Lessons Learned From Someone I Used to Know

There are no big revelations in this list. it’s been said before, heard before, lived before. But have you ever walked away from an experience and thought about what you’re taking away from it? A recent encounter reminded me of these things:

  • Family matters- even if you don’t want it to. They know where you came from. They know who you were.
  • Be careful who you trust. Sometimes you might be looking in the wrong direction and never see it coming.
  • It’s never too late to try and fix things. Words spoken in the heat of the moment might hold some truth, or maybe they are all true, but that still doesn’t mean that things have to remain broken.
  • As much as you might want to slam the door and lock it, it can always open. You have the power to unlock it!
  • Unless you hear the words coming from a person’s mouth, you will never know for sure if they said them. People twist or make up things to suit their own purpose- even people you love.
  • If you don’t want to believe what a person says, look at their actions for reinforcement.
  • There is more than one side to every story. Every person has their own story and your hero might be my  villain. You never know.
  • We all have “stuff” and no one’s is more or less than anyone else’s. It’s just theirs.
  • People can change and often do. We are all shaped by our experiences and each one changes us, maybe in small ways but always in some way.
  • Forgiveness is not a dirty word.
  • Letting go of negative feelings isn’t a statement of denial that something happened.
  • Often the truth is staring you in the face- and you just can’t or don’t want to see it.
  • And sometimes the truth hurts.
  • Everyone isn’t in the same place in their journey and sometimes we need to be patient and wait for the other person to catch up. And sometimes we need to do what we need to do, and know that we will get where we need to be in our own time.
  • If a person is determined to hold on to their hurt and anger and lets it fester and spread, they will remain stuck in that place.
  • Being wrongly accused sucks.
  • Not being allowed to defend yourself sucks more.
  • It ain’t over til it’s over.

“Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.”     

Soren Kierkegaard

Spring has arrived…maybe in name only. Enjoy!

-Kat

Deconstructing Christmas

IMG_1461Yesterday when I reached down to unplug the lights that decorate our family room, three year old let out a cry of dismay. “NOoooooo, don’t take down Christmas!” He has an extensive vocabulary, well beyond his three years, but this was the year he discovered Christmas. In his ever-expanding world, the concept of Christmas was so huge it was beyond words. If you were to point out each individual decoration, tradition or experience, Beej could easily tell you its name accompanied by some incredible adjectives. But this entire experience has been so enormous in his life that he wants to hold onto all parts of it.

I’ve been slowly taking down decorations when he’s not here. The stockings, pillows, table runners and other fabric items have been washed, folded and stacked up to be packed. Any wall decorations have been taken down when I noticed them still hanging there. Snowmen and Santas and all the other cutesy stuff I place on shelves or table tops has been gathering on a table or flat surface out of Beej’s reach, ready to be wrapped up and boxed.

When Beej arrives today he will find the biggest change so far with only the tree with lights but minus ornaments, window lights and yes, the “Christmas” aka lights in the family room being the final reminders of the holiday. I’m hoping this will satisfy him as I get him prepared for the next holiday. Valentine’s Day.

Beginning with Halloween, Beej is more aware of holidays and seasons. This causes him to be slightly resistant to changes. He mourned Halloween and protested Thanksgiving. He insisted that he did not like Thanksgiving (although he didn’t know what it was) and within a day or two, Thanksgiving was the greatest! It doesn’t fail to amuse me because around here the difference between the two holidays is that I pack away the ghosts and pull out some turkeys- everything autumn-like remains. And then in true Beej fashion, he was so attached to Thanksgiving that he incorporated the cornucopia into his play kitchen.

I’m always sad to take Christmas decorations down. For such a stressful time of year, I should be happy to see it leave. And yet, each year stirs different feelings inside. This was the first year that I had the full Christmas beyond my husband and kids. Hosting for everyone (my parents, siblings, nephews) is a big job, but this year didn’t seem as much of a trial. Everyone is in a much different place than years past and I think it speaks to the strength of family what we were able to rise above past drama and come together. Two of my children were not with us on Christmas day, which left a huge hole in my day, but we celebrated as a family a few days later and it was good.

Maybe it’s all the extra baggage that Christmas includes- tons of family face time, crowds shopping, planning parties, our own expectations, missing loved ones who are not here- that leads to a sort of let down feeling. But the truth is I’m ready to pack it up and let it go. I’m all into letting things go these days so I’m focusing my thoughts on how uncluttered my house will feel with all the Xmas trimmings gone.

It’s time for me to shake my thoughts free of jingle bells and Santas and look ahead to a full year. I have a loved one still on the road to recovery, two kids graduating from college, one applying to grad schools, a lost sheep who needs some tending, and mindfulness of my own to work on.

Oh, and if you hear the angered cry of a three year old, you’ll know that Beej has begun his boycott of Valentine’s Day!

-Kat

The Space Between

“Honor the space between no longer and not yet.” -Nancy Levin

This is where I am. The space between. I’m not sure when I got here. I am certain that I did not wake up one morning to find myself in a different place. This leaves me to believe that it was a gradual shift over time.

I have always been aware of different phases of my life. Childhood. Teen years. Young adult…… Married. And then subs appeared- children, new home owner….. and sub subs- young children, school age children, teen children and now adult children (both independent and straddling the fence independent) and grandchildren.

But this space I am in now. I don’t remember ever being in a place like this. I’ve always been in the middle of something or if one thing was ending, three others were in different stages…. until now.

I don’t recognize this space. I’ve been here awhile now. I know that it is not permanent. I also know that I’m not sure what it is. And the “not yet” referred to in the quote above is on the horizon. Just not here yet.

So, until it’s time to move on, I’m going to do my best to “honor the space between” – whatever this is!

-Kat

A Little Teapot

My dearest friend, Ivy, collected teapots. I didn’t know this until just about a year ago when she was preparing to pack up her house to move. The move was bittersweet because she was not only leaving the house where she had raised her child, but also her childhood home and neighborhood.

It was not her choice but she was moving into a smaller place. Therefore, she had to make the heartbreaking decision of what to keep and what to give or throw away. Her house held not only her own precious items but those of her parents, who had been gone for awhile.

Ivy was hurting, sad, in a dark, lonely place and I wanted to do everything and anything I could to help her. One thing Ivy was not- was weak. She was a fighter and she was tough and she did not ask for help. She had been this way since the first time I met her 14 years ago. And remains so today even after what has to have been one of the roughest years of her life.

Packing up a lifetime of memories and making those hard decisions that were forced on her were painful to watch. I wanted to take her pain away but I knew I couldn’t. Sometimes in life, people you love have to go through really trying times and you have to let them. It was difficult to keep it all in balance- the desire to help her with the realization that this was something she was going to have to handle on her own. Like I said, Ivy is tough, so just getting her to let me help was a major challenge. I did what I could and tried to be nearby in case she needed me. I hovered so closely that I’m sure I tried her patience.

Ivy tells me that I’m very complex and private, that there are many layers to me and I’m very particular who I let close. I think everyone is like that to some degree and at this time, Ivy, who lives out loud and whose emotions I can read a mile away, closed up shop and shut herself away. I understood.

She was at a turning point in her life. The biggest yet. And she was scared, hurt, worried, tired, angry, and more emotions than I could list. But as I watched her pack up her life and give away, donate or throw out possessions, I was concerned. She reached a point where she was getting rid of everything. I’m all for new beginnings and fresh starts but I feared she was going to regret this. I knew it. I offered to let her store things in my garage, which she turned down. Everything had to go. Even if she didn’t realize what she was doing, I did. She was punishing herself. See, Ivy blamed herself for arriving to this place. What she didn’t want to understand is that none of us lives in a vacuum and she hadn’t gotten there alone. But she was and remains very hard on herself. Ivy is the most loving, caring person I know. She would literally give a person the coat off her back, no questions asked. She is always thinking of others and she’s so outgoing that she has no problem making everyone around her feel her love with her words, looks and hugs. And she beats herself up, mercilessly at times.

And that’s when I found out that she had collected teapots. She asked me if I knew anyone who wanted them. She expressed sorrow that the collection had to go. I offered to store them until she confirmed that there was no place in her new home for them but she refused. She asked if my daughter-in-law might like them and if not, she was donating the lot to Goodwill.

I wasn’t sure how important these teapots were to her. (I had never seen her drink tea once in all the years I had known her.) But I knew that I had to take those teapots. She might want them back one day, even though she insisted she did not. (And maybe she will never want them back.) While she packed up her collection, she gifted me with her most special teapot and I placed it in my kitchen, where I think of her every time I see it. I also took possession of her collection and stored it in a safe place.

And then last week I was browsing around my local thrift store and I saw teapots on a shelf.

Ivy came to mind and I felt a familiar twinge of sadness at the sight of someone else’s teapot collection sprinkled throughout the shelves. There’s always a story behind the items on these shelves and I often wonder how they came to be there.

And then I saw it. It was hidden behind the bigger, flashier teapots. It was actually a sweet little white teapot. Not at all Ivy’s type. But then again, her favorite teapot that she gave me isn’t my type so I hope when I give it to her this Christmas that she will remember that.

She can categorize it as Christmas and pull it out once a year. She can store it in the corner of a cabinet. She can donate it. Or she can spray paint it some cool color, because I’m itching to do it myself before giving it to her. (Can you tell I discovered the many wonders of spray paint and want to paint just about everything?)

I hope she will accept this teapot for what it symbolizes. I hope she realizes how much I love her. How proud I am of her. How much I am in awe of her. I hope she knows that I wish her happiness and joy for the rest of her life and that I hope to be part of it-that I’ve hurt every step of the way along side her but there were times when she had to go it alone. I want her to know that even if it hurts, it’s okay to keep things from the past. Less is not always more. Sometimes that item represents something so much more.

She once said that if she decided to start collecting teapots again that she would start fresh. I don’t know if that is something she will ever do or if the teapots represent a part of her past, a part of who she no longer is.

I do know that life goes on and one day we will look at that teapot (or just talk about it) and remember this time when we were SO in this moment of our lives that we thought this is what it was going to be and we will realize that we had no clue. Just like we didn’t have a clue when we met all those years ago when our kids were so young.

I will do anything for Ivy and her child, and I know she will return the favor. I’m not pretty sure nor do I feel a false sense of security. We have been to hell and back together and I KNOW that we will always be friends.

ivys-teapot

I hope she likes it!