Give thanks

This is a day to stop and think of all the things we have in this life. There are so many basic things that we often forget to mention. I am grateful for life first of all….the ability to get up each morning is amazing no matter how the rest of the day goes. Just living where I can breathe the salt air is a joy. There is so much beauty in the earth around us. I am grateful for food and a home. I love my family and friends. No matter what up and down things life brings love has always raised me up.

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May your day to be thankful help you to see the wonder of your life.

A life lived

leaving the church0001When I think about all that life has offered me I am overwhelmed with gratitude. Soon    ( November 15th) I will have my 78th birthday. It is hard to believe. So much time has passed but it feels as if it were yesterday. My childhood with amazing parents and family. Even my mother’s long term illness which taught me so much about life blessed me and taught me endurance and persistence in the face of adversity. I think my anxiety was connected to her near death but life moved on as she chose to accept her restrictions and live.

College aided my growth as I struggled with IBSD and later an episode of Ulcerative Colitis. Graduation brought marriage to my amazing husband in 1962 and anxiety took a back seat for many years. Strangely enough the birth of 3 children brought me no stress but continued joy. They are all married with children of their own and one great grandchild.

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all six grandchildren – youngest now 9th grader

It is easy to look back and see things that I would like to have done differently but those are the things we learn with age and experience. Wouldn’t it be nice to see that wisdom early on. The only thing that we can do is to share it with other generations and hope that some of it rubs off. When we are young we are so good at turning away from the wisdom of our elders. Our society doesn’t help as it is so youth focused. Too bad we are not part of the cultures that honor their elders and appreciate their wisdom.

I have had trials that tested my endurance and moments that have provided great joy. That seems to be the sum of life as we age. We can look back and contemplate the rough and the smooth and see the ways we withstood it all.

Long life is a true blessing and I am thankful for all of it….the good and the bad. It has made me who I am.

grands

Am I an elephant?

On the way home today I was listening to another of The No 1 Ladies Detective Agency. Something was said that set me to thinking. What kind of animal are you? Not what kind of animal would you like to be but what kind you are most like.

It does require some thought. Am I like a dog who loves more than life itself? I doubt it. Am I like a cat….independent and quiet? NO. So what animal am I like? There are many to choose from.

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I am social so I am like dogs with that. I can be anxious like a ground hog sticking its nose out to see if it is safe. I am curious…poking my nose into places where I shouldn’t like monkeys.

 

 

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I can be lazy like a sloth. I am caring about my family like elephants. At times I can be unapproachable like swans. (If you have never been around swans…trust me…they are territorial)

There are always quizzes on Facebook to tell you what animal you are like but we each have traits in common with animals. The exercise of matching up your traits with different animals is an enlightening experience. It makes you explore yourselves and see some of the good and some of the bad.

elephant

 

What animals are you most like and what are the traits that you see in yourself?

A letter to my grandchildren: Part One – Love

I have decided to write some thoughts for my grandchildren over time. This is the first.

to-my-grandchildren

I think that I have lived long enough to share some things that I have learned in my life. As we grow and age we learn from everything we have been through. We probably learn the most from our mistakes.

LOVE

As I write this only one of you is married but I want all of you to take this to heart. Love and living together is a tricky thing. We are joined to another person whose upbringing and life experiences are different from ours. They have had good and bad in their lives and some things will trigger memories that will translate into actions and reactions. The same is true of you.

The things we have been through in our lives can cause us to react in ways that don’t actually fit the current situation. It happens because that memory has left scars that hurt when exposed. Think about how hearing a certain song can take you back to the memory you have of that moment. For a brief time we are back there experiencing those feelings. Another description might be that we have recorded certain events with their feelings attached and they will pop up when triggered.

When there is a reaction to something said or done that surprises or hurts you see if you can discover what is behind it. You may be angry but let that go. If you can spend the time to discover what is underneath your significant other’s or your action you may be able to understand and accept it. This is not easy in the heat of argument or upset but it can save so much pain in the long run.

As an example, someone in pain may be negative about everything. This may not be normal for them but they can’t help it at the moment.

There will be days when you may question your love for another. This culture has taught you that love is a feeling. That is NOT TRUE. Love is a decision. Never ever forget that. That excitement that you felt when you were first together may come and go through your relationship. Time spent on your relationship can help to keep that feeling in your love….but not every day, every moment. It can come and go. That does not mean that the love is gone.

Being with someone long term is work. And it is worth it. Today people jump from one person to another looking for something that they may never find….wanting to hold on to that passion and excitement…..like cows reaching under the fence to get the grass on the other side. The problem is it will not be better forever.

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Each morning you need to make the decision to love that person and then act on it. Having been married for 56 years I can tell you it is worth it.

(Obviously, there are exceptions to this. There can be truly bad relationships that need to be ended but I think today we are too quick to run away.)

For further thought this is part of the Greek’s description of long standing love:

  1. Pragma, or longstanding love                                                                                                           …..described it as a mature, realistic love that is commonly found amongst long-established couples. Pragma is about making compromises to help the relationship work over time, and showing patience and tolerance.

The psychoanalyst Erich Fromm said that we expend too much energy on “falling in love” and need to learn more how to “stand in love.” Pragma is precisely about standing in love—making an effort to give love rather than just receive it. With about a third of first marriages in the U.S. ending through divorce or separation in the first 10 years, we should surely think about bringing a serious dose of pragma into our relationships.

from: https://www.yesmagazine.org/happiness/the-ancient-greeks-6-words-for-love-and-why-knowing-them-can-change-your-life

 

 

Do children feel secure?

Today at lunch with friends we were told about a family who lost a 10 year old son to suicide. He shot himself in the head. Later the family lost another son to drugs. This is a loving family and their relatives say there was nothing wrong with their childhood. The younger child was bullied and I don’t think the other son ever got over his brother’s death.

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It scares me that suicides are occurring in such young children. It’s hard to know why. I know that our exposure to so much data may be part of the answer. A child growing up when there was no media would probably never know anyone who committed suicide and certainly would not be bullied on line. There was some bullying in school when I was a child but it was nipped in the bud by the teachers. This was also the era when parents believed the teacher and usually there was some sort of punishment to follow for the child. Things have really changed.

Now we are so exposed to all the terrible events around the world that to take a gun and shoot oneself or someone else is not unusual. Exposure desensitizes us.

There is so much anxiety and depression in children. I have mentioned that I see it as being related to parenting in such a way that children do not have a safe base….a place where there are rules and secure love. Children need limits. No limits is a scary thing. It means that no one cares what you do. No one loves you enough to set limits for you.

safe child

I can see some changes in parenting recently and I hope that the changes are for the better. I so want to see children grow up loved and secure.

Bad days and families

dancingFamilies are wonderful and terrible things. When we are connected to others life is not always smooth. I am a fixer. I always want to solve problems, smooth over disagreements and mend hurt feelings. I said I want to. That doesn’t mean that I always can and sometimes even trying can make things worse.

This past week I did just that. I had a personal melt down. It upset my husband who upset other parts of our family. For a change it started with me. I am consumed with guilt and pain for having an emotional crisis and setting off fireworks.  The truth is life happens.

My age puts me at the top of the pyramid. I realized that after the loss of my father, mother and all older family. When you get to be the oldest generation you are stuck with results of that position.

I have noticed that at times my family members show signs of expecting my husband and I to sink into senility. I can sense the anxiety about future plans forming in their heads. What will happen to mom and dad?

It’s funny and sometimes upsetting to be where we are. My melt down had nothing to do with this but I think that changing family roles is another change to add to my list. Maybe it just all fused into one bomb. I know that I will be pariah for a while and have made abject apologies to those I upset. Life goes on.

shiney day

Each day is precious. Don’t let the bad days color all the rest. We all make mistakes and will have to take responsibility for our actions and then move one.

The sun will rise tomorrow, God willing, and so will I.

How are the children?

family-counseling-main-58a72ddc45d4aSchool is starting here and it has made me think about children. I have a great concern about the children of today. They have so much to overcome. I haven’t read the statistics lately but I wonder how many of them come from homes with divorce or unmarried parents or any home that feels unsteady. The climate today is ok with there being children and no marriage.  I certainly don’t condemn the people who choose to live this way but I do question how it is for the children. Marriage doesn’t necessarily help to keep people together but there may be more incentive to think harder about the decision to separate.

To get to the point I am worried for children who grow up in uncertainty. I don’t know that so many of us did in the past. Children need a base. They need a place of safety. Somewhere that feels rock solid. It doesn’t have to be a place….it can be a relationship. That place of safety allows a child to reach outside of that circle without fear. We all need some place to stand anchored.

relationshipsWhen parents have little commitment to each other and no incentive to stay together that place of security is threatened. Children need to know that there is a safe place in their world.  This doesn’t mean that it can’t be found in the new ways of living but I co think it is harder and may have to be more intentional.Without a safe stand they may seek it elsewhere and it may not be someplace that is really safe.

This has been difficult to put into words that aptly explain what children need. I hope I have, at least, gotten my thoughts across.