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.

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Need a dirt road.

Need a dirt road.

Not to be confused with Makes Me Want to Take a Backroad.  Which is a great song and true to.  Can relate to that as well.  But for now …

When I wrote this it was about 1am and I was trying to unwind.  Had been a long day.  Have had a lot of them lately.  So was listening to music late at night.  And dreaming about how wonderful it would be to just get in the car and take a road trip to one of my favorite places on the face of this earth, Big Sky Country.

Some random thoughts:

Am loving right now, the Band Perry (along with throngs of others, I know).  Have been working on learning All Your Life on the guitar and Backroad from above (but not sure how that song sounds with a chick singing it) along with a bunch of others including a few from one of my favorite bands, Little Jane and the Pistol Whips who I believe are out of Bozeman, MT ..

Talked with the Cowboy for just a few minutes tonight on the video phone.  He was wiped out and was falling asleep as he was also playing guitar.  He figured he better call it a night before it was lights out either way in the armchair.

It’s Rodeo Bible Camp week in SD.  Heard some fun stories last night and was only the first day of camp.  Already done with school, the kids are with him for their first full week – he’s bummed they don’t have more down time together, but they seem to be having run regardless.  The four of them seem so happy to all be together for an extended period of time, and the kids that they are getting to go to camp with their dad.  One of the twins, who until now, has had a tough time getting his rope going in the right direction, gave us a demonstration this morning that he’s got it down and can now do it the way he’s supposed to.  Nothing like the look on a kids face when they realize they’ve learned something and really got it down, and they can now work on improving that skill.  Priceless.

Talked with my own daughter for a bit.  She’s still in school but excited there is now officially less than a week left for the 2012 academic year.  They had picnic lunch today and a presentation of poster boards they put together on a state.  Remember doing those?  She, no surprise, had Montana.  She really wanted me to see a couple others, including the boy’s that she has a crush on and her friend who had South Dakota.  To which she excitedly made some comments about the state, the Cowboy and possible life changes.  I gave her a squeeze, smiled and told the sweet girl who’s project we were looking at great job, and we moved onto the next.

As if I don’t have enough to do .. my workouts are suffering over getting other things that ‘need to get done, done.’  Think I need to find a triathlon this summer and start training.   That usually helps, but I’m not motivated.  Wanted to go to the gym for a swim tonight (last night).  Feeling like schlep that I chose not to and had glass of wine instead while going through paperwork and watching Wisconsin’s historic recall election results and speeches come in.

Feels like trying to get caught up is a never-ending battle.  Or trying to fit everything in, between family, friends, work, each other, etc etc etc .. is never possible without disappointing someone.  The Cowboy and I are trying to figure that out .. as we have events, graduations and various other commitments in towns hours apart this weekend for family and good friends, all of whom are important to us.  But that we know we can’t spend enough time with.  How do you juggle successfully?  Or, do you even try?

Is that ever possible anymore?  Feeling caught up?  Fitting everything in.  Getting things done?  Feeling like the important thing are taken care of so that you can take care of yourself, or your/our family in this case?  We know we could be so much better if we could all be under one roof.

But because for now, that’s not the case ..

Spent awhile last night trying to find the comfort of a dirt road or a small town in the middle of, if not South Dakota with the Cowboy .. Big Sky country (Even Bayfield will do, where I took the photo of my daughter and the Cowboy, below.) .. in my mind at the very least, since it’s the best I can do at the moment.  Looking at a big open sky.  Feeling the gravel and dirt below my feet.  Not seeing anyone or anything for miles.  Feels like there’s room to again breathe.

That whatever it is on the to-do list or that has me stressed isn’t all that big a deal, in fact, it’s small in the grand scheme of things.  And the busyness of the day-to-day is my/our choice.

Maybe I just need a good session of yoga or a massage.  But I like the dirt road theory.

Dirt roads usually take you somewhere more simple.  More quiet.  Calm.  It all re-grounds me.  And has me coming back at it all again today, refreshed.

Best gift to myself .. on the calendar.

Part of my to do list today (not that you can read my handwriting):

…………….

With the smoke having mostly cleared from what seem like weeks of bang up 40th birthday celebrations .. my mind is turning back to the things I would like to do, have to do, and should do.

Especially for my overall mental and physical health.

Like .. catch up on work.  Run an extra mile each day to counteract my (I’m certain) ever slowing metabolism and the fact I’m not willing to give up good beer.  Or chocolate.  Eat more salad.  Check in with my life coach.  Catch up on email and continue to purge all this non-essential electronically and otherwise in my home/office/surroundings and life.  Finally schedule that yard sale with the neighbors, an appointment for my new crowns ..

And, a mammogram.

Check.

………………

I was waiting the other day to hear back from someone close .. on a biopsy she needed to have done to determine if the lumps she had found in her breast, were cancerous.  Or, just plain old lumps.

But at 32-years-old and with a history of breast cancer in her family we were all holding our breath, I do believe.

It was that morning, and I was rushing through my morning routine and had about 2 minutes to shower and get out the door ..

I thought to myself:   When is the last time I even did a self-exam let alone think about scheduling a mammogram given I’m now ‘at that age’?

I did a quick self exam that morning, now about a week ago.  Not that I would have known if something were abnormal.

Because it had been so long.

I actually had my first mammogram a few years ago, as there was a suspicious area my doctor and I both wanted checked out.  Turned out it was nothing.  But .. I haven’t thought about it since.  Other than the fact I know I am at risk because 1.) I am a woman.  (although men can receive the diagnosis)  And 2.)  I, like my friend and so many others out there, have a maternal history of breast cancer in my own bloodline as well.

My girlfriends biopsy, thankfully we celebrated as benign.

While there are a lot of suggestions out there right now as to how often one should have a mammogram if ever, how effective they might actually be and who should get them .. mine is now on the calendar.

Finding the energy to call both the dentist and the IRS will have to wait until Monday.

April 30th .. and why you should hug your mother. Right now.

“No matter how old you get, hug and kiss your mother whenever you greet her.”

– from Highlighted in Yellow.

…………….

April 30th has come and gone and I’m playing catch up ..

But I want to go back to that day here for a moment .. as it will always be a very special day to me.  To many, actually.  Because it would have been my mother’s birthday.

As I reflect each day on the mother I am or am working to be ..

There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think about my mom and the kind of parent she was to us .. the kind of wife she was to our father .. and the person she was to the rest of the world.

I learned so much from her .. in life.

Perhaps even more, sadly .. in her death.

She would have 69 this week .. and was taken from us so young.

I’ll write more about her and some of the other women that have absolutely meant the world to me in life as we get closer to Mother’s Day as I want my daughter to understand the impact each of these women had on our lives.

But it was fun going back the other day looking for photos .. (something I was going to do anyway but also an assignment I’ve been given for work.)

Seeing her handwriting again on the back of the pictures ..

Thinking about how she spent her time here on this earth, where she felt she had made an impact ..

But also pondering where she decided to make changes, scale back, focus on the little things …

And the big thing.  Like time with family.  And why she hadn’t done more of it sooner.

It is a core value I contemplate often, work on always and believe any of us realize the importance of .. more and more as we age.

……………………

Happy Birthday to one of the most wonderful, generous, understated, most likely underappreciated, sincerely beautiful women inside and out that I will ever know.

What I wouldn’t give for more time ..

And I will say now what I say always to family and friends who have the gift of their mother still with them .. always hug her and tell her you love her.

‘Try this,’ my 10-year-old says..

I was going to post earlier today .. the answer to ‘Most Asked Question #2‘ when it comes to me and the Cowboy.  The, ‘He lives there and you’re here?  How did you meet?’ post.  But that’ll come later, I guess.  My internet is giving me hell.  I didn’t get a chance to tweak it.  That’ll happen yet tonight, I would imagine.

In the meantime, I’ve had the most wonderful afternoon with my daughter.  And given I want her to have as much of me and ‘us’ documented to remember .. I’m going to take this moment to write about our evening.  Because there is much to be savored.  Literally.

………..

There is a store in Madison where, every Wednesday, when I pick my daughter up from school for either the two days I have her each week or the 5 .. we stop to pick up fresh produce.  Because neither she nor I can get enough of it …

Other stores carry produce.  I shop there too.  But usually, none can compare to what we find at this particular Madison based store.  It is just that good.  Or, at least we know it’s that good.  Because, well, because there are samples.  For EVERYTHING.

“Mom,” she says, chasing me around the store with another sample of something.  Always.  “Try this!  You HAVE TO TRY THIS!  Can we get one of these?” she says.

Great marketing.  It works.  We usually walk out with far more than what we would have gotten otherwise.

Regardless..

I’m estatic we have a chance to get home tonight and do little other than finish up homework.  Hang out together.  Cook.  And give the dogs some exercise after being cooped up much of the past two days while the rest of the Midwest comes to life now that spring has sprung.

I put the pork chops in the oven, get the snap peas ready to go for when I return.. and go for a run with one of the dogs.

I was gone 15 minutes.

I come back, she’s cutting up a pear.  I think little-to-nothing of it.

I go back to getting dinner ready.

“Please keep working on your homework,” I say.

I find a granola bar wrapper.

And, as I go to put the other groceries away, I find the cheese, open.

“Did you eat more than the pear?” I ask.  “You’re going to ruin your appetite and we have a nice dinner tonight.”

“What,” she says.  “I only had cheese, a granola bar.. and, I had a pear.”

She pauses a few seconds.

“And I’m still hungry.”

We sit down moments later to a wonderful meal of pork chops, steamed sugar snap peas, fresh salad topped with strawberries and cantaloupe to round it out.

She’s right.  She is still hungry.

And these are moments that remind me, despite how often I’ve been told by her father over the years I am far from being the best mother (to put it mildly) .. make me feel like if I’ve done anything right, she will grow in so many ways, into a healthy young woman.

My 10 year old is growing, in more ways than one.  Precious moments like these, I’m so grateful to realize pass us by too quickly .. to not be savored.

Now about that ice cream for dessert …

(A Different) Perspective … A Friend Writes.

I’m not sure that my comments to the Cowboy are of any reassurance during weeks like this.

Weeks, where it’s the tail end of the two weeks essentially, without the kids.

I can’t imagine being in his shoes.. or ever putting someone else in the position he’s in.  But I’m increasingly becoming aware of how many people are.  In his shoes.  Parents who essentially are told they should appreciate any time they get to ‘visit’ their children.

And on the flipside, in the position of the other parent in many divorce scenarios.  The parent, given primary placement.  The one who gets most of the time with and control over the kids.  And how that can sometimes look.

It’s been an emotional past couple weeks.

It seems the further out he gets from the divorce and the less he continues to see the kids, with each passing day, month or now year .. the tougher it is for him to feel like he can really be a father to them.  The father he wants and hopes to be, anyway.  A few hours each week sitting in a restaurant because there’s not enough time now to go home or good weather to go to a park and play .. and four weekend days each month, is hardly enough time to get anyone back into a good groove.

Just when dad and kids seem to be settled in and getting reacquainted.. it’s time to pack for the trip back to their other home.

………..

Fortunately, more states are recognizing, through time, experience, and statistics .. the rules need to change.  In not all, but most scenarios.  Where two loving, responsible, protective parents both want to be a part of raising their children, and be present in their lives.

http://www.wctrib.com/event/article/id/90932/

Things will change.  Someday.  As more and more states.  And more and more parents, left on the outside looking in at their children’s lives for no apparent good reason other than a judge’s orders, decide that instead of giving up because nothing will change and it only causes more pain to try .. instead, keep trying.  Because it does matter.  Not just to them, but their kids.  That they are not alone.  And the more they come together and speak with one voice, someone will hear them.

But will it come soon enough for some families to heal.

……….

I mentioned it has been a tough couple weeks.

I can always tell when we’re a week into his time without the kids .. because there is an unshakeable sadness.  No matter what the Cowboy says to me, I know its eating at him.  That he hasn’t seen them.  That if he wants to talk with them, its dictated to him how that has to happen.  Yet the conditions are at times not met on the side giving dictation.

When there is a call, it’s quick.  Then usually .. ‘they’re busy and need to go.’

The few hours he had the chance to spend with them this past mid-week .. for many reasons, was emotionally overwhelming and tough.  And because of the weather, the circumstances and one of the boys crying for his mother, he took them home in heavy frustration and sadness a half hour early.  For a man who would give anything for extra time with his children .. this has all been very trying .. emotionally, physically and spiritually.

Not knowing what else to say .. because really, what can you .. I say, well then, let’s pray.

And, then I add.. “They’re healthy.  Let’s just be grateful they are healthy.  The rest will fall into place.  I don’t know when.  But it will.”

He agrees.  I’m not sure he wholeheartedly believes me.  But for the moment, he agrees.

………..

I wasn’t going to write about this today .. I was going to instead, write about another lesson learned by the Cowboy after spending more time than he’d probably like in the city .. (Because we have some great, entertaining lessons yet to be shared.  Like parking tickets.)

But I was reminded again today of why the health of our children, is above everything else, what is most critical.  I am actually, reminded of it daily.  Through my job, I see families put in situations that would bring any of us to our knees.  I have close friends who have lost a child.  And, who have children with severe disabilities.  I thank God each and every day my own daughter is healthy.  There is sincerely not a day that I take that for granted.

I saw this afternoon, a tweet from a dear friend of mine.  A friend I don’t talk with as much as I’d like anymore.  We’re all busy.  But I see it, and I shudder to think based on the content of the tweet, what might be happening.

I message him, ‘Just seeing this.  What is going on?  Are you all OK?’

He shoots back moments later, ‘We’re OK. This explains:’ and he sends me the following link.

‘Lessons from a young Skywalker:’

http://www.espnmilwaukee.com/common/more.php?m=49&post_id=7074

……….

Again, I’m not sure any of my comments or anyone’s are helpful to the Cowboy.  Reassuring.  Or comforting given the struggles he’s facing.

Only he knows.  And honestly, only he can figure out how to work through this stage of his family’s young .. challenging life.  Through his relationship with himself.  God.  And his faith in both.  Something right now, he’s giving everything he’s got.

……….

A wonderful opportunity presented itself this afternoon ..

The gift of a few extra hours with the kids to kick off the weekend.  The Cowboy got a call asking if he wanted to pick them up early.  No one is asking why.  Mom could have had something else she wanted to do this afternoon and it saved her from postponing or getting a sitter.  Or, she could have genuinely wanted to give them all more time together.

No one’s asking why.  Just celebrating the moments.

And grateful to their mother, for offering them up.

How seldom or how often any of us can ever have the chance to spend time with our kids, to hold them, hug them and be present with them, is such a gift.

Reassurance they are also healthy ..

I’m praying tonight, my friend Jason and his family continue to get nothing but the best news .. and care for their young Skywalker, in the meantime.