Remembering the Lost

I’ve had some ups and downs here lately. And yesterday, I had a big shock. A dear friend, someone I have known for the past 24 almost 25 years of my life, died.

He was an enigma. Rob was someone who, as cliche as it is, marched to the beat of his very own drum. He was never one to conform, always trying to new, different, and sometime dangerous things in life for the experience and the thrill. Rob was easy to love, easy to hate, easy to forgive. He had a way about him that would draw you in, anger or not, and you would find yourself smiling in amusement at the conversational twists, turns, and topics. Rob was, simply put, himself.

I met him in middle school. He was a wild child, bucking against authority and that appealed to every young girl he knew and met. He was a “bad boy” in his thrift store gear and combat boots, as though he was daring anyone to challenge his sense of self and style. I knew, from the moment I met him, that despite everything, we would remain life long friends. You see, it isn’t often you meet your male counterpart who shares the same birthday-year, month, and day…with only a few hours of difference between time. He was my birthday twin. And there was a friend connection that lasted over two decades and while he is no longer with us, that connection will remain for the rest of my natural life. I am sure that I am not alone in this sentiment.

He was a father, a brother, a son, a friend. And while I won’t lie and say he made only the best choices in his life, I will not stoop to slander him either by saying he was the worst kind of person; I truly believe he was a good man with a good heart and a lost spirit who only wanted to find his true and rightful place in this world. Everyone has a dark side. It’s our choice as to how much of that we share with others. And Rob, while he kept some things to himself, shared these moments with those he trusted. Not many people do that.  He was a musician. A talented guitarist and piano player. He loved his friends and his family with a fierceness. He was someone who loved and needed love in return.

I shall mourn the loss of my friend. I shall mourn the lost time with him here on this earth. But I shall celebrate his life. I shall celebrate his spirit. I shall celebrate him.

Rest In Peace, Robert F Cook IV. I hope to one day see you again on the shores of Valhalla.

rob

til vi møtes igjen bror

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Hi. Long Time No Type.

Hi. Its been a while.

I wish I had some extremely life changing event that would explain why I took time off so early in my attempted blogging “career” (cuz I’m making ZERO dollars from this venture). I wish I had some amazing trip that explained my absence from the blogosphere and provided a wealth of writing material for those who haven’t unfollowed me at this point.

I don’t.

Instead, I have this explanation: Life got in the way and is basically being a bitch at this point.

A lot has been going on, personally, and when life throws curveballs like it did with me, well, you have to take a step back and reevaluate what is more important and then you have to focus. I focused on treading water, as I feel like that is all I have been doing for the past almost two months. My legs and arms are way tired and I am so ready for a break.

And then another curveball was thrown, or what my friend Megan likes to say, I got handed a plot twist. THIS plot twist has put us out of our rental house-water damage from leaky pipes in the wall + summer heat and zero ventilation = MOLD. I found all of this out less than a week ago. Now, we are in the process of packing up our home where we have lived for almost two years, getting items professionally cleaned, and we are moving back in with my parents. Well,my kids and I are, at least. Husband is staying with his family who live close to my parents. There is just not a lot of room and we are trying to make it all fit as best we can. Now I get to try and find a new home for us. And then my kids and school…ugh. Don’t even get me started on that.

It’s slightly overwhelming. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I have wanted to throw my hands up and just scream “FUCK IT” and go eat ice cream and watch tv and play on Facebook or get sucked into a reddit hole. I’m playing a game of which I don’t know the rules and when I think I have something figured out, the rules change! But that’s life, right? Right?!?!

I’ve missed writing, though. And I hope to post more regularly after this weekend is through. So wish me luck with the move and I’ll see y’all next week.

Til then, duckies.

 

 

Hardening the Spirit

“It is the season of your spirit hardening, my dear” He said.

A recent conversation with my father regarding life took place yesterday. Not gonna lie, it was a shit day, yesterday. Nothing hurts more than family turmoil and in the end, I turned to the one rock in my life that I knew would give me a better sense of stability, peace, and calm.

My dad. He is a man who is wiser than he lets on. A man who loves with the gentleness of lamb and the fierceness of a lion. He would kill and be killed for his children and grandchildren, gladly laying down his life if it meant keeping his family safe. My dad. My rock. My hero. His words helped me feel better. Quiet and unyielding support is what he gives, words that help, analogies that only make sense to the both of us.

I’m a daddy’s girl through and through.

But this past year…and the one before that…hell, for the past 3 1/2 years, it’s been hard. I did a LOT of growing up in a short amount of time. Growing up that, perhaps, should have taken place long ago, but was delayed for selfish reasons. A lot of tests, a lot of trials by fire, a lot of blindly stumbling my way through the darkness with only a small pinpoint of light to guide me through safely. (I wrote about my guiding light. My husband is a good man.)  But I remain unbroken, not lost, and still breathing and ready to take on whatever else is thrown my way.

“There has to be a reason for this,” I said to him, “I have to be being prepared for something bigger. There has GOT to be a reason for all of this.”

He responded that it’s probably my season of my spirit hardening. I’m experiencing things I was pretty well shielded from as a child. I have him and my mother to thank for that. I try to shield my children from life’s cruelties… but I am afraid they have experienced some of it and for that I am sorry, but I digress.

So this is my season. My season of hardening. My season to mature my spirit and grow in wisdom. At least, that is what my dad says. And hey…he has a few years on me. He must know what he is talking about, right?

Time Marches On

“How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?”
Dr. Seuss

Tomorrow is the last day of school for all three of my kids. When school starts again, I will have two kids in middle school and one in high school. It is really hard to believe that in just 7 short years, my youngest will be graduating high school.

7. Short. Years.

I say short years because as I get older, it seems that time passes more quickly. I used to think that my parents were messing with me about time. They would always warn me to enjoy my childhood, because once you are older, time seems to pass more quickly. I never believed them. I would roll my eyes once their backs were turned and tell myself they had no clue.  As a child, growing up seemed to take forever. My parents had no idea what they were saying… growing up was what life was all about, right?  I was sure, at age 5, that I would never make it to age 10. Once 10 was reached, 13 was the newest goal. And then 16…18…21. But once my children were born, my concept of time changed. It felt as though I would blink and they would have reached a new milestone, a new birthday, a new shoe size. I began to realize the wisdom my parents shared with me was no longer wasted wisdom. I understood.

Growing up was just a small part of my journey in this life. As an adult, though, it is easy to lose perspective on how growing up and time is viewed, depending on age. I find myself saying the same things my parents said to me to my own children…or any young person for that matter…and the look they give me is the same look, I am sure, I gave my parents. I find myself waking up and realizing the year is almost half way over. I am this close to having a 16 year old, my middle child is 6 months away from being 13, my youngest is already being mistaken for a teenager. Time is flying and I didn’t even realize I bought a ticket for this flight but here I am, strapped in and stuck and wondering how I can make it slow down.

I don’t know how to slow down time. I don’t know how to stop children from getting older so I can enjoy them a little longer. I don’t know where the pause button is so I can stop and take a breath. I do know how to hug my kids. I know how to take pictures and videos. I know how to make sure they are loved. I know how to tell them how precious they are to me. And I know how to step back and let them grow and experience and mature. Because that is what my job is now. To help them grow, to learn how to live, to experience life in all its wonder. And to be there for them when life gets hard to hold them, comfort them, and bolster them so they can get up and go back to living, experiencing, growing.

So, here I sit, watching as time marches on.  I wouldn’t miss this experience for anything.

“Sometimes I feel like if you just watch things, just sit still and let the world exist in front of you – sometimes I swear that just for a second time freezes and the world pauses in its tilt. Just for a second. And if you somehow found a way to live in that second, then you would live forever.”
Lauren Oliver, Pandemonium

Let’s Play a Game

 

“The bond that links your true family is not one of blood, but of respect and joy in each other’s life.” ~ Richard Bach

“Let’s play a game”

Generally in my house, that phrase holds within in a realm of possibilities. With three kids and a husband who all have a slightly vicious competitive streak, playing games can be a fun family past time or a declaration of war.

If I am playing with my husband, it is on the XBox. I will be honest-I suck at video games. I was never a true “gamer” nor did I ever attempt to be, but my husband loves his Call of Duty games and so, I will try to oblige him by playing with him. It usually ends with me almost throwing the controller while yelling “I don’t give a damn. It’s justGAME!!!” while he fusses at me for not trying hard enough. I mean, jeez…I grew up on Nintendo and Atari. All these new fangled buttons on the XBox controller gets me flustered.

With my kids, I play on the Wii. We play MarioKart or bowling and yes, I still suck at these games, too. I will play a few rounds of MarioKart but after that, I am gamed out. My hand eye coordination is just not there. The girls aren’t so interested in playing video games, but if I ask them to play with me, they will. Or if they want to play and ask me to join, I will.

Now, board and card games are a completely different story for me. I will play some board and games and I will kick your booty. At least, I will try my damnedest. Monoploy? I will bankrupt you with hotels. Uno? I will make you lose a turn or draw cards. Checkers? King me! I love the old school games where you have to actually speak with each other to play the game. Pushing a few buttons on a controller is far less satisfying to me than knowing I will collect $2500 from you in rent because you landed on Park Place and I have hotels all over that bitch and that will bankrupt you and I will win. (Maybe that is where they get that competitive streak!)

Participation in their lives is important. Showing my husband that yes, I will at least try to play a game with him tells him I care about what he does. Showing my kids that yes, you can beat me at a game and the world will not end helps them see that playing for fun is acceptable and not everything has to be about who wins. And letting my kids in on the fun that I had growing up playing board and card games is so fulfilling. I feel as though I am teaching them secret skills that their friends might not ever learn given the current youth obsession with everything digital and/or electronic.

Quality time with family is important. Taking time out of your day or week to really spend time with your family is paramount to building and maintaining those strong bonds. A family dinner, followed by a family game. Or movie. Or outing. But doing things together…THAT is what is important. THAT is what my kids will remember.

“Family is not an important thing. It’s everything.” ~Michael J. Fox

Failure is Okay

“Failure happens all the time. It happens every day in practice. What makes you better is how you react to it.” ~Mia Hamm
This is a hard topic. I know there are harder topics out there…but this is hard.

Parenting is hard. I love my kids. I would bend over backwards for them, kill for them, die for them. I love how intelligent they are. They have this way of just knowing, even if I don’t say anything, if I am having a bad day or feeling a bit down. But this current situation is hard and it hurts and I feel, as a mother, as though I have failed my son.

My son. My son is a smart, funny, compassionate, sweet, adorable, goofy, distracted, geeky, nerdy but in a cute way, suffering from ADD teenager. Honestly he is so much more than that, but I am not here to wax poetic about how amazing my kid is (which he is). My son is dealing with some school stuff that we have all been struggling with since the first day, honestly. As a parent, it is my job to push him, to challenge him, to make sure he understands how to follow through with his responsibilities. Follow through at school is such a struggle for him. With his ADD, medicine might help…or it might turn him into a zombie with no appetite again and that is the last thing we need. But he gets distracted. forgets things. Loses track of when items are due. No amount of organization attempts have really helped him. School meetings, action plans, parent/teacher conferences…nothing seems to help.

We did home based online school for a while. At his request, I re-enrolled him into public school as he missed the social aspect of it. We were confident after his semester in a home school situation, with his grades up, he would be great in public school. We were wrong. He has struggled since the beginning. And we are facing a bitter truth: this won’t be the year he passes this grade level. At least, that is what it is looking like.

Failure is a bitter pill to swallow. Thinking back over everything that could have been done as a parent, and realizing you did everything you could only to end up with the outcome you were dreading and trying to prevent is a very frustrating experience. And as defeated as I feel, I can only imagine how defeated my son must feel. This directly affects HIM. In the past, I would simply make the decision I thought best for him and be done with it. As his father and I are divorced, and as my kids live with me, I would make that ultimate decision and not accept feedback from his father or anything else. But I need support on this. I need back up. I need to know I am not the only one frustrated with this situation and I am not the only one grasping at straws trying to help my son. So I made that hard phone call to his father, who is well aware of our son’s struggles, and I am dreading his response.

I don’t do conflict well.

Failure is scary. It hurts, stings, reminds you of your fallibility and that sometimes, things don’t always work out the way we want them to. I refuse to look at this as a dead end, though, This is not the end for my son. He has many years of school, mistakes, proud moments, failures, and successes left to him. My job, as his parent, is to encourage and support him through all of these moments. His failures are not my failures and his successes are not my successes. But I can love him through all of it and that is the best, as his mom and biggest cheerleader, that I can do.

 

“Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward toward success.” C. S. Lewis

Praise Nature and Pass the Technology

“I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, “This is what it is to be happy.”
Sylvia Plath, The Bell Jar

The weekend was pleasant enough, but Sunday was the best day by far. The day was filled with friends, simple entertainment, and nature.

Nature is my church. Nature is where my heart and spirit soar free, flying through the fresh air, dancing in and out through the foliage, splashing in the rushing waters of the rivers and lakes, dashing through the warm fingers of sunlight and the cool shadows of the leaves and trees. Nature is my zen, my happy place, my nirvana. It is in nature that I worship. We spent hours at the park, scrabbling around near the river, walking the paths near the mill, enjoying each other’s company. It was easy to forget the call of the world beyond. It was easy to drown out the unpleasantness from the previous week, letting go of all of the cares of the world and just simply BE.

I did things that frightened me. Not that they were dangerous or risky, unless you call falling in cool water on a hot day a risk. I’m not young anymore. My abilities to balance aren’t what they used to be. We walked an old rock wall near an old mill whose site was turned into a park. (That’s me in the front) I had to have great balance and the butterflies in my stomach were immensely busy fluttering, but I swallowed my fears and walked the wall. And then another. But that time, my husband held my hand, to reassure himself as well as me that I was safe, secure, and looked after.

balancing

This photo was taken by a friend. I’m in the front.

I took pictures of the old train trestle and tracks.

We enjoyed the interesting and colorful urban art that was on the cement stanchions and walls.

I saw my kids run and play and climb and be kids. We had a good time, a good day, and we plan on going back and doing more of the same with other added activities, like kayaking and maybe even a picnic.

Other than the use of my phone to take the pictures, I didn’t post to facebook. I didn’t tweet my photos. I recorded the memories, as I should, and put my phone back in my pocket to enjoy the moment. This time was too precious to miss.

My husband often says, when he is angry and impatient with a business, his time is precious. Truth be told, all of our time is precious. No one’s time is less costly than anothers. And the time we miss with our family and friends, the time we give to facebook and instagram and our phones and texting and tweeting…all of that time is time we will never get back. Technology has become a time-suck, a sneaky villain that wriggles in under the guise of helpfulness and takes bites out of our lives that we barely pay attention to, all the while complaining that there isn’t enough time in the day to do A, B, and C. Yet, the irony is if we paid half as much attention to what we really need to do as we do to our phones and facebook and technology, then we would probably get everything we need to do done.

I still love technology, don’t get me wrong. I love my phone, my tablet, my laptop. They all serve their purposes quite well. They keep me in contact with my friends, family, and coworkers. They help me to stay abreast of news. They entertain me when I am sick in bed, having insomnia, or stuck watching a tv show picked by my kids that makes me want to shove pencils in my eyes. But I am seeing more and more a need to take a step back from it so I can get back to what really matters in life. Because the less attention I pay to the time I spend with technology, the more I am giving up time with friends and loved ones. I have to feed what is important. I have to know when enough technology is enough.

Family is important.

Friends are important.

Worshiping nature is important.

Technology can wait.

“…and then, I have nature and art and poetry, and if that is not enough, what is enough?”
Vincent van Gogh