Changes in Christmas Music

35672-christmassongs.1200w.tn

From Crosswalk.com

I was reading an article about singer John Legend producing a new Christmas album, and that he was “revamping” the song Baby It’s Cold Outside “to modernize the song’s outdated and sometimes troubling lyrics”. For those who haven’t been able to capture them all, the lyrics are here.

To be very honest, I’ve always been unhappy with the lyrics of that song, even when I first heard it as a young teen on late night TV in the movie Neptune’s Daughter. Some of the responses by the guy seemed so self-centered to me. Some of the responses of the woman were also too provocative for my “black and white world view” teen mind. She was being too wishy-washy about leaving, and seemed to be a provocative tease. So, I’ve never liked the song. I didn’t perceive the rape culture at the time, so I’m not going to address that here. My prejudice against the song was strong before I was awakened to the rape culture’s reality.

When it began to pop up in Christmas playlists, I was annoyed and wondering why – until I got to watch Elf, again. I think I had dismissed it and forgotten about the song after seeing it the first time. Like I said, I didn’t like the song, but I honestly liked the movie, Elf, in more ways than I didn’t. So I probably deliberately overlooked the fact that the song was there.

So now I knew why the song is included in holiday playlists, but man, why play it so often? Eventually, I figured it out and here’s the real part that I am grappling with: the secularization of the season that requires removal of all religious contexts. Didn’t expect me to go in that direction, didja?

I like to listen to music on my TV, because I no longer own (nor can I afford) a stereo system. So when the Christmas season gets underway, I enjoy turning on the music channel on my cable provider. They used to provide two channels, one with old stuff and one with fresher content. The one with old stuff would have singers like Perry Como, Dean Martin, Bing Crosby and Frank Sinatra singing the old standards I grew up with. Not necessarily the channel I want to linger in, since it’s my parent’s domain more than my own. Not bad, but not where I want to stay. I just visit a bit and wish it was included in a blend of new and old.

The other channel has the fresh stuff, and even some of the ridiculous stuff that was hard to find once upon a time. Like Dominic the Donkey, or I’m Getting Nuthin’ for Christmas, just to name a couple. But as the season playlist went along a couple of years ago, I noticed that I never heard any of these artists singing the other songs that were part of the playlists of my adulthood. No more Drummer Boy, Hark the Herald Angels Sing, or even The First Noel by some of the recent artists like Celine Dion. There’s even a really wonderful song, Jesus, Born on This Day by Mariah Carey, that will never be played there. It’s deliberately scrubbed all of the ‘reason for the season’ right out.

I’m not surprised, but I was disappointed that I couldn’t find even one channel that could be more impartial and offer a blend of ALL of the holiday music by currently active artists who are selling holiday recordings.

Y’know?

The Name Game

tracking+dorian1

Image found at flipboard.com

Some of my readers know my full name, and some don’t. I have my nickname, Dodi, listed here for my profile; but it’s a nickname for Dorian. Truth.

My last name I’ll keep quiet on, but it’s a word as well as a name. Like Golden, Finch, or Long. So when it’s on the doctor’s file folder, it looks like a description (e.g.: Golden, Dorian).

I’ve been sick for about two weeks, and did what I could to get better – until Wednesday. I just couldn’t deny I was really having trouble and stayed home from work to see the doctor. Though I was bad enough to need a breathing treatment, then an x-ray to see if I had pneumonia, I had a hilarious time talking with the desk crews about being named for a hurricane as well as being described perfectly by my last name. Since I got to meet the support folks for the doctor, then the xray department and then the giggling x-ray tech who couldn’t believe that he had a patient named Dorian – I had a cheerful segue from my health sorrows.

Co-workers at my office were teasing me about messing around with their holiday weekend when we left last week, and the jibing has continued to all of our happy “well this is different” fun. That included more sober moments as we were very sorry about the real situation that a terrible hurricane had visited on the Bahamas, as we’re not heartless or uncaring. It’s just been a bit fun to have something to be connected about since most of the day we are working at our computers in our cubicles with different teams and we just don’t talk to each other much.

So it’s been a week of feeling significant and noticed, and when you’re sick – that’s a nice lift out of the bucket of sorrows.

And I am finally on the mend with prednisone, zpack, cough meds and nebulizer meds working hard to get me breathing normally again; and my asthma in check as it needs to be for me to get better. Allergy season always stirs up something for my body to object to, but it’s because I crossed the 65 years of age line that I don’t mend as quickly or as simply as I am used to doing, doggonit!

I still work full time, so I will be happy to return to my cubicle on Monday and work on ransoming my hourly wages for the next pay period. No overtime allowed, so – I’ll be missing 14 hours no matter what. I’m grateful that I put some extra funds away last pay period, not knowing what it was for. Now I do!

Charitable Giving, Part 1

12902

Image found at mylifehouse.org.au

This is the time of year I begin working out my budget for Christmas. I blame my timing on being a parent more than anything else. At this time of year, there are variable school costs to factor into the budget, and I would begin to make layaways for school things.

Background: I grew up in mostly homes where we were using welfare options (government programs that disburse money and/or food to poor families with dependent children) to survive. Or, we were making do with austere measures to make sure everyone had most of what they needed. I longed for the lifestyles of other kids around me where they could ask for something and get it like a troll doll, or even a box of crayons with a large selection of colors. Clothing that didn’t have to be shared…

My husband and I were on or below the poverty level most of the time that we were raising our two sons. So I know what happens when you get your names submitted for food baskets, or go to the charitable food pantry to get something until the next paycheck arrives. I also have been on the charitable Christmas lists, and my children had tags with their names (first names only) and ages on Christmas trees for gifts for some years. I’ll have more to say about that in Part 2, but you can see that I know how significant a charitable gift can be, even when you can’t give hundreds of dollars to a major charitable organization.

For some of my readers in other countries, a “layaway” is when you go to a store with a wide variety of items to shop over, and they have a program that allows you to bring your choices to a place in the store where they ring up everything you want to buy on payments. They then wrap up and store the items until you pay off the balance due. You usually have to make a minimum down payment to secure the deal, but it may only be as little as 10%. There’s usually a deadline of six weeks or up to December 15th, when it’s less than six weeks to that date. They want their storage areas empty after that date, or if you can’t pay it off, they put it all back in the store and return your earlier payments. Some stores would even mark down the items you chose if the items went on sale during the layaway period, once computers got involved.

In recent years, some people have gone to large stores and offered to pay off any existing layaways when it gets close to Christmas. That has been a huge source of joy for the recipient families as you can imagine!

Once I paid my school clothing and supply layaways off, I would start to consider what my family said they longed for and would watch for the items that I might be able to afford to give them at Christmas. By October, I usually had a significant portion of money to use to secure a large layaway, and I had a means of payment figured out on schedule. I shopped at a store that would automatically apply sale prices to my items when they went on sale, too. The best part of that, is where I had clothing in the right size and colors already chosen and set aside, rather than sifting through picked over remnants for the cost. If I had toys that were high in demand in my layaway, I knew I wasn’t going to disappoint when other parents might have waited too long to get the favored item.

All of that, to say that since my family has flown the nest, and I have only one grandchild, I have enjoyed the happy option of being a charitable giver, rather than being a recipient of someone else’s giving. It’s not a pride thing at all, for receiving has taught me so much about compassion and kindness that giving can’t. But I honestly like this phase of life that gives me more options to give than I have had before.

Having said that, I have been a bit annoyed and frustrated to find out that some organizations are not being as active in their stated missions as I had thought. I’ve also been confused when someone says bad things about an organization’s expenditures apart from their mission, and then a different person testifies to how that same organization saved them in a very desperate situation with a generous option of help.

So I was very happy to find out about Charity Navigator. If you want to make sure your charitable dollars count as much as you want them to count, then check out each charity that you think sounds good to donate to at charitynavigator.org to see if your choice charity is doing their job. As far as I can tell, they explain their vetting process on the site, and how they grade the different organizations. It’s a great option to use when you want to “Be the change you wish to see in the world” as Ghandi advised.

I hope this helps us to be generous where we can, and willing givers even when it’s not a lot by some standards. Something is always better than nothing.

 

Potty Training

When my mother gave birth to my younger brother, Roger, I learned a lot of things about babies for the very first time. Most of what she did I borrowed from, since there were few specialty infant items on the market that our family could afford.

To give him a bath, she folded a towel and laid it in the water of the full sized tub, for his head. The water level never went over his belly until he could sit up on his own. He was also never to be left alone – especially after he’d learned to turn over. When she got him out, it was with a big bath towel to wrap him in, moving to a beach towel (or bath sheet) as he got bigger.

Since she used cloth diapers that I had helped her fold and then sew on the machine, we had a place for them to go until laundry day: the diaper bucket.

First, you put some Diaper Pure in the bucket, and then filled it ¾ full with water to dissolve it in. This was a powdered detergent that turned the water blue, so that the bluing could whiten any stains that might try to set. Be kind, this was the early 60’s, after all. Then you would secure a lid over the bucket so that any odors wouldn’t escape, as well as minimizing any spillage if it were knocked over.

Every wet diaper went straight into the diaper bucket as it was. Every poopy diaper had to be rinsed in the toilet first, to get out the stool, and then wrung out and deposited in the bucket. Of course you washed your hands after handling any of these soiled diapers. The baby’s bottom was wiped with a warm wash cloth, and then powdered or medicated if needed. Then you pinned both sides carefully, so that the point would poke YOUR finger before it would ever poke baby flesh. Making sure that the diaper was tight enough to stay secure, but not too tight to make baby uncomfortable. Finally, you put “rubber pants” over the cloth diaper. By that time they were truly plastic pants that were usually of the translucent variety. So the baby wouldn’t soil anything else with a soiled diaper, but so you could see if they were wet or poopy.

As the baby transitioned into “training pants” (we used the cheapest kind, made of terry cloth, like our wash rags), those would now go into the diaper bucket in the same way that their nighttime or naptime diapers did. Rinsing anything solid out before adding. If we ran out of clean diapers, we would occasionally use a dish towel (the right size, y’know?) to keep his bottom covered, and to absorb whatever landed there.

When my sister and I began having our babies, we both used a diaper service or disposables for our diapering processes. That included pinning them and covering the diaper with plastic pants to contain any damage. However, once they began potty training we similarly kept those diaper buckets for our use. It helped us keep the odors down and to get the under drawers clean if they had a problem. As the accidents happened less and less, we might hand wash the evidence and then put it in the regular laundry hamper after they dried.

What do the Moms of the 2000’s use for the training pants (I love underalls btw!) and underwear that gets accidentally soiled when you don’t have your own washer immediately available, or you have to use a coin operated washer/dryer? Just curious, and I know that there may be more than one method of macgyvering out there, chuckle.

Frosty Thoughts

footprints-on-a-frosty-lawn

There was a very thick frost waiting for me this morning, and I was enchanted and happy to see it.

The first frost of the season, no, the first real frost of the season and I – we go way back. Like, 61 years ago back.

My family and I had just moved from Buffalo, NY to Wheeling, IL. My birth mother told me it was Wheeling when I described the house as best I could. I couldn’t figure out where we landed before Arlington Heights, and after Buffalo. Anyway, apparently there were two levels to the home, and my bedroom window allowed me to look out into the back yard, which was fenced. I remember seeing that it had been coated with a translucent white cover, and couldn’t wait to go outside to get a better look. I ended up outside only briefly, so that I had to go back inside soon after I was able to examine what was out there and that it melted when touched.

The following day, I went outside and found that the grass was all flattened and browned, and my maternal grandfather told me it was the frost that had done it.  Later on, I noticed that someone had removed the wagon that was upside down on the lawn before. Where it had been, the grass was lush and green! I excitedly called someone grown up to look and see the patch of green grass. They did and then quickly told me it was because the wagon had protected the grass, but that it would turn brown, soon, too.  The next day I saw more frost, but the grass was still green under it where the wagon was. Then, the next memory had me seeing that it was now all golden and flattened.

What a wonder! Later, we got a decent snowfall, and my maternal grandfather helped me make a snowman. He did it all wrong from my point of view, since it was more of a mound with a peak and a round ball on top. Then he had the audacity to say it needed water on it! I knew that wasn’t right, since I’d never heard of that before.  Sure enough, as he added the water it began to dissolve the parts that it touched! He mumbled something I don’t remember and insisted that it would turn to ice – but it didn’t. I remember watching the snowman melt away to a little heap as days went by and finally a true snow fall covered the evidence nicely later on.

I loved being able to see things through the window, and then being able to go outside and see what the difference was between the “macro” view of my bedroom, and my “micro” view in the backyard. The frost was so delicate in my micro view, and it just impressed on me that it was more delicate when I would take the time to look at it closely.

So as I matured and grew, and had homes with poor window views, I began to value the micro views most. Seeing the lacy designs on the grasses and leaves was like seeing the lace on my Sunday underwear or hankies that were trimmed with lace. I found it incredible that it would just form that way, and learned in my parochial school that it was the Great Designer’s decision to make that repeatable beauty for me to notice every time it appeared.

Some doubters will talk of how molecules form these delicate designs, and all it brings me to see is that – Someone knew how to create a molecule in just the right way to generate frost.

How amazing!

The Best Journeys are Together

img_2408c I have been on a journey through this “sitting/standing through the Star Spangled Banner” thing; but please don’t quit on me until I get near the end of my message, k?

I have been thinking about the NFL protests that happened over the weekend, and my first take of it all when Colin Kaepernick did it was: He’s doing this wrong.

My understanding was that he objected to the national anthem because of some obscure verse that no one sings or teaches young impressionable students about.  I never heard/read that he was protesting the inequalities of every black person in the US – though many others have said they did.  So he came off very spoiled and confused, to me.

When some of the other players began to do it, I read that they were now attaching the inequities of persons of color in the US; but I felt that they are confusing everyone with what they are doing, and that they were doing it wrong.  The protest should clearly be set where the inequities lie, I figured, and I said so on Facebook.

Many others got angry and raised strident voices against desecration of the flag’s meaning and extended the protest against the military that dies under the flag they were protesting (it’s not just about the song anymore, somehow).  I saw that as shallow and angry thinking that just wanted a direction to spew.  I was not going to join it or have anyone thinking I endorsed it.

There were others who said that they were protesting the President’s recent behavior and remarks.  O puh-leeeze (rolls eyes).  Really?!?  I just can’t take that very seriously.

I joined the camp that stood with each foot in one of two places on Monday: I felt it was good that they were maintaining dignity with a peaceful protest that didn’t destroy property or injure anyone.  I applauded their right to speak their minds in this manner. It wasn’t even stopping the event that they were there to participate in – a sporting event.  However, I still felt they were doing it wrong as long as they were not protesting something that was clearly part of the inequities of non-white living in the US.  It was just too easy for people with truly good intentions to only see an argument about the anthem and the flag, and it wasn’t those nice person’s fault, but the bad planning of the protesters.  I also saw millionaires kicking sand in the faces of those who make their lives possible, and that’s just bratty.

I heard sincere and honest people pointing out that the NFL leadership only responded with solidarity this weekend because they felt their method of making money was being threatened.  Perhaps that’s true, but does it invalidate the message itself that they players were bringing forward?  I didn’t think so.  I have people I care deeply about who have more melanin in their skin than our current president does, and they aren’t getting the same benefits as almost all white citizens of the US enjoy.  It’s WAY better than it used to be, but it’s still a far cry from where we need it to be if this is ever going to be The Land of the Free.

See, I’m white; and I have always wanted to be free and casual with every person I met, no matter what their color or culture.  As long as we’re all people with good intentions, I think we can find ways to get past our cultural differences, and respect the places that have boundaries we’re not used to seeing.  Some will suggest that it is my white privilege and sense of entitlement that brought me to that world view, and I won’t argue that it isn’t true.  Even so, it seems right to me that we all need this view – and the safety to live it out – in order for world peace to live and thrive.

However, that kind of thing was impossible in the US that I grew up in during the late 50’s and early 60’s.  So I cheered when Dr. King began to show us all how to do the right thing, even if it wasn’t comfortable or acceptable to those with good intentions.  But he found a way to get their attention because of his concern for peaceful formats.  He found a way to nudge people out of complacency and to insist that they stop ignoring the things they were uncomfortable with, even if they weren’t insulted by the mere existence of the Jim Crow laws and other forms of extant discrimination during those times.

Dr. King was murdered, but the cause for human rights marched on, and good legislation happened to help rid our US culture of a despicable heritage and un-American behavior.  How could we claim that we were the home of the brave and free if we couldn’t ensure that every brave person was free?  Or even the ones who couldn’t be brave, or strong – didn’t they deserve freedom mercy and kindness?  Couldn’t these be the traits our country could be more known for?

The decades went on, and complacency began to set in.  I saw it, and I didn’t like it even though I wasn’t experiencing the terror of my sons getting shot in the streets for being threatening just because of their ethnicity.  I had friends who shared that fear, and I knew they weren’t the kind of people who would harbor fear unnecessarily.  Every family of color had a story of a relative no older than a grandparent who had suffered a great injustice because someone hated their melanin levels.  I wept with them, and knew that they had some reasons to resent my invulnerability to their experience.

When the protesters were asked if they hated the flag and those in the military who defend it, they have been very vocal in saying that the opposite is true.  They love what our country “says” it is in the constitution.  Since more persons of color serve in the military, and most (if not all) of the protesting players have relatives that have honorably served in the military and many who have some who are serving even now; there is no intention of putting the military in a bad light for any reason.  So it would seem that someone has been pushing that agenda as a smokescreen.  I nearly believed it, too.

In all of this time, I was willing to listen; and I worked hard to find and listen to the different voices of reason on both sides.  I watched many video bytes, and noted what was being put forward to explain what was going on – from both sides, as long as it stayed with the facts, and didn’t just fall into abusive, insulting, rants filled with vitriolic taunts and just plain anger.

Because I was willing to listen, I’ve learned a few things I didn’t know about and I’ve changed my mind.

My lifetime human hero has always been Dr MLKing.  I know his character may not withstand scrutiny; but his mission always did for me.  He did it right, and left a legacy that taught all of us what we should do when we have to object to something that others won’t see, or won’t address to resolve with the vigor it deserves.

I’m finally convinced that this is what these young men are doing, and I’m glad that I can finally see that, in spite of the confusion that I had to deal with.  Is there a better way?  I don’t know.  Maybe I don’t think so, now.

It’s been clear for a great long time that the issues of inequity and undeserved and unprovoked danger needs visibility, and it needed National visibility.  We need to sustain a dialog without fear or threat, but with concern and sincerity.  We need to make it safe to be vulnerable as others tell their stories – like we try to do for those who have been sexually abused – let’s make it safer for those who are racially abused.

The message is getting a halting voice, and there’s still some confusion about whether it’s valid or worthy; but at least it’s happening in the right way. I honestly think that even Dr King would smile and approve of this new dialog that has begun, though he’d wish people with good intentions would understand it better.

I’m a Cub Fan- For Reals

12108888_10207007939228817_1092036981629579781_n

I don’t know who to credit this photo to, but – it’s perfect.

The Chicago Cubs are in the World Series, and if you have been cloistered from reality somehow, and didn’t know that already, let me tell you that they are playing against the Cleveland Indians and two games have already been played.  Each team has won ONE game each, in Cleveland.  This Friday, they will play game 3 in Wrigley Field for the first time ever. Games 4 and 5 will also be played in that historic ball park before this weekend is over – barring significantly bad weather.

One celebrity fan, Bill Murray, won a Mark Twain Award (I’ll let you google that) this week, and someone with a microphone asked him what it felt like to have the Cubs playing in the World Series.  He said that he’d listened to the Sportscasters trying to explain what it feels like and they just don’t get it.  He was dead right.  All they can talk about is what hadn’t been invented or what else in history hadn’t happened yet.  That’s not the point for any real Cub fan.

When you’ve waited your whole life, almost seeing it happen several times, and staying faithful even during the years when you know the team is a disgrace on the field, you get a glimpse of what it means to be a Cub fan right now.

When you take all the trash talk about your team from the other side of town, and other teams that do better (cough*Cards*cough), you get another glimpse of the life and times of a Cub fan. Yet we will still wear our team colors with more pride than courage, and with more sense of thrill than grudging responsibility.  You may even begin to save and collect the best of all the slurs, as badges of creative honor. “They wouldn’t talk trash unless we matter,” we’d tell each other with a wink.

When your team’s playing field has more historic significance than your division opponents, but their win cycles have been more fruitful – you remain tenaciously steadfast anyway, bragging on the history of the edifice if not the skills of the team. And that’s when you begin to realize what a Cub fan’s life might be like.  You will appreciate how traditions have held us together (like throwing the other team’s ball back from the bleachers), and how folklore has helped name our businesses in ways no newcomer knows about unless a local lets them in on the lore (Billy Goat Tavern).

These are things no White Sox fan nor Cardinal fan has had their parents explain to them, nor have they had anything similar to explain about their team to their children.  It’s distinctly a part of the Cub fan traditions, and  there has been enough time for our children have told their children – even if they move to another state.  Because that’s what Cub fans do.  And when the Cubs come to play in our different states and stadiums, we tend to crowd out the locals who think that they are good enough fans for their home team.  We also tend to out shout them!

What other team has a tradition of a team song karaoke at the end of a winning game?  I bet they’ll all begin working on that, though, because that’s how memories and thrilling moments of “we’re all in this together” happen. And we began doing it while our team was referred to as “the lovable losers”, doggonit!

These are things most “johnny come lately” folks will never feel or fully understand.  It’s certainly nothing the sportscasters outside of Chicago Metro area can ever explain, either. That’s ok, because WE are the kind of fandom that might not like that you waited so long, but we’re still going to tug you into the fold and make sure that you sing louder on the chorus when we sing “GO CUBS GO”.

A Different Kind of Mother

 

2c89_God_Bless_Moms_without_verse

I’m pretty quiet about my birth mother in life and on FB, unless the subject comes up.

When I see someone post something mushy and in the way of tribute for motherhood, I will usually leave a message saying, “I’m so glad you had a wonderful mother.”  I’m tired of just passing them by, and it’s the honest truth.  I want every kid to have a nurturing parent who guides them in ways that give them the freedom to live out their passions.

The thing is, my mother was someone who was never diagnosed as mentally ill because she never had a problem with her Borderline Personality Disorder.  With her 8 marriages (married 2 guys twice), messy life decisions, and inability to manage most of her financial dealings, my siblings and I all ended up suffering from PTSD from dealing with her and her machinations.  It’s clear that she was narcissistic and didn’t perceive our hurts or fears as anything significant.  It was always about her and her dramas.  This meant we basically went without nurture during our neediest times in life.  It’s really hard to celebrate what you wished for but never got with any kind of consistency.

She was a charming woman with winsome traits when she wanted something from you, or even if she just wanted to be liked.  She took pretty good care of her appearance, and honestly tried to be some kind of good cheerleader in her later years, when BPD tends to be less intense for post-menopausal women.  I was a bit surprised by how lessened her behavior traits were until I read an article that said that the lowering of hormones did that.

It didn’t banish or cure her mental illness though, it just made it trickier to know when you were dealing with her or her illness.  Before, you always knew to just deal with the illness because the person behaving outside the traits didn’t last very long. With the new situation, where there was an equal time exhibition, you just tended to get hurt more often by not knowing when the shift happened.

So when my mother died in 2013, it was with a nearly audible sigh of relief that her children mourned her passing.  She died in a peaceful way in spite of her more cruel diseases.  But for the very first time, we didn’t have to brace for her erratic behaviors, her weird letters, beseeching phone calls, or her manipulative conversations to do what she wanted done in the way she wanted it done.  There would no longer be her odd comments that made you doubt something you were sure of before she spoke.

There would also be no more insightful comments on different family members who caught her attention, or jokes about things that needed to be seen in humorous ways, for she was intelligent and had a lively sense of humor.  There would also be no more thoughtful comments during her times of sanity that would bring me to a delayed epiphany.  There would be no more times for me to find another waterfall picture for her computer wallpaper, or comfortable hours where she relived her childhood for me, and introduced me to the people she saw as significant in her life.  Family folks would become more than names in a family tree carefully charted, but more like people with flesh and blood and dreams and fears  – and yes, even heartbreaks.

I lost many good things the day my mother died, and that still has some painful thorns on occasion.  But more than that, I lost a slippery slope of conflict and despair, and that’s where the relief comes in.

We honored her with a Memorial Service in her church – the very first they’d ever had. Most folks choose to use a Funeral Home.  Ma had her final arrangements made at the funeral home ahead of time, with a life insurance policy that paid for almost everything.  There was another life insurance policy to cover what the first didn’t.  So, she was thoughtful about not leaving us one more mess of hers to clean up – the good person who lived with a mental illness having reined the most at the end.  We were able to carry her urn into the church, so we didn’t have those huge fees of moving a body.  That’s how we were able to give her the kind of service I am sure she’d have been thrilled to see and be a part of.

The ladies of the church served us a lovely buffet, and we made sure they got something back for their trouble. The memory was such a time of healing for all of us who had endured our collateral damage from her mental illness. We needed that more than I can say.  We could all gather, her children, her siblings, dear close friends and others, to celebrate the things we admired about her in complete safety for once.  If we did that in her hearing while she lived, it usually would end up being used as a springboard for her next bad behaviors – so we were all very careful about what we said in her hearing.

So that’s why, when Mother’s Day comes along, I will pray for all of the mother’s I know of in my life, first.  But then I shift to pray for all of the kids – young and old – who have mother’s with mental illness who aren’t getting help for it or managing it in healthy ways.  I get it, and it’s not deserved.  Mental illness is neither the fault nor responsibility of the children.  Even if they do something plainly wrong, the reactions will frequently be from the illness and rarely from a careful response of correction.

But – we can come out of it with amazingly impressive life skills, if we get help to fix what we missed through recovery programs like Codependents Anonymous (something I resorted to as a way of managing her erratic behavior), or other therapeutic options for good self-health and healing.  Once I got a good handle on what was healthy and how to live it in my life better, it helped me to know how to celebrate the best of my mother, without being unguarded against her lesser version of life.  I knew how to deal with the worst of her behaviors, though it still wasn’t a desirable thing to endure. It was messy, and my timing could be off, but it was more manageable.

She’s healed where she is now, and that’s a very good thing for me to focus on.  I don’t want to reflect her bad stuff to my children or anyone else.  So, it helps to remember that we laid that bad stuff to rest on that lovely May day of her Memorial.

Happy Heavenly Mother’s Day, Mom.  I love you.  We’re all doing well, and we miss the good moments with you.  We miss the hugs (but not the rummage sale gifts – jus sayin).  So glad you’re getting the hugs you missed from your long lost beloveds, now.

Free Write Friday – Memory Prompt

Memory Prompt: Write about your earliest memory. Good, bad, happy or sad. Before you begin, take time to dwell in that memory. Absorb everything you can about it. What you see, what you smell, what you hear and mostly, how you feel. Let it resonate. Marinate your mind in that one moment. Then begin.

My very earliest memory I had confirmed by my birth mother.  At first, she said it wasn’t true, but later she decided that it was true after I added a few details and she remembered the incident.  “You have to remember that this wasn’t so significant to me, along with all of the other things going on at the time.  I mean, you were safe and everything was ok, so what was there to remember?”  Point taken.

I have a partial memory of just seeing my mother nursing my sister who was 24 months younger than I.  But it was just that, a curious “mental photograph”.  My first whole memory was when I was just over 2 years old, since my sister was already born. To begin with, I have to explain that I was an energetic bed rocker.  I would move my crib around with the force of my rocking I’ve been told.  My mother’s sister was living with us at the time, and she remembers that sometimes getting into the room was a challenge because the crib was against the door.

The memory begins with seeing something next to my crib (the window) and feeling surprised.  It was not usually there.  I apparently climbed out of my crib and fell through the window screen, to the ground below.  Because the next part of the memory was that I was laying on the ground (not feeling any injury). I was only wearing a diaper, and it was dark.  Then I was lifted up by a tall thin man with a hat.  He made nice sounds at me, and I felt just fine being held by him.  He carried me along, and soon there was a doorway that was very bright and my mother and aunt were facing us, making other sounds.  The man handed me over to my mother, and I was ok with that, but wouldn’t have minded staying with the man.  I was not frightened at all, or uncomfortable.

My mother put me back into bed after moving it, is the final part of the memory, and I was very disappointed that my interesting evening had ended so routinely.  I had an expectation for more excitement – and that is a strong element of my memory.  Being in bed was boring – finding a way out of bed was exciting!

 

fwfbadgenew

 

Image

Singleness Part 2

“People who have been single for too long are the hardest to love.  They have become so used to being single, independent and self-sufficient that it takes something exhqdefaulttraordinary to convince them that they need you in their life.” facebook/saranaveedwriter

What I really think the author was expressing above, was frustration with their search for a mate.  Probably someone who is over 35, and looking for someone who’s interested in being their partner.  The search is not bearing much fruit, and their pool of candidates is getting more and more small and shallow.

The reality is, that there are persons over 35 who have gotten comfortable with living alone, and have decided that sexual needs aren’t enough for making accommodations for a mate.  There are few other healthy needs that remain, once you have no need for sexual expression or parenting, when it comes to relating to other persons in any intimate relationship.  There are healthy social and familial reasons, but I’m saying there are FEW reasons for anyone to enter any relationship that necessitates intimate sharing or knowledge of another person beyond the sexual ones.

It’s not uncommon for single persons +35 to have made their choices based on some bad experiences (direct or indirect), or based on honest comfort levels.  Many of these individuals have already achieved parenthood or other goals that might have required a partner’s contributions to realize.  Or, they’ve decided they don’t need direct parenthood experiences to fulfill their enjoyment of life.  They may have connections with children they’ve been actively engaged with outside of being a parent, and that’s all they need to complete their sense of value and of a future that will continue beyond their own. That means those incentives are gone for making the kinds of life adjustments that sustained intimacy requires, at that point.

Some older singles are people who have gotten socially niched, and haven’t much contact with other persons on a personal level.  They often fail to learn that respect is a process that requires sustained effort, as is mutual interest or affection.  They somehow believe that it is always spontaneous and that these experiences with others are self sustaining if they are “real”.  This is an immature understanding of social relationships, and single people can learn better, but they have to be invested in some relationships in order to learn the lessons.  People in committed relationships are almost forced to realize these truths, or they will find that the relationship becomes less and less lively and rewarding, and a distance begins to grow.  These single persons can still be wonderful family members and friends, offering valuable viewpoints and adding to the talent pool for survival; but they’ve got some distinct limits and require some distance to keep from getting enmeshed in their drama.

In spite of all of these realities, many persons over 35 still actively hope to find satisfying relationships with other persons of their age and stage.  This will be more challenging for the reasons I stated in Singleness Part 1.  It’s not impossible, though.

What I want to mention in this part, is that the happiest relationships that I have seen where the two persons began their intimacy and commitment after that age, is when they both knew each other well during their younger years. If they knew each other well in high school, had dated before they were involved in other relationships, or were otherwise very involved in their earlier years in a platonic way, there is a strong possibility for a successfully enduring and rewarding relationship with one of these persons from the past – if they are available and not in a different relationship.

It also helps if they are adaptable and willing to make changes that may seem threatening to their psyche or their definition of self.  If you’ve always described yourself in this way, doing this thing, or never doing this thing – is it really a loss of your self-identity to change?  Would you be willing to give it up if someone you loved were to suffer a life changing event (illness or injury), and not resent it?  Then, don’t make it a bargaining chip with a new beloved.  It’s just part of finding new places to join a person’s life with yours to make an “our life” together.  They will need the courage to do the same.

I don’t want to make this seem simple or easy – because it’s certainly worth it.  But only if you have found someone who enhances who you are, and says that you do the same for them – and you can believe it.

Above all – do NOT go into this kind of thing on your own whim, without support from friends and family.  They will know what’s hurting you before you do, sometimes.  Also, rely on couples counseling.  These professionals have learned what sabotages intimate relationships, and they’ll help you and yours to overcome the pitfalls that are most common, and some that may seem uncommon.  They also help you to ask the hard questions.  So – keep the outside relationships strong enough to support the effort, and give it a go if you think you’ve met that special someone!

If you are like me, and you’re really comfortable with life as a single person – don’t feel like you’re damaged goods.  We have the freedom of accepting invitations without consulting others, and when we’ve made a mistake, we don’t have to feel guilty about putting someone else in trouble with our mistakes.  Life as a single adult is enriching and wonderful – but we have to force ourselves to keep our social contacts fresh and strong in order to avoid being too self-absorbed.  But- that’s a blog for another day.