old habits

I had a really rough day at work last Friday.  for many reasons — coworkers, staff, deadlines and expectations all whirled together into one perfect storm that set me off my axis.  Truly.  i struggled with a task the whole afternoon.  The. Whole. Afternoon.  i felt myself obsessing, working in circles, producing nothing but chaos — I shut my door so my staff wouldnt have to endure my mood.  My immediate supervisor said something like “thanks” and I imagined sarcasm, criticism, doubt.

It sucked.  At the end of the day, when everyone should have been readying for a nice weekend, I called a coworker in and said, please help.  I cried.  Cried. the tension and self doubt bubbled over and out and there wasn’t much I could do but wallow.  She was amazing.  Used that voice you use when someone you care about is teetering on the edge of a breakdown.  talked me down, through the problem.  Sat with me for almost an hour assessing, addressing and validating.

When I finally was able to put two words together and she felt it was safe to leave me, I sat at my desk and stared at my computer for another half hour. Enveloped in self doubt and anger. Picked up my little solar turkey and threw it across the room.  then, embarassed, picked up the pieces and tossed them in the  trash.

when i finally got myself together enough to go home and unload on my husband, he said ‘screw em, you dont need that job or any job.  Give your notice.”

Now Im not going to do that, i love this job and have no intention of leaving, but hearing those words made such a difference —

And then I was able to keep the demons at bay long enough to enjoy Halloween and spend time with the kids and my sewing machine…but that feeling of incompetence brought back memories that have laid dormant for years — i didnt like it.  I have to work to make sure i dont let myself go there again.

Old habits die hard.


The term “self-care” has been a buzzword in my life lately.  The doctor, my trainer, friends…everyone seems to be on this kick and determined to pull me in ….

So yesterday morning, after I self-cared my achy old body to the gym and completed a nice self-care filled workout, complete with squats, viper work and rope play….

I put up a Christmas tree.  First of the season — okay, I know its not OFFICIALLY the season, but it’s two months from Christmas Day, so I figured, what the heck.  And, Christmas Decorations are my favorite things in the world, so I feel like yesterday was a win.

IT happened Again…

it happened again.  Kids killed in school.  In a community college.  in the center of a little piece of America where people are just trying to do better.  And the news covered it — for a minute.  And the President pleaded with America to fix things — for a minute.  And I shook my head and lowered my eyes in prayer — for a minute.

And today it may happen again.  Or tomorrow.  How do we continue to send our children off to school with this happening.  How do we do nothing.

in the calm

of the morning, sometimes I remember their eyes when they looked up at me.  Or the sticky hands or legos on the floor.  I remember the cut up oranges and apples with peanut butter.  The Barbies and dinosaurs that made up the 80’s and a good part of the 90’s of my life.  Beds full of arms and legs as they scrambled into our bed on Sunday morning, the line of us making our way into church.

And, sometimes it makes me sad.  Melancholy actually — no surprise I guess.  Those years were like jello – soft, colorful, quiet yet capable of eliciting squeals of joy and wails of sorrow.  My children stretched and grew, totally oblivious to the inevitability of change, yet embracing every new skill, word, personality spike.  And I ached to grow with them . Moments of success punctuated by days of “dear lord, did I really do/say that?”

And now they are grown.  Married, successful, struggling in their own way to raise their own children. And I still ache to grow with them.  Some things never change, yes?mia blankee

Self care…

Today I had my second colonoscopy.  I hate even typing the word.  :(

Results were good, no scary things lurking around, which was a relief since last time, 4 years ago, they had to remove some polyps.  (TMI?  Sorry…)  And, I dont have to do it again for 5 years!  Woo hoo!  Hopefully the prep will be better by then.  Good Lord, what a way to ruin a day!  I lost everything except my sense of humor — but wow, what a night.

So, I did what I was supposed to do, had the test.  Worried a bit due to previous results, but felt safe and cared for during the process and appreciative of my doctor’s kind words and honest conversation afterwards.

This “aging” thing has its perks.  I get to choose how to spend my time, I have many people to love and be loved by, I have the resources to do most of what I want…but the downside is this myriad of “tests” that you have to expose yourself to after you turn 50.  And, although you know the chances are you are fine, there is still that nagging doubt.  I tend to spread my tests out over the year, deal with one possibility at a time, but i have friends who pile them all into a one or two month period to get them over with….not sure which is the best idea.  But, for now, this one is over, and I am fine with that!

Declaration of My Independence

Oye.  So, my kids won’t read this.  They don’t have any interest in my blog, which is okay, truly.


I have been slowly declaring my independence from the ties of parenthood, grandparenthood.  Now, that does not FOR ONE MINUTE , mean that I don’t adore my kids and grandkids.  i would drop everything, everything if one of them needed me –and I have many many times.  Happily. I don’t regret or resent any moment with my family over the last 35 years. Not one moment.

But, over the past 2, maybe 3 years, I have realized that I am running out of time.  No drama here, just reality.  I’m almost 58.  Realistically I have maybe 10 -15 years left to feel pretty good, be pretty active.  Then, with my family history, maybe another 5 years to dwindle…and that is best case scenario. Not guaranteed, by any means. I have spent the last 35 years wrapped up  in supporting other people.  My people, my kids.  But, its time, it really is, for me to have some ME time.  for sure.

We took a honeymoon and then one camping trip in my dads camper before we started having children.  popped out 3 in less than five years. When our third child was 5 we took our first weekend away, with out kids.  Did it once a year for the next 2 years.( This was the time in my life when I used to stand in the back yard and watch planes fly over and wonder where they were going, if I would ever fly again.  Yes, I know, poor pitiful me. )

After  our 20th. anniversary I planned a trip to Cleveland to see the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.  I know, Cleveland. That was the extent of our travels, alone, during our marriage.  Period.  We took the kids to the beach, almost every year after the oldest turned 7 — in North Carolina. Wonderful family vacations. We bought a boat, took the kids out every week.  We spent many days with family and with each other, we swam at the neighborhood pool.  We gave them the best life we could. We spent every minute with them, as a family. And it was a good life.

Flash forward, 35 years after we married on that Cold January day.  Kids are grown and married.  6 grandchildren in 6 years and now number 7 due any minute.  We retired early, then went immediately back to work, me in a new career, husband in an extension of his previous job. Our kids all live close.  It is wonderful.  But, it began to be expected that we would cover the holes in their days.  We “felt bad” when the kids were in daycare, so we picked them up almost every day.  we “felt bad” when oldest daughter or our son didn’t get to “go out”, “have fun” — so we babysat, rented beach houses and invited them all to join us.  We worried that they were short on money, or time, or joy or rest time.  So we worked to “fix it”.  And our kids have become quite comfortable and expecting of our involvement.

And then, it occurred to me that while, for 30 years or so,  I was spending every day and night raising kids and then grandkids,  and had zero hobbies, very few friends and no down time, my husband had been  hunting, fishing, building race cars,  playing darts and helping friends.  Not as much as he wanted, but still , finding time to be him.    There was no time to be me.  I lost me.  I went through years of resentment, laying right under the surface, of the life he had molded me into.  It almost drove us to divorce.  I left for a little bit.  He went buck crazy.  I figured, hell, if he wants it back this bad, maybe it IS worth fighting for.

Over the last couple years, I have pushed back.  We are working to live for us now.  It is our time.  We get to vacation alone,  say no to babysitting,  buy things we want and do things we enjoy. When my youngest says “lucky you” when I say we are at the beach, or at a restaurant, I remind her that when I was her age, or when my kids were her kids  age, I was exactly where she is. We are working hard to remove ourselves from our kids marriages – their arguments, decisions are not our business.  We will listen if they talk, but we will not try to solve their problems.  It is not our job to figure out who gets who off the bus, or to the doctor, or new shoes. I shouldn’t turn around on the way to a business meeting to pick up a child that has a parent who should do it, as hard as it is for me to keep driving straight.   We will help, when we can, when asked, but we are trying to help them not assume we are taking care of these things. Its life altering, not only for us, but, Im sure, for them.

We work full time.  We have a big house. We have sore knees and I have stents in my heart.  We have hobbies and toys and things we want to do.  Sometimes we want to do them with company, with children around. Sometimes we try to connect with old friends that we have ignored for years.  Sometimes we will alter our schedule to spend time with the people we love.  We will honor traditions and be present.  I never missed a hockey game, wrestling match or cheerleading performance.  Never missed a dance recital or a band concert.  Never. But I may miss a couple of these things when my grandchildren do them.  I may choose to sit on the back porch and read the paper or drive to the beach.  I’m going to build that beach house and spend months on end there.  And that is ok.

I declare my Independence.

sweet sweet child of mine

I sit here tonight, after a ridiculously long day at work (another story) and am amazed that my baby turns 30 tomorrow.  This sweet child of mine has been a rewarding puzzle since the day we found out we were going to have a third child. feisty and moody, compassionate and fiercely independent, scared of the dark and protective of all she loves.

Third child in a series of amazing beings couldn’t have been easy.  Val chose to stand out in her own way.  Athletic, defiant, demanding and giving.

College found her attacked from all angles.  people she trusted wounded her — and in her desire to please, she wilted, almost disappeared.  2 months before graduation, she broke, she welded and she chose life.

and it has been a whirlwind ever since.  backslides and triumphs, babies and careers, vacations and long bad trips.

and she survives.  She thrives.  She kicks dust in the face of the naysayers and thumbs her nose at the past.  She remembers, oh she remembers, but she moves forward, always forward….she is my wild child, my punk, my butter, my Valerie.  I love her more than life, I will protect and defend her against anyone, anyone who dares to try to hurt my child again.  Happy Birthday punk,, my sweet sweet child, I love you.

This day…

this morning I overslept.  missed the registration for a 5 k I wanted to walk/run for work.  Bummer.

But, then I went to the park and walk/ran my fastest 1k and fastest mile ever.  Redemption, almost.

After deciding I couldnt deal with my husband’s family this afternoon I went to the craft store, bought a bunch of Fall stuff and visited my dads grave.  And it hit me, all over again, I miss him so much. i valued his opinion more than almost anyones, even when I disagreed, even when the dementia was taking over and moments of lucidity were few and far between, I valued what he had to say.  I can still, if I sit very still, hear his voice, his laughter, his whistle.  Whenever he wanted me, whether I was 100 yards down the beach or on the neighbors porch, he would whistle.  And, I would come home.

Today I sat at his grave and discussed these health issues that are raising their head.  Since they mirror the conditions he dealt with, I asked for his guidance, his help, a little intervention — to get me through.  I hung his new flag, I straightened the flowers, kissed his stone, and left.  I cant say I felt better.  But I felt that he had been there with me.  And I know he knows I miss him.

A good cry

Today I had a good cry ( as if there were such a thing…). Damn facebook got me again.

I have written about my son’s marriage.  You dream about your kids getting married, and if you are smart enough, you realize it is their day and will probably not be exactly what you planned.  And, you are okay with that, for the most part.

My son married a woman that doesn’t like us.  Period.  Finds fault in everything, yells, curses and stews like noone I have ever met.  And, loves my son, his daughter and works hard every day. Fights her own demons Im sure == and ignores us, rather than engaging in more drama.

Its a trade off, but for now, its working.

But today, facebook took me back to a video of a young couple’s wedding entrance.  Dancing, hugging, sunglasses.  Music, joy, laughter — bliss.  And I sobbed.  Yup, sobbed.  Pent up tears from their wedding 10 months ago?  Triggered by the happiness on the screen?  Maybe.  Mourning what could have been?  Probably.  Joes friends, and my sons in law would have loved this == I can picture each of them shaking down that aisle, celebrating.  But, it didnt happen.  Instead it was a “vanilla” wedding — banned from the bridal party, the celebrations and the preparation, our family attended, but did not participate.  And while we were there physically and in spirit, it was a sad day for the right side of the aisle.

And today it kind of hit me.