Japan history…

My father served in the Navy in Japan for four years. He loved it there. I was thirteen when my brother went into the Navy. After basic training, he was sent to Japan, where he promptly fell in love and married a Japanese national. He was stationed there for twenty of the next twenty five years of his career. This was before the internet. FaceTime wasn’t even a glimmer in anyone’s eye. Phones still had a cord you plugged into a wall, which limited your movement, and often, your privacy. Phone calls to other cities, states and countries were considered “long distance”. The longer the distance, the more expensive they were. On the rare occasion we called my brother we were charged ten cents a minute. That can add up quickly! I never really got to know my brother as a teenager or adult. Sure, he had to come home every few years, and I always made it a point to go home when he was there, but by that time the distance had been solidified even in relationship.

It’s been twenty five years since my brother retired and moved back to the states. He lives a six hour drive away, but he may as well still be in Japan. The relationship is what it is, which is minimal. Welcome 2013. When our daughter graduated from college, she moved to Japan to marry her college sweetheart, a Japanese National she attended college with. Next August will be her ten year anniversary for living there. When she told us she was moving to Japan, I was devastated. I had already lost one family member to that country, now I was losing another. In my pain, I questioned her decision when we spoke. Looking back, I am sure my questions hurt her. She assured me with the words I’m sure she thought I wanted to hear. “It’s not like I’ll never come back”. I think maybe she was talking about visiting, whereas I figured she was talking about moving back. Either way, in my mind, I already knew the outcome of this rodeo. I’d been down this path once before, and I lost my brother. Now I was losing my daughter.

As I said before, when my brother was in Japan, communication options were limited. Today, we have texting and face time. Our daughter has been amazing at keeping in touch with both. Pictures are regularly sent our way of the family, and we get to talk to her and her boys a couple times a month. I have cherished every text, every picture sent, every call. But I miss real face time.

Which brings me to today. My 84 year old father and I made the long journey to go visit. This will probably be his last visit to a country he adores. Not because he is dying, but because at his age, the long trip wreaks havoc with his arthritic knees, and being awake for 24 hours is tough on the mind and body. This is my fifth trip here. To date I have been blessed to have the resources to make the trip. However, with the economic turn in the U.S., my hubby’s work/income has been reduced dramatically, and I am going back to work to help make ends meet. Hopefully this will be temporary, but I am prepared if it is not. Japan was never been a country I wanted to visit. Italy and Israel call to me. But, those have been put on a back burner, because my daughter is more important, and I want her to know that.

Someday, I’ll go to Italy and Israel. Maybe my honey and I will go with our daughter and her honey when the boys are grown. Maybe.

Someday, I hope my daughter will forgive me for the hurt I imposed on her, because of my own hurt. The year 2022 has been full of learning how to really let go of those things which are not mine to carry, how to accept the things I cannot change, how to take care of myself, and so much more. I hope that the new year will bring you the opportunity to change, and to grow as a human. And that you can learn to release your worry and cares, and just be in the moment that you have been blessed with. Because life, is a series of moments.


My Dear Child…

Years ago, I came across a poem that I wanted to keep, as it expressed so many things about aging that have helped me as I deal with my father. I don’t know where I saw it, or how long I have had it. I only know that it has been in a file on my desk for years. This morning as I went through my desk stack, I found it again and thought that I should share it. So, here it is.

The original text was in Spanish by Guillermo Peña. It was translated to English by Sergio Cadena.

My dear child. The day you see I am getting old, I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I’m going through. If when we talk, I repeat the same thing a thousand times, don’t interrupt to say, “You said the same thing a minute ago.” Just listen, please. Try to remember the times you were little and I would read the same story night after night until you would fall asleep.

When I don’t want to take a bath, don’t be mad and please don’t embarrass me. Remember when I had to run after you making excuses and trying to get you to take a shower when you were just a child.

When you see how ignorant I am when it comes to new technology, give me the time to learn and don’t look at me that way… remember, honey, I patiently taught you how to do many things, like eating appropriately, getting dressed, combing your hair and dealing with life’s issues every day… the day you see I’m getting old, I ask you to please be patient, but most of all, try to understand what I am going through.

If I occasionally lose track of what we’re talking about, give me the time to remember, and if I can’t, don’t be nervous, impatient or arrogant. Just know in your heart that the most important thing is for me to be with you.

And when my old, tired legs don’t let me move as quickly as before, give me your hand, the same way I offered you mine when you were first walked. When those days come, don’t feel sad… just be with me, and understand me while I get to the end of my life with love. I’ll cherish and thank you for the gift of time and joy we shared. With a big smile and the huge love I’ve always had for you, I just want to say, I love you… my darling daughter, my handsome son, my beloved grandchildren.

I hope this touches your heart, as much as it did mine.

Our Anniversary: Day 3

Day three began with another early morning, followed by another morning in the hot tub. We enjoyed the time, but we’re a bit disappointed that the music wasn’t playing. We enjoy reminiscing about the good old days.

After showering, it was off to a cafe in town known for their breakfast menu. We had a 30 minute wait, but it didn’t disappoint. Tummy’s full, but not too full, we headed out to explore, with no place specific on the agenda. We drove to one little town and walked around. Nothing spectacular. Then we headed to the lake and drove around it for a while, enjoying the scenery and a couple artsy fartsy towns. we saw a cool place that looked busy and pulled in, only to realize it was a wedding venue. We aren’t wedding crushers, so we headed back onto the open road. We decided to head back grab some ready to eat food from the local supermarket and head home early for dinner and a movie.

We had such a nice time just being with each other. And, my honey’s clients left him alone for the most part! It was a good day!


Good Morning. I need to write this down while it is still fresh in my mind. Last week was a hard week. Nothing awful happened, I just had some life baggage that needed to be dealt with.

A little history: I am a 56 year old woman. I was married at 20, had our first child at 22, the next just after my 25th birthday. We were married for 13 years when I was blindsided by my husband having an affair and wanting a divorce. I knew our marriage wasn’t perfect, but I didn’t know it was that bad. We didn’t talk about our relationship. God brought my current husband into my life a couple days after my ex filed for divorce. Our divorce was uncontested and a month later it was done. One miracle that happened with the divorce was that I never wanted to put my hand to it. It was his decision, not mine. In the state I resided in, if one party does not show up and contest, the judge signs it into action, without me signing it. Not that I don’t acknowledge the legal proceeding, I just didn’t want my approval of the action via signing.

Fast forward: My honey and I will be celebrating our 23rd anniversary in a few months. We recently were having a conversation about some health issues and how we were going to deal with them. My honey was talking about a gal he was seeing for a type of physical therapy, when he made some comments that triggered fears from my pst marriage. I held it together, calmly finishing the conversation. But when I headed to bed, the tears began, the fears flooded my brain, my thoughts spiraled out of control to dark places of doubt, planning for a future without him, wondering what I do to make the men in my life desperate enough to have affairs. No, my husband was not having an affair. I knew that rationally, but fear is a powerful force.

It took a few hours to finally drop off. Because of the stress, I arose super early. I really didn’t want to talk to my honey, and I knew he would want to if he saw my “puffy, I’ve been crying” face. So, I took off before he woke up to deal with myself, to pray and figure things out. I headed down to our local lake and sat in the parking lot. As it began to rain, I closed my eyes to listen to the soothing sound, only to have it disrupted by the sound of seagulls next to my car.

I opened my eyes to see what the ruckus was about. Seems that two males were arguing over a female. I began to think about something I had been reading about animals, fight or flight, and stress. And as I sat there, I feel like God’s Holy Spirit spoke to me. Here’s what I heard. Animals have to deal with frequent fight or flight in life and death situations. You are not in a life or death situation. You are in an unpleasant moment. Life is just a series of moments. Some pleasant, some not so much, some hard, some easy, some victorious mountaintop experiences, some are darkest valleys of death. But no matter, life is just a series of moments.

My tears stopped, my fears fled, and I felt peace flood my soul. I knew I would live through this. The worst that could happen is my fears are confirmed, he leaves me and I continue living. I have been through that valley before and came out stronger on the other side. I felt like I could actually talk to him rationally about our decisions, some red flags I had about one protocol, without any emotion getting in the way. And not because I had stuffed my emotions, or emotionally severed the tie with him (which is what my fears kept telling me to do). It was because if there was anything inappropriate happening with him and his therapist, that was his baggage to deal with, not mine.

I went on with my day, and was actually looking forward to watching a big basketball game with my honey that night. We had a fun night and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with him. The next morning, we talked. I shared my “triggers” with him and how I responded, and my day. I wasn’t afraid of what his response might be. I knew it would just be a moment. One of many. He began to apologize for what he’d said, and I was able to lovingly say, “You have nothing to apologize for. This was MY problem, my baggage that needed to be unpacked and put away, hopefully never to come back out again.

After our conversation, which went surprisingly well (stupid fear!) we both went about our days. I wasn’t stressed, I was at peace. Still am a week later. Although, at least to my brain, the phrase “Life is just a series of moments,” doesn’t seem very spiritual, I truly believe it came from God, the one in the Bible. His words always bring peace. Even the hard words that convict me that I am the one in the wrong. And I am a better person for listening and doing whatever he says.

That phrase brought freedom to my soul and broke the chains of fear, doubt and self condemnation. That’s what Jesus/Yeshua preached. Relationship with the creator of all things. Relationship that cuts through all the crap we accumulate in our hearts because of living our own way, and brings freedom, when we listen, hear and obey. In the Bible, there is a verse in the book of John, chapter 8, verse 36. If the son shall set you free, you shall be free indeed. I was enslaved to my fears, to my past, to my triggers, to the enemy of my soul. I am no longer a slave to them, to Satan. I have been set free by my Creator. I belong to him now. He is my Father now. I pray that if you have not experienced this type of freedom, that you will stop, and ask him to speak to you, to set you free. Then, choose to follow the one who set you free. Read his written love letter to you, the Bible. May today, have a victorious, mountaintop moment for you!

Teach by example…

I like to think that my life has been earmarked by living my faith and beliefs before my children, in hopes that they will learn from my examples.

At the age of 10, we moved from our modest 4 bedroom rancher to a larger home that had a bedroom and bathroom on the main floor for my grandmother Gana to live in. Don’t ask about Gana, I have no idea where that came from. Maybe that was how my older brother said grandma and it stuck. Back to the move. Gana had been having some dizzy spells, and my parents couldn’t keep driving an hour to help her out when she had them with a family. This, the decision was made to have her live with us. My sister and I were 10 (fraternal twins), my brother was 15.

For the formative years of my life I watched the dynamic of three generations live under one roof. I watched how my parents dealt with conflict with Gana, how she treated them (not well, I admit), and learned my own way of dealing with her. I admired how put together she was. I appreciated the things she taught me without ever realizing it. She encouraged me to quit biting my nails. She discouraged me from becoming a hairdresser. She bagged me to sit up straight because I had a “beautiful swan’s neck”.

She died several years after I married and moved out. Our children were two and a half and five. They never knew that great grandmother.

Fast forward to 2012. My mother had passed away a few years earlier. Dad was perfectly capable of taking care of himself, but it was becoming obvious that he was lonely. He was visiting me at work pretty regularly. I probably wasn’t visiting much. During those first two years, we made several visits out to my honey’s home state to visit with his elderly mother, and help deal with her estate when she passed in 2010. My brother’s family lived (still does) five hours away, my sister lived (still does) within an hours drive, but didn’t/doesn’t visit much. At the time, my honey and I were living in a small two bedroom, one small bath home. By far, it was one of the favorite places we have lived. Probably because it was a good, fairly non stressful time in our lives. After talking, we decided to find a home to buy that could accommodate all three of us. One thing I learned with my grandmother, was that he needed his own bathroom and space.

Dad and I puss for a selfie while showing out of town family our downtown.

We quickly found a home with a main floor bedroom and bathroom for him. The family room they were off became his tv room. Which was fine unless we were having company. Then it wasn’t private, since it was open to the kitchen. We either went into the open living room and our voices competed with the loud tv, or we took our guests upstairs to our bonus room. A bit awkward, but we all made it work for eight years.

We now live in our new home, which we designed for our living situation. Two bedrooms were opened up to each other to form a suite for him. Now he can watch tv in his jammies and we can have company in the kitchen. In the back of our mind, we also wonder if we may someday be living in the “suite”, with one of our two grown children.

We pray that in watching us honor and take care of our father, that, should the day ever arise that we need someone to live with, that they would be willing to move in with us, or have us move in with them. I sometimes wonder what things would look like. Would I get along with them in an adversarial role, as did my grandmother with my mom and dad? Or would it be a mutually beneficial and satisfying situation, as it is with my dad? I pray for the latter, should it ever come to that.

Obviously, none of us ever wants to be a burden on our children when we age. I joke with my dad, when he thanks me for all I do for him (as recently when he took a spill, injures his arm/hand, and couldn’t drive for a few weeks), that I’m just paying him back for all the diapers of mine he must have changed when I was an infant. It’s nice to hear him laugh…


Wednesday was not what I had planned. That can be good, bad or both depending on how I chose to look at it.

Each day for me starts out pretty much the same. Wake up, get dressed, do my morning chores. Morning chores consist of filling everyone’s water containers for the day. Without them pre-measured, none of us drinks enough water. two protein smoothies are made, one for me, one for my dad. Two bowls of quick oats are prepped, one for me, one for my honey. Pecans, craisens and freeze dried blueberries for me, fresh banana slices and maple syrup for my honey. I take a few minutes to fling a rope toy for the cats also. After I finally sit down to eat and read thyroid comics, I head out to the shop to put the seedlings out into the sun for the day to begin to harden them before planting. This week I have had the added task of distributing two homeopathic remedies to my father throughout the days to help him recover from a foot injury, and making the daily pilgrimage to the mailbox to get our newspaper.

Around 8:00am I checked my phone for new messages. I missed the 3:00am text asking for prayer for our six month old granddaughter who was just taken to the emergency room due to problems breathing and a seal bark cough. Croup runs in the family. I was hospitalized as a toddler with it, my son had it and now his daughter has it. It is scary, but usually short lived, maybe a week. The second text said that my son would be staying home with her and teaching virtually, since mom had just started a new job and was home sick with a fever the day before.

The first call came in around 11:30 from mom, asking if I head heard from her honey (our son). They were going to need help with the older kids that day. They would need someone to pick them up from school. They were also trying to figure out how to get dad and grandson to baseball practice without sick baby. I offered to stay and watch her until mom got home. And just because this is what family does, I also offered to drive our teen granddaughter to youth group after mom got home so she could unwind from work.

As I got off the phone with her, a text from my son binged asking me to call. I did and explained the plan. He was grateful. I asked all the cursory questions, including “is there anything you need?”. A few minutes after saying goodbye, he called back and asked if I could pickup some purified, filtered water for formula as he was running out of moms milk that she had pumped. Of course I could. I ran and picked that and a few dinner ingredients up then delivered it to him. I headed home for lunch, then did two small tasks that were on my long to do list. I then headed to the school to get kids.

Here’s where it got crazy. I took the kids to Subway to get sandwiches at 4:00. The boys would leave before dinner and not get home until eight-ish. The mom in me said they should have something to eat. Mom might be tired and prefer not to cook. The older granddaughter would be fed at youth group. As we pulled out of the parking lot, our daughter and grandsons (5 & 2) from overseas called. I had the kids answer and talk to their aunt and cousins while I drove. We arrived at their house at 4:25. The grandson and dad both went to get ready for baseball and eat the rut sandwiches. I picked up the baby who was a little hoarse, but seems happy. Within moment she projecto-vomited all over me, herself, the couch, and a pile of baby blankets. My older granddaughter put things into the washing machine while I removed my sweatshirt and changed the baby’s clothes. The boys left, the granddaughter diligently went into her room to work on homework, and I ended up walking around outside with baby to keep her happy until mom arrived at 5:30. I left at 5:45 and drove the girl to youth group, thoroughly enjoying the one on one time with her for twenty minutes. Then it was home to fix dinner for the three of us and to get the house ready for my first day of babysitting the baby. Every Thursday will be my day to have her. We are trying to help them cut down on the cost of daycare.

After getting my morning chores done that night, and getting my evening chores (scoop both litter boxes) done, I brushed my teeth, got into some flannel pajamas and settled onto the loveseat with my honey. Waldorf, our big, grey Tomcat settled into my lap, while Statler the black tom settled into the chair to my right. We watched two episodes of Fixer Upper sans commercials before I started to drift off.

My plans for the day were in shambles, my to do list largely untouched. But, I consider it a good thing. I need to learn to go with the flow of life, and not get frustrated when my schedule is disrupted. I want to be flexible as i age and not get my patterns etched into stone. I don’t want to drive myself, or my family, crazy.

I hope today, in the midst of whatever chaos may come your way, that you can let go of the frustration of disruption, and enjoy the flow of a different current. See the value of time invested in people. And reap the rewards in your heart.

Uncensored thoughts…

Warning: this has been a hard week for me, and my human-ness is showing today. I am not going to be politically correct or sensitive with what I write. These are raw emotions. Beware.

I hate that my daughter and her family live across the planet from us. She is so good at keeping in touch, letting us chat with the grands, sending pictures and videos. It just isn’t the same as in person. I am having a bit of a pity party this week. I am glad they are happy, but jealous of his family getting to go on an apple picking outing with them, getting to watch the kids when she works. Sad our son and his family don’t get to do things together with them and their cousins. Stinky Japan has stolen two members of my family now. My brother first, now my daughter and her family. The situation really is a no win, because if they live there, we lose, if they live here, his family loses, if they live someplace else, everyone loses.

My son ruined me. More truthfully, the book 1984 he recommended I read ruined me. I was only able to read the first several chapters, but I can no longer watch the news, as it has become increasingly obvious to me that it is all propaganda. Words fed to the faces we see to believe what “they”, whoever “they” are want us to believe. I am tired of the conspiracy theories, tired of everyone being so worked up about masks and politics, of the media censorship, tired of the biased reporting. Just tell us what happened, not what you think of it, or worse, how we should think about it.

I am tired of the stress I feel when I go out in public without a mask. I admit, I am not a mask wearer. That shouldn’t be a problem. I would never think of saying anything to people who wear masks about their decision, but some mask wearers (not all) sure will say something to you about not wearing one. The smile of a stranger can make my day if I have been having a hard one. And I want to be that blessing to others also. Please don’t comment about this. For every pro-mask fact based article out there, there is an equal amount of anti-mask fact based articles. I should be allowed to think for myself and make my own decisions, even if they disagree with what “they”, again, whoever they are, want you to believe. Maybe I should become a hermit and never leave my home again.

I am tired of having to be dressed every morning to work in a cold shop, doing construction related stuff, with men other than my husband or son or grandson. I want to dress like a woman again, wear my wedding ring again, clean my own house instead of having someone else do it once a month. Have time to bake bread again.

It grieves me that I am so angry about things right now. That I am complaining, when I woke up today in a warm bed, to a bowl of oatmeal, with a husband who loves me.

Update: the previous thoughts were written two weeks ago, but not published. The evening I wrote them, Yahuwah God convicted me, that I cannot be angry with a country, that I was actually angry with my brother and daughter for leaving me and destroying the expectations/hopes I had had for our relationships. I had been hurt (not their faults, my interpretation of the situations), and gotten angry and needed to forgive. My Heavenly Father says that if I cannot forgive others, he will not forgive me. Matthew 6:15. Many of the women in my family who have gone before me, died with bitter hearts. I have battled bitterness before. I do not want that for myself. I have had to ask my heavenly father’s forgiveness for my anger and bitterness, and repent. Repent means to turn away from what is wrong and towards what is right. Right is letting go of the hurt and anger, and enjoying the relationships I do have with them, even if that looks different from my expectations. If the anger starts to creep in again, I will force it out of my brain with thankfulness, until it can no longer find a home in me. My attitude must be adjusted. I must control my thoughts, not allow them to control me.

I did not “lose” anything. Things just didn’t turn out the way I wanted them to. I am glad my daughter is happy. I am thankful for FaceTime (which didn’t exist when my brother was in Japan for 20 years). I am thankful that our daughter loves us and wants to keep in touch with us. I will pray for God’s best for her family, and I will look forward to the next time we are able to see each other in person and will cherish those moments. I will love my brother, even though I don’t really know him, and be thankful for any visits I may get with him in this lifetime.

Goodbye sweet PK…

Sunday was a rough day. Our last pet, PK was a tortoise shell rescue. My father adopted her from the pound soon after my mother died 11 years ago. We estimate that she (PK) would be between 13-14 years old this year.

Over the last couple years, PK had started having random seizures. Maybe one every four months. Around the beginning of the year, they began increasing in frequency, maybe one every other month. By May, she was having multiple seizures every couple weeks. One vet gave us some medication for hyperthyroidism and one to stop the seizures if they went longer than two minutes. The medication worked great the first time, about a month ago. But this Sunday, it didn’t work so well. I have almost gotten to the point where I could sense she was having one without seeing her, and I would go looking for her.

I won’t go into details, but there emergency vet said they were seizures probably related to having strokes. She didn’t recover from the last set… this is the part of life that I hate. Death. Permanently losing those you love.

PK stood for Phantom Cat. When my father first brought her home, he didn’t see her for the first six months. He knew she was there, hiding someplace because the litter box was being used and the food was being eaten. And so, Phantom Cat. The spelling was specifically chosen because my father loves Phantom of the Opera. Once we found her hiding in the drawer under the oven. She had been jumping into the kitchen counter, then behind the oven to crawl into it. When we brought a stray kitten into the house, she came out and joined the family.

PK was skittish, and took a long time to warm up to us all. It was only in the last few years that she would come out into the family space when we had company, and would allow the older grands to pet her. PK always seemed frail and sickly. She was overweight until four years ago (the hyperthyroidism caused the weight loss), she coughed regularly (we figured she had asthma). She was a territorial female. When my father moved in with us, she would chase our black cat Spanky up the stairs whenever she ventured down. Spanky’s death last October was hard on PK. Although they didn’t play together, they had developed a sort of loving tolerance for each other. The other cat had died a few years earlier. PK began yowling at the top of her lungs when she didn’t know where people were, or if she wanted you to open your bedroom door at 4:00am. Usually in the only space in the house that would echo. The last year has been hard for us too with regularly disturbed sleep. And she became very talkative, especially first thing in the morning. Auugh! Wait until my eyes are open!!

As obnoxious as she had become, she had her sweet moments too. She purred quickly and that motor ran forever. She would perch on the back of the couch behind you after a few pets. We are enjoying the solid sleep again, but miss the girl. The tears still flow at random moments: when I go to check her food dish, when I am sitting on the couch. I am sure they will continue to flow for a while. Rest In Peace dear PK. You are missed.

Beautiful moments…

When your grown son reaches his arm over your shoulder during a visit and says, “Love you mom”.

When your grown daughter texts and says, “Can we call? Your grandson has something he wants to show you”.

The moment your husband stops you on a walk, puts his arm around your waist and points out the beautiful sunset.

Receiving a handwritten note in the mail. Even nicer when it is on a sweet, colorful notecard.

The first moment my head hits the cool pillow and my body knows it can finally relax.

The first lusciously creamy spoonful of raspberry mousse.

The varied sounds of the killdeer birds in our presently dirt and rock yard.

Visits from the neighbor’s affectionate Tom cats around sunset. Head butts, sharp claws kneading on your thigh when they are in the lap, when they come running to see you.

Seeing the straw wrapper on my dashboard that came whizzing by my shoulder the other day, compliments of my ten year old grandson, and remembering the laughter that ensued.

Enjoying a day of card making with our twelve year old granddaughter.

Hearing our four year old grandson tell me a story about the ‘Shamberries’ they grow.

When your daughter in law sits and chats with you, and really enjoys it.

Finding out there is another grandchild on the way into this world.

Coffee and a drive with a friend who has a day off of work, who is really more family.

The sweet, juiciness of a home grown strawberry.

Realizing God’s ever protective presence when a car pulls across a road in front of you and you miss them by inches. Or that your open pant leg was just over an active yellow jacket nest, and you were spared any bites.

Those rare talks with a distant sibling.

When something goes right in the building process, and a weight is lifted from your mind and figurative shoulders.

These are a few of the many things that I find beautiful. That bring me joy. That bring me to my knees in prayer and thankfulness to our Creator. Take a moment in the insanity of your day, close your eyes, and bring to remembrance those little things that bring you joy. Your beautiful moments.

Still learning…

A couple weeks ago, some friends of ours asked if we wanted to double date with them and attend a one night marriage conference. It promised to be hilarious, and helpful. I was hesitant to ask my honey if he would go, knowing that he was teaching the next day at church and he usually likes that night before to soak in his studies. I asked, he agreed. I was thankful. I learned at the convention, that he was making an “emotional connection” with me with that decision to do something with his wife, even though he may have preferred to do something else.

The laughter started in the car on the way there. The four of us rode together. We talked about this and that, finally landing on music trivia. Who wrote what songs, when, etc. You can guess where that led… eventually we all broke out into song in that mid-sized sedan space. It didn’t surprise us that the theme song for the night was the very one we had been singing. The laughter continued through the night, including the moment when our friend’s husband leaned over to apologize for bringing us to a Mormon church function (no mention of who sponsored it on the info packets we got). We laughed and said it was fine. We may not agree with the Mormon doctrines, but we do know the Mormon church does “family and marriage” really well and we respect that. We would just chew up the marriage advice and spit out any doctrinal stuff.

We ended the night with a quick stop at Baskin Robbins for a scoop (or two) of ice cream, and continued laughing as we made the dark drive home. All of us concluded that we came home with some great resources for our relationships. Some things we learned about: men and women communicate for different reasons. Men collect data, women want to just interact. I learned that if I want my husband to really hear something I have to say (our grandson has had a high fever for the last few days), that I need to make sure I have his full attention before saying it (ie. Make sure the football game is over before sharing it). Their brains don’t multi task like ours. And I learned that if I want time with him, don’t ever say “Honey, can we talk? Or we need to talk.” That immediately triggers fight or flight in them with thoughts like, “what did I do wrong?” “Is this going to take hours?” “Where is the exit?” Instead, ask I can ask him if he can set aside an hour after dinner on Tuesday night so we can just chat about life. It answers the questions. What? Talk about life. When? Tuesday night. How long? An hour. They can be prepared, not surprised. Oh! And my favorite, reverse your buts! Don’t say, “I love you BUT you are driving me crazy!” Say “You are driving me crazy BUT I love you.” I once heard it said that most people only hear what comes after the word BUT. If that is true, let’s make sure what they hear is I love you. What a beautiful way to let our speech say what we mean, while building them up instead of tearing them down!

Many years ago, when I realized men were not mind readers (why do we grow up thinking that? It is so unfair to them.) I started telling my honey what I needed. For instance, “Baby, I need to have a good cry. Could you please hold me in your arms, let me cry on your shoulder, and when I am done, just tell me everything will be ok. You don’t need to fix the problem I am crying about.” Honestly, what I learned last night takes that to a whole new level for me. I am excited to see where our love goes from here.

Thought for the day: if you are married, write down seven things about your spouse that you love. Start it out with “I love 1, 2, 3, … about my spouse.” If you are a single parent, do this for each of your children, if you are single without kids, do it for your parents. Then, leave it someplace for them to find, like a love letter, and see what happens with that relationship.