My mother has always been my very bestest friend. I was the first child, but not the first pregnancy. So when I was born, I was joyfully and wonderfully welcomed. I was followed a short eleven months later by my sister. So the woman who wanted children intensely and fervently, suddenly had two small children within a year’s time.
Growing up, she was the best mother. She was generous, loving, protective, and sometimes pushy. She wanted the best for my sister and me. She wanted us to have the things that she did not have growing up.
My mother was the fourth child in a brood of thirteen. She was the eldest daughter. As the eldest daughter a lot of her mother’s burden fell on her shoulders too. She took her role seriously and devoutly. Thinking back to when I was a child, one of the biggest disputes that would arise between my parents was her sense of duty to her mother, father, and siblings.
She has always been there for not only my sister and me, but also for her siblings. When she retired, she served not only her family, but her friends at church. When someone was ill, she was there. When it was serious enough for the hospital she was there. When someone needed an ear to listen or a shoulder to cry on, she was there. She shared in their sorrows and rejoiced with them in their triumphs. If someone needed a loan, she disregard her own needs and freely give what she sometimes didn’t have to give.
My mother has always been a giver. In the last few years my mother has become the receiver. My sister, my nieces, my nephews, and even my great nephew and I have become the givers. It continues to be an educational and rewarding experience.
But it’s an every changing experience. My mother has dementia. She is happy to be with us. She enjoys our company. She loves being with her grandchildren, She adores her great grandson, Henry. But her connection with us has changed. She is no longer the dominant force in our life. She is not the one we go to for advice and comfort.
My sister is her main caregiver. She works a full time job. So far she has been able to coordinate between her and her children to make sure that our mother is not left alone. My sister and I have tried to divide up the responsibility between us. My sister and I have become our mother to each other. Now my sister seeks me out for advice and comfort and I seek her out for the same.
Our hope is that our mother travels this path with grace and dignity and without fear. But what my sister and I have become is my mother’s protector and advocate. Where my mother use to be the mother bear ready to spring and protect her cubs, now my sister and I have taken on that role for her.
Occasionally drama and bickering find their way into my mother’s presence. Fortunately, this doesn’t come from her immediate family. The ones who have been there for her the last few years. What we’ve decided as a family is that we will no longer allow that to happen. She is our number one priority and that includes her happiness, safety, and peace of mind. My mother no longer does well on the phone. She does great face to face. But I think on the phone she loses track of who she is talking to.
Mom has always been busy. So we try to keep her busy. She likes to go. Whether it’s shopping, eating out, or checking out the thrift stores. She still likes being out in the world.
She would love to hear from you. While a phone call may no longer be the best way to connect with her, she loves to visit. So call my sister or me and set up a time. I know she would love to open her door and see your face. Send her cards and pictures of your family and yourself.
Have my sister and I made mistakes? Certainly. But the one thing that we do acknowledge is that dementia doesn’t get better. We don’t know what tomorrow holds. We only know that when Mom wakes up with a smile on her face, everything is going to be okay for today.
What we have found in navigating this life changing illness is that people suddenly disappeared from her life. At first this made me angry. Just knowing how she has always been there for others. But fortunately her world revolves around whoever she is spending time with that day. So she is happy. And that’s what matters most.
Yesterday I posted about chasing your dream. Well, it really was more about how I’ve changed over the years and how I’ve tried to dish out advice to others on following their dreams. I ended that post by saying I would share my dream with you tomorrow. Well, it’s tomorrow. I know I haven’t been blogging much, but I made a promise yesterday and decided that it’s important to keep it.
Anybody that is friends with me on Facebook knows that I love Arbonne products. I’ve only been using them for about 10 months, but I love them. It started with an online Facebook party that I attended. I learned about the Arbonne products and their pure, safe, and beneficial ingredients. Arbonne was founded by Petter Mørck. You can read the story of Arbonne here. http://est1980.arbonne.com/our-story.shtml
The first week of March I became an Arbonne Independent Consultant. My goal was not to sell Arbonne, but just to continue making my purchases with a better discount. However, when I signed up, a box arrived. The box had 10 catalogs and 10 RE9 samples. I put the box away and went on about my business. In just a couple of days, after listening to that box call my name, I decided to just take the catalogs and the samples and see what happened.
What happened is other people were interested. Some people were interested because I had been talking up Arbonne on Facebook. Other people were truly looking for something. Maybe skincare, maybe nutrition, maybe makeup. What I’ve found in the last 60 days is that I can share my love of a product and maybe, just maybe build my own business.
It’s been kind of a whirlwind, roller coaster ride the last 60 days. One minute, I’m asking myself “What the hell are you doing? Why are you wasting your time?” For every one of those kind of questions, there were probably three comments to myself like “I can’t believe this!” “This is great!”
It’s working for me right now, because I am actively believing in my dream. What is my dream?
After becoming an IC with Arbonne and after beginning to actively share Arbonne, I began to become more acquainted with some of the people on my “team”. One of these sweet ladies sent me a book entitled “Where Will You Be Five Years From Today?”
Before I even opened that I book, I knew exactly where I wanted to be five years from today. Retired. Our plan is to retire in less than 3 years. Doug has given about all he has to give to his employer. He says that when he retires, I retire. But I’ve had questions about this retirement thing. Like – Insurance? In 3 years I will only be 58. I won’t be eligible for Medicare.
So when I looked at the pretty book tied up with a pretty white bow, I laid it aside and gave it some thought. What came to me was sort of a vision, really just a little glimmer on the horizon. Maybe, just maybe, if I work really hard and follow the plans that have been laid out before me by other women who have already achieved success, I could earn enough from this Arbonne thing to pay for my health insurance.
I’ve got a great learning tool with the Arbonne website. Everything I need to know as an Independent Consultant, I can find on the site. There is a wonderful team of women who have already walked this walk and they are willing to share, mentor, and encourage me. Plus I’m a smart girl, I have a few ideas myself.
One of them was to place a small display of the fizz sticks on my desk. (What are fizz sticks – click the link below
I also ordered a special glass for my fizz sticks. This is a conversation starter. People are in and out of my office all day. Some people notice, some people don’t. If they ask what it is, I explain what it is. If this opens up the conversation to skincare, makeup, or nutritional products, I pull out a prepackaged sample pack that I put together and hand it to them. I consider this an investment. An investment in myself and my dream. So far this is working for me.
Like any dream, I can’t just sit here and wait for the eager new Arbonne customers to come to me. I have to go find them. Hopefully, I will find others who believe in the products the way I do and I can teach them how to fulfill their dreams.
So if I call you, or text you, or email you and ask you about your skincare products, your makeup products, or maybe if you would like to learn how to eat healthy again, I’m not offended if you tell me you aren’t interested right now. If you say no to me today, please feel free to call me if you change your mind. Please be patient with me if I call you in a couple of months to share with you a new product that I’ve learned about and I thought of you when I saw it. If I ask you to host an Arbonne party either live or in your home, you aren’t obligated to me in any way, you aren’t obligated to purchase anything. But I will reward you for helping me. You help me by allowing me to introduce this wonderful products to your friends. Plus it’s a fun way to reconnect and meet new people.
All I ask is that you are open to me and willing to discuss your dreams with me. After all, I am a problem solver.
I like to think of myself as a fairly intelligent person. Growing up, I was never much of a people person. I was very shy. Painfully shy. Even after divorcing my first husband at the tender age of 25, I was still very shy. I moved into a gated apartment complex and I really hated leaving with someone in their car. Why? Because it would require me to stop at the entrance and tell the guard who I was.
This was just with strangers. You can ask anyone who really knew me back then and they will tell you that I was talkative, engaging, and fun. But with people I didn’t know I kept my head down, didn’t make eye contact, and would probably faint dead away if spoken too.
Something happened along the way. I’m not sure where. But somewhere in the last 25 years, I began to lift my head and see what was going on around me. I looked people, strangers, straight in the eye and smiled. They smiled back, most of the time. I asked questions. I found my voice.
Now I find that I will insert myself into other people’s conversations. Complete strangers. Recently I was having breakfast with my mom at Cracker Barrel and I overheard a couple talking about their plans for the day. They were visiting Fort Worth and trying to decide what they should do next. They asked the waiter. He seemed to be caught off guard and didn’t offer any real suggestions. I thought about it for a couple of seconds and then got up and walked over to their table. I said “Excuse me. I couldn’t help but hear you asking about what there is to do in Fort Worth.” Then we proceeded to have a very nice conversation about the Stockyards. You can’t come to Fort Worth and not visit the Stockyards. There is major road construction going on I-35. They weren’t too hip on traversing that route again. So I told them how to get there the back way from where we were.
Now see, 30 years ago I would have loved to offer my advice. But I wouldn’t have. I would have convinced myself that they didn’t need to hear from me. That they didn’t want to hear from me.
I hear conversations going on around me all the time. I find it very very hard to keep my mouth shut. Sometimes, even at work, I keep my door shut. This is to not only cut out the outer room noise so that I can focus on what I’m doing, but it is also to keep me out of things going on.
When I stop and think about it, who I am now amazes me. What I’ve realized is, I’m a problem solver. I’m not saying that to toot my own horn. But I think that’s my gift, problem solver.
I think I have great ideas. The problem is, people rarely listen to me when they should. Ha! Ha! You know the old saying, “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink.”
Example #1 – I had a friend who lived in a small town. She wanted to open up a catering business and maybe a bakery. She’s a great cook! But, in my opinion, she was thinking too big. She talked about renting a building, buying equipment, etc. My suggestion was to start small. Start from her kitchen. Each day come up with a menu of a couple of sandwiches or box lunches. Call local business and find out if they would like to have the menu faxed or emailed to them each day. She could send it either the day before or early the morning of. If people were interested, they would fax their order to her. Since it was a small town, she could offer free delivery. This would enable her to build a clientele before actually making a big up front investment. She didn’t see what I saw.
Example #2 – I had a friend who loved to bake cookies and cup cakes. She was really good at it too. She used only the best ingredients. The first mistake she made was calling the city to find out what she needed to do to open a bakery. Of course they gave her a long list of permits and requirements. She was crushed. We had a long conversation, in which I basically presented the same ideas as Example #1. But she didn’t see what I saw.
Example #3 – I have a young friend who has tried unsuccessfully to launch a homemade soap business. She has made soaps for me and they were lovely. She was a single mom and I knew that there were durable supplies that she needed in order to make and promote her soaps on a larger scale. She seemed to want to go from hobby soap maker to side income soap maker. We talked about farmers markets and different craft fairs. But in order to do those things, you have to have product. So I invested in her dream. I gave her some money hoping that she would buy the molds and things that she needed. She continued to make small batches of custom soaps. So, she didn’t see what I saw.
But those were their dreams. So they didn’t need to see what I saw. They only needed to see what they see. They shared their dreams with me and I had a visualization of their dream. But apparently what I visualized was not what they visualized. And that’s ok. Sometimes, people just like to talk out loud and that’s fine too. I’m happy that they were comfortable enough to share their dreams with me.
Now, I am chasing my own dream. Four months ago I didn’t even know it was my dream. I’ll share my dream with you tomorrow.
I think from time to time we need to hear a story of a real hero. Not necessarily someone who risked life and limb to save a child from a burning building, but just your regular day to day hero. The kind of person who just goes about doing their thing each day. They just keep putting one foot in front on another, hoping for a better day.
Hero may be a word that is used loosely, but according to dictionary.com one of the definitions of hero is a person who, in the opinion of others, has special achievements, abilities, or personal qualities and is regarded as a role model or ideal.
One of my day to day heroes is my sister. When she was about 24 or 25 she was married and had three small children. At that time they were 4, 3, and 1. She was a stay at home mom and homemaker. Other than being an excellent waitress, she really had no job experience. All of her immediate family lived about 3 hours away. It was during this time that she realized that her husband was not who or what she thought he was and that her children, their children were in physical danger.
She did not make excuses. She did not immediately run three hours back to her parents. But she did get her children to safety. Did she cry? Yes. Did she scream to god in her desolation? Probably. Did she give up? No she did not. Was she perfect? No she was not. Did she feel sorry for herself? Not that I’m aware of. Did she think anyone “owed” her anything? No she did not.
Her main concern at that time in her life was the safety and well-being of three small children. She worked the lowliest jobs, simply to put a roof over the heads of her children and put food on the table. She was not alone. She did have the support of her family and of her friends. But the basic day to day stuff she did 100% on her own.
Eventually she moved back to her birthplace, remarried and had another child. Last year her second marriage ended. Once again she is on her own. This time her children are grown. Her work skills are better. She still doesn’t whine and complain. She simply lives her life and is actually following her dreams. Unfettered by the bonds of marriage and child rearing, she is finally doing what she enjoys. She does it to suit herself.
Yet she still serves. She serves her mother. She is our mother’s main caretaker. She sees that she has her medicine, food, gets to the doctor, and is happy. She gets frustrated, I’m sure. We’ve had talks about the future and we both know that at some point our mother may need more then my sister’s care taking. She has told me that she sees taking care of our mother as a beautiful gift. She has told me that she feels honored to be able to do the things that she does for our mom.
That may not sound like much, condensed as it is to the preceding paragraphs. But if you knew the details and all the crap she has put up with over the last thirty years you would understand. She isn’t alone. I know the world is filled with women like her. Women that have had to put their wants and desires aside while providing the very basic necessities for their families.
The next time you hear an adult whining about the hand that life has dealt them, you might tell them to look around for their own “day to day” hero. We all have to take ownership of our choices and our decisions in life.
I’m sure there were lots of times she would have loved to just get in her car and run away, far, far away. But she knew what her responsibilities were. What makes her a hero to me is not the fact that she did what was right for her children, but the fact that she did it without complaining.
We live in a world filled with people that think the world owes them something. We live in a world where some people think that the problems that they create for themselves are everyone else’s fault. We live in a world where some people leave a trail of disaster and wonder why.
I’m glad that my nephews and nieces had my sister as a mother. She may not have been perfect. But she did try and she didn’t make excuses. She didn’t blame anyone. She simply got up each morning, put both feet on the floor, and kept trying.
I hope all of her dreams come true.
At my age I’ve learned some of life’s hard lessons. But I’m still learning and I’ve got the scars currently healing on my heart to prove it. Life would be a lot easier if I could just turn off the rest of the world and lock myself away here on this hill in the middle of nowhere. If it was just me and Doug forever and ever, I think I could be content with that.
But alas, there are other relationships in my life. Sometimes they are difficult to navigate no matter how long you have been doing it. I cry over relationships that seem to be fizzling out. I wish I could fix them. But I can reach out only so many times. Silence and indifference speaks volumes. I won’t beg. I won’t force my way in.
I’m not perfect. I know that. There are things I wish I could change. But you can’t turn back time. Although imperfect, I think I do make an effort. I do tend to sometimes read to much into things. One thing that I have found is that usually these things tend to work themselves out.
Our intimacy ebbs and flows over the years. I sometimes think of relationship like rivers running across the country. Raging rapids followed by calm streams. Intense busyness followed by quiet stillness. Or the ocean. Raging, dark waves followed by calm, glassy seas.
We are each occupied with our day to day life. So I try to chalk it up to that. But it still makes me sad.
I worked with an older black woman for about 6 years. She was the same age as my mother. We became friends, I would consider us good friends. We still keep in touch. During the down times at work, she and I would have long conversations.We talked about our lives, our outlooks, politics, and shared stories. We laughed We got crossways a few times. But they were few.
I grew up in the Riverside area of Fort Worth. I’m not sure what it was like in the 50’s and 60’s. But when I was in the fourth grade in 1971 (I think that’s the correct year) desegregation began. I remember meetings and things like that before it happened. But when the busing started that Fall, I don’t remember any big problems. Of course I was in elementary school. It might have been different at the high school. But from my viewpoint and because of the way I was raised, it was just a new school year. Joining us was a new group of kids. They looked a little different from us, but they were kids just like us. Most of those new kids continued on to middle school and then to high school.
The lady I worked with went to school in Dallas during the 50’s. I don’t want to tell her stories. Those are her’s and I could not do them justice retelling them here. She had a happy childhood and a wonderful family. But she was black and she remembered things happening that were confusing to her as a young girl.
She loves me and I love her. She told me that when she came to work, she felt at home and she felt comfortable. But she very adamantly told me, on more than one occasion, that when she walked out that front door to go out into the world she knew she walked out into it as a black woman. She said she couldn’t walk into some department stores without feeling the eyes of the white salespeople watching her. They were watching her simply because she was black. She told me that no matter how much empathy I had. No matter how much I thought I might understand. I could never understand, because when I walked out that front door I walked out a white woman. Those little talks about that particular aspect of the difference of color made a big impact on me.
I miss her. I miss her openness and her viewpoints. I miss her daily friendship.
During the last seven years, I’ve read a lot of crap. I don’t think that everyone who disagrees or dislikes the President is a racist. But there is a group, a rather large group, who feel animosity simply because he is black. I’m not talking about politics. I’m not talking about Democrats vs Republicans. I’m talking about good old fashioned, American racism.
Being a white American has it perks. I hear and am subject to some of the disgusting comments simply because people don’t feel the need for a filter around me. I’m fortunate that nobody in my immediate family feels this way. But I do have family members outside of my immediate family that I have heard or seen comments that they have made. Not necessarily about the President. But about anyone that is not white. That is what bothers me.
I didn’t make any resolution this year. They are a waste of time. But I want people to feel the need for a filter around me. I have a tendency to remain silent, to simply walk away. I don’t want to do that anymore.
We began forming friendships almost from birth. We’ve all seen a baby or small child respond to our smiles and hellos. It’s natural to want to be connected to someone and have friends. We start building those friendships from an early age. We have siblings, cousins, and neighborhood kids. Then we start school and our circle of friends widen. We began working and our circle of friends widen again.
Before you know it you are a multifaceted, well adjusted person. Most of us are anyways, there are some exceptions to the rule. But all in all, we all crave that connection. Maybe it’s a sort of validation, I’m not sure.
Sometimes the trouble starts with that very first friend, a brother or a sister. Before you start school, you are best buddies. You do everything together. Then you start school and widen your circle of friends. Then you discover that you are two different people with whole different likes and dislikes. Sometimes it takes years and years to make the circle to becoming the best of friends. Some people, sadly, never make this circle.
This happens not only with siblings, but all kinds of friends and family. You just grow and mature and discover that you don’t really have that much in common any more. Sometimes you are able to remain superficial friends, but that deep, heart to heart connection is lost.
It’s hard to make friends as you get older. As you age and meet new people, you bring along your past with you. All your fears and disappointments you pack in a bag and strap it to your back and bring it with you everywhere you go. But you are still looking for that connection, that validation.
That’s why it’s hard to change jobs when you’re older. The fear of the unknown. Getting out of your comfort zone. It would have been very easy for me to stay at my old job. It wasn’t a difficult job. But emotionally it was exhausting and belittling. But it was scary starting over somewhere new.
But these people at my new job are no different than people any where else. They want to like me, but they also wait for me to stumble. To let them down. I’ve been here long enough now for them to know that I am trust worthy and I will be here. I will pull my own weight and will help when needed.
But real, true friends, people who you can be 100% yourself and be at ease with, are rare. People who you don’t have to worry about what you say or hold back on your ideas and opinions, those kinds of friends are few and far between.
Occasionally someone will reach out to you for friendship. Later you will discover that you were just being used. This happened to me recently. I felt like I had made a personal connection with someone I met through my former place of employment. While working there we would sometimes chat about things outside of work. It seemed we had a lot of common interest.
So when I left there and came to where I am now, I was surprised to receive an email from this person suggesting we have lunch. I had been gone from my old job for about a month or maybe a little more.
When we met for lunch I was determined not to talk about my old job and just focus on developing a new friendship. I knew it was a lost cause when she said “I promised myself I wasn’t going to talk about this” and proceeded to do just that.
I’m human, it was nice to hear that the person that came after me made a complete mess of things. She asked and I did share the exact reason why I left there. She made me an offer in regards to my old job (not taking it back, but helping out until they found someone else) and then she proceeded to pay for lunch with her employer’s credit card.
I still believed this was a viable future friendship. I received an email telling me that she enjoyed the lunch. I replied that I did too. That was the last I heard from her. I guess she got the information she needed, made the offer she was authorized to make, and then went on her way.
So I’m back to my original circle of friends. It’s not a bad circle. I like my circle of friends.
I wrote a short little blog earlier this week about finding the time to do the things we want. One of the points of the blog was setting aside time one weekend a month to compile a blog arsenal. I’ve got all kinds of thoughts and memories and ideas that roll around in my head all day long. The problem is keeping up with the ideas. I mentioned that I need to go back to pencil and paper in keeping up with my thoughts. Maybe a spiral notebook.
My cousin Chris emailed me a link for a journal he uses. I liked it. I emailed him back and said I would check it out, but maybe I should just start with a $1.99 notebook.
Today I received a package from Amazon.com with that Moleskine Classic Notebook. In it was a note that said “Your thoughts are worth more than $1.99.” I loved the surprise, but mostly I appreciated the compliment. We can all become a little cynical living our day to day lives. And then someone steps up out of nowhere and does something kind.
Now let’s see if I can crank out some blogs over the weekend.
So far this has been a rough year for Doug and I and a lot of others as well. We lost Doug’s mother in March and I also lost my Aunt Mary (my father’s youngest sister) around the same time. Doug lost an uncle and I recently lost an uncle as well. All loved members of our families.
Sometimes death comes quickly and unexpectedly. Sometimes love ones suffer from an illness that lets you know that death is hanging around waiting patiently. But regardless of how death appears, we are never really ready. Even with a long term disease we can never be truly ready to say good bye.
But what I do know is that the time is now to let those you love and care about know how you feel. People need to know that they are valued. If you feel the need to let someone know what they mean to you or what influence they’ve had on your life, DO IT!!! Write a letter, send an email, pick up the phone. Do it for yourself. Never let a day pass holding back words that you feel the need to express.
When someone we love receives a diagnosis that leads to a downhill roll into disability and finally death, we have proof that we need to say the things that need to be said to them. But we need to recognize this fact in our dealings with all of those that we love.
When we end a visit, a phone conversation, or whatever the circumstance might be, we never really know what will happen between the end of that encounter and the next. When your better half leaves for the day, do they truly understand how much they mean to you. Do your children and grandchildren know how proud you are of them?
I’m not talking about just “saying the words”. Write it down. In this electronic age that we live in I think its important to take pen to paper and let them know. Nothing is worse than attending a funeral and hearing someone say “I wish I had told them.”
After writing my nine day post on my first marriage, I have had a lot of feedback. The majority of the feedback has been very positive. I’m glad that I took the time to tell this story. I was hoping for a feeling of release. But the feelings of sadness and failure are still there. They were rubbed raw over the last several days. But at least this part of my story is out there and I learned a few things as well.
I think we all have stories to tell. Sometimes when I’m with a group a people I’ll look around at them and wonder what each of their stories might be. Even in the grocery store I’ll come across someone and wonder what their story might tell.
Everyone started out as someone’s child. Sometimes I’ll see someone and wish that I could just sit down with them and listen about where they’ve been and what they’ve seen. Sometimes I’ll look at a child and wonder what their story will be.
Not everyone likes to share their stories in such a public way as a blog. But I would encourage you to write down your stories. Your children, grandchildren, all of those who come after you will look at pictures of you and wonder what your story is. I know that I do that with pictures that I have.I have old pictures that so far I have not been able to identify. But I can’t get rid of them, even though I have no idea who they are or what their connection to me is. All I know about these pictures is that they were important enough for a grandmother, a great grandmother, a great uncle to hold on to.
I would encourage you to identify who people are in pictures on the back. I would encourage you to write you story for the day when you are no longer around to answer questions. Years from now someone will hold your picture in their hand and wonder what your story was.