Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Positive.....Pass It On

She walked through the door all smiles and hugs wrapping her arms around me. "Hi, Grammy."

This morning I got up early to take my granddaughter to school while her mom slept in. Waking up to Gabby is like waking up to joy every day. Gabby doesn't understand anger or pain inflicted by someone else. She grabs hold of each minute and fills it with chatter and energy. Her cup is never half empty. She pats the sofa for me to sit by her. We have thirty minutes snuggled together to talk and giggle. Thirty minutes of just her and me. I am a lucky woman.

A friend said that she is at her wits end, and it never seems to end. It took me back to when I was married. My husband claimed that I was negative. Of course, I had my reason. Valid reasons. I didn't want to give up my anger. It was mine and I had a right to it.

At some point I decided that I didn't want to be angry any more. My husband was off doing his thing, and I was with the children 24/7. I decided that happiness in the house was vital for the well-being of the children. For me. I handed my husband his problems and focused on healing. Every negative thought was replaced with one that was positive. After a bit of time, I found that the positive thoughts were always there, and the negative took a backseat. I changed. My life changed. My children changed.

Sometimes we seem to hold on to the negative, because it justifies our anger and moods. It's easier to not try than to make an effort to do better. It's easier to wallow in self pity than to try to smile when everything seems to work against us.  Those dark feelings get fed by everything when the negative reigns. In looking back, I wonder what in the heck was I thinking? Who wants to wake up every day ready for nothing to go right? Who wants to brood and be nasty? Who chooses to think their feelings are more important than those around them? Who wins?

I wish I could take Gabby's energy and zest and dust it across the world. I wish I could plant her beautiful happiness in everyone I meet. I try. I try to be an example. I try to step away from despair and into the light. I try to find the smile in everyone I meet.

Funny thing about positive. It can turn a day around for someone else. A smile, a kind word, a gentle hand can ease pain, loneliness and sadness. Maybe, just maybe, it can change the world.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Happy De-hackling!

Different views. Differences in opinion. Different ways of expression. Abstract thinking. Organized thinking. Right wing, left wing and winging it. Religious beliefs, none beliefs. On and on the list goes. Which one gets your hackles up?

Hackles. Those feelings we get when something goes against the grain. When small things are allowed to change a mood, maybe even a relationship. That feeling that is equated to the fur standing up on the back of a pet. That feeling of tension that comes unexpectedly and seems to capture our every thought. Hackles. I have them. You have them. Children develop them. They often develop them from us. I remember as a child fighting against the things my parents believed in. They made my hackles stand on end.

It's taken me a long time to learn to walk away from an argument or to turn a conversation away from controversial topics. I've gone from a rebel to a someone who looks behind the differences. We are all our roots.....what we take with us and what we leave behind. Sometimes looking behind someone makes it easier to understand where they are at any given moment.

This all came about yesterday when talking to good friends about a girl who is verbally abusive to their son. I asked if they had gone to the school. They hadn't yet. Their son was handling it causing the situation to change. I suggested that maybe they needed to talk to the school for the sake of the girl who was on a path of disaster for herself. Evidently, she comes from a bad home. A lone girl who is treated poorly at home and has no one to come to her rescue. Sometimes we need to walk behind the person to see where they've been.

I like that there are so many differences in our world. What a boring place it would be if we didn't have them. I like that we can change who we are and learn from one another. I even like that we can disagree. Hackles aren't worth the effort to raise them. They take too much energy that could be placed somewhere much more constructive. Maybe, in fact, they can be used to the positive.

Well, enough of my hackling thoughts.

Happy De-hackling!

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Day After

It began with musical theatre, floats, balloons and Santa Claus. A cup of coffee and coffee cake. My son and his beautiful Lisa. My grandpup, Millie, who just turned one. The day began with a parade.

Like many of my friends, we had a very quiet Thanksgiving this year. The girls were off with their Dad for one dinner then off to their Grandpa's for another. It was a different Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving comes in many forms. When James was doing a show at Wagon Wheel in Indiana, my sister and I took him to Thanksgiving at a hotel. Tables and tables were piled high with food. Years ago I spent the day with friends when my children were with their father. It didn't matter how I spent the day, I was thankful.

I don't think that I'm alone in saying that it is a day of memory. A day of being thankful for those times I celebrated with my parents and sisters. A time when family piled into the house with activity in every room. I remember those no longer here. I remember the sad times as well as the happy. I appreciate because I remember.

I don't stand in line on Black Friday. I dislike the name and dislike what it stands for. Commercialism takes away from the day of family, the day of appreciating what we have....not what we can buy the next day.

The day ended with Bing Crosby, Danny Kaye, Rosemary Clooney and Vera Ellen singing "White Christmas". Another Thanksgiving is gone. Still the sweet day lingers.....and I am truly thankful.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Words of Thanksgiving

Thankful. Thankful for the following words:

Hope
Love
Faith

Hope that keeps us trying. Hope that keeps us believing. Hope that bouys us up when we think we cannot succeed.

Love that is without boundaries. Love that makes life worthwhile. Love that we wear when the days are cold. Love that we give and love that comes back to us.

Faith that gives us hope and teaches us love. Faith that carries us when we cannot carry ourselves. Faith that allows us to believe in miracles.

Thanksgiving this year for many is a difficult time. Hunger, loneliness, desperation are companion of too many. There are those who are thankful that they are not one of the aforementioned, but when one suffers so too do we all.

We are in a world that mourns and grieves. A world that is hungry and poor. But again, there is faith. There is a Thanksgiving prayer to heal a world. There is a Thanksgiving word that we send out through our faith. It is love.

I am thankful for my family, a warm place to live, a coat to wear, peanut butter in the pantry and a warm bed to sleep upon. I am thankful for the freedom of speech, the privilege of voting and for the country in which I live. I am thankful for those I love and for the love they give to me.

For those of you following this blog, I am thankful. Have a wonderful Thanksgiving embracing the gift of your life. Gods many blessings on each and every one of you.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Grandparent

Blogs, blogs, blogs. Grandparent blog numbers are climbing. Grandparents are talking. The conversations bring together ideas. The contact brings comfort. The words sometimes echo what we cannot express. Blogs, blogs, blogs.

This morning I was thinking about the word grandparent. Sure it means that we have grandchildren, but there is much more, isn't there? The word means that our children are older, adults who no longer need much from us. The word means that we are either turning into seniors or are seniors. Grandparent means that we are what we remember of our grandparents. The word means that we are experiencing a part of our lives that we thought was in the far distance only now to discover that we are there. Grandparent.

What more can we say about grandparenting? We all share the ins and outs of children and their children. So what more is there to say?

There is much to say. We are very aware of our age, our place in time by looking at our families. Those we have raised and those we are helping to raise. I know I am not alone in saying that this is sometimes a scary place to be. Instead of that youthful thinking that life goes on forever, we find that in reality forever went pretty fast. We try not to complain about the aching bones. We try not to voice the sometimes confusion we have in understanding where we belong at this time of our lives. We try not to look beyond the now. We are lonely if we have no mate. We want someone to talk over the concerns we have. We want someone to just hold us. There is much to say that often we are afraid to say. We are afraid that no one else feels the same. That no one else is ever a bit afraid.

I'm working my way through this thing of aging and grandparenting. Perhaps my grandchilden are my regular dose of positive, along with hope. I find that it doesn't pay to worry about tomorrow. I need to be thankful for today. I owe it to myself and my family to take care of myself mentally and physically.

Blogs are important. They give us a place to share, to learn, to find a voice. We are at a wonderful place in our lives, Grandparents. We are important to our families. We have wisdom that only comes with age. We are the history of the past. We are the loving arms that give freely the love we have for our families. We are a valuable piece of the lives of those who love us in return.

A voice does not need to come in the form of a blog. It can come in the stories we tell our grandchildren. In the notes we write to our children and grandchildren. In the diaries and journals we keep.

The voice of a grandparent......it is yours. It is as important as you are.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Important Time with the News

This morning I watched a news article regarding the little girl who killed herself because of bullies. Ten years old.....

"Gabby doesn't know about suicide," my daughter said.

I told her that she would be surprised what her ten year old daughter knows. What she knows about bullying, suicide and heartache. We parents would be surprised.

Sydney loves to watch the news with me. We have done it for as long as I can remember. As she aged, so did her questions about what we were watching. Doors opened for dialogue. Now she asks for the news to be turned on. We watch the stories of the world we live in. We learn to communicate and talk about subjects that are not always comfortable. Her world expands beyond our house, our community, our country.

Gabby likes Sponge Bob better than the news, yet the conversations that happen between her older sister and me sometimes draw her in. We learn together about real life. Sponge Bob fades away for a few moments.

My heart aches that there are children out there hurting and have not the tools to deal with their situations. Desperation at such a young age should never be allowed to happen yet it does time and time again. We had bullies. Many of us have scars from cruel actions of other children. The innocent heart hurts from learning that there are mean people in this world. Confidence is ripped from them. Maybe they start to believe the words. Maybe they see no way out. Maybe they give up trying.

No child goes through childhood without being hurt by another child. Teaching our children that they can come to us and that we will be their voice is the most important tool we can give them. Listening to them from their standpoint and not our years of experience is so necessary. Taking steps to make sure that our children are protected even at our own discomfort can be no less important. I believe that schools need to step up and teach not just that bullying is bad, but to erase the roots and causes of bullying so those kids can change their behaviors. Bullies beget bullies.

I grew up in a time of conversation. I grew up with adults talking about crops, neighbors in need, world events. No one really talked to me, but I was drawn to those conversations learning with each one and later getting involved in the conversations.

We sit watching the television. Wars rage, hunger strikes, people are homeless and sometimes we hear wonderful stories of heroes at home and abroad. We sit beside one another often snuggling under a blanket sharing time together. Precious, important time.

"I like it when we sit and talk about things," Sydney once told me.

Me, too, Honey. Me, too.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Brain File

She fell into my embrace sobbing. Her little body wracked with pain from everything small that seems so big to a child. I held her quickly going through my brain file trying to find the wisdom to deal with the present crisis. Grandmas do not come with all the answers.

A friend came home from school with Sydney. She is a friend of both girls. She is a year younger than Sydney and about one and a half years older than Gabs. Gabby is petite and often treated as a small child even though she is ten. She longs be respected for who she is not by her size.

Gabby brought home a paper she needed to finish so she could hand it in today. This sweet girl struggles with writing and reading. So when she has something like this to do, it is a major task. The friend purposely tore her finished homework page. I don't think it was vicious, but nonetheless, it was not nice.
The act was not my focus as I held this sweet girl in my arms. I knew the homework had to be done and that it would be a struggle for her. My responsibility was to see to the child.

My brain file didn't have a section for this situation. I was going to have to wing it on my own. So I did. I sat with her as she did her work, trying to keep the positive pushing away the negative. All the while, my heart ached for her. We did the healing together. We did the homework together.

Gabby would never purposely hurt someone. She is such a loving, tender heart full of life. Her deepest hurts come when someone purposely hurts her. She has no understanding of such acts. She is confused when vicious acts occur. So am I.

I think in the end, Gabby learned something about herself and her grandma. One more time I could be there for her and help her through her pain. One more time we could find laughter after the tears. One more time I could help her learn about respect and responsibility.

Gabby handed in her paper today. I doubt that her teacher will know that this is a very special piece of writing. Gabby also was a different person today having overcome her disappointment to achieve her goal. She is small in stature but so very big in heart.

My brain file seems to expand only by the incidents for which I have no answers. Being my age and having white hair does not make me a sage by any stretch of the imagination. Being a mother didn't give me all the answers.

I am a grandma seeking answers. Thank goodness the brain file is expandable.

On Neff Road today: Remodeling the Family Tree
www.neffroad.com

Monday, November 14, 2011

Creativity has No Boundaries

"I could never do that. I'm just not creative."

"Wow, I wish I could write....paint....sew..... ." The list goes on.

Stop the excuses!!!!! There are no boundaries for creativity. However, if you don't go looking for it, you may never find it. The only thing keeping someone from finding their own creativity is the lack of trying.

My sister is an artist. She taught art for years. I look back at my earliest pictures that Mom held on to. I could draw stories. They were primitive, but still, a story complete with pictures. We were pushed towards music which was in our blood to begin with. But what of our other talents.

I knew I wanted to dance....our church didn't believe in it. I knew I wanted to create stories but was told that no one could make a living in the arts. I met resistance at every door to discovery.

Athletes were given many outlets. Parents supported the boys. Girls could twirl a baton or cheer for the team, but none were encouraged to be artists.

I discovered a couple of years ago that I could draw. I wasn't fantastic, but I loved it. The problem now is my arthritic hands. I long to know what I could have done had I been encouraged to just try it when I was younger. It wasn't my lack of outlet that held me back. It was my lack of understanding that I could step outside of what I knew and to just give it a try despite resistance.

I think we use excuses for ourselves and our children keeping creativity hidden. Perhaps there isn't money for lessons....or time. Perhaps we adults see other things as more important. Maybe we are too particular expecting perfection in efforts instead of just encouraging.

I learned to color inside of the lines. It was important that I learn that control. Now the kids color and create backgrounds behind the black and white lines. They open their minds and open doors to creativity.

Adults! I want no more excuses. You are never too old to try. Perfection is not a consideration. Whatever you do will be your own voice, your own expression. There is no wrong. All efforts are right. I never had the encouragement. Now pain restricts my efforts. Creativity has no boundaries. I believe that creativity is the link between all men and women around the world. I believe that we should creatively find ourselves in order to find a happiness that belongs to all.

Creativity has no boundaries...creativity tears down boundaries.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

We Lift a Glass

We lifted the glass in celebration. The synopsis is written, the music recorded. My son's musical, The Dance, is ready to send to regional theatres in hopes that it will be produced.

If you have followed this blog, you know that my son has followed his dream as an actor and singer since he graduated from Northwestern University. His career has been met with much disappointment along with the high points that have kept him going. Sometimes it's not easy to follow the dreams.

James knew that he wanted to write a show for his grandfather about WWII. Over the last couple of years, the story has gone from a roughened script to a completed show. Pieces have fallen into place. Jane Thatcher, who wrote the music, came to him through a mutual friend, a woman I taught acting to when she was a child. The show moved forward by the support of Lisa, his wife, and friends who were wanted to help. After many readings, rewritings and stage readings, it came together.

Maybe the show will be produced in your area some day. Please join me in making a toast to my son and his production of The Dance. Please join me in sending positive energy his way.

Thank you, my readers.

For the next few days, you can hear the music at this site (James and his wife, Lisa, sing Ivory Moons together and separately on other songs):  http://www.thedancethemusical.com/demo.html




Monday, November 7, 2011

Pieces

A piece here. A piece there. Slowly but surely the picture comes into view. It isn't the picture that I strive for but the journey to get there. Confession: I am jigsaw puzzler.

My puzzling addiction began when I was a child sitting at the card table with the older women in my family. Over the Christmas holidays, a puzzle sat on the table waiting for someone to come calling. Cousin Betty and I actually became close over these puzzles. I learned about these women in my life. I learned that puzzling was more than finding pieces.

When the leaves begin to fall, my puzzles begin their journey from storage to a warmer room. I start with the border pulling out all of the pieces that will build the frame of the rest of the picture. Straight sides easily found and hooked one to the other. Slowly the picture begins to evolve. Sky at the top. Ocean at the bottom. One heck of a lot of blue. Gradually the rest of the pieces fall into place.

I'm pretty good at doing puzzles after all these years. I love the search, the find, the building. Getting to the last piece is sometimes disappointing, because I don't want it to end, rather like a good book. Piece by piece a story is told in picture. Piece by piece the puzzle journeys toward its return to storage.

Sorta like life isn't it. Easy to find the border, but it is journey to find the pieces that create the picture, that create our lives, are a little more difficult to find. We finish one picture and go on to the next. Working with other to create a beautiful work.

I'm on my sixth or seventh puzzle and ready to retrieve the Christmas puzzles in about a week. I only allow myself the luxury of working on the puzzle in the evenings. I refuse to let life pass while I sit at a table picking up little pieces.

We are the pieces that create the picture. I pray the picture be beautiful when it is finished.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Kiss of Sunshine

The alarm went off. My room was as dark as it was when I closed my eyes last night. The room was chilly as I tried to put my body, still asleep, into some warmer clothing. Stacey had a day off. I offered to take Gabby to school. Duty called.

I lit the fireplace then sat on the stairway waiting for Joel to drop her off. He would be on his way to take Sydney to school while I took Gabby a bit later to her school. Soon the car pulled up and both girls ran to the house. A quick hug from Sydney, and she was gone. The house had been dark until Gabby walked in. Gabby brought in the sunshine.

Before I could get into the room, Gabby had begun to clear off the sofa, so I could sit next to her. We didn't say much to one another. I was still trying to wake up, and she was busy greeting the dog. She snuggled closer and held my hand. Before long we were tickling hands and giggling.

Usually I don't get up when the girls go to school. They need that quiet time with Mom since they don't see her every day except for those few minutes. However, I felt the sunshine warm our house this morning. I found the perfect way to start the day.

I kissed the sunshine this morning and have been smiling since.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Light the Lamp

Winter roars in when least expected. And, for a time, people step back into the past.

When I was a child and the power went off in that house back the lane, we all huddled in the basement by the fireplace. We cooked our food over said fireplace and slept in our beds beneath piles of quilts and comforters. Dad went to the barns and broke up the frozen water in the watering trough so the animals could drink. Extra bedding was given to the sheep and barn doors and windows closed tight against the winter wind. No towns were nearby for food, so the canned goods in the fruit room fed us. It was a time in the past that my children and grandchildren don't remember. Yet it is a time brought to life when winter comes quickly to call.

"I want it to snow here," Gabby said.

"Did he say we were getting snow?" asked Sydney her eyes bright with anticipation.

The temps on the left side of these United States is dropping slowly. The weather man was talking about the snow falling on Mt. Hood when Sydney caught his words. The children here are eager for snowfall. Snowfall that we don't get every winter.

We are fortunate to have a gas fireplace to keep us warm, and, if need be, we can go to my son's just a couple miles away to keep warm by his wood burning fireplace. He is within walking distance from the grocery while our pantry is well-described by my daughter:

"All we have are beans!!!!"

Winter takes us to a vulnerability that for some is all new. My roots taught me to survive a powerless time. It taught me to be entertained with family instead of computers and televisions. It taught my children that we could have fun by the fireplace and creative food choices.

We wait on the left side for snowfall. Our hearts go out to those who have been without power for such a long time. For me? I need to get oil for my oil lamps.