I haven’t always been grateful for my life and I still struggle with being thankful for a life that isn’t what I wanted, or imagined it would be. The good news is, I’m finding when I stop “doing” and focus on “being”, I can catch some much-needed moments of peace.
It’s easy for me to get caught up in my “to do” list and finding worth in the number of items I cross off it. After going to the grocery store and putting the groceries away (crossed that off my list!) I decided to take a few minutes and rest on my front porch. The sun had already set, but darkness hadn’t taken over yet. The wind chimes hanging over the edge of the deck made beautiful music, which helped me relax in the moment.
My gaze went past my feet propped on the railing and through the thick tree branches. Instead of dwelling on the things that bring me down, my thoughts went to what is good. In those minutes alone- taking in the breeze, listening to wind chimes, as the light gave way to darkness, I became conscious of the thought that I was thankful to have a house with a deck, with beautiful trees in front of me. I looked to my left and saw my continuing project.
And then I thought how thankful I was to have the money to pay for the rocks. I don’t have the money to pay someone to move it for me, but that’s okay. At least I am able to do it myself. Look at that, another item for my mental after-sunset “thankful” list!
It was after 8pm when I went inside. I debated about whether to fix something for dinner. Since it’s just me and I didn’t have the kids, I decided to be cat-like in my choices…
… since no one was looking, I had an ice cream sandwich for dinner. I don’t eat those often, so it sure was yummy (and I can be thankful that I can work it off tomorrow!) Not even the prospect of getting outside by 6am to make the rock pile smaller dampened my mood.
Maybe it’s the Friday Effect (no work for 2 days) or maybe I’m finally seeing a shaft of light at the end of my long, dark tunnel. Either way, I’ll take it 🙂
A few weeks ago, I wrote about an uplifting experience as I began to carry out my younger son’s vision of helping the homeless.
As usually happens with my life, the “awwww, that was great moment” has turned into “awwww, what the &%$* happened??!” Just like with my marriage, hindsight reveals exactly where I went wrong. Yep, I know precisely why that feel-good train jumped the track and now I’m left pinned beneath a mountain of guilt, picking off the shards of good intentions stinging my skin.
Here’s what went down…
Nine days after meeting Lynn, I got a call. They were cold, broke and needed to heat the tent I bought them. Her husband had started work, but hadn’t gotten paid yet. I went to them, my younger son came along since he was on winter break. She said they had contacted churches in the area looking for a sleeping bag, but there weren’t any (I know, that was a hint… I sidestepped several along the way.)
Anyway, after buying enough propane to heat their tent for a few days, we ended up at Wal-Mart to get her a hat to keep her ears warm. That turned into getting some hand warmers… then a sleeping bag… then a no-contract phone and a $45 one-month plan…vodka… a pack of cigarettes… and I don’t remember what else. Afterwards, I drove them to their campsite and they showed us their tent. I had already decided I wasn’t comfortable with how freely she asked for stuff. As we left, she pulled me aside and asked if I would check pawn stores for an acoustic guitar she could give her husband for Christmas.
Yeah, that was it. In that moment, the doors of the Bank of Me officially closed.
But wait, there’s more! (My life is like a ridiculous late-night infomercial.)
Two days later, she left three “urgent” voice messages asking me to come get her. They had stayed in a hotel the night before at $70 a night, they had to be out by 11am, they had no money and no one else to call. I didn’t call back, but did send her a text later in the day to let her know my aunt had passed away and I was dealing with family stuff so I couldn’t help her.
A couple days later, another message. This one, just asking about Christmas. I sent a text back (with the photo I’d taken of her and her husband) and wished her a merry Christmas and joy in 2017. I thought that was closure and the end of it because that picture was the only thing I promised her.
I was wrong. I’m getting used to being wrong.
On New Year’s Eve, she sent a text asking how I was. Again, I wished her a much better year in 2017. She thanked me, said she was praying for me, and mentioned she was cold. (Another hint). She left three voice mail messages on Monday, which I did not respond to. The last one, at almost 11pm. Then, she sent a text at 2am. Then around lunchtime on Tuesday, she send a text asking how I was. I finally responded several hours later that I was fine, but had a cold so I rested when I wasn’t working. I ended it with, “take care”. She replied that she was praying for me and trying to stay warm (ah, yes, yet another hint.)
I know you’re probably wondering why I don’t just tell her to leave me alone (my best friend sure is!) Simple… I don’t want to be mean. I have compassion for her because her life is difficult at the moment. I don’t wish anything bad to happen to her and truly hope things turn around in her life. It makes me sad if a stranger really is her only “go to”. My older son asked why I don’t just block her number. Smart boy. I’ve thought of that, but I won’t because I find human behavior fascinating, and I need to know how this plays out.
I can imagine what you must be thinking…. So you endure the harassment so you can “study” human nature? That’s like dropping a brick on your foot to see what happens. That’s twisted!
Yeah, it’s kind of messed up. But, in my defense, I don’t hide the fact I’m not normal. Not only do I find the not-so-subtle hints interesting (it’s less presumptuous to hint until someone offers rather than straight-out asking for something), I am curious about my own reactions and responses as well.
After 43 years, I know a few things about myself. Like, I will give up something so someone else doesn’t have to. Although life isn’t fair, I do my best to be fair. I will befriend someone that no one else will, because everyone should have a friend (that has bitten me in the behind more than once.) Often I do things I don’t want to because I’d rather take on something rather than burden someone else.
Do you see a trend here?
I do. And I know what happens…eventually: my toilet gets full and I have to flush it. (Ironically enough, that statement came from my ex, when talking about his mother… that’s another story for another time!)
I’m realizing that like flowers attract bees, giving invites takers. I need to know that I can be be assertive enough to communicate “I’m done” if I feel used and my hints continue to be ignored. I must find out if I can abide by my gut feeling that she’s trying to take advantage of my kindness and not cave to guilt (because I have a roof over my head).
Most of all, I have to know that I can deliver a kind but firm “no” and not apologize for it instead of allowing myself to be a dumping ground.
This experience has changed me in ways I didn’t anticipate, but that seems to be how God teaches. I will continue to keep my heart and eyes open to help those in need. However, in the future, my name will be fictitious. And, under no circumstances, will I provide my phone number (or that of any former friends).
I may not be normal, but I’m not completely stupid, either!
I love Christmas. The strings of colorful lights… the tree decked out with 20 years of keepsake ornaments… the food (especially chocolate!) What I don’t love is the commercialized nature of Christmas. I don’t “buy” into the need for the latest expensive gadget or the need to rack up a credit card balance that I will be paying on through Independence Day (oh, the irony!)
I decided to have some fun (my 14-year-old said that couldn’t be done!) and share my cats-view of Christmas through more photos of some of my kitties. So, if you don’t like cats… or Christmas… or humor, then this isn’t the post for you 🙂
This time of year, just a few shopping days til Christmas, stores perpetuate the need to shop by opening their doors 24-hours a day. I imagine at this point, if you’re still convinced that the joy of Christmas can be put on a credit card, things might get a little “strained.” <groan>
Sometimes we’re too focused on the next “to-do” that we don’t realize the “purr-fect” gift is right under our noses… perhaps our time is more valuable than anything we can buy?
I’m guilty of looking for some sense of control in a world that feels so out of control, but it gets to the point I give up, and accept that all the pieces may not come together as I planned.
Now, by give up, I don’t mean that I cease to care about anything. It’s more about weighing the best use of my time. So, instead of joining the masses spending money, I stay in and organize something, write something, or go for a hike. I could also choose to enjoy the kitties, or load the dishwasher… or in this case, both!
Whatever your views of the holiday season, I think we can all agree that when it gets too much, it’s nice to take a break… to stay in bed late and seek out our inner cat.
Early Saturday morning, I arrived to pick up my sons from an overnight scout “lock in”. The assistant scout master exited the doors as I started up the steps.
“They’ll be a bit longer. They’re doing women’s work,” he said.
“Oh, so they’re inside fixing stuff?” I responded.
“No, they’re cleaning.”
I bit my tongue and continued walking, but his comment irked me. Mostly because I don’t believe he was joking. When we first moved to town and joined the group three years ago, he dropped an armful of towels and washcloths in front of me and made a comment about me doing women’s work while I waited.
The thing is, even when I was married, I either took care of things myself or paid someone to do it. My ex wasn’t at all interested in that kind of thing, and I can’t see paying someone to do something I can do myself. I know my limitations, though. I hired a professional to trim a 30-foot tall tree with limbs hanging over my roof. I paid someone to clean out all of the gutters. I have a plumber in my address book; I don’t do plumbing!
Here are some of my more recent projects:
If the assistant scout master possessed a kernel of intelligence, I would’ve explained that women are capable of much more than folding towels and sweeping floors. To me, “women’s work” is whatever needs to be done, whether it requires a screwdriver, drill, sewing machine or paint.
And I’m willing to bet my “skills” are much more varied than Mr. Macho Man 🙂
But the thing about happiness is it’s easily marred by external factors, as illustrated by this text exchange with my friend.
Me: <sending above picture> Check this out, all 4 cats on me
Friend: I’m jealous
Me: Don’t be… I have to pee and my back hurts 🙂
And just like that, a cozy situation becomes uncomfortable (literally!)
This is why I prefer to seek joy. Joy exists deep inside and can’t be stolen through discomfort or struggle.
Now, for a bit of Lucy.
Lucy is my more adventurous kitten (sometimes she’s lovingly referred to as “trouble”). When I introduced an activity cat feeder designed to slow their feeding down, my two older cats gave me a you-can’t-be-serious look and sauntered (waddled) away. Lucy, on the other hand, jumped right in. When sticking her head in the tunnels didn’t work, she finally figured out to use her paw and was rewarded with first dibs on the kibble.
One thing I love about Lucy is she plays hard and takes investigation to an all new (sometimes frustrating) level, but when it’s time to rest, she knows how to do it right. And for me, that is pure joy 🙂
I started this blog to document my journey and to keep the search for who I am from slipping onto the proverbial back burner. Honestly though, it’s not always about me. Some days (weeks) it’s about what others need from me. One son needs me to get him from band practice or take him to the store. My other son needs me to listen to him talk about cars, watch a TV show with him, and watch his archery tournament. My job needs me to get stuff done in a timely manner, with few errors and to meet deadlines. Sometimes, “me” just has to wait.
When I can’t focus on rediscovering my passions (my reasons to wake up each day), it’s nice to have a diversion in the form of cats. The two older cats of the house are well-behaved (notice I didn’t say “well-trained” because I’m not convinced a cat can be trained, and if they can, I doubt I have the skills to pull it off.)
Of the two kittens I brought home a month ago, I’ve seen that one is by far more curious; she is the one leading her sibling into mischief. Lucy is the adventurous kitty’s name, as given by the Humane Society. I’m not inclined to change it, because it makes me smile. She makes me think of Lucy Ricardo in I Love Lucy, how she always seemed to get herself into trouble of some kind, in such funny ways.
My kitten, Lucy, makes me wish I could say “Lucy, you have some ‘splainin to do” in a thick Cuban accent. Here is some of what Lucy has been up to over the last two days. (Oh, she is a busy, busy kitty!)
In the days that follow, I would like to be a little more like Lucy. I want to find a new place to relax and enjoy the view. I want to be curious about the world around me and see everyday things with new eyes.
And I want to do it all anyway- even if someone tells me “no!” in a loud voice and sprays me with water.
I washed a couple loads of laundry yesterday (not exactly a joyful thing). I left the dryer door open while I hung clothes in my closet and I came back to find a little more than a few pairs of pajamas and socks:
I laughed when I saw the kittens’ solution to a chilly day. Luckily I was done running the dryer, but I always check the washer and dryer because of a co-worker’s horror story about one of her wiener dogs who climbed into the washer when she went to grab one more towel to wash. He was discovered before the spin cycle and, thankfully, he survived and didn’t suffer any permanent damage. (However, he still tries to climb into the washing machine, so his intelligence level is questionable 🙂 )
I have had the kittens nearly a month now and I already couldn’t imagine not having them. How quickly I get attached. Now, with the four felines in the house, I can say I have four joyful things for today instead of two!