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Monday, June 27, 2011

My Money Tree

Maybe as long ago as 15 years back, I was striving for a solid bank account so that my hard-working husband and I could one day retire and live a comfortable life. That life would have been pretty much on the road in a motor home about 9 months of the year and here in mid-Michigan the other three.  We planned to sell our house and live in that motor home and go where the wind blew us.  I never gave a thought to the old saying about life being what happens while you're busy making plans.  I was too busy working, saving and planning our future.  It was what drove us to work the overtime and not spend more than we had available and maybe miss out on some of the more exotic vacations we might have enjoyed, but it was important to be ready for 'tomorrow' and so we sacrificed some things.

We did go to Hawaii 4 times and took a few cruises and took our kids to Key West for a wonderful week long vacation one time.  We didn't sacrifice all of our 'todays' by any means, but we were always cognizant of the fact that our future needed to be financed.  

I am not sorry we did that.  It was the right thing for us, at that time.  We didn't know the stock market was going to crash and erase a gigantic amount of our savings. We didn't know that my Mom was going to move closer to us and need us to help with things she can't do.  We didn't know that the housing market was going to reduce our home investment to nearly half what we could have sold it for 5 years ago.  Life happened.

There is nothing on that list that upsets me, really.  The money disappearing taught me not to invest in other people, only myself. The relocation of Mom from an hour away and totally independent living to 2 miles away and needing me, has taught me that every single minute I have with her is priceless. Not being able to recoup our investment in this house has taught me that this is my home and I am so fortunate to have one when so many others have lost theirs. It is a beautiful house and I am happy here.  The life that happened to change my plans has been a blessing.

We don't have a money tree and I do wish I had one.  I am not ashamed to say that I am one of those people who has been without enough money and also I have been fairly well set financially and being well set is preferable.  We are not all that well set now.  We are still living comfortably, but my husband has not retired and his paycheck is still being used.  He wants to call it quits this winter and I am on board with that, but I know that sans money tree, it won't be life as usual.  It will be life tucked in.  It will be a much more careful life. It will be okay and it will work, but  it won't be quite so comfortable.  A money tree would mean more time for us together.  It would mean more traveling and less stress.  

Not having a money tree will NOT mean we won't be happier.  It will NOT mean that we will struggle.  It will just mean that we will NOT be spending freely on things that we don't need and we will not be jumping into our motor home and escaping the winter in Michigan as we had hoped.  Then again, we will NOT need to shovel the driveway in order to get to work!

In my fantasy, however, I would use that money tree to finance our winter home in Arizona and one next door for Mom.  I would maintain a home here for the summers and one for her as well.  I would, however, also make sure that I fertilized that tree and kept it trimmed just perfectly so it would continue to 'bloom' for all our the kids to wisely pluck from it for anything they felt they would have to work overtime to achieve.  Time away from your family is NOT a small sacrifice.  I would relieve them of that burden and that regret.


Monday, June 20, 2011

First Love

The first thing that came to mind when I saw this topic was my first 'boy' love,. It was in third grade and I was sure I was going to marry him. He was the only one for me. I was 8 and relatively new in this school and there he was looking absolutely perfect and HE thought I was the most beautiful girl he had ever seen. Perfection! But ya know, Tim and I never even had a date! It was a brief mutual infatuation, but it was my first taste of romantic love. I still see him once in a while and we laugh about the third grade affair. It was not my first love.

I am not going to talk about familial love because that is so special and so incomparable to any other type of love and it is not going to be my subject today either.  My family occupies 90% of my heart, if you care to measure love that way, but the other 10% is very powerful and also important. I am going to write about one of the major parts of that 10%.

My first love, the one I would have given my life for, if needed, was with me for a very long time and occupied by entire world. My family, if they are reading this, know that I am going to introduce you to Smokey.  He was a little reddish colored cocker and something mix puppy my parents got when I was 4 years old.  The first day we had him I was showing him off at my Grandmother's house and dropped him off her back porch, which, by the way, was a second story porch. Everyone thought I had just killed my most precious gift ever.  Wrong!  This little man-dog was as tough as his new owner. He was fine, a little confused when he landed and probably a little sore, but he got up and shook it off!  Good dog!

We were together constantly. He wasn't allowed on the furniture, but he slept on my bed sometimes  (if Momma didn't see him.) He played where I played with whatever I played with.  I dressed him up and played house with him. I tossed balls for him. I petted and kissed him and loved him with all my heart. He was my best friend, my little 'brother', my baby...this little dog was my everything.

I was the last of three kids. One brother and one sister. We lived where there wasn't an overabundance of kids my age to play with until I got into school. Smokey was my constant companion and he was whatever I needed him to be. I loved him as much as I loved any of the people in my world and believe me, I loved all the people in my world!

When I was a senior in high school we had a horrid snow storm. One which required we stay off the roads because they were filled with 3 feet of snow.  Just a day before the storm Smokey had to be taken to the Vet. He hadn't been eating well, wasn't drinking very much and not acting like himself.  He was to undergo some tests for diagnoses. The doctor called us that afternoon and told us he couldn't do anything for our baby.  He was just dying of old age. He was asking permission to euthanize him. What an awful decision to have to make for a 17 year old who didn't remember any day of her life without him! I couldn't be with him and I couldn't let him suffer and I couldn't say it was okay. It was NOT okay. Fortunately, I came around in short order and realized I couldn't keep him living just so I wouldn't have to live without him. I agreed and it was done. He was gone and 44 years later, I still love that dog and I still miss him.  He was my first love.

Today we have 2 dogs. In all the years of my life I have had a dog or more than one. I can't stand the feel of my house without a dog to share my space. They have filled up my life and it all started with one little reddish brown fur ball named Smokey working his way into my heart and teaching me how to love someone more than myself and more than anything else.

The thing about first loves, no matter who they are, is that they are part of who we are today and that makes the memory of that love so strong and so rich!


Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Control or No Control....That is the question.

I have many control issues in my own life. I need to be in control of everything I am involved in, but recognize I am not always the expert and must defer to those who know more than I. (Which, admittedly, would be most everyone about most everything.) What I can't control are the things I have to learn to accept.  Like the things you cannot change, if you cannot control them, you have to let them go. 

Today, however, I chose to discuss something more personal. Control over ones body and mind has always fascinated me. It seems so easy to just KNOW what is right for you and what is wrong for you and then DO the RIGHT thing. Life isn't that simple nor is it that easy.

Example: I am a smoker. There it is. Shame on me. It's disgusting and dirty and completely unacceptable in the world where I live. I eat at home most of the time because I want to enjoy a smoke after I eat and can no longer do that in public. I actually choose NOT to go some places because I know there won't be any way to escape and grab a cig. That is rare, but it has happened. I have tried to quit with great sincerity several times, okay hundreds of times, because my life would be so much simpler if I weren't a smoker. Never because I just wanted to quit.  I have 'succeeded' a few times in that I didn't have a cigarette for as long as 6 weeks.  Then I light up one or two and in a week or less, I am a smoker again. I have never not wanted to smoke, just wanted to not NEED to smoke.  I am addicted, no doubt. I am also done beating myself up over it because everyone else does a good enough job of that for me, no need to add salt to my wounds. I suppose I will try again one day to quit and I may even quit one day, but it isn't going to be today and honestly, I am okay with that. I like me and I know that I have this addiction and I also know that it's okay with me, for now.  I do feel bad that others judge me by this fact severely and some see me as just a weak and nasty and stupid  person who walks around smelling like an ashtray and doesn't care that I am polluting the air they are trying to breathe and doesn't care that I am killing myself.  I think I am a fairly considerate smoker and wish non-smokers would be as considerate. I have NO control over either of these issues, though one would argue that I do.  I do not.

Example: "You would be so beautiful~ if you would just loose some weight."  I have heard this statement from people who were hurt by someone they love saying this simple sentence to them meaning to "Help" them get motivated to drop pounds.It makes me want to scream!  I have said many, many times that I do NOT believe beauty is tied in anyway to the scales. Your weight, your hair color, your hair style, your sense of style, your eyes or your cute feet have nothing to do with your beauty.  They are the things we try to control so that others think we are beautiful. Beautiful people are so because they have wit, giving hearts and an attitude about life that makes them glow. Beautiful people may or may not possess physical characteristics that others consider classic beauty. I think it is rare to find both kinds of beauty in one body, but it happens.  Real beauty involves doing the best you can with what God gave you.  This applies to both your external look and your internal being.  If you strive to be YOUR best, you are on your way to winning the Beauty Contest.

If you are a few pounds heavier than you want to be or if you are morbidly obese, the choice to tackle that situation is yours to make.  If you NEED to lose to be healthy, then get at it and whittle away until you achieve some measure of better health.  If you need help to get there, get it.  If you fail, accept it.  Then decide if you wanna try it again or not.  Don't beat yourself up for your weight! That isn't who YOU ARE.  That is what you weigh. That's all.  If dieting to make yourself "like you" more is important to you, ask yourself, "Why?", and then make a good decision that is right for you.  Maybe just eating a healthier diet as a matter of lifestyle is a good choice for you. Whatever you choose to do, or not do, it will not change  who you are. You either are a beautiful person or you can choose to be one.  That is control we all have and can exercise at our will.  What food goes in our mouth is always our choice, assuming the mental stability issue has been addressed.  It just seems so unnecessary to brow beat oneself into dieting because one isn't a size 2!  SO WHAT? Control who you are and what you do most of the time and call that good!

Our minds are not always so easily controlled, that's for sure.  I very often know that I should be doing something in particular to better my life or someone I love's life and yet, I don't do it.  I don't do it for a number of 'reasons'....too lazy, sounds like  more work than I want to take on today, don't have what I need to do it so I'll put that on my list...I could go on and on, but the point is just knowing doesn't make me in control. My wandering mind sometimes just doesn't want to be controlled by right and wrong or even by good or bad.  Sometimes it just likes to BE.  I really don't have to control it, so far it has served me fairly well and I have no control over most of things in my life!  It just is what it is.

I choose to control my faith and I choose to control my lifestyle and other than that, I choose to accept my blessings and my trials because this is the life I have been given.  I do believe you get what you give and I have been given a tremendous amount of joy and good fortune with a minimal amount of pain.  I'm good with that.


Friday, June 10, 2011

The Post Granddaughters Day

I awoke this morning to an ultra-quiet house.  My daughter and her two daughters plus one of their friends had been here for 2 short days.  The girls had been with me and my daughter had been working, but spent 2 nights here allowing some visiting time in the evenings. Our house was, for those 2 days, just filled with sounds.  Yep, love does have a sound, apparently.  The girls are not particularly noisy, but they are 9 and 11 years old so there is certain amount of giggling, talking, playing games and just "action" involved when they are around. Gosh I miss that this morning.  They got up and on the road without waking me up.  I appreciate their thoughtfulness, allowing Grandma to sleep in, but I would have happily gotten up had I heard them, to get those last hugs before they were on their way.

Two days of little girls and me.  That's kinda like a little slice of heaven for this Grammy.  Everything that I would usually be doing (laundry, cleaning, writing, recording, weeding) didn't get done because I just played and watched the girls play.  Those things can all be done tomorrow or the next day or whenever because now I have an afternoon to spend with my Momma. All of those things are so much more important than whether my floors shine or my windows sparkle (neither of which is happening, btw) and since the midnight fairy will NOT be visiting me anytime soon, I will get to them all in good time because the dirt will wait and time with my ladies (grandbabies, daughter, mom) just won't wait and shouldn't ever have to.

Today is off to a quiet start and I believe today is the day I will start to capture "Momma stories" for my next book.  I am very anxious to collect and then organize, in some fashion, all the stories she can recall that our family would love to have in book form to pass on to our next generation.  She's had a life of experiences, both good and bad, that created the amazing woman we all love today.

In my wandering mind at this moment is nothing but love and the afterglow of my granddaughters latest visit.  I just don't ever want to be too busy with my life to forget what my life is really all about.

Wishing you all unconditional love in your life today or always.  The only way to get it is to give it first.


Sunday, June 5, 2011

Lost & Found Love

I think sometimes about the 'loves' of my past, don't you?  I wonder where they are, if I don't know and who they have become, if I haven't seen them.  I wonder if they remember me.  What I don't wonder is what our lives would have been like had we stayed with each other. I don't wonder that because it wasn't meant to be that way, so why speculate? I lost those loves and they lost me, yet because they still stroll through my mind every now and then, they are more misplaced than lost.  I could find some of them, probably with the internet, but I don't want to. I don't want to KNOW who or where or what they are now, I'd rather just wonder.

That would be the people whose love I lost.  Now the other 'loves' I have lost, the pets who were furpeople sharing my life, those loves I would love to find.  They are gone from this earth, but they will never be gone from my heart.  I remember and love each of them today as I did when they were with me.  So not truly 'lost', but gone; I know where they are.

Occasionally I find something while cleaning out a closet or a cabinet that I thought was lost. Those things weren't  lost, they just weren't where I am sure I put them.  Finding them can be a treasure or it can irritate me no end because I most likely, bought a new one.  Old things that can't be replaced, when found, now that is a treasure.  I love running across old photos or  things someone gave me a long time ago that have sentimental attachment. It's almost like getting or seeing it for the first time except you also have the first time memory to now remember.

Yep, the whole lost and found thing is a double edged sword for me.  Most often if it's  lost, I'd just prefer that it stay lost because finding it means I have to decide if I need to keep it or lose it again!  I am not much of a keeper so it's usually not a huge decision.

What I hate losing and absolutely love finding is friends.  Old ones, new ones.  Old ones are your link to how you got to be who you are and no matter when they became your friends, they will never really be lost.  New ones are works in progress and grow into old friends or slip into the acquaintance category. Nothing wrong with having a ton of acquaintances, but few of them will really become friends.  Friends are precious and as time passes and life happens it's your friends who are just always there. They are there because they choose to be there, not because they are family and have to be there.  Now that I think about it, you can't really lose a friend, but you can sure find one.