Tuesday, December 29, 2009

They're Gone.....


I woke up this morning all on my own....no thundering of little feet down the wood-floored hallway toward my room accompanied by a voice calling "Grammy, are you awake"?

It's been a wonderful Christmas....different than years past, because I have changed...and that is SUCH a good thing! I'm not saying that I didn't struggle...because I did...and shed tears in mourning what had been in the past.....BUT, in letting go of what had been, I was able to embrace what will be....and my heart is full.

Christmas Eve was difficult.....I wanted to have everyone here with ME....so I cried, and then hightailed it to church for a fabulous candlelight service......to a church new to me, but I had been invited by a fellow (20 year-old) classmate who has the voice of an angel.....and I thought of the angels singing when our Lord was born.....and I sang Him the Happy Birthday song that my Dad and I had sung together on Christmas Eve for so many years....I was so blessed!

Christmas morning began with tears again.....no one was here to share it with me....and I struggled with the waiting until my family arrived.....and it was good.  AND, I decided to go to David's family for dinner that evening....I made Martha Stewart's macaroni & cheese.....they all loved it, and I totally enjoyed myself!  There's something to be said about being a guest rather than a hostess!  I could get used to this...

Boxing Day was fabulous....I had my nearest and dearest here for dinner...and I kept it simple.....good food, good friends, lots of laughs!  I got to have my granddaughters for the next evening and day...along with the 14-week old puppy!  We all piled into my bed for a reading party...puppy included....chaos reigned supreme, but a good time was had by all....

Everyone left yesterday afternoon.....it was a bittersweet moment for me....times have changed....I have changed.....and the time together was ENOUGH....I am older and slower, but also older and wiser.... I am in the process of cleaning up from the debris and detrius left from my family's visit.....AND, I woke up this morning to find two raisins left over from our reading party stuck on the side of my face!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

My Cup is Filled to Overflowing....

I feel as if I've already had my Christmas....the day itself will just be the icing on the cake! I got my grades....all A's and one B (in a silly science lab class that was a waste of time - and my attitude towards the class is definitely reflected in my grade).....yes, I got an A in the dreaded math class!  I am now a firm believer in the saying "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear".  I was ready to face my dreaded math demon, and had one of the best professors that I have experienced in my college career....I GOT IT!  Took a lot of hard work, but I GOT IT!  And, she WANTS ME TO BE A MATH TUTOR!  Who'd have thought it?  And yes, I will do it......if I can help just one person "get it", tutoring will be worthwhile!

My daughter, son in law and granddaughters (and new puppy, Judah) arrived last night.  I was ready for them!  We had homemade spaghetti for dinner - the sauce had been simmering on the stove all day, and was delicious.  Emma decided that she wanted to sleep "in Grammy's bed", so I had a little warm body next to me all night.  I had both girls to myself in the morning, as we let Mommy and Daddy sleep in for a bit.  Liz and Dave had gift shopping to do, so they took Ashlyn with them.  Emma and I stayed home and baked cookies.  We put on our aprons and mixed and splashed our hearts out!  While the cookies were baking, we took turns putting on song and dance shows for each other, interspersed with playtime in the back yard with the puppy and tricycle riding. We finished up the cookies after nap time - Emma was asleep before her head hit the pillow!

I am on my own tonight....the kids are all out to dinner with Dave's family.  I'm sitting in my jammies and sipping a nice glass of wine while listening to Andrea Bocelli's Christmas album.  The last batch of cookies is baking in the oven.  This year, I've stuck to my goal of keeping it simple, and it's working.  I am not frantic or stressed out - quite the opposite!  The kids will be here until tomorrow sometime, when they will leave to go to Elizabeth's dad and stepmother's for Christmas Eve.  They'll spend the night with Dave's family.  Before they leave, the girls will open their traditional Christmas jammies packages from me....this year, matching sets of red bottoms, white tops with a red snowflake, and red tutus.  Emma will be beside herself.  Me, I'll be home listening to Christmas music in my jammies and eating Chinese food (a family Christmas Eve tradition).  I'll go to church for a candlelight service, remembering my Dad. No matter what the song was, at some time during the service, he would break out with "Happy Birthday", and the two of us would sing our hearts out to Baby Jesus. (My Mom would just roll her eyes....)   I'll probably sing Happy Birthday this year, for the first time since I lost Dad.

The kids will come back Christmas morning for breakfast and gifts........they'll leave again to go to Dave's family for Christmas dinner.  I'm invited, but am not sure what I am going to do.  I kind of like the idea of sitting in my jammies with Christmas music and a glass of wine......I'll decide when the time comes!  I'm hosting a "Boxing Day" dinner on the 26th....with my nearest and dearest friends......

I'm just loving this new freedom....no self-imposed "shoulds".....I'm taking each moment as it comes and enjoying it to the max!  Simple is the way to go.....and we have the perfect example of that when we think of that baby that was born in a plain, unadorned manger......food for thought!    

Merry Christmas to all, and may your day be all that you hope it to be!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

I'm Feelin' It......Finally!


My finals are finally finished.....now I just have to wait for the grades.  I'd love to settle down for a long winter's nap, but Christmas is almost here and it's time to get cracking!  My poor house has suffered throughout the semester ....it definitely needs lots of TLC.  Presents have been purchased, but are waiting to be wrapped.  Decorations are still in their boxes, waiting to be displayed.  Cookie ingredients are waiting to be mixed and baked.  Spending time with dear friends at parties and dinners is on the agenda. There is enough time to get it all done!  No stressing this year - I'm keeping it simple, and gonna love every minute of the season!

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Letter to My Younger Self




Dear Me -


There is so much that I want to tell you about this wonderful journey that you are undertaking.  You will have many obstacles to overcome and choices to make.  And even though at times it will feel as if you are stuck in a cycle of hopelessness and despair, it will all come out right in the end.  Those challenges will become the brick and mortar that form the foundation for the woman you are to become.


You are courageous, although you don't know it yet.  You have an inner drive that seeks answers and compels you to act upon your curiosity.  You will  learn to let go of your fears in order to live your life authentically - it will be a long process, and you will learn so many valuable lessons along the way!


Please remember these important words:
    • You are both loving AND lovable
    • Hook up with God or a Higher Power sooner rather than later
    • Other people's opinions about you are not fact
    • Feelings are not facts, but acknowledge and learn from those feelings
    • Follow your passion
    • Find out who YOU are, and stay true to yourself
    • Take risks - don't opt for safety over opportunity
    • Laugh often and find the humor that lives within most situations
    • Nothing lasts forever, whether it be good or bad
    • Life is short; find something that brings you joy in each day that you are given
    • Don't allow fear to dictate your choices
    • You will never "arrive" - life is a journey and ever-changing
    • Play more - even when you are an adult!
      Love,
      Me


      Chocolate Covered Daydreams is a fellow blogger with a wonderful sense of humor and a down to earth attitude toward life in general.  Not only does she make me laugh, she also makes me think.  She's having a giveaway for a Wii Fit Plus that ends on December 14th Rules:  Answer the following question--- If you could write a letter to your younger self, giving advice for the future, what would you say?
      I entered with the above post, and you can too!  Just click HERE for the giveaway rules!



      Tuesday, December 8, 2009

      Chicken Dance




      The assignment for my Children's PE class: Present a 2nd grade level PE lesson to my classmates; it had to include teaching them a dance.

      The challenge:  At this point in the semester, everyone is burned out and stressed out with finals looming in the near future (they begin tomorrow for me).

      The solution:  The Chicken Dance!  

      Although everyone was skeptical at first, they HAD to participate in the activity.  And participate they did.....I've never seen such strutting, feather-fluffing, wing-flapping, and tail-wiggling as I did last night!  My professor was laughing until the tears came.....it was a BLAST!  And a welcome respite from all the pressures that semester-end brings!

      I'm almost there.....my last final is next Monday.....and THEN I can start thinking about the holidays!

      Wednesday, December 2, 2009

      Passing the Torch....






      I've been doing a lot of thinking lately, mostly in response to my reactions to changes that have come about in my life.   Take Thanksgiving - a perfect example.  I have cooked Thanksgiving dinner for more years than I want to count.  When my daughter married, she and her husband chose to spend this holiday with his family. The dinner is hosted by his grandparents, who are approaching their late 80's.  Switching off years in order to have the "day" at my house is not an option.  Since their marriage, I have chosen to have Thanksgiving on Friday instead.  I no longer have this option as my newest granddaughter, Ashlyn, was born two days after Thanksgiving last year.  

      I was not "feeling it" this year, for sure!  Although I was invited to David's grandparents to share in their dinner, logistics and school commitments required that I make a choice between traveling 3 hours in each direction for either Thanksgiving or Ashlyn's first birthday party.  I chose the birthday party, all the while inwardly sulking that I wasn't going to get "my share".  On Thanksgiving, Jeffrey (my nephew who lives with me), his girlfriend and I all went OUT to dinner.  A first for me!  And I traveled down to San Diego on Friday to help with the birthday party preparations and celebration on Saturday.  A good time was had by all, and I feel that I chose the right way.

      I've still been feeling "out of sorts" about this whole holiday thing, all based on the honest truth that I still want to be the center of the family.  When Christmas rolls around, I don't want to still be feeling this way.  Elizabeth has three sets of families to please for this holiday - her husband's, her father's, and me.  Last year, we had Christmas dinner the day after.  I could see how stressed she and David were about having to try to live up to other people's expectations and demands on their time.  It was easy for me to make that change in the schedule, because my love for her transcends all.  When looked at in this way, it's all quite simple!

      Obviously, it's been a time for me to perform a "reality check".  Things HAVE changed.  I am no longer the center, nor should I be.  My expectations in this area have lead me to a time of sulking and feeling a little sorry for myself.  This is NOT a good place to be.  My attitude has lead to my missing out on the joys of the season.  Time for an adjusted perspective, and focus on the abundance of things in my life that I am grateful for.  Once again, I must learn to let go.

      So, when next Thanksgiving rolls around, I will gladly join the dinner table, wherever it may be located.  According to Elizabeth, she and David will be hosting at their house next year.  I'm officially passing the torch on to her!

      Wednesday, November 25, 2009

      Friday, November 20, 2009

      Fish are not for Petting....






      The following are examples of why I am so pooped when I come back home after visiting my almost-1 and almost-3 year old granddaughters, courtesy of my darling daughter:



      Things I've said already this morning:



      "Your sister is not a horse!"

      "Get out of the dryer!"

      "I beg you not to spit in my coffee..." 

      "So, it's probably not a good idea to ride your bike down the stairs, huh?" 

      "Fish are not for petting."


      I'm still laughing!!!


      Monday, November 16, 2009

      Momma


      I have come to that time in my life that contains losses.  Many of my friends have lost, or are in the process of losing their parents. I lost my mother a little over a year ago.  It was a long good-bye that began for her with the onset of dementia and poor health.  Our relationship had been tumultuous; my mom was a sober alcoholic for over 30 years, but she continued to have many emotional issues.  I was her caretaker - a job that began in my childhood and ended with her death. By the time that I had reached the conclusion that being her caretaker was not healthy for me, it was too late to make those changes in our relationship; in fact, it would have been an act of cruelty to stop taking care of her.  So, I persevered, and learned to overcome my resentment, replacing it with  forgiveness and, to the best of my ability, unconditional love.  As a fellow blogger shared in her post about the loss of her mother, I too became grateful for the gift of the ability to see the woman behind the label of "mother".

      I had a wonderful dream about her last night.  We were together, sitting, talking and sharing.  She was healthy, both in mind and spirit.  She held me, loved me, and told me how proud she was of me and of the person that I was becoming. She was a vibrant, joyous person - the person who was always inside her and rarely had the opportunity to show during her lifetime.

      Once again, I was filled with gratitude for the gift of having no regrets about our relationship, of having had the opportunity to tell her of my love for her, and to show my love by caring for her.   To the end, she did know who I was, and used me as her lifeline.  What a privilege this turned out to be.  Toward the end of her life, I had to write a poem for one of my classes:


      Momma, you are getting ready to leave
      I can see it in your eyes
      Vague, wandering, punctuated
      and bracketed
      by moments of clarity.

      Momma, you are getting ready to leave
      I can see it in your hands
      Thin, worn, punctuated
      and bracketed
      by the highways of your veins.

      Momma, I know you are ready to leave
      I can see it in your face
      Lined, wrinkled, punctuated
      and bracketed
      by the love that still shines through.

      Momma, I know you are ready to leave
      I can feel it in my soul
      Fearful, mourning, punctuated
      and bracketed
      by tears as yet unshed.

      Momma, it’s all right that you leave
      I know that you must go.
      Weary, yet peaceful, punctuated
      and bracketed
      by the knowledge that your twilight has begun.

      Momma, I’ll miss you when you leave
      But no word remains unsaid
      Love and friendship, punctuated
      and bracketed
      by memories of laughter and tenderness.


      Not a great poem, by any means - but it describes my path during that time.  No regrets - that's what I tell my friends who are facing this inevitable part of life.....we need to face it head-on, feel the feelings, and do the things that need to be done and said in order to not live the rest of our lives wishing that we had done things differently.  I am so blessed that I was able to follow through and to do this.

      I just loved my dream - It brought me much comfort and peace!

      Friday, November 13, 2009

      Beach Music



           For as long as I can remember, the sea has spoken to a place deep within my heart.  Some of my earliest memories take place at my grandparent’s beach home in New Jersey, where my grandfather introduced me to the ocean.  Supported and protected by his strong, weathered hands, I walked fearlessly into the water and fell in love with it.  Throughout my life, I have continued my relationship with the sea by swimming, sailing, canoeing and snorkeling in many locales.  I consider the sea a beloved mentor, and turn to it not only for solace and inspiration during the difficult times of my life, but  to celebrate the joyful times as well.
       
           I arrive at the beach in Carpinteria, and easily find a spot to park.  I get out of my car and unload my beach bag and chair from the trunk.  While removing my shoes, I look out at the sky and the ocean.  Grey, cloudy skies are reflected in the steel-grey color of the water.  There is little wind, but I grab an extra sweatshirt just in case I need it.  I head off toward the water while my feet revel in the feel of sand between my toes.  At first, my feet sink and seem to melt into the deep sand, but as I move toward the shoreline, it becomes more hard-packed and supports me.  The sand is cold but has a hint of warmth, signaling that the sun may well appear while I am here.  Walking along the waterline, I trudge to my favorite spot up the beach. Along the way, I notice the tracks of sandpipers, gulls and pelicans that criss-cross my path, and watch them scatter in advance of my arrival. The slight sandpipers are scurrying frantically away, the raucous gulls are taking flight, and the ungainly pelicans are placidly plodding along, following the sandpipers’ path.   I plant my chair in the sand and sit, turning my back on the civilized world that holds all of my cares and worries, and face the sea.

           Wriggling my toes, I dig my feet into the sand and bury them up to my ankles.  I sense the small grains of sand trickling along the skin of my feet and settling in between my toes.  I now feel rooted and connected with my surroundings.  My attention is drawn to the scene unfolding in front of me. The birds have returned.  The sandpipers are scuttling along the waterline looking for food.  Their thin, frail-looking legs serve them well as they dart in and out of the surf.  The gulls are having an argument about a piece of seaweed.  They tire of their disagreement and take to the air.  I lift my eyes from the scene at the surf line, and look out at the water.  A row of pelicans is flying low along the ocean’s surface, hunting for food.  Suddenly, they begin to dive, and surface with their pouches full.  As I watch the birds, I realize that I am filled with wonder at how they are each perfectly made and suited to survive in their environment; the sandpipers have the ability to be swift, the sea gulls possess an inborn competitive nature, and pelicans come equipped with built-in fishing nets.

           I sit back and try to relax.  My senses are filled with the damp perfume of the ocean air, the feel of sand on my feet, and the sounds and view of the lazily rolling waves.  I feel the slight breeze ruffling my hair, as if to welcome me.  The soft crashing of the waves, accompanied by the hissing of the foam as it dissipates along the shore is soothing music to my ears.  I feel my muscles begin to unwind along with my mind.  The sea is working its magic on me once again.  For moments at a time, I am able to let go of my conscious thoughts and simply drink in the experience of being, feeling, and listening.  These fleeting moments contain an elemental, profound connection between me and all of my surroundings.  I treasure these instants as I continue to breathe and to watch the waves.  My thoughts wander to the countless times I have come to the sea.  Whether I come seeking refuge, solace, introspection or celebration, it is always here, waiting for me. It is dependable and each time welcomes me.  Sunlight suddenly breaks through the clouds, confirming my feeling of being warmly received.  I feel a hint of the sun’s heat that is being borne along on the breeze.  The color of the sand turns from a lifeless gray tone to an inviting gentle yellow.  The water loses its steely hue and turns a rich, dark blue.

           I reflect upon these changes and realize that life itself is not static – it is ever changing as well.   While I am thrown off- balance by an alteration to the comfortable rhythm of my life, I now comprehend that change is not only necessary, but that it is also inevitable.  Without change, my life becomes complacent and stale; my mind dulls and is not open to seeing the beauty and the possibilities that life contains.   I realize that I am learning not only how to be open to, but also how to embrace the changes that come into my life. 

           I contemplate the sea again and admire the way the sun brings out different tints of blue with hints of green in the curls of the waves just before they break upon the shore. I sit and watch, and find myself caught up in the unending rhythm of the waves.  I feel my heart beating in counterpoint to the song of the sea.   Each component of nature has a song and contributes its own unique cadence and pulse to the composition of life.  I understand that I, too, am part of that symphony. 


           It is time to leave the ocean behind and head back to the civilized world.  As always, I am restored by my time with myself and the sea.  I gather up my belongings and begin the walk back to my car.  Almost there, I stop and turn once again toward the water, filling my eyes and heart with its beauty and remembering its lessons.   It has been good to learn that I have my own song to sing to the world.

             

      Thursday, November 12, 2009

      Jonnie's Day



      My best friend, Jan, lost her grandson to leukemia 6 years ago.  Had he been able to beat his disease, he would now be 17......how time flies by! Jonnie was the grandson of my heart, as Jan is the sister of my heart.  We don't forget him - many of our conversations are filled with anecdotes and "remember whens" about the bigger-than-life boy who captured our hearts, and still lives within them.

      Not only was Jonnie bigger than life, he was bursting with it!  The sparkle in his eyes, his smile, his insatiable curiosity and depth of his love for others transcended his young age.

      Jan and I commemorate his birthday each year by traveling to a little beach town up the coast from where we live.  We stop in the flower shop and buy red balloons (they were his favorite), then park and take a walk on the beach.  When we're ready, we let the balloons go and send them on their way, each filled with our love, memories, and celebration of Jonnie's life.



      We then go into town and have some of the world's best pizza at a little restaurant....afterwards, we head to the outlet center that is on our way home, and begin our holiday shopping for our grandchildren who are still with us.  Tomorrow is our "Jonnie's Day". I'm sure that Jonnie is watching us from afar, and that he approves!

      If you are interested, the following is his website: www.jonniescharity.com.  It was created by his other grandmother and tells the story of his journey with this terrible disease, how hard he fought it, and how he "made lemonade from lemons" by starting his own charity to help other kids with cancer - he was truly an incredible, inspiring young man.



      And, please consider becoming a blood donor - you could truly save someone's life!

      Monday, November 9, 2009

      A New Endeavor!

      Fact:  Life is expensive, even for a starving student
      Fact:  My financial resources are running short, due to my extended time in school, necessitated by caring for          Mom at the end of her life
      Fact:  I am not willing to let go of my dream to become a teacher.
      Fact:  I have at least one more year of school to go in order to get my teaching credential
      Fact:  I need to make some money!

      Solution:  Use my business experience and expertise to start my own business.

      I've been working on this for the past few weeks, researching and preparing, printing business cards and brochures, dotting all of the "i's" and crossing all of the "t's".  Now the hard part comes:  Marketing myself and my business.  I did this once before, with some success.  But school and Mom's needs precluded my building on what I had going, and it fizzled.  I had enjoyed many referrals, and it was easy.  This time, I have to start cold and go in like gangbusters.  I am ready - I am motivated (poverty can do that to a person)! - and I am scared.  I wimped out today (my class didn't start until 4:00 p.m., and I had plenty of time in the morning to get myself into gear) - but I didn't.  Next window of opportunity is Wednesday - it's a school holiday - so no excuses!  I'm gonna get myself dressed up, made-up, and out the door first thing in the morning!  Please think good thoughts and send them my way!

      Who Knew?



      I spent the weekend in San Diego (again!).  Liz and Dave have moved into their new home, but there is still much to do in order to make it liveable.  They are both SO tired, but still moving forward!  They've come such a long way from living on their boat when the were first married! I just love how they interact with each other....there is give and take on both sides, and they really LISTEN to each other, hearing the music behind each other's words.  Add an almost 1-year old and an almost 3-year old into the mix, and it could be chaos, but it is not.

      My main contribution this weekend was wrangling the girls.....so much fun!  I got to spend time with each of them individually, as well as together!  Ashlyn, at almost 1, is a total charmer.  She knows that all she has to do is to smile at her Grammy, and the world is at her feet!  Emma and I had our usual fabulous time together....we washed dishes (and flooded the kitchen floor, much to our surprise and delight), put baby dolls to bed and woke them up, had tea parties and reading parties complete with popcorn in Grammy's bed, and danced, marched and sang.  The front porch of their new house is enormous, and lends itself well to being a stage for our performances.  Who knew that snorkels, when hummed into, sound almost like kazoos?  Ashlyn even figured out how to do the snorkel singing......and I'm sure the neighbors enjoyed our concerts and dances!

      I'm home and gearing up for my week - school, bathroom projects and the normal everyday chores - but my heart is full and my cup is filled....it is such a gift to be able to experience this wonderful world through my granddaughters' eyes!

      Wednesday, November 4, 2009

      Another Fine Mess......


      I'm beginning to think that redoing my bathroom is a little like having children - the idea is great, but when reality sets in, the going can get really tough sometimes! I vividly remember the first day that I was alone with my newborn daughter - my mom had gone home, and my husband was at work. I looked down at her and thought "Holy Moley - what have I gotten myself into?"  But obviously, there was no turning back, just like there is no turning back with my bathroom.

      I finished ripping out the old and installing new tiles in my shower a couple of months ago.  Then came the ripping up of the old tile floor and the ratty baseboards....a big job! The old medicine cabinet has been ripped out and replaced with a great mirror.  The vanity and other cabinet have been stripped, painted and given new hardware and hinges.  I finally found floor tiles last weekend (they're not the ones I REALLY want, but I do have champagne taste on a beer budget)....and then it occurred to me that I should paint the walls BEFORE I install the tiles, so that no paint accidents ruin them (yes, I'm prone to "Oops Moments" - alot!).

      Before I can paint, I have to take off the "lovely" wallpaper border that wraps around all the walls.  After Googling about how to remove it, I tackled the project.  Not as easy as they made it sound - by any stretch of the imagination! I practically asphyxiated myself by trying their suggested method of vinegar and water to soak the paper off.  I surrendered, and made a quick trip to the hardware store that resulted in the purchase of some wallpaper remover gel.  This wallpaper REALLY wants to stay where it is - I think the previous owners super glued it up there - Arrgh!

      Just like my daughter turned out to be an incredible young woman in spite of my "oops moments", I'm sure that, in the end, my bathroom project will be completed. I had set a goal to have my bathroom project completed by Christmas, as I do need to study for my classes and have lots of other stuff going on....at this point, Christmas of 2010 looks like a distinct possibility!

      Monday, November 2, 2009

      Keep Your Eye on the Ball.....




      I'm a procrastinator by nature....I think I love both  the adrenalin rush that I get by waiting until the last minute to get something done, and the sense of relief that comes after I've successfully completed the task.  This is especially true when the task involves something that I really don't want to do.  I avoid things that I don't want to do until I'm backed into a corner with nowhere to turn - case in point, my last few classes in college.  Two math classes - my nemesis - One this semester, and one next semester.  A science capstone lab (the fact that my major features a concentration in science was an accident!)....and, Children's PE.  I had heard horror stories about this PE class, and in typical fashion, put it off until I had no other choice but to take it.  I'm working on the procrastination thing.

      I spend 1 1/2 hours of each class in the gym, and the other 1 1/2 hours in lecture.  The gym part comes first, so I get to collapse at my desk afterward to recuperate.  My professor is puzzled by me; I know that she wants to ask me WHY I'm putting myself through this at 58 years old.  I can see that question in her eyes during every gym period as she watches me struggle through the torture lesson.  Oh, the things I could tell her if she would only ask!  

      I've learned so much more than just the "Three R's" during these past four years in college - I've learned that:

      • I can do just about anything that I put my mind to 
      • I am intelligent
      • I am courageous
      • I am strong
      • I have substance at my core
      • I am not afraid to try new things - even if I can't do them perfectly
      • When I get around to doing the things that I've put off, the actual experience of doing them is not as bad as what I've been thinking it would be.  If I do them on a timely basis, it would lessen the drama that lives inside my head!  
      • It's OK to not be perfect - the biggest lesson that I'm learning this semester- my grades are not a reflection of who I am.  This is a huge one for me. Until now, I've gotten only A's and one B....but just like in my career, I invested hugely in being an "A" student, just as I invested hugely in being an "A" professional.  
      • Having balance in my life is more important than getting "A"'s - and more fun, too!
      So, as my professor watches me struggle on the gym floor doing the crab walk through hula hoops or crazily trying to not fall off of the balance beam, I hope she sees that, even though I am struggling, I am enjoying the process - and learning that although my 58-year old body may have some limitations, my mind and my attitude do not.  I'm actually having fun with it all!

      Saturday, October 31, 2009

      Happiness Is...

      Clean linens on my bed
      Finding the right tiles for my bathroom floor
      Being OK with getting a "B" on my science lab midterm
      Planting fall flowers in my hanging baskets
      Skyping with those I love
      After falling off the wagon with giving up smoking, back to not smoking again - Day #7
      Not being crazed because of not smoking
      A good cup of coffee
      Planting purple, yellow and red potatoes for Emma
      Wearing my "traveling gnome" pjs with my sock monkey slippers
      Having a "good hair" day
      Having a massage
      Watching the little trick-or-treater's eyes light up when they get their candy! (I actually had one little one try to give me some of their candy....awww!)

      Friday, October 23, 2009

      Never Give Up!

      Three little words.....that have such a powerful meaning.  I am reminded of this over and over.....One day, Emma was put down for her nap - she wasn't having anything to do with it.....after several returns to her bed, all was quiet.  Elizabeth went in to check on her and found Emma lying in her bed, eyes wide open, softly chanting "Never give up.....never give up.....never give up!


      Jan is my very best friend in the whole world.  We first became friends when our daughters met in the sandbox in preschool.  We've been through lots together - good times and not-so-good times.  Our daughters grew up together.  Jan and I (along with her husband Paul) were Girl Scout leaders together. The picture above is from the 80's (Jan's sitting on my lap)- we'd just arrived home after surviving a weekend camping trip with our Scout troop - gotta love the glasses...and the hair? ! We've always been there for each other through it all, and have had so many crazy adventures that it would take a book to chronicle them all!  We've stood together through the loss of her grandson to leukemia, the loss of my parents, the births of our grandchildren, trips to Target and trips to Europe. We're each other's biggest cheerleaders.     Jan has Parkinsons disease.  She doesn't allow her disease to define who she is.  She refuses to let it beat her.  When she started falling, she strapped on kneepads and wears them everywhere.....skirts, dresses, pants - it doesn't matter; she's not going to stop living because she falls down alot.  She can't tie her shoes, so she wears slip-ons.  Jan has figured out how to keep on keeping on!  She;s just now becoming willing to "think about" using my Mom's old walker, which is sitting in the corner of her living room (complete with an old-fashioned bike horn, I might add!). I'm her "doctor visit buddy" - we go to all appointments together because two heads are better than one.  We've been blessed to finally find a neurologist who doesn't just give her a prescription and shove her out the door.  Because of this fabulous doctor, Jan has speech, physical and occupational therapy.  She also goes to Curves. We figure out how she can continue to do things - like travel - there's nothing like a wheelchair in the airport (and lots of times, you get to go to the HEAD of the line)!  We like the perks of disability when they include a handicapped parking card - I could go on and on!

      These are just two examples of the women who surround my life, young and old, whose mantra is "Never give up."  I don't stand a chance - I either have to jump on board with them, or get out of their way!

      Wednesday, October 21, 2009

      I Love You So Much.....


      ........that I could just eat you with a spoon! This is what my grandmother used to tell me when I got to spend time with her.....to be honest, it gave me the shivers - imagining my Nannie eating me up, a spoonful at a time.

      Now I understand what she meant!

      Saturday, October 17, 2009

      I'm Baaaaack!



      Yep, I found the perfect antidote to chasing those blues demons away....after a rough week, my birthday celebration was just awesome. It was "just one of those days", but perfect in its own way!

      Emma and I headed off in the morning for Disneyland. I think she used up all of her energy during the 1 1/2 hour drive....we talked, sang songs, and made silly noises at each other. And, made a potty stop at a gas station - the highlight of our journey, as far as she was concerned!

      We navigated the parking situation and "Grammy" figured out how to collapse the folding stroller (they are sure different these days - almost had to call Elizabeth for some coaching) for the tram ride, and endured the entrance line. By the time we entered the Magic Kingdom, Emma was ready for a nap....not that she thought so! Potty break time again.....We headed over to Small World and sang the song as we floated through the ride....Afterwards, I figured I'd feed her and then push her through the park until she fell asleep....no such luck! We spent a good 45 minutes eating and watching the people......then walked awhile, but no luck with the nap! Potty break time.....So, as Emma is "princess mad", we went to the Disney Princess area and found that the wait time was 1 1/2 hours.....not even the offer of a ride on Dumbo or a re-ride on Small World could dissuade Emma from her quest......after an hour in line, all signs were pointing toward a melt down!

      It was time to head home.....one more potty break (she LOVES to wash her hands!), purchased the promised (big) lollypop, and headed back to the tram and our car. As we arrived at the car, Emma announced that she wanted her Mom to pick her up - she didn't want to ride home with me. Melt down had commenced. By the time we left the parking lot, Emma was asleep in her car seat, tears drying on her cheeks, and I had managed to extricate the lollypop that was stuck in my hair!

      Elizabeth greeted us when we arrived home, a little frazzled herself. The purchase of their first home has not been moving smoothly.....they have to be out of their apartment by the end of the month....and at this point, there were lots of bumps in the road toward closing escrow. She has been trying to pack and organize, not knowing exactly when they would be able to move. But, my dear daughter had cooked dinner and baked cupcakes for the birthday celebration! No matter that the chicken was a little "off" so we decided that we shouldn't eat it.....or that she had no eggs for the cupcakes but baked them anyway.....or no butter for the frosting, but used sour cream instead......or that she couldn't find the birthday candles, so we substituted a tea light.....the takeout burritos were wonderful, as were the cupcakes!

      The girls had both taken late naps, so schedules went out the window. By the time the little ones were in bed for the night, we were incoherent.....could hardly keep our eyes open for Grey's Anatomy....David and I got the giggles and couldn't stop.....

      Cost:
      Two tanks of gas $50
      Disneyland: FREE for Emma & me!
      Lollypop $3
      Memories: PRICELESS!

      Through other's eyes, it was not a perfect day, by any means. I had never made the trip to Disneyland and gone on only one ride! But through my eyes, it was a beautiful day that I will never forget.....Rather than focusing on my recent losses, I saw all that I had to be grateful for.....it was good and heart-filling for me. My cup is full....balance has been restored....and I had a blast!

      P.S. Emma wants to know when we can go to Disneyland again.......

      Tuesday, October 13, 2009

      Look Out, Mickey!


      I took today off from school - just stayed home and listened to the music of the raindrops falling on my rooftop. It's on days like today that I miss having a fireplace......but I did light my pumpkin candles! I missed having Spencer at my feet, but I am at peace with my decision.

      Spent lots of time studying for a midterm tomorrow in my science lab....I really don't care to know how to calculate the magnitude of an earthquake by reading a seismograph, to plot the latitude and longitude of a location, or calculate how many miles are in 4.2 lightyears, the diameter of sun and the earth, or to recognize various rocks, minerals and fossils, etc. etc. etc.... but I need to know this stuff to pass the exam. So, with raindrops falling and candles burning, I think I've crammed enough useless information into my brain to make my way through it tomorrow.

      After the exam is when the GOOD TIMES start to roll! I'm headed back down to San Diego tomorrow after classes to be with the family. Did you know that Disneyland gives you a free admission ticket for your birthday? (2009 only....). And since Emma is only 2 3/4, she gets free admission too. On Thursday (my birthday), just the two of us will head up to the happiest place on Earth! Emma is already a Disneyland veteran, and has mapped out our entire itinerary: 1st stop: Disney Princesses (she's princess-mad, and hasn't gotten to do this yet) 2nd stop: Small World (I think twice through listening to that song will be my limit) 3rd stop: Matterhorn ....and the list goes on and on! Oh, and she's in the middle of potty training. I know already that this will be a birthday that I will never forget, and I wouldn't have it any other way - I'm excited!

      Monday, October 12, 2009

      And the hits just keep on coming....

      Charles Dickens quote: "It was the best of times; it was the worst of times" characterizes this past week for me perfectly.

      Earlier on, I learned that I had lost any hope of a relationship with one of my brothers. I've written before about my pets, and the joy that they bring me, in spite of their health challenges. I had to let go of my dog, Spencer, tonight. He had injured his tongue (we think by biting it accidently while catching tennis balls, his main obsession in life. I found him in my kitchen, covered in blood, which continued to flow and flood the kitchen. After finally determing the nature of his injury and trying to stop the bleeding on my own, I had to take him to the vet for treatment. He needed to have his tongue stitched, but the cost was prohibitive, due the need for anesthesia, the testing for his ability to withstand the the anesthesia and overnight observation - when all was said and done, it would have cost over $1000. I have always provided my animals with the best care possible; this was a moment of truth for me. I could have charged the surgey, but cannot afford to incur more debt, as I am an unemployed full-time college student. I had to make the decision to have Spencer euthanized. Tough sailing, to say the least. I am eternally grateful to have had my nephew with me - I could not have done this alone. At first, I was not going to be with Spencer for the procedure, but later changed my mind. I needed to be with my dear pet and to say goodbye. I was glad that I could be there to hold him and to say my good-byes and to thank him for all the joy that he had brought to my life. It was a peaceful passing for Spencer. And now he is in the big dog park in heaven, chasing his tennis balls to his heart's content. I will miss my beloved Spencer terribly.

      This week has been one of keen losses for me; the loss of any contact with my brother, coupled with the loss of my beloved dog. What keeps me going is my belief that God's timing is perfect, and that these losses will only confirm my need to move closer in my relationship with Him, the source of all things good and holy. He knows what is best for me, and I draw great comfort from that, even though today I don't understand what lessons he intends for me to learn, I have my suspicions.

      So I am going to continue to be kind and gentle to myself; to treat myself with love and take care of me. This, too, shall pass. I will be open to finding out what the lessons will be, and patient while they are revealed.

      Saturday, October 10, 2009

      My Brother's Keeper.......

      WARNING: This is NOT a happy, feel-good post. While I admire those who have the gift of being able to write humorously about their lives, I am not in a place today to find any humor in my situation. I started this blog to keep me accountable to myself; to put who I am and what is going on in my life down in print; it works for me to take out the things that are whirling through my mind and expose them to the light of day.

      I am the oldest of four children. We are all the survivors of a nightmarish childhood, replete with alcoholism, mental illness, abuse and violence. Beginning at the age of eight, I gradually took over the majority of the responsibilities involved with raising my siblings. In spite of our childhoods, we all have managed to become productive adults. Some of us carry our own personal, unique scars; others still have open wounds.

      Three of us were able to reconcile our differences and to have a relationship with our mother - the other, one of my brothers, decided to cut her out of his life over 30 years ago. This didn't fit with my idea of how a family should be, and I tried to fix it. It didn't work, and damaged the fragile tie between my brother and me. In order to keep a tight hold of my image, I bought my car and property insurance from him for years in order to keep some sort, or any sort of relationship between us intact.

      As the years went by, we established a tentative truce and sporadically intersected with each other. A little over four years ago, we four children were reunited at my daughter's wedding; I can't tell you how many years it had been since we had all seen each other face to face. It was a beautiful, emotional time for us all. A couple of years later, we all reunited again for his son's wedding. My brother and I continued to communicate, and we began to share about what was happening in our lives with each other. I was able to talk about our Mom within the context of the challenges that I was facing with her and her health. He was very supportive of my struggle, which meant the world to me. To me, it also meant that we were connected - at last. My ideal of what family should be was coming true.

      Our Mom passed away last August -I had kept my brother informed all along, and gave him updates while she was in hospice care at the hospital. My other brother and sister had flown in from out of state and stayed with me when she was placed in hospice. After Mom passed away, we three, along with our children and grandchildren, sat around the firepit one evening in my back yard and planned Mom's funeral together. While looking at each other across the flames that evening, during moments of tears and laughter, we drew comfort and solace from each other and the families that we had created. But we were painfully aware of the absence of one of us around that firepit - our brother was missing. We weren't even certain that he would attend the funeral.

      My brother did attend her funeral - but it was obvious that it was very difficult for him. My heart just hurt for him, but he would not talk. I can't even imagine the emotions that he may have been feeling. But it was good to have him there - I'm so very glad that he came.

      For six months after that day, I called him on a regular basis - on his cell phone; not wanting to invade his privacy at home or disturb his work. I never received a return call. Neither did my other brother or my sister. Last April, I called and left a message regarding a business matter; I needed to cancel my car insurance with him because I could no longer afford his rates. No response; I recently received a notice that an unpaid balance had been sent to collection.

      I really struggled with what to do; just pay it or address it? I chose to address it, and the repercussions of my choice really hurt. I sent an email to his wife with an attached note, asking her to forward it to him. I have about five million email addresses for him, and could never keep them straight. It was not a mean email, just a "Hey, I called you and then I got this in the mail, it's hurting my credit, could you please check it out and let me know?' email.

      The response that I received back from him made me feel as if I had been kicked repeatedly in the stomach. It dealt me a blow that has shaken me to my core, and ripped the veil of denial and illusion from my eyes. Not only am I a strong woman, I am also a strong-willed woman. For most of my life, I have willed the four of us to be a family, irregardless of how any of the other members felt. Being told that, as a professional, I should know that my termination notice had to be in writing; that I ignored additional notices from the insurance company; that I had access to his business phone number; that his cell phone was for personal calls only - not for clients, and as such, all calls from any of his siblings had been erased without being listened to. Further, I had "stirred the pot" by emailing his wife and caused him great angst. I got his message loud and clear. I just didn't want to hear it before. I hear it now.

      But what do I do with all of this? Therein lies the question. I have choices; right now, I am hurting so deeply, but at the same time, I am working through it. I can't fix this. I'm not even sure what I did to cause him to feel so strongly. If I knew, I would make amends from my heart. But I don't have that choice.

      So, I'm just feeling the feelings. The tears fall, and I let them. I am getting on with my life; one portion of my life will not dictate how the rest of my life will go. I am learning - mostly about myself. I am humbled, but not broken by the realization that what I think I need and want is not necessarily what is right for others. How I see things is not always as others see them. I may never have the opportunity to spend time on the phone, or in person, with my brother again. I most likely will never know why this happened. It feels like another death in the family to me. In actuality it is; the death of my illusions and denial, and I am grieving. I am also looking at the family that I have created over the years, which is comprised not only of blood relatives, but also of dear, dear friends. The truth is, that my real family looks nothing like my ideal family. I have much to be grateful for. Conflicting emotions, but that's just where I am these days.

      At the same time, my life continues. It has not stopped in its tracks. I am not curled up in a ball in the corner, shielding myself from the pain. I am out there, living my life - going to school, doing homework, chores, and spending time with people who I cherish. At the same time, I am still loving my brother. And I always will.

      Wednesday, October 7, 2009

      I'm A Rock Star!

      My first math test....Thanks, everyone, for your encouraging words!

      Saturday, October 3, 2009

      Once a Mother.......



      I thought that my life would become simpler once my daughter moved out of the house to go to college and then got married, but it seems that I was wrong....

      Perfect example: While I was raising Elizabeth, "we" collected animals. By the time she married and started her own family, I was left with three dogs and two cats. The kids lived on a sailboat at first, and adopted "Tucker" the cat from the animal shelter........he's half feral and half Siamese - believe me, it's quite a combination!

      When Elizabeth became pregnant, they moved from their boat into an apartment that didn't allow pets. Tucker came to live with me "temporarily". He's still here.

      Old age and illness took care of two cats and two dogs. Doing the math, this leaves me with one dog and one cat. Simple? NOT!!! Spencer the dog weighs 65 lbs. and is highly allergic, so he has to have special food that costs $60+ for a 15-lb bag that lasts him about 2 -3 weeks. He has to have special shampoo, and pills to maintain his no-itch status. He's not allowed to have ANY other food.....try to explain that to a dog with a passion for people food!

      Then there's Tucker......NOT the sharpest knife in the drawer......he constantly overestimates his abilities, and has:

      1. Been on the losing end of a fight with a possum when he was younger.......
      2. Lost almost ALL of his claws another time (I don't even want to know)....but they grew back.....
      3. Gotten in the way of an angry dog with BIG teeth...
      4. Alienated the dog since he loves Spencer's special fish & potato food....I have to put the cat out when I feed the dog; otherwise, chaos ensues....

      Did I mention that he also has asthma? When I look at him, I just see dollar bills (make that $100 dollar bills) with wings on them, flying out of my bank account......Tucker's latest: One eye was swollen shut and obviously painful, so we went to see our vet. Outcome: He had a 3/4" piece of wood lodged in the side of his eye - Ouch! So now I get to administer eye drops every two hours........

      But, just like when Elizabeth was little, there was always AT LEAST one time during each day when I was filled with happiness to have her in my life......same with the animals, although these days, it's quite often when they're asleep! I wouldn't have it any other way........


      Tuesday, September 29, 2009

      2 + 2 = 5

      I really am quite intelligent.......that is, in areas that don't include any math. Pretty funny, as I spent my career in the investment management business!

      My brain just freezes when I have to do anything of a mathematical nature. In high school, I had to take Algebra twice and only passed Geometry because I promised my teacher that I wouldn't go any further.

      When I started college, I had to take a math placement test. Guess who had to take Algebra all over again from the beginning? I struggled through it - emphasis on the struggle - I just didn't get it.

      I put off taking any more math classes until now. I have one this semester, and then just one more class to take in the spring (math again) and I will have my degree.

      I had my first math test today. While getting ready to go to school , I felt like I was going to have a panic attack - internal shakiness, tight chest, etc. - all the assorted fun stuff associated with them. I realized that I had a choice - I could allow this one (small) area of my life rule me, or I could change it up. I chose to face my math anxiety and meet it head-on. I had studied and practiced ad nauseum, and felt that I had given my best effort in learning the material. I went and took the test. I'm sure that I passed it. After school, I went and bought myself flowers to celebrate.

      I have decided to not allow math to beat me. I will "get it" and overcome. I will triumph (or at least pass the class!).

      This whole math thing is symbolic for me....it's an opportunity to apply what I'm learning about myself to other situations and attitudes that I've carried throughout my life. Without thinking, I automatically react in certain ways to certain situations - and not always in the most positive manner. I'm hoping that success in this area - not staying "stuck" in my old thought patterns when it comes to how I deal with math will lead to doing the same in other areas of my life!

      Sunday, September 27, 2009

      Who's In Charge?

      I went to San Diego this weekend to see the house that my daughter and son in law are buying. It has so much potential - and I'm certain that Elizabeth, with her eye for color and design - and David, who is willing to do-it-yourself, will make it into a showplace over time. I'm so excited for them!

      My 2 1/2 year old granddaughter Emma has a BIG personality.....and very definite ideas about how things should be. When I arrived, she had our activities all planned out....first we played Ring Around the Rosie, then "Folding", then Hide & Seek. Afterward, we went outside for a little tricycle riding......the next morning, she declared it was time for our reading party. We set up her tent in the living room, collected books, popped popcorn and settled in the tent for a reading session. (She reads her books to me.....and the stories are subject to her imagination)!

      We went to see the new house in the afternoon, and Emma declared that when I came to visit, I would be sleeping in her room - NOT the guest room! Afterward, we went to the park for a little play session, and were informed that all the girls would be going down the slide TOGETHER! We dutifully lined up - Elizabeth holding Ashlyn and Emma, with me bringing up the rear.......it worked, and was great fun!

      On the way home, David and Elizabeth were discussing what to cook for dinner. Emma declared that we should have burritos from her favorite place...guess what we had for dinner?

      I just hated every minute of it.......:-)

      Saturday, September 26, 2009

      I Love You So Much.....



      ....I could just eat you with a spoon! This is what my grandmother used to tell me when I got to spend time with her.....to be honest, it gave me the shivers - imagining my Nannie eating me up, a spoonful at a time.

      Now I understand what she meant!

      Tuesday, September 22, 2009

      Five Words.....

      My new blog friend Betty from A Glimpse Into Midlife sent me five words to post about.....it's making me think and reflect! If you'd like to join in, just send me a comment and I'll send you five words!

      Marriage - Been there, done that. Twice, as a matter of fact.....but I don't take it lightly. First time at 19 to my first love....what did we know (and what were we thinking)? And besides, I needed to get out of my home...Second time at 29.....my "picker" was broken, and I did not choose well. Lasted around 3 or so years, and I received the greatest gift of my life during this time....my daughter! The rest of it was pretty ugly, and I had to leave in order to save both myself and my daughter. This doesn't mean that I don't hold marriage as a priority - I do, and I respect and admire those couples who have weathered their storms together and become stronger as a result. I believe that we were intended to have a partner to share our lives with....and if it is meant to be for me, it will happen! If not, I am just dandy on my own!

      Health - I have been blessed with such good physical health for these almost 58 years....no diseases or serious illnesses. However, my definition of health encompasses not only the physical, but the emotional and spiritual realms as well. In the latter's cases, it's been a roller coaster of a ride, but I am in an awesome place these days. Hard-earned, and lessons will continue to be learned, but I have no regrets for the bumps in the road (which have sometimes had to be a 2x4 hitting me right between the eyes in order for me to "get" it!) that I have endured and worked through in order to be at a place of spiritual peace and emotional balance. Of course, tomorrow could bring a new set of challenges, so I am enjoying my abundant health each and every day, and taking each day as it comes!

      Passion - I believe that we all have a passion-some of us just have to dig deeper in order to find it. Once we discover what our passion is, we do ourselves a huge disservice if we ignore what speaks to our souls and don't incorporate that passion into some aspect of our lives. For me, that passion is kids of all ages, sizes, shapes and colors. I've been given a tremendous gift in the form of the ability to relate to them - I'm sure it's because I have never forgotten what it felt like to be a kid myself - I can still "speak kid!" This is a part of myself that I just cherish, and the willingness to use my gift has already enriched my life beyond measure. This passion lead me to completely change my life about four years ago, when I quit my corporate job and enrolled full-time in....

      College - because I know that I want to reach more kids and affect their lives in a meaningful way. I think that most of us can remember at least one special teacher who did more for us than just teach us the curriculum - who had a hand in shaping the unique individuals that we are today. I want to be one of those people....So, I went to college to become a teacher! I will graduate in December with my B.A. (finally) and begin my credential program in the spring. At the beginning of this adventure, I wasn't certain that I had it in me - but I do! I believe that we can all find a way to do the things that bring meaning for each of us into our lives. It may not take the form that we envisioned when we were younger, but there's always a way to figure out how to do it!

      Grandkids - I saved the best for last! Before I comment on them, I have to comment on their mother, my daughter. She is an incredible young woman who did not have a broken "picker". She always dated quality young men, and picked the best of the bunch! I am so blessed by having her and her young family in my life......it is so awesome to be a part of this all, and to watch her and her husband grow in their partnership and their parenting together. It's truly a privilege. My two granddaughters, Emma (2 1/2) and Ashlyn (10 months) have awesome parents (and a really
      fun "Grammy")! I am forging a wonderful relationship with both of "my girls", and treasure the times that we have together. I love the generational "distance" between us - when I have them, I am responsible for them, but I get to play with them and then give them back....I'm not "on 24/7"- the best of all worlds! But most importantly, my daughter and son-in-law trust me with their children. My girls just make me smile, and they live close enough that if my arms just get aching for them, I can jump in the car and drive 3 hours and get my hugs.....it's just the best!


      A Flange by Any Other Name...


      I am still penetrating the mystery world of building supply stores and am learning a new language. They might as well be speaking Martian, or whatever baby hedgehogs speak (see above) as far as I'm concerned...

      I finished tiling my shower (beautiful subway tiles....I'm SO proud of myself) and realized that I needed a new metal thingy that fits over the pipe for the shower head and sits against the tiles to hide the hole in the tile that the pipe comes through.

      Try explaining THAT to the guy at Lowes! It makes perfect sense to me! So I drew him a picture....and he figured out what I was talking about. It's called a FLANGE - who knew!

      Will be getting the floor tiles this weekend, and am sure that I will need more "thingys" as this project moves along. I'm having fun looking at the guy's faces as I try to describe what I need...this is great entertainment - can't wait to go back!


      Saturday, September 19, 2009

      My Other Mother


      Yes, I do have one! She anointed herself with this title when we were neighbors another lifetime ago....and she chose ME! Bette and my mom were dear friends, and we all practically lived at each other's houses. Her children were my first babysitting job....we stayed in touch throughout the years, even though circumstances pulled us apart.

      Do you have any idea how wonderful it has been to have "another mother"? One who saw you for who you were and thought that you were just wonderful, no matter what? One who shared what she knew about laughing at life and playing.....who showed me how to "make lemonade" out of my lemons....

      I got to spend time with her this past weekend. Drove up to Santa Barbara with my sis (who was here visiting) and we all went to lunch. I don't think I've ever met another person who has been so comfortable in her own skin as Bette is. We had lots of laughs and lots of love & hugs. I'm going back to see her again soon. I want to be like her when I'm 73!


      Wednesday, September 9, 2009

      A Different Point of View

      After my mom passed away last year, my sister and I went through all of her possessions, earmarking those that would be donated and those that would be given to other family members. The one thing that I didn't let go of was her pair of glasses. I was going to donate them through a program run by LensCrafters, where they would be given to someone who needed them.

      I couldn't do it. They sat on a ledge by my front door for weeks. One day, I had misplaced my own glasses and without thinking, picked up Mom's pair from the ledge and put them on. The world looked entirely different to me while wearing them. At that moment, I realized a new truth - intellectually, I had understood that people view things from different perspectives - but it now became a visceral understanding that I "got" at a deep level. Mom's glasses have a permanent home on the ledge; I see them and remember that truth every day.

      Today was my Geology lab.....it's a capstone course, and not too much fun. The good part is that I have great lab partners - young women in their 20's that I'd met in previous classes - we work well together as a team. I was touched when one of my partners taped together some papers for me for a project....she noticed that my hands aren't as nimble as I'd like them to be. I'm the one who is used to doing for others - not being "done for"! When I thanked her, my other partner joked, "Well, we've been taught to respect our elders!" A couple of years ago, that remark would have really stung. Today, it didn't....because it's the truth! I am their elder, they do respect me, but they don't diminish me. After class, I thanked them for their help - they were surprised and spoke about how much I helped them! Teamwork is just that.... each member brings their own individual strengths to the table in order to create the synergy that results in the best possible outcome for the group. That pair of glasses continues to remind me to see things through other's eyes.

      Although my mom is no longer here, she continues to teach me....I just love her glasses! Thank you, Momma!

      Monday, September 7, 2009

      We Only Get to Go Around Once...

      ...and I'm enjoying the ride!

      My sis is arriving next Saturday morning from the San Juans. She needs and deserves a break. I couldn't put up with, or even begin to do, her job. She's an extraordinary woman. Actually, we're both extraordinary women!

      This is the first time she's been to see me since Mom passed away last year. I could not have gotten through that time without her. She was always available to me on the phone as I was struggling to make good decisions about Mom's care. And when the going got too tough, she got on a plane and came down to be with me in person. And told me what a good job I was doing. And believed in me and supported me. And we supported each other at the end, when Mom was in the hospital under hospice care. It was an incredible experience, and there is no one else on this earth that I would have rather shared it with.

      That's what my sis and I do. We are there for each other in the good and not so good times. We can count on each other....maybe not to say or do the things that the other wants to hear or to be done, but to say and do what is right, true and best for each other. Aren't I just so blessed to have her in my life? It wasn't always this way, which makes me cherish our relationship even more.

      She's only staying until Wednesday morning. But she wants to do everything. Here's what's on her list so far:

      Pedicures - this is our tradition.....we always get pedicures when we're together!
      Visit Mom and Dad at the cemetery
      Visit friend in Santa Barbara
      Go to the beach
      Eat grilled fish tacos at Baja Fresh

      Attend PBS taping of David Foster and Andrea Bocelli's Christmas special at the Kodak Theatre Tuesday night- getting dressed up and wearing makeup...whoo hoo! Fancy dinner beforehand.....have to figure out where....

      I can't wait to see her! Now, if I can just figure out how to not go to my classes on Monday and Tuesday......

      Thursday, September 3, 2009

      I Did It!

      I've been struggling with a situation for a couple of weeks. I needed to tell someone close to me that I needed something from them. I had made it crazy-complicated in my own head, visualizing less than perfect responses to my request and my feelings of rejection to the "no" answer. Finally got sick and tired of the anxiety and avoidance of stating my needs and visualized stating them clearly and calmly. Stopped worrying what the other person's reaction or answer to my request would be. Clarity at last. The exercise was about letting another person know what I needed - something that is extremely difficult for me to do....I protect myself from being rejected by others by being self-sufficient. Learning that there is a definite balance between total self-sufficiency (which isolates me from others) and accepting the fact that I do need to practice intimacy with the people in my life. This is a trust issue. But. the better and stronger I grow in learning,loving and liking who I am sets the stage for this next foray into learning my limits, expressing my needs and my expectations. Good stuff!
      P.S. LESSON LEARNED: My request was well delivered, simply stating my facts and my needs; itwas well received and agreed upon. I amd SO GOOD at complicating things....simpler is easier and better, and less stress-inducing for everone involved.