Tuesday, December 21, 2010


Strange title for a blog post. Strange sentiment behind it, too.

I've done a lot of letting things go that weren't really mine recently. A cleaning of the cobwebs, if you will. Whether it was a person who needed to be exorcised from my life, or things that didn't bring me joy - clothing that doesn't fit or match me anymore, for example - letting things go so that I am open to the new has been a theme for me. There's a great passage in "Eat Pray Love" that's pretty similar to my thought processes of late:
If you clear out all that space in your mind that you’re using right now to obsess about this guy, you’ll have a vacuum there, an open spot — a doorway. And guess what the universe will do with that doorway? It will rush in — God will rush in — and fill you with more love than you ever dreamed.
Sometimes those cobwebs are real and tangible - and while the above quote is about obsessing over a guy, I do think there's more to it than that. For me, it's been about determining what memories I wish to have around from work, school, children, friendships, as well as romantic relationships. So my actions? Five dollars I returned to an old flame that was once his and I had been unable to spend. Things literally thrown away or honored...

Which leads to this:

While my marriage has been over for a very long time, I've held on to the last material vestige of that relationship in my jewelry box: my wedding ring. I'm not sure why, honestly. I guess because it is small and doesn't really take up that much physical space. Easy to forget that I still have it... except one never really forgets.

About 6 months ago, I put the ring in my purse. I think only because I finally had the recognition that it is time for it to go - it may not have been taking up physical space, but it was taking up emotional space. I figured I would sell it or pawn it. Sunday I had the opportunity to sell it, and when I found out how much they wanted to give me for it, I had pause. Matter of fact, I still have it, because I figured I better check out other venues before just accepting what I had been told. Truthfully, though, I paused because the amount I was offered for the circle of gold was $40.61.

And therein lies the rub. The ring I cherished and wore daily for a long time is only worth $40.61? That relationship's current figurative cost is now less than a pair of shoes or a blouse? I honestly thought it would be worth a little more than that - maybe $100, or so, but $40.61?

After I got that quote I walked around, shopped, and really thought. No, the relationship is worth much more than that, but it's not a monetary value. I will always have my kids and the memories we've made together. Not to mention the good times that were present in the marriage. The ring... really is inconsequential. Yet at one point it meant so much. Yet it is nothing more than a symbol - something that says to society "I made a commitment." So ironic in so many ways.

It is time for it to go. Its symbolism has changed. And so have I.

When I took the ring off, I also made a commitment: To love myself and my children enough to heal. I don't know that I will ever wear another band around my left ring finger again, but I do know that if I do it will be for the right reasons, with someone who is a fit for me, and from a place that is whole to start with. It will be with me knowing that my worth does not come from a band around my finger, but from within.

In short, the Universe has rushed in...

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

'Tis the Season

While I've been in my grading crunch for the past week or so, the fact that I've not done as much for Christmas as I'd like to have done already has also been providing a good bit of stress. I've tried to push it aside, but I admit it's creeped in on occasion. Grades were turned in yesterday, but I find myself in a different place than I thought I'd be at this point. I thought I'd be all gung ho about finishing shopping, etc, but I'm not. And last night I ordered New Year's cards, recognizing that I didn't need more stress trying to get anything out the door by next week.

I know why, too. On Monday, one of our neighbor's houses burned to the ground. We pulled up into the subdivision at the height of the fire. It was extraordinarily windy, and the fire was dangerously close to spreading to another house. A very sombering, sickening sight.

But then today I got an email about a dear sorority sister of mine who had a tumor removed off her pituitary gland a few weeks ago, and then had complications. She's still in the hospital, and prognosis is good, although she won't be able to sneeze or cough or do much else for 6 weeks.

And I'm left with the thought that my Christmas stressors are pretty inconsequential in the whole scheme of things.

'Tis the season ... not to be worried about details, but to love those around me, and be thankful for my blessings.

I count these among many:
  • None of my neighbors were hurt, and their things can be replaced.
  • Medical science is wonderful, and my sorority sister has wonderful friends and family by her side.
Those are excellent Christmas gifts.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Best Laid Schemes of Mice and Moms...

I didn’t run today until 4:15. Crazy. Such is life, though – some days it takes awhile to get moving due to things beyond one’s control.

I haven’t been running with my iPhone lately, preferring to have company with my own thoughts, and take the time to talk to God. Today, I took the phone since my kids needed to be able to reach me, and rather than play my usual running mix, I put it on random.

I never cease to be amazed at what happens when I do that. I skip a few songs, typically, but try not to do too many. More times than not, it seems that I hear exactly what I need to hear, and maybe there are some things I need to think about.

The mix was not as fast paced as I like to run to, but when I listened to the beat today, I realized it was right where I needed to be. First song was “Then,” and it just made me smile. A sense of both hope and being very happy with where I am right now just washed over me. It wasn’t long until two songs in a row came on that made me think of a friend of mine. One because he is the one singing it. The other, because he introduced me to this particular band’s music.

Ironically, or not, this friend emailed me yesterday to tell me what has been happening in his life over the past few months. We went out a few times over a year ago, and he breezed in and out of my life in many ways, but we somehow managed to remain friends. But the main crux of the email is that he became friends with a woman who was pregnant, but had been cast off by the baby’s father… somewhere along the way they fell in love, and he decided he wanted to be this baby’s father. The baby was born on Monday.

When I got that email, I just couldn’t help but smile. I’ve listened to him and paid attention to his crazy antics for the past few years, and had decided that he was happy being a single man who is married to his music. I’ve sensed that in some ways he has been lost – not really knowing what he wanted. For the first time, as I read his email yesterday, I sensed that suddenly he has found something to ground him. And that he’s happy. Everything I read felt just right.

So, I smiled when those songs came up, and I started praying for him, and the two new women in his life.

Then, the next song that came up was “How Great Is Our God” by Chris Tomlin. And my heart started to burst. It was gorgeous outside, and after thinking about my friend and his decision, it just seems divinely inspired. And on top of that, I felt the same way as I was running. How Great is Our God! I started thinking about the past few years and thinking about all the things that I’ve wanted, but didn’t get…. And the thought on many of those was “Thank GOD!”

How often is it we think we know what’s best, but find out that we’re not right?

Next was “I Can Only Imagine” by Mercy Me. And I was blown away. Ok, God… what are you trying to tell me today? My pace picked up and the song was central – wasn’t even thinking about the run itself… just opening myself up to whatever God seemed to be wanting to show me today.

I skipped a few songs, but it seemed that each song title made me think of someone – whether it was someone I dated along the way, or just a really good friend.

And then the music settled into “All That We Let In” by Indigo Girls – Hmmm…

You may not see it when it’s sticking to your skin

But we’re better off for all that we let in.

See those crosses on the side of the road

Tied with ribbons in the median

They make me grateful I can go this mile

Lay me down at night and wake me up again.

I smiled. I had been running. And had just run several miles. And was beyond grateful that I could do that. More than that, though, the words meant something different than they had previously.

Crosses on the side of the road… for some reason today that was about past relationships, or even potential relationships, that didn’t work. Or relationships that ran their course. People who came into my life for a season, but aren’t as central as they used to be for whatever reason.

How odd is that? Yet I’m grateful for each person who has been in my life for whatever length of time, or in whatever form, because they helped bring me here. To a place that is happy. Deep down in the gut happy.

Odd... would never have thought about this song that way before.

Finally, the run ended on “Now and Forever” by Carole King.

Now and forever, you are a part of me…

Sheez… I literally laughed out loud. This almost seems hokey, but it seemed that today’s run was about honoring the past. And recognizing that God has had a wonderful hand in that past. The past that has brought me to today, where God’s hand is definitely still present.

The Dinner Party Question

Not the same Dinner Party, but a really good one...
Judy Chicago

Recently, I was asked the question that you hear about, but you never think you'll actually have to answer. The dinner party question - If you had a dinner party and could invite any 5 people in history, living or dead, who would you invite and why?

I thought about the ones most people might say [Jesus, etc], and while yes, I'd like that very much, I talk to Him a good bit already, and the others aren't as central to who I am. So, after careful consideration of the question, here's my answer:

1. My Aunt Shelley - my mom's sister. She was killed in a car accident the day before her 19th birthday. I was 7. I've been told that I'm a lot like her. So much so that I wasn't allowed to drive or leave home on the day before my 19th birthday. Things changed when she died, and I remember the change. I remember as a young child thinking that she was someone I could always talk to, and I have wanted her presence a number of times as I've gotten older. I also remember childhood prayers where I prayed for her after she was dead... but really, it was more of trying to talk to her.

2. Jane Roland Martin - a philosopher of education. I was taking a philosophy course the first semester of my doctorate and thinking, "Oh my God - what have I done. This is AWFUL!" Trying so hard to figure out Plato, Hegel, Locke, Idealism, Realism, Pragmatism, Existentialism, etc... I had the thought that if this is what I'm going to be doing for the next 4 years, then I will never make it. What on earth did this have to do with getting a doctorate? I struggled with the material, reading all the recommended books as well as the required books, doing massive searches through academic databases and journals trying to find ANYTHING to help me figure out ontology, epistemology, and axiology of these philosophers and these -isms [not sure I would do well with it today, to be honest], and I came to a chapter in one of the books that was by Jane Roland Martin. And things started to click. I finally felt that I was reading something real as opposed to something so esoteric as to not have real meaning in the world. It's what led me into re-examining the word "feminist" as something other than a bad word, and helped me to recognize that one of the things I had internalized was that women are not as good as men - from what is taught in school, who is taught, and how it is taught, to even how I was treated at church, and in some ways in my marriage. Helped me to frame some questions that I had never dared frame before. Started me on the path of framing questions that I needed to frame, not just professionally, but personally.

3. Emily Saliers - one of the Indigo Girls. Some of her song lyrics just pierce me. The Wood Song, All That We Let in, Fleet of Hope, Prince of Darkness, Lay My Head Down, Love Will Come To You, Virginia Woolf, Watershed are ones that I will listen to over and over again. I would like to get in her head for just a little bit.

4. Nicholas Sparks - he writes brain candy books, really, but damn. Anyone who can give me a good cry like that deserves a piece of homemade chocolate cake.

5. Martha - my piano teacher. She would eat up the conversation between everyone at the table, laugh, and provide questions or insight that is wise. An old soul with a young heart. A true blessing in this world - any time spent with her is a gift in and of itself. She's currently a librarian at a school on an Indian Reservation in New Mexico, and how she ended up there is fascinating. She came to see me after I bought the grand piano because she needed to play it and to hear me play. She chuckled at some of my mistakes, and reverted back to giving me direction like she did when I was in high school. I miss her and love her dearly.

Intriguing question. I wonder what my answer would be in a few months or years.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

But I AM glad to be 41!

Birthday Celebration as part of GNO

I think facebook is best on birthdays. It's nice to reflect on the people who have at least stopped by my wall for just a moment to say "happy birthday." Nice to think about how I know them and memories I have of them.

So, back to 41 things:

I had originally planned on listing all 41. I've worked on this post off and on for the better part of a few weeks, and I just haven't liked how it's been put together. So, while I know I've done at least 41 things for me - taking the entire month of November, rather than just to my birthday, here are my favorites:
  • rewatching all 6 Harry Potter movies with my girls, and then seeing it with them on opening day. It was wonderful!
  • spending a day in bed re-reading Harry Potter 7
  • On my birthday I got up and ran a 5K. First race since this summer, and only my second "real" race this year. Injuring my knee training for and during the half marathon last year definitely set me back with running. I wanted to do less than 35 minutes, and I did, with 34:57! Not back to my best time, but I really haven't been running longer than 5K distance yet. Who runs a 5K on her birthday? I do!
  • I read to a 5th grade class. It's been a long time since I've read to a class, and the kids seemed to enjoy the book. It was great to be back in front of an elementary classroom again. I'm in classrooms a lot, but rarely am I "teaching."
  • Doing a dating experiment. Yes. Why not? That's all I'll say about it for now. Carpe diem!
  • Taking three 13 year olds to sushi on my birthday. Yes, me who didn't even eat sushi until last May. It's what I wanted to eat. Please, take my temperature.
  • Saw Steel Magnolias at the new black box theatre on campus. Lovely, lovely production.
  • Went to GNO on a school night. Drove two hours to get there and 2 hours back, but I needed it. Was good to have a night out and have fellowship with people who don't do the same things that I do on a regular basis.
  • Tried a Blueberry Beer Float. Sweetwater Blue Beer, vanilla ice cream, blue berries, and raw sugar. It wasn't bad!
  • Cancelled class one night.
  • Had one week where I was completely caught up with grading.
I find that at the moment I'm in a really good place. Perhaps the best place I've been mentally and emotionally in a very long time. So, I'm curious what's next in this crazy adventure called life.

Forty was a good year. Hard at times, but overall a year of happiness, growth, some sadness, and getting even more in touch with what I want out of life. I certainly spent my days much more centered and focused on the here and now rather than the past or the future, and feel that I savored moments more than I let them pass me by - that may be the greatest gift of all.

Friday, November 19, 2010

I'm so glad I'm not 13

It's so hard to be a teenager. This week has been a hard week for my daughter.

On Tuesday I picked her up at school and had her to the dentist by 2. Last month she had several teeth pulled for round two of braces, and one little portion of a root remained behind. Tuesday's checkup was to check on that root. We were done by 2:20, and in reading her demeanor, decided she needed a little time with me prior to going where she normally goes the afternoons I'm teaching, so we went to Starbucks. I try to do that at least once a week with her, because it provides a neutral space to talk about what she's thinking about without her little sister around. As we sat there, she started to talk about some things that had happened at school and she started tearing up. I asked her if we needed to go sit in the car, and she nodded yes, so we moved from inside to outside and sat in the parking lot awhile. As time passed, I realized that she had a lot on her mind, and was pretty emotional about it all, yet my time frame to be with her was growing shorter, so I asked her if she wanted to go with me to class rather than where she normally goes. She immediately said yes, so we started the journey, which takes about an hour. She talked the whole way.

We talked about her dad, her stepmother, things happening at school, etc... She's dealing with a lot of stressors. One of her biggest stressors is the fact that she's smart, and others are belittling her, including saying things like, "I hate you!" when she figures things out quickly. There's much, much more to this conversation, but suffice it to say I had some major alarm bells going off. I know enough about adolescent development to not brush off what she is telling me. In her world, these things are significant, even though I know that they will eventually pass and things will get better. Telling her that, though, is not really listening to her, or giving her the support she needs. And I know enough about development to know that my offering her solutions is frequently counterproductive. About all I can do is say, "I completely understand."

I suggested she talk with her aunt and uncle about things going on with her dad and stepmother. My days of influence with her dad are long gone - I forfeited that in the divorce. She's not sure that's what she wants to do, but she did say repeatedly that she loves going to her aunt and uncle's house, because they feel more like home than her dad's house. Geez, it's so hard not to react when they tell me things because I get so frustrated listening to how things go when they are with their dad. They had just come off a weekend with them and her wounds, whether real or perceived, were very fresh in her mind. I did help her understand one of the things her dad talked to her about, but she is convinced that she can't talk to him about what is worrying her. That it doesn't matter or do any good....

In class she enjoyed writing on the board and got all of her homework done. She later informed me that my class was boring, to which I told her she didn't know what she was talking about. Of course she was bored - it didn't make any sense to her. She talked to me the whole way home, too - this time she talked more about things going on in school, and read to me the poems she wrote during my class. In one poem, she talked about suicide. Now I know that she wasn't threatening it, but my heart caught in my throat, yet I remained extremely calm as we continued to talk on the way home. The poem was more about understanding why people would take their own lives, but it was also filled with so much anger. I told her I remembered feeling the same way at 13... how it seemed at the time that would be easier than dealing with all the crap at school... how much I hated junior high and was so glad when it was behind me. That life gets better... I asked her if she had listened to P!nk's song "Conversations with my 13 year old self" - she said yes, but it had been awhile. She also talked about how she hated that she was making life difficult for me... to which I replied she wasn't making my life difficult at all - that my favorite part of life is being her mom, and that, among other things, means being there for her when she needs me.

When we got home, she came to me immediately and wrapped her arms around me. I held her for a very long time, and whispered to her that I love her and she has no idea how much joy she has brought me and I couldn't imagine life without her. A little while later she crawled into my lap and I held her in a near fetal position while her sister was getting ready for bed. I suggested she take a long hot bath, and she did - that perhaps it would make her feel better. And while she was in the tub, my youngest crawled into my lap and burst into tears, too. Telling me that her day had been awful....

My oldest decided to restart our conversation journal. She wrote to me prior to bed, and now it's my turn to write back to her. We did this right after the divorce, and it seemed to help her process. Her anger pours off the page. I have no idea what I will respond back. The anger is directed toward "everybody."

Through all of this, there's not a moment that I wish for anything different. While I would love for my children to not be feeling such pain, I am beyond thankful that they feel safe enough to talk to me and to curl up in my lap. Nothing else mattered on Tuesday. Not the class, or anything else. All that mattered for me is that my children consider me a place of refuge.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

41 things continued

3. Watch Harry Potter 3
4. Watch Harry Potter 4
5. Watch Harry Potter 5
6. Watch Harry Potter 6

Clearly, our HP marathon is now complete!

7. Read The Help - this book has been sitting on my bedside table for over a year, along with a number of other books. I got into it this week so much that I stayed up until 2:30 one night finishing it.

8. Declutter the living room - yeah, that one speaks for itself. Tons of movies not returned to where they belong, not to mention stuff that needs to have a home.

9. Organize photographs - When I moved into this house 4 years ago I brought with me a bag of photographs from 2001-2006, as well as several photo albums. After we decluttered the living room yesterday, I pulled those out and organized them. The girls have breen putting them into the empty photo albums and they are almost done. Interestingly, there are no photographs since 2006, other than a few that were given to us from Ashley's first grade class and some from a few regular cameras we had around.

More to come!

Sunday, October 31, 2010

41 things

One of my favorite months starts tomorrow. November. My birthday month. I'm just like a little kid around birthdays in some ways.

This year I decided I should do 41 things that I want to do between now and the big day. So far I've done 2.

1. Watch Harry Potter 1
2. Watch Harry Potter 2

Obviously, I'm going to watch all the Harry Potter movies between now and November 19 - so that means 7 things are decided. I do think the movie studio releases the movie just for me. They know I'm a big fan.

Very curious what I will end up doing for the other 34. :)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Lap Time

The estrogen is clearly running amuck in my household. Both of my girls seem to be having emotional breakdowns that I completely understand, and I've wanted to help ease the pain for them somehow... but at the same time I really can't solve their problems and concerns.

Separately, both girls needed to sit in my lap tonight and curl up in a fetal position. They just needed to talk and cry and get out some of the angst, sadness, and emotion that is consuming them. I put down everything I was working on and just held them. Didn't really offer advice, but pulled them close, stroked their hair, kissed their foreheads, and held them.

And while I know I'm not God, I couldn't help but think of all the times I've figuratively crawled into His lap, talked, and cried. I'm so glad that those arms are always open for me.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Me, this past summer, riding the zip line
the day I picked the girls up from camp

My girls go to the same camp I went to as a child. We LOVE this camp. LOVE IT. No other words to describe it. My kids go for four weeks every summer, and they get to ride horses, water ski, swim, dance, putt putt, wilderness skills, etc. It's a teaching camp, and the time is needed so skills can develop.

I've been jealous of them for the past three years, and when I picked them up this summer I had a long conversation with one of the directors about how I'd love to work there again.

Well... that conversation has continued off and on, and finally reached a point that I went to visit there this past weekend and had a conversation with the directors about next summer. When I left, we had an agreement in principle that we would try to make something work. Don't know yet, as they have to see how the staff shakes out, but they are interested, I'm interested, and we just have to see if it is right. One of the issues is how long I could work. Six weeks would be ideal, but they could really use ten weeks. Part of what they need to do is see if they can find someone to do the same job I would do for the last four weeks of camp.

Sooooo.... I might be at camp with my kids this summer!

I'm a little concerned about invading their space, but at the same time this is something I've thought about doing when they are older. If I can make it happen, and it helps me to pay for camp, why not? It truly is one of my favorite places on earth.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

I've Become One of THOSE Neighbors

Just call me Mrs. Kravitz.

Ok, so maybe I haven't become one of those neighbors, but the neighbors' dog is driving me stark raving mad.

It's a beautiful brown puppy. Full of energy. Clearly bored. Wants to play. Doesn't get enough attention. Looks a bit like this:

But it has decided it likes my house.

It likes my house A LOT.

So much so that it:
  • stole the roller blades [have you ever felt how heavy roller blades are?] out of my garage and took them across the street.
  • barged into my house when we were coming in, run into DD2's bedroom and grabbed a bunny slipper [prey, you know] and took off with it.
  • Knocked DD2 down while she is trying to roller blade or ride the scooter.
  • Destroyed DD1's school project that she's been working on for several weeks.
I could go on. What have I done?
  • Walked over to the neighbor's house with the dog, rang the doorbell, introduced myself to the man who lives there [Ok, that's sad], and said "I hate to meet you like this, but you really need to do something about the dog. He's causing a number of problems at my house."
  • The next day the dog was back at my house - I walked back over there, rang the doorbell and got no answer, so I left a note on their car asking them to PLEASE do something about the dog, that he is terrorizing my house, destroyed the project, etc.
  • I've now parked my car in the driveway so the dog won't go into my garage, where the project is being worked on. I can't even use my own garage!?!?!?!?!
  • Sent the girls over with the dog, asked them to ring the doorbell, and deliver the dog home.
  • I've gone back over there and talked to the woman who lives there and asked "What is the plan for the dog? This is becoming a huge problem."
  • Within less than a half hour, I yelled at the boy playing basketball in their driveway to please come get the dog, who was back at my house AGAIN.
I'm really a nice person. I'm a good neighbor. But seriously... at what point do you call Animal Control? Because they are clearly not controlling that animal. The dog has been back at my house again this morning. I understand that some things might take time, but I have a child who is crying because she can't go outside, my car parked outside in the driveway, and high blood pressure - over a neighbor's DOG!

Where's Abner when you need him?

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sisters Sitting Around The Table

Some of us sitting on the front steps of the sorority house

Last weekend I met up with nineteen other sorority sisters from when I was in college. Most were from the pledge classes after mine; three others pledged before I did.

As people arrived, it was amazing how the years literally melted away. It was so easy to walk through the house and think about things we did together there, and how much these women were a part of my life when I was in college. I know that I loved my college experience because of these women; I just don't know that I really appreciated what a special thing we had when we were in the midst of it.

I would be paying attention to the cameras :)

At dinner I sat close to the middle of the table, so I found myself engaged in multiple conversations at different times. But as I'm wont to do, I also found myself sitting there just absorbing the energy of the room, and thinking about what incredible people these women are. Each one has a story to tell about where life has taken them in the 19-21 years since we were in college together. Some are very successful professional women. Others stay at home with their kids. Some are married; some are single. All have made some difficult choices along the way, and all are women I respect and love. All of us were shaped by the joint experience that is our sorority - one that honored us as individuals yet allowed the group to be something greater than anything we could have done on our own.

Moments like these reconfirm for me what a great decision it was to be involved in Greek life. It's not about parties, really - although they are a lot of fun, and tend to be what turns the heads of 17 and 18 year old women as they are going through rush/recruitment.

No, what sorority is really about is much bigger than that. It's about the relationships that form that are truly life-long. It's about being supported as you move from home to college, a chance to learn who you are within a peer group, not to mention an opportunity to gain some valuable social and leadership skills in a safe environment. When people ask me why I'm still involved, it all boils down to this: I want to be sure that women have what I did when I was in college.

I loved sitting at that table with my sisters. And I truly can't wait to do it again.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Mom of the Year

I joke frequently that I'm competing for the "Mom of the Year" award. I also joke that I typically lose it within the first few hours of any given year.

Years can start at various times - for instance, now is the beginning of the school year, so I can be in the running for "Mom of the Year" again... just this time it's a school year.

Yeah, well... that's already gone.

Today - Open House. That went pretty well.

Afterwards - School supply and grocery shopping. Just a few incidents between the two darlings.

Then... piano lesson time. About an hour prior DD2 is practicing. She hit a part that she struggled with, kind of asked for help, then burst into tears. "I want to quit piano" she exhorted. Followed by this, and so much more:
Why won't you let me?

I hate piano!

It's not fair, Mom!

You love DD1 more than me!

I don't want to!

I hate you!!!!
Amazingly, I remained fairly calm during all of this. Fell into the arguing with her trap once or twice. Sent her to her room when she got really out of hand where she could kick, scream, yell to her heart's content without being in my face. As it was time to go to piano, I made her go. Didn't yell at her, although I will admit I threatened spanking at one point. Pulled her from the house to the car, placed her inside, shut the door behind her, and quickly got in the car and got it started so the doors would be locked and she couldn't run away. She cried and screamed all the way over there [a whopping 2.5 miles]. When we got there, she grabbed onto the arm rest in the back seat, and I pried her off. I drug her into piano lessons, and informed her teacher (whom I adore) that I would be staying.

She finally calmed down during DD1's piano lessson, and then asked to sit in my lap. I welcomed her with open arms. Held her tightly for a good 15 minutes. Kissed her forehead. Told her I love her.

Then she proceeded to have a great piano lesson.

Ok... whatever.

It's one of those things I struggle with. I think she needs piano, and I've told her that when it comes to piano, it's non-negotiable. Music works your brain differently than reading, writing, math, dance, etc. And I've been concerned that when she gets to something difficult, she just stops. Gives up without even trying. Turns on those beautiful eyes of hers and somebody comes to her rescue. And I know, deep in my heart, that if I let her stop now, at some point in her life she will regret it. It's not like she's a horrible piano player... she's fabulous. Has a natural gift.

But geez, Louise, this one was tough today. It would have been easy to just give in. We had this argument a number of times last year, too.

And while she fought me today, she really didn't fight me all that hard, other than yelling at me and saying, "I hate you!" with such venom and ferocity that she clearly wanted me to react. She didn't appreciate that I didn't speak to her while she was screaming at me. She really didn't appreciate it when I started to chuckle several times. I told her before, just as I told her today - I'm not interested in conversing with her when she's upset or screaming. I also know she's tired - we got up early today for Open House, and we will have a readjustment period to school.

Yet when it comes down to it, I really have no idea if I'm doing the right thing. God, I hope that I am.

Despite all of that, what is most clear to me is how much this whole situation is like God's love for us. We kick and scream. We think we know better. We tell the Divine that we hate him/her, yet the love just never stops. The lap is always there ready for us to climb into it.

Unconditional love. I get it.

Mom of the Year? It'll never happen.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The Battle of "Alone"

I went to the gym today - not an abnormal occurrence in my world... matter of fact, quite normal... but today marked the first day in an entire week that I have gone. That is actually the abnormality. I typically go 3-5 times a week. I need it for mental health reasons.

One of the things that amazes me is how the music I need to listen to just seems to find me. One of the first songs that came up was "Defying Gravity" from the Wicked soundtrack. I listened to it and suddenly realized: "Yes. There it is."

Lines that got me today:
You can have all you ever wanted...
I know. But I don't want it. No. I can't want it anymore.

Something has changed within me
Something is not the same
I'm through with playing by the rules of someone else's game.
Too late for second guessing
Too late to go back to sleep
It's time to trust my instincts, close my eyes, and leap.
It's time to try defying gravity.

I'm through accepting limits
Cause someone says they're so.

Too long I've been afraid of losing love I guess I've lost.
Well if that's love it comes at much too high a cost.

And if I'm flying solo
At least I'm flying free.
This summer has been odd. I've alluded to that before talking about going in circles. But what is intriguing to me is that I came "this close" to losing myself again. There's a circle if ever there was one. I found myself justifying things that weren't what I really wanted in a relationship. Due to various circumstances and conversations, I was dealt a healthy reminder of what's important early on. I still fought it, but I think I may have finally learned this lesson. I certainly hope I have, anyway.

I may not want to be alone when all is said and done. But I'd rather be alone and happy with who I am than to have compromised on what I want just so I'm not alone.

I have to admit how frustrating being a single mom is at times. It does get lonely. While I regret nothing, there are times that my desire to be a bit more free and able to date and do various things that are "responsibility free" can be huge. Usually hits when I meet someone who I really want to be with who is more "responsibility free" than I am because there are no kids at home. And it's hard not to feel that someone loses interest in me because I'm a mom with kids who will be around for at least another 8 years - that the other person doesn't want to give up his lifestyle for mine. I've felt that now 3 times, but it has only been confirmed to me once.

It's sad, really. I have two fabulous children. They are the lights of my life and I enjoy them more than they can ever realize... at least until they have their own children - then maybe they'll know. They add so much depth and joy to my being, and while I'd love to share that with someone, I cannot compromise on what I want and need just to have someone else. That's what got me here in the first place. And while my kids do cause me to be more permanently bound to where I live than I'd like to admit, where I live has such a shallow dating pool it isn't funny.

One day I might go from being a MILF to a MILHARW [Mom I'd like to have a relationship with - and yes, I find both acronyms amusing], but until then, I hope the frustration that I've felt of late doesn't overtake the sheer joy I have because of my children. I was glad they weren't home to witness that frustration, honestly.

What I know: I can't lose myself again. I can't change who I am for anyone else. And I don't need to compromise on what I need/want so I'm not alone.

Matter of fact, I won't. And if I have to listen to this song 100 times a day to remind me of that, then so be it.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Least Complicated

"the hardest to learn was the least complicated"

Things I've heard lately that fuel my thoughts - some of these are in my own head... some of these are from friends:
  • "I hate to see you wasting your time."
  • "What do you want?"
  • "Live in the present."
  • "If only life offered us more easy answers."
  • "Don't settle."
I've been listening to the voices, and I'm sensing a pattern. And none of this seems complicated, yet I tend to make it so. I think the answers may be easier than I realized.

And what I thought represented a fresh start seems to be nothing more than a circle.

Back to moving forward again.

Saturday, May 29, 2010


I haven't written here in awhile, and I've decided that it is because I've been going around in circles. Personally, professionally, and literally with the constant taxi driving.

That seems to be changing.

Professionally, I expected it in some way. My cohort just graduated, and I spent the better parts of March and April getting them out the door. I still have work to do for them to be "done," but it's not pressing yet, but will be done by the end of this week. I've had a hard time focusing with work, but again - that's what happened last time I finished a cohort. I'm so very proud of them and how much they have grown. And consequently, I'm mourning them a little bit. Tons of energy poured into them - probably more than they can ever realize, but that's ok. They fed me for so long, more than they realized, too. That mourning will likely continue awhile.

Yet that caused me not to get to the gym like I needed to. I had not been able to run because of injuring my knee training for and during the half marathon. And the girls have been needy with end of the school year things. And my house got very messy. Things around me seemed out of whack, and in some ways I felt like I was sinking back into a hole that felt too familiar. Needs of everyone else consumed me, and I couldn't get a breath of air.

So at the end of March/beginning of April I started coming to terms with what was happening, and reassessing where I was. And started taking those small steps to stop spinning in circles. To breathe again.

The girls were on spring break the last week of March/first week of April, and while I worked that week, I also took a little bit of time for me. Went to Atlanta, did therapy of all kinds, including a wonderful girls' night out, and then stayed in a hotel downtown. The combination of the therapies and that night helped me put some things in perspective. I knew that work would be crazy until May, but I didn't have to let that impact me personally, too. On the way home from Atlanta, I rode home with the radio up and windows down, and felt a lot of baggage just floating out the window. I felt different when I got home.

That night I got a text from a man who I've talked to for several years, but really didn't know. And we started going to dinner, and to coffee. We've seen each other several times a week for the past two months, and I'm enjoying his company. Enjoying a fresh perspective. I find the timing intriguing - just as I'm letting some things go and working to stop spinning in circles, here comes a new friend who seems to be here at just the time I need something different. Someone who doesn't represent a circle.

Meanwhile, I'm taking steps to get things back in order. They are small steps. I've been able to start running again. I cleaned my office at work, and started the task of spring cleaning - The girls' rooms, my closet, bathroom, and drawers have all been tackled. Sometime this week I'll get to the garage, kitchen, laundry room, my "pile" in the living room, and corner of my bedroom.

The girls are gone this week - the first of 6 weeks without them this summer, and while I miss them, I'm appreciative of a lull in the taxi driving and the chance to get caught up on some things for me.

Time to move forward.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Brains in my Head and Feet in My Shoes

What a great day!

The weather outside? Frightful. Cold, rainy, miserable, dreary. Occasional sleet. If we lived 15 miles north we would have had snow. It's one of those days that you just want to crawl under the covers with a good book, or sit by the fire and not go anywhere.

So, what did I do today? Student observations - all day long. The longest day of observations I've had in a very, very long time. And I have to admit, I wasn't looking forward to it when the day started.

I walked into the first observation this morning and was pleasantly surprised with what I saw. The student has been struggling somewhat, but today she was prepared, enthusiastic, and reading Dr. Seuss aloud to her kids, since today is his birthday.

I have to say this just made me very happy. First, to see her doing better. But secondly, to hear Dr. Seuss, and be reminded that something so simple can be so beautiful.

After I left her classroom, I posted a "Seussism" on facebook. It just seemed appropriate.

From there I went to another school, and started making my rounds. After awhile, I decided to change my facebook status to another "Seussism," and I continued to do this close to hourly all day.

The day progressed - more observations, lunch with my daughter, a trip to Starbucks when I finished my rounds (since that just sounded good since it was so cold and I only had about 45 minutes before school was out, so going to my office seemed pointless), a stop at the book fair after school, dance practice, band concert, a rushed trip to Wendy's after the concert so we didn't starve, and beginning a new book at dinner that NONE of us have read tonight (thanks to the book fair).

The day itself wasn't phenomenal in many ways - just another day of work and our weekly routine, for the most part.

But today... today... I greatly enjoyed today. There was something about being in an elementary school all day, watching kids, observing students make progress, thinking about Dr. Seuss, even seeing a principal dressed up as The Cat in the Hat [whole 'nuther thought process about that, but that's an aside], going through the Tuesday afternoon routine plus some with my kids that just resonated with me today.

Dr. Seuss was part of it. That man left us so much wisdom in such simple ways:
"Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing is going to get better. It's not."

"A person's a person, no matter how small."

"If you never did you should. These things are fun and fun is good."

"So be sure when you step, Step with care and great tact. And remember that life's A Great Balancing Act. And will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed)"

Yeah, it's a balancing act, alright. Today was proof positive of that. There are so many more wonderful "Seussisms," but what great reminders he left us. Here's one more:
"You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go..."
I could have gone to dreary/miserable today - to have my mood match the weather. I didn't, though. Today, I was happy. Deep down in the gut happy. Why? Because I chose to see the positives rather than the negatives. To be in touch with simple truths rather than complex frustrations. To see how it is all about the children, whether they are mine or someone else's. To know that what I do and how I do it impacts so many. And in so doing, feel a part of the greater good in this world.

What a great place to go.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

"Coolest Professor"

This weekend I went to Homecoming festivities for the university where I work. This year, rather than random events planned by each college, "tailgating" was determined to be the thing to do. In previous years, my college had done a "wine and cheese" event that was sparsely attended at best.

We don't have a football team, so any type of homecoming revolving around a game of any kind has to be basketball or baseball. Basketball it is! Consequently, homecoming is in February. Feels so incredibly odd to me. And, since it is February, you never know exactly what the weather will be. Cold, usually. Last weekend it snowed.

This weekend, however, was a balmy 66 degrees in the afternoon.

I wasn't sure that I would make it to "Tent City" - my ex-husband was a bit late picking up the girls, and I had some other things to take care of, but around 1:00 I headed over there thinking the event would be winding down. I couldn't have been more wrong! Hot dogs, chips, drinks, and a handful of my colleagues were at the College of Education tent. I spent the afternoon kicking back with my colleagues, eating, drinking beer, and just enjoying the fabulous weather. I even got sunburned? Yeah. I did. I took off the sweater I was wearing over my camisole and soaked up the sun for several hours. February! Who knew?

We didn't have a huge alumni turnout, but some of my students came by, including a group of seniors and a group of juniors. The juniors asked me to get in a picture with them, and I was highly amused when I came home to find that the picture had been uploaded to facebook and the caption was "Coolest professor ever... hands down." The seniors [not in my cohort] and I had a grand time talking. And one of them, after awhile, asked, "Do you have a tattoo?" To which I said, "No, why?" She then replied, "Of all of our professors, you seem most likely to." My response was, "Really??"

Basically, though, from conversations I've had, etc, this particular group of students sees me as real.

And I find that intriguing.

Why wouldn't we be real? There's still a power differential, certainly, but shouldn't there be an effort on both students and professors to get to know one another? Don't we teach about the importance of relationship and knowing the community where we teach? Why wouldn't I do the same thing?

On the other hand, while I've had students tell me how "good" I am, etc (although I would venture to say that cohorts PRIOR to these groups have a different view of me - no way I would have had a tattoo in their eyes), since I began teaching here, I do worry about the line. We're all available for our students, and we all care about our students, but it does seem that I get more invested in them than a number of our faculty. I worry sometimes that I get "too" invested. And I don't care about being the "coolest" - in some ways that implies "slack," and I know that isn't the case.

Meanwhile, this "cool"/"real" professor loves her job. How could I not?

And no. No tattoo. Yet.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010


Since I was in college, I've practiced giving up something at Lent - it's not something required by any religious denomination I've ever been a part of... it's just something I've chosen to do. The girls and I talk about it, too, and it always intrigues me what they give up.

DD1 has decided to give up lip gloss? Wow, has she become a tweenager. Last year she gave up chocolate.

DD2 can't decide yet, but I THINK she's going to give up leaving her room messy. She cracks me up.

As for me, it's been a hard call. Last year I gave up soft drinks and chocolate, but gave myself an out if I had a migraine. Sure enough, with 3 days to go I had a migraine, so I started downing coke trying to kick it.

I believe I've finally settled on sweets, desserts and candy - all of which I eat way too much of. I thought about giving up facebook, but decided against that because it is the main vehicle my students use to communicate with me. It has become a horrible temptation at times, as I have a tendency to follow bread crumbs with people and what they are willing to put out for public consumption, particularly at night when I'm allowing inertia to win rather than go to bed. It has caused me some unnecessary grief, exhaustion, not to mention hours of time in front of the computer that I don't need to be spending. Anyway, instead of giving it up entirely, I'm limiting my time on it as well as news feed prompts and my profile only. Sounds crazy in some ways, but makes perfect sense in my little world.

We'll see how it goes. Tomorrow.

Not tonight. :)

Today's Favorite Quote

Came across this in my reading today:
But I think we have an obligation to empower those we teach to understand that this democracy is very much a work in progress and that if they can't achieve the skills to take an active role as citizens in struggles to bring progress in their grown-up years, the injustices they suffer now will never change. (Jonathan Kozol, Letters to a Young Teacher, p. 155)
If that doesn't put into perspective the importance of education, I don't know what does.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Snow Day!

What a strange, but glorious day!

I knew before I went to bed last night that the girls' schools were closed, so I turned off DD1's alarm prior to going to bed. I pretty much figured I would still have to work today, and turns out I was right. I had hopes of sleeping until 7:15 or so prior to my 8:30 class.

6:25 this morning, she comes into my room to ask why her alarm is off.


As I was finishing getting ready for work around 7:42, DD2 comes into my room and asks why we aren't leaving for school, because "it's time." Never mind that she's not dressed.

So, I taught this morning while the kids stayed home and watched tv/played on the computer - great teaching day, btw - and then went to Kroger with the rest of the crazies around noon. My main reason for going was to buy a whole chicken - the one thing I neglected to buy with my earlier grocery shopping this week. Of course, I also bought popcorn, chocolate chips, eggs, and the obligatory milk. Necessities during a snow storm, no?

Once I got home, I channeled my inner domestic goddess and started boiling a chicken for soup and baking bread for tonight's dinner. Meanwhile, the girls were full of anticipation. They kept waiting on snow to start... which it finally did, around 4:00. AFTER they would have been home for the day from school. Whatever.

The snow started, the girls went outside and STAYED outside for a good three hours. OH, what fun! I went out a number of times, mainly to take pictures, but didn't stay out - they had stolen my gloves and my cold weather shoes so I didn't have the proper gear, but this is a legitimately good snowfall, particularly for middle Georgia.

They came in around 7, after extensive snowball fights, snow people creation, and all around good fun. I love how they think - they used peppermint patties, suckers, and twizzlers for buttons, eyes, nose, and mouths of the snow people.

Shortly after the kids came in, both the soup and bread were ready. How's that for timing? The kids were ravenous, and they devoured both and talked about how fantastic both were. Yes, they pushed the right buttons - and my favorite sense of pure bliss that emerges from time to time just engulfed me.

The Olympics are on, and the girls and I have curled up - them with the cat, me with a large glass of wine, and other than my trip outside to wipe the snow off the satellite receiver when we lost reception a few moments ago, we are settled, happy, and content. I'm looking forward to a weekend of snow, Olympics, movies, and all around savoring my children.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Heart Hurting

I went to the gym this morning in pretty decent spirits. For the first time in a long time, I've been able to get four days in a row of exercise, so mentally and emotionally I'm feeling pretty good.

Except for one thing. I saw a friend of mine at the gym this morning, and his countenance just wasn't right. A little later I was talking to a mutual friend and found out that my friend and his wife are getting divorced - hence the countenance being a little off. I didn't see this one coming, as I see both of them fairly frequently, and from what I gather, I don't think he did either.

As a divorced woman, I really and truly can empathize with what they are going through. And while I've been in the wife's shoes (fairly sure she is the one who initiated it), my heart just hurts for them. The kids, their friends, the two of them... not a thing about the situation is easy. I don't think anyone decides to get divorced on a whim. And it's certainly not anyone's dream to get divorced.

Love is a beautiful thing, but when it falls apart, particularly after so many years, it can be brutal.

Meanwhile, I'm keeping them and their family in my prayers.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Education Reform

It is rare for me to agree so passionately with something I've read, but this article nails what education reform should look like in elementary schools. I highly encourage folks to read and share. I wish with my whole heart that students experienced this on a daily basis. The problems that would be solved in schools would be unbelievable. Discipline problems, boredom, teacher burnout - how wonderful would this world be without them on the scale we have now!

Sunday, January 17, 2010


I don't make New Year's Resolutions - why, you know? Why make something that I know I will break? I do, though, think of things that I want to focus on and make a few changes - things that will be ok to do just in the short term if necessary. But they don't necessarily happen at the start of a new year. Exercise, for example - started in February. February 21, 2008 to be exact. And that has been and will always be a daily decision.

One of the things I decided I want to do more recently of is read. I love books. I surround myself in books. I remember being in upper elementary school and junior high and going to the bookstore in the mall while my mom shopped [Mom shopping is another blog post in and of itself, but I digress]. I would spend hours looking through the books, often reading a good bit of them prior to my mom finding me. Allowance money went to books and I devoured books in a sitting, and would go back and read them over and over.

As I've gotten older, I don't read as much, even though I still love books. The reasons are many - my preference is to read a book in one sitting, and who has time for that? Or I stay so busy with my job and the kids that reading becomes a luxury. Or I re-read books, preferring old friends rather than risking wasting time on a book that turns out to be a dud. There's almost a fear to starting a book (which is an intriguing fear to me) - what if it isn't good, or if it is too intense? I do know that part of why I don't read as much as I could is that when I get engrossed in a book, I don't put it down, and reading at bedtime means that there are some nights that lights don't get turned off until 3 or later. That really does a number on my system.

I often wonder why I quit reading voraciously - it may have had something to do with my marriage. My ex is a TV watcher, and there was a TV in every room. Whatever room he was in the TV was often on, and he really never was a reader. I don't know that he ever finished more than 3 books the whole time we were married. So, did I quit reading because of him? It's possible - so much of my identity seems to have been swept away in that relationship. When I went back to school for my doctorate, I suddenly had an excuse to read. It wasn't fiction, but I loved it - each word seemed to help bring me back to life. I remember several weekends during the doctoral program I read up to five books - oh, glorious times!

My kids and I go to bookstores frequently, and I find that it brings out the same response in me that it did as a child - I could stay there for hours on end. I buy books for them and for me, and have included it as a line item in my budget. I have a huge stack of books to read that I've bought over the past few years. Have I read them? No, not really.

Why not? Probably because I am online A LOT. How many books could I be reading rather than what's online? And is it really going to change all that much? My OCD kicks in when I'm online and check the same things over and over - email, email, email, email [yes, that's 4 different email accounts], facebook, twitter, the blogs I subscribe to, etc... Click, click, click, click... how many books could I have read instead?

So - my non-resolution is to read more that's not online. Today I read a book cover to cover and it felt divine! Decadent, even. Why don't I do this more often? Thus far this year, I've read two complete books from my pile of books, and I have a book that I read at night that won't suck me in, as it is non-fiction.

Glorious day. A very satisfying day.