Turning to Love – 99 Years

Adaline & Eleanor - born October 2, 1913

Adaline & Eleanor – born October 2, 1913

On October 2nd, 1913 twin girls were born the forth and fifth children into a Polish family. Their parents worked side by side operating their three Wines Department Stores in Minneapolis. They demonstrated a strong work ethic and provided well for their large family. In all, there ended up being seven girls and two boys, being raised primarily by nannies. One of the twins, Eleanor, remembered as she was growing up longing for more time with her sweet mom and developing anger towards her dad. She feared the times her dad would discipline her older brother Stan, she tried her hardest to protect him by laying under a bed hiding him behind her.

Eleanor and her siblings attended Catholic school, while she loved learning she hated school and vowed never to send her future children to a Catholic school. She recalls the nuns being unreasonably strict and generous with ruler slaps on the hands. With difficulties at home and at school Eleanor had one place she would turn to for unconditional love. Her grandma spoke only Polish, she was a terrific cook and provided all of the individual attention Eleanor craved. Each of the nine children were given days they would be allowed to spend at their grandma’s. Eleanor discovered early on how valuable this time was to her and used her pennies of chore money to pay her sibling’s for their time with her grandma.

GramInto her teen years Eleanor felt jealous of her sisters naively believing they were more talented, more outgoing and more beautiful than she. Her twin Adaline seemed to get all of the from boys. Despite comparing herself to her sisters, Eleanor wasn’t about to settle for any man to become her husband. She had been turning to love and knew how important it was above anything else. Her brother Stan introduced her to his friend Mitch at a baseball field. He was tall, handsome, one of seven hilarious brothers and exactly the match to be able to give and receive the love Eleanor had been preparing for. They were married on September 2, 1939.

Before their vows Eleanor didn’t know how to cook or clean, she threw herself into being a housewife and tried to hide her lack of skills at first. Eleanor and Mitch loved each other with fairy tale affection and admiration for each other. “I even loved ironing his clothes,” she recalled “Because it was for him.” They were married three years before their daughter was born, then Eleanor stressed for three years when Mitch was drafted into World War II. Finally reunited with his return they had another two children, both boys. Mitch’s job at an insurance agency afforded Eleanor to be able to dedicate herself to motherhood in a way she never got to experience from her own mom. And the practice of turning to love made her an excellent mom. She sewed dresses for her daughter and took her to dance classes. She adored her sons and worried when each of them found love in their early teens.

True Love - Eleanor & Mitch

True Love – Eleanor & Mitch

“They are too young,” she would recall believing. For the years of life she had lived she had come to have beliefs about age and developed fears about what was appropriate. And as her apprehension proved to be wrong, Eleanor turned to love, she embraced the two young women and accepted the error in her perception. Eventually all three of her children had moved out of the home, their daughter and first son married and their youngest son was away at college. Eleanor and Mitch became grandparents, “I hope I could be at least a quarter how wonderful my grandma was to me,” she would say.

Only a few years into being a single couple in love, Mitch died unexpectidly from a heart attack. She turned to the love of family to share in their grief. And in the love she had for him and for her own life she found strength to begin again. Eleanor and her daughter started a business and opened a gift shop called Two’s Company in South Minneapolis. The shop’s patrons returned to the store as much for the warmth in their presence as they would to buy beautiful things. Eleanor exuded love for living through her passion for her family, business, travel and laughter.

Grammy and me, 1982

Grammy and me, 1982


She adored being Grammy and had four grandchildren already before her younger son added another three, including me. Grammy was always thrilled to greet us at the door and require a buzi (Polish for kiss). She shared her affection for flowers and birds, she demonstrated how to engage in conversation with people in a genuine way and she modeled incredible sales skills when we tagged along at the shop. We drank old fashion malted milkshakes, searched through her hard boiled eggs for shells and charged her quarters when we caught her swearing. She loved politics and sports. Proudly cheering on the Minnesota Twins and Vikings, she would anxiously call in from another room to check on the score if the game was too intense to watch.

Grammy was an honest cheerleader. You are so beautiful. You are so talented. You are so smart. Even though I know she said the same thing to everyone, I knew she truly meant it every time the words escaped her.

Eleanor, her 3 children, their spouses and 7 grandchildren - 1993

Eleanor, her 3 children, their spouses and 7 grandchildren – 1993


As I grew into a young adult I became more aware of her amazing life and her gift at finding happiness. She continued to work, travel the world, drive her car, live in her own home and maintain a garden into her 90’s. She attended some of her grandchildren’s weddings and began having great grandchildren. Her love of life and for those around her grew, and in turn she stayed youthful.

When I was in college Grammy asked me, and my friends I brought over, about dating. “You’re so beautiful Holly, I bet you have so many suitors,” she would tell me. My friends chimed in telling her I have been too picky. So when I was finally in a relationship worth telling her about I became nervous. I introduced my boyfriend by photograph and tried to communicate my feelings for him. As my nerves had predicted, she was honest and fearful of me being in an inter-racial relationship. My heart deflated when I heard her response, “I didn’t marry the first man I fell in love with.”

Her approval was important to me and I was disappointed, yet I couldn’t be mad at her. For the 90 years of life she had lived she had come to have beliefs about race and developed fears about what was appropriate. When she met my boyfriend for the first time the initial apprehension she showed by the sight of his picture was gone and she turned to love. Her perception of what was correct had never been challenged this way before and she accepted she didn’t have to fear.

She has inspired me with her acceptance, her unconditional love and her willingness to change. A few years later she shocked me again when she questioned me about gay marriage. “Can you believe they want to get married?” She asked me. We talked about rights and why it is important for people beyond what is acceptable in a church. “I never thought of it like that,” she said. And in that moment she turned a page on almost a century of beliefs for a powerful demonstration of turning to love.

Grammy celebrated her 99th birthday this past year. She continued to live at home, the home she shared with her husband, raised her kids and created memories for generations more. She maintained her memory, her humor and her youthful spirit, though her energy faded. Knowing her time on earth was drawing to an end she had been surrounded by family; children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren all voicing their love for her and appreciation for the wisdom she has provided. She passed this afternoon fully alert to her loved ones surrounding her and to where she was going.

Grammy turned to love for 99 years, she gave unconditionally, she accepted when she was wrong and practiced forgiveness to others who wronged her. I am blessed to have had her in my life and to witness how she lived and loved. I imagine a world with infinite possibilities if everyone were able to turn to love and seek happiness the way she did. And someday, if I am a grandma, I hope to be at least a quarter of how wonderful my Grammy was to me.
me

Thorns From My Husband

Last week I came up with an idea for a post I wanted to write about the irritating statements my husband makes.  It’s incredible how a short concoctions of words can send me into a whirlwind of irrational, over-emotional turmoil.

I cleaned up.

I have a surprise for you.

Are you feeling better yet?

These are just three examples of phrases I hear from him which begin a cycle of madness in my mind, how to react, what to say next, what does this mean, etc…  It sounds insane, right?  Those three statements appear to be so innocent, even thoughtful perhaps.  Well lemme just fill you in on the context with which these endearing words are uttered.

First, speaking of cleaning up is generally stated because it would be entirely impossible to know otherwise any cleaning had taken place.  I’m guessing the majority of women can relate to being the cleaner one of their couple set, with the exception of my friend Crystal.  Crystal and her husband, Buck, are equally anal about their cleaning.  I would give a sliver of an edge to Crystal since she recently had lasik eye surgery and swears she can see the cobwebs on her ceiling I could not find with binoculars.

Unless your relationship is like Crystal and Buck or by some freak chance your partner is a better housekeeper, you can relate.  For example, a few weeks ago my daughter and I went up north and left my husband with the house to himself for three days.  Upon returning home I noticed additional clutter and a distinct odor.  Maybe my facial expression gave away my disgust even though I had already anticipated needing to clean when I got home.  “I cleaned up.”  He said.

And this is where my mind begins stirring – What did he clean?  And if he cleaned how bad did the house get over the weekend?  Do I praise him to encourage this behavior or would this demonstrate complacency with a lack of effort?  “OK, thanks.”  I mutter heading to the broom closet.  Maybe I should just be thankful he didn’t wipe out the Tupperware collection like my dad did when my mom went out of town one weekend in an effort to be helpful.

When my husband tells me he has a surprise, naturally I want to feel excited.  He tends to spring this on me rather often because he enjoys watching me squirm about it.  Instead of excitement in the anticipation, I find myself being bothered with trying to imagine what it could be.  There have been times I imagined some rather fantastic surprises, special dates and lavish gifts to come home to find my favorite juice in the fridge “SURPRISE.”  Now rather than creating a spectacular surprise in my mind I try not to even remember he spoke the word so I cannot be disappointed.  He is rather thoughtful and talented with his ideas, I just wish they came without the preemptive news flash to warn it’s coming.

And finally the questions “Are you feeling better yet.”  This is not a sincere curiosity of if I am under the weather.  This question is directed at me when he thinks I am upset with him for no good reason.  It seems like a stab at my perspective in a disagreement, as if I had no reason to be bitter towards him.  As if the whole disagreement was related to my mood rather then something he contributed to.  “Are you feeling better yet,” can almost always lengthen the duration of my anger about a situation and on the rare occasion I wasn’t upset this statement can just as easily put me there.

So…  Like I said, I intended to post about these phrases and end it there.  Except earlier this week I caught up with an episode of Super Soul Sunday when Oprah interviewed the author Michael Singer.  He wrote The Untethered Soul about finding inner peace and strength.  The following clip is a segment out of the show directly related to the issues I have had with things my husband says.

I haven’t read the book, though, now I know I need to.  There are many thorns I have with people and being irritated by what is said.  Seeing this part of the interview I recognized I have been making the choice to be disturbed.  I understand for the rest of my life I could be having internal conflicts about what to say when he mentions cleaning, no matter how many times I say “Don’t surprise me,” there will likely be another surprise, and the question of feeling better yet will probably not be put to rest either.  So damn Super Soul Sunday – to point out my wasted energy on waiting for others to change around me.  It doesn’t matter who is right or wrong, joking or flat out disrespectful – it’s my own thorn.  Next time I get the sensation of being bothered, my hands sweat, my thoughts turn to irrational questioning, my shoulders tighten and I’m ready to react… I will practice making the choice not to be disturbed.  Growth is hard and no one else can do it for me.

Pawnee For Life

In my last semester of college I was coming down to weeks before graduation still wondering what my next step in life would be.  I enjoyed every ounce of the college experience and probably didn’t give enough thought to looking past that.   Lucky for me, a peer in one of my psychology classes told me where and how to apply for a job at the community mental health center, where she had been working.

Not ready to abandon my college roommates or completely emerse myself into career minded adulthood across the country somewhere, I submitted my resume.  At the time I wasn’t so sure the interview went well, the boss lady seemed bitterly all about business.  I figured either I missed something good about the interview or there were few applicants for the position when they called me back to offer me the job.

When I went in to sign the initial hiring paperwork, I met a hunk who was hired on the same day.  He later became my husband. And the mean boss lady was a bridesmaid and is one of my best friends.  She told me she hired me because she liked my purse…

In the moment working at the community mental health center was the logical next baby step for me after graduation.  Looking back I understand how this job, the team I worked with and the people we served made a deep impact – much grander than a baby step.  The team consisted of dozens of bright and creative minds, all complimenting and balancing each other out.  We worked with children diagnosed with mental illness and their families, I witnessed growth and change for some kids I would have doubted possible.  In the workplace the team seemed to be synchronized like a grandfather clock, finding strengths and supports within each other to do our jobs well.  Of course our grandfather clock would be wildly colored, with constantly evolving pieces being added and removed, provide laughter every hour on the hour and have a tiny toy rat terrier in place of a cuckoo bird.

Working with kids with emotional issues did get a little cuckoo at times, and not only did we have the support we needed in the workplace we all got along outside of work as well.  All the credit goes to the boss lady for hiring some amazing individuals, with whom, I am happy to call my friends.

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While we did have some great times and continue to maintain friendships, things were not all golden and drama free.  The team consisted of many strong-willed individuals who saw situations from opposite perspectives, though, I have never seen a group be more respectful in figuring out how to work towards solutions.  And I know I may be a little extra persuaded by the experience finding my husband there and all, though I think others share the same insight about the incredible group dynamics.

I worked there for three and a half years following my college graduation and left to further my education in this field.  Few of the staff I worked with are still there since many used the opportunity as a step like I did.  Those years were invaluable to me personally and professionally.  I appreciate everyone I worked with and learned from, unfortunately now my dilemma is being unable to replicate the fun workplace I remember, anywhere else I have worked since.

Let’s just say…  If I were granted a corporation to save the world, I know just the people I would recruit to be a part of the team.

Daddy & Daughter Demands

My daughter is becoming fiercely independent.  Don’t get me wrong this is exactly the kind of attribute we want to praise and encourage for her to develop and benefit from throughout her life.  Years from now she will have the strength to stand up for herself and others.  She will be able to advocate for what she needs and she will not take no for an answer…  years from now.

Right now, though, this independence is too much for her to handle.  My daughter wants to be on her stool washing dishes, standing on the toilet to brush her teeth, unlocking the front door after errands, turning on the stereo (and turning the volume waaaay up), reading her own books, cooking, and dressing herself.

I was so pleased when she learned how to pick out a pair of shoes, put them on herself, and cooperate with switching when I told her “wrong foot.”  Even when she is opinionated about choosing the pair which didn’t necessarily coordinate with her outfit, her learning this task made me happy.

Not all of the independent tasks she is trying are coming so easily though, and some of them seem to be incredibly frustrating to her nearly 2-year-old mind.  “No” seemed to be absent from her vocabulary up until the last few months and now it seems too many statements or questions are met with a sharp “NO.”  When she gets stuck in a task she cannot figure out there is tantrum and tears, yelling and refusal of help.  One night over the weekend she fought to put on her own pajamas, whining and squirming with them.  When she got her legs stuck in the arm holes the body flailing began, so mad these pajamas could do her so wrong.

I allow her to have as many opportunities to practice her skills as possible.  I stand outside in the heat for an extra five minutes for her to put the key correctly in the lock, I take the time to show her the correct method to get results, I step in to take over when she has lost control and I spend plenty of time cleaning up her messes.  Let’s face it learning can be dirty sometimes.  I wrestle with thoughts of psychology, child development and reinforcing behaviors, how much is too much and am I raising her right…  Quickly snapping back to reality as duty calls for a second bath for the day when she attempted changing her own diaper in her crib after the nap.

Is this the terrible two’s, has it already arrived four months before she even turns the dreaded age?  This stubborn toddler now demanding her way and don’t help, will be challenging my stress level for how long?  When will she grasp the limitations I put in place for her and stop trying to push it?  (dumb question I realized this after I wrote is since there will be evolving changes all the time.)  The hardest part about meeting her demands is when my husband so honestly pointed out “How will you be able to deal with BOTH of us?”  See he exudes much of the same childlike intolerance for when things don’t go his way, minus the body flailing.

There are far more smiles, hugs and expressions of cooperation then there are the no’s, the tears and the tantrums.  With both my hubby and my toddler I will keep practicing patience, choosing by battles and providing loving support when it’s accepted.

And when my husband voluntarily gets up with my daughter in the morning and serves her chicken, pepperoni and cherries for breakfast.  I’ll just say “Thank you for letting me sleep in” and wake up tomorrow.  Life is perfect right now, I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Reflections Fit For Father’s Day

That’s me and my dad (1982). You will see not much changes, he still wears the same mustache.

I have an older brother and a younger sister, none of us look a thing like my dad.  We are all three reflections of my mom and her side of our family.  My mother is beautiful and looks the same now as she did in pictures from twenty years ago, except better because she is without a helmet perm and enormous eye glasses.  She is incredibly kind spirited and generous to all living things.  She is bursting with creativity and is more motivated to follow-through on tasks quickly than anyone I have ever met – which easily demonstrates why she has been so successful in her own interior design business.  My siblings and I have observed these characteristics in her and have absorbed parts to benefit us each in unique ways.

For better or for worse, feel like I am the only one in my family who has acquired some personality traits from my dad.  So, in honor of my dad on Father’s Day – here goes…

*HUMOR*

I’ve always heard stories about my dad’s dad and his family of brothers, my grandpa passed away before I was born although I feel I know him from these memories shared.  My grandma told me while she was dating him she would eat at his family’s house for dinner and her stomach would ache the next day from laughter.  She talked about how each brother would seem funnier then the next and how his mom would top them all with her punch lines.  I can almost imagine the scene, the sarcasm and the ridiculousness.

The Mady Brothers. My grandpa is the handsome one, third from the left.

At our family dinner table I know when my dad is about to tell a joke before he even opens his mouth.  So I find it exceptionally entertaining when I can make him laugh or encourage him to be gullible in an outlandish tale.  Part of what makes my humor is how people don’t suspect it from the sweet look I got from my mom.  I can make a silly request or develop a whole unbelievably, outrageous story leaving the other person looking dumbfounded before they question my innocence.

About to ride The Tower of Terror 1995. Looking so cool – Dad in his member’s only jacket and me in tapered jeans.

*ADVENTURE*

My mom, brother and sister are perfectly content  staying with their feet firmly planted on the ground, and without risk or fear.  My dad and I are not.  My dad and I rode roller coasters on family vacations while the rest faked illness for a seat on the park bench.  We took scuba diving lessons while the others were beach bound.  He escorted me and my friend’s to haunted houses before we were old enough to drive ourselves. And while my family came to support and watch me skydive, I think my dad was slightly jealous to not be strapped to a parachute too.

Without my dad being at my side through the early adventures, I may not have gone on to pursue my own later – canyoning, paragliding, river rafting etc.  Don’t get me wrong, some of these risks have been terrifying to me.  It’s overcoming the fear for the adventure which makes it exhilarating and worth it every time.

*QUESTIONING*

My dad always wanted us to think for ourselves.  Sounds like a great thing for a parent to want to teach their children, except if you are the child and you just want to know how long before we stop.  And what you get in response is “Well, we are driving at a rate of 68 miles per hour and have another 150 miles to go.”

As a double major in biology and chemistry it was important for him that we didn’t just get answers, rather  we would know how to solve the problems.   This would lead to thinking outside the box and questioning what was already known.  Around middle school or high school age I began to understand from my dad there is a lot more happening in the world then I would get from public education.  I gained confidence to speak my mind, ask direct questions and point out what didn’t make sense to me in school, at the workplace and in general.  It’s not always cool to be the one who is trying question the flow of the popular opinion.  Being cool isn’t important to me though, I would rather not conform back into a box.

I am an extremely lucky individual to have the parents I have, who have supported me so much in life, and who have blessed me with the inherited and learned characteristics which make me who I am.  I love them both, and today – Happy Father’s Day Dad – I appreciate you in so many ways.

Taking it Back to Kindergarten.

Well that’s it, I’ve done it!  I’ve repaired my husband, relieved his fear and helped him to become whole again.  For so long he had been suffering, it must have been horrible to be afraid of the dishwasher.  It can be such a wildly intimidating mechanism… so loud and wet…  It took a lot of patient trial and error so I am hoping to spread the cure for anyone else whose husband may be affected with similar problems.  Dishwashers, washing machines, vacuum cleaners, even Windex can have a similar reaction – men can be terrified of them all.

I first noticed the phobia of the dishwasher growing when I came to realize I was the only one using the dishwasher.  There were even times when I loaded the washer and my poor husband walked up quivering behind me to put the dish in the empty sink. I knew this was getting serious.

At first I was in a panic, I wanted to react strongly, draw attention to it and snap him out of it.  This men would refer to as “nagging”, in truth it’s the term men use to maintain masculinity in the face of fear.  Pointing it out, demonstrating how to safely operate it, and trying to reason about even allocation of household responsibilities all proved unsuccessful.  In turn, this even made him withdraw further.

After this failure I attempted to ignore the fear hoping he would work it out in his own manly way.  What I found was that there is no manly method for improving something if there is no pressure or motivation.  My silence indicated approval and therefore no need to change.  My husband would still be content keeping his safe distance from the dishwasher had I not realized a third method and the cure to this clean kitchen ailment.

I’ve coined this treatment The Kindergarten Teacher…  The name says it all, we resorted to elementary school interactions and it’s guaranteed to be effective.  There were several ways to maintain light pressure and gentle motivation to coax my fearful husband back to his big boy pants.  The first rule of thumb was to keep the kindergarten teacher in mind, just think sweet and nurturing.  It was important to lay on the compliments thick, boost his confidence back up beginning with anything I could find that he was doing right. “Thank you so much for putting the milk back in the fridge,” “Yay, you brushed your teeth twice today,” “I really appreciate you driving, I don’t know how I would get around without you.”  You get the idea, ANYTHING.  The next phase was to utilize the examples around him, I staged my toddler to help me to load and unload the dishwasher when he would be able to see.  He could see our baby had no fear so he could have no fear.

The final step was to make suggestive statements and allow him to interpret his behavior as his own idea.  In kindergarten tone, “Oh my, I am so tired I think I will leave the dishes for tomorrow.”  This I’ve said in a variety of ways with no effect, it takes frequent repetition and creativity.  With his new found confidence and the fear being alleviated by watching how it can safely be done, one day I went to bed with the sweet hum of the dishwasher and I didn’t start it!

Success at last.  My husband loaded the dishwasher twice in 2 weeks now, which is the best record in the last two years.  I am committed to maintaining the kindergarten teacher method in preparation for a possible relapse.  I also set a goal of getting him to try an unload sometime in the next month, please if you see him, this is all top secret information.

Keeping in Touch.

Earlier this week I went out of my way to an appointment to quench my craving for chai tea.  I have never been a fan of coffee, it seems to be one of those drinks that I try a sip every few years to reassure myself that I still don’t care for it.  However, after my first taste of chai tea I was hooked.  Even while I was pregnant and gave up soda with caffeine, I knew my tiny bun in the oven would appreciate and excuse this warm, tasty, slightly caffeinated beverage.   The ode to my little addiction was not really the intent of this post – it was the event at the coffee shop that got me thinking…

I parked at the drive through at Latte Land when the gentleman through the window stopped to ask me my name.  He recognized me from going to middle school together – apparently I have not changed too much from the wire mouthed, frizzy haired kid in 16 years.  While I did remember his name I had no memory of what he looked like back then and no recollection of him looking at all familiar now.  It was almost embarrassing that he remembered me so easily and not be able to return the gesture.  He kindly put me at ease by saying that he is good at remembering faces.

After leaving the drive though it got me thinking about how I wish I had a better memory for faces and if there is a way for me to build this as a strength.  Something less invasive and more practical than taking pictures of everyone I meet and creating flashcards to practice in my free time.  So far, I have come up empty on ways to improve facial recognition.  Maybe it is just a strength I will have to appreciate in other people, like my old classmate at the coffee shop.

However, I also realized I have my own strength in relation to people which may not come as naturally to others.  My strength is keeping in touch.  I hold on tight to people I have grown close with over time where otherwise friendship might have faded and those people would have just been a memory to me.  In these days with social networking, this is an easier task.  With one click a distant cousin, old college roommate, co-worker from your first job or neighbor from a childhood home can become a Facebook friend.  I have been keeping in touch for much longer than Facebook though.

Whether family, friend, co-worker or neighbor – people who I have grown fond of, I keep in touch with.  I make frequent long distance phone calls, send cards or letters and organize get togethers.  I feel like these individuals have made a positive impression on my life and it’s sort of my way of letting them know that no matter how long it’s been between when we have seen each other, I still appreciate them and what they have meant to me.

This week I have been preparing my holiday cards to mail out, and due to my eagerness to keep in touch with so many people my stack of cards is getting pretty high.  My husband tried to quaff at the extraodinary cost of stamps and secretly I know he supports this as he adds in his own friends he wants to make sure to connect with.  As my handwriting is generally only readable by me, I carefully addressed each envelope  and I wondered whether all of these acquaintances would even care to hear from me.  It didn’t take me long to realize it didn’t matter what they think of me.  The gesture of trying to keep in touch is letting people know that I care about them, I care about the relationship that we have or had even if it was several years ago.

So, I apologize if I have met you and don’t remember your face.  I also apologize if you have penetrated to my inner circle of friends and you can’t get rid of me – most are stuck there for life.

The Power of BUT.

A few years back (July 2008 actually) I started working at a facility where I began learning and utilizing DBT with a team.  DBT stands for Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and is very well-known in the world of Borderline Behavioral Disorder and also has been used in treatment for addictions.  I am positive that I will write a lot in regards to DBT because it has strongly influenced me in terms of how I see myself and how I view others.

Long story short…

DBT was the first time I can remember anyone making a big deal out of the word BUT.  BUT is outlawed in the world of DBT and since then it has become a word I have tried to extinguish from my vocabulary as well.  In order to really understand this point you have to be willing to acknowledge there is truth in every statement – even if it only a miniscule piece of a statement that holds validity.  And unlike most of the thinking we naturally assume, there is no black or white, right or wrong, all good or all bad allowed when comprehending the importance of BUT.

So, with that in mind.  The word BUT sort of acts to negate a statement and discount it as truth.  We all have spoken the words or heard them from others in a heated debate  – “yes, but…”

“Yes, BUT…” Really could be the same as saying “what you said is wrong BUT this is right.”  I learned to use the word AND in place of BUT.  For example “You see it one way AND I see it another,”  speaking this way challenges viewing situations or people as all right or all wrong.

The power of the word reaches way beyond it just being said or not said though.  When we make a conscious effort to change what we say it eventually will affect the way we think.  When we can challenge the way we speak and think our attitudes follow as well.  Can you imagine how different our attitudes could be if we weren’t so quick to assume people for being bad, or being wrong?  So you see, there is a lot of power in the word BUT.

Ahh conflict!

Okay, I will admit it I am addicted to Oprah’s new channel.  It seems like every show on OWN is drawing me in and I am glued.

Oprah’s Lifeclass is absolutely amazing to me, I am so appreciative that she is spreading a message to wake up and take control of your mind.  It seems that every episode that I have caught I am immediately able to connect to a personal experience.  One message in particular I struggled with for days.  She spoke about separating yourself from negative people in your life.  This would be people who continually take from you, cause conflict or stir negative emotions.  She suggested to make an effort to disconnect from those people and even stated that you could notify them and let them know why it is necessary for you to do it.

This would be necessary and very appropriate in many scenarios, however I struggled with this in my own situation.  What if there are other variables within the conflict or surrounding the person that you cannot disconnect yourself from?  For example, if you had a horrible boss that you struggled to deal with and it was with an incredibly rewarding job that you love.  In this case it would not be okay to quit the job in order to disconnect with the negativity surrounding the boss, right?

After watching the Lifeclass I sat with a cloud of confusion about how to disconnect from the person until a second OWN show came to the rescue…

Last Sunday I caught pieces of Super Soul Sunday.  Oprah was interviewing the author of Stroke of Insight, Jill Bolte Taylor.  She was a Harvard brain scientist and had a massive stroke.  The book was enlightening and the interview was the key for solving my disconnection dilemma.  Because of where Dr. Taylor’s stroke occurred, part of the recovery process included an absence of thought.  Her left brain chatter, as she put it, was completely quiet.  And the gift of this experience was realizing that she had the power to control her mind, quiet the thoughts and influence her emotions.

What I compiled from viewing these two shows and relating it to my own experience is that I cannot control other people or the conflict that occurs.  I can make sure that it does not consume me when it is not in my presence.  It’s true for me as I am sure it is for a lot of people, we end up dwelling on situations.  We revisit thoughts of what happened, how it happened, what it means and on and on.  I learned that I need to separate myself from negative people and when I cannot remove myself completely I can choose to remove the thought from my mind.  I have been more at peace with the negative situation this week than I have been in a long time, because when I become aware that I am revisiting it in my mind I notice it and the thinking stops.

Like a candle lit in my mind, if I don’t become aware of the thought it turns into a fire of negativity.  Now I am trying to notice a flame and blow it out early.

Appreciation for my husband.

A Fall Day

A quiet moment in the leaves, a daddy in love with his daughter!

It seems there are so many times that my husband will go on and on verbalizing, what sounds like thinking out loud regarding plans for what to do month to month, week to week.  Often times I will catch bits of what he is saying and end up tuning a lot out.  Or I have my own train of thoughts going on in my head that overshadow and drown out what he is communicating.

At one point this past weekend while my husband had initiated one of these ramblings of immediate plans, I became aware of my own thoughts and made a determination to focus on his words.  The conversation was like many we have had before, it was not urgent or pressing.  My engagement in the conversation was unique as I tried to quench thinking, problem solving or judging that comes natural.  As to not simplify this process, I want to be clear that I had to continue refocusing and stopping my own intrusion of thoughts.  However, what I discovered was rewarding.

I know my husband wants to be a good person, wants to be a good dad, a good husband, yadda yadda yadda…  However, following this moment of really trying to listen to my husband, my awareness of how strongly this motivates him was raised.  My appreciation of him as a person, the father of my daughter and as the man I am choosing to spend the rest of my life with was put into a clearer perspective.  Listening this way helped me to set aside knowing that I love him and really reinforced one of the reasons why I love him.  It also allowed me an opportunity to validate his position as a leader striving to provide a happy life for his family.

If there is one thing that I know about marriage whether it’s from 3 years of personal experience or from every other married person’s advice…  Marriage is work.  It takes a daily effort to show and receive affection, to share and to listen.  I thought I was working daily on my marriage, it’s now that I am aware I was not really doing the listening part well.  Dropping my own thoughts and taking in what someone else is saying is hard work, and it is worth the effort.  Really hearing my husband’s words no matter how big or small the issue will help maintain on our relationship.