Author Archives: Lorraine

It takes a village to protect our children.

I’m just a mom.  I’m not your enemy, nor am I against the second amendment.  I’m just a mom who wants to protect our children.  I’m not Republican or Democrat, I’m a mother of three who is scared for her children and for yours.  I’m just a mom who has the power to imagine those children in Parkland and Sandy Hook being murdered, feeling their hopes and dreams vanish, knowing that they can’t hug their own mother or father one more time.    That is all I need to know.

I do have to ask a question.

Why do we need military grade weapons in the hands of any American citizen?  Do you want to use it to hunt deer?  Do you use your semi-automatic gun on the battle field?  Do you want to use your semi-automatic gun used to murder innocent children?   I’m only asking because murdering innocent children is what this gun has been used for in the last two decades.  Why are we so afraid to ban assault weapons?   Because they are fun at the shooting range?

I have to ask because, well you know what they say about insanity.   Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.  Do you think it will be easier to solve mental illness and that will protect your children?  That’s just a talking point.   What if it was your child?  What if your innocent child was gunned down in his classroom.  How will that talking point ease your pain?   Let’s talk about the shooter for a second.  The mother of one of the Columbine shooters said that she believes her son wanted to die more than he wanted to kill.  We do have a mental health crisis on our hands but can’t we minimize our losses?   I don’t know….maybe I’m naive but I think it’s easier to ban assault weapons than it is to solve mental illness.   I’m not saying that we shouldn’t address mental health.  I’m simply saying that there isn’t ONE issue.  We have to start somewhere.

People talk about guns and mental health and policy changes and the NRA but none of those children who were gunned down whether it was Columbine, Sandy Hook, Parkland or any other location were mentally ill.  They were human beings, beautiful and innocent and young who died in terror at the hands of a mentally ill person with a semi-automatic gun.  Now…we can’t eliminate mental illness but we sure as hell can eliminate assault weapons.  That’s not politics, that’s just plain old common sense.  See, as a mom I have to prioritize and I can’t prioritize the shooter.  I have to prioritize the hundreds of kids dying a bloody death.  Yes I know the shooter needs mental health services but my kid has been told to hide near his backpacks during an active shooter drill.  I want to send my child to school and not play this politics game or talk about likelihoods or percentages and debate stupid shit.  I want my village to start helping PROTECT our kids.  ALL of you.  I’ll protect yours also.   This is not about probability or charts or percentages, this is about the village doing everything it possibly can to protect our children.  One dead child is one too many.

I think it’s time for the village to PROTECT our children by voting and making our voices heard.  We can’t raise them if we can’t protect them.   We have to protect them from ourselves and our high and mighty viewpoints and desire to debate stupid shit.  Our lives are a flash in the pan.  Yours is almost over.  What is your legacy going to be?  Why is the human race still so barbaric?  All of our arguments on social media are just nonsense.

You know….guys…just a thought.  Maybe we stop letting politics tell us how we should feel.  Screw them.  I’m a more complex individual than what the Republican or Democratic Party tells me is the party line.    I think we are at a turning point.  Neither party truly represents the values and wishes of WE the people.  So I have a suggestion.  Pick the issues that are most important to you, really look inside your hearts and pick those issues and take your time to research and make good decisions when you vote.  Be the best human being you can possibly be.   

November is right around the corner.

How to save a life.

Another child has taken their own life.  Another article was posted on Facebook.  Another prayer was said.  Teen suicide is an epidemic in all of our neighborhoods.  Some children suffer from depression, some from anxiety and some suffer from the insane pressure that parents, the community and society has placed on them.  Here’s a post that hit me hard today and I implore you to read this young man’s letter.  We need to stop the insanity and save our children.

His voice represents what many children are feeling.

There are many warning signs and risk factors for teen suicide but there are some frustratingly preventable ones.  General pressure is one of them.  The insanity starts when our kids are barely out of diapers.  Is my child a gifted artist, she drew these stick figures and I think they are quite advanced.  Should I put my child in private school so they can realize their true mathematical potential?  My child can’t sit still in his chair at the age of 5, should we medicate him?  Hey, you must start your child in soccer when they are five because if you don’t start young they will not be able to compete in their later years.   

None of this matters. You know what matters?  Childhood.  Making sure that gifted artist doesn’t shove a crayon up her nose.  Empathy.  Learning through play.  Getting dirty, muddy, hiking and laughter.  Playing with clay, finger painting and rolling down the hill and getting leaves in your hair.  Don’t lose that.  Don’t listen to the other moms who strike fear in you.

They say it takes a village.  This can be true in both a positive and negative sense.  On one hand, your village can lift you up but they can also create chaos.  Did your child do well on the assessment?  What was his or her SOL score?  Did they get into the elite sports program?  Did you sign up a year in a advance for basketball?  How is your parenting?  Do you suck?  Is my kid better than yours?

We need to stop the insanity. 

If I would have to do it all over again I would ignore the noise from the other parents. I would have reduced the pressure on my small children.   If you are a young mother, I am telling you a secret – other moms don’t know what the hell they are doing.  They talk a big game but the truth is they will look back and question why they cared so much about their child being labeled as gifted or getting a trophy.    They will realize that they were a mother of a five year old, a ten year old, a twenty year old for the first time in their lives and they were not experts.  They were flawed human beings.  These same moms will tell you in twenty years that their kids turned out to be exactly who they were meant to be and that they worried a whole lot over nothing.

Parent the child YOU have, not the one that you think you are supposed to have.  Trust your gut.  If your child looks worn down or if you know of another child who is struggling, it is time to act.

Community.  In my hometown we are truly a melting pot of different cultures.  I also live in a very affluent county in the United States.   My son knows children who have been studying for their SAT tests since sixth grade.  He knows children that have been in Kumon (extra learning) since they were five.  These children are under so much pressure and they share their struggles and create their own sense of urgency amongst their peers.

This is an epidemic and it is contagious.  Highly contagious.  I can tell my son that he doesn’t have to worry, to just do his best and that everything will be just fine and yet he ignores me.  He looks at me like I’m crazy as if I don’t understand how hard he has to work, how hard he wants to work in order to be successful.  It’s a perspective I am trying to change every single day.  I do not want him to define his entire life by his academics.  He is so much more.

What about social media and cyber bullying?  If your child was drinking every night would you keep alcohol in the house?  Why are we allowing our kids unlimited access to their smart phones?  If your son or daughter is  getting ripped apart on social media sites, if they are being cyber bullied, attacked or harassed in any way, it is your responsibility to limit their access to social media.  Don’t feel bad about taking that smart phone away.  Don’t feel bad about accessing their phone, their texts or understanding EXACTLY what apps they are using.    Look at ask.fm, instagram and other social media sites.  If your child is posting a picture of themselves in a bathing suit and asking their peers how they look, then that’s probably not the best use of their time nor is it helpful for their self esteem and self worth.  It takes one comment, one fat comment, one slut comment, one ugly comment to send a teen spiraling.  Why are we not protecting our children?  Let’s switch the tables also while we’re at it, and ask why we are not holding our children accountable when they attack another.  These risk factors are avoidable.  Too many parents are afraid of social media and restricting their children in general.

What can we do?  As many of you know, I volunteer with my dog “Cap,” in dementia care homes.  I also volunteer in schools and sometimes visit counseling groups or kids who are stressed because they have to be home for two weeks during winter break and it’s not a loving environment.  I and other volunteers go to these schools because the kids are overwhelmed by upcoming finals and assessments and need a break.  I bring this up not because I think this is an answer.  I bring it up because although these are good efforts by the school and by non profit organizations, the truth is that nothing will change unless we all pay more attention.  Kids talk to each other, they talk to our own sons and daughters and perhaps if we all just listen a bit more we could make a difference.

What else can we do to prevent suicide?  We listen.  We speak up.  We educate ourselves about the risk factors and warning signs.

Risk Factors:  Health – Environmental – Historical.   (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention)

  •  Health factors including mental illness, traumatic pain and traumatic brain injury.  This is why we see teens at risk, those with depression, anxiety and substance use.  Be on high alert.
  • Environmental factors include access to lethal methods (firearms, drugs), prolonged STRESS.  This includes bullying and the pressure that our children feel.  Stressful events like divorce or other tragedy.  Exposure to suicide.
  • Historical factors include child neglect and family history of suicide.

Warning Signs:  Talk – Behavior – Mood (American Foundation for Suicide Prevention)

  • Listen to how a person talks.  If they talk about feeling hopeless, about suicide, or about feeling trapped.  These are warning signs.
  • Behavior changes or alerts.  Increased substance abuse, withdrawing or isolating themselves, aggression and fatigue.
  • Mood.  People who are thinking about suicide may appear depressed, anxious, irritable, angry or may just seem like they’ve lost interest.

Our community is starting to see one or more suicides EVERY single year.  I have read posts by the grieving parents begging others to pay attention, and prevention programs put into place and still….every year, within walking distance of our homes, we lose another child.  I don’t remember this when I was growing up.  What has happened?

How to save a life.  I don’t know.  Maybe we start paying more attention.  Maybe we acknowledge that suicide affects us all, it knocks on all of our doors and no one is immune to its impact or threat.   Maybe we form a task force of united parents against suicide.  The task force agrees that we care more.  We do whatever we can do to bring perspective to our children and to others.  We protect our kids and don’t apologize for doing so.  We hold them accountable.  We understand that tragedy in our lives affects those we love and puts them at risk.  We hold hands as a community and do our very best to love and care for each other.

Finally….we talk to our kids.  We check in on them.  Ask them how they are doing and how their friends are doing.  We speak up.

How to save a life.

 

Starting a new exercise routine at 50.

I’ve joined the local gym again.  For the last two years I’ve been walking up to 12 miles a week and working out on a spin bike.  Surely that was enough?  The repetitive motion of those exercises started to cause achilles pain and hip pain.  Seriously….I can’t believe I just wrote those old fart words.  My reasons for joining the gym after turning fifty are significantly different than in the past.  In my thirties and forties I would participate in spin class five times a week and lose twenty pounds.  These days I can workout five times a week and eat nothing but salad and gain ten pounds.  My fitness goals are not what they used to be.  Here’s the thing.  I’ve decided I’m not going “down” without a fight.

The reality is that I’m extremely clumsy and need to work on my balance and strength.  I’ve literally started to wake up in the morning, walk to the bathroom and kind of gracefully bump into walls.  This is a new development.  It’s clear that my graceful lack of balance (that I’ve always had) is more prevalent as the years pass.

My first class was a beginner yoga class.  I haven’t participated in yoga for two years and was never very good at it.  I thought I could simply pick up where I left off.  After the class, for three days, my hamstrings were on fire!   Supporting my body weight was no easy feat.   There was one moment where I misplaced my zen and burst out laughing.  Standing tree pose is more like yelling “TIMBER” for me!    If a tree falls in the woods would it be named Lorraine?   The good news is that it’s really helping me with my anxiety at home.  It has also alleviated the hip and achilles muscle pain I was previously feeling.   

Then a friend of mine invited me to barbell.  Low cardio, no jumping around and peeing while you do, and strength training.  Perfect!  It took me three days to no longer feel the pain.  I intentionally put light weights on the barbell for my first class and my instructor (and friend) suggested I increase the weight next time!  Apparently you need to challenge yourself or you don’t get stronger.

I’m hiding from the bosu ball!

The latest?  “Take my core class!” she said.   Easy peasy lemon squeezy!  Look….Bosu balls are pure evil wrapped up inside of blue plastic air bubbles.  Whether you are trying to stand, lunge, or sit your fat arse on top of one to do crunches, the evil seeping out of them makes the clown from IT! seem like Bozo.   It’s been three days and my abs are cursing at me.  To top it off there was some middle aged woman staring back at me from the mirror, rocking back and forth like a stranded Orca.  It was me.  What the hell.  I’ll be doing it again because my abs are still hurting three days later.  Your core and balance are interrelated so there’s no escaping it.  I’m that person in the horror film who goes up the stairs to see what the noise is.

So I guess I could sum up this blog post with just a couple of words given to me by my grandmother.  “If you don’t have your health you’ve got nothin!”  The biggest challenge is making time for myself instead of cleaning the house or being ridiculously and constantly present for the kids.  It’s ridiculous how I will pass up some time at the gym for a lame excuse.  My husband tells me that I’m a much happier person after working out.  So here’s to 2018 and taking care of myself just a little bit more.  I’m really hoping that this will help me feel stronger and more stable in more ways than one!

Stay tuned!

Can I handle the seasons of my life? I’m 50!

Today is my 50th birthday.  Just writing those words overwhelms me with emotion.   When I turned twenty, thirty, and forty, it didn’t illicit such a strong reaction but turning fifty seems to be quite the milestone.  On one hand I’m eternally grateful for being on this earth fifty years and for all of the lessons that life has taught me.  On the other hand, I no longer recognize myself.  The truth is that this new “Lorraine” started to morph when I hit my mid forties. Mid forties is the twilight zone.  You are not sure what the hell is happening!

Around the age of 44 I thought there was something seriously wrong with me.  It had to be an under-active thyroid that was contributing to the impossible weight gain that was taking place.  I tried all of my old tricks.  I worked out five days a week, went to spin class, started to swim, and participated in yoga.  Nada.  Nothing.  Zilch.  Mother Nature said “tough shit.”  My body has always needed lots of sleep but now it demanded it.   In my late forties I broke one elbow and had one ankle surgery.  I felt like I was freaking rebuilding myself! The joys of midlife hit me hard.

You’re 50.  TOUGH  TABOOGANUTS!

Here’s what 50 is all about.  It’s about acceptance.  I don’t care how much money you have, how much botox you inject, how pretty your nails are or how skinny you are, when you turn 50 the fact of the matter is that you are aging and now it shows.  Yes, you can age gracefully but you are aging nonetheless.   You can’t stop it.  Turning 50 is about wondering why you didn’t have your children at an earlier age because you are already looking for a home in a warmer climate.  Turning 50 is realizing that you are so damn lucky to have made it this far.  Turning 50 is appreciating the gentle breeze, the warm sun on your face and the laughter of friends because you realize that those are the true joys of life.

Turning 50 means you no longer suffer fools.  Turning 50 means achieving your goals and living your dream because someday is no longer a word you can throw around lightly.    It’s about grace and wisdom and peace in knowing that you have made it this far and that’s quite an accomplishment.  I also feel a bit of sadness and I wouldn’t be writing an honest post without stating why that sadness exists and it has absolutely nothing to do with the number 50.

This phase of my life, the one I’ve been enjoying for the past fifteen years consists of so many wonderful friends.  We live near each other, we have dinner with each other, we talk about the kids over a cup of coffee, and we all share a special sisterhood.  I love each and every one of my friends with all of their strengths, flaws and differences.    The sadness I feel is not from turning fifty but it is from understanding that this phase of my life will shift within the next ten years.  I saw it happen with my own parents.  People retire, they move away and enjoy their lives in a warmer climate.  They travel, they take care of grandchildren and they make new friends while holding onto the old solid friendships through Facebook and through effort.  Life changes and even though this has not happened for me quite yet, if I had to be completely honest, I know that this is down the line.

There’s an opportunity here as well.  We have the opportunity through modern technology to maintain many of our friendships.  We are the generation that reconnected with high school friends, college friends and friends across the globe.  Virtual cup of coffees through video conferencing are a thing.  If I want my friends to visit I will tell them to get in a self-driving car!  Get used to it mid-lifers, technology has the ability to transform our lives.

I think Fleetwood Mac said it perfectly with these lyrics:  “Can I sail through the changing’ ocean tides?  Can I handle the seasons of my life?” (Landslide, Fleetwood Mac)

These lyrics mean so much to me.  “Can I handle the seasons of my life.”  I’m trying.  Each season requires different strengths and perspectives.

Bring it on.

The lessons my grandmother taught me.

The one year anniversary of my grandmother’s death is on December 29th.  I’ve written about her before.  She was a difficult, eccentric and interesting human being. In honor of her memory here are some of the lessons she taught all of us. Read with a sense of humor!

  •   Love God.  Be loud about it.  Put bumper stickers on your car.   Don’t apologize for what you believe in, unless it’s not what my grandmother believes in.  Then be quiet.  It’s going to be very hot where you’re going.
  • Be YOU.  People will feel uncomfortable when you are just being YOU.  Do it anyway.
  • Family is everything.
  • Without your health you’ve got nothing.
  • Take vitamins.  Vitamin C and Vitamin E.  Take lots of vitamins.
  • Sing.  Sing at home.  Sing loudly in church.  SING!  People will look at you.  They’re just jealous.
  • It’s OK to wear big gold jewelry and wear hot pink, sequins or be a little flashy.  Just shine.
  • Red wine can be consumed even in your nineties.
  • Be active!  Keep moving your body.  Plant flowers.
  • Work hard.  Work harder.
  • God has given you blessings and don’t feel guilty about those blessings.
  • God is good and he wants you to be kind but not at the expense of your dignity.
  • If you are blessed, share your blessings the way YOU want to share them.  She did this up close and personal with many people and many of those efforts we disagreed with (COUGH COUGH PTL).  Share your blessings even when those you love disagree.
  • Be outspoken.  Say what you mean.  Mean what you say.
  • If it walks like a bitch and talks like a bitch…it’s a bitch.
  • Laugh out loud.  REALLY LOUD!
  • Be strong.
  • Decorate your house with joy.  If you like fake flowers in bright colors then decorate your house with fake flowers.
  • Appreciate what you have.  When I first got married my “Nannie” gave me some pots and pans that she no longer wanted, some very old china and an old rocking chair.  I cherish these items.
  • Take care of your health.  Advocate for yourself with your doctors.  Loudly.
  • Send cards to your family.  Write to them.  Put stickers on the envelopes.  One day they will be treasured.
  • Teach the next generation up until the moment you pass.

True love and immortality consists of the lessons we leave behind.  Happy  New Year everyone!  If you get anything from this post, I hope that it is to love, laugh, sing and live LOUDLY with total abandon!

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Babies are NOT like puppies.

Hey there.  So you’re going to have a baby?  That sounds so wonderful!  Babies are cute and snuggly, and there’s nothing like the smell of a newborn and the feeling that comes with becoming a new mom.   Babies are not like puppies.  You see, puppies grow up just like babies do, but the time we have on this earth with our beloved pets is way too short while the time we have on this earth with our babies, if lucky, lasts our entire lifetime.  That’s a good thing.  That’s a commitment.   It also means that your baby will forever change you.

Hey there.  So you’re going to have a baby?  Did anyone tell you that in order to have a baby you need to lose a piece of your heart for, well forever?  If you have more than one baby you must give up even more pieces until you are no longer the owner of your heart.   Say goodbye to your heart.  You no longer own it.  Oh you love your husband?  Sorry…I didn’t mean to laugh or giggle or chuckle.  Let me know how much you love him when you feel mother love.

Hey there.  So you’re going to have a baby?  Get ready to feel really uncomfortable.  No, I’m not talking birth or weight gain or loss of privacy and time.  I’m referring to your transition into a lioness who is constantly questioning fairness, the quality of friendships, lessons that need to be learned, the school system, the daycare and everything else that is out there in the wild.  You are no longer human.  You are a lioness.

Hey there.  So you’re going to have a baby?  I hope you like looking in the mirror.  No…not at your makeup or your new hair style.  Your little human offspring will constantly hold up a mirror and show you your flaws, your fears and insecurities, and your imperfections on a daily basis.  You will learn more about yourself than your own child.  Hold onto your hat!  It’s a wild ride!  You will grow as a person and as a woman in ways that you could’ve never predicted.

Hey there. So you’re going to have a baby?  Get ready to experience loss.  You will love them fiercely and invest so much time into raising them and then they will leave you.  See ya!  Yes they will call you.  Sometimes.  You will have to get used to not having them in your life every single day.  It’s not fair but that’s how it works.  Your snuggly baby becomes a full-grown human and goes out on their own.  They may fall in love, may have a career, may move to another country and will always love you but you will miss them fiercely and maybe just maybe….

So you’re going to be a grandma?

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Why you should walk your dog!

I used to have a love/hate relationship with my two small dogs. There was a time when I would arrange my schedule around their bio breaks.  Every two hours I would send them outside into the yard and yet they would still have accidents in the house!   I was tired of using Nature’s Miracle on my carpets every day.  Nothing was working.  Quick comment about “Nature’s Miracle.”  This is simply the best carpet cleaning spray on the market.  It doesn’t matter if you have dogs because this stuff is amazing!  I once had to clean lipstick artwork (courtesy of my friend’s daughter) on my tan carpet and that miracle solution took it right out!

I caught the main culprit!  It was Mocha, my female Cavachon.  Mocha is full of life, a bit hyper and believes in all play all of the time.  She loves to be outside but not for the reason that I send her there.  To Mocha, being outdoors means squirrels and rabbits and catching skinks, digging in the dirt and running after her brother Cap.  It does NOT mean going to the bathroom.  I did some online research, truly baffled by this conundrum and was a bit miffed at what I discovered.   Cesar Milan was very firm with me.  The answer was simple.  My dogs weren’t truly trained and the way to solve this problem was to……

WALK MY DOG!  Apparently I could not just let my dogs out into the yard and hope for the best.  Perhaps for some dogs this works but not for my mutts!  I have learned some valuable lessons during these walks including the fact that my dogs will go and go and go over the course of our walk.  They can last for hours once we get a good morning walk finished.

Now I walk my dogs about two miles every day.  We have not had one accident for three months.  Even more exciting is that I’ve found that these morning walks are so incredibly enjoyable for me as well.  Here are some observations I have made these past three months and the benefits that I have surprisingly received!

  1.  I have a cleaner house!  No more accidents!
  2. They love me more.  I love them more.  These walks have been such a bonding time for all of us.  Each morning they start to hop up and down in anticipation.  Their joy is contagious!
  3. I get some serious time breathing fresh air, listening to the birds and feeling good about being outside.  I’ve started to benefit from the stress relief of a simple walk.
  4. I laugh more.  When you walk your dogs and he pounces on a dandelion as if it was a chocolate bar, it’s just so easy to find little moments of laughter.
  5. I have had the opportunity to meet new people.  Lots of people are walking their dogs outside!  The dogs are getting more social as well.
  6. They sleep more.  I sleep better.  Studies have shown that even light exercise can help you sleep more.  As I type this, both of my dogs are passed out by my feet.
  7. My lawn is clean.  I know this is ridiculous right?  Wrong.  It’s no fun to mow a lawn full of poop.  Whether your son or husband mows the lawn or you have a contractor, they will appreciate you more if they don’t have to avoid landmines.
  8. I’m doing something that has been peaceful and solitary (with the exception of my pups).    I do a lot of thinking on my walks.  It’s good to have the peace and quiet.
  9. It gets me out of the house.  I tend to spend my mornings holding my son’s stress very close to my heart.  These walks while he’s running round like a chicken without a head helps me avoid conflict with him.  I get home just in time to give him a hug and send him on his merry way.  It works really well for both of us!
  10. My boys are taking responsibility for the dogs by walking them when they get home from school.  It has become a bit of a stress relief for them as well.  

Walking is so good for the soul.  Whether you have dogs or not, try to get out there once a week and see how it makes you feel!  Get those steps in!

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The common threads in life

On a hike!

I’m on revision #32 #38 with this particular post.  I know what kind of message I want to convey, but am having trouble not sounding like a pompous ass or a know-it-all.  I do believe that the sum of my experiences and the long talks I have had with my friends has given me some insight. It is true however, that even though I can commit these words down to paper, it is still a learning process within my own life and my own relationships. I’m going to try to share some thoughts with you and have to ask you to forgive me if it comes out wrong.  This post is about marriage, about friendships and about evaluating the core common threads that connect us to people in our lives.  Regardless of your marital status, I am hoping that you will still get something out of my ramblings.

I have learned during my marriage that there is a common thread that connects us.  I believe that this is the case for most people, whether we are thinking about our spouse or our friendships.  The difference is simply how strong those fibers are in your thread.  You can really do some serious soul-searching on the strength and makeup of those fibers if you think about why you share your time with that person in the first place. My husband and I share the same value system, we are nerds, we love to have intellectual discussions and question just about everything and we both have a very weird sense of humor.   I am thankful for the years we have shared together including all of the ups and all of the downs.   It’s real and imperfect but at the core we both care about what the other person thinks and feels.  Let me repeat that because it’s important.  We both care about what the other person thinks and feels.   This is our true common thread.  This common thread also connects me to the people I call my friends.

When people first get married they may suffer from Cinderella syndrome.  This is the belief that just because they get married, that marriage will “work,” because that’s what is supposed to happen.  In some ways this was my philosophy during my first marriage.  We both failed to examine whether we were a good match on many different social, philosophical and emotional levels.  When things went south, that common thread shredded so fast that there was only one way to survive and that was to let go and find our separate truths.  Twenty-two years later we are on pretty good terms.  I was a bit more realistic going into my second marriage.

During these “midlife” years,  I’ve been hearing more and more from people who are struggling with their relationships.  Friendships that were formed when the kids were little may fade away when those same children become their true young adult selves and choose different friends on their own.   Spouses who used to enjoy each other’s company are side tracked with the daily activities of life and may drift apart.  The foundational strength of your relationships become even more important, and it becomes more important to identify the common threads and fibers that connect you with the people around you.  Sometimes we find that they were weak to begin with and at other times we just need to rediscover each other.

Then there’s the other side of the coin.  

Betrayal, abuse and cruelty infused marriages and toxic friendships are not healthy.  These situations break hearts.  If married, a person may believe that they stay for the children.  I can certainly understand this concept, but only if you can ask yourself a question and answer with complete honesty. What does your marriage actually teach your children?  This is such an important question to answer.  Your words to your children only go so far.  Your children will look at their childhood and their youth in totality and will put together the picture you have painted on your relationship.  Chances are they will internalize those things and may even repeat the history they have witnessed.  Abusive relationship?  Love and abuse go together, that’s the lesson they have learned.  Infidelity?  This is how to treat your partner, like they are disposable or not good enough.  The cycle continues.  Put on your oxygen mask before attaching one to your child.

I’ve said this before in past posts but sometimes the easiest person to lie to is yourself.   I’ve seen so many people fool themselves into thinking they are sacrificing themselves for the sake of their children when really all they are doing is teaching their dysfunction in the strongest way possible, through their own example.   How can we do right by our children if we can’t do right in our own lives?  I’m not against the sanctity of marriage, I’m just against only one person participating within their marriage.  The same rules goes for friendships.  A true friendship has an even give and take.  In both marriages and friendship, when one party is extremely selfish it creates discord and does not represent a true partnership.

I was single for six years between my first and second marriage.  They were some of the happiest and most fulfilling years of my life. This was a time when I truly found myself and learned so much about who I was and who I wanted to be, a time when I learned to value myself and those around me in a healthier way.  It is very true that you can be lonelier with someone than without someone.  For all of those men and women who have chosen a different way because it was healthier, I honor and respect your decision and courage.  There is joy in respecting and loving yourself.   For those of you who are sad and doubtful, confused and scared, I send you love and prayers.

It is common to reflect and question this time in your life.  I am a firm believer that relationships with strong foundations and strong common threads can weather any storm.  I’ve seen so many people come out of those storms stronger and happier.  In many ways they’ve recommitted and re-established why they are together in the first place.  I’ve also seen people refuse to give up even when their lives have become destructive and toxic.  People who give more and more and receive less and less within their friendships and in life in general.

What is your common thread?  What is your basic foundational need within your relationships?  Whether you are single or married, the truth is that life is too short.   Live your best life and surround yourself with people that share your values and common threads.

I’m going to click publish now.  It’s a bit long and convoluted but I’m done.  I can’t even read this again for editing purposes!

You deserve love.  You deserve respect.  Happiness is a journey.  Take it!  Thank you for once again reading my ramblings.  Sending you a virtual hug!

 

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Don’t Dull Your Shine!

I feel a little bit nervous for my son Max this morning.  He’s in fifth grade and he’s a young fifth grader.  At this age, my other two sons were growing into their pre-teen status and were transitioning from the magic of childhood to the realities of more homework and new social norms.  Not Max.  The world is full of magic and possibility and I absolutely love this about him and I also fear for him.

Yesterday he video taped himself making a news presentation for his class.  The children have a choice, they may create a Powerpoint presentation on a current event in the class or send in a video.  He wanted to create a video.  He sat at his father’s desk and started his newscast  “This is Max Lundqvist with Lundqvist news.  I have an intriguing adventure story for you today.  A snow leopard fell of a cliff BOOM and survived!”

Yes he used special effects, his tone was excited, quirky and engaging.  He had the time of his life and even signed off the video by saying Adieu!  ADIEU!  What kid says Adieu?  I’ll tell you what kid, a kid who reads all the time and is not afraid to be himself.  My first reaction was pride and my second reaction was to worry about what the other kids would think.  I sent the video to my husband who was simply thrilled that his son has inherited his presentation skills.    This is not my first rodeo and I suspect that this video that Max is so proud of may be very different from the presentations that have been done so far.  This IS an age where kids start to quiet their inner personalities to avoid ridicule.  But why?  Why should we dull our shine?

Last night Max told me he also wanted to wear pajamas to school.  If you pledged a small donation for the school Fun Run then you could wear pajamas.I made the donation and he happily put on his pajamas and we went to the bus stop.  Not one child was in pajamas.   Not one.  Not the first grader, not the third grader and not the fourth grader.  Max had his pajamas on AND his Chewbacca hoodie.

I drove home and sat down at my computer to write and to think.  I encouraged him this morning to be himself, to celebrate his creative spirit and to be unapologetic for his uniqueness.  And yet….for all of those pretty words and intentions I still have a pit in my stomach.  This is not allowed.  We are told to conform to social norms and kids are punished and bullied for their differences.  Even when those kids grow up to be adults, many of them conform and focus on not standing out.

It makes me mad.  I see parents who have gifted kids, really gifted kids who are not very academic but are inventors and unique and their friends make fun of them.  In an effort to protect themselves these very same kids hide their talents, talents that may take them really far in life.  They dull their shine.   I know kids who love nature and paint and play music and celebrate the wonders around them but can’t sit still in class.  They are labeled and flattened and scolded and told to burn less brightly.

Why?  Why do we try to quiet the future leaders of our world?  As their parents we need to stop being afraid.  We need to celebrate our kids and help make them more resilient.  We need to also push back on other parents and their snide comments and judgmental bullshit.  Don’t dull my kid’s shine.  Don’t dull my shine.

Don’t dull your shine.

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Missing you.

I am missing you.  When I look down at my aging hands I see you.  I remember sitting next to you on the sofa, tracing the veins on your hands and thinking that your skin was beautiful and soft while you knew that your skin looked thinner and more frail.  Now you are gone but I hold you close by looking at my own hands.  I am missing you but I still have my memories.  Thank you for all of the joy and lessons and love that you have given me.

I am missing you.  I remember when you were a small child and adored me.  You don’t adore me to that extent any longer.  You’ve become an independent, strong, young man with your own thoughts, opinions and personality.  I am missing being needed even though I know I am loved.  I hope that you will not judge me so harshly like kids are prone to do.  I was imperfect while you were perfect.  I did my best and you have made me a better person for all of the smiles, the sickness, the teenage angst and the challenges that have come with growing up.  I love you.

I am missing you.  I see an uncertain future.  No longer can you neglect your health.   I am missing you before I need to because I see what you do not.  I see your tired heart and lungs, your weary heart and mind and the abuse your body has taken from years of neglect.  I mourn you before it is time because I do not see a future with you in it.  I hope you prove me wrong.  One day we must all say goodbye but we should not speed up that clock.

I am missing you.  We have separated and have gone different paths.  Deep inside my heart I know that we have both learned valuable lessons from our friendship but we also know it was not meant to be.  The beautiful thing about aging is that you constantly grow and sometimes you grow apart.  It is what it is.  I miss the days of youth but would never go back to them. Sometimes it is the same for friendships.  They are not meant to be revisited.  I wish you well my friend.

I am missing you.  The days of my youth when I would sing in my family’s car on a road trip and imagine I was flying through the air.   Lazy days by the pool and Italian ice with wooden spoons. Ice cream trucks, parks, little league games and Charlie’s Angels trading cards.  Eighties music, the first boxes of mac and cheese that we thought were actually healthy and Saturday morning cartoons, the only time when a kid could watch cartoons.  Joy came easy.  Today I make my own joy, I work at it and pay attention.

I am missing you but you are all woven inside the fabric of my being.  The lessons, the laughter, the joy, the heartache and all of those experiences have brought me to this road.  Thank you from the bottom of my heart.  Yes I am missing you but more than that, I am celebrating the gifts you have given me.  I hope you can say the same when you think of me.