Fortune cookie wisdom #10

Be prepared for a sudden, needed, and happy change in plans.

Wow, this one is nice!

I’m not sure when I received this fortune cookie, but I can tell you that this year has definitely been a year full of surprises and change…

In January, we sold our business but stayed on as employees. In February, we checked our first continent (outside of our own) off the bucket list. In two weeks, we will be moving into a new house.

A year ago today I would’ve never guessed that any of these things would be happening.

Last night I booked a trip to Las Vegas. This was unexpected a week ago. I’m very excited because I’ve never been to Nevada before. Plus my daughter Angel was selected as one of the best college singers in the US to compete there on a national level. This is a very big step forward in her future music career. We will have the opportunity to listen to the best singers in the United States compete and famous singers perform.

Pity the poor middle school choir students that I hear perform for solo and ensemble. I will never be the same.

Hopefully we will have time to check out some shows and spend some time poolside. I really don’t care about going to the casinos. I doubt my daughter could get in anyway. She is still a teenager.

I’ll be sure to share my best pictures and adventures in Sin City. But don’t expect it to be like The Hangover.

Fortune cookie wisdom #9

The sky seems small if it is looked at from the bottom of the well.

Well, that’s deep!

Life is a matter of perspective.

Where did you start?

Do you see things as they really are?

Do you see things like I do?

Was your view obstructed by the wall of the well that surrounds you?

Do you live in murky waters that make the blue sky seem gray?

Even the clearest of waters can distort and refract our reflection.

Maybe the well is dry but you can only see the things around you with tunnel vision.

Does the sky matter? Or are you only concerned with what you are surrounded by?

What do I see when I look down at you? Only a poor reflection of myself?

I shouldn’t judge your views if you see things from a different angle.

I wonder…How did you get inside the well in the first place?

Were you born that way?

Did something push you over the edge?

Did you fall into it unexpectedly?

Are you trying to hide from your demons behind the cool dark walls?

Were you seeking satiation and got trapped in the drink?

What if you need help?

If you are at the bottom of a well, perhaps you have bigger concerns than the size of the sky.

It’s too bad, the sky it a beautiful baby blue today without a cloud.

 

Fortune cookie wisdom #8

Begin…the rest is easy.

I find this fortune cookie to be very inspiring.

Beginning is the hardest part, right?

Remember starting a blog? How terrifying was that??

Now it seems so natural, so easy, so ingrained…like I’ve been doing this forever.

Every decision to begin something new is fraught with worry. Or at least it is that way for me. Getting married, starting a family, starting a blog, running a marathon, getting on the stage of a community theater, sailing, going to college, moving to a new community, doing a Half Ironman, traveling, etc…insert dream here..

Beginning a new adventure can be terrifying. Fear can prevent someone with great potential from even starting.

I remember my first 10k. I was horrified. I was so afraid I wanted to run in the opposite direction. This summer, I’m going to run my 4th marathon. A lot of people find that inspiring, motivating, or downright crazy. It is all of those things. If I can do it, anybody can. It started with taking the first step. I started running about 5 years before I ever signed up for my first race. People don’t see everything I do when they hear about everything I’ve done.

Running can be very intimidating if you haven’t yet learned to crawl.

I am very motivated to achieve. I can’t sit still. My brain never quiets.

I am also a very competitive person. This has been harder to overcome. I want to be the best runner. I want to be the best blogger. I am secretly (well, not anymore) jealous of people who have thousands of followers after a few months of blogging. I am jealous of people great enough to qualify for the Boston marathon.

I have to get over comparing myself to others and learn to enjoy my own journey…

Sometimes people ask…How can you be a marathon runner? How do you run a successful business working with your husband? How can you blog regularly year after year?

I’ll tell you how I do it. Begin…that is the first step. Keep going. Keep doing your best even if you aren’t the best. Seek the advice of others who are successful. Maybe I’m not as good of a runner as ______ or as good of a blogger as ________. Who cares? I really love it and that is what matters.

Fortune cookie wisdom #7

You will travel far and wide, both for pleasure and business.

I really love this one!

I have a dream to see the world, near and far…

I’m never going to stop until I reach the end of the path.

As of right now, I visited 32 out of 50 states. Of these states, I visited California, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, and Tennessee for business. Next month I am planning on crossing Nevada off of my list.

It isn’t on my bucket list to visit all of the United States, although it would be nice. My plans are far more grandiose than that. I want to visit all of the continents. So far, I’ve crossed off North America and Asia. I plan to cross off South America and Europe within the next 5 years. I even warmed up to the idea of visiting Antarctica.

A couple of days ago, I visited my friend Jen. She recently found out that she has an aggressive type of terminal cancer. The prognosis is not good. Next month will be Jen and her husband’s 25th anniversary. They booked a trip to Hawaii to celebrate. It doesn’t look like they will be going. They wanted to go to Alaska for their 20th anniversary, but never did. Now it is too late.

I don’t want to travel for special occasions anymore. I want to travel because I want to travel. I told myself that after we got back from visiting Thailand for our 20th anniversary. Time is too short.

We couldn’t travel far when we first started out. We didn’t have the extra money. We were tied down to the business. More importantly, we didn’t have anyone to help with the kids. We were lucky if we were able to get away alone one weekend a year for many years.

My husband was 40 before he stepped foot on a plane for the first time. But once he did, we both decided that we would like to travel more.

We never went anywhere as kids, but our kids went to many places already.

We took the kids to Disney World, their first time on a plane.

We showed them a world of wonder that we never got to see growing up.

I guess the moral of the story is not to wait until it is too late to cross things off your bucket list.

It doesn’t have to be a trip to Asia. When the kids were in their middle childhood years, we traveled extensively around the state. We went tent camping to over a dozen different places, mainly state parks. We braved a couple ferocious storms. We biked many trails, went to nature programs, swam in many lakes, picnicked on gorgeous beaches, hiked through the woods, fished, and watched sunsets while the crickets chirped.

After Paul got into sailing, we started similar adventures on water.

 

It doesn’t have to be expensive to be fun. Take what you have and work with it..

I have a dream to see the world, near and far…

I’m never going to stop until I reach the end of the path.

 

Fortune cookie wisdom #6

Advice comes in all forms; some help you and some hurt you.

My husband received this fortune cookie over the weekend. He wouldn’t let me read it and teased me about it for hours until I started giving him advice. **Please note that I said hours before the unsolicited advice arrived.** Once I started giving him advice, he handed over the fortune cookie laughing. He knows how much I love giving advice.

I am good at giving unsolicited advice. Turn in your homework. Get good grades. Drive carefully. Be sure to turn off the lights when you leave the room. Should you be eating ice cream before supper? You will find things easier if you clean your room.

Hey, sometimes people even ask me for advice. Notice that my friend Cindy asked me, instead of her husband, to help her pick out a dress for her son’s wedding.

Now before I start a ‘Dear Alissa’ blog, I’m going to tell you something shocking. There was a time in my life when I didn’t give good advice.

Well there goes my opportunity to make $$ reading two paragraphs of someone’s life and telling them in one paragraph to trust their gut instinct or follow their heart. Damn, I really wrecked that for myself by coming clean with you.

It happened a long time ago back when I was in college. There wasn’t a way to get advice online, so we actually had to rely upon the opinions of real people.

One of my best friends from high school and roommate, Mary, asked me for some advice. She was dating a guy that dropped out of high school and was threatened by her going to college. He had no money and couldn’t hold a job for long. He slept on a dirty mattress (without bedding) on the floor in someone else’s house. His hobbies included drinking and doing drugs.

Now Mary wanted to get married to this guy. Her parents and family advised her not to. She asked me what I thought she should do…Do you love him?? What could possibly go wrong? I mean, love is all you need. Right??!?

Several years down the road, Mary had dropped out of college and worked several jobs to help support her 3 kids because her husband didn’t have a job. She lived in a house that later became condemned. Her daughter had health problems because of the lead paint on the walls. Her husband still had his hobbies of drinking and drugs. He had no interest at all in being a family man.

Not surprisingly, the marriage ended in divorce.

I wish I could’ve given Mary the advice I would’ve given her now. Stay in college. That guy is a loser and is no good for you. You can do better than that.

I wish I had the knowledge and experience then that I have now.

So, here I sit sequestered to a life of giving my family unsolicited advice that they probably won’t heed. But at least most of it is good advice.

Fortune cookie wisdom #5

You are careful and systematic in your business arrangements.

Boooorrrrriiinnnggg! I’m not sure why I kept this fortune cookie. It is true, I am careful and systematic in pretty much everything I do.

However, I don’t think I am very careful about what I say when it comes to blogging. I talk too much and that is something I am not known for doing. Look at me! I sit down almost every single day and talk about myself. No one cuts me off. No one is thinking about what they are going to say in response. I don’t have to worry about having to get a word in edgewise.

It got me to thinking…Is this blogging platform dominated by introverts that don’t talk a lot in real life??

Bear with me for exactly 286 seconds…

Here are some top characteristics I want in a friend that I also offer as a friend:

  • Honesty, I want friends to tell me the truth instead of saying things to make me feel better.
  • Introversion, I would rather not hang around with loud bossy people.
  • Integrity, I don’t want to have to worry about friends hitting on my husband.
  • Humor
  • Intellect, I need deep conversations not small talk.
  • Structure, I don’t do spontaneity.
  • Neurotic, totally sane people drive me crazy.
  • Eccentric/crazy
  • Adventurous
  • Justice, I want fairness…I want a clearly defined right or wrong. (I tend to see things as black or white/all or nothing).
  • Determination, I don’t want a friend that bows out when things get tough.
  • Motivation, I want a friend that strives to be better than they were yesterday.
  • Industrious, I can’t stand laziness. I can’t sit still.
  • Realistic
  • Reliable, just do what you say you are going to do.
  • Trustworthy

So, I pose this question to you…

Are most bloggers introverts? Do we think this is a good place to tell our story because people in real life don’t listen? Do introverts still have a need to speak up quietly? Why would I tell strangers more about my life than friends? Am I inadequate at having real life relationships? Why does it feel safer to talk here for the world to read versus talking to a close friend behind a closed door?

I really want to know…Do most bloggers have the above characteristics?? Or am I just attracting the people that have these characteristics because that is how I am??

What are your thoughts?? If you follow my blog, how many of these characteristics do we share? If you are just passing through, what about you??

Am I making a sweeping generalization that most bloggers, especially those that post in the personal genre, are introspective introverts like me?? Or do I just attract people like me??

I notice your personality shine through in every word you write…Why wouldn’t you notice mine?

I know I totally got off the fortune cookie topic today. Whoops!

The second half of the weekend roller coaster ride

After church on Sunday, we went to visit our old friends Harv and Kate. Our old friends as in friends that are in their 80’s and not as in old friends we’ve known since the 80’s.

Harv and Kate invited us over under the guise of having us share our adventures in Thailand with them. They have been all over the world but have never been to Thailand. Despite being older than my parents, we share many common interests with Harv and Kate including traveling, sailing, singing, theater, the love of the outdoors, and being hard core intellectuals.

Once we arrived, I noticed in sheer panic that I forgot my phone at home. During this time, I missed the call from my friend Jen preparing me to see her with her new cancer diagnosis later in the evening at our children’s band concert. But I am getting ahead of myself.

Harv and Kate said that they had a surprise for us. We weren’t going to be eating lunch at their house as expected. They said they were taking us on a mystery date. Kate said that one time Harv took her on a mystery date and they ended up in Missouri. Wait! What? I got a little nervous when we started heading south. Not to mention that Harv went through a couple of stop signs.

Now Harv and Kate are by far the happiest married couple that I know. Although they have been married longer than I’ve been alive, they act like a couple of newlyweds. They said that they often plan surprises for each other to keep their relationship alive. Maybe Paul and I will have to start doing that.

Soon we arrived in a small town to a hole in the wall bar/restaurant/theater/art gallery/hotel that was 150 years old. Harv and Kate surprised us with a dinner theater show that Harv and Paul performed in together years ago. We had a marvelous time. When we got back to their house, they wouldn’t let us leave until we saw Kate’s drawings, they watched our son’s solo and ensemble performance, and we set up another date to tell them about our Thailand experience.

That set us on the road with just enough time to grab my forgotten phone on the way to the concert. I didn’t have time to call Jen back.

Arabella, my mom, Alex’s girlfriend, Paul, and I attended the concert that evening. We saw Julia sitting by herself and invited her to join our crew. Our other old friend Vince showed up. He sat down next to Julia. He asked Julia if she was married. She replied, “Not happily”. Her husband never attends their children’s events, just like my dad. Julia told Vince that it was so nice that he could come out to watch his grandson perform. Vince told her that he wasn’t related to us.

That can be the awkward thing about unconventional friendships…people always think we are related. He is not your dad?? No, my dad takes no interest in my life and Paul never had a dad. At this point, we don’t even bother explaining all of this anymore.

Paul invited Vince over to our house after the concert to watch the video of Alex performing at S&E. That was before we ran into Jen, before I found out that she has terminal cancer. I cried all the way home. I cried while Vince was at our house watching the video of our son perform. I cried myself to sleep. I was still crying when I got to work the next morning.

For so many years, I stuffed my feelings. I don’t remember crying when my grandma died. I told myself that she was still alive. For years, I crammed all of my bad feelings in some back closet of my mind. I wouldn’t allow myself to feel. After a while, I could no longer pick or choose what feeling I put behind the door…all feelings got locked up until I became completely numb to life.

After awhile I got sick of living in the empty void. Eventually I opened the closet door and all of the old junk of emotions came crashing down on me. I sorted it out. I processed it. I dealt with it and lived to tell about it. It was only then that I started to live again.

This time I told myself that I was going to deal with my feelings. If I’m sad, I’m going to cry. If someone can’t handle me crying because I found out a close friend is dying, then why would I want that negativity in my life??

But I didn’t cry in front of Jen, in front of her husband and children, in a public place. There is nothing I can do to heal her. But I am going to her house later on this week to see if she needs anything to make her last days happier.

So there you have it…I have a new friend with lupus, an old friend (15 years) with cancer, and 3 old friends in their mid-80’s.

Just because our time with others may be short doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t forge relationships…because, who knows? Nothing is guaranteed in life. Might as well start living every day to its fullest.

 

 

The first half of the weekend roller coaster ride

This whole last weekend was a roller coaster ride of emotions.

On Saturday, Alex went to state for solo and ensemble. We didn’t know if he was going to state for sure until Thursday evening. He was failing some classes, including band, which would make him ineligible. It was a stressful week not knowing. Plus he had a duet and trio, so it wasn’t just himself that he would be letting down.

Friday night, Paul and Darryl started the project of replacing light fixtures in our house to get it ready to sell. Friday night after the work was done, we played cards.

Paul’s step-dad Darryl joined a couple of new dating sites. He showed us a couple of women that he was interested in meeting and let out a few obscenities when his computer didn’t work right. He is totally lady crazy..

The next morning we went to state. We saw Julia, the mom of the girl that Alex was doing the duet and trio with. She leaned over and said that she heard he almost didn’t make it. She would’ve had every right to shake her head, but instead said that the reason she made it out was to see my son play even though she was sick. The first time I met her she called my son the genius, the savant. She kept pouring out the positives, which is something I don’t hear a lot of people say about my son. Julia said she tries to see the best in everyone.

I told Julia that we should be friends. Every time I feel discouraged about my son, I could give her a call. Julia said that she could use a few more friends in her life. She said that just the day before she quit her job. She was too sick to go to work, but they wanted her to come in anyway. She said that she has lupus and has been in and out of the hospital over the past year. She is quirky, eccentric, neurotic, blunt, and fun…everything I want in a friend.

Julia met up with us later to watch Alex’s solo. It was getting close to his time, so I couldn’t watch her daughter perform one of her group songs. Julia said she recorded her daughter performing, but she couldn’t get the whole group in the recording. She said she cut out the homely girls at the end of the row and asked if I still wanted to be friends. I laughed and said that made me want to be friends with her even more. I got her number.

Alex’s solo was the last one of the day. I was a nervous wreck. Could he pull it off?? He was playing a graduate level piece as a junior. It was the hardest piece that he could play. My heart was pounding. I thought I was going to have a panic attack. I felt extreme fear and exhilaration at the same time. It was like riding a roller coaster that is way out of your comfort zone. He pulled it off magnificently. The judge said that hearing Alex play made his day at state worthwhile.

Alex got 3 firsts at state and achieved an exemplary award of excellence. He now has a total of 2 exemplary awards at state. I was so excited and proud of my son’s accomplishments that we decided to take him out to eat at the restaurant of his choice.

While we were eating, Darryl was hitting on the hostess. He asked her if she had a boyfriend. It was rather embarrassing since she appeared to be around 30 years old. After the meal, Darryl went off searching for the hostess. Our waitress sent the hostess to our table. We pointed to Darryl across the room saying that he wanted to talk to her. She told us not to worry that her parents do embarrassing things too. It really annoyed Paul, but he didn’t say anything.

It was an interesting start to the weekend…

Why God? Why??

I didn’t recognize her at first. I think that was one of the hardest parts. I just saw her a couple of weeks ago.

She talked about how busy she was then…with a son graduating from college and moving back home. Her other son was finishing his first year of college and moving back home. She needed to get a storage shed. But we should really get together for lunch sometime.

She left a message asking for a call back.

I forgot my phone at home that day, which never happens. I got home with enough time to grab my phone and leave for the band concert. My car was left running in the driveway when I got her message. Never mind calling her back, she was probably on her way to the concert as well.

Her voice sounded strange. I asked my daughter if something was wrong. Jen’s daughter and mine have been good friends since they were babies. Is there something you aren’t telling me? Is there something I should know? 

Jen has been my daughter’s coach for the last 5 years. It was hardest for me to tell her that I was moving, leaving. I was sad that my daughter wouldn’t be on her team next year. But I didn’t know then that things would never be the same for other reasons…

After the concert, an elderly woman approached me. Perhaps she was confused. She acted like she knew me. I didn’t know her. When she opened her mouth, she whispered…I’ve been sick.. I recognized that voice. Jen? I have cancer…incurable…inoperable.. What??

At one time, I considered Jen to be my best friend. Our daughters were best friends. Jen is truly a good person. She is a better person than me. She is a good wife and mother. She would give you the shirt off her back if she needed it herself.

When the kids were little, she volunteered a lot at the school. She was a board member for the parent teacher association. She chaired several book fairs, I co-chaired. She helped me start a babysitting co-op. She was always an active church member. She did more than her part to try to make this world a better place.

We didn’t see each other as much once the children got older. We weren’t needed as much anymore at school. She got a job. I also worked. Her mother got cancer and she was needed there. It seemed like we saw each other less and less with each passing year. But every once in awhile we met up for lunch or went out.

It took everything I had to not break down in front of all of those people. I cried all the way home. I didn’t sleep well last night.

It hurt to see her husband have to help her out of her chair. She seemed so feeble and weak. I don’t understand. She didn’t smoke. She rarely drank. She exercised, made a point to make her family healthy meals, wasn’t overweight, and in general lived a healthy lifestyle. How could this happen?? It’s not fair!

She quit her job. She was too sick to go to her son’s college graduation. Nothing would’ve stopped her from going to that.

Why God?? Why? She is in her 40’s. She still has a child at home. She was fine a couple weeks ago. Now she looks like she is in her 80’s. The color in her face is wrong. I’ve seen this before. She looks like my mother-in-law did right at the end of her struggle with cancer. Skeletal, feeble, and old. I didn’t even recognize her! The last time I saw her a couple weeks back she was vibrant and full of life! How could this happen in such a short period of time?? How could God let this happen??

I remembered all of the good times together…the play dates with the kids, trips to the zoo, camp fires, days spent at the beach, boating, visiting their cabin, winter days spent searching records together for our genealogy hobby…Now all of this is gone. Her future gone. The dreams she had for retirement gone. The rest of her life with the love of her life…gone! Being a grandma some day…gone. Poof, just like that. Healthy one day, dying the next.. I can’t believe it!

I don’t think she has much time left. I can’t believe this is happening. There is nothing I can do. I am in complete and total shock right now.

Last week I talked about feeling old…needing reading glasses, friends children graduating from college and getting married. But nothing prepared me for the reality of losing a close friend…Death.