Category Archives: Family

Nothing beats the love and support of a good partner.

It is Sunday, September 30th and I am writing this at Governor Dodge State Park campsite 349 in our dark green 1999 Dodge Ram conversion van. I backed up the van to the electrical hookup just like a huge RV instead of this little van and pushed the cord to my lap top out the little pop out window. The back bench seat folds down to create a bed big enough for Mike and I to lay side by side. I am lying here on top of the sleeping bags which are zipped together to create a sleeping bag for two, typing. I am not really comfortable but not uncomfortable either. I’m alone expect for the dogs. One dog, Angie is on the floor by the bed sprawled on her pet bed. Dean-o, the other dog, is up here with me. It was a trip getting here I’ll say that, deciding whether to come here or not. First it was yes, then no, then yes again.

A few days earlier.

The Love and Support of a Good Partner

the support of a good partner“Mike I want to drive up to Governor Dodge and hike. The fall colors are so beautiful. I can leave Sunday. Spend the night and come back Monday. That will give me two days of hiking. What do you think?”

“I think that would be great.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah.”

Of course he thinks it would be great. He knows I love to hike. He knows I love Governor Dodge. He knows I am enthralled with the fall colors this year. And most importantly, he wants me to do what gives me joy. We could have come together. We could have left on Saturday and returned on Sunday because he would need to be back for work but since his health issues of arthritis and gout in his big toe he doesn’t enjoy hiking much anymore. Plus he’s not too big on driving even if it is only two hours. So I came up with this big bright idea all on my own for myself.

Saturday night, the night before I was to leave while lying next to Mike who was also reading, I set my book down and looked over at him. I realized I didn’t want to leave him. Yes, I love hiking and Governor Dodge but I don’t like leaving Mike.

“Mike, I’m not going,” I announced out of the blue.

“Why,” he asked turning to me placing his book spread open on his chest.

“Well, this book I’m reading is too scary. It’s about a woman who survives this rapist murderer and she helps get him sent to prison. He is getting out of prison and now he is going to be after her. It’s going to be one of those on-the-edge books where she is on step away from danger. I’m sure she will come out OK but the book is just too dark for me. And it’s scaring me now. Anyway, I don’t want to leave you.”

“You’re an independent woman. You can do this.” Mike picked up right away that the book wasn’t the real reason.

“Maybe, but it’s my choice not to leave you. So, you don’t have to think I’m not going because you are making me.”

“OK,” he said knowing full well it is of little use to argue with me.

With that I toss my book on the floor vowing silently to myself not to finish it and turn off my bedside light.

The next morning at around nine o’clock all of a sudden going to Governor Dodge didn’t seem like a bad idea. The sun was up and the scary thoughts and the sadness about leaving Mike have vanished with the night. After all I have to walk the dogs anyway and the fall colors are not going to be around much longer. All we need is one strong wind storm and they will all be knocked to the ground. What the heck I should go.

“Mike, I think. I’m going to go after all.”

“OK.” and with that he immediately sets out to get things ready for me. He remembered I wanted to take my hiking boots which were out in the shed. He got those and put them in the van. He got together the sleeping bags, a folding chair, flashlights, lighters and fire starters so I could start a fire. The day before when he thought it was a go, he went to the store and bought me some red grapes, pineapple, bananas and strawberries. Now that it’s on again he cut up the pineapple and strawberries, put them in containers along with the grapes and set them in the cooler he dragged out. He packed in some bottles of water.

“Do you want your salsa and chips,” he asked.

“Yeah,” I said not giving them a thought till he mentioned it.

“What about a Coke.” I looked at him quizzically wondering, should I?. I don’t drink soda at all but once a week we have a Coca Cola in little glass bottles made in Mexico with sugar instead of high fructose corn syrup. They are more expensive than regular Coke but worth it.

“Go ahead. Treat yourself.” I grinned.

“OK.”

I gathered together some clothes and put them in a backpack. I packed up my laptop and some books. Mike got the dogs food, their bowls and leashes. He put all this in the van. We were rushing around in a flurry to get me on my way. Within the hour I was draped over him in an embracing hug saying good-bye.

“I don’t like leaving you,” I said into his neck.

“You’ll be fine. You’ll be hiking,” he said squeezing me tighter.

As long as I thought I was just going for a hike it felt OK, but camping over night. I don’t know. We broke apart and looked each other in the eye.

“I could always come back after I hike,” I said with a sheepish grin. “Not even stay over night.”

“Just let me know so I can get my girlfriends out of the house,” he said. I punched him in the arm. “No, really, Janice, you’ll have a good time.”

“Well, you know I’ll be calling you.” I said as I got into the van.

So, I drove two hours to go hiking feeling apprehensive, selfish, guilty, silly. Many people do this kind of thing, I thought. They drive hours somewhere to do something they love to do. I don’t know why I should feel like I’m doing something so weird and crazy, so wrong.

About halfway there I smiled to myself thinking about the last-minute running around we both did just so I could go for a little trip out hiking in nature. How blessed I am. I am with a man who goes out of his way to help me get what I want out of life. I feel a fullness in my chest that spreads upward causing my scalp to tingle realizing what Mike did to help me get on my way. This is what a marriage, a partnership, is all about, isn’t it? Being a support, a catalyst for the other to ‘go for it’. Our marriage has had its ups but it is times like this that I understand how truly blessed I am. Nothing beats the love support of a good partner which colors my world as brightly as the fall colors.  My partner, my husband meets the seven qualities of an ideal partner that I found on Psychalive.    I just hope I do the same for him.  I hope I am an ideal partner for him.

And so I hiked for two days, four hours a day. I snapped pictures every step of the way. And, as it turned out, I had cell phone coverage even on the trails and called Mike often sharing little adventures with him. The first thing I did, after hugging Mike, was sit down and show him my pictures. I don’t know if they captured the beauty of what I was seeing. Being there and seeing the colors, inhaling the fall aroma and listening to the birds can’t be totally captured. I put a little slide show together adding some word values to a few of the pictures. Values that being on my hike, admiring the colors and having the support of Mike inspired. It took me quite awhile to put it together which is the reason for the lateness of the post. I hope you enjoy what I put together.

Graduation time is here

It’s graduation time: a time for coming of age. All across the United States there are people young and old attending a graduation ceremony for themselves or for a loved one. These graduation ceremonies can be from kindergarten all the way up to the graduate level of college. In fact a 97 year-old drop out received an honorary diploma from her high school this year.  However, which ever graduation a person is celebrating it signals a milestone in one’s life.

Graduation TimeWe celebrated PJ, our oldest grandson’s graduation from high school. The ceremony was held in the gymnasium. The day was hot with temps reaching near ninety but excitement was mounting as family and friends took their places in the bleacher seating anticipating the entrance of their loved ones. At last the graduates arrived wearing bright red robes with matching graduation caps. Their tassels properly placed on the left side jumped to and fro as they took their seats in orderly fashion.

I am sure many of us watching the graduating class of 2012 were thinking back to our  own graduations or lack there of. Reminisce with the graduating class of 1941.

I, however, did not graduate from high school, so watching the young adults receive their diplomas was bitter-sweet for me. I was never a teenager facing a future with options. I could only imagine the feelings these young people were experiencing. I could only imagine the excitement, wonder, fear, anxiety, joy and hope.

We listened as the speakers for PJ’s graduation tried to inspire and encourage their graduating class during these tough times.   David McCullough Jr  used the words, “You are not special” during his commencement speech to Wellesley High School seniors to help them deal with the rough road ahead.  Despite the shocking words of not being special I find his speech inspiring.   Take a few moments and listen for yourself.

While watching  PJ’s ceremony, I was struck how it is a coming of age ceremony which is sorely need in our Western culture. Yet, to end the stage of childhood and to step into adulthood is an important threshold to cross. PJ is crossing this threshold. He is leaving behind his life as a boy and entering his life as a man.  I found a quote from The Rites of Passage Institute of Cleveland, OH at ReligiousTolerance.org that sums up nicely what I am saying.

“The final entrance into adulthood has been provided from time immemorial by the ‘coming of age’ ceremony. Like the other major life chronicle ceremonies accompanying birth, marriage and death, the coming of age ceremony located the individual anew within the surrounding community and indeed with the universe as a whole. It was a critical moment of expansion, the entrance into larger responsibilities, larger privileges, larger secrets, larger institutions, and larger understandings. It amounted to a second birth, entry not into physical life but into higher life of culture and the spirit. Accordingly, it called for the society to display itself to full effect, giving presence to its myths and traditions, physical expression to its animating beliefs.

The moment arrived and I sat transfixed as I watched each young adult receive his or her diploma. When PJ’s name was called my heart fluttered. I couldn’t be more proud of him. He is a fine young man and I am sure he will make his mark on the world. It is a difficult time for young people to start their life as adults. He is faced with a country in economic, environmental and political crisis. For some graduating seniors the decision about what to do after high school can be daunting. I send PJ and all those facing these types of decision love and positive energy as they make their way.

I think this is an inspiring time not just for the graduates but for me.  I hope you feel renewed inspiration for yourself as we celebrated the graduates across the country.   Check out VideoAmy’s list of graduation speeches for more inspirational messages.

Memorial Day 2012

Image credit: tanaonte / 123RF Stock Photo

It is Memorial Day. Many consider this day to be the start of the summer season and celebrate with family gatherings, barbeques and sports. This is not a bad thing. In fact this is why many people fought and died in wars, so people in this country can gather together and live their lives. I am planning on doing just that as we prepare to go to our son’s house for a cook out. Our son is going to cook his famous rotisserie chicken over a wood fire. However, I wanted to do my part in some way to remember those who died while serving our country. I am fortunate in that I know of no one close to me who has died in a war. My husband served, my brothers served and my brother-in-law and nephew are serving now. However all have made it through. For this I am blessed. For those whose family members died while serving I would to use this video to show my appreciation.

The Gift of a Mother’s Love

On this Mother’s Day we celebrate the gift of a mother’s love.  I hope everyone had a good Mother’s day. It is a time to celebrate the gift of a mother’s love whose job is one that shapes the world as William Ross Wallace (1819-1881) portrayed in his poem:

The Hand That Rocks the Cradle
Is the Hand That Rules the World

Blessings on the hand of women!
Angels guard its strength and grace.
In the palace, cottage, hovel,
Oh, no matter where the place;
Would that never storms assailed it,
Rainbows ever gently curled,
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

 Infancy’s the tender fountain,
Power may with beauty flow,
Mothers first to guide the streamlets,
From them souls unresting grow—
Grow on for the good or evil,
Sunshine streamed or evil hurled,
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

 Woman, how divine your mission,
Here upon our natal sod;
Keep—oh, keep the young heart open
Always to the breath of God!
All true trophies of the ages
Are from mother-love impearled,
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

 Blessings on the hand of women!
Fathers, sons, and daughters cry,
And the sacred song is mingled
With the worship in the sky—
Mingles where no tempest darkens,
Rainbows evermore are hurled;
For the hand that rocks the cradle
Is the hand that rules the world.

However, Mother’s day can be difficult for me because I never felt my mother’s love. I believe she loved me in her own way. She did not show this love to me by supporting me, encouraging me, holding me, hugging me, kissing me or even telling me that she loved me.

Instead she neglected me and ignored me.  She criticized me  and discouraged me which she said she did because she loved me. Because someone needed to tell me what my faults, flaws and shortcomings were otherwise how would I know. This she told me once when I was a child when I asked her why she never complimented me.

I worked hard at telling myself that all this doesn’t bother me, that I stopped letting it bother me years ago. But the void is there. Whenever I hear someone say, “My mother is my best friend.” or “My mother is always there for me” or read poems like Wallace’s,  I shut down so as not to feel that aching emptiness. I can give love and comfort to myself now that I am an adult, and I have learned to do that, but I will never be able to know or understand how it feels to have a mother’s love as a child.

My mother died 19 years ago and with it the hope that she would show me the love I wanted, needed and because I didn’t get it, craved. I will never know if she would have changed. If she would be interested in me, my life, my kids lives. If she would share in my successes. More than likely not but then I will never know.

I only hope that I was able to extend the gift of a mother’s love to my children. I think in many ways I have. I know I loved my children from the moment they came into my life, those I gave birth to and those who came to me through marriage.  Now that they are adults, I continue to let them know I love them and am here for them when they need or want me. I did what I could to atone for mistakes I made. I keep them in my heart and wish them all the joy that life can offer.

To those of you who mother’s showed you the love that nourishes, embraces and comforts, I hope your mother’s day was one filled with joyful remembrances and some time spent with your mother. For those of you whose mother’s love was not available for what ever reason, I hope you were able to nurture your inner child with the universal archetypical mother love that is expressed in the video below.

Life Lesson = Practice

“Mom, I have some great news.”

“Yeah.” I sat down holding the phone to my ear ready to receive great news.

“Emily got her first job.”

“Wow!”

Climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro

First application, first interview and just like that first job at the tender age of 15. From the looks of it failure isn’t part of Emily’s life lesson as it is with me. Her lesson may be something else altogether and whatever it is I am sure that it will be a challenge for her. Something that feels like climbing Mount Kilimanjaro with a backpack full of bowling balls.

My job history is littered with failure. After my first husband and I separated and two years after the twins were born at age 24, I realized that I needed to be both mother and father to my three sons. So, I set out to look for work.

This was my first experience looking for my own work. I filled out applications, went on interviews and was turned down time and time again. I didn’t let it stop me, I forged on. At last I applied for a job at a nightclub as a cocktail waitress and this job, after all my searching for office work, retail sales, waitress positions, this job, a cocktail waitress in an up and coming night club, this job I get. Why did I get this particular job? Because I modeled for the hiring manager in the skimpy uniform and he liked the way I looked.

At the time, I thought this was a success. I found work. I was bringing home a paycheck. But it wasn’t successful in terms of what I pictured when I made my decision to be nurturer and provider to my kids. Not a single job I got since, and they were many, has been the start of my dream of provider. For one reason or another I left the jobs. Even jobs I liked, ones where, it looked like I could go somewhere.

This one job I had working for the Medical College of Wisconsin in the animal resource department was the most depressing job for an animal lover. This was the department where they experimented on animals. I could hear the dogs barking continuously in the back from my desk. A job I had as a unit clerk at a hospital was a wonderful job. I handled it well, the head nurse complimented me but the stress of getting on a bus to travel across town while I left, at the time, four kids, to fend for themselves became insurmountable. I would get calls all day long to deal with squabbles and daily issues.

For whatever reason, all my jobs ended up in failure. All my efforts to change my life circumstances lead me to dead ends. In other words, failure upon failure upon failure. Or to put it in terms of my life lesson. Practice, practice, practice. I was practicing to overcome failure. I was persevering.

And that is the reframing I made about my work history through my understanding of the LifePrints and soul psychology, that I needed to go through all of that failure to understand that I needed to practice in failure to learn perseverance. I almost want to say that I went through all of that failure to feel like I can’t do it just so I can learn I can do it.

The Journey to reach the highest

I can climb the mountain, not Mt. Kilimanjaro but more like Mt. Everest. The highest of them all, the mountain where I express what is in my heart in my own unique way, creative expression with innovation. The mountain where while the climb is steep, the journey is beautiful, invigorating and enjoyable because instead of bowling balls I have all the necessary supplies for such a climb: perseverance, willingness to treat myself kindly, looking for the silver lining, being patient and committing myself to whatever creative endeavor I am doing.

To sum it up, life lesson = practice. Looking at it that way can lighten the load yet bring a truck load of meaning to the experiences.