There’ll Be No Crabgrass in Heaven

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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…

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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

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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

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“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

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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.

 

Garden Variety

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It has rained for weeks here in southern Tennessee.  Every day for weeks.  The sun manages to pop its head out from time to time, but still, June has been soggy.  The only good thing about the excess rain is how happy my flowers are.  They are brighter, happier, more robust than they’ve ever been.

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Just like flowers, we are all so very different.  Have you ever noticed?  We are different in every aspect…appearance, personalities, needs, wants.  I heard a wonderful lesson on differences yesterday.  The speaker described people as flowers, a mixture of colors, shapes, sizes.  He declared that we’re all given qualities that make us unique and special in our own way.

My thoughts immediately went to my children, and being a lover of flowers, I began to think of what flower they would be.  What symbolic miracle are they?  (Because aren’t flowers a miracle we get to witness every day?)

When my daughter was little, she loved the color purple.  My girl was always thin and started wearing a belt when she started wearing big girl pants.  She’s still thin today, tall and thin with long dark hair.  She was always quiet, always listening but just beyond that, was a touch of wildness.  When at age ten she swallowed a live minnow on a bet, I knew another side of her was emerging.  Independent and tough, sweet and pretty, she’s all things wrapped in one.  She’s my Delphinium.

delphinium

My son came along a few years later, bursting into the world.  As a toddler, he was wild, absolutely buck wild, but now as he’s growing into a man, he’s become so much more.  He’s strong and brave, the kind of brave I will never be.  Happiest on a horse or deep in the woods, he’s all things nature.  He’s funny and sweet, outdoorsy and adventurous.  He’s my sunflower.

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Just as every flower is different, it reminds me that each person is different.  We are not carbon copies, made to do everything the same.  We are each our own unique being, thorns and all.  And I’m so thankful for the color and variety in my life.  Wouldn’t life be so very boring without it?

Summer On Purpose

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Summer is here!  Woo-hoo!  I honestly can’t believe it still.  We’ve been out of school for a week now, and I’m still in some sort of weird denial.  Maybe it’s because I’m still trying to write April on my checks.  Don’t know.  I keep telling myself it’s real…maybe it’ll sink in soon.

With summer comes the lists, the plans.  I refuse to waste nine wonderful weeks.  My plans go something like this…read, clean, write, write, write, read again, clean out a closet or two, read, write, write, write.  Let’s hope I can stick to the plan!

I have one book I’m editing (which makes me giggle each time I say it because I’m no editor), one I put down a year ago that needs an ending (not sure why I put it down), and one I just started.  I plan to give them all lots of attention this summer.

I read a wonderful quote on-line – it said, “…be an on purpose person.”  That means living my life each day with some sort of goal, don’t you think?  It’s so easy for me to get caught up in stuff…stuff that eats away time, not material stuff.  I don’t want to look up in July and wonder what I’ve accomplished over the summer.  So my purpose for this summer is to spend time doing what I love, and I love writing.

Periodically, I get reminded by a punch to the gut that life is not endless.  Our community suffered another loss of a child this week – a 16 year-old, polite, kind boy.  I hate that these moments make me more aware of passing time.  I hate that sometimes I need a nudge to get to doing and get to living.  I have dreams…I best get to making them come true.

 

“The brightest of flames becomes an ember.  You better live life while you can.” - Keith Urban

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The End is Near

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Have you ever heard children tattle before?  It’s a screeching sound, almost like a mad cat or fingernails on a chalkboard or even the squeak of fingers rubbing against a balloon.  Are your jaws locking yet?  Mine are in a perpetual state of lock.

Take the 1 child tattling, multiply by 20, divide by one teacher’s sanity, find the ratio per hour, and measure it for good will.  Now show your work and explain how you got your answer. Wait a minute, Common Core just slipped into my psyche…ugg.

"I use my brain." Let me count the ways I love this kid!  This is just one of them.

“I use my brain.”
Let me count the ways I love this kid! This is just one of them.

 

So we’re on the final countdown.  Thursday is my last day with the students, and by Friday afternoon, another school year will be in the books.  This may be the fastest school year I’ve ever had.  I truly cannot believe we’re finishing this week, but it’s that time.  Time to say goodbye to a precious group of children, time to finish what I started ten months ago.  I think the hardest part is knowing I have to start over again in August.  We work so hard taking the children from very small, timid, just out of Kindergarten, little ones to reading like a top, taller, more mature, almost second graders.  It’s hard to start over each year but that is the nature of the beast, and that is my job.  My job is to take humans from point A to point B with as much growth possible in between.

My mantra through much of life…the hard stuff anyway…is ‘this time tomorrow, it will all be over.’  When I think I can’t survive 150 first graders on a picnic or a difficult time in any part of life, I just tell myself, ‘you can do it…this time tomorrow it will all be over.’  Believe it or not, it helps.  The thing is, this time next week, it will all be over.  This school year will be done, and if I’m totally honest, I’m not ready to see this group go.  They’ve been fascinating, inquisitive, helpful beyond belief.  I’ll be sad to see them leave my room on that last day.

The opposite of this time tomorrow is to enjoy every minute of every day.  I think it’s a blessing to be able to stop and smell the roses.  It takes a little bit of effort to stop, to breathe, to take it all in.  I’ll savor the last hugs, the final hand-written love notes and precious drawings.  I’ll cherish their smiles and giddiness over the idea of summer break.  I’ll do my best to enjoy each day this week…even as they tattle…because I’m aware that it will be this time tomorrow in a blink.

“Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.”

Dr. Seuss

 

 

 

Quotes from the Underbelly

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Do you really want to know what teaching is like?  It’s me, on the floor, on all fours, searching for a lost tooth.  The carpet in my room is navy and tan speckled, and the tiny white tooth disappeared into the miniature hills and valleys of the material.  The students cleared a path for me but only for a moment before swallowing the space around me.  Then at least ten of us were looking for the tiny tooth.  It was a prize, this tooth.  The brave little girl had pulled it herself during lunch, wrapped it in a wrinkled and slightly bloodied napkin before stuffing it into her pocket.  When she pulled the tooth free to inspect her handiwork after lunch, it fell and quickly disappeared.  If only you could have seen her face when she believed it was lost.  This blonde hair, blue-eyed doll is the eldest student I have – eldest as in has enough common sense for most of the 150 first graders in our school.  But still, she was on the brink.  Her unflinching sense of self knew she wasn’t supposed to cry, but the little girl inside her was struggling.

After lots of searching, no tooth was to be found.  I told her I’d write her mother a note about the tooth, that I’d even write the tooth fairy if she wanted me to.  Her little head nodded and she walked away.  My heart broke.

Sixty seconds later, she bounded back to my desk, tooth in hand.  She’d found the hidden gem on top of her desk.  (So much for crawling around on the floor in navy pants, bad knees and all.)  But it was all worth it…her face made it all worth it.

I read a wonderful quote this week:  “The soul is healed by being with children.” 

In the midst of everything…extended school days, test prep, rigid rules, lengthy forms and evaluations, unhappiness and grumbles, there are the children.  I can’t tell you how many times in the past few years I’ve wanted to quit.  I hate getting up at 5:30 every morning.  I hate picking out clothes for work and wrestling with my hair.  I despise the rush of mornings.  And then I get to work…and it’s rushed there too.  I just want to scream, “I’m done!”

But somehow I don’t, and the quote above says it all.  My soul is healed by their smiles and their words and their needs.  They need me and I can’t leave them just yet.

More quotes from the underbelly:

*We’re looking at pictures of American symbols.  We turn to find the Statue of Liberty, and a little fellow blurts out, “Is that God?”

*During math time, we had the addition problem 35-3 = _.  (The students are supposed to stand the problem up vertically then subtract.)  A little girl comes to me and says, “How do I do this one?  It’s going to take up all my fingers.”  Somehow I bit my tongue and didn’t respond, “And your toes and several strands of hair.”

*My sweet student from Egypt is picking up more and more English.  Now instead of saying  please toilet he’s up to, “Mrs. Rackley, please toilet.  Okay?”  Precious.

*We’ve been watching Frozen during snack time over the past few weeks.  One day the song Let it Go came on.  The girls started belting out the song, and I mean word for word, singing in their best ready for Broadway voices.  Hearing them sing like that sent chills across my skin.  It was so moving I almost cried.  Then I scanned the boys and they’re looking at the girls like they’re aliens.  One boy even had his ears covered.  So instead of crying, I laughed.

These kids are a hoot.

Instead of having a nice, normal Monday of learning and fun with these kids tomorrow,  we’re instead entering the torture chamber.  Achievement tests begin tomorrow.  Government mandated, cluelessly approved, so not appropriate for six and seven-year old children, tests.  On my honor, I will strive to take as much of the stress from them as I can but no matter what I do…bribe them with mints, stand on my head, feed them cookies afterwards, they still have to do the work.  I can’t do it for them.  My kiddos will have to sit for two hours a day and fill in bubbles to questions that may or may not be on their level.  As a teacher and a parent, I despise these tests.  Have you ever seen a child cry over a test when the teacher isn’t allowed to tell them a word?  I have.  Have you ever seen the panic in a student’s eyes when they realize the powers that be are trying to trick them with the answer choices?  I see it every year.  It makes me wonder if the creators of tests for children have ever had their souls healed by a child before?  If they have, I can’t help but believe they would never succumb such small children to such inappropriate measures.

To all the children and teachers and parents readying for the week ahead, my heart and head are with you.  We’re all in this together just in different rooms, in different counties,  in different states.  I pray these children rise above the stress and blossom, and I pray for the leadership of our schools and country.  I pray for awareness for what small children really are.  They are not robots or machines and they will not respond like one.  I pray that each unique child will be loved and appreciated for who they are…not for a number.  We are all different.  Not everyone will make a high score on their ACT.  Not everyone can be Valedictorian.  But I know this, everyone is here for a reason.  Everyone has a job to do somewhere on this earth.

For every child that has healed my soul, thank you.  Thank you for being you…just you.

Easter 2014

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What a weekend…what a blessing.  This weekend has been busy but so very good.  It was a weekend full of family, Wicked (the play and it was awesome), and Easter.  There has been more food than any one person should ever eat (and I’m already feeling guilty for stuffing myself), a daughter home from college, and my sister’s birthday.

I was blessed with a baby sister when I was two-and-a-half.  Even though we look like polar opposites, we’re really two peas in a pod.  We favor in ways only blood relations can favor – moods, quirks, mannerisms.  We are so much alike even though we look like night and day.  We celebrated my sister’s birthday today, and during the celebrations, I couldn’t help but think of the life we’ve shared.  Life wasn’t always easy for us growing up, and it has had its share of ups and downs as adults, but still….no matter what, absolutely no matter how bad or good things are or have been, we’ve always had each other.

Thing 1 and Thing 2.  We're actually the same height, too.  I think I had on heels that night.

Thing 1 and Thing 2. We’re actually the same height, too. I think I had on heels that night.

I am thankful for many things on this beautiful Easter Sunday, and my sister is one of them.  I’m so very thankful for all my family.  They make each day of life easier, more colorful, cherished, and filled.  I am blessed indeed.

The family...

The family…Easter 2014.