The Year You Did Not Crack.

 

This is for You. For everyone.

For those in my real social life, and those who are just as real in my social media life.

For those who may have entered my orbit yet remain unknown.

For those I do know who occasionally irk me, this one’s for you, too.

 

Turn the camera on yourself, right now. Take a selfie no one else will ever see.

 

Then, consider this:

2020 is going to go down as The Year You Did Not Crack.

 

There’ve been a lot of attitude adjustments. Mostly for the better.

But some of you have faced multiple moments of: I’m too old for this. I don’t have to put up with that. I’m done for good – and for my own good.

Even as you solidly define your new limits, I’m still hearing apologetic self-belittlement for taking a stand, narrated as shame: “I cracked.”

No. No, you did not. You did not crack.

You un-cracked.

You filled fissures that have been worn deep for years with self-saving cement; not to harden yourself, but to protect yourself.

You’ve broken down who you are and decided not to be broken, anymore. You stunted the cracks.

Bravo.

Think about that. How kind you’ve been to yourself. How you’ve decided you love yourself instead of focusing on those who don’t.

Filling your voids has made you stronger. On behalf of every soul in your universe, I thank you.

This gift of self-favor has freed you. The most precious part? Affording others your priceless presence when your strength is needed to shore them.

Smoothing over the surface doesn’t mean you are hiding anything.

It means you have layered purposeful protective boundaries. Swathed the hurt in pristine swatches of emotionally sterile gauze. Taped down so hard, the underneath can’t help but heal from the inside out.

The process never needed to be pretty, you just thought it did. Blisters heal ugly, and you probably call them so. But, knowing you the way I do, I think they’re absolutely gorgeous.

 

Choose your poison – doesn’t matter to me which way you say it. Just say it aloud.

Alone, if you are. Or, alone, if it makes you feel better.

“2020 is going down as The Year I Did Not Crack.”

“2020 is going down as The (explicatives can be empowering) Year I Did Not Crack.”

 

Turn the camera back on. Take another selfie.

Do you see the difference? Believe what you see.

No apologies needed; none accepted.

Now, show the world what you got.

 

Quote for the Week: 2020 05 12 Stop thinking soon ill be free jakorte

Song for the Week: Fall Out Boy, Save Rock And Roll.

You are what you love

Not who loves you

Stay Safe Home Mode

My Foodsaver  and my freezer are my god-sends. So much so, that I truly believe I could go another 3-4 week in Stay Safe mode.

Not quarantined, not anymore self-isolated than usual, it’s pretty much just business as usual for me, except for the shortened commute.

Working from home has taken some getting used to. I’ve always imagined that I’d love it, and I do. The thing is, I imagined it with better equipment.

Downsizing from two huge monitors at work to my tiny laptop has been a challenge. My mini mouse requires a lot more maneuvering. Although, I’m not sure why since I’m sliding over a smaller surface.

My micro set-up unfortunately lends itself to completing one task at a time. I’m more of the handle-it-right-now-if-possible type. Too many windows can be a bit too much for my 5-year oldie to handle and too many layers for me to keep track of.

HBlu’s noticed that opening and closing files to limit electronic desktop clutter requires a lot of clicking.

At least, that’s how I’m interpreting the increase in those huffy cat-sighs while he lounges in the office recliner. Honestly, though, he might be sighing in the lounger because I wouldn’t let him squeeze into that small spot reserved for my mouse and pad. I cleared off the whole other 2/3 of the desk for him. But, no. He must occupy that corner.

Anyway, the point is, still working full days.

Don’t have any more free-time than I had. My 10-minutes-on-a-slow-day roundtrip commute gives me 5 extra minutes in the morning.  Plus, another whopping 5 in late-afternoon.

Still, somehow, I’ve been managing to get up 30 minutes earlier than norm. I made in onto the treadmill 4 out of 5 days before work my first week. A trend I plan to keep up.

It doesn’t hurt that I’ve cut down on unnecessary glamour. (wink, wink.) Mascara and lipstick-free isn’t as freeing as I imagined. Being truly comfortable, however, is.

I’ve uniformed into jeans and a t-shirt; a comfy sweater and no-shoes sock-footed feet. I do wear my trusty Fitbit to remind me that good leg circulation is just as important at home as it is in the office.

My super cool two-person office desk has been used more this month than all of last year. Face it, we all sofa and laptop when we can. But, real desk work requires, well… a desk.

Sturdy good-posture invoking chairs have been inspirational. Early morning pre-work workouts admittedly encouraged by the “Gee, shouldn’t these chairs be a little wider in the thighs?” question the slightly sore sides of my legs are asking. It’s really more about the shape and style of the chair, as opposed to, you know an actual ergonomic office chair.

The most repeated online advice for home-bound, self-protective or mandated work-at-home isolation has been to stick to your normal routine.

That’s good advice. Get up, get showered, get dressed, go to work.

My personal advice? Loud music will help you ignore the 4+ hours of springtime edging and weed-whacking, whine and buzz in your neighborhood.

Lessons on Working From Home:2020 03 31 working from home lesson 1 music jakorte2020 03 31 working from home lesson 2 jakorte

ps. recessing from my year of  memories. just seems now isn’t a good time to add to the sadness.

Button Bouquet

Button Bouquet

A joyful mixed-media collaboration between two crafters with ample access to buckets and baggies and boxes of shiny treasures.

Rescued bits of damaged jewelry, new and repurposed beads and buttons – metal, glass and plastic.

A temporary canvas – this image only existed long enough to photograph and fiddle with, but the bouquet is everlasting.

As is the friendship it was built on.

Available as a pillow, tote bag, travel mug.

Shop now at:  Knabbler @ Redbubble

_______________________________________

 

 

Then and Still

 

The others whom Jeff left behind supported and needed support. Each at the table had at least two dedicated decades of love; some had the full 42.

I was acutely aware I was the one with the least of his lease on life.

In my mind, then and still, the foundations of long-standing years made their loss more severe. I imagined, then and still, the burden of that type of pain surely surpassed mine.

My heart hurt, then and still, for all who had the fortune of Jeff, longer. I only had him for 8 and I was lost.  If I had had him just a moment longer, I would have hurt one more moment worse.

Somehow, some things were already settled. I wasn’t aware of anyone else’s desires, nor did I ask.

My insistence on cremation was the echo of Jeff’s desire. I didn’t want that or not want that. It was what he wanted; therefore, honor worthy.

Surrounded by an invisible buffer, pressurized, cocooned in an observationist air pocket, though not physically isolated, I felt alone. And that was not a reflection of anyone present.

In my seat, I was alone. In my specific type of grief born of my specific role, I was alone. I was just as alone as the other roles represented that morning. None of our grief was the same; couldn’t be, shouldn’t be, would never be.

When we got down to business, the first task was verbally gathering family history and personal information – the sort you need for an obituary.

I was immensely grateful my brother took over proof-reading and corrections. Multiple re-writes and edits later, I felt a bit bad for the funeral planner kid. Which isn’t a derogatory statement. He was young; 20’s-ish.

Whenever asked a decision-required question, Jeff’s father would, in turn, ask it of me. Though deferred to, my choices considered heritage.

Like purposefully choosing the funeral pamphlet featuring a semi-silhouetted blue-hued barn, silo, and field. There couldn’t have been any other choice worth considering.

Quote for the Week: 2020 02 18 Unless we allow others the opportunity to prove jakorte

 

 

 

Cookie Season

I like cookies. I’d say I love them, but that wouldn’t be fair to cake. Especially, since cookies actually fall third to my super love: donuts!

Oh, who am I kidding? Unless it’s got a walnut or pineapple in it, I’ll eat any cookie that comes my way. It’s Cookie Season, now. I’m plumping up a bit, but that’s what New Year’s resolutions are made of.

Cookies weren’t really varied in my youth. Standard homemade choices were chocolate chip, peanut butter and oatmeal. All crispy, all crunchy, all of the time.

With the exception of rarely made and ridiculously rigid sugar cookies, holiday cookies were softer. Concocted of a cream cheese enriched dough; featuring some sort of jelly, preserves or fruit butter. The same ingredients, just presented differently, depending on the celebration.

I had no complaints as a kid, but Jeff taught me about other confections. My contented hard-cookie horizon expanded to a galaxy of undiscovered soft and chewy treasures.

Jeff made marvelously moist Oatmeal Raisin cookies, often. I once (and only once) requested the addition of chocolate chips. He stared at me in confusion for a beat, then simply stated, “There’s not supposed to be chocolate chips in ’em.”

He didn’t understand rather involved Rugelach, but he made them for me, anyway. Minus walnuts, plus my chocolate chips. As far as I’m concerned, he invented the stunning combination: chocolate & unseeded-raspberry rolls of delight.

I’d never heard of a Crinkle Cookie, until Jeff made them for Christmas. They looked so pretty on a tray: gently sloping, round mounds of contrasting dark dough and a bright white, crack-emphasizing topping.

“Try one,” Jeff encouraged.

“What do they taste like?” I wanted to know.

“Like a chocolate cookie,” he answered matter-of-factly. “Try one.”

Death by Chocolate can be a very real thing. That pastry almost killed me.

Quote for the Week:2018 12 18 What's normal for one is novel for another jakorte

Cookies brought to you by J, T, V & Me.

It’s good to know folks who make cookies. Those who makes cookies are usually good folks!

 

Peppered; with Doubt

Truthfully, I still doubted we’d be able to pull it off, but Jeff’s enthusiasm continued to rise.

A few things made it easier for me to delegate. Trust that he’d try. Lack of Time I could devote. And a little bit of doubt that it could be accomplished in the first place. I figured the worst that could happen was we’d have to cancel. But, then, we’d at least have a head-start on planning for it next year. 

With a detailed list of questions and tasks, I handed Jeff the reins and went along for the ride.

Have you gotten permission from the mall?

Will it hurt the other stores’ business or are they ok with it?

Power – can we run bounce houses and band at the same time without blowing out the mall?

What type of permits do we need?

What type of permits do our table/craft people need to have?

Is there be enough parking in our small lot?

Do we need traffic control on the busy two-lane highway?

Are we sure the tables and chairs and tents will be at no cost?

Who will judge the homemade salsas, and how many judges do we need?

How will we handle entries so that it is an anonymous vote?

Do we want to categorize? Sweet salsa, savory salsa, spicier than normal salsa?

Should we ask winners or all entrants to share their recipes, so we can include them in the next monthly newsletter? What is the prize?

Who will handle hot sauce eating and contest registrations, run the register?

Decide how many fan favorites we want to have people voting on? 5? 10?

Then, invite suppliers to provide one type of salsa product for tasting,  let them know the votes will be 25 cents each and donated to ARC. Might need a few jars from each.

Revise the regular waiver for extreme heat sales to address participation in the hot sauce eating contest.

What are the prizes? One winner or 1st, 2nd, 3rd?

Update the membership list, add new customers.

What do we want to say in our mailing to members? On website? On radio?

Do we want to give a discount or a special favor to our members? Do we want to include this for new sign-ups on the day of the event, too?

Can we really use ‘palooza’?

I’d like to change the name from Sauceapalooza to Salsapalooza. Our store name has hot sauce in it, so that part will be obvious. Not everyone likes hot sauce, but most people like salsa. Plus, it would encourage salsa entries.

What if it rains? Or pours? Or is windy? Or nobody comes?

By the conclusion of one more BNI meeting, in one week, he got it all done, all laid out and all planned. Except for the weather, of course.

Quote for the Week:

2018 11 20 two things make it easier to delegate

Sunblock-Clocked

When Jeff was ready to continue, we set out slow walking. It was obvious to everyone who scooted around us, that there was a problem. It really got him down. We made it into the stands and stood for a while at the bottom looking up. The trudging climbers didn’t seem to bothered by the pace.

“C’mon,” I tugged his hand. “Let’s go…” He was dubious, but shuffled forward.

When the upward surging mass stalled, Jeff held on tightly to the rail. “My legs are shaking,” he told me. “That’s ok!” I replied. “You’ll be stompin’ in your seat shortly.” He gave me a little head shake smile, as the crowd crept along. We plodded on, keeping time with the slow bobbing waves of heads. “One foot in front of the other…” I sang off key. He chuckled.

When we’d made it, we both collapsed in our seats. “We made it!” I cheered. “I feel like Rocky…” Jeff huffed. “… after a few rounds.”

Not sure how we lucked out, but we had two seats on the end of the row, which meant Jeff could stand up and sit down easily. Eventually, we both caught our breath, and set about the business of setting up in the stands.

Jeff divvied up the headsets, which sadly were really only brought along for ear comfort. They’d previously hooked up to a radio, set to track channels. We’d listen to pit crews, his favorite drivers and even announcer chatter.

He handed me the binoculars and kept the camera, slung around his neck. Jeff surveyed the situation and sighed. “I hope I don’t gotta go….”

I was looking down re-stashing the sunblock we’d just slathered on the back of our necks, when a shadow came over us. I looked up and caught the tail end of a fighter jet just as it soared out of view.  Jeff’s hat came off, smacking me in the face. I reflexively reached up, opening my hand to catch the cap. The sunblock sailed forward and beaned the gentleman in front of me.

In those few seconds of mayhem, the clocked by sunblock fellow turned around. Jeff stepped closer to me, raising his eyebrows and hands in apology. I involuntarily shrieked in surprise as the sonic boom hit. I slapped both hands over my ears as they painfully popped. I’d just experienced my first fly over directly in the path of a fly over. Frozen in place, I stared at Jeff.

He surveyed me quizzically, quickly surmised my shock and threw out his own boom. Jeff’s contagious laugh caught on, as usual. Those around us grinned, chortled, chuckled, and very nicely returned our strewn belongings.

Quote for the Week:

2018 10 09 There nothing quite like the camaraderie of like jakorte