Dear 60 Year Old Me,

Letter to my 60 year old self. A letter from ME.

Dear 60-Year-Old Me,

I want to take a moment to talk to you about how amazing you must be for all that you have come through. I find it hard to think about who you must be, where in the world you have gone, and how amazing life must be. Who did you meet?  What adventures have taken you places I haven’t been yet?

This is so me.I thought 40 was a big moment when I was 20.  I couldn’t imagine all that would be when I was just struggling to keep afloat. I just needed to get through another day, pay the bills and pray that I wasn’t screwing my boys up for life. But life is really pretty nice and I hope that 60 is even better.

In the last 40 years, I have been a child, a teen, a grown-up. I have been afraid of the dark and grown to love its peaceful solitude. I’ve learned to eat my vegetables so much that I have become a vegetarian. I learned how to ride a bike and learned that as you get older the idea of falling off keeps me from doing it. I’ve held in my arms dozens of furry friends and cherished the moments with my canine best friends almost as much as a human.  Letting go of Arwyn, my dog was actually harder than losing any human, because it was MY choice to let her take her last breath as I sat on that cold floor next to her. Soon after, learning how to trust another cold nose was both welcomed and difficult. But Wynter has been my best-girl ever since she brought the October snow.

I’ve become someone I never imagined I would become, not just a Mother but a friend, a wife, a writer (still not published anywhere but I am a fantastic blogger). I have my own small business that keeps me both on edge and proud that it’s mine. I volunteer when I can to my synagogue and enjoy occasional Girl’s lunches with my friends. I’ve learned to let go of petty people and accept that I can’t ever make everyone happy all of the time, but it feels really nice to make my husband and children happy as much as possible.

I’ve watched as my babies took their first breaths, learned to walk, talk, and headed off to school. I’ve stood proud as they made new friends, brought some home to live, fell in love and broke some hearts. I wonder now if soon I will see my middle one ask his true love to be his wife, while the oldests are still trying to figure out what’s next for them. The baby isn’t so much of a baby anymore.  Her dark rimmed lashes painted silver and gold, hair tied up in strands of blue and green, she’s still in middle school and learning now how hard growing up can be.

I’ve fallen in love, lost it, sat bitterly until I was ready to move on, took chances to love again and allowed myself the best 14 years of my life with Michael.  He’s been my rock, stood solid when I felt like I could crumble. He’s taught me about forgiveness and when to face the fact that some people will never change and you just have to move on away from them. He has helped me to see that not every fight has to be fought and walking away is really hard to do when someone knows how to press all of your buttons. His quiet has taught me how to shut up and listen and yet I am still no good at keeping quiet when something is just wrong.

I have settled down, no longer moving from place to place searching for some elusive sense of home and figured out that home isn’t a place but a feeling that you know where you are and it feels good to be there. Sometimes home is in the house we have built as a family and sometimes home is where the family is.  I have found a home in odd places, sitting in a coffee shop in Seattle overlooking the Sound or rolling over in a strange hotel bed to the warmth of Michael’s arm opening up to bring me closer. Home is where I can relax and recharge not a place at all.  I travel often from East to West and many places in between. Chicago, Seattle, Phoenix, New York,  big cities and small, quiet place and loud. I love the exploration of new streets, adventures hiding in coffee shops and museums, and best of all meeting up with friends and family that I don’t get to see as often as I would like.

I wonder often who you are and if you would like me at all. Would you tell me that I have wasted away my life and accomplished nothing or would you be happy that I have found peace after searching for it for so long?  Do you think that I have done the right thing by making promises to myself about friendships, loyalty, and not allowing anyone the right or privilege to make me feel bad about myself?  I’ve had to face myself in the mirror and ask if I have done the right thing, read the hate-filled letters and swallowed back tears when haunted by her words. I lost my best friend to death, but made it mean something by not letting our promise fade away because of grief.  I wonder if it still hurts to miss him as much as I do right now or have others gone after him and taught me more about grief and pain.

I hope you never stop wanting to dance in the kitchen, snuggle late on Sunday mornings, or give up writing because something else is more important. I hope you have explored the world and not just our little corner of it.  I hope you have danced at the weddings of the children who love you as their Mother and hopefully cradled at least one grandchild close and whispered sweet lullabies as I did long ago. I hope you have actually started to keep track of all of those family stories so that they won’t be lost once your gone and never stopped enjoying the life you have been blessed with.

Dear 60-year-old me, I am so glad we made it.

~ Crysta at 40 ~

Written January 2013

Challenge:

Write a letter today to your future self. Lock it away for a few years, and see how much you love how your life has blossomed and changed in the time between. 

 

 

The Foundation – New House Updates


New House header

The foundation has been laid and we have a basement! Watching the new house grow has been very exciting. It's like laying down the seeds in a new garden and watching anxiously for the first blooms.

I think the hardest part has been waiting for things to start moving. It seemed like once we made the move, we hoped everything would move along and we would see things coming up fast.  But the truth is, there is a lot of waiting.

new house - garage

So much waiting!

We waited for permits, waited for inspections, waited for the weather to clear. So much waiting!

When the basement was poured, we thought we would then move on to the next level the next week. BUT no.  It was another couple of weeks before we had the wood delivered for the next levels. THAT was due to the government restrictions on lumber.  🙁

New house - basement

But it is here now and we are moving to the next level!

Selling our old house in Seattle went well. Packing and unpacking in the new rental was EXHAUSTING.

Wynter and the Move

Wynter was not amused. It's strange the weird things we have caught her doing. She doesn't usually get on the furniture. But a few times we caught her finding strange places to do weird dog things.  I know big changes like this are hard on animals, even one as smart as Wynter.  So we have been trying to keep her calm, given her a few calming CBD dog treats, and taken her on lots of walks.

Riley however just rolls with everything and is always a good sport. No matter what life throws at him, he'll run and catch it with a smile.

Daydreaming while we wait

Now that we have all of the plans drawn up, the basement is up, it is time to start making the big choices.  We have to pick the colors, floors, tiles, and cabinets!

We know we want a Industrial Farmhouse feel. I don't like things too girly, and I am a gardener.  So I want to have that rough, grungy feel so it doesn't matter if something gets dinged or covered in plants.

So I've been happily searching through Pinterest and enjoying looking for the right pieces for each room.  THIS is fun!

What is Industrial Farmhouse?

I've always loved the look and feel of walking into old mills, the feel of aged wood that has been layered in decades of stories. So when I thought about what I wanted the new house to feel like, I wanted to bring in those elements.

Also, I grew up on farmlands in old houses that were worn and sometimes quirky. I love bringing the outside in, so this house will have a lot of darker elements as well as worn metals and aged woods.

Vintage Teal & White Farmhouse-Style Cabinet

25% off sale! One day only with code oneday at checkout at Shabby Chic Couture

Learning to compromise

Since this house is completely custom built, we have the option to really make it personalized. Well, as we learned quickly… things can add up very quickly when you start really becoming too outside of the norm.

However we have chosen to give up some things in order to prioritize the things we really want.  Like we gave up a built in kitchen island in trade for more kitchen space and saving money on the cabinets and counter.  Maybe later on, we will add in a new island that is freestanding.  But for now, it's a trade I was happy to give up.

Giving up the contemporary styling of a island, which can be found in almost every newly built house, means that we are going to have to use our kitchen space a little more carefully.

In the kitchen we are going to have to really be picky about which dishes and kitchen items we keep that fit into our end goal, and what to get rid of.  So as we were sorting through and packing, a lot of our kitchen stuff didn't make the box.  Some of it we have brought to the temporary house and it will get donated or given to our adult kids for their houses.

Here are a few of our new kitchen picks.


40% OFF Montana Cabinet – Available in Snow & Shadow Finish

from: Rachel Ashwell Shabby Chic Couture

I love this cabinet. The top is fabulous and made from reclaimed pine doors.  I could see putting dark bronze knobs on the doors to match my kitchen fixtures and putting it in the morning room.

Nagatani-en – Toban Skillet –
from: Jinen Store

Part skillet, part serving dish, with the exceptional heat-retaining properties of Iga clay, food stays warm as you dine with your loved ones at the table. Is also suitable for braising, stir-frying, and even baking in the oven. Microwave-safe too.  I love the texture and unique coloring.

I could daydream all day, picking out new things for this house!

Stay with us and follow our new home adventures!

Goat Cheese and Chocolate Balsamic glazed veggie burgers

Dinner is my favorite time to create.  I put on some music, sip a little wine, and let the aromas of the kitchen come to life.  But sometimes I don't feel like spending an hour or more in the kitchen and something quick fits much better. So something as simple as a burger can become even better with some time and effort.

One night I felt creative, looking through the kitchen I settled on burgers for dinner for my daughter and I, since my husband was out of town and we wanted to get back to watching junk TV.  Usually we try to go easy and quick to clean up when he's gone. However, that night after watching some culinary shows on TV we felt like making burger magic.

The veggie burgers took no time. Then topping them became the fun part.  While Sara likes her burgers traditional with just ketchup and mustard, I wanted something with spark.

Beyond Meat

My husband and I love the “Beyond Meat” veggie burgers. You can find them in the meat section usually by the turkey burgers.  They are vegetarian. They have a softer and fuller texture than the frozen brands.  And we love that they are juicy and have a bigger flavor than others we have tried.

Olive Oil

I love visiting Olive oil and vinegar shops.  I always find a huge selection of olive oils and balsamic vinegar to stir my creativity.  So for my burger I layered a light goat cheese, fresh sweet pea shoots, and a few pickled beets and then lightly drizzled olive oil and chocolate balsamic vinegar the top.

WOW!  It was amazing the taste sensations, creamy, fresh, then a splash of that tangy balsamic to enrich the flavors.  SO SO SO good.  Who says burgers have to be boring?

What's your favorite burger topping?

 

 

Perhaps today will snow

I knew something was different that day.  I wasn’t sure what it was, perhaps the weather was about to change again, perhaps there would be snow. Yes, that would be a welcome change from this hot and sticky air. All day I went to the window and looked out and waited for the dark skies to come and bring the fantastic feathers of cold down and soon the green sticky grass would be covered in heavenly frozen snow.  I would certainly prefer this to the uncertainty of the day, even napping didn’t seem to make any difference.  Something wasn’t right.

When I looked at my Mother she seemed far away in her eyes. She looked as if she too knew something was in the air and kept moving from place to place. When I came to sit next to her, her hands would softly stroke down my neck and she would look at me.  I wonder now if I should have tried harder to distract her from the things she was doing.  But everything seemed to frustrate her and it was usually better to give her some space when she was like this.  I wouldn’t be far, close if she needed.

Bedtime came early and I was thankful that we would end this day and start a new one that must be better, perhaps when we woke the snow would have come and we would spend the day exploring and playing. My brother doesn’t like the snow as much as I. Though he will venture out for a bit if I ask and wait for him to get ready, I know he doesn’t enjoy it.  I curled up in my bed and sleep came quickly.  I barely noticed when the phone rang and my Mother’s voice broke the quiet of the night.

Her voice was quiet at first, but it changed. Fear ran down my spine as I got up and went to her.  I reached out to calm her and understand what was going on. At first, she was only talking quietly and calm, then it was as her emotions burst and everything came pouring out all at once. I was so confused and looked at my Father who was up and at her side trying to calm her.  She was so upset and I worried she couldn’t catch her breath.

That night I stayed with her and did all I could to keep the tears away. But they came in waves just like at the sea, some soft and quiet and others harsh and washing up over us both. When the morning light came I hoped that at least she would be comforted by the cold soothing air and beauty of the sparkling snowy morning.  I went to the window and looked out, excited still for that moment I loved the most when I would see the yard covered in newness and waiting to be explored.

I sat down and looked out, the snow had not come.  There was nothing out there but the same as it had been every day for so long. Still, I would go out and take some time for myself to try getting a fresh thought about what to do next. The answers were always easier when I could just get outside and think.

After a bit, I came back in and found my Mother and Father were getting themselves ready to leave.  She was still upset and said she needed to go for a bit.  I knew she didn’t want to leave and I wanted to go with her.  I didn’t, I had to stay with the others and wait for them to tell us what we could do to help.

I didn't mention to her that she'd forgotten to give me my breakfast. I'd have to go discover what I'd have on my own.  Perhaps leftovers, I didn't care for leftovers. But today wasn't about me.

When they returned I let my Mother know that I would be there for her, whatever she needed I wanted to help… I needed to help.  She seemed so sad as she explained that she had lost someone close to her and she was so upset at this. I tried to help take away her pain, make her see that not everyone in the world was gone.  I kissed her tears, curled around her and waited out the storm.  Each day was different.  Some days I thought that she was better; she smiled more and looked as if she had finished with her tears. Then I would find her sitting alone and again she looked so lost and cold.

One day she surprised me with an adventure just for us. We went out into the woods and explored the running creek and watched for a long time as the tiny fish swam so wild and free. They were beautiful as they swished through the clear water and I wished I were down there swimming with them. I stayed close to my Mother however, she seemed happier than I had seen her in a few days.  She was telling me about when she was a kid and the life she had before I came into it. I loved the sound of her voice and listened to each word carefully.  Even when I wanted to keep exploring, I was still listening.  She cried a little and I realized that it was ok for this to happen because it didn’t feel so terrible anymore… it was just as if she needed to wash away the sadness.

The days are starting to feel more like they were before.  I’m still watching her to see if she needs anything and now she smiles back at me and tells me I am doing a great job.  A great job…  I wasn’t sure that was ever going to be true. I knew coming into this family that I was going to have a lot to prove before I was going to be doing a “great job” and even more I was sure my Mother wasn’t going to be as sure about trusting me with her secrets as she did the one who crossed over before I came Home.

Wyn-sleep I couldn’t believe it when she told me that I had actually made her feel better and I felt my whole body laugh with delight.  I wanted to lick her face, show her that was all I ever wanted.  But we don’t do that… that is for puppies and the uncivilized breeds… or my brother who does it just because it makes people scream.

Today I’ve let her put her things away and given her some space.  She doesn’t seem to need me as close as she did last week.  I am still waiting for her to reach out her hand. I’ll be there to comfort her.  Little by little I know I am teaching her that she is strong and everything will be ok. She is a good mother and I am her “Best Girl” and when she needs me she sits on the floor and holds my head against hers… and I never want to move from that place.  I know now that not every day can be what you wished for, some days are better.  I look out the window and sigh a heavy sigh as my eyes close and I think…

The snow will come, just not today.

( These are the actual photos taken from that day. Wynter was not only my best friend, my Good Girl, but my lifesaver as I wandered through the worst grief I have ever had.  She continues to be my best friend and since that day we have grown closer and more in sync with each other. Wynter continued her training, went into serious task work, and went on to become my service dog for my late stage Lyme Disease. She is my lifesaver in so many ways.  And I am blessed to have her in my life. – Crysta )

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First Written September 2012

The 9’s

I know I am comfortable with my life these days, more than I have ever been. I still ask myself if I am sure there isn’t  someone who will one day wake me up from my dream and tell me it’s time to go back to chaos. But for now, it’s my world and I am happy here. I look back at the last 40 something years and see that the dragons that stood in my path have always been about the 9's.

Let me go back, I should tell you what exactly the 9’s are.  The 9’s are 19,29,39,49 ect…  that year before the big change in your life.  That year when you try to wrap it all up and make it look like the last 9 years you spent doing something lasting and memorable, those are the 9’s.

When I was 9, I was still in the 3rd grade. I was a child, small and fragile. Yet already I had known about death, loss, betrayal, and longed to run away from it all. 9 was when I would wander away from home, wait until almost dark, and dance wild and free with the fireflies. I found an abandoned house deep in the woods, climbed inside and considered making this my home instead of returning to the house that I had ran from. I wanted to be a lost girl, alone in a lost house.  I would dance naked with the wild beasts, free from shame.

19 was big, I wasn’t going to get away with being a child anymore. I was finished with high school and looking to college.  I didn’t have the ability to put on the breaks and turn around and run back to my childhood.  I was going to have to embrace the fact that I was no longer going to be a teen and I was going to have to accept that responsibility with my head held high and my fears pushed behind me.

I had to face a small town that didn’t know what to do with me and in trade pushed me into the darkness.  I suppose that the choices I had made the previous 19 years had also put me in a different position that the other 19 year olds around me. I cried tears of longing for my old friends and ways, missing their laughter and coolness in the summer heat.

In my world, 19 was more about letting go of my teenage hurt and Fidget Cubetears and moving on with my life.  It also was taking a deep breath and knowing that I wasn’t just a 19 year old, I was also a mother of two.  My boys were counting on me not to screw this up.  Each day was one step at a time towards the 20’s.

 29 came fast.  I was just starting to enjoy my 20’s when before I knew it they were over. Darn it I wanted them back!  I wanted to have the time to dance under the moon and howl with the others in my pack.

I didn’t want to face 29 that asked me what I was going to do with the rest of my life and how I was going to work being a mother, a wife, and so much more.  I found my dance, free as a wild bird and I really didn’t plan on giving that up without a good fight.  I was surprised when 29 came at how many things had changed and how many things were just beginning. I was ready for the big changes in my life as the 20’s ended, yet reluctant and scared of them at the same time.

 My 20’s  gave me the greatest blessings in life that are still most important to me now.  I left the life that I was afraid of as child and a teen, learned how to be alone, grew sad at the way life can quickly become so stale, and uneasy about the future.  I started college and finished new adventures there. I had my heart broken and found friends who became my angels to mend it. I learned not to be afraid of my past, to embrace it for who it was making me into. I found that sometimes I hid behind walls and I was terrified of change.  I took risks and accepted the consequences, then took bigger risks and loved the results.

 

I was hurt deeply by some I trusted, I hurt some who trusted me, and I tried my hardest to keep both from never happening again. By the time 29 came, I had married my knight, gave birth to an incredible daughter, watched my sons grow to be strong and brave, and learned to accept myself for who I was becoming.  I left behind family who never really wanted me in their pack and rebelled against a family who was so different from my own that I didn’t know how to be a part of them and pulled away.

 39 came and I didn’t master any great skill or win any big award.  But I did raise 3 incredible sons who have left now to become their own men and tackle the world on their own.  I hope that I have given them as much wisdom as I could to make their lives better, enough love to keep their hearts warm and gentle, enough strength so that they will also know the world and be brave enough to stand strong in it.

I can still snuggle my little girl, but only for a short time as she’s growing into her own independence now that she’s crossed her own 9 and inches close to the next.

I learned to give up my fear, the safety of my own little shelter was comforting and hid me away from the rest of the world. My fear of leaving home and traveling was great for a while, now I pack my bags for another adventure.  My husband reminds me of my strength and encourage me to take more chances to explore. I love the adventure of exploring new places, excited by what I might find around the next corner. Each trip becomes easier and I learn to relax a bit faster.

Though I still long to discover a lost house in the woods and claim it as my own, to dance naked and wild with fireflies in the comfort of the night. Perhaps when I am 49 I will.

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So long guilt!

I had a very complicated relationship with family growing up. Guilt was a weapon used for everything from eating your peas to hugging people who made me feel uncomfortable.

I worked hard.  Made good choices. And did everything I could to better myself and it paid off. But guilt was still there. It is one of those weapons that lingers over and over in the back of your mind.150650_411032448975699_639079066_n I felt guilty and unworthy of the life I had been living.

I felt like I shouldn’t spend money on myself or my family because of the shame I felt because others weren’t doing as well.

Every time I bought a new sweater, went on vacation, or any other time that normally you should be excited and happy to share with friends and family. In my head I could hear the nasty comments “Oh yeah, she can buy a new TV but she can’t be bothered with helping out the homeless!”
Even when I was doing something for others I would feel the chill of jealous eyes watching and judging me. “Sure she can do for everyone else, but when it comes to us we aren’t good enough!”

And it wasn't just self talk. I actually had real humans think it was alright to troll me both online and in real life. It was ridiculous.  It took me a long time to let go of toxic people out of my life.

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After a while I just broke.  I wanted to scream “No more! I am sorry you haven’t done anything with your life and now you sit there with your begging hands out looking for attention and breadcrumbs. That isn’t my fault!  You want to be angry about YOUR past, go for it. I'm not responsible for your baggage.”

It took me a while before I could say out loud that I am done feeling guilty.  It's hard, really hard to face the fact that some people want to see you miserable because they are so childish and awful. But even harder to accept that just because you once loved them, you have to let them go because you deserve to be happy.

I work hard, I give to charity and spend my time working with those charities to help them and my community. I talk to strangers and listen when they speak. I don’t treat other people poorly and in return they are kind back. There’s nothing wrong with that.

If you chose to walk down the wrong path even though everyone else tried to tell you not to go that way, that’s not my fault.  Good luck with that.

So good-bye Guilt, you no longer have a room in my house. And I don't miss you!

Love, Crysta - Dancing With Fireflies

Nudwear Lingerie

Soup in a coffee mug? Oh my!

There are sometimes when you just have to stop and drool. This happened to me today when I was playing around on  Pinterest, which.. I love cause it's so much fun and wastes so much time.  But I stumbled on these mugs of tomato soup which made me want to lick my computer.  So then, I had to find out what it was and if you could actually cook in a coffee mug.

And by golly, you can! So here you are, check out this amazing recipe.  And yes, before you say it.. I am a vegetarian and will swap out for vegetable broth.  You can even make it vegan with some really good vegan cheeses that are out there now.

Bring on the cold weather, I want soup!

Smitten Kitchen.. I think I love you.

Love, Crysta - Dancing With Fireflies

Stop labeling your kids!

 

Stop Labeling Children!

Let Kids Be KIDS! It's hard enough for them to figure out who they are without adults assigning labels for them.

There is a trend right now to prove how much you support homosexuality.   I fully agree, there's nothing wrong with being supportive. I've raised 5 of my own children and I love WHO each of them have become.  It never mattered to me if they were gay, straight, or somewhere in between. What matters is that they are healthy, safe, and know who they are and how much they are loved.  That's it.

Here's where I am probably going to piss some people off…. but children do not need to choose which sexual preference or gender identity in elementary school.

They should be allowed to come and go, explore ideas, move on naturally in any direction they please.

But when parents start labeling their children as gay, lesbian, pink boys, tomboy, ect.  they are damaging them and skewing their child's view of the world. They are restricting the free movement of a child's exploration of themselves when they dominate that exploration with labels.

Don't make your child feel as if they have to live up to your expectations in order to make you happy. Stop trying to win the parent of the year award by announcing how thrilled you are to have a “pink boy” or as one mommy blogger put it, her “gender confused daughter”.

Almost daily I see on blogs and articles parents who are “standing up” for the rights of their very young children to be seen as gay.  Mothers are posting photos of their sons wearing dresses and tiaras and passing them around like trading cards.  Stop it!  For God's sake!  What if your son gets to puberty and actually starts to have those “happy” feelings for a…. girl.

You are pretty much damaging any chance that kid is going to get for getting out of high school without some sort of break down. Does a child's sexual preference need to define them?  Create a loving home and it won't matter if your daughter discovers that she'd rather be in a relationship with a girl?  Let them live their lives without everyone else giving an opinion. Stop making your children into your “Lifetime Movie”.

Here's the thing.. I don't have any issue with being gay, straight, curly, or bouncy. I don't define people by their orientation. I love my children for them, not for their future sexual partners. I have friends of all standards in their sexuality and identities, but the difference is that they are adults, and even then I don't label them.

Yes, some of my friends have said that they knew at an early age which direction they preferred. But it was out of social pressure that they leaned towards traditional roles. So take out the pressure to be boxed in! Yet don't pressure children into situations that they might just be working out on their own, being transgender is a difficult choice that shouldn't be made over brunch and a Mommy Blog article.

Adults have the right to figure out where their pointer is leading them.  But children are exploratory, that doesn't mean that if your son put on his sister's party dress that you need to rush out and buy him a full wardrobe of dresses and your vision of what gay men find attractive.

Just chill the heck out! And I am not the only one thinking this.  I was glad to see that there are other bloggers out there that are also seeing that posting every moment of your child's life might not be the best thing.. not to mention the fact that most people don't want to know every meal your child has ever eaten or how many times he had to poop.

I have kids.. a lot of them in fact have called our house home, some were born to us, some were given to us, and some just naturally were attracted to the constant noise of our lawn.  We were lucky to have lots of boys and  girls who taught US a lot about being parents.

Our boys have gone on to be men and have moved in and out of relationships, settled down, and figured out where their attractions lie. We had a house full of trucks and trains, legos and dolls, kitchen sets and nerf guns.

There were moments when some of the boys were a bit curious about the free air supply under those dresses, tried them on, enjoyed the curiosity, and moved right back into their TMNT t-shirts and shorts. There was no fuss made, no demands that they be more manly, no rushing out to tell me friends that my son was gay.

You just gotta let it play out.

We don't need to have children labeled. They don't need to be told that they are gay, straight, ADHD,OCD, GT!   We just need to be open-minded and let them explore the world.

You don't need to hide them behind closed doors and whisper that they might have a problem, but you also don't need to post on ever social media outlet in the world that your child is gay and you are going to make sure they stay that way.  Let them be children and don't put their every moment on the internet.  It might not bother you.. because you have made your choice.  But it will bother them when this comes back up in their lives later, and don't think it won't.

I wonder, can we really go back to a world where families didn't share the intimate details of their lives with strangers or is it too late?  What do you think?

 

Youth, like pristine glass, absorbs the prints of its handlers – Mitch Albom,

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“All parents damage their children. It cannot be helped. Youth, like pristine glass, absorbs the prints of its handlers. Some parents smudge, others crack, a few shatter childhoods completely into jagged little pieces, beyond repair.”
―     Mitch Albom,     The Five People You Meet in Heaven

Lemons!

“All right, I've been thinking. When life gives you lemons, don't make lemonade. Make life take the lemons back! Get mad! I don't want your damn lemons! What am I supposed to do with these?! Demand to see life's manager! Make life rue the day it thought it could give Cave Johnson lemons! Do you know who I am? I'm the man who's gonna burn your house down! With the lemons! I'm gonna get my engineers to invent a combustible lemon that burns your house down!” – Cave Johnson

Making the best out of a frustrating situation

Drama happens. No matter how many times you repeat your calming mantras, drama does happen.

Those moments can be cleansing and give your life a stress rest.

The truth is, the world is full of people who don't make sense. There are enough ridiculous, drama loving, hair pulling, low lifes to keep Jerry Springer on the air for years.  We have thousands of jail cells packed full of people who have no self-respect and social skills and those people have wives, Baby Mommas, ect.

But what strikes me the most is how good people get lured into combative situations without meaning to.  How many times have you been shopping only to find rude shoppers making comments?  Do you address them?  Or do you ignore them and let the behavior go unchecked?

What about when out and about and you see babies left alone in cars?  Do you stand there guarding the child until the parent comes out and then take the chance on informing them on the dangers of leaving children alone?  Or do you walk away, shake your head, and talk about it later and wish you had done something?  Either way, these situations lure you into a situation with a person who WILL not only tear you apart verbally, but there are situations where it has gone to violence.

So how do you handle stressful situations?

Take a breathing moment, alone.  Find your happy playlist and sing as loud as your anger lets you. Cry, cry til you feel the anger draining out of you.  I sometimes like to clean places I put off, like the closet, bathroom shower, garden weeds.  What ever it is, if your intention is to let go of the anger and not swim in it, then it will pass.

light it up blue

Fantastic homemade Seitan Recipe

Homemade Seitan Recipe

 

Store-bought seitan is  good, but it can be expensive. So when I wanted to save money I looked around for recipes to make my own and found several that had a similar theme.  It's not hard to do at all, takes little time, and it's up to you for the flavor.

 

Makes: About 2 pounds, about 10 servings

Broth:

  • 2 vegetable bouillon cubes
  • 2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce
  • 3 to 4 slices fresh ginger
  • 1 clove garlic
  • salt and pepper

Combine the soy sauce with 1 cup of water in a large measuring cup. Place the gluten flour  in a medium mixing bowl. Gradually add the liquid to form a stiff dough, stirring with a spoon at first, and then working together with your hands.

Turn out onto a floured board and knead 30 times, then return the dough to the bowl, cover with a clean tea towel, and let it rest for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring 10 cups water to a simmer in a large soup pot. Add the bouillon cubes and ginger.  ( I prefer to use my electric pressure cooker and set it to high pressure for 20 minutes.

Let the dough sit for 15 minutes then divide the dough into two pieces and pull into long, narrow loaves the shape of miniature French breads.

With a sharp, serrated knife, cut each section of dough crosswise into approximately 1/2-inch sections. When the broth comes to a simmer, insert each slice. Simmer gently and steadily for 30 minutes by stove or 20 minutes by pressure cooker. Drain (if desired, save the tasty stock to use for soup or other purpose) and let cool.

Lightly flower your steaks and saute them for about 5 minutes each side over a med-high heat to get a nice crispy coating on them.

These are great with BBQ sauce, as sandwhiches, with a brown gravy made with your left-over broth, or stir fried with some veggies.

 

Like me or Not.

09

Not everyone is going to like me.  I know that.  I am different. I don’t blend in with the other crayons very well. But that doesn’t give anyone a reason to be mean.  Different shouldn’t be a threat, it isn’t a reason to be obnoxious. Maybe I am not like anyone you’ve ever known, and that's ok.

Maya Angelou said “The first time someone shows you who they are, believe them.”   Often I think people want to believe that people aren't who they say they are. Perhaps they want to love someone who isn't a right fit, hate someone for a reason that isn't real, or fail to accept that life isn't perfect and neither are we.

03

I am flawed.  I laugh at the wrong times, can't help my own tears, and often forget to think before I speak.

I love my friends and family deeply.  I am moved by their highs and lows, sometimes so much that I have a hard time letting go when they are hurting.  I want to help, I want to make things better.  But I respect everyone’s movement through life and try hard not to interfere. Everyone has a path they have to travel in life and sometimes the meaning behind the choices people make aren’t very clear.  Yet I don’t have a right to judge and neither does anyone else.

The world frustrates me sometimes.  Politicians have all lost track of who they were supposed to be and why.  Cruelty to both human and creature has gone beyond belief.  And there are times when I just have to turn off the news and focus on my own life and family because only there do I feel like I can find peace.

I have a solid belief system that helps me find peace and gives me serenity when everything feels so chaotic. It’s not like everyone else’s, and that’s ok.  I don’t believe that everyone in the world believes exactly the same way as anyone else.  We are humans and free to think on our own and come to our own belief system through the passages of time and experience. I don’t believe that there is only one can and will lead you home, where ever you believe home may be.

Mean people make me sad. They spend so much time and energy focused on hurting and destruction that they neglect the good in their own lives.  They make their world ugly and then blame innocent people for the reason they feel so toxic inside. They make me sad because I know that we all have a choice on how to feel and how we should react, they chose hurt over the richness of forgiveness and movement.  They lash out and hurt others because they have no control, they are weak and small.

05I stand up for what I believe in and won’t just go along with the show. When you ask me about how I feel about something, I will truthfully give you exactly how I feel. To give only what sounds pleasant isn’t the truth. I won’t lie for the sake of blending in, that isn’t who I am.  Sometimes people feel threatened by this and don’t like me much. Maybe they are just so used to being lied to that it feels more comfortable.

I have a hard time when I want to say something, but can’t. There are so many times in life when you want to speak up, let the world know how you feel, or even just vent about how you are feeling, and yet you just have to let it go and walk away.  This is one of my weaknesses.  I have a really hard time with just letting it go, but I have great friends and family who have taught me that I can do what I need to do and walk away, then come to them and release my words.

plus size valentine's day lingerieI’m not perfect, because perfect people do not exist. We are all wrong sometimes and we all have flaws.  I don’t even pretend to have all of the answers.  Sometimes I am just grumpy!  I don’t think I am better than anyone else and just the same I am no less than anyone else as well.

Not everyone is going to like me.  Some people will challenge my thoughts and actions, inspire me to change, create a brilliant colored world full of ideas and together we can grow. Some people just won’t understand me.

 

Letters from a Dead Girl

Do you know how many times I have “died” and somehow been resurrected? Really? I don’t even know how many times myself. But apparently if you piss someone off enough you will become “dead” to them. I guess I could be considered a zombie since I don’t feel dead.  In fact, I feel just a bit more alive now that I have accepted my death.

It’s odd though, walking around in this world with knowing that someone out there has declared you dead and yet you are realizing that for the first time in your whole life,  you feel pretty good.  If living meant putting up with bullshit and being used like a dirty rag in a cheap whore’s hotel room, if being dead meant not having to live like you have to keep caring or else you might turn into the “angry mean-spirited shrew who poisoned the lives of anyone who tried to come close to her, and wallowed in her own vile bitterness” then being dead and relieved of that stress is exactly what I want to keep being.

I’ve been dead before. Dead just long enough that I forgot why being dead was a good and quiet thing and let down my defense. Dead long enough to want to believe that people can change and giving them another chance would be good for not only my own heart but to forge a relationship between my children and their relatives.  But then I didn’t realize that I would be stabbed multiple times in the heart before I would be allowed to die again.

Here’s the nice thing about being dead. For the first few days it feels kind of bad. There is this bad taste in your mouth that sours everything and makes you want to lash out at the one who murdered you.  You really want to let them know that it was wrong of them to be so cruel for no damned good reason.  You want very much to scream and let the world know you are still alive and won’t be forgotten. But that doesn’t last, trust me. Because after a while you start to feel as if you understand what your life was supposed to be like and start to put things in order of importance. The next stage is the realization that being dead also meant being relieved of the mortal connections and you are free to move about the cabin.  I started living, and living like I am proud of my life and who I have become.  I don’t need your approval or your guilt.  I don’t have to give you my attention any longer and not giving you my attention drives you mad.

I would rather be dead than be mad.  Dead  feels good, it allows you to let go of the past, let go of the hurt, and best of all you don’t have to be responsible for anyone else’s mistakes.

So take care Murderer of your own Children, you won’t be missed. You won’t be allowed to murder me again. And best of all, everyone is so proud of me for finally seeing that death can be a glorious rebirth.

Love,

The Dead Girl

( Originally published July 24, 2012, after one of the MANY times I was dead to my mother. )

Kindred connections

Like so many, I have always struggled with the concept of family and that historical bond that is said to connect people together and give them some sense of pride and bonding.  Yet in my own history I’ve seen blood family have little more to do with each other than passing strangers or childhood friends, such connections were not part of my world. Blood connections were there, but not a bond.  Those ties could be severed as easily as one might unfriend someone on Facebook, sometimes done in person but mostly done through nasty letters.

Yet my desire to have a true connection with people in my life has led me to creating a network of close friends who are as much my family as one would think of.

I have sisters who I turn to for advice and in turn ask me for mine.  Women who have brought me great joy and make me laugh at my own silliness. They taught me how to trust other women and how having that special female friendship can meet a need that we as women seem to have. A way to vent out our fears, anger, and yet not ask for it to be resolved for us, but for someone to empathize and validate us, women meet those needs for each other when our mates might have a difficult time.

Then there are those men who will always be like my brothers.  They make me laugh, they drive me crazy, and most of all they know exactly when I just need them to threaten to beat up my bullies.

lance17There are others though that fall into a category that I haven’t an explanation for. Exceptional people in my life that no matter how long I stray will always be there for me when I ask will always be in my heart and have a special connection.  Though our lives take us in different directions we find a way to always keep in contact and never lose one another. Sometimes it’s just a quick letter, a phone call to check in, or a wave as you pass each other in the hall. And other times we find time, make time, work our lives to sit for a few hours and drink in the trueness of our friendship. It makes us family, it makes us kindred and we know its importance.

Today I sit thankful for finally understanding that I belong to a unique family of those I have bonded with and made sacred.  For there are some that have no such bonds, who separate themselves and won’t dare to take the leaps of faith that it takes to give a part of yourself to a new friend. Blood, genetics, and time do not make a family, well.. not for me.

 

( This was originally  posted Jul 30, 2012  a month before I lost my “Brother” Lance in the photo to a motorcycle accident. His death launched a huge moment of rethinking what I really wanted from this blog. I needed a place to really come to write and think out my grief. He was a great inspiration in both life and death and I am eternally thankful for his love and advice. )

525,600 chances

January 1st.. New Years… the day when just about everyone has a list of things they would do differently this year. Perhaps they will be more organized, stop smoking, or plan to bring their lunch to work more often. Some like myself will drag themselves to the gym in hopes that they will eventually learn to like it. Others have learned that unless someone truly wants to change, setting resolutions are pointless.

I suppose instead of listing things that you have yet to do, perhaps some look forward to the time of year when they can feel as if everything can just be chalked up to the bad luck of the previous year and look hopeful to the upcoming months as a fresh start. All of these things aren’t necessarily bad things, just ways that we as people try to cope with time.

1 year = 525,600 minutes

525,600 chances to do something different. But how many of us actually take any chances at all?

What will we learn? What will we do to improve our lives or the lives of someone else?

This year I learned some pretty important life lessons. I found things I would do differently. And I can see the changes clearly now for both better and some for worse.

I learned that there are people who for different reasons love and accept me for who I am. They understand that I am not always the easiest person to deal with, and still treat me kindly and with respect. They give me hope when I feel as if I am hopeless, teaching me that this is something I can work on myself. I learned that growing up is the hardest thing to do. It means having to see people for who they really are and learning to accept that in spite of wishing otherwise. I learned that no matter how difficult the situation is, you don’t have to make it worse by being abusive. Being kind or being quiet is usually the best way to answer any conflict.

Did I make resolutions for the new year?  No.. I’ve made the choice to do my best to use my 525,600 chances to learn to accept myself for who I am, treat people as if I might never get the chance to say I am sorry, push to take advantage of the 525,600 opportunities to be a better person, and most of all learn to enjoy every minute of it.

When Life Pressed Pause

There are moments when you just have to stop and look around to see where you are.  Sometimes I feel like I am always moving, life is passing by so quickly and I really just need to pause and look around to see where I have landed.  Have I any idea where I am going?

Most of the time, yes.. I know where I am going and move one day at a time to get there. Although there are always days when I feel like I am just annoyed with the place where I have chosen to pause life and take stock of it.  It feels like I have come to the end of a season of my favorite show and I am right at the cliffhanger screaming at the TV “What the hell just happened?!?”

When Lance died, life chose that moment to press pause on life and force me to take time to stop my forward movement and look around.  It was shocking to my system to be forced to stop. Usually it is my own doing that causes me to reflect.  But this sudden halt to my routine jarred everything as my life came screeching to a stop.

I looked around, devastated at the loss and tried to figure out what exactly to do next. His unexpected absence from my life ripped a hole right through the center of my map.  Without direction I felt so lost and confused as to where I was heading.  I never understood how much I had come to depend on him until he was taken away.  I screamed out, demanding God tell me how I was supposed to keep heading in the right direction when he just ripped my best friend away from me, the person I went to when I needed to be set straight.   How the hell was I supposed to be ok now?  Tell me!

I am a defiant one; I don’t always play well with others. I hate being told what to do.  Tell me to relax and I will fight you all night.  Being that way makes it hard to take advice from others.    But as I crumbled at his death, others came forward with help and warm welcoming arms.  I just wanted to break down and sleep off this pain. They weren’t going to let that happen, these welcoming hearts that were always there for me and just waiting patiently to be seen.

They shared moments of their own break downs, losses, and pain.  Friends reached forward and held me up.  My real friends rushed forward and helped mop up my tears and understood as I lashed out at the heavens.  I found new friends who were part of Lance’s life and now we were brought together by the bonds of grief at his departure.

Now as I take a good look around I see that I am still on the right path and I have the love and support of many behind me.  I don’t think that Lance died because I was dependent on him, I think that his death allowed me to see that I am strong because I have an amazing cast of friends and family supporting me and I can’t go wrong with them at my side.

It still hurts to miss him as much as I do.  I still think I see him in crowds of people, hear his laugh in random places, and consider his words of wisdom when I am considering what to do next.  I hope that never ends.    But I know it is time to press Play again and get moving along.

Dear Guilt,

IMG_4667.JPG

Dear Guilt,

I took this time to deal with my own life. It’s mine; I need to tend to it.  But that’s not good enough for you is it?

You tell me it’s time to get over it, time to come back to the drama and help.  Funny, I don’t think that’s true… it’s the drama that got us here to begin with

Maybe you don’t want to see it, but you drove us here and I just chose to get out of the car. I don’t have to live my life trying to clean up your messes and fix it. That’s your job.

So yeah, maybe I am a bitch for taking away your power to manipulate.  But that’s something I can deal with.  You stand there looking indignant because you think I have forgotten you and you are owed respect.  But you haven’t earned my respect.  Trapping me in your troubles has come to an end.

I don’t owe you anything, and it’s time we both figure that out for ourselves.  I am done with doubt and trying to figure out how to make nice. Our history has been built on guilt and I am done with that now and ready to accept that I am a good person, a great mother, and I don’t have to feel guilty for things I had nothing to do with.

Most sincerely,

Crysta

Hippy Pits Natural Deodorant

Work Wives

Today I had a really interesting conversation with a dear friend about and article we both read today.  And I wanted to expand on that a bit here and post my thoughts about it.  Feel free to chime in with your own.

Dear Prudence,
My wife is planning to attend a professional conference in a few months in a warm location while I stay at home with our two young boys. In years past I have gone with her, but this year one son is in school. As much as I'll be frazzled by five days alone with them, I'm happy that my wife is able to build her reputation. But she will be attending the conference with a guy I don't care for, because he acts like he's my wife's best friend. They worked together for several years, and he was essentially her “work husband”—lunches together, drinks after work with their co-workers, texts and calls at home, inside jokes, birthday presents. I've tried to explain my belief that a man should not be “buddies” with another man's wife, but my wife doesn't see it and says they’re just pals. At the conference my wife will essentially be “dating” this guy for five days. I do trust my wife completely. But this guy is single and would, I'm sure, like to get involved if the opportunity were available. I’m annoyed that I will be home with the boys while she is on vacation with another man. I can't ask her not to go, and I can't join her. What can I do?

—Convention Dissension

Dear Convention,
What you shouldn’t do, once you tuck in the kids, is watch the movie Cedar Rapids. In that convention story, the insurance agent played by Anne Heche looks forward to the annual blowout so she can get away from her dutiful marriage, swim naked in the hotel pool, and get laid. Poor you, five days alone with your own sons, while your wife goes someplace warm (the nerve!), sees old colleagues, makes professional connections, and has some fun (bad Mommy!). One paragraph of your self-pity and bluster makes me want to pull up a lounge chair, order a pitcher of mojitos, and drown out the lectures on proper relations with the opposite sex. You’re right that some people have office spouses. This can be tricky because while it doesn’t offer conjugal privileges, it also doesn’t include such romance killers as wiping the kids’ noses and hauling the groceries. But you say you trust your wife completely, and during the years she worked with her office husband, they did not have an affair. I agree that if her relationship with her former colleague had been intruding on your time together, you would have been justified in asking for fewer happy hours and a moratorium on home phone calls—but they’re not even co-workers anymore. Stop harping on this conference, which is months away. When it rolls around, wish her a great trip and say you and the boys will enjoy doing guy stuff. That way, instead of thinking about what a relief it is to get away from her jealous prig, she will feel that no office husband measures up to the real thing.

—Prudie

So I personally agreed with Prudie, even though most of the time I think she is pretty clueless. This time however, I could relate and had my own feelings about the post. There are a lot of issues in that relationship that have little do with the “Work Husband” and that couple needs to address them for their children.

However my friend didn't agree.  And I totally understand and respect her point of view.  Her thoughts were that she didn't feel comfortable with the situation and wasn't sure she could feel as confidant in letting the one she loves have that type of friendship with a member of the opposite sex.

But I saw something in the letter from the husband that drew my attention. The situation is only from the husband's point of view. He uses words that draw emotion from the reader. He wants sympathy and wants to point our that he's upset that he is the one to be home with HIS children. So sad for him.. to have to spend time with his own kids.

My hubby travels A LOT. He travels everywhere, including warm sunny areas and leaves me home in the cold winterland.. but really, it's NOT a vacation for him. Even though I tend to tease him about leaving his cares and flying off to somewhere warm, I know he's not happy about it. I know there are lots of beautiful women who also have to travel and are at the events that he is at. But honestly, if you are going to be with someone you have to give up having know where they are night and day. Everyone is entitled to some private time and nobody should have the right to judge them for who they choose to have as a friend.
I think there is a different mentality when you are married to someone who has a job that requires them to travel and a corporate setting. My husband has always worked equally with both men and women and to be honest, at first I was pretty jealous when he would stay after work and go out for dinner and drinks with co-workers, especially when one of them is a very pretty and smart woman with lots of charm. I gave him hell all the time for spending more time with them than I felt he was with me while I was home “stuck” with the kids and not feeling good about myself and I took it out on him. I was the one who started a lot of fights and really damaged our marriage. I was wicked mean, I said terrible things.  But really it was my own ugly inner voice that I had allowed to take charge of my life and tell me lies.
I didn't see was that I was actually the one hurting my marriage with my own imagination. When he started traveling, I resented being left behind. I didn't see that he was miserable having to eat alone in restaurants and would often skip meals or eat in his room while talking to me. I didn't ever want to hurt him, but I did when I accused him of not loving me enough to stay faithful and not being able to control himself if I wasn't watching over him
.
The article says the wife “worked” with the man who the husband was jealous of.. it doesn't say that the guy doesn't still work in the same line of work maybe in a different role. Michael has had many different roles and he keeps his connections with everyone because at a corporate level those connections are very important. You never know when you will have to be gone 1,2, or even 3 weeks away from home and knowing someone else that you like makes those long trips away from home a little easier.. maybe you won't have to eat alone, maybe you won't be the wallflower at the meet and drink.
 The fact that this woman has found a friend who she can laugh with and probably vent about her jealous husband who obviously has a problem with her career. Having a friend of the opposite sex isn't a sin, a crime, or a good enough reason to be jealous. I have  guy friends, this doesn't mean I am having sex with them. We laugh, we have jokes that make sense to only us because we were together when something was funny, we call and text each other because we are friends… that's what friends do. It's not stupid to believe that my husband is entitled to have a good time on his work trips with people he calls his friends, even his “WorkWife” who is a lovely woman who I really enjoy spending time with as well.  And it's just as not stupid for me to be able to enjoy having dinner with my friends and love the fact that I am happily married and I know that my husband trusts me to keep my lady parts to myself. I am not some animal who can't control her impulses and neither is that poor woman.
And it's true that not everyone has a relationship like mine.  But that didn't come easily and I know it.  I've been in a few relationships that sadly ended in cheating. The one thing that I had to learn the hard way was that I am responsible for ME, my fears, my trust, my part in the relationship. You can't control anyone else with either fear of punishment, abuse, or manipulation. I can't demand that my spouse will have sex with only me. I can't demand that he will always love me. I can't set down rules with implied punishments. I can control only me and accept only my own rules for myself. I can have an open conversation with my spouse about how I would feel if he chose to have a sexual relationship with someone else, how it would hurt, how it would make me doubt our commitment to each other and our family, how I would take a serious hit to my own self-esteem. But ultimately, it's up to my husband to live his own life.I've been cheated on. And the one thing that I can see only now is that those relationships were never healthy before the cheating ever started.  But if I want to trust the people in my life not to hurt me, then I have to be willing to give them a chance first.
( reposted from Feb 23, 2012)

Take this weight off my back!

10408085_471450286319697_2051635264467343191_nIt was once so heavy, this boulder of emotions that I carried around on my back.  I allowed it to grow bigger and bigger as I added parts of my life that were dark and horrible to feed this creation of mine.  I carried it with me everywhere I went. Fear kept me from ever leaving home without it.  It didn’t take long before I was weakened by the load. But I refused to let it go, I grew dependent on that weight. so tired at points from moving his heavy stone from place to place in my life, that I often felt so weighted down that I didn’t leave my house, didn’t grow and enjoy life as I should have been allowed to.  I not only hated this boulder and loathed the life that it gave me, but I also began to have a relationship with it.  I named it, I fed it, and I cared for it with my whole being.  I sought out other people in my life that also had a relationship with their pain as I did with mine.

I knew it was there and protected it with deceptive conversations and excuses.  I hoarded it with lies and sheltered it from anyone who wanted to take it away.  This was my life, my burden, my addiction and I would be damned if I let anyone take it away.  I became so comfortable with my burden that I began to build layer upon layer of armor around it to shield me from ever having to live without it. But why?

When I wanted something more for myself, having been empowered by the layers of armor that I wore around, I was so heavy with this growing boulder of my pain that moving was almost impossible. Then I saw what needed to be seen, I had to unload my pain and let it go. Let it go… really just allow that boulder to become smaller and smaller. Allow those moments when I felt so alone and so unwanted to just peel off and fall away, I had to allow the past to shed off.  I don’t want to carry this around so heavy that it threatens to lay me down upon the ground and smother me if I can’t control the burden anymore. Instead I want to be free.

This stone grew lighter with moments of happiness that I allowed to become more important to me than my pain until it became only a stone in my pocket that I have concentrated every waking moment on keeping small. I know it’s there, I know that without control this will grow out of control again and I won’t know how to return.

I know where it started, feeling responsible for other’s pain.  I always felt as if I were the one everyone looked at when life began to become unbearable even as a small child. I would nestle into the warm arms of my great-grandmother who would hold me until my small body would need to be free to run around. But I could tell that she had her own pain that I wanted so desperately to calm.  Perhaps it was the loss of her soul-mate, the life that she left behind to become a mother, grandmother, and then great-grandmother.  Perhaps she had her own burdens to carry that I never knew about.  She would always look at me when she needed reassurance, her beautiful blue eyes would sometimes grow wet with tears that would always cause me to run to her and want more than anything to see her smile again.  I still think about her every day and wish that I had been kinder, more loving, listened more, gave more time to her, asked her more about her and her dreams, and told her more that I loved her.

10169183_728254433901752_2460796632854345508_nI know she carried her own feelings of guilt, responsibility, and they were as heavy for her as they were for me. But, I think that when I look at my life now, I have worked so hard to become a good person that she would be proud of, I know she wouldn’t want me to feel guilty for any part of my life. And that is where I have to stop myself from feeling like I am not good enough for this life that I live and own it.

I can’t say that this road to where I am in life has been easy, or that in truth that it has been too difficult. I tend to live my life from my heart, in spite of knowing how to guard it.  I have always tried to look at things and feel which way to turn. If it feels wrong, then I know I shouldn’t be a part of that path.  However, that has always called for me to question myself over and over and wonder if I am on the right road.

I have a lot of guilt about leaving a life behind and moving on for what I know was the right direction.  I had to make hard choices about who to stay in contact with and who to let go.  I know I don’t always believe in myself as much as my husband and friends seem to believe in me.  But I am learning and slowly but surely my boulder has become just a tiny stone in my pocket that I carry around as a reminder of who I used to be,  who I have to work hard not to be, and where I want to land.

One day, I’d love to reach into my pocket and find I have lost that stone and learned how to live without guilt and the bad memories have been forgotten.  I’ll let you know when that happens.

Until then,

Live happy or at least fake it!

 

( first published Jun 11, 2012 after coming to terms with the fact that I don't have to live a life of guilt. I am thankful for the life I have been blessed with, it's time to enjoy it. )

In the Quad

A couple of years ago I found a few friends that I thought were gone from my life, but found them again when I started using Facebook.  Finding them again really brought up some old memories and here's what came out of them.  The Quad was this area between the buildings of my high school.  We all had to pass through this open area to get from class to class.  There was a picnic table, 1 tree, and a bench.  No grass, no comforts, just this hollow place where sometimes we gathered.

* Update – Since writing this a few years ago I was able to catch up with a couple of those people from the Quad. We lost Lance last year to a tragic accident. I tried to stay in contact with the others but it just wasn't meant to be. I suppose we all have to grow up. *

In the Quad

It’s been a while that I thought of them, something would remind me of them and I would smile. I’d hear a song, see a flash of neon green, a strip of black lace, or even a scent.. and I’d go there, to that place in my mind.  Misfits all of them really, this motley group of children gathered around a picnic table in the dead center of the buildings.  Every morning, each would come racing to get to table and wash away the night with laughter and Mt. Dew.   When one was missing, it was disturbing and often one of us would go uncover why.  No technology assistance… just pure effort, walking, running, or borrowing a car to find out why one of us wasn’t where we should be.

It was safe there, this band of sinners.  The small watched over by protective broad shoulders, the weak backed up by sharp mouthed little warriors who feared nothing except rejection.  We were family, bonded together stronger than blood. For most of us, it was better.

We moved through the years ignoring the inevitable and not thinking far past the hot summers and cool river.  We didn’t talk much about the future, it would mean we would have to separate, and that wasn’t something we wanted to consider. Even when one of our youngest would graduate and leave us a year or more before the others, we bitterly denied it and begged her to stay.. fail so she wouldn’t be lost.
   As with all, there were feisty fights of willful young women and young bucks ready to claim a prize.  But rarely did we claim each other, and gave hell to those who tried.  No, we dated outside our circle.. and rolled our eyes in annoyance at the outsider’s attempts to join us.  Our males making low threats of harm to the dashing young man who’d charm one of the girls away, but ultimately it was up to her.  And the others.. we’d wait, and pick her up when she fell. They did for me.. time and again. Always warning me to stay away from him, everyone knew he was no good. But always knowing I’d go back.
And when I dared to go beyond the walls of safety, away from my school to trust the one who shouldn’t have been trusted.  I told none of them, I kept it secret because I was just doing what I was told. Perhaps it was just shame that kept me to silence. An evil crept in and threatened my core and I swore secrets that should have never been made.

My pack knew when he’d broken me.. and said little so I wouldn’t be further insulted. They knew.. and I knew it hurt them as much as it did me.

Things changed that summer.. Like a bomb went off in our center, and it was never the same.  We all scattered in that terrible storm.. some as far as around the world.  We were lost, lost to each other and lost to ourselves.
But I hear the music sometimes..  I remember their names.  And I wonder.. where have they gone and will I ever see them again?

Morning Madness

“I have so much to do, how am I ever going to get everything done?”  My own inner voice chanted as the traffic and weather cycled through the morning announcements on the radio once more.  I knew I had to get up, get moving, and start to tackle the things on my list.  My eyelids still swollen heavy from sleep slowly slid up and searched for light to recognize that yes, daylight had broken through the heavy curtains and I could no longer doubt that morning had come already.

“OK, get dressed and get Sara up for up for her big day.” Today was the day my youngest went in for her braces.  She has had a roller coaster of emotions leading up to this, but undoubtedly she was nervous about taking the next steps of her teenage years and getting her braces firmly attached to her teeth for the next 2 years. I felt for her, knowing she was going to be pretty miserable for the next couple of days til her mouth healed and adjusted to the metal intrusions.

Still comfortable in our bed, my husband seemed to be enjoying the last few minutes of peace as he stretched out and took up the rest of the bed in my absence. I peered around the corner at him as I brushed my teeth and got ready for the day, wishing I were back in bed for just one more hour. However my list of things that needed to be done today kept me from crawling back between the covers and laying my head on the soft pillows. “6 orders need to be finished this week, it’s Tuesday already! “  In addition to being a full time mother and wife, I am also a business owner and embroidery artist.  I had 6 orders waiting for me when I returned from my vacation and a promise to my customers that I wouldn’t fall behind.

Fine, I wouldn’t go back to bed and I wouldn’t begrudge my husband for taking his sweet time getting up and enjoying being comfortable, no matter how much I wanted to through a pillow at him for his comfort and my frustration of being awake so early in the morning.  I am NOT a morning person,  and it’s taken years for me to be able to master not snapping at everyone who talks too much, is too cheerful, takes too long getting out the door, or is generally in front of me.  I am the kind of person that needs to slowly wake up, lay in bed a while, and move through the morning at a slower pace. In fact my business, Morning Tempest Studios was a reflection of my desire to set my own hours and avoid mornings if at all possible.  Little did I know that even if I was my own boss, I would still be getting up early to get to work.

“Keep moving, can’t be late.”  Why is it when you are on a schedule everything seems to take so much longer?  Why can’t I just let the dog out without the cat running between all of our legs and outside, forcing me to chase after her yelling “ KITTY KITTY KITTY!! “  While thinking to myself… “Stupid freaking cat! Don’t make me chase you around the block! “

The toast in the toaster seemed to be put into slow motion as I scurried around trying to make sure I was ready to head out for the morning. Hunger reminded me that before I was going to leave the house, I was going to put something in my stomach.  I looked at my husband who had managed to get up, dressed and be making breakfast and wondered how was it that he seemed to be so much better at moving through the morning that I?  I had a schedule, I had preplanned my movements through the day the night before, and he just seemed to appear ready for the day.  I growled to myself that his better mood was likely because he got that extra 10 minutes of sleep that I had been deprived of.

Scarfing down my toast, looking for my shoes, yelling for my daughter to hurry up, and looking around for my purse I realized my husband was cleaning up the kitchen and doing the dishes by hand and drying them exactly the way I like them.  I sighed, wishing I had more time to help him and could show him I was very appreciative of his help.

8:15, time to go!  I start searching for my shoes and head for the door when my husband passes me in the hall and grabs his keys.  As he asks her if she’s ready I realize that he was about to leave with our daughter. Wait, HE is taking her to the orthodontist??  All of this rushing around I had been doing to get ready and HE was taking her?  I got up earlier, got dressed, and did the morning panic and I didn’t have to go?

Ugh!

But then I realized that even though my internal chatter was rambling on about schedules and not getting to sleep as much as I had wanted, my husband had his own gentle schedule and was there to help.

As they left I felt a sigh of relief as I grabbed a cup of coffee and headed to my studio.  Now I did have time to get my work started and make sure my customers were still happy with me.   I smiled as the hum of the machine began to thump along and thanked the heavens for my husband and the busy life I have.  No matter how hectic it gets, no matter how many times I wished I could get back into bed, I have someone who loves me deeply and is incredible at knowing when and how to help.

“Now get back to work!”

Random thought: Cleaning toilets

I am so thankful today for the ability to clean my bathroom.

Yep, I said it.  I am thankful that today I can tend to my house, tend to my bathroom that I only have to share with my husband, and that I am blessed enough to have that experience.

At first as I walked into the room my thoughts grumbled with negative messages. ” If he would clean up after himself I wouldn't have to do this. And why can't men aim better?”  But just as quickly as those thoughts entered I countered them with this.  “It doesn't matter who did what.  I am in control of my thoughts and how I feel.  Cleaning this bathroom takes a few minutes of my time.  Those few minutes could be far worse, but they aren't. I have the tools, I have a warm place to be in, and I am thankful that I am able to do this with my body. I am actually happy that I get this chance to do this not just for my family, but for myself.”

Guess what!  As I redirected my thoughts to thinking about the blessings I have and putting myself in a better place mentally, I was cleaning and before I knew it, the task of cleaning my toilet was over and I could move on to something else that I enjoy, like talking to my daughter and being thankful for this snow day with her and my boys. I am not at all angry about cleaning the bathroom or the other chores that must be done.  I am actually looking forward to having the chance to do them!

What chores do you hate doing?

His Letter to Me – A letter of grief, friendship, and letting go… sort of.

In August 2012, I lost my best friend in a terrible accident. He was so important to me and I was so freaking mad after a few months that people started to worry about me. So after a few months I went to a therapist to try to feel better. She tried to explain the steps of grief to me and I explained that I knew all of that and I STILL didn't feel like I was ready for this “good-bye” step that everyone was telling me that I needed to take. So she suggested I write a letter from my friend giving me permission to let go. Truthfully, it was and still is stupid.  But what came out of it wasn't crap.. and it did make me start to understand how I was supposed to live without him. So, for your reading pleasure, I give you “His Letter to Me. ”

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She said I had to write a letter. Not just any letter to anyone, but a letter from him to me. How in the world am I supposed to write a letter from him to me? He’s gone. Not coming back, not writing me any more letters. What is this supposed to prove… that I can truly hurt myself greater than anyone else?

Dear Crysta…

This is ridiculous, he would have never been that formal.

My long lost friend,

Funny, but not helping. Always the comic.

Hey Girl!

Dude, you are dead…I can’t imagine you are in a great mood. And you are supposed to be helping me through grief. Being happy about being dead isn’t helpful!

Hi…

I suppose that is better. But doesn’t really leave much room for a follow up lecture about how I am not getting over grief and how I am supposed to feel better that my best friend is dead.

What am I supposed to say? Welcome to the big circle of life? I am sorry I died? What is it I can say that is going to give you what you need to move on?

I think that is the point. There is supposed to be some closure to this and I am supposed to feel like you would want me to move on and I am supposed to come to some point where I can accept it.

That is bullshit. What happened is bullshit. There is no Zen answer to all of this. No mystical logic.

Exactly.

So, what can I tell you? I didn’t mean for this to happen. I didn’t mean to leave behind the people I love. I wouldn’t have if I had any choice. You know that! You know that I was in a good place for the first time in my life, I was headed in the right direction. Why the hell would I give that up? Why would I want to put the people I care about so much through so much misery?
You wouldn’t have. I know you didn’t mean for this to happen. It was an accident.

Yeah, and I am sorry that you are so unhappy and it is because of me.

Yeah, me too. But the point of this isn’t for you to be sorry. It’s for me to try and find a way to cope with going through the rest of my life without you in it. It’s for me to try to come to terms with knowing that everyone one day must move on. It’s for me to find some sort of magic key that unlocks my ability to accept this and not feel the way I do.

And she thinks that you writing a letter from me is going to help? Anyone who has ever gone through such a loss truly understands that you don’t stop talking to the dead, you just stop making the sounds out loud so people don’t think you are crazy.

I don’t know. I just know that I am so sad and unhappy that you are gone and it’s not a good place to be in. I just want to feel better. I don’t want to drown in this grief and sadness and turn into something I can’t control.

We came to each other for therapy. We supported each other through some pretty hard times. That’s a trusting place that is hard to get to. I get it. You don’t think you can give that trust to anyone else. Lots of people feel that way. Even when they don’t lose someone they are close to. But it’s time to start reaching out to those that are still there in the living world to help put you back in that good zone.

I do try. I try to put on a damned happy face and get involved in new things to keep me busy. But I need you…

Always have me, you know that.

I don’t want to say good-bye. That is what everyone keeps saying I need to do. To put some closure to this and I don’t have it in me yet! I still look at your pictures and hear your voice. I still wait for the phone to ring at the same time every day. I am not moving forward!

Maybe they consider good-bye as a healthy way of moving forward. They don’t understand what you and I know about why you don’t say good-bye. They think that if you can put this part of your life to rest that you will feel better and the weight of it won’t be so heavy on you. They don’t understand that you look at the pictures to make yourself happy, not to make yourself sad. They see you hurting and want to help. But you know now, time has passed, that I am not calling anymore. You want me to, you want the phone to ring. But you know now that it isn’t me… I am not calling you. So, you are moving forward… just slower than you or others might want.

Are you angry with me for being weak about this?

I couldn’t be angry with you for that. Unless you weren’t taking steps to get better. Or if you were hurting your family because of your anger. But you aren’t. You are just trying to move through some pretty big things right now and it is taking a lot of work and effort.

Yeah.

You will get through this. You have gotten through worse with much less support. And I am sorry I wasn’t a better friend back then to be able to help you.

You don’t have to be sorry anymore. But… you are right. This is hard, this is horrible. But, you are right… I have a lot of support and I am in a much better place than I was the other times I had to get through hard things. I just always thought we would grow old together and always be close.

That is where you are confused. We will always be close. You will never ever forget the special bond and friendship we had. I will always be special to you and nobody is asking you to let that specialness go away or be forgotten. People are just concerned that you are so sad about this that you will forget THEM.

I think I understand…

Good.

Maybe writing this letter wasn’t a bad idea.

Maybe not.