The Loudest Whisper

A student in our area took his own life today. As I fumble with the emotions that I feel about a young man I didn’t even know, I’m keenly aware that, as a parent, we are all precariously close to this _____ (I don’t even know the word that goes here!). Because unless you’ve been there I’m not sure you can possibly know. It seems insensitive and unjust to even think we can even comprehend the tragedy of it all.

As a teacher of teens, I also have a front seat view of the public face these kids put on for us, for their parents, for their peers…but it’s that private world that made this young boy decide none of those people were worth staying for. How, as a parent and as a teacher, can we know? The Facebook and Instagram, I have no doubt, showed a happy face to the world and inside he was slowing letting go…

As I stopped and talked with a colleague on the way out today (she’s a counselor) we talked about kids and resiliency. I thought she said a very powerful thing…I always tell my own kid, “there is NOTHING we can’t deal with…not fix…but deal with!”

As you say your prayers tonight, pray for this family and the many others that deal with these things. And pray for your children and the world’s children because in the end they are all ours. And as you say goodnight to your own babies, remind them that there is NOTHING you can’t help them deal with. Yes, they’ll think you’re talking about the little things but hopefully when it matters the most, your whisper will be the loudest sound in their heads.

Senior Orphans

The struggle in real people…we never see ourselves as “old” until it’s too late. Today I read an article from AARP (see! -that kind of “literature” sneaks up on you) that discussed “senior orphans” and how to begin working now on your circle of friends so that when you needed them, you’d be set.

Got me to thinking about how we could find our own local “senior orphans” and develop some system to help them. Don’t you think it’s cute that I’m still in the “we” and “them” mindset?

I clearly have too much time on my hands!  People that know me are laughing hysterically right now. They know I teach all day, work 2 different auctions on the weekends, do after school tutoring, and homebound student services a couple days a week. And yet, I do feel like I have time left…not to jog or workout or anything like that (ick!)…but to help someone.

So I was brainstorming away and took a break to call my son to ask him to drop by this week to bring my small heater downstairs now that it’s getting cold. See the irony!!! I’m already the senior who needs help. Lord!  When did this happen?  That’s rhetorical…do NOT actually send me a response to that question!

You need to…

It’s easy to tell others what they “need to do” isn’t it? I think as a mom and teacher, that (whatever “that” is) is in my gene code somehow.

But if I’m honest, I have a lot of things I “need to do” about my own life. And what gives me the right to judge other people’s choices when I can’t even get my own life under control. And I’m not sure I want it “under control” anyway…how boring would that be!

And the reality is…no one has all their crap together…and if they say they do, they’re lying. We all put on a public face that makes it appear like we do but if we are LIVING…we are evolving…we are changing. And change is messy. If you do have it under control, you are stagnant…and that’s a place I never want to be.

I think self-reflection is good. The problem is it’s hard to be truthful about our flaws. And real change requires that real hard look. So in the spirit of self-reflection, my new goal is to take “what you need to do” out of my vocabulary. It will be hard. I’m bossy by nature. But that doesn’t make it right.

So feel free to correct me when I try to tell you what you need to do with your life when I don’t even know what I need to do with mine.

In this age of Fakebook and InstaLIE, everyone’s life looks better than yours. It isn’t. It’s distorted reality and it’s impossible to live up to a lie. And why would you want to? So examine your own life and vow to judge less, love more, and just be a little more kind. ‘Tis the season and all…it’s a great time to start while others won’t be suspicious!

2nd Deck Spritzer

A nice refreshing spray of salt water to the face is exhilarating and a tad bothersome when you’re on the back of a 2nd floor observation deck. The swells were 5 feet. Dramamine should have been dispensed out of a candy machine. I did take Dramamine and made it, but barely. And having to pee was an ordeal in itself. Remember those Susanne Summers exercise videos where you could learn to strengthen your inner thigh? That would have been helpful then. If you can imagine yourself straddle a ting toilet and holding on for dear life…that was about it. At one point during the rough seas, I seriously reconsidered my stance on adult diapers. It takes 2 1/2 of choppy seas to get to this beautifully remote tropical outpost.

A balmy 83 degrees was perfect for snorkeling but alas the water was cloudy. Still I found some cool things in the surf. The round thing had a critter in it. The nice shell did not…it came home with me….shhh!

The Dry Tortugas was an oasis in the beautiful turquoise waters. We spent the whole day there just exploring, lunching, sunning, and making new friends.

Key West was an odd little bird but nice people, some quirky, and an island that is trying to recover from the latest hurricanes. Very laid back and beachy…which is interesting because they don’t really have a “beach” there at all.

Extended weekend trip done. A few hiccups but nice learning lessons. Beautiful morning for a return trip home. However, that first layover in Charlotte was a bit chilly in shorts. Lol

There’s a chicken!

Yep, I’m driving down a beautiful, colorful, tree-lined street in old Key West and a chicken runs across the street. As if the bikes are not hard enough to dodge, now it’s chickens! They are everywhere!

I’m on my first “vision board” adventure. I flew into Miami yesterday…the first time I’ve flown in about 30 years. Thankfully, I met the sweetest young lady (a student at a Chattanooga girl’s private school) who answered all my old lady questions. I was very impressed with 16 year old Carmen.

The Miami airport is not for sissies. I had to remind myself several times that I was on an adventure…and one shouldn’t cry on an adventure. Lol. It was massive. I know I walked 5 miles before I got my rental car.

Some things I’ve learned:

  • Key West doesn’t really have a beach.
  • There are about 20 “keys” between Miami and Key West.
  • The Keys are really still recovering from Hurricane Irma. Looks a bit like what I imagine a third world company looks like.
  • Always insist on a rental car agency INSIDE the airport.
  • Sitting in the middle seat during a flight sucks…especially is you’re not a twig.
  • Yes, you can totally travel with only a carryon. Rolling clothes really does make for more space.
  • If it’s ever an option, always choose Hilton. The customer service is divine. I’m a sucker for good customer service.
  • If you can finagle the “government rate” you might save a lot of money.
  • What you save in hotel charges, you will spend in parking fees in Miami. No free parking anywhere.

I’m off to the Dry Tortugas tomorrow. So excited. It sounds amazing. I’ll keep you updated.

Still not enough!

“Can you believe this is your life right now?”  This from my friend, Lisa, who was “helping” me pick out cruise excursions for my summer trip to Alaska. Actually I was forcing her to cull through everything fabulous, talk it out, and narrow down the choices. Good friends…find them and keep them. 

But she’s right, my life is in an amazing phase right now. So, why is contented-ness such a phantom to me?  I have a great job, great friends, a home I absolutely adore,  my health (for the most part), and enough income to finally travel…at least enough so that I can actually budget for travel anyway. 

I’m an over-analyzer so I recognize that I’m not necessarily unhappy or unsatisfied…just always searching. For what?  I have absolutely no idea! In my head…whatever “IT” is currently resides in Alaska. That trip is really a dream come true for me. 

I could never have imagined my life would be like this.  It is really good. And calm. No drama. No real world worries. So what the hell is wrong with me???  I know logically that peace comes from within.  Did i get the gypsy gene?

Is there a peace gene…and if there is and it’s attached to the skinny gene, I’m gonna be pissed! 

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.