Victims of December

Wishful thinking is  an enticing line of thought. It triggers regrets from our past, diverts us away from the present,and instills a flicker of excitement for the future. This time of year always fascinates me, it’s as if society completely changes for a month. Work eases up, family comes to town, we take time to cook our meals, and most importantly opportunities to give and receive love are plentiful.

Many of you might argue that the holidays are in fact stressful and full of expectation. The house has to be cleaned, your kids are running wild inside on cold days and no school, you practically live at the store and money is tight from all those gifts you just couldn’t say no to buying.Contrarily,I encourage you humor one simple belief I have which is this: The holidays quench your desire for intimate relationship most of us go without all year. Yes, all year.

It is a happiness that you find in seeing coat drives, salvation army buckets, operation christmas child donations, hugs at airports, stories of giving to the needy, veterans who make it home, and the awkward but delightful experience of strangers singing at your doorstep. It isn’t even about the best gifts we receive, but that someone loved us enough to know how much those gifts would mean to us. Of course, we all love getting gifts, but I can tell you, there have been many christmas mornings my parents made me and my brothers (even if they don’t want to admit it) cry. It was never because of what was under the tree, but the overwhelming feeling of love that came with it.

It is true that as we get older we begin to understand love from a different perspective and certainly with greater capacity. We cherish the time with family and friends that is uninterrupted, boundless, and exactly what we wished for.  Yet, by the end of December most of us will have stepped back into “reality”. We will feel like we can’t escape from the monotomy of each day. The bills will still be there, so will fights with our spouse, and weekends that are filled with just as much work as the weekdays. We won’t see salvation army buckets all over town, and if someone comes to our door singing we are more likely to tell them to shut up so we can get some sleep. Just like that, the joy fades.

Not because the trees go down, or work days speed up again, but because our focus on relationship decreases. We think after a frustrating day at work that dinner and netflix in isolation from stupid humans is the answer (and somedays it is) but what if really, we needed to call a friend. We spend our lunch break eating in a car and staring down our Facebook account instead of asking someone to go to lunch. We don’t think to give more of ourself on the weekends because well…didn’t we do that all week? We know we want to call that person back but what if they need me? I’m too exhasted. I’m telling you, regardless of your temperament, humans were instrinsically designed to thrive off community and relationship. When we lock up, lock into our screens, and let enervating days control our joy we become victim to believing we can only experience this level of joy one month out of the year.

Give yourself a real gift this year, and make the relationships you cherish the priority. Look for ways to budget giving to a local charity, spend money on plane tickets instead of more “stuff”. Invite friends over for dinner on a Tuesday. Send flowers to someone, just kidding send chocolate. Put a card in the mail when it would be easier to send a facebook message. Make others know the sincerity of your gratitude in being able to call them mother, friend, or lover. Doing this is imperative to your joy, because on the days where life is changing with the wind and the earth shakes beneath your feet, you will always have someone to be your December.

 

Greatest Generation: Grandma

Grandma’s: We all have them, some of us really get to know them, and others lose them far too soon. I have had the priviledge of learning from two amazing grandmothers.

Wilma Belle Earp – Great Niece of Wyatt Earp the infamous sheriff of Arizona, Mother to 5, Grandmother to 8, Survivor of WWII, and The Great Depression. A Kansas raised farm girl who knew the value of every dollar, never hesitated to wring a chickens neck out back, and woke at the crack of dawn to finish farm chores; then went to school, because learning was important, but learning how to work hard was more important.

Donna Luise Monson – Mother to 9, Grandmother to 23, Great Grandmother to 3 and a devout Catholic. She served her community as a Nurse for 30 years, demonstrated resilient faith amidst lifes greatest challenges and inspired others with her kind disposition. She always spoke her mind, and never hesitated to remind me that following Christ ensured peace, purpose, and prosperity. Our family lost my Grandma Donna a year ago around this time. My deepest sadness is that I couldn’t know more of her in the time I was given.

My Grandma Wilma moved from Colorado a few years ago in lieu of my Grandpa’s Alzheimers. Here, in the small community of Keokuk she’s found a place to live affordibly in her own home with the security of her son five minutes away. She has gained another place to find life as an elder. I am grateful to have been raised in a family where those who built the foundation of our richest blessings are now being blessed with time to share the joy of their children and grandchildren instead of being in a room to be taken care of by someone else. I understand that “someone else” is usually a very caring and hardworking person, and that there comes a time our elders require the support of those outside the family, but for now Gram is in control of her days.

Many in my area know that I don’t hesitate to “share” the countless shenanigans “Gram” and I experience together. Originally I began sharing more than some would, for the mere purpose of having a record of our times together. As the sharing evolved it became apparent I wasn’t the only one who took delight in the hoot that is my Grandma. I questioned what it was about “Gram” that has prompted such a positive response, and I think I know the answer. Simply put: it is nice to see a life that is still being lived at age 86. If you ask Wilma to join in on the fun she will. Not because she feels pressured, but because she thought you would never ask. 

Whether it’s a piggy back ride, jamming in the car, pulling pranks, dancing in the living room, attempting to play guitar, wearing baseball caps backwards, or making ridiculously funny comments just because she’s trying to figure something out there is a constant stream of life happening. Rarely does Gram experience a day without visitors, phone calls, cooking, a little organizing (or as she would say “piddling”), help when needed, and a good laugh.

I’ll tell you, there is nothing like the love and life of a Grandma. The years they’ve lived are irreplaceable, the love they give feels like home, and confidence they have in you makes everything feel a little bit better. If you put your phone down they will tell you anything you want to know. When you’re short a few bucks, or a few hundred, it is yours if they have it, and if they don’t you still get a bag of cookies and a good luck hug. Grandma’s look at your life and can’t wait for you to live it. They know what is coming. The days you’ll see heartache, loss, and the cruelty of the others. The days when you’ll find the one who loves you wholly, or when your heart will burst with the pride of beginning your own family, and even the times you’ll blossom gracefully through the many unknowns you face right now.

My relationship with my Grandmother, specifically these past few years has taught me that whether you are 24 or 86 there is no better time to live.   We cannot possibly counter all the unknowns of this world, but we can let love bind us to the joy we find in one another amidst the wandering.

 

 

 

Why 24 isn’t 30

When you’re 24 you might have a degree but not a career.

You have debt, but not enough for a chance at a good credit score.

You are afraid of moving forward, but more afraid of being stagnant.

Your friends are either way behind, right there with you, or way ahead. You know what I mean. It’s the bar every weekend, accomplished but not settled, or married with kids.

You haven’t reached a quarter life crises, but you’re damn close.

You value your spirituality, but sometimes it takes way too much discipline. I could either feel all the feelings or seek my source of wisdom, strength and peace. Feel all the feelings it is.

You’ve moved 3 times in the past 4 years. You just want to live somewhere.

You don’t want to live somewhere. You want to travel the world and take advantage of the 20’s everyone raves about. Yet you can’t, because you don’t have good credit, or a career that pays enough to get good credit.

You envisioned your 20’s doing all the 20 something things 20 somethings do. Go to clubs, have sex with the wrong people, get some credit card debt, have a revelation about your chosen faith and settle down with nice partner. Then they invented Netflix. And Hulu. And God help me HBO on top of it. Now we stay in, swipe right (or left), binge the best series, and call it a night.

You are a Kendrick Lamar lover by day, and a closet Bieber fan by night. Just some nights okay?

You eat way too many processed foods, go to the gym religously or not at all, listen to music way too loud, and never balance your checkbook.

You will spend more time on facebook, instagram, twitter, and netflix than you ever should and you will feel like it should probe regret, but it usually won’t.

24 definitely isn’t 30 but it’s all you.

 

Dusty Journals

The dusty journals. You know the ones I’m talking about. The cheap paper books you started to write in but never finished. Your parents passive attempt to encourage a venue for self expression and privacy. We have all received those journals, and for many of us, those journals never made it.

I am starting this blog in honor of all the journals that never made it to 24 with me. The internet is a fascinating yet dangerous arena where words follow you for life. You can’t leave the internet in a box, throw it away after miscellaneous entry attempts, or leave it to rot in the bottom drawer of your night stand.

Thankfully, and, unfortunately all it will take is a mere reset of a password or username via email and my personal thoughts resurface. Perhaps this time I can do it. To the many people in my life who have listened to my endless thought process, I owe a great gratitude. Many of them would be relieved I am constructing my thoughts via blog.

So here’s to the good days, the bad days, carb days, grandma days, dog days, days I hate the government, photography days, spiritual and not so spiritual days, and everything inbetween.