What My Basket Holds – 2013

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It has been a year since I started my blog, Simply Life Lessons, and lately, I have been so busy learning life lessons that I have not taken the time to stop and tell you about them.

My 5 1/2 years in Colorado have been “Smack in the Face” hard and the most memorable and enjoyable that I know.  There is no way to sugarcoat the trials nor the lessons that have come my way, but, if we all handed in our basket of troubles to exchange, I would take mine back, and if there ever was a place to surround yourself with kind, giving, caring, loving friends and healing strength and peace, it is Estes Park, Colorado.

A glimpse into my  year . . .

I laughed, cried, cursed, questioned, promised, succeeded, failed, and learned.

  • Stephanie got married. Beautiful wedding. Happy couple. Good life ahead.
  • Zia started kindergarten.
  • I left one great job and started another great job.
  • The flood. It happened. Anything that can be said, has been.
  • Changed addresses.
  • The word “Divorce” became easier to say.
  • Dating became interesting and unpredictable, to say the least
  • Experienced hospitalization and two surgeries.
  • Mother passed away.
  • Traveled a bit.
  • Started a weight loss journey.
  • Missed my dad.
  • Made new friends.

There was nothing simple about most of my Life Lessons this year. I don’t know why. Is God trying to make a better person of me? Karma? (Am surely hoping not!). Stuff happens? It’s my turn? I don’t have answers and have quit asking questions.

Mother died in January. No matter how prepared you are, you are never ready.  I spent the next day after she died learning to knit. She would respect that. In May, the family gathered in Illinois to bury both of our parents. Closure doesn’t truly ever come when you’re suddenly an orphan, (Daddy died in August, 2011(, but I can say I learned much about the grieving process, and there is eventually a place of peace. Memories become more precious, and understanding more sure.

My man who swept me off my feet last year? Bumpy ride. Sad ride. I doubted. He failed. Second chances. I learned that relationships at 50+ are far different from being 18 when it’s all goofy and mushy and carving hearts in trees. Life goes on. Regardless of the outcome, this was a necessary journey than I am thankful for. Very recently I met him again for the first time, so we talk, and I am trying to learn to trust. Does my heart need as much protection as I try to give it?

Zia started school in August, and in Week 2 was chosen as Student of the Week and voted as having the Nicest Smile.  Proud? You bet! She loves the classroom, her friends, being obedient and making the grade. It was a difficult transition to go from caring for her everyday to seeing her a couple hours a week, but she is busy and happy and becoming an amazing young lady. Grammie is thankful to have her as my granddaughter.

It was during this time that Zia started school that I took a self-imposed hiatus from my day-to-day routine and some days did nothing but breathe. Life lessons during this time came easy. I understood where I was and how I got there, and every bit of it was on my map, showing detours and solid paths to take. I rested, reflected, and prepared to happily continue the journey into the rest of my life.

Today? I am living in a temporary mess as I unpack and settle in my new home that rests on a mountainside, perfect for the next leg of my journey, which includes a wonderful job I started early November. Day by day I unpack more, down-size, discover new challenges at work, and contentedly find my way.

Out of the hospital two weeks, I continue to recuperate from two foot surgeries. Lessons learned? How to walk with a cane, and not everyone is kind to the afflicted. On the next level, I can only say, “Oh, my!”  Can I count the lessons learned? With my doctors’ insistence, I am now more committed to taking better care of myself. Nothing should come before my health. I am not invincible. I am not immune. I get it now, but may need reminded. Finding that I don’t have the power to make just about anything alright has been eye-opening and rather difficult for me, because I kinda think I’ve done that for a long time.

Other lessons were tougher and surely not simple. I am learning to let others help me. This has been my major life lesson of 2013. There are givers and there are takers, and I always want to be a giver.  I am learning that being complete demands a balance because givers needs those to give to.  Vulnerable once was a foreign word, but not anymore. Friends and family willingly and without thinking twice, took over my life the 10 days I was in the hospital. They packed up my belongings, moved my stuff, visited and cheered me on. They ran errands, sent flowers and cards and called. They looked out for me and worried and cared. Believe me when I say that it would have been easier to lose another toe than to have to ask or accept help in any way, but I had to acknowledge that I am loved, and I know good people who desire to do good things, even for me. It is also very true that when you are down, you learn who your real friends are, but that is another post, another day.

When people ask me how I stay positive and upbeat, I think there are 2 lessons learned long ago. My faith is a source of comfort and hope, and I know that everything in life comes down to perspective. I realize that there are so many people who are traveling unimaginable paths, and I am forever thankful that I am not.

Please know that we are not about what happens to us, but about how we develop through those happenings, and developing positively will prove to be helpful to another soul that you meet along the way. Don’t waste your lessons. Share them.

As this year comes to a close, I am excited about 2014. I have plans to experience more beauty, to be unselfish with my giving, to right all of the wrongs I can, and to embrace the joy of simply being.

Happy New Year to you, and may all of your life lessons be simple.

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Why I Cry and Cry Again . . .

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I am a crier. Not a town crier, mind you, but a boo too, sniffle, sniff and red-faced crier.

When younger, I would cry but it wasn’t that often. After I got through the skinned knee stage, my tears would be contributed to school girl disappointments that I thought surely would bring the end of my world. My mom would pat my back, tell me everything would be alright, and would I please go fold my laundry. Daddy would get a bit impatient, ask me what was wrong (so he could fix it because that is what daddies do), then try to make me laugh.

Girls get the “over-emotional” label unfairly written on their personality, but emotions involve much more than tears.  Maybe we just express ourselves easier, but easier is not the best word because there is nothing easy about crying.  Tears of any kind will eventually leave you profoundly changed – refreshed, cleansed, aware, and wiser.  Personal growth is never easy and never experienced without your tears.

Through the 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, I seldom cried. There were personal tragedies and betrayals and hopelessness, and I certainly did my share of sobbing through these times, but for the most part, I stayed pretty tough, dealt practically and lived with an encased heart.

Today, life is quite different.  Yes, it is true that I cry nearly every day because nearly every day something happens that causes me to cry.

Living in the Rocky Mountains has allowed me the freedom to reintroduce my soul to feelings and wonderment, sadness and hope.  I cannot have a pretense or carry a façade when nature has so freely welcomed me to live out loud.

When Zia was born, tears came without warning, and even speaking of her tightened my throat, as the awe of this little girl overwhelmed me. Even now, nearly 5 years later, the love I have for her sometimes leaves me powerless to hold back the tears.

When my marriage ended, I cried buckets full of sadness. This was the darkest season of my life, but I saw the tears as a salve applied to bring my healing, and it did.  Sadness is now replaced with acceptance and trust that I am doing just fine.

Today, I cried, out of the blue, because I received the most caring message from an old friend whom I had not talked to for decades. He shared with me high school memories he had kept, and that I have thought about  for over 40 years but never talked about.  His kindness, and learning that he remembered the moments just as I did, was enough to bring me to tears of sweetness. There was no way to put this gift into proper words, but tears speak a perfect language.

Throughout my day there are many moments filled with kindness and goodness, and I cry.  Likewise, when I see injustices toward a weaker soul, I cry.  Every time I hear my brother tell me he loves me, I cry, because of the love I have for him.  Hallmark movies leave my popcorn soggy, and many times sheer happiness turns itself into tears.  When one of the young men at work gives me a hug and says, “Thank you” for helping or encouraging or understanding me, I cry.    If I hear a child cry, I want to hold him, listen and hug away his sadness.  When I pledge allegiance to the flag, I tear up, and I can never hear “Amazing Grace” without my soul being thankful through the tears.  I weep for the homeless and hungry and sob for missing babies who will never return home, and I will cry when these same little ones are found.

It may sound strange, but I rarely cry when I am sick, unless the nurse has just stabbed me the seventh time trying to get blood.  There is nothing sentimental or endearing about a bed pan or head hung over a toilet, so cranky works here just fine, but I have never heard the words that sound like terminal or transplant or there is nothing more to do.  If that day comes, I will cry.

Some people will cry when angry, and I once was one of them because I was too afraid to express myself.  These days, when angry, I deal with it without the tears.  This is not to say that words don’t hurt and my feelings aren’t injured, but these I can deal with intelligently, or so I try.

This would not be written by me if it were not completely honest and transparent about my life and the its lessons, so I must also tell you that I do still cry from sadness and hopelessness and loneliness, but the tears dry up quickly and are remembered as just another moment in time.

Will I ever cry myself dry?  Do others cry as often as I do?   Will I one day be tough again and unaffected by the life around me?  Should I apologize for the times my tears expose me?   I have decided all the answers whisper, “No”.  This is who I am, and when my days happen with wonderment and friendship and love and acceptance and life, my heart will cry, and my tears will fall, and I don’t know how to tell me not to.

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