Relative Something

*this* John W. Hays' take on things and experiences

Posts Tagged ‘caring

A Discovery

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Portrait of the author after hand-shoveling around the barn doors this morning.

We received a walloping amount of snow overnight (between 10-11 inches) and strong winds are creating epic drifts. It will be a monumental day of digging out. Luckily, I wrote most of today’s post yesterday afternoon. I’ll give a more complete report on the details of our winter storm recovery tomorrow…

Meanwhile:

After waking up too early yesterday, resorted to random searching Google while awaiting the return of sleepiness. I simply typed the word, “love,” and happened upon an article from 2014 about living happily ever after in a long-term relationship.

In lieu of the Wikipedia definition of love, I clicked on the headline, “The Secret to Love is Just Kindness.”

That title included two things that I value the most: love and kindness, together with the enticing word, ‘secret.’ How could I resist?

Eventually, I drifted back into a dream-filled sleep, but not until after I had gained great insight, and felt totally convicted, about moments of my behavior. After breakfast, I read the article to Cyndie. She had the same reaction as me.

We have been married for 37-years, and somewhere in the middle of that span of time, dedicated a few years to marriage-saving couples therapy. Basically, our sessions went like this: we entered the hour looking to have our therapist “fix” the other partner, and left each time having learned more about ourselves than we sometimes wanted to know.

The years since have been better than I ever dreamed possible between us. How could this ever be improved upon?

Now I know. Despite all the work I have done toward seeking optimal health, specifically, not taking on any of the several deplorable traits of my father, I am very clearly a product of my parents. (Luckily, I did inherit plenty of Dad’s finer qualities!) In the midst of any project I undertake, I will find myself doing the “air-whistle” my mother often “phoo-whewed.” I am also all too adept at seamlessly replicating Ralph’s ability to be a sourpuss.

Cyndie is sweet enough to tolerate the random –and I’m hoping, mostly subtle– air-whistling (song-breathing?) habit, but she never deserved the boorish behaviors she has endured in our marriage.

In my depressive years (multiple dubious skills of which I no doubt picked up from my father), I could totally relate to the line in John Prine’s song, “Angel from Montgomery:”

How the hell can a person go to work in the morning
And come home in the evening and have nothing to say.

I knew exactly how that is done. Ralph did that to my mother so many times it became normal and accepted. It was no wonder that I could recognize when he’d imbibed to inebriation. He was suddenly chatty as could be with Mom.

From the article in The Atlantic, I now understand how divisive it is when Cyndie’s bids for connection are met with my lack of engagement. The kind thing to do when someone seeks connection, is to turn toward them, not away. For some reason, I have an uncanny skill of treating the one person closest to me at home, with a cold shoulder, something I would hard-pressed do to a person in public.

“There’s a bright red cardinal out the window!” Cyndie might report.

If not silence, I might offer an uninterested, “Okay.”

She hadn’t asked a question, so did it require an answer?

The healthy thing to do for a relationship –one that I want to thrive for a lifetime, not just survive– is to meet all of her bids for connection with kind attention, even when I don’t necessarily feel like it.

Even if it is limited to telling her that I just don’t feel like being kind right now, that would be a connection.

Actively being kind to our partner’s bids for connection, especially the trivial (ultimately, not-so-trivial) ones, seems the healthy way to nurture a thriving life-long relationship.

That isn’t a mind-blowing insight, but it was an eye-opening self-discovery for me that resulted in a quest for greater love.

Onward, on my quest toward optimal health…

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Lake Hangover

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When the day-job is extremely Monday-ish, the struggle to get my mind back into work mode after a weekend at the lake with Cyndie’s family is doubly difficult. The dramatic difference of the sterile, air-conditioned atmosphere compared to the lush, warmth of the beach and woods was shock enough without the added stress of multiple challenging complications on the first day of the week.

I’m sure there is a balance between not caring at all and being overly concerned about keeping all parties happy. That’s an act that I have yet to master, swaying far past the center balance in my predilection to avoid the extreme of not caring.

Arriving home to a dog and cat who are both over the moon to see me again goes a long way toward purging any lingering angst from the work day.

With the respectable amount of heat and humidity lingering over our region, I was disinclined to jump right into a chore when I got home. Pausing to decompress in the recliner predictably led to an involuntary nap after I was done giving the cat all the scratches her stretched out body wanted.

Word from Cyndie and Jackie is that the chickens were given access to the wide open free range yesterday and they quickly made tracks for the composting manure piles to kick around and peck for bugs. That’s what they were hired to do, so I’m pleased as punch, even if it means I need to extend extra energy more often to reshape the resulting mess.

All ten were present for bed check last night, thank goodness.

Shortly after that, I was headed for my own bed, falling asleep to memory images lingering still from the glorious weekend at the lake.

Here’s hoping Tuesday at the day-job will be as soothing as floating in the water under the warm sunshine was over the weekend.

Well, a guy can dream, can’t he?

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Written by johnwhays

August 14, 2018 at 6:00 am

Special Friendship

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We are richly blessed this year to have two very precious people sharing our homestead while they are in the process of relocating to Minnesota where they will be closer to family. Our combined situations have aligned such that George and Anneliese are helping us out immensely while we are giving them a temporary home-base for their varied activities.

Since Cyndie’s knee replacement surgery on the last day of November, they have been a key support in allowing me to maintain my early work shift by covering morning chores in caring for our animals. They have also been instrumental in filling in with meal preparations, grocery shopping, and kitchen management.

dscn5678eIt has been my saving grace.

Last night, Anneliese surveyed a few recipes and whipped out a spectacular dinner of barbecue ribs, sweet potato fries, spicy beans, pineapple slices and salad. It was a taste of summer on one of the colder nights of the year that warmed our hearts as much as it filled our stomachs and thrilled our taste buds.

We hit the jackpot once again, on the lottery of precious friends. Their companionship during this period of sharing living space together has been so rewarding that we find ourselves longing for them to return whenever we are home alone for too long.

There is a saying that you can pick your friends, but you can’t pick your family. Well, we seem to keep getting around that by finding friends that very quickly become members of our family.

Thank you, George and Anneliese for taking such good care of us while we are taking care of you!

Isn’t that just the way things should always go?

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Written by johnwhays

January 5, 2017 at 7:00 am

Who Cares?

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DSC03455eLife is pretty great when it involves staying home everyday and taking care of our animals, but there is no denying a sense of isolation that shows up on occasion. My world is horses, a dog, and occasionally a cat. Currently it is also snow and snow plowing, wood splitting, and walking our snow-packed trails. It is pretty idyllic.

I scan news headlines and feel far removed from everything I see. Issues like the struggles in Syria and Ukraine, Islamic State terrorists, Boko Haram mass kidnappings, epic snow storms in and around Boston, measles outbreaks, and million dollar lottery jackpots. If any ripples from the daily top news events are making it to the middle of our country onto our precious property, they are so dampened that I cannot detect them.

I live in the luxury of not needing to notice. At the same time, I can’t help being influenced by struggles in other places. Closer to home, there are ongoing difficulties that family and friends face which have some measure of influence on my psyche. That is something that I can more tangibly grasp and contribute my thoughts of love toward.

Most difficult for me is when the person I am closest to is heavily burdened by the ongoing challenges of her professional responsibilities. I think that is my Kryptonite.

One of my defense mechanisms for dealing with all the world’s ills is to not care. It seems like a poor choice of reaction, but it is a superficial method of saving myself. Deep down, I really do care, and am moved by the suffering of fellow human beings. What I mean by superficially not caring is that I move past the tough news without dwelling too long on any one issue.

When I have the strength to do battle for people or causes, I become active in those with which I am connected and which are within my reach to help. As a person living with depressive tendencies, I need to pay attention to maintain a healthy balance in my “reason to live” file. Feeling like you can do nothing to help others in this world is a dangerous mindset to allow. Even if my only contribution ends up being that I send love out into the world, that is significant for me. It reflects that I am healthy enough to make that choice.

A depressed person generally wouldn’t be so inclined.

Who cares? I do. Really, I do. Even if I pretend that I don’t.

I’m sending love.

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Written by johnwhays

February 12, 2015 at 7:00 am