Decisions

Decisions are made every day by each one of us.  Big decisions, little ones, trivial ones and major ones, each with their own pros and cons.  Choices we decide today may not seem to  have any immediate repercussion, but there is always something. Always.

I don’t always have an easy time with decisions.  It can be scary to make some decisions, and I tend to stress over many of mine. Lately I have had to make some very big decisions. The latest one was whether to retire or not. What a life changing choice that was!  At one time retirement was an event far off in the distance, something to work toward, but elusive.  Many what if’s and unknowns.  It took many nights of talking and planning. contingencies and lists.  Now that I am retired, though it’s still new, I think it was the right choice, the right time.

Several years ago, my husband came to me and said we should buy an RV and drive across the country to his family’s  home in Michigan.  With an autistic son, traveling can be a challenge, so the theory was, an Rv could be a better way to travel. For 5 years we used that Rv for all of our trips. We had some great adventures and I can honestly say, my husband was right- it’s the best way to travel.

So now we are looking to purchase another RV. A big one, an expensive one, and the decisions are difficult and stressful.  New, used, gas, diesel how long. All things to consider, but the biggest decision is, are we ready to make such a large investment?   The investment isn’t only money, although that is huge, it’s an investment of time and commitment, family.

When we planned for retirement, buying a new Rv was one of the pieces of our plan.  Like making that step into retirement, buying a new Rv is not something one just jumps into.  With this new purchase, we make a statement about how we want our life to be.  We want to travel, see the country, have adventures, explore what is out there.  It’s exciting and intimidating and downright scary, but I think we are ready.

It’s funny how we make some of the decisions in our lives.    Do we flip a coin, write a list of pro’s and con’s, take a poll among our friends and family?  Some decisions are even made for us, by others. Whatever the manner, we all are faced with choices every day, and hope that in the end we choose correctly.

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Kitchen Kisses

I have noticed lately that much of society has a “throw it out” mentality.  People tend to want the latest, greatest, fancy thing around.  We aren’t often content to appreciate what we have, or fix it if it’s damaged, we toss it and replace it.  It’s rather sad to me, and quite wasteful.  This isn’t exclusive of items, it happens with people as well.

Way back when, in what some may call “the old days”, I don’t think we were such a disposable society. Take marriage for instance. Lately, it seems that people rush into marriage, then, for what seems to be the slightest reason, they get a divorce.  whatever happened to “for better or worse”?  I know, I know, there are reasons why divorce is probably for the best, it just seems a bit too easy these days. I don’t claim to know what goes on in their household, but how do you go from professing your undying love one day, and within a year or two, you are divorced? Maybe they didn’t think through all that is involved in a marriage before they jumped in.  You know, it’s so much more than that fancy wedding and ultimate honeymoon trip.

When I was a teenager, I happened to walk into the kitchen and my dad was giving my mom a kiss and hug.  As any teen might, I made some wisecrack about them smooching in the kitchen.  My father then said ” if you are fortunate enough to find someone, someday, who loves you half as much as I love your mother, you will be very blessed”  With that he gave her another kiss and went on about his day.

Over the years, I have watched my parents do those small niceties toward each other, that keep them happily married.  Little notes taped to the kitchen cabinet,or a true appreciation for even the simplest meal.  I know that my parents have  had challenges over the years, but I also know they didn’t think anything other than working it out was the answer.

After 60 years, they still get caught smooching in the kitchen.

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I have found someone, and I know he loves me.  Is it 1/2 as much and my father loves my mother? I hope so. What I also know is that after nearly 21 years, with all the good and bad, we have worked through it.  And now and then I get a smooch in the kitchen to prove it.

Retirement

Being young, and at the beginning of a working career, RETIREMENT was always that mythical accomplishment you strived for; someday.  Someday, I will RETIRE. When I have everything paid for, I will RETIRE.  Someday, when I am older I can RETIRE.  SOMEDAY.

It’s fun to think of the what if’s, and, if I only had….    You know, what if I win the lottery? If I only had no bills.   If I won the lottery, I wouldn’t have any bills!  I could  just RETIRE! How awesome would that be?   I never play the lottery, so that eliminates, that option.  I guess I just have to pay bills the old-fashioned way;  work.

I showed up at work every day.  I worked the odd hours, the over time, the times when I really didn’t feel good but went anyway; much to my husbands  dismay.  Don’t get me wrong, I did have my days of calling in sick, but I was never one to call in very often.  It just wasn’t how I was taught.   We had bills to pay and responsibilities to take care of, so I went.  Our hard work paid off, little by little those bills disappeared.

Pretty soon RETIREMENT seemed possible, like grabbing that big brass ring on the carousel ride. At first that ring is out of reach completely. After a while, with each circle around, you get closer and closer. Finally, the ride circles around, the horse is sliding up, you reach and grab that big brass ring.  Success! RETIREMENT.

I find myself now, smack in the middle of SOMEDAY. Wow, it’s not mythical, it does exist. Dec 30 2013 I RETIRED.  It’s funny to say.  RETIRED.  The word conjures up so many images, many I ‘m not sure I relate to.  It still doesn’t seem quite real, to be RETIRED.

It has been a couple of weeks since I have signed the papers, and turned in my work items.  No longer do I have the laptop, the tool belt, the key ring with its multitude of keys, my I.D. badge.  I also don’t have work orders to do, equipment to build, and every moment of my day to account for.

My husband is worried that I will be bored.  Well, I  may be, at times, but there are closets to clean and  projects to do.  We are also in the process of finding just the right RV to purchase to add to our RETIREMENT portfolio.  We love to travel, and have many plans for some amazing trips to come.  One, in particular, is to Alaska.

I  wrote previously about starting to work, and thinking that 5 years was a long time.  Looking back, 35 1/2 years  seems like yesterday.  At some point I may end up being that RETIRED person, sitting on the porch rocker, sipping coffee and knitting.  I think for now I will just enjoy being the wife, and mom, traveler and writer.

Role Reversal

I grew up in a traditional, albeit large, family.  I am the middle child, with 3 older brothers and an older sister, and 3 younger sisters and a younger brother.  My father was a Highway Patrol officer and my mother was the “stay at home mom”.  I won’t say she didn’t work because that would be a total lie.  Looking back, I see how the roles of my family followed those traditional descriptions.  Man works, woman stays home.  While that was  more the norm, than not, back then, life evolves and roles change.  Today you may find, in many homes, much the opposite.

After graduating from High School, I got a job.  Like many 18 year olds, I was excited to move out and begin my life as an adult.  Besides, I could use some extra space. As much as I love my family, it was a bit crowded.   So began my venture into the grand unknown of adulthood.

Being on my own, though I did have roommates from time to time, I learned that I needed to take care of myself. When the hose  on my car broke, I learned how to fix it. When the sink got stopped up or the lawn needed to be cut, traditionally a “man’s job”  I did it.   I was fully capable  and willing to take care of it, so I did.   When you are young and don’t have a lot of money, you get creative.  I recall some people being surprised at my willingness to tackle some of the things I did.  As though, somehow I was betraying my role.

Eventually, I met and married my husband; a man who grew up in a traditional, though small, 1  sister,  family.  My husbands father went to work, and his mother stayed home. That was the way things were done.  That being said, my husband was not averse to being in the kitchen.  In fact, at one point he had his own catering business.

After we got married, and settled into our daily life at home, it became quite clear our home would be a little non traditional.  I shall admit that I am not a great cook, and because my dear husband is, he does all the cooking. I am allowed to make one or two things, but for the most part, he does the cooking. This means that he does the grocery shopping as well. Clearly non traditional.

One saturday, our dog happened to find a loose board in the fence and let himself out of the yard.  After finding him and bringing him home, there was the matter of fixing the fence. We had 2 dogs, one his before we got married and one mine. The one that got out was mine, so it figures I would fix the board.  I went into the garage and found the hammer and nails and went in the back to nail up the board.   I remember walking into the house afterward, work gloves on, hammer in my hand, seeing my  husband in the kitchen, dish towel hooked on his pocket to wipe his hands, mixing bowl on the counter.  I asked ” what’s wrong with this picture?”  He looked at me and shrugged.  Nothing wrong at all.

I’m proud of our non traditional roles in our house.  With 2 sons now, I think they see that it’s not the gender that dictates what you contribute to the house.     Whether it is fixing a fence, cooking a meal, being the stay at home parent, or the one that works outside the home, WORK  comes in different forms.  Each person has their strength and together you find your balance.

Perspective

I listen every day as my youngest son chatters on, and on, and on.  From the moment he wakes up, until the moment he falls asleep, he talks.  There was a time, until he was about 4 1/2, that he didn’t talk at all. To listen to him now, many would not understand him.  He tends to talk in movie, or you tube video clip sentences. Not exclusively, but quite a lot.  Being Autistic,  for him, this is one of his “things”  Those first years were  a struggle for all of us.  I so wanted him to talk, to be able to interact and share his thoughts and wants, and view on life.  I found, though, that words aren’t the only way to communicate.

We try so hard to have people think, or communicate with us the same  way we do, that when they don’t, we feel they are the ones doing it wrong.   Rather than expending all that energy to have them change, first we need to understand how they might view things, and tailor our communications in that direction.

I had a revelation about that when my son was about 4 years old or so.  One day he had my little point and shoot digital camera.   As he was playing, he liked to take pictures of things, mainly his trains.  At the end of the day, I happened to look through the pictures he had taken, and started to delete them to free some room on the camera.   At 4 years old, you don’t expect to see great photographs, and they weren’t great, but it suddenly became clear how he views his world.

I began to see what he saw, how he viewed things, what he thought.  A simple event of letting him play with a digital camera, gave me insight to my son that I might never have had.

At one point he turned the camera to himself and took a picture.

This  is what I saw.

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There is a park nearby that borders the train tracks. My son loves the trains so yesterday we went there to watch as the train went through.  As I often do, I took some pictures of him. DSC_0681

After the train passed by and we talked about how fast and loud it was, he decided he wanted to take some pictures. I gave him the camera and he took a picture of the tracks.

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He paused and looked at the picture he just took, and decided he wanted to turn around and take a picture  of the tracks going the other direction.

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What struck me as he did this last picture, was he crouched down to get a different perspective.  His view, how  he sees his world, what is important to him.

I don’t know that he could explain why he crouched  down, or even realized that he did it; but it made me stop and realize, again, how he looks at the world.  It may be different from you or I, but it’s clearly not wrong, just different.

Observations

I was filling out some forms the other day, and I had to chuckle at the various boxes one has to check for different things.  Think about it, we are categorized in various boxes, dependant on different criteria.  What’s equally amusing to me is when you have to check the next level box.

There are boxes to check for all kinds of things. Mr., Mrs., MS.   Male, Female.  Those are easy and, of course, obvious.   I usually pause to answer when it comes to the race box.  Is that really necessary information to have?    Don’t get me wrong, I know these questions are asked for a reason, however, In a society where we claim to want understanding and inclusion of all people, this constant labeling and boxing people up sure seems to separate us more than include us.

Filling out a survey, one of the questions was regarding age.  Normally I don’t mind, except when you have to check the next box. You know 20-29 30-39 40-49. Always a reflective pause when you have to move up a box.  That 50-59 box was a tough one to check.

It usually doesn’t take long before certain mail starts to show up after  those boxes have been checked.  Most seems to be junk mail.  After checking that 50-59  age box, it was only a matter of time before my mailbox had some interesting offerings.  First came the AARP information.  I get it- I am old, and I suppose that confirmed it.  Really though, two days later I received a letter from a local funeral home. I went from old to dead in a blink of an eye- or rather, a check of a box!

Honestly, it doesn’t bother me too much; I know it’s really only a marketing issue.  I don’t feel old, and try to make the most of each day.   It would be nice, however, if they didn’t have to remind me.