I haven’t written a blog post in months. Quite frankly, I didn’t feel like it. I had a bout of depression last August. We had had months of visitors and activities and then suddenly, no one. It took me awhile to admit I was depressed, but after getting my medication adjusted, I started feeling better.
Fall was filled with visitors and fun with new friends. Thanksgiving was spent with our California family and was wonderful. We started getting ready for Christmas and life was great. Until it wasn’t.
I don’t know why, but we are facing some really big challenges right now. We have both human and canine serious health issues. We also have some personal challenges we are facing.
So, I should be depressed again, but the medicine is working and I am feeling strong. This week is going to be a tough one – we are going to get answers to the challenges we are facing. I have no idea what to expect, once again I am traveling in an area where I have no map. I don’t know what knowledge I will have next week at this time that I don’t have now. I do know that I am not in control, God is, and that is how it should be.
We haven’t gone to church since we moved to California. Honestly, I don’t know if I feel comfortable in organized religion any longer. Too many issues make it hard for me to support churches and some of the hypocrisies they stand for. However, I do consider myself a Christian and I live my life according to Christian values.
I was having lunch with my sweet friend Jane a few weeks ago and we were discussing bible studies. We decided to join Bible Study Fellowship together. This is something that I have wanted to do for years. I did our first lesson yesterday, and reading the word of God and feeling His presence gave me such peace to face the week ahead. Our class meets on Wednesday, right in the middle of my tough week. Coincidence?? I think not!
We have many people praying for us. We have Jewish friends, Catholic friends, Protestant friends and friends that I don’t even know what their religion is praying for us. I treasure each and every prayer. I feel God’s presence with us and I know things will be as they should be because we are in God’s hands.
The biggest gift we got this Christmas was two full weeks with Molly. She decided to extend her stay through New Year’s and having her here was amazing. She is the glue that holds our family together. She kept us busy having fun and playing endless games of Catan and laughing with each other. I thank God every day for our amazing Molls!
If you are a praying person, we would accept any and all prayers that things work out for the best. If you aren’t a praying person, then good thoughts and positive vibes will be accepted. Stay tuned…there will be more to this story.
Growth is a good thing, right? When your child is born, you watch for signs of growth. There are even “milestones” that a child is supposed to reach by certain ages to be on track for normal development. You go to school to grow your knowledge and learn new things. You want to grow your in your career and, let’s face it, your bank account. You want personal growth too. You want to grow in your skills and your beliefs of how to be a better human being.
But what about when growth is painful? Those who know my daughter, Molly, you know that she is very tall. There was a time when she was growing so fast, her legs hurt. Yes, she had “growing pains”. We had a maple tree at our home in Fishers that grew so fast, the trunk split. We didn’t know if it would survive, but it did and became a beautiful tree. Sometimes growth that hurts is what makes us stronger, sometimes it breaks us.
When Kevin and I moved to Hickory, I went through great personal growth. The kind that hurts-a lot. I was away from “home” for the first time and I knew no one but Kevin in our new town. Luckily, we met wonderful people who helped me through this time of personal growth and I am a better person for it.
When we moved to Fishers, there were only 7500 residents. When we moved away last year, there were 100,00 residents, Talk about growth! Some of this growth was wonderful and some was painful. I am proud of the way that Fishers came through its growth. Fishers has a wide range of housing pricing, some of the best schools in the country and high average incomes.
Now we are in Oceanside and it is going through growing pains, the very painful kind. Oceanside is the last coastal town in San Diego County to be developed into a “tourist” town. One of the things that attracted us to Oceanside, was its ‘sleepy beach” town vibe. That vibe is starting to change and people are taking sides. There are the developers who have $$ in their eyes and there are the long time residents that want to keep that sleepy beach town vibe. There are many special interests groups and some of those are on Facebook. Thursday a comment was posted on one of these Facebook pages complaining that Oceanside still has housing under $399K and that is why it has a hard time attracting people who care. I found this comment ludicrous and I made a post stating my opinion. You see, the average income in Oceanside is less than in Fishers, but the inflation here is completely out of hand. Imagine my surprise when my post was attacked, not by the person who made the original post, but by a retired teacher who claimed that if you “sacrificed” you could make it as a teacher in Oceanside. My point, why should teachers, nurses, and social workers or any professional who makes the world a better place have to sacrifice to get by? Fishers was able to solve their housing issues with huge growth, why can’t Oceanside have a plan for housing for all? This woman went on ranting at me all day until I finally gave up and stop replying to her. It made me realize that this is going to be an ugly and drawn out fight between different interest groups in Oceanside. It is going to be painful.
The same day, we found out that the school district in Fishes that we so loved while our daughter attended there, voted down an anti-discrimination policy concerning students. LBGQT students in particular. Indiana conservative politics was one of the many reasons for us leaving Indiana and this is particularly disturbing because good friends of ours child just came out as Trans last year. We have many gay friends who we love dearly. I am proud to say our friends our not taking this sitting down. They have created a group called HSEquals and they are fighting this school board vote. The Mayor of Fishers and many state government officials have come forward in favor of the anti-discrimination policy. If you are a reading this and are a resident of Fishers, I urge you to get involved and stand up for what is right-equal treatment for all students. This growth will be painful for Fishers, but it is the right growth.
That brings us to today, Just miles from our new home, in a town called Poway, a 19-year-old male went to a synagogue and opened fire. He killed one person; I am not sure how many were injured. My heart aches for the people who were at their synagogue worshiping on the last day of Passover and experienced this act of hate and violence. This after the world is just learning all the terror that happened earlier in the week in Sri Lanka where Christians were attacked by Muslim extremists. I have one question, “Have we not learned anything from our history”?
This country (and world) is so divided right now, that we are not growing; we are failing to thrive as human beings. Social media makes it so easy to attack each other behind the mask of the Internet. Children start watching You Tube videos at an early age and want to BE those kids in the video, instead of leading their own lives. Parents are spending thousands of dollars to illegally gain entrance for their children in elite universities. Hate is everywhere-it wears on me and makes me extremely sad. My beloved father fought in WWII against hate and fascism. Sadly, both seem to be alive and well in our current society.
So, what’s a person to do? For me, I am just trying to make my part of the world a little nicer. I try to respect other people’s opinions, even if I don’t agree with them. I try to voice my opinions with kindness and love. I am trying to grow as a person. We, not only as a nation but also as the human race; seem to have forgotten the virtue of compromise and compassion. We seemed to have lost the ability to agree to disagree and still be friendly. The current fad seems to be hate anyone who isn’t exactly like us or wants the same things, or heaven forbid; has more than us. What ever happen to judging one other by how we treat each other? To innocent before proven guilty? To the pursuit of life and liberty for all? I hope we find it soon, I pray for us all that we do.
Kevin and I don’t come from large families. He is an only child who lost both of his parents in college. I am the youngest of three, but I have never been close to my brother or sister. We just weren’t raised that way.
When you are a young adult and you have your whole life ahead of you, you don’t really think about how your family will be when you are older. (At least we didn’t). Kevin’s friends have been important to him since we met, having lost his parents so young. I was very close to my parents and my sister-in-law, and we really didn’t have a care in the world when we moved to North Carolina.
I feel like we developed a whole new respect for our family when we moved away from Indiana. I missed my parents so much sometimes it physically hurt. We were very lucky that we made WONDERFUL friends in Hickory, most of which we are still in contact with. But, we missed our family and friends so much, we only lasted three years before we moved back to Indiana.
For years, we had a great family life. We were two hours away from Fort Wayne and two hours away from both sides of Kevin’s family. It was perfect, until it wasn’t. My family’s demise was slow and sneaky. My mother’s health started deteriorating slowly and she became very bitter to her family members. My sister-in-law and I started growing apart and I started not wanting to go home for holidays because there was just too much drama.
When my mother died, things really changed in my family dynamics. Kevin, too, had lost some close relatives and we started to realize that our little family of three was on our own. Many people criticized us for only having one child, but it was the right decision for us and we stand by it. We taught Molly to value her friendships and she has many close friends.
The three years between when my mother passed and my dad died were very special. We got to spend lots of time with him and it was wonderful. After his death, whatever relationship I had left with my brother and sister disappeared. That was July 2011 and life has changed tremendously since then. After my father’s death, we started to realize that “family” doesn’t mean just parents, brothers and sisters. It means the people in our lives who love us, not because they have to, but because they truly care about us.
Kevin has been blessed with many cousins and two of them are like brothers to him. They were both able to visit us in Oceanside at the same time this February and it was such a special time for him. Kevin and I have become very close to my cousin and her husband, in fact; we consider them surrogate parents. We were just blessed to have a visit from them and we already miss them. I have two girlfriends who I consider sisters and I know they will always be there for me. They too are coming to visit soon. Our “Fort Wayne” family is a group of dear friends we have known for over 30 years and we were blessed with a visit by two of them in March. We have my “brother from another mother” who was Kevin’s roommate when we met (I knew him from classes at IPFW) and his beautiful girlfriend (of over 20 years) who we want to convince to come live with us for retirement. They are coming to visit in August. We were just lucky enough to visit in San Diego with my long time girlfriend from when we were young “partiers”. We haven’t seen each other in years and it was as if no time had passed. Her oldest daughter lives in SD and we are looking forward to many more visits together.
I just got a text this morning from my high school girlfriend this morning. We have known each other since we were 15 years old and we are still close.
Many people wondered why we wanted to move so far away for retirement and all I can say is we knew it was right for us. This past Christmas we were able to spend time with my nephew and his sweet family in Ventura. It was the first time since my father passed that we had spent any time at Christmas with “family”. My cousin, who we are so close too, youngest daughter lives in Santa Barbara. Even though we weren’t close growing up, we are getting to know each other as adults and look forward to visiting together soon. (They have a daughter who lives in the Caribbean too, who we have gotten to know better thanks to Facebook!)
One of the funniest coincidences is that another of my cousins, who has lived in Indy longer than we did, and Kevin, have a connection that goes back to their childhood. Her mother and Kevin’s mother were best friends in Fort Wayne while working at ITT! We have gotten to know her more over the last few years and love her dearly.
So, the question we get asked the most is “do you think that Molly will move to California one day?” Our answer is always the same-probably not. You see, Molly learned from us to “make” a family of friends. We are so proud of the life she has built for herself in Louisville and the strong “family” she has there. We have been blessed with visits from three of her close friends and look forward to more visits.
Now, in Oceanside, we are adding on to our family. Our next-door neighbors have “adopted” us as THEIR family and we are honored to have their friendships. I have met many women in my “Meetup” groups and I am starting to form what I believe will be strong friendships with many of them. It is a wonderful time in our lives. We know who we are and what we value and we are so blessed to be in this wonderful city of Oceanside.
I still hold out hope that my relationships with my sister and brother will be healed someday; I wouldn’t be human if I didn’t. But I am okay because I have this wonderful network of “family” all over the country (and the Caribbean!) I didn’t mention any names in this blog, but our “family” knows who they are and that we love them all dearly. So, this Easter, Kevin and I will be spending the day just the two of us. Molly is spending it with her best friend since Kindergarten and her family in Fishers. We are so happy she has them in her life. Whether you are celebrating Easter, Passover or just another Sunday, I hope you take the time to be thankful for the “family” in your life. I know I am.
I am the least athletic person I know. There isn’t an athletic person in my family tree. The only exercise that I have ever enjoyed is walking. Until nine years ago when I started having extreme pain in my left arm. I had no idea what the problem was, but it hurt too much to ignore. I went to the doctor who sent me for a MRI. The MRI showed I had a herniated disk in my neck and the doctor referred me to a spine specialist.
The spine doctor prescribed physical therapy and when that didn’t help, he injected cortisone into my neck- with a HUGE needle. I received no relief from the injection and I was getting pretty frustrated. My physical therapist recommended a massage therapist that did targeted therapeutic massages and he thought she could help me. I cried after my first massage because it was the first time in weeks that my pain was better. After six weeks of treatment, I felt great!! It just so happened that the massage therapist own a yoga studio with her son. I asked my best friend to go with me and we attended our first yoga class. It was Hatha yoga, which is very relaxing and peaceful. I fell in love with the practice! I went once a week for several months and my herniated disk felt so much better.
I would like to say that stuck with the yoga. But, like many adults, life got in the way of taking care of myself. I did go for about eighteen months, but then I slacked off. I started a new job that was very stressful, and I just didn’t have the energy to go to class. I gained 20 pounds and got very out of shape. In May of 2015, we found out we could join the Monon Center in Carmel, IN for free through our insurance. I was delighted when I saw they offered yoga classes. I signed up for the beginner class since it had been so long since I had practiced. That is when I realized how out of shape I really was. I started attending class one night a week on Mondays. My instructor just happened to have a son that had graduated from the new preschool where I had started working. She was kind and made it easy to make adjustments. There were men and women, older and younger people in the class. I remember leaving those first few classes feeling relaxed but completely exhausted.
I started going more frequently and eventually my stamina and strength grew along with my passion for the practice. If you have never tried yoga, it is hard to describe how wonderfully selfish of a sport it is. You are completely focused on yourself and your instructor. It is ALL about the breathing and just deep breathing is so much of a tension reliever. Add in the yoga poses and pushing yourself to do your best, it is the BEST hour of the day. I really don’t pay attention to what the other people are doing; I just lose myself in the practice.
When we decided to retire to Oceanside, it was the middle of winter 2018. We were very busy getting our house ready to sell, not to mention all the paperwork of buying a home long distance. I stopped going to my yoga classes. Yup, I had been going for two and a half years and I had lost 25 pounds. But I was just so overwhelmed by everything going on in my life, that I stopped putting the practice I loved so much as a priority. I missed it, but honestly, I was so busy, I just couldn’t fathom driving the twenty minutes from my house to attend class.
Fast forward to June. We are in our new home in Oceanside and Molly buys me classes at a yoga studio here for Mother’s Day. I go – once. It is so far away from our house (not really) and I was still getting used to the new town. I just wasn’t ready to commit to the practice again. In my defense, going to the beach has a similar effect on me and that is what we spent the summer doing.
Finally, after Thanksgiving, I was ready. I had been doing yoga at home, but I had gained ten pounds since the move. I knew I needed to find a yoga studio and I needed to start making my practice a priority again. Again, through our insurance, I decided to join a gym that offered yoga classes. The gym is literally a two-minute drive from out house. I started going a few weeks before Christmas and from the beginning, it has been wonderful. I have the BEST instructor that I have ever had. She is funny, pushes the class to do their best and makes it easy to make adjustments. I have found my Nirvana again. I am going twice a week and it is MY HOUR to focus just on myself. I set an intention every time I practice for “peace, love flexibility, and mercy.” These are the qualities I want in my life. This is what I focus on while I am practicing. I spend my hour breathing, stretching and balancing. I sweat, I make mistakes and I love it! Yoga has brought strength and balance back to my body. I am working on losing the ten pounds (two pounds off!) and most importantly, I am committed to practicing yoga on a regular basis and this makes me a better me. I hope if you are reading this, you have some form of exercise that makes you feel that way yoga makes me feel. I wish you strength, flexibility, love and mercy.
So the year is 1988 and Kevin and I are living in Indianapolis. The only means of communication are still in person, landline phone and letter writing. Seems very antiquated, but it was just 30 years ago. It is amazing how far we have come in communications in three decades!
The first big changes that I remember are cordless phones, call waiting and answering machines. People don’t listen to their voicemails any longer, but in the late 1980’s, answering machines were a godsend! You no longer had to miss calls and if you didn’t know who was calling, you could let it go to your answering machine and pick up after you heard who it was. Same thing with call waiting. If you were expecting an important call, you no longer had to stay off the phone while you were waiting. When you heard that beep in the background, you just had to do a quick flash on the receiver button to get your second call. It was amazing! And don’t even get me started on cordless phones! You could walk all over your house and talk! If you were lucky, you could even go outside! It was life changing.
Of course, you still had to pay for long distance calls and call waiting cost an extra fee. Soon, caller ID and call forwarding were options also. I know it seems crazy, but these advancements greatly changed the way we communicated in the late 80’s and early 90’s.
I remember cell phones and personal computers both coming into our lives about the same time. We were living in Fishers then and Molly was about 4 years old. I was the first in the family to get a cell phone when they became affordable because I was driving around with a small child all the time. My first cell phone was big, bulky and black. It only made and received calls-no texting. I only had it with me when I was in the car. We bought our first home computer about the same time. It was also huge and expensive. We actually sold some Lilly stock options to buy it. For YEARS we only had one computer and had to schedule time when you wanted to be on it. I still believe this is the best way to control children’s time on the computer. Our computer was in a central location where everyone could see what you were doing.
Things changed quickly over the next few years. Flip phones were introduced. Texting became popular, the Internet and AOL. Even my 80-year-old mother got into the computer age. Then came IPods and laptops. Finally, the big game changer, smart phones. The ways we were able to communicate exploded in just a few short years-life would never be the same.
So, now, in the age of Social Media and cell phones, we can know what each other are doing 24/7 if we want. Becoming unreachable is almost impossible. The question now is are we better off than in years past when we didn’t have so many ways to communicate?
I would answer yes. It took me some convincing when Facebook first came out, but I can’t imagine my life without it. I know for a fact that our move to California would have been so much more difficult without the means of communication we have now. I can talk, text and exchange pictures with my daughter everyday. I can Face Time her if I want to see her and I can keep up with what is happening in her life through Snapchat and Instagram as well as Facebook. I feel CONNECTED to my Social Media family and it has made this move so much less isolating than our move to North Carolina. I found new friends through the Meetup app and I can pick up my laptop or phone when I want to check out what is happening in our new town. I can also keep up with what is happening in our old town and with all our friends around the country and world. I get my news flashes on my Apple Watch and my books on my Kindle.
The thing you have to remember is to not live your life in “cyber” world. Being retired, it is really easy some days to stay home and spend the day on our phones and computers, or binge watching TV shows on Netflix. There are so many options now for communication and entertainment, it is hard sometimes to just relax and enjoy BEING. Now we have to make an effort to UNPLUG, when in years past, it was so easy to feel isolated. I am grateful for all the means of communicating and the opportunity to have this blog to share my feelings and experiences. Keep in touch-I love hearing from everyone!
Cell phones, Internet, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google Search, Snapchat, and streaming services – all of these are ways of communicating that are widely available to the everyday person in 2019. Heck, Kevin and I even “unplugged” from cable TV two years ago and we no longer have a landline phone. Communicating is so easy these days-almost too easy. It is way too easy to go on a rant on Social Media. We now have to worry about “cyber” bullies along with “In real life” (IRL) bullies. I belong to a Facebook book club and an IRL book club. I have Facebook friends that have known me since I was 5 years old. I have an Instagram account for my dogs. I have THIS blog, all because of the Internet and social media.
I know that social media has taken a beating recently and much of it is warranted. People spend too much time on their Smart Phones, myself included. I play way too many games on my phone and spend hours a week in “cyber world”. In this installment of my blog, I would like to take you back, however, to how things used to be; before all these ways of communication were open to us. Let’s say, back to December 1984, when Kevin and I moved to Hickory, NC.
In 1984, there were no “cell phones”. There were satellite phones and a few car phones. Everyone used landlines and pay phones were everywhere. Computers were used as operating systems for businesses, but there was no “Internet”. You had three ways to communicate with another person- by landline telephone, writing a letter or actually in person. Yep, that was it. There was good and bad with this limited ways of communicating. You could be off the grid and no one could find you (this came in handy as a teenager). You could keep information about yourself confidential because everyone couldn’t “Google” you and look at your Facebook page. You could keep your life private if you wanted to and no one asked you why you weren’t on social media.
The down sides were many, however, we didn’t realize it at the time. When Kevin and I moved to North Carolina, we left the first week of December. The weather was unpredictable. We had to drive both of our cars. Mine was not in good shape and Kevin had his fish (yes, fish) in a homemade mobile aquarium. It was a 10-hour drive that took more like 13. We were fine until we got to the mountains between the Tennessee line and Asheville. There are many bridges and switchbacks in these mountains. It was dark and raining and all at once there was a sign flashing “ice on bridge”. To say I freaked out would be an understatement. The ONLY thing that got be through it is that Kevin is a Ham radio operator and he let me bootleg on the radio. He talked me down. He guided my driving and calmed my fears. The only way I got off that mountain was through his love and support through communication we take for granted through cell phones now. I was completely ALONE in that car and his voice through his radio got me through.
Imagine your 23-year-old daughter moving to North Carolina in a beat up car with a guy she had only known a year. Also imagine that it is 1984 and there is no way to talk with her on the long car drive-the longest distance she has ever driven. THAT is what I put my parents through. They didn’t know how dangerous our drive was or if we even made it until the next day! I honestly don’t remember the phone conversation I had with them the next day, but I am sure they had no idea how scary it really was.
Living close to a thousand miles from the only home you have ever known is tough. It was even tougher in 1984. Remember, the only ways to communicate are landline, letter or in person. AND, the phone company charged you for long distance. So, I couldn’t just pick up the phone and call my friends and family and talk for hours on end. I had to wait days between conversations so I didn’t bankrupt us with the phone bill. It was hard, but it made me stronger. It made me grow up. It made me rely on myself and brought Kevin and I closer.
We lived in North Carolina for three and a half years and during that period we got married, in Fort Wayne, Indiana; while living in North Carolina. Remember, the only ways to communicate are by landline, letter or in person. It took two years to plan the wedding, but we did it! And it was perfect! We went to Kiawah Island for our honeymoon and we only had literature and information through the mail and travel agencies to rely on to pick our resort. We bought a house and had to rely on the information our realtor gave us to make our offer. We took many road trips back and forth to Indiana in those three and a half years without the benefit of GPS, cell phones or Google.
When we decided we wanted to move back to Indiana, Kevin applied to Eli Lilly through an ad in a trade magazine. He had his resume professionally printed and applied through the MAIL. When we moved back, we spent a weekend looking at apartments in Indianapolis with a real estate specialist from Lilly. We had no idea where the best place to live was in Indy-we knew nothing really about Indy. We found our way around Indy the same way we did Hickory, NC, through word of mouth and recommendations from friends. The year was 1988 and still only three ways to communicate. But, the future was about to change-would it be for the better?? Coming soon in Part Two of Communication…until then
Coming close to the end of a very significant year for our family has made be very reflective. Hope you don’t mind if I get a little nostalgic.
For me, when I think of Christmastime, I think first of my childhood Christmases. You know, those Christmases when you still BELIEVED in Santa and EVERYTHING about Christmas was magical. From the music, to the cookies, to the tree, to the train that ran around the tree (my favorite!), to Christmas Morning, everything was magical. Those Christmas mornings were truly some of the happiest days of my life because everything was so pure.
As you get older, Christmas gets more complicated. You understand how important it is to get just the right gifts, so as not to disappoint anyone. Your parents tell you no when you want something out of their budget (oh, that doesn’t happen anymore, does it?) and Christmas become this BIG EVENT that lasts from the end of Halloween through New Years. It is stressful, busy, your parents are grumpy and they just want everyone home and getting along.
Then, if you are lucky, you meet the love of your life and Christmas becomes magical again! You are in love! Life is perfect! He knows exactly what to get you and then the BIG gift, an engagement ring hidden in the Christmas tree! Could life get any better?
Christmas takes a backseat to planning your wedding, buying a new house and being a married couple. It is still special, but how could anything match the magic of your wedding? Plus, your spouse doesn’t really put the effort he once did into buying your gifts. But that’s okay, it the thought that counts, right?
When you least expect it, Christmas becomes magical again, even better than when you were a child because you have a child of your own! NOTHING compares to the magic on your child’s face when experiencing the joys of Christmas! The traditions you make together as a family, The music, the cookies, the tree, the train around the tree (yup, same train), being with family and the pure delight of your child opening THAT perfect gift they wanted so much (Baby Born for Molly!)
Sadly, things start to change again. That sweet child has list a mile and bank account long. Your parents aren’t doing well health wise and you aren’t exactly getting along with your siblings. You decide to start spending Christmas at your own home and go to your parents for New Years. The stress starts to eat at you because YOU are now the one in charge of making sure that everything is perfect and according to tradition. It makes you grumpy and you understand why your parents were grumpy at Christmas! (Full circle, you might say!)
Suddenly, things change again. One of your parents has died and the other is heartbroken and lonely. Thing will never be the same for you at Christmas. When your other parent dies three years later, you really just want Christmas to go away. You spend a couple of depressing Christmases at home and then you decide to travel somewhere warm and take a vacation over Christmas. This helps immensely and you start to look at Christmas with warm memories again.
If you haven’t guessed, this timeline is my lifetime of Christmases past. Some were glorious and some were depressing. Some were very religious and some were very commercial. Some were memorable and some I would love to forget.
This brings us to THIS year and I am happy to report that new traditions are started! We are in a new home and bought new decorations. Not a lot-just the right amount to not stress us (meaning me) out. Molly comes tomorrow and stays for TWELVE days! We are spending the weekend before Christmas with extended family for the first time in years! We are having seafood for Christmas Eve dinner. We are going on a harbor cruise to celebrate our new neighbor’s Christmas birthday. We will play games, go to movies, go shopping and eat way too much food. Guess what? I am excited for Christmas this year!!! If there is one thing that I have learned during this year of change is that life is too short to not live it to its fullest. We made a great leap of faith coming to Oceanside and it feels so right to be here. And you know what I want most for Christmas?? For us all to be together and getting along, just like my parents all those years ago.
I sincerely hope that each and every one reading this have a very blessed Christmas, whatever that means for you. And if it is not in the cards to be a great one, I hope you have the strength to make the changes in your life for the next year. There is always hope if you have faith. Merry Christmas!
Well, it has been almost two months since I have written in this blog. Lots has happened in those two months. Molly came to visit for two weeks, along with two of her close friends who are like daughters to us for shorter visits. We got artificial turf installed and the dogs are in heaven! Our solar panel project is back on. I have made many new friends through my “Meet Up” groups and I am starting to feel like I am a part of my new community. We have had some not so great things happen too. Kevin’s job turned out to not be what we thought and him and his employer parted ways, so he is retired again. Kevin is still dealing with eye issues from having a partially detached retina. I had a nasty sinus infection that knocked me on my butt for a few days. And now the horrific shooting in Thousands Oaks and the horrendous wildfires destroying lives and homes in our new state.
I decided when I started this blog that I only wanted to write inspirational pieces. At least, pieces with a purpose. I have had kind of a “writer’s block” going on, but since it is Veteran’s Day, I have been inspired to write about the heroes in my life.
It’s funny, but all my heroes are men. I never realized this until I started to write this piece. I have lots of women who I admire greatly, but my true heroes are men. Wonder what that means??
The biggest hero in my life is my dad. Those of you, who know me well, know that my dad was the light of our family. He was the one you wanted to please, but also the one who you knew loved you no matter what you did. My dad is the closest image of “goodness” I have ever known. When I was a young girl, he was my “safe place”. When Dad was home, we were a complete family. I was an adult before I realized everything my dad had been through in his life. Their parents abandoned my dad and his brother when my dad was just two years old. They were sent to Ohio from Fort Wayne, IN to live with their paternal grandparents. My dad lived there through the Depression and he was dirt poor. When my grandmother divorced for the second time, my dad returned to Fort Wayne to live with his mother. After graduating from high school, he enrolled in General Electric’s Apprentice school to become a toolmaker. WWII started and my father choose to enlist so he could pick his branch of the military. He joined the Navy because he knew that hand-to-hand combat wasn’t for him. He met my mother one month before he shipped out for Basic Training. It was love at first sight, but he didn’t want to leave my mother a widow, so they waited to marry until after the war. The letters they wrote to each other during the war are the best things I have ever read. Not only did my dad fight in both Theaters of WWII, he sent money back to his mother to support her-the same mother who deserted him at the age of 2. He was the most selfless person I have ever known, He worked two jobs so my mother could stay home with us when we were little. He always drove the “older” car. He never complained about being my mother’s caregiver in her final years of life-he saw it as his duty as her husband and he cared for her with joy in his heart. He volunteered for the Red Cross for so many years, they finally hired him in his 70s! He never had a mean word to say about anyone and he loved unconditionally. The reason I no longer fear death is because I know I will see him again in Heaven. He was the rock of our family and the best person I will ever know.
My next hero doesn’t even know that he is a hero to me. I am talking about my nephew David. David is my older sister’s son. David didn’t have an easy childhood. His father left the family when he was young and his sister committed suicide when she was just 16 years old. David grew up in Ventura, CA, but he spent two school years living in Indiana with my parents. Once when he was in the third grade and one when he was in middle school. He loved my dad like we all did and he wanted his grandpa to be proud of him. David knew from an early age that he wanted to be a California Firefighter, but he also knew it would be a hard job to land. So, he followed in his grandfather’s footsteps and he joined the Navy and became a fireman on board ship. David was at the end of his deployment when the USS Cole was bombed in Yemen. David was on the USS Shiloh, which was the same type of ship as the Cole, and when we first heard of the bombing, we didn’t know the name of the ship attacked. We were so relieved it was not David’s ship, but horrified at the attack.
David took many jobs after his service in the Navy and got his EMT license while applying to various fire departments.. He was accepted to the LA County Fire Academy at the same time that he proposed to the love of his life, Jeannine. My mother had passed by the time David and Jeannine were married, but Dad traveled with us to the wedding. I believe that David’s wedding day was one of the happiest days for my dad-he was so happy for his grandson!
David and Jeannine have two children now, and just like my dad, David works hard so Jeannine can be home with the kids. He is a LA County Paramedic now and he does his work with dedication and commitment. Just like his grandfather. He doesn’t boast about his work, he just does it. I pray every day that he is kept safe so he can go home to his sweet family. Last year, his own town of Ventura was threatened by fire and he was gone for three weeks. He is now fighting the current fires in LA County-please keep him in your prayers. I know his grandfather is watching over him from Heaven and is proud.
My final hero is the one I know the best-my husband Kevin. I know, it sounds really corny, but it is true. They say you marry your father, so I hit the jackpot! Kevin and I have been together for 35 years. We have had our good times and our not so good times. He hasn’t always been my hero, just the opposite many times throughout our relationship. But, anything worth having is worth working for, and Kevin and I have worked for our marriage. Kevin too, had a tough early life. Both of his parents died when he was in college. He is an only child, so he was all alone. When we met, I was drawn to his kindness and his sense of humor. He has many “traits” that I am not crazy about, but he has ALWAYS taken care of me. He didn’t really want to get married, but he knew it was important to me, so we got married. He didn’t want children, but I did, so we had the joy of our lives, Molly. He didn’t complain when I decided to become a stay home mom for five years after Molly was born. He didn’t want to build our second home in Fishers, but he knew it was important to me, so we built it. We lived there for 18 years! He didn’t believe me when I said we could retire to California, but he kept the faith that I was right, and here we are. Everything we have is because we have been a “team” together. So, you are probably saying, “that’s just a good marriage” and that would be true. What you don’t know is that Kevin has faced many health issues the last three years. Major health issues. Thank God he is doing good now, and being retired is the best thing for his health. He still feels like he should be working and I keep telling him to relax-you have earned this time in your life. Just like my dad, he worries about the future, my future, and Molly’s future. We just want HIM, here with us. God truly blessed my life that night in October of 1983 at O’Sullivan’s in Fort Wayne when I met Kevin. I am trying to do a better job of showing Kevin how much he means to me and how much I love and admire him.
So, on this Veteran’s Day, here is my inspirational blog. Take time to thank the heroes in your life-you never know how long you will have to tell them
How do you make friends when you move to a totally new town? Through work? Through your children? Through your neighbors? Well, I have learned that the newest way to make friends is through the Internet!
When Kevin and I moved to Hickory, we both had full time jobs. We made dear friends through our workplaces and we still have these friends today. This move has been different. I didn’t like my job, so I didn’t have time to make friends there. Kevin has just started his new job, and the people there seem very nice. However, his workplace is in another town and the people live far away from us.
Our neighbors have been wonderful and we have become close friends. They are older than us, though, and it is more of a “parental” relationship. Our child doesn’t live here, so how do we go about making friends?
There is an app called “Meet Up” that has become quite popular. I first learned of it last summer when we started kayaking and were looking for people to paddle with. So, when I wanted to find friends with similar interests, I decided to check out the “Meet Up” groups here. It is amazing what you can find!
I have joined three groups so far. The first one is a book club that meets once a month. I have been doing Jen Lancaster’s online book club and it made me want to do a “Real Live Person” book club. I found a women’s book club that meets near me, and my first “meeting” is next Tuesday! The second group I joined is a knitting group. They meet several times a week and I am going for my first meet up with them on Thursday. The third group I joined is a women’s lunch group that meets every Tuesday for lunch and focuses on forming long lasting friendships. I am going to my first “lunch” tomorrow!
So how does it feel meeting people this way? Honestly, a little weird! I am basically asking people I don’t know to accept me into their “group”. But, then I remember that is what the “Meet Up” app is all about!
Am I nervous? Absolutely!! What if they don’t like me? What if I don’t like them?? Then I remember that is how life works. You aren’t going to become friends with everyone you meet, but if you don’t try, you won’t meet anyone!! So I have three “blind dates” in the next week. Wish me luck-no map can lead me to where I am going next!