Tag Archives: journey

Journey

Standard
IMG_0267

This is what I am moving toward: my family, grandchildren especially.

I looked at my list of posts over the past year and was tickled to see a post about Monarch butterflies followed by my getting-ready-to-move post. Disconnected? I think not.

Both posts are about migration and survival.

My last post I was packing in preparation for my move from Connecticut to Texas. That certainly qualifies as a migration, and not in preparation for winter, metaphorical or seasonal.

This post is about the move itself.

Day 1

I picked up the 16-foot Budget moving truck at 11 a.m. on Friday, July 14th. My plan was to load up the truck and leave the following morning.

Oh, the plans of mice and men–of mice and men.

I arrived home to find no one working, no one packing, no one accomplishing anything necessary to achieving my goal of leaving the next morning.

I took a few deep breaths and began to engage each son, explaining what I would like to see done and why. I always include the why when engaging my children, grown or not.

I realize now that I handled the move entirely wrong. Hindsight and all that.

Needless to say, we (yes, they finally kicked into gear) continued packing while my moving truck sat empty at the top of the driveway. It remained there overnight. I tried not to cry.

Day 2

Saturday morning dawned, filled with bird songs and cries, sunshine and fluffy clouds. It was a perfect day to begin our journey.

And then I looked around and realized there were only a handful of boxes completely packed, sealed and labeled. The kitchen was not packed.

I had tried to sell as much stuff as I could at a 3-day tag sale. Very little interest and less than $100 made, I now had all that stuff there that needed to be dealt with (dump and Goodwill).

I don’t remember what time the boys finally woke up and began to pack. It wasn’t early.

It was on this day that I got an answer to the question: “Are you going with us to Texas?”

I had been asking my 21-year-old son this for weeks with no answer. I mean not even his typical grunt was forthcoming. He didn’t know.

Suddenly, he was coming with us. He had not assisted us in any significant way prior to this point. I was nearly pulling my hair out.

Now I had one more person’s belongings to accommodate on the truck and my storage unit (which I already rented – my daughter picked up the keys for me that week).

If nothing else, I am a mom. I would never leave one of my children if I could help them be where they wanted to be. And I certainly knew that Texas, specifically Austin, was where this computer programmer, game developing musician needed to be. Of course, he could come with us.

And suddenly things were happening. It was like the trip itself had been holding its breath, waiting for my 21-year-old to commit to the move.

The floodgates opened and stuff flew into boxes, got loaded onto the truck, and progress was being made.

However, not enough got done to leave on Saturday. I announced that I had canceled our hotel reservations for the next two days and replanned our trip for a Sunday departure.

Everyone stopped working and called it a day; not what I wanted.

I was exhausted; I was beyond exhausted. I took two naproxen for pain and called it a night.

Day 3

I had been waking up around 4:30 a.m. the last three days, and this day was no exception. I can get a lot done in the early morning hours. So I did.

Packed boxes were everywhere. Many household items had made it out to the truck in the evening prior, much that had to be unloaded before we could begin seriously loading the truck properly. Yes, there is a right way to load a moving truck, and I had to supervise closely while still trying to pack and supervise the boys packing. I was exhausted by 10 a.m.

Around this time my 27-year-old son arrived to pick up the house and pickup truck keys and discuss caring for the house until his father decided to engage (my estranged husband was giving everyone the silent treatment, refusing to answer the phone or discuss me and our sons leaving for Texas). I had asked one of my son’s friends to help care for the house, to house sit even which he agreed to do.

The second set of floodgates opened and the move was happening.

I knew that the house would be cared for, cleaning would get done, and projects dealt with. I offered money and money talks (even though I don’t have money for such things – you do what you have to do).

Approaching noon, the truck was finally loaded. The cars were loaded with computers and other items that were deemed too delicate to go on the truck. When I drove the truck up the driveway to get it out of the way so the pickup could get back to work hauling stuff off (driven by friend), I realized that the tag sale stuff was still there. Sigh.

I told the boys that we weren’t leaving until everything we weren’t taking was either hauled to the dump or stowed in the workshop and/or garage. We were not leaving a mess (of course not).

An hour later, we were ready. Actually ready!!!

I nearly cried when we pulled out, our caravan of moving truck and two cars.

It took me years to get this move started. I had asked my estranged husband to help me move, to help me sell our house, to help me be near my elderly, very sick mother and he refused. Keeping me in Connecticut was his last bit of control over me. Cutting me off from our finances hadn’t brought me back to him. Forcing me to live in poverty hadn’t brought me back to him. Ignoring me hadn’t brought me back to him. Tough love just didn’t work, because I was not a drug-addicted, rebellious child. I was his equal partner in a marriage that had started out with great potential. Control and abuse destroyed it.

But this day, Sunday, July 15, 2017, I drove away from my prison, declaring that I was free.

We drove across Connecticut to New York and I celebrated.

We drove through Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia and Tennessee that first day. We drove for 8 long hours, arriving at our first destination after 10 p.m.

We all crashed, exhausted, but not before a celebratory drink or two. We were far, far away from Connecticut and closer to our destination.

Days 4, 5 and 6

The following days we drove as long as I could handle driving. When I arrived at a hotel where I thought I had a reservation, the lovely clerk made sure we had a room. I found everyone I met along the way was helpful and kind.

Each day we would arrive at our hotel, my legs would be so swollen I could barely walk. I would spend the next few hours drinking Mullein leaf tea with my legs elevated so that my legs would not sustain permanent damage. This trip was not easy for me physically. But it was not going to kill me, so we drove and drove.

I drove the moving truck every single mile. My sons were reluctant to drive it, so I did. I actually enjoyed that truck a bit, being up high, being treated kindly by truckers hauling all the stuff that Americans need to live and enjoy life. The roads were crowded, but most drivers were courteous.

Day 7

Thursday, July 20, 2017, we lazily awakened in our Holiday Inn located in Livingston, Louisiana (very nice place). We were less than 5 hours from our final destination.

I had been trying to figure out how to time unloading the truck into the storage unit and where to park the moving truck overnight. My storage unit manager said I could not leave it there. I couldn’t reach the drop-off facility manager. It was stressful. My contract stated that I could not drop off the truck after hours (which turned out to be untrue).

I had this whole dilemma at the back of my mind as we drove the last miles to Houston. When we crossed over into Texas, I texted my daughter.

“Welcome home!” she texted back. I cried tears of joy.

And just typing those words makes me cry with joy, with relief.

We had picked up four two-way radios in northern Alabama (I think that’s where it was). So we chattered back and forth between cars. When we stopped for gas about an hour away, I told them that the sky looks different in Texas. They didn’t believe me, but I stand by that.

Politics aside (please ignore Texas politics—pols here have all gone insane), Texas is a beautiful, crazy, fun, full-of-life place to live. It is never boring. Never.

That big sky. Oh, that big sky.

We arrived in Houston and drove for about 30 minutes to my storage unit where my daughter and granddaughter were waiting for us. Lots of hugs. So many hugs. I exclaimed over and over how happy I was to finally be in Houston. My granddaughter was happy as always. She is always happy.

I admit the unloading was tortuous. I didn’t do much because I couldn’t. It was crazy hot and humid. My sons were melting. But they did it.

And then I got a brilliant idea. I would just park the moving truck in front of the drop-off location and leave a note that I would be there first thing in the morning to check it in. I left my lock on the back and took the keys with me. Haha! A whole ‘nother story, but it worked out fine. The grizzled, old facility manager and I bonded the next morning after he told me he thought I was just some stupid Yankee for leaving the truck without dropping the keys in the drop box (yeah, I could have dropped it off after hours). So funny!

I called my mom and let her know that we had arrived and that I planned to drive to Austin Saturday to spend the weekend with her and my stepdad.

I emailed a couple of people that we reached our destination safely. I breathed a huge sigh of relief and fell asleep soundly on my inflatable mattress in my granddaughter’s room (she loves that I sleep in her room).

This part of my journey is over. I am without a place of my own right now, but I am welcome in my daughter’s home and my mom’s home. They love me and embrace me. That is what I have yearned for all those years I was being held prisoner in Connecticut (I held myself prisoner as well by trying to do what was right by the house, the property, be responsible and I did have a teenager in high school there).

Update: July 25, 2017

My mom found out yesterday afternoon that she has late-stage cancer. I am devastated. I will be here for her, though. We will walk this path together. And this is why I felt an urgency to get to Texas.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

Special thanks

I want to thank my friend, Charlotte Gelston. She has been my greatest inspiration and the one who told me to just pack up and go. Stop worrying about the house. Just go. So I did.

Charlotte is a woman of God who knows how to show the love of God. It isn’t religion to her; she believes her very life is meant to express God’s love toward others. And it does. I have never met someone who is a more genuine Christian.

I do believe in the power of prayer, and I know that she and the other member of our small knitting group, Ginny, prayed for me every minute and every mile of the move.

Thank you.

Advertisements

Parenting Advice: Know Who You ARE!

Standard

Floundering through life

I have been at the brink of despair a few times in my life.

Disclaimer: Never, ever, do I believe that my children have been responsible for these times when I nearly lost hope. Not at all. Raising children can be stressful, yes. Raising children with disorders, learning disabilities, and mental illness can keep a mother in crisis mode entirely too much. Never have I felt that my children were responsible for my feelings of hopelessness, though.

Here I am today. Obviously, I have never given up. I have not thrown up my hands (not for long, anyway) and walked away. I have been to the brink of despair, looked into the great abyss, and always pulled back to life somehow. No, I have never been suicidal, but I have felt the lure of completely disconnecting a few times. Most of the time, although I was working hard and living fully, I was floundering, not really knowing where I was going. I honestly believe this is because I stopped developing as a person. The maturation process halted at some point and I needed to resume if I were to become who I wanted to be as a person.

Core beliefs: my foundation

I have a stubborn personality. When I think or believe something, I chew on it like a dog chews on a bone. I want to know if it is worth keeping, worth embracing, and worth making a part of my very soul. Yes, I take ideas very, very seriously; consequently, I consider different ideologies seriously. I will share some basic ideas or beliefs that have made it to my foundation:

  1. The Golden Rule: I believe that if all of humanity treated others as they would like to be treated, all would be well with the world. I know this is simplistic, but this one made the final cut a long time ago.
  2.  

  3. Leave the world a better place than I found it. I think I was born an environmentalist. I have always noticed nature. I have always felt connected to the earth. This belief goes beyond environmentalism, though. I have a deep desire to influence my community and my world to be a kinder, better place, one that meets the needs of its people while giving the human spirit plenty of room to soar.
  4.  

  5. Women are equal to men and are to be partners in all of life’s endeavors. I have consequently rejected the Pauline letters of the New Testament because of their inherent misogynistic doctrines. Some of my more religious friends gasp when I declare this. This was necessary for me to continue believing in a loving God, though. Women are not to be subservient to men (as human beings), ever. Women and men in marriage, in church, and in life should have egalitarian systems of relationship.
  6.  

  7. God is a benevolent being. I wasn’t raised in a religious household. We didn’t pray at meals or read our Bibles as a family. But we did go to a Baptist church for a few years off and on. Before that, though, I felt a cosmic presence. I now see God as a loving, concerned, personal entity. I believe his involvement in this world is as much as people will allow, though. He is not a puppet master by any means, nor is he like Zeus or one of the other ancient Greek gods who love playing around with human lives as though they were pawns on a chess board. Nor is he merely a he. I believe what the Scriptures tell us about God’s supposed gender: “In the image of God, he made man. Both male and female, he made them.” (Genesis 1:27) Male and female humans are made in the image of God. Therefore, God is characterized by male and female attributes, not just the male attributes traditionally ascribed to him. Put that in your pipe and smoke it for a bit — or chew on it like a dog does a bone. Really makes you rethink patriarchal church hierarchy, doesn’t it?

I truly believe these constants in my life are what keep me going. There were times before I knew who I was and what I wanted from life where I felt so very lost. I was angry, confused, and alone. I wasn’t ever really alone; I just felt alone. And that is one of the worst feelings in the world. Out of a desire to NOT be alone, I often made desperate and emotional choices. I let my emotional needs drive me for a good part of my life. And this very long introduction brings me to where I am today.

The humility of knowing

I know who I am and where I am going, as much as any person can at any time in her life.

Oh, I am not arrogant enough to believe that I have arrived, so to speak. No way. I am a work in progress, and will be until the day I die.

The difference is that I have stepped deliberately upon the road that we call life. I am fully engaged.
roadgraphic
Let me qualify that last statement: I have always engaged fully in whatever I chose to do. The difference is that I no longer engage based on a desperate need for some kind of external approval or love or human affection (okay, well maybe a little).

I need people. I love the people in my life. I am a devoted friend and a loving family member as long as— Yes, there are conditions to my affection and devotion: do not ever try to manipulate me into doing or being something that I am not comfortable with doing or being. If you cannot accept me where I am and support me in my journey at least a little bit, just get out of my way.

This might sound harsh. Most of you probably know who you are and where you are going, or are content with your lives. I have never really been. And I suspect that even though I feel that my life has some clarity, I will look back twenty years from now and have a completely different point of view. Hindsight and all that, you know.

I know who I am today and am okay with it. I know what I love and I know what I despise. I do not hesitate to declare that which I despise as a part of the world that I will work very hard to keep outside of my inner being. This might sound critical, but it is part of my self-preservation, and necessary for me.

The part of this state of being that always needs balance is never thinking for a second that I have the world figured out and that others must conform to my world view. Never can I allow this to sneak in to my belief system. When I do I will become that which I hate: a self-righteous, manipulative, unloving person.

I have been each of those things at different times in my life, and I reject them as part of my foundation. They don’t belong and they are not welcome.

What does any of this have to do with parenting?

What does this have to do with parenting? Any woman who knows who she is and where she is going will be an amazing role model for her children. She will be (or should be) understanding of their need to go through the same process of finding themselves, allow for personal choices, encourage healthy exploration, and be open to being a part of the whole thing. That is what being a parent is all about.

Yes, it starts out with breastfeeding, bottles, diapers and nap times. It progresses through potty training, teaching colors and shapes, and learning to say “Please” and “Thank you.” It moves through time adjusting to the needs of each child as they grow and mature.

But it all goes back to parents knowing who they are and where they are going — not a selfish, self-absorbed knowing; not one that doesn’t consider the thoughts and feelings of his or her spouse and children; not a knowing that is self-righteous and dogmatic which drives others away — a knowing that allows those in his or her life to explore, discover and know who they are and where they are going.

Oh, and know that you are not God. No matter what you do or how well you parent them, your children will make mistakes and fail in life at some point, at some level. I have told many parents of teenagers, parents who were struggling with some really hard stuff, that, “We pour our lives into our children — love them like we have never loved before — and they grow up and break our hearts.”

Parenting is not for wussies!

This is the way of parents and children. Love them anyway. Pour your lives into them anyway. I can tell you after 35 years of parenting, it is worth it (I have had moments of doubt, though).

Just don’t forget to cultivate and value yourself as a person so that your entire identity isn’t based on who you are as a parent. You must be your own person, always. Women especially, please remember this. Be your own person so that one day when the children are all gone you emerge a whole person, one that you can live with as you move forward.

My daughter (who is an amazing mom) and youngest granddaughter.

My daughter (who is an amazing mom) and youngest granddaughter.

The First Day of School

Standard

I felt like a little kid yesterday. You remember the excitement when you know the summer is over and tomorrow is the first day of a new year of school. New school clothes, new school supplies, new teachers and most of all: new friends! Getting an education was a side effect of attending school as a child.

Bridge to New Life

Bridge to New Life

I pulled out my laptop case and the shoulder strap was missing. Oh my! Where is that strap? Wait, I think my 16 year old son borrowed it for his airsoft gun. Quick run to his room and a query: “Have you seen my laptop strap? It has metal clasps.” He shakes his head and we look around to make sure it isn’t in his closet. I check out his Yamaha keyboard case strap and it is similar but that isn’t mine. Okay, not finding it in there. I look in my closet (which is a scary place) and do not find it. Finally I just grab the strap from my son’s keyboard case to borrow until I find mine since he won’t need his this week.

I hook the strap to my case and get a little excited as I envision putting my school books inside with my laptop. One zipper to the left, the other to the right and it opens like a clam to reveal: the shoulder strap. Someone had taken it off and put it inside the case. I just had to laugh. So this was the beginning of my college career. So typical of my life.

I have been chronically ill for over six years after being infected with Lyme disease and bartonella. Those two infections (and probably other unidentified ones) destroyed my health until I was a blob on the couch most of the day. I would get up to pick kids up from school, drive myself to the doctor, take kids to the dentist and occasionally do a load of laundry, but my life pretty much came to a stop and stayed stopped for years.

After a year of long-term antibiotics I had a high-functioning chronic Lyme life. I was not confined to bed, though I had virtually no stamina to do much of anything. I could no longer design web sites, but I could make sandwiches and even cook the occasional meal as long as it wasn’t complicated because my brain just didn’t work well anymore. Then after a couple more years of exercising and changing my diet I have recovered even more to a point of some functionality. I can manage a household but cannot do the housework other than little bits here and there. I still can’t design a web site from scratch but I am relearning some code and graphic design. I have two blogs that I contribute to almost daily. So I got really brave and decided that I wanted to pursue my biggest dream: a college education. My goal is a doctorate. Yep, I am in my first year and I plan to pursue my doctorate. Why not?

Here I am, the day before I start classes, the day before my life changes forever, and I am giddy like a school kid, organizing my school supplies, making my schedule for the week, figuring when I need to leave home so I have plenty of time before my first class. What is very different is that I am going over my new schedule with my boys, over and over. I am explaining that I will not be home when they get off the bus. I won’t be able to pick up my 16 year old from school on Friday until 12:20 p.m. He will need to wait for me. I will try to have dinner made in the morning so we can pop it into the oven when I get home around 5 p.m.

Journey Begins

Journey Begins

This is way better than being in elementary school. Seriously. I was so excited about English Composition that I spent two hours reading the textbook yesterday afternoon. I like to look ahead so that I have an overview before class whenever possible. It gives my cognitively-challenged brain more to hook information onto. Then I got scared. This was going to be very challenging for me. I have spoiled myself: for 25 years I have read information and digested it any way I liked without anyone requiring me to do anything different. Don’t get me wrong: I am a thinker. But like most people I have my mind made up on most issues. I do love seeing other positions, reading and evaluating why they have that belief or hold that position. I do force myself to see issues from the perspective of others. But I still read most essays and immediately judge them based on my own value system and immediately justify my position before reading the conclusion of that essay. In English Composition someone will require that I do something different with that essay. And I will be forced to support my positions. Yep, this will be a challenge for me.

After reviewing what I needed to take and what I could leave at home –I won’t need that folder full of papers but I will need a copy of my schedule — I then realized that I really do need school supplies such as a calculator, a digital recorder, pencils and pens. I will get to shop for my own school supplies after decades of buying them for my children. Such a shift of focus: from my children to myself.

This journey is all about me. I am not the least bit ashamed to write those words. I have been a parent for 35 years. I am a grandparent now. I took care of my kids when I was really too sick to take care of myself. It is time for my dreams. And I am going for it. I am still giddy as a school kid this morning hours before I head out the door to my first class. I am excited and terrified. The journey begins: it is the first day of school.

Finding the Sky

Standard

After moving to Connecticut I quickly began to feel claustrophobic. It was an emotional and physical sense of claustrophobia. One hundred years ago Connecticut was 75% farmland. Today Connecticut is 75% forest. Don’t get me wrong; I love trees. I am a tree planter. I have even planted trees when I rented. I have planted flowers, shrubs, vegetable gardens and herbs wherever I’ve gone. I transformed our St. Petersburg home into a garden paradise front and back. But in Connecticut there are so many trees that the sky is mostly obscured. You drive Connecticut backroads and they are lined with trees. Even in the cities there are trees everywhere there aren’t buildings. You can spend an hour or two traversing trails in Connecticut state parks with the perceived goal of a breathtaking vista only to arrive at your destination to find the view once again obscured by trees, shrubs and vines. Connecticut is lush but its landscape is obscured by so much vegetation. It is difficult to see the sky from most locations.

165009_4653444827298_1331821115_n
So when I drive someplace and the landscape suddenly opens up it takes my breath away. My heart leaps for joy! I can suddenly see farther than a few feet ahead of me. I can see there is a big world out there.

Everyday life can be a lot like this: the big picture becomes obscured by the mundane, clamoring din of circumstances, responsibilities and events. We can end up paralyzed, frozen to a situation’s realities that we know should be different. But can they be different? Hemmed in by a dense forest of obstacles, roadblocks, and even foes we become resigned to circumstances and just allow the status quo to rule our lives. True friends will say, “Ahem, it doesn’t need to be that way.” If we have the strength or just a little bit of fight left in us we embark on the quest I call “Finding the Sky,” that place where we once again realize that there is a big, wide world out there completely different than what we are living, a world full of hope and promise.

We cannot push aside the obscuring forest. It is immovable. We must look for a different vantage point, one far above this limited view. It is an exhausting journey because we are assailed by depression, self-doubt and even naysayers. If we hear but do not embrace the lies of these dark forces we can make progress, a little each day. Then something miraculous happens. One day, as we are journeying along there it is: the big, limitless sky. The blinders of the forest are gone. We can see to the left. We can see to the right. Most importantly, we can see ahead a future full of light, full of hope, and full of life. We have found the sky.

biggersky