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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 And it explains how it is a love once so passionate became so mundane and with a spouse so withdrawn from intimacy.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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Those voices in your head

So today let’s talk about those voices in your head. Oh come one! We do all have them. They are the years of people in our lives trying to encourage us, guide us, lead us. Some were more critical. SOme were voices that mattered. SOme were voices that were never voices that ought to have been heard. SOme were undeserved. SOme needed to be heard- even though they weren’t welcome.
Thing is that I find it amazing how over a lifetime there are so many of those words crammed into our head. And I’d be willing to say for far too many people, it’s the negative voices that are held onto. You know… like when Aunt Betty mentioned like 30 years ago that I always did have a fat ass. That was just precious. lol No really I loved my aunt with all my heart. Initially I was crushed by this- but also a bit scared. Had my ass been huge and I didn’t see that as such- but everyone else did? Who knows what drives people to say the things they do? For me it’s not having a filter. For them it may be to make us see something in a different way. People aren’t always too gentle in doing so. So what impact do we allow them to have and how do we filter out what needs to stick? There are easy ways to filter the emotion out of everything we’ve heard but we can choose to filter out our emotions out of what we feel from what we hear. We can choose to hear things but to not attach an emotional response to them. We can ask what truths lie within their comments and what to do about that. We can reach into our souls for perspective. We can tuck the pride of being right and so grown up now and being able to remember what we choose to the side. We can be open to the emotions of others. And we can realize that being sanctimonious doesn’t leave room for love or growth. We can realize that we can be kind voices in another’s head or part of the poison they take in when they decide to feel sorry for themselves.

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Behind the Sneeze

There she was in a picture posted on facebook, huddled in the bathroom. She had sick posture. She has sick face, sick eyes. My heart is broken. A sick dog does that to me. They’re so helpless- being unable to speak words to help us help them. They look SO sad when sick or hurt. And we know they feel SO awful. I mean anyone brought to the bathroom floor out of sickness knows how close to death they felt…and the worse part was knowing this would not end anytime soon. Geez the dogs don’t even know there will be an end to how they feel. They are so rarely sick- what would they know of getting better? Today Chloe stopped eating but seemed more perky and nose was wet and cold today. Puma started sneezing this morning. It isn’t easy watching and waiting- waiting for improvement, waiting to see if anyone else is going to come down with it.
It’s that way with a lot in life. Hard thing it is to wait and see. Whether it’s watching how someone’s health is to progress or whether to see what develops in a relationship, or in a job, or in a vacation, it isn’t road. We tend to be more comfortable when we can be involved in influencing the outcome. It’s easier when we can do something that will make a difference. Equally it is so frustrating to stand by and be supportive but not be able to turn the tide on something one way or another. Sometimes though that’s exactly how things ought to be. it’s something that teaches us and nurtures us in knowing all of life is not under our control. It reminds us of our place in the universe. It reminds us of the bigger picture. In a sense it is the great equalizer, these times in life. It is what strengthens us and weakens us bringing us to our knees. It is life and this is experienced by all.

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Last cookie twice in one week

This week I realized that my whole life I have been hesitant to eating the last cookie. This was never told to me to do as a matter of politeness. I am not quite certain why it has been that I have not done it. I have felt that I was not being generous. More so it was a matter of my feeling I might be selfish or taking something I didn’t deserve as much as someone else- or the opportunity for someone to have one who hadn’t eaten any yet. This may be understandable on some level but at 58 years of age, it would seem unlikely to have been the case every time for 58 years. SO this week at my granddaughter’s birthday party ,I took the big step and ate the last of the cookies one of my daughters had made. And it felt great!!
Fast forward a few days and I find in the cupboard one last cookie left in a box/ It’s a Kashi almond butter chocolate cookie. I nearly left it there. But remembering my freedom attained at the party on Sunday, I decide to roll with that again. Again it felt good. It was at that moment I thought back to something my kids pointed out years ago. It was a time we were making sugar cookies for the football team and cheerleaders for my daughter in high school. While we were making them and this time was a three person process, my daughters began to laugh uncontrollably as they remembered being teenagers before eating unburned cookies made at home. It wasn’t that I burned them all. We always were making them for someone, for an event or a team, or for company or for family. SO we kept the burned ones- which were mildly burned on the bottom and gave the good ones away.
Now I wonder if I did a disservice or transferred some sort of negative self worthiness to my kids. I would hope not. If anything, I would want my kids to go ahead and dive into experiences in this lifetime. Now I don’t want them to be careless but I do want them to realize they deserve to experiences the taste and smell and touch and sights and sounds of life. AM I the only one who has held herself back in this sense? Have I missed a part of living not to be recaptured? I just have stood back and while in my family, I likely would have been thought of as someone who has been a bit careless with risks but truly there are many ways in which I have held back. I guess if I were to take back something, it would have been to not be afraid to go ahead and have that last cookie. Dive into your lives. You only get this one.

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Grounding- the good kind

 

   There are times when you get together with friends who are so akin that there is a grounding of the soul much like touching base when playing tag as a child. The warmth, laughter, even the tears shed for those long gone, or those in pain, the sorrows that darkened one or another’s doorstep- these are but awaited hugs for the soul. Chores get put aside or are done together. Ironies and observations are shared. Time is something which falls into its place during those gatherings. It mocks us from the side as though reminding that it will arrive and bid us back to everyday life. I think back to the days when that everyday life included so many of these experiences on a day to day basis. I miss my own life for God’s sake. This path I am on feels rickety and unfamiliar in too many ways. It feels uncomfortable and leaves me anxious for  a world I once knew. Surely that world has moved along in all likelihood. But am I  wrong to wonder? AM I wrong to think of “going home” to places, people , and times  that were once my everyday? The world beckons and push me onward. I try to incorporate the actions, the activities, the projects, the mind set of what I treasured and still do treasure. I may find resistance. But I will continue with my direction. I wonder about the shaping or reshaping of people in my present life. I wonder how this will be met. It is time- past time- to enter into a redirected path of intention. My past one was fine when I could be so active and productive in the way I was. But living in the stunned frozen area of  “What the heck happened and what now?” just isn’t enough of a life for me. Time to put this in gear. God help this one person trying to tread fast enough, strong enough to fill my lungs with air again.

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