When Life Hands You …

I woke up by chance this morning at about 3:15 ..

I flipped on the tv, trying to decide whether I would get up and get to a few things I wanted and needed to do.

Or go back to bed.

While I was trying to decide, I happened to catch the following:

http://www.cbsnews.com/video/watch/?id=7409866n&tag=mncol;lst;1

So many great words here .. all of which I love, most of which I try to live by and many that I hope my daughter will internalize and remember someday when she needs to dig deep.  Make some tough decisions.  Apply herself.  Set goals.  Or just wake up and remember that being positive and having the right attitude about life can make all the difference in any God given day.

But because she’s getting to the age where she knows best and mom knows nothing so I won’t listen to you .. lalalalalalalalaalalalalalaaaaa …

(even though I know she does)

I thought I’d post this too.  Thinking, perhaps the wisdom and insight from many others will give her pause.

Someday, if my own history is any indication, she will remember my thoughts, hopes and dreams for her.  And she will pause, and hopefully along with that, smile.  Especially since I’m adding now to my arsenal (sorry, need to pilfer this one), one of the phrases from Jane Lynch, among the speakers featured in the CBS Early Show’s video montage:

If life gives you lemons, grab it by the horns and drive.”

Intentional combination of several metaphors, for the record.  And a lovely moment in the video if you have time to watch.  So many other great quotes to cite and may grab them in writing later but for now, love this one dearly.

Glad for some reason that I was awake and caught it.

And that I did finally decide it was wise to get a couple more hours of sleep.

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Foothills Rodeo ..

His old roping partner called him up about three weeks ago ..

Foothills Rodeo.

He was going to be back in town and thought it would be fun to enter.

The Cowboy didn’t want to do it.  Doesn’t like the thought of ‘doing something half-assed,’ he always tells me.  Or putting money up to rope when he hasn’t been working at it.

The Cowboy hasn’t been doing much rodeoing for a couple years now.. since the divorce and especially this past year.  Many weekends are spent on the road between South Dakota and Wisconsin.  To which I am grateful for, but I know they have put a serious dent in what used to be his lifestyle.

He told me about the call.

“C’mon,” I said.  “It’ll be fun .. plus, I’ve seen you teach others how to do it, I’d love to go watch you actually rope.  And I’ll be at the ranch that weekend.”

Reluctantly, I believe, he agreed to go.

…………………

We all piled into one of the Cowboy’s best buddies trucks just before noon Sunday, me, the Cowboy, Scuba Steve and his pregnant wife, and Little Brother Trucker ( .. his partner.  They’re going to kill me for the names.) yesterday, horses in tow and headed for the Foothills Rodeo.

“You’re on the hot and dusty now,” said the Cowboy.  Laughing.

It wasn’t long .. stories started flying about their history together.  Their travels.  Their friendships.  And all the things they would do to one another while on the road.  The Cowboy says these are among the best friends he has in the whole world.  He’s spent a lot of time with them over the years and he laughs as he tells me, you really get to know someone after spending 48 hours together in the same vehicle, sleeping in same bed, living in 5×5 quarters.  You have to learn a lot of coping skills on how to get along.

For them, and I would assume many others in their shoes, it’s meant a lot of pranks and joking around.

And it literally didn’t take long for the sh*t to start flying yesterday.  We no more than parked on rodeo grounds.  They get the horses out and the Cowboy goes back into the horse part of the trailer to take .. um, use the facilities.  Just number one for the record.  (If the horses can do it, why can’t they?  Had never thought of that.)  The trucker locks him in.  Apparently this is a regular thing they do, or did in the past .. to each other.

The Cowboy says, “Remember what I did to your brother the last time he did that to me?”

“N …” says the Trucker.

But before he could even finish that one small word, a wad of horse sh*t schmucked his shoulder and face.  We all bust out laughing and immediately starting wondering, worrying a bit actually what the Trucker would do now, to get him back.

Thankfully he had brought another shirt.

The rodeo came and went.  None of them did as well as they had hoped.  But where they may have taken it hard in the past, life has them all in some very different places now.  And it seemed …

.. they were just happy to be back together.

Win or lose.

Even locked in with the horses again.

You would have thought the bathroom at the restaurant where we stopped for dinner on the way home would have been as easy to use as the back of the trailer .. but Scuba Steve’s pregnant wife, who was about fed up with the teasing, decided it was too easy two of them were standing in there bonding with the horses, again.  She locked em in.  Said to the rest of us, get in the truck.  And away we drove ….

Looking forward to the next rodeo.

Placing flowers ..

While many are out on the boat this weekend, having picnics, gathering with friends,  enjoying the time off and not thinking much if at all about the reason for the extra day off …

Many others will be gathering in cemeteries throughout the nation .. placing flags .. thinking about the reasons for the holiday weekend and remembering loved ones who gave the ultimate gift of sacrifice.

…………..

I remember well, marching across the street from Poynette High School when I was young with a group from the band.  Standing there in the heat while names of the service men and women from our area who had been killed in action or who had passed, were read.  Listening to a speaker reflect on the reason we were all there and for the day.  Wincing while the gun salute was fired.

http://www.poynettepressonline.com/main.asp?SectionID=42&SubSectionID=151&ArticleID=5681

Everyone would stand around and talk for a few minutes afterwards, catch up .. and see who was heading over to the chicken barbecue at the VFW.

“We’ll see you in a few minutes ..” mom and dad would always tell friends.

But every year before we’d go, we would always stop by the headstones of family members also gone .. veteran or otherwise, we would tell stories or talk a little about who they were and make sure all the relatives had fresh flowers on their graves.

Geraniums were always part of the mix.  I never understood why.  But red geraniums were always planted up the cemetery.

I was never a big fan of them, that is until after mom passed .. but I love them now.  Because, I would assume, they remind me of her.

It’s hard to see, but there’s one in there.  My daughter and I took flowers up to my mom’s grave last weekend, as I was headed to the Cowboy’s for the Memorial Holiday weekend.  And she this year has the weekend with her dad.

Mom always loved fresh flowers and being in the garden during the spring, summer and fall.  Sometimes I wonder if it isn’t silly to spend time around the gravesite and feel close to her in some small way there.

But she is with me all the time.

I guess fresh flowers next to her grave, or any others who are family or friends .. sometimes I know of people who place flowers or a flag at the headstone of a stranger ..  Memorial Day weekend or otherwise, I just think it’s one small way to show they haven’t been forgotten..

“No …”

It seems one of my daughter’s favorite words recently has become ‘no’.  Like, I’m not even sure sometimes she realizes she is saying it or that she could stop should she choose .. because no matter the consequence it just keeps blurting out of her mouth.

…………….

“Little said is soonest mended.” – George Wither

…………….

Perhaps the above quote is why the stink eye my dad would shoot us .. even just the thought of him coming home and being told what we had done, was the fastest way for us to break out of whatever bad behavior we were exhibiting as children.  And instead of fights and punishment, we could all move on to throwing around the football together at the park next door, laughing and treating each other with respect .. or the chores we had been asked to do with no grumbling .. until mom called us in for dinner.

Back when I was a child …” I’ve found myself saying to my daughter more than a few times lately.

Boy I used to really get it for back talk.  Hand across the face.  The butt.  Grounded.  I think I have mentioned somewhere in all of these blog posts so far, I spent much of my young adult life alone in my room.  Grounded.  No radio.  Just me and myself.  Sitting there staring at my posters of C. Thomas Howell, Motley Crue and Ratt.  Come to think of it, it wasn’t all that bad.  Just kidding.  It stunk.  All that time alone in a room with nothing to do.  Plus, we had to walk 10 miles barefoot through the snow uphill both ways to get to my room, I’m pretty sure.  But I’m better for it now.

While all of that is running through my head as my own daughter pushes her limits, and I’m thinking, ‘what did she just say to me?’ ..

Externally, we work to find the appropriate tone of voice, the right volume, the right consequence and nip it in the bud.

But what is that anymore?  The right consequence?  Punishments many of us had, like spanking are just too cruel and controversial.  (Kitzie and Kellie, really?  Norwegian spanking paddle and bread board?  At least they had cooler names than ‘wooden spoon’, ‘the belt’ or ‘the hand’.)  A slap on the face, well that you just can’t do either anymore.  Soap in the mouth?  Do we question if that is still acceptable too?  I’m not saying do any of these things.  But I am saying, it seems more often than not we do little to nothing as a consequence for poor behavior out of fear its wrong – versus doing something.

And it seems because of this, there is growing concern we are raising a generation (if we haven’t already) of sassy, spoiled brats.  Is the the case?  I don’t know.  But I certainly am not wanting nor willing to add another to the mix.

How to solve?

It seems buying stock in soap is still a good idea based on answers to an informal little poll I took this evening.  Ivory, one of the more popular choices, at least from our parents generations.  And none of this liquid soap stuff.

Grab the bar and start chewing.

But besides setting a good example, having high expectations and not tolerating back talk from the get – go .. which I believe is easier said than done, we’ve all got to find that magic little ‘something’ that resonates as a consequence with our kids.  And make that work.

……………..

There is a perpetual flow of new information (books, magazines, web articles, bloggers,  friends with opinions, counselors, etc) coming out that talks about what works, what doesn’t, how to handle .. what’s normal, what might be ok or what shouldn’t be tolerated and what will happen if you do.

A book I have heard many others reference as a good resource, including counselors and psychologists .. is called “Getting to Calm“.  I have the book and my dear child, in the event it may come in handy, I will save my copy for you.  🙂  For anyone else this might benefit, here’s the link.

http://www.gettingtocalm.com/

As I was perusing the web tonight quickly on the topic, found this page too which seems to offer some good thoughts, observations and action items.

http://josseybasseducation.com/uncategorized/back-talk-excerpt-from-the-big-book-of-parenting-solutions-101-answers-to-your-everyday-challenges-and-wildest-worries-by-michele-borba/

We hopefully all find a solution that fits, works and that we want for our own family, based on not only what the experts might recommend, but from our own personal bias of history .. the things we vowed we would never do to our kids because we remember all too well what was done to us.

Or, because while we hated it, it worked.

Buena suerte ..

“May your regrets be …”

As I look at a text this morning from a friend ..

A phone call from late last night I need to return ..

And knowing and having to deal with the situations a few others close to me are in right now, I went looking this morning for a quote that might help each of them today find even an ounce of strength in .. some small piece of insight .. or wisdom.

Instead of a quote, I found the following passage from the book, What I Wish For You by Patti Digh .. which I feel can apply universally for so many of the circumstances we find ourselves in, in life ..

They are also thoughts that I just simply love, and words that capture much of how I try to live my own life and hope as well, for my daughter as she grows.

May your regrets be from loving too much

Do not be afraid to love.  Open your heart wide.  Throw back the curtains.  Let the sun in.  Prop the front door open, make a pitcher of lemonade, invite the world!  You never know whom you might meet.  Don’t be afraid to fall in love with ideas, with places, with subjects, with people.  You’ll fall in and out of love many times, but this is how we figure it out.  This is how we learn what we love, this is how we recognize what we want, this is how we know what we need and , maybe just as important, what we do not need.  But if we don’t immerse ourselves in this crazy life in the first place, we never get the chance.

Sometimes it will seem easier not to throw yourself into the fray.  You could get disappointed.  You could be rejected.  You could get hurt.  Better to be the one doing the disappointing, the rejecting, the hurting.  That’s the easier way, it seems.  But my most poignant regrets are of the times I could have rushed head long into love – into life! – and did not, out of fear.

If you take a chance on love, you might regret it.  But maybe we can only hope to end up with the right regrets.  Ideas, places, and (especially) people will disappoint you.  They will wound you.  They will not live up to your standards.  But they will also astonish you.  They will amaze you.  They will bring you more joy than you could imagine.  I wish you as much luck and love as possible, with a few regrets as possible.  But if they happen (and they probably will), may your regrets be from loving too much instead of not enough.

– contributed by Gabrielle Kaasa

One last note – I found “What I Wish For You” and “Gratitude” at one of my favorite local stores.  If you’re ever down on State Street and stop in:

http://www.danebuylocal.com/directory/gifts-kids-pets-home/driftless-studio-nature-gallery-gifts.html

Tell Anne ‘Conversations with a Cowboy’ says hello and that I sent ya.

Tennis, Anyone?

I was sad to have to drop my daughter off so early this past Saturday for a birthday party … but she adores the little girl who’s party it was and was so tickled to have been invited.

There was an out of town trip involved and an overnight stay .. so it was a big day.

“Have a great time!” I told her as I gave her a big hug and kiss and before the door quickly closed in my face, like I was chopped liver in comparison to the evening ahead.  Which, I was a kid once and excited to go to a friends birthday party.  Heck, even just a friends house.  No party involved.  So I understand.  And I’m good with that… mostly.

………….

Despite the fact I hate missing out on any opportunity to spend time with my child ..

The afternoon free gave me a chance to connect with some friends I don’t get to see often enough.  Not in a one-on-one setting anyway.

“Well, let’s get together.  We’ll golf, how does that sound?” my dear friend asked.

“Love to, I hardly had the chance to get out last year and I’ve missed it!” I replied.

A tee time showed up in my email hours later ..

Along with a notice of when my tennis lesson would be.

I laughed.

We had been talking about tennis and the fact I’ve always wanted to learn.  Not only do the two of them play, she teaches.  And I was about to get some one on one tutoring.

I have played tennis only one time in my adult life.  It was another lesson I took for a piece on how tennis is great exercise and a wonderful way to mix-up your workouts and challenge yourself in new ways.  And let’s just say, I was challenged.  And I was sore still about a week later.  I haven’t picked up a racket since.

I also had a tennis racket as a child and while I tried to learn, I also played softball and little league.  And that’s how I would inadvertently hit the tennis ball.  Over the fence.  We were constantly chasing it out on the highway because I couldn’t keep it on the court.  My brother then trashed my racket one day over who knows what.  That was the end of my efforts to learn.

But I love a challenge.  And tennis certainly is.  I only hit a few over the fence this past weekend.. so that’s improvement, right?  It’s now three days later and I’m still sore. Especially my core and arms.  Which means they got a good workout.  I’ve been needing to mix-up how I’m trying to keep my body in shape as a lifetime of running is taking its toll on my feet and knees.   Tennis, like running, is something you can take with you anywhere. And I’m excited to see if it might be something my daughter might like.  Win-win right?  All good things.

As I lace up my running shoes this morning, I’m thinking I need another lesson.  And that I don’t need to wait for another birthday party afternoon to get it scheduled.

A lover ..

“Honey, can I ask you a question,” I say to my 10-year-old this past week.

We were driving home after a full day of work, school and a running program she had and we were talking about the day.

“Sure,” she replied.

Her class had put on a poetry reading earlier that day for all the parents.  I was fortunate to be able to be in the audience.   One by one, the kids went back and forth, reading the various poems they had each put their heart and soul and 5th grade humor into.

“I loved your poetry, you did such a great job today,” I told her.  “It was fun to hear how you think about life and some of the words you use to describe yourself .. and how much you think of mom and dad.”

It really was.  She and her entire class did a great job, and they thoroughly seemed to enjoy the project and the fact we were all there to listen to their final works.

“I’m curious though.. ” I added.  “What did you mean in your ‘I Wish’ poem when you said you wish to be like me and that means you want to be a ‘lover?'” I asked.

Part of 5th grade poetry project

I heard the words come out of her mouth at the time.  But I wan’t sure if I should be flattered or mortified.  I just went with it and flashed her a smile as she looked back and forth between her dad and I.

I needed to understand her meaning .. what she meant by that particular word.  What it meant to her I was a ‘lover’.  And then I could decide whether or not I needed to further react.  I’ve always tried to be affectionate where it’s appropriate (because I think it’s important she see what a healthy relationship can look like), respectful in any relationship and discreet at all other times.  But had something happened I didn’t know about?  Had she seen something I should be concerned about?

As we all know .. that does happen.  (insert laughter)

At that moment though, that particular afternoon, I had to put it in the back of my mind and get back to work.

Fast forward to our ride home again in the car .. and having the chance to ask her about it.

“It means that you love everyone.  You are nice to everyone.  Even when they are mean to you,” she said to me.  “I want to be just like you when I grow up.”

“Really?  That’s how you see me,” I asked her.

“Yes … you are just so nice to everybody.”

Sigh of relief ..

Now, if I can just pass that piece of knowledge along to the other parents who might be wondering what her definition of a ‘lover’ is too …

………………

I was talking later with the cowboy.

“Your are a lover,” says the Cowboy, laughing.

“It’s your best quality and your worst enemy,” he added.  “It’s your worst when people use it to take advantage of you, because you automatically love everybody.  But I don’t want you to change.”

All very sweet.  I’m grateful that is how some others see me.  Most importantly, my daughter.  I just don’t see why there is reason to treat others in any way other than with kindness and respect.

“How did you get to be that way, do you think,” the Cowboy asked.  I don’t ever remember a time I didn’t feel that way, that it was important to treat others kindly.  But it probably stemmed from always feeling like my role was that of peacekeeper at home growing up, now that I think about it.  That’s how I remember it anyway.  Right, wrong or indifferent.

All I want my child to know and that I hope she learns more quickly than I did .. there are exceptions to that rule.  The exception the Cowboy so eloquently pointed out above.

Being too nice can come back to bite you if you’re not careful because people will take advantage.  If there is one thing I would wish for my daughter it would be that she’s better at recognizing that than I am as she gets older – and nipping it in the bud.  While I still have some work to do, I have gotten better about it.  And I have made some important decisions in my adult life because I’ve come to realize … knowing when to let go or walk away sometimes, means treating yourself as kindly as you strive to treat others.