day.

Older is knowing you have surgery in less than four days to remove cancer from your body. Older is looking around the house at the accumulation of a lifetime and just not knowing where to begin to sort it all out. I don’t want those I’ll leave behind to have to do it, yet I’m not ready to burn it, shred it, dispose of it just yet — I might live many more years and wish I could find those notes I took when I was in my 30’s, trying to sort through life. I might want to get inside that young woman’s mind again sometime. Words can take me there.

For now, I think I’ll just close my eyes and rest a bit.

“This book”

Prompt: 25 minutes: “this book”

This Book

This book I’ve tried to finish, publish, get out there for so very long, still sits on my cluttered desk, pulled, wrinkled, from the bag I took with me to the fall writer’s conference this past weekend with high hopes of making headway in a seemingly never-ending process, like this sentence that can’t seem to find its ending. Period. Not. There’s more. There’s always more to edit, reword, rewrite, rethink. “Is it good enough yet?”

Ahh.. the real question: “Am I good enough yet?”

There’s the pit of the peach, the core of the apple, the stabbing, tingly feeling in my heart when I dare to release this baby into the world for other eyes to see. Will they like it? Will I be embarrassed or proud as I timidly show it to my writer friends to evaluate, judge, critique?

It’s dangerous business, this putting yourself out there on the page, like lying naked on the doctor’s cold examining table, paper crinkling under you, vulnerable, chilled, a bit anxious now that you’re here. New thoughts surface, concerns begin to pop around in your head like microwave popcorn during its last 30 seconds: wondering deep down that maybe they’ll find something you never knew to think about – some strange new diagnosis with a complicated name you’ll have to learn how to pronounce, and spell, to Google it. You arrived for this routine follow-up, not thinking to fear, but now suddenly it occurs to you they might find another suspicious lump or bump or something that needs an MRI, an ultrasound, a biopsy, hopefully just minor editing and not a complete rewrite.

This book I’ve been trying to birth is a pretty book. A coffee table, a gift book. A hopeful book. A book to inspire and uplift. The need to get back to writing it, honing it, word by word, has kept me fighting these last five years. I want to see it published before I die (which could be a very long time, mind you), and so I persevere. In between doctor’s visits, the time-consuming devotion to alternative avenues of healing mixed with traditional allopathic, insurance-covered appointments, tests, labs, imaging, I occasionally pull out The Joy of Shelling and reread, edit a little, research to fill in gaps, imagine it in print.

This book reflects the world I wish I could live in all the time – the pensive, calm, centered, connected place I think we all hunger for, though we often cannot name that restless feeling, that inability to focus, to stop flitting from this to that. A world in which we can just be! For heaven’s sake, the incessant need to do this and that can drive you crazy, really. Take this vitamin, see this specialist, “You don’t have a hematologist? Well, here’s a referral.” I realize the next day that yes, in fact, I do have one – my oncologist is also a hematologist! Whew! I can avoid filling out another long medical history intake form, and maybe write a few words on my book or my blog instead. To slide back into the fluffy, cozy covers of the inner experience – writing, shelling, meditating – it’s all the same: a welcome escape from medical appointments that drain me, suck my time, my life, my writing life. Reaching for my iPhone, Words with Friends and Scramble an easy diversion from the fluorescent, windowless, sterile rooms of answer-seeking, blood draws, IV’s, plastic orange urine collecting containers, saliva-soaked cotton rolls stored in the freezer until I can find a UPS site nearby so I can send them off to some lab in the mountains whose results will offer me new data, a new treatment plan, new hope of returning to a life of normalcy, now 22 years in my past.

Or maybe I should just finish this book.

“Merit Badges”

I recently wrote an essay for a competition that I did not win, and so I will not get to go to Oakland, California to meet Anne Lamott and Kelly Corrigan next month after all. Nor will I receive a call from a senior editor at Random House/Ballantine. Or from the Executive Editor at O Magazine. Or from a top literary agent at ICM. Oh well, I didn’t know what ICM stood for anyway! And I still thoroughly enjoyed the writing process and  honing my essay down to less than 800 words (799!).

I followed the guidelines: “Notes & Words is looking for the next great memoirist. We’re calling for short personal essays about the challenges of caring for a child (age 18 or younger), including medical issues (e.g., an accident, illness or diagnosis) or emotional crises (e.g., a death, divorce, breakdown) or one of any one of the more common parenting dramas (e.g., academic, social, athletic, epicurean).

I thought my life situation fit the subject matter perfectly, and so I wrote to the contest theme. Since my essay wasn’t chosen, I’ve decided to “publish” it myself here on my blog. Let me know what you think – could I possibly become a great memoirist if I keep plugging away? Thanks for reading!

Merit Badges

“This year’s winner of the Trentini Scholarship, worth $24,000, is  …. Caroline Craft!”

Without thinking, I gasped as my beautiful daughter made her way to the podium, holding up the shiny gold taffeta of her long prom dress so she wouldn’t trip. How on earth had I forgotten to check to see if it needed hemming?

Brushing away tears, I watched Caroline deliver an unrehearsed acceptance speech with poise, grace and humility. I glanced over at my ex while I squeezed my husband’s hand, marveling that the committee had presented the prestigious community award to a child from a broken home. I thanked God she had managed to thrive despite the divorce and my chronic illness.

Hallie was eighteen months old and Caroline four and a half on November 25, 1990, the day I awoke with what would later be diagnosed as Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. One week I was a full-time mom juggling my own part-time marketing and PR business, exercising with Jane Fonda and bopping to Jazzercise music. The next week I was flat in bed with a low-grade fever and pounding headache, my throat swollen, my legs hardly able to carry me to the bathroom. Little did we know how long this bizarre, unpredictable disease would last or how distressing it would be for our family.

Brain fog distorted my short-term memory. I struggled to recall that grapes, not raisins, were what the girls had ordered only moments before with their sandwiches cut in “triangles, not squares, Mama!” With the blue ice pack on my head, a heating pad on my legs, I wrote sad poetry through tears while, outside, a babysitter answered “Yes, you may” to “Mother, may I?”.

Out of desperation I created a “treat kettle” for when I simply had to have a two-hour nap, long past the time the girls had outgrown theirs. I filled my Grandma Ginny’s old copper kettle with strips of paper on which words described fun, but sedentary, activities we could do together if I got my nap. I prayed Social Services wouldn’t find out I slept while my young children played, unattended, in their rooms. When the big and little hands of the clock showed the appointed hour, they could wake me up. We’d draw a treat from the kettle: “color with crayons in bed with Mama,” “read library books in bed with Mama,” “watch old Caroline videos together,” activities I could do, even on pretty bad days.

I made merit badges from construction paper – yellow circles with blue paper ribbons taped at angles, the words “MERIT BADGE” printed in black Sharpie. Awarded spontaneously when the girls had gotten along particularly well, these paper prizes encouraged behavior that allowed me to get a much-needed respite from the typical harried life of a mother. Merit badges could only be cashed in when Mama was having a “good day” and able to drive, but they were prized carrots dangling in the background of our lives. They offered trips to The Corner for strawberry, lemon or bubblegum-flavored ice cream; to Delectable Delights for gummy bears and fresh squeezed orangeades. Usually, we’d stop by the library to get new books – Berenstain Bears, Curious Georges, Amelia Bedelias.

As months turned into years, the illness took its toll on my marriage. I tried my best to shield my daughters from the increasing anger their father felt at the illness, but directed toward me.

“Why do you stay married to Daddy? He yells at you all the time,” Hallie questioned at age eight. A year later we split, all four of us sad.

As I heard Caroline acknowledge the other finalists so graciously, tears of elation mixed with grief slid down my cheeks. I recalled how many years I’d been repeating the same excuses to teachers and room mothers: “Maybe next semester I’ll be able to volunteer more or bake some cookies, but now I can only send in paper products or snacks I can buy ahead of time.”

Yet we must have done something right. Both our daughters were happy, healthy and successful, despite their challenging childhoods.

While Caroline thanked her parents, I recalled the many weekends we had sent the girls away to visit their grandparents to give us a break. I’d felt guilty imposing on my parents, despair at losing time with my kids. I remembered cheerfully singing Wee Sing songs with a splitting headache on the 45-minute drive to our rendezvous exit, blowing goodbye kisses in the air, then popping pain pills, releasing guttural sobs on the weary drive home.

Tonight my tears were different, my heart somehow even more intensely full than when I’d given birth. Caroline had won the Trentini, but I felt I’d won the ultimate Merit Badge.

Holiday Habits – Repeating the Sounding Joy?

Well, the tree is up, prelit (LOVE it!), partially decorated, awaiting the arrival of my mother tomorrow and my daughters Saturday to complete the hanging of the traditional ornaments. I’m ready to let go of stuff, like so many of us baby boomers seem to be saying these days. Yet I still collect Christmas tree ornaments from our travels, trying to add ornaments that will offer meaning to my second husband and me as we continue to build our life together, married now for almost 12 years. Yet so many of the ornaments were from my own childhood, and my children’s elementary school years, and evoke sentiments from an earlier time – which I actually cherish remembering as I hang them each year. But, like the rest of our house, our closets, under the beds, the attic, the basement, our tree will be mainly ornaments with snippets of greenery peeking out here and there if I try to hang all of them. It simply does not have room for them all! My house simply does not have room for the new things I purchased in 2010 until I can clean out some of the old and make room for new!

I have always had a sentimental streak that tends to become attached to and hold onto just about anything and everything given to me by my daughters, parents, friends and loved ones. Heck, for that matter for anything that comes in the mail, But my tastes have changed through the years and I have bought and accumulated so many beautiful treasures, that it is really ridiculous! Crazy-making! My own daughters are grown and setting up their own households and I always thought I was saving things for them. But they don’t seem to want much of what I have to offer so far. They prefer to buy new and decorate according to their tastes. So, what to do?

Well, I’ve decided this is the year. The year I will really cull and lighten up. The last three years my New Year’s goals were to “get organized.” I’m still not organized – there simply isn’t enough room anywhere to store any more until I go up into the creaky, dusty, awkward attic and start culling from the top down. Sounds so overwhelming at his point, as I just want to enjoy the holidays and struggle with feelings of overwhelm as I try to plan menus and get food ready for the various family gatherings in the coming weeks. As I wrap and wrap the gifts I just about wore myself out shopping for during the past month. As I carefully write down each gift with its corresponding value before I place it under the tree, trying to treat each child and grandchild fairly.

Having had Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Fibromyalgia for over 20 years now, shopping has never been my strong suit. When I have been up for shopping, I’ve tended to buy in bulk, or ahead of time, not knowing when I’ll feel like getting out to shop again. So, as usual, this year I started with the after Christmas sales in January 2011 on the random days I happened to have the energy to hit Barnes & Noble, Target, Pier One, and the quaint little shops in downtown Wake Forest. But in July, on our trip to Gloucester, MA, I also started Christmas shopping when I saw unique things that jumped out at me. Still, in November and early December, when I found myself with a little time after a doctor’s appointment near Trader Joe’s, I excitedly filled two carts with stuff for holiday entertaining like wine, candy, appetizers, and stocking stuffers for the kids (and grand-dogs – sheesh!). Then after another appointment, I did the same thing at Whole Foods. And when I “ran into Barnes & Noble to pick up a 2012 date book”, I spent almost 2 hours, mesmerized by the plethora of magazines, matching my family’s interests to titles I didn’t know existed, or had always heard of but not read. And bought $100 worth of gift cards so I could get a $10 gift card promotion at the check-out line, as the last announcement was pronounced over the loud speaker to bring your purchases to the register, inviting me to return when the store opened the next morning. Right. I am not a morning person. Nor a shopper, really. Right.

Someone (I think it was my oldest daughter, wise woman she has become despite my quirky habits) once told me to try to get rid of 10 items for every new item you bring into your home. Well, darn. I’ve got a lot of culling to do in 2012!