Lesson Learned

Lesson Learned

Today was nothing if not eventful. I started the day off with a road trip to U of I to return my baby for one last semester of college. Once the car was unloaded, and the last of the bags were in the dorm room, I said my ‘goodbyes’ and began my 3 hour trek home.

Not far from the campus, I began looking for a BP gas station so I could fill up. But there were none to be found. And by the time I realized that I would never make it all the way back without at least a few gallons more, I began looking for whatever station I could find. So much of this journey takes me through some very remote areas, and the gas stations are few and far between.

At one point I decided to exit off, but 2 obnoxious cars seemed to be competing with each other in an effort to keep me boxed in where I was. Their efforts were successful and I missed my exit. So I continued on. They too continued on with their little game of ‘cat and mouse’ — of which I was rapidly tiring.

I took note of their license plates — One had a Missouri plate, the other Wisconsin. I really just wanted to get away from them as they were truly trying my patience.

I loaded up BP stations on my navigator and noticed one a few miles ahead. So I backed down my cruise control and tapered back my speed in an effort to wiggle my way out from amongst their clutches. I was then able to exit the highway.

I was never so relieved to plant my feet on the ground as I stepped onto the parking lot, heading toward the gas pump. But when I swiped my card at the pump, my anxiety level began to rise once more. I stood there for what seemed like 10 minutes, waiting for the card to authorize. No such luck… And it wouldn’t allow me to cancel the transaction either. So I waited a bit longer before calling the attendant. When she failed to answer, I walked into the station to find out what was happening. I didn’t want to just pull away from the pump in case my card would authorize after I left.

When I walked in the door, I was greeted by a rather harried gas station attendant. She stated that everything had frozen up and she was waiting for their system to reboot to see if it would work. With a nearly empty gas tank, and an overwhelming urge to sit on the couch and put my feet up, canines by my side, I tried to disguise my impatience — realizing that she was doing the best she could with the situation. But I wasn’t happy!

After several minutes, the attendant advised that she thought it might be fixed. So I walked back out to my car. Low and behold, it took my card. As I stood at the pump, she approached my car and I thought she was going to offer me yet more bad news. But she thanked me for my patience. Honestly, I didn’t think I had deserved her kind words for the thoughts I had been keeping to myself. I replied in kind and completed my transaction. Once again, I was off to join the masses on the somewhat busy highway.

Then it happened! The traffic came to a complete halt and I found myself feeling anxious once again. Moments later, the traffic had moved enough that I could now see the flashing lights of several emergency vehicles tending to 2 vehicles in the center median. As I passed the scene, I glanced to see one dark gray car with Wisconsin plates and a little silver car with Missouri plates and immediately recognized them as the cause of most of my anxiety.

Suddenly my ordeal at the gas station seemed rather trivial. Maybe it had been my fate to spend a few extra minutes waiting for a problem to be resolved, rather than a different fate lying ahead on that very same stretch of highway.

Hopefully next time I will just try to appreciate the moment with which I am in, instead of feeling upset because things aren’t going exactly the way I thought they should.

While the trip did last a bit longer than I had anticipated, my car is safely parked in my garage and I am now sitting on the couch — feet up with the canines by my side!

Lesson learned.

Where do I go from here?

Where do I go from here?

Good morning readers.

It’s been a while, I know. Some of you may know that I have been busy writing a couple of books. During that time, I found it necessary to step back from blogging. But I am hoping that I can re-visit writing this blog (and maybe still find time to write another book).

It was difficult for me to stop writing about my grief; but I found it difficult to continue as well. The books seemed to help me bridge that gap.

Forever and Always was a fictional biography, based on the life that Andy and I shared.

Then I realized that I wanted to write a book that contained a story of what I wished life could have been. From that thought, Forever Loved was born.

My life has taken on a much different path than I originally saw for myself. But I learned how to make the best of a tough situation, and found happiness on the other side. Soon I will be embarking on an adventure unlike anything I ever tried before… A cruise to the western Caribbean where I plan to explore Mayan ruins, and hopefully even experience a little of the jungle. For someone who has never left the U.S. (Unless you want to count the time I toured to Canada with Celebration Company back in High School). I am so very excited about this upcoming trip, and hope to blog a bit about my travels — at least once I get back!

In the meantime…

Now I just want to branch out toward a new platform, but honestly I struggle with which direction I should go from here. I am open to suggestions.

Dottie and Max think that I should write stories based on their antics, while far away friends hope I choose to resume (and blog) about my travels, in hopes of more frequent visits.

IMG_3388 revised

I’ve learned a lot about surviving as a single home owner, figuring out the best (and the worst) ways to meet an objective when I decide to make something better. I wish I could say that every project I’ve done has been a complete success. But the truth is, most of the projects I tackled came with a lesson or two along the way.

imageThen there are my craft projects. Anyone who has visited my home over the years would be hard pressed not to find something I’ve made. tree of life quilt top

So I am asking for suggestions. What would you like to read more about? Feel free to comment on which of these subjects appeal to you… Or recommend another topic. I will do my best to oblige.

… And thanks for coming back after all this time.

My Treasures

It’s difficult for me to believe that 22 months have now passed since we said “Goodbye.” I’ve encountered many new experiences during this journey of self discovery.  Some of the things I have learned about myself have been good, while others I must admit, don’t thrill me so much.  But I’ve taught myself to identify these flaws and either adjust my self image or correct the flaw. image

Andy had so many wonderful friends, and I am fortunate that I inherited them.  I’ve been able to lean on them at times, though I know their pain was deep as well.  They are a treasure.

Also along the path, I picked up a few very special friends that until now only held brief appearances in my earlier life.  Each and every one of these friendships has become more meaningful to me than I ever could have possibly imagined.  They have been a great addition to the tried and true friends who have walked through life with me all along.  They are a treasure.

Members of my family have witnessed my tears at times when I would have preferred my eyes to be dry.  They never judged or even asked “why.”  I know it’s been hard for them to understand since it’s a loss that very few of them have ever experienced for themselves.  They too are a treasure.


My children (including my daughter in law) and my granddaughters have been a tremendous source of strength for me as well.  One of the first thoughts I recall, afterscan0001 processing the news of that fateful day, was how will I get my kids through this.  That was never an issue.  They led me through some of my darkest hours — sometimes they weren’t even around.  Just the thought of them would pull me out of a “funk,” and they never even knew.  They are my greatest treasure.

Initially following Andy’s accident, I found myself feeling so exposed and I shared a lot of those feelings with those of you who have followed along in this journey with me, either by reading my blogs or listening to my caterwauling.   I appreciate you all.  You are my treasure.

IMG_3388 revisedAs funny as this may sound to some of you, many of you know it to be true.  My dogs have been my constant!  They were my reason for getting out of bed on “day one” and continue to be just that — regardless of whether I want to or not.   From cuddle bugs to annoying distractions, they seem to know what I need at the time.  Again, they are a treasure.

In addition to my canine distraction, I have joined as an independent consultant with a direct selling company.  I’ve done many– from Avon to Tupperware.  But this one seems to fit my new life so well.  Jamberry Nails has become a great outlet for me, and I look forward to the journey that is forthcoming.

I’ve learned that quality of time is far more important than quantity of time.  This lesson is one that I actually have to remind myself of most often.  But it’s possibly the most important one I’ve learned.  I store each lesson in my head and reflect as often as I deem necessary.  They are an important treasure.

Creating new memories has helped to ease the pain of reflecting upon old ones.  Sometimes, in order to deal with the perils of being an adult, I’ve learned to act like a child!  I’ll never forget the old memories, but I’ve found a way to add and cherish new ones.  These memories are my saving grace — also a treasure.

I’ve discovered during this past 21+ months of writing that I just have to let my fingers walk across the keyboard.  Sometimes I’m as surprised (and maybe more so) as my readers by the words that appear before my eyes.  This is definitely true of this post.  When I began writing this particular blog entry I had no idea what I would write.  I just knew that words had to be written. You might be wondering if there is a reason why today I felt compelled to “strike at the keys” when they have been sitting so still lately.  Yes!  I suppose there is.  It actually wasn’t prompted by the date.  During that first year, the 8th of every month seemed like a hill too high to climb alone.  So I reached out to you all — and you were there.  As time went on, and life began forming anew, I needed to experience the new, not relive the past.  I’ve now begun to find that I can integrate the two from time to time.

However, the actual reason why I felt the need to reach out today is a follow up from yesterday.  I cleaned the office. While my house, most days, is far from what I would consider clean, my office has become my nemesis!  I had found myself barely stepping foot inside the door or sprinting through on my way to the garage.  What I failed to see was “why!”  Upon further inspection, I realized that 10 months ago when I traded in the 2 vehicles that Andy and I had shared, I piled the contents that I removed from both in the office and walked away– never looking back. Yesterday I’d decided that enough was enough!  I reclaimed my office, weeding through the contents as I went along.  I’d like to say that no tears were shed.  Most of you would know that’s not the case anyway, so why try? Today I begin sorting through the file cabinet that has now been moved twice with contents in tow.

I’ll finish my day by splattering paint on a canvas I suppose.  This has been a new hobby that I used to just dream of trying.  One year ago, on a boat in the middle of the Mississippi River, with my mom sitting by my side, I “dipped my first artistic brush.”  I found it to be quite therapeutic and a lot of fun!  It’s not like I needed another hobby!  But I got one.

Okay, so this is today’s ramblings.  Now that I’ve procrastinated as long as I have, it’s time to turn up some tunes and get busy.  I’ve found that the louder the music, the easier it is to battle the demons that lie ahead.  I refer to it as “deafening my demons before I strike!”

In closing, I’d like to remind you all to enjoy your day, regardless of the influences that appear before you — and most importantly to cherish your treasures — today and always!

Forever and Always Baby!

Forever and Always Baby!

I’m Alive

It has taken some time and a lot of soul searching on my part.  At first, the guilt was strong — but has lessened with time.

imageI would have to say that it started when I decided to step outside of my comfort zone.  I had been “settling-in” to my new home on the mountain for a few months when I decided that it was time to share the fruits of my labor.  The patio that I had worked diligently on for months was now ready to be presented to the world — or at least a group of people who resided at least within a close proximity of mine.

I started with my immediate family and then branched out into long-time friends as well as people who had made an impact on my new life in some way.

It wasn’t the easiest thing I’d ever done, but turned out to be one of the best.  I found myself running in so many different directions that day.  I had never thrown a party by myself — and honestly wasn’t completely sure I wanted to still.

Once the guests had arrived and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves, I was able to relax a bit and enjoy the day as well.  We gathered around the firepit even though it was really too warm to enjoy a fire — it was July.

If I had to put my finger on the calendar and point to a day when my life began imageagain, I would place it happily on that date.  I had invited a few people with whom I’d bonded just since Andy’s death.  I’m not sure what inspired them to reach out to me, or how I got up the courage to reach back.  I only know that I am glad that I did.

I found that life became easier when I had people in my life who could relate to some aspect of my <now> mixed up world.  From this, new and stronger friendships were formed.  While sitting on the patio that day, plans were made.  I can’t emphasize enough how big of an impact that day made on my life.

imageI’ve since discovered that apparently friendships can also be formed amidst a rant.  Several weeks after the party, a group of us decided to have a “girls weekend” just miles from my home.  We rented a cottage for the weekend, and while I had never done anything like this before, it too became a life altering event!  I’ll spare you the details.  Just know that I let off some steam at what hindsight tells me was misdirected.  But something great came out of it.  Let me just say that when someone has every right to “stomp you” but ends up making you laugh amidst it all, that person has to become your friend.  At that moment, we crossed the bridge from acquaintances and old classmates to best friends.

One week later, a suggested friend on Facebook would put yet another missing piece back into the puzzle I call “Life.”  With the reconnection of another member of the good ole class of ’83, another strong friendship was formed.  This friendship has proven to be something I value very much these days.  While I think it started out as an opportunity to redirect my life back to happier, youthful times, it has taken on a path all its own now.

It was also around this time that I decided to release myself emotionally from theimage vehicles we had bought together.  This wasn’t just an emotional decision, it was practical.  Why should I insure 2 vehicles, let alone keep putting gas in both.  I traded in his truck and my little “soccer mom” car and bought myself a 2-door jeep with 4 wheel drive.  On that day I changed my self image.  While I will always be a mom to my kids and a grandma to two very special little girls, I did something just for me.  I emerged into someone who could feel the wind racing through her hair and fully appreciate the view of the “big muddy” as she drove the beautiful scenic route that was now the daily path to her new home.  In addition, it gave me the confidence to live the part of the “mountain dweller” I had become.

In addition, I returned to the workforce.  It was strange how that happened too.  I wasn’t looking for a job.  Something just drew me in and I found myself talking imageto an employee in a little floating gift shop on the river.  I decided at that moment to apply for a job, though she didn’t seem to think they were actually hiring at the moment.  Just days later, I got a phone call asking me to come in for an interview.  I discovered that the employee I was speaking with had told the owner that she felt I would be an asset, and within days I was employed there.  It worked out well.  As the job was seasonal, it allowed me to eliminate the stress of having to climb down the mountain on those snowy winter days unless I just really wanted to get out.  With the winter as brutal as it’s been thus far, that was definitely a bonus.  As the 2014 season approaches, I don’t know what’s in store for me, but have learned to welcome whatever it offers.  I tend to “go with the flow” more now than ever before.

I’ve realized that now the face I see looking back at me in the mirror tends to be smiling instead of choking back tears.  I had to accept the fact that I could be happy.  I needed to be happy.  It was a tough decision, and even required a conscious decision on my part at one point.  I had to allow myself the opportunity to let the pain turn to joy.  I found that I could be happy again and it could actually be a tribute to Andy, not an insult to his memory as I had originally viewed it.

Those who knew Andy best would try to convince me that he would want me to a00366be happy.  It took a little time for me to see that, but it makes complete sense now.  He would have done anything in life to insure my happiness, and I guess on some level I always knew that.  Now that he’s become my guardian angel, I think he still does.

I wish I could say that the tears never flow and that my days and nights are filled with joy and laughter.  I actually have to say that the latter is definitely more prevalent these days.  And now when the tears do emerge, they are generally a result of a happy thought, not a pity party for one!  I have begun to realize one thing above anything else.  I feel things stronger and taste things better.  I now see that is a sign of one thing, and is a direct result of moving through the grieveing process.  I am alive!

imageAndy, at first it was hard to smile.  On some level, I always knew that you would want me to.  I just couldn’t… I wasn’t ready!  I’ve developed such strong friendships and know that I am never alone.  I had to make that conscious decision to look at what I have, not what I don’t.  What I have are special memories of a love that changed my life so many years ago.  I will cherish those memories forever as well as the ones I create now with those who have become and/or remained a special part of my world.  

I know that I could never begin to thank you for all you’ve done for me.  So  I have chosen to move through the pain and seek out the joy.  That seemed to be the best way I could pay tribute to the life you gave me.  

I love you Baby… forever and always.

Copyright (c) 2014 missylaneousthoughts.com, All Rights Reserved

Is It Any Wonder?

Family Photos 010For as long as I can remember, music has been in my blood! I was enrolled in musical kindergarten, where the teacher mistook a 4 year old child harmonizing to “Rock A Bye Baby” as being unable to carry a tune.  Little did she know, said child had spent every week sitting next to the bass in her mom’s quartet while they practiced at the kitchen table. That was the part I’d learned! That’s what I was gonna sing!

As a teenager, I recall spending Christmas Eve at any church but my own — performing solos for candlelight services by request. When I was in high school I auditioned for a part at the Muny Opera in St. Louis. I made it as far as callbacks, but never made the big time! I even got to sing along with The Oak Ridge Boys in the lobby of the Chase Park Plaza once.  That was cool!  I could go on for days listing performances and such, but that’s not really the point I’m getting at here.

I’ve come to terms with the fact that my voice has lost a little something over the years, and I blame only myself for that fact.  However, one of the things that my life over the past year and a half has taught me is that <music> is still a big part of my heart.  It is my consolation on a cold and lonely night, my muse when I am having trouble finding inspiration, and often my motivation to achieve the tasks of the day.  With that said, I am taking on new aspects. My musical talent always began and ended on a vocal level. It is now my intent to broaden my horizons and learn an instrument or two.

Don’t get me wrong, I have no intention of becoming a concert pianist or anything of the sort.  I actually doubt that anyone else will ever even hear me play — this goal is for self-gratification only.  I just can’t help but feel that it’s time this old dog learns a new trick. As I made this observation, I had to take note and realize — I’m heading back once more down a path I willingly and even eagerly swayed from so many years ago when I met the man of my dreams.

I suppose this all ties once more into what I perceive about life in general.  I guess I should explain.  This has been an overall observation of my life’s path up to this point:

When I visualize my life now, I see a path in a forest — not overgrown, but not overly scan0001explored either. As I walk a little farther, I see that the path splits and I have to make a choice. There seems to be no question as to which fork in the road I need to travel; so I put one foot in front of the other — and my life path continues in a wonderfully comfortable and possibly even necessary way.  I spend many years walking that path — with that one special person by my side all along the way.  I have no doubt this is where I belong — and intend to keep traveling in this manner.  However, sometimes things happen and we have no way to control them.  Suddenly my path comes to an abrupt end.  My life partner is ripped away.  I wander aimlessly for a while, and then find myself back at that same fork. This time the original path is blocked by an obstacle far too big for me to overcome, so I choose the path less traveled.

While there is so much more of this new path to be traveled, I find myself reaching back for items I left behind at the moment when the original path was chosen. I also carry with me so many of the things I obtained along that original journey, and have discovered that my heart actually found a way to join the old and new — and appreciate them both more than ever.  I find satisfaction and even happiness in things I once took for granted.  The colors of the grass beneath my feet are so much more brilliant than ever before;  and the smell of the flowers I pick along the path are more aromatic now.  I realize this is acquired — something I developed during my journey down the original path chosen.  I find myself wanting to learn more about topics I originally just skimmed.  Merely scratching the surface is no longer an option.  I head back to my roots and try to find answers to “what if’s” and “how comes.”  Maybe it’s simply because I have never been able to find the answers to why my path had to take me back to the beginning like it did!  I realize those answers may never come to me.

With all of that said, I have to think, “Is it any wonder that I find more comfort in music now than ever?” It’s as if it takes me back and leads me forward at the same time.  While I never fully abandoned music when I chose that original path, it has definitely taken on a new and important dimension in my life.
Andys Final Profile PictureIn closing, I feel the need to add that, while I have no idea where this adventure will take me, such is life! Do we ever really know where our paths will lead us tomorrow? If my life has taught me anything, it is the answer to that question! I will speak for us all with a resounding “NO!” I learned the answer to that just moments after that middle of the night knock at my front door just 18 months ago. I have reestablished friendships and developed new ones that mean the world to me now.  Not a day goes by that I am not thankful for what I’ve found along this new path as well as what I carry with me in my heart from my former travels.  It just appears to me that through it all, music has been my one true constant!

2014 (c) Copyright, All Rights Reserved, Missylaneousthoughts.com

The Path Less Traveled

It’s remarkable how one day you wake up feeling like it’s just going to be a replay of yesterday, only to find nothing is further from the truth.

What causes a person’s view on life to change so drastically… so quickly?

Environment?  Maybe!  Realization?  Probably!  Perception?  Definitely!

I took a look at things standing before me and realized that, while it’s not a perfect world… it’s pretty good!  It took me a long time to see that, but am so glad I finally did.

I see life as pathways now!  I’ve found a way to go back to my original course and explore what life could have been had I taken that alternate route.  While I truly cherish the pathway I primarily chose, I am finding it enlightening to travel the other as well.  I now see that I am a very lucky woman for having been blessed with multiple opportunities to see what life hFamily Photos 010as to offer.  I even amaze myself at times… that I can see how a very small decision can impact major life developments.   Who knew life is what you make it after all?

I got a lot of encouragement during my initial journey to begin writing, but never understood why!  It took stripping my emotions down to the quick to realize that maybe it is a “calling” of sorts!  At one point, my writing was all I could seem to accept as comfort.  I had to realize my own happiness again before I could see things in a new light… one brighter than I’ve ever seen before.

I decided to start back at the beginning, and have been attending class at a local college.  I am currently enrolled in English 131… a prerequisite to the creative writing class I hope to take next year sometime.  The funny part is, I took this class once before as part of my required general studies three decades ago!  Life’s path took me out of the classroom and into reality… again, no regrets… just life!

I was relieved to find that, during my most recent essay, I was able to express thoughts besides those that seem to have been embossed on all of my previous writings.  I wrote of my childhood… leaving the pain behind for another day.

It feels good to sit and read my own words now without tissues in hand!  I never really imagined that I would ever see that day… and it concerned me!  I’ve recently discovered that there is much more below the surface, and feel that writing can be more than just therapy for me now.

Family Photos 397I am extremely thankful for everything that my original path offered me… and have absolutely no regrets.  But now I find myself looking to decades ago.  I bring parts of my former path with me, but also enjoy new: New friends… new opportunities… new perspectives!  Along the way, I’ve rediscovered my sense of humor!  I am once again enjoying life and realize too that I have to explore the path less traveled!

Copyright ©2013

A Year Of Remembering

I sit here at Starbucks on the one year anniversary of the worst day of my life!  So many thoughts plague my mind, but mysteriously enough, not much more than they have for the past 365 days!

This past week was the hardest… reliving memories of what may very well be Fremembered as the best week of my life.  We traveled, talked, danced and just spent time together.  I live with the understanding that he will be forever and always in my heart… trying to soothe the ache that his death left behind.

So many events have taken place in the past year… many self-inflicted, many not!  After analyzing mounds of emotion and turmoil, I made a step that, looking back, I see as even more necessary than maybe I did at the time.  I sold our home and moved into a small one bedroom apartment where all I had to do was to focus on me and our dogs… healing time much needed!  It was during those months that I discovered how much of the “country girl” in me still existed, though buried deep within the wife and mother I had been for now over half of my life.

An opportunity presented itself with what I feel could only have been possible with the help of a little divine intervention.  I made my offer and 25 days later I owned a imagehome in a place I now often refer to as “My Little Piece Of Heaven On Earth”.  I even built a patio in a “problem area” in the back yard mostly with my own two hands.  I’ve learned things about my potential, and have actually learned how to be proud of my own accomplishments along the way!  It actually amazes me that I even tried sometimes!

Not a day goes by where he isn’t in the forefront of my thoughts and dreams!  Every day I tell myself that this life is now mine and he would want me to move toward a <still un preferred> new life.

I feel him with me so often, and even hear his words frequently in my head.   Every day seems to be filled with new emotions… more emotions than I previously even knew existed!

All in all, I think he approves of the changes I’ve made.  I try very hard to make those decisions that work best for me.  Truth be told, I think I’ve become pretty selfish.  I make decisions (for the first time in my adult life) that have my (and my alone) interests at heart!  I actually think he would approve… “Sow those wild oats now Baby” are the words my heart says in that strong deep voice I only hear in my imagination now, but they feel so real!

I have worked hard to teach myself that, while motherhood never ends, my children are grown and I now have to think about my needs… and I do!

Two days ago I ripped off yet another bandaid.  I realized that it was not feesible for me to keep insuring and licensing 2 vehicles.  With that in mind, I traded in my 7 year old car and Andy’s 12 year old truck and bought myself a Jeep Wrangler (soft top) with 22 miles on the odometer!  That river road is gonna be a beautiful trip on a sunny day with the top off.  Who knows, maybe I’ll even take the doors off from time to time.  So there it is… a wild oat!

I realize that I have no clue what tomorrow holds, but then again, we never really know… no guarantees.  At least I find comfort in knowing that the memories will last forever, but do become less painful with time.  It has, in fact, been a year of remembering!

Andy, I see you in my dreams and feel you so strongly still in my heart.  OverAndys Final Profile Picture the past year I have experienced so many things that I never would have imagined; and while you have not been physically with me, I feel that you are often experiencing them right along with me.

Thank you so much for the years we had together.  I love you and miss you more than I can express… forever and always my love!



Copyright ©2013, Missylaneousthoughts.com, All Rights Reserved.