Sometimes …

Sometimes… sometimes it isn’t church people need to reground them.  Like I talked about yesterday.

Sometimes it’s a mountain.  I used to hike when I lived in Montana and that always felt like going to church.  Even looking at the mountains.  Peaceful.

Sometimes it’s a good book that takes people away.  The Cowboy and I were talking about insightful versus just good fiction reads tonight.. as we spent some time at the bookstore.

Maybe a long, hard workout.  Or a hot yoga class.

Or a ride.  On a bike.  (Sarah, never noticed the police sticker on the back of the bike until was posting this pic from our ride.. curious of the story behind it!)

Or, a horse.

Maybe a concert.  The dog park.  Or a night out with friends.

There are a lot of things that help someone let go, step back, escape for even a few minutes.

Sometimes though .. there is just NOTHING like a good vacation.  Forces you to step outside the drama of the everyday.  Helps hit the reset button.

If I could send a few wonderful people on a good vacation right now, for even a few days, I believe the world would be a much more calm, happy place.  Maybe.

Maybe not.  But sometimes, it is nice to think about, if not try.  Because then, even if it is for a few moments, you can pull yourselves away from their drama.

Tomorrow’s blog (I think. If nothing else pressing comes up):  Why it’s not called ‘a lasso’.  Or, perhaps, ‘what happens when your child walks in on ….’ You know, a much lighter, mortifying topic.

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About more than you or me …

There is this room I will often go to within our church, to pray.

Which.. is why I go there, actually.

It’s called the prayer room.

It is beautiful.  Quiet.  Sunlight on a Sunday morning almost always is streaming through the windows.  Even when it’s gray outside.  It seems the sunlight finds its way in.

And when I need to gather my thoughts, further ground myself in life and in my faith and sit tight for a moment, really wrap my head back around the reality of how small any of our problems are in the big scheme of things.. this is one of the places I like to go.

And I needed time there today.

I have so much to be thankful for .. and I don’t feel like I can ever express my gratitude enough for the gifts I personally have in my day-to-day.  For the people in my life and for the opportunities to grow, explore and help wherever I can.  And time.  After losing too many I love in this life, I am keenly aware of the gift of time.

Time is one of those things you can never get back.

Which is why I pray today so much of the stress, animosity and unnecessary anger I’m seeing ruin time, opportunity and relationships around me.. find some way to heal.  And this isn’t aimed at any one person or group of people, contrary to what they might want to believe.  I see it at work, in the lives of many whom I love, in our community, in our state right now and everyday in the news.

I try, in the time I ever get to spend sitting alone in that little room, with the sun on my face.. to always focus my thoughts on what issues I can own, what I can work on myself, what I might help others with and then I give the rest over to God.

Now, I don’t mean to go all ‘church’ on anyone here.  But I think its important, especially as this is a day to day journal/personal account and legacy project of my own for my daughter .. that she understand, my faith is an important part of who I am.

I try and go as often as I can to church because I find it healing.  She and I love to go together whenever possible, she actually enjoys it to the point she asks to go.  The Cowboy and I have especially been doing all we can to make it to church when he is visiting as well.  I love that we all are able to share this.

And as we’ve been dealing with what seems an extraordinary amount of drama, hurt and challenges as of late .. from all angles .. family .. life, career …..on a micro-level:

The message today couldn’t have been any better.  (It’s how I usually feel each week as we get into the sermon.  That there couldn’t have been a more appropriate message to address and help me think through how I’m living my day to day, based on the challenges of that particular week.  I hear a lot of parishioners at our church say the same .. )

We all get so caught up in our own stuff…

That we forget, the world is actually a very big place.

Where most people are actually trying literally .. to just survive.

Their problems are no food.  Unsafe drinking water.  Personal safety.  Trying to keep a roof over their heads.

And I’m/we’re focusing our time and energy .. where?

http://living-earth-desktop.en.softonic.com/download

The link above is to an app called Living Earth our pastor pointed out this morning.

“When God sees our planet… he sees over all of this,” explaining what the app shows.  “We’re completely different.  When left to ourselves, we think its just about ourselves,” he said

“We get an idea,” he added .. “that the world is .. ‘our own little sphere’.  Our little neighborhood or our little county.  (He pauses)  The world is big.  A lot bigger than our little sphere.  God is committed to blessing the entire world.  This app reminds me of God’s concern and love for the entire world … And he’s doing that through ordinary people, like us.”

How can we make a difference?

How can we remember, as we’re enveloped into our day to day and head back out into our own little worlds after the service ends each week….

..that there is a bigger world out there.  A world God needs to pay just as much attention to, if not more than many of the issues we feel overwhelmed by here at home.

How can we work together, to heal a broken world.  State.  Neighborhood.  Or home.

I’m pretty sure I’ll find my way back to the prayer room to contemplate that again in the near future.

In the meantime.. for anyone that might read this and cares to hear more from todays sermon –  http://www.blackhawkmedia.org/MP3/2012Feb19.mp3

Runners étiquette ..

We hadn’t gone far Saturday morning..

When we ran across another runner.

“Hi,” I said …

“Hi,” … she replied.  Smiling.

The Cowboy was running alongside me.  He said nothing.  The only sound coming from him, now a step in front of me to make room on the path for the other runner .. was his breathing and the sound of his shoes hitting the bare pavement.

“Hey,” I said.  “I’ve never asked, but do you know runner’s etiquette?”

The Cowboy starts laughing…

“You remember where I live, right?” says the Cowboy.  Now we’re both laughing.  “The only thing I run by when I go running… are some cows.”

…….

I love that I live in a city full of runners.  Long distance, short distance, professionals and novice runners.  And I couldn’t live on a bigger thoroughfare for athletes in this town.  I’m just a hop, skip and a jump from the main loop many train on each day, so hitting the path to do something I’ve done since I was just a little kid, do now to stay in shape and enjoy immensely, is easy.

While it may seem like you just go out and jog.. there are some rules runners live by.  (Despite being a runner, I do not know them all..)

First, say hello when you pass another runner.  Or at the very least, a small wave as you glance over and keep going on your journey.  When others are on the path, or if you’re on a sidewalk, stay in your ‘lane’.  If someone is coming at you, stay to your right.  If you’re on the street because there are no sidewalks, do the exact opposite.  Run into traffic so that they can better see you and you them.  Keep your shoes tied.  Your head up, unless you’re running a big hill and then sometimes its better to look down right in front of where you’ll take your next step so that the hill doesn’t look so intimidating.  Long distance runs?  Strike heel to toe, don’t land on the ball of your foot.  Sprinting is another story.  And breathe.  Probably the most important there.  Some of those last points weren’t etiquette.  Just good advice I’ve gotten over the years.  I think.  Take it or leave it.

One more thing, if you’re running with a dog.. or even walking, pick up after it for the love of Pete.  (Don’t ask who Pete is.  Just needed a name there.  And picking up after them, a discussion yet to come..)

The first time I took the Cowboy running with the dogs, he had one of their leashes full out and almost clotheslined a biker who expected that as they got closer, the dogs leash would get shorter and the dog out of his way.  If I weren’t laughing so hard trying to help the Cowboy reign in the dog.. I might have been mortified.

As we laugh.. there is a seriousness to it all.  And a system.  And we chuckle as we get ready to head out on another run..  they forgot to add, ‘say hello’.

There are over 40 miles of bicycle paths in Madison. These paths are used by a variety of users; including bicycle commuters, recreational bicyclists, families, pedestrians and skaters. By following a few basic rules, these paths can be shared safely by all users.

  • All users should keep to the rightside of the path, except to pass.
  • When traveling side-by-side, stay on the right half of the path.
  • Faster users should yield to slower users.
  • Always travel at a safe speed,with due regard for others. Faster users may want to consider alternate routes to ensure the safety of all users.
  • Pass others on the left by slowing down, giving an audible warning such as calling out, “Excuse me, passing left”, and waiting for a reaction before passing.
  • Move off the pathway when stopping.
  • Be careful when crossing streets and driveways. Watch for traffic and make sure other drivers are aware of the path and your presence.

I won’t lie…

I was supposed to get together with a girlfriend tonight .. she asked to reschedule.  She hasn’t been feeling well.

I gladly obliged.  Everyone around me lately has been sick.

SO…

I’m hanging out at one of my fav coffee /wine shops in town.  And I’m strangely, really good with that.  (Although I keep running into people I know here and writing this is taking forever)

The Cowboy just called.  It’s late to start a drive from South Dakota to WI.  But, he’s on his way.

Sigh.  Of relief.

I won’t lie…

I wasn’t sure he was going to come, quite honestly.  It’s been a rough past 48 hours ..

He’s been pretty bummed, I think, since the House Bill passed as is.

He’s not sure what it will mean.  If anything.  To improve his time with the kids.  And if it doesn’t, where does that leave them all.  Any of the parents in his shoes.  If it’s not ‘a better place’ so to speak, if there are no guarantee spending thousands more on taking this all back to court so that there is a more equal split of time with the kids between homes, what will happen?  What can he possibly do then to change things?  Anything?  Does he stay?  Keep taking it on the chin?  Make the most of his 4 days a month?  Is there a chance visitation guidelines are next to change.  Or, does he step back.  Is it better for them to not be stuck between the conflict of their parents?  Does he go about his life and hope his kids will be ok?   Hope above everything else, they know he loves them?

Where does this leave them?  Any better than they were before?  Was it worth sticking his neck out?  Day to day that answer varies as of late.  One day he feels it was.  The next .. he’s not so sure.

So he’s been in a funk.

And he’s needed a good couple of days to hang out in that space.

My challenge, rather, our challenge;  I’m not good with funk.  I can handle it, for a bit.  But I’m not good at allowing myself – or someone else, especially someone I love so dearly, to stay there for long.  Bummed.  Feeling sorry for themselves.  Frustrated.  I want to help.  But sometimes you just can’t.  SO..  we’ve had a bit of a rough patch.

He feels there’s no way I can understand.  And that its ok for someone to be down.  Not for long, but for longer than I was giving him.  I don’t know that I can ever fully understand.  I can’t imagine being totally in his shoes where I don’t have time with my daughter and the leverage of equal time and placement.  But my instinct is to say, let’s roll.  Let’s fix it.  Let’s get you all to wherever that better place is.  All, including, the ex and her entourage.  Write down what your hopes are.  Let’s figure out how to achieve.  Let’s go….

Because I can always think of a situation worse .. to be in.

I’m a glass half full girl.  If we’re healthy and we’re alive, God has a plan.  And, it’s going to be okay.

He’s probably right though.  I am impatient.  And I should have given him a bit more time to swallow a very bitter pill.  Grieve, quite honestly, that the best chance he had at healing some of the wounds divorce has caused he and his kids, wasn’t going to happen.  Not this time, anyway.

With a little experience and some time post my own divorce, under my belt, I have hope.

….

He’s on his way.  Almost here ..actually, by the time I actually post this.

I can’t wait to see him.  We are thankfully past any frustrations.  Neither of us likes being in that place, either.  Upset that is, with each other or in life.  I debated whether or not to write about this tonight, but I felt it important both to give this follow up to the events earlier this week.  And to be realistic about the fact not everything between he and I or any couple for that fact, can always feel or be perfect.

Was it worth sticking his neck out there?  Will some of the terrible events of the past couple weeks somehow mean a better future for the Cowboy and his kids (and his ex)?  While that remains to be seen there were two things that helped snap him out of his funk today.

First, that we will see each other again here shortly.

But far bigger and better than that:

The ex allowed him a few hours tonight that ‘weren’t his’ (no one’s asking why there was this astonishing turn of events or heart, everyone is just reveling in it – giddy, really at the gift of extra time together) .. with his daughter.

It was a daddy/daughter dance at church.

Something he’s looked forward to since mom, earlier this week, said they could go together.  He bought her a wrist corsage.  Mom got her beautifully dressed up.  And the two danced the night away.  Before the clock struck 9.  And he had to take her back home.

“We had the best time,” he said when he called after dropping her off.  “She said she felt like a princess .. we danced the entire night.  At least until they pulled out the roping dummies at the very end, and I had to help everyone learn how to rope.”

I almost spit my wine out as I laughed…

Only in South Dakota I think to myself.  Then I realize, probably not.  I’m learning how many more places would do this.  Anyway..

As I sat at my little table earlier tonight with my glass of wine and started to type.. I said a little toast, to them all.  Congratulations for a beautiful night.  May this be the start of only good things to come.

Small victories.

It has been a long past several weeks of watching someone I love really go out of his comfort zone .. sticking his neck out to do the right thing.

It hasn’t been easy.

And that is an understatement.

But the goal has always been, a healthier situation for the three children he and his ex-wife brought into this world together.  And for them all as a family, even in divorce.  So he’s stuck it out.  And stuck to the issue.  And shut out the noise of others working against him/others walking in his same shoes.

‎”Never bend your head. Always hold it high. Look the world right in the eye.”

– Helen Keller

The South Dakota Senate today passed House Bill 1055, a bill that aims to do what is in the best interest of children by working toward 50/50 placement whenever and wherever  possible.  It may not be the bill the Cowboy and others had hoped for.  Because it still only encourages a judge to give both parents equal placement when its in the best interest of a child.  But there were concerns the companion Senate bill went a bit too far.

HB 1055 is a small victory.

Or..

Maybe it is big.  Maybe even this small change will ripple further than anyone realizes.  Who can tell what the impact will be for children to spend more equal time with both parents and their families.. families who love and want to help raise them, parents who are encouraged through this legislation to better get along, to co-parent in a manner currently not fostered in the state of South Dakota.  Who can at this moment, fully appreciate what that will mean and the impact it will have on a child?

HB 1055 now heads to the Governor’s desk.

It is both sad yet wonderful everything involved with this discussion, *every letter written, every piece of testimony, will remain a matter of public record.  Because someday, the Cowboys children will understand just how hard their dad fought for them..  how much of a stand he had to take, to simply do what one might think would come natural – and that’s be their dad.

I don’t know that anyone reading this blog is among those I feel compelled to say something to, but:

On behalf of the Cowboy, a sincere thank you to all who worked hard for this, from the other dads, moms and grandparents who testified, to those who wrote in, to the legislators who took a stand, who came back at this year after year, who held meetings and who have been studying the issue to try and get it right this time.  Is it right?  We will see.  But still, thank you.  Thank you to the other dads who for years, have done their best to pave the way toward change.  Thank you especially .. to the legislators who fought hard to be the voice for so many children and families in your state, who otherwise might feel like no none cares that they are hurting.  And, for making sure dirty politics weren’t played today as best you could, for thoroughly understanding both sides of an issue because you had today, information from both sides.  Thank you for what may be seen as only a small victory by some.

I’m hoping in one little corner of South Dakota, that small victory will someday soon .. grow into a big fat wonderful opportunity for a good man to have more time, less stress, less conflict and all the space possible to love his kids.

Love this …

I asked friends this Valentines Day for some advice when it comes to love.  Thoughts they might share and pass along to a younger generation.  To help them realize certain things before it is too late.  To help others learn from the mistakes they, rather we all have made.  To take the best advice now, that they perhaps were given too late.

While I may still share some of those thoughts in a post yet to come ..

This is all I want to share at the moment.

Words that this week, I saw for the first time (SO sorry, Bob Marley!  I must lead a more sheltered life than I thought) thanks to a blog founded by someone I’ve had the privilege to work with:

http://thecollegecrush.com/2012/02/real-valentines-day-hes-not-perfect/

They are, this Valentines Day, words that struck me as beautiful.  And real.  And not sugar coated about love.  But inspiring.  Something few cards I’ve ever found in the aisles at any store have been able to give me over the years.

And, they are words that make me smile.  Because, how many of us have gotten to a place where we know perfect doesn’t exist in a relationship.  But amazing and connected, respectful, supportive and full of crazy awesome .. does.

“He’s not perfect. You aren’t either, and the two of you will never be perfect. But if he can make you laugh at least once, causes you to think twice, and if he admits to being human and making mistakes, hold onto him and give him the most you can. He isn’t going to quote poetry, he’s not thinking about you every moment, but he will give you a part of him that he knows you could break. Don’t hurt him, don’t change him, and don’t expect for more than he can give. Don’t analyze. Smile when he makes you happy, yell when he makes you mad, and miss him when he’s not there. Love hard when there is love to be had. Because perfect guys don’t exist, but there’s always one guy that is perfect for you.” 

― Bob Marley

Not sure about good title here …

I had called this ..I think 1.)  Having all your fingers.. 2.)  Fingers  3.)  A full set of digits but I’m not really sure any of them convey the sentiment here.  So going with what’s above.

I mentioned in an earlier post .. my dad and I spent a couple hours together on the computer, together over the weekend.

It was kind of fun..

He was initially helping me get set up so that I could write here on the blog over the weekend.  He had no intention of staying on the computer with me.

We were also getting his new video phone working, so that anytime we’d like now, we can better connect and see each other in the process.

…..

My dad isn’t a big fan of technology.

He heats with a wood stove.

He fixes anything he can himself.

He feeds the birds off his back porch….

Out of his hand.

He’d place a call anyday over typing a note.

In part because he wants to.  But also in part, because it is his comfort zone.

I had never really thought much about why that was, until this past weekend.

My dad never grew up on a keyboard.  In fact, the typewriter at that time was the only keyboard anyone knew.  Growing up on a farm, in a very not well-to-do family, in a very blue collar town, a young boy didn’t spend, I’m assuming a whole lot of time typing anything.

He went into the service after school…. still, no keyboard.

Then his entire career was spent moving up the ranks at a WI manufacturing plant.

On occasion, toward the end of his what, 40+ year career .. he had to input I believe, a few numbers.  But pretty much, no typing.

…..

As my life has increasingly moved online and his has not, he and I have both gotten frustrated, respectfully, that we have not found a better way to stay in touch.

After sitting with him Saturday I now better understand why he’s resisted being online.

He doesn’t like typing.  He doesn’t understand well, his way around the computer, let alone Facebook.  (That is one place we navigated around for a long time this past weekend).

Challenges of typing after all these years ..

But I also was reminded .. to be honest with you…. he only has half his fingers.  Literally. They were sadly, partially chopped off years ago, early in his career, by a very sharp blade on a machine that cut the materials that go into air filters and your furnace.  I believe.  Its happened to quite a few of his colleagues.  And my brother, who today works for the same company, even with safety guards, has almost done the same.

He’s never been all that self conscious about it, or I might be a little more shy about sharing.  And I’ve never seen it hold him back, anywhere.  Which is why I think I’m so shocked I didn’t realize this before:

It is simply challenging for him to find the keys.  It takes him a very long time, because he is not only unfamiliar with where the keys are.. but his fingers can’t reach the keys.  So, he pokes along each letter of each word.  Looking up occasionally to see if he’s spelled everything right – since the last time he looked up.  And when it isn’t, its easier sometimes to just delete and log off, than it is to take the time to painstakingly find each letter again.

He’d rather be out feeding the birds.

…..

As ironic as this sounds, I think I need to start putting my cell phone down more often if I’m going to start talking more with my dad.  Because of my schedule, typically, I don’t call.  I text.  It is my preferred method of communication in part because its what works.  Not always practical, I know.  He, on the other hand, doesn’t even have a cell.  He has a home phone.  And he calls.  (And now, thanks to one of my colleagues, a new videophone).  Perhaps after spending a couple hours together walking through the likes of Facebook.. he’ll find it more user friendly, and he’ll use it!  We are off, for the record, to a really good start.

In the meantime, we will both keep trying our best to connect, however that looks.

And to that, we both hit the “Like” buttom.  Definitely worth a thumbs up (fortunately, he does still have both of those)!