Sunday, June 17, 2018

father's day...


Hubs and I took flowers to the cemetery.  It was the hardest day since we had his service, since we lost him. I thought I was ready.  I thought I was prepared for what waited for me.

I was ready to leave the flowers at the little post with his name on top.  That didn't seem so hard.  It was going to make me sad, just like it did on memorial day.  But it was tolerable. I could handle it.

I was wrong.  Today it wasn't the little post.  His stone came in.  It had replaced that "temporary" marker. It was permanent. It was carved in stone.

Where his stone lies is up a bit on the hill, I had only walked up two rows when I saw it.  Sparkling in the sunshine. Shimmering. I could see his name from all that distance.

I'm not sure how I made it up the rows.  I couldn't see through the tears falling.  My knees were getting weak.  I was in a place I've never been.  A part of my heart died when he left us. I've spent a lot of time making sense of what has passed, it's just over four months.  It's still raw and bitter, no matter how much I want to bury it.  I've struggled to keep it all together.  This morning I almost lost it.  I felt myself slipping into a spot that I was not sure I could come back from.

I remember slipping to my knees in front of that beautiful and cold stone.  I felt all the air leave my lungs.  I vaguely remember sobbing.  It was simply so permanent.

It's ironic, this morning my ring that holds a bit of my Daddy's ashes, was glittering and shining.  It was as if he was reassuring me. Letting me know that I would be okay,

Seeing the stone, it felt like I never would be.  I kept fighting back tears all morning.  The fact that I wouldn't be calling him and wishing him happy Father's day was nibbling at my heart all morning. 

As I sat there in the grass in front of that stone, knowing it was for the rest of time, sobbing uncontrollably my dear sweet Hubs handed me the cross we'd brought and the flowers.  He also brought the water bottle so I could give those sweet flowers a drink against the brutal heat.  Those silly flowers seemed like far too little of a gift for all that he'd given to all of us.

It was so hard to leave. I didn't want to walk away.  I wanted to stay, kneeling where I was.  I knew I had to go to work, I wanted to stay with my Daddy.

Even typing that now is bringing tears to my eyes. This process called grieving is new and strange to me.  My sweet grand daughter does it better than I do.  As she called her Grampa to spend Father's day with him tonight.  Her Daddy is gone also.  Far too young!

It's time to go, the pain today has been too much. I need to balance.  I need to sort through this....

Saturday, June 16, 2018

tuning in...

I'm awake.

Sitting in my sitting room in my favorite blue chair.  Gator has been a barking fool this morning, evidently loving the sound of his own powerful deep voice.  He woke up in puppy mode.  At first I was snarly.  I was exhausted, I didn't sleep well last night and had finally fallen deeply asleep to be woken up.

I was snarly at the noise that stirred me, snarly at my sweet Hubs that hadn't taken him for a walk to allow me to sleep.  I do that for him when he's exhausted and in my initial moments awake that was all I could think of.

I heard a phrase yesterday that I cannot get out of my head.  "We're all tuned into WIFM. What's in it for me."  That is where I was.  I am fairly certain I snarled down the stairs to let Hubs know I was going to walk Gator.  It hadn't entered penetrated my self fogged self yet that there was no way he could hear my sweet bucket mouth talking on the main floor over the show he was engrossed in.

I only semi-listened to him telling me about this incredibly interesting program he found on Netflix.  He was deeply engrossed and hadn't heard Gator.  He was tuned into WIFM also.

As we walked and I listened to the birds and watched my boy bouncing along like he was 2 again I realized that neither of us was really aware of how the other was feeling at that moment in time.  We hadn't done anything to hurt or neglect the other intentionally.  How often do these things happen?  Not just in our relationships, but also in our daily lives.

I always try to look at the other person's perspective.  When I get cut off in traffic or someone is flying along way over the speed limit, I always try to feel that something is distracting them or they are on their way to the hospital. Sometimes I succeed at rationalizing things, sometimes I don't.

Sitting here with hot coffee slowly waking my senses, with my spoiled old puppy boy while he eats breakfast (yes, he requires your attendance while eating), listening to the documentary that has Hubs so engrossed... I'm grateful.

I'm grateful that yet again my old guy woke up.  I know that each day is a gift.  And his energetic bouncing today filled my heart with joy. Playing in the yard and watching him run and bounce is something that is all too rare in our lives now. He and Neeko are extreme seniors and this heat is not their friend.

If he hadn't woken me up I would have missed the beautiful bright red cardinal that I saw today, I have learned the sound of their call and was able to see him way up in the top of the tree.  The sunrise making the sky a brilliant blue backdrop against the deep green of the tree branches and Mr. Cardinal looking like some dropped a splash of the brightest red paint right in the middle.  It had me longing for my camera.

If I hadn't walked them with Hubs I would have missed time spent chatting and catching up, I value my time spent with Hubs.  Even the most mundane conversations have value to me. I love talking about our day, thoughts and feelings.  He's my refuge from this crazy world. He's still hurting, so it's looking like another shot in the back is coming. Yesterday had appeared so promising.

I am grateful for even the things that frustrate me.  Because I have them to be frustrated at.

This week has held some really rough and rocky moments.  None of them were personal, but each one felt incredibly personal.  My faith in humanity has been severely tested this week.  My belief in the basic good in people felt almost shattered.  It tore me down.

A young mom, whom I later learned was the daughter of a woman that works for the Y - a woman I know, was shot and killed in front of her 3 young children.  Because an eighteen year old decided he wanted her car.  He laid in wait.  Stole her life, altered her children's forever, and destroyed his own.  For a CAR?  Guess it never occurred to this young monster to get a job and buy one.  She worked hard for her's.  She was working on raising her babies to have the same work ethic, raising them with love. I wonder who forgot to raise that greedy monster? Would anyone come forward and talk?  That neighborhood is not known for sharing information. "Snitches get stitches".

Another man was shot around the corner from my Y, middle of the day on a busy, crowded business street.  Not in a back alley.  Not in a derelict neighborhood.  Not in some secluded area. Right on the street, a street full of busy restaurants,  a museum, tourists and visitors to our city, in front of several huge financial and legal businesses.  He'll live.  I don't know if they've solved it yet or not.

I listened in absolute anger to a person describe a situation to me that had occurred the night before.  Two brothers got into a tussle, brothers do that.  At the time, no one realized they were brothers, a woman was screeching for someone to protect her baby, to hurt the other child, threatening bodily harm to the other child.  The officer that was restraining said child asked where his mother was, he pointed to the same woman. The restrained child showed them bruises, told them that his other siblings beat him with bats, that his mother not only allowed it, but encouraged it.  That this child was being mentally and physically abused at home.  He'd reached his snapping point.  His very soul was injured.  This young man who was pleading for help was told he had to go home with the very woman he was screaming for his harm and abuse.  It wasn't until he threatened to kill them with the knives that he kept under his mattress that anyone listened.

They slowly learned that the entire family was on medication, and that none of them had had it for quite some time.  It wasn't important to mom.  The police escorted them to the hospital.  Where "mom of the year" summarily dumped her son into the custody of the hospital with a swipe of a pen and drove off, leaving him there, alone.  I learned more of her story yesterday.  I almost threw up. She deserves to be behind bars, her children all removed forever from her life and she needs to be struck barren.  No one should have the ability to destroy lives like that. NO ONE!

I saw two senior men, that had the ability to function as young children, with their caregivers at the store.  I needed a few things for work.  Watching the way they treated them filled me with rage. No one deserves to be belittled and yelled at simply for existing.  Time for a career change.

I heard a man prescribing racism to a young child's actions when an older boy unfamiliar to her took her bike. He stated that the only reason she demanded it back was because he was black.  Even while acknowledging that all of the children in the neighborhood always played together and they literally reflected the rainbow colors of our world.  It never occurred to him that the child simply didn't want an unfamiliar child to take her bike without asking. It was because of his skin color. Hmmm... guess he's never spent time with children.

There were other things.  There were so many other hurtful things bombarding me. This week I wanted to run away. I wanted to find a quiet place to forget about the evil and simply live my life with my Hubs, pups and the kids if they wanted to run away with us.

I was emotionally and mentally tired.

This week the entire city seemed tuned into WIFM and not at all in a good way.

Yet, slowly the world started to remind me that I could have faith in humanity.

A dear friend got the news that her health is on an upswing, she faced a demon she was terrified of and it appears that it's worked! There was news of babies and people that I thought were leaving choosing to stay. A community came together to say no we aren't going allow that young mother's death to be in vain and in 24 hours it went from no suspects to apprehended and held with a one million dollar cash bond. The greater community rallied to support those children a Go Fund Me that was originally set with a $50,000 goal and had topped it with $150,000 in just 12 hours.

Conversations were had that maybe turned the lens from racism to manners.  I wish all of the terrors had been washed away in that crazy electrically charged lightening and rain storm the other night, but at least a few were. I'll take a few.

WIFM isn't always a bad thing.  Because knowing what people need to feel good is how behaviors and processes are changed.  But when it becomes your only lens, its heart wrenching.

Thank you for taking a moment to read while I have sorted through this overwhelming week.  I think I am going to spend this day decompressing, enjoying time with Hubs and the boys, checking in on my babies and getting ready for Father's Day.  The first without my Dad.

Sunday, June 10, 2018

embracing slow...

Hubs and I are lounging out on the deck.  The sun hasn't invaded yet, but the pristine blue sky is shimmering overhead.  There is a beautiful breeze and he's playing soft music while enjoying his cigar.  Me?  I'm lost in a million different thoughts, ideas and plans.  Perfectly content to sit out here in our "tree house".  If I was alone I wouldn't be playing music, but I know it soothes him.  I'm focusing on the rustling of the leaves, the birds chirping and all the myriad sounds of nature.

I wasn't ready to cook, I wanted to enjoy some of the early morning beauty.  So I fixed us each a bowl of sweet watermelon to have with our morning coffee.

I haven't checked Facebook all morning, it's been too perfect of a day for me to need the daily uplifting of all the positive sites I follow.  It's been peaceful.  Centered.  Yet when I checked it I was greeted with a memory.  From a time when I made time for important things.

"the peaceful quiet before the family wakes up, the joy of seeing the changes in the garden you have planted, the smell of fresh brewed coffee... and the knowledge that the day is stretching out in front of you with no commitments or need to do more than float in the pool... its a good morning!"

I wrote that 7 years ago today.  Long before I spent time blogging or working an insane amount of hours.  Back when I still remembered how to relax.  The irony... We don't have a pool anymore, the kids are grown and living their own lives. But I have my fresh coffee, I was snapping pictures of the plants in my pretend garden and yet again I am simply enjoying this beautiful morning.

Yellow Potatoes
Wave Petunia

Hubs is wanting to go ride, I guess we will, although for a bit yet I just want to sit.  I want to savor the scents, the sounds, the peace.  My soul has needed this weekend.

I had a to do list a mile long yesterday.  I did a few chores while enjoying the hours of rain, coming down in sheets at times.  I don't know that I tackled much of the list and I don't care.

I spent hours sitting still in the silence, listening to the rain beating down.  Washing the world clean, making it fresh and green. It encouraged my "volunteer" flowers and those silly potatoes to grow even more.  Ironically all the plants that were supposed to come back didn't.  Yet one single wave petunia has decided it wanted to come back this year.

I researched soaps, making a list of ones that I want to try.  I need to find some folks willing to use all this soap soon, or I will need to stop making it... so many bars of soap!  My laundry room smells heavenly, if a touch over whelming.  There are bars of dandelion, lily of the valley, charcoal and tea tree, lavender and clean cotton, rose clay and pink salt bars, a batch of that fabulous triple butter and of course Hubs'  much requested shaving soap bars - those smell unbelievable! Who would have ever thought tobacco and bay would become my all time favorite scent?

Tobacco and Bay Shaving bars

Lavender/Clean Cotton and Triple Butter bars

Dandelion and Lavender/Clean Cotton bars

Charcoal/Tea Tree and more lavender and clean cotton

Lily of the Valley

Rose Clay and Pink Sea Salt bars, bath bombs and the flowers in memory of Dad

On my planning board... a coffee soap, avocado soap, coconut milk, blueberry/thyme and a calendula sunshine mix. Having written that out I am not laughing in my head.  Sounds like I am planning a breakfast buffet almost.  Each of them has so many more uses than eating.  Different oil blends that soften the skin and calm the soul.   I placed an order for supplies last night.  The only one that is a hot process is the blueberry/thyme.  The rest of them will be increasing my patience skills.  I always avoided cold process because I struggle with having patience.

We watched some shows and ran a few errands.  Mostly we just relaxed.  Hubs needs the break, his back is hurting him so much, only a few more days until he gets the first shot that will promise him relief.

Today promises to be much like yesterday.  I've spent my morning learning about different oils and their impact on the body, the senses and their healing powers.  I am fairly sure I might make some bath bombs, I'm down to two that I made and one can never have too many bath bombs. I might tackle a few more items on that list, as the weather is promising to be far too hot for my tastes.

Although... I really feel like it's going to be a day spent simply being.  In this journey to center I am finding that I have forgotten too many things about simply enjoying the act of existing. I'm learning to be unbusy.  It's a foreign concept for me.  I noticed a couple of times yesterday that I was feeling lost.  Like I didn't know how to exist without a to do list. I started to find busy work, things to fill my space.  After a few moments of being uncomfortable with unstructured time, I savored it.  I spent some time talking on the phone with my daughter while watching a squirrel busy doing something at the top of one of the trees out back.  I fiddled with my camera (that has been sitting on the shelf for far too long) and took some photos. I read and I centered.

I'm considering starting to take some yoga classes, and my favorite yoga instructor is always talking about meditation and the value of it, I am feeling drawn to it.  I may have to try.

I am loving this journey.  I am cherishing the beauty and simplicity I am chasing.  I have reached a point in my life that I need it.

Saturday, June 9, 2018

pause, reflect, move...

Driving to yet another meeting yesterday morning I was mesmerized by a man in the lane next to me.  I have no idea who he was, in fact I couldn't identify him today unless he was sitting in his GMC conversion van, in the same shirt, with is coffee held just so. It wasn't him that held my interest.

In the midst of rush hour traffic, everyone driving insanely, intent on getting where they are going and looking half asleep, there was this old slightly beat up white GMC conversion van just rolling along.  He wasn't in a hurry, the windows were all rolled down, and he had the look of someone with no where special to be and no hurry to get there. 

He looked to be about Hubs age, dressed for a casual day in his Hawaiian shirt.  The canoe on the roof provided evidence to my fantasy that he was simply chilling.  Leaning slightly forward on the big steering wheel, coffee cup casually to his lips, wind blowing his short gray hair.  He looked at peace with the world.

I was in awe and envy all at the same time.

Hubs and I are on a journey to that same place.  I could see us owning an old conversion van, maybe not a canoe, I have an insane phobia of being out on the water in them. Small boats literally flip me out! But I could see us, loading up the fishing gear, maybe an air mattress that would fit in the back and supplies for an adventure and taking off for a few days.  Not in a hurry to get anywhere in particular, but definitely in a hurry to chase some dreams and make some memories.

I am trying very hard to be in the moment lately, which is one of the reasons I haven't had time to write. I'm focusing on the path that he and I are following.  There are steps that need to happen now, in conjunction with our daily lives, our work lives, to insure that path is clear and ready to run down when the time comes.

I've also been focusing on being intentional. Not planned so much, as truly experiencing life.  We are just starting our 4th month without Dad.  I don't know how long it takes to "get over" something like this, it's a new and strange experience for me. I don't know what society has dictated.  What I do know is that I don't care.  Some days I'm fine, others... well it still feels like someone has pulled a rug out from under me.  What I am trying to do is work through the entire process.  And learn from it.

I am learning.

Just a few things I've learned are that life is far too short to not pay attention to the small things. I've learned that in the blink of an eye everything can change and there are no more tomorrows. That being said, I'm learning to be intentional about my relationships, who and what I spend time on and enjoying each day.

I no longer have the time or patience for things that don't matter to me.  I am not going to give my energy to the "users", the people that simply suck everything out of you so they feel better. Life is too damn short for that.

I am also discovering there area a whole lot of people that fall into that previous category.

I am opening my mind and heart.  Experiencing everything I can.  Spending time with the ones I love and care about.

In the past week, I've sat atop the bluffs with the warm sunshine on my face, sipping wine with my sweet Hubs.  I'm thankful for the discovery of that beautiful winery, the view was breathtaking (the ride up terrifying for me) the wine and food delicious. I've ridden along the river road with the wind in my hair and on my face.  Watching the baby eagles soaring high above. It was a beautiful spring day, the ones we missed earlier in spring, reminding us that it was still springtime here in the mid-west.

I've spent the early morning hours sitting on the deck with my sweet Hubs, enjoying the soft coolness. Listening to the birds and wild life waking up for the day.  He and I are both early risers, so those stolen moments are priceless.  Hot cup of coffee, the sun sneaking up the horizon, the birds chirping and singing.  I can almost imagine their conversation, as the sounds bounce from yard to yard.  They must be calling each other to the spots the sprinkler systems have just soaked, letting everyone know where the morning smorgasbord was happening.  Time for breakfast everyone.

We celebrated "Sharing Ramadan" with our neighbors.  I will admit I was quite apprehensive. The media does a great job of instilling fear and concern.  For days I was worried.  What if I wasn't dressed appropriately, what if I said the wrong thing, did the wrong thing.  Was this going to end up badly? Then my American arrogance kicked in for a bit, I wasn't covering my head, why did I have to cover my arms in this oppressive heat?

In the end, I now sit here with my beautiful henna design still radiant on my hand. A far better understanding of Islam and the Muslim faith than I ever anticipated.  And a far greater compassion for what they have experienced here in this country we both call home. Understanding the similarities in our belief system and appreciating their love and compassion. I did cover my head, not because someone made me, nor out of fear.  But out of respect.  It wasn't asked of me. Nor was it expected. But it was appreciated.

I have walked the largest mosque in Missouri, seen the prayer rooms, heard the beauty of the prayer and read the translations.  I have had so many things explained to me and have a far greater understanding of their deep appreciation and love for their women.  And of course respect.

I am thankful for the experience.  And anxious to explore more things that I do not understand or know enough about.  I fear too many in our country have stopped experiencing life, in exchange for a sound bite, tweet or "google" search. We absorb another's view and adopt it as our own.

I guess it is easier that way.  But not nearly fulfilling.

I took time out of the past two weeks to invest in my own learning and growth, and will find out soon if I am certified to facilitate YMCA Diabetes Prevention Programs.  This has been on my personal bucket list for almost two years.  Ever since Hubs and I went through the first part of the program two summers ago.  I saw the change it made in us and I wanted to be able to share it. I am not a health professional.

It was definitely out of my comfort zone, particularly as the stress of 2018 has lead to the rebirth of so many bad life habits.  Mindless eating, stress eating, not exercising, being lazy.  Sitting in that room, surrounded by young, hyper-fit, highly educated fitness professionals.  I allowed myself for a moment to feel less than. My slightly chubby body, my gray hair, my lack of certifications, all ate at my self esteem. But it was important to me.  So I went anyhow.  I fought my inner voice, we had more than a few discussions. I believe I won.

Evidently it wasn't evident that I was dying inside and I did well presenting my portion of the "exam".  It also triggered Hubs and I both to start following the things we learned.  To put the skills back into place and get back to it.  We've both had a successful week, even if we didn't include any working out.  He has a bulging/herniated disk (shot next week) that is limiting his movement, and I really need to get this darn knee looked at again.

But we did it just the same.  Diabetes has cost me far too much.  I should have had at least another decade with my Dad. He lost his Dad to the same dreaded disease.  The sad part is that both of those were probably something that could have been prevented or at least pushed off.

I turned off my phone when I drove and got comfortable in the silence.  Spent time laughing, talking and loving with the kids and grands.  And enjoyed my boys.

Hubs and I are aware the boys are nearing the end of their journeys with us.  Both of them have slowed dramatically, they sleep more than wake and seem to love a bit more deeply.  We are spending a bit more time spoiling them, enjoying them.

This is far longer than I anticipated when I started writing.  I wasn't sure the words were going to leave my head and heart. It's been a wonderful week of focus and discovery.  Of finding joy in the journey. I hope that each of you are doing the same.  I challenge you to make a life that you can be proud of living. We do have a choice.  We can be a cog in the wheel.  Just another part of something far bigger than ourselves working for someone else's greater good.  Or we can focus on what is important to us.  Work our lives instead of living to work... it's our choice!

have you tried...

I am learning.   It's a late day for me and I am enjoying the solitude of the morning.  I am working on bringing some balance back ...