Learning something new

tea

Last weekend, my sister educated me about the delicious tradition of brewing loose tea. I am big tea drinker – black, breakfast, green, herbal, you name it and I’ll try it – and she has been trying to get me to give loose tea a try for years. Then over the weekend, we were stuck in a car together for 16 hours driving to a family funeral (in truth, we love to travel together, it just makes us sad when the reason is a funeral). So I asked her about loose tea, really just to make conversation. Little did I know what an impressive amount of information she carries around in her head on the subject!

Thanks to my sister, I am a convert to loose-tea-drinking! But more importantly, she reminded me what fun it can be to learn something new, especially when it is unexpected and delightful. What are you learning today that is new and fun?

Death of a friend

Last week, I lost a college friend to suicide. It is such a tragedy, in so many ways. But personally, it is a tragedy for me in large part because I completely lost touch with this friend after college graduation.

I know that happens all the time, and I’m not really sure we would have ever been great friends. In fact, this particular friend used to annoy and irritate me all the time because we were very different. Or at least I thought we were very different, and so it was probably mostly my fault that we struggled to be friends.

All these years later, I realize that I should have told him how I really admired so many of his qualities: he was friendly, warm, sincere, talented, and very giving. Those things matter so much more than anything else in this life.

I hope I learned something from this experience. Starting today, I’m going to reach out to some old friends to let them know how precious they are. There is just no point in waiting until they are gone to remember the good things. And there is really no point in holding on to the memories of stuff that’s not so good, and probably not very important at all anyway.

Multigenerational living pioneer

My family and I have decided that we are going to purchase my parents’ home and build them an addition to live in, while we will take over the main house. So far, the only difficulties we have encountered are things we just did not expect.

Hurdle #1: getting a mortgage for construction. Our circumstances are a bit unusual, in that I am the breadwinner in the family and my husband is the stay-at-home parent. Nevertheless, our finances and credit history are rock-solid. So, I never would have guessed that our biggest hurdle to getting a mortgage would be revealed when a banker asked me pointedly, “Where is the husband in all of this?” Meaning, of course, that he could not figure out why I was the one co-signing a mortgage application with my parents, why my husband has no income to report, and how it is possible that I could be the parent to move to a new city in advance of my family. Maybe this banker stayed up too late watching a marathon of Mad Men and forgot what year this is.

Hurdle #2: everyone thinks that the only reason we could possibly have for making this choice would be a crisis of some sort, whether health- or job-related. This is just not so, at least not for us. Aren’t there any other families out there who have made this choice because it was just the best choice for the family, for long-term finances, and to make a plan for how to care for aging parents in years to come? Aren’t there any sources of advice on, say, how to share a kitchen with your parents? In all fairness, I have found a small handful of references to this kind of information, but to say they are limited in number would be an understatement.

I’m extremely glad we’ve made this choice, but I just did not realize that we would be considered “pioneers.” I don’t really have any desire to be a pioneer in this area! Nonetheless, we will tread on without fear, with love in our hearts, and hoping that we make good decisions on our family pioneer trek.

Other people’s annoying habits

I have been living with my parents for a few months, moving in advance of my family, who will be joining me in another few months. To say that it’s been a bit of a shock living in my childhood home – and with my parents – would be somewhat of an understatement.

What I have found to be both frustrating and amusing is how much my parents’ habits are annoying me. I know from past experience that this is likely because their habits are revealing something about me that I would rather not admit. Example 1: clutter (who me? have a tendency to accumulate clutter? never!). Example 2: indulge in sugar (whistling and avoiding eyes, la la la la la…).

Readily, I can admit that these “faults” also tend to be my faults. What’s much harder, though, is working on those tendencies in myself. Without expecting that working on myself will set any kind of an example, or rub off on them, or make me better than they because I’m working on my faults!

Because, really, who am I to judge? If I want to work on my own “faults” for my own benefit, then good for me. If their habits are bothering me to a point where it is affecting my ability to live in the house, then I must address it with them. Otherwise, I need to just leave them alone about it. And always remember that these issues are MY issues.

My parents are wonderful, kind, generous and love me very much. How lucky am I? Who could ask for more than that?