Monday, March 20, 2017

growth...

Watching the sun creep over the horizon on this beautiful morning, I needed a minute to slow down.

I have to work late tonight, but I am heading in early.  Too much to get done.  Then I sat down.  The sight of the sunrise and my steaming hot coffee beckoned, pleaded.  I had to listen.

It's been a crazy few months.  The clock is spinning out of control it seems and here we are celebrating the first day of spring. What?  It seems like the last time that I took a deep breath it was almost Christmas.  How on earth did this happen?

I have simply got to find a better work/life balance.  Hubs and I both do.  We haven't had time for a walk in... dang, I do not even know. I don't remember the last one.  I packed a bag for work today, I will be there for about 11 hours, I think somewhere in there I can find time to put on play clothes and go for a walk.

Hubs and I have been struggling to find time to just be.  I haven't been in my sewing room in months!  Even though I have two quilts to get made.  I have taxes to do and laundry happens in spurts with me ironing each morning to keep up.

Saturday was an eye opener for me.  It was already going to be a LONG work day and I was okay with it. But due to some miscommunication - mostly on my part. Hubs showed up with a fantastic lunch just moments after I let my desk person go on her 30 minute break.  In the grand scheme of things, 30 minutes is not really that long.  But when you feel like the person that you haven't seen in forever has put something else in front of you again, it feels like an eternity!  It felt like an eternity to me also. And the day dragged out a thousand times longer as in his hurt and anger he ignored all my calls and text messages all day.

I've felt that way.  There have been many times that I felt like his career got more of him that I did. Temporarily the shoe is on the other foot, but the last thing I ever want to do is cause hurt to the heart I love the most.  So... I need to do some restructuring.

I am reading and listening to a great leadership book right now.  And frankly, I need to do more than read it. I need to live it.  I know myself.  I know that I will insure that a task gets completed, regardless if the person it was assigned to completed it or not.  And I've come to realize that, it simply does not work that way.  In allowing others to shirk their duties and picking up the slack, I have enabled bad behaviors and I have unintentionally created more work for myself.


So while I watch Hubs leave for work this morning, on a day that it is expected to hit 80 degrees, on his Harley.  I felt a bit jealous.   I wanted to be on the back, I wanted to be heading out on an adventure. The stars aligned for him, he'd already scheduled a trip to Potosi, down those long winding country back roads, Mother Nature just gave him the gift of clear skies and warm weather.  He needs it.

I have to balance those scales out for me also... starting today...

This has been a year of "ah ha's" a year of understanding and growth.  I don't feel like it's anywhere close to done.

But I'm making progress...

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

i hate snakes...

Ugghhhh... completely lacking in motivation this morning.  Seems an odd statement from someone that has already caught up on emails, composed two letters, walked my dogs, fed my animals, taken care of my
daughter's zoo, watered her seedlings and been out in the snow flurries.

All before my first cup of coffee.  As I am sitting here enjoying it and contemplating breakfast, I know that I should be multi-tasking a bit more.  Frankly, I don't have it in me.  I need to steal a few moments before I climb the stairs to get ready for the day.   I need a few more moments of peace.  Watching the light flicker off of those big fluffy flakes that aren't even thinking about sticking around.  Listening to the water in the aquarium.  And drinking my coffee.

I didn't sleep great last night.  And I am paying for it this morning.  I hate the time change, it really kicks my FMS butt, to be perfectly blunt.  I feel drained and in need of 12 straight hours of sleep, or at least that is what my brain thinks. Between the time change and bad dreams, I don't feel like I closed my eyes at all.

I am pretty sure it was because of the stress at my daughter's house earlier in the evening.

Have I mentioned that I hate snakes?  Because I do.  With an absolute, overwhelming, terror-filled passion. Just thinking about one is enough to make my skin crawl.  I don't need to physically see one.


So... my daughter has a snake.  I can't remember what kind it is.  Frankly, it doesn't matter it is a snake.  We have an agreement.  I will watch her critters while she is on vacations, no worries.  I will NOT under any circumstances deal with that snake.  She needs to insure he has everything he needs when she leaves and as long as he stays contained, we have no problems.

Imagine my dismay when I arrived last night to take care of the "zoo" to find a fairly substantial part of his "nose" sticking out of the mesh covering.  I do believe that he and the mouse, that is supposed to have been his dinner, have been plotting their escape.

My daughter switched his aquarium to give him a bit more space to move around before she left.  He has been pushing at the mesh and has two large sections loose and hanging free.  This isn't going to work for me.

At all!

For now, I have two large sheets of plywood and a 4x4 blocking his progress.  I have no idea how long that will last.  He sure gave me an attitude this morning.  Putting his snubby nose and beady eyes up to the glass and flicking that tongue at me.

Ugghhh...

Tonight on my way home I stopped to take care of the zoo and measure the aquarium.  Needed to get a lid for that stupid thing.  I couldn't take the stress of it's existence any longer. At least he'd retreated to the inside of his rock and I no longer had to see him. Still didn't inspire a warm, fuzzy feeling reaching across that darn aquarium, knowing that he was lurking inside, glaring out in his arrogance.

Quick run up to the pet store to get a lid and I was feeling pretty darn confident that this day had finally gotten better.  Did I mention that this was definitely a high stress, challenge filled day?  Because it was.

Zipping along home, marveling at the utter lack of traffic and thrilled as I was starving having not ended up having time for lunch today, and I'd put off dinner until after I dealt with the snake issue. I was back at her house in record time.  All the while thinking, this daylight savings might not be so bad as it was still light enough to see what I was doing.

A quick check in the aquarium revealed that my nemesis appeared to be sleeping, at any rate he was not out slithering around.  I quickly prepared to swap lids.  Almost breaking into a cold sweat at the very thought of removing that lid.

I did mention that I am terrified of snakes, right?

I quickly pulled the old lid out, and popped the new one on.  And my heart sank!  The only size they had was just a bit too loose, I fussed with the lid locks for a few moments before realizing I had NO idea how to work them and not feeling to comforted by their "security".

No that was not going to do at all.  Thankfully I found the brick with the lid locks and for my peace of mind... I put the 4x4 back on top.

I loathe snakes!

Feeling pretty darn proud of myself, I reinstalled the "red" light and plugged it in.  I proceeded to ignore the demon snake and take care of the bunny.  Carlos is everything that demon is not.  Fuzzy, sweet, adorable, boned...

As I am walking back from the kitchen maybe 5 feet away... the demon snake is causing problems again. Okay, in all fairness I am pretty sure it wasn't him physically, but I am positive his sheer evilness caused it!  Just as I am coming back to the living room, there is a LOUD pop and flames shoot out of the light in 3 directions.  I dropped the water bottle and scurried under the aquarium to unplug the stupid thing.  Have you ever seen an ungraceful 51 year old scurry anywhere?  Thank you Lord that no one was filming it, that would have been a disaster scene!

Seriously?? As black smoke billows up from it, I am rushing to get it out of the house.  I am fairly certain the dog, cats, rabbit, mice (snacks for the snake) and the demon snake were all as terrified as I was.

Calling my daughter... well, unless you want laughed at for all the drama you are dealing with... don't bother. And she didn't have another light anyhow.

Rabbit's water reattached - check.  Living room checked on hands and knees to insure no live embers - check.  Exhausted stressed mommy taking herself out for dinner - check.  I really wanted a margarita, but with the day I'd had... one probably wouldn't have been enough and I didn't want to tempt fate.

So now the sun has set, Hubs should be on his way home, although I am not going to count on it. The demon snake was still in his rock when I went back by looking for my favorite scarf (and just to assure myself that I hadn't truly tried to burn down my daughters house). My boys have had their afternoon loves... and I am getting ready to call it a night.

What a day... Glad she's relaxing in one of the most beautiful places on earth...

Saturday, March 11, 2017

instead...

What?
So... I definitely have a few hundred things on my to do lists.  Both for home and work.

Am I doing them?

Nope.  

I think I am mentally exhausted.  It feels like the last two plus weeks have been a mind numbing emotional roller coaster.

So many emotionally charged highs, tempered by equally extreme emotional lows.  For someone that like their pendulum to sway gently in the middle, these extremes are wearing me out.

Heck even Mother Nature appears to be throwing a temper tantrum as the mild 60 and 70 degree days that we've come to enjoy this "winter" have given birth to huge snowflakes dancing around the Bradford Pear blossoms. It won't stick, just small little patches on elevated surfaces, but it is definitely distracting.

Instead of writing, I should be tidying the house, ironing clothes, or maybe even washing some.  I could do our taxes or even make a menu for the upcoming week. Or complete the two commissioned quilts in my sewing room. I could be using the quiet and calm to catch up on a million work items that would bring me a bit more balance.

Nope... instead I find myself a bit envious of my daughter who is scurrying around getting ready to head out for a nice spring break vacation.

I think Hubs and I need to manage to steal one of those before too long. It doesn't even have to be lengthy or exotic. Just peaceful. A bit of time to catch up on shows, play some cards, go for long hikes. A reset.

He's being amazing with the long hours I am putting in.  Walking the boys and keeping himself entertained. But it feels disjointed, off-center.  We are supposed to go out tonight, I am hoping we do, I'm very excited to go and "play".  He's been fighting a tummy bug, so it's possible that he won't be going.  That seems to be the story of our lives lately.

We're holding on to each other for dear life and chaos is swirling around us.  I know that is how life is, but then I have to stop and wonder... is it?

Some of the people that are causing me the most grief, are the very ones that are living a "balanced" life.  Is that how it works?  Are there some people that are more entitled to that balance than others?

Doesn't seem right, but... who knows.

The newest grand was under the weather for the past few days, when you are barely two weeks old, that can be a problem.  It wasn't.  She's okay.  But it's still scary and unsettling. The older grand is showing a few signs of needing a bit less of her sis... and a bit more of the life she used to have.  The adjustment period is going to be a bit of a struggle.  Hopefully this little vacation will help all three of the girls mellow and meld.

There is just too much turmoil and angst lately.  So many amazing things are being wrapped in a blanket of struggle and disappointment. So many people are deliberately hurtful, destructive and plain mean. Everywhere I turn I am surrounded by people that are pure takers.  You know the kind... do for me, do for me... and then in return... crickets.

All of this is making me tired.  Joy gets sucked out of life when you are surrounded by that.

So today, instead, I am chilling.
I am taking that long bath, the kind where you lounge and read until the water gets chilled and it's been so long that it takes a full minute or two for the water to come back up the pipes for your shower.

I'm putting my feet up with a hot coffee, enjoying the soft snores of my little old guy lounging on the sitting room couch.  Cherishing each gray whisker.  And treating him with extra strips of chicken when he does wake up and come find me.

I'm simply taking a bit of time to just be.  I need it.  I need to block out people that think it's okay to hurt other's because of something lacking in their character.

I need to not solve the world's problems, or even my own.

I need to relish the fact that I got a few hours with my daughter for her birthday, snuggling the littlest, and finally seeing the oldest.

I hope Hubs ends up being able to go out.  I need it.  But if not, I will understand.  The same way that he has to when I can't do what he needs.

I feel strongly that I need "instead" to balance out my world.... You?


Sunday, March 5, 2017

manipulated...

I'm tired Boss... Mostly I'm tired of people being ugly to one another. 


One of my B's sent me that in a private message the other day.  I don't know if she knew exactly how exhausted I was, I don't know if she could feel the pain in my heart and the exhaustion in my very soul.  But I am thankful that she sent it.  It perfectly summed up my feelings. 

I strive so hard to treat other's as I want to be treated.  I will celebrate you, I will treat you with respect, I will do anything I can to make your path an easier one to walk.  I will not judge you.  I will absorb the hurt you choose to give out, and still be there to pick you up when you fall.  Because I believe firmly that in this life that what we put out there is what comes back. 

I will take your call in the middle of the night, even though there are many times that I need that person in my life to find that no one is there. I have Hubs. I know if I reached out to the B's, they would be there for me. But oddly the people that I support and lift up the most are the ones that do the most damage to me personally. 

It's been a rough week.  I'm exhausted. Mentally, physically and mostly emotionally.  I am drained.  I have nothing left to give up to anyone.

If I could I would lock my doors, turn off my phone and put up a wall the size of a mountain.  

I can't. 

Somewhere in all the half truths and misdirecting words there is a balance.  Somewhere out there are people that have the emotional intelligence to be honest and not wrap it in deceit because they know that hurtfulness is not the way to say things.  That you can share your heart, feelings, ideas and concerns from a place of love and it will be okay.  

That simply being kind and honest is a welcome thing. 

How did we become a world where we've forgotten that it's okay to be different, that it's okay to not see eye to eye on anything or everything and still be kind?

I'm tired. 

I wrote that a week ago today.  While I was feeling hurt, devastated, drained and at my lowest.  It's been a week.  There have been important conversations and life is completely different.

Last week, during a highly emotional time, when my little family should have been celebrating the greatest miracle our little Panda's arrival.  We were being played by someone that never had that right.  Instead of having wonderful homecoming memories, we are the proud owners of hurt and pain.

A million times over the course of this week as I have sorted through my feelings about the situation that occurred and been angry at the callous selfish behavior that caused it, I have thought of a million different ways to respond.

We can never regain what was stolen from us.  The hurt was intention... to teach everyone a lesson.  Tell a truth that we "needed to hear".  Sadly, truth tellers with evil hearts should probably insure they have all their facts straight before they meddle.

Hubs and I will never again be able to recapture being part of Panda's homecoming.  Nothing can erase the brutal words that were spewed forth... in the name of honesty (really?).  New parents were left sitting for hours, prepared for a celebration that only one person knew they had "planned" but was never going to happen.  Anxiety was high, tears flowed, hatred festered.

All for what?  Truthfully, I have spent a week trying to figure it out.  I have tried during those quiet intimate hours of alone time, to sort out what kind of person could do that.  And then ride off into the sunset, mission accomplished, pain, chaos and disarray left in the dust.
I don't have an answer.  What I have is faith that we raised wonderful children and we are focused on loving each other and being there for each other.  We don't lie to one another, we don't hide behind falsehoods. We talk things out.

We hug and we move forward.

Love is far more powerful than lies, half-truths and I hate to say it, but... manipulative bullshit.

Last night rocking my sweet new Panda, while my mini-me was staying with friends and mom was having a moment to catch her breath.  I forgave.

Now, forgiving and forgetting are two separate things.  I forgave, because that was for me.  I will not allow the hatefulness to stain the love I have for my children and their children, their partners and friends.

The one that did this... Forgiveness does not change the fact that it was a final straw.

I can't change that person.  Nor will I try.  Karma will take care of that.  For decades I have allowed that person to be hateful and mean to myself and others.  Always listening to the "they need to hear the truth" line and choosing to be silent.  To walk away injured or aware of another person injured to avoid the wraith that everyone knows comes when you cross that person.

I spent years away from my family after being told "none of us even want you here, you only cause trouble". I heard the bitter, hateful words spewed at other loved ones.  All in the name of truth and "tough love".  I didn't take a stand.


I won't say I'm not feeling bitter, because I am, but in forgiveness comes peace.  Mini-me and Panda are going to be our partners in crime for the balance of our days.  My girl and I are stronger than ever due to the hurt inflicted. Hubs and I are blessed with the family that we have and strong enough to stand up to any storm.



Sadly, the result is that while I am a slow learner, I am not stupid.  I do learn.  An unending ability to understand and reason out another's actions, well... evidently it is not unending.

It ended.  Last Sunday was the final straw.  I have warned the appropriate people that I will not be involved with that person again.  That they are not welcome in my home nor will I attend anything they are at.  I started to waiver, until I found out that when confronted with their actions their response was an arrogant "they needed to hear the truth".

Nope, sorry.  "Truth" is always a gray area depending on the conversation, the people involved and the first hand knowledge of the situation.  And then it is still gray.  No one has the right to destroy based on their version of the "truth".

I'm starting to feel this burst in my own personal bubble is very reflective of what is happening far too often in our world as a whole.

How many times do each of us react to situations based on some version of "the truth".  When in reality the only people that truly know are the ones intimately involved and yet, it is still tainted by their perception of the circumstances?

How many times are people with their own agenda's destroying others simply because it isn't working out the way they want it to?

Do we often step away from the situation long enough to take a deep look at what is being presented to us? Or do we react out of anger, hurt of fear?

Does the misrepresentation of facts, with holding of information, and deceitful behavior taint reality for us?

I feel like it does.  I know in my personal bubble it cause terrible chaos, hurt, tears, and almost life long damage.  We can't unwind the clock, there isn't going to be a do over.  How often is that happening on a local, national and international scale.

How often are malicious people taking our fears and twisting them around to cause hatred, pain and more fears that suit their purpose? Is it something as small as someone that you should be able to trust, "sharing" with you that the people you love and would lay your life down for don't really like you, that they wish you would stay out of their lives? Or is it something as grand as on a local, national and global level that people are painting that kind of hurt between any factions they can, because hurt and pain feed on hurt and pain.

I don't have answers.

What I have is the ability to distance myself.  For how long, I don't know. Until it isn't a sore, red, gaping wound that is too large to bandage.  Until I can look in Hubs eyes and not see the devastation and hurt that I still see lingering at the edges.  Until I can't hear the ragged tone of his voice, echoing in my heart, that screamed "I guess I am just a 'step-father' and not a good one at that", until I know longer hear my girls asking "what did we do so wrong that you weren't there"... I don't know that forgiveness can make that day ever come.

What I have learned from it all is to question always. Not just in my personal life, but in my outside life as well.

Because sometimes that person reaching out that helping hand, they don't want to help.  They saw an opportunity to change you and they are going to do their level best to do just that.  Are you tired, down, lonely, sad, stressed, feeling unsure? That person is waiting for that moment in time.  I won't be giving it to them again.

And if you think I will always stay quietly in the corner and not say anything... think again. Sometimes people mistake silence for weakness.  I promise I am not weak.

I'm tired Boss... Mostly I'm tired of people being ugly to one another. 

Friday, February 24, 2017

waiting...

It's 2:24 am.  I've barely slept.  In fact I think I might have napped.  My heart feels like lead.  The worry is wearing me down.  I'm a mix of love, joy, anxiety, fear and a million other things that now is not the time to delve into.

So much has happened in the past week.  Culminations.  The past 20 hours, definite culminations.  I'm stuck in a do I stay, do I go spot.

The mom in me... she's screaming.  Tearing out my hair and causing me to feel like I want to throw up.  If you aren't a parent, you cannot imagine this feeling. As a parent I cannot imagine it. It's been 30 minutes since I called to check on my child. 30 minutes since I was told I would get a call back.  I wasn't asking for anything except for reassurance.

If I go will I be turned away?  Will I be stuck standing in a cold hallway still waiting for answers?

Life is funny like that.  It's brutal like that.

I wish I could be cold.  I wish sometimes that I had the ability to turn my head and harden my heart. I don't have that ability.  So instead...

I'm envious of the gentle snores I am hearing from Hubs and the boys.

Why can't I be a bit more pragmatic?

I should have known when I was told "...text you..."

There is a time, a place, and a reason for everything. I try so hard to understand and respect that.

I suck at it.

I hate that I can sometimes see things far too clearly.  This is one of those times.  Where the clarity is wrapped around a huge bubble of haze. Words, thoughts and actions are dancing around in my head and in my heart.

It feels like a giant ball of sharp glass.  It's painful and beautiful all at once.

I'm prayerful.




Tuesday, February 14, 2017

my valentine...

Coffee is just about ready on this early Valentine's morning.

Hubs is still snoring softly upstairs.  Usually he is the one that is up at all hours, I'm the one sleeping soundly.

Here it is Valentine's Day and I am feeling decidedly like a failure in the romance department. I always thought I was a romantic until I married Hubs.  And honestly, now I know that I am not.


I am horrible at writing down little notes.  I already have two of my gifts.  Because he is definitely a gifter.  I am not.  I am far too practical.  I love to buy gifts, but I do it whenever, not waiting for special days.  The reason I have two of my gifts, he spoils me.

He got tired of watching me haul a huge unwieldy briefcase around and when I mentioned that I wouldn't mind getting one like one of my co-workers has... poof it arrived.

In 2003 he started spoiling me for Valentine's day.  That was the day that I found out Stefanelli's delivers. Now I know my Erie family will let me know that Romolo's is the real stuff and I shouldn't be a Stefanelli's fan.  I've had both.  And maybe Romolo's is marginally better.  But... it isn't always strictly about taste. Sometimes the tie to the memory is stronger.  Two of the most important people in my life have always shown me they loved me and were thinking about me with Stefanelli's chocolate. My Grammie and my sweet Hubs.  For 14 Valentine's day's I have been given Stefanelli's sponge candy.  Because of a conversation.  A simple question answered during a period of getting to know each other and the dedication to not only locate it, but insure that it arrived in New Mexico.  A beacon of light and love.

I got to open that last night.  Evidently it hanging out wrapped up pretty was simply too much to stand, and we both wanted a snack.

The card that he mailed me was so beautiful and full of love.  He's a gentleman that way. It brought tears to my eyes.

And as I hear him coming up the stairs I am concerned.  He's been sneaking boxes down the stairs for weeks, plotting and planning.

Maybe I shouldn't be fearful, but... I am. He really is far too observant and keeps tabs on everything.

While I am running at the speed of light, trying to keep my head above water as I learn a new job, work to close and open a building and also conduct all three major fundraisers before May, he is watching me. Planning.

I am barely remembering to brush my teeth each day.  He is studying every thing I say or do.

About a week ago he mentioned that I was going to be mad on Valentine's day and that I needed to get over it, now.  I filed it away in the category of my brain that said he spent too much money on me again.  That I would be cranky and to simply get over it. He does that.

He frustrates me to no end with that.  I don't need.  I never get to the point of needing anything.  He looks for excuses to give.

So sitting here by my beautiful fire that he built to warm me this morning, listening to the television downstairs as he gets his morning Frazier fix, I could be upset.  But as usual he did listen, as usual he did notice.  And as usual he got me just what I needed but was too cheap to get myself.

My Chromebook has been giving me issues.  Turning itself off, freezing, being slow to open. In fact moving in reverse some days.  My dear Acer and I have been through much since I got it back in 2014, I've dragged it to Brazil and all around the US.  I have written over 500 blog posts on it.  And I have been mourning her failures.

I have also refused to buy another one.

Hubs took that decision out of my hands.  He bought me a shiny new Chromebook.  As it is updating I am writing a final blog on the old one.  It's bittersweet.

Yep, I feel like a failure in the romance department. I am not the gal that goes card shopping.  I am not the one that remembers the minutia.

I am the one that will come home from work exhausted and make a warm and nourishing dinner.  I always make sure his clothes are ironed and he is cared for daily.  I will always pack his lunch (although I rarely remember to pack an I love you note).

It must be hard for someone that is so romantic and always doing the sweetest things, and okay the deck of cards with our favorite picture of us on them is simply too sweet, to be married to someone so pragmatic.

The sweetheart of a man that picked out a package of my favorite pens in a rainbow of colors, because I am that freak that loves fun office supplies, has a wife that didn't even think to celebrate this special day.

I love him to the moon and back.  I cannot for even a second imagine my life without him.  Do you think he realizes that.  Does it take candy, flowers, a Chromebook?  Or does he feel that love in his freshly washed and folded clothing.  When he puts on his still warm pressed clothes, because I have been too busy to get them done in advance.

Do you think he knows in the little things I try to do every day?  Haircuts, trimming sideburns, straightening collars, a kiss, a hug?

I sure hope so, because the reality is, I am not a person that is ever going to remember in advance to buy the card or gift.  But I am the person that is going to be rock steady.  You can always count on me daily.

Although, I feel that I definitely should work on being more of a special day kind of girl... because it does make you feel special, loved and cherished.


I love you my sweet Hubs.  Through all my faults... please remember that you are now and always will be my Valentine.



Sunday, February 12, 2017

value....

This morning a horde of little 5th and 6th grade locusts came pouring up my basement stairs.  They were hungry.  They were remembering that I'd said last night as we tucked all five of them in bed that I would let them help me make breakfast.

They weren't overly concerned that I had not had my walk, that I had not had coffee and frankly that the Hubs was making me a yummy bloody mary to enjoy while writing this morning.

The energy was crackling.  You could feel it vibrating off each of them, each of them needing just a bit more of something.  Food, attention, validation, a morning hug, praise, a few just needing to matter.  It has truly been decades since I've had a house full of pre-teen girls.  Hubs and I were blessed for the gift.  For the silly, chaotic joy they brought us.

Lately I've spent a lot of time focused on the word "value".  On it's depths and meanings.

Many of you know I work for the Y.  Another of my many blessings in life.  As I have assumed a new role in the past few months I have been exposed to parts of my career that were vague and viewed through a smoky lens before. In the past few weeks I have been working with our Philanthropy group to identify grants for the communities we serve.

I love working for the Y, I love the ability to serve.  It fills my soul.  During one of our picture taking trips I felt my heart ripped out.  I felt anger and disappointment.  It was probably the first time the word value started ripping through my heart, my mind and my soul.

The playground these children were required to use during their school day was sad.  Truthfully that is the summation of what I saw.  Far beyond the fence was the green grass and open areas to run, roll and simply be.  It wasn't were the children were allowed to go.  Their domain was a large, dirty, damaged and soulless asphalt lot.  Surrounded with a fence (for their protection?) broken benches unusable and unsafe for sitting on, basketball hoops damaged and laying haphazardly on the ground.  The painted keys and hopscotch long since faded, only faint shadows showed where they had once been bright and vibrant.

Value...

How did those bright, energetic children, the lights of the future not feel defeated? Not feel less than?  How did they feel valued?

The school is in a very poor neighborhood.  Although I am finding that isn't the only place that kind of neglect exists.

I am pretty much starting to avoid social media and news.  I am struggling with all the rioting, tantrums, threats, etc.  I am struggling to understand how a country I love can be so close minded.  I don't care who votes for whom.  The color of your skin does not begin to matter to me.  My only concern with your religion is that I have a basic knowledge so that I do not accidentally disrespect what you hold dear and that you afford me the same courtesy.  Who you marry or spend your life with, again, not my concern, better question is are you happy? Do I believe in abortion, no, do I believe in your right to choose absolutely, it is not my place to make decisions for you.  Do you live in a mansion or on the street, by choice or not? I don't feel that makes you a good person either way.

But value... it's missing...

How do you make another feel valued?  How do you feel valued?

Earlier this week, I had to go see my orthopedist, the darn knee decided to misbehave again.  She made me feel like a million dollars!  The praise she gave me for my weight loss and the hard work that I had put into following her directions made my heart soar.  I felt important to her, and I am sure she felt valued.  She hadn't just given me directions to save my knee that I had ignored.  Instead I had taken her advice.  Advice that she had earned the right to give.  And I had saved my knee. It will probably require cortisone shots yearly to maintain, but that is so different than a replacement.  I valued her knowledge and advice, she valued me as a person.

There has been someone working hard to make our girl and grands feel less than.  It's been ripping at our hearts.  Hubs and I have felt powerless.  Still do.  But as my oldest sleeps peacefully upstairs in guest room. Hopefully catching up on the rest that she needs so badly right now.  The grand and her posse are down in the man cave.  The laughter, joy and singing drifting up the stairs makes my heart feel full.  They are being silly.  They are being 10 and 11.  The five of them are giggling, snacking, jamming out.  I will help Hubs clean it up when they go home.

I pray those small gifts of time, space and laughter make them all feel valued.  I pray that the sleep my girl has needed is making her feel valued.

The clean kitchen this morning, the pot of tea roses and the beautiful card made my heart soar. She didn't have to, she did it because of who she is.

I can't help but wonder, if we all stopped demanding our own way.  Insisting that because people think different, feel different, look different... etc... that they are not worthy.  That they are not valued. And started valuing ourselves and others what kind of a difference it would make in this crazy mixed up world that we occupy.

When the child runs to the playground will it be safe?  Will there be role models?  Will the adults in their precious lives value them.  Will they remember that not so long ago they were that noisy, clumsy, silly young person navigating life?  And instead of being the barrier become the bright shining star for them?

When will too many adults stop making harsh, cruel demands that are designed to steal love and joy from the innocence of childhood.

As I was climbing the stairs to cook breakfast this morning one of those silly little girls, that hadn't slept all night, thanked me for opening my home.  For allowing them to be kids.  She told me how great of a mom my daughter is (I already know this!) and how much she'd loved having time with my grand daughter. That her mom and grandma would have never allowed it.

My question... why? I remember having so many kids in my home growing up.  Our doors were always open to anyone that needed a place to be. I can't thank my parents enough for that gift. We learned that people just needed to be loved, that all the crap we use now to determine who is worthy of our time, energy and dollars just didn't matter.  I was blessed from a very early age.

I only gave birth to two children.  As they grew there were always so many children in our home, on our trips, surrounding us.  I remember the forts, the messes, the laughter.  Listening now to the beautiful music and young voices singing along, I realize that I might miss it occasionally in the silence that usually fills our home.

I remember dolls, legos, GI Joe, Pokemon, army gear for the raids outside, walkie-talkies, more pens, paper and secret notes than one can imagine.  I remember joy.  I remember "spats" where the parents all knew that before we were even aware of the "fight" they had resolved it and moved on.

We have to get back to that time.  We have to start valuing people more than things again.  I have unfollowed so much on social media, because I am tired.  I don't want to hear anymore pouting.  I want the people that I surround my world with to understand value.

A card, a call, a cup of coffee.

An honest conversation.

A messy child making breakfast, spilling without judgement, learning those messes are a part of growing up.

Or simply someone to sit by a fire and relax with.

I am tired of arrogance and anger.  I am tired of hateful people trying to control others.  I am watching it on a personal level all the way to a national, if not global level. Boycott this, don't watch that, don't buy that coffee, don't understand where that person is coming from.  The tantrums, the myopic views, the lack of love or compassion.  It's tiring.

Want to make a difference? Invite those children to all hang out together.  Let them be children.  Watch those beautiful friendships grow, nurture them.  Be kind.  Listen to them sing at the top of their lungs, smile at the cracking high notes and rejoice in the beautiful harmony.  Let them express themselves with gentle loving guidance not mean, aggressive, judgmental words. Let them discover who they are without forcing your own hatred and prejudice on them.

My niece shared about watching a truck dropping of kids at school and delivering a cup of coffee to each officer on the way.  Stop hating. Start valuing everyone.

Pick up that trash on the side of the road, who cares if you didn't drop it.

Maybe be more like Gandhi - be the good you want to see in the world. Use softer words, build up those around you.  Hear their small voices, until they are strong enough to be heard by all.  Remembering that it isn't always the child that is whispering.  It might be the adult with too much love and kindness in their hearts that is being stomped on by the arrogant, mean and hateful bully.  Be their strength until they are strong enough.

And it's okay to love that bully and pray for them.  But be strong enough to tell them no.  Because that "no" is the strongest form of love you can give.  It's hard.  It hurts.  And yet it gives that bully the ability to become human.

More than once I had to use "tough" love with my kids.  I don't know if they have figured out that it hurt me far deeper than it hurt them.  I am thankful I was strong enough to do it.  Because both of them are kind, loving, amazing humans!  I am proud of the people they have become.

Listening to the sounds coming from my basement, I am going to say my beautiful grand daughter is well on her way to becoming the same exceptional human her mom is.

Take a minute to truly VALUE another... the life you change won't be just your own.