August 28, 2012

Worth My Attention

Posted in Life Lessons tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , at 3:03 pm by openendedcomment

In twenty years I have not missed the pleasure of viewing a Republican or Democratic National Convention.  I am a huge, massive fan of politics.  You know how some people prepare for the Superbowl for months and for weeks all they can talk about it who will do what…well, that’s me in the days preceding a State of the Union address.  I love this stuff and every four years I get to enjoy a huge, high-stakes election and all of the wonderful speeches and ads and lobbying and mud-slinging  and the debates, Oh! the debates!  I get my legal pad out and my glasses on and sit in my big leather chair while flowing the entire evening’s arguments.  Did I mention that I am also a huge, massive geek who was in debate in high school and therefore gets excited to flow chart a presidential debate? Yes, well, let’s just say that my husband found it about as stunning as you likely do at this moment and he made me promise to never, ever do it in front of anyone.  Ever.  Especially after he witnessed me (he was in the room, his fault, he could have left) pointing out when a candidate missed an opportunity on a  responsive comment to nail their opponent as though I were calling a Vikings playoff game where Favre was assaulted by the Saints.  That intense…I get that worked up.  Normally.  Here we are, with the keynote speeches being prepared for tonight and I seriously do not give one shit.  Not even a shard of a shit.  And that, dear readers, is unacceptable.

If someone like me, an admitted political ubur-nerd isn’t even remotely excited about either candidate or the election itself, there is a problem.  I’ve been reading the political Facebook postings, the blogs, scanning the papers both in print and online,  and I’ve seen the signs going up in neighborhoods I pass on a daily basis.  I’ve been doing everything I can to get myself into it…and still, nothing.  I’m into some of the issues…but not the election.  I’ve been upset over some truly inane comments made by the more obviously obtuse candidates on either side of the aisle.  I’ve laughed out loud at the mind-numbingly idiotic choices made by both major parties in candidates.  I’ve even been motivated to donate to a group supporting a ballot item in my state, but none of it has actually excited me the way I am accustomed to being during the pageantry and drama of an election year.

Maybe it’s me.  Maybe I’m just finally over all of the dead horse arguments.  Maybe there’s nothing new to talk/think about.  Maybe I am alone in this.

But if I am not, if there are more like me than unlike me, then both parties have some serious worrying to do.  You see, when someone like me, a voter who always votes no longer gives a crap, when the stakes are so very high and the race so close it is essential to excite and ignite the base of the respective parties as well as to endeavor to sway the more independent voter to your side, you’d better find something to get them (me) fired up about.  I am not swayed,  I am not even leaned much less nudged.  I am not overly pleased with the current administration yet not at all impressed with the candidates I have available as Option B. Actually, I’m kind of creeped out by many of the players in Option B.  

I want a candidate.  A leader.  A hero or at least someone to make me sit up and take notice.  Give me just one new, good idea.  A great one is preferrable.  We, I, the voting public, am not so jaded I cannot be persuaded, nor am I so dumb I cannot see and hear that each argument and issue these fools pontificate on from the back of a train, a blog or a television screen is one I’ve seen and heard ad nauseam for the past decade or two.  Enough already.  Our country is in danger and these fools are doing absolutely nothing of any major consequence.  The party lines must be blurred and better yet obliterated if anything is ever to improve.  If I am ever to care again about what any of these talking heads have to say. 

As of now, I am most interested in watching tonight to see if Christie derails Romney for the Hell of it because I’m pretty sure that he secretly wants to bitch slap him for so royally screwing the party these past several weeks in selecting Ryan.  Romney’s handlers need to get a picture of him in a bathing suit with a beer in hand and leak it to every major news organization.  Immediately.  They can then scream about “Photoshop” and “Blatant character assaults” ,  but the “damage” will have been done.  You know, making him human or least a little relatable.  I mean, drastic times do call for drastic measures and in the eight years this guy’s been running for President he still hasn’t found a way to connect with the American public.  Time to take a lesson from the master, Clinton.  Relate by mistake.  Every time Bill screwed up we just loved him more because it made him more like the guys we already knew and know.   If I were the President’s campaign manager I would cancel the Democratic Convention, donate the funds to lower the National Debt or to Hurricane Issac victims (depends how the week plays out) lock Biden in a hole somewhere with no access to reporters,  suspend any and all current campaign advertising and simply play clips of Akin’s greek-tragedy of an interview on a constant loop right up until election day.  The worst thing the Dems could do right now is allow any gaffes. Money saved, election won.  End of story.  And still…either way it goes, I don’t believe either party has what it takes with the teams assembled to make any difference these next four years.  *sigh*

Someone send me a new convention drinking game.  This bitter and bored politi-geek needs a reason to tune in.

August 26, 2012

For My Daughter

Posted in Parenthood tagged , , , , at 10:33 am by openendedcomment

I was just twenty-two and had no idea who I was or who wanted to be.  And then, as the saying goes, there was you.  From the very start it was just you and me.  Your Father was in the home the first few months, but the care of and for you was mine to give and mine to cherish.

Your first years were joy.  Joy and love and learning.  Truth be told, I learned far more than you during that time.  I learned that the answer to the “who I am” was the most important, complex and breath-taking thing…all summed up in one sweetly uttered and heart-stopping word.  Mommy. I will be forever grateful to you for giving me such happiness.

You with your cascade of golden ringlets and bluer than blue navy eyes were then and are today my greatest accomplishment from where all other accomplishments since can be traced.  Being your Mother made me better.  Being your Mother forced me to take stock of my life and ensure that the example I led was one of the type of woman I hope you will someday be.  I have not been perfect in this…far from.  I have failed you time and time again and will always have a swarm of doubts in my mind…all of the little moments I could have done better, been more and tried harder.  But despite all of this I hope that as you grow and you reflect on the life you’ve been given to lead you will do so with the knowledge that it’s OK to make mistakes.  That it’s the way you lead your life in learning from them that matters.  That when you fall down, you get up and do so with your head held high.  Determined.  You are so very, very determined.

I pray that as you enter your teen years, years that begin today, that you will do so with the confidence, trust, and joy that I have endeavored to instill in you.  I pray you never know sorrow, and that if you do, regardless of where it springs from, that you can come to me.  Always.  If there is any lesson I have tried to teach perhaps that is the most important one.  That no matter what life brings you or you to it, you are never in this alone.  As you grow and your independence strengthens, I will always be where and when you are.  A silent presence observing your emergence to womanhood ready to support, hold and lift you back up to where you should be.  This is my promise to you:

To always respond yes when asked if we can talk.  To always respond with open arms when you walk to me.  To never fail to ask you how you are and to listen to your words carefully.  To encourage and uplift you.  To allow you to grow into yourself, not only who I think you should be but instead who you are meant to be and to allow you the freedom to walk on your own path, even when my heart stops along the way.  To give more advice and less lectures.  To be the place you will always call home.  To know and act on the knowledge that though I call you “mine” you are your own person.  And that won’t be easy, baby girl.  It won’t be simple at all to allow you such freedom of choice, no matter how much I know I must.  I will falter.  As sure as I breathe, there will be the moments when your heart is broken for the first time, when you feel the loss of a friend or are placed in a position of danger, in them I will reach out to stop you and pull you back into the safety of my smothering arms.  I will fight against you growing and changing, not because I don’t or won’t trust in you but because I know too much of this world you are so quickly moving towards and I love you so much it is stunning to me still.  When that happens, and it will happen again and again, I will come back to this and remember that I promised you more.  I will be reminded that my job now is to guide you, not grow you.  To support you, not stop you.

On this your thirteenth birthday and every year that has been and will be, I am and will be your biggest fan.

 

 

August 19, 2012

A moment for grace.

Posted in Life Lessons, Parenthood tagged , , , , , , at 1:00 pm by openendedcomment

Yesterday morning we brought our children to a cemetery.  To the grave of their Grandmother, exactly one week after her passing.  We had made a decision, and I say “we” as all four children were allowed to make their own decision regarding it, to not have them attend the formal wake and funeral.  I struggled with what others would think of us for not having them there.  His family, friends, siblings and even her, his Mother, what she would think of their absence.  I no longer have any doubts.  It was the absolute right decision.

Our children did it their way as was their right and our obligation as their parents to allow.  They had been to a funeral only weeks before and they knew it wasn’t what they wanted to experience.  Funerals are for the living; our way to find closure and peace and to a certain degree our deep-seeded sense of social and familial obligation rooted in centuries of tradition.  Especially for our Catholic group.  The mass and the prayers are for us, the last rites and the confessions are for the departed.  I believe their peace and their closure is complete long before the pall bearers and processions.

They said their good-byes through the innocence and love that only children are capable of expressing.  They did so without the confines of proper etiquette and without the scrutiny of second and third cousins eyes on them, there to witness their pain.  They came in shorts and sneakers, bearing little hand-written notes and the flowers they chose, one left a key chain he had meant to give her on her next birthday, formed with his own hands.  They walked to her place of rest and gently set them at her feet.  They prayed their own prayers, took their own time and though they did cry what seemed a river tears there were also smiles of remembrance.  My husband led them in a Hail Mary, her favorite prayer.  They sat down, in front of dirt not yet covered in sod in a little circle of love surrounding the Nonni they had known and asked the questions any child would ask if granted the opportunity.  We answered as we could and they accepted as children do.

Then, as we prepared to leave, one returned.  He placed his hand in the soft soil covering her and pressed to make his mark.  The other three followed his lead, etching messages under their little prints.  We love you, we miss you, smiley faces and hearts pressed into the soil soon to be covered with sod and a stone.  Their own tribute, something we who have been through far too many burials would never think to do.  And that, that is what made it so perfect, so right.  It was their peace, their closure and their love left with her without our advice and void of our traditions.

As it should be.  Their experiences are not ours and their memories, forever to be locked in through the eyes of a child will never be what ours were.  Perhaps this is what I needed to learn, that children should never be placed in adult situations, not because they have no place there but because by doing so we remove the beauty of their ignorance.  We take away their ability to cope and to grieve as they need to, not as we think they should.  And isn’t that something we could all take a lesson from?  To navigate through difficult times as we need to and not as we are told we should.  My four little teachers are wise not beyond but because of their years.

August 18, 2012

A list well lived.

Posted in Life Lessons, Parenthood tagged , , , , , , at 8:18 am by openendedcomment

I have always had a journal.  Not always with regularity, but throughout my life I’ve written things down here and there.  My daughter ran across my twelve-year-old self journal last night.  I read though, smiled at the girl I was what seems like lifetimes ago, cringed at the crushes and found one page that made me pause.  The page where I wrote down who and what I would be someday.  Then I went searching through other journals.  I found the same type of entry spanning over thirteen very tumultuous years of my life, the years that formed me.  It struck me that though my goals and dreams changed throughout that time, some of them, the big ones or perhaps more accurately the “true” and soulful ones, remained much the same.  More importantly this exercise of delving into myself brought me to the startling realization that the vast majority of my dreams have actually come true.  It’s that whole “putting it out there” to the universe/energy/God and having it happen (don’t roll your eyes, this has actually worked)…so strange to see in black, blue and the occasional pink ink written in my girlish looping, early twenties driven angled and finally, my own script.  As I share a few with you, please remember that I have always been a voracious reader and went though an English Literature phase for a few years.

Age 12:

Be an actress

Have a mansion

Have two cats, one named “Rhett” one named “Scarlett”

Travel the World

Age 18:

Marry my own Mr. Darcy

Live in my dream home with a rose garden

Be an attorney

Travel the World

Age 21:

Have children, both boys and girls, Boy named “Heath” Girl named “Catherine”

Be a writer

Live in my dream home

Travel the World

Be rich

Age 25:

Get married again, to the right kind of man

Own my own home

Raise Kate to be a wonderful woman

Have more children

Learn to cook French and Italian

Travel the World

Find the right career

Amazing, really.  I am married to a wonderful man who, like Darcy, is rather brooding and can be mistaken for aloof when really he is exceedingly kind and sensitive under the armor he so carefully wears.  I have four beautiful children, three boys, one girl.  She is my Katherine and she is well on her way to being the most breath-taking woman I may ever know.  I am a great cook (if I do say so myself).  I can make home-made pastas, sauces, braciolli, tiramisu,  eclairs, bouef bourguignon and all sorts of things.  I can do some mean Spanish and Creole dishes, too.  I feed them to my family in a lovely home, my dream home, complete with twenty-three rose bushes lining my garden.  I love my job.  I am not an attorney nor am I an actress or writer, but I am good at what I do and an argument could be made that in drafting and presenting sales trainings I sort of do everything I’d planned, just under a different title.  While it is true that I do not have millions in the bank, I am far from poor, and I am wealthy beyond my wildest dreams in every way that matters and the money is no longer about the money but rather what it could do for the people I love and their futures.  I do have two cats, but they are named Marvin and Stanley, not Rhett and Scarlett.  I still need to travel and I will travel.  It is the one thing I have always dreamed of doing that I’ve never found the time or resources for and that obviously needs to change.  I wonder, what did you dream of? What do you dream of now?  You wonderful people, many I have never met but who stop by here from time to time to read my nonsensical drafts, what did you wish for your life before life actually happened? Do most people achieve it? Does it change for everyone?  Honestly, I do want to know.

My new list, my thirty-five year old draft of the life I wish to live:

Raise my children well

Have grandchildren and great-grandchildren

Grow old with my husband by my side

Have a pool (I must have something tangible here and I really do want one)

Retire on a boat the way we planned

Keep growing in our careers and enjoying the ride

Travel the World, together.

A post script:  Finding these inspired me to do something for my children.  I’m going to have them write their dreams, both big and small…to give them something to aim for and something to reflect upon one day. I can’t wait to see what they come up with!

August 17, 2012

Scarlett Was Right.

Posted in Life Lessons, My Five tagged , , , , , , , , , at 2:30 pm by openendedcomment

I had a conversation with Glitter yesterday.  This in and of itself is not a big deal.  We talk all of the time.  It was the substance of this talk and actually the thoughts that went through my mind after it that are the reason for this day’s musings.

We were discussing all of the awful-no-good-very-bad that has been my summer and her last eighteen months.  About the pain, the people and the fact that in it all we were losing sight of all of the good.  I brought up how on December 31st, 2011, as she and I were having our daily chat I had said then that I could not wait for 2011 to be over.  It had been a year.  She’d had the same sentiments.  She then mentioned to me that despite the utter crap of the past weeks and months that 2012 has actually been far, far better for both of us.  She’s right.  It has been. On the surface it may seem worse, but when I examine it, really look into it, she’s right.  I mean, this poor woman was diagnosed with Lyme’s disease and West Nile all in the span of the past 48 hours ( no, I didn’t think that was possible either, ugh, poor woman!) and she was still looking on the bright side.  Maybe her new alias should be Pollyanna.  At any rate, I owe her one for putting it into perspective.

With all of the loss and sadness and just…awful that has surrounded my family and friends I love like family recently I think it’s time I take a moment to count the good.  The great.  The Oh-My-God-We-Are-So-Blessed parts of our lives.  So here we go and in no particular order:

  • My husband, though it came on the tail of (actually during) one of the hardest days of his lives, has begun the process of healing with his brothers.  This is something I have prayed about for years now.  We aren’t quite there, there’s a few that are harder than others to make that first move with, and perhaps he’ll never be all the way right, but it is a start and that’s more than there was a week ago.  I believe (and I’m sorry to those of you that are agnostic or atheist, but this is my blog and my beliefs) that a woman who loves them all dearly and has from the moment of their creation is quietly but firmly guiding him and them along at this very moment.  She may not have liked me, but she adored all of them and I’m sure she’d want to see this happen, too.
  • Each day I am reminded that though I’ve lost people I love I was so very, very lucky to have had them in my life.  I wear a Grandmother’s wedding ring, another’s emeralds in my ears…not for the jewels but for the precious gift of their words in my head and my heart which is kept closer to their wisdom by the tiny, sparkling reminders of the remarkable women that tried to make me better. I will always miss them, but will forever be grateful to have been loved by and to love them all.
  • Our children are healthy.  They may drive me crazy from time to time but they are healthier and happier now than they have been in years.  They know they are secure and I know they are all on a  good path.
  • My friends have been amazing.  Stunning and so above and beyond in their support.  I don’t know how I’ll ever repay all of the kindness shown these past eighteen months, but I will try.
  • My husband and I are both gainfully and, even more importantly, happily employed.  A year ago that was not true.  We are very, very lucky in that we both really enjoy what we do and the people we share our careers with.  It’s exciting to come home and talk about what’s happened each day and to celebrate each other’s successes.

And really, when I look at what I’ve just written, this has indeed been a good eight months.  Yes, there has been heartache and tears and undeniable losses that will form a dull ache throughout the rest of our lives as we move through the difficult milestones of life without them.  And as I sit here trying to look at the brightest of sides during the darkest hours I can’t help but ask myself, are there things I would change? Of course, several.  Are there regrets? Yes, many. But here’s the thing:  It’s too late.  It will always matter, those decisions and words will always be with me, but I’m done beating myself up about all of it because at the end of the day it gets me nowhere.  I know where mistakes were made and all I can do from here on out is endeavor to learn from them and vow to not repeat anything even resembling them again.

There has been acceptance.  Peace.  We have been surrounded by signs we just needed to be ready to see pointing us in the right direction.  It is time now to heal.  To remember the good, to embrace the present and to forgive others as well as ourselves for the days that have already passed.  And maybe, just maybe it is time for a new beginning.  After all, tomorrow is another day.

August 15, 2012

Raw.

Posted in Life Lessons, Parenthood tagged , , , , , , , , , at 5:22 pm by openendedcomment

Humbled.  I am completely humbled by the actions of a son and a brother.  This man who instilled the humility in me and in my husband was amazing.  He exposed a depth of courage, strength and love that literally brought tears to my eyes and filled me with gratitude, as well as shame.

Devastated.  I am heartbroken for so many at this moment for so very many, many reasons.  For loss and for pain and for the healing that should have taken place so many years, months, weeks and even hours ago that never happened.  For opportunities lost.  For moments of reconciliation between family members that were not recognized even at the times they should have been compelled to be.  Utterly, completely devastating to witness.

Disappointed.  In myself most of all.  For the myriad of decisions and words and misunderstandings I was not strong enough or good enough to rise above and be better for and in these past years.  The regrets could fill an ocean and my hindsight must someday become my foresight if I am to ever be who they deserve me to be as a Mother, a Wife, Daughter and Friend.

Thankful.  I am so thankful for the people that surround our lives.  Our friends who are more than friends, who are family and strength and love and wise counsel.  Who showed themselves through word and deed again and again these past days as people we do not deserve yet are so grateful for.

Most of all, I am hopeful.  That the few moments I witnessed within these past seventy-two hours and one I did not deserve to be a part of but was embraced into regardless could be a start, a small but heartfelt beginning, towards a chance of at  least some things being closer to right again.  I can’t change what is already done, no matter how desperately I may wish it were possible.  I can only go forward with hope for a better tomorrow.

The past days and really years have left us so many things, so many emotions and with such raw and exposed ends. And maybe that’s the way it needs to be.  Maybe that’s how healing begins.

The words of a woman I spoke to last night, the best friend of my husband’s late Mother, have been ringing in my ears for the past fifteen hours.  I want to do them justice but I don’t know how.  I suppose all I can do and really all I should do at this time is to open myself up to them and to pray that my husband does so as well.  And though I do have my own apologies to be made and my own forgiveness not to expect but to earn, at the end of the day it is not my place to right these wrongs.  My words are not the ones that need to be heard.

My place is simple, I will do what I can today and each day to ensure that in our lives we live with less regret and more love.  That we forgive faster and are slower to anger.  That we move forward from this with conviction and purpose to give to our children the peace of mind and security in their hearts that we will be the parents they deserve and need, including providing them with an example instead of only a direction of the kind of parents and children and sons and daughters and brothers and sister we want them to be.  I think she would like that.

August 11, 2012

The Times Without Words

Posted in Life Lessons, Uncategorized tagged , , , , at 9:51 pm by openendedcomment

I have seen my husband cry exactly three times.  Today was the third.  The prayers went unanswered.  Perhaps what could not be changed in this life will be in the next.  I have always held that everything happens for a reason.  Through divorce, death…always I have believed it.  Today, in this moment and in the past hours as I have searched for what could possibly be a reason for such senseless pain and such fixable broken things I can not fathom even one.

Perhaps someday they will remember.  Perhaps someday there will be a voice that whispers in their dreams; a voice they’ve heard every day of their life, perhaps to nudge their conscience towards putting the hatred and fear to rest and be the men they were raised to be before life got in the way. Today of all days I should not believe it possible…but still…with all of me, for him and for them, I have hope.

August 8, 2012

Causes not yet lost.

Posted in Life Lessons tagged , , , , at 4:32 pm by openendedcomment

I wrote a post entitled “Trainwrecks and Time.”   The time has come.  The train wreck was only partially avoided.  I have written and rewritten this post so many times I have lost count.  It comes down to this: Forgive.  Forgive, find a way through and know that regrets, no matter how sure you are you won’t have any, can and do still jump out at you.  I know that we, my husband and I, did try.  I know that he did the right thing.  At least part of the right thing; I feel he and we could and should have done more. 

There are still relationships so sideways, backwards and upside-down that they seem irretrievably broken.  I say “seem” as opposed to ‘are” as though all signs point to “are”, I still have hope.  Not for me, for him and for them.  I have hope that someday, somehow, something resembling love, loyalty and understanding will find their way into those hearts and minds so closed off by anger, hurt and pain and that somehow what is so very, very wrong will someday at least inch towards right again.

I’ve been told I am an idiot for thinking this.  Perhaps I am.  Perhaps I need to be.  If I were to concede that there is indeed no hope of any form of reconciliation no matter how small then I would have to release that part of me that believes in the good of these men.  I don’t want to let that go.  I don’t want to lose love.  I don’t want to lose hope.  I want to know they are good as they are, in some small way, a part of the man I love and the children I adore.  They are in each other.  No matter how much either party chooses to pretend it isn’t so…it is there.  In their eyes, their mannerisms, their words and even in their stubborn and deep-seeded anger.  They will always be bound.

That time I spoke of…it hasn’t quite run out.  Not yet.  And though the sands are running ever faster through the hourglass, they haven’t ended.  That means that in these last moments there is still a chance…no matter how small.  I read once that in our lives each emotion comes down to two: Love or Fear.  The fear of rejection and anger and hurt drives all negative and the love…the love can change everything else.  The fear in this moment is suffocating.  It has taken so much from so many already.  The fear is the void and the void is endless.  I can’t fill it alone. 

I don’t pray very often.  I talk to God and I believe but I don’t pray for things I want to see happen.  I feel as though I’m using up my turns or if I ask for too much too often I won’t be taken seriously.  I prayed for this.  For their peace and their chance at love.  I got down on my knees and I begged for them to find it in their hearts to reach out…just once.  Once is all it would take.  Please give them just one time to look at each other without anger and try to remember the decades of brotherhood that they shared.  To feel even a fraction of the empathy for each other that once was so effortless.  I prayed with everything I have and knowing the life I have led I know that my prayers are not at the top of the list…so I humbly ask that any of you reading this, if you could or would spare a moment, please, say a little prayer.  A prayer for hope, a word for causes not yet lost.