living her best life…#34

Been a while since we’ve traveled life’s path…with Pat. We’ve both been busy with other happenings. She spent a lovely week catching up with her eldest son, Aiden, home on spring break. I’m sure it was a little sad for both of them when he returned to college on the mainland. 

My husband and I are in the throes of another remodel. Our last, thankfully. Almost as big a one as when we had our kitchen/dining/living area done nearly a decade ago. So that our late 70’s split level continues to work for us empty-nesters, we decided to turn the downstairs into our master bedroom retreat. Thoughts of cozy nights in front of a gas fireplace and an extra bedroom turned into a walk-in closet conjured up the good life…finally realized. However, as with all great things…there’s a price to pay.

As anyone who’s been through a remodel will tell you “It ain’t easy.” Spending months tripping over stuff stored everywhere but in our bed is no fun. Managing the project is also mind-boggling at times. Not to mention trying to keep us on a diet which means cooking tasty AND healthy…all the time. Of course that’s been haphazard now that we’re totally caught up in moving the renovations along as smoothly and quickly as is coherently possible. There have been glitches here and there, especially in the selection of light fixtures. It’s been my first and only experience with online shopping. If choosing from a myriad of fixtures is this difficult…I can’t imagine how single folks ever decide on dating partners from online images. By far a more important selection than if a flush mount fixture gives off enough light.

Decided to set these mundane things aside…truly unimportant by comparison…for a little while anyway, to remind us of what’s really important. Enjoying life with those we love for as long as we are able. Following is Pat’s unvarnished reflections on just that.

More Birthdays…and then some.

I already told you how my friends and I celebrated our 50th birthdays last year. I have another group of friends with whom I celebrate birthdays.

Our friendships came about because our boys were in kindergarten/elementary school together. Our boys have played sports together, our families have gone skiing together and we’ve been celebrating our birthdays for over 10 years. The boys have gone their own ways, but the moms have remained friends to this day.

These birthday celebrations aren’t fancy and don’t take months of planning. More like “It’s your turn next. What do you want to do?” Today was Maria’s turn. We celebrated at her house with take-out Chinese, wine instead of tea, and a fruit tart with ice cream instead of fortune cookies. (This is Hawaii where anything goes when it comes to food. hugmamma here: Ain’t that the truth!!!)

These are the women I met later in life, who have become lifelong friends. Besides our boys, the ties that bind us are the trials and tribulations both good and bad, that come with age…stress from our kids (a given), infidelity (a bad thing), divorce (mostly a good thing), and serious illness (a new topic).

Sharon was the first of this group that I told about my diagnosis. I knew it was going to be the hardest phone call to make and I waited until the very last moment…the night before my very first chemo treatment. It was hard and I know she was holding back tears. I asked her if she could let everyone else know what was going on. I didn’t think I could make six more phone calls. So she did.

Right away Priscilla offered to help Sharon with the phone calls. Priscilla also promised to keep me laughing and always send funny things she finds on the Internet. Erin, ever the librarian and teacher did some research online and had suggestions on what books to read. Sharon brought me those books, along with a blanket to use during treatment. She also brought food over. The others emailed me words of encouragement, prayers and offers to help in any way.

All except one.

I didn’t know if she was still in Hawaii. We’d heard she might be moving. I know she’s going through a tough time herself, but I don’t really know…none of us do…what’s going on. The last time we were all together, she didn’t want to talk about it and she’s been kinda AWOL ever since. Although she couldn’t make it to Maria’s birthday get-together at least she responded to the emails going around. I thought “great!” maybe things are okay, but still she didn’t email me directly. I wondered why. I wasn’t upset, just a little surprised, but didn’t worry too much about it. I’ve been in the position of not knowing what to do or say to someone and ended up doing nothing at all.

And then today it hit me! WHY AREN’T I REACHING OUT TO HER? OMG! NEWS FLASH! A cancer diagnosis DOES NOT mean the world now revolves around me. Someone…anyone…slap me! Sheesh! I feel like such an idiot. (hugmamma here: Been there…done that! Pretty sure we all have…)

Turns out she’s going through a really rough time. I don’t know what it is, but I don’t need to know either. I do know she doesn’t want to talk about it, but that doesn’t mean we can’t talk about other stuff. I’m not doing nothing this time around.

I finished reading a really good book a couple of weeks ago, and this friend was the first person I thought about. Although she is a published author and knows way more about the world of authors and publishing, I’d always let her know when I came across an awesome read. I don’t know why I hesitated this time…because she didn’t email me first?…or because she’s hiding out? Either way it doesn’t matter. I will email her. I hope she responds, but if she doesn’t that’s okay. At least she’ll know I’m here if she wants to talk books…or anything else.

And FYI, if you like memoirs the book is Maude by Donna Mabry.

…good to remember…that we’re all trying to live our best lives.

…thanks, pat.

………hugmamma.

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what i love most…

…about my husband.

 There are many things for which I’m grateful. Since they are too numerous to mention, I’ll choose one.

He lets me talk…for as long as I like. Ad nauseum…if I’m so inclined. 

With nary a peep…or a hiccough…or a boo! He merely…smiles…nods…or agrees.

Oftentimes, I’ve felt this was a shortcoming. 

In conversations by myself…monologues, if you will…I’ve wished…and pleaded…for more input.

Two-way communication.

Less silence…while dining out…in the car, on long drives…in a heated discussion.

I should’ve known when I heard his college, Valedictorian speech…3 wordsSilence is Golden. 

With that he walked off the stage…and into my lifefor better or worse.

Forty-five years later…3 dating, 42 married…my husband is still theStrong, Silent Type.

You’d think I’d have gotten the message…long, long ago.

Blame youthful immaturity…for having my head…in the clouds.

And so decades later…having failed to mold Adam…according to Eve…

I’m content to sit under the apple tree…

…eating of the fruit…

…which promises…

…eternal love.

Even if it has to be…in silence.

………hugmamma.   😆  

Love ± Zero

Love ± Zero (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

advertising…and wordpress

Contacted WordPress support about unsolicited advertising on “hugmamma’s mind, body, and soul.” Asked that it be removed. Following is the answer I received.

WordPress.com has been running advertising on our free hosted blogs since 2006. Many bloggers do not know this because despite the fact they ticked the box required to get a free blog, they did not read the ToS. Many also do not read features page, or advertising entry in the support documents after registering their username and blog(s). Also note that as the ads do not display to us when we are logged in, and as many use browsers with ad blockers when logged out, they may not realize they are there at all. The only way to get rid of all advertising on our free hosted WordPress.com blogs is to purchase an annually renewable No-Ads upgrade.

If you feel an ad is inappropriate please take a screenshot of it and send it to Staff by emailing support@wordpress.com or upload it into your Media Library and contact Staff and let them know it’s there for them to view.

 In response, I said…

Thanks lots for the clarification. You’re right that I did not pay heed to the “fine print.” Entirely my error. I seem to remember, as does my husband, that ads use to run in the sidebar. The fact that they now appear as part of my post is somewhat off-putting. My husband has opened up an ad thinking it was a continuation of what I’d written. Can anything be done to separate ads out of the body of the post?

I chose WordPress because of its offer to blog for free. I’d like to hold onto that freedom, such as it is. I already pay to own my domain name. Another $30 would seem to run contrary to why I chose your site.

hugs for your timely response…hugmamma.

A final response…and I mean final…came almost immediately.

No, in fact ads used to run everywhere, including sometimes between the title and the body of an article. There are generally speaking fewer ads than there were before.

Short of buying the No Ads upgrade or applying for this WordAds program, which also reduces the number of ads further from what it is now, there’s nothing you can do.

And so…the matter is resolved. David and Goliath have come to terms…the giant laying down the law of the land. Truth be told…the conversation was very civil…and clarification of the matter is all this David needed. I can still play in the land of the giants…as long as I abide by their rules. More importantly…
 
…i continue to do it for free…kind of…
………hugmamma.  😉

weeding 101…life lesson?

Whew!!! Spent a couple of hours hunched over, pulling out weeds…one, two, three at a time. Only certain weeds seem to proliferate in the shady slope to the left of our front yard, blackberries being the biggest nuisance of all. If I’d have known I’d be pulling them out every year for the last 14 years, I’d have been content with learning to make jelly by the case loads. Don’t fret their demise in that area, however. An overgrowth of blackberries comingled with other vegetation, forms a massive hedge separating our neighbor’s property to the right. I prune it back from time to time, just so it doesn’t feel like we’re being overrun by the Green monster with octopi tentacles.

As I tackled the overgrown patch of weeds, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the ajuga and sweet woodruff I’d planted last summer, and the summer before that, still thrived. Not only did they manage to grow amidst the weeds that were fighting to occupy the same space, but those hardy grouncovers thrived despite drought conditions. With a canopy of evergreen branches overhead, very little rain makes it through to the thirsty plants beneath. It’s survival of the fittest, and as you can see from the picture, there’s no shortage of survivors.

Pulling at the weeds, hundreds of them, I reflected on what it was I was doing. Seeing the ajuga and sweet woodruff, green and strong, as if happy to be free of the entangled brush, made me think of relationships that go unattended. We all get caught up in ourselves, our needs, our passions, our entertainment, our problems, our happiness. It doesn’t help that we no longer engage in personal communication, face to face, talking on the phone, and hand-written letters. Gadgets have replaced all of that. The bells and whistles attached to the “next best thing” are the “robots” which were only fantasy a few decades ago. They allow us to control our interaction with others. With the click of a button, or a point of the cursor, we can pause all communication, or shut it down completely. No excuses necessary; no thought for the other person.

But it’s never too late to clear through the technological barbed wire, and return to the basics of human interaction. It needn’t be etched in flourishes, like my friend Sylvia’s letters written in calligraphy. Putting a stamp on a hand-written card and mailing it the old-fashioned way, picking up the phone to reconnect once-in-awhile so we remember what human voices sound like, or having coffee to catch up on what’s been happening are starters to peeling back the layers of stuff that’s come between. 

Relationships, like groundcover, can, and do, survive neglect, if we strip away all the “weeds.” Sometimes a particularly nasty blackberry vine can leave scratches, but in a few days time the marks are gone. A scar or two may remain, but the pain is long over. In some relationships, the passing of time may not erase the scars or the pain. In those instances, a simple “I’m sorry for what I said, or what I did” may be necessary before  communication can progress. Just as water is necessary for plants to survive, so too relationships need to be watered with compassion, in the hopes they will grow anew.

Weeds are a bother, but there may be an upside to them after all. I’ll have a little more respect for them when…

i’m yanking them out by the roots…hugmamma. 😉

 

so simple…then why so hard?

Cover of

Cover of Loving Each Other

My favorite author Leo Buscaglia quoted the following poem in his book, Loving Each Other. Written by an anonymous person, its words transcend time and place. They’re appropriate between members of a family,  co-workers, politicians and their constituents, global leaders. Perhaps if we paid heed to the message contained herein, there would be no strangers, no enemies, only acquaintances, friends learning to live side-by-side, sharing rather than hoarding, supporting rather than castigating, liking rather than incriminating, letting be rather than obliterating.

Listen

When I ask you to listen to me and you start giving
advice,
you have not done what I asked.
When I ask you to listen to me and you begin to tell me
why
I shouldn’t feel that way, you are trampling on my
feelings.
When I ask you to listen to me and you feel you have to
do
something to solve my problems, you have failed me,
strange
as that may seem.
Perhaps that’s why prayer works for some people
Because
God is mute and He doesn’t offer advice or try to fix
things.
He just listens and trusts you to work it out for yourself.
So please, just listen and hear me. And if you want to talk,
wait a few minutes for your turn and I promise I’ll listen
to you.

Leo Buscaglia, Miami Book Fair International, 1987

Image via Wikipedia

i know i need reminding…from time to time…hugmamma.

 

give up the internet?

A tricky question posed by the wordpress.com staff to bloggers participating in Post a Day  2011. Most of the comments left by bloggers attested to mostly mixed feelings about the internet, mine included.

I’d very much like us to return to the old days when we communicated face to face, and mailed hand written letters, and visiting the local library was a trip to which we looked foward. But then would we want to return to the days before electricity, telephones, not to mention cell phones, automobiles, paved roads, supermarkets, refrigerators, stoves? The list is endless.

Recently, I’ve heard mentioned, “the only consistent thing in life is change.” So it seems there’s no turning back the hand of time. But in the case of the internet, perhaps a disconnect now and then teaches us to appreciate when we have it, and to appreciate other things in life, when we don’t. We can enjoy having both, as long as we live in the moment, and not stress out.

been there, done that…see my posts about Comcast”…hugmamma.

 

comcast answered! corny… but true!

The internet absolutely amazes me! When I publish a post, I have no expectations of hearing from anyone. It’s fabulous when I do, but there’s no pining away, that’s for sure. I just keep doing my thing, writing. Just when I was about to retrace my steps in offering to contact Comcast for my friend Sylvia, to advise that she communicate with an automated, robotic voice, one of my “guardian angels” appeared, to save the day once again.

Mark Casem of Comcast’s national call center is offering to assist my friend in resolving her telephone “echoes.” Since she subscribes to this blog, she’ll get the message. “So Sylvia, if you scroll down to the comments at the bottom of my previous post entitled “calling comcast…earth to comcast,” you’ll see Mark’s email address. Tell him “hugmamma” sent you, girlfriend! And believe me when I say, he’ll definitely get the ball rolling…as far as it needs to go!

i believe in guardian angels…especially the ones that hover around me…hugmamma.

“got my groove back,” hugmamma

THANK YOU COMCAST, for removing the Grinch and giving me back Christmas!!! The technician came at the appointed hour this morning, replacing wires, boxes, modems and what not. Not sure if it would be considered an overhaul, or a remodel. Whatever it’s called, our internet connection is again working. I’m sure you can tell from the vivid pictures gracing my previous post about holiday decorating. I’m back on my own laptop, where I can enhance my writing with pictures from my “library.” Yehhh!!! It’s almost like going from “black and white TV,” to color.

This time we’re ALMOST certain that Comcast’s technician fixed the problem. Since my husband’s more savvy about gadgetry, he understands the repair process better than I. Gut instinct is my trusty barometer. Let’s hope it’s still dependable, and that the same is true about Comcast.

Meanwhile customer service rep, Amanda Kennedy, promised we’d be given one month’s internet service free, for our frustrations. That’s in addition to the $20 credit we received for the first appointment, because the technician arrived after the 4 hour frame period. So while Comcast is a big player in internet service, they provided us customer service of the small town variety. Mistakes happen; things can go awry. We can be understanding, even patient, as long as there’s communication and genuine compassion for our plight.

So I continue to recommend using “honey,” and not “vinegar,” to resolve a situation. It’s less stressful for you, and may garner side benefits, such as I’ve described above. But go the distance, talking with whomever is necessary, rationally stating all the facts. Don’t hesitate to ascend the “ladder,” talking to the boss, if necessary. The most important thing, however, is not letting your blood pressure boil over. Your health is too important. So remember to take some deep breaths…

in the groove again, blogging…hugmamma.

when to “cease and desist,”parenting

Sometimes parenting a daughter who is legally an adult at 24, is like “walking on eggshells,” like “walking a tightrope,” like jumping from a plane hoping my parachute will open. Until a few years ago, her life was still within the realm of our control; it still is to some degree, because we continue to offer financial support. But having lived on her own since she was 19, it’s not easy to reel her in at this stage. Not that reeling her in is necessary. But I’m sure all parents agree that there are times we are impatient to substitute our substantial years of experience, for their paltry few. My husband has no problem restraining himself. I, on the other hand, am usually chomping at the bit. This is not surprising, if you’ve been a regular reader of my blog.

Deciding to give an opinion, in the form of advice, is a slippery slope. Fortunately, I have a huge inventory of words at my disposal to wend my way in and out of a tricky conversation. It’s like fencing, or a game of chess. I move; she moves. I act; she reacts; I react, and so on, and so forth. What usually begins as opposing viewpoints, evolves into an understanding of sorts. She sees my perspective as a concerned mom, and I realize her life is hers to live. And that’s the best I can hope for, an understanding that there are 2 sides to every story. But ultimately this is my daughter’s story, not mine. Wouldn’t we all like to write a happily-ever-after for our children?

Living in an apartment together while my daughter trained as a ballerina, gave us 2 1/2  years to bond, and then separate. I knew it was time to leave her, when the time came. Weaning her from total dependence upon my husband and I, was our daughter’s rite-of-passage. And she was ready to take the reins, even though her future, personally and professionally, was far from certain. In the ensuing years, she has weathered her share of challenges, managing the repair work when her bathroom ceiling fell in, minor car accidents, the end of a long relationship, auditioning for a dance job, career politics, and health issues. We were always available, on the other end of the telephone.

Children grow up, despite our hovering. What my daughter and I have always shared, and continue to share, is a two-way conversation. We’ve never turned our backs on communication, because we know we love each other unconditionally. There are tears and raised voices, for sure, but there are calming words and soothing hugs as well.

So I continue to hover, and will probably do so until I draw my last breath. My daughter will always know where I stand. What she does with that knowledge is her decision as an adult. I can’t live her life, I can only cherish it. So while I won’t cease and desist, I will step back, knowing that my daughter is well equipped to determine the course of her life. I’ll be here when her life takes a “detour.” She will probably seek advice, and I’ll be happy to oblige. As Elizabeth Edwards told Wolf Blitzer of CNN in an interview, “There’s no mother who doesn’t want to put her two cents in.”

for staying involved, hugs…hugmamma.