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Archive for February, 2016

“I’ve long since retired, and my son’s moved away
I called him up just the other day
I said, “I’d like to see you if you don’t mind.”
He said, “I’d love to, dad, if I could find the time
You see, my new job’s a hassle, and the kid’s got the flu
But it’s sure nice talking to you, dad
It’s been sure nice talking to you.”
And as I hung up the phone, it occurred to me
He’d grown up just like me
My boy was just like me” ~ Henry Chapin, “Cat’s in the Cradle”. 1974

Ouch.

I love this song for the very fact that it’s sad. I’m a sucker for sad songs. It oozes regret, a topic that is responsible for selling millions of albums, books, and plays, something that we can all identify with. Who hasn’t felt regret at one time or another over any variety of things: a breakup, a harsh word, a missed opportunity? But one often hears celebrities (usually the loud and brash ones) announcing to the world that they have no regrets, or that everyone should live their lives with no regrets. Easier said than done, I say.

I’m just going to come out with it: I think people who say they have no regrets are either lying or deluding themselves. Let’s think about it for a minute. I’d be willing to bet money on the fact that every person reading this has, at one time or another, said something to hurt someone else, either purposely or accidently. If you have a soul, that’s something that would register as a regret. I have many of those. Words spoken in anger or frustration, little (and not so little) white lies that pop out without thinking, a passive aggressive move. I’ve caused hurt in my life. It’s not something I’m proud of, but something I need to be honest about in order to be a better person. The never-ending quest.

Now, I do believe that there are choices that we may regret temporarily, but in the long run, those choices led us to a happier place in our lives. For example, I sometimes think that I regret not finishing college all at once when I was in my late teens/early twenties. I didn’t have anyone to pay for me, I didn’t know what I wanted to do, and I went to cosmetology school while working three jobs instead. As a result, I didn’t end up finishing college until I was 33 years old, which really kind of sucked professionally. On the other side of that coin though, graduating cosmetology school and going to work at Greenfield Village meant that I met my husband, we had our three amazing boys, I turned period hair into a business, and I met lifelong friends and business contacts. (If anyone wants a book on period hairstyles, please let me know!) Looking back now, I wouldn’t trade one for the other. That part of my life, while not the norm for college-bound students, worked out the way it was supposed to.

Old lovers are another thing that one can regret at the time, but later one realizes that it was all for the best. I don’t think that there will ever be a shortage of songs about that. “Unanswered Prayers” by Garth Brooks or “Bless the Broken Road” by Rascal Flatts are great examples. Looking back as an adult, I sometimes have serious questions about what my younger self was thinking about some of those old boyfriends. I may have needed a slap upside the head. Of course, those can also be attributed to a learning experience. If I say it enough, I might convince myself that one or two of those really set me on the right path. (Disclaimer: I will never tell which ones they were.)

Then, there are those regrets that will probably sting forever. The time I didn’t spend with grandparents before they passed. The friends I let slip away because I didn’t communicate. Not calling the police on the step-monster. Not answering the phone when my friend, Moe, called to tell me that KISS was at the radio station and I needed to get my butt down there. Well, you get the idea. There are things that we can’t fix. We can’t go back in time and change it up, but what we can do is learn from the mistakes. We can spend time with those we love, think before we speak to our children, call that friend back. Wake up and answer the damn phone.

There are the hard decisions that I don’t regret: leaving teaching, staying home with my babies when they were little, starting therapy, deciding to write on the side. The writing thing opens me up to rejection, which is a scary, scary thing, but I have a therapist to help me with that.

In a nutshell, maybe there is something to the sentiment that one should live life with no regrets. Maybe, instead of boldly stating that we have no regrets at all, we should live with the aim of not being able to regret anything. Will we be successful? Not in a million years, but maybe we’ll think a little more, care a little more, love our neighbor a little more. What will matter on our deathbed: the date we got our college degrees or did our kids know that we loved them? That we had a big house or that we made a difference in a life?

Things to think about. What do you regret?

 

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So, this week was supposed to be different. This was the week that I had taken off in between the time when my old job ended and the new one was beginning. I had high hopes for this week. I was going to get things done. I was going to organize the teaching stuff, get stuff done in the basement, go to the DIA, the Charles H. Wright Museum, and relax a little because I would be HOME ALONE!!! That almost never happens.

Nope.

I should not have planned. I should not have looked forward to this week. I jinxed it.

It began on Saturday. Youngest Child had Solo and Ensemble Festival that morning. Early. We left the house at 7:30ish and were at the event until 11:30ish. They did very well, by the way. Medals were earned all around. On the drive home, he said to me, “I don’t feel very good.” Sigh. When we got home, I took his temperature and he, indeed, had a fever. His fever crawled up through the day and decided to top off at 102.6 º in between doses of Motrin. His throat didn’t hurt, but he had the body aches and chills of some flu-like virus. The fever settled in and decided to stay through Sunday night as well, so I knew he wouldn’t be going to school the next day. No worries, the poor guy wanted his mama and just laid on the couch or in his bed the whole time. He’d be fine and back to school on Tuesday.

Nope.

Monday night and the fever still existed. Luckily, on Tuesday morning, he awoke with a nice cool forehead and was a normal 98.6º. However, I had already called him in to school and really, another day of rest was a good thing, especially after having a fever for three days. Besides, I had to go in for an outpatient procedure at the hospital that day and I was glad that he was home rather than being at school where I would worry about him not feeling well again.

Tuesday passed, all remained well, and I was quaking in my boots for Wednesday to come. I wouldn’t be able to drive anywhere after my procedure from the day before until later that night (they frown on driving within 24 hours of anesthesia), but I would have the day to myself! It would be great! But it was kind of just meh. I did, however, get a lot of writing done, which I was happy about, but I was pretty tired and basically became a fixture on the couch. I went to Ash Wednesday service that evening, went to choir afterward, and tried to ignore the tickle in my throat, dismissing it as a normal cold. Then, Middle Child came home from play practice and announced that he did not feel well. He also had a fever, but insisted that he would be fine for school the next day because he had to take a physics test.

Nope.

The next morning, he got out of bed, no, let me rephrase that, he staggered out of bed and told me that he wouldn’t be going in. Now, before anyone starts thinking that I just let my kids stay home whenever they want, let me tell you that Middle Child only stays home when he is at the point of death. He was what I would call sick a couple of weeks ago and refused to stay home. If he says he’s sick, I know he’s sick. Now, Youngest Child would stay home for every sneeze he sneezed if I let him, which is why he either has to have a fever or be throwing up to miss school.

I sent him back to bed, got Youngest Child out the door, and then sat down with my coffee to read the paper, a luxury. Before long, that tickle in my throat really began to bother me. I began to get the chills and I noticed that I was congested. DIA, anyone?

Nope.

I managed to be somewhat productive that day, writing more than 3,000 words while binge-watching Dr. Phil on the OWN network, downing Motrin, Middle Child and I both feverishly holding down both ends of the couch. Friday was no different, except that Marty Man was home and I did take a nap on the couch. By the way, fevers suck. That fuzzy head/creepy crawly feeling under your skin? It really sucks. I’m almost never really sick and each time I get something like this, it makes me despise being sick even more.

I began to feel better Friday evening and really hoped that it would continue. When I woke up this morning, I was still kind of congested but I felt… human again! No creepy crawly feeling, no fuzzy head, no fever!!! So, what did I do, now that I could woman up again and go out among the living? I cleaned house. I did laundry. I fed the snakes. I did things that needed to be done. Sigh.

That will teach me, though. The next time I have a chunk of alone time coming up, I’m not going to plan anything at all, except boring and practical things. I will plan on the entire household getting sick and not being able to drive, that way, if everything does happen the way I want it to, it will be a lovely surprise. The DIA will still be there. Just don’t jinx it for me.

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Remember Me

This.

HeartSphere

remembering2“We may place blame, give reasons, and even have excuses; but in the end, it is an act of cowardice to not follow your dreams.”
Steve Maraboli

I remembered something today. It wasn’t a random memory, nor was it a moment of time that sits in the depth of mind. It was me. I remembered myself.

I remembered the child that I was. I remembered the love that I had for life, seeing the world through adventurous eyes of wonder. I remembered how free I felt when riding my bike up the hill, away from home. I recalled sitting in the grass, looking out over wide pasture and roaming horses. Then I remembered something else.

I remembered when I first realized that I was an artist. Or, more correctly put, I remembered when I knew that I was good at drawing. I remembered how naturally it came to me…

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Confession time: when comes to grammar and spelling, I’m a horrible snob. Not so much when someone is speaking, although I do cringe when I hear people say, “I seen”  instead of “I saw” or “That’s mines” instead of “That’s mine”. No, it’s more when I’m reading something that isn’t correct, especially with apostrophes. I have a horrible apostrophe complex. For the life of me, I can’t understand why people insist on putting apostrophes in plural nouns where they don’t belong. I tell my students of a sign for a shop that used to drive me absolutely insane: “Laila’s Fruit’s and Vegetables”. It was there for years in a little strip mall on the way to Target, so I passed it often. I longed to go in and tell the owner to get rid of the apostrophe in “Fruit’s”, but I thought, quite correctly, that they would have 1. Thought me to be a crazy person off the street and called the police or 2. Thought me to be a crazy person off the street but would have been horribly embarrassed. Either way, I’m glad that I listened to the angel on my one shoulder instead of the devil on the other.

How many of us are snobs about things we know a lot about? I got to thinking about this from a Facebook meme the other day. It said something along the lines of life being a battle over whether to correct grammar or to have friends. That resonated with me, but it also made me think. What things do I do that frustrate people or absolutely drive them nuts and how could I fix them? Could I ever fix them all?

Marty Man could tell you several things I can’t do that utterly befuddle me but are easy for him. Taxes, for one. I have trouble filling out a W-2! I can’t help it, the language is soooooo dry and boring. I’d sooner read the phone book. (Yes, they still make phone books, albeit much smaller ones these days.) Besides, there are sort-ofs on some of the questions. Do I want to take out more than necessary, just in case? Maybe. How much are you going to tax me, Uncle Sam? Then, add line 2 to the sum, or difference, of lines 5-8, but only if you got married on a Tuesday in December when the sun was shining. Subtract 3 if it was a cloudy day. See, I’m hopeless.

Keeping up the checkbook is another thing that I (don’t) do that makes Marty Man wants to scale the walls. He has tried to train me, repeatedly, to write my debit card purchases in the checkbook. I have no problem recording checks in the ledger after I write them, but making a debit purchase just kind of floats out of my head. After all these years, he’s given up and just relies on the bank website to update it himself. Trust me, it’s all for the best.

Cars snobs can lord it over me, hands-down. Cars are confusing. If I have a car issue and mention it in certain company, I am sure to get all sorts of advice, 99% of which means nothing to me. I smile and nod, like it all make sense when I’m really longing to beg the person to come over and fix it for me. I’m not a complete imbecile; I can change a tire if I have to, if the lug nuts aren’t too tight. I know to fill a leaking radiator with water in an overheating emergency. If anything else goes wrong, however, AAA gets a call. I’m in awe of people who can instantly diagnose car trouble and I know that they’re secretly laughing at my ineptness, just like I did to the owners of Laila’s Fruit’s and Vegetables for all of those years. Somewhere, my grandfather is shaking his head in shame. He was a great car guy, but I didn’t get any of those genes.

I’m quite positive that my dance teacher is not a snob, but there are times when I want to tell her that it’s okay with me if she is. My head might get the new combination completely, but getting that information from my brain down to my feet (and let’s not even start on my arms) sometimes proves a bit, er, challenging. I would love to have her kind of patience with people who can’t do what I’m trying to teach them. It just seems so easy for her and others in the class, but I keep trying and I love it, so it’s all good.

I’m curious as to what kind of snobs my readers are. C’mon, fess up! You already know that grammar is one of mine. What are you a snob about that you know you shouldn’t be? We all are in one way or another, whether it’s religion, manners, work, or taxes. Confession is good for the soul.

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