Saturday, May 26, 2012

Grandparents Rule!!!

Although I think of my maternal grandparents frequently, as well as other members of family and friends no longer with us, it was only this week that I realized how much they left us.

I, also, know that my younger relatives haven't heard half of the histories and stories (real or myths!) that surrounded them.  What a shame! 

My grandparents were of a generation, unlike today, that knew how to work, how to survive, how to save, how to stretch a meal and a dollar, knew what needed to be done, and how to do it.  There was no discussion, no bargaining, no compromise, and, definitely, no whining.  They commanded respect (yes, sometimes out of fear!) but mostly from love and admiration for what they accomplished in their lives together.  And everyone knew it, from the closest relatives to the mysterious lady who styled my grandmother's hair that no one ever saw, neighbors we'd never met, and their childrens' friends and families!

Their funerals would make anyone envious for the number of people that appeared out of nowhere to pay their respects, almost too many for the funeral home.  That's how many lives they touched in their years together.  You would have thought royalty was being honored on those days!

Separately, they were something else.  Together, they were a force to be reckoned with.

Our great-grandmother, Cora, was given the "suggestion" to get our young grandmother OUT of Mississippi by the Sheriff.  We still don't know what she did or who she cussed out to warrant that!  Grandma was sent to live in the big city of Chicago with her older brother.  Her brother showed her picture to our then-bachelor grandfather who responded with the immediate desire to marry her!  Just telling like I heard it, folks.  I've seen a pic and, boy, did they look good together!

Now, Grandma, given her strong personality, won him over, obviously.  However, she was not going to be the wife of a man that played saxophone in a band.  She told him that.

Pawpaw, as we called him, put the horn down, away, and never picked it up to play again.  I once saw it in an old, old case in their closet.  It was worn and dusty and forgotten, sacrificed for the love of a good woman.

Now, don't get me wrong.  Pawpaw was no push-over.  Oh, noooo!  Another story was told by our deceased eldest uncle, of walking down the street as a young man with his friend and spotting Pawpaw on the other side of the street.  Pawpaw was rushing behind a man trying to get away and as he caught up to him, he gave that man a beating.  Our uncle's friend said, "Isn't that your father?  Should we go and help him?" The answer was, "No.  He's got it." And he did.  I often wonder what that man said or did to Pawpaw to make him so enraged that day. 

I can only say that it must have been pretty bad because that same man could be as funny, sweet and gentle as anyone you'd ever want to meet.  He loved his kids and really loved THEIR kids (us brats).  He'd pop in from the back porch where he and his dog hung out during the Sunday or holiday get-togethers, just to dance for us a few minutes (I think, to check on us!), then back off again to the porch.  Just a man, his dog, some Old Grandad, unfiltered Pall Malls, and his thoughts.

He was the hardest working man I'd ever heard of.  Oh, did I mention he had a wife and 10 children to house, feed, and clothe from the 40's to the 60's, until his retirement?  He was the man who did what he had to do.  Where are those men now?  Do they still exist?  Perhaps.

After a few half-hearted attempts at 'relationships',  I had resolved that my 'soulmate' was blind, married, living on the other side of the world, with 8 kids, and an incurable disease.  In other words, I'd told the Lord, if you have someone for me, great.  If you don't and it's You and me, that's good, too. 

Shortly after, God sent me a man (of a different race but good eyesight!), who lived on the other side of the United States, with no wife, a grown stepchild, and healthy as a horse.  He had proposed and wanted me to move to his State.  I, as we women tend to do, decided to test this relationship, and asked if he would move to where I lived.  Without a beat, he said, no. 

"NO?  You don't want to be with me wherever I am? You jerk! Are you thinking I'll just leave my life for you now?? You're NUTS! It's OVER!" 

Of course, I didn't say any of that because I took a deep breath, thinking of the type of person he was, I quietly asked, why not?  Something/someONE urged me to have faith this man would come up with a satisfactory response.

"I was born and raised here.  I know where everything is and who to call on for anything here.  I can take better care of you here."  DING DING DING! Good answer!

Neither of us knew that years later I'd be diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis so I thought it was a sweet sentiment, but seemingly unnecessary, at the time.

So, I moved. A couple of months later, we had an ant problem. That required my husband to crawl under the house to spray, with all the ant hills, spiders, webs, critters, and God only knows what else. I knew he felt almost the way I do about them all.  Basically put...EEEEEEEEEEE!!!

But he did it. 

He did it.  And he won my heart even more that day.  Why? Because he saved me from the big bad terrible ants?  Yeah, right! (OK, partially!) But I loved him because I saw a man like my Pawpaw and knew I'd lucked out.  No!  I'd been blessed!  This was another stage of my "reboot".  No more silly questions.  Trust in this man to do the right thing.  He won't disappoint.

Now, we won't have as many years together as my grandparents did, but we will squeeze in all the love we can, like they did, for as long as we can.  In fact, that's similar to Tommy's toast on our wedding day.

I pray that my daughter will find the same one day.  In fact, I wish it for everyone. 

Have a blessed weekend, Memorial Day, and week, All!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

From 300 to 206! Wow!

You probably are thinking about weight loss right now, right?  Yes, that was intentional.  Sorry I mislead you.  (Nah! I'm not really!)

I was inspired this week to comment on a Tweet posted this morning by @hereisjasmin of (I like that name!).

She posted that we have 300 bones when we are born and by the time of adulthood, we only have 206.  It's not that I didn't know that (pat on the back) but I started to worry again for people, especially women, who know very little about their own bodies.

I think it should be required that we take an anatomy and physiology class once we've developed our bodies to know what it's doing, how it works, what to expect it to do in the future, and how to keep it in optimum condition for as long as we can.  I say as long as we can because...well, come on..from the moment we are born, we start to die.  GOOD MORNING, SUNSHINE!!! Sorry, but it's a fact.

Anyway, back to the body and the mind.  There is a definite connection.  There is no reason for us to pay attention to our bodies, unless there is pain or pleasure.  No? What the heck?  Throw a psychology class in there, too!

I'd like to ask the average reader of this blog, do you know where your diaphragm is and what it does?  And, no, I'm not talking birth control here.  But speaking of that, do you understand how and when and why you have a menstrual cycle? Where blood is made? How the heart, veins, arteries work?  Where certain hormones are secreted and what their function is? It's amazing how we can have these incredibly efficient and intricately engineered bodies and not want to know all about them unless we're studying for a job in a medical field. 

The diaphragm is a muscle located at the base of our lungs.  It helps us to breathe thoroughly allowing total emptying of the lungs on exhalation with help from the abdominal muscles (everyone's aware of those!).  In fact, correct and healthy breathing does not come when you stick out your chest and inhale until it hurts but when you expand your abs.  You are literally filling your lungs from the bottom up.

See?  We don't even know how to breathe!! (Unless you take yoga or a martial art.)

I encourage everyone to do some research, take a class, anything to make yourself more knowledgeable about the only body you have. 

I could go on about how the brain works...which is, indeed, separate from the "mind" but I don't want to sound like a know-it-all.  God knows, I only know a tiny fraction of what there is to know in this world and I'll be the first to admit it. 

Thinking of a recent encounter, I do want readers to know something about how my mind and soul work. Ahem. I'll never be that person who has to have the last word, who claims to have every subject known and will debate you with both gloves on, and needs followers to confirm me in my 'rightness'. I've met people like that all my life and now I just listen, obtain the info in-between that is actually useful, thank them and move on.

I find those exact actions lead to a more peaceful existence for me. 

But that's just me rebooting.

Have a blessed rest of the week, All!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

"It's not a lie..."

The remainder of that statement is, "...if you believe it."

It's a direct quote from George Costanza on an episode of Jerry Seinfeld.  Yes, I am actually quoting George Costanza!  I've done worse in my life of which I will not speak, except to my priest.

My response to George is, "Yeah.  It is!"

Let's talk lies.

People are uncomfortable with this subject and insist they never lie.  Really? 

Politicians lie all the time.  Parents lie to children.  Drivers lie to try to get out of tickets.  Children lie to avoid getting into trouble.  But all will tell you, they aren't lying. (Oh, no, she is NOT trying to call me a liar!! Here, hold the keys to my Jaguar!) 

The worse lie?  The lies we tell ourselves to the point that we believe them. 

How much are we lying to ourselves?  Lessee....

We lie about what we need to have in our lives, mostly, our lifestyle, our homes, our jobs, what's on our backs, stuff for our kids, to like, or to be liked and admired.

We try to live lives that look successful (financially!), knowing there's a problem with paying the electricity or being broke from taking care of grown children, and have nothing saved and nothing of the hard-earned money working for us, anywhere.

A very independent and strong single friend has a beautiful large home of her own.  She, to many, appears to be living the 'good life'.  Before you think I'm about to throw her under the bus....let me tell you.  She's wisely saved and paid off cars.  She wisely saved and invested and put down money to have a home built to her specifications, sold it, made money, and was able to put down enough (with left-over funds), to relax about that house.  She has mentioned that if she ever lost her job, she could make the payments working at McDonald's.  Now, that's planning. 

It's the kind of forward-thinking and planning we all should have.  Being adults, we are way past the immediate gratification stage of development.  That's for infants.  They want what they want and want it NOW. 

Here's another example:  my husband is the 'good one' with the money.  I have NO problem handing the responsibility over to him and he's comfortable with it.  In a marriage, you can't lie to yourself or spouse about your strengths and weaknesses.  I know about it but don't have to deal with it.  That works for us.  We have 'board meetings' regularly to see where we are and to plan.  Find what works for you.  It's not a control issue.  It just works.

In handing that weakness over, he has managed to place us in a position of comfort, if not material wealth.  Our mortgage is less than a third of our neighbors.  It's a simple small house and it's ours.  I'll be honest.  Until we win a lottery, we won't get to travel as much as we like and my hair and nails are done at Salon de Sucarichi.  I've said before, I'm not a shopper so my clothing budget is what some would call pitiful.  However, we enjoy ourselves and eat well and more healthily now than ever before in our lives.  We don't lie to ourselves about the 'deal-breakers', either.  Tommy wants to eat out occasionally and I like to buy books.  Obviously, we have simple needs.  This is something that, if we had young children, we would teach them.  The more you have, the more you worry about.  The lie is that you still need those things no matter WHAT!

It's important to consider your own deal-breakers, honestly, and work within the confines of some tough decisions.  We are not rich and may never be, but what we are is satisfied with what we have and are still ready for emergencies (Thank you, Suze Orman!).  The smartest things I've heard her say was regarding standing in your truth.

What we have, I wish for everyone.  I would love to know that everyone can lay their heads down at night without the stressors that keep many up from chasing after the Joneses.  That is the true blessing.  You DO realize that The Joneses no longer exist, right?  That's the lie. They are an illusion.  The Joneses represent the tremendous amount of debt our country and citizens have incurred over the period of many years.  The Joneses dissipated into an atmosphere of greed and pride.  Finally, they couldn't keep up with themselves.  Hopefully, they have seen that not living above your means is no longer the answer in this economy.  Live BELOW your means (another Suze-ism!) as financial matters improve.  I do still hold out hope that it will.  That's no lie.

If I could do anything with this blog, it would be to convince everyone that it's not the address, the dress, make-up, hair, nails, or car that make you "YOU".  You were who you are long before the capability of getting things.  One day, you will be you in the grave without those things.  It's inevitable.  Life is short.  Pursuit of stuff makes it even shorter.  Your things don't stay with you, but those you show love and kindness to will always be there for you.

I have one last thing.  There may be some readers, thank you, that noticed the absence of the ads on this blog.  I tried it, then realized I don't want the interruptions in thought nor do I want any readers to think I'm trying to make money from their time.  That is not why this particular blog is being written.  I'm no fool.  Everyone wants to make money.  I just don't want to do it that way. 

Thanks for reading and have a blessed rest of the week, All!