Mr. Hyman ..

I was walking the other day out of an event, one of my favorite of the year .. with a few dear friends.  We were some of the last to leave, having helped clean everything up and putting the place, a camp for kids with disabilities, back to semi-normal.

One:  A wise friend and mentor to us all and one of the programs biggest supporters .. who has been married to one of the most wonderful women now, for 40 plus years.

The other two:  A sweet young couple I have gotten to know well and who I just love.  And who at some point, I fully expect these two will get married.  Sooner than later if my girlfriend has anything to say about it.  She can’t hint to her rockstar boyfriend enough she is ready for the ring.

…………..

“I hear you’re getting married!” he says to me, seeming genuinely excited and sincere about it all.  “That’s just great .. ” he adds, among a few other wonderful thoughts and observations.  I have known this gentleman a very long time. His company was one of the first I went to work for long ago just out of high school .. we have remained friends ever since, having many mutual close friends, colleagues and causes that are important to us.

“If I can offer you one piece of advice, because I really do want things to work out for you with this one … ” he says .. which had I been drinking coffee or any sort of beverage, I would have spit it out laughing.  For as sweet as I know he was being with that comment, it just struck me as funny.

He continued.  “Something my wife and I have been blessed to have always done.  Don’t ever go to bed upset with one another.”

Agreed.   Not going to bed angry is a goal I have always strived for.  I think we all do.  But, we also all know it’s not always easy .. is it.  Sometimes circumstance and personalities get in the way no matter how much you may try to hit that goal.

This dear friend continued to share a story about one of the most important lessons he learned from one of his High School teachers way back when he was a ‘young buck’, Mr. Hyman.  “Hyman,” I asked?  I had to chuckle.  Hyman, he confirmed.  Know it’s spelled differently but for a teacher that name had to be tough.  Anyway ..

Mr. Hyman had apparently told his class long ago when our friend was a student, ‘Marriage is a lot of work.  And you may think each of you needs to give 50/50 to make it work.  But it’s not.  One person always end up putting in 90% of the effort.  And the other person, also needs to put in 90% of the effort.  And somewhere in there you hope it adds up to 100%.”

Lessons we learn firsthand being in a marriage.

Being out of one as well.  That’s a lesson that can apply to many things in life.

………………….

Going back into another union of hearts, dreams, families and all that goes along with that is a conversation the Cowboy and I have had on countless occasions.  Not wanting to repeat past mistakes.  Taking care to not take for granted what the other does or contributes.  Knowing there is always work the other is doing or energy being put in that shouldn’t be taken for granted.  Communication that needs to happen about life, with each other, to each other that doesn’t involve bills, the kids, the ex’s and problems.  Dreams always need to be shared.  Dates always need to be had.  Respect for each other and who we are as individuals as well as together is the goal.  Acknowledging that’s a lot of hard work, but deciding it’s worth it because the reward of a family that cares about each other, supports each other, is kind to one another, roots their day and actions in their faith, talks happiness, works only for the best and expects only the best of each other and delights in the good in the world around them sure beats the alternative.

Plus it’s no fun going to bed mad each night.

And my eyes always get puffy from crying so it’s just not pretty either.

It was only a few years after sharing his marriage insights in class, Mr. Hyman got divorced.  Successful outcome of the marriage or not, it is still a good reminder that while it may not always look like both parties in a marriage or a job or any relationship are putting in all they can and more, often they are.  And while we can always work harder and give more, we hope that in giving all we’ve got, no matter the ratio, it adds up to a beautiful life.  Even when its not always pretty.

Summer camp ..

“She can check in starting at 2pm, and we plan to be there between 2 & 2:15 so she can get a “good” bunk.”
……………..
I met my ex and our daughter at drop-off for camp this past Sunday .. can’t believe we’re halfway through the week already.  
It’s the second year in a row now, we’ve done a week of overnight camp.   She’s wanted to do it for a long time but finally mustered up the courage this past year for her first week away from home.  She didn’t want either of us, her parents, to leave.  But then at pick-up, she .. as you can expect, also didn’t want to come home.
I’m so excited for her, camp was always something I enjoyed so much as
a kid, but never got to do much of.  Went to one track and field FCA camp .. basketball camp a couple times .. but that was pretty much it.  Ever.  I felt pretty lucky I got to go to those that I did.  And very few of our friends ever went either so I thought it was the norm that camp was a pretty big deal.
My (our) daughter on the other hand, has pretty much been in camp non-stop on some level each summer as she’s grown up, because quite honestly it’s been one of the easiest, most reassuring she’s in good hands and economical options for her parents (myself and the ex).  She’s gotten some great experience and had a ton of fun over the years.  Music, sports, water, pure social, acting, art, animals, you name it .. she’s probably been at the camp.  Week after week.  Just about every summer.
But last summer..
She asked to not have to go so much.  And as she’s gotten older, I agree.  There are better ways for us to manage the time involved, the value of and the expense of it all.  Plus, there are only a few camps anymore she really asks to go to .. some she’d like to attend and a few I think would be good for her.  And I want her to be able to have those experiences.  
This week, it’s horse camp.
And .. it’s only the hottest week so far of the year with temperatures soaring into the 90’s for days on end.  I’ve been a bit worried about the girls and the staff this week .. I called to ask a counselor this morning if there might be anything any of the parents can do or bring ..
“No, we should be good,” replied the young woman who answered.    
They will be spending perhaps not as much time on horseback this week and more time on field trips or in a pool or spraying each other with water.  Either way, she told me, they are good and camp will be keeping a close eye on them all.
Whew ..
Can’t wait to see her Saturday.  Hear all about it.  And have some downtime together before ‘Camp Bayfield’ next week, not really camp.  But where we’ll all be together with the Cowboy and his kids and a few friends .. and just have time to play.
…………….
“Did you go to summer camp when you were a kid,” I ask the Cowboy this morning as we chatted quick over the phone.
“No.  Well, we went to rodeo bible camp.  But our camp was going to rodeos every weekend with the family.  That was camp,” he added.
…………….
There truly are so many great values to camps:  Opportunities to learn new things, do good things, meet new friends, earn new responsibilities, grow, change, evolve, be active in ways you wouldn’t otherwise .. I feel blessed to have such great resources in our area to send her to.
However ..
I am just as fired up for her to have more downtime this year.  To not have to go all the time.  To not still believe every child gets to go to different, fun camps all summer long, because many don’t.  It is a luxury not every family can afford or chooses to even if they can.  But it’s a great option.
The other option we’re excited about .. (during her time with mom anyway) will be spent with the neighbor boy and his mother, who is a teacher.  She will be keeping them busy for awhile each morning doing some math and spelling to keep them progressing hopefully as they both head toward their first year of middle school.   That will be part of the day.  The other part will include responsibilities at home, chores around the house and taking care of the animals she so desperately loves and wants to have but truly has no idea how much work they are.  Most importantly she will also have a great opportunity to spend time doing what a lot of other kids do during the summer .. and that is, enjoy some free-time.  Figure out how to not be bored on their own.  Be a kid.  
Chances are .. anyone reading is all grown up by now and knows how quickly camp .. summer .. and being a kid flies by.


Work hard, play hard .. playing catch up:

It’s been a busy past couple of weeks ..  spring/early summer always seem to be anymore, don’t they?  Good busy, but whew .. busy.

So much to do ..  projects to get done, events to go to, family and great friends to see and get caught up with, especially now that the windows are open once again and the neighborhood has once again come alive!  Sadly, there never seems to be enough time to just let it all soak in and fully enjoy.

But we try.

In an effort to get somewhat caught up on posts without having to write two weeks worth:

First official week of summer.  6th grade here we come!  Downtime for my daughter means  coming home to concoctions in the refrigerator that are unidentifiable but that she says she wants to eat.  Friends high school/college graduation parties.  Family graduation parties, too.  Family gatherings.  Time at the River.  Gigs.  Practicing guitar.  Catching up with old friends.  Work.  Camps.  Catching up on meetings.  Taking on new projects.  Wrapping up old ones.  Watering the garden.  Trying to fit in a workout.  Time in the backyard with the neighbors.  Chasing my dog back home. Time with the Cowboy.  Time with his kids.  More gigs.  Seeing my daughter off to camp (she’s so excited, more to come on that mañana).

Getting back to church.  Special projects at work.  Golf events in the name of good causes.  90+ degree heat.  No air conditioning at home.  Father’s Day bbq.  Farmers Market.  New phone.  Not liking new phone.  Trying to figure out how to get photos off new phone.  Trying to find time to take new phone back and return for another new, different phone.  Trying to fit in another workout (longer than the one before because I didn’t leave enough time for a good hearty one that’ll work off the beer I so enjoy having, especially on a hot summer night).  Looking for the right wedding dress.  Telling family/close friends that I’d prefer hear from me that I’m getting married .. that I’m getting remarried.  Still trying to find the right wedding dress in part, because I don’t really want a wedding dress.  Just a nice dress that I can wear again that won’t cost me really much at all if anything.  In fact, my favorite choice so far is an awesome crocheted piece I got at a resale shop a couple years ago now for $10.  I digress .. Tonight, conversations with the Cowboy centered around trying to find just the right bible versus for what will be a very quiet, simple ceremony, while having a glass of chilled white wine.  Which means, I need to fit in a workout tomorrow morning before leaving early for work and a day of shoots for the upcoming month of sweeps.  That’s my deal with myself.  I can have a beer or a glass of wine as long as I get in a run at some point during the day.  How’s that for a pact.  The pounds, as some of you know when you age, don’t come off as easily as they used to .. so I’d rather not get incredibly far behind.  Or I’ll develop a big behind.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that ….

The Cowboy’s daughter said to me this weekend as we were all doing cartwheels on the Capital lawn during the Farmer’s Market .. ‘not too bad for a 40 year old!’.  “Gee, thanks” I told her, trying to act frustrated but could hardly keep back from laughing.

(last couple weeks cont.) .. oh yeah, few more things to add and then feeling more caught up.  Also been consumed with Root beer.  Ice cream.  Kayaking out on the lake amongst all the weeds.  Stand Up Paddleboarding with a woman I absolutely adore.  Trying to figure out how to do yoga on a paddle board.  Wine after paddle boarding.  Finding a bike in the lake while climbing a tree.  Larry who’s not really Larry but who was awesome at helping my daughter pull seaweed out of the tires of the bike and clean it off so that we could put it in a friends car (the paddle boarder!).  Which reminds me, need to go pick that up.  Note to self.

Tying up out of control tomato branches so rest of garden can breathe.  Fans in the window again.  And again.  Sunflowers on the table.  Conversations about faith and family and doing what’s best.  Or what we believe is best.  Making tough decisions.  Keeping those close to the vest for now.  Talking with a friend who’s mother’s cancer is progressing.  Madison Children’s Museum.  Making soap.  Not going to the Union.  Birth father stopping by and getting to better know some of my half siblings (who are just incredible kids).  Raspberry pie.  And shortly .. will be putting shoes by the door so I can boogie on another quick run in the morning and not spend time trying to figure out where I last left one or both of them.  Or do I just get on the road to today’s golf outing.  Love that someone came up with the idea to get people to golf to support great causes.

Excited to write about camp tomorrow ..

When you can’t control ..

There are a lot of things *worth* making a big deal about in life.

I have an amazing friend that I don’t see often enough, especially anymore because of a move and his retirement, who I can’t believe what he has seen, done and had happen to him in his life .. the loss of two children, a third with severe disability, a major health diagnosis for his spouse, and that’s just to start .. situations that might bring any of the rest of us to our knees.  Yet he gets up everyday, volunteers, goes to work, has the brightest eyes and biggest smile on his face and he just gets at it everyday.

That’s a lot for anyone to deal with.  Those things change you.  They have to.  And they can change a person for better or for worse in an instant.

Most of the time though .. we have little things, issues or challenges, deadlines, tasks, whatever .. thrown at us constantly throughout the course of a day.  And usually, there is little the Universe can truly throw at us that can’t be taken in stride.  That we can’t entrust, if not to God, to someone else.  Or ourselves.

Unless .. we perhaps have some issues with needing control.

There was a time in my life when I used to wonder why life, (I was told), was so bad.  So hard.  I felt horrible because no matter how bad things have ever actually been, I’ve always tried to find the silver lining.  I try to always be open to the fact I can do things better and take ownership of issues that are mine .. deal with them or make peace with the fact they are just my issues and minimize the impact on others.  Like the fact I often try to get one more thing done before I have to be somewhere which often, not always, but often where I feel I might have some leeway, has me running behind.

I have also far too often over the years, tried to take on issues I am told were or are mine.  But they’re not.  It took me a very long time to recognize that.  I used to wonder what was wrong with me that I didn’t see things the way I was told they were.  That perhaps I just didn’t get it.

In some cases, things are a big deal.  And, I try to always give credit where credit is due.

It’s tough though when everyone comes at things from their own past experience, personality and perspective.  So how big a deal something might be to one versus another is all very relative.

But after you’ve been through some actual, real sh*t in life, your realize what’s worth making a huge fuss or demands or threats over and what’s not.

It’s taken me a long time to get to a place where I have learned to better recognize this and  compartmentalize when issues are my own that I need to own ..

And when they’re just someone else’s .. appreciate that fact, and let it go.

Still, no matter how far you may try to remove yourself, sometimes you just keep getting dragged into the drama others need to create.  (And let me just clarify, this fortunately has nothing to do with the Cowboy.  Other than at times we both get to share/swap stories and ponder solutions to the everyday chaos around us.)

…………………….

While I’ve paid good money over the years to understand this and get to this place where I am currently at .. there are some valuable lessons I think in sharing stories, situations or resources.

http://drphil.com/articles/article/320

http://www.compatamate.com/Relationships/control.html

Whether or not it’s from me, Dr. Phil .. or any of the thousands of resources/forums available on Google which I won’t bore you with here .. there are lessons here I’d love for my daughter to learn, especially as she ages.  I hope she more easily recognizes a person with control issues than I can or ever did.

It would help tremendously even in situations like the one she and her best friend found themselves in this past year ..

Where a third little girl who so desperately wanted to be both their friends, did what she could to create chaos between the two, in order to come in and be the one to save the day.  She wanted them both to need her and like her best.  Versus just being a good person to like and love, who looked at herself for the person she wanted to be and stood firm in that .. (not easy for any girl about to enter her teens)

And who they would have welcomed into their circle to begin with.

We had this very conversation just the other night in regard to something said to her by another friend completely outside the triangle mentioned above, her reaction to it and how she might best respond.

Friendships, families, workplaces and relationships shouldn’t be about winning, losing or needing control.  While structure is necessary in some form and if expectations are made clear .. they are best when they can just be because everyone is doing their own part.

If it doesn’t work for some reason, it’s my belief .. take it or leave it, .. that natural consequences are a good reminder perhaps we need to look within and work on what’s there .. first.

Strawberry picking ..

This is perhaps the first day of downtime I/we’ve really had in a long time ..

And we’re still on the go.

I’m incredibly behind on writing.  I gave myself the gift of not feeling guilty I wasn’t living up to my goal of one post a day .. and instead tried to focus on getting in a workout and simply getting done what I had to get done each day.

………………..

On the go today though consists of doing a lot of whatever we feel like doing, which fired up about.  The Cowboy and the kiddos are here .. my daughter is with her dad, so they’re a bit bummed about that but once in awhile the split can be a good thing .. as we all continue to adjust to time together, how that works and what that means.

Plan for the day was:  Blog.  Play guitar with the Cowboy and big sis.  Sidewalk chalk with the boys.  A little badminton.  Change for the bus.  Farmers Market.  Strawberry picking.  Barn.  River/pool.  Guitar store.  Grill out.  Hang out.  We’ll probably do most of the following but strawberry picking is out apparently.

http://www.pickyourown.org/PYO.php?URL=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.wisconsingrown.com

90% of the crop

Feel bad for the growers .. also sad for any potential pickers because it is such a quintessential summer tradition for so many families.  Had hoped to take the kids for their first pick.  If you’ve never been ..

Imagine the feeling you get opening up a package of great looking strawberries from the store.

Now multiply that times like 500.  Not only is it heartwarming watching kids (young and old alike) discover row after row the beautiful, ripe fruit .. but the sight of the bright red juice running off the side of their face as they pick one .. then eat one .. and repeat until often they can eat no more .. with strawberry stains that most likely won’t come out again on their white shirt that you forgot you probably shouldn’t have sent them in ..

Next season .. for now, off to the Farmer’s Market.  We’ll have to settle for donut sprinkle stains.

Fan in the window ..

It will be 92 degrees outside today.

Inside, it’s cold and I have the heater next to my desk, on.

I don’t ever mean to complain about air conditioning.  It is wonderful.  It means none of us ever has to sit there and sweat buckets in the heat and humidity of a Midwest Summer.  It means a break from the thick air that often comes along a few months out of the year in Wisconsin.  The cool air is a reprieve.  Gives us some consistency in an otherwise unpredictable day.  Sometimes there is nothing like the feeling of walking into a building and feeling that first touch of cool air hit your skin.  Ahhhhhh.  Right?

But I freeze in the A/C.  I carry a sweater with me everywhere during the summer months.  And if that’s not enough, when I’m at work anyway, the heater underneath my desk gets put to good use.

At home ..

I don’t have air conditioning.  Sure, once in awhile I’ve broken down and put in a window unit at times.  But never central air.  I didn’t grow up with it.  I can’t get used to it.  I love the windows open, the fresh air, and not feeling like I need to layer clothes in the heat of summer.

But sometimes, along comes a hot stretch that has you rethinking your options.

Like, right now..

The forecast today calls for 92 degrees.  A bit cooler than yesterday.  I’m pretty sure, my animals at the very least, are displeased with me and our lack of cool air as we are in the midst of a hot stretch.  I could hardly rouse them off the floor in front of the fan in the open window last night.

We’re doing our best…

The Cowboy laughed at me last night as he and the kids were all settled nicely into the one room of his house where he’s got an air conditioning window unit of his own.  (He’s threatening to go buy one for me when they visit again.)

While the neighbors have offered to help me put in a window air conditioning unit should I break down and get one .. I’m going to do what my dad always made us do as kids.  For now, anyway:

Close up the house early enough in the day, the cool air from the night before is still present.  Close as many of the drapes as possible to keep sunlight out.  And as the evening cools, bring the box fans back out.  Put them in the window and bring the cool air back in.  And perhaps most important, make sure my daughter doesn’t keep grabbing her fleece full-body-with-footies pajamas to wear to bed at night.

It worked for us then, and for the most part, has until now.  (Saying this as I wipe sweat off my brow)

http://www.naturalhomeandgarden.com/leafy-greens/5-ways-to-keep-your-home-cool-in-summer-without-air-conditioning.aspx

Let’s see how hot the summer of 2012 gets.

http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/home/10-ways-to-keep-cool-without-air-conditioning-a-planet-green-roundup.htm

Hot Air Balloon Rally

There is something absolutely majestic about seeing a hot air balloon up close .. or, off in the distance .. the beautiful colors up in the air a stark contrast to the blue skies surrounding it and the rolling green hills below..

Someday I’d like to get to Albuquerque for the International event there .. seems it would be amazing.

http://www.balloonfiesta.com/

But in the meantime, I try and catch a glimpse wherever I can.  Sometimes, when there is time, I like to see how close I can drive to where they might be flying to catch a glimpse more up close and personal.  The sight never ceases to impress me, like .. I’ve never seen another hot air balloon before.

This past weekend we took the drive over to a festival here in Wisconsin.  I had hoped the night glow would amaze my daughter like my first balloon rally event did me but stronger than desired winds and skies, threatening rain, wouldn’t allow for much activity.

So we enjoyed what he participants there that night, were able to do.

Perhaps the highlight of the night (besides the Sno Cone) ..

We ran into friends ..

And each of the girls got a chance to stand in the basket and get their photo taken like they were breathing fire (Thank you!!!  They loved it!) ..

While it wasn’t quite the scene I had imagined it might be, having been to at least one rally in the past ..

It was still beautiful.  I am always so amazed by the dedication any balloonist has to their sport, and the courage in which they take to the air.  Some of us can hardly steer a car with two hands on the wheel and clear markings as to where we are supposed to drive.  I can’t imagine the precision it takes to learn to guide such a massive object through the air, especially at some of these events where dozens of other balloons are floating nearby and you’ve got to maneuver around them.

As I was glancing at the Albuquerque page .. I came across this, The Balloonist’s Prayer.  Didn’t realize there was such a thing.  But how beautiful .. and, prayers are always good.

May all of our travels, whether it is by land, sea or air, always be safe.

May the winds welcome you with softness.
May the sun bless you with its warm hands.
May you fly so high and so well that God
joins you in laughter and sets you gently
back into the loving arms of Mother Earth.