Monday, May 28, 2012

Being Grateful

Our hometown is San Clemente, CA where we share our streets with a lot of very vibrant, very young Marines.  These eager young people come here from all over the country, training to be strong warriors for our nation and yet, so many of them have the baby faces of kids, barely out of high school.   In the heart of our hometown there is a small downtown area which houses several small barber shops and if you were to pass by one of these shops on any given day, you would see the faces of these young people, bodies draped with smocks while receiving touch-ups on their short, military regulated style haircuts.  It never, ever fails to strike me that most of these individuals are just kids.  Just young people who are the same ages as my four girls who are 18, 20, 22, and 24.  It is quite sobering to consider the strength of character and courage that is must take to leave your home, leave your family and friends, leave your childhood dog, to embark upon a journey which most certainly will place you within harm's way.  And yet, these young men and women do this voluntarily.  There is a lot that can be said for teenagers these days.  Too many television shows about being pregnant and 16.  Too many kids leading undirected, floundering lives because of parents who do not care enough to be home when their child arrives home from school at the end of the day.  Too many material advantages.  But, when you live in an area in which there is a strong military presence, you get to witness another side of things.  You get to see young people, teenagers really, bearing the countenance of something much more stoic and  noble because they are representing this great country and even at their very young ages, they understand the responsibility that comes along with that.  

Mark and I often see our young Marines down at the local Denny's or IHOP.  Most recently, we encountered four young men getting out of a taxicab to go eat a meal at the local IHOP and it struck me that these guys were willing to spring for a taxi in order to enjoy a meal that most likely, reminded them of something that they might do in their own hometowns.  As Mark opened my car door so that I could hop in, he pulled some money out of his pocket and then followed these young men back inside.  I watched as Mark put his hand on one of the young men's shoulders and talked to the group for a moment.  I then observed as prideful smiles came over their faces and they backed up a bit in sort of a thank you, but no thank you sort of way.  A bit of discussion ensued and finally, I watched as Mark slipped the money into one of the young men's palms.  We drove away knowing that we had just taken care of the sons of four families of whom we were very grateful to for sharing them with this great nation.  It was the very least that we could do.  Living in this town, this is something that we get the great opportunity to do quite often and it is our honor, a very big honor.

As we go through this Memorial Day enjoying family, friends and good times, I hope that more people will take the time to stop and remember the young people who are serving our country.  They are the sons and daughters of brave families who cherish them enough to allow them to become warriors so that we can all feel safer.  If you have the opportunity to buy a meal for a member of our armed services, do it.  If not, think about making a donation to an organization that supports these courageous individuals.  It is up to all of us to make these young men and women feel appreciated and supported.  And next time you encounter a member of our armed services in a grocery store or an airport, say thank you and watch as they take your appreciation in.  It will mean as much to you as it does to them.

Happy Memorial Day, friends.

Friday, May 18, 2012


Sometimes it isn't only what is in the forefront that might make you smile.  It's what lies a few feet beyond that really makes you giggle.

This weekend, remember to keep your eyes open to it all.

Hugs and love,

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Levity, Lessons and Love

For those of you who have been visiting my little blog spot in Etherland for awhile, you might actually recognize the man in the lobster shirt with the Shitzu on his head.  For anyone else who might have just happened by while innocently looking up information on Shitzus first off, I apologize.  The dog likes it up there, he really does.  Second, allow me to introduce my father and my dog-brother.  No, I was not adopted(although my dog-brother was) and yes, my daughters think that I am just as much of a nut as their grandfather is only when he does things the girls think that they are much, much funnier than when I do them.  Pop-Pop gets all the laughs and I mostly get the eye-rolls.(Must be a generational thing, I am looking forward to my future grandchildren.)
When my father and my step-mom first adopted this little guy, his name was Augustus or Auggie for short.  Very befitting for a Shitzu residing in Palm Springs.  After a few days, they realized that he was more like a battering-ram on four short legs than a sophisticated little dumpling so they started calling him Rambo.  And as incongruous as the name Rambo and those beautiful eyelashes are, the name really suits him.  He follows our father around like an enormous watchdog would, barking at anything that he perceives as danger.  He recently received a new sister named Lizzie.  She is a wire-haired Dachshund.  She might need some doggie Prozac.  She makes Rambo look very, very calm.  Very calm.
But of course, then there is my human family.  This includes both my children and,

their grandfather, my father.

There is a sign that I have hanging up in our mountain house.  It says, "My family tree is full of nuts."  This is not a figure of speech in my case.

Over the course of the past several years, I have boiled most of those nuts down to the good kind because unfortunately, I also have my share of the other kind.  The kind that will constantly give you indigestion and heartburn all the while expecting a pass-go pass for forgiveness.  Which is something that I do: forgive.  Sadly, forgiveness cannot always include a free pass on forgetting which is something that they also expect without repercussions.  They seem to confuse the two, and up until fairly recently, I had a difficult time with the concept as well.  I not only forgave the abhorrent behavior but tried my best to forget about it, too.  But I think that this is just one of the many lessons that I am here to learn and for the most part, it is a good one for me because I am getting it.  I can forgive without trying to forget.  It is actually quite important to remember.  It breaks my heart more to move ahead in these stale relationships that cause me more pain than pleasure.  I think it is time for someone other than myself to put actual effort in to learning from life and then using those lessons to improve upon how the behaviors might adversely affect somebody else.  Patterns are very difficult to break, but if everyone involved continues dancing the same dance, then nothing will ever change.  Nothing will ever improve.  Nothing will be learned.  And nothing will be gained.
So, I am learning to embrace the "nuts"  who are willing to grow along with me, while distancing myself from the ones who leave a horribly bitter taste in my soul.  I mean, I enjoy pecans.  Walnuts, not so much.  So instead of continuing to add walnuts to my brownies, I might add some extra pecans.  Makes sense, yes?
A couple of weeks ago, we went out to Palm Springs to spend the weekend with my dad for his birthday.  Living two hours away from each other is hard and although we speak on the phone almost everyday, we do not get to see each other nearly enough.
We all arrived on different days and at different times, but everyone made it and we had a really nice trip.  My dad can make me laugh harder than anyone else in this world.  Not only that, he is as intelligent and as big-hearted as a man can be.  He mentors my daughters as if they are his own and motivates them to do things that Mark and I could never convince them of.(Once again, that generational thing.)  Would you believe me if I told you that he has several projects going on right now, one being that he is seriously considering opening up a college in China???  Who does that?  Who even believes that they are capable of doing that?  This man's mind is never, ever at rest.  Lordy, lordy...
Angel Daughter Number Two and Joshua drove out to join us on Saturday and stayed with my dad and Rita.  The rest of us stayed at the beautiful La Quinta resort across the street from their house.  We like it there and we can bring our thirteen year old pup, Becca, so it works out perfectly.  Becca is getting to the point in her life(and mine) where I do not feel comfortable leaving her with anybody else so we just set her up in the backseat and take her along.  Makes me happy, happy.
The girls adore their grandma Rita so much.  Twenty-five years ago when our oldest Angel Daughter was born, my step-mom felt like she was too young to be called "grandma" so the girls all called her Rita.  Now, she loves it because when she goes out with them, people think that she is their mother.  She now readily admits that she is their grandmother and qvells(Yiddish for "bubbles over with joy") when people don't believe it.  Too, too cute!  The girls absolutely love going into Rita's closet and coming out with all sorts of goodies that she doesn't wear anymore.  How many grandmothers can claim that?
Three generations.  This is what makes me happy.

I had to share a photo of a Palm Springs traffic-jam.  When Mark pulled up behind this golf-cart, I couldn't resist snapping some photos.  Yup, life is hard in my father's neighborhood.
On our way home from Palm Springs, I am always fascinated by the miles and miles of desert covered in windmills which seem to magically sprout up from the mostly baron land.  Leave it up to human ingenuity to take advantage of a natural resource that cannot be seen(the wind), and utilize it to create power for thousands and thousands of homes.  Something from what seems to be nothing.  There is so much beauty in the thought of that.


I am grateful to everyone who follows my blog either silently(I can feel your presence but don't be shy, say hello sometime:)), or those of you who have become my dear friends.  Thank you for all of the comments and e-mails and phone calls(Hi Nessie!) that you left for me after my previous post.  At first, I considered not writing anything at all about what I was going through, but then I decided that it was important for me to be authentic about my life when I write here because that is why I write here.  Life is messy sometimes and that goes for every life.  The object is to learn from both the wonderful times and the messy ones.  Things are better now.  I was able to verbalize the truth about what I was really going through over the course of the past four plus years since Robert's death, culminating in a pretty bad depression during the past few months or so to my husband, Mark.  In doing so, I have also come to terms with something that was pretty damn hard to admit.  I have been in a pretty big hole for awhile now.  I did not write much about the court case seeking visitation with my nieces after it ended a few months ago.  I thought that I would be able to handle the verdict regardless of what it was.  I thought that if a judge told me that I have no rights to my deceased brother's children, that I could accept it and move right along with my life.  I thought that I had properly grieved for my brother.  The truth is that what I should have known is that that was a bunch of crap.  I didn't consider that I would actually have to grieve the loss of my two nieces in the event that the court case did not end in my favor.  Unexpected feelings sucked me into a place of isolation which in turn, caused my physical pain levels to soar, which in turn spiraled my entire body into a flare.  My family, not really understanding what I was going through, made some major assumptions because those assumptions would have actually been much easier to deal with than depression, especially because I have never been seriously depressed before.  I am a very happy person and even though I have difficult days, essentially, I snap out of it very quickly. I don't think they knew what to do with me.  They did what they thought they needed to do and for that, I love them.

I am feeling much better now because I was able to acknowledge and in turn, got Mark to understand that what I was going through was profound sadness.  I have taken some steps toward healing but this will take some time.  There is no time table for grief.  There are still some things that I feel that I have to do before I can move ahead such as visit my brother's gravesite for the first time since the day of his funeral.  I know that his soul is often with me, but I can no longer use that as an excuse for not visiting the place where his body will forever remain.  I have been examining the reasons that I have stayed away and it is now time for me to go whether alone or with my husband.  I am not sure what I will feel after doing this, but it is something that I must do.  It is only right.

So here I sit, in a place of acceptance, forgiveness and contemplation and I am doing okay.  I am proud of myself for being a strong woman just as my grandmothers and great-grandmothers were.  There is a very tough gene residing someplace within my body and I am pretty sure that this gene has been inherited by my four beautiful daughters.  I mean, I may not agree with the way that they went about doing things, but I admire them for doing something.  I admire them for being proactive.  I admire them for not giving up on their momma.   It is an odd feeling knowing that one's own children are turning into adults right before their eyes and it is new territory for all of us.  If I have taught my girls nothing else, at least I know that there is one thing that I have taught them for sure, to lean on one another and to stick together when life gets messy.  Because it is so much easier to clean things up when you share the job with someone else whose motives are in line with your own.

Wishing you peace, my friends.

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