Tag Archives: eating out

Big Celebrations and Simple Pleasures

20140611_145401We wore our Hawaiian attire just ’cause we could. For a joke in a way. A celebration of the memories of 25 years of marriage.

We matched. We rejoiced in the fact our clothes from that trip 16 years ago fit. That life together had held many special moments.

We got a lot of stares. Of comments. A group of teens on their break stood smoking outside a restaurant and snickered.

I smiled and waved. “Hey! We have a good reason!” I bantered. “It’s our 25th wedding anniversary, and we’re wearing a memory.”

They cheered for us then.

I never knew what a conversation starter bright, out-of-date, Hawaiian attire could be.

Honestly, I was a little embarrassed by all the attention, but I’m glad we did it. It was like a shout to the world that marriage can be fun. Can last. That you can still play together after 25 years.20140611_230050

At Trader Joe’s the comments on our floral glory drew attention to our special day. They gave us flowers. We bought dark chocolate and wine, which we shared later that night.

It was a different kind of anniversary celebration for us. We weren’t able to get away for an overnight. We didn’t escape to traipse around in the mountains like we often do on special occasions.

We ran around town.

We shopped.

We ate out.

It wasn’t really very Jerry and Paula-ish. We’re not big shoppers.

But it was glorious.

I bought Jerry really good new shoes. He bought me silver jewelry. Yes, his gift was more romantic, but I swear those are the best tennis shoes my man has ever worn!

It was a joy to buy each other gifts. There were years we couldn’t.

20140611_193408After the hoopla we returned home to dress for dinner. I wasn’t quite up to making a matching spectacle at the nice Italian place we’d chosen. Besides, when I shopped for a dress to wear to Bernice’s memorial service I couldn’t believe how many dresses actually fit, and I bought a special one and saved it for this special day, hoping Jerry would like it. Would think I looked yummy in it and show it. ;o)

He did.

I’m still stunned I can find clothes I like so easily after all those years of hating everything, struggling to find something that fit, much less looked okay.

How foreign to like buying clothes again after my weight loss journey.


And wonderful.

20140611_205508But back to our special day.

The beautiful dining experience that evening included live music and elegant food paired with a lovely wine.

Being the writer I am I people-watched in between those moments of staring deeply into my lover’s eyes. ;o)

Some people didn’t seem that happy. It was like it wasn’t special to  them to eat that good food, to stare at each other across the table, to enjoy a beautiful atmosphere and glass of good wine.

To them it was just another Friday night.

“If it ever gets to the point  that we do this all the time, and we suddenly realize it’s no longer special, let’s just stop,” I said.

Jerry agreed.

Life is too precious to blaze past beautiful moments.

I don’t ever want to take gifts for granted.

I hope I won’t.

Our normal is a meal at home, and these days there are less and less faces around that table, but every one who is there is precious and every meal we share a joy.

And oh the glory when those kids all come home and crowd around the table! Every time someone thanks me for the meal, every time we’re together like that I feel the gift of such a commonplace thing and think it extraordinary, even though it happens at some level pretty much weekly.

So maybe there’s hope that a special meal like the one on our anniversary night won’t lose the magic either, even if it becomes a new normal when the kids skitter away to build their own nests.

If it does, I hope I’ll quit going to nice restaurants.

Life is full of gifts.

Some are very simple. Like the aroma of freshly popped popcorn.

Some are extravagant, like four dresses in one day.

But all are there for the taking–a little notice, a little unwrapping, a little celebrating.

Until Next Time,

paula cropped


Plugging In Again

First off, can I simply say I’ve missed you?

The last few weeks have been crazy busy. I’ve taught on writing or being a writer or encouraging writers four times–and had a blast talking about MY writing at a local book club.

Besides all that speaking stuff, I’ve been to Montrose, Breckenridge, and Estes Park; spent several glorious days with my best buddies from college days; hosted company; attended part of a Life Force leadership conference with hubby; and welcomed a wonderful young man from Spain into our home.

It’s very satisfying except for the fact I had some minor withdrawal issues when I was unplugged from almost all media for most of a week and didn’t write this blog!

That said, I did NOT give up on my journey to health. Here’s a picture to prove it:

salad at restaurant 2

Last Monday night my girlfriends indulged me by leaving our internet free zone at a cabin in Breckenridge so I could teach at the historic Milheim Mansion in Denver.


Before the speaking engagment, my friends and I ate out together. Eating out usually means I get what I WANT, and that is NOT usually a salad. But that night I truly wanted the salad. (Will wonders never cease?) It sounded exotic with cranberries and nuts and some fancy grain and a fancy cheese I’d never heard of. (Maybe that’s part of my growing up as an eater, trying unfamiliar things. I’m still pretty tenuous, but there was a little stretching going on that night.) I’ve often joked that I still eat like a two year-old, but this time I didn’t.

salad at restaurant

Well, mostly I didn’t. I did separate out all the chunks of chicken and cheese because they just didn’t seem to combine well. So I still had little piles on my plate where I played with my food.

salad at restaurant 3

Still, the healthy meal was just right for the tummy as it started to feel a bit nervous before my teaching gig. As it turned out I LOVED teaching on characterization and got great feedback from the attendees. It was a round robin approach so I taught three times in a row. And of course I over-prepared, so I was talking super fast to cover the most important part of my notes.

Afterwards I was hyper and hungry. It was late, and we had a long drive back up the mountain. Since I keep it real here on A Benew Journey, I feel compelled to tell you that I ate a snack purchased at . . . oh, ouch, I hate to admit it . . . McDonalds. That’s what was open right off I-70 at 11 p.m. The good news is I had a fruit smoothie instead of a oreo shake. The bad news (especially after bragging that I hadn’t done this since last October) is that I had McDonalds fries.

I tell you that kind of stuff to help us both guard against all or nothing thinking. Yes, I caved to something unhealthy late on a Monday night. But that didn’t mean my whole journey to health was sabotaged. In fact, after eating mostly healthy and doing a lot of walking and hiking Breckenridge I actually came home a pound or two lighter as well as a bit wiser. More on that next time . . .

What About You? Would love to hear about YOUR summer escapades.

Weight Loss Journey Day 10

booksigning with Kathy and Mary 11-2-12 - Copy (2)

No, Paula, no. Don’t tuck your shirt in yet! (This was a booksigning for Postmark: Christmas. The other two authors are Mary Davis and Kathy Kovach.)

Had a booksigning tonight. Had to eat out while traveling. We went to Panda Express. Instead of my favorite dish there (orange chicken), I chose Mandarin chicken because it wasn’t breaded or fried and could be purchased without the sauce. (YES, I KNOW there are other dishes full of vegetables and less calories and greater nutrition, but just because I’m on a diet doesn’t mean I’ve learned to like veggies!!!) I could tell I was a little smaller, but the pictures posted to facebook didn’t show it. Ugh. Tired of fat Paula pictures on facebook—and while I screen out the worst when I post myself, other people post awful pictures all the time!

Weight loss 12-29-12

Getting there. Finally a picture posted to fb that didn’t embarrass me. Taken 12-29-12 (The book is Joy Dance, by my friend Robbie Iobst. Wonderful devotional!)

Real Time Update:

Yes, that awful first shot of me in my sticky post at the top of my blog–the sequence of three–is the picture taken this day, the second of November. I hadn’t been tucking in my shirt for years, but for some reason just the few pounds I had lost made me do it on this day. As is shown in the picture, it was still NOT a good choice, but I’m comforted now because it was part of the journey. I look very different than I did that day . . . I can lose weight–and so can you. I’m down not quite 30 pounds. Would love to drop at least 20 more before I buy my mother-of-the bride dress this spring.

How About You?

Made a bad fashion choice and had it blasted all over fb? Or, on the positive, how have you adjusted eating out to better meet your goals? Do you have a date set for meeting a certain weight loss goal?