The “Path” That Was Taken

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I— 
I took the one less traveled by, 
And that has made all the difference.”  –  Robert Frost
path Spencer's Butte

Beginning of off the beaten path

 I come from a long line of women, who got to take the road less traveled.  Both my grandmother and great-grandmother were divorced women back in times when that was unheard of. They remained single most of their lives. I am following their path with less financial struggles.  Particularly my grandmother, who helped to rear me, lived with a kind heart and no bitterness. She taught me this kind of grace. By example, she showed me how to reach and grow towards the best in myself.
path Spencer's Butte

Challenges along the “path”

Along that path I have found adventure and did my best (and am still in process) to learn from my own challenges. I am not doing this alone. Friends, family members, even where I live helps me to be grateful for what is in my life, not what is “missing”.

I know there are many other women who have been living alone and rearing children in this country. I have not been alone on this path. Many of those women have not had the support that I have had.

“According to U.S. Census Bureau, out of about 12 million single parent families in 2014, more than 80% were headed by single mothers. Today 1 in 4 children under the age of 18 — a total of about 17.4 million — are being raised without a father and nearly half (45%) live below the poverty line.”

This is a path that no American can be cheerful about. In many cases, I am sure that a divorce 0r separating from a partner was necessary; I know for me it was.  What is missing for so many of these women is the support and education that many of these mothers (fathers) need to help them financially take care for their children, and so many absent fathers (mothers) need to take responsibility for their own children.  For those 20% of single fathers, I have seen them where I live, and they have  the same challenges as do single mothers.  Those men are doing the job of both parents, too.

further on path

Further along on  off the beaten path

For more information about how in the USA we support single-parent families less than other wealthy countries in the world, check out this article:

http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2012/12/20/1368271/america-single-parents/

view on Spencer's

View from the “Path that was taken”

I have friends and family members whose marriages that have continued to work. I am happy for them. Today we have all the tools we need to help us in this country to be better and do better, both on our own and as married people.  I think the job of being a parent is one of the most important ones we have in life and one of the most rewarding. I became a teacher because I love being a mom so much, and still love volunteering to read and tutor children. Even though I am no longer full time in a classroom.

Here is a TED talk I think could be very helpful to all parents, whether married or single. Bruce Feiler talks about “agile” programming for all kinds of parents. Check it out.

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements
Standard

Whimsy and Quirkiness

whimsical fan

whimsical fan

As a “fan” of whimsy, I had to photograph this “yard art”.  Whimsy is the out of the ordinary. It makes me laugh and elevates my mood. There is also an element of creativity that I like about it, too. For me life is both a comedy and a tragedy. Whimsy helps remind me of the fun and joy in life.

Whimsy and quirkiness is playful. It reminds me not to take life too seriously.

gymnastics in park

gymnastics at Fresh Market

Besides this being beautiful to watch, these gymnastics took place at our fresh market where vendors sold their wares.  The fact that this couple didn’t care who watched, and did not collect money for their “art” felt whimsical and alive to me. I smiled inside and outside.

bottle top

bottle top with a message

Again I smiled, or even laughed  out loud when I discovered this on a bottle top from a health food store drink. Whimsy surprises me. Being silly is not valued in our culture, so this bottle cap reminded me that I get to be who I am, even if I am being silly. When I am being silly, I am reminded of the innocent child, who does not care what others think, particularly if I am not hurting any one else. Go ahead laugh a little too loud. Smile like a “fool”. Be yourself!

This TED Talk by Dan Gilbert has some interesting things to say about happiness that may surprise you.  http://www.ted.com/talks/dan_gilbert_asks_why_are_we_happy

“Don’t worry about the world ending today. It’s already tomorrow in Australia.”
~ Unknown ~    
Thank you Unknown!

Where I live, quirky is everywhere. This place is not quite as pretentious as other places I have lived. One day I was waiting outside for my doctor’s office to open. Within five minutes I saw an adult woman who was wearing a beanie with a spinner on top of it walking on the sidewalk with a male. Then I saw an adult male drive by on his bike. He had put a card in one of the spokes of his wheels, so it made a whirring noise. The last thing I saw was a shirtless and shoeless man on his bike, with flowing long hair ride by on his bike. Another day in another neighborhood,  a man rode by me on his bike while I was walking and shouted out “Lots of love”. I shouted back, “Same to you.”

quirky attitude

quirky attitude

With whimsy and quirkiness  in my life,  I feel happy, and it rarely costs me anything except to remain open to being aware of it.

 

Standard

Every Moment Counts

Saying

Saying and Reminder

This is on my bathroom wall.  It is a slightly different version from the quote by Lama Surya Das: “Forgiveness means Letting Go of the Hope for a Better Past”.  It is to remind me to let go, so that I can try to be in THIS MOMENT.  Like everyone I have a back story. Letting go of some of the dark pieces of my past has been freeing me to be more and MORE to live NOW and in the present.  I feel what I feel now with more depth, too, and am getting in more touch with what those feelings are.

“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have. Make the Now the primary focus of your life.”  –  Eckhart Tolle

When I think back on my life what counted many times the most were the small moments when I could be fully present for my daughter.  Her birth was important, and that was and is not the highlight of our relationship. Every interaction with her has been important since she was born, not just her birth.

After a lovely wedding, which I had made another key moment in my life, I realized (after I was divorced) that I had had an expectation of the “Princess, fairy tale version” that many of us women were sold back then and believed about the “white picket fence”, and “happily every after”. Those versions did not tell me that I needed to sustain that “happily ever after” with many moments that counted in that marriage. I also chose a partner with whom I could not sustain those moments; at that time, I was too young, inexperienced, and naive to know it. At that time I  did not have a clue who I was.

Dandelion Flower

Dandelion Flower

Thank goodness, today, even looking at a dandelion flower brings me joy.  It is so complex and beautiful. I reveled yesterday in a conversation with a five-year old girl, who is the granddaughter of a friend; I felt happy during a conversation with a family member; last night I deeply enjoyed conversing with friends with over a savory meal.

Aren’t these the real moments, the ones that count every day to make up a meaningful life?

Of course, there have been the dark moments,  the times I have suffered, too, such as divorce, illness, pain, deaths, injuries, fears, and the frustrations of everyday life. Sometimes, those were the moments when I could grow the most. After my divorce years ago, I had an opportunity to grow up; I was able to discover what my calling is! I started to begin to know myself. When I have faced my fears, I have learned something else about myself. I also learned I am not alone in my suffering.

Aren’t these, too, the real moments in our lives that count and make up a meaningful life?

Rhododendron flower

Rhododendron flower

These darker moments are like a Rhododendron flower which is multifaceted, and multicolored complexity; difficult and painful moments have expanded me as a human being when I was/am willing to grow. These moments have helped to free me from difficult experiences in the past.

Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.”

   –  Thich Nhat Hanh

Here is the link to a short talk from Mitch Albom, who wrote “Tuesdays with Morrie”  called “Making Each Moment Matter” .   www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gr0COGuAA4U.

You may have to type it in.  For some reason the link is not working. It is worth watching!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Standard

Falling Down and Getting Back Up

Recently, I fell down on a cement sidewalk. How we get back up is crucial. This is true with how we get back up after major life events, too: deaths, health problems, divorces, moves to new towns or cities, losing a job you love, or completing our education.

fallen tree

Fallen tree

Initially when overcoming major set backs, I have sometimes felt depressed for a while, and then grieved the loss of the job, family member, or spouse after a divorce, or something I believed I failed at. However, at the end of the grieving process, it seemed new possibilities arose, but I had to be open to those possibilities. I always have found Maya Angelou’s poem inspiring and helpful.

“Still I Rise” by Maya Angelou

You may write me down in history
With your bitter, twisted lies,
You may tread me in the very dirt
But still, like dust, I’ll rise.

Does my sassiness upset you?
Why are you beset with gloom?
‘Cause I walk like I’ve got oil wells
Pumping in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,
With the certainty of tides,
Just like hopes springing high,
Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?
Bowed head and lowered eyes?
Shoulders falling down like teardrops.
Weakened by my soulful cries.

Does my haughtiness offend you?
Don’t you take it awful hard
‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got gold mines
Diggin’ in my own back yard.

You may shoot me with your words,
You may cut me with your eyes,
You may kill me with your hatefulness,
But still, like air, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?
Does it come as a surprise
That I dance like I’ve got diamonds
At the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise
Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave,
I am the dream and the hope of the slave.
I rise
I rise
I rise.

Thank you, Dr. Maya Angelou.  Although you died on May 28, 2014, still you rise and teach us with the words you shared with us.

tree leaning

Tree leaning

In the process of starting over after a set back, I have grieved sometimes over a period of months. There is no time clock for grief. It seems in the USA often  if you cry too much, there is a belief that something is wrong with you. Often you are considered weak, and if you are a man who grieves, well …we are very hard on men!  I think this is a falsehood. When you grieve you are willing to be vulnerable, to not be in control,  and that takes a lot of courage and honesty with yourself. My tears have given me freedom to get back up and start anew.

pine tree

pine tree standing tall

This ability to rise again after I have had a major life challenge is linked to persistence and my commitment to my own life. Expecting what happens in my live to be easy, has not been my reality, and I speculate that is true for most of us humans. If I persist towards my own dreams and get back up after a set back, I feel good about myself.  Here is a TED talk about persistence and what Angela Duckworth calls Grit.

“Energy and persistence conquer all things.”  – Benjamin Franklin

 

Standard