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Tuesday

Tuesday.

People ask me often how I do all the stuff I do. I usually just say something like “I don’t watch TV” which is true, I rarely watch TV…but it’s not really the whole answer. The thing is, I’m not sure people really want to know. But today I woke up to another message asking the same thing and I thought I would keep track of my day. Here is how Tuesday went:

I woke up at 5:25 before my alarm went off. I saw I had slept through some minor problems the night before that I had texts about- I think I fell asleep rather early. I’m not always up at 5:25, but I usually am up before 6. I talked to God, talked to my dog, talked to my husband, checked social media, checked work email, read a chapter in a book I am in a book study for, worked on a manuscript, showered and got ready for work. I left the house at 7:30. During this 2 hour block of time I also drank strong coffee.

I arrived at my first stop- a campus closer than my office- at 7:48. I had 12 minutes of ‘personal time’ before my work day officially started, so I emailed a ms draft to an editor, responded to some work texts, posted a response to my reading from earlier in the online group, and took a phone call from my 3rd child on his way to the passport office asking for his original birth certificate. I explained to him that waiting until nearly 8:00 on the day he needed his birth certificate was akin to being in 4th grade and letting me know at 10:00 pm that he had a diorama due the next day at school. I made a note to look for it later.

At 8:22 I got to see a student use communication technology to request what he wanted for breakfast for the first time…a student who previously had no way to communicate. I teared up at the wonderfulness of the moment and how honored I felt to witness it. Then, I got to work with another student on reading. Happy happy happy.

My next stop was a campus across town to install some math software on a teacher’s computer. In my “mobile office” I then answered emails, drafted a follow up report from my morning visit, took my blood pressure pill and looked for some advil.

I stopped at my mom’s house at lunch. She fed me while I worked on some professional development material prep for a session I am presenting later this week. I make a note to purchase spaghetti noodles and marshmallows for the team building part of that session.

I’m early to my next campus, a staffing around noon. We have difficult discussions and I am again honored to get to work with the wonderful educators I work with.

I have one more campus today. I am tired. On the drive over I turn off the radio and pray for several friends and for myself. At the last minute, this staffing is canceled so I visit with some staff, fill in my mileage report and text with my boss about some things for tomorrow.

After work I pick up Z from the sitter and head home with her. After she eats a snack she is down for a nap. It’s time for school with Gav. I toss some pork chops and potatoes in the oven and start a scarf while we go over his math, history and geography for the day. Z takes a short nap so we head outside to play until dinner. Then it’s books and letters for her and more school for G.

Z didn’t sleep much today so I put her to bed about 8:00, finish the scarf, find Tyler’s birth certificate and text second daughter to let her know her wedding invitations have shipped.

Stacy called and said she is stopping for one errand on her way home from work. She may need help with an income tax issue when she gets here so I am blogging this and waiting for her to get home. It is 9:00.

There is still time to do something else. But I will probably have another early night since I was up so early today.

Sound like a lot?

I bet it isn’t more than anyone else’s day who works and has a family to care for. If you wrote down and typed out everything you did each day, it would be impressive. For the big things- the books for example—it’s just little bites of time that add up.

I did not watch TV. I didn’t spend a lot of time on dinner. I did pick up a few things and run the washing machine (mostly because the dog threw up on a blanket…) but I did not worry about my house being spotless.

I’m not superwoman.

I’m not even close.

I wasn’t even pleasant to my husband when I got home. I was a big old crab in fact.

Tomorrow will be similar in some ways and different in others. I might get more done. I might get less done. Either way it’s okay.

I don’t know what the take away is really except maybe, if you feel you don’t get enough done, take a day and write down what you do. I bet you will be surprised! I think you will find that you are in fact quite amazing. I know this because I have incredible friends.

Happy Tuesday!

The Angel on the Porch

It was a long week, am I right?

On Friday I got in my car at lunch time to run a quick errand. I was so looking forward to the weekend and a little down time. I just had lunch and an afternoon meeting to go.

I am a member of a mom's buy sell trade board on FB and I had to swing by a house and pick up some crayon pieces. The day before, I had posted on the board that I needed some for a project, and another mom I do not know wrote me back and said she had some for me. The mom board is a great place for bargains and for community that way. I was excited, but really I didn't feel like going just then. I was exhausted.

Friday morning I had driven into work praying and thinking about angels. So often in my life I have been graced by people and events I believe to be angels. I know God is always near and I believe He sends us help and comfort in times of need.

But I was feeling sad. I have written before about living with depression. The struggle takes different forms and I heard myself crying out to God to give me a sign that it would be okay.

Now, I am not proud to admit that I do this ALL THE DAMN TIME. I mean, God is always there. He has never deserted me, He has sent me countless signs, miracles and answers to prayer...and yet, like an unsure child I constantly ask for reassurance from Him. I am so very thankful for His patience.

So Friday morning I was doing it again. And I actually asked God to, y'all it sounds so silly... but I asked Him to let me see an angel. I specifically wanted to SEE one and I asked to see it ON FRIDAY.

Why would I do that? Before you read the rest of this story, please understand that I don't believe in making demands of God...and I would still believe He is every bit as real and present if the story had turned out differently... I'm just trying to explain that...I was being weird in my prayer request.

I think I was feeling like, I had not been noticing all the wonders He places in my life. I thought perhaps in my stress and weariness I had forgotten how to see His angels.

Okay so I had prayed to see an angel and now I'm heading to pick up these old crayon pieces at lunch from a lady I have never met. I have never been to her house.

I knew her house was close to my office because I had googled it the night before. I reached for my phone to confirm the address and noticed she had sent me another message that came in earlier- not long after my whole see-an-angel prayer.

She had written, "I'm putting them out now. They will be on the left of the porch behind an angel."

Holy crapballs y'all.

I drove over and walked up to the porch and saw the angel.

I saw an angel.

Now. I know that it would have been there anyway if I hadn't said that prayer. That's not the point. The point is...well okay, one- God has a sense of humor... clearly...and two, He answers prayers all kinds of ways. He knows what we need. I guess I needed a literal, physical angel made of plaster on Friday.

It was beyond perfect.

Once again I am thankful, and humbled by His goodness and care for us.

Happy Sunday. Keep your eyes open for all kinds of angels.

Unfit

Unfit.

You know how it is when something just doesn’t fit like it is supposed to? I don’t mean like your prom dress from high school…

I mean more like, just an event or a situation that is so out of the ordinary that it takes you a second to process it?

Although it could be a physical thing. It is December and those car decorations have started showing up. I actually saw my first reindeer car the day after Halloween this year, and, hey, no judgement from me, that’s about the time I put up my Christmas Trees.

Those car decorations used to bother me because I just couldn’t figure out…WHY. But, in this world we live in today, I kind of love them, because they mean there still people are with enough Christmas spirit and whimsy to decorate their car y’all. Their CAR. It’s a sweet and gentle thing.

So, Friday, I had a really weird day. And after all the weirdness was over and I was sort of processing it, I saw a reindeer car, but it only had one antler. Like, the driver side antler was missing. I sat behind the one-antlered car for a few minutes because we were in traffic. Clearly it wasn’t affecting the function of the car to have only one antler. I mean it couldn’t FLY, but I was pretty sure it couldn’t have done that even if it had both antlers. I had an opportunity to sit there and reflect on what might have happened to the driver side antler. I figured it had fallen off at some point. I reasoned that perhaps it wasn’t a good fit on the car.

And that got me to reflecting on how things just don’t always fit.

It occurs to me now, writing this, that my mind works a lot like those ‘If you give a mouse a cookie’ books… Anyone else? Especially this time of year? I know I’m not alone…

It reminded me of the peacock on my porch.

I was teaching at an elementary school and one day the kids and I came home and there on our front porch was a beautiful, HUGE, peacock, just…standing there like he had been invited over. This was many years ago, before cell phones. I did eventually get pictures, but it wasn’t as easy to capture as it would be now. Well so, we pulled up in our driveway and saw the peacock. The kids were really excited and I was… I was confused y’all. My brain told me I was seeing a peacock on my front porch in the middle of a city of over 300,000 people, but I just couldn’t compute. I stared and finally, after a few minutes of listening to the kids say, “A peacock! A peacock!” I said, “It’s a peacock.” (I know. So insightful.)

We just sat and watched him. His tail feathers were all fanned out and he was gorgeous. Majestic really. Eventually he moved off of the porch, and I ran in the house to grab a camera. I called my sister real quick to get her advice. My sister is a veterinarian. She doesn’t specialize in peacocks, but she is an incredibly smart person about a lot of things. She told me that it was mating season and that peacocks can be aggressive and I should not let the kids get too close. Good advice. She also suggested I call animal control so I did.

Me: Hello? Yes, hi, um…there is a peacock in my yard.
Animal Services: A what?
Me: A peacock.
Animal Services: A…peacock?
Me: Yes. Can you send someone out?
Animal Services: Ma’am…are you SURE it is a peacock?

See? It didn’t ‘fit’ for them either.

After I assured them it really was a peacock, I hung up and we drove down the street behind the peacock, who was now taking a stroll, and I got some pics. I will try to find them and share them later. My kids remember this too, so I have witnesses. When my husband got home, he did not believe us and so we had to wait- this is how it used to work for you youngsters reading- until we finished the roll of film, dropped it off to be developed and then picked it up to show him. We had to wait like a WEEK! Because back then you didn’t just go off all willy-nilly taking pictures of whatever. You couldn’t DELETE them if they were stupid. You had to pay for ALL the pictures BEFORE you even saw them. So.

Anyway.

Friday.

I overslept to start with. I usually am up and going by six, but I had set an earlier alarm because I needed to go in before work and set up for a good-bye party for a colleague. That alarm didn’t go off, or I didn’t save it right or something. So when I woke up, I wasn’t thinking about getting there early. I was just going through my normal morning routine and then I remembered! I had to put it in high gear and I got to the office in time to get everything set up. I didn’t have earrings or eye makeup on, but I got there.

Oh, who am I kidding. I wasn’t going to wear eye makeup or earrings anyway.

Then, after everything was ready to go, I got this pic and …it was just like the peacock on the porch. I couldn’t process it. It didn’t fit.

The picture was for a book cover that I had submitted a short story to. The book was (is) to be an anthology of stories contributed by the attending authors of a book show I am doing in the spring. The show is at the Ballpark (it should be fabulous by the way!) and so the only rule for our short stories was that there had to be a baseball tie-in.
I wrote about a woman who finds a trunk in the attic…well…I will post the story. It was sweet, and sentimental. I was going to post it in this blog, but now I have gone on and on about one-antlered cars and peacocks, so I will post it separately. I’m already running too long.

Well, I sent in my G-rated story several weeks ago and that was that- until Friday when the cover pic came.

Y’all. It was…not what I expected. It was...not a good fit for my story. I’m not going to share the pic because it is not mine to share. There is nothing wrong with it…but if you picked up a book with that cover and read MY little tame story, you would be wondering why it was in there.

It was a …a very sexy cover. A VERY sexy cover. There was a male torso, shirtless, and not a dad bod…and a suggestive title… Now the title was a draft, just to show where the text would go but it went right along with the picture.

I just…I could not process the picture! I thought it must be a mistake.
I showed a couple of friends the mock up. Their reaction reinforced my feeling. The cover was...not UNfit…but definitely not A fit for my story.

One friend said, “Oh my God! I didn’t know you wrote THAT kind of stuff!!!”

I don’t.

In our author group, the contributors were all having a discussion about it and it emerged that a majority of the stories WOULD in fact be a good fit for this cover.

I was left wondering if I missed a memo about genre, but no, it just happened that way!

After some thought, I decided to pull my story from the anthology. This caused some extra work re-formatting the manuscript for the person handling that, and I felt bad, but she was understanding and gracious. I sent a break-up note to my fellow authors explaining that ‘it’s not you it’s me’ (and that is absolutely TRUE. I have no judgement on anyone else’s story y’all! Just had to make the right decision for me...) and there was zero drama. It’s not like my story was pivotal or was gonna make the book or anything anyway. So that done I felt good. Relaxed. The way you feel when you know you did the right thing.

That’s when I saw the reindeer car and started thinking about things fitting or not.

Oh! There was some other weirdness I was going to share, but I am just realizing it would give away a Christmas surprise so never mind. I’m already too wordy today without it.

I’ll post the baseball blog later today. I think it’s a good fit here.

Until then, hang on to all your antlers! Teachers, winter break is coming!!

Happy Sunday.

Uncounted

Uncounted.

When I was a little girl, my paternal grandmother kept sugar cubes in her house for her coffee. I remember her telling me one morning when I was visiting, that she put in two lumps every morning--never three. “Three lumps makes you fat,” she said.

I remember thinking that it couldn’t have made that much difference. I think a lump of sugar equals about 16 calories. I didn’t think it mattered. But to her, it was part of a larger mindset. Maybe she felt if she was reckless enough to put three lumps of sugar in her coffee, she might just stop making good choices at all. I don’t know. It was a different time. Bacon grease was kept on the stove and everything- EVERYTHING in her house was fried. Okay, not the rice. But almost everything.

For every blog I post, there is usually at least one other that I write and decide not to post. Maybe I just wait too long and it isn’t relevant anymore. Or maybe it just doesn’t strike the right tone- I haven’t shared what I want to share in the right way. This was almost one of those non-posters. And then I started thinking about a larger context. First the smaller one:

Baby its Cold Outside.

I’ll admit it. My first thought when I heard that a radio station had ‘banned’ this song from their playlist was “Good! I hate that song!” And if you know me, you know that is true. I never have cared for it. And a radio station is a customer service industry. If their listeners don’t want to hear that, then I suppose it is their choice to make it disappear. I mean…the government hasn’t BANNED the song. It isn’t illegal… Radio stations need happy listeners. Having happy listeners sells advertising and radio stations are a business. The classical station doesn’t play rap because their listeners don’t want to hear that. Rap stations don’t play George Strait. (Their loss…ijs.)

Then I started thinking more deeply about it. Yes, I understand the Me Too Movement. I understand that date rape is real. Trust me. I understand these things on a personal level.

I also have had the sort of banter that is portrayed in some of those lyrics within a grown-up, consensual relationship where we both understood the deeper context.

So, just like I stood up for the right of people (ADULTS) to read that silly 50 Shades of Gray book that I have not read, I am standing up for that song I really don’t like.

You know what I have done for as long as I can remember when I hear that song? I turn the channel. Or ignore it. Or sometimes I catch myself singing along to the chorus if it is the Rod Stewart version and then I sort of growl at myself. But in all those years, never, ever, has anyone sat me down, held my arms away from ears and FORCED me to listen to that song.

Me Too is real and valid. And HELL yes we have a responsibility to stand up for and to stand with people who are abused and oppressed. We have a responsibility to call out injustice when we see it and to change things that are wrong.

It’s just.

It’s more complicated than scrubbing offensive things from sight (or sound.)

And also.

I mean.

Hypocrisy right? And I don’t mean necessarily by the Me Too movement. Just in general.

I’m guilty.

We have to be so careful that our anger is righteous. I pointed out once to my husband when I was mad, mad, mad that even Jesus was angry for good cause with the moneychangers and he responded, “True. Also, YOU are not Jesus…”

Well. Ouch.

One of my FAV.OR.ITE Christmas songs ever (and it is a Christmas song in the way Die Hard is a Christmas movie…) is Robert Earl Keen’s Merry Christmas from the Family. It’s way inappropriate on SO MANY LEVELS. The first line is “Mom got drunk and Dad got drunk” and it does not get any more politically correct from there. I remember happily singing it one Christmas Eve years ago for my old friend Danny, who is himself a Mexican, (song reference, not random fact) who howled with laughter and joined in on the Feliz Navidad line.

Life, humor, EVERYTHING is complicated. It is hard to navigate. Sometimes we get offended. Sometimes with cause, and sometimes it is petty. Sometimes we cross a line. I certainly don’t have the navigation part down solid. And I don’t really think it is my place to tell other people when they should or should not get offended. Woo. But I have done this! (I’m working on it.)

We all have different experiences that affect us. One example: Some people are adamant about saying Merry Christmas and others want to say Happy Holidays.

I have no time for this.

I don’t celebrate Hanukah.

You know what I would say to someone who wished me Happy Hanukah?

Thank you.

I would say Thank you.

I have no agenda about this. I am simply sharing my feelings. On my blog. I have friends who feel differently about this than I do and you know what? That’s okay.

It’s more than okay actually. It enriches my life.

My job on this planet is not to always win people over to my view.

My job is to honor people’s feelings.

My job is to accept that people think differently than I do.

My job is to be civil…

…and sometimes I to sing to people.

No.

Wait.

That is wrong.

That’s not my job.

My job is to love people.

And (now the bigger context) people need to be loved. They need to feel like they count and like their opinion counts! Hence FB, twitter, Instagram, numerous other social medial platforms and yes, blogs.

Being uncounted hurts.

Feeling alone hurts.

Little things that seem like they shouldn’t matter, do matter.

Like that third lump of sugar.

So, I’m feeling this:

Grace for the people offended by that song.
Defensive for a song I still do not like.
Nostalgic for my grandmother I wish I could talk to…

And slightly guilty because I just put three sugars in my coffee.
It’s a BIG cup of coffee y’all, but still.

One thing I am NOT feeling is uncounted and for that I thank you, my friends and family.
I wish you peace, joy and happiness this holiday season, because Baby, its cold outside- and sometimes inside too!

Love to you.
Happy Tuesday.

Weaving

Weaving.

I have two very different things to talk about today so I am going to try my best to weave them together.

The first thing I want to share with you is about a visit I made to a classroom yesterday that just was delightful. There is this amazing woman, Grace, aptly named, who has started a before school club for the boys and girls at her elementary school. The kids come in before school to knit and crochet. If they don’t know how, Grace teaches them. If they do, they work on their projects.

The second thing I have to talk about is poop. I could start off with the poop, but I’m pretty sure it is a law that it be number 2 since it is poop. So, I’ll come back to that.

So, back in August I think it was just as we were kicking off the school year, I got this email from a woman, Grace, saying something like, “I heard from a cashier at the store that you make scarves for the homeless.” Then she told me about the club she had started so that students at her school have a place to be and something to do before school starts each day. She invited me to come visit. I was finally able to go yesterday morning.

When I walked in, there was this group of probably 15 or so kids. Grace said it was a small group because it was also yoga day. She usually has around 20 students, sometimes more if the weather is cold. There was this great, comfortable buzz of conversation as students worked and talked to each other. The room contains cubbies full of color-coded yarn and all sorts of other things. Grace looks over the technology for the campus so there are things there for her ‘real’ job as well.

As I talked with Grace and the students, I just felt so happy and peaceful. What a lovely thing she has started. The kids are doing something they love, practicing the art of conversation, and getting some academic benefit. As Grace pointed out, you need math to count and measure. You can write about crocheting. Some teachers have even shared that they see an increase in focus from students who participate.

I asked one young lady what she liked most about her knitting and she said, “I just get to relax and be myself.”

That’s big.

We all know our kids live in a chaotic, uncertain world filled with noise, and screens and ever-changing demands. While we may remember being 8, or 10, or 12, we were never 8 or 10 or 12 in 2018. I believe in my heart that what Grace has started will benefit every single student who comes through her door and that for some, it will be life-changing.

I gave them a scarf that they added to their warm tree of items that will be donated this winter to those in need, and I left feeling happy. It would have been a bright spot in any day, but it turned out to be really the very best part of yesterday by far.

My next stop was the dentist.

I know, I know. I said poop was number 2. Hang on. I’ll get to it.

So, at the dentist my blood pressure was way up and it just didn’t go down all day. The dentist originally thought I had a big problem with one of my teeth. It turned out to be just an old filling that looked weird to her on the x-ray, but it was stressful for a while. I was already nervous. I hadn’t been to the dentist in a couple of years. (I know!) I have been trying to take better care of myself and so I made an appointment for the dentist, I got my yearly mammogram, I scheduled an eye exam and last week, I went to my doctor and had a physical.

Well, like I said, my BP was up, really very dangerously high even after I left the dentist and got to my meeting and my boss sent me home. I called my doctor’s office and went back on another medication to add to what I am taking, and finally got it back down.

I’m feeling much better.

So today, I pulled out my to do list I had made a few days ago. I figured I could get a few things crossed off. The first item was PPU. That means Porch Pick Up. It was an item I got off a Buy Sell Trade Board and I had to go pick it up today. Good. Check. The next item said prescrips. I had prescriptions to pick up today. Ironically, my BP refill. Awesome. On it. The third item…well it looked like it simply said ‘poop.’

I stared at the word.

Now I could not for the life of me figure out why I would have written poop on my to do list. That isn’t an item that I need to be reminded of. I figured it maybe just looked like the word poop in my scrawl and maybe it was something else…but I could not remember what. So, I posted it on social media and asked my friends if they had any ideas. I know I have clever friends and I enjoyed the responses. But then I remembered! Oh my God. It DID say poop!

Suddenly I wished I had not posted it, but too late. It’s out there and people want to know. So, brace yourselves.

You see friends, some of you know, and some of you don’t yet, that when you get to be a certain age, (oh how I hate that phrase…) there are things you have to think about that maybe you never thought of before.

Remember how I said I had my physical last week? Well. The doctor gave me this special little package to screen for any colon issues. The way they screen for that is to…erm…well…they check your poop. Now, believe it or not, there is a company that does this through the mail. So, you collect a …uh…a sample…following very specific instructions and then you MAIL IT IN-- I. Am. Not. Lying. To. You. --and in a few weeks your doctor gets your results.

Gives you a new appreciation for mail carriers doesn’t it?

Thankfully, it is a prepaid envelope so you don’t have to go to the post office and answer “Is there anything liquid, fragile, or perishable???” because I don’t know man. I don’t know how to answer that one.

Please be assured, it is very, VERY well sealed with multiple safeguards but still. Who knew. You can mail in your poop.

The last time I went through this process, there was an actual box that I left on the porch for FedEx to pick up and all I could think was about our rash of porch package thefts, and how very disappointed a thief would be to steal that package. Talk about karma.

Anyway.

There you have it. It was a reminder to me that that special little package is waiting for me to deal with. Apparently, I wrote it down because I thought I would forget.

And I did.

Poop.

Some days are like that. Beauty and joyfulness and then, something reminds you that not everything is roses. In fact, some things are VERY DIFFERENT from roses.

And that’s okay.

Let’s end on a different note though alright? Back to Grace’s room.
Before I left, she pulled out a weaving that her class made. It was a Saori weaving and just gorgeous. Saori is a Japanese style of weaving that is sort of free form. It doesn’t follow a pattern. It follows, your heart. To some it may look imperfect, but that is the beauty to be embraced. As with kintsugi, a way to repair a broken dish or pot that makes it even more beautiful than it was before, you don’t try to hide the parts that are different. You celebrate them. You put it all in there. Thin strands, thick uneven strands, different colors… you get the idea. And you get this random, unique bit of gloriousness BECAUSE it isn’t all perfect.

I feel like I’m trying too hard here. I know you all get it. I just don’t want to stop talking about it.

So, I will leave you with this. All of us on the planet have to deal with poop sometimes- literally sure but especially metaphorically. There are some incredible people on the planet doing things to help prepare kids to deal with difficult times. One of those people is Grace. She is doing so much more than teaching kids to knit and crochet. She is helping them see opportunity and beauty in a world that is often hard.

So, go and enjoy your evening! And if you get the chance, be like Grace.

Happy Saturday!

Leftovers

I’ve been sick for two weeks.

Nothing serious. One of those nagging things that just hangs on. I’ve been to the Doc and I’m feeling somewhat better. I’m mostly able to do what needs to be done.

I did have to go to the pharmacy the day before Thanksgiving to get another prescription, and since my pharmacy is inside a grocery store- well it was crazy busy in the parking lot and inside the store.

The pharmacists and staff where I go are really great. They remember my name, ask about my family, and look out for issues with my prescriptions. This time here was an issue with getting one of the prescriptions covered- it is a really pricey one. I’m talking $300 bucks pricey. They knew better than to fill it before talking it over with me. I appreciated that so much. And as busy as they were, they did not act rushed or frustrated with me.
While we were waiting on a call back, one of the staff asked me about Thanksgiving plans. I said I was cooking for some people. He then asked, “What is your specialty? What’s your signature dish?”

I just replied that I make most of the traditional dishes- nothing unique.

His question stayed with me all day though.

Do I NEED a signature Thanksgiving dish? Am I missing an important piece of tradition to pass on to my kids? OMG! Am I failing at the holidays?? I DON’T HAVE A SIGNATURE THANKSGIVING DISH!!

It’s silly. Honestly, I didn’t really panic so much as I reflected on it. I just thought it was a nice question. Personal, but not too personal. It indicated a level of interest. It was a good customer service/ relationship building question.

We do sometimes panic about that kind of silly thing in my experience though. Especially over the holidays when some of us put crazy, unreal expectations on ourselves.

Then the next day, after our Thanksgiving dinner was eaten and most of the dishes were done, my daughter asked if I was making the Turkey soup with the leftovers. I told her yes, that I was ordering the ingredients for the turkey tortilla soup as well as turkey pot pie and that we would also have turkey paninis and turkey nachos this week.

She was delighted.

That’s when it hit me.

My signature dish is. the. leftovers.

The leftovers are where I shine.

The leftovers are where I get to be creative.

The leftovers are what my family looks forward to the most.

I absolutely love this because, honestly, right now I am sort of operating on a system of leftovers. I find that all the pursuits I have put so much effort to in recent years, are now sort of relegated to happening in leftover bits of time. Writing, painting, upcycling stuff, decorating, traveling, crocheting the scarves, reading.

These things that feed my soul, don’t get a lot of time these days.

For those who may not know, after I finish my full-time day job, I am care-giver to my 2-year-old granddaughter most days and weekends. She is my heart and my joy, but there is no taking care of her as a ‘leftover’ pursuit. She is the main dish y’all. She is at the age where she needs constant supervision and interaction. I wouldn’t trade it for anything. And I know it won’t last. There will come a time all too soon in her life, that time with her old Mia will happen in her leftover moments. And you know what? I will cherish those too.
Until then, the ‘other’ stuff I want to do is relegated to leftover status. And I’m beginning to think that there is no reason to think of leftovers as somehow less than.

The things we spend our hours on shift throughout our lives. They are what matter most.
But the things we spend our minutes on, they matter too. We don’t give them up because we only have a few minutes for them. We just cherish them and hold them in our hearts until the next bit of leftover time comes along.

And, I remember, that without that big old Thanksgiving turkey there ARE NO LEFTOVERS. It’s all connected.

Ain’t that great?

SO love your turkey AND your leftovers.

They all have a place.

And we are so lucky to have them both.

My heart is full.

Now time to stir the soup.

Happy Sunday.

The Willful Child

"When you are going through something hard and wonder where God is, remember the teacher is always silent during the test."

I read this recently online and I thought, well that is bullcrap.

Have you ever been in a Texas classroom when the STAAR test is being administered?

The teacher is not silent. She has a line to say as many times as required. Over and over. All day long.

Teachers reading this know what it is.

For the rest of you I will share it now:

“I can’t help you with that. Do the best you can.”

It may be a slight variation of that, but in general that is the message.

But God doesn’t work that way! When He is silent it is because, in my experience anyway, either I am not listening, or I don’t want to hear the answer He is giving me so I just keep asking again. Like I am reaching for another fortune cookie hoping to get a better message.

God is not a cookie.

He is always right the first time.

This morning I drove into work talking to God about some things weighing heavy on my heart. The main issue I have is that I deal with a very willful child every single day.

Oh- I don’t mean Z.

Though she is most certainly willful.

But she has only had a couple of trips around the sun. It is to be expected. It is who she is.

Last night we had the following conversation:

Z-Mia! I have an idea!
(Yes. I do know where she heard that one. It’s funny when the kids in your life open their mouths and you hear yourself talking…)

Me- You do? What is it!?

Z- I’m going to look in the mirror!

Me- Okay!

Z- Where is it? Where is the mirror?

Me- Right there Z, where is always is.

Z- I DON’T SEE IT!

Me- (Leading her over) Here is the mirror, see?

Z- I CAN’T FIND IT!

She then flung herself to the ground kicking and screaming and flailing.

I don’t know man.

It seems like there should be a joke or a platitude or something inserted here…You can lead a two year old to the mirror but you can’t make her look or something.

Anyway.

The willful child I am speaking of is not Z. It is me.

See I have an idea too.

I have this idea of how my life should be and it isn’t really lining up that way.

I had this conversation with God this morning:

Me: God, I feel like I am failing.

God: Weird. Why?

Me: I can’t get it all done! Help me get it all done!

God: Look Sherry, I’m not gonna give you more hours in the day than I gave everyone. The day has the right amount of hours. I already gave you the ability to prioritize.

Me: But…God! ALL THE PLATES ARE IN THE AIR!

God: Some of those plates are plastic.

Me:

God: Let them fall??

Me: Yeah, yeah. I get it.

You ever argued with God?
Heh.
So I changed the subject.

Me: Okay on the plates. But hey, God?

God: Yes?

Me: You know that thing I have been worrying about?

God: Which thing? Ha! Just kidding. Yeah I know, I’m God remember??

Me: Well, please don’t make me have to go through that thing.

God: If you go through it, I will go with you.


Well.
Y’all.
I felt like I was a two year old standing in front of a mirror refusing to look in.

I don’t know how I am going to handle all life throws at me, but I do know I have to stop being so willful.

Here is what I am thankful for. Never once has God ever said to me, “I can’t help you with that. Do the best you can”

What he says is “Do not be afraid. I will never leave you or forsake you. You. Can. Count. On. Me. Always.”

I have no better words so I will leave you with the rest of our conversation.

Me: God, I love you.
God: I love you too Sherry.

And he loves you too. Even if you do not know Him. But if you want an introduction, just let me know.
Amen?
Amen.

Typos and All

At the end of last year, 2017, I wrote a post about how I felt it was important to not hate the outgoing year and simply hope the new one would be better. I wrote that if nothing changes but the calendar, then chances were the new year but be pretty much the same as the old one. I talked about the importance of attitude and taking responsibility for your own happiness.

Then we rang in 2018.

In January my mom had a stroke.

In February my daughter, at the beginning of a painful divorce, moved in bringing my darlin Z and her two dogs, bringing the total of dogs in our home to four.
Her divorce was final in July.

Also in the summer, my adult son went through a period of homelessness and other challenges and my husband and I talked about divorce.

In August, my younger son crashed badly on his motocross bike and had a concussion which came with shockingly high medical bills.

Also in August, Z’s dog, the Great Dane, Atlas, was diagnosed with cancer and we began, for lack of a better phrase, hospice care.

In September we got a slab leak and had to move to a hotel while our bedroom was dug up.

Somewhere in the middle of the year Gav’s birth mom surfaced bringing stress and drama.

Those are some of the hard things this year brought.

Today is the first day back at home. We moved out of the hotel about 6:30 this morning while I was hacking up a lung because, oh yeah, forgot to mention, I am sick.

So the insurance adjuster called a bit ago. He commented on my froggy sounding voice and cough as we talked saying, “This has been a difficult week for you hasn’t it?”

I just had to laugh. He has no idea.

I told him yes, that this whole year had presented many opportunities to find happiness when it wasn’t always easy to spot.

He didn’t answer that right away.

I realize it wasn’t probably what he expected me to say. I realize also that sometimes I talk a little…weirdly. I’m okay with that.

When he did answer he said:

Well, 2018 only has a few more months and maybe next year will be better.

There it is again. That idea that some years are just bad. That a calendar change will make a difference. That I should—I guess—hold no expectations at all for the rest of September, and all of October, November and December and hang my hope for happiness on January 2019.

Bless his heart. He meant well.

Silly.

See, I think 2018 has been an absolutely amazing year!

I saw my mom recover from her stroke and got to spend some special time with her during her rehab. We have a complicated relationship and I will always treasure that time.
Gav has recovered from his crash.

My daughter Kelly became engaged to her wonderful boyfriend.

I released THREE books in 2018, my second novel and two Motocross books that Gav and I wrote. I was also published in an anthology of teacher stories and next month one of my stories will be published in one of those Chicken Soup books. Even better than the excitement of that, is getting to share it all with great friends.

My little free scarf project got some really fun publicity and great things are happening because of that.

I got to watch Z’s face the first time she saw the ocean.

And every day- Every. Single. Day. – I got to live knowing that I am saved by grace, that I have the gift of joy, love and friendship in my life, and that I can be grateful for every day I am given.

As I write this I am coughing. I am looking out my back door that is covered in smudges. My bed is in the living room because our bedroom floor is not finished. And I am listening to the TV in the next room talk about Hurricane Florence bearing down on the Carolinas. My husband has been put on standby by FEMA to deploy in response to the storm. I have nothing planned for dinner and I have not showered today.

I’m telling you, I feel grateful and joyful.

I also feel sad about some things. That’s okay too.

And now I have to go. Zoe is reaching for the keyboard with a smashed banana in her hands so I'm gonna post this typos and all--hey--that's a good title!

Grateful I say.
Happy Thursday.

Unbalanced.

Unbalanced.

You always hear about how you need to lead a balanced life. Work life balance. Eat a balanced meal. On and on. Possibly you feel like you are failing at this. I know I have felt that way. Well I am here to tell you how to avoid feeling that way.

Stop trying for balance.

No I mean it. And this isn’t my new idea. I did just read it again a couple of weeks ago though and it resonated again with my soul.

Balance is what keeps us right in the middle of the beam. Balance is the concept is what makes us feel guilty if we enjoy, live, experience, create, eat, whatever…too much of anything. It is an unattainable and an unworthy goal.

Sometimes the ‘too much’ is where the beauty is. I would rather live a great big, messy, rich, joyful, UNBALANCED life with a little bit of madness, than I would keep score of everything.

That means that sometimes I sit and make one scarf after another and don’t make dinner or read or sleep.

Sometimes I nap all day.

Sometimes I cook and bake and mess up every dish in the house.

Sometimes I read and don’t write.

Sometimes I write and don’t read.

And all of these are glorious.

If I start thinking, I need to finish one scarf, write one chapter, read to page 89, make a cherry tart, and be asleep by ten…well that becomes, to me, a boring list of chores. I would much rather lose myself in one meaningful activity than throw minutes at a lot things in the name of balance.

Need to work at home sometimes? No problem!

Have a sick kiddo and need to miss work? It’s okay!

Maybe I am just getting old, but I am determined to really LIVE each and every day I have left of my life. I do not mean to sound as if I have everything figured out. But people do ask me all the time how I do all the things that I do- work, write, the scarves (which are currently taking over my life in an adorable way) paint, travel, and whatever else. The answer is pretty simple: Do one of those things at a time. I may do more than one in a day. And, truthfully I am always writing- or thinking about writing- but really that is my answer. If I get ‘into’ something and I can’t let it go, I don’t worry about that. I just enjoy it.

I go to bed EXHAUSTED Every. Single. Night…and that is just fine with me.

I would rather be exhausted from things that add something good to the world than to know I got my baseboards scrubbed.

And that’s just me. If you get joy from clean baseboards, then DO THAT. Do not compare yourself with anyone else on the planet because that’s surefire way to kill your joy.

For me I guess I can sum it up in this quote from Charles Bukowski-
“Some people never go crazy. What truly horrible lives they must lead.”

Go crazy for the things that bring you joy friends. And don’t feel guilty if it isn’t balanced. Not one bit of guilt. There is not time for that.

Happy Thursday.

Jellyfish and Yarn Scraps

Two things on my mind today- yarn scraps and jelly fish.

A week or so ago I posted on a mom group I am a member of that I was looking for leftover yarn to make scarves. I crochet all year and then when the weather is cold, my son and I distribute them in the city.

The response was overwhelming. I think I have enough yarn now for several winter's worth of scarves. I had to take down the post even.

Yarn is one of those things that gets held on to for a project, or it belonged to a special family member who has passed on...it can be hard to get rid of. So, I felt very honored when several people messaged me that they wanted to give me the yarn that a special person had left behind. I am tryng to share pictures as I complete scarves with their yarn so they can see- and know that someone will be warmer this winter because of them.

I never, ever expected to get the amount of yarn I got. Yesterday there was a knock on the door and a lady and her husband were dropping off four large boxes! I just gave her a hug and then told her I hoped that was okay. I used the word overwhelmed and that is how I felt. Each bit of yarn is a reminder of the goodness in people.


This morning as I rummaged around in one of the boxes for some color combinations, I found several small balls of yarn in various colors- maybe 20 or so. I used them all in the same scarf. Had to keep tying on another length because they were short little bits. It is literally an entire scarf made of scraps.

And it is beautiful.

The scrap scarves are actually my favorite ones to make. There is no pattern and sometimes you think a color is not going to work, but then it gets crocheted in and looks gorgeous.


Like life. Sometimes there are all of these little pieces that don't seem to fit and maybe seem like scraps, but really they are the perfect addition to the fabric of the life we are living.

When I got up today, my last week of vacation, my grandbaby was screaming about getting a bath. Her mom was doing just what needed to be done, but Zoe wasn't happy about it. I got my coffee fixed and sat down. After her bath, my daughter fixed Z some food and a drink and handed her to me for a minute. There we both were on the couch. My daughter looked at us and laughed and said, "You both have the same expression on your face."

Z was saying, "I need cereal! I need cuppy!" and I was thinkng, "Dear Heavenly Father I need coffee..." and the funny thing was, Z's cereal and cup were right there waiting for her. And my coffee was in my hand. We already had just what we needed.

Also, so often, just like life.

So we had our cereal and coffee and I made a pretty scarf.

Then Z looked at me and said, "I need jellyfish."

She saw a jelly fish for the first time last week when we visited the ocean. I do not have a jellyfish in the house. That I know of anyway. So her memory of jellyfish for now will just have to do.

Again. Like life.

Friends, today I wish you coffee, jellyfish, cereal...what ever it is you are needing. I pray you will see the beauty in what looks like scraps and that you will find those blessing hiding right in front of you. I am making more scarves, with the hope that my son will be with me to distribute them this winter.

But first. I think. A nap.

Happy Monday.