Thursday, May 31, 2012

Apparently You Still Have to DO It

I've been making lists and plans of all the things that need to be done. I'm really good at making lists. In my younger days I excelled at it spending hours each day on my various lists. First drafts with notes on them for my final drafts. If it didn't look quite right I'd start over. No joke. If I didn't have anything to legitimately list I would just find something to make a list of. After all, who doesn't need 15,732 identical lists of names for future children or all the different homonyms one can think of? As you can see, I took my lists very seriously. Even I don't know why I was compelled to make them.

Eventually I found a life, but I'm still skilled at  list crafting. Probably better than you. For your sake I hope I'm better. If you can beat me it means... nothing good for you. But I'm digressing.
My two most adorable and legit reasons for my failure to housekeep.
Also the main reasons I need to figure it out.

I've discovered that my "To Do" lists rarely get done. I've done extensive research on the subject. Online, mainly, but I've also read books on the subject. All I can say is that it is all ridiculous. Lists are not going to fix the problem and neither are other blogs or books written by experts. The reason they aren't going to fix the problem is that I still have to do the work.

It really is that simple. A list can track the actions I need to take. It can be motivating to cross things off that list. But the list won't do it for me. Likewise, I can read about how to clean or menu plan or organize or, well, you get the idea, but unless the problem is a genuine lack of knowledge, it won't help. For the most part, at least for me, lack of knowledge is not the problem.

There's nothing for it but to get off my keister and pick things up from places they don't belong and put them in places they do belong. Then I need to get finer debris off the cleared surfaces by using whatever combination of sucking, brushing, and wiping devices I have at my disposal. If I keep putting things in the places they belong I can avoid having to repeat the first step. That in turn will make the necessary repetition of the second step much less complicated and daunting.

What I am usually doing instead of keeping house.
It's not that I can't do it. I have done it. I did it eight months ago. I just don't do it now. At least not as often as I should. I'm guessing I'm in good company though. So how about it? Do you really not know how to do it, or do you just not know how to make yourself do it?

Monday, May 7, 2012

Raising Awareness about Raising Awareness

I'm tired of the concept of "raising awareness." When did that become a goal in itself? Name one good thing that "awareness" does.

It seems that a growing number of people think that if they "raise awareness" about                , they are helping to solve a problem. I recently heard about a group of (I hope) well-meaning people who want to form a committee to discuss problems facing certain "at risk" segments of the population. They'll initiate and encourage dialogue and innovative collaboration on a number of issues.  There was a sign-up sheet for those interested in being part of this group. Nowhere did the printout list any concrete goals of good accomplished. It was all about raising money and talking.

Unless the problem is too much silence, talking as a goal will not solve the problem.

Awareness does not treat a problem. Being aware of breast cancer does not treat it. Being aware of hunger does not feed anyone. Being aware of AIDS will not prevent infection. Being aware of abuse or neglect does not improve conditions for those in pain.

I realize that raising awareness is a way to feel better about oneself. How warm and fuzzy it is to care about the less fortunate, whether they be people or animals. But it is a false validation.

Unless the talk is accompanied by action it is useless. That makes it meaningless. If I am sleeping on a park bench it does not help me one whit if you tell your friend how bad you feel for me or if you really-think-something-needs-to-be-done to help me. If all you do is talk, you've done nothing.

If there is a problem that you feel passionate about, DO something.

If you feel bad for the cancer victim, give money to research. Or better yet, find someone and help directly. If you know a woman suffering from breast cancer, bring her a meal so she doesn't have to use her precious energy to cook. Take her out to a movie to provide some distraction. Watch her kids or do her dishes so she can take a nap. Sit with her one evening so her husband can go out bowling and have a break from his burden of watching his loved one battle something that he can't fight for her. Offer to just listen to whatever she wants to talk about. Anonymously slip an envelope with $100 in it under their door to help pay some of the expenses in a way that they can't refuse and can't "owe" you.

If your call is to help mistreated animals, volunteer at an animal shelter to help care for the animals. Find a place that rescues animals and give your time and money to help. Become a vet and offer your services at a discount. Set up a fund for people who have animals who need medical treatment but can't afford it. Or pay for a treatment yourself.

There are many ways you can make a positive impact in this world.  But rarely will that be by joining a group of like-minded people who are prepared to do nothing more than "really care."

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Night Before My Surgery

This past Wednesday I had my gallbladder removed. I tried to manage the issues without surgery because I believe that God gave me my organs for a reason, but it became obvious that we were all suffering due to my limitations. So out it went.

I was very nervous leading up to the surgery. Even though it is a very common procedure, things happen. Surgery is always a big deal. I thought a lot about my children. If I were to die today, they would not remember me. Daddy would tell them about me, they would have photos and videos, my words in their journals, but no true memories. I fear that.

Tuesday night I made sure to kiss my little girl until she squirmed away and escaped to bed. Then the rest of us went to bed.

Sleep did not come easily to me, nor it seems, to my daughter. I nursed Wriggly to sleep and, as I laid there, I heard her start to cry. I waited a bit to see if she would calm down but she didn't. Thinking she may have lost C.C. the Gurgle Bear, I went in to see her.

It turned out that she had C.C. and her backup. But she was writhing around in her crib crying and screaming. I couldn't figure out what was wrong so I picked her up. She collapsed into me, silent and limp. My little non-stop, go-go-go girl just buried her face in my neck.

I spent a good chunk of time rocking her, carrying her and singing "Baby Mine" while she snuggled her toys in her crib. As I sat in our rocking chair, smelling her hair and cheek, I was conscious of the thought I may never get another chance to do that.

I reflected on all the times I rocked her there. She has grown so much. She used to fit curled up in one cradled are and now her legs dangle off the chair.

I decided to just enjoy my girl that night. Because, regardless of how the surgery was going to go, my days with her are numbered.There are only so many times I will get to sit and rock her. The day will come when she no longer runs to me for comfort. She is a fiercely independent little thing and I need to cherish every moment of assurance she requires from me. Because I will crave that far more than she once it is gone. And one day, I will no longer be around.

I pray that I will live a long and fulfilling life with my family close to me, but there are no guarantees. So I will do my best to cherish every moment I am granted with them. Because the reality is that any one of them could be my last.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


This is something I wrote back on February 9th, 2008. I am reposting it here, without editing. Without reading it, in fact. I still miss him and regret that he never got a chance to see his great-grandchildren. He shaped me more than even I know and was the brightest part of my life before I met my husband. 

And I miss him.

My grandpa died. Late January. I could give the date and time as I was present and holding his hand when it happened. But I won't. That isn't the point of this. The point of this is to talk about his life.

Up until I got married he was the person I loved most in this world. I was always closer to my grandparents than my parents, but my grandpa and I had a special bond. I was his favorite and he was mine. It probably started because my mom and I lived with my grandparents for the first three years of my life. Until she got married.

Growing up I a bit of a tomboy. My grandpa taught me how to fish. As I got older I was allowed to do more until I was able to do it all myself. From baiting my hook to making sure they were ready for frying.

He was a perfectionist but I don't remember him ever being impatient with me. To this day he is the only person in my life that I have always been sure of. I never felt like I was judged and found wanting. To him I was perfect the way I was.

Although he was almost sixty years older than me I never thought of him as old. He was always active. In the spring he'd work in his garden, the summer he was out at the cabin taking care of whatever needed to be done out there. Then in the fall there were all the fallen leaves to rake into piles, at two locations, so that we grandchildren could jump in them. Of course the winter had snow activities from the pleasant, sledding, snow angels and igloo making, to the unpleasant, shoveling. He remained young until my grandma died in 1998.

In 1999 he had a stroke and had to move to Nevada from Wisconsin. It was the first of many that over the next ten years would slowly take away the grandpa I knew. One of the earliest things he lost was the ability to use a pen. This was a cruel blow for the man who had made a living as a commercial artist his entire life. He became increasingly frustrated with his inability to do things that once came so easily. Unable to work outside he spent most of his time watching television.

He was unable to return to his cabin on his own so twice I took him. One time spending five weeks there with him. I will always cherish that time. That was where he was happiest. At that time he was still able to putter around outside as long as someone was around to make sure he was alright.

Eventually he went into assisted living. But through it all, anytime I made it there to visit he had a huge smile for me. The people who worked at his various homes always knew who I was. They liked me to come visit because he was always happier when I was around. We'd go pick up coffee and sit at the park. Either on a bench or in the car, depending on how much strength he had. Even though he would get easily frustrated and upset, I never felt it was directed at me.

I packed for his funeral many times over the years. Something would happen and all the medical "experts" would agree that it was just a matter of weeks or days or hours. Once he was flown from the hospital in Elko to Reno. They Elko doctors couldn't help him and did not expect him to survive the flight. But when he got to Reno the doctors operated. They sawed open his skull, removed a gallon of blood caused by a slow leak over the previous month, and stapled him back together. He bounced back and eventually the only indication that he'd ever had surgery was a slight indent on his head that I only noticed when I cut his hair.

For the last few months of his life he was ready to die. He had already lived a year past when his bladder cancer was supposed to have killed him. He was unhappy with his quality of life. But even with his vascular dementia he never forgot who I was. I got to spend the last two days of his life with him. He wasn't able to talk but I held his hand when I was sitting next to him.

He was an amazing man. Everyone who met him remarked on it. While we sat waiting for the funeral home to pick up his body people came in the room to offer condolences. Every one said that they would miss him and his smile. Especially his smile. Most said they wished they could have known him before his decline. There is more to write but I'll probably not do it. There is not enough space and time to write everything. His death was not a shock to anyone, he was ready and he is in a better place, but it left a hole in me that cannot be filled. And I don't think I really want it filled.

John Frank Guzzetta May 1, 1919 – January 21, 2008