Watch where you are going

I married my sweetheart just over 6 months ago.  I moved here to Oregon 4 months ago.  Now my husband has a dog named Athena.  She is a Brittany Spaniel.  Overall she is a good dog.  She sheds which drives me crazy, but I adjust.


During the winter months it rains, and rains, and rains here.  So I began letting the dogs out (I have a toy poodle) by putting them on leashes and letting them walk out to the backyard to do their thing.  I remained safely in the back doorway where it was dry.  Athena kept on wrapping herself around a fig tree that my husband planted right next to the patio.  It drove me NUTS!  I would end up going outside and trying to get this dog to come back around the tree.  She would pull harder the opposite way and I would end up soaked from the rain.

A couple of weeks ago Athena did the same thing as usual.  Only I let go of the leash.  She came into the house.  It finally dawned on me that all I had to do was let go rather than trying to force her to do it my way.  I looked at Athena, patted her on the head and said, “Well girl, you finally taught me!  It only took four months but I finally got the message.”

My dad used to say, “If it doesn’t work the first time try something else.  Don’t just get a bigger hammer.”  It was one of those sayings that parents have.  He grew up as a farmer and I find that children of farmers have heard many of the same things that I did.

My favorite saying my dad used to say was, “Get your rear end behind you!”  He’d yell that in exasperation when he was having me help lift something or wash the car.  I never could understand this one!  I mean really!  I don’t know of anyone whose rear end suddenly snuck around in front of them when they weren’t looking do you?  So as far as I know my rear end has been behind me all of my life!

I know that I had some things that I said over and over to my kids.  The one that comes to mind is “Watch where you are going, not where you’ve been.”  My middle son was always getting bruises, goose eggs, and black eyes from running into things.  He would be playing with his brothers, running away from one of them, and turn to see if they were coming.  He would run into the corner of the walls over and over.

I’d say, “Watch where you are going, not where you’ve been.”

It is kind of fitting for everyday life I think.  If we will look forward to the future rather than focusing on the past we won’t wind up with as many bruises.

What things did your parents say to you?  Or what have you said to your children?

Different paths

I was talking with a friend a little while ago about the different struggles we face. She told me about her battle with infertility.  She and her husband were married for 8 years and still no babies.

She kept herself busy with school, gaining her degree in elementary education.  During that time they went through invitro fertilization treatments.  She said that the hormones were so hard on her, and her husband.  Her moods were all over the place.

Watching people younger than them start their families was very hard on them.  They cried together, they prayed together, and clung to their faith.

I watched this wonderful woman teach children and do such a good job.  She is amazing with kids!  Some people just have that special something that helps them click with kids.  She is one of them!

She said that after the third miscarriage they decided to try adoption.  As she told the story she sat with the most beautiful little baby boy on her lap.  He has a head full of dark hair.  She said that they were chosen as this little boy’s parents in an open adoption, just shortly after registering to adopt.  His birth mother had been scouring the pictures of families and just couldn’t find the right ones.  Then finally she was given their profile.  She said that she immediately recognized them as the people who should adopt and raise her baby.

I have a relative who didn’t get married until she was 37 years old.  She thought that she was beyond the age of having children but stilled hoped to have a child of her own.  She had 4 children.  The fourth was born when this dear lady was 47 years old.

Now, I am 50 years old this year, and I can’t really imagine having a three year-old.  I have grandchildren older than that.

We each have our own paths.  Sometimes they don’t take us where we expected.  Whether it is struggling with infertility or more fertility than we expected.  We all learn to adjust to disappointments and trials and miracles in life.

I have 4 children.  Each was born right around 18 months after the next.  So by the time the fourth one was born I had a newborn, and 18 month-old, a three year-old and a four and half year old.  Yes, I had 4 preschoolers at once!  I look back and I have no idea how I did that.

At one point we were looking for a place to rent. The landlord of the apartment we were looking at took a look at my precious children and said, “They must be such a burden on you.”  Being the mama bear that I am I shot back, “They aren’t a burden to me, but obviously they would be to you.”  I grabbed my children and marched out without looking back.

I was once told, “Every child is a million.  So when you are feeling poor, take a look around at how rich you really are.”  I may not have much of the material things of the world, but I am very rich indeed!

On the day of my first grandchild’s birth I realized a Grandma had just been born.

I have 4 grandchildren now.  They are worth more than money can buy!

What are the unexpected paths that you have walked in your life?

Makes you stop and think

Today I got news that my first mother-in-law passed away. She was about 85 years old, so she has lived a good life. It made me think of the time that I spent with her. She taught me a lot. She taught me to can food. She taught me to quilt and to sew. Oh and she had to have some patience on that one! She had been a Home Ec. teacher in her younger years. She went on to have 9 children. The last being 20 years younger than the first.

She was a tough little lady! All 5’2″ of her. She had to be, she had 6 sons and three daughters. She took care of her own mother-in-law in her the last few years that she had lived.

My former father-in-law grew a garden larger than the yard I have now. So she had to can food and can food and can food. I’m sure it took that much to feed a family of 11.

She was not an easy one to win over either. I didn’t do things her way and she let me know about it.

Still, she has my never ending gratitude to this day, for things that she taught me.

I can’t help but think how this reflects back on the whole idea of living plan B. We don’t start out thinking we are going to get divorced when we get married. We think we will live happily ever after with the person we are with. When that doesn’t happen we have to reset our sail and find better waters.

Sailing alone for a while is necessary in my opinion. It takes a while to clear your head, find yourself and then decide if you want to share someone else’s boat again.

Getting divorced means losing the family we had come to love as our own.

Every person we meet in this life adds something to who we are. The goal is to take away from that encounter the good things about that person. Never forget that each life you touch changes them too.  So change them for the better.

Here she is with my daughter and her family. She still had such a smile!

We love you Merle!

With all of her children and some of their families


Six months ago I married my sweetheart.  We did the whole 11/11/11 thing.  We thought it was kind a neat opportunity.

So this is a picture of us.  Isn’t he handsome?  I sure think so!

I wanted the world to know how grateful I am for such a good man!  My sweetheart works 10 hours a day, 6 days a week.  He has an hour commute, one-way.  He comes home and works in the yard and is willing to help with dinner if I need it.  What more could I ask for?

A few years ago when I was freshly divorced, and facing the world as a single mom, a friend did a huge favor for me.  She introduced me to a Gratitude Journal.  Someone had given her one when she was first divorced.  She knew that it brought about a huge change in her perspective.  It did the same thing for me.

A Gratitude Journal is an idea from a book called Simple Abundance by Sarah BanBreathnach.  The idea being that you write five things in it every night that you are thankful for from that day.  At first it was not that easy.  I was mired in self-pity and overwhelmed with taking care of my family.  So I took on the challenge of being grateful.

Some days all I could be thankful for was that the work day was over and all the kids were in bed.  Then as I paid attention to the things that were going on around me I found more and more things to be thankful for.  One day (and I will never for get it) I was driving to work on a particularly foggy day.  The sun broke through in one place and it was glorious!  If I had not been paying attention I would have totally missed it.

Whether we feel blessed or burdened is mostly in our own minds.  A lot of our disappointments come from life not meeting up to this imaginary standard that we created.

A lot of divorces come from one partner feeling disillusioned.  Marriage just isn’t what they envisioned it to be, so… another generation grows up without the benefit of both parents in the home.

So back to gratitude.  I have the most amazing mate.  We speak each other’s language.  I think that is very important.  He makes me laugh!  He makes me smile!  Sometimes I just shake my head and say, “What am I going to do with this man?”  And I love him with all of my heart!  He is the other half of my soul.  I thank God for bringing him into my life.

Who, or what are you grateful for today?  Try to think of three things before you go to bed tonight.  Write them down so you can look back at them later.  It is amazing how it can change how you see things.

Action Words

This last weekend my husband and I had a few days to ourselves, which is nice!  His youngest lives with us.  She is a great kid!  It’s just nice to have a bit of time for just us.

So we did some yard work, went out to dinner, rented a couple of DVDs, and then he asked me to do something.  Something I didn’t want to do.  He has this motorcycle, it’s just bigger than a dirt bike really.  Perfect for him.  It is street legal… lest you wonder.  He wanted me to go for a ride with him on the bike.

Now if you know me, you know how comical this is.  My first thoughts were something like this picture…

I did not want to get on that bike!!!  However, I love my husband and I knew it would tickle him to no end.  So I agreed.

Now, we are both… shall we say… fluffy.  The nice skinny figure of my younger years is gone! So I imagine we looked something like two circus bears on one little bicycle.

As we exited our neighborhood, scrunched on that motorcycle, helmets tapping as I clung on to my husband for dear life, a car went by.  The occupants looked at us and broke down in hysterical laughter!

He said we would go for a ride around the neighborhood.  I was thinking a couple of blocks.  We were gone for 15 minutes.  It felt like at least two hours.  I had such a death grip around my sweetheart’s chest that I’m surprised he could breathe.

He took me out on some county roads.  He would point out fields and tell me what was growing there.  I could tell he was having a great time!  Me… not so much.

I finally started to ask myself why I was so scared.  I trust my husband.  Yes, I did have most of my weight on one butt cheek most of the ride, and I was in pain.  That wasn’t it.  I have a seizure disorder and I was afraid that I would have a seizure and without a backrest I could have fallen off.  That wasn’t really it either.

I am afraid of letting someone else be in control.  I’m afraid of letting go and just relaxing in the moment.  (NO! I would not have let go of him for anything!)

Trust, love and faith are all action words.  Sometimes we just have to quit thinking and start doing.

Loving someone sometimes means that we do the things that they like.  It means that we put our ego on the back burner and let them be in control.  It means putting their needs before ours, and enjoying the fact that they are happy.  I can be just as happy (if not more) watching my husband enjoy the things he likes to do, as I am doing what I like.

Will I ride a motorcycle with my husband again?  Yes…  When it is a bigger bike with a backrest.

What do you do for the people you love?

Art Dreaming

I’ve been talking about changes and how we handle them.  My ultimate release of stress and anxiety is art.  Right now almost all of my stuff is still boxed up from a recent move, however, maybe I will get brave and show you some of my stuff.  Sometime.

What do you do to release stress?  My husband plays video games.  Yes, he is 53 and he plays video games.  I don’t get upset about it because it does help him deal with stress.

My daughter-in-law is an athlete.  For her running is how she releases stress and feels good.

See how happy she looks when she is running?!

That is the kind of joy that art gives me!  I love to take something that was blank and create something out of it. It doesn’t have to be perfect.  Art is subjective.  As long as the artist feels his or her bliss, then it IS perfect.

I got the same amount of happiness from sewing clothes for my kids.  I took a bunch of fabric and actually made something functional from it!  It was even fun after my kids outgrew it and gave it to the neighbor kids.  I loved seeing them wearing it too!

Over the last 15 years of working and being a single mom I forgot how much joy I get out of creating.

Last night I woke up from a dream about creating artwork.  All sorts of artwork!  I laid there and I didn’t want to get up because I felt like I was being encircled in arms of comfort.  For me it was a reminder of what is inside of me.

When was the last time you did what made you feel that accomplished?  I’m not talking about your day to day work.  I mean the thing that nags at your soul.  When did you last play that musical instrument that is gathering dust?  When did you last dig in the garden?  Or throw some clay on the pottery wheel?  When did you take time for just you and your family?

Will today be remembered?  Or will it just be one of a million countless days that you said, “Someday…”?

Excuse me… I have some boxes to go dig through.

Ch-ch-ch-ch Changes

Life is all about change.  Some we like, some we don’t.  I think that some times in my life I have been like the photo below…

I laughed when I saw this picture, because I think it pretty much sums up how a lot of us feel about making changes.

I remember taking my kids to a babysitter when they were little and having them go limp instead of walking.  Have you ever tried to lift a little kid when they do that?  They suddenly gain 2 tons of weight.

We all have a fear of the unknown to some degree.  It can be at work, in our relationship, family, living conditions, health or whatever.  We struggle against change.

Today I was watching some squirrels play outside in our backyard.  Two of them were romping and jumping, climbing a tree and then leaping from one branch to the tip end of a branch on another tree.  I wondered how much different life would be if we all plunged right in with our full hearts like that.

My daughter is one of those people who lives life fully.  She enjoys life as much as she possibly can.   I love that in her!  When she was little she would dive right into the swimming pool, forgetting that she didn’t know how to swim.  She had confidence that we would grab her and keep her from drowning.  She knew she was safe.

What makes you feel safe?  Where or to who do you look for stability?

My Plan A was to be a mommy, to take care of our home, make it a place where the grandkids would come one day.  Now I know that isn’t everybody’s idea of heaven, but it was mine.

I wound up working as a juvenile probation officer for 15 years.  It was sort of my version of still getting to be a mom full-time, only it was to hundreds of other kids.  It served our family very well.  I learned things I would never have known if I had been a stay-at-home mom.  It was a good blend.  I was able to know what was going on with my kids and still provide an income.