I’m here

These are the things that make everything worth it.

Hello dear reader.

I made it. I’m here with my daughter and son-in-law. Hugging her is one of the best feelings in the world.

Louissa is one of my very best friends. I don’t know if that’s common with a mother and daughter, but I feel extremely blessed to have that relationship with her.

I wrote a post the other day about how friends can become family. I think that happens more often than family becoming friends does. That’s been my experience at least.

I write a lot about how hard it is to deal with chronic pain. I think it’s even more important for me to write about how thankful I feel right now. These are the things that make everything worth it.

Until next time…

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Home and Family (part 2)

The thing is, family isn’t necessarily about the people you’re related to.

Hello dear reader.

I left you hanging with part 1, and I apologise for that. Life sometimes gets in the way of our best intentions. But here we are, better late than never.

In part 1 I talked about moving across the country and being stuck somewhere I didn’t belong for almost 30 years. I finally found my home in the Rocky mountains of Colorado. Now let’s finish the story.

As I said, I didn’t know anyone when I moved here. I got a job in the General Store/Post Office in the village of Twin Lakes, which has a year-round population of about 25. There are a lot of people who have summer homes there and tons of tourists in the summer. But winter is very quiet. It’s like living in a big family. So obviously I became close to my fellow villagers. I was married when I moved there and had my two youngest children with me.

During the summer I worked in front of a big picture window with an incredible view and met people from all over the world. It was paradise!

Things weren’t going well at all with my marriage. We decided to find a church to start going to, hoping that would help. So Sunday morning we headed to town, found the steeple and went in. We quickly discovered it wasn’t the church we had intended to go to, but it was a wonderful mistake. Coming to St. George’s was like coming to the mountains. It was where I belonged. My husband didn’t like it and stopped going, but I’ve been a part of it ever since the first time I walked through the door. Within two years of moving to Colorado, the marriage ended and he moved away. By that time I had a family in the village and a family in St. George’s. I wasn’t going anywhere.

The thing is, family isn’t necessarily about the people you’re related to. Family is about the people in your life that are there for you, the people you can count on. Family, in my opinion, are people who really know you and accept your for who you are. They’re the ones who take the time to look past the “I’m fine,” and see what’s really going on with you. Family is the people you know will love you no matter what, even if they don’t agree with you.

This is one of my sisters that I’m not related to at all making a toast at my wedding:

She has been with me through thick and thin. I’ve tried hard to always be there for her as well. We tell each other the truth even when it’s hard. I love her so much!

Family is something you choose, as well as something you’re born into, and home is where family is.

What does family mean to you?

Until next time…

State of mind

I have much to be thankful for. Sometimes I just have to look harder to see past the hard stuff.

Hello dear reader

People say that happiness is a choice. I agree with that only to a point. You can choose whether to focus on the positive things in your life rather than on the negative. That I agree with.

However, there are several reasons why someone can’t be “happy” no matter how hard they try to focus on the positive. Depression can be situational, but is often a chemical problem. When someone is suffering from depression, telling them that happiness is a choice can actually make things worse…much worse.

Depression is a deep dark hole that gets smaller and more confining every day. It robs you of energy and smothers any ray of hope and/or happiness. Guilt weighs on you because you’re depressed, which makes you feelmoredepressed.

Can you imagine feeling that way and then being told that it’s your choice? Or being told to “just cheer up?” Do you think that would help your state of mind? I can promise you that it would have the opposite effect.

So I wrote about depression yesterday. Why am I still going on about it? I don’t really know, it feels important.

Moving on…. tomorrow is my oldest daughter’s birthday. She’s almost to the end of her 20’s. I am constantly amazed at how quickly life goes by. I’m also amazed at how fortunate I feel to be her mother. I loved being “Mommy” when she was little, and I love being “Mom” now that she’s grown. Our relationship is very different now, of course. I’m no longer the person who knows everything, can see through walls AND the back of my head, and always knows when she’s having a bad day. I can no longer solve any problem from a skinned knee to a broken heart with a kiss and/or a cheesecake tart. But I can listen when she needs someone to. I can laugh and/or cry with her. I can give her tips on anything from a roast to a relationship. I can (and do) know that she may or may not follow my advice. She’s a grown woman who can think for herself and make her own decisions. I am so proud of that. I’m thrilled that she asks my advice, whether she takes it or not. In some ways it’s harder to be “Mom” than it was to be “Mommy” because I still want to protect her from the world. I still want to fix anything that hurts. But being “Mom” is wonderful too. I can be her friend now, and she’s a great friend to have. You can’t be a child’s friend and protect them. There are too many times the word “No” has to be said.

I know. I’m ranting again. But these are the things that keep depression from winning. These are the positive things that I try to focus on. I have a great life….a truly amazing husband, great friends, and some great kids (even the ones that aren’t really mine). I live in the most beautiful place there is. I have much to be thankful for. Sometimes I just have to look harder to see past the hard stuff. Sometimes the hard stuff is just too big to see past.

Until next time….

Hot Coals

Hello dear reader.

My last couple of posts have been a bit different from what I usually write about, but they’ve been things I’m very passionate about…domestic violence and giving children a voice when they need one.  Today, however, will be a little calmer.  I promise.

I found a quote the other day that really stuck with me.

“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else. You are the one who gets burned”
Buddha

I’ve believed for a long time now that holding on to anger and refusing to forgive, gives the person who wronged you power over you. It hurts you, not them. Buddha just says it better. No matter how it’s said, it’s a truth that a lot of people never grasp.

When I was a child, I wanted more than anything to be grown so my abusive mother and step-father would no longer have control over me. When I was 15, I simply could not deal with it any longer. I was literally losing my mind. So I left. The police found me after a week or so. They gave me a choice between going to Juvie or going home. I thought about it and decided, better the devil you know……right? So I went back. Nothing got better. Things actually got worse. So when I left again a few months later, I had a plan. The plan worked. Instead of sending the police after me, they told me that they would call the police on me if I showed up there. I was free! At least, I thought I was.

Many years went by while I hung on to hurt, anger, hatred, and guilt. Why guilt? Because I had left my four siblings in that hell hole. When I left, I planned to get them out as soon as I could. But I was living in an abandoned car out in a field. In Louisiana. In the summer. I knew I couldn’t take custody of them while I was living like that. It was four years later by the time I had a home of my own, not staying at someone else’s house, and a steady job. By then…..anyway, that’s where the guilt came from.

I went from bad relationship to bad relationship to worse relationship. I was angry, depressed, and felt like a victim. But I didn’t have a clue how to change things. I had gotten away. But I wasn’t FREE. My life still felt the same. I changed geography and who was abusing me, but other than that it was the same life. I’d reach a point where I simply could not deal with it any longer and I’d run, over and over again.

The first time I tried to commit suicide I was 10 years old. I knew that it was dangerous to take more Tylenol than it said to on the bottle, so I swallowed an entire bottle of Tylenol before I went to bed. I completely expected to die during the night. Boy was I mad when I woke up in the morning! That was the first of many attempts throughout my life. I simply could not deal with my life any longer and I tried to run.

It’s a funny thing about running. No matter how fast or how far you run, you are still there with all the pain and anger you try to escape. It took me more than 40 years to figure that out. But I still didn’t know how to change it. I couldn’t erase all that had happened to me. I had tried to forget, but that never worked. I had to let go of it. I didn’t know how to do that.

When I had my first surgery for the Chiari, I truly didn’t know if I would survive the surgery. I wasn’t scared of dying, but if I was going to, I needed to do it with a clean slate. I had to forgive so that I could be forgiven. It wasn’t about letting them off the hook, or in any way condoning what had been done. It was about me being able to die with a clear conscience. So I started calling people…my mother, my ex-husband….people who had hurt me the worst. I called and told them that I was sorry. I was sorry that I hadn’t been a better daughter. I was sorry that I hadn’t been a better wife. I was sorry that I hadn’t been a better person, a better sibling, friend, mother….so many things.

I was shocked at what happened. My pain and anger toward people went away as I apologized for my failures in the relationship. I was able to let go of my hurt. With every person I talked to, a little bit of light shined into places in my heart that had never been anything but dark. It was incredible! They didn’t have any more power over me. What they had done to me no longer controlled my life.

Let me be very clear about one thing here. Forgiving does not mean forgetting. I would never leave my daughters alone with my parents because I knew what could happen. I let go of the pain they had caused me. I didn’t become stupid. What I did was for me, not for them.

I did survive the surgery….obviously. But I had my clean conscious. My past no longer ruled my future. I’ve worked hard every day since then to try to be more forgiving. The things that happened to me are still a part of my life, but now I try to use them for good. I work with children who have been abused or neglected. I work with victims of domestic violence. I am very passionate about those things. But I am no longer a victim. I am a survivor.

That hot coal did a lot of damage to me while I tried to throw it. I still burn my fingertips from time to time when I reach to pick it back up. But now I’ve learned to drop it.

I truly hope that I (and Buddha) have given you something to think about today. Put something in comments at the bottom of this page and let me know. You are welcome to share as much or as little as you’d like. Please feel free to pass this on. It’s truly life changing.

Until next time…

Morning coffee

Good morning dear reader.

Every morning Tim & I sit in bed and drink coffee together.  We’ve done it ever since the first night we spent together.  Now that he leaves at 6:00 every morning, we get up at 4:00 so we have time to do it.  It’s a wonderful practice.  It gives us a chance to connect before the busyness of the day pulls us in different directions.  Even the dogs get in on it, climbing onto the bed with us. 

We’re doing pre-marital counseling (only 3 more weeks until the wedding!) and learning tools to have a stronger, happier marriage.  It’s actually a lot of fun.  What has struck me the most about it is how many of the things they recommend that we already do and have been doing.  While they  don’t specifically say, “morning coffee time” it is something that fits very well into the things they do encourage couples to do.

This morning I started thinking about how many simple things we do that make our relationship stronger and happier.  I don’t know if any of them will apply to any of you, but I’m going to tell you about them anyway.

Communication

I believe this is vital.  We eat dinner at the table (away from the TV) two or three times a week.  Other times we eat in the living room watching the news.  That keeps the table dinners from becoming a chore.  It’s always a little bit special when we do it.  When we reconnect at the end of the day, we take the time to talk about how our day has gone…both of us.  I listen (and sometimes comment) as he tells me about his day, and he does the same for me.  While we’re apart during the day we touch base once or twice.  It may just be a text that says “I love you” or “Hope your day is going well.”  It’s more about letting each other know we’re thinking about them than what we say. 

What we say and how we say it

Let me start this part by making it  clear that there are always times when things are misread or misunderstood.  Here’s a perfect example:  We had a meeting scheduled with Ali for the pre-marital counseling Friday morning.  I was on the phone with someone I hadn’t talked to in years.  Tim was in the yard with his best friend trying to get Duke and his dog to get along so we could dog-sit for him.  I looked at the clock after I hung up the phone and realized we were supposed to be there in 15 minutes and I was still in my bathrobe.  I hurried down the stairs and to the yard and said, “Do you realize we’re supposed to meet Ali  in 15 minutes?”  Tim’s response was, “And you’re in your bathrobe.”  Long story short, we ended up running about 10 minutes behind which worked out perfectly because so was she.  Yesterday we were sitting on the couch together and Tim said he wanted to talk to me about something.  He said that when I did that Friday morning he felt scolded and embarrassed because he was out there with his best friend and I had been so “harsh” about him forgetting.  I had not even thought about it that way.  I wasn’t upset with him for forgetting, I was upset with myself for forgetting.  I was also feeling very rushed and a little bit stressed because of it.  I’m one of those people who are anal about being on time.  I’m normally at an appointment 10 minutes before I’m supposed to be there.  So you see what happened there?  A total misunderstanding.   Things like that happen to everyone.  Nobody reads things correctly all the time, and nobody says things the right way all the time.

That being said, everyone has a need to be loved, appreciated, admired, etc.  So saying things like “I appreciate you” or “You look nice today”…things like that, can make a relationship much happier.  Think about it.   If you hear things like, “Why in the hell did you do that?” or “You really need to do something about your hair” or “This food sucks” etc., how much are you going to look forward to communicating with that person?  Hearing positive things from someone makes you draw closer to them and want to talk with them.  Of course, nobody does everything right or always looks wonderful.  It’s a matter of choosing to focus on the positive.  Sometimes you have to look hard to find it, but when you do it should be expressed.

An important aspect of how we talk is simple courtesy.  I’ve heard many couples talk to each other in ways they wouldn’t talk to anyone else.  I remember a friend of ours who was amazed that we said “please” and “thank you” to each other.  Think about it.  This is someone you love.  Don’t they deserve at least as much courtesy as you’d give a stranger who was asking for directions? 

Wow!  I really took off with this!  I’ve hardly scratched the surface, but I think it’s probably enough for now.  Seriously, think about these things.  The difference they can make is incredible.  Or…say to yourself that Lynnette is full of crap and forget about it.   Definitely your choice.  Just because these things work for me doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll work for you.

As always, I’d love to hear your thoughts about it.  Simply hit the comment button below and let it rip.

Until next time…