Risk Averse

I was just looking at a post on Facebook by Humans of New York. It was a picture of a nice looking guy who was dressed well and the caption said, “I wish I’d made more mistakes.”

It struck me that while I’ve made mistakes. Plenty of them. I don’t think I’ve really risked anything that really mattered. I’ve not put everything on the line for the big payoff.

I tend to play small when it comes to things that it might really matter. Because they matter. And I think that having them a little might hurt less than not having them at all.

This is flawed logic. But I think it’s the logic my heart/brain has been using.

I’m working very hard to change that.

These in Between Times

When I was young, I had no money. I made little money and didn’t get to go do things that cost money very often. But I also had no debt.  I didn’t have a lot of income, but it was okay because I had very little out-go. The same cannot be said now. My husband made a very good living for us by virtue of having served his country in the Marine Corps and having been disabled while in service. He received money from the VA and also from Social Security. As his dependent spouse and son, we now receive a benefit from Social Security which is about a third of what our income was prior to his death. As his dependent spouse and son, we now receive from the VA, absolutely nothing.

Our income has dropped by about 2/3 and our bills and debt have stayed the same. Additionally, the VA decided that they overpaid us one month at his rate while he was alive and they took it back on the first of March. I am selling everything that I can to make ends meet. In a couple or few months, I should be getting a little money from my mom’s probate having finally processed. We will eventually be okay. If we can pay off our debts and reduce our cost of living to essentials.

But in the meantime we are overdrawn and haven’t paid much more than the mortgage payment in two months.  We’ve sold a lot of things, but that has kept us in food, gas, and daily living expenses rather than being enough to pay  the bills and start to fill in this hole that keeps getting deeper and deeper.  My friend wanted to help me by giving me some money. She asked if I had a support account so that people could donate to help with this harsh transition. I said that I did not and didn’t even know how to do that. She encouraged me to talk to the bank as they should be able to help with that.

I did and after some struggle (they didn’t want to do it because I was overdrawn) I was able to open a donation account to allow anyone to walk into any Wells Fargo and deposit money in the Alan (Hewitt) Memorial Fund account. (account #9006351614)

I went to put a notice in the local newsletter/paper thingy, but could not because a service organization didn’t sponsor me. I am not a member of any service organizations, churches, clubs or anything like that. So, I did it myself and I feel extremely awkward asking an organization to sponsor me after the fact. Like many people, I am not very good at asking for help or asserting myself, so all of this is is extremely difficult to make myself do.

But, I am smart enough to know when I need to step out from behind my pride and fear to ask for help. I can’t do this on my own. Any little bit will help. And if you can’t help monetarily, please share this so maybe someone else can.

Thank you

a new year is here

I long for the days that were before

Though I know that they can be no more

standing on the cusp of a lifetime of new tomorrows

bled through and steeped with the blue of soul wrenching sorrow

I look to the future weary and heartsore

shivering from the cold of winter’s dark floor

I cannot yet rejoice in the coming of the new year

as those that preceded it were bathed in salted tears

these winter holidays with their festivals of light and cheer

remind us that the all-encompassing darkness will not always be here

with the passing of time and the turnings of the days

there will be incrementally larger slivers of the suns rays

I don’t need to rejoice with a leap and a bang

just light a small candle to light the way again

we know the wheel turns and turns

and the long cold winter nights will give way to summers burns

the light will return and the dark will recede

bringing the respite and clarity we need

My Dear Beloved

My Dear Beloved Family Member,

You are here out of love for me to help me in my time of need to get my life and house in order and for that I am more grateful than paltry words can even express. In the short time that you have been here this week you have helped me immeasurably. I am incredibly grateful. I love you.

I am also trying very hard to take in the lessons that you are here to teach me. People say that people come into your life to be a blessing or a lesson. I think that this may be true, but the truth is that the two are not mutually exclusive and some, most even, are both. You, my darling, are definitely both. The funny thing is that the lessons that I am taking from our time together are not the ones that you thought you came here to teach.

You preach with evangelical zeal about your beliefs and opinions with such ferocity that you seem to be deaf to the beliefs and opinions of those that you are trying to convert. I feel that you wield your convictions with great passion and authority to bring as many people as possible to the light of your ideals. I love your passion and faith. But I need for you to take the lesson from me that, after a few times, the passion that you’re are wielding with such enthusiasm stops feeling like an offering of a gift and begins to feel like a club.

In my opinion, after you have given me your truth 2 or 3 times, I have either accepted it or not. Your continued efforts to “improve” me indicate to me a couple of things. First, you might think that I’m not smart enough to pick up what you’re laying down. I don’t believe that you think that I am stupid, but I want you to know that that is the message that I am recieving from you sometimes when you tell me AGAIN what you think I should be doing differently or better.

Second, my opinions and beliefs on that subject are invalid in a way that yours are not. You are very righteous in your convictions. You have found your path and it is a glorious one. I can see why you wish to share it.  But it is not my path. I  am forging my own path to my own truth. AND IT IS JUST AS VALID AS YOURS. As much as you believe in the validity of your path, I believe in the validity of your path. I expect the same in return or it makes it very hard to have any true exchange of ideas and thought. When I hear you proclaim that something “is the TRUTH and is REAL” I know that it is. For you. But it may not be for everyone else and I need you to allow for the possibility that yours is not the only way.

Third, when you continuously bring up the same “issues” that you feel I need to change, you are letting me know that that is the only thing about me of value or worthiness to you. When you dismiss my other activities as a nice hobby or something not really worth doing, you are rejecting the parts of me that you deem aren’t of import. This is very hurtful and does not convert me to your cause. In fact, it has the opposite effect. I will tell you, and this is the TRUTH and this is REAL, that in the heat of our argument last night, I very nearly asked you to leave my house. Because, regardless of the condition it is in, I will be treated with respect and dignity in my own home. That is a condition that I place upon your being here. The reason that I didn’t is because I know that the place you are coming from is one of love and good intentions. I want you to take the lesson that your message is being lost by the method of delivery.

You were correct in some parts of your rejection of my evaluation of my own shortcomings and ways of dealing with them. I am not “unique.” So take this information to heart, because I can guarantee that I am not the only one who is feeling this from you. Many people that I know, in and out of our family, are reluctant to instigate a confrontation, especially with someone who doesn’t seem able to really engage in an equal exchange.

If you offer me the gift of your wisdom from your experience, I cherish it. I will take it in my heart as a treasured keepsake from a loved one and use it if it fits or works for me. I hear you and I am receptive.

If you again offer it, I am appreciative, a little less receptive, but I still hear you.

The third time, I will begin to resist your offering and will not be receptive. The loudness of your actions begins to drown out my ability to hear your words.

If you continue to push your offering on me, then I know that the offering is not about me, but primarily about you getting your way. You are a very intense person and many people, as I have in the past, step back and allow you to sail on by on the wind of your breath. But, in my home, with regard to my self and my child, it is my sacred task to defend our hearts from attacks of any kind, no matter how well intentioned. So, save your breath and get down and row with me.

I have opened my home and my heart to you to reveal my greatest failings and some of my most shameful secrets. In every way possible I am at the most vulnerable place that I have ever been in my life. I am trusting you to take care of me and treat my heart and mind as gently as you can.

I do not feel accepted by you as I am. I feel judged and found lacking. This negativity is not conducive to growth. In fact, my reaction to it is to close off, shut down, and resist you with all of the same stubbornness and zeal that you push with. We are from the same bloodstock after all. I am sharing with you not from a place of anger, but from a place of love. Because I do love you and, especially right now, I need you. But, I am not willing to pay the toll that you seem to want to exact from me in payment for the help.

I will, if pushed enough, refuse your help, even as badly as I need it. I hope you can accept this offering of my truth from the place it is intended, which is a place of love and peace and connection.

As I accept the lessons that I am learning from you about how to defend my convictions, assert myself, and maintain my boundaries, while still advocating with love.
Thank you for the lessons.




In other words:

You gotta get past all the shit to get to Paradise.

also, try not to fall down to your doom.

and hilarity ensues. or terror, it’s sometimes hard to tell.

My aunt and uncle were at LAX when there was a shooting. So they were delayed a couple/few hours. Then when they were finally loaded on the plane, a baggage cart crashed into the plane next to them’s engine and they were delayed again waiting for the emergency vehicles and clean up. They weren’t sure that they were going to get to SeaTac in time to rent a car. So they called ahead. The lady said that they were open 24 hrs, so no problem. They finally got there at 12:07 and the lady says, “sorry, we close at midnight.”

So they get a car.

They go all the way out to it and it doesn’t work. So they have to go back and exchange it. The guy is then like “ok, well, go bring me the keys back” (at this point, people were starting to lose their cool)

So J is like, “give me a new car.”

“All we have is SUV’s”

“I don’t care. Just give me something with four tires and a steering wheel that runs.”

“Well, they cost more.”

“No, Give me a car and I’m paying the $17 a day that I signed up for online. and you are giving me a car!”

So they finally got here at like 3 in the morning. My cousin was flying in to SeaTac and supposed to meet them and drive down with them. But he was there and they weren’t, so my other aunt went back and got him. He was there a few hrs I think. He got here at about 11:00.

Saturday we had a shuttle bus chartered to take us up to where we were going to spread Wally’s ashes. That went fairly well, except for the brakes or a belt or the heater or something starting to melt or something filling the bus with toxic fumes.  That got squared away and the only other thing was that it was snowing up there and sideways wind. So we couldn’t really walk around and see much without freezing to death…and we got pretty worried when K turned up missing. She went a little way up the trail up the mountain, but didn’t tell anyone she’d gone. Then Davy went to find her and disappeared. Though we collected him shortly. Eventually all were collected and we returned to the cabin unharmed.

The rest of the weekend has been uneventful. With the exception of a strange flickering and surging of the lights and power. We attributed it to too many things plugged in, but when the oven keeps turning off and you are trying to make pizzas (and have already gotten to the point where they need to be cooked.) and it takes HOURS to do it. The maintenance guy decided that it was a transformer out on the road and called the power company after the power surged and two DVD players popped, fried and started smoking. Eventually we were able to finish cooking by putting the pizza trays on the top of the wood-stove. We were using candles, flashlights, and cellphone screens for light. augmented by the occasional epileptic siezure inspiring strobe light effect. Eventually we turned off most or all of that. It was okay until one of the outlets, during one of the surges, popped and caught fire by itself while there was nothing plugged into it. then we were nervous and turned EVERYthing off at the circuit breaker so we might be able to sleep. (we considered taking turns keeping watch). But at 10:00 or so the power company arrived and I think they got it fixed last night. I wake up really early right now, so I’m not the one who’s going to start flashing circuit breakers and stuff on to see who I can terrorize in the wee early hours with sudden daylight in their eyes.

Don’t forget, it’s daylight savings or the end of it.

Other than all that, the weekend has been great. No one has been arrested or even pulled over, so I think we’re counting the weekend (so far) as a win. or something. And completely typical of our gatherings.

Friendly Reminder

This is just a friendly reminder to tell you to make sure that your loved ones know how you feel about them. Because, you know, you never know.

Next weekend C and I were going to go visit my uncle. I wanted to say goodbye before he passed on. He’s been fighting cancer for the last few years. Just recently the doctors decided that they had poked and prodded and pestered him as much as they could and arranged for hospice care so he could be more comfortable in his final days. It turns out yesterday was his final day.

Short cuts and Cheat Codes

I have trouble shopping online. I get overwhelmed with all the options and choices and just freeze. I really need to buy something from ebay so I’ve enlisted my friend to buy it for me. It’s okay to go around hurdles. You don’t always have to jump over them.

My husband’s throat doesn’t work right anymore (too many neck surgeries), so he has difficulty swallowing. This limits the types of foods that he is able to eat. In June he was in the hospital for a couple of things. One of which was extreme weight loss. In order to facilitate his weight gain back to a healthy weight they installed a feeding tube in his stomach. But he’s still supposed to try to eat to keep his throat working and to maybe get off the feeding tube one day.

This is where my difficulty comes in.

All three of us are very picky to start with. I’ve never been that great of a cook. But I did manage to muddle along for years. But last year I discovered that I have a sensitivity to dairy and to soy.  The combination of three picky eaters, two of whom have special food needs is just over my head.  I just can’t spin that many plates at once.

So I’ve now asked my friends to occasionally put aside a tiny portion of soft meals that they make so Spouse A can try to eat it. Hopefully that will help. I still have to work on the rest of us, but it’s a start.


I Have Reservations at the Detour Cafe

So, once a month I trek 3 hours up to Portland to go to a psychiatrist for my ADD/anxiety stuff. (I have anxiety about using the Behavior Health Services here in the local hospital system.) I also drive my husband up there for some/many of his VA medical appointments. For the most part we don’t venture for off the direct route and freeway to get there.

On Tuesday, I decided to take advantage of being in the city to go to Whole Foods. I live about an hour from one and hate to make a special trip to get my special (non-dairy, non-soy) foods.

My phone gave me directions on how to go to get there. It seemed very simple. And probably was, but I missed a turn I was supposed to make and then had to redirect my route. Unfortunately it was full of roads that didn’t go through. I went quite a ways out of my way to get to a road that appeared to go through to a main road that would take me back to the road that I needed.

It turned out to be closed for road construction. (In fact, that entire trip was bedecked with those Orange Cone Blossoms that are blooming everywhere this time of year.) So, I followed the detour around and about and turned hither and yon. Even the roads that weren’t closed for construction had worksites that were intruding out in to the streets. In the midst of all this detour and delay for construction and improvement, around about the time that a drive past the DETOUR CAFE (Yes, this is an actual restaurant. I probably should have stopped for lunch there. Because, obviously! Alas, I did not.), it occurs that this is some kind of metaphor and I’m probably supposed to be learning something from this.


It may seem like the route is blocked and the journey is taking too long, but really you are allowing space and time for repair and improvement. Don’t worry. Slow down. The stores are still going to be there when you arrive. Have fun. Enjoy the unusual sights. Stop at the cafe and have lunch.



Thanks for the lesson, Universe. I hear ya.

Rural Life Lesson #246:Gates

There’s an old joke (It’s possible it’s a riddle or a something else.). It goes something like this:

Three guys are riding along in a pickup truck. How do you know who is the wisest ranch hand?

The one in the middle. Because he doesn’t have to drive and he doesn’t have to jump in and out to open the gates.

I don’t actually live on a ranch, but I have spent enough time around horse farms and barns to be able to say, with great certainty, that good fences make good horses. We have had a failure of a couple of our fences here at our place and so our horses currently have the run of the place including right up to the gate to exit the property. Aside from the fact that they get into all kinds of things that they shouldn’t (that used to be safely on the other side of a fence and THANK GOD THEY DON’T HAVE HANDS), they can sometimes make it hard to leave or enter without risking an escape attempt. They aren’t especially trying to leave. It’s just that the grass is greener where you haven’t eaten it yet and, sometimes, given an opportunity in the form of an open gate, they will walk through it looking for greener pastures, or whatever beckons on the other side.

One of my chief symptoms of my ADD is that I am particularly challenged by transitions. I am strongly bound by Newton’s Laws of Inertia. What I mean is that first, it’s hard for me to get started on a task or project. (an object at rest, no?)

Then, once I get going it’s often hard for me to stop or leave off. (an object in motion, see?)

It’s also really hard for me to smoothly switch directions or roles quickly. I require an adjustment period to get my mind’s compass reoriented. (This is still in the category of ‘an object in motion’, but has more to do with the part about being ‘acted upon by another force’, I think. You can imagine my brain as a large truck. Slow to start off, takes a longer distance to stop, and needs a large turning radius.)

The things I’ve learned with the horses and their gates and with my own gateways and transitions are these:

1. Recognise that they are a barrier that you are going to have to deal with. Understanding that it is an issue for you goes a long way toward mitigating the effects of the problem. In school, I learned that I needed to arrive at my classes at least 15 minutes early in order to have time to get mentally prepared to think about the class and the topic at hand. If I did not have that time, the first few minutes of class were not very useful because my mind will take the time it needs regardless. It’s just better to give it the time beforehand. With regard to the gates here on the property, remembering to leave a couple (or a few) minutes early so that we can negotiate our exit strategically is a sound plan and one that keeps us from freaking out from having to hurry and having things go wrong (as they inevitably will) doesn’t ruin our plans nearly as often.

2. Be prepared for trickery. Often we are able to just drive down to the gate, open it, and leave with very little hassle. Sometimes, the horses are less helpful and we need to do something to get them to back off from the gate. Usually this is just a little bit of hay or grain offered a fair distance away from the gate so that they are busy for a few minutes while we make our getaway.  Do what you need to do to make things easier for yourself. Set timers a few minutes before you need to end a task so it doesn’t come as as much of a shock. Make sure other people know that they should  give you a heads up and or a count down a few minutes early. My son knows that if he comes up and interrupts me to get me to do something, he will be met with resistance. But if he says, can we do such-and-such at x time? he will get a much better response. (Unfortunately we’ve had to figure this out through trial and error. Learn from me, people!)

3. Try not to do it by yourself. It’s infinitely harder to get through the gate smoothly by yourself. It’s a lot of moving parts and variables to works by yourself. It can lead to a lot more frustration and running around. The best case scenario is to have systems in place that eliminate much of the stress of the transition. Ideally, with physical gates, you have two gates with enough room to park between them so that you can pull in, shut the gate behind you, then open the gate in front of you to allow your egress without much bother. More ideally, you have people working those gates for you so you don’t have to clamber in and out and around to complete all of the steps.

Less ideally, you only have one gate, but you have a person or two to open and close it for you so that it’s smoother, easier, and there’s less chance of things going awry. The truth is that sometimes things are just going to fall into the worst case scenario and all the systems in the world can’t help that. Then you need a plan. What to do if the horses aren’t occupied elsewhere. Which way to open the gate for best outcome. (Up (for us, here), if you’re interested.) How to have timed your arrivals and/or departures to have help around.

For your mental maneuverings, the same applies. Try very hard to have systems with timers and calendars in place. Make sure people know to allow to time to get through the gate, to remind you of upcoming stops or starts.

In the worst case scenario, remember that with a little patience, and maybe a little trickery, you will, no doubt, get through to the other side.

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