Tag 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.

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.

Retirement makes deep connections possible

My husband Mike took an early retirement at age 55 about six years ago.  He was unsure what his retirement would look like but what it has become is richer than I am sure he has yet to realize.

We have been taking care of our youngest grandson, Gavin now for about 14 or 15 months at least 3 days a week.  It’s been hard but the joys far out-weigh the difficulties.  The cool thing is the effect Gavin is having on Mike.

When we were raising our children and even before that during his first marriage, he worked long, hard hours in a brewery.  He was forced to work overtime.  Sometimes he would work seven days a week up to ten hours a day.  He did it because he had a huge family to support and he was a strong hard workingman doing what he did best being a stalwart provider for his family.  Even after our kids were grown and started families of their own, Mike was still working those crazy hours.  When he came home from a hard day at work, he wanted to eat and chill out by the TV.  There was little time for being with kids.

Our family did benefit from his hard work but at a cost to him.  What he missed out on was the joys and little pleasure that are part of watching children play, grow, learn, explore and discover themselves and their world.  Now the older grandchildren are teenagers giving different joys and pleasures but not quite the day-to-day that is involved with watching a little one.  But with little Gavin’s arrival into our lives Mike gets another chance to discover the joy of interacting with a baby.  Mike and Gavin spend many hours playing on the floor laughing.

The other day Gavin was over and it was snowing a soft, lightly falling snow.  The accumulation was only about a couple of inches but while it was snowing it was winter wonderland.

We were all in the living room hanging out, Gavin, Mike and I.  Toys were spread out with the TV playing PBS Kids in the background.  Mike stood up, “I’m going to get the mail.”

Gavin sat in the middle of the living room floor watching Mike put on his favorite Miller Brewery coat.  The one he wears when is if off to do a job.  “Why don’t you take him with you.  I can bundle him up.  He likes the snow falling on his eye lashes.”  Mike thought for a minute.

“Ok,” He said.  I put on Gavin’s winter coat, hat and mittens.  The mail is just across the street but it was a big production getting Gavin ready.

Mike hoisted him up and they both turned to me Gavin smiling and waving goodbye.  He does loves to be going somewhere.  I waved enthusiastically, blowing kisses saying, “Bye, Bye.  I love you”.

Suddenly, I ran and got the camera rushing outside to capture the moment.  The delight on Gavin’s face is undeniable as is Mike’s.  They say that the way to bring life back to an aging older dog is to introduce a new puppy.  Well, Gavin is Mike’s life enhancing puppy.

Retirement for Mike is bringing joy from some surprising, unexpected places, enhancing his life.  In addition to his bond with Gavin, he is also making deeper connections with his kids than ever before.  One of the secrets to living a long, healthy, life is meaningful personal connections.  Time has opened up for Mike to develop these types of connections and all who come in contact with him benefit as well.

This too shall pass

Well, it’s Wednesday, December 28th long past the time when I normally post something.  I don’t have any pearls of wisdom, any wonderful stories with learning lessons.  One would think I would, after all we just went through a big holiday where family gets together, where thoughts are turned to peace, love and joy.  I’m not saying that those things aren’t true for me.  Yes, the family got together at our house Christmas Eve.  All of our children were here with their partners and children.  All except for one.  For me his presence was missed and I wished things were different and he could be here.  But life is what it is.  However, my brother joined us this year, which helped fill that void and all the grandchildren were together for the first time since Gavin was born 15 months ago.

All in all the day went well.  I made too much food.  Baked tons of cookies.  Mike bought a case of Coca Cola made in Mexico where real sugar is used and it is packaged in glass bottles.  Every one got along.  We laughed, talked, ate.  We exchanged a few gifts.  There were no family drama’s going on.  Least not that I could detect.  I think everyone put whatever issues they may or may not have on hold and actually enjoyed the time together.

So, what’s the problem, what’s missing?  Why am I sounding so, shall I say apathetic?   And am I really apathetic?  I just described a nice family gathering.  Well, truth be told the holidays do stress me out a bit.  It usually starts with Halloween.  Once Halloween is over, I see Christmas decorations all over, the radio stations play Christmas music exclusively.  I rush towards Thanksgiving making arrangements for a dinner.  Trying to make everything just right then move on to shopping and preparing for Christmas.  After all that time spent  preparing, shopping, anticipating, worrying, definitely worrying, getting ready for that one day, and then its over.  It’s as if I was running a hundred miles an hour and stopped cold by a brick wall.  I’m knocked on my keister, dazed, shaking my head trying to get my bearings.  I say to myself, what now?  What’s next?  Who am I?  What time is it?  Whaaat happened?

Anyway, It doesn’t help that I picked up a cold on the 23rd.  It’s still lingering while I type this.  It’s one of those sinus colds with all the pressure and pain.  Of course the temperatures being in the twenties only compounds things, not to mention it being pitch dark outside by 5 o’clock.

I don’t know, is it the after Christmas blues, the cold, the short days, the sinus pain?  Will it all feel so much better once January is here and the New Year begun.  I usually feel a boost in January.  Time to start anew, begin again.  Every day the days are a bit longer.  I can get stalled out again in February but January is usually pretty good.  So with that said it is time to take the advice I give to others.  Be kind to myself, be gentle and compassionate, let myself go through this time, it is perfectly understandable.

This Too Shall Pass.