Best Part of Waking Up……

Ok, I admit the title is deceiving. I’m not really thinking about morning times…I’m actually thinking and smiling about the evening….right before the light goes out. I’ll explain.

There are moments in your life you remember every year after, I’m guessing until you die. I remember my dad making me watch the moon landing on our little black and white TV. I was 6. I remember when Pres. Reagan got shot and I watched with co workers at the bank where I interned. I was 17. I remember 9/11/01. watching our world change forever as my first baby gurgled and cooed on the floor beside me. Indelible moments and historic.

But I also remember staying up late on Saturday nights, watching old movies on the UHF station with my dad. We thought we invented the MST3K model. I remember laughing so hard my stomach hurt as we made fun of the cheesy films on channel four of five (no cable). I was a teenager. I remember laying my head in my mother’s lap during church services on Sunday mornings. She’d brush my hair with her fingers lulling me to doze. I was 7. I remember the long family trips to Illinois from Tennessee. My dad driving, mom navigating and me and my siblings counting cars and looking at license plates.

Not historical. But memorable and that which colors my memories of my past.

Last night my daughters and I were in bed. My husband was beside me, on his side, eyes closed and quickly nodding off into sleepyland. I was on my side, sitting partly up and partly slumped against my pillows. My oldest comes in and flops face first on top of my blanket covered legs. My youngest comes in, sits in my desk chair and rolls over to put her legs on my bed, crossed at the ankles. It was a Wednesday. We then proceeded to chit chat for about an hour, until I kicked them out because it was a school night.

It was one of the most fun, comfortable, entertaining times Ive ever had. It’s not the first time that has happened. God willing, it won’t be the last. But it is NOT what my experience was growing up as a daughter in the parent/child scenario. They weren’t as numerable.

As I sat there last night, I couldn’t tell you what we talked about really. Their classmates. Their teachers. Gossip about people I don’t know. Wish lists. Coming events. It didn’t matter. We were enjoying each other….and the moment.

Lord knows there is a lot out there in social media world and political world and world in general that do NOT help one’s sense of well-being and self. Sometimes you have to manufacture it. But last night…..it was organic. And it was good. It was the kind of moment that can give you hope.

What I marvel at today was the truly “smallness” of it. No dramatic information was relayed. No tears were shed. And still it was magical. Maybe I should have led with that….Magical moments still exist. 

In this “pussy grabbing, Nazi loving, racist, anti rights, misogynistic, selfish, sexual harassing, raping, cruel” era of history… human-ness has to pull you through. Those human moments. Magical Human Moments.

I’m looking forward to more of them. Best part of….any day.

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Why So Serious?

I LOVED Jimmy Carter. In 1976. LOVED him. I played him at school during the mock elections. I gave the speech for him on the PA system and I like to think that it helped him win the school’s mock election. Why did I love him? Easy…I’d met him.

Actual keychain made by author in Junior High.
Actual keychain made by author in Junior High.

My father was a part of the advertising team that took James Earl on his book tour, marketing his book, “Why Not the Best?”. In Atlanta my mother and I met the team there, went to a book signing, and I met the man. In person. Shook his hand. Got my autographed book. That’s when I decided I was a Jimmy Carter fan, and that I liked politics.

Four years later I was disenchanted with politics in general and Jimmy Carter, specifically. I was not going to go into politics. Clearly who you voted for couldn’t really make real change. So, what did it matter?

So, for decades I didn’t really pay attention to politics.  All politicians, presidents kinda looked the same.  Sounded the same.  Behaved the same. And then came “W.”  The dumb Bush.  The man who could embarrass a whole country in a minute flat…and did so at every opportunity.  He got my attention.  I couldn’t stand him.  He was a ridiculous example of political inbreeding, I thought.  But, still, I figured the US would right itself. We could only go up.  And up we did.

We elected the first African American President.  A black man held the highest office in the country for 8 years. (#IMissObama!)  And again, I didn’t worry about politics.  We were going to be fine.

The USA was figuring it out.  Staying on the right side of history. Whew.  And then we were even on the cusp of electing the first woman President.  A woman who was the most qualified candidate in the history of the office. We were watching history being made again…the good kind of history.

And then…it didn’t happen.  What was the effect?  I care about politics again.

But why?  A friend of mine, after the election when a “celebrity” “businessman” idiot was elected, said “I think you’re taking this election too seriously.”  And it made me think.

How do you respond to that?  There is a huge percentage of Americans who think this was just the #sameoldsameold in elections.  They are using freedoms that those who were elected into office now want to suppress or take away outright.  But I’m taking it too seriously.

I have 2 daughters. Upside – they are white–won’t have to deal with THAT prejudice.  Downside–they have vaginas–all sorts of battles coming to make sure they can make their own decisions about their own bodies.  Battles I thought were won.  I thought we could spend energy on #blacklivesmatter—get right with that.

So I concluded: I, we, have to take politics seriously.  It effects our daily lives.  Seriously.  Nothing in this country changed without righteous anger, protest and persistence. Slavery abolished, women voting, desegregation, marriage equality…it all happened through pushing back and pain.

The women who voted for our current president were able to do so because women a hundred years ago marched and fought and suffered physically and mentally so that they had the right.  (There is an irony there, don’t you know.)  So, it will be in the foreseeable future.  Loins girded.

This is where my mind is these days.  But, I’m not alone.  There are more of us “taking it seriously”…who care what this country becomes.  There is hope.  I am hopeful.

As for President James Earl Carter?  Still love him.  But now I love him for the RIGHT reasons. He’s the greatest FORMER President this country has seen…so far.  And I met him.

 

Who’s First Day Is It, Anyway?

I cannot say why this school year first day is harder than some of the past.  I cannot confirm that is it only because I now have a daughter in high school.  I cannot say it is because both of my girls seem so much more independent and grown up this year.  I cannot say why I’m feeling so….so…confused.

I woke up this morning excited for my girls.  First day.  Highschool and 7th grade!  Big changes, new people, new experiences, blah, blah, blah.  I was a bit on the teary side. Could cross over at any time.  They, on the other hand, were fine.  Blase’, if you will.

They were checking their phones for messages.  They had eaten breakfast.  They resentfully had their photo taken by me…for posterity.  And then they left.

Izfirstday2015“Love you, mom.  Bye”

And they walked away.  Out into the outside–toward the new year. And I just watched.  “Love you, sweetie”, I said quickly, for them to hear before the door closed completely.

And then, ——– quiet.

Maybe I”m tired.  We just got back from a beach vacation.  We haven’t fully unpacked yet. It’s Monday.

Maybe I”m hormonal. It is that time of the LIFE for me.

Maybe I just remember–smaller feet, smaller backpacks, less confidence, more dependence on me.

I cannot say why this first day of school is a bit more difficult for me.  It’s not for them. They walked out the door composed and ready for the new experiences that await them. They didn’t falter or look back at me as they left.  They were fine.  They were happy.

Maybe I’m not confused.  Maybe there is no why to feeling like I do.  Maybe it’s normal. Sometimes normal is hard.

#firstdayblues

Cabin E

20150613_090107Here’s what I had planned for the weekend:  My oldest daughter would go on her first Senior High retreat to do some cabin camping with her church.  I would stay at home and, yes, try to get some stuff done, but as there was not anything on the calendar for Saturday or Sunday, I also hoped to have some “me” time.  My own relaxation time.  In the comfort of my air conditioned home.  That was the plan.

What happened was that the church trip needed another chaperone and I was asked.  I bit the bullet and said yes.  The things I do…I thought to myself.  I’m such a giver. No rest for the weary.  And on and on like that in my head for a while.  I was a bit disappointed in how my weekend was now going to turn out.

On Friday afternoon, the caravan of minivans and SUVs carrying highschool kids and a few adults pulled up the the camp. And while there was electricity and running water, there was no air conditioning, there were spider webs everywhere, and shockingly in 2015, there was no wi-fi or cell service.  It was rustic!  And as I looked upon my cabin on that muggy, hot Friday evening, I felt even more dispondent over what my weekend had become.  I girded my loins for the days ahead of being ever diligent, probably helping to cook and clean a lot, and trying to keep teenagers engaged in some well meaning activities through-out.  I was exhausted thinking about it.

That evening, after unpacking and laying out my sleeping bag on my bed I walked to the main cabin to see what needed to be done for dinner.  As I hit the entry way the aroma of fresh marinara wafted  by my nose and the clinking of pans and utensils could be heard. Through the kitchen door I leaned in and saw three rising high school seniors cooking pasta and sauce, creating salad and toasting bread.  Another rising junior was putting condiments together.  I asked if I could help and was immediately told “No. We’re good.  Thanks.”  And I was dismissed.   Really?  No? Really?

So I stood there.  And I watched.  I was confused into inaction.  1. I was stunned.  Could not believe what I was seeing.  And 2.  I now didn’t have a plan for the next hour of my life.

Eventually, after several minutes of just watching the teens at work, I decided to go back to my cabin.  After all, I should take advantage of the little time off I had to do something for me.  So I grabbed my Kindle, sat on a chair over looking the lake and other teens kayaking, and read.

Now, one might think that this is where the plot twist comes in.  HA!  And that is the plot twist…there is NO plot twist.  Throughout the weekend I never cooked, I didn’t have to clean up dishes, there were no fights to break up, there were no lesson plans to organize.  The kids planned the activities.  They planned and made the meals.  They washed the dishes.

I answered  a few questions.   I played a few games.  I took some walks.  I sang some songs. I roasted some marshmallows.  And I read.  And I thought.  I couldn’t call anyone.  I couldn’t “get stuff done”.  I was on a retreat.

I think it was Sunday morning, as I watched the kids swimming and playing frisbee that I realized how relaxed I was.  Sure, I was sweaty…it was hot, humid and sticky.  But I had gotten away from all the things that pressured me.  Not by choice, mind you. But in the end, I had done what I had really wanted to do.

“The best laid plans of mice and men, often go awry.”   Well, in my case, the best laid plans weren’t really the best plans for me, and the universe fixed that.

At present I am in an air conditioned room complete with electric light, wi-fi and indoor plumbing.  I miss Cabin E.

Temporary Clog

I’ve been clogged.  Well, more specifically, my ears have been clogged for several days.  Particularly the left ear.  It’s wax, so I’m using over the counter meds to decrease it and it is slowly working, but that’s not the point of this.

q_tip

On Friday I went to work, early because of a meeting, and as I sat there listening to participants asking questions back and forth I became dizzy.  The kind of dizzy that feels like you’ve been drinking and clubbing for 5 hours and really need to pass out.  The kind of dizzy that when I closed my eyes…it got worse.  The room was tilting and swaying and I felt off kilter.  So, I went home.  To rest.  To make it better.  To unclog my ears.

And that was fine.  The right ear cleared up fairly quickly and the dizziness receded. The left ear…not so much. I couldn’t hear any specific or precise noises whatsoever —  only the muffled vibrations and beats of sound passing by.  And while there are quite a few things I’d love to turn the volume down for– my youngest’s angry tirades, my oldest’s sarcastic comebacks, my husband asking me what’s for dinner–I had never realized how much I truly miss when I can’t hear out of even one ear.

I don’t mean to sound flip, or stupid or unfeeling of the deaf.  That is not my intent at all.  Being truly hearing impaired permanently is a completely different situation..I get that.  With my recent issue I always had confidence that I would be back to “normal” relatively soon.  I knew that this was temporary.  That is a huge difference between my temporary cloggatude and those truly deaf.  But, and here’s part of my point, I knew what I was missing.  And that was AWFUL.  You don’t miss what you never had.

I was missing answers to questions I voiced.  I would have to turn my head to my “good” ear and ask statements to be repeated.  The more I did it, the more frustrated everyone else became with my ear issue, so there was terseness in responses.

I was missing small and large questions asked of me.  My lack of response leading to more terseness.  Again the need to repeat breeds frustration.

I was missing the small quiet comments made by my daughters “on the sly”.  You know, the funny side bits that make you chuckle or laugh out loud.  Where after you make eye contact with your baby girl and know there is a connection.  The terseness here is my inner monologue to myself and my ear to hurry up and clean up!

As I said, slowly my left ear is becoming less clogged and more normal.  I’m hearing more now of what is said.  I’m saying “repeat that” less.  The dizzyness is gone.  But it has definitely been an experience.  Heh, even the small experiences can “learn” ya somethin’.

At one point I thought I might make this a metaphor for life, re: when situations or people “clog” you up.  There was also the obvious “wait until I’m really old and it’s NOT temporary but progressively worse” idea.  But really it was just about me…my ear….and what I was missing now.  Hopefully I’ll be more appreciative in the future.

Actual Update: Right now as I write this, my oldest is in her bedroom singing.  Not loudly, just quietly to herself, for herself.  I can hear her.  It is lovely.

Not a Golf Story

golf-hole-e1341495561381I had a breakdown the other day.  Not a “throwing stuff at the wall, cursing all around me” breakdown.  A “tears started streaming down my face with seemingly no connection to what was going on around me” breakdown.  So I decided to figure out why that happened.

I get that at 50 we’re supposed to be all about the mid-life self examination and reflection and that’s why so many 50 year old men buy sports cars and the women get chin lifts and cheek implants.  Got it.   But, I didn’t do that.  Didn’t even WANT to do that.  At 50 I was fine.  It was just a number.  I was proud that I had made it to 50.  I enjoyed the perks of being an AARP member (free donuts at Dunkin!).  51 was fine too.  Surreal just because at 16 you can’t really even conceptualize being 51.   But 52…ah…52.

Let me first say that this time of year is difficult for me anyway.  My dad was diagnosed with a brain tumor 2 days before my birthday in April  of 1994 and died that same year on Father’s Day in June.  Rough spring…rough year, and so spring always gets me a little grumpy.  But this year…whew.

So, I broke it down and realized my “crisis” had been delayed.  I was having it at 52.  Then, because that’s how my mind works, I asked myself, “Why?  Why  a mental meltdown?  Why now?”   The answer came to me rather simply.  And when I looked back in time, logically.  It’s happened before.  Major emotional epiphanies don’t happen as scheduled.  They happen when you least expect it because they need to.

When I turned 50 and even last year, I was kinda prepared for a bout of depression to hit.  I had been in conversations with friends questioning their life choices, but I had just shrugged.  Don’t get me wrong–I’ve made some bad choices, but I felt I’d come to terms with them.  Understanding that while with wisdom I perhaps would have made different decisions, the decisions I did make made me who I am and colored the reason my life is like it is.  A “that’s life” attitude, if you will.  That’s what I had.  But the other day…

I was sitting in my hotel room during a break from a conference I was attending.  I was staring out the window at the beautiful golf course and fountains surrounding me, watching as 4 golfers played a hole all the way to the green.  Each taking a putting shot at the hole.  No one making it and then each grabbing their ball off the ground and walking back to the golf  cart–done with that hole.  I was confused.  No one had putted their ball in the hole.  Not a man.

Wasn’t the point to get the ball in the hole?  Didn’t you keep hitting it until it finally fell into the hole?   That’s one reason I didn’t play golf.  I knew I had no skill at getting the tiny white orb into the far away hole.  I even suck at putt-putt.  You can’t fail if you don’t try.

I looked at the hole and back at the golfers sauntering away from it.  None of  them looked back at the hole.  They were clearly finished with it.  And so I cried.

Now, I’m not really trying to make some great analogy between golf and my life.  That would be too contrived.  But that little incident made me think.  Here I was at a conference I wasn’t really interested in, in a hotel on a course of a game I never played, tearing up because this was where I was at 52.  So, I need to change something.

I’ve made that vow before.  But I want to stop crying.  I am 52…it’s not a bad age…it’s not even that old (especially if you’re over 60).  Sure, every spring is gonna be harder than the rest of the year—but maybe if I just start small.  A small change every…what…month?  Yeah.  Month.  That’s 12 changes or adjustments each year.  Ok.  First change–more blogging.  Writing may not be my passion…but it is a lifeline for my brain.  I need to do it more.  Maybe it will keep the breakdowns at bay.

Maybe I don’t need to get every ball in every hole.  Maybe sometimes I can just pick up my ball and drive away from the hole.  How’s that for a lesson?

See, told you.  This wasn’t about golf.