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Sunday, February 25, 2018

What I want To Be When I Grow Up. Hint: It isn't an Oompa Loompa

The two things I’ve always wanted to be, since I was a teeny tiny tot of a terror, was a writer; and a Star Ship counsellor.  I wanted to be telepathic too like Diana on Star Trek.

Whisking through the stars helping humans and aliens with their troubles.  Then writing a best seller about it.  Or about just the aliens.  Or a tawdry romance about my three dates with a Vulcan.  Vulcans.  So cute.  So smart.  So emotionally unavailable.  So my type of guy.  Ah, alien?  Anyhoo.  

Where was I?

What I always wanted to be when I grow up.  

Well here I am, ready to re-enter the work force after six year absence and I want it to be special.  I don’t want to just ‘have a job’.  I want to have a meaningful, fulfilling career I can be proud of.  

I want to help people.  

Even though most of the time they don’t want my help.  I can’t say that I blame them.  Who wants advice from an Oompa Loompa who dresses like an eight year old boy?  Who would rather crack a joke than a textbook?

I think it’s hard to take me seriously sometimes.  I’m a bit of a nut.  Clearly too happy to be smart, too.  You know, the Smartest People are also Super Serious and Sometimes Mean.  Grumpy for sure.  

Really Smart People don’t go around asking what they want to be when they grow up.  Not at almost 40, anyway.  Or do they? Hm.  

Anyway, I don’t want to make a mistake this late in my ‘money-earning years’ we’ll call them.

So I went to a life-coach workshop-thingie for an hour and half last Sunday to try and get some professional guidance.

And you know what she said about mistakes?  She said I WOULD make mistakes.  And then I’d learn from it.  Who doesn’t make mistakes?  People who aren’t getting off the comfy couch and trying new things, that’s what.

She also asked me why I didn’t want to use my psychology degree?


Bottom line?  It’s going to be hard, guys.

Hard to get the masters degree I know I’ll need to get a good job.  Hard to find the money to pay for it.  Hard to go back to school after twenty years.  Hard to have a young family and a new career.  Hard to work with special-need kids and not have my heart all wrung out and pulled apart at the end of every day.

If I really examine myself, it’s kind of what I’m built for.  My heart’s all lovey, my spirit’s all nurture, my mind’s all CHALLENGE ME!  

So.  Did I figure out what I’m ‘meant’ to do?  I don’t know.  Maybe I figured out what I’m supposed to try to do.  Maybe I’ll fail.  Maybe I won’t find the money, or the time, or the grit to see it through.  But then maybe it will lead me to something else, something I don’t even know is out there yet because I haven’t started the journey.

Maybe you all can start the journey with me?  It won’t be so scary then.

Really?  You will!?  Thank you so much!

Ok guys I’ll keep you in the loop.  In the meantime, here’s one of my favorite quotes:

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.  The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without err and shortcoming; but who actually strives to do the deeds, who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”  Theadore Roosevelt.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

A Beautiful Tsunami Has Reduced Me to Cliche's

Upon walking into my home you won’t immediately see anything different.  A new pair of shoes by the door.  The strange sounds of Japanese men singing and playing….something…on TV.  

Depending on the time of day he’ll be eating his morning gruel or his afternoon Ramen noodles.  I suspect routines mean a lot to elderly people.  

Bill shakes his head.  “He wants Ramen…again…”  And I say…”He’s 95.  Let him eat donuts every day if he wants to.”  Or, sometimes when I’m feeling particularly snarky, “Clearly he’s doing something right he’s made it this far.”

Bill has warned me, “He’s opinionated, and thinks he knows the best way to do everything.”  I gaze at him with my wide brown eyes and wait silently.  I wait for him to realize he has just described himself.  When he doesn’t immediately understand I help him out.  

“So, when I married you, I got two for the price of one?”
“I got two of you, two of the same person, for the price of one husband.”
“I think so.”

Poor Ellie.  Ellie isn’t elderly but she doesn’t like change much either.  Especially when they come in the package of a large (to her) man who speaks a strange language, and who speaks it much too loudly.

She’s dealing with this change the way any three year old would.  

She is completely losing her mind.  

Tantrums, screaming fits, throwing fits, aggressively hitting Benji, or me, or anyone in her way.  

She is now on day 4 with no Kindle, and no TV.  I know.  I should cut her some slack.  But then, when do I ever stick to my guns?  When is it the perfect time to do what I say, and to back up threatened discipline with actual follow-through?

The time is now.  Plus, she’s started hitting me.  That is not acceptable.

Anyway, someone asked how I was coping.  I know mom would prefer me to answer - prayer is all I need!

But in reality I am ordering Dairy Milk chocolate bars by the truckload and that occasional glass of wine has become not so occasional.  Oh, wait, do we not talk about those things?  Well, it’s what’s happening with me right now and it’s how I’m coping.

That and spending lots of time in the garden while Bill is home from work helping his dad settle.  Far as I see it, he’s here to help me and the kids settle too.  And that means letting me hack away at the soil, aggressively weeding and hauling rocks around organizing my perfect planting spots.  For hours.  Nothing like mud to my elbows to make me feel human again.

Right now solitude is my friend.  It’s a good thing because all my friends are moving away.  Calgary, Toronto, and one family is moving all the way to India.  

Boys when change happens it doesn’t just peter in it swamps through.  Like a Tsunami, clearing everything out, cleaning the stale stuff and disrupting routines.  Pushing all my furniture around, literally and figuratively.  Completely overwhelming me, rushing over my head while I try to thrash back to the surface.

I can honestly say I'm a hot mess right now.  I'm taking it one day at a time.  It's all I can do.  I'm reduced to cliche's.  I'm listening to 'All is Well' meditations and sending prayers for help.  

And you know what?  Turns out my beautiful little Tsunami has some good ideas.  Right now it's just easier ways to organize my garden.  Better ways to cook Ramen.  But I can already see him changing the course of our family, nudging it a little, adding his own water presence to ours and altering the path we are running. 

I don't know where we're going but I know we're going there in love, bound by the cords of family, of duty, of love and responsibility. 

Or you know, maybe I've got the analogy all wrong and we're just on our way to a big train wreck.  Either way, we're going there together.  One cliche at a time.

Saturday, February 10, 2018

The Imminent Arrival of Ojichaan. For Reals This Time.

Three years ago when we bought the land and built the house we live in we made the third bedroom into an in-law suite because his dad was going to come live with us.

Fast forward three years and now we’ve got two kids and a room full of ‘storage’.  

Until this weekend.  

This weekend we are clearing and cleaning that in-law suite/room because on Wednesday Bill will arrive in Houston with his 95 year old father.  For a ‘visit’.  He may stay a month or forever.

I’ve got mixed emotions about this.  Fear, of course.  How much care is he going to need?  

Satisfaction - no matter what happens this will be good for the kids.  There are loads of studies that have shown having three generations in the house is all kinds of beneficial.  Grandparents and grandkids have special relationships and having him here will be good for them.

Fear.  He doesn’t speak much English.  My meager inventory of Japanese words aren’t going to do me any good in a real crisis, unless he needs tea, water, milk, or a newspaper RIGHT AWAY.

Fear.  What if he DIES here!?  And the kids find him?  Or he gets sick and won’t go to a hospital?  Or does go to the hospital but completely freaks out because no one in Texas speaks Japanese?

Alright so it sounds like my ‘mixed’ emotions are like 90% fear for me and 10% satisfaction I am doing the right thing for the kids. 

The timing was right when I saw a video on facebook about two 98 year old sisters arguing in the car all the way to the post office.  I shared it on my facebook because I laughed so hard I cried.  I think I needed the reminder that old doesn’t mean dead.  At 95 he is still living on his own for a few days a week so clearly he is quite mobile.  

I don’t know what is in store for us for the next few weeks, or years, but like everything else I’m nervous about I’m going to take it one day at a time.  When that seems like too much I’ll take it one minute at a time.  You can get through anything for the next 60 seconds if you have to.

I am curious how the relationship between Ojichaan (Grampy in Japanese) and the kids will change and grow.  He is looking forward to meeting Benji for the first time, and re-establishing the relationship with Ellie.  

Regardless of how I feel, I know I’m doing the right thing by welcoming him here.  There are times in your life where you don’t know how it’s going to end, how you’re going to get through it, but you know it needs to be done.  So everything else after that doesn’t really matter.

Anyway, like Dean Koontz says, where there’s cake there’s hope.  And there’s always cake. 

Sunday, February 04, 2018

Building Resiliency in My Children and Other Lessons I Hate Learning

It’s Super Bowl Sunday!  It’s flu-season!

After weeks of keeping my kids away from possible sources of flu-contagion, the flu came right to me.  (Deadly flu-pandemic with extra olives ordered here?  No?)

I kept Ellie home from school Wednesday out of a gut feeling there might be flu germs circulating.  I usually trust my gut it rarely steers me wrong.

And then the lady that helps me clean the house from time to time showed up with her daughter, home sick from school.  Her 12 year old daughter who looked like a Bubonic plague victim from the 1600’s complete with bloodshot eyes, blotchy skin and a fever I could feel from the door.  

I said…I will keep the flu away!  And God said…I will bring it in your house then!  Are we having fun now?

*Sigh.  What can you do?  She’s a single mom she’s supposed to leave her sick daughter at home by herself?  Of course not.  What’s the lesson here?  

What is the lesson here?  

I feel like I’m being nudged to a conclusion but I may be too stubborn to accept it.  Control is an illusion?  God has a wicked sense of humor?  Shielding someone you love from every negative occurrence is not only useless but possibly detrimental?

I recently had a conversation with a friend about resiliency in our children.  As in, we’re not building resiliency in our children when we helicopter-parent.  There has been rampant, actual pandemic levels of depression and anxiety in our teenagers and it feels as contagious as the flu.

I can’t protect them from everything out there.  But maybe I shouldn’t.  Everything ‘out there’ may just be acting in concert with God to build internal strength.  There may be no good or bad experiences, only those we learn from and those we don’t.  And I really want to learn the lessons.

Not being a hard shield and buffer between ‘the world’ and the children I am in charge of protecting is like asking me to stop my heart from beating.  Ready?  Go!  No?

I can’t protect them from everything bad that could happen.  And I probably shouldn’t.  That is a truth.  

What I need to do is spend my energy and time building their inner landscapes and resources so that when something (or someone) knocks them down, they dust off their little knees, straighten their little chins, and get back up again.  

Same shielding concept, different focus.  Turning my little spotlight from all the shadows out there and using it to shore up the innate strength and light inside them.  

In the process I’m reminding myself of my own unique resourcefulness and optimism.  I can do this.  We can do this!

“Do not judge me by my success, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”  Nelson Mandela