Honesty

I took a long break from blogging.  It seems to me sometimes you have to take time to experience life before you actually have something to say about it.  So I have been busy experiencing life over the last nine months.

The last time I was blogging I was coping with a devastating separation from my love.  I stopped writing when we decided to start again.  It was months of confusion for me.  I find it very difficult to sound remotely wise in the face of personal confusion. I chose to retreat into myself for personal growth.  Personal growth is certainly what happened. It is difficult for me to put into words what that growth entailed.

I knew from day one the connection I have with this person is unlike any other I have ever known. In fact, I am not sure I know anyone, in real life, that has this kind of relationship. Perhaps I have read books or seen movies of epic love affairs that resemble this kind of connection. Although, in fantasy, these connections look so appealing, in real life it can be terrifying.  It is a relationship that demand honesty.  I am not speaking of honesty as in not telling a lie. I am speaking of soul honesty with yourself. I have learned that is the most frightening honesty of all!

I believe nothing in life happens without reasons. Lately, all the well-being sites I follow have featured articles regarding emotional healthy relationships.  I mean day after day new articles on the same topic would appear. I took it as a sign I should pay attention. God knows I can use all the help I can to participate in emotionally sound relationship. One trait of long-lasting, emotional healthy relationships is honesty.  I began to really reflect on that. Am I honest with my love? Am I honest with people, in general? Sure, I am. I don’t tell lies.  That is one kind of honesty, yet am I honest with myself? It occurred to me that in a relationships, especially the kind I share with my love, there is no room for pretending. The nature of the connection has an odd ability to flush out the lack of the truth.

Now I can not explain this. I can simply share  what happens.  I can best describe that there is a quiet knowing between us of what the truth is.  Let me say, the norm is to have your own quiet retreat, in which your thoughts and feelings belong to you.  In this relationship, we are in each others heads, as much as our own.  Yes, it freak us out!  What we learned is we might know the truth of each other, but it is up to each of us of to come to terms with our truths, individually. So we patiently or not so patiently wait for each other to come around in our own time.  When we forced each other to deal with the truth in was a recipe for disaster. It landed us in a place of misery that we had no idea how to navigate in to find  happiness, again.

Now, I knew all along I was not honest with him. It was not, because I did not want to be honest. I was being honest to best of my ability. After all, I was not even honest with myself.  My lack of personal deceit was rooted in the person I create to fit in the world around me. My soul, the soul I lived by as a child morphed into something to please the world around me. The truth is my level of sensitivity, empathy, honesty and intuition make people very uncomfortable.  So I developed a version of myself that was not authentically me, but it sure did make other people feel better.  The thing is the connection I have with my love already knows my soul, perhaps better than me.  So I am not fooling anyone and the relationship is destroyed, because I am not my honest and true self.

It took months of deep breaths and over coming fear to reveal to him my authentic self.  I did it little by little, testing the waters, that my soul would not be rejected as it has been most of my life.  Much to my surprise and joy, I was not rejected. My honesty was welcomed with love and understanding.  It was finally safe to be me for the first time in my life.  It has been liberating and terrifying.  I have a long way to go yet.

He has his journey. I have my journey. What I have found is a safe place to journey together,  a traveling mate of sorts.  Today, I practice honest in my journey. I practice honesty with myself.  I suspect that is the most important honesty you can have for without it you can never be truly honest with anyone.

 

 

The Wonders Of A Front Porch

My favorite spot in my house right now is my front porch.  By just looking at the photos it doesn’t look like a very special porch, but it has great meaning to me. When I was a child we lived with my grandmother and great-grandmother. That house had a giant porch, well, it seemed giant to me at the time.  On that porch sat two vintage lawn rocking chairs. I spent a lot of time rocking in those chairs when my feet could not even reach the ground. So when we bought our 1869 home 20 years ago without a front porch I was a bit disappointed. As luck would have it,  the existing stairs and landing at the front door fell into disrepair soon after we moved in to the house.  We jumped at the opportunity to add a porch.

Many years later, when my grandmother sold her house, my parents acquired the one surviving rocking chair.  They asked if I wanted it.  I absolutely wanted that chair for our home. I really wished I could find a matching chair.  Not too long after I receive the lone survivor  I stumbled upon not one, but two matching chairs in a local antique store. One was a rocker and the other was just a plain chair. I would have paid a million dollars to have those two chairs. Thankfully, it only set me back about $150.00, which is truly a steal.  So I treated myself to a beat up set of medal lawn chairs from the 1950’s for my birthday that year.

Today, my front porch holds fond memories of my childhood and my grandmothers.  I like to decorate the porch through out the year to match the changing seasons.  Not only is it a wonderful place for our family to sit during the warmer weather, but it is how we welcome guests to our home.

Peace, Wellness & Joy,

Sueget-attachment (1)

My not so fancy, vintage metal, lawn chairs.

My not so fancy, vintage metal, lawn chairs.

The porch we added to our 1869 home.

The porch we added to our 1869 home.

A wooden frame I use to hold my watering can. I know it looks like a junk yard find, but my dad built it. I just thought I could do a lot with it. I might get crazy with some holiday lights on it during the Christmas season.

A wooden frame I use to hold my watering can. I know it looks like a junk yard find, but my dad built it. I just thought I could do a lot with it. I might get crazy with some holiday lights on it during the Christmas season.

Simple Things To Brighten Your Home

Simple Things To Brighten Your Home

I like to place fresh flowers in my bathrooms and kitchen. Whatever season it is I use cuttings from annual I grow to brighten my home for my family.  The mums last for nearly a week in these little glass containers.  The vases are repurposed salt and pepper shakers.  This costs next to nothing to do and the benefits are priceless.  Please excuse the unprofessional image in with candy corn and sweet potatoes as a backdrop. It was a working scene! : )

Peace, Wellness & Joy

Sue

Simple little cuttings from annuals I have on the front porch.

Simple little cuttings from annuals I have grow.

I love having fresh flowers in the bathroom.

I love having fresh flowers in the bathroom.

Am idea I stole from Pinterest. I use a inexpensive cake plate to hold kitchen supplies and some fresh cuttings.

An idea I stole from Pinterest. I use an inexpensive cake plate to hold kitchen supplies and some fresh cuttings.

How My Gym Membership Saved My Life

How My Gym Membership Saved My Life
healthybody

The last year has been the worst year of my life. My father was diagnosed with colon cancer in October of 2013. After treatments and reconstructive surgery, he was ready to come home cancer free. The day he was to come home there was a snow storm in my home town. I prepared to travel, to the northeastern Ohio small town I still call home, to get my dad from the hospital to his house via my four wheel drive. I had the whole plan on how to get him safely from the truck to the back door of his house. I was prepared to drive on the lawn. The morning before he was due to be discharged my mother called me. She said I needed to come immediately something had happened to my father. I grabbed a basket of clean laundry that I had yet to put away. I had not put away my clean laundry from being there for the surgery the week before. I planned to return anyways so why put it away? I rushed out the door, started driving north, and phoned my mother to let her know I was on my way. She said do not rush he is gone.

That began the worst days of my life. I was in shock as I phoned my childhood friend to say dad was gone. The days to follow were surreal. In the mist of that grief only one thing remain as a foundation, my workouts. My dad and I shared a passion for lifting weights. When I traveled home for holidays dad made sure I had a guest pass to his gym. We would sometimes go together, sometimes alone. But, I always worked out with my dad when there at some point. Now, he tended to chat more than most, working out his jaw muscles more than his body, nevertheless he was very fit at age 69. This is why all the gym patrons were shock he died of a massive heartache.

The days filled with receiving family, friends and making funeral arrangements only took place after my trip to the gym. It was the only place I could control what was happening. I could control how I lifted. I could control my sets. I could control how much I lifted ,which seemed to go up with all the stress around me. I could control how fast I climbed the stair mill or raced around the track. With sweat pouring off me and gasping for air, I would walk off to the locker room, remembering that my dad was not on the floor chatting anymore. I knew he was ok with me working out before I helped my mother and sister arrange his send off.

The months to follow did not get much better. The day after my father’s funeral my mother was feeling ill. I rush her to the emergency room. At that point, a cancerous mass was found in her lung. After months of doctors’ visits and surgery my mom is cancer free and doing well. During my mom’s illness I would drudge to the gym. I would pray and lift, pray and lift. I would put on my headphones and allow the weights to absorb my grief and worry.

Today when I return to my home town, my mother makes sure I have a gym pass. I still go and use my strength training and cardio to release my stress, fears and worry. After my work out, I drive to the cemetery to see my dad. Tears pour from my eyes each time. I am still not over the loss. I never will be. In the darkest days of my life, I still traveled to the gym. I worked out quietly with friends of my dad’s giving me a nod. Then I go to talk to dad. The gym saved me. It truly saved me.

Peace, Wellness & Joy,

Sue

The Truth Can Hurt You Or Set You Free: Which Will It Be?

Recently, I had a very uncomfortable argument with a friend.  Although, in the days to follow, we were able to hash out the dispute and make amends, there is still a feeling of change between us.  When the truth comes out in a fight it changes the dynamics of that relationship.  It happened to be this friend was someone I trusted greatly with the details of my life.  I feel somewhat betrayed when my true intentions were misunderstood and twisted.  When I step away, I know that the situation reflects much more about the other person and not so much about me.  Most of the time, when people be come upset with another, it is more about him or her than the other person.  When you have peace within yourself, the actions and behaviors of others have little to no impact on your serenity.   Never the less, I find myself in a bit of pain knowing that the long time friendship was not what I thought it was.  I mourn a bit at the loss and the revealing of the truth.

On the other hand, the very truth that hurt me is bringing me comfort and joy in other areas of my life.  As I heal from the pain of the discomfort of a close friendship gone wrong, I have seen the truth in another relationship.  Another person showed me compassion and understanding in a way I have never felt.   I, perhaps, did not expect that from this other relationship.  

As I cope with the dark days of feeling the changes in a cherished friendship, I am given an opportunity with another soul to strength and deep a bond.  I have never handled change well, especially when people leave my life.  I am getting better, but I so mourn the loss, just like it was a death of some sort.  Today, I turn my energy and attention to the one that has given me empathy and compassion.  The one that has offered a place of comfort and safety to me.  I am no longer looking to repair, recover or make right the friendship that had obvious flaws.  I am, instead, finding gratitude in a soul connection that offers me unconditional love.  For this person has, too, had conflict with me.  The truth is some relationships foster unconditional love and some do not.  The trick is to learn to recognize the difference.  Do not waste time in situations that require conditions for love. 

I am choosing to allow the truth to set me free.  True happiness and peace resides in relationships of unconditional love.  I am a very lucky woman for I know what that truly is today. 

Your 40’s, the new 20’s with 20 Years Of Experince.

I saw this picuture today and it really spoke to me.  I would not do my 20’s over again if you paid me.  It was difficult on so many levels.  My 30’s are a blur, because I was busy have babies. But my 40’s, now that is my decade!

I am not sure when exactly it hit me, maybe two years ago, I realized I finally felt comfortable in my own skin.  At some point, the need to please others fell away.  The need to impressed anyone with my accomplishments seemed pointless.  It was the first time ever, I felt I was living my life on my terms.  I discovered I really enjoyed making decisions, setting goals and doing what I like.  

It was not a realization that hit me all at once.  I gradually started to feel changes over time.  It was more of a situation of realizing I didn’t feel stressed out, sad,  and frustrated.  I began to reflect on why did I feel so much better than in the past.  The answer was I was living life according to my inner voice. 

I am not saying it was without judgement.  I still had plenty of people judging and questioning my life choices.  I have learned to sort out valueable advice from mean spirited comments.  Mean spirited comments are a result of others suffering and feeling misery.  I learned not to take others problems personally.  I simply am kind in return.  They are struggling enough already without me adding any kind of drama.  I have lost some friends over time.  I have the wisdom to realize we are not the same people anymore.  There is a season for friendships.  I am at peace with the outcome of some of my relationships. 

I believe your 40’s is a time of self discovery like no other time.  Years of wisdom, at the very least, tell me what I don’t want to experience in life.  All my mistakes taught me what I don’t want so I can better identify if I am going down a similar path.  The wisdom of living gives me the tools to select the best choices for me.  I would never go back in time. I understand today all that I experienced have made me who I am today.  Today, I am peaceful and content in the mist of chaos.  The chaos will never stop, but limiting my participation in it and following my inner voice keeps me enjoying life.  Life was meant to be enjoyed. 

I Am Only Along For The Ride

strongwillkidupsetboybaby

I had a realization today.  I was posting on a group fitness page I belong to that I tried a new ab exercise.  I kind of laughed to myself.  I learned it from my 10 year old daughter.  It struck me right then, I am really only her for one purpose as her mother.

My job as a parent is to provide my children with all the tools for success.  When you become a parent for the first time, it is very confusing what the job duties are.  There are definitely somethings I learned quickly, at least regarding my children.  It is not my job to force my thoughts or desires on them.  Wait one minute, if that is not my job then who’s is it? Actually no one has the the job to force anything on them.  It is my job to give them great guidance, to point out possible pitfalls to certain action or behaviors, but never to force my will.  And I learned that early with my first daughter, before she could talk she let me know her will over mine.  She wanted reasons for why I was asking her do certain things.  I learned if I could give her reasons why she agreed. Oh, yes, make no mistake about it, she is a very strong willed child. Is she difficult? No, she is not difficult. As a matter of fact both my girls are model students, well liked by peers, even might be considered popular, and kind souls.  They just don’t want anyone pushing an agenda on them, not even their mother. 

I learned if I provide them with all the tools for success I only need to sit back and enjoy the ride.  The bonus is I learn from them.  Everyday they teach me lessons about life.  My children are far more than beings I am responsible to raise to be fine citzens.  They were born with their own minds, hearts and souls.  They are old souls full of wisdom beyond their years. Thank God, I am a quick learner and discovered this.  Motherhood has been the blessing of a lifetime.  Here’s to all the strong willed, stubborn, need to know why children of the world!  They make the ride worth it.

Forgiveness. Not An Easy Business.

forgiveness

 

A few years ago, I had a falling out with a dear friend, two as matter of fact.  One simply got up one day and walked out of my life after 15 years of friendship.  The other made a grander exit with an enormous scene that impacted my family.  In passing years, it too great courage to forgive those two people.  After all, I, at one point, trusted them with my life.  Never in a million years was I prepared for the betrayals I experienced. 

 

I spent the first year stewing and being angry.  As time passed, I began to forgive them.  Even though the pain was always there from the hurt I experienced, I could get pass it by remembering fondly the wonderful parts of the friendships.  I choose to remember how much the friendship meant to me, the fun and the support they offered.  I refused to have the memory ruined with the final days of betrayal. 

I learned to move on in solitude.  I kept to myself.  I am a very friendly, warm and social person. I made new friends, but it was never quite the same.  I kept a safe distance. I put up a wall to prevent such acts from ever happen again.  I learned a lot being in solitude.  There is something to be said about being alone.  There is some peace and serenity there that I never experienced when I was younger.  I learned to be happy by myself. 

I reflected on my role of the friendships ending. I took my responsibility in the outcomes.  In the one case, I had some amends to make.  It was a friendship that allowed me to be the worst version of myself.  The person was a bit older than me with more experience in life.  I was treated as a younger sibling and I definitely played the role well.  So early last week, I texted the person. I made my amends.  I took responsibility for my actions. I also stated how much I had healed and changed my ways.  I received a polite response back wishing me the best and that I am a wonderful person.  I know we will never be friends again, but to have closure in a positive way finally ended that phase of my life.  Then there is the second situation.

This situation was equally painful in a different way.  In this one, the person attacked me and my family. The pain was executing, because it was a life long friend of mine and my husband.  Someone I loved dearly for nearly 25 years.  It left us, as a couple, raw and wounded.  Although, I remain friends with his wife, a long time friend as well, it put a strain on all of us.  As much as she pleaded with him to make the situation right, he refused.  Eventually, my husband and I accepted what had happened.  We understood this friend was struggling with his own life battles and we just became one more in a line of people he had attacked verbally.  I forgave him in my own way even without his apology. 

In yesterday’s mail there was a small note card addressed to me.  It was a note from this friend. He stated in the season of Easter he had been reflecting on life.  He apologized for being wrong and what had happened.  It was shocking to me.  I was certain I would die without an apology.  My first reaction was not anger or apathy. It was one of forgiveness and compassion.  In my mind, I heard the words, I forgave you a long time ago. I will always love you and our friendship.  It was a moment of knowing for certain, I had reached my own peace.  I, later, sent a text to him reflecting those feelings.  I wished him the best and encouraged him to get the help he needed to be healthy and at peace in life. 

This was a huge life lesson that took me several years to master.  In the end, having these friends leave my life made way for friends that match my soul better.  I have learned to love and trust again.  I have attracted healthier relationship, because I am healthier as a result of losing such people I loved in my life,  It forced me to soul search. It forced me to find comfort in my own company.  It forced me to forgive what seemed impossible to forgive.  And once, I let go of the anger, it allowed me to find compassion for them.  For so long, I could not understand who would behave like that.  It came to me that those in such pain and suffering behave like that.  I needed to have compassion for them and realize the behaviors were not about me, I was just a receiver of such misery. 

So what does this mean for me today? I am celebrating miracles.  The miracle for forgiveness.  The miracle of never giving up on a person.  The miracle that I can heal myself from a life time of abuse, hurt and misery. I celebrate my new friends.  Those friendship are truly what I always longed for with those old friendship, but I could never achieve.  I celebrate finding the serenity of being along.  I like myself.  I am fun and kind to travel with on this journey. 

Mostly, I encourage others that need to forgive or make amends to do so.  Do not allow your ego to dominant your peace.  There is such happiness in the surrender. You never know, a miracle might be around the corner for you too!

It’ Spring ! Thoughts On Why We Live Where We Live

I can tell it is spring. The sunlight is shining like it did into my house 19 years ago and the birds are singing. That is not a winter pattern.

This month we will have lived in this house 19 years. It seems impossible. I was 24, teaching, no kids and got the dream I wanted, an older house.

( Mar 08 7:34 AM ) :‎ For many years we lived with one bath and no dishwasher, but I eventually got my dream kitchen and two bathrooms. It’s small, but cozy and my girls feel very safe here.

We have experienced many changes over the years living in our tiny house. Our small college town has boomed with new home builds. Our once dead downtown is alive with attractive shops and restaurants. I am certain many of our friends never understood how we decided to stay here so long. Oh, it was never the plan. You see, my husband and I went to college in this small town. After graduation we stayed. The job market was tight in 1990 and we took the jobs we could get. Those jobs happened to make living here very convenient. Our college friends left for more exciting places and big cities. We settled into our small town in our small house.

As our children arrived our home became very crowded. By this time, we made friends of others that made our home town a stop over to bigger adventures. We watched dear friends leave for grander homes in flashier towns, yet we stayed put. We took a gamble. The school district was still not top rated, but we could see positive growth. Our small downtown was starting to be reborn after it’s death in the earlier 1990’s when Wal-Mart came to town.

Oh, how I agonized over the decision to stay. Was it the right choice? Can a family of four live in such a small home? Will the schools provide the kind of education I want for my children? Slowly those questions were answered.

I met a friend who’s husband was a master woodcrafter and contractor. He was able to give me the kitchen of my dreams that included a dishwasher. Soon after the kitchen remodel, my friend figured out how we could get one more bathroom into our home. While we managed to survive our renovations by using a camping toilet, cooking meals in an electric skillet and showering at any friend’s home that would let us in the door, finally our house looked amazing!

Our school district began to flourish as well. Our district continued to improve in state ratings every year. With the hard work of administrators, teachers and the community we passed operating levies and raise the bar of excellence in our little town.

I know my friends on the outside of our small town still don’t understand how we stayed. They still only see it through the eyes of a 22-year-old ready for world adventures. Some still see it as a place where you can’t buy an executive home. I see it differently. My kids are getting a top-notch education that will give them a solid foundation to enter an excellent university. We live in a college town that allows us to experience cultural events we would otherwise miss. We have partnered with other alumni to bring excellent sports training to our traveling soccer program. My kids are growing up with fine families that share our same values.

But mostly, I like it because it still has experiences that I had as a kid. My girls walked down the street for string lessons. Their music lessons is with a dear friend, that has known them since they were born. She is not a stranger that they learn music from each week. Many times they stay much longer than a normal lesson. They come home with treats or maybe they got into a discussion about their future musical plans. They will never forget those Thursday afternoon string lessons.

I like how on the Fourth of July each year we are transported back in time. The festivities go on from dawn to late in the night . There is a parade the whole town attends, as a matter of fact you better get your lawn chairs down on main street at about 7:00 AM that morning or you will be standing for the whole thing. During the day there is always a cookout to go attend. Some years we have hosted, some years our friends. In the evening there is pops orchestra concert in the glen of the university. I don’t live in a fancy town, but we do have a semi professional orchestra that makes its home here. Once the last note of Stars and Stripes Forever is played, which I can sing the entire piccolo part to and I don’t play piccolo, we pack up our camp site from the lawn of the glen, and head for the best fireworks around. I played Stars and Stripes Forever over 100 times one summer. That is a whole other story, from a music gig I had years ago. Our course, every year I have to tell my husband this story, which he has heard 100 times himself!

So did we make the right choice? As I sit writing this blog and enjoying the first sunlight of spring fill my tiny little home, my answer is absolutely. I know it is not everyone’s first choice and it certainly was not mine, but our town and home has blossomed into exactly where I always wanted to live. But more importantly, my children are make fond memories they will cherish and perhaps bore their husbands with some day. Sometimes what looks like the last choice was the best choice. You just have to have faith. How do I know this. Well, I heard a conversation among strangers at a very large box store in the large city 15 miles from our home town. A man was telling a couple that their mutual friend just opened a restaurant in our downtown. He was explain how good the place was and going on and on about the town. And then he said, “Yes, Delaware!” I only smiled as I pushed my overload shopping cart of bulk foods past. My hometown, a topic of conversation in the big city, how very interesting.

Snow Days The Ultimate Party

snowmansnowday2snowday

My oldest daughter is always looking for the next high.  I am to blame for her endless quest for excitement and entertainment.  As a teacher, I was use to providing educational, fun and engaging activities for children.  So when I became a stay at home mom I did what I knew.  I figured as she grew up she would begin to entertain herself and my role as cruise ship director would lessen.  That was not the case. 

My daughter’s lust for activity was not only learned, but innate.  I am exactly the same way.  I want to be doing. I want excitement.  Why can’t every day be like a trip to Disney World?  I want parties all time too.  At about the time, I graduated from college and held a full-time job teaching, I realize every day was not going to be a party.  Now what am I going to do, because this working gig is a drag.  Then I discover the snow day.

The snow day is one of God’s most precious gifts given to a child or a teacher.  It is a day that is a complete surprise.  It is a moment in time when someone says stay in bed, don’t get dressed, have a party, eat lots of yummy food and enjoy! There is not really a more perfect event.  No one can plan a party better than God!

As a stay at home mom, I still worship the snow day.  My kids are much older now, but snow days are still a great event in our home.  We make chocolate chip pancakes. Do a lot of what we like best and enjoy! We are all expert weather analysts too.  At age five, my kids could read the weather radar to know when that snow storm would arrive,  praying that it was perfectly timed to hit before the first school bus rolled onto the street in the morning.  The very humorous thing is we live within walking distance of every school my children attended. But if the roads are too bad to drive, we certainly can’t walk to school! 

As for our amateur meteorology skills, we plan to perfect our forecasting abilities.  Our entire family signed up for a weather spotters class this spring.  My husband came home one day very excited this class was being offered. It’s free! The whole family will go and learn how to predict the weather better.  Now, please, understand this has nothing to do with the love of science. It’s all about planning a party.