Gravestone: “He worked a lot”

'Thanks for all your hard work.'

 

I have never seen a grave stone that said “He worked a lot”

I’ve looked, too!  I searched google for an image using those words and other variations and found nothing. Not even as a joke, I guess it’s not funny.

I hear stories all the time about people that retire and start to lose their ability to live life due to illness or medical conditions. We hear it all that time! It’s a reminder that we need to live life as we age, not when we age.

I own a business. As soon as I found people that can work for me without me standing over them I started taking weekends off to be with my family. It took almost 2 years but it was my goal. There are weekends I might have to work here and there but the gist of it is, I take time for what is important to me.

I realize not everyone can just take weekends off. But, we can find what’s important to us, your calling in life, and do it. If working is more important to you then do it. If spending quality time with your family is, then do it. If walking your dog is, then do it! It’s about the everyday life and what you make of it. It’s not about working your ass off every day so you can retire, you may not even make it to retirement.  Show up for your life!

As we age, different things become more important to us. Each era of our lives creates a different story. For example, in my 20’s it was about relationships and getting married, in my 30’s children and family, my 40’s is family, school and work. I try hard to balance it all. But, for me throughout my life family has always been important to me.

I don’t get to see my brothers much since Dad passed away. Monday, my younger brother came by my shop with dinner. He brought Columbian Empanadas from a place he seen me check in on Facebook at. He knew I liked it and wanted to try it himself. I was beside the moon that he wanted to spend that time with me and made the time to come see me. I need to initiate those meet ups more myself.

When a friend asks me out to lunch, when my son tells me he loves me without me saying it first, when a neighbor asks us to dinner, the random text just asking how I am, a sincere display of love, feeling needed and loved…those are the things that are important to me, today.

What is the most important thing in your life right now?

via Daily Prompt: Calling

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“Expectations are resentments under construction”

Today is my 18th wedding anniversary.

23 years together, 4 apartments, 5 houses, foster kids, Johnny, hardships, losses, joys and love.

After all this time together I think I figured out the secret to a lasting marriage… not giving up, at least not at the same time.

Kevin and I have dealt with a lot of issues in our years together, hard issues like alcoholism, medical hardships, taking care of ill family, ill children, financial bankruptcy, and separation and near divorce. We were foster parents for 14years. I am pretty sure the kids are the only reason we stayed together, whether we were happy or not.

Early on expectations of each other is what catapulted us into arguments. Eventually, we never argued. I know now not arguing is a very bad thing for a marriage. It means you may be ignoring the issues that are causing you resentments and anger.

Kevin and I separated for 2 years. 1 of those years we lived in the same house the other year he bought a condo a few blocks away. We raised the kids together better than ever when we were separated. Kevin was always available to help out at the house, more than ever. It gave me some time to myself which I learned scared the shit out of me. I didn’t know what to do with myself. I was always taking care of someone else.

During those two years I learned how to care for me. I was forced into it by the separation. I learned that men are not our knights in shining armor and will not save us from ourselves. I learned how to make friends with woman, all types of woman! I learned how to live sober alone, happy alone. I lived my life constantly challenging myself to try things I never did. I traveled to Ireland solo for the first time to see my dying mother. Normally, I would convince my bother to go with me. However, I did call or text my brother constantly asking for positive affirmations and guidance. I started a Non-profit for my son’s school with other moms and raised over $22K the first year. I started my own business negotiating a “divorce settlement” from Kevin because he refused to get a divorce. I took care of my dying father for 9 months with more grace then I give myself credit for. I let go a little (just a little) of Johnny, my growing boy with the trifecta of disabilities (autism, CDH and Epilepsy). Letting go is the hardest thing I have ever done, and I am still working on that.

With everything I did, I didn’t do it alone!  I had a posse of woman or community behind me cheering me on, telling me I am crazy and loads of constructive advice. They empowered me!

At some point, Kevin and I came back together. I attribute that separation to what saved our marriage. It allowed me to grow as a woman, mother and human. It allowed Kevin to watch me grow without him. He had to know I could do this without him. He also needed time to catch up in his growth and spirituality. But, that is his journey to tell.

What I love about marriage in our 18th year seem so silly, but defines who we are and how we love.

  1. Eating!

We went out to dinner for our anniversary. We talked and laughed a lot while eating with full mouths and sometimes even making a mess. As we sat there we watched a couple across from us. They sat so tall and prim. The woman had a napkin on her lap and wiped her mouth after every bite. The guy chewed with his mouth shut and covered his mouth when he laughed. I asked Kevin, “Do you remember when we were shy eating in front of each other?”  He just smiled and said “Not anymore!”  Dinner time is so much chiller and laid back. We don’t overdo the manners and we surly don’t wipe after every bite, anymore.

  1. Dating!

We are raising a family and so damn tired by the end of the night. Just after our afternoon anniversary date at the spa, dinner and a trip to Costco, we were home by 5pm, we crashed at home. At 7pm we both wondered when John will go to bed because we are exhausted. Dating is exhausting at this point. Staying home on the couch and watching a movie isn’t exhausting. My favorite is when Kevin pauses the movie to tell me something about his day. Or when I start talking and he pauses it so he can hear me. That is my kind of date!

  1. BFF

Yes, he is my BFF, my partner in life. I tell him when I am constipated or when I have my period. He tells me about the Port-a-potty issues on the job site. It’s what best friends do, talk about the things that we shouldn’t talk about. We laugh a lot!

  1. Who cares if the dishes get done?

I don’t!!  Neither does Kevin but he does them anyway. I used to harp over who does the dishes and how I hated waking up in the morning to a pile. I never even gave anyone a chance to do them. I just complained while I did them. Eventually, when I started stepping away things got done without me. Imagine that? I step away and stop doing it in my fix/manage/control way and people step up and get it done in their own time. Ahhhh…..

  1. Marriage is NOT 50/50

Sometimes marriage is 80/20. Sometimes it’s 90/10 and sometimes is 100/0. The person who said marriage is 50/50 didn’t have any hardships or loss. When John was born I had to quit my well-paying job to stay home with him. His medical needs were so overwhelming that for me working was not an option. I was his nurse. Kevin was the bread winner now. I took care of 80% of John’s care from advocating, doctors’ appointments, school, nursing care and so on. Kevin took on 100% of the financial burden. We both could have easily been resentful of the other for doing more or less. Resentments just lead to anger and isolation. Today, we work as partners. We have clearer expectations of each other and help more with the household duties. We talk about what we need help with instead of expecting it without asking. Someone told me once, “Don’t let him disappoint you”. Tell him what you want or need instead of waiting for him to fail because he didn’t know or understand.

  1. I’m not his mama

I don’t need to control him. He is a grown man and the decisions he makes in his personal dealings are his to make. I can only offer my opinion and pray he makes the right choice, most cases he does. Which leads me to the next one…

  1. Forgiveness is easier

When I am mad at Kevin I can let my thoughts spiral into a sad sad story of our lives. I script future conversations about divorce. Thankfully, I never speak a word of it! I have trained myself to fall into positive impressions of Kevin. By training myself I mean, I call a friend who loves him and tell them why I am mad. They usually side with me but always justify Kevin’s side. It allows me to take a step back from anger and look at him in a positive light. I talk about how great of a father he is, how he is always fixing things around the house, about that time he built a new garage in 2 days and put up a new fence. I talk about the way he holds John when John is sick. How he gives him a bath every night and I get to hear them laughing. He doesn’t resent us, he loves us and loves spending time with us. We know this through his actions. So that one time a month he pisses me off, is so much easier to forgive. I hope Kevin feels the same about me.

  1. We agree to disagree

I am notorious for stopping in the middle of a conversation we are debating and saying “Ok, you are right.”. And walking away.  Kevin usually laughs at me but I feel like it’s a ‘drop the mic’ moment and I have actually won. This is what I tell myself because in reality I would rather be happy then right. This little tactic has saved us from hours of the silent treatment. Best one ever!

  1. We don’t need gifts

Gifts were great in the beginning. At this stage in the game I just want him to take the lil man to Chuck E Cheese for two hours so I can catch a nap. In reality, it’s the day to day things that get done or how he shows up, that is the real gift. Most Sunday mornings he lets me sleep in but leaves a cup of coffee by my bedside just in case I want to sit up in bed. Sometimes he throws in a bagel or a bowl of fruit. My dear friend Ann always says, “It’s about the season, not the day”.  What we do for each other all month long is a sweeter gift then flowers and thigh thickening chocolates on sweetest day! I’ll take the season over the day.

  1. Our love is unconditional

Before Kevin and I separated I vividly remember telling him on a drunken night that I hate him. I remember saying it and thinking, once I say this I cannot take it back. It is my greatest regret in our marriage. However, it is also one of the things that got us to the place we are now. I remember the hurt on his face when I said it. It was all over money, paying bills and how we parent. Our love was conditional, if you pay the bills and help me parent I will love you. The recession hit us hard, we had a house in foreclosure and we owed my father a lot of money. This sort of thinking takes years to change but if you are invested in spiritual and personal growth, change can happen. After I got sober I began working the steps. This is when I realized how unrealistic my expectations were and how conditional my love was. I pushed people away by hurting them and drank to feel better about it. Today, we are partners. When we can’t pay the mortgage it’s up to both of us to make it work. If I cannot contribute financial I can contribute emotionally. I can tell him I will support him and help look for a solution. I can pray and reassure him that I still love him.

It took me years to remove the labels that we assume when we get married; romantic, knight, lover, money etc… What we thought a husband should be is not the reality. If more people went into marriage with less unrealistic Expectation of each other, the marriage would last.

My favorite words of wisdom when it comes to marriage:

“You can tell a lot about a marriage by the way they treat each other through the bad times.” – I have no idea who said this but someone did and I remembered it.

We have had enough bad times to pull us a part and back together again and again. Somehow, we keep coming back to each other.

I love my life today, I love my marriage, my home and my lil family!

“Expectations are resentments under construction” – Anne Lamott

 

Medical PTSD…Gratitude?

On the evenings I am not working Kevin and I put our son John to bed together. It is always filled with laughing, hugs and kisses. John takes a dose of melatonin every night right before bed that allows him to relax enough to fall asleep on his own. He is a happy boy, especially when he is home.

Daddy takes him into the bathroom for P and teeth cleaning while I go into the bedroom and set up the night light and sheets. Some nights I chase him into the bed pinching his little butt while he laughs and swats my hands away. He throws himself into the bed laughing hysterically, so much so his lips turn blue.

“Johnny stop laughing so hard, your lips are blue, breathe!” as Kevin and I look at each other nodding our heads with the look of “Wow, can you believe this kid”.

Kevin and I lay in the bed with John between us. We laugh at the silliness of John and usually mention how handsome or grown up he looks. Tonight, we mentioned how straight his teeth are and how beautiful his smile is. He has Kevin’s teeth, I had braces.

We say the Our Father Prayer with Kevin’s hand across us both. Tonight, Kevin was rubbing my back. John took Kevin’s hand and moved it away and began rubbing my back himself. We all laughed and kissed good night.

Sobriety brought me here….I am forever grateful for these moments that I do not rush and adore so much.

However, sometimes my mind goes to a dark place. For literally a second, my mind imagines the space between Kevin and I in that bed empty, without John. It gives me a knot in my stomach with a weakness I cannot explain. I shake it off quickly.

Death is something I think of a lot. I don’t do it on purpose. My mind just goes there. Sometimes I wonder if it’s my brain preparing me for the “what ifs”. But, my smarter brain tells me not to think of the ‘what ifs’ and to live in the present. I am not sure how to make these thoughts stop. I feel like it’s a symptom of medical PTSD, from all the years of watching him almost die or struggle to breathe.

I just don’t know how to make it stop…

Daily Prompt: Thorny…or complex?!

Thorny

I have this horrible habit of scripting conversations and scenarios in my head that will literally never happen! For example, last night someone asked me to babysit this weekend. I declined because it’s my birthday weekend and I wanted to see if my husband was going to plan anything.

Mind you, I did not remind him or even send him out a hint. My plan was to wait for him to forget so I can go bat shit crazy.

In my head, I was scripting a conversation we would have if we were to see a therapist. Which we never will because he just won’t do it. (That’s another story!) I was saying things like “We have been together for over 20 years and every year I have to remind him…why can’t he just know it!” I literally drive myself crazy with the complexity of the script. Saying I am thorny is an understatement.

When I arrived home at 10pm after a 12hour shift he had an amazing homemade burrito bowl ready for me. I asked him if he had any plans Saturday and without a beat he said, “No, wanna go out?”. I immediately softened but was also a little surprised he asked. I am still not convinced he knows why I asked, but he fed me so I wasn’t feeling as thorny or complex and let it go.

Here’s to a Happy Birthday weekend, whether he knows it or not.

And a reminder, in the great words of my dear friend Ann B., “It’s about the season, not the day.”

Good thing he fed me….:)

Quality Time, please?!

Quality time is so important to me.

I love spending quality time with my friends and family. When the time together isn’t forced and everyone really wants to be there, I feel loved.

I feel hurt when I schedule time with someone and they blow me. That tells me that my time is not important to them. It tells me that I am not important to them. Whatever they blew me off for is more important, whether its work or other people. This is with the exception of emergencies.

I really feel what you put out into the world, you get back in some form. Saturday, I had plans with someone I love and they blew me off. That night I was asked by two people if I would sponsor them. I spent the evening with a new sponsee talking about resentments and personal growth. We talked about owning our part in our story so we can learn and grow from it. Then we went for ice cream and laughed at her 7yr old son’s silly jokes.

The next day I was invited to lunch with a grammar school friend, which I accepted gratefully. Another friend invited me to a Jazz fest which I couldn’t attend because of work and sponsee commitments.

The universe if keeping me busy with people who want to spend time with me. Surrounding me with love the way I need to receive it, in quality time.

Thank you universal friends! Thank you HP for giving me the gift of friendship, sobriety and love!

Social media addict?

Yesterday, I made the decision to remove myself from social media.

Yes, I did….

I deactivated my Facebook account and deleted my Snapchat.

I didn’t have an Instagram or twitter.

However, I do have accounts in all of these for my business.

On a personal level, I am not longer connected to social media.

AND I FEEL FABULOUS!!!

At first, I thought this was going to be hard. How will I survive without seeing everyone’s lives happening before me? How will I make it through a day without seeing how everyone’s first day of school was or how that girl in Bloomington is doing with the new baby. How will I make it without knowing how Ed the coffee guy managed to make it through the Park Ridge Farmers Market or how Bob from California is enjoying his new puppy?

This is how I did it. I replaced that time scrolling through social media with ME time. I looked at my son while I was talking to him. I asked him questions instead of nodding yes while responding to a post. I cleaned the oven, which was pretty cool! I did an amazing amount of marketing on milkshakes for my business and arrived into work early without being tired. While at work I read a book during the slow times and did a little extra cleaning.

It all seems so normal but for me it isn’t normal. I spent way too much time on social media. Doing all these extra things personally and professional has me feeling empowered and ready to tackle some more tasks. That’s crazy!!!!!

Last night I went to bed earlier then I usually do and actually went to sleep!  Like within 15 minutes. That’s unheard of!

This morning I woke up before the alarm and felt great.

I am pretty sure I was addicted to social media. Without it I get a little itchy, I want to just take a quick peek. I pick up my phone to click the big F (that’s F for Facebook) and for a second panic that it isn’t there. But, it’s getting easier and I am looking less.

Another reason I quit social media. It was helping me to build up resentments. I spend a lot of time with my son at home because autism doesn’t let us enjoy day trips out like most families. In addition, his chronic lung disease and oxygen requirements make it hard to just hop on out the door. Watching these assumable normal families enjoy the last few days of summer vacation was making me sad, not happy. Watching stranger’s lives that have no part of my daily life was making me resent them.

Without those visuals I can focus on the gratitude. The beautiful smile and hardy laugh my son enjoys at home. Our everyday hot dog lunches and “black popcorn” with water balloons by the dozen. The chronicles of the Boss (our puppy boxer) and homemade meals (not instagramed or facebooked) by my super BFF hubby! The best part are the text messages from the people IN my life with pictures of their kids first day at school, letting me know they are traveling for a sick family member or just asking to meet for lunch or coffee.  The important stuff!

You got the BUNZ hun!

Johnny’s BFF is an 18 year old girl named Emma. She is sweet when she wants to be and the polar opposite of that at times. She can’t help it because she has a nuero disability that causes her to lose control. However, John and Emma together is always just hot dogs, McDonald’s and short naps, always happy times.

We have very few people that can watch John for us. Actually, we have two, Erin and Auntie Patsy.  Erin is Emma’s mom and Auntie Patsy is our neighbor from the old house that we lived in for 17 years. She has become part of the family, the only “family” member that has taken on the hard task of learning how to be alone with John. We love her more than words can say, and Erin, of course.

One afternoon Erin had taken John for me while I worked. When I arrived home John had learned a new song.

“Anaconda don’t! Anaconda don’t! Anaconda don’t want none unless you got BUNZ hun!”

I bet that song is stuck in your head now.

We have been shouting it out just like that since he learned it. You have to have the emphasis on BUNZ, with a Z.

In March 2017 John came down with the flu. He ended up in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of our children’s hospital for 5 weeks. Thankfully, he recovered and was sent home on 4 liters of oxygen 24/7.

While in the ICU we met a really cool nurse named Katie. I really loved her vibrant personality and genuine smile. As an ICU mom for the past 12 years, I have sat many hours getting to know John’s nurses and vice versa. This nurse told me her story, with hardships and all, while smiling with gratitude. I loved that about her.

When John started to feel better his personality started to shine through again. He’s a clown that loves to make people laugh. He instantly adored Katie and her funny personality. One day he looked right at Katie and said “You got Bunz hun!”. Katie’s eye brows raised with a grin on her face while giving a puzzled look. She replied “Well, yes I do have bunz Johnny.”. Johnny pointed to the top of her head. Katie and I looked at each other laughing because we realized he meant the bun on her head!

After that, every time someone with a bun in their hair walked by Johnny’s ICU room Katie would stop them and ask Johnny, “Hey Johnny, what’s she got?” and Johnny would shout back, “You got bunz hun!”.

He had the entire ICU laughing.

Always making people laugh…

A few weeks later I was pushing John in his push chair into the bowling alley. There was a woman walking in front of us. She was a larger woman with a larger then average bottom and a bun in her hair. Johnny shouted to her “You got bunz hun!!!”

When she turned around I was already pointing to the top of my head saying “He means the bun on your head”.

7 months later I am still explaining the bunz comment to random people….  Ladies with bunz, men too….Johnny will point it out to you. Because he loves bunz!!!