Tag Archives: value

Have you ever seen a 98-year-old’s eyes light up?

Have you ever seen a 98-year-old’s eyes light up when you ask them a question? It is an amazing thing!  I know it has never happened to me before, mostly because I’ve never had the immense pleasure of being around anyone who is 98!  My Aunt turned 98 on Monday and although she has 6 living children, none of them live close, so I was able to take her out for her birthday!  She picked the restaurant and the activity in the afternoon and was very happy when I replied, “whatever you want, it’s your day!”  She smiled more and seemed more relaxed than I have seen her in months.  When we arrived at the restaurant, I told her about a book I am reading.  It is about four murders that happened in a town near where her father and in-laws lived, and it happened in 1912.  That is when her eyes lit up!  She said, “you mean the Pflanschmidts!  Yes, I heard about that a lot. My mother-in-law used to visit with Mrs. Pflanschmidt on Thursday afternoon, which was visiting day in those times.”  She continued to talk with animation that I have not heard for a long time.  She told me what she heard had happened, what everyone thought about the guilt of the son and why and how it affected the community and her mother-in-law.  I was thrilled to know the information, of course, but more importantly, I was so very happy to see her face light up with excitement and enthusiasm! She suggested that we go out and “see where all that happened,”  so she could show me how close her mother-in-law lived and how close her grandparents and father lived, also.  She then said her grandmother talked about it too, but she wasn’t as close to Mrs. Pflanschmidt.

After lunch, she chose to go for a ride in the “country.”  Now we live in a relatively small town, so there isn’t far to go to get to the “country,” but she always wanted to live on a farm and raise her family on a farm.  Due to her husband’s health, she was unable to do so, but she still talks about that having been her plan.  I let her choose the route and off we went, with my aunt pointing out who “used to” live there and who built that barn or that house.  My only regret is that I can’t write and drive at the same time! Well, I can and I have, but not with her as “precious cargo.”  I drove over 100 miles that day, which when I lived in a large city was very typical, but for this small town, that takes some doing!  I only wish it would have been 200!  It was such a beautiful, wonderful, enlightening day!

She talked about a lot of things that she has had on her mind and she said she just wanted to make sure I knew “how things should be.”  It got a little sad, as of course she was talking about her funeral and her estate.  And yet, it was hopeful, in that she believes and knows she is going to a better place.  She talked about her husband who died 34 years ago and her son who died 19 years ago, how hard that was and how she dealt with both. She also talked about how much she missed them both and how much she thinks about them. She said,”you know when you get old and can’t do as much, you have a lot of time to sit and think about things.” I agreed with her, as I do this a lot also.  It surprised me that she talked about all of this, as we are from a strong German heritage, and we just don’t talk about feelings!  Although now that I think about it, she does. She always tells me how she feels…about her anxiety, her worries and her fears.

As I write this, I realize how truly honored I am that I close to my aunt.  And I am also very fortunate that none of her children live in town, as that has allowed the two of us to become closer.  Of course it has its scary moments, like when she calls me and tells me she’s “in trouble,” and when I get to her house, she is having a heart attack. (No, she wouldn’t let me call an ambulance!)  Or when I get a call at 9pm that no one can get ahold of her by phone and would I go check and make sure she is alright.  Those times, however are heavily outweighed by days like Monday.  The days that we get to spend together when her eyes light up and she is relaxed and happy.

She is truly an amazing woman!  Happy 98th year Aunty…can’t wait for 99!!!


Self-Worth Doesn’t Have to be Proven

As I turned over the Thought for the Day calendar page this morning it read “I am neither too little or too much.  I do not have to prove myself to anyone.”  Wow, I thought, isn’t that the damn truth!  No I really didn’t think that.  What I really thought was, No I really don’t have to prove myself to anyone. Not anymore.  I am just me and that is all I want to be.  Sure I have aspirations and I will achieve them, not all of them because I can’t physically do all of them anymore, however, I can achieve most!  My bucket list? I don’t know that I have one; maybe that is something I should create too.

It struck me though how much time I have spent trying to prove myself to someone else.  Whether it be my parents, a sibling, a lover, a colleague, or a friend; I have spent an enormous amount of my life proving my worth to someone!  I don’t really think I am alone in this.  We all do it everyday.  We have to; it is the way our society works.  It is not always a negative.  We have to be able to show that we have the ability to perform our jobs well.  We have to show that we are capable of handling finances in order to get a house mortgage.  We always have to demonstrate that we can handle responsibility in any situation before we are given more.  That’s just the way it works, and that’s not a bad thing.

What I am really talking about is proving our self-worth.  No one should have to prove self-worth.  Everyone is worthy!  Just by nature of being born.  It doesn’t matter on what side of the tracks you were born or raised.  It doesn’t matter what career you chose.  It doesn’t matter if your liberal or conservative; christian or pagan; black, white or purple; straight or gay.  What does matter, at least to me, is that you do the best YOU can.  Not the best I can, or the best John Doe can, just the best YOU can. And since no one can tell what that is, there is no one who can really judge you!  So proving someone else’s self-worth, really is not a possibility!

I have really struggled with my self-worth in the past two and a half years.  That is when I lost my job, my career, because of my health issues. I was told by three doctors I could not work anymore.  I had based a lot of who I was on what I did.  I was raised with a strong work ethic. Without a job, a career, I was totally lost.  I felt like I was falling into a deep, dark, black pit.  I had to move from the four acre place I was living, which is where I grew up; and into a small house with a postcard sized yard.  I’ve sold about all I can that has value to pay the bills.  And I kept sinking deeper and deeper.  I stopped laughing; people no longer interested me; I could not reach out; the mask would not work anymore; and,  my eyes could not hide the pain.  Some people gave up trying to help and went away, they just didn’t know what to do or didn’t have the energy to keep trying.  I get that and I get them.  And then there are the ones who stayed.  The ones who supported me: gave me the emotional lifelines to keep me going; the financial help to pay the bills; helped me figure out how to survive; spent time with me when I was not very fun to be around.  And my “kids.” Three furry kids: Rudy, whose 12 and has diabetes; Willie, whose 5 and is the Princess of the house; and Alli, whose 8, and, god love her, drives me insane!  Without the three of them, I’m not sure I would have made it through all of this.  I know there are a lot of people who have thought, and some have said, that I could not “afford” to keep them, and financially they are correct.  They just didn’t get that I could not “afford” to give them up and still stay alive.  Of course, I filed for Social Security Disability in August of 2011, when it became clear that I could not return to work. (Even though I still planned to try to.)  I was denied twice and then had to wait for a hearing.  Anyone familiar with this process knows that it takes a very long time!  Well, my time finally came last week, I had my hearing, and I believe it went well.  Now I wait, yes more waiting, for the official outcome and hopefully some income.

Since the hearing, and the positive feeling that my lawyer and I have about it, it feels that I am rapidly climbing out of the deep, dark, black pit.  It is still there and I am not totally free of it, however I can see light again.  And I wonder, how did a man (the judge) affect my self-worth in 10 minutes? How did he, whom I had never met before, allow me to come up out of the pit, when all the people who really care about me, were unable to do that?  Was it validation by an outside source?  Was it that he held my future in his hands?  Or did it have nothing to do with him personally.  Was it that the “system” had finally come through for me?  I am not sure.  I haven’t figured all that out, and I am not sure that it even matters.  (Except that I am an analyzer, so I will chew on it.) It just is what it is.  And my self-worth has increased.  I do feel validated.  I still wish I could work.  I still wish I was able to work.  But I have accepted that I can’t.  I think I am done with that battle.  At least for today.

So my self-worth?  It gets defined by me.  It’s not about what I can do or what I can’t do.  It’s about who I am.  It’s about what I believe.  It’s about what I value.  It’s about how I spend my time, because that reflects what I believe and what I value.  It’s about how I treat other people, because that reflects how I believe I deserve to be treated.  And it is ultimately about love…because who and what I love, and the way I love, is reflection of my soul.

How do you define your self-worth?


Dilemma In The End Of Denial – My Tree Is Dying

I have a tree in my front yard. Not such an unusual occurrence, as many folks have one or many trees in their yards.  This tree, however is one of, if not the reason,  I bought my house.  I spend many hours each day looking at my tree, for it has many patterns in its branches and I can see faces and facial expressions in its trunk.  At times, it seems that my tree is expressing what the Universe is feeling about a decision I have made or an action I have taken (or more likely have not taken).  The branches of my tree come out as if a gentle hand is cradling all of nature’s bounty–the sun, the rain, the snow.  It’s as if they are making a bed for anyone who wants to lay within them and, for awhile, become one with their strength, beauty and absolute love.  For there, one can contemplate the absolute power and glory of nature!

As you can see, I love my tree. I can not remember ever relating to a tree like this since my childhood.  As I stood looking at my tree during this recent “polar vortex,” I watched it become blanketed in snow and I was grateful that the snow might keep it warm from the cold winds that were shaking it and making it tremble.  Then I noticed what I had perhaps been pointedly avoiding, my tree had holes in the “v’s” of it’s branches.  I thought of all the frigid air rushing in and through my beloved tree and I realized, like a dagger hitting my heart, my tree is dying.  I’ve known this in my head for over a year now; but I have lived in that wonderful state of denial, refusing to believe that it would really happen.  Yes, there were far less leaves on it last year and yes, branches have to be cut from it so they don’t fall on anyone, however, denial is a strong ally! It struck me that I cannot be in denial forever:  my tree is dying, and then the sadness enveloped me.

As I allowed myself to actually feel this sadness, I wondered: Does it hurt? We know that humans and animals often have pain and suffering during the dying process, so do trees and plants share this trait?  They are living beings also.  Do they feel embarrassed by their shabbiness in the loss of leaves and branches? Do they wish their existence to be cut short as humans do, to save their dignity?  If any of these are possible is it humane, or “treemane,” to keep it alive just because I can’t bear to part with it?  I can’t bear to think of losing its strength that I can feel even when I sit inside, or its shade that cools me on a hot summer’s day.  When I feel so weak that I can no longer fight the good fight, I only have to walk to its side and rest my hand there, and my strength is renewed.  So the dilemma remains:  Is it “treemane” to keep a tree alive because I cannot let it go?  This seems rather selfish to me.  I’ve heard other people say “you can not cut it down, it is too cool” or “it’s not hurting anything.” I understand that it is not hurting anything else, but IS IT HURTING?

You see,  I believe that everything has its own energy given by the Universe/God/Source. I believe that everything has value and worth and I do my best to honor that value and worth in my daily life.  That also means that, for me, everything is equal.  Does that mean then that I should, in compassion, euthanize my tree? Or do I allow it to die a “natural death”?  An existential question perhaps, but one that I will struggle with long after the air warms and the snow has melted.  The “polar vortex” may fade in memory, but my tree, no my tree will be with me always.  For it has been written upon my heart, just as the tree from my childhood.  I still have no answer to my question, however I am, as I write this, becoming certain that my tree will give me the answer I seek.  For just as it seems to “comment” on my decisions, give me cooling shade on hot days and strengthen me when I am weak, it will also guide me as to its own existence.