Precious Presents

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I have a small group of friends that know me pretty much inside and out…and bless their hearts… they are still my friends. We were brought together by virtue of some shared characteristics of our children. The bond that we have gone on to form transcends our original purpose of providing support to one another. Our relationships are now based not so much on our children’s issues but on our real concern and love for each other. We now enjoy a Friendship that begin with a capital F even if it is mostly virtual.

Many of these friends I have met in “real” life. A few I have yet to meet except out in cyberspace. We have shared our joys and concerns. We have lived each others ups and downs. We have been there for the little victories and some major defeats. We have watched each others children grow and been there when a diagnosis threatened to overwhelm. As a result of sharing such intimacies over the years we read each other fairly well.

Recently, I found myself at a crossroads… a low point so to speak. My friends gave me the encouragement that usually brings me to my feet again. Most important they took the time to give me ideas and options that they thought might make my life just a little brighter. Yet, I remained on my knees and they knew it. Then yesterday I went to our group and found that a member had posted the start of the most beautiful and meaningful gift I have ever been given. She started a list entitled 25 Random Things We Love About You. The list was sincere, uplifting and once again reminded me of who I am and who I want to become. Some things were funny, some serious and some were eye opening but all the things on the list were written with love. When I read the list I laughed and cried. I was truly touched and beside myself with delight. Because of that list I am standing on my feet once again.

A present that affirms you for who you are…warts and all… only comes along once or twice in a lifetime. It is a gift are as rare as the most precious gem. It’s a gift that teachs, stirs, and allows you to remember yourself as you were at your best. It restores confidence, grants healing and puts you back on the path to yourself. It is a gift that everyone should give to at least one other person in their lifetime. Everyone should be so lucky.

I have yet to comment to my friends how I feel about such receiving such a treasure. I mean it is truly like winning the lottery. I find it hard to contemplate about what was said without feeling such a overwhelming sense of gratitude that I have such a group of wonderful women watching my back…I almost dissolve in tears. So lacking any real gift that could compare in return I just wanted to say thank you my dear friends. I want to thank you for giving me your time when I had none to give back and thank you for giving me your strength when I was too weak to support myself much less you. Thank you for giving me your love and your truth. You have given me your best over the years even when I fell short. I am truly blessed to have known each and every one of you. All of you have taught me so many things but most of all you have taught me the true meaning of friendship and for that I will always be grateful and in your debt.Someday I hope I can give back to you what you have given me over the years. For now….all you get is this IOU.

*I wrote this several years ago and just looked at it again. I feel just as blessed remembering this as when it happened. Thank you friends!*

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Leaving On A Jet Plane

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Today B left on a 5 day business trip. Now to most, this would sound mundane. Five days. Big deal. But for me that is exactly what it is…a big deal.

Almost two years ago B came home while the rest of us vacationed for an additional 10 days. A few days after I arrived home is when he said he was wanting a divorce. Fast forward marriage therapy, individual therapy, meditation, Marriage Encounter…you name it we tried it. It was a merry-go-round of great successes followed by some major failures.

This past January, after coming back from a business trip to China, once again B stated he wanted to separate. Then I went away and realized I did too. I was done with all this back and forth. Either you want to be together or you don’t. I wrote a five page note putting my feelings into words and the actions I wanted to take, out there, in plain site, for him to read…only now he didn’t want to separate. So we made a deal. No more talking about divorce for 6 months and things seem to be better.

Now three months later B is alone on another business trip and, frankly, it made me a little nervous. So as we were walking to the other night I decided to be honest and spill my guts. I said to him:

“You know you are leaving and the last two times you have gone away on your own you have come home wanting a divorce/separation. Obviously, I have some concerns because being alone seems to take you to a place of not wanting to be together. So I wanted you to know if you are even thinking this again don’t bother to come home because I don’t want to deal with it and your indecision. This is a scary thing for me to say this but I am dreading your time away because I don’t want to be hurt again.”

“It sounds like you are scared,” he says using a phrase that he has learned at the therapists office.

He keeps walking. I do too but immediately feel my stomach clench.

“Really! That is all you are going to say!” my brain almost exploding with these type of thoughts.

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And so I stopped walking.

“What is it? What’s wrong?” B says to me.

“Honey, this is the point where you are suppose to offer reassurance. I appreciate you recognizing my feelings but you need to go further. Just recognizing what I have said isn’t enough. Sometimes you have to react, reassure, or explore a little more. This is a pattern in our relationship. I express myself and you barely react to what I say. You could say more but you choose to withhold words that could be helpful, kind, or could bolster our relationship. You have gone away twice for periods of a week or more and both times have returned wanting to be single. I need honesty and reassurance from you that this isn’t going to happen again.”

B looks perplexed. He stares at me like I am a alien from Mars. But then he pulls me close and gives me a kiss.

“You don’t need to worry. I will be excited to come back to you.”

Okay, he’s not the best with words but it is a start.

This morning B left. When I went downstairs I found a note by my computer which read:

HONEY,

HAVE A GOOD WEEK AND EVERYTHING WILL BE FINE WHEN I RETURN. THANKS FOR GETTING THE KIDS AROUND WHILE I AM GONE. LOVE YOU, B

Maybe he is starting to “get it” after all.

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Sitting With The Pain

Since I started seeing my therapist she has been urging me to just sit with things and honestly I thought I had been. But these past two weeks have been a real revelation to me as I finally understand what “sitting with things” really entails.

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The first thing is that I am just sitting and observing my feelings in a detached sort of way. Not depressed, not numb, but just watching as if my feelings were a movie. Watching the shadows, the lighting, the words that come out of the actors mouths and the body language that accompanies these things. And I have to say that it is one of the most freeing things I have ever done for myself. No explosive reactions just observation and the time needed to think things through without a time line.

Another thing that has happened as a result of my sitting with things is that I have no need to determine the outcome or push for what I think the outcome ought to be. I realize that I have wasted so much of my energy over the years trying to bend things to my will. I have always tried throughout my entire life to produce the desired outcome I envisioned at all costs.  The result of letting this go: more energy, more happiness, less anxiety and frustration.

Sitting with things as I am doing it now is delightful. I feel no pressure to make immediate decisions. I feel that reflecting at my own pace instead of reacting instantaneously  is allowing me to have a deeper experience that is bringing greater understanding as to how we have gotten where we are. And even if we separate it is bringing a much needed peace to my heart in knowing that I am better off for this entire experience and can bring a whole person to the table when this is over; instead of just a shadow of my former self, as a result of taking time for deep self-reflection.

So although I will confess that ending a 30+ year relationship is not what I thought would be on my radar just a few short years ago, I find I am growing in ways I have not in a very long time. Important ways which my soul desperately needed and of which I was unaware. I have no idea what is ahead but I suspect there will be many tears which will water the flowers in my soul’s garden and bring forth the life hidden in seeds I am planting for the future. I know not whether we will walk this path together or if I will be journeying all alone but either way I now know that I am stronger than I was when this all began and that is a gift that I will always treasure.

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P.S. My first biggest fear my entire life has been heights. I hate them. My second biggest fear has been divorce. But on Friday, February 17, I have decided to take on my biggest fear and jump out of an airplane. I have two notions about this:

  1. I figure if I can take on my biggest fear than anything my second biggest fear throws at me I will be able to handle.
  2. If the chute fails to open I just avoided a potentially messy divorce.
  3. Either way I win
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  5. If she can do it so can I

What It Means To Love Someone Fully

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Yesterday, we had a Marriage Encounter meeting at our home. It was fantastic and the people who came were interesting and good, kind folks. One of the questions that we shared in our circle was: When I first met you did I know what it was to love someone fully?

Of course, for me, the answer was no. When you marry young, I don’t think anyone knows what it is to love fully. I think we try, God bless us, but until you have lived with someone for quite a while I don’t think it is possible to even fathom what loving someone fully means because it often means different things to different people. I think having experienced a history together is necessary for this type of love to come into sharp focus.

I can say that for a very long time I was selfish (maybe still am) because I was demanding to get my needs met by B because they had not been met as a child. I should have been wise enough and mature enough to meet my needs myself but I did not understand the complexity of what that entailed and the depths you have to plumb within your own soul to accomplish that. I also tried to make B love me in ways that were comfortable to me instead of ways that were comfortable for him because I was unwilling to change. I clung to ways I was familiar with instead of having faith in the love B had for me and that his way of showing it was also valuable.

And so yesterday, when I answered the question, I replied that I still did not think that I knew what loving B fully means. But today, after much contemplation, I want a re-do because I think I may have been wrong. Why? Because:

  1. If I am fighting to preserve my marriage through the worst of times and on those days where it seems impossible to keep putting one foot in front of the other but I do it anyway; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  2. If I eliminate major flaws within my own personality by reducing anger and increasing peace in order to save my marriage; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  3. If going to painfully sad counseling sessions to learn about myself and to try to learn to look at things from my loved one’s point of view, while listening to the pain and hurt I have caused them, and actively attempt try to remedy that hurt; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  4. If  I am actively looking for reasons to be grateful for everything wonderful and wondrous about my spouse; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  5. If I am working hard to see the good in my spouse and I have faith that he has my best interests at heart; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  6. If I step out of my comfort zone to do the things that make my spouse happy without expecting anything in return; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  7. If I work hard to improve communication between us in order to reduce misunderstandings; then I know what loving someone fully means
  8. If I take responsibility for my own actions instead of blaming; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  9. If I make the conscious choice to find ways to love my husband each and every day event though he may not be at his best; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  10. If I provide my spouse with gentle encouragement; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  11. If I talk to my man in the way I would talk to my best friend; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  12. If I decide that I will do whatever it takes to make things work between us; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  13. If I am actively working to keep that sense of aloneness between us at bay by finding opportunities for connection; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  14. If I let go and decide to trust my heart to B completely, then I know what loving someone fully means.
  15. If I work to put my spouse first… above work, committees and all the other countless things that need our attention; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  16. Being with my lover through the daily grind is easy but if I choose to be with him during the hardest of times; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  17. If I practice just listening instead of fixing or giving unwanted opinions; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  18. If I work on being fully present and in the moment; then I know what loving someone fully means.
  19. If I share my feelings in a kind and appropriate manner; then I know what loving someone fully means.

Let me say, that I think it is important that you do not lose yourself or what you value in order to love someone fully or have them love you back; for that is not what love is about. And let me also convey that this list is not meant to imply that I do these things perfectly or even well. But I can state that I think I am much closer to knowing what loving someone fully means because I am actively practicing what it takes to show that love everyday, instead of acting as if these things will take care of themselves. It means that although there are times that I fail and disappoint both of us; that at least now I am now mindful and aware of what loving B fully might mean and I try to act accordingly. It means that these are things I want to do of my own accord instead of doing them out of some sort of obligation or expectation. And it also means that although I will continue to have to practice the art of loving B fully each and everyday; that I have faith that because of my love for him, that I will get it right eventually, and that I will be kind enough to grant myself some grace until I do.

 

Kindness

I saw a THOUGHT today that made me think.

What I saw reminded me to “Be Kinder Than You Have To.”

Wow! Did that struck a chord with me and it got me thinking. How does one Be Kinder Than They Have To?  Are there minimum levels of kindness that are expected? Is there a norm of kindness? Is there a minimum number of times per day that kindness is expected of us? Do we look for it or does it find us? Is kindness based on the intent of the giver or on the perception of the receiver?

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And what does kindness entail, anyway? Is it looking out for “the other” and putting them before yourself? Does it mean handing over your money to someone who needs it more than you do? Maybe it is just recognizing the deeds of others and commenting on them. Or does it mean choosing your words carefully or holding your tongue to the point that it bleeds?

The dictionary defines kindness as the quality of being friendly, generous, and considerate. It sounds as good a place to start as any. For me, the being friendly and generous parts are much easier than the considerate aspect. More often than I would like, my voice rings with harshness, or I flip off the driver who cut me off. I slam the phone down on the teller marketer who has disrupted my day for the fourth time instead of just saying “no thank you.” Yes, that being considerate aspect to life is going to get me turned away from the pearly gates without a doubt.

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In an effort to honor the idea of Being Kinder Than You Have To I decided to give myself a reminder list of things that I could do on a regular basis that just might embody that philosophy. Here goes:

  1. Instead of just tipping the restroom attendant also tell her that her bathroom must be the cleanest in the entire city and just how much you appreciate being able to plop your butt down on a seat so clean you could eat off of it.
  2. Keep McDonalds gift cards in your wallet and hand them out to those in need.
  3. Ask your elderly neighbor if there is anything you can do for them
  4. Send your kids teachers a card telling them how much you appreciate what they do for your child.
  5. Spend a couple of hours volunteering at a place that needs one-on-one interaction
  6. The next time someone cuts you off get out of your car and hand them a McDonalds card instead of giving them the finger.
  7. Do your kids chore
  8. Give your spouse a massage.
  9. Give a bigger tip than your server deserved.
  10. Feed the parking meters of others
  11. Bye a big bouquet of flowers and hand stems out to strangers
  12. Shovel your neighbors driveway
  13. Send a text to a loved one giving them an example of why you appreciate them instead of just telling them that you love them
  14. Write a REAL letter instead of sending a text or email. It is something they can hold in their hands and look at when they are feeling down
  15. Hand out balloons to strangers just because you can
  16. Throw out a little extra birdseed to our feathered friends
  17. Each day message a different friend you have on Facebook and tell them what you like about them
  18. Go through and label all those people in the zillion pictures that you have. Believe me your relatives will appreciate it in the future and will nominate you for sainthood.
  19. The next kid who passes you on the street…give him a buck.
  20. Practice biting your tongue two or three times a day.
  21. Make your spouses favorite dinner
  22. When sending your loved ones out into the cold cruel world instead of just saying have a good day go over and give them a big long hug,
  23. Pick up someone else’s litter
  24. Give up your seat to someone who needs it more than you do
  25. A heartfelt smile can do wonders for someone’s soul
  26. Let that mother with the three out of control kids go ahead of you in the checkout line. She just wants to get home and put the little boogers to bed.
  27. Pray for someone if you are so inclined
  28. Put a thank-you note on someone’s car.
  29. Pay for the person’s coffee behind you
  30. Say something nice to the person in the wheelchair
  31. Talk to someone who doesn’t look the least bit like you
  32. Forgive someone and let them know it

 

So there you go. A list to promote kindness is born and in doing so it is my hope that all of us will be reminded to BE KINDER THAN YOU HAVE TO at least once per day. Just imagine if everyone did that what a truly different and exciting place this world would be!

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A Good Book

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I am reading the book Perfume River by Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Olen Butler. His words flow like a river during the spring rains…rushing and so powerful that they threaten to pull you under. Yet, Butler also knows how to write as if the river is also drying and receding into itself … the author’s words trickling from the pages in a sparse kind of way like the character who finds himself parched and unable to continue his journey.

As a writer I find it amazing when an author can match the flow of his words with the flow of the story. It’s a rarity, that. Most people can write of feelings and place but show me an author who has the gift of using words to match the tempo of the story, like a composer who pens his first notes for each instrument; well, it is a gift to the reader.

I wish I had the ability to match my words and actions with the tempo of storyline that is running throughout my life. Often I feel that my passion is too intense for the scene or that I fall behind not realizing the importance of the moment until it has passed. Sometimes I find  myself experiencing a momentary loss of words as I traverse this life that is mine. Having my emotions and words match what is going on in life often presents a bit of a challenge and I find that sometimes I am missing the perfect words that would complete the chapter in a satisfying sort of way for all the characters in my life.

But if the truth is told,  seldom is the time that we get to write our own life story as we envision it. Often plots are pushed upon us through no fault of our own and characters we never imagined magically appear. We expect a monsoon but get a drought instead. And as we journey through life we often forget that our words set the pace for what happens next, who we become, and the quality of our relationships that we are in.

So today, let us be mindful of the words we are saying and where they might be taking us. Let us craft our words and deeds like the chapter of a good book. And by thinking before speaking, let us be like that author who knows what to edit out to make the story flow. After all, it is our own personal story so its up to us to make it interesting and something we would be proud to let others read.  We may not get a Pulitzer Prize but we will get immense satisfaction in taking the time to craft a life that becomes our own bestseller.

 

 

 

 

Letting Go Again

It’s been going on for over a week now.

“I’m nervous!”

“I won’t know anyone there!!!”

“What if I get lost???!!!!!!”

“What if there is nothing there for me to eat?”

“What if I land wrong on the board and hurt myself?”

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This is what I have been hearing from Gracie lately and it intensified as the day drew closer for her to attend diving camp at a large university four hours from home. These are the words of a child whose age is between the first double digit and her teens. Excited but scared to death especially because she knew no one who would be attending camp with her.

She’s good at what she does so I wasn’t worried about that aspect. She has accomplished in three years of doing her sport what it has taken of most of her competitors 6-8 years to do. Learning and practicing wasn’t the issue but being away from home was.

Gracie has always had difficulty separating herself from us. I often wonder if she would have been this way if she had been born to us or if her adoption has played a role in it. Not knowing if people will come back to you or if they will stay with you does tend to put doubts in your head. And as we spent last night together in the city she looked as if she might cry. But I knew that she needed this camp to teach her about courage and accomplishment not so much in her sport but in life in general. That’s what we are suppose to do as parents. We should give our children experiences which allow them to separate with confidence so they will be able to be independent adults when they go off on their own.

Waking up this morning was hard. Her nerves were bouncing all over the place and I was watching as a “bad hair day” started to unnerve her even more. I said all the right things and did all the right things. I asked if she was okay and told her since she could do double rotations she had nothing to be afraid of.  Finally, it was time to go and check into the college dorms. Now, I was getting a little hesitant.

We drove over in near silence with Gracie taking in everything around her. After unpacking and making her bed I saw that Gracie was beginning to get her groove back. Her confidence began to soar (or at least she wasn’t going to let anyone know anything different just like she does when she dives). Just before she was to go to the pool with her group she remembered she had left her water bottle in the car so we dashed off to get it. As we walked back I took her into my arms and said, “You’ve got this baby. You will be okay.”

And with that she lifted her big brown eyes, looked up into mine, let go of my hand and said, “Geez mom, you worry too much!!!”

It was at that moment I knew she would be just fine and that in releasing my hand she was letting go of so much more.

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372 DAYS TO FIX THIS

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When I began this blog it was with the intention of blogging everyday for 365 days as I fought to keep my marriage intact. I didn’t because life got in the way. A lot. Life has a tendency to do that when you have a husband, 5 children, a dog and 3 grandchildren.

I purposely decided not to blog about reaching 365 days on the one year anniversary of B telling me how unhappy he was in our marriage and that he might want a divorce. I didn’t want to “celebrate” much less acknowledge one of the most agonizing days of my life. That day, one year ago, was a full of intense pain, enough tears to officially end the drought and it lead to months of increased struggle, anger, and hurt. The “I Think I Might Want A Divorce Day” brought me to my knees and my life changed at that instant. Thirty years of togetherness, memories, marriage and great sex were on the verge of disappearing in a blink of an eye. I am not sure why but on that day I asked B to give it 365 days to fix our broken relationship and with it a blog was born. Six hours later he left for a week to take the boys to scout camp.

Frankly, it was never my intention to spill my guts the way I have; nor allow my anger and dismay to swallow me whole with witnesses along to pick their way through my mess. But I did and it did. I am not really sure what I expected when I started writing but the rawness of some of my early posts bring me back down to earth with a thud. Divorce was for other people. Not me. Damn it.

There are many things that have happened this year that have stretched and surprised me. The major one was that at some point in the past year B and I reversed roles and I decided I wanted a divorce but to my surprise he didn’t. That was an awakening and hurt almost as much as when he said he might want one. Frankly, I didn’t know quite what to do with that. But we both know that with three kids in the house, two of them with autism and other issues that impact our marriage in a big way; that divorce would be akin to picking up tiny pieces of a huge pane of shattered glass and that someone would get cut. Deeply.

I wish I could say I handled all of this with grace. I didn’t. I did however get a therapist whose help has been invaluable. She has taught me to be mindful. To sit with things and let them brew without my influence. We have also been going to joint counseling and B now has his own counselor too so that he can learn to express himself rather than keep things bottled up inside for years.  But the best thing we did was attend a Marriage Encounter weekend. It is what has started us down the path towards healing, understanding and really listening to one another. I am not sure that had we not attended that my blog would count off 372 days. Really, it made that big of a difference. We just had to be open to it even though we are not Catholic and the things were heard were nothing more than what we would have heard at any religious gathering. I urge any of you who are struggling in your marriage to at least consider attending.

The changes I have made over this past year have been accomplished through a lot of hard work and perseverance . At times I have taken one step forward and two steps back. Those steps have been humbling, courageous, and have often felt like I had a huge splinter in my shoe while I was taking them. I have had to do a lot of changing. I used to try and live my life with a guarantee arm-wrestled from others…an impossible task. I try not to do that anymore. The biggest thing I have accomplished to date is that I have stopped yelling. That was a major victory and has changed our family for the better in so many ways. I am now working on trying to remove a sense of harshness from my voice and it is a challenge to say the least.

I have implemented many new ways of doing things and new ways of considering how to occupy my place in the world. This is what I have done that has been helpful for me:

  1. I listen to the Meditation Minis podcast by Chel Hamilton. It’s free and it is only 10 minutes a day. Those 10 minutes have allowed me to decrease the negativity I has feeling in my body and mind and replace it with acceptance and positivity.
  2. Thanks to my therapist I now have a Place Of Mysteries. This is a place in which I put on a shelf things I do not have enough information about so I do not carry them around with me. I then examine them when I have more facts so that I can make intelligent decisions.
  3. I am working really hard on not saying things the moment I think them. I now try to let my thoughts gels before spouting them.
  4. I try to look for the good instead of the negative
  5. I make a conscious choice all day long to CHOOSE LOVE. When things irritate me I CHOOSE LOVE and try to act accordingly.
  6. I try to give the benefit of the doubt to the positive attributes I know that B has instead of jumping to conclusions.
  7. I try not to TIME TRAVEL to the future and the past. Instead, I try to stay in the present collecting the golden nuggets of life that are in the here and now.
  8. I try to think rather than just react and ask for time to do so when more time is needed.
  9. I get more sleep realizing that there is always tomorrow to get things done.
  10. I keep a sex calendar which serves as a gentle reminder that too much time has slipped away since our last loving encounter.
  11. I work on being mindful of what is going on around me and within me. I have slowed down to really think about the ramifications and unintended consequences of what I am doing.
  12. We dialogue every night in the way we learned to do at Marriage Encounter. This has allowed us both to learn more about what the other is feeling and gives us a loving perspective in which to view our mate and his/her actions. Dialoging gives us the time to ask questions and clarify, not just assume what is meant by words/actions.
  13. I have lost weight but not for him. It is for me only and it shows.
  14. I am learning to just sit with things and not try to force a desired outcome.
  15. I am trying to learn to do things with joy in my heart while doing them. After all, the house does need to be cleaned so why not do it with joy instead of resentment?
  16. We try to have a date night every week or so. Time spent with each other without the interruptions of family life has allowed us to look at each other as individuals with unique feelings instead of as just Mom and Dad.
  17. We have a GRATEFUL log that we keep to remind us of all the wonderful things the other has done for us and is useful to pick-up and read when things are a little bit off.
  18. Whenever I feel like I am getting “hooked” I try to take a pause and relax.
  19. I have come to realize that life is not static. We are fluid beings and as such things will change. I don’t have to stay “stuck” in a particular way of acting or doing things especially when it is causing me or my loved ones harm. I am sowing seeds everyday that will blossom as suffering or joy depending on how I plant them and care for them. I try to keep this in mind as I interact with others.

So a year as come and gone. A year in which I did not get divorced or separated although we came close. A year in which we both worked hard to improve ourselves and our marriage. It has been a lonely year that has been frightening yet also enlightening. We have had to expose our own vulnerabilities as we have attempted to open up to one another in very deep and personal ways. And as painful as it has been I am grateful for it because I have become a better person, a better partner, and a better mother because of it. I have grown and become a better me. A person I am proud of and a person who is more comfortable in her own skin. And I have a marriage that is better than I believed would ever be possible. Does this mean that in 365 days I was able to “fix this”? Heck no. Does this mean I have a perfect relationship? No. Does this mean we will be together forever? I think the opportunity for that has increased tremendously but I no longer try to look for guarantees because there really are none for this type of thing.

What I do know for sure is that once again B is at camp for the week and this time when he left my heart was filled and my brain was quite. For this time around, I have a confidence in myself  and a belief that together we can conquer those things that are holding us back. Things may not be perfect but they are getting better everyday and that is really all you can hope/work for. But perhaps the most important thing is that I am happy, really happy, and sometimes even joyful. I am becoming who I want to be as I enter into my mid 50’s and discover what it is that is really important to me and what I can leave behind.

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So thank you for sharing this journey with me. I am sure there have been times you have wanted to kick me in the ass. I am sure there are times where you would have liked to have screamed “WAKE UP.”  But believe me I have felt your loving arms wrap around me and hold me close when there was no one around to do so. And for that I will be eternally grateful!

 

Departing Wisdom

Running-Late

Recently I saw a sign which read: WHEN ANGER ENTERS, WISDOM DEPARTS. These words touched my heart as well as the profound which rests in my soul. I felt as I read this simple truth that the words were meant for me alone and that they were there because I needed that gentle reminder.

This summer has been hectic what with sports practice five days a week, my volunteer work and with my chauffeuring  kids to college and high school summer school. The reason for my increasing anxiety over the summer is a very tight schedule in which pick up and delivery had to be perfectly timed. Frankly, I don’t do being late well. For whatever reason since I was a little kid it was hardwired into my brain that you are not late. EVER. And I have lived by that rule my entire life. Except once. That was the time I was 5 minutes late and it haunted me for days.

“If you are late it shows a complete disregard for others and that you think that your time is more important than theirs. Your time is no more or less important than any one else’s. Don’t forget that!” admonished my father throughout my growing up years.

And so I have a heightened sense of anxiety if I have the slightest inkling that I (or anyone I am responsible for) will be late.

The lengths to which I go to ensure that I am never late come with a price…my sanity. I am three hours early before taking an airline flight. I am 30 minutes early for my Gracie’s orchestra performance. I am early enough to get my choice of premium parking spaces and my favorite pew at church. I get the best seats at the movie theater and I am always the person who is waiting for their friend to show up for coffee. Anyone who knows me knows that if I am 10 minutes late that means I am probably stone-cold dead.

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And so with back-to-back obligations this summer it is hardly surprising that I found it difficult to just stay calm. Unfortunately, as my anxiety rose it often turned to anger. This is not to say that I yelled…I didn’t…but irritation crept into my voice way too often and words came out of my mouth that that are not meant to be heard by a child. Thoughts of shooting the bird to that 85 year old woman driving at a speed of 10 miles per hour entered my mind on way too many occasions. And as my anxiety/anger increased I became distracted and I once almost mowed down a kid on a bike doing stupid tricks in the street to impress his buddies.

As I reviewed my actions during these dog days of summer  it became apparent to me that in those moments of high anxiety and anger; my wisdom did indeed depart because:

I said thoughtless things.

I thought evil thoughts.

I showed my children a side of me that they do not want to see.

And I disregarded my own health by letting stress take minutes off my life multiple times a week.

So in an attempt to increase my sanity I made a change. I now have the saying WHEN ANGER ENTERS, WISDOM DEPARTS taped to my dashboard. I find it comforting. And now as I drive along and the tension starts mounting, I just look down to give myself a gentle and loving reminder that wisdom in all aspects of my life are important if I am to become all that I am meant to be.

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What A Woman Needs To Know

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Lately I have been thinking about what a woman needs to craft a joyful and successful life. Of course, being a ying/yang sort of person, I also ponder  what women don’t need as well. As I have thought about this it occurred to me that what I would write now is something completely different from what I would have written at 20, 30, 40 or even, God forbid, 50 something. Seems to me each decade brings a different sort of wisdom that carries us forward, and yet, we also seem to mislay this wisdom because of the mistaken notion that at various ages in our lives we are “suppose” to live and act in a certain pre-defined ways.  Culturally defined ways. A way our mothers would be proud of. A way that we must act and things we must lose if we are to find “true love” like Katie Morosky in the movie The Way We Were.

I think that as women we often we work so hard at becoming who we think we are suppose to be that we lose who we really are; our souls slipping away before we actually do. So in hopes of avoiding becoming soul less souls sooner than later I have written a list of What A Woman Needs  To Know (Or Doesn’t Need To Care About) for my daughters and granddaughters. Here you go girls:

  1. Laugh. Loud and often. Snorting is even better.
  2. Never compare yourself to another unless it is to encourage yourself to go in the direction of your dreams.
  3. Keep your body in shape for you and for your future health. Never diet for someone else…it doesn’t work.
  4. Get all the education that you can so you can be interesting to yourself and others.
  5. Get all the education you can so you can support yourself in the manner you would like.
  6. The first time he hits you…leave.
  7. If you are being called bitch, cunt, or slut by your “loved” one; then you don’t know what love is. Run away fast and find YOURSELF before you find another partner.
  8. Seeing IS believing.
  9. Every week… without fail… put away $10 into your “If I Die Fund.” Then if you have to leave your love interest you won’t be without resources and if you do die your relatives  can bury you in a coffin instead of a cardboard box.
  10. Vacation often and in places that help you to learn more about yourself.
  11. Learn to disagree pleasantly but if the other party is an asshole let your inner “mean girl” come out.
  12. Being a doormat only wrinkles your dress.
  13. Every time you have sex with a stranger you chip away at your soul. Get to know someone first and for goodness sake use a condom (or 2)
  14. Find someone who puts your needs in line with his/her own.
  15. Pick someone who is smarter than you but doesn’t lord it over you.
  16. You will never sustain that honeymoon glow. Be realistic and just try to keep the extreme highs and lows to a minimum.
  17. Being on an emotional rollercoaster DOES NOT mean that it is true love.
  18. Practice kindness especially with those you love and those who love you.
  19. Grant grace as often as you can.
  20. You can choose to be miserable or you can choose to be happy. Choose HAPPY.
  21. Find the things you really care about and then do them. Often.
  22. When you are older you will realize that it is all about the connections. Nurture them.
  23. If you are unhappy it is up to you to have the courage to take the steps to make some changes.
  24. For years I lived in the past and the future. Now I live in the present and I am able to tie my shoes. ( Yeah, scratch your head and think about that one)
  25. If you don’t take some risks you will never know what you are made of.
  26. Find love in all its many forms. We all need as much of it as we can get.
  27. Once a day do something nice for someone.
  28. Words without action are nothing but words.
  29. You will not always be young and beautiful but if you have good manners and great confidence you will be treated like the queen that you are.
  30. If your thoughts/actions are hurtful or unkind you are blinding yourself so that you cannot see clearly.
  31. What seems impossible will be…until it is done.
  32. Have many “huggers” in your life and be the first to give one freely.
  33. Every person has a story so take time to discover what it is.
  34. Be aware enough to know when to give up and when to stay the course.
  35. Beating yourself up leaves nothing but bruises.
  36. Change your mind only if YOU want to.
  37. Be brave. Take risks.
  38. Replace those negative thoughts with positive ones.
  39. Dance freely.
  40. When you are 30 take up a new interest. When you are 40 do the same.
  41. Be around people who cherish you.
  42. It will always get better especially if you take the steps necessary to make it so.
  43. A hot beverage that is drunk it a hot bath is as near to heaven as you will get without being there.
  44. Get over the notion that LIFE WILL ALWAYS BE FAIR. It won’t.
  45. Your job is to raise your children to be the type of person you would want with you when you are on a sinking ship.
  46. Sometimes the only words that fit are “Fuck You” said with total conviction.
  47. Pulling the covers back over your head is often better and smarter than drinking a martini.
  48. Save for your old age. It will be there before you know it. Yeah, I know you don’t believe it… but it will.
  49. Chances are that when you die you will only be talked about by three generations. Try for five.
  50. If you are living on a beer budget, then drink beer, not whiskey.
  51. Which reminds me, if you are getting a cold get in the hottest bathwater you can stand and lay there for awhile while throwing back a couple of shots of whiskey. The cold will mostly likely not develop but you may have a hell of a headache instead.
  52. You reap what you plant.
  53. Be honest.
  54. Don’t let evil into your life whether it be people, music or movies.
  55. Only be as old as you want to be.
  56. Be thankful and look for everyday blessings.
  57. Expect more than what others think is possible.
  58. You get what you get and you don’t throw a fit. Of course there are always exceptions to the rules.
  59. If you only had 6 months to live what would you do? Do it NOW.
  60. Your happiness is controlled by you.
  61. Don’t get complacent in your relationships, in your work and in your life.
  62. Be dependable to yourself first.
  63. Speaking and doing are the same action.
  64. Sometimes in saying nothing you are as guilty as the person doing something.
  65. If you are drinking too much you are probably saying too much too.
  66. Pursue excellence.
  67. As you age you will get hair in places that your dog doesn’t.
  68. As good as it sounds having a threesome is rarely a good idea.
  69. As good as it sounds drinking on an empty stomach is rarely a good idea.
  70. Sit with yourself often.
  71. When you screw up apologize immediately.
  72. On your deathbed you will not be saying “Geez, I wish I had put more hours in at the office.”
  73. The sooner you learn to let things go the sooner you will stand straight again.
  74. Trust your intuition.
  75. Never be afraid to scream or run if you think you are in danger.
  76. If you are feeling uncomfortable there is usually a good reason.
  77. Most of what “others” think doesn’t really matter.
  78. Be silly. Be playful. Be that person that others want to be around.
  79. Say whats on your mind but say it without malice.
  80. If you are in a serious relationship don’t let a week go by without sex. Okay, a few days actually but who wants to hear their grandmother say that!
  81. If your friends and loved ones don’t like your boyfriend there is a reason for that so dump him.
  82. Gossiping is like running a truck over yourself…again and again and again
  83. Going after a married man only leaves you with crucifixion scars.