Saturday, July 31, 2010

August Almost Here!

Trying to see things in a new PERSPECTIVE is difficult. Just found out from my annual eye exam that I have CATARACTS in both eyes which will require SURGERY sometime within the next year. Needless to say I LOATH any surgeries, but especially this UNEXPECTED one, but it will help me see better when reading.

A blogger FRIEND of mine recently had foot surgery and the anesthesiologist asked her if she had any HEART PROBLEMS and she answered "No, other than the divorce." That brought a CHUCKLE to me because I've been dealing with a lot of RESIDUE from my divorce, as I recently spent a day interacting with my ex-spouse at a COMBINED family reunion. Needless to say many memories and feelings were stirred up that still haven't settled and are pulling me DOWN.

How to RELEASE negative feelings is the question? Morning pages or free association writings certainly help get ISSUES to the surface to deal with, but I'm bugged because my divorce was 35 years ago and I STILL have issues. Maybe I'm confusing FORGIVENESS with FORGETTING. I've forgiven him but the memories are still there of the DEVASTATION caused in our family to all of us! (Yes, that is a photo of my ex on the left except he has long gray hair and a cane. LOL!)

Friday, July 30, 2010

Summer is Passing Fast

We're almost to the end of July-a hot month
of patriotic celebrations and family reunions.
Time for some coolness-a break, a vacation.
But where? Hawaii, Alaska and Maine calls.

Getting there isn't easy-flying is expensive,
driving is even worse. Maybe we'll just stay home.
Time will tell as Aug. approaches. I need to work
on unfinished projects, but my discontent grows.

Making progress on my weight issues with
water aerobics daily, eating wiser daily.
Need help on what to do next, something
fun, fulfilling, different but not dangerous.

Choices are many but there are two to consider:
hubby and I. Some things I like to do-he doesn't.
Coming to a common ground is not easy with
choices of travel-places to visit for a vacation.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Dream Conversations

Voices in dreams are sometimes negative,
but last night were positive and accepting.
I watched myself appreciated by others,
able to help them with major problems.

That was "me" as I want to be known,
assisting others in living their life better.
But sometimes I'm misunderstood and
criticized and want to disappear.

Whether as a parent, in-law or friend,
communication isn't always easy
unless both parties have unconditional
acceptance, openness and a listening ear.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Temporary Breakdown

Suddenly my computer went weird-
did things it's not suppose to do.
Panic feelings tried to engulf me,
but they do absolutely no good.

So, I turned off my computer, tried
to reboot it only to have it say some
strange things I didn't understand.
I, too, am like that at times-overloaded.

Time for me to push the pause
button-but where is it to be found?
Through tears and soul searching
I remembered what life's all about.

Good times, bad times, frustrations
and disappointments along with the
blessings and growth possible only
by continuing and never giving up.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Summer Lulls

The heat continues as we look for monsoons.
Seems life is always full of expectations.
Rather than appreciating the now moment,
we look forward to better times, even
during the good ones that are too soon gone.

Being together with loved ones has passed,
as we all return to our normal daily life.
Today's families seldom live near each other,
so our reunions are few and far between.
Hugs and personal interactions infrequent.

Empty nests are empty again for this life.
Feeling fulfillment as I stood by grown sons
now mature and independent yet recalling
their births and toddlerhood with fondness,
we are all growing older as life progresses.

Youngest to oldest (l-r): Jeff, Brook, Daniel and Frank

Monday, July 26, 2010

Article #110 Life in Brazil

Then an opportunity came for us to live for a year in Brazil. Away from the radical influences rampant in America, it seemed like a chance to begin anew as a family. With a post-doctoral grant to support us, we flew to Rio de Janeiro and north to Bahia for a year of study and filming capoeira (a defensive dance form) in the country where my husband had been a missionary earlier.

Heading off to South America with our three young sons ages five, two and one was certainly an adventure, a gamble to strengthen our relationship. Marriage counseling had not resolved our conflicts with differing lifestyles. Now we were to start over in a new country. My husband spoke Portuguese fluently and I spoke some Spanish.

To say we experienced “culture shock” in Brazil is to put it mildly. Nothing was the same as our life at home. It was like a journey back in time. First, we lived in a hotel room until we could find an apartment to rent. One day while waiting for my husband to locate an apartment, I decided to take the boys to the beach. A fun activity, but I was soon warned by local Brazilians to be careful as raw sewage was running across the sand. Despite our many immunizations before leaving America, we all became sick. With two toddlers in cloth diapers, that was not fun. (Photo of our youngest son Brook with a local Brazilian boy.)

After a few weeks, our family moved into a one bedroom unfurnished apartment in downtown Bahia with our few suitcases. My husband bought a two burner camp stove, and a small frig to setup housekeeping. Our furniture was primitive: mats to sleep on, crates to stack in the bedroom for a closet, inner tubes to sit on and a large wooden box with a round top for a table. Drinking water couldn’t be used straight out of the tap but was boiled, then filtered. We purchased an attachable electric heater for our shower head to warm the water in our small bathroom. Buying some linens and dishes, we were soon settled.

Our grant paid for our transportation to Brazil and a stipend of $330/month for living expenses, but that barely paid our rent. We needed to find outside employment. My husband taught dance classes at a nearby university, and I tutored ESL (English as a Second Language) to business executives. We were to live here for a year!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Another Family Reunion

Well I had all four of my sons and all six of my grandchildren in the same place this weekend for another reunion of my ex-husband's family. Unfortunately when a divorce occurs it changes relationships with your former in-laws and they are sometimes laughingly called "outlaws." In-laws that you are no longer related to because of the divorce. But what if you really want to continue your relationship with some of them although you are now an ex sister-in-law or ex aunt or uncle? It's tricky especially if you aren't comfortable being around your former spouse. His or her family sometimes has to choose who to support or accept. So it is awkward, but it can be done. It also depends on distances and where you reside if you ever see any ex family members after a divorce.

Recently I've gotten reacquainted with some of my ex nieces and nephews through facebook. Many weren't even born when I divorced their uncle. I'm trying to make up for the lost years where we've never interacted. Now I have also a new daughter-in-law Rachel (wife of Jeff) and a new grandchild Lorien to introduce to two of my sons who rarely come to Utah. Family relationships are COMPLEX. (Above are photos of my immediate family except for Daniel's wife Tina who was busy with her husband hosting us all. I didn't get her photo in this slide show.)

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Pioneer Day in Utah

Each family has their own pioneers.
Those ancestors who came to this land
to build homes and to raise families.
Without them, we wouldn't be here.

Because of them, we have traditions
to follow and a heritage to remember.
I have many Mormon pioneers in my
family who immigrated to Utah.

In fact, I surprised myself by finding out
that most of my second great grandparents
with the exception of three individuals
were converts who immigrated to Utah.

Tell us about your ancestors and where they settled.
(Photos of my posterity-youngest son Jeff,
wife Rachel and their daughter Lorien.)

Friday, July 23, 2010

Not losing HEART

Continuing the journey despite setbacks
along the way, it's important to pursue
any goals that we've set in our lives.
Having no focus is death and a dead end.

I enjoy having worthwhile projects to work
on and new ideas to pursue to improve "me."
Relationships can always be strengthened,
family visited or communicated with,

new talents found and developed at any time.
Checking in with our Creator can help us to
know those things He sent us here to
try to accomplish during our lifetime.

Friends also can encourage us,
the past few days I've tried to monitor
my comments before posting to catch
a spammer, but then no comments came.

I thought I'd lost all my blogging buddies.
So happy to find you are all still there
today as I figured out how to moderate
my comments before publishing them.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Growing Older

I'm taking a class on exercise and diet
as it relates to metabolism and health.
Today as I tried to balance on a ball
I caught myself looking in the mirror
at my aging body and my condition.

I am no longer the young physically fit
dancer with the world ahead of me but I'm
nearing the end of my journey in this life.
As my younger husband loves to tell me...
"We aren't getting any younger." It's true.

I can no longer do situps or pushups or
even dance as I once did so easily. That
brought tears to my eyes but it doesn't
help anything get better. I must resolve
to pursue improving my condition daily.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Open or Closed

I'm wondering about maybe being too OPEN or HONEST in my articles that I PUBLISH both in my blog and in my column-they are the same. Currently I'm writing about my LIFE STORY as a way to SHARE my challenges and struggles with others who may be or have experienced the SAME situations I went through with divorcing then becoming a single parent, remarrying, etc. There are many MORE individuals both men and women these days that face these dilemmas than there were in the 1970s, 1980s, etc. when I was dealing with this kind of situation-including my own grown sons. Writing about your feelings and LOOKING BACK at your past I believe is most HELPFUL and HEALING. Whatever your situation or relationship that brought you pain, it can be a TEACHER. I want to share what I've learned with OTHERS.

I tend to be honest, maybe too much so at times, but that's just ME. I somehow have expected others in my life to be HONEST too, but I am always surprised to find someone who isn't. My first husband majored in DRAMA in college, so I guess I should have realized the opportunities that were there for him to act out his life rather than live it with INTEGRITY. I have forgiven him but not forgotten the lessons I learned then. Love to have your comments and feedback.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Writer WORDshop again

Having fun meeting with my local writing friends to study and share poetry. We are gathering every other week for a short lesson, and today we wrote some Minute Poems. The structure is thus: first line has 8 syllables and rhymes with line #2 which has 4 syllables then comes line #3 and #4 both with 4 syllables and they rhyme. Etc. A challenge but fun-first we clustered or brainstormed a topic SUMMER HEAT. It's only 108 degrees right now. Then we proceeded to write a poem to share with each other. Here's mine:


Hot desert heat, never ending.
We are dripping
sweat like water,
drying faster.

Will relief ever come to us?
Monsoon-like gusts
promise showers
for dry flowers.

But no delivery's in sight
even at night.
Day follows day,
then RAIN. Oh yah!

Monday, July 19, 2010

Article #109 Hippies

“Make love not war” was the cry of the hippies in the 1960’s. Preaching a counter culture lifestyle, these teens and twenty something year olds were against established institutions, criticized middle class values, and opposed the Vietnam War. Fascinated with non-Judeo-Christian religions, they practiced sexual liberation and experimented with drugs. In a strong statement against American society, young men burned their draft cards. Many escaped to Europe or Canada to avoid going to war. Young women burned their bras as a symbol of rebellion, wore tied dyed clothing, and ran away from home to join loosely organized communal families.

My husband was intrigued by this new philosophy; but I couldn’t connect with the hippie movement because of my conservative upbringing. The news was dominated by their activites. The growing youthful rebellion was fueled by the lyrics of the new British singing group-the “Beatles, ” and other popular singers of that time. Outdoor musical happenings like “Woodstock” in New York, and the musical “Hair” expressed frustration with the world as it had become.

Haight Ashbury in San Francisco was the gathering place. We made a visit there out of curiosity while on vacation. The streets were filled with turned-on hippies happily passing out flowers to strangers in their midst. The words of a popular song by Scott McKensie explains: “If you're going to San Francisco, be sure to wear some flowers in your hair…Summertime will be a love-in there, in the streets of San Francisco, gentle people with flowers in their hair. All across the nation such a strange vibration, people in motion. There's a whole generation with a new explanation.”

Little by little, I watched my spouse change his lifestyle and beliefs, and become a hippie. He added beads, a mandarin jacket, and striped bell bottom pants to his longer hairstyle and growing beard. The influence of this alternative lifestyle was destroying my comfortable conformity as my husband’s behavior changed before my eyes despite the fact that he had a family and responsibilities. The popular Beatles’ lyrics summed it up: ”You say you want a revolution. Well you know. We all want to change the world.”

There was now a division in our family, as I tried to preserve our family values that we had both shared before our marriage. Although our sons were small, I worried they would follow their father’s path of so called freedom and rebellion.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Learning Life's Lessons

With growing older can come wisdom
as we take time to reflect back on our life
with its many difficult lessons in patience,
perserverance, fortitude, and courage.

Meeting daily trials and not giving up,
having a purpose in mind and pursuing
lofty goals with guidance from above
can help us along the way as we stumble.

Looking back and reflecting as our own
children age and face some of the same
challenges we did: how to survive financially,
health concerns, raising toddlers and teens.

A family reunion is a small microcosm
of the universe as we observe others in all
stages: children, newlyweds, new parents,
teens, grandparents facing life's ups and downs.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Friday, July 16, 2010

Priorities and Goals

Somehow turning 70 this past week
impressed upon me the importance
of focusing on myself and my health.
Therefore I'm going to exercise more.

Have signed up for a body profile class
to analyze my body fat, metabolism, etc.
I've got more than enough for everyone.
Going to get serious about eating better.

I've even signed up for a cooking class
(See photo above of me and teacher.)
to learn how to use herbs better to make
tastier meals. Have lost 30 pounds this
past year but I'm not done yet-still going.
(Photo below of hubby eating chicken creole.)

The best thing I can do for myself is to
prioritize care for my body and health
even though it takes time and energy.
It's the most important thing for me to do.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Visiting Caryn

Fun times during the summer
are visiting my dear friend Caryn,
strolling in her gorgeous yard,
and enjoying her lovely flowers.

Just sitting around talking, visiting,
sharing life's experiences happens
all too rarely these days because of
distance between our Utah homes.

Friends are all too rare these days
that you can share your every thought,
recall times past, discuss concerns
and just feel accepted and loved.

This rooster rules the roost at Caryn's place.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Everyone needs a cheerleader!

One of my friends nominated me for the Utah State writer of the Year award given by the League of Utah Writers in September at their conference. I know I won't win, but it was lovely just to be nominated. Here's the copy of the letter my friend Pat wrote and submitted in my behalf. She couldn't use he or she as it was to be judged without names. Thanks Pat (in the photo below of our Writer's WORDshop on the right side.)

Occasionally a writer not only writes but is dedicated to leading other potential writers to the joy of creativity through poetry and prose. My nominee’s career began as an educator at the elementary level, moving to Community Education Coordinator and Teacher at Utah State University. However, after this person retired, they did not quit teaching.

I first met this energetic writer when I was invited to their home to join a group of aspiring writers learn more about the craft while sharing our work with each other. This person also encouraged the group to submit their work to magazines and newspapers, as well as to enter contests. Under this person’s leadership, we eventually published a book of free verse titled “Voices from the Desert,” which contained 67 original poems by the eight ladies in the group. Several writers from the group have gone on to win awards and prizes for their writing.

As a volunteer, this person’s work includes editing and producing newsletters, teaching classes on pioneer research and writing family histories, teaching “Creative Writing and Blogging” for a local computer club, and teaching “Internet Benefits for Writers” for the Heritage Writers Guild. Also, this person recently taught “Write our Life Story,” “Creative Blogging,” and “Write Yourself the Right Size” for Dixie State College Community Education Program.

As an avid journalist, this nominee writes delightful articles for the Sr. Sampler in our area. The clever stories never fail to bring a smile to the readers as we reflect on our own memories of a time before television and video games controlled our lives. A collection of the Sr. Sampler columns eventually became a skillfully self-published book titled “LOOKING BACK.”

If this person possesses one fault it is that they can’t say “no” when asked to teach, edit or volunteer in areas of community service. My nominee continues to write, to contribute writing to magazines and newspapers, and most of all to encourage others to write. Enclosed is a complete list of my nominee’s teaching and writing experiences. Thank you for your consideration.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Article #108 Sibling Rivalry

As my boys grew, the biggest shock of having more than one child was discovering that children didn’t naturally get along. As my babies became toddlers, fighting, arguing and jealousy developed. Sharing and peacemaking didn’t seem to be inherent childhood qualities! I found myself quite often in the role of “referee” and “disciplinarian.” No one had ever bothered to point out this truth to me before, though I had taken several child development classes in college. Being raised as an only child, this was another wakeup call for me to search for more techniques from my Dr. Spock’s book of child rearing. (Photo on left-big brother Frank and Daniel.)

Being a modern parent, I was NOT going to spank my child, but then I discovered how easy it is to spoil your children by giving them everything they want so they won’t be fussy. When child #2 and #3 came along (photo on right-Brook and Daniel), I had changed my tactics and admit now that I did spank my sons occasionally. But, it worked and Dr. Spock agreed with that technique as being necessary to “teach limits and respect for authority.” As I see children nowadays growing up with no limits and little discipline, I fear for their parents’ and their grandparents’ sanity. A spoiled child controls the household and family with his or her demands and out of control tantrums.

As my family grew, I found myself in conflict between continuing my career as a teacher or quitting to be home fulltime. It’s impossible to give your all to both jobs, and my priority was my family. Once again, I quit teaching dance and only worked part time as needed to supplement our income as my husband returned to school for a Ph.D degree.

About this time, the Zero Population group was gaining in popularity. I remember as I was pregnant with my third child, a member of this group came to give me materials while I was at work about the importance of having no more than 2 children. We were to “only replace ourselves on planet earth.” I couldn’t help but chuckle as I pointed to my expanding waistline and declared IT as child #3. The interviewer left in disgust. (Son #3 Brook on the left.)

These were the days in the late 60s and early 70s of protest: Women’s Lib, anti-Vietnam parades and the hippie movement were growing in popularity. They would influence my family in ways I could not imagine at the time.