Thought I would post these today, with permission of course. Time slips away and these moments are gone before you realize it. Thank You Baby Girl – for allowing me to save them and share them. You’re beautiful! May 3, 2014
Greetings All! I have been away for awhile here, attending to things at Hacienda Del Chaos. (aka My Life) July was insanely busy with amazing social events, including but not limited to 2 weddings and a family reunion. Then I also managed to get sick; which as my British friends might say, took the starch right out of my knickers. The amount of tired I have been is unmeasurable. We also have several extended family members who are quite ill at the moment. Last summer was much worse in terms of stress and family illness – but I could certainly do with less of that this year – and all the years to come. Sadly, I am also sure that will not prove to be the case…..
I have been too busy or worn out to feed my muse lately and she has begun screaming at me so I think it past time to unlock her from the padded cell again, 😉 I do feel better – connected and grounded somehow, when I write or work on my photography. So this post is going to be about whatever pops into my head – just so I can get back into the swing of things. The girls have been busy this summer spending less time at home and giving us a dress rehearsal for the empty nest looming on the horizon. Not sure I’m liking this, but it definitely serves as a prod for me to develop and nurture my hobbies and interests. Hello! I will need something to do when they move, right? I may be entering some photography contests or local exhibitions during fair season this fall – not sure yet.
So what keeps us going when life gets so busy? I find myself more and more just moving through my daily routine without much active thought. My goal is getting through the day so I can collapse on my couch or in my bed at the end of it – thankful to have a place to lay my head down. If I have to guess in a word, I would say the answer is “Relationships” That connection to others. And relationships are hard work. Like gardening, we need to water and feed – develop, maintain, and enhance. Sometimes, we also weed and prune; reassess , re-categorize, or just move on.
Most always, the process of staying connected takes relatively little time – a shout out text or email; a quick note or phone call; a sit down dinner, a sofa or pillow conversation is generally all that’s needed to maintain the status quo. ‘Whats up with you? Hows it going?’ and then listening. Generally, the person on the receiving end of your communique will be delighted that you thought of them and glad to hear from you. I do try to stay connected to my friends and family regularly. Most often, this involves a phone call, but texts and emails work as well. My immediate family ( The Viking and The Girls – we are all pretty good with the communication dept for the most part) So what happens when things break? When you send those texts/emails and make phone calls/leave voicemails and hear nothing back for weeks at at time (if ever)? This is especially hurtful if you value that relationship considerably. Or, you drift so far away from someone you don’t know how to reconnect – or even if you should?
Let me tell you a true story. I had a dear friend at one point a few years ago. A long time friend. The type of friend you speak with every morning before work, and generally chatted with several other times during the week as well. The kind of friend you were matron of honour for at her wedding. Whose daughter is your goddaughter and who was flower girl at your own wedding. We had our arguments, but patched things up fairly quickly all in all. Her dad got sick with that long slow journey into darkness (the dreaded A- word) and she moved in with him to take care of him. I had issues with my family, including the death of my father in 2007 as well. She and her husband came to the wake. Our daily conversations became weekly, then sporadic, then practically non-existent. I’d periodically think “I really have to call her and catch up”, but something always came up that needed my attention immediately, and by the time I thought about it again it was well past an acceptable time to pick up the phone. At the time, mornings with a high schooler and a middle schooler were (and probably still are) not conducive to telephone conversations – so our former pattern was not an option. Then, I ran into her daughter and granddaughter at the Christmas Tree Lighting at the Town Square a few years back. I asked her how her mom was, and how her grandfather was doing. She looked at me funny, and then told me Pop had died the previous year. I was dumbfounded. No one had told me, and I don’t get the paper or read obituaries online. Of course, karma being what she is , I turn around after mumbling some very embarrassed and extremely belated condolences, and my friend was standing right behind me…. I offered my condolences again, saying I’d no idea he’d passed away. They were accepted quite frostily – and that, as they say, was that. Can’t say I blame her on that one. I run into her daughter occasionally and we chat. I do miss my friend, but I have absolutely no idea how to fix this one – or at this point if it is beyond a fix and I should just continue moving on…. The whole situation saddens me immensely.
In other relationships, for example – the actions of my toxic monster in law; and the sister in law I’ve never met in the 29 years I’ve been with my husband; have made the choice to stay away from them super easy- breezy. I guess there’s always at least a few in every family. And conversely – in every family I’m sure there are members we would love to stay in closer touch with – but for whatever reason(s) we are not. I would be interested to see how you all address these issues, particularly with a view to reestablishing and reaffirming broken connections with valued others. So please feel free to comment, and take my poll!
I am posting this as a birthday wish. I wish we could treat everyone equally, with respect, with dignity, and with courtesy. Every day. This young woman illustrates the best in us. Blind and developmentally disabled – she soars – and becomes the most able. There is hope, but we have to – we MUST – work at it. Happy Birthday everyone, love and light to all!
These were Selena Jacques Lahue (my Great- Grandmother)’s peonies. My Grandpa dug them up and brought them to his front garden when she passed away, and my mother brought them to her backyard when Grandpa left us. Peonies also happen to be my sister Susan’s favorite flower. I went over to my Mom’s this morning and together we managed to get these photographs. Mom held up the blooms with a stick since they are so darn top- heavy. It was great to share this time with her, and listen to a couple of the family stories while I snapped away. I’m normally not a fan of white flowers per se, but these have a spattering of red to boost the visual interest; kind of like an artist lined the center whorls with crimson. Nature, gotta love her -even when she’s off her HRT. 😉 I hope you enjoy these! Thanks for stopping by.
- Peonies (whimseypie.wordpress.com)
- Spring Peonies (proflowers.com)
- Peonies with History (freshcoatofpaint.ca)
- Eight perfect peonies (naturesurrounds.wordpress.com)
- Things we love: Peonies (finchnwren.wordpress.com)
Remember when you were a kid, and you couldn’t wait to sit at the grown up table on holidays? No more mismatched chairs, paper plates and plastic cups at the rickety old card table. No sirree bub – you got the formal dining room and the good china at the adults table. You were where it was happening. Definitely a mini rite-of-passage, at least for this chick. As the oldest child and oldest grandchild I got to go first. Woo Hoo! Welcome to the Party, Pal!
But I want to talk about a different table. The Head Table. I don’t mean where Bride and Groom sit during their reception, or where the Silver and Gold Anniversary Couples get to sit. Those are cool places to be. The happy place – center of attention and hub of the party wheel. I want to talk about the table you get move up to – and sit at – when your parents pass away. Its not an actual table, but its a real thing nonetheless. And its emotional, and scary. If all goes as hoped, you’re bound for the cemetery next. Not that anyone hopes to die, but if The Fates are kind, they take you before your children.
When you step up to take your seat at the table (if those Fates have once again smiled upon you) you’re usually middle aged – and usually with children and grandchildren by that point. Sitting down, you get to take stock of your life to date. You evaluate your goals, reevaluate them and maybe even change career direction. Or divorce. Or remarry. Have a full blown nuclear mid life crisis.
Make a menopausally fueled Hit List. Or none of those things. But – underlying whatever is going on is the stark reality that there’s no human buffer zone between you and the Great Beyond anymore. No safety net below you as you stand on the platform at the ceiling of the Center Ring. Tag. You’re it.
I was chatting with my Aunt Jean the other day. She lives near Chicago, but we try to connect with one another as much as possible. She was 17 when I was born, and she’s my Godmother. We were discussing careers and work. She mentioned that at my age- I’m at the apex career wise. If I’ve reached for the brass ring already – great. If not, I’d better do it soon. She didn’t say so, but I thought – I’m approaching the Head Table, dammit. I haven’t sat down yet because my Mom is still with us; but I’m halfway up there as of 2007 when my Dad left us terribly, suddenly. Two of my best friends in the world – Cheryl and Martha – have a seat saved for me. Cheryl’s been sitting up there since 1999. Martha, since last year.
I’ll be in great company, but I’m really not ready to move up to the Head Table yet. Those Fates though, they don’t deign to ask whether or not you’re ready to sit up there. And if I had to guess, I would say that NO ONE is ever ready for a seat at this particular table. The view is probably lovely up there – friends, family etc. The love, palpable. But it seems a lonely place, regardless of the company you’re in. And, taking your seat up there acknowledges that you are, in point of fact, now an orphan.
So, as I meander towards my new assigned seating (which I FERVENTLY hope I will not have to sit in for a few years yet) I find myself asking the questions: Am I happy? What makes me happy? Do I matter? Selfish questions, but at my age I’ve paid enough dues in life to ask such selfish questions. I also ask unselfish ones: Have I made a difference to someone, helped someone, been a good parent? (Don’t ask my girls that until I’ve had a chance to bribe them) Hahaha! ;). And finally: What do I want to do with the next 30+ years of my life? I’ve certainly discovered a passion for writing and photography in the last year or so. I would like to build on that if I can.
What questions will you be asking yourself as you approach The Head Table? Or, what are you thinking about as you sit there? Inquiring Minds…. etc.
I was raised to believe in the American Dream and the intrinsic value of hard work as a means to success. The current envisioning of the American Dream is, that by participating in society and the economy, everyone has the opportunity to get a good education and a good job and can become successful. “.. a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position”. James Truslow Adams These days – financial success depends more on what you do for a living, than how hard you work/how devoted you are at or to your job. How successful you are in terms of economic status is not just determined by your hard work in your chosen profession – its actually determined more by the profession you choose and the salary and benefits attached to them. Of course, if you are a screw up then you’ll lose your job anyway – but reasonable competence in the corporate world guarantees you a fairly high standard of living with few – if any, economic worries. Certainly you can still be successful in terms of job satisfaction/personal happiness no matter what your career. But I am also equally certain that the janitor cleaning those corporate offices after business hours has substantially greater economic worries than the executive whose office he’s cleaning. And that doesn’t necessarily indicate that janitor is living beyond his means.
Somewhere along the way we came to equate the American Dream solely with financial success – ie if we ain’t livin large, we ain’t livin the dream. I completely disagree with that mindset. And I’ll tell you why. In my opinion – every job is an important one. Every career path chosen not only validates our interests, but also identifies us to the world at large. No job is too insignificant. Performing your work well should be the primary factor in satisfaction but I know that many times it is not. (We don’t always get that “attaboy” or “attagirl’ from our supervisors. But we always hear about it when we screw up, right?) Anyway, I’m not sure what we can do to change the mindset. But I can tell you that I am blue collar middle class. I work hard, and I feel good about what I accomplish – every day.
Perhaps it is a gratitude issue. We Americans are a whiny self entitled bunch these days. I have a nice house, food in my fridge and freezer, most of my bills are paid or pending to be paid, I have shoes on my feet, a choice of weather appropriate clothing to wear each day, indoor plumbing, laundry facilities, health insurance, heat and electricity, and an automobile to get where I need to go, and at least a few dollars in change in my pocketbook. If I had to guess – that makes me better off than probably 75% of the rest of the planet. Most people I know are at least as well off. Even most of the poorest of us are generally better off than most of the other people on the planet. We have access to housing, medical, food and clothing, transportation – all the basics are met – or can be. And yet – complain complain complain. Because we don’t have the 52 inch plasma TV, or the jet ski, or the Beemer. From my perspective, why do we care? Having a BMW doesn’t make me “better” than anyone else (not that I actually have one) And if you are receiving assistance, why do you feel the need to have the large screen HD TV? If you can’t afford to pay for it yourself, perhaps you might consider finding something that fits into your budget. Are you meeting the needs of your family – 3 hots and a cot? Are you proactively planning for your children’s education or vocational needs? Planning for your retirement? Planning for your essential living expenses? If you aren’t doing these things/cant afford to do them , there is no place for that HD TV in your home. The world will not come to an end if you can’t watch The Avengers in HD. Get over it.
More to the point, I strongly feel that the American Dream should be about what you can DO, not what you HAVE or can GET. The American Dream should be, was intended to be, about the pursuit of happiness. I can tell you happiness is not defined by what things you possess, but rather by interpersonal relationships and self esteem. We’ve lost sight of that, much to our detriment. My ideas to increase our happiness quotient, and thereby put us on a path to achieving our dream:
- Volunteer – Helping others – without judgement – and sharing our wealth/resources is one of the best ways I know to get people out of their boxes, develop a broader world view, and develop empathy.
- Live within your means – Understand that living is about relationships not about possessions. This is perhaps the biggest issue in terms of achieving happiness. We have to redefine it and tell ourselves it is perfectly OK not to “keep up” with our neighbors.
- Learn and Practice proper Social Etiquette – Learn how to behave towards others in such a way that they feel valued – no matter their economic status, they are a person with intrinsic value and deserving of respect. You WILL feel valued in return, trust me on that. Because “in the end, the love you take – is equal to the love you make.”
I don’t have any other ideas at the moment, but would love to hear your thoughts. Feel free to comment. Thanks.