Buck the norm. Those who know me, know I'm not normal or follow the norm.
I have been accused of being a rebel. I've been accused of not having traditions. If by tradition you mean putting the Christmas tree in the same spot, eating the same foods in the same order, then no, I'm anything but traditional.
If by tradition you mean, sharing customs or beliefs from one generation to the next then I'm your girl. I am traditional in things that count. Where hearts are molded and dreams are born.
I am traditional in the belief that my marriage, my family are to be protected at all costs.
When I was young I liked fast cars, faster motorcycles and the men who rode them. In truth I wanted to be the one in front, the driver. I got my license in my 30's, the hubs brought the kids to watch mom do figure eights and pass her test. I took the week long course with another Doc the hubs worked with. Weird? No, it was awesome and 105 degrees in full leather.
When I was 18 I bought my first car. A hot rod. It came with a 350 engine, white leather bucket seats. When guys pulled up next to me at a red light they expected another dude. Some were surprised, some pleased. I was not beyond racing someone down a city street at 1 am. I do not support this behavior in any way, shape or form. It was stupid, dangerous and completely exhilarating.
I've matured since then. A little.
I've worked retail, non-profit, mixed in with volunteer work. My favorite job will always be one that is surrounded by people. When I was young I waited tables. I worked three different restaurants at the same time. The work was hard, exhausting and invigorating. You meet 30 new people every day, and go home with wads of cash in your pocket. Hey, if you can do that and keep your clothes on... winning right there my friend. Some of the best fun I've ever had.
I am not above doing this again, as I love meeting new people... and taking their money.
I've taken a few personality tests over the years. It's an unwritten rule in our house, not by me. By my boss of a daughter. I remember the first one I took. She had nothing to do with this one, but every one since.
The hubs was part of a leadership board for N.Y. State Young Physicians. We were in Washington at a conference and took a test for physicians and spouses. It was a mouth dropping, eye opener for us. We started to see why we reacted the way we did to one another. We each
Since that weekend we give Washington, D.C. all the credit for our marriage. Can you say that?
This man I married got what he asked for when he said he wanted a strong woman as a partner. Everything becomes a competition with us. A game of backgammon or cards quickly becomes competitive where the winner taunts the loser... cards are thrown, verbal attacks regarding one's character are spewed like daggers. I jest... sort of.
The week before we married I took his Jeep and traded it in for pickup truck. Didn't even ask him. I have to admit it surprises me now. I was Bad A*#.
It made perfect sense at the time. We had two identical Jeeps. We needed a truck. I made the deal. He very calmly, through gritted teeth told me to please, never, ever do that again. I told him he was going to love his new truck.
Back to personality tests...
A few years ago I took a test by Gary Smalley. This was a requirement of my job. I remember Carolyn, one of my bosses laughing as she already knew how I would score.
Turns out I'm a Lion, which means, bold, adventurous, confident, strong willed.
I'm also an Otter which means, promoter, enthusiastic, positive, verbal, spontaneous, fun loving.
Those are the positive characteristics for which there are also negatives.
I will spare you those as I am sure they do not apply.
In the end I will boldly, maybe forcefully take you to the party where we will dance on the tables all night. I will, however protect you till the end if we are attacked while on those tables.
Side note, the test is worth taking, even if Gary is a bit weird. You can find it online. I shared a speaking engagement with him a few years ago and I remember he wore a track suit. This was a group of professional men and women in suits, so he got the suit part correct. It was humorous. Hey, if you are Gary Smalley, why follow the norm?! Wear your track suit with pride.
Back to norms...
I remember one summer evening when our children were small. We had finished dinner and I went outside to mow the lawn. The hubs kindly began cleaning up the kitchen. One of our neighbor boys came in the door and asked hubs why he was washing dishes and I was mowing. Hubs looked at him and said, "Why not?'
He gave this young one words to think on.
What does a relationship look like between a man and woman, husband and wife, girlfriend and boyfriend? Can you really find it in a book or dictionary?
My husband wished he was mowing too, but he showed grace to his wife.
I have learned not to ask my husband to paint a room, or hang a picture. I don't have that much time left and I'd like to stay married.
If I want to move furniture I wait for him to leave the house. First thing he would do is find a tape measure. Where is the adventure in that?
I have moved up and down stairs, across the house, inside/out, whole rooms of furniture. Big furniture. Got the scars to prove it, mainly on the walls.
I have struggled with women's ministry over the years. More on this another time. Don't hate. Don't judge. It's not women I struggle with. It's the design, the fluff. I don't do fluff well.
Thankfully, this is changing. I see young, strong women searching for their purpose. Marriage and motherhood may be part of the picture, but certainly will not be all of it.
For some, it will not be any of it.
Will they find a place without being mom? I hope so. They deserve that.
I'm thankful to be a mom.
I wish we had a few more kids. Really.
I also love the freedom of adult children. I'm independent like a long haul trucker and yet there is nothing better than laying my head on the pillow next to my husband every night possible.
Yet, he and I are always together... even when hands not holding.
I think of what possibly made me different, not quite comfortable always in the norm.
I remember my grandmother's kitchen. How many times did I walk in to find another hard luck story at her table, a mouth to feed, a hitchhiker picked up and given a bed to sleep in.
The woman was Florence Nightingale with a sense of humor, a silly streak and a quick smile.
My mother was not June Cleaver growing up. Well maybe she was. The woman can cook. Looking back she was the WOMAN in that commercial.... she could bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan.
She was a V.P. for a small furniture company, working from Ohio to New York. She worked hard, built a company and took me with her on occasion.
I watched her. She wasn't the norm.
I remember her company gave her a fancy Cadillac and she let me drive it to school one day. She taught me women did not all look the same and that was okay.
Some of you are jumping up and down... "Hey, me neither. Buck the norm. That's me!"
I see you.
The ones with babies who never thought they would go that route.
You are professionals.
Now you are fighting for those children that someone else gave breathe to... but you mold, build and grow.
The ones holding down the house and job while the husband works a few states away.
The ones who signed up for Italy and landed in Holland. You find the beauty through the pain... every day.
I see you making a beautiful life and community right where you are.
You are changing the world you know.
The ones who have enough children to make people ask questions. Those children that don't look like you, share your skin... but wow, I see your heart shining out of them. It's beautiful to watch.
The ones who invite everyone into their homes, no matter. No test to pass before the door opens wide.
The ones who have done life with me, in neighborhoods, student ministry and leadership groups where we lay it out on the table, all of it. The ugly and beautiful.
The ones finding their way, asking questions, making others uncomfortable.
Unwilling to settle.
You aren't the norm. Thank you.
Truth is, we are all finding our way. The important thing is to build your community with people who will be transparent with you. Invest in those people.
Who do you gravitate towards? Is it the slightly quirky girl? Encourage it, build it.
Whoever it is, don't let it slip away.
I have learned much from who I did life with for almost twenty years. I'm rebuilding now, and yet trying not to let go of these people. Why should I? I want to take them with me into the next chapter.
The next chapter will not look normal to most. Soon the hubs and I will travel to see each other, spending weeks together and weeks apart. We hold hands, whether together or apart. My heart is always his.
We will build new community closer to our adult kids. Family is forever... just don't move in with them.
We pray over this decision, not taking it lightly. It must please God to be good.
I hope our community looks like a long weathered table in our backyard, where on summer nights a neighborhood of characters will gather and celebrate life. Everyone is invited. Just don't bring normal.