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!

Thursday Things

It has been another busy but slow day. Had another dentist appointment. It was just too hard to get going after that. Unsure why. Then I realized. I saw an article discussing the feelings adults have when too many emotional things (all bad) happen – our bodies make us feel tired. We feel like we have to retreat. It’s a safeguard for our mental health.

Some folks would declare that as bunk; I do not. I told the Babe while we were at lunch, I just wanted to go home and cuddle with the dog, hiding under the covers, and stay there. No particular reason; (except it’s the 907th day in a row with clouds, rain, chills; spring in Nebraska). After seeing that article, I believe the mental health safeguard is true. Yes, it’s far from us, but we are involved. And we should be glad it affects us and distracts us. It means our hearts are still working as they should be; it means we care deeply about humanity. I’m glad to know that. Sometimes I am concerned I have become so used to terrible things happening I’ve become jaded or calloused. Happy to report, I’m not.

Tomorrow, I’m sitting down with my illustrations and book, and inserting them. It will help me kick-start my momentum again. Hoping over the weekend I can open that new box of my sewing machine and set it up. Might have to reconfigure the glass-topped desk I use to double as a sewing table. That would force me to clean up the area after writing, sewing, working on my book, etc. It would keep things more orderly, like I used to. I fell into the bad habit of leaving the sewing machine open, with the project out, and things look very messy. Let’s see how it goes. Whatever it takes to get more done in less time.

Tomorrow, we will spend more time looking at the children’s book. I’ll see you tomorrow!

Learning to Trust During These Times

Much is written in the past week regarding the mass shootings in the United States. Our society is at odds with each other over the latest school shooting yesterday. It rips our hearts from our bodies, no matter who you are, what your beliefs are. Second, Third and Fourth Graders. Oh my Lord. How can this be?

Up front, I am not smart enough to figure out the problem. I am smart enough to know there is not one cause. I am smart enough to know it isn’t simply a matter of gun control. Criminals and mentally damaged people will not comply. Be realistic. How can we be realistic and not lose our hope? This is the challenge. Are we up to it?

By example is how we teach our children the best. What to do when they ask if they are safe? We can tell them they are safe with us. They are safe with us, as safe as anyone can be. We cannot make promises about anything and must be careful not to. Only make promises you are certain of keeping.

We have grandchildren who face going to school every day, and I’m sure these questions come up in discussions with their parents. One daughter and teen granddaughter were in an outdoor mall last summer when a fight broke out with a large group of kids. Our daughter ushered her daughter to the back of the closest store, away from the door, away from all the windows. If there was gunfire, hopefully, they would be safe. They were together, which is what was important. Parents need to be realistic and teach their children how to be as safe as they can be in any situation. The son who is in law enforcement has taught his son how to be safe in a crowd. We need to have the skills to survive, and the skill to remain hopeful in our world. We also need hope to survive.

Please stop comparisons. They further divide us. We need to continue having hope. How? I believe it helps to remain grateful. It’s hard right now. Start at home. Safety. Love. Hugs. Security. The same we had after Sandy Hook and all the other horrible shootings. We need to convey the concept of faith to our children. Faith and hope go together. It’s not God’s fault these things happen. It’s the human frailty and evil left to fester and grow like a cancer in some people that is to blame.

We need to admit when our loved ones are mentally ill. We need to stop the taboo of “don’t tell anyone.” Just because we think, “he’s really a good boy,” doesn’t make him so. This person needed help. I cannot guess what kind. Normalizing admission of mental illnesses makes it much easier to treat. Help should be easier to get. That’s where laws and health care can start. Other options can follow. People smarter than me will have to figure it all out.

We will view news coverage of funerals, sadness, and talking heads. We are outraged, and many lose hope in America. By doing nothing, we assure ourselves of the same. Let’s start with mental health. Let’s make sure our kids understand there are consequences to everything. Don’t let them get away with wrongdoing because you have the money to buy them out of trouble. It will hurt you and your child down the road, and possibly someone else. We all need to be more responsible with our actions, our words, and our examples. Let’s start now. See you tomorrow.

Another (Manic) Monday?

Manic, defined as: showing wild, apparently deranged, excitement and energy. Let’s not get carried away here, boys and girls. I don’t feel that kind of excitement in my body, but do in my mind. I have a couple things with Mom this week, but other than that, plan to enjoy the deck, patio, and the Babe. Anything else is bonus!

Today is my younger brother Steve’s birthday. He was born when I was in kindergarten. Six days before my sixth birthday. Because of him, my dad’s cousin Joann gave me a beautiful store-bought cake. It was the one with the doll in the center, and she had a beautiful dress. Years later, I made one when I took a cake decorating class. Wonderful memory.

Of course, having an older brother (Tom) in the house meant he giggled when Mom cut our pieces from the back of the cake, exposing the naked doll’s butt. It incensed me. Mom was not happy with him and neither was I.

That is life with brothers. Steve, however, is a very kind man. He was always earnest in school, explaining things in depth. I remember him explaining the castration process on calves at the dinner table when he was in FFA. My dad turned white and scolded him for talking about such things at the dinner table, in front of his sister and mother. I had to laugh, I was married and had a baby. Oh, Dad. In some ways, he was like Archie Bunker, all proper and such. Seriously, he was old school, and the consummate gentleman. I think Steve is, too.

Steve lives near Mom and is a godsend to my brother Tim, and me. The three of us handle her yard care, her appointments, and whatever else she needs done. It’s a team effort, but Steve does the most. Every day, he checks in on her. Thanks, man. Happy Birthday. You’re the best!

I have the resolve this manic Monday morning to separate my categories of file folders, printed writing class information, and the most recent copies of my writing into their own groups. Tomorrow, I’ll go through each pile and decide what is to keep and what is to toss. It’s easier to eat an elephant one bite at a time, you know? Join me, if you’d like. We’ll dine on that elephant this week.

Now that we planned the menu for the week, it’s time to go to another task, and get to the flowers who need tending before the day gets away from me. Let’s get it done on Monday. Maybe it will be manic after all. Take care of yourselves, and we’ll see you tomorrow!

I assembled it myself! I think I need a second one.

Loneliness. Not Good?

It’s said in the Bible, when God created everything, planets, skies, animals, Adam, the first thing He declared as not good is “loneliness.” And then He created woman. From the rib of Adam. Eve, created as his equal, remains so despite repeated protests and laws declaring otherwise in our country.

We are social creatures by nature. We need others in our lives. Yes, sometimes I tire of people, too. Reaching out when the need strikes is satisfying to have someone out there when we seek them. Friends make life happier and fuller. Colleagues make it so, too. Learning from one to another is the best when we put our minds and hearts together to create. Sharing those collaborations is the stuff we make our dreams of.

Hurt people withdraw from society. When we withdraw and shun people from approaching us, we make ourselves inaccessible. If we want to attract friends, people whom we can trust, we must be open to people approaching us. Being painfully shy as a teenager, I was aloof to some. In reality, I felt petrified and scared to death.

We can build bridges between ourselves and others with similar interests, groups, activities, and gain satisfying relationships from the bridges. If we make a mistake, it’s ok, it’s not the end of the world, it’s just a path we may not follow in the future. Lessons learned are good. Trust me.

We who are introverted must work at it. We must get outside of ourselves to meet others. Only when we make the attempt can we find fault. If we find fault instead of friends, we need to change our tactics or our search or maybe where we’re searching. Once I learned I deserved better treatment than I was receiving, did the results change. Having been there and done that, I can tell you it works. Try it out for yourselves.

How about that header photo? I am back at my studio/office right now. Like my recent sign? I’m such a sucker for fun stuff at Hobby Lobby. I rotate my stock every once in a while. Yes, I still have some things to rearrange and go through. But we’re almost there! more pics to follow!

Today, try an experiment. When you’re in public, be the first to say, “Good morning.” I love to tell little kids, “I like your hat!” or something similar. It opens up a channel of communication we don’t have now. You’ll become braver with time. Just do it. Don’t overthink it.

More straightening up today. And I have received the drawings from my artist. Excited to see how they look placed on their pages. Hoping you all have something to look forward to today and tomorrow. Enjoy this overcast day if you’re in Eastern Nebraska. It’s another comfortable one. See you tomorrow!

Finally Friday!

In the Midwest, whenever bad weather could develop, the trusty weather guys/gals clog the airways of local channels with many worst-case scenarios. Severe T-Storm warnings beep in every 2 minutes. It’s annoying. The frequency is unnecessary and most of us know to stay inside during a hailstorm, thunderstorm, tornado. We know better than to drive into a blizzard with 75 mph winds. If you just moved here, someone will clue you in.

I’m feeling stuck. Stuck in decluttering. Stuck in writing and life. Why? I’m finding a little tug when the thought of my birthday coming up. I’m feeling a little ancient, and a little not so much. It’s silly, really. All people go through it. I’m grateful to be reaching the age of 70 on the 22nd, and hope for a great birthday cake. I’m here for the cake!

I took Mom to the eye doctor for a six-month check again and she’s stable. I’m glad that’s the report for now. We need no more to deal with. She has PT coming in again and has a new lady coming in for help once a week. Hopefully, this will let her get Mom’s house clean and help her feel satisfied. After three years, the other lady didn’t work out. Those things happen sometimes.

I hope you have a great weekend, now that it’s here. The weather should be perfect and we’ll make the most of it for sure. Have a beautiful evening, and see you tomorrow!

Thursday Morning

Wow, another hot and humid day at the Home Office in Gretna, Nebraska. Grateful for air conditioning. All our modern conveniences make life so much more comfortable. I will make time this morning to get back to the planting I started yesterday. Once they’re finished, I’ll share photos and updates.

I’m working to become more purposeful and consistent in the ways I spend my time. I will accomplish more if I go back to consistency. Even ten minutes of an activity I need to work on is a success. Rarely will you stop once you’re ten minutes in on a project, activity, or event. Human nature is such that we’re all business when we begin something new. When we’re excited about something, we are gung-ho, there is no stopping us. It’s great. For a while. We find excuses, play on our phones, Google obscure topics, and anything else we can think of to avoid our commitment to the new thing.

So far, so good. Figuring it would be cooler this morning, I was just outside for about an hour repotting some succulents from the last couple of years. They are looking fabulous! I’ve heard it said succulents thrive on neglect. The ones that didn’t make it probably needed a little more attention than their heartier sisters. New little ones are taking their places. I’ll run out of potting soil before I finish.

Nature is amazing. We have robins who have nested above our patio, on the underside of the deck. There are three nests. Word must have spread we don’t bother them. Once in a while, Lexie or Goldie will be on the deck, and start sniffing frantically. They are above the nests and know something is going on. Mama Bird is never far away, and it’s just fun all the way around. We see them get their flying lessons from nest to our Linden tree, about 12 feet away. Then suddenly, they’re gone. Empty nests. Until the next time.

I am committed to getting those plants in their proper places. Today, I will run out of potting soil and I cannot carry a big bag alone. The Babe will, he’s nice like that. I love the dirt on my hands and under the nails. It finally feels like spring/summer is beginning. New life and ideas. New projects and arrangements. I look forward to welcoming the 70s again. I cannot wait to see what they have in store. We’ll get through it, whatever it is.

It’s time to finish using up the potting soil. I’m finally learning to pace myself instead of working to exhaustion. For today, at least. The sun is beautiful, hot, and will help my flowers grow. My ideas are growing, too. Oh, it’s going to be a creative summer. Have a great day. See you tomorrow!

Shhh! She’s Fixing the World!

The little lady in this header photograph today may not have access to enough bandages to fix the entire world. Do enough even exist? Will this cause a supply chain issue? Gosh, maybe she should stop. I mean, it’s a gigantic job. And she’s pretty young. Too little to go far alone. Why crush her dream?

Current attention spans aside, she may become bored and stop on her own. No need to crush her dream. It’s so important to let little children dream big. Not that they’ll be the next Bruce Springsteen, Shel Silverstein, or Pete Rose. (Yes, he should be in the hall of fame!) Big dreams help kids investigate how to achieve those dreams. Whether he or she needs music lessons and knowledge, writing lessons and practice, or baseball coaching one on one. Or science instruction, study, experiments. Let them dream and achieve.

Whether they’re male or female, we need to let them find their own way. Then they can fix the world around them. They learn to take ideas and make reality from them. Through creative things, they can heal the world. And show others how to do so. Art and music touch our hearts and make them feel better, from the inside out. All healing goes that way. Inside out. Anyone who heals from trauma and brokenness, including broken heartedness, knows the strength you feel upon healing. That is how we fix the world. One person at a time.

I cannot pass Mother’s Day without wishing the Mom’s out there to have a good day. It can be a hard day. Parts of mine are hard, parts are not. I don’t think this is unusual. Although things didn’t quite go as I would have liked, I would never trade my kids for anything. Raising them were some of the happiest years of my life. Living with their father wasn’t.

I believe a large group of women who serve as bonus mothers who deserve kudos. They’re the women who love their partner’s children because they belong to him. And they love the children. And the children love them back. I’m a lucky step-mom myself. I gained steps when they were adults. The Babe’s two children fit exactly in between my three. Making five kids spanning 7 years. We laugh and say it would have been all over if we’d met when they were little. That’s a lot of kids all in the same age groups!

It would have worked, and our kid’s lives would have been more integrated than now. They don’t really know each other. It’s impossible to get them all together. It’s ok. We get to enjoy them all separately. And we love them, different as they all are. We are blessed beyond our wildest dreams. It hasn’t always been this way. It took years individually and together to get here. Take heart, things are possible you can’t imagine right now. And the hard work is worth it.

Tomorrow will be the day I pick back up to get my studio/office back in order. We had two lovely days off, where all we did was see our grandson play ball, and today, where we spent time together at home, ate, took a nap, and had coffee on the deck in the chill of morning. It’s our favorite place in the summer. From zero dark thirty until the sun rises above the treeline, we talk, sit, and rock in our rocking chairs. It’s a daily vacation. Then we live our lives for the rest of the day.

Have a beautiful evening. Be positive. Keep ahead of the bad feelings. Make sure you talk with someone if you can’t come back from feelings of negativity, worthlessness, and not caring. We are human and we have to care. We have to be cared about. It’s what we’re made for. I care. We can walk together to get you where you need to be.

Harry Kemp, American Poet

I read a thought-provoking poem today. It made me wonder.

I pitied him in his blindness;

But can I boast, I see?

Perhaps there walks a spirit

Close by, who pities me.

Despite all the words that tell us “All You Need Is Love,” “Love makes the world go around,” It honestly isn’t the glue that holds the world together. True love, beautiful as it is, is an extremely elusive reality.

Those of us who are adult children of alcoholics often reach for the wrong love pot. We think being needed signifies being loved. It isn’t. We know that now, but I didn’t know that for a very long time. In fact, not until I met the Babe did I finally learn about all the different aspects of love. None of them involve paying someone’s bills, buying them clothes, listening over and over to the wrong that was done them. Love doesn’t hurt. Not like that. Not because of that.

A grown up man or woman takes care of themselves, their bills, their children, their obligations. They are courteous to their fellow citizens. And are polite. And kind. They respect their prospective partner. Too often, I surrounded myself with those who needed me. And the hurt far outweighed the benefit. Grown up love isn’t needy. Or needing to be needed.

Love and pity are not the same thing. Desperate people cannot love us. They can only grasp at what we offer and strip it and our self-respect away. We feel hurt, are reeling, and building our walls higher to keep ourselves safe. All that does is isolate us. We are not our loved ones’ saviors.

I am grateful to have learned this very important lesson about loving others before I met the Babe. Learning what love isn’t helped me experience what it really is. It’s opened my eyes, heart, mind, and freed my soul. It’s been a gift. And no one stands next to me now, feeling bad for me because I cannot see.

Thank you for reading. We will see each other tomorrow.

Magical Monday Morning

Here we are, in the sunny brightness at the Home Office in Gretna, Nebraska. I woke this morning to several beautiful sounds. One was the Babe talking to one of the dogs. It’s always sweet and he is so kind to them. I sort of dozed, and then heard a woodpecker. He was all about the business of pecking some tree. It’s an interesting way to start the day.

Then, sweetly, Roxie jumped up on the bed and licked my face and neck. She loves the smell (and taste; I suppose) of my makeup remover sheets. I ran out of lavender scented ones, but these are a close second. She licked and then laid her head on me as I pet her. It is very comforting when either dog does that. I don’t want those moments to end, and just let them hug on me, if that’s what they’re doing. When she’s afraid of thunder and lightning, she comes to me. She’s not upset; she just wants to be by me. And that’s ok. Who of us doesn’t want to just be by each other sometimes?

When Goldie left my side to lie on the empty side of the bed and look out of the window, I rose and started the day. I felt so loved. God let me wake; he had Goldie show her Labrador love; and He serenaded me with a Woodpecker’s concerto. If you would be grumpy and negative after all that, we cannot be friends. There is always something to be positive about; to be grateful for; and to have hope for the future. Which will be a thing to work on. For starters, see you tomorrow!