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It IS a happy birthday- everyday

My husband hates hearing of Christmas at any time other than December. I on the other hand love the Christmas spirit. I love the warmth of it all. I love that people think of others then. Yup I am a sap.

It’s been one hell of a couple of weeks. Physically, emotionally, mentally it’s been rugged. A lot of it is just how it is. It’s health . It’s chronic progress conditions (diseases sound so sick). It’s those little hic cups in life. It’s the bigger ones. It’s adjusting, accepting , and fighting for an inch. In some ways, it’s resignation. It’s remembering a past that is that past. One of the things about the past is that it IS past. It’s behind us. It’s been left there, put there. We’ve left it there. It’s kept itself there in some cases. It’s been lived. Time moves us ahead.  But there are always those triggers that call us back to memories, to feelings. Now some (usually guys for whatever reasons) claim that they do not have memories churned up from songs- but most- especially women and men who aren’t afraid to admit it, do. Times of year take all of us back to another time. Birthdays are one of those times- especially as years go on. I remember few of my birthdays over time. Seriously few in all my lifetime. From my childhood I remember the tradition of cake and ice cream and a gift or two. As an adult I honestly don’t remember my birthdays. I remember when married to my second husband that his mom would make her chicken dinner for Sunday dinner closest to my birthday. She always has nurtured any and all who enter her heart and home.

I remember the birthday when my present husband got me a rescued greyhound…she would become more bonded with my husband- dogs pick their people. After our oldest greyhound died, she took over caring for my husband as the first one did, Really quite sweet of that dog.

I remember my 16th birthday as I broke up with a sweet funny Greek god handsome humble intelligent athletic really funny guy whose former girlfriend was broken hearted and wanted him back. I knew I was no match for her so I bowed out. (Changed my mind and got my esteem up enough to go to see him that night with the intention of explaining and hoping he’d understand but upon going there, found out they were out together. ) Never told him. It was also the one time in my life when friends were invited for cake and ice cream at our home- a few of my close friends.  It was a bittersweet thing that day. The 16 yr excitement was not the thrill so many seem to feel then. But later I realized it was much more realistic. I had done probably the best most selfless thing at that time- even if misguided by thinking I was not up to the challenge- but also felt he was no doubt happier with her. She was prettier. more popular. family had more money. funnier person. She was a cheerleader for heaven sake.hahaha But I digress- a lot.

I remember the birthday the year my mom died when my sister came to my place with a couple of things mom had put aside for me with a 2 sentence note in mom’s handwriting. It was the most touching birthday gift in all my lifetime. I hadn’t been able to truly mourn until later that night- when I allowed myself to do so, to let it go.

Of course before that I remember years before being pregnant with my first born, my son. All I remember was feeling him moving around inside of me and thinking there could be nothing better than feeling this life inside of me.

This year I feel closer to the ending than I ever have on my birthday.  I have outlived my dad by 7 years so far. I intend to live healthily (functionally) for a lot of years ahead. Of course I also thought I’d live out my life being one of those ancient nurses who was working long into her beyond retirement years (okay partly because I SO mismanaged my finances over the years- 2 divorces and wanting to prove to my kids that I could handle this took its toll- advancing ms was what wiped out the last of my savings. Oh and falling for a scam here and there). Anyway… I look back at my parents on my birthday. I remember what they taught me. I think of how I failed us both over the years- long past when they were alive and ever knew. But I knew. It’s an ongoing process of forgiving myself for me. But as I have this birthday I immerse myself in today- giving myself permission to let go of beating myself up for my many imperfections and wrong decisions in my life. You know I always try to teach that gifts of the heart mean more than gifts of the pocket. And this year I realize the one person who can and ought to give me a gift no one else can is myself. I have carried around this pain, this ache, this disappointment in myself for far too long. I have told my kids before that they are responsible for their own happiness, not their parents, their teachers, their employers or employees, not their bank accounts, not their children or their pets. ANd I have denied myself the freedom from my own judgment and punishment. I want to say it ends here. But I know it will be an ongoing process.

But the assumption of the fallout from it all has been accepted. And now it’s time to learn from it and release it. Happy birthday me.

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To say goodbye to you

 

   It had been a clear comfortable day outside yesterday. Football on the tv in the afternoon with many intermissions for me. Yes they were intermissions. It wasn’t half time. It was me taking a break to go outside and enjoy the day with my dogs. Late in the afternoon  I look at the screen as I hear actual recordings of the air waves from 9-11-2001. Minutes into it as I watched the footage the trembling began. It’s a reaction I’ve had since that day whenever it is brought to life again. I had held together that day. I imagine this is one of those times when everyone remembers exactly where they were when they found out about the attacks. I was at work in a doctor’s office, getting ready for the usual day. The waiting room started welcoming people during the previous hour.  There was an audible gasp I heard in the hallway as I buzzed from room to room setting up. Quickly I came into the waiting room. I had left the door open to the hallway so I could hear as people came in and if anyone needed help. A middle aged woman was sitting paler than she was earlier when I first greeted her that morning. Her hands were up to her mouth and tears were welling up in her eyes. As we watched together, it seemed surreal. After the second plane hit and it was clear to be an attack, I thought this is what it had to feel like upon hearing of the attack on Pearl Harbor… except these were citizens, people just going about their days. These weren’t the wealthy upper echelon who make money on the backs of others. These were the others who worked to keep the wheels turning in industry, in banking. These were our commoners and I thought that it bore similarities to the attacks on London in WWII. Only this was something so unsuspected by the American public. Up until this point we had not known what it was like to watch the actions of fanatics killing thousands of people so blatantly in broad daylight in such a public way. The lady in the waiting room looked far worse for the wear and as I took her blood pressur, it became clear to me it was time to remove her from the waiting  room. I took her to a room took down some information and put a call in to the doctor to ask that she attempt to get to the office ASAP and that if she was unable to do so then I would have to call for an ambulance for this woman. I then went into the waiting room and asked those who were waiting if they would rather we change the channel. Their need for information kept them captive none opted to leave the room or to have the channel changed. Who could have gone about as though they hadn’t witnessed such horror and with the question of what else was unfolding? We watched in horror as the first tower fell. As those around me asked each other- and themselves really- how could this be, I found myself wondering about those aboard the planes. Were their families seeing this unfold? They didn’t know at the time of impact what planes they were but I knew this would play again and again. I wondered about their last moments of life. How many had seen what was about to happen? What horrors had they witnessed on board before this happened? Did they have time to kiss someone they loved or hug someone next to them before their end? Did they feel at peace as they prayed or had they been overwhelmed with panic? Had they all been able to hug and kiss those they loved before leaving on their journeys that day? (I thought of this as I  had not been able to hug my dad goodbye before leaving for school on the last day of his life as he was not yet up and around. I always had done so and this haunted me for years.) I prayed they were all at peace and I prayed for the families of the untold numbers inside the building and for all those emergency workers as we watched them flood into the area, into the towers. At that point I had not realized the tragedy of their bravery. When the second tower fell I felt brought to my knees. As I watched it seemed that with all the debris, the humanity within, the immense amount of ash were flowing the very tears of God and mankind. The biblical passage, :He wept.” came to mind amid the chaos of words and emotions buzzing all around me at this point. I went about my duties. I tried to be present in the moment of my work and not just go through the motions. I tried to make those who were there that day feel cared for- as they were. As I looked into each set of eyes I thought of the preciousness of having the honor to care for them, to be their nurse that day. (I always found it funny to hear of myself referred to as the doctor’s nurse. I worked for and with her- but I saw myself as their nurse.) I always tried to teach my kids that everyone was somebody’s someone. In thinking of this I had a thought I could not share. I thought of the families of those who had done this knowing they were also taking their lives. I thought of their parents, their children, their spouses. Had they known their loved ones were going of to do such a hateful act? Had they known when they gave their last hug to them? This personal type of pain was not something anyone wanted to allow themselves to soften their thinking enough to have any kind of empathy for anyone involved in the committing of this terrible thing. Not even if they didn’t know about it. NOt even if they weren’t of the same ideology. The country hated at that moment and did not want it clouded up with anything more complex. The country had been caught off guard and this feeling of being vulnerable was a frightening experience. By the time word came out about the Pentagon, we all began to wonder just how vulnerable we now were. We wondered if there would be an end to this attack or was it the beginning of an onslaught, a take over. Would our country answer with a nuclear bomb, setting off world destruction? I called the man I still loved-even though we were apart. I wanted to say goodbye- in case that was what was coming. I knew life was about to change. I knew our view of life would not be the same again. That night I hugged my daughters so tightly. I tried to put all the unspoken prayers into my embraces. I tried to hug the apology for the world we were leaving for them to inherit. I had heard that we were borrowing the planet from our children. I wept for the way we were handling it. I wept for such hate. I sobbed for the degree of hate that unfolded that da I wept for what was yet to come.  ached for all the empty arms that night. It reminded me of the way I felt during the bombing of the Murrow building  in Oklahoma City. just heartbreak and anger at the senselessness of it.  Heartbreak for all the life well deserved and not able to come to fruition.

   The television shows all aimed at trying to provide a clarity, an understanding to the events that went on that day. They try to help us understand the perspective from those involved first hand and from those who experienced it on a very personal level. Not to be misled, this was personal for every American. We didn’t have to know the people lost that day, the people swept from the life they deserved to live out to their natural end. We felt the pain. We felt and prayed right along with those who were having their worlds change drastically in those moments. Those of us who knew the risks prayed for those who worked at the site for the weeks , the months to come. We prayed as our men and women departed for a country unknown to most of us. Let’s face it, few of us could pick it out on a map before then. WHile part of the country cheered on an action to bring about justice, the rest of the country began to worry about a war based on retribution in a vague direction not really knowing who exactly was responsible. But our leaders took on the attitude of doing something was better than nothing. There were just as many innocent people who stood to be affected but that was collateral damage to authorities. To many people they were innocents caught in the crosshairs of what was shaping into a religious war no matter how it was dressed up. The wars that followed left more tears. These battles weren’t really over land or resources. These were presented as wars over souls, wars over the right to believe as a person chooses. They were about the right to live without the fear of losing one’s life in an act of terrorism meant to be a forewarning of our ultimate destruction and total irradication of all who do not share their views. I have thought of what they would then resort to once they got rid of every other faith, every person in the west. Would they then turn on themselves. I have long held these fanatics were people who were actually serial killers who found their way of elevating their depravity to an act of heroism in their view. Delusions of grandeur were and are at the heart of people who believe themselves to be so above all else that they can’t think through their actions, their minds, their feelings well enough to see they are committing these acts of hate on the same creations of the god they worship. They believe th

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These Dreams

   Now it hadn’t been so long ago that she felt like she had been living the dream, her dream. She wasn’t on easy street by any measure. So what was so right? She was loving her work. She felt the contribution she was making in her work and enjoyed the competency she had attained through her diligence in keeping up on topics in her area of study. She had been a nurse for so long that her experience held her in a trusted place with those around her. She could use her head, be flexible and creative, to improvise and work with what was at hand in those situations that called for it. Her personal life had always been a roller coaster- with her love life in the first car, her finances in the second one. Still her kids were alive and while having their health concerns, were by and large healthy and fairly well adjusted considering the numbers of adjustments they lived through with her. She felt that she should have done better by them. Looking back she felt she could have done better by all of them including herself. She always hated the expression of having no regrets. Was she such a loser? Or were people just so good at not owning their actions that they felt they’d not have changed a thing?

   Now with her health bouncing all over the place, she still dreamt of that life. She knew she wouldn’t be back in that career. She has a burning within to reinvent herself. But to start over with her hurdles is something she just isn’t certain which way to turn. She looks to her passions and finds herself to be a mosaic of loves. She loves animals and has rescued more dogs than most. She loves music, loved playing the guitar though now her hands, fingers rebel. Would love to provide avenues for kids to become involved in learning to play instruments…but need to be able to have funds to do such things. I’d love to learn a new instrument… a violin or viola, or piano,,,but I can’t afford any right now. :(

   I’d love to have an animal rescue sanctuary… but here I am with limited resources and would need facility.

Are any of these doable. Maybe with some help. Now to access help with it all. A dear friend has helped me file  to begin a charity for greyhounds, still working on the 503 thing. Oh well. just trying to do the live out loud thing. Suggestions/ Comments?

 

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Til um…let’s hope we don’t part

   There are all kinds of red flags in life. There are little incidents that stand out as we grow up that can tell us a lot about ourselves if we don’t become obsessed with being defensive and instead open our minds to try to get  a more objective view. If we can teach our children to do this we may spare them one of the biggest mistakes people have made probably throughout time.

   True story…I remember a discussion with someone who was to be my husband in a few months. We were discussing the matter of fidelity and the life time commitment.  During the discussion he said that while he couldn’t look into the future, that he had no crystal ball, as far as he could tell we would be together for our lifetimes. Now that, my friends, is about as big of a red flag as there might be. I was crushed. I thought first of all, how could he belittle the discussion- okay I took it as belittling me- by the whole crystal ball thing? I was stunned. Why would he want me to marry him? WHy would he want to marry him if  he wasn’t really marrying me? Needless to say quite a discussion arose. Eventually he recanted what he had said. Should that have been enough? Of course not. There needed to be much MUCH more deep reflection and consideration. Of course not me…I didn’t want to seem harsh , demanding, high maintenance. Now I look back on that and think, “Was I brain dead?” It’s so clear to me now. And it explains how it is a love once so passionate became so mundane and with a spouse so withdrawn from intimacy. There were numbers of other things that forewarned me but I refused to give them credence. Sure I delayed it and he delayed it…but eventually we went ahead. The funny thing was how so many have said anyone who knew us knew we always were meant to be, that we always had belonged together. Surely in those days there was a chemistry. There was a strong friendship.

   I think back to the days of my parents. Divorces were few. My parents fought like cats and dogs much of my childhood- or so I thought. Now looking back the reasons are more obvious. She had trust issues (possibly from experiences- I don’t know.) . He was an alcoholic with PTSD from WWII as well as some brain injuries no doubt. (Numerous concussions during war.). Theirs was a convoluted psychological study. They never got therapy . Their last year of marriage seemed smoother than the some total of what I had seen. Had they found a key, had they evolved, or had they felt that  ticking of time which was soon to part them between life and death? We will never know and I could never bring myself to ask my mother. People by and large held to their vows as far as not leaving each other…though their other vows may not have been fulfilled. Was it because they couldn’t bear to see themselves as someone who would desert another or leave someone behind? Was it simply where their integrity held fast? We are after all human and constantly prove our imperfections. But we also have this desire to be better than that, to be kind and compassionate and good… unless we’re psychopaths or so narcissistic that we are all about our gratification with little if any concern for another.

   SO what is happening in today’s world? Well we went through the times when prenuptials were considered just wise legal thinking. But what did that say? For some it said, well I don’t have a crystal ball, so I am protecting what is MINE. To others it said  that the reality was that half of all marriages just do not make it so it was being realistic in an attempt to avoid bickering down the road.  My thinking is that people might be wise to make a contract like a prenuptial when living together. Isn’t marrying supposed to cause us to give the best of ourselves? Isn’t that where we dig deep down to levels of maturity and understanding beyond any depth we ever knew we had before? It seems it became a destination instead of the journey that living life really is.

   So in today’s world, I look at my kids and feel more hopeful. My son and his wife are a couple who have proven themselves to be committed to each other. Their journey has taken them through life threatening illness and financial distress, career changes and It has taken commitment and love and compromise and growth. Any people who go through cancer know that while that person experiences it as no other person, the whole family experiences going through cancer from their own perspective. This is not something that just goes on for the crisis treatment ,surgery times. This follows them. They have done marriage better than most. It is clear in their eyes when they look at each other. My son talked with her parents before proposing. This wasn’t just a matter of practice. This was a process both he and her family took seriously. Her mother had one question. “Would you die for my daughter?” Does this seem extreme? I don’t think so. I think it sums up what’s required. Wait. Not saying a spouse has to die for another, but if you know that you would be willing to die for this person, then how much does it take to rise above whatever else comes your way? It gives a point of comparison. He also talked with her dad and her sisters before asking her. This was very wise.

   My daughters have shown more wisdom in finding their choices in life. They learned that they are complete just the way they are. They realize that relationships are to provide that type of journey through life and not to validate them as women or people. They built their careers through their own efforts and have their own leisure interests, some shared with partners, some not. They know balance better than I ever have. Oh they aren’t perfect- none of my kids. And their outlooks surely aren’t. But I think they are way ahead of the curve in that they have less fear about their place in life. I am proud of them. I do more learning from them than they know. Of course they have been my greatest facilitators in learning from the time they came to be.

SO what the heck am I saying? I’m saying that we as parents owe it to our kids to be open and honest enough to talk with our kids. We need to be placing the emphasis on the important stuff in their development and not how to be the hottest thing, the best looking, the one with a boyfriend/girlfriend throughout high school. We have to teach our kids to figure out who they are. What their strengths and weaknesses are and what they can do to grow is really important before bringing a relationship into the mix.

   So much emphasis in the media is superficial with kids pretending to be in adult relationships has left youth with a messed up idea about reality. It’s sad how the emphasis on what’s important is so misled by parents. How many kids have so many activities that they don’t have time to know themselves? How many families are that? How many spend any time together? How many work together on projects around home or anywhere as a family? How many discuss values? How many live them? We need to do better for the future generations! We need to hold ourselves accountable. We need to not be afraid to be unpopular, redefine cool in our homes, and to encourage and to nurture our children leading them, guiding them as they find their ways in life. then let us listen, hear our kids’ concerns. As adult children, let us listen and offer advice when asked. We need to be their sounding boards when asked. We need to remember they need to be allowed to make their own way in life. They have earned the right to make their own mistakes. There is an exception to all of this. When they are choosing self destructive or illegal ways as their paths, we owe it to them to be very honest and open. Then we leave it in a power greater than ours.

 

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Moving ahead on the house project

   That moment when the plumbers leave only expected back to explain things to my husband. The house sounds silent. The dogs are falling into a deep sleep. My exhaustion has gotten a burst of energy to get through the morning. The dogs didn’t sleep well last night. They are off their usual routine whenever there are workers in the house. The sounds and smells are different. Their nervousness leads them to be restless at night. That means my sleep is also affected. SO when I got up at 6 this morning, I got dressed and laid back down, not knowing whether the plumbers were coming back today. They were going to come back yesterday but hadn’t. no calls. I wasn’t certain what happened but figured there was an emergency of some sort. This bathroom project wasn’t affecting my life, as there is the downstairs bathroom. It’s just that I think they are happy to be done with another job…and out of my crazy house of dogs.

   Now for distractions…ate the apple from the counter- didn’t want to leave it until those little fruit flies move into our home. Finished the end of the pretzel chips because I wanted the salt at the end of the box. Hey! At least I didn’t lick the salt off of the pretzel chips and put them back inside the box. (Had known someone once who did that with pretzels. Not a welcome surprise to be the next person with her in the bag. But gave me a comparison that helps me fight off the guilt from scavenging the bottom of the bags for salt. lol Dysfunctional much? Nah no more than usual.

What is it about doing things clearly over one’s head, long past one’s strength that is so satisfying? Could it be because of the mental stimulation and pride in figuring an easier way to make it possible for you to do it? COuld it be as simple as not feeling useless and having one foot out of life? Could it be the burst of endorphins? COuld it bee the tautness of the muscles having overdone and now trying to go into recovery mode? I am uncertain. Maybe it’s a combination of it all. Having done that today, I am still on the upside of this. A little later there is going to be the host of anguishing pain to go through me. It’s inevitable…the price of over doing something. Why must it begin with leg cramps and cramps  in the rhombus muscles…the wings behind the shoulder blades. This is clearly a weak spot for me as this is so easily triggered. And here it comes. Oh well, time to move about a little, hoping to ease the pain.

This of course reminds me of my remedy for worry and for pain. Get up and get a move on. Also do something for someone else- human or animal. It takes your mind off of yourself and takes it into being productive and useful. That kind of generosity gives back to you as much as you give of yourself.

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AH

Does it get better than this? I have thought that in my lifetime when I thought that things couldn’t possibly be better. Usually accompanied with a twinge of I wonder when that other foot will fall. I would push thoughts out of my mind that made me fear what it was that would eventually end the bliss. It was obvious that something would eventually bring down the incredible high of when life just seems so darn “right”. After all things just don’t stay that way- which is why we can’t base our happiness on the situations in our lives. Otherwise life will wag you by your tail. There are just naturally ups and downs in life. Your happiness has to be bound to something more stable. There has to be a way to tie your happiness to who you are, how you choose to be. Now certainly some events shake a person’s foundation. There will be those events that will make you sad about them. But even people in mourning can be people who are positive people. Some come by it naturally, finding those things in a situation to be thankful for, things that are the best of a situation. Many of us have to work at it more than others. And I believe everyone struggles with it at times in their lives- even the MOST positive people.
Now I had asked that question to the cosmos when I wondered if things were ever going to look up. There are those times in life when hurts are so deep, when enough negative needs come one thing after another when a person can’t help but wonder if this is the circling drain or will things improve before you get sucked down the drain of despair.
Home ownership is one of the great American dreams- or so I am told. And it can be a wonderful feeling having that one special roof over your head that is your family’s mecca. But it is not without its downsides. The onslaught of home repair- especially when your home is over 150 years old in parts- can be overwhelming. It isn’t just things that require updating. It’s those things that need updating and in the process something yet not updated breaks and in doing so damages something else. These are some of the nightmares of home repair and why no matter how good a person is at parts of home repair when it comes to plumbing, foundations, electrical, a professional needs to be called in to minimize the damage and the repairs of what happens when it isn’t done right.
This week I found myself asking this question of does it get better? I did stop myself thinking how so many have it worse than me. I told myself realistically this old house needs so much that to fix it all would involve more money than we will have in our lifetimes. Still my husband insists that we will be here til we die. I insist that we won’t and that if we sell it for enough ,we will be able to afford something more affordable and less wasteful for us. Of course my husband disagrees. I have seen this a lot- where the woman wants to downsize but the man does not. I imagine it has to do with the idea that men see their home along the manly lines of having provided this for his family. To lose that is for a man what emptying the nest is for the couple- only magnified. It comes as he sees his earning potential diminishing if not limited. The man feels the aging creeping in his body and does not want to acknowledge it in his home as well. Okay well, that’s my theory.
SO how this will pan out in the end ought to be curious. My husband is stubborn if he is anything. While I think I am realistic, my husband would disagree. This is due to how he sees that there are clouds in the sky somewhere that will likely find their way over his head…and I tend to think that there is much to be lived while the sun is out and there’s umbrellas and shelter to be found for when it storms. I see my life as not fully lived. He sees his life as winding down. I see the freedom that could be open to us now that our kids are grown. He sees the house as an entity that requires him to care for it til death do they part. Sigh… While others have saved for this time in life, we are out of resources there. While others reinvent their lives and while he was certainly up for changes when younger, now that there are not the others in our home to consider, he feels insecure if he is not following his current path. He thinks of the dogs, as do I- but we think of them and their lives dissimilarly. I know they are capable of adjustments and changes…something I wondering whether he is capable of anymore. I think we can be living our lives in an exciting way where what we do matters and counts in this world. Or counts to us! I like the phrase “Living out loud.” I like the thought of exhaling and diving into life. It’s scary- of course it’s scary. It’s unknown. But to me that’s part of the living of life. It’s the unknown that gets the adrenalin flowing. It’s the unknown that unfolds and forces us into problem solving and creative thinking. It’s the unknown that takes us out of our comfort zone to see sights we never knew were there. It’s the unknown that gets us to push our limits and allows us to do those things we never imagined we could. It’s the unknown that thrills us, surprises us, shocks us, teaches us, and at times stops us in our tracks and take inventory. Here’s to tomorrow-the known and unknown, the struggles, the triumphs and failures, the passage of time, and the living of life. May we do it as best we can. May we live it as fully we can. May we put one foot in front of the other and walk upright, reveling in our joys.

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