Diesel.

I’ve driven a hybrid car .. oh, probably 6 years now.

It takes regular unleaded, like every other car I’ve ever driven.  While it gets great mileage and has been a wonderful car for us, the Prius doesn’t do all that great on ice.  And the warmer temperatures, melting snow, sleet and heavy fog recently have made for some slick rural roads.

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So I’ve been taking the truck.

……………

“Hey,” I said to the Cowboy over the phone .. “Diesel 1 or Diesel 2.  I can’t remember.”

“Make sure you’re not at the pumps for farm fuel!” said the Cowboy, somewhat in a panic I was at the wrong pump and may have already started putting gas in the truck.

“Don’t worry, I’m not,” I replied to him over the phone, not knowing what difference that would make.  (I filed the question in the back of my mind for later)

The Pumps

I had called to ask again, which Diesel for the Dodge.  Usually the Cowboy makes sure there is enough gas in it.  But as I have been the one to use the truck versus my Prius the past couple of days, I wanted to be sure to return the favor and fill it up.  Only the second time doing so on my own, I knew there was a method as to what went into the tank and why, I just couldn’t remember what it was.

What’s the weather supposed to be like, he said to himself out loud.

“I think it’s supposed to be nice,” the Cowboy continued.  “I guess you can go with Diesel 2 for now.  It’s not all that cold out so you shouldn’t need number one.”

image-4

Diesel 2, he explains to me as I sit down to write for the first time in a very long time, apparently gels up if it gets too cold.  He let me know, I would most likely get stranded alongside the road if the wrong diesel is in the tank and the temperatures plummet.

Sincerely good to know.

…………

Also good to know why it mattered if I was at the Farm Diesel pump:

– Farm fuel is good for tractors and other farm related equipment.

– It is the same diesel, it just isn’t taxed.

– The Cowboy says there is about a $ .50 tax on every gallon of gas we buy.  I ask, are you sure it’s $ .50 and he says, pretty close.  (May differ by state.)  I don’t feel like fact checking this morning so I’m going with it.

– There is a dye in farm fuel and if you get picked up, police can check your tank.  If you have farm fuel in your truck, it is at the very least, a $1000 fine.

………….

The things we’re learning .. living on a dirt road.

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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.

Drama ..

The Cowboy and I were standing there the other day .. when a little friend of my daughter’s came up to her just as the 5th grade graduation ceremony had ended .. and said, “Our other friend is mad at you again.  She is.  And she really doesn’t want to talk to you.”

I looked at her, not believing what I was hearing on some level.  Wanting to laugh on another.  I saw my daughters shoulders sag under the heavy weight of more drama between them all.

She looked at my daughter, waiting for a response.  Then she batted her eyes at me.

“I’m sorry, honey, what did you say?” I asked, as if I hadn’t heard the first announcement.

I had gotten to know this child a bit as well over the past year through both volunteering at school and at different events.  And, every time I see her, she gives me as big a hug as possible, I think in part because she needs it.  But also because she knows it irritates the bajeezus out of my own daughter, frustrated by someone who she would prefer is a friend, but who seems more often a foe, doing what she can as often as she can, to stir trouble.  There have just been ongoing issues and drama since the beginning of this school year.  And my daughter has tried her best, I believe to befriend her, as she was also once new in that school and knew what it was like to need a friend.

The little girl repeated herself.

My daughter, sounding frazzled, sad and frustrated replied, “What?  No she’s not.”

The three of them have been spending a lot of time recently with the guidance counselor trying to work things out.  Much of the school year has been spent negotiating this relationship, actually.  For some reason, the drama only seems to build, not wane.  And it doesn’t seem to matter what is said or done.  There is never any making it better.  Not for more than a couple hours anyway.  Often when I walk into school, people ask, ‘How is your daughter doing?’ because something else has happened that day.

I had done my best to stay out of it all year.  Be an ear for my daughter.  Help her think through how she might best handle the situation on her own.  But knowing she had cried over another apparent misunderstanding created by the third party the night before, called her best friend to work it out, clear up the notion there even was a problem, then seeing the effort right in front of me to stir it all up again .. I couldn’t help myself.

“Perhaps if (best friend) is still having some issues with (my daughter), the two of them should speak directly to each other, would you be okay with that” I said to her.

“That way you don’t have to be a go-between, which would probably make it easier on you …. and then they won’t have any miscommunications about problems that might exist that really don’t.  Otherwise, I think they have it worked out,” I said.  “Is that okay?”

She nodded her head.

“Great,” I ended the conversations.  We stepped to the side to take a family photo.

While I’d like to say if for no other reason to be happy the school year ends tomorrow, it might be, that we can move past the social challenges of 5th grade.  The time when it seems the drama really kicks in.

But, sometimes .. people get stuck in 5th grade ..  

You know who I’m talking about .. those who always need a little drama, or when there is none, are more than happy to stir it up.

………………………………………

drama

[drah-muh, dram-uh]

4.  any situation or series of events having vivid, emotional, conflicting, or striking interest or results.

………………………………………

The Cowboy and I were talking a bit about two particular issues that have come up where that is the case.  In just the past 48 hours.  Funny thing is, typically the person who loves to create it is quick to point out its not them, but you that is the problem.

And if you would just cooperate ….. the world would be a much better place.

As adults, you would think we should know better than to engage.  But it’s tough .. you feel like the little boy or girl again in 5th grade.  Exasperated it seems there is nothing you can do to fix a situation.  Because, in my opinion, there is no ‘situation’ other than the one someone is creating for you.  Exhausting.  Who has time for that?

Apparently many.

The Cowboy says it helps him to step back and think about what someone’s motives might be .. to best deal with any drama, as some people are motivated simply to get what they want.  They need to feel, regardless of whether or not they are actually in control, in control.  They need and want that power.  And unless one takes a deep breath and stands still long enough to recognize it, we get swept up in it.  Great insight, Cowboy (according to the following article.)

http://drthema.blogspot.com/2010/11/dealing-with-high-drama-people.html

The mother of my daughter’s best friend .. as we spoke the other night about future play dates .. mentioned she thought that was the case with the other little girl.

That the drama she is creating between our girls is her way to have some control in a world where she feels she has little to none.  A point that just absolutely makes me feel sad for her.  Sad especially, that she would see that as a solution versus just being a good friend.  That creating drama is her way to be able to not only have others possibly need her, but it might also be where she feels in the midst of chaos she can also come in and be the hero and fix it all, too.

Whatever the challenges we face .. be it 5th grade, making friends, finding our way, changing interests, changing bodies, new schools, new classes and creating our own good space in life .. or a new job .. adult friendships .. perhaps a relationship or a marriage..

May drama only be a class you take or a reference to one of the first three definitions according to Webster’s:

dra·ma

[drah-muh, dram-uh]
noun

1.  a composition in prose or verse presenting in dialogue orpantomime a story involving conflict or contrast of character, especially one intended to be acted on the stage; a play.
2.  the branch of literature having such compositions as its subject; dramatic art or representation.
3.  the art dealing with the writing and production of plays.
Best of luck, dear sweet girls .. in 6th grade!

“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.

The Best Advice You Were (Never) Given?

“A successful marriage requires falling in love many times, always with the same person.” – Mignon McLaughlin

…………….

I have a colleague who’s last day at work was today ..

At least for now.

We will see him again soon, only with one change.  Well maybe more than that.  He could come back with a tattoo somewhere we’ll never see.  Or have suddenly decided to become a vegetarian.  But one change that we’ll at least know for sure.  He will return to work in about a week and a half with a shiny new ring on his left hand.

He’s a great guy and he’s marrying a wonderful young woman this weekend, the two have been together quite some time, they seem like a great couple and they are excited to be getting married.

I of course, truly and sincerely wish them every blessing a lifetime of love can bring and the best in their marriage.  So do many, many other family and friends of theirs .. and of course all of our colleagues ..

Yet I heard someone say to him today, jokingly .. ‘it’s not too late.’

I might have said that as well a year ago.  But I would have meant it.

Quite honestly, I’m not so sure the relative newlywed that did say it today didn’t mean it. Actually, I know she did because she followed it up by saying just above a whisper but I was close enough to hear, “I actually meant it.”  Which makes me sad.  It wasn’t long ago she was that person rushing off, so excited to get married.  The wear and tear I already hear in her voice is heartbreaking.  (Perhaps I should show her yesterday’s blog.)

Anyway, a year ago for me, I was done.  Done dating.  For a very long time anyway.  That was my plan.  I had NO intention of even thinking about trying to connect with another person in regard to dating again .. and marriage?  Marriage was simply never again going to be a discussion.  The destruction I was witnessing in so many directions around me regarding other couples was enough to make me swear any of it off, I was almost certain, forever.

After focusing on my health and fitness, staying close to girlfriends I knew had my back and me theirs, working with a life coach and being faithful to pray and go to church, I put it all in God’s hands.  I told myself a year ago, ‘Focus on your daughter and your career because it is clearly a much better use of time and energy.’

I had had it.

Then along comes this cowboy.

…………..

My faith has honestly and genuinely (I am somewhat sincerely shocked) been restored that good marriages/relationships, heck even incredible ones do still exist.  That it is possible to connect with someone on a level so deep, that it’s okay to trust in it.  That it is safe to again, give another person (besides your child) .. everything you’ve got.

But I also believed that, the first go round.

A dear old friend of mine, one whom I miss terribly and have always looked up to, who I had no idea ever ventured to read any of these posts, left a comment today on yesterday’s post .. and the challenge I had linked to about being conscious to say only uplifting, positive things to your spouse and about your spouse to others, for 30 days.

She wrote:”I believe in love, family, marriage. I believe it. I know so many people of divorce did too at one point. Including my own parents. But if you really were honest….would those people of divorce have noticed flaws early on, red flags, where perhaps they should not have gotten married? My own mother said just that…..she always had a bit of a red flag moment in her, that said perhaps they shouldn’t. But it was the 60s…she was 22…EVERYONE got married.I feel awful hearing of friends’ marriages in trouble. Makes me so sad, yet its inevitable. Statistically, its going to happen. I will work every day to make sure that it is not me.

We don’t always see red flags as red flags.  We see them as challenges perhaps we can work through.  Troubles for one person, not you both as a couple, that might heal/get fixed in time.  Or with counseling.  Or that some red flags are ‘just stress’.  Or what I feel my ex and I believed, which was – that it was so great we were complete opposites – because somehow then we complimented each other.

In hindsight .. my ex says his family told him we would never work.

Maybe they did.  But we thought we knew better.  And, we loved each other so we tried.

But in trying, failing and throughout the years since, I have learned quite a few lessons.  Lessons I hope guide me well (they better or I’m going to be really peeved .. ) into the future.

Back to my colleague.  Knowing he and his beautiful bride were heading off into the great known, or dare I say, the great unknown that is marriage … I was pondering today, what possible advice would or could I ever give a couple just starting out, to help them succeed in love .. and marriage.

Would they care what I have to say anyway.

Probably not.  Most often we learn best by falling and getting back up on our own.

But for my own daughter’s sake…

I wanted to jot down a few thoughts so that she may look at this, someday, when she is contemplating any relationship of her own.

Love each other.  Speak kindly to each other.  More kind than is necessary where you can.  Date.. always.  Establish a good cache of babysitters.  Surround yourself with good friends and lots of family.  Know that sometimes friends are family.  But also know when it’s time for it to be, just the two of you.  Communicate.  And if you don’t do it well, find someone who can help you figure it out because it is perhaps the most important thing you can work on – for each other.  Laugh, a lot.  Listen every now and then to the tone of your voice and make sure it sounds the way you are hoping to be heard.  Hold hands.  Take walks.  Remember, it’s not always 50/50.  Chances are any slacking in one area by your spouse is being more than made up for by your slacking in another area.  Pray, together.  Don’t put a TV in the bedroom.  Ask each other about your day and mean it.  Spend less time worrying who is right and more time worrying about what is right.  Have one standing meeting each week where you can bring your grievances/frustrations to the table, talk about it and work out a solution together when it’s not in the heat of the battle.  (My ex and I learned this through years of counseling and thousands of dollars billing.  Don’t spend the money to hear the same, just do it.  It was one of the best things we did.)  Continue those standing meetings even if everything is going well and use it instead to celebrate all that is right.  (My ex and I failed on this part here.  Which may be among the reasons we are no longer together.)  ‘Let your love be stronger than your hate or your anger.  Learn the wisdom of compromise, for it is better to bend a little than to break.’  (- Jane Wills)  Remind yourself each morning of why the person next to you is a blessing in your life.  And perhaps do the same again each night, before you go to bed.

I’m sure I’m missing a few big ones here.  But those are just a few thoughts off the top of my head.  Thoughts that might someday be helpful to you, my beautiful daughter.  Who knows about anyone else.  Anyway, I never had a conversation like this with my own parents, in terms of what strengthens any relationship/marriage.  It’s one, in hindsight, I wish I had been able to have .. and still hope to with my dad, among others I know carry volumes of relationship wisdom from a life well lived.

Given I know a few people at least are reading this .. I am wondering, what advice would you give to newlyweds?  Or, to those even currently in a marriage but struggling.  What does it take to not only make a marriage work anymore, but work well, thrive and last?

You may now kiss the bride.  Or whoever has helped you learn those lessons.  🙂

Cheers.