This is a true story, she really is leaving. Today is the day when we drive almost five hours away, spend one last night together as a complete family in an Airbnb, then drop her off and (here’s the worst part) drive away.
How will I drive away? Well W will be driving because I’ve never been good at driving with blurry eyes.
As I type this impromptu blog post, my heart is crumbling.
My mothering-heart has two beats, her and him. My little man’s heart is breaking too. Tears last night about wanting to hang out with her and her friends…her last hang out, her last ‘playdate’ I explained to him. “But she never plays Mario Kart with me, mom’.
W is being strong but I know he’ll have his moments, not so public possibly.
Alpine Leadership School is the reason, an amazing opportunity. I am so proud of her. I am so proud of the adult she growing into. She’s funny, she’s clever and smart. She is so much smarter than I ever was at her age. That she gets from her daddy.
We get to pick her up on my birthday and bring her home…best present ever! But that’s nine weeks from now, but who’s counting?
She’s walking around our cold morning house in a blanket, singing, as she downloads the last few final songs she can’t live without. She’s happy. I’m happy. Music is the air in her lungs too.
She can’t take her phone. This is a great thing because when you live in your 14-year-old bubble, your phone becomes the only thing you see. Tunnel vision. Her heart is bigger than her phone, a meme, a gif. But sometimes she can’t see beyond her anime obsession.
Because she also loves her books, I don’t beat myself up as her parent. She has almost a whole suitcase packed of books. I lost count while helping her pack–this she gets from her mama.
We will be pen pals. She will learn to put pen to paper. 4 pm is when the post is delivered at the school. 4 pm will be a happy time for her as I will write her often, for me.
So if you see me around without my usual smile, give me a hug, I’ll need it.
At my house, we grew up eating ‘Wash Day Soup’. From memory, it was cooked vegetables cut up and served in warm milk. I know right. I’m sure there was more too it but it’s a recipe I never asked for because I was not a fan. It was my grandmother’s invention because back then, doing the wash took an entire day of scrubbing and handwashing clothes. This soup was the only thing of hers that didn’t agree with me.
My grandma made it once a week on washing day for her family when my mom was a girl and in turn, my mom made it for us. She made it because it was easy, fast and cheap but mostly she made it because of the memories. I remember the first time my mom made it for us:
“Mom’s whats for dinner?”
“Wash Day Soup.”
I was sure it was made from the water she just used to wash our dirty clothes.
We all ate it begrudgingly but we loved listening to my mom’s stories of when she grew up on the farm. The most famous one being the time my grandpa made her drive the tractor when she was 5-years-old. She had to stand on the pedal to make it go but when she started going out of control she didn’t know what to do. Her older brother (who was only 9 at the time), had to quickly run alongside the tractor and pull her off. Once she was off the pedal, the tractor stopped in its tracks. Such a different world to the world I was growing up in. In my mind, I imagined her growing up on Little House on the Prairie…a show my own children have never watched.
Like most families, especially Mormon families, we all gathered together at my grandma and grandpa’s house on Sunday nights.
After church, we’d change out of our church clothes, have dinner then the six of us would pile into the car. My mom would drive all the way up 3900 South, she never took the freeway. When we got to Foothill Drive there was a massive hill we needed to conquer. It was best to get a running start at it. My mom would always try to make the green lights but even if we made the lights I would close my eyes, hold my breath and say a silent prayer every single time we drove up that hill. I knew one day our old brown wood-paneled station wagon would fall backward on top of itself with us in it.
If we were the first to arrive we would score a parking spot in the driveway. Grandma always holding the front door open and greeting us with a big smile and open arms. I embraced her hugs as everything was always better in her arms. She made me feel like I was the only thing that mattered in the whole world. I had lots to tell her and she always listened happily. Grandpa would quack and wink at me. He was always dressed in his ‘coveralls’ ready to do another job around the house. He hardly ever sat still. Grandma would take us into the kitchen to make us our favorite snack…white buttered bread with a dusting of sugar on top. By the time we finished our snack the other cousins had arrived and were there waiting for Grandma to make theirs. We would run downstairs to play because we didn’t want to hear grandpa’s grumpy comments about how loud we were. “Oh Don, they are just kids. Let them play” grandma would say.
My grandpa always lived his truth. He went to bed early and woke with the birds. I’m an early riser, just like he was. He was hardworking and incredibly smart with his money. Some people might say frugal but I say smart. He was never a businessman but had a head for business. He never really spoke about his feelings but showed love in other ways. When his heart was touched he was the first to cry and not a silent cry. The first time I saw this I didn’t know what was happening. The sobbing would start and finish within a minute. We all just gave him his space because in a few minutes he would blow his nose (sounding like a trumpet) and start grumbling about something else to change the subject.
He loved my grandma so much he built her a three bedroom double story house x2. He built a duplex but it felt more like a mansion. They occupied one side while tenants rented the other. I remember they were an older couple who never had any grandkids come to visit. My grandpa was not a big chatter but what he had to say was always important like, “Kaylynn when it comes time to buy a house, buy a duplex because the rent from the other side pays your home loan”, I think I was 10-years-old.
My Grandma’s house was amazing. The biggest yard to run around in, a laundry shoot, a sewing nook, two living areas, built in plant boxes above the stairs, a big basement to make up games in, a downstairs chest freezer (all good things came from the freezer) and the way she decorated it for Christmas was magic. We spent all holidays there, together. My grandpa built the house for all of us.
They only had the two kids at home by the time my grandpa built the house. The three older kids were married and started families of their own. There was grandma and grandpa’s room, Aunt Glenda’s room and Uncle Larry’s room. By the time I came along, my aunt and uncle had moved out with families of there own, however, their rooms always remained the same. When no one was looking, I always snuck into Aunt Glenda’s room to see the big pink teddy bear and into Uncle Larry’s room to see the covered wagon lamp.
My grandma had a big rose garden with every colored rose. In the middle of the garden was a statue of a little black bear. Once, I walked into the kitchen to see my cousin Heidi crying and the mom’s tending to her cuts and scratches all over her legs and arms. When I asked what happened, Heidi said: “I wanted to pat the bear”.
My grandpa made my grandma a sewing nook. You opened two doors to reveal a sewing oasis. It was beautiful and orange. It had a built-in sewing machine, a table that extended out into the room and shelves of boxes to keep her sewing stuff in. My grandma covered the boxes with a black and orange fabric. Everything matched. The boxes were full of patterns, needles, fabrics and threads of every color. On the shelf, she also had big jars full of buttons. Every type of button. Gold ones, diamond ones, shiny ones and colored ones. Sometimes she would let me pick a favorite, a treasure to take home. I would watch her sew. Fixing tears, patching holes and picking the hem out of my pants so I could get more wear out of them. She said to me. “Kaylynn, take sewing classes whenever you can. It will save you lots of money when you have your own family one day.”
In the kitchen, there were magical doors. Behind them were where the makings for hot chocolate lived. I liked to help her make the hot chocolates because I knew where the marshmallows were and she would let me get them out for her.
You opened the two double doors with built-in caddy’s full of jars of jams, boxes of cookies, and bags of chips. There were shelves full of containers of flours, sugars and bags of goodies. The back wall were two more doors. You opened them to reveal an even deeper space with more shelves full of canned goods. The marshmallows were on the right. It was nothing like I had ever seen before and won’t see again. I still remember the sweet smell of her pantry and the sound the doors made when opened.
Homemade Ice Cream Saturdays
When the weather turned warm, my grandpa would turn the covered carport into a patio. He would roll out the fake grass and pull out the outdoor furniture from the shed. There were two chairs, a double sofa that would sway back and forth and my favorite a lounge chair, where you could extend your legs out and almost fall asleep. I would lay there listening to the adults talk as the canyon breeze swept through the conversation.
My grandma gave my grandpa an ice cream maker one year that looked like an old wooden bucket. We would each take turns cranking the leaver. It was hard work, lucky there were lots of us. It was always grandpa’s job to check to and see how close it was to being ready to eat. We wore that machine out and they got a new one that plugged in. I remember it was red, white and blue with stars and stripes, just like the flag. It felt different not having to crank the handle. We just had to be careful not to trip over the cord and listen to it making ice cream then. It was different but the ice cream still tasted delicious. We wore that one out too. I think they went through at least four of them.
All the best memories I have with my cousins were made at my Grandparent’s house. While all the adults chatted upstairs, we made up games downstairs or played outside on the grass. I learned so much about life from my cousins and feel so blessed to have them still in my life.
The hours spent with my cousins flew by like minutes and time to go home always came too quickly.
We played carpet tag, board games and made up dances outside on the front lawn. One of our favorite things to play on was grandma’s exercise machine. I don’t even know if it was an exercise machine, that’s just what we called it. It was like a large folding lounge chair thing, that you would lay down on and it would bend at the waist. It would move in and out. When it was in, it would fold your legs to your torso and when you pushed away or out it would stretch you backward working your stomach muscles (I think?). We, of course, used it in the way it was not intended for. Two people would hold it open while two others laid down on it. Once laying down the kids on the outside would move it up and down really fast trying to knock you out of it. We all had our fingers pinched in it so many times.
I remember coming upstairs hot and sweaty from running around. I would sit on one of my grandma’s sweet little stools near the couch and watch my mother laugh and interact with her siblings. They were fun and happy times for all.
My grandmother was a journal writer, just like me. She was a special lady who always brought her family together with love, generosity and her food. She was the best cook; fried chicken, lasagne, and we would fight over her homemade rolls. She had so much compassion for children, especially the ones that belonged to her. I don’t know where she found the energy. She had five kids (having my Aunt Glenda in her 40s) of her own. Then those kids had kids. I may be out on my numbers but my grandparents had 21 grandkids, 46 great grandkids.
Once when I slept over at my grandma’s house, we stayed up watching Thoroughly Modern Milly while waiting for our hair to dry after our showers. We cuddled in our nightgowns and laughed together. She had the best laugh and was always laughing.
I’m sad that my two kids never knew her but I tell them all the time that she took care of them up in Heaven while they were waiting for me to become a mama.
Wash Day Soup
Now that I am a busy mother, I understand the need to find easy healthy meals and it got me thinking about what my ‘Wash Day Soup’ is. I think my wash day soup is spaghetti. I wonder if my children will be sick of spaghetti by the time they have their own kids to feed.
Thanks, Grandma and Grandpa for always loving us and being our heroes. I feel so blessed to have had two such shining examples in my life growing up.
Thanks for going down memory lane with me. These are just some of my memories but of course, a blog post can’t fit them all in.
We all want it. We want it for our children, loved ones, friends but mostly for ourselves. We strive for it but what does it actually look like? We each have our own definition of happiness but do you know what your happiness feels like? When do you know if you’ve achieved it? Are there different levels of happiness and do we stop once we get to the first level? Does your happiness even have levels? Is it a person(s)? Is it a day of the week? Friday? The weekend? Is it your home? Does happiness come after finishing a project? Or is it a feeling that stays with you?
If you don’t know what your happiness is, let’s start with unhappiness…
I have two levels of unhappy.
I’m unhappy when my kids tease each other and that teasing turns to tears. I’m unhappy when I open my side of the wardrobe and it bangs into the other door because my husbands left his side open. I’m unhappy when I forgot to pull the meat out of the freezer for tonight’s dinner and it’s 5pm. But maybe all of that is more frustration than unhappiness.
The unhappiness I want to talk about is the one that can be crippling. The one that brings on tears for no reason or the unhappiness that makes you disengage from your life and spend your days in your head with your own private battle going on.
When I’m unhappy like that, I’ve got a nickname for it. A nickname I can say out loud. My close friends know it means “I’m Depressed” without having to say those ugly words. I say ‘I’ve lost my muchness’ and they know.
I started to become aware of my actions when I found myself in that space again and again. I paid attention to the things I do, or stop doing. I stop looking at social media. I stop serving others. I stop accepting invitations to go out. I stop smiling. I stop calling people. I stop answering my phone. I stop appreciating my life. I just stop being me.
I become silent and crawl into myself.
I sit at home and wish the time away by watching movies or playing way too much Plants vs Zombies—sometimes simultaneously. When I watch movies, it transports me into someone else’s life. Not a real life, but it helps me to get out of my head. My head is full of jumbled thoughts that are hard to string together. The thoughts are unkind toward me and they turn me into an empty vessel. I have to ride the dark wave until I find my smile again.
I’ve never been a skinny person but I do enjoy going to the gym. Always have. I enjoy the classes. It’s fun, it’s social and my body feels so much better after. I’m a 6am girl. I’m so much better in the mornings at everything! So after the gym at 6am, I’ve got so much energy and before 9am, I’ve already put on two loads of washing, vacuumed the house, made breakfast for the kids, got them off to school and that’s just on a workday.
So the start of me going downhill is when I stop exercising. For whatever reason…too tired, too busy, no time…they are just excuses I feed myself. If I stop exercising, within three months I’ll be bottomed out swimming in depression.
It took me years to realize my trigger points. Exercise is my key to maintaining a healthy and happy lifestyle.
How come exercise? Well, I’ve thought a lot about this…
No exercise → lack of energy→ eats more sugary foods→weight gain→ more eating because I’m filling a void that’s appeared and before I realize it, I’m saturated with yuck. I’m not happy. I’m not myself and I sink inside.
What are your triggers? I think we all have them…
I think its really important to figure them out. Once I figured it out, I shared it with my husband so he could catch my fall in case I couldn’t.
You are in charge of your own happiness!
Happiness is the key to life. Happiness makes everything beautiful. I see the change of the seasons, the beautiful colors that surround us, I hear the birds singing, I want to hug everyone (and I do). When people who really know me see me coming, they just put their arms out because they know they are about to get a big hug. I’m a hugger…when I’m happy. I WANT TO HUG THE WORLD…when I’m happy. I spread good cheer. But I have learned which of my friends are not huggers and give them that space. When I’m happy, I brighten peoples days. I am a great listener and have time for everyone. When I pull away, I wonder if these people miss me (I don’t think twice about it when I’m low). When I’m happy, I can see those around me who need help and it makes me happy to go out of my way to help them. I want to make home improvements. I keep everything clean and organized. Nothing is too hard. I have energy galore and can do anything!
I feel happy when I find a cute bookshop or when I’m listening to music that makes my heart soar. I feel happy when my kids hug me. I always feel happy when I step into the State Library. I feel happy when my to-do list is finished. I feel happy to be sitting on the couch next to my husband after a busy day and I especially feel happy when he opens a bar of chocolate for us to share after the kids have gone to bed. There are lots of things that make me happy but when I’m unhappy I can’t find happiness anywhere.
When I was little, before I knew I was in charge of my own happiness, I could change my mood by thinking of a happy place. I went to Disneyland when I was seven–thinking about that always made me happy. It would change the current mood I was in and get on with my day.
As I grew up I could still use that strategy but of course, my happy places changed until one day even the happiest of my happiest places did not cheer me up. I knew then that I was in trouble. I felt lost and alone. I had to stop and think. Picturing me somewhere having fun was not enough anymore so I started to recreate the last happy feeling I had. I learned how to hold on to that feeling when I was down. It might have been how I felt after someone paid me a compliment or remembering a first kiss or what it feels like to fall in love. Then I would take that feeling and strive to recreate it. Happiness almost became drug-like to me as I was jonesing for the next fix, the next happy moment. But soon I stopped living in the moment. I was either looking too far ahead because I was chasing the happy or I was living in the past holding on to a happy memory trying to resurrect it. This was not good either.
So I’ve done a lot of work to be happy in the present moment. Live it, love it and not look back. I want to live the best life I can and I am done wasting present moments being stuck in the past. I have found happiness and balance with who I am today. I enjoy yoga, hanging out with positive people, being a good mother, going on dates with my husband, but mostly I am a writer that needs to write. This blog has been extremely healthy for me. I’m able to express myself and it has been well received. Thank you.
I wish you all much happiness and balance. It’s a good place to be. I love you all!
I do it. You do it. We all do it, but we shouldn’t.
Thoughts pop into my head without permission. I tell myself awful things and worse, I believe them. I speak to myself in harmful tones and destructive ways that I would never speak to others in. Why? Why do we do this?
“I think. Therefore, I am.”
–Descartes, father of modern philosophy
The fact that we can think, reflect on the past, imagine the future, even to be conscious of our own consciousness is what distinguishes humans from all other animals. When we reflect and so often regret the past, imagine and so often fear the future, it traps us and pulls us out of the NOW. The ‘now’ is a healthy place we should all be striving to spend our days in. But it’s very difficult to do all the time. When I’m not living in my ‘now’, I don’t hear my family’s needs because I’m preoccupied fighting a battle within.
I started having unkind thoughts toward myself in my pre-teen years. It was about 5th or 6th grade when I started living in my head. Instead of just being a kid, I started comparing myself to the other girls around me.
I was not skinny enough, popular enough, cool enough, funny enough, interesting enough…pretty enough. My brain would say things like ‘If only your family was not poor you would fit in more’ or I would look at Shelly Love (the most popular girl at my Jr high when I was in 7th grade) ‘If my hair looked like hers or if I had Jordache Jeans, then I would be popular’. Of course, it’s easy as an almost 47-year-old to look back on this and see how silly it was but it was real and that was the world I was living in then.
Jordache Jeans were the key to my popularity. If only I had a pair all my troubles would vanish. I would fantasize about how cool I would be on the day I showed up to school in my Jordache Jeans. The whole school would bow down to me and vote me the coolest kid in all the world and everyone would stumble all over each other trying to be my friend.
I was eleven. I had no job, I had no money. My mom, a single mother was doing it tough making ends meet raising five of us on her own. So Christmas was my only hope for these designer jeans.
It’s Christmas 1983 and all I asked for was a pair of Jordache Jeans. I didn’t want anything else…one pair would suffice. If I had that designer label on my back pocket, the rest my life would be trouble free. FOREVER! I drove my family crazy with talk of Jordache Jeans.
It was hard for my mom to find the time to get all the Christmas presents wrapped. Our tree was usually bare until she would see the worry in her children’s eyes. Was this the year we were going without? We were reminded often about how tight money was. I learned that statement before I even knew what it actually meant. If money was tight, then why do they always talk about loose change?
I know my mom sacrificed sleep get our presents wrapped and under the tree. She had a full-time job in town. She rode the bus until a parking spot came up that she rented monthly. She worked, cooked dinner then crashed, never had time to clean. Homework and school reminders were left up to us. She was always stressed, low on energy and I recall how she lost her smile during those years too.
We woke up one morning a few days before Christmas and the presents appeared under the tree. Phew! Excited, we rushed under the tree to look at the tags, showing each other their presents and each having a guess by feeling them through the paper before mom came in to tell us off.
I found out the truth about Santa Claus only the year before. I was ten. It was Christmas morning and we were unwrapping presents. My mom and older sister were having fun watching us younger kids open our presents. Excitedly, I asked them “How can Santa really get around the whole world in one night?” They looked at each other and said: “What do you think?” It was just a throwaway comment. I didn’t mean to change my world with the words I said next. Shrugging my shoulders, I said, “Maybe not.” Then my sister said “You’re right. So who do you think leaves out the presents?” I stopped and looked at them. “What? Are you telling me the rumors are true? It’s the parents?” I looked at my mom. “Yes, honey it’s the parents.” I felt like crying but they told me its a secret and I needed to keep it for my little brother and sister. I looked over at them unwrapping presents their faces full of wonder. I was sad. I felt robbed of my wonder. Then I asked who ate the cookies.
The next Christmas was not the same after finding out about Santa, but when we were touching all the presents under the tree, I came across one that was the right jean shape, right jean weight and after further braille examination, a jean pocket. My belief in Christmas returned in a flash. I felt my jeans! My Jordache Jeans! They were mine! I quickly put the present back and walked away with the biggest smile on my face. I didn’t care about any of the other presents.
The next day when no one was looking, I double checked again because my mind had convinced me that they were for someone else. I confirmed the present definitely had my name on it. It just felt too good to be true. I couldn’t remember feeling more excited for Christmas morning in my life!
I was always the first to wake on Christmas (still am, I wake my kids). I woke everyone up and waited as patiently as I could. I thought I was going to explode with excitement.
My mom handed me little presents to open. I opened them and thanked her for them. Then finally she hands me the package I have been waiting for. I rip it open with so much excitement. It all came flooding out. The seel was broken. I saw jean color. I jumped up with excitement! “My Jordache Jeans!” I shouted. “No”, mom said, “I could get two pairs of Lee jeans for the price of one pair of Jordache Jeans.” Silence. It must have been my face because I made my mom cry on Christmas morning. I quickly tried to cover my tracks. “Oh yea, two is better than one.” She offered to return them to get the one pair of Jordache Jeans but I said no, that I was happy with my two pairs of Lee jeans. I was not going to ever be the most popular kid in the world but I knew how to make my own mother happy on Christmas.
Today you can buy Jordache Jeans at Wallmart for $28.
If you can’t master your thoughts, you are in trouble forever. Surrender…still our minds.
We need to stop listening to what we tell ourselves. We need to control our thinking…It’s not an easy task but if you work at it, like anything you can perfect it. Our mind is trying to take over our body. We need to control our thoughts so we don’t have that internal pull between our body and brain. They must get along to have harmony within. When my mind starts pushing me around I stop and ask myself this question. Who is really thinking this? This is my own little strategy to find out what the ‘real’ is.
Thoughts Are Things.
They can have a positive and negative effect on you.
Thoughts are things that can turn into depressed, angry, frustrated, lonely, disappointed, fearful, worried, sad, and doubtful- know the impact that your thoughts can have on you.
On the positive side, some thoughts can make you smile, laugh out loud, feel a sense of pride, cause you to relax, or make you feel confident.
Our thoughts directly control how you are feeling at any given moment – regardless of whether you are consciously aware of it or not.
The internet is full of advice. We should meditate daily, observe our thoughts, cultivate space between thoughts, learn to stop your thoughts, identify your negative thoughts, find the lie within and rewrite it to a truth and the old classic live in the now…
I think all of it has merit. Do what works for you. I don’t meditate like I should. I have not done yoga in weeks (and before that it was months). But I see a real benefit in stopping my negative thoughts. I am constantly telling my children to talk kinder to each other. My siblings and I grew up were awful to each other. It’s funny how because we feel comfortable with each other, we say things we wouldn’t say to a friend or acquaintance and we do it worse to ourselves.
Awareness is a true gift. When you become aware of how you feel, act and think then you have the power to change it.
Often we don’t even realize that we have lost ourselves. A few years ago when my kids were younger and really needed me, I was telling myself that my kids were better off without me. I was a nuisance to all around me. How crazy is that! A child is NEVER better off without their mother unless that mother is hurting the child. Now that I have my wits about me it seems totally insane and you know what it was. It is. I was not in a happy place in me.
When I’m not in my happy place, it spills out onto my family. For the sake of my family, I need to be kinder to myself. Gentle to myself and learn to control my thoughts. I don’t want any negativity living in my body because it chases away my muchness.
I love people. It’s rare I don’t get along with someone. I find people very fascinating. What they do, what they say, what makes them interesting. But mostly I connect to what they don’t say, what their body tells me. I am a people person but it was during a conversation I had with my husband, some years ago (before he even was my husband), that something really sang out. I was upset about something that happened at work. I felt misunderstood. I was crying and felt my job (me) being threatened. My husband said, “We need to be liked by everyone”. That statement rang in my ears for weeks, months and as you can see years. Why had I never noticed it before? I am a people pleaser; yes I am and have been all of my life.
Now I’m seeing the same ‘people pleasing’ behaviors in my sweet daughter. I see it when she feels like she might get into trouble with her dad. I see it when she’s playing with her friends. I even notice her do it to me, of course, because I taught her this, didn’t I? How do I help myself but more importantly help her? Why do we NEED to be liked by everyone? At what point do these behaviors start to self-harm?
“If your number one goal is to make sure that everyone likes and approves of you, then you risk sacrificing your uniqueness, and, therefore, your excellence.”
I’ve been sacrificing my excellence
…and I didn’t even know it.
Are you doing the same thing?
I bend over backward to help those around me putting my own needs last. But I can argue that this is part of my uniqueness as well. I’ve unknowingly given up bits of myself trying to gain approval. In the beginning, it’s innocent, you just want to help out and be nice, but what happens when these acts of kindness are not reciprocated and you keep trying to please the same people or type of person? They start to become ‘takers’.
Do people pleasers create takers or is it the other way around? Takers definitely feed on people pleasers that I know for sure. Living this way is proven to be unhealthy because it’s not sustainable, it catches up with you and breaks you down. Did it take seeing the same behaviors in my daughter to finally open my eyes? How do we help and serve those around us without falling into a ‘taker trap’?
As long as I can remember I’ve always tried to be liked by all. People are nice to people they like and I was (let’ be truthful, still am) never good with rejection or dislike directed at me. It started at home. I was one of five children, the middle child. I’m sure being one of five kids needing attention from my parents is where it started. I did my best to be the perfectly behaved one and became an overachiever in life or a perfectionist.
My older brother already had the role of the one who did the wrong thing and got all my mother’s worries. My little brother was the baby and my little sister played to role of the snoop and victim. My older sister paved the way for all of us, challenged my parents with all the firsts. I idolized my older sister. I loved everything about her and wanted to be just like her. I would follow her around the house annoying her with my obsession. Before she became a teenager, she always had time for her four younger siblings. Just because she didn’t want to spend time with us anymore didn’t mean I didn’t want to spend time with her. She started to resent me and wasn’t very nice. She started to change and the smallest of questions or comments got your head bitten off and soon she wasn’t any fun to be around. I lost my sister to teenage-pregnancy. She became a mother at eighteen and I became an aunt at twelve. It didn’t change how I felt about her. I just now had a sweet little niece to love and play house with. My sister ended up getting married very quickly to her boyfriend and moved to Italy where he was stationed in the Navy. I missed my sister and my little niece very much. I can trace my needing to be liked back to my older sister. I tried everything in my power to get her to like me again, but I didn’t understand all that she was going through at the time and I blamed myself. I wasn’t cool enough, I wasn’t tall enough, old enough. This seems to be my earliest memory of this type of behavior that will follow me throughout my life.
We all have different talents. That’s what makes us so unique and interesting in our own way. I have always been able to understand people’s feelings. It’s like I can look directly into their heart at times. I seem to be extra sensitive to people’s emotions. When I was young I thought everyone could feel this. Because of what I felt, I took on the responsibility of trying to make everyone around me happy from an early age.
My parents were divorced when I was eight-years-old. It was messy for all seven of us but I remember feeling that their divorce was my fault. Why did I feel this way? How could such a young child feel this? This seems very odd to me now that I am a mother myself. I would never want my children to feel the need to take on such responsibilities, such adult responsibilities that even as adults we don’t understand or choose to take on.
As I hit my 40’s things started to make a little more sense; a missing link was revealed. I was finally ready to learn and let it sink in. I discovered that the ‘wants’ and the ‘needs’ of people are blurred to me. It’s my job to ‘de-code’ the wants from the needs to then be able to understand someone’s true desires. For all of my young life, I have mistaken people’s desires and wants for needs. I feel I have been put on this earth to serve and help others. It brings me happiness. Most people I help just want my love, support & understanding. Everything I give to these people comes at no risk to me. In fact, helping them strengthens me. But when I give to the ‘takers’ I hurt myself in the process. They tear strips off me and over the years I’ve given too much of myself away, especially in those tender teenage years. I felt their desires but misread their wants for needs. I finally understand the difference and I need to help my daughter understand the difference.
Now how do I put this into practice?
I ask myself a simple question. Do they just want something from me or do they enjoying being in my space? I can usually tell by people’s behaviors, words, actions, body language, life morals, the stories they share with me and the most telling signs are the way they treat other people, especially the people they love.
What can be tricky for me is if I’ve just met someone, i’ll need to rely a lot on my gut. I trust my gut, however, this is where the battle within begins. When my gut instinct does not match what my head and heart are telling me. My head always wins over my gut and my heart usually wins over my head. My head is logic, my heart is emotions and my gut picks up on everything else. My gut picks up what my head and heart don’t see or choose not to see. That’s why it’s been so easy to get it wrong a lot.
I have felt so low about myself that I needed others to want and need me to feel any self-worth. It makes me sad to think about that heartbroken young Kaylynn with all her muchness draining out of her helpless to stop it and desperate for anything, even a band-aid fix.
I only want to see good in everyone, with me everyone starts out with greatness in their soul, a clean slate. I see my daughter giving everyone a clean slate too…and this is not a bad thing except when her excellence starts being sacrificed.
The world needs more random acts of kindness. Kindness changes hearts from both directions. This week do something for someone else. Something that can change a heart.
The world is full of selfish people. We can change hearts by showing gentleness toward each other and ourselves. Let’s lift and care for each other without tearing strips and hurting each other.
He gets me. He always has. No questions asked. I’ve never had to justify my existence to him. Ever. He loves me unconditionally. Always.
To have someone who’s always on your side like that, well I struggle to find the words.
Tracy and I knew each other before this life. We chose each other as brother and sister–so we could grow up together, protecting each other. We were friends before we were born. We can sit in silence and gain positive energy from each other just by being. We can read each other’s thoughts. I’m terrified of this world without him in it. But it has not always been this way.
He was my baby brother, too cute for words when he was small. We all doted over him. But he grew up to be a cheeky monkey as all little brothers do. We would fight like regular siblings. It was me and my sister ganging up on him or he and I ganging up on her or them ganging up on me. Just regular kid stuff.
He is four years my junior and I don’t remember ever sharing a school with him. We must have overlapped in elementary school but I don’t recall those days or years. I wonder if he does?
Once on a snowy morning, before he was old enough for school, he got dressed in all his snow gear and walked my sister and me to the bus stop a few houses away. He had strict instructions to go straight back home after the bus came. As our bus pulled away, I watched him as he turned around and started walking up the sidewalk. He slipped and fell backwards and then he was out of sight. My heart broke. I remember thinking if I should ask the bus driver to stop so I could run and check on him. I was worried about him all day long wondering if he got up and made it home. I had visions of him lying there crying and calling out my name. After school, the bus dropped me off and I ran home to check on him. He didn’t even remember falling. All that worry for nothing.
When he was about three-years-old he had a favorite outfit he wore all the time. It was an orange t-shirt with a Hawaiian girl in a grass skirt doing the hula and red, white and blue striped pants. He used to say the girl on his shirt was his girlfriend and of course that made us laugh so we asked him all the time who she was.
I remember Tracy going from irresistibly cute, to undeniably annoying, to downright mean. We finally found our common ground after high school but it wasn’t until I returned home from my L.A. adventure that we became inseparable. Tracy and I were the only kids living at home, we went to the same University and worked together too.
Tracy had a big monster truck that we drove around in. It makes me laugh to think about it. If he saw a cute girl at a red light, he made me duck down, and I did. It was a time when we were learning about ourselves. Trying to figure out our own life’s pathway. Hashing out who were we now and what were we going to be.
This time together was a blessing. We had always been close but this just brought us closer. Marriages, kids and schooling sent us in different directions but we’ve always remained close. We live exactly 8,454 miles apart, but when we get together we pick up right where we left off. These days I only get to see him and his family every few years when I fly home.
My brother has a busy life. A big job at the hospital in charge of many. He has five kids. The oldest just got married last week and the youngest only starting school and his second son is currently serving a mission in South America. My brother magnifies his church callings and is a health freak running marathons, relays and triathlons. He hikes up snowy mountains and skis down them and he’s backpacked into the Grand Canyon more than once. When he comes home from work he falls asleep in his recliner while his sweet wife makes dinner…just like our dad used to do when we were little but I think my brother was too small to remember that. (Secretly I’m very pleased my husband has not adopted this behavior.)
I can not be prouder of my little brother and his life achievements. He’s the guy that’s loved by all. His sweet wife, his kids, extended family, in-laws, his employees, as well as his church family. Like I said, I tear up when I think about him and I am so proud to be his big sister.
I love you, Tracy, thank you for always been there for me. I can’t count how many times you’ve literally dropped whatever you are doing to help me out. You make this world a better place just by being you. Thanks for adding so much to my life♥♥♥
 He was mean to me when I made the decision to go to Skyline High School. Following my older brother’s lead, Tracy spent many days calling me a traitor as I yelled back “Shut Up!” and then he went to Skyline, giving me the last laugh.
Growing up, my siblings were my only real friends, especially my two youngest.
There is a four-year gap between my older brother and I. The biggest gap between all us kids. This gap gave a natural break between the big kids and little kids and that’s how “The three little kids” saying was born. When I was little it didn’t matter because I didn’t realize what those words meant but the older I got the more I desperately tried to make the switch.
One day I made a pronouncement at Family Home Evening,
“Ok everyone, you know how it’s the three little kids, well now that I’m older I think it should be the three big kids and the two little kids.”
I was laughed at…they said it was cute but I didn’t want to be cute. I was serious. And as much as I tried to swing that shift, I was the only one voting and “the three little kids” stuck…forever. It didn’t matter how old we got, we were still known as the three little kids. Today it’s a title I wear proudly.
My Little Sister
I was cut off from my mother’s breasts when my sister was born. I was too little to remember but I’m sure it had some impact on our relationship. We are only sixteen months apart. I have no recollection of my time without her, she’s always been there.
It’s the summer of 1977 and we just got our new bunk beds. My dad bought two sets of old metal army bunks; spray-painted one blue and the other pink. We couldn’t wait for the paint to dry.
My mom and us three little kids, were across the street at the neighbor’s house, playing with their kids while the moms sat and chatted in the driveway. My mother was not comfortable with the social aspect of chatting. She was an introvert and still is. My father was an introvert too. The sun was shining down and there was laughter in the air when my mother announced, Well it’s time for bed. I’m not sure if this was her way of politely excusing herself from the social chat but we started to chime together our protest about bedtime but we remembered this was the night we got to finally sleep in our new beds. So our protest came out in cheers of excitement and happiness. Jeanie, our neighbor, pulled the funniest face while she asked my mom how she got us to be excited about going to bed.
I had the top as I was the oldest. We were so excited that it took us ages to fall asleep. My sister and I made up a game. I would slide my arm down between the wall and the top bed and sweep it along the wall like a pendulum and my sister’s job was to try to catch my hand. We laughed and played this game for years. We even had a song we made up to go with the game.
When we were young, our mother made incredible cakes–edible art. Our favorite was a carousel cake. It was beautiful with different colored frosting horses iced to bright colored straws with a big top tent on top she made from a paper plate. My sister had a frosting collection under her bed that she would share with me sometimes. Once she let me eat a carousel horse, which was very special.
My early days before school were bliss and my sister, brother and I would spend hours together making up games, spending whole days in our pajamas listening to the Mary Poppins album over and over until it wouldn’t play anymore. We had each other and that was enough.
My sister was my best friend, the one who always went along with my hare-brained ideas and would take my side when it came to fighting with my other siblings. We had each other’s back always until one day the light behind her eyes just vanished. Something was different. We were different. She was different. After that, we argued all the time, fought over toys and hated sharing a room. Once we divided the room in half but that didn’t work as the door was on her side of the room and I couldn’t jump far enough to get to my side of the room without touching her floor and mom put a stop to the dividing the room idea when the fights turned into slaps. We only saw the idea on Brady Bunch.
Brady Bunch Photos by 3219a2.medialib.glogster.com and www.sitcomsonline.com
She moved into her own room when I was ten. It wasn’t until her early teens when things really stood out of how different she was and it wasn’t until her twenties when she was finally diagnosed with bipolar disorder, the same thing dad had.
We went to different Jr high schools but in high school, we shared a year. She was a sophomore and I was a senior, a crossover year for us. I tried to rekindle what we once had but each time I got close she would bite. I always thought it was me, something I was not doing right, so I tried harder to get close to her again. I never gave up on her. It was hard because I always needed time to nurse the bruises she gave me and her nursing the ones I gave her. We did more damage than good.
The truth is none of us knew what she needed especially her. The adults had no clue. She was told to “make friends, join school clubs, don’t be so shy” but when she did try to assert herself she was shut down for that too. Nobody knew what to do. She was smart, really smart but she was flunking out of school. Her battle within just couldn’t cope.
None of us had it easy but out of all of us, her mental illness is most pronounced. Like my dad, she is not always easy to love but I know she doesn’t mean to be that person. All of us at different times have been her targets. Her daggers hurt. She knows how to cut deep. Forgiveness and love are the only way to survive having her as a sister.
Since moving to Australia, I watch her struggle from afar and I’m less of a target. She’s hurt me to my bare emotional core yet I still love her and will never forget that little girl who I laughed with and shared her frosting collection with me.
I don’t have memories of my little brother coming home from the hospital and getting to hold him, but I do remember having to stay with my Aunt and Uncle when my mother was in the hospital. Since there were so many of us kids, we all got farmed out to different places. Dumping us on one house “would have been too much”, mom said “and you need to wear a diaper at night. I know you’re a big girl and you don’t have any accidents, it’s just so your Aunt won’t have to worry.” I remember waking up and telling them every morning (for the 3 or 4 nights I was there) that my diaper was dry as I was a big girl. It was important to show I was right about something. I was three.
My Aunt taught me how to write my name and for every letter I wrote a page of, she gave me a chocolate chip. I loved it.
I did not grow up in the Brady Bunch household. We saw things kids shouldn’t see and experienced things kids shouldn’t experience. But if I reflect on my childhood, big giant gaping holes would be lost if any of us were missing.
Everyone in my family has driven me crazy, took me to boiling point and brought me to tears, lots of times. I’m sure I uttered (or yelled most likely) “I WISH I WERE IN A DIFFERENT FAMILY! As I was 100% sure that I had been adopted. But the truth, is they all mean a great deal to me including their human flaws.
I found this cute video about family…Ok, it’s a little cheesy because its made for teenagers but its playful, beautiful and the words hit home. A family is all about the little things.
My older brother
I remember when I was about six, I found a spider in the bedroom I shared with my little sister. Terrified I ran out of there right quick crying bloody murder (I had a set of lungs on me). By the time I got out of my room, I wasn’t crying about the spider anymore. My Tall Grandma (I had a Short Grandma too) had been on a visit to Holland weeks before and she bought me a sweet little doll with wooden shoes. I was crying frightened that the spider would eat her and I couldn’t save her because I couldn’t touch the floor. Nothing would calm me down. That was until my big brother, asked if I wanted him to crab walk me into the room to save her. I stopped crying.
He showed me and before I knew it, I was being very brave while my brother ‘crab walked’ me on his stomach into my room to save my new dolly and her wooden shoes. I was very happy to sit there as he struggled to crab walk me. As long as I didn’t have to touch the same floor as the spider, all was well. I can still hear his grunts and heavy breathing as he struggled under my weight but I was safe in my older brother’s care. If I was six, he must have been eleven.
He didn’t have to do that. He could just go about his day paying no attention to his blubbering little sister crying about a spider and a dolly. He could have offered to get the doll for me but instead, he gave me so much more. He was a loving brother who crab walked his petrified sister into confidence and valor, he showed me that love prevails. He showed me the love he had for his crying little sister and forty plus years on, I’ve not forgotten.
I always thought heaven dealt my older brother an ordinary hand but when I truly saw my brother for his heavenly gifts, he was anything but ordinary.
My big brother was not perfect, he was a right pain in my butt for most of my childhood. He teased me to tears almost daily, stole my babysitting money and ate my Easter & Christmas chocolates but he showed me what unconditional love was.
He was different than the other kids. He struggled to learn the basics in school and never really learned how to read. I watched him get bullied his whole life. From school kids to church kids and even watched our own father give him a hard time, but he endured. He always offered forgiveness to his perpetrators in heartbeat. He never held any animosity and loved others unconditionally even when they hurt him. He was a guy that needed to be loved no matter what the cost. He never held a grudge and he’s the same way today.
He has the biggest but the most wounded heart. He’s been on heart medication for years, he got a pacemaker put in when he was in his early forties. He’s woken up many a night to his defibrillator shocking his heart back to life while he sleeps. He is the glue of his sweet family. Without him, his daughters and son would be lost. His grandkids would be lost. I never thought I would see him as a loving father let alone grandfather. Each day he is with us it’s a blessing. I’ve always felt he’s on borrowed time.
My older sister
My sister is the oldest of us all and I idolized her. No, I really did. She was pretty, popular, funny and cool. She was everything I wanted to be. Out of all of us kids, my mom said we look the most alike. My mom labeled our baby photos to tell them apart. This secretly made me smile. I would follow my sister around the house doing everything that she did. She hated it. I would of too if I was the older sister. But I couldn’t help it. I learned so much from her just by her everyday example.
(Photo of us to be inserted here when I locate it…TBA)
She let me hang out with her friends when they came over until I got kicked out of the room but what they said was so funny. I loved being a fly on the wall. Once she even took me to see “The Empire Strikes Back” when I was nine, I felt so cool.
Vent brushes, big perms, girls camp, short shorts, tube tops, croutons made out of toast, backyard picnics, bike riding on a horse named Flicka, Star Wars, Valley Jr High, Tight jeans (how many stories?), kittens buried in our backyard, The Butternut Tree, The red purse, showing us the glow-in-the-dark ghost from the top of your lip balm, teaching me “Shoe fly, don’t bother me”, giving me the keys to your car after I came home with my license, sneaking into your attic room to play with your barbies, wearing your paten leather red boots and sipping up my skin in them, watching dad slap you across the face when you were defiending your little brothers and sisters.
There are several everlasting memories I have of my sister. I want to thank her for being my older sister, my second mom. I remember once when I was a teenager, my mom and stepdad went away for the weekend. I snuck out my bedroom window while my sister was looking after us. She was in the kitchen when I snuck back in at 3am. Ashamed and shocked I stood there looking at her in her pajamas. I thought she was going to yell, get mad and tell mom. She did none of those things. She was cool, calm and ask where I had been. I made a choice not to lie.
“I snuck out my window and met up with some friends.”
“I saw that, are they good friends?”
“Friends that won’t lead you astray?”
“Yea, I think so.”
“Well good. You better get some sleep or you’ll miss church in the morning.”
I went to bed thinking about what she had said. Where they good friends not leading me astray? I was not sure about the answer that night but it made me question my friendships in the future.
I observed my sister take what she wanted out of life with both hands. She was a great dancer and enjoyed drama class always trying out for the school plays and mostly getting the lead roles. I would watch her from the audience sitting on my knees, chin stretched out so I could see her way up on the stage. No one was more proud of her than I, see I really did idolize her.
Suddenly, in her last year of high school, she fell pregnant with my niece. I became an aunt at twelve. She was the best mother I had ever seen and still is (and even a better grandmother). She had two more babies over the years, my nephews (the youngest is still on his mission) and I loved playing with them all. I learned how to be a mother by watching her.
I watched her study hard and become an LPN then further her degree to become a Registered Nurse. She taught me all about feminism. Bringing home what she learned in her women’s studies class. She could do anything and she was good at everything. I was proud of my sister and all the hard work she was putting into her life. Being a great mother was most important to her. Like I said I learned so much from her just by her everyday example.
This is part one of my family post…Stay tuned for part 2 next week.
My parents were divorced when I was eight. That was in 1979 when bell bottoms were big but your perm was bigger.
My mom was now ‘trying on’ her life as a single mother of five, now that she was finally free of the marriage she tried to run from for so many years…or was she? My dad still came around on the weekends when he felt ‘up-to-it’. My dad suffered from bi-polar—Something an eight-year-old could never understand. I just thought he was angry a lot and sometimes fun when he got enough sleep—once he came home with a brand new car!
Before the divorce, once time I woke up and thought I had dreamt about an ambulance coming to our house…
I walked slowly out of my room rubbing the sleep out of my eyes in my stripy nightgown I had outgrown, but still insisted on wearing. I noticed something weird on the living room floor (I always noticed something new or out of place—my son does this too). I picked up the white large bullet looking plastic things (two of them) discarded on the living room floor, along with some waxy circles, looked like the discarded parts of a band-aid.“What is this mom?”, in my rough morning voice.
“What is this mom?”, in my rough morning voice.
“Oh, nothing,” grabbing them from my hands.
“I had a dream about an ambulance last night.” I said while having my morning stretch “wait was that a dream mom?”
“No, your dad needed some help last night.”
Very concerned now, “what happened?”
A long pause…
“Your dad had a stroke.”
At five years old, I had no idea what a stroke was but I felt or knew that he was in safe hands.
This exact scene happened a few more times. After the first time, I just asked, “Did dad have another stroke?” “Yes.” She always answered yes, knowing the truth was too hard to explain.
For years, I always ticked strokes ran in my family on the medical papers…FOR YEARS! Until one day, years later — I’m a mother now myself — we talked about it, in the living room. I found out the so-called strokes were really mental breakdowns. Similar breakdowns some of my siblings now struggle with.
Since the divorce, my dad’s anger was not hanging around the house anymore except on the weekends. He often came over trying to ‘win’ back the woman of his dreams. He loved her. He always loved her even when he was yelling at her and controlling her. He couldn’t seem to help it. We always got excited when dad came over because it was always just us boring kids and tired mom. He brought this sense of excitement until we saw him settle in on the couch next to her.
He wasn’t there to see us, so we went back downstairs and continued to watch TV. We found happiness in re-runs. I think we watched every episode of The Brady Bunch, Happy days and Lavern & Shirley. Then those shows turned into Growing Pains, Who’s the Boss and Family Ties. We even watched Three’s company, WKRP in Cincinnati and The Jefferson’s when we were desperate and now as an adult catching a re-run, they were not kid appropriate at all. But we watched them. We watched everything.
My mom was a working mom now, going out and supporting all five of us on her own. The older kids looking after the younger kids. I ate a lot of bread. Bread was easy. It didn’t need to be cooked (as I was too little to cook anything). I used to roll bread up into a ball and pretend it was an apple, I would roll bread out flat with my little cookie cutting set and cut cookies out of it. I would spread peanut butter on it or just eat it plain, just a piece of bread. One time I even pretended it was the sacrament, but I got into big trouble for that when I passed it around to my family.
We caught the bus to and from school. The fumes gave me a headache while listening to the driver shift into the different gears. On the way to school, the driver had the radio up so loud there was no room for kid conversations. We just sat there and listened to ROCK 103, but on the way home if the radio was on you couldn’t hear it. It was just loud kids shouting, laughing and screaming at each other. Come to think of it I’m not sure if it was just the fumes giving me the headaches.
My little brother went to daycare. It was hard for my mom. She dropped him off crying, telling us that he would be ok once he got in, then dropping us off at the bus stop. I worried about him all day at school because I knew that he cried all day, hiding himself in a corner of the playground so the other kids didn’t see him. That’s what my little four-year-old brother told me. My heart broke for him. But soon he was on the bus with us smelling the fumes.
During my first year of University, I packed up all my belongings and moved to Los Angeles on a whim. I was eighteen.
My mom was not happy about this decision—I was in my second semester at Weber State University and I was working at a pharmacy in Ogden. A co-worker talked me into going to LA with her. She left a few weeks before me……………..I packed up my $1,000 piece-of-crap Datsun 310 (that I put $500 into and my parents matched my contribution) and headed off into the sunset.
This was in 1990. And I had Janet Jackson’s Escapade blasting from my cassette tape deck as I drove over the Utah/Arizona state line.
I remember being excited about being in another state without my parents and then something happened. A huge sound came from underneath the car that made my heart beat nervously. I pulled to the side of the freeway with cars speeding by. I got out, leaned down to look under my car. There was a long metal piece of something laying on the ground below my car. Not knowing what to do next, I got back in the car and cried. Discouraged, with fears of failure I screamed at the top of my lungs with anger and then cried some more. After that cleansing cry, I grabbed my belongings, put my hazard lights on and started walking to the nearest rest stop. I knew it was only 1 mile because I could see the sign not too far ahead of me. I saw this as a blessing.
As I started walking frightened by the speeding cars zooming past. Then I had passer byes yelling out and whistling out at me. Almost completely paralyzed, knowing this was not an ideal situation with only a few hours of daylight left. I walked a little aimlessly seeking help–a pay phone so I could call my step-dad to come and rescue me. Even though I didn’t recognize it at the time, but God had sent me help in the form of three generations: a dad, a grandpa, and a grandson on their way home. My Heavenly Father was not going to let me return home before my adventure had started.
They helped me by tieing up the muffler to the bottom of my car. It was not attached where it should be anymore but it was drivable even though the sent me off telling me to get it looked at when I made it to Las Vegas.
Photo Credit: localwaterdamgelosangeles.com
I finally arrived in LA via a bit of time in Los Angeles but shocked by the advertising all around me. In Utah, it’s against the law to advertise alcohol on billboards. My sheltered eyes got their first shock and I’d not even arrived in tinsel town. I grew up fast in the two years I was in LA, a little too fast sometimes—I was on a steep learning curve.