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.

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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 ..

Just One Upside to a Life ..

.. That Has Not Gone ‘According to Plan’.

When you’re young .. you can’t wait to grow up.  When you ‘grow up’.. we’re taught you go to school.  Find a job.  Find ‘the one’.  Get a dog.  Get married.  Buy a house.  Have children.  Save for retirement/college educations/and the little things.  Grow old together and live happily ever after.

It is a wonderful picture painted .. a great thing to strive for and would probably be a beautiful life.

I know and am close to a number of families who are older, who have had this life and have great stories to tell .. or who are currently living it out well.

On the flip side, I probably know more who are challenged to ‘live the dream.’  To follow, for so many reasons, the path that has long been considered our ‘societal norm.’

What is the norm anymore?  Kind of scary to think sometimes.  While it may not always be what we want or were hoping for .. while we may be disappointed we didn’t do better .. wished we had made better choices .. or done things differently ..

Relishing where we are at, is also one of the best things we can do in the face of adversity and change and disappointment over not being ‘where we are supposed to be’ at any given time in our adult lives.

For instance …

I had a house.  I loved my house.  I loved both my/our houses, actually.  The first one my ex and I lost to toxic mold, which meant we spent two years in and out of temporary residences with a newborn who knew nothing different and could handle it far better than perhaps her parents did.  But we made it through.  And then we bought a second home, far more home than we should have bought, but after a catastrophic loss on the first, insurance dictated what kind of second home we could buy and where it had to be located.  And we did the best we could, given the restrictions.  But it was tough.  And that was before the divorce.  In the divorce, I kept the house because I wanted to do what I could to give our daughter stability through what was another tough time for us all.  But it sank me, financially.

Don’t sell yet.  Don’t sell yet, friends and acquaintances in the real estate industry would tell me.  Let the market recover.  But little did we know, the recession was about to hit.  All I could do was try and work more, work harder, to make ends meet.  I was home less and less.  My gardens became overgrown.  The dogs had to entertain themselves while I was away.  And rarely did I see or have the chance to spend a few minutes chatting over the back fence with a neighbor.

………………..

A year and a half after selling the house, we find ourselves in a tiny two bedroom apartment.  We sold many of our things and I can’t wait yet to give away/sell more.  I’m tired of stuff.  I don’t want things.  I want time.  With my daughter.  With family, friends and others I love.  More savings.  Less debt.  Less house to clean.   Yard work, but only as much as I want.  And time to hang out with the neighbors.

Which for the first time in I would say most of my adult life, most of these things, I’m finding I am able to do either for the first time, or again.

I am loving the upsides of us downsizing.  And the things I’m rediscovering about life or myself or what’s important, I’m not sure I would have learned, not this quickly anyway, had everything just gone along according to society’s ‘master plan.’

Last night after my daughter and the ten year old next door took the dog for a walk, which they do most every night, I got to walk into their apartment to say, it’s time to come home and get ready for bed.  They were totally just hanging out, like I did with neighbors when I was a kid.

The adults spend time chatting out back, over a beer at the end of the day or the garden beds the landlord allowed to be built and who’s growing what.

We were talking about getting a whiffle ball game going some night.  A ‘community yard sale’.  A badmitton net put up.  The hula hoops were out.

The kids were learning some skateboard moves from one of the guys upstairs.  He’s a researcher in genetics.  His girlfriend a nurse.  Their roommate a chef.  Our other neighbor, a professor.  A teacher and nursing assistant live next door.  We’ve met and spent time with some of their families .. last night the woman who’s apartment I moved into, came downstairs from her now 3rd floor apartment and introduced us to her sister, who is deaf.  She may now give my daughter and the boy next door lessons in sign language.

Conversations I was rarely able to find time to have with my neighbors when I would come home each night to my actual home.

“Can we grab the dog,” is the text I find on my phone now almost daily from the neighbors in the apartment next door, knowing I’m still at work.  Then comes another, in jest, I think:  “We just looooooovvvvee her, you might not get her back.  Do not call the police.”

“What are you doing for dinner, we have extra food, come on up!”

“Grab a seat, stay!”

“Can I help you with that?”

“When’s the Cowboy coming back?” 🙂

“Do you want us to put something on the grill for you?  It’s hot ..”

I miss my old neighborhood (and neighbors), which isn’t too far from where I’m at in terms of physical location.  But while .. where I’m at in life isn’t necessarily where I’m supposed to be if you look at ‘the plan’ .. I couldn’t be in a better place.

Last Day of School .

As my daughter and so many other kids wrap up their last day of school for the 2011-2012 school year ..

I took a few moments this morning to say thank you to those who have been so gracious to us and walk the hallways one last time.

It’s cathartic to have moments like these as a parent .. to reflect on the year gone by, how much your child has changed ..

.. the people who have had such an impact, the things they have learned, the excitement of each day and the noise typically bouncing off the walls .. on the playground or a class out on the lawn.

Then see how empty ..

Put away neatly in its place ..

And how quiet everything now seems.

As a child, those sounds to me felt like freedom.  Freedom to sleep in for awhile.  Freedom to run.  To build forts, climb trees all day and go on lengthy, leisurely bike rides with friends.  It felt like it was time again for a fan in the window.  Chorus’ of crickets and frogs at night.  Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches each day for lunch.  And popsicles.  Family reunions.  Packing bags for the summer vacation we always took in the car.  It just felt like change because I knew .. as I walked out of school each year .. that in a few months, it would bring a whole new class, set of challenges, responsibilities which thinking back, I always felt so ready for and that I was also getting older.  That was something I couldn’t wait for back then.  Sound familiar?

That was as a child.

As a parent .. school releasing for the year seems so bittersweet because I know it means in many ways, the same things to her as it did to me as a child.  But we also know now as adults, how quickly that time flies by.  And I want so very much, to savor each precious moment.

This is our last particular year at this school so we won’t be coming back.  Middle school awaits.  And unlike where I went to middle school, which was simply a walk down the hall .. in Madison, that means typically somewhere halfway across town.

There are so many we will miss.  Friends, teachers, administrators, staff.  Thank you all for the job you do and how much you care.  It shows.  It makes a difference.  And it helps set in place a wonderful foundation for a lifetime of learning and of caring about community.

…………………..

“The teacher who is indeed wise does not bid you to enter the house of his wisdom but rather leads you to the threshold of your mind.”  – Khalil Gibran

…………………..

We wish you the best .. and hope everyone has a wonderful, safe and fun summer!

6th Grade here we come!

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!

Stuck in my head ..

I have sincerely had this song stuck in my head now for days.

Sit in that six lane backed up traffic
Honks are honking, I’ve about had it
I’m looking for an exit sign
Gotta get out of here, get it all off my mind
And like a memory from your grandpa’s attic
A song comes slippin’ through the radio static
Changing my mood, a little George Strait 1982

And it makes me wanna take a back road
Makes me wanna take the long way home
Put a little gravel in my travel
Unwind, unravel all night long
Makes me wanna grab my honey
Tear down some two-lane country, who knows
Get lost and get right with my soul
Makes me wanna take, makes me wanna
Take a back road. 

– Rodney Atkins, Take a Backroad

I’m thinking the fact this has been just spinning in my head must be a sign.  That, at the very least, I need a vacation.

It’s a few years old now ..

But as I was looking back through photos for something that might go with yesterdays post, I came across this one of my daughter at our friends ranch near Dillon, Montana.

And just want my daughter to know, it will always be one of my favorites of her.  A reminder of a simpler time and place in our lives.  But also just a simple, wonderful place we go as often as we can.  Where the pace is as fast as you want to go.  Where it’s tough to be in cell range.  But you can be as connected as you want to be.  Where neighbors can be found in each other’s  small shops sipping coffee, grabbing a beer .. or with the whole family and a dish to pass at the fairgrounds .. everyone keeping an eye on each others kids, keeping them honest, but allowing room for a lot of fun, where people work hard but say they wouldn’t have it any other way.

I love the city.  Big cities.  Small cities.  I love the culture.  I love the food.  I’m a huge fan of people watching.  I love the hustle and bustle.  The buzz.  The Cowboy, when we first met, worried a bit about the fact I rarely sit still.

‘Sure’, I’ve told him.  ‘I love this – on one level.  There is always somewhere to go, something to do or family and friends to see .. ‘

But there is a lot to be said, for taking a backroad.

And at some point, only God knows when, I’m looking forward to that being more a part of my daily commute.