Saturday, October 31, 2015

October 31, 2015: My Ordinary Day

I saw this dress in the window in Katina's after date night last week. A buy.
Well, where do I even start to describe my ordinary days of late? I always say the 'unbloggable stories' are the best. But I will let sleeping dogs lie. At least, for now. Today's blog will encompass the simple things in life that bring the real enjoyment we all yearn.

Let's start with my new dress. This may seem very 'vanilla' to most, but a good day for me can later be defined to include a particular dress or pair of boots. My guilty indulgence.

I just had this conversation over coffee with a couple of co-workers. They had complimented me on my dress of the day and accompanying jewelry. Flattered and happy with their positive comments, I shared with them my love for all things fun and wearable.

Together we discussed how we all 'have our thing'. For my husband this is high-tech machines; bikes, technology, and anything mechanical in nature. He also has a close affinity to Sports Authority.

For my co-workers the list included good perfume in wide varieties and a collection of fanciful eye wear. Jackets were also discussed, as well as cooking gadgets and books.

We all smiled reflecting on these little treasures that we have each individually come to appreciate.

My husband's weakness has it's benefits for me. I am now sporting a new Microsoft Band, just released yesterday. He bought two on it's release day. One for me and one for him. I will now be able to accurately record by close of night how many steps I walked and number of calories burned; as well as my current heart rate.

Text messages, weather, and other on-line updates are now showing up on my wrist with no need for me to glance at my phone. By morning, I will be able to give you all the stats on my night's sleep. All this and more for a girl with only an eye for a great new dress. Thank-you, Garrett.

Dinner tonight at Sullivan's stemmed from my desire to find an excuse to wear my new dress of note. A trip to the Durham Western Heritage Museum just prior to our dinner reservation got us out of West Omaha and into a venue new to my husband.

Another guilty indulgence of mine. I love to be entertained and I love the arts. This is a bit new to my techie husband. He used to refer to our casual outings to museums and shows as his 'getting cultured' by me. Six years later, he now equally enjoys them.

A week ago, he laughed by my side throughout the entire Broadway production of "Kinky Boots". The wildlife photography exhibit at the Durham was well worth the extra hour we allowed ourselves before dinner. And all with my MS Band giving me an update on my steps walked and a reminder of our dinner reservation fifteen minutes out.

What a team we have become. Technology and linear thinking meets art and monkeys in the brain. A match made in Heaven.

Dinner was spectacular, by the way. Full of great conversation and rehashing of our last few years together. Many lessons have been learned with a focus on how we best chart out our future course. And for the record, we both still believe in red meat, red wine, and room for desert.

A great night to break out my new dress.

Saturday, October 17, 2015

October 18, 2015: Guys in White Hats


Over dinner last night, Garrett asked why I was tearful at the end of the movie we had just seen.

After a slight pause and a little thought, I summed it up simply.

"I'm such a sucker for the good guys."

Yep, that's me. I love the guys and gals in the white hats. And I find myself a tireless fighter against the bullies of the world. This was once coined to me as my 'sweet and salty' personality. I'm not quite sure if this is the proper description, but I'll take it.

Bullies have always caused the hair to stand up on my neck. In fact, as I reflected on the white and the black hats of the world, I thought of an old blog post reiterating stories of my youth and college years when I took on the bad guys (at least those who I thought were the bad guys). One was a college encounter and the other a childhood memory outside of Remsen St. Mary's grade school.
http://sandyalanedays.blogspot.com/2013/08/august-25-2013-cletus-story.html

And then about twelve years ago, I attended the funeral of a friend's father. A farmer in a rural Nebraska community, the priest described this highly ethical and upstanding man as 'one of guys riding the horse while wearing the white cowboy hat'. He went on to describe this farmer who led with character and treated those around him with all that was represented by the guys in the world who wear the white hats. This simple analogy has always stuck with me.

Around the same time, my mom gave me 'the talk' on how not all people who walk this earth have good in them. I argued with Mom, trying to convince her that all people had some good in them. I felt that it was up to the good people to bring out the best in others, even those who wear the black hats. Mom was stern with her Pollyanna daughter.

"No, Sandy. Unfortunately there are bad people in the world with ill intent. It isn't your job to bring out their good. In fact, they will likely use you while you try to the achieve the impossible. And as much as you don't want to accept this, there are just some plain bad people in the world."

Like a cold bucket of water poured over my head, it caused me to be better understand that there were clearly those who wore white hats and those who wore black hats; and then the many in between.

My mom was rarely wrong.

So what got me at the movie today? The movie was Tom Hank's new flick, Bridge of Spies (very good, by the way). There was a point in the movie where a young American spy professed his innocence to Tom Hanks as others questioned his loyalty to his country. Two characters in white hats were in the public spotlight.

Tom's answer was simple, but hit home.

"It doesn't matter what people think. You've done nothing wrong."

The other person in my life who is rarely wrong, my dad, gave me similar advice some years back.

"Don't defend yourself, Sandy, if you've done nothing wrong."

Sounds like an easy feat, but not that easy for me. I work hard to wear a white hat, so feel blemished when hints of doubt cloud my own character.

A lot can be learned from these wise words. Sometimes actions with pure intent are misconstrued by those from the outside. Fighting bad guys is not for the faint of heart. And people will judge. Even those wearing white hats. It's a flaw of being human.

The truth always seems to make its way around in due time. And if it doesn't, so be it. There really is only one ultimate judge in our lives, and He doesn't roam the earth.

I won't give away the ending to the movie, other than to say that Tom Hanks was a smart man in his words and actions. And, yes, I really am a HUGE sucker for the good guys.


October 17, 2015: Good Morning, Boise!

Relaxing over a beer while watching the stunning Coeur d'Alene sunset

We are in Boise now. Our fifth city visited and with our fifth hotel check-in last night.

From last Sunday, we have covered 856 miles in our rental car. Our start was in Missoula, Montana. Tomorrow our adventure will end with a flight home out of Boise, Idaho. And what a fun adventure it's been.

I have been reminded that the best travel companions are those who share common interests while putting up with the other's individual quirkiness. Garrett fulfills both of these requirements.

Case in point. We are right now sitting in a laundromat on the 'outskirts' of downtown Boise (i.e. a little suspect). Sipping our Starbucks, with my purse filled with $20 in quarters, we wait for the wash cycle to finish to move on to the dry cycle. I like to go home with clean clothes. My quirk.

Garrett has humored me in walking across downtown Boise with a roller bag filled with dirty clothes. I am sure we resembled a homeless couple as we made this walk of shame.

But no worries on appearances. I am a mere hour away from having my luggage filled with my guilty pleasure of folded cleanliness. Unfortunately our hotel only had an outside laundry service. Thank-you Google for guiding us to this shady spot smelling of Downy freshness.

Last night was my turn to be the good travel companion. With seats at the bar of a local brewery, we were within eye shot of every televised football game. My husband loves sports. And I am always right by his side, never taking offense to a dinner that includes the third guest in our party of a big screen TV. Perhaps three sons have trained me well for this important role.  

I'm not complaining. I like it. Following the local teams at the local bars and pubs is fun. Unfortunately Boise State had a rough night this go around. Texts and Twitter updates also kept me up-to-date on my favorite football team back home, Skutt Catholic. Another sad loss for our Friday night football favorites. Fortunately our beer sampling and pizza were excellent. They made the pain of these losses much more manageable.

Commonality and quirks. Just what real life is all about. Garrett and I will hit our second movie of this trip this afternoon. We love movies. My ever-planner husband has the tickets already purchased with seats awaiting our arrival.

We have enjoyed all the outdoors we could take in over the last five days. With scenic hikes and walks, we have seen God's glorious fall paintbrush canvasing this part of the world. Once we complete our laundry, next on the list is to walk Boise and check out the local life.

As my favorite travel companion waits patiently next to me with iPad in hand and the lulling hum of the dryers in the background, let the good times continue.



Sunday, October 11, 2015

October 11, 2015: The Days in Between


Today may seem like a normal day to most. For me it carries some special significance. With a little research and reflection, I was reminded of a similar fall day six years ago. The day was a Sunday. It was the eleventh of October. The year was 2009.

I was in the middle of a divorce and in Denver to attend a weekend conference. I flew in on Saturday the 10th, and woke up to what seemed to be a very ordinary Sunday. Getting used to a new ‘aloneness’ with my three young boys now away from me every other weekend, Denver was a welcome reprieve from the quiet of my home.

The conference was on healthcare. The Sunday presentation was on healthcare technology. And the speaker was Garrett Brucker.

Like today, the Broncos were the featured afternoon NFL game. Introducing myself to the presenter, Garrett and I exchanged pleasantries in the conference hotel bar with the Broncos playing on the background screens.

Today I called Garrett from the Omaha airport reminding him of our football beginnings. The Broncos were trailing the Raiders overhead as I basked in this reflection. Peyton’s yelling ‘Omaha, Omaha’ was an irony worthy of a smile.

Fast forward six years. My mind is swarming in warm thoughts of our days in between and my thankfulness for God’s continued blessings. Much has happened in a six year span.

Life has filled our days with both struggles and happiness. Bad decisions, as well as great luck, are abound. But with each day, we grow as a couple and do our best to keep perspective and purity of motive. We challenge each other daily in our faith and decision-making.

Kids have grown up. Kids have moved away. As parents, we have gone through heartbreak and joy. Together we've dealt with the struggles of single parenting, co-parenting, and step-parenting. Not for the faint of heart. But we’ve done it.

We’ve made mistakes. We’ve celebrated the accomplishments of our combined children and each other. And frankly, we’ve survived. With each tough decision and milestone, we’ve grown closer.

Together we climb mountains, battle bad guys, have seen amazing sites and gained many new wonderful friends along the way. As a couple, we enjoy the simple blessings in everyday life.

My job is to make Garrett laugh. His is to keep me in check. My theory is that a little laughter makes a tough world lighter. And his daily gift of morning coffee gets my butt out of bed. The last text I received while walking out the door in route to the airport was asking whether I packed my vitamins. My accountability partner never takes a day off.

Our much needed week off together begins on a day when it all began. And I thank God every day for the blessing of my caring and sweet husband. A man of integrity. Our fun days in between are just frosting on the cake.

Live. Laugh. Love. Can it get any better?

Let our vacation week begin. I am anxious to hear how the Broncos did (on an airplane with no internet). And, yes, I did remember my vitamins.