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.

DSC01042

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.

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.

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.

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!

Girls (minus one) On The Run ..

Not going to do it.

That’s the final answer from my ten year old about taking part in this springs Girls on the Run race here in Madison.

http://girlsontherundaneco.org/

We’ve gone through the spring program.  She has done relatively well.  Given running more of a try.  Made some new friends.  I’m just happy she continues to try new things that have her staying active, involved and getting some exercise.  But after telling me the past few weeks she wants to do the run while telling her father no she wants nothing to do with it, we’ve made a decision.  There will be no running the 5k this weekend, the race that is supposed to be the culmination of a spring of training..

While I feel sad about that and feel strongly she should finish out the program, because the feeling of crossing a finish line and the rush of having done a race, no matter the pace or how much pain you may be in, is wonderful and inspiring ..

Or while I worry that instead of digging deep when the going gets tough, she instead on many occasions chooses to, I believe, give up or act like she isn’t interested ..

While it gives me one more reason to be concerned she often defaults to what she feels mom or dad want her to do versus what she feels she wants to do ..

I’m happy that she signed up and went through the last few months of an incredible program.

http://www.girlsontherun.org/

That she chose to participate twice a week in a program that had her not only exercising, but also in a social setting where adults and kids have a safe environment to discuss some of the challenges that come with being in that age group, 3rd-5th grade.  That she felt at times, stronger for trying something she wasn’t sure she could do.  And still isn’t.  But that she may be more apt to give a shot in the future.  That there is such a program out there to help families and communities build strong young women, who could very well go on to become leaders.  Who run.  Or who don’t.  But who know the value of working hard toward a goal and that feeling of crossing a finish line on any project one sets their mind to.    That she got her feet wet in a/another sport that teaches individual hard work is just as important to a team .. as a team working together to get things done.

She may not be running the race this weekend .. but that’s okay.  I’m hoping, if nothing else, the lessons GOTR also offers each practice will give her more confidence all around, a better feel for path she is on in life, and the pace in which she wants to run it.

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.