Wednesday, November 21, 2012

I'm Thankful for my Modern-Day Functional Dysfunctional Family

Years ago when my oldest daughter was in grade school, her class did a unit on the American Indians and she came home with an assignment of coming up with Indian names for all of her family members.  This became fun for all of us.  These were our Indian names: Chief Run-Around, Mama Oh-so-Tired, Hannah Mess-Maker and Baby Cry a Lot.  Our family has since grown up, but we are still Chief Run-Around, Mama Oh-so-Tired, Hannah Mess-Maker and as our baby quit crying, she is now Baby Needs-A-Lot.  We are a modern day functional dysfunctional family and proudly still intact!

Chief Run-Around commutes far everyday to go to work (sometimes to fabric factories in China).  He is above average intelligence and works hard for a living.  His name comes from his chief role of running errands on his way home, providing for all our needs.  He also repairs broken things, from cars to computers, and goes the extra mile to lend a hand and provide safety for his two daughters, as well as hauling wares for his wife’s craft shows, as well as carrying loads upstairs and downstairs.

Chief Run-Around is able to quell crises, and offer practical advice and assurance, though this doesn't always soothe Mama Oh-so-Tired.  He is thoughtful and unselfish, though too busy to deal with emotional drama and sometimes “not in touch” as he is stretched too thin, except around his middle.  He avoids conflict and is pretty low maintenance.  He eats anything provided there is plenty of ketchup, cheese, hot sauce or cranberry sauce to generously garnish it, and loves charred food.  

Car talk is his mode of communication, as he is on the run most of the time.  Pillow talk is rare as his head isn't there long enough.  He is a rescuer to his wife, children and many a friend.

Mama Oh-so-Tired has creatively adapted to chronic illness (You didn't think she would be willing to show you a picture of her in her haggard state did you?!  This was the last picture of her taken in a well-rested state!).  Her fatigue is no longer thought to be  caused by the normal or not-so-normal stress of being a mother and working full time, though she gave up the latter (and the former?).

She putts between needed naps, organizes and plans, breaking jobs into small steps to accomplish many things.  She is an introspective, and out-of-the-box-thinker, with little common sense often making the simple complex.  She journals and writes constantly whether or not she has anything useful to say and is the confronter of issues and is overly sensitive to self and sometimes others.  She is a nurse by trade, a counselor, mender and meddler (don’t they go together?) and for many a year had a phone attached to her head when she wasn't working or sleeping.  Now she has a computer key board attached to her fingers when not attached to a needle and thread.

She is also a special educator consultant, another official trade, who still evaluates and creates Individual Educational Plans (IEP's) with long and short term goals and objectives, now applied to running a family, the house and a craft business, while treating long term health issues.  She is a shadow leader of the pack who as replaced her megaphone with a long-reach, battery-operated cattle prod, though knows that positive rewards better modify behavior of not only the dog, but children and husband while naps reward her and the cat for their diligent efforts.

She is no Energizer Bunny and she wears a sign that reads, “Caution: Frequent Sudden Stops” for prayer time and connecting to her much needed power source—Bible reads and personal one-to-one chats with God, who she claims lives under her bed or her sewing chair or in her purse, as He belongs to her and is on her side!

While weak in the knees, she is strong-willed and strong-stomached, though recently has developed a bit of a “wilting violet side” that presents itself with an instant “sit down” to gain mental clarity.  She never was good at multi-tasking without pots boiling over or charring cookies in the oven.  Her doctor recently told her it’s too late to develop multi-tasking and to stick to the simple one-thing-at-a-time approach.  She keeps everything where it’s supposed to be, though she’s having more issues with remembering where it’s supposed to be.  She is much loved and when not, is tolerated.  She gives advice freely, though it is rarely heeded.

Hannah Mess-Maker (on the right) is the first fruit of the union of Chief Run-Around and Mama Oh-so-Tired.   She doesn't fall far from their tree, carrying a trunk load of their traits though the Chief and Mama rarely recognize their origins, as they don't appear to be anything like those of her parents.  Creativity and brilliance abounds but like her mother its practical application is sometimes lacking, creating messes everywhere that pile up until her zones resemble “a hoarder’s paradise” with layers upon layers of creativity buried under the need to function at top speed at too many jobs.  Multi-tasking is her specialty, leaving a chronic trail behind her.  Her mother’s behavior-mod-program never took root as Hannah Mess-Maker, smarter than her mother, created her own goals and objectives.  First on her list was to be her own person and avoid the bribes and secure her role at taking over and running the house.  The next was to get her sister, Baby Cry-a-Lot to shut up as well as silence Mama’s megaphone.

Despite Mama Oh-so-Tired’s endless attempts to confront the issues, Hannah Mess-Maker had a good life, but aimed to make it better by letting Mama’s organizational abilities keep her toys and books in order, as she had better things to do, like disrupting an otherwise "perfect and functional home"!  Like all first-borns, she made her parents go a little insane and thus move into their dysfunctional state. Yes, Hannah Mess-Maker’s parents didn't know what hit them and Chief Run-Around ran faster and Mama Oh-so-Tired got more tired, while their well-educated and accomplished daughter sought to remake the world.

Now Hannah Mess-Maker smiles as she looks back on her life, knowing that she accomplished her goals and more, she is uniquely Hannah, a responsible and creative adult, though her parents, and schools may never be the same.  Hannah Mess-Maker still makes messes in her parent’s garden, kitchen and house.  She is a gifted graphic artist and like her father works very hard, and is so busy that she continues to make Mama Oh-so-Tired more tired than ever!

Baby Cry-a-Lot is grown up now and so has become Baby Need-a-Lot.  She is still the baby of our family, but now fiercely independent and social.  She is a sensitive social worker-counselor-sort-of-person, living life to the edge and experiencing first-hand the trials that beset her generation.  She operates best under stress which seems to be ever present as she has her own time clock versus following the standard time of the rest of the world and continues to march to her own beat quite literally.  She observes what works and doesn't work in other’s lives, thinks hard and carefully chooses her own and different path.  She doesn't cry much anymore, and doesn't want to be hushed but has a loud, clear voice of her own!

 Living on the edge, she has had her share of accidents and is sensitive and loving to all and is close to the action—sometimes too much so for the comfort of Chief Run-Around, and he runs and runs, trying to scout out potential dangers and keep her safe.  No longer under the control of her bossy sister, she is out living life and is about to branch out from the Chief’s radar.  Likely this is needed for her own growth.

Mama Oh-so-Tired hasn't kept up so well with this baby and is frequently relieved to know that Baby has safely survived yet another close call, knowing that if she knew all that this child was about, her life would be shortened by years not minutes!! She is growing up despite the odds that she creates.

Competing with her sister’s success, she has created her own legacies and achievements of equal merit as her older sister’s.  Like so many of this generation, her path is not a straight line, but taking several abrupt angles as she puts aside some of her greater talents to simply earn a living and trying out new applications of her assets.  Graduating with honors as a highly talented studio artist whose work is rich in detail, now Baby Need-a-Lot is doing practical things with that same attention to detail.  Whether caring for children, assisting her sister in her graphic art work or doing menial sorts of jobs, she does her work with care and integrity.  She still marches to a different drummer and it is not the reward of money, but rather personal pride that makes her tick.

Baby Needs-a-Lot has taken time for personal relationships and has a serious beau and is a friend to many.  She is kind, and sensitive and deep, all attributes created by her own personal trials.  Her health issues seriously threatened and challenged her to have a normal life and she continues to push her limits.  She is complex and drawn to all that will help her grow personally.  We sometimes scratch our heads as her paths lead her in ways we wish she would avoid, but we will learn what she is already certain of: she is strong enough to be more than our Baby Need-a-Lot!

Of course, no dysfunctional family would be complete without their pets, and as selected by the peculiar tastes of unique individuals means that they in turn have their quirks as well!  Cassie, our coon-hound mix, like her master, Hannah Mess-Maker has a will of iron and the strength of body enough to challenge us all.  She is equally as loving and caring as her master and is so lovingly devoted to Chief Run-Around as to try to be one with him. The Chief’s need to be adored has been overly-saturated by this warm overbearing beast and he now appreciates being left alone in quiet and peace, though that is a rare moment indeed!

Zeldie, our beautiful tiger cat is truly befitting of the name given to her by the shelter from which she came.  She is our Princess Warrior, demanding of all the privileges befitting her self-appointed aristocracy, which if neglected brings out the warrior in her.  She is Mama-Oh-so-Tired’s mostly companion, affectionate when she wants to be and loyal to whoever caters to the princess in her.  She makes Mama Oh-so-Tired an honorary Lady-in-Waiting.

So there you have it, an intact, albeit, modern-day functional dysfunctional family, pieced together with many a jagged edge but notched to fit with the others.  Functional dysfunction, we have found, is created by irregular and abnormal people that fit together to counterbalance what the other doesn't have.  It mostly works, though we are still working at making it work better.  We have adapted to the conditions of our lives as best we can and with God’s help we will “continue to play the hand we are dealt”.  Life can be challenging, and is seldom ideal, but I am thankful for my functional dysfunctional family.....most of the time!

We are hopeful that, like us, you have a loving family or friends to enjoy this Thanksgiving with!  Have a good turkey day!!

Friday, November 16, 2012

Stay Tuned

Do stay tuned to our blog.  We are simply taking a short break as we have scheduled three shows on three consecutive weekends.  Last weekend we were at the Holiday Inn in Rutland, and we are at Grace Congregational Church tonight 5-9 p.m. and Saturday 9:30- 2:00 p.m. ( November 16 and 17th) and next week we will be at Poultney High School 10:00- 4:00 p.m. (Friday,November 23rd and Saturday, the 24th).  Do come and see us if you can!  We will be back to blogging and listing on Etsy very soon. I never stop writing or stitching!

Our sales season ends with two sales on December 8th and I will post the details of those later!  Meanwhile, Happy Turkey Day to you all!  jane

Monday, November 12, 2012

After the Storm

I had a strange reaction to the storm: Rage.  I thought perhaps it was just a black day in the midst of my very long treatment? I was angry about having yet another challenge to deal with and I was exhausted.  Truly prepping for what I felt like was “The-Second-Coming-Storm” was emotionally draining, but instead of feeling relief about it not hitting us, I felt angry.

I was angry and frustrated having to direct my limited energies to put everything in order and prepare for a possible disaster instead of sewing. Was I was feeling sorry for myself? Initially so, but my perspective quickly changed as I watched TV reports of the communities that were devastated by the storm. Clearly my own lost energy was nothing next to others grieving losses of homes or worse yet, loved ones and their inability to continue living as they remain without proper shelter, heat and electricity.

Hearing about people in NYC and NJ rummaging through trash in search of food and without potable drinking water, living in apartments and having to take many flights of stairs in the dark or worse yet trapped, as the disabled are unable to take the flights of stairs, no matter how dark. The lack of necessities for survival or spending hours at a time waiting to buy a few gallons of gas for back- up generators if they were lucky enough to still have shelter, made me feel a new frustration!!  I wanted to bring them my bottled water and take them my food!!  I would gladly share my provisions, and the heat of my home and how petty and spoiled of me to be mad about the inconveniences that this storm caused me!

I was horrified that those that had relatives or friends to stay with were choosing, instead, to stay behind and camp out in their damaged homes, afraid to leave; looters threatening to take all if their homes were left alone.  How low can people get to steal, much less steal from those already in crisis, with little left but a few treasured items of their former lives!!

I also heard about the two small boys that were washed away and drown, as someone would not open their door. The home owner apparently thought they were stupid to be out in the storm and perhaps felt too fearful and desperate regarding his carefully planned survival tactics, to be human enough to let them come in.  This was like one of those existential questions lived out in real life. Would “you” save another or not and potentially risk your own means of survival. How desperate do you have to get before you become so small to think only of saving your self?

What would I have done?  I am truly a control freak and in the midst of terror, would I have been different?  I can only hope so, but just being shut up with my adult alien children for a day and having them undo what I had just put in order, made me wonder.  I am sometimes not patient or tolerant, or the person that I would like to be.  I do seem to be a work in progress, but sometimes circumstances seem to push the “regress button" instead of the "maturity button" that is most needed at the time!

I am glad that with a new day, also comes new strength. I have greater appreciation for how lucky we are and yet with it comes the understanding, that to those that much is given, much is expected. I truly am past my prime and cannot be on the front line of this battle, but I can respond with a willing and generous heart and lifted prayers for those that are in true need right now. And if each of us does what we can, perhaps we can lift those that are in despair for truly "there but for the grace of God, go I" and perhaps you. All of my planning and control could not have saved me from such devastation had the water hit my home instead of theirs!

We will all find our own ways to relate to this crisis as there are lessons for each of us.  We all perhaps need to be reminded to be bigger, not smaller in facing the fears and needs that we all share.

I am reminded of the story told about Mother Teresa and her sisters passing out rice provisions for the poor. There was apparently always a woman who came for her provision, though mother’s sisters had heard that on her way home, she would stop and split her lot with another person who was unable to go and get for her self.  Mother’s helpers asked if they shouldn’t give her a double portion, and Mother in her wisdom answered, that her sharing was a bigger gift to her friend than if she was given an extra portion, as sharing from her own was a gift of her heart. The portion size was not as critical as the sharing of herself, for her gift was a gift of love and would nourish the spirit as well as the body.

However we respond to this crisis or reach out to help those around us in need, I think it is important to know that generosity is a gift of the the heart. This storm has washed away some of my veneer that covers my own vulnerability, and makes me realize that value comes from being connected to others and giving and sharing is what is most critical and this storm has not only brought much need but also much opportunity to give of ourselves in whatever way we feel best suited.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Vote Today!

I didn't use to be political and my family isn't pleased with my conversion of me being wrapped up in the world at large. Is it my response to my world shrunk with the confinement of a medical treatment or is it a phenomena of simply becoming the person that I was waiting to be, released from being too busy and not having time to attend to such interests before? Or perhaps it is part of my illness affecting my brain and causing a one-hundred-eighty degree turn in what was already a strange and different personality? These are merely rhetorical questions for which I seek no answers or replies, and dare not ask my family as I know they would too readily give me their honest thoughts!

I am not sure that becoming politically minded is helping me become a better person.  In fact it is likely making me judgmental, polarized and highly opinionated and less easy to live with? One has only to ask my husband or daughters for their thoughts.  That isn't changing me, however!  I feel very strongly about this election, so much so that I am not sure that I can stand to watch the election returns and feel the minute to minute pain or hope or perhaps be left hanging in limbo for days to come as they recount the votes.  Too-close-to-call polls have become very hard on me physically and emotionally, and sure enough today it will take all of me to go and cast my vote as perhaps the anticipation of this day as already "done me in", but I wouldn't miss voting for the world!!

Is it good to be so decided and so "narrow"?  It certainly doesn't make for peace in our house, as it is divided down the middle when it comes to political sides (and other sides as well?). I would like to think that my strong opinions are based on my "fine tuning and sharpening" of my values. There is no riding the fence about right and wrong any more, though black and white thinking, it is not! My "narrowed" path isn't the easiest to walk but my humor helps and I have joked about voting day being switched from today to tomorrow for my girls, but they know better and are equally determined to cast their votes to cancel my husband's and mine.

I am trying to entertain that my candidate won't win, and am trying to reconcile four years with a president I didn't choose.  It won't be the first time, and I am sure that my life will go on.  The process is still good, I think.  It has made me examine myself thoroughly as I flip between news stations, guaranteed to hear polar opposite "facts". How is it that reality changes that much?  Of course, it doesn't, only the focus and the attention paid to which facts and how you "spin" them, according to one's values. I wonder what ever happened to reporting all the facts and let us do our own spin?

I used to think that all this news watching was simply my choice of watching a more dramatic soap opera than the real soaps and that it makes my time pass faster as I persevere through what is sometimes mundane otherwise. Politics is stranger than any fictionalized program I could watch. The cast of characters really are more varied than could be imagined and if taken from start to finish, I rarely pick the candidate that becomes nominated.  It is likely a good thing, as before it is over, I see the character flaws of the one I initially chose.

I learn about myself in this process and learn more about others as well. Candidates too good to be true; lofty promises unkempt; corruption at the core; or, perhaps, like jobs I have had, just a person with an unmatched skill set for a poorly defined and open-ended job, impossible for anyone to adequately bite off, chew and digest, much less perform, though I still hope that someone larger than life will meet the challenges and sometimes they do just that and more!

It is also hard to watch the projected dreams of the nation placed on an individual that may, in fact, be a totally different person than what he/she is perceived to be. Or perhaps we are merely picking the scapegoat that we heap our unrealistic expectations on and then send them off to the desert carrying all our sins to be crucified by the public.  It is truly a thankless job, and likely not worth all the acclaim and glory or even the life-long benefits.  How many of us would really want early entombment and museums and libraries containing our eye glasses and toothbrushes, and diaries exposed to the public forevermore?

So as we trundle off to the polls today to cast our vote or abstain, we are deciding directly or indirectly  the future set of values and hopes for our nation.  It is a fork in the road and we are collectively choosing the direction that will be taken, hopefully for the good of all, though sometimes I fear, sadly not.

We will soon get feedback as to which candidate we have pinned our dreams on (not unlike Pin the Tail on the Donkey party game?). Then we will wait and see whether or not our expectations match theirs and they do what they promised.

There is much hope for another George Washington, or Abraham Lincoln, but I think the times are different as are the problems facing this country and the best we can hope for is that the future president's skill set will measure up to the issues that need to be dealt with in the generation to come.  Our vote is truly an act of faith in the integrity of the person we choose. However wanting our government might be or the candidates that we select to run, I value this process and don't miss my opportunity to be part of it.

Don't Forget register for these earrings to be given away!!  Simply go to Spinning Glass Studio link, and leave your comment!  Good luck!!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Correction on the Common Thread Drawing Date

Dear Readers,
I apologize for my error.  The Common Thread give away drawing dates are wrong.  It starts the first Monday of every month and so do please revisit Nancy's site this coming Monday to leave another comment  in order to register for her free give away!  I apologize for my error, but do want you all to be eligible to win a sample of her beautiful jewelry!!  Again, I am sorry for the inconvenience to you, though I can't think of a nicer site to visit and I am certain that she will love to hear from you again!  Thank you! jane