Sunday, October 23, 2016

So I Live in Texas Now

Well, I'm here.  I've actually been here, in Texas, almost two months ... one third of the time I'm committed to being here.  And well, I don't really know too much more about this state than I did the day I first arrived.  The reason for that is that taking care of someone who is recovering from surgery and a toddler has consumed most of the time.  And then, I collapse, sleep and reboot to do it again for another week.

I do have a space of my own now.  Its a nice little apartment with a surprisingly great view and I cherish my time just being here and breathing ... or sleeping.  Its not home though.  I don't have very many of my familiar belongings and I purposely departed a bit from my preferred decor style ... just because I could and six months isn't long to live with something.

I have discovered, on my rare wanderings, that this little town of Waxahachie, Texas has a hidden treasure.  While this town has been booming and bursting at its seams with growth, sprawl, strip malls and traffic, the heart of the town is still here.  The old and impressively large courthouse still stands on the square and is surrounded by all of the little brick and gingerbread store fronts.  And, best of all, it is coming back to life with a restoration project.  There are great little shops full of everything from clothing to antiques.  There is a yoga studio, a coffee shop, a bakery and the county art center.  Coming soon is an old fashion soda shop.  I peeked through the window and it is just the cutest most authentic looking place.  I can't wait to check it out.  This little bit of history surely will be my salvation (along with my way too cute grandson).

But, there are some things I simply hate about Texas ... the weather and the bugs (and the traffic is pretty atrocious too).  I miss the seasons.  It has been consistently in the 80's or 90's for so long that I've forgotten what a real Fall day feels like.  So much for scarves, boots and sweaters.  When it finally rains here, it is not your gentle cleansing rain ... noooo.  It is rain of epic proportions accompanied by thunder and lightening and all to frequent tornado watches.  I'm over the heat and I'm definitely over the excitement of a good storm.  Nothing snaps you out of that stance like an announcement over your phone or the television that you are to 'shelter in place.'   And then, there are the bugs.  Ugh!  They are big, they are nasty and they are everywhere.  A good hard freeze would be welcome to send those demons right back to hell.  That leaves traffic ... growth that is too fast, people pouring into the area and an infrastructure that can't keep up.  People either drive way too fast for the conditions ... or way too slow because its confusing (this crazy freeway under construction thing).  Anyway, its a little intimidating for this 65 year old, small town Oregonian.  But then again, what isn't?

So, here I am ... having this 'adventure' and the thing I am learning the most is what I don't want.  I don't want to live here forever (no aspersion to the State of Texas) but, in my book, Oregon is a hard act to follow ... for its beauty and for its moderate weather and for not having terribly scary bugs.  Still, its been worth it so far just to be able to bond with and spoil my grandson and watch him grow and thrive.  I wouldn't have missed that part for anything.

Monday, August 15, 2016

The Long Goodbye

I'm writing this post with severe reservations.  There are just so many emotions involved and, also, a sense that I don't really know exactly what is ahead but, here goes.

My mother turns 88 years old in a couple of days.  She has always been the best mom, just a great person.  She has been my rock but, not anymore.  You see, this has been a tough year for mom and for all of our family.  We lost my little brother (little being a euphemism because, he wasn't so little but, he was the youngest).  This seems to have totally taken the wind out of mom's sails.  I can't say that I know what it is like to lose a child and so I don't know exactly how she feels.  I mean we all are sad but, her level of grief has swept right into anger and we are all caught up in the tidal wave.  She just is not herself and I have had to face the reality that I can no longer turn to her when I am struggling.

But wait, it gets worse.  Right in the midst of all of this grief and anger, I am called to move out of state for six months to assist my own child with health issues.  Mom won't say it as it wouldn't be politically correct but, she doesn't want me to go.  I have to go.  I'm trusting that she'll still be here when I return but, maybe she won't.  I have to get on with my plans in spite of these doubts.  Its a hard place to be.  This seems to be the battle cry of middle aged women everywhere ... caught between two generations.

It is hard watching a loved parent growing older and changing due to old age, illness and grief.  No one enjoys this process.  Least of all the person going through it.  How much are we supposed to sacrifice of our own peace of mind to tend to them?  Who do we choose, our parent or our child?  It certainly doesn't even come into the mix that we choose ourselves.  We jump under those buses and we do the best we can ... and now I can say, when I am very old, its entirely possible that my kids won't be there for me because some other duty calls.  I hope I remember how this feels so that I don't make them feel bad for whatever choice they make.

In the meantime, it is a series of little goodbyes when dealing with an aging parent.  It is goodbye to the strong, independent parent, even as they are still here.  It is saying goodbye to a more frail parent when we have to walk away for a little while.  And, ultimately, there is the final goodbye when they depart this earth.  When the goodbye happens in stages like this, it is long.  I now understand why mom always said she hoped she went quickly with all of her wits about her.  She is not enjoying this long goodbye anymore than the rest of us.  I hope she does know that in spite of the difficulties that I love her very much because loving her is all that I've got right now.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016


     "We can never be prepared for everything.  No one person can anticipate all of life.  In fact, over preparation is yet another way to wall ourselves in from life.  Rather, we can only prepare for how we might respond to the gift of surprise that often moves in on us faster than our reflex to resist.  

     "Life is surprising, thank God, and God, the chance to know Oneness, lives in surprise.  For God is seldom in our plans, but always in the unexpected."  -  Mark Nepo


      I ran across these paragraphs in my morning reading.  These words perfectly sum up the way my life has unfolded of late.  My plan is that there is no real plan because everything I used to think my life would look like at this point has been turned on its head.  The details aren't really the important part.  The story really is in the process of letting go and being open to the elements of surprise in life.  

     I find myself packing up, putting my things into storage and heading to Texas for six months.  And, even as I say this I have to chuckle about my experiences in Texas.  My daughter moved there.  I visited her shortly thereafter ... a normal, fun and reasonably short trip.  Then, she and her husband adopted a baby.  Things changed ... boy, did things change.  My trip down when he came home from the hospital was much longer because the NICU kept delaying his release.  I ended up spending a couple of months with them.  More recently, I went back for a two week visit.  That trip turned into a month when my daughter's back went out and she needed help.  Now, she needs back surgery and there is recuperation and childcare to think about.  Here I go again.  I've decided to go for six months, get my own little place and see what life there is like.   It has been a whirlwind of rearranging my life but, I still feel it is what I truly want to do.  I'm tired but hopeful.

     So, my short term plan is set in motion but, if I've learned anything at all it is that there could be a surprise or two along the way.  I have started letting go of any set agenda.  It is very freeing in one way.  I find myself opening more to random opportunities and new experiences.  I have been shaken loose from a very stable foundation and, while my mood swings from optimism to abject terror, I feel like this is the journey I'm supposed to be on.  And it is amazing how a change of perspective from fear and tentativeness to looking for and appreciating the surprises life offers up can reframe things.
I'm really excited for the next chapter, the next surprise.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Drinking the Poison

"Holding on to anger is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die."

Who hasn't heard this one?  And, while its true enough, I would venture to guess that many people hold on to anger way too long.  I, myself, ... work in progress.  I mean, just when I'm feeling all kinds of Zen with my life, along comes a person/situation that just blows up the peace.  This may be why I tend to spend a lot of time hanging out alone ... but, that is a whole other topic.  I mean, what is it about certain people or topics that causes me to mentally go from zero to sixty in a second?

I really, really try to respect others and their opinions.  I also really, really try not to force my own opinions onto others and I would dearly love to be treated in the same manner.  I have enough friends at this stage in life who I truly love and respect that it matters not one whit if they believe differently than I do about things.  And, if they feel the same way, we are good.  Don't get me wrong, we can have friendly discussions and even agree to disagree but, if you are going to blow a gasket because I won't change my mind ... well, you are crossing all sorts of boundaries.  Leave out polite discourse.  No one has a right to tell me what to think, believe or feel.  Nor do I want the responsibility of making those decisions for others.  If something I say or hear resonates that is great but, that is all that needs to happen.

So, the gist of this is that I don't get mad if you don't agree with me but, if you are going to get mad at me for disagreeing with you ... well, we are going to have a problem.  This brings me back around to anger.  I know well enough that people are going to push my boundaries in all kinds of ways.  They will push my buttons.  So, when they finally go all the way with angry outbursts, that's when I reach my limit and I get mad.  Well, this isn't the way I want to react and I think it is a perfectly useless response so, why do I do it?  Its knee jerk, its a gut reaction and I am trying so very hard to not feel that way.  I mean, I can remain outwardly calm but, my insides are experiencing anger at the highest level.  I hold it in, I fret, I think of all of the things I could have/should have said.  I dislike this about myself.  I dislike this 'for' myself.  I don't feel good about it.  So, I need to find a way to 'let it go' quickly ... or just not let it get there in the first place because anger is an insidious, destructive thing ... mainly for the person holding on to it.

Sunday, March 6, 2016


I ran across a humorous quote on Facebook today.  It said, "If my life were on GPS, I would constantly hear RECALCULATING."  I literally LOL'd.   Humor is never more funny than when it is true.  And lately, this is definitely true in my life.

I have bounced around more, both emotionally and physically, in the past five or six years than I did in the previous 25.  Some of that was by choice and quite a bit was not.  I am a firm believer in 'looking for the lesson' in the things that happen to me.  I make conscious decisions to find the take away from negative experiences.  If not, then I feel I'm destined to keep repeating that type of thing until I 'get it.'  And yet, I'm more a creature of habit than I am an adventurer.  So, why does life keep tossing me these challenges?  What is the lesson or lessons?

I believed for a huge part of my life that one should choose a path, work hard and go responsibly down that path.  And then .... life skidded off the path ... RECALCULATING.  I had to make peace with the realization that what I had thought and believed might not actually be the path I was intended to walk.  I made changes.  I made a new plan.  I got stuck in a rut.  RECALCULATING.  So what now?  Do I turn off that inner GPS and explore new paths?   I'm inclined to think that my plan is to have no definitive plan, which is not to say that I won't have goals.  But, if my short term plans and long term goals don't feel right anymore ... well then, I'm okay with RECALCULATING.  Maybe that was the lesson.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Down the Rabbit Hole

I'm not ashamed to admit that occasionally throughout my life I've dealt with a little depression.  Its not to a level that medication is required but, it definitely crops up when life gets difficult.  And, when is life always perfect?  So, when that happens, I fall down the rabbit hole.  I lose my spark, I can't get motivated and I just don't seem to be able to remember what I'm about.  When I'm in the hole, it feels like all efforts to crawl out are met with people stomping on my knuckles or kicking me in the teeth .. metaphorically speaking.  In other words, my focus goes to a dark and negative place.  And the very worst thing about this situation is the reluctance to ask for help or to just simply admit it.  But, here's the thing.  There are lots of people (best friends especially) who are ready to help.

It finally dawned on me the other day that I was in the pit ... again.  This has not been the case for quite awhile so, I failed to notice I was going there.  I finally threw the thought out there to some good and wise friends and just doing that, started my climb out of it.  I realized that maybe some simple herbal remedies might kick start my efforts.  I was reminded by a good friend that if I started each day with an intention, it would help me get out of bed.  And, just the simple act of talking it out helped immensely.

So, today I set some intentions.  I figured if I managed only a fraction, that would be a good thing.  I have been checking them off.  The most important of intentions is self care.  Drink the water, eat the healthy food, go for a walk ... you know the drill.  Then there are the intentions based on accomplishment ... at least make your bed.  Do one thing toward a goal that seems too huge and overwhelming.  And finally, intentionally find a little joy.  Its spring ... there are blooms galore (at least in my neck of the woods).  Do something creative ... you don't have to be Rembrandt.  Even if you work full-time, try to fit in some 'me time' because, as I've found out, no one else is going to take care of me if I don't.

There is one more thing I very much want to address.  I am no spring chicken.  My peers and I are aging baby boomers.  We are part of a generation where the sky was the limit.  Now, we are empty nesters and retired or nearly so.  And yet, we are so much healthier and youthful than previous generations of the same age.  It sounds great to retire or be done raising children and be able to go and do ... but, for many of us, we lose a sense of purpose and, worst of all, we don't feel needed.  It is hard and it may sound silly but, it is not for sissies to reinvent your life at this age.   So, if a little depression creeps in ... try to recognize it and get help in one form or another.  As another very dear friend put it "We are on a short runway."

Wednesday, February 10, 2016


I'm filled with rage.  This is not a comfortable feeling for me ... what do I do with this?  I'm not aggressive, violent or confrontational by nature. But I am so damned angry right now.  So, I'm going to try to 'use my words' as we were apt to tell our toddlers.

I'm so tired of the unfairness of life ... as if anyone ever said it would be fair.  But sometimes, I just cannot deal anymore with the ridiculousness of our nation.  Every.single.thing has to have a label: 'First world, third world, black lives matter, blue lives matter, liberal, neo-con, Bible thumper, atheist, fat, skinny, greedy, lazy, pro life, pro choice, gun toter, pacifist .... ad nauseum.  Some media whiz kid, or spin doctor working for a political group slaps a name on a person, people or movement and we all jump on a side and ride that wave.  We fight and argue and try to seize the moral high ground while grinding our proverbial heels into the 'other guy.'  We glorify the winners in this ugly game.  We worship at the hems of the likes of the Kardashians or the Trumps.  It is sickening.  I can only be amazed anymore when children turn out okay.  There is just so much ugly being heaped on their young lives.

Meanwhile, on social media, the self-aggrandizing attention whores toot their horns and people rush in to 'like' their crazy utterings.  If its not a thinly veiled pity party with a Greek chorus of 'oh what's wrong,' it is a 'look at me having the best life ever' scenario which, loosely translated, is a brag fest.  Come on people.  Neither story is real ... its just another dose of instant gratification.  Whatever happened to being humble?  I mean, its no secret that the squeaky wheel gets the grease but, we have turned increasingly into a nation of squeaking wheels and the noise is just one big cacophony of ego. No one, and I repeat, no one ever puts anything on Facebook without an expectation of a reaction (yes, self included).  We have to ask ourselves this question: "When did we become so damned insecure that a social media site is the arbiter of how we feel about ourselves?"  And, I know there will be people out there who will react by saying its all just fun and/or harmless, etc.  I would counter that at a larger level ... no, its not harmless.  It is setting up generations of young people to think that what nameless, faceless people think about them or their ideas matters.  It doesn't ... unless you are doing something illegal.

So yep, I'm angry ... I'm angry that common decency has left the building.  That thoughtfulness and appreciation for the good and humble people who just try hard every day has been replaced by mindless adulation for the truly greedy, self-serving, sarcastic trolls of the world.  Now that the puppet masters have divided us on every conceivable issue, they are free to pick up the pieces (wealth) of our nation and planet because we are too busy arguing, fussing and fighting.  But guess what?  We all bleed red, we all cry tears, and we are all going to end up the same .... 'Ashes to ashes, dust to dust.'  Maybe its time to look for the humanity and sameness in each other and to quit focusing on the differences.

And, on that note, thank you for indulging me in an uncharacteristic rant.