Every day memories

We tend to wait for special days, holidays, family celebrations to pull out the fancy stuff, the expensive things. Sometimes there may be a feeling, niggling in the back of our mind, that maybe whatever we are doing just isn’t “special” enough to celebrate with the good stuff, would our mothers or grandmothers approve? So we resort to our everyday basics, saving the good dishes/linens/crystal for the truly special times. A better suited time.

But too often, a better time only happens once in a blue moon, or sometimes not at all. This is not a post about “life is too short”, not really. But it is something to consider, to remind ourselves, and something that I’ve been leaving myself open to recently.

According to various studies – and my therapist – there are about four or five highly stressful experiences in life that are common to most people:

  • marriage, divorce, death, buying a house and losing your job.

I’ve covered a few of those over the past year. A couple were even at the same time!

2016 was not my friend.

But now that I’ve come out on the other side of it all, my world has come into sharper focus. Colors are brighter, smells are stronger, the whole world is more vibrant and pulsating with possibility. I feel lighter, happier, full of appreciation. Fully aware.

I feel as if I’ve been reborn some days, as cliche as that sounds.

I appreciate so many things, everyday things, so much more now. I feel comfortable in my own skin once again, and it’s been a very long time since I could honestly say that. And this new attitude, or awareness, has led me to see my life and how I live it in a whole new light. I’ve started to let go of a lot of the usual expectations and instead have  decided to let the tide take me where it wants. It’s not giving up the fight so much as it is just not fighting the magnetic pull any longer. Following my heart, giving myself permission to not ask for permission, being open to more. Finding the joy.

Listening to my soul.

So, with this new enlightenment, I’ve drifted away from conventional ideas of only celebrating when it’s the “right time”. Everyday is the right time if you reframe it in your own mind. It’s your experience, and your chance to make memories any way you like.

After moving into my house, my first ever all-my-own house, I was putting away the dishes, glassware, the pots and pans, and I noticed how much I love my china. I kept it for this very reason, after considering the idea to give it away or even leaving it behind, fearing that bringing it into my new home would only be an ugly reminder of a twenty year mistake, but for some reason I just couldn’t let it go.

I chose the pattern twenty years ago because it spoke to me, it gave me a warm feeling deep inside, and twenty years later it still does. Oddly, it didn’t remind me of our wedding, or the broken promises and disappointments that I’ve encountered over that time, instead it reminded me of family dinners and Thanksgiving and Christmas. Sitting at a big table with a group of happy, smiling people, that I love with my whole heart, laughing and enjoying each other. Special days. Days filled with love and joy and thanks.

And then a thought occurred to me, why should’t I feel that way every day?

Why do we have to wait until November or December, or a birthday or a graduation, to feel that warmth inside and appreciate the closeness that creates happy memories? Everyday that you gather around a table with your dearest loved ones, and maybe even a friend or two, is a special day. If you’re honest with yourself, you never know how many of these you will get over the course of your lifetime, why not appreciate them all?

So, instead of putting the fine china away in a cabinet somewhere “safe” to be retrieved for a special occasion, I put the entire set in my kitchen where my everyday dishes “should” go. My kids questioned my placement, almost panicked, asking what we would eat dinner off of on Tuesday night without “regular” dishes.

And then I unpacked the crystal and did the same thing.

I will no longer drink wine out of the “everyday” wine glasses, much as I love them too, only saving my crystal for a special occasion or “company”. Instead I will celebrate every sip of cheap red wine in my beautiful crystal glasses and feel special each time.

I will pour wine (maybe a better grade if you’re lucky that day) into the same glasses for my friends and family, and serve them my famous meatballs on the same fine china when they come to visit, too. Appreciating the moment, the shared experience, without worry about chipped dishes or broken glasses stressing me out, but instead relishing the happy memories being made out of our every day life.

I would love to know that when I die, while my children are cleaning out my house, they will come across the china and crystal and any other “special” things I’ve acquired along the way, and be able to say “remember how we ate off of this china every day in mom’s house while we were growing up? Just sitting at our wooden barn door table in the kitchen, eating spaghetti or meatloaf, and drinking wine or milk or whatever, but we ate it off of the china and drank out of our crystal glasses…on a Wednesday!” I want them to treasure those china plates and crystal glasses for the shared warmth of memories that have been etched into them. I want them to have everyday memories of us as a happy, loving family.

Happy memories without a special date attached. Happy just because. Every day memories of living our lives fully, and connected. Sharing love and laughter.

Just every day memories that make us special to each other.

 

 

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Precious time

I’ve been going through a lot over the past year since I began this painful journey towards divorce. Many emotional, mental, even physical challenges have come up and put me to the test. But, I have kept my head down, eyes on the finish line gritting my teeth, pushing forward, for most of it. Focused. Determined.

And while it was the only way I could get through it at the time, my method for dealing with an upheaval of my life, I realize now that I’ve missed so much along the way. I’ve let things fall by the wayside, redirected my attention and energy away from “less important” tasks and responsibilities so I can direct all of my energy towards this process.  I’ve put more than a few things on the back burner, trusting that I can pick them up where I left off and hoping that nobody will really notice. They won’t notice that I’m not paying close attention to life’s events and deadlines, I’m not even completely engaged sometimes, and they won’t remember that I checked out a bit and let it slip through my fingers.

I’ve been skimming the headlines of my life basically, using my previous Evelyn Wood speed reading training to get me through another day, week or month. Conserving my energy for the real battles. Promising myself that I will make it up in the end.

I will be a better friend, mother, family member, volunteer. When this is all over.

But yesterday, I had a reality check. I’ve had small ones lately, needling me to get my attention, now that I can see the light of day again. I’ve come back to my “normal” life, blinking in the clear, bright sunlight like a coma patient finally waking up and asking “what year is this?” So many things have changed around me, people have shifted, in ways that I hadn’t noticed until just this week.

An older friend of mine, in his late 70’s, had a heart attack the other night and is in the hospital now. It happened as he was waking up one morning, lucky for him. The doctor said had he not woken up at that time he probably never would have.

We have been promising each other that we would go out for an authentic taco dinner, with our families, since summer camp this year. We still haven’t gone.

Another good friend of mine, in his mid 50’s, was diagnosed with stage four cancer, over the holiday break. He’s an active, funny guy with a twinkle in his eye and a hearty laugh. He’s a good ole boy, driving his pickup truck and listening to country music but able to rebuild or reprogram your computer in a heartbeat. He’s been a sanity saver, a shoulder to cry on, a clown to make me laugh many times during this tough time in my life. He helped my son work on his classic car to get it ready for my brother’s wedding, to the point that he would come help anytime my son called with a question or problem – even at ten at night, in his pajamas! We bought a bottle of good vodka (his drink of choice) and have had a thank you note waiting for him since mid-October, but my son wanted to take him for a ride in the car before officially thanking him with these gifts. But the car keeps breaking down, ending up in the shop, and hasn’t seen the road for more than a day at a time so far. The ride hasn’t happened. The bottle is still sitting on my counter.

When I heard about both of my friends yesterday, yes I found out about both at the same time which was more than overwhelming, I hung up the phone and cried. Cried from the deepest depths of my heart. I hurt for them, and I hurt for myself. I hurt for the activities and the people that I have put off until “this is over”. I cried for the guilt of checking out in other areas of my life to make things easier in this area. I cried for the dates not kept, the promises not met. How many more are there? How much have I missed? Who else have I lost?

Am I too late?

I woke up today with a new sense of time, a new appreciation for my relationships, a renewed sense of purpose for my involvement in my community, my friends, my human connections and how precious it all is. And how much we still need all of it even in our darkest moment. I wish that I could have balanced it all better, that I could have compartmentalized it and dealt with it all in a more ideal way. But I did the best I could.

We always tell each other to live life to the fullest! Live each day as if it is your last!

I’m telling you, don’t just talk about it, do it. Make the plans, share that bottle of wine, go to dinner, make that call, connect! Connect now to the people you love to have in your life, and not later, connect now. Not “when this is over”. Not “next time I see him”. This may be the only time, and there may never be an end to your trouble or to your challenges.

It’s all too precious, too fragile, and you never know how much time there is for anyone.