Sunday, December 18, 2016

Orphaned at Christmas

I felt as if my chest was being compressed and my throat was closing as I stood at my kitchen counter. It was physically painful to hold in the desperate sobs that so needed to be free.

I remember parts of that Christmas day clearly, even though it was eighteen years ago.

My children were ages eleven and eight. They had been through enough sadness and stress since the previous April. That was when their grandmother (my mom) had died from complications of cardiac arrest. It was important to me that they have a joyful Christmas.

We had already opened presents that morning and I was trying to get the food ready for dinner. But I felt that I couldn't breathe. The grief was so very heavy! It was tangible, almost like a large brick on my chest.

I had received a CD for Christmas that I'd requested. The artist wrote and performed a song about losing her mother.

I escaped to another room to listen to my very emotional song. As the music started,it felt as if that brick would crush me. As I slowly and reluctantly let go, the weight of it seemed to dissolve into my tears. All I could do was sob for awhile. There was just no more stifling my heartache at that point.

I'm rarely sad anymore about losing Mom. For many years, I've been able to dwell on mostly good memories. I know that anyone who has suffered a recent loss might find that hard to believe. There was a time I felt that I would always carry a burden of unbearable sorrow.

Yes, there are times when something triggers a painful thought or make me really miss my Momma. It's during those times that I want to tell her some things I've learned since she left. I want her to know that I now better understand some of her struggles. I wish I could ask her advice about some situations. I'd love it if she could see what wonderful adults my children turned out to be.

But today is a special day with a different set of Mom memories. December 17th is her birthday! Tears just came to the surface as I typed that. Obviously this brings up my emotions, but not melancholy ones. Sentimental, happy ones! Can sentimental and happy go together? Of course they can! There are no rules for this journey. Each of us had a uniquely special relationship with our loved one. We still do, even though that one is not physically present now. Whatever we feel is right for that moment.

Back to Mom's birthday...
When I was growing up, decorating the Christmas tree as part of her celebration. What merriment!
We usually popped popcorn to make chains for the tree. We didn't have a microwave then, so popping corn on the stovetop was an adventure in itself. We usually ate Christmas cookies and candy instead of birthday cake.

That tradition has always stayed with me. To this day, it feels too early to put up the tree before the 17th.

I realized something important as I was reminiscing just now! My mother made sure that her birthday celebration was fun and festive for us. Thank you so much for that Momma!

This story is dedicated to my many friends who have recently lost their mothers. A few have lost fathers.

The definition of orphan, according to a child who has lost both parents through death, or less commonly, one parent.

Losing my mother was one of my most profound life experiences.
My orphaned friends, I just want you to know that I hurt with you and for you this Christmas.
I know your heart is broken.

I realize that most of you have experienced loss before and understand some things about grief. But maybe someone needs these reminders...
There will be a day when the longing dreams of your parent won't happen so often. That confusing sense of panic will begin to fade, as will the uncomfortable numbness. The edgy anger won't always be so intense. You won't always feel alone in a crowded room of people. And yes, even the crushing waves of grief will eventually subside.

(Consider reaching out for help if you need to. I attended a grief support group and I'm so glad I did.)

One day, you'll be able to truly celebrate those special dates associated with your mother or father. Of course I can't promise you that will happen. But my prayer is that you'll prove me right.

Until then, give yourself the gifts of gentleness, patience and plenty of rest this year.
Merry Christmas dear ones. You are loved.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Dental Assistant or Dental Annoyance?

Who loves going to the dentist?? Please, there is no need for everyone to yell "I do!" at the same time.

Like most folks, I don't enjoy having dental work done. But I do like my dentist! I've been going to Dr. R for about twenty-five years. He does excellent work! He also has a calm demeanor and soothing voice. Those qualities are so helpful to nervous dental patients like me.

However, I remember a dental assistant he had about ten years ago who was anything but soothing. I'll call her Cathy for this story.

Cathy had a habit of conversing with the dentist about her personal life while he was working on patients. Well, maybe she only did it when he worked on me, but it happened more than once.

If she had just wanted to tattle on herself, that would've been one thing. (I do it all the time, except in this story, I'm tattling on her.) But she would mention people by their full name! I'll give you an example.

"Hey Doctor, I finally got an appointment to get my car fixed at Smith Automotive. Someone had recommended John Doe Car Repair, but I would never go there! My Dad knows John Doe and he is the biggest crook in town!"

As I was helplessly laying back in the chair,  I thought "I can't believe she said that! She doesn't know me personally. For all she knows, John Doe could be my uncle or my best buddy!" He wasn't, but it was the principle of the situation!

I remember the time when Overly-Chatty Cathy told the Doc about a movie she had watched the night before. It's funny to me now, but it wasn't when it happened!

I was having some major work done. My anxiety had started the night before.

The dentist had already given me some shots of Novocaine and Cathy had put the mask on me and started the Nitrous Oxide (laughing gas). As you might know, the effects of both drugs must be monitored because they can cause nausea and other problems.

So Cathy started describing the movie to Dr. R. It went something like this:
"My husband and I watched "Evil in the Valley" last night. Did you see it?  (No)  It was based on a true story about a college student who gets murdered by her stalker. "

Chatty Cathy interrupted herself to check on me. "Are you doing okay? Do you feel nauseous at all?" (I'm a little shaky but okay.)

She continued her story. "This guy stalked the woman for a year. Then he stabbed her 49 times. OMG, the murder scene was so realistic!! I've never seen so much blood!"

"Hey Mrs. Bauder, how are you feeling? Still doing alright?"
 My thoughts were "Really? How kind of you to ask! If I hadn't felt bad enough already, your gory movie scene is making me very queasy."
I held my hand up and said "Uh fee a ih ick" Which meant "I feel a little sick" (Doc R still had an instrument of torture in my mouth.)

He stopped working and said "Let's give you a break for a a couple of minutes and we'll turn down the laughing gas." Cathy adjusted the machine, then picked up where she left off, "And the stalker also slit her throat! It was a great movie but horrible! He got the death penalty."
Oh, she couldn't possibly have left her story unfinished, could she?

I never complained about Chatty Cathy's unprofessional comments and stories. I'm an easy-going person really. But looking back, I wonder if I should have said something.

I still had nervousness prior to my dental appointments after that. But I think it was dread of spending time stuck with Cathy as much as fear of the actual procedure!

A few months after that, she was no longer employed by Dr. R's office.

Well, I did receive a couple of positives from my experiences with her. Since I can be a chatty person myself sometimes, I was reminded that discretion is important! Who am I blabbing to, where and under what circumstances?
And I gained another story for my 'truth is stranger and funnier than fiction' file.

Thanks for reading. I think I've said quite enough now.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

How to Make a Turnip Beautiful

I believe that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So is turnipness. I'll explain.

I finally visited the big beauty store in our mall a few weeks ago. It opened about a year ago I think. They offer a wide variety of cosmetics, hair care products, fragrances, etc, and a full service salon too.

I usually shop discount chain stores for personal care items.  I use name brands but not anything very expensive.

But I decided that it would be worth it to invest in some high-quality concealer. This is because I use a glaucoma medication (eye drops) daily and I have for eighteen years. One of the side effects is that it darkens the skin pigment around the eyes.

I've always worked hard to conceal my purplish-red lids and under-eye circles. Other than glaucoma, I'm generally a healthy person! But believe me, without makeup, I look very tired and ill, maybe even like I'm on drugs. Well, I'm not on drugs but my eyes have been for many years!

I had eye surgeries last winter and as a result, I no longer have to wear thick glasses. This is just wonderfully amazing and I'm still adjusting to the change! But- my dark circles are more noticeable than ever, without my glasses to distract from them. The cheaper products just don't work well for my situation now.  Besides, who wants to feel self-conscious all the time?

So, when I told the nice saleswoman in the black lab coat my story, she was happy to help. She immediately brought a product for me to try. I sat in the salon chair and she applied it for me.

I must say, she is gooood! The very first thing she suggested worked. What a difference!
So I was quite pleased and ready to spend about fives times more money than usual for the high quality makemuck. (That's what my four year-old granddaughter calls makeup. Sounds right to me!)

Before I had the chance to jump up, the well-trained cosmetologist/mind-games expert said "I have another product for you to consider. It's a special cream for under-eye bags." (Bags? Do I have bags?!)  I told her no thanks, because bags aren't my bag (I mean my problem), just discoloration.
She lowered her voice and quickly added "But it's good for wrinkles too", as she gently touched the smile lines on the outer corner of my eye.  Oh Lady, you are smoooth. Definitely more so than the skin on my face.

While she was up-close-and-personal, she casually mentioned that I might like to have my eyebrows done by their excellent person. She warned me that it cost more than most places in town, but well-worth it! Their tech would wax my brows, then sell me a pencil so I could fill them back in. Umm, riiiight! What's the point?

I'm fine with my brows. When I start looking like a cave woman, I'm happy to let a student at one of the cosmetology schools do them for me. They get experience. I get a low cost but good brow shaping and my originals stay intact.

I politely told the overly-made-up but lovely esthetician "No thank you, not today."
I wanted to say something else, but I bit my fifty three year old tongue.

I wanted to inform her "Hey, I know what you were doing. I recognize your sales psychology. Yep, the "you are not attractive enough the way you are" trick and the "that's why you need to spend your money here" ploy. Yes, she made sure to point out my 'flaws' in an oh-so-subtle way.

Very tempting, it was, to proclaim "Listen, I'm older than you
and I didn't just fall off the turnip truck."

But that might have been a bad idea, because I think she is well-skilled in making women worry that they do resemble turnips. And Miss Prissy Pants has just the remedy for that! She even has a special camouflaging makemuck to cover up those bruises. You know, the ones you got when you fell off that turnip truck.

So girlfriends, my final thoughts to share are these:
Look in the mirror and appreciate what you see, the uniqueness that is you!
But if there is something that really bothers you, it's okay to do what you can with what you've got.
I believe that a balanced approach to these issues is the healthiest way.

You are the most important beholder of your own beauty. Especially your inner beauty!
Keep your amazingly attractive brain turned on and your emotional wits about you under pressure.
You are not a turnip and don't let anyone convince you otherwise.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Things that go Bump in the Night

Hey! Who enjoys watching funny sitcoms? I sure do.
I have another question. Who will admit to having moments in life that are scenes from funny sitcoms?
I sure will!
Laughter is great medicine. It can relieve stress and help you forget your troubles temporarily.

My life has been in transition. Not only did my husband and I move three months ago, but we've been tackling some stressful marriage issues, among other things.

My last post here was seven weeks ago. I can't continue calling myself a blogger if I don't post stories regularly. So now I'm back after a long break- this time with one of my titillating tattling stories. Okay, at least tattling. 

About a month ago, Hubby and I were awakened by a horrid, piercing, siren-type sound in the wee hours of the morning. It was a smoke detector!  But we hadn't put any up yet (bad, I know). We were running around in a panicky daze, looking and smelling for smoke. None. Then I knew we had to find the box of smoke detectors we'd taken down at the previous house.

He grabbed a mini-flashlight and was frantically rummaging around the kitchen and dining room, trying to follow the sound.

I turned on the dining room light.  My husband immediately ducked down and said "Turn it off! The neighbors can see!" (Yes, he was in his birthday suit.)  I yelled "They aren't going to be looking out their window at two a.m.!"
"They might!" he exclaimed. "The sound probably woke them up already!"

I was fairly certain I knew where the old detectors were. I wanted to turn the light back on to look for them. "I really don't care if anyone sees me!" I sassed, in my scantily-clad, frazzled condition.

I found the elusive box. He grabbed it and took it to the kitchen where he could hide from the windows.

"OH MAKE IT STOP!!" I screamed.

He located the guilty device with the malfunctioning battery. It took him several attempts to disconnect it. Whew, finally!

The positive thing about that adrenaline-boosting, five minute fiasco is that we were both laughing about it before we went back to bed.  A funny memory was made for us during a particularly difficult time.

It was a good reminder, I think, to lighten up and allow ourselves a break from the heavy stuff for awhile. We both needed that.

Several of my friends are very private people and would never talk of their personal lives publicly. I also know friends who tell all kinds of details about almost anything.

My stories usually fall somewhere between the two extremes.

I'm a writer. I write about what I'm learning from my life experiences. I'm honest, but without airing dirty laundry.
I'm not ashamed to say that my husband (of more than thirty years) and I have been struggling individually and as a couple. I mean, what relationship doesn't go through troubled waters? It's part of life.

The crazy, embarrassing, sitcom scenes are part of life too. So "Carpe' Diem", as I often say! Or seize the awkward humor of the moment if you possibly can.

Oh! I almost forgot to tell you what goes bump in the night.
I do!
Or I did, about a week after the smoke detector episode.

There were no siren-type sounds that time, and thankfully no real sirens either.
I was very fortunate, considering that I fell out of bed onto the hardwood floor. Yep. Right on my face.

I didn't get a concussion, just a black eye and a bruised upper lip area.
As it was healing, the upper lip bruise started looking like a little mustache on the right side.

I sort of wished it had been closer to the middle. Then I would've had a Hitler thing going on and that would have been funny!

Monday, September 12, 2016

It Could Have Been Me

"WHAT?  We can't use the air conditioner? Oh great. What a day for this to happen!"
I left it at that. I knew that whining wouldn't help the situation.  It was getting hotter by the hour on that mid-August day. And humid. My husband and I were on a road trip, two hours away from home.

Besides, my chauffeur was already getting stressed. No need for me to add to it. 

Turning the air conditioner off and sweating a little had to be better than the vehicle breaking down on the highway... 

We spent much of our time in nice cool places: restaurant, clothing stores, doctor's office. We didn't get too miserable while traveling to those destinations. Not only did we survive, but we even managed to enjoy ourselves a little. 

I was napping in my passenger seat while en route to the medical clinic. I was jolted awake when the car swerved sharply and suddenly. I opened my eyes to see a red truck almost on top of us, crossing the line into our lane! We avoided a collision, thank God, but it was a very close call! Oh my racing heart!!

We recovered from our near-wreck and made it to the medical appointment. About an hour later, we were headed home.  A few miles down the road, we encountered a traffic jam...

So while everyone else was waiting in their air conditioned vehicles, we turned our engine off and prayed for a breeze. The air was absolutely thick that day! We'd sit for five minutes or so, then we'd be able to move forward a few feet. Then we'd be stuck again for a while. You know the routine.

This traffic jam was in an unusual location and at an untypical time of day. The cars were lined up for about a mile ahead of us, and at first we didn't know what was going on. After twenty minutes of snail-paced creeping and stopping, we saw the reason for our delay.

A chopper was hovering above the highway. It appeared to be up where the long line of cars began. We suddenly realized it was a life flight chopper from the hospital in our city. It would go down low, almost out of our sight, then it would rise again. The pilot was trying to land it to pick up victims of an accident!

Even though I'd been in pretty good spirits all day, I was on the verge of losing my patience. I was beginning to feel a little sickly from the heat too. But then I thought about the significance of that chopper hovering there. It meant there was at least one person who was in critical condition.

Less than two hours before that, I'd awakened to see a truck headed right toward my car door. He missed us by inches!  It then dawned on me- we could have been the people requiring an emergency flight to the hospital! I actually imagined myself bleeding and in pain, being strapped to a stretcher and loaded into the helicopter.

Why did something terrible happen to some unseen strangers that day and not to us?

There are no clear answers for that question. I just know that people are injured or killed in accidents all the time. But for some reason we escaped tragedy.

My true stories almost always include positive life lessons. Sometimes I fear that people will think I'm too Pollyanna-ish. No, that is not the case.

Believe me, I have a B.A. too often. You know, a bad attitude. On road trip day, my attitude happened to be great. Shortly after I had my profound realization about the accident, I knew I wanted to share it on my blog.

Today, a month later, writing this post is helping me recover a better perspective about life. I'd misplaced my perspective a couple of weeks ago due to a hurtful conflict with someone I love.

Just a few days ago, I admitted to myself that I was carrying anger and despair around with me. I blurted out loud "And I really don't even care."

That was the moment I knew I was in a bad place with my bad attitude.  I also knew that I'd better start caring again and lay that baggage down.

I'm reminded today that I am alive and well and I'm still here for a reason. Not that I always understand why things happen the way the do. But I know that reason is not to waste my days wallowing in negative muck and mire. No!

It's time to practice what I preach, even if I need to ask for help to do it. Today is a new day.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Jump in the Puddles

Carpe' Diem. Dance in the Rain. Life is too short to be anything but happy. Yeah, yeah...whatevah. 

I often refer to myself as a realistic optimist. I love positive quotes too! But I admit I'm a hypocrite at times. I say I believe all the "life's too short" stuff. The truth is: I don't always live it. 

But once in a while, I get a reminder to "Enjoy the little things, because one day you'll look back and realize they were the big things." 

We recently moved. Yep, in July. Hot, humid and hectic days! And somewhat emotional. The move symbolized the end of a very bittersweet chapter of our lives. 

My daughter and her two little girls came over for a visit one afternoon when we were almost finished. I welcomed the break from packing boxes. I'd been feeling overwhelmed. 

It was cloudy and much cooler than usual that day. It had been raining on and off. We enjoyed sitting on the back patio. 

My daughter went to pick up a pizza for us. She left her three year old with me. 
It started raining again, which made the small puddles near the swing even bigger. My granddaughter immediately started jumping in them! Muddy water all over light pink shorts. Oh well, that's what laundry stain remover is for. 

I found out later that she'd just had a bath too. Oh, Amma's in big trouble! (I'm Amma.)

My beautiful tot was giggling and splashing, rain dripping from her long curls. Everything else went away for a few minutes. Her joy was contagious! "Now THIS is how to appreciate the needed rain!" I thought. Perfect.  
Photo is from The Sun

A couple of days later, I got locked out of the house. Of course, this happened after I'd taken my purse and keys and phone inside. The door somehow got turned back to the locked position. (Door handles and I don't like each other. Have you read my previous stories?)

There was no way to get in, I checked. I was expecting my husband to be back sometime soon but I wasn't sure when. 

Fortunately, it was another unusually cool night for the height of summer. The sun was setting. There was a light breeze blowing. My kitty, Chub-Cat, sat on the front porch with me and rubbed against my hand, purring.

No phone, no computer, no noise except the cat's tiny, happy motor and an occasional car passing by. 
I sat in that quiet semi-darkness for about 45 minutes. 
Tranquility. Rejuvenating tranquility.
Now I'm planning to lock myself out of the house more often, and lock my phone in!

A wise woman once said to me "Sometimes it's good not to try, not to do, but just be." 

Just be. And find peace in that moment.  
The wise woman told me those words long before we all had internet. So now I would add "and unplug from technology for a while." 

There are days when we blow it. We focus on the urgent instead of the important. We stress over things we have no control over. We let that destructive habit steal our time. Name your own weaknesses.We all have something, don't we? 

When we do fall flat on our faces, let's forgive ourselves. If we are blessed to see another sunrise, we can determine to start fresh!

What sparks a flame of excitement in you? What brings a smile, or has the power to get you out of a rut? 
You might automatically come up with answers to those questions. But please be open to unexpected experiences. Don't disregard the little things. 
Especially the little things. 

Monday, July 11, 2016

Coffee Talks and Little White Lies

Is it ever justifiable to lie? I am a truthful person. Honestly I am!

I've been remembering a few little white lies I've told in my life and I still don't feel guilty.  Actually, I think I did the right thing!

A few years ago, I went to visit my brother.  He lived only thirty minutes away from me, and we managed to get together about once a month.

He offered me coffee when I arrived. He told me to just rest on the couch, while he fixed it up for me. He asked "You still drink it with sugar, right?" Yep. "And cream?"  Yes.

My gracious host brought my coffee, but started apologizing as he handed it to me. "I just used the last of the sugar. I don't think yours has enough in it."  I said "Oh, I'm sure it will be fine."

As I took my first sip, he was watching my face intently. He was sort of wincing as he waited for my reaction.

I tasted and said  "Oh it's fine. Don't worry."  But he was worried. "Are you sure? You don't have to drink it if it's yuck."  "It's okay!" I said. "Just sit down." (Bossy older sister giving orders.)

I lied.  It was so overly sweet, I could barely choke it down! Darrell preferred his coffee and tea with lots and lots and lots of sugar. Like syrup, I tell ya! At least to my taste buds.

Seriously now, was I going to criticize? He really wanted to fix me a perfect cuppa, and he already felt bad for running out of sugar.  I think my fib was well-justified!

If I could drink coffee with my Bub again, I'd be more than happy to take it gaggy-sweet!
I miss you Brother. You were the host with the most.

Today you've been gone from us for five years.  So much healing has happened in my heart since you passed and I'm grateful.

I've spent a lot of time being sad about your leaving, but today I smile. I smile on the inside especially because I know that's what you want for me.  Thank you for all the good times.
I think our coffee talks were some the best.

Sunday, July 3, 2016

I Love Lucy Moments

This is another true confessions story. Well, it's two-in-one really.
They are not suggestive nor inappropriate. However, they do involve a bathroom situation and taking my clothes off...

Lucy Ricardo got herself into all kinds of bumbling scenarios, as you know. Well, I happened to get myself into two such dilemmas in the last two days.

Yesterday, I was visiting my mother-in-law at the nursing home. It just so happened that we had a power outage on that end of town while I was there. So the nursing home was using emergency generators only for necessary medical equipment.

So of course, while I was there, I needed to use the restroom. No, I could not wait.
It was extremely dark in there when I closed the door. I managed to take care of my business, including hand washing, just by knowing the basic layout of the bathroom, and feeling my way around. I had only used that bathroom a couple of times previously.  I was feeling quite disoriented.
To make matters worse, when I was ready to go out, I could not get the door open!

The door had the lever kind of handle. I tried several times, lifting it up, pushing it down. It was locked tight!! After about four tries, I could feel myself starting to panic!
I really didn't want to cause a scene at the nursing home, but...

I finally figured it out- all by myself like a big girl! I was pulling instead of pushing. That's why it wouldn't open. Whew!

My second ridiculous predicament happened at home today while I was doing laundry. But again, it was one of those @%&#! lever door handles that caused my weird entrapment!

The washer/dryer are immediately to the right of our back 

I backed up to the door handle a bit too close. My belt loop got caught on the long, curved handle!    
Not only that, but the loop somehow got twisted tightly around it.
I was stuck!

Every time I moved, it twisted more. I was trying to loosen it behind my back. Nope! It was't budging! This was another time that I couldn't even see what I was doing. Oh joy.

I'll be honest now (I mean, I've already embarrassed myself anyway). I am 52 years old and I'm not a gymnast. But I had to do some tricky and agile maneuvers with my body to get out of those pants while attached tightly to the door by my belt loop.

Oww, I think I strained my back!!

You'll be relieved to know that I survived, my pants are intact and no one was here to witness my humiliating sit-com scene.

I don't know though, I've heard of some awkward real-life videos going viral!

Nah, Lucy is still much funnier. I'm just too honest and open for my own good.

(I wrote this in October 2015)

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Beating the Air

The text message I received triggered my outburst of  angry words and frustrated ramblings, then defeated sobs. All this because a friend simply asked "How's your mom doing?"

No, I am not a drama queen by nature nor do I indulge in tantrums on a regular basis. Being the overthinker, and part-time junior psychologist that I am, I think I understand what happened now. This was about an unknown storm that had been brewing inside of me that apparently needed to escape.

I do tend to hold things in and I've known for years that I am a delayed reaction person. Right or wrong, it's just how I deal with my stuff.

My life has been in transition for a few months. I'd been caregiver to my mother-in-law for several years, but she recently moved into a nursing home. It was something we hoped would never happen, but her medical problems made it necessary.  It was very difficult and sad.

I am very close to my Mom-in-law. For thirty years, she has called me the daughter she never had. It's very endearing!

She frequently told the medical staff at different places that I was her daughter. I would usually correct gently, to avoid confusion about our family relationships.
Many of them just assumed I was her daughter anyway.
No. Her son is my husband. We all have the same last name and he is not my brother.

Let  me get back to the terrible offense of my friend asking me how my mom was doing. She's not the only one who has phrased it that way, even though all my close friends know that my own mother died years ago. (Actually it was eighteen years ago this April 18th. It just so happens that I had my mini-crisis sometime between that date and Mother's Day.)

I texted my girlfriend back about Mom-in-law's health status. Then I blurted out to my husband "She asked me how my mom is doing! Well, since she's in heaven I assume she's doing very well!
Your Mom and  mine are two different people! Can't people understand that?
Just because my mother died does not mean that she never existed!! You know I love your mom dearly. She is one of my heroes, but no one can ever replace my mom!"

Oh, I was on a roll!  Don't stop me now...

"It's like everyone has forgotten that I had a mother!  I haven't forgotten! I think of her almost every day!!  And so much has happened that I want to tell her."
Then the sobs started. "And there's no one around anymore who knew her. No one to share my memories of her with..."

My tearful rant was like beating the air. Who or what was I angry at? No one had actually done anything offensive. On the contrary, my dear mother-in-law and my friends who inquired about her had been showing me love! And the fact is, I'd been missing both of my wonderful moms, in different ways.

But I guess grief  just doesn't fit in a neat and tidy box or on a schedule. Neither do our emotions. They can be so confusing and complicated. And exaggerated.

It just wasn't true that no one was left who remembered Mom.

I posted a photo of her on Facebook on the Friday before Mother's Day and left it up for several days. The responses I got were gifts- timely and so precious to me!
A few relatives, a couple of my childhood friends and some other dear people shared their sweet memories of my mother, and what she had meant to them.
I had posted the picture just because I wanted to honor her. I didn't have any particular expectations.

But I've learned that it's the unexpected triggers of turmoil that can be most difficult, and it's the surprise gifts from caring souls that can be the most healing.

Monday, May 30, 2016

The Price of Curious Rebellion

I have another life lesson story to share with you.  
This one is on the lighter side. Perhaps I'll reveal my darker secrets in that lurid expose' I plan to write someday...

This true story happened when I was about eight. I was staying at my Grandma's house, as I often did.    

I had taken one of her old-fashioned metal ice trays from the freezer.
I loved popping ice out of it, even though my little hands could barely pull the lever back. 

I am not sure what I was doing or what I said, but I do remember my grandmother's warning "Now be careful! Don't ever put your tongue or lips on that, because you will stick to it!!"

How did she know that I really wanted to lick that white frost off the side of the tray? Was she a mind reader?

You can predict what happened. I just had to find out for myself! Of course I waited until Grandma was on the other side of the house.

The next thing I knew, my tongue was stuck and I was stifling panicked sobs! I was almost hyperventilating, which caused my glasses to fog up. Not being able to see made matters worse! 

I tried to gently pull my tongue off, but it was glued to the metal! I decided to try some warm water. I can't remember details of my delicate tray removal method, but I know it wasn't delicate enough. There was some blood shed and a little piece of tongue skin frozen to the ice tray. Ah, the price I paid for curious rebellion! 

That scenario in my mind is still funny to me, although it was not humorous then.

The moral: I should respect the advice of those who have more experience than I do! Especially those who really care about my well-being. 
Oh yes, and Grandma knows all!

Monday, May 23, 2016

Second Pants-Chance

I was walking into the grocery story the other day, and happened to get right behind the cart-pusher guy doing his job. He had just wrangled a chain of carts from their metal cage.

You know, many carts linked together are very heavy! He was getting his OOOMPH going, for the needed momentum to push them the distance to the store entrance. Just as he puuussshhed them with all his might, his baggy saggy jeans fell down to his knees!

It was hard for him to stop the rolling carts with his pants restricting his movement. But stopped them he did, and then turned around to see if anyone was watching as he pulled his jeans up.

I was standing right behind him.  He turned red and laughed sheepishly, "Oh, sorry."

I said "Well, It's okay. I have a son who is a few years older than you. He went through the baggy jeans phase, but I don't think his ever actually fell off. Oh, and nice boxers." He just laughed again. I did too.

I added "You might remember a belt next time though, because some of your customers might not think it's funny." He agreed.

I think the young man was about seventeen. I hope he took my advice seriously, even though I gave it in a light-hearted way. I am an easy-going person and I didn't want to get the kid in trouble, but I did want to make him think. Work is just not the place for your butt crack jeans!

If it had been some other person standing behind him, they might have been highly offended and tattled to the manager.  But I say give him a friendly warning and another chance.  Maybe it's the Mom in me.

There are plenty of big issues that many offended people are ranting about. Frequently. 
In my opinion, this was a small issue.
And every seventeen year old boy-man needs a second pants-chance. Don'tcha think?

Friday, May 13, 2016

Seniors Rebel!

It's that time of year again...graduation!    

When you read my title, I'll bet you thought I was talking about us older folks being naughty. I am over fifty now so I am considered a senior citizen in some places.

No. I'm talking about high school Seniors, and I have a memory to share.

One morning in May of 1981 (my graduation year), the faculty and staff were having a meeting in the library before school started.

The library was situated in the middle of the building, the halls and classrooms formed a big square around it. It had double doors, the kind with big, open handles that pull open outwards. The entire front entrance was glass.

A few seniors realized that ALL the faculty and staff were in the library. Someone found a long board and stuck it through the door handles, which made it impossible to open them from the inside.

Totally gnarly!! We had imprisoned our teachers!

There was that unforgettable moment when our authorities realized that they were locked in! There they were, glaring out at us. 
By "us", I mean most of the student body, who had gathered around the front of the library by then.

We just looked back at them, laughing nervously. Alright, so now what do we do? We all just continued to stand there. A fun but awkward, exciting and slightly daunting prank was just sort of suspended in time.

The weird spell was soon broken.

One adult (a student teacher), happened to be "loose". He saved the day by letting all the school staff out of their glass cage. 

Oh, Mr. Goody-Two-Shoes just had to spoil our delightful rebellion! Our Senior takeover of the school lasted all of five minutes.   

It sure was fun while it lasted!

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Bleb, Blob and Blib

Let me tell you about how my friend Blob made me feel better recently. So did Blib! There were other caring angel-friends too.

This story is a closure to my last post. It's my final one for now about my eye surgeries and ongoing recovery. Please hang in there with me, because this is about so much more than medical problems.

I posted this on Facebook during the first week of April:
"Well Friends, I had another "first" yesterday since my eye surgeries. I was paying for my groceries at Walmart. The check-out young lady said "I don't mean to offend you but what is that thing in your eye?"  I explained that it's scar tissue from a recent eye surgery. Yes, my bleb shows. It will probably always show. I'm not too thrilled about that, but at least it has a funny name. Bleb. Things could be so much worse though."

Here are a couple of responses that made me laugh initially, then inspired deeper thoughts...
Friend One : "I just had a piece of my colon out.  Just in case we ever enter a room together, I'll name it Blob, so people can say "here comes Bleb and Blob"
Friend Two: "And even though I've had nothing taken out except my bank account, I will be Blib" 
There was a another cute comment from "Blob" about Blab and Blub not being far behind. Ha!

How did goofy names like Blob and Blib actually help me? It's true that I enjoy Dr. Suessish humor, but really- it's no small thing when a friend takes a moment to try to make you feel better.
A bigger deal yet is that my new buddy Blob just had colon surgery! And I happen to know that Blib had a very serious health scare last year.  Yep, potentially life-threatening problems.

I truly believe that timely encouragements aren't just coincidental. And the people who delivered them were my God-given helpers.

I wish I could list all my angels and how they assisted me, but here's a brief overview:

My husband, kids and a few local friends took great care of me, prayed for me, spent many hours driving me to and from my out-of-town doctor appointments. I couldn't have done this without them!

I had one special friend and one family member who patiently listened to me as I poured out my fears and frustrations. Both of them went through cancer scares during that time period!

Another friend has been very stressed in his job lately, but he sent me hilarious emails with uncanny timing! Always when I needed a laugh.

I got a needed reality check when a stage four cancer survivor reminded me that people endure things, but too many stay on the pity-pot too long. (Certainly not moi??) I sincerely thank you for saying that and for sharing your cancer story with me.

I want to share one more divine intervention!
On March 1, I received very bad news at my check-up: my December eye surgery had failed. My specialist wanted me to prepare for a 'last resort' procedure with a long recovery.

That was one of my toughest days! My emotions were somewhere between numb and panicked. I was angry too!

A couple of hours later, a woman who I rarely have contact with "just happened" to send me a message. She only knew a little about my recent medical situation. (And I hadn't told anyone yet about my frightening check-up that day.)

Mostly, she shared what she learned last year.  My forty-something friend had miraculously survived a serious heart attack. I'd known nothing about it.
She told me about her renewed faith and vision for her life plans. Gratefulness for her blessings. Her story left me in awe and so inspired me!

In conclusion, dear reader, please watch for those gifts to show up when you really need them. Train you heart and mind to pay attention. You'll be so blessed if you do!

This is a quote from my first post on this blog, posted November 8, 2015.
"While going through my crises (that's plural), I'd often receive a little light to get me through a dark day. Sometimes it was a song I'd hear. Other times it was a kind word from someone, at just the right time. Occasionally I'd read a story or a great quote."

Yep! Told ya so.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Pardon Me, but Your Bleb is Showing

I had an experience in the check-out line at Walmart last week. It brought up conflicting emotions. I should have been able to laugh it off. Well I did laugh a little, but I cried too.

I sensed that I was being watched as I got my bank card out of my wallet and swiped it in the little machine. When I looked up, the young cashier said "I don't mean to offend you, but what is that thing in your eye?"

I said "Oh, it's okay. That's scar tissue from a recent eye surgery." She asked if it would go away as the eye heals. Nope, it's not likely.

The thing she saw in my eye is not really scar tissue. It was just easier to say that than to explain that the raised white patch on the upper part of my iris is a filter for eye fluid. It's called a bleb. Then I would've needed to explain that I have advanced glaucoma in that eye.

I'd continue to tell her that I had a tiny valve implanted in that eye (left) on December 17th, because three previous surgeries and all meds have failed. This means I've permanently lost eighty percent of my vision in that eye.

I would have added that I had cataract removal/lens replacement done at the same time. Then I had a glaucoma stent and a cataract/lens surgery done to my right eye in February.

I didn't explain everything because there was a line of people waiting behind me. Besides, ain't nobody got time for that!

I drove the short distance home after that brief exchange with the curious cashier.  I started laughing as I told my husband about what had happened. By the end of my story,  I heard my voice crack as my confused emotions came to the surface. The tears flowed.
Why did such a small incident trigger such a response in me?

It took me a couple of days to figure it out. Hindsight is 20/20! Pun intended.

Now I'd like to go back to Walmart and explain some things to that innocent, eighteenish year-old young lady...

During my recovery, I had disturbing complications. My left eye turned in for several weeks. I feared that I'd be permanently cross-eyed! There was a short period of time that I thought my driving days were over. I wasn't ready to accept that! It freaked me out and made me sad.

My distance perception was really screwed up for a while too.
I'd bump into door frames and sometimes I'd miss when I tried to put food on my fork. Now that I'm finally better, it's kind of funny! When I remember those times, it's like watching myself in a sitcom.

This cartoon represents the lesson. It's okay to struggle and doubt.
But don't stay alone in a pit while doing it.  Not a good sign when the pit starts to feel comfortable.

The new lenses have corrected my extreme nearsightedness to almost 20/20 in my right eye. Wow! I can now see distance but not up close. This is the opposite of how I've viewed the world my entire life! It's a huge blessing, but not an easy adjustment.

I've been in full menopausal mode the last few months too. (TMI!) One of the many symptoms is foggy brain syndrome. So... I couldn't focus and I couldn't focus!

Well, Inquisitive Walmart Clerk, as much as I hate to admit it, driving to the store and being in public that day was a big deal to me. I was somewhat proud of myself because I just recently started feeling braver and getting out more.

You might think I am being too sensitive when I say that your comment sounded to me like "Hey Lady, you look a bit freakish." I know you didn't mean it that way.

You won't likely get why I fought the urge to go back to being a hermit after that happened. I've always been an active, outgoing person, but being in my home feels safer and more comfortable now. I guess that means I wasn't prepared for the emotional and mental recovery from all this. Maybe I'm not as big and bad as I thought I was.

I really don't want to hide out though. I am blessed to have precious family members and friends who care too much to let me do that.  I thank God for them! They deserve a blog post of their own- and I'll do that next time.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

To Post or not to Post

Hi Friends,
This is a "note to my readers" post instead of my typical storytelling.

In January of this year, I posted a three part story, which chronicled my vision problems, from early childhood to present. It was entitled "A Guinea Pig's Perspective".

Like many writers, I often work through my difficult issues by writing them down. I had just had an eye surgery a month before I wrote that story.  I knew at the time that I had a second surgery scheduled for the next month.

I realized a couple of weeks after I shared those posts that I'd missed the purpose of this blog.
It was very good for me to write it because it helped me, but I decided it was better to keep for my eyes only. It was more like a personal journal entry.

My medical situation is not something that applies to most of my readers or the general public.  And you busy people ain't got time for that!

However, I've since discovered a magazine that wants to publish non-fiction, personal medical experiences. My story might be a fit! We'll see.

Anyway, I pulled "A Guinea Pig's Perspective" from this blog. I will still refer to my glaucoma problems sometimes because its a chronic disease that affects my life daily. But I think I'm back on track now, which is to focus most on the life lessons.

So I hope you will find time for that! To read my stories, that is.

Many bloggers find that they improve their writing skills a lot through blogging, but they actually learn most about themselves in the process. How true for me too!

Thanks to all of you for your support! I wouldn't have reason to continue this blog if it weren't for you.


Wednesday, March 30, 2016

The Versatile Blogger's Award, Part Two- My Recommendations

Now, last but not least, I'm sharing links to fifteen blogs that I highly recommend. (My list is quite varied in topics and writing styles). Paying it forward is one of the VBA rules, but I'd be proud to share these blogs anyway.

These writers deserve more than a pretty green seal of approval- their work deserves to be read!

You can find out more about the Versatile Blogger's Award here:

Jovanhanna is a life strategist and mom with an amazing story. She's the founder of Positive Forward Movement.

Mz G is a writer, artist. musician and more. Her inspiring blog encourages women over fifty to "live an electrifying second half".

Harley King's Monday Morning Motivation will be valuable for your life every day, not just on Mondays!

Noreen invites her readers to join her and her hubby on their journey to fitness! It's fun reading for everyone, especially aiming at those over age fifty.

Peggi shares her touching "About Real Life" lesson-stories from the heart and from a Christian perspective.

Nancy is a personal development coach/inspirational speaker. The theme of her blog is "Follow your bliss. Choose to live your passion. Find your true north."

Merchandiser (Mark) has a very creative sense of humor! His funny twists on every day life situations will make you laugh!

Suzi T shares honest and very readable stories. She's an Australian mom, wife and teacher who is dealing with chronic illness. Courageous vulnerability!

Bob Craypoe has created a group of, umm...unique but not uncommon characters for his politically incorrect comic strip, The Punksters! Satirical silliness!

I consider Jeremy Crow to be one of my mentors. His blogging tips series and his support of my work has been very helpful. You'll find a variety of blogs on his site, written by him and several other talented contributors.

Traci's Daily Musings blog is "A Place of Empowerment" for your life and your faith!

Nelu is a wise young woman and wonderful blogger. Her life-questioning, practical posts cover topics such as self-esteem, judging others, integrity and empathy, to name a few.

My friend Blake is a deep-thinker with an artistic soul. He's an author and his blog covers many topics, from world religions to chronic illness to relationships. His life stories make me laugh and cry and THINK!

This is a new-to-me blog I discovered on Twitter: Enlightenment Daily (indeed!). Nathalie Herrman's posts are short, sweet and so encouraging!

Diane Reed always keeps it real, and so engaging! She shares stories and poetry that are "a soft place to fall" for her readers.

The Versatile Blogger's Award (Part One)

Hello! I have news to share! And links to wonderful blogs! And some facts about me that you might not know!

The news is that I was honored to receive The Versatile Blogger's Award from +Robert Fuller. He told me that he found my writing style engaging. Wow, that made my day!

Mr. Fuller is a social media marketing strategist. He has an amazing life story and a very thoughtful blog. In fact it's called Thoughtful Talk Blog.  His writing is so motivational and its focus is to help people make positive changes in every aspect of their lives!

One of  the VBA rules is that the recipient shares seven things about herself (or himself). Alrighty then, here is some Di trivia for you!

1. I've been married for over 30 years. Yes, I'm kind of old. He's even older! Ha.
2. I grew up in Roswell, New Mexico. Maybe I should get a different award: the Very Bizarre Alien!
3. I have two adult kids, a son and a daughter. (I'm a grandma now too, woo woo!) I just love being Mom, always have! Being "Amma" is very special too.
4. When I was in third grade, I wrote and illustrated a story about jungle animals who were attending their monkey-friend's birthday party.  My teacher liked it so much that she had me read it to a class of kindergartners.
5. My husband and I owned a bicycle store for six years. It was a family business. Our children, who were teenagers then, helped a lot. What a great experience!
6. Youth ministry was a big part of my life for many years. I taught kids from nursery through high school. I had wonderful experiences and sometimes I miss those days.
7. I am currently learning how to be a successful freelance author. I've jumped right in! One of my stories was published last year. I'm waiting to hear about two stories I've submitted recently and I've got two more in the works.

I see a lot of food for future blog stories in my list!

There is one more part of this recognition that I must fulfill! It is presenting the VBA to fifteen other bloggers. Please go to my next blog post for my list. This Part One is mostly about me. Part Two is all about THEM!

Another reason Part Two is it's own story is because I'm trying to keep my posts short.

I've noticed that many people run away quick when they see something that will take them more than three minutes to read. Especially on a blog.

See, I've been observing my reader's behaviors and preferences! I'm constantly learning. Is there an award for that?

Onward to VBA Part Two please...

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

My Inner Lion

I need to get in touch with my inner lion.
I think I located my inner owl a few days ago.

No, this isn't about animal spirit guides. I've just been lacking courage and even wisdom at times, regarding my writing.

The past couple of weeks have been rough for several reasons. During that time, I posted a story that was important to me.

A couple of days later, I re-read it. I saw so many mistakes! Not typos. I mean entire paragraphs that were out of order, wrong wording, etc.
I realized that I'd foolishly rushed the editing process to stay on my posting-once-a-week schedule.

I reworked the story and posted a better version of it, but that didn't stop my confidence from taking a nosedive. I came very close to deleting my entire blog.

While I was in the midst of my writer's despair, two people on two different sites praised my stories and writing style. So unexpected and very timely!

I used the word despair, not because I'm being a drama queen, but because this is about pursuing my dreams! The looming doubts that sometimes whisper "Accept it, you're just not good at this!" can make the dreams feel like nightmares.

Writing for an audience is often risky, tricky and icky! I think it's because we writers put a piece of ourselves out there with every story we publish. We hope that someone will like our work and gain something from it. We also realize that it won't be everyone's cup o'tea. Many of our posts are ignored almost completely. That can't be good.

There is a popular social push now to just be yourself and to "not care what anyone thinks". I'll agree that confidence can be wonderful and being overly self-conscious is defeating. But I think most people truly want to succeed and to be liked. Is there a healthy, balanced approach between not caring at all and caring too much? I think so!

When I submit my work to publishers, which I've done and plan to continue, I'd better care what they think! It's not all about me.

I consider myself a student of writing and blogging, even as I'm taking the plunge into it! I am still trying to understand how this vast ocean of internet/social media works. There is so much information out there. It's overwhelming at times!

Some of my mentors have confessed openly to fighting battles similar to mine. It's just part of the process for everyone who tries something new. I so needed that reminder!

Shared stories on any topic are just empty words when there's no passion behind them.  As my introduction to this blog states, I want to share what I learn with others. That's what my heart told me to do.

But recently my inner owl of wisdom revealed to me that it's better not to share some experiences. Those are the ones that should be written just for me (and maybe for my children and grandchildren to read someday).

I haven't been completely true to myself for quite awhile because I gave up my personal journaling. It's something that I'd done since I was age nine and it's a form of self therapy.  I know it's time to renew it.

That owl also reminded me to take another look at my blog numbers: which posts my readers have liked the most. Stats are a biggie; very revealing!

The courageous lion in me is now willing to try again after my mini-crisis.
I'm planning to submit stories to three different publications soon.
I'm going for it, Baybee!
True Confessions of an Overthinker isn't going away yet either. I'm even going to press the PUBLISH button on these ramblings now...

                                                      This video clip is 43 seconds long

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Moments in Time (Healing from Loss)

Have you ever been in a potato relay race?
The participants have to carry a potato from point A to point B, between their knees.
Sounds awkward, doesn't it? Believe me, it looks even more awkward than it sounds...people trying to run with a tater positioned there, without dropping it. HA!
That's what makes it soooo funny!

The potato relay race became a tradition at our birthday parties when I was growing up. I say "our" parties, I mean my younger brother's and mine.

I was born on February 19 and Darrell's birthday was February 28, three years later. Since the dates were so close together, and we had mutual friends, our parents would usually have one party for both of us.

Our birth dates just passed recently. I've been thinking about those fun parties, that goofy race we always had, and many other smile-worthy times that we shared.

Birthdays are meant to celebrate a person's life, right? So I did that this year for my bub and as a birthday gift to myself.  I'm still in remembrance mode today. That's one reason I'm sharing a couple of my favorite moments in time with you.

This year Darrell would have been the big 5-0. He passed away in 2011.
It feels so good to be able to enjoy the happy memories now, more than feeling the pain of losing him. There was a period of time that all I could do was think "This shouldn't have happened!"
It seemed so big to me, at times I felt that I'd never recover from it.

I can usually think of him and our great times together without crying now. I've recently discovered, though, that I can't always tell the stories out loud, without my voice cracking with emotion.
Weird, huh? It's not really sadness, just emotion. Does anyone understand that?

I've lost more than one person I loved, just like many of you have. I've learned that there is a balanced approach to working through grief.

There is a time to be depressed, angry, numb...all the stages of grieving that you've probably read about. Each stage is real and common to people suffering the loss of someone they loved. But they don't necessarily come in order, or in tidy packages. Sometimes we experiences many emotions all at once! Grief is a confusing, sometimes frightening, often uphill journey.  But it's always a learning one.

It's also important to take the time to dwell on the good things about the person's life, your unique relationship, and to truly enjoy the special memories. Doing those things can really help to heal a broken heart; it's helped me! I've finally made it to the acceptance phase of grieving.

I read a quote once that has been so true for me. "You cannot go over, under or around grief, you must go through it."

Please click the link, and be sure to scroll down to see the entire article.

Before I close, let me share another one of my favorite memories.
I was twenty-one and Darrell was eighteen.  It was my going-away party. I was getting ready to attend college in another city.
I was opening my gifts, and someone snapped a pic the second after Darrell had whispered something just-too-funny in my ear! I don't even remember exactly what he said, but I don't think I could have repeated it out loud anyway.

Look at his face! Typical teenage little brother. "WHAT? Wasn't me!"
I just love that photo, not only because of that great moment, but also because it's typical of our relationship. We made each other laugh...a lot! Like no one else could.
It's a cliche' saying, but so true to me-"Sometimes it's the little things that take up the biggest spaces in our hearts."

I'm not a professional counselor or therapist.
Heck, I'm not even a professional writer, but I am trying to get there.
I'm just a person who believes that our most difficult life experiences are not in vain if we can learn something valuable from them.  Especially if those lessons can benefit someone else, even in a small way.

If you are feeling devastated because of a loss, please believe that a better time is ahead of you.
I also encourage you to reach out for help. I did and it was well worth it.

Thank you for taking the time to read my celebration/grief story.

#grief  #stagesofgrief   #emotionalhealing