Traditional Traditions

When holiday season rears its head, it feels like an annoying splinter I can’t seem to wriggle free.  The actual holiday itself isn’t the issue, but rather my expectations or perception of how the time should be spent.

Since I am an only child, don’t have children, and come from a small family, the stressful cooking and shopping serpent doesn’t loom overhead.  I feel like I’m dust slowly gathering on the outside of a fishbowl—everyone else is frantically swimming around gift buying, dessert baking, and holiday decorating, but I’m stationary—on the outside, hoping to be wiped free.

All of those actions haven’t made it to my to-do list or calendar and I don’t foresee it happening in the near future.  Does that mean I somehow feel left out?  Yes and no.  In some respects, I’m relieved I don’t have the same stress or anxiety as others.  However, there’s a part of me that wants the traditional traditions—baking, cooking, tree, and family; real family.  Maybe a smidgen of Martha Stewartism could sprinkle my way and magically put me back in sync with everyone else.

As an adult who has moved away from my hometown and state, an unconscious question reveals itself, “What are you running from or running to?”  Due to circumstances, I haven’t had the chance to establish my own traditions, so there is a feeling of longing and insecurity.  For example, saying I was in Las Vegas for a Thanksgiving a few years back makes me feel slightly abnormal, as if announcing that I’m so thankful, I spent my time in Sin City!

Being packed in like sardines at a stretched piecemeal table, bumping elbows, and frantically passing food about while trying to partake in simultaneous conversations isn’t my idea of an ideal holiday.  Instead, going to a restaurant for a juicy steak rather than a dried out turkey and intimate conversation, is more my speed.  Or is it?  That Thanksgiving in Vegas, I was comforted to see there wasn’t an empty table in sight at the steak house and families were congregating at the door to be seated.  Apparently, the practice of eating out for a holiday is actually a tradition in itself, but I wasn’t aware, since I’d never done it before.

Last year was the holiday season from hell.  Just a two weeks before Thanksgiving my heart and life as I knew it was gutted.  I was in a massive state of shock, depression, and despair.  I was a walking empty shell of exhausted numbness.  At the last minute, I flew home to my parent’s house in Olympia for Thanksgiving.  I cried on the flight there, cried the bulk of Thanksgiving Day, and cried on the flight home.  My family hasn’t experienced much turbulence, so the silence and sideways glances just punctuated, rather than comforted the pain.  Although they meant well and I was “back home,” I felt like I was wearing a massive Scarlet Letter with a capital “L” stamped across my forehead.  Loser.  

I’m relieved and proud to say what a difference a year makes!  My mental and emotional state has improved leaps and bounds.  I’ve never worked so hard on my own well being as I have in the last year.  At times it has been absolutely exhausting.  There are still rough days, sleepless nights, and tears, but it’s short lived.  The positives are prominent, my smile genuine, and my eyes bright for my future.  

This Saturday I fly south to Indio to spend Thanksgiving week with my parents.  We’re going golfing, wine tasting, and out to a nice dinner Thanksgiving Day.  Since I’ve never been there, I plan to do some exploring on my own.  BUT, there’s still a piece of me that has a longing for traditional traditions.  A yearning for my own family unit; to feel like I am not just the “plus one” at the table.   

James Agee said, “You must be in tune with the times and prepared to break with tradition.”  In some instances, this may be true.  For me, tradition binds everything together; the backbone of family.  We’ve become so in tune with the times, we’ve lost sight of the past due to constantly looking ahead.  Thus, traditions have become diluted, unable to keep up with the continuous onslaught of change.  

My heart remains hopeful that someday I will have traditional traditions.  Until then, I give myself permission to accept what is as it is.  And dammit, I will continue to persevere.  I will continue to get out of bed each day, smile, hold my head high, and pursue my dreams.  The letter I now wear is “S” for Strength.

~Daniela Thompson, 11/16/15; 11/12/17

Sunday Quote, 08/14/16

be-as-you-wish-to-seem-socrates

Sunday Reflection Quote…Memories old and new, thought provoking conversations, stretch experiences, and personal challenges have rounded out the last two weeks of summer break. As I’ve listened and observed, the beauty in others has been revealed. Thus, a realization has been confirmed…Rather than seeking acceptance and approval, I just need to be me, as I am and wish to seem. We all have our nuances and idiosyncrasies. For that, I am thankful.

#Sunday #reflection #quote #socrates #mindset #growth #goals #acceptance#patience #reset #keeponkeepingon #myownstory

Carry On or Checked?

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A colleague shared when she and her husband travel, they always carry on their luggage and never check.  They even did it for their two week honeymoon to Costa Rica.  She was pretty proud of herself as she was able to get away with sneaking a razor through security; her go to item.

How can this be?  How could just one carry on per person be enough for a two week trip, let alone any trip?

When I travel, I typically check at least one bag plus a carry-on or personal item like a purse or satchel.  I’m a heavy packer as I hate to make decisions regarding what I’m going to wear and like to have options.  Depending on the trip, clothes are needed for day, evening, beach, golf, exercise, and unexpected changes in the weather.  The “be prepared” Girl Scout has been ingrained to the nth degree.

The bulk of my space is shoes, because I’m obsessed with matching and if my shoes don’t match, it’s a mental grind for the day.  For me, brown can’t go with black; silver can’t go with gold; pink can’t go with red; and patterns must be accompanied with solids (in general, avoid stripes).  Who knows where these whacko bazingo rigid rules of mine came from, but they are hard and fast occupying the space between my ears.  Hence, the bulk of my closet, shoes, and handbags being black with a splash of either silver or gold–not both.

I have a mental block of being casual (probably from being raised by a very formal Japanese mother), so wearing sneakers for the day just doesn’t seem proper.  I remember a friend in high school asking if I ever wore tennis shoes.  My reply was yes, in PE.  One might contend this is a ridiculous mindset as in reality comfort would be more of the goal, as no one really notices and I shouldn’t care what others think–but I do.

I’ll be in Chicago later next week for a conference.  When packing, I hope to focus on function and comfort.  Granted, I plan to go out and see the city each evening, so I’ll need some nice heels, or two. I’m also going to limit a large portion of toiletries.  Just one panel of eyeshadow, rather than several (neutral colors).  Sunscreen and one multi-purpose lotion. Hairspray, but mini bottle.  Leave the hair dryer at home and use the one provided.  One handbag (for all outfits) and one day bag for the materials.

This will be a packing challenge.  Perhaps I’ll realize less is more and it’s the comfort of the simple things that truly matter.  However, I’ll still be checking my luggage; there’s no getting around that!

~D.Thompson

Quotes From the Felt…

Felt Quotes 2 WP

I list ideas for writing on my phone and eventually categories or patterns emerge.  Here’s a list of lines said either directly to me or overheard while playing poker…

  • He quit the CIA to become a singer, but I don’t know why.
  • I have two ex-wives and my girlfriend is a psychopath.
  • Well, it’s not that fancy shit that’ll give hangovers. (Bud Light vs. Micro)
  • You’re the prettiest girl I’ve seen (long pause), in the last 3 minutes. (really? ouch!)
  • Like sheep ready for slaughter. (standing in line to register for tourney)
  • He went and find it. (cell phone left at another table; why a player was gone from seat)
  • Where’s the house doctor? My ear hurts. (older gent complaining about a woman who wouldn’t shut up)
  • When I feel horny I get hot. (Lady about 70-ish to three 20-somethings playing at same table).
  • You three give me damage!  I want bruises! (same old lady; her VERY direct pick-up line to have sex)
  • He’s Elvis
  • Are you feeling lucky punk?
  • Look up and say “wow” (I did) and guy said “thank you, I needed that.”
  • Waitress: Can I get you anything? Player: Can I get a 6ft blonde? Waitress: You can, how much do you have?
  • Player to the dealer: What are you doing rushing the players off? Your job is to deal, don’t worry about the players!! Dealer to the other player: Sir, did you want a hand?
  • Nobody’s listening and nobody cares.  How many times have you been told?  Yet you still keep on anyway.
  • Lettuce foul.
  • That’s one too many elephant jokes.  You’re cut off.

Poker can have some interesting or juicy comments, especially in cash games.  This list is as of July 19, 2015.  I’ll update periodically and repost.

Shoes

Shoes2 WP
By LaLaPalooza

Back in my moccasin and penny loafer days in high school, my best friend asked if I ever wore sneakers.  She said this with a hint of judgment meaning “Don’t you ever dress down?”  I didn’t, unless I had a specific purpose such as playing a sport, or wearing grubby ones for yard work or camping.  

However, there was a short stint during middle school where wore sneakers on a regular basis.  They were a navy blue pair of high top Converse, which was a big to-do for my family to purchase.  Mom wanted to know why a girl would want such “ugly boy shoes.”  Dad was concerned about the quality of canvas and the price tag attached.  After much cajoling, the box made it home.  I wore my Cons almost daily with pride.  Those shoes were a snapshot capturing a moment when I finally got my way and satisfied a longing for “Cool.”  For once I was wearing something name brand and I felt in sync with the style of the time.  The Cons made it about three years through the wear and tear of a teenager.  By the time they were reluctantly placed into the garbage, there were small holes, random doodle designs, and crossed out names of crushes dancing along the sole.  

A pair of indoor soccer shoes used for just one season from several years ago still occupy the farthest corner of my closet.   I can’t seem to part with them.  They represent a time when I played games at 10:00 at night, sweated profusely, and felt that athletic high.  I had war stories to share the next day of jammed toes and ripped fingernails from being slammed into the Plexiglas wall and bruises worn with pride.  They reflect a time of aggression, release, and belonging to an unlikely team of all female elementary teachers.

Read More »

Quotes From the Felt…

Felt Quotes 2 WP

I list ideas for writing on my phone and eventually categories or patterns emerge.  Here’s a list of lines said either directly to me or overheard while playing poker…

  • He quit the CIA to become a singer, but I don’t know why.
  • I have two ex-wives and my girlfriend is a psychopath.
  • Well, it’s not that fancy shit that’ll give hangovers. (Bud Light vs. Micro)
  • You’re the prettiest girl I’ve seen, in the last 3 minutes. (ouch!)
  • Like sheep ready for slaughter. (standing in line to register for tourney)
  • He went and find it. (cell phone left at another table; why a player was gone from seat)
  • Where’s the house doctor? My ear hurts. (older gent complaining about a woman who wouldn’t shut up)
  • When I feel horny I get hot. (Lady about 70-ish to three 20-somethings playing at same table).
  • You three give me damage!  I want bruises! (same old lady; her VERY direct pick-up line to have sex)
  • He’s Elvis
  • He’s feeling lucky Punk!
  • Look up and say “wow” (I did) and guy said “thank you, I needed that.”

Poker can have some juicy conversations, especially in cash games.  I’ll update periodically and repost.

Image Is Everything

In poker, each player has a table image.  Some based on how one plays such as tight-aggressive or loose-passive, while others are established by personality or physical appearance.  Perhaps the perfect formula is a combination of all three.  As a relative newbie to the game and a female at that, I’m constantly in the mode of analyzing my competition.  At the same time, I’m becoming more and more aware of my own actions and appearance.  This reflection has evolved into a guiding force for decisions made at the table and how I react to random distractions or intentional antics.          

Take for example, a night I played 3/6 limit at the Grand Sierra.  An elderly man joined the table at about 12:30am and occupied seat three.  In a gentlemanly way, he gave a nod to the players at the table along with a “good evening.”  With the nod, we observers couldn’t help but notice the stark white cap with brown bubble lettering perched atop his head that read, “If there’s TITS or TIRES, There’ll be Problems.”  Now, that’s quite the bold hat to wear at the table!  The oddity was the image of the hat contrasting with the conservative looking man – western style button up shirt, tightly groomed wax-tipped curled mustache, and quiet demeanor.  There were a few quick comments– “Takes some balls to wear a hat like that!” and “Where did you find such a hat?”  The man’s response, “What’s the big deal?  It’s just a hat.”  Indeed.  Read More »

Just Bag It

Paper or plastic?  After developing my grocery list for the week, scanning ads for best prices, clipping coupons, and strolling down multiple aisles of the store, really, I don’t care; just bag my damn groceries!

Why is it that I must deal with this environmental question while standing in the checkout line?  My days are filled with endless decisions.  The last thing I need when I’m exhausted and eager to get home is a question of controversy and at the market no less.  Not long ago shopping meant one choice and one choice only—paper.  Nice, sturdy bags that held their shape and could endure use after use.  In fact, some stores offered a five-cent credit for each bag you brought to reuse, which the budget minded took advantage of.  Read More »