All the beautiful children.

Isn’t she lovely                                                     Isn’t she wonderful                                          Isn’t she precious ~ Stevie Wonder

Today I’m waxing poetic about children in general and about grandchildren in particular.  In this photo you see my youngest grandchild.  She’s 4 1/2.  I didn’t realize when I was taking the picture but her big brother is in the background.  He’s 9 1/2 and the second youngest. It now seems appropriate that he’s there because his little sister adores him, as do we all.

I was talking with a friend a while ago and she told me she reads all my posts and that it feels like she’s eavesdropping on my life.  I think that’s an apt and rather appealing description of reading a friend’s personal journal.  I told her I have had a bit of a writer’s block the last few days and I asked whether there is something she would like me to write about.  (My mind was blank.)  She said “the daughters and the children.”  Well, that sounded easy enough.  Since these are my favorite people I have much to say about them.  And there’s the rub:  I don’t like to read or write long posts so I may have to make this a three-part series, one daughter’s family at a time.

These are the children of my youngest daughter, S.  She has two other daughters who are thirteen and sixteen.  S is a teacher in a local elementary school.  She’s also a photographer.  She has a huge heart for children: her own and those she teaches and the neighborhood crew and all others who have the good fortune to cross her path.  She loves all of them and they know she does and that is her great gift.  The world is better for having S in it.

Ms. 16 (H) is a gymnast.  I would like to post a picture of her doing “her thing” but I couldn’t steal one from her mom’s blog.  Darn!  I tried.  But I can tell you she’s poetry in motion.  She went through a major growth spurt a while back and it caused problems on the beam.  She was at the age where a lot of girls quit.  H just became all the more determined.  She stuck with it and overcame.  She’s a dedicated, disciplined athlete.  And I wish my legs looked even a little like hers.  She’s also academically gifted and artistically talented.  She was recently accepted at School of the Arts.  I love watching and waiting to see what she will do next.  She’s my hero.  A precious, beautiful and loving young woman.

Ms. 13 (M) is a natural athlete.  She has tried most of the sports available to her and has excelled at all of them.  I think she’s narrowed it down to basketball and soccer (for now).  When she dribbles or passes or shoots (on the field or the court) she does it all with a grace that amazes me.  She has a big, inclusive heart rather like her mom’s.  Sometimes that great heart causes problems for her.  She often chooses to please her family and friends rather than herself.  But she’s young and has time to learn how to look out for herself.  She, too, has legs to die for.  She has one more year in middle school.  M’s a good kid and a beautiful almost woman.  I am loving watching her grow up.  She’s my hero.

Nine-year-old F is Mr. Personality.  He is small in stature but that is the only small thing about him.  When he was in first grade he played the role of Max in Where the Wild Things Are.  He got up on that stage and sang and danced as if he had done it all his life.  I thought he had found his calling.  Now that he’s older he tells me he wants to be a scientist.  He has an imagination that enables him to think in a way that I have never been able to do.  He figures out ways to put disparate objects together in a way that creates a new tool or gadget.  Maybe he will be an inventor.  He’s always thinking or talking.  Mostly talking when he’s in the car with me.  I think his talking is actually thinking out loud.  (Okay, he might have gotten that from me.)  Oh, and did I mention–he’s my hero.

What to say about little Ms. Es.  At four she is still at the pretend stage.  When she comes to visit me she pretends my house is her house and if I want anything I have to ask her.  She talks nonstop, too.  I forget how much energy a child this age requires until she leaves.  I enjoy, yes relish, every minute she’s here and when she leaves I crash on the couch for a nap.  Es is a little mother.  Sometimes I wonder if she will be the one grandchild who will grow up and decide not to have children.  I say that because she spends so much time pretending to be a mom.  She may become the high-powered career woman since she’s been there and done that with the babies.  I can’t wait to see what she decides.  BTW, she’s my hero.

Note to B:  This is the hardest-to-write post I’ve ever done.  Also the longest.  Sorry.


More bits and pieces.

A broken heart is what makes life so wonderful–five years later.                              ~ Phyllis Battelle

When I look at the last couple of posts I’ve written I realize that they may sound sad and maybe even seem to you like  I’m stepping backward again.  But I’m not going backward.  I’m healthy enough now to take an incident from the bad times, examine it and then put it on the shelf.  They are sometimes sad incidents but I’m able to look at them with less jaundiced eyes than I could have done earlier.  Some of this has to do with the passage of time.  Some of it, I think, has to do with my almost unmedicated state.  I am now taking only one-fourth the antidepressant that I was taking before.  You may remember that I had already cut back to a half dosage some months ago.  I have now for some time been taking half the half.  I hope to get rid of the small dose one day soon.  If I don’t–so be it.  Easy does it is key.  But back to the sad happenings from the past.  Sometimes they just come into my head unannounced and I can now analyze them without going into a tailspin as I once would have done.  I think this is a good thing.

Next bit:  I think the cicadas are gone.  I went outside this morning and heard the buzz but it wasn’t very loud.  This afternoon I didn’t hear them at all.  Buzz-free ears.  Aaaahhh.  Nice.  I have to say I didn’t spend much time out today because the temperature was 95 or 96 at its peak.  So I spent the afternoon cleaning and reorganizing the pantry.  I haven’t finished yet.  I may be in there knee-deep in the mess at midnight.

I’m trying to accomplish several things with this clean and purge.  It has become such a mess that I’m almost afraid to open the door.  A number of things are outdated and need to be thrown out.  Some things can be donated to the food pantry.  They are constantly asking for non-perishables for people in need.  But I guess the main reason is that I’m trying to learn to eat a plant-based diet and I don’t want to be tempted.  I’ve been trying to practice this new way of living and eating for about a week now and I’m already feeling better.

If you are a vegan and have suggestions for me, I would love to hear from you.  I have already realized that there are two areas where I’m going to feel deprived. It’s going to be difficult for me to give up cheese.  That’s number one, and number two, I have quite a sweet tooth.  I started feeling so deprived this afternoon that I went to my local health food store and got a chunk of something that looks like cheddar and tastes pretty darn good and a slice of vegan carrot cake.  The carrot cake is as good as, if not better than, any carrot cake I’ve eaten.  I had a cup of Stash chocolate hazelnut decaf tea with it.  Felt like I’d died and gone to heaven.

Last piece:  I think maybe I’m a piece of work.  Take that however you wish.  I mostly love my life and all’s well.

Don’t think twice.

I ain’t sayin’ you treated me unkind                                   You could have done better but I don’t mind                     You just kinda wasted my precious time                            But don’t think twice, it’s all right ~ Bob Dylan

Happy Birthday, Bob Dylan!  (Bob’s 70 today.)

Sometimes this is how I feel about the last few years with my ex.  A little more honesty would have gone a long way.  Maybe it would have freed me up a few years earlier.  My dreams of growing old with D could have  changed to other dreams.  I don’t let myself think this way very often, though, because I don’t think it’s helpful.

I’ve always tried to believe that I was where I was supposed to be at that time.  I learned things I wouldn’t have learned anywhere else or at any other time.  I met people and was touched by them and they by me in ways that were meant to be.  Some of the most important people in my life today I met during those years.  So how can I look back with regret.  I mean where would I be without S and R and their family.  I got so much unconditional love from them and they literally prayed me through the divorce.  I read somewhere that “a friend is someone who is there for you when she’d rather be anywhere else.”  That makes me think about the first Father’s Day that D was gone and he caused quite a stir when he took his OW with him to his mom and dad’s house.  Remember he had left me only two months earlier.  S came up and stayed with me for hours.  I’m sure she would have preferred to be home with R and their three daughters.  She taught me a great deal about love that day.  Her ability to give to others is rare and I’m glad I was in that place at that time and the recipient of such love and kindness.

I shall continue to look for the good that came out of hard times.  In the meantime, it’s all right. 

Bits and pieces.

“A memory is what is left when something happens and does not completely unhappen.” ~ Edward de Bono

I feel a little nostalgic this evening.  Saturday nights sometimes have that effect on me.  It’s been a weird day.  I got up at 6:15 this morning, had coffee and breakfast, read for a while and went back to bed for two hours.  I don’t normally wake up that early.  I think it was because I worked in the yard last evening and my allergies kicked up a notch.  I waited until after sundown to go out because the cicadas stop their hum at sundown.  Not much longer with those little critters, I hope.

This afternoon, when the clock approached 6:00 pm, I kept waiting for the rapture.  Then I realized the kook in Texas probably meant 6:00 his time so then I had to wait another hour.  Guess what!  Nothing happened.

This story got me thinking.  I imagine the human race has always had a significant number of weirdos, crazies, kooks or whatever name we choose to call them.  But I’m pretty sure we get more exposure to them than any generation before us because of our technology and the 24-hour news cycle.  And while I’m on a roll, I have to say that 24-hour news is probably the greatest scourge the world has ever seen.  (Way worse than cicadas.)  That nutcase in Texas isn’t news.  But when you’re broadcasting nonstop you’ve got to have something to talk about.

And finally, I’ve had D on my mind today because tomorrow is his birthday.  I don’t imagine it will ever be just another day for me but that’s okay.  And you had to read this far to figure out why I used the Edward de Bono quote above.  The picture of the red rose represents the hundreds of roses D sent me over the years.  Thanks.

Happy Birthday, Sweet Memory.

No more facade.

“I have to learn to be myself again…That’s all.” ~ Doris Lessing

Ms. Lessing makes it sound simple.  It isn’t.  I’ve heard ” be yourself” all my life but I’m not sure I know what it means.  Oscar Wilde said, “Be yourself, everyone else is taken.”  I don’t think that’s my problem.  I’ve never met anyone I thought I wanted to be.  I knew someone once who tried hard to be someone else.  We were friends for a while but I had to let her go because she never seemed authentic to me.  In her defense, she had a great deal of childhood baggage and she never was able to accept and love herself.

So what about me?  I think I have difficulty being my authentic self and still being tactful enough for polite society.  What you see is what you get.  I’m pragmatic; I don’t sugarcoat.  I’m outspoken, often when I should shut up.  I’m opinionated; isn’t everybody?

I know I’m rediscovering myself now that I’m almost over “the divorce.”  And I like me okay most of the time.  I can see my shortcomings.  (See paragraph above.  That’s not all of them.)  I suppose I’ve always seen my shortcomings.  It goes with being a woman in this society.  I am more patient with me now than when I was younger.  I make more of an effort to be tactful without being dishonest.  I keep some of my opinions to myself these days.  I try to wait until someone asks.  I don’t always succeed.  But I recognize that not everyone wants to hear what I think.

I guess all of us put on facades for different situations.  That is probably considered “normal” to some extent.  But I’ve lately been examining the facades I put on for my ex.  I think my fear of abandonment controlled much of who I was with him.  I couldn’t be the real me that he fell in love with because I was growing and changing.  And I think I feared he didn’t like the real, new me.  Apparently I was right.  I’m happy to say right now (this moment in time) that I can thank him for leaving.  I wouldn’t have realized so much growth had he not gone.  So, thank you, D.  I wish you well.  Really.

Now I’m going to click “publish” before I change my mind.  🙂


If you can get humor and seriousness at the same time, you’ve created a special little thing… ~ Paul Simon

My goal in life is to inject a little humor into the seriousness of getting along in a sometimes scary world.  I can remember the occasion when I realized I was doing that.  I was teaching a Spanish III class when my principal came in to do an evaluation.  I could see that he was enjoying the class but I didn’t think much of it at the time.  Later, when I read his appraisal of my teaching, I remember thinking, “Yes!  That’s exactly what I’m trying to do.”  He wrote something to this effect:  “Ms. S treats her teaching and her subject matter very seriously while using appropriate humor to make learning fun.”

Some of my happiest times are when I can make someone laugh.  On purpose.  I must say, though, that not everyone “gets” my humor.  I think I’ve finally figured out why that is.  Well, other than the fact that some people don’t have a sense of humor.  Seriously, I do think that what’s funny to me isn’t always funny to someone else.

I was in a workshop once and the facilitator divided us into groups of five.  We were then given an education “problem” to solve.  We had to put our heads together and work out a solution.  It happened that the facilitator sat down at our table to observe.  We started to talk about our little problem–I don’t remember what it was.  What I do remember is that all four of the others started with very similar ideas and I didn’t.  Compared to them, my response was from “out in left field.”  I felt like the red-headed stepchild.   The facilitator looked at me and started to laugh at my expression.  And she said to me, “These four are convergent thinkers and you are a divergent thinker.”

I was sitting there thinking, “OK, I know what convergent and divergent mean but what do they mean in terms of thinking?”  Of course, I went home and did some research.  I learned that most of us do some of both.  That convergent is more prevalent in the general population than divergent.  And that divergent is more creative.  This is over simplified but you get the idea.

This topic has fascinated me ever since that little incident.  I’m also very much interested in right brain/left brain activities.  They kinda/sorta go together, I think.  I have this theory that back in my school days, left-brain learning was preferred and encouraged by educators.  I think, too, that my brand of creativity was discouraged so I learned to do all those left-brain, nerdy activities because I didn’t have a choice.

I could go on and on about all of this plus the fact that I’m a tactile, kinetic learner and never had the opportunity to do my best learning until I left school for good.  And I’m never, ever going back!

Noisy nuisance.

I’ve been walking around for days with an eerie, other-world hum in my head.  The gentleman next door said it sounds like someone at a distance set off an alarm and he was wondering why they couldn’t get it turned off.  Others have said it sounds like something from outer space.  I’m not sure what their frame of reference is.  It’s difficult to describe.  It’s too high-pitched to be called a droning sound.  It’s not so high-pitched that it makes dogs bark in pain.  It’s constant from daylight to dark.

After a couple of days of this ubiquitous sound, I asked my daughter if she  knew what it was.  Her instant response:  “The thirteen-year cicada!”  (I don’t know how she knows these things, but she does.)  I am relieved to have a name for this puzzling phenomenon.  My next question, “How much longer?” didn’t get a very satisfactory response.  “Maybe another two weeks.”  I understand they’re harmless.  Once they’ve mated, they’ll go back underground.  I read an article in The Christian Science Monitor that said they stay underground for 17 years in the north.  Lucky northerners.

“I’ve been working on my rewrite.” ~ Paul Simon

I’ve been working on my rewrite, that’s right.  I’m gonna change the ending.  Gonna throw away my title and toss it in the trash. ~ Paul Simon

First, an aside:  Paul Simon has released a new CD called So Beautiful or So What. Rewrite is one of the songs on it.  If you’re a fan of his, you’re going to love this one.

The words to this song struck a chord with me.  (Pun intended.)  I think I’ve been working on my rewrite since D left me.  All of us who are going through major life changes are rewriting what we thought would be the ending.  I was in a comfortable situation with D and expected to live the rest of my life with him.  In the blink of an eye on December 29, 2006, that all changed.  His wish for a divorce and a life with another woman forced a rewrite.  I had no desire for that kind of change  and I resisted it with every ounce of energy in me.

I’ve always thought that change is, or can be, good.  But I’ve preferred to have some say in what sort of change I would accept.  Wasn’t I naive?  Life isn’t like that.  When I think about it, I have very little control over what happens to me.  And there’s something freeing in acknowledging that lack of control.  Life happened while I was trying to micromanage it.  Wonder of wonders, I’m happy with that now.  Learning to accept the things I cannot change is a lesson I might not have been able to truly grasp had I  not suffered through an unwanted divorce.

I’ve heard people say they wouldn’t have chosen to go through this or that pain but now that it’s over, they are grateful for it.  There was a time when I thought that was wacky thinking.  I don’t think that any longer.  In fact, I have reached a level in my life where I  can say the same thing most of the time.  I still have down days but most of them are happy and many are even joyful.  Much better than the last couple of years of my marriage.

So I’m still working on my rewrite, the ending continues to change and I’ll let you know when I figure out the new title.  I’ve already thrown the old one in the trash.

Slow and steady with a sip of water from time to time.

“To get through the hardest journey, we need take only one step at a time, but we must keep on stepping.” ~ Chinese Proverb

Whatever it is that you’re recovering from–an ism of some sort or in my case, divorce–a term you often hear is one step at a time.  I don’t believe anyone has ever mentioned how long I have to keep taking those baby steps or how many times I will slip backward and have to regroup.  Or how many times I will sidestep some of the more unpleasant aspects of recovery and then have to go back and deal with them.  I have learned, often the hard way, that I have to deal with all of it if I want to be a whole and healthy person.  This is not easy for me.

A recent incident comes to mind.  I saw my ex at a granddaughter’s athletic event.  He didn’t look well, as in unhealthy.  He looked emotionally stressed.  I am aware that he still has some difficulty as to how he’s supposed to interact with some family members.  I am  also aware that he has financial problems.  If what goes around comes around, he’s getting a heavy dose.  It doesn’t make me feel one bit better to see him this way.

Here’s my dilemma:  I wanted to protect him.  I wanted to fix him.  I wanted to reassure him and tell him everything would be okay.  Now I’m taking a step back (maybe several steps) and trying to examine this gut reaction.  My mind is going in a thousand directions.  I’m trying to remind myself of an adage I learned years ago which says (more or less):  If you do for someone what he can do for himself, you take away a piece of his dignity.  Thankfully, I didn’t do those things.  My question of wanting to do them is not about him, it’s about me.  That’s a hard pill to swallow.  It brings up many, many questions about me and my motives.  I’m not sure what all the questions are.  I certainly don’t know the answers.  I have some serious work to do.


Sage in bloom.

“Let a fool hold his tongue and he will pass for a sage.” ~ Publilius Syrus    

I think ‘old Publi’ just said that it’s impossible for me to ever be thought of as wise.  Why?  Because talk, I must.  Nowadays I do my talking via this blog and if ever a gem of wisdom comes from me, it’s probably an accident.  Yet I keep on talking.  It’s how I sort things out for myself.  Writing is how I ‘think aloud’ these days.

I’m happy to report that Publilius Syrus also said, “Speech is the mirror of the soul.”  (Incidentally, he said a lot.  He’s credited with having written many, many maxims in Latin back in the first century.)  If this second adage is true, then you may be seeing a little of my soul.  Some days you have to look harder than others.  And bearing my soul is not a part of my training.  Quite the opposite is true.  My parents told me not to “air my dirty laundry in public.”  The way I see it divorce is very dirty laundry.  But if we don’t talk about it, do we ever recover?  I don’t want to be stuck in a dirty laundry pile for the rest of my life.  Unfortunately, that does happen to some people.

So I’ll keep on writing.  And I’ll keep on reading your blogs.  I wouldn’t have imagined at my age, that knowing others who are going through the same emotions as I am, would matter.  It does.  And reading how you’re dealing with it is very helpful, too.  Knowing how you are coping halfway around the world and right in my back yard tells me that our problems and emotions are universal and that we are here to assist each other.

Thanks for writing.  Thanks for reading.  Thanks for your comments and support.  Hugs to all!  Am I a sage in bloom yet?  LOL.