Sunday, August 2, 2020

Making change

There are no rules that say life will be easy. I think I discovered that when all the childhood and young girl fantasies came to fruition. Marriage was hard and even more difficult the older I got. Finding oneself then combining that with someone else is truly a challenge, and there is not always a winner.

As little girls, we played with our dolls and pretended to marry the most handsome boy we know. Babies. Not doll babies. Sometimes they come as a surprise. Sometimes they are sensibly planned. And with many families, they sometimes come at great expense and trial and error. But we don't get the full impact until that day the baby comes home with no instructions, no timetable and absolutely no voice to help you out. No, life is not easy, but then it isn't supposed to be.

Losses. No one told us how to hold together a breaking heart as we lose loved ones. No one told us about the pain and missing. Again, a change, a life lesson. Change in appreciation of what we have. Change in understanding our own mortality. Change.

Over my many decades, I have changed. Most times for the better. Probably the most significant change came when my children were on their own, and I was a single woman. It was the first time in my life that I had no life-events to look forward to. I really hadn't discovered grandparenting yet. I discovered a voice I never knew I could have. I could look at the past and figure out a little more about just who I was and why. Indeed it was an awakening. I wish everyone could have one of these.

Who are you? What do you like about yourself? What do you give up of yourself and want back? Well, we can't go back. However, we can find the gifts we have to bring. We can make the world better by what we learn. We can actually be us....a single entity....one. Shouldn't we all be?

Yes, life is about give and take. So often it feels more like give and someone else's take. Yet in answering that voice within yourself, you will find new answers, new parts of you. You will find adventure and creativity in whatever form that takes. You will discover that you are merely a piece of the puzzle and not the entire puzzle. You are needed in the wholeness that you can be.

How do you start? Mine started with writing whatever came into my seemingly empty head. I discovered that it wasn't so empty.

Yes, I discovered grandparenting. I'm still learning about it. Life is a wonderful journey. If it weren't for the mistakes and pitfalls, we might never discover ourselves.

Sunday, July 12, 2020

Black

He was one. He was the only one I remember from the days of experiencing this new thing called television. All the others were the same old white and good, while the bad guys were dark and mean. Not Hopalong Cassidy. Nope, he wore black. Of course, his horse was white, but he was dressed from head to toe in black. Black. It has been the color of evil throughout all of my growing up. Hopalong gave me a window into black being just a powerful color. for good. Black.

We seem to associate dark with evil and light with good. It is an awareness that we should consider. Dark clouds tell us a storm is coming. I for one love the dark clouds that bring rain and that freshness that stays for all too short of a time.

I long ago gave up wearing black to funerals. If we believe in an afterlife, we should indeed dress for the party and wear whatever we feel tells who we are. I love black. I appreciate the way it covers up the ever-growing lumpy body that I have developed over my later years. I love that I can wear it with EVERYTHING. Yes, black goes with everything. In fact, I look like an overlarge marshmallow in white. Black adds color to my life.

I grew up in an area that was all pale faces. It was a colorless community with an attitude that fits it. The migrant workers came to work in the fields every year, yet we never invited them into our churches or our homes. I never went to school with them. Looking back, I know that I was short-changed.

What do we teach our children about the histories of other cultures? I never learned about them in school or in my home. Of course, we didn't have Sesame Street, so different colors of humanity were black and white. It wasn't until I grew up that I found myself curious about those not like me. It was then that I came out of my white shell and began learning to communicate with people who were indeed like me on the inside. As my grandson says, "It's just skin." Thank you, Nolan.

What would our lives be like if there had never been slavery? Maybe nothing would be different. There seems to be unfounded hate of Hispanic people, so perhaps that white thing would still be in place. Why is white thought of as superior? Most of the people in the Bible were people of a variety of colors. The Romans would have been the whites. And, again, they thought themselves superior. When did this happen? Who was the first to start racism?

I have done my DNA. As with all the rest of you, we all came from Africa. There is that 1% of us that is indeed black. What if the table was turned? These are questions we all should ask ourselves. We are the parents and grandparents raising littles to make a colorless world. My grandchildren play with a variety of colors of children. And, those children have a variety of parent colors. We have a responsibility, my friends. 

Black is not the color of evil. It is not a color to cause fear. It is indeed a beautiful color, much prettier than my pale being. Remember, our hearts are the same. We all come with gifts to share. We are all one world. Let's teach the children.

Sunday, June 28, 2020

My little corner

My corner of the world. Just a little corner. It has trees and flowers and mountains and an ocean and lots of people....and me. I share this little corner with my children and grandchildren and friends and pets. And, I seem to have a lot of 'ands' in this first sentence, but sometimes you just feel like a little kid in a great big world. Today I am in my corner of it.

Having lived in a few states, I probably have a little better view of what other little corners are like. They all have their pros and cons. Some more than others. Yet I adjusted and learned. Yes, I learned. I learned first of all how to be a daughter, then a wife, then a mother, then a working woman, then a grandmother, then a retired woman. Whew! That was a whole bunch of learning. As it was happening, I did not realize what I was learning. I was learning what it meant to grow.

It isn't easy, this growing up thing. The pitfalls are many and the joys only grow in intensity as we age. When my mother passed, one of her last comments was that it all went so fast. Those words stick with me. Why it didn't really resonate with me when I was younger, I can only mark up as immaturity. So maybe what I gained through those years was maturity. So where am I going with this? Sometimes I wonder as well when I write. I just put the words down. You can decipher them.

Why do we realize so late that time, each minute of it, is to be treasured? It will be the first question I ask my maker when I get there. Why don't we realize that each minute is a gift? Why are we so self-centered that we do not realize that we are, each one of us, important to this map of life? Why don't we realize that our little corner is necessary to the whole? 

It is similar to the masks we are wearing during Covid 19. Our very breath can be life or death to those around us. My little mask potentially saves lives. My isolating, along with that of others, will save lives. My little corner makes a difference. 

My mother said that time passed so quickly. So if it is passing so quickly, shouldn't we all make our little corners worthy of living not just for ourselves but for others as well. I will protect you and you can protect me. 

Yes, I lived in a few states. I learned about people. Those who are stuck in the past and a way of life refusing to changes generation after generation. Those who believe that family only includes those born to it. Those who kept their little corner to themselves.

My mother reached out to everyone she ever met. She embraced the world without judgment. She ran towards need and not away from it. Would she wear a mask? I can't answer for her. I think she would believe that since she lived on a farm, she didn't need to. That sort of thinking doesn't work when corners meet. Indeed enough corners make boxes. Boxes to keep others safe.

Friday, June 26, 2020

Uninheriting

With the advent of this virus, we began ordering our groceries to be delivered. The fee is nominal compared to the risk of shopping. In fact, we might just continue this from now on. Current events are changing the way we do things.

My friend lives in a condo. Her daughters all live out of state. Yet they pay for many of her bills and try to help out financially. This friend has a 401k as well as owns her condo. She was talking about the things she would like to buy but is worried about the money. She is worried about the possibility of living in a senior home someday.

Me: You have a 401k and own your condo. Spend your money! You are 80. It's your money to enjoy. You have coverage if you go to a home someday.
Her: Well, when my parents passed they had nothing. There was nothing for their kids.
Me:  You don't need to save for your kids. They are all financially stable, and they are adults able to accept responsibility for their own lives and futures.
Her:  Oh, I guess so.
ARGH!

It is archaic to think that you have to provide for your children. Hopefully, we raise kids who can handle or not handle their finances and work their ways through the challenge called life! Parents are not the bank or savings and loan. No. We save to send them and their children through college and settle into their new adulthood, but once they are on their own, they are indeed on their own. We had to learn. So do they.

We know a couple who are seniors, well-to-do seniors. They have money in trusts for their kids and grandkids that will keep them afloat in the future. Yet, two of their children who are raising children can use the help now. What a great way to give to them now. Why save it for later? Why not enjoy the money with the children and grandchildren who share life with them now? 

I know I sound like a hardass woman, but I am not. After both of my parents were gone, we discovered that they had a great deal of money. All of our lives we saw them suffer through loss, mortgage the farm, struggle to make it through each year financially. They did not get the money until much later in life, but to know that the money was there and they did without was heartbreaking. Not to say that the money wasn't nice for the daughters, but knowing that my mom would have had an easier life, maybe gone to see her daughter more or done more things in her life which she never even thought to do when poor, broke my heart when she passed. 

Our parents work hard for their money. It is theirs to spend. The day of saving for inheritance is passed. I am blessed with memories to embrace from the years with my parents. I have a history that I love given to me by the parents who bore me. I need nothing more from them. They gave their all. They gave their lives for us.

Yes, my friend could help her daughters out by showing them how independent she truly is in taking care of her own business. As parents, living our lives to the fullest is showing our families what it is to be caring adults. I don't want to be remembered by a dollar sign. I want to be remembered for the gifts I can share with my family now. 

Friday, June 19, 2020

Count me with them

We live in a turbulent time. I just had a birthday and can honestly say that is not the only time I have said those words. Wars, riots, disease outbreaks are not new. In many ways, we have moved forward from those times, although, I say we have not moved forward enough. And in the last few years, we have gone in the wrong direction. Anger and violence, lies and deceit, hate against others seem to have finally met with a wall of people who care and want change. Count me with them.

I grew up on a farm. I grew up in a white society. Never did we have minority kids in our classes. Even when the migrant workers passed through to work on the farm, we never saw them in church or in school. I don't know if no one noticed or even cared. 

I was a little girl when I first met my first black person. Thankfully, my children and grandchildren have been in school with a variety of children from different countries, difference religious beliefs and sometimes even different languages. What a marvelous thing it is to see all shades of prejudice disappear in such an atmosphere.....that is unless it is taught at home.

As a Christian, I see Christ less in the people of faith than I do in the humbleness, humility and caring I see from other believers and even non-believers. I would say that it shakes my faith, but my faith is not in a building nor is it in a book. My faith is in God. A God truly without borders.

A man I knew as a child was conversing with me about his migration away from rural life. He told me he knew as a child that he could not live in that atmosphere. My sisters and I were the same. In fact, my mother encouraged all of us to move away. She knew. We had minds that needed to grown and arms that needed to embrace an entire world and not just that where we were planted. 

Perhaps it is time to stop writing. I want to be a person of hope and happiness, but right now, it is difficult. We wear a mask to protect others. I would hope that when we rip off these masks, we finally find a world more tolerant and loving. A world working together for a better place for all creatures.

Our environment has leapt for joy at these upright creatures giving them a break. They roam their ancient homelands and live in a similar world to what their ancestors knew. The air is cleaner, the water clearer and a world of nature recuperating from the destruction we have laid upon it. I cheer you on, beautiful earth!

Please know that I am always here for you. I may not write as often, but you can always write to me. I do not post all messages, because some are just between you and me. Be safe. Please be smart. Most of all, please be kind to one another and open yourselves up to new ways of living. 

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

Art of hugging

Oh, how I miss them. How I miss wrapping my arms around my family. This is not only a virus that takes from the body. It truly robs the heart.

I have been going through old pictures, putting names on the back, so no one else will have to do the research or be in generations that don't remember. Truly, it takes me down memory lane. I find a family tree unfold that was once hidden. I look for resemblances and pictures of homes now gone. I see generations of people who barely touched, let alone hug. Thank goodness I was raised with parents who loved to hug.

Of course, in this mass of several hundred pictures of at least five generations, I find that my generation learned to hug and say the words 'I love you'. We didn't just say it to family. No, we said it to relatives and friends. I remember my uncle lying in a hospital bed with only me for company. I don't think I ever had a serious conversation with him. "I love you, Uncle Keith". He looked at me quizzically, "Really? You do, huh?" Well, that made an already awkward situation more awkward. I didn't back down but was happy when my relief person arrived. (BTW, I hugged him before I left and deposited a big, fat kiss on his cheek.)

In going through the pictures, I smiled at each hug I had with my loved ones. They are the dearest memories in photo form, in heart memory. Gabby always snuggles in my arms even though she is 18. Sydney at 21 always sits close to me and hugs with such truth. Emma and Nolan love to have me sit between them. I often find one of these twins age 7 creeping up onto my lap. We hold hands and have long chats, usually over tea. Pictures. They capture it all and speak of love.

My husband Loren commented on the way I look in all of the many pictures of me hugging people....there are quite a few. I told him it was because I mean each and every hug. They represent love and affection. To lose it would be losing part of my spirit. Virtual hugs are just not the same. The act of hugging is not to receive but to give.

With the twins getting older and more independent, I find that pats on the head, a hand on the back, a lucky squeeze suffice more than not. And then someties you get a surprise.

Nolan hopped on his bike. He didn't have much to say. He was pulling out onto the street and quickly looked back, "I love you, MeMe." I was just hugged.

Thursday, May 28, 2020

I'm Lazy

Yep, I am. I first noticed it when my kids were little. At first, I was so busy trying to create the perfect life for a perfectionist husband; therefore, I had to raise perfect kids. Then one day I looked around and said, "What am I doing!?!?!?" Why am I raising kids to be like their father? Why not raise them to be kids.

Uh-huh, that was the beginning. The first step in lazy. The house was a little more cluttered. Toys were not immediately put away and there might be a few dishes in the sink, but there was laughter throughout the house. I got a little lazier, but my kids got a mom. This continued throughout their growing years. Nothing was so set in stone that we couldn't discuss and work out a plan. We learned to trust each other as well as confide in one another. I liked giving them avenues to explore, places for adventures, the silliness that made memories.

Then I worked. I didn't have time to be lazy at work, but how I enjoyed that kicked back feeling when I got home. The only person I had to clean up after was me, and I was good at making little mess. I wasn't lazy. I was happy.

Then I retired. Once in a while, I wouldn't make my bed. Why should I? It was cozy when I left it, why not jump back into the nest as is? I found that I could eat when I wanted and what I wanted. Not only that! I could wear my sweats all day and not see a soul. A life of no schedules, no fuss, no worries.

Then I married. Thank goodness he was on the same page as was I. We were moving along just fine finding our footing as a married pair when COVID-19 hit.  Now, of course, I have plenty of time to clean, sort, take up a new hobby, write. So why is it so hard to get motivated? Yep, I'm lazy. Each day is like the next. It has some variation but not the impulsive life I took for granted.

As I reflect in this haze of days resembling one another, I see that the laziness of this life has allowed the environment and all its creatures to reflourish. Parents are really getting to know their children and perhaps discovering new ways to handle anger and frustration. Children are learning from their parents. Really learning from them. Lazy does seem to have a bright side.

So, if you feel lazy, I cheer you on. Embrace this time and see it as a gift; time is precious. You can sort out what is meaningless and find new ways to go forward. You can think in new ways and learn new things. In essence, as with nature, you are coming alive.

Welcome to my world of lazy.