Gratitude week 125

  1. I had my doctor appointment I waited 4 months for and got the answers I was looking for. The doctor said I have osteoarthritis which explains the joint pain I’ve been having. I’m not excited about having arthritis, but I am grateful to finally have some answers.
  2. I’ve been blogging for seven years now.
  3. Mom and I bought flowers last time we got together. We created some lovely planters for the patio. I also bought some cilantro and strawberry plants.
  4. Thunderstorms. We rarely have thunderstorms over the winter. I didn’t realize how much I missed the patter of falling rain and hearing distant thunder.
  5. A clean mattress pad and sheets.
  6. Arabella started moving into her apartment over the weekend.
  7. We had an open house over the weekend for our seasonal business and had a nice turnout.
  8. My son’s good friend/roommate turned 21 over the weekend. I always worry when the young folks turn 21 because of the heavy drinking involved. He safely survived the weekend.
  9. Arabella turned her location back on for me without me asking her to.
  10. I watched my best friend’s son play baseball near our house. I’m grateful for the opportunity to support her family.

The old normal, part 1

I’ve experienced a lot a change in the last 5 years. It started with the death of my mother-in-law from cancer back in February of 2017. We went through a period of grief and loss.

Within the last 5 years we went from having three (up to four with the foreign exchange students) teenagers living in our house to being empty nesters last month.

Paul and I went from running a business to selling our business that I worked at for 10 years and he for 20. For a period of time, we were retired. Then Paul started a seasonal business. He also started a new career different from both businesses. So there were several career and job changes within the last 5 years.

With the selling of our business, we experienced a socioeconomic change. We moved into a different house in a different town. Our youngest daughter changed schools. We are attending the third church within five years. New house, new neighborhood, new school, new church.

I went from being a marathon runner to not running at all. I was diagnosed with colitis and started developing health issues. I started to notice aging more than I’ve ever experienced it before in my adult life going from my early 40’s to my late 40’s. My siblings started to develop health issues.

I found out about the crime my dad committed. It tore up my family. Then COVID came into play and tore up whatever family unity was left. My dad will be 75 in a couple weeks and it kills me that our relationship never amounted to anything. Most of my family went from tolerating him to despising him. My mom is teeter tottering back and forth between leaving my dad and staying. She moved in with us for awhile. She is experiencing a tremendous amount of anxiety.

It’s been two years today since my youngest daughter tried to kill herself for the first time. That has been a huge struggle and change in my life, having a daughter go from quirky to being so mentally ill she might die.

Then there are the other little changes, but changes nonetheless. Losing a family pet. Buying a new car after my old car got totaled. Not to mention a global pandemic that changed everyone’s life.

I am struggling with all the change. The new me doesn’t even recognize the old me anymore. What happens now?

What happens when the pandemic ends? Do we pick up the pieces where we left off and start a new old normal?

January recap

I had a feeling it was going to be a difficult year when the police showed up at my house in the wee hours of New Year’s Day. Besides going away to Las Vegas for several days, I’d be ready to scrap the whole month (if not the whole year if things don’t get better).

The first week of January I ended up getting COVID. At first I just felt a little bit off. I felt a little more tired than usual, lightheaded, crampy, and sore. For where I was in my cycle, it wasn’t too far out of the norm as I tend to be anemic. I thought maybe I was being a bit of a hypochondriac until I came down with a fever the next day. A couple days later, Angel felt sick.

Then after that, we ended up having to put our dog down. He was 14 years old with really bad arthritis, congestive heart failure, and cancer. He was on 5 different medications and he was gradually going downhill. He couldn’t see, hear, or get around well. He started shivering and biting at his paws, had a few accidents in the house, and lost a lot of weight because he wasn’t eating much. It was time. Part of me felt like we shouldn’t have waited so long and part of me feels guilty for putting him down. Maybe if I wouldn’t have accidently tripped over him a couple months back, he would’ve lived longer. I never thought I would overthink this and grieve so much over our dog, but I did. Thankfully the vet was very kind and compassionate through the whole process.

After that we went to Las Vegas. A couple days into the trip my husband started feeling a little off. Neither one of us thought all that much about it because it was almost two weeks after I had gotten sick. He spent one of the nights hanging out in the bathroom and after that had a stuffy nose, a tickle in his throat, and a dry cough. But we were in a dry climate hanging out in stale smoky casinos with our friend who was a smoker.

After we got home, Paul lost his job. His boss wants someone who can work year round since Paul took off last summer to run our seasonal business. This summer he was going to try to do both but probably wouldn’t have gave either business the attention it deserves. The news was rather unexpected and shocking. It creates a lot of uncertainty about the future. I think we will be okay financially, but the safety net has been taken away. As of right now, we are starting to gear up for our seasonal business this week. We have a booth at a trade show. I will start to work on the administrative end while Paul gets into sales. But after this summer, I’m not sure what is going to happen and I don’t necessarily like that.

The evening after Paul lost his job, he spent half the night coughing instead of sleeping. He heard his lungs crackle and pop. I could hear it too. The next afternoon he took a nap and slept most of the afternoon. When he awoke, he was burning up with a temperature of 103. He was still doing a lot of coughing and looked absolutely miserable. I decided to take him to Urgent Care.

The doctor thought he had pneumonia. Paul had a chest x-ray and two COVID tests, one instant and one not. The rapid test came back negative for COVID. They said they would send the results for the non-instant test through his patient portal. The x-ray came back better than expected. The doctor said he had a bad case of bronchitis, gave him a prescription for antibiotics, and he was on his way.

The following morning his patient portal said his COVID test was negative and he was starting to feel better with the antibiotics. He was feeling a little more hopeful he would be able to go on the annual ice fishing trip with the guys this weekend. Before that, he said he was like a country song. He lost his dog. He lost his job. He lost his health.

A couple days later, the day he was supposed to leave for the fishing trip, he got a call from the nurse saying his non-instant test came back positive. He was really puzzled because he thought he already got all the results back. The nurse said he had already passed the quarantine time and is no longer contagious. Since the antibiotics were working, he also had a bacterial bronchitis as well.

So, yeah, it’s been a looooooonnnngg month. I really hope we are done with problems for a while now.

Gratitude week 101

  1. I’m grateful to have a furnace that works. It was miserable to go three whole days without heat. I can’t imagine how people lived through Wisconsin winters without a furnace.
  2. I’m also grateful our boiler got fixed this week too after a month without heat in our hot tub and pool. Sadly, a critter got in and made a nest in it.
  3. I’m thankful that the pastor of the new church we are visiting came out to our house. He wants to meet with us every week for awhile. The only way I am able to find faith right now is through the faith of my grandma and I can see her attending this church.
  4. Yesterday we had a surprise visit for our old friend Vince (he is 87 years old). It was nice to see him and to know he is still his crazy wild lovable self.
  5. Last night we had our employee over for beer sampling, pizza, and the Bucks game. He is the last remaining employee to stay on with the new company that bought us out. We also hired him to work part-time for our seasonal company as well. It’s always great to spend time with him.
  6. With fresh snow on the ground and our house fully decorated, it is really starting to feel like Christmas. I love Christmas music. I created an eclectic playlist including pretty much every genre I could think of. I love this time of year. Next weekend we are having our family Christmas here with my mom and brothers. I am totally done Christmas shopping!
  7. Yesterday I helped my husband by hauling wood after he cut and chopped it. It felt good to do something productive.
  8. I really made a lot of progress on my book this week. Right now I am really focusing on the early childhood years, earliest memories up to the end of grade school.
  9. This afternoon we are heading out to support our local community theater by watching their newest production.
  10. I am grateful all my children are adults. None of them are attending school right now. Thankfully Arabella graduated in May! I couldn’t imagine all the hard decisions parents have to make right now. I got a little taste of it but I don’t have to handle that stress any longer.
  11. I just got the ankle weights I ordered in the mail. Since my joint pain is preventing me from running, I am hoping to walk with hand and leg weights to keep some of my strength. We’ll see how that works. I can also swim again since the pool is working. Maybe we can check out some yoga classes after the holidays. I have always had issues with relaxing, balance, and flexibility.
  12. After milk stout, cheese bread, and pizza last night, I didn’t get a stomachache. I’m grateful I am tolerating dairy better since my last blood work showed that I have low calcium now.

Fortune cookie wisdom #35

Only the wisest and stupidest of men never change.

A wise guy once told me that you don’t have to know everything you just need to find the person who does. Actually that is some sound advice given to me by my husband. He is a wise man but that doesn’t mean I’d want him to fix our furnace. Thankfully as of yesterday we have heat in our house again. Let’s just say I have a new appreciation of our ancestors who had to live through Wisconsin winters without heat.

Yesterday we also made the yearly trek to a nearby small town to talk to our financial advisor about our financial plans and goals, retirement, and all that fun stuff. I am pretty much there to nod my head to whatever my husband and the advisor says we should do. I probably shared before my husband has a Master’s degree in business administration. He loves finance and spends countless hours at his current job doing high level financial analysis. The three of us were joking yesterday if he buys another sailboat he should consider naming it spreadsheets.

Needless to say, my husband is very meticulous with our home finances. We live with a budget, our credit card offers cash back where my husband goes over each line on the statement to categorize every expense. Last week he mentioned he was thinking about becoming an accountant just for fun. He has helped other people and companies come up with a budget. So naturally when it comes to finance I defer all of the decisions to my husband and our financial advisor.

After the meeting with our advisor, we were happy to find out the nearby Chinese buffet is once again open. The fortune above is the one my husband received. We had a good discussion about his fortune. There is a lot of validity to this fortune. I haven’t seen wise people all of a sudden become stupid or vice versa.

I think my husband is a wise person. He successfully ran a start up business until we sold it a couple years back. He has earned the respect of others when it comes to finance. Not only that but I noticed others value what he has to say. People trust wise people. Look at the ads with doctors promoting medications or dentists for toothpaste. I can trust someone’s judgment if I think they are smarter than me. Of course that doesn’t mean I will because I am not the most agreeable person.

My husband notoriously worries about money. It’s the only thing he actually does consistently worry about. It’s funny at times because if I ask him if we can afford something he will say we can’t afford anything. It’s hard to know if it’s him or the fear talking. Every day he makes it sound like we are going to lose our house.

I understand where he is coming from. Paul was raised by a single parent. His childhood was food stamps, low income housing, and ill fitting clothes. He had the fear that the bills might not be paid and he might not have a roof over his head.

As an adult he argued with his mom about money. His mom said that a credit card was money and found herself in credit card debt. My MIL also was addicted to gambling. One time she called very upset. She said the bank called her saying they thought she might be the victim of identity theft because someone took a large sum of money out of her account at a casino. Paul asked her if she took a large sum of money out of her account at the casino and she said she did. He had to explain to her that no one stole her identity, it was her.

My MIL never graduated from high school. She tried to get a GED but couldn’t understand basic math. It’s actually quite sad. I never could understand how my husband excelled at math, money, and finance with no one to teach him any of those things. The sad part is that my husband is a good teacher but his mother was never able to learn.

Sometimes in our early years together Paul would slip his mom some money when we were leaving. I found it strange because in my family it was the other way around. Thankfully in her later years Martha married a tightwad. I think he was able to keep them afloat. It troubles me quite a bit that some of our kids are more like Martha than Paul when it comes to money. Money in the hand is money spent is not an easy way to live. I’m not sure if that will change but I think it can be improved.

This fortune is rather harsh but true. I’ve yet to see a stupid person become wise no matter how much knowledge you throw their way. I have to be careful myself I don’t fall into a pattern of unwise thinking. What about those of us who fit somewhere in the middle?? Perhaps the best course of action is to discerningly seek wisdom from those who know. But I wouldn’t want my husband to fix our furnace. Everyone is valuable in some way, we just need to find the way.

Gratitude week 96

  1. Clean sheets
  2. Cool autumn evenings sitting by the fire in our fireplace.
  3. We took our dog to the vet this week because he was still having a hard time getting around. The vet said our dog was having muscle spasms and back pain from arthritis. Thankfully we were able to put him on an anti-inflammatory medicine with pain reliever and he is doing a lot better. I’m so glad we didn’t have to put him down.
  4. I’ve come to the point of accepting where my daughter is at and am ready to get on with my own life. It’s not the life I want for her but at least she is safe right now. I’m sure there will be ups and a lot of downs on the road ahead, but as for now I am okay. I need to focus on what I can control which is getting myself healthier and stronger.
  5. Paul and I were talking this morning about our future and we decided that I would run our seasonal business. He would still have a big part in it but if I ran this business he could work year round for the other company he works for which will provide a better income for our family.
  6. Last weekend we were able to reconnect with some friends at the Halloween party. They invited us to go on vacation with them at the party. I didn’t think all that much about it until they reached out to us about it again. We decided what the hell let’s go. So for a week in January when the weather is icy cold at home we will be on the beach in Puerto Rico.
  7. I also signed Paul and I up for a couple’s retreat at a Bible camp we went to when the kids were little. Our marriage took some big blows the last couple years. It’s time to build it up again.
  8. This past week I went out for lunch with my good friend Jen.
  9. Tonight we are having a game night with my best friend and her family.
  10. Paul is on the same detox diet I was on two years ago. He is doing really well so far. He’s already lost 13 lbs. in less than a week. It really isn’t about weight loss as much as it is about getting healthy. It is a coffee, alcohol, and sugar free diet. Right now he is mainly eating vegetables. He has been making a lot of soups. He is a great cook and can make just about anything taste great so that helps. He can’t eat any meat right now but next week can add fish. I’m grateful for a husband who is always working on improving his health.
  11. I’m grateful they caught the man who attacked the woman with the baby on the trail I mentioned a couple weeks back.
  12. Angel and I went for a run this morning and the tree colors are still quite beautiful.

Gratitude week 74

  1. My daughter Arabella graduated!!!!!!!!!!
  2. We were able to go to the graduation in person! I will never complain about how boring a graduation is again either. My son’s high school graduation was very boring. But because of the pandemic my daughter Angel never had an in person college graduation and I really missed the opportunity to celebrate with her. Never again will I complain about a graduation being boring. At this point, there aren’t any more graduations for my kids in the near future. My baby graduated from high school.
  3. Paul was on the local news station talking about our business which was really exciting. We didn’t know when it was going to air so we constantly watched the news the last couple days. I probably watched the news more in the past couple of days than when COVID just came out. LOL
  4. I started doing crunches starting on May 1st. I wanted to see if it made a difference in my waist line. I lost 3 1/2 inches. So I am almost ready for my summer bikini bod. I guess it is worth it.
  5. Summer!!!!!!!
  6. Angel and I started running outside together. It’s great to share a hobby with family.
  7. Angel and I also went thrifting and out to eat for pizza over the weekend. No great finds for me but Angel was able to find some materials for her crafting business.
  8. We are opening up the summer cabin this week and I am looking forward to spending a couple of days just relaxing on the beach. It’s been a cold Memorial weekend this year. We had low temps in the upper 30’s, but by the end of the week we will have highs near 90. You never know what you are going to get around here.
  9. I’m grateful for those who gave their lives for our freedom and also for those who are serving in our military to protect us today.
  10. I’m thankful for the flowers I bought from my Uncle Rick’s greenhouse. Something about flowers and greenery makes me feel almost happy. But I will have to start pulling the weeds today.
  11. I almost forgot. This past week was my 6 year blogging anniversary. I’m pretty happy I kept with it. So I guess you are stuck with me and my stories.

The ultimatum, part 4

A business acquaintance once said that he didn’t know any business owners who weren’t alcoholics or divorced.

My husband is a visionary. But he is more than that. He is a doer. He has the ability to take his dreams and put them into action. He sees the potential in the future. I can’t see tomorrow from yesterday. I look at the past for answers, he looks at the future…what is possible.

He had this vision for a start up company. No one else in the area had this business idea, it was a new niche. Running a business is more than just doing what you are good at. It includes many moving parts; finance, sales, marketing, HR, customer service, collections just to name a few. The pressure is immense when your name is on the door and you are the only one providing a source of income for the family.

Paul worked hard even when it took years to see any fruit from his labor. He worked when he was sick. I even dragged him to the office the day after he came home from the hospital from having major surgery. Many nights he came home from work just to work some more after supper. That wasn’t even enough. He wanted to learn everything he could about business. He worked on his MBA while running a business. Most mornings he would go into the office at 5 AM so he could get a few hours of studying in before the phone started ringing.

After ten years, I joined Paul running the business for another ten years. Looking back those were some of the best years of my life. We worked well together. Running a business was rewarding but very stressful. I wanted to be in control but I didn’t want to be in charge like Paul was.

He started having a few drinks after work to take the edge off. It was his reward for a hard days work. It’s an incredible amount of stress making high level decisions that effect the lives of other people. If an employee made a mistake, it was his problem. Every month Paul had a long list of collection calls. It made me sick to hear him have to make those calls. He had to calm down angry customers when they had technology issues that he barely understood himself. He had to make sales calls where he got the door slammed in his face. His phone was always on. We could never get away from it.

Like most things in life, we rarely heard from customers when they were satisfied. They usually called when there were issues and problems.

Getting together with business acquaintances usually involved drinking. Sometimes it meant trying to keep up with the heaviest drinker. Paul would usually say he drank as much as everyone else did. I really didn’t think much about it. Then one night he called me when he was out of town and we had a 20 minute conversation. The next morning he called apologizing profusely for not calling me the evening before. I thought he was joking at first. He didn’t remember calling and having a long conversation with me the night before.

I was starting to notice a new pattern. Paul wasn’t remembering our conversations. Sometimes he would accuse me of not telling him things that I clearly remembered telling him. Sometimes he would say things that upset me and had no recollection the following morning. Talking to him was like talking to myself. Sometimes I would just walk away. Why bother? He wouldn’t remember the conversation.

I didn’t know what to do. Running a business was his life, but the stress of the constant pressure was killing him too. Nothing I could say or do could change it. Then we sold the business. Eventually the high pressure and busyness gave way to a lack of purpose and boredom which wasn’t much better…until he was back in the game with a new business.

 

Gratitude week 25

  1. I have one less teenager in my house…actually my son turned 20 this past week. I am grateful for him and the person he is becoming.
  2. My son had a mouse in his room which I am thankful for. It prompted him to clean his room to how it looked before we moved in. Now let’s hope it stays that way. My cat has the bad habit of bringing presents in the pet door.
  3. Although Paul and I really didn’t luck out in the dad department, I am grateful to have a husband who is a wonderful father to our children. That is what I celebrated on Father’s Day. I did send my dad a card though, not because he was a great dad but because I am a good person.
  4. In what can only be described as a God moment, I was able to meet someone who might be a friend and someone we could work with in our new business.
  5. I am thankful for my therapist. She called me to reschedule my appointment so I could have a double appointment for the cost of one. I have a really good team of people working to help me heal my body, mind, and soul.
  6. Summer!! I am enjoying every minute of it. I have yet to turn on the A/C in my house or car.
  7. Thanks to the coronavirus, it made it easier to transition from blonde to gray hair. People now ask if I dye it the silver color it is. It is so in right now and I don’t have to pay a cent.
  8. I went up north for the first time this season and swam in the lake.
  9. My daughter is planning on moving back home at the end of the summer and is able to keep her new job. I think she was only able to come home two or three times this year. Sadly she wasn’t able to make it home as planned this past weekend but it won’t be long until we see each other all the time.
  10. I’m grateful that our new business is doing better than we expected.

working well not working

My husband and I ran a business together for 10 years. We worked amazingly well together. Running a successful business with your spouse is a huge accomplishment that few couples wish to tackle. Both of us are rather type A task oriented people. There aren’t any back burner lists or room in our lives for procrastination. What can be done tomorrow should’ve been done yesterday. We worked together for a common goal.

At home discussions commonly were about our shared experiences. Our frustration about working with a difficult client. How we were going to solve a work related issue. Our kids got used to shop talk at the dinner table. It was a big center of our life and created a level of intimacy rarely found in most marriages.

Together we built something so amazing that it was coveted by others. It’s been over two years now since we sold our business. The new owners kept me on for the first year then outsourced my job to a centralized corporate branch. It was a huge adjustment for me.

One of my favorite ways to outrun my demons is to throw myself into the distraction of work. I didn’t have time to think about my problems because I was always too busy. I rushed to this and rushed to that. I had kids to race here and there. I had a new bigger house to clean. I filled every minute of my day. I started writing. I trained for marathons.

It was hard for me when I lost my job and my husband continued on. It was harder to push the demons down when I could finally hear the cries of my inner child. Then two out of three of my kids became adults. I was starting to feel the emptiness of losing them. My health went downhill and I haven’t fully recovered. But even worse, the foundation of my once enviable marriage started to crack.

My husband’s hours were drastically cut. He is pretty much a figurehead for the company we sold. They wheel him out every now and then as needed. But he is pretty much semi-retired. Retiring early sucks! I’m just going to say that now. It’s a huge adjustment. You really can’t do anything during the week because all of your friends are still working. It is really hard for two task oriented workaholics.

So we fought. A lot. We fought about the big things. We fought about the little things. How come we worked so well together when we had so much stress and things to do? There was no longer anything new to talk about. Our relationship got stagnant like putrid water. Everything he did annoyed me. Everything I did annoyed him. I tried to fix him. He tried to fix me. Many times we wanted to throw in the towel but we still both wanted to keep working on our marriage.

It was hard because there was nowhere to go for advice. Neither of us wanted marriages like our parents. Most of our friends are on their second or third marriages. Where do you turn? We kept talking and working through our issues, some days that was all we accomplished.

We decided to start a second business where we could once again work together. Things were going pretty well.

Then this whole coronavirus hit. Once again we were forced together with nothing productive to do. Everything we were looking forward to is now gone. My structure and routine have been replaced with chaos and uncertainty indefinitely. We are getting ready to launch our new business. How will that work in this economy? Plus the money that we were counting on living on is simply not there. Who knows when and if it will rebound? Then we started fighting again.

We are still working on our marriage. I have to be a healthy me and Paul needs to work on himself. We can’t fix each other. If I learned one thing about being married over twenty years it’s that. Both people need to be willing to work on themselves to work on their marriage. We will get through this too.