Posts Tagged With: hardship

Hidey Holes and Other Scary Times

Friday Letter to My Kids – October 3, 2014 –

Dear J, J, L and L,

When we moved to Oklahoma one of the first things anyone said to us was, “Welcome to Oklahoma. If you don’t like the weather just wait ten minutes.” That sure proved true. Blue skies could change to threatening wall clouds and potential destruction in just a matter of minutes. Then sirens could start blasting and we’d tune in to the local news to see where the radar signature of a tornado might be traveling.

Luckily we never saw one in person.

Luckily we never saw one in person.

Do you remember hidey holes?

The first time we had to crouch and hide from a tornado it was in a one and a half-story home with that odd loft. The smallest and most central room in the house was the bathroom. That’s where we hid out when the tornado sirens blasted.  I had all four of you climb into the tub where I covered you with a big  quilt. Then I hunkered down beside you. Dad must have been out-of-town or at work.

Lucky for us the sirens proved unnecessary and no tornado touched down anywhere. I imagine the adrenaline of that first time kept us all awake late that night.

There’s an odd sensation of wanting to stand at a window and try to see this phenomenon live and in person. It seems to outweigh the logic of hiding out in a closet or bathtub. Nowadays with smart phones, weather cameras and non-stop storm chasers we could snuggle safe in our hidey hole and still see what’s going on.

Our second home in Oklahoma had a bigger, better sheltering spot, in that big weird closet that wrapped around the back of the rock fireplace. Remember that closet? It could have served as an extra bedroom it was so big.

I have to admit I’m glad we didn’t have a storm shelter. The idea of crawling into a glorified hole in the ground and waiting out a fierce storm scares the heck outta me. Remember how I don’t like basements, dark places or small spaces? But we’d have had a better chance if our house had taken a direct hit by a twister if we were underground.

The closest we ever came to real danger was a cluster of tiny tornadoes that sort of skipped over our neighborhood, tickled a few rooftops, took out a few small trees and then dissipated. And once a gas station in the town just north of ours took a direct hit. Phew.

I see news footage of some of the havoc from big storms that sweep through towns and feel grateful we never saw anything like that firsthand. Moving to “tornado alley” turned out okay for us, but the idea sure sounded ominous at the time.

Fairly self-explanatory.

Fairly self-explanatory.

Even in Wyoming you’ve encountered scary stuff. How could you ever forget the time you were staying at Grandpa and Grandma’s house Big J? Lightning hit in the middle of the night and blew the TV out. Grandpa said you made the leap from your bedroom to theirs in one bound.

I suppose anywhere you live there’s some kind of danger. Some areas habitually rock and roll with earthquakes. Others experience frequent flooding. Then there’s the coastal threats of hurricanes and tsunamis. Not to mention volcanoes, drought, landslides, ice storms, sinkholes, dust storms, hail, blizzards. There’s always something.

Life itself plays out as a risky undertaking. Knowing that, we brace ourselves for uncertainty and bumpy roads while enjoying the ride and scenery as much as we can in the meantime.

As I’ve gotten older I’ve found myself less willing to risk even simple things. I’m sure I’m missing out, I’m just not sure how to combat that inherent fear.

Jarek Tuszynski [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Jarek Tuszynski [CC-BY-SA-3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Hard to believe this now deathly-scared-of-heights woman, your very own mother,  is the same one who introduced you to rock climbing and rappelling you when were four and five years old. Who was that woman and where did she disappear to? (Remember days spent at Spire Rock?) Little J picked up the nickname Arachnid for her mad climbing skills back then.

Maybe it’s a hormone thing. Maybe it’s insanity, or maybe it’s actually sanity finally settling in. Staying safe, avoiding risk and searching for a solid footing seem to make up a significant portion of my daily efforts. Feels a bit like I’ve taken up permanent residence in a hidey hole.

That’s silly.

So far, each of you have braved new adventures with eyes wide and anticipating what’s next. Fortunately, I can also see your wisdom in “setting protection,” like a smart rock climber would. You’re on belay and working your way up to new, fun and spectacular vistas.

It’s scary and exciting to see you progressing. I want to save you from rock fall, wild weather, and anything that might prevent your happiness. But I can’t. Even if I could it’d be unfair of me to deprive you of the learning opportunity of hardship. (Have I mentioned how much I hate learning from hardship? You should at least know that much about me by now.)

About all that I can do involves praying for you which I do daily and fervently! Wherever you go and whatever you do I wish you courage, calm winds, safe passage, sturdy shelter, and plenty of joy.

 

Love Always,

Mom

"Bluebird of Happymess"

“Bluebird of Happymess”

 

“Let me not pray to be sheltered from dangers, but to be fearless in facing them. Let me not beg for the stilling of my pain, but for the heart to conquer it.” ~Rabindranath Tagore

 

 

 

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Categories: Family, Friday Letters, Nature | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Looking Back Instead of Forward

It’s Gratituesday! Today I’m grateful that the past is behind me. I’m glad to look back and glean what lessons I can from the life I’ve experienced thus far. There’s some doozies. There’s more than a few embarrassing if not downright shameful tales. There’s some hold my head  high “I done good” moments. Mostly, there’s me slogging through, mud stained, sweaty, not very pretty, grimacing, trying to smile, just trying to “get ‘er done.”

English: Muddy Hit

I’m not one of those people who would want to know what’s on the agenda for the future. I think I’d run screaming off the edge of the planet if I knew what’s coming.

Oh, sure, I’m certain there’s some happy times ahead. I’ve great faith in the goodness of many people. The technologic expansion and promise bodes well. But I’m a realist and I know not all is well and not all will be well. There’s crap out there among the good stuff. Always has been, always will be.

Looking back at what I’ve experienced over the past few decades I’m pretty certain that if given the choice ahead of time, with a clear view of those particular things laid out before me, I’d have probably declined the offer to move ahead.

Sure, youth think they are invincible. They envision the future as glorious and beautiful, hopeful and amazing. The don’t imagine failure, or trial or difficulty. There’s a vague cloud of the unknown but no real grasp of what death or disease, unemployment or uncertainty, debt and demands, sleeplessness and exhaustion, mental illness and poor decisions, good intentions with bad outcomes, or any one of thousands of reality’s hard knocks. It’s probably best that way.

Being jaded and angry is no way to approach a life at the beginning of it.

In fact, being jaded and angry is no way to live a life at all.

I had a year or two of that and it was not pretty.

Now I aim for grateful as much as I can. I try being honest with myself and not simply look at the world through those fabled rose-colored glasses. I honestly search for the good, the positive, the blessed moments, the glorious parts of life.

Syringe 5 with drops.

It’s not a denial of the bad stuff, more of an inoculation against it. I like to think I’m vaccinated and up to date on my shots so when the virus of hardship invades, which it surely will, I’ll be able to get through it. My faith, my hope, my cheerfulness, my experience,  will win out.

Better to learn from what’s thrown at you. Knowing when to duck, when to roll, when to tuck, when to jump, when to charge ahead, only comes from the experience of having to do those things. Practice makes perfect, is the saying, isn’t it?

I should be nearly perfect by now.

No. Never mind. I didn’t say that. I know there’s a ton of experiences in life I haven’t had the pleasure or pain of going through. I don’t want to tempt fate. Got my hands full, thankyouverymuch.

Today I’m glad to stand where I am, looking back on the path I’ve been on, happy for the temporary level spot in the path.

What a view!

Categories: Gratitude, Gratituesday | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mud, Potholes, Spinouts, Blowouts, and Other Fun Times

I hit a pothole once that literally tore a hole in the side of my tire. I didn’t think that was possible. That mangled tire made me much more cautious of those seemingly innocuous bumps in the road.

I’ve also been stuck up to the rims on a muddy road in a little Vega. Luckily my husband was up for a hike and found someone with a truck and a rope to pull us out.

And I’ve been in a van with the entire family on a snowy freeway and suddenly found ourselves spinning like a carnival ride. Not sure how the vehicle stayed upright. Half an hour later one of the tires suddenly went flat, so we’d obviously done some damage during the spin.

Why do I tell you this?

Life is a highway, a road, a path, a journey.

I’ve often felt that I’ve had my unfair share of uphills, spinouts, flats, mechanical failures, blowouts, impassable roads, uphill stretches and potholes.

Road blocked by landslide

Road blocked by landslide (Photo credit: wiesmann)

We could all feel that way, rich or poor, blessed or not, third world or first world, ill or well, single or married. Life isn’t easy.

It is easy, however, to tell ourselves that it isn’t fair. It’s easy to look at the road behind us and curse and complain. It’s easy to look at the path ahead and decide to sit down and cry instead of moving forward.

Yup. Too easy to take the pessimistic, sad, sorry for myself stance. I give in some days. I wallow in self-pity sometimes. I allow myself some poor me tears.

Little SRisonS Enters The Old Zone

(Photo credit: Scott Smith (SRisonS))

But then, I, hopefully, wash my face off, get dressed, and do what needs doing.

With a smile.

That’s the hardest part of all some days. Especially if there are metaphorical storm clouds looming, or a deluge of life’s crud to wade through.

I am not really a fan of Nietzsche’s idea “that which does not kill us makes us stronger” attitude.  I’m more on the side of the “I can’t tell if it’s making me stronger or killing me” team.

*insert rimshot here*

Meaning, I look at things not through rose-colored glasses, idealized and perky, but through the lens of humor or sarcasm. Laughter has gotten me through more rough patches than anything I know. I’m more likely to have a joke memorized and at the ready, than a quote about getting through life’s adversities. Depending on your temperament, one may work better than the other.

If I share a quote on this topic it’s probably because I see something humorous hidden in between the words. Or it resonated somehow with me. These few did.

“I have sometimes been wildly, despairingly, acutely miserable, but through it all I still know quite certainly that just to be alive is a grand thing. ” ~Agatha Christie

The words wildly, despairingly and acutely seem melodramatic to me. Reminds me of a toddler’s response to the word “no.” I can see myself throwing a tantrum when life isn’t going my way and that makes me laugh. Not to mention, life really is a grand thing. Keeping my eyes open to the grandness makes a huge impact.

Bob Hope

Bob Hope (Photo credit: cliff1066™)

“Fall seven times, stand up eight.” ~Japanese Proverb

This is the stuff of slapstick comedy. Carol Burnett, Red Skelton, Bob Hope, Robin Williams. We are constantly falling down, failing, messing up, missing a beat, off kilter and out of sync. Well, I know I am. I do a sort of mental double take and then dust myself off and keep going. At least usually.

Here’s hoping your path today is a smooth one and your road plowed and pothole free. If it isn’t, I hope you’re able to smile, or laugh, or at the very least, have a good cry and then keep moving forward.

Categories: Gratitude, Humor, Mental Health | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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