Time For A Change

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Change is hard…especially for people like me. People who like patterns and lists, people who believe in schedules and the comfort of sameness. I rarely move around the furniture in my house. I find a brand of make-up I like and stick with it for years. Changing cars or hairdressers or considering joining a new group at church can bring on an incredible, almost silly amount of discomfort.

Often reluctance to change equals doing nothing new. I recently read, “Doing nothing is an option.” You can choose to do absolutely nothing…that is a viable choice in life. Keep the status quo and rock on. Many times it’s a good alternative.

For me, I found that doing nothing was no longer an option. I’ve felt it coming for years, this need to mix up my career. After lots of prayers and a deep whisper in my heart that begged for something new, I knew it was time. So this spring, I began looking in earnest for a new position. With the backing and steady prodding of my friends and family, I sent letters of declaration, delivered applications, and even interviewed for the first time since I was 22 years old!  (Talk about leaving my comfort zone.)

Last week, and with great excitement, I was offered and accepted an interventionist position at my current school! For the first time in 22 (working) years, I will not have a homeroom. I know the work load will be different and heavy, but I am thrilled for the opportunity. With more excitement than fear, with more joy than nerves, I am ready for this. I know the time is right…it’s time to embrace a change.

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Mackinac Island Girls Trip 

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Sparkling blue water surrounded our tiny, plastic boats.  We bobbed on the waves while pockets of teal twinkled from the lake floor.  The sun was warm, a gentle wind blew.  It was a perfect snatch of time.

Anthony, our competent and utterly patient kayak guide, stayed close to me. I consistently brought up the rear in our group, and he made sure I was never left behind. During our conversations, he asked me why I kept returning to Mackinac Island…he wanted to know what brought me back to a place I live 746 miles from. I tried to explain…it was the calmness, the silence, the cleanliness of the cool air.  I told him I was just sort of drawn to it…that it stirs my soul like no other place I’ve ever known. Anthony grinned a knowing grin as he nodded and told me he understood those stirrings.

Arch Rock in the background.

I was lucky enough to get to visit my special place this summer with my sister and daughter. I introduced sis to an automobile free, lilac filled place with lots of bikes, horses and fudge (we especially loved that part). Daughter has been there before and already loves it like I do.  We biked, we ate and then ate some more.  We picnicked on the beach and we shopped.  We gawked at massive summer homes and took in the panoramic views.  But mostly, we were just together.


The only downside to our trip was when my car, Brown Betty, bit the dust in Indianapolis (all of my cars are named Betty with the corresponding color word)…and she bit it hard. There were no injuries so all is well. A sweet girl asked, “Did it ruin your trip?” The answer was a resounding no. Yes, it was a scary moment but it will not erase the fun we had.  I’ll not let it mar the special memories we made together. I’m blessed to have spent time with two women who mean the world to me. We shared a special time, one I know we’ll never forget. Bumps in the road only make me realize (even more) how blessed I am to have them in my life each and every day.

The Grand Hotel porch

Our bikes

Mommy – Daughter

The Grand Hotel – the day started off cold but by early afternoon we were changing into shorts.

Since there are no cars on the island, bikes are used for lots of things. This one belonged to a home repair crew.

Everywhere you looked, flowers bloomed.  Still springtime there, irises stood tall, tulips had just begun to fade away, and peony blossoms were seconds away from bursting open.  The wildflowers lining the roads were incredible…every flower, no matter the color, was incredible. 

 

Summer So Far

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“What have you been doing so far this summer?” they ask gleefully. I know I’m supposed to answer just as happily – something like, “Oh you know, getting massages and pedis, sleeping til noon (not).” The truth is I’ve been doing stuff like this…

Dealing with a bathroom remodel (that is going to be awesome when it’s done)…

And a new puppy who was very sick at first and now needs potty training…

And this…having the downstairs shower tiled…

And this…an unhealthy unit that wants to freeze up at night…

Taking care of my flowers…

But mostly this…counting down the days until vacation! 

An unusual summer so far but honestly, is there any kind of bad summer break? Not for me! (And I bet not for anybody lucky enough to have summers off.) So how’s your summer going so far? Same as usual, busy, nutty or a little mixture of it all?  

Goodbye Little Ones

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Another year over, another year of school in the books.  I’m proud to say we all survived the year with no broken bones, very little wha-whaing, and hopefully some growth.  I know they grew in all the ways that matter…self-control, kindness, love – and maybe if we’re lucky and the stars aligned just right, some academic growth too.

I’ll miss this bunch, no doubt.  Quirky, smart, little math whizzes, and funny, so funny.  Best of all, they always followed rule number 6 – keep your teacher happy!  I’ll miss their eagerness and numerous hugs. 

And yes, sometimes I raise my voice. Bless him that he never noticed!

One more funny to start off summer break.  Little bit was writing about whales and how to protect them…not sure what she was going for.  Sometimes you just have to roll with it!

Children and Mothers

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A day at the park.  A day watching 150 first graders crawl, run, shimmy over equipment. Your eyes never stop scanning.  Your heart never stops praying that no one breaks an arm. And a symphony of teacher voices churn, “Please don’t crawl on the outside of the slide. Don’t blow bubbles in someone’s face.  Get out of the ants!  Pick up your own trash when you drop it.  Please be nice and play with everyone.  If you don’t have something nice to say, then don’t say anything at all.  Have a seat under that tree until you can control yourself.”

I watch the kids as they play.  I study how some play with everyone while others are loners.  Even the loners have fun and smile.  They all play well, relishing the freedom of being out of the classroom for the day.  They relish the freedom of being out from under my hovering thumb.

I study these children knowing some are neglected, some are spoiled beyond anything that’s healthy or normal. I see little faces that have no problem being alone because that’s all they know, and then there are others that need my reassurance from time to time.  Too much freedom leaves them feeling detached and disconnected.  They run up for a hug and then are back off into the fray.

I see my own children in the mix, my two babies who are no longer babies, who are now young adults.  I wonder as I study the needy and spoiled…did I do that to my own?  Did I cripple them?  Make them believe they were the only children on the planet?  Or were my children the ones who ran with unabandoned freedom over every square inch of the park? Were my children the ones who played nicely, including others, or were mine the loners who needed only nature and a swing as their friend?

Raising people is the hardest job on Earth.  Every parent knows this. Raising a child is scary and tough and full of so many ways to screw up another human.  During my tenure in teaching, I’ve met every kind of parent there is…the smothers who watch every second, the disconnected who use electronics as babysitters, the neglectful, the devoted, the ‘I’m doing my best but this hard…can you help me?’

I’ve seen glimpses of myself in all of them.  Every parent, even the best or the worst parent, can fall into or climb out of each scenario.  It’s a given that we’re all going to fail at times, but it’s also a given that we all have the capability to stand back up and keep on loving our children even when we’re tired, or mad at them, or when our hearts hurt so bad we think we can’t do another day of this thing called child rearing.

A wise woman told me once…never give up, never quit loving your kids, never think this moment in time will define them for the rest of their lives.  So I’ve never given up, and I try not to spoil too much, I try to show them that this world is a huge, wonderful place and they are not the center of that world.  I try to teach them to be kind, to be fair.

But still…I look at the little ones swarming the park like ants and I can’t help but wonder…did I do all I could?  What could I have done to stop the mistakes?  But then those mistakes are life, those mistakes remind me that the world is not all about me and my comfort.  I am a mother, and being a mother is hard.  I will keep on being a mother until my last breath because for good, bad or ugly, that’s what a mother is supposed to do.

To my children…I will never stay out of your business, not really. I will love you no matter what, even if I have to kick your bootie while I’m doing it.  I will never give up on you, even when I’m mad and my heart hurts.  I’m sorry for the screw-ups and unfortunately, I’ll probably screw up again. But most of all, I will never quit praying for you. I will pray every day for guidance, for you to find your path in this world, for you to yearn for God as He yearns for you.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the moms in the world, to all the dads and grannys and aunts who are filling that role. Happy Mother’s Day to my mothers in heaven…you all are missed every single day.

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July 1990

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Mother’s Day 1999

 

Purple Rain

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If losing Glenn Frey from the Eagles was losing a piece of the soundtrack of my youth, then losing Prince is losing a piece of the soundtrack of my adolescence.  And what an adolescence it was.  We came into age in the 80’s…a time of pop music, tight-rolled jeans, neon colors, jelly shoes and hot cars with t-tops.  We had really big hair and really long mullets, high-top Reeboks and Coca-Cola shirts.  There were no cellphones and no internet…we instead spent time with our friends, riding around, gathering in fields, going to ballgames, listening to music.  And Prince was there with us all providing the musical backdrop.

I discovered Prince in middle school…and to be honest, I had no idea what the lyrics of some of his songs really meant.  A friend of mine explained the lyrics of Little Red Corvette.  At 13, I was still really naive.  Prince’s lyrics could be racy and raw but his songs could also be an anthem, beautiful and moving. Either way, they ushered in the realities of the world for many of us.

Throughout middle school and high school, Prince always had popular music on the radio, and there weren’t many of us who didn’t listen to it.  As in over and over. We had cassettes…cassettes we would flip over to the other side or rewind to just the right spot to hear our favorite songs.

Somewhere around 1985, I fell head over heels in love.  My boyfriend and I spent so many hours riding around in his bright blue Firebird, t-tops out, music loud.  Prince had just released the Around the World in a Day album (very different from Purple Rain, by the way). We found the song Raspberry Beret and it became ours.  My sister said, “When I heard Prince died, I thought of you and Bill and summertime.”  That was us in that Firebird…me, Bill, summertime and Prince.

It’s hard losing a chunk of my life’s soundtrack.  With each song, each piece of rhythm or scream of the guitar, a memory is attached…sudden, clear, vivid memories.  As odd as it may seem to some, it’s very emotional and it makes me really sad to lose the author of the music.  And I know other soundtrack providers will follow.  Loverboy can’t stay young forever…Def Leopard won’t live on for infinity…and it’s only a matter of time before Stevie Nicks, Janet Jackson, Lionel Richie, Blondie, Bon Jovi, Pat Benatar, and Madonna, just to name a few, slip away.

I told my daughter, “Prince was a bad-ass.”  (She’s 22 and old enough to hear it.)  At the moment, there was no other way for me to sum him up.  There weren’t enough words for me to express and explain just who he was.  Prince was cool, talented, beautiful, a bad-ass…and he will be missed.

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Messy Days

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“Mrs. Rackley…I was getting water and my shirt came up and he said the ‘s’ word to me.” “Shut up?” I ask hopefully.  “No…it’s a word from one of those romantic movies.”  Eek…not good, not good.  I finally ask what the word was.  “Sexy,” she whispers with disdain and a snarl of the nose.

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Our house is in an uproar these days.  The upstairs bathroom has been gutted.  Goodbye faded yellow tile and moldy porcelain tub.  Goodbye 5 foot high shower head (kind of hard for a 6’1″ boy to wash the hair).  In a few weeks time, we’ll have new stuff – so excited!

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Before…

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and after the yellow is gone.

We’re also having our driveway completely redone.  Because we waited so long to address it, they had to take it back down to gravel.  It’s a mess, and I found out today, that it is senseless to wash your car until the mess it gone.

All the mess and chaos sent my baby Layla into an utter meltdown.  In her bouts of freaking out, my dog somehow threw her back out.  Yes…seriously, she threw her back out attacking the workers.  Please remember she’s only 12 pounds, granted 12 pounds of rolling thunder, but she has the anxiety level of a full-grown human.  The vet gave her a cortisone shot and a muscle relaxer.  He tried to reassure me all small dogs can get like this…I have a feeling he was just trying to make a worried dog owner feel better!

Happy Easter

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The calendar says March 25.  Most everyone agrees so that is what I have to go with (even though March has been a blur).  Three weeks ago yesterday, I was diagnosed with the flu. Two days after that, I ended up in the hospital, a nurse telling me I was septic.  Countless fluids, two antibiotics, one unmentionable ailment that attacks women who take antibiotics, and I’m still coughing, still short of breath at times, and a little irritated that I don’t feel completely back to myself.  Still, each day finds me feeling better…and I’ll take it with a smile!

The second night, lying in that hospital bed, I finally got how people die from the flu. I’ve always been a major eye-roller at the severity of the illness. Take the Tamiflu, get lots of rest and fluids, and voila – all better!  Nope. Not even close.  I’m now a walking, talking PSA for getting your annual flu shot.  I’ll never miss one again.

While I was down and out, spring rushed in.  More like blasted in.  In my tiny corner of the world, spring has sprung. Buttercups continue to blossom, forsythia bushes burst to life and have already begun to fade until next year.  Tiny leaves have already begun to sprout on the trees, and the battle with weeds has started.

But with spring comes such hope…such promise.  Spring reminds us all that everything old will become new again, that the cycle of life continues whether we’re active participants or not.  Spring reminds me that this world is not all there is. This place is truly just my temporary home.  Something warmer, steadier and even more beautiful than a spring morning in Tennessee awaits.  Even though I cherish my life now, when I hear the news on the T.V. or miss loved ones so badly it clogs my throat, I stop and remember…this is just temporary.  One day…one day soon there will be no more terrorists, no more pain, no more aging, no more disease…not where I’m going to live.

Happy Easter and Happy Spring to everyone.  I hope with each flower you see, each bud you encounter, with each bird you hear singing, you find your hope and are filled with peace only the true meaning of Easter can bring.

 

My son took this picture and sent it to me.  He told me I could use it for my blog.  So sweet that he even thought about my blog…he’s truly one of my blessings…along with his sister and daddy and my wonderful family.  They make this temporary home a blessing each and every day.

 

Many Easters ago.  I love it…they probably won’t!  How I miss little white Easter dresses and a snaggletooth smile!

 

Crayons and Tears

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Miss Sarah, my most excellent student teacher, left us today, ready for her next adventure. There were a few tears…and sobs from one little fellow. I’m taking Dr. Seuss to heart tonight:  I will not cry because it’s over – I will smile because it happened.  I’ve made a new, wonderful friend, and there’s nothing sad about that.

Here are a few goodbye letters from the children.  Nothing like first grade authors!

“You just might graduate!”

 

Last week, Miss Sarah read a great book to the students.

Afterwards, they wrote letters to the main character in the story and then gathered old crayons for her to melt. This is what she gave them today using those crayons. Our Miss Sarah will be missed!

Introverts – You Are Not Alone

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I accepted years ago that I am different, and honestly, I have no problem with it. I yearn for quiet, for home, for steady.  I find my greatest peace in silence, which is funny considering my job.  Being a teacher…well, there is no silence. Ever. Not ever…and if there is, you better figure out what’s going on.

For a very long time, I battled my oddness and wondered what was wrong with me.  I forced myself into uncomfortable situations and pretended to be someone I wasn’t. To say that was exhausting is an understatement.  And then…then one day I read a wonderful article on another blogger’s site about introverts and extroverts and people who fall somewhere in the middle of the two.  Of course I’d heard of it before…but honestly, I never paid a whole lot of attention to what it truly meant.

So, after that one day, that one article, I began accepting myself for exactly who I am.  I began saying no.  No excuses. No pretending.  But still, I felt alone.  Most of the time, I felt like I was the only homebody in the world.

Then this magical thing happened, and as much as Facebook annoys me most of the time, I found other introverts on the site.  I discovered that the world is full of people who thrive on reading and writing, who become whole again by having time to recover from the over-stimulation of the world by simply being at home.

In the past two weeks, I’ve also had two women…two strong, beautiful, competent, polite, active women…tell me that they battle with some of the same issues.  One talked about the panic she feels in certain situations, the other, her need to disconnect from the world after a long day at work.  Both of these incredible women also said that they felt alone…as if they were the only people feeling that way. I chuckled and told them to join my club.

It all had me wondering….

Does the stress of work and everyday life make our tendencies worse?  Do people become radically different due to the hardships of uncontrollable situations…like work, children, dealing with the public?  Do we have to have more silence to balance the scales?  (Or more action, for the extroverts, to balance the scales?)  OR would we simply be the way we are regardless of life’s situations?

For me, I know stress changes my ability to handle life.  Stress drains me like the sudden gushing of water going down a drain. It makes my introverted tendencies worse.  So, I refuel.  Each weekend, I do my best to recharge my soul so I can delve into another week. For me, there’s nothing like being home with my kids and hubby and our pets.  Nowhere else do I feel as safe and calm and comfortable.

What about you?  Do you feel better staying in or going out?  How do you refuel?

 

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Sums it up perfectly.