How ‘bittersweet’ it is…

My aunt and uncle moved back to Ohio last Tuesday, after living near Washington D.C (in Leesburg, Virginia) for the past 8 years.

And I’ve been so excited, that I’ve repeated myself for months.  Honestly, it was NEW to me every time it came out of my mouth. Didn’t realize I was repeating…

KATE IS COMING…

Kate is coming soon.

Kate is coming next month. Next week.

Then finally.

Today! Kate will be here today!!!

My children said it was like a child telling everybody Santa Claus is coming. And really, it HAS felt a bit like Christmas. Especially since Kate arrived. My wonderful uncle, too. It is a HUGE gift for our family.

And yet, we’re sad. Wrung out.

One of Kate’s dearest friends (A close family friend to all of us) lost her 24-year-old son last week. He passed away unexpectedly. And my aunt and uncle got word on Tuesday, while they were driving their cars back to Cleveland.

Which made last week bittersweet.

Aunt, Uncle, Cousins, Daughter and I gathered around the kitchen at the New House several nights ago. Had dinner. (And cupcakes…) But our hearts were heavy.

As a family, we’re heartbroken for those parents. We know ‘these things’ happen. But they aren’t supposed to. And certainly NOT to a family such as THAT one. Happily married a million years, dedicated, loving parents and partners. The best. And yet, they are without their beloved son. Left with only memories.

Losing a child isn’t the natural order of things. It isn’t something any parent imagines—or cares to imagine.

So I’ve spent the past week sick to my stomach one minute. Thrilled to have Aunt Kate nearby the next.

The movers arrived at the New House on Saturday morning. Five days after they packed the last box in Virginia, which is typical for a move from one state to another. They unloaded the truck, set up beds and placed furniture and boxes in the New House under my uncle and cousin’s direction.

And while they did so, Aunt Kate and I attended a funeral mass. Followed by a service at the cemetery where a young man was laid to rest. Far too soon.

We watched two parents cling to each other. When one faltered, the other supported…with words, a hand gently rubbing a back, an arm wrapped protectively around a shoulder. They comforted one another. Their bond was obvious and true. Always has been in the nearly 20 years I’ve known them.

They carried themselves with more dignity, courage and grace than most could muster under similar circumstances.

And so my family begins this week intact. Overjoyed to be living near each other again. We can gather for dinner, to watch The Olympic Games, take a walk in the woods. Simple things.

But another family is left with a gaping hole. And that type of loss isn’t something that is ‘gotten over.’ More something people learn to live with. They were (and are) a close and loving family. A family who spent time together, appreciated the moments.

The words “You never know…” roll off the tongue easily. Everybody says them. Everybody has heard them over and over.

But we don’t often stop to think of their meaning. How uncertain life is. We take this precious thing called ‘time’ for granted. Or waste ‘moments’ being angry, bitter, unhappy or dissatisfied. Instead of choosing to be happy, or grateful.

Certainly, I cannot make sense of this past weekend–though I have tried.

I know there is nothing I can do. Nothing anybody can do to. But I’ll make a special effort to support our grieving friends. To be kind and thoughtful.

And I’ll embrace having my aunt and uncle living just 10 minutes away again. I’ll continue to enjoy and appreciate my children—and other favorite people. As long as I am lucky enough to spend time with them.

Which is just what I did last night.

Because I COULD.

I gathered in my family room with some of my favorite people in the world. (The dogs, too.) And we watched The Olympic Games. I got teased. Some laughed until they cried…

And I felt very, very lucky.

Aurora, Colorado

This morning, I woke to a very, very sad story on the news.

Once again, families will never be the same…

Right now, the facts aren’t in. The investigation is far from complete. Nobody can confirm how many were injured, passed away or how they died. We don’t know the back story of the killer, his circumstances, how he got the weapons or what drove him to murder.

We haven’t heard from grieving families. Cannot put faces to those killed. There are no photos rolling across TV screens. Not yet. But that will come.

And when it does, it will reach into our hearts. We’ll not be able to express the depth of our sadness. There will be no words…

The Blame Game…

In the search for answers, there is always blame. People blame violence in movies, television and video games. Or on religion. Either lack of religious beliefs. Or a ‘wrong’ belief system. Then there’s the economy with its ebbs and flows. Lack of jobs, financial constraints that create desperation. Or the cost of education—making school systems inadequate, college out of reach.

Blaming is a way to identify the ‘problem.’ Which often helps people to assure themselves that  ‘these things’ can’t happen to them. That they are safe.

The Bottom Line… (Some will like me for this. Some will hate me.)

Whenever I see tragedy or young people acting out—I cannot help but wonder at my generation’s parenting skills. Fact is, we seem to be raising some angry children.

Generations before us made plenty of mistakes when raising their children. And I’m quite sure I’ve made, will make or am making my share of mistakes in raising my own children.

But I’m thinking it comes down to stability. Many children these days don’t have it. They run back and forth between houses and families—never quite being ‘part’ of anything. Never quite having a home base.  Something solid. Their parents have significant others who are in and out of their lives. Which isn’t right or wrong. I get that.

I also understand the economics of it all. I am a divorced, single parent. It is simple mathematics. You cannot take ONE family income, divide it in two. Then provide for two separate households—and STILL provide for the children to the same standard as if two people remained together. And I guarantee that we parents cannot give our children as much of our time. We are simply pulled in too many directions.

So when events such as Aurora, Colorado come across the television. I’m thinking;

Where are we parents going wrong? What are we failing to give our children that they are capable of such monstrous actions? That we are raising such an angry generation of young people? What can we do better?

Because we need to do better. No doubt about it. And I include myself in that. Because I’m PART of raising another generation.

Our children ARE a reflection of us. If they are angry, sad, depressed, bitter, confused, needy—we are part of that.  Have helped create it. We are responsible for who/what our children become. Be it good. Bad. Or somewhere in between. They mirror us. They are our reflection.

Back to Colorado…

In the coming days, the facts will come out. And from my experience, people are generally good. They want to reach out, to help others, to comfort others. And so tragedy will pull another community together. No doubt, we’ll see the best of humanity. Which is a good thing.

It’s just a shame that it will have been born of another heartbreaking event.

Mr. Grey & Miss Steele ~ The Halfway Point

I stopped reading at the end of Chapter 16 late last night. When I start again, it’ll be with Chapter 17 and page 290.

Which is just a little past the halfway point. Not yet sure what to make of the book, but there have been some ideas, questions, thoughts on my mind…

Is chemistry essential for a successful relationship? What IS chemistry?

Chemistry often defies definition. Sometimes we want it to be there, try desperately to feel it even. And it’s not. Then when we aren’t expecting it—don’t even want it present. It is there. And it cannot be faked or forced.

We can all think of examples of couples who seem to ‘fit.’ And couples who don’t. It’s true that we never know what goes on behind closed doors, but I have long thought that couples who don’t ‘fit’ and yet hang in there (unhappily) are perhaps trying to push the square peg into the round hole—instead of cutting their losses and finding the square hole. It is often easier to stick with what we know, even when it doesn’t work—than to move on, not knowing what the future holds.

I’m 41. I’ve been through a divorce. A brief relationship during/after the divorce. Dating as a teenager. And dating as an adult. What I’ve learned? I’ve got a lot to learn. I’m quite sure of that!

But I do know that chemistry is essential for me. I’m not willing to be in a relationship without it. What is the point? I may not be able to define it, but I know if it is there. If we are honest, it is either THERE or it is NOT.  Life is difficult enough and relationships aren’t always easy (or Perfect). And so personally, I’m not willing to do battle to find affection/chemistry for somebody. When the right chemistry is there, everything else tends to fall into place.

Human Nature…

I see the human sides of Mr. Grey and Miss Steele. I don’t hate either of them (yet), nor do I think badly of them.

So Mr. Grey uses sex as a form of control—or tries to. I’m not even sure I can say he manipulates (yet) because he is completely straightforward. And thus far has exerted his control in a fair (and even kind) fashion, without malice.

Honestly, nothing in the book so far is ANY different from the thousands of ‘bodice rippers’ that many women read every day.

The difference? There is the negotiation of sexual acts considered outside the range of ‘normal.’ Or the hint of them. So far, there’s been a spanking. (And the ‘bodice rippers’ sometimes have that, especially the historical romances set back hundreds of years ago…)

How many of us use control to get what we want?

There are MANY ways to control others. How many people use money? Or social position? Or dangle a job? Or use the kids? Or make threats? Which leads me to a big question that’s been on my mind while reading…

What type of control is the most damaging?

I find myself questioning whether emotional manipulation is worse than physical? Is it worse to chip away at another’s self esteem and self-worth with words? To use words to gain control and take advantage of another? Can words cut deeper than a slap on the behind? What about those who withhold affection, sex, tenderness? Is that equally as damaging to the spirit? Because it is certainly a means of exerting control.

I can’t help but wonder if ANYBODY who places conditions on a relationship is doing the same as Mr Grey? Just using different methods. And maybe to a different degree? Is there an unidentified (and unspoken) Dominant and Submissive in many relationships? Is the ‘game’ the same, but with different currency required for approval? Is it worse, more damaging when it isn’t spelled out?

The whole, “I’ll love you if___________.” Fill in the blank.

If you’re thin enough. If you act a certain way. If you do what I want you to do. If you marry me, buy me the house I want, make enough money, do as I say….

Taken several steps farther, there are those who place conditions on all of their relationships. With their friends, parents, children. It is just their way. I have known a few in my life. And though I don’t think they are ‘bad’ people, or even wrong. I do tend to keep my distance, because that personality isn’t one that I am overly compatible with.

My last thoughts…

I notice that they call each other Mr. Grey and Miss Steele during conversations and the more mundane activities such as dinner, graduation, etc. It is during the intimate moments and when they drop their guards that they use Christian and Anastasia.

Another thing I’ve noticed is that Mr. Grey is pressing for his paperwork and agreements, trying put the relationship neatly into its little box—with labels and rules. And Miss Steele is supposed to be the innocent victim. Yet, she seems to hold her own, thus far. She seems to turn the tables on Mr. Grey. Meaning she has her own power—and instinctively knows when/how to use it.

There you have it. An accounting of thoughts/ideas that have bounced around in my brain while reading…

Note to Cheryl Sadler: Get a copy. (Don’t wait for the library copy.) This might merit a ‘discussion’ at a local winery soon. Could be fun, right?

Thank you Kym McVicker-Brewster for making me think this morning…

Before I logged onto the computer, my brain was empty of ANY profound thoughts.

I was lounging outside, soaking up this gorgeous day, watching my dogs roll around in the grass and play with each other.

Then I decided to check my emails, my blog, my eBay store and Facebook. Just to make sure there wasn’t anything that needed my attention.

Which was when I came across your status:

As I look at the person staring back at me from my mirror, I wonder; for all the things that have been accomplished, for all the hardships that have been risen above, for all the joy and happiness brought to others, for all the good that has been done and for all the compassion and empathy shown to others, am I only as good as, and should my entire character be judged and defined by the WORST thing I have ever done?      ~Kym McVicker-Brewster

Hmmmm….

A little deep for a Saturday morning.

And just as I was going to drag a brush through my hair, apply lip gloss and run a few errands. Walk my dogs. Then maybe a have a little afternoon nap before meeting up with a friend later tonight.

NOW I am thinking.

Worse yet, I am thinking about the WORST of me. (Never pretty when any of us do that!) And whether the dumbest, WORST things I have done cancel out the many GOOD things I have done?

Certainly, I wish that I had not dropped the F-bomb outside of the church with ‘Father’ standing 10 feet behind me. Not a shining moment for me.

Here’s the link for those who want the full (humiliating) story:

http://playingwithperfect.com/2011/08/03/one-of-my-most-shameful-moments/

And by the way, Kym noted that this thought was not specifically related to anything in her life. Just a thought. Or a ‘rhetorical’ question. And it isn’t specifically related to anything in my life either.

But it did get my juices flowing. Got me thinking…

God help us all when I do that.

We are all unique. A mix of good, bad, quirky, stupid, brilliant, well-intentioned (if poorly executed) plans. We have our stellar qualities. And the qualities that we (and sometimes others) could do without. We all face challenges, succeed, fail miserably…and make plenty of mistakes.

Because nobody is Perfect, it is probably easier if we toss away the yardsticks. Both for measuring ourselves and others.

In that vein, I am off to get a donut and a Diet Coke. I’ll be skipping the errands for now, in favor of spending some time outdoors…(with my dogs, daughter, Diet Coke and donut)

Having gotten off track, why get ON TRACK now?

 

Random Ramblings…

I’ve decided to share six thoughts from the past week. I’ll stop at six, to spare you. There is always more where these six came from…

1.) My son has gotten very good at tossing ‘the dart.’

Either that or I make it far too easy?

I circle. Mentally and physically. Have been told it is like watching a dog chase its tail.

Me: The dogs are circling around me!

Son: They learned from the best. (Deadpan)

Okay. A few points to my Son.

2.) Better to skip the Psychic Fair.

For the curiosity factor, I wanted to go to a Psychic Fair at a local coffee shop this week.

But why take the chance? What if he/she did my reading, then gave me directions to the nearest bridge? And recommended a ‘Thelma and Louise?’

Like…find the nearest bridge or cliff—and hit the gas pedal.

3.) I’ve never had to wonder where I came from.

Aunt Kate went to the doctor recently. A foremost Specialist in the country, or a ‘Specialist’ aomong specialists.

She lives in Virginia, hikes her dog outside each day and ended up with Lyme disease. Then was on antibiotics for several months. Hence the doctor’s appointment. To make sure all was well.

Mr. Specialist took her temperature—used a regular, mercury thermometer. And her temperature was just fine.

Except she had gum in her mouth. When Mr. Specialist pulled the thermometer out, there was this long (getting longer) string of gum. She tried to pull it back to her mouth. And Mr. Specialist tried to untangle the gum from his thermometer. Disaster.

Uncle Joe sat nearby, mouth open…to stunned to speak.

End result of the appointment.

Mr. Specialist: You are fine. No need to come back.

Aunt Kate was thinking, “I bet he doesn’t want to see me back here.”

Because ‘these things’ still happen to her regularly, I’m not hopeful ‘these things’ will EVER stop happening to me.

Just yesterday, I picked up a pair of jeans at my cousin’s house. Then drove away. Darling Daughter’s phone rang two minutes later.

Cousin: Forget something?

Darling Daughter: Mom…forget something?

I went down the list out loud…

Me: Got my keys. (I was driving the car.) My phone is right there. (In the console.)

Darling Daughter: What about your purse?

Me: Sh$%!!!

We circled around the block and picked up my purse.

My daughter can run, but she cannot hide. I’m 41. Aunt Kate is 58.

Just this morning, Daughter filled out her summer soccer form—so she ‘didn’t forget.’

But when I pulled into the driveway after dropping both children off at school, the soccer form was STILL in the backseat. Perfectly filled out.

If a little mangled. The dogs trampled all over it on the ride home.

Daughter is 17 ½. Still young. And I’d LIKE to be hopeful, but I’m realistic. The best she can do is develop her sense of humor. And marry somebody very patient.

4.) Sheetz.

I’ve always been a people watcher. Picked up on nuances, things others miss. Not to be mean, or to poke fun. (I know my fellow people watchers get quite ‘the show’ in watching me…) It’s more about understanding others.

And so the Sheetz around the corner is a playground for me. We made a quick stop there for my son this morning.

As I waited in the car, a group of men shuffled in. Their jeans had these little ‘circles’ in them. I’d never seen this, before moving to this semi-rural city. Was nearly 40, before I realized that these meant a person ‘Chewed.’ The little ‘circles’ were small tins of Chewing Tobacco.

Which doesn’t make much sense to me. Why not just smoke a cigarette? Tobacco is tobacco, right? Does it really matter how it enters the bloodstream?

Although smoking has slowly become an ‘outside’ activity. And one can ‘Chew’ anywhere—even in church. Score ONE for Chew.

Depends on whether one values their lungs or their mouth, I suppose…

5.) We all have vices.

Which is why I’ll NEVER toss stones at others for using tobacco.

I happen to love sugar, in the form of cake, cookies and other desserts. I am also semi-addicted to Diet Coke. (I have quit many times, but always end up going back…)

I might value my lungs and mouth, but what about my blood sugar? My toes and feet?

Nope. You won’t find me out there casting the ‘first stone.’ Nor will I sit in judgment of others. But I will ‘people’ watch.

6.) Wealth. (Or lack thereof…)

If we are honest, the roller coaster of wealth has its ups and downs for all of us during the course of a lifetime. And it is often tied to how we choose to live our lives. Our priorities. My roller coaster hasn’t been up many hills lately. I pondered this while driving in the car with my children yesterday.

Me: It’s funny. But I don’t feel poor…

Darling Daughter: I feel a little poor sometimes. But I’m NOT unhappy. I’m actually very happy.

Me: Maybe that’s it. I’m happy.

Pause…

Me: Hmmm…maybe because I’ve always been lucky enough to have such a wonderful circle of friends, family, you children…Without that, I might feel poor.

Darling Daughter: Let’s NOT go getting all philosophical now…

And so I didn’t.

But it didn’t stop the topic from circling around in my head while we drove.

My thoughts reminded me of a favorite Oprah Winfrey quote:

“Everyone wants to ride with you in the limo, but what you need is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.”

So, there is an upside to my current situation.

Anybody who is willing to ride in the Trusty Honda with me is a ‘keeper.’ That includes friends, family, children, and/or a Special Somebody.

Even though the Trusty Honda stops at Sheetz for Diet Coke and donuts. It often circles back to pick up things forgotten. It is full of dog hair and sand from the beach. And it may (or may not) break down.

Yet, I (mostly) enjoy the ride each day.

Probably because I developed MY sense of humor long ago…