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Friday, September 30, 2011

Did you ever notice when you first try a new food that you really like a lot, or buy a new pair of jeans that fit just perfectly, or watch a new television show and LOVE it, or go to a restaurant for the first time and love the music the atmosphere and the whole experience, it feels so great that you want to eat, wear, watch, and go there again and again? Now, how about that completely amazing, butterflies in your stomach, can't eat, heart racing, 2 hour prep. time first date? Remember how it made you want to do it again and again[I mean go on the date again and again , not IT again and again, however, that maybe the case for a first date But NOT for me of course!!!] Or the first time you knew for sure that the crazy emotions you were feeling for someone were mutual and weren't just a freaky crush on someone who didn't like you at all? Remember the excitement that brought? I once heard someone who was an addictions counselor describe how addicts become addicted to their drug of choice as a  search for that "amazing first time high" that never happens again. But does that mean that we can never, ever, relive that first time great moment with something we love? If that is the case, MY GOD, how SAD!!

On the other hand did you ever notice that the more you indulge or participate in something it eventually doesn't seem as rewarding? Maybe moderation is the key to happiness? Maybe often we are enjoying things a lot, we just don't realize it because we are so busy with other things. Or, maybe things just look different after being around them or in them or eating them often that we forget the excitement and happiness they bring.

All this came to me while I was making my bed yesterday. I purchased my comforter set in the spring and LOVED it, when I looked at it yesterday I HATED it. It made me wonder how could I possibly love this thing so much at one point in my life. What happened? My perception of it changed so much that I am now on a quest to find a perfect-warm-fall/winter set. [ Really that's how much I was sick of looking at it. Maybe I just like to shop and that is a good excuse at any rate that thing will be gone and soon] Anyway, when and how does this happen? I have seen it time and again with marriages, with relationships, jobs, cars, etc...I know it's normal and it can't just be me, well I think so anyway. Which leads me to the next question, why has it never happened with my mom, siblings, best friends and children?

I LOVE MY FRIENDS!!! ALWAYS!!! BFF's! I can't imagine my life without them. I have no idea how anyone could survive without their go to gals, their peeps that accept them just as they are, the ones who you could tell anything too and they still love you just as you are. Not even your parents give this kind of unconditional acceptance [well this is what I have been given as a gift in life, the most unbelievable girls/women in the world].  We have been friends since the age of 5 and up. We have been through marriages, divorces, relationships good and bad, loss of loved ones, welcoming new life with the births of our children, career changes, fights with parents and siblings, parties, celebrations, christenings, and LIFE in all it's forms....We can go months or more and not see each other and pick up exactly where we left off. These girls, women, mothers, partners, best friends, are one of the things in my life where change is a constant - that I count on to remain the same. My perception of them does not change, and I love them all dearly...My life would never be the same without any of them. And words can't express my gratitude, admiration, joy, and appreciation I have for each of them [I love you guys!!! You are wonderful to me and my family, and I thank you for accepting me as a friend].

So my perception of them has not changed, my perception of my children also does not change. Everyone knows how I feel about my boys so I don't even need to express my emotions about them because I would not do justice. They make me crazy, try my patience to the limits, make me cry both tears of joy and sadness but I can't ever imagine how I could survive without either of them in my world. They are so different yet one thing they have in common is that I love them. 

Two divorces, well enough said about my perceptions there...

Family, well family is family. I feel we are better as adults than we were as children [my siblings and I that is]. My mother has given us the gift of being kind to each other, and too help and support each other, we faced many challenges as children and we are a resilient bunch. We are unconditional and far from the norm but we always have each other's back and for that I am always grateful.[Thanks Mom for making us resilient and giving us an unconditional upbringing and teaching us life lessons that only you could have taught. Thanks Sandy and Chuck for being there, being you, being the best siblings a person could have! Love you guys always and forever].

Now, I sit here writing, wondering how to put my thoughts into words and I guess it's simple. We have the power to find the good in even what appears to be the ugliest of things, we have the power to find in ourselves the "feel good" moment that we once experienced with something and use it. Maybe we can never relive that first time "great" moment, but things can still feel good. Maybe there is something comforting in familiarity. Maybe if we search for those things that can only provide us with the wonderful first time rush we waste other emotions that can be just as exciting and rewarding. And maybe we need to search for new and exciting things to a point, so that we always have something to work towards, but finding the good in daily things can be just as rewarding. Perspectives!!! They sure are a funny thing. I am just saying...

Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Name Game

Lockman, Crawford, Smith ??? These are last names I have used to date in my life. Yeah, 3 lasts names. As a man you are lucky to be born with the name you will have for the rest of your life, even if you marry 20X's you keep your name. [so unfair!]

My maiden name is Lockman. I actually hated this name growing up. I wanted my mother's maiden name which she eventually used after a divorce. The name isn't bad. It's strong, it's professional, it's easy to spell and pronounce, it's not very common in my "neck of the woods" and so it probably wouldn't have been such a bad name to have carried throughout my life.

In 1993 I graduated from high school, that same year in October I married thing 1. His last name was Crawford. Thing 1 was in the Navy and we prob. wouldn't have married if he wasn't stationed in California. He is and was a great person who at the age of 18 provided many things for me and our son who was born in June of the following year. I finally had a name I LOVED!!! Catherine Crawford, it sounded like a "movie star" [so I thought. I loved that name!!] I had a very difficult time changing it, not because I had an attachment to thing 1 [ who was friend throughout school, and he and his new family and I remain friends. He is a good father and a good person. We were way too young!] because I LOVED THAT NAME, when thing 2 came along and after years of dating we married in 2004. My name became Catherine Smith. At first I tried to hyphen it, I even held onto Crawford on some forms of ID. Finally, after thing 2 and I divorced and three years later I finally become legal on every document, my official name is Cathy Smith. Plain Jane, ordinary, one of the most common first and last names. BUT, I now have accepted it. My name is Cathy Smith. While it is ordinary, and I may look ordinary I am not. And my name is OK. I accept it.

Problem here, son 1 is Crawford. Son 2 is Smith. Engaged again will = another NAME....I can't do it again. I just can't play this name game. Is it wrong to own a name just for me that I won't have to change? Is it wrong that I feel like Smith is now MY name, without affiliation to thing 2. Why do I have to change my name? Why would I have to hold a different last name than both of my children who are boys and will keep their names forever? See, it's really just not fair! [leaving me feeling, Fit To Be Tied]

Is a name really that important. My fiance is understanding and liberal and flexible and has said time and time again that he does not care if I take his name, but what about documents and other important information that we will hold together, two different names?

See my issue with this name thing. Now I know that in normal circumstances, people marry once the woman changes her name and all is well until they die. But not with me. I really never have done things in order. So why start now right?

When the day comes that I marry again, I will have made a firm decision and not sure what it will be at this point. But I guess whatever I decide, I know I am who I am, that will not change. My family and friends will always know me as Cathy. And I guess that's who I am. It's important to take a stand on many things in life and keep true to ourselves, regardless of our last names. Should we feel we have to change as women, should we accept societal norms or make our own rules? Should we confirm or change? All still up in the air. Regardless, be true to yourself, as I try to do. Question yourself, but don't let others question who you are. Be you and your name is just a name. I am just saying...

Sincerely Yours,

Just Cathy

Friday, September 23, 2011

I have been thinking a lot lately about something that happened to me a few years ago. I have often thought about this single one incident, however, lately it seems to creep up on me daily. A few years ago, well at this point probably many years ago I was watching the Oprah Winfrey show. It was about following your dreams and paying attention to clues in life that lead us on certain paths to the achieve those dreams. [at least that is what I got out of it]. So, since I can remember I have wanted to be a writer. Due to life and changes and demands it is not always easy to sit down and write. And odds are that many of the people who actually do have time to sit and write don't ever get published [well, that's what I usually tell myself when I even find the time to write] which is why and how I started this blog. Anyway, I have often found myself daydreaming of my next big title, new story, how I will word it, the content of it, the ultimate meaning behind it etc....Until I get that interruption and it all fades away to the back of my mind.

About 10 years ago I started to write a book I titled "The Perfect Man". Years have past and with age and life the meaning has changed dramatically and now this story in my mind is probably much better than the original content. However, this story is still in my mind.

When I actually had time to sit and write a bit and I had just purchased my first computer [which would now be a dinosaur and is long gone] I was also a single mom working as a waitress and in college. I would never announce to strangers my goal of writing this book. Especially not one of the people who would walk into the restaurant that I was serving at the time. Especially not an elderly woman who was sitting alone enjoying an "early bird special". So, I served this woman exactly how I would anyone else, when at the end of her meal she handed me her bill with her money to pay for her inexpensive dinner and told me to "keep the change and read the note". I opened it and inside was about a $10.00 tip [Which was actually a lot, considering her meal was only about 8-10 dollars] and a note on a piece of the ripped paper placement. The note read "I was a waitress once in a park hotel I could take it 2 weeks. Just your experiences would be good material and we need writers about decent things. sp. children. Ann Halpin" Her address and phone number were also listed. I have this note now stained and dirty in a frame in my home.

I do not know who this woman was, I never saw her again...Maybe I should look her up. Maybe it's just cool to have that question in my mind. Maybe something in life will lead me back to her in some way. Maybe that in itself could be another story. Maybe?  I actually kept a vigilant eye out for her for years in the restaurant.

Over the years I have re-read this note probably a million times. It often serves as inspiration when I feel like I can't do things. This note may or may not have been my clue to the path I should be on. However, I never called or looked her up.

I went on to finish my undergraduate degree, and my MSW. I currently have a job that for the most part I really enjoy, I work with children and I love what I do. But I am still feeling like I need to do something with this note.

I have thought about continuing a series of stories on this blog, almost like a television show, and working in my thoughts on my book [which will prob. have a different title]. Anyway, basically my point here is that my fears have gotten the best of me. My own self-doubt has made me wonder if I could even accomplish writing. And again, a clue, a message to myself from myself appeared [maybe Oprah was really on to something with that show and maybe it was a message that I was even watching].

I entered an essay contest a few weeks ago [and much to my dismay I won't know anything about it uuntil January, I HATE WAITING!!!] As I was writing I changed my topic several times, and ultimately it came to me the topic was when I first discovered the meaning of true love. And if I win you will be able to read the full article and if I don't I will post my essay on here so I can complain about not winning. Anyway, I discovered while writing, that I have done some amazing things in my life and overcome some really difficult obstacles. I have achieved things I never ever ever [and know my friends have to agree here] EVER thought possible. Which leads me back to [ curse, curse, curse, Why don't I just try writing the...curse...book]!

Sometimes we are own worst enemies...Self-doubt! I think what I am going to try to do is write a bit of this book each week [along with my other ramblings] and move on from there. So, the point to all of this is keep looking at what you have done, and you can probably do a million times more. Dreams keep us moving forward. Motivation comes in many different forms! I am just saying...

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Mud = Hope = Change

My small little town was hit last week with a devastating flood. This is why I haven't posted anything in a while, sorry about that. Tree lined streets, everything in walking distance, a small little library, homes built over 100 years ago. This town is the place where I made over a decade of memories with all of my best friends who lived within blocks of my home. This is the place where I learned to ride a bike, swam daily at the public pool, drew my name in cement in front of the church, [which lead to my falling and spraining my ankle], walked the streets on Halloween and visited all of my neighbors and friends, played spin the bottle on half days, had my first kiss and listened to my friends talk about their first kisses, made a million teenage memories [some of those teenage memories I can't talk about because I would risk allowing my teenage son to know that I was from an angle]. This is the same town where my children and I live, where I have taken my son's trick or treating, taught both of them how to ride a bike and where I hope they enjoy making the same memories I have made in this small town.

Unfortunately the last week's flooding has left my small town looking more like a war zone. [I have walked around this neighborhood more than I have in the past 10 years] Trash, mud, sewage, houses in ruin. Anyone who lives in this valley and has seen the news has seen the pictures and interviews and it is not the pretty small town I am use to living in.

Through the toxic mud and garbage I also saw some amazing things. On my walks I have past the same homes with most of the same people still living in them and often heard " Hi Cathy, is everything ok?" and  "How are you and do you need anything?" and " Hey did you hear etc..." and lot's of positive thoughts and well wishes. I also heard and saw some amazing volunteer's whose efforts to help everyone is and was just amazing. I saw many of the children I use to see riding their bikes in town or walking home from school, now grown, helping their elderly parents dig out of the mud. What I felt was familiarity and comfort. The town may not look the same but it is still familiar and comforting. How could that be in this mess? This is what I came up with. Most things in life change. Change is actually the only thing in life that is a definite. Things have to change. So when you come across some things that haven't changed, it's familiar and to me familiarity brings comfort.

Change will occur around here, it is inevitable with the devastation that this town has faced. Homes and buildings are being deemed a total loss and not liveable, and so they will be destroyed. But will the people change, will they move [here comes the uncertainty]. Uncertainty breeds stress, worry etc... It can also bring excitement, optimism, and unity.

It's sad that it took this disaster for me to become more familiar with neighbors I did not know, or to stop and see how the "old timers" are doing, or to take those walks around town with my kids. Or to realize that age does not matter when it comes to finding comfort in your mom [thank God for my mom once again. My family including our dog was able to stay with her during the time we were evacuated] Or that holding on to my kids and being thankful for what I have means more than anything. While my home only had about 4 feet in my basement and the things we lost could easily be replaced, we are very LUCKY! [well lucky enough to need a new furnace and hot water heater But we did not have any first floor damage unlike many of my neighbors]

It is also a time for hope. Hope that the areas most affected will recover, hope that the historic landmarks in this town can be salvaged, and hope that once the mud is gone and the traffic slows and the utility trucks leave and the National Guard moves on to another area in need of assistance, I will find time to take walks with my son's, and I will remember to ask my neighbors how they are doing, and I will offer assistance when I see it is needed. Hope that my children have learned to do the same. Hope that my neighbors will do the same. Change may make us nervous and anxious. But it can also bring anticipation and hope. Out of the mud and out of the devastation in this small town, hope and anticipation for positive change may be just the motivation to keep everyone looking towards the future.  

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Motivation

Amberlee

Sometimes I just need a little motivation to get me moving towards the things I want. For example, I love running. However, I need to have several road races in mind for inspiration. It helps to keep me going at least 4-5x's a week. And, I love my job. However, somedays I still need just a little extra motivation to keep me going back for more. So, here are a few of my motivators:


Dooney & Bourke  Large East/West Sac
Simple, but I love it!
From my other posts I am sure you can tell that I am not strictly motivated by material items. But, aren't these beautiful! 

Leather: Florentine The Smith Bag
This one is actually named after me "The Smith Bag". Really! I NEED IT!


Saturday, September 3, 2011

You Can't Judge A Book By It's Cover

Smile

When I walked into my bathroom the cover of one of my favorite magazines made me take a second look. At first I looked because I wanted to see the shirt on the model on the front cover. But then I remembered something that happened over the summer which made me take a second closer look. We had some guests at our house over the summer for a cookout and a comment was made regarding these magazines [I also have to admit, that I LOVE reading these things. And my favorites include Cosmo, Glamour, People Style Watch and US Weekly. I like to know the dirt on the stars, they reference many web sites, recipes, diet and exercise, what's in and out for the seasons etc...]. I never think twice about putting my magazines "away" where people would not read or look at them. I keep them in a tin on the back of my toilette in the bathroom downstairs that everyone uses [as a mom sometimes I only get those few minutes in the bathroom to read them, maybe that’s too much information, o’well]. Ok, so I had the magazines in the same place I have kept them for years and someone made a comment when some of them were not there. The comment was something like; it's good that I put the "dirty" magazines away. [YES, DIRTY!!! REALLY?] Leading me to be [here it comes] "Fit To Be Tied"! "My magazines are not DIRTY! Why would someone think that? My sister is happily married and a mother of two children AND a librarian for God's Sake, AND we share them. I give her the ones I have already read. If they were "DIRTY" she would not read them"! [Yeah that was my logic at the moment, but for those of you who know my sister, you know that if something is “bad” she is not doing it!] I shouted. "And I could come up with a million reasons why someone would have even noticed they weren't there.  And guess why they weren't there? I JUST GAVE THEM TO THE LIBRARIAN! Curse, curse, curse..." [My fiancĂ© actually told me the comment was made, probably not the best thing he has done but as I have said in the past we talk, A LOT. And yes, there was a magazine discussion].

After some time I got over it and after some time I even almost forgot about the comment. Until, I looked at the cover, which is why I looked really closely at the cover and read each title. And guess what? [This is not easy to say] They did look "dirty" the titles of the articles looked REALLY "dirty" I won't even write them but they did [I want to write them because they are also funny but I won't I will keep this PG]. [This is really hard to say] I know why they thought this! [Oops, maybe I shouldn't have yelled like that. Maybe we need to have another magazine discussion a "part two"].

One of the articles’s in particular jumped out at me, and no, it was not one of the "dirty" ones. The article referenced how a smile could get you anything you want. OF COURSE this leads me to think a million things, which is now leading to this blog.

Looking in the mirror I examined my smile thinking, I have been given many compliments on my smile. [So, come on smile work your magic, get me the new Dooney and Bourke that I just saw the other day while shopping. Or those Uggs that I saw in one of my "dirty" magazines, or that gray quilted messenger bag. How about the black Mercedes? The trip to the Island? The long weekend away with my best friends? The Disney trip with my family? Maybe, it could help me cut 2 minutes off of my mile times and I can actually be a top placer in the next road race? Maybe it could help me get money without working? I can be on to something here. Wait, maybe I better whiten my teeth?] I read the article and disappointed I found that it listed some research information, but no real way that my smile could lead to getting me anything I really want. It did say that smiling is healthy, when it's genuine. I love to laugh, smile and giggle.One of my favorite words is Giggle. I have a sign with the word on it in my living room. It makes me and others smile when they see it. It's a good word. Smiles are important; they do make other's feel better in some situations. And they certainly can be good for many things. But getting me what I want, probably not [smiles can have a contagion effect, smiles make others feel good and have an internal reaction within our brains, all this is Cosmo. I am glad I spent a lot of money for my graduate degree in Social Work, just to read some of the same things in Cosmo!].

I know I posted about being happy for what I have. And I am. I can name many aspects in my life that make me truly content and happy. However, I still want that purse and the boots. That's realistic right? I even discussed how to get the purse with one of my best friends [I often call on her to help me with life's major issues and the day I saw that purse and the price tag, this was an issue. I am not mentioning names, SHANNON, but she has assisted me with some major things in life. Best friends since the age of 5. I have an amazing group of friends that I have known for 30+ years. I have an entire post in the works on just them. Anyway, this was an issue for Shannon and she did give me some good advice as always].

Where am I really going with all of this? Wanting that purse and those boots? Sort of. Wanting things isn’t always a bad thing. It can be just the motivation we need to strive forward and work harder. When I think about what I wanted a few years ago and what I have today, I realize that my smile didn’t get me those things. I had a goal, I had a dream, I did things to make it happen. The road I took was not easy, it wasn’t paved with slippery magazine covers that I could slide through on [ok, that may be a bit cheesy but I thought it was a funny]. We don’t always see things as others see them, and whatever it is that our heart desires may not just come to us by the flash of a smile. Things may not always be what they seem, a “dirty” magazine may not really be “dirty” to the person who is reading it, a smile may not get us what we want but it doesn’t hurt to giggle often. Someone who has many things may have worked really hard to obtain them and dreams may not really be all that hard to obtain. Maybe by the winter I will have one or both of the items I currently want, maybe I will have saved the money but decided to buy the kids something instead, and maybe it’s just good enough to know that if I really want something I have the ability to get it. And maybe having a nice smile is just a bonus. [and maybe I will turn the magazines around in the bathroom so the covers aren’t facing everyone who enters the bathroom, or maybe not, it’s a good conversation topic]. I am just saying…