Thirteen Things I Need To Do

 
Today's Thursday Thirteen is a list of things I want to work on...

  1. Eat more healthy - plan meals ahead.
  2. Get my butt out of the chair - go for a nightly walk
  3. Keep up with the housework - do an extra chore each day.
  4. Keep up with the laundry - do at least one load each night.
  5. Brush all three cats every night - they love it and it reduces the fur floating in the air!
  6. Work on writing John's biography daily - this is a gift for him and his children
  7. Make time for a little book reading each day - along with reading blogs and the news.
  8. Start a craft project - begin the cross-stitch gift for my daughter.
  9. Send more love notes to people I care about - especially to my hubby and kids.
  10. Find a job with better pay - that is also more fulfilling.
  11. Work on sorting and organizing drawers and closets - and then the storage.
  12. Complain less - and compliment more!
  13. Stop procrastinating - starting with this to do list!
Now head over to Thursday Thirteen and see what some other folks are thinking about today!

Finders Keepers

 
This week's prompt for Sunday Scribblings is "Where in the World?" This is my story...

"Where in the world did you find him?" she asked me curiously. I can't begin to count the number of times I've been asked that same question in the past eighteen months. When I tell people about my new husband the reaction is always the same - he seems almost too good to be true, and good men are very hard to find.

"I met him on the Internet in Yahoo! Personals" I respond with a smile. This is true, but I also I know that God was behind our meeting - it wasn't just a chance occurrence. God often uses everyday means to effect miracles in our lives.

Reactions to my good fortune vary, depending up who is doing the asking. The few people who truly know me and love me are delighted that I have finally found someone who will treat me the way a wife should be treated. Single friends who have been alone a long time try hard (and sometimes not so hard) to conceal their jealousy. Family members who have always questioned the sanity of my choices when it comes to men wonder what major character flaws this one has that they can't see on the surface. His friends wonder why he chose me of all people, when they knew lovely women they were eager to match him up with. They question why in the world would I be search for love on the Internet, and why would he?

"That's dangerous", said many a well-meaning friend. And yes, it's true - there are a lot of crazies on the Internet who pretend to be something they're not in an attempt to lure in unsuspecting women. But not everyone who places an ad on an dating site is deranged and/or dangerous. Some of us are just plain lonely folks whose lifestyles don't afford the opportunity to meet members of the opposite sex in traditional environments.

"Internet relationships never last", others say. Well I believe this one will, and I personally know a few other couples who met on the Internet and who have been happily married for several years now. I run into more couples who've met this way all the time!

"Aren't you a little old to be placing ads on the Internet, isn't that stuff for young people?" gasp the naysayers who probably secretly wish they could have such good fortune or experience the excitement of trying something new. Can one ever be too old to find love? People use whatever means of connecting is available to them, and for many of all ages the Internet has provided a great way to do this.

Certainly I had to sort thru some less than desirable characters to find my Prince Charming. In fact, by December I had just about given up on Internet dating and planned to let my subscription to Yahoo! Personals lapse. After all, I'm not Barbie and Ken wasn't looking for someone like me. But that little voice inside me said "give it one more chance", so I renewed my membership for one more month, telling myself this would be the last renewal, and I kept searching.

Just a few days later I spotted John's profile and pictures. The attraction was instant and I liked what he had to say. I sent off a greeting, he replied quickly... and the rest is history! Just five months later I moved to a new town to begin our life together and three months after that we were married. There hasn't been a single day since that I've regretted those decisions.

John told me that real love grows deeper and stronger every day. I didn't believe that back then. I really didn't even believe in love, but he's made a believer out of me and all I can say is "finders keepers!"

Note: Head over to Sunday Scribblings and see how other bloggers have responded to the "Where in the World?" prompt.

Things I've Learned Along the Way

 
My contribution for today's Thursday Thirteen meme is a list of things I know now that I wish I did way back when.
THIRTEEN THINGS I'VE LEARNED ALONG THE WAY
  1. It is important that we value ourselves. Don't let anyone destroy your belief in yourself. People who try to tear you down are rarely happy with themselves and their own life.


  2. Your children will grow up amazingly fast. Spend time with them now - read, play, talk. Do less yelling and more listening! There will be plenty of time for dusting when they're gone.


  3. There will never be enough time and energy to accomplish everything on your "To Do" List. Keep focused on the people and things that are most important to you, and don't beat yourself up for what doesn't get done.


  4. Don't be pressured into overcommitting yourself. It is healthy to learn to say No! If you are constantly busy you'll become exhausted and resentful. It's important to slow down and let that quiet voice inside guide you.


  5. Don't becoming a caretaker or enabler for someone who should be taking care of themselves. You will wear yourself out and you will cripple them. Everyone needs to grow up and learn to function independently before they can contribute to a relationship.


  6. Don't judge people by what's on the outside, and don't make an instant judgement. First impressions - both good and bad - can be very wrong. Take some time to get to know someone before you decide.


  7. Don't get caught up in the need to constantly acquire more stuff or in trying to keep up with someone else. The happiness material acquisitions provide is very short lived. You can be happy with far less, and it's so much easier to move! :-) It isn't what you have, it's who you have in your life that's important.


  8. Create something! Everyone has creativity within them. Find something you enjoy doing. It can be your salvation when life is stressful.


  9. Keep some space between your work life and your personal life. Don't drag work home and don't drag your personal issues into work. Don't get involved in coworkers' drama.


  10. Everyone has a purpose and something of value that they can share with others, even if it's just a smile and a friendly word. What a difference a small act of kindness can make!


  11. Count your blessings! Find something to be grateful for each day, no matter how hard the day has been.


  12. Tell the people you care about how much you love them - do it often, and don't just tell them - show them! You never know if you'll have that opportunity again. Send love notes or leave them somewhere to be discovered. They are real daybrighteners!


  13. Believe in the future and never give up hope. No matter how dark life seems, the sun rises in the morning and it will for you too. You will be given enough strength to go on.
Oh dear, I'm already at 13 and I'm just getting started! I'll stop here for today and maybe come back and add to the list as time goes on. If only we knew at 25 what we know at 50, huh? :-) Now head over to Thursday Thirteen and see what some other folks had to say!

The Ghostlight Was Shining

 
A few months ago I posted the following story on my other blog. I am reposting it here because I want to share a special update with you at the end of the story. If you've read it before, skip down to the epilogue.

GHOSTLIGHT
We have a frequent guest at our home. We note her visits in spousal shorthand..."The ghostlight was on when I came home today."

Several years ago, my husband's wife of many years died tragically from an aneurysm. He was away at the time it happened and never had the chance to say goodbye. He wishes that he would have told her more often how much he loved her. (A good reminder for all of us and the people that we love.)

Not long after her passing, the lamp on the table on her side of the bed began coming on spontaneously. He believes that it was her reassuring him that love transcends life and that she was watching over him. When he remarried and moved to his new wife's home their bedside lamps (which were hers, not the ones he had previously) also came on from time to time - and always the one by her side of the bed. Sometimes it even came on when one of them was standing in the room!

Some years later this beloved wife died after a long battle with cancer, and in God's time John met me and we moved into our new home to begin a life together. This time a pair of bed lamps I owned grace the tables beside our bed, yet we continue to find the light on my side of the bed burning brightly on occasion when we return from work. Sometimes this also occurs while we are at home but in another room.

One night I noted to John that it was interesting the bedroom light has continued to come on spontaneously despite the changes in both houses and lamps, and that no other lights ever come on. The next morning when we awoke the lamp by my chair in the living room was on... this lamp was the bedside lamp at his previous home! I had to chuckle, because I guess she was listening. :-) It has not come on since. It is also interesting to note that all three sets of lamps were/are "touch lights" the kind that don't have a switch. There really is no pattern or time frame for these occurrences, it's very random. Sometimes it happens often, and sometimes not for a couple weeks.

There is a very peaceful feeling in the bedroom when I find the light on, never scary or intimidating. In fact one day when I was home from work miserably sick with the flu and feeling down, I headed back to bed after being up for a little while to find the ghostlight shining. It tells me that she is happy with the love I have for John and that she cares about me too. I always greet our ghostly angel with "Hi Sweetie", and John says to her "I love you too, Darlin'." She is welcome in our home and I hope her light continues to shine now and then for all the years to come... it testifies to our belief that love is eternal.

EPILOGUE:
It's been over a month since the ghostlight has come on. Last evening all three of John's daughters, their spouses, and four of the grandchildren were gathered in our living room visiting. It's the first time they've all been together since the funeral of John's previous wife. It was a lovely evening with storytelling, photo sharing, and much laughter.

John went back to our bedroom for something and then called to me. I went to our room to find the ghostlight shining brightly. What a warm feeling! We smiled at each other, knowing that it truly was a family gathering in every sense of the word... the girls' mother had come to join us. :-)

Shame


Here it is again staring me in the face, the cold result of my inattention. The note says "This will be the last message you will receive from me if I don't hear back from you... why don't you write or call me.... what has happened to our friendship... did I do something wrong?"

Oh God! I lower my head as a blanket of failure weighs down on me. Why do I do this? Why do I let valuable friendships with people I love and care about fall by the wayside? Do I really want them to say goodbye? Do I really want to let them go? Am I so callous that I really don't give a shit about their feelings? No, no, no! Then why do I let it happen? I honestly don't know.

For one thing, I hate to talk on the telephone... hate it! Phone conversations tend to go on and on, taking up way too much time that I have so precious little of. Time has always been my enemy - so much I want to do and never enough free waking hours to accomplish half of it. I don't know what boredom is. Some folks insist on phone calls and feel slighted if I don't return the repeated messages they leave on my cellphone.

Email me instead I say, update me on your life. And sometimes they do, but mostly not. I am a writer, not a talker, something they cannot understand. Written words are more precise and more carefully thought out. You can say so much more, share so much more. And later on you can't say "I didn't say that", because the proof is right there.

I am a hermit by nature, a recluse, and the urge grows stronger as I grow older. Acquaintances laugh at that, as they see me visiting away with people and handling myself ok in one-on-one or small group situations. But the truth is I'm miserable in any group larger than two, and my most fervent desire is to escape to the sanctuary of my home. I don't want to converse, I don't want to engage in polite conversation, I want time to think about the things I say, and to talk about things that have meaning.

Or am I just kidding myself with such excuses? Is is more true to say I am just a sloth, an unappreciative, uncaring friend who never quite gets around to responding to the people she truly cares about... and I DO care about them.

Sometimes, no most of the time, I feel overwhelmed by the "to-do" list in my life. Not just the "must do" list but also the "want to do" list. I don't handle pressure well, I don't like anything or any feeling imposing on me. I don't like restriction or requirements. Rebellious attitude much, huh? Even when I really want to do something and know that I should, I don't always do it. When the pressure to perform starts building I feel backed against the wall, and I become paralyzed. I don't do anything, not even the things I really want to do, or know that I should do.

So, for reasons I can't really explain to anyone's satisfaction, including mine, I don't respond. I sadly observe the phone messages come in and the emails pile up. The please for communication go unheeded. And finally they grow sick of my silence and tell me off because they're hurt, or just go away and leave me feeling even worse about my inaction.

I always promise myself I'll try harder, respond sooner, at least to a couple folks each day... stay on top of it and not let it become an imposition. Not let the list pile up until I feel overwhelmed. I promise myself that, and I try, God knows I try. But I break my promise far too often.

Part of me wonders if a therapist would find deep unresolved issues that makes me behave this way. Do I fear being misunderstood? Do I fear rejection? Do I fear that my words will be turned against me? Do I fear that I will disappoint them? Do I fear that if they really knew me they wouldn't like me that much anyway? Maybe all of that. So sometimes it just seems easier, though unforgivable, to just let things unravel. Everything and everyone who has ever been important in my life up until now, has in some form or manner been taken away. Maybe in my lack of reaching out I am just hastening the anticipated end result.

Or maybe none of the above and I am just a shitty friend that never quite gets around to telling some very wonderful people that I love them and I care about them and I truly do want to know how things are going in their lives.

In the darkest, hardest hardest times of my life I withdraw from people. Like a wounded animal I go off on my own until I feel better about being among the living. Maybe over time I've grown accustomed to that place and my need for the safety and security of refuge overtakes my desire for companionship. Sometimes I wonder if my life has damaged me beyond repair, beyond the ability to trust relationships and to trust myself.

I write about my life here for folks to follow along, it's so much easier (and admittedly lazier) that way. I wish everyone blogged, I love the real sharing that takes place.

My heart cries for the friendships I've let fall by the wayside, and the longer I let the silence grow between us, the harder it is to come back and say "hello, I've missed you, how are you?" I am ashamed, because I know this is not how you treat people you love. I need to do better. I need to apologize. I need to make amends.

This Makes Me Smile

Over twenty years ago I read "The Greatest Salesman in the World" and "The Greatest Miracle in the World" by Og Mendino. Awesome little stories that had a permanent impact on my life. If you haven't read them, do sometime. I promise you'll feel uplifted!

One of the imagery pieces in the story is a red geranium in an apartment window being observed by the narrator of the story. It charmed me at the time, and ever since when I see a bright red geranium it makes me smile.

This spring, while we were out shopping for flowers for the flower boxes, I spied a small potted geranium with bright red blooms. I had to have it! Bringing it home I set it temporarily on the counter in our master bathroom where it could enjoy bright morning sunshine and escape the curiosity of our cats.

It was my intent to purchase a hanger and move it to the living room out of reach. But the geranium decided it likes it's humid, sunny spot on the bathroom counter and is thriving. My husband and I decided that we want to leave it where it is. It never fails to make me smile as I get ready for work, a bit of beauty brought inside to remind me that life is good.

I know my daughter is going to chuckle when she sees that red geranium amidst the toothbrushes, toiletries, and cosmetics scattered on the counter. She will undoubtedly suggest we hang it up somewhere more visible. And she will shake her head at her mother's insistence that it should stay just as it is.

What things do you have around you just to make you smile?

This Is To Be Human

 
This week's prompt for Sunday Scribblings is "human". What does it mean to be human? I smile in acknowledgement of the ready-made example that has been provided by my life.

I have been married four times. The first three evolved into destructive relationships that ended badly. I didn't mourn the first two, I was simply filled with the relief of escaping hell. My third marriage ended in complete devastation. Love existed between us at one time, and never have I tried so hard to prevent the loss of something that was beyond being saved.

By the time my divorce from my first husband was final, I was involved with the man who would become husband number two. I don't believe there ever was love present in that relationship in the real sense of the word. Once again it was a case of two misfits finding commonality in an uncommon situation. Had my first two husbands met me at any other time and place in my life it is unlikely marriage would have been the outcome. Yet I am thankful for those turbulent years, since from them came my daughter and my son, and their being gave me a reason to continue living.

After the demise of the second marriage, and a long, slow, tortuous death it was, I declared with absolute certainly that I would NEVER marry again, yet less than three years later I met the man who would become my third husband. We were both lost and lonely souls looking for warmth and company and told each other that the "L" word and marriage would never be part of the equation. Just a year later we were standing in front of a minister repeating vows. Despite the obvious difficulties I knew the relationship was going to present, I truly loved this man and when I took those vows they were made with serious intent. So did he, but it didn't work out that way. Thirteen years later there was little semblance of the love that once was.

That separation and divorce was exceedingly painful although I initiated it. I knew had to end if I was to escape with my life and what was left of my sanity. It took a full year for me to recover and begin living again. I've never cried as much as I did that year. This time I was absolutely certain that I would NEVER trust someone with my heart again. It was much too painful and always ended badly.

Then, after a few typically horrendous dating introductions, I saw HIS pictures and profile on an Internet site and sent off an introductory greeting. Little did I know then that God had just placed the most amazingly wonderful man directly in my path! We talked for hours and hours on the phone at night in those first weeks, and before long we arranged to meet in person. Not many weeks later we both knew that we wanted our relationship to become something permanent, to be more than bf/gf or cohabitants.

Slightly less than nine months after that first fateful Internet encounter I married the man of my dreams. All thoughts of avoiding marriage and withholding my heart melted in the warmth of his love. He told me that real love grows stronger with each passing day and year. I didn't believe that was possible, but now I know it's true. I have also been delighted to discover that marriage partners CAN live in peace and harmony, can work together to build their lives, can love and laugh and look eagerly forward to time that can be spent together. Marriage can be good? Love can be for real? Who knew?!

For me, to be human is to not give up on love. That no matter how badly a human heart is battered and broken, at some point in time it will heal, the steal door of fear will creak open, hope will rise eternal, and the search for love will begin again.

To be human is to believe in what seems impossible... to have faith, hope and trust that we are all intended to love and be loved, and that there is someone perfect waiting for you in the right place and at the right time in your life. It is human to experience dark times and doubts, it is also human light a candle in the darkness and pray for the morning light... and it comes, my life stands in witness that it comes!

Some People Are Just Plain Toxic


Recently I came across this article in Yahoo's online publication, "Shine" - 8 Toxic Personalities to Avoid. It's an excellent read. In it the author Brett Blumenthal presents the personality characteristics of people that tend to have a negative impact on our lives, how to spot them, and why they are so destructive. We passed the article around work and had a good chuckle noting which of our coworkers could be closely identified with some of the traits listed, and which ones we tended to be most like. Not surprisingly, the person who could have most benefited from seeing herself there on the page didn't find the article the least bit interesting. We tend to see ourselves a lot differently than others see us.

Later on I was reflecting on the various relationships of my past and how some of the people I chose to closely engage myself with had such a devastating effect on my psyche. Things usually started out ok in those relationships, and it wasn't until they progressed that I began to see the true nature of the individual I was dealing with and how I was being sucked in, and in some cases sucked under, by their poison. While it's true that we all have bad days, bad weeks, and maybe even bad years, what I'm talking about, and what the article was referring to are individuals whose core personality fits one of the descriptions listed. In other words, that's the way they behave the majority of the time. We can almost see their picture next to the stated traits.

I used to be a victim, and a doormat... a people pleaser who would stop at nothing to appease and meet the needs of my so-called friends and partners. In some cases the extremes I went to in order to accomodate those people astounds me now. In fact in a couple instances I narrowly escaped the relationship with my soul intact, much less my mind or any shred of self-worth. It is amazing how we can let another individual erode away at us until there is little semblance left of the person we once were. It can be a subtle process at times, like drops of water wearing away at a rock, and with other people it can be bold, in-your-face behavior that maybe seems kind of cute or quirky at first, but later proves to burdensome and obnoxious.

In the last two years I've changed my perspective greatly on the kind of people I need and want in my life. I choose not to be a doormat, a target, or a chronic care-taker that never is cared for back. I shy away from people who are needy, negative, always finding fault with others, and having nothing uplifting to give. I avoid loud, agressive types. Most importantly, if anyone who has access to my life takes advantage of me or becomes abusive in any manner, they get one warning, and then they're gone - locked out forever.

Please understand that I am not claiming myself to be a perfect person, partner, or friend. I have my faults and plenty of them. But I am striving to be a positive, caring, encouraging person, and in order to become that it is essential to surround myself with like-minded people of similar spirit and intent. We all know how difficult it can be to live with or work with someone who sees the world thru dark glasses, feels sorry for themselves, and seems intent on bringing everyone around them down. My goal is to watch myself and my conduct carefully, to avoid becoming one of those people who is a chronic downer and to maintain a healthy distance from people who are like that. It's more contagious than swine flu!

I encourage you to read the article I've linked to above, and to think about the relationships in your life. Have any of them become more of a burden than a gift? Is someone draining you? Maybe it's time to take an inventory of the plusses and minuses and see if you'd be better off setting yourself free. We are not obligated to put up with people who are toxic.