Category Archives: Relationships

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.

More thoughts on Collecting Experiences

Rising up to collecting experiences

Rising up to the experience

When thinking about my last post on “Collecting Experiences” a paradox came to mind. Sometimes I find myself wishing I could collect certain experiences that only having some things, or living a certain life, would allow. This wishing leaves me with a sense of longing. I had such a feeling the other day when I was at Kopp’s Frozen Custard, a local restaurant which describes itself as being a landmark in the metro Milwaukee area, to pick up some butter pecan custard. For my husband and I, Kopps is “the” place for butter pecan. We get a schedule of the flavor forecast Kopp’s prints up and mark all the butter pecan days so as not to miss a one of them.

That is why I made a trek out to the Kopp’s on Bluemond road in Brookfield, it was butter pecan day. I was at Kopps waiting for my custard when I looked out the window and noticed two Jeep Wrangler’s pull into the parking lot. Two middle-aged couples climbed out and stood by their vehicles talking. I had an image of people with money who buy brand name clothes and are spending their Monday four-wheeling it around in their Jeep Wrangler dune buggy type cars. I imagined a life of sail boats and yachts, horses and traveling, friends and catered affair gatherings. All this in a flash. A sort of feeling flash.

“Hey, wait,” I thought. “What about collecting experiences?” I am sure this is my spirit guided self. Always looking for the silver lining, always pulling me back from the edge, always being the voice of acceptance and love gently reminding me of the power of consciousness

“Yeah, well, what about collecting experiences that only having those things can give,” I retorted. I’m sure that is my ego self. The self that wants what it wants and wants it now, thank you very much.

Truth is I could sit and feel this longing all day and into night and it won’t change a darn thing except bring me more longing. I had to shake those things out of my head with a little nudge from my higher self and deliberately focus on what I personally experience in any given moment. The kind of experiences that I can only have with my life the way it is.

“And just what would those be,” I felt myself stiffen in response, sure that my experiences could not be as great as those that only having money could offer. Right off the top of my head, at that moment, when I was on the spot, I couldn’t think of much but I made a conscious decision to become aware of when I am experiencing things that bring life to me.

The next day while I was walking the dogs, I basked in the sun drenched cool autumn day with temps in the mid 60’s. A mild fragrant breeze rustled the leaves on the trees. Some leaves broke loose sending yellow leaves  gently wafting downward around me. I reached up as one drifted passed and caught it. I was feeling exuberant joy, light and happy while walking in this tranquil scene, I realized that how living with a man who loves me and has been with me for more than 33 years brings me great joy and delight and soothes my soul, that my kids and their families enrich my life more than I even realize sometimes and my pets are a great comfort and help me get outside and keep me on track with my exercise. I have a friend or two who I can talk things over with and get me set back on track, a brother whose relationship has healed and matured. I realized that I am blessed with living in a place where a beautiful county park with miles of hiking trails and a small lake is just about a mile from our house. All I have to do is walk out the door, walk 15 minutes and I am there. I can go there every single day and bask in nature if I so choose. Cranes live there and a red-tailed hawk, deer rabbits, squirrels. I’ve even seen a blue bird which caused me to exclaim out loud, “Oh, look, a blue bird”. There are horse trails that are used by many people who own horses. Even though I can’t own a horse or live on a cool ranch surrounded by horses I get to look in their big beautiful deep brown eyes  as we pass each other on the trail.

Collecting Experiences

All of these things are where my experiences come from. No money is involved. No expensive equipment. I am grateful for these experiences. It’s just sometimes I forget. I go unconscious and move from day-to-day taking care of my daily tasks. And sometimes, like the day I bought the custard, I will think that some people “have” more. From there I determine these people have better, more interesting, more exciting experiences. I stop short of thinking about those who are less fortunate than I. For one, who am I to judge those as less fortunate. Likewise who am I to judge those as more fortunate. However I don’t seem to have much of a problem comparing myself to those who have things, money, or whatever else I haven’t a clue about because that is not me.

My experiences and how my life contributes to the kinds of experiences I have may seem simple and understated but when I am experiencing them I feel a profound sense of joy, peace and aliveness. That is, when I am consciously allowing myself to be present and grateful. But I guess that’s the trick. To be conscious. To be grateful. To not dwell on that which I can’t change or that which I don’t have. I have my higher spirit self to thank for bringing me back, for reminding where I need to put my thoughts and energy. Let’s face it. There is always plenty out there for me to think that my life lacks. It’s up to me. It’s my choice.  I can choose life and feeling joy, or like something is missing and feeling longing or even resentment.   For now I am choosing to look for my blessings, collect experiences that only my life can give me and I think I am choosing wisely.  What do you think?

Related links:

Fabulous 50’s. A great photo blog by a fiftyish baby boomer who’s sub title says ‘Collect experiences…not things’.
Collect Experiences Not Things.  A thoughtful post titled like mine with like minded thoughts posted on Gifts of Serendipity.
Collect Experiences Not Things. Another great blog post by Corey Barton in his blog Healthy Living: Stories about how I took my life from negative to positive.

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.

Good Friends are like stars

Good friends are like stars, you don't always see them but you know they are always there.

Today I don’t know what to write for my blog. If I should go light or serious. I already wrote two posts about spring. Should I write about the sun, the moon the stars? A movie? A book? I am at a loss. I am feeling dried up with nothing left to say.

I sit at my little rummage-sale-find task chair staring at the blank document on my computer screen. Finally, I do a little free writing hoping something will surface. Nothing does. I play a game of Mahjong. (It’s a way I sneak in games without having solitaire on my computer. I know I am flirting with danger but sometimes I just need that distraction.) I get up and wander back to the living room, talk with Mike a bit only to come back to the computer and sit down to stare at the blinking cursor. I must think of something. I can’t let this blog die. I open my email and see “New comment on your post “Foolishness means Aliveness” in my in box.

I sigh and smile. I feel a weight lift. Wow, a comment on my last post. It is from Linda a woman who I met in 2004 at WomenHeart’s weekend Symposium on women and heart disease at the Mayo Clinic. We were both from Wisconsin. We both had heart surgeries. We were around the same age. We connected right off and are still friends.

I have to admit I’m not an easy person to get to know. When I first meet a future friend, we form an intimate bond immediately. We will sit and tell each other our most private thoughts and feelings. Then as time goes on, I sort of back off. Apparently, I do instant closeness well but the long-term is hard for me to sustain. Fear is probably at the root. Fear of being rejected, no doubt. Whatever the reason, there it is. But once a few years pass and the friend is still hanging in there with me despite my strangeness, I am not as difficult. At least I hope not. Anyway, Linda is one of those friends.

A couple of years ago we both moved away from Wisconsin when our husbands retired. Mike and I to the north in Minnesota. Linda and her husband to the south in South Carolina. We haven’t really seen each other since but we do talk on the phone and its as if there isn’t a distance between us.

So, when I see that Linda read my blog and posted a comment I felt that I was being given a gift. A nudge from the universe not to give up. I pick up the phone to call her right away.

“I was just reading your blog and posted something,” she said.

“I know” I said. “That is why I’m calling. Your commenting on my blog came at the right time. I was feeling discouraged.”

“I like to read your blog. You should have been an author. Maybe you can be an author when you grow up.” We laugh. We are both in our sixties and we share the same passion of wanting to do something with our lives.

But seriously her words soothed me. I want to be able to write so others get something out of it and it means so much to me when my friends share with me their feelings about my writing. Unfortunately, I will respond with their kind words by trying to brush them off or change the subject. I don’t do compliments well either. You could say I’m a work in progress, still…

I am glad for my friends and their encouragement. For listening to me when I tell them my fears and doubts. For hanging in there with me when I must seem distant and strange. As Linda was saying to me on the phone, its with the connections of friendships that help us live a long and healthy life.

Thank you to Linda and all my friends. And to whoever is reading this blog may all your friendships be just as rewarding. Please, feel free to share a friendship story.

Finding the silver lining even in the worst of times

Looking for the Silver Lining

I wrote about God winking last Sunday ready to start my week with the power of coincidence guiding my life till Monday night.  It started with a headache turning to all over body aches quite quickly.  Tuesday was not much better.  I took 2 IB every four hours hoping beyond hope that I would get some relief and soon, which didn’t turn out to be the case.  I thought I was going to die.  I wanted to be rushed to the emergency room and given a morphine drip.  Instead, I managed to sleep fitfully waking to yet another day of the same.

My mind went through a list of fatal diseases I was sure was my fate and finally settled on fibromyalgia.  I was devastated at the thought of living out the rest of my life with pain and fatigue.  If God was winking he was using some huge monster world size eye to blink me out of existence.  Then things took a turn.

One of my sons called to say he had been sick all week.  He was smart enough to talk to a doctor and a nurse.  He was told he had a gastrointestinal viral infection.  All he could do was ride it out making sure to drink fluids to keep hydrated.

Shortly after I talked with him I got some rumblings going on down there.  Sounded like there was a storm a brewing.  Then the storm hit and I became a slave to the bathroom.  Couldn’t venture more than 10 feet otherwise alarms would be sounded forcing me to run back or all fury would break loose.  Fortunately, once the storm broke I was relieved of my body aches.

Today, Sunday I am feeling a bit of grumbling in my lower region and headachy but, sigh, there is good news.

  • One, it is not fibromyalgia.  My sympathies go out to sufferers of that awful disease.  I admire the strength and fortitude it takes to get through the day.
  • Two, I lost about eight pounds.  I wouldn’t recommend getting sick as the ideal method for weight loss but it is quite effective.  My son and I concur on this one.
  • Three, I got a good colon cleanse all without even trying.  Again, not the best way but then again I am looking for the silver lining here.
  • Four, I think I actually saw god winking.  I know it sounds crazy but let me explain.

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