Monday, Monday & Anger

We’re still decluttering and talking about how to both know what’s going on with everything in the household. Ever since we got married, we kept our finances separate. We both had debts that took a while to pay down. By then, the kids needed legitimate help once in a while, and we just kept things separate.

Since we’re both in our 70s now, we decided it’s a good idea to fill each other in on our separate debts, regular payments, etc. This revelation shocked some folks, but it works for us. It’s worked for nearly 25 years, no need to change it now. Soon, we’ll both be on point to take something out of our retirement accounts annually. I love we have always been able to trust each other with everything. Assets, money, retirement, fidelity, relationships with opposite-sex friends, the whole nine yards. It is a gift that keeps giving.

I feel as if I’m behind with the Artist’s Way this week. I’m creating like crazy on the quilt for grandson Cody, and we’re getting a lot of little things completed along the way. We thought the Christmas tree would be in the box by dinner time today, but no, that didn’t happen. We’ve decided we’re pleased with the results of our extra attention we’re paying to our home now. It’s making our surroundings more comfortable and productive.

I’m glad our dad always insisted we learn to pay attention to what goes on around us. Pay attention to people, traffic, other people walking, whatever is going on. We grew up in a world and neighborhood where all the neighbors knew each other, where it was safe to ride our bikes to the library or the park.

My kids pay attention like I did as a kid. While driving them to school one day many years ago, one of them talked about the beautiful sunrise we could see daily; complete with a couple clouds, orange and crimson streaks, for effect. It was after my dad died. Nick said, “This reminds me of when Grandpa had us watch Bob Ross paint on television.” Yes. He certainly paid attention. I want to paint scenes like that. I will. Just follow along, it will happen.

I need to devote more time to the lessons in the Artist’s Way. This week is about anger. This is a tough feeling for me. Like most women my age, they taught us to not show anger. Nice girls and women do not get angry. Control your temper, ladies. This was not true in our home. Our mom was frequently angry. I did not know why, I just felt responsible. This was what she experienced growing up. Yelling is how she cleared the air. I would quietly go to my room and hide out until I had to come out. Walking on eggshells is not a way to live. I was such a nervous kid, always afraid I did something wrong. I shrunk up and tried to be invisible. Anger should not be the only emotion kids witness.

The proper way to deal with anger is to use it for good. If you are a person who blows up and yells at everything, you need to learn why you do this and learn what you need to do to handle the feelings causing this before you cause harm to others in your family, especially children. Mom still goes through her “rant and rave” sessions. And it still makes me feel like I did something wrong. It’s different from “venting,” it’s damaging to relationships, your personal life, spaces, and other people.

What Cameron says about anger is huge. Anger is fuel, it’s a map, it is to be listened to. Anger is a map. To show you where you need to go next; it shows what you need to change boundary-wise. It points the way, not just a finger. If Mom, stressed and angry, should have used the anger to see what the problem was and how she could correct it. She didn’t know any better.

Problem was, the dysfunction took over, just as she witnessed as a child; yelling and shouting was the learned response. It is one of the worst ways to handle the situation. But they didn’t know any better. It would have been a healthier response to think about the stress, overwhelm, and problem. Handle it constructively.

During this time era, people kept secrets. Secrets about everything. Domestic violence. Infidelity. Mental Health issues. Special needs children. Children who had learning disabilities. And stresses/problems of stay at home moms. No one admitted to any problems.

I didn’t have a blueprint for what to do when your kids grew up. I’ve had a hard time when they’ve all left, which is what I raised them to do. Even with the Babe in my life, I missed those kids so bad. I still do, but differently. I’ve never insisted they come on holidays when others may need their presence too. They all know they’re welcome anytime. But where did that leave me? All we can do is carve out a niche for us and furnish it with what we need.

All of this is uncharted territory. Find what you get angry about and figure out how to stop it. There was a time in my life that I, too, yelled at my kids. My mom was angry, and I didn’t want that to happen to me. My unhappy first marriage caused my anger. I filed for divorce and stopped the destructive behavior. I became very calm and happy. It was amazing. I didn’t end up an angry woman. Grateful.

I will take this unit to heart. Recovering a sense of power is important. I am aware of my power and I want to use it to the max. We’ll see how the week goes. We’re supposed to get some snow this week. I’m happy. It is winter, after all. If you’re angry, analyze where it comes from. And how to re-direct it. You may get some answers you didn’t bargain for. Have a happy Monday, and we’ll see you tomorrow.

The Three C’s: Cause, Control, Cure

In dealing with other people, I’ve read it’s important to keep these three C’s in mind:

You didn’t cause it, you can’t control it, and you can’t cure it.

Wish I’d known this years ago. In my codependence years, I thought if I was just “better” I could make Mom happier. Then she wouldn’t be so upset at everything all the time. I stayed in my room a lot, to be in the quiet. And through life, there have been those less than good relationships with the same cause (codependency) where I truly believed if I helped them, they would want a better life. Nothing is further from the truth.

I’m talking boyfriends, relatives, friends, many folks who just seem to need something they don’t have. Truth of the matter is, they caused their problems; controlled them; and they were the only ones who could cure them. End of conversation. Nothing was my fault. As a parting shot, many a codependent boyfriend tells a girlfriend like me, “It’s your fault. You’re a nag. Gained weight. You think you’re better than anyone.” Nope. Not buying it. Never again. Their excuses and addictions are the product of their poor decisions. Nothing else.

So, what can I control? Not much, but for my mood, thoughts, actions. You know, the usual. I’ve written I’ve been off all week. Maybe I found a cure. I sewed together 42 beautiful quilt blocks this morning. There are six rows of twelve each. I’m trimming threads and going to press them later. Then, they go up on the design wall downstairs in the “bedroom.” I’ll show you tomorrow. Truth is, I was losing my hope. I could have worried about the grandkids all over the country. Instead, I did something I’ve been missing a lot. Want to re-sharpen those skills up before beginning my grandkids’ quilts for Christmas.

I am doing something positive and my heart feels better; less burdened, more hopeful, and happier. I didn’t cause this. I cannot fix it, nor can I cure it. I can only do what I can do to heal my part of it. It’s really all any of us can do.

Of course, you’re entitled to opinions of what we should do. We’re not entitled to be hostile towards each other because of it. Let’s all work at making our part of the world kinder, at least for a while. Thank you for reading. See you tomorrow!

Relationship Health

Today’s handy dandy reading begins with this quote:

A relationship can’t be healthier than the people in it.”

Wow. Is this true or what? If you have repeated mistakes over and over with your relationships, perhaps your model is faulty. In some homes, anger isn’t expressed verbally. Silence reigns supreme. And if you have a major player who slams doors, cupboards, drawers, etc., it plays out as a rather noisy display. No one argues out loud. The kids learn to avoid confrontation but to be noisy with objects under certain circumstances. Not healthy when you learn what all that means.

Next door, you may find a household where they yell and throw things and the whole neighborhood witnesses the anger and it’s results. There may or may not be physical bruises on one of the adults and/or the children. This is an extreme, but it’s real for some folks. Sometimes, an adult or child has bruises on their spirit. Those are hardest to see and heal. It may take a lifetime.

In the book, “The Four Agreements,” Don Miguel Ruiz talks about what he calls, “Domestication and the Dream of the Planet.” In this chapter, he says everything we experience is a dream. While we are awake and while we sleep. When we are awake, time becomes the material frame that makes us perceive things in the order they occur. While sleeping, we do not have a frame, and dreams change constantly within the subconscious. Often, we do not remember the dreams we make while sleeping.

Ruiz further speculates before we were born, all of society through the ages combined their collective dreams into one mass dream which he calls the dream of the planet. Within this structure is the dream of family, community, society’s rules, beliefs, laws, cultures, school structures, events, holidays, etc.

As humans, we’re made to dream. What happens when we’re born is we become part of the dream of others. They dutifully teach us all that is in their dreams for us, along with what society deems necessary. Wow. That’s heavy!

As children, we learn to follow what catches our attention. It could be the soothing voice we heard before birth, which we learn to call Mama. For some children, it is the yelling heard before birth, which they learn later is their Mama. Both children will behave differently with their Mama because of this early conditioning.

We discuss attention a lot in these times. I think a lot of outside influences alters length of attention span. You cannot give a kid a video game on your phone constantly as a calming device and expect them to have a long memory or attention span. Again, they behave differently because of this early experience. Other influences include school, religion, and other groups which are repeated over and over. They become part of the child’s dream, without him or her accepting or rejecting them.

Just think, we have learned how to behave in public, at school, in church, and at the local amusement park all because we watch and mimic those around us who have given us our dreams. Not everyone likes the same things, yet we all believed Disney World is truly the “happiest place on earth.” All it takes is a walk through the giant cafeteria areas at meal time to see all the upset children, angry parents, and over-tired babies to make me question if that statement is true. I question that.

Hooking the attention of others is a major marketing plan. Our teachers hooked our attention to learn; our pastor or priest hooked our attention to worship God; Mom & Dad, Sisters or Brothers, all hooked our attention to soothe us, teach us, correct us, and believe. If our attention isn’t hooked, we don’t store the information they offer. As kids, we believe everything adults say.

Ruiz calls this the domestication of humans. Just as our pets, domesticated by humans hooking their attention, babies and young children are also. The difference? Your pets don’t (usually) question the truths they learn during the process. The outside dream teaches us how to behave. Reward vs. Punishment becomes the driving force. In school, if we don’t keep quiet while the teacher is speaking, we are punished. If we do what we were told, are rewarded with a good grade.

We (hopefully) learn to keep the law, obey our elders, obey the police, and everyone around us

We are also taught how to judge others. Do they follow our training? No? Why not? A different belief? Oh wow. Mind blown.

As we grow up, we learn to judge others. Michael M. was a smart alec in 8th grade. Got in a lot of trouble because he smiled all the time. The other kids labeled him a troublemaker. We didn’t want to be like him. We didn’t want to be in trouble. I remember once I stated my mind in an essay for school. I used the term, “No matter who doesn’t like it,” when stating my choice in music. The principal called my mom and told me I disrespected her. I learned to keep quiet.

We pay for our mistakes repeatedly in our lives. In a world where true justice exists, we’re found guilty once and serve our time. But humans have the terrible trait of holding a mistake over someone’s head forever. I remember, for about 35 years after divorcing my children’s father, Mom reminded me constantly, “I never wanted you to marry him in the first place!” Yes, Mother, we heard you the first 300 times you told me. R

When a two-year-old says, “NO!” through the balky teenager, to the one who doesn’t feel as if they belong in a family (and there are many of us) sometimes there are those who question things. Their parents, other adults they admire, and society. Some never do. They go along and get along fine.

Ruiz takes time to tell how the definition of hell can be all around us. It’s an idea which could make many depressed. He suggests we are only alive when we risk, take a chance. Risky behavior aside, starting a business at 69 years of age is my risk for last year. Publishing my first book will happen while I’m 70 years old. I am so excited about this part of life on the horizon! The biggest risk I ever took was at 30, divorcing my husband. I had three kids, no full-time job yet, but I knew I had to do it. It all worked out better than I could have ever planned and plotted. I truly believe God timed all those events out in His plan for me and the kids. I was living in hell. It ended when I acted outside the box, the rules, the limitations of my upbringing. That isn’t a slam against my parents. It just didn’t work for me.

Yes, I was the black sheep for a long time. But so what? Yes, it was lonely. Some of us can live without the vast network other people need. Being unconventional is now an asset. You want people in your life. You know darned good and well you can live without them. Some friendships work out, some don’t.

Of course, the Babe and I have talked about when one of us passes away. It will be awful. Because we’ve both lived a long time, we know we won’t die from it. We know we have to keep living. I can only speculate what that will look like. I can just pray to God to guide us when that happens, as will the Babe. Faith takes us a long way in life. And sometimes we have to rely on that alone to go through life’s trials.

Ruiz continues and suggests we need a new dream. That makes sense to me. It is what I learned when I accepted change is inevitable in life and we must change as we learn and live. My life turned out so different than I expected. It’s full of living, love, and resembles nothing I could has dreamed of as a child. Once I took that enormous risk in 1982. It’s been a great ride. I’m grateful and ready for much more.

Tomorrow, I’ll begin my 70s. I look forward to them and having you journey with me. This is going to be some kind of fun. See you tomorrow!

A Peaceful Heart

We all know of someone with a hair trigger temper. A rant can begin at any time, you just don’t know when. Walking on eggshells is no way to live.

“Anger helps straighten out a problem like a fan helps straighten a pile of papers.”

We all know someone who throws temper tantrums, who slam doors and object to prove their displeasure and stomp around to prove a point. How childish. It’s no way to live.

The outbursts we threaten others are spontaneous in number and severity. We make them watch out, don’t rile us up, or we would intimidate them and make them wish we weren’t around. Is this any way for us to relate to people? Is this any way for these people around us to have to exist?

The outbursts are NOT just blowing off steam. They’re opportunities for a cheap thrill by feeling powerful that simply indicates we are short on coping skills. We forget the steam we justify we’re blowing off actually blasts others in the face. Tirades have never solved a problem. Mom was raised in a home where people argued and yelled. She says her mother made her and her sisters afraid of their father. “Don’t tell Dad” is a terrible thing to do to kids. It teaches them to lie and omit parts of the truth. Kids echo the behavior they see around them. Unfortunately, she was frequently angry. I believe it was overwhelm; she had two children under the age of two and didn’t have a lot of help from Dad. Men did not participate in daily tasks with children in the early 1950s. Again, it depends on how you’re raised.

As folks learn to deal with their anger in a constructive manner, anger should subside. Anger, left untamed, can destroy a person, a family, and guarantee dysfunction for the lives of coming generations. It happens more often than not. The person who recognizes this dysfunction and speaks up is often the black sheep for at least a while. It takes courage to speak up and vow to take a different path than the one your parent followed. They just didn’t know any better. It wasn’t their fault.

What you can do is intend to handle situations differently. Be accountable to yourself. Make it a calmer world for your children. It will also be a calmer world for you, too. Once I realized showing anger towards my children and yelling was not the way a Mom should behave, I stopped. I was about 25 years old when I learned an alternate way to be. My life was full of tension and turmoil due to my marriage. I learned other ways of coping with my anxiety. I became a different person, a much better Mom, and learned about personal growth and improving yourself all the days of your life. And we’re not finished yet.

Think about your peace, and the peace you create in your home. Are people walking on eggshells around you? You can change that. You can choose to break a family curse. Yes you can. Work on your own temper. Is it out of control? Is it too much? Reign it in. Control it before it controls you. Have a beautiful evening. See you tomorrow!

It’s Been a Week.

We rode high from the outstanding success of our awards ceremony at the Post Sunday. We raised $2,020 for Nebraska COPS; a donation of $3,500 from ABATE and our Car Shows/Raffles fundraising produced $2,240 checks for both Guitars for Vets and Moving Veterans Forward. Life smacked my family with a giant, undeserved comeuppance at 4 a.m. Monday morning. No cause for alarm cousins. Just know mom fell and hit her head. She is ok, nothing at all broken.

Very lucky, for being ** years old; and truthfully, she looks like hell.One brother lives across the street. He and his wonderful partner called 911 and he went to the ER. He texted my younger brother and me; and took the day off and cared for her the rest of the day once she could go home. I spent Tuesday and Wednesday with her, going to her doctor and adjusting some things. No more canes for stability, she has to use a walker. Therapy at the house, too. Help her build some strength up. All normal stuff in the life of an elderly person.

Mom has been an exception to every rule since Dad died 33 years ago. She just picked up and went on with life. She worked, volunteered, learned, traveled, and did a lot of thing. Like hand feed an elephant at the zoo. Like babysit a baby orang and gorilla when their mama’s rejected them. If we couldn’t find her at home, she’d be at the zoo. Her stroke and reduced vision took that from her a few years ago. She gave up driving on her own; she knew it was no longer safe for her or others. She gave us a gift there.

I’ve decided to tell you about the rest of the week after I catch up around the house and the Post website. It’s got to be done to get the balance back as well as we can. Mom will lose a little independence, but she’s still at home, where she’s lived since 1949. Yes, you read that right. 1949. Bless her heart! Prayers gratefully accepted!

If you have your parents, call them. Tell them how you love them. Help keep them in their home as long as possible. It all takes work, but you will be glad you did it. They will thank you. Be Kind today. Be Grateful today. Make a difference today. See you tomorrow!

P.S. No, the photo is not of our mom!