Saturday, June 29, 2013

Eye See


I get an eye exam once a year and because of a generous insurance policy, a new pair of glasses every year.

Those of you who wear glasses know the agony and thrill of this decision.  It's a chance to reinvent yourself, to jazz up your look, to justify the placement of the nose on your face.

Every year I spend my time in the waiting room before the exam trying on different styles of glasses and every year, what promises to be a fun little activity turns into a crisis in self-identity.  The frames that I pick out are supposed to bespeak a glamorous, a fun-spirited, kicky attitude.

I place them on my tiny little face and they sit there, clearly out of place--my date who dressed to the nines to go clubbing in Los Angeles is transported to a makeshift picnic in a weedy field compete with ants and gingham skirted-companion.

I try on another pair I think totally fit my personality.  They are nerdy/cool.  I see myself wearing them on the slick pages of a magazine. They scream "Wow!  This chick has it going on!"  I put them on my face and turn to toward the mirror. They scream all right, "Nooooooooo!  Seriously?  No!  Step away from these frames and get thee to the nunnery collection. Immediately.

It's enough to depress a nearsighted girl.

Now, I recognize that I have to deal with several factors when it comes to my glasses selection.  First, of all the glasses have to be big enough to accommodate my progressive prescription.  I am fair-skinned, so dark frames usually don't work since I have fine features that are easily overwhelmed, but most of all, I have a very small head.  I mean, it is seriously small.  Unless there is a child under the age of eight in the room, I can guarantee I will be the smallest-headed person at any gathering. Without the illusion afforded me my volumizing shampoos and conditioners, you would be able to see that my ears nearly touch in the back.

This year, while in the office before the exam, I cruised the frame section and  I had my annual identity crisis.  Because of my small head,  glasses in the children's section are usually my best bet. However, for a bit I want  to believe the world of adult glasses is available to me.  Alas. none of the ones I pick out work and so I go over to the kiddy frames placed in a spinning little wheel and find the funkiest frames there.

And I fall for them.  They are cutting edge, funky, and I hope cool.  With them, I think I will be I one of those women you see in a mall and think "Why, that woman is a perfume advertisement in a glossy magazine come to life!!"  A tag line dances around my feet "She knows herself and is not afraid to make life happen!!!"

Both the optician and the doctor just happen to be in the waiting room when I turn around in the glasses. I asked for their opinion.  The optician immediately shakes her head, "For one thing, those are too big."   "But I got them from the children's section!" I whine.  Then the doctor, ever the jokester, says, "Well, you'd better check our neonatal section then."

(Oh yes, laugh at the small-headed person.  Go ahead. Just don't call me when you drop  your gold ring, contact lens, or better yet something you really care about like your cell phone in the monkey cage at the zoo and need someone with a small head to lean through the bars to look for it.)

I have my exam and sit and wait for the optician to help me pick out my final frames.  She is kind, generous and patient.  She pulls a lot of frames out and sits them before me.  I look at them and sigh.  They all look the same.  She is encouraging as I try on various frames.   I feel just plain old in some of the frames.  I turn to her expecting a "Oh no, those aren't you at all. What was I thinking?" reaction.   Instead, she says, "Oh!  Those are nice!  Those would work!" 

Suddenly, it dawns on me that this poor deluded thing sees me as a middle-aged woman!  Doesn't she realize I am only 54?

Suddenly, I go to the children's section and pull out my funky frames again.   I sit down across from her at the desk.  I bob sideways, like a weighted plastic clown, from the mirror to her and back again, and then she starts to squint at me just a little.  Is she starting to believe in the vision? Is she starting to see the real me? Is she eager to get the crazy lady out of the office?  Perhaps.

Just then another optician walks out and says, "Oh, those are young and hip.  You could rock those."  I could kiss him full on the mouth. (Now I wonder if, like silent alarms at banks if the opticians' desks are outfitted with buttons that ring to bring out help from the back for their "special patients." )

"I'll take them, " I said.

Maybe I made a mistake with the frames, but what the heck?  It's only for a year. I've been through bigger changes. My students already think I'm wacky so these will suit their vision of me just fine.  if not now, when, my people?  I picked them up last night and love them!

Now, let's fold up this picnic blanket and get clubbin'.

By the way, is my tag line on straight?





(No one around to take a picture of me, so froggy stepped in to be my model!  Doesn't he look fine?)

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

That Intricate Dance




Twenty-five years ago the doctors placed upon my breathless chest, a boy who had just made his way out of the womb and into the world.  I felt his solid weight upon me.  He did not cry like most newborns.  Instead he stared up at me, silently.  We locked eyes and a feeling of primitive protectiveness like I had never known arose within me. 

The profound nature of this feeling was astonishing.  I had expected to feel deep love, but this feeling came from an even deeper place.  This was from the marrow of my bones, from the marrow of my ancestor’s bones.  It swept over me and at that moment, exhausted and wrung-out from childbirth though I was, I knew I would stand up and kill anything that endangered the life of this child.  

I was Woman Warrior and this was my offspring.  Back off.  Now.

At that moment I understood that there are emotions and then there are instincts.  Ever socialized and molded by a society that values conformity and meekness in girls, I had never felt such raw animal instinct before.  Protectiveness over one’s newborn has a biological cause and reason and except for a  few people, there is no choice or variation in the matter.  

And so the dilemma becomes clear.  As children grow, we have to balance that protectiveness with the letting go that growing up demands.  Ah, that is where we begin the intricate dance.  Step in.  Back off.  Hold his hand.  Let go of his hand.  Believe he can do it.  Know that he can’t.  Let him do it anyway.  Stop him from doing it.  Prevent falling.  Allow falling.  Pick up the injured.  Don’t.  Let him get up on his own.  No, help him up.  Say something.  Say nothing.

As parents we watch our children go out into the world and we gingerly touch the bull’s-eye that is now directly over our hearts, knowing we have so much to lose and yet knowing that this letting go, letting them take risks, is part of the bargain.

When he was in second grade, Sonny Boy wanted to walk to school by himself.  He begged.  He pleaded.  I walked him halfway.  That was not good enough.  He wanted to leave, shut the door with me on the other side and walk to school all by himself.  Finally, I agreed, but I told him I’d walk him out to the front porch and wave to him from there.   

“Then you’ll go back in?  You won’t follow me?”  I agreed.  

I waved at him, and then, when his back was turned, I went and made a dramatic slam of the front door from the outside.  I hit the concrete of the front porch immediately, squatting down and duck-walking over to hide behind the fern on the front porch.  I moved strategically around the fern like a crescent wrench on a bolt as he got farther and farther away.

As soon as he was out of sight, I sprang up, ran through the house, and into the back yard.  Our house backs up to the schoolyard, so I went to the corner of the fence, stood on my tip-toes, and waited the excruciatingly long thirty seconds it took him to get around the corner and then I saw him, swinging his Sonic the Hedgehog lunchbox, walking up the sidewalk.  He was so proud. 

I ducked down for a few seconds, walked a few feet and then bobbed up again.  I ducked down, walked a few feet and then I was up again.  By doing so, I could just keep him within sight until he reached the schoolyard. Anyone looking at the long expanse of fence would have seen my little blond head bobbing up and down-- a horizontal whack-a-mole. 


Over the years, that push-pull of protectiveness and letting go went on and on.  The debates over sleepovers, school parties, junk food, money, skateboarding, helmets, video games, movies filled the family airwaves. “You’re going where?”  “When?”  "Who are you going with?"  "Do I know this child?"

Then came the driving years.  

Yikes. Yikes.  Yikes.  

To the outside world, it seems so easy, so cut-and-dried.  You make rules and you stick to them!  Right?   However, when you are in the middle of the dance, it is anything but easy.  To complicate things further, even as our children push us away in their struggle for independence, they cling to us for support.  We are confused.  They are frustrated.  We feel that every decision means something.  Rules are made.  Rules are bent.  Rules change.  Independence.  Dependence.  Mastery over one’s environment, OK.  I get it, but at what risk? 


My boys, now 20 and 25, still roll their eyes at my not letting them see Titanic when it came out because I thought it would be too traumatic for them. (Spoiler alert: the ship sinks! People die!) I also banned “The Power Rangers,” The Brave Little Toaster, and a video game that had what I considered to be a disturbingly violent little monkey in it

Evan remembers with mortification when he was about sixteen and we were walking through a parking lot.  There was a car backing out slowly, and Evan saw no danger to himself, (and truthfully, looking back, there probably wasn’t any) but at that moment Warrior Mommy came out.  

I quickly pulled him away, walked toward the car that was still backing out and started pounding my fist on the trunk as if that would make the machine stop.  I yelled, “Hey!  Hey!”   Evan was so embarrassed.  “Mom!  Stop!” he said.  “What do you think you’re doing?  Jeez!”  He walked quickly away.  To him I was not Warrior Mommy.  I was Mom the Freak.  Take her home and don't let her out in public again.

I realize now why he was embarrassed.  I had taken away a bit of his maturity by stepping in the way I did, but I just couldn’t help it.  I saw a car coming towards my boy!  I acted! 

I give you these extreme examples of my behavior, but assure you that my boys were given plenty of opportunities to grow, to fall, to experience the world.  Independently they went on camping and ski  trips with friends and they explored our hometown on skateboards and bicycles.  As they got older, they made more and more of their own decisions, including ones that caused me to wince (inwardly writhe!) such as Sonny Boy's decision to get a motorcycle when he turned eighteen.  Intellectually, I totally understood what stages they needed to go through and for the most part I was pretty good at backing off and letting them go, but that protective gene still danced through my bloodstream.


When Sonny Boy was about 21 years old, he decided to sell that motorcycle on Craig’s List.  Three big, burly guys came over to take a look at the bike.  They met on the street in front of our house.  I went to the window and looked out, ready to go out there and throw all my 127 pounds at one of the brutes if I needed to. 

Sonny Boy’s girlfriend was in the room, working on the computer.  “How can you just sit there?” I asked. “Aren’t you concerned? These guys could be nut jobs.  They could rob Sonny Boy.  They could abduct him and force him into a van and drive him out to the desert!”  

She turned to me and said very calmly, “Sonny knows what he’s doing.  He can handle this.”  She was right of course and I admired her confidence and demeanor.  Still, something within my Mother Bones refused to let me leave. I stayed there, a sticky-footed frog, clinging to the window and craning my neck to see all that was happening, ready to go out, jump in my car and follow those maniacs into the desert if need be.

I know this feeling of protectiveness changes and morphs, as time goes on.  But does it ever truly go away?  As children get older, our ability to protect them wanes as they take over their own destinies. This is as it should be.  



Now that both of my sons are older and in college, I have very little say in what they do or don’t do.  While I trust both of them to make good decisions, the worry is still there. Is worrying what parents do after the years of actively protecting our children are past?  

And, just because they are gone, does not mean that active protective gene is gone from my bloodstream.   Vestigial, maybe, but there all the same.  

How do I know? 
  
Just ask the person riding in my car’s passenger seat when I have to make a sudden stop. You know what happens. The right arm automatically goes straight out as though with my one bony arm I can stop a human body from becoming a projectile out the front windshield. 


Perhaps that is what most of our protective actions are—just gestures against a world in which we have such little control and so very much to lose.  

The view from the fence, the fist on the car, the arm outstretched to catch the falling: illusory though they may be, we still need them.  


We do these things because we remember those babes in our arms.  


The weight of their bodies and souls never leaves us.






Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Happy Birthday, Sonny Boy!



The Dilemma:

If the mother of the Birthday Boy is at Point A and the Birthday Boy is at Point B, what is the mother of the Birthday Boy to do?

Devote her Blog Post to him!

Happy 25th Birthday, Sonny Boy!  I love you very much!  I send you hugs over the miles.  Thanks for choosing me to be your mother and for lighting up my world each and every day.




Monday, June 24, 2013

Monday Morning Flowers!


Darlings!

It's Monday!



That means it's flower time!



Are you excited about the upcoming week?



 I hope so!

Let's get out there and do our parts to make this world go 'round!



Earth's crammed with heaven...
                                                But only he who sees, takes off his shoes.

--Elizabeth Barrett Browning

Friday, June 21, 2013

Kia!!!


OK, OK, enough of all that serious stuff.

I now intend to obsessively discuss my dog in my blog.

My gosh, I love this animal!

You may remember I got her from the shelter in January.


Evan was leaving for college after his Christmas break and decided I should get a dog before he left.

Kia was so shy at the shelter.  She wouldn't come out to see us at all.  
She had to be carried out of her cage since she was more than a little freaked out.



It took awhile, but the girl has gotten her mojo now!  Here she is at the dog park, playing with her friend Bean. 

Kia is part Jack Russell and part Border Collie, so we spend A LOT of time at the park burning off energy!



The one deal breaker was she HAD to get along with my cats.  It took very little time before Mabel and Zelda had her whipped into shape.  They love their dog sister now.  

These two are double trouble in the morning when I am trying to read the newspaper.


I often get asked about her name.  As we left the shelter after we agreed to take her, we were trying out names.  I was thinking of "Sophie," or "Lily," or "Sadie."  Evan thought those names were all too girly for a sporty little model like this.  He was driving and looked ahead.  You can guess what kind of car was ahead of us!!  He said, "How about Kia?" Hey!  I agreed it fit her.  (Her middle name is Louise, just because I like saying "Kia Louse!")

Kia means so much to me and just having her around the house is wonderful!

(She's also made a dog lover out of a Certain Very Nice Man.  More on that soon!)

Hope you all have happy days!



Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Finding Your Way






Recently I was contacted by someone who is going through the same kind of journey that I’ve just been on.  For complicated reasons, I can’t contact her directly, but I believe she reads my blog, so I hope the following post helps her and anyone else out there who needs some reassurance right now.



I flew from Los Angeles into the Kansas City airport, collected my luggage and received my rental car at the curb.  Normally a Honda Civic driver, the sight of the huge Tahoe intimidated me.  However, later on in this trip I was going to be a driver on a road trip for five, so I needed the large vehicle. 

The skies were getting dark, and it was beginning to rain as got into the driver’s seat.  There was no GPS system in the car and the portable one I had packed was deep within my suitcase which was waaaaaay in the back of the Tahoe. 

I hurriedly asked the rental car guys for some directions to get to my old hometown where I would be spending the night with one of my best friends.  I heard numbers.  I heard the words “south” and “west.”  I tried to remember what they said to me as I pulled away from the white zone.  

The radio was on some sort of weird, static-filled talk station and at that point I couldn’t divert my attention from the road to even snap off the sound.  All the controls on the car were unfamiliar, but I managed to find the wipers as I looked for a place to pull over to get my bearings.  Alas, there were none.   All the roads out of the airport were busy with hurried drivers.  I joined the stream of travelers out onto the busy highway.

Now, this was not new territory.  I had made this trip dozens of times before. Kansas was my childhood home and it is absolutely lovely at the end of May.  The lush green hills rolled around me, but I was too busy concentrating on the road and worrying about the turns I would have to make.  The rain was coming down harder now.  They were big, full raindrops--the kind you only get in the midwest.

It was getting late, it was getting windy and the sky was a strange hue.  Thoughts of tornados entered my head.  I thought about what I should do if one were on the way.  Growing up in Kansas I had been through all sorts of tornado drills.  When I lived there, all that training had made what to do almost instinctual, but now those instincts had flown out of my head.  Or had they? These days, I am trained in what to do in an earthquake, but same precautions do not apply to both disasters. Would the right ones appear should I need them?  I drove onward, hoping that it would be just a windy rainstorm.

My stomach was growling but I was too busy squinting through the rain at the green and white signs above me to eat anything. The windshield wipers were on high now. God, this vehicle was big!  Was it 435 South or North?  Or West?  Would the road to Topeka take me to Topeka or would there be an option to get off at Lawrence? I flipped on my cell phone and called my sister for directions.  No answer.  I called my friend with whom I would be spending the night.  No answer.  I looked around.  The roads did not look right.  They were somehow familiar but they did not look right.  The traffic was getting heavier and soon I realized I was headed into Kansas City—the wrong way. 

Then I saw them:  familiar names on signs.  For a split second I felt relief at seeing the familiar and then came a sickening feeling. They were the signs that led to my ex-husband’s childhood home.  Renner Road.  Holiday Drive.  We use to take those roads to visit his parents.  After we’d visit with them, we’d head up other highways to go to my parents’ house for a visit.  

My first instinct from out of the blue was to call him.  He knew these roads.  He could tell me what to do. He would know which direction I needed to go to get to my friend’s house. 

I shook my head.  Whoa!  Where did that come from?  That was not even a possibility anymore. After all we went through during the divorce, I was stunned that that instinct to call him for help came up at all.  We no longer speak—about anything. My mind flashed back to my earlier thoughts about reactions we have for survival for tornados and for earthquakes.  Are the instincts that come first the correct ones or merely the most ingrained?

Emotions enveloped me. I was alone, I was hungry, I was lost, I was driving an unfamiliar vehicle through some sort of storm and I was overwhelmed with a sense of sadness that I wanted to shake off as soon as possible.

Unfortunately, I did so by turning on myself in anger.  Why was I even thinking about that?  Get over it!  I should be able to do this.  It was stupid that a grown woman would let herself get in this predicament.  Why hadn’t I planned better?  Why couldn’t I just make a simple trip over terrain I had been dozens of times before? 

An exit.  I could get off and turn around. 

Pulling over, I saw a McDonald’s.  

That’s where I stopped. 

I stopped the car and then, with great effort, I stopped the negative voices in my head.  

There in that parked car, I talked aloud to myself, like I would talk to friend who needed some encouragement.   “Breathe deeply.  You can do this thing.  There is no rush.  You are fine.”

Then I marched myself into the restaurant as if I were my own mother and ordered a big meal which I promptly sat down and ate every bite of. 

Breathing deeply, I opened up the back of the Tahoe, and dug around in my suitcase until I found the portable GPS.  I sat in the driver’s seat, programmed the Tom Tom, found a radio station with some music I liked, and listened to some soothing songs as I watched the rain lessen in intensity. Looking around, I could finally enjoy the lush green that surrounded me.

Mandy, the GPS lady, was waiting to guide me about the same time my friend called me back, apologizing for missing my call.  I told her that I was fine and I’d be there after dark.  I could hear the warmth in her voice as she told me she’d wait up for me.

Just before she hung up, she said, “I can’t wait to see you.  The porch light will be on for you. Drive safely.  I love you, you know.”

I pulled onto the highway.  Soon, I once again drove past those road signs to my in-laws’ house.  I gave them a smile and a wave.  No one familiar lives down those paths anymore, but they hold good memories of my in-laws and their love for me that can’t be taken away, not even by present circumstances.

A familiar song came on the radio and I hummed along.  No more rain fogged my vision.  My lights were on and lit the way ahead for me.  I was on the right path before I knew it.



I tell this story for the benefit of my friend or anyone else out there who is going through a tough time in life. 

Yes, your life is strangely unfamiliar right now. 

You are traveling through some storms in a way that feels too big, too strange to you.  The familiar controls of your old life are gone and have been replaced and rearranged with unfamiliar buttons and knobs.  Confusing static of a new language fills the air.  It is the language of law, of loss, of leaving.

While others seem to maneuver these roads just fine, you slow down, and are hesitant.  That’s OK.  Take your time and don’t let others rush you.

You doubt yourself.  Even the simplest task that you’ve done dozens, hundreds of times before can seem monumental.  That’s OK too.  That will change eventually.  

Yes, you will lose your way once in awhile and when you do, don’t panic or fall back on old habits. 

Just Stop. 

Stop. 

Take a deep breath.

Turn off the static of others and fill the air with the sound of of your own strong voice.  (It won't sound so strong at first, but keep talking.  It will get stronger as time goes by.  You just haven't heard your own true voice for awhile.)

Be kind when you talk to yourself.  Treat yourself well.  Feed yourself well.

Trust yourself.

Believe it or not, you have all the tools you need to find your way.  (Yes, it may require going through baggage, but that’s just a part of the process.)  

Give yourself some time. Compose yourself. 

Wait for the current storm to pass, for the rain to lessen.  (It will.  It always does.)

When you are ready, buckle up, and adjust your rearview mirror to a setting that's right for you, and get back on the road.


It’s a long journey though the dark, and one you will have to make mostly on your own, but when you get to the end there will be a light on just for you.

And I promise you, there will be someone waiting there, arms open, ready to love you.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Single File




Last summer I had contractors look at a spot on the ceiling and what resulted was a full-blown house renovation that took all summer, pushed me to the brink of exhaustion, almost made me lose my mind, and changed the look of my house forever and for the better.

At the start of the renovation, all of my possessions were moved into the garage and I naively decided that nothing that I did not love or need would make it back through the freshly painted porthole of my house. 

That was in the beginning of the process when I was welcoming workmen with open arms and providing them big coolers full of refreshing beverages.  At the end of August, I was focusing an intense death glare upon at the last few painters in the house and snarling at the mover guys to just hurry up get all the crap back in the house and I would organize it later.

Ah, yes.  The maddening process of renovation.

School started and I organized the house just enough to get by. This summer, I decided a week ago, would be the summer to open up some of those crammed drawers and get on with it.  I also decided to move some of my home office things in a cramped back room up to a bright, sunny room in the front of the house.  I would organize and cull out things as I did so.

I decided to start with a couple of filing cabinets.  One was the one my husband had organized and kept.  Before he left and filed for divorced, he took his passport and a few other papers.  Other than that, the files were all there: years of records of purchases, warranties, taxes, correspondence with friends, house blueprints, and the kids’ school projects and records.  The other filing cabinet was one that I had filled with years and years of papers from college, my own childhood memorabilia, past and current medical files, writing projects, and assorted pictures. 

It has been a little over a year since our divorce became official.   My scar tissue, I thought, would be sufficient to handle whatever I found.  It would be therapeutic to get rid of every file folder with his writing on it.  This is now MY house; I would make these MY files. 

I took on the easy stuff first—the outdated manuals and the old utility receipts.  I placed the folders full of letters from his friends and family in a box for our son to take to him on his next outing with him.  Then I got to all the cards I had sent him over the years.  What to do with them?  Hummm…  I thought about throwing them out, but I put them in the box anyway.  I know he will probably throw them all out, but I thought that should at least be his decision to do so.

Two hours into the process, I started to get overwhelmed.  I was past the cut-and-dried impersonal papers.  Now, nearly every paper brought back a memory, every piece of paper evoked some sort of memory.  My filing cabinet held all of his cards and letters—all those sweet notes and shortcuts in language that we used.

I found letters from my mother to my husband, written years ago before she fell victim to dementia.  The letters were written in that familiar script, praising him for being such a good son-in-law and thanking him for taking care of me. I kept the letters.  How could I throw out anything in her handwriting? I found some writings of my father, his eulogy, and his obituary.  My children’s artwork, and their letters to me when they were in grade school reminded me of the passage of time.  What to do with the wedding pictures?  Do I hold onto this scrap of a poem I started when I was seventeen?  Who was the young girl who wrote this?  Is she gone forever?  Is she still within me waiting to be rediscovered?

The playbill from a high school production. A letter from a grateful student written years ago.  The teddy bear I had when I was a child. My thesis. The sympathy cards from a pregnancy that produced no living child.  The school picture of a classmate from my third grade class. The copies of letters to friends, written on this new thing called the computer and printed out with the daisy wheel printer.  Love letters from our courtship.  The divorce papers—reams of papers from dispassionate lawyers.  And always, always, notes and references to us as a couple, people combining our first two names effortlessly as they wrote.  I went through them all.

By the end of the week, I felt bruised and sore.  I had touched thousands of papers and objects, and they had touched me, and some in not such a loving way.  It was as though I had been walking down a narrow, darkened hallway and the memories were being thrown at me in a random manner. This was such an intensely concentrated trip through my life and not in any sort of understandable chronological order.  From all directions, memories hit me. Some I felt as gentle taps, some felt like hugs, some were knives, some were boulders coming at me full force. 

I had started my life on a projected path and had always assumed the arc of that life would stay the same.   Reading those letters, looking at those pictures, touching each of those cards reminded me of how that arc had been cut off quickly and without warning with those words, “I’m leaving.  It’s divorce.”  My feeling of fragmentation, of amputation from my old life is probably exacerbated by the fact that my ex chooses to have no contact with me whatsoever.  It’s tough to piece it all together and make sense of a shared past life when you have to do it on your own.

This is no call for a pity party for me.  I don’t want my old life back. Had I stayed on the course I was on, I would have contorted myself into someone eventually would not recognize just to continue the arc that I was familiar with.  I understand now that I deserve to be cherished, to explore my creative gifts, and to have my voice heard and respected. The life that awaits me is pretty darn great.

I think about all those who have gone through situations like mine, or even more dramatic ones.  The past comes up and somehow we have to make the present mesh with it even when it seems the fragments will never fit together.  I know this is happening and will continue to happen. Part of it is dealing with the end of a thirty-year relationship.  Part of it is realizing how quickly time is passing.  Part of it is reviewing my life and wondering if I have wasted any of it.  Part of it is a desire to make the most of the life I have left.  My concentrated, disorienting trip down memory lane brought all these things into intense focus.  Is it always wise to visit the people we used to be?  Is it always necessary? 


Last summer, each night after the workers left, I wandered through my house that was full of dust, walls torn out, cabinets destroyed and piled on the floor.  There were times I didn’t think I would ever see it come together, to form a whole again, but it did, and beautifully too.

Just today I opened the newly organized filing cabinets.  Every single file in there is mine.  All the handwriting on the tabs is mine.  All the papers are ones that I have decided to keep.  The best part? Now, there’s also ample room for new files, for new projects, and for new adventures yet to be had. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Monday Morning Flowers!


Happy Monday to you all!

I normally go out and about to get your Monday Morning Flowers.



However, I was a little short on time this weekend, so I went out to my backyard and captured these for you.



I've recently discovered that I like potting plants and flowers and taking care of them.



Did you know that watering flowers actually helps them to grow? 

Amazing!

Hope you all have happy weeks ahead.




People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us.
--Iris Murdoch




Thursday, June 13, 2013

Happy Day!


Monday was a very happy day for our entire family.

My niece Amanda and her husband Ted adopted Kayli!



They had been waiting over a year to receive the happy news that the adoption would take place.



Lots of relatives including her new cousin Bea went to the courthouse for the official ceremony



Can you see how happy Amanda is?  
She has loved this child for so long and now she is officially her mother!

\

Bea gives Kayli a big hug after the ceremony.



Kayli, her mother and father, and her very happy grandmother.

Welcome Kayli Edith to the family!  

You are surrounded by love!


(Thanks to my niece Trisha for the pictures!)


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Graduation!!


It was back in May, but it was a wonderful way to end the semester!




Our college's tradition is that the faculty walk in first then form two lines which the grads walk between to enter the stadium.  
We applaud as they walk through.  
I love watching them walk in, searching for their families and feeling so proud!



This is one of my favorite students of all time, Cuervo.  Years ago, he started in my Developmental English class.  He was our commencement speaker and gave a wonderful, inspirational speech.  He has overcome so many obstacles in life.  Now he is headed for the university. I am so proud of him!



Two of my colleagues and me after the festivities.  
I love the people I work with and the opportunities my job gives to me!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Monday Morning Flowers!


Happy Monday, Everyone!

Here's your flower delivery!







Cooper (my sister's dog) is ready for the week ahead!  

Are you?




It's been my experience that you can nearly always enjoy things if you make up your mind firmly that you will.

--L.M. Montgomery

Friday, June 7, 2013

More Road Trip Pictures

Hey Betty People!!!

Are you ready for more pictures from my recent trip to Kansas and Oklahoma?

 Three of my sisters, a niece, and I traveled to go to another sister's retirement party in Tulsa.


Eileen (on the left) was the honoree, ending a long career in teaching.  
Our niece, Julia, (on the right) will begin her teaching career soon!




After the party, we all headed back toward Kansas, stopping at one of the sites of Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House on the Prairie sites.  

We all loved that series, so this was quite the thrill for us.




Also, a thrill?  Finding a dried up snake and surprising our sister Marlene by putting in on the handle of her car door!

Her reaction was impressive and could be heard for miles around.



We all journeyed back to see our mom.  

She sometimes has trouble recognizing people, but as you can see, when she saw her granddaughter, her face lit up.




My mom had not had all five of her daughters gathered around her for many, many years.


Here we are.  I am so lucky to still have my mom and to have my wonderful sisters as well!  


A very talented photographer named Alex Carothers http://flyingfar.zenfolio.com/about.html
took this one of the five of us.  

I will treasure this picture (and the memories surrounding it) forever!



Thursday, June 6, 2013

Betty's Back! (Did You Miss Me?)


Hi everybody!

Well, that short blog break turned into a rather long one, didn't it?


Let's catch up, my people.

The first report is from a ROAD TRIP I took with my sisters and niece!


We drove from Kansas to Oklahoma to go to another sister's retirement party.



My sister, Marlene, and I shared a cabin.  Wild times!



Never to be outdone by my older sister, I managed to trip as I stepped off her porch.  

Or was I pushed????  Hummmmm.....

This resulted in a trip to Urgent Care where I learned I had a bad sprain and was given this exciting footwear.


More about the retirement celebration tomorrow.  

While at the party I met one of my fellow bloggers and a loyal follower of Bossy.  

This is John!

You can find his blog at http://www.myfirstcar.me/




It's great to be back in Blogland!

Let the summer begin!