Thankful Thursday #????

I cannot begin to count the number of Thursdays I have lived much less the number of Thursdays I’ve been Thankful. Not every one of them, for sure. I think the state of grateful/thankful comes from a conscious decision be grateful. It should be natural, but since we’re imperfect humans, it isn’t something that comes easily sometimes. Trust me, things went terribly wrong for me for many years, and even being happy was hard sometimes. Not because I wasn’t grateful, but because my life wasn’t very secure.

Part of that comes from being codependent from environment and example. It’s all my mom’s family knew, and it’s what I knew growing up. We had to do things a certain way for Mom to be happy. If we didn’t, there was heck to pay. Since she was an adult child of an alcoholic(s), she learned early if she could control the environment around her, she could predict a good outcome. If it was only that easy. She practiced what she though worked for her. She taught her little sisters how to do the same things. It’s all she had, and for a number of years, she was all they had.

I’m not mentioning all this for pity or to point fingers at people and place blame. It’s factual and it’s healthy to recognize what went on and how it affected everyone. I’ve mentioned it before, and still like to check in on myself with a Hazelden Meditations book, “Days of Healing, Days of Joy.” I was freed once I recognized our mom’s alcoholism and how I had patterns of mine that were learned.

One huge area of learning for me was fake ideas about love. Of course, the more precious something is, the more it is imitated. Love is precious. The love I have now is so different than the love I thought was real when I was young. I learned most what love wasn’t. It wasn’t sex. It wasn’t letting someone have their way to win favor. It wasn’t spending every minute only with them. It wasn’t expensive. It isn’t worth compromising your principles for. It isn’t forsaking your children.

If it isn’t all those things, what is it?

This is key in any growth

It is enjoying each other’s company when the passion can’t be the same as it was in your 20s. It’s being able to trust. Trust was a huge issue for me. Infidelity isn’t in our vocabulary. It never has been. You know that when you are with someone who has principles. High standards. When you learn you deserve better than what you’ve allowed. When you claim your part of the responsibility for prior mistakes. Once you know better, you must choose differently. If you don’t, it’s on you from then on. Once you see how much better living the new way is, there is no going back.

Love isn’t accepting lies for truth. It isn’t lying for you. It isn’t cheating for you. It isn’t looking the other way while you commit terrible acts. It isn’t the deception you want me to buy into. No one but an alcoholic can fool themselves so well. The trouble with that, is they come to believe their own lies. Their own flattery. Their own cheating. They accuse you what they are doing. They gaslight you. They try to place the blame on YOU, instead of on them. You lose who you are and your own integrity helping them live their lie. No more. Don’t participate in their lie. Your life cannot be their lie. Let the chips fall where they may. If they leave, you know you never had them in the first place, and it’s not your fault. It’s all on them.

These are hard truths to learn and apply to our own lives. Being the truth, there is nothing to buffer it and it does hurt. It hurts like hell sometimes. Your mom may not be who you thought she was. Your brother may not be the kind of person you would pick for a friend, once you look past the lies. Your sister may have to hit their bottom before they see what they’ve done. And none of it is caused by you or is your responsibility. It’s theirs.

With all that said, I do love my family. I can look at every bad relationship I had when I was divorced was because of my uniformed, bad choice. Once I learned, oh boy. Never again. But I need to remain vigilant.

I’m looking to share some truths with my writing. Maybe, just maybe, it will spark something in a young person who needs to come to terms with their own family. It’s all hard. Changing is hard. Growing is hard. Outgrowing your life is painful. Speak the truth, and it will set you free.

A couple years ago at Mom’s Birthday dinner @ Piccolo’s. Left to right: Me, Mom, The Babe, and Tim, my baby brother.

While you’re becoming your best, authentic self, learn to take care of yourself, too. Kindness and consideration are great, and being thoughtful is fabulous, and you need to give yourself all of those things, too. You can’t give what you don’t have. Rest up, rejuvenate, and relax. Then give care to others.

One more thing on the topic of trust. As a single mom, I let my kids know, “I will trust you until I find out I can’t.” I think this led to more honesty on their part. They knew if I lost trust in them, it would only hurt them in the long run. Of course, every kid spoofs their parents. Every kid tries to put one over on their parents. I think there were fewer episodes of that because we always talked things over. They weren’t perfect, but they learned trust was very important.

Have a good rest of the day. Wear a mask, wash up, help out. Let’s all be good to each other. It spreads like a California wildfire if you do. Be careful out there, and I’ll see you again tomorrow. Thank you for reading!

Happy National Dog Day!

This is a day we crazy humans invented to give us a day among others to celebrate our best friends. I’m sure a marketing person somewhere must have had a hand in it, but why not? Just in the 68 years I’ve been on this earth, I have seen a tremendous change in how we treat our pets.

Nine out of ten people from a large family or a farm will tell you the dogs were pets, but weren’t allowed in the house. When we did have a dog, it lived in the basement. She walked outside through the kitchen, and that was it. Those who had pets didn’t visit the vet with them unless something might be really wrong, and if it was terminal, often they took them to the woods and did away with them. I never understood that. But people I know did that. I suppose the expense was an issue? I can’t say. I didn’t like to hear of it.

And then, there was the issue of dogs roaming neighborhoods. They did when I was growing up. Our neighbor, two houses away, had a beautiful Black Doberman Pinscher. Susie was a beautiful dog, but I was scared to death of her. She was so big, and I was afraid of being bitten by any of the loose dogs. I’m glad dogs don’t do that anymore, I was even afraid of stray dogs while walking my babies in the stroller. They would run up and I had nightmares of them mauling my child in the stroller before I could intervene. My ex husband was a letter carrier, and the only dog bite he “suffered” was from a little dog, a bite to the calf. I believe he brought it on himself, but that’s another story.

We had a dog briefly, and it was on a chain tied up, inside our fence, because our mom feared her jumping over the fence and biting a neighbor kid who teased her constantly. One day, she broke the chain, and wouldn’t come in the house. I finally got her in, put her in the basement, Mom called the Humane Society and they came to pick her up. Dutchess, a beautiful German Shepherd, was no longer our dog. I’m sure she was euthanized. Mom had an elaborate ruse she would go to the Army and be a Military Dog in Vietnam. I doubt that happened.

Fast forward a few years, and one day, when Mom went to pick up my brother from work at our uncle’s Auto Parts Yard, Tom came to the car with a puppy in his shirt. Someone brought the pup in, and we were supposed to raise the dog until he reached full size, then give him back to the Auto Parts Yard. He would be one of the Junk Yard Dogs.

Our dad named him Charlie Brown. I didn’t like the dog. I acted like Lucy does with Snoopy. My dad loved him. Since it was a male, he did what male dogs did, and I liked him even less. Ugh! He reached full size alright. About six inches off the ground. Although he was touted as a Collie/German Shepherd mix, they forgot to mention there must have been some Beagle in him. He howled like one. Looked like a Collie, but had Beagle legs, was six inches off the ground. I never bonded with him.

After that, I left home, got married at 18, we bought a house, and I still wasn’t a dog fan. Once my husband left when I was 30, the kids wanted a dog. The neighbor’s dog had pups. Best $10 I ever spent. They had a new responsibility, and they loved Shadow. She lived 16 1/2 years. Just after the Babe and I married, we had to put her down. It wasn’t a month later, the Babe decided my daughter Becky and I needed a dog. We adopted Mocho.

Two years later, in 2000, I became disabled, and we got Mollie. They lived long and were my quilting buddies. They loved my basement studio at our old house. I did too, but it had no window. No good! They were with us until about 2013. Wet then were dog-less until the summer of 2014. Adopted Lexie and Roxie. They had a difficult time, as we were engaged in a lot of health problems with the Babe. They were pretty untamed. Our fault. They still were pretty good pets. They loved moving here to Gretna, where they have a huge yard, fenced-in. I have dubbed it “Raabe Ranch.”

How skinny and little they were at 4 weeks. Mom was sick, so we took them early.

We’ve lost our beloved Roxie, and now keep out gates locked to make the yard more secure for Lexie and our beautiful Goldie. Lexie suffered greatly when Roxie was killed by a car. It was unbearable. Despite another health issue, the Babe decided Lexie needed a companion this time. Goldie is now a year old, and such delightful dog. She’s a handful, but we needed her. She brings a lot of joy. The header photo are a family of wild turkeys who passed through the neighbors yard this morning. Our purebred, Yellow Lab Retriever, stood behind me on the deck and barked. She’s one heckuva bird dog, folks! Worth every cent!

Goldie, like me, loves the Babe to pieces. I, however, do not lick his chin. Just sayin’.

So while we continue our love of man’s and woman’s best friends, join us to be happy with our furry friends. It just gets you outside of yourself to care for a pet. I’m happy to watch our girls love their home and Raabe Ranch, and for little Josie to make her mark on Addison’s and Gavin’s hearts. It’s the best experience when they’re healthy, and the worst experience when you lose them. No one, not even your mom can love you that unconditionally their whole life. Let’s hear it for our best friends!

Thank you for reading and celebrating with me today. I appreciate it so much. Keep the mask up, the hand washing continuous, and be kind, courteous, and helpful to everyone around you. We will get through all of this. We need each other. Be careful out there! See you tomorrow.