Complicated…

No one looks forward to uncomfortable conversations. Some people do anything and everything to avoid the person and the conversation as long as possible. Others user a “bring it on” attitude and dive right in. Another camp talks to people they know about the impending conversation so they can prepare, all the while trying not to drown in anxiety and sadness because there is no real way around it. 

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The holidays will bring about the uncomfortable conversation for me and my family, and it sucks. My brother, his wife, and their baby will go home for Christmas to see the family and introduce him to friends and relatives. The baby will get to see his father in his old neighborhood and will experience the other side of his family. There will be a few people missing from this holiday experience – my aunt, two of my cousins (one died, one is in a care facility), me, and my husband.

Holidays should not be complicated. They should be joyous and celebratory, which is usually the opposite of our experience.  I love my family in spite of the holidays. Many of my most enjoyable holidays were spent with friends and their families around college time or have been peaceful because Husband and I were not the family, except for the Christmas my brother and his wife spent with us in Texas. When we still lived near our families, Husband and I had a hard time seeing both families for the same holiday because of the inevitable energy drain, conflict, etc. Over time, his remaining family is more or less nonexistent, and mine is best in small doses. The last time I was in the presence of my parents and overlap with relatives a little over two years ago, and it did not end well after we left the family gathering. My parents and I have recovered the best we can from the debacle, a story for another post, and I enjoyed the rest of my trip with friends and time to myself. My relatives were happy to see me and I feel fortunate to have spent time with my aunt, our last in-person visit before she died earlier this year. 

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This brings me to the currently approaching holiday season. After close to two years, the COVID thing is still lurking and is complicating people’s lives. Many people have natural immunity, while others insist on getting vaxxed and that everyone around them be vaxxed. Like many people, I fall right into the middle of this debacle. Most, if not all, of my immediate and extended are on one side of this while we are on the other side. I know a few people in the same situation but they, like us, have a few people on their side as well.  I don’t feel comfortable traveling during the holidays and leaving Husband alone, especially with the airlines in chaos, my job having legalized discrimination policies related to traveling and quarantining (punishing healthy people who make individual medical decisions), and the fact that one of parents shared that my brother and wife has already inquired about the status of family members. Oh, and they scheduled my parents for all of their shots. I have already expressed some thoughts on the matter months ago before this whole situation continued to progress and escalate to mandates in different cities and states, and even at the federal level. I have noticed communication with some members of my family have dwindled after a certain conversation with one person, um… so much for freedom and individual opinion. The unsaid uncomfortable conversation just hangs out in the atmosphere for now. It just sucks. Good time to use radical acceptance skills.

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As I’ve gotten older, my childlike glee for holidays has greatly reduced but does flare up around Christmas. I’m not a big decorator, but having little get-togethers with co-workers and festivities that make work enjoyable won’t happen again this year because my agency has decided against it. I have an office now, that doesn’t usually see more than me or a few colleagues due to back-and-forth restrictions. I’ve debated with myself about decorating for me and to contribute a bit to the building-wide décor or to skip it, but I’m still not sure… wait a minute, people can decorate several trees in groups but not have parties or meals together?

For the few people who might read this, I realize my opinions will stir up a myriad of feelings – how insensitive of you, how irresponsible, you selfish #!%&*(&,  f#ck those stupid Covidiots or good for you for standing up to the medical tyranny, and everything in between. As someone who has been sick only twice in the past two years, (right before the virus was unleashed and again right after jabs were widely available), I believe that I have a healthy, functioning immune system and that the most irresponsible people are those who perform ongoing medical experiments on a naively trusting public with no idea who this will turn out. However, I believe in personal freedom, mine and yours. All that keeps happening is that people allow themselves to be divided along the newest line in the sand that someone else draws and broadcasts it 24/7 on cable news until the world panics. 

On that note, I hope people can find some holiday cheer and that they can remember why holidays exist (other than to generate revenue for retail and travel industries) – family and friends celebrating and sharing. I pray for an end to the manufactured conflicts and emergencies, and for a resurgence of common decency, critical thinking, and humanity. I hope it’s not too late, or too complicated… cards hanging on Christmas tree

Tragedy strikes when you least expect it…

I went out with Husband the night before, enjoyed some food and drinks, and laughed while listening to a country rock band we couldn’t understand. I was up late but I slept well, better than I had in weeks. I got a message from my cousin to call her, as I missed her call while checking on our garden with Husband. Before I returned that call, I had been drinking wonderful coffee, enjoying a sunny, spring morning in the low 70’s. I was smiling and feeling really good, that is, until I heard my cousin say that her mom died hour an a half ago. She kissed her husband after getting ready to drive one of her grandsons to work, then mentioned she didn’t feel well. Seconds later, her mom collapsed on the floor.

I spoke with my aunt on Easter evening, almost a week before her death. She was in good spirits after spending the day with her adult children and grandchildren, before visiting her second oldest in the hospital. I’m glad I had that brief conversation with my aunt, our last conversation. My aunt is dead… so hard to believe, but true. She is someone who lived to care for others, so full of go-go-go, passionate, a fighter who God must have needed for a very special reason… I hope. She had a few health problems but you still thought she would live forever through her endless pursuit of helping large family. My heart is broken.

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There a few reasons I wasn’t able to attend the funeral, but I’ve made peace with it. I spent the night before the funeral writing about my aunt, all the things I would have said if I had gone to the funeral and been give a chance to speak. It was cathartic and healing to write about her, and it helped me remember so many happy moments with her and my extended family. Not wanting to burden my cousins, I sent my comments to my father with a request to read them on my behalf if there was an opportunity. I knew that in asking him I was putting my father in a position to say things that may come off disingenuous, excepted that they were my words rather than his. I found out later that he did not deliver my comments, there wasn’t a chance, he didn’t feel well, etc. I wasn’t there, so I can only take him at his word but experience tells me that it’s something he didn’t have in him to carry out. The comments were forwarded to one of my cousins to be posted on the family Facebook page, which one of my cousins confirmed recently.

They say that life is short, and that things can change in an instance, so you need to hold those you love near and dear while you can. I wonder why tragedy continues to strike the best of us, while those seemingly deserving of punishment and suffering for all of their wrongs, and I’ve been told to leave it in God’s hands. From what I know, it seems that my aunt died from a massive heart attack, a few weeks after she received a COVID vaxx and was subsequently taken off of several medications, including blood thinners. I shutter to think that many families may suffer a similar fate at the hands of far-reaching medical negligence, fraud, and manipulation by powerful people around the world. This happened after one cousin died from cancer treatments that she became too weak to endure, and another cousin suffered misdiagnosis and painful medical negligence, with all three events occurring in less than three years.

cross silhouette on mountain during golden hour

I hope that God brings swift justice to the evildoers in the world, and that He brings peace, hope, and comfort to those who have suffered.

Chicago on my mind…

I was scrolling through my photos and reminiscing on my trip to Chicago last August before traveling to NYC.

Overall, I had a great trip. There were a few rocky family interactions, but lessons learned. I saw extended family, a few friends, one of my favorite bands, my White Sox, and got to eat my favorite foods. Best of all, I got to soak in the city, walking, taking the “L” (elevated trains, it’s what we Chicagoans call it), and enjoying beautiful, mild summer weather.

Even though I moved away and I have a life in Texas now, I doubt I will ever feel as free and as comfortable as I do hanging out in Chicago, whether downtown or in other parts of the city.

I love you, Chicago!

The Four Tendencies… and other reading interests

So, I’m about 100 pages into The Four Tendencies by Gretchen Rubin. I read The Happiness Project a few years ago and I enjoyed it, but hadn’t thought much about it until saw The Four Tendencies at a FedEx Office store. I picked it up, intrigued, since I have been feeling stuck again lately- wanting to do something different but not wanting a pay cut, missing home but knowing that’s not the best place to be (except on a vacation so I can gorge on Pizza, burritos, beef sandwiches, and my other Chicago food favorites).

I took The Four Tendencies quiz online, which said that I am an Obliger. From what I understand, there is variation within each tendency and a little overlap – you will have a main tendency but may have some of a neighboring tendency, too. The thing that is interesting to me is that I pegged two family members almost immediately but I am still trying to pinpoint a few others.

Psychology stuff is interesting to me, so this book is right up my alley. I am hoping it will help me figure myself out and will help better deal with family and co-workers. I like the book so far and I am trying to pace myself to fully absorb the information, rather that devouring the book as I often do with fiction books that I enjoy. Other books on my radar include: Stuck by Anneli Rufus, The Year of Living Danishly by Helen Russell, and Positively Unstoppable by Diamond Dallas Page. I have been doing DDP Yoga for four and a half months with my husband, and we both really like it and benefit from it. Husband read the book and recommended it. What books do you recommend?

Going home… Part 1

I hadn’t been back to Chicago in close to three years until last weekend. The last time I went back was when my mother-in-law died. I was there with Husband helping to tie up loose ends, discard old, out of date, no longer needed items to prepare for selling the house, and to attend the funeral. I was there two weeks, and I didn’t want to be there. The little free time I had was spent watching my parents argue and, when my schedule finally allowed for visiting friends, we couldn’t make it happen. It sucked!

Both Husband and I have complicated families, and we  have felt the effects even miles away. I almost cancelled this trip  a day or two after I decided to book the flights because of the drama attached to going home. Ultimately, I chose to go because my Dad needed an angiogram to further assess blockages in his heart. Knowing that Brother and Sister-in-law had just visited,and the possible severity of the situation, I went  –  on my terms.

One of the greatest and most surprising parts of the trip was on the first day when I spent eight hours with my parents and they both made an effort to get along. First, we ate lunch at Wojo’s, a neighborhood hamburger joint. Later on,  my Dad gave me a lesson in how to hold, load, and fire a semi-automatic weapon with a laser target and dummy ammo. This was lots of fun and gave him great joy on the day before he ended up with a stent to clear  two heart blockages. I was also able to spend a lot of time with my Mom throughout  the weekend,  and  we were able to eat Beggar’s pizza while watching the White Sox. I wish my parents could be those well-meaning people toward each other more often, and live a happy life together… However, I am grateful to have had that time with them.

I found time to walk around Downtown Chicago for a few hours on Saturday afternoon. I browsed at stores,  visited a few new places (Maggie Daley Park and Dylan’s Candy Bar to name a few), and stopped in at the Chicago Cultural Center. My Grandfather took my Brother and I to many events there, and sometimes we would just stop to rest in the café sitting area after lots of walking. This was a tough but good stop for me to make, and  it was great to see some art while remembering Grandpa.

All photos taken by Chrellie