Random Thoughts

What an unusual December this has been. How is everyone doing? I just wanted to check in. I feel a bit disconnected and would love to hear what’s on your mind this week. Here’s some of the random stuff I’m thinking of:

– Hanukkah. It started yesterday. Do you celebrate? Or do your relatives or friends celebrate? If you’re curious about the holiday — or mistakenly think of it as “Jewish Christmas” — you might find this short video interesting.

– The fires in Southern California. So many buildings destroyed and so many people evacuated. There are schools that closed last week that won’t reopen until the new year. And a huge number of people will be displaced for the holidays. It’s hard to comprehend the amount of damage.

A reader commented on my most recent Few Things post that she was surprised I hadn’t mentioned the fires. When I read her comment, I thought: It’s true, the fires have barely been on my mind; am I heartless? I suppose it’s because it seems like I’m barely seeing any news coverage. I feel like I saw more updates when the Napa Fires were burning. Is it just because I live near Napa? What about you? Are you seeing lots of coverage of the fires? Do you have friends and relatives that have been personally affected and evacuated?

– The Doug Jones election. Maybe I’m not seeing much coverage of the fires because my news feeds have all been focused on yesterday’s election. Were you watching? I couldn’t bare to look at the results all day long. My daughter Olive gave me the good news when she got home from theater rehearsal last night and I jumped for joy. I could hardly believe it.

Related commentary today has been interesting. I’ve seen relief and joy. I’ve seen disgust that the race was so close in the first place. I’ve seen response pieces about how Black Women continue to be the backbone of the Democratic party, and disbelief that so many White Women would vote for Moore. Have you read any good response pieces? I’d love any recommendations.

– I’m behind on my work. I mentioned something about this last Friday, but I’m really feeling it this week. Not sure what it is — I work all day but feel like I’m not making headway or true progress. Maybe it’s the rush to complete as much as possible in the next few days? Before the pre-Christmas week begins and people mentally check out? If I have too many days of feeling like this, I get really discouraged. I’m hoping I’ll have a breakthrough some time today.

– Instagram breaks. This morning I realized I’ve taken some long Instagram breaks this month. Not really intentionally; I guess I just haven’t had any desire to open it up. And it’s not just Instagram, my social media use on Facebook and Twitter has been really light this month too. I’m sure I’m not alone. It makes me wonder if we’ll see widespread shifts or changes in social media trends in 2018.

– Tickets as gifts. We have my sister Rachel’s family in our sibling Christmas gift rotation this year. Her kids are all grown up — high school age and older. I’d really like to send the whole family tickets to something fun. Should it be a show? An adventure — like a zip-lining course? Have you heard of Escape Rooms? What sorts of experiences do you like to gift? I have a few ideas, but would love more!

– Holiday decor. I’m loving how our house feels this year, all dressed up for the holidays. The outside isn’t too exciting — some twinkle lights and a wreath. We’re off the beaten path and don’t get any car or foot traffic — so I find there’s less motivation to deck out our exterior for the holidays. But once you walk inside it’s joyous. The tree looks great. The stockings too. There are pretty boxwood wreaths hanging. Lots of red and green — and everything is working really well together this year.

I had a gift card to Pier 1, and this weekend, we took the kids to pick out something new to add to our holiday stash. I was thinking maybe they would each pick out an ornament. Instead, they chose this super soft and cozy Sherpa throw blanket and this fun little llama. Hah! (Both of those are on sale, by the way.)

I think that’s it for now. Please feel free to respond to anything here, or bring up your own topic. I always love hearing what’s on your minds!

P.S. — I’ve mostly shifted my random thoughts posts over to my newsletter this year. Here are random thoughts posts from the archives.

32 thoughts on “Random Thoughts”

  1. I’m an Alabama voter and was on the edge of my seat last night, biting my nails! I really thought Moore would win. After being so shocked that a sexual assaulter would be voted in to the White House, I figured the same would happen in Alabama, since as a state we are not known for being progressive. I was braced for the worst – but so happy to be able to celebrate rather than grieve! I am so so grateful that Jones won and it felt wonderful to cast my vote for him yesterday (though I voted in a rural county that supported Moore something like 60%).

    It makes me wonder, are the tides turning? Perhaps spurred on even by who is president. It has been amazing to see so many powerful men in authority being toppled and called out for their crimes against women. This feels like such a huge victory and I wonder if these things are all catalyzing to truly begin some major national change. I sure hope so.

    1. Sending high fives to you in Alabama! And I wonder about the tides turning too. Are we really going to topple the corrupt men? Is it finally happening? I hope so.

      I know people talk about the levels of grossness — that we shouldn’t treat all of these men the same, because some have raped, and some have been more crude and gross than violent. But lately, my feeling is that sort of nuance will be important if these cases are taken to court. The legal punishments can fit the legal crimes.

      But as far as the men losing their jobs? Even if the harassment was not rape? Heck yes! If they’re behaving unprofessionally, they need to go. People are fired everyday for infractions that are far less serious.

    2. Thank you, Alabama, from New York! I was on a train last night coming home from work, and someone shouted out the news that Jones had won. The entire train car burst into applause and shouts of joy. So happy and relieved! I hope it is a harbinger of things to come.

  2. I live in France and thé California fires are definitely in the news here. I’m surprised they’re not being reported on in the United States. The Alabama election is also news here. I’m glad to see things turning for the better!

    1. I feel like they were reported on heavily the first couple of days – I cried seeing a family with a bay on the way that had just dropped $800,000+ on their dream home and just moved all their new baby furniture in to see it go up in flames. But it’s kind of died down and had left me wondering over here in NJ how the fires are doing now.
      Maybe it’s not sensational enough anymore and we need it to be that way to keep interest. It’s sad if that’s the case.

    2. The fires have been in the news here in Moldova too. Most of the news here is in Russian (which I don’t understand), but my host dad told me he had heard about them on the radio. He was shocked by the scale of them- mentioning the size was almost the entire country of Moldova. I hadn’t seen anything on social media and don’t check American news all that much so this was the first I’d heard of them.

  3. I am a life-long republican and a white woman and I was so relieved at the results last night. The same people who shout that “allegations don’t equal guilt” have already prosecuted and sentenced Bill Clinton in their minds. Both parties are guilty of a “my party first, country second” attitude and it’s doing so much damage. “Well they did it too just worse!” is an excuse that has no place in politics and frankly is something that adults shouldn’t even use to justify anything. No vote or bill or policy is worth losing your integrity over. I am just so relieved. Evangelical Christianity has destroyed the party that I grew up with and I am hoping that after this things will start to change.

    1. “No vote or bill or policy is worth losing your integrity over. I am just so relieved. Evangelical Christianity has destroyed the party that I grew up with and I am hoping that after this things will start to change.”

      So well said! May this be a turning point. The whole country benefits if we have (at least) 2 strong political parties that encourage healthy debate of differing viewpoints. If either party is destroyed because of lack or integrity, corruption or general incompetence, that’s not a good outcome for anyone.

  4. I feel the same way about the Alabama election. I had resigned myself to the idea that Moore would win despite everything, and I was ELATED when I heard it had gone to Doug Jones. I hope the DNC wakes up and realizes it needs to support small candidates even in states people think are “lost causes” and we really need to tackle voter suppression and supporting Black voters and Black candidates.

    I follow Dan Rather’s “News and Guts” page on Facebook and they post about the CA wildfires quite a bit, if anyone feels like they haven’t been seeing it. I don’t have cable so I don’t see any news unless it’s online.

    I’ve had so much trouble focusing lately. I work from home and it seems nearly impossible to get anything done. I don’t know if it’s because of the state of the world lately or what. It’s pretty frustrating but I also feel like I can’t stop myself.

    1. Oh my goodness. Yes. I hear you on not being able to focus — and it’s killing me. I’ve got to get my work done and on some days it’s nearly impossible.

      Don’t laugh, but I’ve been trying to eliminate sugar and eat healthier than I usually do in an attempt to help my focus. Will it work? Who knows. But you can tell I’m pretty desperate if I’m giving up my sweets. : )

  5. About social media. I have not been on it as much either. I think partly it’s an effort to be off my phone but also, I realized that most of the people I “followed” were brands and dealt with shopping. And I never shop! So I unfollowed many of them. I’m tired of people telling me what to buy.

    Also, I left Facebook two years ago and never looked back…and I just left Pinterest since I stopped using that too.

    Can we discuss the new Facebook for kids coming out too?

  6. The whole day I’ve just been reveling in the Jones Senate victory! It feels like a ray of hope after such a dark political year. I was bracing for a loss, and Alabama surprised me!

  7. I live in So Cal and the fires are being covered in depth. The loss, just like in the Napa fires, is overwhelming. I have so much to be grateful for that we have decided to support others this year for Christmas. There are many families, both in the burn areas and outside of the burn area, that need extra help this time of year. I think everyone can give something to someone in need – no matter how big or how small.

    As to work – I think the world we live in has become a larger than the normal distraction. Find time to truly focus. Complete one task. Refocus and complete another task. Then step away and allow your creative juices to recover and begin again. This may not be your everyday pace, but it works will you are working on your current situation.

    Gift ideas – Two years ago we treated ourselves to a whole family cooking lesson. A husband and wife that work as personal chefs offered this for a while developing their business. They came to our house and talked about spices you should have on hand, basic marinades, simple side dishes and then we made three main courses. We ate together and at the end of the meal they provided dessert. It helped my teens look at food and meal prep in a new way and it inspired me to try new things in the kitchen (my husband enjoyed the meal!).

    I love your random thoughts and I find you to be a true inspiration to me!

    1. I love your comment so much.

      – If you have a link to any local organization helping families in Southern California who have suffered loss from the fires, please feel free to share. It’s always helpful getting ideas on how to help from people who actually live there.

      – I really love your advice about trying something different from my usual everyday pace as I get through my work day. Really smart and helpful.

      – Cooking lessons are a brilliant gift idea!

      Thank you!

  8. I live in Los Angeles but have several friends who live in Ventura, and their beautiful community has been absolutely devastated by the fires. I do think the whole thing has been eclipsed by what’s going on in D.C. and Alabama, particularly, but I think it’s how the rest of the country often views California anyway — as an aside, a strange part of the country, etc. etc. I grew up on the east coast and have lived out here for the last twenty years — when natural disasters strike California, I think there’s a tendency for those from other parts to either dismiss it as “deserved,” (why do they build on the coast?) or the usual (don’t they always have fires, etc.?). In any case, it’s all so hard to comprehend, isn’t it?

    1. I always shake my head when people say such things too. Natural disasters happen all over the country. And one can’t just simply pick up and move….even those who say such things most likely couldn’t up and move to another state too.

      I do believe there’s a strange hate for California. There’s a provision in the new tax bill that disallows Californians to deduct losses from earthquakes and fires but allows the rest of the country to do so for hurricanes, tornados and floods. I can’t understand the logic in that. It’s clearly a punishment.

      1. Agreed, the new tax bill feels like a punishment for everyone but the very rich — and for sure it seems to target California in particular. It’s easy to see why there are groups advocating for California to become a separate country. California has the 6th largest economy in the world. If the U.S. wants to punish us, it would ultimately be their loss.

        1. Gabby, I totally understand where you are coming from, but regarding the groups pushing for California independence, it’s now been established that they were largely funded/pushed by the Kremlin. I wish I was making this up, but I’m not. Same with Brexit. The campaign to undermine western democracies using social media is like a new Cold War. Just a few of several sources on this: here and here.

  9. I was also relieved that Doug Jones won! When looking at the voter stats I was so happy to find out that a high percentage of younger people voted for Doug! There is hope for the future :) Thanks Millennials!

  10. My son and daughter-in-law gave our entire family (adults) the best Christmas gift last year. They planned a day of wine tasting in the Oregon wine country. We went in a limo (so no one had to drive), which gave us hours of catchup time and the most beautiful views of fall leaves in the countryside, had lunch delivered to one of the wineries and yummy snacks. They thought of everything. While wine tasting isn’t for everyone, the experience of having time together to just talk and laugh meant so much to everyone. It has been a sad year with the loss of my dad and being together and laughing was just what we all needed.

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