Sunday, May 28, 2017

Favorite Things: Anne with an "E"

In another version of I get a lot of value out of our Netflix account, I dove into Anne with an "E." I've always been a fan of Anne of Green Gables, but if you want an exact remake of the original TV series (which I also recommend watching if you've never seen it), you may be disappointed. 

Netflix's take is not for purists.

This version is loyal to the original storyline, but it's more honest & modern, & darker. Anne's spiritedness, stubbornness (played so well by the actress Amybeth McNulty), & smarts are perfectly juxtaposed with what the world can be - not always kind, cruel, & ignorant. It tackles child abuse, bullying, sexuality, women's rights, poverty, obligation, & education equality while putting love, acceptance, forgiveness, friendship, & family at its center - it balances light & dark beautifully - I shed more than a few tears. 

My favorite character, besides Anne, is still Matthew Cuthbert (he's the hero!), but I love the entire cast. I also think the opening credits & theme song are gorgeous - it's a gilded work of art. I can't wait for Season 2.


PS: Other Netflix faves that are back (House of Cards being a given) - The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt (love!) & Bloodline (so good!!!).

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Favorite Things: Master of None

The 2nd season hit Netflix this past Friday & I devoured it all by Sunday afternoon! 

When I first started watching, I stepped away after the first or second episode. My theory: I was way too old for the show (I'm guessing a married, 45-year-old is not the target demographic, but I'd like to think Aziz Ansari loves everyone who's a fan/doesn't care). Then I read his book, Modern Romance (it's listed on this page), & revisited the series. I'm sure I'm outside the target demographic for the book too, but it was beyond funny, insightful, & don't care!

Anyway, I am so happy I went back to watching the show. No spoilers here, but it does such a great job of defining & showing emotion. There's a scene in the first season where Dev (Ansari) & friends are out one night at a bar/restaurant & it beautifully sums up what it's like to be 30-something, single, & in a big city - living.  They are alive, it makes you feel alive, & remember (I hope) those feelings as well. 

How can we not love that?

The second season does the same thing, but even better. You are there in the moment with Dev & his world & it feels personal.  

It's worth checking out!


Monday, May 15, 2017

Happy (belated) Mother's Day!

This is one of my favorite pics of my Mom (& me) & honestly, she looks almost the same to this day! Even better, the spiritedness she gives off in this photo remains in full swing.

I got lucky getting this one! And even luckier that we got to spend the day with her this past Saturday.

Much love to my Mom & the women (& men who fill both roles) who mother so many (kids, pets, friends, parents, the world!) each & every day.


Saturday, May 13, 2017

Smile Like You Mean It

When I was 14 & a freshman in high school, I tried out to be a cheerleader.  One of my aunts had been a cheerleader (was great at it/loved it) & I wanted to be like her & it was kinda a given that I too would try out.

So I did.

But being clueless about sports in general (still kinda am), I tried out to be a basketball cheerleader & not a football cheerleader as I had assumed. Not that I had a preference, but we had a killer basketball team & a not so great football team - the competition to be a basketball cheerleader was fierce; there was a lot more cache.

Again, I had no idea.

I worked my a$$ off during tryouts. I didn't stop & I really wanted to quit. I was not athletic at all & at times I thought I might actually die on the field where we did the workouts & practiced the audition routine. My clearest memory is doing these bouncy squat things where we'd countdown & chant, "THIS FEELS GOOD!" 

Y'all, it did NOT feel good.  

It felt like my legs would burst into flames. Couple all of this with being socially awkward (lack of hair will do that to you) & this was waaaay beyond my comfort zone. I don't think I even knew what a comfort zone was. Trying out to be a cheerleader might as well been like trying to fly to the moon - flying to the moon with pom-poms as my wings! 

The day of the tryout I nailed the routine. I could have done it in sleep & apparently I did; I didn't make the squad because I didn't smile enough. I was so scared that I forgot the cheer part & didn't smile. This was the specific feedback from one of my teachers who was also one of the judges - I did just fine, but I looked as terrified as I felt. 


I wasn't completely heartbroken or surprised when I didn't make it (clearly in over my head, of course), but it seemed, even at the age of 14, such a stupid reason to not make the team. I could learn to remember to smile, right? Wouldn't making the squad give me dozens of reasons to smile? Concentration, hard work, & not quitting don't often beget smiling. Isn't skill & showing up more important?

I don't write all of this because I harbor a cheer leading grudge, although I do think it would have been a positive influence on this weirdo kid's life & changed so many things in my world. I started thinking about it when I read this:

“Smiling doesn’t win you gold medals” - Simone Biles to the “Dancing With the Stars” judges who suggested she smile more.


I don't follow the show, but I hope she wins & even if she doesn't, bravo for competing, for showing up, for trying, for doing something outside her realm. That's the stuff!

I'm also glad I didn't have to learn to remember to smile; some days though, I think it's something we all have to remember. I am a huge fan of "fake it til you make it" but smile because you want to smile

Shake your pom-poms & cheers,

ps. if you aren't familiar with the song I referenced in the title, check it out here ('cause it's one of my faves!). plus, Brandon Flowers, y'all! :-)

pss. that song is like 10 year's old now! what?!?

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Endings & Beginnings

I've been trying to write this post for days & every time I do, I get teary-eyed & it's hard to cry & type at the same time! Also, I know I can't do the kind of writing this space deserves - but, don't care, I need to write it, so here's to imperfect writing (which is the majority of this blog - duh!) & giving honor to the people & memories that matter.

Last week, I lost my godmother & a few days later got to see my goddaughter celebrate her first communion.

My godmother would have loved this. 

She was 95, a devout Catholic, loved crafting (all kinds), shopping via catalogs, & was one of my biggest cheerleaders (always!).

She & my godfather had their home stocked with the best junk food whenever my brother & I visited. They had an epic Lego collection & Battleship which my brother always beat me at & I always accused him of cheating - there's truth somewhere in the middle there. She also let me eat only biscuits for dinner (because I was picky) & even let me take the leftovers home! 

They bought us new coats every year. It was Florida, but it was so much fun getting new coats!

They were there for every holiday, birthday, or event that mattered. I believe they have had long lives because of their never ending kindness. They are good people, great people to the core.

My godmother never judged me. How many people do we have in our lives we can say that about? 

I don't have one unhappy memory of her. 

When I was 8-years-old & this nonsense started, she didn't try to shame me or scare it out of me, she told me "I think my friend has a problem...". Or something to that extent & I knew I was OK with her, could talk about it if I wanted to, or not talk about it all (pretty sure I erred on not talking about it at all). 

She loved me for who I was - all defects & flaws.

She was a religious person & had high ideals, but she was also down to earth & worked hard to help others who were less fortunate. She kept change in her car to give to any homeless person she encountered. She & my godfather volunteered their time & resources at Daystar (in St. Petersburg, FL) for years.

She was a Parent.

When I was in my 20's & attending retreats, I was asked to give a talk call "God Experience." I was stumped about what to talk about until I realized all I had to do was talk about my godparents & the impact they've had on my life. 

I am beyond lucky. 

I can only hope to give the kids in my life the same kindness & love they've always bestowed upon me. I have big shoes to fill, need to keep the junk food stocked, build a Lego collection, get Battleship (& beat my brother at it - she would love that too) & remember that leftover biscuits are love - true love!

Love you, Mrs. Schoen (you too Mr. Schoen) - forever & always!