Monday Quote: Happy Anniversary

“A wedding anniversary is the celebration of love, trust, partnership, tolerance and tenacity. The order varies for any given year.”  ― Paul Sweeney

I love this quote for all the ways it describes marriage. Today is my thirteenth wedding anniversary and I am every bit as “in love” as I was on that beautiful November day in 1999, but I am also much wiser.

Don’t get me wrong. I knew I was a lucky woman that day. I had found a man who would love, honor and protect. (Plus, he’s smart, funny and handsome to boot.) But I could not have known the “tolerance” and “tenacity” parts of marriage. Life to that point had been pretty easy. We were responsible to no one but ourselves. We both had both our parents and even grandparents. Financially comfortable (even carefree), we liked our jobs. “Love, trust and partnership” seemed like more than enough.

For many years, they were. But other years, we’ve held firmly to tolerance and tenacity. This has been one of those years. My father’s illness and death, my new job, the two ‘tweens in our house – the world of our marriage has not been all flowers and rainbows this year. As I ricochet from one stress point to another, I am grateful for tolerance, for good humor, for patience, and, frankly, for the delicious hot meals on which I can depend each evening.

I recognize that we are among the lucky ones, even in the face of life’s challenges. With a tenacity that startles some people, we have each other’s backs. We are in this life together with deep love, unshakable trust, true partnership, a lot of tolerance and fierce tenacity. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Happy anniversary to my “forever and ever.”

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Monday Quote: I want to fly

You wanna fly, you got to get rid of the shit that weighs you down.”

Toni Morrison, Song of Solomon

Yes, I want to fly.

Not in an Icarus kind of way, but I do want to soar in this life. I want to succeed in my career. I want to write with passion and wit. I want to raise my sons to be fine men. Mostly, I want to embrace endless possibility and run with it instead of running away.

So, via the brilliant Toni Morrison, I ask myself, “What kind of shit is weighing me down?” I can easily identify the two biggies.

  • Self-doubt. I spend too much time asking myself, “Can I do this?” instead of just going for it. I know I have passed up opportunities to fly because I was afraid. I stage long internal battles with my own doubts and fears, giving myself pep talks and motivational speeches.
  • Worry. Different than self-doubt, worry is my favorite form of procrastination. Step by step I worry over every detail that can go wrong. Intellectually, I understand that worry is a useless emotion because it accomplished nothing, but my vivid imagination can be a curse in this department. I can come up with paralyzing lists of what could go wrong. Those possibilities sit in my head, holding me down.

It is time for me to let these bad habits go. I need to drop them on the ground so that I can rise up.  I will stop doubting that my wings will carry me. I will not worry about the turbulence.

I want to fly.

Monday Quote: Fatherhood

I believe that what we become depends on what our fathers teach us at odd moments, when they aren’t trying to teach us. We are formed by little scraps of wisdom.”
Umberto Eco, Foucault’s Pendulum

I have never read Umberto Eco, but I love the “scraps of wisdom” image.

My relationship with my father has not been easy. We wasted too many years trying to make the other fit into some idealized image we held of “father” and “daughter.” Since he wasn’t an everyday presence in my childhood, I didn’t know where to fit him in my life. It never occurred to me that he probably didn’t know the best way to fit in either. I believed he should just accept and adore me on my own terms, flaws and all; but I was completely unwilling to return that favor.

Only as an adult have I come to understand that parents don’t have all the answers. We make mistakes all the time and need our children’s forgiveness and compassion as often as we give it. So, my relationship with my dad still has complications, but we meet each other head on, on the terms we make up as we go, with acceptance and compassion for each other.

And I treasure the odd moments and scraps of wisdom.

I have always understood that you just have to get up and go to work every day. My dad worked for the phone company from the time he was young enough to climb poles and repair lines until well after I was married and he was managing & training large groups of employees. The business name changed from Illinois Bell to AT&T to Ameritech, but my father remained consistent. It’s a lesson I took to heart.

I will always know my dad’s pride in me, which is caught with two snapshots in my mind. The first when I was 10 or 11 years old, performing in my first lead role as Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz. My dad had broken his finger playing softball, but at the end of the show as I looked out at the audience, he was the one person I saw, clapping ecstatically, finger splint and all. The second snapshot is from my wedding day. As I came out of my room ready for church, my dad dropped to his knees and began crying tears of joy. He held my face in his hands and told me I was the most beautiful person he had ever seen.

I have also had the great fortune to belong to a family with intense loyalty. There is nothing my dad wouldn’t do for his brothers and sisters. Our Murguia clan was geographically and emotionally close during my formative years, which gave me a very liberating sense of security. Knowing that someone has your back, always and no matter what, grants you the courage to take risks.

As the mother of sons I am grateful for the little bit I know about fishing. I can bait a hook, thread a bobber and get a fish of a line. Thanks Dad.

These days, my dad is teaching me a lot about grace and faith as he struggles with ALS. I wish that the circumstances could be otherwise, but I admire how has handled this journey from the moment of diagnosis through each step leading up to his decision to turn to hospice care. I know he and his wife have found courage in faith and trust in grace. Those are never easy lessons to learn, and certainly not ones you want to have to teach. But I am grateful all the same.

Happy Father’s Day Dad.

Monday Quote: Friendship

“A friend is one that knows you as you are, understands where you have been, accepts what you have become, and still, gently allows you to grow.”
William Shakespeare

I have often beaten myself up because I am not as good a friend as I want to be. I don’t call as often as I should. I don’t remember birthdays. I frequently need more than I give. And yet, I have remarkable friendships.

My mom used to tell me that all you really need are a handful of people who would help you without question if you called them in the middle in the night and needed bail money. “If you have three friends like that, you pretty much have what you need.”

Over 40 years, I have been lucky to meet and befriend dozens of women and men who meet and really exceed both Shakespeare’s and my mom’s requirements. These people not only understand me, they accept me flaws and all. Some people scoff that I call individuals “friends” whom I’ve not seen or spoken to in years. But I do not need phone conversations or cards to know that I could see Irene or Laura or Ty and know that we could pick up our relationship exactly where we left off. They would (they will) simply get me. I will not need to explain.

Likewise, my “theater friends” who are no longer part of my daily life, still are individuals who watched, encouraged and helped me through some important “growing” years. With them, I share a deep bond that is not easily broken even by geography or time apart. Newer, but not so different, are my “mom friends,” about whom I’ve already written. I even have “book friends,” people whom I might not even know were it not for our love of and passion about reading.

I am truly blessed to have close deep friendships with people who are a part of my daily life. My family, both by blood and by marriage, has listened without judgment, accepted without expectation, and encouraged me to become whoever I want to be. The handful of intimate friends I have managed to keep in my regular orbit have done the same (and apparently not because they don’t have a choice.)

Lately, I’ve come to feel all these friendships in a tangible way. As I have opened up about my new job and changes in my life, I have felt the acceptance, understanding and encouragement of all these friends. Plus, I have no doubt that many, if not all, would bail me out without question. I would do the same.

Thank you friends.

Monday Quote: Memorial Day

Perform, then, this one act of remembrance before this Day passes – Remember there is an army of defense and advance that never dies and never surrenders, but is increasingly recruited from the eternal sources of the American spirit and from the generations of American youth.

~W.J. Cameron

I do not know who W.J. Cameron is (or was), but this is one of the truest Memorial Day quotes I have seen. Memorial Day does not just celebrate the men and women who died many years ago in service to our country. It celebrates the never-ending line of boys and now girls who voluntarily put themselves in harm’s way.

I can speak my mind, vote my conscience, protest in the street, gripe about capitalism and choose where to send my children to school because these Americans defend my rights. The overwhelming majority of servicemen don’t know me personally, but defend me all the same.

English: Picture of graves decorated with flag...

English: Picture of graves decorated with flags at Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day 2008. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I thank all of them today and every day.

Monday Quote: Standing Among the Damned

I feel the reckless abandon of one who knows she already stands among the damned. “Why not, then, another sin?”

Geraldine Brooks, Caleb’s Crossing

Geraldine Brooks is, without any question, the current queen of historical fiction. I have read Year of Wonders, People of the Book, the Pulitzer Prize winning March, and Caleb’s Crossing. This quote stands out because it reflects what she does so well — balance the tragedy and optimism of her characters. She writes strong women and Bethia is no exception. Facing only disappointment, she chooses “reckless abandon.”

If you haven’t sampled Geraldine Brooks, Caleb’s Crossing is an excellent choice.

Which is your favorite?