Growing in (poem)

I’m no longer growing up
but in,
strengthening my foundation,
clearing out old misconceptions
and flat out lies
I learned
or was taught.

This isn’t housekeeping.
This is a major renovation,
a re-new-ing.
This is tearing out the floorboards and joists
and digging down to bedrock
to reseat the base.

There’s no plan for this,
no map.
There can’t be.
Each house,
each person
is site specific.
Nobody else’s plans will work.

How can you grow up
if you don’t have a strong base?
The tree falls over
if the roots aren’t deep.

So for right now,
I’m growing in.

Poem – taking my leave

It is a little like death,
this leaving.
I’m telling all my favorite patrons
and they say
“It was nice to know you “
as if I’ve said
I’m dying,
or moving to Minnesota.

They ask
“Is it closer to your home?”
“Is it a promotion?”
“Is it something you want?”

Some don’t catch the use
of the
passive
tense.
I’m being transferred.
It is a subtle difference,
but a difference
none the less.

They need someone
who is experienced
at this new-to-me
tiny branch,
someone
who knows
the rules and can stand
on her own.
Someone who is strong.
It is a complement
that they have such faith
in me.

But it is still hard,
after 14 years.
I grew this place.
I grew in this place.
I decided where everything went.
I created the flow.
I shaped it.
It shaped me.

I take my leave of this place.
This is the last time
I’ll walk in the park.
The last time
I’ll get the bookdrop.

I’ll be back, sure,
to fill in,
to catch up on hours
so I can get the weekend off.
I’ll teach a bead class.

But it is like
having a house
and planting a garden.
When you move,
someone else tends the plants
– or not.
Someone else does the repairs
to the bathroom tile
– or not.

It is a letting-go,
this leave taking.

It is a bit like death,
and being reborn.

You have to ask.

I don’t want to go to the hospital to watch my mother in law die. I will if I have to. I will if I’m asked. But I’m not going to second-guess my husband. I’ve spent ten years trying to guess what he wants, and doing things for him without him asking because it seemed like he needed me to. He seems to appreciate it, but I don’t think it is doing him or me any favors.

I’ve stood on this one.

Now may not be the nicest time to insist that he “use his words” but now is the time. He has to learn how to find his own voice, to know what he wants, and to ask for it. He also has to know how to say no to people and make decisions.

Part of making decisions is making bad decisions and standing behind them.

He’s made a hard decision recently, and we all supported him. Now it seems like he is going back on it, so he’s losing ground. Waffling, second and third guessing himself is part of his family inheritance. He’s going to lose face over this, and that is going to crush him. Yet another failure to add to the pile. I’m afraid that he’ll never stand up and make a hard decision again.

In part I’ve stayed away because I don’t want him to lean on me. I want him to stand on his own and make the hard decisions. I want him to grow up. I want him to become an adult. Having to ask other people’s opinions and approval all the time is not a sign of maturity.

This was going to be his crucible, his make-it-or-break-it moment.

I feel helpless, waiting around the house. I’ve done rituals and said prayers. I’ve done what I can to process this experience in a safe way so that it doesn’t hurt me. It is bringing back some memories from when my Mom died.

It has been since Wednesday night. Chaos, crisis, upset. Panic mode, emergency time. It is Sunday now, and she’s still alive, barely. I’m a little angry at her now, and I feel very selfish about it. She’s wasted our long weekend off together. Sure, there is some kindness in all this happening during non-work time, but it is still vexing.

This isn’t kind to say at all.

And it is very honest.

This isn’t life, her hanging on. It wasn’t life before, either. Home decorating isn’t giving back to the world. Vanity, selfish, image conscious – both of them. They just amplified each other’s narcissism until it became pathological. There was nobody to say “No”, so the psychic disease grew.

Her sons have spent more time with her now than she ever spent with them when they needed her. They’ve made sure she was better treated than she ever cared for them.

She wasn’t bad, or evil, but she wasn’t good either.

What an ugly death, and a bad situation. What a terrible legacy to leave.

And I’m angry at the medical establishment – we show more mercy to dogs.

Personal accountability

I knew a guy who joined a gym, and he wanted me to “Make him accountable.” He wanted me to remind him to go, and to ask him if he had gone. I didn’t. I made sure to tell him that I wouldn’t.

That isn’t my job. I’m not his Mom, or his wife, or his boss. And here’s the most amazing thing – even if I was any of those things, it still isn’t my responsibility.

This is the heart of codependence. He was trying to get me to be responsible for his actions, rather than making himself responsible for his own actions.

He has to want to change, and to want to make it happen. If he isn’t motivated enough to do it on his own, he isn’t ready for it yet. If he needs a coworker to remind him, he isn’t ready.

Imagine what would happen if I had said I would remind him, and I didn’t. Then, the fact that he didn’t go would have been my fault. This is the heart of it all.

Blaming other people for your problems is the problem itself.

Once you become an adult you are responsible for everything you do. Nobody gets you up in the morning to go to work. Nobody makes your breakfast. Nobody takes you to work. Nobody does your work for you. It is all you, all the time. Anything less than that and you aren’t an adult.

Being over 21 doesn’t make you an adult. Your actions do. And the core of all of that is being responsible for yourself and not expecting other people to take care of you. Going hand in hand with that is that if you make a mistake, you own up to it.

If you have to have someone else make you do something, then you really didn’t even do it. You can’t take credit for it. The work isn’t really yours.

ID badges? We don’t need no stinking badges!

I don’t get why people won’t get their ID changed. I see people who have the wrong address on their license all the time when I’m signing people up for their library cards.

ID without proper information on it isn’t ID. If you are in an accident and are badly hurt, how are the police going to notify your family? How does this ID help the shopkeeper verify the information on your check, or the librarian get into the correct account?

The worst example I’ve seen was when a lady had moved and gotten married. That had all happened three years prior and she hadn’t gotten anything changed. The only things that were right on her ID were her first name and her birth date. How is this identification?

In Tennessee, you have to notify the DMV within ten days of moving. You don’t have to get it changed on your license, but it makes it easier all around if you do. The fee ranges from 8 to 16 dollars to get a new license with your new address on it. Making time to do it is a little tricky, because the hours for the offices are the same as the hours most people work, but then again so are doctor’s offices and people seem to manage to make time to go there. It is also possible to do it online, so there really is no excuse not to do it.

One lady recently said “But I just moved here in November” It is March. This is fairly common. I’ve noticed that when people say “But I just…” then some not-really-good excuse is going to happen for why they think they are above the rules. “But I just…” really means “But I just think that I’m special and I don’t have to do this.”

People will say that they are waiting for their license to expire before they take care of it. If your license is going to expire within that calendar year you can do both at the same time. Either way – you still have to do it. The law doesn’t care about your convenience.

They have their checkbook and bills with them with the current address, but not their ID. So it is readily apparent what is important to them. Cable TV and cell phone service are going to win that battle. They’ve often gotten their car registered too, which is far more tedious.

I told one lady that if she got pulled over with the wrong information on her ID that she might have to go before a judge to get it worked out. She got indignant. She said “But I am a taxpayer!” I said “So is the judge.” This stumped her.

Being a taxpayer doesn’t entitle you to break the law. In fact, if you aren’t paying taxes, you are breaking the law. Being a taxpayer doesn’t mean anything. The rules apply to everybody equally. You aren’t above them because you are a taxpayer. That is insane.

Getting your ID current is just something you have to do as part of being an adult. It isn’t impossible, and it doesn’t take all day. Not doing it causes far more problems. Ideally, there would be self-service kiosks where people could take care of simple things like this in most government offices, like at the county clerk’s office. I know that they are working on that in my county. But, it can still be done online if it is a simple address change from within Tennessee.

It gets more complicated if you moved into Tennessee from another state. You have to provide a little more documentation, but it is all stuff that you should have anyway as an adult. This includes your birth certificate and Social Security card. None of it is a surprise – it is all spelled out on the Tennessee DMV website. I suspect that all states have similar requirements and similarly informative websites. So there really is no excuse for not getting it changed.

But then the chorus of “But I just…” is rising.

How do you know when you are an adult?

How do you know when you are an adult?

Sometimes there are rituals and ceremonies. You’ve graduated college. You’ve gotten married. You get to see a change has happened. It is celebrated.

Or there are other milestones. You’ve gotten your first “real” job. You’ve moved out on your own. You no longer need a cosigner for credit applications.

In some African cultures, women are marked when they reach certain points in their lives. You can tell who is married and who has had a child for instance by looking at the scars on their bodies.

We don’t have such visible markings here. Our changes are internal. You have to let people know you aren’t a child anymore. The only external mark is a wedding ring, and not even that guarantees that you are an adult.

It is good to be childlike, but not childish. You want to be able to be independent. That is a sign of a mature person.

I knew I was an adult when my parents died. We had a next door neighbor who was at least 70 years old. I was instructed to call her Mrs. Miles when I was growing up. When my parents died, I started calling her by her first name, Margaret. I didn’t even think twice about it. She didn’t correct me either. To call someone by their first name is to say you are equals. Previous to my parent’s death, we weren’t equals. But now we were. I’d gone through a trial by fire and come through (mostly) intact.

The sad thing is that my brother never got the message that I was an adult. He kept treating me as lesser. I was his little sister and he was determined to “keep me in my place.” It didn’t matter to him that I was 25, and had taken care of our Mom the whole time she was sick, and had handled the entire estate on my own.

To him, I was lesser and would always be. In reality, he was treating me as lesser to make himself feel better. He was pushing me down to raise himself up. He couldn’t accept the reality that his “kid” sister had done all the hard work and he’d run away from any responsibility. I’d proven I was an adult, and he’d proven he was a coward.

I refused to let him treat me as a child, and I still refuse it. I refuse to allow him or anyone to treat me in a disrespectful manner. If it means that the relationship has to be severed because of that, so be it. Life is too short to spend with people who are not kind. Life is too short to let people treat you like dirt.

Part of being an adult is putting a value on yourself and not letting anyone bid any lower than what you are worth. To let someone treat you badly is to tell them that is OK.

Now, to treat anyone as lesser is also a sign of immaturity. Part of being an adult is to know your own worth and to establish it. But it also doesn’t mean that you get to treat anybody else as beneath you.

Baby bird (there is more to being an adult than age)

Just because someone is older doesn’t mean that they are mature. There is nothing about time that tempers a person. There is nothing about getting older that means you are an adult. There is nothing about producing children that makes you a good parent.

You know a tree by its fruit.

Children often wail when they don’t get their way. Adults either yell or sulk. It is the same thing. Sometimes with adults it translates to drinking or drugs. That is just resentment and anger and grief turned inwards. It is socially accepted self abuse.

Four or forty, if you haven’t figured out how to be around yourself, you aren’t very nice to be around. There has to be something in there about self-soothing, about self-control. There has to be something in there about being active and not passive about life.

Life is all about change. Plan for the bumps.

It helps to get into a regular habit of exercise and eating well. Save more money than you spend. Find some creative outlet. Learn about other cultures and ways of thinking.

Break out of your shell.

You are a baby bird, stuck in a shell. You have to break out of it on your own. If someone helps you with it you will die. If you are not strong enough to break out on your own then you aren’t strong enough to survive on your own.

Be an active force. Don’t let life happen to you. Don’t wake up five, ten, twenty years from now and wonder how you got here, sick and dying and your life wasted away.