Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Far From Home

Not much has changed from a year ago, she thought.  A deep sigh.  A tear rolls down her right cheek.  Is is worth it she wonders.  This pain?  This endless battle.  She realized she doesn't even have the energy or desire to try to fix it at the moment.  Will she ever?  The marriage had always been rocky.  It wasn't really based on a solid foundation - each had expected the other to change.  That never happened - yet they had stayed together for 22 years, 15 of them married.  They had two great kids.  There were things she had meant to do tonight - some just for herself, some for the family.  But she was emotionally exhausted.  What's the use?  The argument tonight was more than she could handle.  He wanted answers.  She had none.  They were both unhappy.  She knew that.  She knew they were also both justified in their complaints.  Therapists hadn't helped.  She had watched a movie last night where one character had described marriage as a "marathon".  This struck her.  It felt like one right now and she was at mile..... well, whatever mile it is where you hit the wall.  Does she push through or does she give up.  Maybe he gives up first.  Then what?  She knows they need to talk - AGAIN.  But when, how?  And WHY she now ponders.  He is a good person deep down.  She knows she has an obligation to try to make things better.  But - so does he and this seems to be where things falter.  She sits alone on the couch.  Her daughter being gone on a trip doesn't help things.  She misses her.  The laughter of her son and his friend from the other room does little to comfort her.  Will she be sitting here a year from now thinking the same thing?  Not much has changed?!

Monday, June 4, 2012

Making Time

So - a new writing experience begins.  Having completed the Slice of Life March Challenge successfully, I am eager to continue my growth as a new writer.  Teachers Write sounds just perfect.  Summer is here - finally - so I have time on my hands.  My kids are older now and more independent.  Making time for this should - SHOULD - be easy.  But I know better.  Things will get in the way.  Motivation will ebb and flow.  Nevertheless, I will try my best.  I am not a morning person.  I love sleeping in.  I am much more alert and creative late afternoons or evenings.  So that is likely when I will write.  After my husband goes to work in the afternoon and before dinner - maybe after.  As to where - probably on my front porch, weather permitting.  It gets the afternoon sun and is comfortable.  I refuse to make a commitment as to how long I will write each day.  I am a rule follower and I am learning as I age that this is not always necessary and quite liberating to be more spontaneous.  Since I am not working on a novel or story - since I usually write based on a whim or a single thought or a momentary event - I will likely write only around 15 minutes a day to start.  Maybe more, often less.  I am just happy to be writing something!  I finally shared the fact that I had a blog with my parents last April after the SOLC was over - but have not shared with anyone else.  I have no current desire to.  I am content at present to share with my fellow writers online.  I know it is important to let others know that this time is sacred and for me and important.  But I am not ready to share this process.  Not yet.  I look forward to meeting, reading, commenting with many of you this summer.  Thanks for this wonderful opportunity.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Musings and gratitude

Feeling down - blue, lonely, frustrated
So, guess it is time for a gratitude list:


I am so very grateful for:


The flowers, gift cards and delicious dinner out with my family this past Mother's Day


My daughter who will attend her 8th grade dance (with a date!!!) this Friday and then will graduate next Monday.  I've enjoyed going shopping with her to get her ready.


My son who has worked so very hard for 3 years trying to break the code and overcome his reading disability.  I listened to him read a "speech" we wrote together which he has to give this Friday and was simply amazed at how well he can read now.  No - we're not out of the woods yet - he'll struggle all his life but his hard work and dedication are finally paying off.


My faith which sustains me through the hard times, the lonely times, the frustrating times.


My kind, good-hearted husband.  We have much to do to repair our relationship, but he remains dedicated, loyal, caring and present. 


I pray that I can overcome my blues and my bad mood and my resentment and envy of other people who were once friends but have shown their true colors.  I am so tired of being jealous and mad.  I know the way out - I just have to remember to practice gratitude, appreciation, living in the present.


A belated happy Mother's Day to all my blogger friends who play this role.


Quote for the day:  Life is a shipwreck
                              but we must not forget to sing in the lifeboats.
                                                  ~Voltaire

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Adios El Viejo


A beloved pastor and dear friend/father figure gently left this Earth a few weeks ago.  Having just returned home from a quick trip to attend his memorial service, I felt the desire to bid my final farewell to this giant of a man whose preaching, love and acceptance transformed my life.


Adios El Viejo

Those who loved him knew him as “El Viejo” – the old one. Even his grandchildren called him that.  For as long as I knew him, he had predetermined his death age to be 84.  He outlived this by seven years – thankfully.  Paul David Sholin was his given name.  Dave, to most.  I met him when I transferred my church membership to his small Presbyterian church, having grown impatient and disheartened with the church in which I grew up.  I regret not having made the move sooner.
Dave was the founding pastor of this church.  He was also a pillar in the greater community.  He was a powerful, persuasive, challenging preacher – if you sought a service where you would come away with a warm, fuzzy feeling – this was NOT the place for you.  Dave’s booming voice and prophetic words stirred you, shook you, shocked you even.  But if you were open, you came away with an understanding of the gospel and Christ that was profoundly deep and life transforming.  Dave challenged you to LIVE the gospel every day – in service, in praise, in devotion, in prayer.  He did not attempt to make you comfortable – indeed, he seemed to revel in making you as UNcomfortable as possible when it came to how you lived your life as a Christian.  But he did so not out of some perverse desire to feel superior or powerful – he did so out of the very deep convictions and beliefs he had about how we were to live our mortal lives.  My understanding of my faith, my church and my personal beliefs largely stem from the years I listened to Dave preach.

They also came at his side during a brief, beautiful time when I was dating his son and was welcomed in as part of his inner circle.  I desperately loved the son – but fell in love with the whole family as I came to know them.  As part of this loving group, I had access to Dave on a much more personal level, and here I came to know him not just as my pastor.  I learned of his witty, biting sense of humor, his deep genuine laugh, his love of all things Spanish.  I came to know his weathered, wise face, warm smile, and intense love for his family.  I spent hours in his home and around his table.  I was embraced by love and acceptance and laughter and joy.  We spoke of sports and politics and travel and guitar and movies and poetry and religion and social justice.

And thus, as I grew to know him deeply – so did my love for him grow.  The relationship with his son ended – definitely for the best – but at the time, heartbreaking.  Yet, I remain grateful to this day for that experience and my love for all of them never ended.
So now, my beloved friend and spiritual guide is at last celebrating his new life in Christ.  I am overjoyed for him – but will deeply miss him.

Adios, Viejo – your body is now gone, and for a time we will grieve and weep – but I know I will see you and feel your presence all around me if I am open – in a call to justice, in a political rally, in a hearty laugh, in an orange sunset, in the whispering strains of classical guitar, in a glowing pipe, in a crashing wave, in a rousing sermon, in a stirring poem, in a moving hymn.  You have touched a multitude of lives.  You have changed mine forever.
Vaya con Dios, Viejo.  I love you.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Another Day


A mother races her minivan across town
            dropping one off, picking one up
waiting patiently, juggling schedules

Another day

A lost soul bends over the table,
            puts down the blade and sniffs deeply
and a curtain falls on reality

Another day

A salesman flops down on the cheap hotel bed
            and reaches for the mini-bar bottle
to dull the boredom and despair

Another day

A woman cries out, bearing down
            as new life emerges
amidst hugs and cheers, kisses and tears

Another day

An inmate returns to his cell
            steel bars slide closed
his sigh muffled by shouts, cursing

Another day

A doctor grabs her coffee and a chart
            begins a new shift
tired before it even starts

Another day

An elderly woman leaves the bus
            groceries in hand
and heads to her apartment for a solitary evening

Another day

A couple meet up at a pub
            to eat, to talk, to laugh
comfortable, content, reunited

Another day

A woman slams up against a door
            ears ringing, fear paralyzing her
as her husband, arm raised, approaches again

Another day

A firefighter sits down to a warm dinner
            hoping he’ll have time to finish
just once…

Another day

A teen rushes in, dropping backpack and coat
            to change, shout a quick goodbye
and head to work

Another day

A lover slips the ring on his partner’s finger
            a simple question asked
a commitment made

Another day

A beloved father breathes his last
            surrounded by those who love him best
grief and sorrow settle in

Another day

A teacher unlocks her front door
             grateful to be home
an night of grading awaits

Another day

A runner finishes her first lap
            as others join her, strolling, biking, sitting
dusk bathing them in warmth

Another day

A young father tucks the covers around his child
            fingers brushing his son’s curls
a whispered goodnight, a tender kiss

Another day

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Too too busy!

Well, folks - despite my best intentions - this Tuesday got away from me.  An extremely busy day and it is still not over (9:02 my time at present).
So - my friends - here is my slice for the day - I will write next Tuesday.
Thanks for understanding.

Friday, March 30, 2012

With Deepest Gratitude


And so, the final day is here.  I’ll admit I’ve been dreading it.  This challenge has given me so many wonderful gifts – I am reluctant to give them up.  I know I don’t really have to – but things will be – well, different.  No more daily posts, no more uplifting, supportive, caring comments each day.  I will miss this, very much.  Yet, I suddenly have a lot on my plate and I think the end has come at just the right time.  I need to turn my attention to other things at the moment.  Important things.
However, I now have a tool to help me – get through, process, unwind, reflect, shout for joy, question – now I write.  Now, I AM a writer.  Maybe I always was, but I never felt like one.  I doubted so much I couldn’t pick up a pen.  
The closest I could come was to read books about how to write.  Now – I write.

Things I have learned this month ~
  I am a writer (even if it is only for myself)
  There are wonderful people out there in the world who took time for me this month
  I don’t have to share everything I do with others (I never revealed my participation in this
           Challenge to anyone outside of my fellow slicers – I wanted it for myself)
  I am not alone – others share my pain, my experiences, my challenges, my likes and dislikes, my joys, my worries
I love poetry (I already knew this, but this month of writing solidified it)
I need to believe in myself and my abilities more

Things this SOLC made me grateful for ~
New friends and fellow writers
New books to read and new ways to write
The support and care of this wonderful community of people – this has been a transformational process for me, largely because of the understanding and compassion shown to me through all of your comments.  My post “A Million Thanks” sums up my feelings for all of you.  I will miss the daily feedback – but I won’t give up.  I will continue with this blog, I will continue to slice on Tuesdays, I will dig out my old, empty writing journals.  I will write.

Thank you to Ruth and Stacey for creating this wonderful opportunity.
Thank you to all writers for allowing me into your lives for a month.
Thank you to everyone who took the time to read and comment.

Quote of the day:

           At times our own light goes out and is rekindled by a spark from another person.  Each of us has cause to think with deep gratitude of those who have lighted the flame within us.     ~Albert Schweitzer

THANK YOU FOR LIGHTING MY FLAME!  Until next Tuesday…


Discouraged


This is definitely NOT what I envisioned for my second to last post on this SOL challenge, but I am distressed and need to get it out before my day starts.

I am discouraged ~

Discouraged that we live in a world where violence, greed, warfare, rudeness, and self-centeredness take center stage and become more dominant, while understanding, compassion, peace and justice are in increasingly short supply

Discouraged that I seem to be failing as a parent (where is the damn manual on raising teenagers anyway?)

Discouraged that for the second time in 3 months my lovely daughter has decided to be deceitful and reactive her Facebook account (an account she never had permission to create in the first place.)  Discouraged that she felt she had to lie about it.  Discouraged that she has chosen to adopt a pissed off attitude rather than showing any remorse or caring that she has hurt me deeply and damaged our relationship.

Discouraged that in spite of our best efforts (hands-on parenting, providing them with opportunities to learn new skills, instilling the importance of manners, ethics, strong moral character, going to church and practicing our beliefs) – we seem to be faced with two kids who are headed in wrong directions.  Discouraged because I really don’t know if these are all warning signs of more worrisome problems or are these merely typical behavior of teens.

Discouraged because the use of profanity is so pervasive in our society (I am guilty as well) and now my daughter seems to feel this is an acceptable way to communicate with her friends.  Discouraged that her focus these days is more on movies, friends, boys, love, etc. rather than on academics.  Yes, I know this is normal for her age – but when does this begin to get in her way of her aspirations?

Discouraged because my dear son is currently infatuated with guns and shooting ranges, in spite of the fact that I am a pacifist and he is well aware of how abhorrent I find guns of any sort.  Discouraged because he is internally wired to seek out sports or activities that border on the extreme (a lousy by-product of ADHD) and there is nothing I can do about it.

Discouraged because I don’t know how to fix things – short of seeking some outside help, which also discourages me.

This parenting thing – it was my sole desire – and remains my foremost joy – but damn, is it difficult – and discouraging.

Quote for the day:  Little children, headache; big children, heartache.  ~Italian proverb

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Words


While reading through my students’ home writing journals this week, I came across an entry by one young lady that listed “Words I’d be willing to get rid of” and “Words I have to keep”.  Her list was simple but I came away with a much deeper understanding of this student than I had before. 
HA – inspiration!  So I will be borrowing this brilliant idea from her – credit goes to Audry!  Thank you for giving me another list to make:

Words I would be willing to get rid of ~

Cancer                        War
            Violence          Addiction
Insincerity      Superficial
            Loneliness      Poverty
Injustice         Orange           Fear
            Evil                  Maggots          Hunger
Revenge         Catastrophe   Testing
            Chores

Words I HAVE to keep  ~

God     Blue    Family             Friendship
   Loyalty                     Love
            Pie       Harmony        Health
Books              Canyon                       River
            Sun                 Gratitude
Dog                 Peaceful         Blessings
            Vacation         Understanding
   Ocean          Summer   Comfort
            Sport
                        oh . . . and       WRITER (of course)

Many, many more to add, but this will have to suffice for tonight.  What words would you keep?

Quote for the day:  Better than a thousand hollow words, is one word that brings peace.
                                                                                                            ~Buddha 

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A No Good, Horrible, Very Bad Day


It’s been a day of frustrations!  Let me summarize:

Morning

Last day of State Testing, temperature outside = 80 degrees, temperature in my classroom = 87 degrees (third day in a row).  Boiler is broken – 4 emergency work orders called in – still no response.
Sorry kids – I know it’s hot – try not to sweat on your tests.
Windows open – doors open – no help.
No, I can’t define that word for you, I’m sorry.
No, I can’t spell that for you.  Do the best you can.
Two kids absent – will have to take make up tests.

Midday
Go to Constituency meeting; discuss items brought up at the last Instructional Council meeting.
No, we can’t do anything about the janitorial situation:  one is out on bereavement leave, the other rarely comes in and when he does, he doesn’t do his job (nor does the one who is out).  This has been going on over 20 years with this guy.  The school is filthy.  Head janitor is retiring this year and has given into the frustration of having to do the job of the other two janitors – so he has refused to help in any way this year – won’t help move furniture, won’t attend to his own job responsibilities.  This building is on the National Historic Register – but is probably in violation of all kinds of health and safety codes right now due to the lack of any proper janitorial care.
No, the state legislature did not pass any of the horrible “reform” bills geared at education and teachers this session – but there is always a way around that.  We have an Education Secretary who has no degree or experience in the field of education and no classroom experience at all.  She still has a “designee” status because the Legislature has not confirmed her (more than a year into her job) – but she is allowed to continue to work and make policies that affect teachers and students.  Because our state received a waiver of NCLB, the Governor and Ed. Secretary can implement many of the horrendous policies that the Legislature just voted down, without anyone’s consent.  (I don’t claim to understand this all, but I do know that it is not good for any of us).

Realization that I am now in charge of Master Schedule committee and I have to replace the teacher who left last year suddenly dawns on me.  We are a small school and most teachers are already over-committed.  Who the h_ _ l am I going to find to fill this spot in just a few weeks?

Afternoon
Go home.  Begin to make phone calls to try to schedule appointments for both my daughter and me with specialists to whom we have been referred.
Yes, we can make that appointment – the first available is the end of May!
            Oh dear, but my daughter’s pediatrician really wants her to be seen as soon as
            possible.
I’m sorry – that’s the best we can do.  Do you want the appointment?
            Well, yes, OK.  She has to be seen.
Fine, let me get all your information and you will have to give us a credit card number ahead of time in case you cancel this appointment with less than 24 hours notice – you will be charged $50.00.  Will this be a problem?
            What?  I’ve never had to do this before?
Yes, it’s a new policy.  Do you want the appointment or not?
            Well – OK – she HAS to be seen!!!

Husband, upon finding out I gave out credit card # to make this appointment:
            YOU DID WHAT?  WHAT DO THEY NEED THAT NUMBER FOR?  THEY DON’T NEED IT!  I WOULD NEVER HAVE GIVEN IT TO THEM.  NOW THEY HAVE ALL OUR INFORMATION…(and on and on).
He shouldn’t have yelled – but he does have a point – Whoever heard of such a thing?  But I can’t undo my mistake.  I feel dumb.  I cry.
My efforts with the orthopedic specialist I need to see about my thumb (about which I previously blogged) are not much better –
Yes, Dr. B. can see you – at the end of MAY.
            Oh, well – you see, my Dr. really wanted me to be seen in the next few weeks.
Well that is the first available appointment.  Do you want it or not?

Late Afternoon
My superhero power of invisibility kicked in at this point.  I stopped at Walgreens for a quick errand.  Needed a pick-me-up – so went to get a diet soda from the fountain.  Stopped in front of the machine and reached for a cup. (At this point I became INVISIBLE).
A woman slides up next to and then in front of me.  To her credit, she said “Excuse me” but then proceeded to take the cup I had been reaching for, stood in front of me to fill it with ice and soda, stepped aside to get a lid and straw and cut in front of me to leave.  My jaw just dropped.  My son witnessed the whole thing.  I asked him afterwards if he could see me!  He could.

Invisibility continued as we drove to tutoring.  Giant red truck cuts me off in order to get into my lane.  Had to SLAM the breaks to not meet up with his back fender.

Pick up daughter from track practice.  Her problem with leg and arm (for which she needs to be seen by a specialist) was really bad today, she informs me.  Her symptoms are beginning to really worry me.  So is the fact that she was referred to a neurologist.  Yet – she can’t be seen for TWO MONTHS!? 

Evening
Arrive home to find that dinner is – well – not present. My husband, the one who yelled earlier – also makes dinner, or most of it, every day since he works nights and is home during the day.  Except – just not tonight.  Guess we’ll be eating strange leftover things from the refrigerator.

I am a “big picture” person.  I try very hard to not “sweat the small stuff” as they say.  I work daily to not stress out about things.  I’ve been pretty successful at this!  I focus on the moment and I look for ways to be grateful all day, every day.
But – today, the stresses won.  I have a muscle tension headache coming on.  Will have to medicate!
Yep – today got the better of me.

Quote for the day:        I try to take it one day at a time,
                                    but sometimes several days attack me at once.
                                                                        ~Jennifer Yane

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Songbird Haiku


I realized I have a very busy schedule after school and into the evening today, so I will rely on a favorite poetry form to get by (as well as RE-posting yesterday’s slice, since I got around to it quite late last night – check it out.)


A songbird’s morning
call, distant yet fair and true
makes the day sublime


Quote for the day:  The poetry of the earth is never dead.   ~John Keats


Monday, March 26, 2012

Kona


Velvet fur
Golden eyes
Dappled brown and black
Happy barks
Protective growls
Ball-chasing, face licking
Tail-wagging friend

Rolling on your back in the grass
Chasing a stream of water from the hose
Flopping on the floor directly in my path
Pleading eyes, cast downward
Then furtive glances
    See me, I’m here, don’t forget
          I love treats
Hunting down your squeaky toy to drop in
my lap or taunt me – play, play, play with me
Cheese-eating, peanut butter slurping
Silly girl

Watching carefully for that first sign that it’s time ~
   Yes, there it is – the collar, the leash, my Dad
Let’s go ~

Coffee colored joy
Leaping, bouncing, rolling, howling
Singing your hellos as I walk in the door
Racing, jumping
Water lovin’, car ridin’
Mass of zeal

Chocolate mound curled at the foot of the bed
Whispered whines of merry dreams
Love, pure love
From her, for her
Kona, my Kona
My Kona Blue






Quote for the day:  I think dogs are the most amazing creatures; they give unconditional
                        love.  For me they are the role model for being alive.  ~Gilda Radner

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Love vs Hate List - Round 2


Having so few “slices” left, I had to think twice about repeating a format I’ve used already, but this is what seemed to be calling to me today.  So, here is round #2 of my Love vs. Hate List.


Ten Things I Hate:
1.  An increasingly sagging jawline – trying to learn to age                                     gracefully, but it’s not easy.
2. Liars
3. Lima beans and peas - no matter how hard my mom tried.
4.  Getting a brand new chip in my brand new windshield the day after it had been replaced.

5. SBA TESTING (or whatever your state testing is called) and the politicians that love them.
6. Not being able to meet my fellow SOL writers in person (at least not yet).
7. People charged with negative energy who perpetually bring others down.
8. The end of summer vacation.
9. Gaining weight – losing weight – gaining weight – losing weight – gaining weight -  well, you get the idea.
10. The end of this Slice of Life Challenge!

Ten Things I Love:
1. People who have obviously been taught manners and who understand the value and power of a simple “Thank You”, “Excuse me” or “You’re welcome”.
2.  The connections I have made with many of my fellow writers during this challenge – hoping to maintain these ties in the future somehow.
3.  Sitting on my front porch with nothing but time, sunshine and a good book.
4.  The color blue – in almost any shade except Baby – my favorite being Cobalt.
5.  My brother – who can still drive me crazy – but who has always been my best friend and who has always been able to make me laugh to the point of tears.
6. My sister-in-law’s lake house in upper Michigan – sitting on her deck watching the kids splashing in the water or speeding by on jet skis, surrounded by loving family, pine trees, laughter, music and stunning views is happiness in its purest form for me.
7.  Good health – priceless!
8.  Warm Dutch Apple Pie a la mode!
9.  A clean house (just not the work that takes to get it that way).
10.  An inky night sky splashed with millions of stars.

Quote for the day:   Nothing can make our life, or the lives of other
                                 people, more beautiful than perpetual kindness.
                                                                      ~Leo Tolstoy

Saturday, March 24, 2012

On the Map


I LOVE MAPS.  I always have.  Geography, as well.  I remember having such a wonderful high school geography teacher – Mr. Anderson.  He played “The Map Game” with his class regularly.  We would be called in pairs to the large hanging map in the room and he would call out in his monotone, nasal-y voice “Find Pango Pango” as his hand slowly swept across his body – a gesture repeated many times per class.  Today, I play “The Map Game” with my students – all year long.  We start easy and get progressively more difficult.  If time permits we move from just the USA to the World map.  They love it.
In college I remember briefly considering a career as a cartographer, but the trend towards digitally created maps was in full swing, and I wanted none of that.  I was compelled by the precision of maps drawn by hand.
I have recently wondered what it is about maps that fascinate me so.  What exactly is the appeal?  Why did I pour over them in the back seat of the car on family vacations?  Why do I stop to soak up the beauty of a particularly elegant hand-drawn map?  Why must I immediately look up the location of a place unfamiliar to me?
I’m not sure I’ve really stumbled upon the root cause of my infatuation, but here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

•Maps are first and foremost a work of art to me.  Whether they be drawn or computer-generated, I find the colors, forms, designs and even textures to appeal on many levels.  I especially love the old maps with their weathered yellow paper, over which beautiful sketches of boats or sea creatures float.  Some even have scenes painted along the borders of gods and goddesses, birds, stormy seas.  Their creative charms demand attention and appreciation.
•Maps tell a story – and for those of us drawn to literacy in all its forms – who could pass up a great story.
•Maps represent a sense of place to me.  Everyone has a home somewhere – we can find ourselves and connect to our home or roots through maps.  We know we BELONG in the world.
•There is order and structure to most maps – neatly defined borders, clearly labeled locations, symbols explained in keys, ornate compass roses pointing directions, roads and rivers that lead somewhere.  I am drawn to this organization as I am to most orderly, organized things.
•Maps appeal to my natural curiosity of cultures and traditions.  I studied International Business in Graduate School, and focused on cross-cultural communication.  The languages, customs, apparel, beliefs and ceremonies of the peoples of the world enthralled me.  Maps invite me into these other cultures to explore and learn and journey.
•There is a sense of mystery and discovery inherent in maps for me.  What might that place look like?  Where does this river lead?  Has anyone been to the top of that mountain?  Would I like it there?  What stories does this place hold? Maps pique my curiosity and spark my imagination.
•Maps depict connections.  Roads connect.  Cities connect.  Regions connect. Landmasses connect.  Oceans and seas flow into one another.  Mountain chains ignore man-made boundaries.  Ultimately we are ONE.  We belong to each other.  Our future depends on one another and our lives can only be enhanced through the connections we make with one another.

I love maps….

Quote for the day:     We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our
                                    exploring will be to arrive where we started and know
                                    the place for the first time.   ~T.S. Eliot 

Thursday, March 22, 2012

A Million Thanks


My friends – this is how I felt after reading each kind comment on my last post:


Sustained

Affirmed

Challenged

Supported                              Encouraged

Cared for

Loved                          Valued

Reminded

Listened to                 Acknowledged

Understood

Helped            Embraced

Inspired

You all brought me to tears.  I have never had so many people offer up the wellspring of support and good wishes I received from you – and to think this came from people whom I have not met.  I cannot begin to express my gratitude – You lift me up!  I feel closer to this global community of writers than I do to anyone I can see and touch (outside of my family).  I was not unhappy – quite the opposite, in fact.  But now I soar!  Thank you and thank you and thank you.


Quotes for the day:     Strangers are just friends waiting to happen.  ~Rod McKuen

                                    We can only be said to be alive in those moments when our hearts
                                    are conscious of our treasures.  ~Thorton Wilder

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

SOLO


            I have put off writing this post as long as I can.  The SOL end is near.  I know I have to write this because I need to get these thoughts out – for myself – just myself.  I also feel marginally safe sharing with this community – and maybe some of you will have some insight or answers.
            I hesitate because…I am afraid that exposing what has GOT to be some sort of character flaw will cause others to think less of me, or have pity on me – and this is NOT NOT NOT what I seek.  I have wallowed in enough self-pity to last multiple lifetimes.  AND, I have worked VERY hard to improve myself, change my thoughts, be proud of who I am.
            Here’s the deal – I have no friends.  NONE.  This may not seem like a large thing to many.  But it has consumed me.  I am in my early 50s and friendless.  This is not a new occurrence.  This has been my reality for as long as I can remember.  I have had many “friendly acquaintances” over my lifetime.  I might even have called some of them friends – but they all eventually moved on – not even necessarily to other people – they seem to maintain their ties with their other friends – they just seem to move away from me.  (Perhaps that is a warped viewpoint – it is so hard to look at any of this objectively.)  I have colleagues, long distance connections with others, family – but no friends.
            I have struggled with my want of a true friend my entire adult life – as far back as middle school.  I was always initially shy, a bit of a wallflower, and a tomboy.  Most of my early “friends” were guys because I enjoyed their company and conversation.  But I was not a guy so I was still on the margins.  My mother always told me “to have a friend you have to be a friend.”  I was not good at that in my teen years.  Shyness and poor self-esteem made it almost impossible.  But I finally found a niche in Choir and made some temporary friends. In college, this trend continued.  Find a group – meet some nice people – fade away.
            I have a loving and large extended family, and a good husband and kids.  But what I have always longed for is a true friend – one who is in it for the long haul, one who is loyal and trustworthy, one who seeks me out rather than vice versa, one who wants to spend time together, who calls, who joins me for coffee or a movie or just comes over for a visit, one who offers support, genuine care, unconditional love.  A girlfriend.  I marvel at others who speak of their friends of ten, twenty, forty years.  How does this happen?  What must this feel like?
I have always regarded my solo status as MY FAULT.  I must be doing something wrong to put people off.  So, many years ago I consciously made some changes.  I tried to appear happier (I tend to wear a more serious expression), I put myself out there, I smiled and acknowledged others, I complimented, praised, asked questions about other people’s lives.  I showed interest.  I worked on my self-esteem and began to realize my value, talents, potential, worth.  I joined groups.  I called people.  I watched their kids.  I invited them to dinner.  I offered help.  I made an effort.  None of it has worked. 
            So now, I rely on my loving family.  I am content.  Yet, I am left with some nagging questions.  Outside of my family interactions, I am a loner.  I have learned to enjoy my own company.  But am I this way because I have no friends, or do I have no friends because I am a loner?  Perhaps I expect too much from others?  Perhaps I need to redefine what a true friend is?  Perhaps my best efforts were not actually good enough?  I know that I don’t try so hard anymore – but isn’t this self-defeating?  When does one throw in the towel, however?
            I stress that I am not looking for sympathy or pity or accolades from others. What I could really use is some concrete answers.  Why is it this way?  Is it just me?  Is there something I can change even yet?  Do I have blinders on to an answer clearly in front of me?  OR, is this just the fate of some people and I should continue to just be grateful that my family loves and supports me?  I REALLY, HONESTLY would like to know.
            However, I no longer count on answers.  At my age, I have come to terms with this situation.  Now I focus on more important issues.  I look for the beauty in life.  I seek new knowledge.  I look for new opportunities.  I cherish my family.  I live in the present moment.  I try to be grateful every day.  I wake up everyday and count my many blessings – one of which is finding this amazing group of supportive writers.  I am so grateful for each of you who have taken the time to read my posts, to make loving, thoughtful, inspiring comments, to offer support and kindness.  Even if I never hear from many of you again after this challenge is over, I want you to know that the support of this group has given me the confidence to move forward as a writer.
I AM fine, and happy – but I can’t help feel my life could have been so much richer if only –
            Perhaps this is why I love dogs…

Quotes for the day: 

She is a friend of my mind.  She gather me, man.  The pieces I am, she
                                    gather them and give them back to me in all the right order.  It’s
                                    good, you know, when you got a woman who is a friend of your
                                    mind.                          ~Toni Morrison, Beloved


            The bird a nest, the spider a web, man friendship.          ~William Blake

State Testing - UGH.


                                  There once was an SBA test
                                  That claimed it was simply the best
                                  At measuring progress
                                  Of kids under duress
                                  Can’t we give testing a rest?


I’m tired and at a loss for writing topics at the moment – so here is a short limerick this morning before Day 2 of our State testing begins.  Only Day 2 and I’m already weary…

Quote for the day:   Sometimes the littlest things in life are the hardest to take.
              You can sit on a mountain more comfortably than on a tack.
                                                          ~Author Unknown

Monday, March 19, 2012

Double Stuff Oreos


            We were driving home today – my son and daughter in the backseat snacking on junk food I admit to buying them:  Doritos and Double Stuff Oreos.  The Doritos you can have, but I confess a weakness for double stuff Oreos.  They are my all time favorite store bought cookie.  I can’t eat just one – so it’s dangerous for them to be around me.  I had already had one too many while waiting for Ben to be finished with his tutoring.  So anyway, there we were driving home and I hear from the back:

Daughter:  What??  You don’t twist?
Son:  Huh?
Daughter:  Twist!  You don’t twist your Oreo when you eat it?

A smile spread across my face in the front seat.  This should be interesting I think.

Son:  What do you mean twist?
Daughter: Twist the top off of your Oreo.

Now I have no idea how Ben eats his Oreos but he obviously DOES NOT twist.  I glance back to the two as my daughter demonstrates “the ONLY way to eat an Oreo” to her brother – twist off the top cookie, pop into mouth and eat.

I continue smiling and shake my head. 

Mom:  Then what do you do?  My daughter then starts to lick the double stuff slowly.

Daughter:  Like this.  Unless it breaks, then you just eat it all.  This is the way to eat Oreos.
            Anything else is just…sacrilegious!
Mom:  Nope!  That’s not the way I do it.
Daughter:  How do YOU do it? (obviously appalled). 

I reach back for one more cookie.

Mom:  First you eat the top cookie by taking small bites of it (demonstrating as I speak).
            Then you scrape off small sections of “stuff” with your teeth and let it melt in your
            mouth.  Unless it breaks, then you just eat the whole thing.
Daughter:  No way!  You’ve GOT to twist.  It’s the only way.

We were all laughing by this point – a welcome relief to the way we normally end our days - and it got me thinking about all the various ways there might be to eat an Oreo.  Are there as many ways as there are to eat corn on the cob?  What does your preferred Oreo eating method say about you?  Not deep thinking – but fun, nonetheless.
So – How do YOU eat your Oreo?

Quote for the Day:    Humor is the great thing, the saving thing.  The minute it crops up,
                                    all our irritation and resentments slip away, and a sunny spirit takes
                                    their place.                 ~Mark Twain

The Search for Delicious


One of my favorite books is Natalie Babbitt’s The Search For Delicious.  This small story was not an award-winning novel, unlike some of her other books.  Nevertheless, it has all of the elements of a great story for me and I’ve used it as a read aloud book in many of my classes.  The genre is Fantasy – one of my favorites.  It has mermaids, and adventure, horses,  queens and kings, Prime Ministers, a quest, an evil brother, a whistle, and fantastical creatures.  It is captivating from beginning to end.  I will try not to give away too much if you have yet to read it, but essentially the plot centers 12-year old Galen who is sent out into the Kingdom to collect each subject’s personal definition for “Delicious”.  The choice with the most votes would be put into a dictionary the King had ordered to be written.  There is great fighting and mayhem over how each person defined “Delicious”, exacerbated by evil plots against the King. 
I love the plot and the wonderful concept of having to come up with one definition for a word that lends itself to many.  I often have my students create a “Delicious” dictionary after reading the book and we always enjoy reading each other’s personal choices for “delicious”.
Thinking on this idea led me to this post – what would my definition be?  Try as I might I could not come up with just one – there are SO MANY delicious things – and since I am working hard at no longer limiting myself in any way (except perhaps in my caloric intake), I decided to make a list of some of my choices for “delicious” ~

Delicious is…..

•a hot summer day, lounging on the beach next to an ocean
•a warm kiss from a soft dog
•good friends gathered for dinner and conversation
•good health
•a brand new book just waiting to be read
•a brand new journal just waiting to be filled up
•new car smell
•new baby smell
•holding hands
•a tall glass of iced tea with lots of lemon on a warm day
•a clean house
•a fresh from the oven chocolate chip cookie
•Freedom
•a loyal friend
•Motherhood
•cello music
•falling in love
•old gospel hymns sung in church
•a bunch of tulips

Of course, this is just a start to my delicious list…..  I may continue on another post. 
Anyone want to take a shot at this – I’d love to hear what your definition(s) would be!

Quote for the day:  Most men pursue pleasure with such breathless haste that they
                                hurry past it.              ~Soren Kierkegaard