Thursday, July 29, 2010

Past and Present

I am sitting here watching a public television broadcast fundraising drive. The featured show is a tribute to the life and music of John Denver. I have always loved his music and was saddened by his sudden and premature death a few years ago. As I listen to the lyrics and melodies I am transported back to an earlier time in my life. Nostalgia washes over me. There is something so simple and pure about his music. The funny thing is, I am not sure I fully appreciated it back then. Now, as I pay close attention to what he was saying . . . really get present with the music, I feel both joy and sadness. So many sweet memories.

I had the privilege of singing, with my dear friend Lois, a trio of his amazing songs at the funeral of our dear friend Dennis. As we sang a medely of I Wanna Live; Lady; and Sunshine on My Shoulder, I felt a complete connection between the past and the present. His music also helped to carry me through my first 10 hour solo drive from California to Utah.

Thirty years after most of his songs were recorded I took off by myself on a journey prompted by love and fear. I was trying to salvage and hang on to the few remaining vestiges of a dying marriage. My husband had always done all of the driving any time we traveled for more than a short distance, but this time I was alone heading for what I hoped would be a joyous reunion. I don't recall much about the outcome of that trip, I know that I eventually found myself embroiled in a long, drawn-out, and very bitter divorce. What I do remember is the freedom I felt as I drove along, windows down, John Denver's music blaring from the radio. I sang along at the top of my voice and the music helped me spend very little time worrying about what might lie ahead.

It was on that trip that I put quarters in my first slot machine . . . and actually won! I remember how free and alive I felt. It seemed as though anything was possible. It was the first of many liberating experiences I would have over the next few years as I began to let go of the past and look toward a new future . . . a very different future than I had imagined for myself.

But tonight, as I reminisce about the bittersweet memories of the past, I am also keenly aware of how perfect my life has been. How every thing that seemed absolutely heartbreaking has brought me to a place in this moment where I feel more love than I ever thought I could. In this present moment I know I have always been taken care of and that no matter what, I will be amazingly fine. As John sings, "Perhaps love is like a resting place, a shelter from the storm." I know I have been sheltered every step of the way in the past and now, I feel love is a resting place as I embrace the blessings of this present moment. It's amazing to me how one song can bring the past and present together!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Trials and Triumphs

Life can be hard . . . no question about it. Just about everyone I know has something difficult to deal with. That's what life is. Whenever I am flying high it is inevitable that I will be shot down.

Looking back over my life I realize that this is common. I also realize that I'm still here, still alive, and still doing well. I also look around and notice that there are things happening in this world that appear tragic and senseless. So why bother to keep going?

Well, there is so much joy in my life, in spite of the hardships. I have amazing, talented, compassionate, and brilliant children and grandchildren. I have dear friends. I live in relative comfort and have plenty of food and water. In other words . . . regardless of the trials in my life I am a survivor. I have a network of support.

I guess the lesson I've hopefully finally learned is this . . . everything in my life is for my benefit. I am stronger because of what I have experienced. More importantly, I am more compassionate and understanding. I would not trade any of my challenges if it meant that I had to give up any part of who I have become because of them. In spite of my trials, or perhaps because of them . . . I like myself . . . and that is a triumph!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Aaargh!

I'm sitting here wishing I could think of something clever and witty to share and my mind is blank. Well, not really blank since I have what seems like 1000s of thoughts swirling around inside my head at any given time. I just can't settle on one thought that I want to disect and discuss. So . . . I guess I won't. Maybe later.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Do Over vs. Start Over

I'm sitting here putting off writing another paper. I know it is due tomorrow and I know how precise and exacting this instructor is about form and format. Still, I sit and stall. I will do just about anything rather than focus on what I should be doing. (Even blog!) That's what has caused the thought for today . . . Do Over vs. Start Over.

In 2008 I decided to go back to school to finally finish my college degree. This is something I started nearly 40 years ago. I wish I had just focused then and got it done when I had the chance . . . but I can't go back and do it over . . . so I started over. In some ways it is easier now than it was back then. But in many ways it is much harder.

I do know I am in school now because I want to be . . . not because I didn't know what else to do. I also know I am enjoying the environment as I find myself surrounded by interesting and intelligent adults with a variety of life experiences. This makes the process easier. However, I have kids and a full-time job to keep me busy, not to mention the fact that I don't have the energy to pull all-nighters like I did when I was younger. Still, I stall.

I have been feeling nostalgic these past few weeks looking back over my life and wishing I could go back and do several things over. How differently I would do them knowing what I now know. I would have worked much harder to stay healthy and fit. I would have been more present in every moment with my children. I would have hugged more and harangued less. But, I can't go back and do it over . . . I can only start fresh each day.

So, I guess I'll get busy with writing that paper and tomorrow will be another day to start over. If I view each day as a chance to begin with a clean slate, then perhaps I won't need to waste time on wishing for a do over!

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Reunions and Realizations

I am heading up to Idaho today to pick up my 17 year old son, Tim. He has been spending time on my sister's ranch. This is the seventh year my younger kids have spent the summers away from home. I relish the time alone and really enjoy the quiet, solitude, and the fact that when I come home from work the house is as clean as when I left. I would tell people that I couldn't wait until they were all grown and gone and I had the house to myself.

Don't get me wrong . . . I LOVE my children. All 10 of them. But I have had kids at home calling me mom for over 33 years . . . and for more than 10 of those years I have had to play the role of both mother and father without much of a break. So, I look forward to my "vacations" from mothering. I want to explain.

It's not the fact that a mom's job is 24/7 that causes me to crave some alone time so much as the constant parade of everyone else's children that wears me out. I'm one of the only single mothers in my children's circle of friends, yet I come home from work most days to find anywhere from 2-10 extra children swarming around my house, eating the food, and leaving a mess. I used to dream of having a home where my children wanted to bring their friends. It's just that in my dreams, everyone was neat, tidy, and considerate. Oh well, I guess dreams do come true in a distorted way.

However, during this last break I figured something out. When the last one leaves the nest, I will miss them. I will miss the daily adventure, the fun, the conversation, the insights, the chaos, and yes, I will even miss the irritations. It has taken me a while to really figure this out. Friends told me this would happen. Just call me a slow learner.

I now know that sometimes the things we miss the most are the things that used to irritate us . . . all of the quirks and foibles of our very human loved ones. I just hope that in the coming days and weeks when I am feeling most frustrated over the fact that what I had planned for dinner has already been devoured by the hungry hoardes that I might remember my profound realization. I really do want to enjoy EVERY moment with my children. They are all amazing . . . all of the time!

Friday, July 16, 2010

GULP!!!!

Writing this blog is likely to be a cathartic experience for me . . . sort of like spilling my innermost soul to a "blog" therapist. However, at a friends request, I posted this blog site so that others now know what I am doing. Frightening! I don't know that anyone will bother reading it, but I still feel vulnerable. I know, you are probably thinking to yourselves "what did she think would happen when she decided to expose her life on a public forum?" Oh well, I guess at this stage of my life I don't have much to hide. Another good friend once told me he thought I had a book in me . . . so perhaps this is just the beginning of that book. Again, I can't wait to see what I write about. I do know that I have been there, done that, and got that t-shirt so again, the title of this blog is VERY appropriate!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Cliches . . . Some days are diamond . . . and then there's this week!

I realize that it's easy to feel open and alive when everything is going well. Staying present and enjoying life from that place is a cake walk! However, when a wrench gets thrown into the works, I am amazed at how quickly I sink into hopelessness. Yet my experience has shown me time and again that life just moves in a series of ups and downs. In fact, I don't know that I would appreciate the highs so much if I had not experienced the lows. All of this seems so cliche! I mean, what am I saying here that everyone doesn't know already? Perhaps the point of all of it is simply this . . . life . . . it is what it is . . . nothing more, nothing less. Sounds like the making of a good song. Oh WAIT! It's already been sung by 'Ole Blue Eyes himself. So I pick myself up . . . again . . . and see what the next moment has in store for me. The only thing I know is that when all is said and done I will be fine. In fact, I will be perfect . . . just as I am.

Monday, July 12, 2010

What does this have to do with anything?

Blogging is a new experience for me. It may take me some time to figure it all out. It may also take me some time to get this page looking more like me and less like the template I used. After all, my life has not followed a template . . . thus, the title of this blog. I chose the title, not to disparage the most wonderful book Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert, but more to represent my life. I related to Gilbert . . . it was as though she was writing about the things I have thought and felt. But in the end, I notice I am still very much who I've always been. The basic personality has not changed yet somehow I am different. My life continues to be an adventure in facing the unknown . . . but now I am less resistent. I have quit trying to control the outcome . . . especially since I realized I was never in control. So I will blog as a way to sort through everything I have experienced. Perhaps along the way I will come to appreciate the way I have done every part of my life. No regrets!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

For starters . . .

Tonight I was sitting around wondering what I could do with my life that would be different, mean something, perhaps even change the world. I couldn't come up with anything so I decided to blog. There you have it. Nothing profound, just me talking about my life and what I've learned or wish I'd learned. I can't wait to see what I have to say . . .