Thursday, December 29, 2011

In the year 2012

Well, here we are again, on the brink of yet another "New Year". And yet, this one is supposed to be "special" and has everyone all a-flutter with predictions and anticipation. Being the avid reader I am, I have read a lot of speculations about what, if anything, will happen on Dec. 21st, 2012 so there is enough interest there to be at least a bit of a curiosity. But that's about as far as it goes. Whatever does or doesn't happen is certainly beyond my control, so there isn't much sense in worrying about it, in my opinion.

But in the spirit of 2012 being special, I think I'll set some goals for myself. I usually don't do "New Year's Resolutions" because I generally know when I'm lying to myself. So instead, I'm going to call these my "New Year's pie-in-the-sky wishful thinking thoughts.....

I'm going to pretend that despite all evidence to the contrary...God will allow me to leave the area and make a fresh start somewhere new.....preferably with mountains.

I'm going to fantasize that wherever I end up...there will be room for a workshop separate from my livingroom so that when my children and grandchildren visit...I won't feel like they're standing on top of me.

I think I'll dream that certain people will suddenly be struck by a flash of enlightenment and finally understand why I do what I do....and remember that I always ask myself "What would Love do Now?"....because I really am that way.

I'm going to let myself believe that someone will remember I promised I'd always be his friend even though he can't be mine. It really is that simple. I have no expectations of return for the things I do.

I'm going to allow myself to imagine that maybe, just maybe....Mr. Wonderful didn't want me because Mr. Fantastic is just around the corner. (really hard to imagine...but I'm going to try...)

I think I'll find myself a full-time, year-around job so I can save up enough cash to finally get a stamp in my Passport. And then, maybe I'll just stay there.

I'm going to try really really hard to find something I want more than I want that next cigarette so I can become the non-smoker I once was.

I'm going to re-engage life again. Being on "strike" has been fun, but I know I can't play this game forever. At some point I need to pick a direction and go..........I'll think of something...maybe....kinda....sorta....I hope.....OKAY OKAY...I kinda like not chasing the proverbial rainbow and just living a simple life. So sue me. Yep, definitely tried to lie to myself with that one. Can't I just find a kind-hearted man to spoil??? Is it really such a crime to want something so simple???

It'd probably be easier to just adopt an orphan from Timbuktu, Africa.

Okay, being real and genuine now (am I ever anything OTHER than real and genuine???)......I really love my little dogs....they're such good cuddlers.....

HEY....Have a HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Conquering my Fear.....

Tonight I asked a friend if there was any one thing she thinks I should write about, what would it be? Her answer surprised me. I expected her to suggest things like write about perspective, or courage, or maybe even something humerous. I didn't expect her to suggest that I write about my inner self, my tender heart, the part of me that I keep well hidden safely behind a wall of independence and self-sufficiency, that part of me that few people get to see.

My first reaction of course, was to reject the idea because it would mean exposing myself to prying eyes, being vulnerable, opening myself up to attacks and derision. I felt like it would seem too much like I'm saying "look at me!" and would be too self-aggrandizing for my taste.

But mostly, the idea scared me.

But upon further reflection I asked myself "What if I wrote about that?" What would I say? What if I stripped away the layers of self-protective armor acquired from a lifetime spent in the school of hard knocks and spoke my innermost truth?

And now, here I sit. Staring at my computor monitor, struggling to find words that would accurately convey my innermost self. As I search my mind I hear the voice of my daughter saying "Use your words, Mom." and chuckle to myself while at the same time missing her very much....and that one thought brings to mind how that tends to be how I live my life......My outside laughs while my inside cries.

That same daughter, the one I've always called "my little Buddha child" once described me to a friend in this way: she said, "My Mom is like a roasted marshmallow: all burnt and hard on the outside, but warm and gooey on the inside". She was 7 at the time.

She's not wrong.

And I think that's why tonight my friend thought I should share that part of myself because I've allowed her to see that part of me and I have admitted to her that I wish more people knew that about me because maybe then they wouldn't be so quick to disregard my feelings because they're under the impression I don't have any.

But it's difficult. Every word I've typed so far has been a struggle. Because I don't want to share that part of me....anymore. Too many times I've opened myself up, trusting the wrong people....and been hurt.

I know I'm not special. Everybody hurts sometimes. Everyone has their stories of betrayal and angst. And I don't want to give the impression that I think I'm the only one, because I know I'm not. Which is why I am always quick to offer a helping hand, a comforting hug, a shoulder to lean on, a listening ear. Because I know what it's like to be hurting inside and have no one offer any of those things. I know how it is to feel like my heart has been mortally wounded and only receive a collective cold shoulder from others, as if they believe I "got what I deserved and therefore I am unworthy of empathy, compassion, or forgiveness."  I want to be the person who offers what everyone needs at those most difficult times of their life.....because in doing so, I can turn the most horrible times of my life into something good; because it made me a better person.

I know that sometimes people are confused by the way I respond to things. A person can snub me and I will smile and wave. Or another can say something cruel and I will pretend I thought it was a joke and just laugh. I am faced with all the same social situations as others, but it's no secret that I don't always respond in the ways people expect, the ways that are considered acceptable or appropriate....or normal. There are reasons for that.....

Sometimes it's simply because I recognize a situation as a "trigger" for deep emotional pain within myself so I am consciously choosing to diffuse it by choosing my response instead of just reacting.

There are times that I just plain "see things differently" than what people assume. The person who snubs me for example: Most people would respond to a snub by being offended or hurt. I see a snub as a reflection of who that person is on the inside and feel compassion for them because in my mind....a person must be feeling really yucky on the inside to believe that snubbing another is their best choice, the right thing to do, justified. In my mind, they get to be who they are and I get to be who I am, and who I am is someone who doesn't believe in "an eye for an eye", so instead of reacting to the snub with anger....I respond to the snub with kindness. I smile and wave, and send them thoughts of healing.

Other times it's because I am making a sincere effort to live what I believe to be spiritual truth by asking myself "What would Love do now?" and then responding accordingly. That one question has literally changed my life. It's inspired me to really dig deep and look closely at what love really is and what actions are truly loving. I've spoken of this in past blogs, and I mention it again now because I feel it's an important aspect of my inner self.  Like a compass, that one question has guided more of my life choices than any other thought. And I haven't always found the correct answer....but I keep trying.

Like it's own little journey, learning what love WOULD really do has been enlightening. Like the discovery that whatever choice I make must be as loving to myself as it is to others...otherwise it morphs into resentment and frustration...and ceases to be love. Or how what love would do is sometimes in opposition to what society considers to be "good manners". It was also enlightening to realize that "what love would do" can never have strings attached or it isn't's manipulation. Therefore, doing something nice for another isn't what love would do if we do it with expectations about how the other will respond. It's only love if we can give something to another without expectations of return or hope for some kind of "pay-off". Giving only comes from a place of Love when it has no strings attached.

But back to my inner self, I can see I'm getting side-tracked......

My inner self is a hodge-podge of silly humor, intellectual ponderings, a sincere desire to be a good, kind, and loving person, and a deep sense of soul-ripping sadness.....because I have so much I want to share but no one seems to want to receive it. I know that sounds like "poor me", but I don't intend it that way. It is simply a statement of fact, an observation about my reality.

I spend my days seeking a balance between "doing what needs to be done to survive and get along in society" and "seeking inner peace". I am constantly learning new things because I find joy in discovery. And the more I learn and discover, the more I realize the key to happiness is simplicity. So I have created a simple life for myself, void of grand ambitions and lofty goals.

I know it puzzles others that someone with a busy brain such as mine isn't out there earning Doctorates and changing the world. But perhaps I choose to change the world in a different sharing what I've learned with the people who come into my life on a more personal basis by just trying to be a good friend. Big houses, fancy cars and fat bank accounts don't interest me. They never have. My needs are simple and my wants are few. And my innermost self dreams only of having someone to share with. That's all.

Friday, December 16, 2011

My Dad has a girlfriend.

Words you never expect to hear yourself say. At least, I didn't. Which is kind of ironic really since less than 6 months ago I was the one encouraging Dad to start going to Senior dances to meet new people. When Dad resisted and said he couldn't go because he didn't have a dance partner, I was quick to remind him there are a lot of widow ladies at those dances wishing they had a dance partner too. So I was more than a little surprised when I found out Dad had started going to the dances and even went on a blind date and now has had a girlfriend for over 3 months that he kept secret from my sisters and I until about a month ago.

And, it's weird.

And of course, the fact that it feels weird combined with me being me....has my wheels turning; comtemplating and analyzing how I feel, why I feel it, and what insights can I gain from it....

For starters, after a lifetime of rarely seeing my parents express affection "publicly", it's very strange to see my Father being openly affectionate to a woman who is not my Mother. He is quite literally "as giddy as a school boy". It's kinda cute really, but it also brings to the surface of my mind that one thing we all know but really don't want to think about.....our elderly parents are sexually active. Egads.

I've only met Dad's girlfriend twice so far, and she seems to be a nice person and I find her easy to converse with....IF I forget that's my DAD she's talking to me about as if she and I are close girlfriends. If I tell myself "that's just her boyfriend" she's talking about, the conversation flows smoothly. But the second I remember she's talking about MY DAD...all these unfamiliar feelings come bubbling to the surface. Feelings I never would have expected to feel: like protectiveness toward my Mother; as if she's suddenly been dismissed. Cancelled out. Forgotten. This is a strange sensation for me to experience since my Mother and I were never close. I don't recall ever feeling like I needed to protect my Mother before. .....Interesting.

And then there's those times when in the midst of the conversation it seems very natural to mention Mom. Like tonight when I commented I love to cook and Dad's girlfriend said her Mother never let her in the kitchen when she was growing up so she never learned. Naturally, I said "oh my Mom taught me to cook." and right away I felt guilty, like I had committed some kind of social faux pax by mentioning Mom to Dad's girlfriend, in front of Dad. And I find myself wondering what the rules are: Can I mention Mom? Should I or shouldn't I? Will I make Dad feel bad if I do? Is it awkward for Dad's "new woman" if I mention Mom?

Yikes, what ARE the rules???

And then there's the whole holiday thing. In the years since Mom passed away my sisters and I have made certain Dad hasn't been alone on the holidays. Whether we all meet at his house or invite him to join us at one of ours, it's an unspoken agreement that Dad will NOT be alone on any major holiday. But now, Dad's more interested in his new girlfriend's Christmas plans and intends to spend the day with her family instead of his own. And I find myself chuckling about that. It's like "turn-about is fair play" as I recall all the times Mom and Dad were soooooo upset with either myself or one of my sisters because we chose to spend a holiday with our boyfriend's family instead of our own. More power to him, I say!

I also had a good gut-busting laugh over Thanksgiving when after calling him repeatedly the week before to confirm our plans for Thanksgiving dinner at my house and never succeeding in connecting with him.......I finally left a message stating very clearly that if he didn't call me back in the next hour Ashley and I were going to drive to his house to check on him. Within seconds (literally!) he called back and informed me that he and his girlfriend had "taken off on a roadtrip" with another couple and spent the week in Branson Missouri and were on their way back. I had to hand the phone over to Ashley because I was laughing too hard to even speak coherently. All I could think about was all the times Dad had read me the riot act for "taking off and not telling anyone". When the phone was handed back to me, I couldn't resist a little teasing so I said "What the heck, Dad? You got a girlfriend so you decided to revert back to your youth and just take off without telling anyone?" The hysterical giggles returned when he sharply retorted "I'm 73 years old! I think I'm old enough to go on a trip without needing to ask permission!" 

I still haven't convinced him I was only kidding.....

But on a more serious note....I am finding this experience intriguing. It's an opportunity to gain new insights because it's a life experience I haven't had before. My parents were together for 49 years before Mom passed away. That's all I've ever known. And seeing Dad with someone new brings to light just how stuck in that vision of my Dad I really was and it is a good reminder that our parents, no matter how young or old, are people too. It's also interesting to see how Dad interacts with someone other than my Mother: like I'm gaining insights about which parts of his personality are his and which parts were specific to how he interacted with Mom's personality. It's like I'm meeting a side of my Dad I've never met before.

I knew Dad was lonely and bored. That's why I nudged him to get out and start meeting new people; I thought it would be good for him. Certainly better than sitting around the house marking time and just waiting to go join Mom. But I had never given a moment's thought to how it would feel to ME to see him actually go do it. I caught myself experiencing a moment of fear when I realized just how serious the two of them had become in such a short time; already making plans for her to spend the winter in Texas with Dad...something Dad and Mom did every year. I felt a little bit like that WOMAN was intruding and had somehow tricked my Father into having an "instant relationship", as if he was vulnerable and naive and being suckered by some kind of "gold digging leech". But I'm glad I kept those feelings to myself until I had time to really think about it because once I did stop and really think about it I realized some very important facts that must also be considered: #1 Dad isn't rich. #2 Dad is 73 and she is 75.....they don't have time for a lengthy courtship. "Insta-relationship" is their best option and doesn't automatically mean they're going to elope next week, so I need to just get a grip and let my Dad enjoy his golden years as he sees fit. I never liked it when he would try to tell me who I should or shouldn't date. Who am I to try to do that to him? It's none of my business. So from now on, I'm going to treat Dad's love life the same way I treat my daughter's: "If you're happy, I'm happy."

And quite frankly, I'm also getting a giggle out of the fact that Dad "kicking up his heels" also means "the shoe is on the other foot." Suddenly, the stern, strict, righteous Christian man who saw the world as black and the one who's "bending the rules" because he's found something he wants badly enough to make a different choice. Perhaps at some point he will realize that it's easy to see things as black and white when you're living in one situation, but when circumstances change a person starts to realize there are other choices that are equally "right" and okay. Perspective is everything.

I smile when I think about those first 3 months they were dating when he was avoiding our phone calls and being evasively secretive when we did talk to him....because he didn't want to tell us he has a girlfriend. And when he points out her attributes; like her hobbies and interests and extensive collection of clown dolls like he's playing "show and tell" in an effort to convince me to like her....I think back to those times I did similar things in an effort to convince Dad that the man I had chosen was 'worthy'....and I recall how Dad was never going to be happy with my choice no matter what I said.....and I try to give him the positive response I wish he had given me.

I'm glad he's met someone and I'm really glad he's getting out there on the dance floor and having some fun. Now that he has something to be excited about, he's starting to pay attention to his health again, getting to the doctor, watching his diet, taking his medication, etc....all things he'd taken to neglecting in his lonely depression. So it is good that Dad has found someone to spend his time with and I find myself enjoying the idea that even elderly people get to have those limerant feelings that "light them up" and put a little bounce in their step. And really, it doesn't matter that their relationship didn't "grow from friendship"....

....because they're old.

Have a blast, Dad! It's nice to see you happy!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

If I knew then what I know now.....

How many times did we hear that as we were growing up? "If I had known then what I know now"....Usually muttered by a much older adult with that wistful tone that makes us "youngin's" feel like ignorant stooges. Of course, the general consensus was that these older, wiser, adults were referring to insights that pertained to being successful. Like how to use credit to your advantage instead of letting creditors turn you into unwitting slaves.

And maybe they were. How the heck would *I* know. I only know when I look at what I know now vs. what I knew then, and attempt to "fill in the blanks"'s what *I* wish I had known "then".....

I wish I had known those unattainable foxy guys in highschool; you know the ones; the all-star varsity sports no matter what they try to do, un-naturally handsome, confident and just all around so wonderful that if they looked at you for even a fleeting moment in the hallway you floated on a cloud for the rest of the day guys....were destined to be the high school janitors of the future.

I wish I had known that "No, I really DON'T have to plan the rest of my life before I graduate high school." I really can change occupations as often as I want and the sky isn't going to fall on my head.

I wish I had known that busting my butt to build good credit, buy expensive things, and "look" successful was going to be a disappointing, empty, and pointless journey.

I wish I had seen "the man behind the curtain" a LOT sooner.

I wish I had known that "working hard at a relationship" should never, ever, mean giving up my own hopes and dreams, giving up what I *need* from my partner, or becoming the submissive doormat upon which my partner wipes his feet.

I wish I had known those shy, awkward guys would turn out to be the best prospects for husbands.

I wish I had known that I am just as important, just as worthy, just as deserving of happiness, as anyone else, and that "the way I am" is equally as important as "the way you are".

I wish I had known there is not one single shred of evidence to support the idea that life was meant to be serious.

I wish I had known that it's better to do the wrong thing for the right reasons (love, compassion, empathy) than it is to do the right thing for the wrong reasons (guilt, fear, conditioning, indoctrination, martyrdom).

I wish I had understood just how truly big and loving God really is....instead of believing in that lesser God I was raised with.

I wish I had known that I can be happy at any given moment, simply by deciding to be happy...instead of always thinking "things will be better when...."

I wish I had known that someone who claims to love you, treats you like dirt, then picks a fight with you when you object, twisting everything around to make you feel like you somehow deserved exactly what you got and are somehow to blame for their bad behavior....doesn't really love you.

I wish I had known that the greatest satisfaction I would ever find would be in doing simple tasks whole-heartedly.

I wish I had known that the voice in my heart is waaaaaaaayyyy smarter than the voice in my head.

I wish I had known that trusting God sometimes means listening to that voice in my heart even when it tells me to do something that opposes everything I was ever taught about what God wants me to do. (Hm, isn't there a story about that in the Bible?)

I wish I had known that "worrying" and "trying to control how things turn out" are just signs that I'm not really trusting God.

I wish I had known that the whole time I thought I was doing "what's best for my children" children were wishing I would do what's best for me, because they hated seeing me suffer "on their behalf" and felt powerless to do anything about it.

I wish I had known that when I ride the fence....I'm not the only one that gets slivers.

I wish I had known that the more questions I answer and riddles I solve...the less important it would all seem to become.

I wish I had known that I should never trust someone who has a lot to lose (or at least thinks they do).

I wish I had known that the best relationships start with friendship, not limerance.

I wish I had known that the only things that matter, are the things I decide matter.

I wish I had understood that sometimes the most loving thing I can do, is walk away.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Why I prefer to do a Man's job.....

I've worked at a lot of different jobs in my life. If I were to write up a complete resume I would have to include bartending, cashiering, bakery manager, cook, grocery manager, telemarketer, receptionist, autobody detailer, lab technician, horse trainer, photographer, truck driver, bus driver, and writer...amongst other things.

When I look back over the years I've noticed a trend, a gradual evolution from traditionally "female" jobs toward more traditionally "male" jobs. My friends have noticed as well, and some have even asked me; "why do you like to do man's work?" So I'm going to try to explain....

For starters, I've never looked at it as "girl jobs" vs. "boy jobs". I just look at it from the standpoint of "Can I do it?",  "Do I want to do it?", and "what does it pay?" As a divorced Mother of two who didn't receive child support, it was my job to be the provider, the "hunter-gatherer", and let's face it....boy jobs generally pay better. So there's one reason; Money.

Another reason would be that I was a tomboy, Daddy's girl right from the beginning, the son my Father never Dad taught me about power tools and farming and driving. He also taught me to believe in myself and told me I could do anything I set my mind to and if I wasn't physically strong enough...use an equalizer. That's what they make jacks and dollies and wheelbarrows for. Therefore: reason number two would be: it comes naturally to me.

Reason number three would have to be that I just plain like to be active. Given the choice between being stuck indoors at a desk or outside playing in the dirt....I'll be outside almost every time. It's just more fun to me, and when it's fun it holds my attention. I *thought* I was choosing that lifestyle when I became a photographer...until everything turned digital and I found myself staring at my computor 15 hours a day.....and truthfully, for awhile I didn't mind, because it was a convenient excuse to avoid a bad relationship. But when that relationship ended I no longer had an incentive to hide behind my computor screen, so when my photo biz experienced difficulty, it was an easy decision to turn it back into an occasional hobby.

And of course, we must also consider "politics". Indoor traditionally girl jobs usually also means working with women and women are.....well, not always fun to work with. Men are much easier to get along with in my experience, and being Daddy's girl, I grew up surrounded by men so it's easy for me to slip into the roll of "just another one of the guys". Until recent years I never encountered problems working with the guys. But in the last 2 years I learned that when someone spreads unkind rumors about you, some men take that as an invitation to make rude advances, so I've discovered an aspect of working around men I had never encountered before and I have to admit; if that's what other women usually encounter, I can see why they avoid doing boy jobs. But it isn't going to stop me from working around men....I've just decided to remove myself from working around THOSE men (if you can even call them men, pigs would be more accurate IMO.)

But the biggest reason I choose to do men's work is this: I just want to do my job; whatever it is, and not have someone always looking over my shoulder, monitoring my every move. I like some freedom and independence. Just give me a job and let me do it. That's why I love driving a potato truck. The task is simple, yet challenging, but most importantly; I can just do it. I get in my truck and just go. I'm alone in the truck, I don't have to carry on mindless conversations with people who have nothing interesting to say. I don't have to "put on a show" by dressing a certain way or behaving a certain way or saying the right things. I can just be myself. When I'm hungry, I eat. If I need a bathroom break, I take one. If I'm exhausted from too many 15 hour days in a row I can park at the end of the field and take a nap and no one bothers me because I get paid by the load, not by the hour. I don't have to wait for a scheduled break time or ask permission from some kid half my age on a power-trip. I have yet to find a girl-job that gives me that kind of freedom and independence.

But that doesn't mean I'm NOT a girl at heart. I am. In fact, I'm all woman on the inside. I think many would be shocked at just how female I really am. I'm the one that hops out of my truck to save a catapillar from being squished. And I like to surprise the guys with homemade goodies after we've had a couple rain-days...not because I want anything from them, but because I honestly love to cook and have no one to cook for. I go home at the end of a long day of bouncing around in a dirty potato truck and love to soak in a hot scented bubble bath. Sometimes I go home and put on a skirt for the evening just because I want to feel like a girl for a few hours.

Truthfully, if not for the fact that I have to work to earn a living, I would be perfectly content to just stay home and be "Little Suzy Homemaker" and fill my days doing all kinds of "traditionally female tasks". I love to grow a vegetable garden and make pickles and bake a variety of goodies. I enjoy doing crafts and running errands for other people. I actually think ironing is fun and folding laundry is relaxing. Call me weird, but that is how I feel. But since I do have to earn a living to keep a roof over my head, then I figure I might as well find jobs that suit my personality.....and in my experience, that usually means doing a man's job......