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Be brave, travel, and love.

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Today, November 1st, is my mother’s birthday.  She is 30 years older than me (plus some months and days), and I am grateful that she waited to have children.  My sister and I have always benefitted from her hard work, her life experience, and her wisdom.

My mom spoiled my sister and I.  We were allowed to climb in the big parents’ bed to sleep, we were encouraged to find a way to play, no matter what, and she had a sympathetic ear when we didn’t want to clean our rooms.  We also learned that one of the best treats is ice cream, after popcorn.  She may have had a hard time saying no, but she definitely taught us fun.  We have had hard times and good times, but she is able to find the joy in any situation.

When my mother was 18, she left home and got a job as a secretary for the state department.  She spent those daring years living in Germany and Russia, at the heart of the Cold War, typing letters for diplomats.  When she came home, she moved in with her best friend, and they took off on a road trip across the country.  Eventually, she got back together with her high school sweetheart (my dad), and they settled down together.  This has served as a pattern for me: be brave, travel, love.

To meet her, you might say she’s good-natured and funny, and incredibly supportive of those around her.  But she is stronger than you’d guess.  She and my dad decided to uproot us and move to a small town when we were 11 and 9.  We fought and cried to stay in our school, but we were dragged two hours away to horse country.  My father had long dreamed of having his own ranch, and my mother worked in their small business to make his dream a reality.  In a quiet moment, I heard her whisper, “I just never thought I’d have horses and cows.”  This only underscores her love and devotion to her husband.

Now my sister has two children.  I see the grandkids getting spoiled like we were when they go to grandma and grandpa’s house, and I love when I get to be a part of it.

My mom’s life experience has given her patience and understanding.  I am told that I am like her, and I hope that is true.  I look a bit like her, but I don’t know that I have her patience.  I DO know, however, that I will live my life following what she taught us:

-Love completely and unconditionally.

-Even at the worst times, ice cream and a funny movie can make everything better.

-Be adventurous.  If you want to see the world, go do it.

-Work hard.  You are in charge of your own destiny, and you can find a way to get to your dreams.

-Support your husband.  He is your partner, and together you can make your life what you want it to be.

-Cleaning is less important than playing.  This includes encouraging small children to play in the mud.

-Nothing is impossible.  You just have to believe it will happen.

-Make the people you love the most important things in your life.  That means every phone call should be greeted with an excited “Hello, there!” even if we’ve already talked today.

Here’s my mom and dad with me sometime around the beginning of 1978:

Don’t you love these old pictures?  Isn’t she pretty?

Here’s another one of my mom and her sister with me (in the red gingham…!) and two of my cousins:

 

Weird gene pool, I know…blond aunt, dark-haired cousin, blond me, dark-haired mom.

Gotta love the 70s styles.

Thanks for everything, Mom.  Happy Birthday!  We love you.

 

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Marriage and “The Bachelorette”

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Yesterday Marco and I went to the mall, and we made a stop at Popcornopolis.  We got a large bag of cheddar popcorn, and then discussed how we would sneak it into the movie theater.  Marco suggested stopping somewhere to get little baggies and hiding them in my purse, as the original bag was too large.  However, we decided to be good and go home to watch our Sunday shows.  This Sunday was special, though.  It was the season finale of The Bachelorette.  Yes, we watch every episode of every Bachelor and Bachelorette, including the reunion shows.  There are great recaps of every episode at Lost Angeles.  It’s a funny blog by a guy who watches it with his wife.

When we got home, we settled on the couch to watch Emily choose her final guy.  Anyone who’s been following this show knows that she feels a “connection” to Arie, but that Jef is the clear winner, despite the missing f.  He’s nice, they have similar senses of humor, they can both shoot clay pigeons like nobody’s business, and he’s hot.  A little tip: we are very likely to marry someone who we feel is like us; equal to us in looks, intelligence,  and humor.   Opposites don’t necessarily attract…we really just want another version of ourselves around.

Anyway, we were both sitting on the couch, on our respective sides.  [Any time we trade sides it feels very strange.]  Our couch is awesome.  It has two recliners, with a seat in the middle.  The middle seat NEVER gets used, unless I feel like cuddling, but it’s difficult to cuddle from the middle when he’s totally reclined.  So we were both reclining, with the popcorn bag sitting on the middle seat.  We each had a paper towel in our laps, and we were taking turns pouring popcorn onto the towels.

At some point, Marco felt the bag was going to spill all over the couch, so he moved it closer to his side and propped it up.  The mood instantly changed.  I gave him a warning look, because that popcorn was half mine, and now he was taking ownership of the bag.  On my next refill, I held the bag on MY side and propped it up.  Then he took it back, and we went back and forth like this, both of us suspecting the other was going to finish off the popcorn without sharing enough.  He finally relented and graciously handed the bag to me when we were down to the last few kernels.

What struck me during this hour was that we were watching a TV show where the sole purpose is to find someone to marry.  They go from one exotic locale to the next, alternately falling in love and getting dumped, just so they can finally find “the one” and end up sitting at home on the couch fighting with their spouse over who gets to hold the bag of popcorn.

Marco and I laughed over this, and I realized that this is what it’s all about.  It’s not about the big romantic scenes; it’s about the quiet, funny, everyday life that we get to share with one another.  I feel so lucky to have found “the one” who has a sense of humor like mine, and who loves me just as I am.

Big Bear Lake

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Marco and I attended a wedding in Big Bear last weekend.  I haven’t been to Big Bear since I was a child, and I was so happy to be there as an adult!  The mountains are always beautiful, but if you’re like me, you don’t think of going there in the spring or summer.  I love the snow, and I only think of visiting the mountains for skiing and sledding.  But last weekend, the weather was gorgeous, and the mountains were the perfect setting for a great couple to tie the knot.

The ceremony took place overlooking the lake, and there was a lovely breeze to cool us down from the warm sun.

The wedding was a lot of fun, but the best part was hearing the bride’s three kids speak about their love for their mom and their new stepfather.  There wasn’t a dry eye in the place!

We enjoyed some “after-party” time at Chad’s Place in Big Bear, which was walking distance from our hotel.  Chad’s Place is a fun bar with a dance floor, and there was a great band playing that night.  The band is called Slingshot, and they cover a lot of fun classic rock songs.  I highly recommend it, if you’re looking for some small-town fun up in Big Bear!

We stayed at the Robinhood Resort, which is across the street from the lake.

Our section was called the Wishing Well.

It’s a funky, old place that looks like it is a collection of 3 or 4 motels.  We had the upstairs corner room right behind the tree in the photo.  It was a typical motel, with old, used furniture and carpet that feels full of chemicals.  But we’ve definitely stayed in worse places, and it was a short walk to the wedding and to the bar, for a very good price!  I think we paid around $90 for the night on Hotels.com.

One of the best things about our room was the room key.  I love an old-fashioned key!

When we checked in, we were delighted by the lobby.  It’s very rustic, with some funny twists.

This little outhouse/go-cart sits in front of the hotel.

Celebrities slept here!

Marco and I found some time to wander around the lake on Sunday before heading home.  It was so nice to be in a beautiful place on such a perfect day.

      

All in all, a great mini vacation with my husband!

I love the lavender shirt!

 

Love Smart

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My background is in Psychology; I have studied it, taught it, done counseling, and done social work.  From what I have seen, it is obvious to me that there are a few things that mess up romantic relationships.  A big one is blind infatuation.

Blind infatuation is Hollywood love!  We all want it, and hopefully we all get it at some point, but it must be acknowledged and set aside when making lifelong decisions.  I know I sound a little callous here, but I had a professor once who said that infatuation lasts four years.  When you look at the divorce rate, I think he’s right.  People fall in love, get married, have a child, and then real life hits them square in the face.  They have to look away from each other’s beautiful, perfect eyes, and look at the real world.

Suddenly they see the differences between their world views, and they may have a hard time negotiating those differences.

The divorce rates in the US and Canada spiked in the 1980s, and have been in a slow decline ever since.  However, marriage rates are also in a slow decline.  That means more people are waiting.

Perhaps the change has to do with societal expectations.  People are now expected to get some higher education and start a career before settling down.  As a college degree becomes necessary for employment, people are older, on average, before they get married.

The moral of this story is to wait.  Date as long as you can before getting engaged, because this is the only way you will really get to know your partner.  Go through some big life changes and experiences with them before marrying them.  Oh, and listen to your friends.  They see the real person, even if you can’t yet.

The textbooks say there are two kinds of love in marriage: romantic (also called passionate) and companionate love.  What would be perfect would be to start out with passionate, butterflies-in-the-stomach, can’t-live-without-you romantic love, and then have it settle into long-lasting companionate love.  Think of your grandparents holding hands, and you have a picture of companionate love.  This is the goal, whether we realize it or not.  Here’s an article on the two types of love that explains it well: Passionate or Companionate Love: Which One Weighs More?

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