communication, expectations, family, life, marriage, respect, responsibility, trust, Uncategorized

Marriage ~ working together

This morning I am reflecting on my life;  I am reflecting on how I have gotten to today.  When I take time to stop and reflect ~ I am truly grateful.  I often speak in my posts of my time and my relationship with my children, but the truth is my marriage, my husband, is the root to our beautiful family. It takes work to be grateful, it takes work to have a good marriage… I am blessed that I have a partner beside me willing to work.

Marriage is defined as ‘a union of two elements’… A union is ‘the action or fact of joining or being joined’.  When my husband and I joined each other in this life we became teammates, partners, allies, and honestly… best friends.  You certainly don’t know this is the case right away!  You begin by living together, trusting each other, ironing out differences, listening…  If you really listen you learn about one another and learn from one another!  In every decision we make in life we must put effort into it to make it work… marriage follows this rule threefold!!

What I find interesting in this life is that each simple moment leads to things you could have never imagined.  My husband and I have been married 23 years and 6 months!  Could I have ever imagined us being here? No. Did I know then that each struggle, each decision, each triumph together and literally each moment (good or bad) would lead us to the strength in togetherness we feel today? No.  We have built the life we live today.  By being true to ourselves and true to each other we strengthen our bond minute to minute.  When I hear others complain about their husband or wife I have a hard time understanding it. If you have agreed to be married… to be partners & teammates to one another… I believe you better find the good in what another is attempting to do and learn to share it, learn to tell them and others what is good about what they are contributing.  We can all find fault, we can all blame others, but being teammates means you rely on each others strengths to ‘join together in a cooperative effort’.  Venting what you dislike about your partner , your teammate, to others will always weaken your bond. Work hard to tell others what’s *great* about your partner, and most importantly when you identify the good in them… work hard to tell THEM what is great about them!! This will strengthen your bond!!

My husband is exceptional.  He is reliable, he is willing,  he is committed, he is flexible, he is consistently respectful and supportive.  Now, does he occasionally veer away from these many attributes? Of course! Do I? Of course!  Do we need to focus on the times we veer away from being our best? No.  Always focus on the good, be grateful for the times we are able to accomplish our best intentions… realize that each other is trying!  Learning to respect the good in one another is your key to happiness… bring each other up not down!  Of course there will be times when things are off balance and you can’t find the good if there isn’t any to be found… but when you chose to have this person as your partner, your teammate in this life, there was good… if you find the courage and work hard to voice what you love about them and show gratitude for what is good when it is good ~ then when things are off balance you have leverage to speak about it. Respect comes from built trust… if you have put honest gratitude into your partners emotional bank, if you have allowed them to see and believe their worth and excellence to you over time, it is easier to talk about and deal with the tough stuff.  I’ve said it in parenting… but I believe it to also be true in marriage… All we expect is respect!

My husband is my best friend. We laugh together and  we cry together. This isn’t something that comes magically, there isn’t a soul mate out there that is just the right one that you skip out into the flower-filled field with and run into the sunset… but there is a partner willing to work along side of you and be your forever teammate.  They will sacrifice self for you and they will tell you when you’ve done well and they’ll tell you when you’ve done bad.  They will love you for you.  The hard work you put in is so worth the time, so worth the struggle… if you take care of every moment, be your best and demand the best from them… you will lead yourself to a place you never knew existed.  23 years ago I was young, I was learning…I met this man and we fell in love,  we have built a successful life, a life to be proud of.  Through all the changes and transitions we remain modest and grateful for one another.  We have built true love… it didn’t just come to us… we continue to work at it… side by side… we are stronger together than we are apart!  I wish true love to be created by all.

awakening, clarity, gratitude, husband, life, marriage, New England, purpose, seasons, Spring

The Sweet Sound of Wind Chimes

March is finally coming to an end.  The month of March in New England is just a miserable month.  Dreary, cold, long… but the anticipation of spring ahead keeps us going.

My husband has been putzing around outside a lot more these days with the extended daylight in the late afternoons.  He awakened the grill from it’s winter slumber and we have grilled out a few evenings this past week, what a treat!

Yesterday was my sacred Saturday morning, waking to silence and no commitments to run off to, just the quiet of early morning with my coffee.  As I sat reflecting on my week with sun flooding into the living room I heard a different but familiar sound… The sweet sound of wind chimes.

My husband had hung our wind chimes for the season.  I didn’t know he had done it… oh what a pleasant surprise!

There is surely something to be said for being grateful.  Knowing and acknowledging the simple things is a true gift.  It can change so much, just being still and listening… allowing ourselves to embrace what is good around us and not give our attention and energy to  negatives, this is gratitude.

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”  ~ Melody Beattie

 

adult children, anxiety, clarity, family, identity, life, marriage, peace, purpose, raising kids, school, Uncategorized, writing

Ready to write…

It’s been a while. A while since I’ve been moved to write again. I have been doing a good job at looking inward and searching for a better understanding of me in the past few months.

I have been disconnected from FaceBook since May (9 months) and it feels refreshing. I do not do much social media at all. I am a new member of LinkedIn and I am enjoying it,  seeing other people’s professional accomplishments and other’s rooting them on for it, now that’s refreshing! We did away with cable and only use our Amazon FireStick for our TV, this has helped not have the news in our face.  I have a routine of doing a morning check of the news on my phone before work from sources that I have hand selected and of whom I trust.  This has been helpful in my daily life.  I was just feeling bombarded (literally!) by too much information.  I needed to set boundries and set limits for myself,  I find the steps I’ve taken have been helpful.

My husband and I are navigating the empty nest very well. We survived holiday break; getting first semester grades, adjusted social lives and the return of higher grocery bills. They have both now returned to the University, happy and ready for a successful second semester. We have settled into being just the two of us again and have adjusted to not hearing from them very often. It feels good to know they are out there navigating this big world without having to rely on us for much. They are doing great! Our oldest son is still very happy in his new career and is thriving in the business world. I guess it’s feeling more and more like I can breath.

Speaking of breathing… I began to meditate. This is something I’ve often thought about but have never practiced.  I am using the Calm App on my phone and it has been wonderful. I highly suggest it. It has helped to create space in my mind, I feel I am more at ease and have more clarity these days. First of all, I’ve never been able to let myself shut out the world. I literally put in my headphones and it is just me in my space for 20 minutes a day (10 min of meditation and 10 min of stretching).  I don’t know where or what anyone else is doing, it’s about me! This is an entirely new concept for me and it feels amazing! I feel as though I am on my way to taking better care of myself. I’ve done an awful lot of caring for others, but myself, not so much.

Which leads me to my husband having his surgery.  He had his second hip replacement  surgery in October. He is still doing all of his physical therapy and working hard at being back 100%… but can I just tell you, he is OUT OF PAIN!  The transformation is unbelievable! He is happier, he is stronger, he is more confident!  I am better because he is better.  I worried about him so much, he was always in pain. That is gone and we now take walks together, he wants to do things with me again… we are literally living a new life! I have to admit for almost the entirety of our marriage my husband has been in pain.  He has had 6 surgeries in a 10 year period and prior to his first hip surgery 10 years ago he suffered with the pain of his arthritis for a very long time.  He is a very young man for having been through all of this. He is only 53 and I am 46.  We have our sights set on our future now, he is healthy, happy and pain free.  I have been a caregiver to my children, my husband and anyone else who needed help for what feels like my entire life.  I am entering into the ME ZONE.  I am exercising, meditating, saying “no” when asked to join committees and boards.  I am feeling refreshed for the first time in a very long time. It feels simply wonderful!

There is something else that is different also. I need you to understand my husband is Superman.  He has worked to provide for us throughout all of his pain, he does not complain, he works a full day and then works around the house and maintains anything needing to be done… he is my hero.  Well, that being said, he is also my children’s hero. The disturbance and upheaval of our family from him being laid up over the years has taken a toll on myself and my children.  I have had anxiety since I was a child, but with the life we have experienced over the last 10-12 years it has flared up in new ways. The uncertainty of his surgeries, his recovery, his being out of work, the finances, his physical therapy, our car accident when he couldn’t be with us… the list goes on. This has taken a toll on my mind and my body.  I have been the one to care for him, I cared for the kids, I worked to keep his spirits up when he felt down about being laid up and not able to be the partner I needed. I was everyone’s cheerleader. I worked during this time also, trying to find the balance between my work and my home, this proving not to be an easy task.   Well, it seems we are on the other side of it now. He is feeling strong in body and mind, He knows what he needs to do to stay healthy and works hard at it everyday.  But in the meantime our two youngest children are battling with anxiety. They are both in college now and their doctor has told me that the trauma to the family through all of these unsettling times and not being sure of the outcome for their father being in and out of hospitals so often has played a big role in the people they are today.  They are fearful of the unknown, the “fight or flight” response is very real for them. Navigating college life and balancing their lives has been a bit of a struggle, but what I know from experience struggle brings strength and I have great faith in their ability to overcome these feelings of being out of control of their lives.  This is an unsettling time of not being able to see your future clearly and it is uneasy.  I do feel a lot of guilt due to my not being what they needed through out our family’s hardships. I wish it could have been different but what I know now is that I could not have controlled what happened to us.  We got through the difficulty and have persevered. They are seeing the end result of where the struggle has brought my husband and I and I know they will be ok.

Life is a journey, we often don’t know what’s around the next corner.  This exact notion has brought me great anxiety on the heels of many twists and turns, but I am also learning to embrace it. And with my husband standing strong beside me and loving me more everyday… I feel unstoppable.  It feels like we’ve climbed and climbed and have finally gotten to some sort of clearing in the trees and the sun is shining.  We can see the path ahead of us… we will just stop here for a while and enjoy the view!

“I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship.” ~ Louisa May Alcott

 

 

adult children, clarity, family, life, marriage, raising kids, school, time, writing

The Sound of Silence

Yes… it’s a Simon & Garfunkle song… a beautiful song etched in my memory from childhood… but it also the phrase that came to me when I arrived home from work today.

You see, it has happened. Almost every post I’ve written since I began blogging has mentioned it at one time or another… today it is my reality.  We spent our weekend moving our two youngest children into college… we are officially “empty nesters”.  This term has been thrown around for years as my husband and I have approached this moment.  Well, the whole weekend went well… We spent it together as a family in a rental home.  Our nephew, our oldest son and his girlfriend joined us and we vacationed a few days of the long weekend before the “move in”.  I did great… the diversion of disguising the whole good-bye weekend as something else really worked for me.  I didn’t even cry at the moment of good-bye at the University.  You see, our two youngest are going to the same college, only a 45 minute ferry ride and a 1 hour drive away.  I have felt good with the whole transition… “they have each other and they are close to home, easy for me to get to them if I need or want to”… these are the words I’ve uttered to myself and others literally thousands of times in the last few months.  I had adequately prepared myself… all went well at move in and drop off.  They were happy, we were happy… “wow that was easy” I thought yesterday as I drove out of the parking lot of the University with my husband.  I had worried a bit about my over-looking the fact that I would be saying good-bye to many of my loved ones within the same half hour, after our wonderful weekend together, but I did great.  Boy, I impressed myself.

About a mile into the drive, the car was silent.  There were no more piles of “stuff” to move, there was no more grocery bags of snacks and dorm room essentials that had been jotted down on lists for the last month or more… it was just me and my husband.  I realized we were driving further and further away from our children… each rotation of the tires meant we were entering brand new territory… our “new chapter”… uncharted waters.  Tears began to flow.  I know full well that we will be fine, we “may even enjoy it” (like everyone keeps saying) but if you’ve read any of my other posts you know that transitions can be hard for me.  We wept together on the highway on the drive home, not many words between us, we didn’t need them.

Well today… today is a brand new day!  A new school year started today… as a school teacher that comes with its own mix of emotions.  I had to switch gears last night and focus on today.  A busy morning of the new routine… what I was wearing, timing of the dogs feeding and going out, just all my own stuff!  I had even reached the point last night that I convinced myself how wonderful it will be to not have to share the car, my day would be my own! Bring it on!

So my first day back at school went well… a day of firsts for all the kiddos at school. New outfits, new schedules, lots to focus on!  I just moved along so easily… no tears when colleagues asked how the “drop off” went?  I was good.

I then left school and drove home. On my drive I saw the bus in my rear view mirror and saw parents waiting at bus stops to greet their children.  Ok… So? It entered my mind… those fond memories of yesteryear came and went quickly and I moved on… no tears, I was ok.  I then arrived home and the dogs were there to greet me (perfect planning on my part to have dogs a part of our life just as the kids were to begin leaving us) … That was great, I let them outside, we visited a bit in the yard.  We then came inside, they were content to go to their water bowl, the excitement of my being home had wore off for them.  I went to the back deck to water my plants…  As I pruned and watered I became fully aware of the silence.

It was my first day back to school… for 18 years it has always been someone else’s first day back too… someone to share with.  Before I worked at the school, I was the bus stop greeter… it was a hand-in-hand walk home talking about the days events.  When I began working at the Elementary School my kids attend in our home town I drove us all home… a sometimes quiet or sometimes enthusiastic exchange in the car about how our days went.  When they started high school it was different, I could feel it changing, but I was still the driver… picking them up at practices and having good conversation in the car with them and their friends.  Then licenses were acquired and it seemed they needed the car more and more … they became the drivers and they would pick ME up… they were older now and conversations got even better.

Well, today… today on the deck I realized there was only the sound of silence.  My mind went to the fact that I COULD call them, or text them… check in and see “How’s it going?”  Initiate that conversation I need so bad.  But I know I won’t… I remember the same head & heart battle I had when my oldest left for college… Wanting to reach out so bad with my heart but knowing with my head that it’s not in either one of our best interests.  It is healthy for them to not need to talk to me ~ It’s healthy to allow distance right now.  Knowing that and wanting to ignore my wisdom made it harder of course.

I cried on the deck alone today, I am crying now!  Coming to full realization that this is life now.  My children will only grow older by the day and need their mom less and less.  It is the way it is supposed to be.  They will have other people to share stories and days events with. Oh My God…. How did I get here??? My heart aches so terribly with this transition… my writing always helps me… this, this I am finding hard to write. Silence will become a new norm at our house.

I will eagerly await each day for my husband to arrive home so we can share stories. We will begin our new chapter.  We started last night after arriving home from move-in weekend … we tried finding a program on TV we both might like… we tried Episode I of Game of Thrones — I can say with absolute certainty that THAT WILL NOT be our new show… I can’t say it works for both of us! What I do know is we will figure it out.

I will pray for the strength that each day of silence will get easier.  That I will begin to smile easily through the memories and not cry as much.  I will envision their smiling faces on move in day and know they are where they want to be.  I know that growth doesn’t come without feeling uncomfortable… this is something I’ve always taught them and I will once again take some of my own advice.  I sincerely love them and achingly miss them… but I know I will be ok.

 

adult children, clarity, family, life, marriage, responsibility, school

The 3 R’s of Summer

School’s out for summer… We are always asked by administration to relax and rejuvenate over the upcoming months and prepare for our return in the fall.  I have always worked long hours in the summer, finding ways to supplement our family’s income and get ahead financially before the winter months hit. Last year was one of my most difficult years at my school job, digging deep to find strength to be patient and kind to someone who didn’t show the same respects to me. This summer I have made a conscious decision to work less hours and spend time focusing on my own well being. I will work on things in my home that I have put off for too long and I will find ways of managing things I haven’t had time to manage that feel messy.  I will spend my time this summer with the 3 R’s Resting, Relaxing and Rejuvenating myself.

I have had a realization that the things I will accomplish are going to be more valuable than money this summer.  Our youngest child will be flying the nest in September and my husband and I will be legit “Empty Nesters”. This moment has been on the horizon for some time now and I need to mentally and physically be stronger than I have felt in recent years.  I need to slow down and simplify our life.  I began this process by signing-off of my FaceBook account and taking a hiatus from social media.  That began with seeing a video about the Millennium Question and how social media is affecting our children in this generation, I felt by setting an example to my children may be one small step in awareness to its negative affects.  I feel like so much in this world is OUT of my control right now that I NEED to have some things IN my control… those things being my home, my finances, my health, my own, as well as my husband’s overall well-being. I want to get back to cooking healthy meals and exercising, finding order in our home, getting our finances on track and planning our future.  I want to feel strong mentally and physically. We also cancelled our Direct TV account a month ago.  I just couldn’t watch the news anymore… the negativity, the hatred, the sadness… it was all taking a toll on me. I look forward to slowing down and rejuvenating myself over these summer months.

I will begin with today. We had house guests over the 4th of July holiday weekend, a full house. Orchestrated dinners and gatherings for days… constant energy dedicated to the enjoyment of others.  Today is the first day since I finished my school year that I am not making lists, preparing my home and spending money for the enjoyment of others.  That is honestly what I do ~ I can feel that my husband is becoming exhausted of this ~ I hadn’t noticed this until pretty recently ~ that at the expense of me, at the expense of us, we cater to other people’s needs. Our oldest son came home for a much needed vacation after putting in long hours at his job. He graduated college a year ago, got an internship just out of school and landed a full time job after the internship… we are very proud! Well… we have an annual 4th of July party since he was a young boy… 4th of July is my husbands birthday and we have always celebrated big… he came home to the familiar stress of pulling this all together… House prep, yard prep, food prep… a LOT of work!! I felt terrible, his vacation days leading up to the party were lost to this preparation and the day of the party, and then the clean up… this has also become very “old” to my husband… cooking and cleaning to have a party for him and his birthday has lost it’s splendor.  It is in moments like this that I have clarity for how it is time for us to concentrate on us more.  We are learning that the moments we get with our children these days are fewer and fewer and we need to embrace them differently now. Our time together is becoming scheduled and dictated by jobs and adult responsibilities, we need to use the days wisely. Acknowledgement of a problem is always the first step…

I have taken today to gather my thoughts and rest. Tomorrow I will begin making lists of things I want to accomplish in the days and weeks ahead. Next week I will put it all into action ~ I feel fresh and excited for what’s ahead.  It’s all part of my journey… I deserve the time needed to feel refreshed… I will embrace the 3 R’s of summer ~ Rest, Relax, Rejuvenate.

“Sometimes the most productive thing you can do is relax.”  ~ Mark Black

 

 

adult children, clarity, family, identity, life, marriage, purpose, time, Uncategorized

Time

When I think of time and question if I use it wisely… I am conflicted.  Overall in my life I would say that we use our time well… we use it for creating precious moments, being together & building family memories.

But do you see how when I think of “my” time my response turned immediately to a “we” and I referred to family memories, being together and creating precious moments… Well, that is the conflicting part now that my children are grown.  They are creating there own memories now, elsewhere, without me.  I know that’s the way it is supposed to be, I know this means we’ve done a good job at parenting… but this is part of the transitioning process I am finding to be so difficult.

When I think of “my” time when my kids were young ~ my time was always dictated by their schedules.  School activities, sports practices, rides to friends houses, appointments… you name it we were doing it and all of these things were written out on a calendar ~ my life was based on their schedules ~ I didn’t have to think much about it. We were always in doing mode!  Now that they are grown, and two of them out of the house, my time is becoming my own and I have NO IDEA how to use it!  Literally… even dinner has been a struggle… even our dinner time was dictated by practices and activities.  With no instruction, no have-tos, I find myself not knowing how to manage my own time now.  Our youngest is 18 and a senior in high school, we are doing college visits and we use our time these days for senior year basketball games and keeping busy helping with all aspects of the basketball program… this has always been our normal with our kids activities.  With that on the horizon of no longer being our reality… it frightens me. I’m not sure how long it will take me to stop mourning that part of my life and begin to know how to live the next phase.

I believe my husband wishes I would figure it out. I think that even though we speak of the major differences in our lives since the kids have grown, I realize that the running the kids around, the hours in the car with them, the scheduling of activities, all those aspects were mine during his work hours… although he understands the changes, I do believe they are impacting my life differently.  I do know that I am happier when I’m busy.  I cannot sit idle too long or my energy is used to overthink things, and when my mind is racing it often can turn negative and I beat myself up for not doing anything.  I need to find ways of keeping busy and my mind hard at work.  I’m not sure what that looks like for my future.  When I think of next year, I think of our youngest son playing basketball at college and the potential for us to travel to games, I think of our oldest with his new promotion, his steady girlfriend and his life direction and the possibility of weddings and grandchildren… but again, do you see that my thoughts revolve around our children?  I can’t envision my alone time with myself or with my husband yet.  This is frightening.

As I have stated in many posts before, I am a work in progress. There are changes ahead and I can’t see my life’s direction clearly yet.  For 23 years (our oldest son’s age) I have had my daily decisions made for me…I dealt with things directly in front of me. I’ve been a mom, I’ve poured my whole soul into that one job… my role as my children’s mom is changing. Even with each day I am learning how to fit into the role of a mom with adult children, their needs are so different now…  I think I’m doing okay.  I will continue to grow as a person and learn my own likes and dislikes again… I will be patient with myself…I will learn to focus my energy on me and into my relationship with my husband.  After all, we just bought his and her bikes… spring days riding by the beach with my love… I can see it!

 

 

 

communication, family, identity, life, marriage, peace, purpose, raising kids, teenagers, time, trust, writing

The taste of my coffee, the feeling of my couch throw…

Saturday morning silence.  Husband’s left for work, college-break daughter sleeping late, high-school son at team sleepover, dog at my feet, coffee in my hand, blanket across my lap. Wow…Saturday!

My five senses are happy this morning. I can taste my coffee differently than on weekdays. I can be present and feel grounded, it’s a satisfying feeling.  Slowing life down enough to feel and experience…I live for these moments of satisfaction.

Our family was all home for the holiday.  Our oldest son has come and gone.  At age 22, he is on his quest to live his own life. If you’ve followed any of my other posts you will know that I am learning how to make this transition.  Today I am at peace. There is a story for how I got to this peaceful place this morning…

After Christmas our oldest told us that he was going to head back to school 2 weeks earlier than anticipated.  His girlfriend was coming to visit us and he would plan to head out when she went back. I had a difficult time with the news. I had prepared myself for this potentially being our last holiday break together, as Del graduates from college this May and it will just never be the same, but cutting that time in half threw me for a loop.  In fear of seeming selfish for the sadness I showed when he told us he was leaving I wanted to share my recent struggle with my children.  I wanted to be transparent in my feelings so they were not perceived wrong. I read one of my earlier posts about what I believe to be transitional depression to them.  I felt it would help explain a mother’s pain in letting go and that I wouldn’t ever be asking him to be doing anything different, that it was just the feelings that were emerging from me and the struggle between my heart and my intellect again. I hoped reading this would help them understand.  I read it with great difficulty, I had no idea I would be so emotional as I read it out loud. They heard me and I felt it helped.  I took their hands and told them that we all have a journey and that this is just part of mine. I am learning to let go.

A week after this talk we kissed Del goodbye and bid him farewell for a while. We went about our family Sunday, at bedtime I pulled back my bed covers to find an envelope with “Mom” written on it.  I knew it was Del’s handwriting and I instantly welled with tears.  My husband lay next to me while I read it out loud. The words that flowed from my child were so eloquent, so beautiful.  His words and feelings put so much into perspective for me, his words were so powerful and healing. Part of me wants to share that letter with you here, but selfishly I also want it just for me. Maybe one day it will make sense to share it, but not today. His words are my strength.

In one of my former posts entitled “From Little Acorns Mighty Oaks Grow” I stated that as my children have grown they now help to give me cover and shade when I need it.  This letter is proof of that.  The maturity he showed and the insight he shared has strengthened me. Since I read my post about transitioning to my children, I have found an even greater understanding between us. We have always had great understanding, but with each new beginning I find communicating what it feels like to each of us is important.  If we don’t share our feelings with each other then assumptions are made. I would have never wanted the assumption for my oldest son to be that my sadness was a reflection of us being disappointed in his decision.  I needed him to know and understand that my sadness is something that I am working on within me.  That we support his decisions wholeheartedly but that there is an emotional process of letting him go that we continue to go through.

I am at peace today because I believe we understand each other.