Tag Archive: perspective


Forgiveness in Fred Meyer

I had the most interesting experience today in the most unexpected place. My younger son was invited to a birthday party happening today (and he gave me the invitation yesterday) so I decided to save on gas and just get the gift on the way to the party. We were running a bit behind (I blame facebook) and dropped him off first so he wouldn’t be late then headed to the nearest store that sells toys which happened to be Fred Meyer. After I found the gift I walked around a bit to kill some time and ended up in the garden section. As I was looking at all the interesting plants and flowers, thinking about life and my kids and what I was going to write about next, I suddenly found myself in the indoor plant section.

Out of the corner of my eye I spotted a small jade plant, the only one left on the shelf. I instantly felt nostalgic because when I was growing up in my grandparents’ house there was a jade plant sitting on the kitchen table in front of the window. I loved that table because my grandfather made it himself and it was strong and sturdy with lots of scratches and dents from years of use. It had character just like my grandfather. I loved the jade plant, well, just because. I remember my grandmother taking care of it and watering it. I guess I would consider it her plant. The photo to the right is of me standing next to the table. That’s not the jade plant there, but I remember it loving it, too.

If you haven’t read my other posts that go into the relationship I had with my grandmother you may be forming a picture in your mind of a sweet old lady caring for her plant and smiling at me as she lovingly poured water into the pot. Yeah, not so much. Sure, she loved the plant, but there was no tender bond between us. Because of that and all the things she did to me over the years I’ve struggled with feelings of hatred toward her. At some point I stopped actually hating her and those feelings were replaced with indifference. I forgave her on some level and found peace with it. There’s no way I could’ve let go of the hatred if I hadn’t. But today, after years and years of nothing particularly new in my view of her or how my childhood affected me, something very strange happened.

As I stood there looking at the jade plant I suddenly felt we had a connection, a bond between us. My grandmother, not the plant. Don’t get me wrong, she passed away years ago and my personal belief system and understanding of the Bible does not include people going straight to heaven or wherever and looking down or up at us, but that they are waiting, knowing nothing for now as if in a deep sleep. So I’m not saying it was some spiritual connection from beyond the grave. I just mean that I can finally see her as someone I have something in common with. Something that, if she were still alive, we could share and talk about. I am able for possibly the first time in my life to see her as a person completely separate from all the crap that happened between us.

It’s as if a veil was lifted and I can now clearly imagine her growing up, having hopes and dreams. She had friends and boyfriends. Things she liked and disliked. Things that made her laugh so hard she cried. She was a person, not a monster. She just wanted what the rest of us want, what I want…a happy life with a loving family and to feel like she had a purpose in the world. It wasn’t her fault that all that was taken away from her when she too became the victim of abuse. Sure, it would’ve been nice if she had dealt with it and found healing instead of trying to hide it and eventually take it out on me. But that didn’t happen. And that’s ok. I am who I am because of everything I’ve been through.

As I stood there I felt a strong wave of what I can only describe as pure love pass through me. I’m not wanting to sound like a crazy person here. If you’ve ever experienced it you know what I’m talking about. I felt forgiveness on a much deeper level than ever before and could actually imagine myself genuinely smiling at her and hugging her, not because I was being forced to like all those years growing up, but because I want to. I want to tell her I’m sorry, not like all the times I had to because if I didn’t I’d suffer the consequences, but for everything she went through that made her the way she was.

So there I was in the indoor plant section of Fred Meyer having some kind of major breakthrough and thinking, “Wow, I actually love my grandmother,” with people all around me having no idea what was going through my head and heart. I wasn’t planning on buying anything other than the gift for the party, but I just had to have one more thing…

…oh, and a pack of watermelon gum. 😉

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Hard to Say I’m Sorry

For as long as I can remember I’ve had a hard time apologizing to people and I know exactly why. I’ve mentioned before that I grew up in an abusive home after my parents divorced and my mom and I moved in with my grandparents. Though she did not have a job, my mom kept herself quite busy out and about which meant I spent a lot of time with my grandmother. I don’t know the details, but it seems my grandfather essentially rescued her from a bad family situation when he married her. Translation…she had a lot of issues. And it seems she took those issues out on me. I was not the perfect child. I’m sure I had my moments that would drive any parent crazy. But I did not deserve the treatment I got. No child should ever feel afraid in their own home because of their own family.

More often than not, those times when my mom was gone and my grandfather was either gone or in the basement working on his inventions turned into episodes of violence and intimidation. It was like she had two completely different personalities, like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. One minute she’d be out of control, screaming and hitting and pulling my hair, and then the phone would ring and she would answer in the sweetest voice as if everything was just fine. No one outside our home had a clue…and neither did my mom. Every time she came home my grandmother would make sure to get to her first so she could tell her version of the day’s events. That always resulted in me having to apologize to her and tell her I loved her. Even as I’m sitting here typing this my heart is racing as those memories I normally choose not to dwell on are still vivid, like it just happened yesterday.

So I hope you can understand why I have a hard time apologizing. Over time it’s gotten easier, but it’s most difficult with the people I’m closest to, my family. My early experiences definitely created a roadblock or wall which, to others, probably looks a lot like a stubborn streak. It’s just not always easy to separate those times when I was forced to say I was sorry when I really, really wasn’t from the times when I want to say I’m sorry because I really, really am.

Now that I’m a parent and trying with all my might to make sure my kids have a better childhood than I did, I’ve started to try to see our life through their eyes. What is it like to wake up in their beds with me standing in the doorway telling them they need to get up? How do they truly see me as I’m pushing them through their morning routines? I know they’re not afraid which is truly a wonderful thing, but do they mostly see me smiling or frowning? Do they really know how much I love them and appreciate how great they are even if getting them to do their chores is like pulling teeth?

Thinking about all these things has made me realize that I have to consider the possibility that my grandmother never, ever asked herself how she looked in my eyes. She was always so concerned with how everyone else saw her and our family. She made it very clear that I was never to tell anyone what went on in our home. Obviously on some level she knew it wasn’t ok, but I think it’s possible that she really didn’t understand how bad it actually was and how much damage she was doing. Maybe because of her past it all seemed fairly normal, just nobody else‘s business. Or maybe she so identified with the person everyone else thought she was, she just assumed no one would ever see her differently no matter what she did.

I’m in no way saying it was ok, but now I’m seeing how easy it is to behave in certain ways without realizing how we’re coming across to those around us. And let’s face it, our family sees us at our worst. There are days when I’m grumpy and irritable and make very little effort to think before I speak, but somehow when I’m around other people I manage to control myself. Sometimes I can be impatient with my boys because I know they’re smart and capable of so much. Yet I would never speak to someone else’s child in the same tone of voice.

So I ask myself again, what does life look like from their perspective? Do they see a mom who is loving and happy and cheerful most of the time? I actually am very happy with my life now, but I wonder if that’s what they see or if most of their interactions with me have a negative tone. When I talk to them about life and how to navigate through it with goals and a positive attitude do they see how passionate I am about making sure they understand because I want what’s best for them or do they just see it as nagging? Other people say I inspire them (which is extremely humbling considering how I’ve lived most of my life), but do I inspire my kids or do I make them feel like I’m not happy with them the way they are?

You may be reading this thinking I’m beating up on myself, but I’m really not. I’m just trying to ask some hard questions because the last thing I want is to be one person to everyone else and another, completely different person to my family. When I really concentrate and imagine that I’m each of my boys I see a picture of me that I’m not entirely happy with. And that’s great! Not because I haven’t always been perfect, not one of us has, but because I can see clearly where I need to improve and what I need to apologize for. Not once when I was growing up in my grandparents’ house did my grandmother ever apologize to me. And it didn’t happen after I grew up and she mellowed out a bit, either. What a difference a simple “I’m sorry” would’ve made. Not a meaningless one, like all those I said to her over the years, but one from the heart knowing she needed to do better.

I guess part of me has always felt like apologizing is a sign of weakness, but now I know I couldn’t be more wrong. It takes courage to be willing to look at ourselves and come to terms with the fact that we have things to be sorry for, especially with our families. They see us at our worst and love us anyway. That doesn’t mean we should take advantage of the situation and continue on as we have been. It means that they deserve to know that we “get” how much we’ve hurt them even if we didn’t realize it at the time. They deserve to know how much we appreciate them for always being there through the good and the bad. And I can’t think of a better way to show our love and appreciation than by saying I’m sorry…and meaning it, no matter how hard it is.

My Beautiful Mom

Since it’s Mother’s Day, I wanted to share a photo of my mom when she was a little younger than I am now. I lost her to breast cancer that spread throughout her body because it wasn’t diagnosed and treated in time. She passed away on July 7, 1998, just a few weeks before my husband and I were married. She was one of the most generous, creative people I’ve ever known who always chose to see the good in others and had an amazingly beautiful singing voice (which unfortunately was not passed on to me). She even spent time touring with the Metropolitan Opera Company.

I wish my kids had the chance to get to know her and that I could’ve shared the joys and sorrows of being a mom with her. Goodness knows I put her through a lot and I’d love to be able to show her that I see things from a different perspective now. I may not do things exactly the same way she did, but I can say that I understand why she did what she did because of who she was and what she’d been through. We should be good to our moms because they’re imperfect people trying to do the best they can, loving us the best they know how.

One of the main purposes I have for writing this blog is to get people to do something different, to make positive changes. Since my facebook page is closely related to my blog I thought it would be fun to have daily challenges, “assignments” that are designed to get people to see life from a new perspective and improve their world. The categories are Family, Fitness, Food, Finances and Fun. The first challenge was posted this past weekend and it involved letting your family know how much you appreciate them. Today’s challenge was to find an organization or charity that means something to you and donate your time or money. I believe one of the most responsible things you can do with your money is to use it to help others. And even if you don’t have as much money as you would like, you have time. It’s just a matter of priorities.

I hope you’ll join us. Just go to my facebook page and click “like” at the top to receive the posts for each new challenge in your facebook news feed. If you have a suggestion for a challenge, please leave a comment below! I’m always open to suggestions.

This morning I asked my facebook friends what the weather is like where they are and most answered that it’s cold and snowy. That’s not the case here! Today started out bright and sunny with a cool breeze and has stayed that way…for now. So even though I only got 5 hours of sleep last night I just HAD to get outside for a walk, especially since the forecast is calling for more rain this weekend. At first I thought I’d just make it a quick one, but once I got out in the sunshine and fresh air I felt energized and did my usual loop down by the river and over to Alton Baker Park. Everything looked so vibrant and I was reminded why I love yellow or green and blue together. Well, actually I love pretty much any color against a bright blue sky.  It makes my heart happy. 🙂

Of course, I took a photo of “the tree”. It’s just hiding.

See the tiny black dot at the top of the middle tree? I would’ve totally missed it if it hadn’t been chirping. Yes, it’s a bird. A tiny, tiny bird that couldn’t have been more than 2in tall.

Here’s a shot of the bridge similar to one I took before, but this time there were gorgeous magenta flowers blooming. I love Spring!

The lack of water across the low part of the path allowed me to shoot the underside of the bridge. Interesting combo of metal plates and wood.

The beautiful day was bringing everyone together with one purpose…enjoy the sunshine while it lasts! I can honestly say I’ve never seen skaters on the path before (though I did see two people on giant unicycles once). It was a nice change from the usual cyclists and runners.

More trees…and ferns.

Pretty big cedar. I love how you can see the streaks of purplish wood through the bark.

This has to be one of my favorites. I took it looking straight up at the branch.Looking back at the same tree.I started noticing more interesting people on the path. I’ve never seen anyone carrying a purse before…or walking so close to the left side. I was a little concerned she’d get knocked over by someone on a bike coming around a turn.

Then I was passed up by a jogger. Pretty typical I guess, but I was happy to have some people in the photos.

Hey look! More trees! Seriously, though. How can this not make you smile? It’s as if it’s exploding with green.

This is the same tree that a few weeks ago only had leaves on the bottom branches. It reminds me of my first son who, when he was a baby, went a long time with hair only around the bottom and sides of his head and nothing on top. He kind of looked like a little old man. Fortunately, it all grew in. 😉

Oh, look! More people! I started getting a bit pickier about who I photographed. I only turned around and took their picture after they passed by if they smiled when we met on the path.

He was my favorite. Seemed to be quite a character. He was under the tree with the ferns.

There was no way to get a good shot of the most interesting couple I encountered without being too obvious. It’s not the two who are walking on the path, but the two looking at the map in the background. She was wearing a yellow and black dress that looked like it was designed for line dancing on Broadway and he was wearing a black and silver shirt with black pants. I wasn’t sure where they were going, but I don’t think they were anywhere near their destination. Pretty much anything goes in Eugene so not much shocks me, but yet they still seemed out of place. Gotta love it!

And back to the trees.

If swarms of ants make you uncomfortable, scroll past this next one quickly.

I had a few thoughts along the way, though I was mainly just enthralled by the beautiful weather. Since it wasn’t raining I was able to look up without being pelted in the face and some of my favorite photos were taken from that angle. I think it’s good to always remember to look up and see things from a different perspective. Too often we get caught up in ourselves, looking inward, and we miss the bigger picture. And even if we think we’ve seen something before, a second look can reveal a change in the situation. Spring is the time for new beginnings so why not try something new or decide to look at life from a different angle. You might be pleasantly surprised by what you find.

 And one last observation…people are curious and we all have influence because of it. Every time I stopped to take a picture, the people near me on the path looked in the direction I was pointing the camera even though they had no idea who I was or what I was doing. Those around us will naturally be drawn to the things we focus on. If we want to draw attention to negative things we simply have to make that our focus, but if we want to show people the good things in life that’s what we need to be paying the most attention to ourselves. And since our families see us all the time, it’s even more important to focus on the right things.