Life is like a see saw. Sometimes you are up and sometimes you are down. Often it happens all in one day, other times you are either very blessed to be up for a long time, or sadly you are down for an extended period. I feel you have to examine, almost embrace the down side of things to really appreciate when they are up. To me that covers all areas of life. You might have a different theory of course, and that is ok. If you are one of those always up people and ignore or just never experience a down...well I want to know your secret!! Me I am human.
On my current journey to find happiness I picked up a book at The Dollar Tree, Seeking Peace By Mary Pipher. This book thus far has been full of ups and downs, mostly downs. But I know eventually there will be a lot more ups. I have discussed in past posts the first couple chapters that I was really relating to the author and what she had to say and I shared passages from the book and then told of my own story. I shall do that again today. I am further along than the chapter I am sharing, but in going deeper into the book, the current chapters are a back ground of her family history and her own growing up years. There was not much I could relate to, but it is no less interesting....but simply no passages to share.
Today's passages are from the chapter titled Bedrock. It is a very up and down section of the book, and hence the relation to the title of this blog and the opening paragraph.
"We are born vulnerable, and all our lives we stay that way. The great givens - genetics, people, places and events largely shape our fates.....We can work with our givens, but we cannot totally escape them."
I agree with this. I was born into a household with a Dad who though I knew he loved me, was not at all affectionate. My Mother, was pretty much the same having grown up in difficult, strict and stern household. So I did not have much affection from them. It was rather looked down on. I do not blame them, it was the life they grew up with, and all that they knew. There was many ups and downs in my life, and often though I doubted being loved by my parents, down deep I knew it was there. I have been blessed in my later adult years to have bonded with my parents and especially my Mom and we work regularly making up for lost time. I consider that up with a side of down! LOL But that is life and relationships.
But that all being said I did not grow up without affection. My Dad's parents were great to me. My Grandma though 100% German, and again not one too forth coming with physical affection and from what I heard verbal, did shower me with it. I knew from the minute I walked through the door how loved I was. She doted on me and I responded well and soaked it in. To this day I can recall so many wonderful things she did or said for me. I was lucky enough to grow up with her either living close by, in our actual home living, or I in hers, and on family property. I even helped care for her when she was older, and her health failing. She had always been weak physically, so many health issues, her whole life, but she taught me strength and values and though many looked at her as being harsh, I knew the other side of her. I miss her and think of her daily.
I was also blessed with my Grandpa. He was so friendly, laughed all the time, was always ready with a hug, and a smile. He showed me how to pay it forward, how to give the shirt off your back and reap the blessings that would bring a person. When we owned and lived on family property, he then taught me how to work the land and farm, let me help raise the live stock and I enjoyed it! He taught me how to cook and make a good pot of coffee. He was always busy , either with the land, taking care of Grandma, or helping others, but he always had time for me.
His brother, my Great Uncle Harold, was my BEST friend growing up. I can still remember him saying to me " I loved my wife. I loved my daughter. But OH YOU KID!" The feeling was mutual. He was my rock, my beacon in the storm that was often my growing up years. I could talk to him about anything, nothing was off limits. We shared custless toast and jam, mac and cheese, cheddar cheese on crackers and often a beer and he would share wonderful stories of his life. He had a ham radio and he would let me chat with people all over the world. He worked the land dressed in slacks, a dress shirt and shiny shoes...never a hair out of place. He loved the farm we had, and like my Grandpa, taught me to do the same. He and I would travel , we would just go for drives, fav place was to go get ice cream, he did love it so. We build small cedar boxes, I own several still, and one is used as my "God Box" . He made me my own mini yard tools so to make it easier for me to work beside him. He was like my Grandpa , would do anything for anyone, and that love, kindness and pure joy that came out seeped into me. I have so many wonderful memories of him, I could fill pages upon pages. I feel even now he is with me. The only bad memory, the only down of our entire relationship I have is the day he dropped to the ground while raking and passed away...we had harsh words that day, the first time ever I was snarky to him, and he died. I still carry that with me.
I had two other people in my life that shaped me. A girl friends parents took me under their wing and when things were rough at home, they would take me in. I called them Mom and Dad , and I spent most free time with them. They were funny, quirky, and hard workers. They made you tow the line, no free rides, but you knew you were loved unconditionally. Once I was married and had two of our three daughters, they had moved away and I had lost touch. When we moved back to California, I had tracked them down and soon they made a 5.5 hour drive down from Oregon to just have lunch and give me a hug. I still am in contact with the whole family on Face Book. They also were very important in teaching me how to love, show affection and be compassionate, also a sense of humor something I often struggle to have. I see that as a down side, not always being able to laugh off things I should.
These are my givens, and make up who I am and the life I have lead. Somethings that happened I would rather forget, but it will always be a part of me. I am just so glad I can also embrace it and know that because of the downs I created a huge bunch of ups.
" I was born sensitive and intense. I took everything in. I remember strong feelings about events when I was very young- I wanted to be good, I couldn't bear to see anyone suffer , and when I was upset, I was inconsolable."
This really hit home. I have always been this way. Still am. I tried so hard as a child to be the good one, and often it was not good enough and I was punished. When that happened the tears , sadness and anger I would feel would last and last. I could not get out of the depths of darkness, and all I ever wanted to do was escape. I often as a child would stay with both sets of Grandparents, or friends and their families, it was easy to be good when not at home. So I could grow and thrive and I would go over and above to receive a compliment from whomever I was with at the time that was an adult...that did not always make a favorite with my friends, but it was what I needed and in many ways it was a selfish act on my part.
Later as a pre-teen and a teen I would run to my Uncle, or my Grandma and for them I was a perfectly good girl. I could make them smile, laugh and even though I was not perfect they would sing my praises. Whenever I would upset them, again I was just devastated until I could make it right.
As an adult I am still this way, and often it has led me to resemble a door mat to others. I just hate confrontation and making people unhappy...though I am sure my husband and daughters might have other opinions and stories...Hey not perfect...gotta take the downs with the ups.
" Books could settle me down and keep me out of trouble....For the rest of my life, I have continued to sedate myself with literature."
This is me all over. As a child, as a teen and as an adult, books have always calmed me. Created an escape from my current life situation. I must always have a book to read , and I sure that will never change. I know of no other thing or way that you can travel through time, around the world or to other worlds , feel pure joy, feel someone elses pain from the sidelines, experience life to the fullest, and learn new things and all from a chair. To me books always create an up in my life.
" I also inherited a tendency from my father that I 'll call "state dependency." I am swept away by ideas, passions or events, and lose perspective. If I am having fun with people, I 'll feel like saying , "Let's do this again tomorrow." Or if I am enjoying a sunrise, I 'll find it to be the most magnificent sunrise in my life."
"State dependency makes me fickle. I'll dive into experiences and be intensely focused, until I fall under the spell of another set of experiences. One serious drawback with this trait is that when I am miserable, I believe I will always be miserable. If I am lonely, I'll forget I have plenty of friends and family and won't be lonely tomorrow. I simply do not imagine myself feeling different at another time. "
Goodness, this rings true. Not sure where I got this all from. What the author calls "state dependency" but it is all me, 100% . It effects every area of my life. Relationships, my appearance, hobbies, my decor, my moods, EVERYTHING! I often wish I could change this about myself. It actually has cost me a lot of money and a few friendships and currently I am living with hair I HATE. But I am just not sure how to stop. I mean if you do not know how it began....so I consider that a down.
" Many successful people have worked to transcend their givens. Their drive to achieve stemmed from a need to overcome their disadvantages. They refuse to be defined by what they could not control."
This was powerful for me. I have two cousins that fit this bill 100% and just blow me away with their lives, past, current and what is coming in the future. I feel in some ways I too have been working my entire life to transcend my givens. For me it is two steps forward and often many more back.
" ....people change only when they believe change is possible. On the one hand, if we feel our lives are in the hands of fate, we will adopt the passive stance toward ourselves. On the other hand, if we see ourselves as improvable, we might work toward change with steadiness and ardor. As practical matter, it is almost never in anyone's best interest to believe that self-improvement is impossible. "
All I can say to that is AMEN! I know there is always room for improvement...even if I have to be reminded of that from time to time ! Definitely an UP!
"All our lives we must keep appointments we did not make. None of us plan to be gay or strait, brilliant or what psychologists call "dull normal." No one expects to be blind, crippled, obese, or homeless. No one schedules football injuries, car wrecks, hurricanes or bankruptcies. No matter who we are and how carefully we plan, we will all experience shocks and surprises. Unless we commit suicide, none of us schedules our date of death in our appointment book."
WOW! talk about ups and downs! But she is right. That is simply life. You have to take it as it comes, and do your best with what you are given at the time.
"Yet, we can influence our fates.....People often think happiness as the result of good luck, but fortunate people can be miserable, and unfortunate ones quite content. Happiness is both a choice and a skill that we can learn, the way we learn to bake bread or play the violin. Because of our attention and intention it shines down on us. Some of us possess more advantages than others, but in the end, we all create our own inner space. With the right orientation, everything is workable. The great glory of life is in the wiggle room."
I just love the idea of wiggle room!!!