Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Sometimes My Love is Conditional



This past week has been thought provoking. I thought of not writing my thoughts down in the event that it will hurt some people.  I should know from reading countless articles that as a writer we can't control how people will react to the words that we write but I care.  I care a lot about a variety of people in our life. We have butted heads over LGBT issues and the current political events shared by the media.

I care so much that at times I have held my tongue.  I have turned the other cheek.  I have accepted their opinion and moved forward.  Then there are times like now.  That I can't stand to read one more post by someone whose opinion is so far away from mine that it hurts.  Their ideas and opinions stir up emotion and anger deep within me.  My mind will ask my heart "what the fuck is wrong with people?"  How can they be so heartless, cruel, and inhumane? They lose their status as a human and become animalistic.  I don't see them through a "friend or family" lens anymore.  I see them with caution, unease and disappointment. Social media has allowed us to witness a persons character, views, opinions and supportive nature with the hit of a like button.  We see so much more than we might to.  Honestly, I don't want to see it anymore.  It's too much.  It is changing my view of some good people.

I have thought for sometime about writing about this topic of unconditional love and how I don't believe it exist for most of our lives. I have to admit to myself that my love is conditional.  I believe my love, has been unconditional, a few times though.  At the meeting of each of our four kids.  That small window of time when they first entered this world.  So much love spilling from your soul that you can't imagine anything other than that moment.  You don't see the trials or struggles that you may have in the future.  Your mind isn't privy to their character, their desires, thoughts, ideas, emotions, or cares.

That newness of meeting and seeing each other with nothing but pure joy and happiness is unconditional love to me.  After this initial exchange our relationship starts to grow.  We start to evolve and our lives are subjected to the world.  We are influenced and sculpted into what our parents and society deem to be in our best interest.  We start to learn that love is conditional.

I learned as a child that holding on to the belief that love is unconditional hurt. A child trusts with their whole heart until they learn not to.  That trust and love did not always end with a feeling of acceptance, joy, friendship or togetherness.  I found myself in situations of being abused and hurt by people, who I thought should love me unconditionally, love me enough to not hurt me, but they did hurt me: emotionally and physically.  As an adult I found this idea of unconditional love poisonous when spewed by the wrong person in the name of their justified cause or reasoning.

Isn't love LOVE?

I have to admit to myself that it is not.  Love can be ugly.  Ask the abused wife or husband.  Love can hurt.  Ask the crying child, the gay child, the bullied kid. Love can deny.  Ask your gay neighbor.  Love can sting.  Ask yourself.

Love is conditional.

Love has two sides.  We do things in the name of love all the time.

I will love you if...
My love is wide and open but...
You are wanted and excepted when...

Love from our parents, siblings, extended family, communities or church comes with conditions.  We know how we feel when love is shared with us but then we realize that not all love is the same.  We receive and give love differently too. Putting my understanding of love under a microscope this past week has been interesting.

I know love is good.  I don't deny it. I've been on the receiving end of love that hurts and love that feels good.  I am learning that I give and receive love differently.  This is why this week I have acknowledge to myself that my love is conditional. I cannot pretend that my love is the same for everyone, every situation, or that it is unconditional. It simply is not.

What I do deny is that love is always the right venue to try to make your point.  Love is not one size fits all.  We don't all respond to the word love equally.  To some the word hurts.  To others it resonates joy and happiness.  I think the most powerful influence we can have in regards to love is to think first of the other person.

My love is conditional.  It's my truth.   Maybe this is the stinging nettle of love.  I am learning that a blanket of "love" thrown in the hopes that it covers all the hurt, opinions and pain can makes you itch with frustration from a word that emotes a variety of feelings. This word creates a dichotomy of opinions and reactions.

There is a lot of hurt and anger in the world currently and with so much pain I see myself going back to a basic principles of peace, charity and mercy: love.  I don't want to focus on the fear that terror and policy changes are creating.  For me, to better understand this love, I have had to tear it apart and get real and raw.

I am trying to not have conditions on my love but it's hard.  This week my conditional love has been tested. I struggle because I was raised to believe that love is unconditional and yet my heart says that it is not.







Wednesday, October 14, 2015

I Asked Myself a Question: Am I Happy?


Sometimes we have to ask for the things we want in order to find our happiness.
If we walk through life assuming that those around us know what we want we are setting ourselves up for disappointment and possibly a lot of misunderstanding.

Cory always tells me he is not a mind reader.  I guess for the first few years of our lives I really wanted him to be.   Sometimes it would be easier if we could read our partners minds.  Then I think what would we lose in our relationship if the concept to speak our own words were taken from us?

Words convey a message when spoken.  They can be harsh, soft, loud, whispered, sung, rhymed, etc.... Would we translate the message the same if we heard it in our thoughts and minds (reading only the words) and not with our ears which can hear emotion and tone?

I remember being newly married and wanting to please everyone.  Nothing has changed in 27 years other than I now know that pleasing me is also important.  I am happier if I speak my words. Let me say that again,  MY WORDS. Not  the words that I think they want to hear or even the words that I fear saying sometimes.  I am trying to keep our conversations honest and truthful.  Taking the emotion out of the conversation so that our ears are listening and understanding.

Finnley is learning to talk and communicate with us and so far we get cries and screams.   Thank goodness this is not how we communicate with each other through out our lives.  Can you imagine the amount of aspirin we would need each day? Her vocabulary is about 20 words.  She will wave if we say hi or goodbye.  I find myself reminding her to "find your words" and "speak your words".  I do this with Isabella too.  When Isabella feels that her answer is not what I want to hear she goes quiet and reflective.  I recognize that she is afraid to tell me the truth for fear that she may hurt my feelings or say the wrong thing.   Again, I find myself saying to her-speak your words, ask the question, and  answer the question honestly.  I remind her, "there are no wrong answers.  You are not in trouble."  

We have always tried to provide a safe home in which our kids can talk to us about anything and I mean anything.  We have had long discussion about all sorts of topics.  I won't go into details but they are profound, uncomfortable at times, loving, honest, and sometimes, eye opening.  They are not afraid to ask us any questions.  This is how we want our home to be.  This is how I should be with myself.  I should ask myself some hard questions to learn and find out what is buried down deep inside.

Ask....ask...ask...you may be surprised by your own answers.

I also had to learn that hearing the words yes or no were not going to make or break me.  I was okay with hearing no once I realized no is also an answer.  Not the answer I may want to hear or the answer I want but those two little letters that will no longer hold me back from asking the hard or simple questions in this life or of myself.

I recently have had to ask myself some hard questions about where I am going and what I want to do.  I realized that I have secretly been holding on to a list of things I wish to do... eventually.  I always tell myself: when the kids move out, when the kids graduate, when the kids are old enough, when the kids.... do you see a pattern here?   I wouldn't change having my kids for the world or being married.  It just seems that I need to fill my lamp.  The oil is running out and I need to do a few things for me.

I finally looked myself in the mirror and asked the reflection, "Am I happy?" It has not been easy looking myself in the eyes.  Happiness to me used to mean one thing.  Now it means a lot of things.  I am happy as a mom.  I am happy being a wife.  I am happy with my home.  I am typically a happy person.

BUT....there are holes in my happiness.

Gaps.

In the journey to put my family first and to try and ensure their happiness, I have lost myself a little bit.  I have forgotten to live a little.  I am missing out on small things that mean a lot to me.  My happiness has been on vacation.  Each and every time my heart would start to question a little desire or a need I wanted, my mind would shove it to the back of the line; not today maybe tomorrow is always the response.

My next question to myself was, "How can I change this?"  I recently read a quote that mentioned the word MORE.  I know that I am happy but I knew immediately that I could be more than just happy. I could be much happier with a few simple changes to my thoughts, actions and daily routine.

For starters, I have started to get up earlier.  This allows me to have a bit MORE me time.  I can read my email, write post and feel like I have finished something for the day.

I am actively doing MORE of the things on my list that I have felt afraid to do or thought maybe this was not the right time. I am understanding that there is never a right time for a lot of things.  Just do it.

I stopped the other day at a beach that I have wanted to visit forever.  I made the time and spent 30 minutes watching a pod of whales swim by.  That was glorious!

My long hair is gone.  I finally listened to the small voice of reason inside my head and just did it.  I love it.  No more fussing in the wind and tight pony tails.

A tattoo will be on my body by the end of this week.  I have thought about this for 2 years.  What am I waiting for?  Stuff like this is holding me back. Just get the damn tattoo already.  So I will.  It may be small but I can check this off my list.

I am scheduled to start school in January.  This has been the hardest leap for me to make.  I never wanted to take money away from my kids because I wanted them to finish school.  It's time for me to finish my schooling too.  I am so happy with this decision.

It is amazing how alive I feel and how happy I have become.  The questions just keep coming too.  It's okay to ask ourselves hard questions.  Sometimes we won't want to hear the answer and we won't know the solution.  Finding the right way to move forward will be different for everyone and I believe this is okay.

We all travel through this life at different speeds, with an array of goals, circumstances that alter our destiny, as well as, being pulled in many directions. Life can be challenging and it can easily slip away from us.  The older I get the more I realize that I am in the driver seat and sometimes I want to go slow and other times I want to speed.  Today I want to speed.

Take a few minutes to ask yourself a few questions and answer them honestly.  Allow yourself to explore your options and see things differently.   You may be surprised to discover that little changes, ideas and thoughts can lead to some very big adventures in your life.











Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Croup and Poop



Having a two year old in the house keeps me on my toes day and night.  This story involves poop; no pictures of said incident, thank goodness.   Even I don't take pictures of EVERYTHING.  I wanted to though.   I have included a few cute pictures to remind myself that time flies, she won't always be this fun age and to enjoy every event--even the stinky ones.

Yesterday morning I sensed the quiet and released my desire to check on Finnley.  How could I not?  A few minutes of uninterrupted solitude allowing me to dress, brush my teeth and reheat my coffee.  450 steps from one room to the next without a mini legion of sirens tracking my every turn.

I embraced the few moments to think.  To think about my weekend.  To reflect on my week.  To just be me for a few minutes.

Then IT happens.  I realize that it's much too quiet.  The fear and anticipation of finding the worst knocks on door number three in my mind and sounds an alarm. Big arrows flash with bold colors.  Something inside of me tells me to get my ass in high gear and soon.

I smell it first.  Poop.  Shit.  Holy hell its on the stairs.  Its on her hands.  In her hair.  Its smeared like war paint across her bulging baby belly.  I panic for a moment.

Inside I scream.  I can't scream out loud because I can hear Cory on a conference call.  Not just any call but one that he is in charge of.  I can tell by the way he is saying Andy's name that he is up next to give a report of the day.

Shit.  I say this inside over and over.  Then I laugh.  The older two kids are still asleep, Cory is on his meeting, Isabella won't be able to help much.  Just me.  I am on my own to deal with child number 4.  She is creative I have to give her that.  She was reaching for the wipes--a helper in the making.

I watch her from the top of the stairs and see that she is afraid I may be upset.  I react with a smile.  I gently grab her and take her to the bathroom.  The tub is the only safe venue I can think of to try to deal with the poop body art.  I think that maybe this is a sign and she will be our tattoo artist.

I wipe her down first, start the tub and sit by the tub watching our two year old. Potty training has to be on the agenda next.  This is the second time she has taken her diaper off and I am afraid to experience the next time.  You know there will be a next time.  There always is.


Cory comes up stairs and he can see that something of an epic occurrence has occurred.  My face says it all.  Frustration first then complete exhaustion from the two year old who is only being that: two.

I am determine to not have this happen again today. Although tomorrow is another day. The options of how to handle this flash through my mind: lock and key on diapers, duct tape (I hear it works for everything) or a bubble suit.  I opt for a Onsie that snaps. She has not figured out how to unsnap these as of today.

It works.

Our day ends with a night of croup.  All night, the seal bark reminds us that winter is right around the corner.  She is the first to get the "change of the season" cold.  Bark, bark, bark all night long.

I awake exhausted.  Having a two year old is a lot of work.  Living on no sleep is challenging.  Coffee will be a necessary side dish with each meal as I endure the next 10 hours before my bed beckons my return.

The good news is there will be no poop outside of the diaper today.  We have figured it out.  Snaps are our hero and for a little while we have escaped another diaperless fiasco.

I can live without sleep as long as there is no creative poop stories in my future today or tomorrow.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Coffee



I question my coffee after 4 reheats in the microwave.  I wonder if I am drinking a big old cup of damn radiation.

Rest assured I did some research and discovered that if I use my microwave correctly it should not harm anything that I reheat in it.  I found this site to answer some questions for me:  HERE  The key word here is SHOULD.  My fingers are crossed each and every time.  I am not sure this is what they had in mind.

Thank goodness the coffee is okay!  It's not that I don't want to drink a piping hot cup of coffee its just that my cup of coffee takes me about 4 hours to drink. Hence the 4 reheats.

I make the coffee.  Baby wakes up.  I reheat the coffee.  In walks the hubby to eat lunch.  I reheat the cup.  I forget about it as I run to do the laundry.  Reheat the cup again.  

By this time I should just get a new cup.  Who has time for this craziness?  I don't though.  I just reheat the cup again.  By this time I am down to one swallow.  I hope and pray that I don't find a fly in its final resting place.

Sounds gross but our new house collects dead flies.  Our home has a corner that is warm and filled with large windows.  On any given day I see and hear the final stages of a fly's life.  My floor is scattered with dead fly bodies.  It can be shocking for new visitors.  I do my best to stay on top of the "great fly suicide" so as not to offend anyone.

On this day there are not any dead flies.  Thank you universe.

Drinking coffee makes me funny.  I snort as I have this thought.  Not really but I think it does.  My thoughts are always on the move.  They like to flitter about like a butterfly.  Coffee is not needed.  I just like it.  I need it.  I want it.

Every day I want one cup.  Not two.  Just one.

Like a school girl with a huge crush I write in my green notebook:

COFFEE 4 EVER

To say that I love it is a true statement.

I just do.


Saturday, September 19, 2015

Walking Alone




I have anxiety attacks.  They randomly occur in strange places: trails, beaches, or on college campuses.  I don't know where the anxiety or fear comes from.  It just exist and presents itself at odd times.

This past week the weather has been ideal.  I talk about our second summer in the post before this one and how delightful this time of year is.  Warm with cool undertones.  Still and fresh.  The perfect blend of summer as it bumps into fall. Both season representing themselves with acute differences as well as an indistinguishable likeness.  I forget if it is summer or fall.  The weather is perfect.

My pulse quickens.  Screw the weather.  My thoughts change and I am brought back to the idea of taking myself for a walk around the campus.  The prospect of walking the campus by myself is about to send my blood pressure through the roof.  Over the edge.  Into despair.  Sweat is rolling down the inside of my shirt.

Like a flash my mind wonders if I am wearing deodorant.  Just as quickly it replies--Shut up!  Who cares!

It would be easy to stay inside and let myself succumb to the anxiety I feel.  To listen to my crazy mind convince my heart to skip a night outside exploring the college campus that I adore.

The light is dimmer than when I arrived to the gymnastic center.  The air is crisp.  I should have worn a sweater.  Damn.  I tell myself to get going.

STAND....WALK...MOVE TO THE DOOR....WALK DOWN THE STAIRS

  I do it.  I get up and walk outside.  I am driven by Isabella's desire for a slice of cheese pizza.  Pizza will make me feel better.  One foot in front of the other.  I walk to the center of the walkway and look straight ahead.  I see students, teachers, other kids.  Smiling.  Heads held high.  Confidence in each stride.  I feel like a fraud.

They can't hear my heart skip and dance like a fast cha-cha.  Nor do they notice my clenched fist.  White knuckles hugging my phone like a security blanket. Nervous eyes.

I mimic what I see.  I walk.  Look confident.  Find my destination.  The pizza place is right before my eyes.  I made it.  I am here.  I order what I need.  I do NEED pizza and find a seat.

Isabella will be happy after practice to see that I have managed to make her dinner dreams come true.  While I sit I think.  I question where the anxiety comes from.  Why does it happen?  I write in my journal. This helps to read about my experience. It's silly.  A bit embarrassing.

Aging is a mind game sometimes.  The years of experience exist deep inside.  That experience and knowledge allows me to have a loud voice.  I need to be strong to fight the real-time reality that creeps out of the darkness and into my life.  This time in the form of an anxiety attack.

The anxiety makes me feel like a prisoner.  I am learning to use my strong voice to coach me through these times of self doubt and fear. I know this is helping because a few years ago I would have sat for three hours on a hard bench waiting for Isabella to be done with practice.

I beat the anxiety today.

On Thursday it never crossed my mind to sit and wait.  I dropped Isabella off and left the training facility alone.  I walked 4500 steps that night on campus.

Another night down.  Walking alone is still scary for me.  I fear being lost.  It makes me nervous to meet new people in strange places.  Mostly though, the anxiety is a result of fear and being lost.  I don't like to be lost.

The college campus is large.  I am learning my way around.  This helps a lot. I am learning to enjoy the silence.  The alone time.

I am finding that I enjoy my walks alone on campus.


Friday, September 18, 2015

Abandoned Sandcastles


Our beaches draw thousands of visitors each weekend.  The Oregon Coast invites families, couples, and singles from all over the world to come and explore our beautiful coastlines up and down scenic highway 101. Newport sits on the Yaquina Bay and feeds into the Pacific Ocean.

We have officially ended what is known in our tiny town as the "tourist season" and gently rolled into our second summer.  Second summer is something we learned recently from a local update we subscribe to.  We get a few weeks of warm summer-like days that are sprinkled with rolling fog, misty mornings and cooler nights.  The days are delicious to our souls.  We savor each one with the knowledge that soon we will be cold and our homes will be hit with high winds and rain...lots of rain. Ten inches of rain in one month.

Crazy!

Our nights find us walking along the beaches at low tide in search of finding treasures from the water.  We find shells, drift wood and the occasional flip flop. We find toys, shirts, shorts, dead birds, bits of jelly fish and abandoned sandcastles.

On Saturday we headed to South Beach State Park over the Yaquina Bridge to check out a new beach.  The beaches have similarities but each beach also has its own personality.  Yaquina Head State Parks beach is covered in basalt.  Little black rocks covering the shore.  This creates a "shhhhhhh" sound as the water passes through each rock.  Nye Beach has dunes for the kids to run up and down on.  

 We have so many beaches to explore.

South Beach has shells.  We are discovering stretches of the coastline that do not have shells.  If they do, they are often busted and in pieces.  This beach has a bit of both.  I usually return home with a few "whole" shells.  I clean them and add them to the table in our living room for the kids to touch, see and admire. I love bringing the outside indoors.  

My home is filled with bowls of rocks and shells. Vases with driftwood.  Fake beach grass.  Anything to remind me that we live at the beach.

While walking, I stop and notice the sandcastle that is posted at the top of the page.  It is covered with crab shells and a few broken sand dollars.  I stand there for a moment looking and inspecting the sandcastle.  My mind drifts in and out of our own family's escapades to the beach and building sandcastles.  A smile gently rises to greet the warm feelings I am remembering.

Heading to the beach empty handed is never an option.  We must come prepared for epic expectations of building the largest sandcastle in town.  Cory hauls our wagon through deep sand,  laden down with shovels, buckets, sifters, rakes, gold panning pans, and towels.  If we are lucky we return home with our beginning inventory, if not, then we have shared a bit of our family with the next beach dweller.  It happens.  

Abandoned sandcastle sounds so lonely and deserted. It expresses the circumstances that most sandcastles meet at the end of a fun weekend or a single westward excursion to find some sand.  We don't build sandcastles with the thought of leaving them behind at the end the day.  We dream about the imaginary lives that will be lived inside, the battles that will be fought, and victories won.

There is an experience that happens between the time a decision to build a sand castle is made and the final moments of realizing you must leave it behind. Minutes are devoted to the design, hours to the building and a few seconds left for goodbyes.  It all happens so fast.  Time does slip away when making memories in the sand. Our kids never want to leave.

We don't want to leave either if I am being honest. 

Our sandcastles are abandoned as the weekend draws to an end.  They are empty because families must return home to their busy lives.  Adults work and kids have school and everything in between. Each builder leaves their sandcastle reluctantly, with a backward glance, as the tide slowly rolls in.  A long day spent digging, packing sand, carrying buckets of water, and finding adornments.  It ends.

It is over.

The deserted sandcastle will not be there in the morning.  The tide will roll in and take back each grain of sand. The waves that have brought the sand to shore, pulls them into the water.  Pushing them farther and farther out to sea until all that is left in its place is a memory.

Each day these memories are made for locals and visitors on the beaches of our Oregon Coast.  At the end of each day or long weekend, we take with us the memories of building our sandcastle.  The memories of time spent with family, friends and the sea.

Next weekend will bring a new idea.  New designs.  New treasures to decorate with.

More abandoned sandcastles.









Coming Home




We arrived in Oregon after driving 3000 miles in 6 days.  Our house is a week away from closing and I have never felt happier to be home with my sisters and family.

It's been 30 years since I graduated from this little towns old brick high school (which doesn't exist anymore) and the 1st time that coming home felt right.

It took that long for me to grow up beyond the expectation of others, to learn forgiveness, to value where I came from, to see that a simplier life is a great life, and finally, to be okay with the little country girl that lives inside my heart.

I am writing this from my phone sitting underneath an old black cherry tree. My view is the old red barn that my brother in law grew his prized 4H pigs in as a kid.  I am surrounded by acres of Christmas trees at all stages of life.  A few even dead and left behind.   I haven't sat in front of a computer in a month and it feels great.

I love Oregon or maybe I just love home. A place where they know me and yet still accept me with all my flaws, bumps, and rough edges.

Being with my sisters is a treasure box of memories, ideas, and moments of pure laughter.  It's been 20 plus years since we all lived in the same state.

Our trip to Oregon took us 6 full days. We had 1 flat tire in South Dakota on a pretty hot day in the middle of nowhere. Fortunately we were towing our extra car.  We unhooked and the girls and I hit the next little town for lunch.  We ended up on an  Indian Reservation at a local grocery store.  We bought lunch and they directed us to a park where we soon met up with Cory and Drake.

We continued on to Cory's aunt and uncle's home for two days of fun and family stories.  In Montana the temperatures reached over 100 degrees. We stayed cool by the pool during the day and enjoyed the cooler nights with our windows wide open.

Coming home is a journey; physically driving here but mentally wanting to be with my family too.  I can say it is worth every mile we traveled.

I have been cooking up a storm but nothing new.  Just simple homemade delicious meals.  Sitting outside under the shade of the huge oak trees and just outside the flower gardens where the hummingbirds and bees never stop buzzing and fluttering.

It's good to be home.