A Year of Thanks

1 post a day for 365 days showing gratitude

loyalty May 31, 2011

Filed under: friends,kids,pets — courtsbrogno @ 5:36 pm

I love the idea of being loyal, the idea of being faithful to one’s own beliefs, allegiances, and even states of being.

But let’s face it, loyalty is hard to maintain and I’m not the most loyal person around. But how can I be? I’m constantly evolving and changing (hopefully for the better) and to say that I’ve stayed loyal to even my own feelings at any given time would be a huge lie. In fact, if there’s anything my past has shown me it’s that all too often I’m not loyal enough to my feelings, which, of course, leads to bad decisions. I’m also not the most loyal friend. While I do consider myself a good friend, great even at times, people change and friends change, and sometimes I’ve had to let go of a friendship because it evolved into an unhealthy state.

Even the world at large seems to disavow loyalty. Nations back stab each other, politicians go back on their promises, and cheating has become a common factor in many divorces (and don’t even get me started on this article where the author writes about how he’s still “hot for his wife” after 36 years together and can’t understand the cheating of Schwarzenegger and then half way through the article admits that he’s had TWO affairs. Seriously?).

I can’t say I understand what loyalty means in its entirety, but I do feel that this past week showed me how loyal friends can be to me, how loyal I am to dancing and my parenting style, and how loyalty is most exemplified in my best companion, my dog.

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My friend Kirby made a surprise visit to town this weekend, having just stepped off a plane from Australia. Word got around pretty quickly that he was in town, and many (me)  became quite stalker-ish in attempts to see him. That’s because, as I’ve written about Kirby before, he’s just one of the most incredible men I know. Actually, let me take that back. He IS the most incredible man I know. The last time I saw Kirby was last summer in Portland and a few days after our visit, he boarded a plane for Australia with no clear plans on coming back to the states, and in the time that has passed, I’ve made few attempts to contact him.

But that’s okay because I know that our friendship is so strong that we can pick up right where we left off. Which is what we did this past Friday night.

Kirby and I walked around town, ate dinner, and shared a bottle of wine. But mostly what we did was talk. there was a lot of catching up to do, and so I feel that at times our conversation was rapidly paced, trying to fit in as much as possible. When trying to set up a time to meet via email, I had made a joke that “I would very much enjoy spending time with [him] and searching through the depths of [his] mind to find a true meaning to this life we live.” And I said this in jest, but in fact, that’s exactly what happened in the course of our conversations.

Kirby has a deep soul. He seems to have lived several lives and his constant respect for humanity as well as his rebellious nature to push against what he sees as unjust or even unwise gives him a clearer perception of life than almost everyone I know.  When he talks, I listen. And I was captivated by what he had to offer. Kirby’s not wise in the sense that he knows everything because, in fact, I’d venture to say that he’s quite confused about a lot of things.

Kirby lifted my soul up in so many ways through the course of our evening together. He boosted my self-esteem and for the night, at least, I saw myself as he sees me: a strong, woman who is good in many ways. There are so many times I doubt myself and my life choices and I often feel like I’m wandering through a maze unsure of which way to turn. Kirby reminded me that there is no right way, that every way is the right way, that life’s lessons are meant to be lessons and not harsh punishments.

The following morning I received an email from Kirby and he wrote, “I just walked in the door; 11:55pm right now as I type to you. I can’t say write because, well, this fucking bright blue computer screen  is not a pen and paper – oh the power of leaving a mark on a page is everything….tonight was one of the best nights of my last year, and one I will
always remember. Thank you for your love. No matter how lovable the one we show love and kindness to is, the choice to give ALWAYS remains our own and the imprint you leave on me is wonder-filled – thank you for your world and for sharing and gawd! cha ching – we are in this for life eh dear friend :)”
Loyalty is Kirby. Loyalty is knowing that no matter what–what country we live in, whom we decide to settle down with, the different places our minds may be–we are, for sure, in this for life. And my life is more blessed, more beautiful with Kirby in it. The universe has shown me many beautiful things over the years, but the greatest gift has been strong friendships, friendships with people like my dear friend Kirby.
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Maddie graduated from 6th grade this past week, and while I’m so glad that schools over for the year and we can start a much-needed break, I’m so proud of how well she’s doing in school.

But, she could be doing better. Maddie made the honor roll this year, but the thing is, she didn’t even try this year. She kind of half-assed it the entire year, waiting until the last minute to do her work or study for her exams. I know I seem like a terrible parent for being a bit hard on her, but I hope to impress the absolute truth in trying her hardest in any given situation. Sure, she made honor roll and got a 3.55 gpa, but to know that she could have achieved far better had she just applied herself peeved me a little.

When I was in college, I took a class with my best friend Denise. I can’t even recall what class it was (perhaps a history class?), but the class was a challenge. For me. Not Denise. Denise didn’t study for exams and she rarely took notes, but I studied a lot and my notes were ridiculously long and labored. When exams came around, we both did well; I believe we both achieved an A in the course. But that experience taught me something really important: Denise was way smarter than me and had a much better memory than I did. BUT, if I worked hard, I could achieve the same grade as she did. This has been one of the best life lessons I’ve ever had. I know that if I really want something, something that may seem unachievable at first, that I can accomplish it–if I work hard enough. I truly believe that if I wanted to become an astrophysicists, I could (but I really, really, really don’t want to).

So I am a bit hard on Maddie. I did congratulate her, and I kissed and hugged her, but then I also sat her down for a long chat about how she could have done better. I made her think about next year and the goals she should set for herself. I think it was a good talk. I hope, at least.

I do feel confident that I’m staying loyal to the way I parent Maddie. I don’t want her to be a spoiled, self-involved woman when she grows up. I want her to be humble and kind and hard-working. I want to impart on her good values and ethics (and though this begs the question that what we want our kids to be is usually the exact opposite of what they become, I’m willing to take the risk).

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Maddie, with all her kindness and love toward me, has become completely embarrassed of me for one thing: my dancing. I like to dance. No, I LOVE to dance. I dance in the car, around the house, and yes, sometimes even in the shower. And I know I’m not a good dancer, but I don’t care at all. For years Maddie was my dancing partner and we had no inhibitions when prancing around the house, but now that she’s become mortified by my behavior (oh, the pre-teen years kill me sometimes), I only have Luke left as a dance partner. Which is fine (except that he likes to be carried and it’s hard to bust out great–in my mind at least–moves with a 35 pound kid on your hip).

In another attempt to show me how uncouth my dancing is, Maddie grabbed my phone to record me and Luke dancing while I made dinner. Surely, Maddie thought seeing myself on video would abruptly stop this behavior. But, oh no Maddie, I’m posting it here for the world to see. I’m not ashamed, and dammit if I’m not loyal to being a dancing queen.

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Finally, my most loyal companion is my dog Baily, who comes on every solo hike I take, making me feel protected against mountain lions and other unforeseen possible disasters.

Baily teaches me much about loyalty. She lies on the floor by my bed every night, watching over me and the kids. If we forget to feed her (which we almost never do!), she still loves us. If we don’t brush her, she still loves us! Really, perhaps her love for us is flawed, perhaps we don’t deserve this love. But I guess there are a lot of times I haven’t deserved love in my life, times I’ve been un-loyal, times I haven’t been a good friend, and yet still have had friends by my side, companions to hug me, strangers who’ve made a kind comment.

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Loyalty is strange in many ways. How to be loyal is even stranger. It’s been a good week for reminding me that loyalty exists in many different aspects of my life. It’s been a good week to reconsider what I need to remain loyal and dedicated in.

For even Proverbs states: “Do not let loyalty and faithfulness forsake you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.”

Now excuse me while I go dance.

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neighborly love April 19, 2010

Filed under: friends,pets — courtsbrogno @ 8:46 pm

My neighbor and I have–seriously–about 4 feet in between our bedroom windows. In between our bedrooms is my chicken run.

My neighbor, when he heard of my summer purchase of 3 little chicks, was not too happy. He grew up on a farm, and despite my explanations that they were just cute little farm animals that would produce fine eggs and a fine learning experience, he was not excited nor convinced. He explained: Chickens make a lot of noise.

He was right. My chickens cluck non-stop and they are especially loud when laying an egg or feeling threatened by said neighbor’s dogs. But, you know what else is loud? My neighbor.

My neighbor, you see, recently out of a 7 year or so marriage, has been, well…sowing his wild oats. And in the summer months, when both our windows are open to let in some cool air, I am the beneficiary of his sensuous love making. I hear everything. I hear it all. I hear things no one should hear. I might as well be in bed with him and his lover.

This was quite uncomfortable this past summer, but then, fall and winter came, our windows closed to keep the warmth inside, and all was quiet again.

Until this Saturday, when the warm weather led both of us to keep our windows open.  At 2:45 a.m. I was awoken to the throws of loving once again. I hid my head under a pillow, turned on a movie, and feel back asleep.

Sunday morning came, and I decided to let him know: to say, in as subtle way as I could think, “I hear you.”

I facebooked him. I wrote on his wall: 2:45 a.m. and I needed a smoke =-)

He sent me a message later that evening (after deleting the post): Ummm….that shit’s embarrassing. Sorry neighbor…at least it was a Saturday night. I owe beers.

To which I replied: Seriosuly, I don’t really care. No worries. Like I’ve said before, any type of loving, is good loving. We could all use more love in this world. But, I have to admit, it’s kinda funny. Especially since, when I first wake up, I’m convinced someone’s being hurt. Good thing the police phone number isn’t on my speed dial =-)

Today he replied back with: So do you know the difference between erotic and kinky? Erotic you use a feather,
Kinky you use the whole damn chicken! Ok, baaaad joke…but so appropriate.

Touche, I believe. The chickens keep him up and wake him up early at times. He sometimes wakes me up. And honestly, besides being a little bit embarrassed, I really don’t mind. Love on, I believe. Have fun. Enjoy what fun you may! No one is getting hurt, and it’s nice to know that we can correspond about this with smiles and no hard feelings.

Today, I am thankful for my witty neighbor and our neighborly love.