Monday, May 28, 2012

Memorial Day Honors for Dad

Photo of my father as a baby sitting with his father and mother.

It's Memorial Day and I'm thinking about my dad. He died several years ago on May 2, but Memorial Day conjures up complicated emotions for me because he was such a proud Marine.  From the time of my first memories, I somehow knew this about my father, despite the fact that he had been retired for many years prior to my birth.

He wore his Marine Corps ring as proudly as his thick head of hair and flew the US flag outside every house he ever lived in.  He had military lapel pins and his behavior bore more permanent traces of his indoctrination - a penchant for tidiness and a concomitant disdain for clutter, a commitment to regular physical exercise, a lack of patience for laziness and a stark fear of things he couldn't control.  This fear didn't look like fear on my father, though, it looked like rigid boundaries, sharp edges and short leashes.  It looked as though he had everything figured out and he wanted to avoid wasting time by telling us all how to do it, everything, Life.

I don't know how old I was when I learned he had been in Vietnam and there were so many stories running through our lives as our family imploded, it was hard to find reality among the golden threads woven in to catch our attention.  In some stories he was a helicopter pilot, in others he flew planes.  There were always model planes around the house and Dad had a jumpsuit in his closet he referred to as his "flight suit."  After the divorce when Mom's bitter hurt led her to discredit him at every turn in order to craft a world for us where there were winners and losers, Right and Wrong (and she was the "Right,") she scornfully told us that he had been a mechanic - he had never flown planes or choppers. That he was a pathological liar.  I was so angry at his leaving that I sopped up every story and let myself choose her side.

As a young mother, I read Tracy Kidder's book "My Detachment" about his tour of duty in Vietnam and I recall being physically struck with heartache at what so many young men of my father's generation experienced. My father and I had recently begun creating a new relationship founded in our present-day lives where we were both there because we wanted to be, not because I needed him and he had to be there. After I finished the book, I wrote him a letter full of what I hoped would come off as compassion and love.  He had never talked about his experiences in the war and he didn't seem to have any ties to people he had served with. While he identified as a Marine, it was in a fairly generic sense and he didn't appreciate inquiries about the details of his service in Vietnam.  In my letter, I said that I understood why he didn't want to revisit those memories and I didn't want him to talk about them, but I hoped he knew how badly I felt for the kid he was - newly married, newly graduated from college with a fresh start ahead of him thanks to his ROTC enrollment - suddenly yanked a world away to a jungle where his job was to kill other young men.  Where his life was not his own, but was dependent on being in the right place at the right time, with land mines exploding around him and his team members dying right in front of him, not knowing if he would ever get the chance to meet the child his wife carried in her belly.  I can't imagine what that does to someone.

He never answered my letter.

I don't think I expected him to, but I wanted him to know that I felt like it explained a lot.  That coming home to a world that was pretty much the way it had been when he left - with friends meeting for coffee and driving to the grocery store and sleeping on mattresses with clean sheets - and trying to find a way to cope with the memories must have been torture.

He died at the age of 65 from a very aggressive form of lung cancer. This man who had exercised nearly every day of his life, never smoked a cigarette and barely drank alcohol. A man who ate the healthiest foods he could find and didn't drink coffee and had no risk factors for lung cancer.  A man who likely inhaled copious amounts of Agent Orange as it was dropped onto the Vietnamese jungles.

About 18 months after he died his wife gave me some boxes she found in the closet in his office.  They contained slide carousels full of photos and an ancient slide projector I recognized instantly.  There were boxes and boxes of slides, labeled meticulously, and when I got home I set up the projector on the kitchen table and began clicking through the carousels - watching my parents with their 1960s polyester outfits visit places like Cape Canaveral and Disneyland. Looking at shots of birthdays and Christmas celebrations I hadn't seen since the 1970s.  And then I got to a carousel labeled, simply, "Vietnam."  I am fairly certain I didn't take a breath as I dislodged the old carousel and fitted this one on to the projector.  I know I convinced Bubba to take the girls upstairs for a bath.  And then I advanced the first slide.  And there was my father, in his camo greens digging a trench with a group of other boys on a beach.  Click. Tents and cots. Click. Photos of three crew-cut, farmer-tanned teenagers grinning for the camera and flexing their biceps.  Click. My father standing on a paved airstrip next to a US Marine helicopter in his flight suit. A series of shots showed six soldiers loading in to the helicopter, one by one, with their parachutes strapped to their backs.  And then the chopper lifted a few feet off the ground.  I pictured my father standing behind the camera, taking shot after shot as the chopper flew higher and higher.  A few photos later, the chopper was a largeish speck in the blue sky, floating above the ocean and, barely discernable, a somewhat smaller speck on the opposite side of the photo.  Click. the tiny speck gets closer. Click. Still closer. Click. By now it is clear that one speck is chasing the other one. Click. A smoke trail appears in the shot as if someone were drawing a chalk line between the two specks. Click. The helicopter explodes into flames.

I sat down hard. My father filmed his fellow soldiers as their helicopter was blown out of the sky on an impossibly blue day.  Soldiers he had eaten with, built camp with, trained with, laughed with.  He watched them die. And he probably had to go up in a helicopter himself the next day.

Whether or not he believed in the reason he was there, I don't know. I suspect he never really got much chance to think about it. He did what he was asked to do.

When he was alive, I didn't make any special effort to honor my father on Memorial Day or Veterans' Day.  My sole effort to appreciate his tour(s) of duty lay in that letter I wrote to him.  While I disagree with war as a solution to anything, I believe in supporting the individual human beings who serve in the military and I wish I had found a way to let my Dad know I am proud of him.  I am proud of his service in the Marine Corps.  I think he might be watching somewhere now, though, and I hope he can hear me playing Taps for him.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

BlogHer's Next "Getting Happy" Question

Wow - seems like I just did one of these, but here we are again with a new question from BlogHer's Life Well-Lived Series.  This time the question is:

What are your favorite relaxation techniques? And what benefits do you see from practicing them?


In a word? 
Friends.
Face-time with friends.


No matter what is going on in my life, when I look at what makes me relax back in to my own skin and feel good about myself, the single most important and effective technique for as long as I can remember is spending time with friends.  


Taking a bath? Getting a massage? Walking in the woods? Sure those things are all great. So is lighting a candle and remembering to breathe deeply.  Yoga classes almost always leave me with a deep sense of relaxation, both physically and spiritually.  But most of those things are done in solitude (or at least, in the case of yoga, individual practice within a group) and when I'm tense, I can't stand to be alone with myself.  I need to get outside of my own head and out in to the real world where everyone has fears and anxieties and a muffin-top.  I need community.  I need to laugh, to be heard, to explore a new place or share an experience with people I care about.  


Simple things like sharing a cup of coffee with a girlfriend in a busy cafe help me to feel a part of something greater.


More elaborate evenings out with Bubba and another couple or two, catching up on our families and sharing our challenges and successes gives me perspective.


Walking the dog on a sunny day with others allows me to feel connected and cared for.


If I am out driving or walking and see something extraordinary - a great blue heron standing in the middle of the path, or a glorious sunrise - my first instinct is to find someone to tell. That quickening of my pulse, the sharp intake of breath as I recognize the pure beauty in a moment - those things make me want to turn to someone I care for and say, 


"Wow! Did you see that? So cool!"  


I was not built for solitude.  Perhaps in another life I could climb up into a Tibetan cave on the side of a mountain and sit, reflecting on who I am and seeking enlightenment.  In this life, I need people. Inside my own head I can wind myself up into a frenzy, going down paths that bring me farther and farther away from the life I actually have like some psychotic Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book.  I make things much more complicated than they have to be as I opt for one branch after another based on assumptions I have no business making.  Life seems so much simpler when I can fall back in to the easy community of friends who enjoy the same things I do, who want to get together over tea and talk about all things important and trivial, who can nearly trip over a twisted bit of moss that the juncos turned in to a nest and breathe in the wonder of it with me. I always feel lighter and more grounded after being with friends, and I'll take that over a hot bath any day.  


As always, there is an 'expert' answer on BlogHer's site here.
You can also go here to enter the current sweepstakes.  (This time the prize is an iPod Touch.)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Guilt and Judgment and Shame, Oh My!

Why is it so easy for me to talk someone else down from the ledge when they are feeling judged or shamed and so difficult to avoid internalizing those negative messages when they are aimed at me?

Why is it when we find the courage to open up about our insecurities and question our own motives publicly certain individuals see that as an invitation to skewer us with judgment and hatred?

How long will I have to work on my own resilience, reminding myself that nasty comments speak volumes about the person uttering them and not much truth about me?

A few weeks ago I wrote a blog post that exposed some of my own issues around guilt.  The folks who commented here on my blog were supportive and loving and read my words in the spirit in which they were written.  Then BlogHer decided to feature the post in their "Money" section and all hell broke loose.  With a couple of exceptions, most of the comments on the BlogHer site were supportive and insightful.  The theme of the comments on BlogHer's Facebook link to my post, however, was decidedly more nasty.  It affected me physically.  My stomach twisted, my cheeks flushed, and my heart rate sped up.  My mind instantly went in two directions at once: 1. defend, and 2. what portion of what these people are saying about me is accurate?

I have learned enough in my 40 years on this planet to know that going through and rebutting each nasty comment line by line is useless.  While I could defend myself, chances were those people who reacted negatively would just read some nuance into what I wrote in defense that would lead them to attack on another front.  After an hour of sitting with the discomfort that these strangers' words brought up for me, I decided that, for whatever reason, certain people (strangers, all)  had already made up their minds about who I am and weren't likely to be swayed.  I will confess to writing a couple of responses (BlogHer likes its writers to engage with commenters, you know) in which I may have attempted to clarify a couple of points, and others where I thanked those who liked my post.

Yeah, I could have done some more editing before I posted that piece. I could probably have clarified a couple of things or said them in a different way. I could even go back and do that now - changing the original post on my site.  But even if I did, there would be someone out there who could potentially misconstrue.  Even if 99% of the readers agree on what my message was, there could possibly be someone out there who reads something entirely different between the lines.  There is no way to be all things to all people and if that is my goal, I'm going to make myself crazy trying to reach it.  So I have decided to leave it as an example of raw, honest writing that came from my gut,  knowing that it could still get backlash.

To be honest, I was shocked at the way I felt.  I have been blogging long enough to have gotten some unpleasant feedback on my writing, although not much of it attacking me personally.  Bubba reminded me that if I am going to put myself out there in my writing, I have to develop a thicker skin and know that what I see as far as comments comprise both ends of the spectrum and very little in the middle.  Those individuals who chose to comment did so because my message either resonated with them in a strongly positive way or because it really rubbed them the wrong way.  In both cases, their responses have much more to do with them and what is going on in their lives than they do with me and who I am.  The fact is, there are a few people who read and comment on my blog who truly know who I am as a person and the rest are there for other reasons entirely.

It was days before I stopped mining my past for other examples of bad behavior that might bolster the arguments of those who were angered by my post.  It took a long time for me to stop feeling defensive. It helped me to go to the Facebook links for some other featured BlogHer posts and recognize that other writers are getting this same treatment.  In one case, I even felt compelled to write a supportive comment of my own, letting the author know that the snarky comments came from a place of judgment and fear within the commenters that had nothing to do with her.  And when I was done, I pretended that I was that author and I read the message, part of which said, "...so long as you know who you are and you are true to yourself and your intentions, it doesn't matter whether everyone else 'gets it.' And they won't. Some will, but what really matters is that you feel good about you."

And I do.


Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Horizontal Hourglass Theory of Aging

When I was a kid, I don't think I thought much of aging. I can recall thinking that my grandparents were ancient and my parents were just plain old.  There wasn't much worry of mortality in my worldview, but I do remember feeling lucky that I still had the majority of my life ahead of me, wide and expansive. Everyone said I could do whatever I wanted to, be whomever I chose (within limits - my father was a Marine and was big on personal responsibility and 'doing the right thing').  It seemed as though my parents' lives were set in stone. Their careers chosen, families begun.  Other than maybe buying a new car every few years, how were their lives going to change much in the future?

That view was mostly reinforced by mass media - wrinkles were bad, anti-aging products and jazzercise were there to help you look younger and feel younger.  My mother's contemporaries lied about their ages and winked, complimented each other on how 'fresh' they looked when they met at school events.  My father was obsessed with physical fitness and his vanity showed in his crisply ironed shirts and slacks. I blame the shiny shoes on the Marine Corps.  It's no wonder I was convinced that being a kid was where it was at.

I don't know whether things have changed significantly or if, now that I am older ('old' according to my child self) I am more prone to listening to the views of older generations, but it seems that despite the physical challenges, most of the folks I know enjoy their lives increasingly as they age.

"At twenty we worry about what others think of us; at forty we don't care what others think of us; at sixty we discover they haven't been thinking about us at all." Author Unknown
At this point, I am firmly in the "don't care what others think" phase of my life, at least chronologically. I will say that I have a completely different perspective on aging and while there are some things I don't particularly appreciate like sporting both wrinkles and pimples, and discovering new grey hairs on a daily basis, I wouldn't trade where I am for anything.  The notion of going back to childhood or puberty sounds atrocious and I've developed what I call the Horizontal Hourglass theory.

If you lay an hourglass on its side, you will notice two things right off the bat.  First, the sand stops running and settles with some in each of the large sections and a few grains in the chute between.  Second, the middle portion becomes a bridge or channel between the two ends.  That's where I am right now.

The wide open area to the left represents my childhood, not bounded by any particular age range, but more by maturity. This was the time of my life when I could see that thin channel in the center but felt no particular push to get there. More than anything, I felt free to roam and explore, spread my wings and move around.  Once or twice, thanks to circumstances, I found myself shoved in to that center portion, my options diminished to three: forward, back or still. I felt trapped, panicked, out of control.  Somehow I always managed to find my way back to that child world view, seeking someone to take care of me while I licked my wounds and finding possibility for the future.

But at some point I moved in to that center portion voluntarily, choosing to pare down the boundaries of my world and focus my energies on parenting and working in a certain chosen field.  At this point, those close-in walls felt protective and safe.  I cocoon myself within, feeling a certain sense of relief at knowing that I don't have to decide what I want to be when I grow up or which of the myriad exciting things in the world to devote my energies to. For now, my attention is on being the best parent to my children I can be and using any extra time I have to honing my writing skills and dedicating myself to causes for which I have passion.  It is freeing to be released from the extra noise and chatter of other things I don't have energy for at this point in my life.

I can see ahead to a time when I will again forge ahead and live within the expansive space of the hourglass to the far right (politics notwithstanding - I'll always lean 'left').  Once my children have moved into adulthood and become independent I foresee more freedom to structure my days.  I look at my in-laws in their retirement and marvel at the delicate dance they did during the first few years, trying to prioritize how to spend their time.  All of that freedom was disconcerting in the beginning and they had to negotiate preferences (he loves to travel, she wants to stay close to home) and find new activities to explore.

I think what I love best about this notion of aging is that I realize moving through each of the stages is less rigid and more voluntary than I used to think.  And while the wide open spaces at either end might initially sound preferable to the tight, sometimes gritty, quarters in the center, it is in this place where I have learned the most.  It is in this place where the sand sometimes rubs me raw as I grind against it that I have perspective on both sides of me.  Here is where I learned who I truly am and what is most important to me and what I am willing to give up to remain here.  Despite the fact that time marches on and I do continue to age in years, eventually getting to 50 or 60 or 70 years old, because the hourglass is resting on its side, I can choose when to emerge from any one section and move into another.  Right now, frankly, the endless possibilities to my right scare the hell out of me and I am perfectly content to stay where I am. I know that won't always be true, and I am encouraged to know that, when I get there, instead of feeling as though my life is over, even if I suffer physical ailments, my options are many and I will emerge with the wisdom gleaned from years spent in the middle.

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Messing With Mother Nature

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately about toxins.  Mostly, it seems that the topic finds its way to me rather than me seeking it out, and that could be a result of the heightened awareness in the US of just how many chemicals we come in contact with every day.  Whatever the reason, I'm doing my best to examine the issues as rationally as I can without freaking out.  The difficulty for me comes when I bump up against cultural or societal standards that don't jive with what I'm learning - especially in a social setting - and I'm not sure how to proceed.

A few months ago I decided to toss all of my antiperspirant/deodorants and go looking for more 'natural' products.  I had been reading about more and more studies investigating links between aluminum and parabens (both present in the majority of antiperspirant/deodorants) and breast cancer. While there is no 'definitive' evidence yet, the fact that more than half of all tumors found in breast tissue contain either parabens or aluminum or both was enough to make me hedge my bets and find something else.  I did this quietly (although I also replaced both of my daughters' old products with more natural ones and explained to them that I felt like it was better to use more natural products than man-made chemicals) and haven't tried to convince any friends or family to do the same.  I don't want to be obnoxious or presumptuous.

For years now I have bought mostly organically grown foods and avoided milk that is produced by cows who are treated with growth hormones. I spend the extra money for grass-fed beef and free-range, organic eggs and shop as locally as possible.  Again, this is a lifestyle change I have made personally and I don't go out evangelizing or pushing these choices on anyone else for the most part.  One notable exception to that is that I will occasionally share my views with like-minded friends on Facebook, either by 'liking' something they link to or mention or supporting a particular company.

I do feel as though it is challenging to find evidence that is concrete one way or the other in many instances. It often seems as though choosing sides is the American way and once you've decided which team you're rooting for, you have to believe every single thing they say. More often than not, I try to err on the side of not messing with Mother Nature and eschewing products that contain things I'm unsure about.

Ultimately, I don't support companies like Montsanto because I think genetically modifying food products is a recipe for disaster. We may think we've tested these ideas, but we can't know what will happen generations down the line. I agree that finding ways to keep the global population healthy is important, but in my experience, shortcuts almost always lead to disaster down the line.  Manipulating the balance of the ecosystem by giving some plants and animals a leg up over others could (and often has) come back to bite us in the butt.

But I don't like to get in to conversations about these kinds of things.  Especially with people who disagree with me.  Not because I am unsure about the evidence I have for my ideas, but because I am unsure that there is any way to know definitively until it's all over and done.

I will not get my girls vaccinated for chickenpox or HPV. Won't. They also don't get an annual flu shot.  Neither do I. At the risk of sounding like a paranoid consipiracy-theorist, I don't trust the medical model that tells me to put chemicals I know are toxic (yes, they do still use thimerosal - aka Mercury - as a preservative in vaccines) in to my body or the developing bodies of my kids.  I wish I could say that I am 100% certain that vaccines are responsible for many developmental delays and disorders such as autism. I can't. But I think the science that points in that direction makes sense - and I do have a degree in biology with a minor in chemistry, so I have some credibility there.  And I do think that the vaccine manufacturers and the AMA as a whole have a vested, non-impartial interest in continuing vaccine practices.  And I'd rather not look back 25 years from now and regret that I didn't listen to my gut.

Do I want to cite studies and get in to a war of words with someone who is convinced I'm wrong?
Nope.
Will I continue to make decisions I think are best for myself and my family?
Yep.
Will I come to the defense of others who want to do the same?
Absolutely.

So what about developing countries? What about organizations that are doing their best, in an altogether altruistic fashion, to prevent disease in third world countries? How do I support their mission if I don't believe in the way they go about it?  I would love to say I fully embrace the Gates Foundation. But they are firmly connected with Montsanto and dedicated to vaccinating practices.  I love the notion of mosquito nets and tried-and-true contraception/family planning methods.  I can't get behind planting GMO corn and soybeans in a vulnerable country and giving possibly-toxic vaccines to a vulnerable population.  Therein lies the rub.

I do take advantage of many of the conveniences of modern life, many of which I know are not good for the planet (my car, plastic garbage bags, cat litter) or myself (Advil, maxi pads, ice cream). I am not naive enough to believe that I don't benefit greatly from some of the things chemists have concocted over the years.  But I am doing my best to avoid doing more damage than I ought to, both to myself and the planet at large.

So, as much as possible, I will keep my mouth shut and go about living my life the way I think is best. You may wrinkle your nose as I walk past you on a hot, sunny day because my armpits aren't fresh-pear scented, and you may get pissed off that my kid shows up to your school without the full complement of shots, but if you disagree, please just acknowledge my right to make my own choices and do your best to avoid vilifying me for it.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Moving Pains

I am having a little bit of seller’s remorse. I'm having a little bit of buyer’s
remorse. I know that’s perfectly typical when you sell or buy a house, and I’m
trying to keep that in mind as I navigate these difficult emotions.



At first I was caught up in the excitement of finding our new home, so it wasn’t until I started really working hard to get our current home ready to put on the market that I began feeling a little stressed.

The first issues I had, actually, were panicky feelings about the damage we’ve done to this house over the years. The dinged walls, stains on the carpets, places where the kids took a Sharpie to a cupboard door or a pen to the window casing – those all became magnified in my head and seemed like total deal-breakers. The remembrances of septic tank alarms in the middle of the night and standing water in the backyard after weeks of solid rain – those things seemed insurmountable.

And then the listing agent came through the house with her critical eye and tucked all of my favorite things away.   Down came my electric tea kettle – stashed in the cupboard.  I had to pack the fragile blown Easter eggs the girls made one year in school for fear they would break if I simply put them in a drawer and the agent was certain they ought not to be on display.

“It shouldn’t look like you live here.  It should look like someone lives here – someone generic and random, not you. No personal photos. No personalized towels or jewelry, toothbrushes on the counters or worn blankies on the kids’ beds.”

I feel like I live in a model home. And not in a good way.

One day before the Open House, the agent was here with a rag and some cabinet cleaner wiping down all of my kitchen cabinets and scrubbing the wooden pillars on the deck back to white.  She mopped the dog prints off of the front door and asked if we had any touch-up paint for a few spots where the kids had missed the keyhole in their rush to get inside.

She assured me this is what she does with all of her clients and that I shouldn’t feel bad about her nit-picking.

She told me the house looks beautiful and it will show well.

And still, I feel like I am only visiting this place.  This lovely house that has been my home for over ten years.  This place we moved to before Lola was born. The only house she has ever known.

After a busy weekend of showing the house and nine families coming through for Sunday’s Open House, I collapsed in a lawn chair in the backyard yesterday for a few quiet minutes and looked around.

The beds are full of fresh barkdust – still red and cedar-scented.  The flowers the girls and I planted to add some color are all standing tall in their pots, glorious after a few days of warm sunshine.  The deck and front walk are newly pressure-washed and look lighter and fresher than I’ve ever seen them, and the outdoor kitchen is staged to look like Bubba’s heading around the corner with some thick steaks to lay on the BBQ.  This place is gorgeous. This place is home.

Why am I leaving?

I closed my eyes and picture the new house, warm and inviting with hardwoods and sturdy radiators in every room.  The magnolia tree in the front yard was blooming the last time I was there and sunlight was streaming through the leaded glass windows.

I forced myself to think back to last Thursday night when I had to pick Eve up from cross-country in the rain.  Lola and I reluctantly climbed into the car at 4:15 for the trek across the lake and a few minutes later I realized this was likely to be a long journey.  It took us the full 45 minutes to reach Eve’s school to pick her up at 5:00 and the first thing she said when she got in the car, her ponytail dripping steadily into the hood of her sweatshirt, was, “I’m starving!”

We drove back across the lake in the now-rush-hour traffic in the rain and arrived home after 6:00.

This is why I’m leaving.

The new house is 10 minutes’ drive from the school.  I could have been there and back inside
of a half an hour and Eve could have been warm and dry with her belly full by 6pm. 

But I still asked myself, “Am I doing the right thing?’

Of course it is an entirely moot point at this juncture.  We have bought the other house. Closed the deal.  Shelled out the money and the check has been cashed.

Besides that, it’s not “I,” it’s “we.” Bubba signed those papers, too. He looked at the house and fell in love, too. He agreed that moving across the lake was the right thing to do, too.

But I am still compelled to ask, and so I did.

Fortunately, I was able to recall asking myself the same question when we bought this house. And frequently over the years as we were forced to install an expensive sump pump and repair the septic tank and grieve over cats lost to coyotes who roamed the neighborhood, I had occasion to ask again.

As I sat there in the backyard looking back at the beautiful house we live in, I felt good. Ultimately, questions, concerns and all, we took this place and made it in to a home.  We put our O’Driscoll stamp
on it – expanding the outdoor living areas to fit the way we live and interact with friends and family and using every inch of space to enjoy our lives together.  In the end, I feel good that we will all grieve as we move on, that we are all so attached to this place where Lola took her first steps and Eve taught herself to ride a bike, this home where Bubba and I have played a million games of Scrabble and eaten
some of the most delicious meals of our lives.  We have spent evenings shooting baskets with the girls and wicked winters huddled inside near the fireplace when the power went out. We have cleaned up vomit at midnight and laughed until we nearly peed ourselves here.  We have barbecued with neighbors and walked their children to the bus stop and received dinners made with love when Bubba was recovering from surgery.  The girls have gone from making sandcastles and mud pies in the back yard to skateboarding and painting each other’s nails on the deck.  We came in to this place a family of
three with a cat and are leaving as a family of four with a dog, a cat, two hamsters and a fish, richer for our experiences, older and wiser, and ready to move forward to whatever adventures await us next. 





These thoughts gave me hope that no matter where we end up, we will manage to make a home for ourselves that reflects who we are as a family and as individuals.  And while the stage may be different and we may wish we could take some parts of this place with us, it will be exciting to create new spaces where we can live and laugh and play together.  This house, this home, holds a special place in all of our hearts and it will be hard to not be here anymore. It will be difficult to say good-bye.  But like Bubba says, “Once you’ve made a decision, it’s the right one,” and so we will look forward to making our newhouse in the city a home for us as we feel the bittersweet sadness that comes with saying good-bye to this one.


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