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Thursday, December 30, 2010

Blank Pages

"We will open the book.  Its pages are blank.  We are going to put words on them ourselves.  The book is called Opportunity and its first chapter is New Year's Day." ~Edith Lovejoy Pierce

Ahh.  New Year's Eve.  The end of 2010.  The end of a very long road for some.  The beginning of a new journey for others.  The finality of a period of great changes for me.

What a year!  I was in a different state a twelve months ago.  Not only by location, but a completely different state of mind.  Hope had dwindled.  Dreams long lost and thrown by the wayside.  I was very much trapped in a self-made prison with just glimpses of what might have been.

Funny, as I type this, I realize that I was probably very much depressed.  Funny because if you know me, I am never depressed.  Of course, if you truly know me, you also know I hide my real feelings very well.  Too well sometimes.  I didn't realize how sad I was.  I just knew I wasn't happy.  I guess it's like not knowing just how dark it is until someone turns on a light.

Well, the light was turned on for me.  In so many ways.  I felt the glow of warmth from someone who really cared for me and showed me I was worth it.  A hand was held out for me to pull me out of that pit.  I was carried in the loving hands of God throughout my journey back home.  He gave me the strength and the courage to embark on this new life.   The delicate ties of friendship were strengthened with quite a few people and re-strung with others.  I have become closer to my children and to my family. 

Somewhere along the way I started to find myself.  Didn't know that I was looking (or lost lol).  Really.  I thought that I knew just who I was when I came back.  Now I realize that even I don't know myself that well.  Or maybe I'm changing.  Or Cleveland is changing me.  And I'm not done yet.  I can feel it.  There's more just around the bend.  New adventures to experience and new encounters to make.  Who knows?  

I mean, less than eight months ago I didn't even have a clue that I would be here now, back home, single at forty.  More confident (most of the time).  In a better place spiritually.  Enjoying my job.  Looking forward to waking up the next day and not staying up all night avoiding the inevitable.  Alright, well I get more sleep than I used to anyways.  But now I am filling more of my time using my talents.  Sharing what I've been given with others.

So, I haven't made it yet, wherever there is.  But I'm on a better path.  A road less taken obviously.  One with a lot more scenic views.  Probably a few more detours.  And definitely a lot more memory-making adventures.  I've got a lot of learning left to do.  In the meantime, I will be composing my story, and hopefully taking you on my amazing excursion.  Can't wait to see what the next chapters hold!  I hope everyone has the most incredible and blessed New Year!

P.S. Just what will you be writing on those empty pages? :)

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Christmas Gifts

"Christmas gift suggestions: To your enemy, forgiveness.  To an opponent, tolerance.  To a friend, your heart.  To a customer, service.  To all, charity.  To every child, a good example.  To yourself, respect." ~Oren Arnold

There's not much on my Christmas list.  Honestly, I can't even think of anything I really want.  Mainly because I have just about everything I could ask for.  No, I'm not rich.  I don't have everything I desire.  But I definitely have everything I need.

I have been truly blessed.  Especially this year.  I have been given a taste of freedom I have never truly known before.  I am in a job that I enjoy waking up and going to every day (well - almost...).  My three beautiful, healthy children love their teachers and the new friends that they have acquired.  We live in a nice apartment in a great location and even have high-speed internet again (lol!).

I love being back with my family.  It's so nice for the kids to be able to build strong relationships with the people who helped make me the amazing person I am. And I am rebuilding and reinforcing those same family ties.

As far as stuff, I have realized that it is just that - stuff.  Ya can't take it with you.  I have lost my attachment and the need to keep getting more of it.  Don't get me wrong - I have decided I like new clothes and pretty necklaces - but again, I have enough.  And then some.

In reference to the quote, this is what I want this year.  Forgiveness from those I have wronged.  Tolerance from those who would judge me.  From my friends, as you always have shared with me, your heart.  And I'll always take a free smile or laugh.  The ability to provide my best in my job and in everything I do.  For my eyes to be open to area where I can best share the gifts that I have been given and the courage to provide it.  To be able to be the best parent I possibly can.  The gift I can only give to myself - respect.  And last but not least (no, it's not in the quote), true love.  I don't know if Santa can deliver that one, so I may have to defer to a higher power.

So, I hope everyone has a truly blessed Christmas and a most amazing New Year!  I know I am really looking forward to it!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Mistakes

"The biggest mistake you can make in your life is to be continually fearing you will make one."~Elbert Hubbard

Well, this quote pretty much fits how I've been acting lately.  I haven't been able to put my finger on it.  I've been holding back in every aspect of my life.  Meek is a really good word to describe it.  It's been driving me nuts (not a far drive I know).  I've either been afraid I could succeed or was afraid I could.  I was so scared of messing things up that I couldn't move forward.

I put a stop (for the most part) to this last Wednesday.  I had gotten myself in a pretty good mess at work because I wasn't being forceful enough with certain people and I was missing deadlines because of it.  Someone even had the nerve to call me the "good cop."  That's when I knew I had let it go to far.  

I mean me - the good cop?  For those who have had the fortune (or misfortune) to work with me have at some point had a glimpse at my fiery Irish temper.  I don't sit back and accept being blown off when someone is supposed to be doing something for me.  Yet that's exactly what I have been doing.  So I buckled down this week and figured if I was going to get fired, it would be because I did what I thought was right and took no prisoners and not because I laid down and got run over.  And it worked.  Fabulously.  I even got a "perfect" from my customer.  Whoohoo!

As I said, I am letting this happen in all areas of my life.  Not just work.  I seem to have lost my voice (perhaps a blessing in disguise to others).  I don't know if I've lost my confidence because so many things were going wrong at once.  I wish I knew what the trigger was.  I think it was more of a compilation of little things.  Well, I'm going to start changing this too.  Hey - I even signed up for a Karate class.  And they are giving me weapons (bwahahaha)!

So,  I'm done with being afraid.  At least with letting fear rule my decisions. I am going to attempt to go back to taking control of my life -- at least the parts I can control.  I have a week or so before the New Year to regroup and prepare for the battles that lie ahead.  Maybe those weapons might help... :) 

Monday, December 13, 2010

Awe

"The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious.  He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder rapt in awe, is as good as dead; his eyes are closed." ~Albert Einstein 


It never ceases to amaze me the differences in my view of the world and my children's view.  We, as adults, are inconvenienced by the traffic, snow-piled roads, and the half-an-hour extra each day it takes to bundle up our kids.  My little ones, however, see the world through different eyes.  They trudge through the snow drifts, filling their boots with snow and soaking their socks.  They grab at the littlest patch of snow and aim for the nearest hint of bare skin.  And they especially walk to the truck with their mouths open, trying to catch the first snowflakes of the season.

It would be nice to stop and take a fresh look at our surroundings more often.  What little details are we missing because we are so worried about getting to our next destination?  What gifts from God do we overlook because we are too busy?  I'm pretty sure that He has more in mind for me than just being a taxi driver. 

So, as usual, I will take a cue from my kids.  I am going to slow down just a bit, set my phone down, and take a new look around me.  Perhaps there are some newly formed snowflakes waiting...

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Impulse

"Reason only controls individuals after emotions and impulse have lost their impetus." ~Carlton Simon
Well, life is rarely boring for me as you must have figured out by now.  There is never a dull moment.  Quite the opposite most days.  And the days fly by so quickly as we get closer to Christmas.  This just tends to make my life more hectic and my sleep schedule shorter and shorter.

On top of the normal chaos (that's an oxymoron - right?), every couple of days Jacob decides to "fall out."  At least that's what we call it around here.  The rest of us are going along our merry ways when something doesn't sit right with Jacob.  At this point, he begins to hold the rest of the family hostage.  I don't give into his tantrums, which only tends to prolong the suffering.  This pulls my attention away from the girls and gets unfairly proportioned to a screaming young child.

Homework is another area of torture.  For both of us.  Just picture Supernanny and her worse case scenario.  It takes about an hour to get through a two-sided paper.  He's a smart kid.  He just can't seem to focus or have the desire to.  Most of the time we don't even finish until the weekend and turn them in late.

I finally broke down and took him to the doctor's about this.  It's not for me.  I can deal with it.  But this behavior is severely affecting his classwork and doesn't seem to have any hope for improvement.  I found a great doctor through a friend's recommendation.  Any other time I pray that Jacob sits still and behaves.  Not this one.  During the forty-five minute appointment, Jacob only sat still for about ten seconds.  Even if I didn't open my mouth, it would have been completely obvious that there was a problem here.  

He has ADHD.  Not much of a shock to anyone who has ever met him.  I was hoping he would grow out of whatever it was.  But now I know for sure.  The treatment will consist of behavior modification, parent training, and medications.  The goal is not for his personality to change but to improve impulse control.  I am supposed to see a different kid in about six weeks.  It helps me and his sisters to know exactly what we are dealing with.  They've put up with it every bit as much as I have.  Probably more because he tends to be the center of attention. 

So, there it is.  I'm not a bad parent.  It isn't because I didn't raise him right or give him enough discipline when he was younger.  There is a medically documented reason for his behavior.  We'll need prayers to get through this.  Thank you to everyone who has helped so far and in advance to those who will continue to struggle with us.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Frustration

"Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams.  Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential.  Concern yourself not with what you have tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do." ~Pope John XXIII

This sucks!  I'm in a funk and I don't know quite why.  Well - to tell you the truth I know a few of the contributors, but I shouldn't let any of them bring me down like this.  It's not like me to get depressed and feel sorry for myself.  I know what wonderful gifts I have in my life and I don't for a minute take them for granted.  So why do I feel so bad?

I haven't posted for a while because nothing much has been happening.  Work, Karate, Cub Scouts, church, homework (ugh!).  My kids were gone for a week over the holidays.  Didn't like that one bit.  Despite the public opinion that I "dumped" my kids off with my ex so I could "party", I ended up in bed most nights by 8 p.m. with an ear infection.  By myself!  Good times!  Even if I wanted to do said partying, I wouldn't have made it out long.  I did get some shopping in on Black Friday though.  Is it so wrong that I bought myself some awesome clothes and didn't get one Christmas present?  Also stopped at IKEA on the way home from Cincy.  Now that should have put me in a good mood, right?

So, this is me in a funk.  No funny sayings, no pigeons descending from the sky, no incredibly awkward dates.  Just eh.  I really need some excitement in my life.  I know - I asked for it.  Maybe not excitement but just something very interesting.  I guess I'll just have to wait and see...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Only Going Uphill From Here...

"After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb." ~ Nelson Mandela

Today I turn 40.  Seriously.  Where the heck did 40 come from?  What happened to all of those other birthdays?  The last 20 or so are just a blur.  So many candles blown out and wishes unanswered. 

Brianna said to me Saturday "Mom, you know that hill you're going over on Monday...?"  Too cute.  Like there is an actual hill that I'm going over.  Maybe there is.  Perhaps I am passing a milestone in my life.  But you know me too well to think I'm going down from this point on.  Really?  I'm just getting started...

Just what is 40?  I remember as a kid thinking 30 was old.  Really old.  That would make 40 close to retirement age, right?  I think I can speak for all of us that have made it this far that 40 just doesn't seem that old anymore.  Maybe it's society's view on it.  We're no longer represented by June Cleaver.  We now have Carrie Bradshaw and friends.  Gwen Stefani.  Catherine Zeta Jones.  Seems to me that 40 is the new 30.

40 is just another number.  It's not an accomplishment.  It's not a goal that I've worked hard to reach.  So many people keep saying "It's all downhill from here now that you're 40."  Oh, hell no!  It doesn't define who I am, what I've done, or what I still have left to do.  I haven't woken up from my deep sleep just to start rolling down a proverbial hill.  If I have, it better be on a roller coaster.  And a fast one at that!

So where does that leave me?  Pretty much where I was yesterday.  Not quite where I'll be tomorrow.  Because I'll be climbing even higher on this hill I'm supposedly on.  Looking around every turn for new adventures.  Taking every possible memory out of every moment I'm given.  Not waiting for life to give me what it has to offer but actively seeking out those opportunities.  I'm more than just a number.  I refuse to let it define me.  I will be doing the defining, so 40 had better watch out... :)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Moments

"The moments of happiness we enjoy take us by surprise.  It is not that we seize them, but that they seize us." ~Ashley Montaqu


I was going to blog at lunch, but couldn't think of a thing to write about.  Not that life hasn't been interesting lately.  I just didn't have anything happen that really stood out.  Until tonight.

I'm going to an awesome parenting class (the one I talked about during the pigeon incident).  We didn't meet tonight because it was Honor Your Father night.  Instead I had a great chat with Pastor Rob.  Well, it was more that I chatted and he listened (you know me better than that).  Of course, talking is good therapy.  That's why psychiatrists get paid so much to just sit there and let us figure out the answers on our own.  I realized a few things about myself, but I'll save those for the next blog (yes, I'm a tease...).

I also got to catch up on the video I missed last week when I was in Montreal (pictures coming soon - I promise!).  The topic was building self-esteem in your children.  Well, after church we had a little homework to finish.   Kiara struggles because she doesn't try.  She is sooo smart and just doesn't apply herself.  I explained to her how her teacher said she was gifted and how special that is.  Told her just how smart she is and the capability she was given by God.  Explained that we don't want to waste the gifts we are given.  She had an "ah-ha" moment with her math and went to bed with a smile.

Next was Brianna.  This one stresses over school.  Ulcer level stressing.  She missed straight A's by one point this nine weeks with a teacher that doesn't believe in giving straight A's.  Yet she's always worrying.  I asked her what will happen if she gets a bad grade.  She told me that everyone thinks of her as a straight-A student.  I asked her how else she would describe herself and told her what I thought of her.  I let her know that the grades were just a small part of who she was and that we love her no matter what.  Made her say "I am more than three lines on a piece of paper."  Then we prayed together for God to take away the stress and worry.  Really take it and explained that she wasn't even allowed to hold onto a piece of it.  Through happy tears I got a huge smile and several hugs.

So, two simply incredible moments.  Ones that I'm sure all three of us will look back on for years and remember.  Perhaps it was even a turning point in their lives.  It's amazing how God just puts people and events in our paths just when we need them the most.  Not only did they learn something, so did I.  I learned that I might just be pretty good at this mom thing after all. :)

Monday, November 1, 2010

It really was just the battery

"Forget about the consequences of failure.  Failure is only a temporary change in direction to set you straight for your next success." 
~Denis Waitley




 I've kept y'all in suspense long enough.  At least the four or five of you who haven't already heard "the rest of the story..." as Pat said LOL!

Date night.  First real date in 17 years.  Or so I thought...

Chris asks me to pick him up.  Sure.  I already know where he lives since I'm trying to buy his house.  No problem.  Running a few minutes late because he asked me to pick up some tomato juice for him to drink while I was getting my wine coolers.  I had to go to two stores to even find any.  After I pick him up,  I have to stop back by my apartment to pick up some paper lanterns I'm bringing to Theresa's house for the bonfire.  Kind of a symbolic thing for all of us girls.  They're really cool.  You light the wick and the fire takes them up just like a hot air balloon.  We all have someone we need to let go on this night.  I thought we could write who/what that was and let our cares off over the lake.  It was supposed to be a night of endings and new beginnings.

We arrive at my apartment.  Chris decides he wants to show me videos of his band on YouTube.  OK.  We're only an hour late to the bonfire at this point, so what the heck.  His band is pretty good.  Of course all of the videos and songs are a few years old, but good nonetheless.  Shows me a few more.  And then onto a few other artists he likes.  And then another.... Oh, and did I mention his friend and he believe in UFO's?  I saw some of those videos too.

Well, an hour and a half later I ask if he wouldn't mind heading over to the bonfire because I'm starting to get hungry.  Reluctantly he agrees.  Pat and Theresa have already texted me checking on me and telling me to quit having "fun" and come on over already.  Ha, ha.  If only.  Not even a hand hold yet.

We get there, introduce Chris to everyone, and head on into an amazing feast of food (of course it's cold by now).  We load up our plates.  He decides to drink one of my wine coolers instead of the tomato juice I drove all over town for.  Well then.  Theresa's next door neighbor keeps us entertained inside.  She started waaaay earlier than us on the partying.  She's a riot though.

Now we head back outside to the fire.  It's just Pat and Theresa by now.  I get to where they are sitting and Chris asks me if I would mind taking him home.  Really?  I just drank two wine coolers and we just got there twenty minutes ago.  He really wants to go home now?  Wow.  The girls just look at me quizzically when I tell them.  I'm sure they think something more was going to happen.

But, of course, he really just wanted to go home.  Said the wine cooler made him sick.  Got out of the truck and went inside.  Said "I'll call you."  Riiigght... No "thank you".  No good nice kiss, hug, handshake, whatever.  I'm still saying to myself "Really???" the whole way back to Theresa's.  Yeah, I went back.  Because no matter what, I am going to have a good time tonight.

The girls are laughing their asses off when I get back.  They can't believe what just happened.  I can though.  This is, of course, my life and pretty much on par for what I would have expected my first date to be.  Not that I don't deserve much, much better, but definitely not unexpected.

We let off the lanterns, writing the cares of the world on our balloons.  Off over the lake they go.  Perhaps they will meet up with Chris's UFO buddies.  Or end up on one of his friend's videos.  At least that's what we think as we are still laughing quite uncontrollably and a bit of tears over what fate has dealt us over the years.  

Finally I head home alone.  I'm sure I'm much better off that way tonight.  Because, like I said, I do deserve so much better.  I mean, I drove, bought the drinks, provided free food, and even shaved my legs!  It can only go up from here, right?  Chalk it up to a learning experience.  Something to look back on and laugh about for the next twenty years or so.  Or, maybe I just needed something new to write about on my blog - aren't artists supposed to suffer for their cause? 

So, it wasn't a sign from God.  There wasn't a great love affair in the plans.  I didn't get the house.  It wasn't a major engine malfunction.  It really was just the battery...

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Signs...

"Chance is perhaps the pseudonym of God when he does not wish to sign his work." ~Anotole France

I've told you I have been looking for a house.  Yes, it's a buyers' market, but in my price range the majority of the houses are foreclosures.  Which sucks.  Many times the people have left a lot of things behind.  Sometimes old furniture.  One had a military uniform with all of the medals still attached.  Scattered toys.  The worst was the house with the children's heights penciled in on the door jamb.  

I've also been through four Real Estate agents so far.  The first was Anthony, the really bad Real Estate Agent (at least that's how he is listed in my phone as I never got his last name). Worked off a pager.  Like he couldn't afford a $40 cell phone from Walmart?  Must not have been selling houses.  I know why.  The second one I called at least six times and never got a response.  The third one only knows me as Melisa even though I filled out a document with all of my information on it.  The fourth one wouldn't return my calls for weeks at a time.  My Dad finally recommended a lady he used to skate with.  Before you ask, Dad still goes skating, so it's not from his childhood lol.  Sue's great!

This particular Wednesday we are looking at three houses.  One is in the perfect location.  Half a block from the kids school.  Has a nice yard but a weird layout and small bedrooms.  It's at the very top of my price range.  The next one is trashed so we head over to see the third house. This one is further out than I would have preferred.  Smaller yard but is in better shape.  And is 15k cheaper than the other one.  We walk into the house.  A little boy answers the door.  I haven't been in one that is still occupied yet.  Everything in my price range so far has been vacant.

The owner shows us around.  I'm about in tears knowing this guy is losing his house and showing it to us in front of his young son.  They both seem to be taking it well though.  I can actually see us living in this house.  Christmas tree here, beds there.  This just might be the one.

Sue asks him some questions.  After a few, I realize what she's doing.  She's trying to set him up with me.  OMG!  This is hilarious.  Not exactly what I was expecting while I was house hunting.  She leaves her card and tells him to call us when his band is playing and maybe we can stop up to listen.  We laugh about it in the driveway and I tell her I'll make my decision in the morning.  I now do what I normally do when trying to make a decision: divide and conquer.  I spent the next 4 hours researching both houses.  Tax values, sales history, school districts; the works.  Everything is pointing to the third house.  But am I choosing this one because of the owner?  

Regardless, the next day I make an offer.  I pick the third one.  Fill out all of the paperwork.  And there was a ton of it.  Now all I can do is wait.  Really?  Just how well do you know me?  Dad's with me helping to corral the kids while I sign.  So we went over to show Dad where the house was. The owner wasn't home. We go to leave and my truck wouldn't start.  OK God.  I get the message.  We're not leaving yet.  There's a reason that out of the blue my truck isn't starting.  Neither Dad nor I have jumper cables. Call my sis-in-law and she is going to bring some over but can't get there for twenty minutes.

In the meantime, the owner comes home. He lets us go in the house and look. Dad takes the kids outside. So we talk for a few.  I tell him a bit about my journey so far and how God has really carried us.  Also tell him that I made an offer on the house but that I'm in my apartment until February and that he can stay in this one until then if I get it to help him get back on his feet.  He plays the guitar for me. He's really good.  By now the truck is ready, so I ask the owner if he can call me when his band is playing. He asks me what I'm doing the Friday night. I'm supposed to go to a bonfire at a friend's house so I ask him if he wants to come too.

So, long story short, I had a date.  With a very handsome, soon to be homeless guy.  Perhaps it wasn't the house that God intended for me to buy and there was another purpose to all of this. We'll have to see...

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Butterflies

"When it comes to relationships, maybe we're all in glass houses and shouldn't throw stones.  Because you can never really know.  Some people are settling down, some are settling and some people refuse to settle for anything less than butterflies..." ~Carrie Bradshaw on SATC


Alright, dating sucks.  Well, not so much the actual date but the stuff leading up to it.  The "Does he like me? Is he going to ask me out? What am I going to wear?" stuff.  And even better is the "Is he going to call me? Do I wait or do I call him?" stuff.  It's the self-doubt time.  You wonder if you are is good enough.  Replay the date in your mind wondering if you said all of the right things.  

Why do we let one person hold our worth in their hands?  I don't know but we've all done it at least once in our lives.  It's worse than interviewing for a job.  At least you have the potential for a paycheck (and if you get one on a date - that's a whole other blog topic!).  This is someone that's only been in your life for a week or two.  Yet their opinion at the moment means more to you than your lifelong friends.  I guess it's because you know that they like you.  They've been through all of your past failures and successes and still love you.

Someone told me that I should wait to date.  Work on myself.  You know - tighten up a few areas.  Figure out who I am.  Take some time for myself.  Well, first of all, if someone can't like me for who I am now, they sure the hell don't deserve me when I'm in a size 5.  I'm pretty confident I know who I am.  At least as well as I am going to ever truly know myself.  And this is all part of taking some time for myself.  Learning how I look through other people's eyes.

It's a daunting prospect dating at 39 (I can still say that for a few more weeks).  Especially with three kids.  Three very active, still quite young kids.  Most guys run the other direction at the prospect.  For those who make it past that point, there's the age thing.  Many of the guys, regardless of their age, are looking for someone still in their twenties.  Good luck with that.  And by the way, I'm not at all bitter about either of these points.  It's just the facts.  I figure if they've made it this far, they must be pretty special.

I'm updating my dating requirements.  Still keeping with the not married and not related (see my dating post if you haven't already read it).  The age thing I'm much more flexible on.  Would still rather not go much younger.  I mean, like I'm going to keep up with a twenty-six year old.  Really?  I don't see that happening.  And I think sixty may be a bit on the older side.  Sorry Mom,  but do you really want me dating someone that is old enough to be my Dad?

This is what I've figured out so far is this.  I want:  
  • Someone who cherishes me.  Wants to know who I am.  The good and the bad.  Forgets that there is anyone else in the room.  Looks into my eyes and sees into my soul. 
  • Someone who actually takes time to read my blog.  This is me.  At least a part of me that I share with the world.
  • Someone who likes me for me.  The somewhat frazzled woman that cleans up quite well.  At least my appearance.  We're not even going to talk about the apartment!
  • Someone who can deal with the crazy, mostly controlled chaos that is my life.   
  • Someone that when I tell them that I have Cub Scouts and then a skating party says "That sounds like fun!  Can I join you?" 
So, yeah, I'm asking a lot.  I think I deserve it.  No, I know I deserve it.  I deserve to find the one that is going to make the second half of my life simply amazing.  I know it may take a little bit of patience and a lot of faith, but it will be worth it.  Oh yeah - I forgot one - I want someone that gives me butterflies whenever I think of them and makes my toes curl when they kiss me.   Now is that asking too much? :)

Monday, October 25, 2010

Hope

"Hope is faith holding out its hand in the dark."~George Iles



If you've read my blog, you know my position on faith.  It's not a tangible thing.  It's not something you can give to someone or even really describe.  It is a truth that you just know.  It is that thing that allows you to step past belief and go on.

But what do you do when life throws a curve ball and smacks you in the face with it?  No time to react.  No chance to prepare yourself.  No way to shield you from the pain and doubt.  It could be an illness with an unknown outcome.  The lack of control over a decision that not only affects your life but the lives of your children as well.  The loss of a family member ripped from your life with no time to say goodbye.

My main reason for writing today's blog is that I have several friends dealing with loved ones that have cancer.  Sudden, almost impossible to cure cancer.  It's a situation when even the most faithful stumble.  Wonder "why me?"  Have trouble seeing through the darkness for even the smallest pinpoint of light.  I am asking for prayers for these courageous people.  They are just like you and me: mothers, daughters, sisters.  It could be you and me but for the grace of God.  And we need prayers for their family and friends.  For a strengthening of faith.  For a glimmer of hope when it feels like doubt is closing in.  For a moment of calm in this tumultuous storm.

So, today is not about me but about them.  Please send up a prayer.  Hold a hand out into the dark.  For through God all things are possible.  Even this...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Expectations

"Our brightest blazes of gladness are commonly kindled by unexpected sparks." ~Samuel Johnson


Did you ever notice that the best things in life tend to be the ones we don't expect?  Those times that you didn't plan but worked out perfectly.  A road less traveled that brings you to a sight of infinite beauty.  The person that walks into your life when you weren't even looking up.

I have been blessed with amazing people in my life.  They touch me in ways I can't even begin to describe.  Some are just there for a moment.  Or there only for moments I need them.  Others are constants - holding fast moored to us as the storm pounds away at our will.  There to celebrate both the pleasant and tragic.

My life so far this year has been a lesson in expectations.  Or, at least, a lesson in unexpectations.  Because I put very few constraints on what I expected to happen.  For the most part I have let God take the wheel.  He still chastises me when I don't give full control, so I'm learning.  And I've found that what he's given me is so much more than I could have ever imagined.

This weekend is no exception.  I had plans.  Changed them at the last minute.  Found myself going completely off the beaten path (literally).  What I found was so much more special than I could have asked for.  Different in a good way.  Very good.  Not what I had pictured in my head for this weekend.  But as usual, He guided me to where I was supposed to be at that moment.  Maybe for longer than a moment.

So, I will continue to leave my life in His hands.  He knows the plan.  Who am I to question it?  Besides, I'm just painting with finger paints.  God has the oil paints and is in the process of sketching out a masterpiece for me :) 

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Listening

"Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand. "
~Karl A. Menninger 

Today was an interesting day to say the least.  Quiet morning.  I should have known it wouldn't stay that way.  Very busy afternoon.  Ran late to pick the kids up.  Ran late to church.  As usual.

Went to parenting class while the kids were in Awana's.   Tonight's topic was listening to your kids, not talking at them.  Learned a lot of good techniques.  I love this class.  Wish it was going to last longer than 3 more weeks.

Leaving somewhere almost always takes at least 15 minutes for us.  Tonight was no exception.  We ended up leaving church at 9:15.  As we get to the truck, Jacob decides to lay down on the ground and roll.  In the parking lot.  OK.  Here goes.  I need to listen to him and communicate.  Normally I would drag his ornery little butt into the truck and lecture him on the way home.  Not tonight.  

I ask him what's going on.  He's "freaked out" because I only let him keep 1 light on at night.  He wants two.  Alright.  I make a deal with him - he goes right to sleep and I'll keep the light on.  We're done now, right?  Noooo.  He is still freaked out.  So I sit down in the middle of the parking lot (he's still rolling around) and talk.  He's stalling.  I know it.  But there's a reason he needs my attention.  Still haven't figured it out, but he knows what it was.  I make a deal with him that I will leave the girls at Grandma's on Saturday and he and I will have some special time together.  He wants to do pottery.  Pottery it is.  

9:30.  Finally home.  Walk up the steps to our apartment.  The kids are first because they are running up the steps as usual.  They start screaming bloody murder.  I rush to beat to a pulp whoever dared frighten my children.  No one is there.  At first I think I see a bat.  It ends up being a pigeon.  Pretty little thing.  It seems dazed and confused.  I figure it must have hit a window.  

I finally get the kids past the bird and into the apartment.  Kiara, my brave one, brings me back a box.  I speak to the bird (I have him pigeon-holed in the corner lol).  "Bird - I'm tired and I need to get my kids in bed.  You need to go into the box nicely and not fly up and attack me.  I am simply taking you downstairs so you don't injure yourself."  The bird very kindly scoots into the box with very little prodding.  Down the stairs and he doesn't flutter once.  "OK bird, I am letting you go.  Please do not fly up at me."  Off with the lid.  But he's not leaving the box.  Fine.  I leave bird and box in the grass next to the tree.  The bird definitely listens better than my kids though.

So, I listened.  To God; to Jacob; to nature.  The bird listened and trusted.   Maybe, just maybe, Jacob listened.  So I hope as the bird unfolds and expands it's wings, so do I.  And maybe by doing so, Jacob will learn from my example.  Even if it means sitting cross-legged in a church parking lot at 9:15 on a school night.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Crunching Leaves and Apple Butter



"Autumn burned brightly, 
a running flame through the mountains, a torch flung to the trees."~Faith Baldwin

Ahhh!  Fall!  This is my favorite season.  Forget frigid Winter mornings, wet Spring days, and hot muggy Summer evenings.  Autumn is it.  Crisp, clear mornings.  Warm afternoons.  Evenings with a walk through crunchy leaves.  Can't you smell it?  I have so missed Fall.  You really don't get one in Tennessee.  It's kinda Summer until February and then a day or two of Fall before Winter.  This weather, more than anything, reminds me that I'm home.


 And Autumn means it's Festival time in Ohio.  Well, actually it's always Festival time here, but it's my favorite ones.  Hay rides, pumpkin patches, corn mazes, haunted houses, you name it.  This weekend was the Apple Butter Festival.   I've been looking forward to this one for a while. This is one that I really remember from my childhood.  Watching the apples boiling in the pots over an open flame.  Tasting apple butter for the first time on a warm slice of homemade bread.  Mmmm....

And now I pass on the memories to my children.  Some old, some new.  They have an incredible way of making their own adventures.  Take the hay for example.  A simple pile of hay.  My three were the ring-leaders of a good thirty minutes of play time with perfect strangers.  I'll wager to bet that every one of those children will look back on that day with fondness.  

So here's to memories.  Old and new.  God is painting his canvas with all of the colors of the rainbow now.  Letting us know that the cold is coming.  But showering us with flames before going out in a blaze of glory.  Savor these days.  I know I am!  Share with us what your favorite fall pastime is...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Always Be Prepared

"The role of the teacher remains the highest calling of a free people.  To the teacher, America entrusts her most precious resource, her children; and asks that they be prepared... to face the rigors of individual participation in a democratic society." ~Shirley Mount Hufstedler

Being a single parent has it's challenges.  I'm the one who gets them ready in the morning and rushes to school.  I'm the one who picks them up and chauffeurs them to soccer, karate, church, scouts, whatever.  We have the joy of grocery shopping together (three kids in Wal-mart at the end of a long day - think about it).  I'm the comforting mom and strict disciplinarian.  Don't get me wrong - I wouldn't trade my job for anything.  But it makes life interesting.

What could possibly make life more hectic than this?  Well, lets see.  We get a pile of papers sent home from school every day.  A couple of weeks ago Jacob gets one.  You can be a Cub Scout.  Mom picked them up that particular day and proceeded to read to him all about how great scouting is.  I get home and Jacob proclaims "I'm going to be a Cub Scout!  I get to go camping."  So I guess we're going to scouts.

Once a week meetings shouldn't be too much strain on our schedules.  We can do this.  We go to the first meeting.  There are four Tiger Cubs.  Scouts require two leaders per den.  Two of the parents are already leaders in other dens.  Guess what that means?  Soccer mom is going to be a Den Leader.  Wow.  How's a single mom going to fit in with all of this testosterone?  Just like I do being a female Engineer in a sea of men.  We had our first leader meeting, got to business amidst the craziness, and planned out the next three months.  No special treatment; no avoiding the outsider who dared to breech the walls of the boys clubhouse (the meeting's in a cabin - just what you'd picture a boys tree house to look like inside).  I was just one of the guys.  Cool.

So I'm a Cub Scout Leader.  Another badge to add to Supermom's cape.  If nothing else, it's something to add to the adventure book.  

Monday, October 4, 2010

Courage

"Courage is the art of being the only one who knows you're scared to death." ~Earl Wilson

This is going to be a short one.  Gotta hit the hay in preparation for tomorrow.  Need my sleep if I'm going to make it through the day.
Some of you know a bit about my job.  This is for the rest of you.  Being the new girl, I got thrown into the middle of several project launches.  Not gently tossed but thrust like a missile.  No training.  No preparation.  Just hit the ground running. Hard.

For me, this is what I love to do.  Fix things.  Improve upon them.  Fill in the blanks.  It's been going really well.  Until today.  Today I got chewed.  Royally.  Nothing I had any control over or could have prevented.  Basically we are going to lose a lot of money from last month.  Could I have fixed it if I had it from the beginning?  Probably.  But I came in during the week of launch.  Just had to divide and conquer.  Repair what was broken and patch up what I could so we could ship parts.  

I got that part done.  Still a lot of improvement that needs to happen.  But the line is stable and shipping parts.  Now for the cleanup.  It's kinda like a nuclear blast site.  I get to answer for what went wrong and how to fix it next time.  Well, for one, let me launch the project from the beginning.  Two, don't fire the Supervisor the week of launch and put a new person in his place.  Three, require your supplier to ship good material to you, not send whatever just to make shipments.  And give them time to develop the part.  They won't want to hear any of that though.

So, I'm scared.  Unusual for me at work.  My job is on the line.  I'm only contract, so I could be the scapegoat here.  Or my report could cause someone else to lose their job.  It's a lose-lose situation.  One I do not like to be put in.  But I have to do my job because I have to support my family now.  I need lots of prayers.  To guide my actions and my words tomorrow.  That I keep my job.  That I don't cause someone else to lose theirs.  But no matter what, that I am true to myself and my values.  Even if it means walking away...

Monday, September 27, 2010

The End (?)

"There are things that we never want to let go of, people we never want to leave behind.  But keep in mind that letting go isn't the end of the world, it's the beginning of a new life." ~Anonymous

Today is the day.  That day. The end.  Or the beginning.  Depends on how you look at it.   Today is the last day of my marriage.  The first day of the rest of my life.  Sign a few papers and that's it.

For those who know me, you know how much I value my faith.  I took my vows very seriously.  I never planned this.  Never wanted to think of an end.  Perhaps I did not do everything I could have, but I did everything I was capable of.  There was fault on both sides.

Today is not a day for placing blame.  It is a day for finality.  A point in time.  A small dot in the view of the big picture.  Yet a huge milestone in my life.  I am letting go of the appearance of the big happy family.  I am admitting failure in a portion of my life.  Showing my imperfection to the world.

But that's not all I am letting go of.  I am also releasing my grip on a promise.  A whisper of a possibility of what might have been.  A tenuous hold at best on a dream.  It was never meant to be.  Never truly mine to begin with.  It was a beautiful, very special time that ended before it really began.  Nonetheless I will miss it terribly. 

So today I move on.  I persevere.  I make a new life.  New stories.  New memories.  New dreams.  Yet I will glance back every so often, not with regret, but with fondness of what was and what never could be...

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Sorrow



"Tears are the words that the heart can't express." ~Unknown

I had some other things to blog about this week.  Sweet.  Funny.  But two events have happened that have changed my heart again.  Terrible ones.  Horrific.  Incomprehensible.  I am not writing on these events to make their friends and families hurt even more.  I want to share these with the rest of you in hopes that you will pray for the ones left behind.

The first was a murder-suicide here in Eastlake.  It involved a couple in the middle of a divorce.  One of the children found her parents.  Two small children must try to live on.  

Hard to believe something could be worse than that.  But this is.  A beautiful woman and her two small boys brutally murdered yesterday in my previous hometown in Tennessee.  Who does this?  I've been mad at people.  Really mad.  But to kill two beautiful babies?  The sickness and evil that would take is beyond my comprehension.

I am still reeling from the murder of a close friend's grandson's murder in February.  I held this baby in my arms.  My children played with him.  To look at his pictures and realize that we would never see this precious little boy again in this lifetime is heartbreaking.  

I personally had never known such sorrow until then.  It was worse than even my miscarriage.  He was flesh and blood.  But so much more.  Haydon was a bundle of energy and a blessing to every life he touched.  I imagine these other two boys were the same.  I know God has a special place for them, but it doesn't make it any easier for those of us left here.  

You don't get over something like that.  You might get through it, but it never goes away.  You get numb.  There is no justification or justice.  Nothing can bring them back.  

So, we go on.  Because we have to.  Our families are counting on us.  We must be strong.  We set the example for our children so they know how to react.  But inside, deep inside, the pain never truly goes away.  God bless you that are living with this.  I hope He is able to carry you beyond this. 

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Starbucks and Carpetball

Since our move up here, we've been searching for a new church home.  Makes it a little difficult since there are four people helping to make this decision.  We had been to a couple.  One was way too big.  We got lost in the shuffle.  Another was too small.  Now I feel like Goldilocks.

So we go to the one that was actually my first choice when I was searching online.  Jacob goes to his children's church class and the girls and I go to the service.  Of course it's the "I'm bored, did you bring anything to color with, do you have some gum, when is it over" routine with them.  Not too much interest.  Until the guest missionary asks if anyone likes Starbucks.  Kiara's hand shoots up.  He's playing a cute game of Who Wants to be a Millionaire.  So each of the people who raised their hands gets to play for a bar of German chocolate.  Kiara, being so shy (said with sarcasm), goes up and answers her question and gets the chocolate.  Someone gave Brianna their bar, so all is good in the world.  Bright smiles.  

After the service there's a potluck lunch.  Nothing like a large group of Baptist women to feed a bunch of people.  Great food and lots of chocolate deserts.  The kids are happy.  They go down to the rec room to play while I get to know some of the other mothers.  I make some new friends and so do the kids.  I go down to gather up my rugrats and they don't want to leave now.  Typical.  First they don't want to go and now they don't want to leave.  They're playing carpetball?  What's up with these "sports" up North?  Carpetball, cornhole....  And you make fun of us Southerners?  Well, at least a Southern transplant in my case.  We played volleyball and horseshoes.  None of these redneck games.

So, anyways, the kids loved the church.  All because of Starbucks and a game called carpetball. :)

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Fluttering Gently in the Breeze

"How does one become 
a butterfly?" 
  she asked pensively. 
"You must want to fly 
so much that you 
are able to give up 
  being a caterpillar." 
~Tina Paulus


  
Life is full of surprises.  We never know when a blessing is right around the corner.  Or up in the trees.  Sometimes it just takes looking around or in our case - looking up.

Such is life for us right now.  I mean, what are the chances that the monarchs decide to rest in my friend's backyard?  And that they stay long enough for me to get my camera over there for some great shots?

It is said that the butterfly symbolizes rebirth and renewal.  This is especially meaningful as my friend is moving from this house into a new one and beginning a new chapter in her life.  The butterflies showed up the week she is finally moving on. 

We all wait for a sign from God before making major decisions.  I'm one of those people who need a blinking yellow sign before I'm sure.  He really wanted my friend to get this particular message.  Instead of one, he sent hundreds!


So what sign are you waiting for? (If you come across a blinking yellow one with a large arrow, it's probably mine)  What is it that you need in order to move on?  Is it right in front of you and you haven't been looking for it?  Is it up in a tree fluttering gently in the breeze?    Is it possibly even the breeze itself?  Maybe it isn't a sign you need at all.  Perhaps you need to give up being a caterpillar in order to spread your wings and fly...

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Looking For Love...


"Love doesn't make the world go round.  Love is what makes the ride worthwhile." ~Franklin P. Jones

My son Jacob loves dogs.  Always has.  I think there's an inherent bond between a boy and a dog.  Everytime we see one he asks if he can have one of his own.  I almost got him one several years ago on his birthday, but we couldn't have one at home at the time.

Tonight he got to play with an amazing dog.  Marley ran with him, played tag with him and was extremely patient with Jacob.  Of course he posed the question.  Marley's owner asked Jake what he would call it if he got one.  Jacob said "Love."  She suggested we try calling it to make sure it works for us.  So we did.  "Here Love.  Come on Love.  Time to eat Love."  Maybe not the best of choices for a dog.

I then realize if said dog gets loose, I am the one that gets to search around town.  "Lo-ve.  Where are you Love?  Come here boy."  Oh, that's bad.  Then I would have to put signs up.  "Looking for Love.  Missing Love.  Reward offered."  I could so see this happening.  Desperate 39-yr-old woman wandering the streets looking for Love. 

So maybe the puppy thing is on hold for a while.  As is the love thing.  But that's OK.  One of these days I'll have a furry, lovable creature licking my face to show me how much he loves me.  And maybe Jacob will get his dog too!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Grace

"Grace isn't about having a second chance; grace is having so many chances that you could use them through all eternity and never come up empty.  It's when you finally realize that the other shoe isn't going to drop, ever.  It's the moment you feel as precious and handmade as every star, when you feel, finally, at home for the very first time." ~ Mike Clark 

We all make mistakes.  Even me, believe it or not.  Poor choices.  Bad decisions.  Things we look back after some time with regret.  Sometimes we just take the wrong fork in the road.  Perhaps, if we're lucky, the wrong path eventually leads back to the right one.

I'm pretty sure I'm back on the right path.  It took me a while.  A long while.  Lots of detours and scenic routes.  I'm sure I still have a ways to go.  This is what usually happens when I take a wrong turn.  It takes much longer to get there than if I just took the right path in the first place.  

But there were lessons to learn, I suppose.  God was making me stronger.  Forging me into what he wanted.  If you know anything about steel, it has to be heated and cooled repeatedly to make it stronger.  I've been back in that fire quite a few times.  He must have really big plans for me!

So since I am so stubborn, He has blessed me with his grace many, many times.  I am in awe of the fact that my chances are virtually endless.  He is carrying me even now - even when I don't make the right choices every time.  Maybe this is why for the first time, I truly do feel like I'm at home.   

Monday, September 6, 2010

Back to Normal (?)

"Nothing ever goes back to normal.  All that happens is your concept of normal changes." ~Allison van Diepen

Life is starting to settle down a bit.  I guess you could say it's getting back to normal.  Well, normal for us at least.  That pretty much means chaos at our house.  But back to somewhat of a schedule.  Work, school, homework, dinner, shower, bed, stall in any way possible, stay up on Facebook until I can't keep my eyes open, and then sleep.  Run around on the weekend and then rush to get ready for school the next day.  Typical.

And what would life be without soccer.  You know, where the "soccer mom" title comes from.  That starts tomorrow.  I was only able to get Jacob on a team so far.  There wasn't any room for the girls until Spring.  I get to pull out all of the equipment and pack the duffle bag.  One of the few boxes that is actually organized and ready to go.  No practices yet but he has his first game tomorrow against my cousin's son.  So doubly good!  Get to visit with family and kick their tail at the same time lol!  Just kidding!  I'm just glad to be back on the field with my camera.

So, normal is not quite normal for us this year.  Different places, different faces.  New experiences mixed in with the comfortable.  But no matter what, I will be there with my camera and will be writing about it on my blog.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

It's My Life

"It's my life
And it's now or never
I ain't gonna live forever
I just wanna live while I'm alive

My heart is like an open highway
Like Frankie said, "I did it my way"
I just wanna live while I'm alive

'Cause it's my life" 
~Sung by Bon Jovi

A little departure from my usual poetic and meaningful quotes.  But I've had a strange weekend.  More drama and heard this song.  It's kind of my anthem for now.  Granted, I created some of the drama, but still...

You see, I have my own place now.  It's my safe haven.  I didn't realize just how much it was until yesterday.  I have company and it felt like an invasion of privacy.  On many, many levels.  I mean, I'm all healed and everything is peachy keen, right?  Wrong.  Apparently not.  I have a ways to go.  I lashed out at this person and then went out as an escape from dealing.  Not good for me.  I should have just dealt with it.  Going out just made coming home that much worse.

And then it was implied that I was a bad mom because I went out.  Oh, no you don't.  That's off limits.  I love my kids more than I love life itself.  Anyone who knows me understands this.  I left them in safe and capable hands and spent some time de-stressing with some friends.  The band played this song while I was out.  I took it to heart.

So, it is MY life.  (I should've used the Billy Joel song, but this is the one they played).  I'm allowed to live it my way.  I only have to answer to myself and the Man upstairs.  I'm going to take some time out for myself.  I deserve it. 

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Happiness


"Success is getting what you want; happiness is wanting what you get." ~Ingrid Bergman

A friend asked me the other day if I was happy with the move and everything.  I told her yes, I am actually truly happy.  I can't remember ever being happy short of having my kids. Sometimes I thought I was, but I have never had this feeling before.

Maybe it's simply being content.  Satisfied with exactly what I have.  I have enough.  More than enough in some cases.  No, I haven't gotten everything I dreamed of yet (remember, star wish is still open), but what God has blessed us with in this move is astounding.  I have three very happy children with lots of new friends and adventures.  I have a great apartment and everything even works in it.

And I have my job.  It is nowhere near what I expected.  Not in a million years.  I'm exhausted.  I missed lunch two days already.  Dizzy with all that's going on.  We had one of those firefighting meetings the other day to discuss lessons learned and all the procedures that got missed.  The President looked at me and said "that's why we hired you - to fix all of these problems."  No pressure.  Would have been nice to know going in; I would have asked for more money.  But I love it.  It's insane really.  THIS is not my dream job.  Or is it?

God doesn't always give us what we ask for.  It makes us mad sometimes.  I mean, what harm would it do to have those things?  Other people get them.  But I know He always gives us what we need.  Is this one of those times?  It very well might be.  And I need to get over the part about it being all about me.  Maybe I'm there to help someone (or a lot of someones) out.  I need to keep that in mind.  We never know for sure our purpose until much later.

So I'm happy.  I guess you gathered that already.  Maybe success is growing up enough to know that what you already have can make you happy...

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

This Is Me

"Always been the kind of girl 
 That hid my face
 So afraid to tell the world 
 What I've got to say

But I have this dream 
Right inside of me
I'm gonna let it show 
It's time to let you know
To let you know

This is real, this is me
I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be now
Gonna let the light shine on me

Now I've found who I am 
There's no way to hold it in
No more hiding who I wanna be 
This is me" 
~Sung by Demi Lovato

In another spur-of-the-moment decision (like 4:30 this afternoon) I decided to take the kids to see the Jonas Brothers.  Ya know, the whole supermom, they're never going to forget this experience thought process.  So pick them up from school, homework, get clothes ready for tomorrow, run through Chik-Fil-A and then off to the concert.  I didn't even tell them until we got there.  Met up with their cousins and had a wonderful time.  Again.

The song above is from Camp Rock (for the 1 or 2 of you that never turn on the Disney Channel).  I always liked the song but it never held that much meaning for me.  But boy does it now.  "This is real.  This is me.  This is exactly where I'm supposed to be."  I AM exactly where I am supposed to be.  Today really showed that.  Worked my tail off at my new job, even missed lunch, and loved every minute of it.  God knew what he was doing even though I had my doubts.  It's amazing what can happen when you let him take the reigns.

So this is living.  This is real.  This is me.  But the light isn't shining on me.  It's shining from within.  And I love the feeling.  
 

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Wisdom

"Wisdom doesn't automatically come with old age.  Nothing does - except wrinkles.  It's true, some wines improve with age.  But only if the grapes were good in the first place." ~Abigail Van Buren

While going through my old papers from school, I came across a New Year's resolution list I had made in 1984.  Yeah, I was two (right...) but I apparently already was a very wise person.  

1.  Be kind to everyone.
2.  Lose weight and not eat so much.
3.  Accept things as they are and try not to change them.
4.  Pay more attention to school subjects.
5.  Try not to fight with my parents and brothers.
6.  Use my talents to the fullest.
7.  Help out more at home.
8.  Be myself.
9.  Help people who can't help themselves.
10.  Don't complain when things don't go the way I want them to and don't expect them to.
11.  Be friends to people who need a friend.
12.  Don't be jealous of people who I think have more.
13.  Don't make a fool of myself just for attention and to get into the in crowd. 
14.  Don't give up good friends for false ones.
15.  Keep my new year's resolutions.

I think all of these are still great goals to shoot for even now - 26 (ugh!) years later.   Luckily I think the person I have become embraces most of these on a regular basis.  There's still one or two that I need to work on, but I'm getting there.

So, apparently I was a good grape.  Somewhere down the line some really great bricks went into my foundation.  Thank you if you were one of those bricks!

Alive

"We cannot change yesterday, and we cannot predict tomorrow, but we can live today.  So be alive.  Never let one day pass by without a smile." ~Unknown

I can't tell you what an amazing feeling it is to be alive.   Not just breathing and walking around, but really alive.  You might have known this feeling for a long time, but I haven't.  Everything is so much more.  Exciting.  Uplifting.  Brighter.  Bolder.  Exhilarating.

We are rounding the corner into week 3.  Every day has presented itself with some pretty great memories.  Not everything has turned out exactly as expected.  But good in the end.  School was awesome.  All three kids loved it.  Thank God!  Work, well, was a bit overwhelming at first but I got some great advice from a great friend and that too worked itself out.  Life is settling into a little pattern now.  Well, not really.  But maybe it has a sense of normalcy to it.

Well, about the being alive part.  I keep finding myself just breathing in and realizing how good it feels.  Staring up at the sky thanking Him for getting my life back.  And the one who woke me up.  But it feels good to breathe.  And to feel.  And to truly be happy.  Besides my kids, I guess I never knew how good it felt to be happy.  And content.  And really, really comfortable in my skin.  That feels REALLY good!

So, I am going to continue living.  Really living.  And you know if you see me there will be a smile on my face :)

Friday, August 27, 2010

You Can Go Home

“We are all longing to go home to some place we have never been — a place half-remembered and half-envisioned we can only catch glimpses of from time to time. Somewhere, there are people to whom we can speak with passion without having the words catch in our throats. Somewhere a circle of hands will open to receive us, eyes will light up as we enter, voices will celebrate with us whenever we come into our own power.  A circle of friends. Someplace where we can be free." ~Starhawk 

I was going to use the "You can't go home" quote.  But it doesn't apply.  I've found that you can go home.  No, it's not exactly the same.  But it's close.  Really close to the way I remember.  Close enough to be comfortable.  To just feel right.

We had a get-together with a bunch of friends from grade school.  Yeah, I said grade school.  Haven't seen some of these people in 26 years.  Ugh!  That makes me feel really old.  It was amazing!  The things we remember about those times.  I can't remember what I had for breakfast yesterday but I remember so much about back then.  Yeah, we all look different.  But time has changed us for the better.  We've all had our ups and downs but I think that we are all on the upswing now.  Ready for the future.  No longer bitter about the past.  Chalk it up to learning experiences and moving on.  I want to thank you guys (can't say y'all any more) for a super evening.  Can't wait for the next one!

So I feel a bit like Norm walking into Cheers and everyone yelling my name.  I am in the familiar.  Everyone does know me (at least those who count).  They are welcoming me back and have saved my seat for me even after all of these years.  I have been gone but not at all forgotten.  I am home.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Becoming

"The thing that is really hard, and really amazing, is giving up on being perfect and beginning the work of becoming yourself." ~Anna Quindlen

Monday was a good day.  More than a good day.  Tackled a small mountain of boxes, most of which got put up and didn't end up on the floor.  Finally got the school shopping done.  Well, almost.  We're still missing one folder.  So off to Walmart in the morning so my daughter doesn't have a heart attack on the first day of school.  

And I got to go shopping.  Which usually ends up frustrating me more than making me happy.  But this trip was a great one.  Have money which is always a plus.  So I go to try on the next size down which is about where I should be.  Nope.  Too big.  Really?  I have to go back out and get the size below that one.  It fits.  Well.  Looks really good.  One of my daughters asked when I got so skinny.  I have to chalk it up to the kickboxing and zumba.  And a few thousand trips up and down the stairs in the last two weeks.   That felt really incredible!

I've long since given up on being perfect.  I just want to be good.  Really good.  And I'm getting there.  I'm happy.  Happier than I think I've ever been in my life.  No, I didn't win the lottery or catch Mr. Right.  Just because of the little things.  Holding my head up and taking the time to look around.  Knowing the side streets better because of the detours.  Loving the detours because they are taking me places I wouldn't otherwise know about.   And not just the road signs.  I'm taking the curve balls life is throwing at me.  About to throw back and then some.

So I'm becoming me.  Who that is I don't know yet.  Let me know if you see her though and what you think about the woman she's becoming!

Stopping To Smell The Roses

"Take time to smell the roses
 Before it is too late.
 Today is full of promise
 Tomorrow will not wait"
 ~Marilyn Ferguson


I'm driving home from my brother's house yesterday.  We're at an intersection and we see a parade that was just starting.  So we stopped.   It turned out to be a great day.  Got to go on a trolley ride (the kids loved it) and heard a great Dixieland jazz band.  Learned a bunch about downtown Willoughby I never knew.  Saw some incredible old homes.   I could have just kept driving.  Probably would have in my old life because there's always something more important to do.




Not this time.  It's not just about me any more.  I see that every step I take is affecting the kids.  In a good way.  They seem happier and more relaxed.  So do I.  Of course we've kind of been on vacation for the last month (except for all the packing, moving, and unpacking).  Still sort of feels like we're living in a hotel minus the cleaning lady and room service.  But we've had some pretty great experiences so far.  There's a lot more to do here.  And there's family and a lot of "friends that were waiting for us to come back."  I've been informed that I can't call them old friends, so I guess that's what I'll refer to them until I get a better name.  So what if we got to the shoe store 15 minutes before closing and had to cram in all school supply shopping today?  The notebooks and markers weren't going anywhere.

But time is.  It flies by so fast. Every day I let pass by me is an opportunity lost.  I'll never get that time back again.  And I've already let so much pass me by.  It might seem that I am trying to cram way too much into an already hectic schedule.  Not really.  I mean, what else are we going to do - sit around the house and watch TV?  Probably.  Instead, I want to fill it with moments.  Memories that will last a lifetime.  Experiences that add to our character.

So we stopped to smell the roses.  And taste the peanuts.  And listen to the band.  It was awesome!