Sunday, March 12, 2017


     Recently I wast thinking about my mother.  I was the youngest of seven kids and rumor has it that my mother only wanted two.  My oldest sibling was almost 18 years old by the time I came along.  I wonder what that feeling must be like. I would not want to start over with a little baby at that point in my life so I can imagine my mother had some sadness.  Maybe it was a lot of sadness and quite possibly some anger as well.  I was not exactly a mistake because rumor also has it my father wanted a dozen kids.  My mother was trying to be a good wife, a good Catholic and do what she thought was right.  She was trying the best she could but I think it turned out to be too much.  She could have been happier with less kids.  It is cliche for people to say that they can't wait for their children to have kids of their own because then they will see.  Yes, I see.  I see it is hard to be a "good" mother.
     My mother said and did some pretty mean things to her children but I think her spirit had been beaten down by life.  People say that you forgive other people for yourself.  I don't think it is so much forgiveness that I feel, it is just a feeling of understanding.  It is also said that when you point a finger at someone else there are three pointing back at you.  I have always understood that philosophy even though I haven't always heeded it.  I don't want to judge her so harshly as I have in the past, not for her but because I am judging myself.
     Fortunately before my mother died I had come to some sort of peace with out relationship.  I think she was relatively happy with it and I was too.  I wouldn't describe it as loving but I had accepted that.  To me she was just an older person who I treated kindly and with respect.  I just didn't think about how she was actually my mother.  I am glad that I felt like I had resolved my feelings before she passed away because I have no regrets.  Even with the understanding I have now, it wouldn't have changed our relationship. The understanding does give me a kind of peace.  Life is not always fun but my mother stuck it out doing what she thought was right even when she didn't want to.  It is hard to be nice all the time and I understand how hard it would be to be nice after having five extra kids.        

Monday, January 16, 2017


     I just redid one of the rooms in my house.  I suppose you would call it a family room but we called it the red room since the carpet was red.  That carpet was 29 years old and was overdue for being replaced but I loved that carpet.  About a dozen years ago I redid that room but the carpet stayed.  It is a large room and my new carpet that I just installed cost $1,500 so that played a big factor in why it took me so long to replace it but the other reason is, it is now very hard to find red carpet.  When I say red, I mean fire engine red!  Even when I got it installed in 1987 it was a color that needed to be special ordered.
     One would think that if I am a kind of person who can jump right in with a red carpet, I would be a person who is not afraid of bright colors.  Sometimes there is moment in a person's life where they realize that they have lived trying to make people happy and they have lost their true selves.  I had that epiphany a few years ago.  That red carpet was the one bright spot in my home but I really was just copying the red carpet in my mother in laws family room.  That made it acceptable.  Later on before my son was born I didn't find out if he was a boy or girl ahead of time so I did have a yellow room for him.  It was a wonderful bright yellow but I always knew that I was going against what my in laws thought was acceptable.  I had been decorating my house with muted colors for years and I got more and more nervous about branching out.
     As my two girls got older they wanted to have a say in what colors we would use.  We have a summer home and it needed to have the walls painted and they wanted their room to be orange...bright orange.  I complied because after all, it was their room and I should let them have a say.  They think that I am unhappy with the orange but in reality I am thrilled with it.  I probably wouldn't pick orange but it does look good to me and more importantly they have not been influenced by outside opinions!  Maybe I am living vicariously through them.
     It is not a good feeling to know that I allowed myself to worry so much about pleasing other people.  It is hard to realize that in the past I have decorated my house to try to get people to like me but that is exactly what I did.  It was a slow process because first, many years ago, I took down a lot of decorations that were considered "arts and crafts."  If you walk into my in laws houses that is what you will see and that is what I did in order to fit in.  When I realized that I didn't really like it and it was becoming old fashioned, I got rid of it all.  For many years I had hardly anything on the walls until my kids came home with artwork and I hung that up.
     What was really brewing in my mind was that epiphany that I needed to be myself.  It probably seems silly to other people but it is exceedingly difficult to override that sense of being judged.  For other reasons, I have chosen to stop having a relationship with my in laws.  I guess this issue is symbolic of my reasons.  I tried to be acceptable by changing myself but it never worked.  Once I gave up trying to please them, it has been hard to figure out who I am.  It makes me more sensitive to other people's judgement as well.  For me that is a lot to overcome.
     My favorite color is purple so it made sense to paint the room purple.  In my mind it would be a glaring color that no one would like but me.  It seems rather ridiculous now to have worried about that but it was important to me to overcome those feelings and I did it!  It really is just a lavender that is peaceful seeming.  I love my purple room, not only because it is my favorite color but also because people don't paint their family rooms purple...but I DO!

Saturday, January 14, 2017


     There are a lot of things we are told in life that I think make us feel like failures.  We are told that if we work hard enough that we can do anything we want to do or be anything we want to be.  I don't think that is true.  Our talents and capabilities are indeed limited.  However, I do believe that many of us don't reach our full potential.  So maybe when people say that we can do anything we set our minds to, they really mean that we should always be striving.  Without striving and pushing ourselves, we won't know how far we can actually go.  But if we tell ourselves that we can do anything and we get to that point where we can't go any farther, we can end up feeling like failures.  In my way of thinking there is a point where we can simply say "enough" and legitimately have a feeling of satisfaction with ourselves.  We can find that balance but it will be different for each person.
     On the flip side of this are all those people who don't reach their full potential.  Those represent the average person.  That is who I am and actually who I strive to be in a not striving kind of way.  We need a lot of average people in order to make the wheels of society go around.  I'm suggesting that maybe it is okay to be one of those people.  A person who doesn't get accolades.  A person who works hard but also takes the time to be lazy.  A person who doesn't strive every day to be the best that they can be but who is not a burden on society because they fill a societal need in a small way or maybe even a tiny way.  Just a middle of the road kind of person.
     In the past I have described one of my good qualities as being the kind of person who can keep going in the face of failure.  I can fail at something and pick myself up and try again, hence why I keep gardening.  Maybe now I am just tired of feeling that way.  At 52 years old I am just looking back and thinking how I struggled so much to try to be something that I could never be.  In the end what I have as a success is that I am a person who can keep going through failure.  Is that enough?  Close friends feel bad for me and reassure me that I am not a failure but I really don't want that kind of comfort.  I just want to be okay with not striving anymore.  And I think I am okay with that.
     If I had thought all this when I was young I would have been living in a basement apartment, working at a Milwaukee brewery with a friend named Shirley and I would have changed my name to Laverne...well actually my friend's name was Christine but maybe she would have changed it to Shirley.  


Monday, January 02, 2017


One thing that has always given me happiness is gardening.  It is hard work and it often tires me out but it is a good tired.  For the most part I come away with a sense of satisfaction.  I am actually a horrible gardener and for every success there are at least a half dozen failures.  I am not sure why I keep doing it other than maybe it gives me a sense of hopefulness.  These are my zucchini plants from this past summer.  How does a person kill zucchini and how does my garden bring me happiness?  By the way, those pictures were taken mid summer not in the fall and it wasn't a particularly dry summer but it was a particularly unsuccessful summer.

Each winter I start imagining next summer and this winter is no different.  Usually I will read something that someone else has written about how great their gardening method is and be inspired that, yes, I can do that too!  It never seems to end well.  But my hopefulness has never wavered and that is what keeps me going back for more.  I wonder if there is anyone out there like me that fails over and over and just keeps happily plugging along.  Stay tuned for next summer!  I kind of wonder if I ever am successful, will it be a let down?!  Will I somehow be disappointed that I am able to grow things prolifically?  This is making me laugh since thinking about how maybe someday I can be successful at gardening is all part of my hopefulness.  It's probably never going to happen but maybe someday... 


It's January 2, 2017 and do I say I am starting to write again?  Seems kind of absurd since the last time I wrote that was a year and a half ago.  So I won't say it.  I will say that the older I get the more I try to limit how many things cause me pressure.  I refuse to let this cause me pressure.  Somethings we can't avoid like going to our job every day.  I don't know if other people have found their bliss and love going to their job every day but I can say I am one person that does not.  I strive for acceptance and having at least parts of my job that I enjoy.  I do like to work but I don't know if that is because I have worked for so long.  I like to believe that even "perfect" jobs have their days where they are not enjoyable.

Since I have not written for so long, my life is now in a completely different phase.  I am considered an "empty nester" and I think people assume that I am pining for the good old days of having my kids at home.  I just don't feel that way.  Maybe I should.  I think I mostly feel relief that the bulk of the work is over but I also have that feeling of "what now?"  It's an odd feeling to me when I am confronted with people who think I should feel that way since I was so close to my kids and they have always been such a big part of my life.  I'm sure that there are other mothers out there that feel the same.

It's always been hard to voice opinions or feelings that other people don't think I should have.  I went back to work when my youngest was in her last couple of years of high school so my life is definitely full.  I guess maybe it's too full to be able to think about being an empty nester.

So here I am, 52 years old and wondering how I will fill the next 20 years.


Saturday, June 28, 2014


It's been so long since I've posted on my blog.  I am glad that I did not delete it and I think it may be time to get back to it.  It has been almost two years since I posted and so much has happened in those two years.  The biggest change is that I got a job!  I went back to work as an engineer but it is as a Product Management Engineer so it is not really engineering but more management.  I do not like that aspect of it and there are many more things I can complain about but just going back to work was such a huge milestone in my life!

I started last June (2013) and I was 49 years old.  I had been out of work for almost 21 years so it was pretty scary.  I had done a couple years of substitute teaching but that was quite a few years ago.  I started out only working two days a week and then in January of this year I started doing three.  By the end of March I added another day but it is a day working from home.  So I am just one day short of full time and it has been pretty tiring.  The job itself is pretty crummy and lacks any sort of job satisfaction.  I am finding many of the people I work with to be challenging to say the least but I guess I'd find that in any job.  I am working hard to learn to deal with these new stresses in my life and I must say it has been overwhelming at times.  If I do keep up with my posting I will probably write more about my feelings here.

I am surprised I didn't post about it but two years ago I also had a falling out with my in laws.  I guess after being married for 25 years I finally just got fed up.  I didn't initiate the conversation but my sister in law decided she needed to air some issues with me that turned out to be a last straw for me.  I have had mixed emotions but mostly I just feel free.  Free to fully be who I am without having to worry what they all think of me.  Free from having to try to make them like me and make them happy.  My biggest problem comes with knowing that although they may talk behind my back and say bad things about me, eventually they will want to make up with me.  I know myself well enough to know that I will never want to make up with them.  I am not actively angry about all the issues of all the past years.  Like I said, I just feel free.  I feel relief that I don't have these people bringing me down anymore.  Part of the problem over the years is that they are that kind of family that never fully accepts outsiders into the family.  I was expected to call my mother in law and father in law "Mr and Mrs."  I couldn't even us their first names.  Because they kept me at arms length all those years, I never had a close, loving relationship to be missing now.  To me the relationship really was being a bystander, watching all the family nastiness.  Sometimes it felt like that was all I was good for.  I was a person to listen to one person bashing another person.  I do not miss family gatherings which usually meant I had to listen to hours of meanness being spewed forth about whoever was the latest target.  Two years ago, I became the target.  I didn't feel I had done anything grieves that should cause anyone to think I was a bad person and I had no intention of changing to please anyone.  I had already spent years stifling things in order to keep family members from disliking me.  Now two years later...the longer they are out of my life the better it feels.

So those are the two big things that have happened.  I think I am ready to start posting more but I don't want to promise or pressure myself.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012


I have been wondering, can you forgive someone even if they don't apologize?  I really have never felt like I agree with the advice that you must forgive someone to make yourself feel better.  I have never believed that you should forgive but not forget.  In fact, my belief is that you should forget the wrongs that have been done to you but you don't have to forgive them to do that.  Just a lot of thinking....

Monday, March 26, 2012


Last night I was skimming through the channels on TV. I stopped briefly on OWN and saw a famous singer talking on "Master Class." I could not continue to watch because once again, it appeared that there was an emphasis on following your bliss. This singer didn't seem to understand that everyone can't be famous or even make a decent living at singing. He seemed to be criticizing parents that don't fully support their kids dreams. It would be easy for him to support his kids' dreams since he knows that he has plenty of money to give them if they fail. He said that he would rather have tried and failed than not try at all. That sounds all fine and dandy until a person actually fails. And, what IF he had failed? Would he still have been so happy about trying? What if he found himself at fifty years old, struggling to make ends meet, with no other skills to support himself? Would he simply be happy that his parents had supported his dreams or would he be angry that his parents hadn't pushed him to develop backup skills? As parents, we want to ensure that our kids will live a happy life but at the same time we are well aware that they will have to earn a living. Why criticize a parent that is worried that their kid won't be that one in a million who will become famous and earn as much as this particular singer? He seemed to think, that kind of parent was being mean by crushing their kid's dreams. Maybe he should realize, that parent actually loves their kid so much that they are trying to protect them from a failure that might make their entire life a struggle. Think about how many people had dreams to become famous singers but never fulfilled those dreams. Do we really believe that is because the parent didn't support them enough? If only they had more parental support, would they have become famous? Why should a parent be criticized for trying to help their kids make realistic goals in life? Why should a parent be criticized for thinking that maybe their kid won't be that one in a million famous person? For telling them honestly, you can try singing but make a backup plan, go to college, have skills that you can depend on. Tell me, what is wrong with that?

Thursday, March 01, 2012


Although we finally had a snow storm yesterday, I have been noticing the usual signs of spring that start in February. It was a few years back when I realized that things began changing February. I think I noticed this because this is the month that I officially am sick of winter. I am one of the few that enjoy winter but at the end of January I can't help wonder when the heck it's going to end! February brings the realization that we have a way to go...maybe that is why ground hog day comes at the beginning of this month. People in years past needed some sign that the end was in sight so they came up with ground hog day! For me it is much more enjoyable to have to look for the subtle signs than to wait for the more obvious in April.

Well, when I look outside I see the buds forming on the trees - albeit they are covered in ice right now. I see more and more flocks of geese heading north. The sun seems just a bit more powerful. I think I notice this about the sun because sometimes I have felt moments that I am literally "soaking up the sun." The ground is frozen in the morning but by the end of the day it has begun to soften. If you sit on a westerly facing slope, you will notice a distinct warm spot where the snow melts first. Or at least I think they are westerly facing! The seed catalogs start arriving although I have only ordered from them a couple of times in the past. They remind me that I should start thinking about starting planting my pepper seeds in pots. The birds spend a bit more time singing...hoping for a mate I guess.

I think these signs of spring and hopes for the summer are one of the things that I like best about living in an area that has distinct seasons. I definitely would miss winter if I lived in Florida, yet I would go crazy living in a place that never got really hot. For now I will just sit back and enjoy these subtle signs of the coming change.


I think there are some adults who have confused having high expectations for kids with simply being mean. Yesterday my daughters were home from school because they had a snow day and Erin's AP Biology teacher sent an email out to the kids to assign them a whole bunch of work to do on their surprise day off. At the end she made a sarcastic joke about how they should enjoy their day off. She more than likely would disguise her request as having high expectations for her AP students. None of the other AP teachers sent out emails. I have high expectations for my kids and they have been very successful so far...but I am not mean. I wonder if this teacher will ever mature enough to learn there is a difference?