November 23, 2010

Generation Gap

(At campsite Monday morning)

I am now old enough to use the phrase, “back when I was your age” a lot more than I thought I would. Camping this week is again bringing those words to my lips.

Yes, I am camping in a tent…outside….and this time no one forced me. It was actually something I thought of on my own. And I am enjoying it more than my hard head will ever allow me to admit.

This morning as I walked with my son to the water faucet so we could wash our hands and face I handed him a bar of soap and said, “do you know how to use a bar of soap?” I wasn’t being sarcastic. It occurred to me that in his lifetime he has used body wash for bathing and liquid soap for hand cleaning. Bars are from “back in my day”.

It is during times like these that I find myself trying to provide him life lessons. Because we have very limited electricity (enough to power my lap top and phone this time) we have talked a lot about how things were when I was growing up. I have also offered a few stories I remember my parents and grandparents telling me about when they were growing up. One of my favorite from my mothers memory was a time when a war was going on and the city required everyone to turn out all the lights as a drill for possible air raids one day. My grandmother wouldn’t turn out the lights because she had an infant. My mom told me how the police would come by and urge the requirement. While those stories mean more to me now than when I was “his age” that is when I heard them.

I assume they were stories with hidden meaning by my parents because they saw how much I had (more than them) and hoped I didn’t grow up being a spoiled brat taking advantage of things. When I was in elementary school learning spelling I was privileged to do so through the fun technology of the Speak and Spell. My mother had to learn standing at a chalkboard with a nun at her back. It wasn’t until I was a mother of a child learning in far more advanced ways than I that I could ever understand the hidden meaning of those stories.

In the curriculum I continue to work on and implement with my clients I talk a lot about the generation gap. I believe it is important to understand our family dynamics in order to understand ourselves better. In doing so I find that recognizing the differences in generations of the family to be significant. I certainly live in a different world than my mom when she was 41 and my son lives in a different world at 9 than I did at that age. Without recognition of those differences, I will fail to understand the people in my family, thus, failing an ability to communicate with them…..which will lead to the success or failure of our relationships. It is simply summed up in the adage, “don’t judge another until you walk a mile in their shoes”……

Even if he rolls his eyes behind my back, I will continue to tell him the stories and hope some will stick.

November 17, 2010

What If'ing Again?

So, I was having a conversation with a friend who was wondering how different life would be if a decision made years ago would have been another. I guess we all do that from time to time, don’t we? What if we had taken that job we were offered? What if we had married this person instead of that?

Today I can honestly say that I am completely okay with the past. While, there are decisions I would make differently today, I would not change anything about my past. The decisions I made then were the ones I made then based on the information and experience I had.

For instance, when I was 21 years old I had my first boyfriend (yes, really my first boyfriend was when I was 21)! I would probably not engage in a conversation with him today. But back then I thought he hung the moon. I made foolish decisions in that relationship. I was incredibly codependent and made him first and foremost.

If you know me today you might scratch your head and say, “codependent? Not Paula”. But, the reason I am a different person today is because of the decisions I made in my life. The good, the bad and the ugly…..the choices I made before helped make me this person I am today.

That relationship alone grew me a million percent. Were it not for being in that relationship it is likely I would have quit college and not have pursued the profession I have devoted nearly twenty years of my life to. Were it not for being in that relationship I would not understand what real love is. Not because he was the real thing….but because he was not.

Everything that has occurred in my life, good and bad…..have brought me here. So there are no “what if’s” of wonder related to my past. Only “what could be’s” related to my future.

That is education.

November 16, 2010

Tuesday Poem

Moving into the future with confidence and strength.

Not the same as in the past.

Not looking to become who I once was…

Only looking to become who I am to be.

November 10, 2010

Miss You...

All that I am comes from your love. You are the inspiration of my life, of my heart.

November 05, 2010

Time Stood Still....

I facilitated a group yesterday and when I got to the part about how response to situations yield the outcome I mentioned, for the first time in a group, about the loss of my parents. I haven’t kept it a secret, but I don’t readily discuss my pain with groups in that way. And I wasn’t discussing the sadness, just the facts. I briefly indicated how different it was to lose my dad at twenty five to a sudden and unexpected death as opposed to losing my mom at forty…..of what was sudden and unexpected but the reality of her having had cancer for two years did better prepare me for eventually losing her.

After I shared that information I moved along okay. But, interestingly, I came home last night and my body was aching. I was very tired but have been unable to sleep most of the night. I have taken three hot baths and still cannot turn off my heart. The day is just around the corner.

And when all is quiet and still I cannot escape the memories of that day. That morning, that afternoon, that drive, and that evening. As if it were yesterday, it looms in my heart.

That morning I recall watching my son take the trash out. When he got to the sidewalk to step onto the street I remember thinking how at that very moment I feared his walking across the street. So many things can happen accidentally. The reason I thought that was probably because of the car accident my mom had sixteen days prior. The idea came into my head at the moment that I wanted to create a workshop about living for today….I wanted to call it, “If today were the last day”…..

When I got to the office that morning I quickly wrote a synopsis, objectives and an outline for just such a workshop. I submitted it to a conference I frequently present. Two hours later my brother called to urge me to come to the hospital because my mom wasn’t going to live. That came as a surprise since I had just left believing she would.

The drive to pack my things, the phone calls along the way, picking up my son at school and telling him what was happening all race through my mind again and again…..and then that phone call…..the one to my sister…asking her if mom could just hang on until I got there….

But she couldn’t.

And time stood still.