Glacier National Park 2010

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Happy Christmas!

As I sit quietly sipping my morning coffee, fingers of sunlight stretch over frost glistened roof tops....I imagine squeals of excitement as children spy beneath the tree unimagined gifts from that jolly old elf himself. And I remember Christmases long past stretching all the way back to my childhood...each memory warms my heart.

When my children were small, I tried so hard to make each Christmas magical for much so, that by the time Christmas morn dawned I was a frazzled mass of nerves.  If I had only known what I know now!

 We had our own traditions for the Yuletide season....the children opened their first gift the night we put up our tree and it was always an ornament chosen with much love to reflect some aspect of their personalities....after Christmas these ornaments were packed into their personal Christmas box, destined one day to decorate their own holiday tree.  On Christmas Eve, we joined the aunts and uncles on their father's side of the family at GranGran's house....the table groaned with all the holiday foods traditional to the South.....turkey and dressing, ham, ladyfinger peas, Aunt Vickie's delicious white corn casserole, sweet potato casserole, green bean casserole, and I won't even list the desserts.

Of course, the children hardly ate a bite so intent were they on the gifts piled beneath the tree. Their father and his brothers regaled us with tales of their childhood....sometimes all talking at the same fact, we once set up a video camera to capture the scene.  Upon later viewing, we realized that everyone was talking at the same time and we couldn't figure out who was listening! Eventually gifts were exchanged and much laughter ensued.  Here there were traditions as well....someone in the family was going to receive a frozen fruitcake....which they were pass on to some one else the next Christmas....and yes, I believe that same fruitcake is still being bestowed upon some lucky soul....if not mistaken, the cake has been passed around for the past ten years....never opened or tasted....just re wrapped and re gifted.  There is also a mismatched pair of male socks which is re gifted among the men in the family.

Christmas morning dawned so early! Our rule was no one got up until they smelled the coffee brewing and the Sister Schubert's sausage rolls cooking....then and only then could the children make a mad dash for their stockings.  One never knew what kind of craziness Santa had placed in the stockings.....I think at times the children enjoyed the stocking stuff more than what was under the tree.

Then there was the mad dash to get everything and everyone ready for our Christmas celebration at my parents'. Once again we stuffed ourselves with yummy food and then on to the pile of presents.  Of course, that particular part of the day was not without its pitfalls...I remember one Christmas when the pet dachshund had climbed over the gifts, knocking tags off.  My mother quickly replaced the tags on what she was sure were the correct gifts....imagine our surprise when my husband opened his gift to find several pairs of lacy ladies underpants! It was our first married Christmas...welcome to the family!

Traditions are wonderful things until the maintaining of those traditions makes one lose sight of the really important things....time spent with the ones you love and cherish.  My advice to those who wear themselves out physically, mentally and financially trying to make a 'perfect' Christmas for everyone...stop it! Quiet moments spent watching old Christmas movies....or making a batch of favorite cookies....stretching out on the floor with your child marveling at the lovely Christmas tree....these are the times that matter.  If you aren't enjoying these moments, then it is time to give your idea of a 'perfect' Christmas an overhaul.

That being said, Merry Christmas.....slow down and enjoy it.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Great To Be An Auburn Tiger

War Eagle! War Eagle! War Eagle! Who would have believed it? Even as die hard a fan as myself would never have believed my Auburn Tigers would have climbed so far in just one year's time...but they have done it....and as I have always said, it is great to be an Auburn Tiger!

Sports writers across the country are calling them a "team of destiny," but that is not what I see....instead, I see a group of young men who have come together as a 'band of brothers' if you will.  They have become family....a family that works and plays together.....sticks together through the bad, remember last year?...and strives to be better.....and it has paid off. This year they are playing for a National Championship title.

Each week, each game this season, I enjoyed watching the camaraderie grow and develop. Yes, they became better as a football team, but I enjoyed seeing the encouragement these young men gave one another.  It was a lesson to matter how tough things get, encourage the people around you...and life gets better. I liked knowing that these young men had also learned that working hard pays off.....that success depends on a strong work ethic....not on hand outs.

So, I'm proud of these Auburn Tigers....but not just because of their winning season....but because they never gave up....

It is a reminder to me that when my life seems to be imploding, I should NOT give up.....continuing to work hard, staying on track, listening to my 'Coach' who has my life game all planned out, will eventually bring good into my life......

Thursday, November 28, 2013

My New Motto

Thanksgiving morning! So many much to be thankful for....and a decision made, to live thankfully every day!

This month I have seen many friends on Facebook posting daily the things for which they are thankful.  Reading them was a reminder of all the blessings one can be touched by....and also, a list of the ways one can spread the kindness. Now, more than at any other time, I see a pressing need for all of us to reach out in love, in kindness, in friendship to the people who are cohabitants of this planet with us!

There is a saying, "good things come to those who wait," which I've decided to change a order to fit the way I want to live.

"Goodness comes to those who wait for God's plan to unfold...."

The past several years have been filled with lessons for me from a God who has proved over and over again how much He loves me.  To be honest I've not always 'waited' patiently for His plan to unfold...but I'm beginning to see how much better it works when I do! For example.....

My relationship with my daughter has always, always, been a tempestuous one! And after my divorce, it became even more difficult.  As I've said before, there were times when I doubted we would ever share the kind of relationship I have always craved.  Well, guess what?! My 'baby girl' spent the night with me last night....and we've spent this morning laughing, drinking coffee, and preparing food to take to my parents' Thanksgiving dinner.  I had a chance to share family recipes and cooking 'secrets' with my soon to be married daughter....and it made my heart so glad!

Many sleepless nights filled with tearful prayers coupled with a loving, caring God have brought me what I so wanted.....a sharing, caring relationship with my only daughter. So my new motto is true and works for me.....

"Goodness comes to those who wait for God's plan to unfold....." especially because I know that God is always with me, even when I'm impatient.......but I'm getting better.

Monday, November 25, 2013

A New Focus

Since my last post, I have tried to view people and situations from a more positive slant.  It has truly helped.  And I have been witness to several "mini miracles," which helped boost my morale....which in turn made it easier to go to work.

And like I've said before, blessings take many sizes, shapes and forms! Quite a few this week have come in the form of First and Sixth Grade students who attend a peer tutoring group I'm in charge of and which meets every morning before school at 7:15. A group of our Sixth Grade Beta Club students serve as mentors and tutors to ten struggling EL students. I have been impressed with the enthusiasm and dedication the Beta members have shown toward the task. They have taken to heart the idea that they are role models to these younger students and show up every morning eager to work.

As for the First firs,t there was hesitancy on their part.  After all, Sixth graders can be awfully tall and sometimes communication is difficult because of language barriers; however, smiles and high fives can say a lot. It has been amazing to watch the friendship and trust grow between the two groups. Some of the young ones who, at first, wouldn't say a single word can now be observed chatting happily with their mentors.....some have gone from knowing less than five sight words to being able to recognize nearly 100! The growth of self confidence in these sweet children is heart warming.

I must confess that when asked to head up this program and to change the focus of my job from assisting in writing instruction to targeting At-Risk EL students, I was less than enthusiastic. Quite honestly, the resentment was my way of handling the rapid fire changes going on around me...I felt that I was being punished....for what, I don't know....and pulled away from the thing I enjoyed the most....which was encouraging students to embrace writing as a means of self expression.

But you know what? Those changes came from my God, who knew there was a need somewhere else and that He wanted me to be part of meeting the need.  My anger was born of focusing on what I wanted rather than what God wanted for me. And He always knows what is best. Because, after all is said and is His Plan.

So, now I am beginning to look forward to getting to work each morning....who wouldn't when there are 10 little six year olds waiting with big smiles and lots of hugs eager to hold my hand as we walk toward our room? It gets even better when the "big kids" greet their little buddies and the fun begins....yes, I said fun. Because to all of them, learning has become something to be enjoyed and shared.

Yep, God has a Plan and when I manage to stumble back onto the right is good.

Sunday, November 17, 2013


I've been away from the blog far too long and for that I apologize.  Changes affect people in different ways.....for me, as long as they don't come at me all at once I can assimilate and move on.  Otherwise, I am an emotional wreck and prefer to withdraw from everyone and everything...including my writing. Hence my absence.

As with many changes, these have been beyond my control and are all work related. Without going into detail, suffice it to say there have been lots of changes and they've all come at a machine gun pace....with more changes promised.  Morale among the staff is at an all time low and the demands on our time have grown.  Our focus has always been to meet the needs of our students academically with a lot of love and hugs thrown in.  It still is.

My biggest fear is that the stress and turmoil is wreaking havoc on my health and that I will eventually lose my job because of it. I am reminding myself moment by moment that no matter what happens, God is watching out for me. He is going to meet my needs....not wants, needs.  I have only to trust in His promise.

Some moments I want to rant and rave and shake my fist at the Heavens because fear of what may happen overtakes me. Then I remember, it is during times like these that miracles happen...and a sense of anticipation fills my heart and I think, "What is God going to do now?"

Rather than focusing on the negative emotions, I need to actively look for the bright moments, the silver linings, the tiny miracles.....all those instances which cause light to pierce the darkness I've pulled around life is meant to be lived in love, understanding, peace, joy....all those emotions which bind us together rather than push us apart. Pray for me to have the strength to live that way daily.

Monday, October 7, 2013

"God Just Hears a Melody"

I heard a song on the radio that touched my heart.  It's a song by Amy Grant and I'd heard it before...but this time the chorus resonated within me. Perhaps because of what I'd been dealing with mentally, emotionally, even physically, it just struck a chord.

"We pour out our miseries
 God just hears a melody
 Beautiful, the mess we are
 The honest cries of broken hearts
Are better than a Hallelujah..."
When one fights pain and the accompanying feelings of depression on a regular basis, it is easy to feel like a whining baby.....or that God is tired of hearing it! There have been times when I've felt that perhaps my failure to handle things better is a sign of a lack of faith.....believe me I've often questioned my own value in God's eyes. I mean, how can I consider myself a woman of faith when I falter in my spiritual walk so frequently?
For me, Ms. Grants' lyrics put it beautifully,
"We pour out our miseries
God just hears a melody..."
My sadness, my pain, my fears when offered to God, become a beautiful song. Why? How? Because He loves ME! God wants me to turn to trust allow Him to comfort me. That is a thing of beauty.
It can be easier to offer up shouts and words of praise when life is 'good'....meaning pain free, sorrow free, conflict free...than when it is a constant struggle. My 'misery' poured out to God on a daily basis can be so much better than a 'hallelujah' offered up during the good times. Don't get me wrong! I also offer praise and thanksgiving for all that He has done in my life....continues to do in my life even when I falter.
The bottom line for me is constant communion with my loving God is so much more healthy than only praising Him for that in my life which is obviously good. It took a long time to learn that lesson! And sometimes, it takes a song on the radio to remind me of what I've learned.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Sense of Purpose and Self-Worth

As some of you know, the past several weeks have been difficult for me on so many levels....pain and depression dogging my steps daily. This past weekend I confessed to my daughter my sense of worthlessness, my feeling that my life lacked purpose.  And I did this knowing these feelings are coming from a darkness fed by my pain isn't real or true or accurate.....there is just no strength within my self to fight it.

As so often happens when I find myself struggling with these issues, foundering in a once familiar dark place....God steps in and shines His Light so I can see more clearly. His encouragement comes in many forms....sometimes from people who aren't even aware that they are an instrument of God's Love. That has been the case the past week or so. Of course it took me a while to realize it....I can be thick headed at times.

The first incident took place during a discussion with a person whom I respect highly.  He was asking my feelings about changes he wanted to make in a film with which he is involved.  The reason he came to me was because, as he put it, "you're a writer and you would be able to tell if it makes sense." The fact that he considers me a "writer" sent a spark of happiness through me, because although I think of myself as a writer, it means something entirely different when someone else sees me as a writer!

Then yesterday a friend and former coworker dropped by school to see everyone.  We had the chance to visit over lunch which was really nice. She is a person I have always admired and respected.  In fact, I can remembering meeting her for the first time when she was my daughter's teacher and thinking how much I would enjoy having a friendship with her! Anyway, during the course of our visit yesterday, she mentioned that she enjoyed reading my 'ramblings." And being in the mood I've been in, I asked if she was saying that just because she was my friend or were my writings really any good?  She reassured me that the things I write about are enjoyable and encouraging....and that self same happy spark flared through me once more.

Because of the comments of two people whom I know in varying degrees, I felt my sense of purpose returning. God can use me just as He uses others....I am worthy of His love and in turn worthy to be His instrument.  Writing brings me such peace, such joy and knowing that God can also use it....well, that is just icing on the cake.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Fighting the Flare

I have a bit of down time here at school which doesn't happen often.  The students are busy writing their vocabulary list for the next unit in history....I think I'll catch up on my blogging!

When last I wrote I was in the midst of a major pain flare.....bad news is the flare continues. The good news is the intensity of the pain has subsided somewhat.  That is not to say it has faded to the barely noticeable stage, however; I no longer feel like crying with every breath. Dealing with the constant pain is keeping me exhausted......and if one has never experienced a fibro flare then there is no way to explain it. Suffice it to say, I wouldn't wish it on my worst enemy.....well, maybe just for a few hours.

It is not unusual for depression to accompany an intense pain flare....this time was no different....well, that's not entirely true. The depression was as intense as the pain....I cried every day....driving to and from work, tears would be streaming down my face.  The crazy thing was I didn't really know what I was crying about exactly.  Was it the unbearable pain? Maybe...but coupled with that was loneliness. I longed for someone to sit quietly with me, holding me gently, murmuring words of comfort....someone to give me emotional support. The weeping was just another indication of how hard it is to be alone especially when dealing with any kind of hardship.

The pain itself has begun to fade somewhat and that usually signals the fading of the depression.  But this time is different....the loneliness hasn't faded.  I am reminded that this may well be my state of being for the rest of my life.....and I don't like it.  My confession is that I would like to be a part of a couple who does things together....who has their own inside jokes....or special songs....or memories of special moments.....someone who is there for me as I am for him......unfortunately, I imagine that particular ship has sailed without me.

So....what happens next? I honestly don't know. What I do know is that I will not stop living my life just because I make the journey alone....rather, I will work hard to adjust my thinking.....focusing on what I do have, not on what is not there. I've got to treasure those simple pleasures once more.....and make sure I do that every single day of the life I'm given.


Friday, September 13, 2013

Hear My Prayer

It has been a rough week my friends! My health issues have pushed themselves to the forefront of my consciousness and I don't like it.....don't like thinking about them, dealing with them, having them!

Being a diabetic, I keep a careful watch on my blood sugar levels. I check them at least four times daily, and sometimes more. Over the past week my sugars have bottomed out on several occasions which left me feeling awful! Imagine feeling nauseous and not wanting to eat, but knowing one's sugar levels depend on eating proper food at proper times....yeah, that's what its been like.

On top of those issues, I'm dealing with a horrible fibro pain flair!  The worst I've had in ages and ages.....and it has made me angry and difficult to be around.  I'm really trying hard to work through all this but am not making much progress. Being an optimistic person in general, it is usually easy for me to see the bright side of any given situation.  This week, not so much.

I just don't have the strength right now I think. And don't know any thing to do about it but pray. Tough thing is I'm not even sure what to say any more.  There was one other time in my life when I felt this way.....I had a devastating miscarriage and afterwards didn't know how to ask God to help me.  Words wouldn't come....all I could do was weep.  I remember laying in my bed day after day unable to move, the tears coursing silently down my face while I struggled with how to word my plea. At one point, I remember whispering "God....God....God." For months, His name became my only prayer.....and you know what? He heard me and healed my hurting heart.

There is a Scripture which tells us that He knows the desires of hearts....and in my case, that proved true.  Without the words He knew what I wanted, what I needed, and as promised, He took care of it.  Now finding myself in a place where I don't really know what I want or need....where I can't voice what I don't know....God hears me.  My responsibility is to let Him handle it because I know that is the only way I can deal with all I am facing this week. So my prayer once again becomes one word....God....God...God....and as before He hears me.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Its Game Day!

Today is Game Day and here in the South that can only mean one thing. Football games are being played on college campuses every where....and I love it! And I am fortunate enough to live in SEC country which is arguably the toughest group of teams in the nation as evidenced by the number of BCS titles won over the past seven years. An SEC team has won six of the last seven games with five of those games won by teams from my home state!

Some may find it odd that a female is so enamored of college football but for me it is a normal state of being.  My love affair with the game, and more specifically with the Auburn University Tigers, goes back practically to my birth.  My Dad attended Auburn and while there, our little family lived in Graves Apartments there on campus.  I can remember hearing the rousing cries of "War Eagle" on game days as my Mama pushed the stroller outside the stadium with my sister in the seat and me standing on the back.  Daddy had a little brown football which when you turned the little key would play the AU Fight song. I loved to sit in his lap and sing along..."War Eagle fly down the field, Ever to conquer, never to yield...." it will always be a special memory for me.

As I grew up, I learned the game by playing football with the kids in the neighborhood and watching our local high school team on Friday nights.  I can't really explain why I grew to love it so much....maybe it is the combination of happy moments spent with Dad cheering for his college alma mater and the rousing games played in yards throughout our neighborhood along with a healthy dose of traditions and pageantry often associated with the games.

There is just something about seeing that golden eagle soaring around a stadium filled with fans roaring in unison, "Warrrrrrr Eagle! Hey!" before all the home games which stirs the blood and lets me know, regardless of the wins and losses, that I am part of a great history. And I'm sure other SEC fans have their own traditions which excite and unite them. I even have my own "game day" traditions.

I have an orange AU Tiger shirt that I wear. On that shirt is my War Eagle button. And even though I may be sitting all alone in my apartment listening to the game on a borrowed radio, I will be waving a somewhat bedraggled orange and blue shaker and feverishly flapping my "fan clapper and sipping from my Auburn glass!" I will pace nervously when the game gets tough and I will cheer wildly for every touch down. For those four quarters of play I step away from my day to day struggles.....I forget about my health issues....the state of the world.....all those things which can drag me down....and the tension is gone. 

The battle fought on the football field is tough and exciting and nerve wracking but I am merely an observer.  Unlike my  life, my involvement is from a distance. My responsibilities don't impact the outcome of the game.  I can relax and leave those responsibilities and choices behind.  Maybe that's why I enjoy the game.....its a rough and tumble, pageantry filled respite from life's worries and cares
Time to put on my game day shirt, grab my Auburn cup, shaker, clapper, and relax. War Eagle everybody!

Saturday, August 31, 2013

The Joy is Back!

Two weeks of school under my belt and I am feeling just the tiniest bit more excited about my job...again.  It was touch and go for a while.  Our wonderful little school still has no principal....of course, our school system still has no it is no wonder we all feel a bit unsettled. One of my co-workers likened it to working in a circus with no ringmaster. I found that to be an apt description....lots of clowns running around, wild animals growling and roaring, trapeze artists with no net...yep, that's us!

Even amidst the chaos, our teachers are working so very hard to make sure their students receive what they need in the way of academics and moral support.  And those precious students move blissfully through the day laughing, smiling, making new friends and saying some funny stuff! One never knows what is going to pop out of those mouths.

Because of my summer film adventure, I still had very dark, okay very black hair when school began. Needless to say the hair color caused quite a few comments from returning students of all ages.  Let me share a sampling.

"You look kinda like Ms. Thompson who worked here last year." Maybe because I am Ms. Thompson who worked here last year.

"Did you 'died' your hair?" Ummm....yes, how could you tell?

"Why did you dye your hair?" I was in a film this summer. "So now you're rich?!?" Absolutely! I'm just working here for fun...snort!

"Are you a 'bampire' now? 'Cause you kinda look like one...'cept you don't have no blood leaking out of your mouth." That is exactly the look I was going for!

And my all time favorite, "Didn't you use to have white hair?" Sigh, no, it was blond.

Despite the behind the scenes turmoil that comes from having no 'ringmaster' to keep our 'circus' flowing smoothly.....the uncertainty over what happens next.....I am beginning to find bright moments in my work days once more.  True a lot of the joy comes from interaction with my students but as I've always said, I work with a great group of people.  We are all in this craziness together and most of the time there is someone to step in and say, " Hey I know its tough but you are doing a great job! Hang in there because it is going to get better."

At the end of the day, we are still a family of educators looking out for the best interest of our children.  We still do whatever it takes to help them not just feel successful but be successful in their  journey through life....not just academically, but mentally, emotionally, socially.  It is simply what we do.  

Friday, August 16, 2013

Confession Time

Confession time.....for the first time ever, I'm not excited about school beginning....I know right?! Perhaps it is because of where I am emotionally, spiritually....but I definitely feel I need to be doing something else. What I should be doing is any one's guess! This week only teachers and staff are back in the swing of things, getting rooms ready, sorting textbooks, all that "housekeeping" kind of stuff......and I am miserable!

There is a knot of anger and resentment inside me that I am trying to dissolve.  Those feelings are not helping me and only serve to make me unsuitable to be around.  I do know from where those feelings stem however.  At our school system's opening day ceremony all the principals introduce new staff.  As I sat there, already somewhat depressed, I heard the names of THREE new English teachers announced....THREE.  And I had not been called to interview for any of said the system where I have worked for 16 years! It was a real slap in the face.

I have jumped through every hoop.....done extra work.....even worked early morning duty every single day for the school year.....developed a writing program......taught writing.....all for an aide's pay.  And still, I'm passed over for teaching jobs.  What am I doing wrong?

I know! I'm not trusting God to take care of me......not trusting that He knows where I need to be and what I need to be doing....right now.  It is because I'm so impatient....I want things fixed now...I want that teaching job now....I want my book finished and published now....I want to lose 20 pounds now...but as we all know, life does not work that way. My new mantra is going to be, "good things come to those who wait." And I'm definitely going to have to put some concentrated effort in learning to wait. Not just for those "good things" to happen...but for wisdom and understanding to recognize the "good" when it doesn't exactly fit my definition.

As always, God has a perfect plan for me, for my life. I just have to continue to trust in Him.  Its amazing that the knot of anger and resentment I had allowed to build up is slipping away....and I feel that peace only God can give welling up inside within my heart., all much better feelings to have and share, don't you agree?

Thursday, August 8, 2013


My heart is full
My mind racing,
Jumping in and out of memories, dreams, desires,
Not able to find a place to land.
Wanting only peace but finding instead
Chaos, uncertainty, upheaval

"This too shall pass"

Tears flowing
A river of longing
From deep within
Blurring the path before me.
Choosing paralyzes and

"Good things come to those who wait"

And so the choice is made.

I will wait

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

A Brand New Day

Every year before school starts, I have a routine with which I prepare to ease back in to the daily grind. Because I use the summer months to stay up late watching movies or reading the novels I've saved for this very purpose, I have to make a concentrated effort to get back in the swing of getting up with the sun.  It is not easy and gets less easy as each year goes by. For the past few days I've made  it a point to set my alarm for my normal "get up its time to go to work" signal....all this in an effort to acclimate my mind and body to school day far its worked fairly well...until about one o'clock in the afternoon. Then it is as if all normal, rational, cognitive thought flees and all I can think is, "I want a nap!"  Those who teach know that napping is not allowed...even for five year old children....wasted instructional time.

So for the past few days I've gotten up earlier and earlier....and something amazing has happened!

 Let me back up.  As I sometimes do when things are going focus drifts away from my spiritual center....I mean, after all, I'm doing fine, right? Will I never learn? And gradually, I lost my way a bit.  The past few days have been stressful on an emotional and spiritual and physical level because there were changes I had to make....ideas, thoughts, even dreams I had to let loose, give up, move was so hard because it was all so comfortable, so safe, so familiar......but in the long run, not good for me.

And because I've gotten up earlier and earlier....God came to me in that quiet time before the day really begins, before the sounds and movements of life drag at me into action.....and gently showed me what I needed to do.  I argued with Him....but less this time than last because I really am learning a little bit.....He wrapped me in His peace and I bowed my head and let go.....of all those unhealthy things in my life.  I've had to do it before. The first time just barely a year ago.....and it came after great pain.....but brought such joy, such peace. Each time since has been less painful more freeing and ultimately such a blessing.

I think I will maintain that getting up early routine year round.....because until I've learned all He needs to teach me, and He takes me up in death....I need the love and guidance of my Maker and Creator each and every day.  And for me, I need to meet Him in the early morning of every day in order to stay on the path He has chosen for me.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

It's a Wrap!

Finally a moment of peace after two very hectic weeks!

When last I wrote, my film just begun. And now, the film has "wrapped" and I can reflect on the experience.  It was exciting, exhausting, invigorating, and certainly kept me on my toes! There is so much more to the experience than just learning your lines and showing up.  The nitty-gritty business of putting together a film is so much more.  We dealt with pouring rain and the noise of semi trucks roaring past the location site on our first day. Not to mention a furiously clucking chicken who was determined to become a part of a dramatic moment.....and who laid an egg at our feet to prove it. Its true! I couldn't make that up! Then there was the scene in the woods with hundreds of tiny black bugs scurrying away each time I took a step....and the mosquitoes, mustn't forget them! Despite all that....there was the magic....

Yes, it was have a group of people, some of whom I'd never met, come together with a common goal and work tirelessly to make it happen. There was whole hearted effort and dedication from everyone involved. And there was kindness....and encouragement....and support....and was amazing.  If asked to work with this group of people any capacity...there would be no hesitation on my part.  They taught me so much....not just about making a film...but about the goodness which resides in the hearts of people.

During those brief down times, we shared our lives with one another. Little by little small bits of our histories were revealed and hopes, dreams were put on display. At one point it occurred to me that despite the differences in our ages....the sound director was born a year after I graduated from high school...we were still very much alike. One evening...very late...after a long day of filming at two separate locations.....everything seemed funny and giggles erupted at inappropriate moments....and it was okay. We took a collective deep breath and continued....because we all wanted the story to be told perfectly. As our director reminded us, the fact that the more and more families are being impacted by Alzheimer's every day needs to be shared.

The entertainment industry has flooded us with the images and ideas of a zombie apocalypse becoming part of our future. During this project, my son and I discussed the reality of that happening. We are already there..... those with the severest form of Alzheimer's live a zombie like existence...and there's not much to be done about it....for now. I encourage everyone to support their local Alzheimer's Association any way possible.....and reach out to those who are the caregivers for family members with Alzheimer's.....they need our help as well.

Yes, I've rambled on...but the story told by this film touched my heart deeply. My only hope is that anyone who sees it will be touched as well....and moved to become an active participant in fighting this disease.

Thursday, July 18, 2013


Oh my goodness! Filming begins the day after tomorrow and I am more nervous than anticipated.  This is really happening...and soon.

Its funny but you would think as many plays as I have been many times as I've spoken before large groups of people....I still get "stage fright." Never fails and doesn't stop until I take that first step onto the stage or utter my first line then it is as if I am another person, in another place and all is well. Kind of thought it would be the same with filming. Not so much apparently.

I'd been alright until Tuesday.  The day was full what with production meetings and rehearsals...and my appointment with the hairdresser.  And since sleep has been an elusive commodity, my day began with a nagging headache. The meetings went well as did rehearsal. I left rehearsals and rushed home to grab a bite of lunch before my hair appointment.

For those of you who are unaware, I am a blond, albeit with liberal amounts of silver and grey sprinkled amid my tresses.  Because the actress who plays the younger version of my character has very dark, almost black hair, the director decided my hair needed to undergo a transformation.  For the first time in my life, I was to become a brunette.  Hence my appointment with the hairdresser.

I never gave it much thought just sat down and put myself in her hands. There is a special kind of trust between a woman and her hairdresser.....I've been to the same woman for at least 20 years and trust her judgment regarding my locks implicitly.  She's never let me down.  Therefore, I should have paid more attention as she talked and tried to prepare me for the change I was about to undergo. Instead, I closed my eyes and just went with it. 

Friends let me just say, God never meant for me to be a brunette! The woman looking back at me from the enormous mirror....never realized how big they were!....bore very little resemblance to the person who'd so glibly agreed to having her hair colored.  I looked haggard and ten years older than I am which will please the director because I am playing a character who is much older than I am. As I stared at my reflection I could hear my hairdresser saying, "please don't cry....we will make it lighter once filming is done....its not that bad."

My thoughts were, "put me in all black attire, paint my nails black, add a few piercings and I could be some one's Goth granny!" Seriously.

 I've been wearing a baseball cap when I have to leave my case I run into someone I know.....sigh. But really, it is alright.  If anything, the experience has served to remind me that no matter what I may look like, on the inside I am still me. This is true of anyone.  The world would be a much better place if we dropped our preconceived notions and allowed ourselves to get to know the inner workings of those whose lives intersect ours for what ever reasons.....letting acceptance instead of judgment color our thoughts. 

Maybe today I'll leave the baseball cap behind as I run my errands......and let my cheerful smile be  what people notice about me! After all, that will be a much more accurate indicator of the person I am.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Saying,"Yes to the Dress"

Ah summer! That time of year we look forward to with such anticipation....and it simply flies past! I always have such great plans for my free time....but I'm learning that life doesn't always proceed according to one's plans. And that's OK too!

This week my mother, my daughter and I went shopping for a wedding gown.  Three generations with three differing opinions of what constitutes a beautiful wedding gown....a recipe for disaster? With the plethora of wedding and bridal shows on television...."Bridezilla" and "Say Yes to the Dress" immediately spring to mind....the idea of feuding family members and spoiled brides seems to be the expected! I was determined that was not to be the case on our quest for the perfect dress!

Like most bride's, my daughter had been perusing bridal magazines and various websites to get an idea of what was available in the way of bridal finery.  And in the course of her research had developed a definite idea of the type of gown she felt would be the 'perfect' dress for her special day. It was fun to get emails saying she'd posted a new photo on her Pinterest wedding board! I loved seeing what she'd found. Of course there were budget constraints....which quickly eliminated some of her choices.  Being ever practical, her attitude was, 'why fall in love with a dress if we can't afford it?' Smart girl my daughter!

The day of the shopping trip I fortified myself with three cups of coffee and lots of prayer! My goal was to make sure this day was all about the bride....what she wanted....not what I or her grandmother wanted.  If she felt beautiful, that was all that mattered! So I wiped any preconceived ideas from my brain and sat back prepared to be supportive of any and all choices. Armed with a list of bridal shops within a fifty mile radius, we proceeded to the first on the list.....a local shop where we actually had an 'appointment.'

I have to say, the people in the shop were amazing! We were made to feel as if they were as excited about my daughter's wedding as we were. And it was nice that the young woman who waited on us was also someone my daughter had known and like in high school. She did an outstanding job of keeping the focus on the bride's wants and was encouraging and supportive to her as well. Between the two of them, a selection of gowns was chosen and the fashion show began!

When my daughter stepped out of the dressing room, my breath caught and time stood that moment, memories of my baby girl came rushing and swirling through my heart.....images of the tomboyish little girl refusing to wear the prissy bows in her hair....she and two friends grinning from ear to ear and covered in red mud from head to toe....and as she grew, headstrong and determined to maintain "her style" regardless of what the fashion of the day was.........and there she stood, tears sparkling in her eyes, literally looking like a goddess and all I could do was nod.

I will hold that moment in my heart always....the moment my little girl became the woman she was destined to be....strong, elegant, beautiful in a classic way.....and perhaps most importantly, true to herself.

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Moving Along My Path

Whoosh! What a week! I've been focused on trying to get my apartment organized....ha!.....those who know me will understand that I've tried to become more organized all my life! Because I find so many things interesting, I have a multitude of plastic storage bins in varying sizes to hold supplies for whatever project has captured my attention.  Let it be said that I eventually finish the projects.....eventually being the key word.  It only took me two years to complete my son's crocheted blanket in his university colors. That is progress, right?

While trying to make sense of my chaotic spare room which until yesterday looked more like a giant storage closet....I've also been trying to educate myself on the finer points of acting in a film.  Although I've had years of experience on stage and feel fairly comfortable is somewhat different.  So I've had to replace all that knowledge about projection, movement, and rules of performance.  Very subtle movements speak volumes on film I'm told, as do facial expressions and the pace of the dialogue.

Then there is the subject matter of our film....Alzheimer's Disease and the impact it has on the patient and all those around them.  Our director has been diligent in his research and has shared much of what he has discovered.  Becoming more knowledgeable about this disease has helped me to begin to develop a character who is believable, which I feel is crucial to the success of the film.

I share this because many believe that those involved in a play or a film simply show up, "act" the part and go home.  For myself, that is far from the truth. If one is unfamiliar with the subject matter or the type of person they are portraying, their portrayal can appear stilted or like a caricature.  Once I'm cast in a role that character is in my head 24-7.  Once I've learned my lines, I work on the inflections and pacing, all the while trying different vocal inflections and adding gestures and movements until, at least in my mind, I am that character!

Its funny but someone once asked me what I liked about acting....then, as now, I like the thought of becoming someone else, at least for a little while. For me, it can be likened to going on holiday from the life I live, my personality, everything that is wrapped up in being me.......once the play or film is complete, I go happily back to the comfort of the familiar. Having been someone else for a while, I appreciate what I have and I think, in a way, it makes me more sensitive to those around me.

Do I dream of becoming a famous film star? No, not really. For me it is enough to have the chance to try new things, to know I'm not too old to learn, and to realize there are always adventures waiting for those who are ready to try them.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

A New Adventure

Its been such a busy summer so far....and looks as if the hectic pace will continue.  I spent a lovely three days relaxing in Mobile with my bestie...lots of laughter, a few tears....when two people have been people have been friends as long as we have, there are lots of memories to talk about and relive.  Most of them have been very good but, as with life, there are sad, heart wrenching times as well. I'm just grateful to have someone in my life who sometimes knows me better than I know myself.

I am at that certain age when my past is much, much longer than my future will be.  When one gets to this point it is easy to think the time for new adventures is coming to a close.  As a youngster, one feels invincible....there isn't anything one can't do! But as one ages and the body...and mind...slow becomes easier to simply think of the things not done, not tried. This week I found that the old saying about old dogs and new tricks may not necessarily be true!

A couple of weeks ago I received an e-mail asking me if I might be interested in auditioning for a part in a short film. The director had seen my work in a stage production several years ago and thought I might be right for a role.  Having never done any film work, I was a bit hesitant. I mean, after all I knew nothing about movie making! But the actor in me said, "give it a shot!" So I said sure I'd like to audition. Almost immediately I was assailed with a case of nerves and doubts about my acting abilities......negative self-esteem rearing its nasty head again. But I confronted my dragon of doubt and decided this would be an excellent learning experience. After all, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

I was emailed the lingo....I needed to be familiar with for the screen test....more movie lingo.  MoMe helped me learn the lines....and I dug into the whys and how's of who this character was, trying to bring her to make her real, not just words on a page. Want to know a little secret? Bringing her to life brought ME to life!

Long story short.....I auditioned for two roles actually....and then waited. I'm not certain how many people actually read for the role. It doesn't really matter. The next day I received a phone call asking if I would take the role of the female lead! Would I?!?! To say I was overcome with emotions is an soon as I hung up the phone I burst into tears.  Although I had told myself that just being asked to audition was enough, deep inside I wanted that part desperately.

For me, it was a validation of sorts. Those who know me understand how much I love where I do hasn't given me many opportunities to pursue that love....but when opportunities arose I took them.....didn't matter if I was the lead or someone in a crowd scene....I gave it my all!

To be chosen for this film said, you may be older but you still have the ability to grow and learn and experience new things! And I needed to be assured of that, especially at this moment in my life. This old dog still has a few tricks to learn!

Sunday, June 9, 2013

The Value of Little Things

It is a cloudy, rainy day. Amazingly it is cool enough to have the windows and doors open....which anyone who has ever lived in the South knows is a rare occurrence in the summertime.  By this point in June we usually see temperatures in the mid and upper 90's with a heat index which adds misery to every occasion not including a swimming pool. 

I haven't blogged much since school much to do! Finally finished the tree mural to the satisfaction of the client.  During that process I learned much about myself.  For one, I will not assume I can't take on a painting project of any size and magnitude. And I also won't say there are things I cannot paint....the cute little owl in the tree will attest to that.  I had nightmares about painting the requested creature....but when it came down to it, I managed.  It wasn't perfectly lifelike but it fit into the somewhat whimsical scene quiet nicely.

Because of said project, I've decided I quite enjoy painting...even though I have much to learn about the process.  Now my plan is to undertake developing my skills and my style by painting images I enjoy.....images which make me smile. It is like I tell my students about their writing, if you like what you write that is all that matters!

There are lots of projects I want to start...and finish...while I'm on summer break.  I also want to travel a bit....not far or for very long because I'm still on a very strict budget....but I need to renew my thoughts and ideas.  Seeing new places...meeting new people...all serve to give me more to ponder, to write about.  As I am on a journey to discover who I am and what I am capable of, staying cooped up in my tiny apartment tends to narrow my thinking and cramp my creativity.  And we cannot have that!

Until I win the lottery or become a famous writer or will let short trips to unknown destinations refuel my think tank.  One thing I've learned over the past year is that small pleasures have as much value to me as large, extravagant ones.  Each new day is filled with opportunities and possibilities.....and of course, experiences for which I am thankful.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Being a Child of God

As I sat on my porch enjoying my coffee, I thought about how blessed I am.  There was a nice, gentle breeze blowing....the sun was just barely peaking above the rooftops and it seemed as if the songbirds were having a convention in the trees nearby.  Everything around me was bursting with life.  I could almost feel the goodness.  And then a wonderful stillness stole over me.  It was as if I could feel God's Hand smoothing the worry lines from my brow....His Touch was in the breeze which lifted the strands of hair off my neck....His Song was in the melody the birds so joyfully sang....and His Warmth shone from the rays of sun kissing each plant on my porch.

How blessed to be His Child and to know His comfort and love, to know that no matter what is happening in this world, in my life.....He is there. 

I am still so thankful for the prayer said for me by another child of God nearly a year ago.  Had she not listened to the urging placed in her heart by God, and stepped forward to pray for me in such a powerful way, who knows what course my life might have taken?

That being said....always listen to that still, quiet voice resonating within you.  If God is urging you to step out of that place of comfort and reach out to someone, then do it! Always follow His lead because He needs us to be His instruments of love and peace and encouragement in a world full of sorrow and pain. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Life is Good

Things have been going well lately....a few bouts with pain but not the mind numbing kind....the school year is almost over, 3 more days for teachers....the mural I'm working on is progressing nicely...I was feeling pretty good.  Then......

Yep, I woke up and couldn't open my left eye! And the right eye was aching. I stumble into the bathroom and there in the mirror I see reflected what could be a character from "The Walking Dead!"  Once I wash the crud from around my eyelids I'm greeted with a blood red eyeball on the left and a pinkish one on the is a raging case of PINK EYE.  Of course that means I cannot go to is highly contagious I'm told.....and as I discovered when I stepped out to water my plants, sunlight makes it really hurt.  Not to mention the lets do mention itches terribly!

Several of my dear, precious students have come to school recently sporting the same red eyed look only to be sent right back home.  However, they have already exposed their class mates (and teachers) to this malady.  Several years ago I suffered through four separate bouts of this yuckiness.  Until today I thought perhaps I'd developed an immunity....alas, it is not to be.

On the up side, I'm not sick per se....just suffering ocular discomfort.  This means I get a day at home to catch up on laundry and paperwork.  I've been a little too tired lately to take care of those things adequately....working all day and painting all weekend eats up the hours. It feels nice to have time to catch my breath.

As I said, the painting is going well.  The client is so pleased with the results, that he is already talking to me about doing something special for his youngest daughter!  Thankfully, it will not require a scaffold to complete.  Maybe I will be able to supplement my meager salary with a few painting jobs....we'll see.

Also, I've been hired as a tutor for two students! Those jobs won't actually begin until the end of July but I'm really pleased.  One parent has already said she wants to reserve time for two sessions a week beginning in July and going on into the school year.  The other parent wants one session a week and perhaps two once school begins.  Those two jobs will really help especially with my daughter's wedding approaching....I want to help her as much as I can.

The wedding plans are progressing nicely.  She's booked a photographer and we're meeting with a prospective caterer next week.  The cake tasting will be the week after that.  Then the search for the perfect dress begins. Methinks I will be a busy bee all summer. But I am enjoying the time with my baby girl, so much more than she'll ever know.

To think that a year ago I was a wretched mess and felt myself drowning in darkness.  When I let God step in, He did a wondrous thing.....and He continues to do so.  Of course I stumble....quite a lot...I'm like a toddler learning to walk in a minefield! But God is right there guiding me and healing my hurts.  He puts friends in my life to offer love and support.....He corrects me when I'm wrong....but most importantly, He never lets me forget how much He loves me.

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Pleasures of Growing

What a long week! We had our annual testing marathon at school....the kids seemed relaxed and prepared.....the teachers seemed relieved for it all to be over.  Although we still have 9 official days left of this school year, plans are already in the works for the new school year!

I'm just ready for a break...some relaxation time....some mornings when I can sleep past 5 a.m. and slowly enjoy my morning coffee.  This summer I plan on doing lots of relaxing. However, I also want to do more writing....MoMe gave me a book about writing a novel which was put together by the people who do the Annual Novel Writing Month....and it has given me some great ways to organize my "novel" thoughts, so to speak.  Some of my time will be spent writing.  And some of my spare time will be spent developing my painting skills.....

My mural painting adventure is going rather well.  It has turned into a much bigger project than anticipated but I am having so much fun! I painted individual leaves for three solid hours and it felt like only moments...except for the fact, my feet were totally numb and I could hardly climb down off the scaffold.  There is still so much to do....But I can hardly wait. The funny thing is I have so many ideas in my head now....images to paint. And it doesn't even matter that I have no clue how to paint some of will come to me.

It is so amazing to be my age....which according to my students ranges from 25(my favorite) to 87(not so favorite)....and still have the desire to learn new skills, have new adventures, travel to new places.  When I was oh so much younger, it would never have occurred to me that at my age I would feel this way.....but I do.  More importantly, I'm glad I do....because it means that my daily battles with pain have not slowed my desires to grow and learn and experience.....nor has it limited my belief that I can actually accomplish all these things!

It has been a long, somewhat stressful, and pain filled week.....but I have enjoyed it all.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Life is a Whirlpool

"I'm so dizzy my head is a whirlpool it never ends...."

My head really is spinning because for some reason I'm having trouble with my inner ear! Yesterday was dreadful...I stood up and the room tilted dramatically....and then there was the nausea....yuck.  Today is somewhat better.  As long as I can touch the solid when I walk...then the room remains stationary.  When seated, if my head is pressed into the back of the chair or sofa, then I am or rather my vision remains steady.  I have to be anchored in some way.

What an apt description of my life! To remain upright and steady, to travel on a straight path, I need to be anchored to something solid and steadfast. And I know this how? Because for a good part of my life I wasn't anchored to anything and my life reflected it.  I was constantly unbalanced by troubles and problems which of course I "handled" by myself.  As a result I often ended up flat on my back with tears running down my face.

My anchor is my faith.  My faith is in God. Although simplistic, it works for me.  Of course there are those who would question the simplicity of it.....argue with my reasoning....whatever.....because they want to "understand" or more often than not, they want to "prove" to me how wrong I am.  But here it is, my faith is just that, my faith. I do not have to prove it to you or anyone else for that very reason.  You have to discover your own faith has been grown through a multitude of trials and yours must be, if it is to work for you.

Start at my beginning in God......then and only then will your faith begin to grow.  Use God as your anchor in this ever spinning world of choices, trial, tribulations, etc.  He will keep you steady.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

To Be Myself

Is it just me or is this week moving at a snail's pace? 

The painting project is off to a good start.....though it is physically more demanding than I had anticipated.  Having to climb up and down the scaffold to reach the limbs put stress and strain on muscles I didn't know I had....even now three days later I feel twinges of pain in my arms and back.   Even so...I cannot wait to get back to it!

I began painting the sketch I had done on the wall....but with my music playing in my ears I felt a freedom to move beyond the preplanned penciled lines.  I felt the branches flowing from the end of my brush....I never wanted to stop painting.  If my body had not protested as it did I would not have stopped. I wanted to make the branches reach around the walls all through the house....and I wanted to add a stream and birds and flowers and....just create my own little paradise....all on the walls of that house.

It probably wouldn't have been what the client had in mind....but I would have loved it.

Maybe that is why the week seems to move so slowly....I can't wait for the weekend so that I can add to the mural...see more of it come to life....and in doing so, allowing more of myself to grow. There are so many things I want to experience before I die.  Painting was one of them....painting without comparing myself to any other artists.....I am my own person with my own style, ideas, and passions.  And I am learning that to be me is the best way to honor my God and Creator.....after all, He made me!

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Becoming An Artist

I'm beginning a new adventure today!  Some of you know I like to draw....well, make doodles on paper actually...hahaha! Someone saw some of my Tangled images and has hired me to paint a family tree mural in their home! Crazy right? I'm both nervous and excited!

Nervous because it is a really big project....a 12-14 foot "family" tree in the landing of the staircase. Don't get me wrong. I have always longed to just paint images on the walls of my apartment....although the management would strongly disapprove! And now I'm actually going to have the opportunity to create something huge!  I've done preliminary sketches and gotten input from the client who has a definite vision in mind.....made some modifications.....done the preliminary drawing on the surface to be painted and I begin painting!  Huge butterflies in my stomach!

Of course, I'm also nervous because I do not want to disappoint.....this tree is special because the client wants it done as a surprise for his daughters who will be arriving the first part of June to spend the summer with him. And his girls mean everything to him!

My excitement comes from being able to take my drawing from my mind to paper to blank wall.  To be able to turn a bare stairwell into a vibrant image of the growth of a family makes my creative juices flow!  Maybe this will turn into something for me....a side job which allows me to take all those creative thoughts and turn them into images which reflect the joy I have inside. It would be so much fun to add some whimsy into unexpected places.

It is kind of neat to know I have a relatives who was an artist who also painted on walls so to speak.  Of course, he painted frescoes in churches in Italy which is a little different from what I'm attempting.  He also was a famous portrait artist having painted a portrait of Queen Elizabeth II among others.  I don't have his skill but I like to think we share some of the same passion.  I had the privilege of visiting him in his studio in Florence when I was 18....a memory I cherish.

For now, I will simply put my passion to work creating something which will bring joy to a father and his daughters.....that will be enough. For now....

Friday, April 26, 2013

Celebrate Where You Are

Today our school had our own Earth Day celebration....I know the official Earth Day is April 22...but we needed a full day for programs and stuff.  Our First Graders presented a wonderful program of music peppered with narrated wisdom.  To see those sweet young faces glowing with excitement at the thought of performing for parents and other students was heart warming.  Our Beta club students shared the performance they did at the State Convention and our show choir performed their last show of the year.  Everything was done in out Outdoor Classroom under the sunny skies.

Lots of parents and grandparents came and shared picnic lunches with the students before the performance which is always crazy fun.  It was sad seeing the Sixth graders who will soon be moving on to Junior many of them started here as kindergartners.  Watching them grow into poised young men and women is a joy.....I'm glad so many of them choose to come back and visit us as they progress through the rest of their school years......they are part of our Pinedale family forever!

I know earlier this week I was doubting my career choice and feeling depressed because I felt as if I had wasted so many years as an aide hoping to eventually be hired as a teacher.........and being passed over for so many positions the past three years. But looking around today, I know I've been where I needed to least up until this point.  Only God knows what He has planned for me beyond this moment......and because He loves me, I know it will be perfect.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

A Party of One

Sitting here alone...and feeling lonely.  When I was first divorced and had moved into this apartment....I quite often felt both alone and miserably lonely.  As time passed, I grew accustomed to being alone and the loneliness gradually eased.  There was no time to be lonely.  I worked two jobs and went to school at night and tried to find my new place in the life I was now living.

Nowadays I don't often feel the loneliness I did least not as often.  But today...tonight....the loneliness is tangible.  It is as if the loneliness sits with me in the quiet of my home and reminds me that although I have my precious children....they are building their own lives.....and I have friends who are as dear to me as family....they also have their own lives.........yes, I am reminded that being alone is my lot in life. 

Sometimes I need my space and being alone is acceptable......but knowing that I must be alone even when I do not want to hurts my heart.  Because deep inside I want to be part of a pair....part of a have someone to love and cherish and who will love and cherish me......someone to laugh with and cry with and grow old with.  The difficulty for me now is accepting my loneliness and adjusting my dreams to include only one.....myself.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Brief Thought

Last night, for the first time in a relatively long time, the fibro monster reared its ugly head.....and sleep did not come easy.  As a result today was difficult for me....the pain was one issue I dealt with along with children anxious for school to be OVER....and rescheduled grade level world is topsy turvy.

And at a time when I should be filled with joy at all the good things in my life, I feel depression tugging at my coat tails......maybe depression is the wrong word.  Quite suddenly I feel no sense of purpose in my life......I find myself questioning whether I am in the right profession? Am I impacting my students in a positive way?  Perhaps there is another field where I might do more good......but I cannot imagine switching careers at my age........and so my thoughts went today.

It is highly probable that these thoughts are simply the result of fitful sleep and the resulting pain. I have no time for slows slows my attempts to limit what I want to accomplish with the time I have left......and that angers me.

Friday, April 19, 2013

Strength and Comfort

Do you ever have days when you are simply mad at the world? Times when it seems that every aspect your life has gone completely haywire and you can't seem to find the off switch? All those negative emotions.....depression, tension, anger, worry, doubt,........seem to intensify until there seems to be no way to stop that downward spiral?

That is exactly where I am at this moment.

Why in the world would I share this?  Because I know that I am NOT the only person to ever feel this way.  Just as I know those of us who hit these lows, manage to find our way to our happy place eventually.  Sometimes it helps to know, I am not alone in this struggle.....I'm not and neither are you. 

There are those who would throw my faith in God in my face during these low times....asking where's your God now?  My response is always the same......He is where He always is myself that has changed...that has moved away from my Source of strength and peace.  Why do I do that????

The answer is simple......I allow myself to be distracted by my day to day struggles, choosing to deal with them on my own, letting God handle the BIG problems.  And you know what happens....every single time?  My day to day, seemingly insignificant problems, start piling up.....they begin occurring at a more rapid pace than I am able to deal with.....and before I know it.....they have become a "big" problem! And I have to let God handle it any way.

How much more sensible would it be to just let God deal with all my issues....moment by moment and day by day?  I've never been accused of being sensible....maybe I should try it once in a while.
I know I don't enjoy this feeling of my life being out of control....of being angry over things about which I have no control.  The need for a good, hard, soul cleansing cry is becoming more apparent as each moment if you will excuse me, I'm going to put myself in the ever waiting arms of my loving God and let Him wipe my tears as I draw strength and comfort from Him.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

The Wedding

The wedding planning has begun! And I am slightly overwhelmed by the number of details one must attend to in order to have a successful event.  My respect for event planners and coordinators has increased dramatically.  My daughter, her fiance, her Dad and I met this past weekend to discuss some of the myriad of details which must be decided upon.  It lasted 3 hours and at the end of that time.....we had a date.....a venue... a photographer....a florist.......and a list of caterers to call. Nothing has been finalized except the date and venue.....everything else is contingent upon availability.

Do you know how far in advance you need to begin in order to have everything fall in place the way one envisioned?  Neither do I apparently....

Nor did I realize how quickly a small wedding turns into a much larger wedding.....very quickly.  Initially I'd thought, with help from friends and family, I'd be able to put together a sweet, romantic wedding for my daughter. That is not to be.  As such, caterers, florists, photographers all must be addition to audio/visual organist and workers....the list goes on.

I now have in my possession a "wedding notebook" in which I record every thought I have about The Wedding!  It goes with me I can record where I saw "wedding bubbles" for sale and for how much.......or places to look for that ribbon we need in that extra special shade.....or menu samples from caterers....One just never knows! This morning I found three more silver hairs on top of my head.....natural aging or results of the The Wedding?  You decide.

It will all come together....eventually.  And all that really matters is that in about ten months, my daughter will become the wife of the man she loves and who loves her.......

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Future Plans

What a wonderful week!  Spent 3 1/2 days with my best friend...rested....did lots of thinking...enjoyed the time away.

There is this sense deep within me of a change coming....not sure what shape it will take...but it is coming.  Sounds silly doesn't it? I'm sure it is all tied into the fact that my one and only daughter is now engaged to be married. Although it has only been one week, things have already begun changing.

The best change so far has been the time I've spent talking, texting, being with my daughter.  Its as if we are finally becoming friends in addition to a mother /daughter combo. There has been a fence between us since she was junior high age....the fence became a wall during my divorce. But the wall slowly started coming down about a year brick at a time. This week we've talked or texted daily, have gone out to lunch, have laughed and cried together. For me, it has been glorious.

One thing I've learned this week is that putting a wedding together will be fun....and torture. I never knew how many tiny details have to be decided and decided upon before a wedding can actually happen.  First and foremost has been to decide on a date.  Sounds easy right? Nope. After a great deal of talking and checking of calendars and schedules, she thought they'd found the perfect one had a birthday, there was no national holiday, etc. Perfect.....and then....

We started talking about her younger brother's work schedule at Auburn University...he works as a videographer for the football team....and I decided to double check the football schedule. If you are from the South then you understand how crucial that is in the Fall.  And when we did....oh my goodness! The date we'd thought so perfect only moments before turned out to be the very Saturday the Iron Bowl is to be played at Auburn University!  There is no way my only daughter's wedding would be scheduled for the Saturday the biggest football rivalry in the South is to be played. I had alternating visions of no one attending or everyone wearing ear buds to follow the play by play during the ceremony and reception.!!! It has happened people.

So now we have gone back to searching calendars, double checking schedules, looking at venue availability. We don't have a date yet but that is okay.  It will be set and then the real fun will begin.  I want it to be a day of happy memories for my little girl and the man who will become my son....and I will do whatever she needs me to do in order to insure that it will be.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Big News!!

Big news! My daughter is getting married....which means I'm going to become a mother-in law....yikes! Having just defined my 'new normal' I find myself having to tweak it a bit. Let's see I am now a daughter, a sister, an ex-wife, a mother, an aunt, a teacher, a writer, an artist, and now I'm adding a new role to the is a bit daunting. Will have to absorb it all and see what transpires.

Let me tell you about the how the proposal went....that's always fun isn't

The first time I met him, he was somewhat quiet but the thing that struck me was the way he looked at my daughter. There was absolute love in his eyes....and five years later, it is still there.  He treats her with kindness and courtesy that isn't forced but a natural part of his personality.  He cherishes her and as her mother, that is what I want for her.  He has been with her through some rough patches over the past five years and says that he admires her strength in dealing with them.....he's also had to deal with her stubbornness and temper and still looks at her with love....a good man.

Fast forward a bit....last Friday he called to speak with me....rather he called to ask for her hand in marriage...which touched my heart.  I know he also spoke with her father but the fact that he honored me with the same courtesy says a lot about the kind of man he is.  He regretted not being able to speak with me face to face...but as he lives in another city the time constraints were difficult. As for myself, the fact that he thought enough of me to call was enough.  You see, since my divorce, my daughter and I have had a very rocky time.....very rough on both of us....but over the past year we've slowly begun building a better relationship.  Although there were times I thought she would never include me in any part of her was devastating.  But we are both in a better place now I think....

Okay enough about that.  On to the proposal itself......he proved himself a romantic in my eyes!  Under the pretext of going to see his relatives, he got my daughter up bright and early to drive to the event...."a family reunion" ha ha.  It is about an hour drive and they had to go through the town where my daughter attended university. Under the guise of needing coffee before seeing the family, he took her to a little coffee shop....the one where they had their first 'date'...yes, I know...romantic.  AND he had one of his cousins staked out to video the proposal!  I know, I know!!  Anyway, he had the ring on top of the cup around a chocolate covered coffee bean....and he went down on one knee and everything......he was crying, she was crying, the cousin was was amazing! I'm crying just thinking about it.

The afternoon became a whirlwind of telling everyone and showing the ring and all the things which go along with becoming engaged.

It would be easy for me to get wrapped up in all that lies ahead....but I've learned to take one day at a time. Making plans for the wedding will come...but for now, I am content in knowing that my daughter is happy and loved by a good man......the other things will come, in time.  My prayers for my daughter have always included her husband to be......and now that he is here in her life and he has a prayers will be more specific.  And as always I will trust God to take care of them both.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

My New Normal

Some days I wake up and think, "I don't know if I can do it."  Putting my feet on the floor and walking to the bathroom saps me and I know a pain flare is on its way. The way I deal with it has changed.  There have been times in my past when I have simply crawled back under the covers and cried as I waited for the talons of pain from the "fibro fiend" to grip me.  That doesn't happen as much anymore.

Today when I awoke it hurt to open my eyes and I thought, "oh crap!" But as I lay there,gathering strength, I decided "not today." I struggled up and began my getting ready routine.  It was hard. I'm not going to lie. But here I sit at work, pretending it is all good.  Maybe if I 'pretend' hard enough and long enough, the pain will pass. Maybe I can absorb all the laughter and smiles from my co-workers and students and it will cause a healing.  Maybe I'll wake up one morning and all will be normal.....

But I cannot wait for normalcy....I have to create my own normal...A normal that includes bouts with pain and the sometimes accompanying depression... a normal which means not always being able to make long range plans because I never know how much energy will be available to me....a normal which means possibly no one to share my life with because of the stress living with health issues can put on a personal relationship.  Those are the negatives in my lets talk about the positives.

In my normal I am thankful for every pain free moment.....I appreciate greatly every kindness shown to me....I have time to really pray for myself and others......I am learning new ways to express myself creatively....I have begun to put a greater value on the relationships I do have with my normal I have realized every moment is to be lived to its fullest potential not squandered in self-pity.  That is something I can do no matter how much pain I'm in....there is always good to be discovered if I only look hard enough.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Spring Break!

It is the week before Spring Break and here at school normal schedules are fighting to remain intact!  The biggest distraction for the students seems to be, of course, the thoughts of the multitude of adventures they plan to have when released from the strictures of studying for one entire week!  Add to that mix, RTI testing, a field trip for one grade level, presentations of the "Good Touch, Bad Touch" program for multiple grade levels....and for the younger students, Easter parties and Egg Hunts.  It is madness I tell you, madness!

Seriously, because all the class schedules are topsy- turvy this week, my schedule is as well.  I say that in explanation of why I'm blogging at this time of the day during a school week.  Am I excited about Spring Break? You could say that.

Some years MoMe and I have the same Spring Break so we try to have a road trip of some sort....our great Montana Adventure was experienced during Spring Break three years ago.  It was awesome!  Seeing Glacier National Park and Yellowstone National Park were both on our "bucket lists" so that is what we did!One year we visited MoMe's sister in Arkansas which was a lot of fun.  It was my first trip to the Ozarks. This year unfortunately her Spring Break falls in April....and mine does not.  Instead of a road trip to some exotic local, I will have a few days by the pool at "Spa MoMe."  It is a much needed respite for me....a time away from home to focus and clear my head.  The first time since my own personal epiphany last summer that I have been able to "get away" and just think.

Do you know how hard it is to think when one also has to go to a job, do laundry, clean and mop, grocery shop, etc? For me thinking in short bursts only serves to frustrate especially when issues are personal ones. And when one is trying to get to the core of who they are, long periods of unencumbered time is crucial!!  No wonder I'm making such slow progress....dirty dishes can be so very distracting...and in the long run much easier to deal with than character flaws which need correcting.

Since there are lots of issues I'd like to deal with concerning my own personal growth and development, I've decided to simply pray and let God put on my heart the issues I need to focus on.  For me each issue is of equal importance with the other.....God knows my inner most heart and is in the best position to guide me.  I've had to hit my knees and prostrate myself before God's Loving Wisdom many times.....and will never stop being willing to do so.  I'm His creation and He's not finished with me yet.....thank goodness.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Positive Thinking

It's Saturday, the sun is shining, I have homemade tomato sauce simmering on the stove and it smells delicious!

It has been a really good week....very few pain issues....lots of good stuff going on.  I've met a new friend and heard from an old friend and enjoyed my friends at school! It just feels good to be alive and I feel remarkably blessed.

Because I work at an elementary school my coworkers are male and female and all different ages and personalities.  Though we don't have much free time at work we do have moments before and after school to converse.  There is one particular teacher with whom I always enjoy discussing movies, books, TV shows, etc.  I tease him and tell him if I were twenty years younger I'd want to date him! He's going to make some woman an amazing husband....anyone out there interested in an intro, let me know! Anyway, he paid me the nicest compliment this week and it really touched my heart.  He told me that I was a rare woman in that I could see beyond what was right in front of me and am able to discuss things "outside the box" so to speak....he thinks I'm smart! Do you know what an ego boost that was to someone with my self-esteem issues?!  Gave me a warm glow for several hours...

That conversation made me realize that I should take more opportunities to tell the people I know that I notice and appreciate their strengths, their good qualities, the often unnoticed nice things they do. We are more apt to be critical of the people around us which does nothing to improve the relationships we share.  Like our wonderful guidance counselor is trying to teach our students, use "I" messages with your friends to resolve conflicts instead of being accusatory.....and I think if we use "I" messages to convey praise and appreciation it can only improve our relationships!

So my goal for the week is to really pay attention to the people around me and to take the time to point out the good I see.....focusing on the positive so to speak....and to praise those positives.  Who knows what kind of effect that praise may have?  Maybe a chain reaction of positive reinforcement....and a world full of people who encourage rather than destroy others.  I'm willing to give it a shot.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

I Will Survive

Hooray it is Saturday! After a busy, pain punctuated week.....that means moments of pain only...yay! it is the weekend. And I am ready to change my pattern.  Because my friends and family have indicated of late that I spend entirely too much time alone and at home....I've decided to get out and about more...whether it be on my own or with a friend.

Big step don't you think? I do and I'm a bit nervous about it.  But I have prayed about it and am trusting in God to keep me strong and focused.....which I know He will. This afternoon I'm going to the park to feed the ducks which is always fun.  It is a breezy partly cloudy day but lovely just the same.

Not sure what's causing it but I feel, well, really alive.....perhaps it is just the three cups of coffee I've had this morning...but it is a nice feeling. I slept with my window open last night and awoke to birdsong this morning and the day is progressing nicely. If I were pessimistic  I'd be wondering when the day will begin to go horribly wrong.....and though it might....I'm more optimistic that whatever happens, I'll be able to handle it. Or rather...I will handle it with God's help and guidance.

True I hit a 'bump' in the road several weeks ago and felt awash with feelings of self-doubt and depression....but I made it past the 'bump' and learned from the hurt it caused. And now I am sure my life is full of possibilities and if I choose wisely then hurt may be minimal......if I lack wisdom in choosing, then my wisdom will grow from the hurt I experience. Holding on to my faith and abiding in God's love, I will survive.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Learning to Abide

At home today....yeah, a "fibro flair" after many amazing weeks without one. Haven't actually been totally pain free but it has been much more manageable....sigh....I did go in to work, did my morning duty....then had to leave.

God is teaching me something I'm sure....because I have so very much to learn about so very many things.

Perhaps He's already planted the seed.  Eight months ago I bought Beth Moore's book Praying God's Word Day By Day and I read it every morning as part of my devotional reading. Today she said, "Help me not only fully accept how much You love me, but help me to abide in Your love (John 15:9.) It started me thinking.

Since that moment eight months ago when I was reminded how much God did indeed love me, I have lived moment by moment, day by day accepting that love. Now I think I need to go a step further....learn to "abide" in His love. But what does that mean?

To abide means to remain, to reside, to continue without God's love. How comforting is that? To God's love, to God's love, to continue without God's love.  In God's total, forgiving, accepting, encouraging, unchanging, nurturing, nourishing LOVE! It is all there for me...and you...and anyone who wants it.

I accept God's love in all its manifestations and from this moment, I will strive to learn how to 'abide' in His love, moment by moment, day by day. It is His gift to us.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Five Lessons

Wasn't sure whether to share this or not but thought, "why not? you've shared everything else?" So here goes.....

Several weeks ago I ventured out into the world of  "dating" for the first time since my divorce....thought I was accepted an invitation for coffee and a walk in the park.  It was nice. Several "dates" later......poof.....over.  I would be lying if I said it didn't hurt....perhaps more than I anticipated.

But I learned some things in the process.....1) the dating game is perhaps more difficult at my current age than it was when I was 15.....and it was no picnic then! 2) I found that I open my heart and trust too quickly which is 3) not wise!  As a result of past relationships, I thought I had my emotions and my feelings tightly locked away in a box with the key hidden in the dark recesses of my heart. Obviously not.

Then again...part of what makes me the person I am is the fact that I want to believe others are as accepting and loving and honest as I try to be. Locking away my heart isn't the answer...not really. Yes, it will keep hurt at bay but at the same time, it shuts out the possibilities of good things happening. Lesson 4) hurt and disappointment often walk hand in hand with love and caring. Doesn't seem I can have one without the I have to choose whether the pain is worth it.

Now, the most important lesson I learned was 5) God is by my side through all situations.....even "dating." Who do you suppose held me as I wept my way through the feelings of rejection, hurt and disappointment? God and Father.  Who whispered in my ear, "its going to be fine....I have a plan for you and this is just a bump in the road?" You got it......the God of Love and Grace. And in my tears I thanked Him again for that prayer warrior who called on Him to lift me out of darkness so many months ago. 

People aren't always what they seem......but I know from experience that God is and for me that is all that matters.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Still Smiling

The work week is halfway over and it has been a good one. The Read Across America activities have been so much fun...for students and staff. Today was Wacky Tacky Wednesday with lots of crazy hairstyles...kind of looked like Whoville in the halls. But what I've enjoyed the most has been the student response to the writing activities.

As I said before, I decided to use quotes by Dr. Seuss as writing prompts this week.  At first the students were not quite sure how to respond....asking questions like "what am I supposed to say"...and "are we supposed to write about why Dr. Seuss said this?"  I finally told them to just read the quote, sit still and let the words just swirl around in their brains for a few minutes....then pick up their pencils and write. And then there was least for some.

A good many were stuck with the obvious meanings found within the quotes and approached their written response in a formulaic way.  But the others....the time the words spent swirling around in their grey matter served to knock loose moments in time...memories which reflected a deeper more philosophical approach to the words of Seuss. And even more amazing to me were the students who responded in that in particular.

Lionel* has been in and out of our school since Kindergarten....attending for 4-5 months then moving into another school zone...another city...another district for a while before bouncing back to us. He has always had difficulty with learning no doubt intensified by the constant movement between schools.  Now in the 6th grade, Lionel is generally content to sit back and coast through his classes not caring whether he passes or fails. There is usually no expression on his face other than one of boredom....such was the case this week at least at first.

The first prompt was "Don't cry because its over. Smile because it happened." Lionel sat for at least half the allotted writing time staring at the ceiling. He glanced over at me. I smiled at him. He looked away, picked up his pencil and began to write. The last time he'd written to a prompt all he wrote was "I dont wanna rite." So I was a bit curious as to what he'd taken half a page to say. Because I move from class to class, grade level to grade level, I didn't have time to read all the papers until later in the afternoon.

When I got to Lionel's half page of scribbled nearly indecipherable words I was stunned. This silent morose visaged student had shared a moment from his life....a painful, personal recollection of a moment of time spent with his father. When I read his words, ..."I felt one tear slide out of my eye and run down my face...." I put my head down and tears for the boy whose life was far from easy....for the memory he had shared.....and for the gift of his written word.

Today when I asked Lionel for his permission to enter his writing on our school blog, he looked at me in surprise. Then one side of his mouth curled up in a half grin as he said, "yeah that'd be okay."

Its moments like that one that keep me doing what I do.

*not his real name

Monday, February 25, 2013

Amazing Grace

I just have to say again how blessed I feel....and how thankful I am for feeling this way. Looking back, I know that a year ago I was not happy....didn't know what happiness was anymore.  I smiled and went through the motions of behaving the way a "happy person" should. In reality, I was miserable and didn't know how to fix myself.

Eight months ago I found the source of my happiness.....I found God and His amazing grace...and He reached inside and fixed my heart. Then I began to learn and grow and develop a relationship with my God. I was like a toddler learning to walk....God the Father held out His hands to me and urged me to come toward Him. I've stumbled and fallen.....cried out in sorrow and grief...and He was there to pick me up.

I learned to be happy with myself......and to have a desire in my heart to be the person, the woman God wants me to be. I am a work in progress for sure! But today, a co-worker commented that she was so glad to see me smiling again and to know I was happy.  That meant a lot. Because I pretended 'happiness' for so long, it was an affirmation of sorts for someone else to recognize that I was happy in a real and true sense of the word..

Its been a long time coming.....thank you God for showing me the way.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Smile Because it Happened

Where to has been a good week.  Honestly feeling pretty good physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally. At school we were all busy preparing for Read Across America Week which begins Monday. The children have had a great time decorating classroom doors in anticipation of Dr. Seuss' birthday.  Next week we will all be wearing crazy hats, eating green eggs and ham, dressing up as our favorite book characters all in celebration of reading. It really is one of my favorite weeks at school.

My friend and I decorated the door of her office/classroom with some quotes from Dr. Theodore Geissell(Sp) AKA Dr. Seuss.  As we worked together deciding on color schemes and which quotes to use I was struck by how inspiring Seuss' words are...and not just for children. Take for example the following.

"You're never too old, too wacky, too wild, to pick up a book and read to a child."

 If you've ever had the experience of reading to a child and seen the wonder in their face as they take in the words and the illustrations,then you know the verity of this statement.  Not only are you sharing in a learning and growing moment with that child; you are also experiencing, if you are willing, the feeling of meeting those wonderful characters for the first time...the Cat in the Hat, Sam I Am, Peter Pan, Cinderella, Clifford the Big Red Dog. And oh the memories you create for that child! I remember very clearly sitting in my Daddy's lap when I was three and four years old and having him read the 'funny papers' or comics from the daily newspaper to me....and I am convinced those special moments are what taught me to read so quickly and to instill in me a life long love of reading.

Another quote which also touched me was this one.

"Don't cry because its over. Smile because it happened."

What a great lesson to learn! I've spent or rather wasted a lot of time crying because of endings instead of cherishing the joy I experienced.  The past eight months I've tried especially hard to live with that kind of treasure each moment for what it is and not waste time worrying about  what the future may bring, whether it be good things or bad. Don't ever doubt that I've had moments of wallowing in self-pity because I have! But as time passes I find it easier to pick myself up and move on from that particular moment.....of course I have Help in the person of a God Who loves me for me....even when I fail.

I may still cry over the pain of 'endings' but I will now make time to remember the good as well....and to learn from both.   

Sunday, February 17, 2013

A Day of Miracles

Today is a day of miracles! How do I know this? Because today is the day I pay my bills....except for rent because it is always paid on the first....but the other stuff.  You know, water, power, phone, tv/Internet, medical....all those necessities.  And I know miracles will be wrought because it happens every month.

I know my paycheck is barely enough to cover these and still pay for groceries and gas in the car.  But every month somehow...God makes it stretch.  Why? Because He has promised to meet my needs as long as I follow Him and trust Him to do so.  There have been months when I spent many sleepless nights wondering how I was going to do I would have the money to survive these basic monthly payments.....and I do mean basics because on my salary, there is no room for extras or splurges.

But I have gradually learned to let it go.  I've learned to take God at His word and trust Him to keep His Promises.  And He does....every single time. And as far as extras and splurges go....I've found that God has a way of surprising me with those too! Sometimes its "Buy One Get One Free" sales at the grocery store and sometimes its an invitation from a friend to go out for coffee-their treat, or a discount on a haircut from my hairdresser because I've referred so many new clients to her shop....always unexpected and always appreciated are these blessings from God.

So I will go ahead and say, "Thank You Lord for all that You do for me. Thank you for taking care of my needs and for loving me enough to do so. Help me to remember to share Your love with all those around me."