Yes!!! Why Not??!

Ohhh Emmm Geee, has it really been 2 months since I last wrote a blog post???! It seems hard to believe, but yeah it has been 2 months and 2 days since I sat down to share with you the adventurous, sometimes mundane, details of my existence. Life has been good, very, very good. My New Year resolution to make this my year of yes Three Weeks and A Day has led to one of the best Summers I have had in a while.
I have said yes to every invitation to hang out, even if I didn’t feel like it, I made myself do all kinds of stuff I wasn’t in the mood for, like hitting the gym, 5 to 6 days a week, even if it was pouring rain outside; and when my son came to me, out of the blue, with what I initially thought of as a ludicrous idea of wanting to pursue a modeling career, instead of my knee-jerk reaction of, “That’s crazy, go focus on your academics instead.” I, instead, said, “Sure, why not?” and immediately started the groundwork needed to get him started in the industry.

All that yes-ing has been taking away from the time needed to do other things, like my writing, with only 24 hours in the day, obviously, something will fall through the cracks. The important thing is that I didn’t abandon my blog, even though it as taken me 2 months to sit down and write again. The good thing is that the yes-ing has created new stories for me to share and that, in my opinion, is always a plus.

My fifteen-year-old, I have written about him several times, MILF, recently decided that he wants to put his 6’3 height to use and model. I was a bit taken aback since he has never ever expressed any desire to do anything like that before. First, I asked, “Why?” and he said,”It’s something I just want to try.” He maintains that if he is successful then he can make some money to help fund his college education. Of course, he had me at “college education.” So, I did a little bit of internet research and spoke to a few people, then hired my wedding photographer turned friend, Carmen, to do a photoshoot of my son and the results were fantastic. Turns out my boy does have some model appeal. He was a natural in front of the camera and even Carmen, who has been photographing people professionally all her adult life, was amazed at the ease in which Blake worked and his level of comfort and confidence in front of the camera.

Not sure where this desire of his will go, or if it will even go anywhere but I am doing my part as his mother and encouraging this pursuit. If it works, then fantastic, if nothing comes of it then I hope his disappointment, if any, will be short-lived. I am just happy that he decided on his own, without any input from me, to chase a dream.

The Summer of yes has also brought with it a myriad of social activities – too much hanging out, eating and drinking, has me gaining back 4 of the total 27 pounds I had lost before the Summer rolled around. Notwithstanding my gallant efforts to lose those nagging 4 pounds and to continue my weight loss journey towards my goal weight, which is now 12 pounds away, I just can’t seem to say no to the dinner and drinks invitations. I am trying though and I have not given up on the hope that I will get to my goal weight before the year ends.

I love live music and performances so I have made it a Summer of concerts and shows. Usually, I am a bit hesitant to shell out my hard-earned money on some of these overpriced concert tickets but this Summer I treated myself to a few artists I have always wanted to see perform live. I had the pleasure of seeing JLo do her thing, Aziz Ansari (a comedian), Billy Idol and Bryan Adams, who were on the same ticket, and most recently Lenny Kravitz, who I swooned over the entire time.

At the beginning of the JLo concert, right in the middle of Jennifer’s third or fourth song, the lights in Madison Square Garden went out. When her microphone suddenly went dead and the lights went off, I thought, “Dear God, I hope this isn’t a terrorist attack.” However, before my mind had time to go to town with that idea, the back-up generators at MSG kicked on and we were informed that we had to evacuate the arena. By then, my girlfriend, who was seated next to me, got a text from her husband informing her that the entire West Side of Manhattan was experiencing a power outage. Even though I was disappointed that the concert had to end abruptly I was relieved that it was only a blackout.

I was among the 25,000 attendees, who had to be evacuated from Madison Square Garden when the lights went out at the beginning of the JLo concert on July 13th, but I was only one of a few, who was interviewed by the local news about their blackout experience. 😁

I am yet to see the clip of my 10-second interview but a few people reached out to me and told me they saw it. My immediate question to each person was, “Did I make a complete fool of myself?” After all, I did have a couple of drinks earlier that night, but the general consensus was that I sounded “intelligent” and most importantly I looked “great”. πŸ˜‰

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Moments before the lights went out at the JLo Concert – July 13, 2019 – #nycblackout2019

My Summer of yes has also brought with it some physical changes – not major changes but subtle changes – like when my hairstylist of the past 7 years suggested I try a different look this Summer. I hesitated at first but then reminded myself that change is good and told her to go for it.

When she first spun me around in her chair, after creating my new hairstyle, I liked the look but all the confidence I had leaving the salon was sucked out of me when I walked through my front door and my husband took one look at me and exclaimed, “Oh no…What did you do?”

“Trying a different look. Do you like it?”

“Not really!” was the honest reply.

So funny how the opinions of others, that we value, can have us doubting ourselves. I kept my “new do” for only 2 weeks, even though I had planned to rock it for the remainder of the Summer. Truth is, my husband is a simple man, who pretty much likes everything about me, nothing that I do really bothers him, but he truly wasn’t feeling my new look so I got rid of it much quicker than I had planned to and went back to the tried and true and that made him a happy man.

Perhaps the best experience of Summer 2019, was watching my former paralegal turned dear friend, Kerese, give birth to her first child. When I arrived at the hospital she was already in labor. Kerese had asked me beforehand to photograph the experience, maybe even make a video and I said, “Yes, of course!” I assured her that if hospital personnel would allow me into the delivery room it was a done deal. Well, it must have been my lucky day since no questions were asked when I waltzed into the delivery room, camera in hand ready to document the birth of my God-daughter.

What I wasn’t prepared for was the trauma of it all. I had never seen anyone give birth in my entire life, and despite having given birth myself, it’s a totally different experience when you’re on the other side watching it unfold with every breathless push by the Mom in labor. Whoa!!!!

It was brutal! I was in actual tears when she started crowning. It wasn’t an easy delivery, because my friend was too tired to push after a while, but she did it though. It took longer than anticipated but she gave everything she got and through lots of tears, screaming and scratching at her husband’s arms, my friend gave birth to her precious baby girl, Alexandria. It was an amazing, traumatic, breathtaking, bloody, magnificent, stomach-churning experience, all rolled into one, and I am still blown away by the miracle of it all.

There you have it, folks, I didn’t abandon my blog, I was too busy “doing”, “being” and generally just “living”. My unintentional hiatus brought with it a myriad of stories that I look forward to sharing even more of in future blog posts.

Thanks for sticking around and waiting for me to come back, and an even bigger thank you for reading. If you’ve enjoyed this post, don’t be shy, go ahead and hit the “like” button and leave a comment below.

If you haven’t yet subscribed to my blog, http://www.racquelwrites.com, please do so. I promise you won’t be disappointed.

The Weekend That Was!

Last weekend my husband and I flew out to Salt Lake City, Utah for our friends’ wedding. Initially, I really didn’t think there’d be much to see or do in Utah since I am one of those New Yorkers, who feel like NYC is the epicenter of the World, so I really wasn’t expecting much but farmland and wide, open spaces in Utah, but we were in for a big surprise.

Our first observation after we collected our rental car and drove to our hotel was that it was a Thursday afternoon and there was zero traffic on the highways, like none. Where was everyone in the middle of the day? At work, perhaps. New Yorkers work too but there is always unjustified traffic to fight and curse at on any given day or night in NYC. Always! We were pleasantly surprised by the lack of traffic in Salt Lake City, we arrived on Thursday and left on Monday, drove everywhere, and not once did we encounter any traffic; and get this? We even visited downtown, Salt Lake City, twice, and both times we effortlessly found parking.

As we drove to our hotel we were struck by the gorgeous mountains that served as the backdrop to the city. We observed “white stuff” on the peak of the mountains and we wondered could that possibly be snow? I mean it is the end of June, the first official day of Summer was upon us that couldn’t possibly be snow; but sure enough, it was.

A few days later we had the opportunity to take a drive up one of those mountains and experience the beauty of Summer snow-capped mountains live and in living color. Oh, what a sight that was! Absolutely picturesque!

Bold Mountain, Utah – Both these pictures were taken on June 22, 2019.

Utah is apparently known for its snow. I later read that Utah has the best snow on Earth because it has the perfect balance of wetness and fluffiness. Who knew?! I also learned that Utah gets an average of 18 snowstorms per year, averaging 551 inches, thus it takes forever and a day for the snow to melt from the peak of the mountains, hence the beautiful snow-capped mountains in June, which may very well last all the way into July. It was indeed a sight to behold!

The only thing I knew about Utah, prior to my visit, was that they were the home of the religious sect called the Mormons and that some (not all) Mormons practiced polygamy, which I find intriguing.

We did a bit of sightseeing tour of the Mormon Temple, which was pretty impressive. The architecture of the Temple was intricate and stunning. The erection of the Salt Lake City Temple began in 1846 and took 40 years to complete. I couldn’t help thinking that these masons and builders were way ahead of their time in the construction of such an architectural masterpiece. The pictures below do not do justice to the beauty of the Temple.

On the Temple property, there were also bold, elaborate sculptures that depicted the story of Oliver Cowdery and Joseph Smith, the founder, and creator of the Mormon Church, and who it has been said, was anointed by the Apostles Peter, James, and John to carry on the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ.

The Mormons, or members of the Church of Latter Day Saints, as they preferred to be called these days are a friendly bunch, who will eagerly give you a tour of their Temple while providing a synopsis of the teachings of their doctrines. I was even gifted with a copy of The Book of Mormon, which I actually plan to read someday.

Greg, my husband, and I quickly learned that when in Utah, one must hike. Utah is known for its’ parks, canyons and its’ epic mountainous trails so when we were invited on a hike, which we were told comprised of an “easy trail” we jumped at the opportunity.

Oh my gosh! The trail was not an “easy” one, it consisted of nothing but uphill climbs, and as fit as I think I am, especially since I have been working out consistently all my life, I quickly realized, only 10 minutes into the hike, that no amount of time spent in the gym could have prepared me for this real mountain hike. I was breathless and damn near dying just a fraction of a mile in.

Since the trail had been described as “easy”, I was expecting some flat paths coupled with climbs, not just uphill, treacherous climbs. I am not ashamed to admit that I quit the 4.8 miles, 4,141 feet ascent to the peak of the mountain, after only going a mile up. As the air got thinner, I found myself out of breath and petrified of falling and hitting my head on one of the rocks. I shamelessly threw in the gauntlet and told my husband to continue without me, and while I waited for him to return, I surveyed the beauty around me, took out my phone and took endless pictures of the Bell Canyon Trail, especially since I would never see this place again, because I know without a shadow of a doubt that I will never embark on an uphill mountain hike ever again in this lifetime.

The lawyer in me wanted to visit the Courthouses downtown, Salt Lake City in order to observe the daily proceedings and to get a sense of the type of cases being heard, but my husband wasn’t having it. He told me in no uncertain terms he wasn’t at all interested in “that stuff” so I had to settle for a visit to the Capitol Building instead, where the legislators and lawmakers conducted their business. We didn’t get to go inside, which of course I wanted to do, but our time was limited, so we settled for a tour of the grounds and some snapshots instead.

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On our second night in Utah, we went to a party on the Park City hip strip. We were late and as we parked the rental, as such we didn’t properly observe the parking instructions because we were too busy trying to get inside and rejoicing at how close a parking spot we found to the party’s venue.

At the end of the party, we returned to our car to find a parking ticket. We hadn’t realized that we should have walked to the end of the block and feed the meter. As we contemplated the expense of the parking ticket, especially since we were used to the astronomical parking violation fines of good ole New York City, we realized that we were being let off with a “warning”. The great city of Park City, Utah, decided not to charge us for our violation but instead waived the fine with a notice that read “Don’t worry this one is on us”. Incredible!!!! Can you believe it?! I think it was that moment that we fell in love with Utah!

Our mini vacay to Utah was one of the best getaways we’ve had. We enjoyed the warmth and friendliness of the people, the overall beauty of the State and how very clean the place was. It was hard to find a stray piece of paper on the ground anywhere.

It was interesting and fun learning the facts and history of Utah, enlighting myself about what made them special and even finding out that Butch Cassidy is a real person from Utah. Did you know that? I didn’t!

Who remembers the classic Paul Newman movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid? I thought it was just a fictional portrayal of outlaws and bank robberies. It took visiting Utah to learn that Butch Cassidy was a real-life person born and bred in the great state of Utah, and may even arguably be the most famous Utahn to date. Then again everyone knows of Marie and Donny Osmond, and apparently, they are from Utah too, I didn’t know that. Did you?

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Like what you’ve just read? Please let me know by hitting the like button and leaving your thoughts in the comment section. Oh, and don’t forget to follow/subscribe to my Blog, http://www.racquelwrites.com. Thanks! πŸ’•

7 Random Things About Me!

Who doesn’t like awards and the recognition from their peers that they are deserving of such awards?! My fellow Bloggers seem to believe I am a versatile blogger since in recent months I have been nominated a few times by various bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award.

How the Versatile Blogger Award works is that once nominated one has to share 7 things about yourself with your readers. Since I started my Blog in July, 2018 I have shared quite a lot about myself Ask Me Anything – The Answers (Part One) and Ask Me Anything – The Answers (Part 2) and yet I am still concerned about oversharing BLOGGING FEARS so I am not entirely sure what else, if anything, I’d like you all to know about me but I’ll have a go at the nomination anyway.

So without further ado, here are 7 totally random bits of information about me:

1. I recently lost 18 pounds! It’s surprising to me that my 18 lb weight loss doesn’t really show that much. I think 18 lbs is a lot so I figured everyone would have noticed that I am shrinking but not really. A few people have noticed and commented but in the grand scheme of things not as many as I had hoped. In any event, I am extremely proud of myself for having the discipline to have lost some weight and I am super excited about getting to my desired weight goal. When I first started my weight loss program I told myself that I would write a blog post about it once I lost the first 20 pounds; so who knows there might be a weight loss blog post coming next week.

2. I blog about my husband and my son a lot, but there are 2 other important people in my World who are among my favorites – my mother and my brother. Both my Mom and my brother think I overshare on my blog so despite my admiration for and the fact that I would love to write about them, I am fearful of doing so because I don’t want to inadvertently trample on their privacy.

3. I sometimes feel burdened being the matriarch in the household. Why should I be responsible for what everyone eats on a daily basis? I get so annoyed at the beginning of the week when I have to meal plan or figure out what dinner is going to be for the next few days. The flip side of that, however, is I recently discovered that I actually enjoy cooking and trying out new recipes (psst; don’t tell my husband πŸ˜ƒ). Three weeks ago I made Lasagna for the first time and it was to die for. I am so excited to make it again, among trying other new dishes.

4. I am not impressed by how much money you have, the size of your house or what you do for a living. In fact, I get turned off by people who believe that such things define an individual. I am impressed by character. Are you loyal? Do you have integrity? Are you personable? Are you a pleasure to be around? Those are the things that impress me. The size of your wallet or bank account does not make a difference to me if your personality is lacking.

5. I like watching pimple popping YouTube videos. There, I said it! It’s so gross and disgusting but I inexplicably and weirdly derive some satisfaction from watching all that “stuff” ooze out of the pimple or cyst once it pops. I can’t explain why I enjoy these videos so much, I just do. I find them oddly relaxing and apparently 4,999,999 other people do too since Dr. Sandra Lee aka Dr. Pimple Popper has 5 million subscribers to her YouTube channel alone, this doesn’t even include her Instagram and Facebook pages.

6. People who tell me they have no friends scare me. I am of the view that in order to have a friend you have to at least be a friend so if you don’t have even one friend then there has to be something amiss about your personality. When it comes to friends and friendships quality trumps quantity; so for someone to say they don’t have any friends, not even one, makes me wonder about them, and all I can do is raise my eyebrows and think to myself what the hell is wrong with that person that s/he doesn’t have even one friend.

7. I have a brand new niece. I haven’t met her yet but I love her. When I saw her pictures I immediately fell in love. She is only a few weeks old, and looking at her pictures makes me wish I, myself, could have a daughter. Meet Sonia Christina…..

The Art of Conversation – Part 2

Have you ever met someone and knew for sure you wouldn’t like them? The first time I came across a blog post by http://bottomlesscoffee007.com I was so sure the post was written by someone I could never like. His views didn’t align with mine at all and he was harsh in his criticism of “the other side”; and since I am here (on WordPress) for some lighthearted conversation and humor, I stopped myself from leaving a commentary with my opposing views and just moved along to someone else’s blog post.

It was only a couple of days later when BottomlessCoffee007 showed up again. This time he was in the comment section of my blog post. I rolled my eyes when I first got the notification that he had left a comment on one of my posts. What did he have to say about what I had written? As luck would have it he had left a humorous comment. I chuckled as I read it and then I replied. A few minutes later I got a notification that he was now “following” my Blog and since I am a big advocate of reciprocity I followed him back and that was how 007 and I started.

He would show up in my Inbox daily, sometimes twice or thrice with his controversial opinions, arguments, and rants. Admittedly, his pieces were thought-provoking and gave rise to discourse, even though they were views I didn’t readily share. I eventually started commenting on some of his posts and lo and behold he wasn’t miffed whenever I didn’t agree with him, which happens frequently.πŸ˜ƒ We would oftentimes go back and forth several times on just one of his post and in the end, we would always agree to disagree.

I came to admire the manner in which he wrote his pieces and invited dialogue. He addresses every issue you put forth before him and he is never obnoxious in his response to your comments even when you have opposing views. It’s surprising to me that 007 has become one of my favorites on WordPress, despite his controversy, and I am learning to embrace our differences.

007’s blog has taken on a life of its own and now he even has his very own Podcast, which has risen in popularity in only a few months. I am honored to have been the first Blogger he interviewed on his Podcast back in December. You can listen to that interview here: The Art of Conversation. We recently switched seats and he allowed me to interview him, in an effort to have his readers learn more about him. It was truly an interesting and fun conversation that lasted over an hour and forty-five minutes. If you’re interested in listening the link appears below. I promise you won’t be bored.

What 007 has taught me in this extremely divisive climate that we live in is that we don’t have to see eye to eye to get along. If we would only pause and listen, I mean really listen, to others who do not share the same perspectives and views as us we could possibly learn something; and not because we are not on similar sides of the coin it doesn’t mean we can’t have a decent conversation punctuated with a few deep down, genuine, belly laughs.

https://bottomlesscoffee007.com/2019/02/05/the-voice-behind-the-keyboard-racquel-interviews-bc007-tidepodcast-episode-52/

Photo courtesy of StockSnap.io (This is how I imagine 007 as a kid screaming his rants into the microphone πŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒπŸ˜ƒ).

WordPress – The Experience!

Wait! What?! Why am I in your inbox again when I was here only 2 days ago. My readers know me as a weekly Blogger so why am I showing up again??!!

I admire those who make the time to blog daily, sometimes even several times a day, but I always thought I just don’t have the time or enough topics of interest to blog with such frequency. However, I have laid down the gauntlet and issued a personal challenge for myself. I have decided to end the year with a bang by completing 30 blog posts by December 31st, this is blog post # 24.

My first blog post was on July 14, 2018, and so far I have posted an average of once per week. Considering that I get bored with things easily I think there is something to be said about the fact that I have been able to maintain my Blog with some amount of consistency. I am rather proud of myself and I hope to continue the pace well into 2019.

WordPress has been a wonderful yet daunting place. I like to reciprocate so I read posts by other Bloggers who take the time to read my own. I follow those who follow me and I always “like” and “comment” on those posts I find fun and or interesting. All of this reciprocity does take time though and sometimes I find myself on WordPress for hours, which can be daunting when you have a ton of work to do, the type of work you get paid for, and let’s face it with only 24 hours in the day, and since I’m a girl who needs to get her beauty sleep, finding the time to search out new bloggers and read their well-written, interesting posts can be formidable when considering time constraints.

WordPress, however, has brought with it new “friends”. The anonymity on the site is real so half the people I don’t even know by their real names or what they look like, but what we do share is a desire to write and share our personal thoughts. We also like the validation of being “read” and for the most part the interaction with others, especially those who share our opinions, makes WordPress a fun place to escape to.

From the very beginning, there have been people I just clicked with and connected with, some even have differing views and opinions from mine but they are open to discussion and it is always good gaining another perspective, especially when it’s done in a non-confrontational manner.

I would never have thought when I created my Blog that I would have had this decent a connection with other WordPress users, when you think about it, I really didn’t even know what to expect. I mean there are people on here who actually look forward to my posts, that just blows my mind; and if I am late with posting I get an email inquiring about my whereabouts. Do you know how good that feels?! It’s awesome! Similarly, if a few of my “peeps” are off the grid for a couple of days, especially if they are daily bloggers I actually miss them and I wonder about them.

Recently I have had the privilege and pleasure of meeting in real life someone I connected with on WordPress. Yes, this actually happened. Heather and I first connected not on her Blog or even my own, but on someone else’s in the comment section when we both shared a similar opinion that one can, in fact, write a successful Blog about one own’s life, with general stories and anecdotes without a running theme. The writer of that particular Blog didn’t agree and Heather and I bonded over the fact that we “disagreed” with Mr. KnowItAll. Soon we had subscribed to each other’s Blogs and the rest as they say is history.

Heather has become an avid reader of mine and I don’t think she has missed even one of my posts. I try to do the same but I am pretty sure I have missed a couple of hers. Heather is a beauty blogger and self-proclaimed Avon Lady. Her posts are interesting and chock full of beauty tips that actually work. Like, who knew we were using hairpins incorrectly all along.πŸ˜ƒ I have learned a lot from Heather and just last night I learned that eyelash curlers are not a thing of the past and that one can actually perm one’s eyelashes. Who knew?!

Heather and I took our communication off of WordPress only a couple of weeks after “meeting” and started doing regular email exchanges. She is funny and sweet, even though she doesn’t seem to think so. She is an excellent writer and can hold my interest even when writing about the most mundane subjects such as hairpins and what kind of rags to bring while traveling.😁

Heather is also a technical whiz and I have often called on her to assist me with WordPress technical stuff. I am a writer, not a techie, even though I am quickly learning that these days both things go hand in hand, especially around here.

Heather lives in Oregon and recently visited New York City with her husband. We planned a double date (with our spouses) months in advance of her trip and by golly we actually made it happen. We dined at the trendy Tao restaurant and it was a fun, festive evening filled with good conversation and laughter. My husband, who is the complete opposite of me, and frowns upon social media and meeting strangers therefrom actually enjoyed meeting Heather and her husband.

WordPress has turned out to be a pretty interesting place. I never really considered it a social media platform, but I guess it is. I have discovered a whole new world of adventurous, mysterious, entertaining cohorts, which, in my opinion, is so very cool.

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Heather and I.

Birthday Shenanigans

It was a stabbing pain to the left side of my forehead, my temple throbbed, as I opened my eyes and blinked and tried to focus on my husband, who was standing at the side of our bed with a tray in his hand.

“Wake up…It’s your birthday breakfast, Sweetie.” He said as he smiled and handed me the tray with the plate of bacon and eggs. “It’s your favorite.”

The left side of my head was throbbing unmercilessly. “My head hurts…Noooooo…Not today…Babe…Motrin, now, please.” I rubbed the left side of my forehead as I sat up in bed.

I couldn’t figure out why today of all days, on my birthday, I woke up with a headache. I was not amused as I looked up at the ceiling and issued a warning to the imaginary Gods of the Universe. “Today is my day and you’re not going to screw with it. I will enjoy MY day!”

Damn, I’m Determined

My husband suggested that it might be the “wine from last night” that was causing my headache. My thoughts went back to the night before; we certainly started the birthday celebrations off with a bang. Greg, my husband, took me to see the Donna Summer Musical on Broadway, which was excellent. I was singing and dancing with the rest of the audience, especially with the gay couple who sat directly in front of us and who were having the time of their lives. By the end of the night, one half of the gay couple and I found ourselves in the aisle of the Lunt-Fontanne Theater dancing up a storm to Hot Stuff and Last Dance. Oh, what a fun time it was!

After we left the show we walked the 6 blocks to Gallagher’s Steakhouse, me in my high heels strutting my stuff pretending not to feel the start of the inevitable high heel ache that comes on after a few hours of wearing stilettos. Oh, how I miss my youth! I used to be able to rock those babies all night long; but not anymore. I made a mental note to slip into my sandals as soon as we sat down in the restaurant, but for now, the birthday girl in her birthday outfit needed to keep moving along gracefully in those 5-inch heels. Yes, people, I walked 6 NYC blocks in 5-inch heels! My Mom always said, “Beauty feels no pain.” Someone should have added to that saying “until the next day.”

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The high heel wearing ache was nothing compared to the migraine that was trying to force me to spend my birthday in bed. I wasn’t having it though, I swallowed some Motrin and hopped out of bed and started getting ready for the gym. Greg thought I was crazy. I tried explaining that for the past decade I have been going to the gym on my birthday every year and I wasn’t about to break the tradition. Besides, my gym gave away a free protein shake to everyone on their birthday. I had waited 365 days for my free shake and I was going to get it.

Greg looked at me like I was insane!

“It’s my birthday, Babe. I have to go to the gym. How else am I gonna see my gym buddies so I can get my well-wishes and birthday hugs? Greg just stared at me in disbelief and walked out of the room. He was clearly fighting a losing battle trying to convince me to stay in bed until the headache subsided.

So I donned my birthday button and left for the gym. πŸ˜ƒ

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I have been wearing my button every year for longer than I can remember. It’s so much easier than telling everyone I run into that “today is my birthday.”

By the time I arrived at the gym, the Motrin was taking effect and I was feeling good.

At the start of the Aerobics Step class, the instructor had the class sing “Happy Birthday” to me. I loooooved it!!! It was a scene right out of grade school, the only thing missing were the cupcakes. I couldn’t be happier. The day was headed in the right direction.

As I walked out of the gym sipping on my free protein shake I noticed the morning clouds had cleared, the sky was a gorgeous blue and the temperature was a lovely 75 degrees. Afternoon showers had been predicted but the Universe knew it was my birthday and gave me the best day weather-wise.

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The Crash!

Greg and I had planned lunch and the movies – since going to the movies is one of my favorite pastimes, what better way to spend the afternoon. (Check out my blog piece on the movies here Let’s Go to the Movies!)

As we sat having lunch at the restaurant across the street from the Cinema, I felt the migraine coming back. Truth be told I felt the headache trying to make a comeback while I was getting ready to go out to lunch, but I refused to stay indoors, I refused to take more painkillers and go back to bed. I was fighting the good fight, I wanted to be out and about on my birthday. I tried helplessly to ignore the throbbing pain on the left side of my temple. Then it happened – A cough followed by a sneeze and that’s when I knew I had no more fight left in me.

“Take me home,” I whispered to my husband.

The poor man look worried. He could not believe his ears. No, I did not want to go to the movies anymore. No, I did not want the “birthday” chocolate mousse dessert I was offered by our nice waitress. Yes, I was sure I wanted to go home. Then I sneezed again and I almost cried. I was getting sick…On my goddamn birthday!!!! What kind of cruel joke was this?

I had dinner plans that night with my best friends, another birthday tradition. I couldn’t afford to be sick. When I arrived home I got under the covers swallowed some flu medication and dozed off to Kavanaugh’s voice vehemently denying the allegations levied against him. Yes, my birthday was the most historical day of the Senate Judiciary Hearings.

Never underestimate the power of a nap! I woke up a whole new woman, got dressed and headed out to meet my girls for my birthday dinner. It was a fun evening of great conversation and loads of laugh but I dare not touch a drop of alcohol because I could feel the migraine waiting in the wings to make a nasty comeback.

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The Birthday Party

I am sure it doesn’t come as a surprise that I have a birthday party every year. This year the party was planned for the Saturday night, 2 days after my birthday.

The day after my birthday, that is the eve of my birthday party, I spent most of the day in bed. I was miserable. The day should have been spent delightfully running around doing last minute prepping for my party, which thankfully was a small party, a very intimate affair, this year; but instead, the flu-like symptoms came on full force and I spent the day in bed cursing at the untimely onset of my illness and trying to decide whether or not I should cancel my party.

I was sneezing and coughing and headachy for most of Friday but woke up on Saturday morning, the day of the party, feeling like I could conquer the World (thank you God for Tylenol Flu and Cold tablets). The party was on, and when Greg came home with my birthday cake the party vibe hit me even more.

I spent the better part of Saturday busying myself with party preparations, I thoroughly enjoy doing stuff like that, and was content with hanging balloons and strategically moving around stuff in my house to facilitate my guests until the endless coughing and sneezing came back just 4 hours before my party was supposed to begin. I was livid! What made it worse was every time I coughed or sneezed, the cough or sneeze triggered a ruthless headache that lasted at least 10 minutes.

I even tried to bargain with God, I promised him that if he would keep me in good spirits for the rest of the evening he could make me bed-ridden all of next week. God wasn’t having it though and at 3:30 I had to crawl back into bed even though the party was scheduled to start at 7 pm.

Again, never underestimate the power of a nap. I still wasn’t a hundred percent when I woke up but I took a look at my cake and my dress (one must draw inspiration from wherever one canπŸ˜‰), turned on some Donna Summer music while I was getting ready and willed myself to feel better; and oh yeah took some more of that magical Tylenol Cold and Flu tablets.

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In the end, the party turned out to be a success, I remained “fierce and fabulous” in true Racquel form for the entire night. However, this birthday taught me that I can’t do it like I used to, now I need to take naps in between in order to keep going. πŸ˜ƒ After all, I am a year older; but I won’t give up though, I will never settle into being old, I will never readily concede. I am never ever going down without a fight.

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One love, Racquel!!!!

Breaking the Friendship Rules

“Who is your best friend?” The question was directed at me.

“Er…ah…” I stumbled for a bit trying to answer the question, as I thought about it. “Well, I have a bunch of really good friends, I guess I have 5 best friends.”

“Five! How can anyone have five best friends?” she said incredulously. “There ought to be that one friend out of your five that you can tell your deepest, darkest secrets to…Who is that?”

What’s with the deepest, darkest criteria for a friendship anyway? Can’t we just connect with people without sharing the so-called “deepest, darkest”? And can’t that connection grow and still be an “honest to God”, real, true friendship without the deepest, darkest stuff? This line of interrogation was beginning to annoy me; I felt I was being forced to choose who I like the most and the truth is these 5 chicks, yeah I said chicks, are all special to me on different levels and for different reasons. Why is it that we are always forced to pick just one?

Longevity = True Friendships

Here’s the thing – I don’t want to be confined to any friendship rules. Like the one that says you have to know someone for x period of time before you can call that person your friend. Really? Nah! I don’t think so. I have people who I have just recently met, that I consider friends. Why do you have to be the kid from Elementary School, who I use to kick rocks with, or the girl from High School, who I use to gossip with or even the friends from College, who I use to party with for you to be considered a friend? Why can’t you just be someone I recently met that I share a really cool connection with? I don’t understand the longevity criteria requirement. I don’t have to know you inside out, nor do you have to know me inside out for us to connect on an “I really dig you” level because let’s face it how much do we really know the people we call our friends?

We Have to Have A lot in Common

You and I don’t have to have to share similar interests or like to go to the same places for us to be friends, we just need to have shared values. I have a really good friend, who is nothing like me. She is incredibly quiet and shy and super intellectual and may never have been to a real party in her life. She analyses everything and never just goes with the flow. Yep, she is the total opposite of me but she is my friend. Why? Because we have these really deep, interesting conversations. She admires me, as much as I admire her despite our differences; and in the short time since we met, we have learned so much from each other. That might be part of the reason we get along so well, because of our differences, we each bring something unfamiliar and new into the friendship. I am forever amazed by the way this girl mind works. We aren’t kindred spirits but there is still a connection.

Perfection

I’m still waiting on one of my 5 to return my phone call from two days ago. This friend is moody as hell, if she’s not in the mood to talk, which is often, she will not pick up her phone, doesn’t matter who is calling. She responds to text messages and calls back when she feels like it, or she may respond to your phone call with a text. (I have a rule that a phone call should be returned with a phone call and not a text, but this friend doesn’t care about my rules.) Yet, she is still one of my go-to 5, because I know if I really need her she is there. I might have to text her 911, but she’ll be thereπŸ˜€. She and I have history, she is fun, she is smart and I like her I-don’t-give-a-damn attitude, because you know I have a bit of that I-don’t-give-a-damn attitude myself. Our friends don’t have to be perfect for our friendships to be real nor do they have to conform to our idiosyncratic rules. My friends sometimes annoy me and I am 100% sure I annoy them. Friendships are not all rainbows and butterflies, sometimes your friends will behave less than perfect and as long as a weird situation doesn’t develop that leaves you wondering if that person is actually your true friend then their imperfections are perfectly okay.

Age Differences

Who says we can’t be friends if we weren’t born in the same decade? There is this notion that a real connection can’t be made if the person is not within your age group. False!

Last Summer, my son, who was then 13 years old announced that his new best friend was his summer employer, who is 20 years his senior. He really liked hanging out with her and looked forward to going to his Summer job every day simply because to his surprise “she is a geek” like him. He was intrigued by the fact that an adult could be into LEGO, video-games and Science experiments like he was. He had made a connection, a real one.

Similarly, one of my go-to 5 is 12 years my junior. It’s a real relaxed friendship, she is one of my favorite people, but she does have an old soul and I am young at heart so we get to meet somewhere in the middle as our friendship blossomed over the years and it couldn’t be more authentic.

Distance and Time

Distance and time have been known to create a void in many friendships, so much so that people believe the misconception that they are no longer “real friends” with someone they don’t talk to on a daily / weekly basis. That is another rule I don’t subscribe to. Not because our connections are few and far between doesn’t mean that our bond isn’t as tight as when we were hanging on a regular basis.

Thankfully, social media has made the World a much smaller place and has facilitated greater, sometimes even meaningful connections. However, we all have that one friend who is just not into social media. Conversations with that friend only take place once or twice a year on your respective birthdays; you’re not in on the day-to-day happenings of your friend’s life and vice versa but believe me when I tell you it doesn’t make the friendship any less than it used to be. Gone are the days when you both use to sit in your dorm room and watch “Sex and the City” and “The Sopranos” and have lengthy discussions about each show afterward. Those were really great times sprinkled with laugh out loud memories but when you both get the opportunity to connect you realize that what you built years ago still has a solid foundation and that bond is irreplaceable.

There are too many rules and guidelines surrounding the definition of a true friend and what friendships really means. It’s unfortunate that society has created a kind of hierarchy, if you will, of friends in an effort to get people to rank their relationships with each other, but the reality is that when you meet a friend you know, whether or not you’ve spent years or days getting to know them, instinctively you’ll know when you’ve made a worthwhile connection.