I'm doing a lousy job! My writing is suffering. My housework is an epic fail. I thought maybe I had matured enough to overcome my childish impatience, but guess what! I haven't. I am playing the waiting game and what it looks like is probably about the same as what it would look like if I were on a lacrosse field. Clumsy, silly, disoriented, inept, inadequate and painful to view.
I'm waiting for my car to be looked at and fixed. I'm waiting for a decision on my disability claim. I'm waiting for my book to be printed. All of the people responsibility are doing their part. I am not. I am frustrated and impatient and waiting badly.
How do you handle that crippling feeling when you are forced to wait? Logically, I should be moving on, working hard, creating, uplifting, serving, and generally taking care of business. That would make sense as this sitting around crying gets me what I want no faster.
Share with me how you handle yourselves under these circumstances. I need help!! Oh, and by the
There is an old joke that goes like this:
Heaven Is Where:
The French are the chefs
The Italians are the lovers
The British are the police
The Germans are the mechanics
And the Swiss make everything run on time
Hell is Where:
The British are the chefs
The Swiss are the lovers
The French are the mechanics
The Italians make everything run on time
And the Germans are the police
Are we all guilty of these single story assumptions because they are all just easier to accept and keep us from having to analyze and broaden our minds? I am. My sister shared this wonderful TED video with me and I really love this woman and what she teaches me. I hope I will always be teachable.
So often we look at things and make a judgment. We see something and our mind automatically simplifies it to the lowest common denominator to keep the arduous task of analyzing to a minimum. But if we wait and watch and analyze, we are sometimes rewarded with a depth of understanding that makes the investment worthwhile.
We need to slow down and take time to look beyond the superficial.
We need to focus less on the base and ugly and more on the brilliant possibilities that lie beneath the exterior.
So you indicated you like the stories of extreme humiliation. I can deliver. This one is from The Wasn't Chronicles of my life, as in, it wasn't him and it wasn't him and it most assuredly wasn't him. I still don't have a him except Him and for now that is quite alright with me.
But I digress.
After the break-up of my first disastrous marriage, I needed an evening out. Now my divorce wasn't final and in my faith, that means no dating. I bent the rule a little in the name of a good cause and decided to attend an American Cancer Society fundraiser singles dance. I didn't date. I just attended. But driving there I made up my mind to dance with anyone that asked me. I figured it should be a fairly innocuous event.
I arrived and had to walk through a wall of smoke to get into the "smokeless" dance, as it was advertised. That should have been my first red flag! I was a little nervous going in and surveyed the room, finding a table uninhabited and planted myself there. It was nice getting all dolled up, a break from the jeans and flannel shirts I had to wear for carpentry school.
This is not me not dancing with no one.
It didn't take long for someone to ask and I held to my rule and obliged him. His name was Chen and he came up to mine. Chen liked to get intimate with strangers and when the music blessedly ended, I had to peel him off like a girdle and step out of his arms. It was not pretty. But I was gracious and thanked him for the opportunity to get my groove on.
Next up was Michael. Michael was nice and tall and muscular ,. . . and young. But, rules must be obeyed. As we were dancing, he asked me how old I was. "Really, Michael? Who raised you? Apparently you were never taught to never ask a woman her age. But because I don't care about such things, I'm 38. How old are you?"
"No, come one, dance with me. It's fine. I don't care."
So we danced and I learned that he was a carpenter himself. He did remodeling. We talked about framing and drywall and 22 oz. waffle head hammers. It was enthralling. Then (duh, duh, duh, duh) he asked me out.
I was flabbergasted. Utterly taken aback. I had not dated in 17 years. I told him I couldn't really date yet, but that he could maybe come to dinner and meet my amazing children. I know now how many single mom dating rules (SMDRs) I broke that night.
After the dance, he walked me to my car and told me he'd see me the next evening at 5:00 and that he had something really important to tell me then.
"Really? Why don't you just tell me now?"
"No. I want to wait. Tomorrow night I'll tell you."
More red flags.
The next day I prepped the kids on the fact that a man was coming to dinner and we cleaned and prepared a nice meal.
5:00. No Michael.
5:30. No Michael.
6:00. No Michael.
7:00. Michael calls. He lost track of time. He'll be there shortly. Click.
8:00. Michael arrives. Dinner is over. The kids are already involved in a movie and have no interest in meeting someone so rude.
"So, Michael. What is it you wanted to tell me?"
"They're here? Who's here?"
"They're here. All around us and they look just like us so we don't know who's us and who's them."
I stifled a laugh. Gracious had departed hours before and slammed the door behind her.
"And by them, I'm assuming you mean aliens?"
"Yes. I know because I've talked to NASA and other agencies and they confirmed."
"So, the guys at NASA found time to talk to a little carpenter from Rochester, NY? That's impressive."
"You're mocking me."
"Yes. I am. There's the door. Lose my number."
As he walked toward the door, he noticed a family photo with my oldest beauty who had blonde hair and gorgeous blue eyes, unlike the rest of us.
"I can't help but notice that one of your children doesn't look like the rest."
I quickly caught on and surmised that he was implying I had been abducted, impregnated by an alien, and given birth to a half-breed.
He left. I locked the door. The kids and I had a good hearty laugh. I excused myself for the night and went out in the backyard to study and refresh myself on the laws of dating as set forth in the Single Mom Dating Rulebook.
Today I watched a video that brought me to tears, and by tears I mean a deep, painful sob that started at the tips of my toes and worked its way through years and layers of protection, making a noise that scared even me. It was one of the most cathartic cries I've had in years and brought brought me to a intersection of questions and then directed my path with some answers and a lot of humility. This is the video I'm referring to. Watch and then I'm going to disclose some very intimate details about myself that I hope will help someone out there.
I have not always been who I am now--a woman who proclaims a little too often: "I could never respect a man who loves me." That statement is born of a number of things. I have been told over and over again, "Women fall in love with their ears and men fall in love with their eyes." That leaves me out in the cold. I am many things: talented, creative, sometimes kind and thoughtful, driven, funny, silly, loyal, learning to be less judgmental, striving to be more Christ-like, service oriented, and passionate. What I am not is a trophy and I'm really and truly fine with that. I have learned to love and embrace my autonomy and solitude.
This was my graduation photo. Being a little artsy-fartsy, I chose to do the black and white for dramatic affect. You can't see it here, but I was already constructing layers of protection around my heart and vital organs. Childhood traumas had put me on a path to ruination and it was manifesting itself in my behaviors. I did a lot of preemptive striking to avoid the pain of eventual disloyalty I knew everyone was capable of. I flew without a net and secretly hoped that there was someone below to catch me and hold me.
My childhood traumas were amateurish with displayed alongside the pain of my adult relationships. As many of you know, I had a husband of 17 years who chose to date other women while we were married. I then went solo for a few years and thoughtfully jumped into a marriage with someone who chose to date other men while we were married. Yea, that little discloser could only be endured with the help of two valium to get through the day.
The result of these and a few other random acts of blindness added a few more layers. Stress is so erosive and it took its toll on my bones, spine, joints, disposition, and outlook. I packed on the pounds and was quite a brilliantly functional depressive. I cried a lot, but nearly worked myself to death to support my family.
The result is the today me: 56, overweight, advanced degenerative disc disease, using a walker and sliding into wheelchair territory. But happy. Really happy now inside and deteriorating outside. I finally know who and what I am. I am a child of God, a divine daughter of royal birth and nothing . . . NOTHING that happens in this life will ever change that.
Now back to Dustin Hoffman and his brilliantly pithy disclosure. This man taught me today that there are men who get women. There are men who understand that we are more than the sum total of our parts. That men, and women, often rob themselves of treasures because the chest is too worn or unattractive. I am humbled by his disclosure. I am grateful for his strength to share his story with the world, just as I share mine with you. I am lovable. I am good. I am a princess. I deserve better than what I allow myself to settle for.
So far the votes show that you'd like to see human interest and jokes du jour the most, so this is my offering for today. Happy Sabbath to you all!
This panda walks into a saloon and says to the bartender, "Make me an egg salad sandwich."
The barkeep obliges him and serves up the sandwich, which the panda greedily gobbles down. Then, without a word, the panda pulls out a gun and quickly turns and shoots the piano player. He turns to walk out of the saloon and the bartender says, "Hey, wait a minute, buddy. You didn't pay for that sandwich!"
The panda looks him square in the eye and says, "I'm a panda. Look it up!" and leaves.
The bartender scrambles around and finally finds an old dusty encyclopedia laying around. He looks up panda and reads out loud, "Large Asian marsupial. Eats shoots and leaves."
The great French philosopher, Rene Descartes, walks into a bar. The bartender says, "Hey, buddy, can I pour you something?" Descartes snootily replies, "I think not!" and then he disappears.
Two pretty girl ostriches were strolling down a beach when one of them turns to the other and says, "Oh, no! Don't look now, but I think we're being followed by two boy ostriches!"
Her friend panics and whispers, "Oh, dear! What should we do?"
She replied, "Maybe if we stick our heads in the sand, they won't see us!"
So they did.
One of the boy ostriches turns to the other and asks, "Hey, where did they go?"
Once a mom, always a mom. If you are a woman, I don't have to tell you that. And as moms, we never stop loving, hoping, praying, worrying, fretting, bragging, laughing and crying. Nothing can ever change that. It wouldn't matter what my children did or didn't do, I could never love them less and will love them more each day.
I am 56 and I know my mom still worries about me as I do my children and they do theirs. That's just the way it goes. But I also know she loves, hopes, prays, brags, laughs and cries and I know my mothering children do as well. It's all a big package that encompasses almost everything we feel and think about.
I love these guys so much. Above is Hannah, now married to Thomas and both are students at BYU-Idaho. They are still enjoying the honeymoon and probably always will. Going clockwise is Aaron with his son Gideon. He is unquestionably the best dad I know and a really good man. He also has 3 other children: Makenna, Delta, and Sage. Below him is Emily, married to Jeffrey, and mother to Ella. Emily is a strong woman who has endured much and continues to smile. To her left is Roselie, married to Chris and mother to Riley, Madeline and Harry. She is an incredible woman as well and weathers stress with laughter.
In addition to these, I have stepchildren: Caitlin, Grant, Nathan, Tanner, and Grace and 45 foster children who were temporarily my children.
I just wanted to do a little of that maternal bragging, hoping, and praying with you today. I think I miss my children who are not near more than I realized. I want to reach out and grab them and hold them and tell the
I was thinking today about our something that was discussed in Sunday School--that old concept of "Enduring to the End" and all that it entails. The idea came up that it wasn't just about surviving or barely making it, although sometimes it seems that those are the best we can hope for. It made me think about marathon runners, one of which I have never been nor will I ever be.
Marathon runners know all about the different phases of the run: the adrenalin of the beginning; the winding down and losing stamina; hitting the wall; finding something deep inside that makes you go on; the thrill and endorphins of endurance.
We can look at our entire lives like a marathon or we can break it down into the marathons that make up our life. Every life-changing event carries with it the stress of a marathon. We find ourselves in some sort of crisis and we suddenly come up with the adrenalin to conquer the task. Then the circumstances may find us weakening in our resolve and strength and thinking to ourselves maybe we should just call it a day and turn back. We continue on and hit the wall. There is no way we can possibly ever go on. This is the point at which some folks, myself include, consider alternatives: drinking, suicide, anything that will remove us from the race for even a little while.
Then, if we're lucky, we find that somewhere deep inside of us, we want to make it through. We want the knowledge that we were stronger than the circumstances drowning us. We find it--that little glimmer of hope and toughness that drive us on to finish the marathon. At that point, we realize it doesn't matter anymore if we come in first or last; it only matters that we finish and overcome.
And finally, the spoils of victory. It isn't a trophy or a kiss or a cash prize. It is something much more enduring. It is a quiet strength that we will be able to draw from in the next crisis. We can tell ourselves, and believe it, that if we made it through this, we can make it through the next and the next until our marathon is over.
There are a multitude of platitudes that accompany this and they may or may not diminish the thrill of victory.
My grandmother Shepherd once told me, "Becky Lyn, they may kill you, but they won't eat you, because you're too tough."
That one always made me laugh; but, believe me when I tell you, it has seen me through more than a few crises.
My mother always said, "Becky Lyn, the sun is gonna shine on your back door someday." And, in more recent years, "Becky Lyn, you need to lose your inner doormat and find your inner b!+<#."
Recently, I was particularly down and attended my Sunday church meetings because I knew it was where I needed to be (I'm choosing to run a marathon). I was facing the reality that I was once again without a home and it was wearing me down. (Why did I decide to run this stupid marathon?). Something happened and I began an uncontrollable cry--you know the kind--it starts as a small rumble in your toes and builds into a humiliating audible wail and everyone around you is wondering if they should call 911 and all you really want and would give anything for is a cloak of invisibility? I found myself being escorted into my bishop's office, sobbing and proclaiming, "I'm done. I don't think I want to live anymore. I don't have it in me anymore to fight the fight." (I can't do this anymore! It was a stupid idea. I never should have started. I'm leaving the race.) Questions were asked, assessments were made, plans were formulated, and a declaration of support was given. (Maybe there's something inside me that will help me go on. Remember that one marathon when you were homeless for over a year? You did that. You can do this.) I left, still red and puffy and sniffling, but resolute in my determination to see this race to the finish line . . . until the next crisis, at least.
I patterned the name of this blog from one of my favorites: Single Dad Laughing.
I, like so many others out there, am a Battered Woman Better. With the love and support of one another, we can run the marathons of life. Look around you and see all the marvelous stories of endurance there are. You will find women to pattern your life after. Women who have not only endured, but excelled over the uninvited events in their lives.
Becky Lyn Rickman
Mom of many, servant to my cats, Cary Grant's other girlfriend (still trying to work out the logistics of that one).