Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Finding My Way Back



This morning I took the time to be quiet. I didn't rush to my exercise class or start the list of tasks I wanted to accomplish. I sat quietly with a single candle lighting my space and watched the darkness outside turn to morning light.  Every so often I would see the light catch the softly falling snow. My mind raced with all the things I want to achieve today and all the things I "should be" doing, but I forced myself to just be.

Over the last few months I have slowly become a bit unhinged. It seemed as though I was watching my life happen. Perhaps I could equate it to a puppet. I was going through the motions and something inside me did all the emotional heavy lifting and thinking while I plodded along making my way through each day. I was my own prisoner. I did what I needed to do. I faked happiness at the appropriate times, trying hard not to let on (or give in to the fact) that I was a prisoner of my own making.

Kind friends that I shared these feelings with encouraged me and loved me, but I knew that the work was mine to do. Knowing that people cared meant so much but no one can heal your mind. That is your own work and its hard work. What is most difficult is knowing there is something wrong and not being able to just "snap out of it".

 I finally took the time to speak to a professional. I laid out my head and heart and gently worked to sort through the pieces of who I am.  I made the choice to speak with a professional because my burden was heavy enough for me and I didn't want my family or friends to feel responsible to carry it too. That was the beginning of my repair work. The reason for my unhinging is not clear but the loose hinge dangled there through the holidays and into the new year and I worried I might not get back to being me. There is a part of me that wants an answer to "why" this happened. I also long for assurance that it wont happen again, but no one can make that promise. I was fortunate that I was able to recognize what was going on inside of me.  

I am still tender and not quite healed yet. This wound was deeper than I thought and I am allowing myself the time to get back to the me I want to be. I am not sure how I will be on the other side of this, but I hope that by sharing with you my own struggle you will feel comfortable reaching out if you ever need to. I also hope that if you are standing by as a loved one or friend struggles you will gently encourage them to lean on someone that can help them find their way back. Trying to "help" those of us who are struggling is a tough and many times unappreciated task. If your not careful you can become the bad guy or even fall prey to an unhinging. 

The good news is that every morning is a new start. This morning I saw miracles in nature. The falling snow and the sun rising and bringing light into a new day. If i can remind myself each morning of the good things perhaps over time the hinge will reattach and the bruising of the last few months will heal. I am finding my way back.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Down Hill

This morning I was listening to the radio and the DJ was talking about how he is 41 and he is having problems with his knees and just generally feeling like "now that he is older" things are going "down hill". As I listened with my 56 year old ears all I could think was "Stop that"! What is the matter with people, why would you purposely limit yourself by the number of years you have been alive? Why would you want to assume that an ailment turns you into someone "older" and then say it like its a bad thing?

There are a lot of us out there that are "older" if we use the DJ's definition. I have a real problem with someone else announcing what old is. To me old is a state of mind not a problem that befalls you, age is a number and life is a gift. The more positive we remain and the more we do to maintain our youth and youthful spirit the better off we are.

As far as downhill, Sleds go downhill. I love sledding, that excitement as you climb to the top and then slide fast as can be down the hill. The thrill of wondering how far you will slide or whether you will tumble off. How about Roller coasters those are exciting for thrill seekers everywhere. That swooshing up and down faster than you ever have before. Downhill and up hill and sometimes even loops. I would say if you are a roller coaster fan that down hill doesn't sound bad at all.

So I guess what has me all riled up is that this person who is 15 years younger then me is  griping about his knees and aging himself and I wonder why? Let's just say that no matter what direction we go, up or down we all make our way to the end of the road. But how about we just knock off the aging ourselves stuff. It's only bringing down the whole team. I have lots of life left in me and I do not intend on letting others define for me what I should be doing, eating, wearing or saying no matter what age I am.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Cutting The Cord

When you think of cutting the cord, are you thinking of with your children, or your parents? I'm being nosy, because I'm going to cut the cord with my time sucking use of technology. I want to care a bit less about all the things that latch on to my brain when I open up Facebook or any of the other hundreds of ways that technology has become front and center in my mind.

Gone are the times when going out to eat was a quiet respite from home. Now most restaurants have televisions near by so that you can stare into the eyes of someone on the television rather then into the face or faces of the people you are with. It's actually frustrating because you want to cut the cord and disconnect yet everywhere you turn there is another connection. I should also tell you that when I say I'm going to disconnect I am actually lying. How is it even possible? If your not connected, suddenly you don't know anything about anyone. Which in the big picture really isn't so bad, but in the little picture being in the know about everybody and everything is our new national pass time.

I talk a big game and then I see my phone and check for texts and emails. "What? No texts or emails?" "Maybe there is something on Facebook, I'll check". In a total of five minutes I go from a solid resolution to a wishy washy attempt at breaking free and I have wasted at least 10 to 15 minutes. AGH! All the stories I have heard about our technology becoming an addiction is starting to ring true for me.

 I make lots of noise about cutting the cord, but those sly technologists have created everything so well. We know so much so fast and if we are sitting alone somewhere we no longer have to sit quietly and think. We can look on our phone for a game or a video.Why spend time soul searching when you can catch up on the latest news or text with a friend? Why become a better person or day dream? Part of my frustration with all of this is that I'm doing all of these things and I want to stop but I'm so tied up and entwined in the amazing gift of goods that technology offers. I tell myself everyday that I'm not going to do this or that with technology on that day and then later find myself guiltily picking up my phone or IPad and opening up an app and feeling the sweet relief of being connected.

The best I can do at this point is give myself a break and cut the cord of guilt, Nothing can be gained by constantly berating myself. The more pressure I apply to myself the more I seem drawn to technology. Perhaps by letting it go and making it less of an issue, I will relax and turn my head more to the people I'm with and the books I want to read. I guess what I am saying is that rather than cutting a tie, I should work towards new habits and better choices to add to my life rather than cutting cords and taking things away from myself. I like that idea better. What do you think?

Monday, January 2, 2017

Welcome 2017

I miss the days when I would sit and write. Thoughtfully plodding and crafting my thoughts so that I could share them. Somehow in the last year life rushed by. Did you notice it too? It seemed as though each day would start and end in seconds. Time was quick to pass leaving me breathless each day. I felt rushed in 2016. I was constantly frustrated with myself for not starting or sometimes finishing projects.

As this new year begins I have plans to leash 2017 and train it to move more slowly. Perhaps being more aware of each minute and holding it close I can savor the time more. Our lives have become so quick and easy. All the amazing technology we have available now has taken away those spare minutes where we would pause with nothing to do but see or hear life happening around us. Those moments when we would dream or think quietly. Hearing the birds singing or watching the snow quietly fall are now invaded with videos and emails and texts.

I am wondering how to pull back a little.  As I sit here pounding words into my new iPad, I realize how so much of what I am frustrated with has helped connect us all more. Is it possible that we are connected too much? Is there a chance that we don't need to watch a video on our phone? Can we possibly get through without instant gratification in every corner of our lives? Obviously we can get by, we were connected long before any of this was available. But do we want to?

How do I convince my children that what they value so much in their lives could very well be cheating them out of so much more? The personnel connections and time spent just being are quietly drifting away. Will my girls ever understand what a luxury it is to sit and hear a real clock tick? There is nothing like the feeling of time gently rocking you as you contemplate life. The clock gently whispering "relax, relax, relax" as you sit with a beloved pet nestled near you or as you watch the sun rise or set. 

I welcome 2017. I welcome it with open eyes and heart, and I pledge to connect a little less. I plan to write more, breath more slowly and even experience new things.  I want to savor the life that I have left and not be so quick to give it away to technology. Is there a chance you feel this way too? Maybe if just a few of us slow down and take the time to be a part of the life we are living, we can convince others how valuable it is. Less Facebook, less videos and more reading and spending quality time with people we love and enjoy. Better yet, just time with ourselves reconnecting with the person we are and moving away from the disconnected busy people we have become. Happy New Year!

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Identity


This last Sunday at church, our pastor talked about identity and how our early life imprints affect us and shape us into the people we become. As he was talking about this my mind wandered to what I recall as my earliest life memory and I became a little sad.

My earliest memory is when I was 3 years old. A little neighbor girl (that was a few years older) and I were playing outside when she suggested we walk to a local park to play. I thought the idea was a good one and off we went. Being 3 the idea of telling anyone did not cross my mind or at least I do not remember thinking about asking. We had fun playing on the swings and slide and after a while my friend said she was going home but I didn’t want to go so she left me there alone.

I was having a lovely time playing until my Mom arrived angry. That’s when she also began “spanking me” holding my one arm lifting me off the ground and hitting me with her free hand. Hitting hard and walking and carrying me by my arm for what I would guess would have been about a mile. Now I know as a Mom how scared she must have been when no one could find me, but I also know that at the time I did not understand what I had done. I just remember being afraid. I still remember getting back to my Grandparent’s house where we lived at the time and my granddaddy trying to step in to stop Mom from hurting me and my Mom getting angry with him too.

I still remember all of the details because they wrapped around me. They laid into my brain and became part of my identity. I was BAD. I have spent much of my life trying to reconcile the physical abuse I received as a child. I remember so many moments of abuse that I am certain that it fed my brains belief that I was not good enough. It formed a false identity that I struggle with today and every day.

It is hard to reframe who you are when your only identity of self was being less than. After years and years and years of therapy and raising three wonderful girls with my best friend /husband I have learned how true love transforms who we are. I have learned that we all do the best we can with what we have and I also have learned that sometimes the best you can do can be even better if you are willing to make the effort.


 I know that in her way my Mom did love me and at the same time I never felt that love. The memory of that identity that wrapped around me and laid into my brain is still a small piece of who I am, but the bigger part of me is the person I became on my own.  I did this by working hard to be all the good things I saw in those friends and loved ones I admired. I work hard every day to have an identity that is the real me and not the bad me I thought I was so long ago. The memory’s and sadness can linger there and every so often rear their ugly heads, but that imprint is small and will always be a reminder of why I want my identity to be the best self I can be for myself and everyone I love.  

Friday, September 23, 2016

Is This Thing On?


The last few weeks were filled with preparing my youngest daughter Avery for a semester abroad in England. There were many things to take into account. Allergy medicine, prescriptions needed for four months worth and inhalers for the same amount of time. Warm clothes, rain boats, cool clothes for the warm days, shoes, underwear, socks, makeup, computer, camera and anything else you can think of that will be enough for four months, fit into one checked bag, a carry on and a back pack. My job was making sure that every little detail was covered without my daughter raising her hand in annoyance and yelling “MOM STOP!”

Many times I would throw in my 15 cents worth of advice. Let’s face it, moms know stuff, we have lived longer, packed more and have radar for what is needed in any given situation. Just ask any one of us and we will mother you up, we’ve got this! So when a mom voices a concern perhaps a few moments should be devoted to her point. The following story is why…

Two days ago I received a text from my daughter in England and it said “The ATM, just ate my debit card. I was withdrawing money to pay my rent” My heart sank and my adrenaline started vibrating like jet fuel was filling in for blood. All I could think of was CRAP!

Back story
 a few weeks ago I had suggest to my daughter and husband that perhaps we should get my daughter a credit card in addition to her debit card in case of an emergency. I’m not a credit card kind of gal, but I do think that there are times when a little back up is necessary. ANYWAY…my husband and daughter felt like that would not be necessary, so OKAY, whatever.

In addition to this my husband is on my daughters account as a backup. Since my husband often travels for work, I suggested that perhaps I should be on her account in case something came up while my husband is gone. So I asked at the credit union when I was there with my daughter and the clerk said “Your husband is on there it should be fine” Apparently I look suspicious or something, who knows. Anyway, I mentioned it a couple more times since I am a royal pain and no one seemed concerned so I just let it go. Convincing myself I was worrying too much.

Story continues:
My girl is now stuck in England with no Debit card and no way to pay rent or even buy food once her cash runs out and my husband, YEP, you guessed it, was out of town for work! AWESOME…Before my daughter left I had told her that when something happens rather than getting upset or panicking you should say to yourself, “how can I fix this” it is way more productive and you tend to come up with a workable plan. But in the moment all I wanted to do was bang my head on the table because I had been talking and no one had listened! GAH!!

Once I snapped out of it we were able to start a plan through texts and I was able to piece together a somewhat plausible plan. Of course My husband was in a meeting (which I learned after texting him a zillion times) and I could not get a hold of him and the credit union was not about to let me poke in my daughters business because I was not on her account (GAH! Palm to face…).

So the last few days have been back and forth tweaking of a plan that we hope will get the rent paid and keep our daughter from mooching or standing on a corner with a cardboard sign.  We are going to wire money to the landlord and if he agrees a few extra dollars so that our daughter can make it until we receive a new debit card for her. Then we will have to send it on to her which will probably be at least another seven to ten days. 

 All told this will be a good two weeks of nonsense because everyone thought I was over thinking and overly cautious. Okay, maybe not everybody, I know I am being dramatic, but come on I realize that Mom’s can be worry warts but once again I have to remind you, WE KNOW STUFF!!

So, skip the “MOM STOP” comments and put your stop sign arm away and when Mom taps the mike and says “Is This Thing ON?”
LISTEN!





Thursday, September 22, 2016

Aging Eyes


I had this weird moment a few weeks ago. I was laughing and talking and caught a glimpse of myself in the mirror. That single moment has been in the fore front of my mind ever since.

Every day I get up and do any number of things that include working out, showering, caring for my home, working, shopping, eating and spending time with family and friends. I don’t know about you, but I don’t really spend that much time looking at myself. That quick glance in the mirror caught me off guard because I saw this older lady looking back at me. Not elderly but definitely older.

I tend to forget that I am beyond what is generally regarded the life half way point. I carry myself like I feel which is just like I have always felt. I don’t walk slower or avoid activities. Being active and busy is who I am. But I keep thinking back to that shocking glimpse and wondering if the jig is up. Should I stop kidding myself and “act my age?”

That saying that “the eyes are the mirror to the soul” keeps replaying in my mind. Do these eyes reflect the person that I am? Are they full of life and vibrant or are they lying eyes? I think back to my Grandaddy’s sisters my Great Aunts and cannot help but remember how they would all laugh together and tell jokes and stories. There exterior showed signs of aging but their hearts and minds were filled with youthful exuberance. This makes me think that perhaps aging is the badge we begin to wear to show the world that life is to be lived. Our eyes can still sparkle even with a wrinkle or two hugging them. Our hearts still thrill at good news and break with bad and our eyes soldier on carrying the message of our souls. Perhaps those little lines are actually from the weight of all we learn as we walk through each day of our life.


I am well aware that aging is not something you can stop unless you’re dead, so I am happy to have the opportunity to have these lines of life and experience to share. The next time I catch an unexpected glimpse of myself in the mirror I will be grateful for those lines and the chance to see myself as I really am.