Tuesday, May 23, 2017

A Woman of a Certain Age...

This posting was going to be funny and silly, but I've had something on my mind lately. It has to do with age and I'm tired of holding back.

I'm celebrating a birthday this week and it's a milestone. I've fussed over it. I've cried over it, but no matter what, it is going to happen. Honestly, I'd rather have that than the other option! However, someone said something to me the other day and it pissed me off. They hurt my feelings! They said, "Remember how old you are. You aren't 20 anymore!"

You know what? I know that! I look in the mirror every single day and I know I'm not 20! I feel the aches and pains in my joints. I know I'm not 20! I don't need your reminder that I'm older than I want to be!

I was talking to my darling sister the other day and actually said the words, "I thought I'd have more time!" When I was younger, I wasted time. I gave time to people who didn't deserve it. I allowed people to take from me without giving back. I let people take my spirit, steal my thunder, and break me until I was less than I wanted or deserved to be! I made mistakes that cost me more than I should've allowed! And, trust me, I'm paying the price now.

I'm not a woman who regrets the decisions she's made. There's no point because I can't change the past. Every decision has led me to the spot I am now. I was beat down and degraded. I lost my voice. I still have a few issues to work on, but I'm trying. And I love the woman I've found under years of breakage and hurt. People buried my fire until it was almost out. Unfortunately for them, the ember still smoldered. I've been digging through the wreckage of my soul for a while and the fire is back to roaring.

I know I'm not 20! I wouldn't want to be. Being 20 would put me back in a place I wouldn't want to be with people I don't like all that much. I don't have to "act my age" or be reminded that I'm not a teenager. I color my hair whatever fucking color I feel like. I wear whatever fucking clothes I want. I wear as much or as little make-up as I want. Most days, I'm mistaken for 28-35. I'm okay with that! Hell, I'm ecstatic over that! When someone asks me how old I am, I love watching their mouths fall open because they think I'm so much younger. And that's on a college campus! After a lifetime of being the geek who has her nose in a book, I've had some students actually tell me I'm the "coolest chick" they know. I've been told I inspire them.

So here's a piece of advice: The next time you get the urge to remind a woman of their age or say "Well, a woman of a certain age would...", shut your damn mouth and blow your opinion out your ass! Why? Because women of ANY age can do whatever the hell they want and they don't need  your permission to do so!

Thursday, May 18, 2017

"All That is Gold Does Not Glitter,

Not all those who wander are lost;
The old that is strong does not wither,
Deep roots are not reached by the frost.

From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king."

If you know me at all, then you know this is one of my favorite quotes. It comes from the Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien.

I've had a rough week. Something fell into my lap at the most opportune time, but for what ever reason the universe has, it didn't work out. It would have been a dream come true, but alas, it wasn't mine to have. I fell apart. I posted on my personal wall and got the normal "Keep positive," "When one door closes...," and "It will be alright," from people. The words help because they came from people who care about me and want me to be happy. But the ache in my chest was of sheer disappointment. Truly, I was disappointed in myself. Maybe I said the wrong thing. Maybe I didn't look right. Maybe there is merely something wrong with me. My overthinking was destroying me. So, I paused for some reflection.

I found this quote on the internet one day and it struck me to the very bone.

Then, I remembered Tolkien's words. This fulfillment of my dream glittered like a lake on a sunny day, but it wasn't golden. It wasn't perfect. It merely was. And as lost as I felt, I'm not lost. I'm wandering on my journey. (I'm going to mix my stories here, bear with me.) The yellow brick road is still beneath my feet. Toto is still faithfully by my side. Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, and Scarecrow are walking with me, even if it is only in spirit. After all, they have their own journeys to take. The flying monkeys are trying to get to me, but they will only succeed if I allow them.  

This dream is mine and mine alone. The fulfillment will happen when it is supposed to and not a moment before. I need to improve myself and be the best me that I can be so that when the perfect opportunity arrives, I'll be ready. I've got some plans in place and I'm working on what I need to. Unfortunately, it will mean saying my goodbyes to places and people who are a major part of my life. It is time for ME to be the major player for a change. I've let others take over the spotlight so I didn't have to worry about it. I hate being the center of attention, but in my own life? How sad! This is my life and I need to live it for me! Not for my friends and family, a job, or anyone else. I've been so focused on others that I've lost track of myself. I've let others dictate how things are going to work and while I've been so busy helping others with their journeys, I've gotten lost in the shuffle. 

I'm taking time to get things adjusted and to focus on what matters. My passion has been pushed aside to make room for other people and that just isn't right. The smoldering ember is there, I've just got to find it under all of this rubble. Bear with me, please! The phoenix isn't reborn from the ashes into the vision of glorious beauty we envision overnight. It takes time. And time...well, that is the one thing I still have.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Some Days I Open My Mouth and My Mother Comes Out

Have you ever walked past a mirror and catch your reflection out of the corner of your eye? I did that today and I caught a glimpse of my mother. At an earlier point in history, that would have terrified me. But now...it's a badge of honor.

In my last post, I posted some pictures of my mom. One of the comments was how much I look like her. I used to hear that a lot as a teenager. It drove me crazy! Not that I didn't think my mother was beautiful...I just wanted to be seen as my own person and everyone was so busy comparing me to her. "You look just like your mother," I'd hear more often than not. Not "You're so beautiful" or "I love your outfit." Just "You look just like your mother" or even worse "You're just like your mother was at this age."

Not too long ago, I sent my mom a picture of my hand. Never mind why, just that I did. She sent me a picture of hers back with the question "Whose hands do you have?" I had to laugh because aside from some cosmetic things, our hands are identical! But I know those hands of hers. They've held babies, comforted people, worked hard, been cracked open from cold, calloused from carrying buckets and hay bales, kneaded countless batches of bread, made so many cookies, and loved. Mine haven't experienced that much wear and tear, yet I look at our hands side by side and there they are...almost identical.

As I age, I notice more and more of my mom coming out. I opened my mouth to say something to someone just the other day and my mother came shooting out! It happens more and more. It's not always positive. Especially when it comes to my body. I hear her words emerge from my mouth when I tell people how I feel about my curves. I watched my mom struggle with her body issues all of my life. There was no size small enough to make her happy. I remember looking at her stretch marks and thinking they were beautiful because I was one of the reasons she had them. Yet, I look at my own and there hasn't been a person born from these marks. She hated her stretch marks and I, in turn, hate mine. As she's aged, she's become more positive about her body. I've still got a ways to go.

We've had our ups and downs through the years, but when it comes to my mom and all that she's done in her life, I look up to her. She taught me a lot and I'm sure I'll keep learning from her as I go. Hopefully, she can forgive the child I was and see past that to the woman I'm attempting to become.

Happy Mother's Day to all of you mothers! Fur kids, feathered kids, fin kids, scaly kids, or skin kids, you are a mom and you are loved!

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

To My Mom...

I've been a bit quiet lately. I had a blogpost all set to go, but it was simply me, standing on my soapbox, wondering where the fuck respect had gone. So, I left it to sit because I don't think anyone else gives a shit like I do. And I can only write so many posts about respect.

So, I'm back and this is more than a bit premature, but after the past few days, I need to make this blogpost. I realize not everyone is as lucky as I am, but I don't feel like it is up to someone else to teach our children how to be good human beings.

Here it goes: 

To my mom:
I don't often take the time to say "thank you" for the small stuff. You know, the stuff like leading by example, teaching me to cook, bake, sew, file taxes, balance a budget, live on a budget, respect (like how I slipped that in there?), compassion, understanding, and love. I realized the other day (after watching a video on FB about how the schools should be teaching our children this stuff) that I learned how to be a woman from you. From putting on my make up and picking an outfit suitable for "going to town" to showing people respect even when they don't deserve it, I learned it all from you. Now, if you saw me today you may doubt you taught me anything (I arrived at work set to clean. I am sporting pigtails, sweats, an old ratty hoodie, and no make up. Then, I was informed I had to make a run to the bank...as in go inside and interact with people...sigh).

I was 11 days old here. Those boys would grow up to be the only big brothers I ever knew, even though we were cousins.

You gave me a love of books. Maybe it was by accident because you wanted to have 30 minutes to get ready without a baby crawling up your leg. Maybe it was intentional. However, it was meant, I appreciate it. My love of books led me down the rabbit hole with Alice and stumbling into Wonderland, into the Swiss Alps with Heidi, into Yorkshire with Dr. Herriott, and down the banks of Plum Creek with Laura Ingalls. That love led me to create my own worlds and share them with people around the world! It gave me a dream! While I've stepped back so I don't overwhelm myself, I get to live that dream every time I sit down to my computer.

Your love of cooking and baking has led me down some different culinary paths. I've become quite proficient at Asian cooking. I'm not afraid to try different things because you gave me the basics. I've become more daring in my flavor combinations and am not afraid to combine my savory with my sweets (on occasion you may get a taste of heat from chiles in my chocolate cake or cocoa in my pot of chili, salt in my caramel, black pepper in my pumpkin recipes...). I can make a meal for one or 40. I can make it as fancy or rustic as is proper. You taught me fractions! Oh gods, I thought those things would be the death of me! Now, I do it in my head!

As we've discussed recently, I wasn't an easy child. I had a will of my own and seldom wanted to heed the advice of others. I am impatient and frustrate easily. There are times when I don't follow through on something because I simply get so overwhelmed. I always have more irons in the fire than I can deal with. Finishing one task before starting another is something I never learned. It would be nice to focus on one thing at a time. Unfortunately, my mind doesn't allow it. My teen years were fraught with arguments, but we always worked it out in the end. Mistakes were made on both sides, but by your example, I learned to say the words "I'm sorry!"

You taught me to keep a clean house, though my anal retentivness goes beyond most. You taught me to sew a button at such a young age. I even take the extra buttons and tuck them in a button box for my "just in case" days. You taught me to mend holes in clothing instead of simply tossing the clothes in a rag pile. I remember my first job at the truck stop and having to file taxes. I sat at the dining room table and filled out that 1040EZ asking you about every single line. I was so proud of myself. I now let a company do them, but I fill in the blanks :) You taught me how to grocery shop. There are very few name brand products I purchase. You taught me how to live on a budget and how to save for the important things. Some people in my life (you know who you are) think I'm cheap. I prefer the word "frugal". And on that same topic, you taught me the difference between "I want" and "I need". I will overthink a purchase for months before deciding on making a purchase. (How bad do I need this? If I wait for a bit, will it go on sale? How often will I use it? Will I use this more than once a year? Is it absolutely necessary? Can I use it for more than the one thing it is intended for? Will I be able to find it cheaper somewhere else? Is this something I can find at a discount store/Goodwill/St. Vinny's/Salvation Army/Re-store/ garage sale/ flea market?) In turn, you taught me how to let go of things. You made sure I didn't become a hoarder who holds on to things that she has no use for. I hang onto the things that matter. You taught me how to make a home on the simplest of budgets.

You can't tell where I get my sense of humor, can ya?

For all of these things (plus my goofy sense of humor) and more, Mom, I say "Thank you from the bottom of my heart!" My experiences may have molded me into who I am, but you, YOU, showed me how to handle the shit Life throws at me with grace, faith, and a smile.

Your card is on its way to you. Your gift, I'll save for your visit! However, this is the best gift I can give you for now! HAPPY MOTHER'S DAY, MOM! I love you so very much!

My silly, goofy mom!

Friday, April 14, 2017

Happy Spring...

It appears as if Spring has finally arrived to stay here in my corner of the world. The grass is growing. Birds are singing. The trees have buds on them. Green shoots are pushing through the dirt. The chipmunks have invaded with a vengeance. Rabbits have overrun my yard.

Yes, you read those last two things right. Let me explain. I love these fuzzy little critters, I really do. But here's my problem: They seem to think that they should be in the house pets. Two times now, a chipmunk has had to be relocated (no, they're not allowed to be killed!) to a pine tree across the street. *hangs head* I may have named him Alvin (Honestly, Simon and Theodore would NEVER get into this kind of trouble!) I have two that live in my garage. My neighbors have got to think I'm insane because I stand in the garage and tell them, "Simon, Theodore, you can stay in the garage and hide from Oreo (my neighbor's cat), but I swear to all that I hold holy, if you get under the hood of my truck and chew on the damn wiring, you're cat food!"

The rabbits have built a den within the walls of my second bedroom. The way that room is laid out, a couple of them have made their way inside. The adult was shooed out fairly easy. The baby, on the other hand, was more difficult. Never mind, that as this is happening, I have 175 lb. dog thinking he needs to get in on the fun which only aggravates the bunnies more! The fact that neither of them had a heart attack impresses me! Now, they've taken to lounging on my front steps. How do I know this? Because there is rabbit shit all over my steps! This is a place where they have to go up three steps to lie down! Nothing like stepping out there in bare feet in the morning and having those little surprises. (I'm usually on autopilot and forget until it's too late. This is pre-caffeination.)

However, I have finally found the way they're getting in the house. Before this is, it was a mystery. Now, to get some wood to board up the hole. Getting the landlord to do it is not an option since he's not reliable on anything except complaining if the lawn isn't mowed on his schedule.

Did I also mention that the damn chipmunks have taken to climbing onto my bedroom window screen to chitter at me at 4 am? And no, they're not singing. If only... Uh huh...I'm thinking these little beasts don't understand the human way of living. Just because the sun is rising doesn't mean this human is getting up...I just need another hour.

Yeah, Spring has arrived and this author's world seems to only get nuttier every time the season changes. Maybe this is what city living does to a country girl! It makes her crazy :) Oh wait, I was already there.

Happy Easter!

Sunday, April 2, 2017


Today, class, we're going to talk about respect. There are people who just don't understand what respect means.

Respect is defined as: "a feeling of deep admiration for someone or something elicited by their abilities, qualities, or achievements."

If you've read my blog posts before, you know I am a big believer in respect. I don't care if you are a doctor or the cashier at my gas station, you deserve my respect. Why? Because you are a human being, who is doing their job, which is in some way or other in service to me.

I've been talked down to, made to feel like I was stupid, and treated like a second (in some cases, third) class citizen. For too many years, I was a housewife. I kept our home. I was called "a gold digger", "lazy", "drain on society", etc. I divorced and work in a not so different field these days...I'm a caregiver. I go into people's homes and cook their meals, clean their homes, do their laundry, etc. No matter their difficulties, I always treat my clients with respect. I don't know all of their back stories and how they came to need someone like me, but if they are calling on me for help, their lives took a much different turn than they imagined it would. However...the first time, you talk down to me as if you are more knowledgeable of things or are smarter than me, I will shut you down. I may not have a college degree, but I'm working on it. I may not have a nice house, but I'm working on it. What makes you so much better than me? I'm curious. Because you made all the right decisions and lived life the way you were "supposed to"?

My grandma always told me "People in glass houses shouldn't walk around nude or throw stones." I find that to be true. I have clients who have opened up to me after being very haughty with me. What have I discovered? You, too, hath fucked up! You may not have made the same mistakes I've made, but you have made mistakes that led you to places you never wanted to be.

Do you think I WANTED to be divorced and a college student at my age? Hardly, but I can tell you that I'm happy with my choices. Being in college at my age isn't easy, by any means, but I love it! The introvert in me loves watching the people interact with each other on campus. The student in me feels starved for the education. And the woman in me, well, she loves it when she catches a certain man's eye and he tells her that he thinks she's 10-15 years younger than she is. (What? I'm a bit vain, I'll admit it!) And standing on my own? It's an incredible feeling! I feel empowered for the first time in my life! I don't mind my job, but I don't want to stay in it forever. There's so much more to explore and do!

While respect is something that can be earned, it is also something that should be given. That cashier at the gas station? He may be working on his degree at night while being a single dad. That doctor? She may have worked her butt off to get a 2.0 in her pre-med which barely eked her into the medical program at her college. You don't know the whole story behind why someone is doing the job they're doing. That janitor you made fun of in high school may have owned his own company, but lost it when times got tough. He/She took the only job they could get to put food on their family's table. Let that sink in for a moment. We are all simply one decision away from being at the low end of the totem pole.

R-E-S-P-E-C-T: An easy concept to understand; a difficult one to incorporate.

And because this seems to be the appropriate song for this post:

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Making the Grade

The other day, I was surfing the net and found a blog post from a mom who was frustrated with her son. There's not much news there, right? What mother doesn't get frustrated with their children? However, this post took me back to a place that I would rather not go...my past. See, this mother and father are upset because they think their teenage son, a senior in high school, is not taking his future seriously. Instead of studying for an upcoming exam, he was more focused on playing video games. They believed their son lacked ambition. Maybe he does, maybe he doesn't...the point is that this kid was getting good grades...without studying.

I was that son...okay, I was a daughter, but still...you get my point. I was constantly being reminded that I needed to apply myself and how my grades were more important than having fun with my friends. Now, like the son in the blog post, I made decent grades. I wasn't a straight-A student, but I probably could've been. I worked part-time all through high school and school came easy. I made B's without making an effort. Blowing off homework to have fun with my friends on the weekend was part of my life. My homework always made it in the teachers' hands (and no, I didn't copy off someone else). I can still hear my mom and grandma saying, "If you'd just apply yourself..."

Apply myself to what? The one dream I had was dashed on the rocks before I ever made it to high school. I had no idea what the hell I wanted to be when I grew up. Some days, I still wonder if I'll ever get it all figured out. Anyway, how do you apply yourself to something when you have no clue where you're headed? And what is funny is that no one asked me what I wanted to be. But I wasn't being pushed to go to college. I wasn't being steered in any direction. I don't think anyone ever thought I'd be more than someone's wife and mother.

I've made it to college and I'm working on my degree. I work hard for my grades, but let me share something with you. I've applied myself to the science and math classes because I was working toward my BS. I've failed miserably. I've studied until I cannot see anything except fx(g) or metamorphic vs. sedimentary rocks. What do those things have to do with an English degree? Nothing. Where will I use these things? I won't. However, they are part of the "core requirements" for a BS, so I'm forced to take them. Two semesters I took and retook math and geology in the hopes of getting better grades than the previous semester. Because of my BS, I needed those classes. I grew frustrated and I kept hearing the words, "If only you'd apply yourself...you're just being lazy." My depression was at an all-time high. I've finally remedied the situation and am working on a BA instead. Still need the math, but I've got the science requirement covered.

I sat in my math class that second semester with Mr. Charismatic Smile from the previous semester and almost lost it when he walked in. He had this huge smile on his face and he sat down with me. Tears filled my eyes when I told him that I felt stupid. (I hate it when people tell me I'm stupid/not smart/unintelligent/lazy/etc.) He squeezed my hand and said, "No, you're not. You're in the same boat as me. This just doesn't make sense to us. But you are NOT stupid. I'm not stupid. We're just not able to comprehend this stuff." In fact not too long ago, he shared this and I cried:

So, here's a little bit of advice: Don't tell your kids that their grades define them, they don't. It doesn't matter if  your kid gets an A or a C on a test. Hell, it doesn't matter if they fail it. You need to ask your kid where they see their life going, who they want to be, where they want to go. Maybe your kid doesn't want to go to college right now. Yes, it would be easier, but in all seriousness, your kid getting a job at a gas station or factory isn't the end of the world. They may just find out who they are. And going to college? It may not be in the cards for your child, at least, not now. But the decision needs to be THEIRS. They're not stupid or lazy because they don't follow the goals YOU laid out for THEM. And teaching your children to stress over getting a B instead of an A, well, that just turns them into people who think they have to please you. Teach them to set goals for themselves and live up to THEIR expectations. And just a little FYI: relaxing in front of a video game or a computer screen or even with a book isn't going to kill your kid. You might be surprised at how much they actually learn...about how to manage stress. Take it from someone is just now learning how to deal with stress...like biology, algebra, and English, teaching a child to deal with stress is just as important.

 I've changed my major three times since I started college. I'm finally content on my choice, but that college debt is all mine. I've made mistakes and I own each of them, but you know what? At the end of the day, I took my own path, not the one carved out for me, and I'm so much happier now.

Sure you want Junior to be successful, but what is success really? My definition is this: Success is being happy with your life. It's not about a big house, a fancy car, or a big paycheck. It's about paying your bills, having a roof over your head and food on your table. Success is being able to look at yourself in the mirror and liking the person you see there. Happiness=success and no one can convince me otherwise.