Monday, October 25, 2010

Family Traditions

I was taught growing up that family traditions were important. These rituals were part of the family dynamic and sacred glue that bounded us all together at certain times of the year. We did particular things, ate select foods and spent quality time as a collective. Everyone in the family knew these traditions and followed them accordingly. The only time a change in plan took place was at the discretion of the family matriarch, my grandmother.

Everyone knew where holidays were held. Grandma was not only the home base, but the director and the cook as well. Her kitchen schedule would dictate when people ate, carved the pumpkin, passed out the presents, searched for the eggs, twirled the sparklers, etc.... And happily, we all followed her lead.

It was never the same when she passed. The family traditions started to fade. The gatherings became infrequent. Her fabulous meals ceased to be. Those of us left behind were struggling to fill the void left by such a strong woman.

As a mother, I knew it was important to have traditions. It provides routine and scared glue for a family, especially with everyone scattered around the country. So, I held fast to the things Grandma taught me. I cooked the food, hid the eggs, bought the sparklers and pumpkins and made sure that every tradition was celebrated to the best of my ability. I am sure Grandma would be proud.

Also, I took it one step farther. I created new traditions within my own family. They include some of these.....
  • Friday is pizza night.
  • Playing games as a family is good.
  • We watch the Super Bowl and eat pizza & wings while critiquing the commercials.
  • We try to camp every summer.
  • Everyone gets a new ornament every Christmas.
  • The Macy's parade is a must on Thanksgiving morning and so is heading out into the cold on Black Friday.
  • We each have a creation story and our own theme song.
  • We take care of Santa and the reindeer every Christmas Eve with snacks.
  • We root for the Cleveland Browns.
  • We sing Michael Jackson songs.
And now a new one has been added....
  • We love roller coasters!
I grew up going to a local amusement park named Geauga Lake. I had great times there and anticipated returning year after year. Every chance to ride the Big Dipper made me happier and happier. I loved the roller coasters there, but my world was forever changed when I went to Cedar Point for the first time. It was there that I thought I had died and awoken in roller coaster heaven. And, as every year passed and Cedar Point kept building bigger and better, my loyalty grew. Many people tested me taking me to other parks and claiming their park was better, but they were wrong. No matter where I went and what I rode, I still preferred the park on the pennisula in Ohio.

This weekend, I passed down that love to my kids. I had been waiting for all the stars to align and the opportunity to appear. I knew in my heart that this would be the year. The Rugratz were big enough and brave enough finally. The free time was on the calendar and the funds were in the bank. It was definitely a go.

My son was hooked off the first ride, but my daughter had to warm up a little. After a day at Cedar Point, I knew they shared my love. It was evident halfway through the day when the talk turned to next year. It was decided. Next year, we are coming for a whole weekend.

I think it is wonderful that now as part of our family dynamic and sacred glue is the riding of roller coasters at Cedar Point every year. What a fabulous and fun tradition!

Stay sweet 'n smile............................Mz.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Today was the day. Although I didn't know it when I woke up, four hours later after a really nice business meeting, I knew. It was time to make the journey to the pumpkin patch.

I have been scouting local stores and markets for white pumpkins for the past two weeks. Much to my chagrin, all I found was your typical orange pumpkin. Now, I like pumpkins in any color, but I have found that the glow from the orange inside flowing out of a white pumpkin to be to my favorite. And the year we first put them out, everyone else liked them too.

A few days ago, I saw the white pumpkins at a local farm and made that mental note to go back with my son. With the last two years before he becomes an adult, I try to makes sure we practice the family traditions that he may one day pass down to his own. And picking, carving and cleaning pumpkins is definitely a tradition I believe my future grandchildren will appreciate.

At the farm, it was a quick beeline to the white patch. We did browse the extra-large $20 orange pumpkins, but it was right back over to the white ones. It didn't take long to pick our favorites since the quality standard we have is just three rules. #1. It must stand up straight. #2. It must have a clear front/face area. #3. It must have a stem. After purchasing and loading them into the car it was off to home.

The new dilemma is figuring out what designs we use. Scary, silly, happy, angry, surprised.....there are so many choices. Maybe a picture or a saying? We have about a week to decide and then comes the slimy pumpkin guts with lots of seeds included.

I'll post pictures soon. Happy Pre-Halloween!

Stay sweet 'n smile............................Mz.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Light flowed...

Yesterday was the first day of my life.

To commence the very first day yesterday, I decided to do something I had been told to do by several knowledgeable people who have passed through my life including my former trainer. I decided to have breakfast.

Now, having breakfast may not seem like a big deal for some, but I have never really been an early morning eater. My best friend from back in the school days can attest that eating so early was not necessarily a good thing for me or the environment around me. I think I know why too.

I am a night owl. I think I was born a night owl. I remember being yelled at for not going to sleep as far back as two years old. I battled my mother for years until I developed stealthy techniques of playing in the dark or until my mom gave up and quit trying to enforce an unnatural sleep schedule. I remember listening to the golden age of radio and various shows on my clock radio after watching Johnny Carson on the television. I never understood why midnight was like daytime to me. And when the sun came up, I was ready for bed. The last thing I wanted to do was eat something as my body was ready to crash. Like a typical night owl, dinner was later than usual. That was just my life and my so-called circadian rhythm sleep disorder.

Anyways, I decided to break the mold yesterday and made breakfast to the delight of my teenage son. He was happy. I make breakfast every so often and he cherishes each time. So the morning started out with two happy campers....three if my old trainer only knew.

My next step in the rest of my life was going to the doctor. I haven't been in a while due to the lack of insurance, but the receptionist informed me they could get me in the same day and they had a new program for people like me. Wow, guess this day is getting better.

I was in for a bigger surprise when I found out that a couple of my prescriptions were free. Okay, Obama. I guess change is really good and comes with some perks aka blessings sometimes.

Later that day, I made contact with several people who have a positive place in my life. It felt like my positive attitude was being reinforced by fate. Over and over, I felt like life was actually working out. I could feel myself strengthen within like I gained more heart in the Legend of Zelda game. And then it happened....

I looked up. In the sky, it appeared. It felt like I was looking at one of the most amazing pictures. Up above, I saw the God rays. If you have ever seen them, you know how beautiful they are. They remind that of my place and purpose in this life and how small yet loved I am. Seeing the God rays yesterday was like getting a notice to shape up and enjoy every minute of it.

I agree. Time to let the light flow like it did yesterday.

Stay sweet 'n smile............................Mz.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Goodbye So Many

Today is the first day of the rest of my life. At least that is what they say. For me, I believe it needs to be. It needs to be a day of change. Time to throw out the all the things clouding my life and prepare for some internal sunshine. I am missing the warmth and vitality that use to shine outward from me. I wonder if aging is tarnishing me or stress is rusting me out. I know I need to put a stop to this pretty quick because I can hear the clock ticking. It is reminding me that I am finite. Time is running against me. I can picture the sands in an hourglass moving full speed taking my life force with them. Then, I pause and look at the calendar.

For the past several months, I have been tending to many things. It is my nature to have too much to do. I like
so many things, have so many projects and help so many people that sometimes I get lost in the mix. I have struggled for years with the so many this and the so many that. Now, it has grown to the so many these and the so many those. It is definitely time to cut back and down.

As a natural organizer and goal setter, you would think that this would be easy. No. Definitely not! It feels a little like hoarding or playing king of the hill with all my
so manys. Which do I let go and which ones get to stay?

Thank goodness I have skills. Skills to recognize that today needs to be the first day, that I have to set realistic limitations/goals and that self-motivation needs to flow through me like specialized bodily fluid that delivers the necessary energy for my internal sunshine to blaze ever so brightly.

Today, I promise myself to take that first step and decide what I want my life to look like and what I need to do to get there. It may be one small step, but a freeing one. And a goodbye to a weighted life and so many.

Stay sweet 'n smile............................Mz.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Sick in spirit

I have been chatting with the ex-husband since November. It was not something I ever imagine would happen. Our relationship ended on bad terms and the fallout was nuclear. I spent many years in fear and trying to heal. I put dating on hold and focused on kids, school and work while trying to reach internal peace. I was so happy when I realized I reached it and finally forgave him.

It had been almost twelve years. He had recently started talking to our daughter and was asking to speak to me. Initially, my answer was no. Why would I want to open that can of worms? Although all the wounds were healed, the scars were still there. It took a while before I finally agreed.

His voice was the same. I recognized it immediately. I felt a rush of warm feelings like I had found an old object I loved from my childhood. All the years that had passed disappeared and it felt like we were back where we left off.

I knew something was wrong near the beginning of the conversation. It was him talking, but something was off. He was homeless, jobless and penniless. And after his first tirade, I realized he was worst off mentally then when I left. As he went about describing our past, his memories told of a life that never existed. Whole experiences were missing and people forgotten. It upset him and the paranoia began.

When I hung up the phone, I was in tears. I could not believe how bad his life had become. I cried hard. After all I went through with him, I still cared and loved him. I was so heartbroken.

We began talking on a regular basis. I wanted to know about his life. I have been working with homeless for twenty years and hoped my experience would be helpful. He did his odd jobs to pay his cell bill, went to the pantry for food and clothes and slept on the beach at night. He was near a VA in case he got sick or hurt. Shockingly, he described his life in such a fabulous way which included swimming everyday in the ocean. To him, life was good.

I saw another picture. His schizophrenia was in full force. The paranoid behavior was constant. He always thought I was spying or recording him. And although he would go to the VA, he felt the government was too involved in his life. He wanted to be free with no responsibilities and he was living that on the beach.

I tried to connect him to services. I even had him go to a shelter. Too often, he wouldn't follow through and he'd leave the shelter to go back to the beach. He would get arrested every so often because they did not want homeless on the beaches with tourists. Usually, the charges were dropped and he went back to the beach.

One thing I know about people with a mental illness like his is that it is common for them to self-medicate. That includes the use and abuse of substances. I knew he was when he could. Some alcohol or some marijuana might not affect others like it does for someone mentally ill. But for him, it was something to help deal with life and the world surrounding him.

Even with all that, I still cared about his well-being. I asked him to call me every week to let me know he was okay. I was afraid something would happen to him and no one would notice. Usually, I looked forward to his calls, except when he was having one of his angry episodes. Although his illness affected our conversations, the connection between us was still there.

Towards the end of April, his calls stopped. All his calls went to voice until his phone service was shut off. Everything inside me said something was wrong. I kept trying and checking facebook to see if he logged on. Nothing.

Monday, I woke up sick to my stomach. Every part of me said something was wrong. I started searching for him. I wanted to see if I needed to report him missing. Then, I found him. I searched the courts in his city and found that he had been arrested and was in jail. After reviewing his charges and jumping to the jail website, I saw his face. It was bad.

He must have had a verbal altercation with the police that escalated. In the end, he was beat up and arrested. When I saw the picture, my heart broke. He looked so bad.

I contacted his brother and his mother. Only his mother responded. She said he had told her I was helping him. She was happy I was tuned in and that she knew he would not take his medication. Although I know she loves him, it felt like she had made peace that her son is gone into his own world. I guess everyone has been through a lot with him. Maybe now they understood what I went through with him so long ago.

He is sitting in jail right now. His arraignment is next week. I don't know what will happen. Maybe this time, he won't be so lucky. I want to write the judge and see him get help, but I know he doesn't want it.

I spoke to a friend today. She knows us both. She had been exposed to his illness back when we were married. She told me to follow my conscience no matter what it said. She said I have to do what brings me peace with this since it is causing my soul to ache.

If he gets prison time, I don't know how he will do. His illness does not do well around people. His paranoia affects his behavior and how he interacts with others. I would not be surprised if he didn't make it. Life behind bars is not easy especially where he lives.

I spoke with the kids about him. They are not really interested in him. I think the initial novelty of him has worn off. Both have seen his illness over the phone and would rather not deal with him, especially our son. He said some hurtful things and caused me pain that has angered our son. Saying "Momma's baby, poppa's maybe" didn't help. So now the son he always wanted, doesn't want him. Although our daughter is more forgiving, she lacks the patience to really tolerate him either. It makes me feel blessed to have the kids' love since I see now how freely it is not given.

Tomorrow, I will will write him. I want him to know that I still care and love him. I will decide if I will write the judge and ask for his assistance in getting my ex help with his illness. My mind weighs heavy at this moment and I don't know what to do. In the meantime, I will pray and ask God to guide me to do what is best and needed. And maybe that sick feeling in my spirit will leave and I will actually have the chance to see the one time love of my life again.

Stay sweet 'n smile............................Mz.