Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Busy Life...Good Life

Is it violating the rules of blogging to post a link to another blog post? Especially if it's my own?  I don't really know...but I'm pretty sure it's easier and it will let you all check out the MS Relief website where there are some interesting articles and writers focused on positive ways to deal with MS, disability and life in general.  I have a 'Guest Blogger' spot there once a month.
As you can tell by my lack of a post this past weekend, life is busy right now! Budget ruckus at work, layoff notices that won't really result in layoffs I hope, busy-ness searching for new funding opportunities...on and on the world of work goes.
Here at home we are readying the house for a visit from my little sister, brother-in-law and two nieces and I could not be more excited! It seemed a good reason to fix the shower...and I'll share that story another time! Maybe. And also a good reason to do some spring-cleaning that's quite overdue. During the busy winter months of work and holidays, followed by massive studying for exam, I pretty much let my house fall into partial disarray.
Ah...and let's not forget my youngest son's excitement over his driver's permit. We are spending some good quality time together almost every evening, 30-40 minutes of driving, just before sunset. It is surprisingly peaceful and relaxing for me. (Yes- he's doing very well!)
So for this week I am sharing my first guest post on MS Relief...go check it out...hope you like it!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Fathers and Fireworks

I remember the time my little sister came to visit at age 15 and I let her get her nose pierced.  I thought it looked darling. It was the mid ‘90s and I was 25.  But having been a New Wave rebel in the 1980’s, I was in favor of slightly alternative ‘looks’. After a good chewing out, my father did not speak to either of us for a couple of months…until she took it out. I was shocked that he was so angry.  Now, as a parent of a 15 year old, I can understand. But she did look darling… it’s a debate I might still try to have if dad was with us. But he’s not. And besides, he wasn’t much into debates or arguments. Conflict was not his thing.

 Admittedly I did not live with my dad full time after the age of 7, so it could be said that I don’t completely know what he was like as a parent. But I took a plane to visit once or twice a year, often staying for a couple of months and even living there for short periods of time as I got older. What I remember most about my dad is his sense of humor, always bubbling under the surface and ready to pop out just when you needed it. He coached Little League for my younger brother and sister, who lived with dad and my stepmom. He was always working on some project, coordinating the company picnic, organizing the family Fourth of July party. I would watch my dad at these functions, moving through the crowd, ensuring everyone was comfortable and making people laugh. His humor was that of the absolute silly sort. Not dry or cynical or dark (like mine can be), but a goofy, crack you up-or embarrass you to death if you are his teenage daughter- type of humor. 

Channeling Dad! I embarrassed my kids-ha!
I don’t know if I had ever seen him angry, and certainly not at myself, before the ‘nose-piercing’ incident. It’s not that he was never upset, mad or disappointed with me…it’s just that he did not express it with anger. I wish I had a little bit more of that in me.  Just Only Judy has a temper and sometimes a short fuse. Speaking of fuses, have I ever written about my dad and the Fourth of July? It was like his Christmas! He would fill the basement of our little Midwestern house with fireworks of all sorts, some quite large. He sold them out the side kitchen door and I occasionally handled sales during the day when he was at work. He gave many to family and friends, but the bulk of them were for the big family "Bean Dinner and Cookout" at my Uncle’s lake property.  

I have never liked loud noises or things that could potentially explode.  The explosion issue borders on a phobia. You can imagine how I enjoyed sleeping above a basement full of large fireworks…it just takes a spark! I never wanted to light a firework, let alone have my children lighting them. Sparklers still make me sweaty today. But dad, the uncles and some of the teenagers in the family would all head out to the wooden dock when the sun went down. They would put on the most fantastic firework show for all of us, and probably everyone else living on the lake.

Naturally, there has not been a Fourth of July in the last 15 years that I have not profoundly missed my dad. We usually watch fireworks from a safe distance these days. In the Pacific Northwest it’s not as easy to find a safe place away from trees to do your own big show. When the fireworks start going, if I close my eyes, I can hear the laughter of my midwest aunties…oh they had a special, love-filled laugh! I can smell the food, smoke and bug spray; feel the heavy, humid night. If there was not an undercurrent of electricity from an approaching thunderstorm, then there was the sound of crickets and cicadas. Inevitably a small child would start to cry, and if I could I would volunteer to take them inside and watch from the safety of the window. But part of me always wished I was brave enough to be out on that dock. I knew that some other sort of magic was happening out there. My dad’s silhouette crouched to put the fireworks in place. A smaller silhouette would sometimes come up to light it and then run quickly back to the other end of the dock, to gather with the small crowd of my bravest family members.

Happy Father’s Day to all you dads, grandpas and uncles. An extra special Happy  First Father's Day to my little brother- dad would have been so proud of you and I know he would be in love with that little guy!
Happy Father’s Day to all my cousins who may be missing their dads today. May you find some memories to make you smile. May you hear their laughter, oh how they all laughed, loud and often! And may we all create some traditions and memories for our children, nieces and nephews. Those memories are a gift that can’t be taken away. Not by cancer and not by time. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Time Out

At the beach....

...will return to my regularly scheduled posting next weekend...after I've shaken off the sand and stopped looking for the wind.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Am I Done Yet?

I could say that I am sometimes late on my Sunday morning posts because my Saturdays are full of excitement and late night revelries. I could say that I just got so tired, what with my MS and all, that I went to bed at 6pm and slept in until noon!  Ah….that second one actually sounds like something I would enjoy more. I think I’m getting old.
The truth is that often (though not always) I just procrastinate. That sounds so simple. But procrastination is anything but simple.  If you are not a fellow procrastinator you may as well stop reading this post now.  You will just be saying, “It is not that complicated. Just STOP procrastinating.”  You may be thinking that we procrastinators are a lazy, unreliable, easily distracted lot. I’m not going to try to convince you.  Go away now!  Stop reading- there is a monster at the end of this post!
I just want to talk to my procrastinating friends, because I want their thoughts…

Much procrastination in the world of the well-intentioned is caused by perfectionism.  We might consider those that do NOT procrastinate as those that are too easily satisfied, too quick to call it ‘good enough’. I have spent many years, a few decades even, well aware of my procrastination and the negative effect it had on my life and those around me.  How could I not- those non-procrastinators are relentless in letting us know just how irritating our habit is. (Are you guys still here? Don’t get defensive, I told you to stop reading if you are not a procrastinator!)
I have been this way since a very young age. There are stories of me tearing up my scribbled artwork, certain it was not good enough.  Trying to take back a gift I gave my mother for her birthday because it was not good enough. She liked my sister’s butterfly glass paperweight much better than my lame flowered hot-plate. I was 5. I can picture both items vividly today. School assignments found themselves 80% complete and never turned in. Writing assignments were torture. Remember that we did not have computers. We wrote by hand. It was much, much harder to go back and edit and make changes. Of those assignments that did get turned in, there were very few that I was truly proud of.
As I moved from school to the world of work, I found that I often got things in just under the wire, right before the deadline, and with a feeling that they could be better if I just had a bit more time. Children’s birthday parties, family celebrations, times that are supposed to full of fun and merriment…oh how the procrastinating perfectionist can make these a wretched experience.  Just a few more decorations, another game, one more dessert, a bit more cleaning….NOT GOOD ENOUGH…as I would race around in a bug-eyed sweat, while my family tried to hide from me.  I have been up at 2am removing a toilet seat so as to clean it better. I have been up at 2am rolling homemade orange candies in coconut.
I have been up at 2am finishing a blog post. But only once. Because the beauty of the blog, as I have learned to relax around it, is that it’s never done!  I get to write again next week, and the next week. And the week after that.  And I can go back and edit some of my pieces months later. Ah…this one of the few times I have embraced technology with such enthusiasm!  With that in mind, I need to go help my son with a bit of English and I need to finish cleaning my oven with the vinegar/baking soda concoction that has been brewing in it all day. Have I said all that I want to say on the subject of procrastination and perfectionism? Lord no! I’ve barely scratched the imperfect surface. But I have said enough for now. 
Next week maybe I will write about how my P2 power punch works as a way to divert emotions. In the meantime maybe some of my fellow procrastinators or perfectionists can share your thoughts? Do you see it as a gift? A hindrance? Have you found ways to use it to your advantage?  You can add a comment below this post. I would love to hear from you. But I will also understand if you don’t comment until December. It’s all good….enough!