Saturday, June 25, 2011

Five Things You Would Like Back


       Would you have an answer for me if I ask you to name five things that you have lost or given away that you can never get back?  I really want some feedback on this one; I hope if you read this, you will give me some. 
      I don’t have a lot of regrets or “wish I would haves”, I really don’t. I have always lived on the edge pretty much, trying to have everyone in the family have every experience that I thought was worth a sacrifice all along the way.  Since I was a girl, I lived with the knowledge that life can end on an ordinary day when you least expect it. I learned that October 16, 1967, on a typical school day.  I decided that day in the back seat, on the passenger side,  of a four door,  navy blue,  Impala, that we should grab the brass ring the first time it comes around in case that’s the only time it comes around in our lifetime.  I was dumbfounded by the news that my father had died about two o’clock earlier that afternoon.
       So my answers would be that: one material thing I gave away was all my trophies and ribbons I won in horse shows and rodeos for barrel racing, pole bending and trail class.  I tried some other events but they had pretty laughable endings. The weird thing is I just threw the trophies in the trash, a year ago when I cleaned out Moms house that had all my junk in it from when I moved here.  At the point of cleaning out her house, I was so overwhelmed with “STUFF” that I was just sick of cleaning. There was thirty years’ worth of a whole families “things” crammed in that house! I saved one trophy and two belt buckles and threw out the rest. My thinking was, I have no space for things I don’t need. I told myself, “I don’t need these or even have a place to display them, that was then and this is now…can’t take em’ with you Pam so pitch it”! I don’t wish I had kept them either - just taken a photo of them before the final pitch!
      Something I’m happy I gave away that I can’t get back is -  the time I spent cooking, cleaning, washing clothes, being a room mother….being “just a stay at home wife and mother”. I knew I didn’t have the constitution with my anxiety and sleep problems, to be able to hold down and full time job and do a good job taking care of kids, and a house and not be a “basket case” trying to be good at all of it. Kerry didn’t have the patience or the willingness to help much with the kids either, so for us it was best that he worked away from home and I took care of the house and kids. I’m happy I can’t get it back because I don’t have the energy for all that now, but I enjoyed all the work it was,  and being there for  every little thing and every big thing the kids did.  
        I really don’t know if I have any regrets about passing up the chance to go to college at eighteen or not. I used to say I did,  and maybe still do some,  but I enjoyed college a lot when I was older and I don’t know if I would have when I was eighteen. However, it always bothered me that I only had a high school diploma and I did lose the college experience being married so young - so that’s something I lost for sure. I have my moments of wishing I were more successful at something…I just don’t want it to interfere with my life ha!
           Another thing that I lost that I wish I could get back is my brown and white agate ring.  It was the only real ring I got from my Dad and I let my boyfriend at the time wear it on a chain. He got mad at me on a motorcycle ride, jerked the chain off and threw the ring in the pasture…I hunted and hunted but never found it. I’d like to have that back.
            I also lost some rings back when I was driving back and forth from ND. to AZ.  I had taken Ambien, a sleeping medication I took when I absolutely had to sleep, and it has an amnesia effect.  I left my rings in a hotel in Santa Fe, NM.  And of course no one found them. I still can barely talk about it or forgive myself. It was a ring I got when Kerry and I went to Jamaica that had my Mom’s birthstone in it, and my 25th anniversary ring.   Ah, enough about that, I get panic stricken thinking about it! So that’s my five things I lost or gave away.
         I know a lot of people, myself included, are thinking of all the loss in Minot right now with the massive flooding they are having there.  We would all love to have that back.  It’s hard to keep your mind on anything else, even for us who are far from it, when you love Minot. How can you see those homes and businesses underwater, and not feel loss and sadness for the community, and the good people that live there.
       North Dakota people are some of the hardest working, honest, humble, people in the United States. They are emotionally tough, and conditioned to adverse weather, but this is (pardon my choice of words), over the top, even for them!
         My hope for Minot, is for those of us with homes high and dry, or out of state, is to open our hearts and resources to those who are displaced and watching their homes and businesses fill up with water. This is a loss that we can get back with some unity, some brotherly love and some patience. If anyone can rebuild the magic the Minot people can, especially with some help!


Sunday, June 19, 2011

What Is Your Personal Truth?

Me in 1973
           People ask me how I think of things to write about?  Mostly,  they just seem come to me.  I’m not trying to write about extraordinary events, I want to write about the ordinary, about the everyday. I try to find things others can relate to.  I want to challenge myself to live better, take better care of myself, keep myself out of the depression I have struggled with a lot in my life… and I want to challenge you to be your best self too.  Today, I want to ask you what is your personal truth?
            I watched the opening episode of Finding Sarah, about Sarah Ferguson on Oprah’s new network.  Sarah had a long talk with Dr. Phil. Dr. Phil can take things a little too far at times probably, but I think he has been blessed with one of the greatest gifts of my generation. He knows how to lay it on the line and tell it like he sees it, and leave it there.  Even when I don’t agree with him, I still think he has a great gift and respect him tremendously.  
            He told Sarah, “Everyone has a public persona ( we put on makeup, comb our hair, dress up and put our best foot forward), but on the other hand, we also have personal truth. Our personal truth is what we, "really believe about ourselves when nobody is looking or listening, except us". In the deepest part of us, this personal truth is what we truly believe about ourselves. He followed that with, “we generate in our life what we think we deserve, and if we have a damaged personal truth (which personally, I think we all have some damage somewhere), we generate results that match that”.
          I saved that segment of that show, because I think it’s one of the most important things I’ve probably ever heard. Phil stated, “When we grow up people write on the slate of who we are. Parents, teachers, other children, aunts, uncles for example, define who we think we are.  We have no choice about that, but what’s really tragic, is when they put the pen down, and we pick it up and keep writing and, we write the same thing as they had been writing.  It’s not what really happens in our lives… it’s about what we say to ourselves about what happened in our lives. This is so true for me.

These 2 pics were taken by my Mom

My bracelet in hand...Carnival Queen


            I will give you a personal example of people writing on my slate and me, not only believing it but carrying it around for many, many years.  When I was in high school, I was crowned Carnival Queen when I was a junior in high school. This was our school’s version of Homecoming Queen.  Every girls dream right? I was one of four girls nominated by our classmates to be on the court for carnival queen.  Three of us were junior girls, and the only Sr. girl in her class, and my best friend in Palermo school was the other girl. We always had a huge school carnival, Tickets were sold and a table with decorated coffee cans with everyones name who was on the court to cast your vote for you favorite candidate.  on them.
        I think everyone expected Charli to win. Charli was the sexy girl in our school and popular as well.  Me in comparison, was more the Rosie O' Donnell type (minus the anger ha). I was chubby, but not nearly as chubby as I already believed I was, humorous and friendly .  I tried to be nice to everyone and stuck up for the kids others kicked out. I have never liked mean people even back then.
        When it was announced that I had won and I was crowned queen,  I was so happy, somewhat out of body estatic even...for maybe 60 minutes. As a coronation gift we received an inscribed ID bracelet with Carnival Queen 1971 on the back of it, I was supposed to bring it back to have my name put on it on Monday when I came to school. I remember after winning, I left the school with my boyfriend.  Sitting in my boyfriend’s car in front of the school, I shared with him how happy I was to be deemed popular, because self-esteem was always an issue for me.  Although I always felt like I had friends and people liked me, you always wonder what your real place is.
         By the time I got home from the carnival, my Mom had gotten home from her sister’s house, who had teenagers my age, had been at the carnival, went to the same school,  and I was about to find out how fast being on the top floor of in an elevator can quickly crash to the bottom! Mom's sisters teenagers had come home while Mom was at thier house,  and reported that people were saying, Charli (the Sr. girl) should have won, and that my boyfriend at the time must have “stuffed the ticket box” and that was the only reason I won!

         I was devastated, and devastated isn’t even a big enough word!  I went to bed feeling horrible. The next morning, I opened my eyes to the cold October wind blowing outside. Inside I was as cold as it was outside. I looked at the black bracelet box on my nightstand. I reached out and pulled it under the covers with me where it was warm. Opening it, I starred at it for what felt like an hour before I even touched it. It wasn't pretty like it was last night, it wasn't cherished like it was last night.  I tried it on my wrist one last time. I decided it was all a cruel joke this bracelet thing and unclasp it.  Swiftly I threw back the covers, thundered down the stairs, took it out to the burn barrel in my pajamas and flung it in.

            I cried all weekend off and on, but couldn't even bring myself to tell anyone how I felt but Mom. I had to pretend to be happy I won. I wanted to hide on Monday when school started. Humiliated, I just knew nobody wanted me to win. 

      I wrote and rewrote that incident on my slate of who I was for many, many years. In my mind, I was the fat carnival queen, with the crazy boyfriend, who didn’t deserve to be crowned in the first place.

Our Superintendent, Jr Class Press and me Sr Class President

Paper Editor ( I always loved to write)

             One day not more than ten years ago,  I found my old year books. I started looking through them. Gee, I thought, I was in the books a lot for not being in sports!  Hmmm, here I was a class officer as a junior, here I am the high school paper editor, with a whole team under me…. and finally, the PRESISDENT, yes the president of our class my senior year! There I was sitting at the administration table with the junior class president ready to give our speeches on our banquet night.  Could it be that I wasn’t as unpopular as I'd thought all these years? I had almost totally pulled away from Palermo kids after that experience and hung out with kids from neighboring towns, convinced they didn't like me and not trusting my feelings about who did and who didn't.

        Looking at these annuals now, I kept reasoning with myself, and treating myself like I would anyone else. I ask myself,  how if I was so unpopular, did I get nominated to the court in the first place? So what if my boyfriend had bought tickets, even a lot of tickets, and put them in the can and I won because of it? Couldn’t that happen any year, and probably had (alot of girls who'd won before me had boyfriends at the carnival, did i really think they didn't vote for their girlfriend)? Isn’t that the purpose of selling tickets..... to put in the cans? Besides, I was one of those spoiled kids who could always talk my Mom into having the car in high school! I had the car a lot and went to all the area small towns to hang out with different friends.  By that I mean I was in Stanley, Kenmare, Plaza , little surrounding towns and knew alot of area kids.  I didn’t just stay around Palermo like Charli, whose parents were stricter and made her stay home more. I knew a lot of people who knew me. Charli never held this carnival queen thing against me, and our friendship stayed the same.   

            I’m not kidding when I say it took me a good thirty years to find peace with that whole experience. I'm not saying I dwelled on it for thirty years...but it came to my mind here and there. Why my Mom ever chose to tell me that, I don’t know. Maybe she wanted me to hear it from her rather than in school. Why I chose to believe I was THAT unpopular I don't know, because I always had friends and always had a boyfriend.  It shows my damaged personal truth and low self-esteem.  

        We had bullying in schools back then to, and I know somehow there were no pictures of me as Carnival Queen in the 1972 school annual. In 1973 there was a full page spread with everyone on the court and the winners from that year as every other year, but I was covered up passing on the crown by someone else...coincidence? I think not, like I said we had jealous bullies then too and that exclusion added to my ideas about myself. 
            I know it sounds trivial compared to more major traumas, but I'm sharing it because it shows that its not so much what happens to us but what we say to ourselves about what happens to us. This explains people’s ability to overcome horrific things or crumble over small things doesn’t it?

         Even if people did say the box was stuffed, (and i still think they did say it). I also think some people on the annual staff purposely left out pictures of me in the annuals as well. But that's their problem not mine. None of them on the annual staff those two years ever made king or queen themselves, so if thats what they had to do to tear someone down, so be it. I wish I could say it didn't tear me down or what they did to hurt me didn't work,  but it did. All I can do now is hope to help the next person see where bully problems come from. The bullies themselves have the problems. 
Giving the crown away the next year
Mom took these again of passing the crown.
                In the scope of life, this is trivial, but I think this is common, that we have heard or been told something  about ourselves that we totally believed and take in hook, line and sinker! We swallow the whole thing!  It isn’t necessarily true or even if part of it is true, it’s been blown out of proportion and magnified.

        I looked at all of us graduates today in my year book, looking for some pictures for this blog. None of us in that year or any other, is any better than anyone else. We were all ordinary kids, that lived ordinary lives, did some extraordinary things, and some everyday things. Experienced some high highs, and survived some low lows. None of us are special and then again, all of us are special.
             To change what we are telling ourselves we have to become aware of what we are thinking in the first place, and then ask yourself if this is real or imagined? I don’t think I ever really examined anything I heard about myself - I just believed it. Now, I hear it, examine it, and give myself the same treatment I would give someone else, and try to put myself on the same page with other people in my life.
              I think most of us could use a little work on our personal  truth, but at the same time I don’t want to live my life analyzing every thought or action, because I have fun to have, things to experience and places to enjoy. Join me, lets just check out our pasts in the rear view looks much better with some distance and a whole lot of dust from where your going now!  

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Guilty Pleasures

           Say someone asks you, “What are your ten guilty pleasures”? How much thinking would you have to do to come up with ten, or is ten just the tip of the ice berg? Personally, I have quite a few and enjoy EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THEM!  
My Tea This Morning

      The first one that comes to my mind is tea. I love hot black tea. I start and end my day, every day, with a cup of tea. I’m fussy about my tea too. For starters, I drink mine in a clear, glass, BIG mug! I use only distilled water so it’s nice and clear. No cloudy tea for me.  Here’s the really sinful, guilty part… I really love real, white, not so good for you, sugar in it …and like 2 tbsp! Celestial Seasonings English breakfast tea is my favorite, followed by Lipton’s Orange Spice black tea.

The Drip Pot Like Mom Used To Make Tea

             My love of tea started when Mom used to make tea for supper once in a while, when we were kids in her old aluminum drip coffee pot. She would add loose tea to the basket of the pot and pour boiling water from the bottom of the pot through the basket. Then she would pour the perfectly steeped tea into glass cups with saucers. That was fine dining at our house!  Kathy and I only got a half of a cup as it would “stunt our growth”! The white sugar bowl with the silver trim that was a staple in the center of the table, was readily available to sugar my tea up to my liking.  By the way it did not stunt my growth, but rather, widened my girth if anything!
        My second guilty pleasure is my heated throw. I think I have had about six already, cuz i must have a new one if they stop working! When my legs hurt or back aches or I just want to be cozy…I love my heated throw. I love that throw summer or winter, but obviously more in the winter. When my bones ache I love to turn it on and recline my chair and cook until I’m medium rare…then I kick it all off and complain about how hot I am…till I’m cold again in fifteen minutes and then start the cooking process all over !
         Third, I love my DS scrabble game, I play it almost every night before I fall asleep. The secret is I play the computer, but only on level five because if I play on level six it beats me every time!  I like a close game but getting my pants beat off before I go to bed isn’t relaxing or sleep inducing ha…ticks me off when he uses all his letters and scores an extra fifty points, on a word I’m not even sure is a word!
          Fourth, I love old jewelry, especially old pins. I have collected them for years, before it became fashionable and before they were “vintage”. I love putting on an old pin, and wondering who the little lady was, who wore this to church one Sunday and sang off tune to every hymn,  or maybe she received it for a gift from her children or husband. I imagine her to be happy with how much I love and care for her beautiful baubles, each in their own little plastic compartment. I love all jewelry, but the older the better…well,... other than Brighton’s - that’s my favorite store, and I take all the new stuff from there I can get ha!
Weezy...Lil Wayne

   Fifth is my love of Lil Wayne’s music…its creative, its raw, its filthy some of it, but I just love his voice, his creativity and his life story! He’s a pot smoker, drinks purple codine cough syrup from a styrofoam cup,  talks about women in a trashy way... but  I think the guy is a genius, for real. When he was in prison for gun charges, or maybe it was drug charges, Sydney and I were walking by Hot Topic and they had Free Weezy mug shot shirts, two for the price of one. We both got one but, Syd encouraged me to, "just wear mine around the house"! I was like, "yes I know,  do you think I’ve totally lost my mind"?…but I do wear my free Weezy shirt around the house with my flannel pants. Like Larry the Cable guy says, "Lord I Apologize”!
This one is my Grandma Bruhn ha.
         Sixth, is my collection of Nana’s Family Dolls. They are resin dolls made by Annie Wahl. They were commissioned by Richard Simmons ( not a fan of him but liked the dolls), and are all retired now.  I have given them names after people  I have known in my life. I take great joy in my dolls. I find as I get older the more I love my things!


          Seventh is taking pictures. I love to take pictures, especially if I can get a cooperative subject that isn’t acting spunky and hissing like my lil roommate Sydney Nicole does. If I want to take her picture it has to be short and sweet and she has final say about the delete button on the camera! Oh and I can’t post them either!

          Eighth is a relaxing bath, I long for a nice big tub one day. Where we live now has a nice walk in shower in the master bedroom and a little dinky bathtub in the main bathroom lined with Sydney’s shampoos, conditioners and razors etc. It’s a hazard to try and take a bath in there, between slipping around on the spilled conditioner and all the razors I just shower but I miss my baths. 
            Reality TV is number nine on the guilty pleasure list. I love them all! American Idol, DWTS, Teen Mom, The Real World, the Housewives of whatever city, The Jersey Shore, …you name it I tape it, and fast forward thru parts I don’t like or am not interested in which is pretty much just the commercials!

A great view...and a better feeling
           Number ten is my horse. I love spending time with him. He really is a guilty pleasure because he’s not a Chihuahua to keep and feed ha…I also have a human cat named Bentley, and a Chihuahua named Papi…they all add pleasure and friendship  and love to my life.  My horse has been a real gift to me from me and I wake up in the morning wanting to go hang out with him…and wait to see him every day.


     Crocs, are pushing me over ten! I love Crocs..I don't care who says what about them..I love them! Never again am I putting my feet in anything uncomfortable. I especially love the flats...they are cute (in my opinion) with anything! The bright colors are a huge turn off, but you don't have to go with those. I'll share my favorites!

          My last guilty pleasure is being in Phoenix. I am a gypsy with two homes…I love North Dakota , but I want to live here…here where the weather is warm and sunny, where my kids are, where Marcy and her family are, here where there are endless things to do. I enjoy going to Minot when I do, and that will always be my true hometown, but this is the home I got to choose and I love it here. The guilty part is that Kerry is still in ND and would rather have me there, for the first day or so anyway and then we start locking horns about the simplest things. By the time he joins us here I hope we have lost any animosity and just become one. One can dream, ha!
           That's twelve already, I told you I could think of a bunch! The important thing is, since I’ve turned fifty five, I gave up guilt, and I think you should too. Name your pleasure, name your poison, live your life and love everything in it. It can only add sparkle and happiness!

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Rest In Everlasting Peace Uncle Gilbert

Gilbert Bruhn Family
       I have lost important people in my life along the way, and today was one of those days that you wake up to a phone call that tells you another of those treasured people has passed away.  He was 83 I think.  He lived a long and healthy life.  But it’s never long enough when its someone you can't imagine your life without, we always want one more day, and we are never ready to lose loved ones.
        My Uncle Gilbert, passed away today in Wolf Point Montana. He  lived there as far back as I can remember. He was an auto machanic by profession, but there wasn’t one thing he couldn’t do. He could fix anything; he inherited that trait either by nature or nurture from his father. Besides fixing anything on a car, he might be remodeling a cabin, a kitchen, fixing faulty electricity, or laying under the sink fixing leaky plumbing, I always saw him as one of the smartest men I knew and one of the hardest working as well. He was an avid fisherman and enjoyed his cabin and boat at Fort Peck for many years. It was his home away from home, especially when his wife Mary was playing cards in town with her girl friends. He loved that cabin and Fort Peck.
        When I was twelve and my father died from an accident,  Gilbert came from Montana, walked Mom (his sister) up the isle at the funeral  and sat with his arm around her offering a shoulder to cry on and giving her the familar comfort only a brother could. His wife Mary, sat a few rows back with other family members , and sweetly let Gilbert be the caretaker of his sister.

      A few years later my brother passed away. Again, there was Gilbert, arm around Mom, helping her put one foot in front of the other; this time to make that trek past the front pew to gaze at her son one last time, before the casket lid was closed for eternity. Mary again sat with other relatives further back, happy to share Gilbert.  I always have told people that Mary is my definition of class - not just because of those times, but those times said so much about who she is. I feel so sad for her today, and wish I could give her a hug.
       Mary and Gilbert have been married sixty something years. At their 50th anniversary several years back, they danced the polka, waltz, and two step tirelessly ALL NIGHT LONG!  Most of us younger people slumped over in our chairs - wondered where do they get such stamina? That was a fun night.
        My grandparents lived in Blaisdell, North Dakota, a tiny town…so tiny no one knew where it was most of the time! When Gilbert and Mary were coming from Wolf Point, MT to Blaisdell for a visit it was a big deal for everyone!  Grandma thawed out some butter ( they ate oleo but Mary only liked butter, so Grandma made sure she was ready with the butter). When they came home all the seven families congregated and stuffed ourselves into Grandmas tiny house, until it resembled the little ballooning  houses of an old Terrytoon cartoon.  The adults played cards and visited and we grandkids split up and sat in our parents cars in little cousin clicks, or walked to the school playground.  Gilbert was always laughing and telling stories.  The adults bragged about us kids, with a little "oneupmanship" going on, showing latest pictures and painting us in our best light.  Personally, I liked that part haha….
       When my kids were born they remember Gilbert the same way I do, always fixing what needed to be fixed. Sitting around drove Gilbert crazy,  he was a thinker, a lot of us in the Bruhn family are thinkers… almost to a negative, because its hard on your health to think non stop and not be able to shut your mind off and relax.  Shelbey remembers when he was visiting our house once her little wooden rocking chair was broke, and he had me find him some wood clue and pegs and he fixed it for her. No one likes to rock more than Shelbey so she was thrilled to have that fixed and never forgot it! All of my kids love Gilbert and Mary.  Shelbey just said a few days ago, one thing she loved is that Gilbert always wrote and responded to the Christmas cards he received, with a hand written card back, talking about the weather and what he and Mary had been doing.
    Today I’m sad I can’t swing going to Wolf Point for the funeral, I would like to sit in the pew like he did for us so many times, but financially it isn’t feasible from so far away.  I’m sad for Mary, Mary Ann, Gilbert Jr, Debbie, Patty and all the grandkids, that love him so very much, and for who his passing will leave a huge hole. I’m sad for the community of Wolf Point, because he was loved by many.  I’m sad for the rest of us who, with the death of each of these old timers that mean the world to us, we lose one more of a dying breed of that generation. They were honorable, they kept their word to people,  could be trusted to take care of their family for life, and try to do the right thing to the end.

         I’m not saying they were perfect, there are no perfect people, and if ever there were hurts or altercations with family,  I hope none of us let that define the whole relationship, because the good times always outweigh the bad. We are a family, we all share a bond and it has been a blessing, a huge blessing, to grow up knowing you were part of a big family that loves you and you were part of. Think of how many people today don’t have that?  That circle of love of aunts and uncles outside your own nuclear family is so grounding and important.
      There was a framed family tree with gold leaves, and little black and white pictures of all the families,that hung above Grandmas couch there in Blaisdell. It had been presented to Grandpa and Grandma Bruhn on their 50th anniversary. That tree reminds me of a saying that goes… “Like branches on a tree we all grow and go in different directions but our roots remain one”. 

       One of the brightest leaves on that picture has sifted to the ground now,  having fulfilled the job he came to earth to do.  I wish I could be there at his funeral, to look around and appreciate his legacy left behind in the family and friends on his funeral day, but let this be my tribute to someone I have always been proud to call my uncle.
                                                          Much Love,