Good morning, would you do me a favor? Grab a cup of coffee and sit down with me. Pour a nice shot of creamer in it; add a bit of sugar, if you like, but sit down and talk with me. I’ve been thinking  and wonder how many of you are worried about content. Maybe you are worried about something large or something small; we always seem to find time to worry about something. In order for you to feel contentment today, what would have to happen? Take a couple of minutes and think, “What would make me feel content today?”

Is it something that you can control? Is it something that’s really important in your big picture? Is it someone else’s behavior, or someone else’s thoughts?

This isn’t my typical way of writing a blog. I have been putting all of them in a word document, so that I can print them off for family. I have made changes back and forth sharing my story and trying to encourage you in yours.  In the process realized I Havent addressed feeling satisfied. Contentment is so important for our survival. Stress is a huge cause of so many diseases and problems in our lives.

A couple of weeks ago I was talking to one of my sons about a new relationship. He said, “Mom, we are both really content.” I felt so much peace, when he made that statement; to have contentment in any area of our lives and not want more? His statement got me to thinking about my life and what makes me content. The forerunner is when our children and grandchildren are safe and healthy. I always think happiness can be a rollercoaster, but their health brings me contentment.

Then I began thinking about my children’s level of contentment, and friends levels, the nations.. I spend a lot of time thinking! So now I am asking all of you in writing, “What makes you content?” Do you feel the need for more money, more sex, more excitement, more respect, more job satisfaction, a happier marriage, good health? If you think about it, and formulate a plan, maybe you can achieve it. If you are looking for the Vikings to win a Superbowl, well I hate to tell you, but you have no control and may never feel content! (I am writing this the week after the Eagles won, good for them…. :)) What exactly is it that you want?

Prioritize: Would you give up money for your health, or your children’s health? Would you give up job satisfaction for more money? Are you willing to give up respect for more control? Would you give up your health for anything? Are you doing these things?

I don’t expect answers back. A friend recently told me that even the blogs she can’t necessarily identify with, make her think.. I really like that she would think about what I write; that’s all I ask, not that you agree or have a “wow” feeling, but that you think.

I wish you contentment. I wish you enough.



Creating Family

When I was teaching and working with at-risk students, I taught them things like interview skills, how to iron, how to set a table, etc.  We also talked about finding mentors for ourselves.  I shared with them examples of people that I had looked up to and ways I had set a plan for who I wanted to be and how I wanted to live my life.  “Find someone, or someones, that you respect, emulate them, copy the parts of them you want and disregard the rest.”

My Grandma Patten was a huge influence on me.  Many of her coping skills have become mine: reading, sewing, working outside, baking … Her love and devotion to her grandchildren, I have exceeded at, only because they all live closer to me and I have more freedom and the finances, to travel and have additional experiences with them. Many of these are obvious traits that were developed because of my loving relationship with her.

There was a woman in town, who was a second cousin of my Dad’s.  Valdean was tall and classy.  She was a member of the sorority in NewTown, she and her husband were considered wealthy (they lived in one of the largest houses in town, which would seem normal, by today’s standards) and she was a great hostess.  We, as the poorer side of the family, the country mice as it were, were invited for a few occasions.  I remember a couple of parties and dinners.  I, very carefully, watched what she did and how she handled herself.  I appreciated that when I would talk to her, she appeared to listen, and I think she was curious about how I would turn out.  My love of hostessing was developed because of the confidence I had, from practice and from remembering Valdean and her confidence.  I knew what I wanted my home to look like and the feeling people should have when they walked in.  I was unable to mimic tall, and only on my good days, do I pull off classy.  🙂

It would be unfair and untrue if I didn’t consider the effect of my mom, on me.  We would have very early jazz band practices, and I hated and still do dislike getting up early in the morning.  Mom would make it a treat for me, by getting up and making hot chocolate, before waking me and enticing me up the stairs, for my ride to town.  It was Mom who argued fervently, as I listened through the door, with Dad about why I should be able to be in band.  The saxophone they bought me was expensive enough to be considered an investment.  It was Mom, who stood by the school bus, as I got on to travel to a band trip, who apologized to me because I had cashed in my savings bonds to be able to go.  She took me to 4-H and participated as a leader.  I wouldn’t have learned how to make hospital corners, when making the bed, or  the practice at making kettles of homemade chocolate pudding.  (My Family loved it.)  She loved her kids the best she could, it was apparent she tried and succeeded in getting us to adulthood, before relinquishing us to life.  Mom taught me many things about how to do the best you can, and about surviving.

We watched the “Waltons”, if you don’t remember it, you are missing out. The Waltons were a family that was imperfect: John Boy was condescending, Mary Ellen was a straight up bitch sometimes, the grandparents interfered, the mother was overwhelmed…but they loved each other and protected each other. They were my fantasy family.  I distinctly remembering laying on the floor of our living room, in the semi-darkness, with my family watching the weekly drama unfold.  I’m not sure what the attraction was, or why I thought their family was any more normal or attractive than ours, but they were my ideal.

I was pregnant with my third child when his Dad said he thought we should be done having children.  I was 26 years old and had a tubal ligation.  I wan’t happy about it, I had always wanted a larger family, a Walton’s family.  Life works out; I had a round-a-bout way of forming my family.  It’s not everything I imagined, it’s more.  There has been more sadness, more laughter, more arguments, more fun and definitely more marriages!  Lol.  As of today, (it could change at any moment) I have three children I gave birth two, two I didn’t and a step-daughter from my second marriage, all of whom  I love very much; My step-daughter has three children and I have 6 more grandchildren.  Every single adult child is happy, healthy and in love. I hold my breath……..  Grateful…..

Goodnight John Boy, Goodnight Mama, Goodnight Shanna………



When You See One, There Are Always More….

My Mom and Dad moved back on to the family farm, when I was about four.  Dad had worked in the oilfield, but he wanted to farm.  Grandpa Pat was ready to slow down, and then died.  We moved into the old farm house.  It was a sea foam green two story house, that originally only had an outhouse.  Grandpa and Grandma had taken a porch and made it into a small den, bathroom and enlarged the kitchen area.  It sat on a dirt basement, with a coal burning stove that heated the house, sometimes.  In the coldest days of the winter months, we would all sleep in the living room, with a blanket blocking off the kitchen-half of the house, the door shut to the upstairs, and the furnace full of coal, trying to heat that little bit of house we were sleeping in.  We didn’t mind much; we were warm, and it was “camping out” to us kids.

The only thing we had to worry about on those nights, is that the mice wanted to be warm too.  They would come up from the basement, and risk life-or-death, by running around.  They especially liked to surprise you in the bathroom.  I would be sitting on the toilet, and a mouse, or two would come out and look at me.  We both had our jobs to do-me finishing my toileting and them trying to survive.

Dad would periodically catch a bull snake and release him into the basement, to try and control the population, but never seemed to make much difference.  It only made going down to get canned goods more interesting, as I was terrified, the mouse would survive and I would not.

Dad later gave the house away to the mover, who sold or gave it to someone in the White Earth Valley.  Dad told me in later years they used it for their animals.  We built a new house, whose only infiltrators were salamanders, or a calf or lamb, who were brought in by the humans.

I was lucky enough to have repeat performances of mouse escapades, when I lived in a 12×60 trailer house in an oil camp, in 1978-1982.  I was visiting with my mother-in- law on the phone, when I saw the tinfoil move, that was covering the roast beef on the counter.  I looked again in time to see a mouse pull a piece of beef off the plate, slide it across a bit of counter and take it down behind the stove.  There were times I would be laying in bed nursing my oldest son, and a mouse would come out from his hiding and look up at me, with no fear in his eyes.  We were outnumbered.

When we sold that trailer house, very soon after that, I pictured it going down the road to Billings, Montana; the mice waving goodbye as they began their new adventure.

An interesting insight into my life on the farm?  I have tried to give you a few of them, so you know who I am; based on my experiences you can see when we are similar.  So you can believe me, when I tell you I understand where many of you have been.

I was watching TV one morning, working on a Soduko puzzle.  I’m trying to keep my brain more toned than my body.  The announcement came on that Charlie Rose had been suspended.  I set my puzzle down and tried to take it in; I’m obviously not one of those people oblivious to abuse; I’ve had my share of it, in several different versions, but Charlie Rose…  I didn’t see that coming.  Many of the broadcasters have made the point of saying, how do we balance our feelings for someone we care about, who has done something so wrong.  I don’t care if it’s the Senator from Michigan, or Alabama, or our favorite morning news commentator,  the President, or family member.  It hurts when someone we respect, betrays trust.

How do we balance our feelings?  By lashing out at others?  The women in this case, and there have been men in other cases as well, are like mice…They for whatever reason, have held on for five, or ten, or 40 years.  Their lives were changed, but they survived by doing what they had to do.  Victims are like mice, stories of abuse are like mice…if there is one, there is more.

The stories in the news have been mostly sexual abuse of power, but my analogy can be any form of abuse.  I have thoughts and prayers in my heart right now for people who are physically, emotionally, and verbally abused as well.  Verbal and emotional abuse leave no outward physical scars, but the damage is so difficult to overcome.  Please don’t become so comfortable with it, because of your family, or culture that you don’t pay attention to the mice.

With all of my heart, I wish you..




Forgiveness is mine

Thanksgiving is coming up soon and it always gets me to thinking about what I’m truly thankful for:  This week I am thankful for forgiveness.

I’m not a perfect person as my children like to tell me regularly.  They tease me about my foibles, the eccentricities of their mother, and my outright mistakes.  (Only they are allowed to do this though, they would set anyone else straight who criticized me.) I have had to ask for their forgiveness and I am so thankful that they have given it to me.  I can’t imagine living with the guilt for the rest of my life, if they said, “No, we can’t forgive you, you are unforgiveable.”  Their father and I made mistakes in our marriage, ending it in divorce, and today respect each other and have given forgiveness.  Our children have benefitted from that and learned from it.  We are a family who believes in forgiveness.

I had coffee today with a classmate from my high school days.  We talked about forgiveness and how it correlates in today’s society.  I shared with her that it upsets me that our entire society seems to have a chip on their shoulder and is unable to give forgiveness.  What we have is a society of victims who can’t give forgiveness, choose not to move forward, and are unable to be healthy survivors.  Here I am on my high horse, I know.  There are wonderful examples of groups of peoples who were treated horribly in history and have moved on: the Italians, the Irish and the Chinese were treated as slaves, they mined and built our railroads receiving little or nothing for pay.  They were spit on, beat up and called names.   They are survivors.

When you act like a victim; people treat you like a victim; you are perceived as weak and unable to take care of yourself.  Look around you.  Some of you will think I am talking about a particular race, or culture, but I’m not.  You see victims everywhere, regardless of whatever stereotype you want to name.  I’m reading a book right now about coal miners in the Appalachians who were treated horribly..  Many moved on and survived; many didn’t.

I understand forgiveness, because I have had to ask for it and I have given it; both are tough. Forgiveness doesn’t mean you forget, as my children example shows, but forgiveness means you get peace.  The negative energy it takes to not forgive, becomes positive energy, you get to move forward.

My Dad is in assisted living and I stopped up an visited with him the other night for an hour or so.  When I left, I said, “Dad, I’m going to be gone for a couple of weeks, but will see you when I get back.  He said, “Ok, well I will miss you.”  “I love you Dad.”  “I love you too Wanny.”  Our family knows forgiveness.  I know forgiveness.  I wish it for you, with all of my heart.


You Would Know Four Things About Mom..

I taught a Freshman Seminar class at a community college a few years back.  One of the ways I had the students introduce themselves, was to tear toilet paper off of a roll, that I passed around the class.  They were to tear off the amount of paper they used, when they went to the bathroom.  They then had to share as many things about themselves, as there were squares of the tissue.  There would be embarrassed laughs and inevitably someone, thinking they were cute would tear off just one, while someone else would tear off 10.  It was a way to break the ice and it worked.  If my mother was in the class, she would have told us four things.

September 10th, 2017 was the third anniversary of Mom’s death.  I always say “my mom”, as if she had only me,  but there were four of us kids.  She had three daughters in a row, while making it perfectly clear, that her goal was a son, as my dad desperately wanted a son to farm with.  We were a conservative farm family, on the brink of poor, raised to love country and the Catholic Church.  Mom wasn’t raised Catholic, but joined when she married Dad.  That is the first thing you should know about her she loved the Catholic Church.

You would think after three years the unexpected jars on my heart would stop.  Days will go by and boom…. some unexpected trigger sends a feeling of loss over me, and I cry.  I cry because I miss what we could have been, friends.  Mom and I shared little until her death, we talked, but nothing from our souls.  We became closest the months before her death because the second thing you should know about her is she was very private.

Mom overcame much in her life by putting things in little compartments, only taking them out when she needed to and could handle them.  Some things never came out, but ate at her anyway.  If Mom ever loved you, she never stopped.  The third thing you should know is she was loyal to everyone she loved, except herself.

Mom’s last days were spent on Hospice.  They gave us books that told us the signs of her impending death and “helpful” hints; darkening of skin, talking to people that weren’t there and that we should make sure and tell her it was ok to go.  All of us did our best, to help her, support her, tell her we loved her, sing to her and recite the rosary.  Even those of us who had abandoned the Catholic Church, or felt like it had abandoned us, could still say the Rosary… She clung on to life, like I can’t imagine.  Everyone had told her it was ok, to go and be with Grandma and Aunty Anne, be she didn’t seem to hear.

I thought about it one night, her last night,  and realized something.  I went in and put my head by hers, told her how much I loved her, and that I would try my best to do what I could, what was expected of me for the family and then I told her, “Mom, you leave when you’re damn good and ready, and not a minute before.  We will be here as long as you need us to be.”    The fourth thing you should know is that Mom was stubborn.

It’s easy to get caught up in what we missed.. She loved me and trusted me, putting her faith in me, when it was her darkest time.  Maybe it doesn’t matter that we weren’t baring our souls, in an earlier time, maybe it just had to be, when she was damn good and ready.  Rest in Peace Mom.