My 13th grandchild, Miles, was born today. He’s the second grandson born after their grandpa died. I like to think Steve had a going away party for them before they came down here to earth. This newest little one was born in Atlanta. There really should be a law against kids moving out of state. I miss watching the grandkids grow and learn. I hope to go meet him in person in December.
Today was one of those big fatigue days. It often hits when I don’t have big plans. Yesterday I helped my son with his business and the fatigue hit in the evening. I still forced myself to shop for clothes (Who wouldn’t? There was a SALE). No church today so I just lounged around mostly, watching our church’s international conference on TV. When the fatigue is strong, I re-commit to going back to part-time work instead of full-time work next year. Then on days I am feeling energetic, I think I can conquer the world! But I’m pretty sure I’ll go back to part-time. I just wanted to prove to myself I can work full-time. And I can, but I also want to have energy to spend with family and friends, and doing it all is not so smart or doable. So next year – back to part-time. That’s assuming my chair person will agree to it of course.
Yesterday when I waited for the train to go home from my son’s business event, I ran into the exact same young man I met on the train last week. What are the odds of that? OK now I’m supposed to say something about synchronicity and “there are not accidents.” But you know that.
For the last couple of years, I feel like I have started a new chapter in my life, getting adjusted to being single again. This “new chapter” theme appeared so many times last week, it was amazing. On the way to Salt Lake Comic Con I met a lovely young woman on the train. She found out I was a nurse and said she always wanted to be a nurse, so we talked about nursing school. She was on her way to drop out of business school because she recently divorced and it was too stressful to go to school. She needed to work on healing for herself and her 10 children. She was starting a new chapter, and she was so brave. Then on the way home from Comic Con I met a young man who was going to the same business school as the young lady I met. He was born in Columbia, grew up in Canada, and had just returned from a mission in Portugal. This is his first semester in college in the United States. That’s a new chapter for him. He was confident, excited and had such a positive attitude. My cousin was with me on the train and I thought about how he is starting a new chapter because he has some symptoms of dementia. He is also very brave, but wondering what the future will hold. So here’s what I’ve been thinking about new chapters in life… They can be scary, and they can be exciting. When we begin a chapter, we don’t really know where it is going. Once we get to the end, we often review the chapter in our minds and see how things have connected, and perhaps why they happened. And we can see how much we learned by being brave and continuing to turn the pages. And now I wonder, what will the next chapter bring in my life? I’m glad to have met these people this week, because they role modeled courage in the face of change. I can be brave like them.
My cousin Lee has been visiting for a few days while his wife went to St. George for a girls weekend with friends. Cousins are great! They are friends, but they are also family. It’s like they have to be your friend. And we have so much in common. Lee is just 2 months older than me. We have seen each other off and on throughout our lives. He was a “Texas relative.” The rest of my relatives were in Arizona and California. We have so many shared memories. I grew up with lots of cousins and thought everyone did, but my own kids have not seen much of their cousins. So I made sure they all met Lee this weekend. We went to Salt Lake Comic Con so he could meet my son Sid who had a booth there. And my son Brad and his kids came for dinner and a game of Farkle on Saturday. I won by a landslide.
It was just so great to reminisce, “time traveling” for the last 5 days. I got reacquainted with my gratitude for being part of a loving, caring, totally awesome family. I am a blessed woman.
I often blog about life lessons I learn on the train raveling to work. A few days ago I got ready for work and it took me awhile to decide what to wear. I put on a bright green sweater which I didn’t love but decided to be brave and wear it anyway. I got on the train and read a book. Now I know when I read for the entire trip, I don’t interact with anyone, so I don’t have the opportunity to learn a life lesson. Sometimes that’s OK because it is peaceful to just read while the world hurries by. When the train stopped I closed my book and disembarked. A man in a neon vest who had also disembarked approached me and said, “Excuse me. you’re look great! You’re beautiful.” Well that got my attention. I smiled and said thanks. Then he asked, “Are you married?” I said no, my husband died a couple of years ago. Then he said, “My wife died and I am looking for a companion. I am 62…” I could tell he wanted to know how old I was so I said “I am 64 and I am not looking for a companion.” That did not discourage him. He continued to tell me a few things about himself and said again, “I am looking for a companion.” And once again I told him that I am not. I walked away and as I left he asked, “How many kids do you have?” I held up four fingers and kept walking. And his last words were, “You’re beautiful.” I gotta say the whole encounter lifted my spirits. What’s my life lesson? Not sure, but I think I’ll call that green sweater “my lucky sweater.”
My son and his family left Atlanta ahead of Hurricane Irma and have done very well in Virginia. Having heard that things are OK in their apartment building, they are going back home tomorrow. I’m so glad they left Atlanta. It was challenging to watch The Weather Channel and see that storm headed straight for their house, and there was nothing I could do about it.
On the other hand, I haven’t heard from my daughter ever since she sent me the “I hate you” text a few weeks ago. I heard that she might be in some trouble, and she hasn’t contacted her son lately, so I don’t know how she is doing. I don’t want to know the details because I will worry. And I’m sure I’ve heard a version of the same sad story many times before. To connect this to the hurricane, I feel like I’ve been watching a storm headed straight for my daughter, and there’s nothing I can do about it. I hope she finds a safe place for shelter.
I have spent a lot of time watching the news about Hurricane Irma approaching Florida. I was in Florida in June and am so sad to hear about the upcoming disaster in the beautiful, friendly state. I was on my way to Florida in March for a nursing conference when I got stranded in the Atlanta airport for 8 hours due to bad weather. I got a hotel and was unable to re-book my flight to Florida. So I ended up visiting my son and his family in Atlanta longer than planned. It was great. But now as I watch the Irma news, I can’t help but worry about my son and his family in Atlanta, which is close to the hurricane. Apparently the stores in Atlanta are sold out of water and gas lines are long. Tornadoes may occur. Power outages are expected. My son said he is all stocked up with provisions and I shouldn’t worry. His wife is 8 months pregnant. He has a 2-year-old and a 3-year-old. So yeah I’m going to worry until this thing is over and they’re all OK. I’m not overwhelmed with worry because the odds are that they’ll be fine. But this just reminds me how precious life is and how things can change in a heartbeat. And how it’s easy to watch a disaster unfold in the comfort of my own home. Having someone so close to the action is in fact not very comfortable. Best wishes and prayers to everyone.
Last year, as I adjusted (still adjusting) to single life, I often went to Facebook to pass the time. It was a bit addictive. Whenever I was on Facebook I beat myself up for wasting precious time reading about mundane events in strangers’ lives. Occasionally I would come across one of my friends’ posts, which was worthwhile. As the presidential election got into full swing, the negativity on Facebook drove me away. I made a commitment to stop using Facebook. I just did not need that constant negative, angry input or the cussing and soft porn in my life. I achieved my goal and have not been on Facebook since the election. Well, I am sad to say that I went from Facebook to Candy Crush. No, there’s no negative, angry input in Candy Crush – it’s just fun. But I still beat myself up about it because I could be doing other, productive things. I use it as an escape, a way to let my mind go on cruise control for a while. No need to make decisions or get anything done or learn anything or grow as a person – just play Candy Crush. A stress reliever. Well, like Facebook, I have found Candy Crush to be addictive. I think about it during the day and I dream about it at night. As I play, I keep saying, “One more game and then I’ll go to bed.” or “I just want to win this one and then I’ll clean the kitchen.” I notice that when I play on the train, I am missing uplifting, inspiring conversations with fellow strangers on our way to work. I tell myself I need a break from grading papers, my mind needs a change of scenery. What seems like hours go by and I haven’t done anything. It’s like sleeping through life. Time to wake up! So…. I did it! I deleted Candy Crush from my iPhone 10 minutes ago. I can do this! OK, to tell the truth I’ve done this before, and then I re-installed it. But this time I am blogging about it and I will NOT re-install it. Now the challenge will be what to do when I feel like playing. Will I replace it with something else that is more productive or something even stupider? What I’m really hoping for is that boredom and loneliness do not notice that I have gone cold turkey and they won’t come knocking at my door whispering, “Juicy!” or “Delicious!” and lure me back in. I think my first step will be to make a list: Things To Do When I’m Bored or Lonely.
Well, I completed my first week of school a few days ago. If you are new to this blog, I teach nursing at the University of Utah and started full-time in July. It’s been three years since I had a small tumor removed from my brain, and still have vision and energy problems. I went from part-time to full-time to prove to myself that I can do it. Plus, I just love teaching. The fatigue that is my companion was in high gear last week. I was able to meditate on campus a couple of times, and that helped. This Monday the fatigue was almost overwhelming. I came home and began to seriously question my decision to work full-time. I went to tai chi and felt pretty crummy. As I practiced the form, I noticed that I was focusing on the fatigue. The good news is that I caught myself thinking negatively and became very aware of how uncomfortable it is to focus on a negative thought or feeling. It sticks like glue. I said to myself, “Oh yeah! This is the negative thinking I tell everyone to avoid!” I managed to snap out of the funk (I simply started smiling) and went home and crashed on the couch. On Tuesday I woke up feeling great! I never felt fatigued all day. It was so awesome. I felt “normal.” What a gift. And a mystery, because I can’t figure out what triggers the fatigue or what triggers the energized day. I learned that it is much more fun to focus on feeling great instead of focusing on feeling crummy. Focusing on negatives seems very unproductive. What’s the point? I also learned that it ‘s amazing how uplifting and exciting one good day without fatigue made me feel. Now let’s see what the rest of the week brings.
A couple of weeks ago when I drove 2.5 hours to our Reid Ranch family reunion, my 11-year-old grandson drove with me. He is delightful. Very good at engaging conversation. Very smart and creative. We talked the whole time. On the way home he asked if he could play a video game in the car. I said OK. Well, gone was the pithy conversationalist. He was in his own world. This comes as no surprise of course. But I was surprised that even when he put the game down, he still was not talking. And if I asked him to answer my phone when it rang, her would say, “Just a minute.” It is hard to put into words the transformation that occurred when he played the video game. It’s like the real him went into hiding. The opportunity to bond and get to know each other better evaporated. I am not judging him, just making an observation. And a new rule: No technology while riding with Grandma! Or as I call it, Notendo. (Get it? Nintendo with a NO at the beginning…No Nintendo).
Friday I blogged about my daughter and thought I would write a follow-up post today. I am still having trouble gaining insight and finding meaning in the whole thing. I am feeling blocked. Perhaps that is why I am fussing over it. Finding meaning in something puts a calm to it. I’ll get there. While I was out to dinner Friday with my son, I received a text from my daughter simply stating, “I hate you.” Just out of the clear blue sky. I talked to my son about it a lot, which helped. When I got home I blocked her number. I also increased security at home and padlocked the gates. I’m still processing all this. Is it about my parenting? I know I made mistakes by enabling her and trying to make things easier. That’s not really the best approach. Seems like the more I give, the less it is appreciated. Is it about love and how sometimes it hurts? Is it about dealing with mental illness? I think I’m feeling a bit defeated, but at the same time I am glad the war has finally ended. Stopping the struggle and letting go actually feels pretty good. Today I spent lots of quiet time getting in touch with my feelings and thoughts. It was a nice break, but tomorrow is the first day of a new semester and I am looking forward to moving on. Seasons change and so do I.