Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Humbling Years

The humbling years...yes, I think my forties will be considered MY humbling years.  As I enter into my 50th year of living on this earth, I say good-bye to my forties.  Although I've always been one to feel that each obstacle, stumble, heartache, smile, laugh, and triumph are all part of my life's story, I think I shall be happy that my forties are over.  Not literally, but figuratively speaking. 

Ever since I can remember, I've had a feeling that I would not make it past my forties.  As I was reminded one day, when I made this declaration to some co-workers, a gal piped up and said, "well, you still have a year to go".  We laughed, but I was taken aback by her remark.  It was made as a joke...I think?!?!  But, I have thought on that quite often, and, as I normally do, wonder how many times I've made a remark not meaning to hurt anyone...that would not be in my nature, but just being misunderstood.  With that said, it's important, I think, to choose your words carefully and how those words are presented.  One of the biggest lessons for me is that I'm quite often misunderstood and I'm always alarmed when I've found out I've hurt someone and not even realized it.  Whooo...that has been a biggie! 

My forties, I've been personally tested in my family relationships.  I've been taken to task with things I've said or how I've said them.  I've learned the real meaning of family, and of course, friends.  I've realized it's okay to let go of relationships that are not healthy and I've realized that to have a friend you have to be a friend. 

Have I learned and grown through these years...YES!  Mostly, I've learned that I have a voice, that my feelings are real and should not be poo-pooed away.  I've learned that standing up for myself is where it's at, because no one is going to do it for you.  And, I've even learned that sometimes relationships aren't whole...and not because of me, but because of something in the other person.  One time, my son gently reminded me that a particular situation was not "about me".  He was absolutely correct.  I don't have to be responsible for everyone and their happiness or struggles.  Right then and there I made the conscious
decision that I can't take the blame for or hold the bag for every situation that occurs around me.  I don't have to fix everything. 

I'm more sensitive than I realized and that others won't know they've hurt me if I don't tell them.  And, I've realized that if they've hurt me, but aren't really on my radar of relationships I need to uphold, then it really doesn't matter.  AND, I've learned that others may have, and most assuredly do have, those same realities about me, too, and that's okay. 

I've always had a fondness for the past...cherish the stories shared through the generations.  But, this past 10 years and most definitely the past 5, I have a whole new eagerness to learn and get acquainted with my ancestors.  The who and where's.  I'm almost hungry for it.  One of my favorite quotes that shares space on a photo frame chalkboard is this:  "It is not that I belong to the past, but that the past belongs to me."  I have no idea who the author is, but it resounds within me.  I am my past and it me. 

The past...at one time, it may have been considered that I was running from it.  Not any more and certainly not for a long, long time.  I like who I am and where I came from.  My story, however crazy, happy, humbling it is, is mine to tell.  Have I told it well so far?  Will my children rise up and call me blessed?  As I said, my forties have been my humbling years.  I have far to go and I've already been walking for miles...

Maybe, my fear that I would die in my forties, is fact...not literally, but figuratively.  Will I take the lessons of the past and use them to enhance my future?  Will I continue to make the same mistakes...I sure hope not.  Will my path lead me to continue what's been right and good in my life?  I sure hope so. They certainly have a place in my reflections.  One can only move forward, righting wrongs, saying the I'm sorries, showing forgiveness and trying to be a blessing to others...in simple, ordinary, but quite possible life altering ways.

I think, the BIGGEST and most IMPORTANT thing for me, in the midst of all my ups and downs, struggles and triumphs, I've been reacquainted with ME...who I really am and what's been right all along in my life.  Sometimes, the perceived realities in our life can take hold and begin to "form" us.  In my case, I felt like they were suffocating me.  Then, at one of my class reunions a few years ago, one of my classmates said to me, "You were always the nicest girl that came over from Norwoodville"  Hmmm...I knew I wasn't the most popular, smartest, prettiest or athletic, but, someone thought I was the "nicest".  Now really, what's so bad about that?  That one comment reminded of a past relationship I had with someone and a comment she said to me.  She accused me of being "too nice."  How can one be too nice?  TOO NICE, Really?

So, as I round out my forties and head straight into my 50th year...I think I shall continue to be nice, I think that's a great thing to be called.  I will reflect on the trials, tests and tribulations of my past, just to be reminded of who I really am and want to be.  A nice person who cares about her family, friends, acquaintances and community at large.  To carry with me that "kindness should not be mistaken for weakness" and to make this world...mine and yours, a little better place to be.  And INSPIRE you to do the same.  Ahhhh, the humbling years.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Grandma made sure...

It's Christmas time and my thoughts return, once again, to my Grandma Grace.  She was very special to not only me, but to my whole family.  We were loved and accepted...no holds barred.  Her love was unconditional and you most definately felt loved and wanted and I'm pretty darn sure I'm not the only grandchild who felt this.  And, I'd be surprised if her own children or extended family didn't feel this same way.

Grandma has been gone for 21 years and to this day, I head to the phone to call and tell her about something that has happened.  I stop short of the phone and remember.  I miss her every day of my life.

When my birthday comes around, it's her card I long to find in the mailbox.  Always appreciative of the other cards I receive, quite frankly, non compare.  Please don't get me wrong...it's just that my Grandma was just that special to me and continues to be so to this day.

She was blessed with 7 children and many grandchildren. If my memory serves me correctly, at her death, she had 26 grandchildren.  There were several added and now, the greats and great-greats have been added.  She would have loved that!

I mention this because, at this time of year...Christmas, she never once left anyone out of a gift.  AND, to this day, although I'm appreciative of the gifts I receive, and the givers, non means as much to me as hers did.  It's her gift that I miss receiving to this day.

Now, her gifts were not over-the-top, expensive or one-of-a-kind gems.  No, hers were simple, everyday useful things.  Maybe a pair of gloves, socks, underpants.  Actually, now that I think about it, I don't really recall what we did get.  So, you see, the gifts were not the kind worthy of antiquity.  No, hers were symbolic of the joy of giving and making sure everyone had "something" to open...her never ending way of making sure we were all included and accepted.  LOVED!

A few times, I know others had to pinch hit for her.  I got to step in a couple of times myself.  It was pure joy to get to do this!  Socks for the boys...I remember socks for the boys.  For some reason, this is what I remember.  And, everything was wrapped as well.

One of the traditions that she had was each of the grandkids (at least us older ones) got a pair of red flannel pajamas or nightgown on our 2nd Christmas.  She made them herself.  This was one tradition I wanted to incorporate into my gift giving, but, I've fallen from "Grace" on that one.  AND, I only have one grandchild.  Mind you, she had several
grandchildren... boom, boom, boom.  A very prolific family.

She was a special lady to many.  Family first, neighbors and friends.  We were loved and accepted...no holds barred.  Her love was unconditional and you most definately felt loved and wanted.  I can only hope to be half of the grandmother she was to me.