Thursday, November 29, 2012

Marriage: It's Hard Work

Vince and I on November 19, 1999,
at our simple wedding at the
Capital Hotel, Little Rock, AR

Marriage… at times it makes us giddy with excitement and other times it makes us crazy with anger.  I’ve been married for 13 years to my husband, Vince, and every day I love him, but some days I don’t like him very much.  I know he would agree because there are times he needs some “away time” just to hang with the guys and watch football and not hear me nag about finishing up household projects.

In the past six months, I’ve had at least four calls or emails from friends telling me, usually in confidence, of their 10-20 year marriages falling apart.  Personal friends, people I love, admire, respect, who have a foundation of faith in God.  Sometimes they are asking for prayers, advice and understanding because, you see, I’ve been there myself.  I was married at 19 and divorced at 24 (lets just chalk it up to being too young and not strong enough to be my own person).  Other times these calls are just a “heads up” that something big is about to happen. 
Among my friends, the reasons are varied for parting ways with their spouses.  I cannot judge them and, sadly, there are no real winners, especially the young children involved.  There are the awkward moments of seeing the offending spouse and acting like you don’t know anything about their home situation or that you only know the bare essentials of their now status quo.   You smile, but your eyes are sad because you know there is hurt involved.

It always concerns me just a little when I see young ladies in search of the fairy tale they think marriage is, but here’s the deal, marriage is hard work, day in-day out.  The nice thing about it is that you aren’t in this journey alone and every day you can be stronger in your relationship because you are growing and learning together.  Is my life and marriage perfect?  Of course not and if someone tells you they have a “perfect marriage” don’t believe them.  From time to time I have to remind my spouse that we have to grow together, to have common interest and goals.  Is all this hard work worth it?  Absolutely.   I’m so thankful that my spouse has patience and understanding and continues to love me when, at times, I am sure I am a handful. 

Obviously I do not advocate staying in a relationship with a perpetual cheat, someone who is lying about a problem, or if there is some sort of abuse taking place, but I think your heart tells you when you need to move on for yourself, your children or even for your spouse’s sake.

Anyway, I write this for what it’s worth, I guess because my heart is just heavy for these friends who are facing the holidays with a feeling of loss and who are trying to put the pieces back together.  They remain in my prayers, not part of my gossip.  Thanks for letting me work through a bit of this sad news in a way I find comforting: writing.  


Tuesday, November 27, 2012

In Search of the Spirit of Christmas

I love Christmas, really, I do, but this year I feel like I'm constantly searching for that holly jolly feeling.  Yesterday was the pits.  My house was a jumble of boxes and glitter, oh the glitter, it was everywhere on the floor.  As I slowly got the house back to order (or what passes for order these days in 1100 square feet that houses three people and a puppy dog), the feeling of holiday magic slowly started to break the ice of my humbug.

Suddenly, I felt like turning the tree lights on for my son returning from school, the Christmas songs on the station didn't make me cringe and you know, a little glitter never hurt anyone, right?  It was a cold and dreary day outside, but inside, there was a renewed warmth as my little boy and I curled up on the couch to work on after school homework and talk about the season ahead.  He's certain it's going to snow.  I hope he's right.

What struck me is that I'm happiest when I'm doing something to make things special for those I love.  Maybe you're the same?  Case in point, when my husband arrived home from work, I had the outdoor Christmas lights on to welcome him, a candle burning to make the house smell good and holiday music playing.  No home cooked meal, but hey, baby steps!  Those little touches made me feel more giving and in the spirit of the season.

This morning, a routine trip to the store found me staring at stationary (I love stationary!) and thinking about holiday cards.  I want to be economical this year, but also creative.  I didn't want to send off for another amazing photo card, I wanted something that was personal that showed that I touched each card and thought about the person who would be receiving it.  An idea came to me which really put me in the Christmas spirit thinking of friends and family.

Holiday Cards Made Simple
Step one, buy 3.5"x5" card stock.  I found a kit with 200 pre-cut pieces and envelopes at Target.  3.5"x5" seems to be the perfect size to fit into most printers using the photo tray.

Next, I went through my digital scrapbook elements and found a saying/expression that I liked.  I looked for a graphic image, but didn't find one that fit the bill so I ended up downloading a free image and manipulating it in Photoshop to make it what I wanted.

I combined all the elements together in Photoshop and used a few sheets of my least favorite color in the card stock bundle (purple since my graphic was very natural looking) to test the printing.  When I had all the settings correct, I printed out 175 cards.

The image looks like it was hand stamped onto the cards, which I love, and this weekend, if all goes well, my family will get a holiday photo at our Farm together which can be attached to the back of the cards for friends and family.

I already feel more in the spirit thanks to finding the perfect holiday cards for the Shoptaws and knowing the the most expensive part will be the postage.  There's something about making a thing from scratch that just feels right.  

Happy Holidays!!


Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Everything Old IS New Again

Today, a journey has begun.  OK, it began some time ago, I just diverted course for a bit and now I'm back with renewed focus and determination.

Around Mother's Day, I started working part time for a local business, and then three days became five-six days and the hours started getting longer and longer.  As much as I enjoyed this new opportunity, it did not fit well with my family or other commitments I had made in my life.  So yesterday was the last day with that wonderful company, although I did request that they call me from time-to-time to help with big projects/events.  I made many friends and learned a lot, mostly about myself and how I need to prioritize better.  

So many people have asked, "What now?"  Well, it's a return to what I was doing before, focusing on my family, volunteer work and my photography.  My husband and I are working on house plans and dreaming of the place we want to build together which is a lovely diversion.  I go to bed at night walking the house and decorating each room, trying out different color schemes until I see the right one in my minds eye.  

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving and when I reflect on what I am truly thankful for this year, it really boils down to family.  My parents, in-laws, husband, son, brother, brother in law, and two wonderful sisters in laws, nephews, grandparents, my cousins, aunts and uncles, and so many more.

Anthony and I at Clear Creek Farm, November 2012,
preparing for his 9th birthday party
There's also the family that we adopt in life, those lovely friends who seem to know when to say the right thing to lift your spirits.  Who show up unannounced and help when they aren't asked.  For them, I am so very thankful this year, especially my "PTA Sisters" who have been amazing.

I'm thankful too for The Farm, the property on which we plan to build, where I see my son thrive in nature and where I'm inspired constantly.  It belongs to our family and that alone makes it a special place.  I love seeing the mosses and twigs on the forest floor, the berries and evergreens bordering the pathways we have carved out in the wild, hearing the rush of water in the creek, and always the changing of seasons which make such incredible natural backdrops.  It takes my breath away to think that one day this setting will be outside my door.

Wishing you a Thanksgiving filled with family and friends.