Author Archives: Kami

 
 

Kicking the Bucket List

Friday Letter to My Kids – May 2018.

Dear J, J, L and L,

Surprise! I don’t have an actual bucket list.

two green pails on ground

Photo by hitesh choudhary on Pexels.com

Hopes and dreams, definitely. Mostly the sort left unspoken. Something about saying a wish out loud takes away its power, I suppose. Call me superstitious, or weird.

There has been this one very strong desire. Unfortunately, there hasn’t been much I personally could do to make that happen. That’s an ongoing theme in my life. But in this case the wish, the dream, the desire, was truly out of my control. All I could do was watch, for the most part.

Of Seeds and Seedlings

I planted a few seeds here and there and waited to see what would happen. I did what was in my power to help those seeds grow, watering, weeding, a bit of fertilizer.

From when you were little, I let you know that I thought going to college and getting a degree was really, really, really important. As you got older, and as life unfolded the raggedy, unpredictable way life does, the importance of a college education became even clearer and stronger in my mind. Without nagging, I hope, I reminded you from time to time how critical that was.

Implicit in that was that you’d get decent grades in high school and graduate. I celebrated those high school graduations with pride and tears.

Just a A Few Years Later… In the Eternal Scheme of Things

And now, nineteen years after the first of you graduated from high school, all four of you have Bachelor’s Degrees.

That one sentence doesn’t say enough. It makes it sound magical and simple, which I know it wasn’t. Those degrees you’ve earned have arrived after tears, and heartache, sweat, late nights, all-nighters, dozens of different occupations, roommates, spouses, children, worry, debt, stops, starts, u-turns, illnesses, battles, winding roads, weddings, a divorce, unexpected detours, and plenty of life’s storms. Each one of you pushed through whatever obstacles came your way and you kept trying, kept working, kept keeping on.

I’ll bet you never knew you were making one of my dreams come true.

FullSizeRender-17The degree isn’t simply for me to brag about, or for you to have some piece of paper to hang on the wall. The college degree has always been about the doors it can open for you, the opportunities it can make available and the freedom it can potentially provide. It can save you from a lifetime of back-breaking physical work. It can give you peace of mind and a fallback position. That’s what I really wanted for you. Now that you have those degrees, your own dreams are more within reach.

This is the Part Where Words Fall Short

I’m so happy for each of you, and so incredibly proud of you.

Now my only dream for you is that you find happiness and joy in whatever lies ahead. I’m pretty sure you’ll do just fine.

All my love,

Mom

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Bluebird of Happymess

““`

“Life is a one time offer, use it well.”

 

 

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Categories: Celebration, Happiness, parenting, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments
 
 

I Haz Wurds

I had the distinct pleasure recently of going to a job interview. I know about elevator pitches, “me in thirty seconds,” power statements, objective phrases, all those tips and tricks for how to nail an interview and land a job. But it’s been a while since I’ve done the real world thing. I was woefully unprepared. But then, lately,  I seem to be unprepared for most of what life sends my way.

You think I’m exaggerating. I’m not.

So here’s how the interview began.

Them: So, tell me about yourself.

Me: I iz a person. I do stuff.

And it just went downhill from there. Ending eleven minutes later with Them saying, “we’ll call you.”

Which I’m guessing means they won’t call.

It isn’t just in a stressful situation like a job interview where my brain goes south. Oh, no. I can be in a social setting and fail just as spectacularly.

Them: So I heard you’re writing a novel. That’s so cool! What’s it about?

Me: There’s this main character. Stuff happens.

Them: Hmmm…

Me: Hey, I’ve also written a children’s book…

Them: Oh really? Tell me about it!

Me: Well, there’s this main character… She does stuff…

Impressive, isn’t it? I know. Sometimes I astound myself with my utter lack of ability to communicate clearly and succinctly. If I could just type out my thoughts I might be more effective. Maybe I could pretend to be mute. It might work out better that way, although I’d surely offend someone unintentionally.

I’ve been told I’m a pretty decent teacher. Recently, after a teaching gig, I had a friend say something along the lines of, “I don’t think what was in your head was what you were saying.” Which was her kind way of saying that I tanked big time.

pexels-photo-355952.jpegThere are people who know me that could testify that I can carry on actual conversations. I’m often coherent and almost intelligent. It’s true that I’m more comfortable listening, although there’s usually an unspoken dialogue running in my head that’s witty and brilliantly spot on. It’s just that the connection between my brain and my mouth seems to be defective somehow.

I’m hoping I can land a job that involves no interview, no face to face contact, and no verbal interaction. I know, I know that’s not at all realistic.

In the meantime I’ll work on my verbal skills, practice my “me in thirty seconds” spiel and polish up my interview answers.

Or maybe, I could be a dog walker and pooper scooper! I’ve heard there’s an app for that.

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Being Human, Writing | Tags: , , , | 9 Comments
 
 

It’s California’s Fault, Maybe

Is this evolution or just getting old? Or are we talking something else?

That’s what I’ve been asking myself recently as I’ve clearly changed from my morning person ways.

fullsizeoutput_b4bI used to be awake before the birds or the worms. Before the sun even thought about showing its face I was up and going full speed ahead.  I’d be typing away on my keyboard, or climbing onto the saddle of my bicycle, or out doing yard work long before most people rolled over to slam the snooze button for the first time.

But that doesn’t happen anymore.

I don’t even remember the last time it happened.

Sure I still get out on the bike and ride, quite a bit actually. But that ride starts long after the elementary school across the street has morning announcements and well into first recess.

Who is that Grandma on her bike at ten am, or later?

Yesterday I had to rethink my late ways. Being January, naturally the morning hours are cold and I’m quite justified in waiting to ride until the air warms a bit. But yesterday, good grief, it was nearly eighty degrees when I was on my last couple miles. Too warm for my liking.

If I value my life, here in the bowels of Hades during the summer I have to get out  to ride before the sun breaks the horizon. Eighty degrees pre-sunrise is the norm. But I’m not putting up with that nonsense in January, or even in February.

So how do I get my early bird ways back? Or is that impossible? Have I crossed some invisible age barrier? Wait, that can’t be it. I’ve heard that old people only sleep a few hours a night.  I’m close to needing double digits of sleep.

Maybe, just maybe, it’s the lack of sunlight. I’ve noticed that the sun doesn’t rise until sometime after seven, which is weird for this part of the world. Seriously, I swear every other year we’ve lived in Arizona we were immune to that whole short days/long nights winter thing. Just like we’re immune to the snow, rain, intelligent drivers and honest politicians. It just doesn’t happen here.

IMG_9918This year has been different, seriously. The sun sets at some dumb hour like five-thirty when it used to set at seven. And mornings take an eternity to arrive. I just don’t understand.

Don’t give me any of that earth tilt and rotation and planetary alignment stuff either, because I’m not buying it.

I blame Trump and Congress and especially those Californians. In fact, I’d let those Washington people slide and lay it all at the feet of California. They’re right there where the sun sets, weighing down the country with their strange beach-going ways. And all those earthquakes, what’s up with that?

I could be wrong. I admit that. Something else could be the cause. But, think about it for a  minute.

Okay, okay. Probably it’s the whole aging thing. And not having the grandkids close by, that’s clearly thrown off my chi. One out of seven lives nearby-ish. The rest, I have to rely on the Jetson’s style of contact, video chatting. It’s something, but it doesn’t make the sun rise on time like it used to when they all lived close.

Maybe we accidentally subscribed to some charming door-to-door salesman’s pitch of daylight savings time and it’s really messing with the account balance of the space/time continuum. Those sales tactics are sneaky. (And no, I am NOT buying any girl scout cookies this year. It’s still January. I’m still rocking my resolutions to eliminate all joy and gladness from life.)

It could also be evolution. But I’ll have to give that more thought. Wasn’t it Einstein or Lincoln or MSH who said, “The only thing constant in life is change.”

Maybe if you’re out and about on the trails around here I’ll see you and nod or wave. But it won’t be early, that’s for sure. Worms are for the birds.

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Categories: Uncategorized | 3 Comments
 
 

Apples and Other Things

 

Monday Friday Letter to My Kids – September 25, 2017

Dear J, J, L and L,

I know, I know, it’s not Friday. And I haven’t written to you for ages. I figured it must be about time. And besides, why wait until Friday?

I ran across this quote recently.

“Life will break you. Nobody can protect you from that, and living alone won’t either, for solitude will also break you with its yearning. You have to love. You have to feel. It is the reason you are here on earth. You are here to risk your heart. You are here to be swallowed up. And when it happens that you are broken, or betrayed, or left, or hurt, or death brushes near, let yourself sit by an apple tree and listen to the apples falling all around you in heaps, wasting their sweetness. Tell yourself you tasted as many as you could.” ~ Louise Erdrich

It’s not exactly the kind of thought a mother wants to talk to her kids about. Nope. A mom wants to talk about hope and happiness and all that good, sticky, lick-your-fingers kind of stuff.

But there it is.

I’ve tried all I can to protect you. From day one it was my main instinct. Still is.

At this point in your lives, and in mine, all I can do to provide protection is pray like your lives depend on my ability to call down the powers of heaven and surround you like a giant cone of cotton candy. But, no matter how much faith I have, or how hard I pray for you, I know the cotton candy part isn’t always, or even often, in the equation. Although, I really do believe there’s divine help made available in abundance.

fullsizeoutput_aa2I know you have each faced down some hard things in life, even as young as you are. I know the road has been broken and has worn down countless pairs of shoes for some of you. I know you’ve felt swallowed up and beaten down.  I would take and carry it away from you if I could. But motherhood has its limitations.

Thankfully, I also know you’ve felt the opposite of all that heartache; Joy beyond measure! I remember big J’s words as we left the hospital to get some breakfast after his little H arrived. You said with every bit of energy of your soul, “What a beautiful morning to be born!” I know you’ve each shared a similar outpouring of happiness beyond imagining.

Mostly your days bring that mixed tangle of laughter and frustration, just like it should. Some days you stagger under the weight of it all. Other days it’s like you have wings and the world is alive with hope and energy.

Every experience you have is another bite of one of those apples. Sour, juicy, tough-skinned, sweet, wormy, bruises, crunchy, crisp, laced with cinnamon and sugar, tasteless, tangy, tart, cold, mushy, magnificent, tiresome.

fullsizeoutput_a9cI pray you taste as many as you can, as often as you can.  I hope you love, often and deeply, and with wild abandon. I hope you occasionally have the chance to sit under the tree and savor the smells and sounds.

I’m working on my hugging-more and worrying-less experiences. Those are the apples I need to taste more of.

Now I feel like baking up some apple crisp. And then adding a pile of vanilla ice cream on the side. Sounds like the perfect breakfast, doesn’t it?

I love you wildly,

Mom

~~~~~

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Photo by Brian Arthur

“And when you crush an apple with your teeth, say to it in your heart:
Your seeds shall live in my body,
And the buds of your tomorrow shall blossom in my heart,
And your fragrance shall be my breath,
And together we shall rejoice through all the seasons.”
~Kahlil Gibran

Categories: Family, Food, Friday Letter to My Kids, Friday Letters, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 4 Comments
 
 

Where Am I?

Where am I?

That’s the question I’ve asked myself on waking this past year.

That probably happens to us as we get older, but I’m not that old. Yet.

“Where am I” came as a result of what seemed like constant traveling since June 2016.

IMG_8829A funeral, a birth, a reunion, a contract, another birth, an illness, a visit, more visits, a hospital stay, a conference or two, grandbaby sitting, visits, a 60th anniversary celebration, more visits, oh, and an eclipse. That briefly sums up most of the reasons for my going and going and going. A few times I stayed put. Six weeks were the longest I stayed anywhere and even there I left and returned on short stints.

At least half, or more, of every month our house sat empty, except for the occasional scorpion wandering through or a random spider spinning lies.  I was gone so much that we debated moving, on a permanent basis, out-of-state. But the stars didn’t align and it never felt right.

When I was away from home I missed my bed, my friends, my routine. But when I rfullsizeoutput_5eeturned I was anxious to leave again. The emptiness of a vacant house can wear on a person. And by vacant, I mean empty of people, not things.

I got in a bunch of amazing hikes though and a couple of campouts. I hiked in the snow as well as in the heat, but most importantly, in the mountains.

I experienced winter, which I haven’t done in decades. It’s a fun novelty when you know you don’t have to endure the full six months of it. Well, it’s fun unless your flight gets cancelled due to the weather and it’s nearly Christmas and company is due at your house that day while you’re in another state. Good times. But then, that resulted in a side trip to see my cousin, which was an unexpected bonus.

Through it all I learned to relish my personal space. Airplanes don’t lend themselves to emotional comfort if you’re an introvert with a fairly expansive personal bubble. (And an expansive backside.) And yet, on the other hand, I learned to cherish hugs and physical touch and actually being in the same room with the people you love. Phone calls and texts and video chats are great, but none of that compensates for the real thing.

IMG_8997I drove a few times to my far off destination. A debate still runs in my head if road trip or air trip is more comfortable, emotionally and physically. Eleven hours in a car can race by if you have an engaging audio book to keep your mind occupied.

Those people who travel as part of their job are troopers. Kudos to them for waking up in a different hotel, city, country, or hovel.

MSH has traveled for work most of our married life. I thought he had the kushy part of that deal, since he left me with the kids and went off to work (and sleep) without constant interruptions and demands. He’d fly home every few weekends to visit us. Until this year I didn’t realize what a drag air travel can become. Until this year I didn’t appreciate all he’d gone through living alone, living away, living out of a suitcase.

I love that man more than ever before after this year’s experiences. I’d prefer keeping our traveling to trips we take together.

fullsizeoutput_5eOf course, I’ve got to book a flight today for a trip next month. It’s definitely one I’m looking forward to as it involves some of the grands. So when I told a friend I was done traveling, I guess I only meant temporarily.

If home is where my heart is, then I’ve been home this entire past year. My heart is always with MSH. My heart is with my children and grandchildren. My heart is with my parents and siblings. My heart pounds right here in my chest reminding me to live and love life where I stand. No matter where that is.

So, where am I?

I am home.

~~~~~

“It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end.” ~ Ursula Le Guin

Categories: Family, Relationships, Travel | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments
 
 

A Beast In the Night

I may be slightly guilty of complaining about my neighbors on Facebook. In most respects they are nice, normal people with young kids, relatives, friends, a dog and a trampoline. I wonder, though, if they celebrate more than the average family. And I also wonder, often, how to disable the bass speaker from their stereo system in a quiet, legal way.

This past weekend I found myself actually wishing for the simple annoyance of that bass thump thump thump vibrating through my bedroom wall at any hour of the day or night. What could possibly make me wish for such a thing?

Wilderness camping.

Yes, you heard me right.

Wilderness camping.

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Aw… peace, quiet, beauty and serenity

When I think Wilderness I imagine large open meadows filled with wildflowers, pines intermingled with quaking aspens, blue skies, birds twittering, chipmunks chattering, and the smell of a campfire, with a soft breeze rustling the leaves. Maybe it would even include a brief afternoon downpour, which makes the air even fresher and more wilderness-like.

 

Our little outing included all that in glorious abundance. Exactly what a person seeks when they go out into the wild. At least, that is what THIS person seeks when going to a wilderness area. Don’t you?

Apparently other people, people I do not comprehend, think wilderness is for unmuffled engine noises and dust and the smell of gasoline and exhaust.

 

MAD MAX vehicles 2

The Beast’s Minions, no doubt.

Not long after setting up camp, in the WILDERNESS, we realized we were way too close to a dirt road that apparently compares to Times Square in mountain terms. Holy smokes! Every motorcycle, ATV, four-wheeler, jeep, and zoomy loud obnoxious vehicle ever invented drove up and down that road.

 

We took comfort in the thought, the absolute certainty really, that once the sun set the traffic would abate.

But alas, we found that assumption to be completely and totally incorrect. In fact, some of the wheeled monstrosities seemed to amp up the volume after dark.

Somewhere around 10:30 p.m. someone unleashed some Mad Max movie vehicle from the depths of Hades. I told MSH, “I think the apocalypse is happening. Isn’t that what the end of the world sounds like?”

mad max 4

This “War Rig” is actually from the movie Mad Max, but could easily be what I heard and felt.

I pictured amplifiers attached to where a muffler would be, flames shooting out the top and back, and a doomsday soundtrack that normally plays in a sci-fi movie when an entire planet is about to be destroyed. The driver most certainly looked like one-eyed Dennis Hopper from Water World. And I’m certain the beast was a half-track, or some tank or a war machine. This thing made our tent rattle and vibrate and I swear the ground shook. The fact that lightning and thunder were intermittently happening only added to the creep factor. Unlike the other vehicles that blasted through after dark, this one could be heard two to three miles away, coming and going.

 

Unnerving. Definitely not sleep inducing.

So MSH and I decided to read a bit and talk over what we were reading. A few more, by comparison, fairly quiet ATVs blasted through, surprisingly. Near midnight we turned out the lights and assumed we’d sleep through the night.

No flames shooting, since it’s daytime, but definitely similar to what I felt and heard.

mad max 7

No flames shooting in the daylight,  but definitely similar to what I felt and heard.

Until 1:45 a.m. when The Beast Built From War Machines of Horror Movies returned, driving slower and if possible, louder. The mountains echoed with the roar of this monstrosity, I swear house sized boulders voluntarily rolled down mountains and trees fell of their own accord at the sound of this thing.

 

What little bit of sleep I did manage was nudged awake by birds and chipmunks at the first hint of dawn.

scary vehicles 1

A cousin of The Beast, no doubt. Not so scary in the daylight.

The ATVs didn’t wake up until five hours later, a very welcome respite.

 

If wilderness is so loud and ridiculous, how do I escape the noise and chaos of mankind and their machines? I guess I need to try backpacking miles and miles away from any roads. Or try setting up camp next to a very loud river. Or both.

I suppose I’d better get my backpacking body back in shape.

mad max 3In the meantime, I guess I could be more tolerant of my neighbor’s late night stereo blasting. At least it’s not some vehicle from Mad Max showing up at my doorstep, right?

Have you ever noticed that so much about life and the troubles we go through is all about perspective?

 

~~~~~~~

 

Disclaimer #1: When I was a young’un, dad and his pals and their families, all headed up into the mountains from time to time specifically to ride motorcycles all over the place. We were oblivious to the thought that maybe our noise and dust weren’t as delightful to others as they were to us. But once it was getting dark, those machines got parked for the night. No one would mistake our little engines for some beast from the underworld, that’s for dang sure.

Disclaimer #2: More logical people than I have suggested having a chat with the neighbors about turning down the music a bit after midnight. But, I’ve found it’s more fun to whine on Facebook about it than to resolve the situation.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Humor, Nature, Outdoors, Traffic | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments
 
 

The Night the Universe Spoke to Me

I think the universe might be sending me a message.

What would the universe say to you if it could speak its ageless wisdom into your mind and heart? Would you suddenly have your priorities rearranged? Would life become more meaningful? Would you change your daily walk and talk? It’s a profound thought, don’t ya think?

And how would that message make itself known to you? Would you hear some actual voice? Would thoughts flow into your mind in a color filled river of universe melding consciousness? Would a sign along the freeway have your name and words written just for you? Would you get a letter in the mail? Or may be it would even come across as a text.

iphoneMy message from the universe looked like HTML code. And it said one word I understood: “The”. How weird is that? Unfortunately, that message also went out to all my blog readers as well. They probably figured my blog had been hacked. In fact, one of my daughters asked if it had been hacked, which is how I found the message the universe sent me.

Now most people wouldn’t see much meaning in the word “the” and some HTML code. But I did.

So last night, after epic fireworks I won’t even attempt to describe here, the universe took matters into its own hands. (Does the universe have hands?) Actually, in this case it wasn’t hands that created the one word blog post, but a different body part, and it’s really close to my heart.

Without being any more vague than that, can I just say, it’s not a good idea to put your phone certain places for temporary storage. And let’s just suggest that a bra is a really dumb spot for a phone to hang out.

So that weird blog post I’ve taken as a sign from the universe. Actually, two signs. First, “put the phone away in the pocket where it belongs.” Second, “you NEED to get back to writing.”

Seriously, it’s the universe not so quietly telling me I need to finish “the” sentence. It’s time to get back to writing. Even if no one reads what I write, it’s always been something I do for myself, not for others, not really.

I paid big bucks to attend a writer’s conference a couple of months ago. I was looking for inspiration and motivation and camaraderie. And I found all of that there. But I failed to translate it into action. Putting my fingers to the keyboard just didn’t happen. But now it will.

I will get back to writing because the universe did the equivalent of a butt dialed phone call, except it was through WordPress and my boobs did the writing. That’s some weird karma, if you ask me.

 

 

 

Categories: Uncategorized | 2 Comments
 
 

The Average Person Awards Show

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From Hallmark.com

I have a very humorous friend on Twitter and Facebook (you should look him up and follow) who posted the following comment last night:

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and then one of his friends said this:


So I said this:

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thinking the idea would catch and spread like fire in an August field of dried weeds. But it didn’t. Weird. I suppose everyone was riveted by whatever particular daily famous people awards show was playing.

But I added another of my own: 

and one other guy added: img_7933

So (thanks to Lourie J Kolar whose brilliant idea it was) I thought I’d write up some more of my own categories for:

The Average Person Awards Show!! 

*Cue annoying music that cuts off mid-measure*

Here to present this year’s categories, wearing Riders Slim Fit She’s Not Kidding Anyone Jeans, with a Kohl’s 30% off three quarter sleeve purple fake sparkly T-shirt highlighted by her plain gold 36 year old wedding band is none other than the woman who everyone mistakes as their long lost aunt, cousin, neighbor or old girlfriend, Kami Tilby.

*Sound of crickets.*

Thank you for holding your applause. Let’s get right to it.

Category 1:

For Outstanding Efforts in Resisting the Call of Social Media when Real Life was More Important.

Category 2:

Working on a College Degree While Holding Down a Full Time Job and Supporting a Family.

Category 3:

For Holding Your Tongue When A Witty Response Would Have Been Stunning But Hurtful

And in the same category for the shorter interest span: Deleting A Scathing Comment Before Posting It and Walking Away From the Electronic Device.

Category 4:

Staying Up All Night With Your Kid/Mom/Spouse/Friend while they Puked/Cried/Seizured/Melted Down and Still Carried On a Full Day after No Sleep

Category 5:

Most Creative Multiple Late Excuse Note Writing for a Junior Or Senior in High School

Category 6:

Fixing Dinner for the Gazillionth Time Without Complaining Outloud

Category 7:

Waking Up and Going Off to Earn a Living for the Trillionth Time With No Recognition or Applause and Not Breaking Windows or Rioting While Having the Government Take Thirty Percent

Category 8:

Speaking Kindly and Forgiving that Sibling Who Still Pushes your Buttons
So The Family Can Be Together in Peace

Category 9:

Stretching a Dollar Past Its Physical Capacity to Feed A Family Well Beyond Reason

Special Semi-Political Category Because It’s My Blog and I Can Do What I Want:

Public School Teachers Who Selflessly Work Well Beyond Their Compensated Time to Meet All Standards Prescribed and to Teach, Cajole, Love, Care For and Protect Children They Aren’t Even Related To While They Get to Hold Down a Second Job to  Pay for the Opportunity to Work the First One.

Category 10:

Single Mothers and Single Fathers Who Do The Work Normally Handled By Two People and Still Raise Nice Kids Who Respect Women, the Elderly and Children

Category 11:

Starting a Small Business on a Feather and a Lot of Sweat and Prayer Against All Odds and In the Face of Economic Ruin

Category 12:

Being Honest and Trustworthy and Maintaining Integrity Even When It Costs You Your Job

A LOT MORE POTENTIAL CATEGORIES

Make up your own category and comment below. Nominate someone. Heck, nominate yourself. A few people need to be recognized for the outstanding everyday effort they put out continually and will never ever be noticed or applauded for it.

And no, this is not some lame, participation award people get just for showing up. There, I said it.

Maybe we just need to hand out compliments to people we know for a job well done. Thank the kid who cleans up after you’ve spilled popcorn while watching that movie. Thank the people who fill in potholes, keep the electricity running, haul off your trash, and clean up the parks. Give a high-five to whoever you think deserves it, because they probably do.

We can all use a little recognition for our efforts, don’t ya think?

This next part is the very important small print but in average size:

Voting for this year’s categories will be accepted until February 28. You can vote if you’re an average person. No famous persons allowed. Sorry. Being Average has its privileges. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Categories: Awards, People, Priorities, The World | Tags: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Learning Love and Loss

When She Loved Me <<—(click on this link to hear the song. )
Today is a bittersweet day.

I received one of the greatest gifts of my life 29 years ago today. I celebrate the birth of one of my children every January third. She’s brought joy into my life, like children do, and like only she can. 

I also lost one if the greatest gifts of my life on January third three years ago. My friend Kathy passed away from the ravages of multiple myeloma. 

I only knew her, really, while she had cancer. Our lives intertwined in a surprisingly fast way. The friendship lasted only five endlessly painful (for her) short (for me) years. 

I wrote about her, about our friendship a few times. If you didn’t know her, you really missed out on one of God’s best creations. It’s easy to paint the dead with rosy hues, we humans do that. Kathy deserves it. But she was flawed, too. She could be bossy, and perfectionistic, but she did it with a charming smile and a strangely kid-like voice so you didn’t mind so much. 

My daughter moved a couple years ago, a three day drive away. Too far for frequent visits. Not to mention she’s busy raising a family, like all my kids are. In a way I’ve lost them all to life’s path. That’s what children do, grow up and leave you. 

Anyway, I’m a bit melancholy today and this song captures that friendship, that joy, the losses, the memories. 

Listen and see if you can hear Kathy’s laughter. Or maybe you’ll feel a bit of childhood’s hand holding yours. Either way. 

Happy January third. 

Categories: Uncategorized | 1 Comment

The Thing You Do, But Can’t

windup_alarm_clockYou know that feeling when the alarm goes off at whatever-dark-thirty, you reach over to turn it off, and every muscle in your body protests? Or maybe it’s your throat which feels like it turned into sandpaper overnight. Or your voice has dropped an octave and breathing feels like how Darth Vader sounds. Sometimes you’ve simply run out of oomph and the fumes you were running on have disappeared. You know that feeling.

Yup, that one.

Most days you just power through whatever aches your body normally carries. The constant twinge in your back, or the arthritic beginnings in your fingers, maybe a sore ankle from a decades old break or sprain, the hip that grinds away at your energy, a shoulder strain that needs surgery which you’re resisting; these are simply daily companions you’ve grown accustomed to, right?

You go through your ritual of stretching, steaming the aches awake in the shower, taking some over the counter mostly-placebo. And of course, mentally, whether you know it or not, you give yourself the pep talk, the “people are counting on me” speech, the everything-will-go-to-hell-in-a-hand-basket if I’m not there reminder.

Then you go, and you do. Whatever. It. Takes.

You get through it. You do it.

But some mornings, life throws on a few extra weights, like a cold, or the flu, or simply utter exhaustion from doing The Thing You Do day in and day out without ever really regrouping.

The Thing You Do: running a business, being the mom, school or college, caring giving to a loved one, training,  employment, volunteering, being the dad, driving the kids, getting to an appointment, attending an event, the endless list. It’s probably not just The Thing singular, it’s probably plural. In fact, it’s rare if it’s one Thing.

Somedays you gotta call it done before you ever get out of bed. But you can’t. Because you’re the only parent. You’re the only caregiver. You’re the ONE everyone counts on.

So you drag yourself to the shower, drag yourself through the pain, take a little more over the counter whatever might help and chase it down with extra caffeine and hope your can get through until it’s okay to call it bedtime.

If you have a back up person to call, now is the time to call them. If you can call in sick, this would be the day for that. If you don’t have any backup then you power on unending Netflix streaming for the littles and leave cereal and sippy cups out on the table and attempt to sleep on the couch or floor between requests for every little thing. It’s a sad picture of you with kleenex stuffed up your nostrils and the mangy robe wrapped around your aching, worn down, sleep-deprived body.

Now is a great time for prayer. And tears. Tears are good and cleansing and cathartic. Crying while praying can help a lot. Or it can make your nose clog up even more and maybe give you a bad headache to add to the other crud you’re dealing with.  And then you might end up feeling mad at God for not healing you instantly and maybe even blame him for feeling worse. Don’t do that part. That is not helpful.

If someone asks the unanswerable question: “Is there anything I can do to help?” don’t you dare answer with that wimpy, ridiculous reply: “Oh, I’m fine. I can handle this myself.”

That’s just nonsense.

Tell them, “Yes, as a matter of fact there is something you can do to help!!”

Pick something. Anything.

  • Wash, dry and fold a load of laundry? Yes, please.
  • Bring over a steaming pot of some delicious soup? Absolutely.
  • Chocolate? Of course.
  • Vacuum the floors? Amen.
  • Wash up the dishes? Bless you for your offer to help me.
  • Do a grocery run for a few basics? Wonderful.
  • Babysit the kids for a few hours of uninterrupted sleep? What a saint.
  • Take out the garbage? Hallelujah!
  • Stay with this person while I take a time out? Glorious.

I’m sure you could add other things you wish a lovely house elf or sparkly fairy or magical unicorn would swoop in and take care of.

Guess what?

Other human beings are the real elves, fairies and unicorns of our lives.

We should all have a list like that already made up for the inevitable day that LIFE hits the fan and the blowback is too much to handle. In fact, we could have each to-do item written on a card, like an emergency contact, and ask the semi-committed volunteer to select a card. Then you’re not even really asking but merely fulfilling their wish to be helpful. Is that an amazing plan, or what?

Not that I’d do that. Ever.

I hate asking for or needing help. I just want to be an independent island nation, completely self-sufficient and proud. Letting people help me makes me feel like a loser.

Right? Isn’t that why we say, “I’m fine, I don’t need anything,” even though we’re hanging on by our fingernails to the last frayed end of the rope with the wick of the candle burnt all the way through from both ends to the middle? (pick your metaphor)

But I’m not a loser if I need help. I’m just a human. And so are you.

Don’t you sometimes offer to help someone if they need something and they answer with that silly “Oh, I’m fine” nonsense? Don’t you wish they’d actually let you help? You don’t think they’re a loser, do you? Nope.

Alrightythen.

800px-bed_in_seattle_hotel

Photo by Liz Lawley.

If you hit that wall. If you can’t do another freaking day of The Thing without a break, a rest, a respite, a me-day, a mental health break, then dang it, ask for help from wherever you need to. Call in, step away, turn off the phone, text, email, voice in your head. Take a day for you, to heal, to rest, to be.

 

I give you permission. The universe gives you permission. Actually, you don’t really  need permission. Just take care of yourself and let others help take care of you, even if it’s just you venting to them about the weight on your shoulders and in your heart.

Do it.

Just skip doing The Thing You Do for one day. Just rest.

Best wishes from a fellow human who occasionally needs people and rest just like  you.

Now I’m off to do The Thing I Do until the day I can’t.

Categories: Being Human, Mental Health, physical health | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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