Archive for ‘life lessons’

September 30, 2008

Out with the old… well… maybe not all of it.

So, as I had mentioned – we are in the process of cleaning out and purging things in my home.  Or at least trying to.  Sort of too much going on at once, I think – on top of all the usual hustle and bustle. 

We are trying to paint outside.  Also, re-decorating and moving DS1back into his own room again…   giving his little brother his current room.  Basically, they are swapping.  But, this involves ripping down the old Winnie the Pooh wall paper and stuff that they’ve both outgrown, to finally make room for “cool” stuff.  I really hate to see Winnie go….  but, I guess in this house of boys that are getting bigger, I’m the only one who still likes him.  Poor Winnie.  =(

I’m also trying to clean/organize my office.   I emptied out an old closet, where I had shoved a blanket that belonged to my father.  I put it there right after my Dad died years ago.  When I was cleaning on Saturday I found it…  it was like a solid reminder of my Dad, ya know? It was the one my Dad always used – on the couch, in his room, and at the end, in the hospital.  When he passed away, I wasn’t there…  I had finally taken my pregnant self home for a bit of sleep – levaing my brothers with him.  I think, that was what he wanted.  Bright and early on a Sunday morning, my brother called to tell me he had passed away.  I went up to the hospital to see him one last time.  There he was with this blanket…  

After that, my oldest brother had brought the blanket home from the hospital, washed it, and brought it to me – and I told him I didn’t want it. We actually argued about it a bit… and he was insistent that I keep it.  He told me, someday I would want it.  I didn’t believe him at the time… 

I wrote a poem about it yesterday – “The Blanket”.

Imagine that.  My oldest brother being right about something????   LOL ;)

I wonder if I have to admit that to him also??  It totally goes against my little bratty sister image that I still have even after all these years…   ;)

~smj

February 6, 2008

The Music of Dolphins (by Karen Hesse)

The Music of DolphinsWhat a cool book !!

My 11 year old brought this home from school today – tells me his reading group has to read it. 

I flip it open.  And, on first impression I think it looks like it’s WAY below his reading level. He’s in 5th grade, but has always read at least a year ahead of his grade level.  He’s been reading Harry Potter and the likes for years… and I thought, “come one.  are they even TRYING to  CHALLENGE him???”

He’s also in a reading group, where he’s the only boy – and I thought this looked like a “girl” book that he wouldn’t like. 

I ask him how he likes it so far, and to my surprise he starts going on and on…  about a girl… raised by dolphins…  he doesn’t quite understand whats happening yet.  He’s just getting into it, but he’s obviously intrigued.  He says, “here… just read the first chapter – it will explain”. 

So, I read it to my 5 year old for his bedtime story.  He falls asleep… and I kept reading… and reading.. and reading.  I finished it. 

What a pleasant surprise.  I LOVED this book!  Here’s a little info on it from AMAZON:

“From School Library Journal
Grade 4-8-This audio version of the book by Karen Hesse (Scholastic, 1969) is spellbinding. Mila has been raised by dolphins. When the Coast Guard discovers her, she is taken to a research facility and has to adjust to living with humans. She slowly acquires language and develops a love for music. Her love for music gives her insight into the human world yet allows her to remain connected to her dolphin world. Mila is very observant of her human caretakers and asks thought-provoking questions as to why humans behave as we do. The narration by Michele McHall and the original musical score enhance the story. McHall portrays the young Mila with a youthful voice; as Mila matures so does her voice. The musical score evokes the sounds of the sea and the dolphins. Mila will linger in the minds of listeners even when the tape is over. This extraordinary tale will enchant listeners and be popular in middle school and public libraries.
Ginny Harrell, William McGarrah Elementary School, Morrow, GA “

It starts off like a child writing it… as she learns about “humans” and language.  As she learns, the text in the book gets stronger… flashbacks into her life with the dolphins…. but, really all about human nature… promises… family… togetherness… music… feelings.  What matters in life… and, how humans often fail miserably at it all.  She wants to go back to the dolphins…. and you can’t blame her. 

I thought the writing was poetic.  Lots of metaphors.  I can see where it will lead to good discussions.  What a pleasant surprise. 

Tomorrow, my son and I are sneaking out early for one of our walks with our dog before school and work.  I will have to make a real effort not to ruin any of it for him.  I look forward to his take on it all, though.  He’s into music… and has a  heart of gold.  I’m sure he’ll identify with Mila, even though she’s a girl. 

How cool is it that my son and I can actually get in conversations about “deep” stuff like this now.  Very cool.  11 is fun. 

 =)
~smj

February 1, 2008

Times like these you learn to…

So, while I was sick yesterday… home by myself… and felt like I was dying – I started to realize how it stinks being the grown up.  Nobody to cater to me anymore…  and then, I narrowed that down to it really stinking that my Dad wasn’t around anymore.  Because, regardless of whether I was grown up or not, he still treated me like his child.  Which I admit had it’s ups and downs, when he lived with me – but, at times like these it was a good thing. 

I couldn’t help thinking to myself that “if Dad were still alive”… he would have been checking in on me… asking me if I needed anything… going to the store and getting me things that he always got me when I was sick.  Things like ginger ale, and sherbert.  He would have come down the stairs to check on me and bring me anything I wanted. 

Stairs for him were a big deal – he didn’t do stairs very often due to his very bad legs. He literally couldn’t go up and down stairs like a normal person.  His legs just didn’t bend like that (due to the fire he was in when he was a kid).  But, he would have scooted down the stairs, one by one on his butt… and crawled back up them on his hands and knees for me.  He always did…  He always spoiled me.  Especially when I was sick.

Suddenly, I was overwhelmed.  By just how much he really did love me.  By just how much I really miss him.  I miss that kind of attention and love.  Only a parent can love you like that.  Then, I a flood of other memories of him swept in… and the next thing ya know I’m bawling…  by myself…  tears flowing. 

All of a sudden I notice what is playing on my TV in the background.  It’s a Foo-Fighters video to a song that I never really paid any attention to before…  but, suddenly I hear this guy (Dave Grohl)  singing, over and over… more passionately towards the end… he’s  singing;

“it’s times like these you learn to live again
it’s times like these you give and give again
it’s times like these you learn to love again
it’s times like these time and time again”

I stop crying and listen. 

It’s like this song is playing just for me.  

Everything stops.

The song.

My crying.

I turn off the TV.

Force myself to get up and wander into the kitchen.  I pour myself a glass of ginger ale, and get a small dish of sherbert.  (I had bought some for my boys because they were sick.)  And, I stumble back to bed… 

~smj
 

I am a one way motorway
I’m the one that drives away
then follows you back home
I am a street light shining
I’m a wild light blinding bright
burning off alone

it’s times like these you learn to live again
it’s times like these you give and give again
it’s times like these you learn to love again
it’s times like these time and time again

I am a new day rising
I’m a brand new sky
to hang the stars upon tonight
I am a little divided
do I stay or run away
and leave it all behind?

it’s times like these you learn to live again
it’s times like these you give and give again
it’s times like these you learn to love again
it’s times like these time and time again

January 20, 2008

To me… when I was 13…

Whelp… I’ve been tagged… by Rebecca from her “Fictional Reality” blog.   The idea is to write a letter to yourself when you were 13.  This was her post – “Tag! You’re it!, and is a good read that leaves one wondering… “what exactly happened at her cousin’s wedding anyway??”.  =) 

It is funny that not too long ago, I wound up writing a post called “If I could go back in time… “.  In that post, I wound up writing about what I would tell myself if I could go back 6 years ago… when I was pregnant with my 2nd son, had a 5 year old son, and was taking care of my dieing father. 

I didn’t plan to write it… it just rolled off…  and the really weird thing is that only a couple days later, I wound up face to face with a pregnant woman – pregnant with her 2nd son, and she has a 4 year old son, and she had just lost her mother.  I wound up in a deep conversation with her, even though we hardly knew each other… and, saying many of the same things to her that I had just written about.  I wrote about this in the 2nd half of my post on “2008 – It’s gonna be a GOOD year…”. 

Anyway – now, I’m faced with writing to my 13 year old self… and I can’t help but wonder if there is some poor 13 year old out there, that is  going thru a similar time that I had, and will suddenly appear after this post and engage me in deep conversation…   ???  Wouldn’t that be something???

Before I begin my letter, I’d like to say that I remember being 13 very well…  and I have my old diary to remind me of just where my mindset was those days.  At that time, I was going thru some major rebellion and learning curves of my own.  I sort of doubt that I would listen to any adult back then too much…  probably not even myself since I’m now “old”.  LOL  But, also true to my nature then and now, I will tell myself what I think should be said, whether the 13 year old me wants to hear it or not!   So, here goes….

Dear Samantha Mariah Jane… 
(yes, I know that is not your real name…  and I do not know WHY your mother always called you that…. and it’s even MORE of a mystery as to why 29 years later you would chose it for your blog name?? What’s a “blog”, you ask?  Ohh… never mind!)

I know you don’t think anyone can possibly understand where you are coming from, or how you feel…  but, you should know that if anyone can, I can.  And, all in all, I don’t think you need too many pointers. You actually did a pretty darn good job of surviving your teen years, and you obviously make it thru alive.  Better yet, you make it through with a rather positive outlook on life and a smile on your face. You have a better head on your shoulders than you realize… and all in all, you have a pretty good life.  But, now that I’m 41, I can think of a few things that might have been nice to know when I was your age (13).   So, maybe, jusssssssssssst maybe – you can take some of these pointers into consideration, ok? 

1)  You are not alone.  You might feel like you are…  but, someday, they are going to have this thing called “the Internet”, and you are going to be able to read about all kinds of people whom you can actually relate to and went thru similar situations.  That alone, is sort of comforting to me now… so, I thought if might make you feel better. 

2)  Your parents both love you very much.  Yes, they have their issues with each other and in general.. but, never doubt that they both love YOU.  Not the “you” that you think you need to pretend to be – but the REAL you.  They do.  You may have them fooled on some things… but, if/when they find out the truth (and ummm… they will eventually), guess what?  They still love you.  Believe it.

3) Your brother’s love you too.  Even your oldest brother whom you swear hates you and loves to see you get in trouble.  Yeah, he might be a little jealous of you sometimes, but he truly cares about you so much that he worries about you more than you know.  He would do anything for you… and there winds up being a few times that he actually really helps you out.  Don’t be afraid to talk to him, and know that both of your brother’s always have your back. 

On the other hand, realize that just because your brothers would never hit a girl… there are other guys out there that will.  You might want to think twice before you dump your drink down that jerk’s pants when your 19… even though, he totally deserved it.  But, if you DO decide to do it… then, after you pick yourself up off the floor (after the 2nd time you go down), and the whole bar is holding him back??  – Use a fist when you swing over the little bar-tenders head and hit him (instead of an open hand slap to the head).  Then still take him to court, press charges, and sick your brother’s on him! The nazi-rat-bastard!   

4)  OK – this is a hard one.  About your Mom….  While, yes, she loves you… you should know that she has some bigger issues than just being a religious fanatic.  She has some real mental health issues.  Don’t laugh.  It’s not funny.  I know you joke about it, but don’t really believe this right now.  It’s scary… but, it’s true.  No, she’s not like her mother… but, it is more than just her religious outlooks, or her relationship with Dad.  She’s looses touch with reality sometimes.  I think you’re better off knowing this.  I think everything will be less confusing and scary if you learn a little about it. 

You don’t need to confront her on it… it won’t do any good… and don’t expect Dad to want to talk about it either – because he’s also afraid to believe this.  He’s afraid of what people will think about your whole family if they know.  His silence on these issues is both his being in denial, and because he’s trying to protect you.  But, don’t YOU be afraid anymore.  You are NOT like your mother… and you don’t have these same issues that she has.  Her problems are completely unrelated to you.  However, her problems DO affect you.  Try to learn a little about schizophrenia or mental illness in general… and, know that when she does things, it’s NOT YOUR FAULT.  It’s also not her fault….  but, mostly realize there’s nothing you can do to make her better. 

5)  Matter of fact, you should know that a lot of things are NOT your fault.  You have a tendency to put way too much pressure on yourself.  It’s good to take responsibility for yourself… and your own actions.  But, you need to understand that there are many things that you just have to deal with…  but can not control. Try not to feel so guilty all the time.

6)  Your Dad is not going to Hell.  And either is your brother, or you, or anyone else that you love and worry about.  It is not up to you to save them.  And yes, it is wrong for your mother and other church people to put that kind of expectations and pressure on you.  Don’t let them anymore. Stop worrying – and go with your gut.  When you have questions, ask them.  It’s okay to wonder, doubt, ask, and learn.  The more you learn, the better you’ll feel – and the sooner you’ll feel better.

7)  The world is not black and white.  Everything isn’t either good or bad.  There is plenty of gray area.  Don’t be so quick to think you know the answers.. or that someone else does.  You know? You are very good at putting yourself in someone else’s shoes.  You are easily able to sympathize and empathize with folks.  You seem to naturally want to help people (and animals).  Keep doing that.  The more you do that.. the more gray you see… and that’s a good thing. 

8) Also, don’t think you have to have this charade of a split personality.  Both “sides” are ALL YOU – and, the “whole you” is actually pretty special.  Those that really care about you, will appreciate your being honest with them and the “whole” you, way more than only getting the parts of you that you THINK they want to see.

9) And, don’t worry about what other people think about you too much…   Ironically, the more you are yourself… the more confident you are… and the less you try to please everyone else… the more people like you… and the better you’ll feel. 

10)  You’re Dad always tells you that “boys always want what they can’t have, and then once they get it, they don’t want it anymore”.  He’s right.  99% of the time this seems to be the case.. especially for teenage boys.  But, this goes both ways… and if there’s ever a boy that you reeeeeeeeelly think you like soooooo much… and you’re feeling sooo hurt over, think about how this might be applying to you. 

11)  Speaking of boys…  You are right to not have any big desire to get a serious boyfriend any time soon.  Keep learning from your friends mistakes… and being there for them (your friends) when they need you.  Even years later, don’t ever feel pressured into doing something just because you THINK everyone else is doing it… or that you SHOULD want to. If you don’t want to do something, and/or think you’ll regret it.. then, don’t.  

Here’s 2 more things about boys…  1) While it might not seem believable right now… some day, you’ll have more chasing after you than you ever imagined.  Don’t be so afraid of this when it happens.  Have fun.  You don’t have to be serious with any of them if you don’t want to.  Give a few more of them a chance then you do.  because..   2) Someday, when you least expect it, and aren’t looking for it… you WILL meet someone who really loves you and wants to be with you forever.  (and, wait til you see your kids… but, we’ll let that be a surprise.  =)

12)  Your friends mean the world to you right now.. and that doesn’t change.  Don’t ever lose sight of how much you need your friends…  but, do question if someone really IS a friend.  Friendship is a two way street.  You don’t have to follow along with any “friends” that aren’t really looking out for your best interest.  Don’t be so quick to follow…  you can be a great leader when you want to. 

13)  Why don’t you try out for a few more activities?  I know you don’t want to do cheerleading (like your father wants), but, you might like to be on a girls sports team… or maybe even in the Drama club? You know you love to sing.  Don’t NOT do things just to spite anyone… and don’t be so nervous… you can do it! 

14) Think twice about giving up on your piano lessons.  I know it’s hard to learn from mom… but, she really is an excellent pianist… and you COULD play like that someday if you stick with it.  If you don’t… you’ll always regret it. 

15) About Gram and Pa – Visit them, and talk to them, and listen to their stories about your Dad (even though you’ve heard them a million times) every chance you get.  Take in every wrinkle and twinkle in their eyes… 

16) Have fun at concerts..  but, do yourself a favor and don’t chug Jack Daniel’s from a wine sac… 

17) You, are NOT fat.  Some day, you are going to look back at how you look now… and think, “wow!  I was actually pretty good lookin!”.  I know that isn’t going to resonate with you… so maybe at least this advice will.  Please try to understand that there is NOT miracle pill…  or miracle diet…  Save yourself years of yo-yo dieting.  The only way you will ever be thin and healthy is if you eat right… and exercise.  Surprise Surprise. 

18) When you write in your diary…???  Try to write a little bit more about Mom and Dad and Gram and Pa and family events and stuff…  I know it’s easier to write pages and pages about boys and parties and girlfriends… but, trust me on this…

19) Speaking of your Diary…. do you REALLY think Mom isn’t going to read it??  You might want to hide it a little better.. or, leave out a few parts… then again, never mind.  That all plays out for a reason…

and last but not least:

20)  and this is very important…  it could save you YEARS of frustration.  So listen up.  

You, my dear, have naturally wavy hair that has a mind of it’s own.  All the blow-drying, curling irons, and hot rollers in the world will NEVER tame it or enable you to have that feathered back “Farah Faucet hair” that all your friends seem to have.  What you need to do is just brush it once when it’s wet, then put gel in it, scrunch it, and then do NOTHING.  Maybe pick it out a little when it dries and spray it.  That’s it.  Women will tell you for many many years that they would kill for your hair.  It’s one of your only re-deeming features in later years. Try to quit hating it so much and work with it.  =)

Ok – that’s it…  Sorry it was so long and I babbled on and on.  SOME things NEVER change….

;)

~smj

 Now…. if anyone’s interested…  here’s a link to Brad Paisley’s song along these lines – called, “If I could write a letter to me”. 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6fqtbMHfpXY

 oh – and if anyone is still reading this…. consider you yourself tagged!  =)

December 18, 2007

If I could go back in time…

Six years ago around this time… I wrote a poem called “Twas the Night before Christmas”.    I posted it a while back on my poetry blog here: http://smjpoems.wordpress.com/2007/04/15/hello-world/.  It sums up a very, very hard time in my life… where I was torn between the intense sorrow of losing my dad, and the great joy of expecting a new son…

I thought about it – as I have a habit of looking back and thinking about what I was doing in past years at this same time.  2001 was a big one.  I realized that lately I have been feeling a bit sorry for myself.  So stressed and busy… until I remembered where I was at this time of the year six years ago.  What I’m dealing with today is NOTHING compared to those days. 

It’s all relative…    isn’t it?

And yet… if I could go back to those stress filled days of uncertaintiy and pain…  I would.  In a heart-beat.  Even though it was so hard losing my Dad….  it would be worth it just to see my Dad again.  I would love to have him around again in any capacity.  But, I know that’s selfish of me… as he was not so happy those days.  He was ready to go. 

Then, I thought… what if, I could go back in time… just briefly… and give myself a message?  Back to 2001 when I was literally at my wits end and didn’t know if I could make it.  I wish I could…  just to ease my worried mind… 

If I could go back… I’d tell my pregnant self… to

Hang in there… that it would be okay… that yes, you will miss your father terribly – but, that life does go on… and that you will never regret being there for him his last days… even though it was sooooo hard. 

I’d tell my pregnant self to

 Play as much gin with Dad as possible…  and don’t take anything he says when he’s in pain or drugged up to heart.. he doesn’t mean it like that.  He loves you more than anything and you know that.  Realize that his giving up on life, is not the same as his giving up on you.  Try to respect and accept his wishes without so much denial and fighting about it.  When things start getting bad… Ask for help BEFORE you are ready to collapse.  Don’t try to be so darn strong when your brothers and husband WANT to be there for you.  Let them help sooner rather than later.  It is good for them too to help.  They also need to do that for themselves, as well as for you and your father. 

And, try not to waste time crying these last days with Dad.  There’s plenty of time for that after he’s gone…  but, try not to do too too much of it then either.  That one day… when he finally leaves your home on a stretcher to go to the hospital is the worst.  Well, almost the worst – the hardest is after he’s really gone from this earth.  That day… when you feel all alone, sitting in that rocking chair in his room…   and you cry out…  and hear your own voice in a way that you never knew you had?  Put your hand on your stomach… and feel that baby… he can hear you… he is crying with you… you are not alone…  try to remember to be strong for him.  And, always remember Dad wouldn’t want that… he hated to see you cry.  He loved you.  You are lucky you had his love all those years.. and you still do.  Remember those feelings.  The feelings of being special… loved… cared about.   You will always be his little girl, and special because of it.  His leaving doesn’t change that.  And, you need to make sure you are taking care of yourself and that beautiful baby boy growing inside of you.  Of course, you already knew that… but, it I thought it might be good to hear it confirmed.  

I’d tell my pregnant self… 

Just wait until you see your new son!   He’s healthy and beautiful.  You made it!  You were strong enough to put him first and it all paid off.   He is strong too….  and, he is your saving grace that will help you to cope with losing Dad – the hardest thing you will ever have to face as of yet in your life.  And this new son… he will love you more than you could ever imagine… and make you happier than you ever believed you could be again.  Between him and your first son – you will know you are a lucky mom and will always have a reason to be thankful and to feel loved.  

Oh, and your unborn son will look JUST like your first son for about 6 months… but, don’t be surprised when he takes a sudden turn – off to find his own looks and personality.  And, WHAT a personality it is.  Just sit back and enjoy the ride! You have MUCH to be thankful for and to look forward to.   

And, if it’s not against any rules or anything…  I’d want to tell Dad before he goes that:

Your newest grandson is going to be a real smart-ass… and, crack people up all the time.   He must have a little bit of his Pa in him!  Don’t worry about never meeting him in person…  I will tell him so much about you that he will feel like he knows you as well as your frst grandson does.  We will, of course, miss you terribly… but, I promise that I will do my best to be happy, to have a good life and to ensure your grandkids do too. 

That is what he wants the most, you know.  Just as that is what you wish for your children the most. 

And… lastly, I’d tell my pregnant self… to

Please try to remember this talk and visit from the future… so that someday… 6 years later when there’s no tragedies going on in your life and all in all everything is all good…. yet somehow you STILL feel stressed out…???  You can remember this visit, go back again if you need to, and mostly try to remember to take your own advice again…   

Relax… and enjoy the ride

 =)

~smj

Tags: