human interest

Escape

I can’t imagine that there’s anyone who hasn’t wanted, at least in a moment, to escape the life they’re living.  Why?  Where do those feelings come from?  I think it’s about putting up with the same stuff day after day and getting to the point where we think, “Why am I doing this?”  I think for some people it might be really bad – physical, emotional, sexual abuse – and there’s no option but to fantasize about getting away.  I have no doubt that there’s people whose need to escape is about actual physical survival.  Why do privileged people then think of escape?  Monotony, boredom, knowing there’s life out there.  It’s about being angry and having unmet expectations with the people that form our everyday life.  It’s about feeling like you’ve been put in a cage.  It’s fantasizing about showing them all what they’d be missing if we left their lives.  At the same time, it’s about the adventure!  It’s about the “what ifs”.  Who would I meet, who would I become?  If you truly know yourself, you also know that the people you encounter will influence you.  Who would I become if I leave the world of the people who supposedly know me and venture into a world where no one does?  “Where No One Knows Me” by Jann Arden is one of my favourite songs of all times.

Yep, packing up my life so far.  Got my pictures, got my dog, I’m getting out of here!  Going to find a place where no one knows me.  Going to drive til I can’t even remember who I was when I left and it won’t even matter.  Tore the rear view mirror down and wrapped it in my wedding gown.

Who doesn’t want that at some points in life?  A truly fresh start.  You could make yourself anyone.  Everything you’ve resented, hated about yourself – gone!  It would be the opportunity to make up your own story and become who you always wanted to be going forward,  Possible?

It’s not.  Who we are is based on our histories and the people we’ve known.  Physically escaping them all will never change that.  A true personal change will only happen when we accept who we are now, who we want to be, and start taking the steps to get there.  Maybe running away might be a first step.  It can’t be the only step.  Before you get in the car and drive away, I think we need to ask ourselves, who is it we want to be and can I do that by making that decision and doing what needs to be done in the place where I’m actually living.  What am I really trying to escape?  Is it the people in my life or something I don’t like about me? Who created the bars of this cage I’m living in?  There may be some very real cages but, again, for many of us, it’s the cages we’ve created for ourselves.  It’s the bars we’ve put up around our own lives.  It might be a sense of loyalty or responsibility.  It may just be comfort.  Our bars are our own and we choose to live within them.  The decision to break the bars and escape is likely too scary – too many consequences.  So, we continue to live in the cage and fantasize about escape.

How do we learn all this?  What happened when you were a kid and threatened to run away?  Why did you want to run away?  The most typical reason is being mad at your parents.  “I’m running away.”  You think of the extreme emotion involved in making that statement.  You’re so angry, wanting to punish your parents so bad and not caring that you don’t have a plan on how to survive in the world.  You pack your bag and go.  There may be some parents who prevent them walking out the door but anyone I know, including myself and my own parents, has let them go!  Why?  Seem mean?  It’s because, as parents, we know their life is good, they don’t appreciate it, and they need the bit of the scare of walking away from the only life they know.  As a parent, I also made sure I knew where my 7 year old was at every moment after he walked out the front door.  He walked a few houses down, came back and sat outside our house.  Going out to get him, in my mind, would have been the worse lessen.  I waited until he came back in which seemed like hours and hours later.  I also made sure that there was no anger and only acceptance when he came back through the front door.  I told him I was happy he was back, I’d missed him and that he could always come home.  My 4 year old, at the time, must have heard it because he’s never run away (well, not in that way anyway).

What do we learn by these situations?  We learn the consequence of wanting to be separate from the worlds we were born into.  We learn that leaving may mean a permanent separation.  We learn it can be very lonely venturing into the world without the people who love us most.

Why, then, do we still fantasize about running away as adults?  For me, it goes back to the cage.  For 90% of my life, I might be happy living in the cage I’ve created for myself.  But, there’s moments I want to be free.  I want out.  Then, I remember what walking away from everything I know and love will feel like and I change my mind.  For some, maybe the reality of their lives is worse than anything else.  Maybe that’s why people choose to take their own lives..  They say people who die by suicide do it because the pain of living is worse than the consequence of dying.  Isn’t that the balance we all play with?  Are the consequences of leaving better than the consequences of staying?  Suicide is very much the great escape and I can’t even begin to think that I have any understanding of the level of anguish that comes for people to think dying is better than living.  If you think of running away, though, the concept is the same.  Is the pain of me staying better than the pain of abandoning everything I know and running away?

For all of us, it becomes a decision.  Do I stay or do I go?  If I stay there will be trouble, if I leave it will be double.  I think some musician sang that at some point.  I’ve figured out for me, it’s not about needing to decide – it’s about knowing I can decide.  It’s not about leaving my life, it’s about knowing I can if I want to.  Maybe for some, it’s about dying.  For me, it’s knowing I can run away.  I can cash in life today as I know it and take off.  As long as I know I can (and I might spend hours or days planning it), I always decide to stay.  I recognize how good my life really is and how not having what I do would be too much of a consequence for me to leave.  The new Shawn Mendes song – “it isn’t in my blood.  Sometimes I feel like giving up but I can’t.  I’m overwhelmed and insecure.  Just have a drink and you’ll feel better.  Help me!  It’s like the walls are caving in.  Someone help me.  I’m crawling in my skin.  I need somebody now.”  Our moments of vulnerability.  We all have them.  They are part of life.  Again, it comes down to choice and decision.  Is what I’m feeling right now just a vulnerable moment or do I need to make a change in my life?  Is escape, of any kind, going to help anything?  Is it a moment or has it become the focus of my life?  Only I have control over my life, no matter the circumstances around me.  I can decide.  I can decide.  I can decide.

human interest

Short Story based on Lips of an Angel

Phone’s ringing. I come to a semi state of consciousness. Phone is ringing. I reach over and grab it. It’s her. I don’t know what time it is but I know I’ve been asleep for awhile. It must be late. Why is she calling? I answer, “Hello?”

Silence.

Breathing.

Sobs.

What the fuck?

I roll out of my girlfriend’s arms and grab my phone. I walk through our apartment and say again, “Hello?”

More sobs. More breathing. Finally, “Aaron?”

“Stevie.”

“Why do we hate each other?”

“Stevie.”

“I’m drunk.”

“Honey, why are you calling me?”

“I miss you.”

“Where’s Marcus?”

“Sleeping.”

“Stevie, what’s going on?”

“I’m getting married in 2 weeks.”

“Congratulations.”

“I needed to know if you care.”

“Huh?”

“Aaron, do you want me to marry someone else?”

“Honey, I haven’t talked to you for 2 years. Why are you asking?”

“I thought you’d care.”

“I do care. I want you to be happy. Do you love him?

“Of course I love him.”

“Then, honey, marry him?”

“You’re an asshole.”

“What?”

“You’re an asshole?>”

“Stevie, you called me. You called me in the middle of the night to tell me you’re getting married to a man you fucking love. You woke me up from a warm bed where I was with a woman I love. Why the fuck are you calling me. What do you want?

“I always thought it would be us.”

“Honey, you ended it. You told me you didn’t want me and my life. You were it for me. I told you that. You said it wasn’t enough.”

“I was sick of doubting. I couldn’t live with waking up every morning with the tabloids telling me what you were up to. I told you that.”

“And I told you that you needed to trust me. The fact you couldn’t after everything I said and did, never giving you any reason to doubt me, was reason enough that we couldn’t be together,”

“I shouldn’t have called,”

“No. you shouldn’t have.”

Why is my pulse racing? I don’t want her to hang up. I go to the fridge and grab a beer, I’m not going to analyze why but I know I need to keep the conversation going.

“How’s Sarah?”

“what?”

“How’s your sister?”

“Really? Sarah’s good. She married Brady. They have a 6 month old daughter,”

“I’m happy for them.”

“Me too. Celia is beautiful. I love spending time with her. My parents miss you, you know. They watch the entertainment networks to get their updates. They always tell people, “we know him.” They don’t talk about how they know you.

“I think most of their friends know how they know me, Stevie.”

“I’m sorry, Aaron.”

“I’m sorry too, honey. I’ve got a show tomorrow and I hear Tara waking up. Marry Marcus, make babies. Have a good life. I really want that for you. Let’s just say we were bad timing”

“Goodnight, Aaron.”

“Goodnight, Stevie.”

human interest

Meaning of Life

What is selfishness? My definition – it’s making the world about you. It’s about not only feeling you mean something to the people in our lives – it’s that underlying need to feel the most important. This need is so easy to see in kids. I’ve realized it’s something that actually never truly goes away for any of us.

I think it goes back to finding meaning for our own existence. What’s our value and purpose if we’re not the most important person to someone? Why do we exist if there’s no one puts us above everything and anyone? I think the realization that we can never be the most important person to anyone in every situation is what makes us adults – it’s also what takes some of that childhood spark out of all of our lives.

At some point, we realize we’re not the most important person all the time. Some people have to face the reality earlier than others. Any child that has a younger sibling has gone from being the sole purpose of their parents’ lives to having to share that with a younger sibling. I’ve watched my 3 year old try to shake his newborn brother to death. Most horrifying moment of my life. This was the child that in my mind could do no wrong. No one could tell me he was anything less than perfect. Then I watched him bounce my newborn son so hard in his bouncy seat, we are so lucky he didn’t have shaken baby syndrome. I’d left the room for less than a minute. I tell this story over and over because it was my moment of realization that I truly did love two beings equally and I could actually be angry, truly angry, at my first son. How dare he try to hurt my baby! But, wait, he too was my baby. It’s at this moment parenting truly begins. I’ve had a friend say, “no parent is a parent unless they’ve had more than one.” That’s not meant to be an insult to parents of only children – it’s just the reality of recognizing you can love someone just as much as your first. If you don’t have a second, you never come to that realization. When you have two, standing there staring at you, saying, “I didn’t do it,” and you have no evidence either way, you learn very quickly you can’t take sides, even with suspicion. You learn instead to teach them how to figure it out for themselves and, if accountability is needed, if you can’t pinpoint blame, they’re both accountable. What do they learn about importance to their parents as a result of this lesson? They learn they’re not most important. But, that doesn’t mean that need is lost, they still challenge their parents, friends, other family members to say, “yes, you’re most important.” In most cases, they don’t get that message so just keep seeking elsewhere.

If there’s only two, no matter how healthy the parenting, the younger one grows up believing they have to compete – face it, the older one has probably told them since they were born that they weren’t important and not wanted or needed. They grow up without the expectation of ever being most important but they seek it. I believe a second child tries so much harder to be important to someone. If they find it, they like to hang it over the older’s head. My sister and Nana were like that. My sister believes she was never most important to anyone except Nana. Nana told her at one point in our lives that she favoured the ones that looked like they were left behind. Kind of humourous if you know our family – my aunt, who is only 7 years older than me, and the youngest child of Nana’s family, is the most lost soul I’ve ever met and the one Nana wanted the least to do with because she just didn’t know what to do with her and her personality. What my sister never understood in bragging to me about how she was Nana’s favourite was that I wasn’t most important to anyone. Sure, I had some privilege around being the oldest grandchild but that fades fast when others are born.

Siblings figure it out. They just go with it. There’s healthy and unhealthy sibling relationships. But, having to adapt to being one of two or one of more teaches so many life lessons. In healthier families, you learn you can’t be the most important all the time but you can be the most important sometimes. Hopefully, you come to learn that you are significantly important to your siblings. Hopefully, you learn they will always be there for you and instead of resenting you should appreciate them. Huge lesson.

Then there’s only children – I’ve met a few and I’ve seen the impact. In a healthy family situation and even in some that aren’t so healthy, that child grows up to feel they are the most important person because they truly are in their parent’(s) life. There’s never anything that challenges that in their family life. There’s no blame in that statement –it just is. They have no reason to think differently. As a result, they approach life in that light. They have no reason to believe they aren’t the most important to their friends, boyfriends/girlfriends and I think have a much harder time facing the fact that they can’t be the most important to anyone all the time.

Saying all that, birth order be damned. We all face the lack of importance at some point – it’s just some sooner than others for some. We all know that our time on this earth is going to end in tragedy – we’re going to die. What’s the meaning of life then? It’s knowing we were important to someone for some reason. It may be just one person or maybe, like famous people, it’s a world. We all strive to find our importance to someone and I think leaving this world becomes okay if the people who mean something to us and who truly know and feel they know us are around. How do we make that happen? We’re kind, we’re available to the people we love and make sure they know it, we give them our time, we pay them attention, we our unselfish in our relationships. We take the time to know them so they, in turn, have a reason to want to know us. In my opinion, it’s that easy – that’s the meaning of life.

human interest

My Mother-In-Law

I met June/Mrs. D/Grandma almost 30 years ago.  I met her the same weekend I met my husband Randy – at their camp. It was that camp that formed so much of my relationship with her – it took us beyond the typical daughter-in-law/mother-in-law relationship since we spent so much time there together every summer.  It was so far beyond the relative you saw at holidays.  Becoming the only grandma to my kids when they were very young also contributed to my appreciation of our relationship.

She always told the story of her first sighting of me – she saw me walking across the lawn with her son close on my heels.  She said, “Poor guy, he doesn’t stand a chance.”  I’m not sure if that was a compliment!

To explain my relationship with her, I need to tell the story of how our time together every summer evolved.  The first summer when she realized I was going to be a regular presence, she very clearly told me that I was welcome out there, I needed to stay out of the kitchen (including cooking and clean-up); however, I was expected to help.  I was assigned the jobs of making sure the sleeping cabin was cleaned and dusted and the mats around the yard were swept daily so there wasn’t a build up of debris.  She, and her husband, were also happy when I helped my boyfriend at the time with whatever project he was working on, assigned or not.  I liked her right away because she was so clear.  I always felt welcome but I also always worked hard – not on the jobs my boyfriend gave me – on the ones she did.  Needless to say, when the day came that they decided to plant grass and remove the mats from the yard, I was relieved.

I knew then she hated it when anyone would do anything for her.  She once told me, when you and Randy get married, don’t invite me to dinner.  If you do, serve me Special K because I don’t want anyone going out of their way for me.

I never felt judged by her.  I was only 22 years old when I met her and both my boyfriend and I were both still very much into all-night parties.  There were many nights with 12 plus people in the sleeping cabin and the music blasting until 5 a.m.  Just as many mornings (or afternoons) where I’d get up not feeling so well.  She always had coffee and breakfast ready and never commented on what must have been us keeping her and her husband up all night.  She always said she preferred her kids were home getting up to mischief rather than out who knows where.  She always welcomed anyone who wanted to be there, especially if they gave a hand in the many jobs it takes to maintain a camp.  As much as she said she didn’t like people around, we all know she thrived on it.  There was nothing she liked better than to have a lot of people around to chat with, just sit with, do puzzles with, watch TV with, just be around.  And, you knew if you were around, you needed to eat.  She fed everyone constantly and there was no saying “no thanks.”  You also usually left with a portion of the leftovers!

I always wished I had met her a few years earlier.  She explained why she no longer personally invited people out to camp many times.  In their generosity, people started taking advantage.  So many people would show up out there all the time empty handed expecting to be entertained, fed and watered (only it was the more expensive brand of water!).  They got to the point of not inviting people before I met my husband but I also know, even after that, she’d still open up the camp when it made sense.  Over the years, it became about family.  Every time she was there, the more of her kids, grandkids and great-grandkids that were there, the happier she was.

Everyone who ever met her became part of her family.  Not only friends of hers but friends of her kids and partners/friends of her kids, then same with her grandkids, and so on and so on.  No one ever had an unkind word to say about her.  She was the true centre of so many worlds.  We’ve all lost that centre.  No wonder that at the same time we’re experiencing the loss of her, we’re feeling we’ve lost our centre.  The core – the glue that keeps it all together.

The rules she established with me at camp didn’t change until her husband passed away.  I think people used to shake their heads over the fact that I’d sit and eat dinner then leave the camp and the clean up to her.  But, she and I had an understanding – that was her and I respected it.  The first few years her husband was gone, coming to camp was just too painful for her.  That meant I needed to step up and take care of some of things in the camp.  It created a bit of awkwardness for us.  We both lost our roles or felt like we were.  As her health became worse, it only increased that awkwardness and we did a bit of tip-toeing around each other to make it work.  Even last summer, I’d cook breakfast for my husband and my kids and ask her if she’d like an egg.  She was clear she’d cook it herself if she wanted one.  One part of me felt like a pretty awful person – the other, however, felt good knowing I was respecting her and what she wanted/needed her role to be.  Over the last few years, we figured out how to balance it all.  I honestly believe she appreciated me.  No matter how she was doing physically, I treated her with the respect of her matriarchal position and did everything I could to make it easier for her to do what she needed to do.  Another example is the time I kidnapped her and brought her to the casino. I don’t think her children have forgiven me.  She’d been housebound for months as a result of cancer treatments.  I needed to go for a ride with my son to pick up something we’d ordered.  She wanted to come along for the ride.  She hadn’t been at the casino in months and months so we schemed on the drive to stop in for half hour.  We left my son sitting in the lobby and she had a few minutes of fun in the casino.  She was so happy and so relieved to be out.  She said she felt normal again for a little while.  After we all got shit from her kids, she phoned me later that night to thank me.  She was so tired of only being the patient.  Being the daughter-in-law, I always had the privilege of not to be the primary one to worry about what she should and shouldn’t be doing – I had the ability to always just see her as her and honouring the relationship that her and I had established.

Speaking of the casino, I’m not sure if I should be thankful to her or not (my bank account agrees) to introducing me to the world of gambling and casinos.  One of her favourite conversations was about which machines were paying and who was winning what.  She loved Vegas, she loved the social experience of being in the casino, and it was something she wanted to share.  Her and her husband brought me (with my then boyfriend) to the border casino for the very first time.  I was hooked!  It wasn’t long after I met my boyfriend that we then planned a Vegas vacation with her and her husband.  It was the first of many.  She taught me all the tricks as far as how to get the best deals – take advantage of your points, take advantage of where you can eat when, get a free flight by giving up your seat.  I spent so many hours with the two of them, both in Vegas and in the border casino.  Hours of all sharing a one dollar machine when they still paid out coins and we had little red trays to collect $100.  Keno led to hours of conversation as we’d sit and play close together.  She showed me every place she loved in Vegas, including Laughlin, then did the same for my sister and her boyfriend at the time.  Circus Circus was the place to be – 100’s of stuffed animals from the midway, getting to know the staff, the buffet (go at 11:30 so you pay for breakfast but get lunch!). Bus trips to downtown, free shows, walks on the strip are all things she showed me that, to this day, I still try to pass on to others who are venturing there for the first time.  All of us who gamble know that the casino can be a perfect escape – while you can get lost in your thoughts, you can also get caught up in the machines and the environment.  I will never forget when I miscarried my first pregnancy – the day I found out, at 10:00 at night, she and her husband came and picked my husband and I up and off we went to the border casino.  It was our way of being together, them supporting me, without needing to sit and stare at each other.  It was what I needed and I’ll value that always.  My very last conversation with her a few days ago was about my visit to the border casino, how many people were there and whether or not the machines were paying.

They say if you want to know who a man is, watch how he is with his mother.  One of the reasons I knew my husband was the one I wanted to marry was watching him with his mom and his family.  I came from a family from a newer generation.  Being with a family that had parents who had been together all their adult lives and who were committed to being that way no matter what hardships and changes came their way was something truly admirable to me.  Experiences and events with my family had always been “quiet.”  We were smaller but there were times and places for heated discussions.  When I met that family, there were times I went and hid.  Then and now, they loudly argue with each other on a regular basis – there’s nothing that’s ever left unsaid – audiences be damned.  But, you always felt the love and the connection.  My father-in-law yelling at my husband about how useless he was while winking at me was my sign that it wasn’t out of true anger that these animated and loud conversations happened.  They know to be heard you’ve got to speak the loudest and over top of anyone else who happens to be speaking!  When my first son was born, he spent his first few months in the quiet of our three person family.  He would get so agitated when we first started going to family events, we’d need to leave early.  That didn’t last long – I think he thought, if you can’t beat them, join them and is now more than comfortable in being the loudest voice in the room when he wants to be heard.  This also shifted our small household and my niece now calls us the “yelling family” because we’re so much louder and argumentative in our house than what she experiences in her own.  My youngest son is still learning in the bigger groups of that family that he needs to be louder to be heard.

Back to my husband and his Mom.  He has always struggled with finding his place in the family, coming along so much later than the other three.  His sister had the role of the only girl and the oldest.  The oldest brother had the role of first boy.  His other brother had the role of baby of the family.  Ten years later, my husband came along.  It has never been a question of whether he is loved but I’ve watched him struggle with his role.  At 50, he’s still the unexpected baby.  His love for his mom has been something that I’ve admired, envied, resented, appreciated over the years.  There has nothing he hasn’t been willing to do for her.  His mom, not wanting anyone ever to do anything for her, never expected him to do anything.  To find his purpose, he made the camp his mission, sometimes making changes that his Mom cringed at.  As long as I’ve known him, his way of showing his parents how much he loves them is to make sure their camp legacy lives on.  He’s passed that on to our sons and, for that, I love him more.

I met his niece and nephew when they were 11 and 13.  I kind of knew then that she was the perfect grandmother.  After our kids came along, I started telling people that if you looked up the definition of grandmother, it would be her photo you’d see. She always said she liked them most until they were about two.  Her actions never supported her statement.  She loved each and every one of her grandchildren/great grandchildren for the individuals who they are.  She made a point of getting to know them and recognizing that no two were alike.  She appreciated each of their strengths and loved them with her whole heart.  She went to every event she could, whether it be a mother’s day celebration at a grandkid’s school, coming out to every sporting event she could, attending every music festival and just being there.  Our kids have always known that their Grandma would be there, even if their parents were too angry or upset because of something they’d done.  My mother didn’t parent in the same way but I took that and made it part of how I parent.  There’s not one of her kids/grandkids/great-grandkids that would ever think they weren’t important to her because she made the investment in getting to know them and in committing her time to show how important they are.

She talked to me on a few occasions about how she thought she was a woman before her time.  She would have loved to have gone to university and been a career woman.  She didn’t resent any part of her life but I think her personal dreams allowed her to see beyond the tradition she’d grown up in and accept the ways society was changing and then make it easy to accept everyone around her as a result.  Another lesson she taught me that I’ve tried hard to incorporate into my life.  One example was when my husband and I got engaged.  I was clear with him that I could not convert to Catholicism but wanted to be married in a Christian church.  I thought there’d be opposition.  I wasn’t there for the conversation between him and his Mom but he said later that she’d said, “I’m just happy you’re getting married in a church.”  It was the same when it came to the baptisms for both of our boys.  As a career woman, she never got the credit she deserved.  From what I know, she worked in a paid job for most of her life.  This is a woman who raised four children, for most of her married life had a relative she was either directly caring for because they were in her home or indirectly caring for because she visited them every day, but also worked full-time plus did bookkeeping for either her husband or son.  And she was happy!  I can only speak from what I saw but she thrived on living on 4 hours sleep and coffee and doing what she needed to do.

I’ve talked about a few of the lessons she taught me about life.  There is so much she taught me about knowing myself, being a wife, being a parent and being part of a family.  For me, the biggest lesson was around raising boys.  I grew up in a family that was primarily female dominated.  Then I gave birth to two boys.  I so admired the way she had raised hers – not only the one I was married to but the two too.  While her older sons might have had their Dad more directly to teach them about hunting and fishing and the outdoors, my husband told me stories about his mom in her waders taking him out to the creeks to go fishing for smelts.  My husband, in our adult years, always wanted to take his Dad fishing – his mom always came along – I’m questioning it now about who liked it better.  She never passed up the opportunity, even though she never caught a thing, to be with her family, walking the trails or being on the pontoon boat.  I don’t know if she actually liked fishing – I know she just loved being with those in her family that did.  That’s why I still fish with mine.

She also taught me that boys are boys.  Not that they will be – they are.  Getting all worked up about things we as females take for granted are not things that they give any importance.  That’s not bad – that’s just the reality.  Understanding that it’s not unloving or disrespectful for them to be them has given me a freedom to allow my sons to be who they are and to know that they love and respect me, regardless of the moments I don’t get their thinking or behaviour.

She always told me she wasn’t good with newborns or babies up to 12 months.  She was clear she wouldn’t babysit my first born until he was close to a year old.  Then my younger son was born and my Mom got sick.  He was just 5 months old and my Mom was hospitalized.  I needed to be there and she wouldn’t have had it any different.  She took care of my baby as an infant from the time he was 5 months until my Mom died when he was 9 months on a regular basis.  She always told me her and my younger son had a special bond as a result – a bond I loved even given the horrible circumstance.

She also frustrated the heck out of me when it came to raising kids.  When I went back to work after my oldest was born and she had him two days per week, I gave her the schedule of what needed to happen when.  She didn’t follow the schedule even for one day.  It took me a while but I finally realized and appreciate to this day that it only expanded his life and his experiences – it didn’t take a single thing away.  He still followed the routines in our house but knew a new routine at Grandma’s.  She was the best caregiver – much better than me – when they got older and if they were home sick, they’d say, “can I go to Grandma’s?”  I can’t remember now but maybe I was originally hurt or offended but I quickly moved to, thank goodness, someone who loves my kids as much as I do, can do what doesn’t come naturally to me.  A new appreciation was born.  I learned she’d never do things my way but her way just as good.  We were a good balance.  The proof is the people my kids are now.

I think she thought my husband and I were doing a good job in raising our kids so, for the most part, she didn’t comment.  There were a few times where she did have a voice and gave a subtle slap on the hand for not emotionally meeting their needs,  She kind of gave me crap a few weeks ago when I sent my oldest to school on Monday after he’d had his wisdom teeth out on Friday.  She has also made sure that we were looking at sibling fights between the two without prejudice.  Sometimes it could be so easy to blame one or the other.  She taught me it was a losing battle to ever show one you might be taking preference.

I grew up in a family that women’s rights were a huge lesson – a woman’s right to be equal was what we as women were all workings toward.  I still am fighting for that cause and will never say a man can do something that a woman can’t.  However, in raising two boys under her influence, I realized that males are not the enemy.  They are protective beings who will give everything of themselves to protect the females they love and their families.  May be politically incorrect but I believe it as the truth.  So, to take on the role of preparing nice meals for your family or resisting anything else that may historically may be gender based is not sticking it to feminism.  It gives me pleasure and purpose to cook for my “boys” after they’ve done a day of physical labour.  It gives me satisfaction, after the years of helping my husband with the physical stuff at camp, to be the one now who doesn’t help with that but the one who prepares their meal and cleans up afterwards.  It’s not about I can’t do it or have been told to do it – I want to do it and it gives me pleasure and satisfaction to do so.  If I’d never met my mother-in-law, I don’t know if I’d ever say or admit that.  She taught me that a strong woman can still be the one who cooks and cleans for her family – as long as the rest of the family works just as hard to contribute.  For me, in today’s society, I can accept that as long as it never becomes the expectation that because I’m a female, that’s my role in our family and that’s okay with me.  More than okay.

You and I have never expressed the true emotion between us but I know you knew.  I love you, I will miss you, and I’m so sad that you won’t be part of wherever life takes us all going forward.  Your lessons will live on in all of us.  I know you never wanted credit for anything but take it, know that we all know the influence you’ve had on all of our lives.

human interest

June 9, 2017 – Motivation

We can talk about many mysteries about being human beings on this planet but this topic is the biggest mystery to me when it comes to human beings and why sometimes we have it and sometimes we don’t.  To me, motivation, resilience, passion, drive – they all mean the same thing.  It’s that intrinsic thing that makes us want to accomplish something, something that means we have to make a change or sacrifice to accomplish something we want.  I don’t care how many studies have been done – I don’t think anyone has figured out the answer yet as to why some people are so damn good at it and others aren’t.  Once again, like so many things, it’s a spectrum.  We all have it but it’s the degree to which we have it that causes my questions.

Let’s start with the more obvious examples.  Every time I hear a song on the radio, every time I watch a big league sporting event, every time I see politicians on the news, every time I hear about any public figure – I wonder, how did they get to where they are?  What was different about that person versus millions, billions, of others that got them to their “top”?  Don’t think I’m fame hungry – that’s not what this is about.  But, famous people to me are obvious examples of achieving goals.  I’ve said before that once I’m interested in something, I get obsessed and need to know as much as I can.  I think part of this curiousity is me looking for the answer to this question.  What was different about the way they were raised, their experiences, who they are as people, that got them to this place?

Have you ever noticed that many famous musicians or bands have written or released a song about how the life they’ve earned isn’t the one they want anymore?  In my reading about bands, I can’t believe the struggles they’ve gone through to get where they are.  Many go through years of being penniless, relying on bars to hire them to play so they get a few bucks.  They disappoint their families, pursuing a dream that looks unachievable.  They lose friends and sacrifice themselves all with the hope of getting their music heard.  Then it happens for some – they make it big.  Then, for the world, it’s no longer about the music – it’s about fame, public image and fans.  Many of them self-destruct as a result. There’s story after story of how fame isn’t worth the price yet some young musicians still want it – they give up everything to try to get there.  Why? How?  There’s many good, even great, musicians that don’t have this drive.  What makes the ones who achieve fame different?  Luck?  I’d like to think not.

Athletes!  Let’s talk about them for a minute.  I’d guess the majority of kids play some kind of sport.  At what point in a kid’s life do they think, I’m going to be the best at this.  I’m dedicating my life to being the best.  I’m going to put my sport ahead of academics, social life, even health.  They all know the odds of actually making it big but they pursue it any way.  What is the trigger for these kids?  Intrinsic talent?  I’d like to think not.

Now let’s talk about the less public figures.  Let’s talk about the people who have a life goal and achieve it.  Simple, right?  I think not.  How many of us have achieved what we dreamed of when we were teens or young adults?  At some point, I’d say for most of us, we live day to day and stop focusing on those dreams.  What do you think causes mid-life crises?  Why do we all now talk about bucket lists?  We never forget who we wanted to be and as we get older I think we try to find a way to get back there.  I think that’s why so many people project their own dreams on their kids.

I think it’s safe to say that we all had dreams and aspirations about our lives in general.  Why do some people pursue those dreams with everything they have and others don’t?  I used to believe it was about parenting.  This belief came from trying to answer the question for myself about why I have never had any true passion, drive, motivation to accomplish anything.  I blamed my parents for not being there – never having my back and pushing me forward.  As a kid, I danced, played ringette, modelled, academically achieved.  I never did anything with any of it and I always thought it was because my parents never really supported any of it.  My mom made my dance costumes, took me to ringette practices, was there for my games but then it stopped.  I remember being up sick at night because I needed a modelling outfit and make up, had no money, and my parents just didn’t care.  I will still tell the story to whoever will listen about the expectation on me growing up that I would academically achieve and attend university.  Then it happened – I got accepted to every university to which I applied.  My parents were separated at that point – my mom was re-living her missed young adulthood and my dad was angry about the way his life had turned out.  I didn’t get to go away – I got to go to our local university where I completely failed my first year.  I spent more time attending friends’ classes than I did my own.  In my parents’ eyes, I wasn’t allowed that mistake so had to then go to work full-time and attend school part-time.  I am proud that I did find it in me to still get my degree but it looked so different than what I’d imagined as an honour roll high school kid.

Now I’m raising my own two children, both who are in their teenage years – one who only has a year left of high school.  I thought I’d done everything different.  I have made it a mission to be there for every single moment and interest in their lives.  Academics is big for me so I’ve always done everything I’ve could to support good grades and I’ve been fortunate that they are both academically intelligent.  When one said, “I want to learn to play guitar,” I found him lessons and sat there week after week, teacher after teacher, and have shown genuine interest in every song he’s learned.  Teachers have said he has a natural talent, excels and could play any instrument.  He still plays – he plays at school and for himself but has no drive to pursue it any further.

In a smaller Canadian city, knowing the craziness of parents and hockey, my husband and I had always agreed that we wouldn’t go down that path.  Then my second son, at four years of age, started saying he wanted to play.  We thought it would pass.  At six, we gave in and put him in hockey.  For his first practice, my husband was working out of town so me, knowing nothing about the sport, got a friend at work to draw me a diagram of how to put his equipment on.  He played for six years.  We were there for every game, every tournament.  We were invested in the game of hockey, the parents, players and the life.  Then, at 12, he said he was done.  I convinced him to give it one more year.  At 13, he quit.  He never had the drive or passion.

Going into grade 9, my oldest decided he was going to play football.  Quite the shock to me.  Two things in life I figured I’d never take the time to learn – football and the stock market.  He almost missed the chance to play but ended up on the team.  High school football then became his life.  As a result, football became mine.  I learned all the rules – both Canadian and American.  I picked him up every day from practice, racked his brain about what he’d learned and attended every game.  He became pretty good at his position and the word is he’s the best in the city at his position.  But, aside from high school football, he won’t do anything with it.  He’s had opportunities to go beyond and refuses to take advantage.  My youngest goes into high school next year and now he says he’ll play high school football too.

Compared to how I grew up, like I said, I believed that parental support was the difference.  Now, seeing my kids, I don’t know.  Even in writing this, maybe I’ve gone too far?  Maybe the line is letting them have something that’s just theirs with background support?  I’m not trying to re-live my life through my kids – I’m just trying to make sure they know I’m interested in their lives and their interests matter enough that I’ll educate myself about them.  I’m also not going on a self-blaming path because, I might have these thoughts but what I’ve really learned is committed parents or not, some kids just have it – the motivation, drive, passion, resiliency.  What is it and where did they get it?  If it’s not about parenting, what is it?  That’s the true mystery.

Realizing that, though, makes it even harder for me to accept the fact about myself that I can’t blame anyone for not being a motivated person without a true passion.  If I wanted to dance, play ringette, model, go away to university – why didn’t I?  Sure, my parents probably had a part but I need to accept and explore in myself that I had choice and my choices have made me who I am today.  There’s people who have a lot less and do a lot more.  I still don’t have the answer as to what makes the difference and I probably never will.  As a parent, I really wanted that answer but will only continue to do the best that I can to support both of them in wherever life takes them, at their own discretion and based on their own decisions.  Maybe that’s my passion!

LaneyD

human interest

May 26, 2017 Self Awareness

One of my biggest queries in life is why people don’t take the time to know themselves.  I truly don’t understand how people move through life, showing back to the world what they think others want them to think, believe, dream and want.  Those of us with a level of self-awareness know the ones who aren’t – the ones that we’ve thought we’ve engaged in some real way and then, BAM, they either forget the entire conversation or you observe them saying to someone else something completely contradictory.  This won’t be a popular statement but I’d much rather talk to a racist bigot who truly believes in themselves and their values than someone who flips on a dime.  If you’re not getting this, don’t bother reading further.

To me, knowing yourself is being able to put all the pieces together – all the pieces that contribute to who we are as unique human beings.  It’s about knowing how our history, birth order, brain, parental influences, circumstances, other influential influences, etc., etc., have affected us and then, in turn, accepting it and actually appreciating how all these things have helped form who we are.  It’s about knowing how all these things have contributed to how we think, how we feel, how we view the world, how we relate to other people.  It’s about taking all those pieces and knowing how they form the picture of who we are.  It’s about reflecting on a regular basis about who we are today and who we want to be, recognizing that if there’s incongruence, it’s up to us, us only, to do something different.  To me, it’s so important to get to acceptance rather than live with blame, anger, regret over what has happened in our pasts, whether it’s self-caused or circumstantial.  If you’re living with regret because you’ve said or done something to hurt someone or that goes against who you are, you can’t change it – do your best to repair it.  We all make mistakes – every mistake we make and how we handle it helps us to know a little more about ourselves.  People who are self aware take this information and adjust as a result.  Those changes might be in relationships, behaviour or thoughts.  We might always cringe when we think about what we did but the only relief comes from knowing we did something different moving forward.

How do people who don’t have this level of self acceptance, awareness and understanding function in life?  I know because I’ve seen it.  They say something inappropriate and then deny they said it or justify why.  They make the same mistakes over and over and truly don’t understand why they feel the same consequences over and over.  They can’t figure out why their friends, partners, children don’t understand them and aren’t engaged.  They can’t figure out why they’re lonely when all they’ve done in life is try to please other people.  They either tune out when other people are having an engaging conversation or they resent the fact they’re left out.  They take credit for other people’s ideas and thoughts, presenting them as their own.  They spend their lives trying to impress and be accepted by other people because they only see themselves through someone else’s eyes.

The difference?  Self aware people say inappropriate things and justify them, they can’t always figure out why the people closest to them don’t understand them, they’re sometimes lonely and tune out or disengage from conversation.  They sometimes resent other people or take credit for ideas that aren’t theirs.  The difference?  They know why – it might not be immediate but they take the time to reflect, understand, and more importantly, adjust their future actions.  They figure out why they reacted or behaved in a negative way and usually do something different as a result.  If you don’t take the time to understand why you did it, why would you ever change?

Self reflection is hard.  To be honest with yourself about you is probably one of the hardest things to do in life.  Self reflection leads to self awareness.  Self awareness leads to the realization that you cannot be the same as anyone else.  Realizing you are unique can lead to lonely but, at the same time, it can lead to acceptance.  Once you accept yourself, you are much more likely to accept other people for who they are, no matter their differences from you.  Acceptance of differences leads to the type of world we all say we want – the world where every single human being can be who they are as individuals – with their own values and beliefs – and no one fights about it!  It may lead to disagreements and debates but it doesn’t lead to hate.  We’d all appreciate the disagreements and debates because they’d help us to readjust our thinking or just gain a new appreciation.

I think about the fighting that’s happening in our world and the horrific acts.  I’m old enough to remember that the issue with our Muslim countries wasn’t about their ways of life – it was about the oil.  How has it become that we’re now righteous in this war?  Wouldn’t we and don’t we fight back if someone challenges our way of life?  Whatever gave us the right to go into those countries and tell them they were living wrong?  We didn’t expect a reaction?  Before anyone reports me to world security, I’m not saying I agree or have any level of tolerance with the terrorist acts.  I am horrified and saddened by the violence and the lack of regard for human life.  I am also not saying we shouldn’t step in when we know human rights are being violated.  I do, however, recognize that there are people living in those countries who aren’t terrorists – they too are opposed to killing other human beings – they just want to live their lives – they want to feel good about their day to day lives, feel wanted and loved by the people in their lives, want to watch their children grow into better human beings than they can ever hope to be, and not live in fear.  How does anyone hate a whole culture or religion because of the acts of a few?  We learned nothing from Hitler, the Jews and WWII?

My sister made something clear to me (she actually does that a lot) one day.  No matter the terrible and unimaginable things people do sometimes, someone loves that person.  Someone gave birth to them, maybe raised them, maybe were friends with them.  When we know and love a person who does something that is unacceptable and incomprehensible, we may be angry at them for the act but their act doesn’t take the love or history away.  Self awareness helps us reconcile those conflicting emotions – if you really know someone, you can sometimes understand their actions even if they are not understandable or acceptable to you.  You can also accept why you still love someone who has done something that is completely unacceptable to you.

I’ve gone off on an unintended path but that’s where my thoughts led me!  On a lighter note but as my final message on the topic of self awareness:  Wear what makes you feel good – not what’s in fashion; talk to people you actually enjoy talking to; share your thoughts because they might be unique but people who care about you want to hear them; stay true to your beliefs and values; accept your past and the impact of those who may have done you wrong – you can’t change it; always share your weirdness.  Don’t fret being unique – embrace it – because, guess what, as much as anyone pretends otherwise, we’re all unique.  Don’t allow yourself to live in a world where that’s not okay.

LaneyD

P.S.  I do know that there are some people who have grown up believing they’ve never mattered to anyone.  My heart hurts for children who were born with no one ever wanting them, loving them, or giving them any importance.  These kids become adults.  I believe it’s these adults who look for belonging elsewhere so become involved in lifestyles and situations that most of us can’t understand.  If you encounter a child in your life who you know might be feeling unloved and unwanted, do something about it!

human interest

May 18, 2017 – Men

Today I’m sharing one of the thoughts that often consumes me.  My sister and I have had many great discussions about this topic.  What is it?  Men!  This isn’t about how they irritate us or how we can love that significant one in our lives at the same time as wanting to wrap our hands around their necks (thanks, P!nk, for that line).  This is about what we do to them.  This is how we, as women, fuck with them all the time and then blame them for the outcome of our own actions.

I can only speak about this topic from a heterosexual female perspective because that’s all I know.  It’s not that I can’t appreciate other types of relationships but want to make it clear that this is what I know.

I have to tell my story about my relationships with men first so there’s some context to these thoughts.  From the time I was born, my life was female dominated.  The men in my world (my Dad and both grandfathers) were scary and we just tried to stay out of their way.  Two of them drank too much and one of them was much older so he was kind of a non entity.  This one we were taught to respect but stay out of his hair – typical old fashioned kids messaging – we should be seen but not heard.  My mom and two grandmothers were the biggest influence on me growing up.  We had one uncle who moved away to attend university when I was only about 3 – he was the fun, goofy uncle who made family visits fun when he actually came home for them.  I then had one male cousin who was born about 5 or 6 years after me and we didn’t see much of him so no real influence or understanding came from that relationship.  I never had a BFF with a cool older brother or a male neighbour who became a friend.  I lived my life surrounded by females.  This might not be all that significant but you also need to consider the era in which my Mom grew up.

My Mom was born in 1947.  At that time, her family life was pretty stable.  She had a beautiful mom and a dad who was a WWII veteran but who took her for a ride on his motorcycle while she had curlers in her hair when she was a teenager.  From everything I know, she was a princess in her world, well loved and secure.  She met my Dad when she was about 19.  My Dad was the mysterious, quiet but cool guy, three years older, from another high school, who drove a fast, fancy car.  Needless to say, I was conceived in that car while they were engaged and apparently the public story was I was born premature – yah, right.  My Dad had been taught a man’s role in life was simple – provide for your family.  That’s it, that’s all.  He is a very intelligent man who would have loved to go to university when he graduated from high school but that wasn’t appropriate for a man in his family in those days – his sister was sent (then dropped out).  He took his marriage and his role very seriously.  I won’t remember all the details but they bought a house, had savings, and all the material possessions anyone could want as 24 and 21 year old parents.  But, it was the 70’s.  Helen Reddy and women’s rights activists came along.  My Mom wasn’t happy – everything with my Dad became about the practical.  There was no focus on them as a couple or emotional needs.  With that and the combination of both their stubborn personalities, their relationship was always volatile.  My Mom, who was working banking and retail jobs (that she wasn’t allowed to keep when her pregnancies started showing), decided at some point she was returning to school and social work was her chosen field.  My Dad half-heartedly supported her – he wasn’t against it but never really understood it.

Fast forward a few years.  Now, we have a woman who is questioning her role in her own life, society is telling women to stand up and roar, and she’s being educated in a field that supports equality.  This woman is raising two daughters.  At some point during all this, my Dad was either gone working or he was drunk.  Can you guess where that left me?  Put this story together with my original one about males in my life.

If you can’t guess – I grew up believing women don’t need men.  I grew up the way I’m guessing most boys grow up – don’t be needy, be strong, don’t show emotion.  Women are equal in all ways and that means we can only be self reliant – don’t ever count on anyone – only believe in yourself – be self sufficient – be okay alone.  Men’s role?  I can’t really say.  My Mom would have sworn it wasn’t about being a provider (but that’s what my Dad always was for her, if nothing else).  It would have horrified her if I’d said they were just babymakers.  Whatever she consciously or sub-consciously believed men’s role to be, I grew up believing you take what you need from them.  Your life partner doesn’t have to be a friend – you have other people in your world that meet that need.

Then I fell in love – a love that started as attraction – but a love I knew I wanted.  I met a man who had a beautiful family life.  He had a mom and dad that were old school but who were a stable force in his life.  He had older brothers and a sister that he fought with but would do anything for each other, any time.  He lived a simple life but one that was full of love.  I wanted that – I wanted to be part of a family that loved like that – one that had each other’s backs – one that I knew my children would be loved.  He wasn’t my best friend – he probably has actually never even been my friend – but, he loves me.  He is my safety net – our worlds are merged – I can’t imagine life without him. We’ve made a life together, one I wouldn’t trade for anything.  I got exactly what I thought I wanted – I got a man who is committed to me and loves me more than life and who loves our children, teaching them a whole different way of viewing the world, along with his family.

For a while, I loved just being loved by this man.  I had that at home, yet I had a career that was evolving, had friends that I hung out with whenever I wanted.  Then our first son was born.  I’ll tell the story another time of his birth and how that in itself changed my world.  For the purpose of this story, the second son came along 3 ½ years later.  Imagine me – a woman who has been taught to believe males have no real purpose in this world to be living with three of them.  Not only that, I’m apparently expected to raise two of them?!  About 18 months after my second son was born, my Mom died.  I don’t have any idea how I may have approached parenting two boys differently if my Mom was still alive – it actually worries me a bit.  Because, today, I love the fact that I’m the mom of two boys – I love everything about their lives – I love the way their minds work, even though it’s so different from mine – I have had no choice but to shift every lesson my Mom taught me about men.  Why?  Because I knew right from the time my first one was born that they really do have a purpose.  Men are not the enemy.  Every man is a mother’s son.  It’s what a mother chooses to do with that that counts.  I believe every parent needs to invest the energy into showing their kids they’re important, showing them they have meaning and can be everything they want to be.  It can’t just be words, the actions need to substantiate.  My need to be that kind of parent overshadowed everything I learned about men.  If you read my first blog, if I get an inclination that I need to learn something, I go all out.  I attended a session at my oldest’s day care about the “boy brain”.  I read books.  When my boys got old enough, I just started listening.

To this day, I hate it when someone says to me, “you’re so lucky to have boys – girls are so much harder.”  What does that even mean?  Yes, there may be differences based on whatever gender our kids are or they identify as, but being a parent to a unique individual is the true challenge.  I’ve learned by talking to too many mothers that, at a very young age, they assumed their boys no longer needed them and so left it up to the dads – positive influence or not.  Why do people do that to their boys?  Raising children isn’t about gender.  Raising children is about helping your child to grow into the best person they can be.  It’s about appreciating all the influences in their lives whether it’s grandparents, teachers, friends, other relatives.  It’s about helping them process the understanding that there are differences but trying your best to guide them towards being healthy, happy human beings who appreciate diversity.  You need to teach them that the grandfather who believes women should be barefoot and pregnant should be respected but they’re not right.  You need to teach them that friends who are bullying other kids, based on ethnicity, colour, religion, sexuality, are not friends worth having.  At the same time, it’s teaching them it’s okay sometimes not to isolate yourself by taking a stance, unless it truly means something to you.  I’m not promoting passivism but, for kids, sometimes passivism is the best option.  I dare you to disagree if you’re a parent!

If you’ve read this far, you’re probably still wondering how this all ties to “we, as women, fuck with men all the time and then blame them for the outcome of our own actions.”  I needed to explain why I have this level of understanding.  If you don’t get my perspective now, oh well.  But, what I’ve learned is that as heterosexual females, we want in our intimate partner, that best friend – the man who will spend time being our BFF that shares our secret thoughts, that can sit back and gab.  But, when they do, if it’s not our moment, we look at them like they’re weak .  We think:  Grab some balls!  Be a man!  Open doors for me.  Be my provider.  Be my safety net.

The role we want them to play depends on our day – are we vulnerable, looking to share, or do we need them to stand up and take control of the situation.  We don’t know what a day will bring so how do we expect them to know?  My sister told me about some research that’s been done related to dominance and submission and how you are only really one.  I so disagree – to me it depends on the day.  I believe we all have both in us depending on the day.  Sometimes in your daily life, you’ve already given up more control then you wanted so going to bed with your partner, you want to claim some of that back.  Other times, you’ve been so in control, you’re a tight string and need someone else to ease the pressure.  To me, sexual intimacy comes from communication about where each of us are at.  I’m so not good at this part – I can say it and understand it but it’s so hard to practice it.

On a side note but a note that ties it all together – in high school, us vain heterosexual females wanted the cool guy – the one who stands out in some way – maybe sports, maybe badass, the ones that stand out.  Most girls ignore the “nerds” – can you imagine high school and the boy that loved Shakespeare and who wrote poems?  No high school girl ever publicly looked.  At the same time, no matter what kind of music you like, isn’t every truly powerful love song written by a man?  We, as woman, disregard them for the most part until they become famous with love songs that rock the world.  Then we’re hanging pictures in our rooms, joining fan clubs, spending life savings going to their concerts.  Really?  They are the poets we ignored in high school.  They are the boys everyone probably called “gay” because they expressed some kind of emotion. They were the ones that were more in touch with their emotions than we were ourselves.

The men we dedicate our lives too can never get it right.  I’ve learned from my boys that they will give everything if their heart is involved.  I reflect on my life with boys/men and believe this to be true.  It’s us, as girls/women, who have such a hard time figuring out what we really want – and it changes based on what’s happening in our world.  If you really think about it, we expect them to be mind readers and emotional barometers.  Think about it:  “I feel fat” means tell me I look good but if you’ve gained a few pounds, you then think, well now he’s lying.  You expect that he’s going to compare you to other women but if he has the nerve to voice it, he will pay.  You want him to want him to have a life separate from you but resent it if he has the nerve to make plans that exclude you.  You want him to give you freedom to be you but rely on him to keep you in  check when needed.

Unlike my Dad and grandfathers, men/boys are living in a whole new world.  They’ve got influences in their lives that are still very traditional but they’ve been taught that’s no longer the way.  They don’t by nature talk about this shit with their friends.  Their girlfriends fluctuate hourly on what they want and need.  Do we really expect them to figure it out?

Share your thoughts….

LaneyD

P.S.  I do believe, if my Mom had lived, she’d have gone through a transformation too with two grandsons.  I also don’t regret anything I learned from my Mom or any of the women in my life.  I do believe that women needed to stand up and assert their independence to get the world where it is today.  There is always a price to pay for change.  First world problem – I know.

P.S.S. My husband was just looking over my shoulder and asked why I don’t share what I’m writing with him.  My response – go ahead – let me finish but you’re more than welcome to read it.  So, if he is reading this, you need to know I have no regrets – I love you and love figuring out life challenges with you.  Better or worse, you are my life partner and I only see a future with you in it.