Saturday, July 04, 2015

Rare Moments

Have you ever experienced a moment so perfect that you thought to yourself - I really must remember this, this right here, this experience, this perfect time when the world around me is so wonderful I can't believe it?  I'm struggling for words because this happened to me last night.

It was between 9 and about 9:40 in the evening.  The spouse was off work for the holiday and we had completed a busy day.  We ended up on the swing in the backyard and watched the sun set.  The twilight was cool with just a slight breeze.  Fireflies were beginning their evening dance rituals and the neighbors were lighting fireworks.

I sat down first and waited for him to return with a beverage for him and when he came out, he sat right beside me, not on the other end of the swing.  He said, sipping from his bottle, "We got a lot done today".  I agreed and an easy quiet conversation followed - I really can't even remember specifically what we talked about, but that's not really important.

You would think that a man and a woman who have lived together for 39 years might have nothing to say, and sometimes we don't - words are superfluous at times.  But as we sat there together and relaxed, I was reminded again of how perfect he is for me, and how well we fit.  There's no one I'd rather share these intimate moments with than him.  How grateful I am for his steadiness, his faithfulness, and his sharing with me who he is.

I'm blogging about this because even if no one reads this post, I want it recorded for me.  I want to be able to reach back and remember that this specific thing (event or incident sounds way too harsh for this) happened, and how I felt - and, how thankful I am for him.

To quote Garrison Keillor in one of the most favorite books I own "Leaving Home" - he says - "Thank you God for this good life, and forgive us when we don't love it enough."

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

The Other Side of the Tracks

In this large city I call home, we live close to downtown in an historic neighborhood, characterized by old houses which have been restored, rentals (some kept up and some not), houses in disrepair, and, like ours, houses not exactly in disrepair, but houses that need work to keep them updated. We have lived here many years and know most of our neighbors, it is comfortable and home to us.  Many of our acquaintances, however, would not feel safe here - and don't get me wrong, I don't throw caution to the wind and leave things unlocked, but neither do I fear going outside, walking in my neighborhood (during the day anyway), or sitting on my screened in porch anytime of the day or night.

A couple of evenings ago, I had the occasion to be in a home in the "Oaklawn" neighborhood.  This area is located in the southeast part of my city, and was built shortly after WWII in answer to the aircraft companies needing cheap, fast, affordable housing for its workers.   According to an internet source -

The homes weren't fancy, being built on concrete pads, and followed the same simple design throughout. Some were two bedroom, others were three bedrooms, and a few were small cottage types. The housing was only temporary until the city's economy caught up with Boeing and more homes could be built and sold. The long term plan was to demolish the structures and return the area to its original condition.

However, nothing was demolished, and Oaklawn today, particularly on the south side is cheap, rundown rentals, couches in yards, peeling paint, dogs on chains in the front yards, abandoned vehicles, and about everything you wouldn't want in a neighborhood, particularly in the mid section of this area.  There are homes that have been kept up, but these are not in the majority.  There is a small park for kids which looks like it has recently been built, and there are people who take pride in ownership of their homes, but they are few.

After I left my friend's house, I drove through Oaklawn looking for an address of someone I've known (but I've only been to her house twice).  I normally am not on high alert as I drive through neighborhoods, but this was different.  I saw two guys in a fist fight on the street, and as I kept going, turned down a road that ended up being a circular drive with people out in their yards watching me as I passed by.  Junk piled on curbs, people standing in the street, dogs barking - these things contributed to an extremely uneasy feeling I had and I got out of there, thankfully finding a street which dumped out on 47th street.

I have been thinking about this a lot - what it must be like to be afraid to live in your own home?  What it must be like to not be able to be comfortable in your own environment?  What kids are like who grow up there in poverty and to the sounds of gunfire and the smells of unpicked up trash?  It would be difficult to live each day on "high alert", and very taxing to the body and mind - but people do it every day.  Oaklawn needs help.  I know there is a neighborhood association, and there's a school, and there's a church or two, but somehow I get the feeling that like an ugly boil on your backside, our city leaders would rather not think about it.  I dunno.  I have no answers, only a sudden awareness that in the southeast part of town, families are really struggling.

Sunday, June 07, 2015

Late Ramblings

Yep, it's late for me, after 11:00pm.  I'm finding it difficult to unwind and relax so I thought I'd post - in rereading some of my earlier writings, the yawning has already started  :)

The porch renovation is coming along nicely.  The reno team, which includes some unpaid volunteer help is wonderful - however, lest they think they're done, they're going to tackle a new kitchen floor and a repaint in there for me.  That may involve less time but it will be chaotic inside where I live.  I don't do well with chaos, but many times, it's unavoidable in order to reach a goal.

Health issues are looming large for me these days.  They are complicated and frustrating, and I'm not a very patient patient.  My family physician has been my health care provider for 35 years now and knows me well - and knows that I am struggling.  He's taken good care of me all these years and I know he knows what he's doing, but...  it's hard for me to continue to follow the regimen when results are not what we were expecting.

This next week I'm meeting with a nutritionist who I'm hoping will help.  She talked about 103 miles a minute on the phone, so she may be too high energy for me but we'll see.  I've also started back to the Y, and, I'm keeping track of these small steps on my goal sheet.  On August 12, I want to see what I've accomplished.

Monday, June 01, 2015

Life These Days

Good morning.  I've now completed my 9th year working as a school psychologist.  School is out and I've spent the last week decompressing and getting my "summer vacation legs" underneath me.  Because I tend to procrastinate, and because I tend to want to be lazy, and because I need a visual reminder, I have set some goals for summer and am documenting each step I complete so that I can note progress made.  This "progress" is sometimes noted as incremental tiny steps, so this documentation helps me see that hopefully, it really will make a difference.  There are seven major things I want to accomplish during this two months that I'm off so I'm hoping this chart will help.

However, even on summer "vacation", there are students I think about almost every day.  I wonder how life is for them, and if they are safe at home.  As a mandated reporter, I've had my share of calls to DCF (and I'm not going to rant about those issues here), and those kids always are in my heart.  I wish I knew (or maybe I don't) how they are.  Other students I think about bring happy memories - the one second grader who told me he wanted to be a chemist when he grew up - and proceeded to instruct me on protons, neutrons, and electrons.  The little girl who drew me a picture and wrote on it:  "To Mrs. XXXX - the best teacher I ever had!"  The precocious first grader with her hair piled up on top of her head who took my hand as we walked down the hall.  The student from another country just learning English who tried tried tried so hard to get it right.  A 5th grader leaving my school this year who I've watched carefully since 2nd grade- he now is struggling with lots of issues.  O God, bless them and keep them!

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Today is cool and cloudy, not quite what you might expect in Kansas on June 1.  The gardens are planted but there's been lots and lots of rain (the second wettest May on record just happened) so some things are not thriving as they should, however, lest anyone think I'm complaining, this rain has been an answer to prayer as far as the drought goes.  It's made a big difference.

We're getting ready to tackle two more remodeling projects - thanks to my very talented sister-in-law - we will be redoing our porch and putting new flooring in and painting our kitchen.   Our old house is a challenge, but there are things about it that we like.  I think we'll probably stay here until we can't stay here anymore, then we'll pass it on to our kids and it will be their problem  :) ,

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To close -

"When all is said and done, more is said than done."
-Lou Holtz

Sunday, April 26, 2015

Friendship Part 2

Hey, it's only been a month since I said I'd write the concluding post about friendship - here I am, what more do you want?  :)  (And I should be working on a report for a student, but I'm putting ALL that aside to write, vent, muse, ponder, etc)

I recently celebrated by 39th wedding anniversary, and I've always, almost since day one, felt like I married my best friend.  But I certainly believe that friendship/relationships with others are important, and I wish I could get a handle on that a bit better.  My spouse is kind of the same way.  He has one person in his life he MIGHT call a buddy, but for some reason, men don't seem to trip over these relationships the way women might.  He doesn't really feel the need for what he might call a "friend".  He, like most men, has categorized his acquaintances into "boxes" - these guys are church guys, this man is a person I work with, this person is someone I talk to on the phone in the course of my job, etc.  His friends are utilitarian.  But a "friend"?  Someone to do things with socially or to "share" (God forbid) with?  Nope.  Not happening for the spouse.

However, on the plus side, I enjoy a friendship relationship with my daughter.  It has evolved over the years and I am grateful.  I am also so thankful for the wives my brothers married - they are "friends" but they are family too.  And my sister - what a special relationship THAT is - I treasure it even though we live many miles apart.  Maybe like the person who thinks he needs something other than what he has, I'm chasing something that I don't really need because, well, I've already got it.  Hmmmm.

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School is winding down for the year.  I cannot count the weeks or even days left because I have too much to do and it would overwhelm me.  I am working one day at a time, trying to meet daily goals and not looking much further ahead than that.  I've also recently started to set some personal daily goals as I manage tasks which need to be done at home.  I'm a procrastinator, and if I can put it off, I will do that in a heartbeat so the daily goals help a lot.  Sometimes the motivation isn't there but I've discovered (as all of you already know, I'm sure) that I can STILL accomplish something even if I'm not "feelin' it".

On this rather dreary, windy, cold April evening at twilight, from south central Kansas, may you find peace, contentment, and joy this day.  Until next time.

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Thoughts on Friendship

I've had cause to think about friendships these past few weeks.  It's a tricky thing sometimes, to navigate these relationships because, well, people are people, and, all things are not equal.  People choose relationships for different reasons, and sometimes there's a disparity in the give and take that these friendships require.  When that happens, oftentimes (at least in my experience) the relationship is doomed to fail, which brings about heartache for one or both parties.

I teach a class at church with about, oh, 15-18 women attending.  Some of these women are friends, some are acquaintances.  Some are still looking at me as "the teacher" and are not wanting to become more than that.  That's perfectly ok because frankly, I tend to screw up friendships one way or another.  Job and family life precludes me from having a lot of time to devote to doing "friend" things with people.  And, truth be told, people are wary of being a friend with a psychologist.  They either find me fascinating or intimidating, neither of which is good for a friendship.

Another sometimes deathblow to a developing friendship is if one of the parties confides in and shares more intimately than what the other person is in the relationship for.  This happens to me a lot, that is, people share with me things on a level that I probably don't reciprocate.  I was in a friendship one time where the person accused me of never "giving", that she was always the one who had to "give".  Actually, I thought it was the other way around because she was always the person who was telling me HER problems and asking me for advice that she never took.  Some friendships can be just exhausting!

Currently, I am in a friendship/relationship which as far as I know now, benefits the other person more than it benefits me.  I say this unabashedly because we all know what this is like, we just don't talk about it.  I say "as far as I know now" because as these persons float in and out of your life, you sometimes can see with 20/20 hindsight how the relationship DID benefit you when it was a part of your life but when you're in the throes of it, it's hard to figure that out.

My "friend without benefits" relationship is a difficult trail to climb.  I provide certain things for her, but she does not provide what I need in a friendship, because she can't.  She is my age, yet has lived her whole life without ever learning how to view things from someone else's perspective.  In this "arrangement" we have, it's all about her and what she needs from me - and I gotta tell you, when I understand the terms and abide by them, we get along fine.  When I don't play by her rules then she gets upset, she pouts, and she becomes offended.  I'm sure that as you read this you are asking, why are you in a relationship such as this?

Sometimes it's not about us either.  Sometimes we do it because we just do it, because you just do what you've been called to do.  You love and you try to meet needs, but you must have an understanding of the reciprocation issues in the friendship you are in or these people will cause you grief.  I know that she's mad at me now over something that I didn't do that she thought I should have done for her.  And she'll get maybe get over it.  But in the meantime, I can't lose sleep about it - another person's choices/decisions are theirs alone, as are the consequences.

Next up:  Men and Women's Friendships



Sunday, January 25, 2015

This writing on Sundays is getting to be a habit.  Maybe.  Three weeks in a row doesn't a habit make, I'm told, but we'll go with it anyway.

This past week I've been grieving with a friend for the loss of two lives from her family in the course of a few hours of one day.  I haven't been with her physically as she is not accepting visitors right now, but my thoughts and prayers have sure been with her and her family.  I don't know how this translates into comfort for her, but my ardent wish and hope is that the Holy Spirit is wrapping her up in all of our love and care and that she is touched beyond what she could experience on a purely human level - it is Divine Comfort.  There's a hymn that has that term in the first verse:

  1. All the way my Savior leads me,
    What have I to ask beside?
    Can I doubt His tender mercy,
    Who through life has been my Guide?
    Heav’nly peace, divinest comfort,
    Here by faith in Him to dwell!
    For I know, whate’er befall me,
    Jesus doeth all things well;
    For I know, whate’er befall me,
    Jesus doeth all things well.

-Fanny Crosby