Too many thoughts, too little time.

Archive for the ‘bettering myself’ Category

Dealing with the Problem

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I got a gift card to a Christian bookstore for Christmas. I have a Bible I really like. I have a cover I really like. I don’t need a cross necklace or a shirt that seems to be about the video game Halo at first glance, and then upon reading you find out is actually a Bible verse. I don’t listen to much Christian music. I found some artwork I kind of liked, but, Brad is going through a “if you are Christian, you shouldn’t have to advertise it!” thing right now, and wrinkled his nose, and especially since I didn’t love the paintings, I left them there. But, I found these mugs. They were cute. And, they were the size I like for my morning coffee. And, they were heavy. Not the kind that burn your hands when you microwave them. So, this is what I bought.

Now, speaking of loving my husband, I thought I’d update after my last post. Brad really was driving me nuts when I wrote that. But, how to deal? So, I had a nice long talk with myself. I think I avoid being put in the crazy bin over these one-sided conversation because they are reasonable. Was he really doing anything wrong? No, he was not. Was he a jerk? No. Was I really mad at him or was he a safe place to direct some anger? Crap…maybe he doesn’t deserve this. But then, I’d try to find other things to be mad at him about. So, he’d deserve it.

And, I decided to stop it. If I loved him, which I do. And, if I wanted to have a happy marriage, which I do, then I couldn’t go around looking for trouble. I decided while I was still very frustrated with him, and being very vocal about how frustrated I was, that I was being kind of a jerk, and I had told him plenty that was wrong, but little that was right. He went back to work, and I started writing him e-mails. One a day. Sometimes I started in the morning and added to it throughout the day, sometimes it was rushed in the few minutes before we talked on the phone at night. But, he got an e-mail everyday telling him sometimes specific I loved or appreciated about him.

He’s home now for the holidays, so, the e-mails stopped. But, I am not as annoyed or as short-tempered this time. And, instead of looking for problems, I’ve actually been taking note of little things to tell him I love, to keep up the e-mails once in awhile. It seems to have helped, and I’m enjoying doing it. And, the temptations from November seem to be gone. I’m pretty excited about it.

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Weighty Topics

health food

 

I am currently down 22 pounds from when I got married, about 15 months ago.

A huge majority of that has been lost over the last 3 months.

You know, when I started dating Aussie, I wouldn’t let him know how much I weighed. In fact, I wouldn’t tell him until maybe a year ago. Somewhere in my head, I had decided that if he knew how much I weighed, he’d think I was fat and not be interested anymore.

We went on a road trip yesterday, and were able to talk a lot. It’s one of the reasons I love road trips with him. I read an article about how “thigh gap” is the coveted thing among teen age girls. And, how so many are not able to attain it, no matter how little they weigh. I told him, I wished I could tell all teenagers, and many adults, it takes all kinds of kinds. Whatever you look like? Odds are good there is someone out there who is attracted to that. Aussie was talking about how guys don’t feel as much pressure to be thin, they don’t keep their weight a secret, but, there is pressure to find the right body type girl. If you don’t, then there must be something wrong with you. If a guy likes a chubby girl, or if that is his type, he is ridiculed. He might date her anyway,but, makes sure to tell his friends that you know, she’s really great. Except for maybe that weight thing. I thought it was interesting. Luckily for us, we met in our late twenties and a bit of the pressure was off. He was free to date a chubby chick, I was free to date a computer geek and we are happy and our friends are happy for us.

I wish weight was not such a taboo subject. I was asked once when the baby was due. i wasn’t pregnant. I remember crying and wanting Aussie to tell me he liked me, fat and all. And, he could not do it. Because you are not allowed to ever acknowledge someone is fat. He basically kept saying I had a great personality and was beautiful, so he loved me. Like, fat girls can’t be beautiful? And, it used to drive me insane when he’d argue with me when I said I was fat/needed to lose weight. I would think to myself “I want to zip line with our son. I am too fat to do so, therefor, I need to lose weight.” and he’d insist I didn’t. We talked about that yesterday, he said that of course he said that, that is what boys are supposed to say. If you say anything else, the woman will be hurt and upset, and either starve herself or become suicidal, so, you never say that. All girls are beautiful and thin. Both of those “issues” with us have long since been resolved. He doesn’t go around going “wow, you look super fat today baby.” but, he doesn’t argue with me about it anymore either. And, I’m good with that.

I thought it was incredibly interesting back when I was dating, before Aussie. I did a lot of online dating. It was VERY common to see a man with a “no fatties” disclaimer on his page. So, I never wrote to those guys. But, quite often they wrote to me.  I reminded them, they weren’t interested in me. I was fat. And, they always said “Well, I didn’t mean you!” I had full length pictures up. I asked what they meant, and it usually was something like

  • I just didn’t want somebody really fat, like, over 200 pounds. (Which I was)
  • I just didn’t want somebody lazy, you don’t sound lazy.
  • I just wanted somebody really pretty, I didn’t care about the weight, and you are really pretty.

And, almost as often as I saw “no fatties” I saw “no girls over 130 pounds” and I think to myself now, so many women are so secretive about their weight, that I don’t even think guys know what they are looking for. Because I dated a lot of “no over 130” guys too.

I read an interesting article recently, about how women don’t know what they want. For a quick summary, almost exclusively, women say they want a tall man. Why? I’m 5’3″. I don’t need a 6′ tall man to be bigger than me.  Basically, what women really wanted, was a man with confidence, a man who would sweep them off their feet, a man who made them feel small and petite, a man who made them feel protected. Shorter men, like a 5’5″ one, who is still taller than me, but, has been told for years he isn’t “tall enough” is not going to be as confident, he isn’t going to feel as much like he is a big protector, so, he’s less likely to act like one, which in turn, turns women off, which ruins his confidence even more, and on and on it goes.

So, what is really behind this “no fat chicks” attitude men have? Oh, I’m sure many guys aren’t interested purely on looks, and that’s fine. But, the fat “stereotype” I think is the problem. Well, if you are fat, then obviously you don’t do anything except sit around and watch tv and eat. It means you are lazy, with no self control, and are just going to continue to balloon until you need rolled out of the house. And, who want that? I think, often when people say no fatties, what they mean is, I want somebody confident. I want somebody pretty. I want somebody who will hike in the woods with me. I want somebody who will swim off my boat. I want somebody I can wrestle on the sofa with over the remote. If we need one more person for the baseball game, I’d like her to join in. I don’t want to spend my weekend watching a lifetime movie marathon. I like salads! And,all those desires translate into “I only want a skinny partner.” Even though, many people don’t actually care.

I once heard a conversation, where people were arguing over fat people. One guy said it was just a lack of will-power. A woman told about her best friend, who had thyroid issues, now is super overweight, and just can’t lose the weight. He retorted with “well, it’s still will power. If she just ate a little healthier, and walked to the mailbox instead of driving, she’d still be fat, but not as fat!” Again, with the stereotypes. Unless you know somebody, you don’t know what they do, or go through. I remember weighing 260 and being yelled at and ridiculed. I now weigh 225.  I’m still fat. I do Zumba for 11 hours every week. I rarely drink soda. I count calories, and park at the end of the parking lot and get in at least 10,000 steps a day. A little here, and a little there, and a little at a time, and I’ve lost weight. But, to someone who doesn’t know me, who saw me being wheeled around the store in a wheelchair last week due to a broken foot, they might think the same thing, that if I just tried I wouldn’t be so heavy.

Like I told Aussie yesterday, I need to lose weight, because my personality doesn’t work with my size. I like adventure, I crave adrenaline rushes. I want to try the new roller coaster, and I want to zip line, and I want to drive the tiny sports car, without the seat pushed back for my tummy to fit, I want to sit next to my son, who isn’t getting any smaller, on the carnival ride, I want to know I’ll fit anywhere I want to be. I want to hike and walk and go through caves with itty bitty openings between the rocks. I fly every few months, I don’t want to wonder if the seatbelt will fit.

Yes, I am currently fat. But, it is a description, same as short, and dark haired and blue eyed and pretty. A description, not an insult. And, I’m not always going to be fat. And, since I said i wished it wasn’t always so taboo…I’ll start. I weigh 225. I’m 5’3″. Today, I cried in the dressing room because I slid on a pair of size 16 jeans for the first time in about 5 years, after working SO damn hard to lose weight.

Anger and Forgiveness

What is forgiveness to you?

I have a lot of forgiving to do. I know this. I had to work on forgiving myself for many things, many of my choices. I have had to forgive Aussie for some things. My sister spent a few years calling me names and being rude because she found condoms in my medicine cabinet. I never liked her much anyway, so, I need to forgive. I need to forgive my ex-husband.  For the cheating and the emotional/mental/physical abuse. I need to forgive my parents, for the same abuse, for the lack of education… I’m sure they would appreciate it, but, I’m really being kind of selfish about that, I think I’ll feel better. 

But, it’s a process. Maybe it isn’t supposed to be. I don’t know. Maybe some of you can wake up one morning and say “all is forgiven” and move on without another thought. But, I can’t. I actually had a class last week, where we had to watch a documentary about meth. They were talking to people trying to get off of it, and one woman said that she hadn’t quit meth, she was quitting meth. It was a process. Everyday she had to tell herself today she wasn’t doing meth. And, I oddly feel that way about forgiveness at this point. Today I forgive you for that one time. And, tomorrow, I’ll forgive you for that other time, maybe, I’ll work on it. I’m not able, at this point, to do just some big lump of forgiveness. Maybe that is a flaw in me, but, I think it’s progress.

I used to be so mad all the time. I mean, all of it. I was so mad about how life was so unfair. About how everybody was so mean. But, I’ve tried to stop that, I know that wasn’t good for me. I’ve tried to change what I could, and fix what I could. I try to count my blessing and realize that things could have turned out completely differently for me, but they didn’t, and I’m extremely happy with where I am in my life, I’m proud of me, I like me, and my husband, and our little family. So, I can accept that all the crap is what got me here, doesn’t mean I’m thrilled with it, but, I accept it. I accept I can’t change the past.

I spent years avoiding my dad, and making it very clear that was what I was doing. Part of me wanted to completely cut my family out of my life, but, I also knew I depended too much on them at that point. I played mostly nice and I avoided dad. Recently though, I’ve been trying. I really have. I don’t think we’ll ever be close, but, I thought I could stay for 10-15 minutes after he got home from work, say hi, ask about work before I left. When he wants to stop by for a visit, I make a fresh pot of coffee for him. I know it isn’t much, but, it’s what I could do today, you know? The relationship is quite superficial, but, not so angry anymore, so, it’s something. I’ve tried to do the same with my sister and my ex. I don’t think we’ll ever be friends, but, I can be kind when we have to be around each other. 

Last week, it was a bad week. I had to go to court with my ex, thing one had strep throat, ex was over medicating him, telling me the divorce decree said differently than it did, just lots of little stuff. I had to leave the boys with mom for court. I went back to get them, and for some reason she started talking about how she’s learned to be a better parents and how she feels bad about the name she called us when we were little. She asks if I remember, then tells me not to say anything. I said I did. Then she starts pestering me about what I remember. I say what i remember her calling me, and she gets upset, spends 5 minutes telling me she never said that. So, I drop it. Then, she waits and asks again, then she says it. The whole thing was just bizarre. I say yeah I remember being called that, she says something about “why didn’t you say it then?” I said “because, honestly, the things you called us was eclipsed by the things Dad said and did.” Then, she tears up “Well, I hope one day you can grow enough as a person to find it in your heart to forgive him.”

It really felt like a slap in the face, I’d been trying. But, almost every time I see him, I have new things to forgive! I was trying, and it wasn’t good enough, it wasn’t enough. She changes the subject, but i’m fighting back tears. Finally I say I’m irritated, that I’d been trying. That maybe she should just tell me what forgiveness looks like to her since I’m not doing it right. Does it mean I can’t be hurt? Does it mean it never gets brought up again? Does it mean I have to pretend everything is ok all the time? For a MONTH my ex husband treated me like dad did for 25 years, and they want him arrested, but, I just need to shut up and forgive dad? And apparently forgive means opening myself up to constant hurt and pain from him, without another word of how he’s been doing this for almost THIRTY YEARS, so he and mom can be happy.

God I was mad. I went on, “No, I don’t remember, I don’t give a shit what names you called us. I cared that you’d get dad all worked up, and you’d get him mad, and he’d start screaming and breaking things and demanding we get up and scrub the house at 3 am, and you’d just walk out. But, not usually before making fun of me for crying because i was scared. You’d just leave, leave us with him, crying and scared, with me trying to calm down the 4 yr old on my lap crying and half asleep. Then you’d come home to a clean house, and a calmed down husband, and everything was fine. I care about that. But, you’ve never asked for forgiveness or even apologized for that one. I remember him throwing Bro’s little tikes tractor through the huge glass door, then demanding the 5 yr old clean it up all the glass. And you didn’t do anything! I remember him punching a hole through the wall on Christmas Eve, then throwing our toys away at 2am, and you didn’t keep quiet that time. You didn’t walk away that time. You helped him! You told us it was all our fault. I care that you didn’t stop it, that you didn’t protect us!”

What I want to say:

“You want me to forgive faster and i’m working on it! I have 30 yrs of crap to forgive. I have a father who was always harder on me than everyone else because I wasn’t his, he only tolerated me to get you! I have a father, who i called him crying…’daddy, he’s cheating and breaking things, Help me. I got to go.’ and my ex hid in the closet, and dad went and knocked on the door, and when Joe didn’t answer, he left. I said ‘break in the door! He’s there! It’s my house! break in the door!’ and he said “no, you aren’t worth going to jail over. I have a dad who rushed out to pick up his favorite daughter from her boyfriends or church or whatever, after she’d been sick and hurting all day, but she went anyway, then couldn’t drive home, the night i had surgery. He CARRIED her in the house, but, my kids toys were on the floor, so he kicked them, came back, dumped over the entire toy box, then made me clean it all up. 4 hours after I got home from the hospital. Because sister MIGHT have gotten hurt if he tripped. I married a guy you said I had to, then when I said thats why, you told me that you didn’t mean it. I had dad hit my kid in front of me, then, when I took the boy away, he came after me to scream and berate me for how i parented and how horrible my kids were. I passed out in the driveway once, from a panic attack I had while he screamed and trashed me, and he said I faked it! You stood by as he hit us with belts, not caring if the buckle got us! When he left a handprint bruise on my leg after I cried because he broke my bike, your only words of comfort were ‘go put some ice on it, you shouldn’t have made him so mad.’ You didn’t stop him from hitting the other sister with the vacuum cord! my 25th birthday was being taken out for lunch by my brother, followed up with him screaming at me, putting me down, calling me names, telling  me I was a bad mom and my life would be perfect if only I would have done everything you ever said. When I pointed out I did marry dipshit like you told me to, it turned into, ‘we also told you not to have sex with him before you were married, so, that was your own fault.’ apparently, this plan only worked as long as I never broke a rule since birth, after that, I was all on my own. You know how that fight got started? I went out, to take myself out for ice cream that night, I had to borrow your car. I turned the key, and it didn’t start. And that was my fault. I destroy all your things, I don’t take care of anything, you guys are tired of helping me. Even though, I never even drove that car, the battery was just dead. 

I hate being part of a giant family, and I hate that you always want to pretend our last name is Walton. I think it was selfish to have that many kids, when sister 2 could have used more time and attention and support. I hate that you had 2 more kids after i had mine, because you robbed my kids of having real grandparents, you guys are basically their friend’s parents. You punish them for things your kids did, you take your kids’ side. i hate that my kids can’t stay the night at your house, because they don’t want mice crawling over them when they sleep. I hate that you don’t see that this is gross and a problem! I hate that I get lumped in with everybody else, nobody knows ME they know me as part of you all, and i’m not. I hate that you get offended that I am not close to the 2 baby brothers, and you really hoped we would be. They are 20+ yrs younger than me!

I stay in your life not because I desire any sort of relationship with you, either of you, but so i can try to protect sister 2 somewhat. Because my boys consider brother5 their friend, and I can’t or won’t take him from them. And, really, I keep hoping I can show brother 5 that there is more to life than you teach him. I’m not writing you off, because I still have 2 other siblings living at home. 

I hate that I can’t say I’m done with the drama, and I’m just going to keep to myself, because then you two make fun of me, you put me down, you roll your eyes and call me a martyr. Make snide comment about how i’m overly emotional and need to grow up. Because you guys need the drama. You pretend you don’t, but you do. How are you going to feel better than everyone if you don’t fight with them? If you don’t have drama going on constantly?

 

Feeling Let Down

I struggle to write what is on my mind, because I feel like it makes me sound so…stuck up? Full of myself? I’m not sure, I’m just fairly sure I don’t come across as I would like to, as I mean to.

You know the Bible verse, the one about leaving your parents and cleaving to your spouse?  We are still in the newlywed category, and to be honest, I didn’t expect either family to make it quite so easy. Neither one of us has a huge amount of friends, but, we both have huge families. And, I think we are both feeling sad and dissapointed lately.

 

Yeah, exactly how I’m feeling.

I won’t tell Aussie’s story, because it isn’t mine to tell. But, I will tell some of mine. I started algebra this semester. I’ve taken this class 4 or 5 times. I fail every time. I’ve taken the remedial math, I’ve done all the homework, and then some. I’ve been to tutoring, I’ve asked for help, I’ve spoken to the teachers. I just don’t get it. So, I try again.

And, this class is now bringing up HUGE feelings of disappointment and resentment towards my family. My parents especially.

I was homeschooled. I never got much of a reason why. Actually, let me rephrase, I had a continuously changing reason why, that ebbed and flowed with the passing trends that made public schools “bad”. When I could counter their arguments, I was told that was never the reason, they never said that, and the real reason was XYZ. What are some of these reasons?

  • I was too smart for public school.
  • I was bored.
  • I might be around bad influences.
  • Prayer has been taken out of schools.
  • God has been taken out of schools.
  • They teach evolution!
  • I was unhappy there, apparently.
  • My sister hated going to school, so obviously it was bad.
  • School shootings!!!
  • God told them to take me out of school.
  • Public schools were/are sinful and God commands us not to sin just because it is popular.

I am sure there are a lot more, but, you get the idea. Homeschooling to my mom meant she slept in until 11, talked to her friend on the phone for a couple hours a day, handed me a stack of books and told me I was responsible for independent study. I have a 17 yr old brother who is practically illiterate, and a sister I think may have dyslexia. But, nobody must know, you can’t get help, because then people MIGHT think you aren’t doing things right and put the kids in school!

I ran away when I was 12ish. I told them my dad was abusive, and my parents were not home schooling us. They were handing over books, and only noticing when pages were completely blank. Nothing ever got checked. I told them about my siblings. I told the police, I told CPS, I told the judge, I told family. I was terrified, and a child. My parents would call me, screaming “You’re a fucking liar!” Nobody ever asked to see the books, nobody ever checked in on anything. My grandma had to put me in therapy to get me past the “family therapy” my parents put me in. Which consisted of all 3 adults calling me a liar, and trying to get to the root cause of why I was a liar. Except I wasn’t.

3 months later the judge sent me home. Did I mention, the judge was friends with my parents? Yeah, stupid preteen me didn’t know enough to point out how wrong this was. We started going to his church a few months later.

So, I went home. Nothing changed on the school front, but, my dad got less abusive, especially to everyone else, so, I counted at least that part as well worth all the trouble. And, I decided I was getting out of there. I did my homework, I struggled through math. When I asked for help, my parents told me they didn’t understand. When I asked for them to get me help, we couldn’t afford it. When their friends offered to help, my parents complained about how far it was to drive, and how if I was struggling so bad, maybe I could just skip the ONE youth group activity I was allowed a month so I could study more. So, when 14 yr old me was offered this choice, obviously, I choice to skip tutoring. Which, obviously meant, I understood the work, I just wasn’t willing to do it. My junior year of high school, I took the answer book. My mom never noticed. It wasn’t to cheat, it was to check my work, then to rework it until I understood it. I spent hours working on this. Nobody ever knew.

I graduated a yr early, and got a full ride scholarship to the big state school. It was the worst thing I ever did. Because, my parents have spent the last 10 yrs saying that obviously they do an amazing job at homeschooling, and obviously it is superior to all other schooling, because, well, look at Punkie.

Oddly, they never mention Punkie flunked out her first semester. Got ALL Fs.

They never mention Punkie has failed algebra 5 times now. And, has no idea what is going on, no idea how to understand. The ass backwards ways I taught myself in high school are screwing me over now.

You know, I’ve spent the last 15 yrs trying to take responsibility for my failures, trying to own my own shit, trying to not blame others. I’m tired of it. I’m tired of taking responsibility for problems that I didn’t cause.

I cringe whenever I see one of my siblings facebook posts. My one sister is trying to start a photography business, and has a page for it. Nothing is spelled right. My other sister works at Salvation Army because the pay is amazing. My little brother had to take the ASVAB test 4 times before he BARELY got a high enough score to get into ANY military branch. My other brother, the 17 yr old, reads the helicopter books I bought for my 8 yr old when he thinks nobody is looking. But, never any other book.

I have another younger brother, he’s a teenager, and yesterday I told my mom, over the weekend I did about 250 math problems. I was assigned 60, but I am really trying to pass. My mom said “I guess we know who can help with math now!” then she tells me about my brother, how he’s so good at math. He never follows the instructions, but gets the right answer. Just like me. I told  her, that is really, really causing problems for me now. I explained why. She laughed and said “Well, I just have to get him through high school, college can teach him what he really needs to know.”

I could have about cried.

I’ve offered to teach the kids. If you look at my kids school work…I spend HOURS every week, preparing for the next week. I spend hours teaching them, going over things over and over again. I actually grade all the work. I have a lesson plan. I have a base curriculum and add to it, to make my own, making some things more difficult. Adding pages where I know they struggle. I’ve offered…my mom doesn’t want to spend the gas money. Her and dad can go out to eat a few times a week, but, can’t spend $4 a day to bring the kids over for help.

I’m so angry that I am paying for their choices now. I’m so angry that nobody listened to me when I tried to get help. I’m so angry that it is too late for my siblings. I’m angry that my family is almost PROUD of being ignorant. Of the fact they don’t need no college. I’m angry my brothers don’t even realize how much they don’t know. I’m angry they have been unknowingly sentenced to a lifetime of factory work or retail, without their consent. I’m angry that I struggle so much with some of these subjects, but, I certainly can’t complain, because then I hear about how if I was really concerned I would have studied and not signed the boys up for sports, so I would have more time. And, I’m angry all the times I do well, I am held up as the poster child for all the great things about homeschooling. My parents had nothing to do with any of the things I am good at. I taught myself! I had to!

You know what? I’m not that freaking special or smart or successful. Actually, I take it back, I am smart. I decided to do better, and I did. But, I somehow saw there was more to life than what my parents taught us. I’m the only one who did. I’m not special, I’m not successful. I look like it. I look like a spoiled brat most the time. I’ve got a great relationship, and two kids that are somehow amazing, in spite of all they have been through. And, I can’t even talk about my life, because I sound so stuck up. I just got back from a trip to Montana, right after the trip to Florida, and I leave for a cruise in about 6 weeks. I’ve got a Tiffany box sitting on my coffee table, and a pile of clothes with the tags still on them. I went out for coffee almost every day this summer. And, I’m not saying this to brag, I’m not. I’m using to to show, how “look at Punkie!” has become a source of pride for my parents. They miss that they coerced me into marrying an abusive asshole the first time. They don’t seem to get it… all this great stuff? It has NOTHING to do with me, nothing. It is a result of Aussie’s success. HIS parents can use it as an argument for homeschooling. Mine can not. Because, it has NOTHING to do with me, and FAR less to do with them and their teaching skills. And to be honest, a huge majority of my spoiled persona has cost us practically nothing. Airlines give lots of free perks, as do hotel chains, and rental car companies. When the company pays for the Starbucks, and you can give your wife the card, she gets the free syrups and refills and extra perks. So, again, I’d like to say, don’t judge me too harshly on this one, because if the company Aussie worked for didn’t allow him to keep the perks, and instead made him use frequent flier miles to get to work, or that sort of thing, we would look exactly like every other young couple with a couple kids.

I do’t even know what the point of writing this was. I just needed to get it all out. I am so angry and so resentful right now. I feel like I’m outgrowing my family and it’s a lonely feeling.

Plants and Life

Forgive me if this sounds too New Age-y, but I’ve been thinking about it all morning.

Positive and negative energy.

I’m sure you’ve heard people joke around about talking to plants. It seems amusing, even I can admit that. It’s been a running joke at our house I can keep cut flowers alive and pretty far longer than I can potted plants. I’ve killed so many plants I may very well be on some sort of EPA watch list. That certainly hasn’t been my goal.

I remember when I first got married, my grandpa gave me a couple Aloe Vera plants. admittedly, those are not hard to grow, but they were alive, even through lack of attention for a few years. Eventually, things went down hill quickly and drastically in my marriage, and the plants both died within weeks. Completely unable to be revived. I remember crying as I threw them away. Our fish died about the same time too. I felt, apparently, I couldn’t keep anything alive, not my marriage, not my fish, not my plants. It was incredibly depressing.

Not one to give up, I’d try again and again. I’d bring plants into this house full of anger and poison, and they would die. Is it any wonder, when I look back I felt parts of me were dying too? DA finally left, I was so heart-broken and angry. I’d keep bringing home plants, just to watch them die, no matter how much attention they were given. I left that house, but kept my attitude…2 yrs of watching daisies and ferns and various other plants turn brown, shrivel up, and die.

I was eventually able to get my own apartment, and because I am stubborn, I bought a little bamboo plant. I watered it and took care of it, and it thrived. I was doing well, and finally getting a handle on things. Winter came, and our heat wasn’t working, and the landlord wouldn’t answer his phone. I had space heaters, but they tended to trip the fuse overnight, so, we’d wake up to a 40 degree house. The kids and I began sleeping in the same bed, with an electric blanket, and 10 other blankets. We considered it a win when we woke up and the house was all of 55 degrees. I began to panic, and wonder if maybe I wasn’t a good mom, maybe the kids should be with their dad. I couldn’t even keep them warm in the winter.  Now, the little bamboo plant started to die. I started staying up at Brad’s more often, because he had heat. Even if he wasn’t home, the kids would be warm. And I left my plant behind. But, I was happy, the kids were happy. When I went home, I’d try to remember to water it, I’d look for the warmest place to put it. I always kind of figured THIS was the day I’d go home, and the plant would be completely dead. But, it kept surprising me.

We finally decided to actually live together. The almost completely brown bamboo plant came with us. And, it found a home in the kitchen, where it somehow slowly turned green again. Deciding to try my luck, I bought an orange and a lemon tree, and put them in the kitchen window. I hoped I’d have them a month. 9 months later they seem to almost double in size every week. I bought 2 more bamboo plants. Bamboo is supposed to be lucky, right? I figured it couldn’t hurt. Again, months later, they are fine. Several weeks ago, the littlest Monster asked for an aloe vera plant. I only found them for about $15 and I didn’t quite trust that my black thumbs had turned green yet.  2 days later I found a small, dying, plant on clearance at the store, for maybe $1, it was the plant he wanted, I also found another plant that looked like it should be beautiful, but it was barely hanging on. I bought them both, brought them home, and replanted them. They are thriving.

I am not surprised. I honestly think my old house was filled with poison. The yelling, the screaming, the lies, the abuse. I think if I hadn’t gotten out when I did, the kids and I would have followed the plants, and little by little we’d die until there was nothing left of us to save. The useful part of me would just dry up, like the gel in the plants leaves, while the rest of me just tried to survive.

I hate myself sometimes for allowing the kids to live like that as long as I did.  Especially the day I had to tell them daddy wasn’t coming back, and they were relieved.  But now, things have changed. Our new home isn’t full of the hatred the old one was. It’s full of love and it’s happy and comfortable. The boys have cousins with much bigger houses, and huge yards, who want to come here and play because they “love it here”. My mom comes here to relax. And, it always surprises me, because, I’m proud of our little house, but, it’s no show place. When we have a party, you practically have to stack the people. But people like to be here. We like to be here. There isn’t any more yelling and screaming and fighting. Even the bad days are handed respectfully.

And the kids, the plants and myself, are thriving.

That first little bamboo plant sits in the kitchen, if you look closely, it is actually 3 plants, one is beautiful, one is doing great, but still carries some scars from the bad times the base of the plant is poor, but it has new growth coming from it, and the third twists around one, completely gone and beyond repair. Brown and dry. I suppose I could trim it back, or completely cut it off, but, I don’t. I keep it as a reminder. Maybe I’m reading too much into my plants, but, this little plant is my reminder for how to live. That you can go through a lot of bad, but, you can pull through and still be beautiful in spite of your scars. And, the perfect one, if how we can aspire to be. And that dead one is a reminder of how neglect and hate can destroy a life. How bad energy can suck the good right out. How, just showing up once in awhile and doing the bare minimum isn’t enough. You actually have to put some effort in, some love in. Here is my little bamboo plant I’ve had for about a year and a half now. Pretty good for someone who has never been able to keep a plant alive longer than a couple weeks!

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And, now, wish me luck, because today I planted a small window sill herb garden and am really hoping I do , in fact, have a green thumb.

Joy Stealers

This post has been started 4 different times today, and it always starts out one way, then turns into a rambling mess that morphs into something else. I think this is finally it!

I mentioned I go to 2 different churches, 2 different denominations. Neither one really observes Lent, but I like the idea. Even if I wasn’t religious at all. I mean, really think about the things we rely on everyday, the things we use as a crutch, as something to get us through the day. Think of all the things that really take time from our days, and from the important things we have to do. I know so many people will sit here and say “No, not me, everything is very important! I don’t waste time! I don’t have a vice…ok, maybe I do, but it isn’t a big one.”

Which isn’t true. Everyone has things. We do so many things out of habit, not because we truly get any enjoyment out of them. In an instant gratification society, good enough right now is better than great later. What if people really tried to change some habits over the next 40 days? How many of our habits are joy stealers rather than actually beneficial to us?

I can think of so many examples…the guy who can’t lose weight because he’s eating the crappy convenience store pastry on his way to work. Why? Is that helping him in some way? Is it making him happier? I knew a woman who played farmville on Facebook for HOURS a day. She actually made up extra profiles for herself, so she could friend herself, so she would  get ahead on Farmville. I suppose if you asked her why, she would tell you she liked it, it was fun, it was a way to decompress. Except, her attitude was the opposite. She would literally stress herself out when it came time to harvest pretend crops and she wasn’t right there at a computer to do it. She wasn’t getting any joy out of this. It was a habit, just something to do. Why?

There are so many people eating empty calories from McDonald’s because it is fast and cheap. That’s it. Not because they actually enjoy the food. I figured it out, I feed the 4 of us (plus a cat and 3 fish) for about $14/day. I could have more, all I need to do is say the word and the grocery budget will be increased, but it isn’t necessary, we eat well on that $14/day. However, the kids and I do go to McDonalds when they are restless and I have too much homework, the play place and free wi-fi can be a life saver. For us all to eat a meal, it’s about $15. And we usually leave hungry anyway. Why do we do this? Nobody is getting any enjoyment out of that food! Why not save that $15 and use it towards a nice dinner out, or buying steak for Aussie to cook up for us on the grill? I don’t know about you, but yes, I get a huge amount of enjoyment out of a bite of perfectly done steak. Biting into my Big Mac has never brought a smile to my face. For Valentine’s Day we went to a nice restaurant. It was expensive, but the atmosphere was lovely, the music was live, and the food was amazing. Why am I letting McDonalds steal my Club Soda joy? I’m throwing money away for now, rather than saving for real enjoyment later.

These are the thoughts I’ve been mulling over in my head today. I have a wedding coming up! I don’t want to be fat! But, I am continuing to be fat because my habits, that aren’t causing me any happiness are being allowed to control me. No, I don’t want to wake up and run a mile. But, I don’t really want that soda either, and I drink it anyway. Not because it is so delicious, or because it is good for me, just because it’s a habit, and when I don’t have it, I crave it. There is no immediate joy from that drink, and there certainly isn’t a long term one either!At least if I went and ran, I would gain enjoyment eventually from how I looked and from how I felt. To be perfectly honest, I absolutely LOVE when Aussie picks me up and carries me or moves me. I get joy from that. I’d like him to be able to do it for a long time, I don’t want to get too big for him to.

Another thing, I like to sleep in. I do enjoy it. But, it comes with a cost. It comes with the fact that certain portions of my day get wasted. Back to the previous paragraph, I am not going to go jog at night, and I don’t want to this summer in the middle of the afternoon when it’s 100 degrees. So, I need to actually get up and do it. Not only that, but that little bit of joy I get from sleeping in is stolen away when I have to rush to get ready for something, or when I miss out on something because I didn’t get everything else done I needed to. I lose that joy when I don’t have enough hours in my day. I lose that joy when I have to be up early for a court appointment, and freak out and sleep poorly all night because I’m watching the clock, worried I will sleep right past the time I need to be awake.

So, for Lent this year, I’m not really giving up something tangible. I am just trying to change a mindset. I don’t want to deprive myself, but I’m tired of being like a 3 yr old taking the bigger nickle rather than the smaller dime because I can’t see past right now, because I only want what looks good right now. Somehow I have convinced myself that taking the smaller dime is deprivation, and it isn’t. So, for lent I am changing some habits, and hopefully giving up some of my sleeping in. I guess you could say, for Lent, I’m attempting to give up some of my joy thieves.

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