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My Diary, Your Story.
"...nine... ten...eleven. All safe and sound." I have finished my daily head count on the baby ducks at the pond on Main Street. Behind a row of Victorian homes that are now office space, the landlord maintains a lovely flower garden, a few gazebos and some small ponds. Several weeks ago, he imported some ducklings to help repopulate the area. I have been visiting this spot for 3 years and in that time I had only ever seen the same 4-5 adult ducks but just this summer he added the new babies, 2 turtles and a rabbit hutch.
There are signs all over town encouraging people to come and see the babies and I stop by every day. At least 3 people have taken it upon themselves to share the story of what happened to the "other ducks." Apparently, 4 years ago and before my time, a fox got into the fenced animal area and killed all but one of the big white ducks. That lone survivor, covered in scars, has now been keeping close to the babies and parenting them while 3 other adult ducks (who came from the landlords own yard after the attack) keep their distance. That story gives me chills, and I have heard it over and over again with varying levels of gruesome detail. While I am glad for the new life and the survivor's renewed interest in life as a duck parent it begs the question..._WHY would a person think it is a good idea to tell someone who is clearly enjoying admiring the ducklings that horrible story?_
It's not like I asked about it. These people sought me out and charged right in with the account of the fox's feast unsolicited. I am usually on a bench with coffee and my laptop and minding my own business. It reminds me of Ellen, my neighbor who is sure her divorce was far worse than any marital issue I may have and never misses and opportunity to tell me so. I don't even know her last name and have never set foot in her home but she felts she knew me well enough to guess about my situation (Where's Matt been lately?) and try to scare me with her horror story. The there is Randy's Mom, who is always telling me how lucky I am that Max got his act together because her son is out on the streets/in jail/insert "other drug related tragedy" here.
I suppose all that would be fine, had I ever mentioned to Ellen or Randy's Mom a single word about what is going on with me, Matt or Max. My marriage is not as bad as some think, and Max, well he is probably not doing as well he appears. How is it that they think they know otherwise about it, or anything at all about my family? Have I been naïve to think that by keeping to myself my private life will stay private...or at least that others would have the good sense not to speculate, fill in the blanks or openly comment on it?
Many years ago my grandfather told me something that I carried with me as truth until very recently. He told me, "No one would worry much about what others think of them if they knew how rarely people actually think of anyone but themselves." After hearing about the fox, the divorce and the parenting woes of near-strangers I began to doubt him. Surely these people were thinking about me a lot, concerned with my attachment to the ducklings or trying to show me how much worse things could be for me. Right? Why else would they stop and share?
Today I watch the survivor duck, fussing over the babies that are not his (or hers?) and I swear I hear laughter in the quacks and clucks emerging from his chipped beak. He isn't worried about any fox. That is his history, not the ducklings. He is "over" whatever he saw in those attacks. Sad for his losses perhaps, but smart enough to seize the new opportunity for a lively pond that is before him. He is happy for the ducklings and happy to be part of the life they will have. I suspect he will never share the fox story with any of them...they don't need to know it and he doesn't need to relive it. For some reason, people around me do have things they need to relive, things they are not "over." They use what they think they know about me to do so. Maybe it helps them heal; maybe it allows them to wallow in their hurt. Whatever the reason is, it is not because they are thinking or worrying about me at all.
My grandfather was right after all. These people don't take the time to ask how I am or get their facts straight because their remarks are not about me at all. Those who take the time to learn and care don't waste time comparing wounds. They let me sit and watch the world as I need to see it for a while, and make my own decisions about what to do now. So starting today I'll tune those self absorbed folks out and clear a path for reconciliation, recovery and healing however I see fit.
See the photo of took of the ducklings last week here: http://tuesdaylarken.com/?p=297
"Here, let me help you with that." he said gently. Despite his soothing tone I felt the ladder jostle as I jumped from the realization that someone was on my porch. I looked down from my perch on the top rung and saw a tall, fit, gray-haired gentlemen that I didn't really know reaching out his hand to guide me down. There was something familiar about him. Once my feet where on the ground I figured it out. The small black car with the "Antonio's" sign on it pulled over in front of the house gave it away. Of course, he was from Antonio's! The owner of the pizza place down the street had seen me on the ladder trimming tree branches and stopped to help me. Sure that makes sense.
Ummm wait, no it doesn't make any sense at all. People don't do stuff like that for people they barely know. Do they?
WHY did the man from Antonio's feel like he had to stop to help me? I was doing okay, I thought. I didn't love being on the top rung of the ladder that was balanced between two steps on the porch but I was doing okay. Wasn't I? The contractor was coming to repaint the porch roof tomorrow and he'd need these branches out of his way. I bought brand new clippers. I wore safety goggles. I was determined not to pay strangers to do all the work around the house, surely I could manage the simpler stuff. Couldn't I?
Apparently not. As Mr. Antonio's (I never asked his name) took over for me, he told me how uneasy I'd looked up there. He has delivered food to our house a few times, but more often my husband and I meet there after Matt goes to the gym for salads and grilled chicken. "Always running to the gym, that husband of yours." he commented. “I go by here 10 times a day on deliveries and see you out here all the time...mowing, painting trimming, weeding and walking dogs. Seems like he could get his workout here, no?"
That was a good point. We live in an old restored Victorian home that is never quite restored enough. There is always something to do, some chore we are behind on. Except it isn't "we" anymore. Matt moved out 2 months ago. It turns out the gym was not the only place he was running off to so frequently. In the last 6 months, I suspect he'd barely been to the gym at all. He was working up a sweat all right but not at any gym and not here with me either. He had not admitted to anything but I trusted my instinct that his new workout was the kind of thing that warranted a wife throw a husband out...and he obliged with the idea that it was just to allow some time and space to sort things out. And since it was my idea for him to go I was damn sure not going to ask him back for help around the house.
"That should do it." Mr. Antonio said, his words snapping me out of deep thought. "Can't trim much more without making it lopsided. As long as no branches touch the roof, you're good. I'm afraid I am going to have to ask you to stay off ladders, though. You were white as a sheet up there! I don't want to drive by next time and find you on the ground with a broken leg."
With his last remark the embarrassment sets in. I don't think to ask his name or even offer him a drink or pledge my lifelong pizza business to his small shop. I muster a thank you and he is gone before I really consider what has just happened. It is to be the first of many wake-up calls and the first of many friends and acquaintances pointing out things about Matt and our life that I didn't notice. Pointing out the enormity of staying alone in this huge house and trying to keep up a life built for two by myself. There will be things that are so much worse that I’d suspected and things that are much better, too.
These people will shape my decisions with this new information and I'll spend countless hours wondering if things could have been different if only they'd shared it sooner.
For those of you wondering where I've been lately, there is some not-so-subtle foreshadowing of what's been going on for you. I think it's time I starting reaching out to those who have my best interest at heart and those who have the experience and compassion to really help me sort this all out...the women of Fab40 of course! I'll be back with a new entry in no time. Hope to see you all back and visiting with me regularly again.
Wish I could take credit for authoring this one...but today I am just sharing it. Personally speaking, number 11 is my favorite and I am completing my list with an added 16th thing to give up: instant availability...a.k.a managing relationships through texting!
I hope you enjoy it and take something useful from it. If you do, please share it with someone else who wants to be happy, too:
15 Things You Should Give Up To Be Happy
Here is a list of 15 things which, if you give up on them, will make your life a lot easier and much, much happier. We hold on to so many things that cause us a great deal of pain, stress and suffering – and instead of letting them all go, instead of allowing ourselves to be stress free and happy – we cling on to them. Not anymore. Starting today we will give up on all those things that no longer serve us, and we will embrace change. Ready? Here we go:
1. Give up your need to always be right. There are so many of us who can't stand the idea of being wrong – wanting to always be right – even at the risk of ending great relationships or causing a great deal of stress and pain, for us and for others. It's just not worth it. Whenever you feel the 'urgent' need to jump into a fight over who is right and who is wrong, ask yourself this question: "Would I rather be right, or would I rather be kind?" Wayne Dyer. What difference will that make? Is your ego really that big?
2. Give up your need for control. Be willing to give up your need to always control everything that happens to you and around you – situations, events, people, etc. Whether they are loved ones, coworkers, or just strangers you meet on the street – just allow them to be. Allow everything and everyone to be just as they are and you will see how much better will that make you feel.
"By letting it go it all gets done. The world is won by those who let it go. But when you try and try. The world is beyond winning." Lao Tzu
3. Give up on blame. Give up on your need to blame others for what you have or don't have, for what you feel or don't feel. Stop giving your powers away and start taking responsibility for your life.
4. Give up your self-defeating self-talk. Oh my. How many people are hurting themselves because of their negative, polluted and repetitive self-defeating mindset? Don't believe everything that your mind is telling you – especially if it's negative and self-defeating. You are better than that.
"The mind is a superb instrument if used rightly. Used wrongly, however, it becomes very destructive." Eckhart Tolle
5. Give up your limiting beliefs about what you can or cannot do, about what is possible or impossible. From now on, you are no longer going to allow your limiting beliefs to keep you stuck in the wrong place. Spread your wings and fly!
"A belief is not an idea held by the mind, it is an idea that holds the mind" Elly Roselle
6. Give up complaining. Give up your constant need to complain about those many, many, maaany things – people, situations, events that make you unhappy, sad and depressed. Nobody can make you unhappy, no situation can make you sad or miserable unless you allow it to. It's not the situation that triggers those feelings in you, but how you choose to look at it. Never underestimate the power of positive thinking.
7. Give up the luxury of criticism. Give up your need to criticize things, events or people that are different than you. We are all different, yet we are all the same. We all want to be happy, we all want to love and be loved and we all want to be understood. We all want something, and something is wished by us all.
8. Give up your need to impress others. Stop trying so hard to be something that you're not just to make others like you. It doesn't work this way. The moment you stop trying so hard to be something that you're not, the moment you take of all your masks, the moment you accept and embrace the real you, you will find people will be drawn to you, effortlessly.
9. Give up your resistance to change. Change is good. Change will help you move from A to B. Change will help you make improvements in your life and also the lives of those around you. Follow your bliss, embrace change – don't resist it.
"Follow your bliss and the universe will open doors for you where there were only walls" Joseph Campbell
10. Give up labels. Stop labeling those things, people or events that you don't understand as being weird or different and try opening your mind, little by little. Minds only work when open. "The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don't know anything about." Wayne Dyer
11. Give up on your fears. Fear is just an illusion, it doesn't exist – you created it. It's all in your mind. Correct the inside and the outside will fall into place.
"The only thing we have to fear, is fear itself." Franklin D. Roosevelt
12. Give up your excuses. Send them packing and tell them they're fired. You no longer need them. A lot of times we limit ourselves because of the many excuses we use. Instead of growing and working on improving ourselves and our lives, we get stuck, lying to ourselves, using all kind of excuses – excuses that 99.9% of the time are not even real.
13. Give up the past. I know, I know. It's hard. Especially when the past looks so much better than the present and the future looks so frightening, but you have to take into consideration the fact that the present moment is all you have and all you will ever have. The past you are now longing for – the past that you are now dreaming about – was ignored by you when it was present. Stop deluding yourself. Be present in everything you do and enjoy life. After all life is a journey not a destination. Have a clear vision for the future, prepare yourself, but always be present in the now.
14. Give up attachment. This is a concept that, for most of us is so hard to grasp and I have to tell you that it was for me too, (it still is) but it's not something impossible. You get better and better at with time and practice. The moment you detach yourself from all things, (and that doesn't mean you give up your love for them – because love and attachment have nothing to do with one another, attachment comes from a place of fear, while love... well, real love is pure, kind, and self less, where there is love there can't be fear, and because of that, attachment and love cannot coexist) you become so peaceful, so tolerant, so kind, and so serene. You will get to a place where you will be able to understand all things without even trying. A state beyond words.
15. Give up living your life to other people's expectations. Way too many people are living a life that is not theirs to live. They live their lives according to what others think is best for them, they live their lives according to what their parents think is best for them, to what their friends, their enemies and their teachers, their government and the media think is best for them. They ignore their inner voice, that inner calling. They are so busy with pleasing everybody, with living up to other people's expectations, that they lose control over their lives. They forget what makes them happy, what they want, what they need....and eventually they forget about themselves. You have one life – this one right now – you must live it, own it, and especially don't let other people's opinions distract you from your path.
Today we have a guest post from our very own MelissaBelle. This is the kind of thing she can't always post on her own page...
Today I'll take the banner down. Traditionally in my household, if it is your birthday you get a cake and a Happy Birthday Banner hung in the kitchen. The banner often hangs for a week or more, and my son's 21st birthday was last week.
No matter how busy things are or what (if any) other kind of celebration is planned everyone in my house (adults and children) always gets a cake and the banner. That is, unless you are me. In 21 years no one has ever hung it for me. They've never made a cake either, or bought one even unless it we happen to be out in a restaurant for a milestone birthday or something like that.
I keep the banner in the kitchen cabinet all year long, next to a box of cake candles. Anytime anyone gets a plate, they can easily see it there. Yet they have never hung it for me. This past year, more than any other, I knew I had no chance of anyone thinking to do it for me. I hung it for myself for the first time. No one even noticed.
I had already decided when I hung it last week that I'd be retiring it soon. Today when I take it down, I will put it straight in the trash. Now I will never have to wake up on my birthday and wonder if it might be out there waiting for me. I'll know beyond a shadow of a doubt I'll never see it again but at least this time I can feel like it was my decision.
that life can strike you with the toughest blow and no matter how far down it knocks you the Fab ladies are there to help you up. If you don’t get online, they call, they text, they email and they don't give up on you even when you give up on yourself.
Everything in my world is going well because that is how I am written. Things aren’t always so good for my author MelissaBelle. I was meant to represent hope and she had no idea how hopeless things were going to get for her when we began together. I was a meant to be the story of what can be learned from everyone here just when she thought the toughest part was over. Then it got worse and she really did not know what to do with me so we’ve been quiet.
Many thanks to all our Fab friends for keeping in touch with both of us these last few months. We are back at the keyboard and proceeding with caution. As MelissaBelle’s story unfolds she’ll find a way to tell it and what’s been learned along the way. It won't matter what voice she uses. All that matters is that this place is full of good listeners, great advice and real friendship.
Happy New Year, everyone. Talk to you soon.
I have never cooked a Thanksgiving meal. Not a real one, anyway. There was a year a very long time ago when both kids had the flu, so I rustled up a turkey dinner for two while Matt and I nursed them in our small apartment. I seem to recall a dry turkey, canned gravy and stuffing and mashed potatoes from a box and no appetite after cleaning up after sick kids anyway. Oh and there was about 2 months of leftovers that we all got sick of no matter how well I souped, stewed or sandwiched them.
This year is going to be different. We turned down all dinner invitations. We'll show up to see the in laws and bring the pie, but dinner is all mine. All ours, really. I have been studying menus and cookbooks and practicing my knife skills and while I don't feel ready for guests just yet, our private menu will be:
Roasted butternut squash soup
Honey brined turkey breast
Caramel apple pie
It is going to be a team effort. It is going to take all day and totally destroy the kitchen. It is going to be the first time all four of us are all together in almost a year. Lily is in charge of the relish, the soup and the pie, all of which can be done ahead, and we are all on sous-chef duty to assist. Matt is doing the brine a day ahead and handling all things "bird." Max and I will work together on the dressing, potatoes and veggies as the bird cooks and Lily does a stint at the local soup kitchen.
I don't know why I didn't think of this sooner. Holidays are supposed to be family time. How is it I forgot that "family" can be just the four of us? That we can have a special occasion without leaving home? We don't have to traipse to someone else's home or alternate "sides." There is nothing wrong with declaring one holiday just for the immediate and not extended family. It is easy to lose sight of the value of the family under our own roof (well, except for Max who has his own place now) each and every day. We don't need a holiday to come together and do something like cooking but if that is what it takes we can't let the opportunity pass.
My family started 2011 in a complete spinout. Everyone was lost in their own pain. It was the stuff of soap operas around here for a while; addiction, affairs, medical issues and death. I want to say it was sudden but I think it was a slow build and we missed all the signs. We all went looking for relief in opposite directions. Not only did we not find relief, we hurt one another in the process.
Somehow we all got back here on our own but it will take some close attention for us to stay here. In the meantime, I am thankful for what we have together today. We should not have needed to go through what we did, the way we did, to get here so I won't be trite and say "maybe that was what we needed to get here..." Bullsh**. It all could have been avoided. Instead I'll just recognize a near miss when I see one and be thankful for another chance.
I am also grateful for all of you who stop by and read and talk with me. I could not have gotten through this last year without you. Thank you. Happy Thanksgiving, friends!