Pages

Why? my blog title "Better2me"

As a woman, mother, and wife my first instinct is to take care of those around me. I nurture those I love in many ways through out the day, but sometimes find myself neglecting me. Recently I realized that I need to nurture myself as well. So this blog is about ME!!!!! What fills my heart; my simple life of kids, husband, animals, home, and creativity. For being better2me leads me to be better to those I love.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Passing on my life lessons. (Draft from 2013)

Today as I headed out the door, I grabbed my phone and saw three missed calls along with two messages. The first stated "You suck at the communication thing mom", the second "Really, just pick up your phone." All sent from my oldest son Kellan. I reentered the door and sat down for what I could tell would be a long conversation.
I reached him, sitting in his car, and from the sound of his voice I could picture the isolation and desperation he was feeling. Turns out he and his roommate had a combined project in engineering that was due this morning. He had worked all night, but still had not succeeded in making it work. He started off giving me all the reasons that success was elusive. 1. The instructor changed the criteria on them half way through and they had to "reinvent the wheel" 2. The same teacher had three major projects due the same week. 3. The tool room to fabricate the project was packed and so instead of using the professional die machines, he decided to make it using the tools he had at home. 4. His roommate didn't start his part of the project until last night............ I commiserated with him, for I really felt his pain, but wanted him to work through it so he could connect to what was causing this feeling of failure that radiated from him.
First we discussed that as an "outside the box thinker" Kellan is extremely creative; sometimes his unique ideas work, and sometimes they do not. When I asked if this could be the issue he stated, No, that it was a tried and true idea and should have worked. I brought up that as an engineer he would need to work with others to create something new and that group projects in college were, in large part, trying to teach him how to work as a team, and as an individual with a strong opinion of what should happen he may have taken on too much without including his partner. He agreed that he can be known to want things "his" way, but that was not the biggest issue. They had split the project with one doing the written work and the other the model building. As we progressed along with this question and answer session I got closer to what I felt was the main problem, so I shared with him stories of when I felt similar, such as in high school when Tracey Sang and I were assigned as team mates on a big project. She finished a week before the due date, while I waited, as usual, and handed her my pages (ah BI, before internet) minutes before it was due. I felt terrible about myself, but couldn't figure out why as I was doing what I always do. We also talked about how he and I share a perfectionism gene, something I have learned stops me from investing myself in things I worry I might fail, or stops me from completing projects but they are just south of perfect. Having finally believed I had arrived at the true issue I asked him are you mad that the project didn't turn out, or mad at yourself for procrastinating and letting your friend down? 
Of course it was an easy choice, it was himself he was mad at. Embarrassed that he had let his friend down (he actually had his roommate take the project in today and skipped class because, although he didn't realize it at the time, he was too embarrassed to turn in a failure. I tried to tell him that it is a life lesson, although I didn't change with my Tracey Sang incident, it made me aware of what I had done, and I tried to do better in the future. Today I do try to begin way in advance and get a project done early, but I still procrastinate to some degree and fear is my biggest enemy. I impressed on him that I do not want these issues to stop him from becoming the most amazing person he can be.
I suggested we figure out some steps he needs to take. First he needs to find his roommate and apologize, not just for letting him down, but also for leaving him holding the ball. He needs to tell him that in the future he will try to do better and ask him not to give up on him. I shared with him that recently his brother was in a similar predicament, although on the other side, Keaton had picked someone as a partner he thought would get the job done, but during the process he realize this person might not fulfill his part. So Keaton had taken on the responsibility of the whole project and his friendship with the other had suffered as respect was lost, Kellan would have to earn that respect back. We also discussed that even though he was getting better at organizing when his work is due, we may need to help him create a system that blocks off periods of time for each assignment and break the large assignments into smaller components......something that I realize now he has not learned because he never needed it due to the fact that he skated through high school. 
Our conversation ended with him still feeling like crap about himself, but with an understanding about why he felt like he did and a plan to work on for the future. As I thought about our "lesson" I realized how alike we are in so many ways and that some lessons that were painful for me to learn, serve an even higher purpose in that by understanding my failures, I can impart that knowledge to Kellan.............now I can only hope he learns from it the first time.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Heavenly Math

It has been awhile since I have posted, but I have had trouble being passionate enough about something to write about it, but then, while cleaning out my studio, I came across my college portfolio. It flipped open to a essay I wrote in a math class for teachers, about four years ago.......it was suppose to show us that math is important because we use it daily without even realizing it. It is not my normal style of writing, but I remember how it popped in my head the instant the teacher assigned it and how fun it was to write. I was also reminded, from the written remarks of the teacher, who was a high school principal, that he enjoyed it so much he shared it at the monthly principals meeting in his district. It motivated me to start some drafts of other essays and to get back in the process of writing for the joy of it.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
There once was a boy named John who loved math. He equated everything in life, from the lamp posts that looked like number sevens, to the geese that flew in triangular formation over his house in the fall, into mathematical equations. For fun, John solved the hardest mathematical problems he could find and when he found himself stumped by an especially difficult one, he would go to bed early knowing that the answer would come to him in his mathematical dreams.

Then one day, while John was attending the mathematical university that he had always yearned of, a tragic accident occurred. Train A, with his mother aboard, left the station at 12:00 PM and was going at a speed of 80 MPR, Train B, carrying his father, left the opposite station at 1:00 PM going 60 MPR, but instead of passing each other at point X, the track operator made a huge mathematical blunder by solving instead for point Y, the trains collided, killing everyone on board.

John could not understand how something like math, that had brought him such great joy throughout his life, could become so completely devastating. From that point on, John tried to erase math from his life. He decided he had to leave college, because math was no longer a friend but a deadly enemy. He had to quit his job, because he could no longer live by the clock with its numbers taunting him. Telephones and computers were cast out from his life because they were created and run by math related technology. Plus there was no need to work because money and its mathematical addition, subtraction, percentages, etc, were a a constant reminder of his tragic loss. He had to leave his house when he realized that the engineering and architecture used in creating it was all mathematical in origin. He could not even eat a pie because no matter how you cut it, it involved fractional math.

He moved to the country away from all humans to live in a land free of math. However, when he got there he realized he had made a big mistake, for math was everywhere in the wild of nature. It existed in the number of offspring each species had in relation to what the land could support and also in the changing of the seasons, from fall to winter to spring to summer, that could be evaluated using mathematical equations. As he hunted with a bow and arrow he realized the physics involved in its use and threw it down in disgust. He dug himself a hole that was neither square, no round, nor octagon, and crawled inside waiting to die.

When he reached heaven he was welcomed by St. Peter, who led him directly to God.

“I have been waiting for you.” said God, “I have seen you suffer terribly during your life time and now it is time for you to have peace. Let me show you the difference between your life on earth and your life in heaven.”

With that God placed before him a diagram of John’s earthly life.
Birth *------------------------------------* Death

John began to cry hysterically when he realized that although he had avoided math during his whole life, in death, his life could be summed up in one of the simplest of mathematical phrases, a line segment.

God however, mistook John’s grief for pain in having wasted his life, and He tried to bring him joy by showing him that from this point forward, John would have eternal life in heaven. But when God laid John’s future before him, Johns sorrow deepened for what he saw was only a mathematical ray.
*--------------------------------------------------------------->

The moral of this story is that math is everywhere, even in Heaven :)

Saturday, May 18, 2013

An Ache in the Middle of an Amazing Moment

Two summers ago while in Mexico we met, through friends, two woman who enhanced my life. A mother and daughter whose bond was ethereal, a true gift from God.

The mother, who had been fighting lung cancer, taught me to step outside my comfort zone. She confided in me that usually she would not have come alone with her daughter or done many of the things she did that week, if it had not been for her need to create memories with her. She stated that no longer was the idea of getting on a jet ski scary or embarrassing, because her figure was far from perfect or because of the many scars and loss of hair from brain surgery, but instead was a moment to live, to feel the wind against her face, to feel joy.

Her daughter and only child taught me that the bond between child and mother is so strong and powerful. Seeing them together, I truly believe that the love she had for her mother is what kept her alive far past her time.

Love won the battle, but unfortunately lost the war as that next Thanksgiving Day, in a true twist of irony, or perhaps fate, as all were to sit down for a dinner, her mother went quickly, called by a higher power to a place free of pain.

Unfortunately, here, pain still lingers, and on Instagram this morning her daughter posted a graduation picture of herself in front of her sorority at USC. An amazing person in all areas, culturally, socially, academically, and with a graduation gown embellished with the highest honors a student from one of the most prestigious schools ever, she is so accomplished for someone her age.. But the comment she had placed underneath simply stated "I hope you are proud of me Momma."

As a mother myself and as someone who has become a better person for knowing her mother, this brought tears to my eyes. and although I can state emphatically and with true certainty that there is no one prouder, in this world and the next, then her mother is of her......I cannot change the true issue, that her mother is not here to say it herself.

Monday, April 15, 2013

I sometimes forget.

I sometimes forget what is important. Tonight when Keaton returned from Knotts, where he spent the day with three other boys for a birthday party, he was telling us all about the fun he had. He stopped, and then stated there was only one thing that was not fun. He had gone to the bathroom and returned to two of his friends who were inline for a ride. His friends said it wouldn't be fair and therefor they wouldn't let him "cut". So he went to the back of the line about twenty people behind. Yet, when the fourth friend returned, the two other boys allowed him to "cut" and still left Keaton behind. He did not know if they did this to hurt his feelings or to tease him, but either way he realized how wrong this was and decided that he didnt need friends like these. He left and did his own thing.

When I heard this I became upset.....first as a mother whose child has been hurt. I too wanted to hurt, scream yell and state emphatically that these were not the kind of friends he needed......my second thought was "What! You went off by yourself at Knotts????" But I kept my cool instead and asked for more details. Keaton said he just did his own thing and after a couple of rides, the third kid who was "allowed" to cut called Keaton on his cell and asked if he could hang out with him. The two of them had fun together until the last two boys also hooked up with him.

I steamed for a couple more hours as I thought of the unfairness of the actions and replayed in my head the million of things that could have happened to Keaton........but then I realized I had missed a big point. I hadn't told Keaton how proud I was of him for realizing he was being mistreated and then standing up for himself, and doing it in a way that was perfect for him.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Praying for a Stranger

Tonight while having dinner next to the ocean in Hawaii, a family of three was seated at the table next to us. A mother, her teen, and preteen daughter. The youngest sat close to her mom touching her every chance she got....a finger to her mothers shoulder, a squeeze of her hand, a kiss to the cheek. The other sat on the far side of the table with a chair between her an her mother, and another between her sister and herself. She sat prim and proper in her chair, and even though she participated in the conversation you could tell that something was weighing heavy upon her shoulders. The mother sat tall and proud and hung on every word that was said by either of her dark haired, beautiful daughters. But looking closely, I realized that the silk scarf covering her head, was trying to hide the fact that she was bald. A baldness that can only be contributed to chemotherapy and the diagnosis of cancer.

The puzzle pieces began to fall into place and the scenario began to make sense. A mother, perhaps single, who wished special memories with daughters, just in case the outcome was not good....a daughter who wanted to hold on tight and never let her mother go,...... an older daughter more knowledgable about the game of cancer and dealing with it in her own way...... Even if wrong, I knew the scenario could not be good..... as I visually eavesdropped onto their conversation and their life, I related to her as a mother, how might I feel in the same predicament, and how would my children fair, if they too were caught in the same web.

So, I opened up my heart and and said a silent prayer, imploring God to protect this family, for these two girls needed their mother and I vehemently hoped it made a difference.

Sunday, March 10, 2013

It is a Tigger life for me.

Around the age of eighteen, my sister Denise moved away from home. After a couple of tries with roommates, she realized she was better off alone. Then one day, she came by to show us a roommate she thought she could get along well with. A tiny calico kitten; white with spots of brown, yellow, and black, that she promptly named Tigger.

Tigger was her baby and her pride and joy. So, when Denise started dating her husband to be, Bob, he learned quickly that the key to her heart lay through Tigger. Early on in their relationship he bought her a stuffed Tigger, like the one from the Disney's, Winnie of Pooh.

Both Tiggers were a part of their family for many years. Tigger the kitty lived a great life that spanned almost twenty years as a loved and loving member of the family.
Stuffed Tigger, lived on Denise's bed and slept with her and Bob at night. With age Tigger needed repairs and permanent stitches could be seen on his worn and well loved coat. When circumstances took them away from home, Tigger went with them.....whether camping, or living it up in a hotel, Denise always made room in her luggage for him, and often he was spotted being carried in the crook of her arm. Tigger became a symbol of their love for each other.

So, when Denise passed away a decision had to be made as to what should be done with Tigger, but her family knew that after thirty five years, a separation was the worst possible scenario, and so it was decided that Denise and Tigger should be buried together. When her daughter took him to the mortuary, she asked that he be placed in the crook of her arm, just like where he had spent so many hours.

Recently, we gathered together as a family to celebrate Denise's grandson, Grey's, second birthday and to surprise his mom with a baby shower for his soon to be sister. Presents were opened and ooo'd and awwwww'd over, but then a gift stopped us all in our tracks. Denise's granddaughter-to-be received a bright shiny new Tigger from a friend, Kristin, who is more family than not.

There was not a dry eye in the house and at first I thought, what an amazing present this was, but quickly it became glaringly obvious that the tears were also representative of the reality, that someone who should have been there was absent. My heart broke for my sister who will never meet her granddaughter, for a daughter whose pain of not having her mother with her at this time, is so clearly evident, and for a granddaughter who will never know how much her grandmother wanted to be here to meet her.

But thoughts like these would not change anything and my sister would be the first to take the emphasis off her and put it on something she felt more important. So, I decided instead to look at the hope this gift offered. Hope that this Tigger would be loved as much as Denise's Tigger, that it would be be a constant reminder of Denise's love for all of us and our love for her. That through our memories of Denise and her Tigger we can let this precious baby girl know that she is loved and that her Grammie is alive in her and through us.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Motivation

I write my blog for me....a journal of my life, a memoir for my sons. Kinda like when you look through an old photo album and a picture brings back the images and feelings of an event long ago. For these reasons I don't expect others to read it, or to be influenced by it. However, lately I have been lax on documenting the important moments in time as life has moved swiftly ahead and I have lost the drive to create a meaningful post. Putting words together to create my unique voice has just seemed like too much work.

So, it came as a surprise when I saw a compliment on my Facebook recently from my girlfriend Amber.

"Sitting by the fire on this chilly day, I stumbled across an amazing blog! So well written, quirky, & clever. It is fabulous! And it is yours :)"

It took me a minute to realize she was talking about my blog, and when it registered, it not only sent a glow of gratitude through me that she had taken the time to read it and that it had resonated within her enough to leave such a nice compliment, but it also reenergized me to write. Realizing if she could relate to its content, then someday my boys will also.

So thank you Amber for your kind words, they too have greatly influenced me.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Prideful Mamma

So proud of Keaton, he had a deadline to finish a book and take the Accelerated Reader test by Tuesday. Last trimester he read a book, in fact he read it twice so he made sure he got it, and for the first time passed the AR test on it, (comprehension is his biggest weakness) however he did not get credit because it was below the five point minimum.....so this trimester he picked a fifteen point book, he did well reading everyday, but because it was so long he had to read on weekends and during busy periods, but some days he still missed, so this last weekend he had to read two hundred pages in between playoff games for soccer, sleepovers, birthday parties, flight lessons, etc......but he did it with no influence from me.

That is why I am proud of him, the fact he passed his test was a big bonus.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

An Expensive Lesson

Not long ago my oldest child, Kellan, called me with something that weighed heavily on his mind. I am lucky that he does this often and that sometimes he even listens to my advice ;). This days concern was about his math class.....he felt he might fail it. This is my child who has never received below a "B" on anything in his life and has never had to try or make an effort to do so. My child who has made every athletic team he has ever tried out for, who was asked to be on the athletic decathlon by his high school AP teacher who thought he was the most unique thinker she has ever seen, and whose out of the box thinking style has many of his teachers becoming lifelong friends, as they could communicate on the same level and learn from each other......however I was not surprised when he told me he might be failing.

Actually for these exact reasons, living a life on easy street had not prepared him for real life, which is all about how you deal with situations and nothing about how smart you are. When I asked him why he thought he was failing, not about the grades but about the actions involved, he stated honestly, that he hadn't done the homework, hadn't participated in the learning, He even stated that math was his easiest class and that this level, calculus 3, should have been a breeze for him, but because he thought it would be easy he didn't think he had to put in as much effort.

"We'll there you have it." I told him.

"That's it, he stated! That's all your going to say?"

"Yep, you know how it happened, so now you just have to deal with the consequences."

................But I did elaborate, cuz I can't stop myself. I told him what I have learned through many years of experience. As a child I always thought I was stupid and I thought being smart would make my life so much easier. So as a mother to him, I wanted him to be the best he could be, and I put too much emphasis on his grades. However, when I went back to college in my late thirties, I found that I wasn't as dumb as I thought by graduating with a 4.0, then realized an even more important lesson, it wasn't about the grade on your report card, but about what you had actually learned, both in books and through the process of learning. With Keaton, my whole idea of worth shifted when I see him struggling as a blind person, in a classroom of teachers who teach 90% visually. He comes away with only part of the puzzle pieces he needs, yet he will do what ever it takes to make it work. I do not judge him by grades, but by the determination and works he puts into something. Keaton is already learning those skills that I should have taught you earlier.

I could see the wheels turning and after a minute, he nodded and agreed. "You're right," he said "I need to take responsibility for my actions. I will do everything I can to get a good grade on the final and hopefully that will bring my grade up to passing, and if not, then I will take it again next semester and take a class during the summer to make it up."

I smiled that he got it, and then I told him that if he failed I would 1. still love him, 2. He would have to take the class again, and this time. 3. He would have to pay for the class himself because his father and I were not paying for his lesson.

A sheepish look accompanied his reply, "I liked it better when you just ragged on me, in junior high, for getting an "A", when you felt I should have gotten and "A+".

Postscript:
Since a good grade on the final was not enough to pass the class, the real lesson to be learned will come when he finds out that paying $20 dollars a week for a $1500 class, on a college students budget, is going to mean a lot more top ramen and walking, to save gas.



about me

Alta Loma, California, United States
I am a wife of 28 years to Kevin, a pilot, a mother of 22 year old Kellan and 15 year old Keaton. I am caretaker to a zoo of animals including dogs, cats, chickens, fish, birds, turtles, etc. I am a gardener, a cook, a writer, a painter, a teacher, and I am truly blessed to be able to live life the way I wish too.