Monthly Archives: May 2014

Inner Strength

“I want to thank you, Lord, for life and all that’s in it. Thank you for the day and for the hour, and the minute. ”-Maya Angelou

Today the world lost a beautiful and resilient soul, who not only survived the worst kinds of struggle and turmoil in her life, but overcame it all to flourish in the arts and inspire others with her heart-felt words of wisdom and faith. I remember reading about Maya Angelou in high school, and studying her work throughout college. What always struck me about her writing was that no matter what her readers had encountered in their own lives, her words resonated in such a way that simply by reading her, our eyes and hearts opened up to something intangible, enlightening, and strengthening. She was one of those rare artists that made me feel as though God was using her as an instrument, or a lesson in faith, that he was speaking through her. God only speaks through an open door, and into an open heart. That takes the utmost courage, especially for those who have been so jaded by others. To not become bitter and cynical in the face of adversity is strength enough, but to transcend pain and raise others while working through such challenges, is nothing less than awe-inspiring. She had an appreciation for life, a gratitude for time, and a love of joy that forces the rest of us to reflect.  After all, someone is always experiencing something more difficult and rising up in spite of the pain, and sometimes because of it. What makes the difference between the one who rises, and the one who falls is quite simply…Faith.

 

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Orbiting Onlies

What happens when two onlies date? Studies show that it’s not a good idea. How could two ‘onlies’ be compatible, afterall, when we’re so self-absorbed and self-reliant? How could two people raised in separate families where they didn’t have to compete for attention, didn’t have to share their toys with anyone, didn’t have to share their rooms or beds with anyone learn to get along with each other? Sounds logical enough, but only if you also subscribe to the idea that only children will never marry, will never actively participate in a successful relationship with anyone. Period.

In my experience, other only children truly ‘get’ me in a way that others do not. I’m a sharer to a fault, and maybe  because I’m told by the world that I’m not supposed to be. I have an incredible relationship with a man that is also an only, and is exactly the same way. He is thoughtful beyond anyone I’ve ever known. My best friend is also an only. She has become like a ‘soul sister’ to me in our sixteen year friendship. There is  nothing she can say or do that will change that. We’ve been through our hard times only to learn that nothing can penetrate our bond.  Over the years, I have built relationships with other onlies who I have also had the pleasure of getting to know, and truthfully, I’ve never felt quite as accepted as I have with other only children.

My boyfriend and I have known each other for 20 years, but only have grown to truly know each other for the past two. We spent that time in other relationships, while at the same time building our own friendship based on an understanding that we had this one huge thing in common. As onlies, we have discussed the possibility of starting an ‘only’ support group because we have felt misunderstood at times, and everyone needs a place of refuge. When people have siblings, they have someone that shares memories of their childhood from a perspective very different from that of our parents, whereas as onlies we ‘only’ have our parents with which to share those stories.

My mom was my best friend for many years before her passing last year. She and my stepdad were my world outside of my two sons. I took solace in them when the world seemed to sit squarely on my shoulders. I always knew they had my back, and I could relate to them as well as confide. Now, as an ‘orphan’ I have felt lost at times. No one on the planet remembers my whole life anymore, which makes me feel a little more lonely than I did. So having other onlies that I’m already close to makes the loneliness a little less pronounced, because of one beautiful word: Acceptance.

When I become weird, which I often do, about things like numbers, dates, emotional triggers, I don’t worry about whether or not I will be patronized or that my concerns will be belittled. In reality, I have a huge family of other onlies that share in my struggles and relate to my challenges. I have a built-in support group quite similar to what siblings have. All that I have to do is keep the lines of communication open enough to receive that support. And really, isn’t that all any of us needs to do?

This world can feel lonely, whether we’re onlies or not. All it truly takes is a little bit of trust and sharing to find that none of us are lonely after all.

When I grow up I want to be young

The grass isn’t the only thing that’s always greener on the other side. It’s true with age stuff too. How many times do you hear a preschooler ask for a nap? Probably about as often as a preschooler turns down candy. Yet if I had time to nap every day, I would carry a nap mat around like it were my purse so that any time I had 10 or 20 minutes of pause, I could close my eyes & catch a snooze.

Another case in point is demeanor. When we’re in middle school and high school, the more quiet, pouty and mysterious you act, the cooler you are. Whereas, at 37, I tend to favor the opposite kinds of people. Basically, the more transparent, ‘real’, and positive you are, the more I gravitate toward you. At this point in life, I’ve had more mystery than I can solve, and while experience has taught me loads of valuable lessons, I choose to learn from life rather than from people trying to manipulate me.

So many of my friends in high school had fake IDs so that they could get into clubs, buy smokes, or just pose as ‘older and cooler’ in general…because to be older WAS to be cooler. Now, not so much. If I get carded for beer, I am elated. I talk about it for weeks on end, and go back to the same cashier numerous times just to see if she ever catches on to my little fantasy.

Being classified as a ‘nerd’ when I was in high school was just about as low as one could fall in the social cliche hierarchy culture of my generation. The movie Can’t Buy Me Love wasn’t very far from reality. Nerds were happy, yes. But happy was bad. Hence the whole ‘mystery’ thing (see above).  If we had only looked into the future and seen that ‘nerds’ would end up ‘ruling the world’ just as our parents had predicted!

Which brings me to one of the biggest wrinkles are greener comparisons…(what?); parents. Will Smith of ‘Fresh Prince’ told us that Parents Just Don’t Understand. The Beastie Boys taught us that parents were nothing more than party poopers. What they didn’t tell us was that our parents were the smartest people on the planet, and these people should be revered, respected, admired, and above everything else  LISTENED TO!!! I for one, especially recognized this after becoming a mom myself. She told me to nap when my baby napped. Check! She said ‘the more calm you remain during your child’s fits, the quicker he will calm down’. Check! She said so many things that were spot on, and that’s because she had already been there, done that. I mean, my mom also said ‘eat your veggies’, to which I turned up my nose and acted as if I were gagging. Veggies weren’t cool. Chocolate was cool.

At 37, veggies are indeed cool. The more healthy we eat, the more purely we nourish our bodies, the cooler we are. It’s amazing, and it’s just like our parents predicted. Or did they? Weren’t they really just giving us the gift of their own experience?

The thing about experience is that it absolutely cannot be borrowed, shared, or re-gifted – not effectively anyway. If we do not experience the pain or emotion involved in the ‘learning’, the lesson is just…well, a textbook – which is the same as saying that we get our definitions from a dictionary, when it’s really Wikipedia. Or saying that  we need to search the phone book, when really Google already knows everything with just the click of a button.

So we should think of our parents as Google, and think of age as a search engine. The older we grow the uglier we become. At least most of us do. With wrinkles in the skin comes also facets in the brain; experiences that become knowledge; lessons that become wisdom – until we become our parents.

The grass is not only greener on the older side, it also has more weeds, which also means more possiblities of finding a four leaf clover. Take it for what it is. Take it for what it is not. Growth is as green as we need it to be. Age is simply power; plain, simple, and infinite.

 

 

What’s Under Where?

Six year olds. They’re funny little creatures, constantly dabbling in the humor pool even though they can’t yet swim in the deep. Mine came home with a real side-splitter today. He said, ‘Mom what’s under there?’. I mindlessly answered, ‘What’s under where?’, to which he could barely articulate his punch line through the belly laughs… ‘UNDERWEAR!!!’.

Of course, I responded in the typical parental way. I mustered a chuckle & rolled my eyes unenthusiastically. It may have been humorous had I not been (at the same exact time of his telling) running a chicken race, from stove & oven, to grill, to dryer, to pulling the dog out of the trash again & cleaning up wrapper trails strategically strewn through the house. Ahhhh. At least we all ate a good well balanced dinner; all three people and one victorious Hayley dog with an olive oil glued green bean beard. Hey, all girls need accessories!

This is a typical day, with typical humor, typical dog behavior, and typical mommy eye rolls. Yesterday was not. Yesterday was one of those grumpy days that we all have, but no one wants to admit to having, especially when we’re on a pursuit of happiness. Whether we admit to them or not, however, they’re bound to happen. I’ve posted before about changing our thoughts, or the wording of our thoughts, so that we feel the hopefulness instead of the hopelessness of a situation. Today, I’m back to agreeing with that strategy. Yesterday, there was absolutely no jumping over the hurdle of negativity to get there. It was simply too high, and only one thing can explain such insurmount-ability; the wrong side of the bed.

That’s what’s under there. Under where? Under the bed. That’s where my thankfuls landed yesterday. I write five of them before touching the first foot to the ground each day. Usually, I carry them with me along with all the other baggage. Yesterday, I must have dropped them.

At least I remembered my underwear. For that I am both thankful and humored, which is where my six year old finally rolls his eyes.