And Now… A Word From Our Sponsor

I’ve wandered off the grid this week, so there won’t be any new Terri Tales today. I know you are disappointed, but I’m sure you can withstand the loss. I have faith in you.

To help you cope with a week without me, I wanted to leave you with a little public service announcement to ponder while I am gone.

I’m sure most of you know by now that I have written a book based on this blog. The book is called Changing My Mind: Reinventing Myself In Retirement. I’ve published it under my “real” name, Dorry Curran. The book has been out for about six months now and has been well reviewed by those who have read it. For those of you who have not read it, why haven’t you?

I’d like to help remedy that sad state of affairs by reminding you how to purchase the book. I’d also like to suggest that the book (besides being entertaining, helpful, and thought-provoking) is pretty darn nifty-looking. You probably don’t want to hear this, but we are entering the Christmas shopping season. Also, many people retire at the end of the year and it is sometimes hard to think of a retirement present on top of all those Christmas presents you have to select. Changing My Mind is a suitable gift for every occasion.

You can order as many copies of the book as you like by visiting my direct-to-reader page at: https://secure.mybookorders.com/orderpage/2076 If you use the promo code terri, you will get a 15% discount on paperback copies. You can also get the book in electronic form, compatible with either Kindle or Nook.

If you prefer, you can also get the book at amazon.com or barnesandnoble.com in both paperback and electronic formats. The discount code will not apply to those order sites, however.

So, please consider buying a copy or several copies of Changing My Mind. If you enjoy the blog, I know you will enjoy the book. Remember…. I have faith in you!

So, for those of you who have read the book, what can you say about it that might help someone else decide whether or not to buy a copy? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com. Sending me an email might not really have the desired effect of tempting others to buy the book. Still, if you aren’t comfortable leaving a comment and would still like to say something about the book, I’m happy to get your feedback by email.

Change Your Mind today!

Terri/Dorry 🙂

Fathering

As Father’s Day is approaching, I wanted to write a post honoring fatherhood.  Two years ago, I posted a piece in tribute to my own father.  You can read it at http://www.terrilabonte.com/2016/06/the-first-man-i-remember/.  In light of how much time I have spent on the concept of motherhood in the past, two years seems an inordinately long time to go without discussing fatherhood.  Still, I seem to have way more difficult a time opining on the virtues of fathers than I do the virtues of mothers.

It isn’t that I think fathers are less important than mothers.  I absolutely DON’T think that.  All you have to do is read my June 2016 blog piece about my own father to know the value I place on dads.  In fact, one of the reasons I am not a mother today is that my child would not have had a father in his/her life.  When I was contemplating adopting a child, one of the reasons I decided against it was that I firmly believe that the optimum condition for raising a happy, healthy child includes having a loving mother and loving father.  While a lot of people are great single parents and do a phenomenal job raising wonderful human beings, I think the odds are better when there are two people giving their all to the parenting process. I didn’t think I was strong enough to start out being a strike behind the count.

Maybe my difficulty in capturing the qualities of daddyhood has to do with the fact that I am a woman and my closest friends are also women. Parenting is such an intimate activity.  I’m not sure I’ve ever have had enough “up-close-and-personal” opportunity to observe men being parents to define what made them good fathers.  I just know that they are.

I don’t think I am the only one that has a hard time identifying the unique qualities of good dads.  It isn’t fair, but I think we might tend to undervalue our fathers when compared to mothers.  Even the language of parenthood is different, depending on gender.  When we say the verb “mothering,” most of us visualize a lifetime of coziness and support… sometimes, even to a fault. Someone who “mothers” us is there over the long haul. “Fathering,” however, has a different connotation.  Someone who “fathers” a child is there for the conception.

If I make a deliberate effort to identify what does make a good father, I think it comes down to action and service. Good fathers walk the walk of love.  They fix things.  They take care of their families.  They do things for their families, even when that means sacrifice.  The thing is, a really great father almost doesn’t think of it as a sacrifice because the pleasure they get from doing something to make their kids happy is more satisfying than the personal pleasure he gave up.

I don’t have a lot of memories of my paternal grandfather, but the ones I do have are burned in my very soul. He was an excellent purveyor of serving acts.  He helped build an extension on the house where my parents lived so my maternal grandmother could move in with us.  He made me a beautiful purple crib for my Christmas baby doll.  My favorite color was purple and this was a time when people just didn’t make things in colors like purple.   I remember a time when I was having a meltdown at age four because my best friend had flowers after a dance recital and I did not.  No one could comfort me.  The hugs and the kisses and the soft words were all very nice, but they did not address the problem.  My grandpa fixed everything by taking me into his backyard garden, instructing me to take any of the flowers that I wanted. He followed in my wake, patiently clipping away at his carefully cultivated blooms as I identified the ones I wanted.   He even found me a length of ribbon when I pointed out that Kathleen Murray’s bouquet had streamers on it.

My grandfather also raised a father with similar traits. My father was also a service action kind of guy.   I do have some memories of touching conversations with my father, but I remember much more the things he did to keep me safe and happy.  He worked hard physically so I could make a living with my brains instead of my back.  His job was the way he paid for his life with his family and he took a lot of pleasure from the knowledge that he provided well for us.  He taught me to ride a bike.  He taught me to swing on the rings at the school playground.  He taught me to drive a car.  He refinished a lawyer friend’s dining room set as payment in barter for handling my divorce.

I know other great dads who embody those twin qualities of “action” and “service.” I know one father who built a skateboard half-pipe for his son in their relatively small backyard.  I know one stepfather who transports his stepdaughter to bowling every week.  That may not sound like a particularly noteworthy contribution, but it helps to know that the stepdaughter is over 40 years old and has a cognitive disability.  The bowling and other activities to which her stepfather drives her provide her with social connection, confidence, and pleasure in a world that would be otherwise very limited for her.  I know another father who goes to his daughter’s apartment when she is at work to take her puppy for a run every day so his daughter does not have to come home to a wildly energetic, out-of-control terrier.  There are few things in life less relaxing than a wildly energetic, out-of-control terrier.

I’m sure there are many examples of fathers who act and serve.  Sometimes, I think we take fathers for granted because these actions of service are often not dramatic or emotion-packed. Schmaltzy movies often depict parenthood as fraught with crucial conversations.  These heart-to-heart talks are often filled with angst and life-changing declarations.  I don’t know about everyone, but, if I had those kinds of experiences at all, they were with my mother and not my father.  Yet, I can’t imagine how pallid and fractured my life would have been without my father.

Maybe fathers help us to do stuff rather than help us get through stuff.  Or maybe, they help us get through stuff BY helping us do stuff!

What qualities do you think it takes to be a good father?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.  I am aware that my posts about mothering and fathering tend to reflect gender stereotypes and that kind of bothers me, but I can only report on my own experiences and my own experiences of parenthood have tended to fall out along fairly traditional gender lines.  I would love to hear from all of you and would be especially interested in hearing from folks whose experiences have shown them a different side of fatherhood than what I’ve experienced.

Have a wonderful Father’s Day!

Terri/Dorry 🙂

REMEMBER: You can order your copy of Changing My Mind: Reinventing Myself In Retirement by visiting: https://secure.mybookorders.com/orderpage/2076

 

 

 

 

 

Growing Grown-Ups

This past Mother’s Day was my first without my mother in my life.  I think I’ve been pretty healthy in mourning my mother, but Mother’s Day was more wrenching than I expected.  I felt a bit lonely and lost.

When I’m feeling down, it frequently helps to focus my attention outwards.  Rather than spending the day grieving the loss of the best mom in the world, I decided to celebrate some of my friends who are mothers.  I decided to consider what attributes have made them successful growers of great human beings.

I want to tell you about my three friends- Sunny, River, and Star.  These are not their real names, but they are definitely real mothers and I definitely really admire them.

Sunny is still on the front lines of mothering. She is our church rector’s wife. This means that she not only has to cope with the normal challenges of parenthood, but she also has the added pressure of doing her mothering in a pretty public way.  She is the mother of five boys and one little girl. She also serves as a stand-in mother for her teenage niece who lives with her brood. Her oldest son is 20.  Her little girl, our parish’s princess, is 3.  I don’t know Sunny well, but I have been observing her with her children on a regular basis for a couple of years now.  It may be presumptuous of me to comment on her mothering skills, but I am so impressed that I just can’t help myself.   Luke 6:44 says, “For every tree is known by his own fruit.” Presuming that is the case, I know that Sunny is a first-class grower of grown-ups.

Sunny’s eldest son started his own business while still in school.  In addition to growing the business, he writes a blog and is graduating early with his degree.  He is also planning to marry in the next few weeks.  While most people would think that 20 is very young to get married, this young man seems to be doing everything right to put himself and his bride-to-be in the best place possible to succeed as life partners.  The other children are also very accomplished.  Two play musical instruments beautifully.  Two others sing in the children’s choir.  They look after each other, keeping a special close eye on their little sister who is a tornado of energy and potential. They are all respectful, well-behaved, and helpful to others. The thing that really strikes me, though, is that they are not just “good kids.”  They seem poised and relaxed and confident.  They are secure in the knowledge that they are loved… by God and by their parents.  Sunny exudes that love.  She is warm and cuddly and wise in dealing with her children.  She is bemused but delighted by the notion that she may well become a grandmother while still raising a preschooler.  It couldn’t happen to a more qualified woman.

My friend River has two daughters.  River is the most free-spirited and independent of my friends.  She is strong, creative, ambitious, and charismatic.  She has excellent vision and perspective. Life is her personal adventure.  River’s younger daughter is sixteen and has big dreams.  This child knows what she wants.  It never occurs to her to think that anything is beyond her reach.  River’s older daughter struck out confidently away from her parents’ home when she went to college.  That daughter recently completed her Master’s degree in Accounting.  She now lives half a world away from her mother.  Still, River remains connected to her child by an infinite kite string that soars as high as her daughter flies. River cultivates strength and independence in her children by offering a form of support that is an encouragement and not a crutch. Her girls know there is a safety net beneath them to catch them if they fall, but they are confident enough to believe they will never need it.

Recently, I had the pleasure of spending a weekend with River and her older daughter.  River’s daughter drove four hours each way to come spend the weekend with her mother and me.  “Spending the weekend” entailed driving us all over central Texas like honored diplomats.  Not only is this young woman strong and smart, she is generous with her time and ability.  Another thing I noticed about her is that she understands that what you do is sometimes much bigger than what you do. For instance, she works full time in the accounting field, but is branching out to coach cheerleading on the side.  She loves cheerleading and enjoys being connected to the sport.  Her excitement about this new endeavor exploded out of her when she told us about her plans.  As she talked, I realized that the joy was about more than just the sport.  River’s daughter knows that she is doing more than just coaching cheerleading.  She is using her creativity to infuse children with a passion for teamwork, fitness, leadership, and positivity.

I’ve been watching my friend Star mother her two children for over 35 years, since her oldest child was a year old.  Star is kind, smart, and beautiful.  She lives her life with complete integrity.  She is unfailingly true to her core values and to the enormous amount of love she holds in her heart for the people who are close to her.  In fact, I often call Star the perfect person.  I have seen her tired and overwhelmed and low on patience, but I have never seen her without love.

Star’s children are successful and positive.  They are optimistic about life and excited about what they can make of their futures.  They understand that life is not always happy and they can weather disappointments because they believe that good things await.  They believe this because they learned from their mother that, no matter what mistakes or misfortunes they tripped over, their mother would understand.  She wouldn’t necessarily approve and she would try to teach them how to make better choices in the future, but she would always love them.

Star’s children are polite, personable, and insightful.  They have good judgment and good hearts.  They have a curiosity and care for other people that goes beyond just good manners.  Star’s oldest child has two small children of her own now.  Star delights in her grandmotherhood, recrafting her nurturing skills to support her daughter’s own wonderful way of being a great grower of grown-ups.

My friends Sunny, River, and Star are very different.  They live in different states.  They do not know each other.   I am sure they each make different parenting choices.  Yet, they are all great mothers.  I think it may be precisely because they are different that they have been so successful as mothers.  Each one of these women has brought the best of who she is to the life’s work of growing grown-ups.  They have instinctively recognized the uniquely beautiful qualities God gave them and sowed the seeds of those qualities in the children they raise.  They trusted that vigilance, hard work, and a super-abundance of love, with God’s help, could nurture and germinate those seeds into high quality human beings. Because they “play to their strengths” in being the kind of mothers they were meant to be, they are able to be the best mothers they can be.  They produce the very best harvest imaginable.

Thank you Sunny, River, Star, and all you other uniquely wonderful moms.  You do us all a service by cultivating wonderful people.

What qualities do you think it takes to be a great mother?  Please

share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.  

Have a nurturing day!

Terri/Dorry 🙂

DON’T FORGET TO GET YOUR COPY OF CHANGING MY MIND: REINVENTING MYSELF IN RETIREMENT  BY DORRY CURRAN.  TO ORDER, PLEASE GO TO:

HTTPS://SECURE.MYBOOKORDERS.COM/ORDERPAGE/2076 

USE THE PROMO CODE TERRI FOR A 15% DISCOUNT!!!!

https://secure.mybookorders.com/orderpage/2076

 

 

 

 

Cranes In My Cranium

Recently, I wrote about my feeling that the “circle of life” might be more of a curved line in my case because I don’t have any children. Mona, one of our faithful readers and commenters, shared her perspective on the “circle of life” from her experience working in a hospital. She said that there were always new babies in the nursery when someone died elsewhere in the hospital. Her comment really resonated with me. It was a timely reminder that everything isn’t always about me all the time. Imagine my surprise and dismay! Still, even when reality is a bitter pill, it can have the power to heal.

A few days after I posted that piece, the Universe brought Mona’s point into even sharper focus for me. As I was driving through my community, I nearly drove off the road because of cuteness distraction. I saw my first baby Sandhill cranes of the season. Those of you who have been reading the blog for some time will understand my reaction. By the way, if you haven’t been following every blink of my rapid eye movement for the past couple of years, where have you been? If you would like to jump on the Sandhill crane express now, you can read http://www.terrilabonte.com/tag/cranes/ .

Sandhill cranes are a bit of nature’s serendipity to me. I never expected to fall in love with them when I moved to Florida, but they never fail to lighten my mood. Over the past several weeks, I’ve had my eyes open because Momma and Daddy Sandhill cranes usually start prancing their new offspring around the development right about this time each year. Even with my keen anticipation, the sight of these new fluffballs on stilts flipped my equilibrium when I saw them. It was only by the grace of God that I did not flip my car as well.

The sight of those newborn cranes filled my heart with effervescent delight. I felt as bubbly and fizzy as champagne all morning. I was operating under the influence of baby cranes, a condition which surely must alter the state of the mind. In fact, by the afternoon, I didn’t think my day could get any more whimsical and entrancing.

But wait, there’s more. Later in the day, I was driving down a highway to a doctor’s appointment. I turned off the main road onto a smaller street to get to the medical building parking lot. Almost immediately, I noticed a very official-looking sign on the side of the road proclaiming, “CAUTION! BABY CRANE CROSSING.”

I know, right?

I parked the car and walked over to get a better look at the sign. Apparently, the question is not only why does the baby Sandhill crane cross the road, but where. Somebody was taking no chances with baby Sandhill crane safety. There were at least five such cautionary signs spaced out along the road. It was pretty charming.

When I saw the doctor, she asked me how I was. I told her I was wonderful and related my Sandhill crane sighting stories with great delight. She looked at me rather oddly and suggested that perhaps it was time to cut back on the anti-depressant.

Today, I was running errands and happened to notice another Sandhill crane family parading around a schoolyard I was passing. The momma, daddy, and two baby cranes were promenading in perfect unison. They instinctively adjusted their strides to form perfect lockstep ranks and files. I wish I had been a crane when I was in the junior high school marching band.

What a wonderful day! The sight of those cranes put a soft, slippery smile on my face that has been there ever since. It is a smile that suggests I have a precious, heart-filling secret.

I do have such a secret. My Sandhill crane friends have taught me something. My life is not a circle. And that’s okay. My life is a small dot on the circumference of a much huger continuum. And that continuum is the circle- the circle of life.

What about you? Does Nature ever put you in your place and make you realize that there is more to the world than just you? Won’t you tell us about your experience? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Have a beautiful day!

Terri/Dorry 😊

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: I am kind of surprised that I have only heard from a couple of people about a spot at the virtual launch party for Changing My Mind: Reinventing Myself In Retirement. Of course, I know that you all have lives that do not revolve around me and the publication of my book. I understand if you cannot join us or if you just don’t want to participate. A couple of my friends suggested, though, that some of you might not have a good understanding of what you would be getting into if you come to the virtual party. When I was working, I swear it felt like I existed more in virtual life than in real life. I guess I forget that not everyone spent thirty plus years with a phone growing out of his or her ear. I thought I’d give you some more info on what to expect if you come to the party.

Step #1: Email me at terriretirement@gmail.com to let me know you would like to attend. I will reply to you with a telephone number you can call from any phone, toll-free, a little before 4:00pm EDT on Saturday, 5/19/18. I will also give you a participant code.

Step #2: At party time, you will call the phone number I’ll provide you in my response to your email. An automated voice will prompt you to enter the participant code. Once you do that, you will be on a phone call with the other virtual guests, me, and the folks attending in real life. You will be on speaker phone, but I will give you instructions on how to mute your line at the beginning of the call, if you would prefer.

Step #3: Enjoy! We will have a couple of drawings for REAL prizes- no virtual teddy bears! I will do a reading from the book and field questions from the participants. During the event, one of my lovely assistants will be emailing you photos and coupons and information on how to purchase the book. If you don’t wish to get the emails, all you need to do is let me know. You are still welcome to join us.

There is no charge to you for the party and the process for joining is simple. I am limiting the number of spaces for virtual guests because of budgetary reasons- and also just to make sure it doesn’t become a crazy free-for-all. Right now, neither of these issues should be a problem, so please email me today at terriretirement@gmail.com if you would like to join us so that I can give you the call-in info and get you on my list.

A Day To Par-tay!!!

I recently told you that my book, Changing My Mind: Reinventing Myself In Retirement, would soon be making its world debut.  I’m happy to announce that you will be able to order your very own copy starting on May 19, 2018.  You can get your hands on this hot commodity by visiting my direct-to-reader sales website.  I will give you the address when the website is up and running. The book will be available in paperback and electronic editions.

You can also get the paperback and electronic versions at the Amazon and Barnes and Noble websites, but I hope you’ll go to my direct-to-reader site and order there because then I get to keep more of your money!  I have spent a lot of time trying to think of a graceful way to say that, but, as you can see, I have failed.  In addition to my greed, the other good reason to go to my direct-to-reader sales page to buy this masterpiece is because I will be offering you, my far-flung blog friends, a special discount code to use when ordering.

My book release is a momentous event in my life and I want to celebrate.  More specifically, I want to celebrate with you. I will be hosting a launch party on Saturday, May 19, 2018, and would like you non-local folks to join us virtually.  The event will be from 4:00pm-5:00pm EDT.  If you would like to join us, please send me an email at terriretirement@gmail.com.  I will provide you with the information you need to call in and celebrate with us. I also plan to have my lovely assistant take photos during the party and send them out to you in real time.  Please let me know in your email if you are okay with me providing your address to said lovely assistant so she can include you in the photo frenzy.   I have some activities planned that everyone in the room and everyone on the call should enjoy.  There will also be an opportunity to win a fabulous prize.  Well, kind of fabulous.

There will be limited phone lines available for the virtual party, so please email me your interest as soon as you know you want to attend.

I hope that you will be able to participate.  Please stay tuned to my blog for the website and discount code to use when ordering book copies.  Because I am incredibly socially awkward and insecure, I will be offering an extra discount for those people who attend the launch party.  I am sure that will incentivize crowds of crazed fans to participate! Or, maybe, at least one or two people who are mildly fond of me.  Either way, I’m good.

As always, thank you all for your support and encouragement.  In addition to celebrating the launch of Changing My Mind, the party will celebrate all my friends- all of you- because, even if you are miles away, you are all close in my heart!

What do you think about the idea of a virtual launch party?  Please share your perspective by leaving a comment.  In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.  If you would like to attend the virtual launch party, please email me soon to receive the call-in info!

Have a day worth celebrating today!

Terri/Dorry 🙂