A Brand New Driver

September 21, 2018 at 2:50 am (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, Life beyond parenting, life lessons, Memoir, Middle age, positive thinking, Single Parent, Uncategorized) (, , , )

I am sitting here at my computer wishing I had renewed my driver’s license sooner. I was involved in an altercation last week and twisted my ankle. It will fun standing outside in the chilly morning tomorrow waiting to get in to renew my precious photo taken last time. Our small town has grown in population the past few years. You are not in and out like times were. It takes three times as long-standing in lines waiting your turn.

As I sit here typing, a fond memory is taking hold. I remember when I and a good girlfriend were juniors in high school. My friend had to get her driver’s license. No one would consider taking her,not her mom, her mom’s boyfriend, her sister or her friends who already were driving. I thought this was terrible. After all, we all had to face the dreaded driving instructor why deprive my dear friend of her turn. After all she was so excited , just needed a ride.

The big day had arrived. I was busy feeding the animals, getting dressed, called my friend to see how much longer for her  to be ready. Her mom said in the background” she has been up since five tried on every outfit she owns and has done her hair three times for the picture. She is ready to go”. So on my way I went to pick her up. It was fun for me because she didn’t know I was letting her use my car to take her driving test in. She just thought she was taking the written test and then her driving part later.

Since it was her birthday, we went to Bob’s Big Boy to celebrate. We had the hamburger combination with a strawberry milkshake. We were full, happy, laughing and ready to head over to Thousand Oaks. I sat in the lobby waiting for her to finish her written test. She came over to me and let me know she passed.”Of course you did silly” I told her. We were starting to walk out the front door when I asked her”don’t you have another part of the test to complete today?” She almost cried when realized I was letting her drive my car to take her test in. She passed that day and what a wonderful memory of a friend I miss still today. She has passed away several years ago, but I remember her giggle, her “Hi” on the phone, and her zest for life itself.

I am thankful for all the memories I have from loved ones, friends, my son and my life as an empty nester. I never thought my golden years I would be writing stories about my husband and son. I am thankful for all the good time I have shared with my family and  all the hardships I have had to endure. No matter what life throws at you, it is still a great life and wonderful t be alive.

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Life Beyond Parenting

September 14, 2018 at 12:10 am (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, Life beyond parenting, life lessons, Memoir, Middle age, Single Parent, Uncategorized) (, , , )

If someone were to tell me eleven years ago my life would be forever changed, I wouldn’t have believed them. My son was a vibrant twenty year old with a good job, friends, a solid church family. I guess we, as parents don’t think past our kids maybe one day moving out on their own, getting married, going off to college. Some of these life stages can be tough.

Your child has enlisted in the Military, you are frightened for their safe return home, your tween daughter decided to get married(elopes). You son announces he would like to live with you forever….. Life beyond parenting is an interesting term for me. I said goodbye to my world one day when he was involved in a tragic car accident. Life could not prepare me for the depth of grief I felt the day his life support machine was turned off. Many parents suffer the child they love and raised decides she doesn’t like living at home with the rules anymore and becomes a runaway, parents dealing with addicted children or the parents who visit the child in jail.

We think these hard days are never going to end. For some, the pain never will end, for many others, the pain eases as time goes on and they learn how to rebuild their lives again. Every family story is a success story, no matter the outcome, the parent was there for the child, watched the kids games, took them to practice, supported their concerns. It is true, kids did not come with an instruction manual, with Levi, I would have thrown the manual out anyway. I wanted the joy that comes with the challenges, I raised Levi from childhood through his teens no easy feat. I am proud of the fine young man he had become.

A few years ago there was a popular book out called” Motherhood ain’t For Wimps”. It is true, parenting is tough business. I would have loved to have more than one son, but as I have been told over the years”Levi gave you a run for your money, but you gave it back.”A strong faith really is essential for your(the parent) sanity. Over night, I became mom, dad and sole provider of my family of two now. Looking back now, I would not trade one single hardship or difficulty I have been through. Levi was the best gift God could have ever given to me and I am thankful I had the opportunity to be a wife and mother even if for a little while. 

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Summer Memories

June 30, 2018 at 10:57 pm (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, life lessons, Memoir, Middle age, positive thinking, Uncategorized) (, , , )

Everyone has a special Summer Bucket List of activities they would love to try just once. Some want to brave the giant roller coaster at the local theme park, some want to find the best huckleberry patch, other just want to enjoy family and friends. Whatever you place on your Summer Bucket List, making memories last a life time.

One of my favorite summer memories taking my son to Seattle for the weekend. We met with my friends who were in a Band. My son and I were invited to a concert for the Village People several years ago. When I arrived at my friends hotel, my son was mad because he thought ( the biker character) and I were going to a private lunch together and he and my ride were going to MC Donald’s for their lunch. Glenn  took us all out to lunch, then were walked around the area until it was time for him to get back to his hotel for rehearsals for his concert. My girlfriend and I had front row seats and a back stage pass to see the guys after the show. What a memorable weekend it was indeed.

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Catching Up With Friends

June 15, 2018 at 12:11 am (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, grief, life lessons, Memoir, Middle age, positive thinking, Uncategorized) (, , , )

I ran into an old friend at the grocery store yesterday while doing my moms weekly shopping. We chatted for a while, caught each other up on our families, summer activities, and still talk about how we both met. She was an Avon Representative at the time. I had just lost my husband and was just basically going through the motions on dad to-day living. One day, a nice Avon lady came to my front door. I had on no make-up, not dressed yet ready for my day, I did offer her a cup of coffee. My new friend helped me find colors to compliment my skin tone. One week later when she delivered my package, she was amazed at the transformation. I was dressed, hair combed, house picked up and I looked better than the week before. We stayed friends even though our schedules do not allow us to get together as often anymore. 

I appreciate my friends. They accept me when I am in a good mood or when I am feeling a little melancholy. I know they have prayed for me over the loss of both my husband and my son. It is a nice feeling when I am feeling sad, someone will ask”how are you doing today Julie?” One of the comments I have heard the most is”I can’t even imagine”. I have learned how to live without my son, you never forget them or the good time with them and the difficult times you shared. I have so many wonderful memories of the fine young man Levi had become. One of my most cherished photos in my living room is the one where when our picture was being taken, Levi picked his mom up and my cousin snapped the memory. I remember we were both laughing because Levi told me”how many sons can pick up their mother?” 

This has been a long journey of pain, healing, acceptance, and most of all, the love and support of family and friends. I could not have done this without any of you. The prayers, getting together for coffee and a good cry,and turning my son’s old bedroom into my dressing room. I have friends who have also lost a son or a daughter, they shut the door to the child’s room and never go in it again. I chose to turn my son’s old bedroom into my dressing room. I love getting dressed in the morning and putting on my pajamas at night. I find comfort in seeing his pictures on his wall and reading his hand written notes on his message board. 

When we were born, we were not guaranteed the “perfect life”. We appreciate the little things in life that gives us joy. I know my son is smiling down on me from heaven. I wake up every morning knowing how proud he is of me, his mom who has persevered through my grief and come out the other side into happiness. Hug your kids extra tight today, let them know how proud you are of them, let them know how loved they are and you are glad they are in your life. You are not promised tomorrow , so make today count. 

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A Nice Day Trip

June 7, 2018 at 9:19 pm (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, Life beyond parenting, life lessons, Memoir, Middle age, positive thinking, Survivor, Uncategorized) (, , , )

 

Yesterday, a dear friend of mine and I decided to plan a day trip. We were going to spend the day in a quaint little town overlooking the lake. First my friend needed to pick up a Memorial wrath as her mothers headstone had been delivered. Her parents had a plot bought several years earlier so they could be buried together and not burden the children. When my friend and I had gotten into town, we headed for the cemetery to place the wreath on the grave. Let me tell you, there is nothing like getting lost near a cemetery and cannot find the right road to take. After driving around for a half hour, we finally found the road. When we arrived, the grounds keeper was cutting the grass. It took us several minutes walking up and down the rows of graves to find her mom and dad. We took a few pictures and then headed back into town. I am glad I had the day off from work that I could go and help her celebrate her parents. They were like parents to me as well. 

The morning was sunny and breezy, the drive is a picturesque drive with good 1970’s music, beautiful scenery, and great conversation. I never get tired of driving through the forest, or passing a pretty lake. We are always on the lookout for deer on the way. Sharon and I were reminiscing about the first time we had met. She was my son Levi’s Kindergarten teacher; we had become fast and lasting friends over the years. On Friday nights, we would take the kids for an hour drive to our favorite church the out for ice cream after. I needed some good friends, it was a difficult time for me after my husband passed away. Their kids were a couple of years older than my son, so we would talk child rearing. it was nice to have someone I could talk to. 

 I find even if the plans you have are not what you expected, you can still make an enjoyable day out of it. I would like to think I am getting older and more creative with my days off. summer has never been one season I liked. The heat, the humidity, the bugs, the allergies, the water bill (that took the place of the furnace bills in the winter), keeping your flowers alive long enough to enjoy them. This year, I have decided enjoy the summer by being ‘a tourist in my town and maybe a quaint small town or two.’ Enjoying a walk around the boardwalk, having a snack at an outside cafe, have a coffee at a new coffee-house, check out a new art gallery, it has changed how I live my days.  I only have to water my lawn and flowers for three months, the only project this year is fill the holes in my backyard from the trees I had removed and maybe extend my patio. I live in a great neighborhood with awesome neighbors, have a nice little house that really feels like a vacation year round. 

I do not have the money to build an outdoor kitchen, a fire pit, a swimming pool, or an outdoor fireplace. I will leave that to my home where I go to celebrate my can’t take care of this anymore years. I know it is a growing trend to have an outdoor retreat for the family. I am glad families are investing into the future with grand kids someday, but for now, they can enjoy a yard where it is a home away from home stay-cation spot. I have seen some beautiful homes nestled in the forest or by a lake. Why would you want to go anywhere else?  Some backyards are landscaped in multi levels. a great place to pitch a couple tents and a fire pit. Mom and daughter afternoon pool day. Pack your towel and sunscreen in a tote bag and carry it to the pool party. Simple ways to create lasting memories that is passed on. 

 

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Catching Up

May 3, 2018 at 1:57 am (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, life lessons, Memoir, Middle age, positive thinking, Uncategorized) (, , , )

This afternoon, I had lunch with my dear friend. I don’t get the chance to see her much since we both have different schedules now. A couple of years ago, we both had the same days off, so I would run her errands with her and have a nice afternoon returning purchases her husband decided he could live without after all. I miss seeing my girlfriend every week. She took me to meet her parents one afternoon the rest was…. I had been adopted that minute. Her dad was a kind man and her mother, always had a hug waiting for you when you walked into the room.

Sharon and her husband painted my house for me after my husband had passed away. I remember their son was working for his dad at the time and he painted my bedroom for me. I was busy helping Sharon paint my bathroom. ( I have not repainted our rag rolled walls). The son, seventeen at the time, took his time in my bedroom. I loved the soft blue/ green color chosen for the room. The paint still looks nice today.

Today, my friend and I were talking about when they came over and painted my home the first time. I had a yellow and green house. I was more and willing to have it painted a soft yellow and white. Chris asked me if he could bring my house into the twentieth century and  paint my house a pretty beige and green color instead. I appreciate the love and support they have given to me after the death of my son Levi. Chris felt bad because he was meaning to come over and repaint over Levi’s poor color choice in his bedroom. He donated left over beige paint and my neighbors helped me turn his old bedroom into my dressing room. I am so blessed with the kindness of so many wonderful people.

Three years ago, the same great friends came over and updated my home again. I was getting ready to start my stay-cation, my house was completed the day before. I ask you, where in the world would you plan to go when you have your own newly updated retreat in your own home. I bought new bedding, good food, and giggled in my bed like I remember my husband and I did our first night in this, our forever home. Life is sure different without my husband and son in it, but I have wonderful memories of the laughter, great loud conversations with family and friends in this house. Like I said, I am treating my days off a tourist in my home town. I am visiting new shops, eating my favorite ethnic foods, finding a new coffee place to try, I love open houses, and most of all, catching up with some good friends.

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Another Perspective

October 2, 2017 at 9:38 pm (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, Memoir, Middle age, positive thinking, Twins, Uncategorized) (, , , )

 

 

My twin brother and I celebrated our birthday last week. We are now living in our golden years. I have grown not only a year older, but also wiser especially this last week.

Sometimes when I have a conflict in my life, I try to figure out a quick solution; this doesn’t always work out the way you thought it would. I realized that life is full of heartbreak, poor decisions, and not giving up. I always figured if I gave up, how could I know how God worked in my behalf. I struggled with the sudden loss of my husband and my son. I put my life back together piece by piece with the love and support of family and friends. I had to realize the their deaths did not mean the death of me as well. I keep moving forward each day with expectancy.

Conflict is like laundry day. it would be just as easy to shut the washer lid, but you did not work through the problem. I come to realize problems do not have a thirty minute solution like on the Brady Bunch. I finally found a solution that I can have peace with. You job, home life, caring for your aging parents have good aspects and challenging ones. I had a funny thought that helped me you are standing in a big hole filling up with water. Scary thought huh. I imagined my best friend standing in the hole with me encouraging me not to give up-and to climb out of the big watering hole as well. But I can choose not to stay in misery.

I think I get a little melancholy sometimes because my two best friends are busy with their jobs. We used to have the same days off , so we would go for a fall drive and get a coffee from a java hut on the way. I had more fun with my one friend whose husband is a paint contractor. She spent one day doing returns and asked me along to keep her company.  We always had fun(she didn’t know why I could have fun tagging along with her). I was able to get out of the house for the afternoon and spend the day with someone I treasure. My other good friend  and I loved taking out fall drives around our small town. I looked forward to our salad bar lunches and coffee to go. Sometimes I ride with her to see new properties she will be managing in the future. Some nice neighborhoods out there.

 

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Changing Season

August 23, 2017 at 4:39 pm (blogging, Creative Non- Fiction, Memoir, Middle age) (, , , )

 

My High School had the annual all-class reunion earlier this week. I could not go due to family commitments and work. I am in contact with many of my classmates who still live in my home town in sunny California. Our school was small and so was my graduating class. I think 80 people in all. I could not attend this years gathering of the cool people due to family and work obligations. I wish when photos were posted,everyone could write the names of the unfamiliar faces. It is fun to see how much some have changed while others,well, you want in on the secretes.

I was thumbing through my old year book the other day and saw a picture of my best friend, she was a year ahead of me and was a great source of encouragement to me when I needed it. I lived on the outskirts of town on a ranch, so my brother and I were involved in 4-H Club along with several other classmates. I loved living in the country where I had plenty of places to ride my horse everyday, but I did not make friends to come hang out after school because I live so far out-of-town. My freshman year was awkward beginning a new school, and then my mom always made me wear my hair in a pony tail at school. along with I could not afford the hip clothes everyone was wearing. I was teased a lot in school. I met my friend Tracey in Dance class. We became fast friends, she helped me become more confident. It was funny, I wanted her short hair, she envied my long hair. I remember going shopping for sun glasses, looking at the new styles or just listening to the songs of the super 1970’s at her house. My friend was very pretty, she as even a beauty queen- what I appreciate today about her is she wore jeans a sweat shirt and a leather ball cap shopping. She did not get into the fashion, makeup and perfect hair just to go to the mall.

I was sitting here thinking about my dear friend and wanted to share a story about one day we took off to go to the mall and enjoy the sunny day. We decided to go to Taco Bell and get a burrito supreme. The burritos was a new menu item( always thinking in the back of my mind, dad was grilling steak for dinner) Of course it is more fun to hang out with my friend, I can come with an excuse later when dinner time came. I was dropped off at the house,dad had dinner on ready to go. Well, dad had plenty of dinner for everyone and invited Tracey to stay as well. We both turned green from being stuffed at lunch. wee ate the dinner but afterwards, my friend headed home feeling very,very full. I think I had dinner at her house the next time. A sandwich I believe. Seeing recent pictures of her, my friend has not changed, she is still just as pretty today as she was in school. I never could get her on one of the horses for a ride though.  I think Tracey taught me what it means to be yourself and do not conform to anyone’s standards. What kids did not know was, I often times had ten minutes to get dressed and out the door after feeding my animals. I liked wearing my jeans but also wore a dress and skirt. I learned to like my long hair and curled it -secretly I wanted nothing more than to cut it off and have a style instead of the Marcia Brady look. I looked young in long hair.

I cut my hair short several years ago. I was ready for a change and friends were surprised when I went red. I have some red in my hair, but it was time for a total change. I am glad retro styles are back. I am enjoying wearing the peasant shirts with my carpi pants. It is fun to look in the stores at what I deemed as unfit to wear in my teens. I guess with my getting on in years, I can appreciate how cute the styles were back then. I laughed when I found a dress to be worn two different ways. Oh no, you wore the dress on the shoulder. I had my senior photo taken off the shoulder, I still remember being asked why….. teen girls are funny. I like looking at fashions and I have bought a few flash back pieces of clothing. It is funny how sunglasses from the 70’s are baaaack.

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Lasting Friendships

July 5, 2017 at 7:32 pm (Creative Non- Fiction, Memoir, Middle age, positive thinking, Single Parent, Uncategorized) (, , , )

 

A couple of nights ago, I was catching up with one of my girlfriends. We were chatting about our busy lives, promising to get together soon. With our busy lives, we sometimes have to pencil each other into our daily planners. As I hung up the phone, I thought about how long we had known each other and how many difficult circumstances we had been through together.  Before w both had full-time jobs, we would run errands together. Most of the errands were taking back paint supplies or wrong sized shoes. I enjoyed Sharon’s company and her upbeat personality. We were both young parents who sometimes struggled either in finances or parenting.

I remember when we first met-I enrolled Levi in pre-school to enhance his social skills, sharing skills, respect skills, and an added plus, he found out little girls were not yucky. Levi really liked going to pre-school everyday and he liked his teacher. After picking Levi up,we would share his day in school and what he learned. I loved hearing him sing his new songs he learned that morning.  You know you have found the right school when class becomes more than just learning colors, numbers and your ABC’s.

The Patterson family and the  De Gon family became lasting friends. Some families live in a forever home, some families move every couple of years. It was always a fun adventure find the new Patterson home and have a nice meal together and maybe watch a movie together. Chris is a paint contractor, I loved to see how he transformed a dated kitchen or bedroom into a beautiful space. Chris is very creative and always added a homey touch to some neglected rentals. Chris and Sharon came over and helped me refresh my home a couple of times. I remember I had basic white walls. Chris painted them a winter sky (light blue). I have always loved the Victorian Style of decorating so the wall color matched my furniture perfect. I remember Chris ragged rolled my kitchen/dinning room and bathroom. Friends asked me “how did I put this up n the walls?” I chuckled. 

 I love living in my small town  with many good friends I can count on when I need comfort or just want to hang out for the evening. A fw years ago, a good friend who just happened to own a B&B in Ireland at the time, came over and  freshened up my bedroom for me. I often wondered why our bedrooms are th last room we decorate. The rest of the house is beautiful,then we enter our room. My friend was shocked I had not messed with it since my husband died. Not because I couldn’t, because I did not know where to start. Looking back, my bedroom needed a make-over and I knew just the person. I laughed because she sent me to Church and when I returned home later, my room looked like a B&B inspired room. She created for me a refuge from the storms in life. My problem is … I have not changed the room in ten years now I do not mess with perfection and Victorian. 

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A Peaceful Escape

March 22, 2017 at 9:37 pm (Creative Non- Fiction, Memoir, Middle age, positive thinking, Uncategorized) (, , , )

I met with a dear friend this afternoon for lunch. We do not get together as much as we used to due to our schedules. My friend works in her daughter’s specialty shop. I can get envious of K’s talent for Interior design if I am not careful. She owns a beautifully decorated manufactured home. She has lived in Ireland hosting a B&B for over 20 years. We were laughing about when I asked her ten years ago to help me put my bedroom together for me. When she first looked in my room,she asked me”how many years has it been since it has been touched?” I told her”since my husband passed away”. We both agreed it was time fr a change. And a change I was blessed with. We also talked about how she sent me to church and then her daughter and son-in-law got to work sprucing up my new B&B inspired room. I also decided to turn my son Levi’s old bedroom into my dressing room. She found a perfect rose quilt to put on the now turned day bed.

I am on my stay-cation this week and intend on enjoying every drop of  slowing down and smelling the flowers as I can. I have taken a walk around a quaint little man made village with a river walk. After walking, I decided to browse the shops that were open on Sunday. I have made some special meals for my mom and I to share because I finally have the time to cook and not throw something together. It is nice to take the time and decide what to wear today. I have nice clothes, but I usually put on my cute scrubs for work instead of getting dressed twice. Working odd hours,caring for my aging mom and trying to blog twice a week can be taxing after a while. I needed to find ways to refresh and still keep up with my daily obligations. I don’t know, there is just something about hearing the birds chirp while writing this story that makes my day. You look outside the window, and see 20-30 birds in the trees all having a private conversation.

I am going on a nice scenic drive tomorrow,my neighbor is going to do some ( not my honey do) chores for me while I am gone, then I am going to rent the new release”Collateral Beauty”. It is too early to plant flowers yet,(lucky flowers) so I will get some fresh yard design ideas. The hard winter buried my poor shrubs,so I am going to put in something that will bring some color to my front yard. Any suggestions? I also want to put in a few trees in the back yard to complete my backyard retreat. I have a few summer plans this year. Many years ago, my brother and I took a scenic sea plane tour. I remember how much fun it was and I would like to take another tour. I plan on going to some Summer Theater performances as well as a few concerts. I used to go with friends from church, and need to make the time to enjoy what my town has I offer. I still have two more days off, so I plan on another lunch date, and organizing my closet(come on,it needs to be done). Yes,it is nice to sometimes stop and indeed smell the flowers along the way of our busy lives. Invite a friend over for coffee and desert, or enjoy someones company as you spruce up a room in the house for Spring.

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