Posted in Moving forward, Randomness

Time flies…maybe too fast.

October 23rd.  I’ve been in my condo a little over a year now. How well I remember a year ago leaving my cute little house and a very dysfunctional relationship to start a new chapter in my life; it’s been an interesting year, for sure.

Muhly grass

Fall ushers in the best time of the year in Old Florida. The temperatures are cooler, I can have all the sliding doors open, turn off the a/c, maybe catch the sunrise at a more decent hour. Though I’ll miss the vibrant green vines of summer that cover like a deep snowfall, I love when the beautiful rows of muhly grass turn a vibrant shade of pink and wave in unison in the breeze. The beaches empty, the RVs caravan south, and the area preps for an increase in its population.

A lot happened this past year.  I was able to spend three precious months with my mother, months I would not trade for anything.  I saw two fabulous concerts; Bruce Springsteen with Drew, and Rascal Flatts with Meg; unforgettable, both. I shared the tragic loss of a nephew to suicide and, in the circle of life, met my beautiful new granddaughter Audrey. I discovered the joy of ballroom dancing and as an added benefit met some wonderful people.  I lost my Sadie this past Labor Day that brought an additional heartbreak with it.  My job has had its share of unmentionable challenges with the ups and downs and office drama that only a large corporation can offer.  I tried online dating and met some lovely men and a few not-so-lovely ones, made a great friend, and am more hopeful than I’ve been in awhile. I survived Hurricane Matthew, and in doing so learned there are many angels walking around here on earth.

I can only imagine what’s ahead. I’m looking forward to a quick but much-needed cruise with Meg next month. I’ve started working virtually for a transcription company in the hopes of having an exit strategy when the time comes to leave Hospice. I’m eager to spend time with my mom and siblings at Reed Ranch in January, see my Oklahoma kids and grandkids again. Next spring will bring another opportunity to go to Michigan, hopefully with Meg, and see Audrey and her parents.

It has been a surprisingly good year; I have no complaints. I’m grateful for my many blessings; I’m excited about the future. I know we can’t stop time, but perhaps we can slow down a little now.

Posted in Randomness

Shall we dance?

Arthur MurrayA million years ago at a New Year’s Eve party I was asked to dance by a young man who knew his dance moves. It didn’t matter that I didn’t. I was able to follow him like I knew what I was doing. We were swing dancing, spinning, matching step for step. At one point he said to me, “Are you ready?” I said, “For what?” He yelled, “Hook your elbows through mine, back to back, and when I say, ‘Jump!’ you jump!” And I did! He flipped me backwards over his head and I landed on my feet like we’d been rehearsing it for weeks! I was hooked.

Since that night I’ve wanted to learn how to dance. Granted, I’m not interested in doing backward flips anymore. But that wonderful feeling of dancing with a partner is something I’ve been looking for for quite awhile.

Enter Arthur Murray Dance Studio, new to Palm Coast, with the wonderful young Russian couple 13569018_1379894012027846_6514564640992986896_oSasha and Magda. These two exude the joy of dancing, and they want to share their excitement with anyone who is interested. I had my first ‘trial’ lesson over a week ago and couldn’t stop smiling the whole time. Sasha claimed I was a ‘natural.’ I take that for what it is, but I will admit I felt comfortable learning the different dances and was able to move through several types in less than an hour. The next night was the Dance Party where anyone who is a member can come for group lessons, and so I spent the second hour of the night dancing with everyone. It’s so interesting dancing with different partners, seeing how it is going from one to another.

My first paid lesson was tonight, and I left feeling invigorated, my mood elevated! There’s another Dance Party tomorrow night, and I’m really looking forward to it! Sure, it would be great to have a partner to go with me and learn alongside me. But I don’t, and it won’t stop me, because I’m having a wonderful time simply dancing!

Posted in Randomness

Mr. Shaw said it best…

“You don’t stop laughing when you grow old; you grow old when you stop laughing.”

I took one of those silly tests that occasionally pop up on Facebook. This one was, “What is your pet peeve?” I clicked the button and it apparently analyzed my Facebook page or something. The answer that popped up surprised me, but it shouldn’t have. “Lack of humor” was the response.10400245_1064119489617_1162_n

The reason it surprised me is because it is so true, and I’ll put this squarely on my dad. The way he was, the way he made us kids laugh around the table with his silly “Outhouse” joke or his crazy stories and witty one-liners…that sense of humor was passed down to all 11 of his children. He was the life of every party. If I were to ever get a tattoo, it would be the word “Smile” in his handwriting along my wrist. He made everyone smile and taught his kids the value of laughter.

Audrey Hepburn said, “I love people who make me laugh. I honestly think it’s the thing I like most, to laugh. It cures a multitude of ills. It’s probably the most important thing in a person.” 

I agree. Humor can get you through so many hard times in life; a disagreement with your spouse, a difficult workplace, challenging kids, financial hardships. I try and find the humor wherever I can, because if I take life and myself too seriously, I find it’s easy to succumb to negativity. That doesn’t mean I’m not serious about issues, but if I can find the humor – however deep it is buried – I can get through anything. I believe humor is God’s way of keeping us humble. If you want to hear God laugh, tell Him your plans.” 

George Bernard Shaw knew what he was talking about.

Posted in Randomness

My baby’s baby

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My baby just had a baby. Well, he and his wife did, my daughter-in-law, the mother of my baby’s baby. I have three grandchildren by my oldest child that I enjoy tremendously, even though due to distance I only get to see them a couple times a year. Their dad and mom are a hoot, and so are the kids, and they get more fun every time I see them.

But now my youngest son has a baby girl. Audrey Jean was born June 17th. She has one of those palindrome birthdays: 61716. Reads the same both ways. And her parents are so in love with her already I don’t think they know what hit them. As a parent you can tell them about that kind of love, but they’ll typically either shrug it off or think you’re just being ‘mom.’ I’m pretty sure he doesn’t think that anymore.

Posted in Family, Randomness

My Birthday Surprise!

Being away from my kids doesn’t get any easier, especially during birthdays and holidays. This year my birthday was just another day for me, and that was okay. I’d heard from all the kids throughout the day, and I’d received a beautiful ‘Edible Creation’ from Meg.

A couple weeks later, Drew texted me and said I should think about coming to OKC from April 1st to the 4th. When I questioned him, he just said it had been too long. Tickled that he wanted to see me, I shopped flights and found a cheap one from March 31st to April 3rd (Thursday to Sunday). He said no, it was important that I was there on Monday; he would say no more, stating he’d “already said too much.”

Intriguing.

I spent the next several weeks trying to guess WHY I would have to be there on a Monday. The different scenarios I could think of never sounded plausible, so I decided to simply enjoy the anticipation of being surprised. I made the trip out there and had a great time with the grandkids who all seemed happy to see me (even Scarlett!) I got to see Dez’s school, watch in anticipation for Evie’s daily wardrobe creation, and enjoy Scarlett’s imagination indoors and out.  Monday’s surprise was never mentioned.

River Walk
River Walk

Sunday afternoon Drew said he was taking me to dinner downtown OKC, but that the babysitter fell through and Kris couldn’t go. I was disappointed for her, but she said she was okay with it, so I went upstairs to change. When I came back down, Drew said, “I thought after dinner we could also do this,” and handed me two sheets of paper. I opened them to find two tickets to see Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band in concert at the Chesapeake Arena!!!!!

WHAAAAAAAAAT?!!!!!!!!!!!

All the kids and their wonderful spouses had chipped in for this knowing how much I love this guy, this band. I was excited beyond words and of course embarrassed myself with my typical reaction (which Kris so subtly recorded and sent to the other two for their enjoyment).

Photo by Pam Springsteen
Photo by Pam Springsteen

Dinner on the river was really lovely. I thoroughly enjoyed some rare one-on-one time with my oldest child, trying to remember when that had happened last. The concert…well, I’ll never forget it. It was so amazing knowing that this band, in various forms, has been creating their quickly identifiable sound since the early 70’s! And while members have come and gone, those most familiar to me were there:  Bruce, 0403161935his wife, Patti, Stevie, Nils, and Max. And though I missed Clarence, it was heartening to see his nephew Jake step into his uncle’s role with his own ‘Clemons’ style. They look and sound better than ever. This 66-year-old rocker and (in his words) his ‘viagra-taking’ band played, without stopping, for 3+ hours; no opener, no break. He involved the crowd, leaving the stage singing “Hungry Heart” while he signed kids’ shirts, took selfies with attendees, and then CROWD SURFED BACK TO THE STAGE! In between songs, the arena would fill with the familiar, “BRUUUUUUUUCE!!” As soon as he’d finish one song, he’d toss his guitar to someone backstage, catch another one, go back to the mic and yell, “ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR…!” and swing right into his next, hurling us back, again and again, to our glory days.

Posted in Comp'ny, Family, Randomness

Am I lucky, or WOT!

Mom n meMy 89-year-old mother stayed with me this winter. She arrived the day after Christmas to get out of the bitter cold winter of northern Michigan for a bit. She bought an open-ended ticket, and so her one-month plan turned into a three-month plan, with her return flight the last day of March.

I feel so lucky and blest to have had this time with her. She is so easy to have around, always pleasant, never grouchy. She would sleep until 9:00 or so, then make her way into the kitchen for her first cup of coffee, the “nectar of the gods!” She would sit at the table and read one of her many Danielle Steele books and perhaps have a piece of toast. She may enjoy that for an hour before she would get herself moving to get ready for the day. And I was so happy that finally, after how many years raising 11 kids and constantly doing for others, her day would consist of reading, playing bridge on her laptop, doing crossword puzzles, or knitting, with the occasional stroll around the cul de sac in the afternoon. For months she would exclaim how guilty she felt about how lazy she was until I finally insisted that had to stop. There is no guilt in Florida! At night she would watch and re-watch her all-time favorite TV show, Downton Abbey, and if she remembered, there was always the DVD of Phantom of the Opera that she watched – last count, eight times – without ever tiring of it.IMG_0711

In the past several months we saw the full moon rise over the ocean, we ‘slipped the surly bonds of earth’ soaring in an open cockpit biplane over St. Augustine and the Atlantic; the site of her smiling face so close to mine is forever etched in my memory. We have enjoyed the on-stage Broadway musical productions of Phantom and Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat; we would have the songs constantly playing round in our heads, and we would spontaneously start humming one of the melodies, then start singing together, one of us remembering the lines the other didn’t. We spotted the slow moving manatees at Blue Spring and enjoyed the giant kites flying over Flagler Beach. We watched in amazement as six kite surfers joined forces with Mother Nature on the ocean and in the air. We took drives through “Old Florida,” where I loved hearing her exclamations of the beauty of this area and how very glad she was that I found this ‘well-kept secret.’  She would tell me daily how happy she was for me, how much she loved it here.

Her hearing is going. She’s quite forgetful. But she loved to tell stories of the old days, and I have to admit I’d heard several I’d not heard before. My friends who had lost their own moms wanted to visit with her; perhaps she gave them a little of their own for a brief moment. I knew when I came home from work I would hear, “Here comes Tilly the toiler,” and when she’d say goodnight, she’d always add, “God bless you,” just as she did every night when we were kids. I tuck all these things away in my memory knowing I will need to pull them out one day in the not too distant future.

I never was able to get her to Marineland to feed the dolphins; the weather did not cooperate.  She said she wanted to see a sunrise, even though I reminded her that it wouldn’t wait until 10:00 to come up.  But I so loved seeing her sit happily at the end of my couch, engrossed in Ms. Steele’s latest book or one of her many crossword puzzles, looking lovely and comfortable, while I felt like the luckiest girl alive.

 

Posted in Moving forward, Randomness

I DID know then what I know now.

One doesn’t often get the opportunity to say that, especially when it comes to issues of the heart, decisions made, choices acted upon.

I’ve read that in any relationship, it takes almost two years of being together before that rosy glow wears off and the grind of daily living begins to influence who we are as a couple. That seems like such a long time, especially when you’re together day in and day out believing you know everything there is to know about one another.

But I now believe that to be true. I would even venture to say that, depending on your lifestyle and choices, it could take even longer. Other influences to that might be the belief that one can change another person if given enough time, empathy, and rationalization.

But I now accept that the influences of our youth and our willingness and ability to either accept or change define who we are as adults.

I feel as if I’ve come full circle…almost. I’d written previously about my first love…my last love. I’ve explored the whys of our break up all those years ago only to find each other later in life to then break up again. And what I realize is that the things that broke us up in our younger days were the same things to break us up now. One cannot change another person. And unless they want to change, they are who they are. So we either learn from our mistakes or we continue to make the same ones, re-defining insanity, over and over.

Perhaps it was a rebound relationship, though that idea frustrates me because I want to think I’m smarter than that. None of us chooses wrong intentionally. But ‘this time’ I will make every attempt NOT to repeat the mistakes I’ve made. I’m determined to learn and move forward, with or without someone by my side. I’m stronger, more confident, and happier than I’ve ever been.

Posted in Drew, Family, Family & Friends, Mom, Randomness

Best EVER!

You know how people like to make “BEST” lists, such as BEST VIEW FROM A SHOWER (has to be Kevin’s former home in the foothills of the Rockies), or BEST OPENING LINE IN A BOOK. Or how about BEST SUPERHEROES WHO DON’T HAVE SUPERPOWERS (probably not at the top of YOUR lists). And even though it only lasted five days, including travel, my new “BEST” list will now include “BEST VACATION EVER!” . I spent time at what I call the Enchanted House – Kevin and Savanna’s place – deep in the woods at Shanty Creek Resort (BEST SETTING FOR A HOME). I knitted with my ImagKnit knitters, visited with my good friends Sarah and Lynzie, and then finally I was surrounded by loads of family – I think we counted 65! I was able to spend quality time with all my kids, spouses, and grandkids. My mom held my granddaughter while I enjoyed watching my other grandkids swimming in the lake. We played games, ate great food, listened to stories, sang around the campfire.

But the absolute highlight of my trip was playing Euchre with Drew, Meg, and Kevin. I wish it could have gone on for hours, listening to them banter back and forth, falling into those same roles as oldest, youngest, and only girl. And even though I knew it might be years before it would happen again, it was just wonderful…the whole day, the whole trip. It was THE BEST!