Be loved, beloved

I grew up in a simpler time. Back when I was young, there were only two genders.

My how times have changed! I always thought I would stay young and keep up but I find myself old and out of touch. I don’t understand although I do try. My daughter Arabella was trying to explain everything to me. I had a hard time understanding certain things like gender fluidity. She had a friend that changed genders several times throughout the day. She also had a friend that didn’t want to ascribe to any gender at all.

I thought things were hard in the early high school years when she wanted a birthday party sleepover with friends that were gay and in a relationship together. Now her best friend went from a female to a male and is dating a male that identifies as a female. It was time for the birthday party sleepover again. She wanted all the kids to sleep together in one room. Since the male identifies as a female, can he sleep with the girls? Umm, no! But mom! It was more complicated since he was dating someone of the opposite gender. I have always been against mixed gender sleepovers. But now the lines are blurred and I am some kind of phobe.

I didn’t want someone who was underage and dating sleeping together in my house period! I was especially uncomfortable because their parents did not know. I am also against going behind other parent’s backs when it comes to decisions with their kids. God forbid if someone gets pregnant at a sleepover at my house! But mom, they are not going to do anything because they feel too uncomfortable with their own bodies. Why are they dating then? I wasn’t born yesterday!! Thank God for COVID as the traditional birthday party sleepover didn’t happen.

I try to call her friends by the names and pronouns they have chosen although their parents never address them by those names or pronouns. What I also thought was unusual is that they chose gender neutral names like Jordan, Blake, Alex, Casey, Jessie/Jesse, or Erin/Aaron. I would think they would want more gender specific names.

I asked Arabella what her part was in this community. Are you an ally? No mom, I’m gay. That is how I found out.

My first reaction was to think that perhaps she was mistaken. But it did take a lot of courage on her part to tell me. She worried whether or not people would accept her. How were people at church going to accept a gay atheist? What about family?

At first I even blamed myself because that is what I do. What did I do wrong? Why is my daughter struggling so much?

Then I questioned everything I ever was told and/or believed. Was she born this way? Or was there some choice involved? Is it a sin? To be honest I never really thought much about it. There is a lot of debate about this topic even within the Christian community. So I decided to read the Bible and do a little research myself to come up with my own understanding.

But regardless, as a parent, I did not want to be in a place where I had to choose between my daughter and my church. It didn’t come down to that, but I felt conflicted. In all honesty, I still do. It’s all very confusing for me too.

I have chosen to love my children, all my children, regardless of whether I agree with their choices in life or not. If Jesus taught us anything, it’s to love. He never told us to condemn, judge, or hate.

Be loved, beloved.

Gratitude week 59

  1. I’m grateful that the moving out process is pretty much done with our son. We moved him out on the coldest day so far this year, the coldest it’s been since two years ago. It felt really good to rearrange the bedrooms and create an office out of his room. Plus it gave me the opportunity to go through and get rid of stuff that I haven’t used in awhile.
  2. Right before we got the bitterly cold weather a week and a half ago, eight inches of snow fell. Because the cold temps came right after a massive snowfall, our side roads are all icy. My daughter Arabella got a popcorn shell caught in her newly emerging wisdom tooth that she couldn’t get out. The only time she could get in to the dentist was 7 AM. I told her she needed to preheat her car with the subzero temps but she didn’t because she was running short of time. This did not allow her enough time for her windshield to properly thaw out. She ended up clipping a mailbox before sliding into the ditch. She gained some experience driving on icy roads. I’m grateful that she didn’t get hurt and that her car is fine. I’m grateful that her driver’s ed instructor stopped to ask if she was okay. I couldn’t even make this crap up.
  3. I’m grateful to finish my travel series.
  4. I had a nice time shopping this week with my son for things he needed to move out.
  5. When I was in Hot Springs a diamond popped out of my wedding band. I took my ring in to get fixed under our insurance policy and they said the prong for my center diamond popped off as well. It will cost over $250 to fix. They suggested creating a new ring out of my existing ring as my old ring was very worn. Here’s to having a marriage that lasted longer than the wedding ring!
  6. I’m chilling next to a hot fire on a cold day. I’m grateful for fireplaces and hot tubs!
  7. I started a puzzle today. Here’s to sedentary winter hobbies!
  8. My mom is going in for her second COVID shot tomorrow. I’m grateful that I will be able to see her again soon.
  9. On this Valentine’s Day, my husband is working. I am grateful to have a loving husband who is willing to work hard for his family. When he gets home, I am making crab legs for supper. I’m grateful to spend the day at home and for the technology to catch church online.
  10. I know it sounds sappy, but this Valentine’s Day I am grateful for love and life. For this moment life is good and I will hold on to it as long as I can.

Gratitude week 7

  1. Another compliment on my hair this week. Again, it was after I ran 8 miles and hadn’t washed it in like 4 days. Gross! The lady loved my hair and asked what color it was. I replied that my hair is gray. She thought I dyed my hair, but instead I am not coloring it anymore.
  2.  After spending the week in California, Paul passed the class he was taking. Not everyone else did. I am grateful for a smart husband interested in life long learning.
  3.  Due to stormy weather in Chicago, my husband’s Wednesday night flight home was cancelled. He rescheduled his flight for Thursday which also got cancelled. Thankfully he was able to catch another flight home on Thursday. Thankfully his trip was delayed on the back end so he didn’t miss any of his classes.
  4.  I was grateful to have my brother Luke and his family spend the weekend here. We haven’t seen them in two months and it was great to visit.
  5.  Paul and I had a double date on Valentine’s Day with Luke and his wife Emily.
  6.  I’m thankful I was able to have some deep conversations with Luke, Emily, and Paul.
  7.  I’m grateful my husband was able to make it home in time to meet up with a good friend who is moving away.
  8.  I’m grateful that I found a book on Complex PTSD. I started it this week and so many things are making sense to me now.
  9.  I am grateful to try another new therapy this week in hopes of additional healing.
  10.  I am grateful for a quiet week ahead.

The language of love

Many years ago, I read a book about love languages. The basic premise was that people give and receive love in 5 major ways:

  1. Quality time.
  2. Acts of service.
  3. Gifts.
  4. Words of affirmation.
  5. Physical touch.

I wrote my love language in the order I like to receive love. It’s complicated though and sometimes I wonder if I unconsciously avoid receiving love.

For example, quality time is the number one way to show me love. However, even though I am currently not employed, I have a long list of things I need to get done every day. I am not the type of person who will drop everything to sit and talk to you. In fact, that rather annoys me to be interrupted while I am in the middle of something.

I leave the ringer off on my phone. I avoid answering calls. I will only answer texts between tasks. One might ask if I really enjoy quality time. If you catch me early in the morning while I am having my coffee or late at night when my chores are done I will gladly spend time with you.

Let’s talk about my second love language, acts of service. This is also complicated. I never ask people for help. If people jump in and help me, it bothers me if they do it wrong (i.e. not my way). I also hate to sit and watch someone else do my job. If you do your job then I feel like it is really not an act of service for me. Again, I am refusing to be loved.

I prefer to show people I care about them by doing acts of service. I would gladly work my fingers to the bone to show people I love them in this way. But no one in my house really feels loved in that way. It’s frustrating.

My husband is a words of affirmation guy. I am horrible at this. It’s pathetic really. I have been blogging for 4 years now. Unless I am on vacation, I have consistently wrote at least once a week since then. I don’t seem to run out of things to write about, but somehow can’t think of any encouraging things to say to him.

My husband’s mother was great at encouraging words. His mother really didn’t have much to offer. She was an uneducated single teenage mother who struggled to make ends meet. Yet she told him he could do anything he put his mind to.

I, on the other hand, struggle with affirming words to say. I am the ‘good job’ type of person, not the “I’m so proud of you for building a successful business out of nothing” type of encouraging.

It doesn’t come naturally. Encouraging words seem in-genuine. You see, I’m not really sure that you can do anything you put your mind to. I feel like I am lying when I say what his mother said. If I say something nice, you can bet I really mean it though. It’s easier for me to say something encouraging after the fact. A ‘wow you did it’ is a lot easier than an “I know you can do it” because like you, I worry you can’t.

Maybe it really doesn’t matter how we give or receive love as long as we make the effort to speak each other’s language.

 

De-roling

My daughter Arabella said something interesting the other day. Yesterday I told you that I found a new friend from the theater who is also a runner. Arabella said she didn’t know if she liked my new friend or if it was just her character that liked her. Interesting! My daughter was the maid of my new friend in the show. They had a really close stage relationship.

It really got me to think about acting. The last two shows I’ve had stage husbands. I am absolutely in love with both guys, although I would probably never date them if I was single.

This past show, I was in a romantic scene with my stage husband. We were supposed to kiss. But since I am married, the kiss on the lips turned into a kiss on the cheek. How was I supposed to muster up feelings for a complete stranger that I wasn’t remotely interested in and make it look convincing? I had to pretend to be in love with someone I wasn’t in love with.

My husband also had roles where his character was married to another woman. He was married to one woman on stage twice. It really didn’t bother me all that much. But there was another woman he was married to where we ended up stepping down from our roles. This woman was completely gaga about my husband and rubbed it in my face while I played the part of their maid. It didn’t work out well at all. Later she ended up leaving her husband for someone she was in a show with at the theater.

Surprisingly, these things happen in a community theater. Rumor has it that in a previous show a stage husband and wife slept together although they were both married to other people. I could probably write a play about all of the things that happen backstage and call it fiction because no one would ever believe half the stuff was true.

It is strange that while working with someone very closely on stage, you get to know them very quickly. I built relationships within a few weeks that otherwise would take me years to build. I had to feel comfortable working with my stage husbands if I was going to pull it off.

I’ve also had parts in the last two shows where I had to hit people on stage. This past show I had to hit my stage husband. The show previous to that, I had to hit my stage child. I really don’t feel comfortable hitting people, even more so people I don’t know. We really had to work together as a team to make it seem natural because in real life it wasn’t.

But some of the best shows I’ve been in I have had parts where I was married to my husband on stage. We’ve had people ask of if we were married to each other after the shows because if we weren’t we would no longer be married. Being married on stage and off is so much easier to pull off.

Then just like that, the show is over. Do I really like that person I was supposed to be in love with? Or was it just the role I was playing? Reality blurs a bit. I find myself forming friendships with people that I probably wouldn’t otherwise associate with. People of all ages and backgrounds come together for the common goal of putting on a good show.

I have been in enough shows now to know what to expect. As I’ve dealt with the anxiety and excitement of being on stage, I’ve also dealt with the sadness when it is over. For a short period of time, we become family. Then the family falls apart.

The cast members are making plans to get together again. But it won’t be the same. I am just glad for the experience and the friends I’ve made along the way. It’s time to say good-bye to my character, one of my all time favorites. It’s time to de-role until the next show.

I find it interesting with all of the time spent building a character, no one mentions once how to tear it back down and let go. Sometimes that can be more difficult. It makes me wonder how professional actors are able to do it. From all of the tabloids, I see that it doesn’t always work out well for them either.

 

BVI, day 8

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**This is a picture of the sailboat we stayed on.**

I was very happy that we awoke this morning without fish poisoning!

As the week progressed, my mood improved. We only had a few more days left. Any problem that might have occurred while we were gone was only a few days from a possible solution. My anxiety abated kind of like a reverse homesickness.

Our plan for the day was to sail to Little Harbor 2 1/2 hours away. It is Valentine’s Day. Stan surprised Angela with a big heart shaped box of chocolates. Kind of made the other gift less guys feel bad.

The wind was still very strong. When we got to Little Harbor, there wasn’t much to see and it was getting hit directly by the wind. No other boats were moored there. We decided to go to the next harbor. The next harbor was very picturesque, however there wasn’t an empty mooring ball to be found there. We decided to go to Tortola instead.

The harbor in Tortola was the busiest place we stayed at. We could see signs of hurricane damage there. A powerboat was laying on its side on shore. There was a crane working on the shoreline. There were houses without roofs with boarded up windows.

We went to shore to explore and asked where we could find a nice place to eat for Valentine’s Day. Someone said what sounded to me like My Ex which was rather troublesome considering the day. I apparently misheard the man because when we got there, it was called Myetts.

We checked out the restaurant by getting a drink at the bar. Then each couple reserved their own table for the evening meal that night. The girls left the guys at the bar and went shopping. The store within the restaurant area was very fancy and overpriced. We didn’t buy anything and wandered out the back door.

There were a couple local vendors set up outside. I found a cool red sailing shirt for Paul and decided to get it for him for V-day. I also bought a little gift for my mom for helping out at home. The vendors were very nice and told us about life after the hurricane. They said that some people still did not have roofs. There were many houses we saw with tarps for a roof. They said not only did the hurricane destroy their property, it kept tourists away for the season that they rely on to make a living. They were very thankful for the small purchases we made.

On the way back to the sailboat, we saw many chickens and kittens wandering the streets. The animals congregated at a dumpster that was overflowing with both garbage and recyclables together. A man walked by and pitched an aluminum can at the dumpster that scared a rooster from his task of finding food. There were two watch dogs that were tied up guarding a beautiful house that was damaged and had building supplies outside. They looked bored and didn’t bother to bark when we walked by.

I gave Paul his gift when we got back to the sailboat. He felt bad that he didn’t get me anything. Paul asked Tim if he wanted to take a quick trip back to shore with him. That evening as we got ready to go out we could hear the music of the steel drums on shore. Paul and Tim came back from their little trip bearing gifts. We got all dressed up and took nice couple pictures as the sun was setting.

Paul and I had the best dinner yet. He had lobster and I had the lobster mac. The restaurant had a DJ that played the sappiest love songs of the 70’s and 80’s. It was a little much and we were looking forward to getting together with our group to listen to the steel drums afterwards.

On the way back, we passed the nice house with the watch dogs. One dog was sleeping on a pile of lumber. I (of course!) worried if the dogs had food or any water on the hot day. I wasn’t going to go any closer to find out. There were times I had to remind myself that I was in a foreign country. I couldn’t save the people from their poverty. I couldn’t take the dirty dumpster kittens home. But I wanted to.

We made a quick stop at the small store for provisions. I scooped up whatever craft beer I could find which amounted to 4 bottles of British Island’s Summer Ale. We talked to the local people. Then we headed to the steel drum bar for a drink just as they were packing up the steel drums. Bummer!

After today we will only have one full day left on the sailboat.

 

The wedding of my best friend’s son

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There is a time in your life when you get invited to a lot of weddings. For a long period of time, that time was over for me.

Last year the last of my friends turned 40. Last year the first of my friends started turning 50.

It’s strange, I’m starting to get invited to weddings again. This time for my friend’s children. Ted turned 50 this last week and ended the week with his 25 year old son getting married.

Ted and Cindy are very excited that their son choose a wonderful partner to marry. I suppose as parents you couldn’t ask for more.

The wedding itself was held outdoors in a garden. It was a little stressful because it was supposed to rain. We could hear thunder in the distance all morning. I worried that perhaps I missed the call that the wedding would be moved elsewhere. We were in the boonies with limited cell phone reception. We brought umbrellas, but didn’t end up needing them.

Despite the forecast, the wedding went without a hitch unless you count the bride and groom. The ceremony itself was short and sweet. The longest part of the wedding was the procession with somewhere around 10 couples that stood up. The pastor was a newly ordained friend of the groom. There wasn’t a sermon. We didn’t sit long enough to shift around on the hay bales.

That evening at the reception hall, I felt a little old. I was tired. I felt rather mopey. Cindy was having a great time and dragged me out on the dance floor. I made a conscious effort to get out there and have fun. We were at a wedding, a grand celebration of love. I am a marathon runner for crying out loud. I can’t be sitting around watching the young folks dance.

I knew their son since he was little.

I really wasn’t expecting to feel nostalgic. I wasn’t expecting that I would need to hold back tears as the bride walked down the aisle with her dad. I wasn’t expecting to have watery eyes thinking about kids growing up and leaving. I wasn’t expecting to feel pensive and sad on a very happy day. Emotions can be funny that way…

I’m not ready for this.

This was the first wedding of a close friend’s child. I didn’t expect that it would be so emotional.

I love weddings…

 

The cabin in the woods

Things have been getting a little rough on here lately…so I’ll do what I always do after some rough posts…lighten things up a little.

One thing I am really thankful for is having some really good friends.

A couple months ago, Harv and Kate invited us over to talk about our trip to Thailand. But we never got to sit down and talk about it because they kidnapped us and took us to see a musical. They are adventurous and fun. Never mind that they are almost twice my age.

This time they invited us out to their rustic log cabin in the woods. Rustic as in no running water. No internet. No phone reception. We saw deer on the path on the long winding road in. It was a calm peaceful place that made me leave my worries behind.

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The first thing we did after getting the tour of their cabin was to take a ride out to their tree house for cheese and wine. It was very charming.

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Harv and Kate took the log cabin from another location and rebuilt it themselves. The cabin and shed looks like it came right off the set of Little House on the Prairie. I couldn’t believe how much work they put into it. It is unbelievably beautiful and I wish we could’ve stayed more than a few hours.

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They set up a charcoal grill on the porch to grill the venison from the deer that Kate shot from the tree house. The food they prepared for us was fantastic despite not having any modern conveniences.

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This is a sneak peak at the inside of the cabin.

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There is a little creek that runs nearby the cabin.

There is something very special about having old friends. They have been married longer than we have been alive and they have so much knowledge to share. They are eccentric, adventurous, and very happy to share their lives with each other. I hope that someday someone can say the same about Paul and I.

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 #4

Good beginning is half done.

This one seems rather obvious.

It serves as a reminder that my life is half over.

Midlife.

Soon I will be 44. Will I make it to 88? I think so..

It is scary to think about. Death, decline..

 

I fear death. Maybe by the time it happens I’ll be ready for it.

I fear decline even more. I want to always have the energy that I have today.

Or maybe it means that my marriage is half over. We’ve been married almost 21 years. Will we make it to 42?

I fear the death of my spouse. He is 6 years older. Plus women outlive men by 6 to 8 years. So just doing the math, I should outlive my husband by 13 years. So if I live until 88, he would live until I’m 75 which would be 46 years of marriage. My estimates based on nothing makes it pretty close to being half over.

I worry about that, I honestly do. I have longevity on my side, Paul not so much. My parents already outlived Paul’s only parent.

Maybe if I find his real father, I will find longevity on his other side. But then again, maybe not.

The first half of my life went by so terribly fast.

I think this serves as a reminder to enjoy every day of breath we are given. Don’t take life for granted. Take time to listen and love. Remember what is really important.

You will not be here forever and neither will the ones that you love.