What’s the Worst That Can Happen?

Living a life in which you never change. You always eat meatloaf on Tuesday. You work for the same company for more than 30 years and you hate your job, but you’re scared to leave the company. You withdraw from any new person, idea, way of doing things. You criticize anyone who does things differently than you do, even if they achieve the same result. Why is change so crippling to some people?

More of the same produces more of the same. What is keeping us from trying something different, especially if we’re not happy with how things are going in our lives. The more we practice something, the deeper it’s ingrained in us. The deeper the roots, the more difficult change can be. That said, it’s not impossible to change. It takes an awareness at what may be causing a problem. If it’s behavior related, we can investigate which changes we would consider making.

Why do we do the things we do in the way we do them? Are we critical of others? We probably learned that growing up. We can stop that. It takes a different mindset.

Do we have a quick temper at little things? Did we observe this growing up? Holding your temper can take some time, we need to change attitudes toward these minor inconveniences before we can control our temper. Mom used to get very angry at little things. A glass of milk spilled at dinner just sent her into a tailspin. We had a real wood kitchen table which she always covered with a tablecloth. Every night (nearly) one of my little brothers spilled their milk. Mom would go beserk. It’s not like he did it on purpose. Mom lectured while insisting the wet tablecloth be removed immediately. It was stripped off, all the plates, silverware, and other glasses were moved frantically to get the tablecloth removed before the wood was ruined.

Looking back, I seriously doubt the wood table would have been ruined if the milk soaked tablecloth was left while we finished eating. She waxed the heck out of it frequently. Wouldn’t the wax offer some protection? I often wished we had a table made of some other material. Needless to say, mealtime was not happy in our house. Dad didn’t like us talking (arguing, goofing around, etc.) while eating, as he would go to work immediately after dinner. Mealtime conversation has been difficult for me to master, and I’m still working on it. I definitely know it was stressful as kids. Dad didn’t say anything, but often, he would stab at his food, and that meant we needed to immediately zip it, knock it off, cease and desist.

Mealtime wasn’t happy while I was married the first time. Kids don’t eat everything you set before them. Sometimes they do, but mosty not. My kid’s father would eat his food, then start eating the food off the kid’s plates. They were nowhere finished, as kids eat slowly. At times, they would cry and ask Dad to “Stop!” I would get mad. His take was he was right to do what he was doing, since they wouldn’t eat everything and he wanted to eat it while it was still hot. Remember, there were few microwaves before 1982. We did not have one.

Mealtime became peaceful once their dad left. Peace at last. It took guts on my part to end that marriage. I’m so glad I did it, unpopular as my decision was. I never looked back. My kids eventually understood. Best scary thing I ever did. There were plenty more scary decisions, made with much thought and risk. It worked. The change was a great one, I’m happier than I ever could have been. God gave me everything I needed to be strong and learn what I needed to.

What about you? Was there something in your childhood that was a pattern of behavior where you were afraid or upset about? Whatever caused that behavior, make sure it doesn’t happen in your home, under your watch. You can change it. You have the power to do it. I support you and your effort. Take the chance, make your life happier.

Tomorrow starts a busy week. The Honor Guard always has six funerals booked through the VFW. It amazes me how many people are affected by these deaths, and the vast number of Veterans who are buried at the Omaha National Cemetery. The grounds are beautiful and hallowed. I appreciate the Honor Guard and it’s important work. I have some emails that need to go out to my new artist and events to update on the Post website. I’m going to add some pages to my website as well. What good work will you do this week? Thanks for reading and we’ll see you tomorrow!

Choices and Voices

Have you ever had an Epiphany? I remember a dramatic one in 1981. I was married to someone who held ultra traditional roles for men and women – and I blindly followed them for a long time. He held it over my head it was always “his” money, “his” house. OK. He didn’t think I was worth carrying life insurance on. When asked how he would manage working and taking care of out three kids if something would happen to me?

“That’s easy. Your mom would watch them, and I’d just get married again. Problem solved.”

Yes, I was a doormat. I didn’t know any other way. He told me my friend Jan, who was in law school at the time, was a bad influence on me. Too much of a women’s libber. I lost touch with most of my high school friends and only had family, sister’s-in-law, who were wonderful. I hadn’t learned to say, “I’m here and I do count.”

Again, I’m inspired by my daily meditation. “No voice equals no choice. No choice equals no power. From now on, I want to be heard.” Many people my age grew up knowing children should be seen and not heard. I remember hearing that a lot. And girls should be “nice.” Whatever that means. Go along to get along. Don’t rock the boat.

I had a real time with being traditional. All I could see around me were women who complained constantly about their husbands, their lives, their sacrifice. My faith taught we need to make sacrifices and “offer it up.” But all these women, neighbors, aunts, were so miserable.

“How do you stop sacrificing when YOU become the sacrifice?”

I just didn’t want to be angry and bitter for the rest of my life. I was called to jury duty in January of 1981. It changed my life. Yes, it did. I took a book to read and some stitchery project to work on during the times we were sitting around, wondering if we’d be selected. I was every defense attorney’s dream. Little Mrs. Homemaker. Naive. I was on three juries in two weeks.

The last trial was the awakening for me. A man robbed a little person in the Old Market area. The robber was a huge man, who gained fifty pounds while in jail, awaiting trial. He was caught red-handed with the little person’s money divided between his sock and pocket. He was convicted.

As I waited for the bus to go home, it occurred to me, I had a say in what happened to me. I had a choice to make, I did it, and it impacted someone’s life. Why am I not allowed to pick out my own washing machine? My husband bought one that didn’t have the features I felt I needed (like a small light above the dials). It was hard to see in our dark, ancient basement. Yet, I could vote to convict a man of robbery.

My discontent grew as I tried to repair my life and marriage. I went to counseling for 18 months. My then husband went for just three or four months and quit. He expected the guy to tell me I was wrong. He wouldn’t. He helped me realize we were so far apart with our expectations and values for life and family. I started school, and had a 4.0 average. I was shocked. I shouldn’t have been.

Overcoming this pattern of the past opened so many new doors to me for life. I filed for divorce, raised my kids the best I could, remarried fourteen years later, and now, I cannot believe how much choice and voice I have in my own life. I’ve made some mistakes, but I don’t hear about it forever, either. The Babe’s attitude is, “It’s ok, you’ll figure it out.” Wow. What a guy!

It took years for me to learn to speak out and speak up. “Today, I thank God for the miracle of finding my own voice after being mute for so long.” I have learned to pick my battles, also. There are people who you are better off distancing yourself from. They’re stuck in their own version of your past. They are in denial about the need for change in life. I will not let those people take my power away any more!

Life can change for you, too. It is a lot of hard work. You have to be persistent. Don’t ever quit! We all need each other’s encouragement. Let’s give it freely to people who can soar as they come into their own. Thanks for reading today, I appreciate it so much. We’ll see each other again tomorrow. I think over the weekend, the Babe is going to be home all day! Wow! I miss him when he’s gone all day every day. I know, I’m pathetic. But he’s just so nice. I’m lucky, and so is he!

Now, I’m off to watch videos for my Women in Publishing Conference. Find something fun to do! It’s beautiful outside again. Makes me want to poke around in my flowers.