The Red Knob


Fear is something that we can’t run from. It is something that we must face head on. Some of us try to pretend that it doesn’t exist and some of us, run like hell from it all of our lives. Others tend to run into it head on. There are all kinds of new shows out about it. Fear Factor and extreme “believe it or not” shows that try to up the last outrageous stunt or depending on it’s success, crash! I am not sure where these people come from, but they all have one thing in common, they all need that rush that comes with being afraid. That is why we jump out of airplanes and walk on hot coals and swim with the sharks. They believe that fear is something that they must embrace in order to get that “high” that comes with feeling alive.

In my lifetime, I have taken a few challenges of my own. I have flown a glider without an engine, more than once! I actually have a log book of not only flights I took with an instructor but solo flights where it was just little old me, being pulled up by a power plane and then expected to pull a red knob.

For those of you who have never flown a sail plane, let me explain, on the dashboard, there is a red knob that connects you to the line connected to the power plane. You start out being pulled up by the plane in front of you. Up, up, up. It is a strange feeling. You see the power plane hit turbulence and then you hit it a few seconds later, all as you are rising to the correct altitude. There is a moment and a signal that indicates the exact time when you are supposed to pull that red knob to release the power plane. It is an excruciatingly empowering moment. And yet, it is probably the most afraid I have ever been. How funny, to realize, that even after I experienced that fear, I did it over and over and over again, logging several more solo flights.

I remember the first time that I sat inside that cockpit, only enclosed by a dome of pexi-glass, ready to be pulled up by the plane that would take me to heights I never dreamed I would go, especially without an engine, I wondered what in the world was I thinking! And I remember also thinking “my dad would kill me if he could see me!” And he almost did~ but then he ended up doing it with me! He even went on to take lessons and solo too! And that is a memory I will cherish forever.

I think that flying above the clouds without an engine and having to rely on only myself to get me on the ground is a lot less frightening than what I have been going through the last few years. Sometimes falling in love is scary, and falling out of it is like holding onto that red knob for dear life, in a quick downward spiral. It really doesn’t matter if you hold on to it or not because you have already let go..

But wait, you can recover. They do teach you that. The emergency runway is somewhere down there, you look and see it and then the adrenalin pushes you to new heights. Courage clicks in and all the lessons you learned about recovery and landing take over and you find that being afraid and being brave have nothing  to do with the red knob after all. And relying on just myself? Well I have since realized that I never have to feel afraid again. I never have to pull the red knob or worry about  where I am going to land because, with God as the pilot of that power plane pulling me up, I truly never have to let go..

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The Difference Makers


A child is supposed to feel safe. And yet if that is the case, why are so many adults in therapy?

Some people had wonderful childhoods and were raised with caring and loving parents who taught them right from wrong, others had good parents and comfortable childhoods and their parents made mistakes but did the best they could. And still, others had horrific childhoods and terrible parents and seem perfectly fine. And yet all of these people have one thing in common. An inner child who is still there.

Recently, I have gone through a process of recognizing my inner child. She is the one who doesn’t trust because those who she trusted hurt her. She is the one who was never allowed to talk about her anger and so she learned how to lash out. She is the one who always wanted a voice, and now speaks too loudly sometimes. She is the one who felt so out of control most of her life, so that now she needs to control EVERTYTHING!. She is the one who was disappointed and so only sees the negative in things so she will never be disappointed again.

Ahhh, that feels so negative. It really isn’t. My inner child remembers the great things too. She loves to learn and organize and create and run and laugh and play. She has a special handful of friends that she trusts with her life and would do anything for. She always looks forward to a good time. She is in there too, all of her. Experiences and memories, Lessons and moments, all moving her along like editing a motion picture.

Stop and close your eyes and find your inner child. Who is he or she, really? If we all got a chance to go back and meet each other’s inner children, and really understand where the guy who cut you off on the freeway or the back stabbing, coworker at work first began, perhaps maybe we would have more compassion for all of them.

The little girl who was always worried that her Daddy wouldn’t get home safely because of his drinking, the little boy who felt brushed aside because his mother was too busy getting ready to go out. The kid who always heard fighting and never knew when the next explosion would take place. The little step son who never could do anything right, the kid who always waited for his dad to show up when each time he never did.

Always lonely, always worried, always brushed aside, feeling unimportant, abandoned,  the one who started out not fitting into his own family, always seeking the perfect place where he could feel as if he belonged. The little girl who had to grow up fast because she wasn’t allowed to be the child. Always fixing, always nurturing.  Always performing, and yet she was just a little girl, but today not quite a grown up.

And yet the parents that did come through, the other family members who stepped up to the plate when they were needed most, the friends and mentors, the teachers, the ones who gave them a voice, the protectors and rescuers, of those who were lucky enough to have them, all MADE A DIFFERENCE.

Today, if we look inside of ourselves, we all can find a piece of that child still lingering inside of each of us. Perhaps if we all reached out to just one child we recognized as hurting, and began mentoring instead of criticizing, hugging instead of scolding, teaching instead of berating, sharing with instead of rushing away, we might just break the cycle and begin to lead the way, to find the children and to become the protector, the mentor and the difference maker, in a way helps lead the child inside of them to a place where we all can grow up and be someone else’s hero. Because…. all of those children eventually grow up to remember the difference makers in their own lives and hopefully, someday will grow up to  become somebody else’s hero.


It was quiet. The morning’s summer sun flooded the stair case as the woman slowly walked up the steps leading to the attic. Imagining the room before she opened the door, she felt happy. She was finally going to start this project that she had thought was only in her dreams. She had finally set aside time and was determined to begin to make her dream of having a serious place to write come true. In her dreams she saw it all so clearly… The heavy old well oiled desk filled with lots of drawers and dents and hidden compartments sat in front of a beautiful bay window overlooking the tree tops as the little brook sparkled as it jumped over stones in the creek bed below The birds chirped and flew among the branches, dipping down from time to time to splash in the little brook and get a drink.

The floor was refinished with rustic old barn wood and the wall to wall shelves were filled with books. Classics, and every other book about writing that you might imagine. The comfy over stuffed leather swivel chair sat in front of the desk with her laptop, just waiting for her as a fireplace consumed the other side of the room with a cozy sofa and throw placed just so.

Her imagination danced as she opened the door. She immediately was met with the musty scent of memories. It wasn’t a bad smell, kind of like when you take a whiff of a very old book, it is hard to explain just how great of a smell that truly is. Eyes still sparkling, she left the door ajar and surveyed her task at hand, only to be met with the reality of what really was behind the door… She did not see her beautiful writing room waiting for her to pen her first novel, instead she was met with boxes and boxes and more boxes, and stacks and stacks of books and old trunks all filled with things her family had accumulated throughout the years. Some had names of her children on them, others herself and others her husband. Some had names written across the tops or sides of them, of what was supposedly inside.

She looked at the place where her daughter had started helping her several years ago when she had first shared her idea of making the attic a study to use for writing. Everyone had been extremely helpful at first, promising to help clear out their own boxes. But now, severaly years later nothing had been cleared out. It did look as if her daughter had made an attempt at one time, and now it looked like a story standing still, as if her young daughter had been abruptly called away to go live her life. She smiled. It looked as if she had started to organize things, one pile might have been a keep pile and another, a throw away or give away, she was not sure.

Everyone was happily living their lives, consumed by their own busy schedules which truly made her happy. She side stepped the piles of teddy bears and books and kneeled down to unlatch a trunk among all the others. Not sure what she would find. The woman lifted the lid. All at once, she was transported back into another time as if finding a time capsule. She lifted old loose photographs remembering and set a stack of yearbooks from every year on the floor beside her. She was just ready to thumb through the first one when something caught her eye. It was a box inside the trunk with packing tape securing each end. In big black marker it read PRIVATE with warnings of not to open, scrawled in her own youthful handwriting.

She sat with the box in her hands. So unlike the girl, who had packed that box away decades ago. She thoughtfully frowned and then slowly reached for some scissors and snipped through the aged tape easily. Inside, she discovered history. On top of everything she found her diary, still locked shut, but how silly, a key hung from the lock. She laughed quietly as she remembered always faithfully locking it and then hiding it with the key still attached.

She took the key and unlatched the little lock. As soon as she saw the familiar handwriting she felt a sadness as she remembered writing and the feelings of love and heartbreak and confusion that consumed her during that time of her life. The time when writing helped her survive, and it inspired her to go through the boxes and finally give herself that place to write, a place to tell her story.

Smelling The Vanilla


Over the years I have figured out that I am a very competitive person and when I go to the Fair and see a line of people waiting to pay (what is it now?) five or six bucks for a cinnamon roll, it makes me want to set up my own little booth right next to them and go toe to toe feeling quite confident that I could give them a run for their money. My cinnamon rolls have been my little name to fame over the years with my friends and family but only a few know my secret.  They are the ones who I have given my recipe to…. As for most of my better recipes, my little secrets are my short cuts.

Thanks to being inspired by the cinnamon rolls at the Fair and my daughter encouraging me to move my blog  into a more informative direction       by gently telling me ENOUGH of the midlife crisis stories… I thought I’d change it up a bit. And offer something up to you guys who loyally take the time to drudge through all of my blogginess … you guys will be the first to benefit from some of my best kept short cut secrets…

The cinnamon roll recipe that I am about to share with you will give you a batch of cinnamon rolls for the price of the ONE you might buy at the Fair!

Mama’s Cinnamon Rolls

Ingredients:

Frozen pkg of Bridgeford Bread (the main secret ingredient!)

1/4 cup butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 Tbsp. Cinnamon

1/2 cup raisins

1/2 cup walnuts

Bake in greased 350 degrees for 45 mins. (Each oven is different so you have to play with the time)

Instructions….

Let dough thaw, until it is still cold to the touch but easy to roll.  On a floured bread board roll roll out the dough until it is about 1/2 inch, then butter with softened butter. Sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon. Nuts and raisins are optional but if you are going to do it right I say add em all!

After sprinkling all ingredients evenly, roll dough into a tube and slice about 1 inch thick

Place in a greased pan and cover with a clean towel, let rise (Approximately 1 – 2 hours)                                                                                      While you are waiting for the rolls to rise, make the icing…                                                                                                                                                                      The icing is the actual trick (besides using frozen dough of course!)

Icing Ingredients:

1  8oz softened pkg of cream cheese

1 half cup softned butter

1 Tbsp Vanilla!!!! (Not Teaspoon, this is another secret)

1 pound sifted powdered sugar (last secret I am giving!)

half and half (other secret of mine) Start out with 1/4 cup (add more depending on desired consistencey)

Cream the cream cheese & butter, adding about 1/4 cup sifted powdered sugar at a time, add vanilla and keep adding the sugar and then slowly add the half and half to the consistency you are aiming for. Set aside….

Bake freshly risen rolls (lightly covered with foil)  in a pre-heated 350- 375 oven (middle rack) for 30 to 45 mins.  checking periodically since all ovens are different.  You have to play with this recipe a few times to avoid burning on top.  Take foil off the last 15 minutes  of baking to brown. They should have a golden baked appearance and the middle rolls should be flakey and not underdone. I have used a few diffent ovens in my lifetime and all are slightly different. After actually writing this all out… I do realize that just perhaps this recipe is a little more work than I may have considered. My short cut is eliminating actually making the dough which was always a big mess for me to have to clean up. But even so, this recipe truly is a labor of love. In the end, it may very well be worth the time to stand in line and pay $6 bucks for one of these sinful creations! But if your love language is making yourself, I guarantee it will be worth it! Huh Brookie? My little Vanilla sniffer!

Through The Happy Door


There was a recent show on one of the cable channels called finding Erica, it was about a Therapist who sends a young girl in her thirties through all these doors during their sessions. Each door is a place in her past where she gets to have a “do – over” I never really watched it faithfully while it was on the air but the few episodes I did see, really touched me to the core. The writing was amazing and it just made you think.

What if we could go back? What if we could get a “do over” of sorts? Would you walk through that door? What if on that door it said…. “HAPPY” with the promise of fixing what wasn’t (happy, that is)  in your life today,  what if you walked through it, you were guaranteed to find the happiness you thought you couldn’t find anywhere else?

Recently, I was given that opportunity. Or so I thought.  I opened that door a little over a year ago. Once I even stepped inside. But for the most part I just hung outside looking in, wondering “what if”… What if things had been different? What if I knew then what I knew now? What would I have done? Would I have stayed and tried to make it work?

I am not sure why I got a chance to go back inside for a while and look around. It rocked my world. It hurt a lot of people I love. It hurt me most of all. But I think it was allowed so that I could see that you really can’t go back. Voices may sound the same, smells and songs may dance inside your heart and if you close your eyes you might not see that everyone is older, hair has grayed or receded, people aren’t as thin as they used to be, skin is wrinkled. It alarms you how EVERYTHING has changed! And yet not everything. You learn that, some things never change. The things that drove you away in the first place slowly appear and you realize that maybe, walking away is the best thing you could ever have done. And just maybe, happy is not back there. Maybe happy is right in front of you. Maybe you are the one who is stopping your own happy by holding on to that door knob and not letting go.

I know when I walked back through that door, I was snapped back to another time. A time that had been hell and heaven. I was young and fun again and so was everyone else. No one was old in that room. No graying or receding hair, no wrinkles or aching bones. I was thin and pretty and everyone else was much, much younger. In my mind, if I closed my eyes, the fantasy continued.  A time that owned my happiness for a short while but also gave me the clearest glimpse of hell I have ever seen. A time that kept a piece of my heart and yet I knew I wanted it back and so I went on a journey to get it, and for a long time, not really knowing if I was ever going to walk out that door again or if I wanted to.

I didn’t find my heart but I did find answers or perhaps maybe even lessons,   like…. You can never go back,       or….    like…. Finding happy may be actually finding it in your own backyard…. I wasted a year convincing myself that little problems I already had were bigger and that going backwards was going to solve everything when going backwards was just that, going backwards! Well finally, the last lesson learned, has pushed me back through the door. Things really do never change and walking out that door was the smartest thing I ever did back then. Not that other doors I have walked through have not also taught me lessons but this one has been the biggest one of all. It has taught me to not look back. So I walk out the door and turn around to look at it one last time as I shut it FOREVER and remove the “HAPPY” sign and decide that I am taking it with me into the future.

Back To School Aisles


It’s getting closer to that time that we all dread. Letting go. Summer is in mid swing with the shadows of fall lurking in the distance and the aisles at stores are filling up with back to school items. The latest super heroes are finding their places onto new lunch boxes and back packs.
 I remember how overwhelming it was the first year I realized that I wouldn’t be taking my daughter school clothes shopping anymore. She could take herself. The years of choosing back packs together were being replaced with her very own checking account and searching for apartments. It is enough to take any mother’s breath away, especially when you have a good relationship with you kidlet.
You know that the world is full of hard knocks and lessons learned and I am here to say that my baby was not above being saved from some of those lesson. She has had her heart broken by boys… had falling out with roommates… moved more times than I can count, had cars towed and gotten in a few accidents, not to mention the parking tickets.  But the thing I hold on to is, she has survived it all.
She has graduated from school, obtained agents and fallen into some great job opportunities as she continues to reach for her goal of being an actress. Another thing we have both had to survive. Being an Actress is filled with rejection which for her is not easy to take and for me watching, is not easy. As parents, we spent a lot of time protecting and preparing our kids from some of those hard knock life experiences. We can’t help but be hesitant to push those babies out of the nest and yet we need to embrace the blessing of being able to let go and enjoy the flight.
Think about it… how sad would it be if the mother bird kept one last egg all to herself? She thought that she was protecting that baby and yet she was actually hindering it’s life. We have to remember that letting go is part of the process. We can’t sit on those eggs forever!
I am here to say it is survivable. It is a growing experience for us both. I know friends who’s kids still live at home and they don’t appreciate one another as much as I enjoy my kids. Life is a series of events and one big one is letting go.
While, those aisles of Back To School items still “get” to me every year, I have to say, I am glad for the next phase. I earned it. Sure, I enjoyed the times when I was needed for a ride to and from where ever it was that my kids needed to go and our talks to and from, time together during those rides. But I can’t say I miss the fights to get kids up in the morning and pack lunches and find homework while struggling to be on time for it all. Today, I get myself up and am beginning to write a new chapter.
I am learning to embrace the part of life that includes me, myself and I and as I pass by the Back To School aisles I may get a little melancholy but I realize that there is more ahead for me and Back To School Night has been replaced with a writing class for me!

Just Enough


Big beautiful houses with amazing views and rooms stuffed full of expensive furniture have always been something I have envied. I love HGTV and touring homes of all kinds. I have always loved going through model homes and imagining which room I would use to write in. But lately, something is amiss. I feel empty in those big wonderful houses and I have to say that I don’t think I would want one anymore.

Years ago, I went to Mexico with my cousin. We took an old beaten up bus to what seemed like another side of the world. It wasn’t too far away from the commercialized places of Puerto Vallarta where our beautiful hotel was waiting for us or where the cluster of begging children waited in the outskirts, it was a town my cousin had researched and it was a place that made me happy. It wasn’t tropical or beautiful. In fact, it was dusty and kind of beaten up, like the bus we arrived on. But the people all seemed so happy and the children were what really touched my heart. They were playing with sticks and rocks and as happy as they knew how to be. I have never forgotten that picture in my mind and have realized that no amount of money can ever fabricate the down in the gut “happy” that they displayed. Their houses were less than modest and the town was far from prosperous and yet those people were rich in a way that is hard for me to explain.

When I moved into my very first apartment, all of my furniture was hand me downs. Furniture my parents let me take from my bedroom and others that my friend’s parents let me buy from them for a lot less than it was worth! We made due with wood shelves made from bricks and boards and I bought our 1950s stove and refrigerator at a garage sale down the street for $35 bucks! I would have to hammer the ice out of the freezer every few weeks but that was okay because I was in love and so happy.

I look back at those times and nothing in all the rooms filled with furniture can bring that kind of happy back. Our rent was $175 and our landlord knocked off $15 from the rent if I would sweep the stairs! He was wonderful.  He knew how much $15 meant to us. He was such a wonderful landlord and I loved him God bless old Mr. Allen.

We lived a block away from the beach and though we didn’t have a lot, we always saved our change each week to walk up to Pacific Diner for Sunday morning breakfast. We had Saturday BBQs with our next door neighbors and walked on the beach. Every once in a while we would go to the swap meet but for the most part we were happy. The kind of happy those kids had in that little town near Puerto Vallarta.  Everything about those days were simple and love filled our bank accounts and that seemed as if that is all we needed.

A few years ago I met one of my best friends from back in those days, who still lives near my old neighborhood  at Pacific Diner with my daughter. It is still there and still good. Afterwards I took my daughter on a trip down memory lane to show her where her Daddy and I lived when we were her age now! It was bittersweet. I guess the message here is ; back in those days, we looked ahead, so wanting to move fast into the future. Today, we look back now understanding that THOSE really were the good old days and tomorrow these will be.

My mother in law tells us that when she was our age, they were just beginning their lives. They have done so much in-between and are still going strong. And it makes me realize that it is all relative. Someone else’s “stuff” may not seem like a lot and to other’s it may seem like wonderful treasures. I have lived in plenty and in want. And I know that I have not always appreciated what I have had and I have not had a lot and appreciated it more.

I have learned that I need to look at where I came from and really figure out if I need a huge house filled with furniture and great views or if just a rock and a stick might be enough. All I know is that where I sit, the view is perfect if it is with people I love and I can find the same kind of happy there that was just enough for those little kids in that dusty Mexican town who didn’t know any better, or perhaps knew more than all of us.

Or maybe I just need to go reconnect with the younger version of me, who for just a while, had just enough.

Going Barefoot!


We all have that place inside of us where a part of us is left behind. I find it funny how important it is. I mean think of it, we live for an average of about eighty years or more if we are lucky, and such a small portion of that life is being a child. But it is our foundation from which we have come from and we all need to reckon with it during certain times in our life. Some people even block out huge chunks of time from their memories, others dismiss it as unimportant. But no matter where you are in your life, someday you will have to go back and consider the places you left a part of you and gather it up and move on.  Everyone’s level of tolerance is relative. Even the best of childhoods in the most storybook settings have cause and effect. You could have been raised as the middle child in the most amazing of family’s without an issue or you may have been raised as the middle child in the most amazing of family’s and have profound issues. As I said, it is all relative.

I never really understood how much I was affected by the first years of my life. I was a child raised in the sixties in an upper middleclass family by two parents who loved each other from what I saw, and rarely if ever, witnessed a cross word between them, let alone a fight. My dad was an executive in some pretty high profile companies and the first big company he worked for was Mattel Toys. I was a tester child. Poor me. He would bring home toys not yet out on the market and I would get to play with them and I guess he would report back how I responded. It was not a hard knock life by any stretch of the imagination.

However, we all have those dirty little secrets that no one talks about. In my family, ours was alcohol. Not so much the falling down drunk, kind of alcoholic but the worried about him getting home from a dinner meeting or dining and wining the clients, type of constant worry.  In the sixties you could still drive to the lake with a bottle of beer between your legs or drink on the beach. Seatbelts were optional and they would pile us kids in the back seat on top of a crib mattress to go to the drive in, kid’s car seats just hooked over the back of your seats as more of a convenience and I remember actually riding in the middle of the front seat. Imagine if there had ever been a quick stop! Yes, life was definitely a lot more laid back.  I don’t even think they had NO SMOKING sections yet.

But DUIs still landed you in jail and at a very young age, I learned that my dad, my hero, my everything, had gotten a few. The first time it happened, my mom woke me up to tell me she had to go get my dad out of jail. I am still angry about that. I was nine years old. I was old enough to read. She could have written me a note. I probably never would have woken up and she could have spared me the stupid complicated place I find myself in today. My perfect world was suddenly out of control.

It didn’t happen again until about two years later. We had moved and once again at eleven years old, my mom wakes me up and that was the beginning of years and years of hearing about the crazy things my dad did on the freeway or her asking me to talk him out of going somewhere once he had, had too much to drink, at a Company Picnic or whatever. And then it would be okay for a while. Life would be fine. But then they would go to a cocktail party or there would be a Christmas party and I would plead with God to bring my parents home safely. I would check the phone to make sure it was working if they were late. I was pretty much crazy with worry, every single night until I heard my dad walk through that door.

I don’t blame my mom. She didn’t think “I am going to tell my little girl all the things that I am worried about to mess her up later in life.” She just did the best she could do in a bad situation. Like I said, I was a pretty privileged kid and life was wonderful for most of my life, I would come home often to the smell of fresh baked cookies and a mom who was usually home and tried to make our world safe and happy, she took us to Sunday School alone because my dad wouldn’t go and she gave me some wonderful memories growing up.  But I always felt a little out of control, as if the other shoe was going to drop. And that it was just a matter of time before it would.

In my lifetime I have experienced a lot. The one thing that I feared the most happened when I was twenty six. My dad died of a heart attack. And in a way I felt as if I had predicted it. The worst thing happened. The other shoe had finally fallen. Today I realize that I have needed control for so long and being able to back track and kind of trace the steps that have led me to today make me understand the need to continue this journey that I am on.

Recently I have been on a path of epiphanies and for the last year everything has been out of control for me. I have found myself in situations that I never could have ever imagined I would be in. I have totally been out of control quite literally. And yet, I feel I have needed to let go and be true to myself.

I am not sure where I am going. I am not sure how long it will take to correct the wrongs and repair the parts of me I have ignored for so long.  But I feel a kind of kinship with that child inside me, a responsibility to her that she deserves. I want her to be able to trust life, to realize all the shoes that have fallen in this life of ours… have made us stronger and that we have survived them all. I want to be able to finally grow up and not always be waiting for the other shoe to fall. I think that I am going to start to go barefoot!

Anticipation


I have been on a kick lately. Perhaps if you have been following my blogs, you have seen a pattern… I am stuck in the past. And not just a few years ago… I mean THE PAST! Like back in the Beezus and Ribsy days! When the Flinstones and Jetsons were Syndicated!  Remember?!

I have been peeking through the doors of my childhood and been learning a lot from the  friends or in this case, the chararacters I have left behind. And today I have settled on the likes of Winnie the Pooh. He was a wise little bear! You have got to hear this one… are you ready? He said……

Although Eating Honey is a very good thing to do, there is a moment before you begin to eat it which is better than when you are.

Right???? I mean Ya know? Don’t you think he has happened on something profound here? Don’t you just love it? Do you not know the moment he is talking about? The time looking forward to things is the most amazing time. Looking forward to a vacation or seeing someone who you haven’t seen in forever or  surprising someone you love with a gift they really wanted, or that perfect moment before a first kiss, and yes, simply just  the moment before you taste the honey.

We need to savor the moments. If we could capture them and bottle them up and sell the feeling, we would be rich. Or we could just take s moment to enjoy the anticipation of what comes next and realize that getting there is an amazing part of our journey!

Just Right


Perfection is a funny thing. I am definitely not a perfectionist and yet I do seem to like things just right. A little like Goldilocks. When I was little Goldilocks and the Three Bears troubled me. I recall sitting on my dad’s lap as he read me the story and when he got to the part where she falls on the floor because the chair was too small and it breaks into pieces, I announced “Good.” My dad was appalled. I was only three at the time and he was upset that his child would be the least tiny bit pleased that anyone, even a storybook character got hurt. “Well, she shouldn’t have just walked into their house when no one was home.” I remember trying to explain and being so troubled that my dad was upset with me that I ran to my mom crying and I don’t think that we ever finished that story.

Years later, now I understand why that particular story always seemed to bother me more than your average fairy tales…  It wasn’t because of the bears or the intruder, it was not because the porridge was too cold or too hot, it was because my dad didn’t “get” me at that particular moment. Funny, how things stick with you over the years. Though this self awareness journey that I am traveling is enlightening, it has made me realize that I needed affirmation at a very early age and I don’t think I got think I got it a lot. Silly, but none of those early moments even teetered on being abusive, they were just simple times of remiss that mattered to me and effected who I am today.

It is interesting how all of these years later, I feel a little like Goldilocks, wandering through doors in my life, peeking in, to find nothing was just right. I stand in the shower and adjust the temperature, not too cold, not too hot. I wake up on a summer day to go on a walk and hit the morning and love the time of day when the sun is just appearing and everything seems not “too anything” but just right.

I don’t need the most money or the biggest mansion or the best car. I don’t need the handsomest lover or the best body, or to hob knob with the elite. I just would like it “just right” even though I have been mad at Goldilocks for a lifetime. I have become her. Not a perfectionist, just wanting what I want the way I want it and never really feeling as if I have arrived.

English: Old Cottage

Today, I am on a quest to arrive and to feel as if I deserve to find that place that I fit into, to feel the way I do about certain things and not need to be affirmed by anyone but me. I want to walk through the front door invited and to sit in the chair without it breaking and finally feel as if I belong.


Pop That Cork!

Who hates those advertisements on the front of our Internet pages? I am a writer and it kills me that people actually get paid for the asinine commercials and ads that we see daily! Anywaay, I guess the problem is that my life has passed me by and I missed the bus! Okay, I wanted kids and I had some. And I  didn’t do too bad in that department if I do say so myself. But I do have to say that in all other ways I have a few regrets.

My youth was a total rip off. I mean, I didn’t know what I was doing and I really am quite mad at myself for missing out on appreciating the hard tan stomach and skinny legs I know I had because I have photos to prove it!

What was I thinking?

I also am mad that I was in such a hurry to find my prince charming and have those two point two kids behind the white picket fence. Okay, okay, it was chain link. But hey, what did I know, the guy was hot. My heart was broken and my attitude was “This is as good as it gets!” Well it wasn’t. My life has been hard. And I could say it has sucked to be me and sometimes it has. But really, I “GET” that everything has taught me something and I am who I am because of all the sucky stuff. Sooo the question is…  Is the who I am worth the sucky stuff I went through? Hmmmm….  Well, if it supplies me material for a book or a screen play… perhaps….

If it provides zero lessons than maybe not. But I lift my glass of wine as I write this and maybe you can sense some sarcasm due to my small glass of pinot grigio but I challenge you to ponder the regrets you may have. Mine are that I didn’t appreciate how fast time can slip by. It seems as if only yesterday my friend Jody and I were searching for jeans in the size five rack. Our shirts were always small and our expectations were large. Too large? Time will tell. She definitely seems satisfied being a grandma. I on the other hand, have not quite embraced that title yet. I still mourn my youth.

I never got a chance to be a kid. I was forced into the role of adult before I was ready and by the time I realized, I was so damaged by the responsibilities, I never really learned how to be an adult. Today I am doing a balancing act between the two. I usually don’t partake in the Pinot so I am a little more positive in my final thoughts but hey sometimes you just gotta pop the cork.

The Other Me


There is another me… somewhere deep down inside of me. Someone who finds the words to write, but can’t always live up to them. She is the one who can’t stop the tears when she hears a song that reminds her of the ONE who never lets go… She is the one who is ashamed of every moment that she has failed and the one who believes that HE will forgive her. She is the one who believes in the promises that she makes to HIM. And the one who is down on her knees again and again trying to get it right.

And then there is the me, stubborn and bitter, selfish and cruel and resentful of all the things in life that make it so hard to live up to the one inside who tries to be overwhelmed by grace. She is the one who remembers every wrong done to her, every word in every fight, every moment from years and years and years ago. The mistakes made by my parents, past friendships let go, broken relationships, loves gone wrong. Past pains, recent pains, I store them all up and store them in a place that keeps me stuck.

But the one inside, the one who knows better, the one constantly on her knees, prays for the me, the one who can’t forgive, the one who has built the wall, and tries to find me in the place that I am. She climbs the wall and reaches to help me over. I stand and I hesitantly take her hand but I am still weak, I can’t make it over with all my burdens and so she tells me to let go and I can’t. I become stuck. But she still keeps holding on and I begin to let go and get stronger and finally she pulls me over. And we are there together on the other side.

The other side is better… Not free from pain or life’s burdens but closer to the ONE who never lets go. And free from the past and the burdens that I have kept with me. Suddenly I am lighter and happier and able to live without the burden of always carrying everything with me. Today I decide to live in just today. And now I am on the other side, on my knees. And somehow it has become just me.

Someone who breathed in her babies and knew she should memorize the moments, kissed the boo boos and told them about Jesus and prays for all their dreams. She is the one whose heart broke when she lost the babies she did, and the dreams she had for them… She is the same one who believed in the vows that she breathed on the days she said them, the one who has made a thousand mistakes and will make a thousand more but she is all of me in one, the other me, the me on my knees.

STAYING


Looking back at all the mistakes ….I’ve made

You remain, Oh Lord…..and you have stayed

Through All the rainy day weather friends

Who didn’t stay ~ Oh Lord YOU Stayed…till the end…

the very end….

Through the sorrows and the pain

I can always count on you…

Oh Lord, Again and again…

Through all the time I forgot to keep praying

You keep on, Oh Lord you keep on staying!

You don’t keep track of all my failures

When I have nothing left to give

When I am empty and just can’t forgive

And keep all my hurts in my head replaying

You give me shelter and comfort by just staying…

Diane Reed ‘12

Keeper Of The Keys


When I was in my twenties I worked as a counselor on Four East; in the Psychiatric Department at San Pedro Peninsula Hospital. The job sort of fell into place, in a perfect, back door kind of way. It all started when I met a lady name Lucy who was attending a Ward Clerk class that I also attended, at a local Occupational Center. She had slipped into the job as a Ward Clerk at Four East, a few months earlier and needed to learn medical terminology for the position.

I was working as a waitress and since I did not want to do that forever, I decided to take the same class which I had heard about from my mother in law who worked in the billing department at the hospital, and encouraged me to see how I liked it, telling me that there were several employment opportunities there, and that they were always looking for Ward Clerks.

Lucy and I were desk mates and met the first day. We became fast friends right away. When I learned that she worked in the Psych dept. where my sister in law Karen, had been a patient a few times, due to her addiction problems. I realized we had another connection. Lucy knew of Karen and had been sweet to her during her stay there.

After the class was over and we earned our certifications, I am not sure what happened. But for some reason the job prospects did not come as easily as my mother in law had thought they would. I continued to waitress and Lucy and I lost touch. Until one day, I got a call from Karen who had been hospitalized again, and was asking me to bring her some things. I didn’t hesitate and completely forgot about Lucy working there. I brought Karen her things and stayed to visit as long as I was allowed. As I was leaving, I saw Lucy inside the glassed in Nurse’s station. We had our little reunion moment and then she told me that they needed someone to work the day shift while the girl who normally worked it was on maternity leave. I told her I was interested, but didn’t actually realize that she had been serious and promptly forgot about it.

A few days later someone called asking me to come in and apply. At first, I worked as a temporary Ward Clerk. It was a good job but I knew it was not what I wanted to do forever. I would hear the counselors complaining about charting and I remember telling them that I would love to chart since I loved to write. I remember thinking that they were so lucky to have the job that they did. Helping people and writing! When the maternity leave was over for the gal I was filling in for, I was sad and knew my days were numbered. At first I would fill in and the hospital floated me to different floors but I loved Four East the best!

One day,Yvonne who was the Director of the Unit, called me into her office and I thought she was going to let me go. Instead, she offered me an actual job as a counselor! I had taken a few of the needed classes in college and knew the medical terminology from being a Ward Clerk, and she told me that the experience of working on the unit for the last year qualified me as a candidate for the job she had opened and she told me that she was offering it to me first.  The only drawback was that It was a graveyard slot.

 My son was three years old at the time. My dad had just died and we had moved into my mom’s house to help pay the bills. My son’s day care had been through the hospital during the day but now my shift would be 11PM to 7AM! I could work when my son was asleep. It seemed perfect but it was going to be hard to figure out just how I would take care of him when I was supposed to be sleeping. My mom agreed to help out and so I accepted and prayed a lot. God answered my prayers because I worked one week on the graveyard shift and then Yvonne wanted me to also learn the day shifts. I can’t remember exactly what happened but I never went back. I remained on the day shift for all the years I was there. I helped run the adolescent unit and I think that I have never quite had a job that I loved as much since.

Today, my husband jokes that “They told me I had a job” implying that I actually was a patient. Very funny! But it really makes me think. Who decides who gets to be the keeper of the keys and who decides who gets locked up by those keys? I remember the first day on the job, clipping those keys to the belt loop of my pale blue cords. Unlocking and locking the door for people much older than me, that depended on my judgment and my keys to let them in and out as needed.

Years later, I never thought I would partake in counseling. After all, I was one of the keeper of the keys once upon a time, I am not sure what I thought would happen if I admitted that I needed help. But I do know that I fought the idea that I was depressed with a vengeance. My attitude was… ANYONE would be depressed in my circumstances!!! I am a victim of circumstances not depression! Why didn’t anyone see that?! I thought.

Today I see I was so wrong. I also see that it was like a light switch being turned on to admit it. In fact, the first time that I fully grasped depression as something that I had to accept was a part of me, was very recently. But with that acknowledgement I felt a freedom that I have never known. I don’t know what is ahead or what tools will be used to fix things but I feel kind of like if you don’t know you have termites… the foundation continues to crumble. But once the problem is determined, the remedy can begin to stabilize things. Without identifying the problem, the frame is weakened. But once the conclusion has been reached the rebuilding can begin and there is strength in knowledge.

Just knowing all this gives me hope. Where once I wanted to hide at home and live in my past, I know I have to force myself to take one step at a time. And not even as far as the future but being satisfied to remain in the present.  And to know that Death happens. Divorce happens.  Earthquakes even happen. Life happens. Being afraid does not stop any of it. But it does make you miss out on the love and joy that still happens in-between. Being depressed will only rob you from the opportunities that happen when the love and joy  come your way anyway. Even when you can’t pay your bills or you have an argument with someone or you find yourself having to deal with the other life stuff that comes your way, you just have to remember that it’s not as big as you think it is and find the joy in all of it.

Even when Karen ended up in the hospital again, something good came out of it, because I was willing to deliver something to her… and  was given the opportunity of a job. When I had a miscarriage, I realized the gift I had in the children I still had.  Even in divorce or the loss of a business or loss of a job, we can be scared or we can take the opportunity to draw closer to God and rely on Him for our needs. Today, I understand more now than when I was younger and the keeper of the keys that strength is in finally realizing WHO the true Keeper Of The Keys really is and relying on Him to unlock our doors.

 

 

What To Expect When You Are Expecting…….To Let Go


Continued from my previous blog:

Hints you need to know to avoid the  (tickets, roommate fall outs, cars getting towed, etc….)

1. If possible scope out the areas she/he will be living. Actually make the drive that they will be driving at the times they will be driving it. (more than once) My daughter moved 17 miles away from her school in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. We were thinking 30 mins max to get to and from. The reality is that at the best, if she hit no real traffic issues, she could make it in an hour and fifteen minutes, ONE way. When you figure it out, you should scope out the areas that are no more than 15 minutes away or less!

2. Once you decide on the neighborhoods you want to look for a place in, make sure that your kidlet will have a parking place! If you have to, budget it into the price! This is a must! A deal breaker, a non-negotionable comodity! Believe me, you will thank me for making this so important. I have stayed over night in my daughter’s studio apartment when she did not have a designated parking spot and she could spend an hour circling her block waiting for a spot that sometimes could be a ten minute walk away. After midnight, you don’t want to be picturing your baby making that walk, believe me! I couldn’t wait until that year’s lease was up!

3. Which brings me to rule #3 Have it crystal clear that you would like a say in the location before they sign a lease!!! Even though they may have a 4.0 gpa and be smarter than you. They don’t know what NO PARKING means when they see it on a lease. When the Manger is reassuring her that it is “no problem” and they are only looking at this cute little empty apartment they want to make their very own… well, lets just say you might need to look at the neighborhood they will be walking from when they finally find a parking place five blocks away. I know they KNOW more than we do and really don’t want our in-put but as long as you are footing some of the bill, set the boundaries before they snap their suit case shut. make sure that your in-put counts.

4. Keep the keeping in touch rule! My daughter texted me when she stepped inside her apartment every night for the first couple of years. All I asked is that she text me one word. HOME. I was told by my friends that I was lucky, I was told I was too controlling. I didn’t care. I wanted to know my baby was safe. I was blessed because she usually added I love you I’m Home. It made me feel better and later, she told me that it made her feel cared for. I got her a nice phone when she left and she was happy to accomodate me. Today she lives with someone who cares about if she is home safe or not so I feel that I can let go. But unitl that time, don’t feel bad that you care and if you set up the expectations early, you won’t be one of those parents fretting that you haven’t heard from your child for two weeks! But THESE are the kind of conversations you need to talk about before you make that drive with them to help them move out.

5. When you pack their first few tubs, here are some things you need to include; A tool box with a hammer, nails, a measuring tape, screw drivers, wrench, pliers, heavy duty scissors and a glue gun. And a Bible wouldn’t hurt! You can go grocery shopping when you get there. Don’t forget toilet paper, paper towels, contact paper or drawer liners, foil etc.. make a list before you pack of things you think they will need. Keep adding to it through out the days before you leave.

6. Choosing roomates is crucial. The shorter the lease the better in case things are just not tolerable.It is hard enough to send your excited baby off out into the big old world but when they are lonely and miserable, it is agony for us parents!  If the choice is only strangers try to have your child get to know them on facebook or other cyperspace ways so that they can really get to know as much as they can to see if they will be a good fit. Sometimes when it isn’t it just has to be a growing experience for the kids but being pro-active is helpful.

7. When you choose the neighborhood, look for street sweeping signs or no parking signs and point them out. That first phone call of “Mom, my car was stolen!” can really wake you right up in the middle of the night. Chances are it was towed! Believe me… maybe more than once. And no matter how well you think you have taught your kid to be a defensive driver, those fender benders are bound to happen once or twice the first couple of years. If they dont~ Praise the Lord! If they do… don’t over-react and Praise the Lord, it wasn’t worse!

8. Have a budget for care packages! Or….get used to buying Target and Trader Joe gift cards (shipping charges are much cheaper in the end!) I know, I know, you want to make sure they have dish detergent and toilet paper but after buying the lastest bikini cover up and going withouyt toilet paper , they will get used to prioritizing!  For some reason it always made me feel better if I sent a big jar of peanut butter and lots of cans of soups and tuna. Do you know how much that weighs?? Argh… I finally had to trust my little bird to buy the staples she needed without my guidance!

9. If they are going to work for extra money, start looking at the job market  before they move. Chances are they will find a job on their own and should but it’s nice to know what to expect.

10. A nice gift to send them off with is a gas card, with strict limitations, (If they are hungry, there usually always is a little grocery section in every gas mart.)  And if they are taking their car with them,  AAA is a must. It is worth your peace of mind knowing your baby is safe!

Hope that helps… take it from a proud mom who has watched her baby learn to fly and then to soar. I am amazed at the levels she has risen to! But believe me, there were a few bumps along the way getting there and it would have been nice to have a book like… What To Expect When You Are Expecting  …….. To Let Go.

Baby Feathers In My Empty Nest


I remember when my daughter was leaving for school. Can it be five years ago?! It is hard to believe.It seems as if just yesterday, she was starting kindergarten! I really foundered for that first year. I found sites that hosted other parents in a similar place and we swapped stories of pain and suffering. It really is quite funny now as I look back and recall just how truly pathetic I was back then. I had the bright idea of starting a blog for parents in the same situation. Never imagining someone else, in fact, a million other someone else’s had thought of that already and I had my pick of the litter.

So you are not alone. If you are wandering around the internet with feelings of hopelessness, I guarantee you will find a place to land and lick your wounds if you must and I can also promise that it will get better. I remember when my baby left. I would find a bobbypin that she left somewhere and burst into tears! I would go into her room just to smell her! I was pretty high on the rickter scale! I still have to admit, I do “SAVE” a lot of her messages so that I can hear her voice when she hasn’t checked in recently but I must say that I am much better! At least I don’t require daily contact which is what I did until very recently! So I am not laughing at you guys who are just dealing with your own empty nests, I am giving you hope!

Empty nests are survivable. Some day I do dream of my little birdie living a little closer but not until she feels she has made all of her dreams come true. She left here with plans to become an actress and she is on her way. She is getting her name out there and doing all she can to keep the process moving in that direction but I think she has a clearer picture of how extremely hard it is to even get near that golden ticket. But she is willing to do the work and I believe she will get whatever she aims for, it just may be a bit of a longer journey than she had first thought.

In between her leaving and today, we have dealt with getting through school, graduation, moving upteen times! Having falling outs with roommates, new loves, new jobs, new roomates and lots of tickets, a few fender benders and a major accident or two with God coming through with His guardian Angels on all of those! A few towed cars and other little emergencies. I don’t think she would have traded all the memories, good or bad for anything different and I am glad for them all because they have helped her grow and me too!

Recently, she was doing some parties for her job up near her Auntie’s house and my best friend since childhood and I met her up there and we had slumber parties until the wee hours of the night talking a little about nothing and some pretty deep stuff. Laughing and crying and hearing her opinions. It was some of our best times together! And I am not sure we would have been quite on this level of our mother daughter bond if she had still lived at home. Sometimes you have to let go to appreciate each other. Sometimes it might take every spare dime you have to pay a bill to help keep her dream alive, but in the end, you can’t really put a value on that kind of bond. Do I miss her? Sure. But I am confident knowing that she is well taken care of and pursuing her dreams…

I still find bobby pins after she comes home for a visit, like fuzzy baby bird feathers you might find at the bottom of a nest once the birds have flown away and I feel a little melancholy and realize that life passes by way too fast but I am IN for the next chapter and ready to ride the wave to see what comes next!

Next week… hints you need to know to avoid the above (tickets, roommate fall outs, cars getting towed, etc….)

Broken Vows


Today is not my anniversary. My anniversary is December 4th 1993. We are going on 19 years of marriage and I am glad. I know that I am blessed to be married to the man I am married to now and I wish that my demons would get out of my way so that I could try to tell and show him more. But there is another day in my heart, that I will never forget. It is a day that happened thirty four years ago today. July 1st, 1978. A day I took vows with a preacher, my childhood preacher, in front of loved ones, on a beautiful day, much like today. I remember the feeling of believing in those vows and never being able to ever quite get over the fact that I finally had to be the one to break them and the horrible feeling of failure that came with that fact .

I was so young and full of hope and though we only knew each other for six months, we were pretty much in love as far as love gauges go. And we got married because of that love. There was no baby or other reason that made us have to get married. I know people thought that because it was all so fast but it was just a naïve kind of complete, untainted, pure love that we gave much more credit to than it deserved. Enough credit for him to ask and me to say “yes” all those years ago. And  even though it didn’t seem to have much of a foundation to begin with, it grew up as we did. It weathered a miscarriage and death and births and lots of fighting and making up but it just wasn’t strong enough to weather the addiction demons that seemed stronger than all that love we gave so much credit to fourteen years earlier and though the love was still there, so were our babies. And I had to protect them.

All of these years later, I still wonder, if I did the right thing. “For better or worse” I had promised. And today I question myself. Did I truly do all I could? Today he is gone. He died on his birthday, almost five years ago. When I knew he was sick, I knew that would be the day he would die. Just something inside of me told me to be prepared. We had seen him a few days earlier, my daughter and I. He had begged us not to go. He was at his girlfriend’s house. It was uncomfortable. It was crazy. I was married. All of these feelings, later strangers made the decision of what to do with him. My kids were left out of the plans. It was horrible. But I had broken my vows, I had no rights. I couldn’t even stop to feel the pain. I still don’t think I have. I pushed through the next couple of months, not allowing myself to feel. I still don’t think I have dealt with any of it. Least of all, the broken promises, the vows that I feel I failed.

Fast forward to today. I am remarried and know that at least my daughter feels that I made the right choice. She loved her daddy but her dad is the man I am married to. That gave her character and disciplined her and taught her morals and loved her. She is comfortable enough to ask him for things she needs and he is the first person she calls in an emergency. She is comfortable enough to get mad at him when he annoys her but to love him for the man he is, the one who raised her. Her dad! And for all the failure I feel regarding my broken vows.

I have to find in there, that place I go to grieve, that I did something right when I moved on and it is going to all be okay.