Living Single While Very Married… The Mystery of the Burnt Out Bulb..

Any of you fans of Nancy Drew when you were growing up?  I was and at least one of those books kept me up one night scared to death.  I read “The Ghost of Blackwood Hall” one warm summer night in the back bedroom of my grandparents farmhouse.  All the adults were downstairs and I could hear their voices drift up the back staircase and yet when I finished the book and turned out the lights every single noise scared me.  From the big clock ticking in the hallway to the old  furniture creaking as it adjusted to the heat. Yes old furniture contracts and expands as the weather changes and voices its  opinion of the warm non air-conditioned  house by making very scary noises.  Well at 10 years old they scared me.

I survived the night but never read another mystery late at night and all these years later I still remember that book vividly.img_1204

Fast forward to the present day and I discovered I had my own mysteries to solve right here at my house.  Not as scary as the ghost in the old mansion but almost as perplexing.

With Paul busy learning the ropes of his new job many miles away I had lots of projects to get done as well as keep up with house.  Strange things started to happen.  The lighting just wasn’t the same, my car started looking like a Christmas tree with all the lights that blinked on the dashboard, laundry took forever, cabinet doors were open and I kept cracking my head on them and the yard was out of control.

To be honest the funniest one was the light bulbs…I saw many had burnt out and I meant to change them, really I did but for some reason I didn’t.  It took me awhile to figure out why I was waiting and this time it just wasn’t the procrastination gene I inherited.

The mystery was easy to solve.  All of these antiviral things and many more were all things that Paul took care of and either I never noticed or it just wasn’t on my radar to do.  The light bulbs go out all the time but he is so quick to change them that I never bothered.

The car maintenance was also his deal and we both dropped the ball on getting it inspected ( a nice military officer informed me it was 4 months overdue and no I couldn’t get on base with an expired inspection sticker..yikes)! How I escaped getting a ticket is yet another mystery.

The cabinet doors..well I have a really bad habit of not closing them and Paul always closed them if I forgot.

The laundry..well he always helped, especially with the folding.  I sure wish someone would invent a folding and put away machine.  As for the yard..no matter how hard I tried it just didn’t look as good as when he did it..I managed and it was a good work out but not my forte.

Changing the light bulbs just reminded me that he would not be home to do it for a long time.  The other stuff gave me new appreciation for all he does around here that I did not notice.

Many people thought and still think we were crazy to do this living single while very married thing.  Maybe we are but so many good things have happened.   It has given us new appreciation for the little things we do each day to help each other out.  It gave us a taste for life without each other ( no thanks!)  and our love and commitment to each other has grown.

I can’t say I can recommend doing this to strengthen your relationship but I can tell you that noticing the little things he or she does for you, the family and the house will make you smile and love your special guy or gal even more!

It’s Thoughtful Thursday! This gift is always “enough” !

It’s September 1st and while others are mourning the loss of summer I am relishing that things will get back to a regular rhythm. The kids are back in school  (or in my case the grandkids), there will be some really gorgeous fall days and crisp mornings and I, for one, am ready for the change of seasons.

Our family will kick off the fall by celebrating my Dad’s 90th birthday.  I cherish this time I have with my parents and know that each day is a gift.  Except for some hearing issues and forgetfulness my parents are doing well.  The internet and “the facebook” baffle my Mom.  My Dad does know how to send an email or play solitaire on his computer.  Downloads confuse him but then they sometimes hang me up as well.

My Dad requested no gifts for his birthday.  He just wants to be around family.  I actually had to convince him that a family gathering would be nice ( he didn’t want a party).  In the end it was a matter of semantics as we are having a party but not using the “p” word.

Despite my mothers confusion about computers she is aware of Amazon and will ask me to order things.  Recently it was a gift for a friend who is turning 90.  My mother was concerned it wasn’t “enough” of a gift.

We have all been down that road before.

I really dislike the notion of any gift not being “enough”. Who decides what is enough?  My parents are actually pain relief going to the party which in my mind is gift enough but my mother would not let it go.

Finally I came up with the perfect addition to the gift.  Feel free to steal this and use this as we approach the holidays.  It is definitely the quintessential one size fits all and will be universally loved by all who receive it.

I told my Mom to write Sylvia a note and include all the special memories they have shared and why her friendship and connection through these many years has meant so much.

It is one thing to know this.  It is one thing to verbalize it.  Having it written down adds a new dimension.  It can be read, and reread, held close to the heart and touched.  Running a hand over a written note can be soothing and a connection can be felt to the words and the time and sentiment that went in to writing the words on paper.

[bctt tweet=”A handwritten note is a gift that fills the heart. It can be read, and reread, held close to the heart and touched. It’s connecting your heart to theirs with words.” username=”jenniferbross”]

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I’m pretty sure something like this can’t be bought at Amazon…or at any store.

Not to spoil the surprise but I know what I want to give and receive as a gift these coming months..and it is more than enough!

Now you know what to do…go out and make it a Thoughtful one!!

It’s Thoughtful Thursday…Cherishing those 45 seconds

It was a busy weekday afternoon.  Nothing out of the ordinary.  Life at my daughters’ house was full of kids, laughter, teasing and loud voices.

The voice of  urgency to get everyone ready for soccer practice rang out a familiar tune as kids ran around getting things together, filling water bottles, looking for lost shoes.

A little deja vu for me from years past.  I sometimes missed those crazy days and enjoyed being in the midst of all the chaos for a bit.

Ava Grace sat on her Dad’s lap getting soccer shoes tied with her long wavy hair in tangles around her head sweaty from a day of soccer camp.  She jumped down and handed me her hair elastic to help her put her hair up.  I was grateful there was no need to brush out the many tangles but I made an attempt as I gathered her hair up and stroked it gently…braid or pony tail ….pony tail…I gathered up her hair like I had done her for her Mom for  many years and quickly made a pony tail wrapping the elastic around it…akin to riding a bike, something I could do blindfolded.

How many times and how many pony tails had I gathered up for my daughters?  Did I relish the moment?  Did I cherish it? Did I know how special it was to have that moment.?  Nope. And  today I got a do over in my heart .

It was only 45 seconds.  Ava Grace did not give it a second thought, but I did.  There is something special and elegantly simple in creating a ponytail.  It is just an everyday ordinary moment that I have done a zillion times. And yet today it meant something.  If felt like an honor to do something so ordinary, so simple.  It is those simple things in life that connect us.  Making a meal together, doing dishes, brushing hair, whispering good nights.

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[bctt tweet=”It is the simple things in life that connect us” username=”jenniferbross”]

My wish for you on this Thoughtful Thursday is to honor those wonderful but often ignored moments.  Cherish those 45 seconds and savor them.  They are quick but oh so important.  Now you know what to do 🙂  go out and make it Thoughtful One.

It’s Thoughtful Thursday: # Kindness Counts

Yes !

Kindness counts in so many ways.  

This has been on my mind for a long time.  Just today it came up again as I was reading a post from a blogging friend.  She was uber excited about a trip her family is on and fortunately for those of us who have the pleasure of knowing her, she is keeping us updated on every detail.

Normally I wouldn’t want to hear every detail but this trip is different. The purpose of this trip is both heartbreaking and heartwarming so when I eagerly read her post this morning my heart sank when one of the people commented that she needed to remember the focus of the trip and to curb her enthusiasm.

I wanted to cry.

There is no way my friend could forget the purpose of the trip to Disney or why they were taking it.  She has been preparing for months.  Her organizational skills astonish me.  She has 7 kids.  Most are adopted and have special needs.

I can barely get myself out of the door let alone do it for a family of nine.  And she does it with a smile.

As you may have anticonvulsant guessed this  is a “Make a Wish Trip”.  One of her daughters has a limited life span and they are taking the trip while she can enjoy it.

So no she hasn’t forgotten the purpose of the trip .  I applaud her enthusiasm and excitement.  I hope she enjoys it just as much as the kids or even more.

Maybe the person commenting was having a bad day or jealous of their adventure. Who knows?  It’s easy to comment negatively on social media sites.  I wonder if this person would have said the same thing to her in person.

That is my top rule.  If  I wouldn’t say it in person it has no business being posted or written anywhere .

Let’s start a movement of being kind to one another, supporting one another and celebrating others excitement and enthusiasm.

Start now.  Pick up the phone, write a note, celebrate an adventure, support your friends with kindness.

Kindness does count and we all could use a daily infusion of it.

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Now go out and make it a Thoughtful One!!

Living Single While Very Married! The first of many good-byes…

After our very long road trip to get Paul to his new job the day we were dreading arrived.  No matter how many times we have done this, saying good-bye never gets easy.

I stood in the airport trying not to feed into my fear and uncertainty.  We had no idea how long this would last, how often we would see each other, if he would like the job, or if it would just be too much for the both of us.

What had we done?

The list of unknowns grew exponentially and I finally had to put it out of my mind or I was going to go crazy.

I thought back to our very first real good-bye when we were  at the ripe old ages of 21 and 22 yrs. He headed to flight school and I headed back to college. It was hard enough then but we did have the advantage of a pretty solid time frame and a date when we knew we would be together forever.

Navy deployments followed, along with TDY’s ( temporary duty assignments) and other things that kept us apart.

One thing remained constant.  We always dreaded the good-byes.  The last hug, the last kiss, the promise to write ( calling was not always an option, no cell phones or even computers back then) and the hope that time would go quickly.

Thirty years later and we were back to where we started.

So we hugged and said good-bye, took some deep breaths and I boarded the plane and started this new unknown adventure.

Three  things I knew for sure:

I loved Paul enough to let him go pursue his dream.

He loved me enough to understand that I needed to stay.

And the one  other constant with all these separations that we always looked forward to…

The “hello’s” are ever so delicious!!

I don’t have any photos of our goodbyes and only one of our hello’s but it remains a favorite.  At Barbers Point Naval Air Station, Oahu , Hawaii  Feburary 1984..a few days away from being a family of four!

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It’s Thoughtful Thursday: Remember these two words…

Do you remember when the letters of the alphabet finally made sense?  When you finally realized that if you put those letters in a certain order they actually made words.  Words that you could read?

It’s a powerful moment.

That moment came to me in first grade and the word was “Jump” !  I often wondered why I remembered this moment so clearly and even what the word was and the excitement I felt that this reading thing, these letters, that word finally made sense.S059QDGBOG

So  many years later I realize that making that leap from just letters, to words, to reading opened up an entire new world to me.  It’s like an exciting trip I’ve been on that never ends.

Even if you don’t like to read or write, words will excite you in other ways.  What new parent doesn’t get excited over their child’s first word?  Just recently my grandson started saying “Grandma”.  Up until that moment, for some reason, he called me “Grandpa” 🙂 It may seem like a little thing but when I walked in and he said “Hi Grandma” my heart sang.

This morning as I was scrolling through my mail I ran across a piece of art by Kelly Rae Roberts.

It simply said these two words:

LOVE WIDE

It stopped me in my tracks.  It said to me we can love in all directions.  We can really love wide with all our words.  Make them big, make them simple but spread them widely to your friends, family and strangers.  Spread them via snail mail,  texts, or emails.  Leave them on post it notes for people to find on windshields, in desks, in pockets, on steering wheels, in lunches, on coffee cups.notebook_pen_hires

 

Better yet leave them for strangers to find.  Imagine finding a note under your windshield wiper that said “you matter” or “you are loved”.  Those could be the only kind words that person encounters today.

Those words, that small gesture won’t be forgotten.

So this Thoughtful Thursday love widely with your words however you choose to do it.  I’ll bet the thought of  this just made you smile!

As always, go out and  make it a Thoughtful One!

 

It’s Thoughtful Thursday! Are you really being grateful?

I love November.  I love Thanksgiving!  I also love that people focus on gratitude intensely this month.

The “attitude of gratitude” is rampant and that’s a problem.  It sounds nice, it has good intentions but often that is where it stops.  I never even thought about it until I heard author and social worker Brene Brown speak about yoga.

She said she loves everything about yoga:

  • the mindfulness
  • the peace it brings people
  • the comfy clothes
  • the music

She loves it and thinks it is awesome and has tons of yoga clothes that she loves but then she said …..

She has never done yoga.

Not even once.  Never on the mat.  No downward dog.

She had an “attitude of yoga” but not a “practice of yoga”.

Makes sense, right?  We can have all the “tudes” we want but until we get out there and actually do it, it remains an attitude with no action.

Every time I post about Thougthful Thursday I always end it with “Now go out and make it a Thoughtful One”!

And today I will challenge you to take your “attitude of gratitude” and make it a “practice of gratitude”

What does that look like?  It will probably be different for everyone but it can be as simple as saying “thank-you” for something somebody does for you everyday but never gets noticed … as in thanking your spouse for remembering to put the garbage out or always changing light bulbs.

It wasn’t until I was almost in the dark after Paul had been gone for awhile that I realized he ALWAYS replaced the burnt out light bulbs.  I thank him when he is home for doing the “Bub” patrol as we call it!!

A speaker that I know, Connie Podesta, put this saying on her facebook page and I stole it ( the saying not the photo) and I also adopted it into my daily gratitude practice.  It doesn’t get any simpler than this:Image-1

So today and for the rest of the month ( and hopefully forever) have a “practice” of gratitude.  It will do your heart good.

Now go out and make it a “Thoughtful One” !  I KNOW you will!

 

It’s Thoughtful Thursday! Take the risk and say this….

Sometimes the most thoughtful thing you can do to connect with someone is also the hardest.

Losing someone you love dearly is gut wrenching.  Saying goodbye is never easy even if the person you are saying goodbye to has had a long and good life.

I think there is an added dimension of grief when it is a young child or baby.

We all have good intentions when supporting our friends and family during this emotional tearful time.  We bring food, we call, we send cards and then….well then it gets awkward.  Do we bring another meal, send another card or do we even bring it up at all?

Do we mention their name?

We are afraid of adding to the grief, of being the reminder that their loved one or friend is gone.  We long for them to find joy again, to take away their pain, to have it all be good.

So often we say or do nothing and promise ourselves we will call tomorrow or send a card in a few days.  Those days become weeks and soon it has been months since we have made that promise.

We have all done it.  Put a BIG guilty stamp on my forehead.

And then I had an amazing lesson in what I know to be true.

Many of you know I work at our local hospital in the Mother Infant Unit.  I work with some awesome women.  The vast majority are younger than I am so we have lots of co- workers having babies.  We get so excited over one of our own having a baby.  So much so that you never know we see it on a daily basis.

One of our co-workers was 16 weeks pregnant when shewent to her OB appointment and discovered her baby’s heart had stopped.   She was devastated. We all felt horrible.  We supported her as best we could and after a little while she returned to work.  It must have been so difficult to come back to work and see all the Moms with their newborns but she did it.

Fast forward to 4 1/2 months later and I sat down next to Carol to chart on the computer.  I suddenly realized that her original due date was that month.

I had a little conversation with myself.  Do I say anything?  Does she want to remember?  We are at work, will it upset her too much?  Finally I felt a gentle nudge at my heart.  I like to think it was spirit or perhaps my guardian angel who whispered “What would you want?’

So I leaned over and said ” I just want you to know that I didn’t forget  your baby would have been here this month and I am thinking of you.”  She thanked me, smiled and then leaned into me and said “Want to know a secret?”  I nodded and she said “I’m pregnant” I was one of the first to share her joy.  What a privilege!

That was three years ago.  She welcomed a healthy son into the world to join her two daughters.  I KNOW she has not forgotten the baby that will never get to grow up with the other three. And even if my gesture had not been met with such joy I know it would have been appreciated that I remembered her little one.

I keep that in mind when friends have lost loved ones.  I mention them. I share a memory.  I keep their photo on my frig.  I want them to know I did not forget.

So being thoughtful can sometimes be hard, but it is worth it.  It is so important.

And as gently as I can say this “Go out and make it a Thoughtful One!”

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He didn’t have me at “Hello”

The things we nurses see could fill a few books with lots of stories left over. Most are humorous,some tragic and some jaw dropping.

I often see funny things on the internet about the life of a nurse and they are so true.  We wring our hands if our patient hasn’t peed in the last 8 hours all the while forgetting we haven’t peed in the last 12 hours.

My hospital friendships are the best.  We see and do things together that are unimaginable. I am fortunate to work with a group of supportive nurses and rarely go down the hall without being asked  “Are you doing okay?”  “Do you need anything?” even when they themselves are running around like crazy.

And yet we get jaded. I am taking liberties saying “we” but I know it is true.  I work with new Moms and newborns.  It is the best job ever and yet I do have patients that test my limits of being gracious and understanding.  I know I am not alone.

And then out of nowhere a patient or their relative touches my life in such an unexpected way that I wake up at 4am on a Saturday morning and know I have to get it down on paper.

I rounded the corner of the hospital hallway in my usual brisk pace when I am on a mission to get something done.  I almost run smack dab into this tall guy.  First thing I notice is his long scraggly beard with the middle of it confined to an 8 inch braid complete with pony tail elastic around it.

He says “excuse me” and I do the same all the while parking the thought of “strange” in my head and I continue on my mission to complete a task.

Fast forward as I am rounding on my patients.  There he is again.  He is the father of a newborn.  The braid from the beard is gone, he smiles and is very quiet and I get my tasks done.

Like I said “He didn’t have me at “hello”…  and yet there was something about him that stuck with me.

I sat down to chart and somehow this patient came up and my fellow nurse said..”that Dad has the most beautiful blue eyes”!

Shame on me..I had not stopped long enough to notice or to even take the time to have more than a few words.  I silently told myself to slow down.

As my shift progressed I noticed little things about him.  He was exceptionally kind to all those around him, he was gracious and always polite.  He went out of his way to help us with his girlfriends’ care and the baby.  He never expected anything from us and was exceedingly grateful for whatever we did.

He was genuine in a way that I rarely experience.

So I mentioned it to my friend.  She went onto to tell me about how kind and helpful he was to her (the nurse) as his baby was being born.  Before I left, the nurse who took over their care came out of the room and just exclaimed “What a nice guy!”

It’s not that we don’t have nice families and patients all the time but there was just something about this fellow.  I could tell this was his essence.  He wasn’t buried in his phone, or attached to the T.V. or trying to make us laugh. He was totally present, paying attention and helping out when he could with the little things.

He was just being himself.

He made a difference just by being who he is and I am a better person for it.  He touched my heart  without knowing it and he won’t be forgotten.

So no he didn’t have me at “hello”.  He wasn’t suppose to endear me with his looks, or anything superficial.

He did it in a better way.

He did it with his kind and loving spirit.

 I know there are angels on earth that are here to teach us.  I think he just may be one of them.

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It’s Thoughtful Thursday! It’s okay to just be and not fix anything

I spent time with my parents this past week. I went out of fear, out of necessity but mostly out of love.  My parents are 88 yrs young.  My Dad will be 89 this month.

By all accounts they are doing amazing.

Amazing as in I just taught my Dad how to download, open and print an attachment.  He was amazed at how easy it was.  He and two of his friends ( 85 +) were going to try and figure it out together. I can only imagine and chuckle a little at how that scene would have unfolded.

So yes they are doing amazing….. except when they are not.

Two calls to 911 for my Mom in less than a week gave us a bit of a start.  She collapsed twice. Once for outrageously high blood pressure. Once while sitting on the couch just talking to my Dad ..scary I know.

So I went to be with them, bring food (I am not the best cook but I have a few dishes I have perfected) and a few gifts I knew my Mom would appreciate.

Mostly I went to be..just be with them. Not to clean (their house is cleaner than mine) not to clean out the frig (my Mom’s version of Tetris) not to tell Mom to throw out magazines (maybe next visit).

No this visit was just to wiggle myself in, love and just alcoholism be.

Mom and I watched a movie ( While You Were Sleeping), I updated her digital frame and put the same photos in a photo album. We chatted, watched the deer in the woods behind their house, and laughed at the jokes that Dad told. We have all heard them numerous times but he gets such a kick out of telling them again we can’t help but laugh.

It used to be when I went home I fell into the role of daughter which looked a lot like this:Mom and meJPGStill their little girl, or as my Dad likes to refer to me..his fat baby.  It’s a term of endearment referring to my baby days when I was indistinguishable from a rather quishy basketball 🙂

These days our visits look more like this:

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Just so you know, Thoughtful Thursdays came from my Mom. I remember always seeing her sitting in the kitchen writing letters, or notes. And she still does. Never misses sending a birthday card or just a note.

So this visit was not to “fix” anything but just to be with my parents.

We need to do more of that.

Just be, just love and cherish our time together.

It is what Thoughtful Thursday is all about. It’s the connection.

My hope for you is that you get to love and be loved today. There is nothing better!

Now go make it a Thoughtful One!