If We Were Having Coffee // A Much-Needed Break

Hello dear readers! Happy Sunday, welcome, and thank you for stopping by for a bit of caffeine and catching up.

We’re getting a preview of the winter to come today with temps hovering just below freezing and a few inches of snow predicted to be on the ground before dinner time. Normally snow days make me miserable and mean but today I have a clean house and a determination to write something, read something, make something, and spend a little time with you. I feel good today and I won’t let the cold and the dread of a messy work week commute tomorrow ruin that.

So, pull up a chair and fill up a cup. The coffee machine is out of commission but there’s plenty of coldbrew and I’ve even got some delicious earl grey or chai tea if you’re in the mood for something warmer. Let’s talk about last week!

“There is something—for me—about coffee that is deeply personal and healing and always comforting.”

Meg Fee

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that it is finally Fall Break for the district I work for and that means a much-needed break from the bus and the kids. Don’t get me wrong, I love the kids on my route but after a while, you can start to feel a little burned out by all the little daily frustrations of keeping your bus safe and peaceful.

Unfortunately, fall break doesn’t mean no work at all. It just means not having to go in so early and not having to stay quite so late. Oh, I have the option of taking some time off if I want to but a whole week without pay is really going hurt when payday comes around. So, I’ve chosen to go in and help around the office instead. My training team is moving to a new office across the parking lot and I’m hoping there is at least 40 hours worth of paperwork and equipment to move over to the new space

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that the week leading up to Fall Break was quite a stressful one. It’s always stressful at work before breaks, though. There are deadlines looming and more to do than usual but mentally you are already off and it’s hard to focus or to care.

Not only that but I’d gone and scheduled twice the amount of work I normally would for myself. I thought it would be nice to start my break with a lighter workload and head clear of worry. It was hard but I got through it all and I’m feeling pretty proud of myself for it too. I did everything I promised myself I would even when I was tired, and miserable, and cold. I showed up, physically and mentally, even on days when I didn’t have to and now even though I still have to work next week it’s going to be a whole lot easier.

It as close to a real vacation as I can get right now.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that I wish I had some grand goals to accomplish for Fall Break but time has had a habit of getting away from me lately and once again I’m caught unprepared for the opportunity. But rather than set myself up for failure I’ll just go with the flow and do what I can when I can. I have just a few, mostly ongoing ambitions this week.

  1. Manage my time on Facebook.  The amount of time I have spent on that godforsaken app has been steadily increasing despite never actually feeling good after being on there. There really is no reason to log in more than once or twice a day to check in on family or catch up with my favorite groups and I think a purge of liked pages and companies is in order as well.
  2. Write constantly, and exclusively, for this blog. I’ve made some tiny progress toward getting back to my old posting frequency but not nearly as much as I want to. Lately, it just feels like nothing I write is any good and I never feel like I am making the point I set out to make, but writing something is better than writing nothing especially when you are learning to practice.
  3. Make a pocket notebook. I’m tired of sorting through scraps of paper and post-it notes at the end of the day. Plus, it’s hard to turn those crumpled and jumbled thought fragments into anything resembling a blog post, let alone a newsletter or a publication pitch. I need a pocket notebook, and I think making one myself sounds fun!
  4. Keep reading. I’ve got three books going at once right now. The Iliad by Homer, On the Geneology of Morals by Friedrich Nietzsche, and The Collected Poems of Emily Dickenson. I did really well trading my nap time for reading time more days than not last week and I stuck to reading at least two pages and as much as 30 minutes before bed every night. I’m doing great, I just need to keep doing great.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that this weekend was pretty stressful too. I’ve been trying to facilitate an environment of forgiveness in my family after some big changes resulted in a lot of harsh words and hurt feelings. I thought going back to having weekly-ish family days together where we could have dinner and catch up might be just what we needed but all agreed to attend only if we could meet on the neutral ground—my house. The thought of entertaining, cooking, and even the cleaning I would have to do sent my anxiety through the roof!

I spent all of Friday night and most of Saturday cleaning every nook and cranny of my house and freaking out about dinner, drinks, and how the hell I was going to keep six adults, a toddler, and a newborn baby entertained for 6 hours!

But despite being nervous and worried the whole time, we actually ended up having a great night. The cosmopolitan cocktails I made helped loosen up the tension and the new baby kept us entertained when we ran out of things to talk about. All in all, it was a success, so much so I’m worried that “family day” will only be held at my house from now on.

Sadly all still isn’t forgiven in my family. The problems are still there, laying unaddressed and unresolved, but for the kid’s sake—and for mine—it seems we can still get together and let our hurt and anger go long enough to remember what we still like about each other. We can still laugh. We can still find a way to care, to say nice things, and to enjoy a good meal. I think that says a lot for the kind of people we are and goes a long way toward finding forgiveness…one day.

***

If we were having coffee I would tell you that judging by my empty cup and my growling belly, it about time I got up and got some dinner started before all my Sunday shows are on.

I do hope you were able to find time for you, to accomplish something you’ve been meaning to or to do something fun for a change. I’ll still be around if you’d like to tell me how your week went and what you’ve been up too and whether it’s warm where you are or if winter has reared its ugly head near you too.

Until next time.

***

Thanks for reading! If you like this post check out my weekly-ish newsletter for inspiring reads + existential musings on life, love, and inevitable human suffering. Or help support what I do by sharing a virtual cup of coffee.

Written for the #WeekendCoffeeShare link-up hosted by Eclectic Alli

Photo by andrew welch on Unsplash

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I’m Learning What Christmas is All About

If I am being honest, I admit I am not the biggest fan of Christmas. I try every year to make it something that I can really get into but every year I end up feeling like the whole thing is a bunch of hassle and wondering what the point is. I get what it is supposed to be, but we all know it isn’t that any longer. But I’m not here to whine about consumerism.

Growing up in a dysfunctional, broken family meant that there was always family members missing and family members fighting. It meant mom had to work and dad may or may not call. It meant playing quietly so we didn’t upset anyone and being grateful for whatever we got. Growing up in a dysfunctional, broken family means as an adult I reject tradition and anything that evokes warm, fuzzy feelings. It’s called a defense mechanism.

As an adult, I don’t understand how people have the kind of Christmas I see in movies. Do people really sing and aunts and uncles and grandparents come in from out of town with a troupe of cousins to eat a big dinner? I never had anything like that, but I’m not here to whine about my childhood either.

I’m here to say that every year I do my best to find the thing that makes this time of year so wonderful for other people and every year I get it a little bit more. Before I felt like I was looking in on a bizarre ritual I wanted no part of, and while I am still looking in from the outside, I at least want to be a part of it now.

Christmas has gotten better for me now that I am an adult, even being with my family has become something I look forward to. We’ll have gifts and a dinner, and there are more of us to be merry with. Maybe I already have the Christmas I longed for as a kid, and maybe tomorrow I will be reminded of that.

I am not here to complain I swear. I just want to say that I am getting better and that means I wish you all the kind of Christmas that you see in all the movies.  I hope you all can see that family does mean something and so do the decorations, and the food, and the gifts. I hope you enjoy a holiday of hope, love, and giving.

Merry Christmas dear readers.

The Story of Me and My Dad: Part 1

I have always been, and probably always will be, a daddy’s girl.

My mom tells me that from the moment her and my father brought me home, me and my dad were close. She says I would cry all day until he got home and she says he took me with him everywhere he could.

My father came from a very chaotic and abusive home but he wanted to do better. He stuck with my mom, in the beginning, and helped raise me but neither of them really knew how to be parents. They didn’t even know how to be in a marriage.

Although my dad was good to me, he wasn’t so good to my mother. I remember they fought all the time, really bad. When I was young I didn’t understand what was happening and I thought it was normal. I thought all parents yelled and screamed at each other.

I think my father was hard on my mother. I know he cheated, I know he left her, and I know he was not much help to her after he left. When I was an adult he told me he just didn’t know how to be a husband. He also said that he wished he had treated my mother better. I think he will always love her a little.

After the divorce I would see my dad whenever he decided he wanted to see me, which didn’t seem to be all that often. Or at least it didn’t feel often enough. I missed him a lot and I was angry that he was gone. I didn’t understand why he had left and I blamed my mother for running him off. She never told me any different until I was much older and could take the truth.

Whenever, I did see my father we had a great time. He took us out a lot, especially around his friends. I remember thinking my dad must be so cool. He had so many friends and he was always going to these bars and parties. He was also always bringing home another woman.

He would eventually start getting serious about a few of these women and I have a couple of siblings from two of his other relationships. Neither of my step-mothers liked me and my sister much then since we were nothing but living reminders of my dads old life. I always felt like they hated to have us around and couldn’t wait for Sunday evening when we had to go back to our mother.

We didn’t even see him every weekend. I’m not sure exactly how often we did but even he admits now that he wasn’t there as much as he should have been. The sad part was as little as I saw him my other siblings saw him even less. I feel really bad about that.

It’s weird how as sad as I was that my dad wasn’t around, for some reason my young mind never thought to be mad at him about it. I still loved him very much and looked forward to seeing him whenever I could. I always secretly hoped he would come get me when things got bad between me and my mom. I wanted him to come save me from my mom who I thought hated me. I did end up living with him but not the way I had hoped.

You see, as I got older the effects of coming from a broken home became more apparent. I began to act out. When my mother got tired of me (the first time) she sent me to live with my father. I was about 14 years old.

I think this is about when my father’s alcoholism started to take hold. He had so many friends and I remember he was always going out, and leaving me home alone to fend for myself.

I remember that he never called to let me know he’d be late and I worried about him a lot.

I remember once he was gone for two days. When he came home I told him I had been worried. I told him he would’ve been dead in a ditch somewhere and I wouldn’t have known.

He told me I didn’t have to worry about him because he was an adult.

I remember once I woke up in the morning and there was a strange woman he had left on our couch and he was already gone.

I don’t know what my mom expected to happen but I continued to act out while living with my father. Looking back I don’t know how they expected I would ever do better with even less supervision and direction than I had had before. I guess it wasn’t completely his fault, he didn’t know much about raising a daughter, let alone one that was going through puberty and acting out.

So of course he sent me back to my mother. He said he had tried everything and didn’t know what else to do. He even asked me what he should do. I didn’t want to go back to my moms but I didn’t know how to be be better either. I’m not sure he really tried everything though.

I remember feeling bad that neither of my parents seemed to want me.

Years later, when I was 18, I lived with my father again. This time wasn’t much different than the time before, except he was drinking even more.

I didn’t really know what alcoholism was or how it effected a person’s health. I just remembered that day when I was 14 and my father told me not to worry about him because he was an adult. So I didn’t.

Then I remember vodka bottles in the trash every morning.

Then he got a DUI. Then another.

Then he lost his job.

Then we lost our apartment.

Then he was in the hospital and the doctors were saying he had to stop drinking or he would die.

He didn’t stop drinking and over the next several years my father went to jail, got into a good rehab program, graduated, and has been sober ever since.

There a lot I’m angry about and I’m not sure if any of it is worth bringing up anymore. He’s doing good, I’m doing good, and the past can never be changed. All we can do now is try to move forward and build a better relationship.

I still love my father very much and I think he knows this.

I just hope he also knows how proud I am of all of the progress he has made too.

Image: A photo of my father from February 1986. I would’ve been just shy of 1 years old.

The Complex and Fragile Relationship of Mother and Daughter – Pt. II

You can read Part I here.

I love my mother but Mother’s Day is a complicated holiday for me. I have so many feelings about her and us and us back then and us right now….We didn’t always have the best relationship. I don’t think we were ever close when I was a kid, not since the day I was born, and as an adult, even though things are better, I can’t forget the way that made me feel growing up.

I moved out/was kicked out just after my 17th birthday. Admittedly I had been a pretty (read:very) bad teenager but I don’t think that was entirely my fault. I was young and I had grown up in a broken and chaotic environment and I didn’t know how to cope with any of it. I was fucked up.

My mother didn’t know how to deal with a daughter who just wouldn’t do as she was told. Well, not beyond hitting me and that eventually stopped working. So she thought it best that since I didn’t want to be there and I imagine she no longer wanted me there, that I ought to go. I was shocked but I agreed and I packed up whatever I could carry and I left.

Looking back now I’m not sure how I felt about it. I want to say I missed my mother but it’s not like we ever got along anyway. It’s not like I was missing out on her hugs and motherly advice. To be honest moving out only meant she couldn’t yell at me anymore. I was lost without my mother but I had never really had her in the first place. Not that I can remember anyway.

It wasn’t until a couple of years after moving out that I began to feel real anger at my mother. Before that I had just been sad. Sad that I couldn’t be the daughter she wanted and sad the I had messed things up so much. I thought my mother hated me and I assumed she regretted ever giving birth to me. I mean, what else could explain the lack of hugs and “I love yous”? Why didn’t my mom ask me about myself? Why didn’t she do fun things with me? Why did she yell at me so much?

She must have hated me….

After moving out I lived with two cousins and their mother, my aunt. She wasn’t the best example of a mother either but she was genuinely interested in how I was doing and where my life was headed. Maybe my own mother had been too but she hadn’t let me know in a nice way at all. She only seemed concerned with me after I had already made the wrong choices.

A little after I moved out my mother moved to Missouri with my step-dad and my siblings. That is when I got mad. She hadn’t really been there for me but now she was leaving the state? Now I was really on my own. Now I started to think about how alone I had felt my whole life. Now I thought about what a mother is supposed to be. Now I thought about how the actions of the adults in my life had made me who I was and I had been the one to receive the punishment. Now I thought about my mother’s role in my current situation.

My heart became hard and I figured if my family didn’t want me I didn’t want them, and I set out to make my own family. My cousins became like sisters to me and I had met my lovely girlfriend and I felt like that was all I needed.

Me and my mother still talked every once in awhile, and slowly, without me really noticing, something changed. She visited me here and I went to visit her there and then she moved back and she wanted to see me. I don’t know how or why but while my feelings about her hadn’t changed we acted like none of it had ever happened. I was willing to pretend, I was happy to be a part of the family again….or maybe for the first time.

One day, me and my sister were joking about our rough upbringing in front of our mother and she loudly blurted out that she was sorry. She said she did her best but that she didn’t have a clue how to raise us. She said she was sorry. In that moment I forgave my mother. I don’t excuse what happened to me but it happened and there wasn’t much that could have been done. Most of the events of my childhood were effects from causes that occurred before my birth. I don’t think my parents ever had a chance.

I love my mother and I forgive her for not being the loving mother I so desperately needed, the mother she didn’t know how to be. Today we are close. We talk at least once a week and many times more often than that. We laugh together and I think she might even be proud of the woman I have become. That has meant a lot to me, but there will always be that little part of me, that girl-child Lisa, who wishes things could have been different, who wishes her mother had shown her love.

So this mother’s day I want to thank my mother. I thank her for keeping me alive and I thank her for teaching me that people aren’t perfect, not even mothers. I also want to thank her for not denying the fact that she made mistakes as a mother, that goes long way in both my ability to forgive and to heal. And I want to thank her for being here for me now. Despite our past I am happy to have her in my life now and I hope that our relationship will continue to grow.

Despite our past, I do love my mother.

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I want to say very quickly that these are my views and feelings of my past from my own perspective and not intended to hurt anyone. I love my family very much and only want to be honest about my experience. 

The image is of me and my mother when I was a baby.

Monday Motivation – Make Someone’s Life Better

It’s that time of the week again, it’s Monday, the beginning of the work week and time to get motivated!

This week my goal is to try to make the lives of the people around me a little better.

These past few weeks a lot of people in my life, family, friends, co-workers, and acquaintances, have shown me a lot of love in celebration of my 30th birthday. This week I’d like to return the favor by letting them know that I appreciate them.

I’m not sure how I’m going to do that yet but I think just telling them that the attention meant a lot and I appreciate everything they have done is a good place to start.

I often forget how much my friends and family care about me but every year they remind me again. This year I had some new friends and I thought maybe since I didn’t know them very well they wouldn’t show up or care but they did, they really did.

Not only did they show up but some brought gifts and they all told me how happy they were to have me be apart of their lives. I don’t think I can ever express to them how much that means to me but I have to try.

Beyond telling them how much I appreciate them I also want to let them know if any of them ever need anything from me I’m here for them.

I can be an ear to vent to, a shoulder to cry on, or even dispense some advice of needed. I can make them laugh and let them know I see them and care about them.

Is humans are social creatures and every relationship is a two-way street. Do your best to make the lives of people around you better and I promise the favor will be returned two-fold.

You will have strengthened a friendship and doing good will make you feel good too.

The Complex and Fragile Relationship of Mother and Daughter – Pt. I

I love my mother.

There are times when I think about the relationship between me and my mother and get lost in my own feelings of anger and sadness of everything that happened and I feel….well, angry and sad. My feelings aren’t black and white but I do love my mother.

You see, my mother had me when she was young, and so much of what happened later was because of what happened before and…..maybe I ought to start at the beginning.

From what I have been told of my mother’s childhood it was a rough one. I don’t know much about her mother, but I do know her father was not a very nice man. He was hard on his kids and showed them no love or affection. I think her mother may have tried but I imagine being married to a man like that left her feeling like she was walking on eggshells.

My mother’s father was also a racist man who basically believed that black people were not even in the same species as white people. You can imagine his reaction to finding out his daughter was dating a black man and later became pregnant with his child at the age of 18.

I do not know if my mother was kicked out of her home, or if she chose to leave, but I do know at some point she thought it was best to give me up for adoption. She had even chosen a family to adopt me, a family she would later tell me was well off financially. It would become a joke among my siblings that I had almost gotten out.

Just after my birth the nurse announced to my mother that I was a girl, which I think she wasn’t supposed to do, and my mother changed her mind and decided to keep me. My father’s mother had offered to take her in whether my father wanted to help raise me or not.

I had been born a bit early, by at least 2 weeks, I think, I had an umbilical hernia, and I was jaundice so I had to be kept in an incubator for a bit.

After that things are aren’t clear.  At some point my parents did get married but I don’t know exactly how their relationship was after my birth, or whether or not my father wanted me. I do know that later things would get bad though. My father was not a very good husband. He grew up in a bad situation too and had no reference point for how to be the head of his new family.

My mother says I was a hard baby. She says I cried a lot with her but not with my father. She says she would be home with me all day and I would cry and then my father would come home from work and I would be happy. That, coupled with the fact that my father wasn’t a good husband probably made her feel left out. She says she felt the need to have another child, one she could connect with, a baby for her. Four years after I was born, I had a baby sister.

I remember being about 4 or 5 years old and living in Virginia. We had moved there from Colorado but I don’t know exactly why. My mom says by then I had calmed down and become a good child. I learned things easily and potty trained early and rarely did anything “bad”.

I remember my parents fighting all the time, and I remember the fights were bad. I don’t know how I felt about the fighting, I may have just been used to it. I imagine they had probably been fighting like that since my birth.

Then one day my dad was gone. My mother says I blamed her but I don’t remember that. I feel bad as an adult knowing that I did that and knowing now that it was not my mother’s fault. It must have hurt her deeply to hear that and see the sadness in me that my dad, who I had been so close to, had left. My memory jumps forward then and we are back in Colorado.

I remember knowing that we didn’t have money for a lot of things, and I remember that my mom was angry all the time. I remember that I had to help out a lot and I had to help take care of my sister. I remember that my dad didn’t send money sometimes and I remember that he didn’t call or come pick us up much. I remember that I was sad and I felt lost. I remember that my mom worked and slept a lot and I remember that her and my sister were closer than she was with me.

I was never angry at my mother, I just felt frustrated. I felt frustrated that I couldn’t do anything to help and that I couldn’t get out of the situation I was in. I was frustrated that whatever I did do wasn’t right, or enough, and I was frustrated that there was no hope of anything changing.

I also didn’t understand why things had to be so hard. I didn’t understand why my father left and I didn’t understand why my mother was angry. I understand now and that is why despite everything that happened I love my mother. She made tough choices and she did the best she could with me without any guidance and without a support system.

I remember that my mother always worked hard. I remember we always had enough food, I remember we always had clothes, and I remember we always had a roof over our heads. I remember we had school supplies, I remember we had gifts for Christmas, and I remember we had each other.

And for all of that I love my mother and I always will no matter what.

****************************************

Today is my mother’s birthday and I wanted to write something about her and I realized that there has been so much between us, so much that I haven’t said, so much that I want to say that this will have to be a two part post. Look for the second part on May 10th, Mother’s Day.

I also want to say very quickly that these are my views and feelings of my past from my own perspective and not intended to hurt anyone. I love my family very much and only want to be honest about my experience. 

The image is of me and my mother when I was a baby.

If We Were Having Coffee – Forgivness, the Cats and the Snakes, and a Big Birthday Countdown

If we were having coffee I would order something iced and insist we drink it outside since the weather is so nice. I want to enjoy it while I can because here in Colorado you never know if spring has finally come or if Mother Nature has decided she would like to play with you emotions and let you think has arrived right before dumping 6 or 9 inches of snow on you. I am a bit paranoid when it comes to the weather here but the weather woman on the news has assured me that the worst I will see is a bit of rain toward the end of the week.

If we were having coffee I would have to get right to it and tell you the good news, me and my little brother are mending our relationship. See, it’s been over a year now that we haven’t talked. Long story short, we got into a fight because my girlfriend was a bit hard on our little sister one day for missing so much school. She thought she was doing the right thing and my brother thought I should have defended our sister. So we yell at each other and said some things we shouldn’t have and because he is the most stubborn person in the world he refused to make up with me. Until yesterday.

He text me to say that while he believes he was right in his action he no longer wants to fight and the even said he loves me and misses me, something almost never said in my family. I text him back I felt the same and we talked a bit about how he is doing. apparently he plans to get his high school diploma and join the military. After that he wants to become a police officer. I am worried for him but I’m happy he has a plan and is working toward doing something fulfilling. I am proud of him.

If we were having coffee I would tell you that we have decide not to give up our cats yet. In case you didn’t know, we have three cats, Sophia, Calvin, and Quinn. Sophia is the older cat, we’ve had her for over 10 years. Last summer my aunt’s cat had a litter and I thought we ought to take one. Then I thought maybe we ought to take two so they could play together and not bother Sophia so much. Oh how wrong I was. These two cats have wrecked so much havoc in this house!

A few weeks ago we’d had enough of them tearing up everything and tormenting Sophia and we decided to surrender them to a shelter. But when it came time to take them we felt bad. They are young and we know they will calm down, plus we hadn’t really tried all that hard to cat proof the place and work on teaching them what was okay and what wasn’t. They are our responsibility and we have to try. I would hate for them to get put down at a shelter just because I couldn’t try a little harder. Plus, we do kinda love them. So they are here to stay for at least a few more months, then we will think about it again.

Having lost our dogs over the past few years we just can’t bring ourselves to give these cats up.

If we were having coffee I would also tell you that the weather getting nicer means my new snake will be on her way soon. This weekend I started getting things set up for her and I have all the important stuff ready and next weekend I will work on the decoration. I got new shelving to house both the new snake and the one I already have. I have her enclosure and the heating pad, thermometer, and thermostat going. I have to make sure I can achieve temperatures between 75 and 83 degrees, and 90% humidity levels. I know, weird hobbies.

If we were having coffee I would tell you that it is less than a month now before my birthday (April 13th), on which I will leave my twenties behind and become a real adult. Yes, I will be turning 30 and while part of me insists it is not a big deal and life will carry on the same as it has been I can’t help but feel a little sad. I feel like my youth will be firmly behind me and I mourn the loss of it. At the same time though I look forward to the confidence that will come with age and wisdom. I already feel like I know myself better and am less willing to compromise who I am. I feel a bit more sure about the future then I did before and I think age has a lot to do with it.

But more immediately, I am also trying to figure out how to celebrate turning 30 and leaving my youth behind. Usually my birthday gets celebrated in stages. I go out with friends, I got out with one part of my family, and then the other, I go out with in-laws, then I go out with my lady. That’s a lot of birthday but it maximizes the amount of free dinners I get and none of the family has to feel awkward with any other family they don’t want to be with. I don’t know if I should try to do something different and get everyone together for a big party, or if I should keep it low-key and celebrate the same as I always do. This is very important because I don’t want to regret whatever I chose to do later in life.

If we were having coffee I would say thank you for stopping by and listening to me vent. I look forward to it every week. I have to go now but I hope your week was nice and I wish you luck in the one coming up. Enjoy the rest of your Sunday, Monday will be here very soon.

Original image via https://flic.kr/p/a1e9m6