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OK, so maybe it started in August and ran over a bit into October…  Here’s the rundown, and my apologies for not having blogged for so long but I think you’ll understand:

August 27th – I turn 40.  (Not entirely bad news, it’s just a number, right?)

August 30th – Our washer and dryer died.

September 1st – Our hot water heater caught on fire and needed replacing.

September 4th – I lost my job and signed up for unemployment.

September 9th – We are not eligible for food stamps.

September 13th – GOOD NEWS!   I signed up to attend a beauty school’s Nail Technician program with my husband’s somewhat skeptical blessing.  I’m tired of the office life!  I have wanted to be a Nail Technician since I was in my early 20’s but the money and the time to go to beauty school never made it to my house at the same time so to make money I did what I was best at, answering phones and office work… for 20 years…  and now the opportunity of a lifetime, a miracle has come my way!

 September 16th – MORE ABOUT THE SAME GOOD NEWS!  My first day “back to school” and it was soooo weird after over 20 years.  I brought my paper, pen and pencil and I was so excited that my girls made fun of me and I didn’t care a bit!   I should graduate sometime in January of 2014 so it’s roughly four-and-a-half months and almost every day so far has flown by – I go home feeling like I had FUN at school, I really love what I’m learning!

 September 20th – My unemployment claim was denied.  (I am appealing it.)

September 21st – Our oldest daughter turned 18 and we had this HUGE party planned for over 3 months with 10 people invited… guess who spent money, lots and lots of money, that we didn’t have?

September 24th – I lost my phone.

October 2nd – My car died.  Dead.  Seized engine dead.  Over-sized paper-weight dead.  Tacky Red Neck Lawn Art Dead.  Walk to school and be late and then wonder how I’m going to get home dead.  Dead dead.

You know, sometimes so many bad things happen in such a short amount of time that all you can do is sit back and giggle hysterically.  That’s pretty much where I’ve been.  To tell the truth I’m kind of sitting back wondering what else could go wrong and thinking I might want to grab a soda and popcorn to watch the next disaster go down…

But in spite of all that something really good that has happened through all this.  I’m actually  very happy right now, strangely happy right now given all the above circumstances.  I don’t think I need my depression pills any more kind of happy, weird huh?  Somehow, for the first time since I was a child I 100% believe that God is fully in control and everything is going to be OK.  Not Never-Going-To-Have-Another-Problem-For-The-Rest-Of-My-Life-OK but All-My-Needs-Will-Be-Met-And-Taken-Care-Of-OK.  I actually have more peace and trust in God more now than I did when I had my job and was making good money!  Have you ever heard “Blessings” by Laura Story?  I feel like I’m living it…  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1CSVqHcdhXQ  I KNOW everything is going to be OK and I haven’t felt that way for a long time.  I guess if this is what it took to get me to this amazing, emotionally stable place then I wish it would have happened earlier!

What my life looks like now:
I’m looking for a job I can do after school and on weekends.
I’m trying to get my Pampered Chef business to make us some money.  (I had two shows last month, whoo hoo!)
I’m wondering how I’m going to make up the two house payments and numerous utility bills that we’re behind on.
I’m driving the car my nearby best friend is selling me on payments.
I found a cheaper phone plan and my entire family has new phone numbers <aggravating> so now I don’t have to find my other phone, lol!
We replaced the washer and dryer with used ones but unfortunately had to buy a new hot water heater.
Starting next week I’ll be ready to give manicures and pedicures to paying customers at school now so hopefully I will start getting tips!

Life is life.  God is God.  God is bigger than Life.  Life is going to be OK.   🙂

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Finally, the day you have all (most likely) been waiting for – I grew up a little bit!

I have come to realize that my search to define myself in the last year has been both beneficial and detrimental to me.  Beneficial because I have learned a lot about who I really am, not who I want to be or think I am but who I really am.  Detrimental because during this whole time I have been so focused on myself and all my own little problems that I haven’t taken the time to really “see” other people and their struggles with their own, every-day lives.  My self-focusing has caused me to miss out on my greatest joy – helping others.

I’m a helper, always have been.  I’m a great listener, a secret-keeper, and I love to help, even to serve.  If I go to a party at your house you’re more likely to find me in your kitchen, helping bring out the food and picking up the extra dishes lying around and bringing them back to the sink.  When I help other people I feel good, I feel so good that I actually get energy from helping others and leave feeling more alive than I did when I walked in.

I’ve missed that feeling.

I’ve missed helping others walk through their problems.

I was born to help people and I’ve missed that part of being me.

When I set my focus on “finding myself” I ignored several parts of “being” myself that I already knew I loved being.

I was wrong to let those go while I was searching for “something more”.

Today I am smarter, bolder, stronger, braver and more willing to speak out against what is wrong.  But I am still compassionate, loving, kind, helpful and caring.  I had thought I couldn’t be both… but I can!

I can be frustrated and upset without worrying that I’m going to lose my salvation.  I can be kind and sweet without being a doormat.  I can understand where my husband is at emotionally and respond to him appropriately without losing my marriage.  I can survive my teen-aged daughters crazy schedules and multiple health issues without going insane. (I am, however, going broke… ugh!)  I can say no to helping people without feeling guilty when I need to step back and take care of myself.

I was created to survive and survive I shall.  Not only will I survive but I will grow and blossom right where I am.  I will not allow life’s circumstances to stop me any longer.

I purchased some little metal puzzle pieces to hang on my key-chain.  They say:  I am Valuable; I am Grateful; and I am Authentic.  They help me to remember who I am.

From now on my relationship with God is first.  Taking care of my family is second. Meeting my own needs and helping others is going to have to be a tie for third.  When I can help you I will and with joy and gladness in my heart.  If I need to rest and take care of myself I will tell you I’m very sorry but can’t help you at that moment.  And life will go on for both of us because survival is just the beginning…

Now I want to learn how to live!

Well… not really.  But Dawn is the name my mother wanted to name me and my dad said no.

I hadn’t thought about that in years – I was so young when my mom told me that I had almost forgotten it completely.  Or more like it slipped through the cracks and landed on the “Miscellaneous Trivia” pile in the back of my brain that I shuffle through from time to time, for example, the other day when I was telling my own children what their names would have been if they were a boy… and the girl’s name I wanted to use but their father told me no with both of them.

What I do remember is I was young enough that when Mom told me she wanted to name me Dawn I thought “Why would you want to give me a boy’s name?”   That was so unlike her, she was very “boys should be boys and do boy things and girls should be little ladies and do girl things” so thinking she wanted to name me “Don” really puzzled me.  It also made me wonder if she had wanted me to be a boy instead of a girl – or maybe I really was a boy but something went wrong…  I’m pretty sure this is proof that I over-think things and always have. <sigh>

It “dawns” on me that this may be one of the few things that Dad said no to that Mom actually obeyed him on… hmm…  Different blog topic there…

At any rate, I started to wonder why Mom picked the name Dawn.

No matter where you try to look it up “Dawn” means “daylight, daybreak and sunrise” pretty much everywhere.  It’s a very literal word, not a lot of hidden meanings or secret messages found there.  For symbolism it represents things like starting over, a new day, hope, end of darkness and 99.9% of the time “dawn” is associated with good things.  Just hearing the word “dawn” usually brings positive feelings, right?  Unless you’re a night owl like me and someone says “We’re leaving at dawn”.  Then I just wanna cry and it’s not because the sunrise is so beautiful…

As her first-born maybe Mom was looking at my birth as the beginning of a new chapter in her life, the start of a different way of living, change, fresh hope, something good finally coming her way…

It would seem that she most likely thought of me as her new beginning, which is both eye-opening and sobering.  I wonder if my not meeting her expectations and failing to be the perfect child led her to withdraw herself from me, making me feel unloved by her and never good enough for most of my life.  Because that’s exactly what I’ve done with my own children.  My poor girls, they probably would have been better off if I had given them up for adoption at birth, God forgive me for being such a selfish mother!

Each time I became pregnant I expected to give birth to someone who would love me unconditionally.  I thought the mother-child bond was automatic because kids love their mothers, right?  I wasn’t being loved unconditionally by my own family so I guess it was rather unreasonable to expect it from my own children.  When I finally acknowledged that my children didn’t love me the way I wanted them to and it seemed that they barely even liked me, well, I just shut down and stopped pursuing a relationship with them entirely until just about a year ago.  Now they’re both in high school and I’m trying to stop being their mother and just be their friend so that we have some sort of teeny-tiny foundational relationship to keep us in touch after they leave home.

Looking back I see that is precisely what my mother did with me.  I shouldn’t be so hard on her, she did try her best.  I never wanted to be like her but look at me now, wow…

I’m afraid it’s too late – I’m afraid that my daughters will graduate, go to college and come home for the obligatory Christmas and Thanksgiving dinners with no phone calls or emails in between.  That’s a horribly depressing thought…

I need a Dawn of my own, a new beginning, a fresh start, a clean slate, light breaking into dark places and making them bright and free.   I am Saved but what I need is a revival, a fresh awakening, a re-filling.  I need dawn to come and break the darkness in my heart.

I think maybe I failed my mother by not being her Dawn.  I wish she were still alive, I think I’m finally brave enough to talk to her about these sorts of things now.

My dawn, my sunrise is here – Jesus is my new beginning.  All I have to do is Trust and Obey, Just Keep Swimming, stop living in the past and accept the gift of still having a future.

It sounds like a dangerous title, I know, and especially given some of my previous posts about my relationship with my husband but this is actually what I say out loud to every spider I find inside my home, just before I squish them to death.  As quickly and humanely as possible, of course…

We have primarily Wolf spiders but there are also Black Widow spiders, Jumping spiders (who have really beautiful eyes when you shine a bright light on them) and all kinds of other spiders that range from litty bitty to  well over quarter-sized and each and every one of them seems to think that our home is still that awesome and amazing spider hang-out it used to be before we bought it and moved in.  This house was abandoned and vacant for over a year before it became ours so it really was The Place To Be if you had 8 legs, fangs, multiple eyes and could poo little silken threads from your backside.  It was empty for long enough that I’m sure some of the older spiders we get now days are probably thinking of our house as some sort of a historical landmark and are come back here to try to re-live the good ‘ole days in their retirement years.

But we have been here over two years and I’m still finding spiders in my bathtub, under the sinks, in the window-sills and just about any other nook and cranny they can find.  This is Not OK and I tell the spiders that repeatedly.  They either don’t listen or they don’t care.  Possibly, it’s  because they don’t understand me but I don’t think that’s really fault because after all, who speaks spider?  I would post my Spider Policy on little, tiny labels all around the house near the baseboards and under the sinks except I know for a fact that spiders don’t read so I must content myself with giving them a verbal warning and a chance to run before squishing them with my shoe or whatever else happens to be handy.  A very few number of spiders take that verbal warning and run with it.  About half of those I can still catch and kill and the other half get away… they’re getting smarter – is that a bad thing?

There is a difference between indoor spiders and outdoor spiders however.  I don’t care one whit if I see a spider outside.  That’s their environment and they’re welcome too it.  I’m an indoor gal although I make claims on very small parts of our land that lie outside the walls of our house.  Mostly it’s just the deck and the patio.  If they start intruding into those spaces I will relocate them to another part of the yard and hope they have the wisdom not to return.

There has been the rare, occasional spider, however, that we keep as a “pet”, if you will.  This spider isn’t a kind I see very often and when I try to identify it online I can never find a picture that looks exactly right.  It has a large, bulbous behind and the best ones have two points that look like little horns on the back of their bums.  This spider is usually a creamy white color and spins a typical wagon-wheel web, usually not too far from either the front or back door of the house.  When one of these spiders graces us with their presence we will name it, protect it from other people who would try to kill it and/or destroy its web and we also feed it flies and other small bugs we catch.  We’ve had several of these pet spiders since I was in high school, they don’t usually live much longer than 2 – 3 years but they seem pretty harmless and take care of a lot of bugs for us.  It’s also a great conversation starter and fun to mess with other people’s heads when they try to “save us” from the creepy spider and we try to save our spider from them.  Everybody needs a pet like that, right?

Anyway, spiders, be warned!  If I see you in my house, especially in my bathroom, You Will Die!

Yesterday morning I sat up in bed as my husband was sitting across the room putting his shoes on.  He had been withdrawn and grumpy for the last few days so, in my never-ending quest to become bolder, I simply said the words:  “Are you upset with me?”  I’m so brave, I know…

He paused and then we had a conversation where he told me:
1.  His addiction wasn’t really an addiction, it was just his attempts at filling a “hole” in his life of something he was missing and he only accepted 50% responsibility for this “hole”, the rest was my fault.
2.  He didn’t think I was a Godly Wife because I didn’t “desire” him but he couldn’t prove it because he didn’t know any scriptures to back it up with.
3.  He couldn’t believe that there was never any “attraction” between us because why else would we have stayed married all these years (almost 19) if we weren’t attracted to each other?

I felt he was angry and speaking from his heart, finally saying how he really felt so I very calmly asked some questions to clarify his statement until I was satisfied I knew what he was saying.  Be proud of me, that took A LOT of effort, just sayin’.

I rode the bus to work and started writing him a letter which I finished on a break later in the day.  I wrote about how he had brought pornography into our marriage right from the start and after just a few years we were convicted that it was wrong so “we” stopped viewing pornographic materials.  (It always made me feel so yucky inside, it wasn’t very hard for me to stop.)  I felt like I was writing with “righteous anger” and the words just poured onto the page.  I refused to accept responsibility for any percentage of this “hole” in his life that was clearly there long before I ever met him and I informed him that yes, indeed, he had an addiction and needed to admit it and defeat it.  I concluded my handwritten, 9-page letter (on 6″ x 8″ paper) by saying there were plenty of $500/month apartments near where he worked and he should go get one and be gone from our house for a minimum of one year.

My anger has changed over the years, I used to withdraw and “turtle up” until it was safe to come out again.  In my quest to “find myself” I have become a warrior, hard as a diamond and cold as the Arctic.  Don’t mess with me, I will not be your doormat anymore.

So after work I go home and immediately have a phone situation to deal with.  Almost 2 hours later I have solved one of our two problems and am sitting in the easy chair, playing Farmville2 on my laptop while my husband is sitting on the couch next to me, watching a show and reading a book, acting like everything was fine and dandy.

I have not given him the letter, wanting to write it up neatly because it was a rough draft with things crossed out and what not.  I am trying to keep my face neutral to stern, hoping he will notice and ask me what’s wrong…

It finally becomes obvious that he is not operating under the belief that our morning talk had an impact on our relationship so I finally asked him if he had any other thoughts regarding our conversation that morning.

He put his book down, sighed and said that obviously I had some thoughts about our conversation so why don’t I share them?

We wound up having a good, open, honest talk.  Maintaining my austere aloofness I asked him, point-blank if he still thought I was an Ungodly Wife and if he still believed he didn’t have an addiction.

It immediately became clear that just as I shouldn’t have any serious talks at night after I’ve taken my sleeping pills, he shouldn’t have any serious talks first thing in the morning, despite his belief that he is a morning person…

I put my newly-found sunglasses of Love and Forgiveness on while he did most of the talking and realized four very important things:
1.  My husband has absolutely no self-esteem whatsoever.  The self-talk that goes on inside his head is so cruel and negative – he almost cried while talking about it and if I wasn’t in Xena Princess Warrior mode I would have cried too, it’s horrible to imagine anybody living with that.
2.  My husband has the emotional maturity of an 8-year-old.  Seriously.  Sticks and stones can break his bones but words and dark glances will kill him.
3.  My husband is not a good communicator.  He uses words that I associate with completely different things than he does.  For example when he said I wasn’t a Godly Wife because I didn’t “desire” him I immediately thought “sex”.  He meant something more along the lines of “respect” and wanting to spend time with him… and so on.  Most likely I’m so weary of having sex all the time that I’m on the defensive, hearing and seeing “suggestiveness” in everything he says and does.  But still, what he means is not what is usually communicated to me.
4.  My husband is probably depressed and should be on medication.  He actually said the first part – that he wonders if he’s depressed.  I said let’s go to the doctor and he immediately resisted, claiming it was embarrassing enough to be going to a counselor.  I have quite a bit of Prozac left over from when my doctor switched me to another medicine so I suggested he start taking that (yes, I know, all kinds of wrong and illegal) and if after a month he felt better, then he could go to the doctor and get his own prescription and if he didn’t feel better he could stop taking them.  He said he doesn’t want to be stuck taking pills for the rest of his life…. ugh!  (This one I will win, he just doesn’t know it yet.)

So, to sum it all up, for almost 20 we’ve pretty much had the exact same needs – to be appreciated and loved/respected for who we are – but we’ve been speaking totally different languages and had completely unreasonable, and entirely unspoken, expectations regarding the other.  That, right there, changes everything…  I decide to hold off on giving him the letter.

I grew up with no self-esteem.  I started to recognize that fact it in my 20’s and have been actively working on believing that I have value for the last 10 years.  I never imagined guys would have this problem too, and especially not my macho, controlling, selfish, easily angered husband.  I had actually thought he esteemed himself too highly for all these years, if you want my honest opinion.  But last night he was broken before me, poured wide open in emotional honesty for possibly the first time in his life.

This changes the way I will talk to him – I will use simpler communication not expect him to react like a mature adult.  I will give him more encouragement and praise and ask the girls to do the same.  I will (quietly) ask men at church to encourage him and build him up.  I will wait another year to see if he improves and re-evaluate life at that time.  If he is playing me, and I’m sure some of my friends will think he is, then a year is ample time to prove himself to me one way or another.

My eyes are wide open and my heart is still going to be guarded but last night, in just a few moments of listening and hearing what he was saying, everything changed.

Am I the only one who loves the smell of fresh-ground coffee beans but can’t stand the taste of coffee?  OK, so don’t laugh but that is exactly my relationship with Organization.  I can enter an office supply store and the tension will start to drip away from me as soon as I cross the welcome mat.  I find my way to the aisle with all the different writing instruments and my shoulders unwind.  I could browse for hours in the calendars and personal organizer section because peace washes over me like I’m laying on a beach in Hawaii (although I still haven’t been there yet, I’m just imagining what it would be like).  Yes, I’ve always been a little strange…deal with it!

Like fresh-ground coffee beans I love, love, love, love the “aroma” of organization and if you show me a new gizmo or gadget that could possibly help organizes my life, well, I Want It.  And if it’s tiny, cute, navy blue and/or has butterflies on it then I Must Have It!  Basically I drool over just about anything with packaging that promises to put a framework around my crazy life and gives me and my possessions structure.  I want more shelves, bins, totes, notebooks, calendars, gidgets and gazmos… it can turn into an obsession, just like those people who bid waaaaay more than something is worth on Ebay just because they have to win.  Hmmm.  I guess there are worse fixations to have than being organized…

To be fair my office space at work is very organized to the point of impressing my managers… but of course it is, I have no children or husband at work to come behind me and mess things up just after I’ve cleaned them, eh?

However, just as I can’t stand the actual taste of coffee, having a plethora of Organizational things doesn’t mean the house – or my life outside of work – actually gets organized.  What it really means is that I now have a spare bedroom full of the cutest, tiny navy blue plastic crates imaginable; green totes I bought on clearance after Christmas; bookshelves that are full of spiral notebooks, 3 ring binders, assorted software; the closet is full of boxes, gift bags & wrapping paper, and oh yes, and I can’t forget the tote full of gifts to give for last-minute occasions…  <sigh>

Although I gave up on making “Being Organized” a New Year’s resolution quite some time ago I have several books on being organized that I read a couple times a year.  Emily Barnes and Elizabeth George are two of my favorite authors that write about organization of your time and possessions – and how to fit devotional time with God into your busy life as well.  I think it is Emily Barnes that inspired me with the quote “Something is better than nothing.  But always aim for more.”  Last year my dear little sister even bought and mailed me a book – the title is something like “Clutter’s Last Stand”. I think it’s on one of my bookshelves and I’m pretty sure I even read it.  I might have to go back and re-read that one again, hmmm.

Another excellent organizational program is The Fly Lady, an online program for people who need to learn how to clean their homes – and keep them clean.  The Fly Lady quote that has stuck with me is this:  “You can do anything for 15 minutes.”  (You have no idea how many situations I’ve applied that quote to that have nothing whatsoever to do with housework…)

But regardless of the condition of my house my heart is 100% in love with organization and someday I may get my act together enough to use all of the fabulous tools and skills I’ve gathered over my lifetime and actually have a neat and tidy home… but don’t hold your breath!

I was listening to the radio on my way home from work last night and they played a blurb about “Parenting Teenagers”, you know, one of those minute-long speeches that’s supposed to encourage you… Anyway, this guy started off with “Your Boundaries Define You” and I was immediately side-tracked away from parenting my teenagers. My Boundaries Define Me. More specifically he focused on – My Boundaries, that I set for other people not to cross, Define Me. Really. I had never thought of it that way before.

Up until that moment the word “boundaries” has always been more of a negative word meaning places I can’t go, things I can’t do or limitations placed on me by society/other people. I never imagined I could set boundaries on myself for other people to deal with…

So what are healthy boundaries for an almost 40-year-old woman?  What are appropriate boundaries for a husband and wife?  What are good boundaries for the mother of late-high schoolers?  I feel like I need to quick, come up with a boundary just so I have one…

<thoughtful silence>

Nope… nothing…  My mind is completely blank.  Why has it never occurred to me before this that it is OK to have rules about how other people can interact with me?  Maybe assertive people are better about having boundaries – I’ve been trained too long to hold my peace and not to fight for myself.

Hmmm…

This one is going to take some more time, I’m still trying to accept the feeling that it’s OK to have boundaries for myself.  And I’ll probably need to research what other people have as their personal boundaries because I still can’t think of anything, not anything at all except the awe and wonder of the thought that I am worth having a boundary or two of my own…

The Whole “I Love You”… Thing

My teenagers are a sophomore and a junior and I’m noticing that everybody, I mean EVERYBODY in high school, including my two daughters, are saying “I Love You” to everybody else. Everybody else that is, except their sister and parents. What’s all that about, seriously?

Guys say it to girls seemingly regardless of whether or not they are The Girlfriend and I myself have witnessed several studly, 18 year olds shout out “I Love You Man!” to other teenaged guys. These same young men will pack at least one more body onto my sofa than it is designed for and all sit there, jammed in like sardines but grinning like the Cheshire cat and pretending to be just as cozy as can be, some with their arms around the other’s shoulders and sometimes there’ll be one or two guys sitting on another guy’s lap. I see strong indications that the Personal Bubble space has shrunk in this last generation and is all but ready to pop! And thankfully, the message seems to finally getting through that Real Men can hug and say “I Love You” without losing their Man Card, yay!

Today’s teenaged girls seem to be on the same page because they not only say “I Love You” to their girlfriends, they also write it, and sing it and my girls in particular like to shout “I Love You” from the open window of my car at anyone they see and might possibly know (and that’s only a slight exaggeration) as I’m driving them home from a school function. I’ve heard girls say “I Love You” to guys where there is no Girlfriend/Boyfriend relationship there. I hear my daughters say “I Love You” at the end of nearly every phone conversation and in-person goodbyes, IT’S EVERYWHERE! Either this generation is a bunch of first class saps or maybe they’re on to something…

To quote the Princess Bride: “You keep using that word, I do not think it means what you think it means…” We all know words change in meaning as cultures change, for example to be “gay” used to mean you were happy and now it has a homosexual connotation. So has “I Love You” changed in meaning as well? Or maybe I never learned the true meaning of love in the first place.

I grew up thinking there were two kinds of love – romantic love between a husband and a wife and family love between parents and children. Anything else seemed to be wrong. (Yes, the more I write about my childhood the more I realize it was pretty screwed up and heavily contributes to the mental mess I am today. Thanks Mom.) Needless to say my growing-up years saw very few hugs, kisses or touching of any kind that was not discipline and I’m struggling to remember my mother ever saying “I Love You”. Once I turned 17 my mother seemed to see that something was wrong with me and she started to say “I Love You” and tell me that I was pretty but by then I didn’t believe her.

To have feelings of “love” for my best friend in high school meant, to my mother, that I was on the verge of becoming a lesbian. I don’t think I ever told Mom that sometimes we would hold hands, hug each other or wrap our arms around each other’s waists just to be affectionate. As much as I craved the physical affection and desperately needed it – I felt evil for participating. My best friend from high school is still my best friend now and to this day I have a hard time saying “I Love You” to her in our phone conversations even though she’s always saying it to me. I am so grateful she’s hung in there despite over 20 years of my crazy weirdness in trying to figure myself out. I wasn’t very nice to her sometimes and she just stood back so I could work things out and when I finally looked up she was right there, waiting for me to be ready to be friends again. Girl, I know you’ll be reading this – I Love You!

I have one more best friend, unfortunately I moved 8 hours away from my high school best friend so while we have great phone conversations we don’t get to see her much. My “new” best friend is a gal I used to work with and we’ve been friends now for just over two years…wow it seems like longer than that though! She is only about a half an hour from me and we try to hang out as often as we can. I love her too.

I’m afraid I’ve become far more like my mother than I intended to. I don’t say “I Love You” to my children nearly as much as I should – although I saw it far more than it was said to me. I try to give hugs to them but it still seems so foreign to me, almost wrong, because that’s not how I grew up. All I can do at this point is pray that when they’re parents they do better with their kids than I did with them. I think that’s every parent’s prayer for their kids.

I used to say “I Love You” to my husband all the time, hoping desperately that he would say it back and believing that if I said it enough with my mouth that my heart would start to feel it. Neither happened. The people who say that love is a choice are correct. I have chosen to stay with my husband of almost 19 years because I made a commitment to him at our wedding ceremony and it’s the right thing to do. I choose to love him by staying in this marriage and by trying to make our house a home. I do not have feelings of love for him and as far as I can tell he feels something that he thinks is love for me but cannot properly express it. I’ve always been a good girl and tried to do the right thing and so I will stay with him.

As far as the whole high school fad of saying “I Love You” to anyone and everyone I’m thinking I approve. At least their hearts seem to have something in them and they are getting affection from their peers. May their lives be fuller than mine!

OK, so I went shopping this afternoon while my Sweet Tooth was in high gear…bad news! The old saying “Never Shop Hungry” has once again proved itself to be pretty darn accurate because guess what I walked out of the store with? (Ummm, and that would be for just me – not to share with my family…yes, I’m a bad Mommy.)

From the Bulk Foods section:
About 1 pound of: Skittles, Jelly Bellies and M & Ms
About ½ pound of: Butter Mints, Gummy Grapefruit slices, Orange Cream Drops with Almonds and Lemon Cream Drops with Almonds

From the Chip Aisle:
Carmel Bugles

From the Soda Aisle:
1 Two-liter of generic Dr Pepper

From the little coolers by the checkout stands:
1 Cold 20 oz carbonated Cascade Ice, Mixed Berry flavor

So roughly five pounds of bulk candy, 1 bag of sweet & salty chips, a 2-liter of soda and a 20 oz soda. Hmmm… I think I’m in trouble.

After making my purchases, I then went to church and only had enough time to try 1 Orange Cream Drop with Almonds and 1 Lemon Cream Drop with Almonds. Essentially they are an almond coated with white chocolate with an outer layer of the citrus flavor. They were not too bad but I wished they had a stronger fruit flavor.

Church was a special service to dedicate our newly-remodeled building (during which I drank most of my Cascade Ice, it was more tart than sweet, sad…) followed by finger-foods in the fellowship hall.

Although I have been very proud of myself for losing 35 pounds in the last 14 months I probably gained most of it back tonight, ugh! I ate a Costco roll with a bacon-sized slice of brisket, a second Costco roll plain, about 4 each of celery sticks and cucumber slices, 3 slices of a brown-skinned pear that I’ve never had before, (it had a good flavor but was really crunchy like an apple), a couple of good-sized dollops of a fantastic ranch dressing, about 10 slices (2” x 2”) of cheese, 3 servings of rhubarb crisp and 1 oatmeal raisin cookie.

We came home and I had a handful of the Orange & Lemon Cream Drops with Almonds with one of my daughters. I am content…and full. I think I’ll go to bed now, good night!

Memories are glimpses in the mirror of what is past. My memory feels fractured – I only have bits and pieces that I don’t think about much anymore, some parts of my life I can’t remember at all.  Call it what you will – old age, self-protection or just having an unimpressive childhood but it may be helpful to write them down so here goes:

“I’m at a party, it’s my party – a birthday party!  There were lots of kids there and we played games. But I’m sad because all of the other children got a present..and I didn’t.”  I’ve been told that this party was for my 2nd birthday so that should make it my oldest memory.  I was also told that I received all kinds of presents at that party and the other kids were given some sort of treat bag as they left with a box of crayons inside and probably some candy.  Fascinating what the mind latches on to – I wonder what Freud would make of that memory?

Speaking of parties, my mother used to make fun cakes for my birthday parties – the cake I remember the most was a Raggedy Ann cake, she cut the cake into the shape of a Raggedy Ann doll and then frosted it with the most wonderful frosting and then decorated it with candy to look like the clothing.  I want to say that it was around my 7th birthday that she made that cake – somewhere I may even have a picture of it, but I’ll have to look.

As an early grade-schooler I adored Native Americans, although back then we just called them Indians and nothing disrespectful was meant by it.  I grew up in Montana and I thought their darker skin and black hair made them the most beautiful people I’d ever seen.  We operated a family business and went to Pow Wow’s, selling our wares, and I was able to see the dances and hear the drums beat late into the night, those were some of my favorite times.  In spite of being a tow-head I desperately wanted to be an Indian.  I learned how to walk softly and with the exception of a short period of high school where I wore heels all the time, I really dislike shoes that make a lot of noise with every step.  I checked out books from the library and learned that Indians in California ground up acorns and ate them…so I did too!  They didn’t taste very good though, even after I put salt on the mash.  I learned about beading and traditional clothing, how to make moccasins from deer skin, hunting with a bow and arrow, how to make a fire, tanning hides, how to set up a teepee and as many other things that traditional Indians did as I possibly could.  I refused to have my hair cut more than just a trim and I frequently wore either two long braids hanging over my shoulders or one long braid down my back.  When my two brothers and I would play outside we were constantly playing Cowboys and Indians and I was always the Indian.  We moved to another state before I completed grade school and for years I keenly missed the rustic Montana atmosphere and seeing Indians everywhere.

One Christmas I woke up extra early and went to gaze at the tree with it’s lights glowing softly in the dark living room.  Back then the lights didn’t twinkle or change colors, they just were on or off but I loved to sneak out of my room in the night and sit and stare at the tree…  Anyway, back to my story, I woke up extra early and in my tree-gazing I noticed a piece of paper on the tree.  What?  Why is there paper on the tree?  “It probably needs to be thrown away”, was my first thought so I took it off the tree ad noticed there was writing on it.  It was a note telling me to go look in the silverware drawer…  Very, very quietly I followed all of the notes until they led me to a bicycle under the basement stairs – I was so (quietly) excited!  And then I realized, oh crap, I’ve totally ruined the surprise.  I put as many of the notes back as I could find, I lost one or two somewhere along the way, and snuck back into bed until it was a more decent hour to get up and open Christmas presents.  Then I had to do it all over again, find this note and then that note, go here and go there, and where on earth were all the notes hidden?  I couldn’t remember so I looked in several cupboards and drawers hoping my parents wouldn’t remember where they hid all the slips.  Finally I made it back down to the basement and “found” the bike, yay!  I did not fool my mother, however.  She could tell that I wasn’t as happy or surprised as I should have been and she asked me later if I had found the bicycle before they got up.  I had to tell her yes, because that was the truth, and she was not very pleased.

In that same house we had one of those weight-loss gimmicks, some sort of vibrator belt.  You stood next to the machine and put a thick, canvas-type belt around your waist and backed up enough so that the belt was taut and then you turned it on…and jiggled all over.  My brothers and I thought it was great fun to talk, sing, laugh and what not while we had the bet turned on because it made our voices all funny.  I think we mostly told jokes while we were on the belt.

My brothers didn’t like playing Barbie with me so I usually wound up playing whatever boy game they wanted to play…but sometimes they would play Barbies with me.

I was maybe 10ish and mad at my parents so I thought I would run away, but I didn’t have any money.  My next oldest brother had $10 and I tried to get him to run away with me so we would have that $10, which I thought would be plenty of money get by on, but he wouldn’t do it… he wouldn’t go with me and he wouldn’t loan me the money… so I didn’t run away.

There was an Italian Plum tree in the yard and once they had ripened our mother would tell us to go eat plums if we complained we were hungry and wanted a snack.

Several years in a row I went and spent a whole month each summer with a couple at church who were old enough to be my grandparents.  They had a granddaughter from California that would come spend the summers with them and they brought me over as a playmate.  I don’t remember her name anymore but I remember all the fun we had, going to the creek, reading books, playing games and sleeping outside in mummy bags next to a fire.  Those times hold a very special place in my heart.

Well, that was easier than I thought it would be, and I still have more memories to share!  Enough for tonight, I need to go get my beauty sleep…  Sweet dreams to all and to all a good night!