Category Archives: impressions

Do I Like Living Alone?

I recently had a friend in a long-standing marriage comment that they wouldn’t mind living alone.  I was surprised.  Their comment had to do with everyone needing space, time alone.  Residing on your own provides that.

When my husband passed away in December 2015 I was thrown into living on my own for the first time in my life.  I went from living with my parents to living with my husband, and we were married 34 years.   I don’t mind living alone.  There are benefits.   My friend’s comment got me thinking, do I like living alone or have I adjusted out of necessity?

When you are married or involved in a co-habitation relationship patterns develop as to who does what.  One person pays the bills, another handles correspondence.  One mows the lawn and snow blows, the other cleans the bathrooms and vacuums.  Cooking involves making foods that both people like and predominately follows the preference of the person cooking.  Decorating incorporates the likes and dislikes of both people.  Each person tolerates things they don’t particularly care for out of consideration for the other.  It is a cooperative living arrangement that also provides companionship and support.   Living Alone

When residing on your own there isn’t anyone there to help carry the load.  You must figure out how to juggle it all on your own.  When like me it is suddenly dropped in your lap it has a definite learning curve.  Sometimes things don’t get done in the time frame you would like.   The benefit is that there is no one is there to interfere with what you want or the schedule you keep.

I can eat dinner when I want, whether it is 6:30 pm, 9:30 pm, or anywhere between.  I can cook what I want the way I want.  I only have to consider my own palate and my own schedule.   If I don’t want the TV on, it isn’t.  If I want the radio blasting at 2:00 am while I clean house, it is.  There is no noise, no one talking as I read my book with my meals.   Pictures on the walls, knickknacks set out, and the arrangement of furniture can all be changed to the way I prefer.   This is a slow, gradual process.  The house is slowly becoming more “me.”  I have made subtle changes that most people probably wouldn’t even notice.   I’m sure they will become more prominent over time.

So that brings me back to my friend’s comment.  Do I like living alone?  Yes and no.  I think living alone has been a good experience for me.  I have learned to do things I  never did in the past.  The basics of life always handled by my husband such as taking a car in for maintenance, handling the banking, trading in my vehicle for a new one, applying for a mortgage modification, meeting with a financial advisor, paying bills, gathering information for yearly taxes, mowing and trimming the lawn, etc. now must be worked into my schedule.

My husband, Ron, handled a lot.  I’ve never even painted a wall or put windshield washer fluid into a vehicle.  He handled it all.  Ironically Ron taught our son and daughter to do house maintenance, yard maintenance, how to use the generator, power washer, electric drills, shop tools, and how to hook up the trailer and pull it.  He just never taught me.  Those were things he took care of and there was no need for me to know how.  Ron took care of me.  That is what he felt his position was and I accepted it for thirty-four years.  Good or bad it is what it is.  Now I move forward.

I think living on my own and learning new things has boosted my self-confidence.  I have to handle things and if I don’t know how I make inquiries to find someone that does.   I have dealt with a plumber, a heating and cooling person, camera repair, computer support, and resolved issues with a hot tub repair. I have ventured into the unknown and survived.

I also think living on my own has been good from an emotional standpoint.  Ron and I were very wrapped up in each other’s lives.  We were happiest when it was just the two of us and we spent probably 90 to 95% of our free time together throughout our entire marriage.  We attended festivals, events, shopped, did photography, traveled, ate meals, watched TV, and so on together.  We had a few things we each did on our own, but the majority was together.

Living Alone 2The reality is most couples are not as completely consumed in each others lives as we were.  They spend more time doing things on their own and socializing with others.  Living alone has allowed me to adjust to doing things on my own.  I am still learning how to involve others in my plans so I am not always a solo act.

I think this adjustment period is important.   If at some time in the future I become involved in a relationship in which the decision is made to reside together I will be better prepared for the reality that most couples do not spend the majority of their free time wrapped up in each other’s life.  It will most likely not be such an all encompassing relationship as I had in my marriage.  I will also know that I am making that decision because it is a person I want to spend time with, not because I am lonely and/or trying to recreate what I had in my past.

So now we are back to where we started.  Do I like living alone?  Yes and no.  It has been and will continue to be a growing experience.  I have adjusted.  I am comfortable and would consider myself happy on a day-to-day basis.  I don’t desire it in the long term.  I hope that in my future I find someone who is interested in residing together and enjoying the benefits of daily companionship.   In the meantime I will make the most of living alone and enjoy it.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under assumptions, communication, Coping, decisions, Discoveries, exploration, Family, freindship, friends, friendship, habit, home, impressions, Life Changing, Life is a Melting Pot, marriage, mind, reality, time, Uncategorized

Friend Frustration

It is a difficult dilemma, deciding how you want to handle a friendship that has times that are good and times that are frustrating.  This was a difficult situation, one which I contemplated over for literally months.  I hope the end result has a positive outcome.  The ultimate deciding factor was based on two areas that came into play….the friend’s emotional needs and my emotional needs.

This friendship is long-term.  We were very close for eight years, then completely out of contact for twenty-nine years.  In 2009 we connected on Facebook, doing the occasional Instant-Messenger chat, commenting on each other’s posts from time-to-time.  Nothing major.  Just casual contact.   That all changed in 2015.

In 2015 I was making regular trips back to my hometown to work on cleaning out my parent’s home.  My friend suggested we go out to dinner, and after about three months I finally agreed.  It was like deja vu.  Friends - someone is special when you eventually get together again and its like you didn't miss a beat

He picked me up at my parent’s home, which had the same furniture it did when he last set foot in it back in 1980.  We had a great time chatting about his marriage and kids, my husband’s battle with cancer and my kids.  We talked about our siblings and parents.  A connection that went way back.  It was a wonderful evening and after dinner we went back to the house, I invited him in and we continued to talk for a couple more hours before he went home.

It was a connection we were glad was re-established.  Throughout that summer I was making frequent trips into town hand he would on occasion stop by and visit for a couple hours.  It was a nice friendship, familiar, comfortable, but different.  We also maintained contact with conversations on Instant Messenger and an occasional telephone call.

We both realized that there was still an attraction there.  However we were both married and did not step outside of the boundaries of respective marriages.  Then the playing field changed.  My husband lost his battle with cancer.  We maintained the messenger and telephone contact for about three months, and then it tapered off.  He stopped responding to emails or instant messages for extended periods of time.

Friends - someone who speaks to you on their free time v someone who frees time to speak to youI found this frustrating as he suffers from depression and I would wonder how he was doing.  Then suddenly I would receive an email or message.  There were always reasons for his disappearance…busy, kids, grandchildren, sickness, depression…but were they reasons, or excuses?   In my opinion there is a fine line between the two, and I wasn’t quite sure on which side it fell.  Things would improve for a bit but eventually would fall back into the old pattern.

After a while I decided I wasn’t going to continue to pursue a one-sided friendship in which I always initiated the contact.  Instead I would wait and see what happened, and each time I did that I would ultimately receive a message from him usually by email.  He would apologize for his lack of contact and say he had been busy, sick, depressed, whatever, always wanting to preserve the friendship.  And so the cycle went.  This became a roller coaster ride that was irritating.  I didn’t like the feeling that I was making the effort and he was responding when it suited him.  I want the friendship, but not on those terms.  friendship - ignore me and I will ignore you

March 30th of this year rolled around and I received another email.   This one got down to the emotional nitty-gritty, it was honest.  The best one I’ve received because it got to the core of the situation.   He wants to remain friends, but the line is grey for him right now.  There are a lot of factors I am aware of but am not going to elaborate on.  Let’s just say that email put everything into perspective.  He is trying to get his mind straight and I have to be removed from the picture for now.  I’m good with that.  He closed with “Hopefully your friend.”

So what did I do?  I responded.  I don’t know if my response helped or hurt him in his situation, but it helped me in mine.  I was honest.  I told him we are still friends but that I find the friendship frustrating, that a person’s interest in maintaining a friendship is related to their response or lack thereof.   I pointed out that they say ex-lovers can be friends for one of two reasons:  either they were never in love or they still are.  That is the grey area.  I have accepted my grey area and can live with it.  A ghost from the past is not the reality of the present.  We are both different people than we were in 1980.

Then I tossed the ball in his court.  I can handle the give-and-take of being friends, but it is his decision on whether to respond and maintain the friendship.  If he decides to respond great.  If not I move on and don’t worry about it.  This decision was based on my emotional needs, not his, but it also supports his need for distance at this time.

So now I wait.  We are still connected on Facebook.  He has “liked” a couple of my posts; I have “liked” a couple of his.  Do I hope he contacts me at some point in the future?  Absolutely.  I will always be his friend, that is a given.  He is intelligent, funny, challenges the brain.  We have a past, a comfort level of true friends, a connection that can not be replaced.

I hope that right now we are just taking a break and that eventually the friendship is re-established on a more personal level.  However I will not allow my emotions to feel trampled by the friendship.  That is also a given and I have made that clear to him through my actions.

And that, my friends, is how you deal with a frustrating friendship.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under communication, Coping, decisions, Discoveries, freindship, friends, friendship, habit, impressions, Life Changing, Life is a Melting Pot, mind, reality, time

Lingering Loneliness

This came as a surprise.  For the most part this is not something I experience.  I have adjusted to living on my own and consider myself happy in my current lifestyle.  I don’t know if it was the depression of days upon days of gloomy skies and rain, being overly tired from a month that was exceptionally busy and had me feeling overwhelmed,  or the fact that I came down with a horrendous head-cold.  Whatever it was, from out of the shadows loneliness attacked.

In reflecting back I think it was a huge melting pot of all those various factors.  It was rainy, wet, gloomy and cold.  Not my kind of weather at all.  Too many days of drizzly skies compounded the fact that my lawn was getting way too long and between the rain, a trip out of town for a memorial service, and my mower being buried in a shed where it was difficult for me to access, I was frustrated with not being able to get the lawn done.  Then the neighbor mowed his lawn and it made mine look just that much worse.   I don’t like having bad “curb appeal,” but I had and still have a negative “curb appeal” going.

I have been attending physical therapy three times a week, buried at work, and between the two have been more tired than normal.  I have crashed on the couch quite often in the evenings instead of getting things done.  That added to my frustration as my “to-do” list is impossible to complete and lack of energy aggravated me further.Loneliness is my least favorite thing

Suddenly I came down with a massive head cold.  I couldn’t breath, my nose was runny, and I had the chills.  As I lay in my bed shivering the loneliness enveloped me.   For thirty-four years whenever I was sick and had the chills Ron would wrap himself around me and the combination of body heat and human touch would help me to relax and go to sleep.   Now he is gone and I was alone and couldn’t sleep.  That is when it hit.

Ron always handled the yard work and now it is mine to do.  I’m frustrated over not having it done the way I want it.  Landscaping Ron was going to tear out and re-do didn’t get done and it needs to be changed.  The grass isn’t mowed and trimmed the way it should be.  There are things left in the drive, yard and garage from Ron’s scrapping days that I simply want gone.    It has me feeling overwhelmed, angry with myself for not being as fast and efficient at getting it done as he was.  Irritated at the mess I have to deal with.

Weekends were almost always spent together.  Ron and I would get up, have breakfast together and the conversation was always “What are we going to do today?”  Festivals, special events, arts and craft shows, or just going somewhere to shoot pictures.  Photography was a constant part of our lives.  Now I lack motivation.  My weekends are just me.  No one to have breakfast with, plan my day with, or go places with.  Just me doing whatever I want, alone.  On the weekends when I do get out of the house and go somewhere I feel much better, but self-motivation is difficult.

LonelinessBoy, does this sound like a major pity-party or what!  The fact of it is, I am alone.  I have to figure out how to juggle the yard work and get it done.  I have to eat alone, plan my own weekends, get out and be active by myself.  When I’m sick and have chills, that’s the way it goes.  I’m alone and I have to deal with it.    That is life.  That is reality.    Pity-Party over.

So am I lonely or was I just having a moment?  Probably a combination of both.  I don’t feel loneliness on a day-to-day basis.  I have enjoyed adjusting to life on my own.  If someone asked I would tell them I am happy with my life and it would be true.  Will I continue to have moments when loneliness hits me?  Most likely.  Do I want to spend the rest of my life alone?  Not really.  I would prefer to someday find someone who has similar interests and with whom I can share my days and a home with.  Until that time arrives I shall continue as I am and I shall be happy, because happy is the best way to be.

Leave a comment

Filed under Coping, decisions, Discoveries, environmental, Family, habit, home, Illness, impressions, Life Changing, Life is a Melting Pot, memoir, mind, reality

Attitude Analysis

Your attitude, the way you think or feel, is generally reflected in your behavior.   Your own personal demeanor affects the way people view and respond to you.  The attitude of people around you has an impact on the way you respond and behave toward them.  I believe that temperament impacts people both emotionally and physically, and for that reason a positive attitude is important to a person’s emotional well-being.

attitude - focus on possibilitiesYour own personal attitude has a great impact on how you feel throughout the day and your overall outlook on life.  If you feel that life has thrown you the scrungy bone and you must gnaw away at it, you will likely make very little progress and will feel depressed, over burdened and uninspired about life.  Not only will your attitude leave you feeling low, but it will be portrayed in your dealings with others, and may leave them feeling oppressed by emotions as well.

Alternatively if you go through your day with a positive attitude, knowing that no matter what happens things are going to improve, your positive outlook will not only keep you emotionally stable, it will affect those around you as well.  Why?  Because with a positive mindset you maintain an emotionally healthy attitude, and that positive outlook is well received by all around you.  Attitude - how a man treats others

The attitude a person portrays has great impact on how others perceive them.  This is frequently most obvious when dealing with economic differences.  A person’s temperament  when interacting with those he/she perceives to be below their social class is one of the most obvious insights into a person’s character.  Stiffness, curt politeness, a lack of genuine friendliness or outright rudeness is evident in those who think themselves better than others.  Far greater is the person who realizes those differences yet treats all with kindness and compassion.

If you have the opportunity to take part in a gathering in which there are a wide range of economic levels sit back and enjoy the show.  People of money may snub those who they view as being below them.  Those who are of lower income ranges may be intimidated by the social status and obvious wealth of others.   The true judge of character in this type of setting is the person of wealth who treats those who are Attitude - how you react to itstruggling economically with consideration, kindness, and as an equal.  This is a person of great integrity.  They recognize that they have obtained wealth, but they do not fault those around them that have been unable to achieve that goal.

It is important that a person maintain a positive attitude as that is crucial to success, and the key to success is belief in one’s own ability.  This does not mean you will always achieve your goals.  The key to keeping positive is to always be striving for something.  Regardless of whether or not you succeed, attitude is at least 50% of the battle.  There is a saying, “Whether you believe you can or believe you can’t, either Attitude - the one you feedway you are right.”  That is how strongly attitude affects your ability to succeed in whatever you set out to accomplish.

As you go through life keep your attitude in check.  Think about how it affects your own emotional well being.  Think about how it affects the emotional well-being of others.  Don’t focus on problems, focus on possibilities.   Keep your integrity about you and let it guide you in how you handle interactions with others.  Think positive.  Believe in yourself.  Believe in others.  A positive attitude will take you farther than you ever dreamed possible.

 

 

 

1 Comment

Filed under assumptions, communication, Coping, decisions, exploration, habit, impressions, Life Changing, Life is a Melting Pot, mind

Late, Early, or On Time?

I deal with a multitude of people every day, some who are almost always late, some who are on time, and some who arrive early.  Events that recently occurred in my private life got me to thinking about time.

Why is it some people are notoriously late for everything?  Is it their upbringing?  Are they disorganized and can’t seem to gather themselves together to arrive in a timely manner?   Do they think their time more valuable than others and allow themselves to become distracted?  Is it simply an inbred trait they are born with?time-person-running

I think it is all of the above.  Each person is unique and anyone that is habitually late may have any of the above factors playing into it, or a combination of several.  What does this do the the person who is habitually on time and going somewhere with a person who is habitually late?  It drives them crazy!  If you are an “on time” person and have to deal with an “always late” person on a regular basis, you have to learn to accept the fact that they are operating on their own time and not sweat the small stuff.

I was later told of a family arriving late at an event in which I was the center of attention. time-value-of-life One couple and their four children arrived late for my wedding and followed my father and me down the aisle during the processional.

I know one couple where the woman was notoriously late for everything, including her own wedding.  The couple was scheduled for a simple ceremony at the courthouse and all other weddings had been performed.  Lucky for them the Judge agreed to go ahead and perform theirs, even though they were beyond the appointed time.

How is it some people are always on time, meaning on the dot or 10-15 minutes early?  Have they been trained to be timely?  Is it a birth trait?  Are they by nature a courteous, considerate individual who value the time of others as much as their own?

Again, it can be one or all of the above.  Each person is unique and their life experiences affect their habits. I consider on-time people reliable.  You can count on them to be where they say they are going to be when they say they will be there.  Do they ever run late?  Of course, everyone does from time-to-time.  The difference is that it the exception, not the rule.

time-time-managementI am generally an on time person to slightly early person depending on what it is I am doing.  I work extremely close to home and generally arrive on-the-dot for that.  Other activities such as meetings I tend to arrive about 10 minutes in advance.  When did I develop this habit?  When I was a child.  In grade school I was at the building on the playground long before the bell rang to go in.  In Junior High (middle school) I was generally at the school about 15-30 minutes in advance, by high school I was there about an hour in advance, hanging with a group of other early arrivals.  We had authorization to enter the library through the librarians door prior to it officially being opened.  When I went back to college as an adult I was at the school at least 30 minutes prior to the start of class.  By arriving at work 10 minutes prior to my work day it was once commented on how early I was.  No, not early, on time!

So what constitutes early?  Early is well ahead of schedule.  These are times when the “on time” person gets way ahead of themselves.  It can throw a monkey wrench into the process, even if they are meeting up with a timely person, but it can also be fun.  Just roll with the punches and enjoy the toss up in the routine.  This happened to me twice in the past few months, both times with the same person.  One positive thing can be said, when an “on time” person uses their brain to rely on, they are generally ahead of schedule, not late.    So how early were they?

early-bird2The first time was when we had plans to go to dinner and were meeting at my house.  I gave them a time of 6:45 pm, which would allow me to leave work at 6:00, get home and do the normal “arrive home” things of bringing in the mail, putting away my lunch containers, then change my clothes, touch up make-up, etc.  So how did this go?  When I was approaching my driveway at 6:15 their car was also signaling to turn into my drive.  They were 30 minutes early!  The greeting was even funnier.  They exited their vehicle and said “are you late?” and I responded “No, you’re early.”

Remember, don’t sweat the small stuff.  They waited in my living room while I did what I needed to to get ready.   We left the house and were driving down the road when they commented that I was right on how long it would take me to get ready…it was 6:45!  Of course I was right, I’m an “on time” person.

Now when does early become “way ahead of themselves?”  That happens when they forget to check the calendar for what day you are getting together.  I had my day mapped out.  I knew what day they were coming over and the night before planned to do some standard tidying of the house — make sure the dishwasher is unloaded and no dishes are in the sink, vacuum,  check the bathroom and wipe down the mirror — the typical stuff to make a house look presentable.  So how did that go?

I left work about 15 minutes late, so arrived home around 6:20.  I threw my jacket over a chair and flipped through the mail.  Made a phone call regarding some repair work being done and left a message.  I was about to go run upstairs and take off my work clothes and throw on a pair of jeans and a top when my doorbell rang.  early-bird

I opened the door to find my friend standing on the porch.  Weather permitting I generally leave the door open when I know they are coming over, but I had it closed.  Their greeting to me was    “Did you forget?”    I responded that no, they are early — as in 24 hours early!   Oops!

So what happened?  The evening proceeded as originally planned just a day early.  The walls didn’t cave in because my house hadn’t been tidied up.   I laughed after they left and wondered how early they will be the next time around.  They get too far out there and I might not be home.  At the same time, we live in such a planned/scheduled society, that a little twist to the plans now and then keeps life fun and spontaneous.

So what does all this mean?  If you are always late, think about its affect on others around you.  If you are normally on time, it is wonderful that you are conscientious and considerate.   If you are early, as in well ahead of yourself, you are the type of person that keeps others on the edge of their seat and forces life to be spontaneous.

Life is a Melting Pot of personalities and habits.  Whatever kind of person you are dealing with, go with the flow.   Enjoy and have fun regardless of their arrival time.

 

1 Comment

Filed under Coping, decisions, Discoveries, environmental, habit, impressions, Life is a Melting Pot, reality, time

If Unsigned It Lacks Value

I received a typed note in the mail this week, no return address, no signature.  What does this tell me?  That the person does not wholeheartedly believe what they say.  They want to give their opinion, but lack the strength to put their name on it.  They are weak and so must lash out in anger.

The letter, which I have attached hereto as a photo, refers to a column I wrote about the Port Huron Float Down back in August, so it took the writer this long to actually get up the guts to mail it.  Since that Float down post I have have written two other columns, one about St. Clair, but that evades this person’s knowledge.  Why?  Because they aren’t paying attention, they are simply lashing out.  lettr-people-speaking-the-truth

For those of you who may not know, I am an opinion columnist.  I give my opinion on whatever subject I choose.  I do not write editorials, I am not a journalist.  The person I criticized in my opinion column posted a Facebook post on his own page that was at least three paragraphs long.

I normally don’t respond to comments about my column, but people were criticizing me as not being a professional journalist – and I’m not.  They accused me of calling that person names, such as idiot, which I had not….other people had in their posts.  The column I wrote had over 837 shares on Facebook alone, so it pretty good circulation and a lot of comments supportive to my opinion, negative on the other person, who happens to be a public figure/city mayor.

Even at that I would not have even known about the post if it were not for the fact that  people, including the mayor’s wife, tagged me in their comments.   I did respond, pointing out that I am not a journalist or editorialist, I am an opinion columnist.  I gave them the link to the article where the mayor had been interviewed, and pointed out that my opinion column specifically referenced the other article.  It is those facts that this writer is so angry about.  They are so angry they have not been able to move past it.

So the letter has given me a good laugh.  Why?  Because I have moved on from that column and post.  This person has not.  I enjoy writing about controversial subjects because it gets people thinking, creates an interchange of opinions, it engages the mind.  That column achieved my goal.  The Mayor’s Facebook page had comments going on it for an entire day about the subject, and now several weeks later the writer of this letter has their mind still tied up in it, whereas I have moved on.

I do feel sorry for the writer of the letter though, because they lack the confidence and self-worth to put enough value on their own opinion to sign their name, yet they continue to stew in their anger.  That means my column achieved its ultimate goal.  The subject matter has stayed in the mind of at least one person and has them thinking about it.

As for me, I’m contemplating what the next item of interest will be.  I do love getting peoples minds thinking.

letter-unsigned-september-2016023

Leave a comment

Filed under assumptions, Blue Water Area, communication, decisions, events, impressions, Life is a Melting Pot, reality

I’m over the hill and rolling down

Today (September 23, 2016) was my 56th Birthday.  It occurred to me the other day that as of this birthday I am no longer just in my mid-50’s, I am now pushing 60.  Isn’t it funny how the mind perceives certain things and twists them in your brain.  Seriously, am I now at 56 different than I was at 55?  I tend to say that I refuse to get old, and that age is a matter of staying active and thinking young, so why does the number give me a negative feeling?

Maybe it is because I became a widow at age 55.  I never expected that to happen.  My husband was only 64 when he passed.  I didn’t expect to become a widow until I was in my 80’s, yet here I am in the situation about 30 years earlier than anticipated.

EPSON MFP image

EPSON MFP image

I recently found my first gray hair.  I thought I had something stuck in my hair and tried to pull it out, only to discover it was attached!  Then I saw two more on the other side of my face.  I thought about pulling all of them out, but then realized if I did that every time I saw a gray hair I would eventually render myself bald.  I must accept that I am now going gray, hopefully at a very slow pace.

Perhaps it is because my eyes tend to get dry now.  I am frequently switching out of my contacts and into glasses because my eyes become dry and irritated.  I had always assumed  I would continue wearing my contacts 18 hours a day well into my 70s or 80s.  Obviously that is not going according to plan, to the extent that I am contemplating getting a second set of glasses rather than contacts the next time around.  img_0561-1

It could be that my obstructed mobility due to needing an ankle fusion is making me feel ancient.  I do have the ankle fusion scheduled in November and hopefully will have a quick and easy recovery followed by better mobility.

Because of the painful condition of my ankle I have not accomplished as much as I had hoped since my husband’s passing.  The ankle simply can’t handle the extended time   to do yard work, cleaning the basement and miscellaneous other activities that require me to be on my feet.

img_1177So, now that I am over the hill and rolling down it toward 60 I need to keep a positive focus and concentrate on fully utilizing the young gene.  My hair can turn gray…there are people that purposely put grey in their hair for accent.  I can gradually switch over to glasses if needed, after all young people wear fun and trendy glasses all the time.  I will regain mobility after my ankle fusion and should be back to normal by late next spring.  Most importantly, I refuse to grow old.  Old is a state of mind, and my mind is not going there.

 

Leave a comment

Filed under career, Coping, decisions, Discoveries, environmental, habit, impressions, Life Changing, Life is a Melting Pot, memoir

Being Obstinate

445 South of the Bridge-1

Float Down Photo Copyright Grace Grogan

I am by nature a fairly easy going person, except when you challenge what I think is right, at which point I can become very obstinate.  This is the case with an article I just submitted to our local paper, The Times Herald.  St. Clair County has an “unofficial” yearly event called Float Down, which will take place this Sunday.

This is an event where people disembark from Lakeside Beach in Port Huron using rafts, floats, etc. and take with them beverages, snacks, and more for the 7 mile float down the St. Clair River to Chrysler Beach in Marysville.  This is an all-day event, the river is rapid, and even though the event is “unofficial” shipping traffic is generally slowed and/or stopped for several hours that day for safety reasons and the Coast Guard is on hand to carry out any necessary rescues.

0510 Port Huron Float Down - South of the Bridges-1

Float Down.  Photo Copyright Grace Grogan.

There are over 5,000+ participants in the float down, and it grows larger and larger every year.  In my opinion the participation increases because of the publicity it gets…not so much the positive publicity, but the negative.  The U.S. Coast Guard encourages people not to participate because it is a safety risk.  The officials of Marysville where the float ends keep trying to make it difficult for people to exit at their city by closing down roads and making it difficult for people got get picked up and exit the area quickly after floating.  Last year because they closed the road where people exit some floaters were stranded near a local restaurant until 10:00 pm.

598 - Floating by Bramble-1

Float Down.  Photo Copyright Grace Grogan.

This is where my good-natured, always balanced Libra personality takes a turn and I become obstinate.  I am an opinion columnist for our local paper so I just submitted a column about the negative attitude of the City of Marysville’s mayor.  I said I hope all 5,000+ float all the way to Chrysler Beach just because of the mayor’s attitude.   I think the City’s negative attitude is why the float down has grown so large in the past few years.  Who doesn’t want to participate in an event that has a bit of controversy and provides a unique chance at one day of fun per year?  I know I do.  I may be babysitting my granddaughter this year so my daughter can float, but in a future year I will participate in a float down.  The Mayor of Marysville’s attitude has guaranteed that!

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under Blue Water Area, decisions, Discoveries, environmental, events, Family, impressions, Life is a Melting Pot, Michigan, play, summer

Back to the Basics

We live in a rush, hurry up world and if you watch people some of them just plain forget to be polite or simply don’t care.  Tim McGraw recently released a song “Humble and Kind” and it quickly became one of my all-time favorites.  13925108_10154040972888300_4847703994503657380_n

It is important to remember that everyone has value.  You may not personally like the person you are dealing with, and some people leave a lot to be desired, but we should try to give everyone the benefit of the doubt.

I think the basic message of the song says it all — you should treat people kindly, live your life honestly, and don’t let your achievements go to your head….stay humble and kind.   Remember the things taught by parents and grandparents.  Work for your achievements.   Kick back and enjoy the basics in life.    I’ve attached the full lyrics below as well as a link to hear the song.

I hope all of you live the remainder of your life humble and kind.

“Humble And Kind”
(written by Lori McKenna)

You know there’s a light that glows by the front door
Don’t forget the key’s under the mat
When childhood stars shine,
Always stay humble and kind

Go to church ’cause your mamma says to
Visit grandpa every chance that you can
It won’t be wasted time
Always stay humble and kind

Hold the door, say “please”, say “thank you”
Don’t steal, don’t cheat, and don’t lie
I know you got mountains to climb
But always stay humble and kind
When the dreams you’re dreamin’ come to you
When the work you put in is realized
Let yourself feel the pride
But always stay humble and kind

Don’t expect a free ride from no one
Don’t hold a grudge or a chip and here’s why:
Bitterness keeps you from flyin’
Always stay humble and kind

Know the difference between sleeping with someone
And sleeping with someone you love
“I love you” ain’t no pick-up line
So always stay humble and kind

Hold the door, say “please”, say “thank you”
Don’t steal, don’t cheat, and don’t lie
I know you got mountains to climb
But always stay humble and kind
When those dreams you’re dreamin’ come to you
When the work you put in is realized
Let yourself feel the pride
But always stay humble and kind

When it’s hot, eat a root beer popsicle
Shut off the AC and roll the windows down
Let that summer sun shine
Always stay humble and kind

Don’t take for granted the love this life gives you
When you get where you’re going don’t forget turn back around
And help the next one in line
Always stay humble and kind

 

Leave a comment

Filed under communication, Family, freindship, friends, friendship, habit, impressions, Life Changing, Life is a Melting Pot

Too Busy for Friends

I saw a quote that made me wonder about friendships/relationships.  The quote dealt with people who make excuses that they are too busy to respond or don’t put forth an effort to maintain contact.  If a person is interested in being a part of your life, then they will make some effort to be in it.  life - if someone wants to be in it they will make time

This involved both self reflection and viewpoint on people I deal with.  I realized that because my husband and I enjoyed spending the majority of our free time together without the involvement of others I am in the habit of doing things on my own rather than calling a friend to go with me.  Now that my husband is deceased I need to train myself to make contact with people, become more social.  Habits are hard to break and I am concerned that people may view my lack of initiating contact as lack of interest.  I need to break the mold and step outside my safety box into new thinking.

I realize that people who reached out to me about getting together for dinner, etc. may think I’m not interested in maintaining the friendship when I don’t reciprocate with similar suggestions,  when in reality it is because I need to reprogram my brain to reach out to others for friendship.  I will say that when people suggest a get together I am happy to join them.  I am also responsive on social media or email, and will make first contact on social media.  I am not totally unsocial, I just have areas that need improvement.  I did take a step in the right direction last week when a couple artists were talking about going out to dinner after an event and I asked if I could join them.   It was a wonderful, fun evening.

life - ignoring you - will you make an effortNow on the other side of the coin, we all know people we have made the effort to maintain contact with and yet the responses are not forthcoming or we get excuses of “I was going to write/call/respond but have been busy.”  I can understand that from time to time, but when the lack of response become repetitive you have to wonder where you fall on their list of friendship priorities.  Somewhere you have to draw the line and decide you are moving on and if they want to be a part of your life they will notice your disappearance and seek you out.  If they don’t you haven’t lost anything.  Life - Priorities - your place on their schedule

We live in a busy, fast-paced world where people don’t interact on a personal level so much as on a social media level.  We need to re-establish the art of friendship.  Reach out to people.  Respond when they reach out to you.  When you are with a friend put down the phone and talk to the person you are with.  Make people you want to spend time with a priority in your life.  If people don’t make you a priority in theirs then you know where you stand and it is time to move on.

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under assumptions, decisions, Discoveries, Family, freindship, friends, friendship, impressions, Life is a Melting Pot, mind

The Gift You Are

This morning I was listening to some music and the song The Gift You Are by John Denver came on.  It is a wonderfully simple, basic song and yet it says so much.  Each person has value, each person is like a ray of sunshine in the world.  How often this is forgotten.

There are two things we tend to do.  The first is we tend to lose value in ourselves.  It is easy to become overwhelmed with the stresses of life, especially when things are not going according to the plan we laid out.  It is easy to lose faith in your own ability to accomplish those things that are before you.

Sometimes it is not so much losing faith in yourself as disconnecting from the world, withdrawing as you try to deal with whatever is before you.  That is when it is important to dream of a bright tomorrow and know that your dream will come true.  Stay focused, remember that you have the ability to accomplish whatever you set your mind to…remember The Gift You Are.

The second thing we as humans tend to do is judge others, or maybe I should say misjudge others.  We tend to make assumptions about the abilities of people who do not seem to have the same beliefs, mental abilities, physical abilities, or financial standing as ourselves.  When you do that what you are doing is devaluing the person.

Every person that you encounter has value, you just have to take the time to learn what that value is…maybe that value is they are just different from you and both of you can learn from the relationship.  A person with less mental capabilities may have strong determination to succeed, strong artistic talent, an unusual gentleness with animals.  Those are valuable qualities.   A person with physical disabilities may have undergone a struggle you are unaware of that shows their ability to persevere in times of struggle. These are valuable qualities, remember the gift that each person is.

People are people.  Every person has value.  Remember as you go through life The Gift You Are and remember that every person you encounter is also a gift and if they are struggling remind them of the gift they are.

Link to the song The Gift You Are by John Denver.  Lyrics are below.

The Gift You Are
by John Denver

Imagine a month of Sundays
Each one a cloudy day
Imagine the moment the sun came shining through
Imagine that ray of sunshine as you

Remember your darkest hour
With dawn still far away
Remember the way that you longed for mornings light
And think of yourself as a candle in the night

Make believe this is the first day
Everything all brand new
Make believe that the sun is your own lucky star
And then understand the kind of gift you are

The gift you are
Like the very first breath of spring
The gift you are
All the joy that love can bring

The gift you are
All of our dreams come true
The gift you are
The gift of you

You are the promise of all the ages
You are the Prodigal Son
You are the vision of prophets and sages
You are the only one

Dream of a bright tomorrow
Know that your dream will come true
Carry your dream in a sparkling crystal jar
Then you will know the kind of gift you are

The gift you are
Like the very first breath of spring
The gift you are
All the joy that love can bring

The gift you are
All of our dreams come true
The gift you are
The gift of you

The gift you are
Like the very first breath of springtime
The gift you are
All the joy that love can bring

The gift you are
All of our dreams come true, yes, they do
The gift you are
The gift of you
The gift you are
The gift of you

Leave a comment

Filed under assumptions, communication, Coping, disabilities, freindship, friends, friendship, handicapp, impressions, Life is a Melting Pot, reality

Traveling Solo

Memorial Weekend was not the first time I have ever traveled solo, but it is the first time I have done so since the passing of my husband in December 2015.  It was a good trip.  It was a fun trip.  It was a relaxing trip.  It was a lonely trip.    Rather than elaborate in paragraph form, I decided to do a list of bullets, highlights various activities, thoughts, and observations.

 

  • Destination Sault Ste. Marie via Newberry, Michigan.  For those who do not know, these cities are in Michigan’s upper peninsula and are a 5-1/2 to 6 hour drive from my home.
  • Even though I set the cruise control at 74 instead of my normal 85 I still made the trip in the projected six hour time frame going to Newberry on Saturday morning, and that included two stops along the way.  I made it home from Sault Ste. Marie in 5-1/2 hours on Monday with three stops along the way.
  • For those of you who do not know, I have a son in Newberry Correctional Facility and was going to visit him.  I was very surprised to find that it was not busy at all with visitors.  I had anticipated a wait due to the holiday weekend, but was pleasantly surprised to find I could get in right away.
  • Stopping along a two-lane road near a wooded area in the upper peninsula to shoot, from a distance, a large group of trilliums results in an attack of nats, no-seeums, or baby flies (I was told they were all three of those things).  The invasion was so intense that just getting in and out of my car resulted in a large quantity inside, which I was then rolling down the window and trying to shoo out as I drove away.  Maybe it would have been better had I not been wearing perfumed lotion?

    DSC_8365

    Trilliums along roadway. Photo by Grace Grogan, Copyright 2016.

  • Drinking a margarita with my meal resulted in me going from being a good tipper to an exceptionally generous tipper, but I’m sure the waiter was happy.
  • Having a GPS in the car is great, especially when it tells you your hotel is in one spot, which is a hotel under construction.  After placing a phone call you find out your hotel is about 1/2 a mile farther down the road and on the opposite side of the road.   However it did have a handy landmark – across the street from Walmart, and next to the State Police post.  Hmmmm, I never once saw a State Police vehicle the entire time I was there.
  • No-leak ice pacs will create a puddle in your fabric insulated lunch box if they thaw completely and will leave a stream behind you when you attempt to carry it.
  • On Sunday morning all the country music stations, actually almost all the radio stations in general, are either talk shows or church sermons/music.  I found a rock station out of Traverse City/Kalkaska playing music, so of course I had to crank it up and dance my way from Sault Ste. Marie to Newberry for my second day of visiting with Patrick.
  • My favorite place for breakfast in Newberry had several new books by local authors, but I only selected and purchased one.  That is what I most often buy when I travel, books written about the area in which I am visiting and/or by local authors.    I also purchased a book in a gift shop in Sault Ste. Marie by another local author.  DSC_9246
  • It is great to discover that your cousins from the Traverse City area happen to be visiting Newberry as well and you are able to get together for an impromptu dinner and chat for a couple hours.
  • I am a chicken when it comes to setting up my tripod and taking photos in the dark on an unlit street when by myself in an area with which I am not familiar when by myself.  I never gave it a thought when Ron was with me.
  •   The International Bridge looks awesome at night lit up in red, white, and blue, but I have no pictures (please refer to my previous post above).
  • At America’s Best Value Inn an accessible room is truly accessible.  When I am staying at a location where I am unsure on whether or not they have elevators I will book an accessible room to make sure I am not climbing stairs alone with my suitcase, etc.  (I have a very bad ankle).    Usually “accessible” is a room that is on the main floor or not far from the lobby or elevator, but beyond that nothing unusual.  The one in Sault Ste. Marie was wheelchair accessible, had a wooden floor, a fully wheelchair accessible shower, and a raised toilet seat.   Of course the best part was a king size bed, which I had all to myself.
  • I greatly overestimated how much time I would have in the room to read and/or write and packed way more items than needed.
  • The Tower of History in Sault Ste. Marie provides a nice view of the entire city and locks.  There is a small museum on the main level.
DSC_8808

Tower of History.  Photo by Grace Grogan, Copyright 2016.

  • There is an island, Sugar Island, that is accessed by ferry that would be interesting to explore on a future trip.  It is inhabited by a small amount of people and also houses some businesses, but is also supposed to have nature areas.
  • It is hard to access and walk the areas near the water and locks when downtown.  The park where the locks are located is gated, has a security entrance, and closes at 9:00 pm.  The park itself is quite large and features two stories of viewing platforms for watching ships/boats go through the locks.  Unfortunately I missed seeing any go through.
  • Lockview Restaurant has very good fresh whitefish that can be ordered done in five different methods.  I chose broiled and it was very good.
  • Patrick informed me that Street Outlaws is an awesome program.  Monday night was a season premier that was two hours long.  I did enjoy the parts I saw, but unfortunately fell asleep and missed a good portion of the races.  It was rather cool that they were racing Detroit in that episode.
  • My ankle is impacting my decisions on what I do or do not do, which means it is affecting my day-to-day quality of life.  If it does not improve by fall I think I will need to go in for a consultation with my surgeon and likely have an ankle fusion done over the winter.  As someone who is terrified of surgery, that statement and acceptance of the likely need is huge.
  • I am a much more conscientious spender when traveling alone than I was with Ron.  This does not mean I was previously a spender by nature, quite the contrary.  I was and am more likely to put off doing things, whereas Ron was always more likely and willing to buy or do whatever he or I wanted and figure out how to pay for it later.  I guess he was either a good influence or a bad influence, depending on how you look at it.
  • DSC_8736

    Sault Ste. Marie and International Bridge.   Photo by Grace Grogan, Copyright 2016.

  • I need to plan a longer stay to do and see some things I want in Sault Ste. Marie.
  • Buying a bag of fresh on sale at the fudge shop is good.  Munching on it to stay awake all the way home and in the process eating the entire bag is not.  I had a miserable stomach ache later to remind me not to make that mistake again!

Overall I had a fun time this weekend.  I managed to traverse the city at night without getting myself horribly lost.  I forgot to take my book with me for the times I was dining, so utilized social media to keep myself entertained instead.   My first weekend trip as a widow was fun.  It was relaxing.  It was lonely.    The next one will be better.

 

2 Comments

Filed under decisions, exploration, habit, handicapp, Holidays, impressions, Life Changing, Life is a Melting Pot, Photography, travel, Upper Penninsula

Trigger Indicators

The same feeling can be triggered by different stimuli in different people.  It can be a memory, likes, holidays, smells, or just a date on a calendar.  What is your trigger indicator for spring?

Michigan is known for temperamental weather.  It can be 70 degrees today and 40 tomorrow, so is temperature a good indication of spring?  Here in Michigan you may be hunting Easter eggs under snow.  Is it spring when the weather is consistently above 60 degrees?  Is it spring when the tulips have bloomed but are then covered in snow?  Can we rely on the weather to tell us it is spring?

2769 trillium portrait format (1 of 1)

Trilium – Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2015

Maybe your trigger that spring has arrived is when the daffodils or tulips bloom.  Could it be newborn birds chirping in a nest, or a tiny bunny hopping across the front lawn?  Spring is a time of rebirth.  What about the smell of lilacs blooming on a tree?  The smell of a fresh cut lawn?   Scent is a very real trigger for memories.  Has what indicated spring to you as a child changed now that you have become an adult?

What about Easter?  It arrives with easter egg hunts, bunnies, spring dresses and special worship services.  Does the arrival of Easter mean spring has arrived?  The problem with Easter is it arrives anywhere from late March to sometime in April.  Easter is a mental trigger for many that spring has arrived, but should it be?  The weather doesn’t adjust itself to Easter’s arrival, so not a true indicator of spring.

Has spring arrived when a trip through the store includes displays of seed packets, seedlings, soil, mulch, rakes, shovels, and other items needed for gardening.  What about the season opening of the local farmer’s market selling flowers and plants?  Do these items trigger the feeling that spring has arrived?

DSC_7184

Ship on Lake Huron, photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2016

The trigger indicators that spring has arrived are different for every person.  They are brought on by things we have experienced in our lifetime that instills in us that degree of freshness,  newness, that spring evokes in all of us.  For me, one of the number one triggers that spring has arrived is when the shipping resumes on the St. Clair River.  The vibration of ships as they go up and down the river, the sight of their lights at night as they pass by, the sound of fog horns in the morning.  For me, shipping season means spring has arrived.  What triggers the arrival of spring for you?

Leave a comment

Filed under Blue Water Area, Discoveries, environmental, events, habit, impressions, Life is a Melting Pot, nature, spring, Weather

Shall We Elope?

Life spins and churns, twists and turns, and in the process dreams are born, moments cherished, and desire becomes reality.  Such is the case with a friend of mine who after spending more than twenty years widowed and single married the man of her dreams.

Wedding wishes, preparation, anticipation, and anxiety all come into play when anyone gets married.  We are used to watching young people plan big, elaborate weddings, and there is excitement in that type of a “production.”   This was different.  It was two adults with children and grandchildren planning a small, simple, elopement with tidbits of details that added to the fun and uniqueness of this blending of their lives.

Planning to have an outdoor wedding in Michigan during the month of April is always gutsy.  They decided they wanted to get married on the covered bridge in Frankenmuth, a popular location that is a unique, small town atmosphere and also a popular tourist destination.  Being that it was two hours from home they needed to search and find a pastor to perform the service.  They checked on use of the covered bridge, booked a motel and made arrangements for early check-in, arranged for a second witness, and made plans for photo locations.

Then a week before the date the couple held their breath when snow crept over the state.  All was not lost.  The day of the wedding was warm and sunny, comfortable for the bride in her sleeveless dress, a bit warm  for the groom in his suit.  A perfect day, perfect weather.

Vicki held to tradition.  The morning of the wedding I received a text message asking if I had something she could borrow.  She had the something old, something new, and something blue.  She wore a bracelet that belonged to me for her something borrowed.    I attended the event and served as witness/matron of honor and photographer.

I met Mark and Vicki at their motel and after Mark dressed and I had taken a couple shots of Vicki helping him with his tie, he left to meet us at the bridge.   I helped Vicki with her dress, we took a few preparation shots, and I was shown a gift she had purchased for her new husband.  It was fun, girly, and relaxing all at the same time.  We arrived on location to find Mark chatting with the pastor and her husband.

 

Photos by Grace Grogan, copyright 2016

 

Vicki had been worried about finding an appropriate dress, but she did and made the purchase.  Then after reflection decided there was nothing wrong with her purchase, but it lacked the pizazz that one wants for their wedding day.  She kept looking and ended up with a lady-like, age appropriate, knock-him-off-his-feet dress.  How do I know, because I was walking with them and Mark looked over at Vicki and said “you look good, you look really good!”  He was right, she did.

Rather than use the bridge, which was dark and cool, for their ceremony they opted to stand near the water overlooking the bridge.  Prior to vows the groom, who is in a band, sang to the bride.  Vows were spoken, rings exchanged, and of course the traditional kiss.   The marriage license was signed, then they posed for a few photographs before we went to lunch.

DSC_6621

Fried Ice Cream Deluxe – Yum!  Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2016

When in Frankenmuth the tradition is to go for chicken dinner.  Traditions are made to be broken, and when you have a small elopement instead of a over-the-top wedding, plans can be adjusted on a moments notice.  How many brides and grooms do you know who have their wedding dinner in a tiny Mexican restaurant?  Well I know one, and it was great.  They were even presented with a huge, free fried ice cream because it was their special day.

After lunch we shot a few more photographs and then the happy couple went for a horse-drawn carriage ride around town.  The end of a perfect day leading into a perfect night, and the beginning of a perfect union of marriage.

DSC_6967-2

Their first adventure as husband and wife. Photo by Grace Grogan, copyright 2016

 

 

 

Leave a comment

Filed under celebration, decisions, events, Family, impressions, Life Changing, Life is a Melting Pot, marriage, spring

What Makes a Volunteer?

What is it that causes some people to volunteer repeatedly?  They are active in everything, always jump in to lend a helping hand, and juggle several volunteer positions, full time jobs, and other obligations.

Why is it some people never volunteer?  They will joint an organization, but never go beyond the membership stage.  Even when the organization is in desperate need of assistance, they refuse to lend a helping hand.

I have been a volunteer in a variety of organizations over the past 30+ years.  If you belong to several organizations you find that it is always the same people that volunteer, always picking up the slack while others sit idly by.  What is it that causes this difference in people’s willingness to give.  Why is it some people can juggle huge loads and always take on something else, while others are overwhelmed with one or two things?

This has been on my mind for several reasons.  I belong to the St. Clair County Family History Group.  A few years ago our treasurer passed away unexpectedly, and no one was willing to step up and fill that persons shoes.  After a year one person said she would do it — the only reason she hadn’t volunteered before is because that is the type of work she does for a living, she held other committee positions, and was hoping someone would step up to the plate and take the position.  No one did, so Sue stepped in and has done a phenomenal job for years.  Sue made an announcement in May 2014 that she and her husband were planning to retire and move to Michigan’s U.P. within 1-2 years and that she would no longer be able to handle the position of treasurer.  She announced early so that if someone wanted to take over and have her handy to answer any questions and walk them through the steps while she was still in the area, that would make the transition easy.  No one volunteered.  She has now submitted her “formal” written resignation to the president.  I am wondering, actually doubtful, if anyone will volunteer.Volunteer - Make  a Life by What we Give

Now you may wonder why I don’t take the position.  The reason, I already hold a board position as Vice President, plus I am Newsletter Editor for the club.  I also try to manage the website, a position that was emptied and no one took over.   I am not good with the website and have been asking for about four years for someone to take it over, but no one has.  I announced a year ago that I was willing to hand over the VP position, which only requires you to run the meeting in the event the President is absent, which has never happened in the past 11 years I have been a member, and once a year you put together the Annual Report – a booklet of all the committee chairs annual reports.  No one volunteered and so I continued in that position.   In the same club we have another member who is moving out of state and has announced that her board position and committee chair position will be vacant.     That means we now have two board positions that need to be filled and two committee chair positions that need to be filled immediately.   I have my doubts that there will be anyone who steps up to the plate and takes on the openings, because we have other committee positions that have been vacant for years.

I am also a member of the Blue Water Shutterbug Club and have held various positions over the years, the most recent was as Member at Large — a board position that is relatively easy to have.  The Vice President of that club is moving out of State and had announced that his position would be vacant and someone would need to take over.  Every month before the meeting begins the VP walks around and solicits three members who have had the training to serve as part of a 3-judge panel for the photo competition that month.  The person also has a short 30-60 minute commitment once a week to pre-judge the photos submitted, making sure they are suitable for the categories they have been submitted into.  A relatively easy position with low commitment.  I was not going to be at the meeting in which the elections were taking place, but let the leaving person know that in the event no one volunteered I would take over.  Need I mention that I am now Vice President of the BW Shutterbugs?

I have spent most of my adult life volunteering in various organizations.  When my kids were young I was active in the PTO, serving as secretary for 6-7 years, chairing a committee that gathered and added grocery receipts from a particular store to raise money for the school, chaired a prize committee for the annual carnival, chaperoned field trips and volunteered in the classroom from time to time, all while holding down a full-time job.  I also was co-leader of the girl scouts, leader of the Tiger Cubs, secretary for a collectible club, and in addition to my full-time office position sold Tupperware.  My kids were involved in karate, scouting, AWANA and dance. Oh, I almost forgot, I volunteered in the nursery at the church we were attending.  If I could do that with two young children at home, why can’t people who are retired and have no young children at home dedicate some of their time to an organization?

This past weekend I attended a workshop where the purpose was to handcraft items that will be placed in gift boxes.  Those boxes are donated to hospitals to be presented to parents who give birth to stillborn babies or whose babies die shortly after birth.  They include gowns for the baby to be buried in, tiny stuffed animals, blankets, hats, etc.   A very important and much needed item so I dedicated my Saturday, from noon to 9 pm to help out.  While I was at the workshop someone asked me what I do in my free time.  I guess when you put it all in a list, it overwhelms some people.

What do I do?  I am Vice President and Newsletter Editor of the St. Clair County Family History Group, Vice President of the Blue Water Shutterbug Club, I write a genealogy column for The Lakeshore Guardian, I am an opinion columnist for The Times Herald, I have a weekly blog, I am writing a book about our families dealings with DHS and trying to adopt our granddaughters, my husband and I have a photography business, Times Gone By Photography and we both have photos in a local art gallery, for sale in a local hospital, for sale at a couple local stores and we both have websites on Fine Art America, plus a business Facebook page, Times Gone By Photography.    In addition to that I work full time as a paralegal, and my hobbies include scrapbooking, reading, photography, and genealogy.

When people say I should relax, eliminate some of those items, I respond “Why?”   If you don’t have a wide range of interests and activities life becomes boring.  I don’t want to reach my old age and have nothing to look back on, regrets that I didn’t do things, or be bored in retirement because I have no hobbies or interests to keep me busy.

Now don’t get me wrong, I can do the couch potato in front of the TV just like everyone else.  Then I realize that the things I want to do are sliding away and I get busy again.  My “chill time” gets me re-energized for the next round of activity.

What makes a volunteer?  Why are some people willing to plunge right in wherever needed and others always spend their time on the sidelines, observing but never fully participating?

Are you a volunteer or an observer?  What are your reasons for the position you take on volunteering?

Leave a comment

Filed under Activities, events, friendship, hobbies, impressions, Life is a Melting Pot, mind, time, work

Songs About Me

Everyone has songs they love, either because they relate to themselves personally, remind them of a previous time in their life, or make them think of someone they know.  There is a country song that contains the lyrics ” songs about me and who I am” by Trace Adkins.   That made me wonder, what are the songs about me?  Songs that I love, that make me think of people, that relate to my life.  There are many, and I’m sure after I’m done writing this post I’ll remember something i didn’t include.

I mostly listen to country now, but I love all kinds of music.  I was a teen in the 1970’s and I still love that old time rock and roll.  Whenever I hear that song by Bob Seger I have a hard time sittiing still, it just makes me want to get up and dance.  That song also holds another memory because when my children were in elementary school there were several roller skating parties each year, and I always skated at each one (on quads, I was a kid before roller blades existed) and at every roller skating party the principal of the school always had that song played.  That song moved me at a good speed on skates, and whipping around the rink was great fun.  That is, except when a young child fell right in front of me one time and I have no idea how I accomplished it, but I managed to jump him because there was no way I could swerve or stop.  I impressed myself and could never have done it again if I was trying it.a music

In 1975 the United Nations Government Assembly declared 1975 International Women’s Year in support of the women’s movement.  I was 15 at the time, and Helen Reddy’s song I Am Woman was released that same year.    It is a song that not only speaks of the era I grew up in and achievements that were being made, but it also fits my personality.    I can be very determined, and the lyrics state “You can bend but never break me, ‘Cause it only serves to make me more determined to achieve my final goal, and I come back even stronger, not a novice any longer, ’cause you depended the conviction in my sole.  Oh yes, I am wise but it’s wisdom born of pain, Yes, I’ve ‘aid the price, but look how much I gained.  If I have to I can face anything, I am strong (strong), I am invincible (invincible), I am woman.”    While I may not achieve the original goal, my determination to make something positive come of it can be a silent but effective form of revenge.

I grew up in Small Town USA, like the town portrayed in Justin Moore’s song.  Although I moved away and never went back, there are lots of people who never left, and others who did leave and go back.  There is something comforting about growing up in a small town where everybody knows everybody and what they are doing.  My sister still lives in that same town and many of her friends are people we grew up with.  It should be said that I now live in another small town where there are a lot of people who grew up in town and have strong roots and family heritage here.

When I was 19 I met the man that is now my husband in a bar when he asked me to dance.  Two weeks after we met I told someone I was going to marry him and 16 months later that goal was accomplished.  We recently celebrated our 33rd anniversary.  Whenever I hear Ann Murray’s song, Could I have This Dance I think it fits my husband and I perfectly.   “I’ll always remember, the song they were playing, the first time we danced and I knew,
as we swayed to the music, and held to each other, I fell in love with you.  Could I have this dance for the rest of my life, Could you be my partner
every night, when we’re together it feels so right, Could I have this dance for the rest of my life.”    While I don’t remember the song they were playing when we danced, I remember him staring at me from across the bar and several other bits of conversation throughout the evening.

That isn’t the song we used at our wedding, that was If, by David Gates, a popular song for weddings at the time. “If a picture paints a thousand words
Then why can’t I paint you?  The words will never show the you I’ve come to know.”

As time goes by and our children were growing older, there are songs that make me think of them, what they have been through, their personalities.    When I purchased a Lori Morgan album that contained the song “Skakin’ Things Up” I immediately thought of my daughter, Caroline.  That song fits her personality perfectly.  Unfortunately I was unable to locate a link other than the lip-sink one I linked to above.  The words are so perfect for her as both a child and an adult, “I’ve been told better safe than sorry and to look before I leap, To think about what I should say long before I speak.  I’m tired of holding back my true emotions, I can’t help but cause a little commotion.   I like shakin’ things up, I like pushin’ the boundaries, I like livin’ my life on the edge and chasin’ far-fetched dreams, I’m gonna feel young when I grow old, I’m gonna chalenge the status quo, when bein’ good just ain’t good enough, I like shakin’ things up.”   Anyone that knows here will agree, that is Caroline.

Now our son, Patrick, has always managed to find trouble.  Sometimes he started it, sometimes he didn’t.  Actually, the Rodney Atkins song “If You’re Going Through Hell” not only applies to him, but also all of us in our family at some point in time, rather my husband’s nasty divorce from his first marriage and battle with his wife repeatedly denying him visits with his daughter, the legal issues our son encountered growing up and as an adult, my recovery after my motorcycle accident, our attempts to adopt our granddaughters and the adversity we encountered from CPS/DHS, to our newest challenge with my husband having cancer of the esophagus, the song fits.   It is a good song to apply to anything you encounter:  “If you’re goin’ through hell keep on going, don’t slow down if you’re scared don’t show it, you might get out before the devil even knows you’re there.  When you’re goin’ through hell keep on movin’, face that fire walk right through it, you might get out before the devil even knows you’re there.”

There are so many songs I can relate to, after all, “I’ve Got The Music In Me” because “I’m never frightened or worried, I know I’ll always get by
I heat up, I cool down, When something gets in my way I go around it, Don’t let life get me down” and I am Proud to be an American, “where at least I know I’m free, And I won’t forget the men who died, who gave that right to me.”   The country I call home, It’s America — “It’s a high school prom, it’s a Springsteen song, it’s a ride in a Chevrolet.  It’s a man on the moon and fireflies in June and kids sellin’ lemonade.  It’s cities and farms, it’s open arms, one nation under God, It’s America.”

My wish for all who read this is that “you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean, Whenever one door closes I hope one more opens,
Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance, And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance,  I Hope You Dance.”

When my life it over, I hope it reflects Garth Brooks, “I’m glad I didn’t know  the way it all would end, the way it all would go, our lives are better left to chance, I could have missed the pain but I’d of had to miss The Dance

Please Share/Comment:  What are the songs that reflect you and your life?

 

2 Comments

Filed under Family, impressions, Life is a Melting Pot, memoir

Impression v. Reality

We all have an impression in our mind of what certain people should look like or behave like. Impressions that are imbedded in our minds from past experiences, misconceptions or any other wide range of factors. When we meet someone who does not meet the criteria our mind has set forth the reality is quite shocking. Chances are everyone who is reading this post has either been the subject of or subjected someone else to impressions that do not match reality.

Photo found on the internet that depicts the writer's impression of "grandma"

Photo found on the internet that depicts the writer’s impression of “grandma”

When I think of the term “grandmother” I picture my own grandmothers, grey haired ladies who did their hair with pin curls, wore full length aprons, never worked, never drove a car, and were great cooks.  That is the image that always comes to mind for grandmother, but I and numerous friends are the living reality that that is not the case now.  Modern day grandmothers work full time, drive cars, travel, are involved in activities, and although some of us may be great cooks we do not wear aprons.   So why can’t I shake the image in my mind of what a grandmother should look like?   Because that is what my grandmothers looked like and it is most likely what most grandmothers looked like in that era, but it is no longer the reality.

Motorcycle Gear - a photo of my friend Vicki dressed to ride.  Photo obtained from her Facebook page.

Motorcycle Gear – a photo of my friend Vicki dressed to ride. Photo obtained from her Facebook page.

My husband and I participating in a poker run.

My husband and I participating in a poker run.

What does a biker look like?  Back when I was in physical therapy following my motorcycle accident, one of the other patients asked what happened to me and when I told her she responded “You don’t look like a biker.”     She thought that people who rode motorcycles were always dressed in their leather vests, coats and biker boots.  I explained to her that people who ride motorcycles only dress that way when they are riding, but they are ordinary people who hold a variety of jobs, doctors, lawyers, salesmen, etc. and they wear normal, everyday clothing suitable to their profession.   When I was riding I did encounter people who treated me differently when I was dressed in my motorcycle gear, to the extent that I would say some were nervous.    What was funny was had I approached them without the leather vest or jacket they would likely have treated me the same as they were others.  Regardless of my clothing I was the same person.  People allow their minds to cloud reality and the impression they have set in their minds can cause them to prejudge.

handicap parkingI recently read a person’s letter to the editor in a newspaper in which the writer was commenting on a person who entered the McDonald’s he was at and voiced an objection about a non-handicap marked vehicle being parked in a handicap spot.  The writer was the person who had parked in that spot, did not have the state-mandated handicap tag but was on crutches and parked there.  In referencing the person that had objected to the spot being taken, the writer stated he “seemed to have nothing wrong with him other than being a bit overweight.”    What classifies a person as being handicapped?  They do not have to have an obvious physical disability that stands out and screams “I am handicapped.”  Persons who have obtained handicap markings for their vehicles have to obtain a doctor’s note specifying why they need handicap designation and then that document goes to the Secretary of State to obtain the appropriate tag for the vehicle.   Most people who do not know me do not realize that I have been in an accident and have a handicap parking designation on my vehicle.  I worked very hard to not have a limp after my accident, so when I walk into a building people do not realize that under my slacks I am wearing a compression sock and either a leather boot that supports my ankle or an ankle brace and that my ankle almost always has some level of swelling.    I have mastered the technique of getting in and out of my car so that people do not realize that to exit my vehicle I have to be able to open my car door all the way to put both feet firmly on the ground before standing up or that to get back into the vehicle I have to open the door all the way to get my left leg in a specific position to sit down.    My disabilities are for the most part not detected by the general viewer.  Therefore the impression of what a handicapped person is and whether or not they should be using a designated handicap parking tab and the reality of what may qualify a person for such a designation can be very different.

A wedding ceremony.  Photo by Grace Grogan

A wedding ceremony. Photo by Grace Grogan

I recently photographed a wedding in which I was shocked when I realized who the minister/pastor  was.  My impression of a clergyman is someone who is conservative, soft spoken, and always uses a traditional version of the bible.  Wrong!  The pastor/minister that conducted the ceremony was a very nice person, but did not fit my mind’s impression at all.    He was tattooed, had some piercings and used an electronic pad instead of a traditional bible.   I was very surprised when I realized he was the person officiating the ceremony and not a guest.   Had I met him on the street I would never believed he was a minister/pastor.  The combination of the handicap posting and my surprise at the minister/pastor’s appearance at the wedding is what led to the creation of this post.

Impression v. Reality can be a fun experience if you accept that what you mind thinks is correct may not be accurate.  The experience of learning how the mind plays tricks on you can be very enlightening.   If you have experienced the surprise of Impression v. Reality please share you experience here.

2 Comments

Filed under assumptions, decisions, handicapp, impressions, Life Changing, Life is a Melting Pot, mind, reality