Monday, June 22, 2009

Friends and Family, Family and Friends

"Love is a moment of stillness that sometimes a word can shatter to fragments or love can be a thing that endures, a rich deep current that flows unending down the years. I do not think that one should demand that love be forever... Each life sails a separate course, although sometimes, and this is the best of times, two lives may move along together until the end of time? Listen to the music out there. Is the song less beautiful because it has an end?" The Walking Drum, Louis L'Amour

In addition to being a beautiful description of love, this can apply to friendships or phases of our lives. Think of a long lost friend, or a stage of life like a pregnancy, or childhood - "Is the song less beautiful because it has an end?"

My heart is sad tonight. A dear friend of mine is drifting away. If she read this, she would say she isn't and tell me everything will be alright (we had this discussion) but I can see it. Things are just not the same between us. I think of this quote and it helps, but only a little. I guess some hurts just need time to heal.

It makes me think about friendships and how important they are in our lives. How fortunate it is when our closest friends are our spouses or family because those relationships last longer (or they are supposed to). I find it fascinating to ponder on my husband and I's relationships with our siblings, how those relationships have changed (mostly for the better) over the years. The amazing thing about that is that often family members are people that you would not necessarily CHOOSE to have a relationship with, but you are put together by family bonds. "For better or for worse" takes on new meaning as you come together year after year for family gatherings, celebrations, funerals, joys, and tragedys.

My sister or sister-in-law's are not the ones I call to share my daily ups and downs, and yet they are the ones I spend the holidays (the most important days of the year) with. They are the ones that will continue to be a part of my life year after year as my friends come and go.

Maybe I should call my sister tomorrow and tell her about my day. . .

Friday, June 19, 2009

TIES the Limit! Father's Day Tradition

Forgive me this moment of self-indulgence! I have always wanted to take a picture of "The Ties" and share it. While we were making this years tie, it occured to me to share on my blog! What a concept.

Back in the day when I had only two children, I decided to make my sweetheart a tie with the boys handprints on it (that one is not shown here, it's MIA at the moment). Judging by the picture you can guess what happened...he loved it and wanted a new one every year. I told him no, he could only have a new one when we had a new baby. You can see who "won" that discussion since there are seven ties (and a few that are missing) and I 'only' have five children. How could I disappoint a proud dad? Yeah, he actually wears them to church, every Sunday!

I should have put them in better order for you...the third one from the left was probably the second tie ever. Just handprints and one dog print (yep authentic dog print!). After that I started to get more creative. All of them are some variation of handprints and finger painting.

From the left: peacocks, bugs, simple hand prints, snowman, ASL letters spell Family, rabbit feet (my husbands nickname from his Scouts is Rabbit) and this year's creation I call Lion King. Those are the handprints of my two youngest, with finger painting by the older kids. There are more ties than are shown here, for example the fish one showed up mysteriously after the camera was put away. Maype I'll post a picture of it later.

Happy Father's Day to my sweet husband. You are the best. I would choose you to be my children's father again and again!

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Eureka!!! An insight about Mom Guilt

Surely this has happened to you too. . .you have an "aha!" moment, something that feels revolutionary and then after a moment you think, "That's so simple, I can't believe I didn't think of it before." Tell me I am not alone in this!

So I had one of those moments, and because it NOW seems to obvious, I'm wondering how I can explain so that you will appreciate what an empowering moment this was. Let's start with a couple questions.

What causes your Mom Guilt? (Or Dad Guilt...wait, do Dad's have Dad Guilt...hmmm, there's a pondering for later.) I digress, what causes your mom guilt? Think for a moment about specific instances were you felt like you were not doing enough, or being enough for your children. Imagine specific moments when you felt like you were failing somehow as a mother. Don't you hate those moments? I know we all have them because I think about it all the time: either my own mom guilt or as someone else is sharing a story about their mom guilt. We are either commiserating or laughing (after the fact).

I have a friend who is re-evaluating her life and her values (yes, she is in her 40's, but I'll avoid the mid-life crisis jokes since she reads my blog). One of the things that she told me was on her mind was identifying more clearly what it meant to her to be a mother. What were her values and goals? Specifically, what were HER values as opposed to those imposed by society or culture. I thought it was a great question.

As I pondered how I would answer those very same questions, Eureka! The answer to Mom Guilt. I realized with clarity that most of the time when I feel "Mom Guilt" it is because I am trying to comform to someone else's ideas of what the "perfect mother" is.

I am no June Cleaver. And yet, many of my acquantainces are. I mean that in an affectionate way. It makes me feel like a grasshopper among ants. Yet, when I really took some time to crystalize what my goals and values are as a mother, I felt good, very good. I AM succeeding in the areas that matter most to me. I have some visible weaknesses, but the things that matter the most to me are where I really shine. More importantly, that is where my children shine as well.

Amazing! So simple and yet profound. Try it. Sit down and ponder what YOU think are the most important roles of a mother, and how are you doing in those areas? I think you will be pleasantly surprised about what a great job you are doing, in the areas that matter most to you.

THAT is what I call sucess!

Kalidescope Moments

I love Kalidescopes; I always have. My life right now reminds me of a kalidescope. When I start to feel frustrated because I am not feeling well, I turn the kalidescope or more simply put, I chose to look for things that make me happy. Some kalidescope moments:

Cottonwood seeds: At least I think they are Cottonwood seeds. It's white fluff floating around on the wind. It looks kind of like snow, but it doesn't simply fall down, it floats. Sometimes it floats horizontally, sometimes it floats higher then comes down. I sit in the sun and watch my 3 yr old play and watch the white fluff floating and think that life doesn't get any better.

The Beach: Through Letterboxing, I discovered a new beach (I live in the Seattle area). It reminds me of a place in Anchorage that I loved and have been homesick for. Recently I took my children there with the explanation that I was going to take them to "Mom's Happy Place". What a thrill when my 7 yr old loved it as much as I do. He took off his shoes, walked in the sand and cried out, "Mom, this is the Promised Land!" The only thing better than having a happy place is sharing it!

Ice gel packs: I have inflammation in my shoulder and frequently it aches. I put an ice gel pack on it, and ahhh, life is good.

Music: Not too long ago, I got my first MP3 player. Wow! The right music is like a massage for the spirit. Happy sigh...

Art: One of my favorite things about the Internet is that it brings great art to my fingertips. Whether it is great paintings or beautiful photos, I can get lost in them. When I had the MRI that I mentioned in an earlier post, I had a hard time with my claustrophbia. (Note: yes, I was offered a sedative before hand, but then I would have had to have someone drive me. So I declined.) I almost panicked, but as you can imagine, I really wanted those test results so I "talked" myself through it. One of the things that helped me was picturing in my mind a favorite peace of artwork and imaging myself there. Needless to say, I'm going to get a copy of that to put in my home.

Knitting: I have become an obsessed knitter. When I knit is like the stress flows out of my finger tips leaving me relaxed, and I get to create something at the same time. Bliss! When I am not knitting, I am looking at knitting books or simply thinking about what I will knit next. Knitting is my 'Zen'. I think everyone should have a 'Zen'.

My children: Just talking to them, marveling at the wonderful people they are becoming. When I held my first child as a newborn, I thought "I love this stage." Then he started walking and I thought, "I love this stage." Then he became a Cub Scout, and I thought...well you know. Each stage that has come along so far has been my favorite. It never gets old. Never.

My husband: If I could make a wish for everyone, I would wish for them a happy marraige like mine. Every life brings struggles and sorrows, but it is easier to get through the bad times when one has support. I have the most wonderful husband. His patience, humor and adoration are a Balm of Gilead.

My mind: This is in a sense my best asset because when I can't be in the places I described or with the people I love, I can think about them. In my mind, I can travel passport needed, be with anyone, even those who have died...and no one can take that away.

When I get discouraged about my health, I just turn the Kalidescope to one of these things and life is good again. What more could a girl ask for?