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

The Truth About Ourselves

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During the past 18 months I have learned that sometimes navigating the truth about myself takes me through deep, muddy waters that leaves my soul chilled to the bone. But the wonderful thing is that I can change, if I so choose; all the while knowing that meaningful change takes time. For change is a process, we cannot rush it, and it will happen in its own time.

There is a beautiful prayer I once heard written by a Benedictine nun which goes something like this: “Dear God, show me the truth about myself no matter how beautiful it is.”

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And it is really true that there is beauty in who we are and what we do even if we fail to recognize it. Sometimes it is buried deep and you need a bulldozer to dig it out. Sometimes that beauty sits on the surface of our souls. And sometimes we just have to let a little bit of light in to let it reflect all the amazing facets of our personalities that are like a diamond which shines and dances across the room. Most importantly, we don’t need someone else to validate this beauty in us. It is there for us to enjoy alone if that is what we please.

We can see ourselves as even more beautiful through our own eyes when we view our own truths about ourselves and acknowledge those truths.  Some of those truths will be transitory while others occupy a more permanent place on our journey but the most important thing is to grant ourselves grace while moving forward with eyes and heart wide open and refusing to punish ourselves any further for those times in life when we just didn’t know or do better. We are all imperfect and it is a waste of time to cling to “what was” instead of trying to make “what is” even better.

So with this in mind, today, as I go about these minutes that are granted to me; I will try to be kind to myself because if I can’t even grant that simple thing to myself how can I expect to be kind to others?  I will also try to bring myself into, and be mindful of the present moments that I am witness to, knowing that things are the way they are suppose to be right at this moment in time. And I will bask in these moments of newfound acceptance knowing all the while that change takes time and I am doing the best I can right now to find greater peace and understanding through the transformation that it occurring deep in my soul.

I will be patient.

Best Qualities As A Mother

UPDATE

Since B stated 18 months ago that he might want to divorce we have done a lot to try to save our relationship. This includes a Marriage Encounter weekend, his therapist, my therapist and a joint marriage therapist. I have decreased my yelling to a trickle, have kept the house in good shape and have lost weight. Frankly, things had been improving for close to a year but lately I have noticed that we have been regressing. More grudges, less sex, 66% less dialoging, etc. I am a very intuitive person and I “feel” these changes and recognize them for what they are and lately I have been feeling really anxious about them.

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I have never been an anxious person even when I have had plenty to be anxious about. For 57 years I have kept most of that anxiety stuff swept under the rug. But lately, it has occurred to me that as B distances himself my anxiety rises. It is an uncomfortable place to be. Sometimes it even makes me question my sanity because I tell him I am feeling the distance which he denies but then three weeks later at a therapy session he uses the words and admits that when x happened he distanced himself all the while denying my concerns for the past weeks.  It is a crazy way to live.

BEST QUALITIES

Recently, we had a dialogue question that asked each of us to talk about our partners best qualities as a parent. In the allotted 10 minutes I wrote about 7 qualities that B has that I think make him a great parent.

Now I know in dialogue you are not supposed to judge the other’s response because they are based on “feelings.” And feelings may be factually true or not but the bottom line is that they are what they are. So when B wrote about the qualities he admired that I had as a parent it basically came down to the fact that “I cared for my children.” To say I was hurt that this was the only quality he listed was an understatement.

Everyone cares for their children. You care for your dog. You care whether you have enough toilet paper in the house to last the entire week. Caring for your children really doesn’t get any accolades in my book. It is something we all do… even badgers, skunks and probably even one-cell amoebas.

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So I took this to my therapist. She wanted me to write down what I wished he had said about my good qualities as a parent. Here goes:

  1. I wish he had said that I am good about seeing or initiating those deep soulful and meaningful talks when they need them to boost their confidence, understanding of life or just need to express their concerns. I wish he had said he knew that most of the time they seek me out which shows that they trust my love and advice.
  2. I wish he had said that I love my kids fiercely and deeply and that they know that they can count on that love and can trust me to be there for them forever.
  3. I wish he had said that my children know I believe in them and that I think that they can accomplish whatever it is that they set out to do and that by knowing this it will take them far in life.
  4. I wish he had said that he knows I am their biggest fans and that I cheer them on with encouragement when they are lacking the spunk to make that “final touchdown” in whatever it is they are doing.
  5. I wish he had said I am a “good” parent far more often than a “bad” one and that even when I fail it is not intentional or malicious.
  6. I wish he had said that raising six kids, two of whom have autism, would be a tough job for anyone and that it is amazing I don’t lose it every day.
  7. I wish he had said that my kids had experienced so much of this world thanks to me and that if it was left to him they would not have.
  8. I wish he had said that I try my best to teach them the important things that they will need to navigate their lives now and in the future.
  9. I wish he had said that I am “good enough” parent some of the time (which is okay) and a great parent when it really counts.
  10. I give good hugs.
  11. I wish he had said that I encourage my kids to take risks which creates opportunities for them to believe in themselves.
  12. I wish he had said I am an honest parent in dealing with my kids and all the people we have to deal with because of their interests and their issues and that my honesty helps provide desperately needed clarity.
  13. I just wish he had said I am a good mother and he could not manage without me.

And while this exercise was difficult because I kept wanting to explain or add in the negative to balance it all out, I didn’t because this is my gift to myself and a tribute to who I am as a parent. I don’t NEED B to validate it…but it would have been nice.

Life’s Necessities

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I’ve had people tell me that I have had a very different and an interesting/amazing life. I would have to agree.  But how does one create a life that is interesting and  worth living? That is something I have contemplated for a while now. While I am not close to figuring it all out, I do think that there are some universal components that help to craft a life worth living, these being:

  1. Be daring. Believe in yourself and take chances as you move through life. No one ever got anywhere by sitting in a recliner. You have to “Just DO It” enough to make it seem routine so you don’t scare yourself silly.
  2. Help others.Until you have done for others you really have not done for yourself. Everyone needs to experience the gift of giving of yourself freely in order to know what is needed for your soul and the souls of those around you. So many important lessons come out of helping those who need it but mostly it allows you to discover who you want to be and how you want to live your life in a way that is meaningful to you.
  3. Practice your skills. Everyone has things that come naturally to them or something that they enjoy doing. You cannot create your masterpiece without practicing all the components that go into it. Just as Michelangelo did not create the Sistine Chapel by doing a single paint-by-number canvas, you cannot do your best without first examining and putting into action those things that are important to you and practicing the skills that it takes to enhance and complete the task. There is a reason for the saying, “Practice makes perfect.”
  4.  Be adventurous. Without the planning, excitement, and the sense of accomplishment that comes from stretching your wings while creating your own adventures, you might as well be moving through life as if in a big bowl of jello.  As dynamic human beings we are not meant to stagnate so exploits are an important part of the game.  Adventure = expansion and growth both of which are the spice of life.
  5. Spend time working on meaningful projects. In the early part of our marriage we spent three years of weekends traveling 4 hours one way to a house that we were building. It was when we ran out of projects and the sense that “we” were accomplishing something together that our marriage began to fall apart. We all need to feel a sense of accomplishment for a job well done that has occupied our thoughts and moments for an extended period of time. That feeling of having a task to do and completing it to the best of our ability is what boosts our confidence and instills in us the belief that we can take on whatever is thrown our way.
  6. Be reverent. Seek opportunities to be in awe of something greater than yourself. For some that is being with God and for others it is communing with nature while hiking. Find those things that take your breathe away and then find a way to make them a more regular part of your life.
  7. Love deeply, purely, and like there is no tomorrow…because there may not be.
  8. Get rid of the vices whether they be excess food, alcohol or drugs. If we take ourselves to places that make it difficult to do the things we must or the things we want to do; then we are harming and cheating ourselves of all that we have been given. Intentionally harming ourselves is idiotic not just because we hurt ourselves but more importantly because we are often hurting others.
  9. Never stop seeking knowledge for it is the key to life. It creates, it destroys and it allows you to achieve beyond your wildest dreams. If you aren’t learning several new things a day then you are not living fully in a way that is beneficial to yourself and humankind because lifelong learning is what makes us human.

 

Flavors Of Our Lives

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Today, I went to this little drive through shop that makes the most incredible food bowls. I have had the pleasure of indulging in white bean chicken, acai fruit bowls and kale quinoa salads at this exciting food joint. Best thing… you never know what will be on the menu. Today’s dish was a tri-tip topping cabbage salad with jalapeno au jus over toasted baguettes. Never have I experienced such flavor combinations. And this place does it consistently. It pairs the right ingredients in order to bring out flavors that cannot be found in each ingredient alone.

As I was sitting here savoring this delight it got me to thinking. ..why is it that the flavors in our lives often lack the care and attention that are put into this salad or into our own daily meals?

One of my favorite desserts are lemon bars. I love the tart and the sweet combo. I love the bite of the zest and the comfort of the powered sugar. And as much as I go out of my way to make sure I have exactly the fresh ingredients that I need for this recipe I often wonder where is my own personal zest? What am I doing to put zest into my own life on a daily basis and if I were to what exactly would it look like? How does one consistently put great enthusiasm and energy into both food and life so it looks attractive to all who see it?

Another family favorite is a spicy beans and rice dish that I created by scratch. I pour in the proper amount of pepper, salt and chipotle spice and as I do I question why am I not pouring something spicy into the rest of my life. After all, we all need to spice things up at times! So how do I keep my life exciting and somewhat shocking with an occasional pleasurable burning feeling sliding down into my guts?

Recently I have been asking myself the question that if I were living my authentic life with the same artistry that I put into my food what ingredients would be important to impart into my recipes? How would these lush and bountiful items be presented on this gigantic plate that we called life? It certainly wouldn’t be take out with someone else preparing it and handing it to me in a brown paper bag. That much I know. But would it be….

Slow cooked to the perfect point into which I stir in the staples of live like a creamy and hearty risotto? A life in which the spoon is licked again and again to taste life a little at a time or do I just ladle it with gusto onto my plate?

Or maybe something French with it’s rich cheeses, sauces, and fresh herbs? If I was living as I would like would I be growing herbs in the backyard and pick them wet with dew; using them while fresh and at the peak of their flavor? How do I bring that sense of freshness inside my doors and into my life?

Somedays I crave both hot and cool like a good Thai Tom Ka Kai… Yummmm! The building blocks of protein, like the chicken which is found in this soup, are amino acids, which, when paired with the coolness of the  coconut makes for a flavorful dish. So what exactly are the building blocks that makes life warm, nutritious, and satisfying?

Today I have vowed to some spend time perusing my cookbooks in an attempt to create the perfect meal. I will also be looking for the ingredients in these recipes to add to my own life to reflect my own tastes and desires. This minute I have no idea what I will whip up but I have a feeling it will be something fantastic just like the life I am trying to re-make. Hmmm…something with only the freshest ingredients with a touch of spice will definitely be on the menu tonight.

 

 

 

 

*This post, as all posts put up by this blogger, are 2016 copyrighted and my not be used without express permission of the author*

 

 

 

 

 

The First Rose

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As parents we are always doubting ourselves when it comes to our kids. There are no manuals and every child is so completely different from the other especially when they have issues that other children never have to face. I know of what I speak. With six children I have learned much and each one has taught me in a completely different way. Yet, I also know about those deep, dark, slippery wells that you sometimes feel like you cannot climb out of  when things are tough which often seems to be the case when your children have life impacting disabilities. It makes you question yourself and all you are doing to an even greater extent than ever before.

Paul struggles. He has autism and several other medical issues but his social skills are pretty much on track. Until you are around him for awhile you would probably never guess the extent of his issues and how they impact him everyday. But impact him they do. And our family too. Constantly.

Sometimes parents whose children have a disability find it hard to let go. Sending them to the store alone, even though it is just down the block, is terrifying when you know that your child is somewhat gullible and naive. But when the older teen years hit you realize that holding on too tight is a hinderance and not a help so you start loosening the strings. So recently Paul has been walking to the store by himself which gives him a sense of freedom that any 15 yo boy needs.

On Sunday Paul asked to go to the store. He had earned some money and wanted to buy himself a special snack… so off he went, hands deep in his pocket holding on to his hard-earned cash.

About 15 minutes later he returned with a perfect red rose in his hand which he shyly gave to me.

“I know I haven’t been treating you very well lately so I bought you a rose to show you how much I love and appreciate you”

I cried. He smiled and I think he knew that in giving me that beautiful rose he actually gave me so much more than just a flower. He let me know, that despite my mistakes and frailties as a parent, I really am doing something right by my kids. And even more importantly, I see him growing into a lovely young man who is doing good things like every decent and wonderful human being does on his own and without my help.

God, I love that kid!

 

Mom’s List Two

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I don’t know about you but as a mom there seems to be some sort of invisible list that hangs over my head, flapping in the breeze to remind me of its presence. THE LIST consists of all the things my kids must do at least once so that I can check off one more box that assures me that I AM A GOOD MOM. Trying new food. The latest, purple broccoli….check. Yearly pictures at Sears…oops missed that one…but now that I am aware of that fact by next Tuesday it will be done…semi-check. Playing the piano…okay not ready for Carnegie Hall but does know where middle C is located…check.

Now B is the sports minded one in our family but because two of our three children get crazed if something as small as an ant touches them during recreational sports …trying to knock out the numerous athletic activities…well, its a challenge. If I had my druthers I would just scratch that whole section off THE LIST as several family members consider high quality endurance sports akin to laying on the couch and dipping ruffled potato chips into dip. (the endurance part comes when you have to turn the chip around and dip again being careful not to double-dip) But I have a fear that scratch outs might just not get you into heaven so I persist in introducing my kids to new sports knowing in my heart of hearts that is what all GOOD moms do. This is what lead us to the Gateway Ice Skating rink yesterday afternoon where the kids attempted ice skating for the first time. It was, needless to say, an EPIC FAILURE!

 I will admit that sometimes it seems as though it takes a while for my kids to get comfortable with new activities. First we have to check out each and every toilet in the entire facility. If the seat is comfortable then my kids might give it a try. If not, we are OUTTA there.

Next comes that vending machines. If they have anything gluten free and casesin free then no matter what comes next the day will be considered a success until they actually have to do it.

Finally, throw in a 16 yo cashier who is making minimum wage but will answer every one of the 20,000 questions through at them about the history of the sport, the equipment used and the rules of the sport, then participation is a definite maybe. Better yet, if the cashier can quote numerous safety statstics; then its a go. Yes, even contemplating sports can be an exhausting endeavor.

So after spending 1/2 hour tying and re-typing the skates, using the bathroom…again… and learning to walk on blades the time had come for the kids to make their way onto the ice. If, as the old adage goes, you can smell fear; then the fumes around our family was the pungent odor that follows you about three hours after eating grandma’s chili. You just couldn’t shake it. Feet started going every which way but forward and the sound of buttoms slapping the ice…HARD… reverberated throughout the arena. To top it off, I pulled my back out trying to hold up one child while falling down with another. Mom was done and judging from the little faces surrounding me, the vending machine owner was about to become a very rich man.

Paul put a brave face on and after once around decided taking his hands off the railing was more to his liking.Gracie whined until her daddy escorted her like the princess she is around the rink. But I knew all was lost in regards to Andre when he spent 1/2 hour going 1/2 around the rink with his toes turned in towards the wood paneling the entire time. Never have a seen a child so happy as when he took his blades off the ice. After exiting the rink he looked up at me and said, “Well, those were absolutely the worst minutes I have ever spent in my entire life!” And needless to say,  his assessment didn’t get any better until B bought hot chocolate.

Later, on the way home, Andre talked about the experience. His take? “Well, I am glad that is over. I did it once, it’s a NO GO and thank goodness I will never have to do that again. Now, mom, what else can we cross of your list of things I have to do?”

“What list?”

“You know, the one that you have that makes me try everything for my own good even though we both know I am going to hate it. So really, this list is really about you. Why don’t we just leave it at that!”

And with that he was done. But I’m not. I want to know how he knew about THE LIST!

Lhasa, Tibet-Meeting Compassion Face-On

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There are places we travel to in our mind wishing with all our might that we might one day arrive at this “in-our-dream” destination. There are spots we travel to and remember every sight, sound, smell and voice that we heard. There are places we visit that forever remain stuck in our soul try as we might to pry them out. Tibet is that place for me.

It was a hard journey. Two airplane flights totaling 18 hours and altitude sickness that brought the youngest members of our small group of seven to their knees. Luckily, being a tough old broad, I adjusted quickly except for the times I would wake up in the middle of the night feeling like there was an elephant sitting on my chest. Shivering in our freezing cold hotel room, I would quell my panic by counting sheep and meditating to slow my breathing as I tried to gulp the thin air like a person who suddenly comprehends that they are drowning at sea.

I could see my breath in my hotel room between the hours of 8 p.m.-9 a.m. which is when it finally warmed enough to remove all traces of “morning breath” haze exiting my mouth. All my past medical training threatened to overwhelm me with anxiety as I checked everyone’s nail beds for signs of cyanosis. The constant dull headaches, sinus “pops” and lack of energy taking its toll on some in the group. That is what 11,975 ft/3650 meters does to you. It makes you temporarily miserable and somewhat nuts while time slows down to a crawl as you wait for your body to acclimate. But then I visited Jokhang Temple and suddenly everything slipped into its proper perspective.

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Imagine rounding a corner and being swept away into the mass of religious pilgrims forever circling clockwise around the large outdoor square surrounding the temple. Colorful prayer wheels whirling, canes of the ancients clacking on the stone, babies crying and old men chanting as you are pulled into something deeper than yourself and what you momentarily comprehend as a “life force” which sweeps you all together for a greater purpose. Imagine the pungent smell of incense catering to believers and non-believers seeping like coal dust into your pores and pouring into your soul. And imagine in all your disbelief and mesmerization almost tripping over a pilgrim who is two years into his journey and only 1,000 ft away from his goal of achieving a better future for himself and his family; this accomplished by devoting himself and his life for those years to the Buddha. You watch as his scraped and dirty hands first clasp together at his head (to think of the teachings of the Buddha) then at his mouth (to listen to the teachings of the Buddha) then his hands moving to his heart (to feel the love and compassion of the Buddha). And then, I watch with morbid fascination as the man soars like a bound eagle just a few meager feet forward until he crashes prostrate on the ground. The only thing moving now are his charcoal black bare feet which twitch in anticipation of rising once more so that he may move ahead only as far as his body length to start the entire process over…day after day, week after week and year after year. Truly, if he can show this sort of dedication I can surely see that my slight “suffering” is nothing compared to his. Suddenly this cold ache I have been feeling since I arrived never felt quite so alive and warm.

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Dinner is yak. Yak milk tea (yuck!), yak cheese soup (double yuck!) and hot right-out-of-the-oven pastry stuffed with yak (mighty tasty). I think of the faithful outside of the temple wondering if they will have anything warm to fill their bellies tonight as they circle the temple three times to complete their journey. And I finally comprehend the importance of alms in this era of “ME, MONEY and MORE” as I think back upon the times I could have showed greater compassion. Because in the end (according to the Buddha) in order to alleviate suffering (both our own and the immense suffering within the world) compassion must be practiced. And for compassion to develop we must be willing to open our eyes.

So here I am Tibet…my eyes are open…show me what I need to see, teach me what I need to know, and let me experience those things that will shake me to the core. Thuk-je zig.

t'oo-je-che

 

 

If I Die- My Advice To My Boys

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For about the past ten years whenever I travel I tend to freak out before I go. While I never used to be… I am now scared of flying. My family expects this of my now and laugh at my trepidation. I originally told B I was not going to China with him because I had an overwhelming feeling of dread. So now, as I contemplate this trip I have decided I need to leave my sons my thoughts on what I think contributes to living a good life just in case I trip on a yak and fall to my death on Everest. I thought of all of these things off of the top of my head instead of consulting the internet so that is probably why the list is what it is.

For P, A and R… Love CLHD 12/20/15

  1. While most business transactions are no longer done with a handshake honoring your word is still the most important thing you can do.
  2. Look at the important people in your life. What do you admire about them? Why do you like to be around them? Take those qualities and make them your own.
  3. Saying, “Yes, sir” to your date’s father is a good way to begin.
  4. When you know in your heart that what you are doing is wrong have the courage to walk away even if it means leaving your friends behind.
  5. Whether you like it or not there will be a lot of people depending on you when you reach adulthood. Do those things that will earn their respect, love and trust.
  6. Don’t be afraid to take a chance. If it works out it builds character. It it doesn’t work out it builds character and you learn something valuable about the situation and/or yourself.
  7. Mama’s boys are a good thing as long as Mama is in the spot she belongs…behind your wife.
  8. Sharing feelings is often difficult for men. Do it anyway. Better for someone to know what you are thinking than having to spend all their time guessing incorrectly.
  9. Say “I love you” when you walk out the door. You never know if you will walk back in again.
  10. Never put “it” in a person you don’t want to wake up to everyday for the next 20 years.
  11. Having five children with five different women is cruel, stupid and condemns you child to less than a life he/she deserves. Be responsible. Don’t do it.
  12. Honesty truly is the best policy.
  13. Help others out when you can. It’s good for you and its good for the world.
  14. Be A Boy Scout. Be trustworthy, brave, helpful,clean and friendly. Doing these things never hurt anyone.
  15. Chivalry is not dead. Open doors for your girlfriend, wife and older women just because it is a nice thing to do.
  16. Be the kind of boyfriend/husband that every woman wishes her husband was.
  17. Sex is sex and love is love. Don’t confuse the two.
  18. Women are not a prize you discard after you obtain them.
  19. Too many notches in your belt only weakens the structure until it can no longer do the job of holding up your pants.
  20. Remember how you would sit for hours making legos. Find something that you love that much and spend time doing it.
  21. The way you act influences others. Act in the way you want to be remembered if you were to die tomorrow.
  22. Friends are important. Nurture those relationships and don’t abandon them for a girl.
  23. Have enough character to return the guys underpants that were run up the flagpole.
  24. Save for a rainy day. Cardboard boxes fall apart in the rain.
  25. It’s difficult when society says tough guy=real man. Be a tough guy only when you want to be and don’t be stupid about it.
  26. Bar fights are nothing to brag about.
  27. If you are drinking more than two beers a day you are taking away time from things that are really important.
  28. Two of you are a minority in this country. Expect to be stopped by the police for no real reason at all. Talk nicely, be cooperative, and make no sudden moves.
  29. Pick a woman who loves you boldly and completely. Make sure she is your best friend and has your back at all times.
  30. You will have many disappointments in life. Don’t wallow in them.
  31. You are responsible for your own happiness. Don’t put that on anyone else.
  32. Don’t follow orders blindly.
  33. Make a bucket list when you are young and work to finish the list before you die.
  34. You don’t have to change the world but changing your own neighborhood is something to shoot for.
  35. Lead by example.
  36. Don’t wear your pants down to your knees. It isn’t a cultural thing, it isn’t a societal thing…it’s a disregarding yourself thing which makes you look like something you are not.
  37. For goodness sake. No tats on the face. You’ll just look like a thug and most people won’t give you a job.
  38. You don’t have to accept a dare.
  39. It is easy to love in an emergency. It is harder to love in plain day to day living. Love like its always an emergency.
  40. When you are fearful keep going forward and face your fears head on.
  41. Drag racing can kill and often has unintended consequences. Don’t do it.
  42. Decide early on what is acceptable and what is not. Make a list of those things and stick to it. Then update that list every once-in-awhile on a quiet day when you have plenty of time to contemplate.
  43. Things will change with time. Try to go with the flow.
  44. Don’t make a promise unless you intend to keep it
  45. Your EVERYTHING MUST BE FAIR IN LIFE Certificate was lost at birth. You cannot order another one.
  46. Be sure to tell you wife two things you appreciate about her each day and compliment her three times a day.
  47. If you want a happy marriage YOU must be happy.
  48. There is no shame in apologizing. Don’t let your pride in the the way of being the first to do so.
  49. “Boys will be boys” is not an excuse for anything.
  50. There are girls that will love you, there are girls who will use you, and there are girls who only want you to be their baby daddy. Abstain until you know which is which and if you can’t do that ALWAYS ALWAYS ALWAYS use a condom or two.
  51. Telling your mother when you are 18 that you are going to be a daddy will make her CRAZY…don’t chance it.
  52. Volunteer your time and resources when you are young. You are often more useful, you will meet some great people and someone is always needed to move the boxes.
  53. Don’t be a bully with your fists or your words. There is someone who will always be bigger and badder than you and karma will ensure you will meet them.
  54. Don’t be afraid to try. EVER…unless it is something stupid.
  55. There are people in life that want to bring you down. Don’t let them succeed.
  56. Canoeing is a good way to forget life’s troubles.
  57. Success doesn’t happen through magical thinking. It takes hard work, dedication and the willingness to be flexible. Do all three.
  58. Teach what you know. Learn what you want to teach.
  59. If you want to learn be willing to listen.
  60. If there is something you are good at work harder to become great at it. Anyone can paint but it takes dedication and lots of practice to be asked to paint the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel.
  61. Enjoying life means you cannot be a couch potato or a video game player. In order to get something out of it you have to put something into it.
  62. Save a life at least once during yours. Throw that starfish back into the water.
  63. You will probably change careers several times during your life. Do what makes you happy but make sure it pays the bills.
  64. Start investing in a job that has a 401 K and max it out every year. There is nothing more terrifying than coming to the end of your working years realizing the money you have saved can fit into something the size of a shoe box.
  65. Gardening is a good way to teach your children responsibility.
  66. Everything in moderation is still a good adage.
  67. If your first priority is to make your wife happy in bed you will reap untold rewards.
  68. Use deodorant everyday. If you don’t you won’t get the girl, you won’t get the job and you will have to shout at the people standing five feet away from you.
  69. Own at least one tie and one good pair of dress shoes.
  70. Believe in yourself and surround yourself with others who believe in you too. You deserve nothing less.
  71. Everyone has numerous strengths to draw upon. Find yours and improve upon them so that you know they are fully developed when you need them
  72. Read something everyday.
  73. Giving up and giving in too soon rarely accomplishes anything of value.
  74. Spend one day each week refusing to talk or act out of negativity.
  75. Be friends with those who are different races, ethnicities and religions than you. The blessings you reap will be a 1000 times greater than those first few minutes of being uncomfortable and unsure.
  76. The person who acts like they know everything knows nothing of true value.
  77. Real men ask for help (and directions)
  78. Vacations are important.
  79. Mid-life crisis’ are real. Don’t be a jackass during yours.
  80. Don’t confuse status with truth. A luxury car only means big payments and nothing about who is driving it.
  81. Your Dad was a great man. Take the parts you admire and incorporate them into your life.
  82. Make sure that the person you give your heart to really appreciates its worth.
  83. Having common interests is very helpful to sustaining a marriage.
  84. It’s just fine to cry. What you will learn from doing so will enrich your soul more than the tears ever will.
  85. There are times that your life will be beyond hard. Know that I am there in some form holding you tight.
  86. Keep your imagination open and running like when you were a kid.
  87. Never forget to put down the briefcase and play a game of hopscotch
  88. “If you can’t beat them join them” is no excuse for anything that happens afterwards.
  89. Fulfill your dreams before having children so you don’t resent them.
  90. Not everyone will like you. Deal with it.
  91. Be respectful to your elders.

Times Past

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I still remember the things my parents did for me that my children or the kids in my neighborhood will most likely never experience. Sometimes that realization makes me sad. Some of this disconnect from my past stems from where we currently reside but some of it is due to the change in times. It seems strange to me how so much of the innocence I experienced of 50 years ago is gone and seems unlikely to return. Things like:

My father standing out in the bitter cold, night after night, pouring water over a homemade ice skating rink. Sliding the water here and there to make sure that the surface was even in thickness and perfectly smooth like glass. Then after several days of hard freeze he would lace up my skates while my wobbly ankles would cross precariously as I put one foot in front of the other, my blades slowly carving up his masterpiece.

Watching our black and white television where killers or carve-them-ups were not allowed to enter our household. Cuss words were unheard of too. The only things on television back then were shows which presented people trying to do their best and to help one another. In short, they showcased families/individuals who loved each other and the positive in life.

My parents pulling us through the streets on sleds to see the Christmas lights that decorated each set of eaves as the snow fell over them; creating a colorful shimmer that I remember to this day. Then, should we complain of cold (which we always did), my mother would magically pull out a thermos of hot chocolate to warm our bodies and our hearts. Such a simple way to show love and concern.

My grandmother making homemade mittens and scarves while my aunt sewed us outfits for Christmas. In addition, my mother always sewed my halloween costume (once out of old drapes) whereas I have yet to sew one. Most kids today have never experienced the thrill and the patience while waiting for the perfect outfit to emerge out of odds and ends that litter the sewing machine table.

Most of today’s kids will never hold an ice cream social, a play, and sell trinkets to earn money for charity. Back in the day, my mother would gather the squirmy and oh-so-hyper six-year-old neighborhood kids together for rehearsal everyday for the entire week prior to the performance. Then we would sell tickets to the big event to all the neighbors. Afterwards, my mother would load all the thespians into our dark blue Rambler station wagon and off we would go to the charity of choice to deliver the money we had collected. Being that this was in the days before digital photography I have grainy superimposed pictures to remind me of these times but I do remember the sense of pride and accomplishment I felt for doing something to help others. It’s something that appears to be lacking from the experience of many kids these days.

Crisp fall days during which my parents took us to the Franklin Cider Mill where we watched the apples being pulverized by the turning of the water wheel and where we ate fresh hot powdered cinnamon donuts on picnic benches while the cool wind blew the sticky sugar off our treats.

Back in the late 60’s and early 70’s the grocery aisle was a real treat. I remember picking my breakfast cereal not for taste but for the records by teen heartthrobs David Cassidy, Bobby Sherman or the Monkees that were on the back of the boxes. How glorious the sound after taking the time to carefully punch out 45’s from the cardboard box. Decoder rings and invisible pens were also prized possessions.

Once upon a time science was  new and exciting and at the forefront of our lives. When discoveries were made it was a time for everyone to rejoice along with renew our sense of national pride. In 1969 when I was just a kid I remember my mother waking me up to see Neil Armstrong walk on the moon.It was really late and our black and white television was fuzzy with the pictures being beamed back to earth. Now big discoveries are so common place that it seems as if the breath-taking excitement just isn’t there anymore.

Riding our bikes within a five block radius and exploring the world like children are suppose to be able to do without fear of injury or death. No wonder so many kids these days are afraid of failing…they never got the chance to try the little things that instill confidence.

Knowing all the people at the stores where we shopped. Back when I was a kid there was the crooked old man (Mr. Banner) who ran the milk store where milk was kept in bottles not cartons. There was the butcher who always smiled at me as he wrapped my mothers picks in white butcher paper. I also knew the liquor store owners because they had a penny-candy section that upon occasion I was allowed to peruse. The Chinese couple (The Kims) at the cleaners were favorites as was the old French lady who made the sweetest potato bread I had ever tasted. These days, unless you live in Europe, those relationships are missing from our children’s lives and its such a shame because these are the people who taught me that people who were “different” than me and my family were loving, kind and interesting. It was they who inspired me to seek out individuals who might teach me a thing or two as I journeyed through life.

These and so many things shaped me as I grew up into the imperfect person that I am but without these experiences I am convinced that I would have thought that the world was a harsh and lonely place; a place that so many of today’s kids believe the world to be.  A life without happy, positive and inspiring memories is hardly a life at all. And that is why I worry about so many of our youth of today.