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The Most Important Question Of Your Life


Such  a great find that I had to share. The form it came in had his name link incorrect, so now you can check out his site. Props, Mark. Props.

-Sharon

 

 by: Mark Manson, on Markmanson.net

Everybody wants what feels good. Everyone wants to live a carefree, happy and easy life, to fall in love and have amazing sex and relationships, to look perfect and make money and be popular and well-respected and admired and a total baller to the point that people part like the Red Sea when you walk into the room.

If I ask you, “What do you want out of life?” and you say something like, “I want to be happy and have a great family and a job I like,” it’s so ubiquitous that it doesn’t even mean anything.

A more interesting question, a question that perhaps you’ve never considered before, is what pain do you want in your life? What are you willing to struggle for? Because that seems to be a greater determinant of how our lives turn out.

Everybody wants to have an amazing job and financial independence—but not everyone wants to suffer through 60-hour work weeks, long commutes, obnoxious paperwork, to navigate arbitrary corporate hierarchies and the blasé confines of an infinite cubicle hell. People want to be rich without the risk, without the sacrifice, without the delayed gratification necessary to accumulate wealth.

People want an amazing physique. But you don’t end up with one unless you legitimately appreciate the pain and physical stress that comes with living inside a gym for hour upon hour, unless you love calculating and calibrating the food you eat, planning your life out in tiny plate-sized portions.

People want to start their own business or become financially independent. But you don’t end up a successful entrepreneur unless you find a way to appreciate the risk, the uncertainty, the repeated failures, and working insane hours on something you have no idea whether will be successful or not.

People want a partner, a spouse. But you don’t end up attracting someone amazing without appreciating the emotional turbulence that comes with weathering rejections, building the sexual tension that never gets released, and staring blankly at a phone that never rings. It’s part of the game of love. You can’t win if you don’t play.

What determines your success isn’t “What do you want to enjoy?” The question is, “What pain do you want to sustain?” The quality of your life is not determined by the quality of your positive experiences but the quality of your negative experiences. And to get good at dealing with negative experiences is to get good at dealing with life.

There’s a lot of crappy advice out there that says, “You’ve just got to want it enough!”

Everybody wants something. And everybody wants something enough. They just aren’t aware of what it is they want, or rather, what they want “enough.”

Because if you want the benefits of something in life, you have to also want the costs. If you want the beach body, you have to want the sweat, the soreness, the early mornings, and the hunger pangs. If you want the yacht, you have to also want the late nights, the risky business moves, and the possibility of pissing off a person or ten thousand.

If you find yourself wanting something month after month, year after year, yet nothing happens and you never come any closer to it, then maybe what you actually want is a fantasy, an idealization, an image and a false promise. Maybe what you want isn’t what you want, you just enjoy wanting. Maybe you don’t actually want it at all.

Sometimes I ask people, “How do you choose to suffer?” These people tilt their heads and look at me like I have twelve noses. But I ask because that tells me far more about you than your desires and fantasies. Because you have to choose something. You can’t have a pain-free life. It can’t all be roses and unicorns. And ultimately that’s the hard question that matters. Pleasure is an easy question. And pretty much all of us have similar answers. The more interesting question is the pain. What is the pain that you want to sustain?

That answer will actually get you somewhere. It’s the question that can change your life. It’s what makes me me and you you. It’s what defines us and separates us and ultimately brings us together.

For most of my adolescence and young adulthood, I fantasized about being a musician — a rock star, in particular. Any badass guitar song I heard, I would always close my eyes and envision myself up on stage playing it to the screams of the crowd, people absolutely losing their minds to my sweet finger-noodling. This fantasy could keep me occupied for hours on end. The fantasizing continued up through college, even after I dropped out of music school and stopped playing seriously. But even then it was never a question of if I’d ever be up playing in front of screaming crowds, but when. I was biding my time before I could invest the proper amount of time and effort into getting out there and making it work. First, I needed to finish school. Then, I needed to make money. Then, I needed to find the time. Then … and then nothing.

Despite fantasizing about this for over half of my life, the reality never came. And it took me a long time and a lot of negative experiences to finally figure out why: I didn’t actually want it.

I was in love with the result—the image of me on stage, people cheering, me rocking out, pouring my heart into what I’m playing—but I wasn’t in love with the process. And because of that, I failed at it. Repeatedly. Hell, I didn’t even try hard enough to fail at it. I hardly tried at all.

The daily drudgery of practicing, the logistics of finding a group and rehearsing, the pain of finding gigs and actually getting people to show up and give a shit. The broken strings, the blown tube amp, hauling 40 pounds of gear to and from rehearsals with no car. It’s a mountain of a dream and a mile-high climb to the top. And what it took me a long time to discover is that I didn’t like to climb much. I just liked to imagine the top.

Our culture would tell me that I’ve somehow failed myself, that I’m a quitter or a loser. Self-help would say that I either wasn’t courageous enough, determined enough or I didn’t believe in myself enough. The entrepreneurial/start-up crowd would tell me that I chickened out on my dream and gave in to my conventional social conditioning. I’d be told to do affirmations or join a mastermind group or manifest or something.

But the truth is far less interesting than that: I thought I wanted something, but it turns out I didn’t. End of story.

I wanted the reward and not the struggle. I wanted the result and not the process. I was in love not with the fight but only the victory. And life doesn’t work that way.

People who enjoy the struggles of a gym are the ones who get in good shape. People who enjoy long workweeks and the politics of the corporate ladder are the ones who move up it. People who enjoy the stresses and uncertainty of the starving artist lifestyle are ultimately the ones who live it and make it.

This is not a call for willpower or “grit.” This is not another admonishment of “no pain, no gain.”

This is the most simple and basic component of life: our struggles determine our successes. So choose your struggles wisely, my friend

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And It Cliqued, Just Like That.


Women.cliques

Here’s the thing about women. They are POWERFUL. They have influence individually, but in groups, they are exceptional. And if anyone has been to middle school, or high school, you may have experienced some of that. Whether in a school dance or at a lunch table, school age groups of females have been a force to be reckoned with. I know this because, well, I am one. And from experience, I know how hard it can be to operate around a group of females. A bad hair day, or the wrong jeans are sometimes all it takes to feel the brunt of a gaggle of ladies. We women can be cliquish. Dramatic. Catty. Gossipy.

Or…

powerful womenWe woman can be inspiring. Empowering. Encouraging.  This is what I experienced tonight. I experienced a MeetUp group called Onederous Women. Onederous Women chose into creating an inclusive space where networking was not a cattle call for business cards. I experienced a space, instead, where strengths were shared.  I got to be part of a space where women met to empower, enjoy, and partake of each other’s lives.

It was an honor.

Imagine this: Nourishment for the belly and the soul all in one room. Practical solutions to everyday problems. A group of problem-solvers devoted to hearing a call and responding. That’s what happened tonight. Right there in the basement of a church, inspiration happened. Bravery happened. Connection happened.

And I was in awe.

I choose to believe it was all for me. It had to be. Because it was that specific to me. No, seriously. Look. I have needs. And wants. We all do, but all I can do is speak for me. So, again,  I am saying that I lack in many areas. And mostly, I get to them eventually. EVENTUALLY, some things get handled, but some just keep getting pushed to the bottom of the pile. But it was a bit uncanny that so many of my needs and wants and lacks were being solved in one room, at one time. The room was filled with innovative solutions by women who utilized their talents, their experiences, their sorrows and joys into a workable resource that filled a need.

My need, tonight.

Check this out. I need a tailor. For my husband. We have been looking and looking, but never really got around to pulling the trigger. So we just let it hang out there, in nebulous space. Also, I need to eat healthier. I say it every day, and so does my daughter and hubby. Again, nebulous need. However, I also need a practical way to travel. It has become more important. Also, I need clothes that rock. But I just hate shopping.

stuffNebulous space gets a bit crowded sometimes.

So many more. I need guidance with my finances on an ongoing basis. So does everyone I know. I crave knowing what I don’t know. I stink at sending out cards and correspondence. I am on a journey of discovering how to heal and move forward. I need help knowing how to market to people who are looking for what I can do for them (Freelance writing, by the way. Shameless Plug.) Blah, Blah, Blah. I lack in many areas, but what I lack the most is a cheering section of people who know how hard it is to be living life as a woman, and know how to help.

I didn’t even know that having a one-stop problem-solving shop was an option.

These ladies brought all their power together and what came from it was an alliance of possibility. Power radiated throughout that room, and I don’t know that they even realized it. Actually, they probably do. And now, so do I. Think about the power of possibility. Now add to it the real-life applications, the experience, the innovation that comes from hard working business-minded women. It adds up to much more than hope.

lightbulb momentIt is what makes success.

If you have one whit of sense, you will seek out this group. For networking, sure. For fun, yes. But for a life-changing experience, definitely. Be part of a power clique.

 

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New place, New moment.


“Ya know something good about being old? Ya just don’t care anymore. You’re lucky, Mom. KBYEEE!”dropping off L. at school in slippers I still remember this sentence coming from my sweet seven-year-old’s mouth, and at the time I was horrified because I knew exactly what he was talking about. He had decided, based on my unkempt presence that day, that I was old enough to not care if I wore shoes or slippers, or even day-time clothes to take him to school. (I had also forgone the bra and makeup that hectic morning, which just made it worse.) He hugged me quickly, jumped out of the car, and thought no more about it.

I went home and ate some chocolate.

That was during my chaotic time as a stay-at-home mom of three boys, one husband, and a household to boot. It was when Elementary School and the ultimate homemade lunch was all consuming for me. Shoulds ruled my life. I SHOULD be a part of PTA. I SHOULD be a better cook/wife/mom/container gardener/scrapbook-er. I SHOULD be put together, somehow. I would SHOULD all over myself regularly, but at least I had my youth. I was twenty-seven at the time, and was pree-ty proud of myself for surviving any given day.

I just felt tired constantly, that’s all.

Now L. had no idea he wasn’t complimenting me. There was real admiration in his words that day. All he knew was that I spent time with him each school day approving some semblance of an outfit for him, but lucky me, I got to wing my wardrobe. And that was something to look forward to. It’s been fifteen years since he bounced off to school after dropping that bomb, and it’s taken me until I reached the ripe old age of forty-two to agree with him.

Now L. was talking about clothing choices, but I am thinking of the SHOULDS.

I never did buy in to the PTA. Or scrap-booking. I just let ’em go, somewhere along the line. Probably in my Thirty’s. I worked on being a better mom/wife/container gardener, and I’d say there is good improvement, but room for more. But I have outgrown the SHOULDS, for the most part. They are exhausting, demanding, and unrealistic, and who has room for those things AND uncomfortable bras?

Just sayin.

I say I am now old enough to start loving the skin I’m in. And shoes? I am old enough to be happy with my choice of shoes, slippers or not, no matter who’s looking, but that could just be because my shoes are of a bit better quality now, and therefore comfy. I dunno. Let’s just call ’em investments. But while I am on the subject of age, let’s get to the good stuff. I am old enough to make myself a priority, and it looks like this:

  1. Aloette skin care product lineSkin Care. I’m not talking about using the same lotion my husband uses for his callused feet. Nope. I mean my own stuff. The good stuff. With words like Moisturizing Beads, Soft and Silky Radiance, and Satin-ee Serum. (I am not doing the Plumpers, Pouty-Faces, or Lashes-For-Miles. Let alone Age-Defying anything. I’m no Betty White, for crying out loud.)
  2. crab-legsCrab legs. Spiders of the sea. Bottom Dwellers. Whatever you wanna call em, I’m a fan, and I am old enough now to splurge a bit for a lunch or three. I frequent Joe’s when I want to sit in the sun by myself, open up my laptop and write in peace and quiet. Scotty the bartender knows me by name, and he knows that when I ask for extra cherries with my Coke, what I ACTUALLY mean is an entire bowl full of cherries. “Because life is like a bowl full of cherries. Maraschino, even.” Scotty says it, and I believe him now.  I tip him well, just for that.
  3. nap with slippersNaps. The greatest part about being old enough for my kids to get themselves up and out the door for school/work is my naps. KA-CHOW, SUCKAHS! While my kids are out using their boundless youth for things like curling luscious teen-age hair for hours on end, or screwing up their 20’s with rash decisions, I am watching them walk out the door with glee, just to book it back upstairs to climb into my very soft, very luxurious bed. With a push of a button, I enjoy a massage at zero gravity while listening to the sounds of ocean waves from Alexa, the electronic robot that husband ordered from Amazon.
  4. bliss-out-yoga-pose-vivian-neoFinding my bliss. I know, I know. My kids and my husband are my bliss. They are, actually. But I have time, now, to enjoy a hobby/job/cause that brings me joy in addition to them, and so I hone my education and skills at being a Financial Coach, renew my annual pass at the Rec Center for Deep Water Aerobics where I am the youngest one in the class, and Write about whatever the heck makes me smile or cry.
  5. lady cryingCrying Whenever I Darn Well Please. Nope, I don’t turn away if my kids come in the door. Or my husband. Or a stranger. I’ve been through some SSS….tuff. I’ve earned the right to be authentic, and nuts to whomever feels uncomfortable about it. I went a lot of years pretending that “It is no big deal”. Whatever the deal was, it was imperative that I didn’t upset the kids. Or anyone else. Well, that phase is done, and they all have big kid panties they can put on. I know, because I gave them as Christmas gifts.

You will notice that cooking classes have not made it onto my list.

So now I am older than 27, and I found 7 gray hairs last week alone. I pulled them out immediately, of course, as I’m not ready to be Betty White, but I realize that I am more fine with them than I was before. I think it is because I simply didn’t know that it could get good. Getting older, I mean. I didn’t really think that becoming a little calmer, wiser, happier, and having a little fatter pocketbook could balance out the start of wrinkles and gray hair, along with a few more lady lumps.

In the youthful years, I did not take into consideration the look that so many parent’s of 20-something’s have on their faces. I didn’t recognize that small, knowing, smile that the oldsters would give me as I passed them in the halls of church, or in a park, or at a store. I thought those faces were smiling at me because they envied my youth and ability to keep it together at 4 pm, in spite of having 3 boys, a stroller, and a dog as my entourage.

Nope. Not even close.

Those 40- and 50-something parents couldn’t care less that I had water bottles for hydration, snacks that were organic, and that I had just managed to have my oldest son hold on to the pet leash AND his terror of a younger brother without having an all-out brawl. In fact, they probably glazed right over the drama and smiled simply because they knew that once I survived that part, I could partake in what they were on their way to do: Go have a conversation that had nothing to do with kids or bills. It was an encouragement smile, tinged with just a bit of relief that they didn’t have to get involved. It was a placeholder smile, just waiting for me and my entourage to move past them so they could high-five each other and say, “We’re out of that phase! Hallelujah!” and then head on over to find something to do that had nothing to do with surviving the day.

Who knew that was an option? I certainly did not, as I let L. out of the car that day so many years ago. It was a hope, but not a certainty, all vague and foggy, and as I learned that I was no longer as young as a youth, it let me start revving up for the good part. The Today’s.

I’m older, sure. But not old. Old, I have decided, is just about 20 years older than I am at any given moment. And when I am Betty White old, maybe I will look to change my passion to acting.

And then they can make a Bobble-head of me, too.betty white bobblehead doll preview

 

 

 

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Move… (Story Idea)


Dear Husband…

My suggestions worked best as letters, I’ve found. We, Greg and I, have taken to checking the mailbox out front every day, just in case the flag is up. It lets us know we were thought of. We have done this little method of honey-do’s, love letters, and just-because’s for a few years now. Complete with those fake stamps that come in the mail when you order a new set of checks. It’s a more complete look. I am well aware that email is an option, but really, who doesn’t love a handwritten letter addressed to them? Plus, it gives the new mail-lady, Merna, a reason to hang out for a moment, wondering why there is a letter from our address, going TO our address.

Which she does. Every time.

I make it a thing to be there at the front window at noon-ish, to watch. The envelopes are random enough that she scrunches up her eyes all crinkle-like and purses her lips for a minute. I can practically see the lightbulb pop over her head, over and over again. I chalk it up to her advancing years. Amusing.

Ahem…

Dear Husband,
I am writing to inform you that I have come to a brilliant conclusion. We should move back home. Home to our roots. We grew up together there, married there, and it has been a long time since we have been back. Enough time has passed that most of our co-conspirators will have grown mature (like us, heh heh), moved out of town, or still be serving time in prison. 🙂 Our original community, our family and neighbors, and the general feel of belonging may just be fun after our jaunts to The Great Outside, gaining our own habits and traditions.
What say you?
-Me

I mailed it, put the flag up, and looked at my list of things to do. House stuff, bills, and errands were at the top, of course. I chose to make another list, however. I flopped down in The Queen’s Chair, my big leather recliner, and enjoyed the quiet as the sun warmed the room through the big window. The King’s Chair had our cat, Move, in it. She was there in defiance of my husband’s proclamation: MOVE, CAT! YOU ARE NOT ALLOWED IN MY CHAIR. She looked at me sleepily, and promptly closed her eyes. She makes LAZY a career. I turned to my phone. It had one of those notebook apps on it, and I used it way too much. It was a jumble of random thoughts, lists, and phone numbers.

I added to it.

I added all the things needed for the move to our hometown. I ignored immediately the reality of the list. Or the facts about things like… details. Nope, I just bounced around to the beginning of the end of our time here, in this house.

-Take a trip to hometown to look for just the right house. Preferably the beautiful one on Main Street with that wraparound porch. I want to watch the parades with ease.

As a former marching band member and parade participant, I wondered what it would look like from the sidelines. I remembered the practices throughout the summer, marching down various streets, lanes, roads, and avenues, carrying an enormous instrument and knowing I was part of the center of attention for those moments. The attention had made me a bit nervous and self-conscious, practicing on songs that I may or may not have flubbed, until I would notice various kids, out playing in their yards before the heat hit, waving and waving and waving for us to… what? Nod our head? Come over and see their stick art in the sand pile? Wave back? They would watch us play, perform our various maneuvers, and as we would march away, would go right on back to their stick play.

What is it that makes people wave at their live entertainment, anyway?

I remember me waving fanatically at a huge cartoon mouse at Disney World, a couple years ago. Couldn’t help it. Just a knee jerk reaction. I didn’t even have a little kid with me to use as camouflage. Other adults would be holding a little one, pulling up their kid’s chubby arm and make it flap in the air. This was the strategy to gain favor with the kid, while using their own grown-up enthusiasm to convince the child that seeing a giant mouse coming toward them for the first time was natural, normal, and pleasant. Worked like a charm. Kids all over the place would giggle and grin, heedless of the drool running down their chin. Older children would jump up and down, one hand on the pantleg of their adult and the other waving desperately to be seen. That grown-up would usually take pity on them and swish them up and over and onto their shoulders for a better view.

There was no one pulling up MY limb, urging me to gain favor with the mouse. That energy just burbled up, and before I knew it, I was just as happy as the 4 year old standing next to me picking his nose with the handle of a lollipop. I waved, the mouse waved back, probably to the 4 year old, and I felt special. End of story.

I would nod my head at those kids as I marched on, by the way. I’d nod my entire brass instrument to do it, and it made me feel gracious, doling out my special acknowledgement as I marched down the street. Hello to you, young one. And to you, flag-waver. Nod for you and your cabbage-patch kid, as well…. It would make up for the enormous, wet ring I would gain from that mouthpiece being attached to my lips for 2 hours. It would make up for the blisters from the ridiculous plasticky shoes I was forced to wear. They matched the Colonel Sanders get-up that someone, years ago, decided was a good idea for a uniform. Bright red WOOL suit? In July? What kind of monster were you, former Band President??

I believe the waving also made up for my face getting splotchy from the dehydration. Sickly white patches would contrast with hold-your-breath-for-as-long-as-you-can red spots around my face and neck when I would exert myself. Ask anyone that played tennis with me. I have heard, “OH YOUR POOR FACE…” way too many times for my own good. It was always accompanied by, “Can I get you something? A doctor?…” and it would bring on my canned answer, “I’m FINE, really. I’m alright. I get this way when I’m having fun. HaHaHa…” Not attractive, a’tall.

The looks I would get from marching were worth it, because as I became accustomed to the routines, the notes, and the stares, I’d enjoy the day. The flags. The floats and Mustangs filled with this county’s royalty or that little league championship team. The fire engines spraying water and throwing taffy simultaneously, daring the kids to come close enough to grab the treasure.

There were the elderly ladies holding court under the big elm trees, their grandkids and husbands opening coolers full of soda for them. They would wave benevolently at the parade participants, many of whom they had taught in church. Their wispy, fine hair, shaped in a perfect ball, would crown them in subtle hues of blues, grays, and silvers.

I would pass the extended family sections, cordoned off by folding camp chairs and die-hards, camping out for the prior 24 hours to get the coveted spot under the broom trees. Dozens of grown-ups and gaggles of kids, all with faces painted red, white, and blue to match the shirts, socks, and hair bows their moms had so joyously created from scratch. All would wave and clap as we went by, hoping we would stop and perform a simple routine for them. Just for them, it would seem.

And then there was the house I loved. Victorian, large, and grown seamlessly from the informal, yet tidy yard, a happy crew of twenty or so would be barbecuing and playing water balloon games on the big lawn. Yelling and laughing would follow my ears as we marched to the cadence of the drums. That house meant love. It meant Rest-From-The-Cares-Of-The-world. It meant a sigh of relief at the end of a full day.

I realized two things then, as I reminisced. 1. Move had moved from the King’s Chair to my lap, and 2. I had started snoring.

 
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Posted by on August 23, 2015 in Life

 

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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?

pffff…

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…


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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.

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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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