Monday, February 28, 2011
I do the best that I can.
Is that enough? If you consider my 'best' compared to someone else's 'best' and their best is better than mine, does that make me bad?
Of course not.
The 20 year anniversary of my father's death recently came and went and apparently, I was supposed to not only notice it, but DO something, I guess. Hmmmm....
While I certainly do not harbor anger or a lot of hurt regarding him anymore, I really don't see a pressing need to go stand at a grave site and say a bunch of stuff that I'm just not feeling yet, either. Glorifying someone who is dead really isn't my gig. No matter HOW GOOD they were. They pass, I'm sad, I say prayers for them and think of them. Their dust is the only thing left in the grave - why go there? I don't get that, but it's probably just me. I certainly do not ridicule those who choose to go do that sort of thing, but don't expect to see me there.
At Christmas, one of my favorite aunts made a remark to my daughter about my father being the "best brother in law ever". She set her jaw and her lips like she does when she's angry. But she didn't say flip to me about it. I don't even know how he came up - my daughter said it just came out of the blue.
Those of you who know me or who've read my blog much know that it wasn't peaches and cream with my dad. I didn't have an idyllic childhood. Once he passed, my brother and I both felt like we could trust the rest of our family with this secret and guess what? We were chastised.
I stopped talking and got on with my life - such that it was.
Two of my cousins used to come and stay with us for a week or two during summers when I was small. My dad was a different person when they were around. Kind and fun and he treated them so good. I would do my best to talk and act just like them after they left in the hopes that he'd treat me a well as he had treated them. Not only did that not work, but I got ridiculed and humiliated (sometimes in public) for trying to act like them.
They're the two who protested the most and said "I just can't believe".... So sorry my reality bit your fantasy's head off.
My mother's words - he did the best he could. ooooh. But she's right. Again.
He DID do the best he could with the choices he made each day. It's just too bad that his 'best' almost destroyed his children. My brother is an alcoholic and while I didn't develop a substance problem, I have been through some things and in situations that were just so wild and woolly most folks who know me now really would have a hard time believing. Yeah, that's another blog. Maybe. Some skeletons get locked away with intent - at least until some statutes of limitation come and go... LOL -- kidding. :)
Maybe with an idyllic childhood I wouldn't have put myself in those situations. Maybe I would have. We'll never know. What's important really isn't the scary choices I made sometimes.
What is important: I learned how NOT to be; I learned what I truly wanted out of life; I learned that if I worked hard enough for what I wanted I could get there. On my own steam, with my own self intact. No selling out. More than one time, I was the only friend I had, too. I believed in me.
No matter who believes the truth or doesn't, IT IS WHAT IT IS. There is no going back and changing what happened. The only thing one can change is how they handle things from this point on.
My brother and his bride(zilla) often say things to the effect that our father treated him MUCH worse than anyone else and he's got a greater burden in this life, etc. Yeah. Sounds like the crutch he needs to keep curling those beers instead of some iron and get it together. what ev. Wrote him a letter and threw some wisdom at him that just bears repeating.
"Dad was an abused child. A terribly abused child. He lived through and saw things people shouldn't have to live through or see. He was basely betrayed by people who should have protected him. It made him fearful and angry. Instead of working on and feeding the positive side of himself, he worked on and fed the angry side of himself and in the end, it was his anger, nothing else, that killed him dead. Not his job. If ever there was a poster child for the way NOT to live, it would be him. We should NOT seek to emulate who he was, but rather, emulate who he should have been. "
Which is what I try to do every day. I do my dead level best to make sure that my children do not feel like they have to act like someone else to obtain my approval, that they feel ok with who they are and how they look every day, that everything they say or do isn't being picked apart and attacked just because they said or did it. They know they are important to me and I tell them how proud of them I am. I tell them I love them every. single. day. And I mean it. I tell them the truth about who their grandfather was, all of it, the good and the bad. I want them to understand how broken people can be - so they can better recognize it and so they can react with as much compassion and composure as possible in their lives. They truly are OK with who they are.
And I think my 'best' is pretty dang good.
Wednesday, February 09, 2011
Sitting alone in the stillness of the morning. Thinking about things. It's a beautiful time of day.
Sometimes, I think about the next round of gardening. Sometimes, I think about the things my family and I are going to do together. Sometimes, my thoughts turn to less pleasant things like the inevitable losses that are coming my way (kids growing up & leaving home, parents, uncles & aunts passing) - not dwelling, you understand, but maybe preparing myself.
Other times, I take a moment and examine my life and who I am right now today. I look inside and make sure that wounds are really healing, that guilt isn't growing and that the old skeletons of who I used to be aren't so scary anymore.
Someone recently asked me a question that was basically this: How did you turn out OK coming through all the crap you came through?
I rebelled against it, I quickly answered.
While that wasn't always the case, it certainly was the general direction. There were days I gave in to the depression and melancholia that was draped over me from such an early age. But for the most part, I fought hard to remove that oppressive draping and become who I thought I was meant to be - a sunny dispositioned (for the most part), loving and generous person who doesn't judge others or impose oppression upon those I love the most.
It isn't easy. Just like rebuilding your body on the outside, it takes daily diligence, forgiveness of self after a fall, and focus - never losing sight of the goal no matter how deep in the muck you are at any given moment.
Superficial things come and they go. Everything you can hold in your hand is superficial and stripped down, you're left with yourself. Are you proud of the only thing you truly own?
Spending time working on the body without working on who you are might not be the optimal way to go. Are you truly happy with who you are? Do you try your best to be authentic and deal with people honestly and in a genuine way?
Do you hang out with your friends because of how they look, who they know or what they can do for you at any given time?
Change is part of growing and progressing. When one simply clings to who they were the last time they felt OK with themselves and refuses to be open to the possibilities of who they might become if they just open to the idea of change, they wither in upon themselves and become a shadow (often a bitter one) of who they could have been.
Walls rise up from the ground and we're alone, but because we've spent so much time not really knowing ourselves, we can't even keep ourselves company.
In turning away from ourselves, we doom ourselves to a superficial existence. Not really knowing who we are or what we are really about or capable of. In turning away from ourselves we can get caught up in a disingenuous life where, because we do not know ourselves, we truly do not know those around us.
In embracing ourselves and offering ourselves forgiveness, comfort (not food-type!) and room to grow, we are opening ourselves to the possibilities of the greatness we have inside us and that life really has to offer.
Without self love and acceptance, we can not fully love nor accept others.
With self loathing and criticism, we can only offer criticism and loathing to others.
Forgive yourself and try to do better from that point on. Do not expect perfection. Anywhere. Just keep trying to be better than you were yesterday.
It's in the doing better than before that we conquer the ills of the past.
Monday, September 27, 2010
PLEASE NOTE: This post could be considered religious in nature.
NO OFFENSE IS INTENDED. I'm OK with whatever you want to believe - I will not attack you. But I expect the same about what I believe.
If you're not open minded or are very easily offended, just move on to another blog. Thank you.
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Many months ago, I was talking with other mothers at a group. I mentioned something about seeing something one day 'on our way to church'. The original subject we were talking about was abruptly dropped and comments flew about 'rituals' and 'religion' with a sneer (one gal is a very proud athiest). Then there was the whole belly laugh at 'faith'. Felt as though I was under a full attack just for taking my kids to church.
I had felt secure enough to mention it - there is another mother who is downright 'loud and proud' about her faith, no one attacks her. I tried to get the conversation back to the original subject (nothing religious or even remotely so). Then another mother chimed in and the subject never came back round to the original.
I do not try to convert or 'evangelize' - that isn't my way - I find it disrespectful when others try to do it to me, so I do not do it. But these folks weren't even interested in agreeing to disagree and letting things go! I defended my position as well as I could without escalating, another mother finally chimed in and completely changed the subject, the storm calmed, I calmed and prayed for my children to tell me they were ready to go home.
I was a little wounded - where was the basic respect? I had NEVER dressed down the athiest for being athiest - not my place - again, IMO, it's a show of disrespect. I'm OK with whatever you want to believe - I will not attack you. But I expect the same about what I believe.
Since that time, the same scenario played out on a different subject. Just don't feel comfortable there anymore. We're looking in to other groups.
Then the other day, I had a long conversation with a friend who grew up the same way I did, but has converted to his wife's religion. She apparently has emotional disturbances if they don't go to church together. OK, lemme just say that if my husband insisted on converting me or pouting, I would let him pout - even if he did it for a dozen years. But thats me - cantankerous, maybe even a termagant. But I'm ALWAYS RIGHT... LOL Kidding. :) [insert laughter here... :)]
At any rate, the words 'dirty, ritualistic, idolizing, hell-bound Catholic' came up and I was in shock. Yeah... ME. Apparently, some 'christians' do not think catholics are christian!
The repeated message is coming through loud and clear though - rituals (especially in the religious realm) aren't something acceptable. Hmmm...
It's prompted some thought about that word - ritual. If you look it up in the dictionary, it basically means "a repeated set of actions".
I grew up in a very Roman Catholic atmosphere. I went to Catholic school. My teachers were nuns from Ireland - they were smart and funny and I loved them like family. We read the Bible pretty much front to back every year. I was taught that "God is all around you".
At the same time, I am of the Original People - you know, those 'heathens', 'savages' who do 'dance rituals'. Um, just because they do not address Him the same way, the idea is that "God is all around you" and they're talking to God when they're doing that every bit as much as when you're in your church. And yes, I've been called those names and more. ESPECIALLY when I defend the old ways against certain folks who insist their way of worship is the ONLY way. Who, by chance, are usually the same folks slamming the Catholics for their 'rituals'. Hmmm...
No, I do not quote scripture. I could, but I do not. Rather, if someone wants to know, I grab a Bible and let them read it for themselves.
I was taught the basis for every single thing that is done at Mass. For those who aren't in the know, Mass isn't EXACTLY the same every single time. There are different things that go on at different times and the readings and Homily are different every day. But it's a rite, a 'ritual'. OK, yes, a repeated set of actions.
As humans, it so happens that many if not most of us find COMFORT in doing things in a repeated set of actions (commonly called routines). By doing things a CERTAIN way or in a CERTAIN SERIES, it enables you to remember everything that needs doing OR you remember that everything got done.
Or, it's just something you do a certain way every day and if it doesn't happen that way, your whole day is off. Hmmm... comfort.
Driving to work a certain route - especially on a day when you KNOW it's going to hit the fan - can be a huge COMFORT.
Isn't the way you make your coffee or tea every morning a comforting 'repeated set of actions'? How about the way you prepare your meals - especially your favorite? Or sitting down to dinner every evening the same way?
How about the things you do before you go to bed or after you're in bed - you know, the things you do to help yourself sleep better - your skin care 'ritual', brushing your teeth, clearing your mind, reading a certain number of pages in a book, your evening prayers.
Think for just a minute about the things you do the same way because it helps you remember or gives you comfort.
I was taught that if someone is to end up in he((, it's through their own actions and lack of repentance for them. Not the decision of anyone here on earth. If someone tells you you're going to he((, they are trying to manipulate and control you. Where you end up in this life and after is entirely UP TO YOU.
As for those who believe that you accept your religion one time and you're saved from that moment on no matter what you do, I have one question: Do you only clean your kitchen once in a lifetime? No. You mess it up, you clean it - sometimes more than once a day. Your soul is the same. If you do not deal with the things you've done by apologizing to the person(s) you hurt or wronged, you're hurting two people - the person you hurt and yourself. Clean your kitchen often. And by the way, if you go about cleaning your kitchen, washing your dishes and putting the food away the SAME WAY EVERY TIME (i.e., in a repeated series of actions), isn't that a little ritualistic?
Before anyone decides I'm on the attack, I'm not. Simply trying to explain things in a different way that hopefully elucidates on the use of certain descriptive words in derogatory fashions.
And as for the 'idolizing' - don't you keep photographs of the people you love around? Do you go and look at them from time to time in remembrance?
Have you ever taken a photo of a recently passed relative and put it next to your bed for comfort or talked to it because you didn't get to say goodbye to the person? Our statuary and pictures are the same - we don't worship the pictures and statues. They are there to REMIND US of some of the basis of our faith. And some find comfort in being in their presence. Just like photos of loved ones.
I know my friend's wife talks to photos of her mother and keeps one under her pillow. How is that different? I don't know.
Rituals aren't BAD. Routines and the way you approach them could certainly be called 'ritual', but because they aren't about your faith, it's OK.
Routines or rituals within my faith are the same as the ones in your daily life. The reasons they were started SO VERY LONG AGO is the same - for COMFORT and remembrance.
Wednesday, August 11, 2010
My friend was killed last Saturday. Someone ran a red light and hit her right in the drivers side door. She was only 52 years old. I've known her for close to 20 years.
She was one of the wisest and kindest women I've ever known. Her motto was "To Thine Own Self Be True" and she lived it. She was funny, colorful, bright, sweet and thoughtful. And she didn't judge oddfolk like me. She believed in living life fully every day 'cuz you never know'.
No kidding. You really NEVER know.
She used to tell me (often) that I needed to put myself in the equation more and take it easy more. That the better care I took of me, the more of me I'd have to give. She lived that. Well. She did so much for so many.
Unfortunately, it took the loss of her to bring it on home. My apologies, friend.
I hear your voice, I see your smile. You will be missed by many, many more than just me which is a huge tribute to who you were.
Happy Trails, Girl.
Tuesday, February 23, 2010
This MIGHT sound a little whiny, but I just need to vent.
Its been raining for a couple of days, when the cloud cover stays, the temperature doesn't fall far.
Last night it cleared off. I got up at 1 am, got dressed, went outside and covered everything. I didn't put my lights up because the rain might've come back - it really sucks to have the rain hit your lights and blow them.
The wind blew the cover off of my new baby strawberry plants. I just checked them - they were a little icy. I know that some might die completely and it just bums me out to get kicked like this.
The peach tree and blueberry bushes both came through it unscathed and that's a bright point.
Today I will do cardio only because tomorrow thru the end of the week will be lots of digging again. Planting sunflowers, beans, cucumbers, two big staggered plots of corn - each planted with succession varieties (going to try and get corn for at least 45 days straight - we'll see), and among other things, big orange heirloom tomatoes. My other tomato plants never died off (they're still producing!)- even the two started in the fall, so I am just adding to my tomato count.
Gonna be pretty sore, but it's so worth it.
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