Finding “There”


My new passion is to really explore the world in the coming years. To that end, I’ve made a vision board to keep me motivated. The premise is that if you can see yourself there, you’re more likely to make steps to get there…wherever your “there” happens to be. My “there” is traveling and exploring. 

When you make your vision board, be sure to include short and long term goals. I realized that I was planning larger trips but not day trips. I live in a great part of the world, the southern US, and haven’t seen near as much of it as I should. Those things are on my short list. 


Living near Chattanooga, TN is a wonderful opportunity to do day trips and see some great things. So I took the 30 minute drive and checked out some local culture and quisine. 


Hunter Museum was a landmark I’d always wanted to visit but never got around to. The beauty of the old (art and mansion) transposed with the new (art and Art Deco modern building) was nicely melded and a beautiful place. 


Just a few steps away is a myriad of eateries to soak up the local color. I chose Tony’s Pasta. Situated in a Victorian carriage house of an old mansion in the Bluffview Art District, it is a step back in time. I was lucky enough to sit on the terrace. Handmade pastas and a great selection of wines made for a nice filling lunch. 


Now think about your own vision board…where do you wanna be and what do you wanna be doing in one year, 5 years, 10 years?  I saw a great quote on Pinterest the other day that sums it up (warning…curse words to come!). 


Now…GET BUSY DOING…that was mostly for me because it’s 1:30pm and I’m still in pajamas doing my “exploring” on the Internet. 

The Common Denominator

I suck at relationships!  It’s true. I’ve had great men, not so great men, and downright awful-for-me men. I suppose everyone that gets to my age has the same batting average but people do find a life partner sometimes. I’d like to think I’m a smart girl. I have a career, my own money, and I take a shower everyday.   So, why can’t I do it?

There was a time when I blamed it on the men…but the reality is if I’m honest…I am the common denominator. Now I know what you’re thinking…she has used a math metaphor…this is bad!  Since I try to find the good/positive/funny in most things, I’m going with I have just answered the age-old question of “how will I ever use this math in my real life???”….well, there it was!

Now, back to my inability to find a good man. Way, way back, my ex-mother-in-law said “she’s as independent as a pig in mud!”  My immediate reaction was, “did she just call me fat?”  So, I wonder if I am TOO independent?  Do men find that “not needy at all” quality off-putting?  I find they like it…at first…and then it becomes less endearing. 

I’ve had this discussion with several of my gal friends. A couple of them have mastered the balance and a couple are in the same boat as I am…drifting aimlessly in a sea of potential catches…waiting for the collision. 

Now, logically I know that I don’t need a man to be whole. But it would be nice to have someone to travel with; have dinner with; and share my life with on a regular basis. I’ve done online dating (that is its own blog altogether) and I’ve tried every other route, but it never seems to move forward.

Several thoughts occur to me…do you only get so many chances in this lifetime and have I used mine up? If we are doomed to repeat our mistakes until we get it right, I’m gonna need another lifetime. Do some people just settle because they’re tired of looking?  At what point will I say, “f-it, I’m done” and truly be satisfied?  

For a non-math girl, I’m a bit over analytical. 

For the love of men


As we watch hurricane #2 barrel down on the US again, I’m reminded of similar scenes over the years that always touched me deep in my soul. The men!  The minute the call goes out, the men galvanize and do what must be done. It’s a beautiful thing. 


Several years ago a terrible tornado hit a nearby town and just so happens I had a doctor’s appointment that required me meander through the countryside to bypass the hard hit areas. The roads were packed with pickups…chainsaws…and men. For days, they poured out onto the roads and just did what had to be done…cleanup until order was restored. 


This is what men do!  It isn’t about gender…it’s in the DNA and possibly a smattering of upbringing. But, for the most part, it’s a common bond that says, “I can fix this!”  It harkens back to caveman days when survival depended on the men in the community to be the backbone that held it all together. 

Step in…step up…and stay…until the world is righted again. One of my dearest friend’s own husband (a lineman) is readying himself for the next storm to hit in the coming days. He and many more like him will mobilize and answer the call…the call that says “we need you.”  


And once again, the men will arrive with the attitude that says “we got you” and stay until the work is done.    And it isn’t just an American thing, Watch the world tragedies with a different eye…you’ll see it for what it is…greatness embodied in the common man. 

And yes, I’m aware that many women do this also…but in a world that has become increasingly devaluing of the male in our society, it’s time we outwardly express that glow of pride that swells in us as we watch the beauty that is MAN stand firm and sure in the face of tragedy and chaos. 

Please pray for Florida and continue praying for Texas. It may take time, money, and a whole lot of patience. But one thing is for certain, the men will hit the road and not look back until the world is righted again. And I, for one, am thankful for that manly spirit every single day. 

Music and memories

The Facebook feed was Keith Whitley’s “Don’t Close Your Eyes,” and the memories flooded back. Recently divorced, starting over (again), a young son (who’s about to be 30), and a man that probably loved me more than I could ever return…and it was as real as yesterday.  I can still feel his fingers as they reached across the backseat of the  truck and up under my hair as Whitley’s words seared in my brain for what is evidently going to be a lifetime. My lifetime.

I wonder if songwriters know…really know…the lifetime mark they leave on us?  And how amazing the brain is…that a single line of a song can elicit such a deep, primal response?

A very old boyfriend (not him…just a long time ago) reminded me tonight that hindsight is a bitch. How many loves have I thrown to the curb on  a whim?  More than I care to admit. But the music always takes me back to that moment when the relationship had such promise…or when it was falling apart and I just couldn’t swallow my pride and be vulnerable.

Vulnerability is a concession I’ve had to be diligent about recognizing and practicing in my old age. It’s that place where music finds us…and transforms us…and imprints us for life.

Elvis Presley’s, “In The Ghetto“…small town Tennessee…pre-teen…I remember how haunting it was. It still is 40 years later.

Hello Darlin” by Conway Twitty…the ring back on a phone from a man I loved so deeply and yet failed at miserably.

Then there were the Colorado years. Melissa Etheridge was my go-to CD. I still love her wild abandon attitude. I recently looked for that CD at McKay’s Used Bookstore. When I do find it…those that know me well and for a long time…know I will be riding to the lake, windows down, music cranked up, and remembering those years of my own wild abandon.

Ah, the Jimmy’s era!  Great friends and so much fun we didn’t realize we were having the time of our lives. To this day if “That Summer” by Garth Brooks comes on, I crank it up and the smile of nostalgia couldn’t be restrained even if I wanted it to be.

Music is solace…a place to reflect…a place to let the light creep through the cracks in your soul…and sear your heart forever. Proof is in the beginning chord that washes over you and transforms you to time and place.

With the thought that music is really bottling the memories, I’m choosing to make better music choices. Recently, a friend and I saw the movie, “The Shack,” and the soundtrack moved me such that I ordered the CD. And then I discovered Hillsong United. Wow!  Now THAT is a bottle I want on my life shelf.

Perspective

A sweet colleague today commented on how much she had enjoyed my blog over the summer and I had to, once again, wonder why I hadn’t really blogged since I’d come home from the beach. 

Lisa and I discussed this on the way to the car and I said that I felt like I didn’t have anything important to say lately. Upon contemplation this evening, I reflected that “important” is truly about perspective. 

Today was day 1 for students returning to school. Three days of pre-planning had left me mind-numbingly tired. But as students arrived today, the heartbeat of the school regained its normal rhythm and life returned to the work-normal. Exhausting. Satisfying. Controlled chaos. And a beautiful thing to be a part of. 


Love these girls!  They make work feel like a comedy show all day long. And no, I am not pregnant…they’re just skinny!!! I’m normal…remember it’s all about perspective people!

People are amazed when I tell them how wonderful most teenagers are. What you see in the news is so not the norm. When their faces light up when they see you and rush in for a hug, it’s like one of your own children returning for a visit after a long journey. This world will be fine with these young people…it’s a realization you only get to experience when you’ve watched them blossom from bratty freshman to confident seniors. When you no longer feel this way about students, it’s time to retire from teaching. 

I’m moved. I’m settled. My new loft feels like home and is spectacular. All my people are finding some level ground after a trying few months. School has started. The planning and collaboration is breathing new life into old lessons. The beautiful chaos that is teaching has begun. The routine of a schedule is welcome and life is “important” again.  On a side note…is it weird that I heard a crackling noise from the neighbor above me and for a brief moment I thought there might be an announcement in my living room?  Yes, it’s day 1 of a new school year!

As the night closes in, I reflect on the beauty of living alone…eating a frozen pizza for dinner…only buying enough things to make one trip from car to house…being positive that there is always toilet paper on the roll…taking my bra off at the front door…going to bed before nightfall and no one to judge. 

And I just want to point out that even though I now have 80 channels to watch, not a thing interests me. For the record, this mindset often happens with the men in my life too!  More than one friend has noted that it’s no wonder I can’t keep a man. Oh well!

Living large in a small space!

Wow!  It has been a busy few weeks. When I think that less than 3 weeks ago I moved from a house to a small loft, it is remarkable the progress made. 

A great friend has shown me how I can make a small space into a statement home. A statement of who I am…with a few pieces that express me and how I want to live. Tonight she drafted her husband and daughter to install the “piece de resistance” to the loft. (Thanks Darrell for standing on a ladder for an hour and Emma for using those cheerleader arms to hold that heavy chandelier while he wired it)! 

I’ve always been in awe of chandeliers and I finally have a space with high ceilings to accommodate such a piece. It is nothing short of spectacular!


A couple walls have been painted (another friend) and more than one friend has shown up to help me do all the things I couldn’t. 


Don’t judge my pillows…that’s where Lisa and I reclined to watch the light “show” unfold…but notice that beautifully painted accent wall!

Friendship is a funny thing…the give and take of that relationship really works when you’re willing to put in the time. Lisa and I often talk about how having great friends makes for a great life. I can honestly say that the time consciously cultivating friendships will come back to you ten-fold. Make the time. Make the effort. That’s a gift no amount of money can buy. 

Loft Living!

I have completed the daunting task of downsizing and moving into a much smaller place. It is a very soul cleansing thing to do for your life. I went from a 3 bedroom home with full basement to a 1 bedroom loft…yes, on purpose!  These are the things I learned by living smaller. 

  • You have to really decide what is important to keep and what can go. For instance, I kept pictures but I let go of my kids’ school work.  I also got rid of all my school work from college. 
  • I’m not a big “keeper of things” anyway, so this cleansing was not too bad. It is amazing how much lighter you will feel without having to be the “keeper of things” for everyone. 
  • I chose to have a few fabulous pieces (furniture) that were real statement pieces and fit the ambiance I was trying to create. It’s a process and I figure I will know if something is right for my space when I see it. 
  • I had several great antiques that my father had given me over the years and wanted to keep those so I had to find a new purpose for them. That’s been fun. 
  • Smaller space means you must put everything back where it goes immediately or it clutters quickly. 
  • Giving up the garage means I might get wet one day!  Lol. As my daddy says, I won’t melt. 
  • I’m closer to work. Closer to restaurants (you know I don’t care to cook). This was an important realization when I thought I wanted a kitchen island in my space…but it’s not necessary because I don’t want to cook. I can use that money for a more practical piece. 
  • I truly have had more visitors than ever before. And all of them say, “this looks like you!”  And it is. I felt at home immediately. 

The only downsides:

  • I can see the workout room from my couch…some guy works out every night…I don’t like him reminding me that I’m being lazy. 
  • My tub has no back slope…I can’t lounge in the tub. Why would you make a tub that isn’t lounge-worthy?  
  • I live in the Carpet Capital of the WORLD and I can’t seem to find a large rug for my living room that doesn’t cost a fortune. It’s my new mission. I rarely lose these battles and I don’t intend to lose this one.  
  • Ordering rugs online is a hassle. And a crap shoot. I won’t even go into what it takes to return one of those babies. 

The trick to living in an apartment setting, especially when you’ve come from home ownership, is to find one with great management. 


This loft space is in an 1880 textile mill that has been transformed into lofts. It’s amazing. Exposed brick. Concrete flooring. Original wood floors. And the most majestically beautiful 10′ windows that will get your tail out of bed when God intends you to get up. 

I had lunch with my friend (Lisa) the other day and she said, “you look better than you’ve looked since I’ve known you!”  Of course, I did have a new haircut, new color, makeup on (not a summer norm), and was well-rested from a 5 week beach getaway. But I think it’s the move. I think I feel free. Free to travel. No maintenance (house or lawn). No plants to water. I feel renewed. I like change. I’m embracing the new life. 

Man!  I am too old!

  • Too old for moving.
  •  Too old to sleep on a blow up mattress. But I did for a week between vacation and the move (see previous complaint).
  • Too old for those new-fangled remote access/video tellers at banks. Those that know me well know that I am a stickler for good customer service. A teller on a computer screen just does not do it for me. 

Well the house closing is complete. The move is in the books as they say. Thanks to my son and one of his friends, I am completely unboxed.  It really feels good to downsize and get rid of stuff. If you know me and read this, do NOT buy me anymore stuff. Let’s find another way to celebrate. 

I always marvel at the great friends I’ve cultivated over the last few years. There are a few long term friends but for the most part it has only occurred to me in the last 10 years how truly important great friends are to my life. 

My oldest son came by and brought their young daughter and I was terrified the whole time she would fall on my concrete floor and bust her head. My new home is definitely not little kid friendly. She’s a cutie and brings out an adorable side of her father. He is definitely smitten with her. 


My friend and painter came by to help me choose some wall colors. He has a great eye and is very meticulous. If you ever need a painter, let me know. 
My two closest friends came and visited and offered a different eye to my placement of things in my new place. Isn’t it funny how we have a “place” for things and can’t imagine things in a different role? I will have to say that the close friends I have now are ones that would defend me rigorously to others, and totally call me on my bullshit once we’re in private. That’s friendship at its most productive. 

My Daddy will come visit my new place this weekend and we will catch up…really don’t do that enough…I need to be better at that. 

School starts back in a couple of weeks and hopefully I will be good and settled by then. Life has finally settled down a little and at least at the end of the day I don’t stink…it has been crazy hot. 

Got me a new haircut and color today. Now a manicure and pedicure and I should be good to go…now I just need to find someone to take me somewhere. Lol

The big move

My last night at my house…people keep asking if I’m going to miss it. I’ve thought about that in the last couple of days…mostly because I don’t have cable and it’s forcing some introspection on my part. 

This is the longest I’ve lived in one location…ever. 10 years. Half of Chase’s life. He seems much more nostalgic about the move than I do but he’s being helpful and supportive…although he’s decided my new condo (historic loft built in the 1880’s) is haunted based only on its age. As long as it’s haunted enough to force adulthood, the spirits are working their magic well. 

I’ve been a gypsy my whole life I think. A place doesn’t anchor me. My people anchor me and as I get older I realize how vital those people are to the world I want to inhabit. I’m really excited about this new move…feels like I’m moving into the next stage of my life somehow…not sure why but it just does. 

My BFF came by and walked the loft with me so I’d have a visual for the movers tomorrow. Lisa is going through so much chaos in her family right now and I don’t know how she’s getting done what is getting done…but if you’ve never met the goal-setting, check off the list, keep it moving, mentality that is the ball of fire we call Lisa, you’re missing out. Please continue to pray for her brother who is continuing to have difficulty and hospitalized….even while his old house closed today and his new house closes tomorrow and the family is moving 2 hours away. Again, the tornado that is Lisa has it under control. Or at least the illusion of control…and that’s really all that matters. 

My oldest friend, Tammie, is also still spending as many moments as she can with her grandmother who is on her last days. She raised Tammie so it’s like she’s losing a parent. This getting old and growing up and dealing with grown up things is exhausting!

Movers in the morning. Hopefully closing on my house on Wednesday. The new adventure starts this week. And then school will start in three weeks and interfere with that adventure. 

Things I’ve noted during the move:

  • I have a lot of crap I don’t need. 
  • Downsizing and getting rid of unnecessary stuff is cathartic (listening Dad?). 
  • I really should dust more. Maybe my ghost cleans. 
  • Is it rude to leave stuff for the new owners (nice silk curtains that match the walls; shelving in the basement; Waterhose on a nice spinning holder; my alcohol in the freezer)?
  • How clean are you supposed to leave the house?  Like perfect?
  • Are you supposed to tip movers?  One is the owner of the company. 

My new mattress comes tomorrow and since I’ve been sleeping on a blow up mattress for several days, it will be heaven. The interesting thing will be how I’m going to handle floor to ceiling windows that have only blinds on them…lots of beautiful morning sun but I may have to change my “I hate mornings” way of thinking. 

I’m glad you guys are going on this journey with me. 

What is it about a sunset?

I mean, I get the awe we experience from a sunrise…it’s the promise of a new day. But if sunrises are the beginning…is the sunset an end?  Sunrise is fresh and new…so is a sunset spent and old? If one brings us light, the other brings us darkness. As an English teacher, darkness always harkens in danger and turmoil. 

I watched many sunsets in the last month and each had its own character and beauty. Some the camera just couldn’t do justice. 

However, every evening, many would gather on the beach and on the dock to watch this day-ending beauty. It took me about a week before I realized that the real majesty happens after the sun disappears over the horizon.  Now that’s spectacular. The horizon has a beautiful glow that few painters can capture. 

So are you a SUNRISE or SUNSET person?  I think I’m a sunset person. I’ve been contemplating what that says about me. I think it’s like everything, to have one, you must have the other. When will we be as awed by the ends as we are about the beginnings?  
The sunsets were spectacular and one of the things I will miss. It was permission to settle in and permit your body downtime. Kristi and the grandsons are finishing out my rental…hope they remember to send sunset photos from Mimi’s Island.