For an extremely long time, I have believed good or bad, right or wrong, people create every facet of their lives. Probably since the age of eighteen or nineteen, I've held this belief close to my heart. As strange as it sounds to most folks, that's about the time I became a Scientologist. (I believe most of my blogger friends already know this about me.) Not just a member of the church, but a staff member as well. Scientology is big on taking responsibility for your own actions, and even though I left the church for many personal reasons (having nothing to do with the church), I never gave up my belief in the principles and basic laws of living I learned then.
So, no one was more surprised than myself when I came to the realization last week that I have not been taking complete responsibility for my actions or my life. If my marriage began to wane, my brain said, "Oh, it's not your fault, Darling. Your husband is a mild dick in even the best of times." Or if my relationship became strained with my daughter, I would say under my breath, "Teen angst. It can't last forever."
Even with my health, I would give these half-hearted tries at living better only to find myself being comforted by potato chips once again. I would exercise less, and less, until finally I wasn't exercising at all and I would tell myself, "Everyone in your family has a weight problem, Darling. Why should you break the mold? You're fighting genetics and you're a good person. You like food. It isn't a crime. Double chins up, keep your head held high, and be Supermom and Mrs. Clean all in one. Forget about all the rest of this vain nonsense."
I do hold conversations with myself quite often and I'm quite glad that I do as without them, I wouldn't ever have any great epiphanies to life. I also like to refer to myself as "Darling," but it's such a romantic old school term of endearment, I just rather like it.
To make a long story a bit longer, I asked myself what was my purpose in life. When my knee-jerk responses of, "To mother, to be a good wife, to live an ethical life," came up to the top of my brain, I would counter with, "What is your intention in being a mother? In being a wife? In living ethically?" I really began asking myself very hard, very tough, and very intimate questions, but that's where the stuff of breakthroughs resides.
When I broke down all the components of my life, I could see not only how, but why I was falling short. For example, anyone can "mother" a child ... feed it, clothe it, get it off to school, play with it, and sing to it, but what was my intention for my relationship with my children? Why did I argue with my teen daughter? Why did my son become a buffer for life's ills?
The same went for my marriage. "To be a good wife" translates to being able to feed a husband, take care of his things at home, and all that, but where was the feelings? What was my intention for being a wife and for my marriage? If I'm doing these things, but secretly seething inside, how was that helping us? My crude one-liners at a time of feeling hurt instead of just saying, "I really feel hurt right now and this is why ..."
This new approach kept trickling down until I even looked at the reasons I stopped being a long distance runner and started to gain weight. My intention for losing weight in the past was never truly for health or to run a marathon, but to look stunning in jeans. Once you look stunning in jeans, once you've made that goal (if you even do), what's left? WHY did you want to look stunning in jeans? Because you thought being thin would make your marriage magically become picture-perfect, or your life in general? And when it doesn't, guess what? You start running less, eating more, etc., and so forth. At least, that's what I did.
I've done a complete overhaul of my purpose in life. I ask myself what are my gifts for the world, my intention for every action, and especially in my relationships. I am 36-years-old and I finally beginning to really become happy, not just content. Yes, I am running again, eating well, hydrating myself, and all that, but the reasons for my actions make them all seem necessary to a good life instead of mundane chores of existence.
In one week, every relationship in my house has changed and improved because I have improved and changed. I finally understand and practice, "Be the change you want to see in the world." And since I've become so fascinated with the topic, if any of you get a chance, maybe you could share with me your purpose in this life, the gifts you want to share with the world, your intentions in relationships and such. I think it would make for some interesting blog reading.
The weather has taken a turn for the worse ... for the disastrous, actually. Every person I encountered in the beginning of January was flying high from the temperatures being in the 50's ... the 60's ... and yes, even the 70's. "Global warming is awesome," became the new mantra in upstate NY. Awesome, yes, but normal? Not really. Usual temperatures linger in the 30's around this time of year.
Then the freezing rain hit. Days of it. Lines were down. People without power. Trees covered in a thick layer of ice strewn across my long driveway and across my dead end street. Strangely enough, school stayed open with only two hour delays. I couldn't resist slipping and sliding around in the great outdoors to take pictures on my camera phone. None of which I can really use since they don't send or print, which is another subject all by itself.
Now the cold snap is in effect. Temperatures SO frigid, wind chills SO dangerous, the schools actually did close. Apparently, letting your children stand in this weather with the possibility of becoming human popsicles is not a good thing. And it IS cold here. Real cold. The kind of cold where you step outside, take a deep breath, and feel your snot freeze up, but I'm not sure if it was more safe to let children wait for the bus with frozen trees and power lines falling down around them, but alas, I am not the superintendent.
This brings us to yesterday ... I woke up later than usual (due to kids being at home) and felt cold right through to the bone. I looked at the thermostat and it was fifty degrees. The fire was out, a hair dryer sat on my kitchen counter, a portable heater was plugged in, and the front door was OPEN about 5". This is an unusual morning sight.
I was so baffled, I called my husband's cell phone (which of course he didn't answer as he was working), and left a message of: "Did you get hungry while drying your hair so eat during the process? Did you think a 750 watt heater would heat better than the wood stove? Were you so pressed for time, you didn't have time to shut the door after you?"
Turns out the hair dryer was due to frozen pipes. He had no idea the door was open, but said it was so cold in the house (well, duh ... don't bother checking where the 20 below breeze is coming from) that he also plugged in a portable heater. All of this just makes my daughter say, "Central heat." We don't use a furnace. We heat our whole home entirely with wood and since we live in a forest, we heat our entire home for free. In the old days, I had to keep the thermostat temp down and freeze my arse off while still paying high heating bills. Now it's about 80 degrees in my home and it's free (when the doors are shut).
I like warm and I love free even more, so I don't see central heat in my near future. And unfortunately, I don't see a day above the freezing mark in my future either. Well, I will just stay in ... sit by the fire, listen to my pug snore beside me and my children bickering over the computer in the next room. All I need now is the mug of hot chocolate.
Everyone has heard about the Shawn Hornbeck abduction by now, but in case you don't watch or read the news -- 11-year old Shawn Hornbeck was abducted over four years ago by Michael Devlin. Devlin also kidnapped Ben Ownby, a 13-year old from a small town in Missouri just a few days ago. I repeat, a SMALL town, proving this happens everywhere and no one is safe.
I've watched an interview with Shawn Hornbeck. The once 11-year old is now fifteen. I couldn't help but see my own son sitting there. I wept through most of it. I can't imagine what Shawn went through or what he's feeling, but you know it isn't good.
This it what gets me, Ben Ownby was taken just FIFTY FEET FROM HIS HOME AFTER GETTING OFF THE SCHOOL BUS. He wasn't dawdling, wasn't hanging out by himself, or bird watching. The second he got off the bus, Devlin was waiting with a handgun to force him into his Nissan truck.
You know, I've been accused of being a paranoid parent. I don't let my kids go alone to and from any place. They could ride the bus to school, but I prefer to take them myself. I have to get up at 5:45am to drop my husband at work to be able to do this, but I'd rather know they were safely at school than not.
When my daughter and son were younger, I didn't even let them go anywhere in groups. I watched them play, I kept my eye on them, I took them where they needed to go, and since I'm a stay-at-home mom, it's my job. It's what I'm supposed to be doing. There's nothing more important than the safety of my children and being given the opportunity to be home with them, what reason do I have for NOT doing my job and keeping them safe?
To parents who are not doing this, I am sickened by you. Measure fifty feet from your home. It isn't far away. It's not even an eighth of my driveway. Now ask yourself, "Is that extra hour of sleep in the morning worth MORE than the safety of your child?" Are you too lazy to walk to the bus stop to pick up your child? Is any reasoning you have for not doing it more important than the well-being of your child?
I really can't understand any rationale a parent gives me for not watching their children carefully especially when things like this happen and yes, I've had parents tell me a whole host of reasons for not doing it. If not for one of Ben Ownby's busmates being able to describe the Nissan pick-up, Ben would STILL be missing. And what did Ben go through in just four days with this disgusting pedophile? Shawn Hornbeck alluded to the fact that whatever it was, he was glad Ben held up during it. So, you know it's bad ... and it could have been my son. It could have been your son or our daughters. Is it worth the risk?
You can do online searches of convicted pedophiles in your area, but what you're seeing is a small part of the actual number. Even though there are none in my town on paper, I know they're there and that's enough for me to keep monitoring my children because you're never out of the woods. There is no safe zone. My son is only one year younger than Ben ... an age when I thought he was safe, but this showed me he is most definitely not.
Without any regard to feelings, I just have to say, if you're not already monitoring your children carefully (this means getting your lazy ass out of bed in the morning to walk them to the bus stop and getting your lazy ass up off the couch to get them off the bus in the afternoon, going with them to the park, watching them when they go outside, etc.), you're not a parent. You're not doing your job. You're allowing pedophiles to target your child and if it happens to your child, don't ask for my sympathy. My sympathy goes to the child you ignored ... the child you were too lazy to watch over.
I only hope and pray that what I'm doing is enough. I hope Shawn and Ben find peace now that they are at home. I hope all parents learn from this and pledge to do better because there's really no excuse for doing less. And if you're like me, the parent called over-paranoid, I tip my hat to you and say, "Good job."
When I first married at the ripe old age of 18 (what was I thinking?), my husband and I moved into a pretty nice apartment in the small city of my birth. It had two bedrooms (one for us, one for our cat -- again, what was I thinking?), a spacious kitchen, small TV room, small bathroom and no washer or dryer. This meant the laundromat became one of the necessary evils in my life. Since it was only the two of us, I only had to do the laundry once a week. Our sheets were laundered every two weeks. Well, every two weeks for approximately two months ... before my mother asked me how often I laundered them.
My mother is a busybody, no doubt about it. She always asks me what I'm making for dinner, what I made the kids for breakfast, what cleaning I did today. Why? I can only imagine. I believe it is to see if she can catch me goofing off.
Anyhow, when I admitted to only laundering linens every two weeks she gasped and said, "Oh my God, Beth, you can't go that long between laundering them. My God, think how much time you SPEND in them. You have to do them weekly AT LEAST."
Feeling shame-filled to the brim, I began bringing my sheets and pillow cases with me every week to the laundromat. I thought it was a bit neurotic of her, but since I was a bit neurotic, I thought perhaps she was right.
Fast forward about eighteen years, I'm watching Oprah Winfrey and what is the topic of the day? How often "things" need to be cleaned and how you should clean them.
Turns out dear old Mommy Dearest was right. Apparently, scientists and experts agree -- all linens need to be washed weekly in hot water (120-130 degrees) and dried in a hot dryer (at least 150 degrees) and if that isn't enough, add a bit of bleach if you can't meet those aforementioned rules.
In truth, dust mites are everywhere. And what is dust? Well, I can tell you 70% of it is human skin. The rest is mold, lichen, pollen, etc. Dust mites eat dead skin cells. It's their job, so to speak. They live in carpets, oh, how they love carpets and they live in drapes, curtains and you guessed it, your bed. (They have a particular affinity for stuffed animals and thank God my germaphobe ways meant my kids never having them) The problem is if dust mites overpopulate so does their feces, and the feces is what causes those lovely allergic reactions -- wheezing, coughing, watery eyes, sneezing, and asthma. Yes, some asthma is just simply a dust mite feces allergic reaction. Scared yet?
A good and clean friend of mine just recently had her nasal passages and face actually swell from a reaction of dust mites in the bed. Her doctor told her to vacuum her mattress, flip it, change the sheets, etc. Thankfully, she went to a doctor who didn't just prescribe Zyrtec!
Since that time, Oprah has had a rerun of her dust mite show. I am more than a little freaked out all over again so now scouring the internet for a plastic cover for all of our mattresses and our pillows. I launder all pillows once a month, but come on ... the mattress? That sucker never gets clean. And the feather bed on top of that? The mattress pad between them both? It must be a virtual Wonderland for these filthy parasites.
I say, "Death to them all!" My husband says, "Please, stop watching Oprah." What do you say?
Every year of my life I make New Year's resolutions. Even if I tell myself I will not make resolutions, by the time December 31st hits, I feel panicked. 12 more hours until I can get those resolutions down on paper! And every year it's pretty much the same things -- projects, money, and weight.
When I was young, my expectations were unrealistic. Save a million dollars. Build a home in three months. Lose sixty pounds in 45 days. Things like that.
In my thirties it's more like: Pay off Mastercard. Plant a vegetable garden. Don't step on the scale.
Even so, there's always a few I never do. The ones I can look back on a year later and say, "Wow, I was supposed to exercise at least three times a week for that whole year! Well, I didn't do that," or "I was supposed to give up yelling. Well, that was just silly anyhow. Give up yelling. I mean, how else do you get your husband's attention when his ear buds are connected to his iPod?"
Then there's my "Predictions for the Year." I predict who will have a big movie, what unknown will be known, who will win the Oscar ... just a bunch of entertainment nonsense. Turns out, this is something I'm pretty good at doing. Pretty good as in, "Have yet to be wrong." Can people who sound crazy be bragging? Well, I'm not.
It started when I was a newly married girl back in the late 80's. I saw Leonardo DiCaprio as a little boy on "Growing Pains" and said, "This show sucks, but that kid will win an Academy Award someday. He's going to be huge." My husband laughed at me, but who's laughing now?
It didn't stop with Leo. I've predicted some of the most obscure Hollywood risings in history. Johnny Knoxville of Jackass? Yep, I knew he'd be in film five minutes into the first "Jackass" episode. Shia LeBeouf happened much the same way. I knew Jamie Foxx was going to be an award-nominated singer when he was still a comic.
It's a sixth sense. It isn't much good for anything except to entertain my family and it won't pay any of my bills, but there it is ... one of my hidden "talents," for lack of a better word. Sticking to resolutions? Nah, not so much.