Monthly Archives: May 2013

Moments

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Awwww.  How sweet.

Ok, I’ll get back to this picture in a minute.  First – let me tell you a little something about myself.

I’m a jerk.

Oh yeah.  It’s true.  When I’m upset about something, I become an inconsiderate, irrational know-it-all who cannot see anyone else’s point of view but my own.  Especially when I’m already tired or stressed to begin with.  Anyone else like that, or am I all alone here in Jerkville?

Now, my boyfriend definitely knows this about me.  He has been a prisoner in Jerkville a few too many times.  And sometimes he likes to put a positive spin on this aspect of my personality by referring to it as my being passionate.  Passionate.  *Giggle*  (He missed his calling as a politician.)

But, then there are other times.  The times when he’s fed up and has had enough of the scenery in Jerkville and is ready to go home – that’s when he’ll call it like it really is.  He says I get crazy.

Ok, I’ll admit it.  Both are true.  Sometimes I’m passionately crazy.  But it’s because I feel things.  You know?  I feel them to my core.  There’s no half-assing it with me.  (Pardon my French.)  When I feel it, I feel it.

Now, sometimes that’s a good thing.  Sometimes it’s a wonderful thing actually.  I know I love with all of my heart, and then some.  I’d go to the ends of the earth for you if you’ve managed to win my heart.  And honestly, I kinda like that about myself.

But when the tide turns?  Ohhhh boy.  When the tide turns, it’s not such a good thing anymore.  It can get ugly fast.  Yep – it’s a flaw.  My biggest flaw, perhaps.  I admit it.

I, Melissa Caudill, am a flawed human being.  

I know, I know….shocking, isn’t it?  I thought I was perfect too!  But nope.  Turns out, I’m not.  Who knew!?

So, with all of that said, I want to tell you about something that happened in my latest argument with my honey.  Now, he is the exact opposite from me.  Polar opposite.  His way to handle a problem?  Clam up; don’t talk; wait for it to pass.

Bless his heart.

Now, you read all that stuff I just said about me, right?   If you were a fly on the wall during one of our spats, I can assure you you’d be quite entertained.  Honestly, though – (and don’t tell him this) – I admire him for the way he is.  In the same way that he admires my being “passionate,” I admire his being level-headed.  Calm.  Well, that is, until I’m pissed.  And then?  Then I think he’s….well….crazy.  Unhealthy.  A ticking time bomb.  He needs to let that junk out of his system!

In other words, I guess we’re both flawed.  It just happens to be in exact opposite ways.

Well, last night – as it has a few times in the past – those flaws came into play during a stupid argument.  I wanted to talk; he didn’t.  So, I marched my crazy self over to his house to make him talk.  When I first got there, he was asleep.  (Asleep?  Asleep!?  You think that is an excuse not to text me back??) 😉  After an unwelcomed chuckle from his half-asleep ramblings (he saw me and said in a slurred voice, “What are you doing in the band room?”…oh my gosh, I can’t even type that without laughing again – what the heck was that boy dreaming about?…), we got down to business.  We (I) ranted and raved and discussed every little thing each of us have ever done wrong in our lives from the time we exited our mother’s wombs.  Or, at least it seemed like that. Then, eventually, we chilled out and finally actually discussed the issue like we should have all along.

We’re fine now.  We still have problems, and always will (we’re human), but this catastrophe was avoided at least.

Now, back to the picture I posted at the beginning.  (See? I’m telling you this story for a reason.  And you thought I was just rambling….)

At one point during the argument, he got up and went into the kitchen to get a bottle of water.  (I know, right!?  How dare him walk away when I’m ranting…)  He came back into the room, and I took a deep breath and resumed where I had left off without missing a beat.  And in the midst of my continued rant, you know what he did?

He handed me a drink of water.

Here I was, hoarse from all the fussing at the poor man, and he hands me a drink of water to help me continue.

Isn’t that amazing?  You can be irate at someone – think that they are the craziest, most insane, irrational person alive – and yet when you love them, you still make sure they’re comfortable.  Make sure they know you love them.

These are the moments, people.  Not the candlelit dinners, not the flowers, not the cute little pet names.

The times the people you love are being anything but loveable – and you love them anyway.  The parent tucking in the child that just screamed “I hate you!” at them just before they fell asleep; the pet that still runs up to you and welcomes you home when you’ve left it alone all day; the adult child of an Alzheimer’s patient still patiently lifting a spoon to the mouth that curses them in confusion; the boyfriend who hands a drink of water to the woman who has just hurt his feelings.

These are the moments.

Don’t forget to notice them.  OK?

***

“Love is an act of endless forgiveness, a tender look which becomes a habit.”
– Peter Ustinov

Some days suck

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I try to keep these blogs uplifting.  Motivational.  Positive.

But you know what?

Some days suck.

They just do.  Sometimes it seems like everything is a big clusterf…um…mess.

Oh, you know your problems aren’t the worst problems in the world.  You know that other people have it worse than you.  You know that saying that goes something like…”if everyone threw their problems in a pile and started to hand them out evenly, you’d be quick to grab yours back”….blah, blah, blah.  You realistically know all these things.  But sometimes realistic can just kiss your butt.  Sometimes you’re stressed.  Sometimes you’re tired.  Sometimes you have money troubles.  Sometimes you have relationship troubles.  Sometimes you have kid troubles.  Sometimes you have family troubles.  Sometimes you have work troubles.

And then sometimes you have them all at once.

I’m tired.  I’m exhausted.  I’m irritable.  I’m pushing people away.  I’m being irrational.  I hate this about myself sometimes.  I fully recognize it, but when I’m in the mood I’m in, I don’t really want to do anything about it.  I don’t have the energy to be upbeat.  To be positive.  To see the silver lining and whatnot.

Oh, I will.  Tomorrow.  Or maybe the next day.  Everything will resume into its natural order and everything will work out one way or the other.  Like it always does.  But right now?

Right now, I just want to be grumpy.  And that’s ok.  Sometimes it just has to be ok.  There’s no other choice.

See?  I’m human.  Just like you.

Sigh.  This too shall pass.

***

“I think I’m chronically exhausted
– Hilary Clinton

Good stuff

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Two separate receipts – each with a $100 tip.

You hear about these kinds of things in the news all the time, right?  Some unsuspecting waitress somewhere is left a large tip from some kind, generous patron.  Pretty cool, huh?

These feel-good stories are always nice reminders that there are good people in the world.  But let’s be honest here.  Sadly, it always seems like these stories are far off somehow…like these ‘good people’ in the world aren’t actually in your world.  Right?  When they are just stories that you hear about or read about, they pretty much rank up there with TV shows or movies or books.  They seem ‘made up’ somehow.  Like fairy tales.  Oh, you know they are true – these things really happened to someone.  But when something doesn’t happen close to home, it’s easy to dismiss it and file it in the “that’s not going to happen to anyone I know” category.  You feel me?

Well, not this time.

The picture I posted above?  These are two receipts that were left on the table for my very-pregnant sister, Cathy.  The “Payton” that the handwritten notes are referring to is my soon-to-be-born niece.

And the story gets even better.

The two kind patrons who left these tips?  They were two young soldiers who had just returned from serving overseas.

Wow.

Cathy was moved to tears when she saw this much-needed selfless gift that was left behind for her.  And, frankly, so was I.

I’m not really sure what else I can add to this story.  I think the receipts speak for themselves – they are their own story.  Their own proof that goodness and kindness still exist in this world.  The handwriting, the celebration of a new life, the true generosity (growing up a military brat, I know personally that soldiers don’t easily have $100 bucks laying around to give away), the display of human kindness, of human togetherness….Wow.  Just wow.

I don’t know about you, but this was something I think I needed to see.

Thank you, soldiers.

***

“For it is in giving that we receive.”
-Francis of Assisi

Dress the Part

I noticed something interesting the other day.

This is my daughter, Kelly.

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This picture was taken on the day of her 7th grade graduation.  We curled her hair, she had a little makeup on, wore a cute little dress…she was looking pretty darn spiffy.  Well, later that evening, she and I had to be at theatre rehearsal.  (She was cast as Annie in our local theatre’s upcoming production – if you haven’t already heard me mention that about 3,000 times. I’m just a little bit proud.)  She still had her hair curled, still had the little dress on, etc.  And something interesting happened.  When she stepped on that stage that night, she did the best she had ever done.

Now, granted, my daughter is capable of playing this role.  She is beyond capable.  But with this being her first large role (first speaking role, even), she’s a bit nervous and a little reserved.  Up to this point, she hadn’t found her ‘sea legs,’ so to speak.  But by golly, she was swimming that night.  That girl was spot on.  I saw more spunk and confidence than I had seen thus far.

After rehearsal, I told her what a great job she had done and asked what made her come alive like she did.  She said, “I don’t know.  I had my hair all curly and a dress on…I guess I just felt like Annie.”

“I guess I just felt like Annie.”

Kinda profound when you think about it.  She dressed the part, so she felt like the part.  Simple as that.

So, how does that apply to the rest of us?

Granted, I know we’re not all title characters in a musical.  Most of us are just out here floating about in our regular everyday lives trying to make it through the day without any major catastrophes.  But I think I just learned a pretty good lesson from my 13-year-old daughter.  Whatever I want (need?) to be, I just have to dress the part.”

Let’s take my running for example.  Now, I’ve heard a lot of runners have mentioned this before so I’m not alone in this thought process.  Sometimes I just don’t feel like running.  I just don’t.  I know I need to, I know I’ll feel good when it’s over, but none of that matters.  I’m just tired and I don’t feel like it.  But as soon as I put on my running clothes and running shoes…suddenly, I’m transformed.  I went from a lazy bum on the couch who didn’t feel like doing anything at all, to an all-out runner who is raring to go.  It’s that simple.  I dress like a runner, so I feel like a runner.

Now, that’s a literal example.  But maybe this can be applied in a not-so-literal way.  Maybe it’s not always an outfit.

Maybe if you want to be a certain thing, you just have to pretend like you are that thing.  You know?

You want to be happy?  Dress the part.  Slap on a smile and be happy.  The first time you do it, you may just feel dumb…smiling for no reason like that like a big dummy.  But the second time you do it, who knows?  You might actually start to feel a little better.  The third?  Maybe even better.  Eventually your smiles will not only fool other people into thinking that you’re actually happy…you might even start to fool yourself.  How about that?

Dress the part.

You want to forgive someone who hurt you?  Act like you have.  Seriously.  Just act like that.  When those negative thoughts pop into your mind, tell yourself that that person is forgiven.  You don’t have to mean it.  Just say it.  Again – at first, it will feel silly.  You’ll feel like a liar.  But the next time?  Maybe it will feel like a little less of a lie.  The next time?  Even less.  Eventually, maybe it just might not be a lie.  Maybe it’ll even become the truth.

Maybe you can put on that little imaginary cloak of forgiveness and finally – finally – just move on.

Dress the part.

Fill in the blank with whatever you need to fill it in with.  You want to be a more positive person?  Act like you’re a positive person.  You want to be a better friend?  Be a better friend.  You want to trust someone?  Trust them.

You want to love someone?  Love them.

Dress the part.

Start with baby steps.  Then bigger steps.  Then keep increasing your stride until you’re moving at full speed.

YOU alone have the power to change everything.

***

“Endeavor to be what you desire to appear.”
– Socrates

Winds of Change

winds of change

The winds of change.  *Sigh*  They sure do seem to be blowing quite a bit in my world here lately.  Am I building walls or windmills?  Good question.

So, here are some examples of a few of the changes.

Example #1

Yesterday, I watched my beautiful little daughter ‘graduate’ the 7th grade.  See?  Isn’t she gorgeous?

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Where we live, high school starts in 8th grade.  So as of today, I’m officially the mother of two high school students.  Wow.  Talk about change.  Where has the time gone?  That little freckled-face kid is a beautiful young woman.  How did that happen??

Example #2

I’m moving.  Ugh.  Moving is a big fat giant pain the butt, even when it’s for the best.  I’ve done it a million times in my life for various reasons, but it just never gets any easier.  Packing up your life and moving it somewhere else is just plain difficult.  Especially when you’re like me.  I don’t just throw things in a box – I go through them.  Each and every single thing, one by one.  And sometimes that can be a little painful.  Those things that are collecting dust in a box in the corner are there for a reason.  Stirring them up is not always the best idea.  But there are times that it has to be done, and unfortunately, this is one of them.

So…me and my feather duster have some work to do.

Example #3

This is a picture of my beautiful little grandparents taken just a few months ago at my aunt’s house where they were staying for a while until decisions were made about their care.

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And this is the picture my daughter took this past weekend of my mom and I at my grandpa’s bedside in the nursing home.

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Between pneumonia, dementia, and advanced age, changes have hit them and our family in what seems like the drop of a hat.  Walking through their empty house this past weekend (cleared out in preparation to sell for their care), I couldn’t help but feel the change all around me.  And watching my mother and her sisters as they took care of all the details, my heart just broke for them.

Change, man.  It can be rough.  I’m tellin’ ya.

I could go on and on listing various little life changes, but I won’t.  Not all are as poignant as aging grandparents and lost childhood, but they’re everywhere.  Life is all about change.  That’s no secret.  We all know that.  And knowing it doesn’t really make it any easier, does it?

But maybe we need to look at that just a little differently.

Yes, life is all about change.  But isn’t change also all about life?

Think about it.  As long as things are changing, then you’re still alive.  You’re still on this crazy ride.  Your heart is still beating.  You’re still laughing, crying, living, losing, loving.  While change can be difficult, it’s so important to remember that it’s happening for a reason.

Yes, my baby girl is growing up.  That’s a good thing.  She’ll never crawl into my lap with her baby dolls again, but she’ll go on to have her own little girl to crawl into her lap.  It’s life.  And it’s beautiful.

Yes, I’m digging through old memories during the stress of a move.  But in doing so, I’m also getting rid of some of the old baggage that might have been weighing me down.  And I’m deciding what needs to remain and packing it up for another day.  I’m simplifying my life and moving on to better things, a little lighter in the process.

Yes, my grandparents are in a different phase of their life.  And it’s very, very hard on the rest of us.  But it is strengthening bonds in the ones left behind.  Some of the family is banding together and taking care of what needs to be taken care of.  They are sharing their sorrows, helping each other through.  Coming together at a time when they need each other.  Showing their strengths in the midst of others’ weakness.  And when the inevitable time comes that my grandparents pass on, they will do so knowing that the ones who truly loved them took care of them in the end.

Yes, change sure is hard sometimes.  But – if things are changing, you’re still breathing.  See it for what it is, embrace it, do the best you can with what life is handing you, and just keep moving forward.

Let’s build some windmills, shall we?

***

“Life is a series of natural and spontaneous changes.  Don’t resist them – that only creates sorrow.  Let reality be reality.  Let things flow naturally forward in whatever way they like.”
-Lao Tzu

The Beholder

“Beauty is simply reality as seen with the eyes of love.”
– Evelyn Underhill

Last week, I wrote a blog called Self-Image (Click here to read).  In this blog, I mentioned that my friend, Iman Woods, who is a blogger with 8 Women Dream, had decided to use myself and my boyfriend Richard as “guinea pigs” for an upcoming article on women and their self-esteem.  Most of this was kept secret to me.  I honestly didn’t know what she was asking him or how he was responding.  (Have I mentioned that I’m in love with the quietest man on earth??  Dude can seriously keep a secret.)  All I knew was that I needed to pick out five pictures of myself – three that I particularly liked and two that I did not – and critique them.

My friend’s blog posted this morning.  Check it out here.

Wow.

My friend asked for my thoughts on this and to tell her what I think, and I’m not even sure what to say.  For once, this ol’ gal is somewhat speechless.  However, I’ll try.  I know nothing I say will truly convey how much this article affected me, though.

First of all, after reading this article, I’ve decided that I sure do seem kind of silly.  All of those little things that I worry about and obsess over?  The man whose attention and attraction I am hoping to gain has never even noticed them.  How crazy is that!?  I hope other women read this and take from it the same that I took from it.  We really need to stop this needless obsessing over little ‘flaws’ and ‘quirks.’  Sometimes we may be the only one who is seeing them.  As Richard says in the interview, “In my experience, most people (ALL dudes) pay more attention to the ‘big picture’ and not each individual detail.”

I think I needed to hear that.

Secondly, something that Iman said in her opening comments of her article really stood out to me.

“Changing our bodies isn’t as effective as changing our minds.” 
– Iman Woods

How much truth is there to that!?  If my smile was somehow magically straightened, would I think I’m suddenly beautiful?  If the gray disappeared from my hair or a six-pack appeared on my stomach – would that fix my self-image?  Nope.  It sure wouldn’t.  I have to see myself as beautiful just the way I am.  Just like Richard does.

Which brings me to this.  Most importantly, this article has shown me something that I really needed to see.

Richard loves me.

This man really, truly loves me.  And it has nothing to do with my crooked smile or the color of my hair.  He loves me from the inside out.  And isn’t that what it’s all about?  Isn’t that all we want?  For someone to look at us, and really see us…and then to fall in love with what they see?

I’m such a lucky girl.  I am loved…and I am beautiful.

And you know what I’m willing to bet?  So are YOU.

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***

“Beauty is not in the face; beauty is a light in the heart.”
– Kahlil Gibran

Dear Me

“A photograph is usually looked at – seldom looked into.”
– Ansel Adams

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I found this old theatre photo of myself as I was digging through a box of photographs over the weekend.  This is from the play “Fiddler on the Roof” and shows me pictured with my ‘stage-husband’ John.  We were 22 and 20 at the time the photo was taken.  I knew John would get a kick out of this as well, so I sent it to him.  After the initial “wow, that takes me back” kind of comments, we both started to realize how much has changed since this photo was taken.  Or rather, how much we have changed.  And in the conversation that ensued, John said something that really made me think. 

Looking at that younger version of himself in the photograph, he remarked, “There is SO much I want to tell that kid.”

Yeah.  Me too. 

So, I think I will.

***

Dear Me,

Wow.  Look at you.  You look like such a little girl; and yet, you’re a 22-year-old married mother of two.  How is that even possible!?  You look so innocent and clueless.  Oh yeah, now I remember. 

You are.

You’re 22-years-old and you’re living in a life that you don’t even recognize.  Just four short years earlier, you moved back to the small area where you were born, after having lived in a multitude of different places due to your military background.  In fact, you had just moved here from a whole separate country.  And you’re feeling just a little lost.

And wow – those past four years have been a whirlwind!  At 18, you were declared to be in remission from the cancer you just battled.  At 19, after finding out you were unexpectedly expecting, you delivered your first child – a beautiful redheaded baby boy.  At 20, you got married, even though you knew it wasn’t the best thing for you to do at the time, but the pressure from family convinced you that you should.  At 21, you delivered redhead #2 – a little girl this time.  And now, here you are in this picture.  22 years old. 

You’re confused.  You’re rebelling.  You’re unsure of yourself.  In fact, I hope you don’t take offense to my saying this, but you’re pretty much a total mess.  And you know it.  But here’s what I want you to know.

It’s ok.

Really.  It’s ok.  Holy crap, kiddo, you’re 22 years old and you’re an unhappily married mother of two kids already.  And a cancer survivor to boot.  No wonder you’re overwhelmed.  No wonder you look for your escape in this world of theatre where you can be anyone you want to be.  No wonder you’re a little bit lonely…there’s not many people your age who have these kinds of things on their shoulders.  You’re different.

And I know you know that.  It’s painfully obvious in all that surrounds you.  But I wish you knew that being different is ok.

In fact, one day, being different is what you’re going to like best about yourself.  You’re going to realize that all that you went through at such an early age made you grow up a little faster than most.  You’re going to realize that you have a deep sense of responsibility because of it.  That you have a deep empathy for others because of it.  That you are drawn to the theatre because it’s filled with others who are just like you.  Right now, you struggle with being involved with the theatre because people in your world tell you that it takes too much of your time.  And that’s not going to change, I’m afraid.  But one day – you won’t care.  One day you’ll come to realize that the reason you’re drawn to this is because it makes you feel like you’ve found your way home.  You’ve found your little island of misfits and it’s where you belong.  No need to try to fight it just because others don’t understand. 

It’s ok.

And your marriage…oh, you poor girl.  He is a good man, and you know he is.  But he’s not the one you were supposed to marry.  And unfortunately, you know this too.  Yes, you do end up breaking his heart.  But I promise you, he’s going to be ok.  And you know something strange?  Even though you’re getting ready to be divorced within the next year, the two of you will end up getting past all of this.  And one day, years from now, I think you’re even going to consider each other friends.  You’re going to work together to raise those little redheads and, even though you’re going to feel overwhelmed at times and feel like you don’t know what the heck you’re doing, they are going to grow up to be some really awesome teenagers.  And the two of you are going to work pretty well as a team in parenting them when the need arises.  I know you don’t want to be so young and already divorced, but I promise you it’s the right thing to do.  I wish you wouldn’t fight it so much.  Sometimes things happen and those things are going to disappoint you.  And sometimes you’re going to have to disappoint others.  But it’s part of the life process, my dear. 

It’s ok.

You’re going to spend the next ten years or more trying to mold yourself into what you think some guy wants.  And that’s sad.  None of your relationships are going to work out because you’ll be so busy trying to be someone you’re not.  Somewhere along the line in the midst of the unique way you grew up – moving from town to town – you somehow mistakenly learned that you have to mold and change yourself to fit your environment.  And this has transferred itself over to your relationships.  I wish you could stop that.  No matter how much you try to fit that square peg into a round hole, it’s not going to work.  You’re going to get your heart broken quite a few times because you’re just going to keep trying and trying to be what people want, rather than just be who you are.  I wish I could stop you from that.  It’s going to be turmoil, and it’s going to make you constantly feel like you’re not good enough.  Oh, how I wish you could know what I know now.

It gets better.

One day, you’re going to finally figure out who the heck you are.  And guess what?  You’re going to realize that you kinda like what you discover.  And you’re going to realize that the best relationships – the real relationships – are the ones with the people who like you.  Not just the ones who love you (you’ll be loved a few times over the years, I promise), but with the ones who like you.  The two don’t always go hand in hand, ya know.  (That’s a very hard lesson to learn.)  But when they do – oh, when they do – it’s nothing short of magical.  Wait for it, sweet girl.  Wait for it.

You’re going to be fine, kid.  You think you won’t right now.  But you will.  You’re smart; you’re funny; you’re talented; and you’re determined.  Those are some unbeatable qualities.  Give yourself credit for them.  They’re going to serve you well.

Now, get back on that stage and do what you love.  Oh, and while you’re at it, give that kid beside you a big hug.  Because even though you may not realize it right now, one day he’s going to be one of your closest friends.  Because you know all of that turmoil that’s going on inside you now?  He’s feeling it too.  And one day, years down the road, the two of you are going to reconnect as adults.  You’re going to realize that you were both going through similar processes way back then – both wading through a sea of outside influences and feeling uncomfortable in your own skin.  You’re both going to finally come to terms with and accept the ways that make you different from some of the others.  And in accepting this, you will see that what makes you different is actually what makes the two of you the same.  And the older you get, the more you’re going to realize that those kinds of connections are rare and precious.  And they’re the only ones that matter.

Keep up the good work, kid.  I’m proud of who you’re becoming.

Love,
Me