Friday, November 29, 2013

When the Thanks Goes Out of Thanksgiving

   Have you ever questioned why the Thanks seems to be missing from Thanksgiving. Having grown up in a small town that rolled up the streets on Sunday’s and holidays I was allowed to live the experience of a community that seemed to value remembering the holidays. As I have watched my own kids grow up I am saddened by the world we seem to be living in today, A world where it's no longer about remembering or being appreciative for those who came before. Its not about being a real holiday to be enjoyed by family but has grown into something far less valuable and shallow.
     Instead, its become about stores opened at 8:00 PM on Thanksgiving, and what is for sale that you must have. I know there are many who may not understand this, but we lose something when we feed into the shopping madness that occurs this time each year. Its easy to give in to the great sales, because after all who doesn’t want a bargain when shopping for Christmas with so many to buy for.
     In my own family,  Thanksgiving was always about family, watching the football games on TV, “March of the Wooden Soldiers”, and enjoying a big dinner with everyone. More than that though it was a holiday where we were all allowed to stop and take a breath and just be a family. Certain families change as children grow up and get married, (kids move away) starting their own traditions. The concept of the family, is what is important here, (it’s all in the sharing your time with each other) that mattered the most.
     This year we did our Thanksgiving thing, which involved me cooking up some things to bring to my moms this morning, with my daughters helping and my husband slipping out for a couple of hours of hunting. Some years we have dinner here, and other years dinner is either at my parents home or my brothers. The thing is, its in the routine, and what you make of it. We have holidays for a reason, and what I find is that as I get older each is being corrupted by the retail industry, or forgotten and devalued. Yes,  we do make the choice doing this to ourselves. If we give up our traditions, and Holidays, because maybe they are old fashioned, unfavorable, or just not in style anymore. Are we then giving up a piece of whom we are as a society? Are we deliberately pushing our own heritage under the carpet as worthless because we are "to enlightened to hold anything important other than ourselves?"
   When all of that's gone, and there are no traditions left here in the United States because this culture feels it discriminates against their beliefs, or that religious group doesn’t approve of the message.  In fact, giving into a type of peer pressure seems to be the new standard/ Some of our traditions have been around for almost 150 years, and sure some have changed and evolved. That's healthy and natural but right now where we are today is at a turning point of turning our backs on a part of our past that should be important. It should matter to us and our kids. If we aren’t teaching them those traditions then shame on us. If, we allow the powers that be to drive right over those same traditions aren’t we just as much to blame as they are?
     As we move into a more disposable society, maybe we should think about keeping some of those Holiday’s we like having and keep them actual Holiday’s. The stores open at midnight, that is a more recent commercial tradition. Soon those same stores may just stay open and not close at all. For the sole purpose of getting you to spend your money.
     You can't keep your family in your life when they chose to move away, but you can teach your kids what those holidays mean, and why that do matter. Wouldn’t it be better  passing along  our tradition to our young that are worth having? One's that are rich in our own family's past that they can pass on to their own kids. When we drop the ball it does play it forward until sometimes there is nothing left. I hope you and yours had a Happy Thanksgiving, one that was rich in traditions that may seem trivial or old fashioned but still  make you feel great inside.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Sometimes Quiet is Good

     Quiet ...Sometimes that is what you need. Just the sounds of the house around you. The washing machine humming away, the soft steady sound of Patton and Annabelle chewing on their bones. The absolute emptiness of being alone, hearing the creaks and groans of your house as it flexes shrinking and expanding. These sounds can be as comforting as the confusion that all too often exists in our everyday lives.

Silence isn’t a bad thing, nor is being alone at times. It allows us to be introspective, productive or even creative with our time. Over the years,  I have learned to value the quiet, of being alone when I need it the most.

When I was young silence, could be restrictive, even suffocating, in part I believe because we are to young and can feel the overwhelming power of the world around us. The world we live in is massive as a young person the enormity of the world around me could be frightening.

For many silence can be too much, making them feel cornered or restricted. In reality,  it becomes a prison for them. I know people who despise being alone and insist on filling every moment with people, noise or things to distract them. After all,  it is easier than confronting ourselves, and exploring our own fears and insecurities.

With the holidays just around the corner, being allowed to have this time is indeed a treasure for me. It means I get some me time, where I can take care of the things I need to do. It isn’t always easy to juggle our time when we have a family. All too often we lose any sense of quiet when we decide to have kids.

During my day, if I can manage to find at least an hour of quiet time I am a happy camper. Sorting through  my thoughts and feeling for the day is an excellent stress reliever.  It allows me to find my own stride as I go about life, actually accomplish something I may not have otherwise gotten to. Perhaps that is due in part to where I am in life now. I still value the enormity of the world around me, but instead of fear, I feel comforted by it.

That is one of the pleasures I have learned to love about our cabin in the woods, the beautiful dark silence that surrounds you. It makes you feel small and tiny. You know in your head that there are dangers out there, wild animals that could cause harm. The peace and serenity  it brings are well worth any misgivings I may have about the wildlife. If you take the time to listen to the quiet around you, you may find that there is  peace in it that we all need.

Quiet is a good thing that allows for thoughts. The enjoyable silence of an empty house or a quiet mountain top can give us balance to function in the chaos that we all must live in today So next time you're alone taking a moment close your eyes and just listen, listen to the quietness that surrounds you. Its nothing to fear, it is in reality a gift.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Holidays Time To Remember What its About

With the holidays around the corner,  I all too often find myself reminded of family and friends who have passed on. Perhaps that may seem a bit morbid to some, but what I hold onto aren’t just the memories but the traditions they shared with us during their own lives. So many of our kids today seem to be getting further and further away from that. Although some may be dated or called old fashioned (like making and gifting cookies) they are a part of whom we are, and where we all come from.
In our house,  Thanksgiving and Christmas are full of traditional, and not so traditional idea’s. We always try to include our extended circle, because we are all family. It’s easy to forget those whose family member  has passed away. We are all busy trying to accomplish as much as we possibly can in the few short hours we have each day. Try to take five minutes out of your day to say hello and include them in your  holiday.
Forgetting those little things that as children made us smile or had us looking forward to the holidays for some special treat, is what we need to hold onto. Not how many toys or gifts we got, not even who spent the most on their gift. In our zeal,  we seem to have lost track of the idea behind these special days. Many of our malls and stores are now open on most holidays.
As we grow and open up as a culture, we  all need to learn how to embrace other holidays and traditions that may be new to us. Here’s the thing. When we landed here, our traditions and our customs weren't automatically picked up by those who were already living here, Nor do I believe did we embrace their traditions.
Even the foods we eat are based on tradition
With so many mixed family’s today instead of clinging so tightly to your own way of doing things, find out what their traditions are? If you know your  friends or family have different cultural beliefs then take a moment and find out what, their practices are. Open your heart and home so no one is left sitting at home on Thanksgiving, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Boxing Day, or even Hanukkah while they eat a frozen turkey dinner alone.
By protecting not only your own traditions but those of your extended family who may be with you over the holidays you're creating a bridge. One that doesn’t just bridge gaps but  will help you carry your traditions forward through your kids and family. In my own life,  there are some traditions that came from my first marriage and some from my early childhood that I share with my own kids. Little things that made me appreciate the holidays just a little bit more. As a wife and mother in a new marriage,  I feel it is vital to embrace my husbands beliefs, as well. Its about mixing as a couple and family.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Closer to The Finish Line

         Taking one further step closer to the finish line, and graduating from OCC I discover myself continually amazed by the absolute brilliance of my classmates. Their level of creativity and individualistic thought is a tribute to our progress as a culture. There have been ups and downs as I have chugged along steadily toward the end goal of my degree. I can say with certainty it has  been at times challenging. Watching my own daughter struggle in her own way as  she finds her way in school, makes it all the more bittersweet. She is truly growing up and becoming a responsible adult.
     As a quasi perfectionist, I find myself continually fretting over assignments and grades. Was my paper good enough, did I score high enough on my last test? Yet oddly, that thing we call real life that we all know and participate in goes on around us. People still lose homes, jobs and their lives, it never stops.
     I would be deceiving myself if I didn't acknowledge that I worry for our kids in college today and what they will ultimately face as they go out into the world. It isn’t a friendly place nor does it take prisoners.
     For myself, I am not where I ultimately want to be, which is one step closer to getting published or finding complete success at my antique business. Not unlike many of you out there I am holding my own.
     So what have I learned this semester so far, well that I can write a story that can make me cry. That we never know as much as we think we do and that real brilliance is in each and every one of us. Sure there are still those kids you may wish you could stick in a locker which isn’t politically correct today. They are still there and still around to drive you crazy.(Yes they still make me roll my eyes and grit my teeth.) They will always be there, even out in the real world.
     As I go over each new hurdle I keep reaching toward the prize. Even though my end goal has expanded into continuing towards my bachelors degree in Literature at (Hopefully) Stockton College. I have to admit I am still just a little intimidated by the prospect. Bigger school bigger campus, it took me almost two years to figure out where everything was here at OCC without getting lost. I can just see me now wandering around campus with a map as I try to find what buildings I’m in and where my classes are.
     Looking back over my time here I am so thankful for the wonderful professors I have had the pleasure of studying under. Their own rich life experiences have brought so much to the classroom. It has been well worth getting to know them as a student. It isn’t easy to change course in the middle of your life, yet sometimes in order to find oneself, that is what is necessary. Taking that needed time to stop and listen to something other than a TV or our family and friends as we come to hate the same old grind. At twenty many are ready to take on the world without really knowing what the world holds for them. As we hit thirty we start to wake up and realize there is something bigger out there, and that there is much more to life. As I sit here perched in the middle of forty I know gravity will only get worse, yet I feel as if I am better able to appreciate the nuances of going to college. I can laugh at the absurdity and Don Quixote like zeal of the many younger students who feel passionately about everything.
     When I look deep inside myself, I feel an overwhelming acceptance and gratitude for where I am now. A thankfulness for the experience I have been able to have thanks to my wonderful husband.  I may at times be bleary-eyed from lack of sleep as I stay up to finish papers or study for tests, but I understand this moment in my life is a gift.

Wednesday, November 06, 2013

Table For One

 As a woman,  one of the hardest things to get past when I became divorced from my ex-husband was the ability to do everything by myself. There are the typical things like cut the grass, getting your car fixed that stereotypically we tend to let the man handle. It isn't a good thing or a bad thing but as a woman learning to do things alone was about finding me as a person.
     I know many may not think it is necessary to do things alone, but it is. Think about when you learned how to ride a bike for the first time that feeling of freedom as you sailed down the street with the  wind brushing against your face. That was you! All by yourself, sure mom or dad pushed  and got you going, but you did that. Well at least until your crashed when you couldn't remember how to stop. My point is those moments of freedom are necessary even needed in our lives. That wonder factor that hey I’m doing this myself is crucial for us as women. We need to feel that sense of accomplishment and make that connection with ourselves.
     When you have kids as a single parent, you have to take the time for yourself to keep balance in your life. Many women do this in various ways. One of the things I think that is hard is to tackle things we generally think of as couples activities. Going out to a movie, dinner or a show, even going out with other couples we tend to  do these things when we are with someone else even if its just a friend.
     It is imperative as women to learn how to be alone, how to go out to dinner alone and actually enjoy it. I can still remember one of the first times I went out to eat alone and the waiter seemed almost shocked that I wasn't with someone and wasn't meeting a date. I tend to be a creature of habit, yet in my effort to grow as a person it was necessary  to break those habits that I was used to and took for granted.
      Sure I dated and enjoyed having company, who wouldn’t? We tend to identify ourselves by the man we are with, to the point that many of us lose ourselves. After a bumpy start,  I did learn to do all of those things by myself and to savor the time it gave me. In essence,  I found myself, and that is essential for us all to do. It is hard to bring your best to a relationship when you don’t honestly know whom you are. It reminds me of Julia Roberts in Runaway Bride when she is trying all the different eggs to see what she as a person actually likes. As women,  we all too often don't do  that in our desire to blend with our mate.
      It is one of the reasons why I did wait before getting married or seriously involved again. Women need to find themselves first, it is one thing I have always told to my two girls as they entered adulthood. At twenty, our perspective tends to be a little different, and we don't understand what it means to find ourselves. In fact,  we tend to identify ourselves by the person we are with.  If you don’t understand what I am saying take a book, sudoku, or simple game and go out to an actual restaurant and eat alone. While you're sitting there look around, you may see a few men eating alone but rarely if ever will you see a woman enjoying a simple meal by herself.
     We spend so much time feeding and caring for our families we give up that thread of ourselves. Here’s the thing we need that thread, those fibers that make us an individual. We need them for ourselves, our kids and our relationships.
      We need to take the time to find ourselves, and actually learn to like ourselves as women. Our society is geared towards couples, you hear comedians talk about it, making fun of it. Go to a bookstore or on Amazon, there are thousands of books on how not to be alone. That point us toward finding our happiness by being with someone else.
      Here is my point if you can't make peace with yourself, and learn to be comfortable inside your own skin you are limiting what you're bringing to a relationship. You're cutting yourself out of the equation, & you're choosing to ignore your needs and wants as a person. Those needs are paramount to take care of in order for you to be there for anyone else, including yourself. So do it I dare you, in fact, I will double dare you. Go out to a restaurant and ask for a Table for one, you may just be surprised.
Empower yourself 

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