“If tomorrow never comes”

In the dulcet tones of Ronan Keating.

Have you had a good long look at the concept of “what if tomorrow never comes” – will those that are nearest and dearest to you know “how much you love them”? With the latest onslaught of in-law issues – my FIL’s pneumonia and my MIL’s now officially diagnosed Alzheimer’s (big surprise – not!) there was a delegation at their house on Saturday night. My SIL has come haring out from New Zealand, my BIL was down from White River and us of course (being only 5 minutes up the road). Our phone has been going non-stop with the other two overseas siblings – questions, answers, “advice”, and instruction … ad nauseum!

They are normally not a close family (no humungous reason that I’m aware of) and the most poignant part of Saturday night was this sudden outpouring of care and concern because of the current situation. In a way, if blame were being apportioned, my in-laws would have to shoulder a large chunk thereof. As parents, the most uncaring and unconcerned people I’ve come across in a long time – you know the kind where “I’m the parent, you’re the child so you owe me”. It has, as expected, bitten them hard with most visits (from all the children) being a duty thing and not a genuine desire. You could argue and say that any concern is good concern whatever the spark is. I would argue that and say envisage a scenario where there was no long term illness and they both passed without warning (for example a car accident) – would DH’s siblings have been overwhelmed with the what if scenario and I could’ve, should’ve, would’ve? Guilt, in my opinion, is the most destructive of emotions – if you’re distant that’s ok if you’ve made your peace with it but if you’re distant because you can’t be bothered then you’ve taken the lid of Pandora’s box and be prepared to deal with the consequences.

The point of this rambling is this – tell your spouse, tell your children, tell your family, tell your friends (if it’s the way you feel) that you love them / care for them / wish them only well. Tell them today – it may feel a little weird, they’re may think you’re a little off but let their most recent memory of you be positive. If you’re having a fight and you don’t want any more verbal exchange, tell them electronically! DH and I are very close with my parents who are both in their late 70’s/early 80’s and chatting to a friend of mine the other day about loss and that sort of thing she remarked on how devastating it would be for me when my parents pass away. She was, I think, somewhat taken aback when my answer was contradictory. Obviously I’ll be sad but I’m so very grateful to have had a steadfast, reliable, nurturing relationship with people who tell me they love me every time we communicate.

“If you were going to die soon and had only one phone call you could make, who would you call and what would you say?  And why are you waiting? ” ~Stephen Levine

PS. A quick confession – trolling through my blog looking for something else I came across a very similar post that I wrote in April last year – identical title, different circumstances and slightly different content :O Deja vu of epic proportions – so apologies to anyone who may have thought – hey, she’s already done that!

Is your glass half full or half empty?

I’m routinely a half full exponent (which does conjure up all manner of alcohol related anecdotes none of which have any relevance here so moving swiftly on!) However there are days where the finely-crafted crystal goblet of life seems to have a permanent leak!

Let me expand on my theory:-

Scenario 1 – the drive to work

Your burst onto the motorway, full of vim and vigour, raring to get to the office (or not, completely the opposite – whatever, you’re on the road!) One sandal clad foot teeters towards the accelerator and is firmly brought under control by the following manifestation in your line of sight. Left lane – two middle-aged women, yapping (involved hands) and obviously with all day to arrive at the gym/tennis club/coffee shop and hence an average speed of 2. Right lane – articulated truck trying to overtake, driver on mobile phone to boot. Would like to do 120, 2000 tons vehicle, logistically not possible – he doesn’t care, average speed 2.

Scenario 2 – the work day

Twelve seconds ago they all worked – computer, printer, land line phone, mobile. Now any combination thereof has decided to strike, no warning, no negotiation – a simple case of I’m going to down tools and bugger you if you need me to complete a critical task. I don’t give a jot, so there!

Scenario 3 – the grocery store

Most womens least favourite venue for retail therapy but you have to eat and therefore our daily wonder through the aisles (what, you buy in advance for the week!) I shop at odd hours because of my work schedule which usually means empty aisles but every so now and again you come gambolling around the corner to find ……….

Two trolleys horizontally placed to create an impenetrable barrier. Critically important to note that these have not been abandoned and thus cannot be summarily shoved asunder – they are owned and have drivers in situ! I have the utmost empathy for the need to chat, I’m a girl – I get it. I could also go down two aisles and across three to get what i want which is just behind you but I may not want to. After negotiating the aisle accident and thinly veiled barbed stares you arrive at the till. That “special” buy two get one free ………. the techno fairy hasn’t tweaked the computer!

Aftermath – so much heavy breathing and counting to ten, shares in a paper bag factory would have quadrupled.

“Both optimists and pessimists contribute to our society.  The optimist invents the airplane and the pessimist the parachute.”  ~Gil Stern

My “best” thinking …………

is done in the shower. For yours truly no zen retreat or mountain hideaway, the humble shower is the wellspring of tumultuous inspiration. The only problem with this liquid enviroment is that there is never any functional writing material at hand to preserve these fleeting nuances.

That said, one thought that did linger long enough to be grasped between thumb and forefinger is that of the concept “how important is it to be friends with your husband?”

Perhaps its an age thing or even more mundanely the time of year but I find myself in flux, in a constant state of review and observation. As always my frame of reference is my own marriage and my opinions are in no way intended to be judgemental. DH and I are so very alike and yet in the ultimate cliche’ so very different. There are days when I’d like to figuratively crown him, days when he vexes me so much that I question my mental capacity when we tied the knot (Rita Rudner always makes me chuckle …….. “I love being married – its so great to find that one special person you want to annoy for the rest of your life”)  and I’m sure the same applies to him. Yet despite the run of the mill ups and downs we have a genuine affinity for each other.

I firmly believe that the importance of being friends in a marriage cannot be over emphasised and would perhaps even go as far as saying it should be the number one priority. When the sweet and frothy has turned wishy washy and the horizontal mambo has turned into a soft shoe shuffle, what’s the next step if you dont like each other. To clarify, a million miles from the “soul mate” horse twaddle which goes hand in hand with the pink and pretty.

I’m aiming for plain and simple:- 

Do you want to spend time together and do you like to spend time together?

7 Life Lessons

  1. My mantra is *be upfront, honest and true to yourself* – there are, sadly, circumstances which hinder the process. For financial and employment reasons, there are occasions where one has to zip it and shut it.
  2. Pick a queue in the supermarket and stick to it! The “10 items only “will get a trolley with discount coupons.
  3. If an item says “dry clean” only, believe it. This came courtesy of, I think, of a Fair Lady magazine advert some years ago and has saved me numerous washing woes.
  4. Trust your instincts, if it doesn’t feel right it probably isn’t.
  5. Relationships require work – anybody who tells you any different is either single or divorced.
  6. “I’ll never do it again – give me a second chance” – he will, run! This lesson thankfully not through personal experience but as a witness to other devastating relationships, both physically and mentally.
  7. Be the number one priority in your life, take care of your soul and you will be a better spouse and parent.

Ordinary versus Aberrant

What separates us from the psychopaths, sociopaths and other human deviations?

What make us “normal” and some other individual an object of fear?

Is it, very simply, the ability to control your emotions in times of stress and turmoil? When your base instinct is to inflict harm but instead you walk away … is that the dividing line?

For example, yesterday a moment of intense and unadulterated rage. So intense, so encompassing and a s aresult of a person whome one is supposed to respect behaving like an uncouth, inconsiderate barbarian  – think Atilla on steroids! My immediate thought (honestly- straw that broke the camels back scenario) was over the balcony much like Lady Macbeth and her ever present spot.

Instead my “normalness” won the day and I retired to my office to contemplate my fate over a cup of tea and Van Halen on the ipod.

Can it be that simple – the dichotomy between functional and dysfunctional?

Tolerance – Tenuous at best

There are a great many hypotheses related to ageing – the good, the bad and the ugly.

Tolerance is perhaps one emotion that intrigues me the most. Ostensibly one should become more tolerant with age – more accepting of everyone and everything. Yessss but no! I find my self perhaps less tolerant but in a positive way (stay with me here). Awareness of what and who I’m prepared to have in my life now supercedes any misdirected desire to fit in and follow the rest of the herd, irrespective of the outcome.

I have been called unyielding, hard-arsed and even un-cooperative – nomenclatures I take on board without hesitation.

To know yourself, to know your boundaries, to walk your path within reason – all good!

 

This is the view from my office window this morning – soggy start!

The secret to a happy marriage – Observations from the Wildside

Respect – plain and simple.

Respect for your partner’s needs, both mentally and physically. Not necessarily blind acceptance or even concurrence but respect.

The grass roots belief that another human being has the right to an opinion (even if diagonally opposite from yours), the right to feel and think and express their thoughts and that they have equal validity as yours.

This even keel outlook also provides one with the tools to realise that when this fundamental and integral ingredient is missing – change is paramount.

I harbour no illusions of being the consumate wife or having an idyllic marriage but we have been together for more than two decades and it is the exponential proliferation of “bad” marriages of late that has prompted me to ascend my soap box – yet again!

The comfort of silence

There is a unique comfort in silence – whether flying solo or in group. To be able to hear the thoughts in your own head, to feel the power of your soul, to drown in the rhythm of your heart beat is exhilarating.

Yet there is with some a palpable fear of being with yourself – what destruction is in your psyche that doesn’t bear examining?

Reflection and introspection – a panacea for all pain.

The antithesis of course does exist – the silence filled with rage, unspoken words of anger, the air liberally saturated with barbed inunedos. A dark place, Pandora’s box – a wellspring of misery best left untouched.

 

Friends versus Family – a tug of war?

There is an old adage (origins unknown and perhaps slightly bastardised) ” Your friends you can choose but your family you’re stuck with”.

After a particularly torturous day DH and I adjourned to the garden for some quiet time under a star bedecked velvet sky. An unseasonably hot summery day relieved by a soft breeze we partnered the fireflies in mild mumblings and musings.

A circular path ended in a discussion about friends and family. What determines your level of committment to any relationship? Is a blood connection more important or more binding than one based on common interest? Perhaps more importantly does the parental/filial link create some sort of misplaced feeling of obligation to accept disruption that, if forthcoming from a “friend”, would cause one to terminate forthwith any future interaction?

After a lively debate, liberally fuelled by a cornucopia of tastes from my raid of our local deli who always seem to have something for dinner when i manifest signs of complete dullness, we (or perhaps I – methinks DH caved in to keep the peace) concluded that we (I) bother with people who bother with us. Relationships, irrespective of the connection, are a two way street. The cliche’d give and take is the yardstick – committment and hard work are the building blocks. One cannot be a fair-weather participant in life. Respect and love are not a right determined by any hierarchical structure – they need to be earned.

I did have an eloquent and erudite conclusion to the soapbox tirade but it took a different path while I was trying to find the source of my opening comment. I did however come across this damp-eyes quote ………”Oh, the comfort – the inexpressible comfort of feeling safe with a person – having neither to weigh thoughts nor measure words, but pouring them all right out, just as they are, chaff and grain together; certain that a faithful hand will take and sift them, keep what is worth keeping, and then with the breath of kindness blow the rest away.”  ~Dinah Craik, A Life for a Life, 1859

The quest for equality

Not a political rallying cry, not a question of colour or religion – it’s all about sex.

Why does your physical make-up still have such a huge impact on your existence? From Florence Nightingale to Emmeline Pankhurst – From Marie Curie to Germaine Greer – each of these unique women and so many others like them have opened doors for our generation, raised that ubiquitous glass ceiling and obliterated the gender-based barriers of old. Yet despite this “progress” the slightly sour taste of an old boys club is still redolent in the modern age.

Physical strength comparisons are a moot point – there are simply and without discussion certain activities where a man’s brute strength is greater than that of a woman’s – it is as it is!

What I’m referring to is that faintly condescending manner, surprised and patronising revolving around things business related, mechanical, sporting and financial. I’m just blown away that because you’re a girl apparently makes you somehow slightly less important, less worthy and less capable than a boy.

Postscript: This is not meant as an anti-men diatribe in the slightest – however, these are two examples (Honor Killings and Womens Rights) of why the road to equality is still a long, bumpy and steep climb.