Fighting the Blues with Love

Maybe it’s because my favorite season is drawing to a close, or perhaps it’s the looming allergies of fall, but I usually have a big case of the blues in September.  Most people love this time of year – crisper weather, the prospect of New England’s leaf colors, apple picking, and maybe even the advent of the school year.  I feel the opposite.  It’s like a little death for me when summer ends.  Couple that emotion with the recent anniversary of that horrific day 10 years ago when thousands of innocent people lost their lives, and you have a recipe for major blues.  I’m from NY, so there were people in the towers that I knew.  I cried for all those deceased, their families, and myself this week.  In retrospect, it might not have been a good idea for me to read two books with deeply sad themes, Sarah’s Key and Room, at this tender time, but they are book club selections, so I read them anyway.  By doing that I just may have unwisely tipped the scales of the appropriate amount of grief intake, making it just too hard to absorb so much at once.

The night of September 11th, 2011 I lay awake at 2 a.m. thinking about loss and all its incarnations: in addition to the grief of our nation, I lost my brother a year and a half ago to a heart attack.  Due to recent unpleasant events, I lost a relationship with a formerly close friend.   Last week a lovely woman therapist we greatly admired, and sometimes consulted, lost her battle with cancer.  All this sorrow came crashing around me like discordant music, creating a clenching feeling in my heart.  As I lay there quietly sobbing, a Barred Owl hooted her haunting bark-like hoot somewhere in our woods, breaking through the noise in my head.  I slid over to my sleeping husband and pulled his arms around me.  He must have felt my shoulders heaving because he held me close and stroked my hair.  His warmth and gentleness eased my pain, and I became acutely aware of the comfort of human contact, of love.

I am not prone to dwell on the negative, or to allow myself a lengthy pity party, but sometimes too much is, well, too much.  So, having had a good cry, I awoke the following day exhausted, but renewed in my commitment to love and comfort others as well as myself.  Each of us is undoubtedly and indelibly affected by 9/11’s tragedy, and life is always throwing us curveballs, so in the face of that reality, I embrace today with my heart open and my arms ready.  Loving human contact, kind words, thoughtful gestures – these are the keys to a good life.   When I watched the History Channel’s show called “102 Minutes That Changed America” I was struck by the humanity of those around Ground Zero as the horror unfolded.  Brave doesn’t begin to describe these people.  They are my inspiration as I move through my sadness – their goodness, caring and selflessness are my goals today.  Love is the answer.  One day at a time, one person at a time.

All You Need is Love

-The Beatles

Three things will last forever–faith, hope, and love–and the greatest of these is love.

-1 Corinthians 13:13

 

 

 

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I’m Not a Perfect Wife…..

I’m not a perfect wife; I do not have a perfect husband.  There is no such thing as a perfect marriage.  There is such a thing as a good, healthy marriage though.  A marriage that is based on trust, friendship, communication, intimacy, and humor.  I have been married now for 10 years; for some that may seem like a long time, but for others it may seem like only a drop in the bucket.  Here are some things that I have learned over the past 10 years of marriage that I feel help to keep a marriage happy and healthy:

1.  Make Time for Your Spouse:

From as simple as asking your mate how their day was (and truly listening and engaging with conversation and eye contact) to making plans for date night!  Especially when you have kids in your life and most things throughout the day revolve around them, it’s very important to have that time together to continue your relationship with each other.  Turn off the TV, put down that book, stop doing work on the computer, and take time out for that special person in your life to let them know they truly are special.

2.  Keep Common Interests

Continue doing the things you enjoyed together before marriage and in the early years  to help sustain the marriage.  It’s easy to change as you age and find new interests, but keeping some similar interests (or creating new ones together) is an important part of making a relationship successful.  For instance, we have always loved to travel, so for our 10-year anniversary we planned a trip together to Ireland (a country on our joint wish list of places to travel), and we went by ourselves (thanks again to my parents who watched the kids!).  It was a great experience to focus on us as a couple, and not just the us as parents.

3.  Talk Things Out

This is probably the hardest one for me, because I do have a hard time not becoming overemotional and hurt during a discussion, but it truly does help to have honest and open talks about your feelings with each other (even if you do feel hurt by it at first).  My husband is able to talk about his feelings in a very open, calm, and logical manner.  Even so, I still sometimes get hurt and defensive, but in the end it’s always good to have that open line of communication to know how the other is feeling.  It makes the relationship stronger when you share and communicate with each other and do your best to meet the other person’s needs.

4.  Have Fun with Each Other

They always say laughter is the best medicine, so a fun-loving household is beneficial to everyone in the family,  parents and kids alike!  My husband truly is funny, even though I don’t always let on that I think he is, and he brings so much joy and laughter into our family and into our relationship.  A fly on the wall would definitely hear some laughter coming from our house.  Laughter helps relieve stress, brings people together, and just makes for an all around happier environment.

5.  The Importance of Intimacy

Intimacy should not go out the door just because you get married, it should continue to be a part of your relationship (one in fact that should even get better with time).  This can be from a gentle touch to rubbing your spouse’s shoulders, or even just the way you look at your significant other.  Everyone wants to feel loved and important, and both partners need to continue to show the other that they are important, attractive, desired, and even just cared for.  Keeping your intimate life strong keeps the bond of the partners strong.  Go snuggle up to your spouse and give them a kiss!  Tell them they are loved!

 

All marriages have their ups-and-downs, because as I said before, no marriage is perfect.  Marriage takes time, commitment, understanding, and hard work to keep it strong and lasting.  Sometime you have to give in, and sometimes you have to know when to let things go.  Compromising and communicating can be difficult, but in the end if the prize is a healthy marriage then the work is worth the effort.  Working toward a good, healthy marriage is on-going, but continuing to put effort in together brings the couple even closer.  My husband has taught me a lot (and continues to teach me) about how to be a better person, mother, spouse, and friend.  He is my teacher, my friend, my partner, my confidant, my imperfect loving husband, who I will continue this journey called marriage with!

A Happy Couple………..

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Makes for a Happy Family!

 

 

 

 

 

 

* What do you think is important in your marriage to keep it strong and healthy?

Kristin Wheeler

Miracles Do Happen

My mother is an introverted dynamo. By that I mean she has managed to hide how shy she is in order to make a name for herself in business, and money for her family. She reminds me of the Donna Reed character, Mary, in “It’s a Wonderful Life”. Without her ‘George’ (really named Roger) she may have ended up a skittish single librarian. Roger, my father, with all his charms and pedigree, was not a good breadwinner. Mom, called OJ, eventually tired of the shoestring approach to raising 5 children, and headed off into NYC to start a successful business career that put a kitchen addition on our old Victorian, and took us all to Bermuda two times, just for starters. It turned out, not only did she join the ‘old boy network’ seamlessly, but she liked it – a lot. As the years passed, she and Dad moved hither and yon for her new business opportunities, finally settling and retiring in Maine in their seventies. Roger never begrudged OJ the role she had taken on, but sometimes I’d hear her wish for a break in the decision-making. Wouldn’t it be nice, she’d often wonder, to have him choose the restaurant? Oh well…
Four years ago, when OJ was 83, Roger died from a lung disorder that snuck up on us all. He was sweet and docile until the end, and we miss him very much. OJ was, and is still, so vibrant, embracing all life has to offer.  Eventually, she moved near us in suburban RI to be close to her youngest grandkids. We saw her often, but much of her time was spent reading in her wingback chair alone in her apartment. OJ loves to be around youth and vitality, but her apartment building was seniors only. It was increasingly clear that loneliness was setting in, so, being the sensitive and meddling daughter I am, I suggested she join the website: www.seniorpeoplemeet.com, and set up a page. She was game, but not too savvy on the ‘how-to’s’, so I happily obliged. It doesn’t hurt that my mom is one of the most youthful octogenarians I’ve ever seen (I deeply hope that I carry those genes!), so I was certain she would be quite sought after. I posted a photo, see above, of her sitting with my then 6-year-old daughter, Olivia (named for OJ which stands for Olive Jean, but Mom never liked the Olive, so Olivia was chosen instead), and then we browsed through the five gentlemen listed in little Rhody. The only one Mom liked was a white-haired man who I thought resembled an older Spencer Tracy. He had a wonderful profile message describing a symbiotic life to my parents’ overseas in Asia during post WWII. He had also been a Dean of Students at a college, walked with a cane as OJ does, spoke of a love of travel, and generally seemed a great fit for Mom. So, we wrote to him…and wrote again. Nothing came back. Hmm, was he not interested? Away? Taken? Um, or worse…OJ waited from March through April for a response, then in a moment of exasperated inspiration, she figured out how to navigate the site solo and wrote one last entreaty: “Meet me for coffee at Felicia’s in East Greenwich.” Little did we know that the fellow we were writing had his own dutiful daughter monitoring on the other end. Mom’s missive reached her immediately, and she responded swiftly herself with the name and phone number of her dad who’d been away in the Grenadines for a few months.
I must digress here to fill in a few facts. My parents were ‘inexperienced’ when they married in college, and they were together for 62 years before Dad died. In those months after his death, my sister sent the first season of “Sex and the City” to entertain my mom, knowing full well that Dad would have hated the series and the f-bombs throughout. Mom ate it up. Marg, my sister, then sent all 6 seasons, and in May of 2008, we both took her to the movie on opening night. OJ was filling in major gaps in her knowledge of modern day sexuality through this franchise – and loving every minute of it!
So, back to getting the phone number of the man she so wanted to meet…OJ said, if not for “SATC”, she would never have had the nerve to call up a stranger and drive to his house for lunch – alone! Boy, is she glad she did. She and now 93-year old Bill have been inseparable since they met in May 2009. I know this because when she moved in with him that November, and I cleaned out her refrigerator, I could see it had not been opened once in all that time. The lovebirds have made many trips in these two years including a boat ride up the Rhine and Danube Rivers from Budapest to Amsterdam, and one through the Panama Canal. They lovingly care for one another, read books together, entertain often, and have a great time watching football over a bottle of wine. Bill was a Colonel in the US Army, and as a result, is very decisive. Mom loves that. She is all aglow and sparkly around him, and is thoroughly delighted to go to the restaurant of his choice. As she said in her holiday card the year she met Bill: “miracles do happen”.

 

 

 

OJ & Bill

Being old doesn’t mean you’re done. Do you have a story of finding love late in life?

(This article was previous published in part on More.com)

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