The Best People I Know

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I have been one lucky woman this past week.  I spent time with each of my kids.  Spending time with my kids was once something I took for granted.  I am their mom.  They woke me up in the morning, and they were by my side all day long.  I remember craving time for myself during those years.  Mommy sometimes took a 15 minute break when the kids were little.  I would sit quietly in the living room for a few peaceful moments and enjoy a cup of coffee while the kids peeked around the doorway wondering why I wanted peace or quiet.  How could that be fun?

Where did that time go?  Where are those little blonde, big-eyed children who always had hundreds of  questions?  I can close my eyes and see the faces of those little children  so clearly.  Now they, except for Lola, are all grown up.  Their lives are busy.  My life has changed, too, since those days of sunshine, swings, and the sandbox.  While I miss those days, there is something equally exciting in seeing them become adults.  Their choices are their own.  Of course, as parents we try to help and guide them, but now it is up to them to fulfill their own destinies and make their own decisions.  It is rewarding to see them become such fine adults.

Luke was home from Marquette for three days.  T and I drove to pick up  Luke and Shannon from the train station late on Wednesday evening.  It had been a long week for them of mid-term exams followed by a day of travel.  They were travelling home together for the first time.  I felt such joy to see them stepping down from the train.  They have such deep love and friendship between them.  Beneath all of that is a steady mutual respect.  I love seeing my son become a good, kind, considerate man who treats his girlfriend with admiration and support.  I savored those moments as the four of us drove home on the winding country roads.  I felt so safe and secure to be snug in the car with people I loved so much as we drove through the dark.  The girls were waiting for their brother when we made it home.  There was laughter and LOUD once again in our house as we all welcomed Luke back home.

I enjoyed having my grown up son home for a few days.  I had missed his sense of humor.  I had missed his banter with his sisters.  There was a sense of celebration for those days when our son was back home.  He took Lola to the corn maze and the pumpkin patch.  We celebrated with extended family.  We shopped with him for a few things he needed to take back to school.  We had a final night as a family at our favorite pizza place.  That last night, Luke and I sat up late together in the living room and watched Netflix.  I don’t even know the name of the show.  It was about aliens.  It was stupid, really bad, but that didn’t matter.  I loved being snuggled on the couch under a blanket.  I loved sitting up late, sipping a Pepsi, and munching on popcorn with my son.

Luke headed back to Milwaukee early on Saturday morning, and I headed to Chicago to see Andrew.  Andy needed a few cold weather things from home.  He had tickets to a movie screening on Saturday night and wanted company.  I was happy to bring him the things he needed and to have a chance to hang out in the city with my son.

I was apprehensive about seeing him.  I hoped that he was adjusting well to this move.  I had been concerned after his recent visit home.  He seemed to be homesick at the time, but I had not mentioned it to him.  My oldest son, this young man who has faced more challenges in his young life than most people will face during a lifetime, oh….how I worry about him.  I want his life to fit.  I want him to feel self-confidence.  I want him to succeed.  As I rode along on my way to Chicago, I wondered what I would find.  A mom “knows.”  I would know the moment I saw his face if he was doing as well as his phone calls would lead me to believe.

I was thrilled the moment I saw him come around the corner.  His eyes sparkled.  He looked GREAT!  OK, other than the facial hair and the fact that he needed a haircut!  🙂  He was happy.  He was actually happy!  He had so much to tell me.  He told me about a girl he had met.  She’s a teacher specializing in ADD.  We laughed.  Where had she been all of his life?   He talked about school.  He laughed about cleaning his apartment furiously the night before.  He had graded papers from school strategically placed on the kitchen counter.  He is doing fabulously!  The very best part of all, though, was the huge squeeze he gave me and the genuine smile on his face.

We had a wonderful day and night.  We took the train around the city.  We walked for miles and miles.  We shared wonderful food.  We tried new beers. We went to the zoo.   He took me to his favorite neighborhood hang-outs, and it was so good to see people call him by name.  It was good to see that he is making a life for himself.  The visit was short, but it was perfect.  I am so happy for him and so darn proud!

Back home now, and while I love the city and have developed such a soft spot for Chicago, I am experiencing a new-found appreciation for my quiet country home.  I’m beginning to see this wonderful place where I live as the best kept secret in the world.  It’s safe and calm, beautiful and peaceful.  I’m happy to be here….right here.

Tonight the girls and I were happily catching up and enjoying the whole “Girls Rule” feeling in the house again.  As much as T pretends to be horrified to be the only male in the household, I know he secretly loves being surrounded by the female members of the family.  He often looks baffled as the conversations swirl around him, but I can see his enjoyment as he witnesses his daughters becoming young women.  Lola was happily chatting about her Halloween costume choices, and Emily was telling me about her fantastic weekend.  Em’s boyfriend had been home from college, too.  They had a great time together, and she was sharing every detail.  She seems to be shocked that he “really likes her.”

Later, the girls and I were all in the bathroom painting our toenails while T was watching football.  We were still being silly, talking, and enjoying our time together.  Em told me that she had bought some Nair over the weekend, but hadn’t tried it out yet.  I laughed.  The last time she tried Nair on her legs, she freaked out in the shower.  She accidentally touched her head and was afraid that she was going to end up bald.  We laughed as we remembered that day.  She had screamed bloody murder in the shower, and I had come running.  I had to scrub off her legs for her while she protected her head hair.  Knowing that her last Nair experience had been traumatic, I asked her why she would even want to try it again. “Oh, you know me, Mom.  I make the same mistakes over and over before I finally learn.”  Ha!  I laughed.  Like mother, like daughter!  I certainly hope she learns to stop doing that much earlier in her life than her mother did.

Things I Love…

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OK, I will admit it.  Yesterday I was wallowing in self-pity.  I’ve done a pretty good job of wallowing today, too, but I have tried my damnedest to remember that THIS, this self-pity phase, while it is really horrible to live through, is not all there is to life.  I have been down before, but I have never given up.  Ever.  It’s not in me to give up.  There is way too much beauty in life for me to ever forget what a privilege it is to be alive.

As I drove back to the office from lunch today, I tried to refocus.  I mentally listed one thing after another that make me happy.  Yes, many of them are worthless, superficial things.  Some of them are big…HUGE.  That isn’t what matters.  These are all things that remind of the joy in life.  These things, little and big, are what make it worth getting up in the morning and continuing to put one foot in front of the other.

Nail Polish.  I have a new obsession, and both of my daughters are right on board.  We buy nail polish, and more nail polish.  It’s not unusual to change shades each day.  I only paint my toenails, but they have been colorful this summer.  Our new favorite brand is Essie.  They have the most fantastic shades.  The girls have even gotten me to try shades of green and blue.  

 

8-year-olds.  I love 8-year-olds, and I am lucky enough to get to live with one this year.  8-year-olds are wise and innocent all at the same time.  They really have life figured out, and they aren’t messed up by the sexual urges and matters of the heart that lie ahead.  8-year-olds are perfect, little human beings.

Coffee.  Few things give me as much pure pleasure as coffee.  Thankfully, I work in a coffee-fueled environment.  There is always a fresh pot of coffee brewed in the conference room at our office.  We make a pot before meetings.  We make more after lunch.  We send out departmental emails to let everyone know when a fresh pot has been put on to brew.  In the event that there isn’t a fresh pot of coffee, there is a back-up plan.  There’s a Keurig brewer in an office upstairs.  We all keep Keurig pods in reserve.  I have a lovely tray with my supply of Caribou Obsidian Keurig pods.  Ah…  Delicious!

Caribou Coffee.  I love Caribou!  Hands down, it is the BEST coffee.  If you have never been to Caribou, GO!  Try the dark chocolate mint mocha or the raspberry dark chocolate mocha. Ahhhh…..  I was a happy camper today, because I finally bought a car magnet.  “I Love Coffee.”
 
Pepper the Wondercat.  I love my cat, .  He runs through the house calling “maaaaa maaaaaa maaaa,” until he finds me.  He makes a funny noise when he runs up and down stairs.  He “tells” me when he needs more food in his bowl.  Mostly, I love how he sleeps on my shoulder all night long.  He waits until I settle in, then he climbs up from my toes.  He walks up the length of my body, and settles in when he reaches my shoulders.  He curls up, and there he stays all night long.  He seems to know that I need him, that I need to be comforted.

My kids.  I love having the opportunity to raise my four children.  Highs and lows, ups and downs, dirty diapers, dirty words, achievements, laughter, hugs, and smiles.  There has never been one moment of regret.  They are all so very unique.  Such a surprise being a parent has been.  I am not necessarily a woman who has always loved being around kids, but my own?  Nothing in life could compare to the experience and privilege of raising these children.

Hugs.  There was a time long ago, when I was not a “hugger.”  Now, I have come to value hugs.  When you’re getting enough hugs, life is good, very good.  Other times, sad times, there is nothing I crave more than a simple hug.  I try to remember that.  I try to be generous in liberal with my hugs.  Each of my children are hugged each and every day.  The girls and I hug constantly.  Nothing feels better, nothing conveys love and safety like a hug.  I love the warmth, comfort, and scent of someone I love.

Pepsi.  Pepsi is perfect. After my first cup of coffee, I pour a Pepsi.  Perfectly bubbly.  Perfectly refreshing.  It tickles my nose.  It’s not too smooth or syrupy.  It cut through the morning feeling in my mouth.  Pepsi is perfect.  I really wish I could someday experience Pepsi in a tall bottle once again.  I remember from my childhood the old Pepsi machine on the Main Street of our little town.  Plug in a quarter, reach in,  the machine would release a bottle.  I can remember being scared that I wouldn’t be able to pull it out fast enough before the machine would once again maintain its grip.  That never happened, though.  Each time I was rewarded with the long glass bottle of pop that I would open on the front of the machine.
It’s not a long list, and it’s certainly not complete.  Life is full of wonders, large and small.  I’m sure I will be back again with my moments of self-pity, self-doubt, and self-loathing.  Today, though, it has felt good to take a short break from all of that.  It has felt good to remember a few of the things that make me happy.

Blogging Friends

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Sometimes I miss the old blog.  Those of you who read the “Other” blog will understand why  I miss it.  You will certainly know why it has been a positive experience not to write the previous blog any longer.  Without dwelling on it, or spilling the beans so to speak, I will just say that the old blog dealt with one not so pleasant subject.  One subject, and I beat that subject into the ground.  Getting rid of the old blog was difficult emotionally, but WordPress made it surprisingly easy.  Just a couple of clicks and hundreds of blog entries were gone.  A year and a half of the worst times in my life were recorded in excruciating detail, but I am glad that they are gone.

This new blog is still taking shape, and I’m trying to find my voice.  I’m still wandering down this path and searching for my place in this world.  I am beginning to become friends with this new blog, though.  By disallowing myself to dwell on the old subject matter, it has helped ME not to dwell on it as well.  Sometimes, though, it’s not easy.  When I was hurting or upset, writing helped, and I miss that one final outlet.

Even though I deleted the old blog, I was able to take something very important along with me.  While the blog had become something of a nemesis, the friendships I made in the blogging world carried me through some very difficult personal times.  I have found that these real friendships are much more healing and more valuable than the thousands of words I threw out into cyberspace.   Those words are gone, and sometimes that loss saddens me, but the network of support that those words built still remains.

As my former blog readers know, I wrote about searching and seeking answers.  I wanted reasons, and I wanted meaning.  I didn’t want to go through hell and have it mean absolutely nothing.  Even though I could not change the details or results of my situation, I wanted to think that I hadn’t walked away ruined and less of a person.  Well, I’m still working on that one, but the load is beginning to lift.

I’m still learning, and sometimes I falter, but I am beginning to trust my heart once again.  I am beginning to listen to the tiny voice of reason that had been there (sometimes shouting!) all along.  Now, when the going gets tough, and it sure does get tough at times, instead of pouring out my heart, soul, anger, pain, and a variety of other negative emotions into my blog, I pick up the phone and I reach out to a REAL person.

Last night was one of those nights.  I tried all of the things that usually help turn my thoughts to more positive things.  I had a Special Pepsi.  I cleaned out a dresser drawer.  I spent some time ironing, but I still found myself pacing around with way too much on my mind.  Finally, I picked up the phone and called a blogging friend.  She has been there for me through so very much this past year.  Last night was no different.  Within moments, I was laughing out of control.  I smile even now as I think of the silliness of that conversation.  What was important is that she had me laughing at myself.  She brought me out of the rut that I had tripped and fallen back into face-first.

If there is nothing else good that has come out of all of this pain, that friendship across the miles will be something that will always be special to me.  My sweet blogging sister and I have laughed, and we have cried.  We have cussed like sailors, and wondered together over signs from the spiritual world.  Although we met through shared experience, and not such a good experience to have, our friendship is so much more now than the sadness that brought us together.   So many other blogging friends have touched my life, too,  and offered help and hope to me in horribly difficult times.  I often think of us as little planets.  Sometimes our orbit intersect.  Other times, our worlds are further apart, but we are still there in our blogging universe.

A year and a half ago, I wrote my first entry in the “Other” blog.  I don’t think there was a single day that I didn’t write an entry.  I know there were days when I wrote more than once.  My readers yelled at me, cheered me up, wanted to smack me, and offered me cyber hugs.

Interestingly, several fellow bloggers/readers and I began our journeys around the same time.  A year and a half later, we are all still here.  (Amazingly….Thankfully!)  We are older.  Maybe, we are wiser.  Some of us are happier, while some of us are still looking around in disbelief as we continue to survive in the aftermath.  Sadly, some are still in the midst of the confusion.  I believe I may be a little of each.

If you read the “Other” blog, I thank you for the love, support, and friendship…even if we did not connect on a personal basis.  If you didn’t read the “Other” blog, thank you for reading this one.  This blog is ME.  This is my real life and who I really am as a human being.  There is me to ME than the one subject of the “Other” blog.  This blog is about the things I hold dear, the things that make me smile or tick me off, the little things that I see in my ordinary life.  While the “Other” blog was my heart, this blog is my life.

Cloud of Depression

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It’s back.  It’s hanging over my head.  I wish I could huff and puff and make it go away. 

It wasn’t there when I woke up.  The weather is beautiful today.  It has nothing to do with lack of sunshine.  I like what I’m wearing.  It’s not a bad hair day.  No one and nothing in particular has upset me. 

It began during our weekly staff meeting.  As I sat there, I could feel my nerves zipping around.  I felt twitchy.  I felt claustrophobic.  I wished so much that I could simply get up and walk out of the room.  Where did I want to go, though?  Oh….I wanted to go somewhere and lie down curled up in a ball and just sleep until this goes away. 

I wasn’t sitting in the best spot at that meeting.  We all take turns going around the table and giving project updates.  I was last.  AND…I was furthest away from the coffee maker.  Damn, how I wanted a cup of coffee.  Of course, I started obsessing about how I might possibly make my way around the table and across the room to pour a cup.  Impossible.  So, no coffee. 

As I sat there, my phone buzzed and buzzed.  Emails, so many emails, were coming in while I was wasting my time at this mandatory, time-wasting meeting.  The buzzing just added to my stress and anxiety.  I wasn’t alone.  Everyone’s phones were buzzing.  Everyone was only listening half-heartedly, just waiting for their turns to speak. 

I thought about the Lexapro I had taken this morning.  Months ago, I began taking Lexparo.  At first it was a wonderful help, but I lost myself somewher along the line.  I became a zombie.  10 mg. wasn’t working for me.  I had been a zombie on 10 mg., so I had stopped taking it altogether.  Not a good idea.  I was back on the Lexapro, but this time taking 5 mg.  For the past couple of months, that had been a good balance.  Not today.  I thought about taking another 5 mg when I got back to my office.  I didn’t do it.  I don’t want to got that route.  I don’t want to zombie-out again.  I just want this to go AWAY.

It’s lunchtime now.  I ran a few work-related errands.  My face feels like stone when I interact with people.  It might break if I were to smile. 

I stopped for some comfort food.  Chic-fil-A and a Pepsi.  I’m back in the office now with my door closed.  I never close my door.  I want a few moments of chicken and peace.  I hear people slow down as they pass by my door.  Well, it’s no crime to eat in peace.  Screw them.