Medical Miracles For Michael

https://www.gofundme.com/getting-through-the-medical-hump

I will pretty much NEVER forget a single person who makes a contribution to helping my brother. My cousin was the first person to get the ball rolling. I don’t care if you’re family, a friend, or a perfect stranger, it will mean the absolute WORLD to me to keep my brother alive.

Our Grandfather died at 40 due to a massive heart attack. The advancements of modern medicine and surgery have done wonders for my brother, but he is far from out of the woods and may require additional surgery up the road. The medicine and co-pays on his most recent surgeries are slaughtering him. I am hoping to get some of his bills paid quickly and the rest I will negotiate with the various parties involved, but ultimately, even $5-$20 is a help to him.

I thank you in advance. And by all means, share it with people who you think can help him.

Sisterhood Unraveled

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The majority of my closest friends have been in my life for longer than most marriages last. We’re talking twenty years, on average, for each of my best friends. One, now officially former, best friend has spent the past six and a half years ignoring me. There was no disagreement between us, we’ve never had a legitimate fight. Absolutely nothing occurred to warrant her going radio silent. This, however, is her behavior whenever a new man enters her life. It’s utterly baffling, and such an immense turn-off that she truly believes she can come and go in the friendship as she pleases. I’m a person; not a revolving door at a hotel or airport! It’s unacceptable behavior. So, I’m going to write my feelings out of my system today. I’ve never blatantly outed a friend in such a manner, but it’s time to light a Yarhzeit candle to the friendship. For now it is time to remember, and move on.

Here’s a fact about me: When I’m done, I’m truly DONE. I find it sad that after all this time, she doesn’t know me well enough to know that I will cut her out of my life permanently. She doesn’t seem to realize that I will exterminate her like a fucking termite. She’s gotten far too comfortable in the friendship, and has forgotten what loyalty and true friendship are, and for that, there’s simply no forgiveness left in me. From here on out, I will refer to this person as Two-Face.

Two-Face and I became instant best friends from almost the first encounter. We said the same things, thought a lot of the same things, had a similar sense of humor, liked nearly all of the same things, and she stood up to people who challenged my role in her life many times. We were thick as thieves; always laughing hysterically for hours on end. She called me her sister, often saying I was closer to her in life than her own sister could ever be. It certainly seemed that way, because her sister isn’t anywhere near as good to her as I was from day one, but apparently she forgives her sister damn near anything and has an extremely short fucking memory. I’m more like an elephant. I might forget that I left tea in the kitchen for two hours, allowing it to brew too long and go bitter, but I do not forget the long-term. In fact, it’s all so sharp and clear, it’s eerie.

For me, referring to any friend as family is the highest compliment I can pay someone because I don’t consider my own relatives “true family” most of the time, except for those who actually stand by me, as opposed to doing so merely when it is convenient for them. I have family that will call me family when they please, as opposed to daily. That doesn’t fly with me, which is precisely why none of those people are my true family. I share bloodlines with them, but beyond that? Nothing. I would not give them a bodily organ if they needed it and I was the only match on the planet; I’d give it to the stranger whose family needed them instead. Through time, they’ve shown me how little they value me, so why should I hold them in high regard?

It’s important to be careful how you treat your friends. Friendship is a delicate thing. It can wax and wane like the moon, but it can also grow stronger daily. My best friends, those who’ve never left, seem to know me better than she does. I often thought she & I were closer, not just logistically speaking, but because we shared such a daily chunk of each other’s lives that the others often miss out on. I was wrong.

I have never dropped a friend for a man, or for another relationship. Not ever. I might be happier, perhaps a lot more playful and silly, but my friends play a significant role in my life. I do not exclude them simply because I am in a relationship. I don’t ditch them for months or years at a time, as if they are toys to be placed in a drawer and taken out when I choose. I find that disrespectful, and incredibly unhealthy. I am at my healthiest when I have my girls to turn to no matter what, because I’m genuinely a Girl’s Girl to the core. Women supporting other women, in good and bad times, is a remarkable thing. It is something I respect wholeheartedly. Don’t get me wrong; I will tell someone they’re wrong when they’re wrong, regardless of gender. I have absolutely no qualms about letting people know I have boundaries and human emotions, but I’d never intentionally hurt a friend. If you do something once and you ask for forgiveness; it’s a mistake. We all make mistakes, no one is perfect. If you repeatedly do something ugly; it’s a pattern and a choice. I do not have to accept choices that are continuously hurtful. I have enough issues; I don’t need my friends to emotionally cut me to pieces, nor will I allow it.

Two-Faced, now on marriage number three (Which, at the point, means you shouldn’t even bother. Unless you have children together, are planning on having children, or it’s for insurance purposes, that piece of paper is clearly ridiculous. That’s my OPINION, but I also know her so well that I know the second the relationship crumbles, she will be back at my feet, begging for forgiveness. Her absence will be blamed on HIM, not on HER.), was married when we first became friends. Her husband was utterly lovely…and she treated him like shit. My first impression was that it showed strength (No, I don’t think it’s okay to treat your partner like shit. I did not see it for what it was initially.), but over time I realized they never should have gotten married, that they only did so out of family pressure. They didn’t want the same things. They grew apart. When she called to tell me they were divorcing, I was heartbroken for her, and very protective. They stayed together for a period of time to get their finances in order, and parted ways amicably. They didn’t have any children, so it was a clean break. It was harder for their families than it was for them, because her family loved him and his family loved her. I’ll give her one thing; she’s great at fooling people.

She moved to another city and immediately started dating. He was re-married to someone else quickly after they were divorced, and was expecting his first child. She’d disappear for short periods of time between boyfriends. It was utterly obnoxious, and I’d never seen this side of her before. I started filtering myself in regard to my own relationships because I was somehow able to manage more than one person in my life at a time, never making excuses. I could keep my friends, be a part of my family, AND keep a guy in my life, without issue. Why was this such a problem for her?! In fairness, I’d soon discover it was a problem for a lot of women, and to this day, I will NEVER be able to wrap my mind around that. Relationships come and go, they’re not etched in stone, but friends should be forever. Where are you in life without at least one true friend?

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She came to visit me at one point and was an absolute bitch for roughly 85% of the visit. Perhaps I should be ranking that at a higher percentage. I had the hardest time not knocking her teeth out, because I’d be appalled if I ever behaved that way toward a friend, especially in their home, and worse, several times in front of their family. Nothing was good enough for her, but in actuality I know that she was acting out, which is sad because by doing so, she ruined much of the time we spent together. When a major snowstorm hit the day before she was supposed to leave, resulting in approximately a foot and a half of snow, you would have thought I’d caused it by her behavior and attitude towards me. I had paid for her plane ticket and treated her like family; and in turn, soon after the visit, she didn’t speak to me for almost a year. I was utterly THRILLED when I dropped her off at the airport. Her behavior was SO awful that I honestly didn’t care if I ever saw her again. After 9/11, she e-mailed me to make sure that my family & I were safe. Our friendship resumed at that point, she seemed genuinely remorseful. “It’ll never happen again, Lisa. I honestly don’t know how I survive without you.” Whatever.

Maybe six months after flying out to visit her, she stopped speaking to me once again. I called her at work one day, after she’d been ignoring me for weeks, because my mother was in the hospital and I didn’t think she was going to live. I was devastated and needed my best friend to talk to me down off a ledge. She actually got on the phone and told me “I have problems of my own, I don’t have time for yours!” and hung up on me. In hindsight, I NEVER should have allowed her back into my life after that move. I should have ripped her to shreds, but I didn’t. My mistake, because that won’t ever happen again.

Maybe the following year I got a letter explaining that she’d hit a rough patch soon after I left, and decided to move back home to be closer to her family, and again, the friendship resumed with her, once again, pleading for forgiveness. “It’ll never happen again, Lisa. I swear.”

But it did.She never truly apologized for anything, not once. 

She met husband number two, who was moved in very quickly (She should get U-Haul discounts on how quickly she moves men into and out of her life. I’ve never seen anything like it. Why can’t you just date like a normal person?!), and this guy hated me. He didn’t want her talking to me, and he didn’t want me visiting. She claims he made her choose between us, and we’d lose three years of friendship to a marriage where I am almost certain of his verbal abuse, but even more certain that the abused became the abuser. I feel she’s always had that in her; and I am sure that is why her first husband moved on so quickly to someone who was so drastically different in every way. Poor guy dodged one hell of a bullet! 😦

Her relationships are what they are. It’s her searching for love in all of the wrong places, because, despite being eternally selfish to her core, she does not have the capacity to truly love anyone, not even herself. She puts on a good show though, an Academy Award worthy performance, but it’s all incredibly fake. She is, in essence, the Phantom of The Opera in his mask. So filled with self-doubt and internal torment, the mask is a shield to keep people at bay, to hold everyone at arm’s length, until it suits her to get closer. She’d openly deny this, because she is so blinded, she cannot clearly see herself. I find it sad.

At her best, she believes she’s a decent person and wants to be better and grow, but she always gets in her own way. I’ve been friends with her long enough to see the good, the bad, and the ugly, so I am certain her relationship with me was borne out of needing someone stronger in her life to be friends with, because she has no other true friends who’ve seen it all with her. She has people she works with who only ever see the mask, but I’ve seen the pain. I’ve seen the roots, and I understand them, but I do not accept the fact that while she believes she’s “grown”, she’s truly still at square one. Other people who’ve gotten close have crossed boundaries and felt her wrath. There’s a reason I’m referring to her as Two-Face. It disturbs me that she can have two completely different sides to her and not own it. I know I have both darkness and light within me, and I am very open about that, but I am NOT two-faced. I am the same person at all times. I will always apologize if I’m brusque or bitchy without cause. Always. Sometimes I don’t hear how I sounded until 1-3 days later, but I’d rather apologize and own it than pretend to be something, or someone, I’m not. She thinks she’s the same way, but she most definitely is not.

Several years ago, I wrote her a letter and let her know precisely how I felt about the friendship and what she’d done/was doing to it. It took me almost a year to write it without being vicious, so even now, I’m trying to not be batshit crazy over how I’ve been treated. I laid it all out for her, and told her that this was unacceptable behavior, and that I knew for a fact she’d never allow me to treat her this way, so why was it acceptable for her to treat me so horribly? I even said we’ve never fought or argued, and that neither of us had done anything unforgivable (up to that point). I said it was all about communicating openly and honestly with each other, which we’d always done. I told her if she wanted out of the friendship, she need only say so.

However, here I sit six and a half years later and I find, I’m the one who wants out. I’m DONE. I was never anything but an amazing friend to her; loyal, devoted, present, caring, and generous. I loaned her money when she went through a couple of horrible years and had trouble making ends meet. I wanted to help her and keep her safe during that time because her family was refusing to do so (most especially, her sister, who is apparently a saint now.). I didn’t expect to be paid back, but when I think about the fact that it’s somewhere between $10,000-$15,000 owed, I do find myself wanting that money back. She always promised it would be paid back because it was a LOAN and not a gift. There’s a difference in the phrasing. I would already have sued her for it, if the state she resides in allowed people to be sued for small claims. It doesn’t, and I think we can all safely agree that the number is definitely NOT a “small claim”. I would even accept installment payments at this point. Unlike running out on a credit card; I am a human-being and I deserve to be paid back. I don’t care how you treat a billion dollar business, but I DO care how you treat me, the loyal friend who has stood by you when others, including your own family, have walked away or stepped back.

We were sisters, and I was always there for her no matter what. She didn’t just unravel the sisterhood, she broke it. She continued to hammer away at it until I said “Enough!” When I wrote that letter, I let her know it wasn’t an ultimatum, but that I wasn’t going to hold on to how I felt and allow it to continue to hurt me. She e-mailed me a month later and said she’d read the letter multiple times and would e-mail me in a few weeks after she thought things over. I never heard from her again. Knowing her; she lost the letter in her many moves since receiving it, and didn’t have the guts to get back in contact with me and face the issue. She can’t say she doesn’t have my e-mail address because I’ve had the same primary e-mail address for over ten years. Her cowardly behavior is another strike against her. You don’t let things slide and not apologize. It once took me eight years to apologize to a friend for potentially hurting her, but I apologized, and the apology was accepted. The friendship did not resume because, much like Two-Face, this person could not maintain a marriage, a family life, and a best friend. Apparently it requires a really high I.Q., multiple doctorates, and/or maybe some special gift I’m unaware of. I do NOT understand it, and I’m done trying to.

I hold many titles with ease, and Grace. Daughter, Granddaughter, Niece, Sister, Best Friend, Friend, Cousin, Writer, Editor. I hope to add other titles to that list, and I’m certain I left a few out because I’m focused on what I have to say, but my point is, I do maintain each title. I am still my parent’s only daughter and my Grandparent’s only Granddaughter, even in their physical absences. Two of my Grandparents have a second Granddaughter, and for that I apologize to them because she’s an embarrassment on every level as a human-being. I am my Aunt’s only niece and my brother’s only sister. I’m a best friend and friend AT ALL TIMES, not when it is convenient to be so. I try to be there for my cousins because I choose to have relationships with them, even when they’re not ideal relationships, even when the other person is difficult and makes me sorry I bother. I make an EFFORT. I’m imperfect, and in that imperfection, I am unique and solid.

When I think about Two-Face I am reminded of good times, of laughter, of travels, of so many hilarious moments and shared thoughts and secrets. I will take her secrets to the grave, but I will not allow her to harm me any further. She is the only person who, in the role of a friend, managed to turn something unbreakable into something broken. Her deep desire for self-destruction isn’t going to take me down with her. She is sitting somewhere now, possibly believing that she ended the friendship on her terms or that the revolving door with remain revolving, perhaps not even giving it a second thought. Ultimately, I am the one cutting her off and out. Permanently. I am not going to be vicious or vengeful. I am not going to allow myself to feel the hurt, anger, or utter betrayal a second longer than I already have. This, however, will take time; for I’m so angry as I write this, I’m shaking.

I am not going to cut myself off from who I am as a person, and what I have to offer others. I am going to continue being myself. I will continue to be intuitive and mindful of new people. I won’t allow anyone in my life when there are red flags of warning. I’m not going to stop being a loyal, damn fine friend to people. I am not going to allow this to turn me into a bitch, or allow myself to think that I deserve to be treated like that. I know better.

Friendships aren’t gifted to us so that we may irrevocably damage and break them. They are gifted to us in order to support us through thick and thin, and they are indeed a gift because true friendship is so unbelievably rare. I realize I am a rarity in how I handle my relationships with others. No matter how bad my life may be, and believe me when I say that it isn’t easy, I’d prefer to continue being the kind of friend I’ve always been to people.

She may have hurt me, but she did not break me. She did not win a damn fucking thing. When all is said and done, she will be as alone as she was when she came into my life; a broken child in need of a place where she belonged. I gave her that, and I never judged. I’m still not judging, but I am saying “No more.” I’m placing a wall made of concrete and steel between her and I from here on in. She can get through electronically, providing I deign to open an e-mail from her, but she cannot reach my heart or soul ever again.

There’s only so much damage I’ll allow. Breaking the bonds of sisterhood is on the list of “ultimate betrayals” for any female friend. She was given the choice to repair the damage, and instead, she chose something else instead of realizing she could have both. She chose selfishness. I am not selfish. In fact, on many levels we are polar opposites. Perhaps that is why our friendship was so incredibly close and was then twisted into something ugly by her. She doesn’t know that there’s no going back, that my ability to accept is gone. I feel sorry for her. She always comes back, but this time, she has no idea who the other person is that she’ll be faced with. I’ve changed for the better. Once I cut you off, there’s nothing you can say or do to get back in. Fool me once; shame on you. Fool me twice and you’d better find another planet to reside on.

Interestingly enough, the last time I was this done with a person; it was a man. He’s in town this weekend and all I can think is “Motherfucker, don’t you DARE darken my door.” That I’d put them both into the same category today is interesting, because that’s how she & I became friends.

Never Again. Done means done. Friendship is an ultimate strength, NOT a weakness. Other people have stepped up in your absence and replaced you; something I once thought would be unheard of. Stick that in your bitch pipe and smoke it.

May life provide you with precisely what and who you deserve. I am off to light a candle and say my goodbyes. If you get in touch, expect a fucking bill.

copyright © 2016 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Stirring The Cauldron

There is a humorous saying in my family: “When Lisa gets bored, she gets dangerous.” It’s truly a joke, I’m basically a sweet kitten from hell, but right now, I’ve got a TON on my plate and it’s beyond overwhelming.

I hate it when people use the excuse of being “busy” so as not to do something or be present. I refuse to do that which I dislike SO much. Yes, I’m busy. So what. I can still make time for what’s important to me, and exactly who is important to me. If you know me well, you know I’ll drop anything and everything to help a friend or family member in need providing I can stand you.

So here I sit, hammering out details for a charity drive. I am exhilarated with ideas and I will be sharing all of the necessary information here that way no one can say they didn’t know about it, did not know they could help no matter where they live, etc. Again, NO EXCUSES. I cannot and will not force anyone to care strongly about things that are important to me, but I can encourage you to get involved if at all possible, or I just might visit you with a rather large hockey stick. People often say they want to help others, but it’s, more often than not, just talk. I rarely see action, which is precisely why I’ve decided to take action in my own way.

FCancer

I am SO inspired by this. It took over a month for this shirt to arrive. 

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The hoodie was VERY late to the party, but is SO warm, and I’m proud to be walking around in it.

And the video brings me to fucking TEARS (I’m blaming PMS.).

I am proud to have contributed, proud to be preparing to play a larger role that can affect a lot of people’s lives for the better, and thrilled to be stirring my cauldron when I really should be asleep.

You will know more about what I am doing when I’m greenlit.

copyright © 2015 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

The photos are mine and protected under my personal copyright, the video is not mine.

Where The Hell Does The Year Go?

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Where The Hell Does The Year Go?

Every year I’m semi-amazed I’ve survived and gotten this far: Both in life and in the day-to-day struggle. I have a lot to be grateful for.

I’ve had an incredibly rough two years. The years before that were not perfect, some were horrific in their lack of kindness, many had their battles, but this past year has humbled me in ways I never thought possible. It is very easy to lose sight of what we have in life, basic things we should all have. It’s a little too easy to take those basics for granted, until they’re taken away for long periods of time.

I read so many things where people are going through difficult shit. I choose not to advertise my problems because I do have some semblance of privacy and dignity. I also don’t feel that’s what people come here for. I know I can bitch and be myself, but do I really want to dwell on that crap? No. I want things to get better, I want to be positive, and I want to move forward. By whining, you drown in your own crap. On top of being a disgusting visual, it’s also very negative and I don’t want that, for myself or for anyone else.

I am eternally grateful for being blessed with the ability to project my voice through the written and spoken word. As I watch so many people struggle with something that comes so easy to me, I can’t help but see the differences between art and mere words. I openly admit it leaves me frustrated with a lot of people at times.

The very small group of people that matter in my life: THANK YOU. You all know who you are. I am blessed with people who talk me down from my various ledges, entertain my insanity, listen to me, commiserate with me, support me, and are loyal with kind, caring, generous hearts. I respect and appreciate the lack of drama. I respect and appreciate your love, friendship, humor, and the things so many of you go out of your way to do to make me laugh, smile, and/or cheer me up. The thoughtfulness knows no boundaries. It is amazing to know that there are people who have my back, as opposed to those who would prefer to stab me in it. Please know how appreciated you all are. I have an outrageous amount of love in my heart for all of you.

It gives me an endless amount of professional pleasure and pride to be able to bring you “Poison In Lethal Doses”. Tomorrow marks 20 years of both my experience as an editor and the amount of time I have spent writing “Poison” pieces. It feels like it all just started yesterday. I’ve grown so much as a writer that I know time has passed, yet it feels surreal to me. What I used to do and what I do today are two very different beasts. The evolution is amazing for me to see.

2015 will challenge me in my personal and professional lives. I pray it is not quite as challenging for all of you because I would not wish aspects of my life on anyone, but I do hope it challenges you in positive ways that brings an abundance of happiness into your lives.

Ultimately, my vow is to be here and be present for all of you, and for myself. I vow to finish the unfinished and move forward with things that are of the utmost importance. On a smaller note, I am going to attempt to be 98% caffeine free by February. I would prefer to use it just when I have a migraine, as opposed to using it as a stress crutch.

Big things, little things, good things, bad things. No matter what, let us be grateful for it all and what it teaches us. Life is short. It’s not always easy, and it’s a very lonely place without someone in life to turn to that understands. Tonight, no matter what it is you’re doing or believe in, stop and say a little prayer for everyone that matters to you in life. It’s not about religion or belief systems, it’s about humanity. Once you lose sight of that, it’s all downhill, so I think it’s important to remain in touch with what makes you a human-being. While not the most friendly person on the planet, I still have compassion and empathy for others. I still make an effort. I am always present for those I care about, no excuses. Practice a random act of kindness, you’ll see how good it makes you feel as well, thus serving a dual purpose. That which you send out into the world comes back to you threefold. Make it count.

Wishing you all a happy, healthy, and safe New Year!

copyright © 2014 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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There Is A Place…

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In Memory of my Uncle, who passed away suddenly three years ago. Today would have been his 62nd birthday. If anyone lived life to the fullest and gave with his whole heart, it was him. He was my guide post for so much in my life, and for that I will forever be grateful.

RMP

1952-2011

“Carry on, you will always remember
Carry on, nothing equals the splendor
Surely heaven waits for you…” -Kansas

Retailers Should Really Be Ashamed Of Themselves

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Retailers Should Really Be Ashamed Of Themselves

October hadn’t even ended and the few stores I walked into were full of Christmas trees, decorations, candy, and “special, early shopper prices”. I hate this time of year.

I don’t do Christmas. You will not find green & red anywhere in my home and you most certainly will not see a tree, lights, tinsel, et al. I won’t even “celebrate” it at someone else’s home. I celebrate Chanukah (Kuddos to Target for the most awesome Chanukah decor. I could easily have bought all of it, it was truly beautiful stuff. The nicest I have seen in years.) & Yule. Chanukah is centered around family, treats, sweets, and the miracle of oil lasting for eight nights, instead of one. If you don’t know the story of the Maccabees, Google it. I can probably look forward to a box of much wanted books, but I do not expect anything else on the gift front.

Yule is the Winter Solstice. It’s also the day I buried my father, so it’s hard on me. The two holidays coincide this year, but because I’m having an especially rough year I am not doing gifts for anyone, including myself. This has been my commandment of the past two years: Don’t spend money on anything extra that is not truly necessary. I’ve done well.

Every retail outlet in America will have you believing you need new EVERYTHING, and that you need it all RIGHT THIS SECOND. Between TV’s, computers, cell phones, tablets, and a plethora of other gadgets, billions of dollars will inevitably be spent no matter what. I know way too many people who spend thousands of dollars they don’t have on gifts for everyone and their Great-Uncle, and they don’t even like 9/4’s of the people they’re giving gifts to, they simply feel obligated. When their credit card statements arrive in January, they are filled with shame, remorse, and the simple fact that they are now seriously in debt, and for what?!

I’m more of a gift card kind of gal. I like choosing my own gifts, unless you’re going to Sephora, in which case, you can’t go wrong on anything (I’m joking, sort of.), but when it comes to giving, I like to do something for a person that they probably wouldn’t do for themselves. I don’t ever put a price tag on my best friends, God-daughter, or my Aunt. With my brother, I do have to limit him into a reasonable category because he always asks me for insane things. I don’t remember what I got him last year, but I do know he got exactly what he wanted/asked for, and that I spent next to nothing because I found both items on eBay for a steal. It DOES pay to shop around for the best price.

I really enjoy the quality and uniqueness of gifts on Etsy. I have bought everything from hand-crafted jewelry, sugar scrubs, and laptop cases, all the way to homemade fudge & plants for my Aunt’s garden, and pretty much everything has been great. Several pieces of jewelry were for me, and I wear them religiously. I bought an amazing leather wallet one year, and I love it to pieces. It’s got a great rock ‘n’ roll edge to it that makes it so unique looking. I’m not the least bit embarrassed to pull it out of my purse. I highly recommend doing a very thorough search of that site if you want items that are unique and affordable. Most people are taking orders now in advance of the holidays to guarantee timely delivery, and I understand that because they’re one person businesses. That’s different.

Retailers are disgustingly greedy, and yes, people need their retail jobs, I respect that, but none of us need to go running to any of those stores on Thanksgiving Day and be taken away from our families/friends. The employees themselves should also be home with their families, not running to work the very same night to “prep the store” for a pre-Black Friday opening. It gets worse every year, and it makes me sick.

This year I’ve decided to buy of all my normal stuff in advance at Walmart. Basically, that means all of my paper products, garbage bags, and 8 bags of cat litter. This will help me avoid anything there, short of the pharmacy, during all the crazy madness.

If you’re giving gifts this year, give from your heart. I’d rather receive something a person has made (craft stores are AWESOME!) than an after-thought they grabbed while trying to trample over 20 other people. The only thing I asked for this year is a scarf. I do have a nice one that (sort of) matches my coat, but I’d like something in grey. I’m allergic to wool, so this should be a fun little search in an attempt to not get sick this Winter. Perhaps I will even find a matching hat. However, the only thing I truly WANT is my health (and prosperity).

Nothing on this planet is more important than one’s health. Without it, you cannot do any of the things you want to do, should do, or need to do. Without it, you forever feel like you’re living on borrowed time. There’s nothing inside any retail store that can restore it, so consider this closely.

I know a lot of people forgo their regular “diets” during the holidays because they want to enjoy everything offered to them. There’s a reason the word “die” is in “diet”. I’m a firm believer in balance. I’m also not subjected to countless gatherings and parties, so “holiday weight” is not an issue for me. January is not my “It’s time to get back to the gym.” resolution, which most people only manage to keep up with for a few weeks, or a month, tops. I do consider which vitamins I should be taking, if there’s anything new that might physically increase my health and resistance to illness, and I try to make small changes that can make meals healthier and tastier, but all in all, I don’t obsess much. The past two years have shown me that the simplest things can be the most delicious things, and that it’s perfectly okay to have the 2nd cupcake.

So, while retailers throw everything and the kitchen sink at you in order to get you into their stores right away, consider yourself, your families, your budgets, and make a stand in advance. If you started early, good for you. If you’re strictly doing Cyber Monday, you’re probably better off. If you’re hitting the stores to chase down bargains, do so carefully and safely, and make sure you keep all your receipts, just in case.

Personally, I’m going to be un-subscribing from every single retailer that sends me an early shopping e-mail starting today. I’m utterly sick of the bullshit, but hey, that’s me. We’re all entitled to how we feel in regards to all of this meshugas. (If you don’t know what that means, Google it. Yes, that’s one of the languages I speak.)

copyright © 2014 by Lisa Marino & Blackbird Serenity LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED