Friday, December 31, 2010

Lottery Christmas Love

Finally getting to that story I mentioned a week or so ago...  I figured I'd like to leave you with a little gem while I'm away getting some sun.

We don't indulge in lottery playing much around here.  What with my husband being in the business of statistical analysis and all, we tend towards the belief that lottery tickets are a voluntary tax on those who are bad at math.  However, once in while even something like a lottery ticket can be a positive force.
Recently, my husband and I were at our weekly bowling league.  It was the night of our bowling Christmas party.  This party consists of people bringing snacks to munch on between turns at bowling and everybody bringing a small $10 or less gift to exchange.  You don't get to take a gift from the gift exchange until you bowl a strike.  Naturally, this results in the gifts with the most appealing appearance being chosen first.
This year there was the usual mix of candy, booze and silly Christmas decorations.  As the evening wore on and the pile of gifts disappeared, there came a moment when one last person finally got his strike.  However, there seemed to be no gifts left.  But no, there was something left there on the counter-  a plain white envelope, with 10 lottery scratch tickets in it.
The person who got this last gift was exactly who you might have guessed would be the last to bowl a strike and get to choose a present.  He's a middle aged guy who doesn't bowl real well.  He actually gets dropped off and picked up by his parents because he is somewhat impaired.  He lives in a trailer on his parents property.
He took his envelope and went quietly off to a corner to scratch his lottery tickets. 
He came back with the BIGGEST SMILE on his face!  "I just won $100", he said, with much gusto!  Then he proceeded to give us the play by play.  He ended up winning on the last two tickets.  The 9th ticket was the $100 winner and he got an extra $2 on the last ticket.
Nobody could believe it.  We were all just so happy for him.  Nobody else would have been as excited as he was about winning this $100.  It just wouldn't have meant as much to anybody else.  That money ended up exactly where it was supposed to.
He really wanted to thank the person who had put the lottery tickets into the gift pile, but nobody would fess up.  Of course a few of us were able to figure out who it was, but nobody told.  It was obvious that they really wanted to just remain quiet about it.  It was like the person who bought the tickets got a gift just by seeing this guy's reaction and that was more than enough thanks in itself.
The guy who won the money really wanted to spend some of it on something special for his Mom.  He mentioned that he would like to get something like the stuffed snowman that I had gotten in the exchange, because his mother collects snowmen.  He really wanted something to give her when she came to pick him up as a way of sharing his good fortune.  I was more than happy to give it to him.  It was a privilege to be a part of such a good moment for him and a sign of all the beauty that was to come for me this holiday season.

Monday, December 27, 2010

A Little Holiday Sharing

Yes, I must admit again how much more difficult it has been than I had imagined it would be to try to fit in some blogging during this holiday season.  But for all the right reasons.....
So much fun and frivolity, a truly enjoyable Christmas this year.  What an absolute gift.
And all of you that read and especially those that respond to what I have to say here are a fabulous gift as well.  So for that I say a heartfelt THANK YOU!  And I offer up a couple of photos that tell some of the story of how things have been for me this Christmas time:

The beauty of taking the time to use the good china and crystal.  Not because I feel I need to.  Instead, because I get to show my loved ones how special they are to me and how
much I feel they deserve to enjoy the best I have to offer.

A father and son.  Reunited.  Finally. 

This holiday season I have been shown again the important lesson that imperfect relationships are beautiful in their own right.  That the love we show to one another through the patience and tenacity we have as humans preserves that which we deem as necessary to our very existence.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

A Happy Chaos

Just a quick update.  I have been caught up in the festivities, but I am still alive.
We are baking, wrapping, light looking, Santa visiting, and even birthday celebrating our way through a wonderful holiday this year.  Today my nephew is 9 years old!
Things are so much better for him than they were last year.
I will hopefully get a chance to post a lovely story for the season in the next few nights (,after my nephew has gone to bed.)  In the meantime, just know that I am grateful to be enjoying such a happy chaos this year!
Happy Christmas to all!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Christmas Party Musings

As a new blogger, this is my first go round at fitting this blogging thing into the holiday season.  I admit I have not been doing a great job.  Your patience with me is soooo appreciated. 

With that said, I will treat you to some pointers I picked up from a little shindig that I attended this past Saturday night. 

1)  It's never a good sign when the laughing Santa face on the door sounds mysteriously like Freddy Kruger...

2)  Your 10 year old belting out Christmas carols is entertainment enough.  She's not required to circulate the entire party for the 15 minutes between performances loudly announcing when her next 'show' is going to start. 

3)  Low fat, no taste food resembling cardboard will NOT get eaten, especially when little old ladies keep bringing the good stuff.
4)  If you're gonna' make us play games, there had better be prizes involved.

5)  Having Asian friends and then spouting 'Oh good, our Asian friends are here' doesn't make you politically correct in any way, shape or form.

6)  Any guest who feels the urge to breastfeed her child, WAY TOO NEARLY COMPLETELY TOPLESS, parked right in the center of the room, next to the lovely bedazzled and festooned Christmas tree should probably bedazzle and festoon herself as well.  That way, people wouldn't be as apt to keep making those funny u-turns right back out of the room.

The party goers, including us, had a great time in spite of the weirdness.  The holiday season honestly is somehow magical and there's nothing better than a true, good, hearty laugh.  Myself, I hadn't laughed that hard in a really long time. 

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Christmas Miracles

Many of you have followed my family drama with considerable understanding and care.  I so appreciate your thoughts and I know I have felt the effects of your prayers.  While I do not intend to use this blog as a pity party, I also realize that dealing with my family is part of my personal growth process.  Hence, when stuff comes up, I must deal with it as part of what brings me to where I am going.  Figuratively and literally.  That being said, today's post is a good example of what I mean.

Along with much of the baggage that I have dropped over this past year, I seem to have found new eyes and a new heart for so many things in my life.  And the Christmas season seems to be the epitome of this phenomenon for me. 
A few days ago, I got a phone call from my nephew's father.  He told me that my sister had asked him to come and sign papers to transfer custody.  I was in such shock.  Something I had been wishing for, for so long, was finally coming to pass.  (For those who have not followed this- in a nutshell, my sister is addicted to prescription pain meds. Along with the fact that doing drugs is harmful to the act of raising children, she also got into some deep trouble with how she obtained said drugs, resulting in a coming prison sentence.  She has been fighting logic and not wanting to allow my nephew to live with his father.)  Of course, I couldn't believe this was actually happening so I had to wait until all i's were dotted and t's were crossed before I would even breathe a word of it to anyone.  Now it is official.  My nephew, Nathan, is living with his father- long term.  I am so happy and grateful.  My sister finally did something completely unselfish.  I believe this had to be a difficult decision and I know that somewhere inside she is truly hurting.  I can only hope that the hurt now will result in growth and less pain later.  It is not a good idea for me to contact my sister at this moment so I just want to put it out there in the universe that I love my sister and I thank her for this beautiful gift.
Having some respite from the long battle for my nephew's childhood has certainly added to an overall new ease that has come over me this December.  I have always enjoyed Christmas.  However, it seems to have been in spite of many things, rather than because of them.  My family was always good at presenting a lovely picture.  But holidays meant everything was tinged with anger.  As much as I never meant to take any of that into my own life and the way I celebrate, it is tough to break habits.  No matter how badly you want to.  This year, I have spent time getting reacquainted with old friends.  I have been able to enjoy the Christmas carols without feeling as if they are pushing me too roughly toward an inevitable test of my ability to perform under pressure.  I've done things in an easier way and it feels good.  My sister was right when she reminded me last year that, 'it doesn't have to be perfect'.  Decorating and celebrating have finally become more joyous and less burdensome. 
I'm only sorry that the time is short in a different way.  But maybe it doesn't have to be.  I've made plans to go away to a warm weather place for New Years.  And us uncharacteristic as it is for me, I have not made plans for what I will do or see when I get there.  I may actually be able to keep a bit of what Christmas is supposed to be all about, to share with my future.  I have made the connection in a real way this year, that you can't rely on others for your own happiness.  Sure, I always knew this rationally.  But those darn habits brought on by family ties have rarely led me to any sort of rational place.  And I have to admit that holidays can be an especially tough time to stop the cycle, no matter how good I am at living well in other aspects of my life.  Now I really know that Mom wasn't unhappy because I wasn't good enough and I really never had the ability to save my sister from herself.  People have to make their own happiness.  And this year, I'm not faking it.  That is no small miracle.

Friday, December 3, 2010

7 Things You Don't Already Know About Me

If you're reading this and wondering why it seems like you came in on a blog posting already in progress, it's because you have...
Robin of  YOUR DAILY DOSE gave me this here award: 

and I awarded it to 7 others yesterday.  (Check my previous post to see if you are one of them.)  Now I need to get on with the 7 things that I haven't already spilled about myself.  I wanted to try to tell things that say more than meets the eye about me.  Let's see how I do....

1)  My house is the most lit up with Christmas lights on the cul-de-sac.  I'm not a very competitive person, so it's not about that.  I did enjoy the fact that nobody else was really doing it when I moved into this house 8 years ago, so I got to be the instigator.  I've even been known to add an extra long extension chord and throw some lights on a neighbors shrub just for fun.

2)  I am a mediocre trumpet player.  I am still actively playing in a local group.  I started out in the fifth grade playing the flute.  I was really good at the flute, sat first chair and everything.  But the flute wasn't really me.  I wanted to be in the jazz band and the jokes were better in the back.  So I guess I'm sayin' I'd rather have a good time doing something I'm just average at than excel at something that doesn't speak to my soul.

3)  I was a preschool teacher for 8 years.  I taught typically developing kids, and then special ed. for the last two years of my 8.  Preschoolers rock because they don't know anything about what they're not supposed to know or do yet.

4)  I met my husband on the Internet.  Way before people did that sort of thing- back in 1995.  We were both in college, on opposite coasts, avoiding homework.

5)  I love shoes.  I really, really love shoes, especially open-toed snazzy little numbers that remind me of something Dolly Parton would wear.  I also have a thing for cute tennis shoes.  In this current down economy I am down to a mere 60 or so pairs!

6)  I truly enjoy hand guns.  I am a very good shot.  Yet another reason I belong in Texas.

7)  I plan to get a pilot's license within the next few years.  Both of my grandfather's were/are recreational pilots.  Flying a plane is one of those things that makes me feel free.  As my husband finishes up his testing for his chosen career, that will hopefully lead to the financial means that will make flying on a regular basis a reality for me.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

First Award And I'm Already Gonna Cheat...

Robin, over at YOUR DAILY DOSE saw fit to give me this:

Now it is up to me to bestow it onto 7 others.  Then I have to give those who read my blog 7 new tidbits about me that I haven't shared before.  Oh and dazzle the giver, Robin, back- which is easy to do as she's super cool. 

Robin looks at things in all sorts of unique ways.  She writes about her life and her BIG IDEA and weaves in some fun and her own brand of wisdom while she's at it.  Robin was one of the people who inspired me to start the blog that you are now reading.  I would often read her and so badly want to join in. So basically without her (and a few others), there would be no 'A Yellow Rose Of Texas'.  Robin loves 80's music and fun TV and likes to share insights, often using video to do so.  I only wish that I could write as prolifically as Robin, and have her knack to make that writing be meaningful in some way.   Robin was nice enough to comment on everything I wrote when I got started a couple of months ago.  I can't thank her enough for her support in this whole blogging thing.

Now, on to the 7 new recipients of the 'Stylish Blogger Award'.  

1) The Big Fat Gini Blog   Gini is funny and she really lets it all hang out.  I like her 'cuz she's from Texas and reminds me of what made me want to move there in the first place.

2) Loretta's Journey From 460 to 199...One Good Choice At A Time   Loretta has an awesome heart and she knows how to read my heart as well.  She is a fabulous artist and her weight loss journey is pretty amazing too. 

3) Faith, Love, Kids and Me  Amber is a real family woman.  She makes living at her house sound like all kinds of family bliss.  Good, real, chaotic fun going on over there.

4) The Southern Girl Gang Chronicles  Candance, Leiah, Aunt Crazy and Michelle make up a tour de force of Southern Charm mixed with some good old fashioned inappropriateness.  Makes me wish I was born below the Mason Dixon line, just so I could be as cool as all this.

5) Middle Passages  Liza is a real life writer.  She's published and everything.  She's also just real.  Which I like.  'Nuff said.

6) Life In Texas/ Wonder Walking  Krista knows how to live in the moment.  She is someone who also made a move to Texas, so I can relate.  She also touches on many topics I don't relate to, so I learn stuff.

7) A Deliberate Life  Christine gets hit with the award stick pretty often, so this is where the cheating comes in.  I'm gonna exempt her from actually having to do anything with it, other than accept it.  Christine is a weight loss blogger turned 'life liver extraordinaire'.  It's good stuff over there- read her.

Now for the second aspect of the cheating I'm doing with this here award.  I will be posting my 7 things you don't know about me tomorrow.  Thanks for being patient.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

New Perspective

I got that call I was waiting for, on Monday afternoon.  The prosecutor called to let me know the outcome of my mother's sentencing hearing for her felony domestic violence assault conviction. 
The results in rational terms: 6 months in jail, 88 hours of community service, 3 years of probation, various fines, will never be eligible to work with kids, the elderly, etc.  She must pay for counseling for the minor child that witnessed her behavior until he is 18.  She must have a psychological exam and pay for and stay current with any treatment that is prescribed. 
The emotional toll: I had pretty much prepared myself for the guilt and sorrow that I knew would come.  What I never saw coming was the anger and disgust.  The prosecutor took the time to go over the whole hearing with me, line by line.  She felt that I needed to know what had happened because she wants to be sure that I get through the reality of just how bad my mother's mental issues are and how that still might effect me.  I have to say that this prosecutor has been so good to me.  She has taken extra time and energy to truly help me through this.  One particular issue that has cropped up in the past that involves me is that my mother sometimes believes that she is me.  She has even been known to commit petty crime and give my name.  Apparently, the hearing had to be stopped twice so that things could be clarified for my mother.  She felt that the papers that the judge was reading, that I had sent in, were all just things that I meant to say about my sister, not her.  Then she said, "that's O.K.  I understand because I used to be her."  My mother honestly believes that she groomed me so well that I am not capable of saying anything negative about her, that everything I wrote was meant to be directed at my sister.  She is also still convinced that we are the same person.  She has spoken many times about how she used to be me and she is not speaking metaphorically.  My mother means that we are one and the same person, as if I am some part that has broken away and needs to be reined in. 
If you are not totally weirded out at this point, then I'm sure you are starting to get why this is so hurtful.  It's as if no matter what I ever do, I will never truly be my own person in my mother's eyes.  She will never get to see who I have become.  She will never enjoy me as her daughter.  My personality, my emotions, my thoughts are an affront to her.  If anything unique and apart from her is seen in me, it is a problem meant to be squashed.  I knew this was an issue, but had secretly hoped that one day things would change.  The prosecutor reminded me that although things could change one day, I need to live my life as if it doesn't matter if they never do.
It took me a couple of days to digest all of this and get to a point that I can live with.  I know my mother needed to be stopped.  I hope that she gets some real help.  I also know that regardless of whatever she does or does not do with her life, mine will go on.  And I will enjoy it.  To the fullest.  I deserve it.  And honestly, especially after some of the things I read on others' blogs, I know that my life is good.  I know I am changing the pattern in my family for the better.  I will continue to look to the positive and refuse to wallow in the past.  My mother may never truly know me.  I will share what I have to offer with everyone in my life and trust that my unique gifts will be accepted and appreciated by those who are meant to receive them. 

Monday, November 29, 2010

Dog Day

Today, as I anticipate a pretty heavy phone call and contemplate the possible results of my husbands latest phone interview, I'm going to do what ER doctors often tell people to do to keep calm.  I'm going to think about my dogs. 
Dogs are just about the coolest things there are.  They love unconditionally.  They can do cool tricks.  They get me laughing uncontrollably.  They have attitude and style all their own.  A dog can sense how you are feeling and help you get through even the roughest day.  A great dog is a godsend.
I have 2 dogs.  The first one is a Boston Terrier.  He is nearly 14 years old, which is very senior for a Boston Terrier.  He is my first dog that I ever had after moving out of my parents home.  He is the 4th Boston Terrier I've shared my life with.  It is said that Boston Terriers are high strung and this guy is no exception.  His personality is such a presence in my everyday life.  He is ball obsessed and still loves a good romp even though he doesn't see or hear too well anymore.  In his older age, he seems to have lost any inhibition and likes to tell us everything that is on his mind with a loud and long Owwwroooo...!

My second dog is a dog that we rescued.  She is a chi weenie- half chihuahua, half dachshund.  My husband really wanted a chihuahua and I wasn't so sure about that, as I had one that was tiny and shook all the time when I was I kid.  I eventually agreed to a mix, so it would be a little bit bigger dog.  When I first brought this dog home I still wasn't so sure that a chihuahua of any type was the right choice.  She was fragile and seemed so sad.  She had been 1 of 38 dogs in a puppy mill.  She was bred at least 3 times and she was only 2 and 1/2 years old.  But then, over about 6 months, she bloomed into just about the best dog ever!  She is now a spring with fur and absolutely the most loving little thing anybody could ever want.  She is smart as a whip and has the coolest way of communicating.  If you ask her if she wants to go outside or wants food, etc.  She will answer like this-  A slow motion spin means: 'I guess so' and a fast series of spins means: 'You've got it.  That's exactly what I want!' and finally, if the answer is 'no', she will just just slowly walk away. 

These 2 add so much to my life.  I can't really imagine life without a dog!  Do you have a dog?  Or a cat?  What does your pet mean to you?  Tell me about it!


Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Family Tradition

Been a little out of sorts lately.  I am really not always like this.  I swear I will have interesting things to say that are of a more fun variety.  Soon.
In the mean time, I got a call last Friday that blew my mind.  And my husbands mind, so I knew it wasn't just me. 
It's hard to explain without going into a lot of old business, but let's just say that someone is finally being stopped short for something that has gone on for years and years. 
Actually, enough with the cryptic crap.  I hate it that my family seems to be overly involved with the justice system, but it is what it is.  And it doesn't have to make me feel like a loser... 
My mother is now a convicted felon and will be sentenced on Monday the 29th of November.  A reign of terror that has caused hurt for so many people is coming to an abrupt halt.  She was convicted of felony domestic violence against my sister, for an event that happened last January.  (For those following this little soap opera, that would be my only sister who is the fine example of parenting these days.  Yes the whole apple and the tree thing...  I am hoping that this might signal a big change in some family dynamics, eventually.) 
The part that blows my mind is that the prosecutor called to tell me that the judge has decided that my mother is not eligible for the minimum based on information that I provided.  The minimum is 90 days.  It seems that I was able to prove a pattern of behavior, which will be one of the biggest deciding factors in what her sentence will be.  The prosecutor will call me after the proceeding to let me know what the ultimate decision is.
Let me tell you, I have been on a roller coaster of emotions.  I honestly believed that nothing would ever come of this.  Most people think that my mother is the nicest so and so around, at least until she blows up in their face or tries to run them over with her car.  Yes, that has really happened.  And then people just walk away and stop being her friend, leaving her to continue taking her rage out on her family.  I am in disbelief that the facade has finally crumbled.  That someone has finally seen what has really been going on for all this time.  I feel vindicated and guilty all at once.  I am grateful that my sister will see that this behavior is truly wrong and maybe take a look at her own.  I am sad that it took so long.  I haven't come to terms with the idea that my words and evidence will lead to a more severe sentence for my own mother.  I wonder who my sister might have been if my mother had gotten help or been different.  The roller coaster hasn't stopped yet...
As I sort through all these feelings, I am ultimately at some sort of peace.  My family is changing, though the process is raw and difficult.  I know that I am contributing in a positive way. 
My husband and I will be spending Thanksgiving with my nephew and his father and their family.  We will celebrate a good moment with a family that has been waiting for this for a long time.  We will be part of something bigger than ourselves.  Part of something that could contribute to a better future.  I really can't ask for anything more.  Happy Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Aunt On A Mission

My sister is a woman of many talents.  She is intelligent and resourceful.  However, the things she chooses to do with her talents are questionable, to put it nicely. 
It seems she's found a really great way to avoid important court dates, like the one she missed today. See, if you want to continue on with your pathetic life consisting of dragging your children down with you to lower and lower depths, then the thing to do is to keep missing custody hearings by checking your drugged out self into the hospital the night before a hearing.  SIX TIMES over the past two years.
Either my sister has the worst, luck, ever. Or she's up to her usual level of seriously manipulating whatever situation she is in. Just when you think she's backed into a corner and couldn't possibly slime her way out of it, start following the slime trail. That trail is long and slippery...
Let me tell you, this is one of those times that my husband actually counted me down- 3, 2, 1... He does that when he knows that I'm about to do something like spin my head around and blow pea soup. I didn't. I kept it cool. Only because I really wanted some answers. And because when I do have one of my rare true blow ups, I don't always remember just what I've said...and that can be bad.
I spent most of my day with a judges assistant and a parole officer. They are now quite aware of just how obvious some behavior patterns have become. And how tired I am of nothing being done about said behavior patterns.
Although my sister was unable to represent her side of the issue today, the process is now moving on without her. Just as it should be. My nephew, Nathan, will be spending the remainder of this year with his father, sharing the holiday season with his Dad for the first time in 5 years.  I think the judge finally got it when we pointed out that with every second chance that my sister is given, my nephew LOSES yet another chance at any sort of normal childhood.
I get it. These people see a lot of cases.  Many that are just like my nephew's. Unfortunately, there are many kids without someone who loves them enough to fight for them. I was that kid at one time, and I refuse to stand by and watch my nephew suffer alone. I know what it's like to be told that no one will ever believe you and feel as if that is true.
Unfortunately Nathan has learned to lie, that the truth gets you into trouble. He doesn't really know what the truth is any more. He has a hard time trusting anyone. But he is also bright and unique and deserves all the support that it's going to take to get him back on track to enjoy a normal life one day.  It has been an ugly trip already, but I swear my nephew will learn that people love him and will be there for him, no matter how hard this journey gets.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

For Those Who Wonder, Why Texas?

Turn off the music player so you can watch and hear the video.


I've heard this complaint call has been around for awhile, but I just heard it and nearly cried laughing. I really can't put it into any better words than this why Texas is the place for me, so without further ado, I bring you this:

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Thank A Veteran

Whenever I see someone with some clue about them that they have served this great country (a hat, a pin, etc.), I take a moment to ask them about their service.  Some have incredible stories to tell and some don't want to talk about it.  I am always blessed by whatever these people have to say.  Then I take another moment to thank them in a real and heartfelt way, because I do mean it and I can't imagine what my life might be like if they had never served.
Sometimes the most amazing thing about those who have served is how grateful they are for what the military has done for them in their own lives.  I have seen and heard remarkable things about lives being transformed and opportunities had.  No doubt about it, the people who serve the military are unique and usually meant for a special calling.  I am humbled to have the chance to at least thank them and maybe be lucky enough to discover something about their story.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Cool Running

I like running.  No, really, I do.

Up until February of this year, I think I was like most people who believe that running is an activity best reserved for trying to save ones life from immanent danger.  And only that. 

When my husband suggested that running was a form of exercise that he might like to try and that it would be great if I would join him in this little endeavor, I was less than enthusiastic.  But he got to me in a weak moment.  He was recovering from a true near death experience and I felt I should support whatever it was he wanted to do with whatever time he has left on this planet.
I realized he was going to be fine for another 50 years or so, and that this running thing was a suckfest of epic proportions when it was too late.  I was already on board and that ship had sailed.  After 5 years of watching a yearly event that involved a parade & seeing runners finish an 8k and listening to my husband talk about wanting to do the run 'some day', we were going to start by training for a 5k run.  Don't get me wrong.  I am no couch potato.  I like all kinds of activities.  I love dance in all forms from ballet to ballroom and even belly dance.  I have a job that puts me on my feet most of the time.  But running?  Seriously?

Like most people, over the years I had put on more than a few extra pounds.  And the idea of hauling my overweight butt down the street for no good reason just didn't have any magic appeal to me.  But running seemed to be the only activity that my husband was even remotely interested in doing.  He has a sit down job and doesn't get a whole lot of regular exercise.  I was worried about his overall health, so I gave in.

I should have known better.  When we first got started, it was excruciating just to get down to the park at the edge of our development and back.  This one:

Sweat would pour off my forehead and it was shameful how far down I had come from my college level ballerina days.  It was only after a couple of weeks of doing this short 1/2 mile run, a few times a week, that I was finally ready to up the ante and increase the distance.  This is when my husband chose to admit that his family had a natural aptitude for running and that he & his siblings had done some cross country back in high school.  Yeah, I wanted him near death again.  But only for a little while.  (Then I found out that this 5k was really 3.8 miles, not 3.1.  I could have just screamed.....)  By this time I had fully committed to at least doing the 5k.  I wanted to see if I could really do it. 

I did do it.  Just barely.  In March, I did the actually 3.8 miles in 50.48 minutes.  13.23 minutes per mile.  Not great, but I survived.  I had to walk most of the last mile.  My legs felt like jello and I thought I might collapse right there on the spot.  Still, I was happy that I had followed through.  I had gotten to the point where this was actually getting easier.  So I readied myself for the event in July.  After all, 3.8 miles was pretty close to the 4.97 miles in the 8k, right? 

It turns out that there is really a pretty major difference and a real reason many people enjoy doing 5ks for years and feel no need to do 8ks.  But the 8k was what my husband always wanted to do, so that's what we did.  It was totally worth it.  Along the way, I learned some stuff about me and running that I never would have learned if I never would have pushed myself to this point.  I am a stamina runner.  I am not fast, but I am steady.  A hill in front of me doesn't much slow me down.  I just plug along and do what I need to do.  I can get faster over time and have learned a lot from doing sprints just to test myself and see what I've got in me when I give it my all.  Running is about the only time that I don't multi-task.  I don't even listen to music when I run.  It's pretty meditative for me and that's about as close or as comfortable as I get to meditation.  Running makes me feel free.

Shortly before the 8k race, it became apparent that I was now the motivator for our practice runs.  My husband is still faster than me and he would rather run than do other activities, but I seem to enjoy the process more than he does.  (He ran the 8k in 54:34, running & walking alternately/ I did it in 1:04, non-stop running because I don't have the running/walking thing down yet and I wanted to see if I could do it.)  He feels exhausted when a race is over, I feel exhilarated.  I have learned to love the miles that stretch out before me as a unique gift of that day and no other.

We are now preparing to do a 5k on December 4th.  I am now 25 lbs. lighter, due in part to running and mostly a lot of dumping personal baggage.  I am excited to see how much faster I will be over my time back in March.  I am even more excited about the fact that I am still enjoying running and learning more about myself in the process.

Monday, November 8, 2010


Pause the music player, so you can listen to the song:

Was anyone else as amazed as I was at Edison Pena's impressive appearance in the New York City Marathon? Here's what he had to say about it:
“In this marathon I struggled,” he said. “I struggled with myself, I struggled with my own pain, but I made it to the finish line. I want to motivate other people to also find the courage and strength to transcend their own pain.”

'Pena’s personal victory came just weeks after he was still training in near-darkness, jogging 6 or 7 miles each day 2,300 feet underground in stifling heat and humidity. He and 32 other men survived 69 days in the caved-in mine before they were rescued last month.'

'He said running was his salvation — his way of proving how much he wanted to live.'

This guy and his absolutely fantastic performance really got me thinking. I am one who rarely engages in excuses. I feel like there really aren't any good ones. I've been known to say that excuses are just lies in disguise. The lies we tell ourselves are really the worst ones, aren't they?  I've seen way too many people who are much worse off than me in some way or another- either physically, mentally or emotionally (many of you bloggers fall into one of these categories) and I just don't feel that I have the right to cop out most of the time.  I admit that sometimes I come off as extremely demanding. I don't mean to be harsh. I just don't want to rob people of what they could be or could accomplish by being yet another easy way out. I hold myself to a high standard and I'm not any better than anyone else. So I try not to lower my standards for anyone, while still realizing that everyone is different and has something to add that may not be the way I would do things.
I so admire people who do things that they don't have to. The people who really make a difference in this world by going above and beyond what could possibly be expected of them. There are always things that I have meant to do, but never get around to. I think this guy and people like him are so important to those of us just getting through every day life without too many obstacles. They make us think about what we can do if we truly challenge ourselves, even just once in a while.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Oh Drat & All That...

No dice.
He came awfully close; I just know it.  We don't have a grade yet, but I know my husband couldn't have missed passing this test by much and it just kills me.  I was so disappointed for him.  I could have just cried, but I didn't (at least until later when he didn't see me).  After all, I'm his support system for these tests and he doesn't need that.  So we move on...  My husband & I spent 3 hours getting a new study plan in order and we're gonna' get this beast next time.
Here's part of the study plan, so you can get some idea what we're up against:

The good news?  This test is available in 3 month increments for the first time this year.  So we'll get this over in February, rather than have to wait until May. 
My husband seems to feel the worst about the fact that this is not great for job hunting prospects.  I continue to feel as if the right job will be there in the right moment for us.  Remember, we are not suffering with unemployment.  This is a choice.  I am always grateful for that.  Besides, we still have 2 job prospects in the hopper right now, so that's not bad.  The latest word from the recruiters: in person interviews for the aforementioned jobs will be delayed by a couple of weeks.  So, basically, after Thanksgiving. 
That means I know where I'll be for day after Thanksgiving sales!  I always love a good sale, even if I don't want to buy much, so I don't have to haul it 2,500 miles.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Think 7

Today at noon is liftoff for my husbands current nasty actuarial exam.  As mentioned in a previous blog post here, this is not as easy endeavour.  What he wants to receive as a grade or passing score is at least a 6 out of a possible 10.  For the last exam, I felt strongly that he would get a 7 and he actually earned an 8!  That was excellent.  There is always much riding on passing these tests, but as of late we are especially interested in what passing yet another of these will mean for his job prospects in Texas.
Up until just recently, the Casualty Actuarial Society has had a policy of making you wait until 6 weeks after the test to get a result.  Even at 6 weeks, you were only shown whether you had passed or not.  You had to wait another 2 weeks for an actual score.  That was a form of torture all its own.
Today will be the first time my husband will be given at least a pass/fail result immediately following the test as the test has been computerized this time around.  Funny enough, we are both kind of freaked out by getting a result right away.  To think we have become accustomed to the torture of waiting so much that it seems we may actually miss that time in no mans land...
At this point, we have put in the time, sacrificed missing things we would have rather been doing and are not sure whether any more practice would make a damn bit of difference.  In other words, I feel my husband is right where he should be.  He works so hard at this; he deserves to pass every time.  Today, I will be thinking 7.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Can't Resist

Before it all goes down, I just have to get my 2 cents or so in on this historic midterm election.  I'm going to avoid pettiness or any urge to say I told you so.  (I'll just be not-so-secretly doing a happy dance all over the joint!) 
So all I have to add to this event is this: I would so much rather be represented by a closer to typical American, not perfectly polished, not a professional political manipulator.  The best person for any job is someone who takes in information, makes sound decisions, and tries diligently to do their best at said job.  I hope the results of this election can help to get our country on a track to actually be a place where average people can contribute in real ways to our wonderful historic tradition.
If you voted, thank you for fulfilling your honorable duty.  If not, I hope you feel more compelled to do so in the future.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Deal

On Thursday, my husband will be sitting for the Construction And Evaluation Of Actuarial Models Exam C.  The who, the what? Yeah, I know.
At one time, we were happily rolling along with him working in finance at a local natural gas company.  It was a good job, but not very exciting or challenging.  O.K. so actuarial work has a reputation for being purposefully UN-exciting, but as for the challenging part: most definitely. 
Well, about four years ago, my husband realized that all signs were pointing to the fact that the gas company he was working at was ripe for a buy out.  Thankfully, he saw this about six months before the word became official.  This gave us time to think about what he would do in case of said buy out.
As my husband pondered the possibilities, he started talking about doing something I had never heard of.  He wanted to become an actuary.  He told me that this idea had always been in the back of his mind.  He had sometimes wondered if he should have pursued this.  But he had a math professor in college that made him promise he wouldn't go any further in the field of math as he wasn't the ideal math student.    So, being the 'rule follower' that he is, he figured he had given his word and that door was closed.  Not so much, it turns out.  After all, he married me and (especially after I turned 30) something in me just yearns to break the rules.  So, as soon as I knew that he had a dream to try something other than what he was currently doing, it was on, baby!  (Besides, maybe he doesn't churn out math like a machine, but he was a Math and English double major at an Ivy League school.  So he's no slouch.)
Once the decision was made, my husband quickly moved into a position at a property casualty insurance company and began the process of working through actuarial exams.  To say that these exams are difficult is an understatement.  There are nine of them, each requiring at least 300 hours of study.  Only a small number of people ever bother to even try taking these suckers.  And among those who do take the tests, the pass rate is about 30-40% for each one.  So in essence, if you can pass about one a year, you're golden.  This is what is expected for the industry, as many people are weeded out along the way.  So far so good, my husband has been at this for about four years and is on his fourth exam.
Now hang in here with me just a little bit longer.  This is where it gets interesting.  Over time, the two of us have realized some key ingredients in a much better pass rate for my husband.  (So he doesn't have to take each exam more than once.)  These things are not what we would have expected.  It doesn't seem to matter how many extra hours he studies.  It doesn't matter which study aids he uses- flash cards, books, study guides.  The big surprising key is this:  It matters that I stay interested and present in this process with him.  We have found that although I do not understand math or statistics at the level he must perform at, I do know how to keep my husband's spirit up and positive.  I know what it takes for him to focus, but not burn out.  If I just leave him to study and 'put in the hours', the hours don't add up to nearly as much learning and true understanding of the subject for my husband.  There's more than just the sum of all the parts going on here.  Some of the parts carry more weight than others.  And the cool part is that I get to be an integral part of all of this.  The end result is going to mean more because we are in this together. 
So, to get through this process, we've made a bit of a deal.  We both give up some time and energy for the total cause and in the end we'll both reap the benefits of a lot of hard work.  This really isn't anything new.  Families do this sort of thing all the time.  I just never saw myself with a stopwatch and an answer key that looks like Greek to me...

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Thanksgiving in Texas?

Just when I thought I had some kind of hold on what might be happening on the job hunting front- nope, not so much.  After the excitement of finding out that two employers are interested, there has been no word on the actual upcoming interview dates.
So, I do recall saying that it would be fun to spend Thanksgiving in Texas this year.  I meant that it would be good to have Thanksgiving in Texas because I was hoping that we might be lucky enough to get all settled into a new place before the start of the holiday season.  Not that I wanted to be hanging out in a hotel in Texas during Thanksgiving week.  I guess you have to be careful what you ask for...
In the meantime, we're hosting a great big Halloween costume and pumpkin carving party.  Should be a great time.  And most importantly, my Nephew's latest custody hearing went very well for his father.  There is now serious progress in the quest to get that little boy some real stability in his life.  I have to admit that I never believed that fathers have a tougher time getting custody of their kids if the mothers were unfit, but I have to say I was so wrong.  Over the last three years I have seen my sisters life go from bad to horrific and no one seems all that worried about what happens to a child in her care.  I have actually heard a judge declare that a mothers drug use doesn't necessarily affect her kids.  Please...what planet do you have to be living on to think that kids don't hurt when their mom puts drugs before them?
For now, I'm grateful for the important stuff getting closer to a resolution.  I'll enjoy some of the lighter side of life and I'll try waiting patiently for some news on the job opportunities in Texas.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Vows & Whispers

Last weekend, I went to the beautiful autumn-themed wedding of a long-time family friend.  (What a great opportunity to put one of those dresses in the back of my closet, with tags still on them to use!)   I was there on behalf of the bride.  Her oldest brother was one of my best friends in high school and his sister became a little sister to me.  These people have been in my life for about 15 years. 
This bride is very blessed.  She comes from an absolutely fabulous family.  I remember hanging out at their house as much as possible, just drinking in the acceptance and love that this family offered to everyone that came through their door.  This family is not what you would expect from their outside image.  Their stats don't speak for who they really are. 
Upon meeting these people, the first thing you notice is that there are more of them than in an average size family.  There are eight children, making them a family of ten.  The next obvious thing about them is that the father in the family is a pastor of a church.  These two aspects alone make most people jump to certain stereotypical conclusions.  These people do not fit the mold for a typical church family.
Over the countless hours I've spent with this family, I learned many surprising things.  I found out that the mother is seriously funny.  She is a spitfire.  She loves beer and pizza, especially while playing Rummy.  She puts her family first, but never loses herself.  She blew off her college graduation ceremony to run off and get married because she felt that it wouldn't be right to wear white for the ceremony if she waited much longer!  It turns out that this family ended up with eight kids, not by design but, because they had some serious birth control failures which they have joked about on occasion.  Each of these eight kids was given the mental and physical room they needed to become exactly who they were meant to be, not a carbon copy of one another or a part of a generic brood. 
While they are not a perfect family, their kids are loved and have always felt safe to say or ask anything.  I have spent some of my best times as an honorary extra family member for road trips and other events.  It's a marvel to see any family that runs well and really cool for it to be one of this size.  This family knows how to make you feel truly accepted and it's fun to watch peoples faces when you file into a restaurant or campground as a family of 16, our 'mother' proudly claiming all of us.  I've recently found a blog that reminds me a bit of my family friends over at Table For Nine.
During the wedding celebration of my 'little sister', I noticed a few very striking things.  The first thing: Having her father be the one to marry her to her new husband was so awesome.  It really changed the dynamics of the ceremony for me.  This is the oldest daughter and first to be married.  You could just feel the bond of a father laying out his love for his daughter and entrusting her dreams to the man she marries.  It was as if a torch of respect was being passed between them, for this woman that they both love so much.
The second thing:  This one was sad.  There were whispered rude remarks about the man that this woman was marrying.  He is somewhat older than the bride.  He has a fourteen year old son who served as best man during the ceremony and gave a funny heartfelt toast that involved a mad lib treatment.  Not sure whether the new husband has been married before or not.  I didn't ask about any of these things because it doesn't matter.  I had spoken with the bride several weeks before the wedding about how she was feeling during the preparations.  We had a great conversation.  Although I don't personally know her new husband, I trust her judgement and the family that she comes from.  Her family was obviously very happy for her.  That's all that should matter to anyone. 
The last thing I noticed: the new husband seemed a bit shy and somewhat overwhelmed.  He reminded me of my own husband in some ways.  They are both men who are quiet when you first meet them.  But I'm sure that like my husband, there's a lot more to him once you get to know him.  I made a point to go over and talk to him when he was alone.  I said, "You did the same thing my husband did.  You married the life of the party."  He replied in a satisfied tone, "Yes, I did."  We both laughed at that and then quietly watched his new wife work the room for a while.  I left him with this, "You're going to have a great life."
I'm going to ask them over for dinner in the next couple of weeks.  I want to make a point of getting to know my new 'brother-in-law'.  He is lucky to be a part of a wonderful family and I want to help welcome him in.  I know a good thing when I see it.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Peeking Around A Corner

Just a quick little tidbit, because I have to say something to someone about this...
My husband got news from a recruiter last night.  News that means that he should be interviewing, in person, in Texas, within a couple of weeks!  I know this could be something real or nothing at all.  Still, my mind can't help but wander through the possibilities.  What this could mean...
There is one thing that this news definitely means.  I told myself that as soon as it got to the point that we needed to go out for a real in person interview, then I would tell people in my work world that there is a possibility that I could be leaving.  I would do this as a courtesy because in the work that I do, it would be nice to give them at least a month to start looking for other options.  As soon as I get an actual date, I will go through with that.  (We needed money to help fund this little endeavor of moving across the country, so it was imperative that I not say anything until we had a bit saved up for this.)  My friends have known for about four months now and that has been interesting to see how that changes up the friendships, in ways good and bad.  Putting work on early notice will be a brand new leap of faith for me.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

What Is Home?

When I was 17, my mother got divorced again and we moved for what I noticed was the seventeenth time.  I thought that was pretty impressive until I realized that meant that I had moved 16 times by the time I was 9.  I was just coming off of what was for me a fairly stable 8 years.  I had never moved across the country (yet) or the world like some people have, for jobs, etc.  I have lived in the same region of the U.S. all my life.  So all of these moves were pretty local, but did usually involve school changes, etc.  My mother would tell everybody it didn't matter because I was a smart kid.  (Smart enough not to tell her things: like that I had known how to spell for much longer than she had been spelling stuff out over the phone to hide things from me.)  Naturally my sense of 'home' is not so traditional.

At different times, as I was growing up, the place where I lived would change so quickly that I didn't even have a chance to say goodbye to classmates or neighbors.  We once had to leave within a few hours because my mother's boyfriend was getting out of jail and she didn't want him to come after us again.  We moved everything we could get out fast, and ended up in a whole new city by that night.  I suppose if I had come to think of home as a place, I would have ended up pretty messed up.  I did have some strong connections that stayed in place with several people over time and I think that helped to keep me sane.

Our houses or apartments were never great for most of my life, but they were clean and fairly well maintained.  Then when my mother married her last husband, that all changed.   It turned out he was extremely obsessive compulsive and a chronic hoarder.  It is still hard for me to say which is worse- a household ruled by the chaos of domestic violence or the weird world of having stuff slowly close in all around you.  One day you look around and there's just no home left.

For many people 'home' is where their parents still live or the place they were born.  Obviously, not so for me.  I have a friend who still lives in her childhood home.  Her parents both died early.  She is very attached to the idea of  home as a place.  She hasn't truly changed much about the house she lives in since she inherited it, and had never spent much time living out on her own before that.  To me, it feels like that house is not really her home at all, but a tribute to her parents.
I have another friend who is so good about giving everything a 'homey' touch.  She likes to feel at home wherever she goes.  She even brings beautiful scarves on trips with her so she can drape them over lamps in hotel rooms.  I have helped this friend move several times over the last few years and yet she demonstrates the best example of what home really is to me.  I have grown to love this idea that home can be anything or anywhere as long as you have people that you love in your life and maybe a few familiar or meaningful things.

I have been told that my house is very peaceful.  I hope that I always make people feel at home.

Monday, October 18, 2010

In Appreciation Of An Attorney

True enough, attorneys often get a well deserved bum rap.   But today I am thankful for one particular attorney who has taken interest in the life of my beloved nephew, Nathan.  Without his pro bono work, my nephew's life would not be headed in a positive direction.  Honestly, there might not be much hope for him at all.
As I have mentioned before, I am not a mother.  So, from the very moment that Nathan was born, my nephew has been the embodiment of love in its' rawest form for me.  That love that you never knew you were capable of- instant and endless.  This had made the fact that he has to endure an upbringing that is so heart wrenchingly close to my own all the more difficult to watch.  My heart just aches for him.  Over the years I have been known to meddle too much in my effort to save him from the pain.  Only recently I have had the peace of knowing that I  have done everything and more that any reasonable person would do.  As I have  made the calls, written the letters, and fought the system in general I have never had the privilege of working with someone who actually gets what is going on as much as the attorney who has begun recently working on behalf of my nephew.  There is now someone else in the world who seems to be in Nathan's corner as well.  I believe he forgives me for for my initial mistrust and knows that my heart means well.  I thank this man most for the fact that I can begin to release some of the heavy weight of responsibility to save Nathan that I have felt for so long, instead of bearing it all alone.
This is the 'thank you' that I sent to Nathan's attorney today:
I am so thankful for those that step up and do what they don't have to do, just because they want to.  Because it's the right thing to do, not because somebody made them do it.  These are the people that make a real difference in this world.

Friday, October 15, 2010


Got a great new pastime.  It's loads of fun and involves loads of unloading.
As my husband gets bites from recruiters and signs are coming my way that this move to Texas is really going to happen, I get busy anti-hoarding. 
My husband's part in supporting this move is to find a job and pass a test while he's waiting to find said job.  My deal is to get rid of stuff.  (And eventually find a new place for us live in.)
I try to figure out what I could possibly live without.  And then I whittle it down some more.
So far, I've got a primo pile of 'moving sale' stuff going in the guest room and I've had some tremendous trips to the dump.  In one load I managed to rid myself of an old plastic swimming pool, a bent up bike, sun-rotted patio chairs, broken flower pots, a non-working vacuum cleaner, and a dead barbecue- and then threw in the neighbors ruined screen door just for kicks and giggles.  What is it that causes us humans to keep stuff around way after it has reached it's end of usefulness?
I don't have a clue.  What I do know is that right now it's fun to dig in and get rid of stuff.  I like to get some good music going and go at it.  I get down with some Eminem or Nickelback.
I actually look forward to coming home after work and working some more, at getting rid of junk.  I've been inspired by what I've seen other bloggers accomplish in their clean out efforts.
I now happily admit that I never use the bread maker, or the rotisserie.  Nor the cutesy dishes that I moved from the last house and still never used.  I get satisfaction from giving things to neighbors that I know they'll enjoy.  I have fun using up good stuff that I like, but don't want to haul.
I get a sense of accomplishment when I can get a room to echo. 
Ah the simple pleasures of preparing for a long distance move...

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Free To Live

A conversation with a friend, brought on by the story from Chile, inspired today's blog posting.
We spoke of pleasant surprises.  Like the fact that those men all seem astonishingly well, considering the ordeal they have just been through.  I am so happy and thankful for all of them.  What strength from within they have demonstrated for the world.

Do you ever surprise yourself?  It seems I do that a bit lately.
I never used to.  For years & years I thought I knew myself so well.  I liked to say that I felt as if I had been the same person with the same thoughts since I was about 12 years old.  I thought, 'Well, I guess I'll feel and think this way even when I'm 90.'  I know that's kind of weird.  I mean, people are supposed to change over time.  And even though it's true that I was a pretty precocious kid, I now know just how ridiculous that idea was.
So one day, I turned 30.  No, seriously.  It was like a light switch got flipped.  I realized, in what seemed like one giant flash, that maybe I wasn't quite as familiar with myself as I had assumed.
This person that I thought I knew so well suddenly had entirely new perspectives and desires, that either changed what I thought I knew or expanded certain aspects of myself in directions I never saw coming.
I like to think that I didn't go through the gradual changes that most people do during adolescence and early adulthood because I didn't feel safe to do so.  So it all came on with a flood of startling surprise. 
This rapid process was interesting to say the least.  Within a few weeks it was as if I had met myself for the very first time.  Definitely an odd sensation.
Some people were amazingly happy for me.  Others got left in the dust.  I wish I could say I was sorry for that because it feels like I should have been sorry.  But I wasn't.
I was just so free.
Free to have my own opinions and actually know why I have them.
Free to pursue my own interests without having to explain them to anyone, unless I wanted to.
Free to make my own mistakes.
Free to live my own truths.
Free to belly dance, free to take gourmet cooking lessons, free to explore old childhood loves with completely new eyes. 
Free to live bigger than I ever imagined. 
I never knew how small my world was, until I allowed myself to outgrow it.  My husband got a whole new wife.  Good thing he liked her!
So it looks like the winds of change are bringing more than just Autumn this year.
I've heard it said that people's tastes change about every 7 years or so.  Looks like I'm right on time...

My friend and I ended the discussion that brought on this entry with these thoughts:  Do you ever really know what all could be hiding inside yourself?  Does it scare you or does it make you feel free?

Monday, October 11, 2010

One Last Hurrah

Halloween is descending upon us.  That means only one thing- the Holidays are right around the corner.
Now in my perfect world, I should be in Texas by the end of this month.  That would mean that I would be in prime position to take advantage of a lot more sun than we get here in the Great Northwest for the above mentioned impending Holidays.  And I would have maximum time to get used to the heat that comes along with that sun that will make me feel as if I might just be living on the sun by oh, say, next August if not sooner.
Chances are better than really good that I'm not going to be in Southeast Texas by the end of this month.
In fact, I may not be there in time to hang Christmas lights on a palm tree (or even a cactus if I must) as I have planned.  No, I don't care if that's the first thing my new neighbors will find strange about me.  Whoever my new neighbors end up to be, they will just have to get used to the idea that I could very easily end up as their latest form of free entertainment.  In these times, free is good.  Besides, I'll be from out of town so I'll have the perfect excuse to be weird.
Some of my friends have said that it would be great if we don't get to move until next Spring.  Now I understand; they have a dog in this fight.  They would like to have one last hurrah.  Our house is the place where most of the fall/winter events end up at and change is hard to deal with.  So for the time being, I am going to accept that this is where I am supposed to be and enjoy it as much as possible.
It's been great lately, doing all kinds of things that I don't always make time for.  I am also using this time to be sure that my friendships are good and solid.  I will need these people to get through this move and beyond.  I have no intention of losing touch simply because of distance.  I realize that things will naturally change, but I want to do my best for those who are here with me in the now and yet may still have space for me in their lives in the future.  I am grateful for the chance to be able to reflect and appreciate the people I love while receiving their support for my future dreams.
So here's to a wonderful last hurrah, whatever and whenever that turns out to be.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

To The 3rd Power

This post is about three people.  Three unique females who have stories that make me grateful for life and help me to learn so much about myself, in three very different ways. 

The first person is a relatively new friend, an acquaintance who I really hadn't connected with until just recently.  When I first met her, she seemed like someone I didn't have much in common with.  To be totally real, I felt like she was kind of socially out of the loop.  Not that I'm so altogether with it all the time, but she just seemed odd.  Over the past year, I had reason to see her many times.  I began to realize that we have strikingly similar family experiences.  We talked more often and I started to hear about her brave battle with colon cancer.  I really began to admire who she is.  I started to see this woman in a whole new light.  My reaction to her told me a lot about how others sometimes react to me.

Now, she is sick once again.  The colon cancer is back and she is stage 4.  She has had to go through more surgery and changes to her body than I can even image dealing with.  Through all of this, she is an amazing balance of fight and grace.  She takes things one day at a time and never gives up, even when the news is really bad for her.  She is honest and upfront about her feelings without letting those emotions eat her alive.  She lives every day doing whatever she can to function 'like her normal self' as much as she possibly can.  What an inspiration and wonder that I would have missed out on if I would have stuck by my original snap judgement of this person.  I am so glad that she makes me better just by getting to know her.

The second person of my three is someone I have known for a long time.  She is the mother of a family that I was a nanny for, for nine years.  During the time that I was seeing her daily, she went through a long bout of illness and then began dealing with the permanent changes that illness left her with.  She comes off as a real pushover.  She doesn't have a lot of fight in her.  If you're not careful, you might see her as weak.  This woman is not weak.  She gives to her kids and husband so unselfishly.  She uses what energy she has to make sure that the people she loves are truly happy.  This is what makes her happy.  This woman is a true force when it comes to demonstrating quietly what a mother often sacrifices for her family.

She has shown me a side to mothering that is awe inspiring.  I never saw this with my own mother.  To be fair, I don't think this type of mothering is for everybody.  Through her, I have learned that I am a true nurturer, but not a mother.  At least not the type that I would have wanted to be.  I am often questioned about my choice not to parent, with the usual "but you would make such a great Mom".  This woman has given me a more concrete grasp at what I've always known in my own heart.  On top of all that, she helps me understand that some people don't lose who they are when they become mothers.  Instead, like this woman, they fulfill who they were actually meant to be.  I saw her again the other day, after I hadn't seen her in quite a while.  She knew that my husband and I had gone through some difficult times over the last year.  I could see in her eyes that she was so happy that we had come out the other side with our health in tact and our hearts and minds in the right place.  It was all she needed, and everything to me to be loved like that.

The last of my three people is someone who hasn't even been born yet.  This little woman is going to be coming into the world with a bang.  She is going to be born with a birth defect.  To quote her mother: "I hate the term birth defect.  She's NOT defected!!  She's perfect!!  She's beautiful!! She's my little girl!!"  Through the already shed tears and pain that I have shared with her mother, I can see the good that is coming through this beautiful new life.  This baby will bring more love to an already fearfully and wonderfully made, fantastic family.  She is already teaching those of us around her what it means to truly love unconditionally.  I look forward to what this will mean to her mother, her sister and her father.

I will leave you with the lovely poem her father wrote on the night her family found out:

New Dreams
I had dreams for you that would one day come true

Dreams which now may be whittled down by a few

I’m lost, in despair, all but driven to madness

Denial, anger, depression and sadness

I weep and I cry and I come to the conclusion

I need to escape from this dreadful delusion.

Your life’s not been lost but perhaps altered a bit

Like a breath of fresh air I dare to admit

I’m not okay with giving you less than the best

A life to be envied by all of the rest

It will be a fairy tale of which you'll be the star

I know my dear daughter that you will go far.

Nothing is going to stand in your way

I’m anxious to meet you come your delivery day!

Monday, October 4, 2010

Bubble Bath & Spice Packets

What's so different now?  Now that our household lives in active limbo, waiting and working towards finding the right job, the right timing to take us where we want to go? 
I've never been one to be comfortable with the 'in-betweens' of life.  I don't like long engagements or long goodbyes.  I pride myself on being decisive.
So why am I suddenly so willing to happily go along with this new (even self imposed) 'in-between'?
It seems I've stumbled upon something that is entirely fresh to me, and maybe not so new to others in the blogosphere out there.  I'm late to the party, so to speak.
I'm newer to the idea of living for today, not waiting for the right moment or special occasion to use and enjoy the nicer things in life.  Somewhere along the line I got into the habit of saving my fun side for others and putting aside my own enjoyment of the moment. 
I think I might have been afraid of losing control.  Oh how that control stuff can get in the way!  You think you're in control so you never allow yourself to live outside of a sure thing.  Then one day, the fact that the sure thing is holding you back comes right up and whacks you in the face!
I really do try to learn from others.  I've been around people who have nothing and also those with a lot more.  I've noticed that no matter what a person has, you can always tell when someone shares a generosity of life and spirit.  It simply emanates from them.  We've also all seen the flip side of that.  People who just swim in material stuff and don't seem to enjoy any of it.
Over the last year, I've gotten better at letting the good stuff be mine, as well as there for others.  I've enjoyed help when I needed it and a much more honest life altogether.  I've realized that while I was holding back on myself, I ended up inadvertently holding back on those that I love so much.
So during this time, between knowing that I will be moving pretty darn far away and the actual doing of said moving, could be a weird time between me and those that I will be leaving behind- in terms of distance.  But since I don't just believe that the 'pie' of life is boundless in size, but also in shape, I am taking this time to grow my relationships and learn something rather than just let them drift away.
As I'm going through stuff- as we often wait to do until we move, my new found feelings of not wanting to waste the good stuff find concrete examples.  With every sadly unburned lovely scented candle or dress with tags still on it at the back of the closet, I see that I want to change this.
Not only have I recently relished in serving friends a fabulous roast made with those little spice packets I always buy at craft fairs and save for a special occasion, but I've luxuriated in bubble baths while waiting for those friends to arrive instead of worrying myself over every last little detail.
My surprising satisfaction at this particular juncture comes from knowing that I'm not just in the process of changing a physical place, but a fundamental part of who I am.  And for the better.

Friday, October 1, 2010

You're Moving Where?!

Having lived all my life in one of those places that many people seem to believe is ideal, you get used to certain attitudes and assumptions- that the seasons here are the 'real' seasons, that there is only one temperature range that human beings can actually survive in, that here is normal and all else is well... crazy.
People seem very comfortable with the idea that where they live is superior to all other options. 
Then one day, if you dare to challenge that and do something like oh... say that another place might be an interesting and/or good experience, boy do you get an earful.
Now that I've really settled into 'it's not an if but a when' we will be moving away, I'm getting a real taste of what it might be like once I become an 'outsider'.
Apparently, I will lose IQ points upon crossing the border of our state and even thinking about staying away for any extended period of time.  I will also encounter mad, rabid, gigantic animals of all sorts.  I might even pick up some sort of strange accent that could be very hard to shake, like some kind of chronic disease or something.
With the horrors of huge bugs and hurricanes looming, one might be tempted to just stay put and never leave the cocoon that is 'the ideal place'.  I've even been asked if I'm worried that my dogs might get heart worm.
Seriously, no place is truly perfect.  But some might suit certain people better than others.  And there's really no way to find that out without just biting the bullet and going for it.
So I understand that there is much to where someone comes from.  But I never want to be one of those people who refuse to experience something different and admit that it's good.
I've been attached to one place for a very long time and I've only just begun to embrace the idea that I might actually want a change.
So I'll take my chances that I might regret the day that I ever left, knowing that something wonderful is just as likely to be waiting for me.
What's the worst place you've ever lived?  What about the best?

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Every Journey Starts Somewhere...

I used to think that in order to do a blog 'the right way' I would have to start at the beginning. 
So anyone who reads it would get what was going on right away.
Then I realized that jumping in where I'm at is what works best for me and I have had wonderful experiences doing just that when reading other peoples stuff.
So here's a big thanks to those who have no idea yet (I'm going to suck it up and join as a follower right after I write this) that their style and class have brought me into the fold.
This blog will be mostly about my move from the Great Northwest to Southeast Texas, and then of course anything else that is on my mind (my 'most stellarly interesting' family rates high among the anything else...).
So to begin with, I am here living in an enjoyable limbo of having my husband look for a job where we want to live while studying for his next test that he needs to pass for his chosen career.
I continue to work my part time, great, non-traditional, I could do it anywhere job.
We are definitely fortunate in that we are not some of the many that must search for work these days.
I am oh so grateful for that.
Yet we both are beginning to get a little antsy about this process.
There are many reasons why we are choosing to embark on this project now.  I will get into that later.
The important part is that the adventure is beginning!
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