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?

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.

Is It True? Do Blondes Really Have More Fun?

Something About Nothing by Julie Seedorf published in the Albert Lea Tribune the week of August 6, 2017

File Aug 07, 1 45 29 PMI know they say blondes have more fun. Having been a blonde most of my life, I do agree there is a fun component. I was born with snow white hair which morphed into sunshine blonde and in later years a darker blond sprinkled here and there with gray strands. I am not one to color my hair because it seems too much work to keep it up.

About 15 years ago I took a daring leap and became a redhead for a few weeks along with chopping off my hair into a pixie cut. I loved it, but I got so much grief from my family I let it go back to my natural color and grew it out.

My hair has had many transformations over the years from semi-short, long to layered and curly to straight. I get bored with my hair and on a whim I visit a salon, any salon I am near when the moment hits, and have them do something to it — meaning cut or chop but not color. I have a hard time making appointments ahead of time because I am so spur-of-the-moment with my hair. When I can’t stand it anymore, I want it changed and I want it changed right now.

I have favorite hairdressers, but they aren’t the spur-of-the-moment kind of women because they are talented and their appointment calendar is usually full. Three of them live right here in my hometown, and another one lives and works in Mankato. They all work wonders on hair but they haven’t fit into my spur-of-the-moment tantrums.

I must have grown up a little and made it out of the “I want it cut now” because I made an appointment with the hairdresser that cut and colored my hair many years ago. I decided I liked the pictures from 15 years ago. I must admit I was scared and almost changed my mind about chopping off my hair. After all, it takes forever to grow back. And the color — well, I downloaded an app and tried colors, finally deciding I would match my grandson Jake, and my daughter Katie, with a reddish color as I did many years ago.

It was with trepidation I watched the cut. I couldn’t believe it when I said, “I think we should go a little shorter with the bangs and top.” Thank goodness for Pinterest because my cell phone came loaded with pictures of cuts I like, but having fine, thin hair I wasn’t sure it would work.

We debated on the color. If I were honest, if I were braver, I would have added some purple to the gold copper. I didn’t quite have enough courage to go that far — maybe next time.

Who would think at my age I would be nervous at such a change. I loved it, but I was a little scared about the reaction I might receive. My husband raised his eyebrows and wanted to know why I didn’t go darker red. Boris and Natasha stared at me and weren’t sure who I was. I didn’t think cats noticed faces but I could be wrong. I finally posted my picture on my Facebook page, and the reaction seems to be acceptance.

I was in need of a change. A color and cut might seem like a small thing to most people, but it was my upbringing holding me back. It was beliefs I didn’t know I had, keeping me all of these years from changing my natural hair color. In my childhood years it was scandalous to color your hair. I remember people talking about a few women that did color their hair back in the ’50s and those whispers must have stuck in my brain. Although I always loved other women when they colored their hair, I still hold those beliefs unknowingly in my brain. There was something wrong with me if I wanted my hair to be a different color.

Now I feel free from that silly, kept-undercover-belief. I find it strange things affect us and we do not realize some of the choices we make are unspoken criticisms from the past.

I know I could have added the purple. It wouldn’t have mattered what others said. I am my own person with my own tastes and those who are truly in my corner won’t care about the decisions I make about my looks. They accept me as I am. At my age, I have earned the right, as it says in the poem by Jenny Joseph, “When I am an old woman I shall wear purple.” I am not sure she was talking about hair but does it matter?

One might say coloring your hair isn’t accepting yourself as you are. But it is if you want red hair, purple hair for the fun of it or want to break out of the usual rut and feel alive in your skin. It is if that is who you are inside but have kept it hidden, trying to conform to what others think you should be. It isn’t accepting yourself if you think changing your looks will make you more accepted, more like others and are trying to fulfill something inside of you to fill a deep hole that doesn’t let you accept yourself.

Someone who is comfortable with who they are will pull that from inside of themselves and show the world that person. I am not sure I am there yet, but life is a journey and it should be fun trying to let go of expectations, not just mine but others in my old age.

Like Mikey from the commercial said, “Try it, you might like it.”