Life Is Short; Forgive Your Family Members

Something About Nothing published in the Albert Lea Tribune the week of September 25, 2017

The best career I have had in my lifetime is that of a mother. There will never be anything I do which will equal my feelings about being a mother.

I wasn’t always the best mother. We don’t have experience when we start, we gain it as we go and unfortunately for our children, at times, they are the testers for our parenting skills.

I have fought with my kids if I saw them making mistakes, especially if they were the same mistakes I made. I wanted to spare them the pain. They have fought with me when they thought I wasn’t doing the right thing in their lives or mine. That’s what families do, they love, they fight and they come together in good times or bad.

I didn’t understand when I was younger why my mother worried about me so much, or why we had to fight about certain things when I was a teenager or even a young adult. But I do now. As a parent and grandparent, if she were alive today I would ask her forgiveness for our fights and tell her I understand it was because of love.

As I get older I miss our kids. It isn’t because we don’t see them or they don’t share their lives with us, but because as a mother I still to this day at times have empty nest syndrome. I would love to be a part of their daily lives again. We live close — a couple of hours away, but we can’t have the day-to-day interaction, and it isn’t easy to go to all of my grandchildren’s activities and I miss that.

Because they are so busy with work and kids’ activities, they don’t get home very often. But the other night, my son shared a picture of him and his son engaging in a father-son activity. I realized while looking at that picture that now is their time together. My children are building their relationship with their children, just like my husband and I did with ours. They are making memories. It is the way it should be. They include us when we can’t be there by texting pictures and updates when they are at activities. I am thankful for new technology, but now is their time.

My heart was sad this week when I thought of some of my friends and relatives who are estranged from their children and grandchildren. For whatever reason, their children have cut them out of their lives and their grandchildren are growing up without knowing their grandparents and feeling their love. I saw the tears of hurt from one friend and my heart broke for her.

So, this column is for those children. As parents, we really don’t know everything, even though we pretend to. We are not always that brave person we appear to be. We get scared, too. We feel lonely. We make mistakes. We don’t always feel well and sometimes we whine. We give advice when it’s not wanted. We might not have agreed with your choices and maybe we voiced that too much. But right or wrong, as a parent we do that.

My friends and family members who are missing their children might or might not know why you no longer call them, come home or don’t bring their grandchildren to see them. That makes me sad. You might think you are different than your parents and you don’t want their influence on your children, but what are you teaching them about love and family? Will they ever feel if they do something wrong you will cut them out of your life, too?

In my own family, not my immediate family but my childhood family, there was a feud. Brothers and sisters didn’t talk to each other for years. After many years I don’t think any of them knew what they were fighting about, but they still held the harsh words they said to one another in their hearts until a few weeks before one of them died. They put their feud aside and spent the last week visiting. I felt sad at all the years they could have had.

As a parent, we don’t always wear our love for our children on our sleeves. We all say things in the heat of anger that we don’t mean, but it stays and festers and causes rifts in relationships. If you are estranged from your parents or Grandma and Grandpa is just a name on a card or a word that is never spoken in your household, ask yourself if it is worth it. There may come a day when you want to hear their voice but their place of residence is now an urn or place in a cemetery.

Look at your children and ask yourself if the same thing could happen between you and them. How would it feel? And then as you are telling yourself it could never happen, remember your parents said the same thing.

Life is short. I saw the love for you from my friends and family, which you were given when you grew up. I saw the happiness you exhibited when you were with your family. I can’t believe you don’t remember that love.

I feel blessed our children and grandchildren are a part of our lives because I know, being the opinionated person I am, that I have committed some doozies, and yet they overlook my faults. I love the quote by Byant H. McGill, “There is no love without forgiveness, and there is no forgiveness without love.”

What will you choose?

Can’t always be silent on the bigger issues

Julie Seedorf: Can’t always be silent on the bigger issues

Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf

I always seem to have an opinion on something. It doesn’t matter whether the subject affects me. It doesn’t seem to matter whether I know anything about the subject. I always find a subject to have an opinion about. I also have a problem with letting others know what I think they should do whether they ask me for my opinion or not. I do not know why I think I should give another person advice about their life when I can’t handle mine most of the time. It seems to be a call deep inside of me that I must always speak up. Lately, I have been examining why I do this and figuring out how to change this behavior. It is tiring  always having an opinion about things I am not invested in. I also need to ask myself whether stating my opinion is helping or hurting. And whether what I say will make a difference or whether the words are drifting out into space and draining my energy especially in conversations with others.

We can’t always be silent. Maybe we or me need to decide when to pick our battles and make it count. The citizens of Albert Lea and surrounding areas have done that when speaking up against Mayo moving services. It might not save this hospital (I hope it does), but it may help others in the future. In spite of being told you can’t fight the big entities, they have taken on this fight. Maybe if more of us had done this in the past we would have more left in our communities, rather than accepting this is the way it is going to be. This is one subject I will always have an opinion about because it does directly affect where I live.

I have always stated unless we walk in someone’s shoes we don’t understand the problem completely. I have been following the Save Our Hospital Facebook group and there are many out there who laugh and make fun of anyone thinking this could be an antitrust issue or that Mayo has a monopoly. They cite instances from other hospital groups and have said, “Well then these other groups are, too.” They are probably right but — the other hospital groups aren’t in our area and Mayo is the one that affects us. If they think there is a possibility the other hospital groups have the same issue then they should say something.

For years people have given up, kept silent and accepted there is nothing they can do about progress even when it hurts their community. The citizens of Albert Lea are giving the nation a lesson in saying, “We have had enough. It is time we speak up for our community and bring it back to what it was and what it can be again.” Maybe other communities will do the same thing, not just with health care.

I got sick this week. I had to visit a doctor. I have a clinic one house away from my house. That is the clinic Mayo owns. But recently I switched to United Hospital District. They have a clinic in my community. I did the first visit to meet my doctor but hadn’t used it for illness. One of the reasons I switched was because of difficulty getting appointments here when I was ill. I went through that maze six years ago when I had a more serious illness. My physician, after finally being able to get an appointment with her, would tell me to come back the next week, and then I couldn’t get an appointment. It finally led to her telling me to call and talk to her nurse, who would get me in. It was a frustrating experience. I had a wonderful doctor but was not able to access her.

There was also another physician at our clinic I loved. But he, too, was moved and hard to get into. The final straw was when I cut my head open and my husband dragged me over to the clinic for stitches. They wanted to send me to Albert Lea for stitches. I complained and they consented to do the stitches, but the bill was enormous, too. My insurance company told me I should have gone to the emergency room and it would have only cost me $150 versus the $500 for 20 minutes. I thought that was strange reasoning. I might add the day I was sick the clinic one house away from me was closed.

So the morning of my illness this week, I called the United Hospital District Clinic and I got in that morning. I didn’t have to travel, and I was happy with my treatment. When you are sick you don’t need to deal with the frustration of trying to find health care.

Another friend of mine got sick earlier in the year and went to see if he could get an appointment at the Mayo Clinic here in town. It would be two weeks. He remembered he could use the VA Clinic. He called the Albert Lea VA Clinic and got in the same day.

If these two clinics can provide same-day appointments, why can’t the Mayo Clinic, who is supposed to be the best at health care, find a way to do the same thing in outlying areas? They are the best at what they do in Rochester. Wouldn’t they want to be the best at what they do in those cities where they made a commitment to help and serve the sick?

So I do have an opinion on this because it not only affects me and my family but my friends. I want to thank the citizens of Albert Lea for taking on this fight. That is my opinion.

Weeding Our Life

Something About Nothing from my column in the Albert Lea Tribune the week of August 28, 2017

I love flowers. This is the time of year when the flowers are in full bloom and make our yards and countryside beautiful. The flowers try and claim their part of the soil, fighting the weeds which want to take over.

Since I am not an avid gardener, my weeding of my garden and yard are sporadic. I like to gaze at whatever green is growing in my flower beds. I try and decide in early summer and even this time of year whether what is peeking through the soil is a flower or a weed. It can get confusing because weeds can be beautiful, and if you leave them mixed with the flowers they make a conglomeration of color. But, it is a careful balance in my untrained eye as to whether you can leave the pretty weeds or take the chance they will take over your plants and smother the life out of them.

Roses are gorgeous but they have thorns hidden away on their stem waiting to give you a prick of awareness if you grab them the wrong way. You find out quickly beauty is not all it seems to be. It can be dangerous but not deadly. Unfortunately, there are those weeds which masquerade as a beautiful flower and have a fatal bite if one tries to taste it.

The poison hemlock plant and water hemlocks may be mistaken for a variety of edible plants, fooling one with their looks. And the beauty of the oleander might tease people into touching it but if used as a stick or if burned can bring a strong person down.

Before the majestic beauty of a big giant hogweed entices you to pick it beware — once it entices you into its touch it can sting with a burn and even cause blindness.

As I was thinking about the mixture of weeds and flowers one morning I was reminded that our life too can be full of beautiful weeds and they give us no warning they are about to strike.

Inside each of us resides a sting of sorts which we hide under our words. We may look like beautiful ordinary flowers on the outside but we sting, wound and raise deadly venom with our words when others least expect it.

We’ve all had those instances where a friend or family member wounds us with their words when we least expect it. The flower we love has thorns. Since we know these people well we are aware exposing our hearts to the beauty of family and friendship will give us a prick a time or two when we reach out. But the beauty of their love and our love, just like the rose, keeps us loving, forgiving and knowing it is worth the prick for the sharing of lives.

In amongst the roses of our lives are those pretty weeds lurking — food which tempts us with its smell and tempting sight, store ads which give us credit and coupons and entice us in making us buy more? Promises from entities show us life can be better if we follow their vision and then once we are drawn in they morph and change from something of beauty to a strange looking creature.

Being a novice gardener comes with hazards. I am drawn to the beauty, and I touch without thinking about the consequences of the temptation of what I see.

I think flowers and weeds can mimic life. People can be flowers and weeds all mixed together in a jumble, trying to make sense out of life. We become disillusioned if what we see is not what we get. We are surprised that we blindly chose the weed and got burned or poisoned. And we shouldn’t be, because we jumped to conclusions, talked, made choices without doing our homework to find out the toxins or the antidotes if we suffered the consequences of our bad choices.

I have weeds inside of me. It is hard to kill those weeds. Some of my inside weeds I might want to survive because weeds are tough. They combine with the flowers inside of me so I don’t bend and break. The words I use and hear can fuel the flowers or the weeds, and if there becomes an imbalance between the loving words and the toxic words it might determine how I feel and how I treat others on a given day. They are connected, just as we are all connected. We can be each other’s flowers and weeds. It depends on what fertilizer we use.