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.

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Lessons Learned on a Rainy Saturday ..

Four kids in a small house, no matter how tired they may be, will all wake each other up.

Rain coming in through an inner wall of the house isn’t a good thing and probably means we should have already fixed the roof.

It’s good to look in the attic of an old house .. and see if for some reason you might need more (or any) insulation.

There’s a beautiful, huge greenhouse that I will gravitate toward often out in the middle of nowhere, South Dakota.  Because I love to garden.  And their stock rocks.

The Cowboy gets stressed if too many projects seem started but not finished.

Leaving a margarita out on the table with small thirsty children around probably isn’t the best idea.

Margaritas can be a good idea though and a good solution for too much stress.

I am quick to be on a horse called “I’ll have another”.

A blind pony is best led back into a pasture past the snapping electric fence before the lead rope comes off.

An electric fence that isn’t connected all the way around, may or may not be live.  But if it was, there is one tough little 1 year old in our midst.

And, proposals in the rain .. in the midst of chores .. with hands full of dirt and in front of an audience of little people .. can be beautiful.

It has been a beautiful Saturday.

Forty ..

I feel like I am supposed to have some sort of epiphany about life that I can tell you all about, because I’m now 40.

But ..

I pretty much don’t.

And I am slowly realizing .. perhaps that is why I’ve been in kind of a funk the past few days, despite the fact it was my birthday and everyone around me seemed so excited to help me celebrate.

I think I’m feeling like I should be making more of it, because, after all, it’s 40.

You know, the new 29 or whatever everyone kept saying out of kindness or .. probably not being sure what else to say to make me feel like I’m not getting that old.

Don’t get me wrong.

I am humbled and grateful for what this year was an outpouring of wonderful reminders of how many incredible people are in my life…

The comments, compliments, cakes, cupcakes, well wishes, phone calls, wall posts (what did we ever do before Facebook reminders?), surprises, the party .. flowers, chocolate, a quick dinner with an old friend, and a night with my daughter (spent sitting in a meeting we would have been fine to skip)….

There have been so many reminders of how blessed I am in this life.  I love and genuinely appreciate all of it.

But why when someone, anyone turns 40, or 50 or 60 .. does the world seem to think its more important than say 43.  Just curious.  Marketing scheme?  Can someone explain to me the significance….

I do believe now .. all the hype made me feel all the more like I should have been making a huge deal of the day, myself (when I don’t do birthdays).  The actual day.  And that I wasn’t doing a very good job of it.  Because I somehow need to really grasp what turning 40 means, that I’m supposed to be in this great place in my life and know what life is all about and the best is yet to come .. well, because I’m 40.  We have to party.  This is a big one.  You go girl.  It’s your time.  Time to conquer the world.  Don’t you get it?  You don’t want a big party? .. You must not get it.  That kind of thing.

What’s funny is .. I think I do get it.

That’s just a lot of pressure to put on one day.  And I genuinely feel every single day is worth celebrating.  Especially now.  I am in a great place in life.  Sure, I wish some things were different.  Or easier.  But at 40, I feel I am totally starting over.  With some life experience under my belt to do it better this time.

Is that what 40 is supposed to be?  I don’t know but I guess in those terms,  maybe it is the new 29.

It actually is a very cool time in life for most, I believe.  At least that’s what people who are there and have been there are telling me.  But the entirety of it .. you know, the whole year.  Not just a day.  The turning 40 thing is one of the reasons I decided to start blogging this year.  To keep track of all the awesome, beautiful changes happening.  And my thoughts on it all.

Perhaps in writing I just came to the epiphany I needed to.

Regardless.

I am still stealing moments this week amongst all the chaos of a beautiful, whirlwind, emotional few days leading up to my birthday and got back to what I like to do in the privacy of my own special day each year:

– Thank the woman who chose to give birth to me, because she easily could have chosen not to.  And for that fact, I am eternally grateful.

– Thank the family who wanted and could raise a child, and picked me.

– Hug my daughter.

– Tell those closest to me that I love them and thank them for being a part of my life always.

– Treat myself to some chocolate.  Good coffee.  And a great beer.

– And .. garden.

It may have been digging in the dirt on my little patio last night in the dark and potting a few plants and seeds I’ve wanted to get started.  But I fit it in.  A wonderful way to chill out in the final hours of a great day.   Time for myself, to think about the seeds I’ve already planted in life and what I hope grows out of another wonderful year.

It all comes back to being a mom ..

It’s been kind of a rough week on the home front for a few reasons.

One, I’m pretty hard on myself when I don’t feel like I’ve been the best mom I can be.

Two, sometimes so are others.  Hard on you, that is.  Certain that – if put in your shoes they could live your life and do the job better.

Three, it’s been an insanely busy week.  One where I’ve had much more on my plate than usual.  And usual is already ridiculous by most people’s standards.  On top of it, I haven’t felt well.  I do believe my nose is bleeding at the moment from blowing it so much, darn this cold/sinus infection/whatever it is.  So I’m sure I’m looking good to boot.

I sincerely don’t mean in any way to complain.

Everyone around me is sick.  Busy and hard on themselves I think at times, knowing if they had more time to do it all, they could do any of it better.  Some, I know are far more sick and challenged than I am at the moment so I try to rise everyday thanking the good Lord for whatever level of health I do have.

Just stating the facts.

But, everything this week:  event-wise, situation-wise, health-wise and otherwise, has come back to the whole issue of parenting for me and what I want for myself and my (and my ex’s) daughter.

Big picture stuff.

And big picture can be tough when you and your spouse or ex or whoever else might be in the picture .. can’t seem to ever get on the same page when it comes to even the little things.

(It sure is interesting, though trying to get it all worked out.  Thoughts to be shared perhaps, later.  For now, the Cowboy and I are off to solve the world’s problems over beer and a fish fry.  Isn’t that where all good problems are solved?)

Name them all?

I was going to write tonight about another topic related to marriage/divorce and some of what lies in-between .. because more good spinoff topics seem to keep coming up via (not even the Cowboy anymore but) friends, the more I write on any of this it seems.

But quite honestly, I just want to change the subject.  At least for now.  I need a breather because I’m relatively depressed after hearing from more friends that weren’t at all a part of the crazy mix last weekend .. Friends who are also struggling either personally or in their marriages.  And for some reason, having never read my blog before, they happened to log on this past week, digest the past couple of posts and reach out to let me know it was in some way helpful.  Which should make me feel good.  But I feel awful knowing any of them are hurting.  So .. I’m going to temporarily change the subject.

Come to think of it .. you know what else I might do?  (I’m always dreaming up new ways to further run myself ragged…)

What about creating some sort of ‘buck-up’ boot camp where we run everyone through a ‘things could always be worse’ series of events .. so whenever we might need a boost that our lives really aren’t that bad .. and we should appreciate even the crap we get from whoever it is when we come home each night .. (For me, that’s literal.  I come home to the dog that I have to walk each night and follow her with a baggie so that she can poop and I get to pick it up .. or the cats.  I hate cleaning out litter boxes.  But I hate the smell of litter boxes that haven’t been cleaned out even worse.  That may be obstacle, hmmm.  #3 I’m thinking) it is there to remind you.  Or, perhaps all it will do is prove to you, things are that bad and you’d rather scoop poop and run through a field of electric shock than go home.

People actually do pay good money to do that these days.  It’s called a mud run.  Look for one near you.  Sign up.  Toughen up and let’s get going on some positive changes in your life.

Sorry.  Tangent.

The whole point of what’s above is to say, I’m skipping relationship topics tonight.

In exchange …

I have a quiz for you.

(Insert cheer!  Or, collective groan.  You, of course get to choose.)

This is how I have spent the past couple nights now, with my daughter.  Studying states and their capitols.  There has been hand ringing, tears shed, some elation when she gets them right but mainly frustration that she gets any of them wrong.  If not what the state is or where, it’s how to spell it.

As she was struggling still with Connecticut and seemingly at wits end, I told her, “Try not to stress so much.  Just do your best and picture in your mind what you’ve written down time and again to practice.  Or, just write it down and then go back and sound it out to be sure you’ve spelled it as correctly as possible.”

She looked at me, I believe, still feeling rather defeated.

“Chances are,” I added .. “You’ll do better than most adults if we gave them the same quiz anyway.”

Her eyes flew wide open.

So there.. my challenge to you.  And, her challenge to me tonight.  Well, hers and ‘the boys’ .. that’s what the neighbor affectionally calls his stepson.  Despite the fact the two go to different schools, they have the same quiz tomorrow.  They were testing each other for a few minutes this evening.

Name them.  Can you?

The 50 states and capitols.

Not just name them, though.  Can you also get them in the right place?

Have fun .. good luck .. and in case a little music might help put you in the right frame of mind:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k_HeLofy7IE   I had never heard that before this week. You?

Here’s the deal:

No matter how you do on the test, referring back to the assignment a couple days ago .. if you only talked nicely about your significant other today, you get an A+.

Watering the lawn …

What are you doing to keep your own grass green?

(Not, lawn mowed.  Which would give this post an entirely different meaning.  Keep your minds above the waistline.)

Ok, so this is a follow up to yesterdays quote/post and initial thoughts on the fact that in the midst of a lovely weekend for the Cowboy and I, and one where it seems all we continue to do is build on what we have, we stopped to look at all of the relationship chaos around us (because it got to the point it was almost humorous if it weren’t so sad).  To ponder what it truly takes anymore to have a good marriage or lasting committed relationship.  And, who did we know we might look to, to serve as good examples or role models …

……………

I have a feeling today’s post won’t be very popular among some of my friends.  I have many, many strong women in my life and I know bazillions more out there who don’t read my blog necessarily but that would cringe at what I’m going to throw out there.

BUT I found it interesting .. and at the very least, food for thought.

One of the other blogs I follow is called Heavenly Ramblings .. and I haven’t checked it out in awhile. But for some reason I clicked on a post called, “Where Was God in That,” the other night.  http://heavenlyramblings.wordpress.com/2012/04/14/where-was-god-in-that/

This isn’t ultimately what I want to point out .. but why the title caught my eye:

I had just visited earlier that day, with a friend who had lost a child.

How many of us have looked at events in our lives .. Christ followers or not, and felt like were were terribly alone.  That God could not be present or this wouldn’t be happening. Or, there would at the very least, be some sort of a sign showing you the way past the pain and on through to better days.

We are so conditioned anymore to think pain doesn’t serve some valuable lessons, that our goal is to always just be happy.  And that if we’re not, to toss aside whatever it is and move onto whatever might be next.  There are actual wall hangings now for your home, magnets and cards everywhere promoting that belief.

We all know, life, death and the challenges we are presented with in-between, which include any and all relationships (spouse, being a parent, being a child of an aging parent, friendships, any of it) aren’t easy.

Where marriage is concerned, many unions are worth holding onto, fighting through the pain and frustration, watering the grass so to speak and bringing it back to life.  Others sometimes, as sad as it may be, we need to let go of, simply tear the whole thing up and try replanting.

I’m pretty sure at the lowest point in my own marriage and divorce, I was doing that.  Praying for signs that I wasn’t alone and on the right path.

Anyway .. I’m finally getting to the point here.  When I clicked on the blog post above, this happened to catch my eye in the margins of her webpage.  Especially because of the challenges many are facing around us .. and because the Cowboy and I and many others we know that have been through heartache or divorce wonder what we might do better in any current or future relationship.  Ring on the finger or not.

30 DAYS TO A BETTER MARRIAGE

http://seekinghiswill.wordpress.com/2012/03/22/30-days-of-encouragement-for-your-spouse/

……………

“Would you like to come to church with us,” we asked one of the couples we know that is struggling, via text Sunday morning.  We had been with this couple and a few other people Saturday night.  The evening ended with the party hosts/a married couple in a fight screaming ‘eff you’ endless to each other and the whole neighborhood to be quite honest, and one of them then kicking the whole group out in frustration we weren’t taking sides.

“We don’t do church.”  The text we received back.

I’m not trying to push religion on anyone here.  And I don’t know, that wherever you are at in a relationship, or life any of this will help.

What I do believe .. is that in an age where women especially are stronger, more outspoken, are told they shouldn’t bend, show weakness in the workplace or at home, are asked to take on more with family, community, at home and certainly not put up with less than 50/50 effort from a spouse or significant other, it can be tough to appreciate another person’s contributions to anything.  Because it may never seem enough.

In turn, how we speak to each other or about each other …. perhaps even we would cringe to hear at times.  (from the post.)  That’s all I’m saying perhaps we can give more thought to.   

All I know is 1.) I am always looking to do better, and this is probably an area where I could have done better in my own previous marriage.  I did the best I knew at the time, but I am always looking to better.

2.) Following the challenge mentioned in the post above – won’t make major marital problems disappear and it certainly won’t change some things.  This is just simply one area where it might be interesting to see if it helps your overall day to day.

3.) We also, all need some boundaries in terms of what is acceptable in terms of how we will be treated and communicate that to our families in an ongoing manner.  But how that is communicated ….

If you take away nothing else .. and I want this for my own daughter to think about years down the road when she may be in her own relationship as well as for myself because this can be applied forever across the board (job, parenting, friends, etc) .. but if anyone else might benefit from the thought here..

The challenge asks:  ”If all my family and friends knew about my husband/wife came from a filter of what I’ve said about him/her, what would they think?”  

Do you need to change the filter?  Do you talk positively about your husband/wife to others…or do you complain and criticize?  

Words should never “rejoice in iniquity.”  

Refrain (try it perhaps, for 30 days?) from listing your husband’s/wife’s faults to others.  Instead, present them before others today in a strong, positive manner.  Slip in a “good word” for your spouse.  Resist the urge to correct or belittle him/her in front of others.  Some of what you say may come back to them – May your speech always seasoned with grace.

A new text just came into my phone as I write this .. from one of the couples we know and hold dear that are struggling right now .. and that would be my wish for them.  That they find a way to better season, always, their words with grace.  In good times as well as when there is trouble.

It is also my wish and challenge for myself as a partner, as a mother, a daughter .. and a friend.

May we always find new and healthy ways to keep the grass green.

Staying put …

I was kind of sick to my stomach yesterday.. thinking about making a decision I knew was best to make for so many reasons.

But one that I just didn’t want to do.

We cold decide to stay put in South Dakota .. where we have settled in nicely these first few days of spring break.

Or .. we could head out, leaving the Cowboy’s like we had planned, for a few days in Montana.

……….

We go to Montana every year at least once if not twice. And that’s just the two of us. My 10 year old then goes one if not two more times with her father. I don’t ever feel I can speak on his behalf nor would I want to, but I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say, we all love it. The state. The state of mind. Being there moves me and I think all of us, like few other places.. something I never expected when I moved there so many years ago for my first job. It is where my ex and I met. I’m not sure a day has gone by that my ex doesn’t wish he had ever left. His entire family now lives there, without him. That’s a whole other story.

Regardless .. If we don’t go to visit family, we go to visit all the friends who are like family to us.

The annual roadtrip usually has us swinging a big loop to see friends in Big Sky country, The Bitterroot, Missoula, Ninemile, the Flathead Valley and back toward home .. it’s a lot of driving. And never enough time with any of them.

But this trip, I really wanted and quite honestly, felt I needed time with a woman who is like a second mom to me. The Hat Maker and her family. One stop. One stop I have been looking forward to for a very long time. We had scheduled three days there .. to fall in-between two very long, wonderful weekends at the Cowboy’s.

I didn’t want to back out… but my gut was telling me I should.

The Cowboy and I have had some much needed time together and conversations we just can’t seem to have in earnest otherwise .. since we have been here. All good things.

But until my daughter asked the other night.. “Mom, can’t we stay one more day here?” .. I hadn’t really considered simply staying put for an entire week.

Not only because I’d be changing loosely set plans .. (which I’m typically and all too often, good with)

Or missing out on an opportunity to spend time in a place and with people that feed my soul ..

But because it would mean I would actually stay put, in one place, with little to do other than rest .. regroup .. think .. and have absolute down time with people I love and adore and appreciate here as well. My daughter being one. The Cowboy another.

………..

Downtime is not something I give myself permission to have very often. And I hate to generalize but, I believe it’s actually something we, as a society have gotten so far away from. Many of us, anyway. The Cowboy has been good for me in that regard.

The Hat Maker agrees .. as she adores the Cowboy and what he’s meant for us. She told me on the phone as we were talking about the possible change of plans last night, that it was probably good for us to stay put for awhile. Stop running from here to there and everywhere inbetween because often it never gets us where we want to go anyway.

We woke this morning …

And instead of getting in the car for the twelve hour drive ..

We are enjoying staying put.. heading outside where there are two horses saddled, ready for my daughter and I to ride out in the South Dakota sun .. While we wait for the Cowboy to return home.