Monday, December 12, 2011

Life's Irritating Mysteries

  • So, if all the stalls are taken in a public restroom, it is acceptable to go ahead and use the handicapped stall.  Why is the same concept not okay for parking?  Especially if it is literally a quick trip and you have little kids in tow.
  • And speaking of parking, I hate when motorcycles take a parking spot.  And how irritating is it when some honking, hill-billy, dully truck takes up two spaces?  Or better, how about when you think there is a space, only to find that it is occupied by some tiny little car (like a smart car or a mini cooper). 
  • Why do people run marathons?  I really don't get it.
  • Drive thru liquor store?  Why aren't there more?
  • Could windshield wipers be designed to cover more ground?
  • Why don't sleeping bags roll up nicely?  Why even bother with those tiny bags they give you.  What you need is a bungee cord.
  • When I order bacon, it's usually 2 slices, and it's never crispy-ridiculous.  And in recipes, it's always 3 or 4 slices-what is the point?  I always double the amount required, and same with cheese.
  • Why is there a size zero?  Seriously, that is just silly.
  • If the black box on a plane is indestructible, then why not make the whole plane out of it?  Or how about cars?
  • I saw a concert a few months ago.  I don't go to them very often.  I knew I was getting old when it started to annoy me that there had to be so many encores.  Can we just go from start to finish?  What's with the encores?
  • Why are old people always so early?  Especially to the airport.
  • I like sushi, but I never crave it.  I mean, I have never though to myself, "man, I am starving, what I wouldn't give for some raw fish, wrapped in seaweed and sticky rice".  I am more likely the cheeseburger and fries girl.  I just don't get it.
  • Why are there about 1000 options for toothpaste in the grocery store? 

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Unexpected surprises

When I first thought about the Lake Powell trip, I had it in my mind that it would be something similar to a weekend getaway in the mountains only on a lake. Well, I was quite off the mark. It was more than I could have ever imagined. It was such a unique and wonderful experience. It was everything and nothing I thought it would be at the same time. 

It never occurred to me that 12 people would be living on a boat together in close enough proximity that if you don't have a good mix, you could be getting into a lot more than you bargained for. Fortunately, it was a great mix for us. It felt like family almost immediately. I can't believe how lucky we got. But then I have been feeling that way about this ever-so-miraculous friendship with the Weisners for such a long time, that I am coming to realize it is neither luck nor an accident.

This amazing family is a gift from God to me. Ironically, this friendship started so tenuously as it was rooted in a previous failed friendship. I was so broken about it still and really wrestled with this incredible discovery. I was so excited when we found Declan. I had no idea it would blossom like it has, not just Jackson and Declan; but also for Tyler and Liam; Dan and Paul; and Shelly and me. I was still nursing my own guilt for costing my son his best friend. I felt like God was giving me a second chance. I just had to figure out a way to keep my own indiscretions from screwing this one up.

What I hadn't counted on was Shelly. She was the easiest person to get to know. And when it came down to it, my admission to her about why I had cost my Jackson his best friend was a no-brainer. Here I thought I would never admit that, but somehow I knew it was right. She accepted me for the lost soul I had become. I lived next door to someone for almost 10 years, our kids were inseparable, and yet I never really knew her. She always had her guard up. But in a few short months, I felt like I could totally see Shelly's heart. She knew my worst faults, and still she showed my love and compassion, and even welcomed me into her life. It blew me away. I really expected her to run from me.  Who wouldn't have?  I would have completely understood.  But she didn't. She stayed. She gave me hope.

Over a year later, I am thinking about all the little blessings that have been given to me like Shelly. The fact that I lost my job, my dream job as a fitness instructor materializing, the fact that I have been so humbled and humiliated, having to reach way out of my comfort zone, scratch and claw to save my marriage, and face my worst fears-all of these things are part of the plan. I have decided to forgive myself today. I have gotten the message, and I put it on the cross tonight. Sooner or later, we all have to look in the mirror. I want to love the reflection again. I want to believe I am still a good person. I want to understand that sometimes we fall down so that we can stand up. I want to appreciate the things God has done in my life, the good and the difficult. I want to have courage and strength were I have felt weakness and fear for so long. And I am doing it. Every hour, every day, every week. And it is so hard. But I am doing it.

Isaiah 40: 28-31 continues to find me in so many things I do...

The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary,
and his understanding no one can fathom.
29 He gives strength to the weary
and increases the power of the weak.
30 Even youths grow tired and weary,
and young men stumble and fall;
31 but those who hope in the LORD
will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Things that will never be said

In my house, this is the kind of stuff I would love to hear sometimes, but never do.....

Oh, it's okay, you go ahead and take a break, I got it

Have I ever told you how much I appreciate you?

Sure your family has it's things, but doesn't everyone's?  It's not like you can do anything about it.

If it makes you happy, then I am on board.

I think it's great how much you love your Ipad.  That's why I got it for you.  We all have different ways of checking out, mine is watching TV.

Why don't you pick the movie this time?

How about we do something for you tonight?

I don't really like group x classes but I know how much you love it and how happy it would make you for me to show an interest in it, so I am going to try one

You look so tired, why don't you take a break. I will fix dinner and put the kids to bed.

Let's take Jake for a walk.

Sure, I can take both boys to practice/games.

I am going to spend one entire day focusing on the things about you that I love, instead of picking at you about your flaws.

I know you are a stay home mom but that doesn't mean I value you less, or that I think I am more important.  The job of raising kids and taking care of our family is vital.

Move over closer to me so we can cuddle.

No reason for calling, just wanted to say hi and see how your day is going.

You sure taught a bunch of classes today, how about a nice back rub?   

I need you to stretch me, but you don't have to do it right this second. And then afterward, how about I stretch you.

How about you sleep in, and I will get up?
I love you so much. I would do it all again

Saturday, May 14, 2011

The hardest thing in the world....

If I could say the words

Ever just want to start a conversation with someone that you just know will go badly? So you just bottle it up and don't say a thing. There is a lot of power in words-and maybe even more in silence.  In fact, silence can be deafening. Many examples of this type of self control and strain come around on a weekly or at least monthly basis. It can be at work or with friends or mostly at home.

I am fairly confrontational. I speak my mind-and maybe to a fault. My husband is not. He expresses anger or frustration. He shows enjoyment and amusement. And the more light-hearted, the more likely. But when it comes to matters of the heart, he is a tight seal. Some of it is his upbringing, and some of it is just the man thing I guess. You would think after 20 years I would figure it out. And yet, I sit here tonight wanting so desperately to say something to him about how I feel.

I want to see I am sorry-as if it might help. I want him to know how much I hate that I have hurt him and other people I love.  I want to believe we will get past it.  I want to tell him I love him as much as I did 20 years ago when we met. I want to believe we can make the next 20 together. Even though I know these haven't all been easy years. I don't expect the next 20 will be either. But I sure hope they are with him.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

The Blog

This is my own little diary. I call it talking to myself because that is pretty much what I am doing. Oh, I realize it is a public website. But seriously, who really wants to know what goes on in my head on a daily/monthly/yearly basis? Well, I was hanging out with my dear friend Michelle last night, and her take on it was rather moving. It seems she had happened upon some of her grandfather's letters (blogs of the day). And she was thrilled to be able to get just a little glimpse of the day to day things in his life. Especially now that he is gone. So just maybe a day will come when some form of my posterity has even a moderate interest in some of my babble.
I write when I am happy, and when I am sad. I write about things and people I love, as well as those that drive me crazy. I try to be honest and self analytical-I try and make sense of things as I work out my thoughts on a screen. I guess the reality is, it just makes me feel like I am getting things off my chest.
I have been trying very hard not to be a total downer around people. I can be suseptible to that sometimes. This blog helps me with that. And while Paul is downstairs glued to his relaxation device (a murder mystery and a Crown and Coke), I can be found up here hanging out with my thoughts. Some people like to read, or meditate, or like Paul, watch TV. I just like to hang with the keyboard.
Every once in a while, I think about trying to do this as a job-or at least as some form of income. But I am just not sure it could still serve that purpose if it became an obligation and no longer something I just do in my own space.
In any case, I hope someone someday can enjoy some of my rants. I know I have!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Keep On Keepin On

There is something so simple, yet quite complicated about that little saying, "keep on keepin on"

Basically, it just means get up and show up to life everyday.  But that's not so easy.  It sounds like it, and some days it is.  But a lot of days, it is not.  There are days when I feel so strong, like I could take on anything.  Even if nothing goes my way, I will go down swinging and won't regret a second.  There are days that are just the opposite. Even if something good happens, I can't get out of my own way and stop dwelling on the dark side of things. 

Then there are the days in between-which is mostly where I spend my time.  How do I know when I am just spinning my wheels?  How do I know when it is really worth it?  to dig down deep and never give up?  Can I stop holding on to things that make me feel bad?  Can I find self forgiveness?  Find the bright side?  Have an open mind?  Appreciate the wins-accept the losses?  Can I make a change?  Take control?  Challenge myself?  Be courageous?  Take a risk?  Believe in myself?  Look at something in a different light instead of jumping to conclusions?  Forgive someone?  Break bad habits?  See hope and beauty even in times of trouble?

Of course these are rhetorical questions, but they can apply to so many things in my everyday life.  I know the list goes on and on.  I know how to answer these things in my life.  But I don't do it.  Many days, I just ignore it.  I know why too.  It takes so much more energy.  Everything worthwhile is harder to obtain.  I guess if it was easy, it may not be so fulfilling.  I have accepted that so many wrong turns and disappointments, while at the time where terrible, have gone on to serve a bigger purpose in my life. 

So, what to do when at a crossroads, or when not sure how to go on?  I guess you just keep on keepin on....

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Rhetorical Question

Both Sides Now

Bows and flows of angel hair and ice cream castles in the air
And feathered canyons everywhere, i've looked at clouds that way.
But now they only block the sun, they rain and snow on everyone.
So many things i would have done but clouds got in my way.

I've looked at clouds from both sides now,
From up and down, and still somehow
It's cloud's illusions i recall.
I really don't know clouds at all.

Moons and junes and ferris wheels, the dizzy dancing way you feel
As every fairy tale comes real; i've looked at love that way.
But now it's just another show. you leave 'em laughing when you go
And if you care, don't let them know, don't give yourself away.

I've looked at love from both sides now,
From give and take, and still somehow
It's love's illusions i recall.
I really don't know love at all.

Tears and fears and feeling proud to say "i love you" right out loud,
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds, i've looked at life that way.
But now old friends are acting strange, they shake their heads, they say
I've changed.
Something's lost but something's gained in living every day.

I've looked at life from both sides now,
From win and lose, and still somehow
It's life's illusions i recall.
I really don't know life at all.
This is one of those songs I play when I am alone in the car.  There is something so melancholy about it.  I heard it when I was a young girl-maybe 12 or 13.  I liked it then, but I didn't know why.  I have always had very ecclectic taste in music.  It was not unusual for me to listen to a song like this-and then listen to Iron Maiden and hour later. I remember thinking the words were different (I thought clouds was clowns).  But even the words I understood-I really didn't understand.  Although the overall concept of seeing the bright side and the down side of everything is nothing new.  What was so different for me then from now-is perspective.  I have now lived enough and screwed up enough in my life to understand the true meaning of both sides.
Clouds were something as children we made into cream castles in the air....feathered canyons everywhere
I think clouds represent that everlasting wonder and love affair we have with those tings we can't explain.  It's that feeling that takes your breath away when you see a beautiful sunset, or hear the ocean waves crash down, or look off into the distance and see mountains or rolling hills or praires.  It's just a peaceful feeling.  Although you don't have to be a child to feel it, it seems as an adult we are far more likely to see that they block the sun, cause rain and snow....
And I have been that adult, but I don't want to be anymore.  I want to see  bows and flows of angel hair again.

Love was something that made you dizzy like a farris wheel; a fairy tale that comes true.
I wish I could bottle this feeling and keep it with me forever.  But love has a way of fading.  That exhilarating feeling of new love is unmistakable and irreplaceable.  It really does feel like you are going to explode.  There is no reproducing it.  And most everyone has had great pain caused by great love.  As adults, we are often jaded by the shattering feeling of that intense high turning into an intense low.  As children or young adults, we are more naive about it; and more willing to throw caution to the wind just to chase that incredible high.  As we age and experience some bumps and bruises along the way, we become more guarded.  People we love will hurt us, they will let us down...its just a show and if you care don't let them know.  The challenge is not be so scared of the pain, that we forego the pleasure.  It is my hope that love will always run through my veins-even when my hopes are shattered and my faith is tested.

Life was full of dreams and feeling proud
I can remember a time I never thought I could fail.  I thought I could do anything-I was confident, faithful, resilient, energetic, inspired-just full of life.  My career was productive, my marriage was so strong, my faith in God was solid, my fears were minimal.  I never worried about what mysteries life held, and what was yet to come.  I was ready to take on anything.
Sure, I had been through tough times, experienced adversity and weathered some storms.  However, once I reached about 35, all that changed.  So many things I never thought could happen to me-did happen.  And my entire 30's I spent picking myself off the floor only to get knocked down again.  Make no mistake, I was not always a victim.  I had plenty to do with things getting  broken-still do.  And I know that the trials aren't over.  I will face many more in my life.  The most profound lyrics to this song:  something's lost and something's gained in living every day.  I want to find that 20 something version of myself again.  I want to believe I haven't fallen too far to love.  I know I can still be that person-it never went away completely.  It just got misplaced. 

So, are these things just illusions when we are feeling all the good stuff?  That is more of a cup half empy or a cup half full type of rhetorical question.  That changes for me from time to time.  However, I believe it to be half full more often than not.  But I am chosing to look at things from this perspective:

Nowruz President Obama Celebrates Persian Holiday Nowruz IN ARABIC

This is an interesting perspective from a President whom has noticeably changed his attitude toward Iran and its leadership in the last 12 months.  I am not terribly active in following these events-however, from time to time I get an earful from my dad.  That is also especially odd since I really don't think he considers me a fellow Iranian.  Anyway, he showed me this clip, and I noticed as he watched and listened, there were tears forming in his eyes.  At that moment, it could have been a clip on people protesting peanuts, and I would have found it compelling.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Oh how I love it when....

Some of my life's greatest and simple pleasures:

  • taking your ski boot off at the end of the day

  • making every green light when you are in a hurry

  • finding a great parking spot

  • when there is no wait/no lines

  • when something is on sale-and there is actually one in your size

  • losing weight and not trying to

  • a clean house

  • fresh sheets

  • a warm sunny day-with blue skies

  • sleeping in

  • sound of children laughing

  • old friends

  • new friends

  • volunteering in my kids' classrooms-and knowing all the kids' names

  • new socks

  • warm blankets at the hospital

  • actually finding something in the lost and found-seriously-now often does that really happen?

  • bacon

  • when I hear the garage open, and I know it's Paul

  • cooking something that people really enjoy

  • the smell of rain

  • finding money in your pockets

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Do I make you proud?

Children-regardless of gender or age, long to be someone their parents are proud of, or at the very least, not ashamed of. My mom is what I consider unconditional love in my life. Since the day I met her, she has had an open heart and an open mind. She has accepted my flaws and celebrated my strengths. She is my biggest fan-she will laugh with me, cry with me, and everything in between. Essentially, she is what love always meant to me. I have never really felt that way when it comes to my dad. I have never felt like I lived up to his standards, I doubt I ever will. No amount of money, no level of education, no accomplishments can ever measure up.

I was at Jackson's basketball party last Friday night. I was talking with Hunter's dad, Azeem. He and I share similar coloring (dark hair, dark eyes). We were talking about our heritage and what made our coloring so unique. He, like most people who meet me, would never have guessed Iranian-and first generation at that-heck, I lived there. And for the first time in my life, I realized, I was remorseful to the point of ashamed that no one can ever believe I am Iranian. And it occurred to me that I have effectively erased that part of my identity.

I spent so many years of my childhood wishing it away-the times I remember wishing I was Italian or Greek or Spanish-which are what most people think I am today when they meet me. I remember getting married and being so thrilled to get rid of my maiden name (Haddad). I have lost the ability to communicate in Farsi-although I spoke it fluently when I was 3 and stopped speaking when we moved back to the US when I was 7. Those are prime years to learn to speak, read, write, etc. There is no reason I should not be able to still communicate. I have zero friends that are Iranian. I have always felt like a black sheep (along with my brother, sister and mother) when it comes to the Haddad side of the family.

My father was someone I resented most of my childhood. He was always angry-never seemed happy or even present unless we were with other people that he was putting a show on for. He was hyper critical, he seemed to really hate my mom-and the three of us as well. Looking back, I don't think he was a kids kind of guy. I think his cross cultural marriage and subsequent offspring caused him great sorrow in life. I believe he should have married an Iranian woman and had perfect Iranian children. He resented us more and more as the years went on. He would not speak Farsi to us-that is when he even spoke to us. I remember he would get so angry when we talked at the dinner table, which is odd now that I have a family-it's one of the things I enjoy the most is hearing about their day. It seemed an easy and natural transition to eliminate the Iranian part of my being. My family from Iran certainly didn't care to include me-my own father didn't even consider me part of his culture or his family.

And that brings me to today, at 41, I find it very sad that I have eradicated that part of my heritage almost completely. I am sure through the eyes of a young child, the perceptions and the reality of the situation are rather far apart. But I do know this, growing up feeling unloved and unwanted has a lot to do with the way I tucked my culture away-never to let it come out again.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

You are More

There's a girl in the corner With tear stains on her eyes
From the places she's wandered And the shame she can't hide
She says, "How did I get here? I'm not who I once was.
And I'm crippled by the fear That I've fallen too far to love
"But don't you know who you are, What's been done for you?
Yeah don't you know who you are?

You are more than the choices that you've made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You've been remade.

Well she tries to believe it That she's been given new life
But she can't shake the feeling That it's not true tonight
She knows all the answers And she's rehearsed all the lines
And so she'll try to do better But then she's too weak to try
But don't you know who you are?

You are more than the choices that you've made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You've been remade.

You are more than the choices that you've made
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You've been remade.

'Cause this is not about what you've done, But what's been done for you.
This is not about where you've been, But where your brokenness brings you to
This is not about what you feel, But what He felt to forgive you,
And what He felt to make you loved.

You are more than the choices that you've made,
You are more than the sum of your past mistakes,
You are more than the problems you create,
You've been remade
You've been remade
You've been remade

Now I can't take credit for this post-my dear sweet friend Carrie posted it to me on Facebook. It's things like these that remind me that God is watching, He is listening-and He is responding. These lyrics moved me. It is so easy to make everything about me-especially when I am feeling guilt and fear and saddness. But then I think about the big picture (with a little help-thank you Carrie); and it puts comfort where I have fear, it gives me relief where I have worry and peace where I have intense strife and self-hatred. I don't have to look hard-it's all around me. We are all battling and making our way there

This week in Bible Study, the book of Isiah had a verse that really gripped me:
This is our everlasting God! Our Creator! He never weakens or grows weary. None of us can comprehend the depth of His righteousness. It is this powerful and mighty God who sees us and hears us! He gives us strength when we feel weak and empowers us when we are tired and worn out. Yes, “Those who wait upon the LORD will find new strength. They will fly high like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” – Isaiah 40:31

Giving me strength when I feel weak...ok, I just want to come out and say, I am really feeling tired and worn out. I feel so weak and it does not feel like I could run. But then I hear this song, and I read this verse. And I realized-I don't have to. And what a relief.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

The path less traveled

I love this saying. This path has changed for me many times in the seasons of my life. I expect that it will again and again. Currently the path I am on, is one of redemption. I want so badly to be a good example to my kids, a good wife, a good friend. I have failed at all of those things. And mostly because I took the easier path-the one that's more traveled.

I am reminded of the famous words of Lt. Col. Frank Slade from his 1992 Oscar award winning performance in "Scent of a Woman"

Now I have come to the cross-roads in my life. I always knew what the right path was. Without exception, I knew, but I never took it. You know why? It was too damn hard.

I was 22 years old when I saw that movie. I thought I understood what he meant. I had no idea. Today, at 40, I understand. I, too, have taken the wrong path at times in my life-knowing exactly what the right path was. And yes, it was a lot easier. And now, I am dealing with the aftermath. Oh, there is always a consequence. I just have to keep at it, and stay on my path...

Monday, February 14, 2011

Why does it taste so bad?

I have never really questioned why remedies (medicines, shots, etc) taste so awful. They are just a means to an end. Vaccines, innoculations, surgeries, dental work. It all hurts-and for the same purpose: getting better. Another application, in my life specifically, would be exercising. Certainly it does not always feel good-while you are doing it-not even after all the time...but in time, results will favor those that stick through the pain. Childbirth is a another great example. An epideral is a great alternative to labor pains-but it sure isn't painless or pleasant. Often, trading a short term, painful, remedy, for long term sustainable results is just the path you have to take.

So, this is starting to sound like one of Paul's papers for his MBA..that's a whole other blog. But getting a degree/diploma/certificate is also something that can painstaking and slow-and void of short term gains. What am I getting at? Life is constantly reminding me that when I am faced with a tough situation-especially something rather painful, I need to hold on, have a little patience, perserverance and tolerance. Most of the time-if I survive, I will be better for it. One big paraphrase for "that which does not kill me makes me strong"

Friday, February 11, 2011

Bible Study

Okay, I will admit, the idea of going to Bible study did not exactly appeal to me before. That is, before the first one I went to-which was last fall (Aug 2010). It was with Beth Moore, and we studied the book of Daniel. Honestly, I went because my good friend Carrie told me she was doing it, and I felt more comfortable going with someone I know.

Carrie is one of those people that I just enjoy every minute with, and even when I feel like the worst person in the world, I just believe that her heart has room for me. I just don't feel like she would ever judge me or look down on me-even if she knew the worst. And it's hard to explain why. When she and I met, I remember thinking we were the most unlikely of friends. Our kids (her daughter, Grace, and my Jackson) were in kindegarten together. She seemed a bit reserved and even a little unfriendly. I realized quickly she was just shy and unsure of herself like the rest of us. Ever since that year, I have been lucky enough that our kids have been in the same class, so she and I have been able to grow closer and closer. And it always feels so simple/easy-she is just a kind soul, a good spirit and a warm heart. I love that she is as sensitive as I am ( I am certain she is as much of a crier in movies and sad stories), and she loves her kids and is committed to being a Christian-I look up to her. And even with all the things we have in common, we are so different as people. It's what makes our friendship that much richer I guess. I just love her. In any case, I would never have done the bible study without her, but I am infinately grateful to her.

I felt so intimated-even with Carrie (my comfort zone) there with me. I don't know the bible that well, I have not always been a good Christian. I looked around the room and saw all these beautiful people who seemed to be such good Christians. But as we progressed, and I listened to what Beth Moore had to say, it occurred to me that I was right where I was supposed to be. In fact, when Paul asked me one day why I was going, and what was I trying to prove-or fake even. I thought to myself-this is exactly where the broken go. Bible study isn't for people who are perfect, and if it were, no one would be there. Oh, I'm sure those lofty, judgemental types are there. But I know they don't get as much out of it as people like me. About five or six weeks into it, I sat there and realized that maybe 10 or 20 years ago, I would not have understood a lot of this. That is, not enough had happened in my life for me to understand the types of trials and pains that Beth described. The kind that Daniel endured, the kind that Christ endured. Beth talked about the down times in her life-times when she made mistakes. When I was much younger, I would have looked at my 40 year old self and thought-what a total idiot and a loser. But know, I understand that I have lived long enough to see both sides of life. I am just like everybody else; with all my imperfections. And there is still a place where I can go and feel like it's all okay. So often, I will be in a room filled with people and think-if these people really knew the things I have done....I don't even deserve to be here. I just feel like the worst person around. But then I remember these 2 or so hour sessions I have been to, and it feels like I am worth saving. Like other people might even feel like that too.

Am I the Bible study "type" No...I am not. But then, no one really is. And I love when I am there. I love hearing Beth Moore talk about human beings, and how none of us has it all together all the time. It is a journey. We will have good days and bad days. We will be tested. I know that a lot of the tough times in my life come along souly to remind me that it is worth it-I am worth it. And I just have to keep on going.....