Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Things I realize

Some days I feel like I don't have to time to think at all, and other days I feel like ALL I do is think.

Well, today is one of those days I've been thinking a lot. I'm at a weird point in my life (ok maybe I'm getting old) but you know, I'm not the naive, spring chicken I used to be and I find myself feeling so much more self-aware and so much more aware of the world changing around me.

I saw this really handsome old guy today at lunch. When I say "old" I mean probably in his seventies. His silver hair was combed really nice and looking freshly cut, though I suspect that's how it ALWAYS looks. His face was clean-shaven. He wore a nice white button up shirt with a t-shirt underneath and his shirt was tucked in to his nice khaki slacks. Anyway, I noticed he was by himself and there was nothing really blocking my view so I just sat and watched. He ate well and seemed peaceful. I felt lonely watching him though. I wondered if he had a wife, or children or had ever been to war.

I realized about that time that when his generation is gone, so many things will be lost or forgotten. I am willing to bet when he was a boy, that man carried his lunch in a lunch pail - if and when he was lucky enough to have any lunch. My kids wouldn't even know what a pail is. He probably carried his books to school in a satchel. Again, my kids wouldn't know what that is. He probably wore britches with knee socks pulled up. And if he dared act up at school, he probably got a paddling for it from the teacher.

I also realized while watching him that when his generation is gone, so too, will be the definition of real men. Now this is sort of a rant here, but bear with me. You rarely see facial hair on old men, but you almost always see it on younger men. Old men were taught to shave by their fathers or grandfathers and it wasn't optional, it was expected. They'd use the old style whipped up lather with a scalding hot towel and an old stainless steel triple blade razor.

They always smelled clean, and by clean I mean like SOAP, not cologne. Men these days smell like a cologne factory with all the fancy body washes and all.

Older men always wore an undershirt which these days has become a t-shirt. Most men now days wear one to paint in or lounge around the house in.

And ah, my biggest peeve about younger men.. the avoidance of tucking in the shirt. Old men tuck in their shirts and make sure their 'gig-line' is tight (that would be, making sure the buttons on the shirt are aligned with the button and zipper of the pants they are tucked into and the belt buckle is also in alignment). And older men always, always wear a belt. These days I'm willing to bet most men rarely if ever tuck in their shirt or wear a belt. My daddy used to tell me, "If those pants have got belt-loops, you wear a belt.. those loops aren't for decoration."

Ok and now not to sound like some 1950s Indiana housewife, but he was probably the boss of his family. What I mean by that is he probably did the managing the money, the WORK, the providing, etc. These days many men seem lost without their wives. The wife these days is the manager, bookkeeper, banker, etc.

These are the things that will be gone when the greatest generation is no more.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Life is good

My husband and I have been through SO much these past few years. More than a lot of people could imagine going through. I think the only thing that compares to the stress is trying to care for a sick child. Thank GOD that has not been something we've faced.

It's easy to find faults in each other. When we are young we start out thinking that the husband will wear a halo and the wife will have wings of an angel. Then real life happens. It gets tough, it gets ugly and most of all, it gets unfair. I think our biggest strength was rolling with the punches.

We could never have anticipated the things we were faced with. By only worrying about what was truly in our control (our actions & reactions) we learned to grow as people and as a couple. It's tempting in difficult times to think things will never get worse. It's tempting to think we've paid our dues and things will turn the corner. THAT is exactly when something worse DOES happen. Surrendering it all and realizing that the only you can do is have the right response when whatever happens, happens, is so very important.

It's easy to think life owes us something. It's easy to think if we make all the right moves and decisions, tragedy or disappointment will be averted. Not so. Every day life reminds me that I am not in control of IT.

Rather, I am in control of myself, my impressions and my actions and reactions. Epictetus, an ancient philosopher, said: "Make the best use of what is in your power and take the rest as it happens". I really lean on this quote for strength when times are tough.

There are so many cilches I could throw out, like you can't have rainbows without rain or you can't know happiness until you've been blue.

I just wanted to pause for a moment and say that as trying as times have been, as stressful as our marriage and family life have been; I wouldn't change a single thing that's happened. When something "bad" has happened, we find something good. Not just something we convinced ourselves was good, but truly good. Like jobs changing mid-career... suddenly we have TONS of family time we never had before. Weekends off, time to go places and take vacations together. Even just being able to sit down together and watch a movie.

We learned to laugh through the tears, to turn scowls into smiles and to hug each other and say something nice at least once a day that we really mean!