The Thing About History… It lasts forever


I have realized recently that there are iconic words of wisdom offered up to us throughout our journey in this life. Sometimes we listen and let them tweak the way we think about  things. And some reach us at the perfect time and change our lives forever. But many are lost on that busy path of ours as we keep rushing around and heading for the next goal along the way. The older I get the more I think about things like this…  How many of those messages did I miss?  How many sunk in? And I guess the biggest question is… How do I want to be remembered 100 years from now?  What would I like to be remembered for? I remember my grandma as being my soft place to fall. I remember listening to all of her stories about her childhood. And when she died, all I wanted was her diary. This little green leather book with tiny spaces for her deepest thoughts.

I remember realizing as I read it, that it was written during the time before she met my grandpa, and then as they courted. It ended around the time she had my mom. It is a treasure. I loved hearing her stories when I’d come to visit her during my summers and later when she’d come to visit me. I miss her. I missed her for a long time.  I still miss those phone calls when she would answer “Hi Honey Girl.”  Now I am used to her being gone. The gaping hole isn’t quite so gaping but I still would love to talk to her and ask her questions I didn’t get a chance to when I was still too young to appreciate the value of knowing those things I want to know now.

And so I ask myself… How would I like to be remembered? I think, no, I know,  exactly  the way I felt about her when I was a kid. The problem with growing up, is we listen to the people who knew our childhood heroes differently, and we realize that no one is perfect. Everyone is always going to be judged by someone. My grandma was judged by her kids, she wasn’t perfect. I even remember a few things as an adult that I noticed  was a little off. But as my cousin told me once, “she was an amazing grandma to me” my cousin wouldn’t listen to the gossip and I think it was then when I really began admiring my cousin’s character in an adult kind of way.

There is this mantra that I have heard before but just recently have begun to understand its meaning in a new and enlightened way… “I Embrace the things of my past that made me strong and let go of the things that held me back.”  Okay well, if you’ve read any of my posts you know that I  kind of have this  pattern of writing about the past and according to my sweet daughter who shared with me the other day that the  “writing formula” I use is slightly over-done, “ouch.”Smile.

So…I heard this mantra again today,  as I sat in my art studio and listened to the words of a show which had been playing in the background as I worked. And I wondered what  my grandchildren would remember about me?  I thought about the things that I’d been holding onto and realized that I had been made strong by those hard times. At least I knew I survived them. Some of those times seemed never-ending. My heart has been broken a few times. I’ve lost loved ones and the shoe has dropped so many times it felt like they were raining on my life. And through it all I am stronger and braver and I think that is what it is all about. I have slowly learned to have the faith of my grandma. Maybe I am not there yet but I am in the process of making my own story. And maybe because I understand more, but it almost brought tears to my eyes when I heard the same words today that I’d heard a hundred times before… the thing about history… it lasts forever.

 

 

 

 

The thing about history is… it lasts forever

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Just CRAZY or just really, really Blessed?


How do you explain passion? There are days when  I need to create, and nights when I just have to get up to write something. Like a pilot that has to fly, a surfer that has to surf, a teacher that has to teach or whatever your passion happens to be. It calls to you. At a young age, I knew that I wanted to write. I had it all planned out. I’d write children’s books and they would know my name and look me up in the library and check out my books. I may have missed my mark since now librarys are being replaced by the likes of Amazon. But I did recently check out our local library and it felt so comfortable there. I loved it. Now I write the messages in my cards and if I am lucky to have a few free minutes, I try to write my blog. And from time to time re-visit my book that I keep promising myself that I will finish. And so I sit pondering this passion of mine. I feel blessed. I’ve just returned from another Sugarplum. The craft festival that I did back in my 30s for ten years. And once again travel about four hours to do, about 7 times a year.

I love every single bit of it. Their summer show (the one I just returned from) has turned into one that is quite different from all the rest. It is not “just” the regular Artsy stuff, but also where antiques and vintage, shabby chic and lots and lots of  sales are showcased. It is called Remnants and that is what it is…. a little of this, and that, crafting tools and supplies, material and just exactly what they have named it; “remnants” accumulated by the original vendors to share with the customers that flock to the tune of thousands of shoppers looking for a deal. The first day was so crazy! But because it is a one of a kind sale, dealers as well show up first. I am sure I gave a lot away for a steal of a deal because I am still learning and researching this kind of thing. But this show gave me a new found respect for the collectors of yesterday. It is definitely an education. Between my mother in law’s collections and the odds and ends of my daughter’s mismatched china business I was able to participate in this show and it blew me away how well I did. I’d sold a rack that I was going to use before the show even started so I had to scramble to make my booth look halfway decent (to explain the baskets on the floor!) But people managed to clean me out and make room for me to keep stocking the shelves.

This show was fun, but I am ready to begin creating again and showcasing new art for the upcoming holiday shows again. The thing that I have noticed over the last year of re-entering this world and doing these shows again is, how far they have come, how fast the lines moved and how this once little show has grown into something so magical it is hard to explain. Customers never really GET what is involved in every booth, I remember doing a Sugarplum in the 80s with maybe 50 artists. The check-out station was just a long table with about 5 people checking out everyone. Today they have about 14 cash registers, and 4+ times the amount of artists and vendors. They really have fine-tuned this little show into something so GRAND and  I have to wonder if the customers have any inkling of all the hard work that goes into hosting these events?

I really am talking about what goes on behind the scenes of the magic makers of Sugarplum. But also wanted to share some pictures of  the process of being a participant in that magic. Just in my own set up. As my sweet husband packs me up and follows me down there and returns to pack me back up, to spending a week down there, working my shifts and fluffing my booth. It is a lot of work and as I pass the other vendors setting up and tearing down, we smile at each other and nod, wondering if we are all just crazy or no…. just really, really blessed, doing exactly what we want to do! In my case I feel that I am on my way back to doing what I love.

Working on me, better late than never… Right?


I have been spending a lot of time with my child. Not my children (though I love my time with them!) The child I am talking about is “me.” My mother in law, a Psychologist, and I have been spending a lot of time together lately as she goes through her “stuff” trying to minimize things ( at exactly the time I am doing a show called Remnants so it’s a win-win for both of us!) And while she has shared her memories of the items she is getting rid of, we have begun talking about life, and family dynamics and it has helped clarify a lot of who I am.

One thing that has come up is how our buttons get pushed and her philosophy is that whatever is triggering a negative reaction is based on something in our childhood, so we need to go back and find that child and figure it out now for them so that they can become unstuck at the place you left them. That has been unusually painful for me. My childhood was pretty great. My mom stayed at home and was always artful, whether it was ceramics or painting, sewing or crocheting , I know I got my artfulness from her. My dad worked at Mattel most of my younger years and give me a break, how could I not have lucked out more than that? I never worried about money, and never really heard my parents fight.

I remember trips to the Mattel Outlet in Hawthorn where their offices were and getting to pick out different things. I grew up in a house overlooking Marineland and the ocean and came home to freshly baked cookies. I know my parents loved me to the moon and back. My dad was the one who took me school clothes shopping at the beginning of every year and who I spent many Saturdays with just hanging out, going to the Barber shop and hardware store and car wash and talking about his childhood and life. And every Sunday my mom taking us to church without my dad most Sundays but faithfully making sure we went to Sunday school.

My childhood was pretty “Leave it To Beaverish.” Except because my dad was up and coming in his career, he had to wine and dine clients and in turn he drank. I am not sure when I really understood it but I remember when  I was nine and my mom woke me up in the middle of the night and said she had to go get my dad out of jail for a DUI. She wanted me to know in case I woke up. I was told to babysit my little sister. It happened again when I was eleven. And as far as I know never again. But that was enough. The damage had been done. My mom shared with me that once they were driving and my dad had been drinking and swerved off the freeway from the left lane to make his off ramp. As an adult, I wonder… Why did I need to know that? Once after a company picnic my dad drove us home drunk and then started talking about wanting to go to a restaurant called Latitude 20. My mom panicked and asked me to try to talk him out of it. I did and he got mad at me but ended up falling asleep. Once again, it was all on me.

My dad used to tell me that if he ever died there were important papers beneath the master bathroom’s drawer, later he’d tell me they were on his computer. I used to get upset. Nobody wants to think that about their parents dying. Especially when you are still in Junior High. But my dad didn’t feel my mom could handle it. My dad did die early. He may have known something was up with his health. Though because he traveled for his job a lot I think that he thought he was going to die in an accident. He had a lot of life insurance but more accident. He did end up dying at 51 of a heart attack. I was married by that time with a 3-year-old son. He was jogging around the block.

My mom just died last year at 83. She was an amazing mom. And a memory making grandma. But also made her share of mistakes. I have realized just recently that I never really got to be a kid. I had so much responsibility heaped on me at a pretty early young age. I didn’t need to know the adult things that were happening in my parent’s life. I think I am angry at both of them. My dad for his alcohol issues and my mom for telling me about them.

I remember asking my dad every single morning when he’d be home that night, and  my mom getting annoyed with me for asking her every single night, if she was worried if my dad wasn’t home when he said he’d be. I remember feeling sad and confused and angry that she was annoyed but feeling that it was my fault and I was just a weird kid that worried too much. I wish I could have understood enough then, to realize it wasn’t my fault and to tell her that she was the reason I was worried. Actually they both were!

Now, I hate the knowing that anyone is annoyed with me, I hate feeling worried and guilty, and today I know exactly what and why I have those buttons and I am working on them. I know that I react more quickly to certain triggers that someone else might just let go.

I wish I could go back to find that little girl and make it okay. I think just by giving myself a break and realizing some of those things have made me really melancholy lately. I wish I’d figured everything out sooner. But better late than never. Right? I guess I could have turned out a lot worse. I guess the message I want to share here is…  If you have worries, and we all do. Share them with another adult. Not your kids. Spare your kids. Let them have their childhood.

 

Those Unconditional Followers


 

I haven’t been terribly supportive in my blog world lately, or any other part of my life right now, because  I have been trying to prove that I can make a living in the art world  again. I plan for this next one, to be one of my most successful shows yet!  I have given myself a time limit to prove to myself and my husband that I can once again, make this “running my own business thing” a success,  and the deadline is quickly approaching.  I have really been working hard in trying to re-build my customer base.

artist studio

You see, I was pretty spoiled a couple of decades ago. I had a rather nice following of customers. I did my shows and made good sales,  finally, landing at one show called Sugarplum (Festivals)  ( sugarplumfestivals.com ) that made all of the others seem to pale to the magic that they created in every way. And so I have signed on again to do almost every one of their shows. I have also moved into a little local shop called Reminisce and have had a booth there for a year.  And just recently reopened my Etsy shop called Dianes’s Designs by Diane. Though as life happened and I slowly stopped doing shows, I slowly lost that “Once Upon A Time” long ago following. Since my customers  couldn’t find me anymore, except for a handful of loyal ones that I still am in touch with and are excited for me to re-enter this part of my past and still boost me up by reminding me of their loyalty.

That also has happened here, on my blog. I noticed the less I write, the more I am losing a lot of my readers. I once tried to write daily, and to keep up and support other writer friends. And notice that there are those sweet readers that pop right back up and support you unconditionally as you write. And then there are a handful of writers that do the same. Regardless, if you have ever supported their writings, they always support you, and then the others that  just stop supporting you if you don’t support them. Though I have shared before that I really started writing here, to basically write my book and my poems….  and to find a place to store my words… but I began kind of getting a charge out of realizing people found me somehow and began reading what I wrote. Just like when someone would purchase one of my paintings or cards, seeing that someone else liked something that I wrote and commented and followed me was a little (for a loss of a better word) addicting.

 

To be honest, what you put into anything is what you get out. Period.  work, writing, hobbies, friendships, relationships, when you really think of it that is how life is. Right? Sure there are those priceless friendships that can start right back up,  where you left off without guilt trips or expectations and those are to be treasured. And other relationships such as maybe familial ones, that are unconditional, but even those will fall away if you don’t nurture them a little. So in my business I must come up with new designs and verses for my cards. And here on my blog, I need to check in rather regularly. I do intend to continue my book series that I promised  (in my last post) that I would continue to work on and I will! But I wanted to let my facebook readers know that I will not be posting my book posts on facebook so if you are interested, please follow me and you will be notified by email when I post a new post and those will be included there. Though I will post other blog posts on facebook, just not my book.

I would like to take this time to stop and thank all of you who are reading this now, because unless you are a first time reader, I know that you are one of those faithful readers who inspire me and comment and continue to unconditionally follow me whether I deserve it or not.

Have you written your synopsis yet?


writers trash can

I think that when I finished my book I knew that I just had the bare bones. A writer friend of mine edited a few of my pages and then another writer friend did the same, but I didn’t want to waste their time, and I knew that I’d be changing things, several times before I’d consider it worthy to be read as “finished.” Or at least that is what I told myself as I only gave them a few pages at a time. I think that it is scary for most writers… because when you finally offer it up as a completed, you are putting yourself out there for the real critiques. You are now saying… I think it is good enough, not… this is still a work in progress. You imagine that raised eye brow reader thinking…”REALLY??? She seriously is done?”

And right now, I know I’m not. I am not even hiding behind the pretense of really thinking that I have told the whole story and now am just editing the grammar. I know that the whole story is not really there yet. It’s getting there but it still is not there.

reading on the floor

Someone recently asked me if I’d written a synopsis of my story. An outline so to speak of my intentions. What I’m trying to convey. Why I even felt the need to tell my story. I think that when I penned the first word several years ago and now, sit here today, a lot has changed in the way of technology and social media, in just the last decade. And so my story continues to evolve, even sitting on the metaphoric back shelf.

However, I do believe that if I am ever going to seriously put this one to bed I need to sit here and write this.

Though this book is presented as fiction, 90% of it really happened. The other 10% was just necessary fluffing and primping. But as I introduce the main character… Keri, she is my vessel that carries me through this project.

woman typing on bes

My goal from the start has been to make others aware of abusive relationships and the blur that keeps us asking… Why did she stay so long? Why doesn’t she just leave? In my story it is important to understand the chronological emotional pull that draws each of us in. All in very different scenarios. And yet to hopefully have even if just one person see themselves in the pages I have written. To maybe have an AHA moment and save themselves.

For anyone interested… I will continue my journey through these pages. “My little work in progress” so to speak. But I have learned that in the world of blogs… if you write 800+ words, you begin to lose your audience… and I do want feedback along the way. So for now I will  just say… To be continued. But I will come back and finish this. I promise.you-are-a-writer

Remnants of love


attic treasures

Please excuse me as I have had yet another epiphany of sorts. I know that I tend to use that word a lot and so actually looked it up because I wanted to make sure that I was using it correctly today and I was. The definition I was looking for was: A moment of sudden revelation or insight. 

I spent the afternoon with my mother in law the other day. She is in a place in her life of wanting to minimize her “stuff” and is getting rid of a ton of  “treasures”  she has accumulated throughout her lifetime. It has come at an opportune time for me because I have just begun to learn about antiques and vintage items through my daughter who has recently introduced milk glass and bone china to me because the next show I am in called, Remnants. So it has been a kind of rushed course in all things vintage, shabby chic and collectible.

In the end, it wasn’t just about picking up boxes. Or about just going through  “stuff” but more about reliving with my mother in law the history behind each piece.

hour glassIt seems as if I am always feeling pinched for time. (In my last post, I talked about how I feel as if time is rushing by.) But this particular afternoon I stopped to really listen to all the stories attached to each thing. Even the remnants of material had stories of what she made from them and where she purchased them (several things in Europe.)  I could envision her as a young wife and mother  choosing these things for her perfect home. And because she invested a lot of time and money in these items I have had to research them all. There was one vintage piece that is worth well over $500.00 that I might have put a $40 price on! So I guess I have to really slow way down and educate myself a lot more than I figured. And have since realized that I may have to take even more time than I figured on and find markets other than a remnants show for some of her more valuable treasures!

Ever since I met her, I could see that she painstakingly cared for everything. Her family, her home, all sooo cared for by her. Though… When I was younger I reluctantly am ashamed to say that I may have judged her a little for having or “needing” all the “finer things.” But as I’ve grown to know her, I have grown to love her and realize that all she has ever wanted is the best, not for herself necessarily but for her loved ones and suddenly on that day, I realized I was blessed enough to be one of them. All of her choices, whether in planning a meal, setting a table or planning a vacation has always been with us in mind. Wanting to create a special memory. And so as we sat through the remnants of her life, I realized that it’s not about the money, or the “stuff” it’s always just been about the love.

 

It’s Friday AGAIN????


Today is Friday and it seems as if just yesterday was Friday. I remember when I was around 18 and flew to my best friend’s house to go to her dad’s 50th surprise party. I remember feeling that 50 was pretty old. Now, I’m a decade older than 50 & am in a little panic. When I was a kid all of the Fridays seemed as if they took “forever” to get there. And now in the blink of an eye it is Friday AGAIN! I think that the older I get, the more I feel as if though the days and weeks and years are wooshing by me, the things that I wanted to accomplish are not. Almost two years ago, I began my journey back into my art business and though I am in the thick of it now and I have gotten a lot of my ducks in a row, I think I expected more happening by now. My daughter kind of accidentally started her mismatched china business a little over two years ago and she could definitely support herself by now. What is the difference? The thing is, I think now days the youth have mastered the art of marketing through social media, which I feel I may be a bit challenged in. She has gotten into photo shoots and Event Magazines that list her company fernandbone.com regularly. She is constantly booking events and works hard doing it. When she had her hand-made shop on Etsy, she was far surpassing me in sales and charging much more and getting it!  Though my shop had been opened longer. It is funny, when your kids are a success, you are so proud and not the very least bit jealous but at the same time, it makes me wonder what I could be doing differently by learning from her?

fernandbone.com an early glimpse of Brooke’s mismatched china business at her own wedding!

My cousin was in Marketing for most of her career and so successful that she created her own little niche in the business world, specializing in demographic research and ended up with Alaska as one of her biggest accounts! So I know that it is possible to just learn a new thing and figure it out. But I wonder if my time has come and gone? Once upon a time, I had a huge customer base, was taking orders and  was the one supporting myself. Though my husband at the time, had a very good job, I was definitely supplementing our income and for a while, I had reps and a following that I’m not sure I appreciated as much back then as I should have. Now that I am back trying to revive my art business, a few of my best customers from back in the day,  have encouraged me and been very inspiring. But the trick is zeroing in on today’s market. What are people looking for? I mean the last shows I did regularly were before this century, right before we opened our store in 2000.

Lets face it. I was spoiled by my success. It all just fell into my lap once upon a time when my friend took a painting that I painted as a gift for her to her work just to show a friend, I’d painted one of her kids in a tub,  and she came back with 40 orders for me! I have to wonder, did I rock the boat by not sticking with it? I mean the message was pretty clear with that first order. I was talking to a friend yesterday who reminded me that when things happen so easily we need to be more aware!  Though opening that little store made me have to put things on hold, it was very successful  for just the first year, which is usually unheard of.  Though an earthquake shut down our little store. Was that just a fluke or…  Am I not descearning the messages correctly? Should I have revived my art business back then instead of going to work for someone else? Is it too late? My dream has always been to write my poetry and reach people and make them smile with my art. I don’t necesarrily love working for someone else.  I love what I do. I want to succeed. Though, I know that doing shows, having a little corner in a consignment shop and selling on Etsy is not paying the bills like I thought it would…. and that the Fridays are all landing in my lap way too fast. I know I just need to figure it out. Though I realize that it is not officially a Bible verse in the Bible, I do believe that God helps those that help themselves. And yet I am not sure how much harder I can work. Some nights I don’t close up my studio doors until well after 10 PM at night after a day of creating. And yet I can’t think of anything I’d rather do. Pray for me please.

Some of my designs both old and new… DianesDesignsbyDiane on Etsy

 

When my phone makes “that noise”


I have to admit that I have been on a little hiatus lately. Trying to create for my next show in June, has turned my creative focuses to art rather than writing for now at least. Where I used to post several times a month, it seems as if I have no ink in the well lately. But my phone makes a different noise when I get another follower who has found me for one reason or another and for some reason even though I haven’t written for a while, people are finding me and reading my blog. And though it is a low number for many, I am kind of blown away to have 2,222 followers as of tonight. It is crazy to think that I just wanted a place to store my thoughts and suddenly some friends, but mostly strangers are reading my ramblings for some weirdly encouraging reason.

While driving in the car with my husband last week, my phone made that noise about seven times. I had to tell him what it was. I told him I had over 2,000 followers and he said… “You know, if just half of those people would buy just one of your cards a month regularly, you would never have to worry about working for someone else ever again. We laughed. But it made me think. How could I get everyone LIKING my cards to actually take the time to buy one?

So I thought why not just put that out there? I am in Reminisce locally and have a large selection there. But if you don’t live locally, I have a shop on etsy that I keep adding to daily. Please check my shop out the next time you need a card! Every card is just $3. At the price of cards these days, you can’t beat that price. So when you get a chance browse around, and share with a friend…. Mother’s Day is coming up… Next Father’s Day… and if you don’t see what you are looking for, private message me.

Here is my Etsy Shop link:

https://www.etsy.com/shop/DianesDesignsbyDiane/items

Oh yeah and when I make a sale on Etsy my phone make a different noise. It sounds like a cash register ringing!

Thank you for supporting my dream!

 

(A few samples on my Etsy shop)

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Please find more selections here: https://www.etsy.com/shop/DianesDesignsbyDiane/items

A Change Of Plans


I miss my mom. It hits me when I am least expecting it. For a while I wondered why I didn’t cry like I thought I would. I felt numb. But now sometimes I feel the sting from the pain so deeply, I can’t breathe. A few years ago, back when she was still driving and working in her art room or cooking in the kitchen I took it all for granted. She used to make all of the holidays so special. When I knew it was getting too much for them to have it, I tried to take over as graciously as possible. And I willingly did.

My dad used to make a big deal about Christmas. He spoiled us rotten. Because he didn’t have a lot as a kid, there was barely enough room for the Christmas tree with all the gifts he would pile around it. When he died, I tried to take over for my dad.  I think I felt he’d passed the baton to me. But no one could have really filled his shoes. though I went in debt trying!

My mom died the month before Thanksgiving last year. And as usual, I tried to make everything as normal as possible and the celebration went on as usual. Christmas too… But for some reason Easter was hard this year. The numbness was wearing off. And I was feeling especially sad.  I wanted to crawl in a box and come out when it was over. Maybe it was because though my mom taught me about Jesus all of my life, she led me in the salvation prayer on Easter morning when I was seven. So I would always remember when I chose to follow Him. So we have always shared a kind of special bond on Easter.

hand over mouth

I’d planned to do Easter this year. And was in the midst of planning when some  circumstances beyond my control messed up all of the plans. Which actually caused more drama than I was prepared to handle. So, I decided that this year I was going to take my own advice and realize “how many things don’t require my comment.” And to reserve judgement.  It is actually kind of freeing to not allow negativity to infiltrate an entire day which is what I used to do.

I would have gone through with the day but it was actually nice to just go with the flow and let someone else plan something and to go out with my dad and my husband and his parents and be able to go home and cry if I wanted to and not have a huge mess to clean up (which is usually on me to do.) So instead of ruining everything and being mad at the wrong people, I just changed my plans in my head to not let the circumstances that had nothing to do with me, rob me of the joy that has been kind of a pattern on Easters since my childhood. My daughter commented once, how every Easter seems to be ruined by “something” and I thought about it and it was as if a force not of God would come in and try to sabotage all of my adult Easters.

So this year I stopped the pattern. I took back the control and realized that it is always a choice. To decide to make the best of things or not. It is as simple as that. And you know what? It is freeing to stop the crazy making family dynamics or whatever is happening and say enough!  And while we’re at it. Everybody better plan something for Mother’s Day because I won’t be doing it this year. The gaping hole would just be too much. But like my sweet niece said….my mom (her grandma)  is with her in a lot of things she does. All the memories of her faith and encouraging talks will live on in all of us and the best thing that we can do is to keep her  faith alive through our babies. But in the meantime I am not ruining Easter over a silly “change of plans.”

In My Doubt…


 

It has been a while since I have felt that feeling of “having to” write. I am not sure what it is. You know, that thought that gets you out of bed in the middle of the night? The one that you can’t go back to sleep until you write it down and then find yourself still writing way past dawn? Well, it hasn’t happened for a while now. But this morning I was reading a comment from a post I posted today on this day in 2013 (5 years ago!)  and it inspired me to come in here and try to write something.

I’ve had a rather sucky time lately. Just really sad. I try to snap out of it but I have all of these questions running through my head. Maybe it is because when my mom died recently, I don’t think I really grieved. I’m not sure I know how to anymore. When my dad died, I cried for weeks. And then as other loved ones followed,  it all just made me feel, I don’t know. Numb. Maybe because my dad died of a heart attack, I wasn’t prepared and all of the others were sick and it was a relief to have them not struggle in pain anymore. But numb about covers it. I haven’t really been able to really cry for a long time. Even when we lost our store in the 2003 earthquake, I never really cried.

And then the recent California fires happened. It was all so devastating. After losing our store, I never look at devastation like that in the same way. Your world just stops, while life goes on around you. People are still joking and shopping and eating out, when you don’t know what your next step will be.  I know the feeling all too well. And then in Montecito, the people who didn’t lose their houses in the fire, lost them in the mudslides.

My poor husband just sat there one morning as I had a total meltdown and let me have it. Maybe I just needed to cry for all of the things that I hadn’t cried for when I should have. And just used this latest sad thing as my melting pot. But I began almost hysterically questioning  him why God didn’t stop the fires, or why He didn’t make it rain when the fires were happening, or why He made it rain so hard when it did rain?!! All metaphoric because there really is no good answer.

Though, I remember a day when we stood in the middle of the street, looking at the devastation on the block where our store once stood minutes earlier with Christmas trees twinkling in the window and customers packed inside just the day before, while my daughter clung to me sobbing asking “Why God made this happen?” I don’t remember my answer, but she does. She said that I said, “He saved us. He didn’t make it happen.” He did save us. Though the two women in the store next to us both lost their lives. It still is a mystery to me. Why not us? Why did they have to die?

I guess I will never know His ways until I can ask Him. But it scares me that I even have these questions. It’s not the kind of thing that people admit. You know… doubting. So I have asked God to speak to me. And it has kind of been amazing. So many things have come up about why bad things happen to good people. To children, and little innocent babies, and slowly I am hearing Him. Not really understanding, but I know He uses us even in our doubt to be a blessing to others and Glorify Him.

I know, I know, all of the right things to say… We live in a broken world. Bad things happen. Period. He could stop those things from happening, and He does. Sometimes. I know, because He has answered a lot of my prayers.  God does not want us to be His puppets.  Why create something that does not have any choice but to love you? That is not love. Love is a choice. He wants us to choose Him. He showed us love by sending His only son to die for us so that we can live with Him forever. This place is just temporary. So temporary. We are just renting these earth dwelling things called bodies. I AM actually understanding that more and more as so many of my loved ones have left this earth.

When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. He cried. Even though He knew that He was going to bring him back, Jesus wept because He could feel the family’s pain. I think that tells us a lot. Though Jesus could have been there to save him so Lazarus wouldn’t die, He wasn’t. Perhaps to give us this message today. Jesus cares what we are going through. Illness, death, devastation. Lets face it… life is hard. Divorce, accidents, catastrophes, financial struggles, relationship disappointments, they all matter to Him. But this world is our school. A place of lessons, some really hard ones sometimes.

The other day, I was telling a friend about my meltdown. And she said she knew of my faith and she was glad I was questioning things. I am still not sure what she meant. But I felt really bothered by it. And felt that I was not representing God in the way that I felt I should. And then I realized that I have always felt that I have never represented Him in the way that I should. And hopefully will never feel that I have arrived. I may never be the believer that I want to be. The one who gets to hear “Well done good and faithful servant.” Though that is my biggest prayer. And still… Everyday I  feel the need to fall down on my face and worship Him. To understand that He loves me so much that when I ask for Him to speak to me He does. I may never understand why He can’t just heal every sick and crippled body,  and give every homeless person a home, and make every mean person kind. So that this world would have no more wars or natural disasters. But I do believe that someday we will live in a world like that for eternity.

I loved when Jesus said  to Thomas, You are blessed because you can see Me. But blessed are the ones who don’t see Me and still believe.

So I guess I will just be sad sometimes. I will still cry when people I love die or when people I don’t know suffer. And I won’t understand a lot of it. And  I may have a few questions from time to time but that is okay. Maybe it’s good to let others see that we all have times of doubt. It’s just about trusting that all things work together for those that love God. And not letting the stupid devil dig up in doubt what  I have planted in faith!

God puzzle piece

 

 

 

 

My Memory Maker


My mom and me in our backyard

I am not sure why I have such a good memory. I think it may be because of my mom. She made the best memories. I remember things so vividly I can still taste the grape juice she always gave me when I woke up from a nap almost six decades later. I can smell the vanilla she always made such a big deal about us smelling together every time we baked. And I can even still smell the kiln that seemed to always have something in it during her ceramic phase when I was just a tiny little girl.

My mom died yesterday. She was a memory making mom. In turn, a lot of my kid’s memories are because I carried on the ones she made with me. She was a natural born artist as was her sister. My mom was always creating. She made all of my gifts for parties I was invited to, and all of my party favors. The flip side of having a good memory are the regrets you also remember about your own attitudes and the things you wish you’d said or didn’t say. Praying you said thank you enough or apologized for the things that you regret. I don’t think I appreciated not having store bought things to give my friends back then. But years later, my best friend told me that she was jealous of how talented my mom was while she only had store-bought things to give. Funny how as adults, we see things with a different clarity and  appreciate now the little things that truly matter.

When I was in Junior High, my mom began painting and doing art shows and had quite a customer base. Though she had a lot of pain from having polio as a child, she was pretty active. We’d always help her set up her A-frames and sometimes she had every weekend a month scheduled with shows. Funny how now I am doing the same thing as has my daughter. The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree and my mom planted many fruitful seeds in her life. She had an art room up to the very end that my daughter and my niece made special memories in as kids. My mom loved making memories for them too. Generously sharing her paint and sewing supplies. She was always trying to teach one of us to crochet. And setting up endless little tea parties. But the best seeds she planted were the ones rooted from her faith.

Everyone knew she loved Jesus. She made sure that we all knew Him personally and I have no doubt that the ones that met her when she arrived in heaven ran to greet her to thank her for planting those seeds in their hearts. In regard to Jesus,  my daughter said, that she was His biggest fan. And my son said that out of all the people he knew who’d gone to heaven, he knew without a doubt that his grandma belonged there most. And my cousin said that it was probably a BIG DEAL when she arrived there.  And we are comforted that our moms are together again, there now. She would always say “Take Jesus with you” when we’d leave. I began saying it to my kids when they learned how to drive. It’s just become the thing to say to each other now.

My mom lived a good life. She was 83. She had two great marriages and during her last years, I could not have imagined a more loving caretaker as my dad. Faithfully taking her to what they call the 2 store. Letting her buy whatever she wanted… even if they didn’t need it. Telling us it gave her joy. Because of her polio she had bad memories of being in a hospital. My dad took care of her as she slowly faded all by himself and thanks to the help of our little Amanda who shared her caretaking experience weekly and helped us get Hospice at the very end. My mom never had to go to the hospital. It was bittersweet. I knew that we’d miss her but both my dad and I and my husband prayed that towards the end she would go fast and not suffer long.

My mom was always my soft place to fall all of my life. It was hard when the phone calls stopped. I tried to help as much as I could. Tried to get the last conversations in while she still understood. To fit in all of the thank yous and I’m sorrys as much as possible. And to laugh and remember all of the memories. The last days were filled with visits from her grandkids and great grandchildren and all of her loved ones who gathered to love her one last time. Ironically there was a baptism at their house the day before she died. Her Pastor and his family prayed for her and the next day she went home to the arms of Jesus. And then, probably attended the best party ever.

Goodby mom. I’ll miss you. But because of Jesus and you, I know that we will be together again.

Me Reinventing Me


Life has a way of just happening. I remember wondering how I was ever going to survive a broken heart after something just clicked inside of me and I knew that I was finally letting go of a very rocky three year relationship with my first real boyfriend and fiance. And I remember a few years later, how  life  seemed to keep going on for everyone around me but me when my dad died suddenly of a heart attack. And when my world came crashing down around me as I experienced divorce after my first marriage of fourteen years ended. And  when our little store was lost after an earthquake shortly before Christmas over a decade ago. I’d given up an art business I’d built for twenty years to open our little shop and found myself once again…. in a place that I’d grown to know so well. Me, reinventing me.

I have come to realize that unless you live in a bubble, we all must survive those times of adjustment. As kids, if we are blessed, we are sheltered from most of it. We don’t have to worry about bills or deadlines, but life happens even to kids and as we grow, whether through experiencing family crisis such as divorce, or illness or even death of loved ones, we begin to toughen up. We are “survivors” and as we survive each obstacle, no matter how small or overwhelming, we learn that we can.

As earthquakes and hurricanes and fires and floods and wars and political discourse seem to overtake the news these days, my heart prays for us all. We are in a time of life changing events constantly. The thing is, it really is about surviving. When I was in College I took a Speech Class and one of the topics assigned to me was… The Instinct of Survival. Those cliff hanging events in life that make us stronger.

After the earthquake I had to reinvent myself. My husband had to reinvent himself. We had to get jobs and work for “other” people.  And we did. Funny how we both have landed back in a space we started out in. He’d worked with his dad for most of his life when we opened our store. And I had my own art business where I traveled doing art shows, which I was doing when I met him. To make a long story not quite as long… he is back working with his dad and I have been given the opportunity to go back to my roots and have signed up for the same art show that I did twenty years ago called Sugar Plum.   http://www.sugarplumfestivals.com (take a look, it is the largest, most successful of shows in all of California for the last four decades! And still going strong!)

It’s interesting how life works. I am not sure how I couldn’t believe in God. He has been so faithful in my life. Even through all the ups and downs, I know He is in it! I’ve had miscarriages and lost good friends and loved ones. I recently lost a job due to the business being sold and the higher paid jobs being eliminated first through the process. But instead of looking at it as just another defeat, I had a funny feeling that I was being given an opportunity, another shot so to speak, to go back and revive my dream of working for myself again. And you know what? I’m taking it.

So here I am. Me reinventing me, once again. And I have a hero in all this. My husband. He has supplemented my dream through this version of “unemployment” and gotten inside my head as I have tried to explain my vision and the way that I am trying to fit everything in a 5X10 booth. (Half the size that I used to get.)  I have described card & display racks in my head and he has designed them so perfectly, you’d have thought I’d drawn them out for him! And I think everything is going to fit! We taped off  a 5X10 space on our driveway and set everything up, and it all seemed to fit! (There still is small stuff not set up, but for the most part it looks as if it is going to work!)

I remember when I was going through my divorce 25 years ago and this guy showed up with one red rose at one of my shows. All my artist friends knew how heart broken I’d been and they were so happy for me as they witnessed me once again, reinventing me.

I will keep you guys posted! My next show is Sept 21 – 24th. I’d appreciate all the prayerss I can get. This will be a huge test for the me reinventing me part!

PS:

This is a side note that has nothing to do with the above… But some of my readers have asked me to repost this… I think I need to write a whole new post regarding this… But so many people are still not aware of it. See if you are among them… Click on your gravatar (profile pic that people see when you LIKE or comment on someone’s blog) Did you know that if you don’t have a link of your blog’s address attached to your profile, people who may click on you trying to find your blog can’t? Below is the best tutorial I know about this very thing and how to fix it so that people can find you! Soooo sharing again.

https://nostolencatpictures.wordpress.com/2013/08/24/gravitar-links/

Unresolved


Have you ever woken up from a dream that wasn’t particularly bad but unresolved? You were looking for something, or someone, you were lost yourself… It happens a lot for me. This morning it took me a minute to feel alright about waking up. To not have to go back to sleep to fix something or keep looking for something or to find my way back from somewhere that was all only happening in my imagination, in-between twighlight and dawn. It made me think. This unresolved feeling of needing closure seems to be a topic in my life. An earthquake that wiped out our little giftshop, My book still waiting to be edited, that I finished a year ago, a job that ended, with raving reviews but due to budget cuts would not be there for me again this year…  And now…. me reinventing me once again.

As I look back at my life I see the pattern. I moved quite a bit as a kid. Never feeling as if I belonged anywhere. Making friends was never hard for me until I got a little older. Maybe it was because I didn’t trust that we’d be anywhere too long. Sometimes I was in  two schools in one year. Being the new kid was never easy. And then later as I grew up, the guys I chose were never really good for me. The first guy I was really serious with was abusive pretty early on, he even gave me an out after a pretty bad fight that came out of the blue, blindsiding me, not even sure what it had been about. Telling me he was who he was and that I was too nice to date him, but I hung on for dear life, a few years later he asked me to marry him, and in my head I imagined something so different than what it turned out to be. For a long time, I thought that I could change things and make it happen the way that I imagined. I wanted to live in one place so that our kids could live in one place and never have to move the way I did. But I also imagined love being different than it was for us. Sadly, he came from his own unresolved childhood issues and poof thus began my pattern of severed, unresolved, life changing events.

My divorce with my first husband (another one of my guys never good for me choices) was probably one of my biggest unresolved parts of my life. I sometimes wish that I could dream about it more so that I could go back in my mind and try to fix things, or at least get closure. Sadly, he is dead. I can’t ever say the things I wish I’d said or change the things I wish I could change. I hung on with all my heart that time, for as long as I could, until I just couldn’t anymore. He was a good man. He gave me great kids. He was a hard worker. But he was a text book alcoholic with a gene that I think must have been carried from his dad’s side of the family because his sister died a decade or so earlier from the same thing. Living too hard. They had addictive personalities that I am blessed to say all of their children have seemed to break free of. But it is still a scar I bury deep inside of me as something so unresolved.

My husband now, is one of the good choices I made after all of the lessons learned. Almost 25 years! Something in my life has stuck! I love him. He thinks I am beautiful. Did I say I love him?  I still think he is handsome. He used to sing me a Garth Brooks song that had a line in it…. “We fight just so we can make up!” I used to tell him that we’d never fight and I really believed it. Well that didn’t happen. We’ve had a few fights! It’s funny because my parents never really fought when I was growing up. I don’t think that it is a good thing for kids to grow up with their parents fighting all the time, but in turn, I don’t think it’s good for you to grow up thinking that you shouldn’t ever disagree. Because THAT is a hard act to follow and when you do disagree, that kind of thinking makes you feel like a failure.

This weekend I saw the movie The Glass Castle. Though not really anything like my life. Cuz in theory, my dad “did” build that “Glass Castle” and in the end, I finally got to stay in the same Jr. High and High School from start to finish. But there were pieces of me in that movie that I could relate to. From my childhood and throughout my adult life. And it all still feels so unresolved sometimes. But it made me realize one thing. We ALL have our unresolved stuff. As I have gotten to know friends and have been privy to their “stuff” in their lives. NO ONE is truly without the unresolved stuff. I mean, you can watch a reality show and all those people with money and fame, they all have it… The politicians (from both parties,) our Pastors, our Doctors, our good friends, we all have that unresolved stuff from our past and in our daily life and we are all working on it. Sometimes thinking no one knows. But I have come to the conclusion that we need to give each other a break. Because, we have all come from our own stuff and will be working on it until we don’t have to anymore. And by the way, that won’t be here. We will always be working on it here.

It Really Does Start At Home


I actually began blogging around this time of year, almost a decade ago when I had a harder time than I expected dealing with my empty nest. It blind-sided me so much that I felt as if I was slowly drowning in a montage of feelings I didn’t understand. I mean, I’d gone through all of the firsts. Leaving  both of my babies on their first day of school and all of the milestones that came after.  Before I experienced it, I’d read a few articles about empty nest syndromes and kind of felt a little judgie when I read about how immobilized some of these parents found themselves and surprised that it was both mother’s and fathers.

I think that in reading the stories of other people’s experiences, I realized that it helped to know that others felt the same way and to learn how they dealt with things. And as I began to find my own ground again, I realized that sharing our hearts in several different circumstances  really helped. And so I began writing about “LIFE” and in turn, started getting messages from people I’d never met, thanking me for making them not feel so alone. I figured that if I could help one person feel better about what they were going through, I would share my stories. I tried several different forums before I landed here on WordPress and when I created this blog, I totally felt at home, almost as if the readers and writers that found their way to my doorstep were like a little family.

I have written about love and heartbreak, faith and depression, appreciation and kids, friends and family, life and death, living in the past, pushing forward to the future, disappointments and blessings and today because it is this time of year that prompted me to start writing, I wanted to write to the parents as they send their kids off to school. There is a saying that I have grown to love:

Teach your sons to be gentlemen and your daughters to accept nothing less.

hugging kids

As a parent of adult children I have really reflected on what this means. Some of us feel that they have succeeded at this, some of us feel that we have failed. Some of us feel that we may have gotten it right with one or a couple of our kids and have a hard time understanding what happened to the other (s). Today I would like to encourage the young moms with kids just starting out and starting new years to really talk to their kids about kindness. Because it really does start at home.

When my daughter was in first grade at a Christian School. The program was amazing. I shake my head at how amazing. The Director of her pre-school and the Principal of her Elementary school as well as staff and some of the moms are still my good friends. Life changing friends. I love them. I think that we were all praying moms with a strong faith and yet, I watched the clicks and the gossiping among the little girls and realized that though we needed to set them free as moms, we also needed to guide and teach them to pray for things together.

It  touched my heart when we moved and my daughter came home from her first day of 4th grade in a public school and said in a horrified voice. “Mom, they DON’T even pray before they eat!”  It brings tears to my eyes now because I liked it when she was protected in that sweet little cocoon at Harbor Church School. But I knew that even there, Though the staff watched out for it as much as they could… there were little bullies. And no matter what, we can’t protect our kids from them.

But we can teach them to be kind and aware. To not judge because someone is not like them or doesn’t have the same clothes or backpacks or whatever the differences are. If they see someone sitting alone or hear someone else not being nice, to try to invite that person to be part of their group. I think we need to teach our kids at a very early age, that it is not okay to leave someone out, or laugh at them or to talk about someone or make fun of them. We need to get to know their stories and where they come from. To look out for the underdogs and be their hero. You never know whose life you may change by being kind.

If every parent and every teacher would make a point of teaching our kids why bullying is wrong. And encouraging their acts of KINDNESS and making it a fun project in every elementary school, just think how different the world would be if the adults took the responsibility of the kids and taught them the true golden rule. Because you know, in the end… Bullies grow up to either be angry adults or gentlemen.

Did You Know????


we lose ourselves

I recently was on an interview where this kid interviewing me, (that could have been my own kid’s age) told me that I was no “Spring Chicken.” He meant it as a compliment. I know,  because I was there and in the context of the conversation he was referring to the fact that I was experienced and would not be a flake like some of the younger applicants.  Therefore actually offending both age groups (young and old) at least he is an equal opportunity kind of guy, smile..

I am sure he would have been mortified if he thought about it and realized how politically incorrect that comment was. But I found it hilarious and let it slide.

strength quote

I think that I have grown a thicker skin and it feels kind of good. I just don’t care as much anymore. I mean, not everyone is going to think the way that I do. Not everyone is going to agree with all my views or believe what I believe. I have stopped making things matter so much. And in a way, it is kind of like taking a pill that numbs the pain. To finally be able to let go and realize that at this age I am still evolving and hopefully always will be. And yet, to embrace the fact that I am who I am and no one else’s opinion of me is going to bring me down ever again. Do you know how freeing that is?

I have lived much of my life buried under someone else’s opinion. Trying to be politically correct. Caring so much about what a co-worker, a friend, a family member, or the joe-blow on the street thought about me that I was consumed with so much self doubt that it has made me pretty negative.

artist studio

As I begin to create and really find my talents again, to work for me, and in turn for God, I am slowly feeling that wall come tumbling down. The one that I built brick by brick over the years. I am feeling fun and young again and slowly living in the moment and finding joy in everything that I create. I am the boss of me once again and though I learned a lot in the corporate world, I am back! I am so blessed to have a husband that is so supportive and friends and family that encourage me. And did you know, for the first time in a long time,  I know that I will be okay and have no doubt that I AM going to be a success!

paint brushes in a row

dachshundnew better fairynew 2 ballerinas (2).jpgnew gymnist upside down balance beam (2)girl dumptynew hanging ballerina (1)new jewelry fairy

Some of my recent creations….  Humpty Dumpty and dancing have been a kind of subconciousl theme for me….  maybe because…         I love the saying… if you stumble get back up and make it part of the dance… and as for the dachshunds, well I guess-  just because a special friend loves them!

The acknowledgment of the moment


View of the Peninsula from the cliffs of Rancho Palos Verdes

 

I have learned that checking off the things on my BUCKET LIST and really actually following through, can take me waaaay out of my comfort zone. So when we started planning our little YaYa weekend, it was fun to hop on board the planning train but when we actually seemed to have to say if we were “IN” I panicked.  It is one thing, posting the more flattering pictures of ourselves and sharing only the happiest of times, on our Facebook pages than actually spending a few days with our special old friends that we have connected with. Facebook is a funny thing. It allows us to paint a picture of just the things we want to share. You share bits of your vacations and funny or uplifting things, you over share pics of  your kids and then grand kids expecting everyone else to find them just as amazing as you do. But you don’t share your mistakes and regrets and definitely not your fat pictures! Sooooo agreeing to share four full days with friends you have not seen for forty years is a bit out of my comfort zone! But to my surprise I agreed. And I am from the old school… if you commit to something, you follow through.

 

Since I lived the closest, I volunteered to drive down with my car so we wouldn’t have to rent one and I’d be the designated driver. As I picked each old friend up from the airport, we thankfully just slipped right back into a comfortable place that must have been especially preserved for this exact occasion. There is a different kind of appreciation for friendships that have out-lasted almost a half of a century. And it was funny, each friend had a special place in my heart. Especially in the re-connection  as we bonded through messages. As we shared our stories, it was different than when we were kids. As High School friends we thought we knew EVERYTHING about each other back then, but we really didn’t. It was nice to share and listen to one another’s stories of our triumphs and failures, and just all of our history that came in-between forty years.

 

 

We spent hours catching up. Each having our own stories of  joys and heartbreaks that life brings. All of us coming into our own with the wisdom of our experiences. One thing I know we kept commenting on was how privileged we were to grow up in such a beautiful place and wondering if we really appreciated it back then as much as we do now. I think we all just took living so close to the ocean for granted back then. This weekend we spent a lot of time on a memory tour. We visited each of our old houses and all the places that held special memories for us. Our parents were a big part of a lot of our memories, especially the ones no longer here. We all recognized their mistakes maybe more openly than ever before,  but could appreciate where they came from and loved them for the good they brought to our lives. Hopefully our kids will do the same for us someday, forgiving our mistakes and appreciating our efforts. For I know that I’ve made many mistakes in my lifetime, but I think this trip helped me to let go of what I cannot change. We tried to stay away from the obvious stuff, politics, religion, etc.  Funny though, we all met at church and were part of a youth group. The only thing I shared was through all of my ups and downs, mistakes and heartbreaks, I’m not sure I could have survived without my faith. I KNOW I couldn’t have.

 

 

I think what I took away from this experience was that we need to really realize when we are happy. To live in the moment. And as my daughter has taught me, to not always have to take a picture, to put your camera away and just live in the moment and embrace it.  Even if for a second.  To forget about the past or the future. To forget about the finances and the ailments, to forget about what may be or what may not be and to really just take a picture in our heart of the seconds we are feeling happy. When I went to Seattle a few months ago with my daughter  (a BIGGIE  checked off of my bucket list)  and we were all standing in our grandparent’s home. I felt it. The acknowledgment of the moment! I remember thinking… “I am standing in my grandma’s house! WITH the two people who can reeeeally understand how much it means to me. Because they made it happen! I think I knew that this last weekend was important for all of us, for so many reasons and we needed to make it happen. I remember several moments that I embraced that feeling of being happy in those seconds and really acknowledging it. And you know, we don’t need to go on a trip to find it. Sometimes it is just spending time with your kids or husband or going out to lunch with a friend or finding that perfect song on the radio and singing your heart out and really just deciding to be happy. Being older brings a wisdom of appreciation that we lack in our youth. and being okay in our own skin. I loved that we were all happily married or happily single. We loved our kids or were perfectly fine not having kids. Those of us who had grand kids really were finally into being grandmas. Whatever it was, was. And as I get older, I’m not as sad as I used to be when something is over because I had a part in making it happen and now I have the memories!

The Four YaYas at our favorite Restaurant…. The Admiral Ristys in PV

(I’m the one on the right.)

Forever Connected That YaYa Sisterhood Kind of Thing…


 (Lynn is the blonde on the left)

I am getting ready to meet a handful of some friends from my past, way in my past… ones I called my best friends back then. The ones that  I met in my teens, and that I have a YaYa sisterhood kind of weekend planned with. We met in a time when every kitchen and usually every master bedroom had an attached phone. If you were lucky, you also had one in your own room, but with the same phone number. In a time when answering machines had not yet been invented and if you weren’t home to receive an important phone call, (unless someone was there to take a message) you missed it. Finding long-lost people in your past was through the mercy of a phonebook. If we had a report due, we would go to the library and look up our topics by going through the Subject Catalog in a bunch of long drawers that would give us enough information to go find the book with the information we needed. If we wanted a copy of something, we would pay ten cents and make copies on their copy machine. If we wanted to take a picture we did it with a camera and then had to wait for it to get developed and pick it up a week later.  And oh yes, there were Polaroid cameras back then too. and getting a semi permanent photo in a few minutes was the newest thing. (you can still make out most of mine but a lot are faded!) And if we wanted to send a message to a friend we would tear off a scrap of paper and write a note and pass it to them or if we wanted to write a letter to a friend or loved one that lived far away, we would  put a stamp on it and maybe a little sealing wax and the recipient would receive it in a few days.

 

Now days kids can follow each other on Facebook and Instagram and Twitter and who knows what else. Our cell phone is our answering machine, our stereo, our library, our phonebook, our camera and our computer. We can email our letters and pass notes anywhere in the world by a thing called texting.  If any of those people that we are looking for are connected to a social media account, we can usually find them. And that is how this particular handful of friends reconnected. It is kind of funny. Two of them are sisters, Lynn is two years younger than me and Cindy is a little more than three years younger. And for a few years, I hung out at their house during my teens as if I was just another sister. Their parents were the coolest and their little sister Tracy, was like my little sister. I have a ton of sweet memories and I can’t wait to remember them all with them. Lynn was in my first wedding and, I actually saw Cindy more recently, (though several years ago)  when we ran into each other in a nearby town and discovered that we didn’t live too far away from each other and connected a few times until she moved and we lost touch. That is, until this thing called Facebook popped up into our lives. The other friend Amanda, was more a friend of Lynn & Cindy’s, but the funny thing is… I feel almost closer to her now, as we have reconnected a lot through writing back and forth with a kind of honesty and admiration that sometimes comes only from really taking the time to sit down and get to know each other all over again through the written word.

Now I’m going to be very honest and perhaps a little shallow. In a way, I don’t want to ruin it. The magic of creating or rekindling friendships on-line is just that. A little magical. I was always one of the thinnest kids back before becoming a mom and now grandma and well, just before life set in. And funny, I hated it. I wanted a little more meat on my bones and to have the kind of shape that would fill that bikini top a little more. Not even appreciating for a minute, that hard, tan, flat stomach! That I would kill to have now! Why aren’t we ever happy with who we are? Now I’m probably the heaviest. Lets face it. We don’t post the most unflattering pictures of ourselves on our pages, without make up etc… now lines and all POOF it’s me! But seriously, I think that every one of these girls (including me) will only see each other’s hearts at this stage in our lives. And I know that in a few weeks, seeing  these particular friends are truly another very important thing on my Bucket List that I need to fulfill. And you know what I have figured out? Bucket Lists take us out of our comfort zones but in the end, they make the best memories, not really to replace the ones that came before, but to add to them, to understand that we were all meant to be forever connected in this thing called life.

Readjusting Our Gratefulness


 

I can still get up from a chair without using my hands. But if I am sitting on the ground, forget it! I have to practically get on all fours to get up. And it’s not attractive! Okay, now a lot of you sitting in a chair, just tried to get up without using your hands didn’t you? I’m blessed to be able to. I don’t take it for granted. Especially as the years catch up with me.

The older we get, or at least the older I get, the aha moments seem to hit like darts. Little realizations that would have been handy to “know” a few decades ealier. Perhaps why they refer to the wise “old” owl rather than the wise young owl and so on. Unfortunately, with age and the beginning of loss, also comes losing loved ones, friends, family and mentors that have taught us all that wise stuff.

I am sitting here, early in the morning of the last day of a trip to Oregon. The visit that brought us here was for a Memorial for my husband’s sweet aunt. Recently, we’d bonded more with his aunt and uncle in the last couple of years and I’d gotten to know Carol in a different kind of way than just a part of my husband’s family in another state. They’d moved near us for a couple of years until health issues brought them back to Oregon. But during the time I’ve been part of this family that linked us, and all the stories my mother in law shared with me, the link that bonded us was writing. Carol was a talented writer and it connected us in a way that passions link people.

We talked a lot about attending writing seminars together. She in fact was the one who told me about the two writing magazines I still receive to this day. And the one that made me more serious about writing my book (still waiting to be tweaked and edited and tweaked some more but it’s finished because of Carol) and starting this blog. In fact, she was one of the ones who faithfully read it and usually commented. In all the other important places she has left a gaping hole for everyone else, I feel silly kind of silly saying I notice a great big hole here. But I do.

A large portion of Carol’s memorial was in the reading of excerpts from her writings. And it made me remember a time when my dad died and I scrambled, looking for anything my dad had written. I guess in a way to salvage a piece of his heart. Writing really is a little bit like a glimpse of being able to see inside someone’s soul. Whether just a note that someone wrote, or a blog or a book or a collection of poetry found in a tucked away journal. Though, I kind of cringe at  the thought of anybody reading  my journals.  I’m not sure I’d want ANYBODY to read a few of those

I guess like in life, you can’t help but wonder, or at least it made me wonder as I sat there remembering Carol,  what kind of memories  and stories would I leave behind? Like me, Carol’s life wasn’t always without pain or good and bad choices that effected her children and their memories, but as I stood a little as an observer and on the outside of all the history that came before I knew Carol, and watched everyone come together in honor of this amazing woman, I had no doubt that her love rose above it all. There was no doubt that she loved and touched every life that was there that day.

I know that I made some pretty significant friendships and reconnected with some others and it made me realize that life is this amazing journey. And it really is all about love and making an effort to make a difference. So someday when we are gone our life will make our loved ones reflect and heal old wounds and reconnect in important ways.

I wonder, why does it take us so long to slow us down enough to realize how important some things are, and how unimportant others are? Perhaps, why He has alloted our bodies a certain amount of time to move fast and then slow us down to GET the things we missed along the way? The other day, I watched my granddaughter jump up from down on the ground when I called her, not using her hands to get up, and I thought… I remember when I could get up not using my hands, when life was still so unlived, and my body still almost brand new and how I probably didn’t even appreciate being able to do that when I could.  And how the older we get, we learn to really recognize the little blessings we missed along the way. And sometimes  we readjust our gratefulness and it sticks.

Learning To Fight Fair


I am trying to post a little more regularly. After I came back from not posting consistently, I almost forgot how. I don’t want that to happen again. WordPress moved a few things around and I had to figure it out all over again. But like going to the gym, I just need to exercise this thing I do… write. My post, The Writing Room, made me realize that I’d pretty much decided that “that book” that I have talked about for the last seven years and re-written a dozen times is not as much of a burden for me to write. I think that I had to go through the process of just telling my story to me. If that makes any sense at all? I didn’t know the ending because it had’nt happened in my heart yet. NOW I think that I know it. It took about a half a dozen years to grasp it. I still think that I have a message that I need to share and I finally can.

In the mean time my story still resonates inside of me. And parts of that young girl that survived that story still hangs on by a thread, fighting for validation and to be heard. And I have come to the conclusion that life is all about fighting fair and sometimes I still feel as if I am that young girl trying to feel validated. In a lot of my experiences, I have gained the wisdom that would allow me to go back to my younger self and say: “Don’t be so hard on yourself, or don’t make this or that so important.” Because I’ve learned a thing or two. But I have never really mastered being able to just “let it go” when I feel attacked. For me, fighting fair is first not raising your voice, and the tone and respect you use when stating your argument.

I think because my story is about abuse in my very first relationship, I am more sensitive to times when I don’t feel heard or validated. And yet on the other hand, when I do feel that affirmation, I will give you the world. To me, it seems so simple. But in all of my years of trying to be heard, the one thing left to my story is learning how to fight fair. As I have been going through the pages, I look back at all the fights that kind of formed me into how I have this crazy need to feel validated now. And out of all the things that I have moved on from… the one thing that has lasted is the need to be understood and not have things twisted. I’ve learned to let go of  a lot of things by this scale I’ve learned to use… I ask myself, from 1 to 10, how important is it to me? And recently, I’ve used it a lot and let a lot go. Even if it is just me who notices. I just know that it is making it better for me. But sometimes… when someone misunderstood something I said or twists how I feel about something or misinterperts something else… I can no longer be that young girl again “just taking it” I can’t back down. I just can’t, because I promised myself long ago that I would never cower in the corner again.

girl sitting in dark hallway

Learning How To Fight Fair

Don’t raise your voice, I can hear you.

Don’t talk to me in that tone.

You always want to be entertained

I’d rather be left alone.

I wonder if you hear me,

cuz it seems as if you are just thinking of what you’re going to say

I wish we could discuss this in some productive kind of way.

You totally misunderstood

but I can only see the anger in your eyes.

If only you could see me on the inside

you might just realize…

That I wasn’t even thinking

what you’re accusing me of…

One moment we were laughing

but now shadows loom above.

What just happened here?

I can’t even begin to guess.

What started out as a joke

is now a crazy mixed up mess.

Sometimes I am confused

how we both are so on the defense.

And once the angry words begin,

nothing makes much sense.

You accuse me of things,

that were never in my head

and twist the things you heard

that I never even said.

You say I’ve made it about me now

making me forget words that never were there

I can’t even begin to understand what just happened

when no one is fighting fair!

Diane Reed© 2017

 

Not Forgotten


I don’t share this a lot. “I” who talk about everything … It is one of those things that not a lot of people want to talk about. It makes them uncomfortable. But it is not something that will ever go away. I am reminded of it when I am made to  mark the box about pregnancies when filling out my medical history. And after all of these years it may not be something I think about everyday now, but it is there often enough, that place in my heart reserved for the two babies I never knew.

The first one, was before I had any children. I could speculate until the cows came home what caused either one of them, but I feel the first one was caused by me. I’d spent the whole weekend in a jacuzzi partying with friends up the street from where my husband and I lived. I was barely 21 and not living the way I should, especially if I wanted to have kids. I was only three months along and though my doctor assured me that many first pregnancies end in miscarriage and he was sure it was just “one of those things”, I blamed myself and turned my life around that day.

Of course I saw every new baby for months and months after that. Until I became pregnant with my son, I feared that I could not have babies. But I did, I had two beautiful healthy ones. A boy and then seven years later,  a girl. The perfect family. Until it wasn’t perfect anymore. I divorced when my daughter was 4 and soon after that, met my husband now. The second baby I lost was his. We’d been married for about a year and didn’t waste any time trying because I was past 35 which doctors deemed risky  back then.

We were so happy when we found out that we were pregnant. I planned in my head and my heart all the things a mother plans. I was sure I felt it kick. And proudly wore maternity clothes and then when I was a little over 4 months, I lost it. Just like “that” it was over. I tried to be so healthy and barely took aspirin. It just wasn’t fair. And it was traumatic. I almost died. My husband went to work and came home right away even though I told him not to. It was good he did, because he saved my life.

It seemed after that, people didn’t know what to say, so they just didn’t. Or they said the wrong thing, like “At least you have two beautiful healthy kids.” Well, I knew that. I knew that I was blessed. But I really wanted that baby too. I don’t think I ever really got a chance to grieve. I still think how old that baby would have been to this day. I wonder why it happened. And it still makes me sad. But I did still have two kids. I just wanted my husband to have one of his own. But he did. He has been an amazing father.  Blood wouldn’t have made it different for him. Someone did say something that I will always remember… when I was talking about how I wished I’d given him one of his own. They said… “He will just have another one  up in heaven too.” That was good to remember. I liked that.

All I know is that in heaven it will all be different. I will have four kids there someday.

You Have Not Been Forgotten

Shadows fall around me,

I don’t allow my heart to even skim my thoughts

or it would break for it’s lost dreams

It’s been over two decades since I lost you

though it seems like a hundred years in-between.

I think of you more than just when I’m filling out medical forms:

4 pregnancies… two births…

But then, my mind travels back to my first baby,

and I’m surprised it still hurts.

Who would you have been?

You who came before all the others,

the first one ever, to make me a mother

It’s been almost 3 decades since I lost you

My stomach was much flatter then.

You have not been forgotten…

You, the two that might have been.

Diane Reed

“The Writing Room”


It was quiet. The morning’s summer sun flooded the staircase 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 thought was only in her dreams. She 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 that sat in front of the beautiful bay window overlooking the tree tops, as the little brook below sparkled as it jumped over the 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 to get a drink.

The floor was refinished with rustic old barn wood and the wall to wall shelves were filled with books. Of all genres, classics, and every other book about writing that you might imagine. The comfy over stuffed leather swivel chair sat in front of the desk. Her laptop, sat open and waiting for her as a fireplace consumed the other side of the room with an overstuffed window seat 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 marked with  names of her children, others of her and 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 first shared her idea of making the attic a study to use for writing. Everyone was extremely helpful at first, promising to help clear out their own boxes. But now, several years later, nothing had been cleared out. It did look as if her daughter might have 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 as she looked at a place where she once started to organize things. One pile might have been a “keep” pile and another, a “throw away” or” give away” pile, 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 that she’d written her name on a lifetime ago. She dusted her palm across her name, as she read “Keri” in curvy round cursive that she almost remembered writing all those years ago. All at once, she was transported back into another time as if finding a time capsule. She lifted old loose photographs, and shifted 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 letters 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 what she might describe simply as 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.

Right?


A fellow blogger posed a conversation starter, basically asking us to reflect on a question that had been on his mind for a while…. “IF our life was over, how would we view it, right NOW at this point in where we each land?” Would we have done everything, we wanted to? Accomplished everything we set out to?

https://kingmidgetramblings.wordpress.com/2017/06/02/8070/

Jewel has a song called Satisfied.                                                                                                     It is probably my most favorite of all of her others.  A few of the lyrics go like this…

The only real pain a heart can know is the sorrow of regret when you don’t let your feelings show…        

 Did you lay it on the line?                                                                                                                                                      Did you make it count?                                                                                                                         Did you look em in the eye?                                                                                                                                                                                                              And did they feel it?                                                                                                                           Did you say it in time?                                        Did you say it out loud?

I think I have, said most of the things that I’ve needed to say that is, and if not I will probaly end up writing it. That is one of the perks about being a writer… you break open your heart and spill it out for all the world to see, whether they want to or not. And I guess they have the option of… the “or not” part and that is fine. At least I did my part.

In my lifetime, I’ve had the opportunity to say pretty much everything to all of the important people in my life, at least once. So I am satisfied that the people that I love know I love them, regardless of whatever the situation is when I am dead and gone, and if you know me, one of my strong suits has not been in holding back. If I think it, I say it. Though recently I’ve come to reflect on that and just maybe… the smarter you get, the more you learn to speak less. I mean, if you always share every card you  ever held, you would always lose. Right?

I have always been honest. And have come to the conclusion that, that is not necessarily a good thing. Since I expect no less from the people around me. I am just setting myself up for extreme disappointment. I don’t mean to sound like a cynic but expecting less of people is a lot easier than being constantly disappointed. And when someone shows you otherwise, it can be a happy surprise. Right?

I guess that is why I don’t reach out as much anymore. My circle has grown smaller and smaller, admittedly of my own doing. My husband on the other hand, is a people person. He would be at a party everyday if he could be. He is an entertainer and loves to be entertained. I am an observer. I have to force myself to be “on” and sometimes it is painful. And therefore I may just very well have to buy into the fact that I may have a touch of depression. It is hard to admit because I’ve worked in a Psychiatric Ward and been on the other side. The one with the key and the one who does the charting. I’ve transcribed doctor’s plans for his patients and carried out his order for meds for other people.

I don’t  close all the drapes and hide my head under the covers. I get up and cook and clean and work.  My house is the one that normally hosts all the family holidays and even though I am currently unemployed, I am out there trying to survive. I chat with random people and look for whatever opportunity I can find. I  strike up conversations and laugh and cry with my friends. But some days I am just so mad at the world and focus on the wrongs and the evil and hold on to resentments and just can’t seem to muster up the energy to try to let it go and other days I  just move on and don’t think about it all day. I recently had a whole week of fun where I just made myself stay happy and realized it was because I was actually happy.

So… What is depression? Can’t it just be circumstantial?  All I know is that some days I am so blue I just wrap myself in regret. And other days I am glad for all the times that have brought me here because what hasn’t broken me has made me stronger, what I thought I couldn’t get through, has made me a survivor. And when sh*t “stuff” happens to us that we feel is unfair or we run into situations that seem to be driven  by pure evil. It is only normal to feel kicked in the gut and a little more cautious to trust again. Right?

On the other hand, when  someone special (that you really want to see) surprises you with a special visit or you plan a special trip and have things to look forward to, when things are resolved, and you can breathe for a while, or someone pays you a compliment, or you have had a success that validates your efforts, or you just stop and breathe and see things from the eyes of a child and listen quietly in the moment of a prayer while you are down on your knees, and here God whisper ever so slightly…”My Child, it’s all going to be okay.” You lean back on HIS promises and whisper back…. “I know, right?”

To Put Me Together Again!


                          


My line of Dumpties  

All the King’s horses and all the King’s men…

I had a huge epiphany yesterday….  the older I get… The faster I recover  from falling down (metaphorically that is.) My body may take a little more time healing, but my heart seems to jump right back up. Once upon a time when something or someone tried to rob me of my joy, I’d dwell on it and let it knock me down and then I’d stay there and wallow in it.

Now, I just brush my shoes off and move on. And it is so freeing to be able to do that. To step back and evaluate the situation and the source and not be held hostage by someone else’s point of view. Over the years I have put so much value on the opinions of others (no matter how ludicrous)  and I have needed everyone’s validation.

Maybe… because I have  hit rock bottom so many times that I’ve learned to start building my foundation from down there. And have begun to finally  leave all the baggage of others behind. I have finally learned that by doing so, I can rise up faster and farther and stronger than I’d ever imagined. To look up from the bottom, get down on my knees and know HE is there with me as I  smile and say “I know that was you God, thank you.”  I don’t need All The King’s Horses and all the King’s men to put me together again because I am not broken! And will no longer allow anyone to tell me differently.

NOW,  I can just let it go. Where I used to beat something into the ground and let what other’s think, hold me hostage from my joy. Now I have learned to give others their space to think what they want but to no longer let it affect me, to know that my value is not someone else’s  perception of who they need me to be, or wish I was, but to remain 100% authentically true to myself .

For All Who Took The Time To Read My Post Yesterday


I wrote the post below several years ago titled: The Comfortable Place, long before anyone really read my blog. When I wrote just for me and used this blog as a place to store my memories. Yesterday’s post was also written as a Thank You to all those that had something to do with my amazing Seattle trip and also a place to store my pictures that I took. Today when I came on to read everyone’s sweet comments, I noticed that wordpress had attached some of my older posts that related to yesterdays and HAD TO share this one. It really captures just how much last week’s Seattle trip means to me. I wrote it years ago, never dreaming Seattle would ever happen for me again….

Pictures of my cousin and me… (You can see the book case behind the chair) Also, the Lake  that we visited….              Image             Image

That Comfortable Place

Sometimes my mind replays like a home movie. Summer time and being a kid always snaps me right back to my grandma’s at Lake Washington. My cousin Pammy was my first best friend and we would spend a few weeks together each year there, and I always had “Summer” to look forward to. Back then, the simple things filled me up with such contentment and joy. If only I could bottle those moments and take a swig every time I needed to feel that feeling again.

Funny how later, I let other things get in the way of those trips. I think that I was about sixteen and driving the first year I missed Seattle because of boys and jobs and other things I thought were more important back then. Now, I would give anything to recapture some of those moments for just a few days in my life.

I remember the smell of coffee and the first rays of sunlight flooding my room as I would pad down the stairs on those lazy summer mornings. Our days were not filled with anything special. Most were just hanging out and swimming and exploring the nearby woods. Sometimes I would invent adventures that my cousin usually was a willing participant in. We could spend hours planning shows and making tickets for our parents who would be the audience whether they liked it or not, or walking to the nearby store and sometimes sneaking to the lake instead.

Every empty building held a story that I would make up. The old girl’s boarding school, now all boarded up, (which to be honest, I really don’t know what that building really had been) held stories of characters that I would build adventures around. The big old corner house at the end of the block was definitely haunted. As well as the Synagogue around the block and our grandma’s basement! I was a writer and my imagination was my pen and my sweet little cousin a willing reader.

Today, those memories are like old books on a shelf, stories tucked inside the pages, not forgotten but hazy from time and space. Once opened, the scent of the pages and the joy of remembering seem to snap you into another time and place. Much like today. It is summer. So many decades later, and I want it all back. I want to go down the rabbit hole and spend my day in yesterday where our biggest problem was what bathing suit to wear to the pool.

This last weekend, I spent a few days visiting my childhood best friend. I met my daughter up there and we bunked together. I realize more and more how my baby reminds me so much of my little cousin and realize that I actually have “made” my own best friend! I enjoy her so much and love the quirky, crazy wonderful, fun, talented person she is becoming! It was so much fun having a slumber party with her for just a few days. Each night we would talk until the wee hours of the night… about silly memories and important things, about things that made us laugh till we cried and other things that just made us cry.  It reminded me of that comfortable place I shared with my cousin so many years ago. And for a tiny moment, I was transported back to those lazy summer nights where nothing mattered and yet every minute was the most important of all and it made me treasure the fact that every moment is what you make it.

They Say You Can Never Go Home…


I turned sixty this year and I told my very thoughtful husband and family that I wanted NOTHING. Forty and fifty were over the top costly celebrations and sixty just didn’t make me want to celebrate. Though I know that I am clearly blessed to be celebrating life at all and don’t take that for granted for one minute, I just didn’t want a party. Well, this year, my amazing daughter Brookie, and her Dad concocted an epic surprise for me. She faced timed me, holding tickets to Seattle!!!!

So for the last several weeks I had the most amazing gift to look forward to. You see, Seattle is my happy place. My childhood memories of all my summers all the way to sixteen were gathered there. My cousin Pammy and my grandma were really the glue that made everything so special but for more than half my childhood I knew that come summertime… I had a place to land. A place that made the world go away for a little while and to fall into the arms of a place that held unconditional love for me.

My grandparents lived just blocks away from Lake Washington on Seward Park Avenue. Their house was magical. It sat grandly on top of a hill that overlooked Mercer Island and everything about it was an adventure. I think because my cousin who was a little over two years younger than me, followed my lead and believed everything I said. (I am laughing out loud as I write this.)

My dad was up and coming in his career and had to travel and was transferred several times as I grew up. But he promised my mom he’d always send us home. And he did. I think maybe why I have to have “something” to look forward to now and if I don’t, I think I just realized that I get a little depressed. But there was nothing like looking forward to my Seattle days. I go there in my head now and walk through the rooms of that house when I am sad or just need a “HAPPY PLACE” to escape to for a while. I hadn’t been back for almost two decades. My last visit, my cousin drove me to the house and we walked around it, and as we were leaving met the owner who didn’t seem too impacted by the fact that our grandparents owned their house so never got to go in. And In my furthest dreams, and my most wished for  “check off”  of my bucket list… I never thought I’d ever get to go inside again. But the plan was that we were going to go and knock on the door…. Looking back now, I don’t think any of us thought any further after that.

This is the story of my journey as I truly got to go back home again…. 

This really is just a recount for me, but you are invited if you’d like to come along. I will only share a snippit of all we did because we packed so much more in, I will have to share it all in a few posts…

 Seattle bound!

I hadn’t been on a plane since my cousin and I went to Puerto Vallarta. It was such a blast to be going with my baby and this time she was taking me! Funny, how you start depending on your kids to navigate and find the baggage claim etc… 🙂

Pam surprised me with my cousins Katy and Jill and Katy’s kids that came along after I stopped going on my Seattle Summers and celebrated 60 with me! I was so touched and loved that Brookie loved them so much! It was as if no time had ever come in-between and we’d known each other our whole lives!

The next day…. Pam dubbed as our “Memory Lane” day. We got up early and headed for our old stomping grounds. First the lake that we spent many days sneaking down to…

It was so fun to stand where we used to stand and share the memories with my daughter who’d written that she was excited to have my stories come to life for her. I was so excited for her to see the house but the most I expected were maybe some good photos from afar.

Well guess what??!

THIS is a shot of the INSIDE of my Grandma’s door!!!!!!!

The most angelic lady opened the door and invited us in! Well, let me back track a little…  Pam and Brooke asked “Do you think that we should knock.” And I said “Oh yeah!!!!! I was not missing out on the opportunity. I guess at sixty you can do things like that you know. Anywaaaay, I knocked and my cousin and I kind of stepped back. I think I was thinking “Oh no! Now what?!” But Brooke stepped up and said as eloquently as I wanted to…. “Hello, this is my mom, and her cousin, and their Grandma lived here with their moms.” She invited us in right away. She was exactly my mom’s age and knew about our Grandma from the lady up the street who had lived the last 70+ years of her life taking care of her mom, our Grandma’s best friend Helen, who died a few years ago at 107!

She let us walk through each room. Even up the stairs that were probably the best memory I had of that old house. As we chatted for over an hour, I couldn’t help but feel this grateful emotional wave as inside my head I thought… “I can’t believe that I am standing inside my Grandma’s house with my baby and my cousin!” The two people in the world that could understand how much it meant to me and helped make it happen!

Entrance as you walk in the door (stairs are on the other side of the entry way wall)

            You see the Fireplace as you walk in the door and the kitchen doorway is to it’s right

r    Built in bookcase (view from kitchen) staircase to the left and front door on the other side of the wall with a little view of the sunporch my cousin and I used to sleep in.

Better view of the sun porch from the kitchen

side living room window (on the left as you walk in the door)

My favorite memory! The stairs! We’d sell tickets for our shows we had on that stage! I made my poor cousin perform on the landing as we did our nightly shows! (Since she had the better voice!) As well as other adventures we used to think up, using those stairs as our prop for most of them!

View from one of the upstairs bedroom windows

The above door is the one to leading to the basement. I tried to take a picture of the stairs where my grandpa used to come in after work and hang his pendelton before coming up the stairs. I was a little disappointed with the kitchen. I remember it with all the old fashioned appliances and squeaky “pink” cabinets! PINK?? and it had a bread drawer that always had powdered sugar dounuts in it! Maybe I should have known they’d change the pink cabinets. Smile…

Patty our Angel who lives here alone now since her husband passed away a few years ago.                                                       (Looking out the kitchen window into the magical back yard as she chatted with my baby)

       

The dining room and the built in china cabinet where we used to sneak sugar cubes out of!

      

Front of the card (me when I was little, with a ski mask on photo shopped by my crazy cousin and the beautiful ceramic sugar bowl she handmade for me with two pounds of my own sugar cubes so I would not have to steal them anymore!

The dining room french doors lead out to my grandma’s beautiful back yard.

It is still as magical as I remember it.

 

In Brookie’s card to me she wrote….

” I’m so excited to share this adventure with you & to see all of your stories come to life.”                                                   I am not sure how I ever got so blessed but as I was standing there in the moment… I was so grateful to my daughter and my husband and my cousin and Patty and to God who blessed me with all of the memories that I treasure. And I thought… Sometimes… in those very rare… serendipitous moments when the seconds and minutes all kind of work out just right. You CAN go home sometimes.

I Didn’t Take Care Of Me Then So I Have To Do It Now


If only we could learn to just expect the best from each other at an early age

I wonder why they say that our childhood affects us so much, and that the years; birth to twenty are our most formative?  So… approximately less than 20% of our life, (considering we live into our eighties) is supposed to be what makes us tick? Do you agree?

When I was seventeen I met a boy that changed everything. I felt so wrapped up in that relationship that I let my friendships suffer and walked away from my values and morals and let that boy become my world. I think that I had insecurities from my childhood that in turn caused me to allow the kind of relationship we had happen. Though I feel that I had a great childhood as childhoods go, my dad traveled and we moved a lot and I was never in one place or school for too long until about seventh grade so maybe that had a lot to do with everything. I was barely seventeen when we met. And in everything that came before that, I do feel that what happened next has made me who I am today.

I’d dated before but I was really swept up this time, like never before. I admired him so much. But there was always this ambivalent feeling deep down inside. Kind of like I felt so lucky to have him and yet wanted to turn and run like the wind to get away pretty early on in our dating. I wonder if it was my child inside me that had a little more spunk trying to give me the strength to hear my inner voice that I ultimately ignored. There were some really good times but some pretty bad times and I wonder why I stayed so long. It makes me want to analyze it more now.

Recently, a young girl I befriended a few years back, shared some abuse in her relationship on Facebook. Several people jumped in sharing how they were also in abusive relationships and how hard it was to leave. Not only was I stunned about what my young friend shared, but also about her friends that shared their experiences.  No one ever guesses what is going on. We all are experts in hiding and protecting our worlds as we know them. And… No one understands unless they are going through it. I’d hid what was going on for so long, I knew once I’d told someone  (like this girl did on Facebook) it would be my exit. Maybe that is why I didn’t tell. I wasn’t ready. I wonder why some people stay and some are carefully looking for the red flags long before they say yes to a first date? Well, I know that in my daughter’s case it was because she had a mom that drilled into her head to never put up with one second of someone with a temper. And she didn’t. She held out for someone who is her partner and best friend. I made sure that she felt valued and loved from the time she was born. So why did I stay? And why did I stay when I finally knew that I wanted to leave?

I asked myself these questions as I pondered writing a book about it. Back forty or so years ago, no one talked about abuse. Especially just dating abuse. Fortunately, I realized that if he treated me so badly before we were married, what would it be like married with kids and stuck? The thing is. YOU can only help you. We were engaged and slightly financially enmeshed but what if I only depended on him? I think that is why I’ve always found it so necessary to always have my own way of making money.

There are parts to this story that are so convoluted. Parts that I can barely believe ever happened. Parts about leaving, & returning and parts about leaving again. Today I have come full circle. I almost lost everything trying to get closure from a place in my life that changed me into who I am today. I had to go and get that part of me back. I don’t regret it. Though I regret hurting anyone in the process. The bottom line is that I didn’t take care of me then so I had to do it now.

Today I am not the same person that I was yesterday. And you know, I think that is what it is all about. To answer my own question… Our formative years are every year we are still alive living life. We don’t stop evolving and learning the lessons. We are a part of the lessons daily. I just needed to find the strength in the process and the tools to realize that I have learned that I don’t have to reside in my past ever again… only refer to it as needed.

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(I am beginning to dust my book off and trying to figure out what I want to say in my synopsis letter. This was just an attempt of the dusting part!)

PS:

Below (in RELATED) there is a link to  two past posts that explain everything much better.

1. Go to:  the click of a key in Facebook

& then

2. Getting Over It. In abusive relationships

(both below in Related) that will take you on this journey that will help you understand more & someday be part of the book I am dusting off & preparing for submission. I just need one week without interruption. 😏 Sigh.

Like Blowing Bubbles


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It’s been a while since I’ve written and even longer since I’ve worked on “my book.”  It’s funny. Once, I couldn’t “not” write. Now, I am not in a major writing block but I don’t want to just write to write. I have fleeting moments when I want to share something but if I don’t move on it right away, it kind of goes away like blowing bubbles… they are there floating around and then POP! Maybe it is because my study is out there with my art studio now. I have to walk outside, unlock a door and turn on a light and warm the place up before I can begin, where once I just walked to my office inside the house. Or… Maybe it’s because I’m getting older and my ideas in my head don’t last as long. Smile.

But in the time I’ve been away from my blog, I have a few things that have happened in life that I would like to share if you would care to pull up a chair for a while and chat with me…

In dreams… I’ve learned that you have to believe in yourself. and you have to become fearless in doing it. Even when you feel you are wasting time, or doubts crowd in so you can’t see the whole picture, you have to realize that dreaming is a form of planning and that nothing worth while ever just happens. Hard work and persistence is the only way you reach your goals. You must run toward your dreams as if you were on fire! And believe that you are never too old to set another goal and another, to reach that ultimate place that you want to be. The trick is… to realize that there is no expiration date on your dream. It is terrifying at times, when reality gets in the way and you have to make the choice to stay stuck in your comfort zone or go for it.

In relationships I’ve learned that love is a funny thing.  It isn’t just about that “all wrapped up in a butterflies in your stomach, over the top Ferris Wheel, falling in love kind of feeling. It is leaning on each other in the good and the bad times. Growing older but still seeing the beauty in staying. It’s still having a few fights but not wanting to pack your bags every time you do. It’s caring about each other with unselfish fortitude and doing things the other wants to do and giving freedom without guilt trips when they want to go do something without you. It is supporting their dreams and getting behind ourselves. And realizing that a supportive spouse is about as HOT as it can gets! And it is wanting to be together while sometimes doing nothing at all. And it is appreciating things in each other that you may have missed along the way. Things that have always been right at the core of why you’ve stayed.

I’ve learned that our kids are small for such a short time. That in the blink of an eye, they will be adults with thoughts and opinions of their own. That we have a tiny window to insert the values that we want them to carry with them. That they learn by not our words, but by our actions. Not by what we tell them, but what we show them. And in the end, it is their choice what to take with them and how well we packed those metaphoric suitcases for them.

I’ve learned that life is short. Time is fleeting. Love is more than a feeling. And only we can choose who we want to be. God has given us all free choice. In believing in HIM and believing in ourselves. I know people in my life who have given up on both. And I have learned through all my choices… never to give up on God or myself or the people I love and that everything is worth it in the end.

Now if you’ll excuse me… I’ve gotta get back to work!

my-studio

(My new art studio/study my hubby made for me!)

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My garage workshop my husband also set up for me!

abc scarecrows at reminisce

(A start…. My Welcome Folk… Porch Dolls)

I’m So Glad I Didn’t Give Up


Things I might say to my future self…

“I am so glad that I didn’t give up!”

I no longer look out a window as I write this. I am inside my brand new cozy art/writing studio that my husband lovingly built for me after we moved here and has since made new, and recently moved me back into.

my-studio

When our daughter was in the third grade we had an opportunity to move and so feeling that raising her in the country might be amazing, we packed up all of our things  and moved four hours away from all of our friends, my son (a biggie) 😦 who opted to stay, and my business and all of my art shows and resources. Though we brought all of the show displays and art stuff, planning to reboot a new customer base, it just wasn’t the same.

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I ended up traveling back and forth to do my shows and for a while it worked. And then we opened up our little shop; Rose In The Woods, which if you follow me, you know our story about losing it. (If not, you can find the story here:) https://dianereedwiter.wordpress.com/2012/09/23/a-thing-of-beauty-in-an-unexpectd-place/

But that is not what I wanted to focus on today. It is just that today, I sit here determined to not let anything stop me. To somehow let all of those times when I felt slammed up against a dead end, not discourage me, but to encourage me. Because… I am still here believing in that same dream.

Years ago, when my neighbor took a little painting I’d painted for her as a birthday gift, to her corporate building where she worked, and came back with forty orders for me. I believed that God answered my prayer about finding a way to stay home with my kids and work for myself. Which I was pretty successful doing, for a couple of decades.

Today, I can’t help but feel a little frustrated. I have read hundreds of very helpful tips and tutorials and I am still not reaching a very big audience. I realize that this is barely week two since I re-opened my Etsy shop and that my art needs to be updated (which I am in the process of working on) and that today there are so many more talented people out there toting their own wares. Some that were not even born when I began and that those little artists  are way more techie than I am!

But then I have to go back. Back, back, back. To my VERY first art show. It was  THE ONE to get into and there was a waiting list. I started praying that somehow I’d make the cut. I knew it was slim to no chance that I’d get into it that year, and I still had no idea what I was doing. But someone dropped out at the last minute and wahlah! for some reason “I” got in! I was not in the greatest spot and I was outside and it was FREEEZZZING and I only made a few hundred dollars that weekend, but I took the opportunity to walk around and study the booths that were packed with “buying” customers and took notes! The next year at that same show, (I had a better booth inside) I made One Thousand Dollars the first hour! Keeping in mind that this was in the late eighties and that was BIG money at the time. During that year in-between, I’d added dolls to my line and started making a line of actual kid-sized ones. As the show opened, a lady who lived in an amazing near-by neighborhood known for their elaborate Christmas decorations  called “Sleepy Hollow” bought all of my elves that morning.

sleepy-hollow

(Her house won the award that year)

I can’t say that I was THAT successful, every show after that, but it made me realize what I could do with a lot of preparation and understanding the market. Now, I feel as if I am kind of starting at the begining again, and I just need to research like I did for that first show. My kids, my husband and my friends have been great cheerleaders. Though, somehow I need to reach that customer base I was so spoiled having for so many  years . I’ve been wandering through the Etsy shops that have thousands of sales to see what they are doing right, that I am not. I know that I need better photos and to keep educating  and challenging myself technically. (Which is probably my biggest road block.)

I welcome all my reader friends to wander through my shop below & I welcome any feedback as well!

https://www.etsy.com/shop/DianesDesignsbyDiane?ref=hdr_shop_menu

I am not sure what is in my future, but someday I pray that my future self says: “I am so glad I didn’t give up!”

May I never forget that on my best day I still need God just as desperately as I did on my worst day! believe-defined

 

 

 

Like A Flip Book


lonely-ghost-girl

I feel as if my life is so out of control right now. I’m kind of having a little panic attack as I do the bills.  I have no job. I mean it simply hit me that I am unemployed! My parents are aging and I am worried about that, as roles reverse and I feel the pressure. It almost feels as if my life is like a little “flip book” as all the years just flash before my eyes.

From riding in the back seat of my daddy’s car and watching the moon follow me, I remember falling asleep only to wake up as he carries me in the house, feeling safe and so content. And then all of a sudden, first dates and the ups and downs of falling in love for the first time and a couple more times after that. Of weddings and having babies, of miscarriages and parties and funerals and then more baby showers, a painful divorce and another chance and another wedding, in-between the pain of failure and the whirlwind of just living life and trying to survive with all the joys and heart aches that come with it. Never feeling that the good times lasted too long but looking back “now” and feeling that even the bad times were kind of the good old days.

I remember shopping with my daughter her freshman year of high school. We had a budget every year. My kids always got the first day of school outfit and some other new outfits, new shoes and a new backpack with school supplies. I guess it was so special for me because my dad always took me school shopping and it was this amazing tradition that I treasure more than I ever did when it was happening.

The year I remember most, my daughter and I were on a vacation with my childhood best friend. She was blessed with never needing a budget and her kids usually came out with a bag of something from each shop we went in. The girls had run ahead of us and when we walked in the store they were all already shopping. My friend’s daughters started handing their mom clothes they’d chosen, when  my daughter ran up to me with a jacket that made her eyes sparkle. I looked at the price tag and with a raised eyebrow said, “you know this one jacket is a third of your school clothes budget!” Without missing a beat she just put it back on the rack as my friend purchased more items for her daughters as they ran ahead to the next shop and my daughter happily followed.

Something kicked me deep in my heart, the way she didn’t argue or even mope. At that moment I felt richer than all the money I could ever need. It only took a second for me to grab that jacket and take out my credit card and decide that I’d just have to figure out how to stretch the budget  for that year. When I reached my daughter I handed her the bag and said, “this won’t count as part of your budget.” She burst into tears hugging me and said “Oh mama, thank you but it’s too much!” It was probably one of my best purchases I ever made. Later my stunned friend asked me, “How do you make a kid be so appreciative?” I knew that it was kind of a rhetorical question so I didn’t say what I wanted to, but the answer is  you don’t buy your kid everything they want so they appreciate the things they do get.”

Today my daughter buys her own clothes and lives her own life. Both my kids have little parts of me in them but they are mostly themselves. And I am happy they are strong and have their own personalities and are creating their own way. But at the same time I wonder where it all went? The time of buying clothes and setting curfews and driving them to this place or that place, well it sends me to a place where I feel the pages flipping by. In a way, I wonder where it all went. So fast? in my flip book of a life!

I remember my grandma telling me how in her seventies she still felt seventeen. Me too! Now as I look to my future I feel that flip book, remembering the box boy who called me Ma’am in my thirties! Or the woman at Ross asking me if I wanted the Senior Discount in my forties! I remember being size five! Where did it all go?! That little girl I once was, is just a ghost of me, but still deep down inside somewhere.

Like a flip book, I want to slow it all down, I want a do over! But then I realize that someday, these will be the good old days and that today is the oldest I have ever been and the youngest I will ever be again!

Being nice… IS as Simple as That


bullying

When I was little I used to look at the mean kids and think when they grow up and look back, they will be so ashamed. But as I have lived life I know that more than likely, they just grew up to be mean adults. Funny how small our worlds are when we are young. We don’t automatically understand things objectively. It is all so simple before we are about eight or nine. We don’t understand about egos yet. But if we are blessed, we have adults that can teach us that it isn’t what others think about us but what we ultimately think about ourselves.

My dad grew up in a family of five boys. He was a twin and most of his life didn’t have a toy of his own. And the ones he did have are stories he tells about seventy years later. He recently told me a story about a big old mean coach in High School that told the class that nobody better return without gym clothes. He had $5 to his name and a horrible tooth ache. He went to the dentist and was told, “$10 bucks to fill and $5 bucks to pull.” Needless to say he returned to school without gym clothes or “that” tooth. He said that all the kids were standing there in new shoes and gym clothes and he was the only one dressed in school clothes. I won’t even give that horrible coach room on this page to say what he said. But my dad never went back to that school and later joined the Navy to be able to eat and get an education there.

In my life, I have discovered a lot more about mean adults. As Jane Austen said: “I was quiet but I was not blind.” in observing them, we  learn how  to deal with them. As kids we knew them as bullies. As adults we call them difficult.  I have strategically positioned my life around those people, avoiding them as best I could. I’ve viewed them a little like “land mines”  and tried to surround myself with amazing people and must say that I’ve been pretty successful in doing so.  Though, we all know that even though we choose most of the people we spend our free time with, there are a few who slip by that we can’t control, work related, family, and a few that we let in on our own omission.

Sometimes we have to look deeper and understand that hurting people hurt people. That where we see the two choices, to be nice or not, and  two paths that seem pretty obvious which to take, we must realize that in their pain, they are only seeing one. In the past, it has been so hard for me to not say what I am thinking. Let’s just say that the filter has been slightly in need of adjustment for a long time. I have to intentionally realize that the guy who cut me off or cut in line, has no idea who I am or is personally doing anything to me in particular, and that I have no idea what is going on in their life. It isn’t always easy to just be nice, to stay on the high road, to keep my joy and not give anyone else the power to to take my joy away. Nor is it my responsibility to punish them for their bad behavior.

Being nice is as simple as that. We can conquer negative energy with our peace.  But what about the ones in our lives that is not a stranger that we may never see again, but someone that we have to deal with daily? It takes practice not to react. It takes even more to be “nice” and understanding. Because sometimes the ones that challenge you more, teaches you the most. That people and situations are both powerless without your reaction. I remember once I accidentally cut someone off who was in my blind spot. I saw it all unfold in my rear view mirror as all I could do was hold my breath and pray. It was a near miss.

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As the guy pulled up next to me, I knew he deserved my eye contact and I gave it to him as I mouthed as sincere a “SORRY” as I could without him hearing it. It totally diffused the whole situation in less than a second. This big burly guy got a soft look on his face and accepted my apology all inside the magical moment of respecting each other. I was wrong. He deserved my recognition of that. How easy would it be if that happened every time on the road. No matter who we are, regardless of age, gender, race, we need to respect each other. It’s as simple as that.

In the end, the only power we have is to set an example. To realize that everyone deserves kindness and respect, even the ones being rude to you. Not because they are nice but because you are.

“It’s Okay Sir, There’s No One In That Car”


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Anyone who has followed my blog knows this story… but sometimes I just need to remind myself of all my blessings. So please bear with me as I remember.

This morning as I was getting ready for work, I was feeling a little sorry for myself, having recently been laid off, but still trying to finish out my “time” when it dawned on me what anniversary it was, and how thirteen years ago today, I was bustling around our little store, turning on the Christmas music and the fireplace. Making hot apple cider and setting out cookies.

My daughter and I had just pulled up in front of our little gift store, Rose In The Woods, to “open” as we waited for our employee Caroline to relieve  us long enough to go Christmas shopping.

All month long I’d hear our customers say… “This is my last gift I have to buy!” and I’d panic, because I hadn’t bought anything yet, besides the gold watch I’d ordered for my husband and just picked up from Pan Jewelers, a local merchant in our building , a few days earlier.

As we pulled up, my daughter Brooke asked to wait in the car but I coaxed her into helping me open, promising that with her help, we’d get out of there sooner to go shop! Just as the Fed Ex guy showed up with a back order of quilts, Caroline, our employee walked in the door as Brooke implored,”No mom pleeease don’t open that box!”  knowing that normally, I took the time to open each quilt and hang them on a fat dowel to display. I decided to compromise saying that she could just price them in their zippered plastic packages and was about to find a basket to put them in when the phone rang and my husband was calling from across the street where he’d recently moved his printing business in order for us both to have more room. Asking if Brooke could run over and  pick up a mug for a customer who was scheduled to pick it up that morning.

We both rolled our eyes as if to say “we are never going to get out of here” as Brooke ran across the street. And another customer walked in. I’d just found a basket for the quilts when we heard a loud bang and all of a sudden our painted wooden floor began to buckle and roll as the room began to shake for what seemed like several minutes. I can’t say why, but I directed everybody to get in the back of the store and as they did, the roof caved in, right where my baby would have been placing that basket filled with quilts.

Not knowing, that when our roof caved in, it had also slid off of the building onto the cars below, including our car that Brooke had asked to wait in! I ran outside to find my baby still holding the mug, crying in her Dad’s arms as they surveyed the crunched building that used to hold Rose In The Woods. Not yet knowing about the two women killed right next door, I ran to them. As we stood huddled in the middle of Park Street that day, we watched as heroes began pulling the bricks from things.  I  suddenly noticed as they started removing bricks from my car. So I ran over, and choking back a sob I tapped on the shoulder of one of the firefighters and said…”It’s okay sir, there’s no one in that car.”

IF ONLY…. I Could Go Back And Tell Keri What I Know Now


christmas-tree

When I was a young girl, I counted the days until Christmas. Both my parents made it magical for me. My dad was as big of a kid as I was about it all! Maybe because they didn’t have a lot when he was young. And my mom baked and decorated and was always making something and well, I was just blessed.

My memories are of festivities and Nativities and later…. of my mom’s holiday boutiques that she held at our home with all of her artsy friends, when for a few days our house was transformed into a kind of magical holiday shop that was constantly packed with people. Now looking back, I remember it as happy days, but I know I was annoyed by it as a teenager. Not being able to find a parking place when I got home from school, having to maneuver my way through the crowds as I walked in the door, having to smile and be as polite as a sixteen year old can be, as I trespassed over the barricades on the staircase to my room, flopping on my bed to call and complain to my best friend or boyfriend or whoever I was calling, only to find someone else on the line downstairs. Grrrr….

But as an adult, looking back those were The Good Old Days!! And I have tried to replicate it ever since. I tried to make each holiday magical for my own kids and hope that they have special memories. I even have done my own holiday boutiques. A few at my house, but mostly I have found ones like Sugar Plum Festivals in Orange County California  http://www.sugarplumfestivals.com/  that I did for years, before opening up our own store Rose In The Woods.

Each period in my life, I look back on fondly and yet I remember constantly being annoyed with something or other. And I realize now that each time I complained, whether it was getting ready for a show, or being overwhelmed with all the responsibilities of owning a store, I missed the blessings a lot of the time by feeling burdened instead of blessed.

Even now I almost missed it. I have learned that due to financial reasons there will be lay offs at my job and my position as an Event Coordinator will be one of the ones eliminated. Just when I felt that I’d really gotten organized and each event was smoother than the last. My boss and I were fine tuning things as we would see the need and after the last event which happened to be a holiday boutique that I helped make a success, we were getting a lot of calls for quotes for more events. Not even sure what will be happening with that building, Corporate has decided that my position can be integrated. Funny, I never even felt resentful. But I am sad. I love my boss. She is one of my best friends now and will always be whatever happens. But it kind of sucks that most corporate companies have to make these changes by the end of the year so it falls on the holidays.

fireplacefire-in-fireplacetreejim-and-i

I guess with all the changes looming over my head, I really didn’t feel like doing Christmas this year. But lo and behold, I came home a few days ago and my husband (with his bad knee and all)  took down every single box marked Christmas and went about pulling everything all out and making it Christmas in our little home whether I wanted it or not! Yesterday was our 23rd Wedding Anniversary and through all of our ups and downs, job or no job, I can’t imagine not recognizing right now that THESE are the Good Old Days!!!!!!!

writing poetry

Some of you know that I have been writing a book for the last half of a decade. It is about a fictional girl named Keri. But to tell you the truth, she is me. In every aspect. Though I thought it would be easier to tell my story in the second person. http://kerisjournal.wordpress.com  It starts out with Keri as a young girl. Before cell phones or the Internet. And moves to today. I started a very rough draft in a corner of my blog to see if I could get some feedback. It is VERY rough and I definitely will edit a few times and change the format before I seriously consider showing it professionally. In my blog I feel safer and know I will get honesty but a little softer (Smile) though now I think I can take the professional feedback. So who knows THIS may be the kick in the rear I needed to get serious with it.

I had not visited that section of my blog for a while and someone said something profound in a comment on my last post… about how we come with more experience than Keri. And I thought…”Oh how I wish I could go back and tell Keri everything I know now.”

I have always relied on everyone else to think for me


 

judy-garland-quote

The thing that I must remember,  is the “concept”  that not everyone is 100% good or 100% evil. Nor are they 100% right or 100% wrong. Navigating through this life, I sometimes feel as if I am being carried by this vessel called “me” who came with so many facets, all without instructions. I know that I’ve only used a tiny percent of my brain and my heart, well who knows where I lost the directions on that one! Though, over the years experience has been my guide. If you follow my blog at all, you know that I am big on where we come from, our history and how it has molded each one of us.

Some may say that I live in the past too much. I say that our pasts are our best teachers. And knowing about the past of others can give each of us a little more compassion for the other. I love to hear about everyone’s story. When I was little, I’d ask so many questions, people would jokingly ask if I was writing a book. Even back then, I knew it was a rhetorical question and was not always meant kindly. But finally I learned to answer, “You know, I probably will someday.”

It looks as if I may have the opportunity, to get serious about it sooner than later and just might have some more unexpected time on my hands. I’ve always been a believer in God’s Timing, not mine. And perhaps His subject, not mine. I’ve had this project in the works for several years now. But I’m not sure I am ready to bring it full circle. I feel that I have other things to write about for now. This last election was life changing for me. It opened my eyes to how I have always relied on everyone else to think for me. For the first time, I really researched and only now realize that I only tapped the surface. It has inspired me to be better, to know more, and be accountable for what I believe and basically who I want to become.

computer2

The one thing that I have discovered is the fact that no one is just good or bad, right or wrong. Sure there are some pretty bad behaviors and some opinions that to me might be wrong. But God created us with free will and no one can take that away from anyone. Whether they believe in Him or not. There has been so much hate and anger over the last year, friends un-friending friends, family and co-workers divided. And for some reason, social media seems to be the place where people feel entitled to behave badly. Kind of like when some people are behind the wheel in traffic. There is a mentality that certain people get on the Internet, like someone cutting you off on the road, there is this sense of false power.

I have been learning to look at both sides and research not via the propaganda, of either side but find the facts and the history of where that person came from or how an issue originated. Discovering that no party is 100% right or wrong. Every person has good and redeeming qualities. We need a template to help us move on. What  better example than  ground zero’s?  I’ve been reading about the personal stories of 911 and it is hard to believe that we’d ever recover from something so horrific! But we have. I remember for a short time, we all worked together in a kind of recovery mode. Enemies and friends, all one. We need to find that place and again, to look at each other one at a time, without race or gender or parties and stop hating.

If I Let You In… Please Don’t Break Anything


..

terri-scott-and-i In San Mateo… in my front yard… I wonder if I never moved who I’d be today… ?

At a very early age, I learned how to put up walls. Probably because… when I was younger, I was always the “new kid.” My dad was up and coming. A Mattel Executive, right when they were introducing Barbie and Hot Wheels. He rode the wave  and then in the 70s he seemed to settle into a computer Company called CSC in El Segundo and remained there for several years as one of their Vice Presidents. When I was nine, we finally landed in a Southern CA Community called;  Palos Verdes Peninsula, where other up and coming daddies also brought their families.

Being a Mattel tester kid was fun. During our first move I met Terri. My first best friend, who ended up being the best thing about all of my dad’s transfers,  (& remained my best friend until she died a few years ago) admitted that she was jealous of me. She told me once, “Your dad went on all of these business trips and always brought you something back.” Little did she know, I was jealous of her. Her dad came home every night and she lived in the same town all of her life.

palos-verdes-peninsulaPalos Verdes Peninsula

 

Maybe it takes a kid with a better backbone to go to four elementary schools before nine, but I never really mastered the art of making friends back then, basically it was just plain awkward, coming in the middle of each school year. And kids can reeeally be mean. In turn, I tried to teach my kids to seek out the underdogs and welcome them into their group. Kids learn how to be bullies at an early age and I feel that if more parents would take the initiative and teach their kids to be more aware of the friendless kids, I think they’d ALL have a head start on becoming amazing adults.

The thing that saved me is that I loved to read and write and I always had Terri.We bought funny stationery and sealing wax and wrote to each other often. And where ever I went, I knew I had a best friend “somewhere.” Who knows if I’d remained across the street, if we’d have stayed best friends or even traveled in the same crowd. But there was something magical for both of us…  To her, I was the girl across the street that traveled all over and for me…  well, she didn’t even know. She just made me not feel so alone in those times of being the new kid and arriving after everyone had already made their friends for that school year.

Looking back as an adult, I see that every circumstance and experience made me into who I am today. And I am grateful for them. But back then it just seemed to suck. I think that is why I only need a few good friends now. And perhaps why I love my blog friends so much. It is a safe place and in my neighborhood here, I rarely have run into a bully. Most show up as the kind of friends I wish I could have found in my elementary school days. And for a magical moment it is just you and me. When I read yours and you read mine.

vallonVallon Drive… Street I grew up on since Junior High…

Today, I wonder who I’d be if I’d always lived across the street from Terri, and we never moved. I wonder if my kids would be the same kids, or if I might have had a totally different life. All I know is that  I over think things. I scrutinize the whys and try to figure out what makes others tick. I know now that as a kid, when I’d feel as if I wanted to disappear, I really wanted to be found. Though, over the years,  where I used to care, I have learned to not trust that many people. I appreciate people who are honest, those who keep their word, are not judgmental and especially are not bullies. When I was younger, I used to wonder how the bullies would turn out. As an adult, I’ve realized that a lot of people just end up being mean adults. Though a few have surprised me and had the depth to change and we have become good friends. I think that knowing where people came from helps and I don’t think that I could ever not accept an apology.

Over the years, I’ve learned to embrace the adult perspective and move past my insecurities. And I am still a work in progress. An “I LOVE LUCY” episode comes to mind where Lucy thinks that everyone has forgotten her birthday, while in reality Ricky and her friends are waiting at a surprise party for her as she goes out and joins “Friends of The Friendless.” As adults we see the irony in the humor of LUCY. And I think I have grown from that little awkward NEW KID into embracing my friendships…

But…. If I do let you in, please don’t break anything.

broken-heart

SHOUTING to be heard


you-are-a-writer

My daughter gave me a book last Christmas that I have been reading and re-reading this past year, called; You Are A Writer (so start ACTING like one) by Jeff Goins. And something he said really resonated with me; He shared an example of how every Sunday for the past 150 years Londoners have assembled in a corner of  Hyde Park as a place to share their views on anything from politics and religion and everything else in-between. Standing on a stage where they’d get up to speak and shout their views into the crowd. He goes on to say that today the Internet is our Hyde Park and the stage belongs to everyone from artists to entrepreneurs and yes, writers. And how it is important to not have to shout above the crowd but make your own platform where your loyal readers know that they can find you week after week.

speakers-corner

Always loving a good  metaphor, he gave a perfect one that really  made me think! He shares about receiving a newspaper that he didn’t ask for that lands daily at the end of his driveway. It gets rained on and never read and always thrown away. though he realizes that the editors and writers probably put a lot of work in writing and editing and distributing it, he doesn’t care and didn’t ask for it. That made me think. A lot of us write our blogs hoping that it doesn’t land unwanted, on that reader’s driveway, that we have   earned a platform on their page and have an unspoken permission to show up on our followers doorstep when we do.

newspapers

I actually got up today, intending to post this, when I got caught up with my previous post that I just posted. It is different than a lot of my posts, but for some reason I wanted to write about it. Not that I usually expect someone to read two posts in a row. As I never would want to be just another annoying metaphorical rolled up newspaper that’s  ended up at  the end of one of my reader’s driveways. I feel that it is important to recognize that you really must earn the space that make people actually read. Like the Hyde Park gathering where the crowd hushes to listen. To feel heard is an amazing feeling but also an honor.

computer2

I have some pretty loyal readers, no matter if I even answer back, they are always faithfully there reading. Not even a lot of my family members  do that! LOL. I know that some still have the mentality that if I read theirs, they will read mine and if I get busy, I can tell it is a give and take with a lot of other writers. And I understand. I just can’t read everything I follow and only try to follow those I know that I will read.  And love the new writers that I am getting to know and look forward to their posts. Sometimes I will spend a day off wandering through posts that I have missed. I just know that I never want to feel that I have to shout to be heard and that  I’d rather be one of those  newspapers that my readers are waiting for and not one of those soggy old unwanted ones!

I See The Light!


I have recently realized that light is very important to me. I remember visiting my cousin in Seattle several years ago. It was funny, as kids I was always the leader. Being two years older, I decided the adventures and she was my little follower. My soldier of one, following my instructions. In this particular visit we were adults and somehow I feel that she took the lead. I was visiting her and her home.  I admire her so much for taking a life that didn’t start out with a lot of the things I took for granted and worked hard to create a pretty great life.

sad-lights

During that visit, she worked as a Marketing Executive at a trendy Company which she took me to tour. I was so impressed. When we got to her office I noticed that she had a light on her desk that she described as a SAD light for those that had a  light deficiency (Seasonal affective disorder) and went on to explain, that a lot of Seattle based people seemed to have. I laughed thinking that she was joking about the weather and she got a little miffed at me. “It is a very real thing!” She’d informed me. And you know what? I get it now.

lampToday as I sat down in my office, pre-dawn, I turned on the overhead light and then quickly turned it off and turned on a floor lamp. And I would rather have the entry way light off and a near by lamp on. And it made me think… maybe there is something to this light thing. I know that there is a certain time of day that I love. When the light hits just right.

dusky-sun

And lighting that just makes me uncomfortable. Weird? Maybe. And not really relative to a cloudy day.

light-bulb-light

But I am beginning to notice what makes me happy. As daylight Saving time approaches I am already noticing the mood changes around me and believe that those people in Seattle might have something.

rain-on-window

Some people can tell it’s going to rain by their knee hurting… sometimes it is another part of their body that hurts… cloudy-wisps

My Happy Project & A little Konmari!


happy

I promised to come back and report on my happiness project. I always hate to announce publicly any new resolutions I take on because I know people will be watching and yet I feel the need to put it out there to make myself accountable. I have really been trying to notice what makes me happy and trying to be less negative. Though this election makes it a little hard not to feel negative or a little scared. But not going there today!

I will say that I’ve realized that though I had a pretty good childhood and great parents and so on, I have kind of come from a negative family. A little judgmental and gossipy and jumping to seeing the negative. I’ve noticed it more and more in talking to certain people and I know it has rubbed off on me.

I will go for a visit and return with a little more evidence that my theory is not so “off.” And so the question is… can you really teach an old dog new tricks? (Me being the dog.) Can I break the cycle? Is it too late? I am determined to!

junkyard-dog

I have always given the benefit of the doubt to certain people in my life knowing that they came from a pretty horrible background or childhood. But it is different when it is more subtle and you realize in your fifties that there were some things pretty off. Even if you were loved and adored and cared for as a child, the messages we learn are a little like a frog sitting in a tepid pot of water as it eventually begins to boil.

frog-in-boiling-water

I am turning off the heat and jumping out! Just watch me! I am going to be aware of my negativity and stop it. It may take a lifetime. After all a half a century of learned behavior is cemented in there, but I have my chisel and I intend to carve out the happy in me! One chunk at a time!

My daughter has recently gotten into Konmari (Google it if you haven’t heard of it.) It is a way of organizing, asking if an item brings you joy, if it doesn’t you thank it and toss it. Lol. She admits that I had the same ideas when she was a kid cleaning her room. (Take all the trash first, and then the papers, books, clothes, toys, etc.) I didn’t think of the joy and thanking each item… in her room that would have taken a month! LOL. But I find it hilarious that she is into this AFTER she moved out!

messy-babybrookie-really-in-her-bed My baby… she does everything with a passion! (love the one sock off!)

But I love that she is and I am so proud of her! (She does EVERYTHING with a passion!) She inspired me! And after 20 huge yard sized bags, I have donated to our church’s rummage sale, I love my empty and organized closet! And have moved on to our garage with my husband. Spending my last day off clearing half of my side of the garage!

messy-closetpile-on-the-bedempty-closet clean-closetclean-bedbags

 messy closet,  pile on bed,  empty closet, clean closet, cleaned off bed,  bags to donate!

Why I’m sharing this is… metaphoric of course… in the physical sense it is freeing to let go. And in the spiritual sense it is mentally healthy to release that closet full of metaphoric junk I’ve piled high for all these years!

I urge everyone reading this to take each thing you are holding onto and look back in your life and remember where once it came and ask if it brings you joy and if it doesn’t… toss it onto the pile and let it go!

Wiping Away That Heart On My Sleeve


heart on a plaid shirt

I’ve been told I wear my heart on my sleeve. My what? Where?! Yikes! What’s it doing there?? I do. I know. I always have. I used to think that it was a good thing. I mean what you see is what you get. Right?

But seriously, as I get older, I am beginning to understand why that might not be the greatest idea anymore. Sometimes you have more power  when not everyone know what you are thinking and God forbid that you are so honest to let everyone know your feelings.

I heard someone say that they get up everyday and just decide to be happy. To find the joy in everything. Even the bad stuff. It kind of gets me excited to believe that is even possible. Heck, I can just at least try it. Okay sooo I will report back tomorrow and meet you here to tell you how it went!

Who Am I To Stand In The Way Of Anyone Else’s Grace?


woman typing

It really is easier

to make it all someone else’s fault.

To be so indignant and load the blame somewhere else.

To get lost in the anger and pain and to go back and forth

never quite figuring any of it out.

I just can’t understand  why it is so hard to just forget…

and get caught up in not knowing where to go with all these feelings.

I have filled my pages with words that sit in archives

not knowing where they belong.

Just storing them and forgetting that they are there

and then re-finding them again.

But when I started this thought and re-found it…

It just was too good to not finish it…

I have been told by someone I care about…

who is the source of a lot of my pain

 that they are falling back on God’s grace.

And I think…

I give up.

 I really need to just let go…

For who am I?

I mean really, who am I…

to stand in the way of anyone else’s  grace?

diane reed

2016©

That first Whiff


terri, scott and i                                I’m on the left, Scott is the one on the right

I think we all have them… that file of memories tucked somewhere inside of each of us that snaps us back like a rubber-band. That place when we smell or taste something familiar or hear a song that sends us back to a different time in our memories. I even have a time of day that hits me in a way that I just feel safe. As if someone has just told me that it is all going to be okay. For me it is around two PM.  That time of day must have been about the time when I’d wake up from my daily nap to my mom’s warm welcome back. A time before bills, a time when someone else took care of all my needs.

Whenever I taste chocolate milk, (BOSCO to be exact) I always think of my friend Scott who lived nextdoor. His mom would set up a little table under the tree in his front yard and make us peanut butter and honey sandwiches and chocolate milk. Such a decadent treat back in those simple days. I can still taste it. I remember walking into his kitchen,  and the scent of plums and peaches filling my head. His dad had a grocery store a few block away and every once and a while, I get a whiff of what that grocery store smelled like, and it snaps me back into those carefree wonderful days. It was a combination of the produce and deli departments and the memory of buying pixi stix for a penny each that still can prick my heart.

Bactine and Dippity Doo, Coppertone,  and the smell of tar and asphalt all have the same effect (The tar smell probably because there was a freeway close to our school that they always seemed to be working on. As a kid, I also loved the smell of a restaurant as you walked through the door. You know that first whiff. A combination of cigarettes and coffee. Every now and then I smell it but now that they don’t allow smoking in restaurants, that exact whiff is few and far between.

One of my favorite memories is falling asleep in the car as a kid. Watching the moon follow me home as I drift off and then feel my dad pick me up and carry me inside. As he unlocked the door and that first whiff of “HOME” would hit me. I can’t explain it, nor have I ever been able to duplicate it,  but I can still smell it in my head. And it was the BEST! I think it was a combination of a million things. But most of all, I think it was just  that it was that  time in my life when someone else was in charge of worrying about everything. Maybe there is a special scent for feeling carefree? If not, there should be!

How about you? What do you remember? What are some of your best  memory smells? You know, those first whiffs moments that you will never forget?

To Stop Fighting The Smile


 

my-buddies-and-the-twinsI’m the 2nd one from the left

Recently, my husband told me that he loves my smile and yet it looks as if I am always fighting against it, smiling that is. After trying to decide if that was a compliment or a creatively disguised dig, I decided to give him a pass and to really contemplate his words.

From as far back as I can remember, I think I have fought happiness. Just looking  back at the old black and white photos I have of myself as a kid,  I do tend to find more with a silly, half grin than a full on smile. And it makes me sad. Because I don’t think I ever allowed myself to fully experience joy from a very early age.

Lately, I have been on a quest to go back and get that kid and bring her home to the place that she belongs. With all of her disappointments and insecurities, I am not sure if I really want to. And yet I don’t think I have a choice nor can I ever really live in “me” until I do. Inviting this younger version of myself back into my life to really dig deep and explore some of the things I never have about myself is about as comfortable as inviting that obstinate step child who doesn’t want to be anywhere, least of all anywhere near you, to live with you!

As I look inside of myself, back, back, back, into a time in my life where there was joy and harmony, I find a kid with a grape juice stained mouth and a pile of books. I loved my grape juice and my books! I flash on sitting on the counter baking with my mom and can even still smell the glue as I remember watching my dad retile the tile in our bathroom. I remember rides in the car and the Drive in and picking berries on a summer day out in the woods in Washington. I remember feeding the ducks and moving to California and meeting my bestfriend who I have remained best friends with over the decades. And I smile.

But somewhere along the way, that kid got disappointed and things happened in her life that caused her to have a hard time trusting anyone let alone her self,  she felt hurt and misunderstood over and over and over again and re-visiting the parts of her pain  is not the easiest task at hand. Getting to know the younger version of yourself is about as comfortable as inviting that obstinate step child on a wonderful vacation. But we all need to go there. To interrupt our lives and explore the parts of us that never integrated into our adult self. If we don’t that kid will continually pop back into our life when we are least expecting them. They always seem to appear in the form of anger, or  fear or in the deepest part of our sorrow.

I have a feeling my childish self is not going to come or go quietly. She may even go kicking and screaming but I need to trust myself that it is going to be okay. It will be okay for her too. She is safe now, inside of the adult me. I have finally begun to trust myself and to quit relying on everyone else to make it better. To stop living in the past and finally take my own steps into the future. To trust myself and learn to love me and believe in me and KNOW that what I feel about me is enough. I am the boss of me. Well, of course God is the boss of me, but you know what I mean. I have been giving that power to everyone else in my life and I am taking it back from EVERYONE and only giving it to God and me! And I am empowered and the child in me calms and begins to relax in the knowledge that somebody else is in control now.

For so long, I have doubted everything about myself. My intelligence & abilities, my wisdom and even my morals and my own character and just when I fell into the darkest place of my life, that is when I began to see the light, as if lost in a cave, dark and damp, only to find the hope of a ray of light through the cracks. That is where I am now. I have found the light. I may not totally be out of the cave yet but I see the way out and I am going to beat the myth of being stuck in my child. Instead I am going to invite her to come into the light with me and find the joy. I am strong enough and smart enough and brave enough to guide her right to the light where she belongs.

I am going to stop fighting the smile. To believe  in the dream  that it really is okay to genuinely be happy and take new photographs and to smile really big.  And…“Say cheeeeese.” To let everyone know I am happy and that I don’t have to fight it any longer.

my-smile

Shampoo, Rinse, Repeat


 

shower-spraying

I can’t explain it but the older I get… the more I notice things. I need room in my head for mundane chatter. Whether it is my iPod as I walk or my mp3 when I drive, or the background noise of the TV, to put me to sleep. I am not sure what it is but I don’t like silence in my daily life.  It’s not that I need to be around a lot of people. (I am around people all day at work.)  Actually, I like being alone quite a lot, and enjoy my own company. It is more like the need to have my mind occupied so I don’t have a lot of time to be overwhelmed by my own thoughts of what I need to do or worry about things that I really have no control over. And I’m afraid, it is a little crazy making.

jogger-with-ipod

And yet, I have discovered why. I have so many thoughts in my head, I think that my head might burst, if I just settled down to re-live every memory or think every thought. My boss laughs at me sometimes, because we share an office and at times the filter gets jarred and I just ramble on about everything, to a point where I am sure she gets pretty dizzy. She has a smiling raised eyebrow look that is a gracious way of helping me realize I need to shut up! (And I am smiling as I write that.)  Maybe because our office is one of those quiet places that I have to stop and think,  which is a good thing, because in that case I can focus on my tasks at work and get more work done!

computer-screen-frustration

I guess besides my office, there are two places that I must have complete silence, one is my choice and one is because I have not invested in the technology that can get wet yet. The first one is at my computer, while I write. I can’t have background noise and in fact, it is the time that I utilize all that clutter in my brain to write about all those thoughts in my head!

The other place is in my shower. Maybe it is because it is the place where I have closed my eyes leaned back and stood beneath the same water, and had to be alone with all those thoughts. From the time I was nine or ten, I took showers and the ritual of washing my hair and planning my day and closing my eyes and shampooing, rinse and repeating  has always been the same. Day after day, year after day, My shampoos have changed along with my body, growing taller, growing up, pregnant, losing weight, gaining weight, tanned in the summer, white in the winter. Excited for the day, planning what came next, crying and praying, and even writing in my head sometimes. A place where I couldn’t get away from me. A place sometimes where God would find me and or I would find Him, where my mind could stop and really listen and where my heart could catch up.

lemon-go-lightly-shampooherbal-essence

 

My shampoos have changed over the years, my body has changed, my hair has changed. But when I am in that shower I still can find that ten-year old, or remember that 30-year-old. I think of best friends gone now, lovers lost, family passed and it is all overwhelming. I think of vacations planned for and just a memory now and feel the water as I close my eyes and plan my day and pray.

paul-mitchell-shampoo

Shampoo Rinse Repeat…

I stand in the shower remembering

like reading a journal backwards

Seems like I’ve stood beneath this same water

almost  a million days before

Shampoo, rinse repeat, and then condition

as I continued to plan my days

The warm water running over me

as I close my eyes and pray.

d reed

The Importance of This One Question in All of Our Lives


peaceful-forest

Recently, I have been on this journey of self discovery. I kind of wish that I’d done it a lot sooner. It is rather frustrating to have discovered this simple key that helps me understand others more and never took the time to  apply it to myself. I think I was just so busy with being busy that I’ve only just muddled through being aware of things when it comes to me.

But the one huge thing that I’ve discovered and has become crystal clear to me now, is…. how we all start out as kids. And the key for me has always been the word… HOW.

mirror-broken

I know when I am aware of someone’s difficult past, there is a degree of forgiveness and grace that I automatically allow. It is so automatic that I hardly even think of it any longer. But somehow I forgot to allow myself the same grace. And that has been a pretty big revelation as I wander back picking up the pieces where I left off as a kid and who I was and why I am who I am today.

I think that I think too much and it drives me nuts. It is funny how some of us are wound. I know that in my life, letting go of the excessive thoughts could have set me freer. Wondering what others were thinking, making up in my head what they were thinking…etc.  In my journey, I  realized that I set different expectations for people in my life. There are some, where I see their faults but overlook them for the sake of our relationship and can live happily that way. Others where I notice them, but if it doesn’t effect me in my head (and who decides that?!) I can co-exist on some level that is annoying but doesn’t blow my day away because I have learned to distance myself emotionally. And then there are those poor unfortunate souls that  don’t have any grace at all. I am constantly aware of every last sin and call them on each one. WHY?! Maybe because they matter to me. What they think of me, what I think of them. They are the ones that make a difference in my life.

I know that I want to care less about everything, in the way that it effects me negatively. Though I know that I will always over think some things, but  as I understand me more, it won’t matter as much. Like the guy who cuts you off in traffic or the rude clerk in a store, have nothing to do with “me” and more about who they are… If I could only give the people actually in my life the same grace, my brain could relax a little more.

I think the thing that really prompted me to go back on this journey is this question that really caught me off guard…..

And if I asked you to name all the things that you love, how long would it take for you to name yourself?

What about you? Hopefully you haven’t lived fifty years and just now realize the importance of the answer to this question.

mirror-old-and-young

 

 

Like A Boom-A-Rang


doorknob

I have been spending a lot of time in the archives of some of my favorite wordpress writers here. I have always found it funny when people have told me that they wish I would write more when I have over two years worth of posts in my first archives that I am sure that they haven’t seen or for that matter, no one has ever seen.

When I began this blog, my daughter had just left for school and though I hadn’t been a stay at home mom for years, and had a full life with a full time job, the hole I felt was deeper than I’d ever expected and so in working around my feelings, I found a blog called Empty Nesters that really helped me not feel so alone, where other people talked about their feelings too and it really helped. As an all my life writer wanna-be, I took the plunge and after starting a few different blogs, found wordpress and settled down here. Writing mainly for me. Never expecting anyone else to read my silly ramblings.

book store

 

Now over 2000 followers later, I feel blessed to have settled down in my little blog neighborhood with people who I actually consider my friends. It is hard to keep up with everyone. But it is fun to go back in their archives and read their earlier posts. It made me wander back into my own before anyone ever read any of them… Mostly before 2012. It is like going back and opening up an old door. And it is funny because I find the words I wrote so long ago a little useful to me. I used to say if I could help just one person by sharing my story than that was enough. Never imagining that the one person that needed my advice would be me.

writing signature

Maybe we need to backtrack and from time to time go back into our own posts and find some good advice. You know what they say, sometimes, all you have to do is look in your own backyard for what you are looking for!

Try it. If you are looking for some answers in your life today, go back and look through some of your old journals or posts and see if you might find something helpful there. You might find that you have grown a little wiser since writing. But you may also find that you actually can learn something from yourself all those years ago.

Too funny…. Like a boom-a-rang I have to swallow my own words.

reading on the floorPerhaps we are smarter than we give ourselves credit for and we need to find the answers in our own lessons learned.     d.reed

The Best Things In Life Are Not Things


 

bracelet.

My Grandma B was my dad’s mom. It is funny how there is always a grandma who is a little closer than the other. Grandma B wasn’t it. Though I loved her and I know she loved me. I was the first grandchild so for a while I was pretty much it for everyone. But slowly the other kids came and my Grandma Nina-Mae was the one that was my soft place to fall for most of my life. I was born on her birthday, I was her first grandchild and up until she got really sick, we had a very special bond.

My Grandma B was closest to her daughter’s kids. So it surprised me that shortly after I’d had my daughter I received a funny little note. It came with some old pearls in a special clasped box and a few baby pictures of my dad who had died a few years earlier. The note said: Your dad bought these for me when he was over seas in the Air force. I thought you might like them. They may be worth something since he bought them for me in Korea.  It was a funny note. She didn’t end it “Love Grandma” she just ended it. About a month later, she died talking to her best friend on the phone. She had a brain aneurism.

I didn’t care how much they were worth. They meant more to me than I could ever say because of the random way my grandma had given them to me right before she died. Maybe she had a premonition. I am not sure. But it wasn’t so much the pearls, it was that she’d thought of me.

While she was still a little girl, I decided to give them to my daughter on her wedding day.  I knew in my heart that they would be hers someday. And always planned the giving to be special. I actually gave them to her at a special gathering of her brides’ maids at a sweet little brunch  she put on for those involved. My best friend and I were also invited to it and I thought that it might be the perfect place to gift her with the pearls so that she could decide if she wanted to wear them or if she needed to match a dress to them. She cried and it was a sweet moment. Just as I’d imagined it would be.

When trying to decide if they actually “worked” with the dress, her photographer suggested that she wear them on her wrist instead of around her neck, I have tried to be the kind of mom that sets my kids free and  not to barge in with my  own agenda or what is in my  head or in this case heart. But I have to admit that I was a little disappointed and annoyed with her photographer…. especially when during a dance they broke all over the dance floor, scattering pearls everywhere!!

I think my heart lurched a little, and of course, my daughter was devastated.  But what actually blew me away was how all the groom’s men got down on their hands and knees and deposited 4 pearls, and 7 pearls and 5 pearls and 4 pearls and 8 pearls… into my daughter’s hand. It was the sweetest thing I ever experienced. Sure the string of pearls seemed so important at first. After all my daddy gave them to my grandma….  But over the years I have had to remember….                                                                                                    That the best things in life aren’t things.                                                                            

And that it is those sweet unexpected moments where these grown up boys got down on their hands and knees to rescue my baby’s pearls. I knew without a doubt that these friends her husband had chosen to stand up there with him as he married my daughter represented what I’d always wished for, for her and that the best things in life are definitely not things!

marquee

I am in charge of the Marquee at my work; Today’s saying

Looking Forward


plane in clouds

I have come to the conclusion that I will always need something to look forward to. I was born in Seattle and four years later, my dad was transferred to California, and then Colorado, Missouri and Illinois and then back to California where I grew up in a place called  Palos Verdes. When we moved, my dad promised my mom to always send us “home”. He kept his promise, no matter where we were, every summer, without fail,  we would pack our bags and fly to Seattle. So no matter what, I knew that every summer I had something pretty big to look forward to.

I think that I zeroed in on this particular discovery after my daughter’s wedding. I was so focused on the planning and whatever part I played in the tasks I was given, I didn’t have a lot of time to go to that corner of my mind that is clouded with those things that bring me down. When I was a young mom, I did art shows. I created all year-long and knew that almost half a dozen times a year, I had a place to go. I was a part of a creative group of people who added to my life in ways that I am only just now recognizing.

I have been back in the corporate workforce for over a decade now. (Working for someone else.) My husband has turned my art studio into his office and our indoor office into a guest room slash office that was supposed to be where I was going to write.

Not really the place I had in mind inside my head. But I am there now, writing this. The plan was that I would work part-time and start writing my book. I did write my book. But as I have read and learned, I see the flaws and mistakes in it, and well, at least I have the bones. I know the story. I just need to rewrite it. Easier said then done.

blue house

When I was first married, before kids, I had  the sweetest landlord, Mr. Allen, that was working on the house in front of our apartment. It was an amazing craftsman’s style home and I think that he saw that I loved it as much as he did. Everyday, he would take me on a tour to show me all of the things he’d fixed or installed the day before. Good ole’ Mr. Allen, we were buddies.

We had a little agreement that someday, I would move in there. We even shook on it. But I remember talking to my friend who lived next-door and us agreeing that if he ever finished it, he would probably die. His daughter had a friend that wanted to move in there and so she stepped in and thought she was helping her dad by hiring a carpenter to finish it and sure enough shortly later, he died. I have no doubt that we all have the need to contribute and create and when that seizes, we all seem to falter.

I am not sure if I have a great or profound message here. I guess I just needed to write this out for me. To give myself a kick in the butt so to speak and understand that I am the only one who is in charge here. Regarding my health, both mentally and physically. I can’t wait for anyone to do it for me.  I also know that I am a creative person and I need to create again and look forward to something.

I have not shared my; What I Know For Sure-isms…. for a while so here are a few for those sitting on the edge of your seats waiting for more! (JUST kidding!!!)

  • I must always try to keep myself busy enough so that I don’t pause long enough to allow my mind to wander too far away.
  • Only I can create the version of myself that I want others to see.
  • Success starts when you  believe in yourself.
  • Your own opinion of yourself is what matters first.
  • Telling people your plans does not work as well as showing them.
  • I am my only limit…. people have achieved much more with less.
  • The past is a place of reference, not a place that I need to reside ever again.
  • Sometimes what consumes your mind, can control your life.
  • I can live my life with people but no one can live my life for me.
  • I want to live my life in such a way that someday someone says to me:                        “Because of you I didn’t give up.”

 

 

You Have A Memory On Facebook


I wrote this several years ago when I was going through something that hit me like a Mack Truck. My first husband had recently died and my nest was empty. I was in the process of re-inventing myself and a Friend Request on Facebook literally rocked my world. For almost a year I took a powder. Pouf and I didn’t even know who I was. Once I’d been loyal and honest and felt that I had a decent amount of integrity. And the next, I was falling down a rabbit hole that didn’t have a rope.

Through a lot of work I found my way back but I am not proud of who I became for a while. The Friend request was from someone who’d destroyed my confidence when I was a teenager. The relationship was subtly abusive and hard to describe other than that of a frog sitting in tepid water, who finds himself smack in a pot of boiling water. The getting out and getting over it and the memories almost did me in.

Today I read… YOU HAVE MEMORIES ON FACEBOOK…. It was the post below. I’d written it before too many followed my blog. It was safe. We were all strangers. I am writing a book about my journey. Of abuse, of reconnection, of second chances to say everything you ever wanted to… Like I said, I am not proud of my choices but I don’t regret them because they made me who I am today. Someone who appreciates today and has stopped looking back.

The Post was titled;

YOU CAN’T LOSE SOMETHING YOU NEVER HAD

You remind me of the ocean, the smell of the waves, the scent of summer, of heartache, of endings… of beginnings… of engagements and breaking up, of learning for the first time how to put aside dreams and learn how to survive the pain of heartbreak, you gave me my very first broken heart, you remind me of a never ending love that has weaved it’s way through the decades that have passed, the place in my heart that still hurts if you touch it, you are the reflection of my youth and my hopes and sorrows.

You taught me how to love and were the keeper of my tears. You challenged me and you suffocated me. You believed in me, maybe more than anyone ever has and yet you smothered me, snuffed out all the confidence in me. I sailed boats with you and flew planes!  I mean “I” actually FLEW a plane without an engine because of you! When you believed in me. I believed in me! I discovered that I could do things that I never would have thought of doing, if it had not been for you. Oh how you took me to the top of the world and then, oh but then… you dropped me and oh how I crashed. And even today, I’m not sure that I ever recovered. Maybe that is why I let you back in, to go back and get pieces of me.
You loved me and you hurt me over and over again, you left me found me over a lifetime of hellos and goodbyes, I loved you and I hated you, and yet I forgave you , fantasy and reality cloud into one, I see so clearly and am blinded at the same time, I understand because I know your pain and yet I can’t overlook my own, I give up everything for you and  escape with my life, I never look back and remember it all, I am safe when I am falling, I am silent when I am calling, I lose my soul and find it again, i pray for forgiveness, I believe and I doubt, I fail and I succeed, I dream and then I look back and remember, I laugh and I cry all in the same breath, I dance in my head and ache in my heart, I grasp at my youth and cling to my wisdom, I crumble where I am and gather the lessons I have learned, I turn around and find you, I let go over and over again, I sing from the mountain tops inside the silence of my imagination, my heart is stopped, I thought that I could change things, somehow fit you in to that place you left so long ago and yet the space has been filled, maybe not perfectly but slowly, I think that as I fill it with new dreams around the healing wounds, I might still have a chance at surviving this whole crazy place that I have found myself in, I take a breath as  I fall on my face and pray for strength to stop the madness.. and feel my heart begin beating again. And finally realize that …..

Someday I want my book that I am ripping apart once again, to give hope to the broken hearted and strength to those that haven’t even reckoned with their own strength yet!

Letting It Go


frustrated on computer

As I was waiting for my AOL to kick in, I had to restart it twice. Sometimes I just stop it  mid way of signing on because I know it is not going to do what I need it to do. I reboot it and wahlah it pops on! Such is life… Sometimes I feel like AOL. It takes me a few times, but then I finally “GET’ it!

All of my life, I’ve had certain instances where I know that I have missed a life lesson that I was supposed to get, or at least one that wasn’t supposed to take me so long to grasp, it was so obvious. Recently I have experienced being consumed by my own anger in regard to a wrong doing. Though I am not saying that I was wrong about what had happened. I am saying that sometimes I get so stuck in the negative, that I’ve convinced myself that it feels good down there in the muck and the anger.

sad girl on stairs

Forgiveness just feels much better than anger or harboring ill will or a grudge. And true forgiveness does not need a recount of all the wrongs or even a discussion about what happened. All you need to do is let it go!

girl being free

The times that I have wasted being offended or angry about something and the release I have felt after forgiving that same offender has been epic. In fact, I have realized that I have more room in my heart for them, sometimes in a much more profound way than others who have not hurt me. Perhaps, because that new love is a gift straight from God and the lesson He has given us over and over in so many examples in His Word.

It is a lesson that I have mostly fought and yet one that impacts me greatly each time, I let go and allow Him to take over. And it blows me away each time, how truly amazing it is that I can’t just go straight to that place rather than fighting it the whole way. Though I think that I have finally mastered the concept. Putting it into practice is still a work in progress.

My first example that I can remember was a childhood friend of my first husband’s though both are gone from this world now, I let my hate for this man consume me. In the end, (to not get too lost into an entirely different story) he became gravely ill, I ended up giving him a Bible, that I had another friend take to him… she told me that he cried, in a split second, I was over it, visited him the next day and we cried in each other’s arms. He survived that illness.  And a supernatural kind of healing took place that day and we had an amazing friendship after that.

hugging crying man1

Whether it was a misunderstanding with a friend, a neighbor, a co-worker, I have come to terms with the fact that the magic is just in “letting go” not retracing the  words or steps that brought you to this place. (I kind of tend to waste a lot of time obsessing on the wrongs.) But regardless of the gossip or the facts that led you to the negative place, whether it is an actual apology or just a genuine hug. The act of letting go is a little like running around and gathering up all the poison and throwing it away before it harms anyone further. It is only wishing the other person well, and really caring about them so much, that where you literally felt hate just a second prior, it is replaced by a magical kind of love. For, it is in that split second act of forgiveness that you will literally experience the quickest “miracle” that you have ever experienced.

triumphant

       Proverbs 10:12 Proverbs 15:1  Proverbs 15:18 Proverbs 19:11                                                            Matthew 18: 21-22 Hebrews 10:17

You Should Have Been There


ceremony site

We are told that life does not come with an instruction book. “It is what it is.” Terri, my bff who died last summer, said that a lot her last year. I didn’t have time to stop. Or no, let me rephrase that, I wouldn’t let myself stop and linger too long in the places where I might miss someone not there the weekend of the wedding. Someone, that should have been.

During the course of the planning, deciding who would sit where, & who would walk who, and what side was which, the reality of who was missing  came in a wave and I let it pass. And then, just walking around the bales of hay, alone after the rehearsal, the night before the wedding… as dusk was falling, and I was caught up in a moment away from the  happy chatter … another wave… But I wouldn’t let it hit me.  To really think about the people missing, the ones who should have been there. Because if I’d let myself I would have come undone. And this wasn’t about me. And I know they each would say, it wasn’t about them either.

My dad. Terri, Lucy, Randy… my grandma…. all gaping holes. All there in spirit I know. My mantra to avoid the pain, to grasp that it really  is what it is… was: just breathe. Sometimes to stop and feel would just be too excruciating. Though I knew you were here. I felt you all. The reason I won’t go visit graves. you are not there. You are in the joy and the love, in the moments that have led to now… but as I look around I still think… It is what it is… And yet…

Yes, You should have been there.

Ceremony day prepping the site

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens:  Ecclesiastes 3:1

Maybe there is an instruction book after all. Yes. I know there is.

Part Two – From the Mother of the Bride’s Perspective


This is “it” I promise…

I will try to keep this short. Though my blog is usually about my life and my reflections of it… this is more of a personal gratitude account for all the people that came through for the last year or so and more recently the biggest event that has happened in a while. My baby’s wedding! This is part two! I will try to get it all in… in one more post.

 (Now continued after Danielle – Part One

Wedding dress shoppingrachelrachel2Continuing with Rachel (The Maid of Honor)

I knew that when Rachel came along that she would be Brooke’s “Jody”. Fun and caring and honest and real. With Danielle, the two of them planned one of the rocking-est bachelorette parties I have ever heard of. Rachel was there from the beginning. From trying on the first wedding dresses to helping set up many of the events, she has been there through it all! I have never felt such sister love! They truly care about each other in the most honest kind of way. So happy they have each other forever!bridesmaidsThe Brides Maids…

makeupBrooke has a new sis! And her name IS also Brooke! And she is an amazing addition to my Brooke’s life! She gifted her the make up for the rehearsal pics & the wedding day! And also assisted some of the brides maids! I was so touched as she worked effortlessly and created flawless beauty! We are all blessed in this combining family thing! We all get along! And love each other!

shower fun

Karyn is the one on the right by the door… I claim her! When we were sitting waiting for our financial meetings  at AADA we started talking cuz their last names were next to each other, by the end, I kind of jokingly and kind of seriously, asked her if she would watch over my baby since she’d been in LA a few weeks longer than Brooke and had the most nurturing old soul type of personality in someone so young! Well, she obviously took that job seriously because she is in her wedding almost a decade later! Can I pick em or what?!

Kimmy (of the three in the middle of the pic above) is the one on the left. I’d been hearing such sweet stories about Kimmy for a few years. I knew she was special but had not met her until at the brunch Brooke threw  as a pre- thank you for her bridal party and invited Jody and I! And she did not disappoint. Love her!

Anne (in the middle of Kimmy & Karyn) is a newer friend to me. But also one that I’ve heard so many great stories about –  so that she has also been cemented into my mother’s heart as special friends that make my baby happy!

They all were amazing throughout the process, sitting on the floor at the coffee table gluing and cutting invitations and showing up to all the events. I was impressed with her girls. They all came through with loyal and undying love! They were truly the best bridesmaids in the world! From designing the wedding dress, to running back to town from the cabin to pick up the Rehearsal dinner soup! To setting up tables and chairs and doing dishes. These girls were the BEST!

lars

Lars was the Coordinator, setting up and taking down, it was soooo amazing to have him and Steph as a very amazing presence steph dj               (Am I saying that word too much?) Not sure how else to describe it! Cuzzzz Steph was one of the best and most amazing DJ’s around! I don’t think any of us expected such a professional job! They worked tirelessly through out the event. Hardly stopping! And the groom’s men were also great! Unloading the hay and tables and chairs and helping where ever they could! Amazing ~ friends and family all made such an epic team!

ChrisChris was awesome. Tirelessly catching every moment.                                                       Starting on Friday to the Father of the Daughter Dance the next night. He worked so hard catching the magic and it did not go unnoticed! And Kevin, Oh my. Brooke and Chase sure had some of the most talented people in the industry at this special event! What an accumulation of magic!

kevinKevin singing the First Dance song

And Jared. What can I say? He and Danielle went and picked up and hauled the tables and chairs and bales of hay to and from the site. I love this guy! And I might mention he is one of the greatest dads I know!

jaredceremony site

And Chadly! I’ve never been so proud!! He drove back and forth everyday and showed up looking so handsome with his amazing family! To walk me down the aisle and be there for his sister. He even helped me cook the next day brunch! (And was the muscles behind getting Jim up from the hay seat, a few times!) I love him to the moon and back!

Chad and SophieChad walking me down the aisleflower girls                                    And Amanda. “LOVE her!” Thank Goodness she was there to walk the flower girls down the aisle!

mod_1467043719216And Grandpa! What can I say? We almost lost him a few years ago. He was the perfect choice to officiate! You would have thought that this was his millionth wedding! So eloquent and amazing. Every word was blessed!

 

darwinsFather of the Groom and newest addition to the family besides Brooke!                                                              A few of the  Darwins…..          &…       This little guy… the newest addition to the family!                                             Can you say love?

And Chase’s family! Where do I start? His parents could not have been more amazing. Rolling up their sleeves and helping make everything perfect.

Setting up and cleaning and welcoming us into their family! Tate, Chase’s brother and Arlene his mom, and I especially bonded as they created the most amazing slideshow of Brooke & Chase! I learned a lot about technology and Tate was ever so patient as I fumbled along, trying to contribute all the photos  from Brookie’s life this far! (Unfortunately I don’t have more photos that I have permission to share here… but they are amazing!)

dar 2Brookie's Grandma and MamaMy mother in law and me! Isn’t she beautiful? And an amazing Grandma! Generous and kind and the Matriarch of our family! I love her! And so does Brookie!

JasmineJasmine showing us how to take a picture! Taking pics of my oldest granddaughter Jasmine… When she said…. “Here, Grandma I will show you how to take a picture!” Jody and me and Jas! Lots of loving!

And for all you praying for Jim and his bum knee! I saved the best for last! He was able to walk his baby down the aisle! He gave the most amazing speech and even danced the Father Daughter Dance!

walking our baby down the aisleJim and Brookie baby

She may have been holding him up this time around…

father daughter dance4

You will have to wait for the ceremony…..( I didn’t take any of that in honor of their wishes) I am letting them post those when they get them from their professional photographer. But that’s it for now…  Thank you to all my readers for letting me share here! And thank you to everyone who drove to this destination. That alone was a labor of love!

k and sKeith and Sarah…. Family love!

pinning on the groom's boutineereAnd now I just close by saying May God Bless this couple for many years with lots of love and health and happiness and great success! And together may they make a difference in this world and… live happily ever after!

The end…

(or until the next photo opportunity! :p )

bridal bouquet