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A Good Time Ahead

There’s a lot happening this weekend.

It’s been a year (is that all?) with our current president. I’m with the majority of Americans, embarrassed by and weary of him. The news is full of analysis of his time in office, and it’s a little overwhelming. Enough said on my part.

On the exciting side of things (for some of us, at least), the NFL playoffs are this weekend, and my beloved Vikings are on fire. Could last Sunday’s game be any more exciting? I knew it was a good match — New Orleans is an incredible team — and I believed, right up to the final seconds, the Vikes would win. And indeed, it was during those final ten seconds when they pulled it off.

I don’t expect the same kind of excitement this Sunday, but I hope for a good game (ultimately defined by who wins).

I’m waiting for some news that could change so much for me, but more on that when it actually happens.

And, Sunday is my birthday!! Not only is it MY birthday, but two of my co-workers are due any day now. I’ve become friends with one of them, and would love it if her son was born on Sunday.

I haven’t been a good blogger lately. Other things have been pulling at my time, and by the time I get to my blog, I’m spent. I’ve missed out on so many of your posts as well, and I apologize. I hope to catch up soon.

Here’s to the coming weekend. Oh, I forgot, I get my hair trimmed tomorrow — always a good feeling. It’s going to be a good couple of days.

Go Vikings!

sentence JAN 21 written with chalkboard on a wooden table with t


Image Credit: ©FATIR29 – stock.adobe.com

 

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the art of being my mother

Centered on the living room wall when I was growing up was a drawing that tore at me. It was of a woman, clearly weary, her head in one hand looking off to her left, a sleeping child draped over the other arm.

Not sure what was going  on here, but it was clearly important.

Not sure what was going on here, but it was clearly important.

While I now see the beauty in this art, as a child I believed my mother identified with it because of her own weariness with her lot in life, namely, me, and I felt a great deal of guilt over what I’d done to her.

We didn’t get along, my mother and me, until after my stepfather died when I was 28. By her own admission, her focus then changed from wife to mother.  It took us years to work through all the barriers. Issues remain today, but they aren’t the structure of our relationship.

I see her getting older and I’m constantly mindful of the fact she’s only a few years away from the age her parents were when they died. She’s on a fixed income and can barely afford her own needs month to month, yet she still jumps at the chance to give to me.

That’s what moms do, I guess, at least it’s what my mom does. I resisted it inside myself until I realized how important it was to her. I turn around and send her money when I can to help her in any small way.

A few years ago I went through terrible times, and it left its mark on me long after that. I was so deep in the pain of it myself I didn’t fully realize what my mom went through each day, wondering what I was undergoing and imagining the worst.

I need to keep to myself what is mine to know.

I hold back on telling her everything because it is too difficult to express. I don’t know that she should know all the details. I need to keep to myself what is mine to know.

Perhaps she did identify with the woman in that drawing, for reasons I’ll never really know. As one of the few pieces of art she’s kept through the years, it seemingly has meant something to her. Just as I don’t fully involve her in my experience, certainly she hasn’t fully involved me in hers.

I told her once, in a moment of reflection, what it had made me feel, and she simply said, “Really? I never knew.” Then smiled a little. “I always loved that picture.”

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Words in the Wind

Today, while in the ladies room, I heard two co-workers talking. One was crying.

“I told her I got back together with him because I married him,” she sobbed. “I thought maybe he’d changed.”

Well, you can guess the rest of the story. He hasn’t changed.

“I know I’m a good person. I’m doing things I don’t want to do because of him.”

As I stepped up to the sink to wash my hands, I said to her, “you remember who you are and don’t let anyone change that.” She nodded, and opened up about what was happening. I listened.

Then I went on to say, “Sometimes we try so hard to make something work, and it just isn’t working. We try to change things, but there’s often something else going on with the other person, something we don’t know about. If someone else makes you feel bad, you need to walk away. Don’t try to figure it out and fix it. Walk away.”

I could see that had an impact. She heard me. Maybe, just maybe, something it took me a long time to learn can change things for her and make her life better now, while she’s still so young.

I’m not saying give up on marriage at the first struggle, but if there’s abuse, if someone is scared, it’s time to jump ship and swim for your life to safer shores.

We never know when what we’ve said changes someone’s life, or a part of it. Years ago I had lunch with a former colleague. He was struggling with a job he hated, and the weight of his despair was leaving him seriously depressed. I asked him the same thing someone else had asked me, and my answer had changed the course of my life.

“What you be doing if you were doing what you wanted to do?”

He didn’t answer me then, but I saw him a couple of years later. He bubbled over with enthusiasm.

“I thought about what you said, and I knew the answer. It changed the entire direction of my career. I have a job I love!” he told me. “Thank you!”

Really? Wow. Frankly, I didn’t even remember asking him that question, but I’m not surprised I did, knowing how it had affected me. What else have I said or done that has had a positive impact on someone else? (I ask forgiveness for things I’ve said or done that have hurt others.)

I hope my young co-worker makes the right decisions and moves on to greater things. I hope she holds out for a man who treats her right.

I hope my words make a difference.


Image Credit: © sunnychicka — stock.adobe.com

 

All Tucked Away

It is without reservation that I say…

Too. Cute. For. Words.

Walter tucked in

Now that the kids are tucked in bed, we can relax.


Reservation

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Rules, Respect, and Giving a Rip

There was a time when, with a carload of friends, I, as the driver, was caught in a stop-and-go situation in a parking ramp after a basketball game.

“Look!” my friend Kathy said, pointing at another car. “They’re going the opposite direction! Let’s do that!”

We should have, and I had a split second to decide. There was no law, no rule really, against it. Nothing would’ve happened other than getting out of that ramp an hour or so earlier. But I couldn’t do it. The signs told us which way to exit. Going the other way was wrong.

I can’t help myself. I’m a rule follower.

I’ll tell myself and everyone else I’m being respectful, but bottom line, I’m scared of getting in trouble.

You bet I follow the red light/green light rules. Always have, always will.

You bet I follow the red light/green light rules. Always have, always will.

I even make sure I’m going in the “Enter” door when I shop at Walmart, and veer to the other side if I find I’m headed for the “Exit” door by mistake. Keep in mind the automatic doors have sensors on both sides, and no one so much as blinks if you go through the “wrong” door. On your average shopping day, there’s no danger or inconvenience in entering through the exit door (on Black Friday, it is, of course, a different story).

This wouldn’t bother me so much if I didn’t feel like I was being controlled by these rules. That, I think, is the dividing line for me between what is right and what is compulsive. I do not, for example, compulsively follow traffic laws. I do it for two reasons: safety, and I don’t want to get a ticket.

No, make that three reasons. It’s the law. Following it is what you do.

When I was in college — the first time —

it was a VERY conservative school, and students could receive what were called “minutes” for infractions of a plethora of really stupid rules. I think breathing too loudly on Saturday morning before 10 a.m. was one of them.

You’d get three minutes per infringement, and if you flouted your rebellion to a point of getting 30 minutes, you received what was called a “campus”, and “volunteered” three hours of your time to the school pulling weeds or some such.

In the history of the school, only a handful of students had made it until graduation without any minutes. I could’ve been one of them, except for two things: 1) I didn’t graduate, and 2) one Saturday morning I slipped up and talked to another student in the bathroom before 10 a.m. (I almost wasn’t kidding above).

She talked to me first, but no matter. And she was an RA, so I was screwed.

It would’ve been good for me to blast my radio

after hours a night or two, or (really bad) show up after curfew (there may have been more serious consequences for that. And, oh yes, curfew). It would’ve been really good for me to kiss a guy on campus (again, I’m serious, a violation of school policy), but that rarely was an option anyway.

I say it would have been a good thing for me because I might have understood what I only now am fully grasping: breaking certain rules doesn’t make you a bad person, or even untrustworthy. There are boundaries and I probably held mine closer than was healthy.

Certainly I didn’t need to trap me and my friends in that parking garage for more than an hour. If I’d gone the wrong way, worst case scenario half the other cars might have followed me. As it was, my decision cast a pall on the evening; that’s what we always remembered about an otherwise fun night.

Who's in Charge smStill, old dogs, new tricks. Forget dogs — I should be like my cats. They (reluctantly) follow the few rules I absolutely enforce and don’t give a rip about much of anything I else I ask of them. Somehow they know what really matters. I rarely reprimand them, or think any less of them for their indifference.


Photo credit (stoplight): © Graphic Stock; (Kitty and Candy) © geosap — stock.adobe.com

 

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Tough Zebras, Sexy Coquettes and Frozen Judges

I have a new obsession.

It’s pangrams, sentences that include every letter of the alphabet. You can use letters twice (you pretty much have to), but you can’t include proper names, foreign words or abbreviations. The goal is for them to make sense (relatively speaking) and to have as few letters as possible.

The most famous of these is “the quick brown fox jumps over a lazy dog.”

I think my lowest count is 39 letters. I have a friend who claims her 32-word sentences are clear and logical, but they have no verbs, so I’ve disqualified them. From what, I’m not sure, but she’s going to have to do better.

Here’s one of my early (that would be yesterday) pangrams:

“Valued oxen graze quietly before heckling jumpy cows.” (45 letters)

Paints a picture, right? There’s a story there. I’m just not sure I’m the one to tell it.

Here’s one we all can relate to:

“Sexy coquettes dazzle big jocks when frumps arrive.” (43  letters)

The 39-letter pangram is a little disturbing, so I’m not going to include it. In fact, I’d prefer to forget it, so it may be burned before you have a chance to read this post. I have another one, but it’s a stretch to say it makes sense:

“Tough zebras vow to just mix funky cupid liquor.”

Here’s a headline you have to hope you never see:

“Quickly Hide Frozen Judge Mix Up, Beasts Vow.”

I’ve learned something with this little mind game. The obvious — and perhaps smartest — thing to do is to choose the words with q, x and z first, then maybe w and y. I typically start a sentence with the more challenging words, then write down the letters I’m missing. Sometimes filling in the blank is a clear choice, such as when I needed a word (or words) with m, p, r, and t in it.

I promptly figured that one out.

I seem to often get stuck with the letters c, g, k, and j. Putting the c and the k together seems obvious enough, but what do I do with the g and j? As seen above, “jock” is one answer, but there aren’t a sloughful of others.

(Sloughful — that’s a good word for this game, and I swear I’ve heard it many times before. But when I looked it up, I couldn’t find it. If any of you are familiar with it, I’d love to hear from you.)

There is a serious side to this fun. Word games are valuable exercise for our brain, and we all know brain health is important. So keep your mind active, and maybe give this addictive game a try.

Start with “wizards” or “zebras.”


Images courtesy of Pixabay, except for Young Woman — © micro – Fotolia

 

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Consistently Changing

“Consistency requires you to be as ignorant today as you were a year ago.”
― Bernard Berenson

Hmmm. I get his point, but there’s value in consistency, too. Depends on your consistent pattern. Do you routinely come home, watch the same TV shows and eat one of the same three frozen dinners? Or are you someone who can be counted to stay up-to-date with current events, give comfort to a grieving friend, or dare to have your hair cut shorter than its ever been?

If you’re consistently exploring, you’ll be wiser and more informed a year from now.

A balance of routine and exploration helps prevent both chaos and lethargy. There is comfort in routine, although in the first scenario described above, I’d recommend you add a class (or perhaps a book club) and learn how to cook at least two new meals.

Having a regular pattern gives you structure, a foundation to build on the daring side of you. It also helps you be on time and maintain healthy habits. But the person so committed to that same schedule that they pass by on the bountiful opportunities our world offers is somewhat boring.

I got to wondering what I’ll learn in the next year. I’m not anxious for tough lessons, but rather, new insight into the world around me and the people I love. It means I have to get out of my comfort zone a little more and be willing to ask questions that might leave me vulnerable.

Vulnerable, because I don’t like looking ignorant or naÏve. Thank goodness for the Internet and search engines. But there are limits to what you can learn from Wikipedia, and I want to break those boundaries.

I’ve changed so much in the last few years, and sometimes I forget what I’ve accomplished. The difference is subtle sometimes, but I’m proud to say I’m consistently changing.

 

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