goingplaceslivinglife

Travel, Food, and Slices of Life


Leave a comment

When the Family Fails

I want to share a story while providing some sense of privacy for the people who are at the center of this tale…..they are human like the rest of us. Like the rest of us, the choices they have made and continue to make seem to serve them but they are not happy people, so perhaps even they realize something is very wrong with their life path.

My birth family had its issues. My parents were very close, at times to the exclusion of my sisters and me. See, mom was not healthy. I have no idea what her diagnosis would have been but each of us kids have had our adult issues because what we were TOLD and what we OBSERVED were two different things.

My parents did a lot of good things for us that, for me, offset the negatives a lot. They took us camping around the United States. They encouraged us to learn musical instruments and we were all active in Girl Scouts. We received our religious education and while we did not go to Temple each Friday or Saturday, we went enough for me to understand my heritage and that doing good deeds was a part of making a good life.

But I always knew some of the things mom said were not based in the reality where I was living. I spent a few years in my early adulthood breaking many of those “rules”, proving my life would be just fine even if I rebelled.  I stumbled, and I picked myself up and I learned very quickly that no one, not even my parents would ever ever rescue me.

My sisters and I have compared notes over the years and they did not have the same perception I did. The rules were the rules and there was a lot of guilt over breaking them.  We had failed marriages. We had addictions. We grew through them and beyond them. We still probably continue to stumble sometimes but we have never ever said “stay away from me” because we are family.

dysfunctional-family

source: Lucky Otters Haven

Meanwhile, around us are a kazillion other families, each trying in their own way to do the right thing with their kids. But we know our society has been failing. We have kids who are out of control. Adults now, they want what they want when they want it. They don’t know how to plan for a goal and deferred gratification is a concept that they never learned.

Many adults were not taught life skills by their parents and do not know how to cook a healthy meal. How to plan a budget. How to get along.  How to TRY to get along. They feel what they feel and everyone else who feels differently is wrong wrong wrong. Even sick and maybe should be hospitalized.  Attack and deflect if you can’t get along…..make it the other person’s fault and never never assume any responsibility.

And it goes to the parents….and then to those adult children who continue the cycle by striking out at anyone who ruffles the waters, who disturbs the system that holds the status quo together.

Image result for shutting the door in someone's faceI have a friend I met over 20 years ago who needed a place when her family told her “don’t come here” and so, she came to me. Now, I know with my own mother, most people looking at our family never imagined we had anything less than “happy” going on behind our doors, but that’s the way it was. So I can imagine that it is hard for a 50-70 year history of aggravation to be set aside to rise and be a family, especially when there is a strong person in charge. Even if she is not healthy.  Especially if she is not healthy.

I understand how hard it is to confront an irrational person, even when it is apparent to all around her that things are not right. Weak people tend to hide. They do not want to be the next target.  So they are compliant and accept the way it is, and anyone who tells them otherwise, like me and this blog, is wrong.

Too many people would rather sweep issues that are difficult under the carpet in the attempt to ignore them. Too many people come on aggressively when they feel a horrible conflict with what they “should” do and what they “must” do.

And so, we see homeless people. We see people on drugs trying to make their world calmer, less scary.

When all they need is love and acceptance.

I know they will read this. I know it will not help calm the waters, but you know what, NOTHING I do would help. The only change that could happen has to be from them.

There will be tears. There will be anger. And you know what, it just is more of the same. A pattern that has gone on for over 70 years. People educated in psychiatry would be quick to tell me this blog is not wise.

But it is time for someone to speak up. Before more families do this to each other.  Maybe someone somewhere will recognize that they need some meds or counseling or something to heal the pain that grew. Image result for love and acceptanceMaybe……I hope so.

 

Advertisements


4 Comments

I Did Okay

About thirty years ago I had an epiphany. My job was not the activity I did that provided income. My job, it hit me, was to raise those little munchkins I had birthed to become healthy and happy adults who could function as contributing members of society.

It wasn’t an easy road, as anyone who has walked it can attest. Having a spouse who had a completely different parenting philosophy was harder, believe it or not, than when I was a single mom.  But trying to parent alone can be a constant struggle against fatigue and a slippage of consistency.

I’m not a deep analytical thinker generally but as a kid, whenever I chafed at the rules and restrictions imposed by my parents that seemed unfair, I thought about why. What was the purpose of the rule?  Was it fair? Could my parents have achieved my compliance more readily if they had presented the need for a certain behavior a different way?  It seemed to me that the answer was yes, life was unfair to me then. easier to build a child

I knew my parents, overall, were okay. I understand better now that they had their own issues and that they did what they thought was the best thing for my sisters and me. And despite some developmental restrictions I had to learn to overcome as an adult (i.e, how to deal with anger in a way where it would not blow up into World War III) they gave me a lot of experiences that many other kids don’t get.

Our family was in no way child centric, but my parents were involved in activities that provided for my exploration and growth. Scouting, encouraging my love of reading, camping and travelling, helping us learn to swim, and PTA were things they did. There were inconsistencies about religious training and practice which I now recognize was a struggle between the way my dad and mom had each been raised. They encouraged my participation in the music education program starting in 4th grade, something I did with my kids and learned quickly to appreciate that my parents had provided that model.

What’s fascinating is that when I discuss memories and issues with my two sisters, their experiences sometimes were considerably different from mine. If that can happen in the same environment, the whole nurture vs nature concept shows up more clearly.genetics-nature-vs-nurture-4-638

Looking back it is easy to see that each of my kid’s personalities was evident right from the beginning.  They were who they are even as infants and toddlers. The way they expressed themselves, their willingness to explore or need to stay close, and their responses to me were challenging and wonderful and scary, all at the same time.  I recognized that this was my biggest responsibility in life and I knew I wanted to give them something better than I had had.

STEPI knew I wanted to parent differently but also knew that unless I made an effort to learn a new way, the guidance I heard in my head and heart would be the way I had been raised. I was fortunate that my older two kids attended an elementary school in  the “poor” neighborhood of a town in Connecticut where education was held in high esteem. (in other words, we paid higher taxes for the school system there than any other place I have lived.) The principal of the elementary school was a consummate grant writer and we had an amazing array of programs, offered free. One was a parenting class called Systematic Training for Effective Parenting.  While child raising practices have moved on, this served as an amazing framework for me to teach my kids about fair communication, accepting responsibility, and understanding that there will be consequences for misbehavior.  One of the best parts, particularly after a year or two of practice, was that we all had fewer angry meltdowns.  Me too.

I know it would be interesting to read their perspective of the experience. Now adults in their 20s and 30s, I suspect I would hear about all the horrible things I did to them. But I also think there would be many more positive issues. (I recognize that statement might be self serving. LOL)

I just came back from a long weekend to celebrate my youngest’s 23rd birthday. The joy I felt was better than any drug. I could easily see that despite a pathway taken that was not the original planned, he is doing fine. He is healthy. He is supporting himself (well, almost). He has good friends who also are finding their way along their own pathways.

One important difference, I think, between my parents and me is that I do not expect my kids to live their life the way I would if I had their opportunities.  This son struggled in school, a surprise to all of us. Yet in today’s economic turmoil, a college education is not proving to be the answer it was to my generation, so understanding there are other ways to earn the money to live is part of my letting go.  After all, earning a living is NOT the same as building a fulfilling life. My hope for this young man is the same as it was when he was born and he is well on his way to being the healthy, happy, functioning adult I tried to aim for with my parenting.

 

 

 


1 Comment

Counting My Blessings (May 2017)

I was doing busy work prepping some veggies for the dehydrator and was musing about my visit today to the new farm where some friends just moved. They are starting their new adventure and are excited about what they can achieve. They have a lot of work in front of them and they have the skills to tackle what needs to be done. I am so happy for them.

I also am humbled by my own lack of knowledge and ability to do what they plan to do. It made me realize that I am very fortunate that I have friends with diverse skill sets. Because I am enriched by those friendships.

I am so very glad I have many friends who are farmers or growers or fishers or hunters or gatherers. They know how to bring food home.

I am so glad I have many friends who are chefs and excellent cooks and others who love to build those skills. They know how to make us food to eat.

I am so glad I have many friends who are healers, either nurses or doctors or acupuncturists or chiropractors or therapists or physical therapists or massage therapists or reiki masters. They know how to help us be healthier.

I am so glad I have many friends who are teachers, either with children or adults, or group leaders, or others who share skills and abilities and are willing and able to share them to teach us to learn.

I am so glad I have many friends who have religious training either as ministers or rabbis or lay leaders or spirit sharers or truth seekers. They show there are many pathways to finding the message.

I am so glad I have many friends around the world of various nationalities. They share their pride of heritage and place and expand my world.

I am so glad I have many friends with sexual identities that differ from mine. They show me there are many ways to love.

I am so glad I have many friends.

My world is better than if everyone in my life was a cookie cutter, all from the place where I was born, all with the same education, the same religion, the same health, the same lifestyle. The diversity I see surrounding me reminds me we each are the star of our movie; we each are striving to make our life good. And the more we reach out to include people with differences, the better our own movie becomes.

Thank you for being part of making my life good….and then better.

 


3 Comments

Planner or Reactor?

For those of us who are Facebook people, you know there are often small surveys you can complete to find out if you know the slang used in a particular state or the foods eaten in different areas of the country. What would be interesting would be a questionnaire series to determine if an individual is a Planner or a Reactor.

For example, this past Saturday Graham and I participated in the March for Science at the state capitol in Salem, Oregon. Graham asked me early Saturday…what time should we leave?  My mind automatically went into 30 minutes to drive there, 10 to find parking, 10 to walk from where we park and add a 10 minute fudge factor and there we had the time to leave the house. Do you do that? You might be a Planner.

I’m sitting here, past noon, thinking about pizza…..and how can I work it out so we can go to a pizzeria after an evening meeting today when my husband makes a comment about pizza.  So I get off my butt and grab the bread maker and pizza dough will be ready in time for supper. Got the sausage out of the freezer, we have cheese, and there are some assorted other toppings in the frig. We’re set. How about your supper plans? Do you have them in the works early in the day (out of the freezer the night before counts) or does supper prep happen when you get that hunger pang later?  Your typical routine will very much indicate if you are a Planner or a Reactor.

When I lived in Connecticut and my two older kids were elementary school age, I often checked out the camp offerings when there was a fair in February. I couldn’t believe that action needed to be taken that early but found out it sometimes was the case that a special camp with limited spots filled quickly.

Years ago I planned a family trip to Nova Scotia. It was my youngest’s location of choice for his Golden Birthday Trip so he was involved and we started planning the summer trip in February. Good thing for the ferry, because the spots for cars were sold out by March. One of the planned events turned out wonderfully. We all like to cook so on our trips we usually try to fit in a cooking class for something local. When I contacted the chef in charge of the cooking classes I found listed, he did not have his scheduled planned out as far as July.  He asked what I would like to learn. Well, I told him I knew how to boil a lobster but another way to prepare it would be enjoyed. Or perhaps, something from Acadian cooking.  We showed up for the class, held in a teaching kitchen space at a local supermarket chain. The regular attendees had left the front row vacant for us because they had been informed about our trip and the early communication. As the chef announced we would be learning some Acadian recipes everyone cheered and one woman said that they never would have had been offered that if it had not been for us. Now, that isn’t even the end of the story! A couple of years ago, about 6 years after the trip, I received an email from the chef. It was something he had mailed out to everyone on his list that he was changing the direction of his business. I responded that it was great what he was planning to do, told him a little about my business, Can-Do Real Food, and then reminded him who I was. He remembered us and now we can compare local food concepts on Facebook.  Amazing how a bit of planning made the world a friendlier and smaller place.

Nice, but so what?  All these things, being a tad late instead of early to the March, going out for pizza instead making our own, getting the kids into a certain camp, and even making a memory with a chef in Nova Scotia, have only small impact on our day to day life. But there are other more important issues how the contrast between a Planner and a Reactor can influence the lives of many.

The concept of a happy marriage is more than happy bed partners. Yet many people forget to find out if they know how to TALK with one another and can work through disagreements.

The concept of raising healthy and well adjusted children requires a lot of planning. When you react to your child’s antics, you tend to discipline in ways that are not as well thought out if, alternatively, you had planned that lesson before it actually was needed. How would you know the lesson would be needed? You simply remember your own childhood and think how you wish your parents would have handled it. Somewhere between what mom and dad did and what you wanted when you were a kid is the right answer, but merely smacking a butt when angry is NOT what will work long term. 

The concept of leadership for any successful organization usually requires that members of that organization have a way to have their voice heard. It means the leader has to be thoughtful, willing to hear all sides, and be well educated in history, science and more in order to make decisions that are wise and sound for positive long term effect.  Choosing such a leader also requires recognition that bluster does not indicate brains, that speaking his mind does not indicate an ability to get along with others, that being the king of the empire does not translate well to leading a system with others having strong voices. 

And so now it seems that we must react because so many people did not plan well. Activism in a March for Science is but a drop in the bucket but amazing how many more people showed up to show that TRUTH and FACTS are needed…..more than showed up for the inauguration.  Activism is needed is you feel SOMETHING pro or con about a subject. 

So, essentially, planning will ease your life from some stresses but being able to get moving in reaction to events is also something needed. We must be both.


Leave a comment

The Pathway We Are On

As I go about my day, happy that we finally have some “free” time that we can pay attention to some delayed house cleaning, I found myself thinking of my friends who are on hard and rocky slopes right now. I want to send healing energy to

  • a man I have never met but I know of his good works. He suffered a devastating blow yesterday..maybe an aneurysm, the info on Facebook is not complete….and his wife and family and close friends are trying to hold him up through his pathway, in the hopes he circles back to them. I wish I could be there to nurture them as they help him.
  • a man I have never met but we connected through a mutual friend on Facebook and have been celebrating our commonalities and exploring our differences with love is also fighting a potentially life ending illness. His attitude is as upbeat as can be expected being in pain. I wish I was close enough to hold his hand, but he is not alone on his pathway, held by a loving wife.
  • a woman not too far away who seems to live under a dark cloud. She has had a number of hard blows in her life and the hits, unfortunately, still keep coming. I wish I had the means to make her dream possible, but I can’t do much to boost her pathway other than what seems to be empty hugs and platitudes.
  • another woman nearby who struggled to make her marriage work and was devastated this week when her husband moved out with no discussion. She knows I will be here as much as possible for her.
  • one of my sisters who after learning her landlord wanted to sell her longterm rental sought housing and lost first one and then seemingly a second house to purchase to unethical behavior of sellers. She finally has made her move and is in the throes of unpacking and finding a place for everything and sounds exhausted.
  • my other sister who also is figuring on moving and has to make considerable arrangements just to handle the packing and storage issue as she works out of town.
  • my children who have their own personal issues of delayed dreams as well as dealing with the turmoil caused by a family member. You always have a haven here.

There are so many people in pain, so many people whose pathways have so many roots and rocks tripping them.

People, realize we have no idea what strangers may be going through. Be kind.


2 Comments

I didn’t see that coming

Parenting is hard. Parenting with a partner is hard. Single parenting is hard. Any way you look at it, if you are doing it “right”, parenting is more than full time and you HAVE to put your own ego, your own desires, your own agenda aside.

It was when my kids were two and four years old that it became clear that my job was not my work as a real estate appraiser. My job, much more powerfully important that getting someone’s mortgage to an approval and closing, was to raise those two little pipsqueaks to be healthy, functioning contributing adults. It became apparent when my marriage was on such shaky grounds that the analysis HAD to consider what the kids would be learning if I stayed with their father.

I erred on the side of being “nice”. I told him we needed to separate. I had no plans at that moment for a divorce but I knew the kids needed a healthier environment for their daily life. I allowed him generous time with the kids and had to talk with them quite a bit when he hurt them because their needs were not compatible with what he wanted to do.

And when he filed for a divorce because he wanted to control the situation, I was okay with that. In fact, I was kind  of worried that if he knew how okay I was he would withdraw the petition, but he didn’t.  He told the kids I divorced him. I refused to talk about it with them (until they were adults) saying it was a grownup decision and both mommy and daddy love them.

I read a lot about kids going through divorce. I participated in programs the elementary school offered and we all had counseling sessions together. I was asked in a session, what my goal was. I stated, simply, that I wanted us to get along well enough that we could sit together at school events so the kids only had to play to one part of the auditorium. He said that was not his goal. He never said what goal he had.

And so, at high school and college graduations, we sat apart. Often his family sat with me. Not because they were taking my side but because they were taking the kids’ side. They got it.

He never did. He married again, as I did. And life moved on. The kids are now adults in their 30s and sometimes we still talk about what might have been. They ended up with a new brother with me and two new brothers with him. They are close to my youngest. The other little ones need them, but the new life their father has built has pushed them away.

I got news today that my ex is in trouble. That choices he has made has once again brought him into a world of hurt and he is most likely scared and unable to figure out how things turned so badly.  He has a pathway in front of him that I never dreamed he would take.

My feelings are confused. I know, intellectually, that there is nothing I did or did not do, nothing I might have done, that would have given him a different pathway. I know, intellectually, that his actions must have continued after my time with him with little thought of the consequences.  I know, intellectually, that no one can make this better for him,

However, I am surprised at how much emotional pain I feel. The “what if I had made him do this or that” syndrome is running through my gut. It is a worthless exercise. I know that.

 

 

 


6 Comments

A Better Role Model

Several years ago I was caring for a 10-year-old while her mother worked and found she was way behind in her school work. So, instead of letting her vegetate in front of the TV, I spent at least an hour a day working with manipulatives, listening to songs and other tools to help her learn the times table. I had her help me in the kitchen baking so we could talk about fractions. She complained to mom that I never played with her. I was no fun.

In the car one day with both of them, I pointed to a traffic sign and asked the girl why it was yellow. She didn’t know. I helped her work it through by using the example of a traffic light.  The mom yelled at me “Not everything has to be a teaching opportunity!”

I disagree. Strongly.

Childhood not only is the time when most learning happens, it is easiest then. It also is a time that sets up patterns for life.

We wonder why there are so many lazy people. So many people who drink and dope. So many people who can’t keep a job because they don’t have even the skill to report on time and be responsible.  Children learn from the adults around them. 

So, yes, every moment is most certainly a teaching opportunity with children, even when we are passive. They are watching.

We want a better society…..it starts at home. You are amazed how bad kids behave today…..it starts at home. You think the clerk at the store is rude….it starts at home. Be the example you want to see.