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2 posts from January 2011

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Another Year Together


Yesterday, Big Bear and I celebrated our 18th Anniversary, and I love him more today than I did the day I married him.  We've spent a lot of time together in our home this past year.  Big Bear searches for work every day for hours on end, and makes calls and networks while I work on the house, take care of the children, help them with their schoolwork, do laundry, and work on this blog - you know, normal stuff for a stay-at-home mom. 

You'd think that with this much togetherness, that we'd get on each other's nerves; but, I have to say that we work hard - together - to make each day as positive and as normal as possible for the children and each other under the circumstances. We make a great team.

I am truly blessed.  Big Bear has single-handedly juggled all the bills, the cooking, and the grocery shopping himself.  He enjoys those things and boy am I grateful.  He doesn't complain.  At least not very much anyway.  He's just not that way.  BB has always been positive, spirited, and in tune to what is going on with all of us.  I have to say that it is the rare man who takes such good care of his family with as much love and devotion as my Big Bear. 

Wedding Picture

In the "Sound of Music" Maria sings to the Captain just after he proposes his love ...

Perhaps I had a wicked childhood
Perhaps I had a miserable youth
But somwhere in my wicked, miserable past
There must have been a moment of truth

For here you are, standing there, loving me
Whether or not you should
So somewhere in my youth or childhood
I must have done something good

Nothing comes from nothing
Nothing ever could
So somewhere in my youth or childhood
I must have done something good

I feel a strong connection to these lyrics and this song.  Maybe because elements of my past, my childhood, my wicked teenage years, and my early adult life were wrought with being a bad girl, insecure, indecisive, and naive to say the least.  I made mistakes - or at least for many who look upon my past would think so, but I believe that amongst the roller coaster of my life, there was always a glimmer of good.

I would not take back anything or change a thing.  Nothing.  Not even the wicked part. Why you ask?  Because if I was able to change my past, walk away from troublesome relationships before I put trust in them and myself, I would never have had Kathleen or Kimberly, and then there would be no Glen or Reagan.  I'd not have the blessings that surround me each and every day. 

Sure, I'd have different blessings, but different isn't always better, and as I look upon my life, my children, my grandchildren, my mother, my brothers, my dear friends, and my husband, I want to fall to my knees in prayer and thank the goodness of the Lord for sending me on this path.  He has never given me more than I can handle in this life despite how many times I thought I couldn't do it anymore.  There have been times I was so frightened for my future that I wanted to crumble.  But now, now I look upon my past and want to tell my youthful self that it is all going to be alright.


I recall, just before I graduated from high school, riding the bus to school.  And, as we were pulling up in front of the school and I was staring out the window in my own world, I remember vividly thinking "I wonder, when I am 50 years old, where I will live?  Who will be my husband?  Will I be married?  Will I have children?  Will I be happy?  What will I be doing with my life?"  I also recall thinking, as I picked up my books to get off the bus, how that day seemed a lifetime away.


Little did I know that the man who would change my life.  The man who would be the love of my life, was getting off the school bus ahead of mine, laughing and talking to his geeky friends, in love with a friend of mine, and never noticing me.  I didn't notice him either for that matter.  I mean, I knew Bob.  He was tall and had long legs and was a big guy.  His mother worked with my father in politics.  He was in several classes with me.  He seemed smart and nice.  We usually said "hello" and that was it.  But I was not interested in him in the least, nor him in me.  I had my sights on other guys in other places.  Little did I know that my love was right next to me the whole time.


Funny how life is.  Mine came full circle you might say.  But, if Big Bear and I had dated in high school, and married, there is no guarantee that we would have been happy.  I'm sure we would have been miserable.  I needed the baggage and the brick upside the head in my youth to be the mother and wife I am today.  I needed the hard life lessons to become firmly grounded.  I needed time, troubles and all, to grow and mature before I was able to be someone special for someone else.


I look at my daughter, Sarah, her life, and I am so impressed.  I actually look up to my youngest daughter.  She is devoted to her studies and gets A's & B's.  She has a boyfriend who we all admire and respect.  He's a good young man and very devoted and respectful of Sarah too.  Everything that a parent could hope for in a relationship for their daughter is wrapped up in Walker (at least for right now).  We hope that it lasts as long as they hope it to be.  Parents never want their daughters or sons to suffer a broken heart or get hurt.  Yes, I look up to Sarah.  She is everything I wish I had been when I was in high school and more.  A shining star.  And in just a few weeks, she will be 17.  Where did the years go?


If I reflect on Kathleen's life, as difficult as it has been for her and for me too, I sure do love her and I am very proud of her.  She is strong and fearless.  Capable and beautiful.  Articulate and Intelligent.  No, she has not always used her best effort to improve the course of her life, and she doesn't always use her best judgment either, (who does that sound like?  Me, of course!) but that is her decision and she has to walk her own rocky road without my interference. Still, I know she will come through these difficult years stronger and more beautiful of spirit.  I have faith in Kathleen.  It's just taking her a little longer to find stability and security and create a family of her own.  But when she does finally reach her goals and her life path, I know that she will be remarkable.  That's just the way Kathleen is - remarkable.


If I reflect on Kimberly, I see a life amassed with heartache and heart surgery.  I see the most beautiful blue eyes and the window to her soul is funny, strong, and gloriously adorable.  I see myself in Kimberly in so many ways.  The good things.  She is funny, intelligent, beautiful, and loves being a wife and mother  (if I may say so myself :) She is completely devoted to her husband, her daughter, and her entire family.  She loves to clean and organize, she loves to share her life as a mother with me nearly every day as I do with my own mother.  Kimberly has wrapped her soul with the beautiful experience of maternal love.  A love so deep and so pure it could move mountains.


Kimberly married a wonderful guy in 2007.  They love and adore each other.  They are great parents and savor every moment they can with their precious baby girl, Reagan.  I sit back and watch them make memories that will last a lifetime and I smile, for I know together they will lasso the moon.


I have 3 wonderful daughters and 1 magnificent son - Matthew.  He is so much like his Dad.  They spend a lot of father-son time together and enjoy it too.  I am so blessed to have a son who is smart, funny, and a good boy (even though he is a teenager and the hard years are just around the corner).  I think Matthew is going to ride right through the teenage years and high school without a scratch. He's a tough little guy with a big heart.  My Bear Cub.


Then there's Glen.  My grandson whom we've been raising since he was 2 weeks old.  With all his challenges (Glen has Asperger's), he is absolutely the most delightful, sweet natured little boy ever.  He's a real trooper, and smart as a whip.  I can't imagine what my life would be like without him.  Not nearly as wonderful as it is with him in my life.


But, with Glen, I've learned something important about parenting.  I've discovered that as a parent, if we really try to get to know our children - how they think, what they love to do, what they enjoy doing, how they learn, how they play, who their friends are, and so much more, that we can help our children move mountains.  Parents need to take an active roll in their children's lives.  I believe that many parents sit back and let their child (or their children) just do their own thing.  We should all be completely involved in our children's lives.  They need to know we love them and we care, even when tough decisions and discipline kick in.  Still, I think Glen will be exceedingly successful.  I'm convinced of it.


Yep, Bob aka Big Bear, is my rock.  He has firmly rooted our family like a father oak.  For 18 years, through the ups and downs and the roller coaster of our marriage, we are stronger and more in love than ever before.  We are each other's best friend. 


I hope that in your life, wherever you may be in your life, that you are happy, secure, and blessed.  I hope that as you take your own journey, that you recognize the little things that make up the blessings.  I hope that someday, you can look back on your life with humility, able to admit your failings, and having learned many things along the way.  And, that even though these lessons may come with making errors of judgment, I know you will see the blessings, the seeds of hope, that were planted along the way.


I wouldn't take back not one day.  Even the tough, heartwrenching days of past were filled with hope and love and lessons. 

So, to my hubby, I love you with all my heart.  Thank you for 18 years of walking side-by-side with me.  Better hold on, for another 18 years are just around the corner.  Happy Anniversary Darling.  I am so proud to be your loving wife.

Thank you to my readers, for taking time from your day to read my stories and share in my life.  Writing it down is cathartic to me.  I am so glad I have a home here on the web where I can share my stories, my thoughts, my pictures, my crafts, my paintings, and more, with family and you - my friends - all of which, I might add, have been encouraged and inspired by my Big Bear. 




Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Are You Afraid of Success?

I think too much.  I'm convinced of it.  When all is quiet in the house and I'm awake, like now in the early morning, I get to thinking.  Deep thinking and reflecting.  I'm not sure that is always a good thing, although I've come up with some pretty good ideas in the early morning.  That's when I usually have an epiphany. 

Take this morning for instance - I was thinking about my life and all the successes I let slide into some corner of the closet of my life.  I'm a great starter.  I'm not very good at taking my passions to the finish line though.  I think I lack something in my brain for finishing things successfully.  I know I have it in me, I just clam up before it gets completely out of control.  Does that make sense?


"Jitterbug Quilt" by Mary Susan Vaughn
52 x 65 - 1930s Jelly Roll Cottons

One thing I know for sure - so sure in fact that I am going to share it with you and I want you to reflect on this in your own life - "what you focus on expands and grows - successfully."  This is true.  No matter what you focus on, no matter what you do, no matter where you go in life, including failure - if you focus on that one thing to the end, you will be successful at it.  Guaranteed.  A huge success.  I promise.

People often say "I'm afraid of failure."  I say "bull."  If you want something bad enough, or want to learn something or do something passionately, you can do it - unless, of course, you have physical limitations that prevent you from achieving your goal.  If you don't have the physical limitations or the mental limitations (due to illness, disease, or something critical - you know what I mean), you can do anything.


"A Charlotte Summer" by Artist Mary Susan Vaughn
18 x 24 Oil on Canvas

I don't think any of us truly comprehend what we are capable of.  Many of us listen to this voice in our head that tells us we are not good enough, strong enough, pretty enough, smart enough, talented enough.  The truth is, if we want to do something passionately enough, we can do it.  We just have to have the will power, the drive, and the determination to see it through to the end.  Of course ...



Family picture - Easter 2003
Big Bear, Me, Sarah, Matthew & Glen

There is this "s" word at the destination that I believe prevents most of us from reaching our goals.  "Success."  Don't laugh.  I'm convinced of this - because with "success" comes responsibility.  It's like giving birth and becoming a mother, you can't take it back.  If you are like most mothers who love their children, raise them, nurture them, and value them as I do, like an extension of your own soul, then you know what I mean.  Having a child is erupt with "responsibility" and we pray day in and day out that our goals and hopes for our children come true, and that their successes in life and passions are realized.  It's the same thing with following through on what we love to do and want to do with our own life.


"America's Promise" by Artist Mary Susan Vaughn
36 x 54 Oil on Canvas

In my life, I can honestly say that being a mother has been my greatest success and my greatest failure.  I will never feel as though I did all that I could to be the best mother to my children.  I will always feel as though I failed them in some way.  If I look back on my life realistically, though, I know that I have done most all I could - all things considered - and still do (if I'm being completely honest here, which I am.  I'm not going to beat myself up over this anymore).  Okay, back to "success." 


Me, Kathleen & Kimberly - 1986

Success is like giving birth.  You have this child, this "element" of your life that is your passion, your desire, your path and hope for your life.  But with that "element," and to reach that "goal," you have to "commit."  There it is folks - commitment.  That's a BIG word and a HUGE responsibility.  If you are going to be successful at anything, you must commit - totally - to seeing it through to the end, no matter what it is.  Even laziness and failure takes commitment.  Do you realize that?  You must do all that is necessary to make it all happen and reach that goal that you visualized from the beginning.  Commitment takes work, and work takes commitment, and it all requires energy and responsibility to see it through.  That, I am convinced, is a failing in many of us, myself included.


Postage Stamp Quilt by Alex Anderson

I'm a mess when it comes to success. I love to sew, quilt, paint in oils, craft, and write.  And, I've been semi-successful at each of these things, but I have yet to be able to focus on one thing and carry it through to a successful conclusion. Every day, I look at others who have been enormously successful at these very things.  Let's start from the top - Martha Stewart, Alex Anderson, Nancy Zieman, Karin Wells, Ree Drummond ... these are but a few of the women of today that I admire for their successes.  They put their heart and soul into what they love and they have nurtured it to a "successful" conclusion - of which there is no real conclusion unless they stop nurturing and working at their passion and their goals. 


Martha Stewart doing everything

How do they do it?  Focus.  Commitment.  Passion.  I am certain that they don't look at commitment as a responsibility, but rather, as a challenge and a goal.  Instead of being afraid of success and all the responsibility that comes with it, they follow it like the light at the end of a tunnel.  They seek it out like water to the thirsty.  They don't sit back and think "Yeah, but if I get it all, will I be able to see it through?  Will I be able to keep up with success?  Will I be able to handle all the responsibility, bad and good, that comes with reaching my goals?"  Well, maybe they do think that, but they don't let those thoughts deter them from ultimately reaching their goals, and with that comes "success."


Gray-haired me trying not to laugh at Big Bear

I once had someone ask me "What do you want to be when you grow up?"  So what if I was 50 when they asked me this!  Heck, I don't know!  Can I take a nap now?  No?  Who asked you?!! 

No, I do not want to make quilts every day of my life.  No, I do not want to paint every day of my life.  No, I do not want to write or craft or do laundry every day of my life.  Yes, I secretly wish I had it in me to be as successful as the women I admire so much.  I told you I was a mess.  And I know that it is because of this that I have not been truly successful at anything, except maybe thinking.


Ree Drummond cooking up something good

Funny thing is, when I focus on something, I do a great job.  I love to paint and have been told by many that my paintings are beautiful (that's relative though and I know it).  I love to quilt and I know that I can create magnificent quilts if I want to.  I love to sew and I know I have just as much in me as Nancy Zieman (Nancy's Notions).  I know I will never be Martha Stewart.  I also know I will never be married to a sexy cowboy on a 100,000 acre ranch with beautiful horses and a desire to cook all things incredible like Ree Drummond, but I can dream.  There are, however, many things that I can do that they cannot, many things that I am passionate about that I could be equally successful at if I only stayed focused and committed to the very end.

How do I do this?  How do you do this?  Education, focus, determination, and commitment.  What am I afraid of?  What are you afraid of?  Success.  Yep, that's it - success.  Not failure, but success.  Failure is easy.  Anyone can "do" failure.  Not everyone can "do" success, because that takes a lot of energy and responsibility, nurturing and building, passion and devotion and time. I take that back (relatively speaking).  I think we are all successful - because to be good at something, even being lazy, a chronic complainer, self loathing, pain-in-the-backside, person who blames others for your problems - that takes energy, and you can be very successful at that too if you try hard enough.


"Ruth Mitchell Christensen" by Artist Karin Wells
20 x 24 oil on linen

From Congresswomen to Crafters, Authors to Artists, Seamsters to Sculptors - if we have something deep inside of us that we love to do, we have it inside of us to be as successful as we let ourselves be at doing that very thing. How far we go, and how successful we become, is limited only by how far we let ourselves go with our desires before we hit a wall. 

I still sit here thinking, though, "okay, so what do I want to be when I grow up?"  Then again, maybe I don't want to grow up - that would require being successful at something and I'm not sure I'm ready for that.  How about you?


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