Marriage and Term Limits

I have said a couple times lately that I think the fine institution of marriage needs term limits; like at year 15, you both could yell “SWAP”. Ha! What that vision would include is that somewhere during year 12 when you fantasize about pinching their nose clean off their face because they continue to leave their crap all over the house for you to clean, you could just tell yourself, “don’t do it, just a few more short years”. Ha! (I feel the need to insert “just kidding” right here. Hopefully that wasn’t necessary, but either way, just wanted to be on the safe side. Ha!)

I do have something on my mind though about this very topic. Picture this. You’re sitting at your desk when a new co-worker comes around to meet you. The both of you hit it off nicely and after a week or so of brief office chit chat, you go for a quick lunch one day. After several quick lunch dates that go fairly well, you decide to go out for dinner and a movie one Friday night. It gets to where you start noticing increased heart rate; a little excitement when you see this new interest round the corner to your office or when you see their name pop up on your phone; you feel your cheeks blush with certain eye contact or simple touches and just the thought of a kiss makes you giddy with anticipation. You begin hanging out more and more, determine that you are now going steady and get to the moment of saying those precious three little words, “I love you.” After that, you are attached to the person…feelings of possessiveness come into play, they are yours…your special person. You feel safety when you’re with them and seek them out while in a crowd. You’re just naturally drawn to them.

Typically the next step would include meeting the families, later getting engaged and finally marriage…Lord willing and the Creeks don’t rise. Right? So which part is the love part? All those mushy feelings or the part where you say “I love you”…which to me signifies that you will love them or continue the act of loving them for an undetermined amount of time? With this comes the question of today…is love a noun or a verb?

I’ve come to realize that we have a very skewed view of love when we see love as the noun…those mushy feelings if you will. Let me just tell you, feelings come and go as quick as Aunt Sally’s Homemade Banana Pudding or Uncle Fred’s Scratch and Win Lotto money. (insert eye roll)

Marriages have been thrown away for the sheer fact that one or both spouses don’t feel like they love the other any more. If love is a feeling, then yes, you probably don’t love them anymore. If love is an action (verb), you can choose whether you do or not. I think real change happens in a failing marriage when you come to view love as an action and not a feeling. You can make that choice to “act” all day long, but feelings, you have no control over; they come and go with the wind.

When we vow to love someone for better or for worse, in sickness and in health, til death do us part, do we really know what we are promising? I’ve posed the question before…if we knew what til death do us part meant for us as a couple, would we still walk that aisle?

As a hospice Social Worker, my eyes are wide open as to what that phrasing means. We are saying that we will love our spouse until they take their final breath; that we will wipe their behind when they are unable to do so themselves; that we will make difficult decisions about nursing home placement; that we will spend some lonely years when the kids move out to live their own dream; that we will possibly lose our ability to help our mate when they experience a decline in health because we ourselves are experiencing a decline in health; we may look at each other from one wheelchair to another and chuckle at the fine situation you both find yourselves in this time.

Of course, all of this time from the aisle of the church to a spouse’s final breath is riddled with bad but also with much good. Funny memories are created from eating Ramen Noodles and dented-can-mystery-meat from the clearance bin because diapers and formula are super expensive; moments spent on the back porch after the babies are down for the night; sweet moments spent on the couch under a cozy blanket while you watch television…or while the television watches you cuddle and smooch; moments of pride as you see your children grow and chase their own dreams; grandbabies being born…just so many good times also.

I find myself back to the difficult question of how can one couple make it to the final breath and some make it only to ten years and a divorce attorney? I’ve decided it’s all in your perspective. You can make that choice to love or you can hit the road the moment the mushy feelings flee the scene. But I can assure you, the next relationship you run to will entail all of those same feelings initially but they too will finally dissipate. How many times do we change partners to chase those feel good mushy lovey dovey feelings that accompany new love? How many is enough?

Sipping some delicious warm soothing “muddy water” as a friend recently called it and thinking to myself that after 26 years of marriage…and no term limits…I might better view love as an action because those mushy feelings have been g-g-g-gone for a minute now. Ha! ~paula

I Heart Cooking! (Buffalo Chicken Dip)

I’m always looking for snacks that warm my soul but won’t stop the shrinking waist line I have right now. I have a friend who often makes Buffalo Chicken Dip for our gatherings and no matter HOW big of a slow cooker she puts it in…IT AIN’T ENOUGH! Ha!!! Her dip is so very yummy! But today I wanted to try my hand at my own version. I sort of read up on several different versions and came up with the lowest carb version that I could and decided to try it out.

Since I have been trying to cut the carbs, I know this is a dip I can have…I just have to be creative as to what I use to scoop. I choose celery today. Of course for my family, I will have their Fritos Scoops and their Doritos. Otherwise, the only thing I got to eat tonight might have been a knuckle sandwich. (Wait, that would most likely be low carb as well. Right? Ha!)

But anyhoo, here are the ingredients you will need.

Please feel free to use whatever name brands you’d like.

1-1/2 cups Buffalo Wing Sauce

1 cup Blue Cheese Dressing

2-8 oz blocks of Cream Cheese (softened at room temperature)

6- 12.5 oz cans of Chunk Chicken Breast (drained and crumbled)

4 to 6 cups Shredded Colby & Monterey Jack

For this size recipe, use a 4 qt casserole dish. Crumble the drained chicken into the bottom of the casserole dish. Mash cream cheese into the chicken until the chicken is fully covered by cream cheese. Then add your Buffalo Wing Sauce, Blue Cheese Dressing and half of your shredded cheese. Once all is mixed well, flatten ingredients and sprinkle the remaining cheese on top.

Baked at 400 degrees for 30-45 minutes. I left it in long enough to see bubbling in the center and a nice sear to the cheese in areas.

Now it’s ready to eat! Just dip with Frito’s Scoops, Doritos…or celery sticks for you low carbers.

I will admit, there are a few changes that I will possibly implement before I make this dish again. I didn’t use a full 6 cups of cheese and it left quite a bit of grease floating on the top. If you drop to the 4 cup range of cheese, there will surely be less grease on top. Secondly, I will use a little less Buffalo Wing Sauce as the spice was fairly significant; possibly will use only 1-1/3 cup. Thirdly, I will most likely use three 8 oz blocks of cream cheese rather than two as I think I would like it a little thicker. And finally, I will possibly use 1/2 cup Ranch and 1/2 cup Blue Cheese Dressing rather than 1 cup of Blue Cheese. I will certainly let you know how it goes the second time around. Please let me know how your version goes; I would LOVE to hear!

I’ve enjoyed spending time with you in the Bloggerina’s Kitchen!

With warmest regards,


When You Just Need a Minute

If there is anything that I’ve learned through this stupid grief journey is that sometimes I just need a minute. A minute to breathe, a minute to think about my sweet little mama, a minute to think about what things would be like if Cancer hadn’t reared it’s ugly head, a minute to think about all I wish I could tell her, a minute to just feel the pain, a minute to rip off the peel-n-stick smile I use daily and just cry.

Often lately, I’ve noticed that I wish I had the capability to wiggle my nose and instantly be on the beach for whatever time necessary to clear my head and then wiggle my nose to get me back home. I’m pretty sure I just had an epiphany while typing that sentence. It ain’t rocket science, move to the beach, Paula! (The beach is my most loved place on the earth because I think so clearly there…incase you didn’t know.)

But truly, there are a million instances during this thing called life that require us to regroup, reevaluate, redetermine who we are and who we want to be; you know, take a minute to “settle down” when something turns our world upside down.

So many things can manifest our own personal definition of “world upside down”. To one, the loss of a parent; to another, the loss of a job; an unexpected pregnancy; a car accident leaving one debilitated in some way; a house fire; a spousal affair. I could keep this list flowing for ten hours and still have more things to list. So many things have the ability to rock us to the core.

Why? Why are we so easily knocked on our behinds when things go wrong? I think we go along in life and constantly have these ideas and notions that are our own personal goals in life. We so easily let the words slip from our mouths that we want God’s will to be done, yet we keep making plans and arrangements on our own. We have ideas about what our lives should look like, what our kids’ lives should look like, how our neighbors’ lives should be looking. Goodness. For the most part, we can’t control anything and we just have to figure out how to deal with our new situation; even when it doesn’t fit into our well thought out plans.

I’m not saying that when bad things happen it’s because God wanted them to happen or He wanted us to have a less perfect life than we wanted to have, or even that He wanted to give us a wake up call. I’m just saying that this life isn’t ours. It is supposed to be His. He will not place you in situations that He doesn’t have the ability to walk you through.

When our children make decisions we hate. When our spouses make decisions we can’t tolerate. When things happen that are big, that you just can’t seem to accept, what are we to do?

The most simple thing to do is just take a minute to realize, the world hasn’t actually stopped turning. You are indeed still breathing. You do actually still have the ability to feel true joy, it just might be a minute before you can notice. There is very little in this life that is truly the end of the world.

When my sweet little Mama took her final breath, my heart stopped along with her’s. The problem was, mine started back again. For those few minutes directly afterward, my world was quite literally spinning out of control and I couldn’t catch my breath or have a coherent thought. I saw talking all around me but could only hear the screaming inside my head. I had held it together for so very long and the screaming inside my head was the tears and gut wrenching heart ache that had been waiting for the moment I would finally allow them out. The revelation came…I didn’t have to be strong anymore. When that realization hit my mind and soul, to say I absolutely lost my shit, is quite the understatement. I let a million loud, rushing tears go and it was not pretty to say the least. A solid year’s worth of withheld tears and despair flooded out of my weary and exhausted body. I could hold them back not a second more.

Who knows what all happened after that. Those immediate days following are such a blur to me now. I just know that I was surrounded by so much love and concern and tenderness from friends and family. I’m certain my little mama was orchestrating it all to make certain we were cared for during a time she tried so desperately to prepare us for, because she knew she couldn’t be there to physically help us herself.

What I do remember was the overwhelming need for time to stand still for just a minute. I NEEDED A MINUTE! And I was angry that no one was giving me that minute. I needed that minute to get my mind wrapped around what had occurred but there was no minute to be had. Time marched and I sort of just flowed with it. Had no choice.

But what I was being taught during that time was that there is an amazing God who was still on His throne, who kept His arms around me the whole time and never allowed me to slip under the currents for more than I needed to be under. He didn’t give me more than I could bear…with His help. THAT’s the key. He will not give us more than we can bear…with His help.

There is such a valid lesson in this for every aspect of life. Our kids don’t always choose for themselves the things that we want them to choose. They make downright stupid decisions sometimes; as do our spouses; as do we. Our spouses aren’t always capable of meeting the standard we think is required. Promotions at work don’t always happen when we think they should. Life gets messy! But God is always on His throne…no matter what rocked your little world to the core.

So take your minute when you need it. But don’t stay there. You have to get back to “keepin’ on”. You have to figure out how to keep moving and growing. I saw on a church sign one time, “If God brought you to it, He’ll bring you through it.” Right? Right.

Sipping coffee tonight and being so very thankful for parents who taught me that nothing that happens to make our life messy or troubled or rocked-to-the-core is the end of the world. Nothing. ~paula

I ❤️ Social Work

Make a difference…I suppose that is the biggest reason I chose Social Work as a career path. I wanted to make a difference. I wanted to know that when it’s time for my huge Retirement shindig, the folks that get up and do the talking have worthwhile tidbits to say. (Disclaimer to those that need to know: when I say huge Retirement shindig, I mean it better be a BLOW OUT, the party of the YEAR, an affair to which others compare their affairs for years to come! Ha!) But I wanted to know that the days I spend stressed and tired and squirming because I haven’t been able to find a clean bathroom all day would be worth it. At the end of each day, I want to be able to say, “damn girl, you rock, you still got it”. Do I do that everyday? Heck no! But on occasion, there are those opportunities to feel good about something I accomplished. With all of that chatter about how I want to make a difference in this world, I’d be remiss if I didn’t address how all this “making a difference” business effects my family. Am I really making a difference if my family suffers in the long run?

I missed my kiddo’s sporting event today because I got a call that I needed to add one more patient to my schedule because the spouse was put into the hospital unexpectedly, the patient is chair bound, unable to take care of personal needs alone and has been home alone for a few days now. Yikes!

I was so torn. My social-worker-heart-strings were being tugged…but my poor kiddo. If I left work that second I could get to that game perfectly on time; if I went on that extra visit, I would get home late and miss my kiddo. I say I was torn; the “torn” only lasted approximately a nano-second. My immediate answer to my clinical manager, “send me the information as soon as you can so I can get en route”. I let said kiddo know that mama wouldn’t get home in time to get to the game, that I was sorry and that I hate to miss it but I had to take care of my patient. Are you wondering the response? “Love you too and it’s okay”.

After all was taken care of; visit made, family rallied, physician phoned, clinical managers notified, me seatbelted snuggly back into the car to head to yet another patient (they were so close to the area I just couldn’t pass them by when I was going to already miss the kiddo anyway); I had an epiphany. I have poured enough love and time and interest into my wonderful kiddos that one missed event wasn’t going to squash any little hearts.

You just have to pray that you’ve invested enough time in your spouse and children’s lives for their whole hearts to KNOW that you love them more than anything else in the world; to hopefully make it okay that sometimes, as a Social Worker, there may be someone who needs you more than they do in that one specific moment in time.

Am I sad that I missed my kiddos sporting event? Yes, of course. But do I regret missing that sporting event to help that kind soul that needed someone to intervene and show compassion? Not one ounce. Did I make a difference in that life? Yes, I absolutely did.

That simple reply, “Love you too and it’s okay”, made me smile. That simple reply let me know I may be doing something right. Maybe I’m making a difference in both worlds.

Is Social Work easy? Most certainly not. Is Social Work rewarding? Most days. Do I make a difference in the lives of my patients? Some days. Can I picture myself doing anything else? Heck no…unless they could pay me well enough to be a Walmart greeter…I could totally rock that job…as long as I didn’t have to go smile and make nice before I had my coffee. Ha!

I think I may ponder that greeter position until we meet over coffee again. ~paula