Monthly Archives: June 2015

Emotional Thermometer Just Hit 90…

Emotional Thermometer Just Hit 90…

imageEmotional Thermometer Reading. These words flow together obtusely like Grass-Roots Movements and Synergistic Management Solutions. (…The haay-elll does that even mean?) I ALMOST know what the definitions are all about, and they sound important and interesting and descriptive, but secretly, I’m wondering what the fancy jargon is all about. Say what you mean, man! I am unsure what the first word has to do with the second part, and feel absolutely sure that the third word is thrown in purely for pomposity sake. It’s obnoxious-speak for I–FEEL-Important, really.  They are terms that fit a niche group. A dialed in group. A Making-A-Diffeence kind of group. I am an outsider, so far. Nevertheless, I have an opportunity to take my emotional thermometer reading.

Um…. here goes.

This month is wrapped around anticipation. English peas come into season at the farmers’ market. I get 20 lbs., and eat only that for a week. Its almost my birthday, not that I admit to aging. The 4th of July is almost here and that means the nation celebrates my birthday with parades and fireworks. It’s Father’s day, and… Oh yeah. It’s Father’s Day. I get to hint and remind my kids to make my husband feel great and celebrate the good that he brings into their lives. There is a dinner, and cards, and laughing, and usually calling him “Old Man”.  But there is also celebrating MY father.

I can’t call him. I can’t write him. There is no card I can send him. I get to just look to the sky and say, “Thanks, dad, for your advice and love.” I don’t like it. I don’t approve. No one asked me if I was ok with him dying, anyway. It sucks. So my emotional thermometer reading for this month is bitter, climbing to tears, and a possibility of a Klondike Bar.What would you do for a Klondike Bar?

I never did get to tell him thanks for listening when I took the plunge and shared the times I was abused growing up. I didn’t convey to him how much it meant that, when I opened up, he didn’t interrupt, or roll his eyes, or look disappointed. He didn’t look shocked, or embarrassed, or uncomfortable at all. He took it in. And then he said he loved me.

But that wasn’t all.

He looked me right in the eye and said, “Now what are you going to do about it?” I wondered if he meant, was I looking for revenge, or what?… but he clarified by saying, “Dot (short for daughter. I now call my own girl Dot, and smile inside), you have been a victim for a very big portion of your life, up to this point. Right now. And now, you have a choice: To stay a victim, or become a survivor. So, which is it?”.

It hit me hard. I had a pretty big chip on my shoulder. A big one. Hurt and anger and shame and mistrust were all bubbled at the surface. But he was asking me, not with derision or judgement, but with love and genuine interest. What did I want to do from here? Live in the past, or choose to move forward?

In that moment, I chose to move forward. It was freeing, right then. He wasn’t about sympathizing and consoling, or vendettas and revenge. He didn’t waste time with that. He held me in the space of strength. I had a choice, from that time forward. Harumphh. This doesn’t mean I forgot. Or even forgave. (I am quite fine with knowing Karma has given 2 of the jerks just what they deserve.) But, I got to let go of their hold on me.

As I take my emotional temperature, I am a bit bitter. He was the good one. The one that didn’t downplay my hurt. He started a partnership with me. And now he is gone, and I have a day devoted to my memories of him, mingled with a bit of childish pouting. I bounce back and forth, wondering why I don’t know how to feel about this holiday. Empty, maybe. I shy away from the why-can’t-I-feel-him-near-me. Shouldn’t I?


I googled this term. Emotional thermometer. It’s really about being rated, by a scale of 1-10, on how emotionally upset I am in these areas: Distress, Anxiety, Depression, Anger, and Need For Help.

Well…let’s just see.

Distress – Nope. Not this month. Kind of freeing, actually. Had some good intimacy last night, and feeling mighty fine. No emergency here.

Anxiety – Hell yes, I am anxious. I am in the habit of anticipating when the next memory will pop up. How will I react when I see a white young pompous man in a red hat? Or should I give in and drink the anxiety away? I hear it is therapeutic. I wonder if I think about this stuff, am I just prolonging the pain, or am I needing to process this still, and when the hell will it end? Anxious, yep.

Depression – Nope. No highs and no lows this time. I’m doing well in business, assisting others, learning a lot. In short, I am doing my best to keep busy and serve others. And eat ice cream.

Anger – Well, that is the crux this month.  Do I spend time looking at the sky and pretend I can feel my dad looking down in love or disapproval, while I drum up a tear or two for his memory? Do I do the polite, positive thing and call to wish my mother’s new husband a happy Father’s Day, letting him know inadvertently that I am accepting his role as replacement for the man I have yet to really grieve for? That would be…polite.  Should I swallow what I want to really shout, and instead simply say, “I am glad you two are happy. Enjoy your dinner.”  Now this guy is a great guy. A really good guy. He just isn’t my dad. Period. I should work to make him feel comfortable, right? I mean, Right?? Should I…should I…

Should. Screw that!imageI am so angry!!!

Need For Help – Well, that’s why I’m writing. It is my way of moving past the victim mode and sliding into survivor mode. Hmmm. possibly past that into a healthy life.

So, I’ll watch my husband use a crowbar and knife to open his Man Crate, a Father’s Day gift from me, which is understood by all to be from the kids. I’ll coddle him and honor him for his role, not only in my children’s lives, but as my constant companion in moving forward. He becomes my own focus for a male role model. Happy Father’s Day to him.

For the record, I dumbed down grass-roots movement to mean, simply, “Ordinary or common people, as opposed to leadership of the elite, the govonment parties, and social organizations.” The Basic level challenging the snooty-asses and all that is wrong with the world. Stick it to the man, and here’s a cause worth jumping on the bandwagon for.

As for Synergistic Management Solutions… Play Cards Against Humanity, and pick the best sounding definition. It’s a buzz term that not even google can pin down. My husband knows, being an IT and business guru, but apparently, it is complicated to explain. Dur.

I’m grabbing a Klondike bar. That’s my temperature.


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Carpet Creature! And Other Lessons…


There once was a girl,

Who had a little curl,

Right in the middle of her forehead.

And when she was good,

she was very VERY good.

But when she was bad,

She was HORRID!

This is a rhyme that belongs to my Memories Of Childhood folder of the filing cabinet that is my life. It’s the same file that holds the times of me laying on the grass at the city park, staring up at the clouds rushing by. And leaping from shadow to shadow, cast by the big trees onto the road, as I, barefoot, would make my way in the sizzling heat to the Butcher’s place on a summer jaunt. Also, jumping from puddle to puddle joyously, after a rare spring downpour, not realizing how dirty it was. Not caring that it was dirty.

It’s the FOND MEMORY folder.

Now, this particular rhyme came out of one of the fascinating books that lined the wall of the library that was my mom and dad’s Answer Place. The answer to everything that they were baffled about but didn’t want us kids to catch on to. It was their answer to 8 children’s whine’s of, “I’m BOOOORRRRDDDD!! WHAT CAN I DO???? CAN I TURN ON THE TV???? OR GET SOME FOOOOOOODDDDD??”. They would direct us to the books for everything from a How-to on making a submarine out of shipping boxes, to what do people in Mongolia do, exactly? Entertainment to fill up the time before bed came from the books. Killing time when waiting for Sunday to end came from that library.  It was located in the living room, which, I believe, was meant as a quiet area. A receiving room for guests,  and study, and contemplation. It was supposed to be, serene, even. It was, in fact, not.

Let me explain.

The living room looks different now, of course. Updated. Clean lines, yet inviting. But back then, when I was a child, the room had a more… chaotic… vibe, in spite of any intention. It paired a pine green sofa, embossed in velvety random patterns, (perfect for tracing fingers around in times of quiet) with golden yellow comfy chairs, jarring to the eye, but perfect for scrambling over when playing Carpet Creature! and Stay Off The Boiling Hot Lava! with the siblings. (Don’t tell my mom. She was a stickler for feet belonging firmly on the floor,  and behinds ONLY on seats. Bless her…) Add next, an un-friendly brick fireplace, also used for scrambling, but at one’s own peril.

Wall to wall imagination, if you will.


Less lamps. More room. Not ours, but still… You get the picture…

The flourescent light hummed loudly, paling our skin subtly. . Cocooning it all was the striped wallpaper that was so prevalent in the 70’s/early 80’s. Two sets of doors closed off the room, which let us be privately chastised, interrogated in a loving but stern way, or even used as a sanctuary on the rare moments that the parents had together. Dishes and food were NOT to be brought in this room. Harrumph.

I loved it.

The central purpose of this room, however, was the function of the far wall. Shelves covered it, with reluctant allowance made for the picture window, in chocolate brown. One half of the wall was dedicated to paper, crafting, and used wrapping paper, carefully preserved for use in rewrapping gifts. (This was only if the said wrapping paper made the cut. No wrinkles. No rips or tears. We were very careful opening gifts that had shiny beautiful paper. Or ribbons. Those had a purpose, as well.)

I digress…

The desk under the picture window was useful for hiding under and making the beginnings of forts. And then there was…The Bookshelf. Floor to ceiling shelves, cram-packed with books. Books of all sorts. Old books, hardbound, with Classic subjects, meant to round out our childhood and make us grateful for what we had. Stories such as “Little Women” and ALL the books from Laura Engalls Wilder (oh how I loved those!) worked to keep us thankful. Poetry,  serious and deep, mingled with whimsical Dr. Seuss and Disney Old Yeller and Brer Rabbit scripts. History books, and Primers were kept to enhance our perspective. Also, my dad’s thesis from the seventy’s stayed as a testament to his dedication in higher learning. (I didn’t read it. Now I am regretful.) Oh. And we proudly used and displayed, the ENTIRE set of something called The Encyclopedia Brittanica, for anyone under 40. (It was the equivelant to Google.)

Glorious, eh?

Along with these books were a set of wonder books. I think they actually WERE called the Wonder Books, but don’t quote me. They were in a set, color co-ordinated in the colors of the 70’s. Mustard yellow, worn out purple, puke green, Flower Power oranges and browns. Not pleasant to look at, but what was inside… INSIDE THOSE BOOKS… was magical. In fact, I was usually looking for the sibling that was reading the current volume I was interested in.

And, THIS is the point of the memory.

One volume spouted poems from far and wide. It was geared for young minds, without all the high-falutin mumbo-jumbo (Nod to Gil in Anne Of Green Gables). I learned about cultures in other lands, and what was considered romantic (and boring, to a kid), and what rhymes with Orange (Not much, it turns out.) What stuck out for me, though, were the rhymes from Mother Goose. Each page had pictures that went along with the rhymes, and were very engaging. Peter Piper picked his peck of pickled peppers there. Jack jumped over a candlestick, and Old Mother Hubbard looked perplexed, alongside her dog, as she stared at her cubbords. Sad, really.

It sparked my imagination.

It brought the what-if’s and the what’s-the-story-behind-this-picture’s… to life. My next step, then, was to use these poems to illustrate the situations I found myself in throughout life. (Not the Miss Muffet one, though. I have no need for a tuffet, or curds and whey…). It is also why, when I find myself pouting, or whining, or throwing a temper tantrum (um, yes I am an adult, but still…), this particular rhyme comes to mind.

My dad would quote it to me when I was yelling about an injustice done to me, years ago. My mom would quietly lilt it out while washing dishes when I would storm in, demanding she do something about the arguement I was having with…(fill in the blank. Pick a sibling. I argued a lot.). It would stop me in my tracks because, Heaven Forbid!, I be like this wretched girl. Which was exactly what they were going for. “UGGG. Just…Just stop it! I don’t even HAVE a curl there. SHEESH!” But, I’d stop.

What I discovered through the rhymes in that library, was a joy in learning lessons. In finding out how people interact, and the stories that live BEHIND the people, I learned about choices and consequences. I got to witness, through rhymes both true and fictional, how to relate to cultures, and families, and friends, and strangers, through words handed down from parent to child, author to reader, community to posterity.  The fascinating world of customs vs. laws. What you could do, and what you should do.

Oh, how I wish I for those actual books. They bring such a smile to my face when I get a chance to pull  out my file of Fond Memories. But for now,  I pass on the rhyme of the little girl… with a little curl… on to my daughter. She thinks I’m a bit odd anyway, so what’s a little more? My own library has grown. By download or paper, our tradition moves on.

Being horrid is something I can learn from. Now if I could just find a rhyme for Orange….

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Posted by on June 9, 2015 in Life


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Having A Moment…

image I listen to the waves crash just outside our oceanside retreat, and I feel as if I have come home. I have come home to the Oregon Coast, and feel the familiar catch of my breath and flutter in my stomach. My best friend brings me here at least once a year, indulging in my longing to see the mist on the mountains, rushing by at a frenzied pace on its way to who-knows-where, and patiently waits as I keep early hours so I can sneak out the sliding door, plaid keds and medium warmth jacket on, and gallop, pell-mell, to the place of whitecaps and frothy foam while the waves scramble inland, always reaching, reaching as far as the tide allows.

The first sight of the ocean, peeking out through the majestic, emerald trees, brings a grin to my face, as if it is the first time here. I reason that it IS my first time. It is my first time seeing this particular water, and it will be my first time seeing this particular set of waves, and shells, and people. I bring down the window of  the car and take a deep lungful of sea air, letting the breeze wash over my body. It is a joy I look forward to over and over again.

I become impatient as Jen looks for parking. LET’S JUST PARK HERE…NO HERE. HOW BOUT HERE? JUST PARRRRKKK!!!! And then…. A spot. A SPOT!!! She pulls in, and I’m off like a shot. Only after I have looked and walked and picked up shells does she get a respite. I pull her along, no matter the weather. Raining? Grab a jacket. Windy? We will get used to it. Just COME ON, ALREADY!

She let’s me be ridiculous.

Like a mix between a gleeful child and a foreign tourist, just here for the day, I have to see it all. I wave her over, saying, “Look at this. Is this one an agate?” To which she says, “Nope. Just a cool rock. Again.” I say, “Look at that mist! Think it will go away?” To which she sighs slightly, “Probably in the afternoon, remember?”  Last time I was here, I cajoled her into walking with me along the beach just a bit too long for the weather to cooperate, and we ended up in a deluge, the wind and rain whipping our entire bodies, coming at us horizontally. It felt like sand stinging our our faces, our feet, our entire bodies, and I was still grinning as we ran back up the coast to our car.

She lost her grin on the way, somewhere.

This morning I woke up early. I cracked open the sliding door, first  thing, to hear the morning song of waves and breeze. And mist greeted me with a conspiratorial air. LET’S GET YOU SHROUDED, it seemed to say. LET’S GIVE YOU THIS  PLACE ALL TO YOURSELF. I complied. I stepped out onto the grass, down  the stairs, and got lost.

The building disappeared. Down The Beach disappeared. Up This Way disappeared. There was only the stretch of sand that led me to the water. And down I went. The tide was out. Way out. I hiked around driftwood and rippled, dimpled sand, shaped by the night breeze. I followed a rivulet of water, eeking its way to find the main body of water after getting trapped in  a shallow gully.  Yard by yard, the sand turned pristine, as if no foot had ever tread this beach before. This morning, it was true. I was the only one around to enjoy the gift of beauty this morning. It was just for me.

I gazed at  the waves, as I always do, with the idea that if I just noticed long enough, a pattern would emerge. One crash, two crashes, three, four, five… then a lull where the water leaps forward further than before, washing over my feet and ankles before I can get away. I never get the pattern down. I wouldn’t want to. It gives me a reason to reflect and enjoy.

Of course I take pictures. Of course it does nothing to capture the reality. I sigh. And the mist blows away. Just like that. The anonymity is gone and things materialize. Like the village of BRIGADOON, people, dogs, buildings, sandcastles in the making… they just appear like nothing has happened. Except that the sun is out now, and as I meander back to check on Jen, people poke their heads out of their doorways. With their cups of coffee, in twos and threes, they get ready for their day of flying kites and herding kids because the mist is gone. It is their time now.

I let them have it. I walk inside.

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Posted by on June 6, 2015 in Life


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