Archive for the Deep Thoughts Category

Remembering Robin

Posted in Deep Thoughts on May 5, 2015 by czriley

Today I was reminded of the amazing human being who was Robin Williams. A Facebook friend posted a video of him that I hadn’t seen before. He was pretending to be the American flag. If you had asked me if anyone could be funny for over five minutes pretending to be a flag I would have said no. But Robin was.
I’m not a huge fangirl or celebrity worshipper. I don’t read People, I don’t watch Entertainment Tonight or check out the TMZ website. And when celebrities whose work I’ve enjoyed pass away, I’m sad about it, but only briefly. I might even watch a few of their movies that I particularly enjoyed, but it’s not a huge deal. Until Robin. Somehow, he’s different. I feel almost like I grew up with him. I was in high school when Mork and Mindy aired, and it was definitely a must see! I looked forward to that half hour every week (well, until the 3rd season at least). And his career took off from there – the stand-up, the movies – it was all wonderful. He has made me laugh harder than anyone else has ever. But he didn’t just make us laugh – he made us think, too. He always ended his stand-up shows with a little serious note. Serious but touching. Which made him perfect for roles like Mrs. Doubtfire. Just watching him, like when he was on Actor’s Studio, run through a whole world of characters in under five minutes, all inspired by a shawl he borrowed from the audience – it was breath taking.
But apparently underneath all that he was battling demons. And in the end, it was too much for him. He gave us all so much happiness, so much laughter. I wish he had saved some for himself, or that we could have given him some back when the darkness descended.
Thank you, Robin, for all the laughter, and all the deep thoughts. Thank you for sharing yourself with us all. The world is a lot less funny without you in it, but I hope now you’re at peace.

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Turning 50

Posted in Deep Thoughts with tags on June 21, 2012 by czriley

So a little while back I mentioned that I was going to be turning 50 soon, and that it would probably merit a blog post. Well, here it is. This is my last night on the planet as a 40 something. As of 4am tomorrow I will officially be 50. Oh dear.
I’ve been through several layers of emotion about this. Sometimes, it seems like no big deal. As a friend told me “You’re just another day older” True enough. And sometimes I can go with that – feel like it’s really no big deal. It’s just a number. It doesn’t mean I have to start sitting in a rocking chair and knitting. Well, ok, I do knit, but no rocking chair! And it certainly doesn’t feel as old as it sounds. I still love video games, for heavens sake! And Alice Cooper! So I can’t be old, right? What’s a few grey hairs?
But as the moment draws closer, I’m starting to feel a little more freaked out by it. It feels so momentous – like the earth will shake, there will be a green flash in the sky, the voice of God will echo across the land “And so it was that she turned FIFTY”. Ok, perhaps I’m being a bit overly dramatic (you think?) What will really happen is that I’ll be sound asleep and not even notice. And when I wake up in the morning I’ll feel no different than I did this morning.
There are so many ways that I can look at this and freak myself out about it. Middle aged. Probably more than half-way through my life at this point. It’s all downhill from here. On and on. And Lord knows I’m good at freaking out and worrying about nothing. What I have to do is take a deep breath and remain calm. Think about how far I’ve come, and how wonderful the place I”m at right now is. And how young I feel on the inside, in my head and my heart. Sure, there’s room for serious reflection. There are things I’d like to change, improvements to make. Aren’t there always? That sort of introspection is fine, as long as I don’t get too carried away with it. I need to learn to see the good parts, too. And there are good parts – a lot of them!
So tomorrow will come. I will wake up, a new 50 year old. And I will tackle my day, and endure the teasing of family and friends. And laugh right along with them. The first 50 years have been pretty damn good. Let’s make the next 50 even better!

In the Night

Posted in Deep Thoughts with tags on November 28, 2011 by czriley

It’s late at night. The kids are finally all in bed. Even my husband has gone to bed. So it’s just me and the animals (4 cats, 1 dog) I’ve been sipping a lovely cup of hot chocolate with a generous splash of Bailey’s (yum!) and listening to some amazing piano music (http://soundcloud.com/grantwilsonpiano) Peace settles over me, over the house. It’s so wonderful, this all too brief moment when I can just sit and be. No demands, nothing I have to do right this minute. Bed awaits, and I will go there soon, but for now I just want to take some time to revel in this quiet. The day’s stress falls away – mere background noise. It will all be there, waiting for me when I wake up. But for now, I can ignore it. It brings tears to my eyes, this sense of peace, of relief from the usual day to day hassles. Everything falls into place, somehow, and the world feels right. And I can remember, not the petty annoyances each child has caused me today, but how wonderful they all are. How much I really love them. Of course I always love them, but in the middle of an argument it can be hard to remember. Right now, in the peace, it’s easy.
This feeling reminds me of a line from one of my favorite Dorothy L. Sayers novels. It goes something like “Here in the still center of the world” That is where I am tonight – the still center of my world. And it is a beautiful place. One I need to visit a lot more often. May you find your own still center.

“Inspirational” Videos

Posted in Deep Thoughts, Parenting, Rants on November 27, 2011 by czriley

If you are on Facebook, I’m sure at some point you’ve had a friend post a link to a video. Usually silly, sometimes they post videos that are supposed to be inspirational or moving. I don’t always find the video as funny or inspirational as the person who posted it, but the worst that happens is that I waste a few minutes and go on with my life. Not this time.
A friend posted a video with the title “How One Family’s Horrific Tragedy turned into an Unbelievable Miracle – a Must See” Sounds very inspirational, right? How wrong I was. The horrific tragedy? Mom driving 3 small children in mini-van when they get in an accident. With a huge truck. The picture was chilling – the back part of the mini-van was barely recognizable. And I’m thinking that the miracle must have been that the kids survived somehow, right? Please? Wrong. They slowly go through the sequence of events, as this family loses all 3 of their young children. And I’m sitting there, stunned and crying. I have 3 kids and I drive a mini-van – I can only too easily imagine myself in their shoes. My heart is breaking for these people I will never know. Where the heck is the miracle in all of this?  You are then subjected to what seemed like HOURS of photos of the adorable children, while really sad music plays in the background.  I wanted to yell at the screen “Okay already, we get it!  They were adorable!  They’re all dead now.  WHERE IS THE MIRACLE??”  Finally, in the last minute or so of the video, we get the miracle.  The parents had triplets 2 years after losing their other children.  And the triplets are the same genders as the children they lost.

Of course I’m happy that this family has more children to love.  And, yes, I believe it’s outside the realm of coincidence that they had triplets who are the same genders as the children they lost.  But did I find this video inspirational?  Hell no!!!  Well over 5 minutes of horror and heartbreak, 2 minutes or less of miracle.

What’s my point here?  I’m not sure I know, exactly.  I guess it’s a cautionary tale – be careful what videos you watch, hug your children and tell them you love them because life has no guarantees.  But I’m still left wondering – where is the miracle in all this?  Because in the end, these parents went through horror and heartache beyond imagining.  And nothing can make up for that.

The Perfect Parent

Posted in Deep Thoughts, Parenting with tags on April 28, 2011 by czriley

Do you believe in the myth of The Perfect Parent?  I used to. I spent many years, blaming my parents for all the things they did or didn’t do. The mistakes, the unkind words, the ridiculous rules. I could cite every instance where they hadn’t done the right thing, the thing that I most needed them to do. Poor me – what awful parents they were! They didn’t understand me, they didn’t give me the love and compassion I needed, they just didn’t do anything right. Ever.
So there I was, stuck.  Angry with them for all the things they weren’t, and all the things they were. Why were they so awful? How could they have done this to me? Then there came a day where my therapist (yes, I was in therapy, though not just because of my awful parents) suggested that, just maybe, my parents had done the best they could. And that, really, what more could I ask of them? Treason! Heresy! They should have…. But, wait. I started to think about that. What a radical idea – my parents did their best. But what about the time…. Yes, even then. And gradually, it dawned on me. My parents? They’re HUMAN! And like any human, they are NOT perfect! So, no, of course they weren’t the perfect parents. And they had a lot working against them. A couple of young, rebellious kids from a tiny town in the Midwest. They got married as soon as Mom graduated from high school, then became parents 2 days short of exactly 9 months after their wedding. Mom was just 19, Dad was 20. What kind of parent would I have been at that age? (I shudder to think) They struggled for years with little income as Dad went to college, added another child a few years later. We lived in married student housing with mice and cockroaches, and those years are some of the happiest memories I have. But I digress. The point is – they had things hard. And they were so young. They barely had time to get used to being married and adults, and then they had to be parents as well. And I’m certain I was not exactly an easy child to raise. So, yes, they made mistakes. They did not give me everything I needed emotionally. They were never perfect – and they still aren’t. But they did the best they could. And I came to realize that their best was enough.
Now I am a parent, too, and this whole thing comes into clearer perspective. God only knows I wish I could be the perfect parent. Never yell and lose my temper, never say or do the wrong thing, always be exactly what each of my three children needs me to be. Yet, no matter how hard I try, no matter how much I love them, I can never be perfect. All I can do, just like my own parents, is my best. Some days that might not be saying much. But what more is there?

My parents love me.  And they did their best.  And now I understand just how much that means.

Changes

Posted in Deep Thoughts on August 30, 2010 by czriley

Lately I’ve been whinging on Facebook and Twitter over the closing of my favorite grocery store. Every time I go there, it just makes me sad, though it wasn’t officially closing until recently. But their shelves have been pretty bare for months now, and I’ve been worried about them. And now, my fears have been realized – they are closing. I shopped there today, probably for the last time. I had to fight back tears most of the time I was in the store. Thank heavens they’ve switched the in-store music to something much more upbeat and modern – one good sad song would have had me sobbing! I even took a picture of the front of the store when I left – something I did with the last favorite grocery store that closed.
Now you may be thinking that all of this anguish over a simple grocery store is a bit much. I was thinking that myself as I drove home, still feeling sad and teary eyed. Am I crazy? Am I wasting time and mental energy freaking out over this? Why should it matter so much – it’s just a damn grocery store!

But on the way home, I figured it out.  It’s NOT just a grocery store – it’s change.  And change and I have never been friends.  Ever.  Any kind of change, I resist it.  New clothes, new shampoo, different grocery store – it’s all the same.  And I have always been like this, as long as I can remember.  When I like something, anything, I want to keep it forever.  And losing my favorite grocery store is hitting me especially hard because there have been a lot of even bigger changes in my life lately.  Over the last year there have been a number of life-altering, distressing changes.  Last August, I lost my maternal grandmother.  She was the grandmother I was closest to, so it was very hard to lose her.  When I was back east for her funeral, I visited my paternal grandparents.  As I’ve written here before, that grandmother had Alzheimer’s, so seeing her, and seeing that she had no idea who I was, was like losing her, too.  Five months later, we lost her for good, and I was back east for another funeral.  Then this month, my best friend since high school lost her mother.  I loved her mother – both her parents, really.  They have always been so kind, warm and welcoming.  True, I hadn’t seen them for a long time, but knowing that I can never see her again makes me miss her.  And watching my friend go through the pain of losing her mother, that was hard, too.

Then there are other, not so traumatic, changes.  The new school year is about to start and my oldest son, now a tall 15 year old who towers over me, is starting high school.  High School??  When did that happen?  And my daughter will be in 7th grade – yikes.  Even the “baby”, now 11, will be in 5th grade.  It makes me feel old!

I’m sure there have been other changes I’m not thinking of right now, but you get the idea.  So I think the grocery store closing is just the last straw – the grain of sand that tips the scales and so seems more important than it really is.  I don’t like change, but life is change.  We move forward, and some things and people fall behind us, are lost to us in the here and now.  But we can keep the memories with us as we move forward.

So I will allow myself to feel sad about my grocery store.  Then I will find another store and get used to it and come to like it just as much.  And I will miss my grandmothers and my friend’s mother, and keep their memories alive in my heart.  And I will watch my children grow up and learn to stand on their own, and remember when they couldn’t stand at all.  And I will remember that it’s all life, and it’s all good.  I will never be a friend to change, but maybe I can learn to not mind it so much.

A Private Affair

Posted in Deep Thoughts, Rants with tags on December 23, 2009 by czriley

Earlier this month I heard on Twitter of a mom who had lost her son. I don’t know the mom, don’t even follow her, just heard about her through someone I do follow. I also don’t know the details of what happened. From what I read the day it happened her toddler somehow fell into a swimming pool and died. She’d posted links to pictures of him on Twitter. He was an adorable little guy, who looked very much like my 14yo at that age. My heart went out to her, as I imagine any mother’s heart would. It is a thing we all fear – the sudden and unexpected loss of a child. Who could find anything but sympathy to give this poor mother?
But even that first day, in one of the comments beneath a photo of her boy, people started to step over the line. One comment just “had to ask” how the child had fallen in the pool at all? The accusation was there between the lines “how could you let this happen?”. I cringed when I read it.

More than a week later, and I was reminded of this mom and her loss. So I went to her Twitter account to see how she was doing. And found that her Tweets are protected now, you need to be approved to see them. Hmm, I wondered what was up? She has a link to her blog on her Twitter page, so I clicked on that. And discovered some of what is up. Apparently she and her entire family are being harassed by the press and public over this. Press barging in at all hours, up a private drive, demanding interviews. And it sounds like the accusatory comment I read was only the first in a long tine of accusations.
How can people do this to someone? What makes the press think they have the right to harrass a family who has suffered such a devastating loss? What makes we the public think we have the right to know every little detail, see the close up pictures of the grief stricken parents, criticise them for what they did or did not do? I do not know how this accident happened, and I do not need to know. None of us need to know. What we do know is that a little boy, who was happy and loved, died all too soon. And his parents are suffering a grief that we can’t understand, unless we have suffered the same loss ourselves. We need to step back, and give them room to grieve in private.
My heart goes out to them. I wish I could let them know. But I suspect even the kind thoughts of a stranger would be an intrusion right now. So I will send them kind thoughts, and leave them alone.  It’s the best I can do.