What is “normal” behavior? I thought I knew but now I’m not so sure.

My daughter is caught in the midst of a family battle between her in-laws after the death of the patriarch. The jockeying for power, money, personal property and control is mind boggling.

She asked “What is wrong with these people? This isn’t how it’s supposed to be. Family takes care of each other. Family is there for you when no one else is. It’s not normal.”

And that got me to thinking . . .

I watched the same thing take place in my mother’s family after her father’s death. Again after my father’s death. During multiple friends and family’s loss of loved ones. So maybe the way I raised my children is not “normal”. For that, I’m glad.

I was a single mother for most of their youth and teenage years. I didn’t have a lot in the way of income and my ex’s new wife made sure to delay the measly $300 a month child support every chance she could. The only person who really had our backs was my widowed mother and I had to leave her behind to escape the predatory actions of my ex and his family who viewed our children as “property” that they lost.

It was me and the kids against the world. We called ourselves the “Three Musketeers, one for all and all for one.” That motto turned into a way of life that even now governs our actions.

We are all in a much better place today. The kids are married and their spouses are an extension of our family. I love them as my own. Everyone is doing well. I’m remarried to a man who loves the kids and grandkids as much as me. We all live in different states and gather from time to time, enjoying each other’s company. But when life throws one of us a curve ball, we rally to help with no expectation of gain or praise.

To me that is normal. To the rest of the world . . . maybe not.

Independence Day



Let’s make it personal. What do I need to break free of? What is holding me back?

I already know the answer. It resides in the dark recesses of my heart, hidden from scrutiny. Ignored both consciously and unconsciously. Lurking in an unseen realm, waiting for me to drop my guard . . . this cold, calculating blight to my well-being. Without warning it pounces – in the middle of a laugh. A moment of contentment. Amid a crowd of joyful revelers or along a moonlit path.

“Do not forget your dreams. Complacency has become your master.”

It’s a hard truth. One that makes me cringe. The fact is I put writing on the back burner to take advantage of a rare opportunity. It was not a direction I planned to go, especially since I was retired, but the benefits far surpassed my needs. It provided the means to move to a new house, to live a better life, to experience new adventures, to spoil my family – in the beginning. Before long, however, daily demands and weeks on the road squeezed everything from my life except work and sleep. My happy world . . . writing, camping, hiking, crafting, relationships – things that filled my soul with joy – became secondary. Too many holidays and weekends succumbed to overtime. At one point, I lived in our RV in another state. I grew fidgety. Forgot how to relax. Stress replaced creativity. Happiness fell way to a brooding discontent. A loss of direction.

Don’t get me wrong . . . I enjoy my job. I’m good at it. And were I looking for a second career, I’d be jumping for joy. But I’m not. Since the nature of my work does not allow for compromise, it’s time to make a decision.

Today is my Independence Day. I’m not ready to give up my “opportunity” just yet but the bell has begun to toll. I recognize the shift is near. It’s time to reclaim my identity. I must remember who I was . . . a creator. An author. A crafter and artist. A curious wanderer. A dreamer. A wife, mother, sister, friend.

I’m ready.

Fill your life with experiences, not things. Have stories to tell, not stuff to show.