I SUck At New Year’s Resolutions And So Do You

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I am not one for New Year’s Resolutions. It’s not that I don’t think they have merit. They  do…just for other people.

For me New Year’s resolutions are akin to yelling ” Fire” in a crowded theatre…only very bad things will come of it no matter how loud you yell.

In the past my resolutions have looked something like this…

2011…I will lose 20 pounds. Day 1 begins promisingly enough. I hide the Christmas candy while only sneaking one piece. I eat one banana, drink enough water to fill a lake and load up on enough salad that rabbits begin to terrorize me in my sleep. Day 2- First thing in the morning I step on the scale naked and am shocked to see my left boob laying on the ground as I bend over far enough to read those little led numbers that have gone up 10 pounds due to that fucking banana and the three pounds of lettuce I mowed through the day before. I am so tired due to my scales rather rude agenda and last night’s rabbit revenge that when I look out the window  I swear all I see are rabbits giving me the finger and laughing hysterically therefore, I sneak two pieces of chocolate in order to clear my head and give myself “I energy I need to make it through the rest of the day.”  Day 3- I fall off the scale as it registers 3 more pounds, hit my head and get a concussion. Of course, the only cure for that is candy…lots of it….and so it goes. By the end of the week I have gained 20 pounds and I have paid the garbage man a rather large ‘New Years tip to “accidentily” back over my scale 100 times.

2008. I would be a more observant and careful driver. I was but the 8 people who managed to run into my car that year were not.

2015. That my husband would find happiness once again in his life…he did in the arms of our Vietnamese tour guide.

As you can see, resolutions have never really worked out well for me. So for 2019 I have decided that I will wish for nothing and not try to implement any big changes in my life. No, this year I will just accept myself for who I am and offer myself forgiveness for my perceived failures . In the car and out of it. On the scale and off. I will have no expectations of others and I will expect nothing of myself in return.

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So here is to 2019! Nothing to be gained and nothing to lose. I think this will be my kind of year!

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Pain In The Neck

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For about 25 years I have lived with chronic pain in my back and neck. It was the result of two on the job injuries one of which involved trying to catch and patient and his ventilator as he began falling off a gurney on the way to the shower. This was followed two weeks before or later (I no longer remember) when I caught an old lady who was going down on the floor. Several years later I was in a car accident. All of this has added up to chronic pain in my neck, shoulders, and back. If I don’t go crazy the pain/spasms are manageable but certain things set me off like repetitive bending and sitting for long periods of time. After all these years I have gotten pretty good at knowing where I can go and what I can do without setting myself up for painful back spasms.

Recently, my primary care physician sent me to a doctor who specializes in pain management. He is a nice guy who listens well and treats his patients with care. I had a workup and in the end he thought it would be helpful to have injections in my trigger points to break them up and hopefully provide some relief to the pain. I had had those same injections soon after the original injury and I passed out cold in the doctor’s office so I wasn’t looking forward to the procedure. In fact, I have been dreading it.

Well, today was the day and luckily it wasn’t as bad as it had been previously. I had ten shots in my neck/shoulders and while it made me woozy I am happy to report I remained upright and conscious the entire time!

I am now home with a massive headache and a lot of hope that this treatment will help decrease the chronic pain that I have endured for so long. Living with chronic pain has affected my life in so many ways. It has made me tired, grumpy, and hesitant to do/try things. It has made me uptight and has decreased my self-confidence. Usually I have managed to keep my discomfort under wraps so as not to burden others but not always. Sometimes I just got grumpy with those who love me the most and I am sure it contributed to my “maybe divorce.” I also believe that it is the root cause of my fibromyalgia.

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Happily, today, I truly believe that this time the injections will help. Like so many things going on in my life at this particular point and time, I expect to have a fundamental shift in how I interact with those around me and in how I treat myself if I can decrease or eliminate this pain. I am excited and am blessed that I live in a country in which this option is available to me and I can hardly wait to jump for joy again as chronic pain becomes a distant memory.

Reminder: If a loved one suffers from chronic pain…believe them when they say they are hurting and lighten their load if you can. Until you have endured you will not understand how daily doses of pain effect you and your family. Be kind, be patient, be gentle and ask what you can do to help. Who knows, someday the table may be turned and you will want the support that someone who has lived lived with chronic pain because they will understand what you need and will be there for you. Indeed, what goes around come around!

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Out With The Old (2017) And In With The New!!! Or Get Me The Fuck Out Of This Crappy Year!!! Or Celebrate Change!!!

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In many ways, this past year has been one of the toughest of my life. It has been a year of sorrow and heartbreak as I watched my 30+ year marriage hang by a thread only to snap in December. But it has also been a year of tremendous growth as I have learned to sit with things longer before reacting, have found joy in places that were once unavailable to me, and I have located pieces of myself again which I thought were gone forever. Good and valuable pieces that I am proud of and am grateful to have re-captured in a slightly different form.

This past year I have walked down paths and met new friends who have been there for me while I cried on their shoulders. I discovered amazing people who have given me wisdom through new perspectives and helped me to realize that there is renewal in letting go and giving up so that future growth can occur.

My children have given me courage and a dogged determination to act in ways I once never dreamed possible. I have learned to appreciate them in a new light and with a sense of gratefulness that has brought joy to my spirit and wisdom to my soul.

Seeking peace has become a way of life and a way of viewing a future that is full of possibility and excitement while negative self-talk is becoming a slightly more distant phenomenon. I am trying, as I go into 2018, to avoid turmoil… self and otherwise so that anxiety is no longer walking in the shadows along side of me as I journey through the end of this life as I know it and the beginnings of a new life that I am about to confront head on.

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The changing relationship with my husband has shown me that pushing my own agenda is like walking through a land mine and that sometimes you just have to stand still until the bombs can be diffused. It has taught me that people change in ways you once never imagined and that their changes are THEIR changes and you don’t have to take them on as YOUR OWN. I also learned and am working on the idea that his changes and dislikes may have little to do with me in all actuality so that disappointment I have felt in myself may well have been misplaced.

I have also realized (after spending time in a sauna yesterday) that even skinny 65 yo women’s bodies look old and that acceptance and making peace with my less-than-perfect body will probably bring me a sense of freedom that has eluded me for years.

As I march into 2018, head held high, I thank you for putting up with my confusion and bull shit for these past several years.  Thank you for your wisdom, knowledge, and loving support. I know in real-life some of us could be best friends and leave our mark upon the world together though I think we might need the name of a bail bondsman handy!

I wish for all of you joy and wisdom in the coming year. Dance, dammit, dance…. preferably under the stars. Do something tough and do something you love often. Read tons of good books. Dream more. Eat more chocolate and take more time for yourself. Visit a place you have never been and kiss those you love more often. For those who suffer from chronic pain may it ebb. And lets try to remember that we never know just how much time we have on this earth so let’s all vow to use ours wisely.

And finally, may child-like Trump and childish Kim Jong-un not one up each another in a fit of spoilt “my dick is bigger than yours” and blow up the entire world just because they can.

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Amen!

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Visiting With Ghosts

“I’m not being bossy, I’m just telling you what to do,” says my husband.

As you can imagine these are not the choicest of words to say to your wife or any other woman who is over 30.

Years ago I would have told this man where to shove it if those words were said to me. Today, it is more complicated…kids, a 30+ year history together, mortgages…and then there is the sex which has always been divine.  So what does one say when the man you have admired more than anyone in the world hits his 50’s, goes through male menopause, and suddenly becomes someone you no longer know. Somehow…”SCREW YOU ASSHOLE”… no longer feels like an option when you are trying to become your best self and live in a more authentic and pleasant sort of way.

But enough of that.

Today, I was sitting inside when I suddenly heard the roar of B’s hedger. I decided to go out and help him because his back has been hurting.  Upon arriving outside I find B taking it to the rose buses with blades the size of a helicopter and my beloved pink agastache already mowed almost to the ground.

“What are you doing?”

“The trick or treaters won’t be able to make it up the walk. Had to make room for them.”

“B, those were precious to me. I work hard to have a beautiful yard. Why don’t you honor what I do and how hard I work?”

“There you go again. I can’t do anything right.”

And with that we were off. He went his way thinking his wife is a bitch and I went back into the house fuming while feeling what I do is devalued. As I crossed over the threshold it occurred to me that I could be right and I could feel miffed… or… I could have peace. Which did I want? It was a no-brainer. Outside I went.

“B… we need to talk. I came outside to help you so you don’t have to bend over”

“I’m busy. I’ve been working all day. I don’t need your help.”

“Honey, I am done with this old pattern of relating. I say something and you respond that you can never do anything right. Then we both go off into our corners with our invisible boxing gloves on. It is time to do something different.”

He looks at me suspiciously.

“Look,” he says “The kids can’t go up our sidewalk without running into our bushes.”

“I understand that now but didn’t realize it was that much of a problem. But instead of destroying what I worked so hard to create it would be helpful if you would come to me and state your concern about the kids. Then you could say, “Honey, I am going to cut the agastache down if you don’t come out and take care of them your way.” That way I am responsible for what happens. Not you. And I get to do things in the manner I choose; in a way that preserves my plants and my dignity.”

“I didn’t mow them all down…”

“Honey, lets just agree to disagree and try harder not to do the same dance which gets us nowhere. Right now, I am choosing not to be right at all costs. Instead, I am choosing to create peace.”

Later, we went to the pumpkin patch with the kids. We all know that they are getting too old for this folderol but it is a tradition…something to hold onto when so many things are up in the air and our relationship is hanging like grapes on the vine. As we entered the farm, I reflected on our “Days From The Past” and I remembered the happiness our family had experienced here. I harkened back to the times when I saw B in a kinder, gentler sort of light and felt a soft glow surround my heart.

I suspect that sometimes this is what is needed…reminders of times gone right. Those moments in our lives when our joy outweighed our sorrows and fits of laughter outnumbered our tears. Days filled with pumpkins, sunflowers, corn mazes and a frosted cup of apple cider. Maybe these are the things we all need to sustain us when things in our lives morph into things we no longer recognize.

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So this Halloween, instead of paying attention to the ghosts of the present who rattle their chains in an effort to be heard; I think I shall visit with the ghosts of the past to gain a new perspective and appreciation for what was and could possibly be again.

Roasted Pumpkin Seeds. Set oven to 350. Clean pumpkin seeds. Mix with melted butter, dark cherry vinegar, garlic salt, and rosemary. Roast for 25 minutes.

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Dreams Of The Past And The Future

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When we were young B and I could never have enough projects. They kept us busy and talking to one another about the different aspects that we needed to consider when we were working together. We tore out the kitchen of a cabin we bought, we built a house in the mountains, we started a winery and built the building to go with it. We were busy, tired, and often content with the manner in which our lives were progressing.

These days B is done with projects. He wants nothing to do with them. I suspect some of this stems from having to leave behind our hard work for others to enjoy when we did not yet have that pleasure. Moving for B’s career made us give up some of these comforts and dreams. Not being able to experience the joy of our labors made it more difficult for B to keep up the hard work, determination, and faith that building requires. And I think that stress at work has limited his enthusiasm for projects.

However, recently we decided to sell a property that we have owned for about seven years. This has entailed ripping our a kitchen and installing new cabinets, countertops and backsplash. We have had to repaint the entire place put up new lighting fixtures and vents in all the rooms. It has been a huge undertaking but it has paid off with some unexpected dividends…a closeness that has been missing and the chance to re-visit all of the amazing things we have accomplished together. This isn’t to say that everything is perfect. It isn’t. But it is nice to experience some of our “old selves” again and it is nice to be engaged with one another once more. I have missed this over the past several years. I have missed just being with B and watching him sweat as we struggle to hang a cabinet. I miss having dreams which are flavored with the smell of hard work and the sweetness of a job well done. I have forgotten how just spending time together made me feel connected and how my admiration for my husband would soar when all we worked for came to fruition. And it occurs to me that the respect I feel for this man, who, when exhausted, keeps giving his all, is immense and inspires me to do my best too.

I wish we could work together more. Find new projects to create together. I don’t know that it has to be building but something… anything that will plant new seeds to understanding, respect and appreciation.  I thirst for finding commonalities again with the man that I love. I understand why B wants to lay down his hammer but for me these undertakings  that we embark on together give me a sense of hope and purpose. And even though I can barely move after a day of hard work I would gladly down numerous Tylenol just to spend quality time with B once again. For when we work together I see deeper more personal glimpses of the man I fell in love with and I hope he sees the same in me and it also feels as if there is nothing that we cannot accomplish.

 

Feelings And Fish

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I am not sure this will make sense but I am sure going to try.

Today was THERAPIST DAY. It was a doozie. She always makes me think and dig deep to find my own truths.  This is what she said to me that made me have an “A-hah!” moment. It was something I “knew” yet something that was not yet crystal clear to me.

You would think that at middle age I would have “gotten” this before or at least been observing it under the lens of magnification before, but suddenly today it became very clear. Like turning the dial on the microscope and finally being able to focus in tightly and clearly on the subject, which in this case just happens to be me.

After telling her about how I felt sharing my feelings in my relationship was important and anything less was somehow dishonest, she said, “No one else is expected to honor your feelings except you. They are yours alone. Stop expecting that B will honor what are yours to carry.”

Really! I thought that was what marriage was suppose to be about. Honoring the relationship, honoring one another in that relationship. Apparently not when it comes to your own feelings. No expectations here because all you will be is disappointed. Yeah, I know, the Buddha says the same thing.

“Stop worrying about the stuff up there, what B is doing, what B is thinking” she said looking upwards. “Go deeper and dig to find your own truths. Think of it this way. You know when you walk in one of those aquarium  tunnels and the sharks and fish are swimming above you?  Sure, you could worry about all the murky stuff floating/moving above you, the weight of all those millions of gallons of water, the sharks breaking free and swallowing you whole. But seriously, if you have your feet planted firmly on the floor examining your own truths (these tunnels are safe) and not worrying about the sharks swimming above you, you will finally relax and enjoy what it is you are seeing.  And you will soon see the truth. Your truths. The truths that you are meant to discover. Eventually you will just enjoy watching the fish and will discover that you can ignore the poop that is floating above you. In fact, by ignoring the other (fish poop, worries about tunnel caving in, etc.) then you can really get into it and experience all the wonder of the relationship around you. ”

Now, somehow I am suppose to transfer this bit of fish lore to my life and my relationship with B. I am not exactly sure how, but said therapist assures me that as B is left to look at himself, instead of me trying to get him to see all that is floating around in the water with us; everything will soon become much clearer to me…and to him too. This doesn’t mean everything will turn out the way I would like but at least with clarity comes a sense of truth and knowing what you are doing is the right thing for you… and this woman needs a boat load of that.

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Rabbit Holes

Today we walked the cliffs

I saw Stan the Great Blue Herron

The Spout of a Whale

Several waterfalls

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Wildflowers growing everywhere

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A double rainbow

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Five Wet Horses

100 Sheep and One Goat

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My Kids Playing On The Waters Edge

We Held Hands Like A Old Married Couple

We kissed passionately

Both felt good

We went to dinner

By ourselves

I felt content

We played family games

I had a glass of wine

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And I felt incredibly blessed and grateful…

So how come I still question

If this is real

This new “you and I”

And wonder if this relationship

Is really true

That what I think we have

Is what we really have

Or only what I wish it to be

Will I ever trust?

That we are together forever again?

How does one learn to do that?

Is it time?

A “feeling”?

Words?

A vacation together?

Just enjoying one another’s company?

Or is it a monthly visit to the doctor

For a prescription of xanax?

When do you know it is real again?

Or do you never really know?

So you just sit quietly

Huddled within your own mind

Unable to tell truth from fiction

Anymore….never knowing for sure…

If this what I have to look forward to

For the rest of my life?

This uncertainty at its finest?

And yet…

It feels good

This truce

But how will I ever know

If I can come out from behind

The firing lines

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Safe and secure

That my body will not be riddled

With bullet holes made up of delusions

Of what I think is true

Instead of what really is

Will I ever feel safe in this relationship again?

Or will I always wonder

If I should just jump down the rabbit hole

Instead.

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Uncovering A Historical Treasure

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My cousin is coming down my way to collect some of the family heirlooms. There are marriage certificates, genealogy files and a large box of  letters that are over 100 years old that were sent to my Great grandmother. Apparently she was a “pack rat” or was just extremely sentimental for there are letters from relatives, friends, the Civil War, World War 1, and everything in-between. Tales of the mundane, trips cross country on steam trains, fighting in France and the truly bizarre.

I have been working at cataloging these letters for the past two years but had put them aside for a bit. But because my cousin is coming, I have to get them done in three days. So yesterday, I was scanning and putting up these letters on Ancestry.com when I ran across one dated May 1906. It was from one of my Great grandmother’s best friends who had moved across the country in 1898 to the state of California. In it she describes the HUGE 1906 California Earthquake in which much of San Francisco burned to the ground. She was living about 100 miles away but describes how awful the quake felt as the ground shook.

“Well we are alive and well which is something to be thankful for after such a calamity. The earthquake was severe here and there was much damage in Salinas-but old San Francisco…well it truly makes my heart ache.”

Cora goes on to describe trying to contact her daughters who were living in San Francisco at the time.

“The telephone and telegraph were all down…so there was no way to hear from the girls or get to them. On Saturday at about four we got a letter from them mailed at Stockton. They left the city on Thursday morning-went to Oakland. They were burned out. Lost everything. They only had what they had on their backs when the quake hit.They are thankful to get out alive.”

I love that my great grandmother found such great joy and comfort in the letters she wrote and received. I am also thankful that she saved them for future generations. Due to her example she inspired me to give each of my grandchildren their own letter box. I write them about twice a month telling of family activities, talking about the news and letting them know what I value. All those emails…they will be lost… but the letters I write will always be available to them. I hope they treasure them as much as I enjoy writing them and it is my wish that the “packrat gene” of their Great-great-great Grandmother is lurking somewhere within them!

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Pitter Patter of Little Feet

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Today after a wonderful day in the Florida Keys I arrived back at the hotel and saw my sweet grand babies. My daughter, Noele, drove 10 hours with a three-year-old and an almost two-year-old in the back of her car. She endured much crying, fighting, and a MAJOR puking incident just so she could see us again. Somehow, with all the mistakes we made as parents she turned out just right despite our good intentions. How that happened I will never know.

From the time she was a tween this mother/daughter team could always find something to argue about. Things like… which side of the toast is the correct side to butter, whether being a strict vegan was taking things to the extreme, and if boys were allowed to be in her room. Much to my dismay while I knew I loved her deeply, I didn’t like her  much and our relationship didn’t match the Brady Bunch ideal swimming around in my head.  I would see mothers (Carol) and daughters (Marcia) walking the malls together and it would pull at my heart. Seeing teens and their mothers enjoying a movie together hurt like hell. And those mothers who ran the Booster Club with their kids helping along side them…I knew it was never going to happen.

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B hunkered down. As a man who avoids conflict at all costs, having two of the women he loved most in the world living in a war zone with him serving as a NATO soldier trying to broker a peace deal was not an easy task. He never could understand all the slammed doors and word grenades being flung from one side of the house to the other and he visibly cringed when skirmishes erupted.

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When Noele was fifteen I never envisioned that we would have any sort of relationship until she kicked my casket into the ground. In fact, my biggest hope was that she would graduate early so she could move out of the house sooner and after a year away as an international exchange student, she returned home more stubborn and determined to ignore anything thing we had to say. And who could blame her? She tasted freedom for a year and wanted even more. The parental role I once relished became a nightmare and a battle of wills ensued in which both of us suffered heavy losses. Recovery seemed remote.

But then it happened. One day she grew up and into her own woman. It took a while and a first child for that to happen. The birth of my granddaughter brought several miracles along with her. No longer at odds with each other our commonalities soon surfaced and within those we found mutual respect and a deep well filled with love that was once bone dry.

These days we live at opposite ends of the country. We SKYPE almost daily so we can share tidbits of our daily lives and so that her kids “know” their Grammy and Papa. Noele willingly comes and takes care of her own children plus her brothers and sister so B and I can travel to far-flung places. I can’t imagine someone I would rather invest in a friendship with than my daughter. She values family, is generous with her time and is a good all-around person who has made me proud.

Tomorrow I will wake up with little ones running into my arms again. Squishy hugs and wet kisses will fill my day. We will squirm together, laugh together, and make real- life memories together. And its all because of her…my daughter…a once formidable foe who is now one of my best friends.

 

Great-Grandma’s Door

When B’s grandmother died 10 years ago we went into the barn where we discovered a beautiful old wooden screen door. It used to belong on the farmhouse of B’s great grandmother who had died well into her 90’s. We picked up that old door and took it with us and it has accompanied us move after move where it has always been taken out to the shed.

Now I am not one of those artsy-fartsy kind of gals. I can’t walk and chew gum at the same time. (Well, actually I NEVER chew gum because it is one thing that is completely non-biodegradable) So most things around my house are usually made by someone else, usually in a far off land by a person who probably works for slave wages. Yes, I feel guilty. So to absolve me from some of it; I decided to create something and that is where the door came into play.

Several years ago our dog decided that the we didn’t need a gate between the house and side yard so he destroyed it in about 2.2 seconds. Today, I created a new gate out of great-grandma’s door.  I think she would be pleased.

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On a totally different topic, today I took a picture of our cabin off of Google Earth. It is not a great picture but is shows the old cooks cabin up front and a little bit of our two story addition. The fire is edging closer everyday but there has been enough time that the firefighters have been able to create many bulldozer paths in an effort to stop the blaze should it get closer than the 3 miles away that it is.

Sadly, in this morning’s fire report I noticed that six cabins were lost nearby. I grieve for those folks.

Our Cabin from Google Earth

Yesterday, in a last ditch effort,  I decided to call the sheriffs office. I knew that the road up to the cabin had been closed but I wondered if residents were allowed up. While I would be disappointed to lose the cabin, its the things that reside within it are much more important to me. There is a huge old tool box that I use as a coffee table. My great great grandfather brought it with him on the ship from Germany in 1854. There is the drop-leaf dining table on which my 80 yo father had his tonsils removed by the doctor who made house calls. There is the bookcase that B made in high school and the old chest that was in his grandmother’s attic.  And there is the old wooden ironing board that I use as a long table below the window that looks out onto the cedar trees. Those are the things that are meaningful to me. They are family things that are precious and are irreplaceable…like family itself.

And so I will keep my fingers crossed for the cabin, for family treasures, and for the firefighters who are battling tough conditions, unbearable heat and exhaustion. For in the end, a cabin is just a building, but to the families of these 1,000 firefighters who are  trying to save these mountains and villages, they are waiting for something far more important. They are waiting to know that their loved ones are finally headed home safe and sound once more and that is what is truly important.