Enjoying life's adventures in a secluded mountain cabin

Posts tagged ‘life’

New Directions

For the past few days, I’ve been contemplating my life and the choices I’ve made that have led me to the place I’m at right now.  My personal life, my identity as a Mother, my status as someone’s friend, my career, (or should I say, lack thereof).  Now, don’t get me wrong.  I wouldn’t change a thing about my life.  All of the choices I’ve made and things that I’ve went through have made me the woman that I am today and I’m proud to be that woman!  That’s not to say that things are perfect.  Far from it.  But, I decided a while back that things don’t have to be perfect for me to be happy and live in the moment instead of worrying about the future and all the pitfalls and doom and gloom that it might hold.  That doesn’t mean I still don’t worry.  Quite the contrary.

My mind sometimes takes hold of me and tries desperately to drag me down into the depths of the darkest, murkiest, most dismal ruins of my soul.  At times, I’ve found myself in this no man’s land and couldn’t even remember how I got there.  Other times, I’ve felt the descent coming on for days and tried to fight it with every fiber of my being.  But in the end, the darkness and sadness won.  It never lasts for very long.  After everything I’ve been through, I’m not willing to remain in that closed off space where despair and hopelessness lurk around every corner, waiting like a thief in the night to steal my joy and prove not only to myself, but also to the world around me, that my worst fears are now reality.  I’m way too upbeat and optimistic to remain in that horrid state of mind for long.

And so, this thought has led me to my current crossroads in life.  (I seem to have a lot of those!)  I’m at an age where most women are settling into a career, married, and beginning their families.  An age where most women are frantically trying to juggle motherhood, work, taking care of their house, carpools, PTA meetings, their kids sports, being a good wife, lover, and friend, and finally finding time for themselves.  I’m at an age where all of those things should be new and exciting for me, but they’re not.

My life is different than most women my age.  I had my children at a young age.  A very young age.  Too young.  And I got married at a young age.  A very young age.  Too young.  I’ve already done the juggling act.  I’ve already balanced home, kids, work, sports, and all that other jazz, plus college!  I’ve already been at that frazzled state where you’re just ready to run away from home to find a measly few little minutes of peace.  I’ve been to the depths of insanity and exhaustion that comes with the territory when you’re a working mother and wife.  And I wouldn’t trade a single second of it!  Like I said, my past is what has made me the woman that I am today.  But there is certainly a trade off when you make choices such as mine so early in life.

Long story short, after a little more than a decade in a loveless, hopeless, huge mistake of a marriage, I’m now divorced and my kids don’t live with me anymore.  One’s grown and the other decided on a much different path than I ever could have imagined for him.  One that lies with his father.  And, as many of you already know, I found what I believe to be truly and without a doubt, my soul mate in this world.  My Mountain Man.  My other half.  And with him, life has had new meaning and promise and hope eternal for my happily ever after.  There are still pieces missing, but none that one look from him, one touch of his hands on mine, can’t fix.  Even with him by my side, I still have things left in this world that I want to do before I die.  Like find a job, at this point!  Not just a job, but a career.  A way of life, if you will.

My life now looks more like that of the middle aged woman (not that I’m middle aged) whose children have left the nest and she’s now trying to create a new identity in this big old world.  It’s funny.  I used to think I would enjoy this time so much when I was younger.  I used to think of all the things I’d get to do when my kids were grown.  (And I am getting to do quite a bit of them!)  Don’t get me wrong, tho.  I love being a Mother.  My whole, entire adult life, that’s how I’ve most strongly identified myself.  As a Mother.  However, any of you out there who have survived a day, alone in a house with two small kids, knows exactly what I’m talking about.  We love our kids, and we cherish every moment we have with them, but we secretly, (or in my case, openly), dream about the day when we can sit down and read a book, have an uninterrupted thought, have an adult conversation, or (insert your “guilty indulgence here”), without having to change a diaper, or clean up spilled milk, or referee a fight between two brothers hell bent on killing each other over who took the last cookie from the jar.  We want to feel like a woman again, an intelligent human being, capable of anything she sets her mind to!

And so, here I am.  Looking for a new direction, yet again.  I’m not veering too far from the path I’m already on in life, but I’m looking for a detour that will lead me to a career that’s fulfilling, meaningful, and satisfying on an intellectual and emotional level.  I want to matter.  I want my work to mean something.  I want to make a difference in people’s lives and I want the end result to be a life well lived and full of promise and hope for every single person whom I’ve come in contact with throughout my years on this earth.  Even if it’s only through a smile to a stranger on the street.  I want to make a difference.

And I’m going to!!!

Right after I finish frosting those cupcakes I baked this morning!

 

 

My Little Purple Book

I am a collector.  I don’t have shelves that hold my treasures and my walls aren’t covered with masterfully done works of art.  I don’t have rows of clothes hanging in my closet, nor do I have shelves of shoes.  I don’t have a variety of handbags and I always wear the same three earrings, never-changing them for any reason.  And yes, you read that right.  Three earrings.  Not two.  Not four.  Three.  I don’t have drawers or bags of make-up and I don’t have umpteen bottles of hair products.

But, as I said, I am a collector.

I’m a collector of words.  If I could afford it, I’d have a hard back copy of every one of my favorite novels ever published.  I’d have rows and rows of books on everything from cooking to painting to fixing anything.  I’d love to one day have my own little library in my home, complete with the little sliding ladder to reach whatever would be stored on the top shelves.  But, besides books, I collect words.  I collect other people’s words and I keep my collection in a little velvet covered purple book.

I’ve been jotting down quotes for about ten years now.  Anytime I see or hear something that pulls at my heart-strings, or appeals to my psychotic counterpart that dwells deep within, or beckons that little kid that I still am at heart, I write it down.  I have quotes on everything from love to bubble gum.  Quotes about death and being born again.  Famous words about living a humble life and being a strong woman.  Proverbs regarding raising children and song lyrics that can bring even the strongest of men to tears.

I seek these quotes out whenever I can and I always try to jot them down, even if I don’t have my purple velvet book with me.  I’ve been known to write them on gum wrappers, napkins, receipts, and pretty much anything else you can think of.  But they always find their way into my book.

Mountain Man still doesn’t understand my collection.  He’s inquired about it several times throughout our time together and I’ve tried to explain it to him as best as I could.  He still doesn’t get it, though.  And really, I understand why he doesn’t get it.  I cannot give any real reason for my obsession with words.  I can’t give a plausible explanation for wanting to write someone else’s words down and keep them.  It makes absolutely no sense in the grand scheme of things.

But, in my world, it makes perfect sense.  My collection of quotes, sayings, bible verses, proverbs, song lyrics, and thoughts from other people remind me that no matter what I’m going through, someone else has been there, too.  No matter how elated I’m feeling, or how unbelievably loved, or how God-awful rotten, or how absolutely pathetic and pitiful and sad, someone else out there has felt that way too.  Someone else out there has been in my shoes and knows my frustrations and pain and love and happiness and helplessness and grief.  Someone else out there gets it.  My collection reminds me that I’m not alone in this world, that it can always be worse than what it really is, and that perhaps I truly might be one of the luckiest women in the world.  For even though my life is far from perfect and things rarely ever go as planned, if I died tomorrow, I can honestly say that I’ve truly lived.

I’ve experienced so many things in this world.  I’ve felt the pain and sting of life’s hurts.  I’ve felt the horrible ache and emptiness from the death of the only man who was always there for me, no matter what.  I’ve also felt the butterflies and the highest of highs whenever my love’s lips touch mine.   I’ve felt the hurt that only a Mother can know when her children disappoint her.  I’ve felt the disappointment from not acting on a gut feeling and following my heart.  I’ve felt a love like no other and basked in the joy that only true love can bring.  I’ve felt the hurt of knowing my friend is making the wrong decision but supporting her anyway because she’s my friend.  I’ve felt the sick worry that comes when my children are ill or hurt and I can’t help them.  I’ve felt the love in a stranger’s heart when I’ve offered a helping hand.

I have lived and my collection of words in my little purple book are a reflection of a life well lived.  I’ll have to replace my book soon because the pages are nearly full.  I’m not sure I’ll be able to find another little velvet covered purple book, but like so many other things in life, it’s not the cover that counts.  It’s what’s on the inside.

Do You Have the Courage of Your Convictions?

I have been truly blessed in this life to have a handful of very different people that I am fortunate enough to call friend.  These people vary in age, sex, religion, race and level of closeness to me at different times in my life.   Some of them are very present in each and every day, while others have come and gone and resurfaced again throughout my life.  But, each of these people knows exactly who they are and each of them knows just how special they are to me.

One of these dear friends never ceases to amaze me.  She’s just as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside and she always has a kind word for any who cross her path.  Sadly, I don’t get to see her as often as I’d like to anymore, but thanks to Facebook, we manage to keep in touch.  I happened upon something that she had posted and I found the hair on the back of my neck standing up and full body chills overcoming me as I read.  It wasn’t something that a lot of people want to talk about.  It wasn’t something cute or funny.  It wasn’t something silly or stupid.  It was something very serious and very real, especially to her.  It was a very controversial topic and something that she stands firm about.  She doesn’t make any bones about how she feels about this particular subject and she doesn’t apologize for how she feels.

But, and this is what sets her apart from a lot of other people out there, including myself sometimes, she was classy in the way she handled the opinions of others who vehemently disagreed with her position on the subject.  She didn’t discount what others had to say about the topic and she countered each and every comment with what seemed to be well thought out responses.  But, she never lost her cool or her integrity in the way she handled what I’m sure was a very delicate subject for her.

I added my two cents into the conversation and threw my opinion into the mix, too.  But I didn’t think that was enough. After reading her responses reminding others that in our great country, we can all agree to disagree, and that’s ok, I was compelled to comment again.  I made sure to tell her just how classy I thought she is and that I am so impressed with the way she handled herself.  I also told her that I wanna be just like her when I grown up.

So, it got me thinking.  Do I have the courage of my convictions?  Do you?  Would we be willing to not only stand up for what we believe in, but also allow others to disagree with our point of view and still maintain our integrity?

I’m still working on it.  But, I’d like to think I’m getting there.

A Celebration of Life

Funerals.

I’ve been to more viewings and funerals in my life than I care to remember.  My grandparents were always going to the funeral home for a viewing and to pay their respects to someone in the distant family or a co-worker or a brother or sister from church.  I’m talking four or five times a year.  Sometimes more.  I never, ever liked the visitation or the receiving of friends or the funeral or the graveside service.  Never.

In my family, it didn’t matter if you liked going or not.  You went out of respect, both to the dead and the family left behind.  I attended these functions and I paid my respects as best as I could as a little girl and I’m not real sure I could’ve done it without the one man who was always a constant in my life.   My Paw.  I loved that man better than anybody.  I had my Paw and he always walked with me during funerals or viewings and he somehow always made it better for me.  He knew when I was getting overwhelmed with all the sadness and grief and shaking hands and hugging and crying.  As a young girl who’d never lost anyone I was close to, I simply didn’t understand the pain of loss.  I knew it was sad when people died, but at that young age, I had no idea just how awful that gut wrenching feeling actually was.

Outside our local funeral home there was a fountain.  A fountain that was lit up at night.  A fountain containing various amounts of coins each and every time we went.  A wishing fountain of sorts.  Looking back, I’m not real sure why there was a fountain just outside the front door where friends and family waited in line to pay their respects, but I like to think it was placed there for people like me and Paw.  People that needed to get outside and breathe in some fresh air.  Air that wasn’t thick with sadness and grief.  People that needed to gaze upon that sparkling blue water streaming out of the top of the fountain and trickling back down onto the coins waiting at the bottom.

I cannot remember a time that we went to that funeral home that Paw didn’t give me a few coins to toss into that fountain.  However, he never, ever told me to make a wish before I tossed in my coins.  It wasn’t like the fountain at the mall where he or Granny would always remind me to be sure to make a wish.  For whatever reason, I guess you aren’t supposed to make wishes at this particular fountain.  But, he always made sure he had some change for me to toss in.  Paw always made those trips to the funeral home bearable for me.

Twelve years ago, I finally understood that awful, gut wrenching sadness that envelopes every fiber of your being when someone close to you dies.  Twelve years ago, I had to go to that same funeral home for a viewing and receiving of friends.  I had to walk by that same fountain.  Alone.  Paw was there, but it wasn’t the same.  This was different.  This time, I was in the line of the grieving family.  I was one of the crying, mourning family members.  I was hugging people and shaking people’s hands, some I knew well, other’s I’d never seen before in my life.  This time, I couldn’t escape to the night air and gaze at the fountain and toss coins in to get away from all the sadness.  There was no escaping it.  And Paw was not beside me to make it all better.  This time, it was Paw’s visitation and receiving of friends and those days surrounding his death and his funeral were some of the worst days of my life.

My step Dad’s Mom recently died on the exact same day that my Paw did.  Twelve years apart.  I attended her funeral today.  The preacher kept calling it a Home Going Celebration.  A Celebration of Life.  As I previously stated, I’ve been to a whole lot of funerals, but I think today just mighta been my very first Celebration of Life.  I’ve heard people talk about them before, but I’d never experienced one.

This was exactly the way a funeral should be.  Sure, there were tears.  There was sadness.  There was grief.  There was all that awfulness that surrounds death.  But there was also laughter and rejoicing.  There were songs of praise being sung for having this woman here on earth.  There were many thanks to her family and to God for having the privilege of have known this woman.  It was truly a first for me and there were moments when I was deeply touched and moved by all of this Celebration of Life.

It made me miss Paw so terribly bad and it made me wish we’d have had a Celebration of Life for him when he died instead of all that crying and sadness and what seemed like never-ending grief and pain.  I know in my heart of hearts that he’s in Heaven and that he’s happier where he’s at, just like my step Dad’s Mom.

That doesn’t make me miss him any less.

 

Becoming an Auntie

I got the call a little over nine months ago.  My Mama was calling me and she had me on speaker phone.  Again.  I hate when she puts me on speaker phone ’cause I can barely hear her, and when I do actually hear her, I can’t understand her because of all the other various noises in the background.  However, this time it was different.  It was quite in the background and she was happy.  In fact, she sounded downright giddy!

I answered the phone with my usual “hello” which was very quickly met with something along the lines of “Do you have any baby clothes you wanna get rid of?”  I had to have her repeat the question because, 1)I couldn’t hear her, and 2)I was sure I’d misunderstood her.  Again, “Do you have any baby clothes you don’t want anymore?”  I laughed, rather heartily, because my two babies are both teenagers and I quickly reminded my Mama that my youngest was 13 and that any clothes I might’ve been saving had long since been given away.

It was at this point in the conversation that my Mama got tickled and I heard other, muffled giggles in the background.  A few seconds later, Mama is telling me that my middle sister and her husband are expecting their first child.  I’m not real sure what the next words out of my mouth were, but I think I might’ve called her a liar or asked if she was joking or had gone temporarily insane.

After that, there was definite outright laughter in the background and I could hear my sister and her husband confirming what Mama had just told me.  I was so excited, I think I squealed!  Just a little, though.  I congratulated the new parents to be and with a few more brief sentences, the phone conversation was over.

I remember being so excited at the thoughts of being an Aunt.  I have two boys of my own, but I’ve never been someones Aunt!  Fond memories of my favorite Aunt and all the time we’ve spent together over the years washed over me.  I was filled with such hope and love for this little being whom I’d yet to meet.  Anyone out there who’s an Auntie can hopefully relate.  If not, then this is yet another fine example of the depths of crazy lurking within.

Now, let me tell ya, nine months passed with snail like speed when I was waiting, rather impatiently toward the end, to meet my babies.  Those same nine months don’t go by any faster when you’re waiting to meet your niece or nephew.  It’s not the same kind of waiting, but it still seems like the day will never come when you get to look upon a new little life and know that you share something special with this little being.

So, I waited.  And waited.  And waited.  Along the way, I got texts and phone calls about the new Mommy and baby.  My sister sent me a picture of the first ultrasound.  My little nephew’s very first photograph.  My nephew.  Another boy.  The third grandson for my Mama.  He was precious.  Simply precious.  And yes, I’m fully aware that in an ultrasound picture, especially one sent to a cell phone, one can’t really see the baby’s features to tell if he/she is gonna be a cutie, but trust me, I knew he was precious.

My sister and her husband took what seemed like forever to choose a name for my nephew.  They were going back and forth for months but they knew they wanted to give him a family name.  They finally decided one of his names would be Charles after mine and my sister’s Paw.  The other name was going to be one from my brother-in-law’s family.  It wasn’t revealed until right before the baby was born.

So, again, I waited.  And waited.  And waited some more.  And finally, the day came.  The day we’d all been waiting for.  The day I’d finally get to meet Little Charlie.  And again, you must remember that I’ve never been someone’s Auntie, so this newfound form of love was totally foreign to me.  I was so excited to finally meet this little bundle!  I felt like I couldn’t get to the hospital fast enough!  My youngest son and I met my baby sister, who had already met Charlie the night before, shortly after he made his grand entrance into the world, and we were off to pick up my Mama and then on to the hospital so I could finally meet him.

I’m telling ya, the excitement I felt that day cannot really be put into words.  It’s a feeling that’s just indescribable!  And that was just the beginning.  Once we finally made it to the hospital and we finally made it to my sister’s room, I felt a sudden surge come over me.  Someone else had my nephew when we entered the room, but she was a very sweet lady and gave him over to us willingly.  My Mama got him first, and I tried really hard to remember that when it was me laying in that hospital bed with people coming to see my babies for the very first time, I was just a little hurt that people completely forgot about me and went straight for the cute, pink, cooing baby in the room, so I made sure to speak to my sister and her husband.  Albeit briefly.

Then….  It was my turn.  I was finally gonna get to meet my nephew.  I was finally gonna get to hold Little Charlie.  Oh, and have I mentioned that, while I do not have an addictive personality, I think I might have an addiction to babies.  I love everything about them!  Their sweet smell, the precious cupid’s bow lips, the beautiful color, and those feet!  Oh.  My.  Gosh.  Those adorable little piggies!!!  A strange desire comes over me whenever I see little baby piggies.  A desire that gets even stronger if I can hold said baby and smell said baby while looking at said baby’s little baby piggies.

At first sight, I was hooked!  That precious little baby boy is just beautiful.  He is perfect and wonderful and just…. beautiful.  It was love at first sight.  At first sight, at first smell, at first touch, and especially at first sound.  He cooed so sweetly.  He was just so stinkin’ cute!!!!  Immediately, I felt my addiction grab hold of me and begin the tug at my heart strings.  The tug that makes me think I want another baby.  This tug can be dangerous if I let it completely take hold of me.

Then, it occurred to me.

I’m an Auntie.  I have the best of both worlds with this little fella.  I get to love and cuddle and coo and swaddle this sweet little precious baby boy, and then I get to go home and sleep, and eat peacefully, and have sex every night if I want to, and go to the bathroom by myself, and watch an entire movie from start to finish uninterrupted, and shower alone, and read a book if I want to, and write a blog if I want to.

Insert reality here.

The high left me nearly as quickly as it had taken hold of me.

It occurred to me as we were walking back to the car to return home how truly lucky I am.  I’ve already experienced the newborn baby thing and made it through the toddler years.  I’ve trudged through the elementary school years and now I’m in the deep throes of the teenage years, or Hell, as I like to lovingly refer to this stage of development.

So, I’m thinking I really like this Auntie deal.  All that love to share, all that hope for another new life, all those elated baby feelings, and all the freedoms of having older children back home who can pretty much take care of themselves, and will soon be grown and gone.  I don’t want any more babies of my own, but I really think I’m gonna enjoy being an Auntie.

Big, Comfy, Cozy

It’s cold up here on the mountain this morning!  I mean really cold!  According to our handy dandy thermometer, it’s 29.3 degrees outside right now.  By the way, for those of you out there that might be wondering, right now just happens to be 8:15 am.  The fireplace is roaring and the little back up electric heater is humming right behind Mountain Man’s big, comfy, cozy chair.  The same chair that becomes my big, comfy, cozy chair throughout the day until he gets home from work.  But I’m still cold!

The funny thing is, the sun’s shining in a bright blue sky outside and to look out the windows, you’d think it was a nice, mild Fall day.  Nope.  Not up here anyway.

Oh well, I’ve got a ton of stuff I’ve gotta get done today before our weekend officially starts here at the cabin.  It’s funny how the older I get, the more I love just hanging around the house with my Mountain Man and our little family.  I’ve always said, it’s the little things in life that mean the most.  The little things, and on cold mornings like this, Mountain Man’s big, comfy, cozy chair.

Secrets To Happiness

Here lately, life has been…

Ummm…

Well, I’m almost afraid to type the word for fear that I’ll jinx this new-found thing that’s going on around here.

Oh, what the heck.  I’m just gonna throw it out there.

I’m HAPPY!  I mean really happy!

Not that I’m usually angry or sad or anything like that.  I mean, yeah, every new day brings new challenges, disappointments, frustrations, and various other negative things.  I’m pretty sure that’s normal when you’re raising kids, taking care of a house and your family, trying to find new ways to save money and dealing with crazy extended family members.  But for the last little bit, I’ve just been super dooper looper giddy.  And it feels sooooooo good!

That doesn’t mean that everything is perfect in my little corner of the Universe.  Far from it, in fact.  But for whatever reason, it’s a lot easier to accept the bad when you’ve got the best surrounding you with love and acceptance each and every day.  I’ve known for a long time now that Mountain Man loves me for who I am, unconditionally.  But it never ceases to amaze me just how deep that love goes and just how much better things are knowing that he’s around.

So, I’m not sure if these are truly the secrets to happiness, but they’ve helped me immensely.

1) Don’t sweat the small stuff.

Things are not always gonna be perfect, no matter how hard you try.  There’s always gonna be laundry and dishes piling up, and from time to time, there’s gonna be “stuff” laying on every surface that will hold something.  That’s life.

2) You can’t fix everything, (or everyone).

You are one person and no matter how hard you try, you absolutely cannot fix all the world’s problems on your own.

3) You are not in control of anything!

When you stop and think about it, you really don’t have control over anything in this world except yourself and your own actions, and that’s even limited at times.  Once you wrap your mind around this concept, it’s easier to let things be and not worry about every little thing.

4) Worrying doesn’t help!  Period!

Seriously.  Does actual worrying ever fix anything?  No.  All it does is cause internal turmoil and angst.

5) Accept yourself.  

Don’t expect too much from yourself or other people.  Know your limitations and know when to say enough is enough.  Always strive for your best, but know that sometimes good enough is good enough.

6) Love yourself first and everything else will fall into place.

A very wise man has told me this repeatedly, but I’ve not fully mastered this one, just yet.  I fully see the logic behind this concept, but I’m constantly guilty of putting others in my life before me.  I think that’s an innate part of being a woman and a Mother.  I am starting to see the truth in this statement and I’ve put it into practice, just a little, here and there.  I kinda feel a little guilty when I do, though, so this one’s gonna require baby steps.

I’m pretty sure I’m not the first one to use these little tid bits and I’m certain I won’t be the last.  In fact, the very first phrase listed happens to be the title of a book!  These things just happened to enter my thoughts this morning and I thought I’d share.  Plus, there’s that whole thing I’ve got going where I’m trying to write something everyday.

Again, thank you for being patient with me.  I am, most definitely, a work in progress.

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