Advice for What It’s Worth…

There is no such thing as a simple wedding…

Which makes sense because there is no such thing as a simple life (which doesn’t mean it’s a bad idea to work towards simplicity…I believe it’s called living in hopefulness)

Simple and small weddings turn into large and complicated weddings because life tends to do the same as we go about living it.

Who to invite, location, decorations, registries, Pinterest don’t get me started on this topic), food, drinks, showers, transportation, and the list goes on and on.

Oh, did I mention the lists?  List after list of things to do and buy and organize and plan for…lots and lots of lists.

And all of this is mixed into a daily life that doesn’t always get the memo that something new is happening.

For what it’s worth, here is some advice based on what I’ve learned from our wedding.

Do not, under any circumstances, spend three weeks out of the month before the wedding with the flu, allergies, another virus and a relapse of the flu.  You will try to soldier on, but end up spending hours in a fog losing every list and forgetting everything that everyone else thinks you are doing.

Being ill will result in you forgetting important things like the fact that people will be staying in your home and will need to eat meals.  The house will not be cleaned and food will not be planned.  Realizing that you forgot this fact just hours before the guests arrive will be a humbling experience to say the least.

Next, do not head out to the non-rehearsal dinner on a limited amount of sleep and leave the wedding cakes securely wrapped in saran-wrap in the center of the very tall kitchen island.

When you return home after a few glasses of wine, you will hear your oldest daughter asking from the kitchen, “Where are the cakes?”

You will answer, “On the kitchen counter wrapped in saran wrap where you left them.”

The cakes will not be there…or anywhere else that you search in your sleep-deprived state.  You will search the oven, the microwave, the top of the closet, the laundry room, the bathroom and other ridiculous places before your husband thinks to go look under the ramp in the back yard.

Sure enough, there you will find the cardboard circles and the saran wrap, but no cakes. Even under intense interrogation, none of the dogs in the house will confess, or even explain, how they gained access to the cakes.

At midnight the night before the wedding, your husband will travel the 45 minutes to and from the grocery store to get more cake mix.

I would like to tell you that it is possible to handle this situation with grace and patience, or even with humor.  I don’t know if it is possible.  I do know that we did not.

And do not waste time lamenting the projects you did not get done.  The signs that were unpainted and the decorations forgotten at the house.  And by the way, no matter how much you plan, your errand runners will make the trip back to the house many, many times.

If you forget the marriage license, for example, someone can always kindly volunteer to run it to the pastor’s house the next week.  Not that I would ever do something like that.

And most importantly, on the day of the wedding, when your daughter walks down the pathway with her beloved, just be in the moment.

Realize how beautiful she is and how happy she looks.

Know that it was all worth it.

And don’t worry about the fact that the Kleenex you are opening and using still has the clearance tag attached to the back of it.

The little stuff doesn’t matter.

It never does.

 

 

A Day in the Life/Wednesday Edition

So, in an effort to avoid the continuing drama out there in the big world, I’m going to share “a week in my life”…an exciting moment by moment chronicle of my simple life.  (The exciting reference was sarcasm by the way).  I’m going to focus on the part of the world where I have a tiny bit of control over what’s happening.  Sometimes the whole world is just to much to deal with for my anxious, perfectionist, all-or-nothing personality.

Wednesday is a paid work day for me…at least the morning portion.  I shop with my sister to purchase food and necessities for a home for the mentally handicapped.  Up at 7:00 a.m. which is early for me, and out the door by 7:30 to go pick up the van and my sister and head out.  We start out at Wal-Mart and then head over to HEB to finish up.  The list is usually about the same each week and we’ve got a good routine going. Just normal stuff; meat/protein, lots and lots of produce and veggies, a few treats and other fixings. Usually two carts at Wal-Mart and four at HEB.  We shop both stores in an effort to get the best deals and keep expenses down.  We fill up the van and after stopping by Sonic for our usual, we head back to drop off the groceries.

While I’ve been out, my youngest daughter is expected to tidy up her room and start on school.  She has a reading list to work on and we use a couple of resources on the computer that she can work on while I’m gone.

When I get home about noon-time, we fix something for lunch and then relax for a bit. Yesterday was my husband’s day off and that can change up the afternoon a bit.

As I was eating lunch and catching up on my email and facebook, I saw a posting from a friend who volunteers at the Regional Animal Shelter.  She posted a picture of a nine year old Basset hound named Speedy.  I know what you might be thinking.  Believe me, I was thinking the same thing…there is no way in hell that I need another dog.  Especially not an old Basset hound.  But…I was also thinking “a nine year old Basset hound sure doesn’t need to be in “doggie jail” because his owner decided that he couldn’t afford him anymore and that he was too much trouble .  I told myself that someone else would surely adopt him.  He would be fine.  And then I told myself that I needed to go get that dog.  My youngest agreed after seeing his picture. My husband looked at me and picked up the car keys…I sure did marry a good man.

Off we went.  We agreed to just meet “Speedy” and see how it went.  Once we got there, it turns out that Speedy has a golf-ball sized tumor just under his tail that needs to be evaluated so we have him on a “medical foster”. That means they cover his medical expenses until the situation is resolved and then we can adopt him if we wish.

He is a sweetheart.  Totally Basset.  The world is his to explore and he will walk all day long on a leash.  He has instantly bonded and adopted  my youngest daughter.  He walked into her room, jumped up on her bed and settled in for a nap. Well, first thing he did was find the food dish, of course.  Youngest really wants a cat, but has decided that he’s a pretty good substitute since a cat can’t happen.  Second daughter’s fiance is deathly allergic to cats.

Unfortunately, Barret the dog, or B-dog as we’ve started calling him, is not taking too well to to the new addition yet.  Last night was spent taking the dog’s for a walk together in a non-threatening environment and periodically bringing Speedy out of the bedroom to see Barret in the living room.  Barret had to stay on the leash during these visits and pretty much acted as if Speedy was unwelcome (in a violently aggressive, teeth-gnashing, lunging, and terrifyingly vocal sort of way).  It wasn’t looking good.  Speedy spent the night in his room.  Barret spent the night in ours.  No blood was shed.

The day’s “plan” got derailed by my impulsive decision.  The laundry load-of-the-day didn’t get done.  The dishes didn’t get caught up.  I un-decluttered the one item out of the box – a worn-out sheet that is now being used as bedding for the new dog.

Nothing further got done on the yard.  The homeowner’s association is okay with the progress that we have made, but I have lots of ideas for projects that I want to work on now.  The work that we’ve gotten done has inspired me to keep on going.

Very little actual “school” got done unless you count visiting the animal shelter and seeing what that is like.  Youngest daughter had never been and now has a better idea about what happens to unwanted animals and pets and the very real struggle to deal with an impossible situation.  We talked about responsibility, ethics, solutions, and the possibility of volunteering.  We also discussed self-care, being responsible for ourselves and working out how to build strong boundaries to protect ourselves when dealing with the world.

There is so much that needs to be done to make the world a better place.  I often get overwhelmed and wonder if anything that I do is enough.

Looking back on Wednesday, I am okay with the day.

I lived into the needs of the day.

I didn’t save the world.

My house isn’t spotless.  Everything on the school to-do list didn’t get checked off.  I didn’t declutter anything.  I didn’t make progress on the extensive home improvement projects.   The laundry isn’t done.  We had cereal for dinner.  All potentially failures if I choose to look at it that way…

However, the residents at Hope House had what they needed to be cared for properly. A dog had a warm bed and a lot of attention instead of a concrete floor for the night.  I walked over ten thousand steps for the third day in row.  Everybody in the house had clean clothes to put on this morning and there was still cereal for breakfast.

We all made it through the day healthily and happily.  Our needs were met.  We hung out together and had some fun.  We cleaned up some dog poop.  We watched some T.V.  We cleaned up a little more dog poop.  We met a new neighbor on one of our walks.  The dog pooped outside.

We did no harm and did a little bit of good.

I’m learning to be okay with that.

I want to fix the world.  I want to stop injustice, and right wrongs, and heal the world.  I want everything and everyone to be happy and have what they need.  I want people to stop being mean to each other.  That’s all part of my anxious, perfectionist, all-or-nothing personality.

It’s a little unrealistic.

I am learning to find balance and live with imperfection.

…start with me and work out from there…doing no harm and being kind

 

 

Seeking Normal

Once upon a time there was a woman on a journey.  She started this journey many, many years ago although she didn’t realize it’s importance at the time.  Maybe she realized that it mattered, but she didn’t really define it or name it or make plans for it until fairly recently.

Initially, when she was a child, she just wanted to find normal and be normal and fit in.  That was the extent of her life plan. She didn’t think much beyond doing the next “normal” thing.

As a young child she just wanted to stay in one place longer than a year.  She didn’t want to move every June and be the new kid in school every September.  She wanted to have a birthday party and invite other kids that she actually knew and hadn’t just met.

As a teenager she just wanted a pair of blue jeans.  It was the seventies.  Every teenager wore blue jeans.  Even the really poor kids who were on free lunch and had to ride the bus to the elementary school to eat.  She was a junior when she finally got a pair of jeans – plain pockets from J.C. Penney’s.

She went to college like she was supposed to.  She majored in English because she promised her Dad she would get a teaching certificate so she would always have a job to fall back on.  She had no intention of teaching and snuck in an extra major in Art because that’s what she really loved.

Somewhere along the line she quit making art because it was time to be a grown up.  In her “normal” world, normal people didn’t make art.

Normal people got married, bought a house and had kids – in that order.  They also had credit cards and two cars.  This means that they had debt.  They had jobs – both Mom and Dad – so that they could buy all of the stuff that they needed.  Each kid had their own room and lots of toys and a big yard to play in.

So, she got married.  This was most definitely not a mistake.  He turned out to be a really great guy who loved her and stuck with her through times that any sane man would have run away from.

She had four kids.  Also, not a mistake.  They are beautiful human beings that amaze her with their talent, self-confidence and abilities – despite the fact that she raised them and was pretty clueless most of the time.

The house was really a good idea also.  She worked to make it a home – the home that she had longed for all of her life.  A place she didn’t have to leave against her will. She had vowed that her family would stay in one place and they pretty much did.  They did move, but never left the same general area.  She provided her family with the stability that she never had.

Then one day the kids started growing up.  She had time.  She started making art again.  And she started thinking – about herself and her life.

She thought about the choices she had made and the ones she hadn’t made.  The path she had travelled looking for “normal”.  She thought about the time she had spent on “auto-pilot” because there just wasn’t the time or energy to be introspective and thoughtful.

She started looking around and realized that “normal” didn’t really exist.  At least not the way she had thought.  Everybody had their own idea of normal.

The first really big eye-opener came when her children started living their own lives and made choices different than the ones she had made.  Honestly, some of their choices seemed a bit scary to her.  She worried about them.  She kept her mouth shut (most of the time).  She watched and marveled and learned.

She pondered her choices and decided that there wasn’t a whole lot she regretted.  Each choice had contributed to the person that she had become and she liked herself well enough.  But, she decided that there were things that she would like to change and she resolved to do so.

…To hell with seeking normal.  She decided it wasn’t too late to find her own way and to stop trying to conform to an ideal that had never existed in the first place.  She realized that this was a hard thing to do.  It’s difficult to deviate from a path that you have travelled for so long.

Then, one day she met a young man – a pretty cool guy.  Smart, educated, thoughtful and caring, he had a wide variety of interests and was brave…so very brave. His “normal” was very different from hers.  He carried a magic backpack that was much like Mary Poppin’s bag.  From it he pulled everything he needed.  He needed very little.  He travelled light and was confident that he could meet his needs and wants without owning a lot of stuff.  She was very glad to have met him.

She was coming to the realization that her journey on the well-worn path meant that she often didn’t really look at the world around her with open and inquisitive eyes.  What had she missed?  What had she categorized as normal and not normal?  What limits had she put on herself and those around her?

She found joy in her realization that she was leaving the path she was on and was making a conscious decision to wander.

 Not the End.

Anniversary

Once upon a time…

Towards the end of my first semester at college in 1979, my roommate decided we needed to go out.  I wasn’t at all interested, but she insisted.  I remember that I didn’t dress up:  Flannel shirt, jeans, hiking boots, no make-up.  Fine – I’ll go, but I don’t want to.

We went to a place called The 16th St. Station.  Not a club, a bar.  To call it a “dive” would have been generous.  It was, however, hugely popular with the college crowd.

As we entered the area with the pool tables, I didn’t notice the tall, skinny and drunk cowboy leaning on a pool cue.  He apparently noticed me, because within just a few minutes he shouted across the room, “You’re the girl I’m gonna marry.”  He was looking right at me.

Right.  Not interested.  At all.  “Leave me alone, you drunken cowboy.”

The next week he called me.  He asked me to go on a date.  I said yes.  Why?  No clue.

We get in his car and drive to the Station.  He’s forgotten his wallet.  Why am I not surprised?  Why am I even here?  We drive back to his dormitory’s parking lot and proceed to talk into the early hours.

We started dating.  He continued to assert that we would marry.  I continued to disagree.

Fast forward to May of 1983.  We graduate.  He is no longer asking me to marry him.  So I asked him.

On September 11, 1983 we get married.

Today, September 11th, is our 31st anniversary…some rough years, some awesome times, a mixed bag of love, friendship, patience, yelling, crying, endurance, tolerance and stubbornness.

He taught me what love is.  He gave the word love definition and meaning.

Happy anniversary David.  You are my best friend.  I’m planning on happily ever after and on being there for…

The End.