You can read my Easter post HERE.
Yesterday they buried Manny.
My friend Tracey had texted me to tell me about his death and at the end of her message she said, “(hearing about his death) made me so sad.”
I immediately knew what she meant. For a moment I sat motionless while I stared at my IPhone screen and felt the impact of her words. Sweet, gentle Manny had died. In a split second I was flooded with tender images of another era in my life, a world before text messaging and driving licenses and husky voices and the smell of man-sweat.
It was a little boy world. When my laundry basket had small blue and white uniforms inside it and the backseat was filled with high pitched laughter and food wrappers, and each morning there was the daily drop-off at St. Mel’s Elementary School, where my boys grew up from kindergarten through eighth grade.
This is the world where I knew Manny.
I’d usually run into Manny on my way back to my car in the mornings. I’d see him pushing his janitor cart in the hallway with his classroom keys dangling loudly on his chain. Or he’d be happily digging among his masses of rose bushes in the front of the school.
“Hey Les,” he’d call out when he saw me coming. “How’s your roses doing?”
Most of the time I didn’t even have roses planted but I’d stop and talk. Because Manny was one of those stable fixtures in your surroundings that makes your world feel normal. Being greeted with his twinkling eyes and his warm smile was part of my life back than, just like the hurried flow of the car pool lane and the Friday morning Masses led by the students.
But Manny was so much more than the school handyman and janitor. He was one of those people that was everyone’s friend. He was a wee-sized man who walked with a slow gait and had vision problems and diabetes but he always seemed to be on his way to fix something. Or to unlock a door for someone. And he’d never miss a moment to stop and chat. To look you in the eye and ask you how you were. To tell you about his secret tip for growing roses ( manure), or his latest marinade for his tri tip steak, which was his pride.
Manny was the reliable softness at a school that was run by up-tight women with stiff smiles. He made hamburgers on Fridays for the kids, and talked with them in the same kind, respectful tone he’d use with adults. Funny how quickly kids can recognize genuineness.
Because the kids loved Manny.
So the other night as I got ready for bed, I texted Patrick to tell him about Manny’s death.
I knew he’d react but I was still caught off guard by his flurry of text messages:
Noooo that’s sooooo sad.
How did he pass?
When’s his funeral?
I would love to have gone.
This is very upsetting, he was one of the nicest people ever.
I can’t find his obituary?.
How do you spell his last name?
I was in bed when he texted me the copy of Manny’s obituary that he’d found.
And then, because I knew he was sad and we were so far apart I texted these words in the dark:
I’m so sorry honey, I know it’s sad. But you can write in his guest book, I did.
The next morning when I woke
I saw a screen shot of his guest book entry he’d sent me at 11: 30 p.m.
Patrick’s words made me stop and think.
He’d been an eighth grader when he last saw Manny but his warm feelings had remained after all these years.
What a lesson.
In this day and age where everyone is trying to connect with the masses through social media, to showcase their wonderful lives on their Facebook page, to capture an audience with interesting, strategized blog posts and to impress followers with clever tweets…
Manny was a lesson about genuine connections.
In a world hung up on defining yourself with a unique brand and projecting a certain image, Manny was a throw-back to a time when you didn’t do things to get noticed.
In the middle of a rushed morning, he stopped and made eye contact. He smiled. He asked about you. He laughed about nothing in particular. He made you slow down long enough to gaze at the beauty of his latest rose bloom. He treated the kids with gentleness.
I thought about Patrick who is now a twenty year old college student living hundreds of miles away. And how he felt jolted by sadness for a man he hadn’t seen in years. I imagined him scanning his IPhone in search of Manny’s obituary while his girlfriend sat nearby. And how he took the time to write in a guest book at 11:30 at night for a school janitor that he never forgot.
Because of his simple kindness.
It’s amazing what we remember in the end.
This post is in honor of Manny. If you would like to sign his guest book please click HERE.
I’m linking up with these friends, please stop by:
Sometimes all it takes is one neon yellow marshmallow bunny to inspire your entire Easter table.
At least that’s what happened to me. I took one look at that Peeps marshmallow package and I instantly knew I wanted a cheery yellow and white tablescape. So this weekend I put together my Easter table and wrote down a few of my tips for adding pretty touches to your table.
Tip One: Find an object that inspires you and gives you a color theme to build your table around.
For my centerpiece I blended white hydrangeas, geraniums and craspedia to make a Spring arrangement. And I used wooden skewers from my kitchen to help position the bunnies inside all those flowers.
Tip 2: For your flower containers use what you have. Transform old pots or metal containers with paint. Or shop thrift stores for interesting baskets and vases.
This centerpiece container was originally a dark green metal thing wasting away in my garage and transformed it with gray and white chalk paint. And I didn’t buy the paint. Lately I’ve been making my own chalk paint with any paint color I happen to have. I use this Plaster of Paris recipe and I’ve had great results with it. I decided a soft, silvery gray would go well with my yellow and white table.
What do you think?
The next decision was the table covering.
Tip 3: On a budget? Use a standard white tablecloth and add color with a fabric remnant or burlap.
Here’s what I made: two “no sew” burlap runners.
When I saw this yellow burlap in the fabric store I knew it was the answer. It was the perfect yellow too. I bought one yard for only $4.00, I laid it on our kitchen island and cut it in half. Than I decided to “dress it up” by adding white stripes on both sides.
I taped off two sections on each piece and used white fabric paint to make my stripe.
The final result? I had two runners that I laid across my long table.
Here’s a photo of one of them.
Each runner had two place settings on it.
Although I loved the yellow and white combo, I decided to add another color for some interest. I had some metal chargers I’d bought a few years ago at a thrift store and I wanted to finally use them.
But first they needed a quick paint job. So what color did I pick?
This is my antique French sideboard that sits in my dining room. I’d painted it a few years ago after I bought it (looking brown and drab) at a garage sale and I thought this turquoise color would go perfectly with yellow and white.
Lucky for me, I put the cap on tightly because this is what I used to make the chalk paint for the chargers.
Tip 4: Paint your chargers to add unexpected color!
One of the benefits of using chalk paint is that you can write on it; these finished chargers could even be used as place cards too, wouldn’t that be a cute idea? Unfortunately, for this photo, I don’t have round, white dinner plates so it’s harder to read the words.
For place cards I decided to use peat moss containers left-over from a French Country luncheon I styled last spring. I bought them all at the Dollar Store where they came in packs of ten for a buck.
Tip 5: Make peat moss place cards
These are so easy to make. The white “lace” is actually the trim from a paper doily. (The doily is folded in half, cut along the lace and than hot glued to the rim of the peat moss container)
I used floral wire for the handle. Just poked a hole on each side and put the wire in, then I wrapped the wire with yellow satin ribbon.
The eggs were purchased at Cost Plus after Easter last year. I sprayed them yellow and used a chalk pen to write the guest’s name.
And of course at a bunny-themed table, all the napkins should resemble what else?
I used vintage glassware--old shot glasses—to hold pastel colored candies.
The mason jars (holding flowers and a Peeps bunny) have two ribbons, lace and yellow and white polka dot.
And the wicker placemats are from Pier One Imports. I buy them whenever they’re on sale because they go with so many different occasions and I’ve got twelve now.
Well, I hope I gave you some ideas you can use for your own table. Here’s some more pretty inspiration too. The most important thing is to enjoy whatever small touches you add, because it’s your energy and thoughtfulness that make it so special.
Oh, and don’t forget the classic egg toss. Because after every Easter dinner you have to have a fun game for the adults too!
Let me know what you think…
I’m linking up with these friends:
Whatever you do today…..
do it with LOVE…
You don’t have to be sitting in a church pew
to reflect on deeper things and
to talk to God.
Whatever you do today… be fully in the moment
so you won’t miss your chance…
to practice kindness with those around you…
to be grateful for the smallest moments in your day…
and to appreciate love and beauty
when it’s right there
in front of you.
(*a few random notes to myself on Palm Sunday)
Don’t you love discovering a new, stylish place to shop?
Especially when it’s filled with unique antique pieces and charming items for your home?
Well, yesterday I finally had a chance to stop by and say “Hi” to my fellow blogger Barbara Bussey, who is the owner of The Treasured Home. And I was so impressed. Seriously, if you’re in the vicinity of Fair Oaks and Sunrise Boulevard you have to pull in and see what Barbara’s done in only three months.
This is her new place.
Don’t you love that black and white striped valance?
Barbara’s got wonderful taste and it’s obvious in the way she decorates her shop. When Kirsten and I walked in, it was all decked for Spring with glorious shades of green everywhere.
Are you looking for something special to create a pretty tablescape? There’s plenty to choose from here. Books, designer placemats, pieces of silver and glassware…
Toile and rich oriental rugs warm up the shop and make it feel cozy.
And I love these oversized lighting fixtures from Ikea, don’t you?
Barbara blends old and new to create such a fun personality for her shop. Psss…ask her about those floors when you stop in, you’ll never believe what they are.
When we arrived Barbara was getting ready to teach one of her painting classes. She’s so busy, running her shop and teaching classes…and on her spare time she’s always on the hunt for something special at flea markets and garage sales.
We stopped in unannounced—my camera in tow-- and she was so gracious and warm.
She has a small studio set up in her shop for her furniture painting classes and it’s a great chance to meet other creative women while learning how to spruce up your latest project.
This is a shot of some of the Maison Blanche (Chalk-Based) and Miss Mustard Seed’s (Milk) paint that she carries in her store.
These pillows initially caught my eye, but then I fell in love with this vintage crib. What a wonderful way to display her pillows…
It was hard to know where to focus my camera…
I wanted to show you all the cool items but there was just too much.
Hmmm… I could see these adorable moss flowers dangling over my Easter dining table…
and nothing makes me happier than seeing a crusty old urn for sale…
I think this chair would look pretty next to my white painted bricks.
Have you been invited to dinner lately?
I think these heart-shaped sachets made with vintage fabric would make a pretty hostess gift.
Besides items for your home, there’s some pretty jewelry displayed in vintage frames filled with chicken wire and hanging on the walls. And while we were there, Kirsten bought a pair of lovely earrings. Kirsten is my friend who seriously cannot pass up a jewelry counter without buying something. (Don’t worry, her hubby never reads this!)
This piece of shabby chic beauty was out front. Now wouldn’t this look great decorated with moss and a bunny for Easter?
I hope you liked my little tour. If you get a chance to visit Barbara, please tell her “Hi” for me!
Right now I’m off to finish some painting. And then I’m working on a few springtime floral arrangements with Kristen for our first little job. Yay!
Here’s where we were yesterday, doesn’t it look like a slice of heaven?
Here’s Kirsten in a thick coat because it’s refrigerated in there!
I’ll keep you posted….
Actress Julianne Moore; currently age 52
on the topic of aging:
“I’ve been asked about aging in Hollywood since I started, I think because I started making movies when I was 30 or 31. So the first question out of everybody’s mouth is ‘what does it feel like to be an older actress working in Hollywood.’ And I keep getting it. And my answer to it always has been that you can’t be anywhere except where you are. I’m 48. I’m going to be 48 until I’m not anymore and then I’ll be 49. And if I spend all my time at 48 wishing that I was 35, I’m not going to experience 48. And I’m not going to play parts I played at 31 either. It’s not going to happen. So I feel like as far as aging is concerned for anybody in their life, at any point… you have to go, ‘this is where I am today, and appreciate it.’ Because none of it lasts very long.”
‘This is where I am today… appreciate it.’
Wow. This is simply a wonderful quote to begin a post about gratitude.
That’s right. Today’s post is about living in the moment and appreciating the body you’ve got right now. Not the body you’ll have in a few months after you lose some weight or firm up that tummy. The body that’s yours right this second.
No more postponing your good feelings.
If that sounds like a foreign concept to you, you’re not alone. Because most of us women view our bodies with a certain detached judgment. In fact, as I write these words, a new survey reports that only 3% of the women in the UK are totally happy with their bodies. Think about that; that’s a lot of discontentment. But seeing our bodies with critical eyes is something we learn early on; our bodies very quickly become things to be pinched and tightened and manipulated by exercise and calories. Our bodies are something we glare at in the mirror, scanning for imperfections.
The sad truth is, most of us don’t feel a tender appreciation for our trusty, dependable body and everything it does for us. And even now after everything I know, I still struggle with this.
But I’m getting better.
In fact, I decided to write this post after I heard an amazing quote about our bodies that I immediately wanted to share with you. And you may find it interesting if:
1. you’re sitting down right now
2. you’re a blogger (lots of sitting)
3. you work all day at your desk
It’s a stunning quote I heard while I was listening to CNN’s Fareed Zakaria’s interview with Dr. David Agus. (You can watch the clip HERE. for his full comment).
Shown here on CBS
For those of you who don’t know, Dr. Agus is the former oncologist for Steve Jobs and author of “The End of Illness.” And his message is largely about preventing illnesses. One of his basic beliefs is in order to fight off diseases as we age we need to keep our bodies moving. A lot.
This is what he said:
I know. It’s pretty shocking. And you can decide for yourself whether you believe this or not.
But this comment was a powerful reminder that my body is like a high functioning machine that needs maintenance and attention in order to perform well. Whatever you might think of this quote, his larger message forces you to have a different perspective about exercise.
Exercise is no longer that dreaded thing-to-do in order to weigh a certain number on the scale.
Helen Mirren: age 67
Instead, we want to keep our bodies moving because we love how we feel inside a healthy, strong body. We want to feed our bodies fruits and vegetables because we love feeling energetic.
Do you see the difference?
Do you see how much easier it is to be nicer to your body when you’re not focused on how it looks?
But rather…how it performs for you?
Here’s my latest Gratitude List.
Four Nice Things To Do For My Body:
1. Start the day with a positive affirmation
2. Drink a delicious ‘green’ smoothie
3. Pick a parking space that’s far away
4. Go for a long walk or run –preferably with your dog.
These are four easy things I’m doing right now, feel free to join me.
Kristen Scott Thomas currently age 52
But do these things… NOT because you’ll look ten years younger or because you want to look like Julianne Moore or some other beautiful woman.
Do these things because living a grateful life means living in the present. It means focusing on what you have and not what you don’t have; it means making peace with the natural parts of aging so you can relish every gorgeous detail of your life today.
Here’s a personal example.
Recently I was sitting in my car at a stoplight when I glanced at my hands on the steering wheel. My first random thought was, “Wow, look at my hands. My fingers used to look so long and slender…no wrinkles around my knuckles. Nice, smooth hands…and now look at them. What happened?!”
But I caught myself.
And instead of staying in that mindset and focusing on how old my hands looked, I began to think about what my hands actually do.
That’s right. I thought of all the beautiful things my hands have done for me. I looked at them and I tried to imagine how many little shoelaces my fingers have tied in my lifetime. I wondered how many book pages my fingers have turned. I thought of the first time my hands ever held my infants at the hospital, and I flashed back on all those times I scooped my boys up and plopped them on my hips. That was a whole lot of scooping.
I thought about holding hands, and cooking fantastic meals and laying bricks and planting flowers. And suddenly I knew why my hands looked more worn.
And the strangest thing happened. The harsh judgment I’d felt just seconds ago?
It drifted off. And in it’s place was a tiny surge of tenderness for these valuable hands of mine. Funny how I immediately wanted to put lotion on, and take better care of them.
Although I also know this. I can sleep every night with my hands wrapped inside expensive spa mitts and slathered with creams and they’ll never look like my twenty-year old hands.
Because the simple fact is: I’m not twenty years old.
I hope you find time to do something nice for your body today. Maybe even something on my gratitude list. A walk in the sun, maybe?
Right now I’m headed out with my jogging partner.
This is Stella, she’s waiting for me…
I hope you have a wonderful day, my friends!
If you get a moment, I’d love to hear your thoughts.
I’m linking this post up with these friends: