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Family Is Everywhere

Sometimes family is not related by blood. You can meet them in the grocery store, the park, or like me this week, on vacation at a campground.  Everywhere I turn there are happy people who love their time here.  That has become so rare in my world.

Simple Life

Most people I see are in a hurry to get to their next thing.  Listening and paying attention to others has become rare.  Isolation has become normal and add to that social media, you can fake that you have friends and listening is replaced with a “like” symbol.

As I have always known, every person has a story to tell.  This week there are many that have openly told theirs.  Some have kept us laughing while others brought tears and empathy.  Each campsite is unique and radiates an individual welcome sign for all who pass by.  The common denominator though are patios with lights that twinkle saying “come on in — tell us about yourself.”

When did neighborhoods become so unfriendly? Why does different mean fear? Why are backyards empty?  Isolation has become an accepted daily ritual.  That safety net is the road to loneliness.

Everyone Welcome

I am convinced it is time to change the community atmosphere. Every block should designate the house where everyone feels welcomed and finds real social interaction.  Walking in the door means turning off the TV and cell phone — listening to individual stories of the week.

Re-learning a feeling of community will feel like riding a bike.  It won’t be hard to remember how to do it.

Kindness Is Contagious — Sherry Carver

 

What I’ve Learned So Far-May 24

What I’ve Learned So Far…. May 24

Being ORGANIZED brings me peace — I know what I have and take the time to think an extra minute before buying more ……

 

Being CURIOUS keeps me moving forward even if I don’t feel like it ……

 

Being BRAVE has given me courage to take on jobs just to see if they fit me . . . it also helps me say no when my gut finally tells me to ….

 

Being KIND brings silent rewards that last an entire lifetime.

“Kind” by Sherry Carver 2020

 

My four favorite words ….

 

When Movies Matter

. . . Memories
May be beautiful and yet
What’s too painful to remember
We simply to choose to forget
So it’s the laughter
We will remember
Whenever we remember
The way we were”
Songwriters: Marvin Hamlisch, Marilyn Bergman, Alan Bergman.

Tonight is the Oscar Ceremony.  I used to be glued to this award show and would never miss it.  I tried hard to watch all the movies that were being honored.  I treated it like a holiday and made sure dinner was special.

I now barely watch the show.  What happened?  Did I lose interest?  Have reality shows ruined the medium?  Does the ability to stream so much content overwhelm me?  Did social media and all of it’s revelations ruin my imagination?

For so long, movies were my escape into a world that I always thought of as magical.  The stars of the movie seemed impossible to know — they were mysterious and their private lives were unknown for the most part.  They could be who I saw in the movie — even if for just a little while.

I pictured being a kid in “The Sound of Music” and the family escaping into happiness through their music.  I wanted to be the girl who made everyone laugh in “Funny Girl” and develop strength to carry on in the face of heartbreak.  I could see myself saving my family from ruin in “Gone With The Wind” and being Dorothy in “The Wizard of Oz” who longed for the feeling of home.

My parents own divorce came the same year as “The Way We Were” and my tears rolled uncontrollably when Katie and Hubbell decided they were never going to compromise enough to stay together — they could not find their way back to each other and although it stung, it opened the door to healing my own heart.

It is important to escape thoughts — it is not unrealistic to believe that everything will turn out okay in the end — dreaming that you are like the people you admire is essential to finding out what you are made of.   The opportunity for many takes before making decisions is always your own choice.

 

 

Alone Days For Mom

Every now and then I find the need for an alone day.  My life is very structured at this moment and I feel happy to break free  and have a day with no particular plan.

I think my entire family gets a signal from the universe when I pack up my IPad and head to my favorite coffee shop to write.  They follow me there — they want to be a part of my day.  How can I turn that down? I like talking to them one on one outside of the house.  They feel heard when it is just me without the interruptions that happen at home.  They are there to absorb my energy and not rush the conversations. I value these times more than they will ever know.

I learned a valuable tool with my family relationships.  Don’t give away every detail — leave them wanting more facts/ideas/stories.  Too many words get lost on my kids and husband.  They are looking for fresh takes on life and a back and forth discussion — not an entire history of my life and how I made it to this point.  Listening is the key to keeping them close.  Silence allows for full thoughts to be spoken and heard.

There is the inevitable break when I know they are done.  A look at a watch , a deep breath or a move away from the table is my signal.  I have learned to let them go at that moment.  Leave them wanting a next time — leave them walking away with a new perspective — leave them knowing they are valued and loved.

Transitions are hard for me.  I don’t like to let go of the moment.  My close relationships are with my husband and kids because they give me honest feedback and know me well.  Other relationships are pivotal and are tied to sharing common interests.  I have been burned many times when I divulge too much and gave more than was necessary or wanted. I would rather spend time alone than feel hurt or rejected simply for being me.  Is that what you call growing up? Content? Feeling at Peace?

I don’t need to prove my worth to them.  I feel it.  I see it in their eyes.  Time is going fast.  It’s not always the words that are remembered but the feelings from the moments that are cherished on both sides of the conversation.

Adventure — My Word For 2023

Adventure has never been a word in my vocabulary.  I am familiar with the sound of responsible, organized, reliable, loyal and love.  I have not been able to just live for the moment. If I have free time you will find me at my computer, figuring out budgets and spending.

I have an E-Bike — it’s collecting dust in the garage.  I have a gym membership that is free — I go maybe twice a week.  I am surrounded by hiking trails — I never discover where they start and where they end.  In order to begin exploring, I need to step away from the computer.

Maybe yoga or kayaking . . . where are those hiking trails?

The problem is I always start with ideas — My brain has a thousand of them.

It’s the actual doing that makes me freeze.

It’s time to jump into the deep end.  What am I waiting for . . . time is moving fast.  I will regret not finding out what I am like as a risk taker.

When Home Comforts Your Adult Children

I looked around and was so grateful that we did not downsize and sell our family home.  Many times it has been a haven for our adult children as a place to land, rest and recharge to get back out into the world.

It is okay to need this in life.  I longed for my childhood family home in Long Beach and drive by it often.  Stepping into the house you grew up in brings back daydreams and memories.  I went through so many phases — I wanted to be a nun, a teacher, a dancer and the possibility of all of those choices was real.  Being outside all day was filled with adventure.

At some time or another all of our four children have had to come home for a bit.  It was always a bit stressful but it cemented their desire to be back out on their own as soon as they had spent enough time sitting on the couch, with the remote, thinking.

Life never follows a straight road — no matter how well the plan is.

When we bought this house we had a plan. We had no idea if it would work or last this long. This is the house we bought together after each of us had been divorced.  We raised his, mine and ours the best we could.  It was not smooth nor what each of us needed at times but it was familiar and filled with love and good intentions.

Family gathering place

Now the four grandkids are growing up with a sense of fun and wonder in the remodeled house.  We renovated about 10 years ago and it turned out to be magical.  An art room for him and an office for me.  Seems as we’ve gotten older we needed more space to stretch our creativity.  So many lives have been nurtured here and I can’t imagine a moving truck coming to take it all apart.

Sunset

 

 

Making Math Fun

I saw Winnie Cooper interviewed the other day — I mean Danica McKeller who played Winnie on The Wonder Years.  She was a character in the show who was unapoligetically smart.  She loves acting and she loves math.  She continues to this day to do both and seems joyful that at a young age she accepted both sides of her brain.

She explained that she learned early on that acting could be unreliable as a career and decided that she would develop her math career as fervently as her acting.  We are all lucky that she did.

She has used her love of math to study and create a series of math books that could change a child’s life when told that math is not their strong point.  I was one of those kids.  Unfortunately, I got excused from pushing myself as a girl in the 1970’s.   I used the age old excuse “when will I use this math anyway?”  I went on to limit my math exposure and therefore, I believe my brain growth.  I always shied away from solving problems, I just learned to get along.

There came a day though in my thirties when I longed for more challenges in my life.  I enrolled in college and my first roadblock was math.  In order to get my degree, math was a required subject.  I tested and was enrolled in a prerequisite to the math that would give me credits.  An entire summer of catch up — three weeks, 5 hours a day.  I was not enthusiastic to say the least, but I stuck with it. I began to thaw my rigid mindset that I was not good at math.  Once I opened the door to that thought, I started understanding how to solve problems.  I credit that course, that did not count toward my degree, as my confidence turning point.

I found my love of math through keeping financial records for individuals, businesses and myself.  I gravitated toward numbers and find that when they are put together in monthly reports can tell a story that words cannot.  Most people shy away from knowing their financial standing and guess at what their level of security is.  I help them not be afraid of it, I stand in the way of worry.  I create a safe environment to learn how to plan for the future.  I love helping people lose their guesswork and give them facts.

Danica had it right from a very early age.  She now authors amazing books and I have bought two of them “Do Not Open This Math Book” and “The Times Machine.”  In addition to my fascination with monthly income and expenses, I now help students learn math in special education.  I have a new frontier, how students learn and to accept that everyone learns differently.  Confidence is the essential building block to the open door to never again being told you are not good at something.  I kept challenging myself and even though it took me a bit longer to obtain my bachelor degree, I pushed hard to break the stereotype that I was too old to conquer new things.

I Can’t Draw –But I’m Creative

I just read this article and decided that even though I can’t draw that does not mean that I’m not creative in my own way . . . . . . .

Creating a Mental Studio

I have come to learn that creativity is essential to every day life.  There is so much bad news and stress — waking up can be overwhelming.   I realize that I don’t have to work every minute of the day to feel worthwhile. 

I found what I love — I write to express all the thoughts that build up in my head.  I take apart and put back together closets and cupboards to sort my brain and help it organize itself.  I listen to podcasts to make sure it is not just my opinion that I listen to. I walk to take in the feeling of calm that nature gives.  I clean to be able to start fresh and know what I have.   

A few reminders from some favorite writers ~~ Joyce Maynard and Bob Brush ~~

I Can’t Fix The Space If The People Are Broken

There are times I am called to come and make things right.  People are not happy but cannot pinpoint the reason why.  I have long learned that “I can’t fix the space if the people are broken.” 

There are so many reasons to get stuck and it usually ends up with never being able to donate, trash or organize our stuff.   As a raving fan of Marie Kondo — I love this quote by her;

The space in which we live should be for the person we are becoming now, not for the person we were in the past.

Marie Kondo

I enter a person’s space and can visualize their headspace.  Priorities surface immediately.  I just let them talk about their frustrations and listen for clues.  I leave with a notebook of ideas but wait for that second call to start.  No one wants to empty a room, drawer, desk or closet but that is where I know the process begins.  

I now use this concept as a teacher’s aide.  Desks have a flow.  Finding a place for everything gives a feeling of calm.  A cluttered room leads to cluttered thinking or in particular overwhelm.  Overwhelm leads to getting nothing done.  People need a space of their own and a way to keep it exactly the way that gives them peace.  Make time to use your creative side. . . . . . . . 

Create a Garden

Discover Photography

Grief

“Grief, I’ve learned, is really just love. It’s all the love you want to give but cannot. All of that unspent love gathers up in the corners of your eyes, the lump in your throat, and in the hollow part of your chest. Grief is just love with no place to go.” — Jamie Anderson

I can’t think of a better way to describe the emptiness that comes with sudden loss, irreversible loss, loss of a future.

I have had two neighbors lose their husbands in the last few months. Their grief is deep and inconsolable at times. Their planned futures are cut short and they are left with daily chores that seem meaningless. It speaks to the magic of a couple who work together side by side to create a home and a life. When one is gone — the dreams die quickly.

While not the same, the grief the world is feeling is quite like dreams dying while we wait out the pandemic spread to wane. No one was prepared to abruptly stop normalcy and stay home with no end in sight. That is the scary phrase “no end in sight.” What do we do with our plans, our goals and all the pent up energy that feels wasted?

It took me a while to accept change. One month turned into three and then four and we are entering month five. This length of time of altered plans will stay in our brains for a long time. I am finally believing that life will not return as it was last year.

That fact is not easy to accept. Seems that the 21st Century is trying to tell us something about normalcy. It won’t let us get complacent. There was 9/11 which shook our security to new lows. There was the financial meltdown of the stock and real estate markets of 2008-2009. Now the pandemic has created a world wide shift of the economy, business solvency and social gatherings. Every day there are more deaths to report. Seemingly healthy people suddenly end up in the hospital in a life or death situation. Staying home is the safest place.

My life had evolved into very little staying home. I found joy in the career I had created and spent my free time at my local coffee shop writing. Home was just a place to regroup and set up for the next day. The forced stay at home was not easy to accept.

As in the past, I have found that boredom breeds creativity. I discovered that being outside gardening is much more fun that sitting inside watching TV. Sitting outside with my IPad is better for me than sitting in a coffee shop. Staying home more is better than getting up early and being gone all day.

I’m getting more sleep. I found gardening is a great hobby. Getting outside is relieving anxiety and giving me a new sense of peace. I don’t miss the busyness I created.

Losing my daily routine is not near as difficult as the grief my two neighbors are experiencing. The grief that the world is going through is on different levels but grief nonetheless.

Has this been eye opening? Yes. Has it been easy? No. Do I want my life to return to how it was in 2019? No.

I have found a new joy in a simpler life. I appreciate what my husband and I have built together. To lose him in the middle of our journey would have been devastating. I am grateful that we are facing this together. Plans have to change for many reasons.

Slowing down has helped me prioritize where I spend my time. Slowing down has opened my eyes to appreciation. Slowing down has made me focus on where I hope to be in a few years. Needing recognition and “stuff” is not necessary. Being outdoors, exercising and eating home cooked meals are a start to a better life.

My Joy of Gardening
Simple Beauty
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