Under construction

I just wanted to let everyone know that I am planning to take some time off to make some changes to my WP site. I am getting email! Now you can contact me and tell me how wonderful I am, or that I suck…Welcome to the 1990’s Alissa!

Anyway, my site will be under construction and quite frankly so will I.

This weekend hell week starts at the theater. So I will be busy every night at the theater getting ready for the big production. I won’t have a lot of time to write and reflect.

Plus, this is awful, but I really haven’t started Christmas shopping yet. Hello December!

So bear with me if dust collects on my site faster than the snow falls in WI. I will be back once some of this craziness ends with a new and improved site (and hopefully a new and improved me).

Fortune cookie wisdom #13

The luck that is ordained for you will be coveted by others.

 

I want you to think of the most beautiful person, the most talented athlete, the richest acquaintance, the biggest blogger you follow, and the most intelligent person that you know…Close your eyes if you must…

They are lucky, right? I mean, otherwise you would be as great as they are.

Admit it, you are jealous just like I am.

Don’t we want what makes them great?

But they have struggles too.

Maybe we just can’t see them.

The most beautiful girl has the best of luck. She can get any guy that she wants. She knows that her beauty has opened many doors that for others are closed. But she feels alone because no one seems to get past her looks and see the real beauty inside of her.

The most talented athlete has the best of luck. He is sure to win almost every game. But no one sees the pressure to perform, to continue being the best. His fans only love him when he is at the top of his game.

The richest girl in the room has the best of luck. She throws the biggest and best parties. When she goes to bed at night she wonders if the same people would be her friends if she was poor.

The biggest blogger has the best of luck. He scribbles some dribble and has over 100 likes. He spends hours every night responding to the hundreds of comments of people that he doesn’t know and not sure he would even like. He starts writing to appeal to the masses and losses part of who he is in the process.

The most intelligent girl has the best of luck. She aces every test. It comes easy to her to succeed. But she has no one to talk to because they don’t understand things at her level. She is expected to solve everyone’s problems and to do more than her fair share in group projects at school and at work because she is so much smarter. She often feels overwhelmed with the weight of her responsibilities.

All of these people have haters.

They have people that would give anything to be more like them.

So no one cares, no one listens..

There are things that are not acceptable for them to ever talk about to people who aren’t as “lucky”..

Oh, poor you…you can get any guy you want and you complain that they are only interested in your looks….I wish I was half as beautiful as you.

Poor you, you always have to perform at the top of your game and can’t handle the pressure…I wish I was coordinated enough that people would want me on their team.

Poor you, you are so rich that you can afford anything you want…Who cares if your friends are real?? I wish I could just pay my bills on time.

Poor you, you are so popular online that you have to take hours of your limited time to respond to every comment. I wish a couple of people would read what I write.

Poor intelligent successful you, you have to be surrounded by idiots all of the time…because face it, no one is as smart as you. I wish I didn’t have to work so hard for something that comes easy for you.

Even the “luckiest” people in the world have their struggles.

But why bother listening because we already know how wonderful it must be to be them…The grass is so much greener over there that I can’t even see how it blends in with the weeds..

Maybe being average is not so bad after all…

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.

 

The Sunshine Blogger Award

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Thank you Lana Cole for nominating me for the sunshine blogger award. Maybe you thought with all of the spring snow we have received lately that I might need a little sunshine in my life. Check out Lana’s blog at https://colecampfireblog.com. She has a warm and welcoming family blog, plus she is vegan. She is very adventurous, fun, and posts some awesome photos too.

Here are the rules for being nominated…

  • Thank the blogger that nominated you in the post and link back to their blog
  • Answer the 11 questions the blogger asked you
  • Nominate 8-11 new blogs to receive the award and write them 11 new questions
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award Logo on your post and/or in your blog

Here are the answers to the questions I was asked:

1. Twizzlers or Red Vines?  I’m not sure if I ever had Red Vines before. I had to Google what it was…But as far as licorice goes, I like red licorice but am not a fan of black licorice.

2. Favorite super hero?  I had to ask my husband about this one. I like the whole super hero idea, but can’t say I have a favorite. My husband jokingly said that he is my super hero. Awww…sappy, I know. But I’m going to go with that.

3. If you could live inside a book or game which one would it be and why?
I would live inside of a book. It has to be a super good book, like a bestseller…but one that I don’t know the ending to so I don’t get bored. A psychological thriller would be fun. Maybe I could be a serial killer profiler. But I would not want to be killed or have anyone I know be a victim in this story.

4. If you could travel in time, would you go to the future or the past and why?
One thing I discovered about myself through blogging is that I really enjoy history, specifically family history. That being said, I would go back in time and get to know my ancestors. I’ve always longed for more than just names and dates.

5. Who is your favorite comedian?  This one was tough too. I recently found a comedian I like out of our state by the name of Charlie Berens. He takes our culture to the extreme so it is rather funny.

6. You are a huge success as a song writer… What type of music do you write songs for?  Unfortunately, I would probably be a song writer for country music.

7. If you were in the 2020 summer Olympics what event would you medal in?
Realistically, I probably wouldn’t medal in anything. It sure would be fun to be a really fast runner though.

8. If you could only drink one type of beverage for the rest of your life, what would it be? (NO Ryan, you can’t switch from a light beer in the morning to a full strength beer in the afternoon…)    It would probably be water. But if I didn’t need it to survive, I would probably pick beer.

9. What is your favorite board game?   Loaded Questions. In the game, you are asked questions similar to these and then you have to figure out who wrote down what response.

10. If you were going to stumble on to a wild animal, what animal would you be most afraid of encountering?   I would really be afraid to encounter a polar bear. First, those things are huge. Second, I would really be worried if arctic animals moved into Wisconsin with the weather we have been having recently.

11. What is your favorite blog post you have written and why?   I can’t choose a favorite post, it’s almost like picking a favorite child. I’ve been blogging for almost 3 years now…so this is really hard. Maybe you can help me out with this one by telling me your favorite topics that I write about…or subjects you want to hear more about..

Here are the blogs I nominate…

jeffrab.com

Here are my questions for you…

1. What is your favorite topic to blog about?

2. Do you prefer salty or sweet?

3. Do you consider yourself an introvert or an extrovert?

4. Where is your number one place you would like to visit?

5. Where is the most beautiful place you have ever traveled to?

6. If you were forced to pick one…Are you beauty, brawn, or brains?

7. What is your birth order?

8. What book/movie closely resembles the story of your life?

9. What is the temperature outside right now?

10. What is the last thing you ate?

11. What is your favorite hobby?

Thanks for participating. I look forward to hearing your answers.

Keep writing!

 

Old friends

Paul and I stayed out late last night.

This may sound weird, but Paul and I have several really good friends that are in their 80’s. It is scary, really, becoming close friends with people of that age. I wonder why they like us so?? Are we but little birds that they have taken under their wings?

Sometimes people just seem to come into your life for no reason.

We started becoming close friends with Vince a couple of months back. We jokingly called him the mafia guy. He has a lot of connections. He seems like a guy you wouldn’t want to mess with. He can be upfront and intimidating, but has earned a lot of respect. Mainly, though, he is entertaining and people like him. When his wife passed away last year, I’ve never seen more people attend a funeral.

Vince lovingly took care of his wife (who was wheelchair bound since we met them several years back) without complaint. After she passed away, I wrote a letter to Vince saying that they were the perfect role model of how a marriage should be. I didn’t really know much about his life at the time.

I think most old people have their life together, and most of them do at their age. But I have this stereotype that they have always had their lives together. After we started to get to know Vince, I realized that I didn’t want a marriage like his. It was awful.

Maybe everyone’s life is majorly messed up but they keep it hidden away. Everything looks perfect on the outside.

Am I the only one that struggles with my teenagers? Am I the only one that is depressed when I have so many things to be joyful about?

We can’t show the world that we are hurting. We also feel like we can’t share our joys because other people are without. So we hide behind this mask of normalcy.

I am okay. How are you?

I think the truth is that only a few people will open up that door for you to see what is really going on inside. Then you can really see all of the colors in bright hue.

I hate small talk, but hardly share with people the real me. (Except, apparently, with all of you)!! It seems easier somehow to write about it. I don’t know why. Maybe because I have control over what I tell you. I never shared my full story with anyone except my husband. But here I am. My life is an open book. But if you knew me in real life, no offense, I probably wouldn’t talk to you about any of this.

How are you? I’m fine. Not much is going on…nothing new. I wish I could tell you..

We also have plans later this month to get together with Harv and his wife. They, like Vince, are in their mid-80’s. Last year Harv was having some health problems and sold his sailboat. He ended up finding out that his health issues were related to a reaction from a medication he was taking. He is in good health now, but his boat is gone.

Perhaps it is strange that we have more plans this month with our elderly friends versus friends our own age. What is the attraction?? They are real people. They are ready to talk about their lives. There is so much knowledge to learn from them.

But why do they like us??

Why should age matter?

Does it matter in a friendship??

The hardest part for me is that it is going to hurt so much when we lose them.

The 5%

If I look back, I would say that I’ve always been a writer of some sort. But is it strange that I never wanted to write a novel?

I wrote a story once when I was in grade school about a grown up version of me that started a home for girls from troubled families. I imagined during the school day that my home for girls was at the school. I don’t remember much about what I wrote. In middle school, I deemed the story as crap and threw it away.

After that I started keeping journal after journal of the darkest years of my life. I have been working on going through them slowly, as not to sink back down.

I started finding pen pals. Some were from foreign countries. I wanted to learn about their lives. There was a girl from Brazil that didn’t write in English. I had the hardest time finding someone to translate Portuguese. The best I could find is someone who knew Spanish. I could only read a line or two from every letter.

Then the internet came along and I got more pen pals(?) using dial up to get on my email.

I still don’t have an interest in writing a novel. I want to write about my own life.

I have had some very deep lows that seemed to sweep the ocean floors. I have had some pretty big highs that launched me out of this very atmosphere. Both are hard to write about honestly.

My experiences have been very unique, but my feelings are universal.

I learned that it is important to do what I want in life regardless of what others think. I live by this motto and refuse to be put in a box. People complain about everything I do anyway. So, who cares?

But yet I struggle.

Last week I lost a friend, my last pen pal from the dial up days. In the almost 20 years that we have been friends, I visited her twice. She unfriended me, along with her husband and daughter.

What is it about me that she didn’t like?? Was it because I took my daughter to the Lana Del Rey concert?? Was it because I visited the Buddhist temples in Thailand? Is it because I like to have fun once in awhile?? I don’t fit very well into the Christian box sometimes. Or maybe it was because I never replied to her last message. I was intending to.

It hurt. I tried to brush off the feelings of rejection.

95% of the time I don’t care what others think of me. It is the 5% that trips me up and prevents me from sharing the full story. I am afraid that you will reject me too. I’ve been feeling troubled about this the last couple of days.

Maybe I shouldn’t share as much as I do.

What are your thoughts?

What do you do?

If I do tell you, maybe you will reject me too.

I want to share my life story with you, but sometimes the 5% holds me back.

What’s next?

This year my husband is going to be 50.

We recently went to Thailand to celebrate our 20th anniversary.

I don’t want to do that anymore…have a reason to travel.

Our first trip out of the country together was an extended weekend in Jamaica for our 10th wedding anniversary. It wasn’t worth all the time traveling to get there late on Thursday night and head home Monday morning. We didn’t know much back then. My husband was 40 the first time he was on an airplane.

For our 15th anniversary, we took our second trip out of the country together to St. Lucia.

Our third trip out of the country was to Thailand for our 20th anniversary.

I don’t want to have a reason to travel anymore if that is something we both want to do.  It shouldn’t just be for big anniversaries. Things change. We couldn’t go before. We didn’t have the money. The kids were little. We just started a business.

Now we have financial security. We will have an empty nest in 3 years. We will be thinking about retirement within the next 10 years.

My husband will be 50. We love to travel. We have the next 10 years to do all the traveling we can before we start thinking about slowing down. Paul’s only parent died in her 60’s.

We want to get away every winter. Next year we are planning on renting a catamaran to sail around the Caribbean British Virgin Islands with friends.

I want to visit all of the continents. I’m not sure about Antarctica yet. Wisconsin winters are bad enough. I’m serious about doing this. It was scary at first. I worried about flying, being uncomfortable, not liking the food, etc… Everything new is scary at first. But if you take the first step, you’ll want to start running.

I don’t want to just visit the continents. I want to immerse myself in it. I really have a passion to learn foreign languages. I would like to be fluent in Spanish and German. I love photography and writing. I might look into what it would take to be a travel writer. I could easily write something like I’ve been doing the last couple of weeks.

The time to do this is now. I can’t continue to watch the years slip away. I don’t want to look back in regret. It’s time for a second wind. I want to finish this race strong.

Paul’s journey, part 10

I’m going to conclude Paul’s journey today.

Wow, that came across as a little harsh. Almost like I will be waiting at the door for him with an arsenic cocktail.

What I meant to say is that I will finish telling the story today. The story isn’t over, in fact some might say it is just beginning..

I just wanted to get the point across that Paul grew up poor starting his life in the inner city of Chicago without a father born to a teenage mother that dropped out of high school.

He had a dream of starting a business. After working very hard for almost 2 decades he saw his hard work come to fruition.

The American dream is alive and well. If Paul can do it, anyone can. The odds were against him. He is a self-made man.

It has been a huge adjustment. I don’t think the fear of not being able to make ends meet will ever go away for Paul. Being poor is so ingrained into who he is. It is a bit of an identity crisis.

I wrote a couple of series on this blog before. This was by far the hardest. If I wanted to do an adequate job of it, it would probably take me at least 6 months of writing his story everyday. I’m not going to do that here. I get bored of hearing broken records (if that is a thing anymore). I like changing things up.

So I will share with you my life. The joys, the heartaches, the journey. All of it..

I want to write a book someday about Paul’s life. It is very inspirational and remarkable story. I may just write it to leave behind for future generations. I would have to get a lot more detailed information. I told Paul that I would be writing a series about him. One day I grilled him for information while we went cross country skiing. He asked me if I would stop asking him questions about the dark days that past and we could focus on the beauty of nature on the trail instead.

Paul doesn’t spend as much time in the past like I do. He focuses more on the future.

I also found it challenging because the story isn’t over yet. I wrote a series previously about eccentric family members that passed away. I found it easier because that story is over now. There are certain things that I can grab onto and remember, but there will never be any more stories.

I have been with Paul over 20 years now. A lot has happened since we met. There was a lot that happened before we met that I couldn’t share from personal experience. I worried that my information might not be accurate enough for my liking. Also, how do you narrow down 23 years together into 10 series? To do an adequate job I would have to do a lot of thinking, note writing, and question asking. I would need an outline of sorts. Sounds like a lot of work for a hobby and I’m a marathon runner.

Plus another thing I wasn’t expecting was how my feelings got in the way. For example, if I was planning on writing a post that was positive and encouraging about Paul but we just got into a fight…how do I brush that aside?? It seems fake. He is the best thing that ever happened to me…but I want to conclude his story right now with arsenic just doesn’t give the right feel. Seriously, all is well.

All I can say was that it’s been a wild ride. I wasn’t really expecting that.

Switching gears

As we speak, my daughter is on her way back to college. This is the first time that she doesn’t want to go back. It is because we are cool and all that. Seriously though, it is amazing having a child that wants to hang out with you versus having one that finds you annoying. She is finally able to see us as we really are.

To tell you the truth, I think parenting is a sham. We try to act like someone else around our children. We want them to be better than us. Part of the way we do that is try to hide our weaknesses and mistakes from our children. We nag our teens about being responsible and cleaning their rooms when we were back talking brats that lived in a pig sty like they do. Then suddenly they become adults. For better or worse, the blinders come off. We realize that our child has become a friend because she is really just like us.

We don’t have to lie to her anymore. We don’t have to tell elaborate stories about the tooth fairy, Easter bunny, or Santa. We don’t have to show fake excitement for stupid children’s songs or TV shows. When Angel was little, she was really into Barney. I sure am glad that is over now. If I had to listen to another song about cooperation and sharing from a purple dinosaur while my kids sat in front of the TV and fought, I would probably lose it.

Now we can have fun together and have serious conversations.

There were a lot of last minute dinner dates and shopping to send Angel back off to college.

On Friday, Angel and I went out to eat with my mom for lunch. We went to a local restaurant that wasn’t too busy and what did they do?? They set us up at a table next to and facing a couple with their adult disabled son. The couple was trying hard to get their son to act appropriately. He got up several times and burped loudly. Can I never escape reminders of my own brother??

My mom said that she really wants me to write a book with her. I also feel the mission that I have a story to tell.

I actually have two stories to tell…

The first story is about my brother Matt…growing up with a violent autistic/schizophrenic sibling. I have just touched the tip of the iceberg. There is so much hidden underneath the surface that I haven’t even begun to delve into yet.

But I can only tell the story in small pieces. There is a sadness, melancholy, depression that is hard to explain after diving into the depths. If I spend too much time there, I will surely drown.

I am a broken person, despite my tough exterior. Only a few people truly realize that. You are one of the few people I let inside. Paul notices so many things that others overlook. He understands. We are both high functioning broken people. Silently we weep together. Together we succeed at fighting our demons.

It is hard to find someone on the same level who has survived difficult circumstances. I’m thankful that we found each other.

The second story I was meant to tell is about Paul. So I am going to switch gears a little bit here…but trust me if you can…it will be well worth the ride.

Storms of Christmas past

This year my youngest daughter had her first high school choir concert on the day that my grandma died.

Let’s take a trip back in time to 1967. I wasn’t born yet. My mom was 19. My dad went off to Vietnam.

It was Christmastime. My grandparents were in the process of moving to a new town for my grandpa’s new job. My grandma was 43 and pregnant. Her oldest child, my aunt, was out of the house, married, and expecting her first child. My mom was in college. There were five children left at home and a new baby on the way.

My grandma wasn’t feeling well with her eighth pregnancy. She was on bed rest at the hospital but wrote letters to her family at the new house where no one knew them.

There was a snowstorm the night that she gave birth to a healthy baby girl. After the little baby girl took her first breath, my grandma took her last breath.

This month the baby girl turned 50. She had a big weight to carry the day she was born. She took the last breath of a mother of 8 when she took her first. I think she always felt guilty about it although no one could logically blame her for something not of her choosing. Then she took the life that her mother sacrificed to give her and made a big mess of it.

This month Uncle Rick threw my aunt a 50th birthday party before the choir concert. It was both a joyous and solemn occasion. Before the party, the siblings tearfully read the last letter that their mother wrote the night before she died. It wasn’t carefree and happy like the rest. It was as if she knew it would be her last.

At the choir concert that night, I sat with my mom on the 50th anniversary of her mother’s death. She told me that her mother was my age when she died and she was the same age as my oldest daughter. I felt sorrow for my mother. She really needed to have a mother in her life as the path she beat down was always rocky.

That night, I watched others perform my daughter’s songs from when she was in high school. My oldest daughter was not able to be there. It was hard to hear someone else sing ‘her’ songs. It hurt. Time was slipping by way too fast. It was also difficult to sit next to my mother on the anniversary of her mother’s death. I could feel the loss, the sadness, the nostalgia, the longing for something that was no longer there envelop me.