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Come Ye Thankful People, Come November 25, 2008

Posted by phoenixhopes in Holidays, Thankfulness.
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It’s the night before the night before Thanksgiving and I’m cooking and cleaning and packing and trying to get too much done. It all adds up to one cranky momma and the first inklings of a pity party. I tend to be a “glass one quarter empty” kindof person. I’m not a true pessimist and I can see the positive side, but I have to work at it. I’m much more likely to say “that’s pretty good, but….” than “Wow! That’s great!”.

So there I was, cleaning the disgusting food out of the fridge (it took some serious thinking to figure out that the “moldy brain” I found was really the scraps of pie crust that got shoved to the back and forgotten), and it occurred to me that I really have nothing to complain about. Yeah, my life isn’t perfect, but oh well. It’s too easy to notice the annoyances and stop there. As I took out the trash I started making a list:

– It’s 27 degrees outside but the wind’s not blowing and I have a coat that keeps me toasty warm.

– Remnants of that inch of snow I woke up yesterday morning are still lingering but I have boots that keep my feet warm (even in the mornings waiting in the cold at the train station)

– No one else is home and the house was just too quiet. The only company available was the TV but when I turned it on the Charlie Brown Thanksgiving special was on. Oh I love that show!

– I have a three hour drive ahead of me tomorrow in what could potentially be awful, holiday traffic but I filled up the gas tank for $1.67/ gallon (and I can probably convince my son to do some of the driving).

– I’ve got to pack and hope I remember to bring the right games but my children are all looking forward to some time laughing and playing games and generally enjoying each other.

– There is a lot of cooking ahead of me in the next few days and I’ll be doing it in a small, unfamiliar kitchen but this is all food my family loves and looks forward to each year.

– If I remember to bring my camera and the batteries don’t die on me (and if they do, that’s what stores are for!) then I’ll take lots of pictures to help us remember the time together.

– I have food to eat and enough to share, a warm bed to sleep in and doors that lock at night.

Like I said above, my life is far from perfect but it’s also far from awful. I need to remind myself of that more often. Please, leave a comment sharing some annoyance in your life that reminds you how thankful you really are.

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Learning to live alone November 22, 2008

Posted by phoenixhopes in motherhood, thoughts.
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For most of my life I have not ever been really alone. Sometimes it looked like I was alone, but it was an illusion. The children were sleeping and the house was quiet, but my mind was occupied with thoughts of laundry or doctor visits or next weeks’ activities. Even when my family wasn’t physically with me, they filled my conscious thoughts and plans.

In the midst of all this, I often found time to feed my creative side. Reading late at night (or even sometimes all day), cross-stitch or other handwork projects while waiting for music lessons to end, learning alongside my children in our homeschooling adventure. But the time was always carved out and I was never fully alone. Instead, during those times, my life was temporarly paused.

This is not to say that I never felt lonely. Cliche I know, but “alone” and “lonely”, although they may (or may not) occur at the same time, are not the same. It is also possible to feel bone aching lonliness surrounded by others or lying in bed next to the one you have promised ’till death do you part’.

Then came the Year of Changes. A tsunami hit and nothing was recognizable. The marriage was officially over. I was a shell of a mother, functioning on auto-pilot (and not very well at that). Our address changed and then changed again. The younger boys entered public school. The oldest spread his wings and moved away from my nest. I learned to spend my days working in a corporate office. For the most part, whether I was physically alone or not, the only thing I felt was numb and the most creative activity I could think of was sleep.

Gradually, in fits and spurts, we all started to heal. The kids have grown and more have sprouted wings. Most of the time older children do not require the same sort of intense mothering that toddlers and pre-teens do. They spend more time away from home and, although one never really stops thinking of them, worrying on occasion, wondering often what they’re up to, they no longer fill every corner of my thoughts. My plans no longer center solely on their needs and schedule.

If we’ve done your job right as a parent, children are supposed to grow up and become independent. Oh, they never stop needing us, but how they need changes.  While there was once a day when we planned their every waking moment, now they make plans without even consulting us. Although it is right and good and The Way Life Should Be, as the children grow, you find yourself spending time alone.

2008 has been the year that I have learned to live alone. Three out of my four children no longer live at home full time and the fourth often spends days at a time away. I spent New Years, the Fourth of July and my birthday alone. I had the apartment totally to myself for weeks at a time. And mostly, I’ve liked it.

There certainly are days when that bone chilling lonliness attaches itself like a leech on my soul, but those days are much fewer and farther between. Instead I’ve learned to appreciate the silence, to listen and begin to remember who I am.  This has been a year of restoration, a time to let the me that has been hidden for so long to begin to bud and bloom.

I wonder what my parents would think of the election November 2, 2008

Posted by phoenixhopes in thoughts.
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My mother died in 1974 and my father in 1986 but I wonder what they would think of this election. Voting was important in my family. One of my earliest memories is going to the polls with my mother when I was about 3 or 4. I remeber walking across the street and down the block to a house I hadn’t visited before. I don’t remember many details, but I do know that it was a very important occasion.

In Seventh Grade I remember my History teacher, Mrs. Monticello, asking the class who was Republican and who was Democrat. Then she said something that has stuck with me ever since. I don’t recall the exact words but I remember that she told us we were wrong. That until we were old enough to vote, we weren’t either. We may be identifying with what how our parents aligned themselves, but it wasn’t yet our choice. I think it could be argued that Seventh Grade is not too early to have a thought out opinion, but for the most part she was right. Almost 40 years later and I’m still trying to figure out what I am politically.

My older brother challeneged my parent’s Republican ideology by protesting against Vietnam and for Civil Rights. I was too young (and sheltered) to know how politically active he may have been at the time, but I do remember one story. David was a gifted musician and earned some money as a church organist. One year in the late 60’s/ early 70’s he was fired becasue on his musical choices. On Civil Rights Sunday he choose to play “We Shall Overcome” for the offertory. I guess that even California wasn’t as open as it could have been at the time.

In a few days we will elect either the first African American President or the first woman Vice President. My parents were born only a few years after women were granted the right to vote. I wonder what my parents would think of this historic election. I wonder what political discussions we may have had if my parents had lived into my adulthood. Who would they choose to vote for? What issues would they feel were most important?

How will my children remember my political views? Do they know what I really think, who I support and why?

Hello, it’s me. I’m still here November 1, 2008

Posted by phoenixhopes in thoughts.
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It’s been quiet here in my little corner of the blogosphere and that’s about to change. I’ve been doing a fair bit of thinking about what this blog means to me and how I want to portray myself to the world. Of course, “the world” in this case means the handful of you that are even aware that this blog exists and the even smaller handful that might read it occasionally.

One of the first rules of writing is to know your audience. Who am I writing for? Who do I think might find it interesting or relevant or even amusing? At the risk of sounding selfish or narcissistic, I write for myself. I write to clear my head, to put to paper (or computer) bits and pieces of the thoughts and emotions rolling around in my brain. I want to believe that something I’ve written may strike a chord with those who may read it and that is what I choose to publish here.

I struggle with the desire to become transparent and the opposite desire to remain anonymous. I want to ask the important questions and share my journey towards answers. I want to share my struggles, worries, joys. I want to write the kinds of things that I like to read. I want to be real.

At the same time, I want to remain hidden. It is important that I keep a certain amount of anonymity. I am careful not to use my full name or my children’s names. Any ‘real life’ friends that know about this blog will know because I shared it with them, not because they googled my name. (Besides, how arrogant is it to think that people I know are so curious about me to take the time to google.)

I know that I’ve missed writing and I have more I want to share.