There are times when family comes together whether it be for Labor Day, Birthdays, or the most celebrated holidays like Christmas but then there are other times that you plan to see each other for no other reason but to just “visit” my family often says. It is the event of just “being” in the same space, same moment, just laughing together…even if you had plans during your time together to forage the bounty of agriculture around you, go to a famous water park, or finally have family photos taken because you are all together. It is these moments that the days and hours don’t matter. Just take that cliché’ term and really “relish in the moments” you have together. No one really knows how much time we have left in this life.
There are so many “holidays” to be together but what about all the months, days, and moments together?? My family was together over the weekend…two birthdays and an anniversary celebrated together. There is hustle and bustle, getting to this place and that, everyone having their own idea about what should or should not happen when we are all together. But that all falls away when you come together with the people you KNOW will always be there.
It was in the moments of sitting in my living room reading “meme’s” from the internet with my sister and our kids in the back room playing that I looked over at her and realized I could just be in the same room with her and know that my life could be peeled back like the skin of an onion and all “my tribe” would be in those layers. In the same space with her makes me feel whole, understood, and complete. She is of my “people”!
Over the years I have gained and lost people in my life…sometimes for the best and for the worst of reasons but these people were placed in my life for a purpose. I have celebrated the holidays with these people. Some are easier to let go of than others. I have learned that other than a few select humans; my family is what is–still, concrete, and steadfast in my life.
I have been told by many over the years to “not over think it” but that is just part of who I am and I don’t think it is necessarily always a negative quality but with some, I think this is how they see it. I admit, to thinking about the consequences of my actions, the things that I say and what will happen even before I have said them, way too much. I think about the words I am wanting to say to someone and then spend too much time trying to figure out if I am going to say them or ask them too much and often, I spend days going back and forth and thus, torturing myself with this second guessing and draining behavior in my life. This was all self inflicted!
There were times in the past that I spent endless amounts of time biting my tongue and trying to be the way I thought others thought I should be because I hate confrontation. I hate the feeling that others might think I am being rude or confrontational. However, who I was, was coming at an expense. There comes a point where you must say what you need too because it begins to tear you apart as a person. This can be where you start to lose who you are or were. So, don’t it! Please don’t!
There are very few people I let into my life some riskier than others but I trust, have faith, and believe the best of them. I will not lie but yes, I do get let down. I will still keep risking this because the value of a relationship/friendship sometimes can change your life forever.
The one true thing I know is that family will always be there. No matter what the circumstances. I could call anyone in my family and if I needed them, no matter what the day. My family is steadfast and loves me unconditionally.
I woke from a terrible nights sleep with plans to hang with a friend for the day. It was the only thing that got me going this morning. Some days it’s just the coffee, other days it’s a text, and some day’s life surprises you. It’s those days that I want every day. The ones that knock you back on your heels and something spontaneous catches you off guard. I want more of those days!
As for today, plans change as they do and my plans got cancelled so I spent an hour writing, randomly cleaning, and generally, feeling pathetic. I put that on myself, I choose to behave like a toddler. Instead of wallowing in my messy hair, pjs, and old teal slippers, I called my sister who told me to put my big girl panties on and go do something. So, I made a new plan to have a me day!
Then I got another text and plans changed again. So, rather than trying to dwell on why, when, what the hell? Should I go with my new plan or the original one? I switched gears and was in the car.
I went with it! Isn’t that what life should really be about? Just going for it. Or the cliché’ “just do it”. With in an hour, I was throwing my head back in laughter and I realized I was in the beginning of one of those days that would knock me back on me heels. There is something to be said for a day of solitude and quiet contentment but sometimes you just need another person. And yesterday I spent the day with a dear friend.
I was with one of my tribe yesterday. She gets me and laughs as much as I do and has a slightly inappropriate sense of humor and nothing is off limits. Our slightly edgy attitude I am sure makes people notice us but I think it is just because we are sincerely laughing the entire time we are together. And damn, laughter is the best medicine. (I can think of one other thing better but I will keep this PG-13.)
Funny how fast your mood can change? You can feel one way and it changes in the blink of an eye by the people you surround yourself with. Life is too short for feeling miserable in the few moments we may or may not have left in our lives on this earth. Don’t hold back, try everything, and don’t let someone else’s shit drag you down. And lately, I am trying to teach myself to stop thinking so much and stop asking why, who, what, where, and when. (Insert: I have always been an over-thinker and recently, I have been encouraged to get out of my own head!! This is powerful once you start but I have fallen off the wagon a few times.)
We started our day with an impromptu photo-shoot for me at a vineyard and I drug my friend along. Followed by some wine bottling, yes, I said wine bottling. (A first for both of us.) My wrists are killing me but I am willingly going back tomorrow for more. We bottle and capped a few hundred bottles and I was spurted about five times in the face with wine, I did have white on early today but quickly changed. Damn, was I lucky. So, I didn’t actually get to taste the wine but did as it ran down my face to my lips as I sprayed myself. (Insert: very inappropriate thought.) After a quick taste of the aged dessert wine we were off to return a few bras, get school supplies, see a movie…and in no particular order.
We talked over each other, listened to music so loud we were slightly yelling at each other, trying to figure out what to do next, and started about seven different conversations.
As we landed ourselves in Victoria’s Secret it was a great laugh to watch all the men/boys walking around a few steps behind each of their ladies…embarrassed as if they didn’t want to show that they really wanted their ladies to buy the inappropriate lacey undergarments while their ladies were only picking up the granny panties. It was awesome, we were there for an hour and I did not see a single man/boy touch a single pair of panties. (Insert: these guys are going to tear the lingerie off their woman’s body later, so why not touch it now? Baffling!) I was interested in looking at bras, panties, and sexy silk and lace things which were in one corner of the store.
Giggling to myself as I got a thong stuck on a few hangers which I could not figure out how I did and my awful attempt to untangle them with one hand, coffee and purse in my other, I shoved the shitty mess back in the rack and escaped from a lady coming toward me in her black outfit and pink measuring tape over her shoulder. (What is it about the sales women wanting to confirm your bra size? If you know what size shirt, jeans, and shoes you wear…no one ever asks you to confirm that shit…if I am shopping for a bra and panties, I don’t need that confirmed either…. especially by a woman who continuously calls everyone in the dressing room “kitten” …. yes, “kitten”! WTF! Someone needs to teach her a new word! (Side note: I have hated the word “panties” my entire life and am so proud that I now have typed it repeatedly but it will never fall from these lips! Small victories, right!) After the kitten lady gave us a loud talk about women’s bodies being soft and men loving it, after all we gave them babies…I was sincerely puzzled by her anorexia skinny body and her passion behind what she was trying to convince us of and that my friend kept trying to quiet me from laughing after the kitten lady could not figure out our issues with side boob.
Needless to say, I knocked some planners, yes, school planners from the store into the trash can and curiously tried to picture the mother who would buy a lingerie brand planner for their young daughter?? With the swipe of my credit card from the grouchiest sales girl in the store, I wanted to go get “kitten” lady to give some of her spice to “Heather”. She reeked of bad attitude and should not be allowed at any check-out counter dealing with people.
Next stop, theatre. We bought tickets to see Bad Moms which some may think, how cliché’. But all moms should watch this movie! We always go to the same theatre where you can eat, drink, and watch all in one place…that is NOT our own home!! We got there early and laughter proceeded as always and she was trying to shut me up as she laughed just as loud. The theatre was not empty and it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. So, our laughter broke the silence up a bit. We ordered our cocktails and food and the lights dimmed. It was in that moment my kids decided to start calling me and texting me. (I promised I would always answer.) It is strange to me that they always want me when I am gone when they could walk 100 yards to the shop and ask their dad. I wasn’t going to start being a “bad mom” in that moment so I answered the phone and my one son had made an entire plan about having dinner with grandma and spending the night…and the only thing I could do where I was as the movie had started was say, “call your dad!”
The movie was perfect, I have felt all the things as a mom that were portrayed in that movie and if all of you moms out there can’t admit to feeling to at least one of those things, I just don’t believe you! It must have been senior day…because the people in the theater were either so old they don’t remember what it was like to have kids, never had kids, were on a date, or too young to simple understand the concept of being a parent! However, we were our own pair of mom’s laughing through the entire movie because it was all relative and things that we have felt and totally exaggerated!! Again, more laughter for the day!!
I came home to an empty house filled with solitude after my two drinks…something kicked in…the writer in me. I had half away made it down the hall turned the shower on half undressed and well, put my clothes back on and turned the water off. In that moment, in the quiet…I grabbed my computer and I couldn’t stop writing.
Sitting alone in my house, I wrote and laughed, wrote and laughed. Yes, out loud. So, although my day didn’t go the way I planned it would, I did figure out how to just be in the moment the entire day (I did something new bottled wine), relished in the sound of laughter, and rounded off the day doing what I am most passionate about – writing.
I am constantly reminded of how precious life is and how important my perspective is on life. I will admit that there has been a chunk of my life that I have flown through without reminding myself to keep things in perspective and to take those extra moments to not rush through life.
It is so easy to let the negative out weigh the positive and to pass over small delicate moments for the big ones. All those big moments rush through and often, are over dramatized… and in seconds, they are gone. I want to slow down my moments and pay attention to what is right in front of me. The moments to follow will come in time, so why rush them?? Why rush what will happen anyway?
My perspective is often to get through the tasks of today, tomorrow, and the next day systematically and to always complete them even if at the cost of one of those moments that I should have relished in. Slowly, I am changing and realizing how important spontaneity is to me and how much I love being surprised by life.
A few days ago, in the middle of those daily chores of mowing the lawn, walking the dog, cleaning the car, and spreading bark dust, I stopped. I felt this wave wash in as my kids busily worked around me in the hot sun robotically, neither of them smiling. It took me just a minute to see they were painfully passing through a moment that could have a touch of spontaneity in it. I wanted to change their perspective and I wanted to see them smile in that moment. I went around the back side of the house and filled a few bucket of water and I went in for the hose. I uncoiled a good 10 feet and started spraying high above and watched the water rain down on them. I taunted them with the full buckets. They could have them if they could get to them.
In those insignificant moments of daily chores, I changed their perspective. Thirty minutes of spontaneous joy that lifted all of our spirits was enough to change the monotony of the ritualistic moments we were in.
As my kids get older, so do I and I can’t stop that but I can take more time to pay attention. Life throws all sorts curve balls our way and it is up to us to be able to adapt how we react to them. I am a firm believer that things happen for a reason. In the past, I have wasted time trying to figure out why and what it all means when I could have just soaked it all in like a sponge instead of burdening my mind and moments with trying to figure it out. As for today and all the days in front of me, I am going to work on staying out of my head and relishing in the moments that really matter.
At 3am on a Tuesday, I woke up suddenly, got out of bed after tossing and turning for an hour and came to the living room. I tore sheets of blank paper out of a notebook I had and started writing about the DREAM I had just had. Simply put, that dream is my first book, “Grandpa’s Orchard.”
Dreams are important! Dreams challenge you and force you to face your inner most insecurities. For me, with my writing I never thought I would be sitting where I am today. I dreamt about being published and have openly spoken about it for years. I wanted to write not just for me but for my family, my children, to share myself with the world and to leave something behind that could make a difference.
Having this dream for me, or anyone having a dream for themselves is about having faith that what will be, will be. Taking a blind leap knowing you have prepared the best way possible and once you leap you believe and have faith you will land where you are meant to be. In my experience, when we (my husband and I) have taken that leap we have always landed in a far better place than we thought we ever would. But for my writing, this was all on me. Leaping on my own was scary.
In my inner circle it became something I just said and about a year ago I took a hard look at my dreams. I knew that if I spent my whole life worrying about how to take care of everyone else’s needs and dreams (which I willing did), where would I be in another five years. Who would I be? Would I like that person? I knew I would regret not taking a leap!! I would have always wondered. These questions alone made me start writing again.
I knew at the least that if I wrote I would feel more self-accomplishment, more fulfilled in my life, and more alive! And when I first started writing again it was not a children’s book, a children’s book wasn’t even on my list of things to write.
I still remember the day. I sat down in my writing nook, with a pen and paper and started writing from a writing prompt that was given to me years ago in high school.
“Now is Still Unknown.”
I have had numerous people in my life encourage me to keep writing, they would encourage me to write a book, poetry or short stories…just keep writing even if it’s just for you, they would say. Deep down I always knew I was a writer, it started the day I entered my creative writing class in high school. I was given a chance with pen, paper, and I felt it running through my veins – like someone punching me in the gut.
For years, I wrote about everything in my life. The intensity of my writing grew when I had great tragedies in life…I still write my way through some of these. Someday, I want to publish these pieces of me that are raw, secret, locked inside – unknown to many but I want to publish them and share them because my gut tells me my words will help people. I believe in writing what hurts, for me its about letting go of the past and if there is a lesson learned I can share to help even one person. I feel drawn to do so. There is great power in this and great healing.
On Thursday, I opened the mail box and found two very thin boxes inside. I noticed the return address from “authorscript” which really meant nothing to me but as I pulled back the card board in disbelief my book revealed itself to me. One hard cover and one soft cover in my hands. It was one of the best feelings I have ever had in my life. I tore out the the front door running across the farm to my husband, partially in tears I tried to speak and thrust the books forward in my hands. I know I babbled something but I have no idea what. In that moment, I had done it. I had fulfilled my dream!!!
My dream wasn’t a dream anymore; it was a reality! This feeling I have had for the last 2 and half days is indescribable! I am relishing in these moments, taking it all in, I don’t want to miss a thing, I want to celebrate and shout from the rooftop. Now more than ever, I am driven to finish the next two books. And I can proudly say, I am an author.
Waking my children in the morning is my favorite part of my day. Maybe it’s because I can watch them in stillness like I used when they where infants. They once shared a crib, swaddled together. Now they have their own rooms, full size beds, and their own interests cover the walls in photographs and décor, and shows in what they choose to wear everyday. In the quietness before I touch them to wake, I smile knowing they will always be the best thing I did this life.
One sleeps in the fetal position completely covered by one blanket and hates having a top sheet on his bed. He has wires, batteries, motors, duck tape, and nuts and bolts scattered about his night stand. The night stand mirrors how organized he is in his bedroom, with his belongings, his locker at school, and his clear interested in engineering. His room is a beautiful mess.
The other rests in a queen bed, covered in Seattle Seahawks sheets, blankets, wearing matching pj’s, 5 pillows, and a light dusting of décor around the room for anything that has to do with cars, engines, and the Dodge Helcat. His arms and legs are spread reaching for the sides of the bed. I see his face and I see me. On his night stand there is a glass of water, a book, IPad, and a lamp his great grandfather made from an antique candlestick.
I still remember the crib. I remember what they wore home from the hospital and how it felt watch them sleep at night back then. They used to wake me.
Maybe this chance I am gifted with every morning is because of the opportunity for introspection before I take hold of another day just to help them get closer to who they will become.
Today, I went back to a place that I haven’t been in awhile. Rather, I went back to an activity that I haven’t done in awhile. I found myself in three different classes in Turner, Oregon. Each class was about 30 students and I found a passion ignite in me that I thought I didn’t have anymore or at least, I forgot that I had.
Side note #1: Back November 2015, after many years at the same job I painfully came to the decision that I needed to leave. Not because I wanted too but because my children were struggling with school and had just moved to the middle school. It was a difficult transition and I knew if I didn’t leave my job I couldn’t give the amount of time and energy to what was my #1 job…being a mom. I remember the day, crying and saying, “I have to resign.”
I left something I loved doing and something I believed was important for students to know about (agriculture) because I knew I could never get this time back with my children. Years pass by so quickly with children and every day that passes, they change, and with the difficulties they were having I couldn’t possibly not leave my job. Today, I know I made the right choice.
Yesterday, I went to the middle school and found that both of my boys were chosen by two different teachers’ for a “Teacher’s Choice” award. They both were recognized for their smiles, positive attitudes, their drive, and they never quit when it gets tough – this made me very proud. The assembly went on and without really paying attention I heard one of my son’s names called for Honor Roll. I was shocked, fumbled for my camera and got one picture. This showed me I made the right choice. Both of my sons are thriving!!
The job I left was with Oregon Agriculture in the the Classroom. I worked there for quite a few year’s and I loved it! Still to date, my favorite job! I loved the people I worked with. I believed in the message of the program to share agriculture with students in the state of Oregon and to educate students about what agriculture means to all of us.
There all things about every job that we like more than others but for this job, it was simple. For me, it was teaching students about agriculture. I could be having a rough morning; the kind you really don’t want to get out of bed but when I walk through the door of almost every classroom I have been in I thrive! The curiosity in their eyes when they look at me gives me such a rush, I know that I will be able to teach them something they didn’t know before they arrived that morning and I know each one of them will take a piece of that information with them!! It’s a challenge. I walked in those rooms today, I knew how to present, how to grab their attention, what to talk about, and I knew they would listen. It was awesome!!!
Side note #2: During my job interview, I couldn’t define the word “agriculture”, like at all! I couldn’t say farm, dirt, truck, tractor….and I actually requested that we come back to that question. (Oh, the embarrassment!)
I have always had a goal to make sure I get an “ohh” and an “ahhh” out of a teacher during my presentations. When I run out of those, I need to educate myself more. (Or at least that is what I think.) I research and I find something else, sometimes it takes a lot of digging. Politely, I love having a teacher ask me a question I know the answer to and seeing the surprise in their faces. This was always something I did in my job. I wanted teachers to know without them noticing that I was one step a head. I took so much pride…. real pride, in teaching about agriculture and the importance of it when I was working!
I am confident that I am able to teach students something new but when I can teach the teacher something…that is what I want to do!! That is the good stuff – the sweet spot! I love love teaching students but when I can stump the teacher…that, is the sweet spot!
The students are amazing (not all of the time) but I know how to command the attention in the room…I’d like to say I inherited that from my father (a teacher for over 30 years). He was an awesome teacher not because he was my dad but because now at 39, I still have people on the street ask me about my dad and what he is doing and they always, always share something about how my dad impacted their lives. Now, that is a good teacher! Who wouldn’t want to be remembered that way. I only wish that as I get older and when I perhaps pass that people talk about me the way they talk about my dad.
So, today after teacher three classes. I am honored to do it again. Monday, in fact I am lucky enough, I get to teach again. Not because it’s my job any more but because I truly love it. I am passionate about it and it makes me see the world differently. Seeing something through the eyes of a student or young person can change your life. I know when I am teaching about agriculture, I make an impact and I know I am good at it!
Today, I made a difference. I taught about 90 students, three teachers, and someone peaking threw the door.
I came to this place with boxes, clothes in suitcases, shopping bags stuffed full with everything I needed access too on a daily basis. Everything I had to my name came in Rubbermaid containers…some of which hadn’t been opened since high school. They had been moved from colleges, attics, dorms, houses, basements, the home our babies first lived in, and then moved again, to the farm.
I had no idea what I was getting myself into but I knew I could trust my husband on blind faith that everything would work out. Don’t hold your breath…everything has worked out so far!! But we have tons of time left to screw it up! HA!
We are so luck and blessed to be a part of this legacy this parents created years ago. I am not going to lie-it gets lonely for me. I am surrounded by everything beautiful, everything that everyone is so jealous of, but you know women…they never are quite satisfied. Today, I can say this farm is everything I ever dreamed it could be.
I have two amazing 12 year old boys, who yes, act up at times. They are polite, kind, loving, generous, well behaved, for the most part–not like some other kids we know that after an hour with them we want to drown them! (Understand, this is a joke!) My boys are helpful-they vacuum, do the dishes, clean their rooms, do the laundry, work in the yard, help out on the hysters, 4-wheelers, and check the traps in the orchard. I could not ask for better children and this is because, of course, they have two wonderful parents (HA!) but also because of our families. Most families don’t have both sets of parents near, practically fighting over them. Everyone wants “their” time…..is that a wonderful problem to have or what…a wonderful gift to have, I say!
There is so much to complain about in life but does all that little shit matter….when you have family, food on the table, a home, and more family-a loving husband, my parents, his parents, his brothers (and Jaimy, damn it-marry her, already) and my siblings with their kids. My brother and sister who have given my kids, cousins!! I always loved my cousins growing up……I still do, but life changes!! Today, I say-just be satisfied in this moment!
Moving to this farm was very hard for me, having my in-laws closer than neighbors, trying to figure out where I fit out here, in this dream land my husband was living in…..fulfilling his dream of work and raising our boys on the farm.
Somehow, in someway, moving here almost 10 years ago I found my voice again.
It was always here hiding inside me….being called out daily. Always, I stuffed it back down deep inside over and over, until it broke free.
A certain someone, Brittney Hall, kicked my ass in gym one day. I moved slowly for weeks, sore everywhere, places I didn’t know I could be sore, and her positive outlook and driven personality-broke down my wall. I remember sitting down after one of the classes she tried to kill me in, I was looking out the window, raining falling, so sore…..I leaned back, closed my eyes…..and my left hand found my black roller ink pen and I started to write again. My pen couldn’t keep up with my words, I wrote for six hours straight that day……. listen to this song by Andra Day called, Rise Up! (I would put it here for you to listen to but I don’t know how to do this….damn technology!) This song, is again in thanks to, Brittney Hall.
Morning, afternoon, and evening I continued my writing, crying, I wrote the ink clean out of two pens!
I walked up the large, steep, steel ramp. I slammed my foot down and it vibrated up my leg. I was forced to take a silly picture against a green screen and I was given a map. Yellow arrows were pointed out on the floor to me by a Vet. His jacket covered with patches, three metals, and a cap he wore with honor, tipped down over his left eye. The wrinkles around his sunken eyes and creases at the corner of his smile pointed me ahead, I wanted to stop and sit, ask him questions, listen to him talk about those years on this ship. I smiled and said thank you without looking back.
I left my heart sitting with him on that bench….now a retired director on a ship he loved and served his life on-no one would ever understand where he had been. Today, tourists walk by excited and busy without even seeing him. This man of honor and steel.
I followed the yellow arrows around and under, up stairs and down stairs, in bunk rooms, in senior officers rooms, kitchens, mess halls, the Captain’s quarters. I peered through the same port holes, ran my hand down the rough steel exterior of a gun that I couldn’t possibly image going off. I laid on a bunk….three high and once in the bunk, I could not get out or down. How could a full grown man fit in that bunk?
The steps, the stairs, the arrows, getting lost even with the arrows and the map, the history that was in front of me and behind me, so much life once happened on this ship….everything around me, underneath me…..I couldn’t breath, couldn’t catch my breath, I was so quiet, I could hear everything. Tears rolled down my face…
I was so moved. I could hear mates shouting , I could feel the exhaustion in me trying to imagine what these men and women sacrificed for us, for our country, the emotional burden of what it might be like without a family, I stood on the port side of the ship, wind on my face and whispered, “thank you.”
As I followed the arrows back to the exit ramped, I shook hands with every officer I passed-making sure to look into their eyes. Without saying any words. Their eyes told me years of stories. They showed me their wounds, their losses and their wins and how proud they were to be a officer on the USS IOWA.
I spent the day getting ready. Primping, finding just the right clothes, and imagining his eyes when they met mine. Tight denim clung to my hips, cowboys that amused him, and a silk tank sunk low in a V to just above my breasts. I knew he would peak at any moment. He wanted me and I wanted him with the same urgency.
I checked myself one last time in the rearview mirror…nerves fluttered from my throat to my toes and I could hardly swallow. All I had to do was get out of the car, my hand trembled as I reached for the handle……swallow…..deep breath…. and finally the warm summer air swirled around me. Engulfed in the evening sunset, I grabbed my cooler from the back of the car and came around the cabin and there he was.
Our eyes met but he did not come over to me. I talked to everyone before it seemed that we made our way together by force. I hugged him, I was shaking, he trembled and I could feel his soft sweaty palms through my silk shirt. We both wanted to hold on but even then it may have seemed a second to long.
He gave me a cold one and moved back around to the other side of the fire pit. He kept his distance but every time I looked at him, he was looking at me. The same smile and spark in those blue eyes.
It had been years. So long since we looked at each other, saw each other’s eyes, and how it felt when just the two of us looked at each other. So long……. since we talked and spent years talking, and not enough time showing each other how much we loved each other.
In an all consuming way, where nothing seemed to fit without the other. Somehow, we carried on along side each other…watching and waiting for the other to take the first step. There was never a first step. Maybe a few seconds of hands touching, a mere kiss on the cheek, but later much later things changed. Things evolved and it became clear to me.
The moment I knew, I came back from a run. There was a wet mist in the air. I was feeling defeated by my week, all alone, and my mind found him waiting in the dark corners. I stretched, and rested after my shoes pounded pavement and it started to rain. The kind of rain that washes away your soul…my hair matted wet on my shoulders, my clothes stuck to every curve in my body like glue and just like that, I knew.