Saturday, January 22, 2011

Don't gripe because you have choices

It's so hard to get out of my warm, dreamy sleigh bed in the morning, especially this time of year. I rush around getting the kids dressed & out the door, off to a public school where they receive a quality education, and I am allowed to question things if I choose about what they are taught there. I complain that I never have any clothes to choose from for work, (understatement of the century) that my high heels hurt my feet, and I'd rather just wear my Justin Boots to work every day with some worn in jeans. I complain about the price of gas, even though I have a company gas card. I gripe about having to work, about having to boss so many people around, make decisions for them, audit them and point out their shortcomings. I get aggravated because I don't think my office is insulated enough, therefore it stays too cold in there.  I get frustrated when people discuss other people's private business at work. I get angry when the weak are singled out by the bullies.

I complain about the light bill, I fuss about the cable bill, I whine about the price of groceries and I think to myself I'd rather scrub out the back of a garbage truck than set foot in wal*mart. I am never so tired as when I begin to cook dinner every night. There are a thousand things I could be doing in lieu of cooking. Expense reports, playing a computer game, getting on facebook, calling Julie or Michele', playing wii with the kids, checking homework, reading one of the dozen books I'm halfway through but can't ever finish. I gripe that the kids don't bring their dirty clothes to the hamper in the laundry room. I resent the dishwasher because it uses so much hot water and electricity, plus it has to be loaded and unloaded. I hate writing the check to the insurance company and the land tax man, because it seems like such a rip off. I hate paying the water bill. I can think of so many things I want my kids to have, that I want to have, that I would so rather spend my hard earned money on than the stupid water bill.

I get angry when the neighbors dog gets into my garbage. I get upset when I watch the morning news every day at 6am. I dwell on the negative, and that bit of bad news, that feeling that some poor kid was attacked by a pit bull, some slum lord has human beings living in squalor, that the murder toll in Jackson has risen another notch. I carry that taste in my mouth all day. The hopelessness, the despair, the frustration one feels when you realize what exactly it is you feel: When you discover that too much is just that, too much.

I realize now I've been looking at it from entirely the wrong perspective.

I HAVE a warm cozy bed to sleep in. I have a nice roof over mine and my families head. I have money to buy groceries, I have a car I can drive to wal*mart. I have a job that this economy has not taken away from me. I make the decision what I want to wear to work, how I want my hair styled, what jewelry goes best with what outfit. My kids have the same decisions when it comes to their lives. What will they wear? How will they behave? Will they apply themselves and study and behave in class? How will they treat their fellow students?

I cherish the ritual of sit down family dinners, why should I resent the fact that I have to cook them? The end benefit heavily outweighs the input. I get to have a quiet, family conversation and find out what's going on in every ones lives. I should rejoice that I have lights and electricity, central heat and air conditioning. I should thank God every time clean water runs out of my tap, enabling me to take a long hot bath to recoup from the stress of a work day.

I should be glad I live in a small community where the dogs do run free, where we all know one anothers names & histories, and we know there are no problems we can't work through. I shouldn't get so depressed by the news. I can't change the entire world in one day. I can only be who and what I was meant to be, and if I change the outlook of one person per day, and point out we should all have more gratitude and thankfulness, and stop blaming everyone else for our problems, then I have done a little good. I would rather share my positivity with one single individual than spread false hope like it's a new dope to the masses.

Do you see what this all relates to? Freedom. I don't have to worry about being killed because I'm not dressed correctly. I can pray anywhere, anytime I want. I can read my bible, I can preach the gospel, I can praise God whenever it strikes me. And I should. We should relish our opportunities, and cease being beholden to the rhetoric of politicians and more so the influence of our 'friends.' I can watch TV because it's not censored, I can take a job in a mans vocation if I so choose, I don't have to ask my families permission whom and when I marry. I can get whatever level of education I choose, I can have as many children as I want. I can have friends and family no matter what their race, religion, creed, sex, or sexual orientation. I can do exactly what i want, because the price of religious freedom and national freedom has been paid for me.

What a beautiful gift it is, Freedom. That word is so powerful, in and of itself.  Stop for a second and think about what it means to you.

Use thy freedom wisely.

Monday, January 17, 2011

January Discrimination

This barren, grey, dormant landscape of January makes it difficult to be enthused about much. While the majority of the animal kingdom dreams of greener days, and the fowl of the air make their thousand mile treks, we stay shamelessly wrapped in our snuggies, devouring bowls of chili or soup dinners. We take our coffee in front of the fireplace, trying to subconsciously block out the dank permeating wetness that pervades the dreariest month on the calendar. There are no neighbors working on their landscaping to wave at as you drive passed, no joggers lost in their ipod play lists,no young boys putting lizards in their pockets that will morph into a surprise for their mom's come laundry time.  All the excitement and excess from November to New Years Eve has bogged us down into an anti celebration coma, so we hide in our caves of brick and mortar and wait. We don't give any thought to the process going on out of doors, we only gripe about what the light bill is going to be as we increase the temperature on our central heating units.

I have never been a big fan of January as a whole. To tell the truth, I am probably the #1 most wanted person on the "January Anti-Defamation League" poster. It holds some very devastating memories for me, and I've always resented the entire month for that, if that makes any sense. (To me, it does. That's what counts) I seriously dread January. It's rainy, muddy, and crammed with work deadlines for the fiscal year. I find it hard to tolerate that people are so determined when they begin the new year so resolutely, but in a few weeks are back to their same old tricks. (insert leopard/spots adage here)

I hate January and I don't even have seasonal affective disorder. My vitamin D level is quite alright, thank you very much. It's personal between me and this----this, I don't know, most useless of time measurements. 

February is not too bad. At least their are beautiful flowers everywhere, albeit they are only around because of the much too commercialized Valentines Day, but it beats the crap out of a landscape of dying poinsettias and Christmas trees on the roadside waiting for the garbage pick up. I can tolerate February....March is good just because it's name makes me more hopeful, but the summer is what my heart most desires. The smell of fresh cut grass. Driving down rural highways and agreeing with the cows immersed in ponds up to their necks, acquiescing that if I could be in a pool instead of in a suit headed to work I so would be. Grumbling about the inevitable sno-cones in the car spills, and cleaning the mess that the sticky, bright yellow banana Popsicles my sons devour at the speed of light creates.

I miss the sights, the crystal clear blue of the swimming pool, the perfect red of a freshly cut watermelon, dripping with juice and the promise of a sweetness on your palate that only nature can provide. The color of blue the sky holds when you're on a quiet flight and you're high above the clouds, that pure crystalline blue, you look out your window seat and believe in forever when you see that blue.

I miss the smell of chlorine & sunblock that fills your nostrils as you towel off your kids after a nice cool swim, taken to combat the oppressive heat. I want to ride my bike and stop to pick wildflowers with my daughter. I miss trips to the zoo or the fair where you are 1000 degrees hot, the humidity is at 400%, and you think "Wow this was a dumb idea. What I wouldn't give for a cold winters day."

I get the January blues because my mind craves to see something in bloom, anything that signifies that life is moving forward and will continue, the same as it has for so many centuries, something that tells me it will go on. Sunshine will come again.

I was outside today, in a spot I often go to have quiet thought, and I could hear my 3 kids jovially pointing out the squirrels jumping from limb to limb, their initial surprise as a rabbit jumped in front of their path, and Crash's excited bark as they walked in the woods. Their laughter carrying through the hollows and hills, wrapping around the trees and brown leaves as it made it's way to fall upon my ears. And you know what? They didn't seem to be bummed about the whole bleakness of this time of year at all. They were genuinely enjoying one anothers company and the dogs, and I realized they had done something I have not. They have come to accept that what occurs with nature, the withdrawal of the breathtaking color surges and the inactivity of the land as a part of the natural order of things. And they were totally cool with it.

Perhaps we, like the world, are meant to experience periods of dormancy. We don't have to be at our peak performance at all times. We can, and should have times of reflection and introspection, when we build up our reserves of the parts of ourselves we must give to others. We won't always be a blooming bouquet of flowers, we can't always be on top of our game, have all the answers, or be everything we have to be (especially as women) unless we give ourselves a little time to rest. Rest and reflect. I can't look at it as a barren greyness of the landscape, any longer; for in doing so I am saying it's a barren greyness of my soul, also.

I should enjoy, no appreciate everything in it's time, and in it's season. Give myself time to be dormant, so I can fully enjoy the sunshine.


I don't have any prophetic words of wisdom for tonights blog. It's been crazy the last few days and I just don't have it in me to try to learn any lessons from this weekend, other than I must have given my parents pure hell, because I am getting it back in spades from my daughter Moon. Maybe I can blame this on her Dad. Yeah, that builds my confidence. I'll blame it on his dna. Either way, I'll just take my hits and keep on rolling..... give y'all a reason to hug your kids who have social filters and always ignore the white elephant in the room.

Friday began as a different kind of day in our home. Mark was gone to Oklahoma with my Dad & my brother Tate, and Moon & Jake seem to have taken this chest cold crud that's going around, so I let them stay home with me. I had a day off that I had been looking forward to for weeks. Well as situations often do, it turned out I had a true work emergency and had to go into work for a few hours. Moon and myself were already in Jackson, going to redeem the gift cards she had gotten for Christmas. (Speaking of that, whomever gives her build a bear gift ever again is taking her to redeem it. I'm DONE with the Build a bear experience. After having her stuff a total of 11 animals in her life, I've seen enough of the inside of that place!)

Anyway...back to the work part of Friday. We were in one of my highest volume, heaviest traffic and highest square footage stores. Just about every employee on the payroll was there. Moon was sitting playing her DSI in a corner behind the register while I was trying to handle massive work chaos. I was being very pc to my people, empathizing with their situations, smiling, nodding appropriately, trying my best to show I care. Moon was still sitting in the corner minding her own business. About this time one of my best employees walks up to Moon and starts talking to her. "Moon, you're so cute! You are just too cute for words! I bet you are real smart, too!" Moon doesn't even look up, or in any way acknowledge that someone is speaking to her. I try to make up for it, and make Moon acknowledge the compliment, trying to soothe things over in what was quickly becoming an awkward situation. "Oh, she's just wrapped up in that Nintendo, girl. She can't even hear us, she's wrapped up in her game so deeply, ha ha, (insert my nervous laugh here). About this time there are a few more employees standing around, extolling the virtues of Moon's cuteness. Well the queen of melodrama, my child, decides THIS is the time to speak. She slips the stylus back into the ds case, and with utmost sincerity she begins, "You people don't have to like me. My Mama is not going to give you more money because you know I'm cute. Trust me, you're not the first of my mom's workers to tell me I'm cute. And you know my mom is nice to you on the phone when you call the house? Well she calls you all whiny babies after she hangs up with you. Mama says, "Those people make me crazy, they call me for the silliest decisions and choices that they know they can make on their own!!! Yeah she gripes A LOT when y'all call her for stupid stuff. She tells me all about it." And as she says this, her face is total sincerity and deadpan, with no care that she could be tearing down work relationships it has taken me years to build. I got a very defiant look on my face, "Now Moon, you know that is simply not true. I care about all my team members!" She looked nonplussed, "well it sure doesn't sound like it when you call them idiots & lazy all the time." There was no use in trying to salvage the situation. I nervously laughed and said, "OK I think my work here is done, I think we'll be going now."

Fast forward to Northpark Mall. We stopped at a kiosk ran by a small built, very friendly man of Indian descent. I ask him could he please help me find a cover for my phone. He tells me he doesn't have any in stock, and he begins to check on his laptop. I wasn't looking at the man, just staring at the shiny phone covers on display, my mind a million miles away. I wish now I'd been watching Moon for her tell tale signs that the truth was about to be told. All of a sudden Moon looks at the man, points at him, and rather excitedly says, "OH MAN! OH DUDE! Do you know you've got six fingers on your hand? That is W-I-L-D!" I grasped her arm an exclaimed, "CHARLSIE GRACE WILSON! YOU HUSH YOUR MOUTH THIS INSTANT!" She's not phased. She completely ignores me, and says to the man, "Dude you've got a thumb growing out of your thumb!!! I bet you can get on the Internet really fast. Click click click click click click! Just click on the Internet real real fast!" At that point I could've qualified for child abuse. I tightened my grasp on her arm and pulled her forcibly away from the kiosk. We ran away so fast from that kiosk that a security guard actually stopped and asked if we were okay. I stammered some excuse  about hurrying to the bathroom and I gave Moon a look that said 'if you speak right now so help me God I will duct tape your mouth shut!' I exited the mall at the complete opposite end and walked four miles to get to the car, just to avoid going by that man's kiosk again. Lord, give me strength, I kept thinking.

Moon was trying to find someone to play wii with her tonight. Mark comes in the living room and asks Moon if she' like him to play with her. She never takes her eyes off the tv screen and tells her brother, "What? Are you crazy? Why woul i want to play with you? You cant even beat level one, dude. You're uselesss as a wii opponent.

Well today it rained lightly but steadily all day. I was cleaning up the kitchen after we'd had my mom's birthday lunch. I hear something going on in my bathroom, that sounds funny; and I can hear Moon talking to herself. I walk in to find she has both her knee high rubber boots...wait for the toilet.  With a butter knife, scraping the soles of them. Now truth be told, as I stood there and shook my head, I could not wait to hear this story. I asked, "Moon, may i ask what you are doing?" "Well, what does it look like?" She replied with more than a hint of disdain for my interrupting her work. I closed my eyes, pressed my palms hard into my eye sockets as I counted to ten. l, l,
"Moon, may I ask WHY you felt the need to wash your rubber boots in the toilet?" She stops, turns to look at me, and exhales like it's a chore she has to inform me what is going on. "Mom, I'm cleaning them. I stepped in dog crap out in the yard. I'm trying to get the dog crap off. And where else does crap go, but down the toilet?"

How can I argue with THAT logic???

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Dog Fights & God's Commands

I want my blog to be about truth, what's really going on in my life and heart, I don't want to sugar coat the rough parts and make it appear that I have everything together and my life is perfect. It is taking a great deal of self discipline to sit down and chronicle my shortcomings and dreams missed in such a public forum, but I do feel it is affecting me in a very positive manner. I love that positive reinforcement I feel when someone agrees; or not necessarily agrees but understands, grasps, what I am trying to convey. It gives me a sense of pride that I have undertaken something that will better myself, and so far I have stuck with it, despite the way it intimidates me. My laptop, given as a birthday gift last year, now symbolizes 'another job' I need to get done. Man why do I do this to myself? Just constantly add to the list of what has to get done. I do it because I know it is going to make me a deeper thinker, a second guesser, not one who just believes everything I'm told, but questions what may seem off kilter. I am doing it because I want to be more self actualized, and I want to make sense of what happens and has happened. I crave what we all do, the human connection.

As I sat down to write tonight's blog, the blank page was just staring back at me. I looked up from my laptop and saw straight ahead of me our little 2 pound dog, Lily, wrestling with our 105 pound dog, Boomer. Believe me, Lily wrestles Boomer with wild abandon. She doesn't realize she's only two pounds, in her mind she is a force to be reckoned with, a born scrapper, behaving as if she were born and raised on some mean inner city streets of dog-dom, where you had to fight to survive. She doesn't see that Boomer can put her entire neck and head in his mouth with one fell swoop. They are hilarious the way they growl at one another, you would think we were running a dog fighting ring if you only heard them and didn't see what was actually going on.

Boomer is very gentle with Lily. He loves to be around her, playing tug of war with a puppy rope, outrunning her to the ball when Moon throws it, letting her catch up and get that ball, then running back to Moon with Lily. Is that how I approach life? Am I a Lily or a Boomer?

Perhaps I am a mixture of the two. I am for the most part a Boomer. Patient and kind, considerate of others, especially the young, the elderly, the frail, the ones who may not have the education, knowledge or resources to realize when they are being taken advantage of, the ones who don't quite have a grasp for the technology that us 'young folk' have in abundance. After all, that is who we are required to protect when we are in our younger years, the weak, the defenseless, the ones that took care of us when we were too young and full of naivete to know safety from danger.

I can remember trying to teach my grandmother to use the ATM. Oh, man. Now THAT was a trip. She just could not trust that some tiny machine in a Chevron station knew how much money was in her account, and I honestly don't think she WANTED that machine to know her business. She believed somewhat that you could trust banks, but she still kept a little money stuffed back in her mattresses. After all, she was a child of the depression, and those lessons would never be unlearned. She grew up appreciating every glimpse of copper penny that flashed through her life, brand new shiny ones or worn out ones, coated with the turquoise patina of human use.

I'm a little bit Lily, also. I will take on the giants and the bullies if there is something that needs to be said or done. I will go to the mat for my family and my employees in a heartbeat, and I won't back down. If someone related to me or that works for me is being mistreated, you can bet your last dime I'll do everything in my power to make sure the situation is rectified. I have a little of Lily's bullheadedness, too. I don't care if the other person on the end of the rope is 10 times my size, I will never show fear. I will fight til the bitter end, if nothing else than out of my desire for everyone to be treated on the same level and treated fairly. I detest an unjust balance, and I'll take my licks trying to rectify whatever wrong has been incurred.

How do I know I'm a little Boomer? Because I give of my time to children. I volunteer at the animal shelter, I have participated in many church activities in my past that were solely for children, I participate in the reading program for PRM, for the illiterate and the sight impaired. You give an hour or two a week and they record you as you read newspapers, circulars, books, magazines, etc for those that are visually impaired or illiterate. I do it to remind me how rich my sight, my literacy, my education, however humble it may be, makes me.

And, lastly, how do I know I'm a little Lily? Because I've made certain people not too crazy about me when I point out how they should be ashamed of themselves for the way they treat children. How they talk down to them, how they don't treat them with respect. I have told teachers and administrators that they should seriously reconsider their chosen professions, because they don't have the kids best interests at heart. I've made enemies over it, trust me. I've told parents and people twice my age that they need to step back and reconsider what they say about the kids that may not be their 'favorite', because God commanded us that children are first and foremost in His eyes, and whomever turns them away from God, and doesn't embrace them with the love of God, will have to answer for it. He commands us to respect and care for our elders. These things are to be taken to heart, to be ingrained in our hearts and minds, not to be taken lightly. They should be second nature to us.

Funny how the non-verbal communication of my two crazy dogs reinforced a lesson of respect, tenderness, compassion, acceptance, and patience that I have heard in numerous Sunday school lessons and sermons.

That's why I'm blogging. To get to know what I know, that I should've already known I knew. Whew.

Boomer can't catch a break from Lily,
she sits on him when he ignores her!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

A friend for all seasons

Mac & Crash, Dec 2009

Mac was always in the pond

Moon, Mark, Stella & Mac-Fall 2005

Sleeping on Moon's bed

His footprint in the snow

The kids got him this for Christmas, 2007

Mac always loved kids. Always.

Moon & Mac, both 4 years old

 I miss my dog. A lot. This doesn't make me special or different from any of the other thousands of people who have lost a pet they cherished as a member of the family. It's just that I find myself still grieving over him, and seeing my children feel his absence so profoundly adds to my sorrow.

We got Mac, a 112 pound golden retriever with eyes the color of melted chocolate about ten years ago. He came to be our dog by a fluke. We lived by Jason's parents, and Jason's dad bought Mac as a puppy. However, when Mac realized we lived right up the street, and we had kids he could play with, and a house where he was welcomed into the air conditioner, he chose to stay with us. Jason's dad always got a kick out of telling me I dog-napped Mac.

There was no portion of our life that didn't include Mac. He went on vacation with us, he sat at our feet during family dinners, he found his way into the hearts of everyone he encountered. He was extremely intelligent, if you asked him, "Mac, where's Moon? Where's the baby?" He would proceed to whatever room she was in, stop at the rooms entrance, and sit and look at you. Telling you, "here she is, I found her. She is fine." He was very kind, loved to play fetch, he adored all kids, and was very friendly, unless you tried to touch one of the kids, any ones kid, that was at our house. If a service man parked anywhere on our street, he would go to the end of the driveway and watch him. He would never bark or cause a stir, he would just sit there to make certain whomever it was didn't come into our driveway. Once the person/service worker left, he would lazily walk back to the house, and assume his position guarding his family.

His face began to turn white, and his eyes started to get that reflective shine you know means cataracts are oncoming. The limp he had since he was a puppy became more pronounced, and he began to lose weight. We took him to the vet several times, trying to do what we could to keep him comfortable as he lived out what we all expected were his last years, plural. No one expected him to be gone so soon.

One Thursday last July we left the house to go to my Dads for dinner. We let Mac & Crash out, and returned about two hours later. I was the first to notice his absence, as he rarely left our yard.  We called, the boys got on their four-wheelers, Jason drove the roads looking for him in his pickup. Moon, myself & my niece Kaylie took flashlights and set out on foot. I contacted people in my community, questioned every neighbor, posted it on my facebook, all to no avail. Hours morphed into days, until that fateful Saturday evening rolled around.

I was at my kitchen counter cleaning when I heard the knock. There had been no bark to warn me that someone was approaching, as Mac had always done. It was my big sister, Melane. She and her oldest daughter, Laken. Melane took me by the hand, and when she looked up at me I could see the tear slowly making its way down her cheek. I remember that moment as clearly as possible. "Trin," she began, "Laken found Mac." "What? That's great! Where is he? Let's go get him!" I exclaimed. "Trin, sweetie, Laken found Mac, but he's, well he's...not alive." "WHAT? What are you saying? That's not true! Don't you come in my house and lie to me about my dog, Melane!" I wanted to punch her. Sock her hard, to inflict the pain on her that she was giving to me. How dare she say something as horrible as this to me? I slipped down the kitchen cabinets, and onto the floor. Melane wrapped her arms around me tightly, as Laken stroked my hair. "Trin, it's okay. Where's Jason? We need to find Jason."

I really can't remember where I found Jake, Mark, Moon & Jason that day. I don't remember what was said. Melane took Jason and showed him where Mac was, and then Jason told me I probably shouldn't go look at him. He wanted to wrap Mac in his blanket and then we would bury him. Jason lightly grasped my wrist and said, "Trin, don't. Let me & the boys get his grave dug, and then we'll place him in it and come get you." I was livid. I was having none of that! I almost spat at him as I began to speak, "Now you listen and you listen good, Jason Curtis Wilson--that is my best friend and I don't care what he looks like, he never turned his back on me and I refuse to do it to him now! I am saying goodbye to him, & nothing on this planet can stop me. Not you, not anyone. Now you can go with me and let's tell him goodbye together, or you can get the hell outta my way."

I gently stroked his left ear, feeling the familiar silkiness of his beautiful golden coat. As I looked at his lifeless body in disbelief, I couldn't say a word. I felt I had to be strong, to give him a proper goodbye.
Jason, Mark, Jake & I picked out a nice spot under a nice shady oak tree. We began to dig, and as the shovels scraped against the earth the realization that we had lost our family member passed through the four of us in an almost palpable manner. Mark stopped digging and grabbed hold of me. "Mom, I can't. I just can't, Mom. This is wrong, this is so so wrong. He was such a good dog, Mom." He began shouting, "Mom I can't put him in the ground! He is my best friend, Mom! WHY MOM WHY??" Jake sat his shovel down and hugged Mark, and began speaking to him in a low voice. "Mark, I understand. It's okay that you can't dig his grave. Let me do it, as a favor to you, you are like my brother & I want to help you."

After we had gently wrapped him up, covered his grave, and put timbers around the perimeter, we all stood there, the surrealness of it all still permeating the air. It was then that my family held hands around our beloved dogs grave, and I began to pray. "Lord, make me more like Mac. He was gentle, loving, forgiving, compassionate, accepting, kind, and he never judged anyone. Lord, give me a spirit more like his, because Mac's behavior was closer to Jesus' when he was on this earth than mine will ever be. Thank you, Lord, that we, of all the families in the universe got to have Mac as part of our family. Help us to not be sad and grieve over him, but to rejoice that we ever knew him. Amen."

It's a pitiful excuse, but I haven't been to his grave much in the last month. It's been the holidays, Mark's surgery, kids exams, Christmas celebrations, and the like. But today I found myself at home alone, and it was a beautiful clear day. I decided I'd go clean up around his grave, wipe off the statue we placed on top of it, maybe say a quick prayer there in the quiet, because to me it is a sacred place.

As I walked to his grave, and got closer, I noticed something red. It looked like someone had set a poinsettia right on the grave. As I approached, what I saw took my breath away. I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn't dreaming. A small oak tree is growing right by his statue. It's leaves are the most beautiful vibrant red, in January when the entire landscape is barren and grey. And as the sunlight streamed in and shone down on his grave I felt my heart begin to heal, and I did say that prayer. I thanked God for giving me a sign, proving what He has always said is really, really true. What matters to His children matters to Him. And as we grieved, so did He grieve, for my family.

Consider the sparrows, my friend. God never changes.

Friday, January 7, 2011

So....I'm a can of Campbells?

I by no means hold myself up as the pinnacle of politically correct decorum & behavior. I make mistakes, I offend people, & I've been known to put my foot in my mouth. I try not to, I try to meter every word before it comes out of my mouth, however some days my social filter just fails to show up for duty. And it doesn't help that my DNA code has "speaks her mind" woven into every single strand.

One thing I have seriously contemplated recently is the way we label one another. Be it strangers, friends, colleagues, family, or even pets. We brand someone based on their behavior and habits, we use our perceptions & opinions, possibly even what we have heard about them, to quantify their behavior, and label them. 

This labeling thing is becoming a pet peeve of mine. Sometimes it can be funny, when spoken in jest, but we all know there is a hint of seriousness every time someone says, "Oh, I didn't mean any harm! I was just joking!!" It especially sets my bones to boiling when someone throws around a serious diagnoses when they don't even know what they're speaking of. In my opinion if you haven't gotten the degree that states you are certified to diagnose someone, then keep your mouth S H U T.

I am guilty of labeling, no doubt. I am not sitting on top of the mountain pointing fingers, looking down my nose at the social cretins. By no means am I innocent of the charge. Until it began to touch me personally, and I reached a level of self actualization that allowed me to see this petty behavior in myself, I went along with the crowd. I didn't see anythig wrong with it. However, a person whom has been a big part of my life has changed my entire perception of labeling, it's unfairness, and how it can deeply emotionally scar someone, especially a child.

Let me tell you about my 'other son' Jacob. He is the son of my oldest friend, Julie & her husband Johnothan. When the boys were not quite two, Julie, Jacob, myself & my son Mark lived together as roommates. We were both broke single moms, going to school during the day and waiting tables @ night, trying to make something of ourselves, talking daily about how we would make our sons proud. Even though they are only a few months apart, Jake & Mark were & still are polar opposites. Jake wanted to watch TV, found extreme comfort in repetition and habit, and did more observing than talking. He was always a fantastic child, so easy to babysit, quiet, and as he grew he could discuss certian subjects with you as if he were an adult. He can quote you more correct football stats than any grown man I have ever encountered. He likes to talk about left brained things. Numbers, figures, angles, planes and statistics. That's just our Jake, that's him.

Jacob went through some trying times, along with his Mom, before he was diagnosed with Aspbergers. (google it). He is extremely smart, it doesn't affect his linguistic patterns or cognitive development, it affects his ability to interact socially. It doesn't mean there is anything wrong with him, it just means that's the way God made our amazing Jacob.

I can remember once when Julie, Jacob, Mark & myself were in Wal Mart together. We were all standing at the checkout, Julie was swiping her debit card. As I mentioned Jacob likes to quote statistics and he & I were talking about baseball. You could tell from the way he was speaking that he was different, more advanced mathematically than toddlers his age. The brainless wal mart cashier stops scanning, wrinkles her nose, and asks, "What is he?" I grabbed Julie's arm, afraid she was going to jump on that converyor belt and beat this insensitive, judgemental idiot senseless. But Julie's reaction shocked me. She shook my hand off her arm, replied steadily and with utmost grace, "Excuse me? Did you just ask me WHAT is he? He is A LITTLE BOY, he is MY SON JACOB." As she spoke, she smiled the smile that only sweet, justifiable victory can bring. We got our bags and left, & we've never spoken of it again, even these 12 or so years later--until today, when I asked her permission to write this blog. She must trust me a lot, to allow me to write about her son and not screw it up. (Thank you for allowing & entrusting me to write about Jake, Julie.)

Recently someone posted as their facebook status, "If you don't think I'm funny, then you
must have Aspbergers." I was livid. When Julie called me, she was so upset, also. In what way was that status cool or likeable? Did this person think they were actually funny????

Jake has no control over the hand life dealt him, yet he has made a great life for himself. He is a good athelete, a good student, and most of all an amazing young man. I LOVE talking to Jacob. You wouldn't even know he has been diagnosed until he tells you. And to see him with his sister, 14 years younger than him, is breathtaking. He has broken down all the typical boundaries & characteristics that normally occur in someone with his diagnoses when it comes to emotional boundaries & empathy. He loves Riley fiercely & will protect her with his life.

There is another incident that occured recently, that definitely reinforced my belief that we should cut back on the labeling. I was sitting around with two good friends, and one of them has been diagnosed as bipolar, but the only person she told was me. The other friend in the conversation had no idea, because the one who has bipolar takes her medicines, sees her doctor, leads a successful life, never been institutionalized, or any other hallmarks of a person who has been diagnosed with a mental illness. One of the girls was steadily talking about people, throwing the terms around loosely. "Oh no that lady is so stupid, she is totally bipolar. She can't do anythig right, she jumps from nice to mean to happy, she's just so crazy she may be tri-polar." I was inwardly cringing as I glanced surreptitiously at my other friend, who had her best game face on. She just smiled, and I changed the subject because I was so uncomfortable for her. Later the friend cried to me about what had been said. She says that's why she can't tell anyone, because everyone uses the term so negatively & is quick to judge you by your diagnoses, rather than your actions. I can see clearly now her point. That's also why I'll never again in my life say someone 'suffers' from a mental illness, and I'll watch my words entirely more closely. We all should, because you never know what's going on in someone else's life, and don't think for a second you can predict your future. You never know what's going to happen in your own life, that you wouldn't want to be categorized unfairly for.

In my opinion, we should all back up and punt when it comes to this labeling thing, because we don't have to do it. If we accepted people with more open mindedness, took more time to form our own opinions, and stop repeatedly compartmentalizing everyone, we could all score touchdowns in our everyday interactions, if we all just call, no accept, one another as what we all are...........human.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

I'm a good daughter, now that I'm a grown up & living on my own!

Why did I ever act like such an adolescent idiot, not believing that my Dad truly had my best interests at heart? I was chasing one fun time to the next, not giving any thought to what the future held, what my parents expected of me, not thinking that our good family name  was also on my shoulders to uphold. I was a teenager, holding out for that teenage feeling.

My Dad has always given me loving advice. Even though he is a man who speaks very little, and uses his words with great economy, he is one of those people who can say more with ten words than most can say in two hundred. And don't even get me started on his facial expressions. If you're lucky enough to have had a 'Daddy' like mine, you know what I mean. He can give you a look that will stop you in your tracks. He was tough, set high standards, and accepted no less than the very best you had to give. My Father was judged many times in my younger days, when he was searching for answers that conventional religions couldn't give him, yet he never waivered in his belief that God loved him, and he firmly knew that God had a church home for him and his family. He was ridiculed for things that were out of his control. He was lied to and about, and swallowed his pride more times than I can count. Now as an adult I can imagine how extremely difficult he must have had it at times, while the five of us were growing up, but you never heard him complain. He knew his place as the head of our family, and he was an exemplary model as a father, a teacher, a preacher, and a loving, compassionate person, whom still to this day gives to strangers of both his time and monetary assets.

What I like to think about sometimes when I am driving are all the things my Dad used to, and still does say to me. What I call my "Daddy quotes" in my mind.

When I was maybe 12 or 13 I went through that awkward adolescent phase that all teens do. I was obsessed with my looks, clothes, & being accepted. I caught my Dad by the arm one day as he was headed out to ride horses with some of his church friends. I began, "Daddy, am I pretty? Daddy, am I a tomboy? Daddy, do I even look like a girl? Daddy, do you think a boy will ever think I'm pretty?" What I now am certain was a rushed time for him, as his buddies were outside waiting, he still took the time to sit down by me and have a talk with me. What he told me was so true, for every woman in every nation. He began in his trademark patient voice, "Trin. You are pretty. You are a beautiful girl, with your long dark hair, sparkly eyes, and constant smile. But, Trin, that's NOT what's important. The thing you need to remember is this, "Pretty is as Pretty does. And I don't want you worried about the wrong type of pretty, baby." Then he hugged me, walked out of the house and went on his trail ride. Not kidding with you, I was totally confused at this seemingly odd tidbit of wisdom at the time he shared it with me. But I got it, eventually. He was saying it doesn't matter if you're Miss America, if you have a mean spirit and an ice cold heart. He was telling me that pretty, or true beauty, rather, comes from the way you treat others. The amount of love, compassion, understanding, forgiveness and patience you give to others. What he meant was, bending down to be in a position of servitude for someone in need makes you a thousand times more prettier than any crown, and it's a lot more fulfilling.

I for years have told Moon this. I also tell her that what counts is the 'diamonds on the inside' she possesses, not the 'things' she has to show off to her friends.

My Dad had a saying that he got from his Dad, my "Papaw BB" that we all still laugh and reminisce about. When you were saying goodbye to BB he'd always say, "Now if it rains, just let it rain." Now that I'm more emotionally mature and wiser to the ways of the world, I know what Papaw BB and my Daddy mean when they said or say that phrase. It's parlaying the message, "Look, don't worry about what you can't control. Rain is going to fall sometimes, and we just have to appreciate that fact. We will see the rainbow, if we are still and wait for the rain to pass."

My Dad used to also talk to me about when I was mad at someone and wanted revenge. He would tell me that God promises us he will get vengeance, in his time. That was, and has been a very hard pill to swallow at times, no matter my age. Dad told me recently that by continuing to plot revenge, a way to 'give someone what they deserve" is a failure to trust that God loves me. Dad taught me that by planning to take things into my own hands, I wasn't believing God nor was I having faith that God would follow through with His promise. When we had this same old revenge discussion recently, we were standing in the horse barn saddling up some geldings. Dad told me what he always has, "a year to you is a second to God.You've got to stop acting like you know better than Him what should happen in this world, His world, that he created, and that He loved you enough to give you a life here, to share in it's miraculous beauty and bounty."

There are a thousand things I could write that my wonderful, amazing father has taught me. About trust, life, love, acceptance, and where to always go when you seek true wisdom from the one whose in control of it all.  He definitely has taught me more about patience than I ever thought my English pea sized brain could handle.

The one I want to leave you with is one of the most recent things he told me, that was one of the most profound things he'd ever shared with me, and touched me to my very core. We were in the barn looking out into the pasture after we'd just let the horses out of their stalls for the evening. I started asking Dad why did he think I only got to have two babies? Why didn't God think I was a good enough Mom to have more kids? That to me it was so unfair that the opportunity got ripped away from me before I even had a chance to protest.

We stopped feeding the horses their apple slice treats, and Dad turned & looked at me very seriously. "Trin, you have Mark & Moon, and I know how you love them. But I also know you've always wanted another baby. Well, Trin, you have had Jake living with yahll about a year now, raising him as your own, practically, right?" I shook my head, "Yes, Daddy, that is all true." "Well," he began, "don't you love Jake the same way you love Mark & Moon?" "Of course, Dad! That's a silly question. I show no partiality between those three! I love Jake very much."  "Well, there you go. God answered your prayer for another child, He just didn't deliver it in the package you were expecting."

Thank you, Father God, for Mark, Moon, & Jake. Thank you so very much. I am sorry I ever doubted your love for me, questioned your desire for us to have another child. Father God, please forgive my impatience. Thank you for trusting me & loving me enough to be in their lives. Amen.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

The Sins of the Mother

I guess if this is going to be a blog of truth and what I really experience, I should dive in with both feet and lay today's transgressions bare, no matter the level of humiliation I will most assuredly endure as I try to parlay my mistakes onto this screen, with this smart aleck blinking cursor taunting me, daring me to muster the strength and brevity it takes to reveal my massive shortcomings, and lay them bare for all to judge. 

Today began as a regular Sunday at our home. The boys, Mark & Jake went to Sunday school and church, and Moon & I hung out and played the Wii, read some to one another, played with the dogs, played some checkers, spent some quality time enjoying one anothers company, as we always do. Moon is my constant companion. We take 'girl road trips', we love to shop, and the majority of the time she is the last person I speak to at night, and the first person I speak to in the morning. Anyone that knows us can attest to how close we are. I walk a chalk line to keep myself above reproach in her eyes, knowing she soaks all my movements and choices up like a veritable sponge, and albeit unconsciously, she patterns herself after me. She struggles to make decisions without knowing what I want her to choose, and I strongly discourage her from that when the situation deems it. You see I want her to celebrate, no revel in her individuality, and not rely on ANYONE to make the choices that are age appropriate for her to make. I want her to be Moon, not a carbon copy who possesses no individuality or zeal for life, a robot who hasn't been programmed to express their own curiosity and wonder at life and this amazing world.

Before you start thinking it....let me add: I love my boys with this same ferocity, but it's a different caliber, if you will. They are older, less dependent on me, and to add to that they listen to Jason's opinion much more than mine, there being that whole Y chromosome craziness thrown in the mix, you see.

As the day progressed & afternoon turned into evening, I began to think of the looming 'return to school and work' that will occur tomorrow. I began to get a little stressed. We dug for her backpack, unpacked the Christmas party items that have been in there for a few weeks, and started to prep for tomorrow as a regular school day. As children will do, Moon began to whine. I was already pretty tense over an intensely personal decision I needed to make, a decision whose finality would close a door that I've kept propped up a tiny bit for the last four years, and that decision was weighing heavy on my mind. I was trying to keep it all together, as mom's do, and get everything taken care of for the kids & myself. As nighttime progressively fell, I found myself consulting my best friends Michele & Julie as to what I should do about the personal things in my life. And as always, the angels that they are, they totally came through. Michele was here physically to help me talk through what the pros and cons of my decision were, and Julie was here via phone, seeing as how she lives 500 miles away she can still help me, and it's just like she's sitting right here beside me...I wish she were closer so she could just slap some sense into me sometimes, though. But I definitely couldn't make it without my women friends.

Anyway, back to my stress level and poor parenting. Let me set the stage for you....Moon has a young puppy named Lily that is not fully house broken. I know I told Moon five different times today that she must help me train this puppy. I was running around the house, trying to find jackets and gloves and answer questions and feed teenagers with their voracious appetites, thinking in the back of my mind what an uphill battle the return to work will be tomorrow, are there any bills I need to pay? Wait, I have a doctors appointment first thing in the morning, Jake & Mark are sitting in the recliners calling out, "Hey don't forget we need a full tank of gas! And we need $80 for church next weekend! And I need some bullets for my rifle! And Mom will you cook a brisket tomorrow night? Mom we don't have any milk or bread....I can't eat cereal! Mom you forgot milk?"

Right about this time the aforementioned puppy, Lily, decides it's a GRAND idea to relieve herself on my ivory colored bedroom carpet, just as I step out of the bedroom, and straight into her puppy urine. Lily looks at me over her shoulder as if to say, "yeah, I did it! What are you gonna do about it?" And begins to march all 3 prissy pounds of her spotted self out of my bedroom. (I really believe that dog was thinking that!)

It was at that precise moment that normally cool Trin who never screams, always says angel, baby, yes honey, and acquiesces to my children's reasonable requests, that I SNAPPED. When I say snapped, I mean i had a meltdown of nuclear proportions.

I grabbed Lily up, marched into the living room where Mark & Jake were still in the recliners completely absorbed in Axe Men or some other Mike Rowe show, Moon's playing in the kitchen sink, and to add insult to embarrassment my bff Michele was sitting in the kitchen burning some music cd's, so she was a witness to my craziness also.


It didn't really faze the boys. But I sent Moon into orbit. She started squalling. Seriously. No crocodile tears, this was the real thing. When I looked into her eyes I realized I had earnestly frightened her, and I instantly hated myself for it.

I went to my bathroom, shut the door and started dialing Big. Never mind he's hundreds of miles away, probably exhausted to the bone, with total crap cell service. I needed to hear Big's voice, to hear him say I wasn't the devil in a mommy suit, because he knows me better than anyone. I said something like, "Baby I was mean to Moon (sniff sniff) I yelled at her I am the devil I am (snuffle) a terrible horrible awful person! I scared her I scared her dog what was i thinking (hiccup) when did I turn into this kind of crazy psychotic mom????"
I was crying like a baby. I could not believe I had done that to my daughter, my precious angel Moon, and I felt lower than an earthworm.

Big talked me down. Reminded me that I am human, and that as far as sins of the mother this was a minor transgression. He is so wise, even if he is my soul mate & I'm prejudice. He began in his comforting, 'i love trin' voice. "Trin, listen to me. Stop crying right now. Do you need me to come home? Baby, you are normal. People crack under much slighter stressors. Moon will be fine, do you hear me? Do you get what I'm saying? She will be okay. Now go get her, hug her tight, and you and her snuggle, pop some popcorn, and watch some TV. Trin you've got to realize that if you asked the majority of children, they'd tell you that just having their parents yell at them once would be a walk in the park. Now go be the Mom I KNOW you are."

I sat down with all the kids, separately. I cried and told them how ashamed I was of myself, that even grown ups make mistakes. That it didn't excuse my behavior, but admitting your mistakes was what really counted. I told them I didn't love them any less, but that they all needed to start contributing more around the house. Everyone was fine, once I promised Moon I was NOT going to make Lily live outdoors.

What I realize now, after I've tucked them all into bed with night kisses & hugs, (yes even the teenagers need hugs) is this: I was worried and focused on the wrong thing. I was embarrassed, ashamed, and full of self loathing because I felt I let the kids down by yelling. But the way I really messed up as a parent was by trying to set an example of being a 'perfect' parent 24/7. Nobody can do that. Nobody. What right have I to teach my kids that they have to walk on eggshells, and worry continuously that they're going to let their kids down? Wasn't I letting my kids down by doing just that? Trying to be too perfect???

I struggle every day to keep a fair and just balance for my children. Juggling work, personal commitments, professional commitments, giving attention to my marriage and my husband, my extended family, and lastly myself. I've got a long way to go to even reach the midway point, but my going postal tonight sure did bring me to a more enlightened place where I realize being the best parent I can be will sometimes entail being a lot less than a perfect one.

And I'm a-okay with that.

It's definitely the "Happy" everyone keeps throwing around that scares me the most!

I'll be the first to say I'm a creature of habit. I relish coming home to put on Big's worn out, perfectly broken in LSU tees, pj bottoms, sit down to a family dinner & catch up with the family. I'm like an impatient 2 year old... I want my same old dunkin donuts coffee every morning, the crazed rush to work and school, the "I love yous!" and "do you have your lunch money?" exclamations spoken hurriedly as I usher the kids out the door. I want my kids to be home safe when they're expected to, my dogs to come running when I pull in the drive, to hear from my husband at a certain time every night when he's on the road; and I look forward to my two best friends touching base with me at some time every day. I don't like a lot of surprises (gifts excluded, naturally) and I most assuredly don't handle shocks to the system well. I guess that's why 2010 was such a crap-hole (is that even a word? It is now!) of a year for me. I've been of the school of thought that I should toughen up, and not let all this out. Oh, well. That proverbial ship has sailed.

Change is hard. I should know.

All the "Happy New Years!" I'm enthusiastically greeted with are kind of creeping me out. Yes, I know people mean well. But why put all that added pressure on what I am already attempting to make a happier year? Get off my back, folks!

I hate to be the 'negative nelly' bearer of the cold hard truth, but it's my current conviction. I would be lesser of a person if I weren't honest. The cold hard truth is, it's not all going to be a 'happy' most assuredly will not be 8,760 hours of pure unadulterated bliss.

What we call 'life' is going to happen. The inevitable. We try to push it away, keep the wolves at bay, but everyone of us will be touched by some not so happy times in 2011.  You will have the wind knocked out of your sails, you will experience heartache at some level, you will learn secrets you wish had remained buried. You will say goodbye to a person, a pet, a place, perhaps even a thing...and it will change you forever.

Does that mean that 2011 will be another year for the crapper record books? It depends on the individual. I'm not going to give you any of that "lemons=lemonade swill" because frankly I don't want to be told that. What I will give, free of course, (and keep in mind you get what you pay for) is how I have handled and am going to handle this blank slate, or tabula rasa, of days yet to be seen.

I keep saying I'm not going to make a true new years resolution, that I'm just going to let whatever happens happen. But I can't do that. I've got to be proactive. I've got to take the bull by the horns and realize that my reaction to what life throws at me is even more significant than what I am going through. That my attitude will be my best friend or my worst enemy, and only I can control it. Only me. It will not be easy, fair, or fun at all times. But whoever believes that life is roses, green grass, fairies and rainbows 24/7 is  probably on some seriously heavy medication.

What can I do? What can we all do? Simple. We've just got to keep going. If you have something or like myself, multiple things, you seriously need to just let go once and for all, then there is no time like the present. Maybe you can have some kind of ceremony, maybe do a visualization exercise, maybe see a shrink, go to whatever support it is where you know you can share your burdens and not feel pitied or condemmed. It's not up to me or anyone else to tell you the exact thing that is best for you, because nobody appointed me or any other human judge or general manager of the universe.

What else can we put into practice? Aside from the socially acceptable manners of finding solace, such as calling your most trusted confidant, genuinely telling your parents what's going on with you, having a good cry-fest, doing something to distract yourself like reading, watching a movie, or playing with your kids.

Although it's extremely private and almost painful to share, I'll tell you what I've done and what I will continue to do, when life and all it's ills are pressing down on me so hard I feel the breath being pressed out of me. I did, and do practice all the things I have mentioned prior. But I also sat down one day and wrote this little list on a scratch piece of paper...of things that I loved the most about the person & pet I lost in 2010, and my top three happiest times I shared with them. It's elementary, I know. But it sure helped me to focus when I thought I couldn't find one single reason to smile, much less wish others happiness. 

Perhaps what helps me will help you a little also, as we face this new year, we can fill it with positivity or mire it down with the negative.

I guess now I've figured out my new years resolution, after all. I will do everything in my humble, metered power to look at the 'happy' as just that. Happy.

The first Blog is the cheapest....

Here I am, beginning my first serious attempt at continuous, steady blogging on the first day of 2011. It's an experiment for myself, more or less. Going to try to see if, through writing, I am able to make more sense out of what goes on as our crazy planet spins, perhaps some of you can help me in this trip. I love and welcome all comments, critiques, but no whining!

Let me 'introduce' you to one of the supporters/freaks Julie, as she is the main reason I am making a 'serious' attempt @ blogging...I feel compelled to mention her, as she is my oldest friend (still living) and she is the strongest supporter of my writing. She has encouraged me to take myself more seriously as a writer, since the moment she started reading my journals about 13 years ago. (Trust me, if you suck at something, she's the FIRST to let ya know...and I feel very secure that the rest of our 'gang' will back me up on this assessment!)

I feel compelled to basically share a bit of my history and the 'list of characters' that will be making regular appearances in this chronicling of my every day mundane existence.

(1) My Jason a/k/a "Big", he travels a great deal for work, he's 6 1/2 feet tall, has the purest cornflower blue eyes you've ever seen, and the patience of Job. Seriously. He's married to me, the queen of quirks, so his #1 requirement as husband is having this amount of patience that will guarantee him a level of sainthood one day. He's seriously the funniest person I've ever encountered, a little bit to the right of crazy & one hell of an amazing father.

(2) Jake-he's 19, and he's our 'son.' He came to live with us almost a year ago, and he is amazing. He's in his junior year now, a great athlete, and the kindest, most grateful human on this planet. (The world could learn compassion & gratitude from this kid.)

(3) Mark-our 14 year old son, he was born an old soul. He favors me, with his dark hair and eyes, but that's where the similarities end. He's methodical, organized, compassionate, plodding to a fault, extremely intelligent, athletic & very outdoorsy.

(3)Moon-our daughter, who in no way resembles me physically, but has my loopy personality ingrained in her bones. She's quick witted, has no social filter, and yes sometimes I cringe when she opens her mouth in public, but I wouldn't trade her for a quiet kid for any amount of money in the world.

(4) My BFF--Julie-lives entirely too far away, FLORIDA to be exact, (and truth be told,  I'm still a little pissed at her for moving, and her husband Johnathan, for stealing her away from me, no matter how fantastic he treats her!)

(5)My BFF, Michele-we were friends as kids, grew up, grew apart, but now she lives about a mile away and buddy does she help me seriously make it through the days!!!

~Jake on the left, Moon, & Mark~
There are so many others, way to many to mention, but we'll get around to it. After all, we have 364 more days to chronicle!!