Musings from a dreamer, who fell in love with the Pacific Northwest 18 years ago and in 2011 made it her home. I'm raising a Pinkalicious 7-year-old and a 11-year-old with a big heart - and epilepsy. Ditching perfection, celebrating life, finding joy in the journey and reminding myself daily to Let.It.Be.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Family reunions, camping and other painful summer activities

Summer is at an end, and the last couple of weeks of its hot, sweaty, humidity-drenched life was marked by two events that were at once painful and wonderful. My husband's Italian family celebrated 100 years of life in America in the small, former coal-mining town of Bevier, population 50?! on a good day and about 500 during its annual homecoming.

The accompanying photos provides a good idea of the kind of entertainment found at said event, excluding the carnival, which is at best painful to describe. But with a good sense of humor, the parade is quite enjoyable!
The other event I'm supposed to enjoy by virtue of being a Midwesterner is camping. Why on Earth would otherwise sane people give up their home and bed to sleep on the ground or in a camper to be eaten by all manner of flying bugs? Camping is great, I tell friends who ask. Except for when it's time to eat, sleep, shower or poop. But alas, the time spent sitting around the campfire drinking and swapping stories with friends is, well, swell.

Of course, I survived both with minimal complaining -- until now! Somehow, I have trouble finding a sympathetic audience. My fellow citizens love it here, and as I've said I've found a lot of things to love as well. (Just not camping or carnivals.) But let's not take ourselves too seriously -- poking a little fun keeps life in perspective. It helps us remember why we're here and why we do anything worth doing -- love.

The loves of my life. Aidan and Ava, who has a bit of a princess complex as expressed by her dramatic, Sleeping Beautyesque kisses.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Right back where I started ... sort of

I often wonder how my view of this small town, my home town, where I returned in 2003, has changed for myself or is different than the views of friends who left long ago. I used to only see the the poverty all around me. It's still there, and I still see it. But, I'm going to sound Pollyanna here, I now see more.

Don't get me wrong: Moving home felt like failing. Felt like the universe pulling me into a fate it had in mind for me all along and that I might even have known subconsciously but thought I would escape. I felt swindled. Cheated. Disappointed. And all I saw were broken places and people all around me.

Ah, the education I have received since then. I came home in a flury of importance and dreams, for myself, my husband and my new baby. I was used to city living, drove a new car, worked at a corporate office and just bought and sold our first house within the last year. I remember standing in our new driveway thinking, "This is success."

My home town hasn't changed perhaps as much as I have. And the "me" since high school is strong enough to take just about anything - even moving home - that life throws at me. After a few years of serious soul searching, first brought on by moving home and later by my son's diagnosis of epilepsy, I think I'm here because I'm supposed to be here. At least for now. And I'd like to think I haven't come to these conclusions out of mental necessity, but rather because I've learned a little about life and myself in the process.

I used to live to work. I now work to live. I used to define myself by my profession. I now try not to put myself in a box of definition and strive instead to do the best in all my roles - wife, mother and yes, employee. Such colloquial wisdom - do your best - is more powerful than I thought.

I've been wandering over to the previously shunned self-help section of the bookstore these last few years, trying to find answers, solace, something/anything, and one of the best books I've read is The Four Agreements, found here on Amazon. It suggests we all make four agreements with ourselves:

1. Be impeccable with your word
2. Don't take anything personally
3. Don't make assumptions
4. Do your best

I'll explore the whole do-your-best theme in a follow-up post, but it goes along with another theme I've adopted - the it-is-what-it-is concept - which also goes a little deeper for those with an open mind and heart willing to explore what it means to be truly present in our life.

So, this is where I'm at today, August 11, 2010. And it's miles from where I started. 7 years ago and 38 years ago. Where I've been or where I'm going isn't today. And today, I'm just going to do my best.

So, if my first post is a little reflective, my next probably will follow suit. However, I promise to get into all that other, more fun stuff you find in a small town - 4x4s, hunting/killing, diners, mullets and so much more in future posts. Join me for the journey ...