Gratitude week 130

  1. My daughter’s future MIL and I got together to plan the bridal shower and the meeting went better than expected.
  2. The bridesmaid dresses came in for my daughter’s wedding. It’s hard to believe the wedding is a little over three months away.
  3. Summer! We had a couple of really hot days, so I did break down and turn on the A/C. It’s cooled off quite a bit since then so today the windows are open.
  4. Paul and I went sailing and the weather was perfect. We were able to spend some time at the marina’s outdoor swimming pool.
  5. At the marina, I found a book I really wanted to read and finished my book so I swapped them out.
  6. Yesterday I attended the graduation party for my friend Lisa’s son. We are all grateful he graduated since it was down to the wire. I know how stressful that can be.
  7. I’m grateful to sleep in my own bed. Lisa said I could spend the night but I decided to drive home instead which meant 4 hours of driving. They were having a lot of people stay over and I have a hard enough time sleeping in my own bed medicated. Maybe it’s a PTSD thing, but if there are other people around I can’t fall asleep. I usually have to be the last person to bed and the first one up which is really hard on me.
  8. There was a time when I wouldn’t even consider driving four hours by myself. I’m grateful my driving anxiety is pretty much gone. Lately I’ve even been able to drive over tall bridges. These are things I’ve really struggled with off and on over the years. My dad would terrorize us when he was driving us as a kid and I carried that over way too long into my adult life.
  9. Life in general.
  10. After our power went out our refrigerator started making this really annoying high pitch shrieking cricket chirping sound. It was driving me crazier than I already am. The funny thing is the younger the person was the more irritating the sound was. Sometimes I couldn’t hear it, but my kids could. Or sometimes I could hear it and my husband couldn’t. The refrigerator also got really hot to the touch in certain areas. There was a problem with the fan and I’m grateful Paul was able to fix it.
One of the photos from our sailing trip.

Broken peace

Last week Paul and I had our first opportunity to volunteer at a center that offers assistance for families in need. There was someone who sticks out in my mind, a young woman in her early 20’s who was very pregnant. Apparently she usually comes in with another lady who was also pregnant. But this time she came in alone and said the friend she usually comes in with was in the hospital delivering a stillborn baby. It was heartbreaking and I didn’t even know the lady.

Later the volunteer coordinator said to us she would get through it and be fine since she has the Lord to lean on. I really hope so. Does anyone ever really get over the loss of a child? Today it’s been 4 years since my friend Lisa lost her daughter in a car accident. I still worry about my friend. It’s hard to watch her suffer and only have thoughts and prayers to offer.

I don’t know about you, but I am really horrible at having a strong faith in times of trouble. I am pretty good at doubting though. Do our prayers change the heart of God? Does he really care about the continuum of time? The truth is we are all going to die.

I’ve had to accept a lot of things. Sometimes I have fleeting moments of peace. I’ve come a long way from feeling I would never be able to climb out of the despair.

Maybe I’m forever stuck in the loop of viewing my heavenly father as my earthly father. I’m just being honest here. I felt anger towards God. I’ve had to parent my parents since I can remember. Why can’t I just walk away? Why do I feel responsible for them? I never had parents I could go to for support.

When I found out about my dad’s crime and a few months later my daughter attempted suicide, I turned to our pastor for support. But I felt like I was doing something wrong. I didn’t forgive. I wasn’t good enough or have enough faith to be blessed with a healthy family. I took advice from a pastor who had some of the best parents I’ve ever seen. He wasn’t abused. His dad wasn’t a pedophile. He wasn’t dealing with decades of childhood trauma. He didn’t grow up in a household of worry and fear. His childhood gave him good memories, mine gave me PTSD. It was like trying to get marriage advice from a priest. He couldn’t relate.

But somehow I came through it. I made my peace with God. Our new pastor is great, although I know he can not relate. Not many can. Our church has a shortage of pastors. The other day my husband said if he was younger he would’ve liked to be a pastor. I think he would make a great pastor, I would not however make the best pastor’s wife. The sad thing is Paul said he didn’t feel like he would ever be good enough to be a pastor, he is too broken.

But somehow I think it’s better to help others when you have been through it yourself. Between Paul and I, we’ve both been through a lot of hard times and maybe we can use our experiences to help others. It took me two years to get to the spot where I thought maybe I could experience joy in my life again. It took a lot of work. I still struggle. Sometimes I wonder if God cares. If you find you are having a hard time getting by with the little faith you have, you are not the only one.

I wish I had good advice to help other people in our lives who might be hurting. What did I want in my darkest days? What I wanted more than anything was to be left alone, but that also wasn’t healthy for me to isolate myself. It helped to have a couple people to talk to that didn’t treat me like something was wrong with me because they couldn’t understand. My best friend would check in on me every couple of days. Don’t just offer thoughts and prayers, look at me with pity, and go on your merry way. Ask what you can do to help. Say kind things like…I don’t know how you can stay sane. Talk about your problems with me. I felt bad when friends wanted to talk but said my problems are nothing compared to yours.

When I see others struggle with similar circumstances, I try to tell them they are not alone or that I felt the same way they did. I understand why people don’t cut their dysfunctional families out of their lives. It’s because they are a good person. They want to help. They have been conditioned from a young age to have to do things most people have no understanding about. The fear of a parent killing them self and you are the only person who might be able to stop it, fix it can not just walk away. Don’t tell someone who has lost a child to just get over it. There is no timeline for grief.

We can really hurt others with our words. But more importantly, we can offer great comfort and help. That is the true joy of suffering.

Gratitude week 129

  1. Paul and I bought and planted everything for our landscaping project.
  2. I put on clean sheets and finally took the electric blanket off our bed.
  3. Summer! We are expecting the next couple of days to be in the mid to upper 90’s with high humidity. I might have to break down and put on our A/C. It’s rarely ever forecasted to be this hot here. I could probably count on one hand in my lifetime of days where it’s been over 100.
  4. We had some powerful storms come through our area and were without electricity for almost a day and a half. I’m grateful our power is back on.
  5. I’m grateful we didn’t sustain any damage from the storm. A couple streets over had a lot of damage, a huge tree knocked down a powerline. My parents have many trees down.
  6. I’m grateful the boats in the marina are safe. A tornado went through and decimated a farm about a mile away from the marina. We saw the siding from the barn hanging in the tree across the street from it. It’s strange to see so much damage in some areas and none at all in others.
  7. I’m grateful for running water; the ability to take a shower, flush a toilet, wash clothes and dishes.
  8. I’m grateful my best friend had power so we could run over all the meat we just bought. I’m grateful for the opportunity to clean out the freezer. Something I’ve been meaning to do for a while.
  9. I’m grateful for the deafening silence without power. It gave me time to think without distractions. My cell phone died and for awhile I went off the grid like I did when I was a kid.
  10. My son turned 22 this week, one step closer to full brain development. Ha ha. He woke up to no power, a dead cell phone, not able to take a shower, and we couldn’t go sailing as planned because there was a gale warning. But, all in all, I think he had an okay day anyway.
  11. I spent some time talking alone with my son’s girlfriend. Her family life was not a lot different from mine. I think I was able to help her out as someone who understands and has been there.
  12. Paul and I volunteered at a Christian center that helps families in need. They give out free diapers, kids clothing, and support families. We think this is a great way to help people. I’m grateful for the opportunity to volunteer there.
  13. I’ve been dog sitting for my best friend all weekend. I’m grateful for the opportunity to help out and that it has taken away my desire to get a dog anytime soon. She will not leave my side and barks or whines when I leave her. She scratches on the door if I go in another room.
  14. Friday night Paul and I went to dinner and a local community theater show with our old friends Harv and Kate. They are in their upper 80’s. It’s always nice to hang out with them.
  15. Today is Father’s Day. I’m grateful that my husband and brother are wonderful fathers without having good role models. Today is a hard day for people who have difficult relationships with their dads, including me. I was unable to find my dad a card this year. They all had words such as there for me when I needed you, great example, wonderful person…you get the drill. So I suppose a phone call will suffice.
  16. I’m grateful all our kids stopped by today for Father’s Day. Our daughters (and their significant others) surprised dad by going to church with us. This is the first time our kids visited our new church.
  17. Wow, I have a long list this week. It’s amazing how grateful I am when I had to go without. There are so many things I take for granted…like running water. This has been a reminder to me of what I have.

Gratitude week 128

  1. I took an upper level sailing class, and I passed. I wasn’t sure I would.
  2. As much as I like to get away, I’m always grateful to sleep in my own bed.
  3. We purchased a quarter cow. I’m grateful to have meat in the freezer from a local farmer. I’m hoping this will save us money at the store.
  4. Paul and Angel ran a 10k yesterday. It was my daughter’s first time running a 10k and my first time watching instead of running. It was a bittersweet moment. I’m grateful I inspired my daughter to be a runner, yet was sad I could no longer run. It was a strange feeling. I felt nostalgia for the days of running, happiness watching my daughter (and husband) run, a great sadness I will never run again, and a part of me felt relief.
  5. I’m grateful as a previous runner of the race that I had inside knowledge of the best places to be an observer.
  6. Spring; warm days and cool nights. I’m trying to go the whole summer without A/C. We’ll see how far I get this year.
  7. An old friend from college was in the area and stopped by. I haven’t seen her in over 5 years.
  8. I also got an unplanned visit the same night from my best friend.
  9. After working two weeks straight, my husband has the next couple days off.
  10. I’m grateful to go out to eat with family and friends this past week.
  11. After the race, Paul made his famous homemade pizza.

On a mission

I think there are several reasons I don’t like to fly. One of them was my dad was a pilot. For a short period of time he shared a small plane with several other people. But it didn’t last long because it was very expensive. The first time I can remember being in a plane was with my dad and his instructor. It was very exciting. I also remember flying with a friend of my parents who had an airplane and landing strip in his backyard. I remember liking that as well. The people below looked like little dots from the sky.

My dad was very involved with a local aviation club. This is where I think my problem started. My dad was the head of a search and rescue crew. That meant we frequently got calls in the middle of the night about small planes that went down. The phone would ring non-stop for about an hour. Then my dad would spend the rest of the night with a crew searching until they found the plane.

My dad would field many calls in the middle of the night. I’m not sure why that’s when most of the calls came. (Maybe the calls in the middle of the night were the most memorable). There were so many calls I thought plane crashes happened all the time. The phone calls woke us kids up and it was worrisome. It seemed like dad was always on a mission.

Then every year the EAA (Experimental Aircraft Association) would attract pilots from all over the world to OshKosh, WI. Year after year my dad received reports of plane crashes from this event. Every year he volunteered at the event, but I never went. We didn’t do family things. One time my dad gave me a book about flying. It was the only thing he ever gave me. I think someone gave it to him and I gave it away without reading it.

Other than that, I only flew commercially once as a child the summer I turned 12. We went on a ‘vacation’. Meaning that my Aunt Grace, Luke, and I drove down to Texas with my mom and Matt to the hospital where we left them for the remainder of the summer. Luke and I flew back home with our aunt. It was a scary experience without our mom. It was our first time on a big plane and my brother got so scared during take off that he choked on his gum. The Dallas airport was huge. I think we got lost. Not only was our mom not with us, she wouldn’t be with us for the whole summer which we worried about. I remember crying a lot that summer. But Matt was supposed to come back healed. (He didn’t). Mom wrote us letters from the hospital, but that was about it.

Except for two early experiences of wonder, flying was paired with leaving my mother behind and a lot of calls in the middle of the night about plane crashes.

Gratitude week 127

  1. I was able to visit with Angel and Dan after not seeing them for a couple weeks.
  2. Opening the cabin up north for the season.
  3. Last minute my brother Luke came up north with his daughters. It was the first time I saw them this year. We played games, went for a hike, and sat by the campfire. It was too cold to swim yet.
  4. One thing that has taken some adjustment, my husband is gone a lot with our seasonal business. I do most of my work out of the house. That being said, I find myself alone a lot for the first time since all the kids moved out. The first night I spent at the cabin by myself. It was different. I was feeling this melancholy nostalgia. I missed my husband, the kids when they were younger, and my dog who went there with us year after year until this year since his passing. I started to feel sorry for myself. Then the next day, my brother came up with his kids and dog. The next door neighbors had kids and a dog. Kids were fighting, the dogs were always trying to get away, not to mention the noise and commotion. It was in that moment I became grateful for the stage of life I’m in. I don’t think I have the energy anymore to be chasing after kids and dogs that get away. I didn’t have to be responsible for anyone and I kind of like it.
  5. I’m grateful for the time to discover what I like to do. I really like going thrifting and to rummage sales. I did both this past week but no huge finds.
  6. Angel and Dan checked out some local city wide rummage sales and asked if there was anything I was looking for they could find, and they did! I have been looking for a motorcycle helmet for Alex’s girlfriend. He only has one and he has been taking his off to give to his girlfriend when she rides with him. Angel found a pink motorcycle helmet for Lexi, her favorite color. Her birthday is next month and I have the perfect gift. Win, win, win.
  7. My mom and autistic brother Matt went up north this weekend too. Matt is more on the severe end of the autism spectrum and is not very socially aware. Two things happened this weekend that are worth mentioning. Matt asked me if Paul was coming up north too. He didn’t ask about my kids. This tells me he somehow knows Paul and I are linked together but that the kids are grown up. I was impressed by his awareness when most of the time he is oblivious to relationships.
  8. The other thing that happened is this…We were sitting around a campfire. My mom asked my 12 year old niece Gracie to move out of grandma’s chair so she could sit there. A few minutes later my brother Matt wanted the chair, so my mom moved out of the chair to an empty chair so Matt could sit there. I called my mom out on it. My mom said she is just a really good mom to Matt. She always gives him special treatment which I am not keen of. Later, Matt wanted my chair and moved all my stuff off of it while I was tending to the fire. I told him I was sitting there and it was rude of him to take my chair when I got up to do work especially when other chairs were available. But he did it anyway and I was pissed. My mom did nothing. A few minutes later Matt came over and apologized to me. I was floored. I never in a million years thought he was going to do that. I actually thought he was coming over to me to steal the other chair I was sitting on.
  9. Matt has been involved in a day program for the last several years for autistic children and adults. It’s made a big difference in his life. I know they have been working with him a lot on social skills and how to interact with people. Matt noticed I was up north alone. But the big thing was he noticed I was irritated at him for his behavior and he apologized. My parents didn’t teach him that. My mom always wanted us to give him special treatment like she does without giving him the opportunity to learn what appropriate behavior is. I’m grateful for this program and that even though he is in his 40’s, he is learning how to interact with others in a way that is also healthy for him.
  10. I’m grateful for warm spring days and cool nights. No need for the heat or the A/C.

What should be taught?

The day I received the diagnosis of arthritis, I mailed a package. In and of itself, this fact is not very blog worthy. I mailed the package at a store which has a counter for the post office.

There was a young man, an employee of the store, that took my package. He inspected it and told me he could not read my handwriting. Specifically he could not read cursive. He needed me to translate what I wrote. I knew my cursive was not bad because back when I was in grade school my mom made me copy out of the encyclopedia (which for many years I worried I was guilty of plagiarism) so I wouldn’t have the cursive chicken scrawl of my dad. Since then no one ever said my cursive was illegible. In fact, most people said my handwriting is pretty good for someone who is left handed.

Young people are not being taught cursive in school anymore and now some of those children who weren’t taught are in the work force can’t read mail. How scary is that? I lamented to my best friend. I felt like I aged 10 years in just one day. She said someday no one will be able to read the documents our country are founded on such as the Constitution and Declaration of Independence. As if anyone is going to read them anyway. Someone must carry on the ancient art of hieroglyphics. That in and of itself is rather scary to me. If only a few are left who can read and translate they can have the power to make it say whatever they want it to say with no one the wiser. History is already being ‘changed’ because we don’t like it. How are we supposed to learn from the mistakes our country made when it was young?

My best friend also said alphabetizing is no longer taught in school, something we learned in grade school. She said she volunteered to hand out the baseball uniforms for her son’s baseball club. She had some high schoolers help her and they had no idea how to put the uniforms in alphabetical order by last name. First you start with A… Gone are the days of massive card catalogs at the library. I can’t even remember the last time I went to the library to find something out. That used to be the only place we could go to find answers. When is the last time you looked up a word in an actual dictionary or looked up something in an encyclopedia? Is alphabetization still something that needs to be taught?

Are there skills you think should be taught in school or removed from the curriculum? I always thought everyone should have some basic skills such as simple car care, budgeting, how to fill out forms such as taxes, how to balance a checking account, basic cooking, repairs etc…

One thing I found frustrating when my kids were in school is that they taught math differently. It was the same problem with the same answer with a different way to do the work making it almost impossible for parents to help their kids if needed. If something works, why fix it? Do we need countless useless updates? Is that really progress? I guess I am a stick with what works kind of person. Don’t change things for the sake of changing things.

Back when I was in high school, I took a class called shorthand along with a classroom full of girls. I should’ve taken typing instead. But shorthand was the rage. We could take notes super fast in little scribbles like on the doctor’s prescription pad. Oh wait, do doctors even do that anymore?? What a waste of time that class was. I even thought so at the time. Do you even know anyone who writes in shorthand anymore? If so, I bet no one can read it if some people nowadays can’t even read cursive. It took as much effort as learning a foreign language without the benefit of learning one. I think that’s one class we can ax. (It was probably already axed 20 years ago).

These are just some of my basic observations and thoughts without being an educator. What are your thoughts? Are there things no longer taught that should be taught? Are certain classes outdated? Should we change things that are tried and true for the sake of progress?

Timshel

I first heard of the concept Timshel in the book East of Eden by John Steinbeck. It means thou mayest in Hebrew. Timshel is saying we have a choice between good and evil. You can choose the path you take. Will others rejoice upon our passing or will there be great sadness based upon the choices we made in how we love one another. I know I am not giving the 600 page book justice with my mere 600 words.

I wouldn’t consider the book to be a happy story. But it was a feel good book because of its realistic perspective. Some of the big themes dealt with relationships between siblings, sibling rivalry, and the parent/child relationship. One of the things that really hit home for me was the struggle the characters experienced within. If my parent chooses evil, what does that make me? The book brings up the thought that although your parent may choose evil doesn’t mean that you are destined for the same choices. They have a choice just like you do.

I won’t lie to you, I sometimes struggle with this. I try hard to be a good person, but plenty of times I fall short. My dad did a lot of evil things. Does that make me evil even though I did not make the same choices he did? Sometimes I see him in myself. I hate to be reminded of him when I look in the mirror, how I talk, or how I walk. But it’s there. I have to wonder if that is the only thing there. Maybe he passed his evil down to me.

Logically, I know it’s crazy to think that, yet sometimes I do. The weight of his decisions has brought many people down. My mom is really struggling with her mental health over it. My brother Luke will not have his kids around my dad. I rarely see my brother and haven’t seen him, his wife, or my nieces yet this year. My dad is not invited to holidays. He is not invited to my daughter’s wedding. We always wonder if and when the police will be back to my parent’s house. But those are all just the external things which make life difficult and complicated.

I think the internal pain is worse. The anxiety that somewhere deep inside I might be guilty just for being his daughter like choosing evil is an inheritable trait. Sometimes I have to keep telling myself I am not responsible for my parents. I am not responsible for my adult children. I am responsible for me and my choices alone.

I don’t have a dad I can be proud of. He has brought nothing but shame to the family name. I wish I could say his choices affected only himself. If the evil choices other people make cannot be attributed to us then neither can the good. Having a child who chooses good does not equate to having good parents any more than having a child who chooses evil equate to having bad parents. Why is this so hard to understand? Why do we need something or someone to blame for the bad choices others make? It’s true some people have more obstacles than others. But is that really a good excuse? Maybe they just made a bad decision because that is what they wanted to do.

My grandparents were wonderful people. My dad, not so much.

Timshel. Everyone has a choice.

Again, I would highly recommend reading East of Eden. It’s very well written and thought provoking. It had a lot of interesting twists and turns in the classic drama by John Steinbeck. I’ve read several other books by the same author decades ago, Of Mice and Men and The Grapes of Wrath were among my favorites. I hope to read more of his books in the near future. They always have a way of making me think about things differently.

My run is over

It’s official. My run is over.

Tuesday I had an appointment with the rheumatoid doctor I waited 4 months to see. It started out a little rough. The nurse asked what tests I had done. Tests?? What? None, I replied. She said that my visit was probably a wild goose chase and they would end up sending me back to my doctor. I felt discouraged. I knew something was wrong. I mean, just this week I started having a hard time bending my toes. I am in almost constant pain. It’s more of a dull ache, but still.

Next the doctor came in. She listened to all I had to say…that I was a runner for 15 years…started having pain in my joints…having a hard time bending my toes. She did an exam. She heard my knees grind when I bent them. I can no longer bend over and touch my toes. Then there was the pain in my hands and feet. She told me I have osteoarthritis. I also have a bunion on my right foot which is a great source of my pain.

I told her that I could no longer run. The last time I ran I had a lot of back pain and a piercing stabbing pain in my ankle that would randomly come and go. She said I most likely have a bone spur on my ankle and when I would run it would pinch a nerve. The doctor said she didn’t recommend running anymore. Instead I should do low impact sports such as walking or swimming.

It’s difficult because I am sore when I get up in the morning. I’m sore if I sit too much. I can’t do any high impact exercise without a tremendous amount of pain. Even walking hurts. It just sucks. I tried walking with hand and leg weights and ended up with tendonitis in my shoulder. The doctor said I am overweight. Outside of being pregnant, I’m the heaviest I ever was. The doctor said I needed to exercise more. Yeah, I wish I could run and do everything I was able to do before. Of course I’m going to gain weight. I went from running marathons to Netflix marathons. I feel trapped in my own body. It no longer does what I want it to do anymore.

But I do feel better knowing I have arthritis. I knew something was wrong. How do you go from running to hardly being able to walk without something being wrong??

Next month Angel and Paul are running a 10k. This will be the first time I will be an observer of the sport I was once so passionate about. I am a little sad because the time I ran in races were some of the best years of my life. I felt so healthy and alive. I’ve accepted that my run is over. Recently, I donated or threw out most of my running gear. I guess it’s on to a new phase of my life whatever that will be.

I was worried (and pretty much everyone I told asked) I caused this arthritis in myself by being a long distance runner. The research says that is simply not true. You are at higher risk of developing arthritis if you are a professional athlete running 50+ miles a week which I am not. The research I found said you are more likely to develop arthritis if you are obese living a sedentary lifestyle and not as likely if you are a runner. Honestly, I don’t know why it happened to me. That’s life I guess…you just never know what’s going to happen next.

I once was a marathon runner. Now I have arthritis.

Gratitude week 124

  1. Angel started having migraines and went in for an MRI. Everything came back normal which I am very grateful for.
  2. We finished watching Ozark. I think it was one of the best series I’ve ever watched.
  3. Mom and I had a spa day which I am very grateful for since lately everything seems to hurt. If only I could go every day..
  4. We had some record breaking hot days this past week. I needed a little summer in my life. It’s amazing how everything turned green within the past couple days. The grass needs mowing and there are leaves on the trees and flowers are blooming.
  5. We were able to sail across the bay to our boats summer home. It’s nice to see all the boats back in the water again. We are gearing up for my favorite time of the year.
  6. After the spa, mom and I met with Angel for supper. My mom picked out her grandma of the bride dress. We got to the store 15 minutes before it closed. There was a dress the right size and the right color that looked great on my mom. She didn’t have time to be indecisive about the dress, so she bought it! It’s nothing short of a miracle.
  7. It was Arabella’s 19th birthday over the weekend. My baby is 19, I can’t believe it! I’m grateful she celebrated another year of life.
  8. Arabella’s apartment is ready. I’m grateful that getting an apartment was wonderful inspiration for birthday gift ideas.
  9. Arabella’s boyfriend Will was in a car accident this past week. He took a curve a little too fast and hit a tree. I’m grateful he didn’t get hurt. Although his car has some damage and is in the shop, he doesn’t have to get a new car.