I am finally feeling back to normal after about a week of being “weird”. I suppose I’m “weird” every day, but for the past week I just felt funky. Perhaps it was hormonal, perhaps it was turning 46, or maybe it was that Mr Dreamboat was out of town all week and we couldn’t get a break in the clouds to save our lives. The Northwest can be so dark sometimes.
It turns out 46 suits me just fine and Mr D is back in town and the sun is shining. All is well. I want you to go out and enjoy your day. I know that’s what I’m going to do with mine so I give you just a few things:
- I like garage sales. I don’t know if I’ll get to any today, but I love them. I come from a long and prestigious line of “junkers”.
- Remember when we only had cartoons on Saturday morning and you prayed your mom wouldn’t start making you do chores before they were over? Good times…
- I love Saturday morning chores and Saturday afternoon freedom.
- Saturday Market in Portland, Oregon is a perfect place for artists, foodies and weirdos. It’s like my Mother Ship.
- Date night. Even if you went out on Friday, Saturday is a great time to go again.
- I love the lack of a schedule on Saturdays. I love to sleep in and eat breakfast late, well, now that there’s not a strict cartoon schedule to keep.
- Having grown up in a religion where we (try to) strictly observe Sunday as the Sabbath, I love the feeling that we need to get everything prepared for tomorrow. Remember to pick up your dry cleaning today!
- It’s probably me looking for confirmation of what I personally feel, but it seems like everyone is a lot more relaxed on Saturdays. Except police officers.
- As a kid, I loved staying up late and watching Saturday Night Live. I should do that tonight. I shouldn’t have any problem staying up late since I slept in today.
- I love Saturdays because they’re like a miscellaneous pick up day. All the things we didn’t have time for on our regularly scheduled program can be addressed and completed on this day of possibility.
Yesterday was my first real babysitting gig with my adorable grandson. I really feel like I nailed it. I have a call back for this afternoon. I’m perfect for this part!
The first part of our day together went well. There was shopping. There were bottles and him cooing. His Uncle Chase fed him while I made dinner and Pierson sat at the table while the two of us chatted. Pierson chimed in at all the right parts.
It was while I was cleaning the kitchen and Chase went out to feed the animals when things got pretty dicy. I could hear Chase yelling and when I looked down at the barn I could see one of our Tennessee Walkers was stuck in the fence.
I put Pierson in his car seat and while he and Chase stayed safely on the other side of the fence, I tried to free the horse, whose hoof was caught in the wire. My Leatherman was too whimpy to do it. So I ran to the first barn to find the bolt cutters. I ran to the second barn to find the bolt cutters. I went to the house and got better wire cutters.
Round two. No cigar. No freed horse. Baby is getting a little cranky.
I called Aaron and asked where the bolt cutters might be. I ran back to the barn that was farthest away. Still no cutters. I then went up to a closet by the garage. Boom! Cutters.
When I finally Got Rucker cut away, Pierson’s not as excited about the great outdoors anymore. “Enough is enough, YaYa.” But Chase had things under control.
But there was more to be done since the horse had wire between his shoe and his hoof. That can’t feel good.
I went back to the closest barn and here’s where I made my rookie mistake. I left the barn door open and Sheila (I did not name this horse) follows me in, knowing I’m going for grain. The barn has a concrete floor and Sheila’s down before I can say to myself, “Woman, you were not made for country life!” But wait, she’s up! No! She’s down again. And again. And Rucker is now in the barn with us, sliding around like a 10 year old on a frozen pond. Only not having fun.
Unbeknownst to me, Chase can hear things are going poorly, but isn’t willing to bring the baby anywhere near the action. Brilliant Uncle!
I was finally able to get Rucker in a stall and Sheila and I had a very delicate dance getting her onto safer ground as well. I gave both of them some grain and prescribed Ibuprofen and an epsom salts bath for her. Rucker let me work the wire out while he noshed on grain.
When I emerged from the barn I looked like hell in a handbag. The clothes I’d thrown on in an effort to get out there quickly were less than flattering. You might even call them “fatter-ing”. I’d put on a grey t-shirt that was now drenched in sweat. My hair was plastered around my face and frizzy and standing up everywhere else.
Pierson was NOT pleased.
I don’t know if it was that YaYa neither looked nor smelled like a proper YaYa, or that he wanted a bottle and to be put to bed. Either way you would have thought he’d been pinched the way he was yowling.
I finally got a bottle for him and he ate it while he had his tubby. Sadly, there are mirrors all over the bathroom where he tubbies and I had to stand there for twenty minutes seeing myself in what I hope was my most unattractive moment while he took a leisurely soak. If that’s not my worst look, well, I shouldn’t be let off the farm.
All’s well that ends well and neither of the two of us had any trouble going to sleep last night.
I totally think they’re going to ask me to babysit again. Maybe I shouldn’t put horse wrangler on my YaYa resume’ though.
I’ve been a little off kilter for a few days. I’ve been doing a lot of writing, and the truth is a lot of it sucks. Trust me, I’m not being modest here. I just can’t seem to get into the groove of awesomeness.
This morning, as I look at my shiny, new computer screen, the cursor of shame blinks at me in a cadence that both ridicules my insufficiencies and goads me to even try. I’m speechless.
As is recommended, when in doubt, whine it out:
- Most days, almost without exception, I feel like I’m “faking” my way through life. Sure, I’ll give you an answer, but I just made it up.
- The most elusive butterfly of all yearnings, my goal weight, always seems just a few, or many pounds, away.
- I have never been able to figure out the draw of Nascar. I feel neither curious, nor superior in my tastes. I just don’t get it. Unless you get to drive. That would be AWESOME.
- I cannot figure out why anyone would ever eat liver. Seriously. That’s disgusting. My children hate liver not because they’ve ever tried it, but because I can tell a pretty convincing horror story.
- For some reason, though I really do want to do it, I’m not very good at sending thank you cards. It’s like the Arm of Rudeness holds my wrists and I can’t write them out… or find the address… or my card isn’t cute enough and won’t tell the full story of how grateful I am. It’s weird.
- In the face of telling the truth and hurting someone’s feelings, I lie, lie, lie. And I loathe lying. But I do it every time. I think it’s trained into me socially, thereby abdicating any responsibility on my part. That’s good news at least.
- I like to think I am smart. Sometimes in order to keep this thought going I have to sequester myself so I can remain the smartest person in the room. And even though from time to time I can shine, I am ridiculously incompetent at completing the Sunday NY Times Crossword Puzzle. If only Will Shortz would lower his standards.
- The beginning of August will be the one year anniversary of my blogging career. And even though I’ve been doing this for almost a year, widgets and plug-ins and all things technical and slick are just beyond my reach. I’m not very good at this. But I can write content ALL DAY LONG. What’s that mean?
- You know what eludes me? Chic-ness. I don’t think it’s because I’m from Idaho. I’ve known some pretty chic people from Idaho. I don’t think it’s because I stayed home to raise my kids. I’ve seen chic in this arena as well. I think I’m just not naturally chic. I would also like to be hip but I don’t see that happening any time soon.
- While my villa in Italy eludes me, someday… it will be mine. Oh yes, it will be mine.
One of the things I like to tease Mr Dreamboat about is his dedication to having the right gear. It’s really quite charming to see him getting ready for anything. In the past when we traveled together I would end up resenting him as he would always have everything he needed while I would end up with the wrong clothes for the weather. I was not so meticulous in my planning and tried to travel light. This would equal a somewhat larger suitcase for him and a chip on the shoulder for me. I finally realized I too could be comfortable and have what I needed if only I would properly plan. Lesson learned. Resentment assuaged.
Though I have learned to prepare and pack properly, I do not have his natural talent for gearing up. Mr D knows on a very basic level, perhaps it’s the Eagle Scout in him, that to have a naturally successful and comfortable journey, one needs the right gear. The proper gear will avert problems, provide comfort, and in the best of circumstances, look really good on you. Mr Dreamboat is a sharp dresser, have I ever mentioned this?
The best part of this talent my husband possesses is that he shares it. Max, heading off to the open range last week, carried with him into the sunset, nice quality boots, gloves, awesome knives and a comfortable saddle. Everyone wins!
As for me, as I embark on building a new business (Oh,the things that are coming your way!), Mr D saw a need for me to have the right computer. And so for my birthday he presented me with a lovely machine on which to create and blow into existence something new and exciting. I am undone.
As Mr D explained exactly why he set me up, I realized that while this computer will be a major tool for me on my new venture, he is my finest asset.
We need good, honest, and “can-do” people around us. I’ve been camping in the rain, and the right gear is the difference between misery and comfort. But the right people around us is the difference between comfort and having a total blast, coming home with war stories and personal jokes that last the rest of our lives.
I have spent quite a lot of time with “the wrong gear”. I’ve limped along trying to make things work. But it just never felt smooth. I couldn’t get things to run right.
Without the right people in the “suitcase” of our lives, we run the risk not of simply being uncomfortable, but of never arriving at our destination. Not only are we held back by negative energy, we cannot reach our potential with people who do not live on the same wavelength in which we reside. And conversely, they are not better off with us in tow either. A bad fit goes both ways.
To have a naturally successful and comfortable journey, one needs the right people. The proper people will avert problems, provide comfort, and in the best of circumstances, look really good next to you.
Mr D has it going on when he prepares. He does his research, he’s thoughtful about what to bring and what’s superfluous. He’s mindful of bringing in the best people as well. We should all be so careful.
I’ve been thinking a lot about changes. I am in a whirlwind of changes in my own life. Of course there was my birthday yesterday, the beginning of my new year. There is the matter of my children getting older and moving out. With only one left in school I’m no longer the target market for parenting magazines and commercials about harried mothers. And then of course I am changing my mind about all sorts of things I thought I knew. Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes!
I know a lot of people who dread change. I have never really been one of them, but I’m just like anyone else, change can be difficult with new routines, things to learn and foreign ways of looking at the world and ourselves. Who doesn’t struggle with that from time to time?
Last week my middle son, Max left for a ranch in Eastern Oregon just a few days after his graduation from high school. He spent days organizing clothes and getting his gear together. The morning he left he was pretty emotional. It tore at my heart to see him so sad. He hugged his nephew goodbye with a few tears in his eyes and for once wasn’t the first one to pull away when he hugged his parents.
All day long I worried about him. I would tear up throughout the day as I thought about my young man going off into the world. I called him in the late afternoon, prepared to hear a voice as melancholy as my own. Not at all.
The voice I heard over the phone was delighted with anticipation. He’d taken the drive slowly and made stops that interested him. The pleasure of the adventure was fully on him. His anticipation of a his future was in his voice and he was nothing but happy.
Yesterday as my kids teased me about being “29” again, I had to admit I wouldn’t go back there for anything. Forty-six suits me just fine, thank you very much. It’s not that I wouldn’t be pleased to have firmer skin… no, it’s not that I don’t miss what’s behind me once in a while. But just like Max, I’m more excited about what I’m moving toward than I am about what I’ve left behind. Don’t get me wrong, there were lovely things all along the way. But they’re gone. Now it’s time to focus on the future.
Thank heavens high school wasn’t the best years of my life. I’m so glad that raising a family wasn’t the only joy I’ll ever know. And as far as the destination I’m focused on, experience has taught me that’s just a vision, the journey there is where it’s at.
I hope you’re enjoying your journey. I hope you have a destination in mind that makes you smile when you wake up each morning. If not, use your imagination and get one. It’s free and the ticket to the future.
I tend to get a bit reflective on my birthday. It’s sort of like rehashing the movie as you walk out of the theater. Our conversations sound like this, “I loved the part where…,” or “What was your favorite scene?” We do this after movies. I rehash at the end of each day.
So this morning as I’ve arisen before the masses that live with me, I am reflective not simply on the last year of my life, but in particular, I’m am reflecting on the challenges that have come to me throughout my years on earth, but turned out to be incredible blessings…
- I am grateful that I grew up with a serious illness. Having asthma and being hospitalized many times for it, taught me to take care of my body.
- When I was 14 years old I was in a farm accident where my left thumb was cut off. The insurance payout sent me to BYU where I met Mr Dreamboat. Left thumbs are easy to live without. I wouldn’t want to live without Mr D.
- Through many different circumstances, many of them challenging and some of them downright ugly, I find myself in the tiny, relatively remote burg of Amboy. While I sometimes complain about persnickety toilets and long drives to the grocery store, it is a huge blessing to live here in the quiet of the country.
- We suffered incredibly as a family when Aaron went to jail. We suffered financial blows and my children were without there father at pivotal times in their lives. We suffered in unspeakable ways, some of which have not yet manifested, I am certain. But the blessings and the lessons, they are of remarkable, even infinite value. I cannot mourn that which has brought me so much.
- My childhood was not idyll. However, the self reliance I learned has been pivotal in helping me survive hardships as an adult. I may not have gotten what I wanted but I got what I would later need. Resilience is learned and a special gift.
- For many years I was very self conscious that I didn’t finish my college education. Because of that I have spent the last 26 years educating myself instead of leaving off at the required four. I pronounce myself Dr Michelle! And give myself the letters GA for Grand Authority.
- I am grateful for the lean years in my marriage, they taught me how to “make do”. Now there’s a college course everyone should be required to take. Healthy, nutritious, cheap meals 101. How to make a house beautiful with $1.95 and only 2 hours, 201. Thrift shopping for the proud, Only For Upper Classmen. Call me for course options.
- I am grateful to have had my heart broken in so many ways by so many people. As I have put it back together I learned how to spot the scary people, to trust my own judgment and that even though I see some really bad behavior, I can never truly know what drives people. It’s best to just keep moving forward.
- I’m glad about the faulty Hyundai I drove when my two oldest children were little. I parked it on a hill in case I needed a “running”start. One day it was just too tired to make it up that hill. In the rain. With a toddler and a baby in tow… While I like my luxury cars, any car that starts every time is a blessing in my mind.
- All the things that didn’t turn out the way I wanted, all the fairy tales I told myself would be my life, all those deep disappointments were just making way for a life so much better than any I could have dreamed up for myself.
Happy birthday to me.
Tomorrow is my 46th birthday. I have no problem admitting this since, as my son Adam says, “the
struggle is real, my friends.” While I will not be mistaken as a 20 year old any time soon, or ever for that matter, every single one of these wrinkles is hard won. I own them, I earned them and I can tell you without a doubt, I’ve learned some lessons these past 46 years and wouldn’t trade them for all the cat calls in New York City.
So, on a whim yesterday Mr Dreamboat and I rendezvous-ed in Portland since we were both in the valley and we drove to the beach together. I mentioned I really like him, right?
Anyway, since we all deserve 3 days of birthday, yesterday was the first day of birthday and so, along with a trip to the beach, we went out to dinner at one of our favorite restaurants in Lincoln City.
Just as all weekends should begin, we sat for 25 minutes while the server refused to make even eye contact with us. We did eat the rolls before we got up and left.
Our second attempt at getting food went flawlessly, and all evening long I kept saying things like, “Did you see how they refilled our water? That was awesome!” As well as, “They’re bringing our food! Isn’t this great?!”
This morning as Mr Dreamboat, who has not been getting enough sleep, blissfully slumbered, I came into the main room, to this view.
I made some tea and I wrote in my creative pages. I thought about this last year and I saw it as unblemished. I admitted to myself that I have no REAL problems, only concerns. And I feel deeply grateful.
The truth is that from about 2003 to 2010 we were getting our trash kicked. From the beginning of our legal struggles with the government to very real difficulties at home raising a family as well as selling the home we built while Aaron was away and the little matter of his open heart surgery, there was always something.
TRASH KICKING. Serious. Trash. Kicking.
But I digress and I digress with purpose. Just as I was so grateful to be served a cold beverage last night because I had been denied one, this last year has been positively blissful BECAUSE of the agony of the preceding years.
I’m sure, just as I could pick apart the second restaurant we went to last night, I could find fault with the last year in all of the imperfection that is life. But why would I?
I am deeply grateful for last year and the wonder it was to me. I am giddy with expectation for the year before me. Yeah, there will be difficulties and things to overcome along the way, but life is a smorgasbord and the service is amazing!
Life is not joyful in spite of the struggle, it is joyful BECAUSE of it.
I have to admit that my true feelings are not always of gratitude here in the Great Northwest. Sometimes… well, sometimes our toilets don’t flush very well, and I’m pretty sure I’m allergic to Amboy, and I have to drive 40 minutes to get A N Y W H E R E. Which ensures an at least 2 hour round trip if I go out. And there’s the little matter of the weather which is often dark and rainy. Which generously feeds the weeds, of which I have plenty if you’re running out at your house.
This is the story I’m telling and it’s a true story. And so is this one:
We live on a peaceful 25 acres which affords us the space for frolicking dogs and galloping horses and gamboling goats. It is quiet and secluded and our children have the opportunity to learn how to work and earn money. Best of all, we have a sprawling home that is spacious and comfortably houses all of us, making it possible to be a place for our children to pass through as they transition in their own lives. My studio is large and looks out on the green pastures where I can see goats grazing and horses loping. It is glorious.
My two stories simultaneously conflict as much as they fuse together seamlessly. They are both true but they look very different. The difference is simply that one lacks gratitude.
Yes, I drive many miles every week. And so I choose to use the time listening to audio books (Um, Don Quixote may be the longest book in the whole world.), and looking at the scenery as if I were amongst the many weekend warriors heading this way to get out of the city.
Gratitude is a choice, whereas the effectiveness of my toilets seem to be up to the toilet gods. I cannot control the weather, but I can choose to enjoy the verdant view. In the years that lie behind me I have received the glorious gift of life lessons that taught me that I have no real control in this life other than how I choose to see things. And I choose the better story.
I can be very direct. I’m sure it was no thrill ride for my children when they were younger. My natural parenting style was to say things like, “That is not acceptable. Stop doing that.” And I would use some sort of accusatory body language like a harsh, pointing finger. Blunt. I could be very blunt.
This isn’t just my parenting style, I have used it as my “life” style. I have always liked to exercise and have generally taken an attitude of “no pain, no gain”. I once spent a grueling 90 minutes in Bikram Yoga, only to change clothes and go over to the gym and run five miles. I also gave blood that day. This was not a good idea.
Over the years I’ve done some self-evaluation and have come to the conclusion that extreme doesn’t necessarily equal better.
Because of this, I ask Mr Dreamboat to act as Lead Parent on the “project” of raising our children from time to time (Recent conversation: “Mom, can I go over to _____’s house?” “Go ask Dad,” was my reply, “he’s acting as Lead Parent for you right now.”). He has always understood the above mentioned communication philosophy and makes a point in a meaningful/gentle way. My automatic “You’re being an idiot, stop doing that,” isn’t as affective a tool in communicating with teenagers, or for that matter anyone, as you might think. Who knew?
Over the years I have seen the brilliance of gentle persuasion. I have seen Mr Dreamboat ask questions of our children rather than give them answers and I’ve seen my children make wise choices based on their own decisions. It doesn’t work all of the time, but it works more often than telling them they’re foolish does.
Yesterday I asked Zoë if she wanted to go running with me. With a stuffy nose and red eyes she admitted that she did, but she didn’t want to exacerbate her allergies (I contend that many of us in this household are allergic to Amboy). Instead, the two of us did a light yoga practice.
I have to admit it was a hard thing for me to do. Harder = better in my mind. Pain does equal gain! Doesn’t it? The shortest distance between two points is a straight line. It’s scientifically proven.
Except what if it’s not?
What if the best way to treat others as well as ourselves is through constant, consistent gentle persuasion? Kindness over directness. What if we treat our relationships, ourselves and our lives in a way that encourages growth without forcing it?
In our yoga practice yesterday, our guide would give instruction and then say things like, “Let your leg stretch as far as is comfortable for you today.”
I think it’s not just possible that we can parent and encourage and improve ourselves in this way. I think it’s preferable.
At the end of my Bikram/Run/Blood Drive day, I did not feel well. Not only was I physically exhausted, I was, ironically, unable to sleep that night. Pushed past appropriate barriers, my body and health were not improved. To that end, I have never improved my relationships with harsh, thoughtless words. Neither with others nor myself.
Gentle persuasion is where it’s at, folks. Let’s be kind to others, let’s be kind to ourselves. No pain, simply means no pain.