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.

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




Being Fair in an Unfair World

It’s what I was taught, it is what I have taught my children.  Having values and principles to live by…  Treating others with fairness, being trustworthy, being honorable… all of these attributes are supposed to add up to something, there was an unspoken understanding that you would somehow be rewarded for the hard work it is to sustain such dignity.

Well, here I am… 45 years old… awakening to my purpose and questioning everything. If you’ve read my other posts you’ll see that I am in one of life’s many transitions ~ spending my free time these days in reflection.  Amidst the first weeks of Donald Trump’s presidency and seeing our world turned side ways ~ feeling divided in so many ways ~ I assess my own life.  I honestly question whether I’ve properly prepared my children for what they are entering into.  Could teaching them fairness and goodness really have been a mistake?

Our youngest son is 18, a senior in high school, and preparing for his next phase in life.  He is the captain of his basketball team, the team is doing very well this season (11-3) and they just played their most recent game last night, a tough match.  We are waking up this morning to a devastating loss, we lost to a team that is one of our rivals in the league.  We beat them in our own gym a few weeks back by 20 points and were now meeting them in “their house”. I do not want to make excuses for the loss, I simply want to point out my observations and how sad it makes me feel to reflect on it this morning.

I’ve never used tactics to get ahead.  I have never taught my children to plot and scheme against anyone or anything to win or overachieve. This is where in the world we live in today I open myself up for such hurt and I wonder if I’ve done the same to my children?  The harsh reality, which took me much too long to realize is the world isn’t fair.  We arrived at the game last night to find out they had changed the start time due to a recruiting event the school was having… our boys are then in the visiting locker room for longer than usual and there is excessive banging and screaming on the outer doors and walls… we then enter into the gym, a packed house for their event, and their coach quickly decides to forego the National Anthem… the game began and our kids were already out of rhythm and out of focus ~ they got us off our feet before the game even began.  These are tactics.  Tactics the coaches went to great lengths to scheme and work out long before the athletes went head to head on the floor.  Then there was the questionable referees, don’t get me started. These types of things I have a very hard time understanding and accepting ~ this is a basketball game ~ these are kids ~ I get winning and losing and I am very competitive ~ but competitive on a level playing field ~ I HATE the use of tactics and defrauding a situation to get ahead.  I know, I know… I am in for a world of hurt for feeling this way and thinking others are going to play by the rules… that is honestly my life story.

I grew up thinking everyone was taught like me to be fair and just… that everyone wouldn’t be able to live with themselves if they did something to hurt someone else without saying sorry ~  I know now that that is not at all the case and I am having a difficult time accepting it.  I am so mindful in my days that clearly seeing people doing these types of things to each other, or to me or to my children is extremely disheartening.  It has become a daily occurrence, on our TVs in the media, in the workplace, and now in our schools and on our playgrounds.  I am again in uncharted waters and will work to guide myself and my children through it.

“Not everyday is a good day, live anyway.  Not all you love will love you back, love anyway.  Not everyone will tell you the truth, be honest anyway.  Not all deals are fair, be fair anyway.”


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


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!





The Beautiful Island

rsch112-exterior1-1  I know of a beautiful island.

An early morning walk on a crisp October morning shows truth.  Walking past vacant pristine homes, sitting above, beside and near the water.  The sun is rising on the water, boats shine whiter than you’ve ever seen against the deep blue of the harbor and the ocean.  The cormorants have fished for there breakfast and now rest on the dock drying their wings in the newly rising sun.  The dew from the cool morning shows each and every spider web along the shrub line of the pond, a misty fog lies just above the water.  The quiet allows each bird to sing a good morning greeting to passerby.  I am lucky enough to be who they greet.

This is my home.  Time was my own this morning, I chose to greet the day early.  Along my walk this morning I saw a truth.  I left my coffee in the car, making a conscious decision to plan to enjoy it later in the comfort of my own home.  Nalah (my dog) and I set out on a walk, from driving in the car this morning I knew it was a delightful morning, but then to step into it… To set out along the oceans edge and feel and smell the air ~ just magnificent! The beauty of course took me over, but what I also noticed is that it was only us on that road this morning.  We shared the space with one fisherman, one gentleman, who had just finished testing his line off a borrowed dock. He crossed the quiet road to his island-worn truck and we gave a friendly-knowing nod as we passed.  Each one of the picture perfect homes I passed had a porch, on the beach that faced the water, each home was vacant. Not a soul around to see the beauty and the magnificence that I was witnessing.  Not one person was sitting on even one porch enjoying their coffee, enjoying the view… not one family member from these homes were here to see this.  WOW! It just hit me… it was bizarre, it was sad.  I pictured where they might be right now?  These million dollar properties sit vacant while they do what? Where?  Were they sitting in traffic headed to work in the city while I looked over their property?  I thought about the cormorants sitting upon their dock… thinking of the expression “free as a bird”… so fitting to see the birds sunning themselves and enjoying the view.  I thought about going back and getting my coffee and walking through the inviting arbor leading down the stone path to their dock to enjoy it.  My thoughts then turned to alarms and cameras… trespassing.  Trespassing across beach and rocks on an unused property to enjoy the beauty of nature because I have the time and they don’t!?!?   The truth is these homes are clearly summer homes, maybe even just trophy homes that get frequented only one month out of a year… But it feeds the ego to have it, to possess it.  The sprinklers had run overnight on their perfectly manicured lawns, the heating or air conditioning units were running, and there were covered cars in the garages. Wow… But not one single person there to enjoy their coffee. Mind boggling!

I am thankful I am here. I am grateful for each new day.  I live in a beautiful humble home on a splendid island and I have a happy family.  As I grow in this life ~ in age, experiences and in wisdom ~ I become acutely aware of where my joy comes from.  Often I wonder if the people who possess those homes could possibly be as humble or grounded as I am?  Do they feel intense joy over the little things like I do or has life just gotten too big that they forget to be grateful?  Does the humility and gratitude come from working hard and having to look in on these situations from the outside?  I feel blessed to have the time and the grace to absorb a morning like today.  My mind is not always as clear as it is today, but I relish in my ability to reach this point of clarity. One thing I like to say ~ I am Blessed to know I am Blessed!


Supporting the struggle…

There is always struggle.  We all struggle with something. There are different dictionary definitions of struggle, the one I most relate to today is: To be strenuously engaged with a problem, task or undertaking; to have difficulty or make a strenuous effort doing something.  Sometimes the struggle lies within ourselves.

Since being a mom I often feel my heart beats outside of myself.  With each difficulty that has met my children, I feel their pain.  As a mom you just want to relieve that pain, take it away. I can recall attempting to ease the pain of road rash from a scooter fall, or the pain of being left out… but over time what I once thought of as difficult… it changes… it becomes something entirely different. Our children are ages 22, 19. & 17 right now.  Our oldest son has graduated college and is currently searching for a job.  Our middle child, our daughter, has successfully completed her first year of college and has decided to defer acceptance for a bit for medical reasons.  And our youngest son is a high school senior, has a steady girlfriend, and is navigating his path to his future.  I guess you could say… We are in the thick of it.

Each one has there one unique set of needs, each one deserves to have our energy and  attention for whatever it is they are going through.  A lot of what they need is cheerleading, positive feedback for a job well done.  That part I feel I do pretty good at, I’ve always been careful to try to notice what they are doing to be successful and give positive praise for it.  When difficulty rises… not so easy for me.  I guess I usually remain positive, finding the silver linings and helping them to focus on that.  This gets more difficult as our children have gotten older, the level of difficulty and the stakes are higher, much more stressful.  This is where my husband is my entire strength… He listens patiently and intently to me, he understands me completely.  I have often referred to our family as our pack… “For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.”  (Rudyard Kipling)  In other words, we’ve always known we need each other, as they’ve gotten older that is to be reminded time and time again…  You are not alone.

With the statement “you are not alone”, when one of the pack is in a current struggle, it takes the strength of each member to support another.  One pack members struggle becomes the entire pack’s struggle. There should be no animosity for the extra energy as one never knows when the pack will need to pull together for oneself.

“Be strong enough to stand alone, Be yourself enough to stand apart, But be wise enough to stand together when the time comes.”




On her way out the door…

Meaningful & deep conversation is important to me.  Especially with my kids.  My daughter (age 19) began a new summer job in early June.  She has encountered a less than “nice” person as her co-worker,  they share a very small space each day.  We have communicated with our children since they were very young about every aspect of their lives, from the fun and silly to the very complicated.  This situation for her has been confusing and complicated.  Learning to deal with others in our lives and co-inhabit our spaces with less than desirable people can be a challenge!  I chalk it up to life lessons and am very pleased when she’s willing to ask for advice and listen to her father and I in how to deal with it.

This morning, our morning conversation before work revolved yet again about the woman she was going to spend another day with.  She told me stories of yesterday, yet another difficult day dealing with her.  This woman has been the one to train her in her new position as a pet groomer this summer.  It started out okay but quickly began to get kinda ugly.  Our daughter would come home with reports of this woman yelling at her,  using profanity blatantly, and then it became threats — that if she forgot such & such “one more time” that she would whip this bottle at her head… things our daughter has not yet had to deal with in her young life.  As disturbing and disgusting this behavior is, I have been staying positive in the way of these being life lessons and my husband and I being able to help her through it each day.  Giving her pep talks and encouraging her to find ways to stay true to herself and her beliefs while dealing with someone irrational.

A week or so ago our daughter went ‘over the head’ of this woman and filed a complaint for the mistreatment.  Things have changed, but just as we had warned her, the change hasn’t been what she might have hoped for.  The woman now uses a different angle to treat her basically the same way.  One of the things we have instilled in our daughter since this all began is the fact that this has so much more to do with the woman than it does with her (our daughter).  That she is acting this way for something inside of herself that manifests itself outwardly toward often nice, patient people like herself.  We made it clear that she may be preying on her because she’s an easy target for being so tolerable and quiet and that she should try to find words to stand up for herself when it is happening.  Well, finding the words has been difficult.  She says she just shakes her head and goes back to work.  We have explained that if this is her way, then she must be sure to not internalize what is happening and not to let it become part of her own belief system of herself.

Today she told me that the change since she told of the mistreatment has been that she won’t answer her questions about grooming.  She now divides the dogs in the morning of who has who and she’s on her own.  Even when it is a “regular” and she wants to know how the owner is used to having it done, she will say “do it your way”.  Our daughter seems to believe that the reason for this is that she wants to see her screw up, wants to have a customer complain about a dog that she has done on her own and she can get all the blame for it.  The way it was working before was that when she was yelling at her she would often refer to these being her “regulars” and that our daughter is only around for the summer and screwing up isn’t an option.  This was never a problem with our daughter, she respected that fact and wanted to do a good job, both for the customer and this woman.  But there was never encouragement or understanding… never teaching… never patience.  That is a tough environment for someone learning a new skill.  When this was happening we helped her to see that there was a possibility she felt threatened by her doing a better job than her, that maybe there’s more going on with her and the company than our daughter is aware of, finding ways for her not to “own” what was happening.  Of course, helping her to separate the fact that owning and fixing her own grooming mistakes and learning from them was crucial, but the constant badgering and rudeness radiated her way was not something she needed to own.  This is such a valuable life lesson for her.

Our conversation this morning led to EGO.  I explained how often people are driven by ego and when this happens it can be hard to deal with. We have tried to teach our children that making decisions and conducting your life from the standpoint of your ego is toxic and destructive. Our daughter has encountered someone who uses “I” and “Me” in most of her sentences.  She’s not a good leader, not a team player.  This is hard to handle.

On her way out the door this morning, I reminded her of why she goes to work each day, that she is not going FOR this woman, she is going for her love of dogs, for the customer she is serving and to earn her paycheck.  Reminded her that her doing it on her own now will lead to more fulfilling experiences at work, a feeling of pride when a customer likes what she’s done with their dog.  If you make a mistake, it’s only a mistake, you learn from it, you move on, you grow.  Have a great day My Love!!!

“In about the same degree as you are helpful you will be happy.”    ~Theodore Reik




A Shared Moment of Trust

I read and was deeply moved by an essay recently entitled ‘A Shared Moment of Trust’, written by Warren Christopher, U.S. Secretary of State from 1993 to 1997,  President Carter’s deputy secretary of state.  It was published in a book I am reading titled This I Believe; The Personal Philosophies of Remarkable Men and Women.  I acquired the book by winning it… I won it at my oldest son’s freshman orientation at Southern Connecticut State University about 4 years ago.  It was his summer assignment to read this book for his Inquiry class in the fall.  It was also part of the assignment for him to write his own ‘This I Believe’ essay that summer.  When I first read it, I was reading it to get in the mind of my child, to read what he was reading and try to interpret it through his eyes.  I didn’t know I would enjoy it so much!  It is a remarkable book, a collection of both ordinary and extraordinary people’s points of view, their own perception of the world.  I am so intrigued these days by perception.  As I grow older, and gain more wisdom in this life, I can see clearly that the words once told to me hold very true — “There is no reality, only perception.”  Through my life this has held true time and time again.  I believe that having attempted to love and nurture our foster daughter and then having it end the way it did… it is honestly the only statement that I can go to and have any understanding at all for how it all seemed to go wrong.  The statements shared in this book are written by some famous people and some unknown before the publication.  This book reveals so much of the human spirit. It is invigorating and powerful with great diversity and honesty.

I keep this book nearby and I find myself returning to it often over a cup of coffee, opening it up and reading one or two entries to start my day.  I am often re-reading ones I’ve read before but often have different feelings arise each time.  The one that I mentioned that I read today is ‘A Shared Moment of Trust’.  It starts out like this:

“One night recently, I was driving down a two-lane highway at about sixty miles per hour.  A car approached from the opposite direction, at about the same speed.  As we passed each other, I caught the other driver’s eye for only a second.

I wondered whether he may be thinking, as I was, how dependent we were on each other at that moment.  I was relying on him not to fall asleep, not to be distracted by a cell phone conversation, not to cross over into my lane and bring my life suddenly to an end. And though we had never spoken a word to one another, he relied on me in just the same way.

Multiplied a million times over, I believe that is the way the world works. At some level, we all depend upon one another.  Sometimes that dependence requires us simply to refrain from doing something, like crossing over the double yellow line. And sometimes it requires us to act cooperatively, with allies or even with strangers.”

His essay goes on and tells a story of his professional career as U.S. Secretary of State.  It was so well done, very thought provoking and real.  This particular essay spoke to me this morning for a couple of reasons.  First and foremost is because we have a new driver in the family.  Our youngest son passed his license test last week.  We are in the throes of teaching him what this responsibility means, the reasons why the State has six months of a junior operators license, that this is an earned privilege and that it is to be respected.  Also because we spend a lot of time on the highway these days, traveling back and forth to visit our son and daughter at college.  The way Mr. Christopher so eloquently compares the simple act of driving, something we all do everyday, with such emphasis on personal responsibility, I just love it!

I have observed such carelessness on the highways these days.  From texting to putting make-up on while driving at speeds of 70+mph.  I just cannot comprehend people not having any regard for the speed they are going and the jeopardy they are putting others in for their own lack of responsibility.  My children and I were in an accident on the highway a few years back, the woman behind the wheel of her small car took her eyes off the road to “just” change the radio station, but when she looked up traffic ahead had slowed, she veered left into the front end of our minivan and spun us around, we hit a guardrail and crossed the highway in front of three lanes of oncoming traffic.  I was told by police afterwards that by me holding tight to the wheel, I kept our van from flipping over.  I have worked hard since then to rebuild trust while being on the highway. The decisions folks are making everyday to not pay full attention to their own responsibility of driving can have devastating consequences to innocent people trusting them on the road.

Mr. Christopher’s essay ends like this:

“In my own life, I’ve put great stock in personal responsibility.  But, as the years have passed, I’ve also come to believe that there are moments when one must rely upon the good faith and judgement of others.  So, as each of us faces — at one time or another — the prospect of driving alone down a dark road, what we must learn with experience is that the approaching light may not be a threat, but a shared moment of trust.”

Thank you Mr. Christopher, your essay helps me to restore my faith… faith I may have lost since our accident.  I cannot live in fear.  Anxiety is real, but we can choose to listen to those worries or we can work hard to tell them to go away.  I must continue to live and I must continue to trust.

“We’re never so vulnerable than when we trust someone – but paradoxically, if we cannot trust, neither can we find love or joy.”  ~ Walter Anderson

And so… I write…

When I began this blog I didn’t know what it would become. What I know to be true about myself is that I am a writer… I write in a journal, on the closest random piece of paper, or in a notebook (even in the margin of a book).  What do I write? My ideas, my thoughts, my concerns… Who am I writing to?  That’s the part that’s always been unclear.  I often use it as a type of therapy, not really with a purpose.  I often think about what it would be like if when I were gone one day someone found my writings… I guess I like the idea of someone finding these inner thoughts of mine once I’m gone, but not now… not with everyone at least.  I don’t share my writing with many people, most people don’t even know I write.

Today I shared the address of my blog with a friend of mine.  I’ve had a couple difficult days lately, and today was no different.  I can honestly tell you that she rescued me from my own self.  I was caught up in a negative thinking pattern and she lent her kind heart, gentle soul and listening ear to me right when I needed it.  I cried and we became closer in our relationship because of my vulnerability.  I was in a weak moment and she helped to make me strong again. I am finding it in me to write today because of her.  She was able to look over a couple of my written blogs and gave me positive feedback.  As I had mentioned, I don’t regularly share my blog with anyone (there are now only 3 personal friends who know about it).  I just write. I feel like sharing my blog with just strangers is easier, more comfortable.  I often wonder, if I knew who my audience was… Would I write different?  Writing just to write is enjoyable for me… no purpose, no agenda… just thoughts on a piece of paper (or a screen).

And so today I write…

“Writing is an exploration. You start from nothing and learn as you go.”  ~ E.L. Doctorow

That is what I like to do, just start with a simple thought and create it as I go. And when that quote mentions learning… boy do I!! When I write in my own personal hand-written journals it is often during a real high or a real low, never the mundane. When I am writing when I am upset I very often, and most likely, learn from it.  It is as if I am bouncing ideas off someone else and hearing my point of view from another angle…it always helps me… not always right away, but always eventually. I eventually have an enlightening moment that helps me through the struggle.

Today it is raining. I am in the quiet of my home before my teenage son and my husband return home, bringing with them the stories and the chatter of a busy day.  For now I am content.  Content with the thought of opening myself up just a bit more and letting others into this often crazy mind of mine.  I have a lot of ideas, a lot of thoughts… Today I got lost for a moment. But for now, I am feeling renewed, for now I will just share this way… My way. It feels good.

“As a single footstep will not make a path on the earth, so a single thought will not make a pathway in the mind. To make a deep physical path, we walk again and again. To make a deep mental path, we must think over and over the kind of thoughts we wish to dominate our lives.”      ~ Henry David Thoreau


Questioning Everything ~ part II

Searching within yourself is a healthy step in maturing, this I believe. But what happens when digging deep, finding the things you have to work on personally, are all only part of the puzzle in healing?  What if you feel wronged and you want to set it right?  I question if I’m what I’ve heard referred to as a “right fighter”… am I afraid to be wrong? Am I not looking deep enough inside of me to see all the faults within myself that led me to feeling this way?

Our family has been through a lot in the last 9 years.  I am well aware that it is all relevant to what one would consider “a lot”.  But no other person can judge what “a lot” is to another.

It began with hip surgery.  My husband was in constant pain with severe arthritis in his hips and knees.  As a young family I can recall the five of us being on a trail in the woods when he would just stop mid-trail and cling to a tree. The pain was unbearable by the time surgery rolled around, but he would trudge through work and life with a smile on his face, pleasing his employers, his children and me, his wife, on a daily basis.  Surgery, for me, was a hope for better days.  This was my first experience with any type of surgery of a loved one and it was terrifying. The young mother of 3 children and a husband going under the knife.  My husband can often be a rationalist, he thinks of real things that ‘could’ happen in every situation and applies them and worries about them. I work very hard to keep him positive and seeing the bright side of things, keeping hope and faith at the forefront, but this takes exceptional energy in often high stress times.

We made it through his hip surgery fine. His rehab was difficult, but we made it through, learning things about ourselves and life with every moment.  The time my husband had to take off of work was trying, he is not given medical time so he had saved up his vacation time to have the surgery done, allowing no time off before or after the surgery for his own relaxation.  We embraced this and tried to find joy in having him home even if it did consist of countless trips to physical therapy, cleaning the incision and multiple daily ice treatments.  As a family we worked together to make it all okay.  He returned to light work after about 6 weeks recovery. We had scheduled the surgery for August as I work for our local school district and have the summers off. I did have to take the first few days of school off in order to continue his care at home, this was 9 years ago and a brand new position for me at the time.

Fast forward two years and my husband has been cleared for all athletics on his new hip. He heads to open gym during the kids February school vacation week for some pick up basketball.  I am home making dinner. My oldest son calls, the fear in his voice instantly frightens me. He says I need to come right away, “it’s dad.” I arrive to find my husband on the floor and the ambulance on the way.  What had just happened would not become fully clear to us until in the ER room when the word “surgery” came out of the doctors mouth.  We had felt we were finally in a place of normalcy since his first surgery, he was established again at work and was becoming strong after all his physical therapy to build up the muscles in his leg.  What had happened that day was a ruptured patella tendon. The patella tendon is the elastic tendon that connects the knee cap to the top of your tibia (shin bone)… this tendon had ruptured, completely ripped off, let go… his knee cap was floating in his upper thigh. The pain was excruciating but the look on my husband’s face when the doctor told him this was a disabling injury and would require surgery to regain full knee function, that was hard to watch.  We were looking at another surgery with being completely immobilized after surgery for 2-4 weeks and then he could begin “toe touches” bearing only 50% of his weight for an undetermined amount of time. Individual cases vary after surgery, we were told for a full recovery we would be looking at approx 6 months. Neither one of us knew what to do with this news, it was devastating. Yet, staying positive and finding the bright side we knew he had a fixable problem, we had a light at the end of the tunnel to focus on, the tunnel was just feeling   r e a l l y   long.  We would be okay.

I did not return to work that year. Between all the travel, taking care of the kids, being my husband’s home health aid, and all the other responsibilities that come along with just raising a family through a tragic situation I could not return to work.  We also had a dispute going with my husbands employer about the insurance and his time off to recover.  They were not going to support us through this financially and we had a good case showing that even though this did not happen on the job, that it was caused by “jumper’s knee” also known as “trucker’s knee”… caused by wear and tear to the tissues of the knee of years of jumping in and out of trucks.  I presented them with all of this not intending to make a threat, but to help support our family through a difficult time when in fact my husband had dedicated 20 years of service to their company without as much as a sick day.  After weeks of negotiations and hard work to plead our case, they heard us and they ended up giving him full pay and kept him on the health insurance.  I was continually supported amazingly by my school community and both my husband and I were supported fully by our family and our entire community!! It was a difficult recovery, but we made it through.

We were on our feet again, literally… back to work, normalcy was on the front door step.  The difficulty plagued us with the fact that my husbands hard earned 5 weeks vacation had to be used up yet again for health reasons, so he was constantly working it seemed… either working at home or at therapy to get better and strong enough to go back to work, or working at work to prove himself loyal again.  Either way it was work.  Summer came and he was due for a routine physical.  His primary doctor referred him to have a stress test on his heart in the coming weeks, we were pretty naive to what this meant at the time. Just a referral to see another doctor… well, we went off for this test and by that night he was admitted into the hospital for surgery on his heart.  He had blockages in his heart that needed repair. It all happened so fast. Fear and anxiety set in again. I could not return to school at the start of the year as this happened the week prior to my return. I missed the first few days of school. But we got through it.

Fast forward one more year… recovery from his ailments were all on schedule. He was doing well and we were all moving forward.  It’s summer again, August, me and the kids are on summer vacation from school.  My husband has no vacation time due to having used it and still trying to earn it back.  I decide to take the kids camping with some friends, they deserve to get away. My husband was scheduled to join us for the last weekend we were away.  We had camped in New Hampshire with friends and then were moving camp down to Massachusetts to another favorite campground of ours for the remainder of the week. On our drive south we were loaded with camping gear. The job of traveling with my 3 children alone was taking a tole, I remember feeling discouraged and disappointed that after all we had gone through that we weren’t all deserving enough of my husband being with us on this vacation. We were heading south bound in the fast lane, I had pulled back from the rest of our group because I remember consciously thinking that I didn’t like what it felt like to caravan with others, trying to keep up and trying to keep sight of them felt like too much work.  The kids were all watching a movie. We were traveling at approx 70-75 miles per hour with heavy traffic moving at this speed.  All I remember is her sudden movement… the woman in the car next to me suddenly and abruptly grabbed her steering wheel and shanked her wheel to the left, forcefully driving the front end of her small white car into the front end of our minivan.  We spun sideways, hitting the guardrail to our left and veering off into the center of oncoming traffic. We were left sideways on the 3 lanes highway with cars lined up with nowhere to go, it was an absolute miracle none of those cars hit is broadside as we came across the lanes.  My children were amazing… my oldest son kept control and made sure everyone was okay.  For the most part we were all physically okay, they towed our van away and we proceeded with getting a rental van and on to the campsite.  My husband still didn’t feel he could leave work, due to still trying to build up trust and understanding with his company after his needed time off.  With lots of emotional recovery in the months to come, we made it through that one too!! This also happened in August, but I made it to work for the first day of school.

Fast forward two year, it’s August. Our oldest is away at college now, we have a new foster daughter who had moved in in June.  We were on the brink of a new school year. My husband gets a respritory infection due to trying to clean mold in our upstairs bathroom.  He got very sick and had a terrible cough. The excessive coughing led him to an inguinal hernia and needed surgery that summer.  He had a successful surgery and a pretty speedy recovery.  Just as he was getting better I began to have some stomach pains.  It actually began one night as chest pains that landed me in the ER.  My heart was checked out and I was sent home with inconclusive results.  I continued to have the pain for the next couple of days, I sat through school meetings for our foster daughter who would begin school at our high school in the fall with this unexplained pain.  I dealt with it until I couldn’t anymore… I returned to the ER one night when I just couldn’t bear it and I ended up in emergency surgery that next morning to remove my gall bladder.  I was only days from the start of school and had to miss the first two due to my recovery time. We made it through that one too!

That actually leads us to today. So in fact that story spans over a period of 9 years. We have honestly felt like we haven’t caught our breath in 9 years.  Right when we seem to… the next wave hits.  I would say we are pretty resilient. Through all of this adversity we have cared for three other children in our home besides our own.  We honestly have smiled through it all.  We have put our oldest through 3 years of college and are ready to send our next off this coming fall. We are proud of ourselves.

When I question everything … I mean that I have worked hard to look deep within me to understand where others are coming from in all aspects of my life. I try to find empathy and sympathy for the people I come in contact with.  Are they honoring me with the same?

Last year I was questioned at work by my supervisor (not my direct boss) for things that I felt were unfair.  Although, I’m sure she feels like her picking up the slack while I wasn’t around for all of those times was unfair… but isn’t the truth just that life is unfair?  Can’t we all just agree on that?  I was accused of  “taking advantage of her kindness”.  Taking advantage of her kindness??  Seriously?  I do not take advantage of anything! After 9 years of working together, I guess I felt like she would know me well enough to know that. I give 100% to whatever it is that is in front of me in that very moment. Most of the time that is my family.  I try to be helpful to those in need, I dedicate myself to projects that are driven by my passions…not everyone in my life feels like I give them the attention they need,  I have lost friendships due to this.  I have very strong priorities.  My family is and always will be my first priority.  I have loyalty to my job and my employer, I work hard every moment I am there, but when I cannot be there I wish to be respected for the reasons why.  I happen to be home sick this week with viral bronchitis, I have missed 3 days of work from school, I do not remember the last time I was knocked down this hard. All I feel is guilt.  I have allotted medical days that I am entitled to use if I need them, I have two scheduled for next week to take my husband away for yet another heart doctor appointment, this makes the timing of this illness for me even harder.  The other days used this year were for caring for my family members in ways of appointments or caring for them at home.  I have been agonizing over having to take this time off hearing my supervisors voice over and over in my head about taking excessive time.  I have never gone over my allotted days (with the exception of the year I stayed home for the remainder of the year to care for my husband) despite all that we’ve gone through.  I feel I deserve respect.

My husband and I work exceptionally hard at our jobs and in our family life. We are both faced with feelings of being “on probation” at work for things in our life that were out of our control.  I feel like this should be noticed, but does that make me a “right fighter”? It bothers me daily that I am accused of things that I have not intentionally done ‘to’ anyone, they were just unfortunate circumstances that led us to today. Shouldn’t others try to see things from another’s point of view? I have learned this in my own life and I really wish others would also.