Tuesday, August 13, 2019

#sol19 Birthdays

Being a young thing and thinking your special day would never get here? 
Wanting a special cake, a new toy, an outrageously expensive outfit?
Being asked what you wanted for your birthday and not knowing what to want?
Being on the edge of that driver's permit and waiting not so patiently to go to the DMV?
Waiting not so patiently for the day when you could legally consume an adult beverage?
Thinking "that" birthday meant you were getting old?
Gratitude for a birthday shared with friends and loved ones?

I remember
There was a time when there were birthdays almost every day in August (for my family)! 
Celebrations in kitchens, on campgrounds, at the ocean, with cousins, at the ocean.
Discount cards for Michael's, Joanne's, Talbots .......
Happy ones and not so happy ones. \Busy ones and quiet ones.

It is one of my cousin's special days.
I wish her a happy day and the start of a good year;
I want to remember that every day,
Not just a birthday,
Is a special day.

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

#sol19 Thanks for the Rain

I'd slept fitfully for several nights as the heat and humidity built up both outside and inside my home. The over-sized, Casablanca-style, fan usually did the trick; not this week. The first warnings of thunderstorms and flash floods had been 24 hours ago! I was tired, grumpy and waiting for a break in the weather when finally, the sky took on that familiar dark blue hue.

I hunkered down through the first, second, third and fourth rounds of the storm as water poured from the sky and the temperature slowly began to drop. I ventured out through the flooded streets to rescue a commuter; however, this was not to be a night for errands!

Several hours after it all started, the power and internet went out while the gentle rain continued as if on a mission to refresh the parched earth.

I opened the front door slowly to survey the damage and felt the peace, that follows a big storm, envelope the neighborhood. The change in the air was profound and so I sat for a while, on the porch, thankful for the rain even though it had caused delays, flooding, and accidents.

I thought of the power of water to harm and to help. I guess it's like so many things in life: coffee, chocolate, wine, fast cars. They help us in reasonable amounts; however, too much, is harmful.  Then, even though it was still fairly early, I went up the dark stairs, brushed my teeth in the dark, and climbed into the dark bed, thankful for the rain.

Friday, July 19, 2019

#sol19 It happened to someone today

Four years ago,  the life I was living came crashing to a halt. I was exhausted and hanging on for "summer" amidst end of the school year craziness and end of life care-giving when it happened. I was hot and tired and had a tire that was leaking like a sieve! I still had a few end of the year reports to do! I did not see it coming.

I spent the first weeks in a fog interspersed with relentless anxiety attacks. Later, I spent months in shock interspersed with tears. The days-weeks-months crept forward as I dealt with loss interspersed with challenges including settling an estate and moving forward. I walked endless miles trying to remain sane. I asked, "Why me?"  Most people did not notice my pain but my weight fell precipitously and I was not always present.

Amazingly, while my world was in shambles, I still needed to get up each day, go to work, buy groceries, and pay bills. One day, as I dealt with a particularly grumpy individual,
I started to tell my story, as if that would make him kinder to me!  It did not and in fact only made me feel worse!

I lost friends. I lost my home. I cried buckets of tears. I became depressed.

I went to therapy.I I stopped blaming myself. I started to smile. I joined a gym. I bought a new sofa. Slowly, and not without set backs, I was able to start living again. Some days, I smiled, I started to see that I could make the day a good one for me and for those around me. I'm still on the journey to recovery, whatever that is, but I am not alone on that journey that I now believe to be called life.

Every day, someone in your inner circle is facing something challenging, their own it!
Every day, someone you meet is facing something challenging, their own it!
Always, the its of life are life-altering and sometimes they are life ending.
Most of us have many its on the journey through life.

Yet, we all still must go to work, pay bills and buy groceries.
Be kind and patient with those around you.
I'm pretty sure lots of people had it happen today.

Remember: You're braver than you believe, and stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think." A.A. Milne 

Saturday, July 13, 2019

#sol19 Perspective

As I sat on the porch, working,
On descriptive statistics, 
The neighborhood was quiet,
The gentle breeze was present, 
The temperature was perfect,
The Classical for Studying was great.

Sure, the vacuum was raring to go,
There were dishes in the sink,
There was laundry to do,
There were weeds to be pulled,
There was mulch to be spread.

But, this just seemed like
The best place to be.
I am pretty sure there is a
Positive correlation 
Between lovely days,
Human productivity
So today I worked,
In a first world sort of way,
After a mile+ swim,
In the breeze,
With Pandora
And a pot of tea
On the porch.

Monday, July 8, 2019

#sol2019 Got Books

When you have books, you have tickets to worlds beyond your own. You can travel with the Little Blue Truck  through the city and into farms. You might spend moments with Dragons Who Love Tacos, even if they are extinct. You can learn to follow directions with Strega Nona !

When you have books, you can't wait to share them with your friends.

When you love books, you have to share them with those you love.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

#sol19 Strong and Resilient

"It seems a bit early for fireworks," I thought as I looked out the window to determine from where the noise was coming; yet, before the thought was jelled, I realized that it was July 1 and indeed it was the season. 

I made my way onto the porch to catch the show; yet, before I was settled into my spot, my mind began to wander to the many seasons where "bombs bursting in air" marked the holiday.

There were years when I caught incredible, professional shows from on the crowded Capital Mall and years where I saw glimpses of backyard shows before, after, or perhaps even on the holiday.

There were years when neighbors put on illicit shows in the days before or after when we hoped our house would remain intact and years when we our own little sparklers lit up the backyard. 

There were happy years at the beach and quiet years when it was Macy's show on TV. There was the sad 4th when I sat in my attic and cried. 

It's clearly not a "one day and gone away" holiday! The lights and sounds do seem to be a reminder that we, as individuals, and we, as a nation, are strong, powerful, and resilient.

"And the rocket's red glare, the bombs bursting in air,
Gave proof through the night that our flag was still there."

Monday, June 24, 2019

#sol19 The Best Gift

The end of school, graduations, weddings, and in some weird synchronous way, funerals, provide opportunities to celebrate life and accomplishments.
They are times when we connect with or gather with family and friends.
They are also opportunities to reflect on those we hold dear.
I've had a few of late.
I've noticed the strength of those who have persevered after loss of jobs, spouses, children.
Life often, perhaps always, takes unexpected turns.
What helps you find the strength to go forward?
I've watched the tenacity of those who care for medically frail and chronically ill.
Life does not usually go according to plan.
What helps one pick up the "baton" and lead the charge?
I've seen the power of determination to make dreams come true and miracles happen.
Someone is always the "first" to break through some glass ceiling.
What empowers us?
I've observed the fulfillment of the promise, "In sickness and in health."
No one can prepare you for life in a wheelchair, aphasia, strokes, Alzheimers....
Where can someone find that kind of strength?
I'm wondering if taking care of our physical and spiritual body is a gift to our families?
Is 70 the new 60...and 80 is the new 70......or are we kidding ourselves?
How do we nourish our bodies and souls?
Is eating right and exercising enough?
I'm sure of the need for Parents, Aunts, Uncles, Cousins, Grandparents, Great-Aunties, our lives.
I'm sure that extended families are invaluable.
I'm sure that June will always be a time for thinking and reflection.
I'm sure that the end of school, graduations, weddings, and in some weird synchronous way, funerals, provide opportunities to celebrate life and accomplishment.
I'm not sure of much else.
Image result for gift image

I'm wondering if the best gift is to be present in the lives of others?
I'm wondering if the best gift we can give is to serve as model of how to live?
I'm wondering if the best gift we can give is modeling HOW to persevere in spite of obstacles?

Sunday, June 23, 2019

She was a wise one.

I heard the dish, gifted long ago by my mother-in-law, crack moments after I put it into the oven. I had noticed many hairline cracks long, long ago; yet, the dish had continued to serve.

I remember commenting on the beautiful dish, long ago, when we took my toddler to buy red-patent-leather shoes at Marshalls. "Grandma" loved to deck my toddler in "bargain" holiday shoes for Christmas and Easter and so we were on a specific mission that day.  Clearly my daughter did not need red patent leather shoes, but Grandma insisted that she all needed "something pretty and special."

"That's lovely," I commented noticing the dish near the check-out. As a busy mom, my goal was to put food on the table quickly and "presentation" was not high on my priorities. "So impractical," I added smiling.

"You know," the wise one offered, "You too deserve to have something pretty and special, even if it is not practical."

The dish was wrapped for me that Christmas.  I knew in my heart she had gone back the next day to get it for me even though it was impractical.

There are very few pieces of  my "old" life left, and those I held onto because they elicited happy memories or because they were just lovely, are starting to give-in to the wrath of time and use.

I'm going to miss that old impractical, yet well used dish and wonder if it cracked today to serve as a reminder that we are all special, even if we've been cracked, and we all deserve something special once in a while. After all, I am the "Grandma" these days.

I've got the doctorate, but she was a wise one.

Monday, June 17, 2019

#sol19 Royal Reader

Truth be told, I am not a fan of calling parents into school for more than one (maybe two) publishing parties a year. There are many ways to share writing with valued audiences, including parents, that don't add stress and guilt to already stretched-thin parents.  Sending writing home, taping presentations, sharing videos, social media; think about it, there are SO many possibilities to keep parents in the loop and aware of what is happening in classrooms. As a teacher and as a mom, I used to "dread" those invitations, especially right after "flu" or "strep" season when I was already treading on "thin ice."

I'm not a fan of "muffins for moms" or "donuts for dads" or "goodies" with grandparents as not only can this be an additional stressor, not all students come from families with this structure or a ready person that fits that profile. Naming them for what they are, opportunities to merge home and school, and encouraging siblings, aunties, uncles and friends can make such events more inclusive and still meet their objectives.

I do think it is critical that all schools, nursery through high school, look for inclusive ways that help all students see learning as partnerships between homes and schools.  It's important that students know family members care about them and their learning.  It's vital that parents and caregivers understand and know about what is happening in schools.

Last week, I participated in such an event: I was the Royal Reader in a grandchild's preschool classrooms! I could have been an Auntie, Uncle, Sibling or a did not matter, but I was crowned, "the Royal Reader of the Day."

Seriously, this is me sharing Dragons Love Tacos (Rubin) with 2 year-olds. We "Roooooareds" together and implored those dragons to NOT eat the spicy tacos, "" They did anyway.
The idea of a featured reader who shares a new book is certainly not a new idea and many teachers do it regularly!  The look on my grandchild's face was somewhat between, "What are you doing here?" and "You don't belong here!" 

Truth be told, it is a whole lot less stressful for me to get to school during the day now

Truth be told, I had a great time.  I love books and I love reading to and with children,  I could paraphrase Gillian Strickland in saying, "I may have tons of toys and experiences galore. But blessed am I to have a story read to me. 

If you are "local" and need someone to be a Royal Reader, I can to the job!  I even have references. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

A Good Day, In Spite of it All

I had a wonderful, early morning swim in a heated pool,
Making me feel like an old. Olympic swimmer,
In the rain, wind blowing, with the temp near 50.

I made it to my destination with a few minutes to spare,
Played rolling catch and snuggled a wee one,
Even though my tire found a 5 inch nail in the road,

I supported and hopefully inspired some of "my" teachers
With discussion, books, coffee cards,
Even though it was our last gathering.

I signed a contract for a wonderful new "job"
It's an honor to think I'm good enough,
Even though the scope scares the "bejezus" out of me!

I made my way slowly, but safely, home,
With a smile on my face,
In spite of the multi-car-rush-hour-fender-bender.

It was a good day,
With a fleet of guardian angels watching over me,
In spite of it all.