Monday, June 29, 2015

What I am.

So while doing a little spring clearing out of my desk this morning, I found a collection of photos of my kids throughout the years. Looking at pictures of all five of my kids from years ago, makes me more than a little nostalgic. All of those Hallmark cards are right. The little things are the big things – I know that now. Babies grow up in the blink of an eye – I didn’t believe it when I was dealing with dirty diapers and crying and spitup, but it is true.  I miss every last bit of it. Nonetheless, I am trying so hard to be forward looking, full of happiness and anticipation of what my daughters’ and sons’ futures hold.  I know that I have done many things right as a mother.  But why am I constantly remembering all of the things I didn’t do?  While my two oldest were growing up, I was attending college and working.  And I thought I was being so noble because I was gaining an education.  What a waste! A better use of my time would have been being satisfied with all the opportunities I had without those degrees and simply spent time with my kids.  Education is great. But there are so many ways to be educated and not all require attending a school, completing assignments, and being graded.  


What I love to do is sew and work with my garden and animals.  I’m better at those things than I am at anything else. How ironic that I can’t get any better at it because I’m too busy working a job that although I love, anyone else could do just as well.  And where did I learn to sew? And where did I learn about gardening and animals?  I learned to sew from my grandmother – for free.  I learned about gardening and animals by trial and error and through books – also free (more or less).  I’ll be paying off my student loans forever.  And will never be able to leave my job because of that.  So in summary (in case I wasn’t feeling crappy enough about this), I sacrificed my time with my kids to pursue an education in a field for which I’m not well-suited which takes time away from who and what I love and to top it all off, I’m paying dearly for it.  The American dream.  Blah.

BUT. Unlike so many people in the world, I had the choice. I made choices that at the time I thought were the right choices but in retrospect, can see that I should have thought things through a little more.  Even now, I have a choice.  We always have choices. But what we don’t have is a crystal ball to see how the consequences of those choices pan out.  Ugh. I need a nap.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Compassion

My daughter was telling me about a recent conversation that she has with her 8 year old son.
He was talking about wanting to “make the world shine”. He told his mom that he was going to invite a child to play with him that does not have anyone to play with and take a plastic bag on their evening run to pick up trash. He  told his mom that “even people who do bad things have love in their heart, they just need to find it and everyone is perfect even if they only have one eye in the middle of their forehead, or no eyes, or no mouth, or no face at all, they are all perfect”. 

So that tells me a couple of things. First off, his mom has done a pretty good raising him and I know her mother personally - she's no gem.  Second, kids are way more compassionate than adults.  They just have less power to demonstrate their compassion.  It is sad that when we are older and have the resources, we just don't care enough to do anything about anything.  Well, that is true of many people anyway.  I think the world is going to be a better place because of my grandson. If he can just hold on to his desire to be kind, the world will be blessed.

The other day I went for run during my lunch hour.  I've been trying to change my stride a bit so that I don't shuffle so much (I am a huge shuffler).  I was heading back to campus and I was trying to be conscious to the comparison between picking up my feet, which I had been doing, to my current gait, which was shuffling.  And I tripped over a change in the sidewalk. Fell on my knee, my wrist and my shoulder.  But I popped back up because my biggest hurt was that of my pride.  But.....there were two adults also walking down the sidewalk toward me - about 15 feet away.  They clearly saw me because it was a grand fall and a terrific recovery. And did they acknowledge me? Did they ask if I was alright? Anything? No! Nothing. I would be willing to bet that had it been two college-aged students walking down the street, they would have asked immediately.  I've witnessed over and over, the kindness of students on campus.  True, there are many rude, uncaring students but for the most part, they are truly kind humans.  

And what is my role in this? I need to be sure that I am the kind of person I want other people to be.  Which is difficult.  Because sometimes, I'm just not in the mood to be pleasant and caring and kind.  Being aware is the first step and changing my behavior is the next.  To quote a very important person in my life, I want to help make the world shine.


Monday, June 1, 2015

The small stuff.

It's a little bit cold here in central PA.  Which is a matter of perspective because actually, it feels just right to me.  It is perfect weather to curl up in a blanket with a mug of tea and revisit my childhood for just a little while. And since I started running again, a few shortbread cookies would not hurt either!

Every once in a while I think of myself as being a jerk.  Well I must not have been too bad - my sweet son who I didn't think read my blog, surprised me with these books today.  This has made my day.  Being able to retreat back into some warm memories of a time when I didn't have too much to worry about will be a welcome respite from these two weeks of anxiety aka last two weeks before my daughters graduate.

It has been a weekend.  I typically do not cry and by cry, I mean sob.  Depression does that to you - or at least the medication to treat the medication does that.  But in what was probably not the best timing for this decision, I decided to forego my depression meds.  I've always been able to tell when the depression is creeping back and have always made the good decision to take medicine when needed.  But I'm thinking that it is time to give my brain a rest.  So back to crying.......it was good, really good, to cry.  It started Saturday evening and finally ended around noon on Sunday.  And I was wiped out. I went to church, and cried. I played the piano at church, and cried.  But I feel so much healthier now.  I don't think it will be the end of the melancholy and the crying but I think I have a handle on it.

When my son graduated, I remember listening to Five for Fightings' ' 100 years'. Over and over.  Because, apparently, I wanted to tear my heart out. That lasted for two weeks pre-graduation and a fog of sadness persisted for a few weeks after.  Because I really missed him.

But he turned out well - as, I'm sure, his sisters will.  I know he turned out kind and good.  He sent me Raggedy Ann and Andy.  He gave me some of my childhood back. I love you Ryan.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

The Case of the Dead Ducks.

So.......in previously reported news, it seemed as if Daisy and Donald Duck were both dead by the hands, er paws, of a fox.  By the amount of feathers strewn about the yard, the blood on Daisy, who, for all intents and purposes, appeared lifeless, I assumed she was dead. And with Donald nowhere to be found, I assumed that he was also dead - that the fox had eaten heartily that night.

So imagine my surprise, after spending a day in tears, frantically looking to purchase a pair of ducklings, when I came home and saw that we had two beautiful white ducks in the yard.  Really, they were beautiful albeit the one was missing quite a few feathers, still had some blood stains on her back and was walking rather stiffly........Daisy and Donald weren't dead after all.

I can only assume that Daisy was traumatized - obviously- and that is why she didn't move and appeared to be dead. And apparently when he saw trouble, Donald was no where to be found.  I have no comment on the similarities of the duck and human male gender.

Regardless, it is so nice to have the ducks alive.  Daisy is back to her old self and Donald has been keeping close to her side.  Every night we lock them in the barn to avoid any future attacks.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Why Memorial Day is so special to me.

There are a number of reasons - some that I can only pull from the periphery of memory, others that are up close and personal.  I can remember attending - every year - the Memorial Day service in Townville, PA.  That is where my father grew up and where my early memories are from.  I remember standing in the middle of the cemetery by the high school listening to speeches from, I assume, WW1, WW 2 and Korean War veterans, because that would be the time period in which I was that age.  I can remember the 21 gun salute - that went on and on and on - and I was terrified because I was just a little kid and at that time, my dad was in the Air Force.  I remember - vaguely - the later times - one, in particular, that my dad spoke.  Perhaps that was after the Vietnam war - I don't remember but I DO remember that I STILL hated the 21 gun salute.  I both love and hate that my dad had a 21 gun salute at his funeral.  And to this day, both taps and that salute make me cry like the 6 year old I was when I first heard it.

We have a new neighbor - a very nice 19-year-old man who was able to purchase a home, has a nice car, a sweet girlfriend and a very polite step-son.  My family and I are happy to have them as neighbors.  But I look at him and what he has accomplished and I think of my oldest daughter when she was that age.  She had been in Fallujah for a little over two months on that Memorial Day.  She was able to call me and I swore I could hear the crack of gunfire over the phone.  How different are those two lives.  All of those young men who were drafted or chose to enlist for the military, especially in Vietnam.  I didn't realize how those boys were mistreated upon their return until my father-in-law told me.  That is beyond anything I can imagine.

So this Memorial Day, I will try to keep it in the front of mind, the reason for this day.  Thank you to all who made the ultimate sacrifice and all who were willng to do so.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Secret places

I’ve always been fascinated by tree houses: the Berenstain Bears’ little house in the tree with the gingham curtains and little staircase that wound down the tree, Winnie the Pooh’s buddy Piglet’s house in the base of a tree both were places that I would have loved to live as a child. 

As an adult, I’ve always love the idea of gnomes and sprites and fairies (of the TinkerBell variety).  I’ve always loved fairy rings, sparkles, glitter, fireflies – all of that seems magical to me.  I love the idea of green man and tree spirits; the elves of Iceland – all of that stuff.  Needless to say, the Spiderwick Chronicles is one of my favorite movies.    And I’ll always remember the mention of a grotto in the book Raggedy Ann and Andy’s in Cookie Land.  I just loved the series of books - I wish I still had them.

And sometimes I wish that places like these, things like these really existed.  Because I would really like to open a little gnome door and climb inside a tree some days.  Sometime life really hurts in a way that just doesn't make sense.  Last night a fox attacked our two ducks. Big deal, some people say. But it is a big deal.  These ducks were a couple. We never saw one without the other close by.  And they adopted us.  They just showed up one day a couple months ago and never left.  I called them Daisy and Donald, my husband called them Aflecks.  There was something fun and goofy as well as comforting hearing them quack outside the window every morning.  Every time they saw my husband, they would come running, I mean waddling.  He always gave them a treat.  They made us smile.

I'm just sad.  It is nature, I know.  But I'm just really going to miss those ducks. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

My other self.


One of my favorite walks on campus.

As I was walking to the library to pick up a book that was being held for me, I noticed a man all dressed up in a ratty, dirty old suit jacket, stringy hair, a face that obviously hadn't seen a razor or a washcloth in a very long time. He stood out to me among all of the well-dressed college aged students waiting for the bus.  He stood out to me because he was trying with great difficulty to bend over and pick up a half smoked cigarette that was half-buried in dirt on the sidewalk. I complain a lot.  About the heat, about the cold, about the rudeness of humankind, about my lack of money……and I think to myself, at least that’s not me.  Seriously, that could have been me – a dejected wreck of a human standing along side the road picking up other people’s trash.  It could still be me.  Some days I feel as if I am one bad decision away from being a homeless throwaway person.  But I walked away from that man. What could I give him? I live from paycheck to paycheck.  But at least I have a paycheck and at least I can pay my bills even though I regularly rob Peter to pay Paul.  Me, in my cute little gray dress, with my cute little purse, my library card, on my way to the bank and then back to my job – my really good job.  The one that requires a master’s degree and people skills and the ability to problem-solve, communicate and all of the other stuff I tell students. And where is that stinky old man going?

So tonight I’ll hop in my car and drive home to my house, I’ll be ignored by my family and loved by my dogs.  But I’ll be at home.  I wonder where that man will be.

A beautiful day on campus.