“There is something infantile
in the presumption that somebody else
has a responsibility to give your life meaning and point…
The truly adult view, by contrast,
is that our life is as meaningful, as full and as wonderful
as we choose to make it.” ― Richard Dawkins,
From Elements of Your Life on Facebook
My word for the year is breathe. My word for September and October is choices.
Everything I do is a choice. Owning my choices is a sign of being a grown-up. I’m not always a great grown-up. Some days, I would rather shift blame than face myself. That’s a choice too, though not a productive one. We don’t have to grow up. We can choose to blame our past, blame others or circumstances and stay stuck as a victim OR.. we can find freedom. That too is a choice.
Some choices I’ve made this month.
- Remembering not to do something permanently stupid because I’m temporarily upset. (I have a temper, I need to staple this one to my forehead)
- Being happy no matter what mood someone else is in.
- Not letting people lie to me.
- Allowing people in my life who tell me the truth, even if it hurts my feelings.
- Being real and honest with my mentor.
- Investing in my career and buying my own banjo stand and taking lessons instead of going to the State Fair.
- Facing my feelings and not wasting anymore time playing Facebook games and other things just to zone out.
- Increasing my practice time from 30 minutes a day to at least an hour if not two.
- Moving for an hour a day.
- Eating what my nutritionist tells me to eat so that the pain in my stomach doesn’t return rather than turn to comfort food and old habits which does cause pain.*
- Performing Stand Up twice a month at open mics.
- Listening to God when he tells me NO! I’m at the point in my walk where his expectations of how I live my life are crystal clear. I’ve learned how to walk, it’s my responsibility to walk in what I’ve learned.
I’ve made some private choices as well and rather than discuss those, I’ll simply carry them out. Every day is a choice. We can choose to stay stuck, or we can choose to grow and move forward. What choices are you making today?
*Old habits that cause pain – sounds like a great blog topic for later this week.
Me: My oldest just left for college and it’s killing me. I don’t know what I’m going to do when my youngest leaves.
Her: Oh honey, you’ll do just fine. I’ll never forget the day my youngest moved out.
Me: What did you do?
Her: I came home from work, parked my car in the garage, took off my clothes, opened a beer and sat on the couch buck naked, because I could.
Me: What did your husband do?
Her: Grabbed himself a beer and helped me break in the couch.
I sat there and stared at this women who is ten years my senior, in utter shock and frankly envious admiration.
I hear about marriages going south after the kids leave more than I do about getting to know each other again.
“According to data from the National Center for Health Statistics, the overall divorce rate declined by 1.4 percent between 1981 and 1991, the Arps said in their book, The Second Half of Marriage: Facing the Eight Challenges of the Empty-Nest Years. However, during those same years, the divorce rate grew 16% for couples married 30 years or more.” – citation Marriage Missions International
I’ll be honest you guys, I don’t want to be a statistic. I don’t have all of the answers. I may very well wake up single one day and if I do it won’t be without a fight. I believe some things are worth fighting for, marriage especially.
Our youngest has chosen to live at home and attend Jr College rather than move away so unless I want to pay for therapy on top of college tuition, breaking in the couch might not be an option just yet. I do, however, think it’s possible to learn how to date again.
I know all marriage seminars and books tell you to date while you still have kids. Seriously? Who has the time? Or the energy. My husband traveled almost constantly through out our marriage. He could have pursued music and chose to keep his corporate job instead. That was a huge sacrifice. He did so in order to provide a living and a home for us. I’m immensely grateful for that. While I regret greatly that we didn’t date like they tell you to in those marriage advice things, it is possible to re-learn how to connect. While we were raising kids, because he traveled, I made sure I took time out for myself when I could and I focused on exclusively female friendships.
I say exclusively and I mean it. No men. My reason for that was simple. Being home alone with children all day for days at a time can be lonely. So lonely in fact that the smelly homeless guy who smiles at me can start to look attractive. Every parenting book I ever read warned about that and they were right.
Can I be totally honest with you? I cannot begin to tell you the number of creepy guys who went out of their way to make sure I knew they were there for me if I needed them. Not nice guys, I’m talking the sidled up alongside me, give me a sideways hug so they could cop a feel rejects. Jeff used to like watching me untangle from these guys and run straight to him. Sorry if I seem blunt, but that happens to both men and women.
I will openly admit, refusing to allow men into my life while I was raising our kids might not have been the best tactic. I may have missed out on more than just learning how to set appropriate boundaries with them. (Something I do struggle with at 46.) and I may have missed out on some great growth opportunities so please don’t send me letters about how y’all had male and female friends and it never interfered with your marriage – if you did that’s great. I personally chose not to that’s all. For better or for worse, I can’t change that. The male friends I do have are friends we have together and they are great friends.
There you have it, two confessions, I don’t know how to be friends with men and I didn’t do a great job dating my husband while we were raising kids. We were busy and we were tired. We also knew that the day was coming when we’d wake up and think, “Who are you and what are you doing in my bed?” and so we started planning.
My plan was to sell our house in the suburbs, move to mid-town and go to concerts and such in River Parks like we did when we were dating in Chicago and I wanted to travel the world.
His plan was to buy a bigger boat and fish more.
We neither live in midtown nor own a big boat.
We needed to learn how to compromise.
Sometimes we do things he likes, like fishing or golf, and sometimes we do things I like such as concerts, or plays. One of the things I love best about our marriage is we make each other laugh and we put each other first.
Most of the time it works out. In June we saw Barry Manilow and he didn’t die and in July we saw James Taylor which was amazingly awesome. I’ve even started watching him play again on Saturday nights, something I gave up when the boys were in high school because I was just too busy. And he comes to watch me when I perform comedy. We support each others dreams.
Which brings me to a crucial point, developing myself as a woman so that I have something more substantial to lean upon than just his arm if you know what I mean is very important during this season of my life otherwise I run the risk of running away to find myself. Well that and boring him to tears. So I took up banjo, started riding a bike, and started comedy and acting. I’m becoming informed about politics, and music and world affairs. I became a Democrat which didn’t thrill him, but it does interest him. It’s a lot easier to date a man – or a woman for that matter – when you know who you are and can bring something to the table, otherwise the burden in on one person and nobody likes that.
Jeff and I will be celebrating 22 years of marriage this Saturday. Parts of it have been wonderful and parts of it have been hard. I come from a divorced family, full of fear and baggage as do a lot of people. We’ve had to work through our stuff together. I love hearing the compliments of how people perceive us, and yet I’m afraid we do at times give the wrong impression. Yes, we are happily married. Is it always happy? No. Sometimes it’s work. I need you to understand that – behind every happy marriage is a ton of work.
Don’t get me wrong, I adore this man however staying married is the hardest thing either of us have ever done in our lives. I don’t want to mislead anybody. In today’s age when people bail at the first sign of trouble we didn’t. We have a very real marriage. There are days where we drive each other to absolute distraction and there are days when we click on all six cylinders and we stick it out and we fight for each other. We think it’s worth it. While we do not have the money for a big celebration this month due to college bills, we’ll find something. And it will be fun.
So married readers: Do you date your spouse? Would you like to share your dating secrets with us?
I’m a redhead again. My year of hair repentance is over. (Some of you may remember the great blonde fiasco of 2011). There is much rejoicing in my house as I got the green light to cut my hair and go back to my truest self. I cannot tell you how much I missed my hair. Learning patience is not an easy journey.
Raised an only child by a single mother who worked two jobs when she needed in order to make ends meet, I had to learn how to wait for things.
Today I live in a world where I no longer have to worry about what I’m going to eat, if I’m going to eat, and where I get to live. Lulled by a false sense of security, I’ve forgotten how to wait.
I am safe.
I am in many ways, the exception rather than the rule.
I am impatient and a perfectionist.
In this season of my life, I catch myself wanting it now instead of later and get impatient with the journey.
I still wait for the day when I can finally say “I’ve arrived.” only I read in Fully Alive that arriving is death. Once I arrive it means I’m out of things to learn and mountains to climb. Arriving means I get to relax. I’m ADD, if I relax I’ll get bored. When I get bored, I forget who I am and make stupid choices.
It’s the valleys of life that teach me compassion and it’s the mountains I conquer that teach me bravery. Without those two crucial things in my life, my spirit withers. I lose touch with who I am created to be and I lose touch with others.
I want to race through the valley, and be on the mountain top already. I forget that the journey is the life. Whether I’m in a valley, climbing a hill on my bike, or standing on top of the mountain, I’m breathing. I’m alive.
I used to dream of the day when I would no longer be neurotic until I realized it’s that place of living in the raw, stuck between the shitty first draft (As Anne Lamott would call it) and the clean up that gives breadth, depth and meaning to all of my relationships and experiences. It’s here in the middle where the oxygen is most abundant and I am at my most truest self. It is here where I am free.
Living in the middle means I get to be bad at something until I become good at it.
Living in the middle means I get to feel pain, know hunger, and suffering on occasion and learn that this too shall pass.
Living in the middle lets my eyes scan the horizon for the next goal, and the next opportunity to push myself beyond my perceived limitations and experience the joy of real accomplishment.
Jeff and I took a new path while riding bikes yesterday. This one has more hills than flat lands and I wasn’t prepared. I wound up walking the first hill and dug down into myself for the rest. I decided that I could stop and catch my breath if needed but I was not coming off my bike again no matter what. I knew that hill was waiting for me on the return trip. I knew I was going to have to dig in if I wanted to climb it.
I watched my pace and kept close to his. I shifted gears, pushed through the pain and refused to stop. I made it to where he was waiting and then…
…………………………………………………………………I threw up.
I am living in the middle of the consequences of throwing a temper tantrum and gaining 50 pounds hoping to assure that I’d never get hit on again. I’m living in the middle of learning boundaries, facing fears and finding myself. Sometimes living in the middle means doing the right thing even if it means I have to throw up afterwards. (Fellow scardy cats will understand that one)
Living in the middle is messy. It means I don’t get to have all the answers. It means I get to make mistakes and be imperfect. It means I get to try again until I get it right.
I don’t know what middle you are living in right now. Maybe it’s the middle of a storm, the middle age of life, the middle of a climb or the middle of a descent and you keep waiting for the day when you can finally say “I’ve arrived.”
Don’t settle for arriving. Don’t waste time wishing you were there, when you could be living in the here and in the now.
Strive to live.
Throw up if you have to.
Believe in yourself.
Have you ever been so blown away by God that all you could do was ponder? If I were to sum up my feelings and my heart over the past week, that would be it. I’m treasuring all that I have seen and pondering those things in my heart right now.
Now there is a word you don’t hear much, PONDER. What does ponder mean?
According to the Merriam/Webster Dictionary
Luke 2113 And so you will bear testimony to me. 14 But make up your mind not to worry beforehand how you will defend yourselves. 15 For I will give you words and wisdom that none of your adversaries will be able to resist or contradict. 16 You will be betrayed even by parents, brothers and sisters, relatives and friends, and they will put some of you to death. 17 Everyone will hate you because of me. 18 But not a hair of your head will perish. 19 Stand firm, and you will win life.
Oh yah, no control issues here. Eye rolling is allowed.
I may “waller in defeat” from time to time, as my friend Tonya would say, but I don’t stay there.
Nobody, I don’t care who they are, or how famous and together we might think they are, leads a charmed life.
Everyone has problems.
Everyone has choices.
That’s why I like the Full Circle link so much. Here’s a guy, who hit rock bottom 19 years ago doing a benefit ride for the very place he got sober. I think that’s cool. I think that takes courage.
What does courage look like to you?
- Is it public speaking?
- Saying no when you really need to even if it means disappointing someone?
- Or is it risking feeling selfish and realizing that the greatest gift we can give this world is to be the best us we can be?
One of my favorite devotional pages says :
March 26 in The Little Blue Book ONE DAY at a TIME in AL-ANON:
Why is it so hard to admit we are powerless over alcohol, as the First Step suggests we do? All of us have heard and shared in discussions at Al-Anon meetings as to whether this should be interpreted as “alcohol” or the “alcoholic.” We have no power over either one. No one can control the insidious effect of alcohol or its power to destroy the graces and decencies of life. No one can control the alcoholic’s compulsion to drink. But we do have a power, derived from God, and that is the power to change our own lives. Acceptance does not mean submission to a degrading situation. It means accepting the fact of a situation and then deciding what we will do about it.
Progress begins when we stop trying to control the uncontrollable and when we go on to correct what we have the right to change. If we accept a situation full of misery and uncertainty, it is no one’s fault but our own. We can do something about it!
“Fighting futility is just a waste of energy, Samantha. Either do something or quit fretting.” – Celebra Tueli
While this particular page refers to alcoholism and alcoholics it can be about so much more. It hurts watching people we love destroy their lives. What causes even greater pain is putting our lives on hold while we wait for everyone else to get it together.
It has taken me a long time to really believe that I am powerless over people, places, and things, meaning I cannot control people or make their choices for them. I cannot control how people see me, or whether or not they like me. Nor can I control the weather, or disease/disabilities. Shoot, I struggle with controlling myself, thinking I can control others is pure ego.
All I have is the power to make the best choices for me.
That’s really where courage begins. Finding the power to make the best choices for ourselves regardless of the choices our loved ones make. This includes our spouses, siblings, friends, and dare I say it adult children.
I’m a firm believer that the power to change can only come from believing in a God that’s bigger than me. For some of us, finding that God takes courage.
My wish today for you and for myself is that we stop right where we are at and know beyond knowing that we can make better choices today than the ones we made yesterday — and then go do it.
Maybe for some of us, that choice is simply the acceptance of knowing the we are loved beyond measure no matter what and acting on that belief.
What choices are you making today?