Every year a friend of mine and a team of other women put together an online store to raise funds for a needy family. They ask for and receive donations of crafts, baking, gifts, candles, gift certificates and jewelry and then sell them through a private on-line “store”. It is a great way to get into the spirit of the season and give back to some people who really need it. People who are struggling financially and perhaps emotionally.
This year we are the needy family. I would like to take a few minutes to tell you why we are struggling. Here goes.
In August my husband and I made the decision to cancel our planned two-week Christmas vacation in Hawaii. His work contract would be ending in December and while we had no reason to think he wouldn’t get another contract, we both felt it was the financially responsible thing to do. Still, it was a dark day when I emailed the agent and told her to cancel our condo reservations and the flights we had booked on points. I was the one who had to tell the kids that despite just spending three weeks in Southern California we would not be flying to Maui in December. They were real troopers.
It’s been almost eighteen months since I quit my job. It did take me a few months to get used to being at home during the day while our daughter was at school, but I think I adjusted well. Yoga had never really been my thing but I learnt to embrace it as it helped stretch out the muscles I was now stressing on longer daily runs in the woods with my friends. Now that my husband isn’t traveling as much there really isn’t any reason for me not to return to work. I’m going to have to adjust my running schedule and won’t be able to help out at school hot lunch days but I know it needs to be done. My yoga instructor will miss me, but I’m sure with some serious meditation she will be okay.
Public transit may well become a part of our future. One of our SUVs has decided that it is tired and after fifteen years it has become…..temperamental. So that leaves us with just the one truck. My husband has been great about walking the half mile up to Starbucks in the mornings to get his morning mocha and we have been able to coordinate our schedules so that when he needs to get to the gym I can go with him and get the shopping done. Fortunately Whole Food is only a few block away. We have been researching bus route on our iPads and we think we can make it work. Have you ever looked at a bus schedule though? Super confusing.
Earlier this summer we had the kids bathroom renovated. It had been stuck in the eighties and was looking a little um…..yellow. A friend of ours helped out with the design and after a month or so my vision became reality. But now the other two bathrooms in our house look a little shabby. I’ve been forced to take my bath in their bathroom as the tub is deeper and well, the floor is heated. Our bathroom does not have radiant heating. Or a toilet seat that closes itself. Or drawers that hold plush towels. It’s sad really. Doesn’t everyone deserve a nice bathroom?
So there you have it. It’s been a rough couple of months but we are staying strong and hoping that with a little help we will see a light at the end of the tunnel. Or maybe a Hawaiian sunset.
The Best Thing in Life is a good dose of reality.
As my seven year old was getting ready for bed last night I realized that I hadn’t made my bed that morning. So I made it. Then I realized that I would be getting into and messing that bed up in an hour or so. (Ya I go to bed that early sometimes ) Anyway, I wondered if that was weird. Wouldn’t most people just crawl into the bed as it was? If my husband had been home he would have rolled his eyes, shaken his head and left the room.
Is it possible to have a lesser form of OCD? It’s not so much about dirt or mess….okay it’s a little bit about the mess….but it’s mostly about everything having a place. I like things to fit into a spot and I like them to go back to those spots should they be moved. I love organization. I’ve said that before. But this is a bit more than just being organized. It doesn’t keep me up at night….much. I just like to know where things are should I need to find them. Who knows what could be lurking in that unmade bed?
I like my towels folded a certain way and when I put them on the shelf the round edges need to be pointing out. I don’t fold my daughters undies I stack them. Two stacks. Old ones and newer ones. When I hang up my pants they all have to face the same way. My Tupperware drawer is actually organized. All the time. There’s a certain spot for pasta sauce in the pantry. In my fridge the orange juice goes in front of the milk. On the right top shelf.
Wow, writing it out makes it sound even weirder.
I spent many years in a pretty controlled relationship. I remember once we had just had our walls painted and finding myself with some free time I decided to hang all the pictures back up on the walls. My then boyfriend came home shook his head and promptly took them all down and re-hung them. I was young and in my head I thought “well I must have put them up wrong”. The reality was that the pictures were just fine. Just not precisely where HE thought they should be. They weren’t in the spot he thought they should be. I don’t want to be that person.
But I think maybe I am a bit different. I’m not a “you can’t do anything right” kind of person. But I am a ” I like things my way” kind of person. No really I am. Ask my husband.
If I could go into my daughters bedroom after a play date and put things back in the proper place I would. Not because I’m upset that it’s a mess but because…..well just because. I see you shaking your head. I don’t actually do it. That would be weird. I just think about it. Because you have to let go. You have to accept that even though somebody does something differently, doesn’t mean that they do it wrong. No, really it’s true. I didn’t believe it at first but it really is true.
So The Best Thing in Life is that I don’t seem to be worried so much anymore what people might think of me and my odd quirky habits. I’ve made my bed and now I need to lie in it.
Is it possible that after fifty years I have finally figured out what love really looks and feels like? I mean, really feels like. Deep in your heart and soul. It’s not that my life has been without love for that long but until recently I don’t think that I really understood love. How powerful it can be and how it can complete your life and bring you contentment and peace. I have been happily married for almost fourteen years but in the last couple of years I think that I have finally accepted how great love can be.
When I met my husband I had only been separated from my ex husband for 10 months. I had some trust issues you could say. I had pretty much sworn off men but my co-worker was convinced that I needed a date. She even went so far as to list all the single attractive men that worked for our company. I hate to say it but I said “no way” to her suggestion of the man who is now my husband. He was eight years younger than me and well, did I mention that I had sworn off men. As a new mom I just wanted to try to enjoy the few moments I had to myself outside of parenting and work. Yet somehow, on a company road trip to Seattle to see a basketball game, I found myself drawn to this man. And once the connection was made a couple of months later, there was no turning back. I knew right away that I would spend the rest of my life with him. So much for swearing off men.
There was a moment very early in our relationship when I knew I could fall in love with my husband. It was just before Christmas. We had been trading emails and chatting a bit at work. I must have mentioned the fact that I had lost all of my Christmas tree ornaments in the divorce and had a tiny little Charlie Brown tree with only a couple of sad ornaments on it. I walked past his office one day and he called me in. On his desk was a gift wrapped box. Inside were four beautiful dark green glass ornaments and matching green and gold bowls. I was so touched that he not only remembered but had been so thoughtful. My divorce had left me in a fairly fragile state and this simple gesture restored my faith and put me on the road to learning about real love. Every year I take them out and tell my kids this story while we decorate the tree. My seven-year old thinks it’s romantic. My eighteen year old just rolls his eyes and sighs.
The journey from then until now has not always been an easy one. We have been separated for long periods of time due to work. We have had differences of opinions MANY times. We have co-parented with a sometimes difficult ex husband. We have made the decision to not have any more children and then changed our minds and embraced our little fireball. We have struggled through self employment and all that it entails. We have fallen down and learnt how to get back up. We (I) have given up trying to control the direction my life and the life of my family takes. We have cried and raised our voices and gone to bed angry. Yet somehow we are still married and in love.
The reality is that I love him more now than I did on the day we got married. I know him better. And he knows me better. He has taught me so many things. Because of him I am more open to love and kindness. A combination of the way I was raised and a bad first marriage left me closed up and afraid to get hurt. Did you know that you can be angry with somebody and then let it go and move on? I didn’t. I believed that if somebody did something to make you angry that you stayed angry at them. For a long time. Who knew that letting go of anger so quickly was so easy. I also didn’t know (or believe) that if I had done something to make somebody angry that they could forgive me and still love me. On the same day even. Again, I believed that forgiving and moving on took days. If it happened at all. But I now know that this is what love really looks like. The security of knowing that you can screw up and the sky won’t fall on your head. This is what my husband has taught me.
A perfect marriage is just two imperfect people who refuse to give up on each other. The Best Thing in Life is that over the years he refused to give up on me and I refused to give up on him. So, don’t just look for love. Look for real inconvenient, ridiculous, can’t live without you love. Because that’s the love that you deserve. And don’t give up. It may take years to fully embrace, but it is most definitely worth it.