“Everything Happens for a Reason?”

Now isn't that Random?
Now isn’t that Random?

(this is an old post, re-inserted due to deletion) “Everything happens for a reason?” Personally, I really do not believe this. (did you just GASP?!!!) I think it is one of those things people say to you when you tell them something about your life that undeniably sucks. I think those platitudes are just our mind’s way of trying to contextualize experiences that don’t fall inside our usual frameworks for making sense of the world. I believe that sometimes we all make pointless, useless choices…..and these are the times you make “lemonade out of lemons”. There are just too many really bad things out there for me to rationalize “everything happens for a reason”. I guess a lot of it comes down to situations like this: The mother of a severely handicapped child who has to listen to the well-meaning chirping’s of her friends who say “everything happens for a reason…(or) God only gives special children to special mothers who are strong” Yes, these people do not know what else to say…they are well-meaning. But this mother is thinking…. “there’s NO reason good enough that I should have to deal with this severe disability….and I don’t think it is part of a LARGER plan!”. Here is what I DO believe: We ALL have life experiences that make us STRONGER. We learn from these experiences. These experiences are what mold us. They help us better our choices for the future. I have no real problem believing in the randomness of life.  Or, that maybe SOME  things happen for a reason.  BUT….. This is only MY take, albeit a very unpopular view…..but it is what it is And I am what I am:-) I’m definitely not trying to change anyone’s thought process. Just give insight on another view.

Rolling with the Changes

am

First I’ll  reminisce a bit, then on to the glorious discovery of Amazon Unlimited Music and Echo Dot.  Music is and has been a huge part of me.  I hold no genre allegiance. I’m a genre hopper for certain.  . Always embracing music thru the years while the modus operandi for listening constantly changes.  Currently streaming music is the trend..

My earliest exposure to  the music love bug was in 1964.. I’m the  youngest sibling of three older sisters and a brother who all loved music, Naturally, I became infected at an early age. One of my earliest  memories was hearing “The Birds and the Bees” on the radio in 1964.  At three,.I was obsessed with that song.wanting it to play every time anyone turned on the radio.  Another memory of song euphoria happened in 1966. That was when Nancy Senatra released  “These Boots are made for Walkin'” .  It’s was catchy and funny lyrics filled me with delight.

As a small child.I stood there, mouth agape in front of our black and white TV . Teenage girls were falling out one after the other, overcome with emotion as the Beatles sang “I want to hold your hand”.  This music thing was more powerful than my small mind could perceive..  I was sucked into a life enhanced by melodies and lyrics to match my changing moods.

When I was in the fifth grade,  mama bought a stereo.  It was in a cabinet with a turn table on one side and and am/fm stereo on the other.. A playlist in the 70’s was stacking maybe five or so records or albums on the turntable. Sometimes there would be a scratch or two or a skip.  No complaints, though..  I fell in love with technology and how it facilitated my auditory needs.

Once I stayed home “sick” from school so I could listen to anything I wanted as loud as I wanted. Paul Revere and the Raiders version of! “Indian Reservation”  blasting!  (I know, Cheesy, but I was TEN)  I sang , “Cherokee People” at the top of my lungs…rocking the trailer park!. . Fast forward to my teens and the 8-track.. Remember that awkward pause as the track changed often in the middle of a song?  Bob Segar and Elton John on  8-track was as good as it got at that time in my life.  Then technological improvements to fidelity led the Compact Cassette to supplant the Stereo 8-track.  This cassette thing was the perfect medium to take music to another level.  Now I could purchase blank cassettes and record playlists.  I no longer had to fast forward through songs I didn’t want to hear.  Custom playlists was the new ticket.  It was also a marvelous way to share music. Making tapes to enjoy and share with friends was my favorite hobby.

In my early teens I was obscessed with the America’s Top 40 radio show with Casey Kasem. I really looked forward to all the trivia facts about the songs and artists. I still listen to recordings of this show on I Heart radio.  Radio helped build my music knowledge base. I remember using a cassette recorder to record my favorite songs on the radio. Pretty fuzzy playback, but served me well at the time.

When I was twenty, I bought a High Fidelity component system from a department store on credit .  It was money well spent.. I had it years after it was paid for.. By that time I had a fairly impressive Album collection.  Bought many in my high school years at the little record store that stood in what is now the parking lot of the new Justice Center in Newnan.  Some of them I got from Columbia House. Remember that music club?  Eleven Records for a penny!  How could they do that?  I jumped on that bandwagon!   Could it get any better than a stereo component system and blank cassettes?  Well, yeah, Compact Discs!  At least I thought so at the time they were introduced. Although now I am not a big CD fan. I have bought enough to fill a 55 gallon drum.  They have served their purpose and I am so over them. I’ve dealt with cassettes getting eaten, winding them back with a pencil was easy enough. But once a CD gets scratched or damaged in the slightest way, it is impossible to listen to. Often while playing they stop with no warning and as you are about to change or take out, spit on and wipe with your shirt, it blast back in startling fashion. On the pro side, I loved making CDs from mp3’s on my computer.  They are cheap enough to rip a new one if they get scratched. But I am not organized enough to even grab a sharpie for writing what I had put on the CD. Resulting in stacks of mystery CDs. I have a stack of CD jackets in the basement without their matching CD.. In my bedroom closet I have a large shopping bag filled with stray CDs and Jackets. My CD situation is so messed up I’d even be ashamed to donate them to Goodwill!.  Embarrassing really.

I embraced MP3 technology. Was sucked in to file sharing in 1999. Remember Napster?  I did so innocently. Not realizing it was frowned upon and probably illegal.. Then digital downloads became the next new thing.  I-tunes and I pods came out in the first decade of this century. That was a good way to organize music and make CDs from playlists. But what a pain if you changed devices!    I have spent a whole lot of time in troubleshooting forums.

These days I stream music on  Pandora and I-Heart Radio. But while ordering some Christmas gifts on Amazon, I saw this advertisement for Amazon Unlimited Music. The word unlimited tweaked my curiosity.  It was Amazon’s answer to Apple Music and Spotify.   I decided to agree to the free trial and the unlimited part blew my music lovin’ mind!  Imagine going into your favorite music store and grabbing any CD you want, no holds barred.  You can have any song you desire!. Yes, any song you want is yours for the clicking.  You can even pick out music that you’re just curious about.. This unlimited music is available on up to six of your devices and is AD FREE. I am totally loving this.so much I  purchased the Echo Dot to use as my personal music robot..  I’ve only had it a day, but I am in awe so far.   In addition to playing music, . it is also Google on steroids. Ask it anything and it answers quickly. You can have it add songs to your music library, or sample songs you are thinking of adding. It is a speaker and will play whatever you ask. Not an impressive speaker so I ordered a bluetooth speaker! . I’ll update this blog to review this product further once I’ve used it for a while.. I am so excited with this new technology!.My Husband, D, is not as enamored with technology but thinks it’s cool she understands his commands better than Siri.

Organizing my music has been on my to-do list for years!  Now I’m free. My music will be organized and I don’t have to spend time doing it!  I am FREE!. I don’t have to worry about keeping up with all those pesky CD’s!  The endless game of concentration as you try to find CDs and their correlating Jacket.  Trying to get a new one out of those plastic containers and the seal wrap that is molded on is maddening!  I have literally sat in the parking lot at Best Buy cutting them out with D’s pocket knife.  Amazon Unlimited Music is definitely a safer choice.  No more time spent trying to figure out I tunes. You know how some songs will play, and some are unauthorized because you bought them on a computer that is no longer on the authorized device list.

Amazon Unlimited Music comes with a price, it is $79.00 per year for an individual plan, per year,  if you’re an Amazon Prime customer. So immediately I thought of ways to justify this purchase.  Hmmmm maybe  I will cut back on those delicious Frappes at Quicktrip or maybe I can ask Santa for this every year:)

Now that I’m delivered from CD Hell I  hope this isn’t a dream. What a nasty nightmare!. Somebody pinch me!

OUCH!  It’s real, y’all!

Love is the greatest gift! Insight on Motherhood and Grandmotherhood 

My blog has been a fabulous setting for pouring my soul on topics that are close to my heart. This post will present insight on motherhood in contrast to grandmotherhood from my perspective. In 1987 I became a mom.  I was so excited about motherhood. It was something I was over confident about. It felt right and natural. Oh, I thought I was an expert already with all the experience I had with babies and children!. I became an aunt at age seven.  By the time I had my first child all my siblings had established their families.  I had loads of practice!  Motherhood is very humbling, though.  You suddenly have this little person who depends on you to provide all their needs.  So many times I felt I was doing very poorly.  But as I look back on my highs and lows of motherhood, I realize that I loved my children more than anyone else ever could. I believe with all my heart, Love is the greatest of all the fruits of the spirit.

1 Corinthians 13:13  New International Version:  And now these three remain, faith, hope and love.  But the greatest of these is love.

1 Corinthians 13, 7-8 New American Standard Bible:  Love Bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.

So even though my parenting skills were not up to par, my love was always there and I hope this was enough to smooth over any harm I may have inflicted, though not intended. I was often a little uptight with my kids. A little staunch and inflexible at times. For instance, perfect attendance at school was expected..  I sent them to school sometimes when I know they felt awful. If they didn’t have a fever and it wasnt contageous, they were going to school. Maybe  I should have let them have a sick day here and there.  If I could go back and let little Erin stay on the couch with  some hot chocolate and watch cheesy movies all day, I probably would!   I wish I had opted for a messier house to make time to play more and engage with the kids. D and I expected all A’s from our kids and they never let us down.  But was that too much pressure on them?   Any loving parent can second guess parenting.  I am now, and always have been very proud of my kids. With all my faults aside, I am most proud of the love I have for them and their love for me.

I don’t live with regret or sadness over what I should of, or could have done. There are no do-overs so you just have to live, learn and move forward.  I hope my kids know I did what I thought was best.  

But now maybe I do have a do-over. At least I can demonstrate I have learned from some of my parenting mistakes..   As a grandmother I am much more relaxed. If you visit on the days I have my grandboys,  you might have to step over forts, leggos, blanket piles, toys and dogs. We have picnics on the porch, explore in the woods, hang out with Granddaddy at the shop, and sometimes bake brownies!   Our day is adventurous and fun most of the time.  Yet they still ask for their mama and are sometimes homesick for her. There is nothing like the love a child feels for their mama. 

 I am more careful about the tone of my voice with my grandboys.  I do not want them to remember me as that crazy angry woman.  Sadly, my kids may remember that side of me.  Now I know that it is better to be the kind of person you want them to emulate, than to lose patience and later feel terrible and regret. At least  that’s what I strive to do. But as a Grandmother it’s easier to be more relaxed. I don’t have the same stresses and burdens on me as I did as a mother. I remember how exhausted I was after work only to come home to more work. Cooking supper, doing dishes, bathing kids and putting them to bed, cleaning, doing laundry left little me time.  D was there to help, but as a Firefighter he was home two of every three days. So I had only a tiny  glimpse of how it might feel to be a single parent.   Always having that trump card,  wait till your daddy comes home  was golden! 

That’s why my heart goes out to Erin as she takes on the job of single parenting. This is not the what she had planned. But is doing a way better job than she thinks. It is a difficult job with two parents.   Extremely difficult as the only parent 

 When I’ve had the boys all day and am worn out, I am often thankful to get a break as they go home. Even though D is usually here to step in to give me a chance to shower or throw in a load of clothes. I’m sure it is especially hard for Erin who is on her own. Prayers are with her as she tackles this huge responsibility and the pressures of teaching middle schoolers.  

I’m so blessed to be in a position to help with the  care of my Grandboys.  I don’t have the same energy level of my young Betty.  But definitely less stress. 

 I tell them they make my heart happy when they are here. And that is the honest to God truth!

 

Author: Margie Brown Calhoun: Written shortly after our mom passed away

Mom was born in a little cove known as Owl’s Hollow or, as locals pronounced it, Owl’s Holler. She was born at home, as was all her brothers and sisters. Her mother married a widower when she was 16 or 17 years old. He was much older than she was, with 3 children, one of which was not much younger than his new wife. But because of propriety, she could not live there and care for his children without being married. He had a small stone house and a small store out front. This where mom grew up. It was a hard life where they depended on some farming and doing work for neighbors. Work such as cleaning, yard work, babysitting and picking cotton. Since mom was one of the older girls, she had a lot of responsibility on her shoulders. It carried over into her whole life. She was always frugal and could stretch a dollar farther than anyone. Also a chicken at Sunday dinner. We may have only had one chicken to cook and have company show up. She some how made that chicken feed everyone.
My Mom and D did not have the luxury of completing high school. For most of our childhood mother stayed home and cared for us. Our house was always spotless and she could sew clothes or alter hand me downs. She ruled the house with a strict hand and was not one to spare the rod, but not without justification. I can still remember coming home to see her ironing. She might have a pot of beans on and sweet potatoes cooking. Til this day that’s one of my favorite smells.
Mom left home at 18 to babysit for a family with two children. Their name was Brown. She had a lot of experience with children, at that time having 8 at home younger than her. She was like their second mother. She went home again when her youngest brother,  Tommy, was born. However during her time at the Browns she met a relative of theirs. A young man 7 years her senior by the name of David. He eventually, after much courting, became her husband and father of their 5 children.