perspective

Is Life Fair?

Life isn’t fair on most days to many. If you took a poll of 100 people, I feel confident that the majority would share some stories of how life is unfair to them.

Is there even a fairness card somebody could get when they are born? I guess this is funny to mention.

Life is full of many ups and downs and twists and turns. On any given day one person could be celebrating a victory while another person is crying over a loss. Is this fair? I doubt it.

A woman may get a government contract over her male counterparts due to a government set-aside stipulation. Is this fair? Probably not if you ask the male.

A boy gets a better rate on health insurance compared to a girl the same age because she is in her child-bearing years. Is this fair? Not if you ask the female.

Life is what you make of it. You can’t compare yourself to others and you can only try to do your best with whatever options are available to you at that moment in time. If you get a flat tire your car you need to change it if you want to keep moving. On the flip side if you want to keep moving in life you need to change your attitude to I can vs. oh woe is me.

I referenced a moment in time above as time can change things for many. As you get older you may be wiser and have more financial wellness today in comparison to 5 years before. Is this fair? Not to the 18-year-old applying for their first loan.

Sometimes I think my kids think they should get the latest cell phone because their bestie has one or they should be paid the same wage per hour to do the same job as a coworker with years of experience. I’m not sure where they got this train of thought as I never taught that.

In life, fair doesn’t mean equal. Everyone can hope for equality but that doesn’t happen in all scenarios. Life is full of variables. Take the old saying is this glass half full or half empty: your perspective may differ from mine. That’s the beauty of life.

Life’s uncertainty leads to lessons learned. Lessons foster growth. Having a growth mindset allows you to change your surroundings, your future, your present and many benefits I can’t list.

This post is about the word no. Sometimes you need to hear no many times before you hear yes. It may not be fair but if you are consistent you may see more yes in your life.

Today I said no to somebody. Yesterday I said no to another. I don’t always like hearing bad news but sometimes the truth is what one needs to hear to grow. To step outside their box. To find another way. To enable them to shift their mindset into how to do vs. who can do for me.

If we always found yes answers we would have a weirder society than we have now. I had this little yellow book on a table in my house for years. I think many could read it and grow from it.

 

family, inspire

My Farm Girl

IMG_0335

When I was young, I wandered through all kinds of interests, career possibilities, and whims.  After I gave up my dream of delivering the mail, I considered becoming a meteorologist.  A singer.  A poet.  A jazz musician. A teacher.  Probably lots of other things I don’t even remember.  I took one of those career surveys in high school and it told me to be a ferry boat captain so I probably even considered that. (Briefly.)

Along the way all sorts of things would capture my fancy for a while. So many rabbit holes my teenage and twenty-something brain went down… e. e. cummings poetry.  Philosophy.  Feminism.  But the one I remember most was Southern Self-Taught Art (aka Folk Art).  Who knows how I stumbled across it, but I dove headlong into that world, reading and learning as much as I could about the main personalities, what they created, and where they lived.  I studied it, immersed myself in it, planned trips to meet artists and see exhibits.  I was fascinated.

Through every whim and detour my Dad was right along with me.  I had a pile in the kitchen (that drove my Mom crazy,by the way, a pile in the middle of prime real estate) where I kept important papers and mail.  Every once in a while a newspaper clipping or magazine article would appear on that pile.  It might be an artist profile, or an ad for a nearby art auction.  My Dad would have circled it with blue ball-point pen and written my name next to it, then ripped it out.  Always looking to extend my knowledge and experience.

And so wherever my interests went, my Dad followed close behind.  He learned as much as he could about what mattered to me. We went on road trips to meet artists.  He even had pieces commissioned for me.  When I was young, I thought it was so awesome that our interests always seemed to line up. My Dad and I just always seemed to like the same stuff!  What a lucky coincidence.  Once he was gone, I realized that he was really just interested in me.  My growth.  My enjoyment.  My plans.  My life.  It was essential to how he parented me.

This morning I did the same for my youngest daughter.  She wants to be a farmer when she grows up.  I’ve made connections with some local farms and send her tidbits about farming when I run across them.  This morning a local farm offered an opportunity to come work on a project.  So we jumped in the car with gloves and water and away we went.

Do I care about farming?  Not really.  I love the country, sunrises and sunsets, and back porches, but farm life is a lot of work.  I didn’t mind carrying all the gravel buckets (all my CrossFit farmer’s carries finally came in handy!) but I mainly wanted to spend time with her as she learned.  We talked.  We worked.  We enjoyed the sun, petting the huge farm dogs, watching the sloppy pigs, exploring the farm store, and just being together, imagining what she might be and do if she became a farmer with land of her own.

 

So no, I don’t really care much about farming.  But I do care much about her.  And when I love someone, I often find their interests interesting as a way to deepen my understanding, connection, and support for them.  I love that my Dad made me feel like all my little whims were worth learning about and pursuing. It was one of the ways he made me feel worthy and important.  I hope I make the people I love feel the same way.

IMG_0318

 

family

Mother’s Day Moments

IMG_9839

Mother’s Day during the pandemic.  I wasn’t really sure what to expect.  Honestly, many Mother’s Days in our home pass without too much fanfare. My own Mom is no longer alive and some years are harder than others.  It’s also one of the busiest days of the year at our family’s restaurant, and often that is the focus. More years than not I spend working at the restaurant just to help be sure people are happy. (This doesn’t really bother me. I always say those are the kind of days that pay my kids’ college tuition.  This year it’s more like my mortgage, but you get the idea.) I worked this year as well.

It may not surprise you that the gifts I often enjoy most are cards.  Taking time to write someone a meaningful note is a rare treasure.  I’ve gotten several amazing cards and letters from my kids in the past years. When my youngest asked me what I wanted for Mother’s Day, I said “fifteen pound dumbbells” with a belly laugh.  Stores have been out of fitness equipment for months since many have set up home gyms during corona.  But then I just told her my real answer:  a card. Honestly, I don’t expect anything, especially right now.

So the night before Mother’s Day, when my son asked me if I would be around in the morning, I had no idea what to expect.  There would be a delivery, he said.  I was touched by the very thought that he would have something delivered.  I figured maybe it would be flowers, since I do have a great love for unique blooms.  I was floored when a bag was dropped on my doorstep and I pulled out this amazing super sparkly tumbler he had made just for me.  Yes, it’s awesome and I love the Georgia Bulldogs.  But even more amazing is the fact that only about 5 days earlier I had complained about needing a bigger insulated cup to increase my water consumption.  My workplace closure has brought my water intake way down since I don’t have my infused water any longer.   So not only is it a personal design, it showed that he heard me and responded.  What a heartwarming gift!

IMG_0087

My middle daughter made our whole family dinner on the Monday after Mother’s Day.  She made tacos, which are my food love language.  Fresh guacamole, all the fixin, and she is a healthy eater herself so it was all more or less in my eating goals.  Even protein baked goods for dessert!  She also gave me some lovely hydrangeas, some of my favorite flowers, and a candle in my second favorite scent.  (That’s a story for another post).  Finally, a card with all kinds of beautiful words.  It was a beautiful, thoughtful evening.

IMG_9841

Lastly, in an unexpected turn, my youngest walks in the house with a pair of…you guessed it…15 pound dumbbells.  I was in shock.  She went to two stores…the first had nothing.  The second had all of 3 dumbbells and unbelievably they were fifteen pounders.  Ah-May-Zing.  !!!!  I’ve already used them several times.  Yay for less frustration in workouts.

IMG_0089

Of course I saved all the cute little handprint and rhyme Mother’s Day gifts from their elementary school days.  They are precious!  But to be heard, seen, and known as an individual with interests, goals, and preferences by my kids is a different sort of celebration, and in some ways all that much sweeter. 

 

 

family

Grocery Store Chronicles

When I was close to 10 years old I would go with my Mom every Friday to shop for groceries with my Nana. I didn’t know it then but I learned so many lessons from these Friday trips.

I learned to care for others. I learned that elderly people needed a little help whether it was transportation or help with lifting or even just social time with loved ones to talk. I learned that I liked Fridays with my Nana because she gave me candy, ice cream or even some change for helping out. I was rewarded for being nice. I was the youngest sibling so I was toted along always. I never minded the time spent and when I look back I’m glad I had the opportunity. I also learned math at the register and so many other little tidbits.

I didn’t really notice at the time how independent my Nana was. She always had her own cart. She always paid for her own groceries. She also put up the divider between her order and ours. She was doing what she needed all by herself with just a little support from us. Not financial support but assistance getting to and from and being social.

There were definitely more cash transactions back then and the clerk even knew how to count change for one dollar or a twenty. Today is 95% credit card and most clerks need to read the change back amount on the computer to complete the transaction. Such a shift over time.

It wasn’t too much longer before my Nana passed but I still remember those Friday trips like it was yesterday. Vivid memories yet I can’t ever recall how much time we spent at the store. I’m thinking it was a long time now that I think back.

Now fast forward to today. It’s corona time! Life has slowed on many levels as noted previously in posts like Nature Therapy. A slower style I have been adapting to and enjoying. Not sure how long the slow pace will last but for now I’m enjoying the relaxation.

Today I had the honor of taking my Mom to the grocery store out of the blue. Masked, observing social distance and limiting touch. How different it was from when I was a kid…. I may have licked the pole on the way out back in the day. Talk about how times have changed! The trip awakened many childhood memories of shopping with my Nana. I invited my teen daughter to go along but given corona she opted for a big no which is a good gesture however another indication of change in time. As I noted above as the youngest I was toted along. Nowadays kids seem to get choices.

In my fast-paced hectic life, I’m used to running into the store grabbing what I need and getting the heck out, whether it’s pre-corona or during corona so I don’t catch anything. Anyway this trip was different. My Mom physically moves slower. She likes to look at all her options. She likes to check her coupons. She like to compare pricing to the ad she had for another store. No iPhone to google a price. No rush to be anywhere. No need for speed. How this brings back memories of shopping with my Nana.

I observe and adapt to my surroundings. I go with the flow. The slow flow. And I mean a turtle’s pace to get through the produce section. Then the deli counter where the meat needs to be sliced just right and she needs white American cheese not orange cheese! Then we have to skip the ice cream section because that has to be last so it doesn’t melt. Then if she buys the strawberries she needs the shells to make shortcakes and don’t forget the whipped cream. None of this was in her to buy list by the way. Her time to shop was a field trip of sorts. She needed to get out of the house for a sense of normalcy. She needs to pay for it herself for her sense of independence. She needs to choose what she wants.

The cart started to get heavy but she needs it to rest her weight. She pushes I pull. We must be a comedy show for those crazed folks darting around the store to get what they want as if the place was on fire and here we are puttering around as if time is of no matter. My surroundings didn’t seem to phase me. I was supporting the one I was with. I live life in the driver’s seat yet in this situation I am a passenger. I’m looking out the virtual window to see what’s around.

When you slow down to this pace you observe so much. Some of which can be ugly. For example, a person snagging the last can of green beans off the shelf in their haste and hurry not realizing they just snatched it from the reach of an older person who moves slow. Craziness is what I say to myself but did the person even notice because they were on a mission to get in and out fast. They might not have seen her waiting 6 feet away, waiting for her turn at the shelf when one hurried in snatched and hurried off?

She is in her 80s. She is not phased by corona. She wore a mask so others didn’t judge her but it wasn’t comfortable. It irritated her left eye and moved around causing her to adjust often. She had taken great care to watch a nurse show the proper way to put a mask on in a YouTube video and she said it doesn’t work. I keep touching my face. This is pointless. The nurse video said don’t touch your face. I just shook my head and smiled.

We were in the store close to one hour thirty minutes. Quite possibly my longest trip to the grocery store ever. It was just one cart full. They didn’t have many items she needed and for that I get to get up early and go again in the morning. And she wants to go to make sure I buy the right items.

This is hilarious and awesome all at the same time. One day I won’t have the opportunity to go shopping with my Mom but today I did. Corona didn’t stop her and it didn’t control her tempo, her attitude or her ability to make me giggle. To give you a visual of our shenanigans the photo below is from day 2 of shopping. This visit was Target and I was ever so thankful for the “Caroline cart” designed for special needs folks but my Mom has her own special needs; her limited ability to walk but she doesn’t think she is ready for a wheelchair so this was a great compromise. It also allowed me to zoom through the aisles faster and limit my time to 45 minutes with her all buckled in the seat. She would kill me for posting this but I’m a big fan so it’s an honor for me to share.

In about 40 years time so much has changed about visiting a grocery store. I have my memories and I have today. Now I can’t wait to see what it’s like in another forty years when somebody totes me to the grocery store or maybe they won’t because modern times will send a courier with my groceries.

Do you have any fond memories of grocery shopping? It may seem like a silly question but I hope you have memories like me.

inspire

Choose Joy Today

I understand Corona is getting the best or worst of many these days. It’s been a month since official lockdown has shut many operations down.

With that being said the news gets uglier everyday. Talk of death, sadness, disease, shortages and so on. I choose not to watch because it sucks the life out of me.

On the same track social media is equally disgusting. Most days there are posts from those crying poor me, giving political rants, or worse slamming others because of their own personal dissatisfaction of circumstances. Most days I have to mute social media outlets because it can be draining.

What’s crazy is some people post away without thinking of who they may offend. If you are a business owner it could be a returning client you isolate. If you are a parent it could be your school teacher neighbor you anger. If you’re tired of being cooped up and give a medical rant you might be pissing off that very important healthcare worker that is in your network.

The value of social media can be far reaching but so can its hurt. Most people learn as adults to cool off before you type your feelings in an email or online. Right now this is an important lesson many may need to hear more than once.

Guess what people. I’m choosing joy. I’m choosing to tune out the negative news, negative people and negative ranters online. Bye. Gone. Ghosted. Just like that. My mental health doesn’t need your toxicity.

I clearly don’t need negative when I open my mail and see happy mail. Cards, letters, postcards or even porch drops of sweetness. I had the best homemade salsa delivered by a pal to my surprise. I had many lift-me-up note cards in the mail like the one below. All with uplifting messages. The one below is from an amazing healthcare worker on the front line. She has taken the time to send out hope cards to her friends. The world needs more of this and less negativity.

We are all in this Corona mess together. Everyone has limited opportunities yet we all have the opportunity to choose joy over hatred or sorrow. There are already impacts near and far. Healthcare workers and caregivers are getting sick or dying. This is real people. It’s not a conspiracy theory to shut your business down.

About a month ago I posted about what was taken away. The separation of my dad and mom at their age due to visitation restrictions. The loss of connection. This will last well past when most get off stay-at-home orders due to the risk category elderly fall into.

I can’t fix those circumstances but I had opportunities to offer hope and positivity in out of the box ways. I mailed a care package filled with his favorite candies to my dad so he would know people outside were thinking about him. We integrated Facetime visits whenever possible and that in itself can be challenging for those in their 80s. I designed a cool shirt for my mom and dad’s 59th anniversary that will most likely be spent apart. Not ideal situations but we are coping with the options afforded us. At the same time appreciating the lockdown to keep him and others safe within his facility.

As shown on the news, the elderly can be wiped out fast if this virus hits an assisted living place with common living areas much like a cruise ship. It’s messages like this on the news that can rattle one’s cage. I know this when I see my mom worrying about my dad after a news segment. Choosing the joy in the situation can overshadow the negative if you choose.

Crazy to think about but staying home can help if you think about the big picture. The keepsake below will help my folks ring in 59 years apart this year. It is their only anniversary apart to date but they still have each other and that a blessing. Choose joy everyone. Corona can’t take that away from you.

Speaking of time, it’s so precious. As I write this heartbreak has hit close by. A loss of a bright young soul to suicide. Yes this is real. As humans we are social. When people are confined to their homes others can’t see those suffering signs. Some will choose the only solution they see viable to their perceived problems. It’s sad but I know more will follow. Suicide, PTSD, substance abuse and depression are current issues impacting many. That’s not a conspiracy theory.

I watched my sister work in her garden in the past few days. Lettuce, tomatoes and other veggies are starting to blossom. We as a community will blossom and rise just like a new garden. Some years are more fruitful than others but if you work hard all can sprout.

Times of struggle are upon us all. How we react to this pandemic will show what we are made of and who we are as people. Check on those who seem distant. Be kind. Look beyond you to help others. I can’t emphasize this enough. Make your own garden sprout. A little sunshine, a little hard work, and a little hope will go a long way.