Monday, May 20, 2013

Savor the Moment

Deal with it folks!  Truth be known, I get teary at a good Mc Donalds commercial.  So, it would only seem fit that my emotions would run high during graduation season.  I don't bawl and wail, I do my best to keep it on the D Low,  but lately I find myself tearing up quite a bit. 

Yesterday my oldest son went off to his senior prom.  I let him skip school today and I called in for him.  What can I say?  I'm a rebel!  (Whoda thought when I was doing my best to cultivate my "Punk/Mod" look while I was in High School, that 25 years later "rebel" would mean calling in absent for my kid!) And of course, since Morgan wasn't around to drive Brenden to school, naturally, Brenden got the day off as well.  (What?  I was sleeping in!!!) It was good to have a mental health day.  May is the calm before the storm.  Once June hits, all hell brakes loose!  Work is nonstop, prep for grad party, family in from outta town, ceremonies and parties!  I've been forced to be still this month due to a surgery.  So while I usually work on Monday nights, I got to enjoy dinner with my family.  

Dinner with the family was more frequent when the boys were younger.  Now, everyone seems to run on a different schedule.  More often than not, when I am home for dinner, I find that it's just me and my husband.  The quiet is strange.  Not bad, just different, and I know that we are a family in the midst of transition.   

I'm not going to be one of those mothers who clings, while her children are trying to spread their wings.  I want them to spread their wings.  I want them to be independent.  I want them to be confident.  I want them to be self sufficient.  But when they do find themselves challenged,  I also want them to come to me for advice.  I want them to save some time for me, even in the midst of their busy lives.  I've been successful so far.  I like my kids. I enjoy spending time with them!  I like the adults they are becoming. I think my husband and I have done a good job!  Yeah, mistakes along the way, but overall, a good job.  Besides, mistakes are good fodder for blog entries!

 Tonight was one of those nights when we fell into a natural rhythm.  Nothing special.  We grilled. We Had the I pod dock in the window and Pandora playing country.  Everyone lingered around the table.  There was a song request which forced us to resort to You Tube.  We took turns in rotation playing each of our favorites.  Conversation was relaxed and lively.  Nobody rushed to go in, nobody had to be anywhere.  And I savored every moment!  When the day comes that they are not so available to me, I'll miss it.  

I expect there will be more tears shed in the coming month.  On a positive note, I probably won't have a lot of time to sit and let my thoughts linger!  No tears shed tonight, however.  Tonight I simply enjoyed the evening for what it was...and savored it!  

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Soul Food

Summer is coming, and of course my mind wanders north of the 45th parallel.  Soul food!  That's where my head is.  No, not catfish!  Not that kind of soul food.  The kind that nourishes, and refreshes your spirit!  Where exactly north of the 45th am I?  Cheboygan, Michigan.  Cheyboygan is the "Big City", if you ever find yourself in the "Tip of the Mitt".  But for those of us who are trapped in suburban sprawl, it's a small town getaway. 

 Along Main Street is a bookstore.  It doesn't have a Starbucks in it.  It's not home to a children's section with a jungle gym and puppet theater.  If they don't have a book, they can't check stock online to see if the store in Petosky has a copy, because there is no store in Petosky!  It's small, and independently owned.  What is does have are creaky old floors and bookshelves assembled in a garage or basement.  It has tin ceilings painted white, and a clerk behind the counter who can tell a townie from a snowbird or tourist.  Whenever I am out of town I try to pick up a book on the history of the area, or the novel of a local author.  I'll putz around for an hour or so, people watching, and browsing the shelves.  But I've only whet my appetite.  I'm still hungry! 

 I cross the street (jaywalk!) and head down a couple of blocks to the local ice cream shop.  Wire chairs with hearts covered in red vinyl on the back are arranged around tables.  The theme is pink and white throughout.  Waiting behind a weary family who has just come in from a day on the boat gives me time to contemplate my choices.  Superman?  No, I had that last time.  Traverse City Cherry?  Naw!  Too sweet.  Beartracks!!!  I'm up north, I should get Beartracks!  I finally decide on an old standby, Mint Chocolate Chip.  You can never go wrong with Mint Chocolate Chip!  If I'm with the rest of my family, I'll take a taste of everyone's cone just to confirm my choice. Yes.  I had made the right decision!  My soul is grinning!!

I head back out and cross the street.  My destination?  A bench on the edge of the river.  Book in hand.  Ice cream cone dripping down my chin, (I knew I should have grabbed a few more napkins) I find an open bench in the late afternoon sun of a July afternoon.  I plant myself, taking in the sights and sounds of boaters coming in after a day out on Lake Huron.  I wave.  They wave.  I take my flip flops off so that I can feel the cool grass beneath my feet.  The sound of the water lapping against the dock mixes with the distant sounds of traffic on Main.  My appetite has been satisfied!  This, my friends, is soul food!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Here I am again.  

It's been a while.  I haven't wanted to get on here, until now.  I've been on a journey of sorts (Without trying to sound all philosophical). It's been a very personal journey of self discovery.  If I were to look back, I think I may have begun my journey when I started this blog.  I started this for me, nobody else.  It was meant to be cathartic. What I've been dealing with has been too personal, to intense to share here.  But I'm back.  And in control of my life.  

So, let's catch up, shall we?  Where has my journey taken me?  Well, I've made some changes.  Positive changes.  I've lost 100 lbs.  I've made a lifestyle change to a paleo diet.  (a work in progress)  I used to hate the gym!  I've grown to love it.  It has been a constant in a battle against depression.  A time solely for me and for me alone. Therapy!

I've been told what I'm experiencing is a "Mid Life Crisis".  My well meaning girlfriend suggested I was hormonal and pre-menopausal!  I suppressed the urge to slap her!!  Whatever you want to call it, I'm trying to figure out who I want to be when I grow up.  My kids are on the launching pad, and my role is changing.  I've been stagnant and refuse to remain so any longer.  I have a finite amount of time on this earth and I want to get everything I can out of it! I want to live life!

I started this journey alone.  Very alone.  I have company now!  I am writing this not just for me, (as it may seem more of a journal entry) but to encourage.  I was recently asked what the most courageous thing I had ever done.  Well, I'd never rescued anyone from a burning building.  I'd never parachuted out of a plane (and I NEVER will!!!)  The most courageous thing I have ever done is to change, and that was scary!!  I saw things I didn't like about me, or my life, and I went about changing them.  The best thing is, Mark decided to make changes as well.  And that is what I was missing most.  Some company! 

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Deer Camp Review

  Deer camp comes at just the right time.  An escape to the quiet of the north woods right before the chaos of the holiday season.  This past week was most relaxing!  Many don't understand why I enjoy deer camp as much as I do.  Following is my list of top ten reasons...
  10.  This really should be #1, but it's the first thing I thought of, SLEEPING IN!  Sure, I set the alarm for 5:15 a.m.  Yes, I cook a big breakfast of pancakes and bacon.  I line up thermos' and fill them with coffee and hot chocolate.  Then I shoo them out of the camper before dawn breaks!  And I sleep...for another four hours!!!
  9.  I have total control of the stereo!
  8.  I don't HAVE to be anywhere.  My time is mine and mine alone!  It's very freeing.
  7.  I started and finished a book!
  6.  Text messages from the blind.  These seem to be sent for no other reason than my amusement.  Mark texted that he was out of coffee.  lol!!!  Silly hunters!  This isn't Starbucks!!
  5.  I act on impulse!  If I feel the urge to go into town, I go!  Had lots of fun when I stopped in at the local township museum to help with the Christmas decorations!
  4.  It's quiet up there!!  I hear the wind in the pines.  I hear the lake lap against the shore.  I don't hear the freeway that is blocks away from my front door back in the city!
  3.  An afternoon campfire!  I love the smell of woodsmoke.  This is a good time to ponder the days events.  And who knows?!  Someone is always stopping by.  I usually end up with a visitor. 
  2.  By the afternoon fire, some hot chocolate with Dr. Migillicuddy's peppermint schnapps.  (strictly for medicinal purposes!) 
  1.  When my crew comes home!!!!  After a quiet day, I rejoice in the noise and commotion of having all of my boys back from their blinds.  Love to hear their stories of the day.  Feed them dinner and settle in for a movie! Pasties, pie, hot coco.  I get to warm them up and take care of them.  Lots of guys go off to camp to escape their family, mine makes it all  about family, and I get to go too!!
Seriously, what's not to love about deer camp?

Saturday, November 5, 2011

PLEASE! Be Patient with the Clown.

  I need an outlet to grumble a bit.  Bear with me.  In my professional life, I work with children.  I love what I do!!  Kids, (without the interference of adults) are for the most part, very well behaved.  However, many times when you witness the occasional temper tantrum, it all makes sense after you meet the parents.  In fact, the parents are usually more poorly behaved than the children!
  Let me give a "hypothetical".  Say for instance I was clowning and making balloons for a line of children waiting for Santa.  The venue is paying me to make balloons ONLY for the line of children.  The premise being that this would help time pass in the excruciatingly long line for Santa.  I had been given  probably would have been given instructions to keep the line within the roped off area so as to not create a fire hazard and block isle ways.  To make a balloon for EVERYONE that walked up would be CHAOS!!!  As it was I can imagine it would be difficult just to keep up with the line of kids waiting to see Santa, never mind every shopper who sauntered on up.  I'm sure Santa is very efficient in moving through the line and a clown would really have to hustle!  
  Imagine then, that a father walks up requesting a balloon for little Susie. Little Susie is afraid of Santa and the family has chosen to not wait in line.  There is probably a line a mile long, looking at me expectantly, waiting for a balloon, and annoyed with the dad who walked right up...cutting in front of them (on my side of the fore mentioned roped off area).  I'm sure I would have gently explained that I am there to make balloons only for those in line (upon the instruction of those paying for my services), and I would have apologized, as I did to the previous 10 people who walked up and asked the same question within the last 1/2 hour.  Imagine if the parent in question became angry, and complained that the venue ought to provide entertainment for those afraid to see Santa.  This I would find surprising because, for one, events like these DO provide other entertainment! Like say...fireworks, bell ringers, carolers, free cookies, just to give a few examples.  And two, this is a free event that someone else is footing the bill for!!  Those throwing the bash don't owe you anything!  Be grateful for the free entertainment you've had the privilege of partaking in!!!!!  It amazes me how prevalent the entitlement mindset is throughout  our society!
  I do this for a living, and for the most part, I LOVE what I do.  However, it is still my job.  I'm not a volunteer.  I'm not a pretend character.  I didn't come out of the womb with clown makeup on.  I'm a real person, with a family, bills, a schedule, and other events I need to get to in a timely manner.  So it always amazes me when I've cut off a line for face paint or balloons, (my weekends are always double or triple booked and often I have an hour drive from one event to the next) and I get a parent that says "Can't you do one more?  He's crying!"  I'm a parent.  My kids have cried for things.  It's good when they don't get what they want all the time.  That's life.  It's not the first time they've cried and it won't be the last.  Hello!  Life lesson!!  It shows no respect for my time, or for that of the children who are waiting for me at the next event.  Now, I know the sun rises and sets on your little Johnny, but (and I know it may come as a shock)  they aren't the only kids in the world! 
  Or then there is the parent who wants you do do just one more based on who they are.  Ahhh, so I should tell the other ten kids I just turned away that they don't get face paint because their daddy/mommy isn't as important as you! Nice.
  Okay guys, forgive me.  I like to keep it pretty upbeat and fun around here.  Thanks for letting me vent to you today.  I really do feel much better!  I promise the next post will be much more positive.  The Holiday season is upon us, and we're all in it together.  Hold the door open for someone while Christmas shopping.  Give a warm smile to the cashier.  And be patient with the clown!

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

It's All in My Head!

  I feel good today!!  I feel motivated!  I have to keep the feeling going.  I admit, diet and exercise is a totally MENTAL thing for me.  I don't just mean, it's all in my head, I mean I can be mental about it.  So, I've hired a personal trainer/therapist/body image consultant.  (my title, not his) I told him he should use that title in promotional material...seriously, I think it will help!
  I met him at the gym last night.  He asked how I was doing.  I said I've been wavering between embarrassment and self loathing!  The guy behind the desk chimes in with "It's a 'judgement free zone!'"  This farcical, plastic, happy crap can be a bit annoying!  I'm totally in favor of encouragement, however sometimes you need a little push, or a swift kick in the ...Mind you, this is the gym that keeps tootsie rolls on the 
   Anyway, it was a good workout last night.  I'm not Catholic, but I can imagine it's like going to a confessional!  A virtual stranger to whom I confess my deepest, frosted, triple chocolate sins.  I told him I share as much with him as I do my hairstylist.  And for that I get motivated!  I am absolved.  And I am encouraged.  That's what I need!  The accountability.  It's gotten so I don't want to embarrass myself by not meeting my weekly goals.  I've always been a pleaser.  Now I want to please the trainer!  It really is worth the twenty five bucks! 
I'd try anythi....almost anything!!!  lol!
   Today, feeding off the positive vibes of the night before I started a journal and hit the gym!!! (He told me he was proud of me!) Journal, complete with the ugly pics, (the ones that really look like you but you don't post on facebook) and the cute pics of me, the ones from twenty years ago... to motivate!  It's like telling myself, "Remember?  You can look good!"'s all my head.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

There YOU are!

  I think God has been trying to teach me something.  Naw, I know he's been teaching me something.  Humility is a theme that keeps popping up again and again!  It's the character trait I admire most.  A product of humility is putting others first.  I'm not talking "Martyrdom" here.  And I'm sure not saying that when you do put someone else first, that you should go around looking for a medal!  But when you put others first, blessings come right back atcha!
  To be able to put someone else first, you must recognize it's not all about you!  I once read an article about Tim Tebow.  A homeschool kid that played football (for the Florida Gators), so I naturally took an interest in him.  The article stated that his parents never let him read a newspaper article about himself.  He was praise worthy, a Heisman winner.  But they didn't want him to get too full of himself.  I liked that.  Okay, if you make the paper, it is kinda fun!  But I get where they were coming from.  He was getting a lot of attention, and they wanted to keep him grounded.  Words of praise have much more impact when they come out of someone else's mouth, not your own.  That's humility.  It's a struggle.  We naturally want to think about #1!!  Call it self preservation.
  Thinking about someone else doesn't mean you have to go without three squares, or forgo paying the rent.  No.  Fulfill your responsibilities! What is does mean is that you should realize, it's not all about you!  There is always someone who has it worse off.  I was mulling things over with a friend who suffers from depression.  She told me what she has come to learn is that when she helps someone else, she feels better about her own situation.  Have you worked at a soup kitchen?  Have you ever given school supplies out in a low income neighborhood?   Participated in a fundraiser for a sick friend or family member?  How did you feel after?  I know how I feel.  I feel good!  I feel like I've accomplished something!  It can be a small thing like clearing your schedule for the afternoon to sit with a friend in a hospital room.  You may not have any idea of the impact it had on the other person, but I guarantee it did.  The blessing comes when someone says, "Thank you!  (with tears in their eyes) It means so much to me to know how much you care!"  Because really, what else matters?  All any of us want is to know that someone else cares about us.  So show someone!
  Let me close with sharing the story of a friend of mine.  My friends daughter, Bryce has Neurofibromatosis (nf1). She has a large plexiform type neurofibroma in her right thigh and abdomen.  (In layman's terms, she has a HUGE tumor on her upper thigh!)  She has been dealing with chronic pain for over five years. On September 21 she had this large mass debulked in Chicago at Children's Memorial Hospital. The surgery was risky and took all day. The surgeon, Dr. Mckay Mckinnon is experienced in removing these tumors with great success at reducing pain and them not growing back. No surgeons in Michigan wanted to attempt the surgery saying it is too risky that these tumors bleed a lot during surgery and she may lose the use of her right leg.  Brenda battled insurance companies, and many times we would have long conversations where she had some serious questions for God.  Everyday life seemed to be a struggle, and Bryce needed constant attention.  The chronic pain kept her from attending school.  If anyone had reason to fall victim to a pity party, it was Brenda!  But she didn't.  Oh sure, she had her moments.  She needed a shoulder, a prayer, someone to go out to coffee with and listen.  But if one of her friends needed something, she'd be there!  She'd be the first to offer to help me clean my house.  She came over and painted my living room with me.  She'd always make sure to ask about how my family was doing.  She's supportive of her friends.  And in doing so, she reflects Christ.  She is humble and other oriented.
My dear friend Brenda!
  Bryce has another week to go in Chicago before she can return home.  I rejoice with them.  I've seen their struggle up close.  I look forward to meeting the new Bryce!  Unencumbered by a 9 pound tumor, and living the life of a "normal" teenager.  And I am thankful for a friend who is humble, selfless and an example of what it means to be "other oriented".  Love you Brenda!!!!
"Tell me how much you know of the sufferings of your fellowmen and I will tell you how much you have loved them." - Helmut Thielicke