Saying Hello

Standard

I woke up early this morning…very early.  It was one of those mornings where you can only sleep for snatches at a time.  Each time I woke up, my dog was staring at me.  Must have been something in the air (but it didn’t seem to be affecting my husband).

I woke up thinking about 6:05 a.m.  I could hear her in my head telling me it was almost time.  Not quite but almost.  My special day wouldn’t start until then.

I woke up thinking about her waffles and the homemade strawberry sauce/syrup/yummy stuff she used to cover them with. She pulled out her waffle maker on special occasions…today would have been one of those days.

I woke up thinking about my momma on my birthday.

I woke up thinking about my grandmother, too.  I had dreamed about her during those snatches of sleep.  Doris was back to well and feisty and spirited.  She was driving a car (Lord help us…she didn’t learn to drive until she was in her sixties and my papa passed away), and she was driving fast.  She was speeding toward the nursing home with a car load of family but she quickly told us she didn’t have to stay there anymore.  We all knew it was true…she was too well to stay there.

I woke up feeling melancholy as I thought about these women I’ve lost… but then I smiled.  I smiled because they were with me today.  They came into my mind and heart strongly, more so than usual.  They came to say hello.

Best birthday present ever.

My 9th birthday.  I got a red purse with my name stitched in white.  My name was in cursive and I'd only begun to write in cursive myself.  One of my most cherished gifts ever.

My 9th birthday. I got a red purse with my name stitched in white. My name was in cursive, and I’d only begun to write in cursive myself. One of my most cherished gifts ever.

Rocking On

Standard

“Mrs. Rackley, why do you have that T around your neck?” asks an inquisitive, sparkling child.

“It’s a cross,” I answer as my ‘whoa, be careful, not supposed to talk about religion in school’ meter goes off.

“What for?  Did somebody die?”

“No…it’s just my cross.  My son gave it to me,” I have to say and then no more.

These conversations pop up out of the blue and always stop me in my tracks. We’re going, going, going, filling every minute of the day with stations and RTI and reading, and then boom, a little child pulls me back into the real world. I’m usually in deep teacher mode when these moments happen, and it’s almost like a little smack when they ask me real-life questions. Makes me wonder what would happen if I had more time to listen to their thoughts and stories and musings.

The playground is usually a good place to hear the unusual, the off-topic and sometimes, trivial.  I actually enjoy going out for recess, unless we’re having a rash of tattling that day.  Only outside can you hear the following (which are actual quotes I put into my phone as soon as I heard them):

“I ain’t scared of a ladybug.  They’re nice.  They might poop on your finger but they’re nice.”

“This rain’s got good flavor!”

ladybug

So school is rocking on.  We’re 18 days into the year, and in the last few days I’ve felt us slowly round the curve.  The children are learning routines, finding their way into first grade slowly and steadily (well, I may have pushed them a bit…).  We’re trying to find our footing, and I do believe we will.  I got my first two ‘I love you’s’ this week…a few kisses on the arm from one loving fellow…and hugs from a few girls I worried might not open up to me at all.  All these things are glimpses of bonding…me bonding with them, the children bonding with me.  But bonding is more than skills and numbers on a page…these children remind me of that often.  I have to listen to their inquiries and tales, and I have to let them hug and love.  That’s how they become mine and I try to become theirs.

 

Mork

Standard

It’s been over a week since Robin Williams died and with all the media coverage, I’ve found my mind often on him and his situation. I was one of those kids who grew up in the 70’s watching Happy Days and then Mork and Mindy. I followed him into the 80’s and 90’s with Popeye and Mrs. Doubtfire.  Just like so many, he’s been in my media life all my life.

Since he died, I have seen nothing but one memorial or blog after another. Everyone seems to have an opinion about his life and death.  The most disturbing reads have been the judgmental suicide columns.  They’re heavy and doom-filled, and all I can do after I read them is sigh and wonder when we were given the right to judge another.

I am certainly no expert on the Bible, and I’m certainly no expert on suicide, but none of us have been given the special honor of being the ultimate judge over others.  Best I recall, we are not to judge others at all.

Depression is an ugly, vile thing.  I saw it devour my mother at times, and nothing about it was easy or clean.  When she was deep in the midst of the dark, she tried her best to think of others but she was waging a battle that she could barely survive on her own.  As a child, I witnessed her chemical imbalance, shock treatments, psychiatrists, institutions.  Trust me, none of it is as simple as just snap out of it… or… if you’d think about your kids, you’d be fine.

I can only reason that people who judge others actions may have never been in their shoes before. (And it’s a good thing we all don’t have to experience every single bad thing in this world.)  Still, before you condemn another, realize you may have never felt their pain or experienced their darkness.

I’ve knocked on depression’s door, caught glimpses of the dark, but never have I been unable to pull through.  I’m lucky in that aspect, my mother wasn’t.  The God I knew during those times never condemned me, never turned from me.  I’ve actually never known more love than in those weakest moments.  So instead of judging Robin Williams and the decisions he made, I’m praying that his suffering is over, that he’s felt God’s love, that people will try to love others as God loves us, and that we’ll all leave the judging to Him.

 

Back to School

Standard

Back to school, back to school, oh how I adore you!

Not really – it’s just too stinking hard to adore, but still there’s nothing, not anything in the world like it.  It’s exciting, hard, terrifying, exhausting, fulfilling, energetic and fresh.  Unique to this time of year, it can only be explained and comprehended by people who have lived through the experience.  And somehow, not sure how, I’ve made it through the first week of another back to school.

You parents know, other kids may remember, but the little ones are t-e-r-r-i-f-i-e-d on the first day.  For example…my sister was in the car line on the first day readying to drop her daughter off.  As they pulled to a stop in front of the school, she noticed that a teacher had to pry a child out of his mom’s car as he screamed and cried.  My sis could hear him yelling, “I don’t want to go to school.  I don’t want to go in that Mrs. Rackley’s room!”  (And yes, that’s me and I’m not mean, I promise.)

Bless him – whomever he may be.  Luckily, no one was wailing in fear by the time they made it down the hall to the dreaded Mrs. Rackley.

It’s a little early to tell the personality of my class.  Will they be spunky or inquisitive?  Bright or sweet?  So far, all I’ve gathered is that we have promise.  Lots of it.  This group of children came in my door reading…like really reading.  They can track print, know gobs of sight words and can keep up when others are reading like nobody’s business.  I listened to them read this past week and all I could do was grin and do double high-fives.  Yes!  Oh the places we’ll go!  And you Kindergarten teachers, let me just tell you…you rock!!  Every day I’m thankful for all the hard work you put into your job.

I’m thankful to work in a building with teachers who aren’t afraid to work their tails off.  We push and love and never give up.  The older I get, the more I realize it’s a true gift to be surrounded by dedicated people.  So here’s to another back to school, another school year.  God…grant us peace of mind, a whopping dose of patience and more than anything, an abundance of love.

teacherpoem

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walk and Talks

Standard
037

Can you see the webs glistening in the grass?

Several mornings a week, I get up early and walk.  The world is different early in the day.  Cool air whispers against your skin, faint mists float through the trees, the dew still sits heavily on the earth.  The dew was thick this morning, outlining web after web.  It was almost magical seeing hundreds of webs throughout the field and yard.

This is what I’ll miss most about school starting back tomorrow – my walk and talks.  During these early morning walks, with the beauty of the earth surrounding me, I feel closer to God than any other time during the day.  His magestic beauty does something to my soul.  For that thirty minutes, I pour out my gratitude, my sorrows, my worries, and for that thirty minutes, I feel Him right there with me saying I’ve got you.

038039

There’ll Be No Crabgrass in Heaven

Standard

Musings about Heaven from a lowly human:

1.  There’ll be no more crabgrass in Heaven.  Of that I’m totally convinced.  What is that stuff and how the heck is it so strong?  I know there’ll be a day when it doesn’t consume my grass and flowerbeds anymore.

2.  Food:  No longer will it be the thorn in my side, the very bane of my existence.  I can’t eat onions, peppers, spices, red sauces – just to name a few.  What I can eat and love (southern comfort food), makes me gain weight if I even glance its way.  One day my diet will consist of more than almonds, eggs, Greek yogurt and Rice Chex, and I can’t wait.

3.  Dentist will no longer drill.  No more smelling the powdery smoke that settles in your nostrils as they grind away on your teeth.  Dentists will still exist but only to remind us to smile.  (I went to the dentist today – sorry.)

4.  Will my dog be there?  Will all of our pets be there to greet us on the other side?  Is that only a silly ‘wish’?  And if they are, some of us will end up with a slew of animals hanging around.

5.  Our loved ones are supposed to greet us on the other side…we hear that one a lot.  I choose to believe that theory but…and this but bothers me.  If we’re able to recognize our loved ones in Heaven, will we be able to decipher who is not there??  If there’s no pain in Heaven, wouldn’t that cause pain if we realized a loved one was missing?  (Sigh…this thought makes me perplexed.)

6. It’s forever…FOREVER!  Wow – my brain cannot fathom.

7.  Jobs:  My momma always said that if she had a job in Heaven, it would be taking care of dogs.  That thought makes me smile.  I can see her there, beautiful and confident, herding a slew of Boston Terriers and sneaking them Twizzlers and cheeseburgers from Sonic.  (Her Boston Terrier was very fluffy and wobbled around on skinny legs – hmmm…any guesses why?)  Wonder what my job will be?

8.  Sometimes I just can’t wait to go home.  That feeling came over me one night during a rough patch and I found myself praying those exact words.  Some days I just want to go home, to my real home.  The older I get the more I look towards that place and realize this place is only temporary.

9.  What do see when you visualize Heaven?  Vibrant flowers, towering mountains, a sandy beach, vast fields, a golden mansion – all of that?  None of that? Why does my vision overflow with flowers?

10.  Have you heard the song I Can Only Imagine”?  I love it.  The whole premise of the song is how will you react when you first meet Jesus.  I’ve already decided…and there’s no doubt…I will be a blubbering idiot.  I won’t be able to talk for crying.  And it will most likely be an ugly cry.  You know the kind – sobbing, snot, splotchy red face and a swollen nose.  Not exactly how I’d choose to look when coming face to face with Jesus but I don’t imagine he’ll care.

Oh, Sugar…

Standard

chheart

My not-so-secret addiction is sugar.  As in sugar found in sweets like chocolate and desserts.  I don’t drink soft drinks, I don’t drink sweet tea, but if I could get away with it, I’d have dessert every single night (and cookies for a snack around 4:00 every day).  But I can’t get away with it so I mostly ogle desserts from afar.  Now…if we go to someone’s house during the week and they just happen to have pie, I’m all over it.  And if my mother-in-law wants to prepare a dessert to follow Sunday lunch, believe me, I’m there.  I just can’t pass them up.  But each time I eat them, I’m left with guilt (Why did you eat that when you know you’re trying to eat right, and you just walked this morning? So much for burning calories. Why?  Why?).

Sugar has become the latest no-no, the latest trend of evil we put into our bodies.  Experts say sugar can affect the brain in the same way cocaine does.  It can create compulsive eating habits and give you withdrawals when you try to cut back.  It can make you cranky and even mildly depressed.  (Hmmm…I’m just going to be honest.  Chocolate has never, not even one time, made me cranky or depressed.)

Oh, sugar…why you gotta be so bad?

Why does something so good have to be so bad?

And you salties…don’t roll your eyes.  You’re just as bad as the sugar addicts.  You know it!  I watch people around me douse their food with salt every day.  They seem to crave it as much as I crave sugar.  And I don’t crave salt at all.  A little dash in my veggies while they’re cooking and that’s it.

So what’s the difference?  Why do some people crave sugar and some people crave salt?

I won’t even pretend to know why we’re all so different.  We crave different things, taste things differently.  I guess it just means we all have a vice somewhere.  Whether it’s the nightly bowl of ice cream, a hand full of dark chocolate, or a whole bag of chips.

I did find some tips for curbing cravings:  limit processed foods, eat three meals a day, exercise, get out of the house, chew gum.  The one I liked the most was don’t shame yourself.  Isn’t that so true?  I mentioned the guilt my psyche rattles at me when I eat too much sugar – well, that guilt makes me want to scream.  (But honestly, if the little voice inside my head didn’t tell me to stop, I’d eat entirely too much sugar every day.)

Oh, sugar…why you gotta be so good?

You know I love you, but quit begging me to eat the leftover homemade ice cream in the freezer!

This is not me - this is just a representation of how I feel when I eat chocolate!

This is not me – this is just a representation of how I feel when I eat chocolate!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Writer’s Block

Standard

What exactly is writer’s block?  I won’t pretend to know, but something is going on.  Something in my head.  I want to write but when I sit down at my computer…nothing.  Nada.  Zilch.  And I’m frustrated.  I have this story in my head but it won’t transfer through my fingers to the computer.

I’ve tried to dissect it…this strange clogging of thoughts…and so far this is what I’ve gathered.  Maybe I’m in a funk.  Do you have them?  You know, the I feel thick and sluggish and I’m tired all the time and if I don’t get out of my house soon, somebody’s going to get hurt feeling.  Please tell me that someone else feels this way too!  I’d hate to think I’m the only human being that gets stir crazy.

What’s the culprit?  Many things, I believe.

First, my kids are growing up and they don’t need me as much anymore.  They don’t need me to drive them around.  There are no camps, no trips to town for the thousands of things they need.  Now they do it on their own.  It’s a blessing in so many ways but still…suddenly I’m a momma only needed for the occasional meal, laundry services and advice once or twice a week.  It’s such a dramatic change from life before.  I’ve always said raising children should come with warning labels and this is one of them – I will grow up and leave you.  Suck it up.

Second, I’ve been home-bound this summer.  Not by some injury or ailment.  Just home-bound because I have nothing to do…absolutely nothing.  Which sounds wonderful, I know!  And for the first few weeks of summer it was.  Now, I’m getting restless.  My hubby says I need to get my butt back to work.  Maybe he’s right.

Third, we’ve taken no vacations this summer.  Hubby’s job won’t allow it, and the lack of travel and one-on-one time with my family is making me cranky.  I need to see something else besides the (wonderful) walls of my house.  We’ve always traveled every summer…wonderful places like New York and Maine and Mackinac.  Not this year, and I miss it.

Fourth, I’m not doing enough for others.  I’ve come to the conclusion that my boredom/self-pity/restlessness stems from the giving of myself all school year coming to a screeching halt.  Yes, teachers need a break to recover from one school year before tackling another, but I need to find other ways to give in the summer.  (And honestly, something that has nothing to do with small children – that’s my full-time job.)

So…writers block, writer’s block.  It sucks and it needs to go.  Should I run off to some foreign location for a week?  Or how about kidnap my hubby for a few days and disappear north?  Hmm…or maybe, just maybe, I should go on the hunt for somebody who needs help.  Whatever it is, I’ve got to find a way to clear this funk in my head.  I’m on the count-down for the beginning of the next school year, and I need to start with a fresh, clear, funk-less mind.

Any ideas…anyone, anyone?  Beuller, Beuller?  (Sorry – told you I was going stir crazy!)

My imaginary happy place.

My imaginary happy place.

 

 

Pride and Puppies

Standard

“Don’t accept your dog’s admiration as conclusive evidence that you’re wonderful.” – Ann Landers

Oh, why not?  If we could, wouldn’t we be the most loved, appreciated, sought after people in the world?  My rat terrier/lap dog has the uncanny ability to make me feel welcome home whether I’ve been gone five minutes or five hours, she wants to snuggle at all times – no strings attached, and she never seems to get tired of me no matter what I’m doing.

Maybe dogs are too good for our self-esteem.  Maybe they make us believe we really are awesome!  Can their constant devotion blow up our egos?  Nah, surely not!

Layla - the lap dog in motion.

Layla – the lap dog in motion.

In my latest writings, I’m dealing with a woman whose pride has been battered and destroyed.  The character has been humiliated at work, abandoned by her husband, and now is struggling with overcoming the abuse her pride has taken.  I’m quickly introducing a puppy into the story – what better way to help her get over her sorrows?  Even though pride can be a tricky trap into believing your better than others, I think for most it’s way more simple.  It’s simply wondering if you’re worth the space you take up on earth.

Maybe pride comes and goes.  Maybe for some it’s an ego trip.  Maybe for others it’s only a sense of accomplishment.  Maybe for most it’s only feeling happy that in that moment, on that day, things went as they should.

My goal with this new character is to pull her out of her misery while helping her discover her self-worth.  Not sure how I’m going to get her there yet but I do know a lost, pitiful puppy, an old house and an aging grandmother are going to be in the mix.  Just as with children, there’s nothing like the love of an animal to snap you out of your own world – whether it’s pride-filled or sorrow-filled – and I hope to take that feeling into my new story.

Layla's first day at home.

Layla’s first day at home.

Have you ever had an animal that adored you, that maybe even saved you from self-pity or depression?  What about an animal that became your companion or friend?

Heavy Hearts

Standard
The Edmundson Crew

The Edmundson Crew

Our family has suffered another loss, so forgive my morbid post.  My husband’s aunt and uncle lost their second son yesterday.  They lost his brother 18 months ago.  My mind continues to spin with the enormity of it.  Our hearts are heavy.

Things I’ve noticed about death:

1.  Why is it we only notice or acknowledge the good in people once they’re gone?  Why can’t we look at someone while they’re alive and say, Hey – you’re funny and mischievous and you might be the best ball coach there ever was because you loved your players and cared about their little hearts?  Why do we wait until someone is gone to appreciate them?  How many deaths does it take before we finally wake up and say, I love you, man, and you’re awesome?

2.  Why do people, including myself, think we’ve done something wrong when we lose someone?  Almost like we’re being punished for not being the best friend or parent or partner.  Do we really believe that or are our hearts yearning for any kind of answer or reason for the pain?  Because not one of us deserve to lose anyone.

3.  I am a person of faith, pretty big faith.  God is my father, Jesus is my friend, and I spend a lot of time chatting with them both every day.  That being said, I’m in a yucky place this week.  I’m ill and sad and just confused.  I know death is part of living – it’s a guarantee whether we want it or not.  But shouldn’t there be limits?  I’m a big believer in fairness – as in one ball team should not win all the time, certain people shouldn’t receive all the attention, that kind of fair.  You spread the proverbial wealth.  So shouldn’t pain be evenly distributed too?  Why do some get dealt so much more pain than others in a lifetime?  Spread the stuff out!  How fair is it for parents to lose their only two sons 18 months apart?  It’s not, and it yanks at my heart and soul in the worst kind of way.  In my grief, I don’t blame God because I know life is just a side effect of the world we live in.  But dang…

4.  The best and oddest thing about death is the way it pulls people together.  People cling to each other.  It reminds people to love, to share, to remember with clarity things we don’t remember on an average day.  Suddenly, memories flood our minds…thoughts of the wonderful things a person did, the silly habits they had, the love they gave to so many.  Out of something so horrible, good seeps through.  For a little while, we tether to one another.  In the worst of times, people cling.  Maybe we should be clinging every day, not just on the bad days.

5.  Finally, it reminds me that no matter what, one day there’s more.  There’s a new life just beyond your last breath – a new body, a new home.  Death is just a stepping stone, a step into what’s next.  Next will be softer, kinder, and deep in my heart, I just know fairness will no longer be an issue.