Monthly Archives: June 2012

I’m Going To Miss You

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I arrived in Fort Collins on Tuesday to blistering heat with lots of baggage. Not the emotional kind but the kind with zippers and tape. I feel a surprising freedom which is odd being in the situation I’m in but it feels like I’m on the right path. My son was a bit stressed on the flight here and I asked him how he was doing. He said in the deadpan way only he can…”It’s a lot less stressful traveling alone”. Gotta love that. We are sharing his tiny apartment inside an old house on college row and dealing with huge role reversals that every parent must face when their children become adults with their own lives. It’s kinda fun asking him… So “what’s for dinner”? I get a blank look.

The heat has been an adjustment. No air-conditioning! I was willing to be a good sport (with generous amounts of complaining) until we found out they were taping plastic over all the windows to paint the exterior. I said “uncle” and stayed with a friend last night after a sweltering night on the couch. I can’t imagine how the firefighters must be enduring this.

Last weekend at Lincoln Beach seems like a distant fantasy. On our way there we stopped at Spirit Mountain Casino to use the bathroom and I won ten dollars on a slot machine with a dollar investment! It was beautiful and sunny both days we stayed, which is a miracle. We walked on the beach, watched the seals that live on the strip of land across the inlet from our condo, ate seafood and I enjoyed the company of two very special young people. We humoroulsy watched my son spend hours trying to start a fire in the fireplace and eventually give up. Who needs a fire anyway?

It was great seeing my son reconnect with his cousin. My niece did all the driving thankfully. It was raining when we checked out but it lifted by the time we got to dowtown Portland. We rode the light rail, meandered through Powell’s Bookstore and revived with Voodoo Donuts and coffee.

A very nice end to a great weekend. We drug ourselves home tired but happy and packed up to fly out the next morning. It was emotional saying goodbye to my niece and friends and cool rainy Portland.

I was bitterly disappointed in “The Exotic Marigold Hotel” and found it very depressing. Maybe the movie is better? It had great potential as a story but fell short for me. I picked up a $2 copy of “Smoke Screen” by Sandra Brown in Lincoln Beach at a funky art shop and really liked it. She does great thriller mysteries. I’m hoping to start back on my reading list. The library is a couple blocks away and I need the routine of reading again. It calms me. I’ll be back on track with my blog too. Thanks for sticking with me!

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Normal Shhnormal

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My son arrived last night and we were up late catching up. It is so rewarding as a parent to see your child grow into a fully functioning adult. Ironically we both seem to be struggling with the same challenges. What is NORMAL? Such a huge word for six letters! Problems arise when the people around us decide what our normal should be. The word “should” also travels hand in hand within that iconic shadow.

Making the shift from a parent to an observer of your grown off springs life is not easy but it can be surprisingly pleasurable when you accept that your once towering influence has been reduced to searching, again, for your own normal. Relationships are what shape, mold, and pound us into the thousand shades of grey normal becomes.  It frequently gets painted in stark black and white. Rigid guidelines of others expectations.

I can’t follow someone else’s blueprint, I want to draw my own and I want my children to design theirs. The lines get changed and moved as we do; ever changing the defintion of what we like to box people into. Normal? I prefer to wrap myself into the softness of grey with all the uncertainty it brings.

We three are off to the beach for a weekend of good food, company and great conversation. My niece and son haven’t seen each other in over a decade. Gabe was seven the last time he saw his cousin so there is a lot of reconnecting to do. Let’s get at it!

Displace Or Replace?

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I heard someone refer to a woman as a displaced homemaker and it got me thinking. Is that me? I looked it up and this is the definition: In general,  a man or woman who (1) is at least 30-35 years old, (2) is unemployed  and has not worked  as an employee  for a substantial  number of years but has worked in his or her home providing  unpaid services  for familymembers,  (3) has been dependent  on the income  of another family member but is no longer being supported by that income, (4)  has been receiving  public welfare  assistance for having dependent children, (5) is underemployed  and finding it difficult to upgradeemployment.
All except number four applies to my situation but the reality is that I have worked as a part time employee at many establishments during that period of “unemployment” helping to put food on the table etc. Unfortunetly for me it doesn’t look great on a resume. Human Resources are set up in very intricate ways with point systems and methods that weed out “undesirables” quickly. With my work history I fall under that category. So what do I do? Well…my first course of action is to return to the familiar and Fort Collins where networking will be not as daunting, hopefully. Next, I registered at Workforce and will make an apppointment for an assessment. I also need to explore housing options, transportation issues (close enough to ride a bike or walk) and reconnect with my old network of friends. This is not my favorite part. I don’t want to appear like a victim but yet I need to use all the resources I have to find employment. Asking for help is not my strong suit but pride is a luxury I can’t afford. I think I’d rather start with a government agency, easier because I can be anonymous.
 I cling to the notion that my energy went to providing for the needs of my family. There were a lot of emotional needs to meet and I made them a priority, unlike the way I was raised. It was important for me to see that through, my kids didn’t beg me to bring them into the world, it was my choice. I didn’t have a lot of energy left for building a career although I did take a college course each semester while “at home” for a decade or so. Still… not enough in today’s market. I am a  bright,  articulate woman with a lot to offer. That’s not enough either. When I feel like this I have to put one foot in front of the other until these emotions pass, praying is essential. I am more than a job or a statistic or label. Time to get creative? What will that look like? Feelings of not measuring up are a reality in this journey but fear has been thankfully removed. One of my favorite friends used to say “What are they going to do? Take away my birthday?!! It might help my resume.
I am now reading “The Exotic Marigold Hotel” by Deborah Maggach. It has been contributing to my malaise I’m afraid. Things like retirement, healthcare and the economy are as bleak in Great Britain as they are here and have stirred my pot. In this story the discarded, aging members of society are just arriving to the seductive pull of a better life in India. In their desperation they have been misled. Supposedly that is where the humour comes in but I haven’t seen much so far. I’m waiting. Hoping. Praying for some.
We meet for the second and last book club tonight to discuss “The Birth Order Book”. We decided it only seemed right to end it at Shari’s Restaurant for free pie night. T and I have given up eating desserts but my niece can get away with it, and there is still the wine. I’d rather eat dessert. Hooya!
I’ll close with some of my favorite reminders of how good life IS… My kids, my niece, trees, tea pots, books, libraries, book clubs, pets, fabric, linens, the ocean, the beach, good food, old friends, making friends, email, facebook, blogging…you get the picture.

Gotta Keep Movin

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I get this on so many levels. I am packing up my stuff again and returning my room to it’s guest bed status. I am excited about going back to my old home town and being near my son again. We have missed each other and weren’t ready to be multiple states away. That’s life. We talked about that this week and realize that the transfer to Iowa  was a huge catalyst for SO much change for our whole family. We are still adjusting but we have all grown emotionally too. Trite as it sounds. Moving isn’t just about changing your physical location. Whether it be physically or emotionally, it’s necessary for a high quality life. Something big took place for me last week and I feel different inside. I’m ready to make more big changes and start working on physical issues, changing my outside to fit my inside. I am more willing to dive in the deep end of the water and try new things. I feel fearless. Wow! All from moving, and moving, and moving.

I’m looking forward to connecting with old friends and making new ones, perusing familiar libraries (although they’ve been remodelled) and watching the happy ghosts of my kids childhoods. I’m not looking forward to a job search again but it doesn’t feel as daunting on familiar turf. There are horrendous forrest fires going on in the foothills of Fort Collins right now. Thousands of pristine forrests that I took for granted are now gone. Old neighbors in the mountains where I used to live have been evacuated. These are not your typical residents. Mountain people (and NO I’m not talking Deliverance) are an independent, self- reliant breed and don’t leave their sacred homes easily. I wish them well in their displacement and find it hard to believe I will be joining them soon, again. I’m not the same person who left Fort Collins four years ago next month.

I am very excited at spending two full days at Lincoln Beach with my son and niece next weekend. I love the ocean and miss it terribly. I’ve been land locked for a long time so this is a rare treat. Portland is a wonderful city and Oregon has so much to offer. I’ve found nothing but kindness here with all the Oregonians I’ve met. I’m still impressed with how most of them drive the speed limit. They revel in keeping Portland “weird” and I have to agree with them, I find it wonderfully weird. It is hard to leave. I will miss Bianca, (I want a dog now…yeah right) and all her adorable little quirks. I’ll miss my leafy trail (I’ll get a picture for you), and my friends  T. and B. who provided the environment for this transformation, I will miss seeing all of T’s new jewlery samples and I will actually miss the iced-tea maker I hated in the beginning. I will sorely miss my niece but am committed to visiting as often as possible. I see airplane tickets in her future. I’ve learned a lot in the few months I’ve been here. It has been a worthwhile journey that in many ways feels like it’s just beginning. I’m moving towards something new even though it’s old.

What’s Your Plan?

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I don’t have one. Isn’t it wonderful?! For most of you who know me well, this is unheard of. It all started when this perfectly legitimite question was asked of me a few days ago. It threw me into turmoil. You know, churning stomach, anxiety, sweaty palms. I went to a meeting Monday and some wise women talked me down. They asked me three questions. 1) Is NOT having a plan normal for you? 2) Has it caused you problems in the past? 3) Why do you HAVE to have one? The answer to the first two were no. The last one halted me in my tracks. I’ve been trying to force a long term plan and it’s not working.

I have the opportunity to do things differently. If T and B hadn’t brought me here and let me cocoon for a bit I wouldn’t be able to explore anything. I will never be able to thank them enough for that. I have resisted going with my gut because I’m not SUPPOSED to do it this way, what will people think? What IF? I’m not getting any younger…exactly. It’s uncomfortable sitting with uncomfortable but that is the only way the outcome can be different.  Jumping in would only get me more of the same. Stuck. I realized that I feel guilty and flakey not having a long range plan. I have had these fears my entire life. What if I end up divorced, 58, jobless, and homeless? That is exactly where I’m at. I like to tackle everything all at once and get it out of the way.

What happens when you face your fears by experiencing them? Well I’m still breathing. I told a couple of my loved ones that I’m not afraid of living in a shelter if that is what it would take for me to live independently. They kind of freak, but it’s true. Things I once thought were everything turned into…things. Meaningless things. This has been a MAJOR break through for me. Life changing HUGE. I have turned a corner that I will never pass again.

I got here because a friend that I have known longer than anyone, even family, allowed me to whine, cry and be flakey. NOW that’s friendship at it’s best! I know I’ve annoyed and irritated her at times, (I’ve annoyed and irritated ME) she’s a planner by trade and she works long and hard but we are very different. She is in a committed, happy, long term marriage, I am not any longer and have no one to answer to. I kinda like it now that I’m getting used to it.

A new person is emerging and I’m not sure who she is yet, or what she wants. I do know that I can clean houses, take excellent care of children and animals, dissect rats, work retail, cook, I can practice phlebotomy, microbiology lab assisting, start book clubs, volunteer, elder care, work in a green house, study horticulture, get people excited about reading, shelve and check out books in a library, use the computer, pass a class and make good grades, be a good wife and mom, steadfast friend, blog, and most recently, walk by myself. I am a sum of all these parts. The sooner I give myself permission to be flakey and not have a plan, the sooner this phase will pass. I’ll be sure and keep you posted on what being without a plan feels like day to day. Thanks friends for not being afraid to ask the question.

 

Don’t Assume

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I took my first test today in my computer class. I felt nervous all afternoon preparing for it, not knowing what to expect.  Next week I won’t wait so close to the deadline. As you may have noticed I am unable to keep up with blogging every day. It’s time to make changes (again) because I am getting busier with the work involved in preparing for and finding a job.  I feel like a turtle that moves her neck out of it’s shell a little more each day as her confidence grows in the environment around her. Too many changes all at once can do that to a turtle…er, person.

My new plan is to blog a few times a week. It’s quality not quantity right? This blog was never designed to be every day but I found it essential during the move and adjusting to a new state and town. I’ll continue to read and share my book reviews but that has slowed down too. I’ll have that to look forward to when I find a job and get a routine back. Right now Office 2010 is my best friend. I also will begin counting down the days until my son’s visit (no pressure Gabe) and preparing for my visit to Colorado.

“The Birth Order Book” is still stirring up trouble. I was walking and processing the realities of families of origin like I was born into. They are messy and intense. There were good times but they were exhausting too. I liken it to life in the mob ( I can say that because I am Italian), you have to leave or you’ll end up dead. Symbolically speaking. The nature of my  birth order has shaped me into a persisitent person, maybe not in the way others measure persistence (it’s relative, lets face it) and I don’t give up easily in relationships or going the distance for someone. I am making the transition of putting that energy into me, but it’s not easy. I was taught well not to and practiced it diligently. But ultimately all we have is ourselves.

My life has not lacked  for friends, I’ve been enriched beyond belief with wonderful people who made the commitment to be a part of my life. What I have become less obdurate in is thinking I know what is best for someone other than myself (this includes my children) or making assumptions about situations and people. Assumptions go hand in hand with grandiosity for me. I am a very perceptive person but am wrong more than I am right when I make these.  It annoys me when friends  make assumptions about me that are far from accurate but as they say…Karma. If you aren’t aware of the “ass” word’s negative powers, it’s deja vu all over again (thanks Yogi) and you are doomed to repeat it.

Faaa-BU-Lous And Free!

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I am so impressed with this site I have to share it. I was trying to find a computer class to update skills I need for my job search. Knowing my learning style (I like working at my own pace) and my budget (broke) I started looking on-line and found GCFLearnfree.org.  It stands for Goodwill Community Foundation International. This site allows you to take a formal class, with a teacher’s supervision or pop in and use it when you want without supervision. It offers free tutoring in math, money, reading, Google, Ipad basics, Microsoft Office, Apple, Mac, resumes and more-all FREE!! Have questions about digital stuff? Go here. Questions about all the latest technologies? HERE!!  Check it out on their web site or facebook and let me know what you think.

I love this site so much I could cry. It even allows for screwing around, like I’m doing right now! Hey, I’ve been working on lessons all day, honest. It has everything I need, it’s free, and I don’t feel like an idiot when I don’t know something. In fact you can review stuff as often as you need to. If I had known about this a long time ago I could have been running my own company by now, or at least know how to use all the apps on my cell phone.  Soooooooo share this with everyone you know!! It’s like giving out hugs, or diplomas.

Hoping to finish up “Stones for Ibarra, so I can finish Tarzan, so I can finish Dorothy Cannell’s book, but first…MUST finish class!