Category Archives: memories

Resolutions

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Resolution by USA-Reiseblogger via Pixabay

The new year inevitably brings with it the resolution to do something different with our lives. We resolve to lose weight, exercise more, manage our finances better or be a better wife/mom/person. The Thesaurus lists the synonyms for resolution as courage, perseverance, pluck and tenacity. So why do most of us give up our resolutions by January 2nd? I believe it’s that exciting feeling that we truly can turn over a new leaf just as we can the pages of the calendar that spurs us to make resolutions in the first place. That all of our past transgressions and sins can be washed away with the new number of the new year. And that the comfort of the space we are in already convinces us to let go of those resolutions almost as quickly as we have made them.

20180117_164448The truth of the matter is that resolutions are never the quick fixes we hope then to be. That, in actual fact, a true resolution takes all the time and tenacity and courage and pluck that the word explains it to be. One of my favorite gifts this season was a piece of an amber glass pane that was taken from my childhood church before it was torn down. The window belonged to and was a tribute to my paternal grandparents. My cousins salvaged this gem of our family history and divided it into pieces for each of us to own.  These pieces of glass have bonded together my cousins and my siblings stronger than that glass could ever be. That glass is a reflection of the resolve my grandparents had to possess to be immigrants in a new land, raise their family in an unfamiliar town and navigate an unfamiliar language. The resolution they made with themselves was to start over in a new country that had the promise of a better life than the one they left behind. Or if not better, then at least different. Both my husband and I followed separate paths then my grandparents but to the same end. We each left our home to look for something different in another country. And when our paths crossed we started our own family, raised in unfamiliar places, navigating the language of marriage and parenthood.

What gets me through the night sometimes is the belief that only the best things will happen. To get through the hard times and believe we will be okay once we do is the true resolution I have made with myself. To have the courage to stay in the present through the turbulent times. My role in life changes constantly from wife to mother to sister to advisor to friend and I am trying to work it out along the way. That is a recipe that leaves me with no small degree of doubt, a decent quantity of confidence, mixed with a good dose of fear and a strong dram of faith. I can only resolve with as much courage as I can to keep moving forward no matter how hard the road might become. Giving up on day 2 is not an option. When I look around me, it sometimes appears like other’s lives seamlessly follow a perfect trajectory. From birth on it seems their path is blessed, lucky in love, fortunes and friendship. Yet we all realize that is just an illusion and no person’s path is preordained. Life gets in the way. In fact, it’s through hardship and adversity that we learn our greatest life lessons.

I’ve always loved the expression “looking at life through rose colored glasses”. I know it is meant to mean that one who looks at life through those fantastical lens refuses to acknowledge the pain and ugliness of day to day living. Yet it can also mean that life itself can be rose colored, that it can be awash with that kaleidoscopic color of pale red. Why is that so bad? If we are taught that the best life is one of balance then what better balance then rose colored glasses reflecting the bad and the good of life? Or maybe for me it’s reflected in my family’s amber colored glass. When I look through that glass I see back a couple of generations to a strong man and a strong woman who had the pluck and tenacity to carve out a different life than the one of their own parents. In the face of such courage can any resolution fail? In essence that is the question only an individual can answer. The resolution is never static. It changes and shrinks and grows with time and experience. Which goes back to that morning of January 1st when all of our resolutions are no longer a promise for a future date but right here and now. Halfway through the first month of the year, my resolutions have already changed with time. But the resolve to keep moving forward one step at a time never will.

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Beach Walk by sasint via Pixabay

 

Dads

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DSCN1081I live with a pretty great dad. He’s so great that sometimes I forget that not all dads are like this. Even though we now have an empty nest, this dad stays in touch daily with his children. He shares jokes and stories and texts to show he is thinking about them and to let them know he is there whenever they need him. Like me, he has had to learn diplomacy when often what we really want to do is rush into a situation they are dealing with and take over, not because we don’t think they can handle it but because that is what we do as parents.  Dads, like Moms, know that parenting never stops.

Dads sometimes get a bad rap. Often when we hear the word “dad” it is joined with negative words like “deadbeat” or “authoritarian”. But just like motherhood, fatherhood does not come with a training manual. My own husband grew up where only women tended to babies and children so changing a diaper was uncharted territory as was bottle feeding a baby. But he was willing to jump in and do it if it meant more time spent with his children. I recall joining the first baby sitting co-op I was in and sitting around with other mothers who commented on how devoted my husband was with our children. I jokingly asked “aren’t all new dads, this is the 90’s after all!” My comment was met with incredulous silence as they looked at each other and then one of them said “no, it’s not”.

That’s the moment I realized how lucky my children were. They not only had a dad who was a good provider they had a dad who would prefer to spend all of his spare time with them. We took our children everywhere with us because we were a family but also because we lived far from our extended family and we didn’t trust our babies with anyone else but ourselves (no offense to the amazing women in my babysitting co-ops!) What that did was expose my children to a myriad of life situations like music festivals, sporting events, camping and road trips exploring art and nature. And lots of time with their hard working dad.sunset-934865_1280

I have been fortunate to grow up around some pretty great dads although I lost my own when I was 17. I was given a gift however. I had always felt as a child that  I could not please my dad or make him proud of me for who I was. But the summer I was 16 found the two of us home alone together for two weeks as my older siblings left for school and jobs and my younger siblings traveled with my mom. Suddenly we had common ground and things to talk about. I confided in him about teenage joys and concerns for the first time and he listened. Little did we know that was to be his last summer. He was a good provider to his family so we always had food and a nice home and clothes. But this was a different thing. This was his time and his attention. After his death I could not have been more grateful to have had those two weeks to myself.

I then had the great fortune to have another man step in to be a father figure. A beloved uncle with whom I was blessed to spend more years with and who always had time for me and my siblings and then for our husbands, wives and children. He was the consummate dad, full of life and wicked humor and love, love, love. It was because of his example that I learned what qualities would make a good husband and a great father. We lost him last year in his very august elder years but were lucky to have a had a strong father figure in our adult years. Not only my children but my nieces and nephews have some pretty great dads as do my cousins children and my friends as well.

silhouette-1082129_1280But now I look at my children’s dad as we grow older. Our hair is getting grey and we have aches and pains that were not there 10 or even 5 years ago. Our children are adults now and parenting becomes an ever evolving thing.  There are times we want them to listen to what we say even as we realize they may or may not. We worry over them. This great dad still jumps into action whenever he is needed; at our son’s wedding he was full of pride and joy and was on hand for whatever task needed to be addressed; when our daughter moved to her new place, he was the first to schedule the U-Haul. He showed up with his tools and ideas to help her furnish her own little nest.  He will always be a pretty great dad not matter what age they are. And for that I am grateful.

 

Tattoo

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20170613_192600I have a confession to make. I just got my second tattoo. It’s the symbol of a  lotus flower with it’s roots deep in the mud. I chose that symbol based on the Buddhist belief that without mud you will not get a lotus flower. In other words, the beauty of our life is grown out of the proverbial mud we must slog through to find what is truly important in our lives.

As a younger person I never thought I would be one to get a tattoo. Tattoo’s have certain stigmas attached to them. The person who decides to get one must be wild and even a little dangerous. There are actually some tattoos that scare the heck out of me and I would never want to meet that person in a dark alley. For some reason the tattoo says more about the person then any other attribute. But mostly it is the fact that those with tattoos agree to have a small needle jab ink into our skin to create some amazing works of art that seems to set those without tattoos apart.

Tattoos have been around since the beginning of the human existence or at least for several millennia and possibly longer. Mummified skin has been found in countries spanning the globe and in almost all societies. Tattoos could be status symbols, amulets against evil or for safe childbirth, the product of religious ceremony and culture or the result of the drunken longing of a homesick sailor for his mom. They can also be a symbol of personal rebellion against the status quo or maybe a badge of honor after a life changing experience. If life’s battle scars make one a warrior then maybe getting a tattoo to mark that battle is like a signpost on the road of that person’s life. I have seen tattoos that illustrate the struggles and triumphs that person must have experienced. Of course I have seen just as many butterflies, flowers, skull heads and hearts, random symbols that can only have personal meaning to the one wearing them.

Our family faced a crisis when my son was in high school and it was news that devastated us and thrust us into an alternate reality where the norm was long hospital stays, endless drug therapies and days on end when family members resided in different cities as we fought off that specter. We had just begun to recover from that year long event when I was diagnosed with breast cancer. We faced another year similar to the one before but this time I was angry and determined to avoid the disruption we had previously experienced. That was easier said than done. Halfway through the 8 month treatment, I was not so defiant as I fought just to stay above water day to day. My son had moved on to college by that time and carpe diem was the philosophy I watched him follow. So I was not surprised when he called to tell us he was getting a tattoo. Nor was I concerned. In my mind, we had just had the very hard lesson for the past

IMG_1491 (1) two years not to sweat the small stuff and getting a tattoo was definitely in that category. My daughter started her tattoo journey by celebrating her high school graduation and then again for her college graduation.

I got my first tattoo the year after I finished breast cancer treatment. It is the Celtic symbol for healing and that’s just what I wanted for myself and my family. I often forget that I have it because it is located in a place I only see in a mirror. But I recall the prayer I offered up when that ink was being needled into my skin. And I think of the prayer I offered up when the lotus was being tattooed on me as well. Now that is in a place I can see daily so that I can remind myself on those tough days that at the end of it I am likely to find a lotus blooming. Or at least have the faith that there will be one.

Everyone has scars, the worst of which are often hidden. Perhaps tattoos are a way for some to reflect the focus, the work, the energy it takes to move beyond those scars to continue on that long and winding road of life. Tattoos are not for everyone, no doubt. There are many other ways to mark the signposts of our lives or symbolize the fights we have survived. Or to celebrate life’s beauty or the birth of a child or yes, to honor your mom. My family has chosen to wear tattoos and we all have at least one. Maybe that does make us rebellious or wild. I am okay with that if some get that impression. I see it more as my children marking the signposts of the life they have lived and are living, including that time we all traveled together to the edge of the abyss. Thankfully, there was a gloriously blooming lotus flower waiting for us there.

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Photo by vibrantskys via Pixabay