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 good marriage …

The grass is not greener on the other side of the fence.  It is the greenest where nurtured and cared for.  If your grass is not green, what are you doing – or not doing – to have it that way?‘  –  Wedding Ceremony Sermon

…………….

The Cowboy and I had a wonderful weekend together .. filled with family and friends and more friends and family.

And some drama.

Fortunately, not between us.  But it was .. surrounding us.  And as we were caught between conversations (and this is just in one 48 hour period); 1) of a friend miserable in their marriage, wanting to know about a single friend 2) of a married couple we are close and spent time with but who were at each others throats 3) of a single friend over the phone wondering why the only people who want to date her are married 4) catching up with another couple who plans their week scheduling as much time apart as possible because its easier than being together and 5) of another couple in the midst of an affair and very open about it ..

The Cowboy asks me as we’re trying to navigate phone calls and how to respond to any of it, “Who do you know that really has a good marriage?”

I paused .. and when I went to answer, I paused again for a long time.

…………….

Thinking about the question posed, now almost a day later and as I write, I do know quite a few friends who are in wonderful marriages.  Not that any union is ever without its challenges.  But when challenges come, from what I have ever witnessed, they face them together, with respect, love for each other and a commitment to stick together.  And they have come through it stronger.

Far too many of us know …

… That’s not always possible.

Having been through divorce myself though, I get it.  I know the feeling of hopelessness. Years of it.  Of, no matter what you do, it’s not right.  Of defeat.  Of trying everything you can to save it.  Then being told its never enough.  Of counseling.  Finding hope.  Of a few months of things going well only to have the cycle reverse itself again.  Of knowing there is more to life than the misery it seems two people bring out of each other.  Seeing the pain in a child’s eyes of what the two of you are when you are together.  And imagining the sorrow and confusion in that same child’s eyes, of what it will be should you part.  Of wanting to run your car into a tree versus return home at night because it would be easier than making that decision.  Of knowing that’s not the answer.  And then, of getting to the point you know the pain of staying is worse than anything else you will have to go through to get to the other side.

My ex still says he wishes we had never married in the first place.  That it was the biggest mistake of his life and he should have known better.

While I don’t feel the same .. I get it.

And I’m not going to lie ..

There are so many reasons why one might choose the option of divorce over staying married.  Statistics show over half of our population now does.  While I was devastated to be the one to finally force that step we had both talked about for years, I have not regretted the decision to separate from my ex for one day.

But had there been any chance for us .. any .. to live in harmony and have the life we both wanted, I would have continued to try and make it work.

…………..

Marriage .. even just a committed long term relationship, is hard.  And as the Cowboy and I talk about where we go from this place we are at .. in life .. in location .. in any of this and we look at the challenges being faced by so many around us and the situations they are creating for themselves as well as having been in some of those places in one way or another ourselves, the question posed stumped us both.  At least momentarily.

We have something good.  But at one point, so did we with our -ex’s .. and so did all of these family and friends ..

How do you hold onto that, the good?  Or the great.  We have talked about this before.  Many times.

I asked the one married friend who was calling to ask about my single friend and if I thought they might have any chance to hook up with them .. first, I think I said, ‘Are you kidding?’  Second, I know I asked if they were willing to work on their own marriage.  Tend to the grass.  Work on making it green.  Had they even talked with their spouse about how devastated they were.

“No, not really,” they said.

“Wouldn’t that be an important first step?  Do you want to save your marriage or are you just done?  My ex and I went to counseling on and off for almost 8 years, you know that,” I said.

“I think I’m just done.  There is no love.  There hasn’t been for a long time,” this person replied.

……………

How .. how do you bring it back?

How do you make sure the grass is greener on your side of the fence than what it appears on the other.  And what can any of us do to regrow the lawn/a relationship when it seems so far gone?

Or are we just a throwaway society anymore and it doesn’t matter if there is still some life in the yard .. we just want to rip the whole thing apart, and start over with some fresh sod.  Because sometimes that is all you can do.

The Cowboy and I have been pondering all of this …

And they have been good, ongoing conversations for us, as we work to keep our own relationship strong and green and help others we love and care about through some pretty rough patches.

Something I need more time to think about .. before I write any more.  That will be tomorrow’s post.  Your thoughts in the meantime?

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.

First of (hopefully not) many to come?

It is a peaceful morning at the Cowboy’s ranch.

The sun is shining.  There is a slight breeze blowing.  No tv or music playing.

It is just quiet.

My daughter and I a few minutes ago, sat down to the coffee, bacon and waffles the Cowboy made for us before leaving for an appointment.

We had slept in, rolling in early this morning after a much later departure than I had hoped for last night.

………….

This is the start to our spring break this year ..

Well, I wish this were the start.  I like this start better.  We are instead going this morning, with .. the ‘do-over’ I wrote about a few posts ago.

…………

“Mom, can I have a hug,” my daughter asks as we were still lying in bed this morning.

She’s lying on her side, looking at me with one eye.  The other eye is buried in her pillow.  We are mirroring each other in that respect.

I give her a hug.  “I love you, honey..” I say.

The hug rounds out one of the first big fights we have ever had.

Well, actually, that she had with me last night as we were trying to get the car packed and actually get out of town.  I had a long time on the drive here last night to think about what set it all off.  And, we’ve talked about it since.  But ..

This was truly the first, and quite honestly, impressive (not in a good way) rant I’ve seen from her.

Normally we might have some pouting.  Some name calling.  Some assertiveness and being bossy.  She hasn’t been terrible about that.  She’s usually a pretty great kid and under control.  But this was a no good knock down drag out throw every nasty name in the book and do what I can to hurt mom kind of fight.  That was before the threats to throw yogurt all over the car (I almost doubled over laughing about the thought of that one as she threatened while I put gas in the car), dump my coffee (gasp! she knows my weak spot) and pinch me as hard as she could.

The “I don’t love you anymore I just want my dad the rest of my life and I wish you were never born,” kind of fight.

And it all started with me simply asking her to clean the cats litter boxes before we left.

“I tried,” she fussed at me, as I went to pour in more fresh litter and discovered there was still a lot to be cleaned.

I went to look for the scooper.

It was hiding in a corner, freshly snapped in two.

“Child (insert name)?” I ask .. “How did the scoop get broken?  Did that just happen?”

“No.  And .. It just broke,” she replied.

“It didn’t ‘just break‘ honey, what happened?  We have others coming to care for the cats and now the scoop is broke?” I say, increasingly frustrated at this point.  Frustrated my child (my fault at this point) isn’t better at handling a few simple chores.  And that we’re not already on the road.

“Why are you being so mean to me,” she asks.

I try and take stock of how I’m talking to her .. thinking, uh oh, did I push her too far?  Am I that frustrated trying to get out the door I’m taking it out on her?  Or, is it that I’m holding her accountable for one of two relatively simple tasks she’d rather not do, that’s has her so upset.  But it’s too late.  She’s in a full fledged rage, screaming bloody murder as she scoops the last of the clumps out of the litter box with half a scoop saying she doesn’t want to go with me now, and just wants her dad.  I keep doing what I’m doing, trying to stay focused and let her have this moment, hoping meanwhile that the neighbors aren’t getting concerned something else more traumatic is going on.  Next thing I know she’s unpacking all of her things from the car.  And on the phone.  To dad.

Now.. thank goodness he and I are in a place where .. even in divorce .. this no longer even remotely pits the two of us against each other.  If anything, her growing up and trying to play either of us has us talking and getting along better than we perhaps ever have.  And he knows she has called me at the slightest point of upset on his end.  It’s good to know we’ve got each others backs here.

(If I have learned anything important to pass along through my own divorce, it’s that .. if there is even a chance as a mom or dad you can present a united front .. despite separate homes, it makes a huge difference.  Not always in the moment, but in the big picture.  That’s for just about anything that may come up.)

But it was brutal.  For quite some time.  I let her keep going with it and ignored her for the most part, wondering how long she might keep it up.  And I was generally impressed with the steady stream of insanity that flowed from her healthy vocal chords.  I didn’t realize she had that in her to be honest.  At a few times I had to hold back a smile.  Which upset her even more.

It only ended as we were finally on the road about 20 minutes from home and she was furious I hadn’t started to cry.  My 10-year-old took off her seatbelt and threatened to open the door and jump out because it would be better than staying in the car with me.  And then she went for the gear shift and power button.  (Yes, my car has a power button.)

It was time to put this to an end.

She begged me to stop so that she could go to the bathroom and I told her that was perfect because she had gone on long enough and I was concerned now about both our safety.  And lucky for us, I knew that State Patrol headquarters was right next to the string of restaurants and gas stations we were heading for.

“If you can’t get this under control for yourself,” I said .. “perhaps we need to go and talk with the police.  Because I’m worried you’re going to hurt either yourself or both of us and  can’t let you do that.”

Snap.  She’s out of it.

“Are you hungry?” I ask.

We pull up to Culver’s and get out.

“I’m so sorry, mommy…..” she says as she walks around the front of the car toward me offering her arms for a hug.

“I think it’s puberty.  I’m pretty sure that’s why I’m doing this.  Can I have some ice cream?”

………….

I pray this is not a regular occasion.

But I also know, I gave my own parents a few doozies when I was her age.  Probably not to the extent I got last night, because I knew there would be a hand on my face at the first utter of some of the words she chose last night or a hand mark on my behind.  But I’m sure my words at that time, cut close.

I’m not proud of that.

In fact, and my daughter and I have talked about this already this morning.  If I have any regrets from a life otherwise well lived .. it is that I ever said some of the things I did to my parents.  That I know had to have stung .. just a bit.  In particular, to my own mother.

She used to say .. “I can hardly wait until you have your own kids…” with a smile on her face.

I am learning, day by day .. what she meant..

…………

It is still quiet here at the ranch this now Saturday afteroon.

The dishes are cleared and put away after a late brunch..

And I’ve had a few wonderful moments to sit and write again after a chaotic week…

I can hear the truck coming up the drive ..

The Cowboy is has returned.

And we’re going outside to learn how to ride a bike ..

Which, she also doesn’t want do.

Let’s see how this one goes..

NPR and the rodeo …

It’s late .. I’m still up.  And I know once my feet hit the floor in the morning, I will be on the run.  So.. I’m going to just knock this out tonight.  Today.  This morning.  Whatever you want to call it.  It’s 2:40 a.m. and while I was wiped out around 10 p.m., I missed my window.

But because my brain may not be functioning at ‘full-well-rested’ mode, I admit I’m going to slack this Monday.

Not just because I want to or need to .. but because after all this talk about the rodeo, I thought it interesting that as I was listening one morning last week to NPR, a promo came on for a piece All Things Considered was doing.

(NPR as in National Public Radio .. not to be confused, which could be easy at first glance, with NFR.)

It caught my attention.

And because I haven’t had a chance to hear it yet, I thought I’d search for it and at the same time, share my find …

………….

My parents, from what I recall, didn’t listen to much NPR at all as we were growing up.  I’m not sure my dad does now.  Many of my friends don’t .. while others are avid followers of anything and everything NPR.  They live, breathe and devour all of the programming they possibly can.

And, there’s a lot to digest, regardless of how you feel about the venue.  I hear people complain all the time how ‘too far to the left’ NPR’s programs are.  But it makes me smile that the person who really introduced me to it and loved to listen, is one of the most staunch republicans I know.

Anyway ….

From All Things Considered.

The Rodeo Circuit: Bucking Bulls And Broken Bones 

The Rodeo:  I thought it might be interesting to pass along…

…  Pass along for the likes of perhaps, my daughter, who is excited to someday do something besides ride/walk her horse around in circles inside of a barn.  For the person who knows nothing about the rodeo and is just curious to learn .. or for those of you who just appreciate a good story about anything.

If that doesn’t interest you .. try this.

The “Goat Rodeo.”

http://tinyurl.com/7wc9y85

Perhaps classical music is more your style than ‘bucking bulls.’

Either one or both, I believe .. work for me.   But perhaps the latter will best help me get to sleep.

Don’t expect much, if you don’t put in ….

The Cowboy’s daughter said to him last night, “Good job, dad,” as they were leaving the rodeo..

He replied, “No, I didn’t.”

“Well,” she said, “you tried your best.”

The Cowboy, doesn’t like to miss.  He missed last night.  His partner broke the barrier. Disappointed, he thought this might be an opportunity to remind himself of a good lesson.. and one to teach his kids.

“I’m a little rusty,” he told her.  “And I didn’t prepare.  You do your best by being prepared, by practicing.  Not by just doing your best the one day you go do something.  That’s true of a lot of things.”

I’m getting a recap this morning via the videophone .. it’s good to see him again.

“I didn’t even rope on my horse before I went.  It’s my fault.”

……………..

According to the Cowboy, his horse hadn’t been roped on in six months.  He himself, had roped only a few times the past couple of weeks.

He said he had been thinking on the drive there last Friday, not to expect much.

“I can go to the practice pen right now and never miss.  When you’re a team roper you have a  partner that relies on you.  You feel bad.”

………………

The past year has meant big changes for the Cowboy, changes that had him scaling far back from a whole lot of roping and riding.

Until that point however .. his family and the rodeo had been his life.  He spent most of his time, from what I gather .. on the road working, roping, hosting schools.  Things were tough at home because he was gone.  When he was home things were tough.  Something many of us, in various ways, can relate to.  We wonder .. how much more could we have put into a marriage, a job, a hobby or a sport .. and where would that leave us now?  Or would it have changed anything.  Had we ‘practiced’ more.  Focused.  Been better prepared and known then what we know now.

One can only guess – sometimes.

What we do know for sure is, and we were chuckling about how universal the message is this morning.. you can’t change anything looking back.  In life.  Or in the rodeo.

“Don’t expect much if you don’t put out much,” said the Cowboy.

More laughter.  That can be taken so many ways ..

I think the old saying goes, ‘Don’t expect much, if you don’t put in the work’ .. but his phrase might be more fun to use.

Either way .. as I sit here eating a cupcake for lunch .. wondering why I’m struggling still to lose weight.. I’m thinking, touché.

I’m off for a run.

Back in the saddle ..

Since I’ve known the Cowboy .. he’s taught roping.

He’s practiced roping with friends, on occasion.

But I have yet to see him rope.. or heel is what he usually does, in an actual rodeo.

Watching afternoon practice ..

Despite the fact he essentially dropped out of his career as a team roper to get through his divorce a year ago, to be home more and spend as much time as possible with his kids..

He still made the Minnesota Rodeo Association Finals  http://www.mnrodeo.org/ this weekend in Fergus Falls, MN.

Unfortunately…

He didn’t get notice that he qualified, until I had something on the books already for the weekend.

Very bummed about that.

Now … this brings up a dilemma each person/couple/family has to face and make decisions about on their own.  But after years of essentially not worrying all that much about someone else having something on their calendar besides my daughter, that might conflict with my own insane number of commitments .. I wasn’t sure what to do.

I wanted to go..

But at the very least, four other people were relying on me to be not at a rodeo in the middle of nowhere, Minnesota.

Completely torn, I was asked a couple of months ago to make a decision so that everyone knew where I stood and could adjust accordingly.  The Cowboy and I had a long talk .. and for a number of reasons, we decided it was best I kept my current commitment.

“I’ll be roping plenty of times from here on out for you to come watch,” said the Cowboy.

I’m looking forward to it.

And while I’m enjoying the much needed down time alone this weekend in-between commitments..

The kids are with him .. so are his folks.

Selfishly, I am wishing I/we were with them too.

…………….

It is so easy to get caught up in the chaos of a good life .. the opportunities to go and see and do and be a part of .. and there is never a shortage, especially when you live near so many good friends and family.

This weekend however..

Friday night dance after the rodeo ..

…has been a beautiful reminder of how nice it might be..  to not have a calendar completely booked out for the rest of the year.  Or at least time, set completely aside for whatever may come along.  Is it possible?  I don’t know..

But I may just give it a try.