Thursday, March 31, 2011

Necessities

One of my little indulgences in life is sending notes, cards, and letters by good old fashioned snail-mail. I love the textures and smells of the various papers and inks. I love suprising someone when they open up their mailbox filled with bills and sales flyers to find something personal. In the age of emails, texts, and facebook, we seem to have lost this simple and oh-so-personal means of communication. A sent card says, "I thought about you and think enough of you to take a few minutes out of my day to express that". It says, "You are worth my time". I have also decided to incorporate wax seals to the back of every envelope that I send. I feel that they give my correspondance a classic, romanticised feel. It also says to the receiver, "I think enough of you to take this one step further". There are so many beautifully crafted seals and sealing wax on the market. Finding one that you absolutely adore shouldn't be a problem. Here are some wax sealing kits available at Hobby Lobby for only $12.99. I have this one shown but the wax colors are white, red, gold, black and silver. This was my Christmas present this past year from my friend Sage. :-)


I have my own "Stationery Wardrobe". Just like my clothing wardrobe, my stationery wardrobe includes stationery that is tailored and fitted for every occasion. There is "Everyday" stationery, which is casual and optimally personalized. Here is one of my favorites from Americanstationery.com. These are 28.95 for 24 personalized cards and envelopes. Personalization on envelopes is a little more.



There is formal stationery that can be used for everyday, but is really super-quality and more traditional. Use this for baptism gifts, a note to Aunt Judy, or any other occasion that calls for a more sophisticated look. Again, from Americanstationery.com, here is a beautiful example of letter sheets and envelopes for $27.95 for 24 sheets and envelopes.


There is also seasonal stationery. These are Sympathy, Christmas, Haunukka, Birthday, Easter cards, etc. These can be found anywhere. I stock a collection of different seasonal cards. Some of my favorites have come from Target for $0.99 and even from the Dollar Tree for 2/$1. These can be anything from whimsical to serious.


With these basic cards always on hand and a sheet of stamps in your stationery drawer, it is really easy to brighten up a friend's day. Don't think that just because this is something that you or your friends have never done that you can't start. You might be suprised how many friends suprise you with the same gesture after you get started.


The one common trait all of us have is the need to feel loved and appreciated. If we want good, long lasting relationships with our friends, then we have to fill that need in one way or another. This is only one of hundreds of ways that I like to do that.


When is the last time you sent out a snail mail to a friend or loved one "just because"?






Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Friends




Tuesday nights are special. On Tuesday nights, my friend Sage and I get together at my house for DVD night. We have watched all of the episodes of "Big Bang Theory", about half of the episodes of "Charmed", and just last night finished up season 2 of "Friends".

It is a given that one of us will click the pause button on the remote at least 4 times before the disc is finished. During these pause breaks, in between running to the kitchen for another glass of wine or a snack, we talk about the characters. It has been decided (by Sage) that I am a combination of all of them. I have to admit that I do see pieces of myself in each of the characters. The problem arises when I add all of the character's main traits together and apply them in an "I am" sentence. It goes something like this:

"I am a self absorbed, nerdy, air head, commitment phobe player with O.C.D.".

YIKES!!!

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Well, Hi! I'm Diane and this is my blog. "My Friends With Benefits" is my place to talk about myself, my family, my life, and also the benefits of having wonderful (and some not-so-wonderful) friends. Sorry to disappoint if you were looking for something juicy and ended up here. I'm sure you will get over it. First, I'll share a little about myself. I'm 43, married, and a mother to a 21 year old man-child. I work full time and actually like my job. I dream about sand, salt air, palm trees, and sunshine. In the last year I have been skydiving, ziplining, white water rafting, and S.C.U.B.A diving. I love diving so much that I became a certified PADI Rescue Diver. I may or may not pursue Dive Master because I'm not so good at algebra (and there's a lot involved). I'm going to leave you with a post about my first skydiving experience, which I never would have done without the benefit of a friend to coax me along. This post was originally written in June of 2010. I hope you enjoy.
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 My best girlfriend Boots said to me a few months back, "Go skydiving with me". I smiled and told her that it was something I had always wanted to do. My husband and I had been to Las Vegas several times and I had actually called about pricing for a tandem jump. When the voice on the other end of the phone cheerfully said "300 dollars", I said "Thank you" and promptly hung up the phone. I told my husband I couldn't see spending $300 dollars on something that would only last a few minutes when we could see "Sigfried and Roy" or "Mystere" twice for that.

 "Its a life changing experience", she assured me. I mulled over this "life changing experience" and decided that she was exaggerating. I would jump from an airplane, experience free fall, float down to earth, and when I got back on my feet my life would just pick up where I left off. Nothing will have changed after a skydive. My same old job would still be waiting for me. My same old home would still need to be cleaned. My husband and dog would still need to be fed. How life changing could this really be? After a bit of coaxing (I still couldn't see paying that kind of money), I decided to go along with it.

Fast forward to May 16, 2010. My friend, Boots made reservations for us at Raeford Parachute Center and I found myself suited up in a gawd-awful looking blue jumpsuit, a less than flattering padded "helmet", and a harness that made my body crimp and fold in all the wrong places. I was, however, going to be attached to a real cutie of a tandem instructor :P


The flight up was long. It took us three solid weeks to get to altitude. Well, not really. It took maybe 15 minutes but it did seem like three weeks. I was so excited I could barely stop grinning. That, combined with the uber-ugly jumpsuit made for some really goofy looking pictures. I watched out of the open door of the plane as the earth slowly moved farther and farther away. I anticipated what the initial drop would feel like. I wondered how the long, steady free fall would make me feel. I wondered what terminal velocity would actually be like. Then, I wondered if I was normal, as I hadn't yet been nervous.

The tandem instructor hooked me up to him and tightened down all the connections. I was attached to him tighter than I had expected to be. It was a really secure feeling. He then instructed me to position the two of us in front of the open door. This is the first and only time I actually got nervous. I'm naturally clumsy, and could see myself slipping and causing the two of us to fall out of the plane before he was ready. Then, I realized that although it wouldn't be the ideal way to go out of the plane, that is where we were going to end up anyway. I slowly and carefully positioned us in front of the door. "Are you ready?" he asked. "I'm ready", I said with a grin. He bent forward and we tumbled out of the plane into the clouds.

The first few seconds I was disoriented, but quickly found myself facing the earth. He tapped me on my shoulder, which was my signal that I could open my arms out and experience the free fall in the correct position. This didn't feel like falling. It didn't feel as if I was in danger. All I felt was wind and total freedom. I screamed out "WHOOOooOOOOOOo" to the top of my lungs. I decided during free fall that this was the most awesome thing I had ever experienced in my life.


When the chute opened there was an amazingly relaxing silence. I felt myself glide and soar in the sky. It was peaceful and relaxing. The instructor told me to grab the yellow straps he was holding and proceeded to show me how to speed up our decent, how to slow it down, and showed me how to steer left and right. I was actually maneuvering the parachute on my own! As I pulled down on the right strap, the chute angled and turned right. I pulled down on the left strap and we turned the opposite direction. I was actually flying; soaring like an eagle.


The drift down lasted maybe five minutes and we landed back on the ground. The second I stood up, all I could think was "I wanna do that again"! I was so excited, I was pumped up, I was full of adrenaline. I had actually loved doing what I had put off for so many years and regretted not doing it sooner. The $300 is a very small price to pay for such an amazing experience.


I made that jump one year ago. Since my feet hit the ground after that jump, I have wanted to experience so many other things I wouldn't have been willing to do before. I want to go hang gliding. I want to go scuba diving. I want to go kite surfing. I want to... well, you get the idea. Skydiving really IS a life changing experience.