Posted in Family

Proven Guilty

Sometimes I get frustrated with a piece of me, either physical, emotional, or intellectual, and I wonder, “Where did that come from?”  I’ve long known that I have a tendency toward guilt.  Had I been raised Catholic, I might have blamed my religion.  I get asked all the time, “What are you, Catholic?”  Personally, I think the Catholics have been over-blamed for this, but maybe they’re just an easy target, what with all they probably should feel guilty about.

This morning, after Bubba’s nap, we watched an episode of Vikings — the drama one, not the History Channel one.  Afterward, he popped up off the couch declaring he had things to do.

Me:  What?  What do you need to do?
Bubba:  Stuff!  I have things to do!
Me:  Are you going to clean?
Bubba:  Well, for starters, I have to do some laundry.
Me:  So nothing I have to feel guilty about not helping with.
Bubba:  No.  You sit here on the couch a little longer

We do our own laundry.  I hate that he eyeball-measures the soap, and uses way to much bleach.  I wash my clothes in cold water and sometimes wash cleaning rags in with my towels.  That freaks my bubble-boy out.  So we avoid an argument and each do our own.

But what is my problem with the guilt?  As I sat pondering this, I had a flashback.

I’m playing with my Barbies, making furniture out of towels and empty boxes, because kids back then actually had to use their imagination.  My mom pops up off her chair where she’s been reading the newspaper all morning.  I hear shuffling and banging and running water.  After about (what I can only estimate after all these years) has been about 15 minutes, I go off in search of her.

Me:  Mom?  Do you want me to do anything?
Mom:  No . . . no . . .


Embed from Getty Images

After another bit of time, I follow the huffing, puffing, and sighing until I find my mom again.

Me:  Are we having company?
Mom:  No.  Uh-uh.
Me:  Why are you cleaning?
Mom:  Because it needs to get done.
Me:  Do you want help?
Mom:  Do you see anything that needs to be clean?
Me:  No.
Mom:  Well, then, I guess not.

No longer feeling comfortable playing with my toys, I begin to pick them up.  When I get everything put away, I go back and tell my mom I cleaned up my toys and ask if there is anything else she wants done.

Mom:  Well, you sure know when to ask.  I’m all done now.

This is a story we would laugh about in later years, but the residue may not have worn away even yet.  I know she was teaching me how to take initiative, and it probably worked for the most part.  But to this day I am a person who needs structure and straightforwardness.  I’m not sure if the chicken or egg came first there, but for the most part I’d say children need structure.

As a teen, I asked to apply for work, but was not allowed to do so.  Their reasoning was that I had everything I needed.  I should leave the jobs for kids who actually had to pay for their own clothes, cars, or school lunch.  I had a wonderful childhood, and indeed had everything a kid could dream of.  This is the space where most people insert the label “spoiled.”

I’ve gone out of my way in my writings not to speak ill of those I love.  And I don’t mean to do so here.  However, I will say that the single best thing they could have done for me is to let me get a job when I asked about it.  I think it might have changed the course of my life.  But then I feel guilty about wishing things might have turned out differently.  Of course I do.

DSCN1322
Me with my first child, the second on the way.

I grew up in a home that spoke of business around the kitchen table.  It was well-known that my parents valued honest hard work.  Their identities were very wrapped up in their business and the reward it gave them.  Yet, they were blind to the fact that they were denying me the same reward.    It wasn’t until I had children of my own that I felt truly needed.  It’s no wonder I went on to have three more after the first.  I thrived on the responsibility.  I became very involved in my children’s school, and in Scouting.  In effect, they were the job I never had.  I’m not sure if they would say that was a good thing or a bad thing.  Most likely some of both.

By the time I was old enough to get a job — and by that I mean my kids were becoming more independent — I sampled several different environments.  I was a cashier, a teacher’s assistant, and a server for a caterer.  I quickly learned what I had missed.  With the support of my family, I started a full-time career, and learned I am every bit the workaholic that my dad was.  I get my identity from good honest work.  I value people with a good work ethic.  I am passionate about service to others.

So maybe I learned guilt at my mother’s knee.  Maybe I’m naturally a person who feels guilty sitting while others are actively employed.  Or perhaps I should just repent and join the Catholics.  Maybe what makes us US is something we will never truly figure out.

As I keep telling my kids, you can’t blame everything on your parents.

Peace . . .

Posted in Awards

Who . . . Me?

I’m not exactly accustomed to receiving awards . . .
There were a couple bowling trophies from my adolescent years:
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1977-1978
Before the internet we had to bowl for entertainment.
And the Pinewood Derby Adult Division 2000 from the Boy Scouts:
dscn0759
Laugh if you must, I’m very proud of this one.
The Girl Scout Leader awards:
dscn0755
I miss the cookies . . .
Now, and with no warning, I have been nominated for the Liebster Award:
liebster
I am overwhelmed!  However, as we all know, of those to whom much has been given, much is required.  There are questions to answer, questions to ask, a thank you to write, and nominations to . . . um . . . nominate!  And so with no further ado, I’d like to formally thank Lois from livingsimplyfree for presenting me with this nomination.
Lois asks that I answer eleven questions she has posed to her nominees:
  • Why do you blog?

I blog because I enjoy putting my random thoughts into words and editing them until I like the way they sound when read.

  • If you had more free time, how would you like to fill it?

First of all, I would take a nap, which would give me more energy to do all the things I say I’m too tired to do.  I would read, hike, hang with my kids, cook, fix stuff, play with the dogs, organize my photos, write . . .

  • With the holidays fast approaching, what is your favorite/least favorite holiday and why?

What is not to love about Thanksgiving?  Food, family, and no gift expectations to meet.

  • What is one place you would like to visit?

Hard to say . . . you won’t find it in a travel brochure.  I like off-seasons, nearby sites and the unexpected — maybe even around the next corner!  I won’t know where I want to visit until I’ve been there and seen it.

  • If you could meet anyone, in any time period who would it be?

I would like to meet Galileo and show him our science textbooks.

  • I love a good laugh, it makes even the worst days better.  So what caught you off-guard and made you laugh recently?

At work the other day I accidentally called my cell phone while trying call a co-worker.  I thought, “Who the heck is calling me, now?”  The number looked familiar.  Indeed, it looked like a number from my workplace.  In fact . . . it looked like MY number!  Then just as I looked at my desk phone, I heard in my headset my own cheerful voice, “Hello!  You’ve reached the cell phone of Jean . . . ”  Laughed so damned hard, I snorted!

  • If you had to choose, would you choose more money or more time?

As shallow as this sounds, I would take more money.  I barely have enough money for the time I’ve already been given, so more time would just be more expensive, and lead to more anxiety.  Wishing for more time is romantic, but I’m an incurable realist.  There is no such thing as more time, but more money?  Hand it over!

  • What is your biggest pet peeve?

I can’t stand know-it-alls — this includes the person who knows how I should eat, how everyone should vote, who knows what kind of person you are by the way you look, who knows how to raise your children . . . you know this person, and you can’t stand them either.  Admit it.

  • What is your favorite low cost/no cost activity or hobby?

Being a very visual person, I love photography.  It’s not a serious hobby.  I have a digital camera and don’t do anything terribly creative with it.  Photography slows me down and encourages me to look for things of beauty or interest that I would otherwise walk by.

  • Are you a morning person or a night owl?

My best day begins early after a good night’s sleep, quietly watching the sun illuminate the landscape.

  • Since those of us in the northern hemisphere are moving towards winter, what is your favorite spot inside your home to spend time in?

If actions speak louder than words, it would be my living room where I read, write, watch movies and steal the occasional nap.  BUT if I can get myself in bed early enough, I do take pleasure in the 15 to 30 minutes before I drift off, when the dogs are settled in, I am washed and brushed, the lights are low, with a good book in hand.

Pass it on:

This award also requires that I nominate bloggers who have 200 or less followers.  Of those blogs I follow, only a few actually show the number of followers they have.  I’m not sure who makes these rules, but I’ve seen some Liebsters say they have to list 5, others say 3 to 5, some 11.  I will list my favorites of those who I think have 200 or less followers.  Let’s see how long the list gets:

  1. Richly Bizarre (who has random thoughts like me)
  2. Boomdeeadda (writes about love and life and two black rescue animals — cats, but I won’t hold that against her)
  3. The Rabbit Rabble (did I mention I have opened my home to a rabbit? — that will be a future blog)
  4. Jiggly Bitch (it was the whipped cream/dirty dancing post that made me follow her)

Okay well only four.  And to be fair, I didn’t see how many followers The Rabbit Rabble had, but I took a stab that it is less than 200.  Hopefully being wrong will not cost me the award.

The bloggers above must now answer the eleven questions of my choosing, listed below:

  • How old would you think you are if you didn’t know your age?
  • When you have 30 minutes to kill, what do you do?
  • If you knew it would be personally read and replied to, which celebrity would you choose to write?
  • What is one of your favorite quotes?
  • How do you prepare your favorite vegetable?
  • What do you need that other people might not?
  • Would you rather hunt for paranormal activity with Jason and Grant on Ghost Hunters, fish for River Monsters with Jeremy Wade, or have dinner with Les Stroud on Survivorman?
  • What rule do you like breaking?
  • What was the last song that got stuck in your head?
  • If you could learn to do anything, what would it be?
  • What do you spy with your little eye?

For those of you who were not nominated, but are still reading, I would love to read your answers to any of the above!

Posted in Lore

Here, in Oz

As one of the most referenced stories of all time, it is not uncommon to discover you are in the Land of Oz.  You may long to go “over the rainbow,” find that you are “not in Kansas anymore,” direct someone to “follow the yellow brick road,” take a day trip with “the munchkins,” or be watching out for “Lions and Tigers and Bears! — Oh MY!”

Never having done so, I decided to read the book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by L. Frank Baum.  I had been told it is mildly different from the film(s), and that is true.  Somewhere in the middle, I started to find symbolism relevant to certain philosophies.  I did a search, and it turns out there are as many different parallels for the Wizard of Oz as there are readers.  This is mine.

The Yellow Brick Road:  This is my journey through mid-life.  I’ve come from the gray prairie of Kansas, where nothing changes, day in or day out.  I was tossed from a sudden storm into a land where I recognize nothing, including the image in the mirror.  Dorothy “knew very well she was only an ordinary little girl who had come by the chance of a cyclone into a strange land.”

Dorothy:  I play the lead role in my own analogy.  Dorothy is looking for a home; comfort, dscn0373shelter, rest, family, refuge.  She learns early in the story that she has taken for granted the comfort of tedium.  Dorothy explains to the Scarecrow, “No matter how dreary and gray our homes are, we people of flesh and blood would rather live there than in any other country, be it ever so beautiful.  There is no place like home.”

Toto:  “It was Toto that made Dorothy laugh, and saved her from growing as gray as her other surroundings.”  Toto is my ego; my spirit and psyche.  He is my intuition that acts without thinking.  He may bark and even bite, but we are inseparable.  “Toto did not really care whether he was in Kansas or the Land of Oz so long as Dorothy was with him.”  At one point Dorothy and her companions find they are lost.  “Toto found that for the first time in his life he was too tired to chase a butterfly that flew past his head.  So he put out his tongue and panted and looked at Dorothy as if to ask what they should do next.”

Scarecrow:  My three chums are my alter egos.  Each searching for something different.  My scarecrow searches for a brain; wisdom.

Tin Woodman:  The second companion is found stiff from rust.  He searches for a heart; passion, tenderness, empathy, humanity.

Cowardly Lion:  Lastly, the Lion joins the other three, seeking courage.  The Scarecrow asks the Lion, “Have you brains?”  The Lion answers “I suppose so.  I’ve never looked to see.”

The Tin Woodman challenges the Scarecrow on his longing for a brain.  “But once I had brains and a heart also; so, having tried both, I should much rather have a heart.”  After some time, the two fellows get into it.

“All the same,” said the Scarecrow, “I shall ask for brains instead of a heart; for a fool would not know what to do with a heart if he had one.”

“I shall take the heart,” returned the Tin Woodman; “for brains do not make one happy, and happiness is the best thing in the world.”

As readers, we know that courage, brains, and heart are most effective when used together, so the three are devoted friends.

Obstacles:  Every excursion has its obstacles.  Dorothy’s is wrought with dark enchanted forests, and deadly fields of poppies.  Doubts and anxiety loom about like a Wicked Witch, cackling at me and humiliating me.  Using the brains, heart and courage I didn’t know I had, I ease myself through.  Friends support me like Glinda the Good Witch, working magic to bolster my confidence and making me feel safe.

The Emerald City:  I’ve already been to the Emerald City and it’s not all it was cracked up to be.  It is not really made of Emerald.  I have seen the man behind the curtain.  dscn0400I now know the wisdom, passion, and courage that I need to find peace already exist inside of me, or at least as much as they ever will.   However, this is not the end of my journey.  To find my way home, it seems I still need to kill the wicked doubt and anxiety that have tormented me all along the way.

Am I to find that once I accomplish this seemingly impossible act, it will be as simple as clicking my heels together?  Perhaps . . . Perhaps.

Read more about philosophies of The Wizard of Oz

Read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

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Desperately . . No . . Persistently Seeking . . .

A Certain Age

On Goal Setting

Posted in Lore

A Certain Age

Happy Birthday?          Yes please!

It’s been an interesting year.  Almost a year ago, to the day, I turned fifty.  It was no big deal.  Just another birthday.  It’s only a number.  That was before my body rose up against me.

Every symptom I Googled brought up an article that started with the words “At a certain age . . .”  WHAT certain age?  Surely I’m not at any certain age.

Look, it took me forty years to feel beautiful in my body, only to find a completely different one now, just a few years later.  What cruel joke is this?

Well I’m not going back to hating myself and despising the person in the mirror.  There is another birthday looming, and I am determined to find the beauty in my new self.

The following is what I have come up with so far:

  • Older and wiser.  The decisions I make are based on experience, not whim or intuition.  When people ask my opinion they take it to heart.
  • Beautiful.  People are beautiful.  Faces are stories.  Eyes are windows.  My face and eyes say I have a story.
  • Confidence.  Having experience brings confidence.  As I age, I am more confident in the beliefs I hold, based on my experiences.  Having confidence allows me to be myself.  Right out loud.  Ever wonder why Gramma Shirley was so outspoken?  The span of life experience and the confidence it gave her, earned her to right to speak up.  I can’t wait to be really old so I can say some really outrageous stuff!
  • Death defying.  Let’s face it.  Every day is a gamble.  Step out your door and you take your life in your own hands.  Heck, stay in and suffer stroke or fall on a wet floor.  I have made it through FIFTY-ONE Minnesota winters and have lived to tell about it.  As of this writing, I have defied death 18,625 days in a row!
  • Touch.  Never underestimate the power of human contact.  As we age, we are touched less and less.  It is a hunger from which many don’t even know they are starving.  Hug much.  Squeeze a hand.  Kiss a cheek.  Pat a back.  Link an elbow.  Nudge an arm in jest.  It is the one gift I receive as I give.
  • Openness.  I keep my mind open, and let everything fly in.  I believe it is when we close our mind to ideas and people that we become old.  I’ve met a great deal of young people who seem very old because they have closed their minds to new things.  And my heart.  I keep my heart open.dscn0572
  • Hands.  My hands may be arthritic, but they can type my thoughts.  They can prepare meals, work in the garden and scratch a dog’s ear.  They wear rings that carry meaning for me.  They remind me of my mother’s own arthritic hands which never stopped moving despite her limitations.
  • Peace.  The opposite of peace is fear.  Fear comes from worrying about what has happened in the past or will happen in the future.  There is only now.  Right now, and only now, can I choose to be at peace.
  • Passion.  For life, for love, for creation.  My passion starts and ends with me.  No one can give it to me, nor can they steal it for their own.  On these pages are my passion.  Enjoy it, hate it, comment on it, but you will not feel it as I feel it.  And as long as I feel it, I am new.

Clicking on the cupcake photo above will bring you to a recipe for
Brownie Batter Chocolate Fudge Cupcakes
on Kevin & Amanda’s Recipes/Delicious recipes to spice up your dinner rotation.

Posted in Lore

Desperately . . No . . Persistently Seeking . . .

Well, here we are. I’m blogging. You’re reading it. It’s frightening, really. What scares me about it? . . .

You!

Yes, you — out there — wherever you are. I’m afraid you might . . . READ it!

My tag line declares that I am “Seeking all things peaceful, balanced, whole, and precious.” I am surprised how easily I came up with this, and how fully it describes me. I considered “Desperately Seeking . . ” But desperation implies a sense of immediacy. Persistently might have been a better adverb. This is a long road.

Peace: It comes to me when I’m in the present. It might happen on a long woodland walk, or it might happen in the middle of chaos. But when I’m there, the past isn’t weighing me down, the future doesn’t worry me. I’m quite sure the present is where the peace resides.  The trouble is that the present is so elusive.

Balance: I imagine my life as a big yellow exercise ball, and I’m on top. The ball shifts. I react. The ball rolls underneath me in another direction. Every reaction is greater than the last. Inevitably, each attempt lands me ass over teakettle. I’ve been to the Cirque Du Soleil. I want THAT kind of balance!

Whole: I believe in whole food, whole earth, whole people, whole hearts. Most everything I can think of has been dissected, broken, processed, and damaged, until it is unrecognizable. I seek wholeness.

Precious: Family, True Friends, Love, Laughter, Comfort, Healing, Passion, Memories, Reason.

As I said, this is a long road.  Like the Tin Man, Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion and Dorothy, I may find that the things I seek have been with me all along. I am definitely open to that possibility! But even Dorothy would never have found her way home if she hadn’t started out on the yellow brick road. So I guess we’re off!

Oh yeah, and like Dorothy and her Toto, I will be bringing along Barney and Sabbath. More about them later.

Barney & Sabbie
Dorothy had Toto.