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.

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A True Cowgirl …

Let me just start by saying, I will never pretend to be a True Cowgirl.

cow·girl  n.  A hired woman, especially in the western United States, who tends cattle and performs many of her duties on horseback.

I love the life, the lifestyle and am incredibly appreciative of the opportunity to do more things considered Cowgirl since meeting the Cowboy.  But despite the fact I’ve worn cowboy boots since earning enough to buy my first pair as a teen, love country music and all it stands for and have always wanted to live at the end of a dirt road .. I’ve never called myself a cowgirl and know it’ll take awhile to earn the stripes associated with the title, if ever.

Especially after the events of this week.

………..

We have worked a lot around the Cowboy’s ranch this week.

We’ve also ridden each day.  For hours.  Down dirt roads, through fields, in arenas …

Learning the flag race ..

Around barrels.

And unfortunately for me .. I also rode this week, into a barrel.

It’s happened only once out of all the runs we’ve ever taken.  But I took a pretty good chunk of skin out of my shin.

(Apparently real cowgirls, some of them anyway.. the Cowboy says ones who have horses who like to ‘dive at the barrel’ wear shin guards because they have the gift of that experience.  But I’m thinking most don’t, because true cowboys would most likely make fun of a cowgirl who wears shinguards.)

Anyway, days later the leg still smarts.

But not as much as it did before.   Because I now have a few new aches and pains to help take my mind off a sore leg.

………..

We no more than got Ol Joe saddled up yesterday (the Cowboy’s roping horse, who I have been riding all week and every time we’ve been to the ranch), and into the arena with the girls on their horses ..

And he threw me.

It was a valiant effort to stay on, mind you.  I’m sure of it .. (lmao)

But I ended up on the ground.

While I have prepared mentally for that moment for years .. until it happens, I’m pretty sure you can’t really appreciate how little control you have over how you fall.  Unless like bronc riders for instance, you practice .. A LOT.

Regardless, it was the first time I’ve ever been thrown.  And as I lay there in the dirt having hit my tailbone a couple times on the saddle and then my head on the ground after bracing the fall with my arm .. I assessed just what really hurt.

And then the thoughts creeped in .. that a true cowgirl both would know how to ride through something like that .. and that she would also probably get up faster than I was.

I hear crying over to my left ..

I’m still laying there.  “I’m fine,” I say.

The girls, both now standing nearby on their own horses, were upset and worried.

“Are you okay?” says the Cowboys daughter .. mine saying in unison,  “Mom, are you okay?”

I hear more crying.

I start laughing to reassure them that I am, or will be shortly, just fine.

“Really,” I say.  “Just give me a minute.”

I’m still laying in the dirt.  I laugh some more.  And think, that’s about how my own mother would have handled it.  Laugh through the pain.

I got up .. slowly.  Dusted myself off.  And went to help them get Ol Joe back into the arena.

The Cowboy rode him for a few minutes.

And then I got back on.  I wasn’t sure my body was ready for it.  But the Cowboy made me.  Which in hindsight, I appreciate.

…………

“You haven’t ridden enough if you haven’t been bucked off at least once,” the Cowboy tells me.

So .. this was a good thing, I guess.

I may not be a true cowgirl.  But I’m on my way perhaps to better understanding what it takes to be one ..

And as we talk this morning about saddling Joe and the other horses back up ..

I’m enjoying every painful step of walking around, getting ready to head back out again, to ride.

The ‘Do-over’…

While my ex and I had a tough time with a lot of things..

We did a few things well.

One of them… was the ‘Do-over’.  (Which, for the record, was his idea.  I want to give credit where credit is due.)

If we had had a rough start to the day or the week or the whatever .. we’d recognize when we had come to an impasse.. or just a better place.  Of understanding.  Of compassion. Of wanting to move forward.

One of us would say .. ready.. set..

Refresh

And in an instant, we let go of whatever was nagging at us.  Give each other a fresh start.  Smile and come back at the day.

………..

The Cowboy and I have needed a do-over all week.  And we’re finally there, I think.  We hit the refresh button a few times.. but much like my computer these days.. we’ve gotten stuck halfway, loading any page .. and out of frustration we’ve both shut down for the day.  Feeling in need of a good repair person to come tell us what the problem was and fix it for us.

I’m pretty sure this time we’ve officially rebooted the whole system and are back at 100%.

………..

Spring is kind of like that ..

A time to hit the reset button. It has been a beautiful spring throughout many parts of the country.  Things which usually don’t come back to us yet for months are already in full bloom.  Life as we know it, in nature anyway.. has returned as well.

But the cycle of life.. always includes challenges.  And sometimes with the beauty of spring, come some very terrible storms.

It has been a tough week, not just for the Cowboy and I .. we have been quickly reminded of how small a storm we are weathering compared to others around us.

Some very dear friends have announced divorce.  Have lost a child.  A father and grandfather.  News has come two others are now managing end-of-life care, losing their battles to cancer.  And a second mother to me is back in the hospital.

It has been a challenging week.  One that reminds me there is a cycle to life and to relationships.  That along with the good I always look for and try to hold constant, the constant spring..

… that there are seasons.

And every chance we have for our own spring .. our own reset .. or do-over with those we love and hold dear, much like the time with the delicate magnolia blossoms on this tree, is a gift.

Clay.

One of the hardest things we have to do in life, is trust.

But it’s also one of the most important.

Trust that as children, our parents will provide for us, the basic necessities.

Trust that as we grow, we have what it takes to survive and thrive in an ever changing, often very tough world.

Trust in something.  Someone.  Bigger than yourself.

For me, it is God.  It is what grounds me and gets me through, not always unscathed, but through the challenges that present themselves day to day.

Trust that there is a reason for everything.

And that when it is your time, for life.. for death.. and whatever may lie in between, you will have what you sincerely need to get through.  To get through to that place He, for whatever reason, has in store for us.

I struggle with that sometimes when I really go back and think of the experience we had with my mother dying.

When I really give myself time to remember what it was like to look into her eyes.. hold her hand .. and try to reassure her it would be ok, as she struggled to breathe, very afraid of both leaving us.

And the process of dying.  Would it hurt.  Was there really a place she was going called Heaven.  The why’s.  The how’s.  Mostly, the why’s, although she only once ever said it.

I can’t imagine.. whether it is death, losing someone in any capacity .. or the life some of us feel we have been given to lead,  that most of us don’t feel challenged in our faith on a consistent basis.

Having had so many that mean so much .. come and go in my life in such a short time, I try and just feel blessed I have the people in my life I do, however long it is possible.

……………..

I took the photo above, at our church the other weekend.  The church had been host to an artists conference and there were a few works on display yet that Sunday morning.

Out of everything there.. this one photo stood out to me.

The parallels to life, of clay being molded into something beautiful.  Starting out as a heap.  Slowly being spun.  Not always holding it’s shape, but reminded time and again, turn after turn of the wheel, where it is supposed to go based on the work of the hands.  That it will be ok if it just trusts in what is happening, works with the artist and allows guidance.  The edges are softened.  Eventually, a beautiful pot is made.

…………….

I wrote a blog earlier today walking through some of the conversations the Cowboy and I have had this week.  I asked the Cowboy what was off limits.  ‘I trust you’, is what he most often says.  ‘I have nothing to hide.’

I wrote it carefully as I do every entry.  Well, most.  Sometimes when a post seems relatively benign and just for fun and I’m in a hurry to document something, my grammar is terrible and words are misspelled everywhere.  But whatever…

I did everything I could to be factually correct throughout and provide the essentials of one small moment in time.  This one very small part of a much bigger story of my life which will unfold piece by piece otherwise in any true daily journal.

Because it seemed too much for one quick read, I split it in two.  Tomorrow was going to be the lessons learned from all of this.  Most of which detailed my ignorance to what most other people who lead what might be considered a ‘more normal life’ than I do, find acceptable.  Versus what I consider normal.  (Is there a normal out there anymore?  I ask as I am up writing at 4am after having fallen asleep again earlier in the night with my daughter)  And why I have learned through this I need to get back to a place where I know I have to work on being more considerate.  Because the last thing I want to ever do is hurt anyone, especially someone I love.

I pulled the post.  Even though I do plan to save it for my daughter.  Because the lessons all around still apply.  They are tough lessons.  And one I wish my mom were around to talk with about.  (I have several other ‘second moms’.  A story to be told closer to Mother’s Day I think.)

For as authentic as I want to be always in person, in writing, in life .. the whole reason I am journaling ..

I also at this moment don’t believe it is worth dragging out some of the pain the Cowboy and I .. feel the situation we’ve found ourselves in, worth.

I hope that is authentic enough in and of itself.

I need him to trust I will take care of his heart.  And I am fairly certain, until any of us ever heal from previous unhealthy relationships, hurt or pain, losses in life through things like divorce or in death, that it is tough to lay your heart fully out there to trust anyone again.

We are still being molded.  And I want to take the best possible care of the clay we have been given in the trust it will turn yet, into something even more beautiful.

Insight gleaned from hydrangeas on the floor …

My cat right now is chasing a guitar pick around the living room like it’s the best toy, ever.  Like, it’s on the run from him and he’s totally not going to let it get away.

I’m pretty sure its the first thing to bring a genuine smile to my face since about 8:00am yesterday.

Of course.. it follows him knocking over a vase freshly filled with water to get a drink.

Which makes me smile, too.

Now that I’ve cleaned up the water, anyway.  Because it’s my own damn fault he knocked it over.  I knew he was thirsty.  He had been looking for something for probably the past ten minutes.  I could hear him checking the shower for any residual drops.  I was folding clothes.  He came and looked at me.  I asked if he could give me a few minutes.

He went to the dog dish.  Nothing there.  I’m still folding clothes.  I hear the vase go.  He always goes for the flower vase when I don’t respond quick enough or there are no other options.

I pick up the hydrangeas off the floor..

I pause, before placing them back in the vase.  Go and get some more water.

And put them back on the table.

I tend to buy myself flowers when I need a pick me up.  Or, just because.

Today, I needed the pick me up.

………….

Oh the irony, I think to myself.  The cat knocks the vase over because he needs something.  Something I didn’t get him immediately.  A bit drastic?  Perhaps.  But it reminds me of my day.  When you wait too long to address a situation, it can easily get out of hand.

………….

I received a text Monday morning from the Cowboy about 25 minutes after he hit the road to head home to South Dakota.

“Please call when you drop (daughter) off, need to talk” states the text.

We had just had 48 hours of pretty much nothing but time to talk.  Time in the car.  Hours.  Together with nothing to do but talk.  We had some really fun, wonderful conversations.  So much so in fact, I pointed it out specifically after one very animated chat about shows we each used to watch when we were kids.

“My brothers and I used to not get out of the car unless we could go through the windows,” said the Cowboy.  “Dukes of Hazard.  Did you watch that one?  We loved that show.”

He shared some more ridiculously fun and fond memories about times he and his brothers did some crazy things to be like the Duke boys..

I’m laughing.

“These are really great conversations,” I honestly said to the Cowboy on our return trip Sunday from Chicago.  “Have you ever been able to talk to someone like this?” I ask.

“No,” he said smiling.  “I haven’t.”

I even took a few notes because they are conversations worth journaling.  Internally I’m thinking, how can we make sure we always continue to talk like this?  To keep learning from each other?

‘Need to talk.’

I hear this and think, oh no.. what’s happened.  There is so much going on right now.  So many moving parts in both our lives.  The Cowboy has a big day back home, Tuesday.  Monday was a prep day.  And here I was concerned it was something in regard to ‘said’ meeting.  Or the kids.  Something is horribly wrong.  Someone’s been hurt or is sick.

Nope.

‘I want to ask you about some texts I saw on your phone,’ says the Cowboy.

………….

Besides the whole host of things that might need to be discussed here ..

And mind you, I leave my phone lying around with no concerns about anything anyone might see on my phone because I have nothing to hide

This all started Saturday morning …

It is now Monday.  And he’s left, on his way home.

…………..

I struggled with what to write, if anything at all tonight/today.  Because quite honestly, I’m still baffled about the entire situation.  But more importantly, the Cowboy has enough on his plate and the last thing I ever want to do is upset him or distract him from major life tasks that are imminent and need his focus.

I’m also wondering if stress isn’t playing a major role in any and all issues we’re having right now versus actual problems.

So I’m leaving it at this .. for now.

There are lessons, always, to be learned in our every day.  And there are stories and wisdom I wish my mother were still alive to hand down to me.  From simple things like how she made such awesome rosettes for instance .. to the complex.  Relationships.  Marriage.  Finances.  Friends.  Dreams.  Even cats.  (Yes, even cats.  I’m sure they fit in here, somewhere.)

I feel strongly the situation that has unfolded the past 24 hours specifically holds a lot of food for thought for my daughter, as she gets older and will undoubtedly face similar situations.  So I will figure out how to tactfully write about what has transpired.  Just not now.

……………

Much like the vase tipped this morning.. and the gush of water and flowers on the floor .. some things become bigger messes than they ever need to be.  Or are worth being.  Because attention wasn’t given at the right time.  Or to the right thing.  Sometimes, it can be as simple as someone/something wanting to make a mess.  But usually there’s a deeper cause.  Whatever the case .. in the wee hours of the morning as I write this:  I’m not sure how the Cowboy is.  I want nothing but good things for him and us however .. so we shall see how well we navigate this road.  But the cat .. the cat is the only thing at the moment, I feel I can appease.  And because he let me know very swiftly there was an issue..

Apparently I need to clean my floors again. I know.. I know..

There is now water in every dish.

A content cat on the sofa sleeping.

And a guitar pick that can rest.

……………

I’m off to try and do the same.

(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.

Sometimes …

Sometimes… sometimes it isn’t church people need to reground them.  Like I talked about yesterday.

Sometimes it’s a mountain.  I used to hike when I lived in Montana and that always felt like going to church.  Even looking at the mountains.  Peaceful.

Sometimes it’s a good book that takes people away.  The Cowboy and I were talking about insightful versus just good fiction reads tonight.. as we spent some time at the bookstore.

Maybe a long, hard workout.  Or a hot yoga class.

Or a ride.  On a bike.  (Sarah, never noticed the police sticker on the back of the bike until was posting this pic from our ride.. curious of the story behind it!)

Or, a horse.

Maybe a concert.  The dog park.  Or a night out with friends.

There are a lot of things that help someone let go, step back, escape for even a few minutes.

Sometimes though .. there is just NOTHING like a good vacation.  Forces you to step outside the drama of the everyday.  Helps hit the reset button.

If I could send a few wonderful people on a good vacation right now, for even a few days, I believe the world would be a much more calm, happy place.  Maybe.

Maybe not.  But sometimes, it is nice to think about, if not try.  Because then, even if it is for a few moments, you can pull yourselves away from their drama.

Tomorrow’s blog (I think. If nothing else pressing comes up):  Why it’s not called ‘a lasso’.  Or, perhaps, ‘what happens when your child walks in on ….’ You know, a much lighter, mortifying topic.