Sunday, July 28, 2013

Quote For The Week

Another quote from my favorite person Bob Marley. A wise man--

"The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively."
Bob Marley

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Living life like a Gypsy

My life has been lived like a gypsy. The longest I've ever lived in one place, is when I was a child growing up in California. I was born in a small town in Northern California and lived there until I was fourteen years old.
 My parents divorced when I was five years old, I bounced back and force between parents, which were two hours away from one another. My mom had remarried and when her second marriage didn't work out she decided to move out of state. This was the first time I had been outside of California. It was summer when we moved, we finally arrived in Utah after a two day trip in a Uhaul truck with my mom, brother, and our cat "spooks," I felt as if I was in a foreign country. I was naive enough at my young age to assume all of the United States looked like California. The first thing I noticed was the mountains and they were everywhere. I was feeling claustrophobic. As beautiful as the mountains were I felt as if I couldn't breath, I was surrounded by mountains. I struggled not being able to see anything but mountains and it took me a few years to adapt to them. The people here looked like barbie dolls compared to the casual natural, liberal, hobby look, I was use to in California. Everyone was more into fashion, make up, their hair. I even got caught up in the whole make up and hair thing during my High School years; Couldn't get my hair big enough. Thank you, Aqua Net! Utah has a language all its own with a country slang I had never heard before. Using words, such as, "sluff," which, meant to "ditch" school, and "Oh my Heck," which was the Utah's version of "Oh my God." I was teased for talking to proper and pronouncing my "ing." In Utah they ended their words with "in."( For example, "nothing" would be "nothin.") Utah was a much more conservative state, not the liberal views I was use to in California. Moving to Utah was the first of many moves; I was yet to understand the chain reaction it would create.

 As fast as I made friends was how fast we were packing and moving to the next town. Every town and school was a different experience. I hung around the jocks and cheerleaders in one school, and the "parking lot crew"(the stoners) in the next school. I never had the same two experiences. I quickly learned how different people were depending on where they lived. I experienced all kinds of attitudes from people, and learned how being the new girl could be a good thing or bad thing depending on where we lived, and how judgmental and ignorant people could be. I was judged for being new, coming from a single parent home, not having enough money, not being churchy enough or for being to nice. We moved to seven different towns, and a third failed marriage before my mom finally settled in a small town in Southern Utah.  I went to five different Elementary schools, two different middle schools, and four different High Schools.

 After High School I couldn't wait to move out . I was the typical 18 year old who thought I knew everything. I was ready for my own adventures. I left to be a Nanny in New York. I left the day after my High School graduation.  I couldn't have left fast enough.  I shared this experience with a couple of High School friends, who decided to be Nannies also and it was amazing!  I met a lot of wonderful people and had an experience of a lifetime. It was very liberating and for the first time I was questioning everything. I didn't have my mom there telling me what to do, the decisions I made were mine to make! I loved the freedom, I felt so carefree, as if the world was ALL mine! My favorite memories were the times I went into Manhattan, such as, walking in Central Park, jumping on the giant piano in FAO Swartz, walking down Time Square and taking pictures with President Reagan and other card board life size images of celebrities we would see on the sidewalks, Seeing the "BIG" screen at the diagonal of Time Square was memorizing and watching the Macy's Thanksgiving parade was unforgettable. I can't forget a taxi running over my foot in front of Macy's. I wasn't hurt just stunned. Don't get in those taxis way! Going to "SOHO" and buying my first imitation "guess" watch from a guy selling them on the street. I wanted to experience something crazy and that was my crazy. Going on a night cruise on the Hudson river and going under the Brooklyn Bridge was amazing. I attempted to stand in line to take the ferry over to see the lady herself(The Statue of Liberty), but being the impatient teenager I was after four hours of standing in line I gave up. Regretfully, not seeing her or the "Twin Towers" are the things I wish I had visited while I was there. After "9/11" I regretted it even more. I went on a church camping trip with friends and while we were sitting and talking on a floating dock in the middle of the lake we saw a man drown and come back to life with the help of stranger at the lake who preformed CPR. Yes, It is lifesaving! Friends and I would always get together at a place called, "Friendly's"(ice cream parlor). I have never seen ice cream served as big as Friendly's. The servings were so huge we all shared one ice cream and still couldn't finish it. The best ice cream I've ever had.

I went on vacations with the family I nannied for. We drove the East Coast and it was astonishing. I toured historical homes in Rhode Island,  and picnicked in Massachusetts, but the most memorable of them all was seeing all the transvestites in Cape Cod. Talk about an eye opening experience for me! I would try to imagine them without their makeup and how they looked as a guy. Coming from Utah I was in shock that these woman were men and at the same time in awwh, that some of them were prettier than the real girls. Oh, did they know how to work it! They walked with more of a shake than any girl I had ever seen and with such attitude. They dressed in high heels, short mini skirts, and sleazy tank tops. Some were even flapping around feathers around there necks. Lots of caked on make up and big long hair. I couldn't help but stare. I never saw anything like this before, but I remember I loved the reggae music that was playing. There was a different band all along Cape Cod and people dancing everywhere. We stayed the night in a little bed and breakfast and ate at this little seafood restaurant along the ocean. If, I had liked seafood it would of been a great experience. It was suppose to be the best in town and we had a long wait to get a table just for me to have my cheeseburger and fries. My employers were shaking their heads as if I was missing out on something terrific, but to me it was all wonderful. The next morning we took the ferry over to Nantucket and stayed for a weekend. It was breathtaking. I tanned on the beach and listened to the Atlantic ocean waves peacefully roll in at night. The streets were made of cobblestone and everyone got around by moped. We took an excursion to watch the whales and the only thing I ended up watching was the captains son who was guiding the sails on the boat. He couldn't be much older than me at the time and he was gorgeous. I can't even remember if we saw any whales that day or not, but I remember talking to him and sailing on the boat.

Some friends and I even managed to drive up to the famous "West Point Academy" and tour their campus and attend  their weekend dances. The men were so proper in their white uniform and clean cut look. The boys would come talk to me and I got all shy and was scared to talk to them, A dead give away of how naive I still was. I look back now and think, Wow! I was a stupid little girl.

This was the first time that I was able to think for myself and not believe something because it was what I was told to believe my entire life. I started questioning religion and wanted to know which one was true. I did a lot of soul searching while I was a Nanny. My employers were jewish and I learned to have a great respect for the jewish religion, they enjoyed teaching me their faith and I enjoyed learning about it. I studied more intensely into the mormon and catholic religion, I talked to a monk who explained Buddhism to me and was impressed with their teachings. Pretty much any religion I could think of I studied. I came to the conclusion that there were things I liked and didn't like with all of them. There isn't one certain religion I believed 100%, but I did learn they all believe in love, faith, peace, family and a Higher Being. They all believe in us as individuals becoming the best person we can become.  Ultimately everyone is trying to return to the same place we are all just traveling down different roads. We just need to find the path that fits are lifestyle and needs.

My experience being a Nanny was one of the best things I ever did. I saw so much. It was a time in my life to discover me. I have cherished these memories and will never forget them. I hope someday to take my family their and let them experience New York also.

It wasn't until after my time in New York when I ventured into my life of adulthood, that I realized how much the instabilities of my childhood had affected my decision making as an adult.  I started college and dropped out of college several times. I kept moving around because I couldn't figure out where or what I wanted to be. I got bored with jobs and didn't like being stuck in the same routine every day. Working a job longer than a year, it seemed I should be moving and doing something new, but I didn't know what I was looking for.  It took me several years after I was married to realize I was repeating the same choices my mom had made, and I married a person who grew up the same way; neither one of us knew how to be settled. In my adult life I continued moving around. So far,  in my Eighteen years of marriage we have lived in six different places and three different states, this time following my husbands jobs. We have never lived in one place longer than five years during our married life.  I've tried my best to keep my children settled, but life circumstances have kept us moving around and I saw myself becoming resentful again. Hating my adult life because it didn't follow the path I had imagined I would be taking.

 I hit my rock bottom the day my husband told me we needed to move for the seventh time and once again start over. I was getting to old for this.  My kids weren't little anymore. I was tired of moving, and all the packing and having to get rid of belongings. At this very moment I realized I had the power to change my life.  I could tell him no and refuse to go and finally settle down, or I could accept we will always have to move around for his job and go with him. I couldn't take starting over again. The decision now was to stay married or not to stay married; with this empowering new enlightenment I felt a big weight lifted from me. I didn't have to go!!

I anxiously talked to the kids one day while my husband was gone and expressed my concern about moving again and having to start over. Having my kids best interest at heart I thought they would be thrilled to hear we didn't have to go with daddy and we could stay, they were always complaining about us moving anyways, but to my surprise when I told them we didn't have to move anymore and could settle down they didn't want to stay if it meant not being a family and their dad would be somewhere else; at this very moment I learned the value of family. It didn't matter where we lived, or how we lived what mattered was that we lived it together as a family. Then it hit me! I could remain angry and be miserable the rest of my life, or I could change my attitude and see the good in all this. For one, I had a hard working husband that provides for us four healthy children, and we were getting to travel and see more places then most people get to do.

It's been good and bad not being settled. My family has experienced a lot of different cultures and met a lot of different people each one with a story to share and something to give. There has been a lesson to learn every place we have lived for either myself, my husband or my children. I wouldn't trade the memories I've shared with my family for anything. I've met wonderful people and made some lifetime friends. I talk to people who have never left the town they were born in and I think to myself how sad it is they will never know what else is out there. Moving around can be hard and sometimes devastating, but it can also be very rewarding. I hated my mom as a child for moving me around and I've resented my husband for moving us around and choosing a career that doesn't keep us settled, but when I changed my attitude to see the positive in all of it and everything I was learning every time we moved I don't regret any of it. This brings me to one of my favorite quotes:

" Be a traveler, not a tourist. Try new things, meet new people, and look beyond what's right in front of you. Those are the keys to understanding this amazing world we live in." Andrew Zimmern

I finally did finish school, but like my life it took me a while, when I did I walked a way with a Cosmetology license, Medical Assisting Certificate, and two separate Associates Degree's. Everyone teases me with all the education I've gotten I should have my Master's Degree. I don't have a Master's Degree on paper, but I have earned it in life, with every journey I have been on, every road I have traveled, through my husband, my parents, my children, my friends and every person I have encountered,  through laughter and tears, trials and tribulations, I've had a lifetime of learning and I continue to learn everyday.

So, now I prepare with my family to start another journey in our gypsy lives and I look forward to what I will see, experiences I will have, people I will meet, and memories I will make together with my family. I know my life isn't an easy one or for that matter a normal one, but it's always an interesting one.

It's all about how you handle life situations and the challenges that are thrown in front of you. You can become hateful, angry, and bitter, or you can see the positive in every situation and the lesson to learn, this is what determines the integrity, dignity, and character of your soul.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Quote For The Week

"Every day, a new opportunity to decide where your next step will go is given to you. Your future will be determined by the accumulation of these daily decisions. You control your steps and therefore your destiny, so choose wisely."
Kevin Ngo

Monday, July 15, 2013

Quote For The Week

"Take risk: if you win, you will be happy; if you lose, you will be wiser."

Monday, July 8, 2013

Quote For The Week

This week was a tough one. Having to say Good-bye to my oldest son and his new bride gave me the inspiration to say Good-bye to a lot of things. I spring cleaned my house and got rid of things I was hanging onto for years, wondering why I found them so important and realized they no longer served their purpose. The materialistic things I thought were so irreplaceable are nothing compared to a child. I was finally able to allow myself to get rid of clutter and memorabilia that I've been hauling all over the country for years. Having to see a child leave his family nest to start his own family was the hardest thing to date I've had to do, and it made me realize the things I placed so important and irreplaceable ARE replaceable, I was finally able to let them go.This week I didn't only say Good-bye to my son as he moves on with his life. I was also able to say Good-bye to a lot of my past and move on also. Needless to say I'm having a huge yard sale!  I find this quote fitting for this week. I hope you find it inspirational too--

"Parents rarely let go of their children, so children let go of them. They move on. They move away. The moments that used to define them- a mother's approval, a father's nod, are covered by moments of their own accomplishments. It is not until much later, as the skin sags and the heart weakens, that children understand; their stories, and all their accomplishments, sit atop the stories of their mothers and fathers, stones upon stones, beneath the waters of their lives."
 Mitch Albom, The Five People You Meet in Heaven

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Cutting Those Apron Strings

"Parents rarely let go of their children, so children let go of them. They move on. They move away. The moments that used to define them- a mother's approval, a father's nod, are covered by moments of their own accomplishments. It is not until much later, as the skin sags and the heart weakens, that children understand; their stories, and all their accomplishments, sit atop the stories of their mothers and fathers, stones upon stones, beneath the waters of their lives."
 Mitch Albom, The Five People You Meet in Heaven

When I started having children my life ended as I knew it and my children became my life. Days of no sleep, nursing sick children, cleaning up puke, performing first aid on endless cuts, scrapes and bruises, yelling and arguing, sadness, laughter and love, many talks and sometimes just listening, being chauffeur to many play dates, sports, sleepovers, and misc. events. The list goes on and on when you become a parent.

With each one of my children I couldn't wait for my baby to crawl, walk, talk, make friends, start school, become a teenager(Beware-Parents do not always look forward to these years), have their first date, get their drivers license, get their first job, graduate from High School, College, moving out of the house, and finally finding the one they want to marry. Always wanting them to grow up, then sorry when they do. You would think when we already know the outcome, it would be easy to let our child go. We should be kicking them out the minute they turn of legal age, patting ourselves on the back and going on a well deserved vacation!

Our lives as parents are so secure when our children our young. We are still in control. Teaching our children, giving advice and paving the path for them to take. Still being able to correct their mistakes and turning every bad situation into a lesson for them to learn. We are there for them, not missing a second of their lives, building a nest of security for them.

The day when your child graduates from High School is one of the proudest days in a child's life. A milestone stating their childhood is complete and their willingness to start their adulthood while they still know everything has started.

I remember watching my son graduate from High School. One of the proud moments of his life and of mine. A sense that I did alright as a parent. College was his next step and he would be leaving soon after his High School graduation, which, made this special day  bitter/sweet. I prepared the whole time being a parent teaching this child to be successful in life and now I was having to put faith in my own teachings and trust I taught him enough, so he will be able to go out in the world and be a successful, functional young adult; Understanding he will have challenges in life and I won't always be there for him, not because I don't want to be there, but because I know he isn't going to share things with me like when he was young.

The day my son left home for college was a sobering one. I'm excited to see what kind of adult he will be and what life has in store for him, but sad my baby is growing up and his childhood is nothing but pictures in photo albums and memories now. Finally, understanding that stage in our lives is over, is an emotional one. I wanted to hold him and never let him go, but at the same time I could see his excitement, his anxiety, his longing for self independence to move on and become his own person, this only reminded me of the day I left home and I knew I had to let him go.

It wasn't long until he was to busy for family gatherings. "Can't take off work, or "have to much homework to do," were his famous words for everything. Our family learned to do things without him; sadly after a while it was normal to not have him around. For the first time I began to understand why my mom and grandparents got so excited for the holidays. The day you will have ALL your family home with you. Life hadn't gotten to busy he didn't want to be home for the holidays and I was going to take full advantage of it. I started to look forward to when college was out and I knew he would be home. I decorated to impress him and made sure all his childhood memories and favorite decorations were sitting out around the house, so we could reminisce about them later. The holidays were no longer about making it fun, but cherishing the time I had all my children home.

I wanted to know everything while he was home. How he was doing in school? Friends? Girlfriends? How his life was going? I wanted him to tell me everything like he use too. He would answer my questions, but I could feel a sense of coolness, he was to old to share these answers with his mother and he acted like it was awkward; maybe I was being a bit nosey. I realize now it's harder for the parent when a child becomes an adult, than it is for the child. It hurts to see the closeness slipping away, I am not the main person in his life anymore. When he was growing up he depended on me for everything, now he depends on his friends.  I saw it slowly happening, just like it did for me and my parents when I became an adult. He was becoming independent. I had always thought in the back of my mind It would never happen to me! I was going to be the "Cool" parent, I was his "BFF." I kept up on all the latest technology to not become old fashion. Foolish enough to think time would stop for me.

His High School sweetheart went to college with him. I gave them their freshman year before they would break up;  to my amazement they found a way to make it last. Pretty soon, he was bringing her home for the holidays, it wasn't just him anymore. Really? I didn't even get my holidays with him anymore. I had to share!  His girlfriend was a very nice girl, but I saw him turning to her more than to me and this was a new stage for us. One I wasn't sure I wanted to get use too. My first reaction was to yell at him and tell him he was to young to have a serious relationship. I wanted to ground him and send him to his room until I realized he was in college, living on his own, in his twenties and he was completely acting his age. As a mother the hardest thing to do is to welcome another girl into your son's life, to come to terms with the realization I won't be the only girl in his life anymore.

By his Senior year of College the "BIG" day came when he told me he wanted to ask his girlfriend to marry him. We talked for hours it seemed. I think secretly I was hoping to talk him out of it for my own selfish reasons, but knowing in my heart it would never happen I had to accept it and let him move on.  I felt very honored when he chose me to go with him to pick her engagement ring. It was a moment I will always cherish. I knew the whole time we were looking at rings this would probably be the last real mother/son time we would have before he started his next journey. We went to all the jewelry stores in town before we found the perfect ring for this special girl he had chosen to make his wife. I couldn't help but keep staring at my little boy, this is when I realized my son had truly become a man.

He proposed to her like a perfect gentleman with honor respecting her enough to ask her father for her hand in marriage first. Her parents were so excited. They gave him their blessing and anxiously waited for two weeks before their daughter called and told them she was getting married. Her parents later told us everytime she would call and not say anything they got nervous that my son had changed his mind. When she finally called to let them know my son had proposed they were ecstatic. The next time we saw them she was wearing her ring. It looked gorgeous on her and my son was proud to show it off to us. I smiled and hugged them both still thinking in the back of my head these kids were to young, but realizing I was only two years older than them when I got married.The only thing I asked of my son before he went to college was to not get married until he had finished college and had something to offer a wife and a family and he did exactly what I had asked so, how could I be upset. He respected me as a parent to listen, so I had to respect him that he knew what he was doing.

Soon we had his college graduation. What an honor to share this experience with him, and, of course his fiance. I was getting use to the fact that she was part of our family now. We had gained another daughter. All my other children loved her. My younger son even had a little crush on her and was devastated when his brother asked her to marry him, because he wanted to marry her when he was all grown up. I remember during his graduation I was looking all around to see him so I could give him a hug and put a lei around him and congratulate him. When I saw him he hugged me, I could see he was happy I was there, but his eyes were wandering as he asked where "SHE" was. He was looking for his fiance, not me. This was devastating! I called her down and graciously handed her my lei to have her put around my son and I took their picture. The way he looked at her I could see the love in these young kids eyes. I look at this picture almost everyday to remind me I will always be his mother, but his adulthood life will be shared with her. When I see the love in their eyes I know everything is the way it's suppose to be.

Exactly a month after his college graduation we were sitting at his wedding. This day was a surreal moment for me. I was there, but it felt like I was dreaming it. My baby was getting married. There was no turning back now. This boy I loved and invested so much of my life into was now going to share his life with someone else. I was being pushed to the sidelines. It felt so unfair, and so out of my control. Doing the right thing can be SO hard sometimes.  I will merely become the holiday parent and occasional phone call. I won't even get the holidays anymore I will have to share the holidays with her family now, I've never spent a christmas without him. This is going to be new territory for me. I won't be the person he counts on, shares his secrets with, asks advice, I can't kiss his "boo, boo's" anymore and tell him everything will be alright. She will now be who he turns too, which, is how it should be, this parenting stuff is getting a lot harder than I thought it would be.  I've decided raising him was easy, the biggest challenge has been letting him go.

After his wedding my son and his new bride came to stay with us while they waited for the day to come they were leaving for Hawaii, this is where they decided to start their lives together as a married couple.  I cherished every day I had with him. I dreaded going to bed knowing when I woke up it was one less day we had left with him. He spent a lot of time with his siblings. I could see them rebuilding their relationships again and they flocked around my son, as if, he was a celebrity. They went to movies, played games and sat in their rooms talking for hours making memories. I cooked all his favorite dinners and foods for him. I enjoyed being able to cook for him once more. I had my whole family at the table again, but this time we had an addition to the family. She fit right in with our crazy, dysfunctional family.

 I kept going over thoughts in my mind did I do everything I wanted to do with him? Then, I remembered we never went to Disneyland! Ever since he was 8 years old I kept telling him we would go to Disneyland and we never did. How could I have let that slip by? How could I have forgotten to take him? Right then, I wanted to cry. I failed as a mother. I forgot to take him to Disneyland. All these years gone by and he never said a word to me about it. I wonder when he gave up on going? What kind of mother was I? My next family vacation will be to Disneyland and I will make sure he can come! The rest of the week I wanted to bring it up and talk to him about it, but I was so ashamed of myself I couldn't say the words, instead I watched silently from a distance and took a lot of family pictures trying to cram everything into one week. My house was full and I loved it!

The day finally came when we had to say Good-bye. I had so much I wanted to say and yet the ride to the shuttle they would take to the airport was silent. I was scared if I said anything I was going to break down and cry. I had to remain strong I was the Mother, I could tell he was having a hard time saying Good-bye, so I couldn't break down. For the first time in my life I had no control over him. I couldn't stop him from leaving. I couldn't ground him or make him stay.  I just wanted to hold him and never let him go, but I had to graciously bow down and let him go. This was his time, the future is new for him, unexplored, so many dreams he is making with his wife and challenges they will face together, they deserved to have their turn. The day every parent dreads had finally come for me. Wanting to tell him not to leave, but knowing I couldn't. I tearfully hugged him and saw his face looking at me wanting reassurance he was doing the right thing. I smiled at him and nodded and told him he will do great. He smiled and I knew things were just as they were suppose to be. I told him I loved him and I watched him leave.

We followed their shuttle on the freeway as far as the exit to our home. I quietly said Good-bye one last time to the boy I remember as I saw the shuttle disappear knowing the next time I saw him he wouldn't be the boy, but a man with his own family and responsibilities, he had entered into adulthood.  The ride home I felt nauseous and torn. There is a void in my heart now where someone is missing. I don't like it, but I accept it, not because I want to only because I know that is how life was intended to be. We all grow up and move on, we all have our turn being children, teenagers, adults, spouse, parent, and grand-parent. I can't change that. This is how the world works. I will admit the thought that I only have being a grandparent left is pretty depressing.

When we got home and I walked in the house nothing in my house looked the same, I found my eyes wandering straight to the family pictures hanging on the wall. I didn't care about the couch I had to have and insisted we buy. I didn't care about the computer I saved months to buy or the vase I spent way to much money on so it would match my couch. I cared about the pictures on my wall.  When I walked into the family room and saw my three other children. I stopped and stared at them. They feel asleep watching T.V. waiting for us to come home. I went over to them after taking a few pictures and embraced each one of them, kissing them on the cheek; understanding the day will come when I will have to cut those apron strings and tell them Good-bye too, but it's not this day.